2,664 comments posted · 133 followers · following 5

4 hours ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Ryan Bourne: Johnson's... · 0 replies · +1 points

Well said.

7 hours ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Lord Ashcroft: Labour ... · 0 replies · +1 points

Looking at the manifestos, the Conservative one is very thin, it indicates a direction away from austerity but, given the record of inluential MPs like Raab, and the mood of members as I can see here, I don't believe that they will actually do anything different. The Labour manifesto is in the same direction but unrealistic in terms of scope and timing - they should have talked about nationalising railways and utilities, that would have been more credible. Plus, hey would like to establish a Nordic/German style social democracy, wch I rather like, but that would require a log-term change of culture and the development of an industrial background which simply isn't there. Of the two parties, based on the manifestos, I'd rather have Labour.

If one looks at the people, well, very little tolike. The Conservative team is flimsy,BJ is not a liar simply because he is not a man for details, or, more bluntly, he is clueless. he rest are at best mediocre. Ditto for Labor, a very unimpressive team. Corbyn has shown good judgment in some of his votes in the past - consistently against foreign interventions, which is good. He likes disreputable regimes (Venezuela), but so do the Conservatives (Saudi Arabia). Not much difference there. As far as antsemitism is concerned, I think Labour has a problem bu it has been blown out of proportion. His support fr Hamas, hezbollah and the rest , and the IRA aims in the past - that's bad, but again, the Conservatives were not much against apartheid SA, or Saudi Arabia. In foreign polcy, both sides have supported criminal regimes in the name of perceived national interest, which may or may not be a good thing - but again, not much difference.

In terms of personal interest, as a pensioner living in Spain a Tory success would be good for me in that the pound would stay higher - but that's a rather narrow reason for a vote, and besides, in the medium and long term the value of the pound will depend on other factors.

About Brexit, I thought it irrelevant before and I haven't seen anything to change my mind.

21 hours ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Lord Ashcroft: Labour ... · 2 replies · +1 points

I never had a clear political home, just voted Conservative by default with the exception of the GEs when they had IDS, Hague or Howard as leaders - I couldn't stand any of them. They have no real programme right now, well, very flimsy; it looks like they are veering to the left in economic policy, but I don't really trust them to do that for real - at the first hint of recession they'll use our old friend TINA to veer back to safe Thatcherite terrain.

1 day ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Lord Ashcroft: Labour ... · 4 replies · +1 points

The focus on antisemitism may have resulted in an underestimate of the vote for Labour. With people being told by all and sundry that voting Labour is antisemitic and immoral, it is possible that some people who intend to vote Labour have simply kept quiet about it. I would not be surprised if the vote for Labour turned out to be higher than expected.

4 weeks ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Newslinks for Sunday 1... · 0 replies · +1 points

“How can that rotten, discredited ideology be winning converts even in places which have never experienced it, such as Britain and the United States? Part of the answer, obviously, is that younger voters have no memory of the Cold War. When supporters of Jeremy Corbyn or Bernie Sanders call for socialism, they don’t imagine the East German version, or the Cuban version, or the Venezuelan version or any other actual example. They want an imaginary, pure, democratic, cuddly socialism. They want equality and social justice without the one-party state or the locking up of dissidents.” Might they want social-democracy, Swedish style? If the Pope is a Communist (to some American conservatives), the word communist means nothing - and perhaps the word socialist means very little too.

4 weeks ago @ http://www.conservativ... - ConHome’s election p... · 0 replies · +1 points

Nothing wrong with optimism, I think, provided it isn't the silly "everything will be great" variety. The narrative of change is more difficult because the Conservatives have been in charge for nine years. Given the spending pledges that are being proposed, the change is from austerity to investment. Does it mean that austerity was wrong (and so by implication Labour was right in opposing it)? Or does it mean that austerity has done its intended job (tricky, that) and so now spending is appropriate?

And about spending - how is it to be financed? Higher taxes, borrowing, some re-cooked PFI?

Social mobility is good, but unless good jobs (the sort that lets a person raise a family and in time buy a house) are available, not much point in having more grammar schools or technical colleges or whatever: with a static pool of jobs, upward mobility has to be matched by downward mobility.

From what has been said so far, I see no serious answers to any of that (serious meaning, detailed enough beyond soundbites and cliches). Seriousness should also be shown in rebutting Labour policies: crying socialist and Venezuela won't do, and as regards capitalism, it comes in different flavours - Nordic and German, not Just US or UK. Which one should we go for? These things should out there and be discussed.

4 weeks ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Stephen Laws: Post-ele... · 0 replies · +1 points

The last two paragraphs of this article make me feel a bit uneasy. The notion that the electorate has a say only at the time of general election is good in normal times, but it is easy to imagine situations where the elected Parliament does not do what it promised to do at election time. For example: if a government has a very small majority and loses it, it may decide to call a new GE - but it may decide to form a coalition with a smaller party and, in the process, may renege on parts of its manifesto. This is after all what the Liberal Democrats did by abandoning their pledge about tuition fees. Now, this is a relatively minor matter - but suppose that the coalition is with a party of somewhat extreme views, and there is a pact to legislate in a way that is well beyond what the main parties promised. I think that there should be a mechanism for the electorate to force a GE - or to abrogate, maybe via a referendum any legislation which is felt to be against the promises of the party or parties in power.

I am also uneasy about the whole concept of the sovereignty of the people, through parliament of through referenda, being supreme and not being possible to challenge it via the courts. Again, suppose that a government decides to renege on some fundamental principle, for example the equality of all citizens before the law, irrespective of gender, race, religious and political belief. I think that it should be possible for a very high court to stop such legislation. Certain things should be above the will of the people, in my view.

5 weeks ago @ http://www.conservativ... - The MPs we deserve · 0 replies · +1 points

There are some data here (in Spanish): http://www.mscbs.gob.es/organizacion/sns/docs/fin.... The local (regional) authorities fund nearly 90% of the expenditure; the remaining 10% comes from central government, and from something similar to National Insurance paid by certain categories of workers (for example, the self-employed). The 90% provided by local authorities comes chiefly from local taxation - but it is worth noting that taxpayers pay about half of their taxes to central government, and some of that goes back to local authorities as grants, which can be used to fund health. So, the 90% all comes from taxes, but some of them go directly to the regional authority, some go there indirectly through a central redistribution system.

5 weeks ago @ http://www.conservativ... - The MPs we deserve · 3 replies · +1 points

Your reply to my comment has disappeared, but I read it in my email. I was about to answer that here in Spain the public health system is funded by a combination of regional and national taxes, with most people paying about half of the cost of medicines. Most people have a private health insurance, which also covers dentistry. I have read that the cost of medical care in Spain is rather lower than in the UK.

My experience of the Andalusian version of the public health system has been good so far. The place where I live is developing and population is increasing, but waiting lists are not bad - two to three months for major surgery, which I think is reasonable for non-urgent treatment.

5 weeks ago @ http://www.conservativ... - The MPs we deserve · 0 replies · +1 points

Yes, I think that, short of a wholesale re-design of the system, the select committees might be the solution. Their structure may not be the best, but they are already doing very good work. The book by Hardman gives some good examples of that.