My Current Political Thinking

Prepare for a real insight:

I can’t help feeling that Labour have spent the last however-many-years-in-power  trying to clean up after some people, most notably the Tory government that preceded them, and placate others, most notably the US; and that for doing this they’ve actually been blamed for the mistakes said other people (Tories/US) made, or they’ve been blamed for the things they haven’t got around to sorting out yet, or they’ve been blamed for things that are actually way out of their remit or control.

Yeah, told you it was insightful. And when I say ‘insightful’ I really mean unoriginal/massively generalising/late-night-thinking/possibly-actually-wrong; but that is what I think, from what shamefully little I know. It would be good if I could have my entire desktop taken over by the front page of the guardian/bbc website or something.

Anyway. This is why I’m still happy to say I support the Labour party. They were basically dealt a number of bad hands. Yes?

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24 Comments

Filed under Beliefs, Life, Politics, Society, World

24 responses to “My Current Political Thinking

  1. Lucy

    I agree. Well, sort of. I don’t think that New Labour are guilt-free on a large number of fronts and I would certainly be wary about re-voting in another Blair. But Brown is not Blair and I still have a large amount of faith in him to run this country properly. He’s not charismatic, but is that *really* more important than what he actually gets on with in government?

    All this carping about him at the economy is really pissing me off too. For god’s sake people, there is an international financial crisis going on which must have its roots going back many years and largely stems from the abject greed of people who are out to make it for themselves – sound like a Brown-esque policy to you? And there is no palatable solution. Tough shit. David Cameron can whine and incense the public as much as he likes, but I’d like to hear a single proactive policy from him that doesn’t just set us off on the same old cycle of the rich helping themselves to the detriment of everybody else, just so that a Labour government in x years time can start cleaning up that mess as well.

  2. See, I will not be voting labour on the strength of the fact they are STILL pushing this national ID card scheme. I feel that it is scary and stupid enough to warrant the removal of their government for parties who will scrap it, despite other factors. I agree that slating labour for a financial issue which has very little to do with them is foolish.

    The thought of David Cameron as PM is abhorrent though. Ugh, I hate politics and politicking and the endless heckling and slandering and scandal. Grow up, guys.

  3. standingonthebrink

    Good stuff, Lucy. Totally agree – I’m terribly fond of Brown and I believe he can do it, he’s our best shot.

    meanwhile, Callan, I can’t see what’s wrong with ID cards (many EU countries have them) except possibly the expense…this could be absolute ignorance, but anyway, what are your objections?

  4. The expense is evidently a big one, but my issue with the ID cards is the availibility of them and the wealth of data they will put on them/are putting on them. Would it not be handy for them to contain, say, medical records so that ambulance teams can just scan the card and see if there are any allergies? Combine it with your driving license, or link it to your criminal record? There would be good, sound reasons for all of these I’m sure, but I don’t want to disclose all that information to the government, or to potential employers, or to my local: all who could easily find reasons to scan your card. Fingerprints are only the start – it’ll be DNA or retina in no time and onwards from there.

    People drop and lose cards all the time – identity theft becomes vastly easier if everything that is you is on a card. The more they put on it, the more useful it will become and the more harm it could do in the wrong hands, and that includes the government. I trust today’s government to a degree, but the government of tomorrow might not be so benign.

    I object to the fact that you’ll have to pay £60 for one, and sure – they’ll say its voluntary but by 2015 it almost certainly won’t be. I don’t like the creation of more big central we-have-everything databases, either – security has been far from tight in recent years and human error will always put data like that at risk. I see no need for that database to be created – what is wrong with passports (a number of which are biometric)? Is their sole purpose not to positively identify a person? Does the ID card add any functionality to this?

    Nothing other than fingerprints. Now why is that so important that they will spend five billion pounds in the middle of a financial crisis?

    Here is a clearly biased site against the ID card: http://www.idcardandyou.co.uk/ but it makes some good points.

    And here is the home office take: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/passports-and-immigration/id-cards/

    Make up your own mind =)

  5. It’s really a case of illegal war AND ID cards (with which I am in total accord, on grounds of having an internationally recognised right to privacy which I am quite happy to keep, thank you very much) and not-so-good forethought (you have to admit, having a budget deficit in an economic boom was a stupid thing to do, and fairly recently they’ve been downright underhand which I cannot in any way condone by voting for them) – but on the other hand some fantastic achievements in constitutional change and human rights (it’s the revision talking, maybe, but the Human Rights Act, Constitutional Reform Act, devolution of Scotland, Wales and NI, they’re all fantastic things and only to be encouraged).

    … Or we could have the Tories. Who want to get rid of the Human Rights Act ‘and replace it with something more British’, which I cannot get over. They are as bad as each other, frankly.

    I think it’d terrify Nick Clegg to be voted in but really, imo by far the best of a not so great selection. Labour Idealism doesn’t really work at the moment, you just seem to get taken for a ride.

  6. Rosie

    “…They were basically dealt a number of bad hands. Yes?”

    Yes, but then, so is everybody. The predominant reason why a new party comes to power is as a result of the perceived failures of the last. Thatcher had a lot to clean up from Callaghan’s era and even Major had his struggles with the muddled Conservatives. After twelve years, I’m not sure that the excuse “it’s their mess, we’re clearing it up” can be used.

    A dependance on self-regulating markets is certainly a leftover from the Conservatives, but it’s one that Labour didn’t target with too much zeal, probably in an attempt to distinguish themselves and their third way philosophy as the ideological future. More than anything I think that their problem now is that they’ve simply been in power for too long: they’ve accrued all the mistakes that could be made across three terms and are still clinging to an orientation that belongs in the previous century.

  7. standingonthebrink

    I think you’re all making a lot of good points (like I say I am naive and underinformed) – and, more than that, having read up more on just how much the ID cards will hold about us I do wonder if we’ll be living in a state like something out of a scifi/dystopia movie. I certainly don’t want, say, my medical records to be available to future employers, because hypothetically they’ll know certain things about me which could seriously affect my ability to get a job in certain fields. So thanks for the links, Callan =)

    It’s not just the whole ‘it’s their mess, we’re cleaning that up’ although that does hold true for certain things (I was having this conversation with my dad the other day and I’m ashamed to say I would now have to ring him up for examples); it’s also this idea that we’d actually broken out of the boom and bust cycle – we were taken by surprise but it was by no means just the Labour party who fully believed we weren’t going to see taht cycle come round again.

    As for ‘an orientation that belongs in the previous century’, I don’t quite see what you mean by that, Rosie; hit me with it?

    Oh, and I seem to recall one other good thing to add to your list of Labour Achievements in the last three terms, Fi – they brought in the minimum wage, which didn’t exist before in any form.

  8. Rosie

    “As for ‘an orientation that belongs in the previous century’, I don’t quite see what you mean by that, Rosie; hit me with it?”

    A bit of a flippant description, I suppose, but basically the main reason that I’d be disappointed if Labour made it to a fourth term is that I think they need to redefine and reconfigure themselves; try to move on from the media-savvy New Labour image and out of Blair’s shadow. The slippery, spin-doctor image is still hanging over the party, even when compared to the oily Cameronians. As I say, I think they’ve simply been in power too long. Labour needs some time to lick its wounds, shred the paperwork and then build up a coherent, policy-based identity for the 2010-20 decade.

    P.S. To clarify, I completely agree with the scale of Labour achievement and it’s why I support and campaign for them. In recent years though, especially post-9/11, they do seem to have drifted into rather murky waters. With sharks in.

  9. standingonthebrink

    I thought for a minute you meant the nineteenth century. After nearly ten years you’d’ve thought I’d learn…

    But yes, you’re right; they’ve got a bad image and that’s why I think in many ways Gordon Brown is a good man for the job at the minute becuase he can’t spin or smile slickly for the media or anything to save his life – he makes my dad look socially supercompetent… (not to say that he’s INcompetent, my dad, but he is what he is, and he couldn’t but be that person, your stereotypical shambolic academic).

    So yes, now I’ve remembered what century I’m actually in, I absolutely agree with you.

  10. Lucy

    tangent:

    Jenny, your dad’s a shambolic social incompetent in academia too?! Ever get the feeling we live quite similar lives to each other…?

  11. standingonthebrink

    I am starting to get that feeling, yes!

    Question is, does yours also wear his trousers too short and never remember to tug his jumper straight/[insert other sartorialfail here] before he leaves for his department? I love my father dearly, for his quirks as well as his unquestionable good side, complete with gleefully bad puns, northern social conscience and the way he does actually worry about me (and the way I try to protect him from having to worry).

  12. Lucy

    He wears cycling gear (yes, occasionally to parents’ evenings) and is known in the dept. for owning more hole than jumper. He owns two ties, one of which is inherited from his dad, and occasionally has to be reminded to change into smart shoes if he’s going to a funeral. Gleefully bad puns, northern social conscience (along with acute embarrassment that his parents sent him to private schools), and an ability to get away with social misnomers that he really, really shouldn’t. He loves bikes, mountain walking, and Beethoven, and filled in my birthdate wrong on my student loan form.

    And yes, I love him dearly 🙂

  13. Err … Apart from anything else, New Labour don’t have a cohesive policy, just a variety of bad ideas… At least the conservative party have a viewpoint and go for it, as opposed to just copying other people’s ideas. Even if you don’t agree with them, at least you can respect their consistency.

    New Labour: Actually, fuck the working class coz let’s face it we’ll do better if we don’t marginalise anybody by having no ideas to object to. The Iraq war. ID cards which prove nothing. Ridiculous terrorist laws – or rather, anti civil liberty bullshit. Nanny state. TAxing people on their pensions then complaining about too many old people who can’t support themselves.

    Granted, Blair was nice to the gays. But that hardly evens out over all. I don’t object to Cameron because he’s well educated and thought out and he has good views. Most Labour MPs are also pubic school educated – they just sit in their big houses and talk rose-tinted glasses nonsense and people believe them. It’s the sort of ridiculous idealism that destroys any hope for actual, concrete change and improvement. Most of the radical social improvements the Labour government has (ever) made has been down to protesting and outside pressure groups, not their own personal agenda. They hide behind an ideology they don’t even put into use. Blair was voted in for charisma, not competence.

    Also, conservatives have Boris Johnson. Who would beat Tony Benn in a fight. End of.

  14. Lucy

    Oh, agreed, gflawrence, I wouldn’t vote New Labour under Tony Blair back in for one second, but if David Cameron and Boris Johnson are the best the Tories have to offer then I have to say that they’re in a pretty sorry state as well. Does ‘charisma not competence’ not apply here as well? Do you honestly trust either of them to do a good job? And can you name a single, pro-active policy of the Tories’ that doesn’t just involve taking the opposite stand to the current government for the sake of it?

    (I’m not trying to be sniping and sarcastic – well not much, anyway. If someone can convince me that voting Conservative would be the best thing for this country, well, I might swallow my pride and do so. But you’ll have to convince me first.)

  15. Rosie

    Yikes, Gina.

    There’s a reason that Cameron’s seen as the Tory Blair. Both educated at public schools and Oxford, desperate to be seen as closer to the middle classes and “yoof”, seemed to do little grassroots campaigning but scrabbled about for a seat when it took their fancy, good speakers and fond of rebranding.

    Most of all though, the party’s floated away from the its origins in favour of more moderate, populist policies. They’ve flip-flopped over tax cuts, thrown their arms around the demonised welfare services and suddenly embraced environmentalism when they realised that it could finally give them an USP again. About the only thing marking them out as distinct from Labour right now is this obsession with “broken Britain”, and even then they have no distinct policies on tackling crime or running the social services more successfully. As for tax incentives for marriage, you’d think the Conservatives of all people would want government staying out of their private lives.

    Plus, I can’t help but marvel that people think Osborne is going to make any better a Chancellor than Darling. If anyone can discern a policy through all his waffle then they deserve some sort of reward.

  16. Rosie

    Sorry, they do have a few policies on tackling crime – namely increasing prison sizes, stopping early release systems and “cutting red tape”. Nothing like treating the symptoms rather than the cause.

  17. “More than anything I think that their problem now is that they’ve simply been in power for too long”

    QFT

    I’m surprised that anyone still has faith in Brown and Labour.

    Gordon Brown is a really weak leader and he’s in way over his depth. He is partially responsible for the economy being so fucked at the moment. Partly due to underregulation of the banks (which I suppose is as much down to the Government as a whole, not just him as ex-chancellor). But also, as Fiona has already said, running up a deficit (and not a small one, iirc) during the good times. Both seem fairly amazingly fundamental errors for a chancellor to make; it’s been clear for a few years that the banks’ business model of “give money to everyone” was somewhat unsustainable, and spending more than you can afford is just stupid.

    Throw in the erosion of civil liberties, corruption, and general incompetence, and that just about sums up the Government at the moment.

  18. I love reading discussions between informed people. It’s like condensed reading-of-ten-years-of-news. I try and keep an eye on politics but my distrust and dislike of the whole shambles and the fact that I can’t remember who is who and why all the time kind of cripples me on that! I fix on a few set issues and slate those, and then I leave the rest to people with better memories than mine =)

  19. standingonthebrink

    I would merely like to point out that New Labour now is utterly different to the New Labour of 1997. More than that, I think that the Tories now are incredibly similar to NLc1997 – and I’m sorry, but I don’t swallow this idea that the Tories are in the least bit consistent in their policymaking and they’re just as fucktheworkingclass as NL ever was.

    Furthermore, the deeper we get into the credit crunch, the more the Tories are swinging back in favour of their Thatcherite heyday (I would briefly like to point out that in the 1970s average economic growth in Britain was c2.4% pa, which is almost exactly the same as in the 1980s (although less of that landed in the pockets of the obscenely wealthy) and actually significantly higher than growth over the last two decades. Link to follow). The article from which I got this (sorry, poor referencing there, but I’m meant to be revising) points out that recently the Tories have demanded more and deeper cuts in public spending and advocated the market-driven privatisation of schools, for a couple of examples.

    It should be pointed out that Thatcher has also influenced Labour rather too much – how Thatcherite an idea is the part privatisation of Royal Mail? Supply and demand is not the point – there are now towns and villages in Scotland, for example, that the Royal Mail no longer serves, which is basically unprecedented.

    But in the support of Labour, the Brown government (I’m sorry, I like Brown, and this may seem irrational, but there are reasons I believe in him and I am discovering more of them each day) – the Brown government has tackled the slump with policies that genuinely seem more social democratic in nature; progressive taxation which taxes those who can afford it more, for example, or state intervention in the economy (and beleive me, wouldn’t we go down even faster if they didn’t?).

    I don’t know what I’m talking about. I’ve only been absorbing any quantity of newsprint over the last couple of days, really, I’m with Callan on this one. There’s not a lot I know about and not a lot I can remember. So don’t kill me for taking an interest and for having an opinion which I am least trying to learn to justify. If I can’t justify it to myself at the end of the day I’ll change – like Lucy, give me a good enough reason and I’ll vote Conservative. But in a devil/deep blue sea situation, I’m currently going with Labour. (the devil? because they’re…red? and the sea is blue?).

    Oh, and one last thing: Stupid Gordon Brown’s actions may have been in retrospect. But at a guess he knows more about hte economy than any of us, and had a bloody good reason for acting the way he did over the last few years. And it’s not as if he had control over who was lending what to whom on a minute detail – and anyway, guess whose government relaxed the laws on who coudl get credit? Thatcher’s, of course. Brown must have believed that he could let it slide as it was at least for a while and we cannot blame him for being caught out in a global recession which hit as suddenly as it did.

    Oh, and that link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/may/06/margaret-thatcher-election-new-labour

  20. standingonthebrink

    Sounds like your dad and mine would get on, Lucy! As an aside. 🙂

  21. “and had a bloody good reason for acting the way he did over the last few years”

    The reason is that it’s better politics to announce that you’re spending more whilst reducing taxes, rather than spending less and taxing more. Better politics, desperately poor economic policy. I also contend that the economic crisis wasn’t that too unexpected; if you lend lots of money to people who can’t afford to pay it back, and charge them extra-high interest, don’t be surprised when they don’t pay it back. Christ, I’ve been saying that banks lend irresponsibly for years, and I’m no economist!

    btw, my criticism of Labour isn’t an endorsement of the Conservatives. I’ll vote for them next time around, but only because they’ll be marginally less bad than Labour. All the parties seem fairly awful tbh. We’re somewhat fucked…

  22. You want my opinion?

    All politics, politicians and political parties are vulgar, venal and crass and I want as little as I can to do with any of them. If this means failing to exercise my right to vote when the time comes then so be it. I don’t believe I have a duty to support ANY political party, unless I feel as though they are worthy of that support.

    People harp on at me about how women suffered so much in order to attain the vote. That is true, but the extension of the franchise to women mostly came about due to the gradual progression of political attitudes, and the actions of women activists were actually fairly detrimental to the cause. Most men also had to fight to get the vote on equal terms so the argument that women have a duty to vote is as legitimate as Prince Harry.

    I simply refuse to extend my support to a political party that are ‘the best of a bad bunch’. I have severe issues with both New Labour and the Conservatives, as well as the smaller parties. Therefore, I feel it would be irresponsible of me to vocalise support for either.

    And this doesn’t mean I lose my right to complain about any elected government. ‘Well, you didn’t vote, you can’t complain.’ BULLSHIT. If I am given such severely limited options that it hinders my ability to vote or support a particular party, I am perfectly entitled to voice my opinion on how shit those in power are.

    I hate politics. Leave me alone with my books and films.

    Rant over.

    Laura

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