Friday, April 30, 2010

Only six more days to go - Part 1

It is rather a joyous thought that this election, the dullest and least political of my memory (and being a hereditary political geek I can remember quite a long way back) has entered its final week. It must now be everybody's aim to tell as many people as possible that there is not much to choose between the three main parties or their acolytes and enumerate all the lies they tell. That applies to the party formerly known as Conservative in particular, since they and their intrepid leader, the Boy-King, are positioning themselves as the Eurosceptic party in this election. The one that is never going to upset the colleagues in Brussels. That Eurosceptic party.

I understand that, having produced a list of people who are having a good election, Iain Dale is now looking for suggestions as to names of those who are having a bad one. It seems to me that he is going to be hard pushed to have only ten on that list. More to the point, the possibilities of disasters in the last six days are beyond computation; it is, therefore, somewhat early to start counting who has had a bad election. But, thirdly, I can nominate the Boy-King straight away, whether the Tories win or not.

This was going to be the election, the Conservatives could not lose. The very fact that we are discussing that possibility is an indication that something went horribly wrong and that something was the Boy-King and his team.

In the meantime, I had another e-mail from the Boy-King. We are still on very chummy terms and he is reminding me that he had asked me to join his government. Sadly, he seems to have had not comment from Mr Barroso which means that the offer can be regarded as temporary only. In the meantime, he is offering me a contract. However, there is no mention of such important matters as emoluments, expenses or troughs in the contract so I cannot take it very seriously.
A contract between the Conservative Party and Helen Szamuely

We go into the general election on 6 May with trust in politics and politicians at an all-time low. And I can understand why: the years of broken promises, the expenses scandal, the feeling that politicians have become too remote from the people -they've all taken their toll. That's why I'm making this contract with you.

For too long, you've been lied to by politicians saying they can sort out all your problems. But it doesn't work like that. Real change is not just about what the government does. Real change only comes when we understand that we are all in this together; that we all have a responsibility to help make our country better.

This contract sets out my side of the bargain: the things I want to do to change Britain. But it also makes clear that I cannot do it on my own. We will only get our economy moving, mend our broken society and reform our rotten political system if we all get involved, take responsibility, and work together.

So this is our contract with you. I want you to read it and - if we win the election - use it to hold us to account. If we don't deliver our side of the bargain, vote us out in five years' time.

We will change politics

Our political system needs to change. Politicians must be made more accountable, and we must take power away from Westminster and put it in the hands of people - individuals, families and neighbourhoods.

If you elect a Conservative government on 6 May, we will:

1. Give you the right to sack your MP, so you don't have to wait for an election to get rid of politicians who are guilty of misconduct.

2. Cut the number of MPs by ten per cent, and cut the subsidies and perks for politicians.

3. Cut ministers' pay by five per cent and freeze it for five years.

4. Give local communities the power to take charge of the local planning system and vote on excessive council tax rises.

5. Make government transparent, publishing every item of government spending over £25,000, all government contracts, and all local council spending over £500.

We will change the economy

Gordon Brown's economic incompetence has doubled the national debt, given us record youth unemployment, and widened the gap between rich and poor. Unemployment is still rising, and this year we will spend more on debt interest than on schools. We need to get our economy moving.

If you elect a Conservative government on 6 May, we will:

1. Cut wasteful government spending so we can stop Labour's jobs tax, which would kill the recovery.

2. Act now on the national debt, so we can keep mortgage rates lower for longer.

3. Reduce emissions and build a greener economy, with thousands of new jobs in green industries and advanced manufacturing.

4. Get Britain working by giving unemployed people support to get work, creating 400,000 new apprenticeships and training places over two years, and cutting benefits for those who refuse work.

5. Control immigration, reducing it to the levels of the 1990s - meaning tens of thousands a year, instead of the hundreds of thousands a year under Labour.

We will change society

We face big social problems in this country: family breakdown, educational failure, crime and deep poverty. Labour's big government has failed; we will help build a Big Society where everyone plays their part in mending our broken society.

If you elect a Conservative government on 6 May, we will:

1. Increase spending on health every year, while cutting waste in the NHS, so that more goes to nurses and doctors on the frontline, and make sure you get access to the cancer drugs you need.

2. Support families, by giving married couples and civil partners a tax break, giving more people the right to request flexible working and helping young families with extra Sure Start health visitors.

3. Raise standards in schools, by giving teachers the power to restore discipline and by giving parents, charities and voluntary groups the power to start new smaller schools.

4. Increase the basic state pension, by relinking it to earnings, and protect the winter fuel allowance, free TV licences, free bus travel and other key benefits for older people.

5. Fight back against crime, cut paperwork to get police officers on the street, and make sure criminals serve the sentence given to them in court.

6. Create National Citizen Service for every 16 year old, to help bring the country together.
The trouble with all these offers is that they make very little logical sense. To start with, I cannot see how they can change politics or, indeed, anything else without at least thinking about how to tackle the problem of Britain being in the European union and the fact that a very large proportion (let's not get into the debate of what proportion but even the Boy-King once acknowledged that it was more than half) of the legislation comes from Brussels and cannot be rejected by Parliament even if it goes through that august institution.

Among many other things a Conservative (or any other) government will not be able to do is to cap immigration as they cannot stop people who are coming here from any part of the EU, no matter where they may have originated from. So, what price being lied to by politicians?

Changing the economy by spending a great deal of money on all sorts of benefits and non-existent green jobs while promising to cut down the deficit argues a lack of knowledge of basic maths or an assumption that the knowledge is lacking in the electorate. So what price being lied to by politicians?

Changing society seems to consist of throwing yet more money at every problem, getting the state to intervene in everything and creating unnecessary new organizations at the taxpayers' expense instead of reforming the rules that make it so difficult for the boy scouts, girl guides, cadets and other already existing groups to operate. So what price being lied to by politicians?

On balance, I don't think this is the contract for me. Maybe Mr Barroso will come up with something better.


  1. If only OPENID would work, I'm called AlfredMay 1, 2010 at 12:48 PM

    "On balance, I don't think this is the contract for me. Maybe Mr Barroso will come up with something better."

    I think you have caught some sort of EUrofever, probably from mixing with too many politicians. I hope you recover soon.

  2. Errm, Alfred, you seem to have lost sight of a word called irony. You know, same as goldy and siverly but it rusts.

    I shall have to look into the problems with comments. The system appears to be very unsatisfactory.

  3. Fine glimpse of sanity in a sea of lies, lies and damned lies. Thank you Helen.