ModernityBlog

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

Posts Tagged ‘British politics

Gut Feeling On AV.

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Looking through Twitter can often provide an imperfect, but relevant sampling of people’s preoccupations. Scanning through the entries it seems to me that the metropolitan elites are drawn towards voting Yes to AV.

I can’t say that is the case, irrefutably, but that’s the impression I’m getting.

Certainly Norm is pro-AV and the Guardian. The Green Party is pushing for a Yes to AV too.

The Right-wing media are for the status quo, and saying No to AV.

As far as I can see much of this Yes to AV sentiment is based on the notion that there is a malaise within the electoral system and that AV will change that, or at least that is the hope.

I can’t quite see the evidence behind it, or how it will galvanise a largely cynical population to vote for mostly useless politicians with their own agendas. I think that the problem of electoral participation in Britain and many other countries is more deeply seated than the choice of voting system. There is a significant disenchantment with bourgeois politics in general, and voting specifically. I suspect the problem of voter participation has more to do with the social hegemony and class nature of a society than the selection and use of any particular voting system.

My sense is that in Britain there will be a low turnout for this referendum, those particularly keen on AV will vote for it and will make the effort to vote. Those disenchanted won’t bother, many others voting against it as the Yes to AV arguments don’t seem to have won people over. My gut feeling is that it will fail.

I would like to think that the political consequence of a defeat of AV could be the eventual disintegration of the Tory-Lib Dem coalition, but we’ll see.

Written by modernityblog

05/05/2011 at 15:23

Thoughts On AV.

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The discussion on the Alternative Vote scheme in Britain is stupefying, even for those with an interest in politics.

Whilst I wouldn’t dream of ever telling my UK readers how to vote, I did come across one gem on AV, by Waterloo Sunset.

I will paraphrase:

1. The vote on AV was a concession to the Lib Dems.

2. They have always been keen on voting reform and will swallow many of the unpalatable measures put forward by the Tories, for the sake of voting reform.

3. Should the Lib Dems not achieve voting reform then it increases the likelihood of the coalition breaking up.

4. If the coalition breaks up then probably there will be an election, and the Tories could lose.

5. So voting no to AV is one way of getting rid of the Lib Dem-Tory coalition.

A fine argument in my view.

Written by modernityblog

03/05/2011 at 14:00

Old Etonians And The Tories.

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No, I’m not going to tally up the number of old Etonian’s in the Tory party, it would take forever and only annoy me.

But it is interesting to think how the expected role of old Etonians, to run the upper reaches of British government, is still continuing, when it should have died off ages ago, if we were to believe all of the guff about a classless society.

The Guardian has an interesting piece, Ten things you didn’t know about the 2010 general election:

“4. Sun readers swung towards the Tories more than the readers of any other paper. In 2010, 43% of Sun readers voted Tory and 28% voted Labour. Compared with 2005, that represented a 13.5% swing. The next largest swing was among readers of the Daily Star, where the swing from Labour to the Conservatives was 10%.

5. Guardian readers were less likely to vote Lib Dem in 2010 than in 2005 – even though the paper endorsed the Lib Dems this year in a leader. Some 46% of Guardian readers backed Labour, 37% the Lib Dems (down four points since 2005) and 9% the Tories.

7. Almost as many Old Etonians were elected to parliament (20) as former manual workers (25). There’s one Lib Dem Old Etonian, John Thurso, and 19 Tories. Interestingly, the 19 Tories include Jo Johnson and Rory Stewart, meaning that 50% of the “new blood” Tories elected to parliament went to David Cameron’s old school.

8. No Labour Old Etonians were elected, which means that the parliamentary Labour party is without an Old Etonian for the first time since 1923. (Mark Fisher was Labour’s only Old Etonian in the last parliament.) “

Phil Woolas, Corrupt Practices.

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I have never had any time for New Labour or that string of Labour MPs who gladly voted for the Tory-lite measures they wanted to push through, still even Phil Woolas stands out amongst that pack of chancers, opportunists and political nonentities.

Woolas is positively reptilian.

Fortunately, his misconduct during the General Election has been highlighted in a recent court case:

He concluded: “The consequence of our finding that the respondent is guilty of an illegal practice with regard to the statements we have referred to is that, pursuant to section 159(1) of the Act, his election as Member of Parliament for the constituency of Oldham East and Saddleworth is void and we have so reported to the Speaker of the House of Commons.

“We are satisfied that the statutory penalties for the illegal practices committed by the respondent are both necessary and proportionate, having regard to the seriousness of the statements made with regard to the petitioner’s alleged attitude to the Muslim extremists who advocated violence.”

The judges made no reference to the sanctions on Mr Woolas, although it is thought he could be barred from public office for a period of time. ”

Personally, I would put Phil Woolas in a pillory and pelt him with rotten fruit, that’s what he deserves for his activities. He’s got off very lightly, so far.

Also, it is hardly surprising that Woolas is ranked as one of the more authoritarian figures within new Labour, as a brief extract from his voting record indicates:

Freedom of Speech No
ID Cards Aye
90 days detention Aye
Abolition of Parliament Bill Aye
Trial without a Jury Aye
MPs’ Expenses (FOI exemption) Aye
Control Orders Aye
Extradition Act 2003 No
Government intervention in collection of evidence No
DNA database Aye

The Guardian has more on the full judgement and Woolas.

See the Torygraph for Woolas’ gaffes.

Update 1: Phil, the Labourite cover it too.

Update 2: Adrian Windisch has a Green’s view of things.

Update 3: Political Betting ask the question, when Woolas was appointed to the shadow front bench, Is this the new leader’s first big mistake?

Update 4: Political Betting has more coverage:

Will tomorrow be Woolas’s last day as an MP?

Will the Woolas case change the way elections are fought?

Update 5: The Guardian has a good slide show of Woolas’ election propaganda, I think anyone remotely objective would see the problems with it.

Written by modernityblog

05/11/2010 at 18:36

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