Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Is there going to be an Election, or something?

In the biggest shock since Ricky Martin decided to share with us that he's gay, Gordon Brown will head to Buckingham Palace today to ask the Queen to dissolve Parliament so that a General Election can take place on 6th May. You have to love the quaint traditions we observe in this country. Presumably the Queen will politely pretend that she had no idea that this was going to happen, rather like a wife who's found out her husband's cackhanded plans for her surprise birthday party and chooses not to hurt his feelings by telling him. I just can't help thinking that the Prime Minister and the Queen between them have way too much power. I think that Parlimaents should sit for 4 years at a time, like happens in many other countries, so there can be no doubt about when the election's going to be and a Prime Minister can't delay or bring it forward for political advantage.

You could argue that this power has been part of Gordon's downfall. His dithering over the Election that Never Was in 2007 started the process that was to send his premiership into freefall, leading to a febrile period of rebellion in the Labour Party that could only be quelled by the dark arts of Peter Mandelson.

On 6th May 1910, Britain entered a new era after the death of King Edward VII. Exactly 100 years on, the British have the choice between two futures - more of the same with this lot and Nick Clegg's Liberal Democrats. While the Labservatives between them have progressively increased the gap between rich and poor, it's the Liberal Democrats who offer not just policies but a whole new political culture with our four main pledges:

Fair Taxes - raising the tax threshold to £10,000 taking 4 million of the lowest paid out of tax completely and giving others an extra £700 per year. That's several months' Council Tax or rent to many people.

Giving children the best start in life - making sure those children who need it most get the educational support they need to reach their potential. No child should be held back because of their background. Nor should young people be put off going to university because they can't afford the fees - we would phase out tuition fees for all, like we did in Scotland.

Cleaning up politics - giving people the right to sack corrupt MPs, a fair voting system, fixed term parliaments, tighter rules on lobbying and political donations.

Securing the recovery Vince Cable is so effective as Shadow Chancellor that even the Sun has taken to slating him as they did yesterday (no, I'm not linking to them, are you having a laugh?). Both Labour and Conservatives are running scared of our credible and sustainable plans for the economy, investing in green technology, warmer homes, properly dealing with the banking sector so that they can no longer put our economy in peril.

31% of people want Vince Cable as Chancellor. He was the clear winner of last week's Ask the Chancellors debate as judged by cold hearted journalists. Nick Clegg has the highest approval rating of any of the leaders. The more people see of Nick, the more they seem to like him which bodes well for the tv debates.

We're going into this election in a good position, not just in the polls but on the ground. We're better prepared, and have been better organised for longer than I can remember seeing before. I think that the current Scottish Lib Dem contingent in Westminster have a very good chance of being joined by three fantastic friends of mine Katy Gordon in Glasgow North, Fred Mackintosh in Edinburgh South and Kevin Lang in Edinburgh North and Leith, all of whom have been working flat out on their campaigns for a very long time.

This election is wide open, probably the most unpredictable I've ever known. To that 31% who want Vince Cable as Chancellor, or in the 45% of people who think Nick Clegg is doing a good job - well, make it happen. Vote to make them PM and Chancellor. If you all do, they will be. As the meerkat would say, simples.

1 comment:

Baker Street said...

I would also add, in favour of the Liberal Democrats, that they are the only one of the three main parties who is prepared to take an objective look at defence and foreign policy.

Labour and the Conservatives seem determined to spend £97 billion on replacing Trident nuclear weapons regardless of the state of the economy and the cuts that will be needed in public spending. The Lib Dems are at least prepared to step back and think about whether we really need to replace Trident as part of a defence review.

I'm just amazed that Labour and the Conservatives think they can undertake a defence review and address the £35 billion black hole in the defence equipment budget by ignoring the most expensive item in that budget - and one that has big implications for UK foreign policy.

The world has changed since the Cold War and replacing Trident won't protect us from the threats from climate change, cyberwarfare, or fundamentalism. The Lib Dems sem to be the only one of the major parties that recognises this.


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