09 May 2010

Why was there no runaway Tory victory?

All those mistakes. In government 13 years. An electorate demanding change. Why didn't the Tories run away with it. The answer is that change was not really what was on offer. The voters are not collectively as daft as our contemptuous politicians may think. They knew that we have a financial crisis ahead. They knew that Labour policies contributed to that crisis. They knew that those policies were essentially Tory policies. Voting Tory was never going to bring about much that was different. The canny UK voters were not going to be persuaded that change was on its way with a trite marketing slogan. We, the people, are not that daft.

For the policies that matter - those that deal with the finances - the parties were boxed into a corner. With Labour moved to the right, no clear water and the need to balance our books there was no way the Conservatives could offer a real alternative. Sustainable growth, the mantra repeatedly trotted out by Gordon Brown, has proved illusory.

And why amidst this disenchantment with the two main parties didn't the Liberal Democrats do better? How could they lose seats? Can this make sense? Perhaps once again the electorate were not so naive. Perhaps they realised that a vote for the Lib Dems was tantamount to a Tory vote. Perhaps English voters with a left leaning had nowhere to go. The rule of the political class has become absolute.


Anonymous said...

You're not alone. The only explanation that makes any sense to me is that Cameron didn't really want to win because of the mess he'd be inheriting. It needs prompt and radical action that will be very unpopular. He should have been given it on a plate, but perhaps put off by the matching poisoned chalice. Now they can all blame each other for doing nothing. From the politicians' perspective, they're all off the hook & it's a good result.

Like the vast majority of the population, I don't belong to any political party, yet I have been amazed and appalled at their behaviour. They have all treated us like idiots, reducing the whole thing to something like a football championship, chanting their meaningless slogans and mantras and keeping various babbling Dimbledroids employed as beauty contest presenters.

I don't know what words like 'left' and 'right' mean any more. But I do understand 'big' and 'small'. We need much smaller government if we are ever to turn back the dumbing-down and meddling from the nanny state, let alone recover economically. Nobody offered this.

History shows that we are way past the point (Public Sector % of GDP) where diminishing returns kick in, yet the huge number of people employed by the public sector now creates an inherant bias in the vote. Benefit dependency is no longer confined to the likes of Waynetta Slob.

I'd say we're pretty much doomed. If you are able, then it's time to bail out. Is this how it was for German jews in the 1920s & 30s? Most wouldn't have believed what would be coming next.


A New Kind of GP said...

The first leadership debate allowed the voter to change his opinion relatively free of the influence of spin. It seemed that he power of these debates had not been wholly appreciated by the press. The subsequent debates were spun. Remember the huge press presence, intertwined with the party machines' press officers - and their frenzied activity caught on camera after the debates?
The Lib-Dems had no possibility of financing the sort of press influence required to consolidate their short-lived boost in the polls. The two big parties, and their backers, had everything to gain from quashing this upstart. They did it very effectively.

One footnote to the results highlights for me my concerns about the influence of the press - the case of Philippa Stroud, the Conservative candidate for Cheam and Sutton. She lost a seat that was targeted as a possible gain. Her participation in prayer cures banishing the demons she believed cause homosexuality was highlighted in the Observer but strangely this story did not feature anywhere in the other papers or the BBC website, as one might have expected. There were some reports in a facebook group called "If Cameron cares an ounce about LGBT people, he'll sack Philippa Stroud" that the press silence elsewhere was the result of various threats from lawyers.

I thought it was notable that the Guardian reported yesterday (Saturday 8th May, 2010) that Tory support amongst gay people had plummeted from 39% last June to 9% just before the election. Gay trust for Cameron personally also fell - before the Observer article, 74% did not believe his gay-friendly rhetoric, whilst after the article, the number rose to 81%. Could these dramatic changes - clearly not seen in the general population - be explained by the gay community's information sources being less tainted by the press barons?

I predict that in years to come, hopefully, when we have a proper electoral system, facebook, blogging and twitter will increasingly inform the electorate whilst the influence of the traditional press and TV diminish.

Anonymous said...

conservatives won in England

what we need 1st is devolution for England

we can no longer tolerate Scots and Welsh MPs voting on issues which only affect England when English MPs cannot do likewise since devolution

With proper representation for England you will find that proportional reprentation will lead to perpetual Conservative and UKIP governments in England

and quite frankly the left wing nutters in Scotland can go fuck themselves

Prisoner of Hope said...

On purpose - and for the first time - I got as near as I could to registering a vote for "None of the Above/Below" by voting for all candidates standing for parliament in Nick Clegg's (and my) constituency. I did however exercise my vote constructively in the local council elections. I know that no-one will register the reasoning, which I added in a brief annotation to my voting slip.

Not for the first time I agree with your analysis of the pitiful state of political debate and corresponding ascendancy of marketing hype and spin. The Red and Blue "choice" offered to is now as devoid of meaning as that between Coca Cola and Pepsi Cola - when I drink neither. Sadly - despite talk of old and new politics - I find the LibDem's too mired in the failed old politics to take seriously,as they also rely increasingly on "career politicians" for direction.

The conventional wisdom of the last 30 years has failed in a most dramatic fashion yet no political party can bring themselves to accept this. Pure markets - beloved of "A" level economics - are a mirage. Most markets require regulation to a greater of lesser degree. Even eBay has rules and regulations. Monopolies, cartels and mis-selling practices are the order of the day unless the invisible hand of the market is controlled. Until this is admitted by our political leaders they will continue to offer the opiate of lies and long term debt in place of the cold turkey of living within our collective means and - as a result - making hard choices about priorities in which there will be more losers than winners.

No wonder then that the manifestos of all main parties chose to ignore the economic,financial and social realities. On the basis of the last general election, no party or coalition - other than a true National Emergency Government - will have any mandate for the actions that will be needed. If these difficult choices are not taken voluntarily they will be forced on us by outside forces.

What I would like to see would be a national government with a fixed term of 4 years. It should concentrate on responding to the financial mess following the collapse of the voodoo economics of the last 3 decades. 2 Royal Commissions should also be established to report after 2 years. One should concentrate on fixing the political system (fixed term parliaments, fairer voting system, perhaps a written constitution, limited number of terms of office for MPs to discourage career politicians perhaps). Its recommendations should drive the legislative programme for the 2nd half of the 4 year term of the National Government. with referendum / referenda as required, to legitimize the resulting "New Politics". The 2nd Royal Commission should be set up on the lines of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission and concentrate on learning the lessons of the failed economics. Perhaps then we can return to financial and social policy based on mutual self help, altruism, benevolence and charity instead of that based on ersatz and unregulated markets appealing instead to dread, envy, fear, greed and hatred.

Now had any party shared this analysis - in place of the marketing hype, lies and avoidance of reality that they all put forward - well then I might have had a choice to make. As it was I had no real choice and therefore feel just as disenfranchised as the hundreds who were unable to enter the polling stations before the doors closed (not that it would have made any difference given the size of the successful candidate's majority). ....... Making sure each vote counts in the future seems like a good start to me.

Freda said...

As a Scottish voter, I, also think it wrong that Scottish MP's vote on issues relating solely to England. Even with that caveat the Tories and LibDems could listen, learn and do something more for the country than for their own self-interest. But then I am hopeful.

Dr Grumble said...

The West Lothian question is a curious anomaly which has arisen because the English do not seem to want their own parliament. Since England is bigger than Scotland, we in England do not feel dominated by the Scots and personally I welcome the more enlightened views of those in the devolved countries. People may be unhappy with Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling who both represent Scottish constituencies but I have never heard their national origins criticised - though from what I can glean the Scots would have a very different attitude if an Englishman was in charge of Scotland. Not, of course, that it is quite like that since Brown and Darling govern the UK and not just England.

Anonymous said...

Re "I have never heard their national origins criticised" here you go I critise it

Remember the Conservatives won the last Election in England too

England is under foreign rule, we need a Boston tea party of our own

Cameron maybe a public school tosser, and sure we need more working class folk in English politics outside the Labour nonsense, but Scots cannot continue to rule England

It will end up in tears

Dr Grumble said...

And I thought the Scots disliked the English more than the English disliked the Scots. You live and learn.

Anonymous said...

checkout conservative home or john redwood websites

justice for england is quite a mainstream view now

Dr Grumble said...

I can see that it is an issue now for the Conservatives as it turns failure to get an overall majority into a success. But isn't that just gerrymandering?

A New Kind of GP said...

Wales has always had a more radical and sociailist leaning - and has striven to define itself as different to the rest of the UK. Remember how the NHS came about! Read up about Aneurin Bevan. See my previous post on my blog on the continuing benefits of being Welsh with regards to the health issue.
Nowhere in the UK is the case for proportional representation more clearly demontrated than in Wales. Look at our history - one might look at 1282 when all hopes of an independent Wales were quashed - but more recently, under Margaret Thatcher's rule in June 1987 she enforced Peter Walker as Secretary of State for Wales (long before devolution)as the first of a few who had no connection whatsoever with Wales. They were not elected from a Welsh constituency. David Hunt followed, again an English Tory, then John Redwood (I challenge you to see if you can find his famous attempt to "sing" the Welsh National anthem on youtube) - followed once again by David Hunt and then William Hague - although the latter had the decency to marry a Welsh girl.

Think how we, as the Welsh, must have felt having our pre-devolved matters of state being dealt with by a colonial influence because the ruling conservative party did not have sufficient home-grown talent in Wales (because the Welsh electorate did not see fit to provide them with it).

Dr Grumble said...

I don't need YouTube to remember John Redwood's pathetic efforts to sing the Welsh National Anthem. What a silly man. He should either have learnt the words (I can sing it myself) or just have stood to attention.

Incidents like that show that in some ways there has not been much progress for the Welsh since they were offered a prince who couldn't speak English - a story I am familiar with but my children, educated in England, were never told.

But it is not so bad really given that we have had Welshmen and Scots in powerful positions in governments having influence over England. As you say, we have the Welsh to thank for the NHS even though governments consider it to be a yoke around their necks.

Anonymous said...

Dan Hannan MEP is right on the NHS

the service my family get is fucking appauling, I really do dispair at all you lot defending it

if it were up to me it would be replaced immediately with a state backed insurance scheme for all, where everyone pays in broadly what they pay in now (many nothing), and everyone gets payouts when they need treatment

but crucially the state would own no providers of care, all the hospitals and so on can be sold off to the highest bidder

and the patient decides where to take his payout cheque for all elective stuff

as for electoral system, the labour party have done their best to rig it their way, boy were they upset when Ken won London the first time and even worse now that Boris is in charge, and current mess where England gets Scottish MPs deciding on our education policy and so on when in Scotland its all done in the Scottish parliament

The harsh realities are that the South East of England significantly subsidised the rest of the UK and England is under represtented in the electoral system

I actually agree that the Conservatives are stupid filling their benches with public school accents which does not reflect out society (they labour party are not much better) but at least there is a fair number of English folk on the Conservative front bench

so your dreams of a Stalanist UK in the future are doomed I am afraid

"gerrymandering" is exactly what labour have been up to these last years - why you not been complaining about it?

BB said...

"Why was there no runaway Tory victory?"

Because, not only do the Tories lack clear and difinitive policies to support their call for 'change', but people also know that public school boys, maybe, can take this country "from good to great" but not from 'the dire state we're in' to 'good', which is what this country needs now! When the ship is in rough seas, you need an experienced and well seasoned skipper to get it out of trouble, or it will sink! So, now is not the time for a novice! And not one who goes on public TV and claims that he is good for Britain because he's "young"! (Dave with Alan Titchmarch on channel 4). Not only is that a rediculous notion but it's ageist, ie, discriminatory - the wrong thing for a would be leader of that magnitude to say IMO!

Anonymous said...

Did you get your initials right, BB? Or should they be GB ;-)

BB :-) said...

:-) Yes! That's actually a wonderful thing to say Anonymous! Except that I think we're all GBs at the moment, trying to protect GB from those who are her protectors! Isn't that an irony?!

Anonymous said...

and the patient decides where to take his payout cheque for all elective stuff

What about the non-elective stuff, nobody chooses to be ill, what about the chronic diseases - diabetes, renal failure, depression, cystic fibrosis, rheumatoid arthritis? I'm sorry you feel your family has been badly treatd but an insurance scheme could be so much worse

Anonymous said...

my wife IS diabetic

trust me we would be a lot better off if she were taking cheques to competing providers than the shit and often non existant service from the NHS, for instance she has just had her 3rd consultant appointment cancelled in a row for eye care truely sub 3rd world

fuck the nhs there is no reason a compansionatley run state backed insurance system couldnt pay out better

Anonymous said...

Trust me we would be better off..

I suspect, that like pet insurance schemes, the amount you could claim would be capped

the NHS isn't perfect, but ask why have the appointments been cancelled?

Anonymous said...

the appointments have been cancelled because the hospital is shit and no decent docs will work there

incidentally i know a number of appointments which they have cancelled at the last minute show as "patient no show" on their computer system, fraudulent reporting of their non performance, just like you would expect stalanist controlled managers to do

its already capped, i would rather have some honesty when its capped and i dont see the payout cheque than promising to deliver but failing as is routine in the nhs

why oh why do you think the entire rest of the world does things differently? because the nhs is shit

go look round the health systems in belgium, new zealand, italy and so many more, all so much better than the nhs

Cockroach Catcher said...

Only when there is no division between GP and Hospital are we going to resolve some of the problems by lowering the cost. Whether you get seen at a Polyclinic or anywhere, someone is paying. When ISTC and PFI failed, we as tax payers pay. Canceling appointment is a management’s way of satisfying stupid rules. An appointment offered satisfies the rules. The consultant probably never even knows. In my working days as a consultant, none of these would be allowed to happen. We cancelled only appointments with wife, husband or friends, not patients. Cutting all these clever moves will release money for doctors and nurses.

A doctor can only be responsible if he is aware of what is going on.

Unfortunately the goodwill is gone and everybody is going by the rules.

The Cockroach Catcher

Dr Grumble said...

Of course I agree, Cockroach Catcher. But it's too late to undo all the damage and neither the Lib Dems nor the Conservatives can see the obvious way to save money in the NHS. There are all sorts of reasons for this.

Not long ago I might have written (perhaps I did) that the NHS runs on goodwill. Sadly it is no longer the case. As the managers press me harder I feel that I am going to have to insist on taking all my annual leave and have them hire somebody to help me with all the work that will pile up as a result.

Anonymous said...

Let me tell you about life for the patient:

So you are diabetic and are "supposed" to get seen regularly by the ophthalmic consultant at the local hospital for checkups and have had laser surgery etc, but often appointments are cancelled at the last minute (which is terribly awkward as your spouse works away from town, you will not be able to drive to the appointment due to the drops they will put in your eyes, and you need to find someone to look after your young baby and that someone has taken a day off work to do the childcare), and your last 3 appointments have all been cancelled by the NHS

You go see your optician for a test for a prescription for new glasses

The optician says "I've seen a serious problem with your eyes you need to see a consultant quickly"

The optician writes a referral letter to the patients GP asking the GP to refer urgently to a consultant (optician cannot refer directly)

Patient goes to see GP (after 4 day wait for appointment) and GP agrees to refer urgently (GP is nothing other than an overpaid admin clerk)

Hospital issue urgent referral appointment for appointment within the week

Hospital ring patient and cancel the appointment (as they have many eye appointments in the past) and say "because you are already a patient of the consultant we are cancelling this urgent appointment and you will see the consultant at your next scheduled appointment in a months time" (an appointment which is a rescheduled appointment from about a month previously which they cancelled at the last minute

Patient gets upset and breaks down in tears of despair

Family member rings hospital as says "you have cancelled this persons appointments 3 times now, you are now cancelling an urgent appointment requested by optician and GP, if you do not sort this quickly we will go to the press"

Hospital responds "OK we will give you an appointment in 2 weeks time and mark it on the system as do not cancel" (consultant has marked previous appointments as do not cancel but is doesn't seem to matter they still get cancelled) and "if you want to be seen more quickly you need to ring the ophthalmic nurses and get them to make an A & E referral", and "its not our fault we are always being let down by the doctors going sick and so on", so thereby the referral of optician and GP is pointless as the only people authorised to get a quicker referral are in fact nurses

I'll tell you what happens in every other country in the Western world - optician refers directly to ophthalmic consultant and the patient is seen within the week

Come on Grumble defend this I'm waiting

Orsett hospital eye department world trailing piss poor

Cockroach Catcher said...

Anonymous (Diabetic)
Go all the way to the press. Hospital management blame consultants all the time now (no doubt some are hiding behind management for fear of losing their job.

The trouble is that you will receive an offer, a gagging offer and would we hear any more.

All the best.

This is a sad world.
The Cockroach Catcher

English Pensioner said...

If the Tories are serious about electoral reform, the first matter they need to address is the inequality in the size of constituencies. Even within England they vary enormously in size, as was demonstrated at the previous election when Labour had a huge majority but far less votes than the Tories. To haver even smaller constituencies in Scotland and Wales, giving them greater representation adds insult to injury now that they have their own parliaments.
As an Englishman, I don't particularly want an English parliament; I fell over-governed as it is with a Parish Council, District Council, County Council, and unelected South-east Regional Authority and of course the National Government.
Get rid of some of the layers, give the County or District Council real powers and I'd be happy!

Dr Grumble said...

I thought the South East Regional Assembly had been dissolved.

As you say, English Pensioner, the English never wanted these things but they were imposed in an unelected fashion even though there was no enthusiasm. There were, of course, a number of reasons why the public took this line. One was a suspicion that they would be a waste of money and would not add anything to what we already have. Another was that there is no national fervour driving them as there is in Wales and Scotland and nobody even knows where SE England begins and ends. A further factor might have been that nobody thought that such assemblies would lead to any useful change noticed by the electorate. In Wales and Scotland it might have been expected to lead to something different in keeping with the different voting patterns of the devolved nations. And it has.

Why were these unwanted assemblies imposed? Why did the government apparently want England to have its own regional 'parliaments'? Would it have potentially addressed the West Lothian question? Not that the English were much bothered by that. Some might have even welcomed a Scottish influence on English matters.

So what was it all about? Was it about ensuring the survival of the UK? Plainly there are those in Scotland and Wales who would like to sever themselves from England altogether. Yes, I said England. Because Wales and Scotland see themselves as governed from England by an English parliament. If England had its own regional parliaments it would then be little different from Wales and Scotland and Westminster would then be the UK parliament and unity of the UK might just be preserved.

Why should we want the preservation of the UK? Now we are in the EU and largely governed by the EU, does it matter if we are chopped up into small nations or, in the case of England, bits of nations?

It certainly matters to the ruling class. Britain is only just a world power as it is and certainly shouldn't be. We achieve this status through our attaching ourselves to the apron strings of the US and through having nuclear weapons and excessive spending on our armed forces and a preparedness to contribute to wars around the globe.

If we were to be chopped up the ruling class would be greatly weakened on the world stage. Britain still punches above its weight. We still contribute more to sorting out or at least trying to sort out the problems of the world than our size justifies. Full independence of Scotland and Wales would make our excessive influence in the world even less sustainable. The result would be catastrophic for the ruling class. For the rest of us it could have some advantages - though having influence in the world is actually rather important. If you doubt that think back to how Tony Blair might have altered the course of history if he had taken a different line with George Bush. Not, of course, that he did anything other than support his various misguided ideas about where the terrorist threat came from. Unfortunately, good judgement was not a quality either leader had. But perhaps it could have been otherwise.

Anonymous said...

Regional assemblies were subjected to referendum

Prescott had a set of referendums planned for each region after which he planned to have another regional tier of government

The first referendum was in the North East of England and the government lost massively, this led them to pull the plug on subsequent referendum in other regions

Regional assemblies then were redefined and run by appointees rather than elected representatives

I'm sure the Conservatives will rationalise

But this does leave Scotland massively over represented and England under represented, a situation which is very unstable

Not defended the wonderful Orsett hospital I see

Dr Grumble said...

Thanks for summarising the background to the English assemblies, anonymous.

As for Orsett hospital I don't think it deserves a defence from me. I know very little about the place but there are things on the webstie about the service you complain about that bloggers like me and others have been complaining about again and again (nurses doing doctors' jobs),. And it is fairly clear that the service has problems as it essentially starts with an apology:

"The eye clinics at Southend and Orsett are very busy."

Many of us believe that some of these things will be worse not better when the service is privatised - though I do recognise that you want an insurance system. The problem with that is that it will cost much more and the money is just not there.

Anonymous said...

but the whole point is the service "is just not there" at the moment!