Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Defeat is the best thing ever for Labour!!

From the shambles of yesterday I conclude there has NEVER been a brighter future for the Labour Party.

Having suffered an embarrassing and devastating defeat at the General Election I see the next year or two as a time of great opportunity for Labour. The other two parties, Tories and Liberal Democrats have teamed up to form a government and that’s fantastic news for Labour.

If I were a cynical type I might even suggest it was a deliberate policy of the Labour Party NOT to get into bed with the Liberal Democrats.

Think of the advantages Labour now has:

• Labour can take the moral high ground as the cuts begin to bite in public services. I can hear them now saying; “We would not have done that”

• Labour can now elect a new young inspiring leader following the (very dignified) departure of Gordon Brown yesterday.

• Labour can now re-group and rebuild the Labour Party creating a new refreshing, young, vibrant and positive identity – ala Tony Blair in his early days

• As the inevitable hard times hit us all in the next few months Labour can be the voice of those affected most. When NHS cuts result in hospital ward closures and nurse recruitment cut backs it will be Labour who will be opposing all such policies and saying “We told you so”

We’ve had 13 years of Labour Government and despite what the right wing media wants us to believe the NHS has never had as much investment as in the last 13 years. Critics have very short memories. The NHS has never been so effective in its 62 years existence.

Two examples:

• In 1997 it was VERY common – in fact normal - to wait for 2 years for surgery. Today, people are guaranteed hospital treatment within 18 weeks of referral from GP – usually much quicker.

• For suspected Cancer all patients have a guarantee of an appointment within two weeks with a Consultant wherever you live.

So ……

As disappointed as I am to see a Tory Government – this time supported by a bunch of wobbly, indecisive Liberal Democrats - I see this as a wonderful opportunity for the Labour Party to rise from the ashes and become even stronger in time for the next Election.

I simply cannot see this alleged ‘coalition’ working for long – probably 18 months max. There are so many fundamental differences in the core policies of Tories and Liberals.

Despite the current rose tinted view of the Tory and Liberal media it is simply a fact that politicians from different and usually opposing parties do not agree on things when the chips are really down.

Because I live in a democracy of course I wish the collation well but I predict we will be returning to the polls within 18 months.

Liberals and Tories are on their honeymoon today but rest assured the knives are being sharpened and when the honeymoon is over next week the fun will start with Labour watching for every broken manifesto promise of the Liberals and Tories.

When you have lots of men with lots of power and huge egos all in the same room it’s a recipe for disaster. Talking of men, have you noticed by the way the distinct lack of women at the top in BOTH the Liberal and Tory Parties during the last week? I cannot recall a single female MP from either party being interviewed on prime time news on radio or TV. More men just means more of the same old arguments and power struggles.

I love politics …..


Mark JF said...

Oh dear, Trevor. How old fashioned, cynical and 2009 your critique is. Here's another - progressive - way of looking at it.

First: the NHS. Yes, it has improved but by the same token it's been on an upward trend since the late 60's. So just as Labour have left it better than it was when they came into power, so the Tories left it better than it was when they came into power.

Second: Labour's legacy.
- Although improved, the NHS does not give value for money. Too much has been spent on salaries (e.g. extraordinary sums that can be earned by GPs, highly paid bosses who fail to deliver value) and not enough on equipment and facilities.
- Ginormous debt. Labour made a good decision to give control of interest rates to the BoE but were negligent in not pushing through further banking reforms, especially regarding risk management and liquidity requirements. As a result, London banks were most exposed and bore the brunt of the crisis in Europe. (And Brown's 'I did speak privately to some people about this' line simply doesn't cut it!)
- Failure to reform politics. House of Lords reform was botched and abandoned. The Jenkins report on electoral reform, which ironically recommended an AV system that would have won Brown more seats in the recent election, was welcomed by Blair but kiboshed by... G. Brown, Esq. The expenses scandal (all parties involved but mis-managed by an old-fashioned Labour speaker [Martin] who lost his job as a result) cemented public hatred of politicians.

Now: the current situation. The coalition brings together 2 parties who won 17m or 60% of the vote (Labour: 8.4m or 29%). Working together, they have to abandon many of each others more contentious policies and seek the common ground that 60% of the electorate can broadly agree with. [Let's not argue about how much: most people would like to cherry pick policies but vote for the party they disagree with the least.] I think that's miles better than a party with 10m / 35% of the vote taking power - don't you?

I'm now going to be guilty of the naivety I sometimes accuse you of but I hope we will see politics radically reformed:

- PR to elect Upper Chamber (let's break with the past and stop calling it the House of Lords);
- AV or AV+ for the House of Commons;
- Reform of constituencies so they are an equal number of voters;
- Right of recall over MP's;
- Greater contact between MPs and the people.

These changes have the potential to improve our democracy and accountability. I'd urge you to abandon cynicism, abandon an antiquated system where Governments are regularly elected with only 35% support, abandon old fashioned "Labour right or wrong" and get behind the new progressive, inclusive politics we are on the verge of.

Trevor Gay said...

Hi Mark – somehow I was expecting a comment from you my friend.

BTW - I see Barcelona can be considered an also ran inferior team this season in the Champions League – sorry - couldn’t resist that one :- )

We will see about this ‘new style’ politics as soon as there is a really controversial decision to be made. Politicians are politicians are politicians and they are mainly interested in protecting their own seat. They do not miraculously change. Tories, Liberals and Labour MPs are ALL the same.

I have said often enough on this Blog in the last 12 months that I had lost faith in Labour. The theme of this posting is that Labour now has a great opportunity to re-invent itself.

I don’t buy this ‘bosom pals’ silliness between Clegg and Cameron when only a week ago the same two human beings were ‘slagging’ each other ruthlessly day after today. It’s simply about power and ego and I’m really surprised you - of all people Mark - are taken in by politicians about anything :-)

Don’t let’s forget this alleged ‘new dawn’ is being driven by all the same people found guilty just a few months ago in the expenses scandal. The obvious and blatant falseness would be laughable if it were not so serious.

Time will tell – I give it less than 2 years.

Richard Lipscombe said...

Hi Trevor and Mark

This is an historic opportunity for Britain to change. Out here in the colony (Australia), as kid, I remember reading about the heroics of PM Peel and all those other great reformers. Now Britain has given Cameron and Clegg a leave pass to reform a nation. WOW! We read history in awe but right now Britain has a real opportunity to make the history that future generations will be in awe about.

I believe this government will run its full term. It will do that because it will move to the centre of politics and give Britain what it needs. As an outsider (forgive me) I think government needs to roll back 'The Nanny State'. Dismantle the 'structural debt' that has built up within government budgets for the past 3 decades. Take advantage of a falling pound sterling to boost exports and reduce imports - in the process to help reshape the productivity curve within British Industries.

This coalition is important because the Tory Party is now a British based and elected group of representatives and they would face difficulties with that simple fact if they governed alone. Clegg brings a handbrake on the worst aspects of the Tories (that is their ideology). Coalition is a political challenge and that fact will make the Cameron/Clegg government a more human, sensitive, expansive (ideas, ideals, ideology, etc) and thus better able to govern for all.

Britain is a better place today because Brown has gone. Brown prove to all of us that he was about the retention of power not Labour principles nor social equity. He was a power monger first and foremost.

Social equity will be enhanced if structural debt is re-engineered and the economy is restructured in ways that make it more export focused (again) with less public sector overhang (waste of resources) and an improved NHS (electronic records, decentralized control of budgets, etc).

Britain can become a power again if Cameron/Clegg can get their party members to think more about Britain's needs and much less about its simple ideologies. The challenge will be huge for Cameron and Clegg in political terms because they have to govern the ideologues in their respective parties. Ideologues are the real threat to Britain this century - a true coalition government is a potentially positive step towards a better future.

Cheers to you both.

Trevor Gay said...

Hi Richard and thanks for a thoughtful and measured input. Your political experience shows.

My comments are more from the heart than an experienced political perspective. It is always great to have your view that I know from our many discussions over the years comes from a highly informed political perspective.

Actually I genuinely hope that you and Mark are both correct about the dawn of a new era of political co-operation. I really hope it works and I am an optimist in all aspects of my life as you know.

I wish I could believe that two violently opposed fundamental dogmas could come together in 3days - as if by magic - for the greater good of the country.

I guess I am hoping I'm proved wrong and we will have 5 years of a fixed term government that changes the mould of British politics.

We will see.

Mark JF said...

Thanks Trevor and Richard - healthy debate!

Trevor - I think your comment sums up the problem: "I wish I could believe that two violently opposed fundamental dogmas could come together in 3 days..."

Why do we have to use divisive and incendiary words like "violently..."? [Does politics need to be so macho and confrontantional? Can't we have a more - dare I say it - feminine influence?] There's a lot that links most of the major parties, albeit with a difference of emphasis. You and I disagree about some things but I certainly don't feel "violently opposed" to you on a fundamental or any other basis. *

And of course this coming together will take more than 3 days. The point is that if you don't try, if you don't attempt to be the change you want to see, you'll never change.

* OK: I would point out you are totally, fundamentally wrong about soccer! I fear the Barca bubble may have burst but I am confident we'll be back. However, I stand by my prediction that Man Utd won't win a major trophy (Premiership, FA Cup, Champions League) in the seasons ending 2010 - 12. We've just seen Year 1 of that 3 year drought and I see no sign that it will improve. I also predict that Sir Alex will go by the end of next season - hopefully with his dignity intact but soccer isn't always very good at that.

Have a nice day!

JOHN O'LEARY said...

Hey Trevor, I hadn't seen your political passion before! I wish I were informed enough to jump in, but now that UK politics is headline news in the States, I may soon.

Mark JF said...

John - I wish I was informed enough to jump in... but it doesn't stop me!

Trevor Gay said...

John – I’d love to hear your comments - maybe you can help us from the left side of the pond – we certainly need plenty of help right now!

The reason I’m passionate about politics is because I see so much hypocrisy and low standards of integrity from so many of the people who are supposed to represent us.

The apathy of at least a third of our electorate who just couldn’t be bothered to vote in the recent General Election is I believe mainly due to the fact that it seems pointless and meaningless because of poor role model behaviours from our supposed leaders.

Trevor Gay said...

Mark – it’s a great discussion and thanks as always for your input.

I recognise that inflammatory language does not help – pity our MP’s don’t learn to use nicer language about each other and set the example to us mere mortals.

I agree with that we must give the ‘partnership’ some time. I genuinely hope it works and changes politics from acrimony to harmony but I’m also a realist.

As regards my beloved Man United – I’m not sure if we had a bet on your statement about trophies in the next three years but I’m happy to bet you a virtual pint you are wrong about United NOT winning one of the major trophies in the next two seasons …. I’ll happily take your virtual beer sir! :- )

Bottom line - Never under –estimate Sir Alex.

Mark JF said...

Trevor - the MP's work for us so it's incumbent on us to set them the example. Your claim that they fail to set an example is back-to-front. And I'll happily bet you a real pint about Man Utd!

Trevor Gay said...

A real pint it is then!

On setting the example - I like your thinking Mark – I’ve obviously convinced you over the years - the front liners are in charge and always right!!! – I seem to recall you disagreeing with me on that so I’m pleased you have finally seen the light … Have a peaceful evening :- )

JOHN O'LEARY said...

"I see so much hypocrisy and low standards of integrity from so many of the people who are supposed to represent us." That is pretty shocking. You don't see that in US politics.

Trevor Gay said...

Politically pure over there then John - I'm pleased to hear it my friend - I'll be on the next available flight :-)

JOHN O'LEARY said...

Trevor, c'mon over! You'll find that US politicians walk their talk. (Well, aside from 15 or 20 congressmen who opposed the national stimulus package but took credit for it in front of local constituents - or the dozen or so congressmen who have campaigned against the evils of homosexuality then were "outed" as gay - or the many heterosexual congressmen or governors who ran "family values" campaigns while having mistresses on the side. But who's perfect?) Yeah, I think political hypocrisy is pretty much a UK issue.

Trevor Gay said...

John - Thanks so much for that reassurance. I can now rest easily - It's just great to know that we taught our colonies so well :-)

Trevor Gay said...

Mark and Richard – is there any wonder the public are cynical?

You want to know the truth about the politicians leading this Coalition?

Here is an extract from Nick Clegg’s first speech as Liberal Democrat leader in 2008:

“The day before I was elected leader, Mr Cameron suggested we join them.

He talked about a “progressive alliance”.

This talk of alliances comes up a lot, doesn’t it?

Everyone wants to be in our gang.
So I want to make something very clear today.

Will I ever join a Conservative government?


You can read the full report here on the Liberal Democrats own website … but I suggest you be quick Mark because I suspect it may mysteriously disappear soon.

Please pass me the bucket next time I hear a Tory or Liberal Democrat MP say ‘We are doing this in the national interest’

Mark JF said...

Trevor - how many of us today stand by every single word they have ever uttered? Digging out a quote from 2 years ago when the political environment was totally different is simply desperate. "You have to be the change you want to see."

BTW: if you want to see a good example of digging out a quote from a couple of years back, try this. In his first speech to the Labour Party Conference as leader, G Brown, Esq promised: '...anyone over 18 illegally carrying a gun, a five-year sentence...’ Actually, sentencing is in the purview of the Judge, not the PM, whose government simply provide guidelines. And guess what? Under the guidelines provided by the Labour government to those judges, over 50% of people convicted of gun crime since Brown's promise have received less than 5 years. This is just one of 12 promises he made in that speech to his own party that didn't materialise. So, do I prefer new blood, new politics, new ideas to proven failure? You bet!

Marilyn Jess, DTM said...

Interesting debate.

My comment--do you in the UK have people who run as an Independent? Since you mentioned None of the Above as a choice that people there (and here, I may add) wanted, I believe that abandoning the party label offers a better choice.

One of my US Senators is an Independent. In small states like mine, VT, that can actually work.

And you are right on, mate, when you mention the appalling lack of female political leaders. We can hardly do worse.

Our Supreme Court is about to have three women on it, and I hope it increases to five, that will better reflect us. Only the insecure are fightened by that!

Trevor Gay said...

Hi Mark – Hear what you say and good points about Mr Brown. As you know on this Blog even though I am a Labour Party supporter I have been very critical of Mr Brown - in particular his leadership and integrity - over the last 2 years.

Mr Clegg said he would never be part of a Conservative Party – that seems a pretty big shift to me in less than 2 years!

I wish I shared your view that these politicians in 2010 are indeed ‘new’ I believe it’s just recycled sameness. Remember also it is still a honeymoon.

We will see.

Trevor Gay said...

Marilyn – Yes some people stand over here in the UK as independent but very rarely get elected.

It is still mainly a three party battle - Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat.

Personally I’d be happy to vote for an independent candidate if one stood in my locality but that has never been the case for me in my adult voting life.

I was watching Question Time on BBC TV last night and the Labour Party were criticised for being ‘out of date’ as we see this ‘new dawn in British politics’ led by ‘forward thinking dynamic and in touch’ Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg. Labour was accused of ‘living in the past.’

Someone pointed out that of 29 cabinet members in this new modern approach only 4 are women- none in senior roles - and only 1 is non-white. This compares terribly with the Labour Party’s high percentage of women and those from ethnic minorities in senior roles in the last three government terms since 1997.

Conservative and Liberal Democrats clearly see the ‘new British Politics’ as a cabinet stuffed full of white, private school educated, middle aged, middle class, males.

Progress Huh???

scott said...


Still revving up the engines!!!! I love your posts and they make me smile. We're a political mess in the States right now with illegal immigration separating States, a deficit that has multiplied by 4 times in the past year, and leadership that lacks Simplicity!!!! Jobless reports don't seem to reflect the population of people I meet and know out of work.

Very interesting times! Hope you like your new digs with Annie. Keep on running for the Carers!

Trevor Gay said...

Hi Scott and great to hear from you – you’ve been absent for a while. Hope things are well with you sir!

I think a period in opposition is just what Labour needed. They can watch from the sidelines and be critical of this new alleged collation. Already the cracks are appearing according to reputable newspapers like The Times on today’s front page.

Absolute max of 2 years before the whole charade collapses is my prediciton.

The two words Integrity and Politics should never share the same sentence – that’s probably a worldwide disease :- )

We are not running as a programme or in training right now but trying to keep fit nonetheless. I’m also doing plenty of voluntary work for Carers in various ways. I’m now a non executive Director and Trustee of a large charity for Carers in Coventry and I’m loving that role.

We’ve settled in to the new place now – life moves on.

Lots of other things to tell you about – will e mail you in due course.

Stay well Scott and thanks again for your support

hucknjim said...

Hi Trevor,

I've been following this debate with a great deal of interest over here in the U.S. All the talk about a new politics reminds me very much of Obama's pledge to bring the parties together. He did try but soon found out that the Republicans were more interested in obstructionism, and as a result the Democrats became determined to ram through their agenda. While I agree with most of the Democratic agenda, I bemoan the fact that Obama hasn't been able to inspire bipartisanship. Plenty of blame to go around on that score.

As to your side of the pond, I wish you the best luck with this coalition government; but politicians being what they are, I'd be surprised, along with you, if it lasted longer than 18-24 months.

Take Care,

Trevor Gay said...

Hi Trevor,

Hi John – good to hear from you again – hope you are well and still rattling cages in your hospital!

Your comments are crucial and relevant to this side of the pond.

If Mr Obama cannot bang heads together effectively with all his communication gifts there is simply no chance over here.

If we add together the communication skills and charisma of both Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg and multiply that figure by 100 we arrive at a total significantly LESS than that of Mr Obama who I believe is the greatest political influencer and communicator on the planet.

In today’s newspapers over here we see the previous leader of the Liberal Democrat Party, Charles Kennedy (still very influential) is opposed to this coalition and he states the Lib Dems should not have joined up with the Tories. We know there are numerous senior Tories opposed to the coalition but have not yet spoken up.

In a nutshell the knives are already out and the fun is about to start now that the four day false honeymoon is over.

The chickens will come home to roost inside 18 months.

J.KANNAN said...

Do you mean its labourious defeat??

I wish these labours does not suffer from "labour pain" thinking of their defeat.

All very good comments, I could not participate as I was on a rest-cum holiday may be for the past two weeks.


Trevor Gay said...

JK - Great to see you back and Commenting JK - we miss you here on "The Good Ship Simplicity" :-)

I hope you are continuing your recovery Sir!

Brian said...

Ring wing media? Trevor, you Brits must have a very different breed of cat on that side of the pond. Except for Fox, our media here in the US and Canada leans so far to the leftthey make Stalin look like Mother Theresa. The public's cynicism you speak of covers not only the politicians but the media as well.

I will admit to leaning just a bit to the right. I do agree with some Democratic policies, which makes me a strange duck here. The media has given Obama a completely free ride. Witness their reaction when Bush didn't respond fast enough to Katrina - he was pilloried in the press daily. Now look at Obama's response to the BP oil spill. Very little badmouthing about Obama's casual approach to it. I suppose they think if he would just lay his hands on the Gulf, He would heal it.

Politicians are frail vessels, just like you and me. Well, me anyway. The sad part is that they hold themselves out to be the Second Coming and as pure as the Virgin Mary. If they would just admit that they have the same shortcomings as the rest of us, perhaps we could focus on real issues instead of who is not yet out of the closet, or other such mindless drivel.

Trevor Gay said...

Cheers Brian – great comments – I appreciate your input. I agree about all of us being frail vessels – count me in on that one sir!

Why I love people like my retired political hero Tony Benn – now 85 years young - is he openly admits his own frailties and always has. He has humility by the bucket full – almost to the point of self deprecation. Sadly I cannot think of even one high profile politician in this country who gives me that confidence. They are all full of their own importance and too worried about their own image.

I admired Mr Obama from a distance during your election and it seems like his popularity rating is dipping dramatically.

I love watching your Presidential Election process and also our own General Election because at the time I always feel optimistic that real change may happen. But then as soon as the new government is elected and in power we start to see abuses of power immediately and so it goes on.

No wonder there is a lot of apathy from the public – hardly surprising is it?