Been an interesting old day in politics

Yes folks, I do sometimes actually do blog posts about politics in amongst the techie geekery.

Been a curious old day in UK politics today. Conditional resignation of the Prime Minister, serious possibility of a coalitions government between Labour and the LibDems, our unbiased and truth seeking press seeing two of its most self-opinionated protagonists going a bit mental, one of them twice if anyone was watching Sky ‘News’ at about 10pm and the real possibility of electoral reform. Not to mention a large number of commentators including William Hague suddenly not understanding how the British Parliamentary political system works.

For the record, I’m supportive of electoral reform. I’ll admit I used to support First Past the Post on the basis that it provides clearer governments but in equal measure it has led to the increasing detachment of politicians and the electorate. This isn’t the fault of politicians, nor is it the fault of the electorate, but combined they create a spiralling effect that further undermines participatory democracy.

From the politicians point of view, armed with little more than a marked register, which cost about £30 a ward, you can write off bothering to talk to nearly half the electorate because they don’t bother to vote. It’s a chicken and egg scenario of course, but by either not voting to start with or not voting because they don’t hear anything from their elected representatives those elected or aspiring to be elected representatives don’t need to bother engaging with them because what they think is irrelevant to their electoral success.

Things shouldn’t be like this which is why I do support the AV voting system but even accounting for this, AV will do some but not a great deal to change this situation.

Personally I support compulsory voting. Only when politicians know that every vote is up for grabs will they engage more widely with the electorate and not concentrate on those who they know will probably vote. Sadly this isn’t on the table of voting reform and I’m sure would be called ‘Stalinist’ (Not that Stalin went in for voting and Democracy of course) or some similar adjective synonymous of oppression or the ‘big evil state’.

That said, AV (actually the Labour manifesto states a referendum on AV for the Commons) will do for me which along with all the other bits and bobs in the Labour Party manifesto, I’ve spent the last month of my life campaigning for.

It’s interesting to note from the LibDems manifesto that they are full on for the STV system of voting reform. Obviously there are always areas where there can be shifts in policy when forming coalition governments but it’s interesting to note where the Tories stand on electoral reform:

“We support the first-past-the-post system for Westminster elections because it gives voters the chance to kick out a government they are fed up with.” Page 67 of the Tories Manifesto in case you were wondering.

A quite clear position on the what electoral system should be used for elections to Westminster.

Which I found rather strange that just after Gordon had said his piece outside Number 10 this afternoon that little Billy Hague immediately cropped up saying the Tories would offer a referendum on AV to the LibDems. (No-one at the back point and say the Tories are nicking our policies please, that would just be naughty).

It does however bring to question the extent to which the Tories respect our democratic system. Much to the dismay of the media, this is not America, it’s not a Presidential system, it’s a Parliamentary Democracy. While various commentators and news channels bang on about “we could have another unelected Prime Minister because they haven’t got an agenda of their own now have they? I’ve never voted for a Prime Minister. Every Parliamentary vote I have ever cast has been in the Walsall North constituency and they’ve all been for David Winnick who, to be fair, is probably a bit past it to be considering throwing his hat into the ring for the forthcoming (if there’s a coalition government between Labour and the LibDems) leadership election.

So odds on, like everyone else in the country, bar those 60,000ish people who are lucky enough to live in the constituency where a party leader who’s party forms a government happens to be the local MP, I don’t get to vote for the Prime Minister of our country and no amount of poxy US style Presidential debates are going to change that no matter what the pundits want.

So for William Hague who despite his political persuasions and views, but who is undoubtedly a fairly clever chappy to come out and abandon a key party manifesto pledge in little over 15 minutes after Gordon had openly offered electoral reform (which is in our manifesto) smacks of desperation from the Tories who are intent on getting into Number 10 at any cost, even if it means reneging on the platform they stood for election on only 5 days ago.

It’s been almost hilarious at times to see the reactions of the talking heads in the media. They don’t seem particularly happy chappies about about the idea that someone other than the Tories might be forming the next government. The lines are clearly scripted so I expect to see, should it come to pass “the government of losers”, “another unelected Prime Minister” and various other spurious rubbish bandied about.

However, if a lot more people voted Labour, LibDem, and any other parties thrown into the mix than did Tory then so be it. It merely exposes the interests and agendas of a politicised media for what they are.

I’ll be sad to see Gordon go. We didn’t have an election for leader of the Labour Party when Blair stepped down. Personally I think we should have but I would have voted for Gordon then and would do now. I don’t go for the approach that some have in recent days in calling for him to go. I’ve met him a few times over the years and nothing struck me more than the difference between how he has been portrayed by the media and the bloke in person. He probably is a flawed grumpy old sod at times but so am I, and that doesn’t negate the drive and motivation to make Britain a better and fairer place for all, to combat social injustice and open opportunity to all, irrespective of their backgrounds.

These are truly interesting times in UK Politics and I’ll be fascinated to see how things pan out. I may even start blogging about politics a bit more as well.

On a side issue which I note isn’t getting anywhere near the attention but certainly attracts my interest is the election for the new General Secretary of the Unite Union of which Len McCluskey is one of the candidate. I’ll be following this one closely.

4 thoughts on “Been an interesting old day in politics

  1. You put the cart before the horse. The electorate are jaded. In this “crunch election” turnout is what, 65%? More people thought, sod it and stayed at home than voted Labour. There’s sureley a variety of reasons but I can only speak for myself.

    I think the Libdems are oppurtunistic idiots utterly without principle and the last few days has confirmed that. I can’t vote Tory for reasons I shouldn’t have to go into so why don’t I vote Labour?

    You talk about Brown being driven to make Britain a fairer place. If that’s true then how is it after 13 years of Brown at the heart of government the gap between rich and poor has widened? Why has the decline in social mobility accelerated? Is it because this commitment to fairness doesn’t extend beyond rhetoric or is it just plain lies?

    You can sidestep those questions if you like and talk about minimum wage and tax credits if you want to but it would be desperately predictable and as we’re now staring in the face the prospect of this generation being poorer than the last a lot of crap.

    My solution? Ignore you lot, it’d be nice if you’d ignore us as well but that’s too much to hope for given the experience of the IWCA in Oxford.

  2. Let me get this straight again. You’re backing up your argument with an article about social mobility which I presume you would accept takes time to work through the system especially as it is a contrast between different generations by using a link to an article that was published 5 years ago and on who’s dataset is even older I presume?

    I won’t bother searching for it, just do some yourself for Paul Gregg, Economic Professor at Bristol University who has done some slightly more up to date analysis, as in 2010 which slows a very different picture.

    You are also concentrating on one area, educational achievement of which there are many other measures of social mobility. I’m sure you’d pass it off as a soundbite or ‘bullshit’ but have you seen how many working class kids are going off to university these days? A damn sight more than the 1% that made it there from my old school.

    You completely ignore social mobility differentials between the sexes and racial background. Go do some research and see the changes there.

    As for your ‘leave us alone to find our own way’ that seems rather similar to the Tories big society idea which basically means let those who know how to get on do it and those who don’t then sod them which will do wonders for innequality in our society, both social and economic.

    I’m still waiting for your solution to why people don’t vote. I’m all ears to your wisdom. Have you registered your own party yet like I suggested? I look forward to seeing you out there convincing all those people who don’t vote to suddenly be inspired to vote. You may find it slightly more difficult in practice than theory, but give it a try and see how many people raise nationalising the railways and PFI on the doorstep. Outside of the Labour Party and my Trades Union I have never ever heard any voter raise PFI on the doorstep to me.

    Then again, I could just chalk you off as an armchair ranter that I don’t care about because you don’t vote anyway. Once again proving my point, if you don’t vote then why should any politician care about what you think when there’s plenty of other people who do vote that they can spend their time and effort on?

  3. OK, one last chance, what’s your solution? As it was me asking you the question in the first place until you decided to be all politician-like and ignore then ask your own. If you won’t give me the courtesy of answering my original question of what your solution is to people not voting then I don’t see why I should bother wasting my time answering yours.

    I would add, the whole Labour (insert whatever other political fantasy party you want) enthusing the working class to come out and vote with some wonderful bit of egalitarian/redistributive policy isn’t an answer.

    Go read the the 1983/87 Labour Party manifestos which had plenty of that in, the working class didn’t all come out and bring about a workers nirvana, those that didn’t vote and don’t now still didn’t and quite a few of them thought getting a council house on the cheap was a better option.

    I’ve persisted with you and given you ample opportunities to answer my question and give your solution and on every occasion you have ignored, dodged or asked your own without giving me the dignity of an answer.

    So unless you can provide one I really don’t have any reason to consider wasting any more of my time on you. Which I’m sure you will go off happy and content that I’m some New Labour anti-working class sell-out or some such but as you advocate that it’s not worth bothering to vote in the first place then your position is self-defeating.

    If you cannot find a political party that fits your views out of the rather large selection available who are registered in the UK nor set up your own and see how your policies get on with bringing about an uprising of popular support from the working class then I’m afraid I’ll just consider you to be one of those people, happy in permanent opposition, safe in the knowledge that their views are are really what everyone wants even though next to no one votes for them. There were loads of people like that in the Labour Party in the 80′s and early 90′s, most left because they couldn’t handle the possibility of responsibility of power. If you want to waste your life on the political fringes of politics where you always know best but damn those parties that actually get the votes because one day if we all wait everyone will see we were right then fine, your problem, not mine.

    I on the other hand will continue campaigning to actually make a positive difference to our society as slow and frustrating as it may be at times, but I’d rather do that then be an armchair ranter who does nothing to improve the lot of those at the bottom end of our society.

  4. Dear Freddie, I asked nicely, you didn’t answer my question, so therefore I can’t be bothered to post your latest rant and twisting the original question back to your own questions of which I’m certainly not going to be bothered to waste time addressing as you haven’t reciprocated.

    I am fair in the discourse that I encourage on my site but if all you wish to do is have a rant, blame others and do nothing yourself to change things other than have a hissy fit, go off and and not vote because that will really teach them won’t it then you’re not worth bothering with.

    Don’t waste your time writing any more comments, they won’t appear if that is your approach to debate. Feel free to call me a horrid old New Labour stooge or some such analogy because I don’t particularly care and will spend my time more constructively with those who do care about our society and actually do something about it.

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