Category Archives: Thatcher

Playing the Immigration Card


Today David Cameron will play the immigration card. He will tell a distinguised European audience that multi culturalism in Britain has failed and that Britain must advance a stronger sense of national identity. A literate national audience will reach for references to the most famous poem ever written on the subject: Daniel Foe’s scathing poem The True Born Englishman, published in 1701,  that halted the notion that there was someone who be called a True Born Englishman and that we were all, if you dug deep enough, foreigners. He wrote: ‘From this Amphibious Ill-born Mob began, That Vain ill-natur’d thing, an Englishman. The Customs, Sirnames, Languages and Manners, Of all these Nations are their own Explainers. Whose Relicks are so lasting and so strong. That ha’lefta Shiboleth upon our tongue, By which with easy search you may distinguish Your Roman-Saxon-Danish- Norman English. Or more briefly as I would write, ‘Scratch an Englishman and you will find a foreigner’. ‘I am one and so are you, your neighbour is a little dark, his children of a lighter hue, And in the market place you hear the laughter of a thousand tongues, Of me, and them and you.’ If multiculturism in Britain has failed it has taken two thousand years to do so.

I find David Cameron beguiling. Whatever Nick Clegg might think or say he is in union with A True Born Tory. What do you get if you scratch a True Born Tory? You get a person absolutely convinced of certain social and political values which he regards as inalienable and true. It is a narrow vision of the world. Being an intelligent sort of chap Our Dave  develops evidence to support theses values and naturally he can gather it in. He has certain powers to communicate these values to us. He does so with clarity, energy and certitude. He is heading for the rocks and his crew will watch and cheer as he heads there. They know too that they stand for something vital to our national well-being and survival. They are willing, and even enthusiastic to accompany him.

The truth is that David Cameron is playing the national identity card. Eventually all Tory leaders do this in one form or another. I remember sitting next to Enoch Powell on a plane to Belfast. I studied him carefully and even dared to speak to him. This is a man who advanced the notion that the streets of some of our cities would soon be awash with blood (metaphorically speaking of course). Where is this blood now other than in David Cameron’s imagination. Relationships between people of differet ethnicity have, in my humble opinion, never been better. I like my neighbours I enjoy a rich selection of foods and recipes, I enjoy playing cricket with people from Barbados, and how about a curry this evening.

I have always believed this sort of creature, A True Born Tory,  to be dangerous. David Cameron has embarked on a difficult and potentially disastrous path. Of course he will sound reasonable. Ideas will be advanced which 30 percent of the population readily agree with. Recruitment to the English Defence League and the BNP will rise. The Tory vote will strenghten in the Tory shires. However, someone should tell our Dave that speaking your own mind is a dangerous activity.

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NHS Reform By Threat


To those of us with some knowledge of the founding, funding and growth of the NHS, it is a source of wonder to see the Tory conversion from outright opposition to apparent support. Now, we are told,  it is the Tory ambition to produce an NHS second to none in Europe. And all this by spending less money and sweeping away an unloved bureaucracy. I rely in my continuing disbelief  in a Freudian slip. Yesterday David Cameron told us that a failure to reform the NHS along the lines the Coalition now proposes would make the NHS unaffordable and  the agreed NHS objective of ‘free at the point of need’ would become unsustainable. Where and when have we heard this before? I rely on my readers to tell me. But am I not right to say that we heard in 1948 when the NHS was formed, and  was rammed down our throats my the Blessed Margaret Thatcher in thirteen long years of starving the NHS of capital and finance. Under the Tories we can never afford it.

Is it possible to build a world class NHS without spending more and more money and increasing the proportion of GDP spent on the NHS. I suggest not. The NHS was firmly rooted at the bottom of most EU Health league tables when Margaret bowed out unwillingly from power. It required massive capital and revenue expenditure under Labour administrations to lift it to mid-table performance.

It has always seemed to the Tories that this expenditure was avoidable if the private sector was permitted to play a larger role in health provision. In recent years the private sector has played a significant role but always under the protection of a benificent state. Is there, just possibly is there, a way of surrendering to private interests, saving administrative costs while preserving the mantra of ‘free at the point of sale (sorry, need).’

And the solution, ‘Give the money to GPs’. Or as it was said in the distant days of ITMA and Tommy Handley, ‘Give them the money Barney.’ It never dawned on David Cameron in  all this bravura that perhaps the GPs did not want this money. Nor that any responsible professional health organisations agreed with his proposed reforms. This is not his style. ‘You disagree with me. That’s a pity. But that is not going to stop me pressing ahead. So it may not work out but I believe it will.’ You learn this sort of thing on the playing fields of Eton.

‘Oh well clever dick, what reforms do you support to get this massive and growing health care under control.’  Well, first I believe in evolutionary not radical change in the NHS. I am not against givng GPs control over their budgets where they wish to operate this way or to making compensatory reductions in central bureaucracy. I am in favour of compensatory savings in central bureaucracy if we proceed this way and not at the expense of the necessary protection NHS services enjoy and need. This is the not the Tory way. You do not learn this approach on the playing fields of Eton. ‘What a cissy. Press on lads.’

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Filed under BBC, Cabinet, Cameron, Coalition Government, Economics, George Osborne, Guardian, Labour Blogs, Labour leadership, Lib Dem blogs, Liberal Voice, NHS, Nick Clegg, Politics, Spending Review, Thatcher, Treasury

In Whose Interest?


The members of the CBI meeting on Monday were somewhat insistent and David Cameron somerwhat compliant: a dynamic and prosperous private sector would save us from economic depression and the Coalition would do all in its power to help firms large and small thoughout the country through lower taxes, fewer regualtions flexible manpower practices and targetted Government incentives. Long live free enterprise! Had I heard this before?

Well, good luck to them is my response but not at the expense of my job, my family, my way of life. After all, is it not true that modern democratic and parliamentary Government is about the representation of interest, of all our interests. Consider the leaders of the top fifty leading British  companies who wrote recently to the press in support of the Coalition’s austerity measures. They are international companies who can locate anywhere. They have no intrinsic compulsion to invest in British industry and jobs, Some, perhaps all,  will invest elsewhere if it suits their  balance sheets. Might it be that  these companies actually benefit from unemployment: the availability of more  workers, the lower the wages that might be payable to new recruits. No one pays more than they need. Higher dividends mean richer shareholders. Of course, our pension funds benefit too, I accept, but a host of owners of capital rub their hands at the same time. Our families may suffer but surely not the Captains of industry! If the weight of public consideration is given to the owners of capital, our interests, the interests of the motley, take second best. Is that what we can expect? Is that what we shall get?

The Coalition leaders are often portrayed as non-ideological managers of our interests. Let us place our ideologies in the waste paper basket of history and solve our problems one by one. They can do this apparently. However, it is not clear to everyone that this is what they are about. In the 1980’s Mrs Thatche earned her re-elections on the backs of the unemployed. Around 1982 the economic recovery began but with it came rising unemployment for a further four years to 1986. Is this what we are going to experience now? I don’t know. Boy George doesn’t know either. It does seem to me that the world is a dangerous place. Perhaps we shall avoid a double dip depression but I do not think it is likely that we shall avoid a long period of modest growth (lower than it need be). Who can judge the outcome of foreign currency wars, of a slowing in buoyant BRIC economies, or  the multitude of wrecked family lives. No one will pay us for the long years of personal suffering. They will be years lost. I do not envy fat cats but I do not feel that they should sleep easy in their beds while some of us kip in doorways. How about you? Long live Parliamentary democracy. Two cheers for our interests!

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Filed under BBC, Cabinet, Cameron, CBI, Coalition Government, Conservative Home, Deficit, Housing Benefit, IFS, Labour Blogs, Lib Dem blogs, Liberal Voice, New Stateman, OBR, Parliament, Politics, Spending Review, Thatcher, Treasury, Unemployment, Vince Cable

A Bad Case of TNA


The Coalition is desperate to get us to believe in an acronym. It suffers from a bad case of TNA- There is No Alternative to the cuts announced in Chancellor George Osborne’s Government Spending Review. To this is added a myth: the British economy under Labour had reached meltdown  with an imminent threat of a Greek style collapse , a run on the pound and rising interest and bond rates. Nick Clegg told Radio 4 listeners of Desert Island Discs that he had searched his conscience about the cuts and had concluded there were ‘no pain free alternatives’. Unfortunately for Nick Clegg, his timing was poor. Almost at the same time a British Nobel Prize winner of Economics, Professor Pissarites said the the Government was taking ‘unnecessary risks’ with the economy and that the risks of a crisis in bond rates were minimal.

Consider the use of terms. Philosophically, the chances that there is no alternative to any decision is highly dubious. In most instances there are alternatives as in this instance. Clegg does not deny there are alternatives but he insists they are ‘not pain free’. Note that Clegg does not deny alternatives but states they are not pain free. We might think that if this is so what course of action would cause us least pain. This type of analysis, a choice between disagreeable alternatives and an issue of judgement,  we might be able to accept. Not TNA but a choice between difficult choices. Now you are talking. You admit that there are difficult choices, you might accept that the risk of the collapse of the British economy is minimal and that you together with George Osborne have opted for one of them. 

There is something of Uriah Heep in Nick Clegg. He is at pains to tell us that he searched his conscience. This statement differentiates him from others who might be thought not to have a conscience. He may have searched it but one is bound to remind him that he found it wanting on this occasion – it let him down!

It is the philosophy of the Right in politics that it is in favour of small government, the diffusion of power from the centre, low taxes and the denial of the enabling powers of the state. Perhaps on this occasion Clegg found his conscience wanting because at heart his soul belongs to a Right wing Tory philosophy. Indeed it a fit of honesty a few days ago he admitted it. If this is so it would not be insulting to the intelligence to admit that you cannot put a cigarette papoer between the politics of David Cameron and Nick Clegg. I am inclined to argue, being somwehat sceptical in outlook, that he will at some time join the Cons taking some power greedy Lib Dem members of the Government with him and splitting the Lib Dems. We could write the speech he might make at an e4mergency meeting of the Lib Dem Parliamentary Party.

This speech will begin with the words, ‘As you know I am a Lib Dem supporter to my very core (he shows his membership card). I am bound to conclude that there is no TNA. I have searched my conscience and found that, as I suspected, there is no TNA. Applause, a few mutters and stewards standing by the emergency doors.

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Filed under Alan Budd, BBC, Coalition Government, Conservative Home, David Smith, George Osborne, IFS, Labour Blogs, Lib Dem blogs, Lib Dem MPs, Liberal Voice, New Stateman, Nick Clegg, Politics, Spending Review, Thatcher

Outsourcing the Future.


This is a missive from sunny Cornwall (Well this is an overstatement. As I look out of the window. I can see it is about to rain. Hey ho, said Rolly and all that.) This is an age of outsourcing. It is no longer necessary for employers to give people permanent contracts, plum pensions and other employment rights?  That is much too expensive for us all. Answer: employ agency staff, limit future obligations, lower wage costs, bring down prices, sell more. You know it is the smart thing to do! Why limit these benefits to the private sector? In the Big Society we can extend them all, every single one of these  benefits to public servants! Yes, servants that is how we think of them. They are there to serve you – me too of course. I have a number of my own. Come to think of it there are cuts to be made made there. Get costs down, that’s the message. (I should get a picute of an ancient woman leaving my place with an old suitcase’.  Just think of the cuts (I prefer to think benefits) we can make in the public service . You know it makes sense!

Smart changes like this are  always resisted. Just think of the difficulties Margaret Thatcher had to face. All those phony demonstrations for the chance to work, lower mortgage costs, opposition to the Poll Tax etc.etc. You know what I mean! The poor woman had to arrange for a war in the Falklands to win them round. (Good thought that, I should capture it in my notebook. A national day of rejoicing at our victory. We Brits love that sort of thing.)

I must not digress. This is  important. Here are some questions. Do you wish all those wheel chair johnnies to get into employment, quieter Council estates because everyone is working, good schools for  responsible children in fee paying schools? Of course you do. Do you want everyone employed at pay rates the nation can afford? Lower costs and taxes? Of course you do? You know it makes sense?

Well the Coalition with the support of the Lib Dems will give you all these things. We cannot pretend that the transition to our low cost, responsible, Big Society, where you are in control,  can be achieved without some pain and opposition. There are always some people who will not go along with the majority. Please do not be put off by demonstrations, strikes and riots from doing the right thing. We are all in this together and without your support, it will not happen. As someone said ( I really must identify the sourc of this quote), ‘In your heart you know I’m right.’ Come to think about it I might drop this. certainly at a ‘public’ meeting. Some smart Alec might say. ‘Good advice from the heartless.’ You have to think about this you know. The world is full of smart Alec’s, believe me.

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Con Perestroika!


I am informed, reliably or not, that the Con leadership held an emergency session in Padstow early this evening without the presence of George Osborne who was busy speechifying in London. This is what our Dave is alleged to have said.

I have become concerned over recent days that the concept of the Big Society has become difficult to sell to the electorate. It has been suggested that I think of a rebranding, not abandoning the idea you know,  but giving it a new dimension. Cleggie, who is fertile in these marketing matters, has suggested what I think to be a powerful  new dimension which could be added to our message. As you know, he is hot on historical  matters and, in particular,  modern Russian history. He has suggested that we use a new slogan, that we should rename our message – wait for it and don’t smirk at the back- the British Perestroika. He is quite right on the similarities: the old Communist brand of socialism had come to an end in 1989, the people wished to cast aside  the centrally directed and collective dictatorship of an overbearing state, there was a need to end corrupt government and reform the electoral system, there were popular demands to  end  a ruinouus Afghan war, the economy had collapsed, inflation was out of control,  whole areas and regions of the State sought independance from Moscow . Ring any bells. Oh yes, and the maintenance of a large army, an independent nuclear arsenal of weapons,  and attempts to boss large parts of the world needed to be abandoned.  (By the way before I forget it I have suggested that Liam think twice before sacking any Generals, Air Marshals and Admirals at the moment. We don’t wish to encourage military unrest at this time, if you get my drift.I have always loved boats.)  And remember, Perestroika, the demand to reorganise a whole political system, did succeed in the end. Admittedly after a period of confusion and abject poverty but as George was saying today in a few years time we shall all feel better about these regretable hardships. As Margaret was apt to say this misery is a price worth paying.

I’m sorry I did not quite hear you. Yes, that distinguished looking person with the moustache, on my right. Wall, you say, we don’t have a Berlin wall to pull down. Good observation. I get reports, for all I know you get them too, that our party position has become desperate in Scotland. I have been told that we are likely to be wiped out entirely in the Scottish Assembly elections next May. It would of course, be a disaster for the Union. We do have a wall. It isn’t necessary to invent one. Hadrians Wall. We could pull it down as a gesture to the Scots. No more Imperial British power or painful memories  of past hostilities. We, the Brits and the Scots are in this together as friends and allies. We wish you to share our misery and our hopes for a better future. We are all in this together.

(The meeting broke up in confusion).

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Thatcherism with Knobs On


If you wish as a politician to tell an untruth about a matter of significance and import choose a subject about which most  people are ignorant. Even better choose one where the ignorant deceive themselves into believing they are experts and have short memories. How about the management of the economy?

Here is a statement by Nick Clegg: cutting the budget deficit [in the way the and at the speed the Coalition propose] is necessary to grow the economy. Now hold on, Cleggie. Cutting as proposed will reduce growth and  increase unemployment. Do you mean that in three to four years time the economy will  start to grow again from a lower base? You do, don’t you. And would we have lost more than we could ever regain? Well. I don’t know. What I do know is that unless we cut the deficit growth will be constrained in the future. I don’t understand you. There is no political disagreement  about the need to cut the deficit. What is at issue is how fast we do it and what we cut, isn’t that so?

And another matter. Boy George and Dave go around the world telling other countries to cut their deficits boldly so shrinking their economies and  our exports. Why don’t they shut up? Don’t be rude. Stay constructive, please.

It is difficult to be nice when all around you…so to speak. Why don’t you confess. The Lib Dems, somewhere on the road to Brighton, have had a conversion to Thatcherism. ‘Unemployment is a price worth paying!’ and all that. That’s unfair. We are committed to fairness : increases in tax credits, higher benefits at the lower end of the income scale, and so on.  And we have proposed special measures to help the disadvantaged in schools. Surely, that is not Thatcherism.

Well, if I may say so Cleggie, that is a typical Lib Dem evasion. If the budget measures are considered in the round the poor are worse off: higher unemployment, the plight of single mothers forced to stay at home in the school holidays because they are denied nursery and play facilities, increases in VAT. The poor will become poorer.

This argument is becoming tendentious. The truth is that Labour left us with a huge budget deficit and it has to be cut. No amount of wriggling can avoid it and any programme to do this will be painful. I am not ashamed to say so and neither should you or any bunch of irresponsible Labour politicians – or their journalistic friends and place-seekers. There. there. Who is  becoming ratty now Cleggie. What is going to give: reducing the size of the state, replacing professional public services by volunteers, defending the nation abroad, reducing crime at home, building a fairer society – getting re-elected. Perm any one from seven. The Lib Dems should be good at this game they have had a lot of practice.

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