Tag Archives: politics

What I really want to see

Partly I’d like to see all this argument continue much longer, it’s been thrilling to have actual news to follow and for a politics news junkie like myself this is a strong hit. At some point, sadly, we must see the endgame reached.

So here’s what I’d like to see:

Tories governing on a minority basis with confidence from the Lib Dems.
But with an all party economic council, embracing and extending that which Nick Clegg often spoke about in the debates to include the various Scottish, Irish and Welsh national parties and the Green.
From that supply coming from across the house and an agreement that the queens speech shall be drawn from consensus policies drawn from all parties.

Then three sets of reforms.
Firstly, a wide ranging set of procedural reforms of the House of Commons, to be implemented over the summer. These would be measures to make the chamber adequately respond to the three party nature of politics, and would put the leaders of all opposition parties with more than a dozen members 3 questions and a guaranteed question for all other parties. Also to ensure that the calling of members of debates ceases to be based on their relative seniority in the chamber but instead on a mixture of good judgement and pre-agreed order debate by debate.
Secondly, an examination of the democracy of local and regional government within England, aiming to empower the London assembly and review the voting system for councils.
And thirdly, a referendum on the proposals for AV+ from the Jenkins review. Should a vote on that fail either in the house or in referendum, then a requirement for a commission to re-examine the topic to present proposals to parliament within a year such that there is genuine reform within this parliament.

And all of this under a fixed term four year parliament with an agreement for fixed term parliaments hereafter.

"in power too long"

“I cannot think of a better symbol of an out of touch, authoritarian, failing government that has been in power for too long,” Green said

Damian Green in The Guardian today

The Tory leader said Labour had “been in power too long” and Gordon Brown had to end “this sort of nonsense”.

David Cameron seeking reform of No. 10 on BBC News on Tuesday

Doesn’t it occur to you to say, perhaps, maybe after fourteen years we have been in power for too long and that’s why there is this deep cynicism.

John Humphrys interviewing Education Secretary David Hunt in 1994

21/08/2008 It seems to be the Conservative sound bite of choice right now, but it seems an odd one if you ask me. What are they actually proposing? Are they asking for a two term limit of parties or leaders being in government? No. Are they proposing reforms of the electoral system? No. We might get some boundary changes, albeit on a larger scale than usual as we dispense of 60 or so MPs, and every time those happen after a change of hue, there’s always a strange bias towards the new rulers. Something that generally speaking ensures governments stay “in power too long”.

What has propelled this rallying cry? A man working in 10 Downing Street making up lies, then not using them but communicating about them with an idiot affiliated to the Labour Party (Derek Draper). Call me a bit cynical but I find the rage of the Conservatives more than a little artificial. I don’t think a competition on who can be the least tainted MP is what Westminster needs right now, what it needs is debate and reform. And we poor voters look likely to get neither and then end up with the Tories “in power too long” again. Little wonder the country lost appetite for a snap election last year, I suspect we remembered how little difference it would make.

In my more optimistic moments I hope that this seemingly inevitable Tory government does at least correct some of the excesses of legislation from the past few years then implodes after two years and thus forces us finally on the road to full reform when we finally fail to have enough people to agree and form a ruling party. My more pessimistic dreams end with us all bowing down to our new ruler King William.

For King and Four Countries

Just been reading Anthony King’s report on the BBC network news coverage of the four UK nations for the BBC Trust. It’s a very well written, engaging and sometimes rather amusing document. In the main it doesn’t stick the knife in and there is much about the BBC to be praised, but here are some highlights for you to enjoy where that’s not the case. Firstly:

[In the main the BBC is unbiased] … However, there was one exception. Others drew it to our attention – an article in the Scottish edition of the Daily Telegraph was headlined ‘Fibs about Scotland on the BBC’ –and we could observe it for ourselves. It concerns the question of whether or not a group of people collectively called ‘the English’ – and, in particular, people called ‘English taxpayers’ – do, or do not, ‘subsidise’ a group of people collectively called ‘the Scots’. We were not in a position to monitor the BBC network’s entire output on this issue, but some of the coverage could give viewers and listeners the impression that there is a known and settled answer to this question and that the known and settled answer is that the English do, indeed, subsidise the Scots.

There is a very real and strange assumption that there is a subsidy as the BBC has asserted in various media several times. Perhaps no small part of the reason for the arguments to fail to advance towards anything resembling a resolution is down not just to Treasury intransigance but also a misinformed electorate, and possibly also politicians. Just remember, that’s the Daily Telegraph (scots edition admittedly) pointing out to the BBC how to be fair and accurate in reporting on Scotland. Questions of BBC bias are not as simple as Tory or Labour anymore, as my MP would do well to learn (p.s. Greg as you ask more written questions than the average MP, perhaps best not to lay into a journalist for asking questions themselves).

A second gem:

The events in Wales were important. They were obviously important for the people of Wales; the Welsh National Assembly has a wide range of devolved powers and controls a budget of £14 billion … However, the BBC’s UK-wide network, as distinct from BBC Wales, had little to say about any of these developments … Network news did, however, take considerable interest in another story emanating from Wales during the same May-July period. It concerned Shambo, a six-year-old Friesian bull.

It’s noted elsewhere that many in the BBC audience believe that often their local area was more likely to be covered as a quirky local interest story than anything of genuine note.

My favourite:

To be fair, there are millions of people in the UK, most of them in England, who have also failed to grasp, or even to notice, the scale of the changes that have taken place. To judge by what they say on television and radio, some of them sit on the green benches at Westminster, including the front benches.

Indeed, King notes that Ministers at Westminster are deliberately failing to append (of England (& Wales) (& Northern Ireland) to their job titles. He reckons journalists should do their best to make such things clear, though he also notes that our devolved system could hardly be more complicated and he reckons only a “select few” understand the Barnett funding formula, for example.

And a final shocker:

In our travels, we noticed, for example, that not all of the newsrooms we visited had maps of the UK on their walls.

My workplace is littered with UK Maps, indeed it seems you can’t be a director without having one somewhere. Personally I sit typing this with a large map of Scotland behind me, but I’m just a tad biased, and I have some London maps as well.

All in all, a great review, and now we must hope that good things come from it.