The Wilted Rose

Charting Labour meltdown 2007-2010

The New Labour era is over. But a coalition involving the Liberal Democrats remains unproven.

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.

Labour

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.

Conservatives

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.

11 May, 2010 Posted by | politics | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Would we be better off with a hung parliament?

I’ve done quite a bit of work leafleting for Conservative candidates in marginal seats. Also, I have delivered leaflets for someone I have known for over 25 years, who goes to my family church and who belongs to my Orange Lodge, Gregory Campbell MP (DUP, East Londonderry), to defend his seat against the highly discredited ‘Trimbleite’ (and now ‘Empeyite’) Ulster Unionist Party. Though, as an excellent MP and without much serious opposition, Gregory will be okay and will hold his seat, particularly with an 8,000 majority. In Northern Ireland the only party for unionists to vote for is the DUP, who I warmly endorse, and I’ve certainly enjoyed tramping the streets of Castlerock and the working-class housing estates of Coleraine delivering leaflets.

Peter Hitchens has recently called for a hung parliament. I don’t agree – I think we need a decisive result, one way or the other, a Conservative or Labour Government. Though I’m not a Tory, but am a unionist, (as I’m fond of saying, it’s the Conservative and Unionist Party), I would rather see a government of the blue persuasion.

But I can understand why many voters are yet unconvinced by the Tories and why the polls are narrowing ever so slightly in Labour’s favour.

But in these tough socio-economic times it would not be right to have a lily-livered, gutless hung parliament, minority government, or coalition-of-convenience delivered by a lily-livered, gutless electorate.

They just can’t make up their mind, being so zombified by the X Factor. Why not have a 90% tax levy on the proceeds that have been accrued by the likes of Cowell et al? Why stop at the bankers? But, in cases of mindnumbing TV, the electorate is as much zombies as the bankers, mortgagers, and mortgagees that caused the economic crisis. Or the equally morally bankrupt people who are destroying society.

So let’s have a clear result. But if you apply game theory to this situation, i.e. the election, people don’t know what way to vote. So it might be chaos, ending in a complete mess, with a BNP gain here and there, Lib Dems holding seats they should lose, etc.

In conclusion, the last thing we need is a hung parliament. Let’s get real, people, and kick Labour out once and for all.

16 December, 2009 Posted by | politics | , , , , | Leave a comment

Will Brown blow the Tories out of the water? No, he hasn’t the guts to call an election

As a traditional ‘divided loyalties’ Ulster Protestant (a supporter of a mainstream unionist party at home, and of the Conservative & Unionist Party in England), I am rather worried. My dual loyalties mean that one of my parties may do well and the other not so; that’s certainly been the case recently.

But I thought the Conservatives were on track to beat Labour. Now the polls have narrowed, with the latest IPSOS-MORI for the Observer showing only a 6 point lead and the grim prospect of a hung parliament. With UKIP and the ‘vile BNP’ polling well collectively.

So what happened the the twentysomething Conservative lead? I have a hunch that the Clarke effect combined with Lisbon/the EU policy, and the appalling abuses of the expenses system by Tory MPs (most recently the adulterous David Curry, himself a notorious Europhile), and the sudden electorate’s collective misapprehension that the economy’s well again, has led to this scenario.

All’s not rosy in the garden, as Labour’s Wilted rose shows, and it’s time for another festive onslaught re the economy from me.

It’s now the right time for Labour to call an election. They’d probably gain a lead in the polls while the public are distracted by the apparent lull in our economic rendezvous with the inevitable.

Brown would blow the Tories out of the water. But, like Callaghan in the 70s, Brown is blinded by disbelief and a lack of COURAGE, and hasn’t got the guts to call the election that could keep him in the job he plotted for over a decade to grab off Bliar. The ditherer will bottle it again.

Brown’s gutlessness allows traditional Tories, as well as trade unionist, dual-loyalty conservative unionists like me, sleep soundly at night.

23 November, 2009 Posted by | politics | , , | 2 Comments

The immorality of university tuition fees

The Lib Dems have been warned by Charles Kennedy not to lose their ‘heart’ over spending cuts. Not to retreat on their opposition to tuition fees.

Spending cuts are essential, if properly targeted and not frontline, but one of the immoralities of the current spending regime – at a time when youth unemployment is at a record high and property ownership remains out of reach to many under 30s- is saddling kids in their early 20s with massive debt.

Baby boomers have enjoyed prosperity and high house prices, relatively low tax rises, and many can go on holiday, and enjoy life. Well, good on them, but what about their grandchildren?

That’s one worry that may disturb older people’s sleep. Where are the jobs, houses, families for many of today’s university students, or those who avoid university due to debt? Where indeed.

It is time for other parties to realise the immorality of tuition fees, and – in wielding the axe – do not let it fall on vulnerable youth. Someone else must pay, but not those kids at (or about to go to) university who will, after all, rebuild our country just as the post-war generation, the parents of the baby boomers, did.

22 September, 2009 Posted by | politics | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Now Dan Hannan can *really* boil his head

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.

24 August, 2009 Posted by | politics | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Just a little respect” – Love the NHS, but reform it too

The UK healthcare debate is essential, because what Hannan has done is to put the NHS on the political agenda. Conservative policy is to support the NHS tooth and nail (no dental reference there intended), but to reform it to make a national institution better. After all, the poor, working class and lower middle class depend on the NHS; and they’ll trust the Tories on it, while Labour has done nothing to improve the system but has just overbureaucratised and politicised it.

Maybe what right whingers who have been attacking the NHS, just as they have been less than respectful for young people who are suffering hard times (e.g. by calling them ‘NEETs’), need to have “just a little respect”:

Indeed, calling the NHS a “60-year-old mistake” is more than a little disrespectful to the NHS staff and the millions of people, including the late Ivan Cameron and the survivors of 7/7 and many other past terrorist atrocities (not to mention knifings, gun wounds, car accidents, etc), who have relied upon the National Health Service to provide essential care.

It’s time for politicians to have “a little respect” for the NHS and not, as Labour has done, try to use it as a political football, when the Government has certainly not respected the NHS staff, because it has forced targets and other politically-motivated measures on them, which do not accord with clinical priorities.

What the Tories must, therefore, to is to love the NHS but also to reform it (but not to copy the absurdly irrelevant and out-of-context Singapore voucher model espoused by Mr Hannan), so that 12 years of Labour paralysis on healthcare can be put right at last. Mr Cameron’s support for the NHS is, after all, from the heart and is based on the radically-innovative progressive conservatism that will transform the quality of life and opportunities of all people in this one nation. Don’t forget; we’re not the US and never will be.

20 August, 2009 Posted by | politics | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The bonus culture – some solutions from John Redwood

George Osborne has rightly criticised excessive bonuses for bankers in state-bailed-out banks and John Redwood has highlighted some excellent solutions to dealing with these:

1. Many of us find it unacceptable that senior executives working in loss making state controlled business are being paid mega bucks out of our money. Why is Stephen Hester being offered a £9 million package, when there would be someone good out there who would do it for one tenth of that sum and still be well paid?

2. I also agree with George Osborne that someone senior working for a bank not controlled by the government could be offered mega bucks for taking extreme risks, only for the bank to seek a government guarantee or other assistance if they get it wrong. That too must of us find unacceptable.

The easiest way to tackle type One excessive pay is for the government as majority shareholder to refuse to sign contracts containing such payments. They should call in all the top executives of their heavy loss makers, and negotiate a new deal with them, deferring or cancelling bonuses until their banks are genuinely profit making and have provided for or sorted out all the loss making activities these executives have helped build up in recent years. These new contracts should be a condition of taxpayer support. They should be made to pay for what they have done wrong in the past by forgoing the bonuses they think they have earned. They should not be allowed to dump all the unprofitable business on the taxpayer and carry on as if nothing had happened.

Type two excessive bonuses are also best tackled in this way. There should be a general statement of government policy, that if any bank gets into trouble in future and needs taxpayer guarantees or cash, it will automatically trigger a retrospective revision of all senior executive contracts with a view to cost cutting as a contribution to sorting out the bank’s cash and profit problems. The Regulator can go further and say that in cases where they judge that large institutions that could cause damage to the system are offering excessive remuneration for excessive risk, they will require the institutions to carry more capital to undertake such business. Shareholders will then see that their generous remuneration policy imposes a further penalty on them in the form of lower returns on capital and the need to put up more money.

Let’s hope that the Government acts quickly to implement some of these suggestions, rather than continuing with its “bad bonus” rhetoric, without actually doing anything about it. This just proves again that it is Labour that is the “Do Nothing Party”, while the Conservatives would sort out Labour’s city cronies once and for all.

18 August, 2009 Posted by | politics | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Wilted Rose awakens (again): Labour has not been a progressive party “for an age”

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.

13 August, 2009 Posted by | politics | , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

How to lose the Catholic vote

The Catholic vote is a very important bloc in key seats like Crewe and many in the north and midlands.

I am sympathetic to Catholics – having many good neighbours, colleagues and friends who are RC. I abhor sectarianism.

People’s personal lives are between them and God. While not wishing to debate the issue of homosexuality, I would caution the Tories not to disrespect the Pope – who is, after all, enunciating core Catholic beliefs – as a number of Tory bloggers have done.

Iain Dale should know better than his comment that the Pope should join the BNP – I’m sure a few Labour candidates in marginals will use that quote on leaflets or at least on the doorstep in Catholic areas.

The Half-Blood Welshman has a fascinating post on the subject:
Http://thehalfwelshman.blogspot.com (link on the sidebar to the left).

The abortion vote helped the Tories win Crewe and many Catholics elsewhere are considering voting Tory, maybe for the first time.

Don’t throw that away with anti-Catholic or anti-Christian fury, whatever your views. Better to have kept quiet. If you lose the Catholic vote, in a hung parliament, you will need those DUP and SDLP votes, after all!

23 December, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 1 Comment

Why the Tories need a “Northern Strategy”

The latest Populus poll for the Times has Con 39%, Lab 35%, LD 17%.

But, as the detailed figures show, amongst men it’s Con 38%, Lab 35% but women are Con 41%, Lab 32% – with the Tories around 20 points ahead in the South, Wales/SW, and the Midlands, and Labour well ahead in the North and Scotland.  As a writer in the Salisbury Review observed a few years back, the Conservatives need a “Northern Strategy” (á la Nixon’s phenomenally successful Southern Strategy).

I’ve argued before that it’s less a Brown bounce, than an Osborne bust.  The Osborne effect, but also worryingly more widely the malaise that has fallen the Tories on matters economic (and especially fiscal), has allowed Labour to claw back a considerable portion of its former support.

Whenever the General Election comes, and Brown must surely be weighing up his chances next spring with this latest ‘vindication’ (or vindictive?) poll, the Labour Party is going to offer 4-5 years of the same as we’ve had over the last 11.  And that is not good for Britain – a surefire way of breeding more Karen Matthewses and more tragedies like the death of Baby P.

Ed Balls (with Mandy spinning away in the background, doing more damage than even he did in Brussels) has carefully transferred the blame to the hapless Sharon Shoesmith.  Yes, it happened on Ms Shoesmith’s watch – and, whilst it was the murderers who killed Baby P, it wasn’t social workers (who are being increasingly demonised in the name of political expediency, exacerbating the recruitment and retention crisis in the profession).

It’s partly ideological, but it’s also systemic, and it’s a polical failure (as Camila of Kids Company has argued), which means that many Social Services departments are rotten to the core.  But, at the end of the day, the buck stops with the even more hapless Government and the clearly out-of-his depth Mr Balls. 

At the same time, Labour looks in a better position in the polls when it has overseen 11 years of economic (eventually after the apparent but false ‘boom’) and social (drip-drip-drip) collapse. 

It’s time for a change but a large part of the population doesn’t yet realise it.  But then, whatever happens, as they used to say in the States, the “welfare checks [sic] will keep comin’.”

One way that the Tories could kickstart a “Northern Strategy”, which is doable as they won the otherwise inpregnable Labour stronghold of Crewe & Nantwich in May this year, is to bring back David Davis who appeals to Northerners like the Oxbridge boys don’t.  The next step, just as they did beautifully in Crewe, would be to tell the people of the North what the Tories can do for them economically and socially.  Voilá.

9 December, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments