It appears that we may have a coalition between one of the main parties and the Liberal Democrats. Gordon Brown has resigned, the New Labour era is over, and David Cameron has been invited to the palace to see the Queen to be asked to form a Government.
Douglas Alexander has said that a coalition which includes the SNP would not be acceptable or tenable. Brown is resigning as Labour leader to enable succession of another leader as Prime Minister. Nick Clegg has negotiated, but it is not clear what the outcome of their discussions were.
It seems, ridiculously and perversely, that Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) has blocked the Lab-LibDem Coalition. For what reason? With Labour and the LibDems both left-of-centre, a coalition between them would be incredibly sensible. Yes, they would be a disaster for Britain, but it is coherent. It would be a realignment of the left.
A progressive coalition would be hard to stomach, but it is at least ideologically combatible. Would it split the LibDems? Would it split Labour ? Yes, clearly, in both cases, but that would be worth this goal being achieved.
And yet, such a coalition would have no mandate in England where the Conservatives polled 9,911,062 (39.6%), Labour 7,037,229 (28.1%), the Lib Dems 6,067,303 (24.2%). In terms of seats, C 297, L 191 and LD 43, giving the Tories a big majority of 63 in England.
But now that Brown has resigned, it is the end of New Labour . The end of Labour for now.
David Cameron ‘modernised’ his party, which meant – like Blair – ceded some of its ideological ground and sought to appease the left. Notting Hill Cameronism is not what Conservative voters thought they were voting for, but they voted for it nonetheless – but that may be what they get – indeed, many voters did not vote because they could not stomach Cameronism.
Labour has 26 seats in Wales (on 36.2% of the vote), Conservatives 8 (on 26.1%), Plaid 3 (on 11.3%) and Lib Dems 3 (on 20.1%),while in Scotland Labour won 1,035,528 (42.1%) and 41 seats, Conservatives 412,855 (16.7%) but only 1 seat on just under half the votes in Scotland than Labour got, with the Lib Dems on 465,471 (18.9%) and 11 seats, and the SNP on 491,386 (19.9%) and 6 seats.
Across the UK, in fourth and fifth places respectively, UKIP polled 917,832 (thanks Mr Clarke) and the BNP 563,743 (thanks Labour for nothing) – predominantly in England – but no seats, which they would have got under Proportional Representation, as favoured by the Liberal Democrats. Both UKIP and the BNP got more votes than SNP or Plaid but do not figure in any negotiations.
It is not clear that a Labour-LibDem coalition would stand in much favour in Scotland or Wales. In Northern Ireland, where I come from, I will not list the vote shares of the parties, but the DUP got 8 seats, Sinn Fein 5, SDLP 3, Independent 1, and Alliance 1, and the Conservatives and Unionists none.
How would such a coalition govern the non-devolved aspects of Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland? Surely, a Con-LD coalition would encourage greater devolution – including the all-important tax-raising powers – for the ‘Celtic fringe’? This would stave off the secessionist talk in Scotland, and unrest in Wales and Ulster, especially after what the UKIP-vote-stoking Ken Clarke said that, “In the end you can always do a deal with an Ulsterman, but it’s not the way to run a modern, sophisticated society.”
Cameron could not win the unwinnable election, which says a lot about the modernisation project. Brown has lost the election, and yet (despite the phenomenal gains), Cameron did not win it either, and Clegg’s party lost seats.
Frankly, we did not stomp the streets to support our excellent Conservative candidates, to end up with a Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition. But that is what we have.
The alternative, a Labour-LibDem coalition, would be a disaster, but a Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition is as yet unproven. Perhaps on this occasion, if not on others, Mr Cameron should have listened to the advice of that great sage from the true heart of our Party Lord Tebbit on not to form a coalition with the LibDems as it would cost them the next General Election, and on avoiding becoming the victim of a winner-takes-all auction led by Mr Clegg.
We have become accustomed to regular bad news ever since ‘Age of Austerity’ style conference speeches. We need hope, not accountancy speak about cuts, pain, and deficit reduction.
But, while John Redwood has highlighted the need to cut tax on enterprise (I would add to that the working people who need to be incentivised to keep working, or to survive financially in the current climate), Iain Martin has demonstrated how the Conservative leadership doesn’t seem to know what its policies are on tax and is in a ‘tangle’.
I’ve thought long and hard about how to respond to Cameron’s new year speech and statements such as “tax rises may be necessary” from the Abominable Yes-Man* himself, Ken Clarke. Such sentiments are simply an inauspicious start to the new year and it is not what many people like me have been campaigning for when we have been delivering Conservative leaflets.
Since I am not a Tory myself, but a unionist, (the word ‘Tory’ has Irish baggage related to brigands, outlaws and the like), I am befuddled by the fuzzy logic that leads Clarke and the Nothing Hill set to come to the conclusion that tax rises will somehow bring the economy back to its glory days.
But, after all, it was the Europhile wing of the Conservatives that caused Black Wednesday by forcing Maggie to enter the ERM at the wrong rate. It was Lord Lamont, however, who famously sang in the bath that we had extricated ourselves from decades of economic collapse under the ERM and eventually the ECU/Euro that followed.
Never mind the historical precedents about what happens when you listen to Clarke and his ilk, it seems that the leadershipis taking advice from experts such as wealthy bankers and Ken Clarke. They say that accountants would slash and burn, whilst also raising taxes on already hard-pressed electors.
Is that the manifesto that is going to be offered to the country? Surely it is a recipe for a Hung Parliament – and, as much as we would like to see certain MPs with fraudulent expenses hanged, it would not be good for the country.
The Taxpayers’ Alliance had already won the debate on taxes. But along comes a bunch of idiots advising the Conservatives and those lessons are forgotten.
Why prioritise inheritance tax cuts for the wealthy, whilst raising taxes for middle- and lower-income people? Has the 50p tax rate made it acceptable to raise taxes?
What about the Laffer Curve? What about the economic fact that lower taxes stimulate economic growth, entrepreneurship, innovation, job creation and so on?
I do not know why they think tax rises and the age of austerity is going to appeal to the voter who has a difficult time paying the mortgage, raising kids, maybe health worries etc, and that there is no hope? Just more money out of yer pocket to pay the increasing social security and welfare budget?
In these tough economic times, taxes should be slashed – not raised – the lessons of Crewe & Nantwich were that lower taxes appeals to the voter. It is morally and ethically right and it makes life better for everyone.
And, as for the “class war”, well let me just say this. Had David Davis or someone else from a working-class background been Tory leader, he would not have even contemplated raising taxes on working people, while reducing inheritance tax. That says a lot about the state of society, the class divide, and the “Tories.”
We need Labour out, that’s for certain, but the alternative Government needs to get its act together for the sake of our country. Sorry to be so harsh but this needs to be said, and I say this as a warm friend, although one who thinks that a dear ally has somewhat lost its way.
* Clarke is a Yes-Man in the sense of “Yes to Europe”. I could live with it if he was a No-Man.
Dan Hannan MEP (an acronym that is short for “Muppet”) appeared on Fox News, saying the following, and worse,
We have 1.4 million people employed by the National Health Service. It is the third biggest employer in the world after the Red Army in China and the Indian National Railways. Most of those 1.4 million people are administrators, that the managers outnumber the doctors and nurses. And that is the electoral bloc that makes it almost impossible to get rid of.
Contrast these words with what David Cameron said:
The Conservative Party stands four square behind the NHS …. We are the party of the NHS, we back it, we are going to expand it, we have ring-fenced it and said that it will get more money under a Conservative government, and it is our number one mission to improve it.
While I do not intend to get into the healthcare debate in the US (that is for Americans to debate and decide, after all), one thing that this debate on the NHS that Labour stirred up after Hannan’s unfortunate interview is that it has shown the public that the Tories – not Labour are the party of the NHS – as the latest Guardian/ICM opinion poll shows the Tory lead widening and, staggeringly:
While 48% think healthcare would be better under a Tory government, only 41% agree with Labour warnings that it would be worse. Even 24% of current Labour voters think the Tories would improve the NHS.
So Hannan can *really* boil his head, as his outburst on Fox News was not representative of the policies of the Conservative Party’s leadership. It again confirms that Labour has well and truly lost its raison d’etre.
Watching Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers the other evening, the following line caught my attention:
TREEBEARD: The ents have not troubled about the wars of men and wizards for a very long time. But now something is about to happen that has not happened for an age…
As you know, the ents keep discussing what they are going to do, and then finally do something about it. The parallel with new Labour is irresistible, except that Labour is still discussing what they are going to do about child poverty, entrepreneurship, job creation, and many other important policy matters. Socialist ideology has a lot to say about these issues, and yet its insistence upon massive public spending, the oversized state, and therefore high taxation (disproportionately on the less well off, i.e. the poor) means that Labour can never deliver.
Labour was once progressive. It was once a party that stood for something, and stood up for the working man or woman. Yet now, it is empty ideology and failed policies, that have led to one of the worst recessions that the UK has experienced since the 1920s.
Two years ago I started this blog, angered by the state of our country, and was particularly vexed by the murder of Rhys Jones and the lawlessness and the impunity with which perpetrators committed crimes. The torture and murder of Peter Connelly, or Baby P, who was recently named, and his pathetic mother and her coven of vicious men also highlights the social – and, in effect, socio-economic – failures of the New Labour project. And so have many other tragedies over the 12 years of Labour, from Blair to Brown.
Now while I admit that I have had some concerns about the Tories’ (and Mr Osborne’s) reactions to the recession, the Conservatives are in opposition and, arguably, would have reacted better if they were in Government. However, Mandelson’s attacks are groundless – Tim Montgomerie has already debunked them thoroughly.
I read Mandelson’s article and the front cover of Tuesday’s Guardian (it being one of few British newspapers available in Finland where I am until early September), but let me make this comparison. Why is it that, after 12 years of New Labour, a child born and brought up in Haringey fares so much worse than a child born and raised in one of the most socially deprived areas of Helsinki? Why is it inconceivable that the Baby P tragedy (and atrocity) would happen in Finland, and yet it happens again and again in Broken Britain?
Why indeed. If Labour set out to deal with the (socio-economic) causes of crime and to eradicate child poverty through its “Third Way” policies, that Lord Mandy constantly trumpets, why is it that these policies have been abject failures? What is the point of 12 years of Bliarism and Brownism when vulnerable families are being evicted daily, in their droves, from their homes due to repossessions by state-backed mortgage lenders? And, elsewhere, because they cannot afford the rent?
The truth is that Labour has had over a decade and yet has been too busy entertaining Cool Britannia to bother about doing what it said it would do in its 1997, 2001 and 2005 manifestos.
It is really Labour, of which Mandy boasts about being a major architect, that is the “Do Nothing Party”. Labour has not been a progressive party “for an age” and Mandelson’s article is yet more empty rhetoric to try to act as “The Emperor’s New Clothes” over a Government and Labour Party that is embarrassingly naked of delivering on its many broken promises.
Tim Montgomerie reckons Cameron understands the current financial meltdown. I write the following as a friend of the Conservatives and an enemy of Labour.
Cameron doesn’t write his own speeches – and the speechwriter-cum-adviser in question has probably left to work in PR or the City or somewhere (hopefully not in a Bank, although these are the safest Government-backed jobs there are any more). Hence, neither Cameron nor Osborne really understand the current crisis, otherwise they would not have reacted in the way they have.
The Conservatives’ biggest strategic error has been to go bipartisan at a time when they should be criticising the Government’s economic record. This is only likely to give Labour a better opinion poll rating – a get out of jail free card, if you like. And, what happens, but Labour improves in the polls. If Cameron had attacked Labour robustly at his conference two weeks ago, the news agenda would not have been allowed to shift in this way. Despite the Tory pseudo-strategy to attack Brown on the ‘real economy’ later when they should have opposed the Bank nationalisation now, Brown is likely to go for a Spring 2009 election if he thinks the Tories have lost it and he can narrow the polls further.
Also this is at a time when Lord Mandelson has been brought back into the Government, and is responsible for all the spin – why else has the media narrative changed from Brown-and-Out to Brown the Great Leader? Even Paul Krugman has fallen for Brown’s socialist nationalisation of banks – which proves that you can be intelligent and be a Nobel Laureate, but not necessarily have any common sense or judgment!
No one had the guts to stand up to Stalin either.
What I would like to know is : Has Brown agreed a Faustian pact with Mandelson?
- Alistair Darling
- animal welfare
- Bank of England buffoons
- Child A
- general election
- Gordon Brown
- gun crime
- intellectual idiocy
- Jacqui Smith
- Labour Party
- Northern Ireland
- older people
- opinion polls
- public sector
- Reg Empty
- Rhys Jones
- Royal Mail
- Shannon Matthews
- social breakdown
- social services