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rotten boroughs - with a mighty bound he was free... - The Villages

hutch0
Date: 2009-06-09 11:13
Subject: rotten boroughs - with a mighty bound he was free...
Security: Public
Location:home
Mood:calmcalm
Music:vaughan williams
If you'd asked me, towards the end of last week, I'd have told you that Gordon was headed for the dole queue. That he's managed to survive is, I suppose, a tribute to his talents and to the fear he inspires in MPs.
The European elections were disastrous for any number of reasons. It was Labour's worst performance at an election ever, but they've managed to spin it. Across Europe voters - the ones who could be bothered to vote - turned away from Socialism and towards the centre right, which took a little of the sting out of Labour's performance. In addition, Europe really doesn't have a very big place in the public consciousness over here. I don't remember the last European elections being so closely watched and dissected; they're being seen now as something of a referendum on the credit crisis and the government's handling of it, and of the MPs expenses thing, and both those things are spinnable.
What is embarrassing - shameful, actually - is that the protest vote allowed UKIP and the BNP to gain ground - in the case of the BNP sending two MEPs to Brussels, and I'm ashamed to say that one of them came from my home area. UKIP are a bunch of cartoons, and I found it deeply ironic that a party which is anti-Europe was so delighted to do well in European elections.
Like the European elections, meetings of the Parliamentary Labour Party aren't heavily-reported, as a rule. But yesterday's attracted the kind of attention Princess Diana used to get.
It was built up as a make-or-break meeting, when Gordon would face a roomfull of fractious backbenchers, all of whom wanted to tear him limb from limb. There would be resignations, calls for him to step down, automatic weapons fire, attack dogs. That kind of thing.
In the event, it was a bit of a damp squib. Charles Clarke called for Gordon's resignation, but Charlie does that to every Prime Minister. Stephen Byers called for his resignation, but he wasn't even at the meeting and he's hardly fondly-regarded within the Party, for a number of reasons.
As I understand it, Gordon put on the performance of his life. He was described a `humble,' `caring.' He got applause. He got away with it.
So, boxes ticked. Cabinet sorted out; check. European elections spun; check. Council elections...well, probably sortable, and it's the General Election that really matters; check. Backbenchers mollified; check.
This is not to say he's entirely out of the woods yet. In the next week or so he'll be facing a no-confidence motion in the Commons, but I think he could squeak that too.
If he does, it's unlikely that we'll have an election until next Summer. By then, the expenses system will have been reformed and - if present trends continue - the economy may well be picking up, and Gordon can go to the country as the man who got the big issues right. He could win. He probably won't win big; I think his majority will be absolutely tiny and he'll have to cut a deal with parties like the SNP, which will wreck his next term.
But really, I can't remember any other time like this in British politics. Historians are going to be picking over this period for years and years.
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calcinations
User: calcinations
Date: 2009-06-09 10:52 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
It wasn't a protest vote here in the UK, more of a protest non-vote for Labour, who aren't socialist.

AS for the economy, bits of it will return to normal, but unenmployment will continue rising, and everyone seems to conveniently forget the gigantic public debt which will need to be paid back, which will give labour and the tories the perfect excuse to cut public services. It'll be like the 80's again, and also interest rates will probably rise up quite high again, but not for another 4 or 5 months.
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calcinations
User: calcinations
Date: 2009-06-09 11:30 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Oh, and isn't part of the problem the lack of a successor? Brown and Blair have so successfully warped the promotional process that there is no one near the top job who is actually capable to mounting an attack for it. Surrounding themselves with yes men and women and the mediocre or those who simply want a quiet life is a good way to ensure leadership longevity.
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2009-06-09 12:46 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I think a bigger problem is that everyone is terrified of standing against Gordon and losing, because that'll be the end of their political career. But yes, there don't seem to be any obvious contenders. Miliband might go for it if he could get enough support, but he's young enough to bide his time and see how things shake out. Alan Johnson seems to be the favourite at the moment, but he's just been made Home Secretary and he'll want to enjoy that moment for a while longer. Plus I can't see him as anything more than a caretaker leader.
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2009-06-09 12:42 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Vote, non-vote, it's the same thing, isn't it? I know a number of people who voted UKIP simply out of disgust with about the expenses business, and others who refused to vote for the same reason. I know Labour aren't socialist, but they still play on their socialist roots, and Gordon likes to present himself as much closer to socialism than Blair was.
If they're not directly affected by the chaos in the economy - losing their job or their home, say - the window most people have on the economy is the media, and the media seems to be cautiously reporting that things might be picking up a little.
Again, you're absolutely right. They'll cut public services, and I suspect they'll say it's just a temporary measure to allow the debt to be cut. Of course, `temporary' will stretch well into our grandchildren's lifetimes.
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User: sarcobatus
Date: 2009-06-09 15:12 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
You know, Hutch, you've managed to get me interested in UK politics, which is HUGE -- my sudden interest in politics, that is. I get so bored with all the bs over here that half the time whenever I hear a politician speaking via media I inevitably walk away mumbling, "Whump whump whump."

But you're right about what's happening in Great Britain, and all of Europe. It's a watermark point in world history.

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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2009-06-09 15:20 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I used to do that - walk away going `whump, whump.' But I suddenly realised that, apart from anything else, it's a huge free circus full of freaks and maniacs and the occasional saint. They're also them that rules us, and they need watching closely. I try to stay abreast of US politics, but it's such a vast subject that there's no way I can keep up - I check out what's going on on the West Coast and in Chicago and New York and Washington when I can, but for the life of me I couldn't tell you what the Governor of Iowa's been up to recently.
I think you're being kind about the significance of what's going on here. In global terms, it's not wildly important. But for the student of the absurd it's an absolute gift.
If you want to keep up with British politics, check out The Times and The Guardian and The Independent online now and again; they'll give you a good idea what's going on.
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User: sarcobatus
Date: 2009-06-09 15:27 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:Nevada Jenny
"I try to stay abreast"

I've heard the rumours . . .

Thanks for suggesting those online newspapers, will do. I occasionally check out the BBC, find it interesting.

As for American politics, OMG! It's insane!
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calcinations
User: calcinations
Date: 2009-06-09 15:38 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
With the USA centric orientation of the english speaking internet, I probably know only a bit less about current US politics than UK politics. THe structures of the messes are very similar, although the precise colour and horrible smells are different.
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2009-06-09 15:59 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I think the phrase `colour and smells' is probably a good one; every nation's politics has a certain colour and smell, and probably taste as well, and you've got to pay attention to what's going on over a period of time in order to catch those little nuances.
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calcinations
User: calcinations
Date: 2009-06-09 15:39 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Anything that impacts upon your survival prospects should be of interest to you.

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calcinations
User: calcinations
Date: 2009-06-09 15:37 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I thought watermark moments happen every few years anyway. They do over here. 1997, 2003, 2009, etc.

But I'm a little confused about how important it is for world history.
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