Why Labour Voters Ought to Think Again


10:33 pm - September 26th 2008

by Jennie Rigg    


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Yeah, I figured that headline would get the attention of some of you. Cory Doctorow has posted what it’s like to be on the sharp end of Labour’s current policies. Because I know that some of you won’t be arsed to click the link, I’m going to copy and paste.

Earlier this year, I married my British fiancée and switched my visa status from “Highly Skilled Migrant” to “Spouse.” This wasn’t optional: Jacqui Smith, the British Home Secretary, had unilaterally (and on 24 hours’ notice) changed the rules for Highly Skilled Migrants to require a university degree, sending hundreds of long-term, productive residents of the UK away (my immigration lawyers had a client who employed over 100 Britons, had fathered two British children, and was nonetheless forced to leave the country, leaving the 100 jobless). Smith took this decision over howls of protests from the House of Lords and Parliament, who repeatedly sued her to change the rule back, winning victory after victory, but Smith kept on appealing (at tax-payer expense) until the High Court finally ordered her to relent (too late for me, alas).

Now, it seems, I will become one of the first people in Britain to be forced to carry a mandatory biometric RFID card in a pilot programme being deployed first to foreign students and we spousal visa holders (government is looking to curtail spousal visas altogether, capping all visas at 20,000 per year, including spousal visas, denying Britons the right to bring their spouses into the country once the quota has been filled). The card will be eventually linked to all of the national databases — credit, health, driving, spending. These are the same databases that the government has been repeatedly losing and haemmorhaging by the tens of million (literally).

My family fled the Soviet Union after the war. They were displaced people (my father was born in a refugee camp in Azerbaijan) who destroyed their papers to protect themselves from the draconian authorities who sought to limit their travel and migration. I used to think it was ironic that my family had gone from Europe to Canada and back to Europe again in a generation, but now I don’t know how long the Doctorows will be staying in Europe — or at least in the UK. The green and pleasant land has suspended habeas corpus, instituted street searches without particularlized suspicion, encourages its citizens to spy and snitch on each other, and now has issued mandatory universal papers that will track we dirty immigrants as we move around our adopted “home,” as part of a xenophobic campaign to arouse fear and resentment against migrants.

Many of my British friends act as if I’m crazy when I say that we must defeat Labour in the next election. We’re all good lefties, and a vote for the LibDems is considered tantamount to handing the country over to the Tories. But what could the Tories do that would trump what Labour has made of the country? The Labour Party has made a police state with a melting economy, a place where rampant xenophobia makes foreigners less and less welcome — where we are made to hand over our biometrics and carry papers as we conduct our lawful business. The only mainstream party to speak out against this measure is the LibDems, and they will have my vote.

To my friends, I say this: your Labour Party has taken my biometrics and will force me to carry the papers my grandparents destroyed when they fled the Soviet Union. In living memory, my family has been chased from its home by governments whose policies and justification the Labour Party has aped. Your Labour Party has made me afraid in Britain, and has made me seriously reconsider my settlement here. I am the father of a British citizen and the husband of a British citizen. I pay my tax. I am a natural-born citizen of the Commonwealth. The Labour Party ought not to treat me — nor any other migrant — in a way that violates our fundamental liberties. The Labour Party is unmaking Britain, turning it into the surveillance society that Britain’s foremost prophet of doom, George Orwell, warned against. Labour admits that we migrants are only the first step, and that every indignity that they visit upon us will be visited upon you, too. If you want to live and thrive in a free country, you must defend us too: we must all hang together, or we will surely hang separately.

How in the hell can any of you who post on this site even consider voting for the sort of party that DOES that? I can understand you being a party member, because, you know, change them from the inside and all, but voting for them? How can any of you justify it to yourselves? I would like an explanation, because I just. Don’t. Get it.

Hat tip: Purple Cthulhu. If you don’t know who Cory Doctorow is 1, Why aren’t you reading BoingBoing? it’s awesome! and 2, click here and here. Lib Dem position on this is neatly illustrated here.

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Reader comments


Have you looked at the alternative?

Seriously Jennie- who would you have us vote for- the Liberals are a possibility in some constiuencies but in many don’t have a chance- otherwise its the conservative and if you are expecting anything from them then I’d think again. That is the issue. This government is not ideal- its very far from ideal and has done lots of things which are disgraceful- but the Conservatives are worse.

Think of it like this- I could have written a similar article about Al Gore in 1999. But had I voted for Ralph Nader in 2000- all I would have done is voted for George Bush because effectively Gore and Bush were the only people running. The thing is either I can be righteous and morally perfect and vote for the government I like- which means abdicating from the fact that I don’t govern Britain and neither do you- or I can vote for the better of two rather nasty looking coalitions. At the moment I’m looking at them and I prefer Brown to Cameron- if I don’t vote for Brown, I’d be signing the death warrants of the people that conservative cuts to the health service will kill, signing the prison extensions of those that would be sent down for longer- I’m not willing to do that. I’m afraid I’d prefer a government led by Nick Clegg and Vince Cable and will fight as hard as I can within the left for that to happen- but if its a choice between Labour and the Tories (and that’s the choice under our electoral system) not to vote Labour where they oppose the Tories is to sign a thousand death warrants and condemn millions to poverty.

And the other reason I never get around to posting owt here, you type quicker’n me. But yeah, it’s the principle reason I joined the Lib Dems in 2006 and that they’re introducing it in this way (especially with the way they used it as an issue in the ‘Tory toff’ campaign in C&N) is just wrong.

“the Conservatives are worse”

Simon, I say this as someone who was brought up as red as they come… I really don’t think they are any more. I don’t think you could slip a Rizla between the two of them.

Simon: Conservatives are worse

Are you so sure these days?

I’m booing you right now, Ms Rigg. Watch:

Booo.

Sorry. Anyway, as excellent as both you and Cory Doctorow are, you missed the chance to mention that the Lib Dems are the only mainstream party which would allow asylum seekers the right to work. If you’d done that, then I could’ve taken the opportunity to rant about the brilliant work done by charities & faith groups in Clegg’s constituency (aka The Homeland) with immigrants & asylum seekers.

Anyway, your point in this post is dead right, but this comment about the apparent non-differences between Labour & the Tories freaks me out:

“I don’t think you could slip a Rizla between the two of them.”

Speaking as someone who’s worked for the minimum wage in the past 18 months, I disagree with you. And speaking as someone who was born & brought up where coal mines used to be, I think you dramatically underestimate the good that Labour has done here. It’s infuriatingly incomplete, of course, but it’s still enough to put more than a Rizla paper, more than a cigarette packet and probably more than a plank of wood between Labour & the Conservatives…

As you know, the electoral system is such that my vote means nothing outside of my constituency. Where, if I vote Lib-Dem, a Tory will probably win that constituency.

Roll on PR! Until this changes I don’t see that I have a choice in who to vote for. The only way I feel comfortable doing it is that I am not voting for Labour, but against the Conservatives.

Dave: How on earth do you expect to ever get to vote under PR unless you vote Lib Dem first? Labour has had ten years to make sure nobody ever faces the dilemma you describe, and they’ve done *fuck all*. Why? You know why. Because they’d rather be able to tell you “ooh, don’t vote for the Lib Dems, you’ll let in a Tory” than actually do something to allow you to cast a meaningful vote. Why do these people deserve your vote, exactly?

Jennie,

Excellant article. However, I have to disagree a little when you say there is no difference between the two. To prove my point I will merely ask a simple question. Do you think that the Conservative Party would ever have introduced a legal minimum wage??

Saying there is no difference is simplistic and actually is something straight off a SWP news stand. We need a critical dialogue with people like Simon. To Simon I would say ok we are a thrid party but if people like you continue with that attitude we will always be so and I think that is a tragedy as a progressive and somebody who still has reddish tints 😉

The facts are that your party is going to be wiped out at the next election because people in general are sick and tierd of Labour and people who are progressively minded are especially so and no longer willing to save the sinking ship. So, rather than living in fear of a Tory government which is going to come whether you like it or not why dont you get involved with a party that is actually setting the pace in terms of a radical progressive agenda; help build it so its no longer a third party. How about it?:)

I ain’t voting for them again, Jennie, and as I say in a quick post on ye olde homepage:

http://hangbitch.com/

nobody I talk to is voting for them either.

What you guys need here is a spot of proportional representation by way of electoral system. That way, you’d not be forced back on this dreadful either-or, first past the post stuff. MMP was introduced into one’s home nation New Zealand ten years ago and while endlessly faulty, was endlessly more encouraging.

etc

Darrell:

Do you think that the Conservative Party would ever have introduced a legal minimum wage?

An irrelevant question. Of course they would never have introduced it, but that’s in the past.

The relevant question is, in a single term of office, would Cameron’s Conservatives abolish the minimum wage? I know Redwood wants them to, but would Cameron actually do it?

We only need one term of the bastards in power for Labour to sort themselves out, and that’s assuming they even get an overall majority. The current polling shows that they will, but they only need to lose 5 points or so during a campaign and we’re back in NOC territory.

Labour can either sort themselves out and go back to what I voted for in ’97/’01 or even in a new liberal direction, or they can split and the sane liberals within them can fight for a genuine change.

Kate’s right, they promised electoral reform in ’97, it’s their failure to implement this promise that’s lead us to the current farce. It means that people like Dave have a horrible choice to make, but Dave?

Your sitting MP voted for 90 days detention without trial, for ID cards, against judicial control of control orders, for the Iraq invasion and against an elected house of Lords. Do you really want an arse like that representing your views?

Does that mean you are going to vote for us Kate? And there was me all primed to write an article to argue why you should 😉

MatGB,

No its not irrelevant to the people who have actually benefitted from it is it?? Neither is the Labour governments campaign on child poverty which although flawed and like everything with this government too target driven is nonetheless *something*. For you to pretend it is irrelevant is just nonsense. I am merely making the point that Labour in power have done some good things as you yourself obviously realise because you voted for them twice.

Would Camerons Conservatives abolish it?? No they wouldnt but you can bet a dollar to a dime it will get no closer to being a living wage under the Tories and might even see reductions. Pretending these things dont make a difference is just wrong.

You are right that they did promise voting reform and they didnt deliver and you are of course right on all the other things that Labour has done wrong but to say there is *no difference* between the two parties is such a gross oversimplification of facts that it becomes a falsification and that is what I originally criticised Jennie for; you can’t engage in a meaningful dialogue with people without Simon without ackowledging what Labour got right.

I may indeed vote for you, Darrell, if electoral reform is one of your gigs. I’m certainly not voting Labour next time around, and the world will end before I vote Tory.

I flirt with the idea of voting Green when I’m bored and/or depressed, but I don’t get that bored, or that depressed, that often. See them as a bit of a wasted vote tbh. Might as well smoke it. They’d be less of a wasted vote (ditto for yourselves) with proportional representation.

Can you/anyone expand on the Lib Dem agenda for PR, then?

Andy. In my constituency the Lib-Dems polled 5,000 votes, The big two split the vote at just over 19,000 each. (the majority is about 700). While the Labour Party aren’t going to introduce PR nor are the Tories.

I could punish Labour by voting Lib-Dem, and I would love to do so, and I agree with Darrell that a Conservative government is pretty much inevitable, I hope that their majority is such that the Lib-Dems hold the balance of power. But for that to happen I need to vote Labour.

Mat GB,

My local MP is not Howard Stoate, its even worse I am afraid; Hilary Benn. No, I dont want to be represented by Labour but give me a chance I have only lived in the area a couple of months 😉

But what could the Tories do that would trump what Labour has made of the country?

Plenty: like using all the lovely toys New Labour have created over the last decade or so, without the pretence of being a caring, sharing government – and then adding, say, abolition of the right to strike in ‘essential public services’ (i..e. most of the public sector). Why would the Tories scrap ID cards for foreign nationals? ‘They’ are an easier and more affordable target for that level of state surveillance than the entire UK population, so ditch them for the natives and make the dole-scrounging migrant bastards pay for it. (I exaggerate, but not by much).

MatGB – the Tories could simply fail to raise the minimum wage in line with inflation, or refuse to raise it all. Job done.

We’re stuck between one bunch of right-wing bastards…and the Tories. This has been apparent for most of the last 10 years (and especially since about 2001). Labour supporters have no intention of voting Tory, but know that voting LibDem under First Past the Post isn’t going to bring about the realignment some would wish for. If New Labour ministers still want to bang on about how we ought to be grateful for the minimum wage, they’ve yet to come up with a justification for policies such as the one Doctorow describes. I suspect a lot of people’s patience has run out, and they are not prepared to try and save the Labour party from New Labour – yet again – by voting for it. Moreover, it doesn’t follow those votes will – or should – go anywhere else simply to stop the baby-eating Tories.

Kate,

Electoral reform is a good thing. We like it and want it.

To quote, our policy is ;

Urgent legislation to establish the Single Transferable Vote (STV) system for elections to the
House of Commons in the first year of a Liberal Democrat Government.

We are also in favour of a referendum on a writter constitution, lowering the voting age to 16 and fixed term parliaments. Also, completing Lords reform.

My MP is the Stoate. But he did vote largely in line with my opinions on the embryology bill. Unfortunately nearly everything else I support he’s either been against or hasn’t voted on.

Before Stoate we had Bob Dunn, who iirc was of the pro-life/pro-death variety.

It seems like most people here are going to keep voting Labour because they’re still scared of the Tories.

Fear seems to be Labour’s weapon of choice. As long as they can keep you afraid of something, whether it’s terrorism, hoodies or the Tories or just basically other people, full stop, then they’ve got your vote.

Personally I find this very sad.

Yes, but even though Labour have achieved some things (amongst which the minimum wage, the peace process, & I’m sure some other things) they haven’t done half as much as they could if they’d stood up to the Daily Mail.

People were willing in 1997 & are now. We aren’t half as reactionary as Blair/Brown assumed. We would respect someone who took a stand & we still feel a sense of outrage when a “Labour” government spits in our faces every day.

You can sit here all day saying “it’s not going to happen”. Nothing is ever going to happen unless you make it happen (pun not intended).

So long as people vote for the 2 main parties, nothing will ever happen. We’re only hearing about PR because something like 30% of voters go elsewhere. The answer is to vote Liberal Democrat or Green, thus forcing it onto Labour’s agenda & wiping the smirk off Camoron’s face when he realises how few people share his “vision” of making the poor subsidise his mates through raising the threshold for IHT whilst levying indirect taxes on those who don’t have wealthy parents but are working hard to better themselves without help (don’t right-wingers admire such people? Evidently not).

I will not be cowed into submission by you telling me that Tory bad men will take me away unless I do what you say. I didn’t take it in 2005, still less now. I will not put my name next to ID cards or 42 days, & while I might vote Labour at some stage in the future it won’t be until they’re in opposition & have gone through a long, hard period of soul searching.

I’m really surprised that people aren’t able to see that this country needs to take a severe shock and downturn in politics before it gets better. Either through Labour getting back in and continuing to run this country in to an authoritarian state that persecutes demographics of people simply because they’re not “British”, or by somehow voting in a way that lets the Tories take power and ends up with poverty continuing on it’s path of incrementing among all the other ills that we expect a Tory government to bring (but that will likely be the same ills that Labour would bring anyway).

Until this country realises that the two parties are actually different, that the Tories can say all the guff they like but ultimately they are just like Labour, we are not going to get a better party in power.

The difference between these two evils? If you continue to vote Labour then the changes will be minimal and insignificant, the time it’ll take for politics in this country to turn around will be huge. The continuation of the two party system promotes stagnation and not radical change.

However start voting Lib Dem’s, even in areas where they “can’t win” and something different happens. Yes, maybe the Tories still get in with a good majority, but suddenly it’s no longer the same two horse race, the landscape has changed, and you’ve given a third party more of the integrity they need to lead up to the future.

When the bad time come, and they will come whether red or blue, I’d rather that the general public actually were able to consider the Liberal Democrats, assuming they don’t change their policies drastically, without thinking they are a “wasted vote” than for this situation to continue for decades to come.

Yes Labour will probably be better at the minimum wage but you know what the Tories at least have promised to curb the ID card program. Tories may try and take away the human rights act (not that it changes much in the ECHR scheme of things) but then Labour are happy to keep suspending things such as “innocent until proven guilty” which is pretty fucking anti-human rights anyway.

Have some balls, Labour voters; whether your party is in power or the Tories, we’re fucked for a decade on both liberal and left issues, with both parties managing to trump the other (just) on certain issues. The question you need to ask yourself is whether when the next change comes, whenever that is, you want this situation we’re in now to be the same situation down the line, or if you want there to be a greater opportunity for a truly liberal and “fair” government to take their steps towards power.

I just repeat what I’ve said in many a previous thread, stop kidding yourself that by voting for labour you’re voting for anything less than a propaganda spreading, authoritarian and illiberal party that treats immigrants as second class citizens, takes away the long standing rights of our citizens “for our safety” and pisses our money down the drain with shonky “systems” that barely serve the function they were created for. Stop being so blind that you think that the attitude of “My Lib Dem vote is a vote for the Tories” will actually progress anything in the long run.

Darrell:

its not irrelevant to the people who have actually benefitted from it is it?

Well no, as one of those people it’s definitely not (I’m talking before I went back to University when I had one job that paid £20 per day for an average 8 hour shift). But in terms of votes at the next election? It’s there, it’s in place, the Conservatives have said they’ll keep it.

So in terms of voting at the next time, it is an irrelevent. The minimum wage will not be abolished by the Tories, thus voting Labour because they introduced it ten years ago is as daft as voting Labour because they introduced the NHS in ’45.

Redpesto:

the Tories could simply fail to raise the minimum wage in line with inflation, or refuse to raise it all. Job done.

True, if they were in office for a long enough time. But they’re going to win the next GE unless Labour does something incredible, which they’ve proven they’re not going to do. One term of Govt, especially on a small majority, wouldn’t do that much damage unless inflation spirals out of control, and if that happens the lowest paid will be in much bigger trouble than the rate of the minimum wage could help.

At the next general election, we have to vote on the problems facing us and the likely position of the parties afterwards. Voting on old policies is utterly daft, supporting Labour because they were good ten years ago is blinkered stupidity.

The current Labour leadership, and most of the Cabinet (Hazel Blears anyone?), simply cannot be trusted on a large number of issues facing us, from ID cards, fearmongering “counter-terrorism”, etc.

Supporting Labour electorally right now is supporting those policies. All the good things they’ve done will be irrelevent if they keep building the illiberal surveillance state they’re planning, especially the cumpolsory ID cards for all that they want to introduce.

Kate: Electoral reform, specifically (re-)introducing the Irish voting system to Westminster was my second biggest reason for my decision to join the Lib Dems, it’s a policy position they’ve had as a central plank since the party was founded.

Dave: At the next GE, Stoate is out unless Cameron really messes up, it’s too close a marginal, Cameron needs to take it in order to simply reduce Labour’s majority. Your next MP will be a Tory regardless of how you vote. If enough people defect from Labour to the Lib Dems, then they could challenge next time, Labour’ll lose the seat, but pushing them into 3rd place? That’ll really send a message to the NEC.

If I lived in a Tory/Labour marginal that I thought Labour could hold, I don’t honestly know how I would vote. But in a seat that Labour have lost even if Brown wins the next GE? I’d vote to punish the bastards to really get the message across.

MatGB True, if they were in office for a long enough time. But they’re going to win the next GE unless Labour does something incredible, which they’ve proven they’re not going to do. One term of Govt, especially on a small majority, wouldn’t do that much damage unless inflation spirals out of control,

Or…one term of Tory government with an inflated majority based on a split LibDem/Labour vote….god, is it 1983 again already?

Every pro-Labour voter is going to end up dealing with this dilemma in their own way in each constituency. There will be no ‘line to take’. There’s are no easy answers. There is no happy place once you’ve made your decision. I would have thought that would have been obvious after the 2005 election, where Blair should have lost to Reg Keys and/or cost Labour its majority. Only fear and tribal loyalty are going to save New Labour – and I suspect they’ve pissed away the latter.

I hear a lot of people whinging about a lack of electoral choice and even a few mentions of electoral reform. But ask yourselves: How many of you have written to your MP expressing your desire for meaningful electoral reform (i.e. at least proportional representation)?

Without substantial electoral reform the UK will continue to be a pseudo-democracy and your debate over political alternatives will remain hollow.

Oh, yeah- and who had the daft idea that ANY of the three main parties were in any way ‘Left of centre’?!

http://www.politicalcompass.org/extremeright

Darrell,

A low minimum wage, sketchily enforced, (i.e. just like now) is non-Thatcherite but is a perfect policy measure for building social cohesion (and collecting prole votes) in the Disraelian Tory tradition that Cameron aspires to. If we did not have it already, he would be announcing it at his conference.

punkscience

In relation to the centre, the LibDems are ‘ahead of centre’. The New Tories and New Labour are behind the centre, one a bit to the sunrise side and one a bit to the sunset side. You are right. None of them is to the left or the right.

But as to electoral reform, my Labour MP (Diane Abbot) is no turkey, but even so writing to her to urge her to give up her seat as a Christmas present to the rest of us sems a less useful way to spend my time than supporting Jenny..

Redpesto, I agree as it happens, Labour is sunk—yes, the vote split will increase the Tory majority in some cases, but not always, it’s already doing it in some areas but in others the Lib Dems are fighting Labour held seats as if they’re three way marginals and doing very well on the ground. If the Tories are going to win anyway, making sure that there’s a viable candidate to take them downt he election after next will be key. Bloody stupid electoral system. Like I’ve said, it’s not a choice I want to personally take, but I’m lucky in that I don’t need to, the Labour vote in my area has already switched Lib Dem, the sitting MP is standing down and her replacement is an awful candidate. If the sitting MP weren’t standing down I’d be voting for her against my party, because she’s voted the right way on virtually every key issue anyway.

Punkscience. I like the Compass as a tool, I like the way it portrays things. I do wish they’d publish their methodology, as that graph you link to is, I’m sorry to say, complete bollocks. The positioning of the Lib Dems where they are goes against Lib Dem policy positions and the positions of a number of prominent Lib Dems. I hope this link works, but here’s my Facebook profile version:

Political Compass graph showing several Lib Dems

As you might expect given my status as a former (temporary) employee and a fairly prominent activist, a massive chunk of that cloud are Lib Dem members. For example, Julia Goldsworthy, Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, is number 50 on that layout, at ec:-4.13 soc:-6.21, my local PPC, Hilary Myers, is #15, and at ec:-7.13 soc:-6.72.

I, and the people I specifically mention, are fairly happy with Lib Dem policy overall. If we’re all way to the bottom and distinctly on the left, why does that article put the Lib Dems much further up and to the right? It’s a deeply flawed analysis with no published methodology.

Lib Dem policy platform is left wing and liberal, recent moves at conference have seen a clear leftward shift, the Compass, while a good tool, is talking bollocks.

As for writing to my MP? Didn’t need to, I joined the party after he contacted me after reading my blog, he’s now a regular contact and is completely on board on the issue (although I’ve now moved so am working to get a candidate I really like elected). That’s why I joined the Lib Dems, we need electoral reform and we need to protect our key political freedoms, they’re the only party doing it consistently, so I’m working hard all over the place to get more MPs in the House that are sound on the issues that matter at the moment.

After we’ve got STV? Whole different ball game, but that’s for the future.

Diversity;

I can just see it now; economic growth is down to nothing, banks are going to the wall quicker than crash test dummies, public borrowing is high….David Cameron girds his loins to face the Party after George Osbourne has just told the faithful the sacred tax cut cow will have to be ritually slaughtered…DC stands up and says comrades, we will be the first Conservative government to institute a minimum wage…..

Ok, so maybe I am being a little sarcastic but maybe you can see my point……I know there is some truth to what you are saying about it being within the remit of a ‘one nation’ Toryism….but the other main factor that mitigates against it is that Cameron’s Conservatism is a minority trend within his own party….,my point throughout this has merely been to say it is wrong to approach Labour voters and say there is no difference between the two parties….

Darrell

Yup. It would be a perfect opening for Cameron.

“George Osborne has told you what the country needs to do now to pull ourselves out of the mire Labour has pitched us into. These are measures that will need firm leadership of a united country. Our determination must be founded on our national social cohesion. When we have turned this very difficult corner, the Conservatives promise the nation that everyone wil share the benefits. Share through tax cuts and share through making sure that the work of all recieves its reward. I will not name amounts until we again have prosperity to share, but the Conservative Government that you will elect will put in place a floor below which noone’s pay will fall as well as reducing the taxes that all of us have to bear …”

Disraeli’s Toryism was a minority trend within his own party – all the time he led it.

Let’s just answer one thing: will the Tories be worse than New Labour? Indisputably, yes. While we can argue over whether the Tories will be more inclined towards civil libertarian arguments on both 42 days and ID cards, with my view leaning towards them being just as cavalier as New Labour on the former once in power while they’ll probably have to scrap ID cards as promised unless they want a major revolt, they will undoubtedly be worse on the welfare state, where they are essentially proposing Wisconsin style reforms and chain-gang/boot camps for out of work teenagers, on regulation and the City, where the current crisis will swiftly be forgotten, on foreign policy, where the neo-cons within the party more or less have full control, on taxation, as evidenced by their giveaway on inheritance tax, on education, where they favour an intensification of the academy program, on health, where the privatisation is likely to also intensify, and on crime and law and order, where they will build even more prison places than Labour and are likely to go with some form of zero tolerance and all that entails. I’ve argued consistently that I believe the Conservatives under Cameron will do everything that the ultra-Blairites always wanted to do, and they don’t have the opposition to it that has always been in the Labour party, even if Blair still almost always got his own way.

But as Jennie and others have argued, I simply cannot conscience voting Labour again. The final straw for me was the cancelling of the SFO inquiry into the Al-Yamanah deal; when a party starts blatantly interfering with the rule of law, it’s time for that party to be thrown out of office. The Tories incidentally completely supported that decision. Since I will never vote Conservative, that leaves me in my constituency with the Lib Dems, who are way behind in 3rd place, likely to be a wasted vote. Perhaps the Greens will stand this time round, but they didn’t before. It won’t be our fault if the Tories get in and make things much much worse; it will be Labour’s.

I think the dividing issue between the parties is ID cards.

Clearly Labour is for them and the LibDems are against, so I’d like to know which way the Conservative leadership would swing. I doubt Cameron would want to upset the establishment and since whatever he chose would split his party I think he would come out in favour of them, albeit with compromises.

If a referendum on ID cards could be forced, or the LibDems manage to turn the next election into a referendum on ID (a dangerous tactic from third place) I think we’d see a clear shift in public opinion. It struck me just how much this subject has been underestimated when a friend of mine stated unequivocally this week that she’d go further than risk imprisonment and actually seriously contemplate suicide over the prospect of a legal requirement to carry a biometric RFID card in any circumstances!

I think it would definitely be an epoch defining event if everybody who might but hasn’t voted LibDem because of tactical reasons decided to unify on an issue like ID cards then I think they would cause a radical upset (and I might help them campaign on the issue too).

I think the main question for me is this, would I rather there is a shit Tory government, where we have to give our time and resources to trying to fight inequality and poverty, as well as xenophobia and upholding human rights in accordance with the EHCR, all of which is perfectly able to be done legally…

…or would I rather there was a shit Labour government where we have to give our time and resources to fighting illiberal legislation, fighting the database state, and infringement on civil liberties, as well as xenophobia and upholding human rights in accordance with the EHCR, only some of which can be done without being labelled a criminal and, potentially, a terrorist?

Given that the first can also, with the right voting patterns, mean that the Lib Dem’s as a party have a stronger chance of taking power in the not too distant future I really know which one I will be reluctantly more happy with, if happy can be the right word.

thomas,

Clearly Labour is for [ID cards] and the LibDems are against, so I’d like to know which way the Conservative leadership would swing. I doubt Cameron would want to upset the establishment and since whatever he chose would split his party I think he would come out in favour of them, albeit with compromises.

Cameron has pledged several times to abandon the ID card scheme, particularly the National Identity Register (the intrusive database behind the sceme). I think there would be some controversy if there was a u-turn on this.

The political problem with ID cards seems twofold:

1. a majority of people continue to support the principle of the introduction of ID cards (but not a specific system);

2. it is way down on the list of things that matter to most people.

I don’t rate Clegg, and think he has taken the LibDems much too far towards a neo-classical liberal stance. Right-wing, in other words.

ukliberty, I’m not sure that’s wholly accurate.

Cameron has pledged to abandon this ID scheme, not all schemes outright. I’m sure he prefers to leave a favorable impression by fudging clear statements than alienating potential voters on either side – because he needs every vote he can get – he would be insane to rule them out absolutely when the best indications imply that a majority is (as you say) in favour of them and anyway he looks instinctively willing to compromise any principles he’s got to gain power.

Ask members of his party, however, and you’ll find them split right down the middle, so it’s no wonder he wants to marginalise the potential damage this issue could do him if he is pressed on it.

she’d go further than risk imprisonment and actually seriously contemplate suicide over the prospect of a legal requirement to carry a biometric RFID card in any circumstances!

a) in which case she’s a gibbering clown
b) luckily, nobody is proposing a legal requirement to carry any kind of ID card in any circumstances

#39
b) I’m glad you’re confident of that,
a) even gibbering clowns have a right to be heard.

thomas, it would be odd to promise to abandon schemes that aren’t being proposed, developed, or deployed, wouldn’t it?

I’m not sure why you think Cameron has been “fudging clear statements” (surely a contradiction in terms), as it seems to me he’s been very clear: his team will scrap the ID card scheme (the ID cards and the National Identity Register) if they form the next Government. I’m not sure how you can get more clear than that.

Now, there does remain some concern about their policies regarding ‘the surveillance society’ and ‘the database state’.

I don’t know what evidence you have for saying the Conservative party is split down the middle. As for the public, the majority isn’t nearly so large as it used to be</a.

As for alarming voters by promising to abandon the scheme, I hope you’re not doing what many people seem to do, which is to lend each issue equal weight. Identity cards just aren’t very important to people relative to say, the economy, or law and order.

john b, nobody (nowadays in Parliament, anyway) seems to be proposing a legal requirement to carry any ID card in any circumstances, but the Government intends we should all eventually be compelled to enrol on their intrusive database (initially de facto, in that our lives will be made more difficult if we are not enrolled, and later de jure), and since it involves fingerprints (which may or may not work) we ourselves will be the identity ‘card’, so the card itself seems somewhat irrelevant in this context.

But absolutely right, suicide seems a bit drastic.

Voting for the Lib Dem’s is like putting your hand in a blender. It’s pointless and it will hurt you. Labour policies are coming back to roost and the whole thing is a naked flame to blue touch paper.

I’m a tax payer too. I’ve lived here for my 40 years and paying such a high amount of tax, I’m sickened to the pit of my stomach. I’m absolutely fed up to the back teeth of governance in this country and am watching the country I love absolutely dying on its arse. I can trace my family back five or six generations to England each side. I’m about as English as you can find, and I’m saddened by recent political events.

I’m a father of four lads, married and entitled to no benefits, never have been, never will. I’ve worked my way up the greasy pole, paying my own way to qualify as a solicitor from the back end of a South Birmingham Council Estate. Nothing was free, nothing comes free and absolutely everything costs – including my education following the dustbin of a comprehensive system that told me I should ‘try to get a job at Rover’ (my careers teacher)

Explain to me will you the idea of ‘fairness’ because folks who don’t want to work,don’t. EU tourists who want to use and abuse the NHS at my expense do so freely. The whole system is screwed. The ‘poor’ are paid for by the ‘rich’. Pull the other one. Poor in this country now means owning a car that’s five years old or older, or scammed through the motability scheme and having only one Sky + box. There are, of course those in real need – but there’s a massive, growing, bulging underclass of people who don’t want to work and want the likes of the author above and I to pay for it. The truth is that immigration policies in the UK are so historically shambolic they’ve caused a serious car crash and we’re mopping up the pieces now.

I hate the EU. I hate the very concept of it. I absolutely abhor the immigration policy we have – in short a free meal ticket for anyone in the EU to come and go as they please. We’re a tiny, tiny island of hard working, mainly working classes ( I speak for myself). The idea of fairness is that we’re allowed to roam and settle in other parts of the EU. Let’s be honest eh? Am I thinking of migrating to Romania or Hungary? Why are we so surprised that so many Eastern Europeans have flocked to the UK? I would, and I don’t blame them… but it’s muggings here who sees little or nothing back and tens and tens of thousands of pounds taxed.

No I’m not ignorant of the EU, I had to study it at graduate and post grad level, and what I learned shocked me to the core. Disparate nations tied under a federal banner. Try doing that with the North and South Americas. The idea is ludicrous. There’s massive widescale fraud throghout the EU (the budget hasn’t been ratofied for 10 years because of it) and the whole crazy idea of a single monetary policy has crippled most of the member states. Laws at are odds with member states and Europe declares itself as sovereign over respective parliaments. What a mess.

Immigration here has been shocking, pitiful and downright unfair on those who pay tax. The UK has turned a blind eye to scores of illegal immigrants – and the emphasis is ‘illegal’ combined with the preposterous idea of a revolving door for EU members. Cory is in that lacuna that is caught by a government desperate to put a salve on the wrongs of the last thirty or so years and that is plainly wrong. There’s been a knee jerk reaction from a government that is yet again ill conceived and poorly thought out.

Alongside the problems we then have the ridiculous Human Rights Act and Convention. Those who have a minority interest continually shout foul. In our free thinking society, the Government is politically correct, the majority have no voice and we encourage xenophobia. I’m fed up about it and everyone seems to worried to even think about mentioning it.

Sadly we do however need to shut the door, tighten up, do something to curb the influx. A line has to be drawn somewhere. There is a massive growing disquiet amongst the ordinary folks who work hard and are consistently shafted. Thank goodness the government are doing something, anything, because the whole thing is outrageously unsustainable, but more thought should be given to the mechanics of change.

In a nutshell then, too little too late, but the UK absolutely has to do something to address the ludicrous problem respective governments have created. The situation is so serious, there could be civil unrest. Don’t hold your breath and think the Government will help. They consistently ignore their own, we’re used to it.

ukliberty, I agree that it was a drastic statement and it shocked me to hear it, but I think it is important to know that such views are held because the world of officialdom has a responsibility to answer the concerns they raise.

As for any statements Cameron has made he has made plenty of contradictory noises in his attempt to keep his own side together – which doesn’t fill me with trust about anything he is likely to do. I’ll admit at this point that I voted Conservative under Major and I am prepared to consider what they offer, but on this form there doesn’t seem to be much to hang my hat on.

Maybe Cameron’s fudging is why his party is experiencing such a drastic fall in membership – you tell me?

Maybe Cameron’s fudging is why his party is experiencing such a drastic fall in membership – you tell me?

I have no idea if he’s fudging statements about other things than ID cards, or how far and why his party membership has fallen!

Although I seem to remember John Redwood mentioning (in an article about party funding) that years ago the Tories used to have around 750,000 members (and £10 from each of these would have been a nice contribution to party coffers). They don’t have anywhere near 750,000 members now.

But I have made notes from a couple of inquiries into political disengagement, as a result from my interest in party funding. There is a sense of distance – people feel that parties are only interested in them at election times – and party members feel they don’t have enough of a say over party policy development. Also people feel that parties require them to commit to too broad a range of policies. These seem to be among the reasons why party membership is falling – the Labour party has lost about half its membership over the past eleven years – even as participation in ‘informal’ politics is rising.

So I’m not sure how greatly fudging contributes to falling membership. I’m inclined to think (but I confess it is no more than speculation) that denial of opportunity to get involved in policy development is a big factor, it fits into this sense that people are only considered at election times and when their subscription money is due. This sense that parties aren’t interested in you once they have your tenner.

(As an aside, on the issue of trust – while there is a lack of trust in politicians in general, people tend to trust their local MPs. So again I think ‘distance’ comes into play here – and it’s an area where the EU is disadvantaged, because it is seen as even more remote from us as individuals than Parliament.)

Paul Nicholls, what’s wrong with the “Human Rights Act and Convention”?


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