Posts Tagged ‘Tories’

Cameron’s brave boasts ring hollow: the Tories are failing to back British business.

07/03/2011, 09:17:34 AM

by John Woocock

David Cameron has faltered abroad of late because under him Britain lacks a coherent foreign policy to guide it, as Douglas Alexander cogently set out in the Observer yesterday.

But yesterday the prime minister’s incoherence spread to the home front. Cameron’s speech to the Conservative spring conference highlighted a weakness in his leadership and the government’s economic position that is worth dwelling on, beyond the two lines of rebuttal to which such orations are usually treated.

The foreign policy section of the speech bad enough. Was there really a single true blue activist in the Cardiff hall, never mind anyone in the rest of the country, convinced by the notion that the key difference between Labour and the Conservatives in foreign affairs is that we do “dodgy deals with dictators” while they are primarily interested in volunteering to build schools in Africa? And if any Cameroon speechwriters read Labour Uncut (They do – Ed.) let me help you out: if you are going to force that kind of absurd contrast on your audience, don’t then segue into a eulogy of Margaret Thatcher’s foreign policy principles. Some would say she ended up being a teeny bit too close to a dodgy regime or two herself, as her friendship with General Pinochet and reluctance to impose sanctions on apartheid South Africa showed (which latter Mr Cameron himself adversely criticised back in the days that he wished to project himself as a break from Tory tradition). (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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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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The old cancer at the heart of the student riot

11/11/2010, 09:00:18 AM

by Luke Akehurst

THE SAD lesson of the hijacking of part of Wednesday’s NUS demo – by a small minority who turned it into a mini-riot – is that some of the iron laws of left politics from the last time there was a Tory PM still hold true.

The mainstream left, whether that’s the Labour party, its affiliated trade unions, NUS or other organisations campaigning against the cuts needs to know that the bad guys are not all to our right on the political spectrum.

Idealistically, we might have thought that the sheer horror of the cuts being proposed by the Tory-Lib Dem government would mean all forces on the left in Britain could unite to protest and fight to protect key public services and benefits.

Wednesday’s behaviour killed that idealistic dream as it probably killed the political enthusiasm of some of the 50,000 ordinary students on the march.

On the plus side 49,000+ of them marched peacefully. By any stretch that’s a remarkable political mobilisation. The entire membership of all the student political organisations in the UK plus non-student supporters and non-partisan student union activists does not get anywhere near 10,000 people. So 80% or more of the marchers were “real people” driven to political protest by the government, not long-term political activists.

This should therefore have been a marvellous opportunity to get an entire new generation involved in politics, inspired by participation in a powerful protest that would have got their case all over the media and put fear in the hearts of the Lib Dem MPs who betrayed their erstwhile student voters. This should have been the start of a campaign that would have seen those 50,000 marchers go back to their colleges and work to either stop a government policy in its tracks or failing that contribute to mobilising their fellow students to evict Tory and Lib Dem MPs in university seats in the next general election. (more…)

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The swaggering arrogance that is storing up pain for the Tories

01/11/2010, 05:30:00 PM

As George Osborne sat down to the sound of rapturous applause and shaking order papers, he had achieved what few had thought possible. He had fronted up to the biggest political challenge facing a chancellor in years and ended not just still standing, but firmly on the front foot.

After a hoarse hour spelling out the detail on the investment and the reasoning behind the savings, Osborne climaxed his comprehensive spending review with the sort of political sleight of hand that must have had the absent Gordon Brown nodding in grudging approval. After all the cuts, all the efficiencies, the elimination of Labour waste, the fledgling government, thanks to turning around the economy, had actually cut less than Darling had planned. Your move Mr Johnson.

"We're all in this together"

Except, of course, that he hadn’t. Osborne’s move was calculated to win a short term tactical battle. The treasury team would never have attempted such a move against a Brown or a Darling. They took the gamble to instantly put Labour’s new shadow chancellor under pressure. The braying 30 and 40 somethings in the cheap seats loved it. Of course they did. The backbenchers were raucous but whilst this was a tactical triumph it was a strategic disaster. (more…)

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Far from being the left’s embarrassing secret, the state is actually its trump card, says Anthony Painter

14/10/2010, 08:54:51 AM

What weird contorted, politically arrogant logic comes to the conclusion that David Miliband should join the Tory-Lib Dem coalition, as Nick Boles attempted to argue yesterday? While setting on a course that gives Margaret Thatcher a run for her money in terms of its social and economic destructiveness, the government has finally been lifted from the ground with the hot air of its own rhetoric. The definition of socialism is what a Labour government does and anything this government does is progressive reform – by definition. Why? Well, because it’s a progressive reformist government, duh.

With Labour’s leadership election out of the way, the fog of war is starting to clear. David Miliband and all those on the left who know that the state must change – be more personal, more local, and more innovative – equally know that the type of reform offered by the Tories and Lib Dems is anything but progressive. David Cameron and Nick Clegg know that as long as they can be seen to be taking it out on relatively high earners as well as the least well-off then the progressive fig leaf will stay in place.

So high rate taxpayers lose £1billion of child benefit. Others much lower down the earnings ladder lose up to £15billion a year. There is a £9billion hit for 3.5 million disabled people over five years according to the think tank, Demos. Progressive. Then there is the pupil premium: the government’s get out of jail free card when it comes to fairness. Or so they think. It conveniently ignores the fact that there already is a pupil premium. It goes to local authorities. Meanwhile, investment in creating the school buildings of the future for many is cut. Progressive. (more…)

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A reckoning deferred: Dan Hodges on Cameron’s cagey week

07/10/2010, 09:00:14 AM

Policy chaos. MPs in a panic. A rattled prime minister, with fear in his eyes.

It’s been a dangerous couple of days for the Labour party.

Conference season is a game of two halves. Attack. Counterattack. You roll out your programme. They hit it. You assess where the blows have fallen hardest. Recalibrate. Then you roll out your programme again.

Not this year. By accident, and by design, the Tories have played to different rules.

This should have been the week that Cameron and co. blew some sizeable holes in “Red Ed” and the “new generation”. Instead, they spent the best part of their conference blowing holes in each other.

Their semi-disintegration on child benefit was selfishly dispiriting. I couldn’t weep for the single mothers about to lose their benefits. Or the families facing hardship. All I could think was: “did we really lose an election to this shower”? (more…)

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Kevin Meagher looks back at the coalition’s first year in office

23/09/2010, 05:01:00 PM

Britain, June 2011.

The loss of last month’s referendum on the alternative vote has left the Tory-Lib Dem government reeling. The 90% No vote capped a miserable first year in office for deputy PM, Nick Clegg, and few were surprised at his resignation. Widely blamed for the fiasco, Mr Clegg had never really recovered his popularity following the embarrassing incident when apprentices angry at the scrapping of the future jobs fund tried to throw him into a smelting pot on a visit to his Sheffield constituency.

In a year that saw many dramatic reversals of fortune, Lembit Opik swept back into the Commons, agreeing to take over as interim Lib Dem leader. “I’ve grown up and can give my party exactly what it needs” he smirked, standing on a segway next to his latest fiancée, the recently-divorced Katie Price, as they posed for a double-page spread in the launch edition of Frisky Boy magazine. (more…)

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We must regroup, rebuild and consider ourselves electable says Claire French

31/08/2010, 10:41:00 AM

Following the events of the weeks post-election, I joined the Labour party as an enthused young person ready for the fight against the Con-Lib Dem government and their lust for cuts.

The party have suffered immensely without a leader to fight the government and its austerity package. While selecting somebody on merit and without debate would have been a mistake, the subsequent infighting – both in the leadership race and between the candidates to represent Labour in the London mayoral elections – is putting us on a slippery slope.

Opposing parties see us and those who represent us in parliament as no threat at all. We appear uncoordinated; we are stale and out of ideas.


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Charm offensives and the future of the Liberal Democrats

11/08/2010, 05:09:44 PM

Jerry Hayes would be amazed if Tories and Liberal Democrats didn’t stand as coalition candidates at the next general election. Would this extend to the formation of a new centre party encompassing elements of both Toryism and Liberalism? Peter Bingle thinks so.

Whether it is something as loose as Tory/Lib Dem understandings in certain seats or as formal as a new centre party, Denis MacShane is convinced that the government’s mishandling of Sheffield Forgemasters means that something will have to give for Nick Clegg to retain his Sheffield Hallam constituency.

Clegg’s desires to remain both on the green benches and in the ministerial Jaguar drive the electoral relationship between the Liberal Democrats and the Tories inexorably closer. Chris Huhne seems as in need of a Tory helping hand as Clegg and Sayeeda Waarsi did nothing today to suggest that this would not be extended.

Neither this prospect nor the realities of the coalition please all Liberal Democrats, though. Lembit Opik’s stand-up comedy, for example, is spiced with anti-Clegg jibes. “I saw him in Portcullis House after the election. It was strange that he didn’t see me, but it was a large lift”.

Opik may well be saying publicly the kinds of things which the Liberal Democrat backbench part of the coalition is saying privately. And this, as Tim Montgomerie observes, is a coalition in three parts: “1) the almost indistinguishable front benches; 2) the Tory right; 3) the left of the Liberal Democrats who, in their hearts, would still have preferred a deal with Labour.”

It is hard to imagine closer electoral relations between the Tories and the Liberal Democrats not producing fireworks unless this changes. Whatever closer electoral relations Cameron and Clegg are aiming for, they will struggle to achieve them unless they can bind their backbenches into the coalition to a greater degree. But the irreconcilables will, by definition, elude the charms of their party leaders. Labour should now be charming those Liberal Democrats who potentially fall into this category.

Simon Hughes is the leading figure in this group and is joined by the likes of John Pugh, Jenny Willott, Tim Farron, Paul Burstow, Norman Baker and David Heath. Whatever happens, gently encouraging Liberal Democrats of this vintage to think ill of Clegg and Cameron and well of Labour is likely to assist Labour’s hopes of returning to government. Perhaps, Labour-Lib Dem bonding over beers at Opik’s next gig would be a logical step.

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