Saturday, July 08, 2006

John Prescott should be out, here's why

My dislike of the Labour leadership is a sense of betreyal. I voted for the bastards before, and I'd like to be able to vote for them again. But, currently, I can't. Prescott is by no means the only fault, but his perpetuation in office by Blair is completely beyond me. Others, howver, have no sense of betrayal, and have always hated him. Tim Montgomerie at Conservative Home has created a list of reasons to dislike Honest John's term in government, since the very beginning. Given that many of the policy areas he claimed for himself at the beginning were issues I felt strongly about, and in cases still do, his absolute failure to implement anything decent is worthy of comment. So, using Tim's list as a starting point, here's mine:
  1. Council Tax rates have effectively doubled for most people in the last ten years, and the short term bribe in the 2005 budget for pensioners was abolished this year.
  2. The Standards Board for England is an anti-democratic monstrosity that puts those we elect at the control of quangocrats. Ken shouldn't have been suspended; it's teh electors job to fire him, no one else's
  3. Postal voting has been pushed and pushed and pushed. Make no mistake, the facility for the frail and housebound to vote by post is essential. But everyone else should go to the polling booth. Fraud allegations are perpetual, and very worrying.
  4. Integrated transport policy? Anyone remember this one? We were going to cut car use (its risen), improve railways (um...), improve availability, etc. Me? I'd love to travel by bus instead of driving most mornings. Not going to happen, even with a half price bus pass from work.
  5. Strategic Rail Authority. Yes, well, enough said there, when Transport was removed from his control (let's face it, he wasn't up to it), Darling abolished the waste of money that it was.
  6. The Thames Gateway city project. Combined with the demolish half the north project. Very little has effectively been done to encourage people to live, work, set up offices in, etc in areas outside of the SE. The SE can't handle more people effectively, water supplies are limited, housing density growing, etc. The North? Emptying. The SW? Full of second homes, holiday homes, etc. Empirical evidence for the latter? There is no way that my I could, even if I doubled my salary, afford a mortgage on the house my father was born in. Why? Holiday homes. Honest John's fault.
  7. The England Problem. A perpetual topic on here, but John was given the task of sorting out devolution in England. What did we get? Devolution from the centre? No. We got another local government reorganisation offered, with virtually no devolved power, a White Elephant. The boundaries he's using are over 50 years old and outdated, based on bureacratic, treasury need rather than local lines. Horrible mess. The worst is he's effectively killed off any arguments for decent, genuine devolution from Westminster to any form of regional or provincial assemblies, which would be a genuine (and to my mind good) solution to the West Lothian Question.
  8. The Casino at the Dome. Let's face it, this is the big one. It appears, on every face, to be genuine corruption, and it's not just Honest John that it tars. But John is their designated scapegoat.

He's going to go, and soon. I, like Snoo, do not care who he's slept with. It's gossip, tittle tattle, salacious fun. It does raise a concern (did any of them deserve their promotions?), but, ultimately, sex scandal, I care not.

He's corrupt, incompetent and an utter failure. He has betrayed the principles of his party, he has betrayed the principles he was elected on, and his botched implementation of vital policies has done lasting damage to this country. Time to go John.

On the other hand

Clive at The UK Today:
Now I agree that something doesn't add up, by I'm more concerned about what is going on elsewhere in Government while Prescott acts as a lighting conductor for all the flak being aimed at New Labour. It may be crediting Blair with too much foresight, but it seems very convenient that John has been kept around in spite of Tracey Temple and croquet on the lawn at Dorneywood.

Prescott seems emminently suited to the role he is now fulfilling, the bumbling leftie northerner who is out of his depth; the fall guy who can be blamed for any number of ills given the wide remit the ODPM used to have.
John? Given most of it isn't your fault, can you stop being a scapegoat and take Tony with you?


From the comments, A rather good selection of Prescottisms
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Anonymous said...

John Prescott didn't put anybody's council tax up - that was done by councillors of all parties and none. Prescott acts as a handy foil for them, though doesn't he? 

Posted by Ciaran

Anonymous said...

True, he's not directly responsible, but his department oversaw local govt, and failed to make the case in the treasury for ensuring that councils were given sufficient money to pay for all the Govt policies.

Increasing teachers salaries substantially without increasing money from the centre increases council expenditure, thus puts up council tax. I know that Torbays biggest expenditure by miles is education.

PErsonally, I'd like to see councils mostly fund themselves, but to do that, you'd need a decent revenue system for them, I'd like local income tax, some sort of local busines profit tax and then some sort of land value taxation. But given that council tax is where it's at, and central grants are paramount, then Prescott is culpable for the failure to fund things properly.

If local councils set pay and recruitment policies for, for example, teachers, then they can pay raise the money. They don't, so they shouldn't. 

Posted by MatGB

Anonymous said...

Bloody hell Mat.. I hear a barrel being gently scraped if Prescott is being accused of encouraging people to vote. It's a different matter that at the same time the number of people voting fell, but without postal voting the fall would have been even more drastic. Fraud allegations were plentiful BEFORE postal voting by the way.

Incidentally, the postal voting legislation came about when the Government accepted a recommendation of the Electoral Commission (and so did all the other parties because it had cross party support). 

Posted by Bob Piper

Anonymous said...

Bob? You know my views on electoral reform and how it will improve turnout. Postal voting isn't needed, and merely papers over cracks.

Give people real choice, a real competition of ideas, and inspire people to vote. Postal voting, supermarket voting, etc, are all iniquitous attempts and miss the point.

I've never been keen on opening up postal voting, and Tim's list included it, so I took it in and expanded on it a little. Have you ever voted by post? I have, and I've witnessed for a friend (we were both students at the time). That's a valid reason.

But if people value democracy so poorly that they can't be arsed to go vote, then it's the politicians, not the people, that are the problem.  

Posted by MatGB

Anonymous said...

You may like this poster  that I designed a while back.

And these quotes that I compiled.

The man is an utter moron, an utter waste of money, and an utter disgrace to any brand of socialism. 

Posted by Toque

Anonymous said...

Integrated transport, that has kind of gone the way of the 'ethical foreign policy'. I walk to work, and cycle or walk to the shops. But when it comes to public transport it's just terrible. I've tried using the trains before to visit people (with my car the carbon output would be lower) but they are never reliable or convenient I have had to cancel entire weekends because of them, and even when they actually get me to where I want to go the direct cost is often higher than driving. This is without taking into account the indirect costs of subsidies required to keep it all going. My brother lives in London but even then if he wants to come back west it is cheaper and easier to fly than take a train.

As for Prescott but can Blair actually sack him? I'm sure that I've read somewhere that because of the position that he holds in the Labour Party a cabinet post is required to be found for him, that's why Blair was forced to take away all his duties while leaving him in cabinet so far. 

Posted by chris

Anonymous said...

Mat, I have voted by post, in fact I usually do. Election day around here is a bit hectic. I don't actually think tinkering with the systems does do much, but if ways can be found to engage people by e-voting, text voting, whatever, with safeguards built in I'm all for it, although I agree, ultimately it does mean candidates and parties having something to offer. 

Posted by Bob Piper

Anonymous said...

Gareth, I like those links. Would need to, um, adapt the poster a little bit, maybe use the top two as an animated gif banner?

Chris, not sure about sacking him as he's Deputy Leader, it'd be a Labour rule, not a Govt rule, so he can break it if he wants, or use the Duchy of Lancaster or something.

Bob? I've voted by post. It has its uses, and I would never argue to abolish it. But the widening and active encouragement of postal voting for all, with no reason, is something I now dislike. I dislike the idea of early votes anyway (stories that break after posting, etc), and strongly feel that attending the polling booth is a distinct and important part of the democratic process.

Like I've said many times before, the voting system is a much more vital method of improving turnout. 

Posted by MatGB