30 April 2009

Why won't he go?

I said yesterday that Labour were looking shakier and shakier, and low and behold the next day (actually it was the same day, if you live in GMT) they lose an opposition day debate on the Gurkhas

How wonderful, and if you don't know what this means - well the last time a government was defeated was 1978, under Callaghan (there's that parallel again) and to Jim's credit he at least didn't have a working majority

Furthermore this is a rather massive blow as it would appear the public never agreed with the government - the Daily Politics did not receive a single message against today's motion, obviously it's not a fair sample but it is unprecedented for everyone to agree like that - it shows how deeply out of touch the government are

And this comes in the wake of the expenses fiasco, the climbdown on the database, oh and a certain little petition that is now No.1 on the PM's own website, so I don't even need the address, just head to petitions.number10 and it's on the front page under 'most popular' - not bad for less than a week (I can't wait for the government response)

Also while you're there numbers 4 and 5 also piqued my interest - the national speed limit change is clearly deeply opposed and there's one against the proposed changes to tuition fees, two issues I feel pretty strongly about, and they're worthwhile petitions now they're so large

I don't really want to talk at length about the Gurkha situation, I've always believed they have a right to live here, and as every blogger and newspaper journo in the land is saying the same thing I see little point in adding my tiny voice

What I will say is that the government have not only been foolish, but callous

Why did they feel that it was appropriate to use the rule of 20 years service when Gurkhas are forced to retire after 15? That's pretty clearly a stitch-up

And why exactly did the government suddenly bring up a brick wall against immigration when this government (rightly or wrongly) are well known for having a lax attitude towards it? Personally I think they saw it as a soft target in an attempt to look tough, unfortunately for them the public don't actually mind soldiers who fight for this country being allowed in

Allowing pre-1997 Gurkhas in would allow approximately 36,000 in, the government said this could equate to just over 100,000 people, accounting for dependants

Big number isn't it? Well not really, that's the worst case scenario, or in government language: their strongest argument - it's a bit like saying we could expect over 300 million coming in from the EU

And 100,000 is not particularly large, it might be a logistical problem should they all descend within one year, but that's unlikely - as an example net foreign immigration was 333,000 in 2007 - and we've received over half a million Poles since 2004 (same source), if the government could handle all the 'opening the floodgates' headlines from the Mail over that then I see little reason they should have a problem with up to 100,000 people who have a pretty strong claim

Other arguments include, 'it'll cost too much and we're trying to cut costs' - well unfortunately Labour were happy to spend massively until about 2 weeks ago, so they had a good eleven years to throw more money away - and their estimates of it costing over a billion pounds are worthy of the tabloids, including potential healthcare costs for a bunch of elderly soldiers, the government neglect to mention that Gurkhas paid tax and National Insurance and so are therefore paid in

And seriously, a billion is nothing - pointless and unpopular I.D cards will be over five billion, the Olympics are set at 5.3billion, and will probably be nearer ten billion, and exactly how much did the bailout cost?

Then of course the Tories are 'do-nothings' and Labour were the ones who gave Gurkhas right of settlement in the first place...yes, because what else happened in 1997? That's right we gave back Hong Kong and so had to change the rules

Incidentally, the idea of calling the Tories 'do-nothings' is now ridiculous as they just voted for a much bigger measure than the government, seriously I'm not a Tory but when all Labour can produce is negative campaigning at the opposition it grates at me

I think all you have to remember is the government's 20-year regulation: Gurkhas only serve 15 years, and that's just brazen

*I also have some quick mentions:

Nick Clegg performed very well (even if Cameron did muscle in) - I think he did a great job on this, well done to him

Andrew Neil for simply revelling in Brown's misery, what with hundreds of thousands laughing at him on the net (I haven't the heart to tell Andrew we've been doing that for nearly two years anyway)

Nick Robinson says that Gordon is constantly misjudging issues

So how's that for BBC bias? There is of course a simpering analysis by Gary O'Donoghue to prop up the dear leader, just kidding - he thinks he's lost his authority

Callaghan was defeated in late January 1978, but didn't lose confidence til March 1979, and the election was in May 79, a year and three months later - Gordon only has a year and one month left - pity


  1. I understand that the Italian King told Mussolini the game was up in 1943. I'd like our Monarch to be constitutionally allowed to tell the Prime Minister it's time to go, so we don't have a repeat of this horrible situation where a failing leader is clinging to power and stopping the rest of the country from getting on with doing the things that need to be done to turn things around...

  2. The governor general (ie the Queen's representative) in Australia did it in the 70s, so it can be done

    admittedly that was over a constitutional crisis (a supply bill), which would effectively force an election here anyway, but it can be done

    I don't know what power we could give the queen, Brown hasn't broken any constitutional rules, and it wouldn't really be a fair democratic situation, even if the public did agree

    the problem lies in the fact we have 1. only one election every 4/5 years, 2. only one chamber and 3. no elected head of government

    we need to restore some parliamentary checks and balances, personally I think it's effectively constitutional that a Prime Minister cannot resign without forcing an election and is the least we should be implementing

  3. Particularly as at election time, people tend to vote on the party leaders and who they want to PM over and above anything else.

    There could be all sorts of loonies standing as Labour MP's, but if voters like the Labour leader that's where the votes go.

    General elections are a bit like the betting on the Grand National !