Topic: In the News
Did you watch last night's, "Question Time"? It seems not that many people were really interested as only 18% of viewers tuned in. I only saw the last part as we were late home after looking after the grandchildren but boos, sweat and jeers were the order of the day!
I don't like politics very much. It is probably a legacy from my childhood because my father seemed to be completely obsessed with politics and would discuss it for hours with any poor person who didn't know how to change the subject or how to escape. Often it was more of a one-sided lecture on what had happened during the war or about the policies of the politicians of the day. In retrospect, a lot of what he said was right but he never seemed to know when it was time to change the subject, especially when his victim agreed with his every word. So I formed the opinion very early on that politics was the most boring subject of all time.
Still, some of his beliefs must have rubbed off and, in the family tradition, I always thought of myself as a conservative and voted accordingly. The first thing that started to eat away at my psyche was the abominable way the conservatives got rid of Margaret Thatcher in November 1990. I felt that it was underhand and unfair. Why hadn't they waited until the next Conservative Party Conference to challenge the leadership. After all, her third term of office was nearly over. Perhaps I was naive, but my opinion of Michael Hesletine hit rock bottom. From then on, it seemed to me, the Conservative Party was in decline, a squabbling party with no firm direction. John Major did his very best but somehow he gave me the impression of being just a teeny bit out of his depth - and of being influenced by the Iron Lady, albeit from the shadows. He hung on by the skin of his teeth until 1997 when the Conservatives lost the general election to Labour. I admit I was disappointed, it had been eighteen years since a Labour government, what would Tony Blair be like? I vaguely remembered Harold Wilson - I didn't like his accent! I remembered James Callaghan much better, he had struck me as a very conscientious person who did his very best for the country.
John Major resigned as Party Leader and William Haig took over. But the media didn't like William Haig's slightly pompous aura and kept showing those awful pictures of a teenage William addressing the Party Conference. In retrospect, he was actually a highly intelligent and capable leader with an enormous sense of humour. But, he wasn't able to do enough to win the 2001 general election. He stepped back and was succeeded by Ian Duncan-Smith, who won the vote for the party leadership against Ken Clarke. I admire any politician who can stand up and say that he agrees with the opposition on some important point. I really can't abide the mentality of the politician who opposes for the sake of opposition, regardless of what is right. So, Ian Duncan-Smith had some good points. However, he was too nice and definitely not strong enough as a Conservative leader. In October 2003, he lost the party's vote of confidence.
In came Michael Howard, (born Michael Hecht), an unopposed candidate for the leadership and one with previous experience as a Cabinet Minister. But a Cabinet Minister who always seemed to sit on the fence. Do you remember seeing that interview he gave to Jeremy Paxman when he was asked the same question twelve times? Incidentally, did you know that Michael Howard has jumped onto the bandwagon with a Blog? Seems he started it on 10th April 2005.
Well, I'm not happy with Mr. Howard. For one thing, he seems to be a bit of a bully. For a start, look at the way he treated that lovely chap, Boris Johnson last year! Sending him to Liverpool with his tail between his legs and then accusing him of lying over a relationship. And then his vindictive, over-reaction to that unfortunate Arundel MP, Howard Flight, after his not so secret remarks about future conservative spending cuts last month! That sort of thing is not being a leader, it is more being a dictator. (Why isn't Boris party leader? Now, he would get the votes in.)
I hardly dare say it, but I find myself admiring Mr. Blair more and more. He is intelligent and, above all, he definitely has leadership qualities. He has never been afraid to take decisions, whatever we might think about them. And the economy is good - very good. I have come to the sad conclusion that I would prefer him for another term as Prime Minister rather than the smarmy Mr. Howard.
What about the Liberals? Well, I don't know. They have no real experience of government to fall back on. Charles Kennedy is a decent enough chap but is he prime minister material? It seems to me that realistically, all the Liberals can hope for in this election is a few more seats. The possibility of winning a majority is actually so remote, they can promise all sorts of laudable changes that they would probably have great difficulty in implementing.
So what will I do come the 5th May? As far as the local elections are concerned, I will vote for people rather than for parties. In my working days, I met some of the local councillors and found them hard-working, responsible people with a true concern for the area. Some of those stalwarts have now retired but I will continue to split my vote for some conservative and some liberal councillors.
As for our local member of parliament, well it is really a foregone conclusion. Our Conservative MP, Andrew Tyrie, will be re-elected. Four years ago, he had over 47% of the vote. The Liberals only had 24.2% of the vote. My single vote will have little effect on the result. However, it appears that Labour is tipped for winning the election, albeit with a reduced majority. So, perhaps I should stick to voting for a person; one who has some experience and has already proved himself at the job. What do you think?