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Moving On From Rochester…

By Sara Scarlett
November 25th, 2014 at 1:30 am | 2 Comments | Posted in coalition, Government, Leadership, Liberal Democrats, UK Politics

Lord Unappealing is attempting to make himself relevant again by opining on something for which he does at least have historic expertise, by-elections.

His number crunching is no doubt correct, the slightly vacuous plea for better tactics could also no doubt have delivered a better result than 342 votes, the strategic insight though is entirely lacking.

The Liberal Democrat brand, outside areas where local quality outshines national performance is poison. This in no small part due to a series of self-inflicted disasters from casual flip-flopping on policy to covering up for undesirable characters. Something for which the Party’s former seat grabber is more than a little responsible.

It is an organisation which has a lot of very nice people in it, some with good ideas, but in which no one takes responsibility for anything. It has no clear sense of direction, or consistency. It displays no sign that it knows what to do about it.

That is a hard sell for a by-election where narrative matters as much as tactics.

Matters will improve for the Party after the next election. That is unless it is in Government again, in which case it is unlikely. They will improve when Nick Clegg has been replaced, most likely by Tim Farron. Nick’s stock is so low he could cure cancer and still attract headlines for failing to stop Ebola. Tim at least has a down to earth appeal and sense of integrity the Party badly needs.

Good tactics will help, but they’re icing not the cake. UKIP is amply demonstrating that you don’t need svengali election gurus to win. You do need a good story and motivated base. And I strongly suspect that has much more to do with the success of ‘Rennardism’ in the 90s, than the unhealthy myths he allowed to be built up around himself and the ‘campaign cult’.

The danger for the Party in the next 5 years is that it continues to live in an introverted little bubble of ancestor worship for past glory that has little relevance to the mire it is in today. It’s a very serious risk given the Party even now still divides between people who want to fight Thatcher and those that want to fight Brown, both long gone. It will have a Parliamentary group where an aging group of peers outnumber MPs by 3-4:1, and several of them still act in a way that revolts the new generation. The Commons group may be entirely pale and male.

The next Leader then faces a challenge. Build a story that matters to the public and people who might wish to support it. Or live in the past, and pander to it. You can’t though do both. The Party needs to move on from fighting the last by-election.

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Attention: Conference Delegates!

By Sara Scarlett
October 4th, 2014 at 10:40 am | No Comments | Posted in conference

Remember, if you’re going to Glasgow, ensure you’re protected -

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You can buy this stuff off Amazon for a mere £13.70.

Have fun!

Does Anyone Trust The Tories On Human Rights?

By Sara Scarlett
October 3rd, 2014 at 9:38 am | 3 Comments | Posted in EU

The principle purpose of the Human Rights Act and the related ECHR is to protect ordinary citizens from the populist predations of their own Government. The UK ban on homosexuals in the military being a good example. It is a good purpose and one enhanced by being detached from the institutions of the Nation States upon which it comments.

The Conservatives principle objection is one of national sovereignty. Individual Ministers tend to get frothy-mouthed over trivia like prisoner votes and not sending vile bastards back home to be tortured by the other vile bastards, but the central issue is the supremacy of Parliament.

That being the case it is hard to believe that a Conservative version of the same established by a UK bill of rights would offer the same protection from the State as the ECHR. If they don’t like the ruling they’d vote it out on a simple majority rather than change the underlying right. That is very prone to knee jerk populism.

There is a subsidiary issue as to whether the Court works as designed. Are judges exceeding their authority? To which I am unconvinced on the issue, and feel the answer would be reform, not leaving.

Evil Systems vs. Evil Individuals

By Sara Scarlett
October 2nd, 2014 at 4:30 pm | No Comments | Posted in BBC, Crime

Another day, another war and I’ve been thinking a lot lately about evil systems versus evil individuals. When it comes to doing evil, individuals that carry out, or are perceived to be carrying out, evils are more readily demonized than systems that carry out larger evils. Take, for example, Hitler versus the Soviet Union. Despite the number of dead in the Soviet Union surpassing the number of dead in Nazi Germany, Hitler is demonized in a way that the Soviet Union is not. I’ve often wondered why this is. Could it be that the qualitative nature of Hitler’s actions were more evil than the nature of the Soviet Unions actions? I don’t think that passes scrutiny. The qualitative nature of the Holodomor is just as horrific, in it’s own way, as the Holocaust was. The only difference is responsibility for the Holocaust is pinned on one individual and the responsibility for the Holodomor is pinned on the Soviet Union, a system, rather than just Stalin.

I get the sense that the international community is more eager to chase down evil individuals than evil systems. Even on a state-level, we are far more eager to chase down individuals rather than reform rotten systems. That’s been shown to be true especially in the wake of the historic sex offence scandals. Individuals are demonised in the national papers in a way that rotten systems rarely are. It’s a cop out. It’s just easier that way but what’s easiest is rarely what’s right.

Why ObamaCare Champions Disgust Me

By Sara Scarlett
October 2nd, 2014 at 4:27 pm | No Comments | Posted in health, US Politics, Welfare State

One of the criticisms that was leveled against me on LDV recently was that I don’t support ObamaCare. No, I do not support ObamaCare. I am ferociously proud of the fact that I do not and have never supported ObamaCare. Here are two very good reasons reasons why:

ObamaCare in no way changed the structural problems inherent in the US Healthcare system. ObamaCare just involved more people in the system through the coercion of others. ObamaCare is legislation that forces people to buy a private product. That is quite possibly the most illiberal legislation that has been passed in recent years. Obama handed consumers to the Insurance Companies on a plate. There is now no escape from this sad, corporatist mess now the option of remaining consciously uninsured has gone.

ObamaCare does not extend health care to everyone. Not even close and we’re talking millions of people. ObamaCare has not meant Universal Coverage. There are now many, many Americans paying higher taxes who still don’t have health care.

The structural problems of the US health care system are still a long way off being dealt with and that’s a shame. A missed opportunity, even. The best health care models are those found on the Continent and that has remained true both before and after ObamaCare was passed.