Print Story The big Brown mess we're in - part 3
Politics
By DullTrev (Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 07:11:58 AM EST) politics, Brown, New Labour, hope, vodka, fun loving cowwqas. (all tags)
You may want to review Part 1 and Part 2.

So if I think there is something wrong with British politics, what is it?



It seems to me that what British politics is missing at the moment is that simplest of things, a narrative.  In the previous two parts of this polemic, I have tried to weave a story together from disparate events.  Now, you and I both know that events are rarely that simple.  A does not lead to B that leads to C, and so on.  But sometimes that is partly true, and, frankly, we prefer to have the thread of a narrative running through these events.  People want to believe the world is explainable, and the story may be a complex scientific theory, a baroque religious myth, or even some amateurish scribblings like mine.  We cling to that story, because it makes us feel better.

And I contend we are better for these stories.  Stories help us to make sense of the world, and just as importantly help us to understand ourselves.  They give us themes we can hold to guide us in our lives - will we be the the cowboy in the white hat, or the one who wears black?  Will we be Rapunzel, or Maid Marion?  Lancelot, or Arthur?  Hell, Roy Rogers or Trigger...

In politics, it is even more important to have a narrative to tell the public.  Usually the broad themes have come easy - it will always be the good guys (us) versus the bad guys (various).  We have seen this in the Cold War, we have seen this in our new 'clash of civilisations'.  But this is not enough.  We get bored with only one story.  What we also want is the story of where we are going, not just where we are.  We want to believe our masters have a plan, a destination in mind, a vision of what they want the country to be.

Tony Blair had that story.  He swept to power with the old story about a vibrant young country, Cool Britannia, which was going to take on the world with style and panache.  He told us that we, all of us, were going to make things better.  No problem was insoluble, and together we were going to throw of the troubles of the past.

He had a story, and we bought into it.  We liked it.  We wanted to be part of it.

But now?  Brown is not a storyteller.  He is dour, a competent administrator, a man who can get things done.  But he doesn't have the capacity to sparkle.  He doesn't have the ability to captivate, and that is what we yearn.  And that lack means we no longer let him be the man who gets things done.

But along comes Cameron, and he has a new story for us.  About a fresh faced young man who leads a kind party, who are coming to save us from the stuffy old sorts.  He is going to make the world right, he is going to heal the world, save the world with nice green policies.

It's a good story.  But there are better ones out there.

I'm now going to have a look at US politics to try and see where we can go.  I apologise in advance for my naivety and lack of understanding of American politics - I'm talking as a complete outsider, making wild assumptions based on inadequate press coverage.  So for all our American friends: Sorry.  But I'm going to tell you the story of how I see it.

Any successful political narrative, the narrative of a government, has to tell us who we are, and where we are going.  It has to reassure us about the future.  There are two basic ways of doing this.

The first has been used by the Republicans for a number of years now.  They will tell you a story about how great America is, about all the wonderful ideals and values it has, and that it has shared with the world.  And their vision for the future is to tell you how they will protect those values, they will keep them safe, protect the glories of the country from perils within the country, and from foreign lands.

The second has been used by Obama in the primaries.  He told a story of how great America is, about the wonderful ideals and values it has, and that it has shared with the world.  And his vision for the future is to take those values, to take those ideals, and to build on them.  His story is to tell you that yes, we have done so well, but we can do better.  His story is to tell you to never settle for what you have, never to rest on past glories, but to move forward, to strive to be better than you were.

This is, as you will have seen, a restating of the positions of conservative against progressive politics.  One seeks to preserve what is good, the other seeks to make it better.  One risks stagnation, one risks strife.  These two positions have been the dominant themes of western politics for as long as I can remember.  (Note that conservative versus progressive here doesn't split neatly down party lines - in the UK, you'd have to say under this model Thatcher was a progressive - she sought to change society.  I may not agree with it, but that's a different story.)

But the stories are more than this.  They are designed to elicit a certain response.  The first seeks to inspire fear - fear of the unknown, of change, of the future.  The second seeks to inspire hope - hope for improvement, for change, for the future.  And I think the American public are getting ready for hope.

Clinton's campaign seemed (again to a complete outsider) to be based a little bit on fear.  She portrayed herself as the Washington insider, someone who knew how the game was played, someone who could get things done by virtue of her experience.  Obama was the opposite - he portrayed himself as someone who would take the public's desire for change, and make it happen, regardless of the opposition.  One position is for those who fear failure, the other is for those who hope for success.

And that's why I don't think much of Cameron's story.  He's been very good at telling us who he isn't, about what he wouldn't be like.  But for me, he hasn't yet told us who he is.  He hasn't yet set out a clear vision for the future.  He hasn't told people of hope.  He's told us to fear more of the same.

I suppose that's why I can't give up on the Labour Party just yet.  They've always had the better stories.  They've given me stories of how the world can be better, of how we can work together to give every single one of us a better life, a more fulfilled life.  But they haven't been telling me that story for a long time.

New Labour wasn't based on hope.  Oh, they told us it was, they gave us hope, but the whole idea of it was based on fear.  The triangulation theory was there because the people at the top were afraid the public wouldn't be with them, wouldn't hope with them.  They had been out of power for 18 years, and they were afraid they'd stay there.  Fear built them a system that won elections, but didn't win the future.

But now I, at least, think things will have to change.  The game-plan they have used for the last three elections doesn't seem to be working now.  They can't rely on fear of the Tories anymore.  Fear isn't working.  Now, perhaps, they will turn to hope.

Even if they don't, I still believe things will change.  Because I believe the British people are, like the Americans, starting to turn away from fear.  If the Conservatives are to ride that feeling all the way, then they need to talk of hope too.  And once one of the major parties has, the other has to join in, or face utter defeat.

And that's a good thing.  Because I am tired of seeing non-entities lead us.  I am tired of slick debating tactics used to belittle both opponents and members of the public who don't play along.  I am tired of people I wouldn't want to work for making laws.  I am tired of middle managers as Prime Minister.  I am tired of politicians who are so professional.

Because I don't want smooth style and slick efficiency in politics.  Because I want to see someone with fire in their belly, passion in their heart, anger in their eyes, and righteousness in their voice.  Because I want a politician who has a vision for the future.  Because I want to see a politician who wants to change the world, not manage it.  Because I want to see a politician that believes.

Because I want to hope again.

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The big Brown mess we're in - part 3 | 71 comments (71 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Apologies by DullTrev (2.00 / 0) #1 Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 07:14:00 AM EST

I found this part very difficult, and I still am not happy with it, but time was passing... I have a lot of other stuff I wrote to try and fit into this section, and I may try and re-write at a later date. To get something out, I took the time-honoured route of drinking booze until I was hammering at the keyboard.

Further apologies for my grass caricature of the US political scene.

You may all feel free to mock me now.


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DFJ?
Actually... by atreides (2.00 / 0) #40 Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 06:27:15 AM EST
...I think your "grass caricature" of American was, without getting into minutiae,  pretty fundamentally "spot on" for the most part. 

He sails from world to world in a flying tomb, serving gods who eat hope.

[ Parent ]
Ah yes by DullTrev (2.00 / 0) #49 Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 09:06:30 AM EST

Grass caricatures are so much more accurate than gross ones.  When you smoke them.


--
DFJ?
[ Parent ]
What you want is a football team by R Mutt (4.00 / 4) #2 Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 07:23:45 AM EST
You don't really seem to know what specific policies you want. You do want to feel a strong sense of emotional identification with a group, and its successes and failures.

You really need a sports team, not a political party.

I know various policies I would want by DullTrev (4.00 / 3) #3 Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 07:26:53 AM EST

This article isn't about them.


I tried finding a football team, and ended up with Birmingham City.  I'm cursed.


--
DFJ?
[ Parent ]
You haven't done too badly by anonimouse (2.00 / 0) #5 Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 07:40:06 AM EST
Granted a few arresting moments here and there, but Birmingham seemed to have progressed from receivership to the Premiership; it doesn't seem too DOOMED to me.

Girls come and go but a mortgage is for 25 years -- JtL
[ Parent ]
Thanks for writing these DullTrev by Breaker (2.00 / 0) #23 Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 03:28:24 AM EST
You may also be interested in this
, which has a pop at each political party.

What would be your top 5 policies?


[ Parent ]
Hello pop-pickers by DullTrev (2.00 / 0) #64 Thu Jul 17, 2008 at 07:05:48 AM EST

Off the top of my head, 5 policies:

  • Move away from targeted benefits (including tax credits) and towards universal ones.
  • Increase higher rate of income tax.
  • Tax private schools as businesses, not charities.
  • Develop a truly independent nuclear deterrent.
  • Provide government backed loans over long repayment terms and low interest rates solely for investment into manufacturing industries.


--
DFJ?
[ Parent ]
In response... by Breaker (2.00 / 0) #67 Thu Jul 17, 2008 at 07:54:56 AM EST
    * Move away from targeted benefits (including tax credits) and towards universal ones.
Fair enough.  I think raising the tax allowance would be a good idea
    * Increase higher rate of income tax.
Why?
    * Tax private schools as businesses, not charities.
    * Develop a truly independent nuclear deterrent.
Why?  Any child in a fee paying school is not in a state classroom for which the parents have already paid for.  Also eliminate grants to faith based schools
    * Provide government backed loans over long repayment terms and low interest rates solely for investment into manufacturing industries.
I'd restart building societies and mutual banks as well.


[ Parent ]
Yes by Merekat (2.00 / 0) #11 Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 10:36:04 PM EST
I like that concept. You can feel passion for a pile of overpaid blokes kicking a dead pig around, but not for the message, theme and ethos that can shape your daily life.

[ Parent ]
Well I could see the attraction by jump the ladder (2.00 / 0) #12 Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 12:44:50 AM EST
Of Old Labour in terms of ethos even if I thought they were totally misguided. The current lot have zero ethos beyond staying in power.

[ Parent ]
"Say what you like... by R Mutt (2.00 / 0) #14 Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 01:14:50 AM EST
...about the tenets of Old Labour, Dude, at least it's an ethos."

[ Parent ]
Au contraire by yicky yacky (2.00 / 0) #35 Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 06:01:39 AM EST

You can feel an utterly irrational fascination with a pile of overpaid blokes kicking a dead pig around, but which leaves you clear to be completely lucid and open-eyed when assessing the message, theme and ethos that can shape your daily life. That's probably the right way round in which to have the critical faculties wired, I feel. Bringing inane identity politics and irrational personal investment into the democratic sphere leaves us with the ridiculous "Go red! No! Go blue!" discussion that passes for debate these days.

It's you motherfuckers who don't have any obvious safety bins for your unreason who are really troubling.


----
Vacuity abhors a vacuum.
[ Parent ]
I beg to differ by DullTrev (4.00 / 1) #65 Thu Jul 17, 2008 at 07:33:40 AM EST

clear to be completely lucid and open-eyed...

So what you are saying is that emotions should have no part in the decisions you make about the 'message, theme and ethos that can shape your daily life'. Sorry, but that's bunkum. Imagine, if you will, you walk past a man lying on the pavement, in a pool of blood. I would certainly hope you don't think "Hmm, that man may be a productive member of society, and thanks to his contribution to the economy, his payment of taxes, and the good and services her purveys, makes my life slightly easier, and of course reduces the overall tax burden on myself. Therefore I should assist him, in the assumption the small additional cost of taxation given to the NHS to deal with his injuries will be more than made up for by his future earnings." No, I'd hope you'd think "Shit, he's bleeding, I'd better help." They may both get to the same end, but the second is a purely emotional response. You may choose to rationalise it later, but your critical faculties were suspended at the time.

Hell, even if you'd decide to walk on by, I'd guess it was an emotional reaction - scared about getting involved, worried about blood, even just being a selfish bastard. Again, you may rationalise it by saying there was nothing for you to gain, but you'd sure as hell lose a lot of respect from the community, which could lead to bad consequences.

Now, of course, this brings us into the sphere of psychologists, philosophers, hell, we're bordering on metaphysics, but those bodies of knowledge exist in no small way because we are not purely rational beings. We do not make decisions on purely rational grounds.

The thing is, I think this is a good thing.

Let's drastically widen the scope of that example. If you can accept you'd have an emotional response to one man in distress, why not to ten? A thousand? A million? They're all individuals, it's just there's a lot of them. And if you say you want to help those who are in distress, then you are making an emotional political judgement. Sure, you use your critical faculties to decide on the best method for helping them, but not for the decision of whether to actually do it or not.

Being someone who can formulate wonderful policies to meet an aim makes someone a good administrator, not a good politician. A good politician needs to feel an emotional connection to the people he represents. He needs to feel that twisting in his gut when his electorate are hurt. He needs to exult when something goes right for them. Not feeling that, having purely rational responses, that doesn't make him a good politician. It doesn't even make him a good human being.


--
DFJ?
[ Parent ]
And that ... by yicky yacky (2.00 / 0) #70 Thu Jul 17, 2008 at 09:45:58 AM EST

... the second is a purely emotional response.

... is emblematic.


----
Vacuity abhors a vacuum.
[ Parent ]
+7 by Herring (2.00 / 0) #71 Thu Jul 17, 2008 at 09:56:34 AM EST
I think you've hit the nail on the head there with what the core of socialism actually is - giving a damn about people because they're people.

Using a very bad analogy, supposing you ran a cruise line: you could provide lifeboats for the passengers in case the worst happened. But wait - one of those passengers might be Jeffrey Archer. Would you still provide lifeboats or not?

christ, we're all old now - StackyMcRacky

[ Parent ]
No apology necessary by Phage (4.00 / 1) #4 Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 07:28:48 AM EST
I want to see a politician that believes.

Aaahh-freakin-men, Comrade !
None one of the people currently in Parliament has demonstrated anything other than the sort of self-interest that would make a tape worm blush.

Bush likely believes, Reagan really by wumpus (2.00 / 0) #6 Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 07:57:57 AM EST
Believed. I'd like a somewhat more reality-based being in the Whitehouse.

Wumpus

[ Parent ]
Not that belief by Phage (2.00 / 0) #13 Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 01:09:04 AM EST
In a principle, in ethics, in justice.

[ Parent ]
I think Bush does by Merekat (2.00 / 0) #15 Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 02:05:23 AM EST
He's just defining some of it differently. And is surrounded by people who will exploit that.

[ Parent ]
But Brown ? by Phage (2.00 / 0) #16 Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 02:08:15 AM EST
Or Cameron ?

Brown sold out his roots, and Cameron is a Tory. LD's are a bunch of self-important tossers who don't have a clue on how to govern.


[ Parent ]
Of high US elected officials by wumpus (2.00 / 0) #53 Wed Jul 16, 2008 at 04:06:55 AM EST
only Carter believed in these things, and was thrown out for it (believing in Truth, mainly). In retrospect, its probably better he lost, a second term would have killed him.

Wumpus

[ Parent ]
Thatcher beleived and had a strong narrative by jump the ladder (4.00 / 1) #7 Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 08:15:54 AM EST
You want someone like thast back?

Every 50 odd years is enough...

Looking back by anonimouse (2.00 / 0) #8 Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 10:49:09 AM EST
It wouldn't be a bad idea.

In fact, didn't she come in when inflation and strikes were rampant? A few more months and I'll be having a strong feeling of deja vu.


Girls come and go but a mortgage is for 25 years -- JtL
[ Parent ]
She did what needed to be done by jump the ladder (2.00 / 0) #9 Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 11:34:52 AM EST
But there was a hell of a lot of collateral damage on the way. I don't think you can compare the economic plight of 70s Britain with what's going on today.

[ Parent ]
Yet. by Breaker (4.00 / 1) #19 Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 03:00:32 AM EST
NT


[ Parent ]
She was batshit insane though by Herring (4.00 / 1) #20 Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 03:05:33 AM EST
I think she really believed that returning to "Victorian values" was a good thing - Dickensian squalor and all. "Nobody would've remembered the good Samaritan if he only had good intentions. No, he had money too." yes, but the first bastards who walked on by also had money.

christ, we're all old now - StackyMcRacky
[ Parent ]
That's how you create a revolution in the UK by jump the ladder (2.00 / 0) #25 Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 03:46:11 AM EST
By reclaiming the past golden age before all these modern innovations came about. See the English Civil War, The Glorious Revolution and the American War Of Independence to a certain extent. "no taxation without representation" was a conservative slogan in many ways harking back to the English Civil War.

[ Parent ]
She did indeed by DullTrev (2.00 / 0) #66 Thu Jul 17, 2008 at 07:38:04 AM EST

And no, I don't.

She believed, and I disagreed with her. But enough of the people in this country agreed, and that, I'm afraid, is democracy. To say because she was so damaging we should therefore never have anyone else who believed is to fall for the fear argument put about by New Labour for years.

If we truly want to see life in Britain get better, then you have to hope for someone who believes. Yes, there is a risk involved in that, but I think, I believe, that it is better to take that risk than to accept the status quo.


--
DFJ?
[ Parent ]
A good politician believes by chopper (2.00 / 0) #10 Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 10:11:43 PM EST
in nothing.

No hope until 2010 by Breaker (2.00 / 0) #17 Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 02:43:42 AM EST
Brown is not a storyteller.  He is dour, a competent administrator
I'll give you one out of three there.  Brown has presided over one of the largest tax and spend projects which is staggering even by Labour standards.  He has concealed spending using PFI to keep borrowing off the balance sheet, sold gold off in a fire sale and generally exhibited the spending habits of a gin addicted housewife.  It'll be many, many years (15, minimum, to my count) of the UK servicing this millstone of debt Brown has hung around our necks.

I don't think much of Cameron's story. [...] he hasn't yet told us who he is.
No, he hasn't.  He's keeping his powder dry, because last time the Tories came up with a good idea (IHT relief), Brown nicked it just before bottling the election that never was.  There's no way that NuLabia are going to call a General Election before they absolutely have to.  So CallMeDave is trying to stay uncontroversial, out of the spotlight.  Certain military commentators have often said battles are often not won by action but by allowing your enemy to make more mistakes than you.

I read an editorial piece in the Sunday Mirror (pub lunch, I didn't buy the paper) by some NuLabia MP which pretty much summed it up for me - after CallMeDave courted the right wing by his "if you're a tubby munter, it's because you eat too much and that is your responsibility, if you've got too many kids you can't afford, that is also your responsibility" speech, this editorial ignored that statement and went on to conflate this into a "dolemoles and those waving the magic tin leg of money, TORIES WANT TO TAKE YOUR BENEFITS AWAY AND MAKE YOU EAT YOUR CHILDREN unlike cuddly Labour who will make sure you get your Giro, no questions asked.  Oh and Tax Credits are TEH BESTEST WAY OF YOU KEEPING YOUR MONEY GOD BLESS OUR SAVIOUR GORDON BROWN".  It was this kind of overweening hyperbole that really convinced me that it's not just the NuLabia elite that have lost the plot; the entire Government is riddled with "we know best" politicians that have been in power so long that they've lost touch with whatever tenuous grasp they had of the real world. 

For the good of the party and even more so the good of the country, NuLabia need some time away from power.  And as I said before, they need to get back to being just the Labour Party again.

What is required to fix UKian politics?  We need a move to PR, to break the stranglehold of red and blue.

We need to reduce our political commitment to the EU; there's a grand old EU project in the offing (I estimate that over 60% of new laws made in the last 10 years have emanated from Brussels).  This needs some serious politicking done with the new member states to overwhelm the hardline EU delegates (primarily French and German but there are other EU proponents).

We need to add an additional requirement to being an MP - having worked in a non political job for 10 years prior.  At the minute I'd take a career teaboy over the current crop of professional politicians that are trotting out their favourite academic pet social theories.  There have been too many unintended consequences from poorly thought out legislation.

I'd say that Thatcher was the last conviction politician we had.  And look how reviled she is in many parts of the country.  Do we really want that again?


10% of legislation comes from Brussels by Herring (2.00 / 0) #18 Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 02:49:04 AM EST
And taxation, as a proportion of GDP is lower than it was under Thatcher.

christ, we're all old now - StackyMcRacky
[ Parent ]
You're talking out of your arse by Breaker (2.00 / 0) #21 Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 03:21:31 AM EST
Learn to read by Herring (2.00 / 0) #22 Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 03:24:40 AM EST
"that has an effect on business ...."

Under Thatchter, taxation hit 43% of GDP.

christ, we're all old now - StackyMcRacky

[ Parent ]
Link to your claim of 10% please. by Breaker (2.00 / 0) #26 Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 03:46:36 AM EST
Taxation as a % of GDP was indeed higher than currently, but Gordo's got a few more years to increase.  But my point stands that taxes have risen since 1997.


[ Parent ]
It's in your own link though by R Mutt (4.00 / 3) #29 Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 04:33:23 AM EST
My Lords, as I explained to the noble Lord in a Written Answer to an almost identical Question in November, on the basis of the analysis of regulatory impact assessments carried out on EU and domestic legislation, we estimate that around half of all UK legislation that has an impact on business, charities and the voluntary sector emanates from the EU. House of Commons analysis of UK statutory instruments implemented annually under the European Communities Act suggests that on average around 9 per cent of all statutory instruments originate from the EU.


[ Parent ]
A lot of caveats in that though by Breaker (2.00 / 0) #36 Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 06:09:16 AM EST
"analysis of UK statutory instruments implemented annually under the European Communities Act suggests that on average around 9 per cent of all statutory instruments originate from the EU."

So, this refers to the previous year only in today's new doublespeak - what about the other 10 years?  And are there any other legal vehicles other than "statutory instruments" that can also become law?

I was asking Herring to provide a link to a statement that over the 11 years, ~10% of all laws came from the EU; I should have been clearer.


[ Parent ]
I thought we'd been in the EU longer than 11 years by Herring (2.00 / 0) #43 Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 06:41:58 AM EST
Plus I didn't mention a timeframe.

Statute.

christ, we're all old now - StackyMcRacky

[ Parent ]
I know what a statute is by Breaker (2.00 / 0) #44 Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 06:56:09 AM EST
It's what pigeons shit on! 

My point was within the legal realm, is there a distinction between a "statutory instrument" and say a "statutory amendment" or other phrase that may be a law to the common person, but has been elevated out of normal speech into lawspeak?

And good point; it would be interesting to see on a yearly basis what percentage of UKian law originated from the EEC EU since our membership.


[ Parent ]
So what do you think we can discern from by yicky yacky (4.00 / 1) #37 Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 06:10:21 AM EST

this, R Mutt? Is it that reactionary demagogues may have reading and comprehension issues?


----
Vacuity abhors a vacuum.
[ Parent ]
Or I have broken my trolling bone. by Breaker (2.00 / 0) #39 Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 06:22:59 AM EST
Rebuttal here


[ Parent ]
Well by R Mutt (3.25 / 4) #41 Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 06:29:08 AM EST
Given that Breaker thinks Gordon Brown is a raving leftist commie extremist, and DullTrev thinks he's a raging rightist fascist, I think we can conclude that in terms of the overall political spectrum and tax burden, Gordon Brown has probably got things about right.

It's only the civil liberties infringements and petty authoritarianism that gets to me. But in the UK, those aren't not strongly left or right issues.

[ Parent ]
I'd go one further... by Breaker (2.00 / 0) #46 Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 07:27:50 AM EST
GTLSB is a dithering third rater who blindly followed Tony as he shifted the Labour party to the right and into the monstrosity that is NuLabia.  The direction of the Party's ship is set and he has not the talent to change it even as the direction of the wind turns against him, and is without the tactical nous to bring in advisors to help him.

As far as being a "leftist commie extremist", I think he has managed to combine left and right political factors in one singularly repellant persona - high taxes on the middle classes with a leftist agenda towards redistribution (eg tax credits), which has failed to narrow the wealth gap or increase social mobility.  Even as he has taxed and spent, I think most people in the higher tax bracket could feel a little better about their tax bill if child poverty had been eliminated, or that the very poor were significantly better off.  But no, these people feel alienated as the money they've paid to the government doesn't feel like it's actually done anything. 

He's gotten away with being more right wing than the Tories in his withdrawing grants for university courses (except Scotlandians).

But I agree with you about the civil liberties infringements and clunking authoritarianism.


[ Parent ]
And also by Breaker (2.00 / 0) #47 Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 07:33:40 AM EST
"House of Commons analysis of UK statutory instruments implemented annually under the European Communities Act"

Which implies there are other sections and Acts under which EU law can be brought into UKian law, does it not?


[ Parent ]
There aren't by Herring (2.00 / 0) #51 Wed Jul 16, 2008 at 02:20:55 AM EST
Now admit defeat and I will let you live.

christ, we're all old now - StackyMcRacky
[ Parent ]
We shall never surrender by Breaker (2.00 / 0) #55 Wed Jul 16, 2008 at 05:12:51 AM EST
We shall bit them on the features...

Still waiting for some linkage to back you up on this ~10% rule. 


[ Parent ]
It's in your link, moron by Herring (2.00 / 0) #57 Wed Jul 16, 2008 at 05:19:43 AM EST
You were owned yesterday by Mutt on that one.

christ, we're all old now - StackyMcRacky
[ Parent ]
Contested that, though by Breaker (2.00 / 0) #58 Wed Jul 16, 2008 at 06:25:22 AM EST
There were too many qualifiers attached to the statement to take it as raw fact. 

None of which you've successfully rebutted, as yet.


[ Parent ]
I ignored it because it was crap by Herring (2.00 / 0) #60 Wed Jul 16, 2008 at 06:34:39 AM EST
But if you're too idle to read a dictionary:
"House of Commons analysis of UK statutory instruments implemented annually (Trans: laws implemented every year) under the European Communities Act (The one piece of legislation that governs the interface between EU and UK law) suggests that on average around 9 per cent (I was wrong, it's less than 10%) of all statutory instruments (Trans: laws) originate from the EU."

christ, we're all old now - StackyMcRacky
[ Parent ]
Don't take it as read though by Breaker (2.00 / 0) #61 Wed Jul 16, 2008 at 07:06:23 AM EST
The law is often a complex beast and has many confusing and counterintuitive terminologies.  And this statement was made by a politician, after all.

To illustrate, I could say "all of our C programs have less than 5% bugs per 1000 lines of code".  Which might conveniently ignore the fact that across the board of say, programs written in VB or C#, we have 50% bugs per 1000 lines of code.

So, my questions in italic:
"House of Commons analysis of UK statutory instruments implemented annually (Trans: laws implemented every year) (for which time period, this year just gone?) under the European Communities Act (The one piece of legislation that governs the interface between EU and UK law) (is it just the one piece of legislation?  I don't know, which is why I was asking you support your statement) suggests that on average (average over what time period?) around 9 per cent (I was wrong, it's less than 10%) of all statutory instruments (Trans: laws) (are there other kinds of laws other than statutory?  Like "nomothetic instruments"?) originate from the EU."


[ Parent ]
I admit that by Herring (2.00 / 0) #62 Wed Jul 16, 2008 at 08:22:54 AM EST
it lacks the authority of your 60% figure, and also the source lacks the gravitas that repeated humourous mis-spellings of a political party's name would give it. Nevertheless, since you provided the main piece of evidence yourself, that should give it a little credence.

christ, we're all old now - StackyMcRacky
[ Parent ]
And it also lacks by Breaker (2.00 / 0) #63 Thu Jul 17, 2008 at 12:35:50 AM EST
The rigor of your "no it doesn't" statement previously.

That 60% figure - I took the 80% of German law written by Brussels and right sized it.

And the point I was making was the point I quoted (because it was very specific about what the subject was), not the rest of the page.


[ Parent ]
Difficult to link to a radio programme by Herring (4.00 / 2) #30 Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 04:36:16 AM EST
I'll see if I can find it this evening. However, from your stats, that was just legislation affecting companies/organisations. Criminal law: well, the EU hardly touches that. All that lovely terrorism legislation, ID cards, all home grown. When you look at the area of legislation that are affected directly by the EU, it's pretty small.

Interestingly, the legislation that requires products to be sold in metric quantities has naff-all to do with the EU - it was introduced in the early 70s.

GB will have to get a move on to get taxation up to Maggie's peak though.

I just fund the assumptions that:
a) GB's taxation and spending have been extraordinarily high
b) The Tories would be substantially different
to be without foundation. They have, in fact, promised to stick to Labour's spending targets. Ans since PFI was their invention I have little faith in them changing course on that particularly crap policy.

christ, we're all old now - StackyMcRacky

[ Parent ]
Point B by Breaker (2.00 / 0) #32 Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 04:59:48 AM EST
I never said that.

Also, just because the Tories came up with PFI (albeit in a much smaller fashion), that doesn't mean NuLabia has to follow it.  Or are you arguing that they're blindly following the Tories still?


[ Parent ]
It's an ongoing process by Herring (4.00 / 2) #33 Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 05:09:25 AM EST
the private companies muscling in on the public sector. I strongly recommend readin NHS Plc by Allyson Pollock.

No, they didn't have to blindly follow it - or the other ridiculous tory NHS reforms. But they did. And that's when the honeymoon ended as far as I was concerned.

christ, we're all old now - StackyMcRacky

[ Parent ]
ooer by Merekat (4.00 / 1) #24 Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 03:31:33 AM EST
And obviously all of it is bad coz it is furrin, yes?

[ Parent ]
Nope by Breaker (2.00 / 0) #27 Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 04:19:10 AM EST
It is bad because:
  • What makes sense for some sections of EUia doesn't always make sense for the rest of it
  • Those who create these laws are not directly accountable to the EU populace.


[ Parent ]
I just laugh by Merekat (2.00 / 0) #28 Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 04:21:40 AM EST
Coz for years governments in Ireland resisted EU laws like the ones requiring decent labour protection, or equality in the workplace, and now that the newer regulations are perhaps more questionable, the govt goes 'ooh, we loves europe, we does'.

[ Parent ]
That'll be the EU's by Breaker (2.00 / 0) #31 Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 04:58:03 AM EST
Untold millions funnelling to the Emerald Isle.


[ Parent ]
nope by Merekat (4.00 / 1) #34 Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 05:18:56 AM EST
They were getting most of the millions then, not now, and were perfectly willing to take it while resisting the directives.

[ Parent ]
Good politicking? by Breaker (2.00 / 0) #38 Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 06:21:03 AM EST
IE - "well, we can't really sell the populace on these new EU directives because they're not really seeing too much benefit from being in the EU"
EU - "OK, here's some money"
IE - "Oooh, thanks.  We'll put that to good use in rebuilding infrastructure"
EU - "Now, about these new directives..."
IE - "Well, we're glad you mentioned that; we're winning hearts and minds over to being a good EU citizen, but we still need to reach more of our people with the EU message"
EU - "Here's a big bag full of money"
IE - "Great.  We'll rebuild the roads and put big 'EU sponsored' signs all over them"
EU - "Right then, these directives..."
IE - "Bit more time please, and our ports are looking a little run down"
EU - "Here's another big bag of money.  Now, really, about these directives"
IE - "The EU message is getting through!  We're nearly there"
EU - "..."
IE - "Alright then, we'll go to the Euro.  But that'll cost us a lot of money for the changeover"
EU - "Here's a sackful of money, now are you going to sign off these directives or what?"
IE - "Smoking ban!  That's it!  We'll implement that.  But the transition will cost us a fair bit..."
EU - "here's more money then.  And about these directives..."
IE - "Tell you what, we'll put it to referendum".

In all, mad props to the Irish government for stringing the EU along and getting some cash out of them for minimal concession.  And the cynic in me makes me think that the Irish government members are eying an MEP position with jealous eyes for after their current gig is up, for which a reputation of capitulation is always a good track record to have.

Or have I totally miscalled all of the above?


[ Parent ]
Misscall on quite a lot by Merekat (4.00 / 2) #42 Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 06:38:30 AM EST
To the best of my knowledge, the smoking ban has absolutely nothing to do with the EU.

Money arrived anyway, regardless of signing up to directives as as long as you can work the forms and fix it so that you fall in the right category e.g. by splitting an increasingly rich country into two economic zones so one part could still benefit while at the same time ignoring warnings on inflation from Europe and being variously held up before the european courts for non compliance with directives. In other words, pandering is unnecessary in order to milk the EU goat.

The last thing the govt. wanted was to go to a referendum as they knew they'd lose and be embarrassed and then be put under a lot of pressure by the electorate not to wiggle out of that result. A previous high court ruling wrt. an unrelated constitutional change was what made it necessary.

What Irish govt members do after they retire is take a lucrative consulting job with a private company, frequently contracting to the civil service or return to the law/accounting or claim their pensions, and also the pensions for the previous state funded job like teacher etc. that they held, which was kept open for them for the years they were not working in that role. Only failed national politicians go to the EU, not retired ones generally.

[ Parent ]
In short, I fail it. by Breaker (2.00 / 0) #45 Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 07:03:36 AM EST
Smoking ban seems to be pan-EU, so I thought it was probably an EU initiative, there are just different implementations of it.

I stand corrected on the pandering; I thought a certain amount of grovelling was necessary for the EU to open its coffers.

WRT the MEPs - given that the next ~5 years or so a lot of EU economies will be in the toilet, I wonder if the Irish MPs are covering all their options.

So what is the reason for the Irish government to suddenly turn pro - EU then?


[ Parent ]
reality by Merekat (2.00 / 0) #48 Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 08:16:07 AM EST
Country is too small and unstable (unlike .ch) to survive outside the EU.

[ Parent ]
Ah. by Breaker (2.00 / 0) #50 Wed Jul 16, 2008 at 12:45:19 AM EST
When in doubt follow the money.

I thought being in the Eurozone was hurting Irish families and economy right now though?  (Or maybe I misheard that conversation).


[ Parent ]
yes and no by Merekat (2.00 / 0) #52 Wed Jul 16, 2008 at 02:37:48 AM EST
But taking away the largest markets to which Irish business can sell to without much impediment is insane.

High interest rates are starting to bite, yeah. However, they would not have bit as hard had the govt not sought to overheat the economy in the last two years, against the advice of Europe e.g. by removing stamp duty on entry level houses, they caused the cost of them to go up by that amount and lost the state money etc.

Having lived the boom off their credit cards to get shinier houses/cars/clothes etc. that sure, they could pay off later is hurting Irish families too. The EU cannot be held responsible for that either.

Fuel prices are causing pain. Show me somewhere without local supplies where this is not true?

One thing that can be levelled at the EU is a bit indirect. Opening up of more competitive eastern markets has 'taken' manufacturing jobs from Ireland, but from where I'm sitting, the writing was on that wall when I was leaving college.

[ Parent ]
Ah by Breaker (2.00 / 0) #54 Wed Jul 16, 2008 at 05:04:27 AM EST
What I'd heard was that the Irish government had an economy they needed to slow and re-shape, but because of the EU wide EURIBOR interest levels, there's not a lot the government can do if it stays within the Euro.

The rest of your points sound very similar to UKia - people overextending themselves on the never-never.

Quite similar to Spain, but I'm not sure how much advice the Spanish govt ignored in order to get themselves in the current pickle.


[ Parent ]
they did need to slow by Merekat (2.00 / 0) #56 Wed Jul 16, 2008 at 05:15:35 AM EST
That was the bit in which you were correct. However, even in the areas where they did have non-intervention from Europe, rather than slow, they accelerated.

[ Parent ]
Along with several other EU governments by Breaker (2.00 / 0) #59 Wed Jul 16, 2008 at 06:26:44 AM EST
With their eyes on the money.


[ Parent ]
I should know better by DullTrev (4.00 / 1) #68 Thu Jul 17, 2008 at 07:57:12 AM EST

Ah, the benefits of 20/20 hindsight. The chancellor who was lauded by all and sundry, international organisations, business leaders, and so forth, for his superb handling of the economy is now a fool for not seeing where we would all end up. He sold gold at its lowest price for years! Yes, he sold gold when its price had been falling for years, and all predictions were it would continue to do so. The fool. How is it none of these so-called expert economists were telling us at the time how terrible he was? I bet it was a CONSPIRACY.

Though I do agree we should move to PR. It was a good idea when Thatcher was getting away with murder, and it's still a good idea now. Oddly, though, it's always the party in 2nd place that tells us how unfair the FPTP system is, but they strangely seem to forget as soon as they are wielding the power...

I disagree about the EU, though. What is needed is greater democratic accountability, more legitimacy through direct connections to the people, not this horrible fudge we have of governments stitching it up. It needs to become less of a club to make business easier, and more of a club to make society better.

Define non-political job. PR? Marketing? You can't help it if your boss takes a commission from a political party. TV? What if you produce a news programme? Manufacturing? What if you become an unpaid union rep? No, you don't fix the problems of political culture by fiddling with the structure of parliament.


--
DFJ?
[ Parent ]
As should I, but hey ho... by Breaker (2.00 / 0) #69 Thu Jul 17, 2008 at 08:45:07 AM EST
superb handling of the economy is now a fool
Yes, for not putting something by in the good times for the lean times which always follow.  But I suspect he believed his own hype about "no more boom and bust".

He sold gold at its lowest price for years!
Selling the gold was one thing.  The way he did it (massive burst of PR in advance) meant that speculators circled and through a little bit of conniving (which was illegal, although no-one called them on it because it'd make the government look foolish), bid lower than they should and got a bargain.  If Brown was mad keen to shift the gold, then the way to do it is the way the Australian (and other governments) have done - by drip feeding it into the market on the sly.  This is basic trading economics.

Though I do agree we should move to PR.
Totally agree with your paragraph here.

I disagree about the EU, though. What is needed is greater democratic accountability, more legitimacy through direct connections to the people, not this horrible fudge we have of governments stitching it up. It needs to become less of a club to make business easier, and more of a club to make society better.
I still would prefer a return to EEC, myself.  What works for a peasant farmer in rural France is not always going to be good for a doctor in Istanbul.  And the fact they've not had their accounts signed off for years, investigators are hounded out when they blow the whistle and there seems to be no end of abuse of expenses, I think there's still a lot more to be addressed before trying to force through more EU unity.

Define non-political job. PR? Marketing? You can't help it if your boss takes a commission from a political party. TV? What if you produce a news programme? Manufacturing? What if you become an unpaid union rep?
A job that is not directly paid for by Westminster.  So if you manufacture widgets and sell some to the government it doesn't count.

No, you don't fix the problems of political culture by fiddling with the structure of parliament.
Why not?  They've already had a go at changing the way the House Of Lords works...


[ Parent ]
The big Brown mess we're in - part 3 | 71 comments (71 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback