Category Archives: Conservatism

The end of the Beginning.

Previous Election Posts: The Election from a Students’ Union, Generational Ping Pong, Is this Clegg’s Dagger?

Unless you’ve been under a rock since election day on the 6th you may have noticed some severe turmoil within the British political system because the election result was one of a Hung Parliament. Tonight this has come to an end – at least for the moment – with a  full coalition government between the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats. There is of course the proviso that the Liberal Democrat MP’s and Federal Executive pass the agreement later tonight.

Gordon Brown resigned today after perhaps the most unfortunate term of office of any prime minister in recent times, confounded by the fact that he, like John Major before him was not elected in an electoral process. Unlike John Major however, Gordon has failed to be re-elected after his ascension to the prime ministerial throne.

For my very insignificant part I think that actually this is the best possible result for this election because provided that this agreement lasts until such a time as fixed term parliaments are legislated, this government has a very strong majority in the palace of westminster. This government is also based on a very well fought and hammered out deal which will be stable in the long term (provided the fixed term legislation is fast). These two factors alone will be enough to stabilise and perhaps buoy the financial markets. With the Liberal Democrats “moderating” the far right parts of the Conservative party there should be no “swinging” cuts to front line services and those on the lowest rungs of the societal ladder will have many voices in parliament. This Government will also have the austerity and careful money management of the Conservatives, which will bring us as a nation back to profit, growth and a debt-free society.

Labour’s supporters have already begun to rubbish this coalition and are already willing it to fail, but I don’t think it will; and here’s why…

It’s been 13 years since the Conservatives lost the 1997 election to Blair’s New Labour project, and as such the Tories are (quite rightly) desperate to gain and maintain power at any cost… “anything but labour” if you will. Also the Conservative party have come an extremely long way towards the “centre” since David Cameron came to power in 2006 and the majority of the younger party members (myself included) are fairly pregressive.

From the Liberal standpoint, this coalition is the best advert for proportional representation that they will get without some form of PR, and if they are seen to allow it to fail the liberal dream of a proportional westminster will be dashed on the rocks of the British public and FPTP’s reassuring familiarity. Secondly now that Nick Clegg will be Deputy PM, four other Lib Dem cabinet posts up for grabs and 15 other government posts the party just cannot afford to lose such influence given the 70 years it has been since the last powerful liberals. Finally given that power the Liberals would be bloodied and tarnished by any failure to maintain the coalition, which wouldn’t bode well for them in a future election.

So there you go, I can see this lasting and I seriously hope it will last for the forseeable future, I also hope that the Tories start to see the benefit of a more proportional system.

Ben Brooks

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“Is this Clegg’s dagger which I see before me…”

Previous Election Posts: The Election from a Students’ Union, Generational Ping Pong

Political Events have unfolded in a very interesting way today, and I will admit before I go any further that I am a liberal, fiscal conservative whose alleigances lie with the Conservative and Unionist party (or the Tories). I did however vote for the Liberal Democrats in this election because I naïvely thought they were in for a chance at this election.

So what’s happenned today? well firstly we found out that the Liberal Democrats have been holding “secret” talks with the Labour party over the weekend – crucially without the knowledge of the Conservatives including David Cameron. The second dramatic event that has occurred is that Gordon Brown has confirmed that he will give up the prime ministers post by october to facilitate talks between the Liberals and Labour.

OK so what do I think… well if I am totally honest my gut reaction is best reflected in the title to this post; that this smacks of double agency and backstabbing. Allow me to explain: I have nothing against having the Liberals holding talks with both parties to get the best deal, indeed this is the sensible and prudent option. The problem I have is that these serious, wide ranging talks were done without the Conservatives’ knowledge, and that this is in comparisson to the Lib/Con talks in which there has been almost full disclosure, and in good faith. The Liberals said that they were “talking to the Conservatives, and listening to what Labour have to say” but this now appears to have been a lie. As someone who gave up my vote to the Liberal Democrats because they struck me as honest, in with a chance and offerring a different, better politics I am very, very disappointed.

Either way, we are rid of Gordon Brown, which I think everyone except the few Blairites out there will agree is a good thing. I have no animosity to him because of the consternation and “upsetting-of-apple-carts” that this has caused as it is only what anyone in his position would have done.

In a final twist to this sworded affair, the Conservative party have given a final offer which crucially involves a referendum on the Alternative Vote system, though not full blown PR, it’s as far as they can go from their current position and maintains the 1 MP for 1 Constituency link.

So the question now is: Will Clegg be able to convince his party (if indeed he wants to) to form a stable coalition or confidence and supply arrangement with the Conservatives after Mr Brown’s effective resignation?

Ben Brooks

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Generational Ping-Pong and the Political Fallout

Ok so it’s now two days after the General Election results began to be announced, and the political fallout has been both immense and fascinating.

You may have seen me blogging about the election as it happenned from the Students’ Union Pub in Southampton and if you didn’t, or have been living under the UK’s largest rock (I’m looking at my fellow geologists here) I urge you to have a look.

For once the exit polls got it pretty close to bang on, with no party gaining the 326 seats needed for an outright majority, and two possible coalition governments as the outcome. One being a majority Lib-Con coalition or Conservative minority with Liberal support, the other being a minority Lib-Lab coalition. The numbers by the way being as follows:

Con: 306 | Lab: 258 | Lib Dem: 57

With only one constituency unannounced (postponed because of the death of the UKIP candidate) though that one is considered a safe Tory seat.

So what’s the fallout then? Well to keep this as brief as I can… The Tories won the majority of the seats and vote-share, something that after the 2005 election I thought just didn’t happen (note sarcasm). Mr Clegg kept to his word about the party with the largest mandate should be allowed to try to form a government first and the Liberals are now in discussion with the Tories to try and come up with a deal.

Labour, despite losing the election in both common definitions and returning with over 90 of their prior MPs now on jobseekers allowance, have held on to the hopes of a Lib-Lab alliance. Even though Clegg will not work with Brown and this would alienate both the largest parliamentary party and their share of the electorate, also it would result in a minority government which could be overturned at a moments notice if enough people decided it was a bad idea (it would only take the Tories and the Nationalists). Speaking of the nationalists Gordon has managed to piss them off by dismissing them outright… not a good sign if they do the Lib-Lab thing!

Added into this already fermenting vintage is the calls – now more vocal than ever – for a change to the electoral system, with extraordinary scenes outside the Lib-Dem temporary HQ of over 1,000 people demonstrating in favour of Proportional Representation, something that the grass-roots Tory party would rather not contemplate.

On which note… I as a conservative (little C until I renew my party membership… if I do) cannot understand this as if PR were in place, vote-share would be more important, and in the 2005 election at least, the Tory vote share was the highest, handing the then leader Michael Howard the keys to No. 10… although in coalition with someone. Hay-ho… this is British Politics for you, Generational Ping-Pong between those who grow up under a Tory Government and those who grow up under a Labour one.

oh it’s been an interesting couple of days… and it looks like there’ll be more to come!

Ben Brooks

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Last Chance to See

Hullo all,

I just finished watching the last of Stephen Fry and Mark Carwardine’s serial “Last Chance to See” on BBC iPlayer, unfortunately i’ve been unable to see all of them, but I caught the last two (the Kakapo and the Blue Whale).

Twenty years ago Mark and the brilliant Douglas Adams adventured on the same trip to see and document some of the animals that were on the endangered species list. including the Kakapo, Blue Whale, Aye-Aye, White Rhino and the Yangtze River Dolphin, the latter now regrettably extinct due to pressure from the chinese (though not intentionally i’m sure).

A photograph of the Yangtze River Dolphin care of

A photograph of the Yangtze River Dolphin care of

I’m an environmentalist, i’ve even helped (in a small way through with the writing of a book on critical thinking and its application with respect to climate change. No animal on the planet should have to suffer at the hands of human ignorance, Nature is full of wonderful creatures from the porcupine to the mosquito. Even the funnel-web spider, though deadly to humans; is fascinating and beautiful in it’s own right. The human race holds a huge hippocracy, a double standard if you will when it comes to extinction; if it’s cute, cuddly or majestic we mourn the loss, but if it’s not warm blooded – or especially if it’s an arthropod – we really couldn’t care less. Now i’ll admit that at the end of the day, when all is said and done, I am an environmentalist because I have grown up in the modern western world, with all its decadent luxuries, and I know climate chance will result in the end of those luxuries, in fact a mad max world if we aren’t careful, but does that mean I don’t care about the animals?

NO! I think that it says alot about our species that we are one of only two forms of life that have so far caused a mass extinction (the othere being cyanobacteria, back in the pre-cambrian), and one of a handful who’s influence can be seen from space. If we could build a non-polluting, non-extinctionist society tomorrow, and all it took was for me to lay down my own life, I think I might just take that hit, provided there were some guarantees that politicians didn’t water down the result.

I am also a card-carrying conservative, and recently had the luxury of attending an event run by my local association where one of our MEP’s gave a speach, and whilst I agreed with everything he said regarding ID-cards, the EU, and numerous other issues. His singularly ignorant view of the issue of climate change enraged me beyond words… to quote a line from his speach;

“if you look at the data, there’s been a cooling trend for the last ten years, and some scientists are starting to doubt Climate Change is even happening”

Now if you don’t know why this is patently absurd, go and look at the data, or look up how you can take any graph with variable output and slap any trend you like on it by changing the period of observation. I’d also like to meet these “scientists”… I’m pretty sure the majority would be economists, sociologists or other people with no grasp of the science involved.

Whilst I do sincerely hope that we (the conservatives) win the next General Election in the UK, I also fervently hope these hopelessly right wing idiots are not in the majority within my party.

OK, rant over for the day… have a good one everybody

Ben D Brooks