It is finished. An exciting election which gave us some compelling theatre and drove the media speculation machine into overdrive has finally given us a new Prime Minister and a Conservative – Liberal Democrat coalition government. The control freakery and paranoia of New Labour has been rejected. Nick Clegg had achieved that which every Liberal, SDP and now Liberal Democrat leader during my life had desired – to have the balance of power in their hands.
The election counts had a few moments of pleasure. One might even say self-pleasure in the case of Jacqui Smith, who lost her seat. Rumours of her joining Kleenex as a non-executive director are almost certainly just that… It saddens me that Ed Balls remains an MP just as it saddens me that the peopleof Erdington have chosen to elect Jack Dromey (husband of Harriet Harman), surely the only person on the planet who could be a worse MP than previous incumbent Sion Simon.
Quite how anyone could vote Labour when one sees the litany of their failures here on VFPJ, at Future Fair For All and on Archbishop Cranmer’s excellent blog to name but three confuses me somewhat. I was pleased to see Tony McNulty defeated too. Mr McNulty was responsible for a number of government IT projects so deserved to go (in my opinion).
I have no doubt that there are principled MPs on the Labour side who are excellent local MPs. One thinks of Tom Watson – if only more Labour MPs were like him then this country may not be the surveillance state it now is. Are all 258 Labour MPs excellent candidates with track records of making a positive difference to their constituencies? Let me make a prediction – I doubt that Dromey will be a good local MP and wonder just how much he will do to help keep the centre of Erdington alive.
Gordon Brown announced his intention to eventually resign the Labour leadership and then when the cold light of a Conservative – Lib Dem coalition hit him he went to the Queen to resign. Even in departure he spun the same old lines. The only equality you fought for was that we are all criminals in your “government’s” eyes.
I shed no tears over Mr Brown’s departure as Prime Minister, nor do I shed any tears over the passing of the New Labour “government”. Mr Brown’s assault on civil liberties and worshipping at the altar of the all knowing database has turned this country into a modern day Stasi state. I will not miss him and I make no apologies for judging him most harshly.
So it was with joy that I read the text of the Conservative – Liberal Democrat deal, specifically section 10 about Civil Liberties:
The parties agree to implement a full programme of measures to reverse the substantial erosion of civil liberties under the Labour Government and roll back state intrusion.
This will include:
A Freedom or Great Repeal Bill. The scrapping of ID card scheme, the National Identity register, the next generation of biometric passports and the Contact Point Database. Outlawing the finger-printing of children at school without parental permission. The extension of the scope of the Freedom of Information Act to provide greater transparency. Adopting the protections of the Scottish model for the DNA database. The protection of historic freedoms through the defence of trial by jury. The restoration of rights to non-violent protest. The review of libel laws to protect freedom of speech. Safeguards against the misuse of anti-terrorism legislation. Further regulation of CCTV. Ending of storage of internet and email records without good reason. A new mechanism to prevent the proliferation of unnecessary new criminal offences.
That signals a giant “Get stuffed!” to Gordon Brown and his control freak obsession. ID cards, Contact Point, DNA retention, CCTV regulation, internet records storage, libel law review, extending FoI act – these changes are all good.
I would also like to see the Police forces forcibly reminded that harassing photographers is against the law and if necessary, legislation passed to allow people wrongly treated by the police in this way recourse, compensation and severe disciplinary action against the officers responsible. The sooner libel reform is addressed the sooner cases like Simon Singh and Dave Osler (Apparently linking to an objective analysis of Dave Osler’s case could get me threatened with libel) can be prevented from happening in the future.
I would also like to see Kent Ertugrul, Virasb Vahidi, Ian Livingston, Mike Galvin and all the other executives of Phorm & BT responsible for their secret trials in court to face charges over their mass breaches of UK & EU law including RIPA.
There is a lot of repair work to be done for this country. It won’t be easy and Messrs Cameron and Clegg have made that clear. In just a couple of days there is a refreshing whiff of honesty around the government. There will be elements in both parties who don’t like the idea of this coalition. To them I say be realistic. Five more years of New Labour would crucify this country. This coalition keeps both parties in it honest. A majority of people voted for change – work to deliver that change and get Britain Great again.
I can finally look overseas friends in the eye and be proud of this country’s leaders.
Goodbye Gordon. You won’t be missed.