Sunday, October 10, 2010

Child Benefit Fiasco

The extraordinary thing about the child benefit fiasco is that it appears to be so ill thought-out. It seems clear it wasn't discussed in Cabinet (It would be interesting to know if Nick Clegg knew in advance. Did Cameron and Osborne inform their coalition partner?). It seems that as the fiasco unfolded Cameron "wobbled" but that Osborne (who sees this a a clever political wheeeze ahead of October 20, allowing him to say that higher earners were hit first) took a hard line. Together with the Coulson affair - it is simply incredible that Coulson didn't know about the phone tapping (incredible as in "not credible") - it begins to look as if Cameron is becoming less sure-footed. Or could it be that for the first time the media is beginning to scrutinise the Tories (they had such an easy ride in Opposition)? Meanwhile Ed Miliband has made a good decision (which surprised me) in choosing Alan Johnson as Shadow Chancellor. (Johnson is a bit too much of a Blairite for me, but he is a fully-paid up human). It is probably also a good decision to stick with the Darling plan for deficit reduction rather than Balls alternative (although to be frank I'm not sure anyone - even, or perhaps especially, the professional economists - really knows how deep and how quick the deficit should be cut).

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

David would have been better than Ed

Politaholic thinks it would have been better if David Miliband had won the leadership election rather than Ed. There are several reasons for this. First, the "Red Ed" tag will not go away (Odd how such a trivial fact such as "Ed" rhyming with "Red" can have political significance. The Tory press will not let it go: "Red Ed", "Reds under Ed's bed", "Ed the Red", and so on). Second, Ed won with the support of the union vote (of course, this is no longer a block vote); both the MP's/MEP's and the constituency section did not have Ed as first choice. Again, to the Tory press this is a gift. He is already being portrayed as a creature of the unions. Third, Ed's victory sems to have exacerbated the factional divisions within the party (the Blairites are furious) - and I suspect trouble lies ahead. Fourth, despite the factional rivalry, I can can see no great ideological difference between David and Ed. Some have hailed Ed's victory as the triumph of a revived progressive social democracy over Blairite neo-liberalism. I am not convinced. Ed tilted to the left to win the leadership, now I suspect he will tilt to the right to try to shake off the "Red Ed" tag. In any case, what do his left credentials amount to? He now thinks the Iraq War was a mistake. It is unclear what he thought at the time (his "get out of jail card" is that he was not in Parliament at the time) but he is against it now. Now, that is, that it is over. As for the war still going on - in Afghanistan - he is gung-ho about that. What else? He thinks the 90 day detention proposal was wrong. He didn't mention the 42 days. But as an MP he voted for both the 90 days and the 42 days. He is Green - but voted as an MP for the extension to Heathrow Airport (and tried to persuade Chris Mullin to do so also, as recorded in Mullin's Diaries). Obviously he has had a change of heart. In time for the Leadership election. Again, he is in facvour of trade unions but against "irresponsible" strike action - which is so vague as to be worthless. He favours a Graduate Tax (obviously an overture to the Lib-Dems). He wants to keep the 50p tax rate (the Tories have no immediate plans to do away with it). And so on, and so on... The gullibility of what passes for Labour's left is staggering. "Won't be fooled again?". Not a bit of it. Fooled every time. Repeatedly. Monotonously.

I am also unimpressed by the "Talking About My generation" rap. First, what does it say to older people (to old farts like me)? Fuck off and die? (Or, perhaps: "Why don't you just F-f-fade away? And don't try to dig what we all say?"). Second, Ed - for goodness sake - is over 40. Is it altogether seemly for someone in their forties to prattle on about how young they are? When I turned 40 I thought life was over!! Third, "getting down with the kids" never works for politicians. Shades of William Hague's baseball cap.

I am also unimpressed by his riff about the hardships his parents endured long before he was born. I don't want to minimise these hardships but they were endured by his parents not by him. So far as life's lottery is concerned, he's been pretty lucky (he is not to blame for that, of course, but that is the fact of the matter).

How will it all work out? Who knows? It depends, I think, on how deep the cuts go, how protracted they are, who they hurt most, what the reaction is, whether there are strikes (or riots), and how voters react to cuts, or to strikes. "It's the economy, stupid" as the Clinton campaign said.

Finally, where did this idea that Ed is "inspirational" come from? About as inspirational as a wet lettuce.