...a blog by Richard Flowers

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Day 4146: Upgraded Underpants


Whenever I hear "exploding underpants"* it's hard not to think of Bojo the Clown, whose re-election as Lord Mayor of London Town has inspired some of the more FRUITY Conservatories to come out fighting for more "traditional" Conservatory policies.

Which is ODD 'cos Bojo's nine-point-plan puts LOTS of emphasis on investment for jobs and growth (points 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8. And probably 7 too. And maybe 9.) and distinctly NONE on cutting immigration "to help the working class (i.e. BNP-voting) poor", 'cos Bojo may be BONKERS but he's not STUPID. He just tries hard to LOOK stupid!

London's economy, the most powerful and only GROWING part of Great Britain, RELIES on immigration and on diversity, on the energy and innovation and culture that comes with everything from Brick Lane to gay-daddies getting married. And Bojo KNOWS that.

The idea that the Coalition Parties each just lost loads of Councillors because the Coalition is not Conservatory ENOUGH is just LAUGHABLE.

Quite apart from anything else, we KNEW when we signed up for this Coalition that it was going to be HORRIBLE, that we'd been handed a CHALICE that was not just POISONED but bought on HIRE PURCHASE with the BAILIFFS on the way round! Of COURSE we were going to get roughed up because it's the Government's JOB to take the BLAME. I've said before that we chose the long and painful but ultimately safer path out of the depression, rather than the wild borrow and gamble approach. But that's not going to make things any easier along the way.

But if you really WANT simplistic analysis, then CLEARLY it's because the Coalition policies are TOO MUCH CONSERVATORY, not too little.

Look, the Liberal Democrats are widely seen as losing votes because we've become TOO CONSERVATORY.

And you can trace the moment that the fluffy bottom fell out of the Conservatories' polling figures to... Master Gideon's top-rate-of-tax-cutting Budget, when suddenly the Conservatories looked TOO CONSERVATORY too!

The unravelling of the Budget was all about the spin that it was a tax cut for the rich paid for by hitting pasties, grannies and charities. And, ironically, conservatories.

For some Conservatories it is time to play the "Personal Incredulity Fallacy". THEY have a personal bug about "gay marriage", or Equal Marriage as we call it in the real world, and House of Lords Club reform so they ASSUME that the voters have a bug about Equal Marriage and House of Lords Club reform.

Rather than, say, Mr Landslide's "ever so popular" NHS reforms or Mr Gove's "widely lauded as uncontroversial" Free Schools or Mr Drunken-Swerve's "not in any way likely to have caused a fuss" slashing of Welfare Payments (the cuts hitting hundreds of thousands of families in the month before polling).

Sadly, imposing your personal fantasies on the electorate will not get you elected.

But never mind that. And let's put to one side the fact that most Conservatory Home readers would almost literally die of horror at the thought of an Alternative Queen. And let's look at those Conservatory Home Alternative Queen's Speech Bills in full:

1. British Bill of Rights Bill

Funny how Conservatory's say "no one is interested in Civil Rights" when it's Equal Marriage and say "nothing could be more vital" when it's their own Little Englander hobby-horse.

It is unbelievably difficult not to smell the XENOPHOBIA all over this one. "We want to send bad people to bad places and we don't care if bad things happen to them even if they turn out not to have been bad people after all, and now nasty foreigners are saying we ought to stick to the list of HUMAN RIGHTS even if it was US that wrote it, wahh!".

Which part of FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHTS do these people not understand? It can't be FUNDAMENT. And it can't be MENTAL. Cos they've demonstrated plenty of BOTH.

2. Promotion of Competition Bill

a) Water companies to compete on what appears to be a Railtrack basis with the pipes owned by a separate company. Not a recipe for disaster at all, then.

b) More banking competition, including breaking up RBS. Don't swoon; this bit is actually good.

3. Rail Improvements Bill

Scrap HS2 and tackle bottlenecks and reduce overcrowding instead. Tricky one this, as we should really look at the evidence and decide which is the better investment of limited resources. If they could back up their case with some facts, this might be convincing.

(For some reason, also includes high speed broadband roll out – why not in the competition bill?)

4. Make Prison Work Bill

(Are we saying prison DOESN'T work? Are we admitting Mr "Something of the Night" Howard was wrong?)

Solution, basically, export the problem. Repatriate non-British citizens and make 'em serve sentence abroad (assuming we CAN, and that's not a recipe for "foreign murderer/rapist/paedo released early in foreign jail outrage" type headlines) + send mentally ill to social services (who we're sure will cope and that's not a recipe for "loony murderer/rapist/paedo strikes again in not in prison outrage").

5. Fairness to British Taxpayers Bill

(i.e. Hand the Foreigners the Bill Bill)

a) Charge an "entry fee" for foreign road users to cover "wear and tear" of British roads

You can see how this appeals to the "it's not fair" mentality of the little-Englander. And fortunately, as a nation of traders there's no way that a hike in the cost of transporting goods INTO Britain could possibly be passed on to consumers here. Er.

b) Charge an "entry fee" for foreign tourists for entrance to British attractions e.g. museums

Fortunately, Britain has no massive tourist industry that generates important foreign currency income, so adding an extra disincentive to visit Britain will do no harm to the economy there either. Er.

c) Charge foreign people who get sick for use of NHS

Actually this happens already but "enforce" it by putting an statutory obligation on trust Trusts to collect – because they don't "trust" then to collect! Nice. And there's nothing like refusing to treat people with communicable diseases for keeping those epidemics out there in the population.

6. Affordable Energy Bill

Translation: "cut subsidies for generation by more expensive means" means "cut subsidy for green renewables" therefore placing more reliance on imported energy (i.e. LESS affordable energy bills).

Or fracking. Hilariously, injecting water into shale rock to force gas (and earthquakes) out was SO wildly economically UNVIABLE that no one even considered doing it until the price of oil and gas went through the roof.

7. Anti-congestion bill

Make councils let cars drive faster.

8. Double EU referendum bill

OK, now we're getting to the real fun.

Part One: hold a referendum to pre-determine (bind the hands of) the Government's negotiating position in renegotiation of a treaty with the other 26 EU members that is NOT up for grabs.

Part Two: then hold a second referendum to agree to the outcome.

How many ways can this POSSIBLY go wrong?

How do you even HOLD a referendum on a negotiating position? What's the question going to be? "Do you agree that the Prime Monster should go to Europe to demand the Abolishing of the Common Agricultural Policy, the Repeal of the Social Chapter, the Sinking of the Spanish fishing fleet, the Bulldozing of Strasburg, the Introduction of Driving on the Left Continent-wide and the Compulsory Imposition of Dairy Milk as the European Chocolate Standard, but we're willing to cave on all of that so long as you let us measure beer and milk in pints, tick one box Yes or No"?

Are the "Yes" campaign supposed to become the "No" campaign if the negotiations go fluffy-bottom up?

Will ANYONE on the other side of the Channel even take this seriously? Ms Angular Meercat is already telling Greece off for "getting their election wrong".

Note also that the wording pre-supposes that we WILL be repatriating powers, the referendum will just determine what and how much. This is called "begging the question".

9. Education (Choice and Opportunity) Bill

Private companies to provide schools on a fee-paying basis. No chance THAT could be portrayed as "privatising our schools" is there. Oh, because it IS.

And it certainly couldn't be portrayed as turning the clock back FIFTY YEARS. Which to be fair would only make Mr "Boro" Gove's British Empire history lessons TWO decades out of date instead of SEVEN.

Admission by academic achievement (which in no way favours those able to afford tutoring, er).

A "percentage" of profits to be reinvested. So that'll be a percentage lower that 100%, I guess.

No mention of removing Eton and Harrow's status as "charities" though.

10. University Standards Bill

aka The Waahh, Vince Cable got his way over the head of OFFA so we want to abolish it Bill.

11. Double Devolution Bill

Tax-raising powers (and hence blame) to be sent to Scotland. Fair enough. English votes for English laws. Riiiiight.

Funny how Conservatories say "No one is interested in Constitutional Reform" when it's the House of Lords Club and not when it's their own Little Englander hobby-horse.

12. Finance Act (don't we get one of those anyway?)

Putting the "you're 'aving a laff" into the Laffer Curve.

The next budget should "increase" the amount that rich people pay by, er, cutting the top rate of tax from 45% to 40% and cutting the rate of capital gains tax to from 28% to 20%.

Didn't that just work out SO WELL in the Budget. See above. And also your current poll rating (-10% in a month).

Admittedly, it might be that YOU see the need to differentiate from US as much as WE Liberal Democrats want to disassociate ourselves from the nastier ideas that YOU have. In which case, we will keep our tax cuts for the least well off and you are welcome to be the Party of tax cuts for the super-rich. Good luck with that!

13. Trade Union Members' Bill

Further neuter Britain's remaining Trades Unions by requiring 50% turnouts in strike ballots. You know, just about one and a half times the turnout that turned out so 'enthusiastically' to give a 'massive' popular mandate (not a gay-marriage euphemism) to that 'popular new old-style Tory hope' Bojo the Clown.

Oh, and slice off Labour's funding by giving the Unions the "option" of donating the political levy to good causes instead. Why not just have them buy Lottery Tickets?

Next step, what, house arrests for Mark Serwatka and Bob Crow? I know they're ANNOYING but... didn't we used to live in a DEMOCRACY?

14. Electoral Integrity (Yes, We Have None) Bill

Requiring everyone to turn up at the polling station in person – with I.D! – if they want their vote. Like THAT'S not going to deter anybody from voting. Like THAT'S not going to disenfranchise anybody. And what would be the chances that it's easier for the well-heeled to get to the polling station and they're more likely to have passport/driving licence/credit card I.D. to hand. Our democracy is pretty robust and widely trusted as it is.

And it's I.D.iot Cards again. AGAIN! Not content with learning ALL the wrong lessons from the most disgusting Replutocrat malpractices of the US of Americaland, you want to adopt the NEW fluffing LABOUR playbook too!

Examples of voting fraud are shocking BECAUSE they are so few and far between. They need to be tackled, but the way to tackle them is by having council officers CHECK people who want a postal vote by going to MEET them. Whereas this is a rather naked attempt to put people off voting altogether.

And finally...

15. House of Lords Reform (Now We're Really Taking the Piss) Bill

Having based their entire article on the unsupported assertion that we should not at a time of economic woe be considering legislating for reform the House of Lords, they conclude by proposing... legislating to BLOCK reform of the House of Lords, and to waste everyone's time and even more money by prancing naked round the issues yet again, this time with a Royal Commission, like the business of reforming the Lords hasn't been Commissioned to DEATH in the ONE HUNDRED YEARS since we started.

Anyone signing up for this LIED in their 2010 manifesto and should be required to RESIGN their seat IMMEDIATELY.

In conclusion, Popular Conservatoryism is an OXYMORON. By which I mean a member of the Bullingdon Club.

But as the Conservatory Homeboys themselves put it:

"Popular Conservatoryism is pro-poor and broad-based"

By which they mean FAT-ARSED and in favour of MORE poor people.

It's important to remember that the Coalition was supposed to be about finding solutions through GOVERNING.

We CAN'T just pass laws to make problems go away. We don't believe that works! We're not Hard Labour! Their insane machismo of pushing more and more LEGISLATION through the House of Commons like lard through a mangle solved NOTHING (except for a temporary assuaging of Lord Blairimort's addictive craving for a new Press Release every five minutes).

What Mr Dr Vince is doing DAY to DAY in the Department for Business is FAR MORE IMPORTANT than any number of "Willies, look at the size of my waving of, Bill" bills in Mrs the Queen's Speech.

Mr Milipede has some cheek when he says that people want "answers not excuses" from the Coalition.

"Excuses" from Hard Labour for the economic shambles precipitated on their watch so far: the bankers, Europe, the bankers, America, the Tories (don't help them), the bankers, world economic conditions, the bankers, the Crimson Pirate Life Assurance Company, and the bankers.

"Answers" from Hard Labour: ...

But never mind that because we hold ourselves to a higher standard than Mr Opportunist and his Bandwagon of Merry Persons.

Why HAVE we failed to deliver so far? Isn't it because the Conservatories have had us sticking TOO RIGIDLY to the Plan A for Austerity when we SHOULD have been TESTING the outcomes and ADJUSTING as we went? That's EVIDENCE-BASED policy making.

We should look at Cap'n Clegg's schemes to bring forward infrastructure investment and the youth programme, and at Mr Dr Vince's plans for more apprenticeships and support for British winners as the RIGHT way to respond to the deepening crisis.

In short: LESS Conservatory DOGMA; MORE Liberal Democrat FLEXIBLE RESPONSE.

*I know, I know it's a "terrorist atrocity" in the making but, seriously, how can ANYONE think that HUMILIATING THEMSELVES by trying and failing to blow off their rude bits in the cause of murdering a lot of people is going to get them anything but the POINT and LAUGH treatment in any imaginary afterlife they might, well, imagine?

I genuinely think that massive amounts of DERISORY LAUGHTER is a better way to counter these numpties than the sort of massive security overkill that makes them think they're important.

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