Thursday, 30 September 2010

Red Ed?

I thought it best to let the soap opera run its course (as if) before thinking about where the election of Ed Miliband leaves me. Apparently it leaves the Tories weak with laughter. The BBC told me that one, chummily reporting as fact the prevailing view that Labour have lost their best chance to bounce back by rejecting the elder Miliband. Ed might be a nice guy, but he's naive, leftish, in the pocket of the unions and wholly unknown to the electorate.

For those of us interested in the outcome, the effect of the press, condescendingly nice, has been unsettling. Suddenly, the last port in the austerity storm looks a bit feeble. We Liberals are used to this. Voters may have liked the Liberal Democrats, they might even have preferred them over the others, but they wouldn't like to actually give them power. Like allowing Brian Clough to become England manager, it's best left in the 'what if?' category. As a paranoid Liberal, every day saw the little dig designed to keep us down, the broadsheets joining in the tabloid game of keeping up the sterotype. We were simply too nice, well meaning and do goody to be trusted with anything but a few councils.

Now Labour are going to get the treatment. Murdoch and his ilk will build up David Miliband, praise the work of Blairite ministers and express regret that their day has passed. The BBC, which has so much influence over how many of us think, because we think it strives to be impartial, will report the news we don't read. It will tell us what the papers say. It will make us think about the origins of smoke. It will worry us.

Those of you familiar with Michael Haneke's Funny Games will know that the premise of the film is that violence is violence whether its real or simply portrayal. The audience is seeing what happens, knowing its not real but being confronted with the idea that it perhaps doesn't matter that its not real. The reporting of something becomes as powerful as the thing itself.

So, too, with Ed Miliband. The accepted truth becomes fact whether it is or not. David is the clever one, the leader, the saviour of Labour. Ed was a nice idea who tricked his way, or had someone else trick his way, into first place. We are all unsettled, we liked the idea but do we like the fact? The small group of press barons who claim (when it suits them) to hold the power of government in their grubby hands don't have to attack Ed Miliband, they just have to do what everyone in the media has been doing to the Liberal party for 50 odd years, they just have to sow the seeds of doubt.

Don't be swayed dear Etherons. Ed Miliband is clever and erudite and is trying to be inclusive. David Miliband was pretty similar but he had baggage. His speech at conference wasn't some miracle oration  too late to save the day, it was simply an OK speech from a clever politician who will be deeply missed but who wont be irreplaceable. Hats off to the way he's retained his dignity and made the right move. He'll be back, he'll be helping but Ed is the immediate future and I'm still thinking of jumping ship.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Comment and Debate

I notice Joanthan Freedland in the Guardian has taken up my theme, taken it up even before I announced it. In the Wednesday edition he wrote "Mocking the Lib Dems will bring easy laughs - and suits Cameron. The Tories are the real enemy, cuts the real battleground" (are you allowed to quote people in Blogs? Don't sue Jonathan, you take my idea, I'm relaxed about it). He says more of the same here

He comes up at it from a different angle but basically argues that the Ogrons are the fall guys, drawing the Labour fire while the Tories get on with quietly changing the country to suit their backers and/or themselves. I'm personally struck by how little David CAmeron is in the news, how totally free from the brickbats he remains. What does he do all day? Rub his hands with glee I suppose. Or perhaps he's just busy with the young 'un.

Finally - Digby Jones. Simply vile. His patronising comments on Vince Cable's speech (basically suggesting Uncle Vince needs to decide whether he wants to be a Liberal MP or a Government minister) catapult him to the top of my List of Disdain, the fluffier cousin of the Hate List. I'm aware this is a rant rather than a paragraph, and he probably speaks very highly of me, but how has this self publicist gained a veneer of respectability?

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

The Austere Truth

So Nick Clegg has made his speech and aimed a few jibes in my direction. Not intentionally, I admit I'm not high on his list of adversaries, but he's made a few things crystal clear to me and my fellow whingers.

Firstly, it would seem that those sympathetic to the Labour view on the national debt (which I vaguely recall being the old Liberal Democrat view on the national debt) have been identified as refugees from the old Labour party, finding temporary succour in the arms of a real centre left party. I have some sympathy with his view but can't but help feel he insults me and other life long members of the Liberal party. I understand the coalition was always going to be hard work, a gamble forced on Clegg by a confused and worried electorate. My complaints lie in the difference between the views of the coalition and the views of the Tories. I can't get a cigarette paper between them. I simply can't see how we would have been worse off with a single ruling Conservative party.

Nick Clegg concentrated on the dire state of the economy and used it to justify most of his actions, trotting out the same platitudes his elders and betters use. We know Labour left us with an economy in tatters, at least I do. I don't blame global events, I blame the Labour party fair and square. OK with you Nick? But what was it the Labour party did to bring about this state of affairs? Where is the discussion on cause rather than the easy one on blame?

The Tories seem clear. They blame Big Government and Gordon Brown's obsession with micro-management. I suspect they concentrate on Mr Brown to deflect attention from Blair, the old Cameron, who presided over a credit filled boom based, by and large, on the free market economic dreams of the Tory right. Like Thatcher before them, Brown and Blair stoked the fiscal fires by burning the forests more quickly than they could grow replacements. I believe they used the money raised as wisely as they could but the billions that left the country, and the reliance on the financial sector, took its toll.

David Cameron, using the theories of his irritating chum Phillip Blond, claims we need a Big Society, a community of volunteers. I don't mind the idea of the Big Society but none of the Tory policies seem to have anything to do with it. They want small government like all right wing parties and if you have small government you need Big Society, its a matter of emphasis. Small government is the ideological Utopia, Big Society the instrument to disguise its importance.

My Liberal Democrat party didn't like the small government plan, they saw through its vested interest. Support of the indivdual to live his or her life without injuring the rights of others, thats what I thought we believed in. So when Nick Clegg peppers his speech with the accepted truths of his Tory backers, he plays the Ogron to their Daleks and he cheats the country of the open debate on economic theory that we really need.

Yeah I know, I'm a dreamer. But think about what we're getting - and here I should declare I'm a public servant - the advance of extreme right wing policies based on the already right wing policies that have got us here in the first place. In a nutshell, saving money on services, at the expense of PAYE tax payers circulating money within the local and national economy, without addressing wealth creation or raising revenue through taxation.

Tottenham have drawn level against Arsenal. I probably need to concentrate on that. Until next time....

Saturday, 18 September 2010

The New Ogrons

Remember Dr Who in the 70s? Fabulous. In every sense of the word. But with CGI yet to be invented, the Daleks were left with a few awkward navigation problems. The Beeb put its heads together and came up with low budget mobile servants for the king of baddies, sort of walking missing links able to grunt and commit senseless murder - The Ogrons.

Given their mobility, their effortless ascent of stairs and ladders, these football hooligans from outer space claimed more than their fair share of screen time, strangely enhancing the menace of their metal masters waiting for episode 2 to reveal themselves. The Ogrons stumbled and threatened their way round the earthlings, gaining a bad reputation without reward or motivation.

The surprising thing about the Ogrons, well, one of the most surprising things about the Ogrons, is that the web has enabled worthy followers to create a whole back story to their existence. These cheap Dalek thugs had a 'life', a civilisation before becoming guns for hire. They lived and presumably loved, evolved and colonised, made friends and fought enemies until, powerful, yet still unable to communicate properly, they came to be known by the bad things of deep space as a reliable sidekick. Ask no questions, pay no mind to ambition, accept no worthy fee, the Ogron spirit is yours to subjugate.

Which brings me on to my party, the much pilloried, worthy, do-goody Liberal Democrats. A party with its own existence long before the Boy Cameron saw a silver spoon. Like the Ogrons they beavered away on the outer fringes and like the Ogrons they suddenly became the acceptable face of darker forces, willingly carrying the can for the evil things done in someone elses name.

So I'm doing what any sane Liberal Democrat Dr Who fan would do. I'm starting a blog. I want to learn about blogs, I want to remember the early days of Dr Who when baddies didn't have such weird ambitions of conquering time and space (just a little planet in the Milky Way is all we want guvnor)  but most of all I want to find out why the Liberal Democrats are so hell bent on giving so much, for so little, for the benefit of so few. Was I really a Labour man all along, blinded by my dislike of all things Blair or is there hope for me and the Lib Dems to bury the hatchet and crack open the ginger beer sometime next parliament?

I want to take in political and economic thought, current events, Liberal Democrat movers and shakers and I want to decide, by April 2011, whether to send that £30 to renew my membership. For the most part I'm going to be doing that by myself, blogging into the ether. But if anyone out there has any ideas, I'm open to persuasion. I think.

Ooh look, its the Liberal Democrats conference, This should be fun........