Saturday, 5 June 2010

Labour manifesto launch – initial reactions

I watched the launch of Labour's 2010 manifesto this morning on the wonderful Election 2010 section on BBC News whilst doing some English work, which is fitting because in this article I'm going to translate Labourspeak to English so those of us who aren't Labour shills can understand  it. You know things are tough for the party when they're reduced to having the launch opened by some jumped-up 20-something with blinkered vision and a blind loyalty to Labour who calls herself 'BevaniteEllie' on Twitter and 'The Stilettoed Socialist'. I'd like to thank the commenter on her blog who posted a reply to one of her pieces, by the way:

You are a champagne socialist. A personification of 13 years of labour failure.We want proper Labour people. Bevan would be turning in his grave at the sight of a self-serving, posh, Holland Park, Mandelsonian masquerading as a Socialist. You are not fit to wear the colour red. The first guy said: ‘nice shoulder rubbing’ That’s exactly what you do. Try visiting a council estate or something. You’d probably run a mile. The real Labour people don’t want you. We want our party back."

Furthermore, the Constantly Furious blog highlights her hypocrisy, and much to my amusement, calls her "a deluded Labour rentagob". Constantly Furious, I salute you.

Anyway, enough attacking this woman - I need to do a little bit of attacking of the launch. I'm only doing a quick commentary on this morning's launch in this post; more in-depth analysis and comments about specific areas of the document will come in future articles, probably starting with education later this evening.

The event took place in a soon-to-be opened hospital, much to the ire of the Conservatives, who said it was against some rule or another for an party-political event to take place on public property. Labour managed to avoid this by saying that it's owned by a private company until handed to the NHS. Obviously having it take place in a shiny new hospital was intended to show how wonderful Labour is for improving our services and building such wonderful new hospitals, and skilfully draws attention away from failings such as  the closure of A&E departments, and apparent plans to close hospitals wards and cut staff.

Having spread Labour propaganda, and received rapturous applause from the trained seals Labour supporters which made up the audience, Gordy B invited the press who were present to ask questions, who managed to reveal far more about Labour's manifesto than the speech did.

They've run out of money

Ellie Gellard (the woman I attacked above) informed the Labour loyalists that this would be "a word of mouth election". Power to the people? No, the party has squandered its money and is now in a lot of debt. They simply can't afford to wage a campaign on par with previous years, so it's a nice excuse for them to pretend that they want to rely on the party faithful to get the word out.

VAT will rise

Firstly, I'm going to state something that I believe is a near-fact; I'm 90+% sure that under a Labour government VAT would rise. When asked about the manifesto not mentioning VAT, Gordon said the party wouldn't raise it clothes or food, but would not commit to not raising it generally, nor would he risk sounding negative by saying where/when it might be raised. He then attacked the Conservatives for having put it up in the past and changed the subject. When asked about the manifesto implying that it would be raised, he didn't really answer the question, and again attacked the Conservatives' plans. A Channel Five reporter pointed out, much to my pleasure, that the manifesto in 2005 said income tax wouldn't be raised, but it was anyway, to which Gordy fumbled on about the financial crisis. To be fair, the recession required action, and I have no problem with that involving taxing the rich more highly. However, do you remember the 10p tax rate debacle? I believe both other main parties have said, particularly the Lib Dems, that whilst they don't want to, they can't rule out raising Value Added Tax, which is a far more honest position to take than trying to dodge the question and attack the Conservatives instead. Labour may not raise it straight away, but if they win the election and don't raise it at all, I will be very, very surprised.

They're pretending to be reformers

Having had 13 years, the party has now had a deathbed conversion to reform in an attempt to retain power.  They like to point out that they've removed all but 92 hereditary Peers in the Lords, but I'd argue that was mainly because it was a Conservative-dominated (big C and small c) Chamber, and making it almost wholly appointed was a way to get rid of those who made it difficult for them. When the Wakeham commission was set up in late 1999 and reported back in 2000, it suggested a partly-appointed and partly-elected House of Lords, but Labour decided to be a bit wishy-washy and just remove hereditary Peers without improving the democracy they claim to adore. However, this was a start, and I respect them for doing something about the unfair make-up of the Lords.

They also set an inquiry into alternative voting systems, which, after it reported back, they decided to dismiss and shove in some drawer somewhere - probably because they decided a government with a massive majority wasn't so bad after all. Yet lo and behold, they've dragged the issue up from the bottom of the deep Labour sea of broken promises and told us they'll legislate to give us a referendum on voting reform if they win the election. Gordon Brown's stood up on various platforms and parked his bum in a number of chairs since, and towed the line that "Politics has fundamentally changed" since the expenses scandal. So to combat this fundamental change and gain public support, they've decided to shun the recommendation of  theAV Plus system and instead try to  introduce a voting system which the commission they set up said would result in an even less proportional system and work against the Conservatives. Make sense? Good. They also now want votes at 16, too. I wonder if that could have anything to do with younger people being more likely to vote Labour? So next time Gordy mentions voting reform and why they're doing it, remember he's patting you slowly on the head, thinking you're too stupid to realise they're just doing it to get reelected.

They've hired some awful advert people

Despite this being "a word of mouth election", that hasn't stopped them commissioning a number of atrocious adverts. Because we're all too thick to have information presented to us in a normal way, Labour have kindly had someone draw pictures to help us understand. If you needed more proof that Labour think you're too stupid to understand issues and policies, they've managed to provide it. I tried to post a comment on the one below and another one, but they only let through ones which praise the party so they can look like they've got more support than they really have. So much for 'Active Democracy', eh?

I did rather enjoy some of the comments; I think whoever is moderating them needs to be better at detecting sarcasm, either that or even Labour supporters realise the above advert is an atrocity that should be flung into a bonfire.
"It's sooo cool! My kids (3 and 6, respectivily) are loving it. I'm waiting with expectation to watch the version for adults."

"Anything that gets kids interested in politics is a good thing."

"I can see why Labour wants to bring down the voting age to 16"

Well, that's a summary of the successes of reading between the lines. As I said, deeper analysis is to follow in future articles, where I'll be looking at aspects of the manifesto of each of the main parties, as well as hopefully some of the smaller ones.

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