Labour need the Liberal Democrats to survive 2015 to make sure we don’t have permanent Tory government

If the Labour Party builds up support in rural areas where the Lib Dems are strong it could lead to a long term Tory government

With 2012 being another important year of elections across the UK, with local elections in England, Wales and Scotland it could be a very difficult year for Liberal Democrats. Although it’s difficult to see that the results in 2012 could be as bad as 2011.

However, possibly because it suits the two-party consensus, the Labour Party needs to be careful not to make their own chances of running the country in 2015 to the detriment of maintaining a pluralist democracy.

Whatever the pros and cons of the Liberal Democrats joining the Coalition government if the party performs very badly in the 2015 General Election it may also make the chances of Labour running the country after that election less likely too.

Because of the nature of the Liberal Democrat advances in the 1990s and 2000s the party has naturally made gains from the Conservatives in rural areas. Only in 2005 and 2010 did the party really make advances against Labour, and only to a fairly modest degree. Consequently if the Liberal Democrats do badly at the next election the main beneficiaries will be the Conservatives – in those rural constituencies. This will only make the chances of Labour winning the election lower (if the net beneficiary of Liberal Democrat losses are the Conservatives) as at the moment the Conservatives only need a dozen or so gains to achieve this result.

I don’t blame the Labour Party for attacking the Liberal Democrats and their recent affiliation with the Conservative Party, but by building up support in areas where it will not directly benefit the Labour Party themselves, such as the South East and South West of England, it will just lead to greater Conservative representation and the chance of a return to the 1980s and almost permanent Conservative government.

Something that I would personally like to avoid.

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I don’t like Thatcher, I’ve never liked Thatcher, I’ve never voted Conservative and I never will – but I think she should have a state funeral…

Margaret Thatcher and the debate over her proposed state funeral

As someone who lived through the Thatcher government and disagreed with virtually everything she did. And for that matter had my school milk taken away from me by Margaret Thatcher when I was just 3 years old I am possibly one of the least likely people to support the idea of her having a state funeral.

What she did to nature of British industry by laying waste to the industrial heartlands of the country and the contempt which she gave those people who were thrown on the scrap-heap as a consequence were arrogant and uncaring. Her consistent jingoistic responses to other governments made her a parody of the great leaders of the past, although to be honest I did support the liberation of the Falkland Islands from the dictator Galtieri.

So you might be surprised to hear me say that I think she ought to have a state funeral, I wouldn’t, for example, support one for any of her successors. I was going to stay silent on the subject and let the discussion around it wash over me, but I have recently received so many requests to join ‘causes’ to oppose her state funeral that I thought I ought to explain why I actually support the absolute opposite. Is Margaret Thatcher deserving of a state funeral?

There are, of course, some rather ephemeral reasons to support it, mainly that she was the longest serving Prime Minister of the twentieth century even, some might argue, that she won the last war of empire, though I haven’t really heard this one. But, the main reason, surely, is that she was the first female Prime Minister of this country. In itself people may not think that her sex is sufficient to make her stand out to justify this high accolade, though let’s ignore the fact that generally the people who get state funerals are unelected and achieve the honour through birth rather than achievement. However, it frankly astounds me that people don’t realise the sheer bias in our political system and culture against the rise of women politicians to the summit of our government. It is, with the benefit of hindsight, possible to think that women politicians do OK now, being approximately a quarter of MPs, there are a sprinkling of cabinet ministers and we’ve had a woman Foreign Secretary and now a female Home Secretary, but these appointments occurred 30 or more years after Margaret Thatcher grasped the leadership of the Conservative  Party, against all the vested interests and misogynistic views of the time. When she became a Member of Parliament in 1959 there were only 25 women MPs, in 1975 when she became Conservative leader there were only 27 and when she became Prime Minister there were only 19. (Stats)

She has been criticised for not promoting women within government, but this hardly a credible attack when you consider there were, in fact, only 8 Conservative women MPs elected in 1979 compared to 331 men!

So her achievement, which we now look back on, was enormous. She was not just fighting the other parties, the establishment and prejudice that she wasn’t up to the job, but she was also unique. Those of us on the left of British politics would, no doubt, prefer that Barbara Castle or Shirley Williams would have become the first woman Prime Minister and that that Prime Minister had shown more feminine qualities in government. Well sorry, we can’t. I never voted for her and partly as a consequence of her my politics were cast long ago in the values of the left.

However, she was the first British female Prime Minister and she was part of the process of our country becoming a more modern nation in accepting the equality of women, and we should respect and possibly even celebrate that.

“Thatcher is Dead!” announces Prime Minister

Margaret Thatcher

Maggie Thatcher's death was almost announced by the Canadian Prime Minister!

It came as quite a shock when this came into my email inbox today, and as you can imagine I clicked to see quite what the story entailed.

The Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, was on the verge of speaking to the nation following the receipt of the following text message from his Transport Minister, John Baird; 

‘Thatcher is Dead!’

Maggie Thatcher it was confirmed, following a swift call to Number 10, was alive and well, but Moggy Thatcher, the Transport Minister’s beloved cat had died. She was named after the transport minister’s political heroine.

The Prime Minister’s staff had drafted a statement and was preparing to speak to the nation when the error was discovered.

Although the announcement was prevented it didn’t prevent it spoiling a 1,700 strong VIP dinner in Toronto that the Prime Minister was attending.

More in The Evening Standard here.

Geert Wilders may be more mainstream than many of the Tories new European allies…

The Conservative Party's new allies represent those people who fought against Soviet Russia, including members of the Latvian Waffen SS

The Conservative Party's new allies represent those people who fought against Soviet Russia, including members of the Latvian Waffen SS

David Cameron’s decision to leave the European People’s Party in the European Parliament is, despite the opprobrium poured upon them, a very sensible decision if the Conservatives want to change public perception of their political direction.

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, leader of the Polish Law and Justice Party, believes, “homosexuals should not be isolated, however they should not be school teachers for example. Active homosexuals surely not, in any case,” [1] and continued, “The affirmation of homosexuality will lead to the downfall of civilization. We can’t agree to it”[2]

If you believe the Daily Mail you might believe this is mainstream but I wonder if David Cameron agrees with Mr Kaczynski’s decision to close down the Office of Government Representative for the Equal Status of Women and Men.

When it comes to the constant discussion of whether, or not, the Latvian ‘For Fatherland and Freedom’ (LNNK) party is born out of former Waffen SS supporters it is a different matter.  Many politicians in Latvia attend commemorations of Latvian soldiers who died in the war and many fought against the Soviet Union.

But instead of accepting the contrary opinions of Labour or Conservative politicians in the UK, or for that matter doctored Wikipedia entries, I like to accept the view of the Nazi-hunters at the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Efraim Zuroff, who you may have seen recently on the BBC series ‘Hunting Nazi Criminals’ Operation Last Chance, recently criticised the LNNK for their obsession in ‘paying public homage to the Latvian-SS Legion in contradiction to all historical logic and sensitivity to Nazi crimes.’

The Conservatives seem not to be aware of the public opposition, and demonstrations, in Latvia,  to the LNNK’s support for the Latvian SS legion.

Geert Wilders is an extreme right-wing politician, to whom I would give no political quarter, who claims Margaret Thatcher is his political role model!

His party’s agenda includes  ideas on small government, improving law and order, and increasing direct democracy. It calls for a €16 billion tax reduction, a far stricter policy toward recreational drug use, investing more in roads and other infrastructure, building nuclear power plants, and including animal rights into the Dutch constitution.These strike me as being right up Mr Cameron’s street, with the exception of supporting animal rights, as I understand he enjoys a spot of fox hunting.

The way in which Mr Wilders represents his opposition, to his perception, of the islamification of the Netherlands, is extremely contentious, and obnoxious, and his appeal is to the extreme right wing of Dutch politics.

Perhaps, based on the extreme views of some of Mr Cameron’s new European Parliamentary group, with the exception of his views on Islam’s influence in Holland, David Cameron could find a new ally in Mr Wilders!

[1]^ http://wiadomosci.wp.pl/kat,1342,wid,7957825,wiadomosc.html?ticaid=1408

[2]^ http://www.thegully.com/essays/gaymundo/051110_poland_election.html

Does Alex Salmond remember the last time “London danced to the SNP’s tune”? : We got Thatcher!

Alex Salmond wants us to beleve that London will dance to the SNP's tune - last time that happened we got Thatcher!

Alex Salmond wants us to beleve that London will dance to the SNP's tune - last time that happened we got Thatcher!

Alex Salmond is a most impressive speaker, if you like someone who tells a tall tale.

He speaks in great rhetoric and extreme hyperbole and if people are taken in by his words we will end up with a Conservative government, by the back door.

Recently BBC Parliament showed a series of programmes about  the 1979 vote of no confidence and the subsequent downfall of the 1979 Labour government, after the ending of the Lib-Lab pact in 1978.

But, Mr Salmond seems to want to ignore that his party, then 11 MPs, voted in favour of the Conservative Party’s motion of no confidence in the full knowledge that Mrs Thatcher and the Tories were opposed to any form of devolution, let alone Scottish independence. 

This led Scotland to be robbed of the chance to vote for greater self-government for the next 20 years.

The SNP showed its short-sightedness, and blind self-interest, in 1979, and condemned Scotland, and the rest of Britain, to 18 years of Conservative government.

Before people fall for Mr Salmond’s rallying call and swallow the line that they could insert the Conservatives in the event of a hung Parliament they should consider three things:

  • The mathematics involved in achieving a hung parliament, in which the SNP would have the capacity to insert either a Labour or a Conservative government, are so remote that they happen once in a century, and people should not depend on this to vote for them.
  • There is the chance that Mr Salmond may be able to prop up a minority Tory government if they fall short, by fewer than half a dozen seats, but what then?
  • Mr Cameron is a product of the British establishment, educated at Eton, Oxford and a member of the Bullingdon Club, a fervent creature of the Union and, if we are to believe the rumours, very keen not to be the last ever Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Cameron will not give the SNP what they want and Alex knows it!