Vince Cable

Another Win for the Dark Side


"...I have declared war on Mr Murdoch and I think we are going to win." - Rt Hon. Vince Cable MP, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills

Vince Cable’s transformation from national treasure to national disgrace has been staggering in its speed. I remember when I was hoping that he’d get the Chancellor’s job rather than Osborne. Now with the latest scandal to hit the Tory-led coalition, courtesy of the Torygraph, he just seems like a joke. He’s truly transformed into Oswald Cobblepot (The Penguin, from Batman).

Now, for my own part, he lost all credibility with the debacle over tuition fees. He flip-flopped over whether he’d vote for, against, or abstain. This all despite the fact that he was elected on a longstanding policy and a pledge not to increase them, but rather to abolish them. That moment, along with all of the Lib Dem MPs who voted for the rise, he lost all legitimacy in my mind.

The latest scandal has seen a recording of him saying that he could bring down the coalition and would do so if they pushed him too far. When I heard this, I wondered what exactly would be too far, given that he’d already u-turned on tuition fees, cuts, the EU, and countless other things. But hey, I don’t care. It pissed off Tories more than anyone.

And now today, immediately after a bland press conference held by Tweedledum and Tweedledee (Cameron and Clegg) on “how brilliant the coalition is, and doesn’t everyone agree?”, the BBC breaks the news that he also made claims about Rupert Murdoch’s bid to take over BSkyB. Apparently he’d said that he was “at war” with Murdoch, and was going to use all of his powers to stop the takeover.

This matters more to me. Rupert Murdoch already has near monopoly over the print news media,

Rupert Murdoch, the closest thing to Darth Vader in the real world, who has now been pretty much handed BSkyB by Vince Cable

and Sky News’ weird Fox News impersonation caters to the right-wing audience, but Mr Murdoch has never been one to settle. He won’t be happy until he has complete monopoly over the media, and controls all news access.

But now Mr Cable has come out and declared that he won’t let Murdoch take over BSkyB. Fantastic. Except that he’s the Secretary of State for Business, and is supposed to be making impartial decisions. Now he’s tainted his own impartiality, and given Murdoch and his advocates (i.e. Sun-reading, Sky News– watching, Conservative-voting right-wingers everywhere) ammunition with which to argue for his removal from the case and the decision.

So as much as I agree with him being against Murdoch, he’s still an absolute idiot for bringing personal bias into the matter, and even more for publicly announcing it. He’s set back the movement against Murdoch-isation massively, and quite possibly handed BSkyB over to the closest thing to Darth Vader walking around in the real world.

I remember when Vince Cable was acting leader of the Lib Dems (during the election campaign that led to the appointment of Clegg), he said of Gordon Brown, “The House has noticed the Prime Minister’s remarkable transformation in the last few weeks from Stalin to Mr Bean.” Personally, I think that’s very bloody rich considering his own transformation from loveable OAP, to utterly incompetent berk.

Well done, Mr Cable.

I’m Backing Balls


Ed Balls is the man with the passion, oratory skill, and technical understanding to best stand up to the unfair Con-Dem coalition, and make Labour values and principles effective in opposition

So here it is. On 1st September 2010, the ballots will start to go out to Party members for the voting stage of the Leadership contest. And in anticipation of this, I’m declaring my support, and my first preference vote for Ed Balls, MP for Morley and Outwood.

When the candidates were announced, I’ll admit that I didn’t expect Ed to be my first choice. I didn’t know all that much about him then, he was a figure in the Labour cabinet, Minister for Education, and that was about all I knew.

Since the election, however, he has proved himself to me as a gifted politician, and a man dedicated to the ideals of social justice upon which Labour is founded. After fighting tooth and nail in the General Election almost five months ago to win a difficult seat, and after choosing to fight for the leadership, he has thrown himself into opposition.

Ed understands the dangers of the coalition policies. He understands the terrible risks that Cameron, Osborne and Clegg are taking with the economy, placing an unfair burden on the very poorest in society. He recognises the need not to simply focus on his leadership campaign, but that the the fight back has to begin immediately.

In the five short months since the Coalition entered government, Ed has fought them on all the important issues. He has embarrassed and exposed the elitist hypocrisy of the Coalition education policies. On BBC Question Time, he outshone Business Secretary Vince Cable. And he has come out swinging against the cuts that risk our fragile economic recovery. He has put the fear of Labour and of the people into the Coalition front bench already- imagine what he could do as party leader.

This leadership election is massively important, and I would not presume to tell anyone how to vote. All members of the party should take equal responsibility, and take the time to research the candidates to make their own judgements on who is best. We are in a fortunate position, in that all of the candidates are fine politicians, who would bring their own advantages to the party. This puts the party members in an unenviable position of trying to decide which of them is best.

As I’ve already said, I think that is Ed Balls. He has the fire in his belly to fight for the people of this country, who now more than ever need Labour to be standing up for them. He has the economic understanding to be able to outmatch the Coalition’s atrocious ideological mishandling of the economy. I’d highly recommend to anyone considering how to cast their vote, that they read his “There is an Alternative” speech from earlier today. Ed knows what he’s talking about, and is ready to stand up for what is right.

If you’re not yet a Labour Party member, but care about this country and the future we face, then you can still join and cast a vote in the Leadership election, up to September 8th. I urge you to consider this. The importance of a strong opposition cannot be overstated, particularly given the contradictory alliance of Tory and Lib Dem that is currently doling out injustices and irresponsibilities. That strength starts with a strong leader.

If you’re interested in joining the party, then take a look at the Labour Homepage. If I’ve caught your interest in regards to Ed Balls, then please take a look at his campaign page, and see first hand what I’m talking about.

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back


 

Vince Cable's suggestions of a graduate tax to replace tuition fees, are somewhat damaged by other more regressive suggestions.

 

The Coalition government has today proposed introducing a graduate tax to fund higher education in this country, rather than the current system of loans that sees graduates leaving university with crippling amounts of debt. If this sounds at all familiar, it’s because it’s something that has been suggested many times, by many people- most recently by shadow secretary for education, Ed Balls.

But let’s not dwell on that. After all, it’s surely a good thing if the government accepts it when the opposition has a good idea? Anyway, that’s not my point here. My point is the compromise that is inherent in any coalition, and in particular a coalition between such polar opposites as the Tories and the Lib Dems. Every achievement that one side makes is tempered by an achievement of the other. Or rather, every concession the Lib Dems manage is tempered by some crazy rubbish that I sincerely hope comes from the other side.

Take the student finance, for example. Along with the graduate tax idea (which I welcome, as I did when Mr Balls suggested it), the announcement contains suggestions of all manner of things, including shortening degrees to two years. I’m not sure how many degrees this would actually apply to, but I can’t think of many where it would be a good idea. I’m a law student, about to go into my second year. Now, I know I didn’t really shout too much about it, but I had my exams a few months ago. And they were hard.

The stress that I went through this year, and last year, is largely due to the massive quantity of “stuff” I have to learn and remember. It might not seem like it, but there really is a lot to learn in Law. And I’m not nearly arrogant enough to assume that other courses aren’t the same. My point is that the stress levels, and the amount of material covered is at the limits of what is manageable. If you reduce course duration to two years, one of two things will happen: either the rate of stress-related breakdowns will increase, or the standard of graduates will fall. Neither of which seems desirable.

And that’s not to mention the potential for forming a two tiered education system, which seems to be something the Tories quite like the idea of. If both two and three-year courses are offered, at different prices, you’ll end up with those whose families happen to be rich enough to afford it getting the higher standard three-year education, and those whose families aren’t so well off having to settle for two-year “basics” degrees.

Now, there’s already a divide between the education that the rich and the poor receive, under the current system. A graduate tax would do a lot to allieviate that, as money wouldn’t be the primary obstacle for students from a poorer background, but rather they would be judged on academic ability.

A double standard of education based on wealth would destroy any benefit there, however. And it’s not just that it’s against the interests of social justice. It’s quite clearly against the interests of the country as a whole. What the public seems to misunderstand, and certain politicians are keen to encourage them to, is that students are not a drain on the taxpayer. They are an investment, by the country. Yes, it requires money from the taxpayers to educate them, but who gets the benefits? Who gets treated by the doctors trained at our universities? Who is defended by the lawyers? Who is going to rely on the graduates of the future?

I’m not even going to answer that for you. It’s just galling that I’m forced to watch every sensible, liberal, progressive suggestion that is made by this coalition of contradictions, be checked by some conservative, reactionary nonsense. What our economy is going to need as it crawls out of recession is not less jobs, nor smart and capable people excluded from the education which would benefit them and the country, simply because they weren’t lucky enough to be born into money.

Meet the New Politics…


…same as the Old Politics.

So it’s happened. For almost a week, we have been living in a ConDem Nation, under a Libservative government, led by (coined by the Mirror in a surprising, if simplistic, show of wit) Dick Clameron. The government that loves a good contradiction started with that now-famous love-in in the garden of Number 10, and made half of the country feel supremely uncomfortable. And on the front page of Friday’s Guardian Clegg looked very much like he felt the same way.

The attempted sell of this new oxymoronic regime was the “New Politics”, a supposed new era and new way of running the country. And so far, so…meh. Nothing, to my mind, has really changed. I mean, the Department of Children, Schools and Families is now the Department of Education; everything the government can get its hands on will be cut in an attempt to bring back the recession, the only circumstances the Tories are comfortable in; and endless promises how things are going to be different.

The main proposed change is a worrying one, though. Clameron wants to change the constitution so that in order to dissolve Parliament 55% of MPs would need to vote in favour of it. We’re told that this won’t apply to votes of no confidence, and that it’s a necessary part of having fixed Parliament terms, but I still don’t buy it. We have a coalition government, of which the Conservatives command 47% of Parliament. Less than a majority. Under this new proposal, if the Libseravtive coalition fell apart, we could be in the bizarre situation where although the minority Conservative government couldn’t pass any legislation, it also couldn’t be removed.

This seems to me a lot like entrenchment, which is something that the British constitution is fundamentally against, and which looks like Cameron trying to cement himself into power so that he can stay in Number 10 even if public opinion turns against him. Yeah, the New Politics are looking great.

Also, the New Politics also seems to include a number of wholly inappropriate ministerial appointments. First off, in this new coalition, there are going to be only 4 women. Now, I’m not a raging feminist by any means, but I do feel that such a proportion is wholly unrepresentative, and something of a disgrace for the Lib Dems, and a Conservative Party we are constantly being told has changed. Not to mention that the new Equalities minister is Theresa May, a woman whose anti-equality credentials have already been well-documented across the internet (see the Facebook group aimed at removing her). To put her, of all people, in that position when the Coalition has a host of Liberal Democrats, and Alan Duncan of the Tories, is just illogical. Though I question the appropriateness of anyone who voted against the repeal of Section 28 being in a modern government, to be honest (but since Kemptown turned blue at the election, maybe the message is that homophobia is alright now, I don’t know).

The other frankly stupid ministerial appointment is George Osborne as Chancellor. I think that most of the electorate would agree that Vince Cable (the new Business Secretary) is a very intelligent, very sensible, and extremely qualified man. He was the ideal candidate for Chancellor (that is, if Cameron was viewing the Coalition Cabinet as a way of getting the best people into the best places, not just a boys club he had to throw a few minor roles to Lib Dems in order to satisfy the smaller party). And yet we end up with George Osborne, a man who has little to no understanding of money, and who thinks that a flat tax is the way forwards. Another kick in the nads for social justice, then.

So this Coalition has been, from the outset, every bit the disappointment I expected it to be. And I think Clegg might be beginning to see his error. The backlash against him has been clear online (thousands of people have joined or rejoined Labour in the last week, a sizable number of them disillusioned former Lib Dems), and even Charles Kennedy and Paddy Ashdown have criticised it. He’s sold his soul for the Deputy Prime Minister’s Office, and judging from the picture of him on the front page of Friday’s Guardian, he seems to know it. I don’t think the New Politics are what he expected them to be…