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Oct 062015
 

Well that speech wasn't much of a surprise; the Tories are busy blaming immigrants for every single one of their failings. It is hardly surpising that Theresa May is the one giving that sort of speach; she's on the lunatic fringe of the Tories and would probably be happiest if they brought back birching (especially if she got to wield the birch). 

Are you having trouble finding a house? The Tories say that immigrants are to blame.

Are you having trouble finding a job? The Tories claim that immigrants are to blame.

Did your cat go missing yesterday? The Tories claim that immigrants are to blame.

Is the TV on tonight boring? The Tories claim that immigrants are to blame.

Every sensible study into the impact of immigration into the UK has shown that they contribute far more than they take, and I for one am getting pretty sick of all this pandering to the fascist wing of the British public. It's also out of step with the mood of the nation – with many people looking at the Syrian refugee crisis and looking to help.

Anyone would think that the Tories are terrified that UKIP might start taking votes away from them, and have decided to adopt the far-right anti-immigration party's policies to steal their thunder. Not exactly the moral high ground.

May 092015
 

Well if you are a Tory supporter nothing went wrong; indeed you must be cock-a-hoop given that you have a Tory government when 64% of the voters wanted something else! But if you are against the Tories, you have to be wondering what went wrong.

The most obvious problem is the broken medieval electoral system we have. For practical reasons it made sense in the days of horse-drawn carts to ask each area to appoint a representative in parliament. But today we should be able to design an electoral system where MPs represent people not places, and where everybody can say their vote helped appoint someone to parliament.

As an example if all the votes for the Green party were distributed amongst the smallest UK consituencies (you did realise they are different sizes didn't you?), they would have ended up with 23 MPs instead of just 1! The Tories would end up with 240 seats rather than 331, which basically means that the Tories are very good at distributing their supporters.

In my case, my vote went towards a loser which means I'm "represented" by a politician whose policies and attitudes I find totally repulsive. There is nobody in parliament that I voted for. And the same applies to a huge swathe of the population who are now feeling alienated by the whole process.

And that is something that can and should be changed.

The alienation caused by the first past the post system is probably one of the causes of the low turnout; what is the point in voting if you live in a "safe" seat?

The most obvious difference in this election is the wholesale take-over of Scotland by the SNP, which surprised everyone. Which leads the new Tory government to a bit of a problem – with just one MP in Scotland, they essentially have no mandate to govern Scotland. 

And even in England, the Tory majority is nothing to crow about – a majority of 5 is what would have been called a "fragile majority" in the past. A Tory leader with such a slim majorty is likely to run into problems if they try and ram through a radical programme.

The Tories managed to persuade many of us that a bit more self-flagellation is necessary, and punishing the poor and unfortunate is good for the country.

The effect on the Liberal Democrats is both surprising and entirely predictable. Joining a coalition with the Tories was always a mistake in terms of future elections – it was always seen as helping to put the Tories into power, and many Liberals were far less accepting of this than they would have been to see the party join a coalition with Labour. What the Liberal Democrats failed to sell was the idea that their presence in government helped to amerliorate the Tory extremes.

Labour's failure was probably down to several things :-

  1. The failure to demolish the myth of Labour's economic incompetance that "caused" the recession. It was the global failure of the banking system that caused that failure. Labour's spending was actually reasonably restrained until the need to rescue the banks arose.
  2. The failure to come up with a true alternative to the austerity plan of the Tories. Given the level of government debt that would be a hard job, but it could be started by pointing out (quite rightly) that simplistic austerity makes the debt problem worse.
  3. The inability to persuade that most voters are actually "working class". There is a historic problem with the class system by which people think of the working class as cloth-capped horned handed manual workers of one kind or another. In reality, everybody who works for a living is working class.

Of course whinging about it is not going to change things. We have five years of Tory mismanagement and punishing austerity to accept now.

Apr 052015
 

It's a bit of a slow reaction to the leader's debate, and most of the debate was fairly predictable – the Tories want to cut public spending to pay off the deficit, Labour want to spend and hope the deficit will go away of it's own accord (and according to the historical record, Labour actually have a good track record of reducing the deficit!), and the Liberals want to fit themselves in the middle. The Greens made some interesting points, and the nationalist parties also had some interesting (if nationalistic) points to make.

But Farage (representing UKIP) was unbelievably simple-minded. Just about any problem could be dealt with by getting rid of the dirty foreigner.

Farage wants to cut the deficit by stopping sending money to those dirty foreigners. Their total saving on the foreign aid budget and the EU subscription would amount to £17 billion per year; even ignoring the fact the deficit is growing at about £100 billion a year, it will take approximately 88 years to pay off. Failure number 1.

Farage has a solution to the housing crisis – stop all the dirty foreigners coming in and taking over our houses. It seems like an obvious problem, but is not the whole story (see this article for an analysis of what may be wrong with the housing market).

On the question of the NHS, Farage has a solution to increase the NHS budget – stop treating all those dirty foreigners and let them die in the streets. Concentrating on figures for the moment, stopping treating foreigners may cut NHS costs by £2billion which sounds like a great deal, but it is a drop in the ocean compared with the overall NHS budget of £116 billion. What has not been mentioned is that the NHS is not very good at recovering costs from foreign health insurance schemes which is something worth looking at.

Personally I am quite willing to see the NHS spend 1.7% of it's budget on treating foreigners, because sick people need treatment. What kind of society would we be if we let those who don't qualify for treatment die in the streets? 

Farage and UKIP seem to have only one answer to all the problems the next government will face – blame foreigners. No problem is so simple that there is just one solution to it, and even if you believe that immigration is too high then you should at least agree with me that a party whose only answer is to blame foreigners is not worth considering.

Feb 102015
 

A while back, I commented on the Tories cheering the cuts bringing in a new era of austerity. I said at the time we should remember their cheers, and now we should do the remembering.

Whether or not the austerity cuts were necessary, the cheering by the Tories showed their true colours – they would rather cut benefits to the poor and working classes to reduce taxes for their rich friends.

Remember the cheering when you listen to their wheedling speaches to get your votes.

Remember the cheering when they claim to be on the side of ordinary workers.

Remember the cheering when you go into vote. And vote for anybody else (except UKIP).

May 232014
 

In my opinion, there is one clear thing from the local election results: Lazy journalism. UKIP merrily announced before the election that they were expecting to cause a political earthquake, but the results have been nothing like that at all. Lazy journalists picked up on the earthquake phrase and misused it to talk about the results.

UKIP has done quite well; they’ve even exceeded their internal prediction of getting 100 councilors. But they have not done nearly well enough to cause a political earthquake. That would be more along the lines of getting enough councilors to push one of the big two into third place (or lower).

The numbers aren’t all in yet, but UKIP looks to have won 155 council seats which is still less than half of the next biggest party (the Liberal Democrats on 399 seats), despite the fact that the Liberals were slaughtered – they’ve lost more councilors that UKIP has yet are still in third place. In fact both the Tories and the Liberal Democrats lost more councilors than UKIP gained, and Labour gained a lot more than UKIP.

And UKIP controls not a single council. It’s still an “also ran” party.

Ignoring the fact that UKIP is the kind of party that nobody with more than two brain cells wants to see in power, UKIP is in the position of being a minor party. A single-issue party that has yet to break into the mainstream. If they continue to progress at the rate they are doing (unlikely in the extreme), they may start winning councils in another decade.

No earthquake in sight.

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