So, finally, Gordon Brown has announced that we are going to have a General Election here in the UK. We will go to the polls on May 6th, in potentially one of the most important votes in recent times. The papers and blogs are full of opposing ideas, and it certainly feels like a time for change. But a change to what, exactly? And a change from what?
The incumbent Prime Minister and his Labour party would like to stay in power, but there’s quite a lot of anger towards them. The Labour party is divided between ‘Old’ and ‘New’ Labour, and the two factions really don’t get along. ‘Old Labour’ are rooted in trade unions, equality, and a socialism of sorts. ‘New Labour’ (from what I’ve ever been able to gather) is this slippery Blairite mishmash of centre-left and centre-right, and that’s (more or less) what we have at the top right now. Labour have multiple big problems to deal with in their quest to stay in power.
First and foremost, the economy. Now, I actually have a lot of time for our current Chancellor of the Exechequer, Alaistair Darling. He’s not a flashy, oily sort, but more like a serious maths teacher. He talks a lot of sense and is plainer in his policies than previous Chancellors (that would be Gordon Brown, our current PM, then), but unfortunately for him he had barely settled into the job before the current massive economic crisis hit. So we have an intelligent and potentially very good Chancellor who took over just as the poo hit the fan. After over a decade of Labour in power, the other parties (and many of the voters) are likely to lay the problems our economy is having at Labour’s door. With high unemployment, more cuts due, fewer jobs and university places, and taxes unlikely to let up, this is going to be a huge factor, I think.
Next, scandal and sleaze. Many politicians have been accused of swindling the system recently, during the expenses scandal. And an awful lot of those politicians were Labour (the Tories had a fair few as well, but I think if they ‘spin’ it right they will get away with it…). And when you come galloping in in 1997 decreeing an end to sleaze and scandal, well….it may just be the fatal blow which dispatches you in 2010.
Thirdly, the Iraq War. An awful lot of people are still angry…very angry. I’m one of them, for what it’s worth. I feel that Blair acted selfishly and did not make a decision that was right for either his country or the global community as a whole. I wholeheartedly support the troops who have served out there, or who still serve (I am after all a military brat :-)). I also feel they should be properly resourced and rewarded (they aren’t at the moment. At all). I just don’t think we should have been there in the first place, or rather that we should have waited for the decision of the wider UN rather than running in when we did. Iraq will be a troublespot for a long time to come due to rash actions on that, I think.
There are myriad other elements of course (I could and may write a whole post on Labour’s education policies. Many are anti-Labour due to so called ‘stealth taxes’. Others in defence and health dislike what is happening in these sectors. Still others just really dislike the status quo), but those are potentially the big three, in my opinion,
So, if Labour are struggling to keep the reins of power in their paws, what are our alternatives?
My next post will look at what the other parties are hoping may bring them to power, and the possibility and potential problems of a hung parliament…
PS I’m a bit of a politics geek, and I’m still completely unsure how I’ll vote this time. It’s a very interesting time to be voting.
PPS If you disagree with my points, please do feel free to say so (I have a friend, for example, who *adores* Blair. So she and I can argue up a storm sometimes!), but please keep any comments (whether directed to me or others) civil or I’ll simply delete them. Mille mercis!