Sunday, April 18, 2010

Layer 284 . . . Rising Hopes for a New Politics, the Clegg Ascendancy, Good Riddance To New Labour, Greens Turning Sharp Left, and Bank Crime

This is from today's Observer - "My Vote . . . by Katharine Whitehorn":

"I voted Labour in 1997 - at least, that's what I thought I was doing. I didn't know then that Tony Blair was on record as saying he'd have been a Conservative, except it took too long to get to the top; nor that he shared with the Right a touching fundamentalist belief in the efficacy of the market; nor that no notice whatever would be taken of our marching against war in Iraq. I'll vote Lib Dem this time for several reasons. Vince Cable seems more sensible about the economy than most and Nick Clegg wowed us all on TV; but more to the point , I want a hung parliament. Then laws will actually have to be passed because parliament has so decided, not because they seemed a good idea on the sofa in 10 Downing Street. And I can't wait to see - I can dream, can't I? - a withering of the lunatic Whitehall mini-management of targets and box-ticking that has driven so many honest and competent professionals to desperation."


Now where was I? . . . Oh yes - the Tories entering shit creek, and the rise of the Lib Dems.

Martin Kettle started his column yesterday with this:

The  Sun/You Gov poll on Saturday morning is the first proper national post-debate opinion poll. Its results are absolutely explosive. It shows the Conservatives on 33% (down 4% from the last YouGov), the Liberal Democrats on 30% (up 8%) and Labour on 28% (down 3%).

Whereas Oxzen had predicted last Thursday - just before The Debate (Part 1) -

So mark my words - by the time this election takes place the Lib Dem share of the vote will have gone up by around 5% and the Greens by 3%, with the Tories down by 8% on current projections. What's more, the Lib Dems started the last campaign at around 18% and put on 6 percentage points, whereas this time they're starting from 24%.

So - sorry about that folks. A slight miscalculation. I'd assumed the Tories were on 39 or 40% and would come down 8% to 31 or 32%. Pretty accurate with the Lib Dems and their 30% though.

What's more, the Greens haven't really got going, yet, and there may be even more to come from the Lib Dems, since Clegg seems to have made an even better impression than I'd imagined.

What's even more, a ComRes poll for the Independent on Sunday and Sunday Mirror today puts the Tories on only 31%, with the Lib Dems on 29% and Labour on 27%.

At this rate and under first past the post the Lib Dems could end up with more than 100 seats, with Labour getting just over 250 seats and the Tories just under 250. Which means that the Lib Dems would easily hold the balance of power in a hung parliament. Excellent.

[Under a proper system of proportional representation Labour ought to get, on the current projections, around 182 seats, and the Tories around 215. No matter - if New Old Labour, the Lib Dems and the Greens worked together for progressive policies then the Tories would never again get even a sniff of power or influence.]

The Tory party would then go back into civil war mode, and probably split, with the Cameroons on one side and The Nasty Party on the other, each of them fighting for the right to leadership and direction as Progressive Conservatives versus Traditional and True Conservatives.

Labour, of course, will need to have its own internal revolution, as Mandelson, Brown and the rest of the gang fight to stay in control, and their opponents let rip with as much aggression and determination to get rid of them as they can muster.


On the back page of this week's London Review of Books, and on the back page of the Guardian's "Review" section in yesterday's paper, is an excellent advertisement for the New Left Review. In it they simply quote several passages from their archives, including this from Ralph Miliband, written in 1960 [yes - the father of David & Ed] -

The last election has shocked many more people into a recognition that the Labour Party is a sick party . . . Neither on issues of home affairs, nor in relation to Nato and foreign affairs generally, have the Labour leaders appeared as a clear alternative to the Tories. The reason for this is not that they were unable - somehow - to put over their case. The reason is that they were not such an alternative.

There's also a quotation from the current edition of the review, in an article by Tony Wood called Good Riddance To New Labour -

The clinching argument against New Labour is one of simple democratic principle. Any government with a record as appalling as this one's deserves to be punished at the polls., if accountability to the voting public is to have any meaning. The specifics of Labour's years in power - one murderous war after another; slavish devotion to finance; promotion of rampant inequality; repeated assaults on civil liberties; fragmentation and privatisation of public services; endemic corruption - make plain that they fully merit being turfed out of office. Good riddance; this execrable government deserves to go.

Read the entire article here -


This is in today's Observer:

Greens turn sharp left

The Greens are Britain's new, and only, leftwing party. If you don't believe me, read their manifesto

by Mary Fitzgerald

While Nick Clegg's performance in the first leadership debate has suddenly made the Lab-Con stranglehold on power look weaker, one of the most dramatic political developments of a generation has gone relatively unnoticed.

With their new manifesto, the Greens have transformed themselves from a single-issue outfit into Britain's new – and only – leftwing party. They have pledged soak-the-rich tax hikes, aimed at radically redistributing Britain's wealth and delivering social justice for all.

They will use some £112bn in new taxes by 2013 to fund higher minimum wages and pensions, free home insulation, free social care for the elderly, big tax breaks for people on lower incomes, as well as the expected huge investment in transport.

It's short-sighted not to see the wider significance of this shift. It's true that our first-past-the post system means the Green manifesto is of almost no relevance to the outcome on 6 May. But think ahead to the local elections.

The Green party is positioning itself, politically, as a radical alternative to the near-identical policy platforms trotted out this Thursday on ITV. The Greens are now aiming their message not just at the growing numbers who care about the environment, but those concerned about social justice as well.

Given the extent to which New Labour has moved to the centre, this will hold powerful sway among disenchanted one-time Labour voters, as well as with more radical left-wingers (note that Beatrix Campbell, a former Communist, is standing as a Green candidate in Hampstead and Kilburn). Meanwhile, taxes on airplanes and the other environmentally-focused policies appeal across the political spectrum: climate change, in Britain at least, is not exclusively a concern of leftist voters.


Andrew Rawnsley writes this today:

Nick Clegg's victory in the televised debate presents both his complacent rivals with some serious dilemmas

David Cameron's strategists are already arguing among themselves about how aggressively they should "take the fight" to Nick Clegg. For most of David Cameron's leadership, his approach has been to try to hug the Lib Dems to death. The Lib Dem leader disdained the Tory's attempts to love bomb him during the first debate. Influential voices around David Cameron are telling him to forget any more loving and concentrate on bombing. Their visceral instinct is to go for the Lib Dems as wet on crime, reckless on defence, soft on immigration and in love with Europe.

The risk for the Tories is that this lures David Cameron back on to Michael Howard territory and will look like a lurch to the right which is repulsive to the liberal, centrist voters that he needs. Michael Gove has already experimented with one line of attack by patronising the Lib Dems as "outside the mainstream and a little bit eccentric". The trouble for both the Tories and Labour is that being "outside the mainstream" does not look the least bit "eccentric" to the many voters distrustful of and disillusioned with the old duopoly. It looks jolly attractive.


A new politics is up for grabs

If you want a "well" hung parliament, your strategy should be very simple indeed: vote Lib Dem. Not only will that guarantee a Lib Dem bloc in parliament holding the balance of power, it will discredit the electoral system itself. Worst case scenario: a truly phenomenal number of people end up voting a Lib Dem government into office which will have a clear mandate to introduce proportional representation, Lords reform, stronger local government, more direct democracy and, in effect, give its own power away. So not much of a risk at all then.

What is needed at this stage is not nuanced psephological arguments but a clear, disruptive, brutal message: vote Liberal Democrat and change the system.

When my computer starts doing odd things, I don't spend hours faffing about trying to debug the operating system. I hit the reset button. When my phone jams, I hit the reset button.

Courtesy of Nick Clegg's phenomenal performance this week, a vote for the Liberal Democrats has just become the equivalent of a bloody great big reset button. You can either press that button on 6 May or sit there in your respective comfort zones complaining about nobody has any real power to change things. It really is up to you now.

Finally, we're getting around to examining the operations of the big banks as actual fraud, and not just incompetence and stupidity:

Now we know the truth. The financial meltdown wasn't a mistake – it was a con

Hiding behind the complexities of our financial system, banks and other institutions are being accused of fraud and deception, with Goldman Sachs just the latest in the spotlight. This has become the most pressing election issue of all

by Will Hutton

The global financial crisis, it is now clear, was caused not just by the bankers' colossal mismanagement. No, it was due also to the new financial complexity offering up the opportunity for widespread, systemic fraud. Friday's announcement that the world's most famous investment bank, Goldman Sachs, is to face civil charges for fraud brought by the American regulator is but the latest of a series of investigations that have been launched, arrests made and charges made against financial institutions around the world. Big Finance in the 21st century turns out to have been Big Fraud. Yet Britain, centre of the world financial system, has not yet levelled charges against any bank . . . We have to live with the fiction that our banks and bankers are whiter than white, and any attempt to investigate them and their institutions will lead to a mass exodus to the mountains of Switzerland. The politicians of the Labour and Tory party alike are Bambis amid the wolves.

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