The choice this time round is clear

April 6, 2010 2:49 pm

By David Beeson

The moment of choice has finally been confirmed. So it’s time we were absolutely clear what the choice involves.

On the one hand, Gordon Brown is committing Labour to two great areas of endeavour.

The first is the ‘steady as she goes’ area: it’s maintaining the recovery that is already under way. In among all the sniping that there’s been over recent weeks about Labour, let’s once more underline one of its greatest assets – to the surprise of many, the quiet man of the Labour front bench, Alastair Darling, has proved himself one of the great chancellors, steering the economy through probably the most difficult economic conditions that the world has known since the end of the Second World War. Like many quiet men, when he speaks, what he says is to the point and well worth listening to.

The Brown-Darling team promised to bring us out of recession, and they’ve done it. Now they are promising to keep building on those foundations. Throughout their hard work to get us here, the Tories were constantly clamouring for change, demanding a different approach pretty well every time they opened their mouths on the subject. When it comes to further steady progress based on the solid work already done, it’s clear that Brown and Darling are head and shoulders above the opposition.

The second area of promised Labour endeavour is the new impetus to reform and change. Above all, this will affect the constitution with changes to the minimum voting age and to the composition of the House of Lords. Of course, there will be critics who will say that Labour should have forced reform of the House of Lords through earlier, and I would probably agree with them. I would simply argue that it’s better to have the upper house reformed now than not at all. It certainly won’t be reformed if the Tories take office: it was they, after all, who were most vociferous in opposing changes in the past. A re-elected Labour government reforming the House of Lords would be a triumph to crown the constitutional changes of the first term, including devolution and the passing of the Human Rights Act.

Not everyone will want these things, though. They will want to look to the opposition to see what they offer instead.

On the economy, the opposition’s views could not be clearer. To the Tories the key priority has to be reducing the government deficit. Nothing will deflect them from that, except perhaps to reduce inheritance tax, from which their major contributors will disproportionately benefit; or to reverse Labour’s proposed increase in national insurance contributions, because though reducing the deficit is key, nothing is more key than trying to bribe us with our own money in an attempt to shore up their shrinking poll lead.

Still, it’s absolutely clear. The top priority for the Tories is the deficit. Or perhaps it isn’t. You can be in no doubt about that.

On the social front, Cameron has proudly declared that he is going to speak for the “great ignored”. And, indeed, his colleagues are going to make sure that there are even more of them. For example, his home affairs spokesman Chris Grayling has made it clear that he intends to ignore the rights of gay people to stay in Bed and Breakfasts on the same grounds of equality as straight people.

Cameron also says he will clean up politics after the years of sleaze. To make sure that this message is clearly understood, he has taken on Andrew Coulson as his Communications Director, who resigned from the editorship of the News of the World over a phone tapping scandal – which has still not been properly investigated. So you can be sure Cameron knows a lot about those significant public figures who like to behave as though they were above mere law.

In case he needs any advice on the subject, he can of course turn to the Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party, Michael Ashcroft, and ask him about the ethics of wanting to make or influence laws for a country whose taxes you refuse to pay in full.

Oh, yes, the choice this time round is very clear. And Labour’s constantly strengthening poll position shows just how clear it has become.

Comments are closed

Latest

  • Comment Labour and the rise of the machines

    Labour and the rise of the machines

    Technology is already transforming our homes in ways we could not have dreamed of only a few years ago, and these same technologies are altering how we work and interact. The impact of the automation of jobs and mechanisation has created increasing uncertainty surrounding the employment prospects of white-collar workers previously immune to such problems. At conference, Ed Balls was right to say that “across the developed world, rapid technological change is replacing traditional skilled jobs too – in banking […]

    Read more →
  • News Labour supporters want an EU referendum, latest poll finds

    Labour supporters want an EU referendum, latest poll finds

    A recent poll has found that 45% of Labour supporters are for a referendum on the EU, with 36% against it. The polling conducted by YouGov for think tank British Future between 14th and 15th September also found that when looked at in terms of the electorate as a whole 57%  of people are in favour of a referendum and only 23% are against. YouGov said that when asked, 52% of those who took part in the polls largely believed […]

    Read more →
  • News Are the Tories more likely to protect hedge funds than the NHS?

    Are the Tories more likely to protect hedge funds than the NHS?

    Well, yes – according to the people of Birmingham. It’s been reported that in his speech tomorrow David Cameron will attempt to claw back some legitimacy for the Tories when it comes to the NHS. But, it looks like Cameron’s latest policy announcement (where he’ll promise that by 2020 everyone in England will be able to access a GP every day of the week) will do little to undo the public’s belief that the Tories can’t be trusted with the […]

    Read more →
  • News Video The moment Boris Johnson brandished a brick during his Conference speech

    The moment Boris Johnson brandished a brick during his Conference speech

    The Mayor of London has a reputation for eccentricity: whether it’s getting stuck on a zipwire, or conspiring to get journalists beaten up, or his aspirations to be prime minister, his odd character traits are well known. His latest stunt will likely stick in the mind, as he produced an actual brick from under the lectern mid-way through his speech to the main hall of the Conservatives’ Conference. He then waved the brick about, and proceeded to talk about in a style […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Ed’s interview with the British people

    Ed’s interview with the British people

    “Hi, come on in. Sorry to keep you waiting but we’ve had quite a few of these interviews to get through…It’s Ed, isn’t it? Let me introduce everyone – we’re the British people. I understand you’ve met quite a few of us already. Do you have a copy of your CV to hand?…No, that’s fine, everyone forgets things. I think we have one here…yes, that’s all very impressive. What about in your spare time? It says here you like walks […]

    Read more →
7ads6x98y