Archive

Tag Archives: expenses

The real victories of last night’s by-elections belonged to UKIP. But what might this signal and how will  Mr Cameron, Mr Miliband and Mr Clegg translate the messages?

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

 – ‘The Second Coming,’ W.B. Yeats

After last night’s by-elections, the only party that has cause to celebrate is UKIP. Coming second place in both Rotherham and Middlesbrough, and third in Croydon, is no small achievement for a party that has worked tirelessly along the tributaries of British politics into the mainstream in only a matter of years.

That Labour won in all three seats is no surprise, but as Daniel Hannan has remarked with regards to Rotherham in particuar, ‘I don’t want to hear any Rotherham Labour voters moaning about the arrogance of the political class’, since it was under the governance of that party that Denis MacShane resigned after criminally obtaining public money by deceit, and it was also the party that saw inactivity over child grooming cases and the removal of foster children from UKIP-voting parents [1]. Tribal voting is the stuff of primitive thinking, so of the 9,866 voters in Rotherham who voted Labour, it is probably fair to claim that some did so with only half their wits.

It is also no surprise that the Conservatives should made no progress in these areas. That the Liberal Democrats lost their deposits in Rotherham and Croydon proves beyond doubt that they are the party of insignificance and that they can no longer be used to amplify the voices of discontented voters. Expect them to be annihilated at the next General Election.

What of this? In a previous article, this blog suggested that UKIP’s ascent in Corby was not the result of a mid-term blues protest suggested by the Conservatives, it was the result of long-term disenchantment with useless politicians and their discredited parties. UKIP’s showing in Rotherham and elsewhere would seem to underscore this notion.

Mr Miliband need not break the habit of his leadership; he need do nothing, nor come up with credible policies – the coalition are perfectly adept at blustering incoherence and unravelling without the aid of parliament’s odious Chief Scout. Heaven help the UK when Prime Minister Miliband has to actually make the ‘tough decisions’ he bleats on about. Yet what the Rotherham vote has shown is that UKIP are not just a party of and for the right, they are increasingly a party of and for all political colours. If they can succeed in Labour ‘safe’ seats at the same level as they have in Rotherham, Corby and Middlesbrough, then Mr Miliband may actually have to call an inquiry into thinking about the direction in which he is heading.

And what of Mr Cameron? He is the best publicist of his own stupidity. He continues to alienate the sort of Conservative voters his party has haemorrhaged to UKIP under his leadership, not only because of his dogged determination to make social democrats out of the Tories, but also by refusing to  retract his typically immature remarks that UKIP members are mostly ‘closet racists’. The truth is that ‘centre ground’ politics is not only unpopular, it is inherently damaging to democracy. Yet it is clear that Mr Cameron is just a less uncomfortable looking version of the unhinged Gordon Brown: he is intractably stubborn, to the extent that an easy victory in the 2015 General Election will not be his for the taking. He will sooner listen to the likes of Matthew D’Ancona, who wrote in a wildly inaccurate and faintly bizarre recent article:

…the very worst thing Cameron could do now is to rip up his centre-ground strategy and hurtle off to the Right in search of these voters. Not many of them would come back. And many more centrist waverers would be lost in the process. [2]

Though this is precisely what Mr Cameron would want to hear – and certainly the only advice he is likely to listen to – it is at the cost of his own party and democracy. So Mr Cameron’s likeness to Mr Brown is evidenced once again: when a person (let alone a politician) cannot be seen to fight for their own survival, then it rings as defective. By heading off in the right direction, Mr Cameron could outflank UKIP’s ever growing number and bring under his wing the working class vote that UKIP appeals to: immigration, crime, withdrawal from the EU. Since the moribund Lib Dems have had their life support terminated, what consideration need Mr Cameron give to them? Yet he persists in targeting none of these matters, which appeal to all voters. The consequence is a further disenfranchised electorate and the collapse of his vote. As Yeats wrote:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

UKIP may yet have to win parliamentary seats, but it signals the direction in which any successful party or thinking person should be heading: a politics of consent, of decisiveness, of the nation state. Under their current leaders, Labour, the Lib Dems and the Conservatives are interested in ideology, not practicality. Ideology is cheap and easy, since it exists in the mind. Practicality and workable policies are much more credible victories, but intellectually beyond the reach of those on parliament’s front benches today.

© thepanopticonblog, 2012

Notes

More from The Panopticon:

You may also like:

Advertisements

Some notes on matters that have arisen over the last week

Europhile Denis MacShane is a criminal – no, I am sorry, he’s not a criminal – he made a ‘mistake’ and because of some technicality cannot be prosecuted for defrauding the taxpayer with their own money and using it to further his own political and financial ends.

Mr MacShane attempted to blame the BNP and other members of the political right for his actions, doing nothing to disprove that those on the left are incapable of applying personal responsibility for their actions. Indeed, in an effort to make it sound like he was doing the taxpayer a favour, he alluded to his efforts to tackle anti-Semitism – did he hope this would somehow justify his criminality to an already squeezed taxpayer?

One thing is for certain – as both a Europhile and a criminal, Mr MacShane is perfectly qualified to obtain a position on the European Commission.

*

I cannot have been the only one nauseated by the expressions of uninhibited delight that greeted Mr Obama’s re-election as US President, especially in the UK. The suspension of critical faculties was total, so in awe of the image of Mr Obama were those expressing adulation. No one seemed to mention the way in which Mr Obama is saddling future generations of Americans (and, let’s face it, the world) with trillions of dollars in debt, nor was his flaky attitude towards the Middle East situation probed with any purpose.

So star-struck were the Media Politburo of the Labour Party (the BBC), that they interviewed an actor who had played the part of a communications director, who worked for a fictional president, during an imagined Democratic presidency. Could his opinions be any less important? I hope that on matters of national security they will consult Daniel Craig, or else on matters of scientific revelation, they will grill Dr Who.

*

Every time there is a crisis at the BBC, commentators tend to remark that this blighted corporation needs to regain the trust of the British public, as if it were a long-term relationship were suddenly imperilled by indiscretion. But does any thinking person ever really trust  the BBC any more than any other company or media outlet? To do so would seem rather incautious, but I dare say there are those so slavishly devoted to the idiot box that nothing short of relationship counselling will help reconfigure their dependency.

*

There is a backlog of immigration cases in the UK equivalent to the population of Iceland – this blog has said more than once that if this was any other department, heads would role. But why don’t  they? Because the main political parties a) do not care and b) because, as Theresa May alluded to today, despite temporary curbs imposed on immigration from the EU in 2005 to protect the British labour market, these are set to expire and that it is not possible under EU law to extend them.

Miss May also suggested that the government was on target to cut immigration into the UK from people outside of the EU as a way of deflecting the point that it is largely people from within the EU, flooding the labour market and seeking benefits who are the most prominent strain on the country’s already overstretched resources.

*

I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here! – a celebrity reality TV show – a televised equivalent of the stocks returns soon enough to offer vital life support to the ever swelling legions of the UK’s brain-dead populace. One does not even need close analysis of the title of this sub-genre to realise that neither celebrities nor reality are constituent ingredients in this soup of human indignity.

That Conservative MP Nadine Dorries has decided to participate in this year’s series of the programme has caused her to be suspended by her party. This is not an unreasonable course of action from the Conservatives, especially since she will continue to be paid her salary whilst being absent from her constituency and from parliament – rather like that moulding potato Gordon Brown.

Ms Dorries’ has claimed that with an audience of some 16 million viewers (what did I say about ‘the ever swelling legions of the UK’s brain-dead populace’?), she will be able to profile who she is and what she stands for to an audience who are probably generally concerned with neither. Of course, one can hardly imagine a better place for Ms Dorries to champion her campaign to lower the point during a pregnancy at which an abortion can be performed than from a jungle in Australia.

Speculation has arise over whether or not she will defect to UKIP, especially since she is to the right of the Conservatives and a welcome stone in Mr Cameron’s flip-flopping shoes. Some seem excited about this prospect, but one may also be inclined to think that a discredited Ms Dorries could undermine UKIP’s efforts to make its outfit more professional and a part of the celeb-chasing culture that characterized the New Labour years.

© thepanopticonblog, 2012

Like Alice, many will have had to believe the impossible before breakfast when it was announced that Mr Miliband might be conceding that Labour’s policy of open door immigration was a mistake and that their efforts to stifle discussion on the subject, by casting it as racist or xenophobic, was in error. But they can only offer an apology on immigration if they realise why emigration to the UK was so attractive an offer.

Mr Miliband’s apology for Labour’s dismal track record on immigration and for cultivating fear and paranoia when it came to speaking about this subject comes as  a welcome admission, at least superficially. Indeed, superficially, Mr Miliband presents himself an earnest and listening politician who prefers straight talking to rhetoric and consideration before action. The trouble is that this is just it: superficiality is all Mr Miliband is capable of (see my earlier post ‘Ed Miliband: Comprehensively Without Substance‘).

It is in the spirit of superficiality that Mr Miliband suggests he will implement the following policies if his party were to get into power: transitional controls on migration from new EU member countries; a crackdown on recruitment agencies that advertise solely for immigrant workers; an early warning system if some companies are employing a disproportionate number of foreign workers and heavier fines for employers paying beneath the minimum wage.

An ‘early warning system’? Will this take the form of flashing lights and a klaxon sounding in Whitehall? [1] No, that would be far too useful. Mr Miliband may be penitent, but whilst he looks to the past (which it is easy to apologise for), his policies offer no credible plans for the future. True to form, his speech was laced with emotion and soft pedalling, not substance. There are no absolutes, no guarantees, and there is no direction. And, please, let us remember, that whilst the UK is signed up to the EU, it has almost no say on who can or cannot stay in the UK.

One of Mr Miliband’s gurning lieutenants, the shadow immigration minister Chris Bryant (who claimed over £92,000 in expenses over the five years leading up to the 2009 expenses scandal. He flipped his second-home expenses twice, claimed mortgage interest expenses that started at £7,800 per year before rising (after flipping) to £12,000 per year. He also claimed £6,400 in stamp duty and other fees on his most recent purchase, and £6,000 per year in service charges [2]), stated that ‘too many people came [into the UK] when we were in power’ [3]. He suggested, also, that the argument about immigration is bound up with other issues, some of which are worth considering:

  • Labour’s acceleration of a dependency culture and their engorgement of the permissive society has created a generation of feckless, selfish slackers, an underclass of ‘can’t work, won’t work’ benefits addicts who, financially or otherwise, offer the impression that they are somehow owed by the society that has furnished them hitherto. When they are afforded the opportunity to work, they suggest it is beneath their dignity. It is no wonder, then, that immigrants are willing to take the jobs cast off by these layabouts.
  • Similarly, were it not that New Labour had abandoned the working class and their vote and tried to substitute them with an immigrant alternative, there might have been a chance to engage and employ the disaffected. It is usually this underclass who are among the first to complain that there are no jobs for them, that vacant positions are occupied by foreigners – yet business after business, employer after employer seems to suggest the same thing: that immigrant workers are just that: workers, doing jobs they may not like or care for, but know the importance of earning money and the value of work.

Labour did not just open the UK’s borders, they created a situation which would obviously attract the poor or dispossessed from other countries, by almost completely removing the incentive for people on low incomes in the UK to work. The culture of dependency is one issue that is bound up with the question of immigration. This blog cannot adequately express nor comprehend the nexus that is the destructive legacy of Labour. Next to the space shuttle or the Large Hadron Collider, the most complicated machines ever built, Labour stands tall as social engineers of nobel-prize winning incompetence.

Even then, the remarks made above miss the point. Mr Miliband may have apologised for errors past and he may be suggesting future Labour policy will be more robust, but there has been no effort to understand immigration. How is he going to patch up the social fabric that his party destroyed? How can he talk about defending jobs for low paid, unskilled UK workers when, by the same token, he opposes almost every cut in state benefits? How can he talk about limiting immigration when he is signed up to the EU?

Questions such as these reveal what is hidden in plain sight. Mr Miliband has no intention of bringing immigration down to sensible levels any more than he intends to undo the socially destructive policies his party enacted. There will be absolutely no change. With his rhetoric, he simply aims to split the Tory vote. Regrettably, given the ConDems pathetic efforts, he cannot lose. Disaffected Tories will go to UKIP [4] and he will steal those to the left of the Tory party (people not unlike David Cameron) for himself. We are through the looking-glass – the Conservatives have become Labour, whilst Labour affects the posture of Conservatism.

© thepanopticonblog, 2012

Notes


The most irritating man in politics? To put it mildly. Ed Balls is disliked by colleagues, the opposition and the general public. To be held in such contempt, he must be making an effort to increase his unpopularity. 

‘The purest treasure mortal times afford is reputation’ wrote Shakespeare. Shadow Chancellor, champagne socialist Ed Balls, is not a politician whose reputation divides opinion. Quite unanimously, he is regarded with derision and contempt. This matter of fact has not gone unnoticed by Mr Balls himself (which is quite refreshing among all the other denials about reality that he and his colleagues are prone to) after he commissioned a survey to find out why he and his policies have failed to elicit much support even when the coalition’s malfunctioning economic policy continues to unravel. According to the Daily Mail, ‘results found that Mr Balls is still seen as a turn-off by many, both politically and personally’. [1]

In opposition, Labour’s response to the economic situation remains erratic. They seem to suggest that a levy on bankers will fund millions of pounds worth of projects that will kick-start the economy; they suggest that borrowing more money will give the economy the stimulus it needs; they say that if they win the next election they are unlikely to undo the cuts they have objected to in opposition. The bizarre policy of not making promises now that they may not be able to keep in government does not look like sincere honest politics – it looks like what it is – they have not a clue how to respond unless it is through opportunism. Not wishing to detract from the herculean efforts of Mr Miliband, this is Mr Balls’s speciality.

And let us not forget for one moment – the reason for our dire financial circumstances is a direct consequence of Labour’s economic mismanagement. Yes, the coalition is not making things better, but Labour were at the root of it. That Mr Balls was Gordon Brown’s closest political advisor and economic treasurer to the secretary during the immediate financial crisis makes him as culpable as his then boss in presiding so woefully over the situation.   He is both guilty and guilty by association.

For Mr Balls, financial mismanagement of the taxpayer’s money is something that comes naturally to him. He and his wife Yvette Cooper have been referred to the parliamentary standards watchdog over £14,000 of expenses made in relation to their children. In 2009 it was revealed that he and his wife had ‘flipped’ the designation of their second home to three different properties within the space of two years. In addition, the cost of hiring removal vans and men, which came in at £2,000, was charged to the tax payer via the parliamentary expenses. [2] According to The Telegraph, ‘In June 2008, Mr Balls and Miss Cooper were referred to the parliamentary sleaze watchdog over the designation of their second home, amid suggestions that it was improper for them to claim on the family house in London, where they lived during the week.’ [3] Though they were exonerated of wrong-doing, Mr Balls (and indeed his wife) are mired in the sort of sleaze that sticks.

These ‘mistakes’ he has made concerning public money should be enough scuttle his credibility, but he is damaged goods for other reasons. Whatever his denials, the public see him as implicated in the plot to unseat then PM Tony Blair – the so-called ‘Project Volvo’. [4] Mr Blair may not be held in high regard or with much affection by the electorate, but they detest the likes of Mr Balls for indulging in such ambitious, reckless and self-serving conspiracies when there are very important and very real issues to be dealt with.

Even if Mr Balls has not knowingly committed fraud or swindled the expenses system using the taxpayer’s money, even if he was not involved in conspiracies to unseat a sitting PM and replace him with an unhinged despot like Gordon Brown, Mr Balls always seems to be in the wrong place at the wrong time when these matters occur. If he is not guilty then he is incompetent; if he is not incompetent he is guilty.

The grovelling Mr Balls may yet be chancellor, not because the public vote Labour, but because the do not want the present government, or because they have voted elsewhere. Mr Balls will no doubt colour such a victory as a vindication of his plans (whatever they may be). Regrettably, it is likely that he will plunge the nation’s finances into further choler, so the British economy, like his reputation, will be damaged beyond repair.

© thepanopticonblog, 2012

Notes