Tag Archives: politics

Election thoughts

I was very quiet on social media about my politics in the run up to the election and since the result, however I had a little rant on Facebook last night and I think it’s worth repeating here:

The fact that other countries don’t do it [social welfare] as well as we do is no argument for us to be less caring. Some people can’t look after themselves …, others could with just a bit more support.
However, the economic situation has been
dramatically overplayed too. Labour did not ruin the economy – the global situation did. And while Labour could have made a few better decisions in the good times they didn’t cause the bad times. Nor have the Tories saved us – again the global position has improved. In fact many economists believe that the Tories have slowed down the UK’s recovery.
However, perhaps the biggest issue is that while people may have a couple of quid extra in their pockets the long-term costs – to the country and individuals – will be much higher. A two-tier health service that will need private payments to get the level of care we now take for granted; higher university fees; a lack of social care ‘insurance’ for those that fall on bad times; lower minimum wages; less tax paid by the rich (therefore increasing the tax burden on the rest of us).
I’m sorry I think the “look after ourselves” mentality is both worrying and very, very wrong. And Labour’s biggest mistake was not messing things up last time, but not explaining that properly this time.

Rant over, smiley swimming stuff again from now on.

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What’s happening to Basic Income?

I’m certainly not an expert in politics and would never claim, neither political philosophy, or the workings of politics and the parties. Both interest me, but I’m very much an outsider looking in.

However, I posted the other day about the Basic Income. It’s a policy I have privately endorsed for a long time and something that the Green Party in the UK appeared to add to its manifesto for the upcoming election.

Then it dropped it (read about here in The Telegraph). Or did it (a comment on Reddit)?

To be honest I don’t know what the exact answer is. I can understand how and why other politicians (and the newspapers that support the existing system) would challenge the Green Party and suggest that these policies have been dropped, or should be. But I don’t want to get all ‘conspiracy theory’ on you.

I wouldn’t expect it be adopted just yet no matter who has it on the manifesto, or which party wins at the next election (or which collection of parties as I expect it to be a coalition again). This is an idea that is radical enough to need time to sink into the human consciousness, to need time to percolate through and become a mass movement for its introduction.

So given that, at this stage all I want is for it be debated and discussed.

I don’t even know if I *want* it introduced, because I don’t pretend to understand all the ramifications yet. So I just want it fairly and maturely debated (unlikely I know, but we can dream).

Anyway, on politics, here’s a good article in the Guardian about voting for what you want – not what is the lesser of evils.

– – –

Back to swimming / running nonsense again soon, promise.

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Any Questions?

On Friday night I was lucky enough to go to the recording of Radio 4’s Any Questions programme – for those of you that don’t listen to it it’s a radio version of Question Time (for those of you out of the UK – it’s a political debate programme). It was recorded at the Minster School in Southwell, where I live.

I really enjoyed going, it was interesting to see how it is all set up and how it happens, but in the end I left a little frustrated – mainly because it’s not actually a political debate programme, it’s a political shouting match and name-calling exercise. I don’t think that this problem is anything to do with the programme itself, instead, unfortunately, it is the nature of modern politics.

The time and space to have reasoned debate seems to have disappeared and with a media (not to mention a Twitter audience) that is hungry to dissect every utterance then politicians always have to be “on-message”. The problem is that they focus on being on-message to the detriment of actually producing a coherent message.

Most issues in modern life are complicated, complex and interlinked – there is rarely a simple or easy solution and there is rarely a single solution. The issue of the economy, or of international terrorism, or of the environment need people to sit down together to work through, they also require everyone to make difficult choices and accept some things that they might not like to create a greater good.

Instead what we seem to get is an almost involuntary dismissal of anything that the other side proposes.

It is childish, silly, unhelpful and in the long-run if it continues is a far bigger threat to the very future of politics than the expenses scandal or any other similar expose.

To bring it back to Friday, here are my “scores” for the participants (from left to right as the panel was sitting):

– Ruth Porter – seemed nervous and slightly out of touch with real life, a little too keen to state her rehearsed point
– Ken Clarke – played the relaxed uncle role well, his demeanour and approach impressed me even if I didn’t always agree with him
– Keith Vaz – toed the party line, but had nothing of real interest to say, I really can’t remember him saying anything of interest
– George Galloway – a non-stop showman which ruined many of his points, I agree with him about Iraq and the start of that war, but he can’t concede a single point which ultimately makes him easy to ridicule and ignore

On a side note, George Galloway actually disappointed me the most. A couple of times he got Ruth Porter’s name wrong during the debate, but instead of acting like a human being and apologising to her after the show, he donned his fedora and swanned out of the auditorium. A human touch would have made me like him, would have made me understand that his aggressive approach was an act he felt necessary to make his political points. Instead it made me think that it’s the limelight and not the politics that he cares about.

I may change my mind on this when I listen again (as you can here) and I’d still happily go to another recording, but all in all it just made me a little sad for the state of politics.

UPDATE – 7th Feb

Not too long ago the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, announced a new policy for exams, recently he changed his mind.

Now I’m not to comment on whether the original policy was good, or the change of mind is for the best, but when a politician does change their mind and nearly all the reporting is about a “humiliating u-turn” you can understand why they don’t do it more often.

This tribalistic approach to politics is why we don’t have more debate, consensus and generally working with the other side. This approach is what makes people stick to bad ideas, want to win no matter what the cost and attack good ideas just because the other guys thought of it.

This is why we can’t have nice things people.

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