Our lovely Prime Minister, who had the temerity to suggest the summer’s riots had nothing whatsoever to do with poverty, is now going to tell the poor it’s time to pay their debts:
In a delicate balancing act, he will try in his closing speech to the Conservative party conference on Wednesday to re-energise the country by insisting that despite the pessimism over the economy, politics and society, “the country’s best days are not behind us”. “Let’s bring on the can-do optimism,” he will say before claiming that his “leadership is about unleashing your leadership”.
But despite the efforts to lift the mood of the country, Cameron will also provide a frank admission that the economy is not going to be fixed quickly. His aides openly admit that the country’s finances are in worse state than they had expected – a fact underlined by repeated downgrading of official growth forecasts.
At one point he will even urge households to clear their debts: “The only way out of a debt crisis is to deal with your debts. That means households – all of us – paying off the credit card and store card bills.”
What an utter, insensitive moron. What the country needs is jobs and investment, not a contraction in public spending (entirely on ideological grounds) as a way out of a financial crisis caused by his banker friends, coupled with an (ideological) assault on the benefits system. Where’s a Robin Hood tax? Nowhere. Where’s reform of the banking system? Nowhere. What about forcing corporate Britain to pay the massive amounts of tax it owes? I don’t think so. Instead we get Cameron blaming the poor for their poverty – an act of spin the likes of which even Blair would haven’t stooped to. George Eaton points out:
If we are to avoid an economic death spiral, we need people to spend, not save. Keynes’s paradox of thrift explains why. The more people save, the more they reduce aggregate demand, thus further reducing (and eventually destroying) economic growth. They will be individually wise but collectively foolish. If no one spends (because they’re paying off their debts) then businesses can’t grow and unemployment willl soar. The paradox is that if everyone saves then savings eventually become worthless.
This is the reason why the comparison I repeatedly hear that household finances can be compared to a country’s is so utterly wrong. Tory supporters please read this and learn. John Prescott summarises it best on Twitter:
So millionaires with inherited wealth order working families to pay off their debts whilst freezing pay & cutting benefits
His hatred of the Tories is self-evident (and quite right). Cameron says he believes a free media is a building block of a free society? He has a funny way of showing it indeed. But Mitchell’s hatred of Labour is equally valid – for them to attack the BBC for cowardice when the Hutton witchhunt was entirely their doing is unbelievably hypocritical. The two of them together have reduced BBC News to a supine gathering of cowards and sycophants, uncritically presenting what each government has told them is fact, without any meaningful critical evaluation. I would say the biggest problem is their refusal to stand up to both parties – if they end up diminished, under-funded or wholly trampled over by Murdoch, much of it will be their own fault.
I’ve been wondering for a few days what the real, unique selling point of getting into coalition with Clegg was for Cameron. Was it out of weakness, given the right was calling for his head, after he failed to pull off a majority in the Commons? Was it because he could decapitate them after sharing the blame for the upcoming budget cuts? My personal opinion seems to be shared by a number of Tories, and is cross-posted from conservativehome:
“Cameron is deliberately using the alliance with the Liberal Democrats to reduce the power of the Conservative Right”
I’ve already published two sets of findings from the ConservativeHome Members’ Panel:
- 43% of grassroots members think Cameron gave away too much to Clegg in order to get a coalition deal (51% do not); and
- Tory members approve of Coalition by more than three-to-one.
The third is something Cameron needs to nip in the bud:
I’d disagree that it’s something he needs to nip in the bud. It’s entirely possible that Cameron has acknowledged that a significantly right wing Tory Party still can’t win a general election outright in the UK. By going into coalition he can sideline his right wing nutjobs and tack towards the centre. Obviously that poses significant dangers for him, but pulling any sort of success off with the coalition may very well yet be his ‘Clause 4′ moment – the point at which he stared down the elements in his party who had prevented it from becoming electable in its own right. If Cameron has used the coalition to ‘seal the deal’ with his party (which he had blatantly not done going into the election), then it poses severe challenges for the incoming new Labour leader, be it a Miliband or a Cruddas. I’d be very interested in seeing what a Tory leader not in hock to the most extreme elements of their party could end up doing.
Of course we didn’t, but of course we can’t vote for a coalition – you can only ever vote for the one party you’d most like to represent you in parliament. So why the vicious diatribes are continuing is a complete mystery to me – we got the result we voted for, regardless of actual intent. But commentators are disagreeing, suggesting that the ConDemNation coalition is illegitimate and not reflective of the will of the people. From Johann Hari:
Elections are supposed to be an opportunity for the people to express the direction in which they want the country to travel. By that standard, this result is an insult. Don’t fall for the people who say the Lib Dem vote was “ambiguous”: a YouGov poll just before the election found that Lib Dem voters identified as “left-wing” over “right-wing” by a ratio of 4:1. Only 9 per cent sided with the right. Lib Dem voters wanted to stop Cameron, not install him. So before you start squabbling about the extremely difficult parliamentary arithmetic, or blaming the stupidly tribal Labour negotiators for their talks with the Lib Dems breaking down, you have to concede: the British people have not got what they voted for.
Clegg has betrayed progressives across the length and breadth of Britain. He had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to repair the century-old rift on the centre left and forge a radical and progressive alliance in favour of electoral and constitutional reform. I suspect Labour will now sit on its hands in any future referendum and the Lib Dems might be on their own campaiging for a “Yes” vote. Their new partners in government have already stated their plans to oppose any change to our dysfunctional first-past-the-post system.
Clegg has also betrayed the longer-term strategic interests of his party for crude and short-term tactical gains.
What neither of them calculates however is what the likely effects of forcing the Tories into a short-lived minority administration would have been. Getting blamed as the party which refused to underpin ‘strong and stable government’ would have been an appalling (and probably disastrous) moniker to enter an October election with, which remember the Tories could easily have fought and the Lib Dems not. It’s all well and good to decry the loss of a mythical ‘progressive alliance’ with Labour but a) that coalition would have been an unstable, minority alliance and b) has collective amnesia suddenly struck about Labour’s 13 year record? ID cards, abuse of the National DNA Database, attempts to lock people up without charge for 45 and 90 days, interference in inquests and the right to jury trial, destitution of asylum seekers and the detention of their children, the Digital Economy Act, Section 44 of the Terrorism Act, denying the vote to prisoners, the Iraq War, RIPA and SOCPA legislation – were ANY of these pieces of legislation and invasions of privacy, breaches of civil liberties and human rights ‘progressive’? I think not. Why Hasan, Hari and others ignore these points is a complete mystery to me.
I don’t like the Tories in Number 10 - I really don’t. But we have a Great Repeal Bill on offer, which is likely to include some, if not all, of Deputy PM Clegg’s Freedom Bill, and indeed have seen initial successes such as the end of ID cards and the National Identity Register, not to mention the end of detention of refugees’ children. Is it entirely likely that early, and ‘savage’ budget cuts will cause serious social and economic disruption over the next 12 months? Yes, and the Lib Dems might well damage themselves beyond repair by being directly associated with them, but given that Labour rebuffed their advances to attempt a coalition with them, I don’t know why there’s so much sniping at a party which at long last finds itself to enact large swathes of its platform. It was the best out of a bad set of choices. How on earth is that a betrayal?
It turns out the Metropolitan Police are a bunch of no-nonsense Tories:
A man who placed a poster of David Cameron containing the word “wanker” in his window has described how police handcuffed him in his home on election day, threatened him with arrest, and forcibly removed what they said was offensive campaign literature.
David Hoffman, 63, said police went “completely over the top” when they visited his home in Bow, east London, and demanded he take down the poster, which had been fixed to his window for weeks.
After he expressed concern at his treatment, Hoffman says, a local inspector told him over the phone that “any reasonable person” would find his poster “alarming, harassing or distressful”. The visit from police followed a complaint from a neighbour, who told Hoffman she found the poster offensive. The word “wanker” was printed beneath a photograph of a smiling Cameron.
Apparently he was handcuffed to ‘prevent a breach of the peace’ in his own home. Wankers.
Ken Clarke is now the Justice Secretary, a role which had been expected to steer the repeal of the Human Rights Act if David Cameron became PM. But take a look at Clarke’s views on that idea, as recently as 2006:
Mr Clarke, a former home secretary and failed Tory leadership contender, has become the latest critic of the proposal.
He said he was not saying Mr Cameron hated foreigners.
Mr Clarke told BBC 2′s Daily Politics programme the European convention had itself been drawn up by a British lawyer.
The Tory leader is appointing a group of lawyers and experts to work out what should be in the new British Bill of Rights.
But Mr Clarke said: “He’s gone out there to try and find some lawyers who agree with him, which I think will be a struggle myself.”
The Human Rights Act has come under fire in some newspapers, who believe it has put the rights of criminals above those of victims of crime.
But Mr Clarke said: “In these home affairs things I think occasionally it’s the duty of politicians on both sides to turn round to the tabloids and right-wing newspapers and say ‘you have your facts wrong and you’re whipping up facts which are inaccurate’.”
Is Clarke going to completely undermine himself or does his appointment signal Cameron accepts he won’t be able to repeal the Human Rights Act with the Liberal Democrats as coalition partners?
So Brown has finally done the honourable thing and offered his resignation as a price for coalition with the Liberal Democrats. He’s offered an immediate switch to AV via legislation, and a later referendum on STV. So shouldn’t the Lib Dems join him in a minority coalition? Erm no.
How can the Lib Dems possible ally themselves with the party which unrepentently ushered in our surveillance state? Right through to last week they were crowing about just how authoritarian they needed to be, ironically for a country they insisted wasn’t ‘broken’. Could Clegg work with Alan Johnson, who is still defying the European Court of Human Rights on his department’s abuse of the National DNA Database? And what about the Home Office’s defiance of the Court on prisoners’ voting rights? Could Clegg work with Prime Minister David Miliband, who is still defending the government’s right to torture, and trying to prevent us knowing about it? Could New Labour ever walk away from ID cards, given that its ID strategy for the 21st century depends entirely on them and the real problem – the identity register?
Would a New Labour/Liberal Democrat coalition repeal New Labour’s Digital Economy Act? Would they shut down the Independent Safeguarding Authority? How on earth could New Labour ever agree to any aspect of the Freedom Bill whatsoever? Given that there are no moves visible (yet?) showing the demise of New Labour, how could this coalition be better than one with the Tories? Don’t say have it be led by Nick Clegg because that’s just not going to happen, despite his popularity. Unless New Labour dies or the Tories offer AV+ for the Commons at the very least, I can’t see a coalition of any kind working, at least not without destroying the Lib Dems. Brown’s manoeuvre was super, no doubt timed by Alistair Campbell and Peter Mandelson, but he really must not be the only stumbling block to working with the Labour Party.
by John Pilger
Staring at the vast military history section in the airport shop, I had a choice: the derring-do of psychopaths or scholarly tomes with their illicit devotion to the cult of organized killing. There was nothing I recognized from reporting war. Nothing on the spectacle of children’s limbs hanging in trees and nothing on the burden of shit in your trousers. War is a good read. War is fun. More war please.
The day before I flew out of Australia, 25 April, I sat in a bar beneath the great sails of the Sydney Opera House. It was Anzac Day, the 95th anniversary of the invasion of Ottoman Turkey by Australian and New Zealand troops at the behest of British imperialism. The landing was an incompetent stunt of blood sacrifice conjured by Winston Churchill; yet it is celebrated in Australia as an unofficial national day. The ABC evening news always comes live from the sacred shore at Gallipoli, in Turkey, where this year some 8000 flag-wrapped Antipodeans listened, dewy-eyed, to the Australian governor-general Quentin Bryce, who is the Queen’s viceroy, describe the point of pointless mass killing.
It was, she said, all about a “love of nation, of service, of family, the love we give and the love we receive and the love we allow ourselves to receive. [It is a love that] rejoices in the truth, it bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. And it never fails.”
Of all the attempts at justifying state murder I can recall, this drivel of DIY therapy, clearly aimed at the young, takes the blue riband. Not once did Bryce honor the fallen with the two words that the survivors of 1915 brought home with them: “Never again.” Not once did she refer to a truly heroic anti-conscription campaign, led by women, that stemmed the flow of Australian blood in the first world war, the product not of a gormlessness that “believes all things” but of anger in defense of life.
The next item on the TV news was an Australian government minister, John Faulkner, with the troops in Afghanistan. Bathed in the light of a perfect sunrise, he made the Anzac connection to the illegal invasion of Afghanistan in which, on 13 February last year, Australian soldiers killed five children. No mention was made of them. On cue, this was followed by an item that a war memorial in Sydney had been “defaced by men of Middle Eastern appearance.” More war please.
“Gooks”, “rag-heads”, “scum”
In the Opera House bar a young man wore campaign medals which were not his. That is the fashion now. Smashing his beer glass on the floor, he stepped over the mess which was cleaned up another young man whom the TV newsreader would say was of Middle Eastern appearance. Once again, war is a fashionable extremism for those suckered by the Edwardian notion that a man needs to prove himself “under fire” in a country whose people he derides as “gooks” or “rag-heads” or simply “scum.” (The current public inquiry in London into the torture and murder of an Iraqi hotel receptionist, Baha Mousa, by British troops has heard that “the attitude held” was that “all Iraqis were scum”).
There is a hitch. In the ninth year of the thoroughly Edwardian invasion of Afghanistan, more than two thirds of the home populations of the invaders want their troops to get out of where they have no right to be. This is true of Australia, the United States, Britain, Canada and Germany.
What this says is that, behind the media façade of politicized ritual – such as the parade of military coffins through the English town of Wootton Bassett — millions of people are trusting their own critical and moral intelligence and ignoring propaganda that has militarized contemporary history, journalism and parliamentary politics – Australia’s Labor prime minister, Kevin Rudd, for instance, describes the military as his country’s “highest calling.”
Here in Britain, the war criminal Tony Blair is anointed by the Guardian’s Polly Toynbee as “the perfect emblem for his people’s own contradictory whims.” No, he was the perfect emblem for a liberal intelligentsia prepared cynically to indulge his crime.
That is the unsaid of the British election campaign, along with the fact that 77 per cent of the British people want the troops home. In Iraq, duly forgotten, what has been done is a holocaust. More than a million people are dead and four million have been driven from their homes. Not a single mention has been made of them in the entire campaign. Rather, the news is that Blair is Labor’s “secret weapon.”
All three party leaders are warmongers. Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrats leader and darling of former Blair lovers, says that as prime minister he will “participate” in another invasion of a “failed state” provided there is “the right equipment, the right resources.” His one condition is the standard genuflection towards a military now scandalized by a colonial cruelty of which the Baha Mousa case is but one of many.
For Clegg, as for Gordon Brown and David Cameron, the horrific weapons used by British forces, such as clusters, depleted uranium and the Hellfire missile, which sucks the air out of its victims’ lungs, do not exist. The limbs of children in trees do not exist. This year alone Britain will spend £4 billion on the war in Afghanistan, and that is what Brown and Cameron almost certainly intend to cut from the National Health Service.
Edward S Herman explained this genteel extremism in his essay, The Banality of Evil. There is a strict division of labor’s, ranging from the scientists working in the laboratories of the weapons industry, to the intelligence and “national security” personnel who supply the paranoia and “strategies”, to the politicians who approve them. As for journalists, our task is to censor by omission and make the crime seem normal for you, the public. For it is your understanding and your awakening that are feared, above all.
Word has it that the Tories will try to declare themselves the winners even if they fail to win a majority in the general election tomorrow. The Constitution however has something else to say about that:
Despite the claims of certain media commentators and aggrieved Conservative politicians at the weekend, there has been no “new rule” dreamt up in the Cabinet Office for the event of a hung parliament. The constitutional position has long been clear: if no party secures an overall majority then Gordon Brown, as the incumbent prime minister, has the constitutional right to remain in office to try to form a government.
Constitutionally, a PM cannot be forced to resign because the opposition believes it has a better mandate to govern. But in practice, whether the PM stays in office and tries to form a government is dependent on the political circumstances in which he finds himself.
Britain’s system is unusual in that the prime minister does not have to resign if his party fails to secure a majority. Until a deal is done he would serve as a caretaker premier, whose powers and authority are limited by the rules governing electoral “purdah”. The constitutional conventions and precedents are designed to provide continuity – to ensure that at no time is the sovereign without a government.
The basic principle is that the government must command the confidence of the Commons. That is not the same as securing an outright majority – merely that no combination of parties can form a majority against it. If the incumbent PM has the confidence of the Commons then he can continue in office.
And this I suspect will be what comes into play on Friday. I still believe that Cameron will command the largest party in the Commons, but will fail to win a majority. I also think Brown and Labour will try to find a solution immediately to keep the Tories out. I’m not convinced they’ll find it – partly because Brown is an unpalatable partner for the Lib Dems (Clegg is known to hate him), partly because it seems highly unlikely that New Labour will agree to dismantle its aggressive, torture-supporting authoritarian state, just because its preferred coalition partner wants it that way. Would David Miliband really be a break from old politics? What about Alan Johnson?
The pressure on Brown from the Murdoch/Mail Axis of Evil will be merciless, the political pressure from the Tories themselves possibly much greater, and the will of the people thoroughly subverted. Cameron will do what it takes to run a minority administration, which through trampling on the Constitution and ignoring electoral reform, will within a short span of time destroy itself. Cameron and the unreconstructed Tories are on the wrong side of history.
Those of you so far entirely unimpressed with David Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ general election meme (basically subcontracting the responsibilities of public services provision from the state down to the individual to save money and, well, the bother), this is for you:
The popular press would have you believe it, but then again they have an agenda. Look deeper and look at what needs to happen next week more thoughtfully and you get a different outcome. From the Economist:
Our latest poll, conducted by Angus Reid Public Opinion, a Canadian pollster, suggests that there is still plenty to play for. It puts the Conservatives in first place among those certain to vote with 33%, followed by the Liberal Democrats on 30%, Labour on 23% and other parties on 14% (see chart, and for full details see here). After pondering the specific swing in marginal seats, the pollster reckons these results would leave the Tories the largest party, with 294 seats, but 32 short of a majority. Labour would have 174 seats, and the Lib Dems 150.
The poll confirms Mr Clegg’s commanding personal lead over his rivals.
And that’s all you need to know. Was Clegg ever likely to get the largest number of seats from his position in this first-past-the-post system? Absolutely not. But if Clegg really gets anywhere near 150 seats he’ll have done far more than he set out to do, and get proportional representation onto the top of the political agenda. I don’t doubt for a moment still that Cameron will press right ahead and form a minority Tory administration, but in rejecting PR (which he’ll do, and there’s no way the Liberal Democrat Party would ever allow Clegg to join in a coalition with him) he’ll ultimately destroy himself and govern with no popular mandate, at just the wrong time in history. The electorate remains incandescent with rage about the expenses scandal, still feels betrayed by a New Labour government which delivered far less than it promised, and hates politics and politicians with a passion. Calling Cameron the winner last night is meaningless, when the sentiment which Clegg tapped into three weeks ago is still very much in play, and still demands satisfaction.
Labour meanwhile are still playing games with the authoritarian state, and wondering why the voters have given up on them. Gosh I wonder why?
Read my liveblog of the third and final leaders debate in this general election campaign.
David Cameron said it was irresponsible to scaremonger in this general election campaign. His hypocrisy knows no bounds:
The Tories say they’re offering ‘change’, yet they offer this party election broadcast, which implies that if you vote Labour or Lib Dem you might die! I mean what the hell is that noose?! But that’s not the only offensive part of this video. Rather than arguing about other parties’ policies they argue against the possible outcome, but in doing so they completely misrepresent their own responsibilities. ‘Behind closed doors politics’? So the ‘wash up’ was something to be proud of, or we’re supposed to forget that? ‘Indecision and weak government’? Really? I think you’ll find Germany managed to absorb an entire economically failed state, and has managed extremely strong government since 1949. And it’s just preposterous to suggest a hung parliament would kill the economic recovery…
To attack the Labour Party and Lib Dems as offering ‘undemocratic’ politics and dithering, should the Tories not win outright is an incredible slur on the electorate, who’ve expressed a clear dislike for politics as it’s been up until now. They don’t want the Tories’ half measure of being able merely to recall MPs – they want a system which is actually representative of their wishes and their needs. They want a system which is founded on cooperation and compromise rather than confrontation. That really would be an evolutionary step forwards for British politics, rather than just being dominated by the same old corporate interests which got their way with the Digital Economy Act.
Be not surprised. They’re so desperate they even steal handbags from women who heckle their rallies:
This is the party whose support is in freefall. ‘Change’ isn’t playing. The ‘Big Society’ isn’t playing. The ‘Hung Parliament Party’ isn’t playing. No wonder they shove placards in front of their opponents’ faces.