Archive for the Politics Category

Obligatory Phone Hacking Post

Posted in Journalism, News, Politics with tags , , on July 26, 2011 by pieman70

Yes, of course I’m going to comment on this.  I was going to talk about less important things but this has been very interesting indeed.

First, as always, this story has been covered better in the following blogs, Obsolete, Zelo Street, Angry Mob, Enemies of Reason, Bloggerheads and 5 Chinese Crackers, also worth reading is Flat Earth news by Nick Davies, who broke this story ages ago and has been doggedly persistent in trying to get this to the publics attention.

Ok, still here?

So, for those not paying attention, there was a Sunday tabloid called the News of the World owned by a big media baron called Rupert Murdoch.  Rupert owned a lot of media and was feared by politicians.  Reporters at the News of the world, in order to get celebrity stories, started hiring a private detective called Glen Mulchare to hack answerphones on the off-chance they contained juicy gossip.  This was pretty normal as most papers were involved in similar and indeed worse breaches of the law on fishing expeditions for gossip.  However it was discovered that said PI had hacked the phone of missing Teenager Milly Dowler, and had even deleted messages to listen to more messages of her desperate family begging her to come home.  This then opened a floodgate, 7/7 victims phones had been hacked, families of dead soldiers.  Terrible stuff, but for those who have read flat earth news, unsurprising.  What it did was cause enough public outcry to start a boycott of News of the World’s advertising causing News International to close the paper.

This sorry debacle finally brought into the open the true horror of our press.  Politicians had been scared to act against NI for fears of being attacked by their sizable media interests.  The Police were spiking stories and utterly failing to investigate illegal practices by newspapers in exchange for favourable coverage and a cosy relationship.  While phone hacking was the final trigger to get a proper review it wasn’t the only problem, the real issue was the influence of the press, of News international and the complicity of the police.  It also embarrassed many a politician on both sides as they had all been spotted enjoying the hospitality of News International’s summer garden party mere weeks previously.  David Cameron took a particularly hefty amount of flak for his close relationship with Rebekah Brooks and his hiring of Andy Coulson, not to mention his response was to try and hold back and see if the whole thing blew over, said NI papers currently being on his side.  It was not to be.

Those of us who have been fighting to get this in the open scored victories, the Arrest of Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks, the calling of Brooks and the Murdochs to a select committee.  Murdoch abandoning his bid to take over BSkyB, a move that was to be waived through by our compliant culture secretary Jeremy Hunt.  The lib-dems have managed to make some minor gains and Labour’s Tom Watson has shone.  Its been entertaining to say the least.  It seems that every sacrifice that Murdoch throws in teh hope of all this going away gets eaten up and teh hungry spectre of accountability merely asks for more.  Send down Andy… More, Shut Down the News of teh world…. More, Send down Rebekah… More, Ditch the BSkyB bid…. MORE

The prize however, is going to be a bit more difficult.  Already the Right Wing press are desperate to either paint this as a left vs right issue, with the Stalinist BBC trying to knock out the more efficient private NI.  It doesn’t help that Ed Milliband’s main attack is around Coulson, rather than the cosy media relationship.

What I want to see is some hefty reform.  The PCC has repeatedly shown itself as toothless.  The remaining right-wing papers, led by the Daily “Hooray for the Blackshirts” Mail are desperately trying to play this as a problem with NI, when they’re not playing it as a BBC plot, partly in the hope of occupying NI’s position if it is suitably weakened, and partly in the hope that once this blows over they can carry on as normal with no accountability.  Press reform is not in their interests.

The cry has been that Regulation will equal Censorship.  I disagree.  The regulation need not be state, but it also can’t be Self regulation.  That gave a system which favoured the press over the public and the “Fast Free and Fair” service the PCC claims only manages the “Free” part.

The goal of regulation is not Censorship.  In effect its quality control.  A newspaper is a business.  At the moment it is more profitable for a paper to publish an inaccurate story and apologise later than it is to spend money fact checking.  This must change.  I would propose a variety of options on the new regulator, the ability to impose fines, and in severe cases, to publish retractions in the same prominence and amount for inaccurate stories.  This would be a final sanction for a repeat offender (Say the smears relating to the first Jo Yates murder suspect, later found not guilty) Papers may complain that they can’t run a weeks worth of headlines and blanket coverage merely saying they were wrong.  I beg to differ, and the losses this will make, the missed headlines of current events will perhaps make a paper spend that little bit extra on research.  This would be a top end sanction (Others could include suspension of staff and suspension of issues, but the impact must be devastatingly financial)

It should be sometimes accepted that illegal acts may be required to reveal wrongdoing.  However fishing expeditions are not journalism.  If you hacked the voicemails of every MP there would almost certainly be a couple of juicy stories, but Journalist should have evidence before they resort to lawbreaking.  The definition of public interest should also be tightened up.  Celeb shag’n’tell stories may interest the public, but they are not in the public interest.  Knocking these out of the news may force the press to up their game.

We should also look at media ownership, no one owner or company should own so much of our media.  This should limit the influence of any one company.

We should also be able to read reports of meetings between politicians and the owners of companies (Any company) in fact Lobbying as a whole should be much more transparent.

I think what would really help is a cultural change.  The old rule in news, that Dog does not bite Dog meant that those who supposedly hold the powerful to account turned a blind eye at their own wrongdoing.  Perhaps Dog should eat Dog in this case.

Scottish Elections: Results and Fallout

Posted in Election, Government, Labour, Lib-Dems, Politics, Scotland, SNP, Tories with tags , , , , , , , on May 30, 2011 by pieman70

Well, the elections are over, over for quite some time, but I wanted to see the fallout of the campaigns before posting, honest.

So, for those who weren’t watching, it was an unprecidented result, in a parliament with a voting system specifically designed to stop any party achieving a majority, with the express goal of keeping the SNP out and an independence vote off the table, the SNP have won the first majority government in Scotland.  Yes, Scotland currently has a government that can be absolutely secure in the fact that it has a mandate from the majority of voters, that’s PR for you.

While the collapse of the Lib-Dem vote helped, with most of their voters clearly turning to the Nats, they also made massive inroads into common Labour safe seats.  The response from the Labour side has varied in the blogosphere.  There was denial, particularly during the election, where Labour were convinced it was merely the Lib-Dem swing, despite loosing safe seats to the SNP, or as seen here, Denial mixed with a shrill terror that the Evil Nationalists are re-building Hadrian’s wall as we speak.  Or here, where they blame the Tories for their loss.

Fortunately, most of the other blogs have correctly started looking inward for the reasons of Labours Defeat.

Part of it had to be the woeful negative campaign.  Put simply it appeared Labour were confident Scotland would sharpen up from its little dalliance with a party that wasn’t them now the Tories were in and all they really needed to do was sit back, make some comments about how terrible the Tories were and the voters would flood back.  It highlights a basic flaw in Labours general national plans so far.  In effect labour are working on the principle that they will win the next election through the virtue of not being the Tories.  That is so far the entirety of their case.  Scotland should be a wake up call that this is not nearly enough.

The other interesting point was Labour’s inability to fight on the Centre left, uncommon in westminster elections where they merely have to fight for the same few swing seats against the Tories, but more common in Scotland.  Furthermore, it shows how Labour still take their working class vote for granted, and they shouldn’t since they are seeking out alternatives as it sinks in that Labour no longer represent them.  Hopefully this will be a kick up the behind for Labour, however so far the party has been pretty quiet.

So, independence, will it happen.  I know a few nationalists (Hell, I’m married to one) and most of them think it won’t happen.  I have to agree, I don’t think there is the appetite.  However, the opposition parties should not think that a loss on an independence referendum will mean the end of the SNP.  A lost referendum will actually show that people clearly liked the SNP’s policys despite the independence issue rather than because of it, and Labour really should be looking at that side of the SNP and learning.

As for the SNP, the training wheels are off, no more excuses this time, no minority status to fall back on and the “It’s Westminster’s fault” argument will grow tired if its wheeled out repeatedly.  Interesting times indeed.

The AV Referendum

Posted in AV, Electoral Reform, Lib-Dems, Politics, Tories with tags , , , , on March 3, 2011 by pieman70

If anything should show you that the lib-dems are being royally screwed in this coalition it is the AlternativeVote (AV) referendum.  A Key Lib-Dem policy has always been the introduction of Proportional Representation (PR) to our electoral system.  When the horse trading of the current coalition was going forward the two offers regarding vote reform on the table were a referendum on adopting the AV system from the Tories and an automatic adoption of AV with a referendum on a more proportional system from Labour.  Obviously there was more on the table because based on the voting reform issue the labour offer was definitely better.  Indeed one of the arguments used by many key Tories against AV is that it is not proportional, so they put AV and only AV on the table, then slam the only alternative they offer as not proportional, and indeed AV wasn’t a lib-Dem policy.

The problem is, AV isn’t a proportional system, its better than First past the post, not much but a bit, in the way that a candidate must have attracted over 50% of votes, albeit second and third preferences, to win their seat.  This is an important step since at the last election nearly two thirds of MPs were elected with the endorsement of less than 50% of their voting constituents.  Still, the problem remains, for all of us who wanted voting reform AV isn’t really what we wanted, indeed Nick Clegg himself had made some speeches about how poor a system AV is.

The problem here is that the vote isn’t for anything as simple as whether we want AV or not, both sides are reading more into it.  Bearing in mind the referendum paper will have a simple Yes/No option on it what will be read into the votes is entirely different.

First, a “Yes” vote, on the basic level really means you would like AV implemented, but doe sit, it could also mean you dislike FPTP and would like further reform.  This is definitely the view of many of the Yes campaign’s supporters, the fear obviously is that future governments will still argue that no-one wants a proportional system, and that they wanted AV.  Similarly someone opposed to PR may prefer AV but will fear this as the thin end of a PR wedge.  I believe most of those voting Yes would really prefer the referendum to be worded “Would you like to get rid of FPTP?” as opposed to “Would you like the AV system?”

This leads to the problem of what a “No” vote is read as.  To some voters it may be simply they do not like AV as a system, preferring something like the Single Transferable Vote or some other system that is not on the table.  However, “No” voters should be aware, your vote will be read by those in charge as a vote in support of FPTP and the status quo of safe seats and of big majorities hammering legislation through parliament with your only say being once every 5 years.

This is the biggest dilemma in the floating referendum voter; they don’t like FPTP, but don’t really like AV either, and don’t really like the idea of endorsing either system.  However, this is the first time in my 31 years of life that voting reform has ever been on the table, if the No campaign succeeds I expect at least a further 30 years until another chance presents itself.  This is our opportunity to show that there is an appetite for a change to our politics and indeed possibly for further change, so I will be Voting Yes in the Referendum.

My Yes vote does mainly originate from wanting rid of FPTP, however the quality of arguments from the “No” camp has been poor, be it lying about the cost of the voting system (Vote “No” or the baby gets it) or rather bizarrely combining criticisms that because it is sort of proportional more extremist parties like the BNP will get in (Yes, they trot out the BNP Bogeyman, read that as Vote No or you get the BNP) with criticisms that it isn’t really proportional at all.  Effectively, see argument 1 if you are anti PR, argument 2 if you are Pro, please for our convenience don’t read them both.  Finally they argue that AV will cause more coalitions and unaccountable back room dealing (Unlike what FPTP did in 2010) despite the fact that Australia uses AV and has had fewer coalitions that the UK.  In fact an Australian Politician wrote an open letter to correct all the No campaigns inaccurate statements about AV because of the levels of inaccuracy in the campaigns website.

In the interests of balance, here is the website for the No Campaign, and here is the Yes where they pretty much destroy every argument in the No campaign.  Guess that’s what they get putting the person in charge of the Tax Payers Alliance in charge of their campaign.  Also you can check you are registered to vote here.

 

 

The Problem with Labour

Posted in Coalition, Government, Idiocy, Labour, Lib-Dems, Politics, Tories with tags , , , , , on November 11, 2010 by pieman70

You may be asking why I’m having a pop at labour, surely with the cuts announced and whatnot I should be going at the Tories.  Only its been done better by better folk.  I recommend a look at Obsolete and Liberal Conspiracy for good arguments against the cuts.

Nope, I’m having a pop at Labour because, not counting the Lib-Dems (And I suspect we have many years of not counting the Lib-Dems consider the damage this coalition is doing to their reputation, ho-ho, political humour) is that like it or not (And I don’t) they are the best credible opposition to the cuts, and the most likely alternative to play the “Big” party in a future coalition (Should we get a fairer voting system)

It looked promising when Ed Milliband beat his brother in the party leaders election, the Tabloid and Tory spin that he was a puppet for the unions and the “Red Ed” moniker seemed like tired old jibes and really weren’t sticking. (In fact my Union backed Diane Abbott, guess more of its members who didn’t tick the box to stop contributions to Labour disagreed.)

Ed made a good start, namely by saying the Iraq war was a mistake.  That made me sit up I can tell you.  I thought this was a turning point, they might now start admitting that not everything Blair did was fantastic and right.  I think Blair did some things right, minimum wage for one, but it seems like the Blairites in the Labour party don’t like to hear any word against anything he did, and he made some howlers.  There was the Iraq war, draconian terror legislation, idiotic and costly Public Private Partnerships, I could go on.  In fact one of the worst policys was removing student grants and introducing tuition fees.  A bad policy in general, and hypocritical considering it was passed by those who had more of their education paid for by the state than any subsequent generation.

The problem with the introduction of fees was that it removed a taboo, Thatcher was too scared to go near free education but now the taboo has been removed the increases proposed by the coalition are merely bartering over how much.  Worse, unless they admit that the policy, which may have seemed right for the time, was a mistake, then Labour look hypocritical for opposing increases, since critics can simply stump any labour minister by asking if they think fees are a bad idea.

Sadly, I see a lot in the Post Brown Labour Party that I saw in the Post Major Conservatives.  back in 1992 many Tories were looking back at the Thatcher years with nostalgia.  In those days the Tories were looking for a new Thatcher, or at least a thatcherite to regain the heydays of that era, not realising that Thatcherism had been rejected by the electorate as much as Major’s government.  The same now stands for Labour, the Blairites get snippy if anyone dares say that anything King Tony did was a bad idea.  This is unhealthy, again they blame Gordon Brown for Labour’s defeat, but people were as tired of Blair before Brown came in.  Just as people didn’t vote out the Tories because they weren’t Thatcherite enough, they didn’t vote out Labour because they weren’t Blairite enough.  Quite frankly this factioning has to end and sadly a leader can’t end it, instead the party itself has to choose to put these things aside.  They can’t really effectively oppose Coalition policy when it so closely matches much of the Blairite policy of the past.  The party needs to cleanse itself of the bad parts of Blair and brown.

Sadly at the moment it looks like they’ll go down the path of the Tories, at the moment the Political party has decided to rebel against the expulsion of ex-immigration minister Phil Woolas.  It is covered very well at Obsolete, Liberal Conspiracy and Enemies of Reason.  Some of the party have decided to defend this man, the man who sang from the Daily Mail’s hymsheet during his tenure as Immigration minister and who chose to use false information against his nearest rival combined with the worst form of dog whistle racism.  He has been rightly punished by the law for his illegal conduct, but instead of doing what the party leaders have done and quite rightly rid themselves of this liability some have risen to defend him, why?  Loyalty? more likely because he is one of “theirs” and they protect their own.  If this is what the Parliamentary Labour party is rebelling over then we are surely doomed to a minimum of 10 years of tory governance.

Looking for savings in all the wrong places

Posted in Coalition, Government, Politics, Recession, Spin, Tories with tags , , , , on September 12, 2010 by pieman70

Surprisingly, we didn’t see the real extent of the coalition’s plans for budget reduction during the budget.  In fact it’s been an ongoing series of small announcements that has shown the full extent of the cuts that they propose.

Much has been written (And very well written) in other places regarding whether these cuts are even necessary, and at base many of them have a point.  It is ideological from the Tory side to reduce the size of the state and favour the private sector.  My problem is that this ideological crusade for “Small state” is blinkering them to better ways at promoting recovery and saving money.

I’m going to try and stay off the “Evil Tory” narrative and portray this purely as how I see it, bearing in mind that I’m an engineer not an economist.

During the election campaign Cameron talked about reducing council wastage, seemingly a war on glossy leaflets and expensive police cars.  (The police car story in question was pretty well debunked) At the time I wondered if there were really enough savings in this area to hack chunks out of the deficit.  Now, I understand every little helps, but, like the police car story I think much of this has been based on a perception of reality rather than reality, namely that councils are full of jobsworths who haemorrhage money in pointless projects.  No where is this clearer than in Eric Pickles recent idiotic crusade against “Unnecessary” road signs.  There he was, on BBC breakfast wondering around London pointing at signs asking “Why is that there” or declaring “That’s totally pointless”.  As I said previously, I’m an engineer not an economist, and so as an engineer who has studied highway engineering I can tell Mr Pickles that the road signs are there for one of two reasons, first, and by far the most prominent will be because the signs presence is stated in the Design manual for Roads and Bridges, which states, amongst many other things, what signs must be placed where and at what intervals.  As the representative of the council said on the same BBC breakfast news, if a sign warning of a speed limit or parking restriction isn’t where it is legally prescribed then enforcement of any charges there is impossible.  The second reason is that there has been a reported need for such signage, this could be questioned but is quite often borne out of accident black spots, say a one way street which is hard to identify, may well have increased signage.  The only other signs are ones directing you to places.  Now here’s a wee contrast.  Drive through Glasgow, particularly the south side, not many road signs; now try to find the M8, The science centre or the Burrel collection.  All are badly signposted with some roundabouts being completely unsigned.  Compare this with Dundee, loads of sign posts but finding your way around is easy as signs are placed in advance of turnoffs allowing you to find lanes etc.  I did laugh when the council official challenged Eric Pickles to take a trip around his borough with a camera crew and point out what signs he thought were surplus to requirements and the council official would explain why it was there.  Sadly I fear that uninformed blowhards making opinionated judgements will be a sad hallmark of the coalition’s cuts.

The second place where “Wastage” will be cut from the public sector is in staff.  This is based around the narrative that public services are filled to the gunnels with “non Jobs” and that this was a handy way for Labour to appear to reduce unemployment figures.  This approach has two problems.

First, assuming that the staff cuts are these non-jobs, and I accept some of these do exist, although like the savings Cameron said he could get from glossy leaflets I suspect far fewer than are needed to make the numbers talked about, the government is going to be paying these people one way or another, they might as well be recouping some of the money as tax, be it income, NI, VAT or any other tax.  Cutting their jobs means you pay less, but both government and the private sector get less out of them in the long run.  Still at least this one I would concede is arguable and depends on your opinion.

When asked about cuts it is always stated to come from wasteful “Backroom” posts, to you or me this means, admin.  I’ve previously posted on how underappreciated admin staff are, and this is the same thing writ large.  The Coalition is sadly filled with managers, they’ve never done admin, and they don’t understand it or indeed see the point of it.  Whenever admin is being cut anywhere what you have to remember is it needs to be done.  An administrator will do it efficiently, sack the administrator and suddenly doctors, engineers, managers and everyone else has to cover that work.  It means either record keeping becomes sloppy, and this can have serious consequences, or that the people covering admin have less time to do their actual job.  Either work falls behind causing problems or more expensive professionals have to be hired to balance the workload of a relatively cheap administrator.

The third is the daily mail favourite, Benefit fraudsters.  Yes the damnable scroungers who take from taxpayers like you and me to buy their big tellies and tasteless trainers.  Now I’m not a fan of benefit fraudsters, ideally I would like to see them all stopped, but is it really as big a problem as something like Tax evasion.  Well, financially speaking benefit fraud costs us around 1.6bn, quite a bit (I won’t go into the 5bn odd bandied about which actually lumped in errors) tax evasion, and this is evasion rather than all the people doing perfectly legal avoidance, is worth 15bn in unpaid taxes.  So, if you were looking for some quick cash and wanted a group to pursue, which would you pick.  I don’t buy the argument that tax evaders are harder to catch; the actual hardcore fraudsters are every bit as skilled as the accountants working for tax evaders.  I would guess that going after “Scroungers” is a good headline grabber when in reality all that will happen is more difficulty and pressure on legitimate claimants, after all they provide details and so are the easy target.  In fact they recently told the FT that they should be less black and white on tax evasion, could you imagine the uproar if someone said that about benefit fraud.  It would definitely be a better use of scarce resources to go after tax evaders and closing tax avoidance loopholes.  I did like some of the suggestions on the spending challenge website.  These included anyone involved in UK politics or the running of the country must be a taxpayer, and anyone running any news media in the UK must also be a taxpayer.  Can’t see why either of these would be unpopular with the public so I expect to see these go ahead soon, unless Mr Osborne can come up with a reason why not.

The final miss-step I will look at is the seemingly ever-present thought that farming things out to the private sector will always save money.  This is one of the places where the Tory Private Sector good, public bad dogma rears its ugly head.  They won’t consider, despite the evidence to the contrary, that privatisation is not always the answer.  At a basic level it seems simple; you pay a company to undertake running a utility or service at an agreed cost.  The up side is that the company may well already have staff on its payroll and an admin department to save the trouble of running one yourself.  Also, private companies have to make a profit and so will run at maximum efficiency.  This assumes that public run organisations can not run efficiently because of the lack of a profit motive.  While I would agree that many don’t I reject this.  There is no reason why a non profit public utility can’t run as efficiently as a profit chasing company.  Particularly undertaking public services.

Second problem, regulation.  If you take anything out of public ownership it requires independent regulators (Public run organisations are regulated by govt departments) which equals expensive Quangos.  Sadly this is directly tied to the profit motive mentioned earlier.  Regulators are required to ensure private firms provide the contracted services to the agreed standard.  Without regulation the government would be faced with constantly pursuing companies for breach of contract, and anyone following the Edinburgh trams farce can see how easy that is.  Or indeed, to take the example of the East Coast train provider Stagecoach, there came a point where the fines for reneging on their contract were less than the losses they were incurring on running the service.  This was in a regulated industry and net result was government having to take back control, effectively paying for the running of East Coast trains twice.  I suspect that the same thing will happen when Connaught finally fail.

I hope this hasn’t come across as Tory bashing; my problem is that the coalition is trying to solve a huge problem by only considering the world through their narrow ideology.  It is blinding them to other solutions and that can only be a bad thing.  It’s never good whey party dogma interferes with dealing with a problem.  George Osborne has recently said that he wants to see £4 public sector cuts for every £1 tax rise and what occurred to me is that he wouldn’t even consider that the other way around.

The Mantra

Posted in Lib-Dems, Politics, Recession, Spin, Tories with tags , , , , on August 15, 2010 by pieman70

No posts for a bit, been busy apologies to both my readers.

Our coalition government has now been running things for a few months now, and when I get round to it there will be a post about that, but it’s not what I’m going to talk about today.

There are two untruths that are being repeated by the government, one is by both parties in the coalition and one is by the Tories principally.  Untruths is perhaps a harsh word but it has the feeling of repeating an interpretation of events enough to make people believe it.  So far at least question time audiences aren’t convinced.

First, what I call The Mantra

Every time cuts, economic uncertainty and recession are mentioned, particularly when the con-dems are coming under fire for enacting the Tory dream of small state under the auspices of austerity measures they repeat the same thing.  We’re in this mess because Labour spent all the money on an unweildly large state.  Keep an ear out, you’ll hear it next time cuts are mentioned within earshot of one of the coalition.

I might be remembering wrong, but isn’t our current economic state due to a global financial collapse caused by investment banks trading in toxic debt and making very risky investments for short-term gain, resulting in the treasury having to pay billions to bail out banks?  Now, I grant if Labour had properly adhered to the Keynesian plan we should have had a surplus to deal with the inevitable recession and their state was getting pretty big, but the cause, no that was bad banking practice.  In fact it was bad banking practice that has largely gone unchanged.  The pain has not been felt in investment, due to that fun sub-myth that all our bankers will run off to more relaxed governments if we make things too hard for them.  this is rubbish too, lets face it, they’re not keen to leave London unless it’s for somewhere like Switzerland or the nicer tax havens.  And anyone who can go there was offered during the times of plenty, these places are not short on bankers.

Labour is getting it from the coalition for two reasons, the first is simple, The Tories and lib-dems stand to be really unpopular for some of the measures that need to be taken, trying to pass some of that buck to the previous administration is just politics.  The other is far more Tory.  Many Tories are bankers, or heavily linked to banks.  Quite frankly it suits them to cover for their mates, after all favours and tips not to mention cushy jobs post government will be harder to come by if you pointed out your benefactors as the cause of all our woes.  It also fits the Tory line that “Big State” caused all the problems not private enterprise.  We’ll see if this little bit of misinformation takes root.

Second, The Tories have a Mandate from the people.

We hear this a lot, the Tories are still trying to claim some sort of Victory from the Election (An Election that no-one one, let’s make that clear) because their guy is in No 10.  The only policies the Tories can claim a mandate from are the ones they shared in election manifestos with the Lib Dems, anything else over 60% of the population actually said they didn’t want.  So, massive cuts, nope,.  Big society, no, repeal of fox-hunting, think not, Dismantling the BBC, was that in anyone’s manifesto?  Youd o hear Tories occasionally trying to claim victory, seemingly in the hope that we’ll believe it and assume someone voted for this pap, or indeed that they’re allowed to do this because they’re in charge.  Its worth reminding them this si not the case, more importantly, if your MP is an apologist, sorry Lib-Dem, make a noise, remind them that you and 60% of the population voted against this.

There are other little falsehoods being planted with the hope that they become accepted fact.  I’m keeping an eye out for them and will try to blog about them when I can.

Strange Bedfellows

Posted in Politics with tags on May 25, 2010 by pieman70

I was going to try and cut down my political blogging to make way form more SF/Comic/general nerdyness but the coalition government looks like it’s going to be churning out some interesting stuff for the next few years and so I will probably continue to comment on politics issues despite others doing it far better than myself.  Don’t panic, there will also be more geeky goodness to come.

So, some interesting observations on our new government.  First and foremost, as a sandal wearing muesli munching lefty it’s been quite funny to see the abject fury of many Tories that they don’t have a government all to themselves.  For some reason they seem to believe that because they voted Conservative they are owed a conservative government, despite more people voting for someone else.  Still, the party whose ideals clearly didn’t suit over 60% of the population are more or less in charge and surely that’s better than nothing for all the Tories out there?  No?  Well tough.

I’ve been drawing a parallel with 1997 regarding the Tories.  In 1997 when New Labour was looking ever more distant to its socialist origins I often asked “old School” labour supporters how they could follow a party who had ditched much of what they stood for.  “Ah” said the old labour supporter, adjusting his flat cap and sipping a half of mild (That bit probably isn’t true) “They’re just doing that to get in, you know, get it past the middle classes, once they’re elected Blair and his lot will be out and the old labourites will take over again” I wondered about the fairness of this, but since what you see on the manifesto is rarely what you get I let it lie.  Of course, it came as no surprise to me that the party who won as New Labour indeed ruled as New labour, but the old trots must have been shocked when no one wanted to support a leadership coup on the guy who had won such a landslide.  There is a difference in the Tory party, but it has similar echoes.  Obviously for starters they didn’t have a landslide, or indeed a majority, although it seems many people think they still are owed their time in charge regardless of the election results, the opinions of Tory voters clearly, in their minds, outweighing everyone else.  Second is the shock that the party hasn’t dumped all that compassionate stuff they mentioned while trying to be elected.  What’s even more fun is that the wingnut hard right thatcherite contingent believe that Cameron lost the election (Open for discussion) and that if the party had been in full on Thatcherism mode then it would have been in the bag, where the percentage of votes and indeed seats really doesn’t reflect this.  Do they believe that the many Labour and Lib-Dem voters didn’t vote Conservative because it wasn’t right wing enough? Or do they think that they could have won more votes off of UKIP and the BNP? Or perhaps are they more deluded than the old trots in ’97, not just believing that the party will do an about face but that people decided to vote the polar opposite to their way of thinking simply because it wasn’t available.

The Coalition itself is interesting as well.  Both parties have risk and reward in equal measure.  The Lib-Dems get a better chance than they would have in opposition to enact their policies, they can claim experience in government to quash the old argument hat they are “inexperienced” and finally, they can show a coalition works, important if you’re trying to sell PR to a public whoa re told by our dear press that coalitions are two steps away from anarchy.  They risk loosing votes to Labour (Depending on how it reforms post defeat) through being seen to side with “The Enemy”  I’ll be particularly interested to see how much ground Labour and the SNP take in the Scottish parliament elections.  Second, this will be a bad few years with heavy cuts and a very good chance of increasing unemployment.  This double whammy may kill the Lib-Dems next election, or should they have things turned round in 5 years (Assuming it lasts) will they gain ground.  Meanwhile the Tories get to be in the driving seat of Government, Dave gets to be PM and they are definitely the controlling stakeholder.  They also get to pass some of the blame for the coming painful years on to the Lib-Dems, effectively meaning only one big party can capitalise from these intervening years.  It’s also been very useful for Cameron, he can blame the ditching of many of the more wingnut Tory policies on the necessity to get the lib-dems on board, where, from what the scuttlebutt has been saying, the negotiators were asking for the lib-dems to demand concessions.  They risk a party split over this, with the “Wets” and Lib Dems on one side, and the Thatcherites on the other.  This could be a very damaging split.

Cameron has played this incredibly well though, kudos to the man (Still don’t like him but I’m man enough to say when someone’s impressed me) the increased 55% for a no-confidence vote should keep the coalition stable, and in fact I’d suggest to Labour MPs to make sure it stays, you can rest easy in opposition while the coalition doles out cut after cut, and foster even more division and resentment in the Tory party.  Second, the fixed term, with any luck they’ll get a couple of years of recovery, important to salve the wounds of the oncoming cuts, but they need time to blot the memory of the hard years, plus it makes both parties look like they want fixed terms.

Overall, interesting times for those of us who consider politics like sport.