Northernheckler's Blog

A Yorkshireman's adventures in the big Smoke

Wishful thinking on the Olympic clap-o-meter

Lots of activity on social networks tonight about current Chancellor & wannabe PM George Osborne getting booed before presenting a medal at the Paralympics, and ex Chancellor and ex PM Gordon Brown getting cheered.

Brilliant – sounds fantastic. Have a look at the videos and see what you think
Here’s George :

And here’s Gordon :

So what we’re seeing here, is (according to the twittersphere) George Osborne getting the most humiliating reception any politician anywhere has ever had. And Gordon Brown basking in the warm glow of the love that the nation has remembered that they have for him really and they want to have his babies.

Putting aside tribal loyalties though, Gordon’s applause is actually pretty much the polite Olympic/Paralympic cheer. Just about EVERYBODY gets one. If you want to know what a truly rapturous reception for a medal presenter (sorry flower presenter) is like, then the one that Sebastian Coe got before presenting Jessica Ennis’s Gold Medal bouquet took some beating (can’t find a decent Youtube video – guess you had to be there ! (I was !) )

Note that the guy who presents the flowers with Gordon Brown who no one has ever heard of, gets a cheer just as big as GB

Of course George Osborne did get booed. That in itself says something – no one else has been booed that I know of. But does it say much though ?

Booing the chancellor is a little bit like booing  Mr Punch – it’s a tradition – you could almost hear the giggles coming from the crowd.

I remember hearing bingo callers saying “Number 10 – Maggie’s Den” – and everyone in the room shouted back “Not for long !”

A few years later it was “Number 10 – Tony’s Den” – and guess what the response from the crowd was ?

This seems a lot like that to me – sure he’s unpopular – but most of the people booing there were just having a giggle.

This wasn’t a big deal. Not at all.

I sort of wish it had been though.

Meanwhile here’s Jessica Ennis getting her medal – I must have been so close to where this was filmed from, it’s surprising I’m not in the video. One of the best nights of my life

September 3, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Public Sector workers better off ? Pull the other one !

This morning saw the publication of a paper “Public and private sector terms, conditions and the issue of fairness” by right wing think tank Policy Exchange.

The sound byte from this paper is essentially that Public Sector pay is now significantly outstripping that in the private sector to the point where it is becoming unfair and reaches the conclusion that “significant reforms will need to be made to limit job losses in the public sector and to achieve equity and fairness in the labour market.”

There’s a fairly comprehensive debunking of the paper on the Guardian’s Comment is Free blog by Richard Seymour* “Public sector pay – the myths exposed”, but for myself I’m not even going to bother checking the methodology of the research, or fisking the report.

No – as someone who has spent most of his life working in the public sector, there are some truths which I hold to be self evident :

I’ve been a highly qualified teacher for some time – on occasion I’ve been also a highly paid one. I’ve never been paid what could really be considered a low salary since I qualified with first class honours in 1989.

I have however found that on several occasions friends and acquaintances with similar qualifications working in the private sector have earned considerably more than me – not just a thousand or two a year – but sometimes double or three times the salary that I earned. Almost all of them have suffered periods when their salary has dropped – not just frozen – but drastically reduced – because most have suffered unemployment on one or more occasions.

It’s become clear to me that the cycle of “boom and bust” is something which affects the private sector more than the public. When times are good, the rewards are great, and the hardworking and the successful reap the rewards in fistfuls. Meanwhile, the public sector plod along with below inflation rises – without bonuses and with seemingly uncompetitive salaries.

When the lean times come though the public sector still plod along, they get low pay increases, sometimes pay freezes but they are far more likely to keep their jobs, far less likely to actually suffer a loss of salary, and generally are protected from the ravages of the storm. The private sector meanwhile get pay cuts, lost bonuses and lost jobs – fairly quickly.

So over a cycle of several years it all tends to even out. For those brave enough to take the risks it more than evens out for the private sector big wheels – as they can make enough in the years of plenty to enable them to “buy low” in the lean years.

What Policy Exchange are asking for then is “an end to boom and bust” – which surprised me a little.

Perhaps they should employ Gordon Brown as chancellor

Gordon Brown

Gordon Brown wanted an end to boom and bust - Do Policy Exchange want the same ?

( There is a flip side to this however – during the past 12 months I’ve gone from earning c. £79k per year, to struggling to gain a permanent contract on around half that – I’d say that this is generally the exception rather than the rule – but does prove that public sector workers are certainly not immune to economic tribulation )

*Some of the more diligent of my readers may well have noticed that the Richard Seymour who did the blog isn’t the same one which WordPress has automatically linked to – thought I’d leave it anyway as it’s mildly amusing !

May 9, 2011 Posted by | idle banter, news, politics | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

David Miliband’s “Thank you” email to supporters

David Miliband

David Milliband

This was David Miliband’s “thank you” email to supporters tonight – not sure if it went to all Labour members or just to those who voted for him – but here it is anyway for anyone who missed it : -

”   I wanted to write to you this evening to thank you for the phenomenal support you have given me, and the Party over the last few months.

I am so proud of the campaign we ran together, it is a testament to each of you that as we campaigned for Labour, we also campaigned to make a difference in our local communities.

I was proud also to see my brother take the stage today, the new leader of the Labour Party, and know you will join me in uniting with Ed to take on this divided coalition.

As Ed said today, we must now secure the opportunity for Labour to serve the country again; to make it a more prosperous, more equal, more fair society.

Yours ever

David    “

September 25, 2010 Posted by | politics | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Can we stop fighting amongst ourselves please ?

UPDATE : The morning after writing this, I get David Milliband’s latest leadership email https://www.taomail.co.uk/labour-emails/web/100586/2168/2168/4/157/138869/6c9f25fffc902659faad22345e2dc0f1/ which I have to say covers a lot of the same ground as my post. He’ll be in my top two – still pondering about Ed Balls though

A bit of a rant this but I need to get it off my chest : -

Back in the days between Margaret Thatcher being elected in 1979, and Tony Blair being elected in 1997, politics wasn’t a great deal of fun for anyone who wasn’t a Tory.

The Tories to me lacked all conviction. No ideology, no guiding principles, other than make as much money as you can, protect your own people and to hell with all the rest.

They did however have a strong grasp of tactics and PR, and as unpopular as they were with me and many like me – that’s how popular they were with those who did vote for them. For every one of us that thought Maggie Thatcher was the wicked witch of the west, there were a band wagon load of Tories who thought that the Sun shone out of her proverbial.

If Labour were the main party of opposition they did a poor job of showing it. What we were treated to was a party that seemed intent on tearing itself apart – and more or less did. With the likes of Degsy Hatton and Militant, with the Campaign for Social Democracy led by Shirley Williams and the Gang of Four – which of course led to the breakaway SDP – condemning Labour (and any non-Conservatives) to years in opposition wilderness. There wasn’t much need for the Tories to rip apart Labour – the Labour party did it for them, in-fighting & factionalism were the order of the day

Wind the clock forward a few years and we find the Labour Party about to elect a new leader during it’s first year in opposition, after 13 years in power.

And what do we find. We have arguments about whether to go back to Old Labour, whether to revive New Labour, whether each leadership candidate is Brownite or Blairite, or in favour of a Core Vote Strategy. We have countless pundits slagging former Prime Minister Tony Blair off, we have supporters of Tony Blair slagging Gordon Brown off. Throw in a few nasty comments from Peter Mandelson – and the predictable backlash  – and it all starts to add up to an 80’s style Labour Hara-Kiri fest.

Can we all get a bit of perspective on this please ?

New Labour – it was new for the 1997 election – well over a decade ago – it’s not new anymore. Whether you love or hate New Labour – it’s time to move on

Tony Blair isn’t the leader anymore – neither is Gordon Brown. They both did good things, they both did things that weren’t so good – Get over them ! They are quite literally – history  !

I will say this though – Labour has to be the party which represents all people. Not just the poor, not just the workers, not just the under privileged. Everyone. If not, then every time someone is helped out of poverty or disadvantage, then they’ll have no choice but to abandon the party.

For me the broad church nature of the Labour Party should enable us to ensure that we can be the party that works for all people, not just some, and that we can secure votes from all sections of the public in future.

So whoever you vote for in the Leadership ballot, please remember what it says on the back of your membership card : “by the strength of our common endeavours we achieve more than we achieve alone”

For me that means fighting the Tories, and not each other.

September 1, 2010 Posted by | blogs, news, politics, twitter | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Bigotgate

A few months back my wife and I reluctantly decided to try and get a cleaner for our home. I say reluctantly because I feel uncomfortable about the idea of anything resembling the idea of having a domestic ‘servant’  – I feel such an arrangement is of its nature demeaning to the employee cast in the role of servant. My wife however suffers from a neurological disability, and I often work 12 hours per day or  more, 5 days per week. We struggle to keep up with the cleaning. So we set out to see who we could find.

We telephoned a number from a local free newspaper, and were visited at home by a pleasant lady – I’d say she was in her mid 40’s (as we are) who told us about her cleaning business – we were relatively impressed, and decided to give her a chance to do our cleaning. She talked for some time and during this time she issued the following statement :

“I’m not racist but, a lot of these Polish cleaners that you see these days, they have different standards from us.”

It’s fair to say that I bristled at this.

Why ?

Well, because I anticipated that she might start to make racist comments about Poles (she didn’t); because most people I’ve come across who do make racist comments invariably start their diatribe with “I’m not racist but …”; because my best friend is a Pole – and I’ve known him since I was 12; because my recently deceased Aunt, though not Polish, was Eastern European, having come to the UK as a Latvian refugee as a young girl; because I’ve employed at least a dozen Poles – either teachers or teaching assistants, in my role as Headteacher of a special school – and found them without exception to be hard working, usually very talented, and in at least one case to be an exceptionally gifted teacher; and finally because I deplore racism – and by extension the racists who promote it.

In short I thought it likely that she was bigoted and racist.

Would I have been justified in saying that to her ?

Well no, I don’t think I would. She didn’t actually say anything derogotary about Poles – just that their standards might be ‘different’ – and she presumably has come across more cleaners from Poland in our local area than I have (not difficult – I haven’t come across any – or any Poles either actually come to think of it) – she may well be right.

So I held my tongue, and engaged her to clean our house on a weekly basis – starting in a couple of weeks time.

Several weeks down the line I still don’t know whether she was bigoted, but I do hope that Polish cleaners do have different standards, because this English one never turned up.

However – my point is, although this woman never technically said anything specifically racist, she hinted to me that she might do – and I was wary – and expecting it – but it never happened. For me to jump to conclusions about her bigotry, would have been just presumptuous as it was for her to jump to conclusions about Polish cleaners.

Today on television Gordon Brown encountered a woman who similarly came out with a comment – out of the blue – about Eastern European immigrants. She said “where are they all flocking from” shortly after she’d said something about vulnerable people not getting access to help, and people who do get help not being vulnerable. And in common with the lady that I talked to,  she didn’t actually say anything racist  – but like Gordon Brown, I would have been tense  in this situation, and I’d have been expecting her to make a racist comment at any second – and yes I probably would have leapt to the conclusion that she was bigoted.

So was he justified in saying so – well no he wasn’t – he’s the Prime Minister and he should be extra careful not to jump to conclusions  – extra careful as well not to forget that he’s wired for sound.

Not that I can’t understand how and why he said what he said. To be constantly under the media spotlight all the time, having them judge your every word, every gesture, every look must be so exhausting – to get into the safety of the car away from the glare of publicity – I feel it is entirely natural that a Prime ministerial candidate, would voice doubts and anxieties about his performance, would question how well his team were doing, and would say things that weren’t particularly complimentary about a woman who’d just given him a tough time – even though he’d dealt with it rather well actually.

Understandable. It still doesn’t make it alright though.

But let’s be honest about this. He didn’t say this the second he got in the car, as the videos running on BBC and Sky news would have you believe. It was a short while later – he should have been out of earshot, and he was off air (but not unrecorded). His comments weren’t either blurted out live – they were recorded and played back after the event. And though his comments were unjustified, the conclusions that he had clearly jumped to weren’t entirely illogical.

That he apologised, both to the lady in question, and to Labour Party members (to whom I suspect he’s done the greater disservice) is to his credit.

So to my mind that’s more or less it.

Do I think Gordon Brown was right to do this ? – No I think he was stupid – it was an amateurish mistake

Do I think this will harm the Labour Party ? – I’m not sure – clearly it will with some people – others I am sure are getting heartily sick of the smugness with which the TV pundits are making news mileage out of this – and will quite possibly turn towards Gordon rather than away from him – we won’t really know until election day. I’m sure that many of them are wondering whether Sky would have published any off the cuff comments by David Cameron, had he left his microphone switched on in the car. I suspect the answer is no – but also suspect that Tory supporters will be quick to point out that David Cameron wouldn’t leave the microphone switched on in the first place – which would be a fair snipe.

Will it change the way I vote ?

Well I’m not pleased that this has happened – but I’m even less pleased with the barrage of nastiness that has followed the incident on television, and will presumably continue to do so in the papers tomorrow – so “No !”,  it will not change the way I intend to vote.

I’m still voting Labour

April 28, 2010 Posted by | Family, politics, racism | , , , | 2 Comments

Gordon Brown’s email to Labour Members

For those of you who are not Labour Party members, but are interested in what Gordon Brown said to us all, here is his email from earlier this afternoon :

As you may know, I have apologised to Mrs Duffy for remarks I made in the back of the car after meeting her on the campaign trail in Rochdale today. I would also like to apologise to you.

I know how hard you all work to fight for me and the Labour Party, and to ensure we get our case over to the public. So when the mistake I made today has so dominated the news, doubtless with some impact on your own campaigning activities, I want you to know I doubly appreciate the efforts you make.

Many of you know me personally. You know I have strengths as well as weaknesses. We all do. You also know that sometimes we say and do things we regret. I profoundly regret what I said this morning.

I am under no illusions as to how much scorn some in the media will want to heap upon me in the days ahead.

But you, like I, know what is at stake in the days ahead and so we must redouble our campaigning efforts to stop Britain returning to a Tory Party that would do so much damage to our economy, our society and our schools and NHS, not least in places like Rochdale.

The worst thing about today is the hurt I caused to Mrs Duffy, the kind of person I came into politics to serve. It is those people I will have in my mind as I look ahead to the rest of the campaign.

You will have seen me in one context on the TV today. I hope tomorrow you see once more someone not just proud to be your leader, but also someone who understands the economic challenges we face, how to meet them, and how that improves the lives of ordinary families all around Britain.

Regards,

Gordon

April 28, 2010 Posted by | Election 2010, politics | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Poll position

Seems that the latest opinion polls are the next big thing in the election campaign.

I’m not so sure if I’m honest, We’ve seen a lot of widely different ‘exit polls’ after the “Leaders debate” – seemingly working every permutation of who came in 1st, 2nd or 3rd using apparently the same data source (You ! , the public !), and polls which have been published incorrectly then retracted and “nationalised” based on local samples. And the Mail on Sunday now seem to using someone called  BPIX to do their polls – who ever they are.

It does make me wonder whether they’re going round getting lots of different polls done and just publishing the ones which make most impact. Certainly Sky News seemed to run about 4 different versions of their after debate poll on Thursday night, presumably because the real results didn’t say what they wanted.

Despite this though, I’m  not dismissive of them. If these were favouring Gordon Brown rather than Nick Clegg, I’d be tweeting from the rooftops with the rest of the Labour twibe. So let’s take them at face value – even if they aren’t necessarily all that reliable.

The most sensational of these polls seems to place the Lib Dems as front runners in first place, with Labour in 3rd. As various commentators have pointed out (and sorry for the lack of links tonight – I don’t have the time !) – this could lead to the bizarre situation where Labour ended up as the largest party in parliament, with the fewest number of actual votes; and perhaps the Lib Dems with the fewest seats, and the largest share of the votes.

Will this be the turning point where the Lib Dems finally come of electoral age and seize power ? Or will it be (as Iain Dale has said on his blog) – David Cameron’s Wobbly weekend ?

Well I’m not sure – but I will say this – These polls would certainly appear to have woken the public up, and all of the parties. Last year when we had the Euro elections, the polls looked bad for Labour – not much better for the Lib Dems, and we had a frustratingly predictable low turnout bad news election.

The political geeks (like me)  have done their best to liven things up since then – there’ve been better polls for Labour, and lots of games with posters and stuff. Still – until last week – none of it was really catching the wider public interest.

But now it is. Now we’ll see who can run an election campaign.

The polls don’t show what WILL happen. They show that anything CAN happen.

The turnout at the last election was 61.5 % – imagine if just half of the remaining 38.5% decided to vote this time round.

Anything really COULD happen.

So what I’m taking from these polls is this : It really is  #GameOn !


UPDATE : Just came across this blog on the Sky polling after the ‘Leadership Debate’ – it’s a beauty. Respect to Loveandgarbage ! : Leadership debate – pie in the Sky

April 17, 2010 Posted by | Election 2010, news, politics, twitter | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Truth takes a pounding after Leaders Debate

This headline from the Telegraph was quite widely trailed on Twitter today : Pound falls after Nick Clegg’s election debate success

Now admit it – looking at that, I’ll bet you thought that the currency markets had gone into free-fall, worried at the prospect of a Lib-Dem dominated hung parliament.

There might be the odd one of you that thought, hey Nick’s a nice guy, but if it’s going to send the City into turmoil, then I’ll stick with the Tories.

Well that’s just what the Telegraph wanted you to think.

Have a scout around and you’ll find that Nick Clegg’s apparent triumph (and actually I did think he came off best), and any fall in the value of the pound are in fact totally unrelated incidents.

How can I be so sure ?

Well mainly because the pound hasn’t nose-dived through the floor. Hasn’t lost all that much ground. In fact it’s been on an upward trend against the dollar since approximately the 25th March. Today’s fall of around 0.6% (representing less than 1 cent against the dollar, doesn’t really affect that trend. BBC NEWS | Business | Market Data | Currencies | Sterling GBP v US Dollar USD and in fact, at the time the Telegraph report was being read on-line by millions this afternoon, the pound was actually increasing in value against the Euro – although it finished the day slightly lower.

So all in all it’s been a relatively uneventful day for the pound – and whether it had gone up or down, it would have been nothing to do with Nick Clegg, Gordon Brown, or David Cameron.

Remember that the world doesn’t really revolve around financial traders, and never forget that democracy will always be far more important than a good day’s profit in the City.

So to the general public I say – Ignore the Telegraph’s silly scare stories – and vote for the candidate you think will do the best job.

And to the Telegraph, could I suggest you change your headline to “Millwall Crash against Huddersfield, after Cameron fails in Leaders debate” – it has after all got exactly the same cause and effect relationship as your original article, and a little bit more truth about it.

Town goalscorer Peter Clarke (Picture is the Telegraph's)

Town goalscorer Peter Clarke (Picture is the Telegraph's)

April 16, 2010 Posted by | economy, Election 2010, Football, politics | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Leaders Debate

Well I watched some of it (although missed start because I was collecting Labour leaflets to deliver) (and if you think I’ve ever done that before you are seriously mistaken)

I’m not going to do blow by blow, I found it hard enough to keep my attention throughout. Why ?

Well because I enjoy politics, I find it interesting – the nuances, the similarities, the differences, the tactics, the different means to the same ends, the same means to different ends – but a programme of this nature boils it down to a talent show – and as we all know in the UK talent shows throw up some bizarre results – witness the Jedward & Subo phenomena if you need any more evidence.

Actually it’s probably closer to the mark to compare it with a Harry Hill TV Burp style decider : “I like David Cameron, but I like Gordon Brown and Nick Clegg as well – but which is best ? There’s only one way to find out – FIIIGHHT !!”

There is no room for subtleties in a debate of this kind – and OK I freely admit that this makes it more attractive to people who aren’t as fired up by politics as I am (and never forget that however uninterested they are, all of their votes count just as much) – so it puts me off.

The first question I caught was about “Immigration”. Clearly they all thought that this is an issue that they’re likely to get a tough time on, so all three did their best to be “tough”. OK – but I’d have liked to have found out how it makes it  any easier to recruit decent trained teachers in London – but I accept that there’s no way that could have been discussed tonight.

Similarly when we got to “Education” we didn’t get anything I was interested in – but promises of how Headteachers were going to be helped to be “tough” – David Cameron giving his anecdotes (which by the way, if we’re going with the X Factor theme, were about as deep and meaningful as dedicating his performance to his poor old Mum who died last year, and it was her life ambition to hear him sing Whitney Houston on telly) related the story of a pupil excluded from school then reinstated on appeal. The Tories will take away the right of appeal.

Well there could have been a fair old discussion about that – A person’s whole career possibly being decided without a right of appeal on the say so of one headteacher ? And what about the appeals of those parents with children with special educational needs, that all parties want to support in their battles with schools and local authorities – don’t they count either ? At what stage does a misbehaving pupil become a disabled one ? and wouldn’t it be convenient to treat them the same anyway – save a lot of hassle, and keep the results and attendance looking good. We don’t get any of that though, no questions about where excluded pupils go once they’ve been kicked out (because believe me it starts getting expense when they’ve been kicked out of few).  No discussion either of how a headteacher could have such a poor relationship with his Governing body that she ends up in a situation like that.

To be fair to the party leaders, there’s no way they had the chance to reach that high level of debate.

So I’m disappointed, but I knew I would be. Sorry I can’t give you any more insight than that.

If I were to venture a few observations though :

  • Gordon Brown looked relaxed, if fumbling his lighter notes a little – certainly far more convincing than just a few months back.
  • Nick Clegg looked nervous – but I’d venture suitably nervous – he’d be stupid if he didn’t – came across strongly as I expected – but then he has so little chance of being elected that he can promise whatever he wants with no real fear of having to deliver
  • David Cameron was weaker than I expected. I feel he is easily the strongest weapon in the Tory arsenal, and I was surprised at how he faltered, and how he fell back on arrogant repetition of things like “death tax”, and trying to convince people that the National Insurance rise would take money OUT of the treasury – I felt he’d been briefed too heavily by advisors – would be better to follow his instincts.
  • I was disappointed neither Clegg or Brown homed in on Daniel Hannan’s comments about the NHS and questioned whether Cameron has the authority and bottle to properly slap him down – at present we have the official line being that the Tories will increase spending on NHS whilst other prominent Tories want to abolish it. Kick them out if you can Dave !
  • Surprised at the ITV poll showing David Cameron so far behind – although I expected Nick Clegg to be ahead – not that it matters – the effect that it has on general polls (and ultimately the election) will be the telling statistic.
  • Truly impressed by the traffic on Twitter during this – must have broken all records – not sure what election night will be like. I gained 8 followers during the show !

Any way I’m off to bed now to get ready to deliver Labour leaflets tomorrow. I’m still voting Labour

April 15, 2010 Posted by | Election 2010, politics, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Gordon Brown & National Debt – why I think he’s got it right

This morning I came across this image of the world, sent via Twitter. Yfrog – u6c – Uploaded by tjerubbaal

It intrigued me – it shows areas of the world scaled according to their overall Government debt, and coloured according to the debt as a proportion of Gross Domestic Product. It carried the caption from Twitter user @tjerubbaal “Truly disturbing image: are you paying attention @conservatives, @labour, @libdems? Tinkering won’t work.”

The poster is clearly not making a party political point – not between the three main parties anyway. Which is what intrigues me – because I feel quite strongly that the understanding of this issue, is at the heart of the difference between the Labour party and the Conservative party at the current time.

Forget about whether you understand the diagram or not – it’s not particularly easy to comprehend. Just know this – the debt which the country has taken on really is large – as @tjerubbaal points out – some might say disturbing. There’s no dispute amongst the political parties about that.

You could be forgiven though, if you’ve been reading the popular press, or listening to the Conservative election campaign, that this has come about from some bungling incompetence by Gordon Brown & his chancellor Alistair Darling. You would be wrong. the scale of the debt is intentional – and marks the dividing line between the philosophies of the two major UK parties.

The tradition in recent years among Conservatives has been in favour of light touch Government – ‘small government’ as it’s now being sold. The idea being that the key players in the world’s and the nation’s affairs will effectively manage things with least intervention (interference ?) from outsiders like Governments. The ‘market’ we are told will self regulate – it will have times of lean and times of plenty – in Labour-speak times of boom and of bust. The wise prepare for this, and put by in times of plenty/boom to see them through in the lean/bust years.

This approach carries a certain logical appeal. It has a simplistic fairness, but it is harsh because in lean times, the people who suffer the most are the people who are least able to put aside plenty in the boom years – not the entrepreneurs, landowners, and businessmen – but the workers who work for those people. This was the case in the early 1980’s when Margaret Thatcher argued “There is no alternative !” and allowed market forces to work through the hardship of a recession, meaning millions of people faced mid to long term unemployment.

It also has the disadvantage that, as we have seen recently, the market doesn’t always work well in regulating itself, and there are those operating within the market, who take reckless risks, which put the prosperity of whole nations at risk.

The new Labour approach, under the Blair & Brown government, embraced some aspects of the Conservative free market approach. Labour realised that the nation as whole tended to benefit from being a prosperous trader – but sought to smooth out the cyclical peaks and troughs of a totally free market approach, whilst allowing the market to benefit the economy. (It is a significant shift from a traditional socialist approach).

No return to boom and bust was Gordon Brown’s mantra as chancellor – one which is now often ridiculed.

It was however a highly successful approach – but it fell foul of a factor over which no chancellor can truly have control – the UK economy is not isolated from the World economy. We can dampen the effects of the outside world, we can ignore them for a time, but ultimately we are interdependent with the economies of every other nation, and we are prone to the booms and busts of their economies as well as our own.

As Gordon Brown yesterday acknowledged one of the errors which was made was to grant the financial institutions too much freedom, and provide too little intervention (interference ?) in their affairs. BBC News – Brown admits he made a mistake over bank regulation . The unfettered actions of those institutions then led in large part to the Global recession from which we are now slowly recovering.

For the Conservatives then to blame Gordon Brown for the recession is grossly unfair – in the first place the errors to which he admits, are ones which any Conservative chancellor would have been clamouring for – small Government, free market, and giving business the opportunity to manage its own affairs. These are actually the self same philosophies which the Conservatives wish to re-impose.

Secondly to blame Gordon Brown for the actions of banks, because he didn’t regulate them is akin to blaming householders, who didn’t have the right locks or alarm systems for having their house burgled. Sure they could have made things more difficult for the burglars – but the blame lies with the house breakers. Similarly, whether regulated or not, financial institutions in Britain and around the world, took irresponsible actions which have affected everyone.

Personally though I don’t feel it’s helpful to apportion blame – we are where we are. What is important is how we react to this. This brings us back to the debt which Gordon Brown has incurred.

Margaret Thatcher said “There is no alternative”. (There is no alternative – Wikipedia, )

She was wrong – Gordon Brown has shown this. His actions have been taken to dramatically reduce the impact of the recession, to prevent long term mass unemployment, to keep the economy active, and to put off the difficulties of repaying to a time when the nation will be more easily able to bear it.

The Conservatives still argue that this is wrong. That things should be left to take their course, and massive cuts in public spending should be imposed as soon as possible in order to hasten the economic recovery – but that this is the only way that recovery can happen. The mass unemployment and prolonged economic hard ship for many are seen as the price that has to be paid.

Whilst blaming Gordon Brown for the recession may be unfair, the Conservatives’ criticism of his borrowing to tackle the recession is not without logic. Their policy is philosophically defensible.

It is however a philosophy to which I do not subscribe, and which I feel is morally reprehensible.

So be in no doubt – that huge debt that is illustrated in the diagram in the link above  is not there by accident. It’s there because there is an alternative, and that alternative has protected us from the worst ravages of the recession – which may well still come back to bite us if we are foolish enough to elect a Tory government on May 6th.

[ Just as a test I’ve got Labour’s Eddie Izzard election video – let me know if you can’t see it ]

April 15, 2010 Posted by | economy, politics, twitter | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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