We are all the poorer for sound bite politics

I often wonder how many politicians of genuine independent thinking may be left as year on year their all-controlling political masters churn out and then demand that silly sound bites are used during every media interview or are placed within every press release.

‘The squeezed middle’ comes to mind as a present favourite but there others which are just as meaningless. Ed Miliband, poor chap, seems to be fed a diet of them and looks so wooden as he tries to sneak them into every interview. But he is far from being alone as senior Tories do it just as ham fistedly. Sadly, I fear it is taking root in senior Lib Dems too.

Of course it is not a new stunt ‘the Pound in your pocket’ comes to mind and ‘never had it so good’ as well but what worries me is that such pointless/meaningless phrases, which easily slip off the tongue, are now just everyday language to our political leaders.

An MP who comes to mind who you would have to try hard to get to do sound bites is John Pugh of Southport, his independence of mind and thought is not easily contained or compromised. But I digress; the issue here is that politicians use sound bites to duck issues, to mud sling and to avoid answering questions.

Why though do the media let them get away with it? Surely, a blatant sound biting stunt from a senior politician would benefit from a firm rebuff along the lines of ‘yes that childlike sound bite is all very well but it does you no credit as a supposedly serious senior politician’! Imagine the howls of indignation and protest, but so long as such media put-downs were fairly handed out across the political spectrum (which of course they would not be) would it not make the sound bite politicians far more wary about trying to take us all for soft Joe’s and Jane’s?

Sadly, many in the media often serve us just as poorly as our political leaders, because of their own political/proprietor bias and unwillingness to take on those in power. As a free thinking Liberal one can despair at the poor quality of public debate either as it comes from politicians or as it is reported by the media. We are indeed poorly served.

I originally wrote this posting for Liberal England blog site where it was published, see this link:-

www.liberalengland.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/guest-post-we-are-all-poorer-for-sound.html

Beware – Politicians pledging to devolve power will probably do just the opposite!

People-powered public services pledge from Ed Miliband – pull the other one!

Ed Miliband has been detailing a future Labour Government’s objectives for public services. His vision is about the individual acting as a consumer [well that’s about as far away from socialism as you can get!]. Specifically, he mentioned giving parents the power to oust head teachers [you can bet that this throw away pledge would be so complex to use in reality that it would be all but worthless even if it was wise, which it is not]. “We will put more power in the hands of patients, parents and all the users of services. We will help people work together with each other and with those professionals who serve them, giving them voice as well as choice [politicians love a rhyme voice – choice and his one echoes of Tony Blair who succeeded in making Britain less equal!].” He also pledged to devolve power from central Government down to local levels [This one comes from all politicians but when they get in power in Westminster they want to pull all the leavers themselves – we should not assume anything but the opposite when this pledge is made].

This agenda should mean significantly less central government from London, huge reductions in the power of Whitehall, far less Big Brother telling us what to do and when to do it, BUT both Tories and Labour have been centralising power in Westminster at least since the Second World War and at a frightening pace. Every Labour government ends up telling us what is good for us. Sorry Ed, only Liberals really believe in truly empowering people and I have my doubts about some of them, so no benefit of the doubt for you and your vague promises of power to the people!

Balls says Labour will make big spending cuts whilst locally Sefton Labour wants to spend, spend, spend

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-25885606

The past week has probably served to highlight Labour’s fundamental and ultimate dilemma – the spenders/borrowers V the cutters of expenditure who want, so they say, to balance the UK books.

Labour has always been a high tax and big spend party and their governments have usually ended in economic failure i.e. borrowed too much, spent too much. But Ed Balls and his chum Ed Miliband, who increasing look like the spitting image caricatures of David Owen and David Steel, are now telling us all that they will stop their ingrained habit of spending and borrowing too much in favour of the UK balancing its books and even running a surplus! This could be a significant turning point for Labour unless it is just party political spin to try to win an election.

However, let’s give Mr Balls the benefit of the doubt for a moment despite the fact that the mess we are presently in was created on his party’s watch! The problem being though that on the ground Labour is still a fundamentally tax and spend party, we see it in the outpourings of Merseyside Labour MP’s and Council Leaders day after day. What Mr Balls now espouses is so far away from some of his MP’s and Council Leaders that they may as well be in different political parties!

Only this week at Sefton’s council meeting the comrades were championing more/higher spending and talking about going to the government for more money. It’s as though these unreconstructed municipal socialists still think that taking a begging bowl to Downing Street, under any government, will lead to it being filled up! And these are the very same people that have ranted and raved at all the terrible cuts in public expenditure that have had to be made since our economy collapsed. They still genuinely seem to think that so long as Labour gets elected to run the Country again that the money tap will be turned back on. But that is very far from what Mr Balls is saying, in fact it is a million miles away from it.

Merseyside is suffering from a failure of leadership from the great and good Labour Council leaders. A glance across to Greater Manchester to see how it is striding forwards under the quiet but highly effective leadership of Lord Peter Smith of Wigan is all the evidence you need. Investment in public transport in particular shows how effective Greater Manchester has been as they have extracted money from governments of all colours in recent times to build a massive tram network and upgrade their traditional heavy rail. Merseyside has failed to get a tram system off the ground and is looked upon by governments of all colours as being a political basket case which can’t put together coherent long-term plans.

So on virtually the same day that Ed Balls was preaching fiscal prudence his troops here in the Merseyside Borough of Sefton were still ranting about the cuts that have been made so far: goodness knows how they will cope with the cuts to come especially if they come from the hand of Mr Balls!

HOUSING – Labour will guarantee builders access to public land!

I am grateful to the Local Government Information Unit for pointing me towards a couple of articles in the national press on this subject. Read their take on things below:-

Labour has pledged that builders will get “guaranteed access to public land” to build new homes under Labour plans to increase construction rates. The party would also order a major building programme to construct more council houses, as well as a new generation of towns and garden cities. Emma Reynolds, the shadow housing minister, will set out more Labour plans to increase the supply of housing today, something the party has identified as a key priority for the next election. Elsewhere, the Daily Mirror notes that new data has shown that private landlords have bought up over a third of council houses in the country’s poorest areas.
The Daily Telegraph, Page: 8 Daily Mirror, Page: 17

Lydiate Lib Dem Parish Councillor Robbie Fenton at Sandy Lane Playing Field saying no to the Parish Council's land being built upon.

Lydiate Lib Dem Parish Councillor Robbie Fenton at Sandy Lane Playing Field saying no to the Parish Council’s land being built upon.

Now what does this mean? Take Lydiate for example where its Parish Council has passed a resolution saying it will not sell any of its land to developers who are presently prowling that community looking to build on just about every green field. If Labour are seriously telling us that they will, if they get into Government, make Lydiate Parish Council sell land to developers then they really are on the road to environmental ruin. We must ensure they don’t get the chance to try it!

Now Labour slams Teachers in a bid to win right wing votes

www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-25695854

Let’s face it you would have expected, or at least been unsurprised, if this latest attack (see link above) on teachers had come from Mr Gove but instead it has come from Labour and it has certainly wrong footed some of the teaching trade unions!

Milband’s Labour Party is full of surprises as it tries to get attention by peddling right and left wing policies at the same time. It’s as though Labour have realised that Tony Blair and his mixture of Christian Democrat/Social Democrat approaches is where they need to head back to. They may well be right but what they don’t have is a Tony Blair type figurehead to lead that charge.

Today must have been one of those days when the trade unions barons who got Miliband the Labour Leadership, thought to themselves ‘what have we done, one day he sings to our tune the next he sings to a Tory tune!’

Vote Labour for bigger welfare cuts!

www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/oct/12/labour-benefits-tories-labour-rachel-reeves-welfare

I wonder how Bill Esterson’s Office will spin this (see link above)? Probably by ignoring it and hoping it will never happen.

Labour’s stance on anything to do with the economy and the consequences of the recession, that they helped to create, is little short of bizarre. They started out in opposition from two opposing positions – Liam Byrne (their former Chief Secretary to the Treasury) openly saying there was no money left in a note to his Coalition successor, whilst Balls and Miliband tried to give the impression that they were all but unaware of a recession and could not understand the need for savings to stop the UK sliding into depression! Of course they have significantly changed their position now vowing to keep to Coalition spending cuts if they get re-elected.

But we also had Labour’s opposition to reducing the welfare budget which has now morphed into Labour can and will cut the welfare budget more than the Coalition!

What on earth do Labour stand for? On the economy anything you want them to stand for it seems.