Friday, November 20, 2009

Cnut? Brown?

Wednesday night's Party Election, sorry Political broadcast was a master class of Goebellsesque propaganda. It's original objective was to motivate Labour activists at their conference earlier this year, and for that purpose it was a great piece. However, (apparently) via a campaign by @BevaniteEllie (or should that be BenInite Ellie - see video below for explanation), the film was used for the Queen's speech Labour Party Political Broadcast. Now, I'm not convinced it was thanks to this campaign and suspect the Twitter storm was generated for publicity. But whatever its provenance they chose to broadcast it, which I'm glad they did because it's provided an opportunity for much mischief making and fun at Labour's expense. One of the best attempts at which comes from Tory Bear and Guido Fawkes...

This is all fun stuff. But I worry that the focus on the PPB (at least in the bloggersphere and Twitterverse) are slightly distracting from the true awfulness of Labour's plan to use the next 6 months of parliamentary time to play party politics instead of properly addressing the dire state of Britain's economic and social problems. In an Cnut style attempt to change the prevailing political tide (more mention of Cnut in a bit), Gordon Brown proposes several bills that, instead of addressing the real needs of the country, are aimed at casting the Tories in a bad light.

But already, the measures outlined in the speech are falling apart.

  • The ridiculous idea of legislating to reduce the nation's debt rather than just getting on and doing it has been roundly criticised. What's the point? What is the punishment for not complying? Who gets punished, the Chancellor?? No one will be punished, of course, it'll just be the same as Brown's golden borrowing rule, he'll ignore it as soon as it becomes politically expedient to do so. Read more here.
  • The proposal for free home care for some older people has also come under attack. It sounds like an excellent idea, who could possible oppose such a thing? Well, that was Brown's motivation for proposing it. The idea being that the Tories would be cast as the nasty party blocking home care for the most needy. But, now it's come under attack from within the Labour Party! Labour Lord Lipsey, a former member of the Royal Commission on Long-Term Care turned on the proposals pointing out they were unaffordable and divisive, "one of the most irresponsible acts to be put forward by a prime minister in the recent history of this country". Damning stuff. A committee were already looking at home care with a non-partisan approach that aimed to produced legislation that could have had a clear route through parliament with full support from all parties. But that was not what Gordon Brown needed. He needed to draw a thick red line between Labour and the Conservatives. So this policy was rushed in and blows all the previous good work out of the water, just for petty party political advantage. Typical of the man. Read more here
  • No mention at all on the implementation of the recommended changes on MPs expenses. These will require legislation and the public want to see quick and decisive action, so this is an appalling oversight showing just how out of touch the PM is.
  • The Digital Economy bill looks like it's going to be a typically authoritarian affair that could cripple the UK's on-line community. The BoingBoing web site report on a leak of the plan and say... "This is as bad as I've ever seen, folks. It's a declaration of war by the entertainment industry and their captured regulators against the principles of free speech, privacy, freedom of assembly, the presumption of innocence, and competition"
  • A "Flood and Water Management Bill" - not a lot of detail yet on what this entails but it's already being dubbed the "Cnut" bill. No, it's not a typo referring to Gordon Brown, but a reference to the the famous King who thought he could control the tide.
  • All sorts of "guarantees", one of which is to be seen by a specialist by 18 weeks of a GP referral... well whoopy shit!
Of course, there's nowhere near enough time to pass all of these bills if the Commons and Lords do their duty and properly scrutinise the legislation put before them.

Lord Strathclyde, Tory leader in the Lords, points out that there are only 33 legislative days left for peers to carry this duty out. Labour are already spinning this as the Tories deliberately trying to block the bills being passed. But in reality the Conservatives don't have a majority of members in the Lords (they have less than Labour) so it would be impossible without the help of the cross benches and LibDem peers. And anyway, unless there was a real reason to hold up a bill (i.e. it was truly badly drafted law), what advantage would the Tories get from blocking it? No, what Labour means is they want the legislation passed without proper scrutiny. That mustn't be allowed to happen, although it will play into Brown's tawdry plan and allow him to blame the opposition for "stopping free home care for the most needy", for example.

I'm sure the British public are wise enough to Brown now and won't be taking in. But only time will tell and the General Election, that will end this fag end parliament, can't come soon enough for me.

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