Sunday, 6 June 2010

An Overdue Return

Well in all the excitement of finishing exams and university life I've neglected talking about what's going on in the world, I'm sure people have missed it. What's going on in our new ConDem-nation?

We've had a little bit of time now to get used to this whole coalition government business and its high time I gave my view on it (I bet regular readers can guess before I even start!). My favourite story, if it turns out to be true, actually happened before Cameron even moved in but we didn't hear about until now. Apparently one of Gordon Brown's last acts (before writing some letters to people that inspired him) was to accept a pay cut for the office of Prime Minister, just in time for David to arrive. Depending on your party either an underhand trick or a pure stroke of genius, good lad Gord. The real masterpiece was that David can't even complain about it because it was he who argued for scaling back Ministers pay!

But anyway, on to actual policies. We had our first wave of cuts come through since the election, nice to see Lib Dem's sticking to what they said in the campaign. Yes, coalition means compromise, but I don't see how doing exactly what the Conservatives wanted and dropping all your own argument's is a compromise? And David Cameron's promise to eliminate waste ahead of any front-line losses must be sounding pretty hollow now in light of his cutting of the Future Jobs Fund. How he can lump that in the same kind of 'efficiencies' savings as pot plants is beyond me. That fund gave guaranteed work for long-term unemployed young people, the very people that Cameron claimed he was saving from a lifetime of being saddled with national debt. That's all very nice but it won't help them much to be out of work.

We had our first resignation (which ruined my prediction that Vince Cable would be first to go!) of a minister in the shape of David Laws. Now people are pretty split about whether or not he should have gone but I think in the end at a personal level it would have been very tough for him to stay. Those who argue that the media coverage was homophobic are plain wrong to start with, no-one was bothered about giving money to a gay partner, just that it was his partner who was being given money, regardless of gender. And I know there is the argument that he could have legitimately claimed more money and that he was protecting his privacy, but surely it would have been much more private to just have paid the rent out of his own pocket if that was what he was worried about? After all, he isn't short of cash having worked in the city.

And then Labour continue their contest for a new leader. Nice to see Andy Burnham looking like he could get on the ballot paper and it'd be even nicer if McDonnell and Abbott could manage it. I might not agree with them but the more people in the debate the better it will be. I'm a little disappointed that Harriet Harman isn't running as she's shown at PMQ's she's certainly capable, and she'd have a lot of support in the party, even if she isn't my own personal favourite. Another one to watch for the future as she's ruled herself out this time is Yvette Cooper, she wanted to spend a few more years with her children whilst they were young, completely understandably, but she speaks well and her article about the sexism she faced for not standing from Cameron and the right is a fine piece.

In my first ever post on politics I talked about how I had a lot of time for the Lib Dem's whilst still being a Labour man. After their performance over the past few weeks I'd have to say I'm fast falling out of favour with them as they drift away from the centre-left and are looking more like a centre-right party. If they fail to vote against raising tuition fees when it inevitably comes up (and abstaining from a vote is not enough by any measure) then that really will be the final straw and you could see that as the moment they abandon all their previously held principles. That's that, feel free to tell me where I'm wrong if you disagree.


Unbiased Opinion. said...

I actually like a few of their policies; namely the freedom bill ones. Also the fact that they're not allowing children to be kept in detention centres (which I've heard are pretty horrible places). It's the exact reasons that you said you were falling out with the Lib Dems that made me skeptical of Labour- they were getting more and more authoritarian. I have heard quite a feel people say that Clegg is acually quite centre-right in his views and I've seen a political compass which showed the LDs as centre-right liberal whilst the other two were centre-right authoritarian. A bit crappy, really.

Unbiased Opinion. said...

*a few people say.

Chris said...

Yes, I don't think anyone could consider children being in detention centres acceptable, that got pretty much unanimous support, and as for the freedom bill I haven't seen enough of it to comment.

One of Labours biggest mistakes of the last 13 years was to get caught up in the hype from the US and lose touch wit civil liberties, something I'd hope the next leader would recognise.

But I would certainly never ever describe them as centre-right,the proudest achievements are all very much progressive ideas. Minimum wage, a greatly expanded NHS and equal rights are all things I would associate with a progressive left rather than centre-right party.

Unbiased Opinion. said...

I haven't looked into the freedom bill that much, there was just a short section about it in the Metro newspaper and it seemed pretty good at first glance. :P

Yep, that's true. I guess that was more Blair's doing than Brown as well.

They're their good achievements. However, they've also privatised part of the NHS, become tougher on immigration, introduced the counter-terrorism bills, backed the (illegal) Iraq war (although I don't know enough about it to have a full opinion) and, under them, the rich-poor divide got large(but to be honest, I don't know how much of the last one actually is Labour's fault). Don't get me wrong, I would much rather have Labour in power than the Tories but I can see why left-wingers would get disenchanted with New Labour.

Chris said...

I think the left-wingers were a bit disenchanted with New Labour for dragging them toward the centre ground, but I'd still say we stuck on the left of the line. New Labour was needed after the mess of the 80's when the party could have collapsed. Now that it's in better shape (losing the last election notwithstanding) it can go back to its members and look back at its mistakes. The party activists saved a lot of seats and its only by using them properly that we can win again, New Labour didn't use its members well enough.

That's what many leadership candidates have said and if they stick to it I think Labour will be stronger for it.

Unbiased Opinion. said...

I guess they are fairly centrist overall but I would still say that they have a few centre-right policies. I suppose the party members themselves would differ in political views (like any party); apparently Ed Miliband is fairly left inclined while Blair wasn't.

You know, if the leaders do take a step back and appreciate mistakes that they've made, I think a lot of people would be happy.

To be fair, I would call the election a verge on success on their part- they had the Murdoch empire against them and they've been in power for years, yet they still hung onto a fair amount of seats. I suspect that in a few years, they will return into power, and hopefully will veer more towards the left.