In Your Face

In Your Face
Thought provoking opinions on topical issues.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Lancing The Boil

I am glad to see that the UK Conservative Party has finally plucked up the courage to resolve the question that has been dogging them for some months now. Namely, do they wish Iain Duncan Smith (IDS) to remain in the position of leader?

I noted in an earlier article, entitled “The Only Party In Town” , that the ongoing whispering campaign against IDS was doing considerable damage to the reputation and “life force” of the party. The Conservative Party was in fact in danger of being consigned to the “dustbin of history”.

Finally the Chief Whip has collected 25 letters from Conservative MP’s, asking for a vote of confidence to be called on the subject of IDS leading the party. This will be taken this afternoon (Wednesday 29 October 2003), and the result will be declared in the early evening.

The result will either be an endorsement for his leadership, in which case there will be no more challenges until after the general election; or he will be removed from office, and a new leader selected.

Either way, the end result will mean that the Conservative Party will then be able to focus on the more crucial task of forming a credible opposition; to allay the descent of Britain into a one party state.

David Mellor (an ex member of the Party and ex Cabinet Minister) put it rather succinctly, the vote of confidence will be rather like being sick; unpleasant up until the moment that it happens, but afterwards you feel great.

The “boil”, that was undermining the leadership and destroying the life force of the Party, will have finally been lanced. I am glad that the Party took my advice. The next step is to remove the power of the ageing constituency party membership to have a say in the election of the leader.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Less is More

I understand that Denis MacShane the British Minister for Europe (no, I’ve never heard of him either) has stated, on, that the UK has too few Members of Parliament (MP’s).

He believes that the current malaise that afflicts the British electorate, as reflected by poor voter turnout and increasing cynicism about the effectiveness and honesty of our elected politicians, could be cured; by raising the number of MP’s from the current 1 per 1800 voters to 1 per 300, as in the USA. That would be a six fold increase in the number of MP’s!

This, in my view, is one proposal that should be swiftly consigned to the dustbin of history. An increase in the number of MP’s will have the following consequences:

 The costs of government will rise; more MP’s means more salaries, more accommodation costs, more support services and more government departments.

 Taxes will rise to fund the increase in government costs, ie we the voters will have to pay.

 More MP’s equates to more talk, and less action.

 The larger the machinery of government, the more greedy it becomes to take on more powers to justify its existence; and the more likely it is to interfere in, and over-regulate, peoples’ lives.

 Britain, as a result of an ineffective emasculated opposition party (more intent on its own self destruction), is ruled by the diktat of a Prime Minister who shows utter contempt for the parliamentary process. More MP’s will not change this disgraceful situation.

The malaise of the voters would, as a result of the above, simply increase further; democracy would be further eroded.

In my view, given the inverse relationship between the size of the government machine and its effectiveness; “less is more”.

I therefore propose that we, the voters, press for a reduction in the size of parliament and the machinery of government.

Sunday, October 19, 2003

The Only Party In Town

I must confess to more than a degree of “surprise” and despair (to put it mildly), as to how one of the oldest (in historical terms) political parties in the UK can put so much public effort into consigning itself to the dustbin of history.

The recent party conference, instead of being used to showcase intelligent new policies that would form the skeleton of the future manifesto, degenerated into a well publicised “whispering” campaign about the poor leadership of Iain Duncan Smith (IDS).

This disarray was further compounded by the squalid and nasty “Betsygate” affair, whereby a journalist has submitted a dossier to the parliamentary watchdog about the alleged misuse of public money to pay for IDS’s wife to work for him in the Conservative Party. The allegation being, that she did not work as hard as she should have done to justify the salary she was paid.

Whatever the truth in this particularly personal and unpleasant allegation; it is clear to me, and the electorate, that the Party has lost the will to fight and win a general election. Much like the parrot in the Monty Python sketch, I fear that the Party has “ceased to be”.

I can personally attest to this lack of “life force”. Some months ago I wrote an open letter to Croydon Council (my local authority, Labour controlled); castigating them for the 26% rise in council tax that they imposed upon the hapless residents of Croydon. I posted this to the “Worse Than Worthless” section of my website, and emailed a copy to my local Conservative Association.

I naively assumed that my local Association might be able to use this, in some form or other, to raise public awareness of the council tax issue; and to improve their own standing in the polls. How wrong I was, they did nothing:

 No leaflet drops
 No letters to the local paper
 No evidence of life stirring within the local Conservative Association bunker at all.

They did not even have the courtesy to acknowledge receipt, or thank me for my interest in the Party.

Note to my local Party: “When something is handed to you on a plate, you do at least say thank you!”

Note to the national Party, using the vernacular of the under 60’s; “sorry guys, but what the hell are you doing?

Here, is my prescription for restoring the body of the Party to some form of health:

 Decide now, not tomorrow or next week, as to whether you intend IDS to lead you through the next general election. If you want him to go, then for God’s sake put him and the rest of us out of our misery. If you want him to stay, then unite or die!

 Change the rules for electing the leader, the current situation whereby the constituency parties have a say does not work. The leader has to lead the MP’s, without their respect and loyalty he/she will be isolated and impotent. The constituency parties are a hindrance, not a help, in the selection process.

 Change the rules for selecting parliamentary candidates, at the moment the constituency parties hold the whip hand. This is evidenced by the debacle of the recent selection in Windsor; whereby a man of Malcolm Rifkind’s experience did not even make the short list, because the local party went into a sulk about an interview he gave (see my article “The Sulking Conservatives”).

 For goodness sake try to encourage people under the age of 60 to join the Party. At the moment the demographic skew in the Party is so heavily weighted to the over 60’s, that the “connectivity” between the Party and the real population of the UK is non existent.

 When people try to help you, even if that help cannot be used, at least show them the courtesy of thanking them. You won’t get votes, or members, unless people feel that you listen to them.

In my opinion, until these remedies are effectuated vigorously, and without mercy, Tony Blair’s recent comment will stand; namely:

“The Labour Party is the only party in town”.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Most Demanding Role

I see that the voters of California have recalled Gray Davis (the Governor); and placed the Governorship in the hands of Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Hollywood star famous for a string of tough guy movies (which included the Terminator series).

Mr Schwarzenegger faces quite a number of pressing problems, off the top of my head, the following top the list:

 The fact that Mr Davis (a Democrat) was recalled, as a result of Republican agitation, and then beaten by Mr Schwarzenegger (a Republican) will mean that the Democrats will be champing at the bit to “return the favour”.

 California is on the verge of bankruptcy; Mr Schwarzenegger will need to demonstrate, very quickly, that he can turn this situation around.

 The personal attacks made against Mr Schwarzenegger in relation to his alleged “groping” of women and alleged support for Hitler will, in this age of trial by media, stick to him like mud on a bear’s backside; and be difficult to shake off.

 California allows voters to pass “propositions” which, amongst other things, can determine the allocation of the state’s revenue. In other words, voters can tie the Governor’s hands before he even takes office.

Taking the above points into account, I would say that California is bordering on being ungovernable. Mr Schwarzenegger will need all the resilience and indestructible characteristics of his Terminator character, if he is to succeed in his latest role.