British Politics’s Blog

The ravings of an individual, UK voter frustrated with our politicians

Posts Tagged ‘government policy

David Cameron, we are listening!

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Okay, okay Mr Cameron, has got our attention, but precisely what is it he wants to say? The majority of the public know that, whatever Gordon Brown says, at some stage we will have to ‘cut our cloth’ in the form of a meaningful reduction in public spending. Moreover, we know that this must be sooner rather than later, otherwise we are all going to face some very hefty tax increases. However, no matter how eloquent David Cameron is on the podium, he must tell us what his plans are if we were to entrust his party with our votes.

Cameron is right to make clear that Conservarive Ministers would be judged on what they deliver, not who they know or how chummy they are with the press. Ministers will be required to deliver more for less, its not that difficult of course, the private sector has been doing it for years. Similarly, civil servants will be held to account, they too will have to deliver results. But, this is okay for a ‘vision’, but contrary to what Cameron thinks, this is NOT a plan and that is what we are all waiting for.

On Channel 4 news on Sunday, William Hague stated that the public do not want detailed policies from the Conservatibes, instead, he argued, we just want the vision. I would like to know who the hell he has been talking to, because everyone I know and talk to say that they want meat on the bones. David Cameron needs to understand that he is at serious risk of becoming yesterday’s man, because he is too frightened to tell us what his plans are. One thing is for certain, he does have some sort of plan, he just doesn’t want to share it with us….yet! However he is missing the point, as well as a golden opportunity. He has the public attention, now he must now use this fact to turn empty rhetoric into a deliverable action plan and then sell it to us. But why won’t he?

This is a missed opportunity and the biggest challenge he now faces is, we are all getting tired of being stalled, of waiting for that golden nugget that demonstrates in clear terms that his team is the one that should be trusted with our futures and votes. If he doesn’t move quickly, I suspect that he will start to lose the momentum he has gained, people will start to believe that he is unsure of himself, lacks confidence and self-belief and if that happens, no matter how far ahead in the polls he is, the Conservative party will lose. Few people want another week, much less another term of this pathetic New Labour government, however, we cannot afford to risk our futures with a party that lacks confidence, depth or ideas. Enough stalling Mr Cameron, tell us what you are going to do if, or when, we trust you enough to vote for your party.

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Gordon Browns own words come back to haunt him

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Over at political website Power to the People there has been analysis of some of the statements made by Gordon Brown in Labour Party Conference speeches or, as Chancellor in his budget address. Oh how, in the current climate, these words are coming back to haunt him.

Specifically, Gordon Brown, promised there would be no return to “Boom and Bust” and that he would not permit “instability, speculation or negative equity” in the property market whilst he was in charge of the UK economy. That notwithstanding, he has of course, also claimed credit for our economic growth, which I guess he can, but of course, his flawed, naive strategy allowed this to be achieved “on tick”. Surely, even a basic understanding of economics would have made clear, even to a “prudent” chancellor, that this boom would have to end (“bust”) and then, when the dust had settled, we would all be expected to repay our debts.

Gordon Brown may be prime minister now, but he cannot simply wipe away his 10 years as chancellor, during which he presided over a consumer boom financed on credit as well as a massive spending spree by the government, much of which was poorly invested. Today the Daily Mail suggested that there should be an end to Labour Party in fighting, to allow Gordon Brown to get on with the job of getting the UK economy back on track. Now here’s the thing, if Gordon Brown is so deluded, so removed from the real world that he cannot see where his policies have added to and fueled the current economic situation we are facing, how on earth can we trust him to do what is right for this country now? Maybe the tabloids are concerned that they, almost without exception, were also the very people that lauded Gordon Brown as a prudent and wise chancellor?

 

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European Union to hold crisis talks on Russia

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For all Gordon Brown’s rhetoric and his comments in the Observer, the EU can do very little to exert any real pressure on Russia and GB knows it. Whilst the British public may be daft enough to have believed Gordon Brown’s past assurances and promises, it is unlikely that the ‘Russian Bear’ will. Brown suggest a “root and branch” review of EU/Russia relations and talks of a “determination”. So what I hear the Russians cry?

The UK and much of Europe relies on Russian oil and gas supplies, yes, the Russians also need the revenues, but the Europeans will run out of gas and oil long before the Russians run out of customers wanting to buy their oil and gas. No European government would put at risk essential energy supplies for the sake of Georgia, that is the bottom line. Nor will they do anything that could potentially increase further current oil and gas prices. We also know that Gordon Brown is weak, a classic school yard bully, that when confronted, simply backs down. So ask yourself this, why did he make threats he has no intention of following through? He just makes himself look foolish and this country look weak.

Sanctions won’t work, at least in the short to medium term, because we do not hold all the cards. Removing Russia from the G8 may lose them some prestige on the world stage, but do you really think they will care, when they view the action in Georgia, at least in part, a restoration of pride and Russian military might? The Russians will be watching what the Europeans and the American do with a great deal of interests and they will see rhetoric, which does not turn into any meaningful form of action, as a significant demonstration of weakness and they are likely to be emboldened. If we cannot deliver a significant blow to the Russians to demonstrate our disappointment with their actions in Georgia, then we would be better saying nothing and turning to diplomacy.

I am certainly not defending the Russians, far from it, nor am I advocating that no action is taken. It is just a little pointless shouting your mouth off, if you have no intention of following it through or, whatever you do will make little or no difference. Better to bide your time, keep your cards close to your chest and keep the Russians guessing. Proper planning could allow the EU and America to deliver a knock-out blow (not militarily), but based on our own timetable, not  that of the Russians. There is nothing worse that doing something you know is going to be condemned by the world and then, as a result of their unified silence, not know what form the reaction will take or when.

 

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The Alistair Darling confession, honest summary or cynical ploy?

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Having listened to this government claim all the credit for the good times and then blame everyone else when something goes awry, it is a bit of a shock when a senior cabinet minister appears to come clean and tell the truth. It is also reasonable for the electorate to consider carefully whether this is a new honest and open approach to politics or simply a cynical ploy to garner favour with a disappointed and rightly disgruntled country. There may be a clue in the fact that Alistair Darling also elects to refer to the next election and the need for the party to re-gain its zeal if they want a fourth term. So is he watching the economy or is he concentrating on saving his parliamentary seat and securing New Labour’s fourth election triump?

Now come on Alistair, if the economy is in such a mess, surely your party has to accept its share of responsibility, after all, your boss has been claiming all of the credit for the past 10 years of growth, which he has conveniently been forgotten as the legacy that was passed on to him by the previous conservative government. Your first priority must be to get us out of the mess that you and your party of government sauntered into. You and your party have been in denial for too long.

What saddens me, is whilst it would appear that Alistair Darling is actually quite an honest sincere sort of chap, who doesn’t want to kid the public anymore, experience suggests that this is more likely to be a cynical approach to the whole debacle. If he tells us what we must expect, then he can’t be accused of hiding the truth from us all, if he paints a particularly bleak picture and it turns out not as bad as he predicted, then he can claim the credit for saving the day. Or, perhaps, if he tells us what pressure he and his government are under, we will all feel sorry for them and provide them with a sympathy vote.

What may have been a genuine heartfelt interview with the Guardian newspaper (also described as a “gaffe”) has, however, been undermined by the fact that he has since come out and insisted that the problems we are facing as “worldwide problems”, which by implication means it cannot his fault, his predecessors or the governments. This is ludicrous in the extreme. Yes there is a general downturn, but we are suffering more than most. Why? Because his predecessor spent the last decade spending an increasing amount of money, through borrowing, stealth taxes and higher general taxes as a consequence of more employment and higher company profits. But honestly, what do we have to show for it, not much?

France and Germany were more prudent. Gordon Brown used to delight in comparing our growth figures with theirs, true, France and Germany did take longer to recover from a downturn. But unlike us, they put a little away for a rainy day, we haven’t. So the government can only “help” us through higher taxes, higher borrowings or, most likely, a combination of the two. However, they won’t help the majority, no; they will help traditional Labour supporters, by offering grants, tax credits, hand-outs and so on, which the rest of us will have to pay for. I don’t know about this government having to find its zeal, maybe someone has confused this description and what they actually meant was the government had to regain its ability to steal from the majority, to support the ‘minority’, or a more accurate description may be the core labour voters rather than the minority.

As an act of contrition for the damage they have caused, this government should step aside and let the electorate decide who they trust to take this country forward. Let us take the responsibility. If the Labour party gain their fourth turn, then so be it, if not, then they will have to accept that we have all had enough of false promises and the abdication of responsibility that has been the Labour party mantra for anything negative.

The Labour party cannot expect to get away with taking the credit through the so called good times and then blaming everyone else when things start to go wrong. Winning the next election has nothing to do with “zeal”. Alistair, your party of government has an unelected prime minister, you lied to the electorate about a referendum on the EU constitution, you have consistently increased our taxes through dishonest stealth taxes rather than a more honest increase in the standard rates, you have squandered the billions of pounds raised through the increase in national insurance contributions, you have plundered peoples pension funds, whilst retained a ‘gold-plated’ pension plan for yourselves, you have taxed us for every single ‘benefit in kind’ whilst ignoring such rules for members of parliament, you have placed this country in jeopardy by failing to plan ahead in terms of energy independence….

I could go on, but what would be the point? Alistair, don’t just be honest about the current economic state of the country, take an objective look back at your party’s so called “achievements”, consider the promises you made and whether you ever really delivered on them, the money you have spent and whether you received value for money for the taxes and, of course, New Labour’s values and whether you remained true to them. You don’t have to look far to see that your government is finished, you should do the honourable thing and call an early election, so that someone can be given a mandate from the people of this country to clear up your mess.

 

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UK parliament is run by MP’s that are alien to the rest of us

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Perhaps it is just me, but I am beginning to believe that our MP’s are on another planet, not that they were born on another planet, just that once they become elected they appear to move to another planet.

We, the electorate, are almost always referred to as the “people” whenever our members of parliament or, more accurately, our ministers talk about us. Almost as if we are something different to them, of a different class, a different sub-species and, perhaps we are. Because MP’s simply remove themselves from the real world within months, sometimes days of being elected, or re-elected. They are quite happy to communicate with the “people” when they want something, such as your vote, but don’t expect them to talk to you again, at you, but not to you. Instead they will use any medium capable of delivering a one way message such as newspapers. Or perhaps, the internet savvy will use a blog, albeit many do not allow comments or moderate them to avoid anyone expressing an opinion that may differ from their own.

My point is, do any of the MP’s out there sound like us, talk like us or act like us. If we are being honest with ourselves, the majority don’t. For example, we make mistakes, but our MP’s in general and our minsters in particular, they never do. No, it is always a contractor, world events, the previous government, a civil servant, in fact anyone but themselves at fault. It is akin to driving a bus and claiming the accident was caused by weather conditions, the state of the tyres, the passengers, the previous owner etc., not because of anything the bus driver did. After all, it can’t be the bus driver’s job to check the tyres, the weather conditions or keep the passengers under control.

To err is human and believe it or not, most people can relate to that and the honesty that goes with being able to admit responsibility or culpability. Perhaps if more members of parliament were to admit the failures or weaknesses, we could repeat the entire saying, “to err is human, to forgive is divine”. In other words if they acted like the “people” they claim to represent, and admitted their mistakes, we would probably forgive them, because we can relate to something that happens to us all. In fact, at least making mistakes means we are doing something and it is better to do something and get it wrong occasionally, than it is to do nothing. Making a mistake and being able to admit to it can demonstrate our depth; provide a tangible example of our honesty and our integrity, not to mention our skills at objectivity and self-analysis. All the things, in fact, that we would expect of an elected member of parliament.

As soon as an MP is elected, they lose their ability to communicate with us, why, because they are then expected to toe the party line, they have to become part of a machine? So they must think about each and everything they say. They are no longer real people; they just spout the same party line, too scared of their own shadows to say anything else. This is a generalisation, but then, if we are honest with ourselves, this type of behaviour is a familiar trait with the vast majority of MP’s.

In the past, we have had real ‘characters’ amongst our MP’s most were not flamboyant, just outspoken. You may not have agreed with their politics, but at least they were prepared to step forward and say what they think, not the party hierarchy. Today, the number of characters amongst our 650 or so MP’s can be counted on one hand, simply because they are required to leave their opinions, beliefs and personalities behind if they want to get on or not be labelled a maverick. We would probably consider someone labelled by the party machine as a maverick as a person of principals, gravitas or of independent mind.

Once in parliament, our MP’s become robots, part of the machine where every line has to be rehearsed, every comment considered to ensure that is doesn’t offend anyone, difficult questions must be evaded and if you are fortunate enough to be a minister, then you determine what questions can, or cannot be asked. It is so far removed from the real world, that it is alien to us; therefore it is impossible for the electorate to relate to these elected officials. So, we have around 650 members of parliament ruling 65m people, but in such fear, that in truth, we are probably ruled by less people than in the Politburo of the Communist Party of China.

Take Prime Ministers Question Time, the PM always knows well in advance what questions will be asked, they also have a few stooges who are ready to raise an issue where the PM can preen his feathers and claim all of the credit. If the PM is rounded on by the opposition, he simply blames the previous government, in spite of the fact that Labour has been in government for 11 years, or refers to the voting patters of the other parties. Everything is staged, yes the PM or some of his ministers may be lampooned, but we are given carefully rehearsed and research answers that are delivered in such a way as to ensure that the government record or minister is cleared of any wrongdoing, responsibility or culpability. This is not real life, it is alien to us.

Gordon Brown has many, many problems to deal with, but the people, as we are patronisingly referred to, are quite forgiving, because we are normal. Imagine if you will, Gordon Brown standing up and admitting, that he should have put a little money away in the good times, to ensure that we could survive the difficult times, which were bound to come. He could admit for example, that there would be fewer pensioners in fuel poverty had he not raided their pension schemes. We can relate to these admissions because they demonstrate that to err is human. He could also admit that he made a mistake by allowing the Labour party to renege on its commitment to allow the people the opportunity to vote of the ratification of the EU Constitution. He could even offer to put that right, by allowing us the vote and saying sorry. He won’t because that would make him look like us.

Our leaders and our members of parliament need to start talking like us, speaking like us and acting like us if they are to re-engage with the public. We don’t all speak with one voice like the political parties, the vast majority of us are willing to accept our share of responsibility when things go wrong, we don’t disparagingly refer to a group of people like they are some underclass, we don’t rehearse our answers or have speeches written for us.

Members of Parliament have to re-engage with the public and to do so is quite simple, they don’t have to spend hundreds of millions on consultants to work out how. They just need to act like normal people with a big job to do. They need to talk to us as equals. They need to keep their promises and maintain their values, not sell them for a cushy junior minister’s post. They need to talk to the people that put them in parliament for the entire period of their term in office, not talk at them, but to them. Above all, they need to be humble, admit their mistakes, tell us what they are going to do to put them right and move on.

It is not difficult for our members of parliament to demonstrate that they are not aliens or resident on another planet.

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