Saturday, May 08, 2010

Some Humble Opinions On the British General Election and Aftermath

In the wake of a General Election result in Britain which has left the United Kingdom with a hung Parliament and plenty of political uncertainty, there is no small amount of discussion about what Conservative Leader David Cameron should do. Cameron has offered to make an arrangement for a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats, a move that would have been unthinkable not 72 hours ago:

During one of the most extraordinary days in British political history, the
Conservative leader made an unprecedented “big, open and comprehensive offer” to the Liberal Democrats after the election ended in the first hung parliament for 36 years.
To the astonishment of many at Westminster and beyond, Mr Brown stubbornly refused to accept election defeat despite Labour losing almost 100 seats.

Instead, the Prime Minister attempted to woo the Liberal Democrat leader with a power-sharing offer of his own.

After a night in which the Tories had appeared confident of securing an overall majority, Mr Cameron looked shell-shocked as he addressed a press conference at which he outlined a ground-breaking and, until yesterday, unthinkable offer to the Liberal Democrats.

Mr Cameron, who had declared that Labour had lost its right to govern, outlined the areas of policy agreement between the Conservatives and Lib Dems, which offered “a strong basis for a strong government”.

The Tory leader made clear that while he was prepared to offer Mr Clegg concessions on tax, education, climate change and civil liberties he would not move on the crucial policy areas of immigration, Europe and the Trident missile system. He would also only offer the Lib Dems an all-party inquiry into electoral reform.

It has been established even by people within Gordon Brown's own Labour Party that the current Prime Minister is a selfish, arrogant, pompous jackass. He also has no real regard for the results of an election that, while not making the Conservatives the majority party, has clearly made them the largest one. It is as if the British electorate has said with a loud voice "we aren't yet sure if we want the Tories, but we are bloody sure that we don't want you, weasel."

Amidst the discussion of what the Conservatives are to do comes a rather frightening suggestion from former Conservative (defeated) cabinet minister Michael Portillo:

The prospect of ditching the Tory party Right wing is hardly dismaying. A new centre Right grouping (New Conservatives?) would probably find it easier to win under any system than the old Conservatives did on Thursday night. The British people have voted for new politics, and Cameron is poised to deliver it.
Portillo's idea of simply ditching the Conservative Party's actual small-c "conservatives" is workable only if the Conservative Party, which would then not have terribly many conservatives in it, is poised to accept that it may never have a workable majority again. Instead, David Cameron needs to ask himself why it is that his party did not win an outright majority:

Dave had to fight a widely despised Prime Minister leading a Government incompetent and destructive on a scale unseen in living memory. Seldom has there been a softer target; but seldom has one been missed so unnecessarily. With just 36 per cent of the vote, the Tories stood almost still since 2005. They are now on their knees to their other enemy, the Lib Dems.

It should not have come to this. As I rang round Tory MPs some were incandescent at the conduct not just of the campaign, but of the whole anti-core vote strategy that has alienated many natural Tory voters.

But let us not forget that the roots of this problem go back to 2005. The party has chosen to mimic and validate the policies of its opponents, with the result that the public found little to choose between the main parties. This was exemplified in the television debates, in which the leaders fell over themselves to agree not only with any contention put to them by the public, but even with each other.

The party spoke with a clear voice: the voice of neo-Blairism, of flannel, and not a voice of conservative principle. This should not have surprised any reader of this column, for I have long maintained that Mr Cameron is not a conservative. His slogans of social democracy – "hope, not fear" and, of course, "change" – simply presented a warm bath of sentiment to a people who wanted specific details of what would be done to rescue our country from the economic knackers' yard. No wonder it was so straightforward for him to hold out the hand of friendship to the Lib Dems: he almost is one.

The Tory Party needs to articulate not only policy differences with their Labour and Liberal Democrat opponents-something that they do seem to have done effectively when observed from this side of the pond-but real, clear, and sustainable philosophical differences. Some who are familiar with my personal political views and writing may say "now Oatney, it sounds like you are just saying all of this because you are a right-winger yourself." It is a fair point, but I'm saying it because it has a much larger and, in a sense, universal political application. If I have learned anything from my own interaction with politics and my personal political experiences it is that a political party needs both wings to fly. I have real differences with the moderates in my own Republican Party, but I am not so politically naive as to believe that life will become easier for us politically if we just throw the moderates out. You put far more pressure on your right leg when you cut off your left leg. Similarly, if Britain's Conservative Party makes the deadly mistake of cutting off it's "strong Right arm," it will be left with a weakened Left arm that won't look terribly much different to voters than Labour, or even the Liberal Democrats. Power means little to decent people without real principles behind it.

The well-exposed Conservative Member of the European Parliament Daniel Hannan thinks that a deal for a coalition government with the liberal Democrats is a real possibility under the circumstances:

Is it possible to reach an accommodation with the Lib Dems based on fiscal tightening? I think so. The two parties are divided over timing, not principle. On the campaign trail, Nick Clegg claimed that deferring the cuts was a whizz-bang piece of Keynesian pump-priming. But he is privately aware that postponement will make the cuts more painful when they come – as the Greeks are now discovering. With polling day out of the way, Cleggie no longer has any reason to deny the truth.

Both parties, meanwhile, want to scrap ID cards and reverse some of the more statist legislation passed by Labour in the guise of anti-terrorism measures. Both agree that our political system needs renewal. Both want recall mechanisms, popular initiative procedures, reform of the Upper House, fewer MPs, a shift in power from Whips to backbenchers and from executive to legislature. These things would have a far more tangible and benign impact on our political system than proportional representation.

Proportional representation is the hue and cry of political formations the world over-both those on the Left and on the Right-that can't win a free and fair election if they tried to buy one. Britain's Liberal Democrats have proven that even with better political leadership, they still don't have anything remotely approaching the confidence of the electorate in that country, so proportional representation is their only hope to amount to anything. The Conservatives are right to resist the idea unless they want to be left trying to cobble together coalitions in future with the likes of the British National Party, which could win seats under a proportional representation scheme.

To govern as Prime Minister in the present, however, David Cameron will need a coalition with his other political rivals, the Liberal Democrats. The wise thing to do would not be to sell out on proportional representation, but to accomplish electoral reform in other ways, such as more even constituencies to give votes an equal weight. Oh, and a real referendum on membership in the European Union, one that Euro-skeptics may very well win, is something Cameron and the Conservatives should consider to make themselves truly distinguishable from Labour or the Lib Dems.

David Cameron has an excellent chance to use coalition government to show the British public why the Conservatives should again be given a chance to govern Britain outright-if he doesn't blow it.

Just a few humble thoughts from the other side of the water...

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, May 07, 2010

National Press Thinks Nashville Is Not Important

The national media has ignored the Nashville floods because Tennessee is not in their vision of America:

Allow me to distill all of this chatter into a reality that some of us have known for a long time-that if it doesn't happen in New York, Chicago, Miami or Los Angeles or some other haven of the Left, it isn't news. The reasons for this are not political of course, because most reporters for the major national media outlets live in or near those those places, so for many of them those places are a big part of their personal universe. The things that are important to the people in those locations often seem to color the mainstream media's perception of what should remain news.

Labels: ,

Thursday, May 06, 2010

U.K. Election Live

Thanks to the BBC, we can bring you coverage of the election in Britain live.

Labels: ,

The Squeeze Is On

Bill Haslam, it seems, is putting on the squeeze:

Apparently, Bill Haslam now feels that the political situation is such that he and his campaign can begin to close the pincers around his intra-party opposition. It has long been something of an accepted piece of wisdom that Bill Gibbons' presence in the campaign was helping both of Bill Haslam's opponents by taking Shelby County's votes off the table. Memphis and Shelby County are hardly paragons of conservative Republicanism-Shelby County is heavily Democratic-but the sheer size of the population of Shelby County means that it has more Republican Primary voters than any other Tennessee county, including those in traditionally GOP-heavy East Tennessee.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

What the Results Say

Voters speak in a surprising "diss" to the local establishment:

I had expected that the popular State Senator was going to win, and deservedly so because of how hard he had campaigned. However, this result was almost cruel to Tim Hutchison, who had served so long as Knox County Sheriff and not terribly long ago enjoyed popularity ratings that made him one of the most popular Sheriffs in the State and certainly one of the most well-liked in Knox County's recent history. Black Wednesday sullied Hutchison's reputation, perhaps permanently, and it may be that after such a landslide defeat that Hutchison's career in elected office is effectively at a close.
The Republican Primary was going to decide the county mayor's race, Jefferson Countians knew this. One of the things that I knew was that County Mayor Alan Palmieri was very beatable, but only if he had one opponent. A three-man race benefits Palmieri because he has formed a stable base that will stay with him. Both Daryl Brady and Bob Cavanah ran good-to-great campaigns, but to win both needed not only to have good early voting numbers, but a high turnout on Election Day itself, and in areas of the county where they are known to be strong-and the latter did not manifest itself.

Labels: , , , , ,

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Same Day Primary

Tennessee should consider having both local and State primary elections on the same day:

One thing this experience has caused me to believe is that our local and State primaries in Tennessee should no longer be divided-one held in May and the other in August-both the local and State primaries should be held on the same day in May. County government calendars in Tennessee should be reformed to allow for county general elections on the same day that many the State and many small towns have their election-on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November, with winners taking office in either December (county) or January (State). August could be reserved for special elections and "emergency" ballot issues. The State and county election commissions would have to deal with a much longer ballot, but could save precious time and money by combining primaries. Such a system would also be less likely to promote voter fatigue.

Labels: ,

Monday, May 03, 2010

My Achilles Heel

Today I deal honestly with my biggest campaign weakness:

When campaigning, it is difficult for me to stand for long periods of time, but oftentimes I can't avoid doing so, especially at Lincoln Day dinners and other similar functions, and friends tell me the hurting feet and the aching back show in my face. I sometimes do not look as though I am enjoying myself, my wife has said. In light of that, I think voters need to know exactly how I do feel about hitting the hustings and meeting the folks. I love political functions and anyone who knows me will tell you that I thrive on politics like a fish thrives on water, and if I didn't want to win or didn't want to try, I wouldn't even bother getting out to do it because of the personal difficulty involved in doing so. Most importantly, I love meeting new people and making friends.

I've never thought about my disability when considering whether or not to run for office other than realizing that I can't do it alone and that I need help and because I have lived with physical challenges all my life, it is second-nature in many ways-I can't let it stop me or stand in the way of doing the things that I feel called by the Holy Spirit to do. I wish that I could convey to every person that I encounter in detail what their support would mean to me, and fortunately I have had the time to do this with at least some potential voters.

Those who would vote for me for the Republican State Executive Committee will give me the greatest personal honor that has ever been bestowed on me. I will work hard to open the work of the SEC to ordinary Republican voters, and I will always stand for what is right, not what is popular. Most importantly, I will stand on conservative conviction in all matters, and I will work not only to increase our Republican majority in Tennessee, but to grow our great party among those who might previously have not considered us.

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Irish Regina Caeli

In honor of this Easter Season, here is the Regina caeli from the Palestrina Boys Choir of St. Mary's Cathedral, Dublin,

Labels: ,

Locations of visitors to this page
Profile Visitor Map - Click to view visits
Create your own visitor map