Tag Archives: Conservatives

What Will the Effect of The Iraq War be in 2015

Despite the ending of UK and US combat missions in Iraq, the country is still plagued by violence and, as has been proven recently, still has the propensity to dominate headlines within the British press. With the withdrawal of large parts of the western military presence from the country, a power vacuum, akin to that created by the removal of Saddam Hussein, has once again become apparent in one of the most turbulent nations in the world. However, the effect of the intervention in Iraq spreads far beyond the country and the region and has the potential to play a large part in the UK general election scheduled for 2015.

The biggest headache that Iraq will cause will come for the Labour party leader Ed Miliband. Prior to Iraq, immigrant communities and their future generations were expected to largely vote for Labour and other left parties, mainly due to fears of Conservative racism and anti-immigration ideals. However, the Iraq War, coupled with Afghanistan and New Labour’s cuddling up to the US and George Bush, has caused huge distrust of the Labour Party within Muslim communities. The Muslim world is one that sees itself as very interconnected and a close knit group, a feeling typified by the worldwide Islamic ummah. The problem that the Labour leader faces is that the Muslim community globally feels vilified by the actions of New Labour governments. Not only do they feel that the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan were unjustified and perhaps highly illegal, but they also feel that ordinary Muslim citizens now suffer from discrimination from the general public and western governments.

Most of the British Muslim community then still has not forgiven Labour for its actions in the Middle East and at home. Part of the problem is how closely tied to the New Labour government both Ed Miliband and Ed Balls were. Ed Miliband wrote the Labour manifesto which resulted in Gordon Brown’s election defeat in 2010 and Ed Balls was a close advisor to Brown at the Treasury. Therefore, Labour risks losing thousands of Muslim votes due to their actions in Iraq and will have to work hard to recapture the trust of Muslim communities (perhaps by advocating a repeal of the impingement on rights and freedoms that followed the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq under Tony Blair), or risk losing voters and perhaps the election.

The Conservative Party also faces a difficult challenge concerning the war in Iraq and current policy concerning the Middle East. Firstly, the Tories generally aren’t trusted by immigrant communities as fears still remain, despite the Cameroon centralist project, that the Tory party is inherently nasty and, at least in some quarters, racist and discriminatory (an image not helped by the demotion of Baroness Warsi in the recent reshuffle). Furthermore, following Conservative support for the invasion of Iraq, their continuance of a failing policy in Afghanistan and the failure to remove detach themselves from the bullying tactics of the US all over the world, the Tories are unlikely to mop up the Muslim voters the Labour Party has haemorrhaged.

The Conservative’s coalition partners are perhaps the only one of the three main parties with the opportunity to take advantage of the Iraq War debacle. The Lib Dems were some of the main opponents of the invasion of Iraq, a principled stand that they have taken and stood by and should be commended for. However, although the Lib Dems opposed the invasion, the votes of Muslims will not rest solely on this point and the Lib Dems are likely to have done enough damage to their image by selling their souls for power to have put off potential voters. They are particularly unlikely to gain Muslim voters over Iraq since 2010 seeing as the invasion occurred prior to the 2010 election and any major gains would have occurred then.

To which parties then are opponents of the Iraq War likely to turn. Social democratic voters, perhaps natural supporters of the Labour party who left for the Lib Dems following Iraq and now feel betrayed by them due to their pandering to the Conservatives in coalition will perhaps look to the Green Party. I believe that the Green Party risks becoming a force on the left, particularly considering their move away from purely green issues to focus on social and economic issues, particularly a radical approach to opposition to the coalition’s austerity programme. If the Green’s new leader Natalie Bennett can motivate voters and get the Green message out to the public then the Greens have the potential to massively increase their share of the vote in 2015.

Another potential winner will be the Respect party, a potential epitomised by George Galloway’s return to politics in Bradford. Galloway ran an unashamedly populist campaign in Bradford and relied on the support and votes of the local Muslim population, which turned out in vast numbers and delivered him victory. Part of Galloway’s appeal was his complete opposition to western fiddling in the Middle East, particularly Iraq, and played on anti-western sentiment within the Muslim community, to great effect. The Respect Party has the potential to replicate Galloway’s victory in other areas of the country.

Finally, a mention must go to the BNP which, whilst imploding via internal feuds and lack of funds, also has the potential to gain a few right-wing supporters who back the policy of withdrawing British interests and troops from the Middle East completely, believing that British troops should protect only British land, views echoed by the English Defence League who have also threatened to run candidates in upcoming elections. However, I think it likely that with the current disorganisation faced by the far-right of British politics that any far-right candidates will largely find themselves losing their deposits.

Iraq, whilst not being a defining issue at the next election, will almost certainly be a tricky issue which will surface sooner or later in the run up to 2015, particularly if the current violence in the country continues. The Labour Party in particular has a lot of ground to cover to recoup Muslim and anti-war voters and I think that the Iraq war and anti-imperialist sentiment has the potential to return some shock results in 2015.

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Cameron Must Rid Himself of Mitchell

The saga surrounding Andrew Mitchell continues to rumble on in the Westminster Village as Labour continues to apply pressure to the new Chief Whip, and the coalition continues to stand shoulder to shoulder with a man who has not only shown himself to be bad tempered but also conforming to the public’s image of a Tory party that is arrogant and disconnected. This view of the Tories risks the success of the Cameroon project of moving the Conservatives away from their “nasty party” image to a party that could govern for all classes.

On his way out of Downing Street, Mr Mitchell was asked by the police who guard his own, along with the Prime Minister and other government members’ lives, to dismount his bicycle and leave Downing Street by the pedestrian, rather than the main, gate. Mr Mitchell is then said to have taken offence at the request, calling the officers “plebs” and swearing profusely. Whilst Mr Mitchell denied his use of the word “plebs”, along with other language that was claimed to have been used in The Sun newspaper, the country, twice as likely to believe a police officer as a politician, simply did not believe him. Mr Mitchell did however apologise, presumably in the hope that the event would slip into the past and be forgotten, but evidence since his apology has reinforced his wrongdoing, and Labour should continue to push the case for Mr Mitchell to lose his job.

Particularly offended by Mitchell’s comments were the police force themselves. Following the murders of two female police officers by just a few days, Mitchell’s comments were particularly harrowing and distasteful. Indeed, some police officers not only rejected Mitchell’s apology, and called for his resignation, but also claimed that David Cameron’s public apology to the police force was disingenuous. The truth is that the public feel that Mitchell was not only wrong on the day, but exposes the real heart of the Tory party, a bunch of ex-public schoolboys who feel that they’re born to rule and who have little or no understanding of the heartfelt positivity that the public feels towards their police force.

Whether in a bad mood or not, Mitchell’s outburst seems to show a similar Tory feeling to that shown by David Cameron in the Commons and the smarmy George Osborne the Chancellor. The public feel that the Tory party is out of touch with normal people. Not only is the cabinet packed with multi-millionaires, not only have they been shown to be in connivance with illegally operated corporations such as the Murdoch empire, not only have they cut taxes for the few whilst retracting the vital services that serve the many, now they attack one of the bastions of the United Kingdom in the form of the police force. Time and time again, the Tory party has proved its personal critic, Nadine Dorries, right. The party is led by arrogant posh boys and everything they do exposes the falsity of their words. Cameron’s apology, Mitchell’s apology, Osborne using non-existent deficit-reduction policies to cover up a mass privatisation and break down of the state, all smack of nasty party Toryism. The problem for Cameron is that this image, if it becomes the prevailing image of his party, will undo the work of the Cameroon project.

Cameron’s biggest mistake was immediately backing Mitchell, his second was not sacking him when the police logbook evidence was leaked to The Sun, his third will be not sacking him at all. Mitchell must go. He has abused the police force of this country, a well-respected institution and shown himself to be arrogant and detached from society. If Cameron fails to sack Mitchell, he will be, and should be, tarred with the same brush. Ed Miliband and the Labour Party will rightly continue to press this point harming the Tory party. Perhaps even more worrying is Boris Johnson’s less than warm reaction, in which he has backed the police over Mr Mitchell. If this was to become a turning-point in Cameron’s premiership, and the Cameroon project, this would only be in Johnson’s interests in any future leadership contest. Mr Mitchell has exposed the decrepit face behind the Cameroon mask of the Tory Party, and if the prime minister wants the mask to be replaced, he must remove Mr Mitchell first.

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Lords Reform and the Coalition

Today, Nick Clegg declared an end to the Liberal Democrats’ fight for House of Lords reforms during this Parliament. Following the brazen refusal of Tory backbenchers to toe the party line and honour the coalition agreement, and Labour’s justifiable, yet still suspiciously partisan, no vote to setting a clear timetable for Lords reform, the Lib Dems now consider any continued push for reform at the present time to simply be fighting a losing battle. The problem that the prime minister will now face, in response to Clegg’s speech, is that, having now conceded defeat to his own backbenchers, how can he first, restore his reputation as in control, and secondly, prove to Clegg and the Lib Dems as a whole that the coalition can continue to work effectively in the interests of both the country and the Lib Dems.

Firstly, the Tory rebellion was the explosion outwards of Tory backbench frustration at the Lib Dem ‘wagging’ of the coalition tail. It has been a constant complaint from Tory backbenches that the Lib Dems have far too much influence upon government policy considering the disproportionately few number of seats that they contribute to the government’s majority in the Commons. Therefore, when a bastion of conservatism, the House of Lords, one of the final two seats of British government’s unelected officials, came under threat, Tory backbenchers reverted to type and refused to, in Clegg’s strong words ‘honour the coalition agreement’. All this suggests that David Cameron lacks real control over the Tory party, particularly with his arch-nemesis Boris Johnson waiting in the wings, basking in the glory of the London Olympics as well as the failings of Cameron and Osborne.

Furthermore, on the back of Tory rebellion, Cameron is now being confronted with a rebellion from his coalition partners, not just from the backbenches but even amongst the Lib Dem’s most senior members and government ministers. Indeed, Clegg himself today said that his party would be instructed to oppose the Tory plans to gerrymander constituency boundaries (as if they’d need any instructing at the moment). All this bodes unwell for the coalition.

Therefore, Cameron, despite finding himself stuck between rebelling Tory backbenchers and rebellious Lib Dems has to take drastic action to repair his personal image as well as that of the coalition. Initially, Cameron must make it clear to the Lib Dems that, despite being forced to accept their rebellion regarding constituency changes (a damaging blow to the Tories who would have gained exttra seats in the next general election had the changes passed through Parliament), he cannot accept frequent rebellion. He has the power to do so, as both parties know that a collapse in the coalition would be disastrous for both, leaving behind a frail, powerless government and the possibility of a destructive early election for all involved. Two parties that so “heroically” came together in the ‘interests of the public’ cannot now jump overboard petulantly at the first sign of choppy waters.

However, Cameron will be well aware that he has to placate the angered Lib Dems, whose centrepiece policy will now be lost amongst the turbulent seas of coalition. With Cameron’s personal standing plummeting alongside the British economy, perhaps now is the time for Cameron to take the boldest move of his political career and consign his long-term personal friend, but hangman of British economic recovery, George Osborne, the chancellor, to the dustbin. Currently, Osborne is probably the one man more hated at the top end of British politics than Cameron himself. Furthermore, his obstinancy in the face of mounting economic problems, means that Osborne has tied himself to the mask of a shinking ship, one that Cameron can only save by changing economic course, an impossibility under Osborne’s leadership. Cameron’s only hope of maintaining a Tory role in government in 2015 and beyond is to save the British economy, and therefore, for the sake of his leadership Plan A must be rethought, even if this does mean stabbing Osborne in the back (after all Osborne isn’t even popular within the Tory party anymore).

If Cameron did grow the balls to finally ditch the troubled Osborne the question would remain of who to replace him with, an answer that I think lies in the placation of the Lib Dems. The one member of the British government, who in the eyes of the public, still retains a shred of respect is Vince Cable, the man who foresaw the global economic collapse, bashes the bankers and Murdoch and is the darling of the Lib Dems. This move would not only give the coalition a boost with the voters, Cable being a man much more in favour with voters than Osborne, but also cheer the Lib Dems and allow for a change in economic course.

Surely now it is time for Cameron to wake up to the dangers of retaining Osborne as chancellor and save the coalition at the same time.

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Social mobility really is a force for good

I read an article on the Guardian website today by Zoe Williams in which she claimed that the idea of social mobility is not as brilliant as we all presume it to be. Williams claims that Nick Clegg’s form of social mobility, in which the cleverest children are allowed to achieve their full potential, is not progressive as it merely means that a minor reshuffle takes place in personnel between the classes and many of those who begin in the gutter are left there to rot.

However, having moved from a comprehensive school at primary level into a grammar school at secondary level and for sixth form, I must disagree with Williams, as I see grammar schools as an important tool for social mobility and look forward to the day when grammar schools can replace our private education system and allow an equality of opportunity to prevail in the British education system.

Firstly, let me say that I find private schools and education an abhorrent idea and one which in Britain allows for the continuation of the class system and the elite, ruling class in society. I wish to see all private education demolished and replaced with a system where no-one can pay for the privilege of a better education. It is this private school system which continues to allow Britain’s elite to keep the positions of politicians, the rich and the powerful within the upper classes and keeps bright members of the working-class out of these positions.

Nick Clegg has suggested that the brightest children, no matter their background, should be given the chance to achieve their full potential, and I believe that grammar schools are an effective vehicle for this development, taking from my own experience.

Williams asks how social mobility will help those who are not blessed with high levels of intelligence and I would hope that she is wrong to dismiss social mobility for this reason. As Tory MP Nadine Dorries has said recently, part of the problem with the current Tory leadership in government is that they do not understand the effects their policies would have on normal people, claiming that they would have no idea what the price of a pint of milk is. I agree with Dorries on this point (although little else), as the privileged background of a lot of Britain’s ruling classes have enabled them to achieve their positions of power with relatively little work and/or merit, a system that could be rectified by allowing even those who begin from humble backgrounds the same opportunities as those at the top.

The difference to society of having members of the working-class making it to the top and positions of power would be that these would hopefully remember their roots, and have a greater idea of the effects of their policies on ordinary people. Furthermore, it would hopefully be an ambition for these people to allow people from a similar background to their own to achieve what they have, rather than see the top jobs go to privately educated, rich kids with little experience of the real world.

I believe therefore that Williams is wrong to claim that social mobility does little to help the lower-classes in society, as it is only through furthering the aspirations and achievements of these classes that we will gain rulers who are prepared to fight for the rights of these people to equal opportunities in society.

 

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Coalition infighting

The Lib Dem attack on Adrian Beecroft’s call for no-fault dismissals to become commonplace within British businesses has led to even further coalition infighting, a trend that has continued to worsen for the Tories and Lib Dems ever since their respective trouncings in the local elections earlier this month. As this infighting continues and indeed deepens, is it finally time that we can envisage the coalition falling apart and an early general election being called?

Today, Beescroft, smarting from the rejection of his repressive, ideological proposals to further degrade the rights of British workers, attacked the Lib Dem leadership in a very personal, and Toff-like fashion. Firstly, the Lib Dem business secretary and party darling, Vince Cable, who, until recently was seen as the left’s big hope within the coalition. This reputation was of course besmirched by the lack of backbone displayed on central liberal and progressive issues by the Lib Dem leadership. Beecroft however, clearly still feels that Cable can do a job for the left in coalition, labelling him “a socialist who found a home in the Lib Dems”. Despite the fact that I, and I suspect many others, would receive this as a massive compliment coming from a large Tory donor, I suspect that Cable viewed Beecroft’s remarks as a personal attack in retaliation for Cable labelling his no-fault dismissal plans “bonkers”.

As if attacking the Lib Dem’s favourite minister wasn’t enough, Beecroft then took to attacking the Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg, accusing him of threatening to go “nuclear” and meltdown the coalition. He was backed-up in this case by the head of an Oxford, private school, who claimed that Clegg was using “communist tactics”.

It would appear that the tensions that have previously simmered away under the coalition’s surface are finally beginning to spill over into the public realm and Cameron and his Tory friends will have a lot of work to do to patch up the coalition, particularly if they wish to forestall major Lib Dem backbench intervention; they too are far from happy with the direction of the coalition.

With Lib Dems worrying about the party’s reputation at the next general election, as well as their leadership’s lack of ideological backbone on issues such as tuition fees, which have caused the party copious amounts of distress and hatred, and Tory backbenchers worrying that the Lib Dem’s are having more than their fair share of input into coalition policy, there is a chance that backbench pressure will tell and cause the breakdown of the coalition. Certainly, this possibility appears more likely now than at any time since the 2010 general election.

However, both parties would be impulsive and self-destructive were they to bring down the coalition having only made things worse for the country economically and with both receiving recent batterings at the polls. For Labour of course coalition infighting is good news. Ed Miliband can now expose both parties for what they are, the Tories as ideological and regressive and the Lib Dems as power-thirsty and unprincipled. This would fly right in the face of the coalition’s claim to be working together to sort out the economic conundrum Britain is still in.

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No-fault dismissals would be catastrophic for Britain

A recent report, drawn up by Tory party donor Adrian Beecroft, called for employers to be given the right to dismiss unproductive employees with no explanation. Vince Cable will appear in the House of Commons in just half an hour to answer urgent questions from Labour’s Chuka Umunna regarding this report and any government involvement in this potential policy. I believe that Chuka Umunna and the Labour party must fight this proposal hard, as its implementation would lead to a huge backward step in the continuing search for worker’s rights.

Beecroft’s proposal argues that red-tape and bureaucratic rules (no doubt many brought in by EU legislation) make it far too difficult for employers to sack unproductive employees and as such businesses are being damaged by the continued presence of workers who do not pull their weight. Furthermore, it has been argued that the complex, legal processes involved in dismissing unproductive workers means that businesses are less inclined to employ new workers as they fear being unable to rid themselves of these workers if it turns out that they are incapable of doing their job effectively and professionally.

However, the truth about this proposal is that it remains part of an ideological agenda from the Conservative party to restore a Victorian era hierarchy in the workplace that makes employees beholden to their employers and in constant fear for their livelihoods.

Conservatives argue that the red-tape surrounding employer-employee relations has meant that businesses find the processes of hiring and firing too stressful and expensive an ordeal, leading to a lack of business confidence in job-creation. This, they argue, has a negative effect on the economy as employers are put off hiring workers and job creation is lowered, particularly damaging in a time of recession. However, this measure would have only a negative effect on the economy. If a culture of on the spot sackings was to be introduced into British business, we would soon find that, workers, in fear of losing their jobs, were hoarding capital rather than spending, as they lived their lives precariously balanced on a knife-edge waiting for the push of their employer which would send their household into economic oblivion, for no reason whatsoever. The amount of consumer spending therefore would inevitably drop were these proposals introduced and the economy would suffer as a result.

Furthermore, Britons have spent centuries fighting for, and gaining, rights in the workplace to protect the jobs of the most vulnerable in society. It is fair, and right, that an employer should give a credible, fair reason for the dismissal of any employee. Even given the rights won by Britons in the past, Britain still has relatively low workers’ protection legislation when compared with much of the developed world, so to strip away the few rights that British workers have would be wrong.

We cannot make it acceptable for employers to arbitrarily remove jobs from the working-class on a whim. This would lead to the abuse of employees and have a detrimental effect on the economy. The Labour party, in tandem with the unions, must protect the rights of British workers and not allow ideological conservatives to return Britain to a state whereby workers are vulnerable to the business and upper classes.

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A chance for Labour?

Despite the successes of Labour in recent local elections and the continuous unpopularity of the coalition government, I fear that it is still true to say that a large percentage of the population believes the coalition’s narrative on the economy. This narrative reads that Labour overspent in government building up a massive deficit and is directly responsible for the economic collapse in Britain and the mess left for the coalition government to admirably clear up.

Whilst it is true that the UK (and much of the developed world), built up irresponsible amounts of debt, it is doubtful that a Tory government would have done any different. After all, up until 2008 the Tories very rarely disagreed with the amount Labour was spending in government. Furthermore, the basis of the economic crisis in Britain was the worldwide crash instigated by the collapse of American banks, which caused tremors across the developed world. Labour then took some very hard decisions and Gordon Brown called it right, pleading for the bailout of the banks and leading Europe away from the crisis. Labour then began to deliver stability and small amounts of growth before inevitably losing power at the 2010 election, largely due to the public’s decision to not trust Labour with the economy.

However, since 2010, the UK economy has consistently stalled and stagnated and has now returned to recession, despite the implementation of Tory economic plans. Despite the fact that the economy has slid backwards over the past two quarters, the Tory party continues with their damaging fiscal ideas and the country continues to allow ideological cuts to ruin the economy due to their distrust of Labour. As well as denying the UK economy growth, the prime minister has today claimed that the Eurozone must replicate the coalition’s “pro-growth” agenda, a laughable gesture considering that the UK has returned to recession.

It has been clear for a long time that the economy will be the defining factor of the next election, probably in 2015. It is key for Labour’s election prospects therefore that the party regains economic credibility and destroys that of the Tories. You would expect the return to a double-dip recession would make this job easy but the sheer level of distrust between voters and Labour has made this a difficult task. However, I believe that David Cameron’s speech today, urging the Eurozone to replicate his policies, and continued stuttering growth allows Labour a golden opportunity, one they cannot afford to miss, in destroying Tory credibility going into the next election. As for restoring respectability to Labour’s economic plans, the party must recognise the faults of Labour before the 2008 crash, and ensure that they produce spending plans that are realistic and accounted for. Furthermore, I believe that Labour can gain a stranglehold on the election by presenting their economic vision as one of equality and fairness.

In attacking the coalition’s economic plans, Labour have already been presented a massive opportunity by the UK’s return to recession, and faltering voter confidence in the coalition policies was shown by Labour’s massive local election victories. Furthermore, Cameron called today for the adoption of UK economic policies throughout the Eurozone, and who in their right mind espouses an economic policy so consistently failing. Labour can surely use Cameron’s speech today to present the prime minister as hellbent on austerity due to his ideological interests, as surely any pragmatic leader would look to change course so as to restore growth.

To restore faith in Labour’s ability to handle the economy the two Eds must acknowledge first and foremost that Labour under Gordon Brown made mistakes and they must accept that voters still have not forgiven these mistakes. They must use this opportunity to distance themselves from the old Labour regime and stamp their own authority on the Labour party. One question always asked of me regarding Ed Miliband is “what does he stand for?”, and it is a question I struggle to answer and usually I respond with vague murmurings about fairness and equality. I believe that, even if voters do not trust Labour to deliver economic excellence, they are currently seen as the party of fairness, and I believe Ed should make fairness central to his agenda as a whole, and his economic policy. Tory cuts are ideological and ruthless and must be attacked as so, whilst Labour must produce a correctly costed economic policy which restores growth and jobs to the working-class and squeezed middle, regaining voters lost to the Tories in 2010. Whilst I believe Labour has been right to keep its cards close to its chest up to this point regarding a potential spending plan post-2015, now the two Eds must deliver a credible alternative.

Therefore, it is key now that Labour takes advantage of what may be the best opening they get regarding economic policy in this government’s term in office. To take full advantage Labour has to produce a credible alternative, correctly costed, which produces a narrative for Labour’s route back to power, one of equality of opportunity, fairness and growth.

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