Category Archives: Alan Milbourn

Fine Words Butter No Parsnips


Nick Clegg is speaking today.  I began to listen and stopped. More of these inananities will drive me over the edge – about time! – I heard that. We live in an Orwellian age of news-speak. Fine words indeed: but do they have meaning. Here are some words: social justice, fairness, progressive, liberty, green, sustainability. Let’s test them by tryng out there opposites. Anyone out there, and raise your hand,  who thinks the opposite? Who is in favour of injustice, unfairness, reaction, pollution, and unsustainable economic development. No takers? Ladies and Gentlemen, there is no need for me to add anything. We are all on the side of the angels. Thank you for coming.

I confess to you that I am heartily tired of this nonsense-speak. Let’s return to basics. Politics is about policy not protestation; actions speak louder that words, the road to Damacus is paved with good intentions (you see that even I know how to take refuge in a cliche); it takes time to judge whether a policy improves a problem or worsens an outcome; and, for the philosophers among you, not every problem has a solution.’ (Discuss in a coherent passage of not fewer than 500 words, thank you). And to summarise ‘fine words butter no parsnips’.

Let’s take two  big calls. First, is it likely that a slow growing economy with persistently high unemployment, a reduction in the quality of public services  and an attack on welfare benefits will result in more or less social justice? Might it be true that universal benefits  alone can ensure that those who are entitled to expect help receive it? Undermining universal benefits might result in  some claimants  receiving benefits they do not need or are not entitled to be given but to close loopholes at the expense of depriving the deserving would not add to the net sum of social justice, would it?

Secondly, take this statement from Cleggie. The Coalition has ‘restored British civil liberties.’ It is a Liberal delusion that liberty is an absolute. Of course it is not. What does he mean? He means of course,  the abolition of speed cameras, reducing the size of the DNA database, smaller and less effective external defence, ineffective border policing, fewer policemen on the beat, more criminals on the street. Freedom .yes. Let’s check. You are a guy who favours a large measure of personal freedom in your life. Good on you. Are you for or against the following: more fatalities and serious accidents on our roads; lower detection rates for serious crimes, rising crime , inability to defend our country against all the threats to our way of life, and a higher probability of serious terrorist acts in Britain. No, of course you are not. Are you then grateful to the Coalition for bringing  this state of afairs closer to our everyday lives? Speak up at the back. No evidence of this outcome, I exagerate, time alone will tell. Very good, sir. You make my point. Let us judge policy by its outcomes not by its claims. It may take time to know an outcome.  However, should  we not put up the red markers. Watch this space and all that..

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Alan Milbourn, BBC, Big society, Cameron, Civil liberties, Coalition Government, Conservative Home, Deficit, Environment, George Osborne, Green, Guardian, Labour Blogs, Labour Party, Liberal Voice, New Stateman, Politics, Social justice

Shock Labour Protest


I have it on good notice that the media have failed to report a shock Labour protest outside Downing Street on Saturday afternoon, so confirming, for me, the  Labour establishment bias at the BBC, although admittedly not elsewhere. This demonstration was small but determined and the message clear. There were no more than than a couple of  dozen people taking part,  but their  import was dramatic . Slogans, and placards told their  story: ‘Jobs for all ex-Labour ministers’ and ‘We demand to serve.’ Buckets by the roadside collected a fair amount of small coins but demonstration spokesmen refused to reveal how much.

A well-known  former Labour woman leader of distinction, I think her name was Blewett or something like that, voiced the feeling of them all. ‘It is wrong’ it was said, ‘ that Frank and Alan should be given preference over us. Our service to the country has been just as long and  distinguised as their own and many of us are down to our last few thousand. We would not have minded if this selection by the Coalition had been after formal consultation with our group but despite our emails and Twitters to Tory HQ we have been ignored. The Coalition is fond of fine words and they give lip service to consultation. They talk of  building a Big Society tent embracing us all. But they have fallen at the first fence and failed to call us. Their fine words butter no parsnips. Mrs Blewett added,  ‘This is not personal, of course, although it is well-known in the Labour Party that Frank is a nutter and entirely incapable of devising a practical proposal of any kind.’ A Mr Shyers made a similar jibe that as far as he could remember Alan  had been responsible for cleaning services at No.10 and for installing new hatstands. This demonstration did not seem to be supported by bystanders who sbouted jibes such as ‘ Traitors’ and ‘Greed is your only philosophy.’ So showing us that they were out of step with the non-ideological basis of the New Politics.

A Downing Street spokesman issued a short statement. ‘We have sympathy with the protestors but they  must be patient. We have the partiulars of 113 former Labour ministers on file. Some have given us helpful suggestions of the roles they would like to fulfill for the Coalition. It is not possible to employ them all in the short term but we have them all in mind.’

I do not think that statements like this will satisfy the demonstrators. It is likely that we shall have further protests and there is talk among the women of chaining themselves to the Downing Street railings. We shall see.

Leave a comment

Filed under Alan Milbourn, BBC, Big society, Cabinet, Cameron, Coalition Government, Conservative Home, Frandk Field, Labour Blogs, Labour Goverment, Labour Home, Labour leadership, Labour Ministers, Labour Party, Lib Dem blogs, Liberal News, Liberal Vision, Liberal Voice, New Stateman, Nick Clegg, Stepehn Byers