The Futility Monster

He'll pointlessly derive more enjoyment out of your resources than you

Posts Tagged ‘dead government’

30 Days

Posted by The Futility Monster on April 6, 2010 @ 09:37

This might have been spoofable, if more people had seen the film...

That’s all there is left of this wretched Labour administration.

Not that I have much enthusiasm for what follows.

Today Gordon Brown will “get permission” to dissolve Parliament off the Queen. A ridiculous notion, but one that the media loves. Nicholas Witchell gets his four/five yearly chance to stand with Buck House in the background, uttering in his clipped Received Pronunciation about the formality of the occasion. Pass me the sick bag.

Parliament, of course, still has business to attend to, including the awful Digital Economy Bill. I fully expect this to slip through, largely because Labour were crafty enough to start it in the House of Lords, the only place where an opposition can make changes or delay it. If Labour wanted, they could use their majority to pass it, unamended, and that’s the end of the matter. No “wash up” or negotiation with the other parties needed.

So Parliament will carry on sitting for a few more days, just so we can ensure many more of Labour’s disastrous laws are put on the statute book. A few more laws which have zero credibility, and no legitimacy at all, signed off as they are by this most rotten of Parliaments.

That’s why I’m so looking forward to this election, despite what I fear is the inevitable outcome of a Tory landslide. It will be nice to, at least temporarily, have a government that is empowered by a recent election result, a party leader fully in control, with a backbench resolutely on his side as a result of the victory. For once in quite a while, we’ll have a government that will at least be in office and in power.

30 days left of this listless, lifeless, moribund, empty, battered, idea-free Labour government.

In some respects, I’m really looking forward to the Labour manifesto; it will be the closest we ever get to a party admitting it wants to be in power purely for the sake of power, simply because there is no ideological lifeblood coursing through the party any more. That kind of revolution will have to wait till they’re on the Opposition benches again.

And as for the Lib Dems… I’m excited, but also nervous. The opportunity of fair coverage in the weeks ahead, and the Prime Ministerial debates, will give Nick Clegg and his team an unprecedented chance to put across the party’s message in a way they’ve never been able to before.

Previous Lib Dem leaders could only dream of this chance. Charles Kennedy had the political climate in his favour in 2005, but he certainly didn’t get to stand on the same stage as Blair, and get a chance to look like a Prime Minister in waiting.

Nick Clegg will get that, and on his head will be the consequences.

As for Mr Cameron, the sky is the limit. But as I wrote last August, he really could do with a landslide.

Fun times ahead for us politicos.

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Was That Worth It?

Posted by The Futility Monster on November 19, 2009 @ 08:35

Do you feel lucky?

Yesterday’s Queen’s Speech was seven minutes of tedium.

The event itself is worth watching, but mostly because I would love it if something went wrong. Maybe the crown slips just a little on the Queen’s head. Maybe Jack Straw falls on his arse because he can’t bear to turn his back on the Queen. Maybe Lord Mandelson comes dressed as a drag Queen because he can’t bear all the competition.

But no, as usual, another flawless execution of pomp and pageantry. Oh, except from a bum note from the trumpeter when the Queen entered the Royal Gallery. Yes, folks, that really was the highlight of my day.

Otherwise, was there much to write home about?

Well… there might have been, had Labour had some courage. Nick Clegg vaguely had the right idea when he suggested that perhaps this should have been a very short programme of reform bills to tidy up the mess before the new Parliament comes in. It makes sense: we are currently squandering our greatest opportunity in a long time to have the public engaged with questions of how we make our politics better.

Instead, it has been kicked into the long grass as usual. Which means nothing ever changes. The new Tory government will be no different. Indeed, I think it was Andrew Neil who said that the Tories pledge on an elected House of Lords was a “third term priority”.

Instead, we got a clutch of bills that would deaden even the liveliest of cocaine and amphetamine-fuelled pulses. As you can see from my neat little picture above stolen from the Guardian website… (see: newspapers steal from bloggers, bloggers steal from newspapers)

Is this the vision of the country Gordon Brown wanted to set out? Recall when he chose not to call an election in the Autumn of 2007 that he’d “decided” it would be better for the country to see what he is like as a Prime Minister first, which was a very convenient excuse for the suddenly disastrous poll ratings…

Of course it’s not. It’s a Queen’s Speech devoid of purpose, buffeted by events with no inspiration whatsoever. One might have thought, given that final year governments since time immemorial have used the last Queen’s Speech before a General Election to set out their stall, that Brown would have done the same. That it would be a revealing little list, showing us what a new Labour government would be working on. Tempting, teasing us into voting Labour. Letting the dog see the rabbit…

It’s events like this that reinforce my continued belief that Labour is doing its very best to lose the election, and are merely going through the tradition motions of uncontroversial governance that keep the country ticking over.

After all, the next election is not going to be fought over the Flood and Water Management Bill, or the Digital Economy Bill…

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Why The Afghanistan War Will Continue

Posted by The Futility Monster on November 6, 2009 @ 10:30

poppy_square

Perhaps we need more white poppies this year...

The question I’m beginning to wonder is simple. How much longer can the political class go on supporting the deaths of British troops in the face of public opposition?

The answer is nuanced and requires a combination of all the following factors:

While opposition is merely “opposition” and not being demonstrated extremely and forcefully, they could conceivably go on for a long time. After all, millions made their feelings known on the Iraq War, and that made no difference. Right now, people may say they oppose the war, but do they have a place to go to express it?

While the main Opposition party supports the war, that too will ensure little changes. When the two main parties are both agreed on a course of action, there is almost nothing stopping it. The Tories support the war as much, if not more, than Labour. Perhaps when Labour are in opposition they may elect a new leader who takes a populist stance on Afghanistan. For governments to be truly put under pressure, it is essential that the Opposition is the articulate voice of the nation’s feelings. That isn’t happening now.

While there is a relatively convincing and wonderfully rhetoric-laced riposte to all opponents of the Afghanistan war. It’s very easy for me to get into a debate with someone and tell them the war must end, but I have to admit I am always put on the back foot if they respond by saying we must remain there or the country will collapse, and then tens or hundreds of thousands will have died in vain. Then there are arguments about terrorism, which, while mostly bogus, give easy soundbites for the warmongers.

While there is a government at utter rock-bottom which knows it really doesn’t matter that it’s backing an unpopular war. Labour couldn’t sink any lower if they tried, and so the party leadership is free to ignore populist demands. Perhaps when the Tories are in government, and it soon becomes “their war” and the poll ratings start to slip… maybe that will encourage a change in direction.

While there is nowhere to go. None of the three major parties are outlining a case for withdrawal. That makes such a view extreme, espoused only by cranks from Stop The War or loony lefties. As such, the only people who appear in the media news cycles to say we need to pull out are figures that don’t look, sound or feel like they represent Britain. Paul Flynn MP made a superb case on Newsnight for pulling out immediately, but until such voices are heard consistently and forcefully across all media, opinions will not harden.

While not enough people refuse to make the issue the number one priority for how they will vote. In the end, it is down to the electorate to make their feelings fully heard.

While politicians don’t have the bottle to say “Enough is enough”. We’ve got into this bizarre situation now where no one wants to be the first to back down or they will be accused either of being unpatriotic or overseeing a defeat for “our boys”.

While tabloid media are not opposed. The government doesn’t necessarily listen to the tabloids, but if it’s being remorselessly attacked by this group as well as other media and the public at large, it all builds up a convincing case.

While Obama refuses to take the lead. It would be rather odd if the world’s policy on Afghanistan was set by the fact that Obama doesn’t want to lose face against the rhetoric of the Republican Party, but that is what’s happening. I get the sense that he’s not prepared to take them on on this issue. In any case, I don’t think he opposes the war anyway. Which is a mistake; this will be his very own Vietnam.

Conclusion

Afghanistan is a total mess, and the sooner we’re out, the better. There is nothing more we can achieve there. Our efforts have succeeded in putting in place a corrupt administration in Kabul, while the rest of the country is run by local warlords. Meanwhile, we allegedly defeated the Taleban in 2002, yet we’re still fighting them seven years later. That is not a good enough return for the deaths of thousands of soldiers and huge, untold numbers of civilians.

The bloodshed, and the madness, must stop.

If it doesn’t, the corrosive effect of politicians failing to appreciate or understand their electorate will continue.

And then maybe our own country will need to be invaded in order to restore “democracy”.

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The Wit of Geoff Hoon

Posted by The Futility Monster on July 30, 2009 @ 13:19

"Don't like that one? I'll tell you another one. A man walks into a bar..."

"Don't like that one? I'll tell you another one. A man walks into a bar..."

Fear not, loyal readers. This post is not actually about Geoff Hoon. Or, indeed, any attempts to be funny by the man himself.

No. It’s actually a brief reflection on his presence as representative of the government on last Thursday’s edition of Question Time.

And yes, I know I’m a bit late with this. But, such is the beauty of the BBC iPlayer. I’ve been busy all week, and I finally got a chance to see the last episode of the series – which was a slightly better affair than usual thanks to a very decent panel including Shirley Williams – who is always on the money, and George Galloway, who is always great value for money no matter whether you agree with him or not.

Anyway… my point is a fairly simple one. The Question Time audiences are much maligned, and perhaps not a true reflection of the country (after all, only viewers of the programme are likely to volunteer for the audience, and viewers of the programme are likely to be more politically-minded than the average citizen) – but if they are a good representation of one thing, it is very likely to be they do reflect the dwindling percentage of those who actually bother turning out to vote.

I understand the researchers always try their best to balance the audience to make it as fair as possible to all parties, but this relies upon audience applicants declaring their political loyalties correctly. Trusting people, in other words, which is very difficult where politics is concerned – since it’s widely known that party officials and activists are routinely advised to engage with such media: in the same way that most letters about politics in a local paper are from local party members or their connections.

With that context in mind, it would be wise to consider the response of the audience to almost every defence Hoon made of government policy very carefully.

In summary, Hoon’s responses were not merely met with the derision worthy of the man. No. If that were the case it would be reasonable to assume that the country is not very happy with the government right now. That would be understandable. But no…

In fact, most of Hoon’s replies were actually met with laughter. A knowing giggle of incredulity that the man really was trying to justify the unjustifiable, from the defenestration of Ian Gibson MP to the government’s response to swine flu. And, I admit, I too joined in with an amused smirk. It seems like the done thing as far as this government is concerned.

That reaction, above all, is the most shocking. That a government can be treated with so much disdain that we are amused by what they’re trying to do to recuse themselves from such a dire economic and political situation. Perhaps it, too, is a laugh of pity. Or even of sympathy at their predicament.

OK, maybe that’s pushing it a bit far.

But if anything tells me this government is a rotting corpse, it is the dismissive humour in which we treat them: as if the whole thing is just one big joke, and we’re waiting for the punchline…

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The Slaughtering of the GOATs

Posted by The Futility Monster on July 8, 2009 @ 01:57

Do you know this man? Because, apparently, Gordon Brown is his biggest fan.

Do you know this man? Because, apparently, Gordon Brown is his biggest fan.

With the news that Lord Malloch Brown (who he?) is to leave the government in the next few weeks, one can’t help but wonder whether Gordon Brown can get anything right.

After all, has he not just concluded what must have been a very difficult reshuffle due to the extreme lack of talent left on his benches? If, as Malloch Brown claims, he has always planned to leave the government, why did he not do it just a few weeks ago when there was an ample opportunity to go without the potential for causing any further embarrassment for the Labour leadership?

Because, surely, Gordon Brown would have known that he had another minister – one who is no stranger to controversy after being appointed as a member of Gordon Brown’s “government of all the talents” – who was on the verge of leaving his government?

If he did, and ignored it, then he is stupid, because he must have known that now the speculation will begin as to exactly why Malloch Brown is going, and why at this very particular moment.

After all, it does seem odd to go right now. What else has the man achieved in the extra few weeks he’s going to be there that he couldn’t have done by going when there was a much better opportunity to? He could easily have slipped away without causing any further distress to a government he claims to support.

Alternatively, if Gordon Brown didn’t know Malloch Brown was planning to go, then why didn’t he? Did Malloch Brown not trust him? Or did Gordon Brown (this is getting silly now)  just have no contact with a minister he says has done “outstanding work”?

If the old pals act, as is now being played out, is to be believed, then I don’t accept that they couldn’t have found a smoother way at a more appropriate juncture to move Malloch Brown on. Instead, they’ve played right into the hands of a media agenda which just can’t wait to bash Gordon Brown with anything they can get their grubby hands on.

The conclusion: either Malloch Brown is not departing on such friendly terms after all, or they really are completely cloth-eared to the hole they’ve dug themselves into, and are happy to see it all continue to drift out of their control.

Stunts like this make me more and more convinced with each passing day that Labour actually wants to lose the next election.

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Waiting, Interminably Waiting

Posted by The Futility Monster on June 23, 2009 @ 21:42

Wish it was just three minutes till the election...

Wish it was just three minutes till the election...

Now that the Speakership election is over, the world of politics once again turns to thoughts of where our next election is going to come from. Because, as political anoraks the world over know – you can’t beat a good election.

There’s nothing quite like the prospect of staying up late at night to see whether, this time, we really might get a hung Parliament. OK, there aren’t many of us who think like that. Only us Lib Dems. One day, our fantasies will come true, and our time will come!

Until then, the rest of the nation is bored of waiting. Because, frankly, it’s been far too long since the last election. Four years, I feel, is the absolute limit. By then the government’s mandate is exceptionally stale. The manifesto has long since been pulped and forgotten. But, by hook or by crook, in November this year, Gordon Brown will once again give us another Queen’s Speech filled with more useless ideas for legislation, barely any of which will have any resemblance to what the voters approved way, way back in 2005.

With the rise of the Internet, and the instant reactions expected by an electorate used to phone-in votes, text polls, Twitter, blogging, 24 hour news, continual status updates, a world where you can reach your family friends at any time at almost no cost in time or effort… it just will not do that our politics is far detached from our the modern reality.

The expenses scandal, and the public’s reaction to it, has proved once and for all that our political class is frighteningly behind the times. Parmjit Dhanda alluded to this in his excellent speech yesterday. Does the House “get it”? Can we not find more direct ways of voting to change the agenda (by choosing a debate topic, for example) that will empower citizens inbetween the blunt instrument of an X in a box every four years if we’re lucky, and every five years if we’re not?

It seems, instead, we just have to sit tight. We all know this government has run its course. It’s like a dodgy kebab mixed with a bad pint. You know it was a mistake. You know there’s nothing you can do about it now.

You’ve just gotta take the punishment and wait for the whole damn thing to get out your system.

The country is currently waiting for Gordon Brown to decide he’s finished. If he doesn’t do so soon, then by June 2010, then we get to exercise the only right available to us in the Septennial Act (as amended by the Parliament Act 1911).

We get to bust the door down.

Only then can we get on with the business of wiping not only his arse, but the excrement off the walls.

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