Monday, October 05, 2009
It seems commonly agreed that the Conservatives are going to win the next election. Even that Labour aren't really interested in winning. While for the LibDems getting more votes than Labour is what they hope for, losing a lot of seats is what they fear & the way the polls are going both together is not impossible.
In which case both parties are positioning themselves for the election after next. The Conservatives should do the same. Losing an election is often good for a party - it allows them to shake out the dead wood, reassess their policies & come roaring back.
Such a Labour recovery is quite possible. The Tories aren't winning this election because of their popularity, Labour are losing it because of their making a mess of it. If the Conservatives don't fix the economy it will no longer be Labour's mess, it will be theirs. The big problems I see are:
The Economy: We are in recession despite massive borrowing. That borrowing will have to stop, which will make it worse; be repaid which will make it worse; & lead to higher interest rates which will mean serious numbers of house foreclosures. The answer is to have a successful, growing economy, which in fact, with a bit of gumption, as I have previously described, we can easily do.
Electric Power: This is a problem that makes recession look nice. Even the government have acknowledged that we are going to have blackouts by 2018 & that is an optimistic forecast assuming that our power use doesn't grow (ie the recession lasts) & taking no account of the closure, under EU emission rules, of much of our coal power in 2015. This, again is entirely the fault of a Labour government who have been worse than negligent in actively preventing the building of new working power stations & instead promoted windmills which they know simply cannot, being intermittent, provide any part of baseload power. To be fair the LudDims have worked hard to be even more irresponsible on this than Labour & the Tories have been not much better. The answer to this is to publicly acknowledge exactly how disastrous the situation is & to allow the immediate building of as many new nuclear plants as the market wants. If the Conservatives soft soap this now they will not be able to evade responsibility when it happens. A plant can be built in just over 3 years which would mean the power starting to come online, if we do very well, in winter 2013/4. By comparison energy trader Inenco says we face blackouts by 2012 which seems likely to me. Brown has commissioned a report which says we need to be getting 35-40% of our power from nuclear. Since nuclear is cheaper if we want a successful economy we should obviously be willing to let the market supply more but that demonstrates the scale of the problem.
Whatever they do the Conservatives have to tell the truth on this now. I am sure that if they do so the population will support immediate action. If they lie & drift as Labour have they will, correctly since hypothermia kills real people, be strung up.
Electoral system: The Conservatives have always supported the First Past the Post (FPTP) voting system since it provided a cosy relationship keeping the Labour/Conservative coterie in power. Because people move faster than they used to Labour constituency electorates are shrinking & Conservative ones growing. Also in Labour constituencies more people simply don't vote. This means that to beat Labour they need to be as much as 10% of the vote ahead of them. Labour won the last election on 36% of the vote but even with their current vote collapsing the Conservatives need about 40% to win. Answer is that, with Labour promising a referendum on the Alternative Vote system (not really proportional but a bit better) the Conservatives should promise one quickly on the properly proportional top up system we have in Scotland & if won (I'm sure it would be) bring it in before 2013.
The BBC; The BBC is institutionally a state funded part of the civil service. As such it has an institutional bias, not necessarily on party lines, towards big government & thus nanny statism. The answer is to privatise it.
Postal ballots: Before the last election Labour refused to act on the quite obvious corruption revealed in the Birmingham postal ballot trial where the judge said "short of writing "steal me" on the envelope it is hard to see what more could be done to ensure their coming into the wrong hands". The cabinet decided to do nothing, allegedly because it would be electorally disadvantageous. The answer is to go back to the old system where postal ballots are not easy to get.
Put together this would level the playing field for the next election. I also think PR would allow UKIP to compete with the LibDems for the3rd party position. Since they are largely a liberal party & almost entirely a sensible one while the LibDems are neither I think it likely they would take much of the LD's vote & supplant them. I also think that the fact that the FPTP electoral system allows Labour to keep far more seats than the LIbDems in a disaster (on a 40%/20%/20% vote Labour would get 156 seats & LDs 64) which is probably the only thing that would stop the party's meltdown in such circumstances. PR would therefore reduce the Conservative's socialist opposition & produce some real opposition on the "right". Since there will always be opposition that is the best long term opposition they could have.
Labels: British politics