ModernityBlog

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Posts Tagged ‘Tories

O’Grady On The Tories.

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Paul O’Grady sums up what many people think of the Tories:

For deeper analysis see Paul Krugman’s piece in the New York Times:

“No widespread fad ever passes, however, without leaving some fashion victims in its wake. In this case, the victims are the people of Britain, who have the misfortune to be ruled by a government that took office at the height of the austerity fad and won’t admit that it was wrong.

Britain, like America, is suffering from the aftermath of a housing and debt bubble. Its problems are compounded by London’s role as an international financial center: Britain came to rely too much on profits from wheeling and dealing to drive its economy — and on financial-industry tax payments to pay for government programs.

Over-reliance on the financial industry largely explains why Britain, which came into the crisis with relatively low public debt, has seen its budget deficit soar to 11 percent of G.D.P. — slightly worse than the U.S. deficit. And there’s no question that Britain will eventually need to balance its books with spending cuts and tax increases.

The operative word here should, however, be “eventually.” Fiscal austerity will depress the economy further unless it can be offset by a fall in interest rates. Right now, interest rates in Britain, as in America, are already very low, with little room to fall further. The sensible thing, then, is to devise a plan for putting the nation’s fiscal house in order, while waiting until a solid economic recovery is under way before wielding the ax.

But trendy fashion, almost by definition, isn’t sensible — and the British government seems determined to ignore the lessons of history.

Both the new British budget announced on Wednesday and the rhetoric that accompanied the announcement might have come straight from the desk of Andrew Mellon, the Treasury secretary who told President Herbert Hoover to fight the Depression by liquidating the farmers, liquidating the workers, and driving down wages. Or if you prefer more British precedents, it echoes the Snowden budget of 1931, which tried to restore confidence but ended up deepening the economic crisis.”

(H/T: Stroppy)

Written by modernityblog

25/10/2010 at 23:22

Milk Snatching And The Nasty Party.

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There is a very common tactic in politics, if something is moderately controversial then the political party will normally get a junior politician or official to float the idea and see how people react.

If there is sizeable public opposition to the particular idea being floated then the political party can back off or simply claim it was an intemperate remark and not really their true view on the subject.

So it is with Anne Milton’s propose removal of free milk for under fives.

Whilst it might seem uncontroversial to American or European readers the idea of taking milk from the mouths of very young children has a certain resonance with public consciousness in Britain.

For many years Margaret Thatcher, who actually did take the milk away, was labelled the Milk Snatcher, and rightly so.

Even Cameron’s only perceptible skill, PR, let him down in this instance and people are coming to realise that beneath the woolly words, shades of Blairism and talk of the “Big Society” lingers the Nasty Party, just waiting to get out.

Update 1: This is Anne Milton’s letter:

“I am writing to you about our proposals to abolish the long-standing statutory Nursery Milk scheme, which is Great Britain-wide, by April 2011.

There is no evidence that it improves the health of very young children yet the cost of delivering it is increasing significantly, almost doubling in the last five years.

This year, I expect milk provided through the scheme in England to cost us almost £50m – rising to £59m in 2011/12.

It does not provide value for money in difficult times and has become increasingly outdated.

The scheme is the only remaining part of what was known as the Welfare Food Scheme, which was first introduced in 1940 to protect all pregnant women and young children against wartime food shortages.

Over time, the major part of the scheme (milk and infant milk tokens) became means-tested and replaced with Healthy Start.

However, the provision of a free daily drink of milk to any child under five in childcare through the scheme has remained.

As a universal intervention, we think the scheme is out of step with the principle that public funding should focus on the most needy.

Children in more affluent families are likely to be drinking plenty of milk at home.

Children in very low-income families may be less likely to attend childcare, unless publicly funded places are available. If so, they will not be benefiting from the scheme anyway.

I am aware that the abolition of the scheme is likely to he highly controversial, particularly as this will affect some children in low-income families.

Therefore, I am considering increasing the value of Healthy Start vouchers from April 2011, which provide a targeted nutritional safety net for pregnant women and children under four years old in the very lowest income families.

However, Healthy Start is yet to be robustly evaluated (results are due in September 2012) and we need to think carefully before deciding whether to increase the voucher value before then within the context of our overall spending priorities.

It could be that we simply increase it in line with inflation (it has been frozen for the past couple of years) with a commitment to consider a further increase if the outcome of the evaluation is positive.

Abolition of the Nursery Milk scheme will be contentious and we can expect opposition from the media, parents, nurseries, childminders and the dairy sector.

However, this should not prevent us from ending an ineffective universal measure – and this would clearly be the best time to do it given the state of public finances and the need to make savings.

The Nursery Milk scheme is a reserved measure and we will need to revoke secondary legislation to abolish it.

However, as you may know, the Scottish Government funds the cost of providing milk to eligible children in Scotland and, therefore, I would welcome your views on these proposals.

To abolish the scheme we would need to revoke secondary legislation and we must move quickly if we want to achieve this by April 2011.

It would therefore be helpful to have your views by Wednesday 18 August.

I am writing similarly to Edwina Hart, the Welsh Health Minister and to Alex Atwood, the Social Development Minister in Northern Ireland, where there is a similar, but separate, scheme to Nursery Milk.

I am also copying in Michael McGimpsey, the Northern Ireland Health Minister.

Best Wishes

Anne “

Written by modernityblog

09/08/2010 at 00:44

The Most Ideological PM.

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Max Dunbar does a marvellous job of seeing behind the Cameron façade:

This is a fundamental misreading. We can judge a man by the company he keeps, and the content-free PR boss has surrounded himself with extremists and ideologues. He took the party out of the EU’s moderate conservative alliance to form an association with fringe anti-semites and SS fetishists. When the MEP Edward McMillan-Scott protested, he was expelled. Cameron’s A-list candidate for Sutton and Cheam, Philippa ‘Pray the Gay Away’ Stroud, is a Christian fundamentalist who once owned a chain of hostels dedicated to ‘curing’ alcoholics, addicts and the sexually confused; when Stroud lost what should have been a safe seat, he appointed her a special adviser at the DWP.

Stroud leads the Centre for Social Justice, a thinktank set up by Iain Duncan Smith to take the edge off the Conservatives’ public image. (IDS has said as much: he told the Guardian that the party needs to ’present a set of values which represent compassion… You need people to say, rather like they say about Labour, actually these are OK, they are decent people, their heart is in the right place.’) Abortion limit monomaniac Nadine Dorries has been backed by Christian Concern for Our Nation (CCFON); its director Andrea Williams believes, according to the New Statesman’s Sunny Hundal, ’that abortion should be illegal, homosexuality is sinful and the world is 4,000 years old.’ Williams also runs the Christian Legal Centre, a pressure group that plants stories in soft media about nurses having their crosses yanked from their necks by uncaring NHS managers and Christian registrars forced to perform civil partnerships at gunpoint. Incredibly, it has been linked with Blackwater, the notorious mercenary army.

Cameron’s Conservative Party has an unhealthy reliance on web-based activism. The influence of the Conservative Home site in Tory circles is undisputed. Its founder, Tim Montgomerie, set up the Conservative Christian Fellowship when he was a nineteen-year-old student at Exeter – can there be a clearer example of a misspent youth? – and its membership now numbers around thirty Tory MPs and at least one Secretary of State. And finally, Cameron’s former chief of staff also used to be the research director for the Young Britons Foundation, a Monday-Club style subgroup that advocates abolishing the NHS and sends its members to residential camps that include training in sub-machine guns and assault rifles.

In this context, the Big Society can be seen as a return to Victorian politics when social welfare was the responsibility of the churches and the occasional eccentric billionaire. David Cameron is the most ideological PM since Thatcher and shares her ambition to return to a pre welfare state society. But at least Thatcher was honest about her convictions. Under the Big Society Cameron’s brave and empowered citizens will queue at the poor-house, food vouchers in hand, while the Jesus Army looks after the kids.

Update 1: For American readers here are a few pointers to the history of the Poor House and Work Houses in Britain.

Update 2: Flesh is Grass has a rather good piece on Tory changes in the provision of schools in Britain.

Update 3: In an unrelated instance the Torygraph informs us that Church of England charity set to receive £5million from Government. Hmm.

Written by modernityblog

07/08/2010 at 17:49

Not Too Proud.

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Whatever you think of David Cameron, and I try not to, you have to admire his gall.

Cameron is, at the present moment, sucking up to the Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which must be a bit of a come down for a British PM.

Still, these once imperial powers have more in common than people will often admit.

Perhaps Cameron could inquire about Turkey’s treatment and murder of Kurds?

Or maybe the Turkish Prime Minister is advising Cameron on how to avoid charges of torture, or collusion with torture?

Anyone that needs reminding of Turkey’s appalling human-rights record could do worse than read Amnesty international’s and Human Rights Watch’s summaries.

Written by modernityblog

27/07/2010 at 15:47

A Split In The Making.

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Whilst I wouldn’t normally be terribly interested in the British political scene even from these early days it’s possible to see how the Tory and LibDem coalition will split, William Hague (once a spotty youth at Tory Party conferences) reveals more:

“”Of course we’ve all had to make compromises, but we’ve made those in a sensible way. Really it is the best of the Liberal Democrat manifesto with the bulk of the Conservative manifesto. And it’s politics, it’s government, to make the necessary compromises. “

Key words: the bulk.

In the run-up to the final deal there were plenty of derogatory comments from Tory politicians showing their natural contempt for the Liberals and they might be able to keep it under control for a period of time during their honeymoon, but it won’t last.

The Tories are downright contemptuous of the Lib Dems, but had such a lust for power that they can moderate it in the short-term.

The Lib Dems, outside of Parliament, will come to hate the Tories and all they stand for, any radicals in their ranks would surely agitate against this coalition.

Certainly, it does give both parties what they want, for a brief period of time, which is POWER.

However, such an alliance is by its very nature unstable and conflicted. if Labour can attack them competently and prepare themselves for a new election then all bets are off.

I can’t see this alliance lasting a year, you might even expect another general election within six to nine months.

That’s the type of political calculation that should be focusing any opposition to the Tory government and their Lib Dem lackeys.

I Hate The Tories.

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Hate is probably too mild a word, continual loathing, utter contempt, I am with Nye Bevan on this:

“No amount of cajolery, and no attempts at ethical or social seduction, can eradicate from my heart a deep burning hatred for the Tory Party. So far as I am concerned they are lower than vermin. “

I thought it would be helpful to get that out of the way, so readers know where I am coming from.

Bearing in mind I am not particularly interested in the domestic political scene in Britain, it seems timely with recent events to discuss some of the ongoing issues.

New Labour have finally left power, after 13 years and whilst I don’t think it would have been as bad as 13 years of the Tories it certainly is nothing to shout about, if you were looking at it from a moderately social democratic point of view, let alone the socialist one.

Blair and Brown managed to obtain power and keep hold of it for 13 years, no mean feat, but it is what they did with that power that is truly important.

Over time they adopted many Tory policies and attacked the weakest in society, not something they should be proud of. I will let others heap disapproval on them, my view is good riddance to rubbish. I will not mourn them, after what they did to the Labour Party.

But the prospect of a Tory government is focusing our minds and Blair/Brown are history, and you have to wonder what David Cameron will get up to, even if he is slightly shackled by Clegg and Co.

Some people have suggested that David Cameron is a one nation Tory, etc., which seems to me to be more wishful thinking than reality.

Cameron adopted this pose not because that is what he believes, but rather he knew that appearing as an arch Thatcherite head-banger would not achieve much and could relegate his party to the political doldrums, if not history.

Cameron is competent enough at PR, but the Neanderthals in his party are a different matter.

However, it’s hard to see what even an arch Thatcherite would do nowadays as New Labour did most of it already. There are few government ventures to privatise, even less to sell-off to, effectively, buy votes.

Still, the Tories will probably attack the Welfare State, trying to enrich themselves and their friends in the process.

I suspect for a few months the Tories and the Lib Dems will get their way, but hopefully Labour could make an effort to move back to its origins, even slightly, and then outflank both of these parties from the Left, as there will be an election probably within a year.

It would be good if the Labour Party could return to its social democratic roots, aim for a punchy manifesto with commitments to renationalise the railways, etc and other public services which have suffered under privatisation.

Whatever Labour decide to do they should be prepared for a quick election as I doubt Cameron, or the bunch of second raters he has on his front bench, will be able to cope with the stresses and strains of real government.

There’s another election coming soon enough!

Written by modernityblog

11/05/2010 at 21:00

Elections: Fear And Loathing?

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Pundits with far greater expertise than me are contemplating the various permutations which will fallout from the British general election 1) minority Tory government 2) Tory-Lib Dem pact 3) Lib-Lab continuation etc etc.

All very pertinent, but I am sure we will find out in due course once the sordid deals have been done in smoke-filled rooms.

I think what is interesting from this election is the often contradictory nature of how we vote, do we pick a good local candidate? Or are we against his/her opponent? Do we vote for policies or pick parties?

My feeling is that many voted in the British general election on local issues, particularly in those in Scotland, and Wales, whereas in England or at least the Home Counties there was more of a class vote, for the Tories.

The impression I am getting is that there is considerable loathing for Gordon Brown and new Labour, but a distinct fear of the Tories and their slash and burn policies.

Equally, the Tories had their first scent of a victory in years so voted as you would expect, tribally in the Home Counties.

I have no insight as to what will happen with all of the horse trading, but here’s a few thoughts:

1) whether or not Gordon Brown will step down and be replaced is an issue (and if I were a betting man I wouldn’t put money on the Milibands as so much of the Press does, Ed Balls looks a stronger candidate);

2) there will probably be either (or both) a General Election within 6-9 months, and a referendum on proportional representation;

3) it might serve the Labour Party to walk away from Government, let the Tories muck it up and try to beat them in a future General Election;

4) the BNP failed in Barking, thankfully, but their overall turnout of over half a million votes is still worrying.

Update 1: Bob’s election coverage.

Update 2: Comrade Osler goes back to his roots with The far left and the general election and General election open thread.

Update 3: Phil has more on the Stoke Central General Election Result.

Update 4: Harry on The Future For Socialists, and the sad news that Peter Heathfield died.

Update 5: Jams on No seat for Griffin mercifully.

Update 6: Martin on the morning after.

Update 7: Chris Dillow sees it differently Cameron’s failure: the left’s problem. I thought his previous post was good, although it discounted the number of Public schoolers in the Labour Party!

Update 8: Galloway, beaten by the Tories! Second time around the Glorious one couldn’t pull it off and came third after New Labour zombie, Jim Fitzpatrick and Tory councillor, Tim Archer. I imagine George will now embark on another fund raising tour of the Middle East or make more of an effort to push his media career at Press TV. Either way expect more inflammatory language from him.

Update 9: Why the Nick Griffin and the BNP lost by Flesh is Grass.

Update 10: There is always a degree of political schadenfreude in elections, but I thought this comment was apt:

“The horrific George Galloway did abysmally too, getting a smaller vote than the utterly un-charismatic, non-celebrity Lindsey German got in the last election. “

Update 11: Possibility the final word goes to Olly and his Onions: Gays attempt to cure Tories.

Written by modernityblog

07/05/2010 at 14:41

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