Tag Archives: Conservative

UK Election 2015 – Exit Polls

Initial reaction… huh!? I had to rewind the BBC broadcast a few times when Dimbleby first revealed the exit polls at the stroke of 10 there. Even though we’ve already heard by this hour repeated calls for a cautious approach to the figures, which give the Tories 316 seats to Labour’s 239, it was unquestionably a blind-siding start to proceedings. Now we can only wait for, or more likely sleep through until, the results proper.

Why by contrast the rest doesn’t surprise me, I’m not sure. It felt clear that the SNP were running away with the show in Scotland, and I’ve maintained unwavering faith in my prediction of five years ago that the coalition would result in pain for the Lib Dems. They did a deal with the devil as it were, chucked in their principles for a seat at the big boy’s table, and rightly are suffering. A German-inspired neologism springs to mind – schadenfreudegasm.

Favourite moment of the night so far? Without a shadow of doubt, the tantalizing prospect of Ed Balls losing his seat. I despise the man, in vast disproportion to my sentiment towards the Labour party, which is much the same as towards all parties – sceptical. This eventuality would appear to be a perfect encapsulation of why the Labour party appear to have come out so poorly. Not enough trust on the economy, and to be sure, Ed Balls inspires as much faith as a fox offering guardianship of the hen house.

Pardon my language, but he’s also a giant bell end, and by comparison I find Ed Miliband rather endearing for all his goofy qualities. But enough of that. How do I feel about the current prospect of another Tory government? Err… well, it’s better than a stick in the eye? Gonorrhoea is probably worse…

The markets definitely seem to like the idea. Honestly though, at this point I’m far too glued to the election analysis to really get into this consideration too deeply. And things may all change yet. And Jeremy Vine is doing more of his silly but curiously captivating 3D guff, so, more to follow…!


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UK Party Conferences 2013

My disdain for the transparency and excessive aspiration of the party conference season was close to shutting down any thought of writing much about it, beyond the last article’s brief showing of a lack of deference. I thought to wait until the whole lot was over next week, when the Tories had said their piece, but I’m going to jump the gun on that. After the Lib Dems, UKIP and Labour there is surprisingly already quite a lot to say. Less surprisingly, none of it too good.

Quickly then. The Liberal Democrats once again set the bar for pitiful desperation, with notable speeches coming from Vince Cable as he went on the attack against their coalition partners for being the “nasty” party. Presumably this makes the Lib Dems the nice party. And Nick Clegg was almost popping an aneurysm as he screeched into the microphone, “We’re not here to prop up the two party system, we’re here to bring it down!” I have many problems with both sets of approach.

First, despite the occasional bleating threat from the catamites of coalition that they might cede from the agreement and leave the Tories to a minority government, the likelihood of this happening, at least until the most expedient moment in time prior to the 2015 elections, is minimal. Clegg himself stated with wild abandon that the Lib Dems simply must stay in power as otherwise Labour or the Tories would surely take us down the road of communism or fascism respectively. So Cable’s attacks on the Tories are little more than self-flagellation as his party are inexorably tied to them for the foreseeable future.

It won’t serve the Lib Dems one bit to paint the Tories with the nasty brush, because they have largely towed the line with the same power-hungry eagerness that has utterly annihilated their support base up and down the country. In this sense, they’re a bit like the school yard bully’s pathetic underling, the one who hides behind the big lad and supports his loutish behaviour but then runs to the teacher later to discreetly rat everything out, hoping to gain supremacy via treachery.

Frankly, Clegg’s entire speech smacked of, “If we say it loud enough and often enough, then it must be true.” It’s sort of an effective political strategy except for the fact that it was barely half a wink after the Rose Garden two or so years ago that those once loyal had forever written him and the party off as crass operatives lacking any scruples. I don’t think anyone believes the Lib Dems are around for any other reason than to serve themselves, and the notion they form a critical mechanism against main party excesses will only ever again fall on deaf ears.

Moving on, UKIP… ah, UKIP. Thank you for vindicating the avalanche of criticism I levelled at you some months ago after the aberration of your success in Eastleigh. There have been various things between that by-election and last week’s conference that have steadily delegitimized them, and so my expectation of a dearth of joy for them come 2015 is on track. This is only helped when central party figures like Godfrey Bloom not only depart the reservation, but actually go stratospheric with their patent deficiencies of character and credibility.

Do I even need to detail his infringements? Never mind the fact that his name is now popularly “Bongo” after his incredibly tactless comments on foreign aid some weeks ago – throwing around the term “sluts” and bashing up CH4 journalists with party pamphlets is a new kind of crazy. Bloom already lost the whip and is now also quitting the party in Brussels, but the damage has already been done. I can’t remember a single policy point or anything from, say, Farage’s keynote speech. So thanks Bongo! Enjoy the wilderness, but I don’t think you’ll be alone for long. UKIP really is a gift to satire.

As for Labour, well, the opposition has been having a very tough time of late. As if sliding poll numbers during a prolonged government austerity drive wasn’t enough of an indictment of their own quality as a group of politicians, Damian McBride’s dagger to the soft flank of his former comrades speaks further volumes. I would say first that I do not believe for a fleeting microsecond that Balls and Miliband weren’t party to McBride’s actions during the Labour years, as they themselves were staunch Brownites. The launch of his book was callously timed to take advantage of the Labour conference and deliver maximum sensation against Labour’s front pair.

As for the conference itself, we’ve had fairly empty promises of a return to socialism in the form of repealed taxes, increased benefits, more social support, bank levies… all of which screams of a reaction against criticism for Labour being only able to promote an austerity-lite model that was received with particular derision after nearly three years of lambasting and rejecting everything the coalition was doing. It’s a feature I particularly despise about the Labour party at present, but what really miffs me here is that all of these things that Balls and Miliband have promoted are barely even socialist.

It’s just classic New Labour. Big spending promises, which have largely already been called out as unfunded and impractical, and only a short while after they came close to financially sinking the nation. They have slipped straight back into bad habits after a few years in opposition left them completely floundering for an idea that was even remotely dynamic. It is really appalling. Miliband just gave his big speech, and although I’d usually reserve some words for how laughably uncharismatic he is, being as stiff and obviously coached as any useless public speaker I’ve ever seen, I think it would only distract from the more pertinent point.

If Labour went to the elections in 2010 saying of the Tories, “You can’t trust them on the NHS,” after 13 years of Labour government and a distinct shift in Tory culture and personnel, then how on earth does Labour expect we could trust them on the economy? It will have only been five years come the election and the people at the reigns are still very much the same that were central to Labour’s abysmal failings pre-2010. They haven’t learned and they haven’t listened. The Treasury reports a funding gap in Labour’s proposals of around £27bn, and I take Labour’s denial of this with absolutely zero faith. I think they are dangerous.

The Tories will probably repeat something along these lines during their conference, which I expect will be a fairly confident affair. The more the economy grows, the more their poll deficit will decrease and this will only be helped by Miliband’s beleaguered position. They should be careful however, because one thing Labour did accurately identify is that the recovery isn’t yet being felt by the majority of voters, and the cost of living has taken a sharp upturn. If in the next couple of years they can provide more than what amounts to Labour’s rhetorical dogfarts, they stand a decent chance.

Without wanting to sound too much like a right-wing sycophant I could suggest you read past articles where I liberally criticise the Tories and coalition for their various amateur errors, and surely they will produce some further points of consternation. But I guess at the moment the strident river of tripe emanating from the other parties actually puts the government in a reasonable light. If only they ditched the moronic bedroom tax and lowered VAT a bit. The narrative is there for the taking. I guess I should actually wait and see what their conference reveals…

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Freedland on Ed

I’m pleased to say another contributor to the world of information has been filtered out for my entirely less qualified attention. Jonathan Freedland is to be the third writer under the microscope, although only after some deliberation, as Caitlin Moran was making a strong case for inclusion in this journalistic canon just the other day, with a piece ranging from the role of art in society to the effects of modern pornography on young sexual expectations.

Freedland edged the focus of this article by a nose however, given the combined events of today’s Prime Minister’s Questions and an article in the Huffington Post looking at Ed Miliband’s new Reaganesque angle of attack. The lead question from the opposition leader echoed that of the Republican icon in his day, “are you better off now than you were four years ago?”. These things are pertinent to Freedland’s recent article, asking what kind of leader will Miliband be.

A brief introduction though. Freedland is a regular contributor to the Guardian, like Jenkins, and also the New York Times, but with a more political focus and journalistic style. A bit less inclined to offer personal thoughts on a given issue than that other monolith of opinion, he is more likely to drive the cognitive gears by framing a discussion. Jenkins generally achieves this with a stronger position put forward for dissection and potential objection.

As to the aforementioned discussion of Miliband’s character of leadership, he actually puts things in more specific terms. “Will Ed Miliband be an Obama or Hollande?”, he asks. The question boils down to the potential manner in which Ed may one day ascend to power; with dynamic, inspiring visions of change, or quietly and inevitably on the back of repetitive Tory failings and subsequent dissatisfaction? I think today’s PMQ’s was a further hint of which.

From my perspective, Miliband has thus far been firmly camped out in the Hollande corner, and not to repeat the statements of several previous articles I shall only here label him the… endless font of condemnation not cut with a shred of evident constructive thinking. This from the alleged ideas man of the Labour Party. Perhaps as Freedland indicates, it has simply been far too difficult to resist the regular temptations of steady government incompetence.

Despite Miliband’s efforts in the Commons today, challenging Cameron on that issue of the voter’s changing fortunes, the Prime Minister had just enough politically viable defence at hand to resist. But his closing remarks to his assailant were something of a PMQ’s knockout, as he told the House of Miliband’s “major speech on the economy”. A speech, he gleefully added, which contains no new policy initiatives. Queue the Tory benches going ballistic.

This somewhat laughable omission would be damaging enough to the idea that the Labour Party are offering a reasonable alternative, but the matter is compounded by the manner in which the man was on the assault today. It was over two years ago that the media had put the notion that Ed could be Ed to the sword, his early tenure being veritably riddled with satire. It was, in all serious terms, quite hard to take him seriously.

Last year it seems that various oscillations of personal image management finally stabilised to some degree, as with the “One Nation” party conference speech he attempted statesmanship. Aside from famously pinching the central theme of that speech from famed Conservative Disraeli, it was only otherwise notable for painfully lacking in policy and detail. Worse however, it was the beginning of his steady evolution into a 19th Century style of barracker in the Commons.

But “One Nation” hasn’t made much of an appearance since early after the conference, and with his recent channeling of energy into the Reagan Question, it seems he is transforming yet again. Sadly for the state of healthy opposition, it is a transformation of image only and from Ed to Benjamin to Ronald the only consistent thing about Miliband and company is a lack of substance from the Labour front bench.

Freedland is right to indicate that Miliband’s tone of leadership will be more important come election time, and with a sustained healthy lead over the Tories in the polls, thanks to their masochistic tendencies, it can even be said he has no immediate reason to fill that void of usefulness. One can only hope that there is at least a semblance of a plan being squirreled away somewhere though, as an economically rudderless Labour government is a scary prospect.

I could easily be sold on a truly progressive and realistic agenda set out by Labour, admittedly due heavily to present disenfranchisement with the government, but that is not looking likely to appear from this set-up. Frankly the idea of Miliband conjuring a fervour comparable to Obama is a fantasy, with or without policy. But as Hollande aptly proved, and as the Tories are currently adding truth to the fact, all it takes is a really, really unpopular incumbent.

Earlier on in this government I had privately written off Miliband as a caretaker leader, possibly not even set to face a single general election. But Freedland’s article has reminded me of that slightly grim fact. In my defence, back then I could never have anticipated the scope of Tory blundering that led to his ascendancy. Prime Minister Miliband? Too much of a mouthful for me, but I’m not actually partisan… I just want someone to offer something truly appealing.

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Simon Jenkins on Europe

Well thanks a lot Simon. Usually I like to frame my own arguments around issues, or in the least offer a substantive alternate take, yet on the matter of Britain and the EU all you’ve left me is the potential for verbatim regurgitation. Frankly I find it quite inconsiderate that you would assume such a totally rational perspective on the matter, as I’ve come to expect even a little articulate contrarianism upon which to cognitively chew.

If you’ll excuse me I’ll address the reader now.

At most I find two points to pick up on, and these are simple notes not remotely approaching disagreement. The horror. The first is in regard to what Jenkins calls Cameron’s “vacillations” and to be sure, the Prime Minister has dithered and dallied and gone back and forth with the best of them. However, the question of Europe has been politically toxic for the Conservative party almost since the question existed and I’ve therefore been rather forgiving of the man.

The last six months of coalition revealed quite emphatically that the old Tory party is still alive and kicking, grouchily awakening from the temporary hush caused by Cameron’s astute push towards moderation, if only in image. It’s not a question of only satisfying both his party and the Lib Dems, but almost more importantly, both his vision for the Tories and what they really are. The PM’s balancing act has been revealed and though we can certainly say he was overcautious, he was so with the best intentions.

I would be livid to see the Tories consumed in yet another European-fuelled bloodbath and, admitting to a few hair-raising moments, I might actually go so far as to say I admire him for keeping the wolves at bay. There’s every possibility I’m being overly optimistic but what I ultimately see is a PM who wants to resolve the big question the right way, once. That is despite, or perhaps to spite, the existing impression that the coalition couldn’t hit a bullseye on the first attempt if their lives depended on it. The proof will be in the results.

As for the other side of the aisle, our darling Labour party, replete with Tweedleband and Tweedleballs, disciples of the Dark Lord Brown and consummate inducers of nausea, they’ve shown their hand. Jenkins draws attention to their sordid apprenticeships under the former Chancellor and how they would have had front row seats to the 2003 version of today’s debate. There were indications then of the direction the EU was heading and god save us all if it wasn’t Brown who saw the realities therein.

Thus, rightly according to Jenkins, “There need be no disagreement.” I can’t say with any certainty that there is. I can’t say with any certainty anything about the Labour party’s front pairing really. Perhaps that their sole purpose in political life at present is to offer endlessly snide criticisms with one hand and absolutely nothing with other, unless they occasionally needed both to dole out such useless contributions?

I’m all for a dash of good old fashioned political enmity but the extent to which Miliband and Balls have pushed it is not something I care for. An opposition’s duty is to offer a meaningful second choice, and is essential to democratic government. Yet even on the issue of Europe they have brought little to the table beyond the usual cynical lambasting of the Tories, and a vague to non-existent representation of their own message.

We deserve better, although on many a day I wouldn’t reserve that comment for Labour alone. Not just our political classes, we deserve better from Jenkins too. I’ll be disappointed not to find something more controversial or out of tune with my own views next time. Perhaps the National Trust chairman will call for our heritage sites to be saturated with wind farms. Yes, he’d love that.

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Rhetoric… Broadly Speaking

It’s been a fascinating couple of weeks. Politics have dominated the headlines in the UK and USA given the slew of autumn party conferences here, and across the pond the final countdown to the general elections began with the first of three presidential debates. Needless to say I am giddy and swooning like an addict given too great a fix. The finer machinations of running a nation are, of course, occasionally a bit dull but when the gloves of office come off as they have so energetically done of late even a true cynic could surely not resist a cursory glance at how the key players are attempting to engage their existing and potential supporters. Where to begin?

With Michael Deaver actually. Ronald Reagan’s long serving communications guru and Deputy Chief of Staff during his time in the White House had a very interesting perspective on the importance of constituent elements in a successful broadcast appearance. While referring mainly to the occasion of a leadership debate, his suggestion that appearance was 85% of the game followed by 10% “how you say things” and 5% “what you actually say” is curiously relevant to all of these recent and ongoing events.

Chronologically we had the Liberal Democrats first, as indeed how else could they be first in any other consideration. They may as well have taken this opportunity to lead the pack, in however a meaningless fashion, but sadly there was never a possibility this act could really seize the initiative. Nick Clegg and company are simply far too damaged at this point to attain any reversal of fortune but nonetheless from 22-26 September they did their best to ignore the fact. It was quite remarkable how oblivious they were to the arch-dilemma they are consumed by. Perfunctory apologies from our esteemed Deputy PM for their impotence in opposing the vast student tuition increase were ridiculed but beyond this the Liberal Democrats carried belligerently on as normal.

This was not a party in crisis mode as far as I could discern and my substantial disbelief at claims they were an effective foil to Conservative antics was only surpassed by the audacity of bothering to promote a platform at all. The Mansion Tax, now wholly rejected by the Tories, and any other permutation of their “fairer tax for tough times” initiative was laughably electoral in nature given their roundly accepted inefficacy. One could almost understand this however, if looking at the polls. Somehow, despite the Tories leading the charge on most of the unsavoury policy of government, the Liberal Democrats support has plummeted harder and Clegg himself is arguably the least popular party leader since polling began.

Applying Deaver’s model to the Liberal Democrats is almost wasteful due to the severity of the problems they face. We’re not talking about a short stint in the wilderness that the two major parties must suffer in defeat, but a catastrophic regression that may well require dissolution and recreation to ever re-emerge back into the forefront of politics. But still, with Clegg looking like a walking shambles, sounding like a man on the edge and saying things that make very little sense at all, I’d say he failed to pass the acceptable standard of a man supposedly vying for power over a nation. Moving on.

It pains me to say that Ed Miliband faired better. He went into his conference with a very specific personal mission – to convince the country that he can be as good a statesman as he can be a policy wonk. That I find myself in opposition to many a product of his wonkery does not altogether detract from the fact that he has a decent brain. Probably unfairly though, myself and many, many… many of us have some difficulty hearing past his nasal, whiny voice, his gangly, disproportioned physique and his unashamed usurpation of his brother’s potentially more credible leadership. There are concerns over his ability to exercise authority over the unions who made his ascension possible as well as his formative apprenticeship under the ignominious Gordon Brown.

And how he attacked this mission with heavily coached enthusiasm. And how, in my opinion, he fell short of the mark, thanks mainly to the transparency of every intonation, gesticulation and motive behind near every sentence he spoke. Rhetoric comes so painfully unnatural to this man that in reaching for such heady heights as Disraeli, the most heavily referenced individual in his keynote speech, he forced me on several occasions to literally reel with embarrassment. Was he convinced he was Steve Jobs reincarnate? As the entire affair was so clearly informed by the primary goal of casting off his nerdy shackles he also failed in saying much of worth. Although he did have me nodding in agreement during his feisty attack on coalition incompetence, there wasn’t an identifiable detail of policy in an entire speech that was largely dominated by a tame personal story and the vagueness of the co-opted “One Nation” concept.

Poor man, he did try, but there are limitations there he just can’t surpass. And if we place significant credence in Deaver’s model there is probably no hope for his aspirations. Miliband Junior will always be the nerd and his only chance lies in the ineptitude of his opponents. After all, he’s tried almost everything. Whether it be embracing or trying to defeat the majority perception, he looks wrong, sounds wrong and if the substance of his words is worth so little, I return to an old thought that he really is the caretaker leader while Labour recover as a party. When will David make his move?

The first presidential debate was a bit of a surprise and makes the reality of Deaver’s model a very sad one. Romney was on fire, and I’m sure you have picked up on the general impression that he demolished an inexplicably lacklustre performance from Obama. He looked and sounded rather presidential compared to the hesitant and professorial President. The Denver altitude perhaps. Throughout the history of presidential debates the polling question that attracts the most attention is which candidate seemed more presidential, and there was little doubt in this case.

I can only hope that through some phenomena the American public chose to pay more attention to the 5%. In the aftermath of the debate, the fact-checkers went to work and item by item began to take apart Romney’s performance. In the figurative battlefield of ideas, Obama could have put a bullet straight though the heart of the Romney campaign if he’d even bothered to fight. The painful irony of the supremely encouraging employment statistics that appeared the day after the debate showed this – quite detrimental to Romney’s assertion that Obama’s methods have failed and that he was going to be the master of small business and job creation, employment is at it’s best since 2008 and Obama is in fact a net job creator.

But how Obama allowed Romney to disavow himself of the actually insane though still wholly under-defined budget proposals he’s been running with for months is beyond me. How, after his barnstorming energy of the 2008 campaign he allowed Romney, who stumbles over the most simple sentences on many occasions, to come across as a superior orator is further beyond me still. During one rather extended patriotic rap I actually thought Romney had a shot, it was a sublime political mini-speech. The big question is, was this performance enough to undermine the gradually established notion that Romney might be an emotionless cyborg who gives private dinner speeches describing half of the American populace as welfare dependant parasites.

I sincerely hope not. The thought of a Romney-Ryan Republican government chills me to the core and I cannot begin to fathom his motivations beyond being the first Morman president to Obama’s first African-American president. What is clear is that Romney really wants to be president and I think that’s an unhealthy disposition for a role of sombre duty and immense power.

I’m thoroughly looking forward to David Cameron’s keynote speech. If it can’t surpass the efforts of his fellow party leaders then I would be inclined to lose the last of my now microscopic hope in the Conservative party. That is if I hadn’t seen William Hague’s speech today. I lament his ill-fortuned time as party leader and it continues to feed my distaste for the Eurosceptic branch of the party to this day. Cameron made sense at the time – young, moderate and apparently competent in the wake of the old, grey and angry Tory disasters that were IDS and the vampiric Howard. But barely leading the party to victory against Brown after 13 years of Labour government does not really prove his worth.

Was Hague today renewing his intent? Deaver would probably think so if he was still around today and it just so happens Hague was making sense. Interesting times.


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The State of Governance: UK Edition Two

I need to start this article with an apology. In Edition One of this series I referred to a number of government issues, all accumulating towards a fairly straightforward condemnation of the state of things as they are. And yet I made one significant mistake. By choosing to repeat the moniker of one particular incident, that being the VAT surcharge proposed for certain hot goods sold on and off our high streets, I became complicit in my own pet hatred of a brand of political and media language that we can all do without. I dare not actually repeat the name in question but we’ll just say it stems from an infamous chapter in American history during which one Richard M. Nixon was obliged to resign from the most powerful office on Earth due to his direct involvement in the attempted cover-up of the break-in of DNC headquarters by subordinates ostensibly trying to uncover evidence of illicit funding to the DNC by Cuban authorities. Snappy.

The Watergate scandal, named after the Watergate hotel and office complex, went beyond this incident however and eventually Nixon implicated himself through recordings he had covertly made of private conversations with various individuals subsequent to this attempted cover-up. This was an astonishing episode in the narrative of US politics that had profound implications for the relationship between citizenry and government as well as the question of executive authority. Its importance cannot be understated.

And yet in the ensuing decades we have grown all too fond of the suffix “gate” attached to any and every scandal from the trivial to the somewhat serious. The aforementioned incident involving, amongst other products, a delicacy of the Cornwall region, was perhaps the final straw for me and despite my indiscretion I had sworn never again to exaggerate such pure banality as a Conservative case of mean policy diarrhoea with such a connection to a definitively seminal event. Even if that was what everyone else was calling it.

No, the use of the “gate” term has certainly now run its course, and likely did some time ago. It is idiotic to use such a term when in fact all this does is dilute the understanding of future generations of a time when the leader of the free world engaged in corruption and criminal activities that appeared more along the lines of an implausible Hollywood script, than the true precedent for the benchmark of genuine political scandal. I never felt more provincial than when newscaster after journalist after opposition member, with regards to what I will now rename Osborne’s Pasty Nightmare, regurgitated the term with that often apparent twinkle of self-satisfaction for having dared to be so terribly bloody clever. Oh, the scorn…

Having said this I could now take an elegant tangent back to what was the planned substance of this article, that being a disdainful look at the Labour party. But actually no amount of elegance could adequately achieve the seamless transition I dreamt of and so I find myself hijacked again by a propensity for distraction. I would rather stick to the issue of language in and around politics and my perception of that itself having been hijacked by the effete gaggle of politicians we are these days served by.

I have certainly mentioned in other articles that part of my enjoyment of the political process in a few nations is the theatre of it. This is partly symptomatic of my understood position of glib observer and commentator, but even though politics should be the serious business of making people’s lives better, it is simply true that there is an obnoxious element of PR and marketing. Stemming from this is the majority of that theatrical aspect, which I usually revel in. Sadly, the fun stops with a resounding thud when I’m forced to listen to the politician who, when grappling with profundity and neutrality all at once, in a struggle akin to grasping a lubricated fish, manages to say absolutely nothing. It is bewildering.

We could probably name the usual language of politicians a language entirely unto itself, and indeed, no longer do our esteemed MPs speak English, I hereby call them users of the unwanted dialect of unremitting twattery. Before you accuse me of being rather overly agitated by this impairment of communication, I should defend myself.

God help me but these are actually important individuals, involved in the important undertaking of running the country. I believe that in a democracy the people should be engaged, and speaking as an avid follower of these issues, nothing turns me off more than this dire situation. It does not surprise me in the slightest that direct democratic participation in the UK has steadily declined since 1997 when professional politicians began to outnumber the politicians of conscience (dare I suggest such a thing exists) and this language became prevalent. What ever happened to the statesman who with eloquence and frankness could deliver a message and actively engage the people with it? I am not imagining this was once a real thing as despite Tony Blair’s era bringing this foul culture into play, he was a supreme communicator. As is Barack Obama, and Bill Clinton for that matter, when either are in form.

It now seems the rare exception that a politician speaks in their fashion, although it so desperately shouldn’t be. Vince Cable is often hailed for undressed language, and it’s perhaps his greatest bit of political currency given his occasional habit of proposing curious initiatives. Incidentally, this opens the door to the question of the substance of policy itself. Maybe I am being too hard on the poor folks over in Westminster, as perhaps if they had even the nucleus of a good idea to run with they wouldn’t have to veil needless tripe with a barrage of meaningless qualifiers and exhaustively researched catchwords and phrases that tested well in sample groups. Perhaps if for once a policy could speak for itself we could entirely forgo the mildly sordid and intrusive experience of an MPs ramblings.

We should be so lucky. I realise again as I draw this piece to a close that I’m not achieving the higher goal of discussing such a diamond-in-the-rough as logical policy but then I can find praise for myself in this. Clearly lacking a decent idea at present I say that in distinction to the majority of our lamentable public servants I did not therefore choose to enter politics.

I honestly did want to spend some time with this piece discussing the Labour opposition. And in light of Nick Clegg’s recent surge of heinously transparent policy shifts away from the Tory side of things I think it would be just about reasonable to discuss him a little further. Despite the… Lib Dem thing. But I’m exhausted with rage now and should the House of Commons not collapse in on itself overnight, I’ll have wandered down that way and repeatedly smashed my ailing, frustrated head against its increasingly redundant walls for nothing.

Until next time. Although to corroborate this article and pre-empt the next, please watch this delightful clip featuring Steve Bell offering his commentary on the current Lib Dem conference. Ask no questions as to why I loathe them thereafter.

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The State of Governance: UK Edition One

As opposed to the rather more exhaustively referenced piece on Assange and his road to a Butch Cassidy-style ending (Ricardo Platino can be his Sundance Kid, although I’m concerned about the efficacy of English truncheons over Spanish rifles), this one is more visceral. Not just visceral, mind you, more visceral. Thus I defend all oversights of fact and errors of interpretation.

This decision wasn’t at all based on the advice given after the previous article, suggesting that while it’s good to inform, it’s also good to let my readership finish an article without having to catch up on another twenty first. I’m learning. In all honesty, it’s rather more based on the fact that PMQ archives are dreadfully catalogued, and reading endless transcriptions of the speeches of the most asinine political class since time began was making me very sad. I couldn’t be bothered. My hope anyway is that this issue is a little closer to home for some of you and basically irrelevant to the rest. You’ll either know what I’m talking about or not, and if the former, will sympathise or disagree with me based on your existing feelings. This sense is wonderfully encapsulated by a Gary Younge article written pre-election. So before I finish providing my own reasoning for writing this being a waste of time… UK government.

Two and a half years ago I was elated. I might describe myself as a libertarian, which is basically to say I think taxes and government are generally irksome and I prefer to do what I want, when I want. But this conflicts with my other brain which informs me that social justice and equality of most description is incredibly important, and although we can debate the use of taxes and the competence of government in relation to these, it’s not like anyone else is trying very hard.

But two and a half years ago, New Labour had been trying for 13 years and thanks to an affluent upbringing that brought with it some preconceived political ideology, and a smattering of national and global financial catastrophe, I was only too happy to see Brown finally walking the lonely walk out of Downing Street. This emotion didn’t suffer for the short period of uncertainty during which the Con-Lib coalition formed and there was actually a fleeting possibility that Labour could wrangle back the election with some ungodly, mutant “rainbow” coalition of sorts. I would have very seriously burned Westminster to the ground, seeing that democracy as we knew it had died, but I was denied this public service by the marginally acceptable outcome that was.

Even then I wasn’t a complete fascist though, and won’t ignore some of the good things Labour achieved, such as the adoption of the “Third Way”, provision of the national minimum wage and limited aspects of their tax and benefits reforms. Sadly these scarcely served to diminish my increasingly rancorous disdain for Gordon Brown, his affinity for an older, Keynesian model and general denial of the fact that apart from those embodied by Dennis Skinner, I don’t think anyone wanted him. It didn’t help that I found him personally odious, and it would be a good time to mention that I do believe in statesmanship. It may not be the most elevated concept but who leads the nation speaks for the nation, and I’m not ashamed to say that I would have found his disagreeable policies more palatable had he an ounce more charisma to convince me.

And so in came the Tories, rather jubilant after so long in opposition and content for having expediently arranged victory. The mood was such that you would have thought the Lib Dems were a Tory Lite rump, both parties were so eager for a measure of power. I honestly and totally unrealistically imagined this was the start of a golden age of sensible management and sensible policy, that the coalition would only have the best effect of tempering the Tory right and the more leftwards leanings of the Liberals, resulting in a gloriously harmonious government leading the nation out of recession and into prosperity. It felt inevitable and I ate the Rose Garden scenes up and asked for more. Did India really want independence? Those waves have been looking so glumly unruled…

Oh alas, where to begin? This very question has delayed publication of this article as after only a short while of considering this and marshalling my evidence and subsequent thoughts, my head hurt far too much and I had to lie down. The sheer weight of farce has even forced my to redress the theme as more introductory, the beginning of a serial on the many ways Westminster sapped my faith in humanity. For now, for a start, I think we can find significant complaint simply within the failed or misleading manifesto commitments of both coalition parties and the truly shocking degree of incompetence in the cabinet.

Today we have no electoral reform and no parliamentary reform, but instead a host of reforms to the NHS that were not only excluded by the Tory’s promise not to heavily reorganise, but are at this point broadly a pariah. Instead of the Liberal promise to scrap tuition fees we have the most expensive university attendance in history and instead of bolstering younger levels of educational support we lost EMA’s. Compassionate conservatism evaporated in an instant with punishing welfare and public sector reforms in the same fiscal policy that scrapped the 50p and corporate tax rates. New Deal-esque infrastructural and construction projects have failed to materialise and Trident failed to disappear, but then Mitt Romney did tell me recently that the Russians are still our greatest existential threat and I sleep soundly at night knowing we prescribe to his brand of wisdom. And Pastygate… the malicious brainchild of a demented goblin creature.

On a policy level the situation is clearly poor at best, and gets little better on a personnel level. Before we could blink we said goodbye to David Lawes, a so-called treasury and policy wonk ousted on the back of his miscreant expenses. Andy Coulson later followed under a storm of questions regarding his stewardship of the News of the World, with added embarrassment for David Cameron having firmly stood by him. Liam Fox departed his rather sensitive Defence role thanks to allowing one Adam Werrity to tag along whenever he felt like it. The shadow of the Murdoch’s would later revisit and almost engulf both Vince Cable and Jeremy Hunt, the former for “declaring war” on the BSkyB bid and the latter being asked stern questions as to whether he enabled it.

Teresa May actually did go briefly to war with the Civil Service over matters of immigration, and Andrew Lansley with the entire medical profession for obvious reasons. Incredibly he was one of only a few cabinet ministers to take a real knock in the recent reshuffle. I despise reshuffles, such vapid and cynical posturing usually being the remit of a government running out of ideas. Throw in a touch of Oliver Letwin throwing government documents in a St. James Park bin, Francis Maude dangerously suggesting consumers stock up on petrol reserves during the strikes and Michael Gove’s attempts to reinstate Victorian-era educational methods and the cabinet looks to be in genuine disarray.

That’s before you even reach the big dogs. Cameron, Osborne and Clegg are walking a razor’s edge. Clegg has almost singularly absorbed every gram of ire generated by his support base and their dissatisfaction with the Liberal agenda being thwarted at most turns. Osborne has become the walking, talking vision of nasty Tory ethics and probably avoids dark alleys in the wake of the hardship suffered by many during this time of austerity. And all of this, from Lawes to Osborne, trickles up to the detriment of Cameron. If delaying this article’s release did any good, it allowed me to observe today’s piece in the Guardian, unveiling the first of possibly many brewing coups. That Bob Stewart was loyal enough not to play along is likely only a temporary reprieve from the Tory backbenchers.

Appointing Maria Miller to Culture Secretary was a telling symptom of Cameron’s increasing fear of reprisals for daring to be moderate. Her voting record on women’s and LGBT rights tells all but are probably short of the mark in terms of satisfying the hard right’s blood-lust for some genuine anti-EU or anti-immigration reform. And so with the old Tory party vying internally for supremacy and an increasingly dissatisfied and obstinate Liberal minority, the coalition itself also looks to be in serious danger. How I long for the Rose Garden again.

It’s astonishing how poorly this coalition have failed in their early aspirations. I fully accept that my initially high expectations were unrealistic and naïve but to have been proved so completely wrong still comes as a shock. But then I truly bought the message of a new compassionate Conservative party, free of the dead weight of the Zac Goldsmiths and Maria Millers of the world, that could effectively function with the Liberals. Their defence of globally hard economic times be damned, I could accept that the recovery was still not really taking off if it weren’t for the tonnage of political ineptitude that also smothered it.

The only thing that remains to be said for now is that if the coalition hadn’t so painfully mismanaged the message of it having been Labour’s initial responsibility, they could still rely on that fact to some extent. But two years of being asleep or drunk at the wheel, and spouting that line with a twinkle in the eye, has killed it. Now I actually do just about agree with Miliband the Younger, that two and half years on the buck does stop at the coalition’s door.

This is not to excuse the Labour Party from further criticism however. I’ve run out of time but next up will be a closer look at the quality of their opposition in context and with their time in government. If possible I shall try to be even more shallow in my deference. Watch out Balls.


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