Next May’s local elections will see gains for the Greens and the end of the Lib Dems

“I’m not a Tory” pleaded Nick Clegg  following an onslaught on Mumsnet.  He claims that the Lib Dems and the Tories are “as distinct as we’ve always been”.

Well, Mr Clegg, if it waddles like a duck and quacks like a duck, it must be a ….. Lib Dem!  The enthusiasm with which Clegg, David Laws, Danny Alexander et al have embraced the Tory cuts agenda (in spite of pre election statements) makes it hard to differentiate between the Lib Dems and the Tories.

All this is great news for Labour and the Greens.  Both parties should pick up votes from the discredited Lib Dems locally.  They never were much to rite home about, and the defeat of their last two councillors will be one of the high points of the local elections next May. 

So who will benefit most? Probably the Greens.  If the Greens are serious about becoming the largest party next May, the must pick up both Brunswick seats from the Lib Dems. Labour can hope to pick up votes from traditionally anti-Tory Lib Dem who have found the ConDem coalition nauseating.  This could make the difference in Tory/Labour marginals such as Hangleton and Knoll and the two Portslade seats.

As I see it, eight months out, I predict the Greens and the Tories will end neck and neck, with neither having a majority.  Labour, with about twelve seats, will hold the balance of power.  As for the Lib Dems, the will have waddled off to oblivion.

(My apologies to ducks, none of which were hurt in the writing of this post)

“No Shock Doctrine for Britain” – a must read blog

There is a great blog “No Shock Doctrine for Britain” that I strongly urge you to follow.  A post on 24th May forcast the shock doctrine of Cameron and Clegg, quotin my favourite economist, David Blanchflower:”

“Top economist David Blanchflower described the announcement of £6.2 billion of cuts as ‘a dreadful day for British people’ – and said they are ‘driven by dogma not by sound economics.’

“Unlike most economists, David Blanchflower – a former member of the Monetary Policy Committee – actually predicted this recession, and called for measures which would have helped prevent it.

“He’s not alone. Bill Clinton’s chief economist (and Nobel Winner) Joseph Stiglitz, recently said: “the economics is clear: reducing government spending is a risk not worth taking.”

“David Laws and his Tory friends have always wanted to dismantle much of the welfare state. And now they are relishing an opportunity to do so.”

Please read the blog and sign the petition to Lib Dem ministers.

The policies of Milton Friedman are being implemented by the ConDem Coalition, and Labour isn’t even paying attention

I’m finding it hard to blog these days.  What is happening nationally is too depressing and Britain and the Left are sleep walking into the restructuring of British society.  No, I don’t mean the Big Society.  I don’t even mean severe cuts to public services.  No, something more fundamental is happening. 

Labour and media pundits agonise over aspects of government cuts, and Labour leadership candidates are obsessed about positioning themselves against each other.  Meanwhile the economic extremists in both the Tories and Lib Dems (David Laws having been in the vanguard and he will no doubt remain influential before returning to the Cabinet) are embarking on a programme of privatisation, dismantling the welfare state, and (in due course) tax cuts.

If anyone has read Naomi Klein’s brilliant ‘The Shock Doctrine’ will recognise that what is happening in Britain today comes directly from the philosophy of Milton Friedman.  Klein explains the concept of ‘Disaster Capitalism’ where there are “orchestrated raids on the public sphere” in the wake of a disaster or crisis, the crisis at this time being the near collapse of the banks and the ensuing economic crisis which is being used to justify just about anything.  And the Labour Leadership contenders fiddle while Britain is burnt.

Friedman wrote: “Only a crisis – actual or perceived – produces real change.  When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around”.  Klein say that “some people stockpile canned goods and water in preparation for major disasters; Friedmanites stockpile free-market ideas”.  Friedman believed that once a crisis happens, it is crucial to act swiftly to impose rapid and irreversible change before society slips back into what he describes as the “tyranny of the status quo”.

Friedman wrote that “a new administration has some six and nine months in which to achieve major changes; if it does not act decisively during that period, it will not have another such opportunity”.

The ideas of Milton Friedman are alive and well and thriving in the Conservative Party and on the right of the Lib Dems.  Both Cameron and Clegg worked for Moneterist ministers in Thatcher’s government, and their economic philosophies have evolved since then.  The only difference is that their presentational skills have also developed to ensure that they are seen as ‘compassionate’.  But the political and economic intentions are just the same.  David Laws gave the game away when he said that he wanted the cuts he proposed to send shock waves throughout Whitehall. 

The Welfare State is being dismantled before our very eyes.  Education (as in the USA where Charter schools are taking over) is being privatised through the acceleration of Labour’s Academies programme.  In due course the NHS will be privatised.  And Cameron and Clegg’s friends (and also those of Blair) are ready for some very rich pickings. 

And the Labour leadership contenders continue to fiddle.

David Laws shown up by the decency of Rachel Gould and Clarissa Bergonzi of Brighton

There is an excellent letter regarding David Laws in today’s Guardian from two Brighton residents, Rachel Gould and Clarissa Bergonzi. It reflects a difference in standards between two decent ordinary young women and the arrogance of Laws:

“We feel we must write in protest at the confusion of David Laws’s expense claims from the taxpayer with his sexuality.  We are a lesbian couple, each with a birth child, living together as a family.  When the Civil Partnership Act came in in December 2005, we informed  the tax credit  office, although this left us in quit straightened financial circumstances, with an adolescent and a young baby.  The reason we did this was because we wanted to remain within the law.  We also welcomed the acknowledgment of our family.”

“Others may suggest that David Laws’s decision not to be open about his sexuality is pathetic in the 21st century and does not bode ell for this government’s approach to minority groups.  About this we would not comment.  However, all David Laws needed to do was not claim £40,000 of public money.  If this were benefit fraud, he would be looking at a prison sentence. It is not of his sexuality that David Laws should be ashamed”.

I wonder if Rachel and Clarissa may also disagree with David Laws on cuts to essential services that we are likely to see over the coming months and years.  David Laws, after his short period in government, should also be ashamed of what he has put in train.

What is the point of the Lib Dems?

So David Laws has gone – the shortest Cabinet career in living memory.  Lib Dem supporters are lamenting his passing and paying some rather ludicrous tributes to him.  The most ludicrous of all was that of Lord Paddy Ashdown who described him as “Mr Integrity”. 

Mr Laws took an “holier than though” stance during the height of the expenses scandal, only to be brought low himself because of his claims. And now he tries to say it was about protecting his anonymity.  Ben Summerskill of Stonewall, writing in today’s Observer, said that this isn’t about homophobia, more “second home-ophobia”.  He goes on “…. Laws moment in the spotlight wasn’t because of a welcome difference from other MPs, but  because of a tragic similarity”.

The problem with the Lib Dems is that they have often taken a ‘plague on both your houses’ approach, not least by Nick Clegg during the Leaders’ Debate.  But the Lib Dems under Clegg have moved rightward, and the natural coming together with the Conservatives was made all the more possible by the Lib Tories like Clegg and Laws.  Laws is a natural Tory but is said not to have joined them because of his disgust over Section 28.

It now begs the question, what is the point of the Lib Dems.  They have become little more than the recipients of Tory votes with a conscience.  But even that is lost because of the likes of Laws whose appointment gave comfort to more hard-line Tories who had a distaste for the Lib Dems.

This blog called for tactical voting in the general election, to keep the Tories out.  How wrong I was.  I had always thought I would vote Lib Dem in Lewes and Eastbourne had I lived there.  No longer.  Norman Baker and Stephen Lloyd have forfeited the right to anti-Tory votes.  My advice in the future will be to rather vote for a real Tory than one cloaked in false conscience.

The Lib Dems split the anti-Tory vote in Brighton Kemptown and Hove, allowing the Tories to win.  The sad and ineffective bunch of Lib Dem councillors in Hove (if two can be called a bunch) should just join the Tories.  Their supporters should join the party that most represents their views, Labour or the Greens.  There is no point in voting Lib Dem.  There’s no point in the Lib Dems existing.