Archive for the 'Conservatives' Category

We, the people, are owed nothing less than a general election

May 12, 2007

There is something seriously distasteful about the way in which Gordon Brown has opened his Labour leadership campaign. He is not campaigning for a general election; he is not campaigning to become Prime Minister. He is, only, campaigning to become the leader of the Labour Party. So Brown should really spare as statements like the following:

I want to lead a government humble enough to know its place (*)

It is only a consequence of the system, and an unwelcome one, that, by becoming leader of the Labour Party, he shall also succeed Blair as this country’s next Prime Minister. Both the LibDems and the Tories have called for a general election when Blair goes. Neither believes in it, nor do they try to hide the fact that they don’t really want it either. The LibDems are shuttered, and they need time to pull themselves together. Possibly under a different leader. The Tories are on the rise, but they appear to think that they need more time to rise high enough to beat Labour. And the Scottish Elections results confirm that: Labour is so far ahead that it takes huge advantages in the polls to gain tiny advantages in the number of seats (it’s not just partial PR).

But this is not the point: the other parties call for a general election because they know they ought to; and they ought to because it is undeniably the fairest way of deciding Blair’s successor. The interesting thing is that Brown’s only argument for succeeding Blair without asking the electorate is that it has happened before – it happened with Major, for example. Now, it’s true that, in this country, in the absence of a constitution, past occurrences carry legitimacy. But they can only do so if they were themselves legitimate. In short, if there is any reason for thinking that a general election isn’t necessary. And Brown hasn’t provided any reason aside from the fact that is has happened before.

It could be proposed that the reason is the fact that the present Parliament has been elected to serve a full term, and that therefore, until that term expires, the present Parliament has the authority to elect the new Prime Minister. This is true; but it is also true that the present Parliament has been elected on the understanding the Tony Blair would himself serve a full term. Since that arrangement with the electorate has not been respected, the electorate is now due a general election.

But we aren’t gonna get a general election. And it is disgraceful that Brown is shamelessly campaigning to become Prime Minister. It is only the Labour Party that will have a say – not the country. So Brown should only appeal to the Labour Party, because the country is completely powerless. And here there is another detail of paramount importance: even if one accepted the previous argument about the legitimacy of the present Parliament, and their right, bestowed upon them by the people, to elect the new Prime Minister, it is indeed not the Parliament that will elect the new Prime Minister. It is the Labour Parliamentary Party, the Labour membership, and the unions. The latter two, evidently, don’t share the right that the MPs might have if one accepts the previous argument, which I don’t.

In short, we ain’t gonna get a general election – we’ll live with that even though it ain’t just nor fair. But at least Brown could show some respect for this country’s democratic system by campaigning, only, for the Labour leadership. One final point: it would also be a good way to distance himself from the Blair years if Brown gave the impression, from the outset, that he understood the difference between the Labour Party and this country’s government. They have been one and the same for the last decade, but they are two distinct institutions. And when a party begins to forget that, then it is time for that party to go – opposition is a very good cure for that kind of allucination.

Salmond caught in the net

May 7, 2007

Salmond has had hardly the time to celebrate the greatest moment of his political career and of his party’s history, that trouble kicked off. The most likely coalition deal, SNP+LibDem+Greens, already appears to be off. The Liberals aren’t interested, and understandably so. They took a sore beating, both here in Scotland and down in England. The tendency, in Scotland, appears to be to blame the poor performance on having been in government with Labour for too long. Opposition pays much better in electoral terms, the LibDems seem to have decided – eight years too late. That’s a pretty weak argument, given that the Liberals have possibly done worse in England, where they have always and only been in opposition, than in Scotland. But even if the argument doesn’t stand, they might be right all the same: staying clear of government for the next four years might improve their electoral performance next time around. So the Liberals are out: for now, anyway. Indeed, Salmond might make an offer that they can’t refuse, such as the post of First Minister for Stephen; but that’s unlikely. I tend to think that Salmond prefers a shot at leading himself a minority government rather than letting someone else lead a majority government.

No other option appears feasible: a deal with the Tories would have the same problems, namely the independence referendum, than the one with the LibDems; plus the fact that Tories and SNP are further apart in terms of policy. Cameron would not allow it anyway even if the Scottish Tories were to suddenly grow interested in it. A Grosse Koalition with Labour is even less likely: it would guarantee stability and it would probably allow Salmond, just like Merkel in Germany, to lead the government, because of the higher number of seats. But given the sort of campaign Labour lead in the past weeks and months, that kind of arrangement won’t be forthcoming – not to speak of the fact that obviously Brown cannot show himself to be compromising with the devil, otherwise the task to be re-elected at the next general elections will become just short of impossible.

A minority government is bad news for Scotland; change and reform are already difficult enough for a Parliament elected through PR – even though only partially so. This way, we would be in for a four-year-term that would do not much more than prove right those that opposed an independent Holyrood Parliament in the first place as a waste of money and time. With the added drawback that not only things wouldn’t be decided in Scotland, but they would not be decided at all – because now they are the responsibility of Holyrood. So a deal is in the interest of Scotland. But a country’s interests can move politicians to a compromise only when they match their own.

scottish elections: predictions vs results

May 5, 2007

These were my predictions for Holyrood:

SNP 44, Labour 41, LibDem 21, Tories 18, Greens 2, SSP 1, Sheridan + independent

These are the results:

SNP 47, Labour 46, Tories 17, LibDem 16, Greens 2 + independent

I had predicted a narrow SNP victory, but it was even narrower: indeed, Cunninghame North’s 48 votes did it. I had predicted a squeeze for the smaller parties, but it was worse than I thought: no socialists at all. Also, the squeeze has affected LibDems and Tories too, which I wasn’t expecting. Overall, I got the general picture, missing on the details (but getting some, like the two seats for the Greens, or the single independent).

P.S. I couldn’t vote for Tommy Sheridan because of his outrageous support for Hezbollah, but I must say it’s a shame that someone like him is out of Holyrood.

scottish elections predictions

May 2, 2007

Here’s my prediction for tomorrow’s elections (won’t send it to the bbc – the prize is horrific):

SNP 44, Labour 41, LibDems 21, Tories 18, Greens 2, SSP 1, + Sheridan and an independent.

I’ll probably be voting Labour’s Sarah Boyack in the constituency vote and the Greens for the regional list (I know, boooooring).

LibDems are out in Edinburgh Central

April 26, 2007

Well done to McGellie for catching the LibDems faking data on their electoral adverts for Edinburgh Central. I already couldn’t vote for Tory and SNP; now I can’t vote LibDem either… guess who’s left? Good old labour… so Sarah Boyack is probably gonna get my vote by default.

Which reminds me: SSP, Green, and Solidarity not having candidates for the Constituency vote is a huge favour to Labour – remember that next time they slag off Tony Blair or McConnell.

Scottish Elections: last seven polls averaged out

April 7, 2007

I have averaged out the last seven opinion polls for the upcoming Holyrood Elections. Here’s the result:

Constituency: SNP 35.42%, Labour 30.14%, Tory 14.28%, LibDem 12.57%

Regional: SNP 33.57%, Labour 28.57%, Tory 14%, LibDem 11.85%

MSPs: SNP 47, Labour 43, Tory 18, LibDem 15

The seven polls:

28.3.07, Populus

29.3.07, Scottih Opinion (data here)

30.3.07, YouGov

1.4.07, TNS System Three (data here)

2.4.07, YouGov (commissioned by SNP, data here, MPSs count mine)

3.4.07, ICM (data here)

6.4.07, mruk (data here)

The unspeakable case for nuclear deterrence

March 14, 2007

The only argument for nuclear deterrence that could be heard today in the Commons, from both New Labour and the Conservatives, was that the world’s future cannot be predicted; and that, in the absence of safe predictions over future threats, we must keep our nuclear weapons, just in case. This is, by the way, an admission that nuclear weapons, today, are not doing any deterrence. And it is, therefore, an admission that, today, nuclear weapons are not deterring North Korea, for example.

Now, not only this is a bad argument; this, actually, is no argument at all. Because it does not point to anything as the justification of nuclear deterrence. To justify nuclear deterrence, as to justify anything, we must point to something: in this case, we must point to, if not actual, at least possible threats. If there are no possible threats to point to, than there is no justification for nuclear deterrence. But possible threats are not even enough: being attacked from outer space is a possible threat, but in the absence of any reasons for thinking that this might actually happen, this possible threat does not constitute a justification for nuclear deterrence (if the government does indeed think that this is a reason to keep Trident, let us hear it).

So whoever cares to justify nuclear deterrence, must point to reasons for thinking that those threats might materialize. Unfortunately the government is not in the position to name any possible future threat that we have reason to think might materialize; because that would unsettle its international relations. The government, for example, cannot mention any reasons for thinking that, 50 years down the line, China might turn nasty. So, in short, the government is not in a position to justify nuclear deterrence. Make of it what you like: it might be that the government must have the right, in the interest of its people, not to make necessary claims that would, though, unsettle its relations with the international community. Or it might be that, in the absence of a public justification to Parliament of nuclear deterrence, the government is asking the Commons to vote on an unjustified motion – and that Parliament should never vote for an unjustified motion.

But the Conservatives, which are using the same arguments as the government, are not in that delicate position. The Conservatives can, therefore, name their reasons; they therefore ought to: let us hear them!

UPDATE: MPs voted to renew Trident, 409 to 161, majority 248. According to The Guardian, around 85 Labour MPs voted against the Government.

The New Guardian

March 12, 2007

I have always found it stunning how The Guardian pretends to be this huge critic of the New Labour government while at the same time, when it really matters, like near elections, it always knows where to stand (and stands there unashamedly): with New Labour. You can also consistently find this tendency in articles that attack the Tory, like last week’s piece (by Jackie Ashley) on family values. I was surprised (but really reassured) to find Ashley falling wholeheartedly for the kind of New Labour rhetoric and propaganda from which The Guardian would, and should, supposedly, pride itself to be immune:

The real problem is a small proportion of deeply disadvantaged, poor, unambitious, badly educated people whose lives are falling apart before they have even begun.

Now what’s really surprising about this is not even that Ashley is blaming the poor for being poor; but that she buys into the idea that this is a “small proportion” of the population. Sure enough, Blair‘s legacy has largely depended on having enlisted lots of people to the ranks of the middle classes; but that maneuver depended on isolating, possibly even for good, a part of society, that Ashley seems to think it’s “small”. Not even the B. man himself would dare to say that. But I guess Ashley never sees them, the “small” people. And that’s the other truth about The Guardian and socialists in general: you can try to stand for folk to which you don’t belong, but it won’t last – and, more importantly, it will always end up in tears; ask History.

So one goes through thousands of annoying, badly argued, bias, unsurprising Guardian‘s articles, to find, in the end, that they can’t come up with anything better than New Labour‘s own vision for Britain – and at least Blair‘s speech-writers can sugar-cover it quite nicely.

p.s. thanks to Dave On Fire for the funky quotation tip.

“steal our benefits”

March 7, 2007

New Labour has long adopted conservative policies. Now they have embraced conservative language too (and one that even Dave C would probably avoid):

It is unfair that foreigners come to this country illegitimately and steal our benefits, steal our services like the NHS and undermine the minimum wage by working. (*) (it’s him speaking, needless to say)

sinking Brown

February 20, 2007

New ICM poll (specifying the party leader’s name):

Tory (Cameron): 42% (40% without mention of the leader’s name)

Labour (Brown): 29% (31%)

LibDem (Campbell): 17% (19%)

So Brown is 13 points behind Cameron; furthermore, his presence appears to worsen Labour’s performance (are they keeping from us the poll with Blair’s name instead of Brown’s?). How low does that number need to get before Labour starts reconsidering their options? 25%? 20%?