Monday 29 November 2010

Free cannabis for Students!!!

OK, the title's a complete lie, but it got you to open the link, didn't it?

If you could only achieve my levels of geeky nerd-hood, you would have known much of what the coalition planned to do well before the election. I was under no illusions, I knew VAT would rise, I knew culture and sport would be clobbered, I knew IDS planned to totally reform welfare and I knew that Nick Clegg wanted a deal with Cameron and would have not tolerated one with Labour even if they had won more seats.

I remember the last Conservative government in all it's nasty-party glory. Education neglected, health crippled, culture invisible, crime soaring, society denied, unemployment raging. My only glimmer of hope was the assurance they'd changed. That "Dave" really had dragged them into the 21st Century and that Conservatism was now Compassionate.

Watching the CSR settled that question pretty conclusively. I watched open mouthed as Osborne went further than even I ever imagined he might. Often, the policies he was announcing sounded fairly reasonable, but it seemed no-one had considered the impact of them 2 or 3 years down the line.

There were serious risks attached - not just to one or two policies, but to all of them. I had the impression that  Dave had stood at the head of the cabinet table in front of a whiteboard, urging all departments to "Think outside of the box," encouraging policy formation through "Blue Sky Thinking."  The PR man could inspire his team to dream, but like most good marketing men, felt little need to concern himself with the finished product. Details were something mere mortals would work out when the time came.

The Immigration Cap might well lead to a skills shortage, the VAT rise would only take money out of the recovering economy, the housing benefit cap could dispossess thousands of families. Scrapping cancer guarantees and NHS targets would cost lives, whilst cutting local authority budgets would squeeze schools. Unemployment would rise and therefore the benefit bill would rise with it. Crime would soar, (as it always does when unemployment is high) but the police would be short staffed, and unable to react. Even if they did catch the criminals, courts would have closed and prison places would have been cut. Reducing care budgets would only put extra pressure on the NHS, as elderly patients block more beds with nowhere to go home to.

My biggest fear was that by the time people fully realised the impact of so many jumbled policies, so much damage would have been done, it would be hard to ever reverse. I had faced such a wall of apathy during the election, I feared no-one would ever care about anything again. I remembered all to well how much we had put up with under the last Conservative government before we finally put our foot down over the Poll Tax. We would have to pass the compulsory three years tutting, then a year or so tutting and shrugging before we moved on to a good few years of writing very stern letters to the Times. Only when every very British form of protest had been exhausted would we take to the streets a la France -  us Brits seem to find resistance uncouth.

But hang on, what's this? A sea of beanie hats, dreads and pink hair has risen up! (A little after midday, but better late than never.) There are tens of thousands and more join every day. They tweet and they digg and they poke and they meme. Against all the odds, they are achieving formidable!! Their flower-power parents couldn't be more surprised to find their grunting hulks of lethargy painting banners and planning marches.

Students have declared the rise in tuition fees unacceptable and they have done it just 6 months into the coalition. They have blazed the trail. Nurses and doctors and teachers and the disabled have watched the footage of rallies and demonstrations and realised that they can say no too.

I'm firmly convinced that we ain't seen nothing yet. In two or three years, I fear that we, the people, will need to remove our support for the coalition. I couldn't be more delighted that it is young people that are showing us the way. By not waiting until it was too late, they've shown the rest of us that we don't have to either.


  1. You're right (as usual) Sue. Violence aside, I watched the student protest with pride. How ironic that the thing that finally awakened political passion in the younger generation was the Tories! Truth is that when there is a grievance the election turnout always increases - If we can only persuade those decent Lib Dems left to tilt the balance and force a vote of no confidence....

  2. What I also like is the political savvy of the majority in being angry with the trouble makers because they know what the media and police will do with it... and they are so young, even 14 and 15y olds.

    But there is a difference between the present 30+y olds and the under 25's. Using my daughters' friendship groups as an exemplar - the over 30's were not really political as teenagers whereas many of the under 25's were. Feminism has even been revived ... and not the Spice Girl variety!

    Now, how can we 'unionise' the long term sick and disabled people to get publicity against the horrors of the CSR in the same way?

  3. Sue,

    I typed a really long reply to this that got zapped. Do you have a back up copy of my reply in your email box?

  4. Here it is!! Funnily enough, I've just posted on your blog almost the exact same kind of post, lol

    "Sue, Thoughtful post. If I am honest it is not a view I share, but I do respect it. One thing we will no for sure, is that IN government there are no hiding places. The public hold all governments to account. If you are correct, then the Labour Party has a bright future ahead of it. I think you are probably correct to say that our streets are likely to be more eventful. I also can support your argument that you did envisage a VAT rise, well in advance of its occurence. This generation of our youth are much much different to anything that has gone before £80k of Debt scares the living bejayus out of our teenagers. All parties have underestimated the aspiration of our youth. They are yearning for the knowledge based economy that Gordy often talked about. In my view, your are correct to say that we can expect more from them. For me, however, DC/NC are no comparison to Thatcher. Red strategy will have to be thoughtful than pursuing that line. I enjoyed your post"

  5. This is getting confusing Eoin, lol. Let's chat on your site....

  6. Eoin - Your blog isn't loading!! I can't get back to your site. Oh well, I'#ll have to post here :

    ComRes/Independent: LAB 40%, CON 36%, LDEM 12%

    YouGov Lab 40, Con 40, Lib 10.

    I love being right, lol

  7. I've hesitated to say this, but I really think YouGov are starting to look a bit out.

    They're out on a limb now on both how high they score blue and how low they score Lib.

    I know you love 'em Eoin, but something just isn't looking right.

  8. Sue,

    On YG, yes they are out of kilter arent they....

    The past vote recall is the tightest of all the companies....

    Their decision not to reweight don't knows has a negative pull on yellow not red..

    The one part f their methodology that I do not like, is their rewieghting of CDEs and Northerners and 18-25s.

    I have long suspected that WWC reds are unrepresented in their samples...

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