Analysis (Services and Self)

Koan Bremner's view on life as a database and data warehouse professional / addict and non-genetic woman

Sunday, February 13, 2005

My token political post

To be honest, I tend not to talk about my political beliefs unless asked; and even then, I may well keep them to myself. And I view political beliefs as being completely distinct from party politics and (especially) politicians; whom I tend to distrust completely, unless given good reasons otherwise. But, on Friday, I was working from home, and had BBC News 24 on the TV in the background, and was absolutely blown away, possibly for the first time ever, by a contemporary politician. He spoke onstage, without notes or a podium, for (I think) seven minutes in total; and even if I hadn't already decided which way I was going to vote in the next UK general election (whenever that will be), that seven minutes would have convinced me.

You can stop reading now, if you wish; but if you didn't see Tony Blair's opening address to the Labour Party's Spring Conference in Gateshead, and have seven minutes to spare, then it's still being streamed from the BBC's website (although I have no idea how long it will be available) at "Blair outlines election pledges" - click on the link titled "Highlights of Tony Blair's whistle-stop tour" to launch the BBC News Player, and then select the item "Tony Blair unveils Labour's pre-election pledges". And then I'll tell you why that speech affected me more than any other contemporary political speech I've ever heard.

What Tony Blair said, in my opinion, is "this is what we stand for at this point in our nation's history". Simple (arguably, empty and meaningless) pledges; the kind of pledges that any political party would probably pay lip-service to. He then demolished, at a stroke, any pretence that the Conservative party shared those aspirations, by highlighting how that party's own voting actions prove otherwise. Honestly, I don't like political campaigns which focus on the shortcomings of the opposition rather than the campaigner's own message; this speech struck me as something completely different. In my opinion, this speech said, "this is what we believe in; which is something *worth* believing in, and working towards; this is what we've done, are doing, and will do to make that belief a reality; our opposition may *say* that they believe these things, and that our pledges are empty... but here's the proof of their actions which show they don't believe in these things".

Really, that struck me as something completely new (in my lifetime, at least) from UK politicians.

Now, admittedly, I've a lot of personal goodwill towards this Government, not least because they brought forward legislation (the Gender Recognition Act 2004) which restores basic human rights to a minority of the UK population which had been denied those rights for many years. Yes, I have a vested interest in that legislation; I'm part of that minority (estimated at 5,000 out of a UK population of, what, 55 million?) But (and I wish I could remember the exact quote and original speaker, but I can't) "the mark of a reforming Government is not how many people its legislation improves life for, without harming the rest; but how *few* people it improves life for, without harming the rest". Really, how significant are the electoral votes in passing legislation like that? Not that many. And yet, they tabled the legislation, saw it through both Houses of Parliament (despite fierce opposition from many, but *not* all, in the upper echelons of the Church of England, and similar opposition from many in the "Nasty Party", sorry, the Conservative Party) and it is now enacted. That, alone, would probably have ensured my vote at the next election. But Tony Blair's speech on Friday achieved something rather more remarkable.

Yesterday, I joined the Labour Party.

That's it; nothing Earth-shattering, and probably of no significance (or indeed, interest) to anyone else in the world. But I share the vision that he described on Friday, and the least I can do is say so, even if it's only here. ;-) I've no political aspirations at all, and no intention of taking up active campaigning in the forthcoming election(s). Apart from anything else, I suspect I'd be more of a liability on the doorstep than an asset. But I'm more than happy to say that I share his vision, will be counted accordingly, and will accept the consequences of my actions (i.e. my vote).

So the next time Michael Howard (leader of the Conservative Party, and for many years my most disliked politician, which is saying something) goes on about cutting taxes (which is pretty much all he ever seems to say, in my opinion) I'll respond. Personally, I *don't* object to paying higher taxes for public services, *if that money is put to good use*. Personally, I believe that the higher personal taxes I've paid since Labour took office have resulted in substantially improved public services. Have they made mistakes? Of course. Will they make more mistakes? Undoubtedly.

Do I believe, though, that the Labour Party's intentions are honourable and worthy? Yes, I do. Do I think they stand a reasonable chance of delivering significantly on their pledges? Yes, I do.

That's it; the first (and probably last) political post from me. Feel free to flame me! ;-)

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  • At 7:31 pm, Anonymous Bri said…

    I personally couldn't join the Pary that formed the Government that carried out the actions that made War Criminals of us all. Especially one that had the audacity to lecture me on "values". But that's just me.

  • At 4:51 am, Blogger Koan said…

    From near the end of my original post: "Have they made mistakes? Of course." I wasn't explicit in what I was referring to, but the second Gulf War was top of the list. And yet, in the post immediately preceding this, I included a version of the song "Shipbuilding", itself a stinging indictment of the decision by a Government of the alternative colour to go to war over the Falklands.

    So, if I don't vote for a party that's screwed up over imperialism, then my vote stands no chance (currently) of changing things for the better on subjects like health, domestic law and order, education etc... so I could either bemoan the failings of the party which has (in my opinion) largely delivered the goods, but screwed up somewhat in the process; or, use my own small voice as a means of effecting some kind of change. I choose the latter path. But that's just me.


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