Posts Tagged ‘David Seymour’

Cock a snook at the Tory press: vote Yes to AV

06/04/2011, 01:00:26 PM

By David Seymour

Wake up, Britain, the Daily Mail exhorts its readers and I agree. If the people of Britain woke up and voted the right way in the AV referendum, they would strike a terrific blow for democracy and plunge a dagger in the heart of the anti-democratic forces that are taking over the country.

Where the Mail and I part company is that they want a No vote while I want to say No to the Mail and the other right-wing papers, which means voting Yes to AV.

It is an inescapable fact that referendums, like by-elections, give voters the chance to cock a huge snook at whoever they feel like teaching a lesson at that time.

The politicians are so split on AV that snook-cocking is particularly difficult this time. UKIP supports AV, the BNP prefers to stick to first past the post. Half the Labour party wants change, the other half doesn’t. Clegg wants it, Cameron doesn’t. Both sides have uncomfortable bedfellows.

There is one group, however, which is completely united and that is the Tory press. All are hysterical in their insistence that changing the voting system would mean an end to democratic life as we know it.

The Mail, the Express, the Sun and the Telegraph are as one in pouring out bile towards the Yes lobby and screaming at their readers to save the nation from AV. Magna Carta, universal suffrage and human rights are as nothing compared with the sanctity of FPTP.

What’s their panic? The reality is that a) first past the post is an unfair system which results in millions of people in hundreds of constituencies rarely if ever having a vote that counts; and b) the difference which AV would make is marginal – only full PR will properly modernise our electoral system.

It is true that a Yes vote on May 5 will create problems for Cameron, but the Tory papers dislike him anyway, so they ought to be pleased if that happens. Yet they have worked themselves into a lather at the prospect of “losing” the referendum.

It isn’t as if the vast majority of their readers care. In the real world there are genuine political crises which are causing turmoil in people’s lives, though the papers don’t like to accept that. They continue to insist that all public spending is profligate and all public-sector employees are lazy, over-paid lead-swingers.

Perhaps the referendum is a surrogate issue for them to get their fangs into. But that doesn’t explain the passion and fury with which they are pursuing it.

Their arguments are laughable. They say AV is complicated. Not for anyone who can count it isn’t. They say it will cost millions. Why? They say it is unfair when it patently isn’t less fair than the current system.

They claim it will be a historic deviation from the great British electoral tradition. By that measure, we should take the vote away from women and anyone who isn’t a property-owner. (Incidentally, did you know the president of the Tea party thinks people who don’t own property shouldn’t have the right to vote)?

It is being increasingly recognised that the answer nowadays to the question “Who rules Britain”? is: the media. Particularly the Mail and Sun.

If they succeed in getting a No result on May 5, they will be smugly confirming their conviction in their divine right to rule.

But if we can get a Yes vote, just imagine the tantrums, the screaming, the carnage in newsrooms on May 6. It will make the Dacres even more furious and desperate, but we will have won a crucial battle for freedom against the Fleet Street tyranny and the wind will be with us for the really big wars ahead.

David Seymour was group political editor of Mirror Group Newspapers for 15 years.

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The coalition’s new clothes

11/03/2011, 04:40:38 PM

by David Seymour

One of the first rules of politics is that the big lie is the one you get away with. If you tell a little fib, bend the truth a bit, you will be savaged, mocked and denigrated, while the utterer of the breathtakingly dishonest outrage will escape unchallenged. Rather like the foolish citizens who were embarrassed to point out in the emperor’s new clothes that his majesty was actually walking around stark naked because they thought there must be something wrong with them not to be able to see his finery, no one wants to be the first to stand up and boldly proclaim that a monstrous untruth is just that.

The government’s big lie is that the cause of the historically large deficit is entirely due to Labour’s profligate spending on public services. That simply is not true, but almost no one is contradicting the Tories when they say it. And they say it all the time.

Not only ministers but backbenchers never miss an opportunity to utter the mantra that this is all Labour’s fault. How this big lie works is simple, as most big lies are. All that has to be done is to proclaim it with absolute certainty and ridicule anyone who dares to contradict. It is crucial for the big liar that serious analysis is avoided. So let’s analyse how we got this size of deficit. (more…)

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The death of our civilisation

09/02/2011, 01:43:26 PM

By David Seymour

It seems hard to believe, but this lot are worse than Thatcher. She thought there was no such thing as society and destroyed working-class communities to prove it. But she left intact most of the social structure of what the middle classes think of as British.

David Cameron says there is such a thing as society but he patently hasn’t got a clue what it is. I didn’t used to accept that his highly privileged upbringing – and those of most of his cabinet – meant he was divorced from reality, but I was wrong.

He has attacked such sacred cows that he has unleashed an extraordinary backlash from the middle classes who feel that crucial foundations of our civilisation are under threat. Listen to Radio Four’s You and Yours on the closure of libraries. Look at the people who have gone on demonstrations against the sell-off of forests. Consider why so many previously contented young people are taking to the streets. (more…)

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The unholy alliance destroying the country (no, not that one)

31/01/2011, 07:45:12 AM

by David Seymour

It is the last resort of a desperate politician to fall back on denouncing judges as unelected. Michael Howard was at it the other day, complaining that the courts should not be asked to decide whether it was lawful for the government to snatch away million of pounds promised to councils as part of the “building schools for the future” programme. (Yes, that’s the same Michael Howard who was overturned 27 times by the courts when he was home secretary).

If the only people who could decide anything had gone through an electoral process, we would be in a situation in which an administration supported by less than a quarter of the electorate (as most governments in the past decade have been) could do what it liked.

What really gets me agitated, though, aren’t the attacks on judges by politicians and right-wing journalists (can’t recall many of them being elected), but their acceptance at the same time of certain unelected and self-appointed individuals and bodies who exert an overwhelming influence on decision-making.

Take Sir Andrew Green and migration watch. Where did they come from? He was a retired diplomat who founded a body which has been at the forefront of terrifying the British people into thinking we are being over-run by foreigners. (more…)

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Do we have to self-immolate to start a revolution against the British Pol Pot?

19/01/2011, 07:00:41 AM

By David Seymour

The swift and partially successful revolution in Tunisia was started by an out-of-work graduate who set himself on fire. Now others under the yoke in despotic regimes are doing the same.

Self-immolation has repelled me since I saw the pictures of Buddhist monks on fire in Vietnam but I have to admit that it has an impact which no other form of protest does. Not that I am volunteering to lead the revolution.

But the impact of what has happened in Tunisia does make me wonder what we have to do to get the British people to realise what is going on in this country.

I am baffled by the Tories, particularly David Cameron. I have no doubt that he genuinely believes in and treasures the National Health Service. He has personal experience of it which few Labour MPs have. When you spend a night a week sleeping on a hospital floor by the bedside of your severely disabled child, you see too clearly the magnificence of NHS staff.

So why is he introducing “reforms” which will destroy the health service? It doesn’t make sense. Even if he has been suckered into believing the nonsense propaganda of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, he can’t be so stupid that he doesn’t understand what the ultimate effect of Lansley’s changes will be. (more…)

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The Piers Morgan of politics – 30 years since the birth of the SDP

11/01/2011, 02:30:05 PM

By David Seymour

Can it really be 30 years since the formation of the SDP? What a torrent of political water has flown under the bridge since then.

Younger readers will not have experienced that extraordinary mix of violent bitterness between those who left the Labour party and those who stayed (not to mention the internecine hatred between many of those who remained) and the thrill of something momentous happening in British politics.

The infiltration of the organised left – particularly the Militant tendency (note to younger subs: keep as lower case t) – and the chaos of the disorganised left was tearing Labour apart. Thatcher was in power but deeply unpopular.

It was such an exciting time to be involved in politics, but looking back on it now, you can’t help wondering what all the fuss was about. Was the result of all that angst and agony simply the creation of New Labour and this coalition government? (more…)

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The week Uncut

08/01/2011, 02:30:23 PM

In case you missed them, these were the best read pieces on Uncut in the last seven days:

David Cameron forgets his candidates name in Oldham East & Saddleworth

Tom Watson reveals details of the secret Lib Dem “Operation Detach”

Sally Bercow says Dave’s bottle-out on fox hunting is a broken pledge to cheer

New evidence brings new questions  for the director of public prosecutions

David Seymour asks: where is the left when the country needs it?

Lib Dem candidate would have unsuccessfully lobbied himself on tuition fees

Dan Hodges brings us a personal tale of unrequited love

Kevin Meagher reckons Cameron’s a class act & it’s high time we took him out

Atul Hatwal thinks BAME Labour is a waste of everyone’s time

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Where is the left when the country needs it?

06/01/2011, 03:00:51 PM

by David Seymour

In the furore over Vince Cable’s comments on Rupert Murdoch, the media generally ignored something else he said which has far more relevance.

Cable believes that the Tories are engaged in a right-wing Maoist revolution and he is right.

The cuts are a cover for the reversal of more than half a century of social advances. While Cameron continues to project an image of hugging hoodies, huskies and happiness, Osborne, Gove, Lansley and the other gang members are undermining welfare, education and the health service.

Thatcher came nowhere near doing that. Her administrations accepted the welfare state and universal benefits, even though she might personally have done so through gritted teeth. Not this lot, despite all the rhetoric about wanting to help the disadvantaged.

Take just one of the measures they are introducing and which the Liberal Democrats seem too hungry for power to grasp. The question is: why are tuition fees trebling? The answer: funding for higher education is being cut by 80 per cent. That can have little or nothing to do with reducing the deficit and everything to do with abolishing widespread university entrance. (more…)

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