During the 2010 UK election, I created a blog comprised of links to relevant press articles and media videos - together with my own thoughts as the election progressed. For the purpose of this exercise, however, I've not included the links (they can be seen in the original blog). Accordingly, this is a straightforward record of the thoughts as I wrote them.....
2nd. April, 2010.
Although I might not complete it until tomorrow, what more appropriate date could there be to start a blog about the general election? After all, few would argue that there have been many more people fooled on an election day than ever was the case on the first day of April.
Anyway, since I became eligible to vote in the 1950s, I have, at various times, been a member of a trade union and an employer; so, it's hardly surprising that I've supported candidates from all three major political parties over those years.
Perhaps, that lack of bias might entitle me to offer some well-informed thoughts with whomsoever happens to pass by this secluded corner of the world wide web in the lead-up to this coming election.
So, here goes………..
Historically, the political party most people vote for is the one which was supported by the household in which they were raised. For my part, I was brought-up by my mother's family in north Wales and they voted Liberal (although, they would probably support Plaid Cymru, nowadays). On the paternal side, although his father would probably have voted Labour, my own father become a prominent businessman and voted Tory.
Since those days, political parties have changed enormously. In some cases, even their names have changed and, although never especially interested in politics, I have been sufficiently aware to have formed my own opinion and I'll try to summarise where I think they are today and suggest what I expect from them…...
The Conservatives are the party which has probably changed the least and I believe most voters will still have a pretty good idea of what Tory candidates stand for. On the national level, their inclination is to side with the interests of industry, commerce and the employer. On a local level, I really don't believe there is much (if any) difference between how each party represent individual constituents.
Labour is the party which has probably changed the most. Thanks to Messrs. Blair, Brown, Campbell, Mandelson & Co., they have turned a party which, at one time, attracted predominately 'working-class' voters into one which has broadened its appeal beyond anything anyone might have imagined. In doing so, however, they have caused damaging schisms within the party. So, to explain what I expect from what are now called New Labour candidates isn't easy because of inconsistency within their ranks.
That leaves the Liberal Democrats. In the past, they could promise almost anything with the confidence of not having to meet their commitments. During this election, however, they might end up holding the 'balance of power' and I believe that has meant that some of their more radical ideas have been put on the 'back burner'. To sum up what to expect from their candidates, I believe a significant attraction is their freedom to exercise their own conscience rather more than might be the case in the other two parties.
More to follow………..
4th. April, 2010.
Having suggested that where a person was raised often influenced their choice of political party, on the eve of our golden wedding anniversary, I'm reminded that the first serious difference of opinion my wife and I ever had was during the 1959 general election - which was actually a few months before we actually tied the knot.
Although her father was from middle-class family, my wife was raised by her mother who lived on a council estate; so, it goes almost without saying that she was minded to vote for the Labour candidate. My own background was rather more privileged and I supported the Tory.
As I write, I really can't remember who voted for whom. I do know, however, that in those days, it wouldn't have been unusual for a husband to expect his wife to pay some heed to the 'Obey' section of the marriage ceremony and, interestingly, as the years have passed, although I have voted for all three of the major parties, my wife has become a strong supporter of conservative principles.
The main lesson to be drawn from my own experiences is that it is difficult to understand why anyone should feel 'obliged' to support one or another political party just because ones parents did so. Sadly, however, this does seem to be the case - even in these enlightened times.
I'm reminded of 1997 when NEW Labour won their famous victory. By that time, having been self-employed for many years, despite an occasional flirtation with other parties, my natural inclination was usually to vote Conservative. Paradoxically, however, I had always harboured a quiet regard for what Karl Marx espoused. Anyone who has studied what Clement Attlee, Nye Bevan & Co. achieved using socialist principles after WW2 can't help but be impressed.
Since those times, however, much as I respected socialism, I have grown to distrust socialists. In my opinion, far too many abandon their principles the moment they are elected into office. Trade union officials, local government officers, and MPs become capitalists within moments of gaining 'power'. In so doing, I believe they have betrayed those who voted for them and, as a consequence, I hold many of them in contempt.
Having said that, many Conservatives MPs weren't a lot better. Some seemed to be doing all they could to drag the party into the gutter. Sleaze became a byword for the Tories and I suspect it was only Neil Kinnock's crazed, self-congratulatory, antics in the lead-up to the 1992 election which allowed John Major to remain in office.
Returning to the 1997 election, although I recognised that the Tories were probably a spent force, I had also reached a point where I felt that many of the younger generation had little or no concept of how easily Labour governments had turned their back on socialism. So, I reckoned it might not be a bad idea for the Great British public to be given the opportunity to experience their duplicity - and inviting that nice young Tony Blair to take the helm might open their eyes.
In the event, I hadn't realised just how quickly he would embrace capitalism and, in so doing, Mr. Blair became the finest Tory Prime Minister this country has had since the redoubtable Mrs. Thatcher. Furthermore, during the early years of his chancellorship, Gordon Brown made no secret of the fact that he would do nothing to change the systems and procedures his predecessor, Ken Clarke, had put into place.
It wasn't surprising, therefore, that it didn't take too long for the real socialists within the government to realise that they may have been hoodwinked - but it was too late for them to do anything about it. Even John Prescott was wrong-footed by the old employers' ruse of inviting poacher to become gamekeeper. By the way, I wonder how long will it be before he allows his sainted and long-suffering wife to 'persuade' him to accept a peerage?
Anyway, the point I'm making in this particular contribution is that despite a reluctant recognition that they have been taken for a ride my Blair & Co., I'm astonished by how many of those who voted for him seem unable - and, I dare say, unwilling - to consider the alternatives available to them.
Now that, in addition to being rather stupid, is sad.
8th. April, 2010.
Probably the most obvious factor which is emerging from this blog is my failure to understand why so many people seem to have gone through life wearing blinkers - especially when it comes to politics.
Now, to some extent, this is understandable in childhood - but, speaking from my own experience, by the time I had reached voting age, I had begun to realise that there was a lot to be gained from studying points of view other than those I had (in effect) inherited.
For someone from a relatively sheltered background, national service provided an especially good environment to learn what life is really all about. I learned, for example, that those who received a good education are better equipped to be officers (i.e. management) than those who became NCOs (i.e. shop stewards). I was one myself, but I would hate to imagine what would happen if the military was run by NCOs.
To some extent, the same principles apply to industry and commerce; so, it seems perfectly reasonable to me that those who received the best education should manage and those less well-educated be managed. A significant difference between military and civilian life, however, is that (in the forces) both sides of the so-called 'divide' respect the other absolutely. Each recognises that one couldn't function effeciently without the other.
Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be the case in civilian life.
When I was a member of a trade union, I discovered that there are many within the movement who are motivated by pure envy. Sadly, more often than not, these are the ones who seek office and, by their actions, have given the trade union movement a reputation which doesn't necessarily represent the views of most of those who pay their subscriptions. Furthermore, history has shown that delegating too much control to the unions has been a recipe for disaster - as was demonstrated by Mr. Callaghan and his comrades in the seventies.
Now, let me explain that there have been times when I have been equally disturbed by the effects of turning too far to the right and I will examine that issue in a later blog. From the point of view of this one, however, although Mrs. Thatcher and her government did everything which was deemed necessary to curb the power of the trade unions, recent industrial disputes are testimony to the fact that trade unions are still able to exercise their right to strike.
Incredibly, as we approach the coming election, there are some who still use Mrs. Thatcher as 'tool' to stir up hatred for the Tories. Equally unfortunate is the manner in which some of the opposition front bench are being characterised. Trite remarks on Twitter about class and priviledge are entirely spurious. It would be equally pointless for someone to use the aforementioned examples of Labour's ties with trade unions in the past as a valid argument to vote Conservative in 2010.
12th. April, 2010.
It may be because I find the musings of those who tend to be rather arty-farty far more intelligent and interesting than those who are more materialistic, that many of those whom I 'follow' on Twitter probably lean to the left in political terms.
What a shame, therefore, that - as much as I have enjoyed sharing opinions on a variety of subjects - I'm becoming tired of some of the negative and somewhat childish language which is creeping into Twittering since the election was announced.
Words like Cuntservative and fucktards, for example, add little to the political debate and, since this blog is a testament to the fact that I'm undecided about which way to cast my own vote, I can only say that the sort of behaviour to which I'm referring will not encourage me to side with those who resort to it.
14th. April, 2010.
In an earlier blog - when I expressed some concern about the dangers of leaning too far to the left in British politics - I promised to acknowledge that leaning too far to the right could be equally (if not more) damaging.
Having said that, however, in much the same way that socialism in this country has been fairly diluted by comparison with some other parts of the world, the same could be said of right-wing elements in our society. That is to say, apart from Mr. Mosley's blackshirts in the thirties and Mr. Griffin's numbskulls in more recent times, nothing the UK has produced could hold a candle to Messrs. Hitler, Mussolini, and Franco in Europe and General Pinochet and his ilk in South America.
Now, they really knew how to apply fascist policies.
Fortunately, there has never been anything that extreme in this country. However, incredibly, there were some who suggested that Mrs. Thatcher came into that category - but, that's absolute nonsense. There is little doubt, however, that towards the end of her reign - the Iron Lady leaned further to the right than might have been sensible; although how the poll tax should be her undoing is beyond me.
How can anyone argue that households with multiple wage earners - who can afford to run two, three, or more cars - should only pay the same rates as a little widow next door getting by on nothing more than a state pension?
So much for equality!
And the cruelest irony of that whole scenario was that the rioting was - to a very large extent - organised by movements (they know who they are) who would claim to support socialist principles.
16th. April, 2010.
The winner of the historic first televised debate involving the leaders of the three main UK political parties seems to depend upon which section of the press or media you consult.
Sky TV, for example, demonstrated their allegiance to the Murdoch empire by declaring David Cameron the winner. The Daily Mirror, on the other hand (no need to explain where their loyalties lie) claimed evidence of TORY FEARS AS DAVID CAMERON FLOUNDERS. Most other observers seem to think that young Mr. Clegg acquitted himself rather well.
My own opinion is that it doesn't really matter who 'wins' at this stage in the election process. One thing, however, is certain and that is that the only thing which prevented Gordon Brown from being declared 'the loser' is that that distinction goes to ITN (and Alastair Stewart, in particular) because they made a complete hash of the whole procedure. Let's hope Sky and the BBC make a better job of it.
18th. April, 2010.
I got the impression that - during the first TV debate - Gordon Brown seemed to be trying very hard to align himself with the Lib Dems. Now, however, he seems to distancing himself from them.....
Could it be that the fact that young Master Clegg is thought to have done rather well might be a factor in that sudden change of strategy?
At the same time, it's noticeable that the Conservatives have shifted their attack away from New Labour and towards the man with the golden tie.
Who would have thought it?
This election could become interesting.
26th. April, 2010.
Hopefully, it will heat up as the week progresses. However, as I write this, the election is becoming a bit of a bore. So much so, that there isn't one story about it in the top five stories on the BBC News web-page. Thankfully, however, there are still some who contribute to Twitter who can still get a bit excited about it.
27th. April, 2010.
As the general election approaches, although I might offer a more detailed appraisal at a later date, it might be interesting to jot down some of my thoughts at this stage in the build-up to the big day.
The first impression I have formed is that the UK is being drawn towards a political process which is more appropriate for choosing a president than for electing 650, or so, individual MPs.
This, in my opinion, is unfortunate.
One only has to be reminded of the sainted Tony Blair's efforts to introduce a neo-presidential system into Downing Street to realise that rejecting the cabinet format is a recipe for disaster. Few would argue, for example, that his decision to go to war could not possibly have been reached by more established methods of governing this country.
Returning to this election, it can't be ignored that the leaders of the three main political parties have been invited (some might say, forced) to take centre stage and, in the opinion of most, young Mr. Clegg seems to have gained the upper hand. It's very easy to be wise after the event - but, this is hardly surprising because he has very little to lose. The other two leaders, on the other hand, have almost everything to lose.
My second reaction to the recent hustings is that there might be a case to abandon the three-party system of government. Putting aside the fact that the Liberals haven't played a significant role in UK politics for the best part of a century, the fact remains that they were the original opposition to the Tories.
In the meantime, the Labour party assumed the mantle of 'anti-capitalist' with some success. However, although their sentiments were to be admired, the simple fact of the matter is that almost all the world has come to recognise that socialism has had its day.
So, to conclude this summary, it might be time for those who despise the Tories (and there are many) to understand that a single party of the left would be far more effective that two.
Mrs. Thatcher and Mr. Blair effectively consigned 'old' Labour to the rubbish bin and Mr. Brown & Co. don't seem to be doing very much to dig them out. So, perhaps, it's time for the original party which supported 'reform' to be given an opportunity to provide the main opposition to the Conservatives and for New Labour to fade away into obscurity. Maybe, a hung parliament might be the first step on that journey.
28th. April, 2010.
I think it's fair to assume that, although I have admitted to having voted for all three of the main UK parties over the last half century - or so, a significant number of those whom I follow or am being followed by on Twitter are a bit on the arty-farty side (as they say) and, as a consequence lean to the left in political terms.
This blog is for them.
There aren't many amongst those who voted for New Labour in 1997 who would deny they are disappointed that the euphoria which attended Tony Blair's election has dwindled to the point where many suspect they may have been deceived. Yet, despite his obvious faults - his unilateral decision to take this country to war, for example - there are still some who cling to the concept that his period in office was a success. However, the resignations of real socialists like Frank Field, Claire Short and Robin Cook, for example, suggests there were some who acknowledged a failure to live up to their promises.
Going on from that, there is a widely-held conception that Tony Blair resigned in an honourable reponse to an alleged pact involving Gordon Brown in a restaurant in Islington a decade, or so, previouly. This isn't true. He was forced to resign following a massive revolt by his own backbenchers.
Putting that aside, however, I have recently heard it claimed that, "whilst the last few years under Labour haven't been that groundbreaking, at least a lot was achieved in the first few years."
Sadly, however, that observation fails to acknowledge that New Labour - and Gordon Brown, in particular - made no effort to alter the fiscal plans his Tory predecessor made prior to the 1997 election. What's more, there is strong evidence to suggest that they have continued to 'steal' Conservative policies throughout their term in office.
Now, I would like to think that those who have taken the trouble to follow this blog will have recognised that a fundamental aim in putting it together is to draw attention to how many voters seem to be influenced by sentiment rather than common sense and fear rather than fact. For example, whomsoever made the aformentioned statement seems determined to remain loyal to a socialist heritage based on background (perhaps) together with (almost certainly) a lingering memory of being a child and a young adult during the Thatcher years. The consequence of these circumstances may have contributed towards the factor I mentioned earlier - i.e. fear (of the Tories) - which has proved to be stronger than the recognition of fact - i.e. the last few years under Labour haven't been groundbreaking.
Perhaps this is an appropriate time to point out that there are alternatives to both of the above!
30th. April, 2010.
Probably the most significant and, perhaps, historic event of this election. The Guardian ditches Labour and backs the Liberal Democrats......
1st. May, 2010.
What, on earth is the world coming to?
Yesterday, The Guardian pledged its support for the Liberal Democrats and, today, a leading Daily Mail journalist urges readers not to vote for the Tories.
1st. May, 2010.
Now, The Observer also backs the Lib Dems....
2nd. May, 2010.
Now, The Independent turns against Labour....
2nd. May, 2010.
Something I find rather difficult to understand about the situation in which the Labour party finds itself at the moment, is the fact that it seems to be the general concensus of opinion that the current Prime Minister is to blame.
OK. So, he's having a pretty bad run, but I believe Gordon Brown is a man of some integrity who was placed (quite deliberately, in my opinion) in an almost untenable position by the actions of his thoroughly disingenuous predecessor.
To add insult to injury, this unfortunate episode has been overseen - and some might say, orchestrated - by someone to whom he turned for assistance; I mean, of course, the iniquitous Baron Mandelson of Foy in the County of Herefordshire and of Hartlepool in the County of Durham.
Wouldn't it be interesting to imagine what The Bard of Stratford-upon-Avon could have made of such shenanigans?
5th. May, 2010.
It's said that 'actions speak louder than words', and - tomorrow - talk will become meaningless. Nevertheless, talk about tactical voting seems to be all the rage, at the moment.
The reason I'm mentioning this is that, from my own point of view, voting tactically is unlikely to have any effect whatsoever because I live in a rural area where the prospect of the Tory MP being unseated is extremely unlikely.
Interestingly, however, the house next to where I live happens also to be in the next constituency. What's more, that particular constituency includes a significant urban area and, as a consequence, has been represented by both Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs for the past few elections.
Not surprisingly, I envy my neighbours because it seems that they have the opportunity to cast a rather more 'meaningful' vote than my own. What's more, although I make no claim to understand what is meant by 'Proportional Representation' (in its many forms), if it went some way towards getting rid of what seems to be inequities within the current system - I'm all for it!
5th. May, 2010.
So, how would I sum up tomorrow's election?
Well, despite the vitriol emenating from the left, the fact remains that there will always be an element within the UK who would hope to preserve the traditional values of the right. Accordingly, the Conservative party will still be a force to be reckoned with when this - and many more elections are over and done with.
The same, however, might not be said of the Labour party - not with the same conviction, at any rate. Already changed beyond any recognition of what they were before the 1997 election, they continue to abandon their working-class heritage in an effort to appeal to 'middle England'. Furthermore, somewhat alarmingly, there are signs that their star might be in decline. Even before a single vote has been cast, there are elements within the party who are taking steps to elect a new leader.
In the meantime, to an extent beyond even their own wildest dreams, the Liberal Democrats find themselves in a position to regain their historic role in providing the radical alternative to the Tories. As a by-product of their resurgence, would it be too much to suggest that the electorate have been presented with a unique opportunity to restore a genuine two-party system of government to the UK by casting Labour aside altogether?
Maybe - but, I can dream.
In any event, whichever party ends up governing the country for the next five years (or so) they might grow to consider it to have been a poisoned chalice - because the steps required to resolve the current situation will be hard to bear and whomsoever has to administer them might not end up 'the winners'.
6th. May, 2010.
Well, that's it.
I've cast my vote.
Not, however, because I felt compelled to show my support for one party or another - but because I firmly believe anyone who chooses not to vote doesn't deserve to be able to express an opinion after the election.
Interestingly, although I left home with a pretty good idea of who I was going to vote for, I changed my mind at the very last moment - but, more of that later......
When I went to bed last night, in line with a theme which had been developing as this blog progressed, I had decided to vote for the Liberal Democrats. Not because I was especially enchanted with their manifesto or those who presented it - but, rather more as a means of demonstrating my reluctance to support either of the other two main parties.
I wouldn't deny that, given a straightforward choice between a left or a right-wing political party, my natural inclination would be to support the one on the right - i.e. the Conservative party. This, by the way, isn't because I'm especially fond of them or what they represent - but, it's because, in my experience, the Tories deliver what it says on their tin.
Speaking of 'what's on the tin', as this election campaign has progressed it has been a source of absolute bewilderment to me how many people seem to be deciding who they'll vote for on the basis of events which occurred the best part of thirty years ago. I mean, of course, Margaret Thatcher's regime. Putting aside the rights and wrongs of what she did (and there are many), the fact remains that she achieved what she had promised to do.
The same, however, cannot be said of the socialists - and, in particular, Tony Blair's New Labour. In addition to abandoning long-held working-class principles and adopting (some might say, stealing) Conservative policies, they certainly have not delivered what they promised - a referendum on the European common market, for example.
Anyway, returning to this morning.........
In line with what I had already decided, voting for Labour wasn't on my agenda. Furthermore, since I see characteristics in David Cameron's behaviour with which I'm not entirely comfortable (he reminds me just a little bit too much of Tony Blair) that counted the Conservatives out, too. So, I set off to vote comfortable with my conclusion that the Great British public deserve a hung parliament - and voting for the Liberal Democrat might achieve that end.
Unfortunately, however, when I arrived at the polling station, I discovered that my candidate was the only one who lived outside the constituency. So, I changed my mind and voted for someone else.
7th. May, 2010.
I suppose, there's a certain irony, having spent some time putting this little blog together over the past two or three weeks, that when it came to 'the compression point' - i.e. Election Night - I should be visited by a dose of the trots (the non-political kind) which sent me to bed at about the same time that the polling stations were being closed.
Anyway, when I woke up this morning and had a quick gander at how the election had gone, it seemed to me that there were an awful lot of another kind of trots who had been invited to carry out an exit strategy.
I can't wait to see what happens.
All of these shenanigans (and those which are bound to follow) only serve to make me wish I had a better command of language than that with which I've been endowed. For example, I'm sure something could be made of the scenario where the effluent are trying to get rid of the affluent - or, vice versa.
7th. May, 2010.
Now that electoral reform is all the rage, perhaps the first step should be to find a way to get rid of that tawdry little man who sits in the Speaker's chair as a testament to the vindictiveness of a group of shabby New Labour MPs.
By the way, I suspect the only reason the UKIP guy's plane hit the ground is that it was trying to get down to an altitude where the little s**t could read the writing.........
7th. May, 2010.
Here is the noose:
It's a hung parliament.
8th. May, 2010.
Almost as soon as the results had been declared, someone (he knows who he is) commented on Twitter, "Now we have positive confirmation that the Labour party must be re-built on its original basis of principle, and not expediency."
As it may have become obvious as this blog has developed, my own opinion, for what it's worth, is that - accepting the fact that there is liitle doubt that allowing expediency to replace principle may be the least of their sins - demolition might be a more appropriate course of action for New Labour.
After all, young Mr. Clegg has reminded the Great British public that the time may have come for the original party of reform in the UK to be given the opportunity to provide a credible opposition to the Tories. If forming an unlikely alliance might be the first step in that direction, who am I to discourage it?
11th. May, 2010.
Sensational rumours are beginning to emerge that Manchester United football club are refusing to relinquish The English Premier League title.
In a further development, Arsene Wenge and Pat Rice, of Arsenal (who came a distant third), are reported to have spent the weekend negotiating with Roman Abramovich and Carlo Ancelotti of Chelsea (who actually won most points) with a view to sharing the trophy in return for certain concessions.
In the meantime, however, unknown to the Chelsea bosses, Sesc Fabricas, Sol Campbell, and Theo Walcott have been holding secret discussions with Gary Neville, Rio Ferdinand and Wayne Rooney about the possibility of forming a rainbow alliance with newly promoted Stevenage Borough FC, Glasgow Rangers, Linfield, and TN Saints (formerly Oswestry Town and Llansantffraid FCs).
Sir Alex Ferguson, who revealed the talks in a hastily arranged news conference outside Old Trafford, also announced that (for the good of the beautiful game) he intended to resign his position of team manager. However, in order to allow a successor to be selected, he would remain in office until the start of the next season.
In all of these quite extraordinary events, there is no evidence to suggest that a single season-ticket or shareholder has been consulted.
n.b. This was actually in the Sports blog - but, I thought it was appropriate.