Tag Archive | "eu constitution"

Gordon Brown receives some useful advice

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Gordon Brown receives some useful advice

Two of Gordon Brown’s cabinet colleagues have offered some excellent advice for the party and therefore, one can assume, for the party leader. Gordon Brown, not renowned for listening, should take heed, because in spite of where the advice came from it is both critical and relevant. In fact, if I didn’t know better, it would imply that the party is trying to reconnect with the British public, even though it is likely to be too little, to late. In fact, because of where the advice came from, I suspect it may be more about the speech writers wanting to make political headlines, rather than a new political style or commitment.

David Miliband was quoted as saying, “We’ve also got to be honest…this is a political point rather than a policy one,” he said, “We’ve been good about talking the language of priorities but how good have we been about setting and sticking to them?”

Very true David, but you could have added that when you put policies in place, you should also include a way in which the priorities can be measured, with timesscales, so that the public can measure how good you are at achieving your objectives. Of course, honest politics also means keeping to your word, such as the issue that sticks in the craw of most voters, and that is the failure of the Labour government to provide us with a referendum on the EU Constitution as promised in their manifesto.

What is interesting however, was that in spite of this statement by Miliband, just a few hours later, in an interview with Jon Snow of Channel 4 news, he kept responding to questions by re-stating what the Labour party policies were, he repeated the same statement, 5 times! On each ocassion, he ignored the original question.

Hazel Blear said “We’re not going to win the next election by reading lists of achievement. They mean nothing. Nor will we win by denouncing the Tories record in government, because memories are fading and people have moved on.”

Spot on Hazel, the British public is tired of the same old rhetoric, of self-gratulation, of the Labour party carefully selecting which ‘achievements’ to tell us about, whilst carefully avoiding the many, many failures. And, after 11 years in government, the constant harping on about what happened under the previous conservative government. It is not relevant, but perhaps you should share your views with Gordon Brwn, whi in a later television interview kept telling us how much worse it was under the “Tory” government, made worse by his use of selective and in some cases, downright false statistics, what have become known as “Brownies”.

We are also tired of the prime minister at PMQ, side-stepping difficult questions by attacking the record of the opposition or LibDems, we want answers to the questions, not a game of ping pong that has no relevance to the original subject matter.

Gordon Brown has an opportunity at the Labour Party conference to re-launch himself, but I don’t think he will. If I were to predict what would happen, it will be the Labour party moving to familiar ground, old Labour if you like. A move to the left with Gordon Brown trying to secure his core voters with promises of freebies, paid for by me and you!

Posted in General, Labour | Comments (0)

Are British Members of Parliament really aliens?

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Are British Members of Parliament really aliens?

Perhaps it is just me, but I am beginning to believe that our MP’s are on another planet, not that they were born on another planet, just that once they become elected they appear to move to another planet.

We, the electorate, are almost always referred to as the “people” whenever our members of parliament or, more accurately, our ministers talk about us. Almost as if we are something different to them, of a different class, a different sub-species and, perhaps we are. Because MP’s simply remove themselves from the real world within months, sometimes days of being elected, or re-elected. They are quite happy to communicate with the “people” when they want something, such as your vote, but don’t expect them to talk to you again, at you, but not to you. Instead they will use any medium capable of delivering a one way message such as newspapers. Or perhaps, the internet savvy will use a blog, albeit many do not allow comments or moderate them to avoid anyone expressing an opinion that may differ from their own.

My point is, do any of the MP’s out there sound like us, talk like us or act like us. If we are being honest with ourselves, the majority don’t. For example, we make mistakes, but our MP’s in general and our minsters in particular, they never do. No, it is always a contractor, world events, the previous government, a civil servant, in fact anyone but themselves at fault. It is akin to driving a bus and claiming the accident was caused by weather conditions, the state of the tyres, the passengers, the previous owner etc., not because of anything the bus driver did. After all, it can’t be the bus driver’s job to check the tyres, the weather conditions or keep the passengers under control.

To err is human and believe it or not, most people can relate to that and the honesty that goes with being able to admit responsibility or culpability. Perhaps if more members of parliament were to admit the failures or weaknesses, we could repeat the entire saying, “to err is human, to forgive is divine”. In other words if they acted like the “people” they claim to represent, and admitted their mistakes, we would probably forgive them, because we can relate to something that happens to us all. In fact, at least making mistakes means we are doing something and it is better to do something and get it wrong occasionally, than it is to do nothing. Making a mistake and being able to admit to it can demonstrate our depth; provide a tangible example of our honesty and our integrity, not to mention our skills at objectivity and self-analysis. All the things, in fact, that we would expect of an elected member of parliament.

As soon as an MP is elected, they lose their ability to communicate with us, why, because they are then expected to toe the party line, they have to become part of a machine? So they must think about each and everything they say. They are no longer real people; they just spout the same party line, too scared of their own shadows to say anything else. This is a generalisation, but then, if we are honest with ourselves, this type of behaviour is a familiar trait with the vast majority of MP’s.

In the past, we have had real ‘characters’ amongst our MP’s most were not flamboyant, just outspoken. You may not have agreed with their politics, but at least they were prepared to step forward and say what they think, not the party hierarchy. Today, the number of characters amongst our 650 or so MP’s can be counted on one hand, simply because they are required to leave their opinions, beliefs and personalities behind if they want to get on or not be labelled a maverick. We would probably consider someone labelled by the party machine as a maverick as a person of principals, gravitas or of independent mind.

Once in parliament, our MP’s become robots, part of the machine where every line has to be rehearsed, every comment considered to ensure that is doesn’t offend anyone, difficult questions must be evaded and if you are fortunate enough to be a minister, then you determine what questions can, or cannot be asked. It is so far removed from the real world, that it is alien to us; therefore it is impossible for the electorate to relate to these elected officials. So, we have around 650 members of parliament ruling 65m people, but in such fear, that in truth, we are probably ruled by less people than in the Politburo of the Communist Party of China.

Take Prime Ministers Question Time, the PM always knows well in advance what questions will be asked, they also have a few stooges who are ready to raise an issue where the PM can preen his feathers and claim all of the credit. If the PM is rounded on by the opposition, he simply blames the previous government, in spite of the fact that Labour has been in government for 11 years, or refers to the voting patters of the other parties. Everything is staged, yes the PM or some of his ministers may be lampooned, but we are given carefully rehearsed and research answers that are delivered in such a way as to ensure that the government record or minister is cleared of any wrongdoing, responsibility or culpability. This is not real life, it is alien to us.

Gordon Brown has many, many problems to deal with, but the people, as we are patronisingly referred to, are quite forgiving, because we are normal. Imagine if you will, Gordon Brown standing up and admitting, that he should have put a little money away in the good times, to ensure that we could survive the difficult times, which were bound to come. He could admit for example, that there would be fewer pensioners in fuel poverty had he not raided their pension schemes. We can relate to these admissions because they demonstrate that to err is human. He could also admit that he made a mistake by allowing the Labour party to renege on its commitment to allow the people the opportunity to vote of the ratification of the EU Constitution. He could even offer to put that right, by allowing us the vote and saying sorry. He won’t because that would make him look like us.

Our leaders and our members of parliament need to start talking like us, speaking like us and acting like us if they are to re-engage with the public. We don’t all speak with one voice like the political parties, the vast majority of us are willing to accept our share of responsibility when things go wrong, we don’t disparagingly refer to a group of people like they are some underclass, we don’t rehearse our answers or have speeches written for us.

Members of Parliament have to re-engage with the public and to do so is quite simple, they don’t have to spend hundreds of millions on consultants to work out how. They just need to act like normal people with a big job to do. They need to talk to us as equals. They need to keep their promises and maintain their values, not sell them for a cushy junior minister’s post. They need to talk to the people that put them in parliament for the entire period of their term in office, not talk at them, but to them. Above all, they need to be humble, admit their mistakes, tell us what they are going to do to put them right and move on.


It is not difficult for our members of parliament to demonstrate that they are not aliens or resident on another planet.

Posted in Conservatives, General, Labour, Lib Dems | Comments (2)

Labour Government, what a bunch of losers

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Labour Government, what a bunch of losers

It would appear that only the Labour party believes it can win the next election. The latest ICM poll in The Guardian suggests that even if they changed their leader to David Miliband, they would still lose. Yet Gordon Brown was recently quoted as saying he would win the next election. Clearly he is not on the same planet as everyone else, but that does not come as a particular surprise to many of us, although whatever planet he is on must have an immigration problem with so many other MP’s from all parties there as well.

Apparently voters of all ages and classes believe that David Cameron would make a better Prime Minister.  Now before Cameron gets carried away, I should point out that virtually anyone, aged from 18 to 80 years of age would make a better prime minister. Until Cameron tells us what he and his party stands for, he can only expect to gain the top job because the Labour party are going to lose the next election, not based on merit. Of course, Cameron may be happy to gain the top spot in that way, but realistically, no self-respecting politician, if there is such a thing, should want to win by default.

Gordon Brown would be well advised to forget a relaunch, he lost the confidence of the public when he decided to follow Blair’s lead and deny the public the promised vote on the EU Constitution. We will never forgive his party or their leadership for that. On top of that, the man that lectured us on prudence, never put anything away for a rainy day in the good times, meaning there is nothing left in the kitty for the bad times. Worst still, the man that says we all borrow too much has done the same thing, taking us into a position where we have third world type debt. If that wasn’t enough, he has been writing off third world debt, a true master? I think not.

If we had a world class health service, a first class public transport network or even a world leading education system, then we could say it was worthwhile. But for all the money this government has squandered and wasted, we can see very little benefit. The only legacy this government and it ministers will leave is the one our children have to pay for. They should be ashamed.

There is nothing worse than a desperate man trying to be something he isn’t. Gordon Brown may have the title Prime Minister, but he will never be a prime minister. The top job should be based on merit, not something that is gained through a cosy fish supper. Do us all a favour Gordon and call an election now and Cameron, it is time you told us what you and your party stand for, before we all consider the relative merits of cutting the big party’s down to size by voting independent.

Posted in General, Labour | Comments (1)

Is this really democracy at work?

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Is this really democracy at work?

Lets face it, the only people that keep extolling the virtues of democracy are the politician’s and yet, here in the UK, some 60 million people are ruled by less than 650 members of parliament. So, if we keep hearing that we live in a democracy, then we will believe it…right? Now lets look at in a little more detail.

Every 5 years or so, we get the opportunity to vote for our preferred party, by electing a local MP who represents the party we support. Of course, some people support a particular MP, but the vast majority are thinking in terms of who will govern us, rather than who the local MP will be.

Each party creates a manifesto, theoretically, a commitment to their aims, goals and values. It is supposed to be a mandate on what they will deliver during their term in office, or if you like, a commitment or promise to the electorate. Now we have all seen how worthless that commitment can be, most notably in recent years with the broken promise made by the current government in respect of the EU Treaty. Made worse by their willingness to treat the electorate like fools.

The Manifesto

Now, when we vote for a new government, we are provided with a party manifesto, and each party will assume that if we vote them in, we support the manifesto verbatim…but this is so often just not the case. For example, with so many things needing reform during a parliamentary term, how many people would really have voted for a ban on fox hunting? Some, but not many I suspect. So, the manifesto of the party elected to government is likely to include many things that we simply do not agree with, but how can we communicate this to those that are supposed to represent our interests in government. We can’t and it was probably designed that way!

For example, the only people that believe the labour party will get into government at the next election, is the labour party, unless they are being honest, but that would be an unusual trait. Therefore, theoretically, the opposition can create a manifesto and include virtually anything they like. Granted, it can’t be too controversial, but if they offer for example, 80% of what the electorate wants, the chances are they can do pretty much what they want with the other parts of their manifesto.

So, in other words, we must accept all of the terms of the manifesto, if we want to support a particular party. So why can’t we also vote on the contents of the manifesto? If we assume that most will only have 10 or so key commitments, then surely they can include on the voting forms, a brief description and the opportunity for the voter to indicate whether they are for or aganist a particular manifesto commitment. Of course they won’t. This is either, because they assume we are all too stupid to be able to form an objective opinion on their commitments or, more likely, they believe it passes too much control to the electorate…! Ask yourself this, if we are capable of voting on a manifesto in its entirety, why aren’t we entrusted to vote on the individual issues that make up the manifesto?

Delivering on their commitments

In the real world, few people would get away with a failure to deliver on their commitments, whether they are in business or even in their personal lives. At some stage we are all called to account. However, when we look at a government, we should really be judging them in the same way as we would a public company, with the electorate as shareholders. Think about it, the UK government is just a huge company with social and economic responsibility.Therefore, we should really refer to is as UK Plc.

This government and others have been great supporters of corporate governance and as a consequence, we have seen a good deal of legislation brought in to “protect” the shareholders of these big companies. Whilst it is right to question just how far this legislation has gone, the principal was a good one. Why then, have we not seen something similar for UK Plc? If the chairman, or the board of a public company fails to deliver, the shareholders can oust them at the Annual General Meeting (AGM), yet we have to wait up to 5 years. Imagine if you will, a chairman of a company that has consistently failed to deliver, or has mislead his shareholders, having the right to determine when he leaves, or is put up for re-election. Ludicrous, isn’t it? Yet that is precisely what happens with UK Plc.

Now the government of the day will probably argue that there are various committees that scrutinise their actions. True, but whilst they may have the right to publicly admonish wrongdoing, they can’t fire a minister, or call for the government to step down. Nor is there anyone measuring the government’s performance against their manifesto commitments. Whenever a government fails to deliver, all they do is ask the electorate for more time at the next election, typically stating that they need to continue their “programme of reform”. So what have they been doing for the past 5 years, that is what we should be asking, if they make a manifesto commitment, they should make clear how long they expect it to take. Imagine the chairman or chief executive of a public company making bold commitments without placing a timescale on it, this just would not happen. Yet UK Plc, our government, get away with it time and again.

Can we expect the opposition MP’s to do anything about it? Unlikely, because they have no more wish to be judged by their delivery of manifesto commitments, than anyone in government.

Your local Member of Parliament

We could all be forgiven for believing that when we vote for our local MP, that he will or she will be representing our interests. That they will be our voice in the houses of parliament. Sadly, in most cases, the truth is invariably something completely different. True, some MP’s will raise matters in parliament which relate to local issues, perhaps a hospital, post office or school closure. But when have they ever asked you what you want? The only time you may get asked is if you bump into a prospective MP seeking your vote, but even if they do make promises to you, can you really trust them to deliver?

Ask yourself why, if MP’s are supposed to represent the interests and views of their constituent’s, every party has a ‘chief whip’. This person, or people, are there to ‘whip’ MP’s into shape. To ensure the government receives the backing of all their MP’s to support, what is often, a controversial issue that divides parliament and therefore, most likely, the country. Government Whip’s may cajole, bully or perhaps even offer incentives to an MP to ensure that he or she supports the government line. So when are your interests represented? Local MP’s are always keen on sending us details on what they have done for us, so they know how to write and theoretically, they know how to communicate, so why don’t they ask us what we think?

If our local MP is supposed to represent the local constituent’s, then surely they could provide the electorate with their own mini-manifesto and at the same time, tell us where they stand and therefore, how they will vote on national manifesto issues. That way, we the electorate, will know exactly what our MP stands for and will know that no deals can be dome behind closed doors. Too much to ask?

British voters feel let down by their MP's

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British voters feel let down by their MP's

  • I strongly agree (65%, 55 Votes)
  • I agree (13%, 11 Votes)
  • I am neutral (11%, 9 Votes)
  • I strongly disagree (6%, 5 Votes)
  • I disagree (5%, 4 Votes)

Total Voters: 84


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Posted in Civil Liberties, General | Comments (3)

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