Outside the marginals

a commentary on the politics that followed the UK 2010 & 2015 elections

Archive for the category “Government as Servant”

Theresa’ Dictionary: Successful Brexit

Every empress, or prospective emperor (or empress), has to give the appearance of having “the common touch”. In view of the restricted background of our new empress, I offer her a dictionary in the hope that studying it will help her understand the people she wishes to rule.

Successful Brexit

Read more…

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Will Democracy ever work for me?

Yes, I mean me personally. I got the vote in the mid 1970’s and democracy has never worked for me (talking UK). My vote has never made a difference and I have always been told that I must accept the “democratic will of the people”.

So I have, over and over and over again. Read more…

Enemies of the People

The country is split; horribly horribly split. This week’s High Court judgement has opened the split even more.

But dig deeper and it is not a Brexit vs Anti-Brexit split. It is a deeper and more dangerous split amongst the people of this country. The split is between those who have given up on the major institutions of the country (Parliament, Judiciary, City, “Mainstream Media”) – as well as the EU and all its institutions – and those who are still trying to have faith in some of the institutions.

Read more…

No Mayor, No Wey-Aye

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid has confirmed that a planned devolution deal for the North East will not go ahead after a majority of local leaders voted against it.

Mr Javid said he was disappointed that four of the seven councils to form a planned North East Combined Authority – Durham, Gateshead, Sunderland, and South Tyneside – voted against the deal.

He insisted they would have received guaranteed investment of more than £1 billion and powers over transport, skills and regeneration.

Legislation to devolve the powers and enable 2017 elections for a North East mayor has now been shelved.
Morpeth Herald (quoting Reuters), 8 August 2016 | North East devolution plans shelved after local leaders reject deal

This sounds like petulance – on both sides, but I suspect it is more complicated.

First the £1bn is not as massive at it sounds; it is £30m a year for 30 years. For a population of a little under 2 million, that is £15 per head per year.

Read more…

Laziness and Populism

There is a strand in British politics – probably much approved of by the Pub Landlord – that says that by resorting to simplistic slogans, that have just a germ of truth to them, you can attract much approval and support.

Our Prime Minster seems to be especially good at this; I hope it is a character flaw rather than as a result of his expensive education.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Cameron said the push on language was “about building a more integrated, cohesive, one nation country where there’s genuine opportunity for people”.

He also said that while he accepted there was no “causal connection” between poor English and extremism, a better grasp would make communities “more resilient” to threats of radicalisation from so-called Islamic State – or Daesh.

“If you’re not able to speak English, you’re not able to integrate, you may find, therefore, that you have challenges understanding what your identity is and you could be more susceptible to the extremist message that comes from Daesh,” he said.

Lady Warsi – who was the first female Muslim cabinet minister – welcomed the new money for language teaching, but said: “This lazy and misguided linking, and what I saw once again as stereotyping of British Muslim communities, I felt took away from what was a positive announcement.”
BBC News Website, 18 January 2016 : David Cameron’s Muslim women policy ‘lazy and misguided’

We need to be more (academically) critical of some of these pronouncements. Read more…

Labour won’t find its soul by navel gazing

… last year’s election defeat could be reduced to two key factors – Labour’s failure to pay enough attention to “economic competence”, and the fact that “the public did not perceive Ed Miliband as a credible prime minister”.
The Guardian, 1 January 2016 : When are Labour party ‘moderates’ going to do more than just moan?

But behind that there is a rejection of Labour’s attempts to hold power by trying to ape the Tories – they can never be “better Tories than the Tories”. If unrestrained global capitalism is the name of the game you might as well vote Tory.

But if unrestrained global capitalism is not the name of the game … Read more…

British left vulnerable to hunger after welfare reforms, warns Justin Welby

Initially I read the above Guardian headline as referring to the “British Left” being vulnerable before realising that it was about something far more serious – or something that should be more serious.

Archbishop of Canterbury claims benefit sanctions and bureaucratic delays in welfare mean government is partly to blame for ‘tragedy’ of hunger.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has warned that government policies on poverty and welfare reform have left too many people in Britain unable to feed their families. …

Welby also urged a widening of the political debate around welfare away from the pillorying of people dependent on benefits to one which recognised the value of social security as an expression of a national belief that “we are one people with care for all”.
The Guardian, 10 December 2015 : British left vulnerable to hunger after welfare reforms, warns Justin Welby

It is serious, but “Archbishop warns about poverty” is hardly news – is it?

What we have to ask is why is this situation not just a constant but actually getting more severe?

Read more…

Saving, Fridges and Wonga

… more than a quarter of families (26%) are saving nothing each month, and the percentage with no savings cushion has remained static at 17% over the last six months.

It suggests that, while those families who can afford to save are making efforts to put more money away, the situation has shown little sign of improving for those who were already struggling or failing to do so.
Aviva News Website 12 August 2015 : UK: Rising incomes mask growing inequality amongst UK families

So what do these families do if their fridge fails? Read more…

Privatising Welfare

Part of the present Government’s philosophy is that Government should be small. If something does not need to be done; it should not be done. If it does need to be done; it does not necessarily need to be done by the Government.

Hence “Big Society” – the idea that volunteers or the voluntary sector can take over from government – particularly in the areas of health care, social care and education.

The problem is – what happens if a voluntary provider of these services fails? Read more…

The party of work, not welfare?

Liz Kendall’s core message apparently includes the statement that Labour should be seen as the party of “work not welfare”. (BBC News Website 4 August 2015 : Liz Kendall: I’m an ‘all or nothing’ person)

Kind of says it all, doesn’t it? Labour – the traditional party of the working class, the major cheer-leader (if not originator) of the welfare state – should see themselves facing a choice between “work” or “welfare”.

It’s a false choice. Read more…

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