Tag Archives: Conservatives

At last!

Theresa May 3So, it has taken a long time, but she will have gone by the time you read this.

By ‘she’ I mean the dreaded May. The ridiculous woman who once said it was her role to reunite the United Kingdom and has led the British Conservative party since David Cameron left his job as Prime Minister in 2016, almost three years ago.

The woman who has consistently shown us that she is unbelievably stubborn; won’t under almost any circumstance compromise; who consistently sat on the fence during the run-up to the 2016 referendum; and has ever since lived by her own twin mantra of ‘Brexit means Brexit’ and ‘doing it all for the sake of the Party’. The woman who seems to be working towards a much-hoped-for legacy of being the Prime Minister who took the United Kingdom out of the European Union.

Some hope!

She seems mad. The only thing that has changed in the last few years is that she now looks like a very tired woman and, in her resignation speech on the steps of Number 10, actually showed us that she has an emotional side. Who wouldn’t have? After what she has put herself through? God knows what her husband must be thinking.

I am sorry, but I have no sympathy for her whatsoever. She brought it all on herself, accidentally or otherwise.

No one in her cabinet seems to support her, not even those close to the idea of leaving the European Union. She is utterly on her own, having set out promising ‘strong and stable’ government that ‘works for everybody’.

And all this is self inflicted, caused by her being so utterly unbending over the past few years. Yet, in her speech, she quoted Sir Nicholas Winton, who told her that compromise was not a dirty word.

I could say more – about how she keeps on endlessly repeating herself; won’t answer anybody’s questions directly; constantly grins in the face of all adversity, so that she seems to have only one fixed expression; always looks completely eyeless, as if she’s sizing people up as being with her or against her – and much more. But I won’t. Most of it has already been said by people more qualified and cleverer than me.

What – or who – comes next is the big question. I can only hope that it isn’t a dogmatist, of any political stripe – left, right or centre – or an ideologue. It looks as if it will be someone who ‘plays well with the voters’. Someone people can ‘relate to’. Which means we may be stuck with Boris Johnson (who’s suspiciously popular with the pink trouser brigade), Angela Leadsom (who probably endears herself to all those women who are mums) or somebody else from the far right.

What a prospect.

Aaaaaaargh!

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Will someone please tell us what’s going on?

It’s a few weeks since Britain was asked to vote IN or OUT of the European Union, and we were given to expect swift action following the result.

Yet nothing has happened. We are as we were before: stuck in a land of uncertainty.

All that has changed is the leadership of the Conservative Party, and thus the Prime Minister. Where once we had an Old Etonian in charge, who rolled up his sleeves and wanted to be one of the blokes, we now have a well-dressed, state-educated woman in the post, who seems to  want to be a lady.

All that has happened is that the government seems to have lurched to the right. The Prime Minister has voiced her support for grammar schools and her concern about the Chinese investment in our nuclear future, and the Transport Secretary has described as ‘militant’ those who would try to get a better deal for their members.

It seems that, if all that we see comes to pass, we shall be living in a land where the elite get all the top jobs (because they’ve been to a better school) and the rest are believed to be militant. Or, at least, malcontent.

Cameron has disappeared. Some say that June’s referendum on IN or OUT of Europe was called by him to placate the right wing of his party, and that he was convinced he and his beliefs would win. Now, it looks as if he left the job in an hurry because he didn’t want to have to clear up the mess he left behind, or be called on to deal with the big beasts of the right who would probably savage him. May was what the backbenchers would call “a safe pair of hands”, although she is best remembered for being a smart pair of shoes.Screen Shot 2016-08-11 at 17.06.54

It also looks as if we don’t know where we’re going. Or with whom.

Isn’t it time someone – I don’t much mind who – told us a few truths about the future.

At present, we seem to be drifting, with a weakened currency and no political direction.

 

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Did you make your mark? And how?

I haven’t had much to say of late, but I have been listening.
That’s partly because I’ve been ill.
I was listening and trying to make sense of the cacophony of ideas and comment that filled cyberspace, the radio waves, television and our newspapers as we approached the UK’s general election.Big Ben
Believe me, it was hard. So much noise and so little clarity. With only a week or so to go, no one seemed to be able to predict the outcome.
Too close for comfort
Now it’s all over bar the shouting, at least until September, when The Labour Party has its conference and there’ll be plenty of noise about then.
That’s not so surprising when you think that, for years, it’s been nigh-on impossible to slip a cigarette paper between the two major parties’ policies or their leaders, whoever they may be.
Both leaders banged on before the election about reducing the budget deficit, blaming each other for its existence and the way it was handled. Yet neither seemed to have a credible solution.
Each one swore blind the NHS was safe in their hands while acknowledging it needs reform. But who knows where they might take it? Less than a month later it was deemed to be in trouble again.
And they both had our ageing population’s welfare and our children’s education right at the heart of their programmes. Where is it now?
“Vote for us from cradle to grave”, but what would we get?
Even if you turned to the minority parties, there wasn’t much on offer.
The Greens’ ideas seemed attractive, until you recalled their leader’s February “brain fade” and asked yourself if they’d be able to keep a grip on their day-to-day thinking, let alone the economy.
UKIP didn’t fare too well, unless you were a rabid anti-immigrationist or a simple-minded little Englander.
As for the Liberal Democrats, they seem to have completely lost their way since they were blinded by the bright lights of so-called power sharing as they went into coalition with the Conservatives. Their leader quit almost before he’d lost his seat.
Damaged goods
Aside from their policies, there was also the question of morality or, to be kinder, the whether of whether or not any of our currently serving MPs are fit for purpose.
Even now it’s hard to forget, and even harder to forgive, the business of MPs’ expenses. The infamous duck house enjoys legendary status. The second homes are an indelible memory.
More recently and nearer the election, we had accusations levelled at both Malcolm Rifkind and Jack Straw that they were willing to accept cash in hand in exchange for a word in various MPs’ ears.
Even the church, which delivered such a well-reasoned critique on the state of British politics early in the year, was accused of hypocrisy for demanding an increase in the minimum wage when it currently paid some of its people less than that.
And then there was the government’s relationship with big business. What were we to make of the half-Nelson administered – and still administered – by some of the huge corporations whose influence paralyses the politicians’ ability to effect change in almost any walk of life?
Could we, in short, have confidence in anyone or any party that entreated us for our vote?
The radical alternative
I don’t profess to have an absolute answer to any of your questions, but I do have a suggestion.
Between now and the next general election let’s try to get something on the ballot paper that allows us to express ourselves properly, rather than having to vote in a way that leaves us uncomfortable just because we’re trying to keep someone out, rather than vote as we feel.
I didn’t vote (because I was stuck in the Chelsea & Westminster Hospital, too late to register for a postal vote, and too ill to be allowed out to the polling station).
But had I been able to vote I probably would have spoiled my paper by writing something like NONE OF THE ABOVE ARE SUITABLE across it.
It would then have gone into the pile marked “Spoiled papers” and been forgotten.
Let’s, next time, have a place where you can put a tick next to NO CONFIDENCE.
That way we all be able to vote as we feel, not as we’re expected to.

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Good on yer, Max!

I never thought I’d say this, but the Daily Mail’s Max Hastings is spot on today.
Commenting on Chancellor George Osborne’s speech in the House of Commons yesterday, when he introduced his Autumn Statement, Hastings says that, while it was a good speech, if Osborne had “told us the whole truth about the economy the Tories would never get elected”.
Goodness me! And in the Daily Mail!
Cataloging the anomalies in Osborne’s address, he highlights the disconnects between fact and fantasy and claims that, if Britain’s public finances are to be sustainable, Osborne would have to make spending cuts on a scale beyond the acceptable, in electoral terms.
Hastings goes on to bemoan the levels of what he calls “wasted, wasted, wasted” public expenditure, on projects he derides.
But his final, parting shot is the most wounding to the Tories – his newspaper’s core readership.
He says: “George Osborne is a better and more truthful man than his Labour foes, as he showed us again yesterday.
“His party is the only one fit to govern after next May. But it is nowhere near honest enough, if our children and grandchildren are to inhabit a solvent Britain.”
And he’s right.
I never thought I’d say that!

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A tale of two Gs

A couple of weeks ago I spent an evening in the company of Ken Clarke, one of British politics’ big beasts.
That night, recounting his achievements and countering his critics, Clarke seemed like a man at the end of his political tether; a misunderstood old-school patrician slightly confused by the antics of his upstart public school successors.
Today comes the news that Gordon Brown – another big beast of British politics – is to retire from Parliament at next year’s general election.
Both men have been in pubic service – and in the public eye – for decades. So it’s little wonder they both feel it’s time to take a back seat somewhere; or, more likely, a front seat in some international institution or another.
For both men, the questions are “What next?” and “How will they be remembered?”.
In Clarke’s case, he may always be recalled in the same breath as Margaret Thatcher.
In Brown’s case, he may never be disassociated from his erstwhile political friend and adversary, Tony Blair.
But there is another comparison to be made.
Two G forces
Gordon Brown was Britain’s longest-serving peacetime Chancellor of the Exchequer.
In that role, he oversaw extraordinary levels of economic growth and (admittedly debt-fuelled) prosperity for the UK.
As Prime Minister, he was responsible for saving – not ‘the world’ as he mistakenly put it in Parliament – but the world’s banking system as we knew it – and, to a great a extent, still know it today – when it was brought to its knees by the collapse of Lehman Brothers.
Throughout his political life, he has believed in the idea of politics as public service.
His is a record of devotion to Britain, to the betterment of society and to the selfless notion that working to improve the lives of others is a laudable activity.
There seems little doubt that, once he leaves Parliament for the last time next May, he is destined for some new role in public service.
But what of the other G?
A chancer on the make
George Osborne, Britain’s current Chancellor, is a man for whom the ‘chance’ in his job description seems more closely allied to ‘risk’ and ‘luck’ than to the serious business of managing Britain’s economy.
Tomorrow he will deliver his much-trailed Autumn Statement, in which he will outline spendings and savings that he’ll no doubt describe as being good for the British economy.
He may well, as always, blame the last administration for the “mess” he inherited in 2010.
He may even quote Liam Byrne who, as outgoing chief secretary to the Treasury, reportedly left a note saying: “There is no money.” And there is still none.
He may claim to have righted what he saw as a sinking ship.
But he will still be presiding over levels of near-unstainable debt and continuing austerity that can be seen in the UK’s fragile economic growth, the collapse of our manufactured exports, the general state of dereliction in parts of the country and the increasing numbers of people relying on food banks for survival.
Unlike Brown, Osborne, one suspects, will quietly slide into some well remunerated, superannuated business slot when he retires.
A truly big beast
Not for him any notion of ongoing public service.
He is, after all, of the generation that, as Brown puts it, sees politics as, “at best, a branch of the entertainment industry”.
Indeed, it’s hard to believe that Osborne shares anything with Brown who, speaking in Kirkcaldy yesterday, said: “I still hold to the belief in something bigger than ourselves. I still hold to a belief in the moral purpose of public service … which I hope to inspire in my children.”
It’s my belief that, when the tales of these two Gs come to be told, Brown’s will have the greater heft.
For all his failings, he was a good politician and a great public servant.
I cannot see Osborne bettering him on either count.

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Silence is not golden

It’s almost the end of the summer now and the silly season is over.

Most of us have been on holiday, had a good time and now it’s back to work.

We have to assume it’s the same for the British Labour Party, so we ought to start hearing something from them.

But where are they? And what have they go to say?

All during the long hot days of July and the occasional downpours of August, their leader’s silence has been either worrying, irritating, maddening or all three.

In that time, the Conservative propaganda machine has hardly missed a beat, with David Cameron telling us what he thinks about almost anything and everything that passes for public concern.

But nothing has been heard from David Milliband or his team.

I believe he must speak up now and tell the British people what he thinks of the great issues of the day – the events in Egypt, the UK’s energy shortfall, our youth unemployment, the housing shortage and much else – and give us an inkling of what he and his party would do if they were to win the next election.

That may not be due until 2015, but many of us want to know his mind now.

While he may need time to fine-tune his ideas and polish his policies, we need time to decide whether or not he’s the right man for the job.

If he doesn’t do something soon, he won’t get a winner’s gold medal and his silence now will be seen for what it is: leaden.

 

 

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I can’t believe I agree with a Tory!

It almost pains me to say this, but I’ve found a Tory I can agree with.

He’s Ramesh Patel, who writes for the Huffington Post. Check him out at www.huffingtonpost.com.

On November 24 2012, Patel posted an item headlined: Finally! Exposed! The Deficit Myth! So, David Cameron When Are You Going to Apologise?

Aside from the proliferation of screamers and the somewhat eccentric punctuation, Patel’s argument – that Britain’s Conservative-led coalition government has been pedalling three erroneous claims about the origins of the country’s deficit – makes compelling reading.

He points out that David Cameron and George Osborne are consistently lying to the British people about the debt they say they inherited from the previous administration.

Citing statistic after statistic, Patel says they are wrong on the deficit.

Moreover, as you may guess from his livid headline, he wants Cameron to apologise.

Why?

Because he believes that Cameron is playing the blame game to depress confidence and justify austerity, which he and Osborne use as an excuse for a smaller state and thus lower taxes.

And because, by painting Labour as a party that cannot be trusted with the economy, Cameron is playing on people’s fear in a way that will get them to vote Tory at the next election.

Which where, as I expected, Patel and I part company.

For I could not vote Tory, even if the Labour party were a bunch of thieves, knaves, vagabonds and liars – which they are not.

As Patel so clearly states, it’s the Prime Minister who’s the liar. And he should apologise.

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