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The UK election has just been announced for May 5th.

I just received this message from Tony Blair:

If you have been keeping up with the news, you may already know that I went to the Palace a few minutes ago to ask the Queen to dissolve Parliament.

More below:

I wanted to get this message out to you straight away about what's at stake at the election and how you can help. This will be a tough campaign and we will have to fight for every seat and every vote.

We're going to need the help of every Labour supporter - to distribute the leaflets, to talk to voters on the doorsteps and get on those phones.

If you've never volunteered to help Labour's campaign before, make this your first time. If you're an old hand, we need you now more than ever.

For what's at stake on May 5 is the future direction of our country - whether it goes forward or back. Labour hasn't, by any means, achieved all we want yet. And you may not agree with every decision I have made. But there's been real progress in communities up and down the land. Our country is fairer, more modern and successful than it was eight years ago.

And May 5 will decide whether we can build on - and accelerate - the progress made in spreading opportunity and prosperity. Or whether the Tories can succeed in taking Britain back to the failed and risky policies of cuts, charges and economic mismanagement.

Over the next five weeks, I will be out and about across the country spelling out that choice. And so will all my colleagues.

I hope to see you on the campaign trail. But if you have a question for me, you can visit the website and let me know.

I can't promise to answer them all. But I'll answer as many as I can throughout the campaign. It's less than five weeks now to polling day. Five weeks in which the future of our country is in our hands.

We have a good story to tell. Let's go out and tell it.

Yours sincerely,

Tony Blair

Let battle commence!

Update: On the subject of European elections: excellent diary by Gilgamesh on Booman Tribune: Post Mortem on Italian Regional Elections

Originally posted to Febble on Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 04:12 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Polls today (4.00)
    Labour's lead has shrunk since January.  At present Labour is at 37%, Tories at 34%, Lib Dems at 21%, and Others at 8%.

    Other news is that Labour activists in Birmingham have been caught in major fraud - stealing postal votes to fake.  And I thought we were clean.

    •  Why aren't people (none)
      leaving Labour for the Liberals in droves?
      •  Ask Marshall ;) (none)
        No really a lot of people here in Britain are disappointed with Labour but don't really have respect for the Liberals.  Very few people in Britain are actually liberals in any Millsian sense of the word.  The Liberals may have opposed the war, but they aren't socialist enough.

        It will be a very interesting election.

        PS If you haven't seen it yet check out EuropeanSurrenderMonkey's primer

        The only international crime is losing a war

        by Luam on Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 04:27:36 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  and new labour is socialist enough?! n/t (none)

          why a duck? I don't know, why a duck?

          by gracchus on Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 04:31:28 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Pagans (none)
          As I said, their autonomy fetish is insulting, like they're too good to be governed by the rest of us. I, personally, would not have introduced house arrest without trial for terrorism suspects. But I WOULD have done so for Liberal Democrats. After all, at least they don't come into your house and boss you around. And frankly I would feel safer without Liberal Democrats out on the street.

          "We must uphold a familiar commerce together in all meekness, gentleness, patience and liberality."

          by Marshall on Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 04:31:49 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Duh (none)
        Because they're smarter than the resignantes who populate this website.

        "We must uphold a familiar commerce together in all meekness, gentleness, patience and liberality."

        by Marshall on Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 04:29:09 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  What is your meaning? (none)
          I would think that an astute Lib Dem party could take advantage of disenchantment with Blair's foreign policy.  Are they totally inept?
          •  Not Inept, Ignored (none)
            The biggest problem the LibDems have with winning is that no-one believes they can win. As such, the country has a tendency to yo-yo between the top two parties (as seen by the mysterious and horrifying ascendence of the Conservatives in the polls), and the Lib Dems have to hope that tactical voting, carefully targetted campaigning, and the fallout from negative campaigning between the other two gets them some seats.

            Of course, this time around, the Lib Dems are looking a little rosier, being 5 points up in the polls from where they usually start an election campaign, and they're usually the party that move up most during the campaign (because it's about the only time they get decent television coverage).

      •  There is one very simple reason (none)
        which is that the Lib Dems can't win.  Otherwise, I think they would.

        Not only that, but Lib Dem votes can let the Tories in.  Lib Dems have a lot of appeal to Labour voters, and although there are Tories who would vote Lib-Dem but never Labour, there are issues on which the Lib Dems are to the left of Labour.

        The irony is that Thatcher, a hard right leader, never got the majority of the popular vote - British PMs rarely if ever have the majority of the populace behind them.  So there is a huge swathe of public opinion to the left of the Tories, split unevenly between Labour and the Lib Dems.  But that split was what landed us with the disaster that was Thatcherism, and I still maintain it was a disaster from which we are still recovering, despite anything Pounder says.

        One of the disasters is that it makes Blair ape Thatcher IMO, and may have been a factor in his decision to go to war in Iraq.  But he is not a Thatcherite domestically in many important ways (though he is on a few).

    •  Big election gain for Tories, new poll shows (none)

      Big election gain for Tories, new poll shows

      As Labour braces itself for what is set to be its toughest election campaign since 1992, the poll by MORI shows the Tories have a five-point lead over Labour among people who say they will definitely vote in 30 days' time.

      The survey of those who describe themselves as "absolutely certain" to vote puts Michael Howard's party on 39 per cent, Labour on 34 per cent, and Charles Kennedy and the Liberal Democrats on 21 per cent.

      The Conservatives' five-point lead is a sharp improvement on MORI's poll on March 24, when the two main parties were neck and neck on 37 points each.

      The survey, conducted at the weekend, shows that 55 per cent of the electorate say they will definitely go to the ballot box. If this result were replicated on election day, MORI says it would result in a hung parliament, with Labour as the biggest party in the Commons having 27 seats more than the Conservatives.

      in the long run, we're all dead (Keynes)

      by Jerome a Paris on Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 04:48:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  What would happen if (none)
        Lets say the Tories had    40% of the seats
                     Labour        35% of the seats
                     Lib Dems      20% of the seats
                     Others         5%

        What would happen do you think could the split lead to the Labour government moving to the left so that them and the Lib-dem and abour could control the government?  Blair might be ousted as leader?

        Funny enough I wonder if a Tory win may be the best thing for the country?  

        •  leader of the party with the most seats (none)
          is generally called on first to see if s/he can form a government. if s/he fails, it's generally the leader of the party with the second-highest number of seats. howard would probably fail, blair would probably cut a deal with the libdems and succeed. chances of kennedy ending up in charge -- pretty much nil.

          why a duck? I don't know, why a duck?

          by gracchus on Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 07:20:48 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Couldn't (none)
            Kennedy pressure Labour Party members to pressure Blair to step aside for Brown before agreeing to any deal.

            Damn it feels good to be a Gangsta

            by EMKennedyLucio on Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 08:12:08 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  LOL (none)
              S'pose that's one possibility.

              Who knows what goes on in the smoke-filled rooms of coalition pacts?

              I think the point is that Labour is itself a coalition.  With a reduced majority Blair will be under enormous pressure from his own party anyway.

              At least that's my hope.

              Labour supporters and Labour MPs did NOT like the war.

    •  I know this is not a very substantive diary (none)
      in itself, but I wanted to get one up there to attract a thread.  If you want to continue the thread, perhaps recommend?
  •  febble, who are you voting for this time? (none)
    i know you're not a blair fan, but are you pissed off to vote libdem? would doing so risk throwing the election to the tories in your constituency? are you a "revolutionary defeatist" who would be willing to see the tories in in order to force of change of leadership in labou?

    why a duck? I don't know, why a duck?

    by gracchus on Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 04:26:42 AM PDT

    •  I'm almost at the limits of my tolerance (4.00)
      I will vote Labour because I have an excellent rebel MP who votes for the things I want and against the things I don't want.

      I am also passionately anti-Tory, and the closer the polls are, the more I am motivated to work for a Labour victory.

      But this fraud thing nearly has me over the edge, the most hideous aspect being that it was focused on Muslim areas, where Labour expects the vote to drop because of opposition to the Iraq war.  Muslims generally vote Labour.

      Guardian article here.

      •  would be interesting if it were a minority (none)
        government and labor had to go into a coalition (formal or informal) with the liberals.

        pace to the anti-libdems on the site, but the liberal democrats actually seem to the left of the rulership cadre of the current labour party, and the party overall seems sounder on civil liberties than labour (us north american left-liberal/social democratic types have always cared a bit more about this, i think)

        why a duck? I don't know, why a duck?

        by gracchus on Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 06:53:29 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  just imagine (none)
    if here in the United States, politicians had four weeks to do real campagning because they only found out about the actual election date a month before.

    One of the hardest things to accept as just is a called third strike - Robert Frost

    by israelfox87 on Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 04:27:13 AM PDT

    •  Not really (none)
      they are really proud of their shortened election season but it is Bullshit.  The parties have all been going about their business preparing for the campaign, putting out Manifestos and selecting candidates for some time now.  They have even been jockeying for position and putting out advertising.

      They know that one is due and when Labour start to behave as if there is an election coming up they all follow.  It is a massive advantage for the incumbent that they can control when the next election is.  Can you imagine if Bush could have scheduled the elections around events instead of scheduling events around the election?

      The only international crime is losing a war

      by Luam on Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 04:31:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Massive Advantage? (none)
        It didn't help the Tories in 1964, or Labour in 1970, or the Tories in 1974.

        Hell, Churchill was voted out in July 1945, in one of the worst electroal disasters in British history.  Granted, he was compelled to call an election because there hadn't been one all during the war, but still you'd think steering your country through the worst crisis in its history would count for something similar to the Khaki Election triumph the Tories won in 1901.

        Our electoral system desperately needs reform, and one of the greatest problems is that it's too damn long.  Shortening the election season would at the very least mean that they don't need so much money to campaign with.  And having a set date for the election didn't present Bush with any problems he didn't overcome by hook or by crook, did it?  And those polls, which will probably shift back in Labour's favor, don't look too promising to Blair right now.  Calling the election at this point could end up being a serious miscalculation.  

        "L'enfer, c'est les autres." - Jean Paul Sartre, Huis Clos

        by JJB on Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 05:47:17 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Also the timing of the election (none)
      is another electioneering tool, one in the hands of the PM.

      Mind you, they often blow it.  

      •  Thank You (none)
        The worst example of that I can recall was 1970.  I think Wilson had one more year before he'd be compelled to call an election, and he scheduled one assuming he'd win a comfortable victory.  Instead, the Tories pulled off a stunning upset and the UK was treated to the Golden Age of Teddy Heath.

        "L'enfer, c'est les autres." - Jean Paul Sartre, Huis Clos

        by JJB on Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 05:50:46 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Balliol Man (none)
          Whatever can be said about Ted Heath, during his pathetic bid to be Chancellor of Oxford in the 1980s (he came in third! An ex-prime-minister!) the Balliol JCR put up a large sign, clearly visible in the entire back quad, that said "Fuck HEATH!" He came through en route to a post-election tea party and said "well at least there's something they agree with Mrs. Thatcher about."

          1979 was pretty bad too, in that Callaghan waited too long. The "Winter of Discontent" was foreseeable in its disastrousness for the party; he should have had the election before it. I think the lesson of 1970 weighed on him.

          And let's remember what really went up in 1970: Enoch Powell won the election for the so-called conservatives with his call to violence in the streets. Kind of like Cornyn come to think of it: "oh yeah, we won't be leading the pogrom, but let me tell you all about this poor old war widow in Wolverhampton who fears for her life in the face of THEM!!!!" (She didn't exist, by the way, a total fabrication.)

          There's an academic at Nuffield who's proved with his Rational Choice Voting theory that Powell's speech won the election for the Tories.

          "We must uphold a familiar commerce together in all meekness, gentleness, patience and liberality."

          by Marshall on Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 05:59:01 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Oh God, Enoch Powell! (none)
            I'd forgotten about him, that racist scumbag.  No surprise he found his home in one of the backways of Orange Ulster, a County Down constituency that I believe is now dependably SDLP (moderate Irish Republican).

            "Like the Roman, I seem to see 'the River Tiber foaming with much blood.'"

            Well, that was a hallucination, dear boy, and psychotropic drugs would have cleared up that problem.

            Or maybe someone spiked his tea with LSD.

            Still, one has to admit he had some audacious schemes that might have benefitted modern society.  Witness his plans for improving London's mass transit problems:

            Enoch Powell: Forgotten before his time, and still dead.

            "L'enfer, c'est les autres." - Jean Paul Sartre, Huis Clos

            by JJB on Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 06:50:30 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Charles Kennedy Message (4.00)
    Got this message from Charles Kennedy in my inbox:

    "More and more people are looking to the Liberal Democrats to provide a real alternative to Labour and the Conservatives. And that's exactly what we're determined to do in this campaign.

    "Britain is in so many ways a fortunate country - and a good country to live in. We have principles of tolerance and social justice.  By international standards we are an affluent society.

    "But we can and must do better.  We're not in the business of talking Britain down. In fact, quite the opposite.  We're going to talk Britain up.

    We are ambitious for Britain.  We want a fairer Britain.  A Britain of real opportunity for young people and of dignity for our older people.  A Britain with quality local public services - good schools and clean hospitals.

    "So the Liberal Democrats will fight this campaign based on real solutions to the real problems people face everyday.  We're going to address people's hopes, not play on their fears.  We're going to be the positive force for good in this general election.

    "Just have we have done in Scotland, the Liberal Democrats would scrap student tuition fees the whole of the UK and provide free personal care for the elderly- help with things like washing or feeding - for people with long term illnesses.

    "We will provide quicker diagnosis for serious health problems and end the 'hidden waiting lists.'

    "We will end the scandal of discrimination against women in our pensions system, giving a £100 more a month to all pensioners over 75.

    "The deeply unfair council tax will be scrapped.  A local income tax based on ability to pay would give a typical household an extra £450 a year and 6 million pensioners would pay no local tax at all.

    "We will cut class sizes in our schools.  We will provide 10,000 more police and keep them out on the streets longer by cutting back on paperwork.  And we are straightforward about what this would cost.

    "First, we would ask the wealthiest 1% of taxpayers to pay that bit more.  Second, we would redirect £5bn of existing government spending by scrapping wasteful Government programmes like compulsory ID cards and cutting back central government departments.  Our costings are based on official figures.  The sums add up.   The balance sheet is balanced.

    "And we've just got to get serious about the environment.  Time is not on our side.  The reality of climate change is with us here and now.  That's why the green agenda is at the heart of all we propose to do.

    "People feel badly let down by Labour.  They're never going to regain the trust of the British people.  Frankly, they don't deserve to.  When you break your promises over tax increases and imposing student top up fees people don't forget.

    "Nor will people forgive the fact that Tony Blair lined up with George Bush and we were misled into the Iraq war.  The Liberal Democrats have been principled and consistent on all these matters during the last parliament.  And we're going to stay principled and consistent throughout this campaign and into the next parliament which I am determined will see us present in much larger numbers.

    "The Conservatives just can't offer credibly the fresh alternative that the country is looking for.  They are a party of the past, not the future.

    "It's time for something different. Liberal Democrats are the real alternative.

    With best wishes
    Charles Kennedy "

    •  Piece o'shit (none)
      Just have we have done in Scotland, the Liberal Democrats would scrap student tuition fees the whole of the UK

      And therein he sacrifices any claim his tosser party has to economic and social justice. Oh sure that's fair: make all the taxpayers pay for the rich to drink themselves silly at Oxford.

      "We must uphold a familiar commerce together in all meekness, gentleness, patience and liberality."

      by Marshall on Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 04:37:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  i suspect university/poly participation (none)
        has now risen to a high enough level that this is a general benefit, rather than one that mainly benefits the wealthy.

        why a duck? I don't know, why a duck?

        by gracchus on Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 04:41:05 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  What? (none)
          No way! 85% of the children of graduates go to university; 5% of the children of non-graduates do.

          And even if that weren't true, think this way: Assume two people earn equal incomes, but one went to university. They each pay 100,000 pounds of income tax over a lifetime. Supposedly, 20,000 of the graduate's bill goes to the university system, which means he's funding the welfare state to the tune of 80,000 whilst the non-graduate takes on 100,000 to fund the same level of welfare services. That's what we economists call 'horizontally inequitable'.

          "We must uphold a familiar commerce together in all meekness, gentleness, patience and liberality."

          by Marshall on Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 04:52:14 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  making it free may improve access/usage (none)
            especially for the children of non-graduates. that's pretty much what has happened in much of continental europe, to my understanding. also, keeping the existing system, which probably doesn't turn out enough graduates and which creates a financial barrier for some, doesn't seem like the progressive option to me, somehow.

            perhaps if free tuition were matched by increased funding to technical/vocational/trade/para-professional training, you'd be happier with the proposal....

            oh, and education is a public good, in addition to a private one. looking at the cost of university purely as a benefit to individuals ignores the general economic and social benefits from having more educated people around.

            why a duck? I don't know, why a duck?

            by gracchus on Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 05:11:59 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Oh Dear (none)
              You take a bad idea and make it worse with the prospect of technical and vocational education. No, I believe everyone should have a university education, and everyone should be well off enough to pay for it by means of a student loan. Where I differ from Labour is that I don't think the loans should be subsidized for everyone; rather, grants should go to the low end of the parental income distribution of university entrants.

              But anyway, subsidized education does not "improve access" or in fact display any of the Liberal Democrat Left's nostrums about higher education. And  the public good nature of higher ed (in the usual sense that term is used, whether government subsidies are worthwhile) is by no means clear to me. As it happens, the undergraduate thesis I'm about to submit is all about how the private good/public good formulation is misapplied to education, but I won't give the whole argument here.

              "We must uphold a familiar commerce together in all meekness, gentleness, patience and liberality."

              by Marshall on Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 05:18:00 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  i actually wrote out a long rejoinder (none)
                about how students loans are  are actually a horribly inefficient way of going about the financing of higher education...but then i realized that i was wandering horribly off topic, as i suspect that the lib-dems' financing plans for higher education aren't going to be a major campaign issue.

                why a duck? I don't know, why a duck?

                by gracchus on Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 05:53:08 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  You got me on that one (none)
            As another American paying to attend Uni here, I have very little sympathy for the middle class students complaining about their tuition fees.  But free education does make some sense so long as they can maintain the quality.

            How many students in America lose out on the quality because their parents cannot or will not pay for their schooling.  Because their parents hold money over them as a form of blackmail.  Each system has its faults which need to be addressed.

            I am not opposed to students graduating with loans so long as they have a reasonable chance of paying them off and maintaining a decent lifestyle and so long as there is an equity of opportunity for people to attend Uni.  I am sure that Oxbridge is much more middle class than most.

            There comes a point in their lives when a young adult needs to be sufficiently independent of their parents that they can make important life decisions on their own.  Parents should not have the leverage to choose their children's University or their children's career path.  The American system gives domineering middle class families that leverage.

            The only international crime is losing a war

            by Luam on Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 05:16:01 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  It pays in the long term. (4.00)
        Make all the taxpayers pay so that it's not just the rich that drink themselves silly at Oxford (and throughout the rest of the country).

        Part of the reason that 85% of graduate's kids go to uni where only 5% of non-grads kids do has to be financial.

        I went to uni 10 years ago. My mum couldn't afford to fund me to more than the tune of a hundred quid every now and then. I paid no tuition (fees weren't introduced until a year or two after I started), and got a (small) maintenance grant. Even with that, I left with a sizable student loan. If that size of that loan would have been doubled (as it would have done with fees and without a grant), I may have thought twice before applying to uni.

        Had I not gone to university, I probably wouldn't be in the professional role that I now am, and would probably be on a lower wage. If this trend was repeated across society, the government's tax income would be reduced.

        For the princely sum of a few thousand quid a year, it seems like a graduate is going to pay the country dividends in the course of his or her working life. It makes sense to me in the long term. Maybe I'm being naive.

        Plus, you have a better educated society, which can only be a good thing.

    •  Poll tax? (none)
      "The deeply unfair council tax will be scrapped.  A local income tax based on ability to pay would give a typical household an extra £450 a year and 6 million pensioners would pay no local tax at all."

      Isn't this "council tax" the Tory poll tax that was introduced to such fury some years back?  If so, in 8 years of overwhelming political dominance Labour did nothing to redress this?

      •  Not quite (none)
        This was the compromise. I don't know much about this subject at all, but the Poll Tax was assessed on everyone, individually, at the same level. The council tax, I BELIEVE, is along the lines of the American property tax assessed on home values. But don't listen to me: University students are exempt from it.

        "We must uphold a familiar commerce together in all meekness, gentleness, patience and liberality."

        by Marshall on Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 04:48:33 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Say what? (none)
          Poll taxes -- head taxes -- are illegal here in the States (as best I understand it).  And the "poll tax" as a tax to be paid when you went to the polls is illegal and under a vast cloud of racist and political odiousness.

          Property taxes aren't for everyone.  They're on the assessed value of real estate (or at least that real estate not held by churches and otherwise tax-exempt organizations).  So only property owners pay them (though, of course, landlords see them as a cost of owning property and seek to pass them along in the rent... in many areas, that's not possible, as rents (for homes) rarely cover the mortgage, much less taxes.  At least not unless you've owned the property for a long, long time.

          Look, any tax scheme can be unfair.  So you have to look at direct effects, indirect effects, purposes and justice.

          Bottom line here: Education is a good thing for the individuals who get it, and for the society they're in (aside from the benefit of their skills, the educated make more money--on average--and thus pay more taxes.  One might see subsidizing education as a way of investing in the future tax base and general well-being of the nation).  Look at the opposite approach; no funding at all, direct or indirect, from the state for education.  Who'll be screwed worst?

          I've never needed a fire department, but I pay taxes that support them, and I'm damned glad of it.

          I'd happily pay taxes to make public education 100% tuition free, the whole way through university.  (Perhaps with a net there to recapture some of it by imposing a pay-back on future income.  Say... whatever you end up making (above the poverty line?), you pay 1% to the state.)

          It doesn't guarantee equity.  But it makes it a hell of a lot easier for the motivated to get an education.  Watching fees rise in California... it's been easy to watch as more and more people who aren't able to find the funds to survive and pay for school start to fall out of the university programs.

          "Too many policemen, no liberty; Too many soldiers, no peace; Too many lawyers, no justice." Lin Yutang (1895-1976)

          by ogre on Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 09:11:34 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  The Tories redressed it. (none)
        The poll tax was introduced to replace "the rates" - local property tax.  "Council tax" was essentially a return to the rates.  Thatcher lost her job essentially because of the poll tax. Michael Heseltine introduced the Council tax, with a new name so that it didn't look like a complete U turn, which it was.

        Although not as progressive as income tax, property tax is more progressive than the poll tax (as it's based on the value of your property, and richer people tend to live in fancier property).  The poll tax was completely regressive, hitting the poor the hardest. With few exceptions, everyone paid the same - a flat tax. It was also bad for democracy, as people disappeared from the electoral roll in order to avoid it.

        Local income tax is completely logical, but for some reason unpopular.  The Lib Dems have rightly hung on to it as part of their platform, but it tends to lose them votes.

        •  Thanks! (none)
          Thanks for the review!  I was familiar with the poll tax that Maggie introduced as an acquaintance of the time was quite the anti-poll tax agitator.  When I saw that plank in the Kennedy letter all I could think was, "could it still be in place?"  
        •  Plus (none)
          It should be added that Thatcher's AIM was to reduce Labour voting; as with the rest of her Economic policies the poll tax was precisely specified to weaken the opposing political coalition. Not just Labour voting, but Labour government as well--throughout her Reign of Terror Labour controlled most councils and council seats. That was where they had power, and she undermined it purposefully by eroding their budgets.

          "We must uphold a familiar commerce together in all meekness, gentleness, patience and liberality."

          by Marshall on Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 05:24:51 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Anybody But Blair (none)
    Simply because of his unbalenced support of Bush policies. A vote against labour is a vote against Bush
    •  A vote against Labour (4.00)
      could be a vote for the party of Thatcher, who bullied Bush senior into the first Iraq war,waged a wholly disproportionate war in the Falklands, who destroyed the UK trades unions, butchered British manufacturing industry, centralised municipal government, presided over record levels of unemployment and nearly destroyed the National Health Service.

      You will perhaps forgive me for wanting to keep her party out of goverment.

      •  So (none)
        Current blunders by the current government should all be covered by past mistakes by a former government? Is there no method that ensures that people in power must answer for their blunders?

        To be clear, because of your dislike for a former Prime Minister the current Prime Minster has a blank check to commit war crimes?

        Ahh Democracy, what a wonderful way to govern. This must be a part of Blair's constitutional right to have neither checks nor balances.


        To often do people vote not for something they believe in but against something they fear

        •  No (none)
          But the present leader of the Tory party is far too like his old boss for comfort.

          If Blair was running for president, I would vote Kennedy for president, and Democratic candidates for Congress.  But we do not have that choice.  We vote for a party from which the government is drawn.

          Why do you suggest we vote for a party whose leader voted for Iraq, who took us into two wars whilst in power and trashed the country, when we could vote for a party whose leader is likely to resign shortly, is extremely unlikely to repeat his mistake (won't have a chance) and whose government has done a lot, if not nearly enough, to undo the damage his predecessors inflicted?

          I'd call that shooting myself in the foot.

          I am not blaming the former government for the current government's mistakes, I am simply judging that the former government's party (based on past performance) is likely to make at least as many next time, given the chance to govern, and that Labour has done some things right.

          •  Fair Enough (none)
            I still think that a system which says that you must either vote for a war criminal or for someone who has aspirations of being a war criminal is broken and unjust at its roots. If their were elections in Hades I suspect you would have similar choices,"You may either vote for Satan or the Devil"

            A minority Labour government may end up being the best scenario because it would send a signal to the Labour government that a change in leadership is necessary to win back the support of the people. Another majority government and you will be voting for the status quo

            •  The leadership will change (none)
              I'd like a reduced working majority - enough to force Blair's resignation sooner rather than later, but big enough to allow a decent successor (I'd be more than happy with Brown) to govern effectively.

              But how do you vote for that?

              •  Tough one (none)
                It wouldn't be easy getting the exact government you want. You would run the risk of losing power completly. Evenso I think it's worth the effort although I doubt a reduced majority would be enough to oust Blair anytime soon (I still think a miniority Labour government is the best likely scenario);

                I haven't seen the numbers broken down but I have a feeling that the risk people would be taking at its worst would be the tories in a minority government.

                I don't see that as a major problem because controversial decisions such as the ones you seem to fear will not get through under a miniority government; under that scenario the Labour party would have enough time to change leadership and would then, with new leadership, most likely take back complete control.

                •  Minority and coalition governments in the UK (none)
                  have a very bad record.  Have a look at Gilgamesh's diary on why Italy abandoned PR (link in this diary).

                  Very easily corrupted.  Major had a very slim majority for most of his tenure, gradually eroded as he lost byelection after byelection.  It would be nice to think minority/slim majority governments would be improved by pressure from the opposition.  In practice they tend to be in thrall to their own backbenchers, who have much more power, and tend to be rabid.  This would be good for Labour in many ways, as backbench Labour MPs on the whole are on the side of the angels.  A minority/slim majority Tory government I suspect would be beholden to some pretty unsavory wingnuts (yes, we have them too).

                  Yes it's tough. I think the many people who think as I do will vote on the basis of their own MPs record.  Luckily mine is excellent, so I don't have a problem.

    •  oh, and the tories (none)
      supported the war in iraq, i believe. so anybody but blair is a particularly insipid thing to say in this instance....

      why a duck? I don't know, why a duck?

      by gracchus on Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 06:29:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  BTW (none)
    What ever happened to Jeremy Thorpe, after his acquittal, I mean.  And is Auberon Waugh's Dog Lover's Party contesting any seats in this election?

    "L'enfer, c'est les autres." - Jean Paul Sartre, Huis Clos

    by JJB on Tue Apr 05, 2005 at 06:19:03 AM PDT

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