Why Tories won’t mind losing 1 election & why all eyes should be on Labour’s PR stance

It’s the day after the next General Election here in the UK and progressives are seemingly in a majority, if you mistakenly assume that all Labour MPs are progressive which of course they’re not. There is a lot of celebrating as the Conservatives have finally lost their majority but it will take a ‘coalition* of willing progressives’ to create a workable left of centre government. Here are a few reasons why that ‘progressive alliance’, for want of another term, is likely to fail in short order leading to another populist government of the right.

Firstly, Labour, who have won some extra seats, really aren’t looking much like progressives at all, having run a campaign based on a centre-right platform. The SNP are more progressive but their independence or bust approach to working with other parties is a big stumbling block when you consider that both Labour and, sadly from my perspective, the Lib Dems are firmly unionist in their outlook.

The Lib Dems, who have won a significant number of seats from the Tories, are in reality two differing types of Liberals – Economic Liberals (Nick Clegg was one I guess) and Social Liberals. Whilst they share numerous Liberal values the Social Liberals tend to be very much of the left in UK political terms although many of them baulk at being seen as of the left. However, they’re the ones who realised early on that that Nick Clegg’s negotiated coalition with the Conservatives back in 2010 was going to be a disaster. Of course, they were right as Clegg backed out of the Lib Dem’s flagship policy of opposing Student Tuition Fee increases. It was pretty much all downhill for the Libs from there onwards for the next 10 years.

Would the SNP, having seen what Clegg did to the Lib Dems, even for a moment, contemplate watering down their independence for Scotland stance to make working with unionists in other parties easier or even possible. Frankly, they would be mad too, so how can a multi-party progressive government be formed in a way that brings an independent Scotland to the fore?

It’s proportional representation stupid

And then there’s proportional representation, which for generations Labour has opposed; a position that’s exposed it as being anti-progressive. Labour’s pretty much on its own amongst all left of centre parties across Europe and beyond over its heel-dragging with regard to PR. They got close to backing PR in 2021, of course, and now seem to be in a position where they no longer oppose PR but don’t really back it with any great enthusiasm either. The problem is they can’t be trusted to see through a PR agenda by progressive parties who probably look upon Starmer’s party as being akin to Justin Trudeau’s Canadian Liberals. They, having previously backed/promoted PR, pretty much ran away from delivering it. The SNP, Lib Dems and Greens think Starmer’s lot will pull a similar trick, and they’d probably be right to fear such an outcome.

Labour’s still a Brext party?

Too many of Labour’s MPs continue to be right of centre or they represent white, working-class, right-wing leaning constituencies even when they’re progressively inclined themselves. This was of course the very bind that drew Labour into at best sitting on its hands and at worst enabling a Brexit which has probably damaged poorer areas of the UK more than anywhere else. Of course the Lib Dems, SNP and Greens were utterly opposed to Brexit so here’s another big sticking point which creates barriers to progressives being able to work with Labour.

And look who Labour will probably want to be Chancellor, one Rachel Reeves who’s infamous, with this progressive anyway, for her 2013 utterance that Labour will be tougher than the Tories when it comes to slashing benefits, or words to that effect. She’s going to go down well with progressives in the Greens, SNP and Lib Dems NOT.

So can a Tory opposition so disparate and so very different from each other really carry the day? It could but only on a very limited agenda and proportional representation would very much have to lead that agenda. A further Scots Independent referendum would clearly need to be part of it together with an unbreakable commitment to devolve many more powers to Scotland, N Ireland, Wales and the regions of England, whether the Scots referendum delivers independence or not. This latter point should get the Lib Dems onside as they have long proposed powerful regional governance for the whole of the UK as opposed to the very limited and messy decentralisation which presently exists in differing ways in different parts of the UK. The only other potential issue for this limited agenda could be an emergency financial NHS rescue package. Surely, all progressives could get behind such an initiative? But that’s about it and of course, if Labour will not implement PR then all bets should be off. Certainly, Ed Davey would not survive any brokered deal that simply props up a Starmer Government; he won’t get away with what Clegg did!

And the alternative for anything like a progressive way forward? A minority Labour Government which progressive parties would back but only on matters/policies, they agreed with. On that basis, Starmer’ would be thrown to the wolves if he tried to pursue any right of centre agendas. I’m sure there will be other barriers to non-Conservative parties working together, I’ve just picked out the obvious ones here!

A UK version of Trumpism, that’ll probably be our future

No matter which way you cut it the Tories may only be out of power for one election (under our warped First Past the Post system that is) and they could live with that outcome. Without proportional representation being enacted we’ll be back to Tory Governments most of the time and they’ll probably not be of the benign John Major-type either. Right-wing populism has taken over the Tory Party of old and putting it back in its box will be the devil’s job. No PR Labour? Then settle back for a UK version of Trumpism because that’ll probably be our future.

* Oh and one last thing the Lib Dems have previously ruled themselves out (under Tim Farron’s leadership) of participating in any future coalition government and who on earth could blame them after they were Clegged!

Tuition Fees and Student Debt – Labour’s in a tangle all of their own making

I have been trying to get to the bottom of what Labour generally and Jeremy Corbyn and Angela Rayner MP in particular have been saying about this controversial matter.

Let’s kill one piece of fake news first – Labour brought in Tuition Fees when in government, end of. No they weren’t brought in by Nick Clegg, he just made an almighty mess of pledging to fight them before doing his spectacular U-turn and in effect reversing that pledge.

So ownership of Tuition Fees belongs to Labour but both Tories and Lib Dems in Government have backed them.

Of course the big news of this June’s General Election was that Labour had decided that their flagship policy to bring in Tuition Fees had been wrong and that they would be abolishing them if the electorate gave them a majority. That pledge went down very well indeed with young voters who flocked behind the Labour banner in the ballot box but not in sufficient numbers to give Labour a majority, indeed Labour were nowhere near a majority.

But what’s been going on since then is interesting as Labour spokespeople seem to have been trying to build on their success of attracting young voters by suggesting, saying and promoting the righting off of student debts. Clearly that talk has given the impression (intended or otherwise) that already held student debts (going back to when Labour introduced Tuition Fees?) would be written off.

And that of course begs the question of what would then happen about the Tuition Fees that have already been paid off? Would it lead to the students who have paid off their debt getting a refund? The logical end of this policy process is that yes they should and obviously folks are drawing that conclusion.

Clearly Labour has by loose talk put itself in a position where there are great expectations over Tuition Fees being abolished, debts being written off and already repaid debt being refunded. Oh how a political party can talk itself into a a hugely significant and expensive policy stance!

But what seems to be going on now is that Labour are trying to talk the expectations down (backing off the pledges?) and saying they had not promised this that or the other.

Have Labour learned nothing from Clegg’s U-turn and how young people took against him?

General Election – Reflections of a radical lefty

Brexit – Well it now seemingly has huge support as both Labour and Tories were backed to pursue it. What happened to the 48% who voted against Brexit because many of them must have effectively voted for it this time around?

Nick Clegg – Probably for the best that he lost his seat. In many way he was one of the most intelligent and knowledgeable MP in Parliament but because of his poor judgement over tuition fees (he said he would oppose them and did the opposite) he found himself in a place from which there was no return. Indeed, he ended up being blamed for tuition fees when in fact they were brought in by Labour who, in this most recent election, pledged to abolish their own previous policy!

Diane Abbott and Teresa May – They had terrible campaigns, end of. Diane was seemingly incapable of fielding incoming fire whilst submarine commander May kept ducking under the waves to avoid the fire. Has any Prime Minister/Party Leader been so detached from an election campaign before?

Jeremy Corbyn – Well he did not implode as the hostile press said he would, in fact did reasonably well as a 1970’s socialist with a love of nationalisation. Maybe Labour kept sending in Diane Abbott because they knew she would be terrible so taking the pressure of Jeremy? If they did it was a well thought out move.

Ulster Unionists – Oh dear what will become of us now the fate of the Government is probably in their hands? Yes, they will get the blame for supporting the Tories when unpopular things are done but then again on Brexit and Welfare reform the Tories may be relying on Labour backing/abstaining based on recent history. It certainly makes me feel very uncomfortable that our country will in effect be in the hands of a political party which promotes sectarian politics! What’s the chances of it not ending up in tears?

Polarised UK? – Well yes when viewed from some angles but on the biggest issue of the day – Brexit – the Tories and Labour were actually united over pursuing what will inevitably be a disastrous economic process from which the poor will suffer the most.

Pensioners – How many pensioners actually voted Conservative despite their triple lock pensions (brought in by the Lib Dems) being under threat from the Tories? And what about the Conservative’s Dementia tax and their promised cuts to Winter Fuel Allowance? Did some pensioners vote Tory because they still want Brexit at any cost.

Young People – Many voted Labour because of their promise to abolish tuition fees but in doing so they also voted for some Labour MP’s who in effect support the restriction of freedom of movement, via Brexit, which is in no way in the interests of young people. And how on earth did Labour MP Kate Hoey survive? She has been the female bookend to Nigel Farage, representing a constituency which voted heavily (76.6%) against Brexit, yet she was re-elected with a thumping majority?

Tim Farron – He had a decent campaign with the limited exposure he got on TV and radio. He lacks the charisma of Charles Kennedy or Paddy Ashdown but he made a good fist of it.

Conclusion – Not a good election for us radical lefties but then again are they ever? Each time the deck chairs get moved around but the government of the day is always too right wing!

General Election – ‘I once led a huge protest against the Lib Dems – but this general election, I’ll be voting for them’

www.independent.co.uk/voices/lib-dems-labour-tuition-fees-jeremy-corbyn-tim-farron-brexit-general-election-never-again-a7728616.html

The Independent has this opinion piece on its web site – see link above

Quote ‘Last year’s Brexit referendum result was a catastrophe for Britain’s young people, with almost 75 per cent of us voting to remain. As the initial shock subsided, the Tories clarified their plans to crash us out of the single market, restrict our rights to live, work and study throughout the EU, and leave us isolated on the world stage at a time when, in Theresa May’s own words, the world needs the “liberal, democratic values of Europe”.’

With thanks to Roy Connell for the lead to this posting.

Cacoathes: an urge to do something inadvisable.

Jen Robertson dug out this interesting but rarely used word because on the odd occasion I am known for saying some inadvisable things but it did make me think of recent seeming uses of it all be it without it actually being said.

The EU Remain campaigning Labour Party doing a complete U-turn and voting for Brexit? Inadvisable

The classic of Nick Clegg saying he would oppose Tuition Fees and then dropping that opposition. Inadvisable

Labour saying they were going to defend the Sefton Green Belt and then voting to build on it. Inadvisable

The Tories saying in their 2015 manifesto that they wanted to remain in the Single Market and then voting to leave the Single market. Inadvisable

The UK voting to leave the EU in the advisory referendum. Inadvisable

I could go on but I am sure you get my drift…..

Liberals – Why it’s good to hear that some folks really don’t like them

I’ve been a Liberal all my adult life (having read the 3 major party manifestos from the 1979 General Election I realised I was indeed a Liberal) and throughout that time I have often heard people say things like Liberals are nice people, you care about people and other such comments.

Of course I have also heard just the opposite when former Lib Dem Leader Nick Clegg, foolishly in my view, dropped opposition to Labour’s Student Tuition Fees. In some ways it was not actually about Tuition Fees, it was about trust and not carrying out what folks thought the Lib Dems had said they stood for. By gum some lessons were learned there and rightly so!

Now with the incredibly stupid idea of us leaving the EU and most probably tipping the UK economy over the edge in the process Liberals have been leading the fight against Brexit – along with the SNP in Scotland of course. This has polarised opinions and many on the right in particular really do hate us Liberals for our pro-EU stance.

But whilst the country is going to the dogs liberalism is on the rise – I am told that membership of the Lib Dem Party is soaring to its highest levels in a very long time. And you know I don’t think it is at all a bad thing for Liberals to be unpopular with people who support Brexit and who hold illiberal views on many other things. Some of them may even have voted Liberal in the past not really knowing how pro-EU we Liberals are but they won’t be making that mistake again I am sure!

10 reasons to dislike Liberals:-

If you hate the EU
If you are a racist
If you like our appalling unrepresentative voting system
If you are intolerant towards people from other countries
If you support UKIP
If you care little for environmental issues
If you are a Little Englander
If you think that Donald Trump is a good thing
If you change facts to fit with your own views
If you can’t see how beneficial it is to have people from other countries working and studying in the UK

I could go on but I guess you get my drift.

The cause of Liberalism has clearly been reignited by the EU Referendum, especially with Labour being so all over the place on this most crucial of issues.

No, I’m happy that some folks really don’t like Liberals because that means we are doing the right things and not trying to be all things to all people. And that’s a lesson that Labour has seemingly not yet learned. When over 60% of Labour voters supported staying in the EU they switch away from their admittedly half hearted Remain support and choose to back Brexit and the views of their minority right wing supporters! And this from a party whose membership is now predominately left wing. You really could not make up the tangle Labour have got themselves into could you. Of course that’s why Labour members who are also liberal and pro-EU by instinct are leaving that party and joining the Lib Dems.

If the Lib Dems have always had an obvious problem it has been trying to nail down what the party stands for in the minds of the electorate. Well that nailing down has clearly been done now!