The Week in Politics
• David Cameron’s mask finally slipped this week with a deluge of stories – no doubt to the delight of Thatcher and the blue rinse – indicating the nasty party were well and truly back: un-green, mean and ready for inaction. The week began with a vitriolic attack on the prime minister – no actual policies, you understand, just sneers and insults. He even had to bus in a crowd of young Conservatives to make him look good. Can’t let those common people in, far too dangerous, unlikely to clap on cue.
And the subjust of his speech? Reform, new politics, change etc. etc… The reality? As Left Foot Forward revealed on Monday, last year his MPs voted against proposals to reform parliamentary privilege, and on Wednesday, Cameron’s MEPs voted against proposals to crack down on tax dodgers and tax havens. Now why, you might ask, would he do a thing like that? I wonder…
He also gave a particularly illiberal interview to the Express. The face may have
been airbrushed changed but it’s the same old Tories. All in all, you might even describe Cameron as a “roadblock to political reform”.
• The “Robin Hood” tax campaign went live on Wednesday. A financial transactions tax, of the order of 0.05 per cent – 50p for every £1,000 spent – it could be implemented nationally, at European level or, ideally, globally. No other single measure would raise so much money or do so little harm.
Many of David Cameron’s Conservatives, however, described it as “hopelessly naive” and a “fairytale”, leading Tory bloggers seemingly enraged at the prospect of providing, in the time it takes to read this word, 9,000 children in Africa with a pencil and an exercise book. David Taylor’s excellent article earlier today exposes them and rebuts their myths.
• The week’s other main story was the vote in the Commons for a referendum on electoral reform, opposed, you guessed it, by the Conservatives, Diane Abbott and the DUP.
The defeat prompted a quite extraordinary video performance from Eric Pickles, who claimed that, in England, “under AV, despite the Conservatives polling more votes, Labour would have more MPs in Parliament” – failing to mention that, under first-past-the-post, despite the Conservatives polling more votes, Labour got 286 MPs in England while the Conservatives got 194.
The referendum bill, however, might be held up and voted down by the Lords. That’s David Cameron’s unelected, hereditary peers in the Lords. How might one best describe such a person, what was that phrase of his? Oh yes, a “roadblock to political reform”.
Progressive of the week
Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, who announced plans to create 57,000 jobs by investing £400 million upgrading disused shipyards to enable the production of off-shore wind turbines. The proposals, said Clegg, would enable firms to manufacture off-shore wind turbines in the UK, instead of seeing them built abroad due to out-of-date facilities. In an exclusive interview, he told Left Foot Forward:
“We need to remove the blockages – lack of space, access to facilities and transport to off-shore sites. Refurbishing seven of the ports will be a shot in the arm to increasing industry and manufacturing that will benefits regions like the North East.”
Regressive of the week
Leader of the hardline Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) party, Jim Allister, who sought to turn back the clock 40 years on last night’s Question Time, describing the policing and justice agreement as “appaling” and “one of the worst deals”.
Much like Nick Griffin last October, he attracted next to no support among the audience, and was ripped to shreds by his fellow panelists, particularly the DUP’s Sammy Wilson and Sinn Fein’s Gerry Kelly, who told Allister:
“I have a huge mandate i belong to a party which has a huge mandate, you do not… Now here’s the thing: we all have to live here.
“I have a mandate, it’s a very strong mandate. People pick me. I don’t try and pick the people who represent Unionism, so don’t try and pick the people who represent Republicans and nationalists. I am there as of right as is every other elected representative…
“All that you are frankly is a political dinosaur.”
Evidence of the week
The “Fair Society, Healthy Lives” report, out yesterday, which said the Government’s plan to raise the retirement age “could be stopped dead in its tracks” as three-quarters of people will be “too ill to work” into their late sixties, with “everyone except those at the top” affected.
The report, by University College London’s Sir Michael Marmot, also said that, despite life expectancy for the worst-off improving by 2.9 years in the last decade, “up to 2.5 million years of life are being lost each year in England as a result of poor people dying prematurely”.
Conor Pope’s Blog The Week
This week Conor explains the Joanne Cash in/out/in/out shake-it-all-about affair and the intricacies of electoral reform, before going #Labourdoorstep-ping:
What’s trending on Twitter
According to our friends at Tweetminster, this week’s top political stories and trends are:
1) The Robin Hood tax – more people added the RHT twibbon (over 800) than party twibbons;
2) George Osbone’s Facebook Q&A;
4) Joanne Cash resigning and then being reinstated;
5) The debate around the “death tax“; and
Tweetminster today published a report asking “Which is the most talked about party on Twitter?” – looking at the past nine working days, during which time there have been slightly more tweets about the Conservatives than Labour, with the overall volume falling sharply upon recess.
There was a tidal wave of condemnation for the Daily Mail’s racist cartoon yesterday. Here’s a selection of the best:
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