Political clarity…

For many recent Labour voters the last couple of years have been a bit of a troubling time – with some of the actions of the government (particularly with regard to the War in Iraq) seeming to be violently and almost universally at odds with the views of the electorate. As a result, I think it’s fair to say that their popularity has waned. But while people have become vaguely disillusioned with Labour, the other political parties haven’t really seemed to be particularly inspiring any kind of reaction at all. In a way it’s a bit of a surprise – whether you like the policies or not, it’s difficult to deny that the Conservative policy raft has been more interesting than it has been for a long time. But that doesn’t seem to have made much of a difference either way. On the whole – with the exception of occasional terrifying statements by Oliver Letwin, the only things they do that get any press or interest from the public have been their bi-weekly attempts to commit televised hari-kiri.

There’s a whole range of reasons why they might not have made sufficient political hay recently. Obviously there’s the increase in general political disillusionment. Certainly the current government hasn’t done an awful lot to stem that particular tide. Also, no one realistically thinks that the Conservative party can quite hold themselves together long enough to put any of their shiny new (if occasionally barking) policies into practice? Their regular apocalyptic tailspins have made them the “Kenny” of Westminter’s “South Park”.

Another position – and one I tend to subscribe to – is that because they’ve simply tried to be perceived as vaguely socially tolerant (and had a “nice” non-threatening leader), minority groups, trade unions and the like have stopped thinking of them as an actual danger any more. And while that group has had their anxieties eased a bit that doesn’t mean that they (or other people in the centre-ground) are yet convinced that they’re trustworthy, representative of public opinion or – well – totally in touch with reality… And while they’re waiting for evidence, they’re quite comfortable to background them…

Well as far as I’m concerned, the discomfort remains and the anxiety is back. That’s not to say that I think Michael Howard has much of a chance of being Prime Minister. And it’s not to say that I think the party will be any more united under his leadership. But – if they put him in charge of their party – they will have made certain parts of this argument crystal clear for me again. Instead of being able to view the Conservative party as representing an alternative – perhaps more market / efficiency driven – approach to running the country, appointing Michael Howard is no more or less than running up the Conservative Skull and Crossbones again and setting sail for the easy targets of cheap political swag.

Tom Watson has put up a post that reminds us of the facts about Michael Howard. There’s terrifying stuff in there. I’m going to highlight a few of the ones that scare me most personally, but please – read the full list…

“As Home Secretary, he believed that the answer to crime was simply to lock more people up: “an increase in the number of criminals in prison leads to a large fall in crime” (POLITICS, MORALITY AND THE NATION STATE lecture, ST. MICHAEL CHURCH, CORNHILL, CITY OF LONDON, 10 January 2003)”

“Howard criticised Jack Straw’s decision to detain General Pinochet and actively campaigned for his release: “We think this has gone on far too long. We think he should be sent back to Chile.” (BBC Interview, 26 November 1998)”

“Howard opposed the introduction of the Human Rights Act.”

“Howard was judged to have flouted the European Convention on Human Rights following unlawfully delaying the release of five long-serving IRA prisoners – the SEVENTH time he had been found to be acting illegally in just two years as Home Secretary. (September 1995)”

“Howard voted against equal rights for homosexuals by opposing lowering the homosexual age of consent to 16”

And if you still needed evidence that this man must not be allowed to become Prime Minister at any cost, then how about these two draconian, vile-worded and dangerously regressive/oppressive policies:

“Howard was the Minister in Charge of bringing in the Poll Tax in 1988. Even after Thatcher had gone, and after the poll tax riots, he insisted he still believed in the policy (July 1991)”

“Howard was the Minister who brought in Clause 28 of the Local Government Act banning the “promotion” of homosexuality (March 1988)”

13 replies on “Political clarity…”

I’ve been surfing around looking for other comments by MH. Interestingly, when challenged about Section 28 recently his response was, “well, you’ll have to ask Labour why it’s still on the statute books”. Excuse me? Who put it there in the first place.
This is a man who wants to “lead from the centre”. Presumably in the same way that when you push a shopping trolley in the centre, it always tends to swerve to the right… on “political clarity”
Tom Coates, one of the bog world’s sharpest writers, makes his own thoughts known about Michael Howard, inspired in part by the list on Tom Watson’s blog….

The irony is that I am supporting a guy named Howard in the 2004 US Presidential election. Howard Dean is probably going to face George Bush except he is very pro gay and signed the only domestic partner marriage law in a US state when he was Gov of Vermont.

The irony is that I am supporting a guy named Howard in the 2004 US Presidential election. Howard Dean is probably going to face George Bush except he is very pro gay and signed the only domestic partner marriage law in a US state when he was Gov of Vermont.

I wonder if Howard as leader and Letwin as his deputy will attract anti-semitic sentiments. Even Jeremy Paxman couldn’t help going on about Howard’s ‘Transylvanian heritage’ on Newsnight. And the Daily Mirror portrays him as a blood-sucking vampire. Mandelson gets a similar treatment.

The Conservative Party leadership
I have not normally made Political comments part of my weblog, however, the current situation in the Conservative party is worrying. a) How could anyone consider Michael Howard a suitable person to become our Prime Minister? See these links: Tom

The Transylvanian comment on Newsnight was not just a reference to Ann Widdicome’s “something of the night” remark, but also a little jibe at his ACTUAL heritage. That’s right, Michael Howard is partially of Transylvanian descent. You can’t make this stuff up…

I dunno about the rest of you, but I can say that MH and his Clause 28 ruined my teenage years. The school took the view that combating homophobic bullying would be “promoting” homosexuality.
By the way, I once heard that the word “Tory” actually means “thief.” Makes sense to me!

Yah Boo Sucks! to the lot of you 🙂
It’s a point of fact that locking criminals up in prisons reduces crime committed not just by the offender but also by any other person who might (were it not for the deterrent of prison) be tempted to offend themselves.
The Human Rights Act is debatably flawed and (worse!) forced upon us by the Europeans. It marked a change in the relationship between “citizen” and state. Where was my vote on this?
And I’ve never encountered a person who thought that the IRA prisoners (murderers, for the most part, lest ye forget) should have been let out at all. Political prisoners my arse!
I’ll give you guys the Section 28 thing, but we’re all aware that things have moved on a great deal since then.

That Nice Mr Howard
Tom Watson on key facts about Michael Howard that you may have forgotten As Environment Secretary, Howard allowed power generators to keep their pollution levels secret (Nov 1992) n 1995 he was accused by Private Eye and the New Statesman…

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