British Politics’s Blog

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

Posts Tagged ‘new labour

Gordon Brown’s Temper Tantrums

with 2 comments

Much has been written about Gordon Brown’s management style and specifically about his legendary temper tantrums. He and some of his loyal colleagues may dismiss this as a man that is committed, passionate and someone who gets angry with himself, but that it complete rubbish, he knows it and so do his colleagues. The fact remains, reports of Gordon Brown’s behavior in the private sector would almost certainly lead to the dismissal of the protagonist.

This is a prime example of what happens when you place people with little or no real management experience in charge of a huge organization…such as Government. Yes, he was Chancellor, but the fact is, unlike many people in the private and even the public sector, Gordon Brown (and many of the ministers who now come to his defence), have never worked through the ranks. Therefore, they have little or no conception of the need to lead by example and communicate their message clearly and concisely. The bottom line is, bullies make very poor managers, instead they breed a culture of fear, contempt and hidden truths.

Brown has admitted that he throws things; well what sort of message does he think this type of behaviour sends? That he is in control, measured, responsible? I don’t think so! Anyone who defends such actions are as bad as the perpetrator, because they are seen as complicit, or perhaps even endorsing the behaviour, so victims have nowhere to go. It is an appalling situation.

I have seen senior managers that adopt a similar style to Gordon Brown and based on my experience of how people react to such people, I am not surprised that Brown fails to achieve anything! Bullying managers will normally experience the following;

  1. Their line managers adopt a similar management style and this behaviour is eventually considered ‘normal
  2. As information moves up the chain it is ‘sanitized’ to avoid facing the wrath of their line managers. Management is told what they want to hear rather than the facts.
  3. As the information and management is disseminated to each line manager, it is further sanitized to suit the recipient, therefore, by the time it reaches the top of the chain, it bears no reality to what is happening at grass roots level. This is fact, not supposition.
  4. Some of the brightest people within the group are crushed, because their views differ from what senior managers want to hear, this prevents new ideas and fresh initiatives being presented. This results in ‘same old, same old, rather than fresh ideas…anyone watching this Governments lack lustre performance for the past few years will recognize this trait.
  5. Meetings end up with everyone agreeing with the ‘chair’ rather than challenging or presenting new ideas.
  6. Because everyone agrees with the boss, the boss thinks that he can ‘walk on water’ that he can do no wrong. This then becomes self-perpetuating! Any boss worth his salt would ensure that he had people around him that were prepared to challenge the status quo.

There is another undeniable fact that people like Gordon Brown needs to know…the lower down the ranks the people on the receiving end of his tantrums are, the harder they are hit. Fellow ministers may shrug off his attempt to show how macho he is by throwing a telephone at the wall, but junior employees will almost certainly shit themselves! What a big man you are Mr Brown!

It is well know that Gordon Brown likes to micro manage (this is often sold as a virtue!)…but it is in fact another futile act. The reality is, where senior mangers micro manage; they create resentment in the ranks, therefore as soon as their attention is directed elsewhere, everything returns to normal. This is how managers get their own back on interfering bosses who think they are the only people that know the answers or solution.

What Gordon Brown has not learned, is that the larger the machine, the more important it is to sell your ideas, before attempting to enforce them. He has made the classic mistake that many senior managers do, that is to assume that because they are the ‘big boss’ they can issue orders and it will just happen…because they decree it so. Utter bollocks! It just doesn’t happen that way. New ideas and initiatives have to be sold up and down the line…otherwise they will get bogged down in the process…there is another important lesson for Gordon Brown and people like him, that is being the boss does not always mean that you are right! So a good boss will have someone around him to keep his feet on the ground and a person who is not frightened of challenging him.

The bottom line is Gordon Brown doesn’t have what it takes…and I suspect neither does David Cameron…the only difference is Gordon Brown has had his chance and screwed it up, if Cameron gets his, I earnestly hope for the sake of the people of this country he learns a lot faster. In this election, I suspect we will be voting not for the people or the party we want, but the people or the party that we dislike the least. If this is democracy, they can shove it!

Is David Cameron all mouth and no trousers?

with 2 comments

This is a rhetorical question, but also one I have been asking myself over the past few months given, in my opinion, he is trying to be all things to all men (and women).

Take for example his ‘commitment’ to give “serious consideration” to electoral reform. What type of commitment is “serious consideration”, it means absolutely nothing. Does he suppose that we all so stupid, so punch drunk and so desperate that we cannot tell the difference between a promise to provide serious consideration and one where he promises to deliver on a specific pledge? Cameron worries me, because he is all smiles, says plenty but offers little, yet what we need more than anything is a leader with conviction. In many ways, he reminds me of a post version of Tony Blair and look where that lead us?

Cameron said he would allow the people to select who their Conservative candidate for MP would be through “open primaries“. However, he then went on to state that this would only be where MP’s have stood down. Why stop there, if he is so certain that his party has selected the best candidates, why won’t he allow the local constituents to give their verdict? There are currently 190 Conservative MP’s, if Cameron wants to pass the power to the people, then he must insist that they all stand for re-selection. That would be people power.

On the use of Party Whips, Cameron has undertaken to look at this, that is not the same as making a firm commitment. Why not commit to a programme where Conservative MP’s are only required to toe the party line on manifesto commitments? That will reduce the power of the Executive and we have all seen what happens when the Executive gets too much power, just review the past 12 years. New Labour have introduced more laws in 12 years than all previous governments combined. Most of these laws have sought only to reduce our right to privacy, attack our liberty, and pass immense powers to quangos, the police and unelected officials.

He has suggested that MPs would could be handed the power of deciding the timetabling of bills and backbenchers would get powers to choose the chairmen and members of select committees. Great, so why not make it a firm commitment?

There is some merit in Cameron’s proposal of fixed term parliaments, but is this talk or a commitment? Why stop at parliament, what about MP’s having fixed terms, after all, there is an experienced civil service, so what is wrong with bringing in ‘new blood’? Why hasn’t David Cameron cottoned on to the fact that people power must allow the constituents to recall an MP if he or she fails to perform? Surely that is people power at its best? And what of reducing the number of MP’s by 10%? If the intention is to make the Executive more accountable to parliament, unless there are fewer ministers, this could have the opposite effect.

If Cameron is so tough on Conservative MP’s, why have none of them been deselected? How can he claim that Kirkbride’s case is any different to Mackay’s, are they not married? Are we supposed to assume that they never discussed the second home allowance arrangement? Why has he limited ‘questionable behaviour’ to paying back the excess, that is weak, not strong. As I stated before, does David Cameron truly believe we are all so stupid?

I have studied David Cameron over the past few months because I wanted to believe him. But, in my opinion, he still lacks any firm or meaningful commitments, on policy or reform. He comes across as charming, but he rarely, if ever makes a firm commitment on anything. He talks tough, but then acts like a wimp. He is a good speaker and very charming, but so was Tony Blair. I am beginning to believe that the Conservative Party under David Cameron will just be more of the same and if that is the case, he cannot count on my vote! – We need a return to conviction politics and soon.

Boycott the mainstream parties

with 4 comments

I have often advocated to friends and colleagues that the best way to deliver a hard-hitting message to politicians is to vote for fringe parties rather than mainstream. The reality is, at least for the most part, leaders of the main parties take our votes for granted. They know that there is a hardcore of supporters, but it is floating voters that really decide results, so that is who they target with populist policies. The thing that they fear most, is something that upsets the status quo, that is, the voters responding in an unpredictable or uncontrolledable way. Whether we like it or not, most voters are predictable, the mainstream parties like that.

This is perhaps why Lord Tebbit urged disaffected voters to “teach the big parties a lesson” by endorsing one of the smaller parties. Now this has been admitted by a former Conservative Party Chairman, perhaps my friends and colleagues will start to realise that a vote for a fringe party is not a wasted vote. As a fellow blogger stated in a recent post; “Politicians of all parties would do well to listen. They rule by consent, not as a right. The public could scupper all of their plans by simply voting for fringe parties, it may not give us a joined up government, but lets be honest, we haven’t had one of those for generations!”. There is no need to vote for extremist parties, in the EU Election there are quite a number of choices, including, but not necessarily limited to; UKIP, the Greens, the English Democrats, the Christian Peoples Alliance, NO2EU, Libertas, and the Jury Team.

Truth be told, MEP’s have very little power, so using the European elections to deliver a message to our domestic politicans carries very little risk and a great deal of upside. I know that I may be criticised for this comment, but the real power in the European Union lies with the unelected Commissioners, not the MEP’s. Our domestic MP’s have disappointed us, many have either abused or stood by whilst others abused an expense system that was actually designed to be abused….by the abusers! Ironic isn’t it! – Clearly our MP’swere quite prepared to treat the very people that elected them with contempt, but why not, they only needed us once every 5 years?

I dislike being taken for granted, both in terms of my goodwill and my vote and I am sure many people will feel as I do. So maybe we should all consider delivering a very explicit message to the mainstream parties, that we cannot, nor will we be taken for granted. And, if they don’t start to listen following the June 4th results, then there is a very real possibility that people power will ensure that the vast majority of current MP’s will lose their seats at the next election and I mean from all parties. If existing MP’s are unwilling to listen, especially those from New Labour, then I will consider standing as an independent MP and I will urge others to follow suit. If there are enough independent MP’s, the people of this country may actually regain their voice, because massive majorities will be replaced by the need to gain a consensus. Authoritarian rule will be replaced by a democratic process. Now that would be nice.

I am happy to be accused of being naive. But I will say this, MP’s abused their expenses because we let them, we assumed that they could be trusted to self-regulate. We have accepted an electoral system that favours the larger parties, a system that provides these party’s with massive majorities, even if they get just 35% of the vote, in turn we get what amounts to single party rule. The ruling party, as evidenced by the New Labour Party Machine, want ever more state power and control over the people. New Labour, for example, has become completely disengaged and out of touch with the people, they have introduced a raft of  new laws, well over 3,500 in 12 years, many removing long-held rights to privacy and liberty and the New Labour delivery has become authoritarian, not inclusive. 

If we have to vote for fringe parties, or independent candidates to deliver a harsh lesson to our self-serving MP’s and political parties, then I am up for it. I want to return to a democratic process where our views are taken into consideration, not one where we are controlled or spied on; I want our government to be truly representative and, above all, I want to feel proud of our democracy, our politicians and our government….and I am sure many people would agree with those sentiments, so lets take the “necessary action” to repeat the overused phrase by our illustrious leader…and “do what’s right” to use another!

New Labour lies and contempt for the public

with 2 comments

No matter which way you try and paint it, New Labour have lied to the public. This, by virtue of the fact that they gave a commitment in their Manifesto not to raise income tax and then reneged on that promise, without a hint of embarrassment or self-doubt. So, if there was anyone out there that still believed New Labour was a party of honesty and integrity, then they only need to look at the fact that they have deliberately broken a contractual commitment with the public. A business would pay the price in the courts, this discredited government must pay the price at the ballot box, because we can never believe them again.

Alistair Darling is reported to have said, “I want to ensure that people inside this country can aspire to do as well as they can for themselves and their families – people want to ensure that if they do a hard day’s work, they get a reward for it.” Surely the irony of this statement is not lost on Mr Darling, given it was he that introduced a penal rate of tax for those that strive to do better for themselves and succeed. This is a tax on hard work, achievement, success, enterprise and entrepreneurship.

Darling went on to say that those with the “broadest shoulders” should pay more. By this he means anyone earning over £100k who will have been told they will lose their personal allowance incrementally to the point where it was vanish by the time they have earned £113,000 and, those earning over £150k, who will be charged 50% tax on all earnings over that threshold. But, as one commentator has already pointed out and, as Chancellor Mr Darling should know, these people already pay nearly 7 times more tax  (in cash terms) than the average British worker. Surely that means they are already shouldering a larger, if not disproportionate, slice of the £150bn income tax take? If our Chancellor cannot even count, then why on earth is he in such an important position?

No further evidence in need, New Labour now stands for broken promises and it is clear that the party no longer values effort, success or enterprise, instead New Labour see these aspects of human endeavour as something to be punished. New Labour don’t deserve to even be on the ballot box, much less governing this country. If they had any self-respect left, they would call an election now!

David Cameron, we are listening!

with 2 comments

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.

Gordon Brown asked to resign

with 2 comments

It will probably make no difference at all, but Kalvis Jansons has created a new petition on the No.10 Downing Street website calling for Gordon Brown to resign. http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/please-go/

At least it is a chance for the many, many people that are at their wits end with him and his government, to have their views considered. I for one have already signed up and I would urge other to follow suit, maybe the Labour Party grandees will be reading.

Written by British Politics

25 April, 2009 at 10:52 am

Why do we need SPADS in Politics?

with one comment

Ben Wright, Political Correspondent for BBC News makes a robust case for Special Advisers, also knownin Westminster as SPADS, but I am still not convinced. Since New Labour came to power, the number of SPADS has doubled and the cost to the taxpayer is close to £6m per annum, this is not small change. Although SPADS are employed as civil servants, unlike their colleagues, they do not have to be politically neutral. In other words, the public is expected to pay these special advisers who are, in effect, party political.

Of course you can expect a mixed bag of views from political journalists, given some will benefit from their relationships with special advisers and others will not. But that is precisely the point, these SPADS are in a position to influence media reports, in a way that MP’s simply cannot. An off the record briefing with a friendly journalist can, theoretically, lead to the destruction of a fellow MP’s career for party political reasons, all this at the taxpayers expense.

The whole point of the civil service is that it must be impartial. If MP’s feel the need to have special advisers, that are not bound to be impartial, then the cost must come out of their existing ‘allowances’ or central party funds, not the public sector payroll. SPADS, as we now know, are expendable, their job is to do the covert, unatributable work in politics, where a Cabinet Minister or MP cannot afford to get his or her hands dirty. If they succeed and don’t get caught, then they will likely be rewarded with a plumb job in the future. Officially, SPADS are supposed to be the conduit between politician’s and the civil service, but they would say that wouldn’t they? I suspect the reality is more in line with what has been exposed by recent events.

I know that politics is a dirty game, but most of it was done behind closed doors, now it has been exposed to the public. Even MP’s of the Labour Party have been quick to jump on the bandwagon, because many of them have been on the receiving end of negative briefings, more often than not, by a special adviser. This is not a time for a tightening of the code of conduct, it is a time for reflection. Politicians must decide, whether there can be any real justification for special advisers, at a cost of £6m.

Over recent weeks, politics has been damaged, we have witnessed a steady decline in the public’s trust and confidence in members of parliament and this needs to be reversed. Politicians from all sides must clean up their respective acts, SPADS must go, the generous expense allowances must be severely curtailed and brought in line with those of the private sector and every MP should be required to make a renewed public commitment that they serve the public, not themselves. That should be a legally enforceable contract, nothing less will do.

MP’s to use new ‘Reasonable Discretion’ law to avoid prosecution

leave a comment »

A draft Bill is due to get its second reading in Parliament on the 24th April 2009. This Bill is designed to exempt all public servants from prosecution, civil or criminal, if they can demonstrate Reasonable Discretion. In spite of the fact that this Bill, if drafted into law, will provide public servants with virtual immunity from prosecution, has anyone actually heard of it? Not me, that is for sure, so I would like to thank political blog, Power to the People, for highlighting this issue.

He is a summary of what the Bill (Exercise of Reasonable Discretion Bill 2008-09) aims to achieve:

The Bill aims to ensure that public authorities and public servants would not be subject to any criminal or civil penalty as a result of the exercise of reasonable discretion in the performance of their functions. Its provisions would cover public authorities, public servants and contracts for public services. The term public authority is defined by the Bill and includes the NHS, the police, local and central and devolved Government and non-departmental public bodies. The formal intent of the Bill is to indemnify public servants, central government, local government and other public agencies from legal action if they take decisions in good faith, as a result of the exercise of reasonable discretion, in the public interest.

The author of Power to the People says:

I would urge all fellow bloggers with an interest in justice to use their blogs to publicise this outrageous attempt provide public servants, especially MP’s with a ‘get out of jail free’ card. If this legislation gets through, as it undoubtedly will, then no public servant can truly be held accountable to the public, because a ‘good faith’ defence will always be available!

I am happy to oblige. Little wonder that more and more people believe that our Members of Parliament hold the public in such contempt.

Tony McNulty and an expense claim too far

with 2 comments

I am angry with Tony McNulty, because, although I disagree with most of his party’s policies, I always considered him to be sincere and committed to the policies adopted by New Labour. He was believable and one of the few ministers who could hold his own when challenged by the likes of Jon Snow’s  on the Channel 4 News programme, without sulking. Therefore, to find out that he was one of the members of parliament exploiting the rules related to second home allowances (which was designed to cover rent, mortgage interest payments or hotel expenses) was a great personal disappointment. I do not suggest that McNulty has done anything in contravention of the rules or regulations, but to claim as much as £60k in expenses for a home his parents live in, when it is just a few miles from his home, is truly stretching what could be termed, at least in my judgement, reasonable.

Members of Parliament are supposed to set an example to the rest of us, they are in a privileged position and as such, we are entitled to expect the very highest standards from those who are elected to serve the people. By and large, MP’s tend to vote and decide on their own salaries, perks, pensions and expenses, therefore is it essential that they are seen not to put self-interest first. It is quite clear, to anyone with half a brain cell, that second home allowances were intended to assist those MP’s who lived in their constituency and needed to cover their additional costs in terms of travelling or overnight accommodation in London. It was never intended to be a tax free perk, but that is precisely what it has turned out to be for many. They know that and we know that. Can Tony McNulty really justify his claim, when his permanent home is so close to Westminster, not in terms of the ‘rules’, but in terms of the spirit of the allowance? He may be an excellent debater, but even he will not be able to come up with a set of words that would convince me, let alone the public at large. To his credit, however, he has suggested that the home allowance rules ought to be reviewed.

This discredited expense system, that has become a method for MP’s to boost their earnings, needs to be overhauled NOW! Not by members of parliament, because most of them have demonstrated that they cannot be trusted to demonstrate objectivity, much less intelligence and independent thought, but by a committee of lay people. No longer is it acceptable that MP’s should receive benefits that those in the private sector could only dream of. MP’s need a reality check, they are so insulated from the people they govern, that they seem to have no idea how to act responsibly or appropriately. There is a recession going on out here, people are losing their jobs, companies are closing, families are becoming homeless, personal wealth is falling at an alarming rate and no-one in power seems to give a toss, so long as they are okay.

Ask the average MP why he decided to go into politics and you will get dozens of different answers, but I guarantee that they will not say they did it for the money, yet on closer analysis, it appears that greed (if lawful greed) is the order of the day. If MP’s earnings are so low that they feel they must maximise expense claims whatever the morality, then I suggest they step aside and let ordinary people take their place at the next election. God knows, this country needs people that are in touch with reality, rather than on a different planet.

Gordon Brown needs to get his house in order and Cameron needs to come off the fence and make some recommendations regarding a review of expense allowances, not simply insist that MP’s publish an account of their past expenses. Sometimes I think Cameron is even more removed from reality than Gordon Brown, now that is scary, especially given he may be our next prime minister. The bottom line is, however, that there are few people in this government that deserve their positions, starting at the very top, but I am becoming more and more concerned that there are an increasing number MP’s, from all side of the house, that do not deserve to be described a honourable nor are they fit to represent the good and predominantly honest people of this country.

UPDATE:

Anyone that is angered by the information contained in this post may also like to be aware that there is a new Bill going through parliament which seeks to provide MP’s and all other public servants with what amounts to an immunity from prosecution (civil and criminal) with a legal definition of the term ‘reasonable discretion’. You can find out more here: Bill to Exercise Reasonable Discretion

Harman does it again

with 5 comments

At PMQ’s Harriet Harman made the following statement in response to a question about who had put Fred Goodwin forward and why; “I think Sir Fred was nominated for a knighthood because of his services for the Prince’s Trust.  “I understand it was not in recognition of his services to banking.”  Tut, tut Harriet, have you learned nothing? If you want to be PM in waiting you don’t try and guess the answers, you can only do that when you have the position, ask your boss! This statement has since been corrected by an official from her office.

But what does it tell us about Harriet Harman? It is, after all, only a few days since she suggested that the government would consider introducing new legislation, which would then be made retrospective, to enable the government to reverse Sir Fred Goodwin’s pension entitlement. Now, whilst I accept that there are at the very least, moral reasons why Sir Fred should not receive this pension, the fact remains that government ministers were party to, if not fully au fait with, the content of a compromise agreement, which is legally binding on all sides. To make matters worse, any threat to introduce legislation designed to target one citizen is a draconian move and anyone supporting or suggesting such an act must be considered a threat to all of us, especially when they are from a government that has paid lip service to civil liberties.  Sir Fred is NOT deserving of a pension in my view, but surely there are other ways in which this can be dealt with, for example, whether or not he had failed in his fiduciary duty?  If he had not, then there would, presumably, be some form of legal recourse using existing and established law.

In my view, Harriett Harman has, in the past week or so, confirmed why it is that she will never be a viable candidate for prime minister (or, more accurately, leader of the Labour Party).  Firstly, her judgement; no minister, whatever the motivation or justification should ever seek to use the immense power of government to target a single British subject. No-one deserves that, not even Sir Fred. Secondly, her knowledge on the subject matter; how is it that Ms Harman can claim to know all the details surrounding Sir Fred’s pension arrangements and the negotiations thereto, but not why Sir Fred was nominated for a knighthood and by whom? As Alan Duncan said, “Instead of worrying so much about her campaign to succeed Gordon Brown, she should focus on mastering the detail.”

I find it difficult to recall anything useful that Harriet Harman has ever done during her time as an MP, though I am happy to be corrected on that one, any takers? That said, at the risk of arguing against myself, perhaps that is why she would make a good leader of the Labour Party for their period in the wilderness which is certain to come after the next election. But PM, never, at least not in my life time, of that I am certain.

Written by British Politics

4 March, 2009 at 5:19 pm