Tag Archive: David Cameron

The people have spoken and they have unanimously decided…. NO!!!

No to what? Well obviously no to political reform. But also a great big vocal no to politics as a whole. Here are some of the other questions posed at the ballot that were rejected.

Q. Do you have any sympathy for Nick Clegg’s scapegoat status?

A. NO!! One thing is for sure, Liberals got hammered in England, Scotland and Wales.

Q. Have you given up on government?

A. NO!! In England Tories are still firmly in control of local councils and whilst they expected to lose hundreds of seats they actually gained 81.

Q. So do you support the government?

A. NO!! We hate tuition fees, we don’t like the cuts but we blame the Lib Dems and Labour so Tories have got through the local council elections unscathed.

Q. Have you forgiven Labour?

A. NO!! Labour fell well short of the 1,000 extra councillors they wanted to gain in England and they took a beating in Scotland courtesy of the SNP.

The public may not know what it wants but they know what they don’t want and that’s everything currently being offered.

The traditional progressive movement in England has been given a resounding kicking. The Liberal Democrats got annihilated in the local council elections losing just shy of 700 seats and 9 councils. Even here in Sheffield, where it was expected that things would be bad with Labour gaining control of the council, it was far worse than expected. Nine councillors were lost and many other wards saw Sheffield’s lowly conservatives overtake Clegg’s men.

And then there was AV. The polls seemed to agree that there was no hope for the attempt at political progression putting it 18 points behind the No2AV campaign. In actuality it was far worse than this as 68 per cent voted against thus giving Clegg his second kicking and leaving his party at a crossroads.

Can he lead Scotland to Independence?


The one concrete result we have got is in Scotland. Ed Miliband wanted the Labour recovery that aims to eventually see them retake Westminster, to begin in Scotland. Such talk indicating Miliband’s patronising belief in Scotland’s subsidiary status didn’t have the desired effect and pushed the voters towards Alex Salmond’s ‘putting Scotland first’ approach. The Scottish Nationalist Party stormed to an impressive electoral dominance destroying the labour party who so long have ruled the lands north of the border. However, whilst the SNP are experiencing a surge in support, this may not actually point to a thirst for progression. Whilst the First Minister, Alex Salmond, now has a position to implement a referendum for independence it is not at all certain that if he does he will win. The result was massive for the party but if they don’t win a referendum on independence then it could be assumed that the results of the Scottish assembly elections were an anti labour and Westminster vote more than a victory for SNP. Salmond is a heavyweight politician operating in a pool of small fish. And whilst clearly he has voter appeal he may have benefited more from poor labour tactics than having successfully united his country over political reform.


Liberal Democrat attention is now being switched to the next great battle. NHS reforms will serve as the latest battleground in order to refocus and regroup the party. I have always resisted previous talk of the coalition government not lasting as ‘too early to say’ but now the government is ‘mission creep-ing’ its way to internal crisis. Divisions that were previously confined to the backroom are now open to the public. Aside from the AV campaigns and figures such as Chris Huhne, and Paddy Ashdown throwing tantrums the formerly silent but lurking Tory backbenchers are creeping into the limelight. When asked about the longevity of the coalition government conservative Peter Bone MP said: “I don’t think it will go on for the full five years that’s for sure. The only reason for the coalition was to come together and sort out the economic mess that labour left this country and once that’s done there’s absolutely no need to continue with the coalition.” He went on to say: “Liberals have got to row in behind the government and stop bleating”. This opinion is reflective of so many Tory backbenchers who don’t see this as a coalition government, but a conservative one with a few refugees thrown in to provide Mr Cameron with the votes he needs to do the bidding of middle England.

Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb, most famous for threatening to resign unless changes were implemented to Andrew Lansley’s NHS reforms, stated today: “We have become a human shield for the conservatives”. There is no doubt this is true and it’s hard to see what they can do to change that whilst remaining in government. Mr Cameron won’t throw them any bones. The Tory backbenchers won’t allow it. They’ve come to the fore as they did to derail John Major over the EU. The current PM will be wary of his history, internal party rebellions destroyed the two previous conservative PM’s and now that the Liberal Democrats are so weak and Labour are still a long way back on their road to recovery, his primary concern is to appease his own party.


What is the point of first past the post? It doesn’t represent the public. It serves only to represent a single political group as the winner rarely gains a majority worthy to represent its constituency and insures safe seats for politicians. This allows them to feel free to use public money to fund anything from pornography to duck houses.

The arguments from the No2AV campaign have relied on an advert portraying people being too stupid to understand a format requiring the writing of numbers in order: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-obZ9OG_XKA

And a poster showing a boxer being knocked out by an opponent and still winning despite this being impossible under AV as boxing is a one on one situation: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NVRtL20Ue54&feature=player_embedded

But the argument that winning a foot race, even by a nose, is justifiable as being fully representative seems to be doing enough to win with the ‘No’ campaign in the lead by anything from 5 to 10 percentage points depending on the poll.


The King is born!!! Oh, the King is dead....already

The public have no appetite for change. People will complain about politicians and the press will get delirious with rage at expenses scandals but it means nothing come election time. We’ve become an old country set in its ways. We alternate our governments between labour and conservative as their main competition has been over who can be closer to the political centre ground. We have a monarchy that trudges on despite holding no influence over the country and its subjects anymore. The economy is lurching in the face of competition from China, India and Brazil. Our place as a ‘former’ world power is at last truly dawning and there doesn’t seem to be any enthusiasm to snap the country back into life.

We’ve had two by-elections recently in Barnsley and Oldham East after the previous Labour MPs were imprisoned. You would have thought that criminally pissing away voters’ money would deter the people from entrusting your party again, at least for the foreseeable future. But Labour not only held onto the seats but actually increased their share of the vote by over 10 per cent in each district.

The voters trundled into the booths and collectively put a cross in the box next to Labour because that’s what they’re supposed to do. “We’re from the north. We vote labour. We don’t want Thatcher’s Britain.” The same happens in the south with middle England as staunchly conservative as ever only to be riled out of their dozy middle class lifestyles if there is a perceived threat to…..trees.

AV won’t win because the politicians don’t want it to. The Tories like their safe seats. They represent the moderate right against the left wing. If the voting system represented a straight fight between the right and the left, then labour and lib dem votes would be intertwined possibly decimating the Tories in a number of their close seats.

Labour are split over the issue because they realise the above, but they also don’t like the idea of losing votes to the lib dems who are often the common mans’ second favourite party and could do well under AV.

It could all have been so different……

For real reform it takes a leader who can win the support of the public and develop enough energy to encourage people to act in the name of progression. Think Martin Luther King, Emmeline Pankhurst or Vladimir Lenin. Nick Clegg could have been that man. For a while he was the knight in shining armour destined to lead the country to greener pastures. He fearlessly strode into the field of conflict (TV leadership debate) and after a ferocious battle where much blood was spilt (some verbals and polite disagreements) the gallant knight emerged heroic and victorious (1% gain in vote).

But then it went wrong.

Mel Gibson ain't no English Bitch

I don’t remember Mel Gibson signing an agreement at the end of Braveheart saying: “Fair cop mate, your English boys won. It was a good fight (but never really that close). Do us a favour sport (King Edward), I’ll be your deputy if you fancy?” It wouldn’t have gone down well with the Scots and would probably have confused the film critics. But that’s what Clegg did because he hadn’t seen Braveheart. He fucking hates Mel Gibson films.

Since then he’s had to choke on tuition fee increases that decimated his strong student support and battle his own party about Andrew Lansley’s proposals for reforms to the NHS. Clegg’s Merry Men aren’t happy. Vince Cable (Friar Tuck) is getting into arguments with David Cameron about immigration speeches. Danny Alexander (the ginger merry man) is falling out with George Osborne about ‘dirty tricks’ in the AV campaign. All the while the liberal democrat Godfathers Emperor Ming Campbell and Charles Kennedy are hardly thrilled about the whole coalition deal.

Clegg could have pushed through electoral form. He could have ridden the crest of a liberal wave that refused to elect the Tories outright despite knowing labour were not so much a dead horse but long decayed. His victory is that there is a referendum on electoral form. He has taken it this far but to ensure this he had to sign his political life away. Now Ed Miliband won’t even share a platform with him during the YES2AV campaign. It’s a sad state of affairs for a man who sacrificed his party to gain power and attempt to make real change to the country. If AV wins it will now be Miliband’s victory. If it doesn’t then Clegg’s surely done as a political force. Tuition Fees increased, Trident will be replaced rather than scrapped and electoral reform has slipped away.

Bored of the Blame Game

The Public is tired of the same old excuse

The beginning of every government has a honeymoon period of being able to blame any problem on the actions of its predecessor. The current mob have been feeding off the line; “the deficit we inherited from Labour” on a daily basis. But there is only so long that the same song can be sung before the people get tired of hearing it. Eventually everyone got sick of Wet Wet Wet and Bryan Adams. With the economy shrinking in the last quarter by 0.6% the government is losing the sympathy of the public and it now appears that the use of this slogan is toxic for a politician.

Welsh Secretary of State Cheryl Gillian was the latest to suffer for daring to use the excuse on Thursday’s Question Time. The political version of Rome’s gladiatorial games is far better at gauging the mood of the country than the Eton school boy one-upmanship disguised as Prime Ministers Questions and the audience voiced made its displeasure apparent.

The beginning of the end for the line can be identified as the 11th of February edition of Question time when Cabinet Minister Frances Maude was subjected to a barrage of abuse from an audience irate at his reference to the previous government’s responsibility for the current levels of debt. The anger of the crowd was such that Jacquie Smith got away with faming boredom by pretending to yawn. When a representative of the mess makers is able to mock the recipients of the mess it goes a long way to showing how unpopular the excuse is. The scene was a remarkable one. Shouts of discontent rang around the room as the top finally blew off a populous increasingly disenfranchised by government policy. Cries of “bankers’ bonuses” rang out in an unusual example of audience misbehaviour that required David Dimbleby to act the stern headmaster before order was restored.

Whilst many see it as a tired argument there is no doubting its validity. I would number the factors why but then I would fall foul of repeating the very mistake I am highlighting. The important factor is that the Government has lost this advantage over Labour and the Big Society debate seems to have been the tipping point. The public had so far put up with the slashing of government funding through a number of departments but it seems that their patience has finally been breached in the face of the apparent hypocrisy of Mr Cameron’s flagship policy.

The Prime Minister’s aim is to recreate the communities of old where neighbours looked after each other and families took care of their elders. Government increasingly took over the role of caring for the people as Labour welfare policies engulfed the state. Welfare was becoming the same financial black hole that the NHS is. By slashing funding to charities and local government the Government is directly affecting the care homes and libraries that many see as fundamental to society. The smell of hypocrisy is in the air and this was exacerbated by Dame Elisabeth Hoodless, the retiring executive director of Community Service Volunteers. The much respected servant to volunteering who had voiced her support for the policy when it was announced has now become a harsh critic claiming that the cuts are “destroying the big society.”

But the presumably circumcised Dame Hoodless misses the point when she complains about budget cuts in volunteering. Volunteering and charities by definition shouldn’t rely on government funding. They are not supposed to be reliant on state funding otherwise they would just be part of the welfare system. It’s a mark of the size of government that charities are so dependent on it. According to the Times charities receive more money from government than public donations, £11bn as opposed to £10bn. Big society is as much about devolving the big government that grew to an incredibly bloated scale under the Labour years as it is about increasing the size of volunteer groups.

The government line about being left in recession and massive debt by the Labour party is undoubtedly stale. The problem is that it is true and it’s applicable to nearly every policy the coalition government is producing. They make cuts, the question ‘why’ is asked, and then the tired old argument is presented. It’s a horrible cycle that everyone is trapped in. The Government won’t change the line because it validates the majority of their changes.

The problem is the nature of party politics. British politics is far too tribal and that issue has been exacerbated now two of the big three parties are on the same side. It is very much an ‘us’ against ‘them’ climate in Westminster and this is obvious in practically every answer any politician gives. If you ask a coalition MP about a policy they will prioritise more time to pointing out how it is a response to a mistake by Labour rather than speak about the merits of the policy.

The nature of the Coalition’s defensiveness has been its weakness. Cameron has been very forthright in his beliefs and the strengths of the policy he wants to make, but the rest of his party, and the Liberal Democrats in particular, have been hesitant to endorse the merits of government policy. This was fundamental to the failure of transmitting the merits of their tuition fees to the public. The NUS is now privately backing the changes yet the perception is that everyone was against them. The same communication problems have haunted the planned forest sales which highlighted a major failing by Caroline Spelman to explain the policy to the masses. It appears that the whole scheme is going to be scrapped because of miscommunication in this very sensitive area. The British public was always likely to object to anything that could be perceived as a threat to the much loved woodlands and this government has not shown itself to be anything like adept at dealing with such issues.

Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair were both hugely successful by gauging the public mood and selling them their ideas; Cameron has yet to learn this art. As a result it seems that the Government is going to continue to relax in its comfort zone blaming Gordon Brown’s economic policy for cutbacks rather than spending time explaining the merits of the action it is taking. If this is the case then the state of the economy will have to improve and unemployment must fall.

A Victoy that will bring more Relief than Joy

It’s over, Miliband is the way forward. The British people have lost all faith in the Coalition Government. As Ed says the people are disgusted by V.A.T. increases and broken promises and have turned to him to be their saviour. The evidence would appear to support this claim as the seat of Oldham East and Saddleworth, with an electorate of 72,000 and an MP from the only major party not be in government, is the key indicator of the state of politics in the country today.

The Labour MP Emily Thornbury appeared on the Daily Politics Show revelling in the success of her party. Somewhere between branding the Oldham by-election result as “spectacular” and denying the Labour government’s role in the country’s financial disaster, she claimed that this was a “rejection of a terrible government.” It wasn’t. In fact if you add up the Coalition vote they polled 15,641 as opposed to Labour’s 14,718, but Cameron won’t be claiming this victory.

The result of this by-election was essentially honours even. It was not a great victory for Labour, it wasn’t as good a result for the Liberal Democrats as it appears, and it is not as poor as a 7,000 vote loss would appear for the Conservatives. The easiest way to demonstrate this is to look at each party in turn and my life’s work is to search for the easiest way to do anything.

Labour’s vote rose from last year’s election total of 14,186 to 14,718. A respectable rise of 500 but certainly not enough to suggest a massive populist shift back to Miliband’s crew and the turning of backs on the coalition. Labour held onto a seat they have held since 1997 and even the collapse of the party last year didn’t do enough to lose it. But a majority of 3,500 is a good one and it is a much needed result for Ed Miliband.

The Liberal Democrats were also under severe pressure going into the by-election. This is a seat that by rights should have been theirs. The results of Phil Woolas’ slanderous attacks on the party during the general election are unquantifiable but there were only 103 votes in it. An outright disqualification was called for by many, and had the by-election happened sooner this would have been a shoe in for Elwyn Watkins. But the tide has definitely turned against Clegg whose party have capitulated in the polls. This result appears to have kept the pressure at bay as they have retained a 31% share of the vote. But in actuality 3,000 votes have been lost and of the 7,000 that drained from the Conservatives, how many of them were tactical and reflect a political astuteness of voters? The Liberal side of the Government have escaped this one but the pressure is still on and political victories are required.

The Conservatives, as has been the case so often lately, have taken a back seat in the political sphere. Despite Cameron’s party being in charge and initiating a swathe of cuts they are under much less pressure than the other parties. Even to the extent that they can act charitably towards the Liberals. The Coalition is on rocky ground if the Lib Dems have nothing to gain from it, and whilst they are making an impact on policy making, back benchers and Liberal die hards are not keen on the alliance with the right. A result in Oldham was required and the Tories were shrewd enough to realise that an incredibly outside chance of winning a seat was not important enough to work for. Despite confusing claims to contrary, the appearance has been of a soft campaign going through the motions but not as pressing as it may have been. A loss of 14% of the vote would in other circumstances seem telling, but in this case was an easy burden to bear. Whilst their candidate Kashif Ali may not be best pleased, it will have bounced off Cameron.

The most telling statistic is the turnout. A General election figure of 61.2 per cent has dropped within a year to 48. This is a reflection of a loss of faith in politics and the people who practice it. The Liberal Democrats were at the forefront of a renewed interest and an atmosphere of change developed across the country. Nowhere would have felt it more than the constituency of Oldham East and Saddleworth where the Liberal Democrats have been big players. As it was all that really happened was that 3,000 voters shifted from Labour to Conservative, yet the big turnout was endemic of a renewed vigour for voting. But this constituency has been flattened more than most since the Coalition Government began. Clegg’s party are polling in single figures after the perceived tuition fees “betrayal” whilst the other big party in Oldham, Labour, had their MP Phil Woolas barred from public office for three years after it turned out that he had run a disgraceful election campaign including manipulating images of his Lib Dem opponent Elwyn Watkins.

Ed Miliband’s reaction to the result is reflective of the result. The overriding emotion will not be of celebration but relief. He didn’t even bother to go up to Oldham today and pull a cracker with Debbie Abrahams. Labour can just be relieved that they have won the seat whilst the Coalition can relax having spared further pressure on Clegg and knowing that the country hasn’t yet turned to the only opposition party remaining.