The Politics of ...

The Politics of ...

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

The Doldrums

Boy, am I glad that I didn't throw my hat into the ring! The rise of the Independent didn't happen; in fact, it went backwards. It seems that with this election the prime target was to punish the Liberals. Punish them for Nick Clegg, for supporting budget cuts - which it seems is much worse than implementing them, for tuition fees and, it would appear, for abandoning their ideology for a shot at power sharing.

Despite all of this, many people still went into last week's elections thinking that the country would support a change in the way we vote and would slap the Tories down as hard as they were going to the Libdems. Talk before the election was that the Tory party would lose 1000 seats, the Libdems 500 and Labour would be the big winners. None of that, quite amazingly, happened. The Tories actually gained seats and control of councils; Labour were shunned in a Scotland that is growing further and further away from mainstream politics, won in Wales and made headway in the North and some unexpected areas, but overall, the only victor was the Conservative party - no escaping the fact, regardless of how bitter it makes me feel.

My take on this chain of events is for a while the AV referendum was a definite Yes vote; but there were obviously more people, like me, intending to use the vote as a political weapon rather than as a way forward. 67.9% of the people who voted were unanimous in their wish to say No.

The Human Shield analogy has been raised a lot and probably is correct. The Tories exploited Clegg's unpopularity; the lack of cohesion within the Labour party, that essentially saw safe Labour MPs vote Yes and those in marginals opt for No. This isn't an exact science, but if you look at the figures you will see a definite trend. I think what happened was bizarrely the core of Libdem voters are not actually liberals; there's a huge percentage of them that are either disillusioned Labour or Conservative voters, unhappy with the way the party they support is operating at that moment. Socially conscious Conservatives and right leaning Socialists vote Libdem, but went back to their spiritual homes for these elections. The Liberal Democrats aren't finished, but they're not going to be in the game if they survive the coalition's 5 year plan. Nick Clegg better hope for a knighthood or a peerage because he's not going to keep his seat at the next election. His kids are going to be asking why Papa is at home all day every day, growing his hair, not shaving and becoming fixated with Jeremy Kyle.

Political commentators are saying that the Tories are almost hoping to be able to call a snap General Election, because the feeling at Millbank is they would win it with a healthy majority; but the NHS is a key debate at the moment and no one, even Tories, trust their party with the health of the populace; the NHS could mean they end up not winning outright again and the prospect of a Labour, Scottish National Party, LibDem pact becomes all too apparent.

What the No vote might have done to English politics is turn it back into a two party nation, at least for the next generation. With Scotland and Wales having more appointed politicians than most corporations have directors - MPs, members of the Welsh Assembly, MSPs, mayors, councillors, parish and district councillors - that country is becoming more synonymous with politicians than leeks and sheep!

What a No vote did was keep fringe politics where it was and in the case of the BNP that is a good thing, but what about the Green Party? In an ideal world, every council in Britain should have two or three Green councillors. But, you see, we have to accept that the BNP have representation in these lands. We might find it and the people who follow the politics abhorrent, but this is, the last time I looked, a free country and we're tolerant even if the target of our ire isn't. Perhaps the question on May 5th should have been to decide whether or not council elections should be decided by PR - Proportional Representation. Then a four term study over 16 years could decide if it works and whether or not there was the ability to introduce it as an alternative vote. The councils run the country on a daily basis, surely that would have been the logical place to start with a voting and electoral reform idea? 20 years sounds like a long time, but I remember 1991 like it was yesterday...

The Lib Dems are going to hold onto what they've got and will make a good, if not vainglorious, attempt at looking like they are tempering Tory excesses; they'll get concessions on bills, but you can bet your life the concessions will already have been decided by the Tory policy makers before the Liberals make them. I expect politics to take a turn in the calm waters of wait and see; I don't expect much to happen for the next few months; the Treasury will sit back and watch to see if their radical plans are working and there'll be the occasional dog fight, probably to do with lack of services or a new Lansley idea to be torn to shreds by the left. The first year of this coalition is over and it's still alive; it's probably best for all nothing much happens for a while.


When Sean Connery returned to the Bond film franchise, the film he made reflected what he'd said in the late Sixties when he quit the role - Never Say Never Again. Throughout my life I've fallen victim to these four words on numerous occasions.

My intention is to take a break from this blog. I'm feeling a mixture of disillusionment about politics and struggling to come to terms with my own impending redundancy, because of the cuts. The politics thing is because I think it's all a bit pointless at the moment. I know that's a cop out and we should have challenging voices all the time, but factor in my personal position and you can understand why, hopefully.

I'm not closing it down and I will probably still post links and will be incensed by something enough to get my soapbox out. This has never been a regular thing, any how, but it's likely to get more irregular. My other two blogs are different beasts; one is already finished and just gets automatically posted and my personal blog isn't going anywhere.

Let's all hope it doesn't get worse, eh?

Saturday, 7 May 2011


The local Liberal Democrat candidate for my ward, Nazi Slam, probably lost his deposit. The lack of Labour candidates in 'pointless wards' possibly handed overall control to the Tories. Tony Clarke, who has done more for this town in recent years than, I dunno, anyone, lost his seat. Northampton became blue and I lost my faith in human nature.

I'm glad that I didn't stand as an independent; by the looks of things I would have been crushed by voter apathy and the Tories ability to mobilise their minority support, where other parties just don't bother or, more realistically, can't. The political landscape of Northampton has just become a hostile and ultimately destructive place. The new keepers of the Borough Council are not benign; they will be looking at how to drag Northampton back from the brink of bankruptcy as quickly as possible and that means in four years time you will be left wondering just what the party has done to have deserved to get the majority vote. This is not bad blood or sour grapes. The last Tory only administration NBC had screwed the town up so badly they became something of a laughing stock and there were huge calls for a unified council.

The Libdems took a kicking. Every one knew they would and former councillors must be looking at their results this morning and thinking two things - how can they consider trusting Nick Clegg ever again and probably more likely, they'll be wondering where it all went wrong. The brutal defeat of the Liberals and the failure by Labour to bother turning up in 14 of the wards will not explain why the Tories - the stronger party in government - increased its share and gained strength from it - bucking a trend that never gets bucked. Incumbent parties never do well at local elections; it's almost a God given. Yet, the Tories shone will they're coalition partners disappeared into the ether and considering the cuts, the job losses, the support of another Arab war, the many faux pas, Andrew Lansley and Michael Gove, the Tories will be sitting in their ivory towers, with smug grins and wondering whether or not holding a general election in September would see them return with a working majority and the ability to spend 5 years fucking up the country even more.

But that's just me being a prophet. The sad truth is that even though most people who live in this town know someone who has lost their job because of government and council cuts, they either didn't vote or decided that it was time for the Tories. And boy is that sad. It doesn't matter whether you disagree with labour's ideology, whether or not you can allow yourself to be bothered by others less fortunate than you, the people of Northampton have spoken and reflected the national feeling and Britain has become a scarier and less safe place to live in. If you voted Tory, I really truly hope that you suffer for it over the next four years. I mean, really suffer, because perhaps you'll be swayed to never vote for them again. They don't like you; they don't care about you and yet you fall for them like a hirsute bad boy, every time...

Friday, 6 May 2011

The Mourning After

What have we learned?

Scotland no longer trusts the three main British parties. It wants to see how it handles things itself.
Labour is still suffering from a power hangover.
People appear to be blaming Nick Clegg and the Libdems for the coalition decisions.
The Tories must be delighted to be in cahoots with the Libdems.

I think it's time we got off the Libdems' backs. It's the Tories that have caused the cuts and the disharmony around the country; they're the party with the most seats. Had they had a majority in the Commons then they could well have been facing humiliating results.

It's time to turn our ire to Blue. Clegg is finished, his 15 minutes of fame have gone. The AV vote will be a potentially fatal blow to the heart of this coalition. The Libdems will have lost all they believe in over two days in May.

Part of me just can't fathom how people seem to have conveniently forgotten that Cameron, Osborne, Gove, et al are basically a bunch of millionaires who don't give a shit about any of us and are destroying lives to get themselves into the history books. We have to focus on these self-serving Tory charlatans, the time for kicking the disabled and disaffected Libdems is over.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Wipe Out

Two major political decisions will be made next week. The first will possibly be the complete wiping out of the Liberal Democrats from the councils of the UK - this, it seems, is what a lot of political commentators believe will happen. The Libs will suffer the brunt of the backlash and the Tories, while still unpopular, will possibly (and amazingly) benefit.

The second and arguably far more important is the first referendum in this country since about 1971. You have a choice - you can vote YES or NO and you don't have to put a 1 in the Yes column and a 2 in the No.

I've sat very much on the fence as far as the AV referendum is concerned. I started out very much on the No side, started wavering at the beginning of April and planted myself firmly in the Yes camp by the middle of the month just gone.

This vote is a mixture of what YOU feel and speculation. It is a difficult issue and as many have said, the wrong question has been asked. For me, the time for debating whether the right question has been asked is moot, the important thing is, to be quite crass, how can you vote to ensure the coalition suffers hardest?

As far as I'm concerned, and I can point you in the right direction if you need swaying, a Yes vote will ensure that Political Voting Reform will continue to be part of the agenda for the foreseeable future. You might find AV confusing, but a Yes vote means that the thing can be honed, chiselled at and generally tinkered with until it's easy to understand or it becomes something more akin to PR - Proportional Representation, which, I think is the ideal that most of the Yes campaigners are aspiring to.

If you vote No. You are saying you are happy with First Past the Post and you don't mind the fact that the Tories have ruled this country umpteen times without the mandate of the people. 54% of Brits continually voted against Margaret Thatcher, yet she won 3 General Elections and this allowed her to tinker with county and town borders to ensure that the Tories had an easier chance of winning again. A No vote removes the subject of Voting Reform from the political agenda and it will languish, unspoken of, for another 30 years and you and me will continue to have pompous arses like David Cameron ruining our country.

Going back to the council elections briefly; in an ordinary world, the voters have an option when one party is in power - vote for one of the other main parties. This time Labour stand on their own; people will look at two things - Ed Milliband who hasn't got the gravitas of a proper statesmen yet and that councils are better off run by coalitions or the Tories. Just remember the new school your kid is in, or the new hospitals built around the country, or the development that doesn't EVER happen when Tories run the country or your local government.

If you can't bring yourself to vote Labour on May 5, then vote Green or Independent or for someone who actually gives a shit about the ward you live in. Councils should really be run by the people who need them the most.

My final word on the AV debate is that a Yes vote might not destroy this unholy alliance that runs the country, but it will be a vote against David Cameron, George Osborn, Michael Gove and a host of other millionaires who like FPTP because it keeps them from doing a proper job. A Yes vote gives us all the chance to elect the right person, not the person who gets the most votes in a 30% turn out, effectively winning with a lot less than 30% of the entire vote.

Vote for AV; vote for change. Vote for the chance to debate the voting system in the country. Don't vote No and box the entire country into a corner for a generation or two.