Saturday, 8 May 2010

Well, I wasn't going to blog about the election but it's been so interesting, and I've been thinking about it far too much for my own good. Plus my Facebook status updates were getting longer and longer... so here it is.

Interesting times - first hung parliament since I was a teen. Good. Labour did not deserve to win again after their record in power. Iraq mainly, but also so many things to chose from... mainly, for me, from turning themselves into Tory-lite, cozying up to the markets, the "faith" pressure groups and worshipping power and empire at its most naked in the GWBush adventures.

Unmitigated Toryness would be a disaster to all but the super-rich and the financial markets -as usual. The fact that they've got a smooth and emollient PR man at the head doesn't mean they have changed, expecially when you get... well, I was going to say "get below the surface", but Chris Grayling, the man who believes it's OK to discriminate against people, is shadow Home Secretary, which is hardly subterranean. Home Sec. is the third most important government minister.

The Lib Dems deserve some recognition of the fact that so many people in the country actually support them and their policies. It will be interesting to see how it pans out and will require negotiation and compromise - rather alien to the British tradition which is usually more adversarial and either/or.

Electoral reform may be on the cards now, at last, though that will be a tough one for the Tories, as they had specifically ruled it out. Right out. Right up until the morning after the election when they realised they'd have to offer some kind of sweetener to the Lib Dems to let them take power. So they've promised an all-party committee to bury it, I mean look into it. Classic political delaying tactic, given that there is likely to be a second election within a year. I hope Clegg has more sense than to accept.

Lib Dems also want to end Trident, a hugely expensive piece of junk which enables us to destroy Moscow if we really want to. Why we should want to, and why we should carry on with this vanity project left over from the Cold War is something nobody seems able to explain, but both Labour and the Conservatives have said we MUST keep it, because... er... we must.

Historically, Labour was against Trident, and only swung over to pointless militarism as part of the NuLabour project, which has done us so well in the last 13 years. It did get Labour into power, though and cast off the spectre of the mid 80s when they campaigned on a disarmament ticket, were slated as tools of Moscow and thrashed at the polls (though a majority of the voters voted against the party that won - more arguments for electoral reform, of course). But the Conservatives are generally the more military party.

And the Lib Dems want closer ties with Europe, which is a deep rift among the Conservatives still.

Tricky then for the Cons to work with Lib Dems, though as Cameron really really really wants to be PM and as his leadership style is extremely "kitchen cabinet" and centralised, he may manage to force his backwoodsmen and women to accept a deal, at least for the moment. He has a following wind in terms of media support, for now, and could possibly manage by offering deals and then blaming the Lib Dems if they fall through.

Tricky also for the Lib Dems to work with Labour, though they are in many ways more naturally allied. Labour promised electoral reform in 1997 (though forgot about it when they won a landslide under the winner-takes-all system), for instance. But Labour is very grubby and shopsoiled now, and Brown is no asset. Lib Dems might well lose popularity if they seem to be shoring up a government that the country thinks is well past its sell-by date.

So, yes, very interesting. A goodish result, I think, (and the first Green MP elected, hurrah!) but the exciting thing is what comes next.

Standby for a power struggle within Labour coming shortly, and before that, look out for what Clegg does next...


Robin said...

Thanks for the overview on your thoughts about the UK election. In Australia we had seen the Brown gaffe where he called a woman a bigot for asking what I thought was a reasonable question.

We have similar problems in Australia. Eighty percent of the electorate doesn't want mass immigration and refugees rolling in, but governments won't listen. It seems as if they have an agreement with someone overseas to fill the place with immigrants, many of whom are muslims. Hardly a recipe for a happy, safe Australia.

At this late stage I've become militant about these things and am consolidating my writing efforts to a new blog called Before I sleep at which will take over from my ramblings on various other fora.

Look forward to reading more.

Sarah said...

Thanks for the comment Robin. I don't know whether you saw the film of the encounter, but Gordon first answered her questions about Eastern Europeans quite reasonably and accurately, that the numbers coming in are more than matched by the numbers leaving for European destinations. This would have been fair enough - he can't, for example, say "well if they're from the EU, no government has the power to stop them" (which would also be true) or get into the wider issues of whose interests they are serving (recruited overseas as cheap labour by companies that don't want to pay British rates of pay and National Insurance).
It's often framed as "doing jobs Brits don't want to do" but more often the reality is "doing jobs we don't want to pay a decent wage for."
Unfortunately Brown couldn't leave it at that and he didn't have the sense to check his mike before blowing off steam.
Truly he is what Charlie Brooker called him, "a haunted grandfather clock of a Prime Minister".

Robin said...

It may have been selective recording. I never heard the first parts. It's a similar problem we have; we pay people to sit on their bums and then bring in people willing to work. They do get the same pay, it's more that their work ethic is much better than some of the home grown.

ELAC1 said...

Yes I see that Robin - I teach lots of immigrants who are working so hard in different areas- and trying to perfect their English in evenings after a long day at work on 2 and a half hours lessons per week - whilst next door during the day in the literacy class are the unmarried mums who get to come in every day in order to qualify for their social security handouts. The work ethic thing is so tangible to me...The worst thing is when you have a student like Sarbaz (19 year old Iraqi Kurd whose father was murdered by Saddam Hussein and whose brother was blown up by a roadside bomb and who hasnt been able to make contact with his mum and sisters for over a year)in my class who is desperate to work and isnt allowed to until his paperwork comes through- such a cruel thing to force people into inactivity.

Robin said...

ELAC1 - I could never understand how the government expects people to survive without working. It's a sure path to crime through necessity for some people. Another paralysis of Australian Government thinking.

Thanks for commenting.

Sarah said...

Same kind of madness reigns in the UK and it's just got worse. The government rushed through a very ill-conceived law in the last days of parliament which would prevent anyone coming in as a student unless their level of English is quite high... which means that practically the entire English Language Teaching industry, worth millions of pounds a year, is dead. Obviously students coming in to learn English will be prevented from doing so, as their reason for coming is that their English is not so high. They put a huge amount of money into the economy (not only to the schools, but also the host families, restaurants, entertainment, shopping, traveling about, etc) but because there have been a few "visa mill" schools (which can be easily dealt with by enforcing the laws we already have) the whole industry is doomed... and I can probably never find work in the UK again....Sigh! I don't know why the law was drafted so badly... haste I think, as they did not consult, plus a desire to appeal to bigots (we have many) who just want a headline "government tough measures on foreigners coming in."

Robin said...

The law of unforseen consequences that could have been avoided if only someone had discussed it with people in the know.

We had a crisis here where training organisations were apparently ripping off students by telling them they could get a permanent residence visa if they did their courses. Of course they can, but it's not guaranteed. It's hurt the international schools industry very hard. That and some violence against Indian students hasn't helped.

Sometimes we are just too stupid for words.

Sarah said...

Not unforseen consequences actually, just unforseen by the people drafting and passing the laws. The EFL industry of course was up in arms, as they know something about it.
The new parliamentary intake has the lowest number of doctors, teachers and people who have ever had a job outside politics and the highest number of management consultants ever, I read... we're all doomed!