Friday, September 29, 2006

Clinton's oratorical

We're in the midst of party conference season. Not just during election years, but every year - the major parties (and the minor ones for all I know) gather for their annual party conference. Usually held in some dreary seaside town, it's an opportunity to agree policy, grandstand, network and glad hand. They are broadcast on tv, but only on the parliament channel - highlights appearing on the BBC and other news programmes.

The Liberal Democrats
I couldn't even be bothered to comment on the Liberal Democrat Party conference last week. They are the "third" party - haven't really ever been in power (the Liberals were in Government in the teens or twenties). We did watch a bit of their conference (snooze). The best thing I can say about the LibDems is that they've had a colorful leadership contest in the past year. The once (and future?) leader, Charles Kennedy, has had his problems with the demon rum - and got booted out for being a drunk. Charley Kennedy has dried out now (he says), and so have the LibDems with an impossibly dusty-dull Ming Campbell. Campbell was selected leader because he didn't have such a colorful past - as say one rival who smeared a gay rival in a political contest - and then turned out to be gay himself. Or the not-gay candidate for LibDem leadership, the one with the wife and family, who turned out to be having "focus group" sessions with male prostitutes - and then blamed his lapse on the pressures of losing his hair.

The Labour Party
The Labour Party Conference has just finished up. It was all very interesting because of the leadership tussle between Tony Blair and the eternal contender and current Chancellor (like Secretary of the Treasury, but with budget setting and tax raising powers),Gordon Brown. Sometime in the distant mythical past, Blair made a deal with Brown who agreed to let Tony be leader for a while if he Tony stepped aside after one or two elections - or whatever the details were. Anyway, Tony Blair has won three elections as Labour leader...and Gordon thinks it's his turn now. Tony Blair has been under increasing pressure from his own party to step down. They think he's too right wing, too close to George Bush, too "presidential" in style.

What's funny, is that the Labour party seem to love Gordon Brown, and seem to want to practically annoint him as new leader when Tony goes at some yet indisclosed time before the next annual Labour conference. But Gordon Brown, though admittedly lacking in charisma or human warmth, is even more dictatorial than Tony and there are many rumours of how he brooked no dissent at his Treasury stronghold. Labour members seem to have fooled themselves that Gordon is somehow more left wing than Tony. Sure, Gordon makes noises about child poverty and third world debt, blah, blah, blah - but this is the guy who just will not let go of the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) which binds the public sector to a lot of really bad deals and lines the pockets of clever finance types.

Bill Clinton spoke at this year's conference. It isn't the first time he's spoken at the venue and he's always been well-received. Clinton, whatever his faults may have been, is a killer speaker. Everyone says so. The big boss of my work had been at the conference and seen Clinton speak. She's seen a lot of speeches in her day, but she said she'd never seen anything like that and was blown away. She tried to use Clinton's "challenging" style to rouse us all to do better, but sadly it just got people's backs up. Not everyone can have Clinton's oratorical.

The Conservatives
The Tories kick off their conference this weekend. We'll be watching this one a little more closely, not least because we know people and will be looking out for them on tv.


KathyF said...

I think you've got it wrong. I think there are lots of people in the Labour party who actively loathe Gordon Brown, which I don't think is fair. I'd much rather see him than Blair running the country. He seems a lot smarter and a lot more sincere.

I also don't see how you can call a guy with the name "Ming" boring.

Vol Abroad said...

Ok, it's true that there are some people in the Labour Party who loathe him. But he is a dictatorial control freak who has used his tax policies to actively sock to it to the aspirational working (i.e. those on incomes around or just above the national average) and lets the wealthy off with less tax burden than they'd have (relatively) in the US. Disgraceful. I know, 'cause it used to hit me and hard - but now that I'm earning more, my tax burden is less.

jen said...

one of the more interesting people we've met on this trip was (until she went traveling)the labour party co-ordinator for the northern regions.

she had a very interesting take on the handover of power as we watched blair make his announcement whilst in bolivia. she doesn't think it'll be gordon brown at all.

me: i like to wait until i can vote to get good and worked up about politics ;) I'm saving my loathing and ire.