TAG | Labour
The Economist has a blog post about the timing of Ed Milliband’s speech to the March 26 rally. Whilst there is an interesting analysis of why Mr Milliband spoke so early, far more interesting is 3 paragraphs that neatly sum up the range of opinion about how and when to get the public finances back under control:
I think Mr Miliband’s problem boils down to this. Most people in this country, including a lot of people I met on the march today, think that Britain faces a period of painful decisions and choices, because the country has been spending too much. Within that majority, there are people who are (for variously selfless and selfish reasons) attracted to a Keynesian argument that deep, front-loaded cuts are counter-productive, and so some painful decisions should be postponed. That is an intellectually respectable argument: this newspaper does not agree with it, but there are people of goodwill on both sides of the debate.
Then there is a hard core of people who simply do not accept that the money has run out. These flat-earthers think that there need not be any cuts, because if you only taxed the banks/bankers/multinationals/tax avoiders/the rich a lot more, you would unearth a hidden money pot filled with so many billions that we could keep spending as before. I don’t think Mr Miliband agrees with them. I don’t think most voters in Britain agree with them. I don’t think even most of the marchers in Hyde Park agree with that hard core.
But that hard core has a firm grip on Labour’s base, as could be seen on Friday in Nottingham. And Mr Miliband, by endorsing the wider anti-cuts movement, risks becoming associated with that hard core and their breathtaking lack of realism. He said again in Hyde Park that he was proud to be addressing the “mainstream majority”. But he did not look proud: his nerves gave him away. “It is so important that this be a peaceful protest,” he said at one point, almost pleadingly. The crowd seemed pretty indifferent to his presence, in return.
The Irish Bailout highlights the urgent need for the UK to get to grips with the national debt. Any financial package agreed with Ireland will come with stringent demands on cuts to the Irish budget to ensure that the country can meet its debt obligations. We cannot afford for a similar situation to arise in the UK.
That is why the Coalition Government’s plans for dealing with the budget deficit and the public finances are so critical. By criticising every single reduction in spending proposed by the Government, Labour and the SNP are burying their heads in the sand. It is vital that the UK Government remain in charge of the deficit reduction programme, rather than have it imposed by national creditors as part of a financial rescue package. It cannot be appropriate for Germany, France, the US and China to impose decisions on cuts on us.
If Labour want to regain some credibility on economic issues, they need to be open about what cuts they would make. They need to be honest that the scale and scope of their plans would need to be broadly in line with Coalition proposals. That way all parties can have an honest, open discussion about how to ensure that reduced spending is as fair as possible, and ensures growth in the economy. If Labour actually suggest constructive alternatives to any decisions they oppose, their opposition could be taken far more seriously.
When Greece faced its budget crisis before the election, there were fears that the problems would spread. The countries expected to have issues were in order of concern, Spain, Ireland, Portugal and the UK. That was a reflection of the relative scale of each country’s debt compared to their GDP and their ability to manage their debt. Prior to the Comprehensive Spending Review, there were very real concerns that the UK could have gone the same way as Ireland has done. That is precisely the prospect we would face if Labour’s suggestions in opposition were taken seriously.
There is also a lesson for Scotland’s economy in the Irish crisis. If Scotland were independent and RBS and HBOS were headquartered here, then the crisis facing Scotland would make the Irish situation look like a missed mortgage payment. Scotland cannot be independent and also support a financial services sector the size it currently has. Without those businesses in Scotland, the loss of jobs and corporate taxation receipts would be equally devastating to the Scottish economy.
Labour started racking up the UK’s national debt a long time before the credit crisis, spending more than they received in tax receipts in every year since 2001. We now have a legacy of debt that genuinely threatens independence and democracy in our economic decisions making. It is time that Labour take responsibility for their mistakes and engage genuinely and constructively to try and get our debt under control.
I have been selected as the Liberal Democrat candidate for Angus North and Mearns for the Scottish elections next May. I have also been selected as one of the Liberal Democrat Regional Candidates for the North East.
I am very grateful to the Liberal Democrat members in Angus and the Mearns for their support and their decision to select me as their candidate. I am looking forward to continuing the campaigns that we have been running in the area.
The SNP have said they will fight the next election on just the issue of independence. Most people are concerned about their jobs, rising prices and the economy. This shows how out of touch the SNP really are. They have been completely unprepared for the economic crisis, created by the Labour government.
In just five months, the Liberal Democrats in coalition have put in place plans to take 900,000 low earners out of income tax, restore a fair pension and to provide £2bn extra in child tax credits for poorer families. In stark contrast, in over four years, the SNP have failed to deliver on their hollow promises of more police, smaller class sizes and maintaining teacher numbers. The Liberal Democrats can do more for Scotland and for Angus and the Mearns.
Stonehaven Liberal Democrat Councillor, Peter Bellarby, said, “I am very pleased that Sanjay has been selected. Mike Rumbles has served Stonehaven and the Mearns well and I am sure that Sanjay will continue to listen and respond to the concerns people have in this area, just as Mike has done. In the revised constituencies, Mike Rumbles will be the candidate for Aberdeenshire West and I am sure that Mike and Sanjay will form an excellent partnership for this area.”
Liberal Democrat Cllr David May from Montrose, commented “I am delighted that Sanjay has ben selected. He has an excellent record on campaigning on local issues. He has called for the SNP government to reinstate funding to prevent coastal erosion and flooding, to provide relief to small businesses who received huge rises in their business rates and for a full time service at Forfar fire station. And he has been a strong supporter of Jill Campbell’s campaign for a flyover on the A90 at Laurencekirk Junction.”
David continued, “Angus North and Mearns is a new constituency for the Scottish Parliament. In the Mearns, residents have elected four Lib Dem councillors, Sir Robert Smith MP and an outstanding Liberal Democrat MSP, Mike Rumbles who has stood up for their needs at Holyrood. Unfortunately, SNP representatives have let down Angus residents. Now, Angus and Mearns residents will get a straight choice between an SNP candidate and a Liberal Democrat who will continue to fight for local people.”
Below: Sanjay campaigning for a flyover on the A90 at Laurencekirk, along with Laurencekikrk Flyover campaigners Jlll Campbell and Julie Watson, with Tavish Scott MSP, leader of Scottish Lib Dems, Mike Rumbles MSP, Sir Robert Smith MP and Montrose Cllr David May
In an amazing poll for the Sun from YouGov, the Liberal Democrats are in second place just 3% behind the Tories. Labour have been pushed back into 3rd place. The full results are Conservative 33%, Liberal Democrats 30% and Labour 28%.
Under our completely broken political system this could well lead to Labour having the most seats in parliament, despite having the fewest votes of the main three parties. The prediction from uniform swing calculators would be the Labour Party would have 275 seats, Conservatives 245 and the Liberal Democrats 99.
Is Labour worried and ashamed to drop back into 3rd place in the polls? Not in the slightest:
It is little wonder that after 13 years in government, the Labour Party has not enacted any meaningful political reform. Labour and the Tories are completely happy with the way things are. A system that denies millions of voters across the country a real voice in the way their country is run. A system that means that tens of thousands of voters across Angus will be denied genuine democracy.
John Prescott and the Labour Party should be ashamed of themselves for celebrating our broken political system.
This is why we must have real change in this elections. This is why we cannot let Labour and Conservative just pass the baton back and forth so they can continue to deny us genuine democracy and carry on their decades of corruption.
The Liberal Democrats would cap donations and limit spending by political parties, introduce independent audits of expenses and set out exactly what MPs can and cannot do. Voters would have the right to sack corrupt MPs.
We would introduce a fairer, proportional voting system so your voice is heard. Mike Weir was elected with just 1 out of 5 of those eligible, voting for him. Surely Angus deserves an MP with a better mandate than that. The Liberal Democrats are the only party who would introduce a system that supports that.
Before the Iraq War, we stood under a banner of “Not in My Name” in the two giant demonstrations in London against it. This YouTube video from WikiLeaks shows the video footage from a US helicopter gunship in Baghdad in 2007. The US soldiers believe that a group of men have weapons, including AK47′s and an RPG (Rocket Propelled Grenade launcher). They open fire, killing most of the men, leaving only one alive, but injured. In fact the men were all civilians, gathered around a Reuters photographer and his driver. The weapons were cameras. A van comes to try and help the injured Reuters driver and the soldiers open fire again, killing those trying to help. Two children in the van are injured.
It is an extremely graphic and disturbing video.
Before seeing the video, I wanted to give the soldiers the benefit of the doubt and appreciate that the realities of war sometime mean that there are situations close to the limit of what is acceptable. I thought it might be one of the situations in war that are appalling, but unavoidable.
Having forced myself to watch the entire video, I feel fairly confident in saying the US soldiers displayed appalling judgement. Those innocent men were killed unnecessarily, very likely unlawfully.
All wars are brutal and the media age is bringing that brutality home to us. We should not dismiss the brutality, just because it has always been that way. Instead it should be a wake up call to ensure that we only engage in wars if absolutely necessary.
Many civilians have been killed as a result of the war in Iraq, both by our own troops, in our name, by suicide bombers and as a result of a collapse into lawlessness. Some estimates put the civilian casualties in Iraq at 600,000. I am not sure I believe that figure, but it is clear that tens, if not hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children have lost their lives as a result of this war conducted in our name.
This was should never have happened, the public never supported it. It went ahead, because Labour and the Tories supported it. Because they did not have the integrity to properly scrutinise the legality and justification for the war.
Iraq still matters in the 2010 election, not just because we sent our soldiers to war under-equipped and under-paid, nor because legal advice was manipulated or ignored. Iraq still matters because we have a wholly undemocratic system that cannot hold a government to account. It matters because in the UK, there is little to stop an illegal war being conducted in our name, or civilians being murdered in our name.
And that will not change whilst either Labour or the Conservatives are still in power, because they will not lift a finger to provide real democracy in this country. For that reason, Iraq will matter not just in this election, but in every election, until we are able to say what is done in our name.