Friday, October 12, 2007

Snap back

Last week, I'd barely posted about the possibility of a snap election and Gordon Brown ruled it out. There won't be an autumn election, after all. I guess it shows how much I've become acclimatised to political life in England. I couldn't fathom the notion of an autumn election. Oh, pounding the pavements (the sidewalks) in the waning light, the slick layer of damp autumn leaves underfoot, knocking up voters in the gathering gloom. (American readers - that merely means knocking on their doors and asking them to vote.)

But of course, in America we do have Autumn elections. In November - gloomy, gloom, gloom. But it's a lot different when all you have to do is mail your ballot in on time. Even the campaigning we do as expats (there are at least a quarter of million votes in this country) is largely over by the end of September and is darn right wrapped up by the time we lose daylight savings.


Speaking of gloomy, gloom, gloom- the press now senses weakness in the Prime Minister Gordon Brown. He was accused of bottling it by calling off the election. And then this week, in the pre-budget report (a sneak preview of the budget announcement later on), the new Chancellor Alistair Darling announced tax policies which had been proposed a mere days earlier at the Conservative Party Conference. The tiniest of tweaks and it's Government policy. Now one could say that this was Darling's doings - as he's supposed to be in charge of matters financial. But no one believes that Gordon Brown, who until recently held that same job for 10 years, doesn't retain complete control over his old domain.

Now, I don't mind - because on one policy I'm fairly neutral (a poll tax for non-domiciled residents) and on the other (a rollback on the inheritance tax) - I'm in favor, though it's not likely to benefit me given the crap financial position of my in-laws. But it does look like blatant political plagiarism - and since these same tax cuts could have been part of an election budget, well it looks like Labour has run out of ideas of their own. And for once the press called them on it.

Shadow Chancellor George Osborne used the announcements to goad Gordon Brown about his decision to abandon thoughts of a snap election.

He said: 'We all know this report was brought forward so it could be the starting gun for the campaign, before you took the pistol and fired it into your foot. (Metro, 9 October)

Of course, they still seem to have got away without many commenting that it's a set of measures that will actually raise taxes over all. It's a strange political magic this Government seems to have, I don't know how they do it.

On Wednesday, in a sad attempt at humor, Gordon Brown pointed derisively to a petition on the Downing Street Website calling for an autumn election. It had only 26 signatures then. The next day it had over 8,000. Gordon, Gordon, Gordon - don't call attention to things online that you're just trying to dismiss.

Everything the PM does now just looks a little bit lame. I knew this would happen eventually, because he is a man of limited soul, a control freak who just isn't as smart as he thinks he is and he hates fun. But the Labour party faithful are surprised. Surprised, but they're noticing. Here Iain Dale highlights left wing faithful Polly Toynbee sticking the boot in to Gordon. Et tu, Polly?

Although the Downing Street petition website does nothing and seems to influence policy not at all, I still think it's a nice idea. As blogger-supreme Iain Dale once suggested, (if I recall correctly and I'm paraphrasing) it would be a fine thing if say the top ten petitions were presented daily or weekly to the Prime Minister. I agree. There needn't be an obligation to do anything with the petitions, since these things are obviously subject to manipulation and internet chicanery - but yes, folks in power should be looking at these on a regular basis.

Can you imagine a similar thing for the White House or the Governor's mansion? Power to the People.

1 comment:

Chris in Oxford said...

Good post. I was pretty impressed by Labour's attempt to spin the Tory tax policy as their own as well. I guess when you don't have any good ideas od your own.

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