April 27th 2005 with update May 8th

Gordon Brown has made some mistakes. Some were forced on him by his political opponents in politics or in the country as a whole, some were of his own making. A chancellor is always fighting an economic war of a sort, and in fighting the fraudsters, the selfish and the desperate there are innocents who get hurt. Collateral damage can be quite extensive. But GB is a very intelligent, competent and dedicated man. There would have been a pensions crisis of one sort or another even if he had foreseen the unfortunate effect of some of his policies. The Blair-Brown approach to handling a very tricky period in global and local economics has been as good, in most areas, as the circumstances and the public has allowed. If we look at the Conservative Party's proposals, they have nothing to offer beyond a general claim that they can squeeze more efficiency and better performance out of all our institutions, public services and government itself. There is no evidence, even if it were in theory quite possible, that they are the team to do it. Their best chancellor is on the back benches. Michael Howard is not a man of substance or judgment.

As for the Lib Dems, much though I like Simon Hughes clear and intelligent talking, their economic plans are not practically applicable without bringing disaster. They believe they can take funding from large areas of the economy that they would 'abolish' and put the funds elsewhere. This just cannot be done. Never mind the arithmetic, they have no idea of what is practical or what is essential. They would end up bankrupting the country while causing a great deal of trouble. These things can only be learned when you have spent some time in a lot of hot seats, and the Lib Dems have only done that locally. If Charlie Kennedy were to find himself in Number 10, bound to fulfill his election promises, the kindest solution would be to give him compassionate leave of absence and put in a caretaker government. Their intentions are honourable, their aims laudable, but their understanding of why a Labour government does not pinch their policies and carry them out indicates a state of either ignorance or denial that disqualifies them. Unfortunately they may have tapped a reserve of parallel ignorance in the electorate, especially amongst the young.

The economic outlook is extremely grim unless international agreement and understanding permits controlled growth, within environmentally sustainable parameters, while avoiding inflation. Only enlightened international cooperation can achieve this. There is no evidence that a change of government would highten these prospects.

Did the Attorney General change his advice on the legality of the war? There is no evidence for that. He put all the caveats and set out the reasons why others might disagree. At the end he gave the assurance our armed forces required. That decision on his part came at the end because it could not have come at the beginning. It came only after considering all the arguments on both sides.

Now we have seen more documents our respect for the Attorney General and the PM should be enhanced rather than diminished. They faced all the arguments head on. Curiously, the Attorney General did not use, at least he did not put in writing, the one philosophical sledgehammer that knocks the legal objections completely out of sight. Saddam was grossly in breach of the original Gulf War cease-fire for a decade, as well as subsequent resolutions. Failure by the Sovereign Power to enforce international law invalidates the international contract. The sovereign power was the Security Council. Yet the Attorney General went to the lengths of stating that an unreasonable veto would not be grounds for proceeding to enforcement. I am sorry to have to tell him he was wrong. So if he is now to be challenged on his opinion, and the PM is to be challenged on his acceptance of it, I suggest he uses this right and proper defence. Clive Soley was given a few seconds on Channel 4 TV this evening to do this to some extent, but how many voters were listening? Hold on, Gordon Brown has now pointed out the same point in other words. Is it possible sanity will return to the media?

It has been said that this was a war of choice, not of necessity, because Britain was not under attack. Some of us remember that it took an attack on Pearl Harbour before the United States could convince public opinion that it should declare war on Germany and Japan, as it was a war of choice, not necessity. This war to remove Saddam  was a war of necessity for all those who take seriously the responsibility for future world peace, stability and freedom from tyranny. Our Prime Minister and his cabinet colleagues took this responsibility and we should be grateful that we have such people in government. Instead we abuse them and call the PM a liar. I was happy to hear the Bishop of Oxford today give his opinion on this. Yes, Iraq was stable under a contained Saddam, but there was no possible future that was tolerable either for Iraq or for the containers or the world, if his dynasty had flourished, any more than a Nazi conquest could have evolved into the the European Union other than by the path it actually did - through its stimulation of a counter-philosophy and its consequent utter defeat.

EU issues are now removed from election politics. This is just as well, as 50% of the public have little idea of the consequences of decisions about either the constitution or joining the single currency. We may have to have these referendums, just to settle the issues. If Europe's populations make the wrong decisions, technocrats will have to patch it up for them. The public will then of course complain. It has become the habit of the public of many European countries to blame their governments for problems which are of the public's making.

This government was handed an Asylum regime that was basically corrupt, and used a form of deterrence to limit numbers from areas seen as problematic. World events then put a pressure on the Asylum 'system' such as the Conservative government had never experienced. It collapsed into chaos under the strain despite the first serious efforts of any UK government since WWII to control it. Michael Howards's previous 'firm but fair' policy had in fact been neither, and could in no way deal with developments as the refugee situation grew.  Since 1990 thousands of asylum seekers has neither been granted asylum or removed. They were waiting, and many were getting lost. There was and still is no IDENTITY SYSTEM in this country, let alone any cards to go with such a system. So there have been political casualties due to the exposure of faults in both the asylum regulations and the immigration regulations, and their application. The idea that the Conservative Party does not carry responsibility for this, through years of denial, is false. The idea that the Lib Dems have solutions that elude others and that they would apply is without evidence. The Labour Party appears at last to understand that an Identity System is required, and that voluntary cards associated with it, as it is built up, is the way to proceed,

All the 3 political parties are aware of the environmental issues. The public are the stumbling block though, if the government had not wasted its time discussing fox-hunting, or had so much time taken up with foreign policy, terrorism etc, much more leadership could have been applied domestically.

CONCLUSION: It is not worth getting a Conservative Government, even to reverse the incredible Fox-Hunting ban. Their electoral campaign has shown them up for what they are. Fox-Hunting will hopefully flourish as never before until those who tried to ban it understand how uninformed and misinformed they were.

A Lib Dem Government would be an utter disaster.

A hung parliament would not be quite as disastrous at this moment in history as it could have been at other times, but a Labour Majority would be easily the best for the country and all parts of the community.

MY PREDICTION: The outcome is unpredictable. The polls are not reliable.

I am relieved with the result, but sitting here listenting to Tony Benn taking credit for a Labour victory and then the awful Malcolm Rifkind shouting his usual rubbish (why can't this man just talk) is enough to turn the stomach. Rifkind was awful in power and is awful in opposition  The fact is Blair and Brown won the election, with the help of their supporters in their party, the cabinet and the country, inspite of their mistakes (at least they did some big things, and that is why there were some mistakes). The Lib Dems redeemed themselves through decent behaviour and language and a lot of people voted for them even though they knew their policies were mostly complete cuckoo or impossible and if not would be adopted by any government anyway. The Conservatives got more seats, and the combined result shows that the anti-war movement is washed out by a national majority that knows perfectly well that Blair's choice was correct, however awful the consequences at the moment. Michael Howard also redeemed himself on occasions by being frank, but on the Iraq war there is still hypocrisy by all who complain that there was no planning for what to do after winning the war when the same people made it clear that any such preparation would be evidence that regime change by force, rather than threat of war to obtain compliance if possible, was planned in advance. The failure to plan for the aftermath falls squarely on George Bush and his band, not Blair for whom it was impossible.

The economic situation now faced by the western developed nations is now extremely difficult. It will need serious international cooperation and leadership. Those who lost this election can count themselves lucky.

Now that Blair, Brown, Straw, Prescott, Blunkett, Hewitt and supporters have won the election, there is an immediate demand that Blair should step down, apparently because although he has won a third term this has made a lot of people even more angry with him. We are asked to believe that these curious people, some of whom did not have the guts to vote against him, some whom voted for a party whose economic policy is wishful thinking, some of whom did not vote at all, some of whom think that when people join the armed forces they should not be asked to do anything dangerous and certainly not enforce UN resolutions against homicidal tyrants with enough wealth to corrupt nations, should be appeased by Mr Blair's premature resignation. The increasingly ridiculous Robin Cook leads the parade. I would not blame Blair if he did resign. After all those of us who have refused to even put their nose into the kitchen can hardly ask others to take the combination of heat and abuse.

The idea that because there were fewer Labour voters than before there is no mandate is absolutely irrelevant. What is true is that the government will have, when passing primary legislation, get support from either its own back-benchers or members of other parties. The back-benchers can make their choice. As for the war, their are no politicians capable of leading a government in this country who would not have either taken the responsibility to remove Saddam or failed politically in the attempt and resigned. Gordon Brown is now being called a liar for saying he would have done the same as Blair, by the same pot-heads as accused Blair.  This evening in Trafalgar Square Richard Todd, who landed in France on D-Day and fought through to the end told us the thing to understand was was that wars are terrible and the thing to do is keep out of them. Strange, when the crowd in Trafalgar Square is there to thank him and others, including millions from the Commonwealth and America, not for keeping out but going in. The thing to learn about wars is the same as what we have learned about epidemic diseases - to avoid creating the situation that causes them but if that fails to strike in time and when it is vital and to make peace whenever possible.

Those who disagree with the Labour manifesto are claiming that parliament is no longer effective, that we have an elected dictatorship. How wrong they are. Even when there was a big Labour majority this was far from the case. The reason that debates in the house do not play a great part in some issues is that select committees do much of the work. The constitution of these committees is democratically sound, their influence democratically devised, and the result as foreseen 20 years ago. No, if there have been failures in government, and there have been some problems, it is mainly because the opposition has been absolutely useless and opportunistic, only rarely constructive; and the media, including the BBC and others attempting to fill in for the opposition, being even worse, managing to misunderstand the issues (I exempt such excellent programmes as Analysis and File on Four from this criticism) and unjustly discredit all politicians. The BBC's efforts to apparently earn 'street cred' have been particularly pathetic and at the same time damaging.

1. Crisis management
2. Society Planning
3. European Policy
3. Energy  and Environment Policy

1. There are a number of crises caused by the collapse and coming collapse of some industries and pension funds. The extent government intervention, of stimulation of alternative employment, of compensation in some cases will have to be decided and managed. Not easy.

2. Crime, Health Problems, Transport/Congestion Problems. Immigration, Asylum. Education. Personally I think it is impossible to deal with anything long term in the UK until we have an identity system so that people can take part in whatever system of benefits, advantages, punishments, disadvantages, sticks or carrots, incentives or deterrents, rewards or fines or whatever motivations of any sort are devised and designed or arise from market forces to bring some meaning to individual actions. Never mind identity cards, first of all we need an identity system, so that each person has a name and a proof of identity when applying for such things as driving licenses, credit cards, bank accounts, high security jobs, special benefits, naturalisation. A UK birth certificate is not proof of identity. It has this fact inscribed on it  Those who listened to Germaine Greer on Any Questions will know what we are up against. What an idiot? No, just a hypocrite. It is as ever some of the over-privileged chattering classes who have the least idea that they are the cause of the problems they endlessly complain that nobody is solving. Identity cards, voluntary unless you want to take advantage of certain privileges and never compulsory to carry, will take years to introduce but we must start now to build the system.

3. European Policy - There are many who just do not understand why the European Union is necessary, why it needs a constitution, why its leading members have a common currency and why we should join it fairly soon. OK. Then they can find out the hard \way. In the UK we really only need two parties, one for getting properly into Europe and one for getting out. At the moment we are just being a nuisance and failing to correct some bad European policies which we will then be responsible for. As to when to join the currency, that can be left to Gordon Brown to decide. He is neither a fool or a liar, and if he decides it is the time to join he will have to convince the public. The alternative, to use the currency as a weapon against the rest of Europe, could back fire or make dealing with environmental problems on the basis of international agreement quite hard. Since they cannot be dealt with on any other basis, the rest of this sentence can be written by the reader...

4. Energy Policy - I was in favour of the pause in Nuclear Fission energy generation, but that was mainly on the grounds of inefficiency due to huge costs of construction, maintenance and decommissioning as well as the large amount of energy actually consumed in the whole programme including research and development. But It seems that Nuclear Fission is going to be needed as part of the means to meet environmental standards. The storage of waste is not the problem it has been claimed as long as we don't try to bury it deep. It may seem a lot in weight but in volume it is not*. Its protection is not that difficult. This has been obvious for some time as pointed out elswhere on this site. It does not follow that all other sources of energy should be pursued that are appropriate for the UK and its special resources. The true costs of nuclear should not make these uncompetitive. Other environmental policies should be implemented as well as possible (see para 3 above).

*The Committee on Radioactive Waste Management says the total to date is 470,000 cubic metres, but there is no reason for us to run things so badly the next time. 470,000 m3 is said to be 5 times the Albert Hall, but even that is not a lot when we are considering the waste of all our nuclear operations to date and all the mistakes made while we learned the ropes. No, the arguments against nuclear are there, but they are not the waste problem. Compared to the energy and climate problems that is not serious.

I have left Ruth Kelly out of the list of people who helped to win the election for Labour because it is not clear how sensible she is, however over exercised her considerable brain. She is after all a keen supporter of a branch of the church who in my youth ostracised Pierre Teilhard de Chardin for suggesting that Christianity and Darwin's theories might be part of the same reality. This is of course half-witted, but we tend to forget that. There are after all Protestants in America who still believe this, see   Darwin On Trial.