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Archive for the ‘Conservatives’ Category

Oh dear.  Things just keep getting worse for Gordon Brown.  The budget, which wasn’t exactly a roaring success, has been and gone and ‘Smeargate’ and the Jacqui Smith expenses scandal have severely dented his government’s credibility.

But just when it looked like things couldn’t get any worse for our embattled PM, his proposed reform of the Parliamentary expenses system has failed to win any support in the House of Commons. 

Gordon Brown: Smiling, but for how much longer? (Photo: Flickr: creative commons - World Economic Form)

Gordon Brown: Smiling, but for how much longer? (Photo: Flickr: Creative Commons - World Economic Form)

Not that this should surprise anyone: the plans, which would have enabled MPs to clock in each day to prove that they were in Westminster, would in some cases have enabled MPs to claim more than they do under the present system.

What is most embarrassing for the Prime Minister, however, is the speed with which the scheme has been rejected by many Labour backbench MPs.  It is this that signals that even his own party has now all but given up on him.

After a succession of damaging revelations and a poor budget, it finally appears that Gordon Brown has lost all credibility. 

Whilst even three months ago it was by no means certain that the Conservatives would come to power in the next General Election as they floundered around to offer the public viable alternatives to Labour’s economic policies, now it seems more and more likely that David Cameron will be our next Prime Minister.

Gordon Brown and his cabinet have done all the work for the Conservatives.  Indeed, the Conservatives have had to do very little to destabilise the present Labour government:  They have certainly not announced any policies of note in recent months which have given the public any greater confidence in their ability to govern.

Despite this, however, there has been a subtle change in the attitude of the mass media and the public over the past two or three weeks in relation to the Conservatives.

Now a Tory election victory suddenly seems almost inevitable.

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Today, Michael Gove revealed Tory plans to turn thousands of primary schools into independent, state-funded academies if David Cameron wins the next General Election.

The ambitious plans, which would be implemented within two years of a Conservative election victory, would represent sweeping reform of the primary school education.

Accusing Gordon Brown of  “slow strangulation” of the academy programme Gove said:
 “we are carrying forward the Blair agenda in education to where he would have wanted to take it.”
Michael Gove (Photo: Flickr: Creative Commons -Steve Punter)

Michael Gove (Photo: Flickr: Creative Commons -Steve Punter)

Whilst these plans have been criticised in some quarters for being ill-thought out and signalling a move towards deregulation and consequently social segregation, it has to be said that these plans may well have an extremely positive impact on British education.

City academies, the brainchild of Tony Blair, have been successful in turning around under-performing schools in disadvantaged areas.  At a time when, according to the Tories at least, 34,000 11-year-olds have a reading age below that expected of a six year old and a lack of education is thought to be a contributing factor in the recent rise of violent youth crime, these plans are to be applauded.

Children from disadvantaged areas and who lack an education face incredible obstacles on the path to a successful career and many end up ‘falling off the rails’.  A good and comprehensive education must start when children are young, and I firmly believe that primary school education plays a vitally important role in child development.

Any moves to implement much-needed education reform, despite the dire economic crisis, must be welcomed and are imperative if we are to ensure that a generation of British school children is not failed by our education system.

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Today’s much heralded budget was, well, a bit of an anticlimax really.  Commentators who said that this was a make-or-break day for Alistair Darling and Labour will, most likely, conclude that the Chancellor did not succeed in delivering a budget that will pull the UK out of recession.

Alistair Darling: Bearer of bad news (Photo: Flickr: Creative Commons - HM Treasury)

Alistair Darling: Bearer of bad news (Photo: Flickr: Creative Commons - HM Treasury)

The Times, quite rapidly it must be said, certainly came to this conclusion early this afternoon and the Telegraph soon followed suit.  Darling, it seems, has not fulfilled the expectations of a nation. 

Indeed, many of the announcements made today indicate that the Government has almost admitted defeat in the face of the global slowdown.  Certainly, the 50% tax on the highest earners will do little to improve the economic situation and comes across as a token effort on behalf of Labour to clamp down on some of the City Boys who helped get us into this mess.

However, despite David Cameron’s clear derision for Labour’s plan for healing the financial wounds of the country, the depth and scale of the crisis and inability of leaders around the globe, not just Gordon Brown, to implement a workable strategy to bring the world out of recession suggests that a Tory government would not do much better.

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PMQs today was another display of British politics at it’s very best.  Accusations of behaving like  student politicians were rife as Brown and Cameron tore into each other yet again during their weekly sparring sessions. Yet watching the nation’s leader and his potential successor spar like two amateurs at the Oxford Union is part of the appeal of PMQs, and makes the sessions seem almost like a (slightly bizarre) guilty pleasure.

And whatever one might think of PMQs as a responsible or indeed irresponsible facet of British politics, arguably these sessions allow the nation, or at least those who bother to switch on, the opportunity to examine the country’s two most recognisable politicians under pressure.  And PMQs today was no less helpful for demonstrating that the Prime Minister’s protestations that what our economy faces is a global crisis are increasingly wearing thin.

The US and Europe did indeed enter recession a year before Britain, a recession which was brought on by lax financial regulation across the board.  But simply because no other country recognised the need to impose stricter controls on their respective financial systems does not let Brown off the hook. 

He has recently revelled in his reputation as the Prime Minister who had the economic nous to demonstrate to the world how to implement rescue packages sufficient to halt the meltdown of the financial system last autumn.  And as Chancellor he cultivated an intimate and sophisticated knowledge of how our economy works. 

All of this really does beg one important question, a question which, I believe, the next General Election will be won and lost on.

If Brown really is the financial whizz-kid he has recently made himself out to be, why he did not see the recession coming and, perhaps even more pertinently, why he did not attempt to regulate the untamed monster that is The City years ago when he was making his name as Chancellor?

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