Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Never mind the b******* Gordon

One way and another, the media has played a far bigger part in this General Election campaign than any other in British history.  Today's huge gaffe by Gordon Brown, calling Gillian Duffy, a lifelong Labour voter from Rochdale, Lancashire 'a bigoted woman'  has the potential to totally destroy Labour's slim chances of winning on May 6th.

Mr Brown has not done well in the two leaders' debates to date. He has been notably the one leader who has argued, interrupted and tried to cut across the other two party leaders, and then called them bickering children. He has consistently said that this election is about substance and policies, not style, then comes today's outburst, not to mention previous accusations of bullying by Number 10 staff.

The Labour party have reportedly been responsible for leaflets being issued, telling the most outrageous lies about supposed policies that appear nowhere in either Conservative or Liberal Democrat manifestoes.

Only this week, Mr Brown said on a BBC Radio 4 programme that both the other parties planned to cut child tax credits as if this was a policy directed at the poorest in our society. I can find no reference to removing this benefit totally.

With regard to benefits, I would like to hear something very specific from Mr Clegg. The Labour party were at one time working with the mental health charity Mind, to improve the process by which people with mental health issues apply for E.S.A., the benefit that is gradually replacing Incapacity Benefit. Recently they have come out with a new application form which is even LESS likely to result in someone with depression or anxiety being granted benefit, and MORE likely to start a very expensive and long-winded appeals process. The Conservatives think that work is a cure for such ailments and intend to put everyone back on Job Seekers Allowance. See this link for Mind's reaction to the planned changes.

Mr Clegg, to finally win my vote for the Liberal Democrats, please tell me that you are going to scrap the Government quango ATOS and return the decision of whether or not a person is fit to work to the NHS staff like GP's and mental health professionals who you are already paying to determine the appropriate diagnosis and the appropriate treatment. By doing so, and granting benefit to claimants on the basis of a written agreement that they are unfit to work, you will cut the work of tribunal staff and save claimants months of stress and worry which is hardly good for their condition in the first place.

My GP referred to ATOS original decision that I was fit to work as 'talking out of their backsides' - except she replaced 'backside' with a word beginning with 'a'. The eventual outcome appears in previous posts.

Mr Brown's indiscretion today will be a very clear warning to all other candidates of all colours that they are being watched 24/7 by all forms of media,  and that bad news spreads virally via Twitter, Facebook and other social media.  However, what is more worrying is that Mr Brown's attitude that anyone with the view that immigration should be cut, is bigoted.  What I would expect that to mean after the election is that immigration issues will be shuffled under the carpet and talked down as less important than other issues on the agenda of a new Government if Labour have any part in it. Actually, Mr Brown it isn't less important, and I don't think I need to elucidate why.

BBC Report on 'the Rochdale incident'.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

What are we voting for?

The long awaited announcement of the election date yesterday was about as exciting as a can of flat cola. Gordon appeared trying hard to look friendly and smiley, with his team of washed-out incompetents and pleaded incoherently for another term. In the one shot of Mrs Brown, I saw her scowling at the cameras and looking anything but happy at the thought of five more years at Number 10. I don't think she has to worry. Even if Labour were to get in again by a whisker, I cannot see him surviving as party leader and PM for very long. The knives will be out for sure if there is no overall majority or a thumping loss.

David Cameron and his wife were smiling and in the company of a group of young supporters. Point - what have his rivals done to tempt first-time voters to back them? Nothing Labour have said so far looks very inviting. Students have had a very rough ride under this Government, they are finishing their degrees in debt in many cases, and universities are seeing cutbacks. Is that fulfilling Tony Blair's education pledges? Don't think so.

Nick Clegg also appeared with his wife, both looking happy and confident. I wish I could predict that this election will see his party in power, but should there be a hung parliament, they may start to show their true skills. I think they may attract a strong protest vote in constituencies where the previous incumbent has been involved in the expenses scandal and that is no bad thing.

What did not really emerge yesterday were solid or exciting promises and policies. Both Cameron and Clegg have been rather woolly to date on what they stand for. The only solid electioneering I saw yesterday came from Plaid Cymru and the SNP, both of whom pledged their support for the parts of the UK they stand for.  I think it's time for a little root around the manifestoes of the principal players to find out what we are likely to get from them, and more interestingly where there is convergence which may give a clue to what could happen without an overall majority. 

Perhaps the parts of the UK the party leaders visited yesterday have a better idea of what to expect, but for the rest of us - many questions remain unanswered.