mcgillianaire: (BBC Logo)
Here's an excerpt from the speech of a most fascinating politician, that eventually paved the way for the formation of the Social Democratic Party in 1981, and eventually, New Labour in the 1990s. At the time, Jenkins had been out of Parliament for three years and was working in Brussels as Britain's first and only (to date) President of the European Commission. Charles Kennedy later said of the lecture: "Every so often in life, you hear someone articulate your own thoughts - and they do so with an elegance and eloquence which make you wish you had been able to say it yourself. Roy Jenkins's Dimbleby Lecture of 1979 had that effect on me." Even today, this particular passage rings true as much as it did back then:

"The paradox is that we need more change accompanied by more stability of direction. It is a paradox but not a contradiction. Too often we have superficial and quickly reversed political change without much purpose or underlying effect. This is not the only paradox. We need the innovating stimulus of the free market economy without either the unacceptable brutality of its untrammelled distribution of rewards or its indifference to unemployment. This is by no means an impossible combination. It works well in a number of countries. It means that you accept the broad line of division between the public and the private sectors and don't constantly threaten those in the private sector with nationalisation or expropriation.

You also make sure that the state knows its place, not only in relation to the economy, but in relation to the citizen. You are in favour of the right of dissent and the liberty of private conduct. You are against unnecessary centralisation and bureaucracy. You want to devolve decision-making wherever you sensibly can. You want parents in the school system, patients in the health service, residents in the neighbourhood, customers in both nationalised and private industry, to have as much say as possible. You want the nation to be self-confident and outward-looking, rather than insular, xenophobic and suspicious. You want the class system to fade without being replaced either by an aggressive and intolerant proletarianism or by the dominance of the brash and selfish values of a "get rich quick" society. You want the nation, without eschewing necessary controversy, to achieve a renewed sense of cohesion and common purpose."

You can read other extracts of the speech here and here, but I'm not sure if the latter link is a copy of the whole lecture. If anyone knows of a better link or has access to the full speech, I would much appreciate it.
mcgillianaire: (Portcullis Logo)
Uninspiring. Let me stick my neck out on the line. Labour (cough: the unions) have made a mistake in electing the wrong Miliband brother as their leader. Worse still, it seems more likely than not that David will officially end his mainstream political career tomorrow. He has yet to fill in his nomination papers for the shadow cabinet and has already come down to London from Manchester. The Labour frontbench will suffer from his loss greatly. But today was about Ed. He praised the positive achievements of New Labour, Blair and Brown for challenging conventional wisdoms and his brother's graciousness in defeat. But he also tore into New Labour's attack on civil liberties, said the Iraq War was wrong and admitted a Labour government would also have imposed tough public sector cuts halving the deficit within four years. And in a bid to distance himself from the right-wing media imposed "Red Ed" tag, he took a swipe at irresponsible strike action. But he also played to the gallery by promising a bigger levy on bankers' bonuses and denouncing a system in which a banker earns more in a day than a caretaker does in a year. He called Cameron a pessimist while cleverly reworking the Tory's own description of Blair by calling him an optimist once.

It was not the greatest of speeches but there is scope for improvement. He is somewhat between Gordon Brown and Tony Blair in front of the camera; not wholly uncomfortable nor quite yet a natural. As one commentator put it, his speech seemed choppy and felt like it had been put together with a cut-and-paste method. It also seemed like he added words at the end of sentences to grab applause. An orator he is not but at least in comparison with his brother he comes in with a clean slate. Or does he? He talked about Labour grabbing back the mantle of leading on civil liberties. In particular he referred to Labour's disastrous attempt to extend the detention of terrorist suspects without charge from 28 days to 90 days in the wake of 7/7. But guess what? He voted in favour of it. He also decided to come off the fence by describing the Iraq War as wrong. Fair enough you might think. Finally a senior Labour politician admitting fault. But hang on a second. Just a few months ago (in May) he made it clear in an interview with the Guardian that while the weapons inspectors should've been given more time, "what I am not saying is that the war was undertaken for the wrong motives". Well, which is it? You can't have it both ways!

So he might not be Red Ed but perhaps Flip-Flopper Ed? Almost everybody in the Party seems to be in agreement with his speech. The only prominent voice of discontent was that of every Londoner's favourite Bob Crow, the head of the Railway and Maritime Transport Union:
    "Ed Miliband has to decide whose side he is on – the working class on the streets and on the picket lines or the Condems and their corporate supporters. All the signs are that he is already caving in to pressure from the rightwing press and as a consequence he will alienate millions of voters who are right at the sharp end of the cuts programme."
The trade union bosses didn't clap when Ed said nobody should have any truck with "overblown rhetoric about waves of irresponsible strikes", while his brother and other New Labour cabinet ministers remained stony faced and didn't clap when he spoke about the Iraq War. However the media went overboard in discovering that his brother asked Harriet Harman (the deputy Labour leader) why she was clapping when she voted for the War. It was odd that she clapped but the media have to take their share of the blame for playing up the psychodrama between the two brothers. I feel sorry for David. What a torrid week it's been for him. I don't blame him if he leaves politics.
mcgillianaire: (Default)
I've copied a speech made by the Lib Dem Shadow Home Sec, Chris Huhne, at the British Institute of Human Rights on 5 May. For someone who isn't a trained lawyer I was thoroughly impressed with his knowledge of the Law and how to reform it. I also found it useful how he distinguished between human and citizens' rights. A very important distinction. Too bad they won't come to power anytime soon.

Introduction
Thank you very much for your introduction, and for inviting me here to speak today. Lectures such as this, and the wider work of the British Institute of Human Rights, are vitally important in the current climate. Global terrorism is a challenge. The global economic downturn is unlikely to improve the climate of tolerance. Our commitment to human rights will come under fire on a near daily basis.

Of course, this lecture does not happen in a vacuum or coincidentally. As Michael Wills pointed out here just weeks ago, this is an important time to be discussing human rights in this country. I too believe that we are at a potentially great turning point in the history of human rights in Britain. This has ignited debate on the subject – what rights we should have, how they should be legislated for, and indeed what the very essence of a right really is. These are extremely important questions to ask ourselves, and I am very glad to be here today to contribute to the debate.

I want to discuss two closely related topics. The first is the Human Rights Act and the recent Green Paper launched by the Government on a Bill of Rights and Responsibilities. The second is the Liberal Democrats’ Freedom Bill. The aim of this draft Bill is to claw back some of the many civil liberties and freedoms that have been eroded over the last 20 years. I see the two as being connected in one vital way. Rights are fundamental to how we live our lives – to enabling us to live our lives freely. The Freedom Bill aims to remove the obstacles to the free enjoyment of these rights that have been erected by successive Conservative and then Labour Governments.

Read more... )

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