Monday, 22 September 2008
Politricks: JK Rowling, Tax breaks and David Milliband
You may have read over the weekend that JK Rowling of Harry Potter fame has donated £1Million to Gordon Brown's Labour Party as a show of support in these dark times. Rowling claims the £1Million is for Labour's record on tackling child poverty. Which is interesting, since that £1Million really could have done a lot for some poverty stricken children around Britain and the UK. But realistically all it's actually going do is help Labour fight an election they have no hope of winning. Or have any hope of salvaging beyond the point of absolute humiliation. Doesn't that make it something of a moot point? New Labour definitely did a lot for child poverty in the late 90s (although a lot of that was put in place before they arrived, they could have easily fucked it up. Word to the economy) but handing over cash money in support of a policy that we all know is so far down the priority list at number 10 right now that it might as well be tax cuts for the poor seems a little worthless. I'm not talking in the sense that JK Rowling shouldn't hand over one of her millions in support of something she genuinely believes in, but knowing that she's a close personal friend of Gordon Brown's surely there could have been a slightly more convenient PR excuse other than Child Poverty? After all we can attribute those changes to a Blair government surely? Would giving £1Million straight to Save The Children not be a better idea?
JK also claims that David Cameron's proposed tax breaks for married couples were reminiscent of the Conservative government she remembered as a lone parent. The tax breaks for married couples is an interesting one to me, I've seen Cameron explain and defend the tax break a few times now and knowing as many unmarried fathers and mothers as I do, the change is of specific interest to me. I don't see how anything other than perception can lead somebody to condemn the plan. It doesn't affect single parents, there are actually more proposed supports for single parents in the plan, but David Cameron wants to "Fix our broken society" (whatever that means), and he thinks two parents are better than one, with exceptions he probably has a point. Will tax breaks encourage happy families? It's a ludicrous suggestion, but should married couples who look after children together be given the same support and encouragement a single parent gets? I'd say absolutely. But the flip side is that the welfare state encouraged under New Labour over the last 11 years probably lends itself to that support, without the regulations introduced under this government there wouldn't be enough support for anybody.
On the plus side for Gordon though, David Milliband says he's not plotting on the party's top seat. Which is good for Brown in a sense that the rebels now have no viable contender and good in a sense that he can avoid calling a general election for another 18 months (I don't think he will). It's probably not the best thing for The Conservatives though as they sit back and watch the government swallow itself whole, the 52% in the polls shockingly isn't about David Cameron's green policy but a total lack of faith in our ludicrous government which as we approach recession is bickering about whether their longest serving, most respected member should be Prime Minister. Don't get me wrong here. I'm no Brown fan, far from it, this is his economy and this is his legacy, reckless lending from the banks created a false economy that was bound to collapse and ruin a few thousand lives in the process. That was directly Brown policy. But there can be very little argument that he's the most adept at seeing Labour remain a force in some respect past the next general election. That is ultimately his job at this point, he just needs to steer the crumbling ship into the dock and leave the crew to rebuild in a hope that it doesn't take a decade to regain power (ala the Conservatives in 1997). The idea that there are people within the government who think they can hand over the top job for the second time in 2 years without a public vote is something that I think captures Labour's time in government perfectly. A total lack of awareness or respect for the voter was only tolerated as long as house prices were good and the Conservatives couldn't offer a viable alternative. What if Michael Howard had 4 years to campaign? Rather than the 2 he got after the ludicrously inept Iain Duncan Smith was binned. Who knows? Howard made some pretty incredible inroads as leader of the opposition. David Cameron has done little since since, he's sat around drinking tea, riding bikes and smiling but his poll lead extends and extends. Unfortunately Nick Clegg and Vince Cable are saying exactly what needs to be said, when it needs to said and are actually losing votes. It's okay though, they probably don't mean it. Cut backs in public spending? Tax cuts? Liberal Democrats? Are you sure?
In real Politricks this week, Obama's favourite colour is Orange and McCain's favourite film is Mary Poppins. I was leaning towards Obama but Orange? I'm not sure about Orange.