26 September 2007

Murdoch Says 'No' To Election, So Go For It Gordon.

Britain's unofficial and unelected leader Rupert Murdoch has spoken. Will Brown capitulate? Dare Brown call an election in the face of the Times and Sun opposition?. Could an 8 point Labour lead*UPDATE - 11 POINTS CLEAR! survive a Murdoch onslaught throughout an election campaign?

Every previous New Labour electoral success has meant cutting a deal with Murdoch, would a promise of a treaty referendum be enough? Who runs this country anyhow? Isn't it about time democracy prevailed rather than the media moguls?

For all these reasons I would now like to see...
an early election and maybe the tide is moving that way. Of course it is risky, but maybe not having an election now is even riskier still (surely the hype has reached such fever pitch that Brown will look like he has bottled it if he doesn't call an election). Can Brown really steer a radical first term course without a clear 4 years for the electorate to see progress?

It is a warm feeling for me to be sitting here after 10 years of a Labour government contemplating the possibility of another election victory. With longevity comes a real chance of embedding progress. Previously Labour governments have been a brief interlude in the Tory hegemony and this has limited what has been possible. The smoking ban, surestart, improved human rights, freedom of information, transparent party funding, changed social attitudes towards ethnic and sexual minorities (crucially led by legislation - something the fake libertarians would never understand) and the expanded funding of health and education (to name just a few areas) could benefit this country for many decades.

When I hear right-wing critics and the media concentrate on a diminishing list of problems in the country and scream 'Labour have had 10 years to put this or that right', do they really believe 10 years is enough to turn around 18 years (or more) of underfunding in all parts of our infrastructure? To train and establish the millions of staff needed? And what government would look good when compared to perfection? Of course some mistakes have been made but at least Labour have made some sort of attempt to put things right rather than just ignoring the problem until it became intolerable (as the Tories happily did and would do again).

This country has always been a social democratic country but despite the majority always voting for higher taxes and more public services they have been mostly denied by a ridiculous electoral system that rewards conservatism over radicalism every time (even when the evidence for progressive change is overwhelming - e.g the failure of prohibition and higher prison populations - just two examples of failed policies well past their sell by date that survive due to the lack of real debate we get with 'first past the post' elections and our biased media). There are limits to what Labour can achieve under this biased electoral and biased media system.

The constraints this system puts on Labour will always prevent a more sensible rehabilitative line towards criminality, or an end to prohibition, or real change to protect the environment, or a citizen's income to end severe inequality and end the inefficiencies and perverse incentives of the poverty trap.

Labour of course, promised a referendum on electoral change in 1997 and it would have been the perfect time to implement such a change (with such a huge majority there could be no accusations of gerrymandering). But we have to hope that electoral reform is not buried, we have to hope Gordon WILL be different and take on the media, above all we have to hope that Labour can get re-elected because without a Labour government looking forward we face the politics of fear taking us back to the Tory era of criticising everything and knowing the value of nothing.


  1. freedom of information, transparent party funding
    Freedom of information legislation that they breach themselves and run off to the High Court at our expense to try to hide from. Party funding so transparent that the Party Treasurer was unaware of it, and you call other people fake - what a joke.

  2. At the end of the day, would you prefer not to have ANY access to info and NO transparency of funding. Because that is what you had before this Labour government. Your choice? You are the ones being fake, because your perfect world does not exist.

  3. So it's be grateful for the lip service to FOI we have after ten years like the good little serf you are - no thanks Neil. I'll give some credit when some is due.

  4. The freedom of information act, some visibility of funding, the Human Rights Acts, etc, the progressive measures enacted by this government, all belong to its first term and are a legacy of the John Smith years. It was in the those first few years that this government had my qualified support. Since then it has sought to undermoine its own legacy. It has talked of repealing the inconvenient parts of the HRA, MPs have tried to exempt themselves from the Freedom of Information Act and the labour party has found corrupt ways around its own funding transparency regulations. Why do you not choose to speak out against that?

    By the way, when Michael Howard proposed ID Cards in 1996, and Blair opposed them, did you support them or oppose them and why?

  5. Legacy or not - it was still Blair & Co. that implemented them and that has to be applauded - credit where it is due and all that.

    Of course I oppose any recent backtracking on these laws. It is deplorable, but we are still in a better state than the Tory years. Please acknowledge this.

    As for ID cards in 1996, I really do not remember my position but I suspect I would have still been in favour of ID cards in principle (but depending on what was proposed, not necessarily in practise).

  6. Oh for f***'s sake, ten years is plenty!

    You can't go on bleating about the pre-97 Tory government for ever.

    The Goblin King is always happy to take claim for x quarters of consecutive growth, including about 12 under Ken Clarke.

    Was Thatcher still bleating on about Callaghan in 1989? Was she f***!

    (and please don't engage in ad hominems, I am not and never was a Thatcherite)

  7. I think it is laughable to give credit to the Tories for 12 quarters of growth after putting us through the two biggest recessions since the 1930s. Surely coming out of a deep recession, the first 12 quarters were the easy bit?

    Labour has taken it to 54 successive quarters of growth - vastly more than any Tory government has ever achieved. You cannot say this has nothing to do with Labour.

    As I have said, I think sadly that most of our growth has been built on debt and speculation - something Thatcher encouraged when she abolished credit controls. Labour to their shame have not reversed this - but by luck and some pretty sound juggement, they weathered the global recession of 2001 (by increasing public spending). If Labour manage to avoid the next world recession that is starting in the US, they will have performed an economic miracle. I can't see them doing it this time myself because public funding is tight, but I have been wrong about predicting recession before.

    As for calling you a Thatcherite, I am sorry if I offended. You are a right-wing Tory though aren't you? I thought right-wing Tories liked Thatcher?

  8. Don't contradict yourself. Either those frist 12 quarters were real growth (in which case Tories can take credit) or they were not (in which case Goblin King cannot take credit either). Debating with you is pointless until you make up your mind what THE FACTS are, let alone how we explain them.

    Agreed on credit-bubble, the flipside of which is the house-price-bubble, ergo why I favour Land Value Taxation.

    I am neither a Tory, right wing nor a Thatcherite, I am a small government free market libertarian, which is why I joined UKIP.

    UKIP may be a bit lacking in social liberalism, but the rest of their stuff is spot on.

  9. Mark, If you want to give credit to the Tories for 12 quarters of growth coming out of the deep trough low point of a recession, surely you have to give far more credit to Labour for the next FORTY TWO quarters taking it to 54 continuous quarters of growth. In this context it is laughable to give the Tories credit for anything. If they couldn't achieve 3 years of growth after putting us through the biggest recession since their last one in the 1980s (the two biggest recessions since the 1930s) then they must be very poor indeed. They don't deserve ANY credit for that. Any idiot (Ken Clarke) could have achieved growth from such a low base.

    As for you not being a right-wing Tory. Give me ONE UKIP policy that a right-wing Tory would dislike? Also why the insults? It was you who said lets steer clear of ad-hominem attacks.

  10. I'll talk about UKIP policies in a week or so after their conference.

  11. Mark: I can't wait to hear all these UKIP policies that right-wing Tories would hate.

  12. Neil, me neither!

    Changing topic, where do you stand on Land Value Tax?

  13. Mark: From what I know about the Land Value Tax, I support it wholeheartedly. I need to do more research but it sounds excellent.