Welcome to Glasgow, Liberal Democrats (though for wedding reasons Daddies can’t be there).
What with Hard Labour out to steal our Mansion Tax and the Conservatories shamelessly trying to claim our raise in the Personal Allowance, it’s beginning to look a lot like the agenda for the next government is already being set by the Liberal Democrats.
Ah, Party Conferences – a Tale of Two Nitwits, as Charles Dickens very nearly had it.
“It was the worst of times; it was the most hilarious of times,” Mr Balloon might have said, or Mr Milipede might have forgotten to say.
So there were the leaders’ speeches: Mr Milipede promised to save the NHS, but omitted to mention the one thing he’d rather not talk about, namely the steaming great black hole of an economy we’re still left with; and then Mr Balloon promised to save the NHS, but managed to misspeak that he resents the poor, before going on to not leave a tip at the posh burger hut.
Somewhere the ghost of Dr Freud is having a chat about satire with Tom Lehrer.
There was the traditional roll-out of “tempting” new policies. For Hard Labour, a pledge to make employers pay minimum wage earners an extra £1.50 by about 2020. And a promise to sweep away the problems of the health service with a massive two-and-a-half billion in extra cash, totally dwarfing the extra, er, three billion pounds injected by the Coalition. Just this year.
Too little too late.
It could be Hard Labour’s next election slogan. The Country is crying out for a genuinely BOLD alternative to business as usual, a change from the Rich and the City doing very nicely while it’s austerity all round for the rest of us, but the best Labour can come up with is more of the same but a little bit less so.
Mr Milipede’s “don’t mention the economy” moment (he didn’t mention it once and didn’t get away with it), is just too perfect a metaphor for the emptiness of Hard Labour’s offering. It’s actually the sort of error that it’s impossible to recover from – because there’s no way the Tories or the Tory press are going to let him – but with six months to go, Hard Labour are saddled with him and he with them. If he loses, it will certainly have the fluffy foot of fate pointed at it as the defining moment of his failure.
But, if it is possible, what was worse than the TIMIDITY of suggesting a rise to a mere £8 an hour after five more years of inflation, was Mr Milipede trying to sell us this on the grounds that it RAISED MONEY FOR THE GOVERNMENT. The poor workers get to pay more in taxes and receive less in tax credits, so Mr Balls is quids in in the Treasury, but whatever happened to helping the low-paid?
Make the Minimum Wage £10 an hour. From 2015. And don’t tax people on it. That would be a GAME CHANGING, not to mention VOTE WINNING promise. Give the people who need it most MORE of their own money to spend and see if it doesn’t boost the economy AND lift people out of poverty.
I want to be EVEN MORE radical! I want to see an economy that genuinely shares its successes – a kind of John Lewis Partnership of Britain, with a British Dividend, a share of the GDP for everyone, so that you’re rewarded for work but not totally dependent on your job. Because success comes from companies that work together, not from bosses and workers trapped in a them-and-us conflict.
Labour just want to tinker with the already broken system that enslaves people in zero-hours jobs and poverty pay.
The Conservatories, on the other fluffy foot, want to abolish your Rights. And if that doesn’t persuade you, how about some money!
Seriously, though, if you ever wanted reasons to vote for the Liberal Democrats, you just have to tot up the Tories shopping-list of TERRIBLE IDEAS that we have STOPPED them thrusting down your necks in the last five years:
- a tooth-grindingly tough freeze on in-work benefits;
- a stomach-churningly butch new payment card to control what your benefits are spent on, that won’t in any way humiliate or allow the government to keep tabs on you, and of course won't even work – a sort of I.D.(S) card, in fact;
- an eye-wateringly tighter squeeze on the benefits cap…
I’d say it was all an exercise in willy-waving, but, er…
And finally, of course, there were the Party Games. Pin the Tale on the Dimbledonkey. Call My Bluff. Do the In-Out-In-Out Hokey-Cokey. And of course Hunt the West Lothian Question. First Mr Balloon managed to derail Hard Labour’s agenda, by making the talk of their conference all about English Toasts for English Muffins. Sauce for the goose, then, when Mr Froggage the Kipper managed to derail the Conservatories’ agenda, by making the talk of their conference all about which rat would be next to jump ship.
(You can probably understand the kind of crossness that prompted inept Tory Chairperson Shan’t Gaps to bawl from the platform: “he lied and lied and lied”, but it was… let’s just say UNWISE. You didn’t need to be Mystic Meg to foresee UKIP’s reply: “Mr Balloon promised a referendum on Europe, he promised to cut immigration; he promised to balance the books: he lied and lied and lied.”)
It’s not that there ISN’T a good answer to the “English Votes” question. The answer, OBVIOUSLY, is that England does not deserve SECOND-CLASS, SECOND-HAND MPs.
Why should people in England ONLY get one overworked MP when every voter in Scotland and Wales and Northern Ireland has BOTH an MSP/AM/MLA to address their devolved policies AND an MP to represent them at the national level? Mr Balloon is trying to SHORT-CHANGE the English YET AGAIN.
You do have to admit, the Pie-Faced – not to mention TWO-faced – Prime Monster… mmmm, two pies… I’m drifting… Mr Balloon is good at pulling a FAST ONE. His turn on the steps of Downing Street the morning after the referendum before was as cunning as fox coming out the henhouse claiming that all those feathers were because he’d been doing the dusting. Mr Milipede OUGHT to have shut that down FAST by WELCOMING the forthcoming SCOTLAND BILL and saying how much he looked forward to the discussions that would lead to an ENGLAND BILL to follow.
After all, the question of “devo max” has been very fully discussed in Scotland; the question of what the English peoples want has barely been touched upon. Certainly it’s not something that can be answered by Mr Balloon pondering it over his cornflakes and deciding, you know what, the answer must be what Tory policy has been all along and nobody wanted.
Instead Milipede Minor gave us his famous “Wallace-caught-in-headlights” look. It was as if he’d forgotten to think about something. Again.
For a so-called Political Wonk, he’s really not good on the issues very much, is he?
So in the Red Corner we’ve got a promise to be REALLY hard on skivers and you’ll get a bit more money, eventually, sometime, paid for by someone else, if they can afford it, maybe. And tears about the NHS. And in the blue corner we’ve got a promise to be REALLY REALLY hard on scroungers and you’ll get no Human Rights but a bit less tax, and more if you’re rich. And tears about the NHS.
It’s almost like they’re all trying not to win the next general election. Is it like getting the Defence Against the Dark Arts job at Hogwarts?
*Except, probably, for Theresa "British values will prevail against extremism and that’s why I’m abolishing them!” May.
Our Hoax Secretary would rather make an outrageous speech that tries to cover up for her own department’s inadequacies with a “won’t somebody think of the children” and a claim that Liberal Democrats protecting your Internet records were somehow responsible for her losing data and failing to act.