The “Blood” of Politics.

January 15, 2010

Constantly, when you read an article about politics they always act it out like it is a gladiatorial contest and that blood will be spilt and heads will roll, a Brutus waiting around every corner to take down Gordonus Ceasar.

Let us not forget that in a land far away from our own, there really is blood being spilt. British blood, in a war which this government (with the Conservatives also voting in favour) has started.

The closest thing we get to a politician’s blood being spilt is the possible sting from the odd thrown egg, cup of custard, or even a condom full of flour.

It might be worth remembering that when the bullets fly, our politicians will be far away from the real bloodshed.

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The BNP, fascist bigots or Socialist bigots?

January 15, 2010

Lord Tebbit has said that in his opinion the BNP are just “Old Labour with added racism”

This is something I have been screaming about for months. If you actually look beyond the racism (not that you need to because thats enough to never be interested in them again) they do in fact have many socialist policies.

If you were to walk back into the 1950s and see the BNP manifesto, you would be forgiven for mistaking it for being the Labour government of the day. If, as I have  stated in a previous post you would of course be forgiven for having no idea who the Labour or Conservative manifesto of today would belong to back then.

This constant assumption that fascism and racism are mutually exclusive is simply not the case. Stalin was another racist totalitarian who would murder people because of what race they belonged to.

Why am I even bothering to point this out?

Because it is important for people to understand what we need to do to appease these BNP voters. The problems for them quite often is not immigration. BNP are taking votes from traditional old Labour mining towns who are more and more disillusioned by British politics and what they have to offer the working classes. Many of these people live in towns where they would never have even seen an immigrant let alone have their “job taken” by one.

If you want to appease parties like the BNP, then concessions do have to be made. They do not however have to be concessions which are tantamount to racism. By giving a little, you can suffocate the extremists. This is something the two main parties could, if careful do properly.

Policies that genuinely would benefit the unemployed rather than putting them in a poverty trap, for example; would help. Having a genuine discussion on immigration, with proper outcomes instead of people screaming racist as soon as you bring up the topic. Instead, we are getting to a position where the BNP have councillors, as well as a London Assembly member as well as MEPs. Thanks to FPTP it looks like we won’t be seeing a BNP MP, but, unless we start addressing why people vote that way, who knows what the future holds for these… Fascist?… Communist….? Socialist…?… Bigots.

Hung Parliament, Where will it get us, or not get us?

January 13, 2010

A hung Parliament, is looking like a real possibility for the first time in a long long time.

This is where no party has an overall majority.

Why should you care? Because it means that a lot of the snap decisions that have been made recently would not have been able to be put through so easily.

The rather average Nick Clegg of the Lib Dems has claimed that he will side with whichever party has the most seats, in order to form a majority government if the need for a coalition arises. I am however sure that this will require some political sacrifice on the part of the ruling party, and if that does not work, a 3 way split is a real possibility.

There is already minority governments in the UK, for example. Scotland has a minority government. Scotland has 129 Members of Scottish Parliament (MSPs). 73 of these are constituency members and the remaining 56 members are top up members as discussed in my previous post.

The SNP however have formed a minority Government, led by Alex Salmond. Has this led to massive problems in legislation making? Not really, they don’t do much anyway…. With exceptionally limited powers.

My point is, there is no other place where we can see exactly what a minority/coalition government would mean for the UK.

Italy has a coaltion government, but that is, for want of a better term, pretty corrupt country with a different political ethic to that of the UK.

It is however undoubted that it would lead to large amounts of horse trading, such as what is seen in the EU (something I will undoubtedly touch on in a later post). Basically, currently, a party gets in and implements it’s manifesto, under a minority government this could not be guaranteed. But here comes the saving grace of the British constitution, Conventions.

There is a convention in the UK which states that the ruling party should not have their manifesto blocked in any way.

So yes, we know manifesto pledges will be stuck to, but what about emergencies?

This is surely when a government needs to act fastest.

This is a much hazier area, where we don’t really know what would happen, but if a party is dragging their heels, who knows.

One thing is for sure though. Under a hung Parliament, everything which is controversial in the slightest (Terrorism Act for example) would be discussed at back breaking length until there is a parliament wide compromise.

In some cases though there is an issue where there could be a minority party which has a ridiculous amount of say in politics.

If for example, the party needs just 1 more MP to have a majority, they might end up making substantial concessions to get that 1 extra MP on side (a green party member for example). That sounds slightly undemocratic doesn’t it?

At the same time though it removes the current element of rubber stamping that our Parliament seems to become when there is a huge majority.

It could easily be claimed that Tony Blair (1997-2005) and Thatcher 1979-1987) could more or less rule by themselves, as in these terms they had huge majorities and could easily survive a fairly large rebellion in Parliament with their huge majorities.

The problem came for them when they had to adjust in their final terms to not having such a large majority, and having to begin to give in to cabinet etc.

It is worthy of note that in1974 there was a hung Parliament in the February election which was quickly followed by another election in October which led to a Labour majority government.

So, there are clear arguments for both.

I would argue personally, but I would love to hear your opinion, that Hung parliament is right if it is democratically elected, but a hung parliament in a non PR system would be terrible. So, for example, if Labour end up getting 25% of the votes yet 30% of the seats, and Cons end up getting 35% of the votes and 30% of the seats (we already know the Tories need a roughly +7% swing) then that, I would argue would be the worst possible reason for there to be a hung Parliament….

It is however worth noting that we might see no real difference if there is a coalition or a minority government. With the consensual politics being the politics of the day, there is a chance things will go on as normal, which will surely be a serious indictment on the state of British Politics.

First Past The Post… A dying electoral system, or the best one for us.

January 13, 2010

First Past the Post is a disgustingly undemocratic electoral system that ensures that only one person need bother to vote.

First Past the Post ensures (in the majority of cases) a government is put in place that can effectively implement it’s manifesto pledges.

I would argue with you all day that both of these are completely true statements.

Here is my “informative” part, to the best of my abilities.

Currently, in the UK, we use an electoral system caled First Past The Post (FPTP).

Basically a constituency is made up of many people, there are 646 MPs, and each one represents roughly the same amount of people.

In the FPTP system, People vote for who they want to be their local MP, and the person with the most votes wins.

So, literally, if one person gets 10,000 votes and the second place person gets 9,999 votes, then the person with 10,000 votes becomes the MP and the person in second gets nothing, either for himself or for his party.

This means, and did mean in England in 2005, that the ruling party can actually have less votes than the party that came second. In England in 2005, Labour ended up with more MPs than the Conservatives, despite actually getting less votes (although across the UK, they did get more votes).

The main problems with this is that it means that if you are a party that has wide narrow support (Lib Dems) then you do nowhere near as well as parties which have deep support (Labour/Cons).

For example, in the 2005 General Election, the Lib Dems ended up with 22.1% of the vote but got only 9.6% of the seats, with Labour getting 35.3% of the vote and 55.2% of the seats. Something which is, it can easily be claimed undemocratic.

It does also (rightly or wrongly) give rise to independents.

For example, “Health Concern” Gained 0.1% of the votes yet still gained a seat in the House of Commons.

In the mean time UKIP, Britain’s 4th largest party ended up with 2.2% of the votes but did not even get one seat.

There are undoubtedly positives to this system, even if there are some undemocratic disadvantages, the two in fact are one in the same.

Best example of this would be the BNP. They get enough votes that if all BNP members moved into about 8 constituencies they would probably win all the seats. We see this as a (strangely) undemocratic positive to our political system, and rightly so. However, despite the fact that I despise the party, if people vote for it, shouldn’t they get it?

So, what is the alternative?

Something like proportional representation?

Basically, there is an argument for, get the amount of votes, and then allocate the seats accordingly. So,i f a party gets 10% of the votes, they get 10% of the seats and so on.

As democratic as it gets I would argue, but rises the problems of a hung Parliament (Which I will discuss in my next post).

Pure PR however would lead to a system where no-one has a constituency MP, a local representative who can redress your grievances in Parliament.

There are however “Hybrid Schemes” which are basically “PR with a constituency link.”

Do you want an example? Try every single election which takes place in all of the devolved assemblies in the UK eg Scotland, NI, Wales and London.

London can be my example.

basically, London in London Assembly elections is split into 14 FPTP seats. This ensures that everyone in London has an assembly member.

Then, to make things proportionate, there is a “top-up” system which seeks to rebalance things. 11 seats are allocated in this way. As a result we can say in London that we have a constituency member and a proportionately representative Assembly.

In effect it means that if your Constituency member you voted for gets 9,999 votes and the other person gets 10,000, then your vote was not a wasted vote because it can still be counted when it comes to the top up list.

This does however mean that if the Assembly was to be a form of Parliament instead of a scrutiny panel which barely scrutinises (no doubt a topic for a later post)  that there would be a “hung parliament) with the Conservatives only controlling 11 of the 25 positions.

On top of this, the BNP do have an assembly member due to the Top up lists, albeit one who is more or less seen as a clown with in the chamber and is ignored and ridiculed whenever he dares utter a word from his corner in his sickly cream suit.

But still, if the people vote for it, isn’t it what they and we ultimately deserve? And with the possibility (again) of there being a coalition government with the Lib Dems being a part of it it is looking more and more likely that electoral reform might have to be seriously considered in the near future….

So, Cameron will not cut the NHS…. But what will he do?

January 13, 2010

Recently, we have seen (unavoidable) portraits of Cameron along our roadsides, proclaiming that he “will cut the deficit, not the NHS.”

Well, lets put aside all these “Tories can’t be trusted because they are milk snatching scum” arguments for a few minutes and instead look at what they are willing to do.

To me, it seems that it is scary how little they have revealed. As a Conservative Party Member myself I feel very worried about this.

Cameron seems to be relying on the “Let the socialists usurp themselves till the election.” Something which it seems may give him the edge in the election, as it currently is in the polls.

So what exactly do our new hug a hoody Conservatives stand for.

I have recently been having a string of debates with various people in which I am fighting with myself as to whether I can bring myself to vote for the Conservatives at the next election.

One of the things which I have had people say to me is “But there are so many major issues like the Iraq and Afghan wars that we need to focus on.” Agreed. But neither of the two key political parties differ on this.

One of my favourite analogies of what has happened to our politics in the UK was told to me a couple of years ago.

Imagine two ice cream vans on a beach, no one will walk past one ice cream van to get to another….

In the 70s, the Ice cream vans were parked either side of the beach (Conservatives and Labour) and as a result they both represented their voters… But then it appeared that more and more people were going to the middle of the beach, so gradually, the ice cream vans, in an attempt to steal more of their competitors customers, moved into the centre of the beach. Eventually, they were parked alongside each other,  but were now a long way from their old customers, left on the far wings (pun intended) of the beach.

So. What are your and my options?

Vote Conservative, for no cuts to the NHS, but cuts in other important areas?

Vote Labour for continued problems, with disgusting levels of infighting.

Well, lets look at what we can consider the pros and cons of each side.

Conservatives:

Cameron has a big advantage, he is media savvy. He really is as he says, “The heir to Blair.” I am personally, sadly of the belief that a Prime Minister needs to be spectacularly brilliant with the media, as this wil have a huge influence on his party, whilst the cabinet do the back breaking work.

The Conservatives would also be a new government, and, they have (although to a very weak extent) stated that they will need to give us some pretty rough medicine in the next Parliament if they get in, giving them a mandate to sadly implement a lot of the necessary evils that would hellp us cut the NHS.

The idea now that the Conservatives are complete poor bashers is one which is entirely ridiculous and I would say that New Conservatives are as far away from Thatcher as New Labour are from their socialist roots. (Both being on the middle of the beach). Just look at the Conservative’s lack of commitment to abolish the 50% tax bracket as an example of this

The negatives though…

I must say, the idea that the Consevative front bench might be somewhat “out of touch” with the electorate, is one which I can definitely sympathise with. Etonians are hardly the working class heroes so many of us aspire to have as our leaders. But consider this. I hate to say this but unless there is some form of major rebellion, the cabinet really are the illuminati and decision makers in Parliament. On both sides of the chamber these are largely made up of people who one could claim are very much “out of touch” with the everyday man, although there are some very admirable back bench MPs.

I would however put forth the argument that Cameron and Osborne do seem to be quite honestly like a pair of know it all toffs. I don’t want them representing my party, at all. Nor do, in fact many of the other party members.

Labour Positives:

Brown, yes, he does come across as a bit hopeless and is definitely not as media savvy as Cameron. He is however highly experienced, and there is next to no doubt in my mind that this recession would be far deeper had we been under a Conservative government. The Conservatives, lest we forget are the party that until recently were calling for “less legislation in the city.” God knows what that would have led to….

Having said this. The rise in “stealth taxes” is ridiculous. Basically, I look at regressive taxation and progressive taxation. Income tax is progressive taxation, the more you earn the more you pay as a percentage of your income. Fact.

Duty on alcohol and cigarettes, regressive taxation. If you earn £10,000 a year then £3 on a pack of cigarettes is a much higher % of your income than if you earn £200,000.

This has gone on to such an extent in the UK that the Poorest 20% of people in Britain get taxed a higher proportion of their income than the richest 20%. Hardly a socialist ideaology.

Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.

Currently, we are in the worst recession in living memory for most of us. Surely it would be better to have the people that we know in power, who know the mistakes they have made and know a lot better how to rectify them than the Conservatives would.

Well, who do you think we should vote for. I have no idea…. Help me out.