The British Politics Discussion Thread

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by DarthKarde, Apr 8, 2003.

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  1. DarthKarde Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2002
    star 5
    With important local elections just over 3 weeks away this seems like an ideal time for a thread devoted to British politics. On 1st May 10,374 of the 19,720 council seats from 308 out of 387 councils in England will be contested as will all 129 seats in the Scottish Parliament, all 1,022 seats on the 32 councils in Scotland and all 60 seats in the Welsh assembly

    While war in Iraq has cast a shadow over everything else, normal politics will partially resume tommorow when the Chancellor delivers his annual budget statement. It will be a difficult day for Gordon Brown, he will be forced to cut his growth forecasts yet again, this shouldn't surprise anyone, for well over a year his growth predictions have been far more optimistic than those of almost everyone else. With the government firmly committed to massive increases in expenditure on public services it is becoming increasing more difficult to see how such increases will be financed. Gordon Brown seemingly has two choices, increase borrowing or raise taxes. Raising taxes further would be unpopular, the rise in National Insurance announced last year which has just kicked in was the first rise in direct taxation since 1975, council tax is being massive increased in many areas this year as a result of the government changing the rules on local authority funding, another major tax rise would give the distinct impression of the Labour Party returning to its old ways of tax and spend. Likewise increasing borrowing will harm the Brown's reputation as the Iron Chancellor, who kept public finances well under control.

    The Labour Party also faces difficulties on many other fronts. Despite all the extra money going in there has been little sign of any improvement in public services, most agree that massive reform is required. Tony Blair is said to be committed to such reform but it will be deeply unpopular with his backbenchers, traditional supporters and the trade unions. Having expended so much political capital on the Iraq situation it remains to be seen if Blair can steamroll such policies through, at some point he will have to make some concessions to the left or face a crumbling of his traditional support.

    The enthusiasm for New Labour in the country has now pretty much gone, most people believe that they have been taxed more and received few improvements in return. The Conservative Party should be in a position to capitalise but through a combination of endless infighting and pathetic leadership from Iain Duncan Smith (IDS). Only a combination of war in Iraq and the pary having a long drawn out election process saved IDS from a leadership challenge earlier this year and anything less than substantial gains in the local elections could be the final nail in the coffin. He pretty much has three weeks to save his leadership and an impressive response to the budget statement seems to be a must.

    It seems clear that Labour will do badly at the local elections, it's previously rock solid muslim vote is appauled by the war in Iraq as are many other traditional Labour voters, many will probably not vote in protest. With turnout traditionally low in local elections the parties who can get the vote out tend to fair well, this could well result in Labour being hit hard. Despite this the conservatives will be unlikely to benefit much, the areas where Labour will be hit hardest are the ones least likely to vote conservative. The horribly oppurtunistic Liberal Democrats and an assorted collection of small left wing parties are likely to make gains in these areas.

    One other party could make small but disturbing gains. The far-right British National Party stunned the political establishment last year be winning 3 seats on Burnly Council. Since then they have gained a seat in both Blackburn and Halifax in by elections. This year they are fielding 221 candidates compared to just 68 last year. The BNP was almostly totally comprised of racist skinhead thugs but now presents a more respectable face. Respected businessmen and housewives make up most of their candidates. Their racist
  2. Ooh_Aah_Cantona Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 13, 2000
    star 6
    it's a mad house in our office (i work in local government), the politicians are giving my office a hard time because it's not looking good.

    It's a labour stronghold but the last local elections (like much of the country) the conservatives made up a lot of ground.

    And on a side note, have you noticed that since the war has started, Blair is keeping a real low profile? Just in case.
  3. AJA Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 1998
    star 4
    As an outsider who has only observed British politics sporadically, my impression of Duncan Smith is fairly positive, in the sense that he seems to possess the kind of solid conservative principles you would want in a Conservative leader, as opposed to the kind of wishy-washy, accommodationist appeasement you get from self-styled "moderates". I gather that his problem is an apparent lack of rhetorical intensity, or "backbone", perhaps made worse by his party's unwillingness to allow anyone to stand up and lead it. Correct?

    As I said, what I've observed is limited, but it would seem that it would be unfortunate for Duncan Smith to fail if that means a victory for the so-called "modernisers". The fact that this nationalist party is having some success in the mainstream suggests that there is anger against the Labour government. If the Tories were to move left in an attempt to accommodate the Blair positions, I would expect to see that party grow.
  4. DarthKarde Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2002
    star 5
    I agree with you about Iain Duncan Smith, there is nothing wrong with his policies or principles and his enemies in the party have behaved in a disgraceful and treacherous manor. However he must take some of the blame himself, his leadership has been weak and his judgement questionable at best. This had led to a massive media focus on him personally instead of his policies. That may be okay for a charismatic politician like Tony Blair but for some like Iain Duncan Smith it is a problem. He is now widely ridiculed and needs a miracle if he is ever to become Prime Minister. Even some of the journalist's who supported him when he campaigned for the party leadership have concluded that he is a lost cause, Bruce Anderson of the Idenpendant is one example. The irony for the modernisers is that if the do get rid of him he will probably be replaced by another right winger, either David Davis or Michael Howard.
  5. AJA Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 1998
    star 4
    That confirms my impression, that what Duncan Smith is lacking is a willingness to assert some forcefulness where it's needed. The Tories could also probably benefit from some advice on the part of President Bush's political advisors, since Blair was essentially installed by Clinton. I wonder if they're getting it, given the delicate nature of Bush's alliance with Blair.

    Speaking of which, I wonder how the President is finding his stay over there. It seems the unionists in N. Ireland were hoping to get some support from him, but he avoided the issue. In normal circumstances, he'd probably be backing them more.
  6. DarthKarde Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2002
    star 5
    since Blair was essentially installed by Clinton.

    :confused: :confused: :confused: :confused: :confused:
  7. AJA Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 1998
    star 4
    Clinton sent his entire political machine over there, sought out Blair, and schooled him in the "triangulation" playbook. Blair's line was "New Labour", just as Clinton was a "New Democrat". They did the same thing in Israel with Barak. The Clinton people actively sought to elect leaders in both key countries that were "on board" with their agenda. We've seen how well that worked out for the Israeli peace process. I wonder how it will end up in Northern Ireland.
  8. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 6
    Geesh, Clinton didn't have that much influence. [face_laugh]

    That is really a disservice to Labour and Blair.

    Karde, you mentioned a Chancellor. Is that a Scottish Chancellor? Part of home rule?
  9. DarthKarde Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2002
    star 5
    Any Labour leader would have the 1997 general election, John Smith, Blair's predecessor would have been Prime Minister had he not passed away. The polls have not changed much since September 1992.

    Karde, you mentioned a Chancellor. Is that a Scottish Chancellor? Part of home rule?

    Full title is Chancellor of the Exchequer. Equivalent to US treasury secretary but more powerful. The Chancellor is pretty much completely in charge of economic policy.
  10. AJA Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 1998
    star 4
    Geesh, Clinton didn't have that much influence.

    You're being naive.

    All I'm saying is that the Clinton people's interference in the electoral processes of Britian in the service of electing Blair was unprecedented. You can take that for what you will.

    To be more specific, every Presidential candidate in America has a gang of political advisors that "shape the message" and help define strategy. Clinton's entire apparatus was sent to the UK to work on Blair's campaign. As a result, Blair's strategy and approach are identical to Clinton's, be it "triangulation" on issues, reliance on "spin", "burying bad news" on days when it won't be noticed, and on, and on, and on.
  11. Stoney-Wan-Kenobi Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Dec 5, 2002
    star 3
    I hadn't heard of the UK Independence Party until tonight when I saw their Party Political Broadcast - so they're keen for us to break away from Europe, but what about America? :p
    Haven't had loads of stuff through the door yet, but from the TV broadcasts I've seen so far the Scottish Socialists' one was the most amusing - comedy matters! ;)
    Will check out the Party websites and read through their 'promises' in the next week or so before choosing who deserves my vote. I reckon the number of people voting will be pretty low though.
  12. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 6
    AJA,

    I'm being naive perhaps, but you're being irrational.

    The whole "New Labour" and the rejection of their socialist-centralizing platform helped bring in first-time Labour votes as well as John Major's Tories caught up in scandal.

    To even equate Clinton with Blair is an insult.

    EDIT:
    Karde:
    "The Chancellor is pretty much completely in charge of economic policy."

    So he is your nation's Alan Greenspan?

    Does the PM have to appoint people strictly from the Commons or can he bring in "outsiders"?
  13. DarthKarde Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2002
    star 5
    So he is your nation's Alan Greenspan?

    No, that would be Eddie George who is the governor of the Bank of England. In simple terms the Chancellor sets taxs rates and decides how much money should go to each government department.

    Does the PM have to appoint people strictly from the Commons or can he bring in "outsiders"?

    Ministers have to be members of The House of Commons or the House of Lords, very few come from the Lords.
  14. ShaneP Ex-Mod Officio

    Member Since:
    Mar 26, 2001
    star 6
    I see.

    Does the government even submit the budget for approval in the Commons, or do they not bother seeing how the body is actually part of administration?

    I read somewhere that the parliament is over everything above stop signs and potholes.

    True?

  15. Darth_Punk Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Mar 12, 2002
    star 4
    This is most important political party in the UK that you have missed out.

    http://www.jgbrewer.btinternet.co.uk/
  16. DarthKarde Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2002
    star 5
    Does the government even submit the budget for approval in the Commons, or do they not bother seeing how the body is actually part of administration?

    I will stand corrected on this but I don't think the house gets to vote on the budget, the Chancellor's powers are largely executive.
  17. AJA Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 1998
    star 4
    I'm being naive perhaps, but you're being irrational.

    I'm not being irrational, I'm stating fact.

    The whole "New Labour" and the rejection of their socialist-centralizing platform helped bring in first-time Labour votes as well as John Major's Tories caught up in scandal.

    Right. This is no different from what Clinton attempted with the Democrats. Remember "the era of big government is over"?

    To even equate Clinton with Blair is an insult.

    In terms of personal character, certainly. Politically, it is accurate.
  18. Ender Sai Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Feb 18, 2001
    star 9
    So did Clinton also help move the Australian Labor Party to the Right? :p

    Come on AJA, the Labor movement was dying in the UK. Was it their 1983 Manifesto DarthKarde which plunged their approval to an all-time low? Basically, democratic socialism wasn't winning support, so the idea was to hold some (i.e a few) ideas from your typical labour party platform and adopt a more economically conservative policy whilst essentially dismissing any socialist connotations or connections.

    To say that a Labour party anywhere can be equated with the Democrats is innaccurate. The Democrats were never born of a socialist movement. The Democrats are a centre-left party. Not a left party in the traditional sense, as demonstrated in Labour or Social Democrat parties in Europe or the Commonwealth. It's the same as saying "Oh, MI6 is England's CIA" - it serves to only confuse people, for whilst MI6 is a foreign intelligence service the similarities end there.

    E_S
  19. DarthKarde Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2002
    star 5
    Was it their 1983 Manifesto DarthKarde which plunged their approval to an all-time low?

    Correct, Michael Foot took the Labour party to the extreme left, a lot of moderates left the Labour Party and formed the Social Democrats (who later merged with the Liberal Party to form The Liberal Democrats) and the Conservatives won the 1983 election with a landslide. Over the next decade Neil Kinnick fought hard to bring the Labour Party back onto centre ground, he broke the back of the hard left making Blair's job so much easier.

    As for todays budget, Gordon Brown proved yet again what a canny political operator he is. By predicting optimistic growth figures for next year he has delayed making the difficult decisions and painted a rosey picture. With speculation over his future increasingly rife it was a smart political move, economically only time will tell.
  20. scum&villainy Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 8, 1999
    star 4
    Clinton absolutely inspired the New Labour movement. Obviously the British political landscape is vastly different to that of the States, so the policies won't be that similar, but the style, methods and tactics are cloned. Blair obviously failed to go to the Infidelity And Debauchery lecture, though
  21. DarthKarde Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2002
    star 5
    The New Labour movement was part of a long and natural progression of the party. While Blair and Clinton became close and Clinton clearly helped Blair it would be wrong to suggest that New Labour was simply a rip-off of New Democrats.
  22. TheScarletBanner Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 19, 2002
    star 4
    This may election, I'll be voting Conservative, and I expect that will also be my vote in the next general election. If I'd been told that six months ago, I would have stabbed myself in the chest - I'd planned to vote Socialist Alliance. But how the times change.

    As for the Democrat/Labour distinction...

    Labour WAS born of a working-class, socialist movement, which really only became a major political party in the twenties or so. It's first major win was in 1945, when it was elected over Winston Churchill's Conservatives, under Clement Attlee. That's when the "Post-War Consensus" began - broad agreement between the Tories and Labour. It enables Labour to pursue a pretty much social democrat agenda - introducing NHS, creeping nationalisation, and so on - with the Conservatives as a restraint. Then, in 1979, Maggie Thatcher trounced them and broke the Post-War Consensus (basically, she gave up the method of small concessions and compromise, and just dragged the country her way kicking and screaming). And in 1983, Labour published its most socialist manifesto ever under Michael Foot - it was actually called the longest suicide note in history.

    Thankfully, for Labour, Neil Kinnock came to power and began modernisations, and though they were beaten again in 1987 and and 1992, he took them a good deal back towards the centre. I'd say this was the point when Labour ceased to be a left-wing 'movement' and became a slightly left-of-centre 'party,' not unlike the Democrats. John Smith continued it from 1992 to 1994, when he died. Then Tony Blair took over. He pioneered, along with Bill Clinton, what is now known as the Third Way - i.e., the marriage of capitalist economics to socially liberal (in the American sense) social/foreign policies. He also borrowed Bill Clinton's election techniques, and made Labour much more professional. The Clinton-Blair relationship is a pretty strange one, especially now as Blair and Bush seem so close. But either way, AJA is right in a way - Blair has a lot to owe to Clinton's style of politics, campaigning and presidency. But I wouldn't say he owes Clinton THAT much - Blair is also quite like Thatcher, Major and various other British Prime Ministers in various ways.

    I think, this time around at the polls, Labour will take quite a hit. The Tories will take a slightly softer one, and the Liberal "Opportunism" Democrats and the small parties (especially the BNP) will get a pretty handsome boost. I DON'T see IDS resigning, though. I personally think he has the ability to weather the storm until the next general election. But who knows?

    - Scarlet.
  23. DarthKarde Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 28, 2002
    star 5
    This may election, I'll be voting Conservative, and I expect that will also be my vote in the next general election. If I'd been told that six months ago, I would have stabbed myself in the chest - I'd planned to vote Socialist Alliance. But how the times change.

    Glad you posted that, it saved me asking you.

    I think, this time around at the polls, Labour will take quite a hit. The Tories will take a slightly softer one, and the Liberal "Opportunism" Democrats and the small parties (especially the BNP) will get a pretty handsome boost.

    Depressing but true, I can't see anything stopping the Lib Dems making massive gains. As for the BNP, I hope I'm wrong but I wouldn't be surprised to see them win 10 or more seats.

    I DON'T see IDS resigning, though. I personally think he has the ability to weather the storm until the next general election. But who knows?

    His fate is no longer in his own hands. If he is challenged he will lose, it just remains to be seen if anyone will challenge him but you are probably right that he won't resign.
  24. Darth_Asabrush Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 21, 2000
    star 5
  25. TripleB Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 28, 2000
    star 4
    Very interesting thread. I am actually weighing the possibility about taking a trip to Great Britain, in respect to the tremendous political courage shown by Prime Minister Blair in the Iraq situation.

    Just out of wonder, and I know it is off topic, but when I was stationed in Europe and took a trip to Britain, because I was there, I am not allowed to donate blood because of the Mad Cow disease thing, something about it staying in your blood for like 10 years or something like that. Can any of you give me more information on all that?
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