Saturday, February 20, 2010

Get over it!

I have a new hero. After nearly three lustra away, I've mostly lost touch with politics in Northern Ireland, so I listened with some interest to today's edition of Beyond Westminster, in which the BBC's recently-retired Ireland correspondent, Denis Murray, discovers the state of the country. At one point, he was interviewing the head of the Orange Order following the DUP's raising of the parades issue in the recent discussion over policing and justice, and after listening to the usual statements about history and so forth regarding the parade in Drumcree Mr Murray, to his everlasting credit, replied, Get over it. Times have changed... it's time to move on! This is the kind of thing I'd like to hear more of, and from some of the interviews that Murray conducted, it sounds like people in the Province are starting to agree.

Another comment in this programme also piqued my interest: it seems that the Northern Ireland Assembly has no Opposition. The Executive is a power-sharing agreement, with ministerial posts going to members from all four major parties. On the one hand, this ensures collective decision-making, but on the other, and this was the point of view of the contributor talking about it, it means that all the parties have a vested interest in the status quo, meaning no real driver for change.

I'm not sure what to make of this. While I've been a staunch supporter of proportional representation for a long time, something which almost inevitably leads to coalition government, I think that having no opposition to poke the government on a regular basis probably isn't healthy for democracy.

Finally, on an administrative note, Blogger, which has powered this blog since its launch in 2002 has deprecated FTP support, meaning that I will have to migrate to a new platform. There may be some disruption, and I apologise in advance to anybody reading this through the LiveJournal feed if it goes mental (as it has done in the past).

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Oh healthcare

Recently a lot of Americans have been bashing the NHS which has bemused me somewhat – I'm much more used to feeling sorry for them for their healthcare system ;-).

I do find the furore that this has generated in the US rather disconcerting though. Sometimes I'm reminded just how much we are 'two countries separated by the same language', with their foaming at the mouth at 'socialised healthcare' whereas for us, it's something that we moan about but are proud of really. And any party that tried to take it away in this country would get a swift kick in the ballot box. And that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Yah-boo politics is alive and well

Last week, Harriet Harman said that there would be a three line whip on Labour MPs during a vote to exempt MPs' expenses from the Freedom of Information Act. This led to a barrage of protests online and elsewhere, which caused the Government to withraw the proposal. I'm really pleased by this, especially since it came about in part due to a grassroots movement on the Internet. My problem with this is the way that the withdrawal was reported in the media and handled by the opposition parties. The BBC article linked to above has the headline Brown backs down in expenses row, the Tories and the Lib Dems have been quick to talk about U-turns and humiliating climbdowns, while nobody has actually said well done and congratulated them for taking the sensible decision. Now you could argue that it shouldn't be necessary to congratulate them on doing the right thing, but if we don't, then surely stubborn politics will just get worse, as the Government of the day (or, indeed, an opposition party) can't be seen to change its mind about anything or it would be seen as losing some battle. So much for the end of yah-boo politics

Our current politics is too confrontational, with each party having to try and score points against the opposition and it's making them lose sight of the greater good: that all decisions should be made for the good of the country. The fact that this simple fact seems to be pushed to the back of politicians' minds should make them pause for thought and remind themselves why they entered politics in the first place.

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Sympathy for the Devil

I never thought that I'd ever say this, but recent events have found me feeling sympathetic towards a Tory. I actually feel slightly dirty just saying that, but despite my cynicism (a quick look at the results of the last election for his constituency show that with the Lib Dems having said that they wouldn't contest the seat, it looks like it'll be no contest) I find myself having a lot of respect for David Davis. I heard his interview on Today and was struck by his sincerity and actual passion on the subject – it says something when we're relying on Tories to defend our civil liberties!

Yes, it's a bit of a publicity stunt, and I can't really see any point to it, but that's part of why I respect the man. There is no political advantage in it for Davis (well, some people are saying that he's angling to take over the leadership of the Conservatives, but I'm not sure about that) so he seems to be doing it entirely out principle, and I've got to respect that.

It now seems that Labour are very much dithering about whether to field a candidate in the by-election, and if they don't, then Kelvin (spit) MacKenzie may be his closest opponent, and that leads me to hope that not only does Davis win, but that he grinds MacKenzie into the dirt... </vitriol>

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