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Monday 9 February 2004

A British Dream [brit]

The last few weeks have effectively destroyed my already tenuous belief that the Labour Party under Blair was capable of achieving great things. Regardless of whether or not you believe the veracity and authority of the Hutton report findings, I can come to no conclusion other than the simple fact that our top levels of government are incompetent self serving faceless suits, led by a man more keen on securing his footnote in history than anything else.
Over the next months we will watch our Intelligence Services tear themselves apart, with every mud slinging and blame laden exchange reported instantly across our burgeoning 24 hour media and tabloids; the net result will be (I predict) that any electioneering profit the Hutton report may have imparted on Number 10's incumbent will be washed away by a brutal tidal wave of public distrust.
To focus briefly on what is now becoming something of a Damocles Sword for the Ministry of Defence, MI6 and Downing Street, the '45 minute' claim has now been comprehensively shredded in terms of it's inferred meaning and those that committed the United Kingdom to a second Iraq conflict are shown to be complete imbeciles; incapable of either providing, or asking for, information which any member of Joe Public asks time and time again - '45 minutes? what does that mean exactly?'.
So I look to the opposition to provide balance, redress, and forward thinking suitable for these difficult times; and am pleased, if not a little dubious (policy is after all only finalised after the soundbites and surveys are tallied) at the Conservative's 'A British Dream'.
You may remember back in blog 551 I drew your attention to the possibility that in Michael Howard, the languishing out of touch 'old boy' Tories may finally find a man capable of presenting the electorate with a real choice come polling day; and it's with no small amount of pleasure that I read today his vision to create A British Dream.
The American Dream (aka 'Rags to Riches') is well known, after all their history is littered with ordinary folk ending up as the very greatest Americans at the top of their game; but as Michael Howard points out - in the USA, whilst the ability to achieve is there, those that do are generally the exception to the rule.
I suppose it's worth pointing out blog 621 by Houmous, regarding the often unpalatable and indeed sometimes uncomfortable notion of patriotism; or rather, the fact he is (like I suspect a lot of people) actually proud to be British. In America, such notions are embraced unashamedly, in fact often to a degree which is cringeworthy and bordering on embarrassing; but in Britain, to declare yourself a patriot, is to declare yourself anything from a xenophobe to a small minded fascist - certainly if the often raving left wing press are concerned.
I feel this is where my tentative support for the Conservatives is starting to come from; in defining such a bold vision as a 'British dream' and yet instill the notion of practical achievable goals (which in fairness, boil down to money and success) we have the possibility that they are moving the idea of openly expressed patriotic feeling into mainstream politics; outside of course the traditional pomp & tedium of state 'celebrations'.
Of course, there is an enormous way to go before press calls and soundbites resolve into anything concrete; but for now, I have to say that Michael Howard has put his best foot forward and let's hope continues to do so.


  1. I too have also considered the Conservatives as being a better natural fit for my political inclinations than the labour party. Yet the problem is the Conservatives refusal to modernize; they are still very much a party aimed at the mentality of the elderly public-schooled Englishman and this is on several points, fundamentally incompatible with my views.
    Let us not forget, they created the rail catastrophy and despite the huge body of evidence, would happily sell the rest of our essential public services given the chance. Oh and Howard recently proclaimed that they would reverse the decision to reclassify Cannibis as a class C drug.
    Now I don't actually like dope (since I was teenager in fact) and my neighbor is a dope head waster, so I'm not advocating that people should suddenly start up smoking. However the reclassification was just a reflection on the reality of the situation. Criminalising such a large preportion of the country to this degree is absolutely insane. The Conservatives don't care about that - anyone that would consider smoking a joint, IE anyone we're likely to know since they're under 50 or so, are fundamentally evil and should be put in prison.
    It's just an example of how out of touch they are.
    Oh and Howard, yes he talks the talk. His leadership 'victory' speech spoke of how he would lead a more positive political party which would agree with the government when it was right to do so and put the needless political sniping aside in favor of a more positive, proactive government. Nice eh? Except the first thing he did was get all over Tony and Cronies about the David Kelly affair. Apologise perhaps, after the Hutton Report? What do you think?

  2. Um, okay. I'm coming at this from a slightly different angle; I'm not British, so the whole 'proud to be British' thing doesn't affect me really, but I do come from a country which is quite big on national pride and as such I understand why British people would want to reclaim that. That being said, I'm not as convinced as you seem to be that it has atrophied entirely; I think a lot of people here ARE proud of their nationality.
    That being said, pride in your country is not the basis for strong government. Solid economic and social policies, transparent administration and a healthy foreign policy outlook are the basis of strong government.
    Regardless of Michael Howards fine words, I don't see those things from the Tory party. He is a good figurehead leader, but the Tories are still a party dominated by a combination of hoary old policymaking relics, and some very worryingly right-wing elements. The shadow of Thatcher still looms, and economically you're still talking about a party that believes even more strongly than Labour does in privatisation of national assets. Labour may have done fuck all to improve our shambolic rail system, for example, but let's not forget who put us in this mess in the first place...
    I think that the Tories will experience an upswing at the next election, but I worry that this is because people are sick of Labour rather than because they really want a Tory government. Britain is dangerously close to being a two-party nation, with only very minor differences between the two in terms of their political outlook - and I think that the example of the USA proves how unhealthy that system is.

  3. Every Tory election campaign I ever saw seemed to be based on 'At least we're not Labour'. It's just a shame that the Lib Dems have such a stupidly inconsistent set of policies - oh and that Kennedy is the concept of cheap politics embodied. I think they've been fingered as such as well, despite subsequently have been proven 'right', in the whole Iraq thing - they're not going to capitalise from that because their stance was clearly based on pandering to public elements without any real justification behind it.

  4. Personally I vote Lib Dem on the basis of the strengths of our local Lib Dem candidate, who I have a lot of time for - especially when compared with the other option in this district, a snotty public school Tory with a double-barrelled name who embodies everything I dislike about the Tory party.
    However, I hear your arguments about the party as a whole, and I acknowledge that they have major problems. That said; I think I'd prefer to vote for the Lib Dems and have them as a strong opposition party, even if I'm concerned over their competence in some areas, than to vote for Labour or the Tories, both of whom have policies and approaches to politics that I disagree with on a very basic and fundamental level.

  5. I know what you're saying. I had the same experience with my local Lib Dem candidate, I think I did a blog about it at some point. I'd vote for them based on my excellent experience with her but for one thing... she hasn't a hope of winning. Enter the concept of the strategic vote, I'm better off voting for the local Tory candidate because they stand at least a snowball's chance in hell at taking out the Evil labour candidate (who was a key champion of the RIP act, lovely).
    Ultimately, nothing changes unless someone else wins. It's no good just having an extra few votes for your favorite fringe party.

  6. Yeah - which is why proportional representation is a Good Thing. In a situation where a third party is marginal, a simple majority system always favours the status quo because people vote strategically in that way; whereas a PR system would allow you to place your first vote for the candidate you actually wanted, and then vote strategically with the rest of your card. It's a system that's much more representative of people's actual political thinking.
    As someone pointed out recently, GW Bush would never have got into office under a PR system, since fuck all people would have voted 1. Nader 2. Bush 3. Gore, which is almost exactly what they ended up doing by voting for Nader directly. Nader's transfers would have gone to Gore, and a candidate that better represented the majority of people would have been elected...

  7. Sorry old chap, but there's only 3 Tory MPs with double barrelled names, out of 165 in the House of Commons; and none in the House of Lords.

  8. Yes but they all want one.

  9. There were more, until our constituency voted out the double-barrelled fucker at the last election in favour of the Lib Dem woman. Hurrah!