"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen."

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

The Pros & Cons

I've had to forget about the EU when writing the following; it wasn't difficult because the Conservatives didn't mention it either.

I've just watched part of today's Conservative Party Conference: Michael Gove (good); Ken Clarke (iffy); Theresa May (ditto); Andrew Lansley (surprisingly good); IDS (not bad, actually).

Education, at least, remains domestic policy and Gove tweaked all the buttons: the correct teaching of English Language & Literature and a more coherent curriculum on English History.   He also placed emphasis on maths and the sciences.  The policies he outlined are good though he frequently seemed to equate attending a State school with being 'poor'.

Gove introduced an American chap called Canada - sorry, I can't remember his first name because I was childishly taken up with the anomaly.  He was good and spoke with a passion about education.  If his is the route the Conservatives will go down with education, I won't fault them.

Ken Clarke used a substantial part of his speech to remind everyone that he's Mr Yesterday (ie 'Been it, done it, got the t-shirt').  He spoke about his plan to allow prisoners to work in return for wages, the majority of which will be deducted and go towards the cost of their own imprisonment and their victims.  'Wages' that the taxpayer will pay.

There's also talk of prisoners paying tax on their 'wages'.   Anyone who pays tax is entitled to vote.  Just saying - nod, wink, blind horse and all that.

I can't warm to Theresa May, she seems a cold fish and her speech was uninspiring but said all the right things: tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime.  No more hate-preachers (which could, once again, include Michael Savage and Geert Wilders), no more ASBOs.  Perhaps we'll see a return of the offence of 'breach of the peace'?  Too much talk about restitution and victims rather than anything concrete about offenders or sentencing and the courts.

Andrew Lansley on the NHS was good.  Sounds promising.  Like Gove, he genuinely seems to care, which in itself is surprising after years of Labour spin, dross and non-delivery.

Iain Duncan-Smith was also surprisingly good when he spoke about welfare reform.  It made sense to me but he was another one who spoke about 'the poor'.

Fraser Nelson of the Spectator conducted an informal chat with three former welfare dependants, one of whom 'had experience of the criminal justice system', where they explained why the benefits system was falling down.

Andrew Mitchell (International Development) definitely had the best presentation but the content didn't live up to it.  The Westminster govt takes our taxes, the EC takes our taxes and both use a proportion to give aid to other countries with mixed results.  A video of Afghanistan was shown to the audience but couldn't be televised because of some archaic rules so I can't comment on whether this govt thinks our Armed Forces are there on an Aid & Sustainable Development mission.

Tim Montgomerie of Conservative Home spoke in support of Mitchell and the 'generosity of the British people' and he, in turn, was supported by Jehangir Malik, the director of Islamic Relief.  Carolyn Makinson, executive director of International Rescue Committee then spoke of 'challenging times' in Afghanistan and Africa.

There weren't many jokes (the previous govt spending £7m setting up a scheme to teach 2-4yr olds about 'global ish-ews' was called "potty training";  the Milibands were likened to a '"music hall act") but it was noticeable, at least for me because it's one of my bugbears, that the word 'power' has been replaced by 'office'.

The Ministers delivered their speeches in a pitiful and abject way: they stuttered and paused for applause when none was warranted.  Someone had written their speeches and even typed in the word  'pause' - are they really so stupid?  It was embarrassing for me and I was only watching a recording on the tv so goodness knows what it was like to be in the audience.  Will someone please tell them not to speak in such a halting, disconnected way and *just* talk.

Note to politicians: Don't expect your every sentence to be greeted by the waving of palm leaves.  It might also be a good idea to stop referring to the working class as 'the poor' - try 'salt of the earth' or backbone of Britain' instead.

I'll trawl around for some videos.


This one shows how the BBC link was conveniently 'lost' yesterday after Osborne made a joke, of sorts, about the Milibands - and I thought I was the only paranoiac here:

More videos as and when.

Ken Clarke insists he's still a 'tough, reforming Minister':

May bans low-cost alcohol and reforms Licensing Act (embedding disabled)

Ah, well, I thought Lansley's was a well-delivered speech with good content but this is all I can find and it doesn't bear out my thoughts:


  1. "the word 'power' has been replaced by 'office'"

    Rather appropriate for this lot and the last shower, GV, in office but not in power!

  2. Yes, good point, Spidey. It really gets my goat to hear politicians talking about being in power though. Arrogant bunch!


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