Northernheckler's Blog

A Yorkshireman's adventures in the big Smoke

Mandate ? what mandate ?

I write this still in the strange spaced out daze that comes from doing two ‘stay-up-all-night’ sessions in one week. So I apologise in advance for typing errors, and make no apologies for not cross linking and evidencing everything I write.

David Cameron tells us that Gordon Brown & the Labour party have lost their mandate to Govern, and seems to believe he is now ordained as the next prime minister.

Leaving aside the fact that when he made his comments there were barely a handful of results in, and most of them had fallen to Labour, he is of course right. The mandate to govern – in the normal run of things – comes from having an overall majority – enough seats to outvote all of the other parties put together. Gordon Brown does not have that.

David Cameron’s Conservatives have more votes, and more seats – so can claim a certain amount of legitimacy in saying that they have a moral right to form the next Government. Problem is though that they don’t have a mandate either. In fact its clear that there are more people who voted against the Tories than for them, and more members of parliament who are not Tories than are.

So it becomes time to do a deal. Well to all left leaning political thinkers, the obvious deal is between Labour & the Lib-Dems – they share many ideals – and in particular there is a clear advantage in that for many in both parties it would be an opportunity to once and for all change the way in which Governments are elected, and ensure that a scenario such as today’s does not happen again. So Lib-Lab it is then.

Except David Cameron and the Murdoch empire think that would just be that nasty old Gordon Brown hanging on to power by any means they can – and it would just be so wrong. So instead of Lib-Lab, instead we get Con-Dem – and it already has been condemned by many, who can not imagine that the Lib-Dems and Conservatives have anything much at all in common. Except that this is really as things stand the only combination of parties that will deliver sufficient numbers for a majority – always assuming that none of the Conservatives or Liberal Democrats jump ship to another party.

But one way or another it would seem that one of these two options is likely to become reality.

I think both of these solutions are utter stupidity.

If our politicians wanted to transform British politics they would agree to form a government along these lines :

  • not a two party coalition, but a three party Government of National Unity.
  • Gordon Brown to step down – We love you Gordo, but your time has come – it’s clear that the public have not embraced your leadership – resign !
  • David Cameron, well in the eyes of the public he has credibility, having gained the most number of seats, but in his own party’s eyes – you’ve failed Mr C. you’ve blown an ‘unassailable’ lead – Stand down and move on.
  • Nick Clegg – well it could be argued that he’d messed up big style as well – certainly his party must be the most disappointed at their results, but actually I’d say no – Make Mr Clegg Prime Minister
  • Next form an interim cabinet to select the longer term cabinet – each party to select 3 members who will have one week to thrash out the key posts – and to share the key posts between the parties.
  • The Government then takes office – running a programme of legislation and Government agreed by the new Cabinet – with the whip removed from all members – they are always allowed a free vote.
  • The Parliament will sit for a fixed term of 18 months. In the Autumn the parties will select their leaders if necessary, at party conference
  • At Christmas or thereabouts we hold a referendum on different modes of electoral system
  • An election is called at the end of the fixed term, and is held according to the new rules.

So we get stability, decisiveness, power sharing, a mandate to Govern, and an end to the disillusionment with political parties, and a brand new system of electing our parliaments.

A bit far fetched ? Naive even ?

Well maybe it is – but I’d prefer to use words like “radical” or “progressive” – because if British politicians are ever going to win back the trust and confidence of the electorate then they need to do something radical and progressive now – and stop sulking and doing deals to try and prop up the old political systems.

First past the post is designed for a two party system – as is our parliamentary system – yet in most constituencies yesterday we had 4, 5, or more candidates – First past the post doesn’t work – it distorts the picture of the vote, effectively disenfranchises voters for non-incumbent parties in safe seats, favours established parties, and throws up ridiculously stupid hung parliaments where the smallest group of members, effectively holds the other two to ransom. It has to go

I think it’s fair to say that I don’t think my proposal will be implemented

May 7, 2010 Posted by | Election 2010, politics | , , , , , | 3 Comments

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

Things that bug me ! – Part 1


Sorry I haven’t published anything for a while  – I’ve been a bit busy.

I’ll try and make up for lost time.  I’m planning a small series of blogs on “Things that bug me !” – because there have been a few that have just lately !

First  thing that bugs me  is a person who insists on leaving repeated comments spouting the same untrue garbage over and over again on my blog. In case you’re reading, (and I hope not) – I only get to see your comments if I care to check the spam trap – otherwise they’re just deleted. I’ve manually deleted all of your other comments too, even the ones I originally let through. My advice to you is to start your own blog, oh and try and make it more interesting. And get out more.

Returning to my theme …

Things that bug me :  The rubbish being spouted about the rise in National Insurance contributions.

Since the budget we’ve seen lots of media outlets, including my old favourites The Mail give David Cameron unwarranted publicity because he doesn’t think raising National Insurance contributions is a good idea. The Mail managed to call it a “stealth tax” Osborne: I’ll cut Labour’s National Insurance stealth tax on jobs | Mail Online . Call me contrary but announcing a tax rise in the Budget, live on television, in Parliament, doesn’t really seem all that stealthy. In fact I’d say it’s really making it rather obvious.

Making it so obvious though didn’t really make it so that the BBC noticed it. Take a look at their At a Glance coverage from Budget Day.BBC News – At-a-glance: Budget 2010 key points – scroll down to the bit about National Insurance. Can’t find it ? Try searching for “National” or “insurance” or “NIC” – still not got it ? No that’s because they didn’t think it worth mentioning.

Strange then that they should now be making such a fuss, this article being one of several which gives prominence to “Business Leaders” disparaging views of the rise in NICs :  BBC News – Cameron says Labour on ‘wrong side of working people

I could if I wished look at the contradictions in the Tory position – which seems to shift from draconian cuts one day, to who knows what the next, but really that isn’t what ‘bugs’ me so much – that’s their prerogative as a political party.

What really annoys me is that so many media outlets are giving such credence to these “Business Leaders” – many of whom are donors to the Tories, and who have no more qualification to speak on this subject than anyone else, and presenting it as “balanced news”

David Cameron says that it “is an impressive list of businesses” –  Excuse me – 41 ? that’s very few indeed.

I don’t run a business I run a school. I don’t oppose the increase in National Insurance rise – is that news ? No of course not – and neither is the opinion of these “executives”

They are of course entitled to their opinions, and the Conservative party are entitled to theirs, and of course to change the budget if they are elected.

Which sort of draws attention to the fact placed in smaller print in most of these articles – the rise doesn’t come in until April 2011 – so actually, if it IS likely that increases in NICs will affect the economy adversely, the Labour government would also have at least 2 opportunities – the pre-budget statement, and the next annual budget to change direction if need be.

But the BBC – who are supposed to be impartial – choose not to make a big issue of that.

The 1% rise is of course, actually a half a percent rise on what was already planned in 2008’s budget – and somehow that didn’t seem to make as many waves back then.

This is biased and partisan reporting – the BBC in particular should have higher standards than this.

April 2, 2010 Posted by | blogs, economy, news, politics | , , , | 1 Comment

Who loves the NHS ? Is it true ?

[ UPDATE : This article now re-posted at House of Twits : Front Bench Blogs Many thanks ! ]

Sorry but I just can not resist posting this about David Cameron’s reported meeting with the radical nursing group Nurses for Reform

It is reported in the Telegraph : David Cameron meets NHS privatisation campaigners , with the by line :  “ David Cameron has met a health care pressure group that advocates full privatisation of the National Health Service – a meeting that could infuriate doctors and nurses.” ; that he met with the group two weeks ago.

Certainly the group themselves are full of this – the article  David Cameron seeks policy ideas from NFR appears on their website, and neither do they make any bones about their support for dismantling the National Health Service, in this article on the Adam Smith Institute website The micro-politics of hospital privatisation .

It’s on their own site though that I spot the most flabbergasting statements About Nurses for Reform

“NFR rejects bland egalitarianism in favour of competition. And it believes in people – not politics.”

All of which leads me to believe that Mr Cameron has once again been upstaged by the right wing of his party – and this time it’s not recognised fringe mavericks like Daniel Hannan doing the NHS down – no this time it’s cuddly Dave himself, in what I would guess will prove to be a huge embarrassment to the Conservative party.

Of course I’m not alone in thinking that, the Telegraph article itself does point out similar concerns :

“His decision to meet the radical group, which calls the NHS a “dystopian, Soviet-style calamity”, will be seen as foolhardy after the painstaking efforts he has made to reassure voters that the NHS is safe in Tory hands. The meeting risks reigniting the row which exploded four months ago when Mr Cameron was forced to distance himself from a leading Tory MEP who suggested that the NHS was a “mistake”. “

The Telegraph remember, is rather more well disposed towards the Conservative party than I am. The article also says …

“the meeting is bound to be exploited by Labour ministers in the run-up to the election. Nurses For Reform, by its own admission, is the most extreme pressure group calling for NHS privatisation in Britain. On its website it denounces the NHS as a “Soviet” organisation which must be dismantled.”

Is it just me or does David Cameron look exceptionally embarassed ?

(This image is contained on the Nurses for Reform website – it may not embed correctly – please visit the site at×225.jpg  to see the original in context )

December 30, 2009 Posted by | politics | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Cameron thinks Brown is a figure of collossal power

Can’t resist linking to this from Alex Ross My first scoop – Cameron says ’slashing spending’ is ‘inhuman’

August 17, 2009 Posted by | politics, Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Are the Mail really supporting the Tories ?

Another quicky – I’m endebted to @Cardiff_Blogger via Twitter for the link to this article on the Mail Online website Honesty? Sorry, that is not a Tory policy

The Mail’s a strange paper. It seems to me as a Labour voter to be an extreme right wing publication. Supporting the Tories whatever the reasoning and presenting a warped, misleading  and dangerous view of the news.

I do hear Tories though, complaining that it’s dangerously left wing !

The article above is a classic. It basically says that Daniel Hannan and Alan Duncan are in trouble with David Cameron for speaking the truth, in their claims about the NHS and MP’s salary & expenses. In reality though they’re in trouble not for speaking the truth – but for speaking their mind – not quite the same thing. you know what though – if I were writing the article in a way that did the Conservatives down, that’s a distinction I’d deliberately blur – and I think it’s deliberate on the author Peter Hitchen’s part as well.

This article isn’t quite pro-Labour though – because he does actually say that he agrees with Hannan – so the article is simultaneously : publicising disagreement within the Conservative party, urging Cameron to do something more drastic about Daniel Hannan AND Alan Duncan, and finally agreeing with Daniel Hannan.

I make that riding at least three horses at once.

I think if anything this has to be interpreted as something of a “make things difficult for David Cameron” piece. Although why a Tory supporting paper should want to wade into the party’s biggest asset is beyond my comprehension – but what does a rabid left winger like me know ?

Always remember though that although they may have an interest in securing the Tories into power, at the end of the day, their stock in trade is not politics but journalism, and the more outrageous we feel their articles are, the more prompted to blog about them we become, the more they’ll be satisfied that they’re doing their job and selling papers.

Still don’t know how they sleep at night though !

(PS – Sort of puts me in mind of my comments on Polly Toynbee around the time of the Euro Elections : Polly Toynbee – is she saying sorry to GB ? )

August 16, 2009 Posted by | politics | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Daniel Hannan’s outpourings on the NHS – Will Cameron slap him down ?

Anyone in the UK political Twitter’n’blogland can hardly have missed today’s #WeLoveTheNhs trend – prompted by Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan’s latest broadcasts on US Television pouring scorn again on the “60 year mistake” which he believes the NHS to be.

Lots of people will be dissecting this on their own blogs – one of the best and quickest off the mark was Grace Fletcher-Hackwood Our doctors and nurses: an electoral bloc, says Hannan , and possibly the best known is John Prescott on his GoFourth site “Progressive, Don’t make me laugh !”

So I won’t go over that ground again – save to say that #ILoveTheNHS !

What will be the longer term political implications of this episode though ?

Today clearly it demonstrates the very different & extreme agenda that right wing Conservatives can adopt. I think the less politically attuned may well be shocked. They may well also miss it though, and by the time they pick up tomorrow’s Mails and Expresses it will all have spun in a slightly different direction.

We’ll inevitably be treated tomorrow to the woes of people with horrendous stories about their experiences with the NHS – then we’ll get a few days of the traditional Labour/Tory exchanges on health. This is just midfield tussle though – no knockout blows (if I’m not mixing my sporting metaphors too much). This is just going over old ground.

That would change though if Daniel Hannan decided to weigh in again – because he clearly believes what he says. He wants to get rid of the NHS.

The British public though – and I think I can confidently say this – do not. They may moan about it, complain about it, wish it were better – but do they want to get rid of our National Health Service ? Absolutely not !

David Cameron knows that. The core of the Conservative leadership know that. So sometime over the next few days we may well get a feel for what kind of leader David Cameron really is.

In the run up to an election he won’t want particularly to go round “disciplining” dissident voices, and risking division in the party. On the other hand unless he slaps down the likes of Hannan, he’ll be increasingly vulnerable to accusations that the Conservatives are a bunch of right wing extremists – a view that he’s trying hard to dispel.

Daniel Hannan has his supporters amongst the Tories – but it’s by no means universal. I would say that he and his “Plan” tendency are as dangerous to the Conservatives as Derek Hatton and Militant were to Labour.

In some ways I hope that David Cameron bottles this one – because Hannan won’t, he’ll come back again and again. I don’t want the Tories elected and I don’t believe the British public would elect a party that promises to dismantle the National Health Service – but I do think they’d vote for a party led by a man who did what he should do and withdrew the whip from Daniel Hannan.

Which is better for  Labour ? Which is better for the country ? I’m still not sure !

Update : I’m sort of grateful to the author of this blog who has placed this entire article on his/her own blog.   It would have been nice to mention it to me – I’d have had no objections. Still at least he placed a link back

Latest Update (9:30 Thursday 13th August)

It would appear that David Cameron has responded to this little episode with a blog of his own We are proud of the NHS saying how proud he is of the NHS – he makes no mention of Hannan however, nor does he discuss any irony in linking directly to Twitter and sayinglook at all the support “, and how wonderful it is that there are so many supporting messages – So perhaps too many twits don’t make a twat eh  Mr Cameron ? He did however refrain from abusive language this time so he is obviously taking heed of my blog ! I think it’s clever to swear ! (well David Cameron does anyway) (July 31st 2009)

Doesn’t appear to be publishing my comments on his blog though last time I looked. UPDATE !! : 23:55 Yes he is – and lots of others – blimey he’s got a can of worms to deal with there !

August 12, 2009 Posted by | blogs, politics, twitter | , , , , | 2 Comments


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