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Saturday, November 27, 2004

Proud of Britain

New Labour have launched a website aimed at cornering the nationalist vote. They want us to e-mail them: "We want to know what makes you proud of Britain. Whether it's the staff at your local hospital or teachers at a great school near you, share the stories from your community. There is so much to be proud of in Britain. So let's hear about it." The problem is, as Matthew Turner reports they are only posting comments that they agree with. This has prompted others to set up alternative sites along the same lines. Chris Lightfoot has produced www.proudofbritain.net whilst www.proud-of-britain.org.uk is a particularly effective parody including:

We want to know what makes you proud of Britain. Whether it's:
invading another country to get rid of weapons of mass destruction that weren't there;
contracts for ripoff PPPs being given to Labour's friends in industry;

David Blunkett spending 50 grand of YOUR money on hiring a PR man to 'market' ID cards to you.

Their disclaimer sums up the whole New Labour exercise brilliantly:

Disclaimer: The Labwar Party may edit your comments beyond recognition and can guarantee that any emails that are even a tiny bit negative about New Labour will NOT be published.

We cannot guarantee that every contribution will be posted on the site, as that would imply some sort of commitment to freedom of speech on our part. And we can't have that or Mr Blunkett will get upset!

When selecting contributions to post on the page we try to reflect the range of pro-Blair opinions that have been expressed and the geographical spread of participants. We will not publish anything that is obscene, racist, sexist or homophobic, unless it was written by Rocco Buttiglione. Nor will we publish anything that is potentially defamatory, unless it concerns George Galloway.

To maximise the chance of your contribution being published please be fulsome in your praise of Mr Blair and New Labour.

Thanks very much.

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If you cannot keep up why are you commenting? In fact why are you commenting at all when you do not understand the issues and you get your facts wrong? It is you who are out of your depth.

(1) The Liberal Democrat MEPs made clear their intention to vote against Buttiglone.
(2) We have no ideological opposition to PPPs if they are best value. Often they are not. The point of the quotation however was the awarding of contract as part of the old boys network, something I do oppose strongly.
(3) It is not and never has been party policy to privatise the Post Office. That is a deliberate misreading of the policy document in question for political advantage.
(4) Mark Oaten's opposition to ID cards is entirely principled and practical, as you would know if you followed the arguments he uses. No doubt you will justify your claim that he voted for them by quoting chapter and verse. I look forward to that but I think it highly unlikely that he voted for them in their current proposed form.
(5) Liberal Democrats policy has always opposed the privatisation and break-up of the railways.
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Haven't got the guts to admit you were wrong!
Here it is again - read it now before the "liberal" democrat censors it

1) You are either badly informed or a liar. Graham Watson, both a British Lib Dem MEP and leader of the Lib Dem MEPs said he was in favour of voting in the commission with Buttiglone.
(2) Have you any evidence for this very serious charge?
(3) What does this mean then? ... we are increasingly coming to the view that a privatised Post Office... on Dutch lines could have a better chance of succeeding than the current structure. (In case you are wondering it is from a Lib Dem policy document)
(4)Mark Oaten voted for a private members bill in favour an ID card only two years ago. So what changed, his principles , or his job (he became home affairs spokesman)?
(5) You'd better get a fire extinguisher to put out that blaze in your trousers. Lib Dems advocated the franchising of the railways in 1992. What else would that be but "privatisation and break up"?

Get a grip and try telling the truth.
I have removed the last post by Hornsey Grrl as I do not intend to allow abusive comments to stand on this blog. However, to answer the substantive points she makes:

(1) Graham Watson put out two statements on behalf of the ALDE group in the European Parliament on 21 October and 26 October making it clear that the Liberals could not support Buttiglone.
(2) There is a long and documented history of PPP projects benefiting the public servants who put them in place.
(3) The passage does not relate to Post Offices but to the Royal Mail. Even then it is taken out of context within the document. The policy paper states clearly in para 4.2.6 that "Liberal Democrats have campaigned strongly against the precipitate and large scale closure of post offices under the so-called Urban Reinvention programme." These little tricks are becoming quite commonplace in Labour by-election campaigns.
(4) Whatever Mark Oaten voted for it is a different proposition than the one that we have in front of us now, which is a real danger to civil liberties, unsustainable, expensive and unworkable. Also what Mark Oaten or any other MP votes for in a private members bill does not make it party policy.
(5) I am not aware of any vote in 1992 to franchise the railways. Perhaps we can have chapter and verse. There have been seven Transport policy papers I can find since then of course. It should be noted of course that despite their opposition at the time the Labour Party have not reversed this decision. Current Liberal Democrat Policy is to reform the franchise system in the interests of passenger service.
So explain to us what the difference is between privatising the Royal Mail and privatising the Post Office? And why does the document refer to the Post Office?

Graham Watson did not say what you claim. he said he thought the majority of LDR MEPs would vote against Buttligione, but he reserved his personal position. In the LDR group he argued for endorsement of Buttligione and lost the vote.

So, it's the civil servants who are on the take and not the Labour politicians? Where is your extensive record and what did you do about this when the Lib Dems were in government?

I see that Mark Oaten's "principled" opposition to ID cards has now collapsed into a question of practicalities. For what it's worth, mark oaten voted for ID cards to be introduced in January 2002. Perhaps you'd enlighten us as to the ways in which what he voted for then is different to what's on offer now?

And the fact that you haven't read the [policy document doesn't invalidate my arguement - the Lib dems were indeed the first to argue for a franchised rail system and went to the country in 1992 on that proposition. There is nothing wrong with admitting you got it wrong Peter (even the Tories have managed that). But there is everything wrong with denying that your party said it.
You dont give up do you? These wild assertions do not make a case. They are increasingly desperate smears on a par with the worst of New Labour.

(1) As I said the passage on the Royal Mail was taken out of context but just to help you this organisation delivers letters. The preference in the document was to reform it on the Dutch model but that is unlikely to appear in the manifesto as it is not developed policy. The Post Office is the organisation that runs the Post Office Counter network. This is the network that New Labour is seeking to systematically destroy.
(2) I have referred to two documents that confirm precisely that Graham Watson did say what I claim. In any court of law that is considered evidence. Where is yours to justify your misinformed view? The fact is that the ALDE group provided the leverage to ensure that Buttligone had to go. I think that record speaks for itself.
(3) The only person who has implied that anybody is "on the take" is you. I do not believe that anybody is behaving corruptly. Also I did not refer to Civil Servants but to Public Servants. That includes politicians as well. There are numerous examples (including in the latest Private Eye) of an unhealthy cross-fertilisation between Public Servants and the PPP sector.
(4) I do not speak for Mark Oaten but his principled stand against these proposals for ID cards are based on the fact that they are illiberal. There are already entries on this blog explaining why that is. As I said Party policy is to oppose the current proposals which are markedly different to those in 2002. You are capable of making that comparison yourself but the 2002 proposals would not have found favour with me or the party either.
(5) I think I can state quite categorically that there was no policy to privatise the railways in the 1992 Liberal Democrat manifesto. The fact that you say there was does not make it so. You seem very short on documented proof in your comments. I have already set out current policy and do not propose to repeat myself. I have also pointed out that Labour commitments to reverse this process were reneged on.
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Apologies. Posted the same thing twice by mistake. But no, I don't give up and if you are demanding proof you'd better be prepared to be humiliated. All in good time.
Hornsey Grrl wrote:

>> You certainly have some brass neck.
>> It was the leader of the Lib Dem MEPs who wanted to
>> vote in Buttiglone, Labour MEPs opposed him.

Whoops. You should read Private Eye, hornsey grrl. You might learn something. From Eye 1119, page 6:

"Quick to claim praise for his own role in the MEPs' campaign to humble the commission president (Barroso withdrew his list of candidates rather than be humiliated in a vote) was the leader of the British Euro MEPs, Gary Titley.

"But Titley's stance was news to most of his colleagues, who had seen their brave leader prevaricate on television the night before the planned vote, saying that 'no decision had yet been made'.

"In fact, behind the scenes and on the advice of the government Titley had been urging colleagues to vote 'yes' to Barroso's list of new commissioners so as not to disrupt the whole process. Meanwhile another staunch defender of gay rights, new trade commissioner Peter Mandelson, attended a meeting of the Socialist Group and accused furious MEPs of being 'tribal and infantile' in their opposition to the gay-hating Buttiglione".
Ouch. I feel your pain, hornsey grrl. I really do. :)
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