Posts Tagged ‘north south divide’

Cameron needs to show the Conservatives have moved on from Thatcher

09/04/2013, 03:18:09 PM

by Mark Stockwell

The events and policies that defined Margaret Thatcher’s premiership politicized much of the current generation of politicians. The legacy of her time in office, and the manner of her departure from it, continue to cast a long shadow over British politics and in particular over the Conservative Party.

By a somewhat macabre twist of fate, I found myself marking the occasion of Thatcher’s death at a recital of Fauré’s Requiem. Predictably, the wall-to-wall retrospectives of her political career have been divided between those who would have the angels lead her into paradise, and those who would condemn her to punishment in the infernal lake. Perpetual light on one side; the darkness of the abyss on the other.

The left has for the most part observed a self-denying ordinance against open outbreaks of glee. But there’s a strong sense that this is primarily for reasons of self-preservation and concern as to how voters will react, rather than out of any genuine respect for her achievements. Once a period of grace has elapsed, I confidently expect some metaphorical dancing on the grave. (Some have already rather distastefully alluded to Elvis Costello’s ‘Tramp the Dirt Down’ – but she’s going to have the last laugh there by being cremated.)

Meanwhile, the entire Conservative Party has lined up to heap praise on “the woman who saved Britain”. This reaction is reasonably genuine – but it, too, is based on somewhat selective recall. Yes, the country had become almost ungovernable by 1979 and radical surgery was needed but if Thatcher hadn’t been removed when she was and the poll tax scrapped, there’s a fair chance we’d have gone full circle.

Thatcher’s political legacy to the Conservative party is also decidedly mixed. It’s hard to argue with three decisive general election victories, and no defeats. And the policies she pursued, the economic reforms she put in place, have continued to make the political weather. But the coalition she built with the voters in the 1980s was unsustainable once Labour got its act together and addressed its ongoing problem with the middle class. New Labour was the product of Thatcherism – but it was also its electoral nemesis.


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Ed Miliband and Maria Eagle should back high speed two

12/03/2011, 06:27:20 PM

by Richard Kelly

A high-speed rail link between Birmingham and London will tear a scar across the natural beauty of rural England, cost billions, and is nothing more than a politician’s vanity project – or at least so comes the polite shout from home county village halls.

I watched BBC News 24 with gritted teeth as an anti high speed two action group campaigner explained his opposition. He described his satisfaction with the existing one and a half hour services; he delighted in the ease with which he reserves himself a seat. I’m sure he sits there smugly as the crowds of tired working people – who have dashed to make one of the final few trains of a Friday evening – stand rattling between rammed full luggage racks and packed out carriages.

Our man was outraged by the potential spending implications. This is the kind of wanton expenditure he expected from socialists – not the Tories whom his vote (I expect) helped squeeze into government. This gentleman, and gentleman he was, was not enticed by the new line’s 14 trains each hour and 49 minute journeys, (and potentially 73 and 80 minutes from London to Manchester and Leeds). Nor by 40, 000 jobs created in construction and maintenance. And he certainly had little interest in bridging the growing North-South divide. What good is a bridge if it tarnishes his upstairs view? (more…)

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