Thursday, 9 April 2015

Simon Kelner is angry

On two points of Simon Kelner's piece in today's Indy I agree: the use of dog-whistle phrases and attacking the man (it is usually a man) and not the policy in election campaigning. However, most of the rest is disputable.

He describes the term "hard-working families" as vacuous. It does, however, have a point. It is meant to convey that party X is on the side of people who have a job and pay their taxes and will attack scroungers. I would add another term, "the security of the nation", much deployed today in the exchanges over Trident. The implication here is that the party will defend you against the invasion of continental or even Russian hordes which party Y would lay you open to.

Epithets like "a dangerous man" or "a little man in a little party" certainly debase the democratic process. However, while the general public wants to see politicians between elections co-operate when it is in the public good and dislike mud-slinging, they also need to know that all parties are not the same. There are philosophical differences between liberals, democrats, socialists and tories and it is right that the people are made aware of them. Mr Kelner may not have noticed, but well before the election the prime minister, defence secretary and home secretary, all Conservatives, were open about their disagreements with their coalition partners about defence, civil liberties and our relationship with the EU. I believe that was healthy and am sorry that Liberal Democrats in government did not also differentiate themselves sooner. The coalition continued to function.

 If Plaid Cymru were standing in my London constituency, I’d be tempted. 
Not if he saw how Plaid operated day-to-day in Wales.

However, now Labour are pledged to end non-dom tax status with the purpose of creating a fairer society, at last, maybe, there is a reason to believe...
This is the same Labour Party which promised to end non-dom status in 1997 before thirteen years of government in which the number of non-doms is estimated to have doubled. Incidentally, Robert Peston (I think it was) on PM yesterday reckoned that Margaret Thatcher was intent on ridding us of the anomaly but was persuaded not to by a group of magnates led by Greek ship-owners, the same people who contributed to the revenue difficulties in Greece today. It is not clear whether their threat was to reduce income to the UK Treasury or to the Conservative Party. ;-)


15 comments:

Anonymous said...

If Plaid Cymru were standing in my London constituency, I’d be tempted.
"Not if he saw how Plaid operated day-to-day in Wales."

What do you mean by this?

Frank H Little said...

That deserves a blog entry of its own. Watch this space.

Anonymous said...

You do, of course, realize that you will be leaving yourself open to responses directed at the less than salubrious activities of the Lib Dems in Wales. Are you sure you really want to open that particularly unappealing can o' worms?

Frank H Little said...

I have been blogging in my own name for the last seven years as an if not unapologetic only slightly an apologetic supporter of the Liberal Democrats. In that time the only criticism I can recall came from neo-Nazis. So if we have been unsalubrious for so long, why haven't I been taxed with it before?

Anonymous said...


Because, Frank, you seem to be an honestly decent fellow and the true ire has been directed at the real charlatans in your party; those that wield the power and renege on election pledges.

Frank H Little said...

Which election pledges did Welsh Liberal Democrats renege on?

Anonymous said...


Lets begin with tuition fees and the promise to oppose new nuclear power stations.

R Tyler said...


Is that a serious question, Frank?

Frank H Little said...

We did not renege on our pledge to the students to vote against a rise in tuition fees and to seek to improve the existing system. We had a manifesto commitment to end the student loans system (and this was costed!), but we - and Plaid Cymru, to give them their due - were outvoted on this. Labour, of course, went into the election on the back of a report not only recommending continuing the system but also removing the cap on tuition fees.

On nuclear generation, I will have to get back to you after I've checked the manifesto. I would just point out two things: I personally have been in favour of some nuclear generation for a long time; and Plaid in Ynys Môn have a rather different view on nuclear from the rest of the party.

Anonymous said...

Clegg make a pledge and then reneged on it. There is no way around the facts. In his own words:
"This is an extraordinarily difficult issue and I have been entirely open about the fact that we have not been able to deliver the policy that we held in opposition. Because of the financial situation, because of the compromises of the Coalition Government, we have had to put forward a different policy. "

Lib Dem manifesto on nuclear power stations:
"We will say no to a new generation of nuclear power stations; nuclear power is a far more expensive way of reducing carbon emissions than promoting energy conservation and renewable power."
Result, did not oppose them when in government.
Chris Huhne: "If there is a majority in parliament in favour of a particular proposal … new nuclear will go ahead."
Two clear examples.

Anonymous said...

Clegg joined all other Lib Dem MPs in signing an NUS pledge to "vote against any increase in fees".
That is a fact Frank.
That pledge was reneged upon.

Anonymous said...

The NUS pledge stated:
“I pledge to vote against any increase in fees in the next parliament and to pressure the government to introduce a fairer alternative.”
Every single Lib Dem MP signed.
Subsequently, 27 Lib Dems broke their pledge and voted to increase fees including Nick Clegg and Vince Cable and 8 abstained including deputy leader Simon Hughes.
Pretty emphatic, I'd say.

R Tyler said...

"We did not renege on our pledge to the students to vote against a rise in tuition fees"
Yes you bloody well did. More than half Lib Dem MPs either voted for the rise or abstained. This is a documented fact and it is incredible that you can commit yourself in print to denying it.

Anonymous said...


Well, Frank.
You initiate a discussion with a slur directed at Plaid, make a truly bizarre statement regarding the Lib Dems, receive several examples of LD duplicity following your own request and decide to publish not a one of them.
Very Poor

Frank H Little said...

This thread started from a comment I made about the behaviour of Plaid in Wales. All our Welsh Liberal Democrat MPs fulfilled their pledge to the National Union of Students.

I have already explained my comment moderation policy, but I would emphasise that I operate this blog from a desktop and I am not constantly online.

Isn't it interesting that the only criticism which the majority of people (especially in the media, who should do better) can come up with against Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrat ministers is that misjudgment of five years ago?

Anon's reminder of the party's policy on nuclear power is the first time I have seen it mentioned in any medium since the days of Chris Huhne. Anon should give himself a pat on the back as being a better journalist than the London pack.

But it serves to detract from the manifesto commitments which we did manage to get through, most of which I heard David Cameron claiming credit for in his speech in a factory yesterday.