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I voted labour in every election (apart from my very first) up to and including 1997.  This is about my feelings for the 2010 election.  Make up your own mind (but don’t let Rupert Murdoch manipulate you).

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Downloadable button from Mark Golding at http://www.coia.org.uk

Don’t Get Fooled Again “I agree with Rupert

By 2001 election, I had been forced to the conclusion that Tony Blair had views that were well to the right of Margaret Thatcher’s, in many areas that mattered to me. so I voted Lib Dem. That was before 9/11 After that event, all doubt was gone, so the 2005 election it was Lib Dem again. 

I won’t even consider the Conservative party much.  I have never understood how anyone could vote for them, ever. The only choice for me is Lib Dem versus Labour.  Let’s try to be fair.  Labour has done some good things (though most of them would probably have been done by Lib Dems too).

  • Minimum Wage Act 1998 was a great innovation 
  • The Freedom of Information Act (2000) was a major step forward for openness and democracy.
  • Nursery school places have increased
  • Heating allowances for pensioners (though not sure that I should have got it)
  • The funding for the NHS was increased considerably and it has been very good for me (see Why I love the NHS).
  • Funding for science increased considerably

Against the big increases for the NHS must be set the huge increase in the number of highly-paid managers, relative to the number of nurses and doctors, that has occurred under Labour.

Bad things that labour has done

It was obvious from an early stage that Labour were in favour of selective schools (but were not honest about).  They certainly favoured religious selective schools, and still do.

The explicit support of Tony Blair for creationist schools and his implicit support for homeopathy are distasteful, but not in themselves sufficient reason for voting against him. The decisive thing for me is the Labour government’s careless attitude to human rights and free speech.

Nothing made that clearer than the Iraq war and its aftermath.

Saddam Hussein was a wicked dictator, Sadly the world has many wicked dictators. One wishes they would all go away. But only one of the world’s wicked dictators was singled out to be invaded. It was already clear before 1997that Iraq had been picked out by American neoconservatives as a ‘special case’. They didn’t get far until the election of George Bush in 2001, and the tragedy of the twin towers, 9/11, gave them the chance they sought.

George Bush was perhaps the most extreme right wing president in US History (as well as one of the most stupid). As someone who seemed to have difficulty in distinguishing between real life and a B-movie, his behaviour may not be surprising, but it brought shame on his country. His regime’s legitimisation of torture is, to my mind, the greatest disgrace that has happened during my adult lifetime.

It was with increasing incredulity that I watched Tony Blair’s poodle-like behaviour to Bush. It seemed incredible that any normal human. let alone a Labour prime minister could behave like that. The sight of two such men, both believing that god was on their side was scary in the extreme.

Some things are in danger of being forgotten with the passing of time.  All these and much more were documented on my politics blog, up to the point when Blair left office.

  • Remember the US governments legalisation of torture. That caused no wavering in Blair’s support.
  • Remember the plagiarised dossier? Any student would have been fired for that, but Blair shrugged it off.
  • Remember how the attorney general mysteriously changed his mind about the legality of the war?
  • Remember Abu Ghraib?  If not, read Seymour Hersh.
  • Remember the ex-aide to Blair who said

    “I couldn’t help feeling TB was rather relishing his first blooding as PM, sending the boys into action. Despite all the necessary stuff about taking action ‘with a heavy heart’, I think he feels
    it is part of his coming of age as a leader.”

        and how the government tried to tone down his remarks.

  • Remember David Kelly? The death of a good man must be largely the fault of Blair’s government.
  • Remember how, eventually, generals and even neocons turned on Bush, but Blair would still not admit any mistake?
  • Remember the Hutton report, and the vicious attacks on the BBC’s independence that followed it?
  • Remember the attempts to conceal ‘rendition’ (i.e. .torture by proxy).
  • Remember the wonderful efforts of UCL lawyer, Phillipe Sands, to expose illegal activities by both US and UK governments. He is someone of whom UCL can be very proud.

The good done by the Freedom of Information Act has to be set against their sloppy attitude to human rights, as evidenced by their constant attempts to extended detention without charge or trial. In 2004 I made the following poster, based on a dramatic front page of the Independent, 18th Dec. 2004. It is still relevant.

magna carta
Click to enlarge

This followed the ruling pf the Law Lords that the government’s detention policy was illegal

“The real threat to the life of the nation, in the sense of a people living in accordance with its traditional laws and political values, comes not from terrorism but from laws such as these. That is the true measure of what terrorism may achieve. It is for Parliament to decide whether to give the terrorists such a victory.” Lord Justice Hoffmann, in the 8-1 ruling of the Law Lords that the UK government’s policy of detention without charge is illegal. [Washington Post] , [Original report]

The sight of Blair acquiescing to the wish of the most right-wing neoconservative government in the western world sickened me unspeakably, and still does, The happy days of 1997 seemed to be a long way away.

That was Blair, but Gordon Brown and most of the Labour cabinet looked on and did nothing.

David Miliband said “You’ve punished us enough about Iraq”. Well no, you haven’t been punished at all, Yet. As someone said on twitter, resuscitate the 100,000 dead and we’ll forgive you.

 

I’m still baffled about why the crowd that gathered in UCL’s quad for the start of the second great march on 20th March 2003, were able to predict the outcome of the invasion so much more accurately than the government.

 

UCL  quadrangle 20 March 2003

Click here to download high resolution

Apart from the war

Brown is guilty not only of supporting the war.

He has supported segregated religious schools and the reintroduction of "academy" schools, both being ways of surreptitiously re-introducing selection into the education system

He and Blair presided over an endless multiplication of box-ticking quangos. The intention was, no doubt to increase quality, but the effect has been exactly the opposite. Just look, for example, at Skills for Health, the QAA, the QCA and a multitude of others.

These are some of the reasons that I cannot vote "Labour" this time. They have become. in many ways, a party of the right, barely distinguishable from the Conservative party (and in some respects, further to the right). Remember that the Conservatives supported Blair in his love affair with George Bush, they support selective schools, they support religious schools. And they are even more likely that Labour to sell their soul to Rupert Murdoch. Imagine Fox "News" coming to the UK and be afraid, very afraid.

Why Liberal Democrats?

Since I find it impossible to vote Labour this time. they are the only option. But I think one can be a bit more positive than that.

Some of the reasons why are listed in a letter in today’s Guardian (the list of signatories is remarkable). The Lib Dem manifesto is here.

  • The Lib Dems are more likely than the other parties to roll back New Labour’s attack on civil liberties
  • Lib Dems tax and green policies look pretty good to me.
  • The cost of replacing Trident missiles could be around £100 billion, and if that were spent it is doubtful whether what you get is useful under present conditions. Only Lib Dems would rethink this ghastly waste of money. Brown and Cameron prefer macho posturing.
  • Brown’s judgment about banks was wrong, yet he still won’t separate the casino banks and the savings banks. Lib Dem’s would.
  • Lib Dems have been more open about how cuts would be made than other parties (if not 100%). Vince Cable for Chancellor.
  • Nick Clegg’s response to the letter sent party leaders by the Campaign for Science & Engineering CaSE) was clearly better than the others,in many respects. See also Lib Dems science policy test
  • Can you imagine a better science minister than Dr Evan Harris?. I can’t.

Follow-up

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31 Responses to The General Election 2010: why it has to be Lib Dem this time

  • Spot on, David – another excellent post. I must admit that I was disillusioned with New Labour even in 1997 but other than that I agree entirely with your analysis. (Blair’s supposedly centrist Third Way was always rather too right of centre for my liking. It didn’t surprise me that Peter Mandelson claimed “We’re all Thatcherite now” in 2003. You can imagine my frustration when higher education fell under the Dark Lord’s remit not so long ago …)

    It’s perhaps also worth pointing out the Lib Dem’s laudable position – as compared to New Labour and the Tories – on faith schools (which in part triggered Cristina Odone’s odious attack on Evan Harris in the Torygraph a couple of weeks ago). Evan Harris and Phil Willis are also a formidable duo on the Science and Technology (formerly DIUS) Select Committee – they’ve done a lot of impressive work. (Disappointing that Willis is retiring).

    Just a shame that the Lib Dems don’t have a commitment to getting rid of the educationally damaging SATs regime nor seem particularly exercised by the scandalous PFI/PPP scheme embraced so enthusiastically by New Labour (and so effectively lampooned by Private Eye on a fortnightly basis)…

    But then you can’t have everything!

    Philip

  • Both parties have been kicking the poor terribly of late too. Yet we all know it has been a long time since we’ve had a ‘respectable’ unemployment rate. We’ve all seen graduates struggle to find work, we’ve all seen postdocs struggling to get positions and grants.

    If we are honest almost everyone is terrified of unemployment. I dread it ever coming back to me.

    I’m really worried about how much we are using the poor as demons, the generation laid to waste by Thatcher that has never really recovered. And now we’ve got another generation too. It’s like the new racism.

    I watched a short TV clip a year or so ago. It was of a woman in her 50s living in poverty caring for her profoundly handicapped (from birth) son. She said that because she didn’t have a job – caring for her son made that impossible she felt society wouldn’t tolerate her voicing any kind of political concern. She really felt pushed out of our society, our doemocracy because she didn’t have a job. She was down trodden, so poor and utterly exhausted and was neutered of opinion by our society. That just fills me with horror. How many people in this country feel like that? It is outrageous. And I think it has been allowed to develop deliberately over the years. One group or another to bully is always a good idea when things get tough, it seems.

    I’ve noticed single people don’t seem to exist either, as if every adult of voting age has reproduced and has a kid at home!

    Labour has done so much that is just so wrong. Yet they’ve done good things too as you say David. Good on heating allowances for pensioners, nursery school education is back the way it was in the 60s – just much more expensive. The few times I’ve used my GP has been really impressive – access to services is far superior than it was in the 80s. The police get a lot of bad press. I was a witness to an attempted murder. The police continually rang me up to check I was fine, offering to look after me, escort me out of court, etc. Fantastic. A friend has had good results working with his local station to deal with an ongoing local problem so he’s seeing a big difference under Labour too.

    But it’s the civil liberties. The defence budget. The wars. The lying and treating us all like fools. And then the climate inaction. The massive gap between rich and poor, the housing nightmare across the entire country.

    I really don’t want to vote for Labour; the candidate hasn’t lifted a finger, thinking the seat his for no effort. The Libdem has been rather idle too.

    And the thought of another Tory government has literally brought me to tears. Remember Rwanda? Not even mentioned in John Majors memoirs. Not one jot. I still can’t forgive them that, or the heartless mass unemployment, the misery they created without blinking an eye.

    The Union may break under a Tory government. I don’t see Scotland or Wales hanging around for more of that nightmare. Once was enough. Who knows what N. Ireland will do? Glasgow looks nice. But the poverty and lack of jobs is still a huge issue, impacting terribly on health. Edinburgh has created lots of jobs but not so much for the locals. The rest of Scotland is struggling to create work just as much as Wales.

    The BBC may have problems but the Tories will deliberately wreck it. Fox News and I’ll chuck out the TV! For good. We need to be catching up with Latin America – not clinging on to the fading, bitter empire of the USA.

    Dr Evan Harris has shown himself to be one of the most capable parliamentarians I’ve ever seen. Vince Cable has grasped the economic nightmare so he should be at the Treasury next Friday morning.

    I’ll pay more taxes and expect big business to be yanked into rationality if it means we will not return to the days of charity handouts for the jobless, the poor, and shaming cardboad cities etc and I’ll vote to keep the Tories out of power. Just imagine what they’d have done with the banks!

  • I completely agree. Especially on Vince Cable for chancellor. I would much rather a previous lecturer in Economics was chancellor than a Modern History graduate or Darling with his tax record. Interestingly the accountants have abandoned the conservatives during this election season due to their economic incompetence:
    14/4 20/4
    Conservative 40% 9%
    Liberal Democrat 25% 48%
    Labour 14% 5%
    (http://www.accountingweb.co.uk/topic/business/clegg-wins-over-accountants/420728)

    Another point on Labour and schools is the funding of specialist schools. While I was at high school (years 8-11, Norfolk has a different school system to the rest of the country) our school applied for a specialist status as a science school. To get the extra funding specialist school get we needed to raise £50,000. Who had the idea of funding schools on the basis of if they can raise money externally? All of the schools near me which already had great reputations received specialist statuses and the grants that come with it far before the other local schools.

  • Hate to say it, but kudos to Labour for attempting to straighten out our tortuous divorce laws too from the religiously moralistic ones we have before.

  • Professor Colquhoun

    Can you please explain what you mean by ‘selective schools’, and why they are a bad thing?

    I was (until recently) at an independent grammar school which selected pupils based on academic ability (mostly, performance in tests that they themselves set). I presume that this is what you mean by selective school; if so, I cannot understand your problem with them.

    I consider myself to have been extremely lucky to have gone there (I got a 100% bursary) as the teachers were, in many cases, inspiring, and we were taught beyond the level of the joke GCSE and A Levels (that don’t prepare students for university science courses, according to those who run my university’s science course)

    I know there is an argument that mixing pupils of all abilities improves education standards for all, but I think it is more important that those at the top are able to push as far beyond the constricting exam specifications as possible.

    As far as the election goes, I will not vote labour because they have shown that electioneering and popularity is more important than good governance. Take the ACMD, ignoring Sir David King’s advice on badger culls to stop the spread of bovine TB, cuts in the physics budget (for international programs) and the view that Science is just for boosting the economy, and it’s difficult to find any reason to support them.

    Hell, even Lord Drayson thinks that the newspapers, in general, show science journalism to be proud of.

  • I’m going to support a winner and go for the IMF. They are bound to get in at some stage. I think the iron rice bowl of the public sector is about to run out. Just wondering how the Guardianistas will cope in the real world?

  • Who are the IMF, Dangerous Conventional?

    Personally, I’m really uplifted to notice that science is being embraced by liberals and vice versa.
    My two priorities at the polling station: Liberal values and a social conscience, but an ideology that knows its place and will not obscure evidence-based policy.

  • @dbaynard

    When I was 11, the population was divided into two classes, roughly 25% grammar schools and 75% secondary modern. 75% of the population was written of as thick at the age of 11. Since the change to non-selective education it has become very obvious that this was a insane waste of talent. Although in principle it was possible to transfer from one sort of school to another, in practice it very rarely happened.

    This form of selection at 11 has always seemed to me to be at least as much the fault of scientists as it was of politicians. In the 1930s a group of psychologists grew up who claimed that they could measure the innate abilities of a child at a young age. That turned out to be arrogant and wrong, but sadly politicians listened to them. (Did I just say that? Actually it is the best example I know why democratically-elected politicians must have the last say.)

    Of course it has always been argument about what fraction of the population can benefit from some sort of higher education. 200 years ago the bets estimate might have been 1%. Now the best guess might be 50%. Who knows what it will be in another 50 years.

    Obviously there are difficulties in teaching groups of mixed ability but this seemed to be solved quite effectively by setting, in my son’s comprehensive. Incidentally, what I saw then of A-level papers did not suggest that they were particularly easy. Whenever I hear someone say that, my reaction is to ask them to take the exam themselves.

    In many ways, the answer to your question lies in your own third paragraph. “I consider myself to have been extremely lucky to have gone there (I got a 100% bursary)”. What about all the other people who didn’t get a 100% bursary? Do you think they were all irredeemably stupid and not worthy to get the good fortune that you had?

  • @Philip Moriarty
    “you can’t have everything”. Exactly

    @margaret
    Thanks for you moving comment. I added a couple of items to ‘good things done by Labour’ as a result of it.

    It sounds as though you and I might be part of that select band of people who have written to their MPs to ask for a rise in income tax. I fear that won’t catch on though.

  • @Julian Stirling
    Your point about the absurd “specialist schools” is something I should have mentioned.

    After my son left his school it became a “specialist school for performing arts”. But very few people know that they want such a specialist school at 11. They just want a school that will give a good all-round education. Specialist schools seem to me one of the sillier bits of gimickry introduced by new Labour.

  • The public sector “Iron Rice Bowl”, as DangerCon puts it, is hardly the land of plenty.

    My brother works in the private sector and makes far more than I do, though he certainly earns it. My equivalents at our local EvulBigPharma make more than I do too. And don’t even mention the lawyers, and recruitment consultants, and managers, who live in our street

    On the other hand… at least I can make an honest living being honest with people, rather than having to sell them Snake Oil and the idea of Me as an All-Knowing-Therapist-Guru. Unlike some people I can think of.

  • “Incidentally, what I saw then of A-level papers did not suggest that they were particularly easy.”

    They have defiantly got easier. When I did my A-Levels we had the same handouts as previous years. Except with big boxes around certain bits saying “removed from syllabus”. For instance the only maths they are allowed in Physics now is + – * and /, and maybe trigonometry as long as there is space to draw it with a protractor, just in case hitting cos on a calculator is too taxing.

  • Looks like Strauss-Khan is going to be running the show sooner than I first thought.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/7659925/Tories-urged-to-call-in-IMF-for-audit-of-UKs-debts-if-they-win-election.html

    Simple economics; deficit spending plus QE equals hyperinflation. £5 for a loaf of bread anyone.Socialism always fails because they always run out of other people’s money.

  • @Julian Stirling
    It’s notoriously hard to decide how standards change with time. I can speak only for biological sciences form direct experience. It is quite true that many of our students have difficulty with anything mathematical. Lecture ratings by students are inversely proportional to the number of equations in the lecture, in my experience,

    But much the same was true when I was an undergraduate. Our first year physical chemistry class required a bit of elementary calculus. Several people in my class opted to memorise the equations photographically rather than learn some calculus. I bought Silvanus P Thompson’s beautiful little book and it opened a whole new world for me

  • The old style 11 + was based on Cyril Burt’s probably fraudulent research. (Burt was head of UCL Psychology.)
    I’ve had lots and lots of experience of failure, it’s one of my strong points – and I started it all by failing the 11+.
    The Secondary Modern School I attended had about 100 pupils in a year, was very rough with loads of fighting, obviously offered no A levels, did offer O levels in English & Maths for a proportion of the A stream & CSE’s for everthing else. The teachers were a pretty dedicated bunch and you could do O level chemistry and so forth at lunch time or after school – they were getting ready for the change to comprehensive.
    My point is at the school reunion a few years ago there were about 10 people from my year who completed degrees/HNCs/HNDs since leaving school. My guess is about a third of us were in the wrong school – as DC says a real waste of talent.

    From memory I think Dr. Coe at Durham says A levels are easier than in the 1970’s/1988 – subtract three or four grades for maths and science and two or so for English, Geography. His research is based on the proportion of students getting A’s, Bs. I don’t know what allowance he makes for improved teaching methods, no job prospect motivation, parental pressure, course based assessments, school league tables focusing teachers minds and teaching to the test.

  • @Andrew
    Yes Cyril Burt was not UCL’s finest hour. Someone we can be ashamed of, though he was one among many overconfident psychologists in the 30s.

    All the caveats that you attach to the assessment of how exams have changed with time, show the problem, I can believe that they have become easier, even though hard evidence is lacking. Educational theorists seem often to be as uninterested in empirical evidence as homeopaths.

    My point was a bit different though. I was saying that I can’t see much difference between levels of innumeracy in students from the late 50s and now. Students, perhaps, change less than exams.

  • Instead of making A-Levels easier they should have just made more grades. If people can’t do maths then should they really be getting an A in A-level physics? (It also lies to them as to whether they will be able to do it at university.) You could leave the maths in, admit to the class it is hard and have some people get a lower grade. After all everyone should have equal opportunities, but giving everyone nigh on equal grades makes testing meaningless.

    By removing the challening aspects of the course you remove any incentive or need for some students to work. You end up wasting time as they need to relearn pretty much everything at uni but with maths. And also there is nothing more annoying than finishing your A-levels with As and your family interpreting the grades as the exams getting easier. (Yes all this ranting might boil down to bitterness!). I suppose the new A* grade will change some of this, but they wont be putting the maths back in.

  • @Julian Stirling: I currently teach Physics; the mathematical demands are clearly far less than when I took my A-level in 1983 (although they ask a little more than you suggest – there are logarithms, for example). The problem is that, even so, Physics is still one of the hardest A-levels: make it harder and essentially no-one will do it! Students who know that grades count would be foolish to choose a subject in which they are almost certain to get a lower grade.

    I imagine that A-levels in general have been made more accessible because far more students carry on to study post-16 than when I was at school. The A-levels of today are aimed at a different audience to those that I sat. All things considered, I think that they’ve done a good job. Physics is intrinsically interesting: it’s possible to cover the specification and still do lots of interesting and challenging stuff, depending on the student. Yes, I’d love to be teaching vector field theory – but this turkey won’t vote for Christmas!

    (To any Physics students who are reading this: I’m certainly not saying that today’s A-level Physics is trivial! If you are doing well at it, you are smart. It’s just that you would understand so much more with a little extra mathematics.)

  • To complement Evan Harris, the Liberal Democrats are likely to have Julian Huppert in Cambridge. It’s got to be a good thing if the number of scientists in the Commons carries on increasing….there don’t seem to be more than a handful……and there don’t seem to be many scientist candidates……

  • Reading through maths A level exam papers over 25 years five yearly intervals, it does not seem to me that A levels became easier, but it became easier to prepare for them and thus easier to get better marks.

    It comes at a cost. When I took my university entrance exam in maths (different country, different times), for 4 months my preparation was nothing else, but doing previous exam papers. I got 95%. Two years later I had to start re-learning maths, when it became clear that understanding the basis (not only recognising the problem and following a predetermined path of solving it) is also required for developing my knowledge…

  • I almost entirely agree David. Having been a Tory `wet’ for most of the last 40 years, mainly from the ideological standpoint of disliking centrally driven government, I find myself in agreement with most of Lib Dem policy. There is one exception. The environmental policy will not work. Their blanket refusal to consider nuclear power makes the carbon neutral target by 2050, the most ambitious of the 3 main parties, especially unrealistic. They need to look at the sums again.

  • Thoughtful post, David.

    I have long (1997) made the decision of voting any non-rightwing party that helps to keep the Tories out (however, not only Labour moved to the right, but also the Liberal Democrats (and where I live, they are truly right wing – unlike Labour and Conservatives – both left of their national party here). I will do that not only because of the human misery that they brought onto the country (though this is the most important), but also because of economic mismanagement. Spending the North-Sea oil revenue on tax cuts and on benefiting shareholders of declining industries (yes, every company that fired people in the textile and steel industry got subsidy for every abolished workplace from the government in the 1980s), quadripling the government debt in real terms while setting wasteland in public services and infrastructure.

  • I think this year I am going to have to disagree on this one. I’ve been very unimpressed with Clegg. I think he cares more about his own success/the LDs success than he does about not sacrificing the country to a Tory government. I don’t think he’s in the same lineage as Kennedy or Ashdown. I would guess that, at a time of Cameron’s popularity, in desperation for electability the LD party members elected someone who they thought could compete with Cameron. I particularly found this quote unpleasant: “Labour is increasingly irrelevant. The question now [about what would happen] is one in which the Labour party plays no role,”
    I’ve always voted LD (with the exception of Ken L) but still respect the origins of the Labour party and what is has achieved in its history. I think Clegg’s just fake/unpleasant and suspect he will do to the LDswhat Blair did to the Labour party. I also think it would be bad for the country if the Labour party suffered such a bad defeat it was fatally wounded.

  • @puzzlebobble
    A large party will not be fatally wounded so easily. But Labour need to be badly defeated for them to have a look at themselves in a mirror and realise they are no longer a left-wing party. If they reform as a real left-wing party they may regain some votes they lost to the Lib Dems.

  • @puzzlebobble
    I certainly can’t be sure that Clegg is not another Tony Blair. But I can be fairly sure that Labour will continue on a Blairite path (and Cameron even more of course). It’s a bet but one that seems to be the only possible bet at the moment.

  • There’s an excellent and damning assessment in today’s Guardian of New Labour’s thirteen years in power: New Labour is a parasite (written by George Monbiot (who else?!)).

    There’s also a great comment posted underneath Monbiot’s article which is all the more powerful for its brevity:

    New Labour had the chance to rectify the wrongs of Thatcherism, and failed spectacularly. Labour’s soul died with John Smith, only to be replaced by those were democratic socialism was a mere affectation.

  • @Philip Moriarty

    I’m not a lover of the rightwing Labour Party leadership (nice contradiction in terms), but the referenced article is pretty bad.

    Firstly, as it comes up so many times, the CCTV scare should be demasked. The reason why the UK is so high on the list, because of the huge number of private CCTV cameras (and not government ones). Do we want to tell businesses and households to remove them? It could be done, I’m not a fan of CCTV cameras, but what’s next, where do you stop? The Home Office study showed that it does not reduce crimes, but actually improves solving crimes.

    The poverty figures mentioned in the article are also problematic (they are from poverty.gov.uk) – read through the calculation adjustments. It cannot be used in the manner as Manbiot does. Of course, it is a shame on the government that so many people are in relative (and absolute) poverty, and also that inequality is so high (as it is a cause of many social ills and health related problems).

    Headline tax figures are completely meaningless – the only reasonable point would be to use tax part of the revenue/profit/capital gains/etc. He does not do it, his point is purely demagogue.

    He also abuses the Health and Safety figures (not to mention that he says lower inspection rates cause higher fatalities). While it is horrible that anybody dies in work, the HSE quite clearly says that the number is very low (180) for making rush judgements because small changes can create large variations, but that 2008-09 represents a significant decrease (could be because of the recession) and that the UK has consistently lower fatalities in work than in most EU countries (in 2006, the lowest).

    PFIs contracts are indeed massively in favour of the private sector. But how could all those schools and hospitals be built without increasing the taxation levels very high, thus loosing the first election right away? I’m very unhappy about the profiteering in PFIs, and its ideology but it was a political decision – having a decent health service and some new schools without putting up the tax rates.

    I agree with all the points about foreign policy. Yet, it is highly selective (when people march, complain, are repulsed by the illegal war against Iraq, I cannot agree more. But the same people forget to mention the illegal war against Yugoslavia, though it was organised it an even more repulsive way).

    As to his suggestion for an alternative (the Hang ’em list). It is a grassroot attempt, but… I leave it to people to read through those names and form their own opinion.

    And I would have liked to see Monbiot’s moral raging against his own newspaper. There is enough there (and I don’t mean their support for the LibDems). It’s not very nice to preach the virtue of water and drinking wine.

  • Evan Harris lost by 170 votes.

    The aggregate stupidity of Parliament is thereby increased.

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