As you may know, there’s an election going to be held on the 7th of May and essentially the campaigning has already started. I would start by noting that this is why I’d argue we should get rid of fixed term parliaments, as such a policy means we get an extended election campaign and the sort of BS we have to normally put up with for one month is drawn out over a tortuous six months.
Instead, 8 weeks before an election needs to be called, give the queen a 6 sided dice have her roll it, if it rolls a one, then the election is held a month after that date. Next week, she does the same again, and if a 1 or a 2 is rolled, the election is in a month’s time, or so on. It would solve so many problems.
I’ve been watching the punch and judy politics of the election debate….debate with some amusement, but now its starting to raise a lot of worrying questions about David Cameron’s credibility as a leader.
It would seem that David Cameron is afraid to debate Ed Miliband. Seriously? And if he’s made PM for a further term how does he propose to stare down Putin or Merkel if he’s terrified of a Wallace and Gromit lookalike…or an Enoch Powell tribute act, how does he propose to be the country’s leader?
The tories have been rolling out the usual excuses, we’re a multi-party system now, everyone should participate in a debate. Well the Tories do realise that the key hallmark of a multiparty system is proportional representation, something they have long opposed for fear it would dilute their vote. It is entirely hypocritical of them to whinge about the DUP or the Greens being part of a debate, when they are denying both these parties any chance of getting a sizeable number of seats.
The Tories have also been having a go at the broadcasters, claiming that they are all lefties biased against them (no doubt part of an effort to bully the BBC, who are vulnerable given that the license fee is up for discussion in the next parliment). Ya Sky News, the UK version of Fox owned by Rupert Murdoch, who will host the head to head debate between Cameron and Miliband is well known for its left wing bias! ;D
The reality is that the broadcasters are trying NOT to get involved in the politics. The debates are a result of agreement between broadcasters and the major parties. The format is what all sides have agreed too…except Cameron.
Indeed this inability to compromise and negotiate, is another dangerous hallmark of the Cameron administration, one that’s gotten him into trouble in the past. Good politics is about compromise and negotiation, you’re not going to get what you want, but if you can meet you’re opponents half way, then everyone leaves the tables with something. Well not if you’re Cameron!
So for example the Tories have gotten tied up in knots in Europe at various times , not because the European’s stonewalled him, but because he’s behaved in a rude and arrogant manner and seemed to be more interested in domestic points scoring than doing a deal that would have resolved many of the underlying issues. Then there was his refusal to allow Devo Max on the ballot paper in Scotland, until forced a week before the referendum to endorse a proposal from Gordon Brown for Devo Max. There’s been his failure to negotiate with public sector workers which has led to strikes. Clearly this posh Bullingdon boy is so used to underlings agreeing with everything he says.
Should the TV channels back down? No! There is talk that for the sake of balance the broadcasters will offer him airtime (The Cameron Show? Bullingdon Nights? The only way is Eaton? :))) to compensate for his refusal to take part in debates. I would argue no, if Cameron shoots himself in the foot and undermines his own election chances, even if I realise most of those votes will wind up going to Farage, tough! He and the Tories made their bed, let them lie in it. Its crucial they learn their lesson here and realise that the world doesn’t revolve around them.
The Tory reasons for avoiding a debate is that its clear they are planning to go negative in campaigning. This will probably be one of the most negative campaigns in UK history. They plan to portray Miliband as somehow dangerous (we’re still talking about the same Miliband, he’s not got another brother whose like a convicted murderer or something?) and can’t eat a bacon roll properly.
Recently they’ve been flagging up the danger of the SNP getting into government as a coalition partner. A party who they claim are committed to destroying the union. Actually the SNP have gone all quiet on the independence thing since September. I would argue that the greatest threat to the union is the Tory/UKIP plans for an EU in/out referendum, which would threaten to trigger a further referendum in Scotland (and possibly in Wales) as well as a border poll in Northern Ireland.
Furthermore, I’d point to the out that the reason why the SNP are riding high in the polls, despite the No vote, is that the majority of Scots feel that, if you tune out whenever the Nats go into one of their Braveheart rants, they have actually done a good job of running Scotland. They’ve balanced the books, without engaging in the crushing austerity we’ve seen down south (we still have free prescription, no tuition fees, no significant council tax increases above inflation, good NHS coverage with none of the scandals seen in England). The massive inequality that’s grown under Cameron down south, hasn’t been replicated in Scotland.
On the whole, judging a government by its record, I’d suggest to someone in England, you’d want to pick the SNP over the Tories any day. I even know some Tory supporters in fact, who’ve moved to Scotland recently (or live here already) who plan to vote SNP, in part because they want to undermine labour, but also because they agree that the SNP have run Scotland a lot better than the Tories government has run England.
The one sticking point in a labour/SNP coalition I can see is that of Trident although the SNP seem to be rowing back on this one. Even then an obvious compromise might be to simply relocate the future subs outside of Scotland, although that would greatly increase the costs of building any new deterrent, given the need to build all the extensive support infrastructure somewhere in England. And given the SNP would never vote to renew Trident, nor approve a budget with Trident in it, even if its based out of England, labour would have to rely on Tory support to get Trident approved. (of course, I’m hoping they’ll fail!).
And speaking of nationalist parties from the regions, its worth remembering that the most likely coalition partners for the Tories are the Ulster Unionists, a set of small ultra-conservative parties. If labour should rule out a coalition with the SNP, why doesn’t Cameron rule out a coalition with the DUP or UKIP?
This of course brings us to the question of the woes of the Scottish labour party. They are loosing ground massively to the SNP. Now I would argue that this is largely a consequence of the labour party failing to learn the lessons of the devolution. They have, as a previous Scottish labour leader put it, treating Scottish labour like a branch office, which has made it impossible for labour to function up north.
For example, quite a number of labour supporters in Scotland either wanted independence or more devolved powers, but the dictate coming down from London was, they had to go and ally themselves with the Tories! :> Hardly a workable strategy, particularly when the last ditch panic led to Devo Max, something they’d been calling for, to be promised anyway. This after some of them had wasted time trying to campaign against it! :no:
Then there’s Trident. Many on the left in Scotland are against this, but Scottish labour is forced to toe the line here due to instructions from down south, even thought its clearly giving the SNP a stick to beat them up with. Similarly, labour is committed to further nuclear reactor building (with generous subsidies) in England, even though the case for them looks a lot less clear cut in Scotland and there’s a lot more opposition.
It is for these reasons that, despite having nothing against Miliband or his party, I’ll not be voting for labour in the next election, but likely either the Greens or possibly the SNP. Until labour tackle this issue, they will continue to haemorrhage votes in Scotland.
Of course we have to tackle the Natalie Bennett’s interview meltdown. The Green party has been growing strongly, claiming more members now than either the
backstabbers lib dems or the BNP-lite UKIP.
However, her fundamental mistake was to actually try to answer the question. No real politician would try to do that. They’d say I’m glad you asked that question, its good that we ask questions, housing is very important to us, as its where we keep our kids and pets….like this puppy, isn’t it adorable and cute, everyone like puppies, don’t they Nick? Are you saying you don’t like puppies?…you want me to put down this puppy? did I hear you right? you think we should kill cute little puppies? My party will never approve of such a policy! :))
Indeed ironically enough, one of the questions she tripped up on was related to housing and this last week both labour and the Tories have come out with outlandish promises on housing, yet they have not received anything like the grilling the Greens took. This isn’t so much media bias, just that the media know that if they do challenge the main parties on these issues they won’t get a straight answer, just a long stream of BS that a committee of special advisers dreamt up while on an all night drinking binge.
So perhaps the dilemma for the Greens is do they want to become a party like all the rest or not?