Outside the marginals

A commentary on the politics that followed the UK 2010, 2015 & 2017 elections (and THAT referendum)

Archive for the category “Hidden Manifestos”

Pressing the Button for Point of No Return

I am watching as my parliament seems to be taking the most stupid decision that I have seen them take in my lifetime. (498 Votes for – 114 Votes against – 38 abstentions)

No this is not a decision to leave the EU – let’s leave that aside for the moment.

The decision is for a process to hand over power to the Prime Minister, aided and abetted by Messrs Fox, Davis, and Johnson to trigger the irreversible process leading to an exit from the EU and get whatever deal they can get. Apparently, this is “what the people voted for and they must be respected”. Read more…

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Gideon’s Dictionary: Tax Credits

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

Tax Credits

Read more…

Conservatives: Strike 2

Yesterday the Conservatives moved one step closer to their objective of neutering the Trade Unions, proposing to:

impose a minimum 50% turnout – and public sector strikes would need the backing of at least 40% of those eligible to vote. …

force unions to give employers 14 days notice of strike action and allow them to bring in agency staff to cover for striking workers. …

cut the amount of money unions have to mount campaigns – or donate to parties such as Labour – with members actively having to “opt in” to pay the so-called political levy, which is currently automatic unless members opt-out. …

have a named individual supervising a picket line.
BBC News Website 15 July 2015 : Trade Union Bill: Ministers deny ‘attack on workers’ rights’

At first sight each of these proposals may seem “reasonable” – particularly if you have been inconvenienced by say a recent tube strike, but at second sight and viewed as a package they appear much more partial and unreasonable.

Why? Read more…

A Programme for the Majority?

Just imagine the following programme for government:

  • Reform
    • A shake up of Westminster
    • Abolition of the House of Lords
    • A fair voting system
  • Public Services
    • No tuition fees
    • Educational Maintenance Allowance including part-time college students
    • The NHS in public hands, halting the tide of NHS privatisation
    • Abolition of prescription charges
    • Explicit protection for the NHS on the face of the TTIP agreement
  • Fairness
    • Pensions that protect our older people.
    • A decent welfare system that helps people into work
    • Eradication of working practices that have no place in a decent, modern economy
    • a Living Wage nation
    • Strengthening of the law against domestic abuse – speed up the court process, give more support to victims, and expand schemes to help offenders change their behaviour
    • Gender Equality: Removal of Systemic and institutional barriers – the pay gap, occupational segregation, a lack of affordable childcare and, sometimes, just outdated attitudes
  • Other
    • No new generation of Trident nuclear weapons
    • Deficit reduction but not slash and burn austerity
    • Stay in Europe

If we could break the internal coalitions in the old elitist parties, could we envisage a parliamentary coalition to support this programme? Read more…

Understanding the coalitions that are our parties

There is a fairly wide-spread view that the country has “had enough of coalitions” and does not want to see another bout of post-election coalition negotiation.

Yet most parties are themselves coalitions where the negotiation is done out of sight – usually by party elites and pay-masters. Not exactly transparent and rather lacking in accountability.

Most parties see it as a disaster if the veil is lifted and we “the voters” are allowed to see what is going on inside. Read more…

Drumbeats from North of the Border

This week (27 November 2014) has seen the publication of the Smith Commission‘s proposals – seen by many as the first stage in delivering the three Musketeer’s Vow to the Scottish People.

Whether it proves to be an effective response to the apparent desire of the Scottish people for more autonomy is yet to be seen.

It does however set a critical and crucial drumbeat to which all in the UK must respond. Read more…

Prime Ministerial Dodging

Another interesting exchange in the House of Commons (my emphasis)

Caroline Lucas (Brighton, Pavilion) (Green): The Prime Minister said that the most recent bloodshed in Gaza and Israel had started with the Hamas rocket attacks. I deplore those attacks, but does the Prime Minister not accept that they are not happening in a vacuum, but are a consequence of the ongoing Israeli occupation and siege of Gaza? Given that this is the latest in a long line of Israeli breaches of international law, does he recognise the growing movement that is calling for an embargo on all military co-operation with Israel?

The Prime Minister: I do not think that we should in any way seek to justify or explain away rocket attacks by Hamas on Israel. [Interruption.] That is, I am afraid, rather what it sounded like. We must be absolutely clear about the fact that we condemn those rocket attacks, and must make it clear that if they stopped there would be a ceasefire, and we could then make progress.
Hansard 21 July 2014 Ukraine (Flight MH17) and Gaza

The Prime Minister stonewalled on any attempt to get him to condemn Israel for disproportionate action and attacks on civilians – despite many attempts to get him to do so. All that the House of Commons got from him was:

I agree with the right hon. Gentleman that international law should apply to everybody, and in what we say to the Israelis we stress the fact that, although they have a right to self-defence, in order to be legal self-defence has to be carried out in a way that is proportionate, and that is why we have been urging restraint.
Hansard 21 July 2014 Ukraine (Flight MH17) and Gaza (In response to Frank Dobson)

Yet he was happy to condemn Hamas. What is going on? Read more…

Manifesto: Introduction

We are now less than a year from an Election and there is much speculation about how various parties are going to do. Doubtless come the Autumn conferences we shall start to see policy proposals coalesce into manifestos.

It will be interesting (post “tuition fees”) whether parties are a bit more cautious as to what they promise or whether they will make “red line” statements that may inhibit any coalition formation.

Read more…

Tomorrow’s Party

The (UK) Electoral Reform society has launched a short public consultation on what tomorrow’s party should look like.

Will Brett Head of Media at the Electoral Reform Society discusses it on Democratic Audit. Read more…

Language Battles

We have seen how the Conservatives have won a language battle over “Welfare” – with, for instance, use of statistics that has been condemned by the ONS and selective demonising of welfare recipients attempting to tar all welfare recipients with the label “welfare scrounger”. It has been suggested that they have set up the working poor (who do not think of themselves as “welfare recipients”) against the non-working poor.

This sort of use of propaganda is of course clever politics and we have seen it used elsewhere with similar success. At the beginning of this parliament they would not have got away with it. But by winning the language battle they have opened the opportunity for welfare cuts that will affect many to a small degree and a few to a very heavy degree. The debate now seems to be how can we solve the deficit problem by further welfare cuts (not by for instance ensuring that all pay their taxes). The deficit is “due” to excessive welfare, apparently – nothing to do with inadequate control of credit, poor regulation and massive government spending to prevent complete collapse of the world economy after the banking crisis. Osborne has said that he will not need to increase taxes in the next government – I can’t see him borrowing more, I can’t see massive growth, so presumably there are going to be further cuts. And which budget is not ring-fenced?

Given the success of this political ploy, we should ask: where is the current language battle and where will the Tories go when they have won the battle? Read more…

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