Author Topic: What's wrong with British politics  (Read 13574 times)

Alasdair5000

  • Editor
  • *****
  • Posts: 1022
    • My blog
What's wrong with British politics
« on: January 18, 2008, 05:27:51 AM »
Politics. I used to be very far to the right wing.

I've changed my mind politically as well.  I used to believe that it mattered who I voted for, or if I voted at all.

If you don't vote, you have no right to do anything other than sit there and be quiet.  If you want to stand up and bitch, you have to at the very least cast your ballot.

   stePH, I absolutely see your point.  English politics which skews SO far to the right now it's nearly funny instead of just plain tragic has, for most of my life, been both functionally a single party system and a choice not so much of who to vote for but who you dispise more to vote against.

   That being said, I'm with Russell on this one.  The only tool any of us have to change things is our voice, or in this case, our vote and if enough of us vote in the same way then change (Even if it's just giving the other shower of bastards their turn) is inevitable and in a lot of cases, desperately needed.

   And to answer the original question, politics is mine too.  I grew up in an England being run by Margaret Thatcher, a woman whose monumental sociopathy led to, amongst other things, the functional destruction of the National Health Service, the dismantling and rebuilding of the teaching system (Which continues to this day), the privatisation of the rail networks, Scotland being used as a petri dish for taxation and health issues and institutionalised corruption of a level which staggers me to this day.  Oh and the Poll Tax, a tax so astoundingly unfair it led to one of the largest protests in the last fifty years. 

   My dad's a teacher.  My mum's a nurse.  I watched both of them get progressively more buried under bureaucracy, constant changes and openly aggressive attacks on their competency.  I spent my last five years at school, amongst other things, wondering whether my Dad would have a nervous breakdown or a full on heart attack before he could take early retirement.  This is a black and white issue for me, Thatcher, and Conservatism is someone and some thing I defined myself against.    One of my happiest memories at University, no lie, is sitting up till 2am on election night, listening to my house mate roar with laughter as Tory MP after Tory MP lost their seat.  It couldn't have happened to a nicer group of people.

   But at their worst, their ABSOLUTE worst, the Conservatives didn't take away habeas corpus.  The Conservatives didn't instigate a National ID card scheme which will cost billions, takes years to implement, is unlawful and is based on technology which, at best, is shaky and at worst is broken.  Throw in Iraq, feeding Dr David Kelly to the wolves, the open assault on journalistic freedom and the fact that the Labour government have in the last few months managed to lose the tax, bank account and postal details of every single family claiming family benefit in this country as well as outsource 3 million Provisional Driver's details to Iowa and lose them and I've drawn the only conclusion I could draw.

They're actually slightly worse than Thatcher-era Conservatives.  And that's not a conclusion I come to lightly.

   So, next election I find myself with a fun choice.  The Liberal Democrats, our third party, are a joke, the Greens are a minority and everyone else is either a decades old joke in search of a punch line (The UK Independence Party whose slogan may as well be WOMEN! KNOW YOUR LIMITS!) or outright racists and fascists who lack the moral character to admit that's what they actually are (The British National Party).

   So...my only option is the Conservatives.  I'm going to vote for the party that made my parents' lives hell, that almost destroyed English society, because they're the best option. 

   That's what I've changed my mind about.  Although I'd be lying if I said I was happy about it.

   

Simon

  • Peltast
  • ***
  • Posts: 117
What's wrong with British politics
« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2008, 06:41:28 AM »

   stePH, I absolutely see your point.  English politics which skews SO far to the right now it's nearly funny instead of just plain tragic has, for most of my life, been both functionally a single party system and a choice not so much of who to vote for but who you dispise more to vote against.

   That being said, I'm with Russell on this one.  The only tool any of us have to change things is our voice, or in this case, our vote and if enough of us vote in the same way then change (Even if it's just giving the other shower of bastards their turn) is inevitable and in a lot of cases, desperately needed.

   And to answer the original question, politics is mine too.  I grew up in an England being run by Margaret Thatcher, a woman whose monumental sociopathy led to, amongst other things, the functional destruction of the National Health Service, the dismantling and rebuilding of the teaching system (Which continues to this day), the privatisation of the rail networks, Scotland being used as a petri dish for taxation and health issues and institutionalised corruption of a level which staggers me to this day.  Oh and the Poll Tax, a tax so astoundingly unfair it led to one of the largest protests in the last fifty years. 

   My dad's a teacher.  My mum's a nurse.  I watched both of them get progressively more buried under bureaucracy, constant changes and openly aggressive attacks on their competency.  I spent my last five years at school, amongst other things, wondering whether my Dad would have a nervous breakdown or a full on heart attack before he could take early retirement.  This is a black and white issue for me, Thatcher, and Conservatism is someone and some thing I defined myself against.    One of my happiest memories at University, no lie, is sitting up till 2am on election night, listening to my house mate roar with laughter as Tory MP after Tory MP lost their seat.  It couldn't have happened to a nicer group of people.

   But at their worst, their ABSOLUTE worst, the Conservatives didn't take away habeas corpus.  The Conservatives didn't instigate a National ID card scheme which will cost billions, takes years to implement, is unlawful and is based on technology which, at best, is shaky and at worst is broken.  Throw in Iraq, feeding Dr David Kelly to the wolves, the open assault on journalistic freedom and the fact that the Labour government have in the last few months managed to lose the tax, bank account and postal details of every single family claiming family benefit in this country as well as outsource 3 million Provisional Driver's details to Iowa and lose them and I've drawn the only conclusion I could draw.

They're actually slightly worse than Thatcher-era Conservatives.  And that's not a conclusion I come to lightly.

   So, next election I find myself with a fun choice.  The Liberal Democrats, our third party, are a joke, the Greens are a minority and everyone else is either a decades old joke in search of a punch line (The UK Independence Party whose slogan may as well be WOMEN! KNOW YOUR LIMITS!) or outright racists and fascists who lack the moral character to admit that's what they actually are (The British National Party).

   So...my only option is the Conservatives.  I'm going to vote for the party that made my parents' lives hell, that almost destroyed English society, because they're the best option. 

   That's what I've changed my mind about.  Although I'd be lying if I said I was happy about it.
   

Woh, That's quite a long diversion you threw up there Alasdair...  So, I'll respond in type and wait for a mod to cut us off and throw us out...

I sympathise, I really do...  After the Blair years, the nation was in desperate need of a moment of collective catharsis - exactly what the US primaries are releasing into the American body politic, and what 1997 gave us after Major.  What we got, was the handover...  The vile snake left Downing Street, the big beasts were retired (Prescott, Blunkett, Blears, Clarke, Reid) and we got a slightly different edition of the Labour government.  Similar names and faces, slightly different tone.

Your charge sheet is a pretty solid one too...I've tried to stand up and be counted against the ID cards scheme, raged a blue fit against Habeus Corpus and Double Jeopardy, and the war is... well...The War.

But for me, personally, I see this as a new government... The Brown Administration is a tangibly different beast, and while Blair personally had a knee-jerk-illiberalism born of his legal training that led him to systematically undermine our justice system, I've yet to see anything more than a slightly malevolent pragmatism from the current incumbent.  I don't think there are any ground at all for blaming the current regime for the illiberalism in the legal system of the last one (after all, Jack Straw is the only former Home Secretary who has a place in the current government), when that attitude came firmly from the head of the snake, not its tail.  But then, we could argue these issues all night - what it comes down to is instinct.

The Brown government has lost the support of the middle classes in the South, and specifically it has lost any support from the media...  You can almost feel the gears turning as Britain returns to it's old system of class-party-region-media factionalism.  Under Blair the divide was firmly urban versus rural... Blair was the leader of the urban classes, the Tories were the old shires.  Under Brown this has shifted, as Cameron takes back the urban elite and Britain re-polarises to South V North, the elite schools climb back up to the forefront of importance.  The financial vested interests that have infested the south of England since the enclosures of the 17th century are waiting to take the country to the cleaners yet again, divvying up tax cuts between them as they fuck up our relationship with Europe, hand us a divorce from our northern neighbour, and get into bed with any tin pot dictator who wants to hand BAE a pile of cash.

And so, I'll say it simply, deep in my guts, I feel the way Nye Bevan felt:
"No amount of cajolery, and no attempts at ethical or social seduction, can eradicate from my heart a deep burning hatred for the Tory Party. So far as I am concerned they are lower than vermin." - Aneurin Bevan

Three and a half further years of government with Osborne as Chancellor, and Redwood back on the front line throwing rocks at Brussels, is far too scary to risk for 6 months of cathartic "change".  I used to hope that one day we could get a decent Lib Dem semi-government via a hung parliament, and through them we'd finally fix the constitution in a less partisan way than either of the two main parties would be willing to countenance.  But at the moment the risk of an overall majority to the Tories is looking too great.

And it is for this reason, after 4 elections of uniformly voting for the Liberal Democrat candidate on my poll sheet, I'm probably going to find myself biting my tongue and voting Labour at the next election.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2008, 06:55:25 AM by Simon »

Russell Nash

  • Guest
What's wrong with British politics
« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2008, 06:46:43 AM »
Woh, That's quite a long diversion you threw up there Alasdair...  So, I'll respond in type and wait for a mod to cut us off and throw us out...

If this conversation gets a little traction, I'll just split it off.  Always feel free to comment on what folks say.

I actually like the inside veiw of British politics.  Inside meaning British as opposed to American.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2008, 06:51:31 AM by Russell Nash »

Alasdair5000

  • Editor
  • *****
  • Posts: 1022
    • My blog
What's wrong with British politics
« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2008, 11:43:01 AM »

Simon:  Woh, That's quite a long diversion you threw up there Alasdair...  So, I'll respond in type and wait for a mod to cut us off and throw us out...


Cool:)

Simon:  I sympathise, I really do...  After the Blair years, the nation was in desperate need of a moment of collective catharsis - exactly what the US primaries are releasing into the American body politic, and what 1997 gave us after Major.  What we got, was the handover...  The vile snake left Downing Street, the big beasts were retired (Prescott, Blunkett, Blears, Clarke, Reid) and we got a slightly different edition of the Labour government.  Similar names and faces, slightly different tone.

   Yeah, the old Who lyric 'Meet the new boss, same as the old boss' springs to mind.

Simon:  Your charge sheet is a pretty solid one too...I've tried to stand up and be counted against the ID cards scheme, raged a blue fit against Habeus Corpus and Double Jeopardy, and the war is... well...The War.

Simon:  But for me, personally, I see this as a new government... The Brown Administration is a tangibly different beast, and while Blair personally had a knee-jerk-illiberalism born of his legal training that led him to systematically undermine our justice system, I've yet to see anything more than a slightly malevolent pragmatism from the current incumbent.  I don't think there are any ground at all for blaming the current regime for the illiberalism in the legal system of the last one (after all, Jack Straw is the only former Home Secretary who has a place in the current government), when that attitude came firmly from the head of the snake, not its tail.  But then, we could argue these issues all night - what it comes down to is instinct.


   That's a very good point, and I won't lie to you, for the first few weeks I felt the same way.  That being said, the presence of Jack Straw (A man SO DESPERATE to be Colin Powell in the run up to the war by the way, that there is footage, my HAND TO GOD, of Powell coughing and Straw taking a drink of water directly behind him.) doesn't bode well. 

At all.  Ever. 

   On the other hand, Jacqui Smith actually seems to be the first Home Secretary we've had in a while who isn't

A)Certifiable
B)just to the right of Ghengis Kahn

or

C)Both of the above.


Simon:  The Brown government has lost the support of the middle classes in the South, and specifically it has lost any support from the media...  You can almost feel the gears turning as Britain returns to it's old system of class-party-region-media factionalism.  Under Blair the divide was firmly urban versus rural... Blair was the leader of the urban classes, the Tories were the old shires.  Under Brown this has shifted, as Cameron takes back the urban elite and Britain re-polarises to South V North, the elite schools climb back up to the forefront of importance.  The financial vested interests that have infested the south of England since the enclosures of the 17th century are waiting to take the country to the cleaners yet again, divvying up tax cuts between them as they fuck up our relationship with Europe, hand us a divorce from our northern neighbour, and get into bed with any tin pot dictator who wants to hand BAE a pile of cash.


   I do think there's a strong case for saying that Brown's being judged for Blair's crimes and frankly, there's a case for that being justified.  The man wanted the big chair for years and had ample opportunity if not the courage, to oust Blair on several occasions.  Also, the Phantom Election is going to one of the things he never gets out from under.
   Although you're absolutely right, the North/South divide in particular is back in huge effect.  Not so much as some groups, such as the BNP, would have us believe but it is there.


Simon:  And so, I'll say it simply, deep in my guts, I feel the way Nye Bevan felt:
"No amount of cajolery, and no attempts at ethical or social seduction, can eradicate from my heart a deep burning hatred for the Tory Party. So far as I am concerned they are lower than vermin." - Aneurin Bevan


   Never read that before, thanks for pointing me at it.  I see his point.

Simon:  Three and a half further years of government with Osborne as Chancellor, and Redwood back on the front line throwing rocks at Brussels, is far too scary to risk for 6 months of cathartic "change".  I used to hope that one day we could get a decent Lib Dem semi-government via a hung parliament, and through them we'd finally fix the constitution in a less partisan way than either of the two main parties would be willing to countenance.  But at the moment the risk of an overall majority to the Tories is looking too great.

Jesus they've let John Redwood out of his cage?  That bodes ill.

Simon:  And it is for this reason, after 4 elections of uniformly voting for the Liberal Democrat candidate on my poll sheet, I'm probably going to find myself biting my tongue and voting Labour at the next election.


   I sympathise and for the record, you've given me some stuff to chew on.  Comes to something doesn't it, when your vote is decided on who you're least scared of?

And I totally agree, a Labour Liberal Democrat hung Parliament would have been the best possible outcome for us. 
« Last Edit: January 18, 2008, 11:49:22 AM by Alasdair5000 »

eytanz

  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 6109
What's wrong with British politics
« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2008, 11:46:14 AM »
Alasdair - as someone for whom this discussion holds quite a lot of interest (being an outsider that just moved into Britiain, I'm pretty interested in getting to understand people's views of the politics here), could I ask you to correct the quotes in your post? At some point they become so scrambled I can't tell who is saying what.

(Also, using italics instead of quote tags may make your post look better, but they do make it harder to parse).

Alasdair5000

  • Editor
  • *****
  • Posts: 1022
    • My blog
What's wrong with British politics
« Reply #5 on: January 18, 2008, 11:51:18 AM »
Sorry about that:)  Any improvement?

Simon

  • Peltast
  • ***
  • Posts: 117
What's wrong with British politics
« Reply #6 on: January 18, 2008, 12:59:02 PM »

That's a very good point, and I won't lie to you, for the first few weeks I felt the same way.  That being said, the presence of Jack Straw (A man SO DESPERATE to be Colin Powell in the run up to the war by the way, that there is footage, my HAND TO GOD, of Powell coughing and Straw taking a drink of water directly behind him.) doesn't bode well. 

At all.  Ever. 

On the other hand, Jacqui Smith actually seems to be the first Home Secretary we've had in a while who isn't

A)Certifiable
B)just to the right of Ghengis Kahn

or

C)Both of the above.


Consider: a lot of the business of Illiberalism in this country has been the effect of "hard-man" home secretaries...  The PM loves the home secretary to stomp around in their size 12 boots saying "We will clamp down on terrorism" and "In order to guarantee the safety of families on the estates of Liverpool" and this sets the tone that the rest of the Home Office has to follow.  The only HS I can remember in my lifetime who wasn't a hardman was Ken Clark.  Finally, with the end of the Blair regime (and this was guaranteed to have been done with consultation with Brown), Justice has been cut off from the Home Office...  So the HS - the PM's no. 1 thug - is now no longer involved in the judicial process.  It's the best single administrative measure to fix the cancer of illiberal justice that has happened in the last 30 years...  And what does Brown do to top it?  He gives the job to a remarkably sane woman, talk about a change of tone. 

In terms of policy this hasn't reversed any of the cancerous measures that Blair followed through...  And his meandering-around last week about dropping ID cards wasn't a good way to begin (although I think I smell change in the air on that one, a free-vote in parliament), nor his attempt to extend detention without charge again.  But still, this is definitely, definitely progress... 


I do think there's a strong case for saying that Brown's being judged for Blair's crimes and frankly, there's a case for that being justified.  The man wanted the big chair for years and had ample opportunity if not the courage, to oust Blair on several occasions.  Also, the Phantom Election is going to one of the things he never gets out from under.


No, not when you have an extremely hostile media...  Nothing makes me sympathetic to Brown like watching the media condemn him as "one-eyed" and Scottish.  I saw a BBC program a few weeks back, classic "talking heads" nonsense called The Most Annoying People of 2007...  In which was contained a 5 minute character assassination of the PM...  These things worry me.


Although you're absolutely right, the North/South divide in particular is back in huge effect.  Not so much as some groups, such as the BNP, would have us believe but it is there.


I don't know, maybe I overstate this...  But it certainly feels to me like Class is back, and with it comes all it's baggage.


Jesus they've let John Redwood out of his cage?  That bodes ill.


There are two issues at the moment that I consider the deal-breakers against the Conservatives...  I trust Brussels more than I trust Westminster,  as a liberal I reckon that while we are in the union our own government can't go too far against our interests.  I am absolutely convinced that the Conservatives cannot be trusted on Europe...  They've spent the last 10 years witch-hunting the wet-European tendency out of their party (the Hurds and Ken Clarkes), you could see that by the selection of IDS and Howard as leader by the party base...  All of their MP's standing for selection this time around are likely to be visceral Anti-Europeans, so even if they are avoiding talking about it now, they won't be able to control themselves when they are in power.  The Conservatives are going to do their best to throw a spanner into every aspect of our relationship with our closest allies and - to be honest - cousins and family (definitely my family personally), because fundamentally a large proportion/majority of their support base want out.

Redwood was a prominent member of what Major called "The Bastards" in his famous off the record recording, and more than any other Major-era figure he has been re-habilitated by Cameron...  The Bastards were named that for systematically undermining the Conservative Government on Europe...  I think Iain Duncan Smith was also one of The Bastards...  It makes me very wary of them on Europe (Addendum: Redwood is apparently only chair of their committee on economic competitiveness, not shadow cabinet material)

The other deal breaker for me is Scotland... The union is at the most fragile it has been in a hundred years, and Salmond in the devolved government up against Cameron in Westminster will end up the most god-ugly spitting contest.  There has been a sea-change in England's attitude to the union of the last 5 years that, I suspect, means that if handed a referendum they'd choose to drop their union with Scotland.  The best way for that to happen is to hand Salmond (leader of the Scottish National Party to non-Brits and head of the Scottish Government) a Tory enemy that he can fire up his base about, make himself into a Ken Livingstone figure, and annoy enough that Cameron sees English votes in deepening the rift.  I do not want to end up a citizen of neither Europe, nor Britain, but just England...  And that is my ongoing nightmare of a Conservative government.

Maybe i'm being melodramatic, it's perfectly possibly that the Civil Service will do what the Civil Service always does, and make sure no real change ever happens...  But I'm not really willing to take the risk.  I'll stick with a Scot in Westminster, until that ***** Salmond is kicked out.


   I sympathise and for the record, you've given me some stuff to chew on.  Comes to something doesn't it, when your vote is decided on who you're least scared of?

And I totally agree, a Labour Liberal Democrat hung Parliament would have been the best possible outcome for us. 

Yeah, and if it looks like a likelihood i'll vote Liberal Democrat again...  But the Conservative resurgence is looking overwhelming, and in that battle I know which side I am on.

Edited for profanity and accuracy
« Last Edit: January 18, 2008, 02:03:14 PM by Simon »

Alasdair5000

  • Editor
  • *****
  • Posts: 1022
    • My blog
Re: What's wrong with British politics
« Reply #7 on: January 19, 2008, 06:03:05 PM »

Simon:Consider: a lot of the business of Illiberalism in this country has been the effect of "hard-man" home secretaries...  The PM loves the home secretary to stomp around in their size 12 boots saying "We will clamp down on terrorism" and "In order to guarantee the safety of families on the estates of Liverpool" and this sets the tone that the rest of the Home Office has to follow.  The only HS I can remember in my lifetime who wasn't a hardman was Ken Clark.  Finally, with the end of the Blair regime (and this was guaranteed to have been done with consultation with Brown), Justice has been cut off from the Home Office...  So the HS - the PM's no. 1 thug - is now no longer involved in the judicial process.  It's the best single administrative measure to fix the cancer of illiberal justice that has happened in the last 30 years...  And what does Brown do to top it?  He gives the job to a remarkably sane woman, talk about a change of tone. 
   Take your point.

Oh and Clark wasn't a hard man he was just an idiot.

And here's a hideous geek confession.

   The moment where my tory hatred was cemented was a lot earlier than the, frankly, basically permenant damage to my father's mental health (He's not a drooling basket case, I hasten to add but no one, no one should ever have to sit in a class room aged 17, watching their father scream at a late arrival for absolutely no reason other than his job is slowly killing him and wondering whether he was going to have a heart attack.  Good times.).
   No, the real stressor, as Criminal Minds would put it, was when I was 10 and I heard Ken Clark (Who would later go on to royally shaft the Education system) explain that there was no money to back the HOTOL spaceplane.  A system that worked, was cheap and could have put the UK in direct competition with every other spacefaring nation.

Like I say, idiot.

Like I say, I'm a huge geek:)

Simon:In terms of policy this hasn't reversed any of the cancerous measures that Blair followed through...  And his meandering-around last week about dropping ID cards wasn't a good way to begin (although I think I smell change in the air on that one, a free-vote in parliament), nor his attempt to extend detention without charge again.  But still, this is definitely, definitely progress... 
   See I disagree on this one because if they step down ffrom ID cards, at all, then it's a huge loss of face AND money.  I honestly think they're cretinous, and embarassed, enough to push it through.  Even then, if it goes to a free vote, I cannot see enough MPs with the backbone to vote it down.

Simon:No, not when you have an extremely hostile media...  Nothing makes me sympathetic to Brown like watching the media condemn him as "one-eyed" and Scottish.  I saw a BBC program a few weeks back, classic "talking heads" nonsense called The Most Annoying People of 2007...  In which was contained a 5 minute character assassination of the PM...  These things worry me.

   Christ.  Although in fairness I do think that ten years of Labour briefings, Campbell standing on the necks of journalists who were out of line and oddly, hard man HS'es (John Reid, it is reported, in the days after the 'sexing up' allegations broke and shortly before the extremely odd death of David Kelly, arrived at the BBC and announced 'You fuckers have been giving us the shaft for the last eighteen months.  Now it's your turn.') means that the Beeb in particular are looking for payback.  Whilst that's not journalism it's as you say character assassination, I can't help but feel there are bridges to be built there, on both sides.


Simon:I don't know, maybe I overstate this...  But it certainly feels to me like Class is back, and with it comes all it's baggage.

   I don't think class ever left.  I think it was stratified under Thatcher and reconfigured slightly under Blair, mostly along the lines you say.  But fundamentally, this country has an institutionalised class system that's now expanded to take in schools and hospitals too.

Simon:There are two issues at the moment that I consider the deal-breakers against the Conservatives...  I trust Brussels more than I trust Westminster,  as a liberal I reckon that while we are in the union our own government can't go too far against our interests.  I am absolutely convinced that the Conservatives cannot be trusted on Europe...  They've spent the last 10 years witch-hunting the wet-European tendency out of their party (the Hurds and Ken Clarkes), you could see that by the selection of IDS and Howard as leader by the party base...  All of their MP's standing for selection this time around are likely to be visceral Anti-Europeans, so even if they are avoiding talking about it now, they won't be able to control themselves when they are in power.  The Conservatives are going to do their best to throw a spanner into every aspect of our relationship with our closest allies and - to be honest - cousins and family (definitely my family personally), because fundamentally a large proportion/majority of their support base want out.
   I remember reading somewhere that the baseline age of the Conservative party was now up in the mid-60s.  The Family Guy line about the symbols of the Republican party ('An elephant and a big fat white guy whose frightened of change!')leaps to mind.  And this one, I think, is the issue that the Conservatives may well break over.
   See, I think there's a real sense in the party, a realisation that they HAVE to be seen to at least try and do something different.  18 years under a Conservative government turned an entire generation against them, and it's both fascinating and horrifying to see how thin that generational line is.  One of my best friends is 27 and he shares my rabid hatred of Thatcher.  His wife is 24 and has absolutely no memory of her.  Weird huh?
   But yes, I don't think the people who WANT to be in Europe are going to win on this one for two reasons.  Firstly because the Conservatives are fundamentally frightened of change and secondly because the people in favour of closer ties never had the guts to stand up and be counted. 


Redwood was a prominent member of what Major called "The Bastards" in his famous off the record recording, and more than any other Major-era figure he has been re-habilitated by Cameron...  The Bastards were named that for systematically undermining the Conservative Government on Europe...  I think Iain Duncan Smith was also one of The Bastards...  It makes me very wary of them on Europe (Addendum: Redwood is apparently only chair of their committee on economic competitiveness, not shadow cabinet material)

   Letting a man who on being made Welsh Secretary not only couldn't be bothered to learn the anthem but attempted to mime badly, whilst being filmed, back into the building in any capacity is a biblically bad plan.

The other deal breaker for me is Scotland... The union is at the most fragile it has been in a hundred years, and Salmond in the devolved government up against Cameron in Westminster will end up the most god-ugly spitting contest.  There has been a sea-change in England's attitude to the union of the last 5 years that, I suspect, means that if handed a referendum they'd choose to drop their union with Scotland.  The best way for that to happen is to hand Salmond (leader of the Scottish National Party to non-Brits and head of the Scottish Government) a Tory enemy that he can fire up his base about, make himself into a Ken Livingstone figure, and annoy enough that Cameron sees English votes in deepening the rift.  I do not want to end up a citizen of neither Europe, nor Britain, but just England...  And that is my ongoing nightmare of a Conservative government.

   The simple fact that of the oil and gas that comes in through Scotland is, I feel, both Salmond's greatest asset (Never piss off the man who controls the lights, heat and power) and the biggest guaruntee that Scotland is going to remain part of the country for the forseeable future.

Simon:Maybe i'm being melodramatic, it's perfectly possibly that the Civil Service will do what the Civil Service always does, and make sure no real change ever happens...  But I'm not really willing to take the risk.  I'll stick with a Scot in Westminster, until that ***** Salmond is kicked out.


   Odds are that's going to happen.  After all, I actually have friends in the CS now and their experiences have made it clear to them, and me, that the checks and balances element of the system does, for the most part, work.


Alasdair5000

  • Editor
  • *****
  • Posts: 1022
    • My blog
Re: What's wrong with British politics
« Reply #8 on: January 19, 2008, 06:04:25 PM »
As an addendum by the way, the first thing I thought of when I read the thread title was this:

What's wrong with English Politics?

LOTS

:)

Russell Nash

  • Guest
Re: What's wrong with British politics
« Reply #9 on: January 20, 2008, 04:25:30 AM »
As an addendum by the way, the first thing I thought of when I read the thread title was this:

What's wrong with English Politics?

LOTS

:)


I noticed that problem after I split it.  To change the title at that point would require me to go into your first post.  I figured it was just better to leave it.  "All that's wrong with British politics" probably would have been better.

Tango Alpha Delta

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1778
    • Tad's Happy Funtime
Re: What's wrong with British politics
« Reply #10 on: January 20, 2008, 12:11:30 PM »
Fascinating thread, mates. :D   And, for anyone who has tried and failed to enjoy the novels of Iain Banks* and Ken McLeod because you didn't get the political references, this is the thread is your chance to gain some helpful insights.

I wondered if you were going to explain a few things for your non-UK residents.  Such as the difference between "British" and "English"  (sadly, this is often lost on people until they have actually lived in the UK), and the vast gulf between what Americans call "conservatives" and the Tories.

I promise to avoid making my usual "purposely obnoxious Yank" comments; when these UK-focused political conversations came up during my time with the RAF (1998-2001), I thought it was hilarious to say things like, "I don't know why y'all just don't apply for statehood and be done with it!"  Then I would go make tea, partly because I wanted to mollify the fellas, and partly because I wouldn't trust any of them to make a cup for me after a comment like that.

I also thought it was hilarious to drive my E-reg Mini Cooper down Lincolnshire High Streets playing the Proclaimers Sunshine on Leith or the Pogues "Young Ned of the Hill"...

This Wiki Won't Wrangle Itself!

I finally published my book - Tad's Happy Funtime is on Amazon!

Chodon

  • Lochage
  • *****
  • Posts: 519
  • Molon Labe
Re: What's wrong with British politics
« Reply #11 on: January 20, 2008, 04:57:56 PM »
Alasdair and Simon, thanks for having a discussion like this.  Here in the US we don't hear anything about politics outside of our borders.  I'm sure the media just doesn't report on it because our simple minds can't handle what's going on in other places. ::)   It's truly fascinating to hear this stuff.

I usually use the BBC for checking news while at work, because I know they will cover issues all over the world.  I just wish they wouldn't cover the US primaries.  I'm sick of it already.  Oh well, only 10 more months to go until we get a new tyrant president.

I do have a question however.  Are the third parties in England similar to third parties in the US?  By which I mean some have great ideas, but because their funding is a joke they get zero attention from the media.  The people see voting for them, even if they agree with them politically, as "throwing their vote away".  I'm a Libertarian and when I explain it essentially means that the government keeps out of your business people like it.  They would rather vote for someone they think can win though, and third parties are NEVER discussed on the major news networks.  They are passed off as nutcases.  Are third parties like that across the pond?

Those who would sacrifice liberty for safety deserve neither.

Simon

  • Peltast
  • ***
  • Posts: 117
Re: What's wrong with British politics
« Reply #12 on: January 20, 2008, 06:13:37 PM »

I do have a question however.  Are the third parties in England similar to third parties in the US?  By which I mean some have great ideas, but because their funding is a joke they get zero attention from the media.  The people see voting for them, even if they agree with them politically, as "throwing their vote away".  I'm a Libertarian and when I explain it essentially means that the government keeps out of your business people like it.  They would rather vote for someone they think can win though, and third parties are NEVER discussed on the major news networks.  They are passed off as nutcases.  Are third parties like that across the pond?


Hmm, Well thanks...  Problem is I've kinda said my piece here, I jumped into this thread because the idea of The Tories getting back in scares the piss out of me and I lost my temper a bit.  I don't think it's clear to foreigners at all that Britain has only had 2 separate governments in the last 30 years (1979-1997 and 1997-now), meaning that there is a staggering amount of unhealthy inertia in our system, and frankly I hate both the rats and the wolves (as I just decided to call them). 

Anyway, multi-parties... Emphatically no, we do have third parties of considerable influence: The Scottish Nationalists now have a minority government in Scotland, Northern Ireland is split between the total domination of two minor parties, and Wales has the Welsh Nationalists (called Plaid Cymru) wielding considerable influence as junior coalition partner. 

And this is without mentioning the main third party: The Liberal Democrats, who are a moderate force in all the regions.  In any regional election a regional party is likely to be a major force (and the regions as they currently are have only existed since 1997), but for the national government (referred to as Westminster) Labour and The Tories have had total domination for almost a hundred years.  To give an idea of the scale of the Lib Dems in Westminster: Labour currently has 355 seats, the Tories 198 and Liberal Democrats 63, the total number of seats the Liberal Democrats possess is almost exactly as many seats Labour has more than all the other parties put together...  Thus in order for the Lib Dems to wield real influence, they would need an election where the other 2 came to a dead heat, and they held that 63 seat base giving them the balance of power.

Since we've only had 2 governments in the last 30 years, the likelihood of a dead heat (in which the Lib Dems have the unlikely outcome of still holding 63 seats) is slim enough that when people get really, truly, sick of the government they lose interest in the honest-third-party and hand the government from the rats to the wolves and back again.  So the LD's get treated as a wasted vote - as Alasdair has illustrated above. 

And it is true that their policies are a bit wet - in real ideology I don't support them - but they always seem to mean well and they were the only party on the right side of The War (and openly pro-European).

- Anyway, this is turning far too much into a "hey, look at the strange Brits with their archaic Westminster System of Parliamentary democracy" so I think I'm signing out... This feel way too much like being peered at under a microscope, so cheers and adios -
« Last Edit: January 20, 2008, 06:39:53 PM by Simon »

Chodon

  • Lochage
  • *****
  • Posts: 519
  • Molon Labe
Re: What's wrong with British politics
« Reply #13 on: January 20, 2008, 06:59:49 PM »
Thanks for the info, Simon.  It sounds like while your third parties may be weak in comparison to the "big two" they are a lot better off than any third parties in the US.  The Senate is broken down 49 Republicans, 49 Democrats, and 2...that's right, 2 independents.  They don't even give them the credit of saying which third party.  The House of Reps is 202 Republicans and 233 Democrats.   Zero third parties.  Zero.  It really pisses me off. 
It does make me feel a little better to know my country isn't the only one with a completely messed up government though.

This may sound very, very ignorant (because I admit, I am ignorant about British government), but where does the royal family come into all this?  Are they mostly just figureheads, or could they theoretically say, "Nuts to this democracy crap!  We're in charge again!"?  Again, I'm embarrassed by how little I know about your political system.  Just trying to get rid of a little ignorance.
Those who would sacrifice liberty for safety deserve neither.

Tango Alpha Delta

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1778
    • Tad's Happy Funtime
Re: What's wrong with British politics
« Reply #14 on: January 20, 2008, 07:54:00 PM »

- Anyway, this is turning far too much into a "hey, look at the strange Brits with their archaic Westminster System of Parliamentary democracy" so I think I'm signing out... This feel way too much like being peered at under a microscope, so cheers and adios -


If it makes you feel any better, it's more of a "hey, look, there are real Brits who can tell us what they actually think instead of us trying to figure out whether the BBC Brits are making fun of us or actually reporting the news"...

Incidentally, I heard this on the radio today.
This Wiki Won't Wrangle Itself!

I finally published my book - Tad's Happy Funtime is on Amazon!

Mr. Tweedy

  • Lochage
  • *****
  • Posts: 497
  • I am a sloth.
    • Free Mode
Re: What's wrong with British politics
« Reply #15 on: January 20, 2008, 09:24:55 PM »
Thanks for the info, Simon.  It sounds like while your third parties may be weak in comparison to the "big two" they are a lot better off than any third parties in the US.  The Senate is broken down 49 Republicans, 49 Democrats, and 2...that's right, 2 independents.  They don't even give them the credit of saying which third party.  The House of Reps is 202 Republicans and 233 Democrats.   Zero third parties.  Zero.  It really pisses me off. 
It does make me feel a little better to know my country isn't the only one with a completely messed up government though.

This may sound very, very ignorant (because I admit, I am ignorant about British government), but where does the royal family come into all this?  Are they mostly just figureheads, or could they theoretically say, "Nuts to this democracy crap!  We're in charge again!"?  Again, I'm embarrassed by how little I know about your political system.  Just trying to get rid of a little ignorance.

Yeah.  I wasn't joking about that "Big Book of British Politics."  I'm really curious about how your system works (or fails to work?).  All I know about England comes from Monty Python and Doctor Who.  England is a mystery to me.
Hear my very very short story on The Drabblecast!

Russell Nash

  • Guest
Re: What's wrong with British politics
« Reply #16 on: January 21, 2008, 04:51:12 AM »
Simon:  I will add my thanks to the chorus here.  I hear a lot about Britain's international stances, but not much about internal politics, so I'm very interested in what you have to say and not in a point and laugh kind of way.

Chodon:  The reason other countries have more than two political parties is because they use Parliamentry Systems.  They work totally differently.  The US is the only country to have ever had a Presidential Democracy and not fallen into a Dictatorship. 

I won't go into details (the Wikipedia artical is very precise), but I'll give a little example from the Berlin local government.  (Disclaimer: There are many variations to the Parliamentary System.  This is just an example from one)  My numbers are fictious, but the positions of the parties and the outcome are correct.  There were seven (maybe eight) parties of decent size running in the last election.  They were fighting over seats, that are similiar to the seats in the House of Reps, each represented a section of Berlin.  I forget how many seats, so let's just say 101. 

After the voting they looked at the results and saw:  The SPD had 45 seats. The CDU had 33. The FDP had 8. The PDS had 7. The Greens had 6.  The NPD(?) had 2.  You need 5% to get your seats, so the NPD had to give up their seats and the seats were split between the two frontrunners.  Nobody had the 51 seats needed for the majority.  The SPD and PDS made a coalition giving them 52 seats.  They picked someone to be Mayor and that's the government in Berlin. 

That's why third parties make a difference in other countries and why they can't in the States.  A party can start off small in other countries and still make a real difference and then they can grow.  The FDP had 8% and could have been in the controlling coalition and the party is only 20 or 25 years old.  The Greens make an impact to and their about that old.  The German foreign minister was a Green in the last government.

In the States you need to do more of a battle inside the party to make a difference.  Like the evangelicals have done in the Republican Party. 

Anyway, I'll stop here. 

Edit: Clarification and spelling
« Last Edit: January 21, 2008, 05:01:06 AM by Russell Nash »

Alasdair5000

  • Editor
  • *****
  • Posts: 1022
    • My blog
Re: What's wrong with British politics
« Reply #17 on: January 21, 2008, 05:40:46 AM »


I do have a question however.  Are the third parties in England similar to third parties in the US?  By which I mean some have great ideas, but because their funding is a joke they get zero attention from the media.  The people see voting for them, even if they agree with them politically, as "throwing their vote away".  I'm a Libertarian and when I explain it essentially means that the government keeps out of your business people like it.  They would rather vote for someone they think can win though, and third parties are NEVER discussed on the major news networks.  They are passed off as nutcases.  Are third parties like that across the pond?


   Like Simon's mentioned, the Liberals actually make a fairly solid showing and have done for some time, up to and including, prior to the ousting of the last Tory government, the possibility of a Liberal/Labour Coalition being discussed if I remember correctly.  They're not a wasted vote, by any stretch of the imagination but again, as Simon discusses, they're also more than a little wet when it comes to their policies.  For what it's worth, the reason they're at least partially off the table for me is I live in a city with a Liberal controlled council who have managed some epic incompetence since they came to power.

But, then again, so did everyone else, and that's the problem.

   So yeah, the Liberals are actually a measurable force.  After that, there's a REALLY big drop off to the twin hilarities that are the British National Party ('We're not racists but foreign people should be thrown out and should stop coming over here stealing our jobs and marrying our women.'  SERIOUSLY.) and the UK Independence Party who are four businessmen and, briefly, a Chat Show host who want us out of Europe and, one can only assume, back wearing those charming large hats with the huge buckles on the front.

   So, the good news is we have a three party system.  The bad news is that none of those three parties are an attractive prospect, nor have they been for close to a decade and the end result is that it comes down to, as I was saying in the other thread, who you hate the least or who scares you the most.

Alasdair5000

  • Editor
  • *****
  • Posts: 1022
    • My blog
Re: What's wrong with British politics
« Reply #18 on: January 21, 2008, 05:42:19 AM »
Hmm, Well thanks...  Problem is I've kinda said my piece here, I jumped into this thread because the idea of The Tories getting back in scares the piss out of me and I lost my temper a bit.  I don't think it's clear to foreigners at all that Britain has only had 2 separate governments in the last 30 years (1979-1997 and 1997-now), meaning that there is a staggering amount of unhealthy inertia in our system, and frankly I hate both the rats and the wolves (as I just decided to call them). 

   SOLD!  And for the record, you're one of the smartest, most articulate people I've come across on this subject.

Alasdair5000

  • Editor
  • *****
  • Posts: 1022
    • My blog
Re: What's wrong with British politics
« Reply #19 on: January 21, 2008, 05:46:11 AM »


This may sound very, very ignorant (because I admit, I am ignorant about British government), but where does the royal family come into all this?  Are they mostly just figureheads, or could they theoretically say, "Nuts to this democracy crap!  We're in charge again!"?  Again, I'm embarrassed by how little I know about your political system.  Just trying to get rid of a little ignorance.


   I wouldn't worry, our political system is more than a little eccentric in some ways.  As I understand it, the way the Royal Family fit in is as follows:

They're in charge.

Technically.

   A sitting Prime Minister must visit the Queen and ask for Parliament to be dissolved when a General Election is called (By the way, there's actually a sliding scale, a window of opportunity about a year long as I recall, within which said election can be called.).  The Queen is Head of State, the various senior Royals are heads of the Armed Forces but it's technically a figurehead position.  Which hasn't stopped friends of mine speculating about exactly who the Army would side with if it came to it, but that's a whole different cheap air port novel...