The next age of government
March 5, 2010 7:28 AM   Subscribe

While much is being made of dysfunctional government [1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9] and hung parliament [1,2,3,4,5], David Cameron's pitches for a fairer society [1,2,3], smarter policy [1,2,3] and employee ownership [1,2,3,4,5,6,7] have been positively, uh, Obamanian.* posted by kliuless (26 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know why, but in that "fairer society" video, I kept expecting him to all of a sudden be like "and we're going to kill all the poor people" and then have some writhing alien thing burst from his skull and warble to us "because it's not fair to the wealthiest Gloopomorphs if they won't work for their welfare checks."
posted by shmegegge at 7:37 AM on March 5, 2010

I am sure that this post is enlightening, crucial to my betterment, and represents knowledge I should have as an American citizen.

I am just not sure I have time this morning to review 33 links.
posted by Futurehouse at 7:54 AM on March 5, 2010 [5 favorites]

I don't understand why a minority position would lead to a hung parliament. Coalition governments are common in parliamentary systems.

That first Andrew Sullivan is almost maddening.

posted by pmv at 8:01 AM on March 5, 2010

American OMG SOCIALIST Ideologically Most Similar To A Conservative In Most Of Civilized World, Film At 11
posted by DU at 8:02 AM on March 5, 2010 [4 favorites]

I am just not sure I have time this morning to review 33 links.

No, I could do with a bit of focus. Plus the one I did click on suggested it would be an Ezra Klein article on a hung parliament when it was neither.

I don't understand why a minority position would lead to a hung parliament.

Because the Lib Dems have said they don't intend to join a coalition.
posted by ninebelow at 8:07 AM on March 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

Hung parliment? Let PROROGUE!
posted by blue_beetle at 8:09 AM on March 5, 2010

Hahahaa hung parliment!
posted by anniecat at 8:12 AM on March 5, 2010


I keep thinking of the scene in Waiting for Guffman where Corky St. Clair is doing visualization exercises.

Corky St. Clair: I'd like you to close your eyes now, and I'd like you to try something, all right? Now what are you thinkin', what are you feeling right now, with your eyes closed?

[Blows in Dr. Pearl's ear]

Dr. Allan Pearl: I feel a bree... a... you're blowing in my ear.

Corky St. Clair: Okay, all right, but you see you jumped... to a conclusion!

Dr. Pearl: Oh!

Corky St. Clair: See, what I'm asking for is... your first feeling... was not that I was blowing on you. It was more like... Virgin Isles, or... Bahamanian...
posted by orville sash at 8:16 AM on March 5, 2010 [2 favorites]

That first Andrew Sullivan is almost maddening.

Almost all Andrew Sullivan is maddening.
posted by blucevalo at 8:25 AM on March 5, 2010 [2 favorites]

Except the Tory take on 'employee ownership' is at heart a stealth plot to undermine our public services by fragmentation and marketisation and attack existing national pay deals, with the special bonus of handing off to them responsibility for implementing cuts so Cameron's putative incoming government can distance themselves when they make those. We already own the public sector, thanks very much David. Advocate collectivisation in the private sector and show us you really mean it.
posted by Abiezer at 8:28 AM on March 5, 2010 [4 favorites]

Because the Lib Dems have said they don't intend to join a coalition.

You've got to wonder how long they'll hold that position while being wooed by the other parties though.
I mean, principles are one thing, but having a say on how the country's run? It'll take a strong leader to withstand that kind of temptation.....
posted by Markb at 8:33 AM on March 5, 2010

I mean, principles are one thing, but having a say on how the country's run? It'll take a strong leader to withstand that kind of temptation.

Well I'm not British, but I've never particularly had the impression that the national Lib Dem leaders even want to run the country. Seems like a lot of work, and after all it would require leaving the permanent moral high ground that you have when you don't have to get your hands dirty with the ugly business of actually governing.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 9:16 AM on March 5, 2010

Instead of reading the 36 links posted in the FPP, I found myself listening to this.
posted by gwint at 10:02 AM on March 5, 2010

I knew they were going to pitch this. Their first presser three years ago included a very upper crust shadow minister going on and on about their opposition to Blair's ID scheme, complete with repeated mentions of how the FBI and Microsoft were behind the standards for the ID cards.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:07 AM on March 5, 2010

You've got to wonder how long they'll hold that position while being wooed by the other parties though.

Electoral reform. That would be the real carrot for the LibDems. German-style MMP would see them expect to get huge extra influence.

Which is precisely the reason neither Labour or the Conservatives would offer it.

(The worst case scenario would probably be if the Tories could govern with the assistance of a nutty fringe of Unionist MPs or somesuch.)
posted by rodgerd at 10:30 AM on March 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

The best option, frankly, is for Lib-Dem to get as many votes as possible, as they are the *only* route towards real reform.

The fact is, they *should* be prepared to form a coalition, in exchange for strongly effecting the policies of the British government. Their policies are the ones that could, over time, help revitalize government, and bring Labour back towards its roots.

It's not Labour that's the problem. It's that people have seen New Labour, and, given their druthers, they'd rather have old Labour back.
posted by markkraft at 10:45 AM on March 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

(Either way though, Brown should concentrate on the economy for a limited period of time, and then give someone younger, more charismatic, and less warlike a chance.)
posted by markkraft at 10:47 AM on March 5, 2010

That first Andrew Sullivan is almost maddening.

Almost all Andrew Sullivan is maddening.
That's actually Alex Massie, who's guest blogging.

Anyway, unlike the U.S. republican party, it does seem like the conservatives are more for civil liberties. For example, there's this comment from Gordon Brown defending taking DNA samples from people arrested, but not convicted of crimes:
"Some argue that liberty dictates we should immediately wipe from the DNA database everyone who has been arrested but not convicted of an offence. But if we did this, some sickening crimes would have gone unsolved, and many dangerous criminals would have remained at large.

"Let me give you just one example. In May 1991, a woman confined to a wheelchair was attacked and raped by a man who tricked his way into her home. A DNA sample was recovered, but no suspect was found. In June 2007, South Yorkshire Police's 'cold case team' reinvestigated the case and the DNA sample was re-analysed using new techniques.

"A match was made with a profile from a man named Jeremiah Sheridan who had been arrested in 2005 in Cambridgeshire for a public order offence, but not convicted.

"It proved very difficult to trace Sheridan - but after the case was highlighted on 'Crimewatch' in 2008, South Yorkshire Police got several new leads including one that Sheridan was in Australia. He was arrested on his return at Heathrow airport and, last September, having pleaded guilty, he was sentenced to 16 and a half years."

[...]"The next time you hear somebody question the value of retaining DNA profiles from those who have been arrested but not convicted, remember Jeremiah Sheridan."
the U.K. government seems obsessed with spying on and tracking people.
posted by delmoi at 10:56 AM on March 5, 2010

Mark's two laws of politics:

1> When the major party on the right suggests that they'll be a party of ideas, behave reasonably, and implement reforms, they're essentially lying.

2> When the major party on the left says that they'll move to the center, they'll not only do it... they'll greatly overdo it, blurring the difference between them and those on the far right.
posted by markkraft at 10:57 AM on March 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

Of course the Lib-Dems would form a coalition with Labour if the alternative was a Tory majority (or as was said up a bit, a Tory-Ulster Unionist gang, god forbid). I could even see them in a Tory coalition if the right electoral reform package was offered. But they can't say in advance anything other than no, otherwise the Tories can campaign in middle income areas that a vote for the Lib-Dems is a vote for Labour*.

*obviously they'll do this anyway, but nowhere near as much.
posted by cromagnon at 11:04 AM on March 5, 2010

There's only one thing sure about this general election: the next one will be even more interesting.

I don't foresee this election properly resolving any of the outstanding issues over party positioning, political trust, or constitutional reform. The next few years in UK politics will probably be fun.
posted by Sova at 11:54 AM on March 5, 2010

Anyway, unlike the U.S. republican party, it does seem like the conservatives are more for civil liberties.

The luxury of being in opposition. You could probably look back to 79-97 and find lots of excellent pro-civil liberty statements from Labour.

The Tories track record in power doesn't back it up in the slightest. I don't believe that leopard has changed its spots.
posted by reynir at 12:00 PM on March 5, 2010 [2 favorites]

Bugger. Imagine the first line of the post above is italicised now, and that the poster didn't forget to do it.
posted by reynir at 1:50 PM on March 5, 2010

It's just mood music, I wouldn't get too excited. Remember when the Tories were going to be the ecological party? Whatever happened to that, eh? If they return to power it'll be business as usual.
posted by WPW at 4:00 PM on March 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


Iceland Voters Reject Repayment Plan
Plucky Little Iceland - "The Icelanders feel as though they've been bullied (especially by the British) and it's hard not to agree with them. Quite why the Icelandic government should be held responsible for the British government's entirely voluntary decision to bail out savers and investors is a mystery."

Markets look for political leadership
Lessons for Greece from an outpost of empire - "In 1933, Canada's banks threatened to suspend lending to Newfoundland because of concern about its creditworthiness. Newfoundland turned to London for help... It wanted Newfoundland's parliament to vote itself out of existence and turn over all powers of government to a commission of six civil servants, three from the capital, St John's, and three from London. Facing the humiliating prospect of default, Newfoundland's parliament obliged and dissolved its country's democratic government."

The markets have cornered the political establishment
US vs. the Bond Vigilantes - "Chris Wood of CLSA talking about the timeline before the U.S. sees its own moment of Greece-style sovereign debt non-zen. He sees that moment coming in the next five years, with the dollar 'losing its paper standing.' "
posted by kliuless at 5:43 AM on March 8, 2010

Revolutionary Not Evolutionary Times
The "New World Order" is an American-led, European- and Japanese-influenced attempt to build a single worldwide network of institutions and laws that would govern most aspects of the emerging international system.

For better or worse, I'm beginning to think that the whole sweeping and daring new world order project may have reached its limits... The BRIC powers aren't nearly as invested in the institutional models of the New World Order as Europe and Japan are. No longer tied to Washington or anybody else by a perceived security threat, and conscious of their growing economic and political clout, the BRICs and other countries around the world are rapidly losing their respect for a system of global governance that does not serve their perceived interests.

Beyond this, the increased small 'd' democratization of the world makes public opinion and cultural and religious politics more important around the world. This makes it harder for elites anywhere to sell international institutions and agreements seen as imposing alien values or interests on domestic society... Developing international agreements on complex topics that intimately affect domestic politics in countries with so many different interests and such different cultural histories is going to keep on getting harder. It may well be that the progress toward a more 'institutionalized' world at the global level has come to a juddering halt.

This is going to cause problems. The Trilateral vision may be out of date, but the problems it sought to address are real. More and more of the world's problems will require international coordination and action, but that international cooperation is going to be harder to get. We have an increasingly volatile economic system and the effect of human activity on the global commons, the air and the sea in particular, continues to grow...

[W]orld politics will revolve less around institution-building and law and more about finding ad-hoc solutions for specific issues. American diplomacy will need more Kissingerian students of power politics and fewer lawyers. Rather than trying to build an enduring global framework that will last until the end of time, we will have to think much more about navigating through stormy seas.

The American foreign policy establishment, essentially bureaucratic and legalistic in its approach, will have a hard time adjusting to a world in which bureaucratic thinking and proper procedure matters less and less. Like an army of peacetime, desk generals suddenly confronted with a war, our technocratic and bureaucratic foreign policy thinkers are going to face a whole new set of challenges. Most of the desk generals fail when they get to the front...

We are living in revolutionary not evolutionary times. I'm not sure that either our foreign policy elite or the broader public is ready for the kind of wrenching changes that a new vision of America's role in the world might entail, but ready or not, they are coming our way.
cf. The Perils of Common Sense - "Theodore Roosevelt may have called him a 'filthy little atheist,' but Tom Paine's pamphlet 'Common Sense' got right to the heart of the American world view... But maybe we can be a little smarter about common sense and think a little more critically about how sometimes the most 'obvious' ideas are the ones that need to be criticized..."

viz. The Crisis of Capitalism: Keynes Versus Marx
Keynes ended The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money with the famous words: 'But soon or late, it is ideas, not vested interests which are dangerous for good or evil' (Keynes 1936: 383-4).

Anyone involved in the production of ideas has to believe this, unless he is being paid by someone to produce the ideas. In today's world, the chief manufactory of ideas is the Academy. Pure research has long been recognised as an independent intellectual pursuit; its hallmark, disinterestedness. Its purpose is the search for truth. The pecuniary interest of scholars is not directly involved in either the direction of their enquiry or its results (Collini 2009).

At the same time, there is what Schumpeter called the 'sociology of success.' Put crudely, why are some ideas acceptable, and others rejected or marginalised? In the natural sciences this question is relatively easy to answer: newer ideas bring us closer to reality* than the older ones. For this reason, quantum physics replaced classical physics (Cartwright 1999:2). Reality is unchanging, only the theory changes as it improves our understanding of reality. Predictive power is the ultimate test of the truth of a scientific hypothesis.

In social sciences this is much less true. The natural world does not interfere with one's observation of it; the social world does. It is the changeability of the object being studied which demarcates social sciences from natural sciences. Social reality is constantly shifting, problems crucial at one time become irrelevant at another. As a result, propositions in social science do not satisfy the 'universality criterion.' They are limited in time and place...

And this, of course, was precisely Marx's contention, when he wrote "What else does the history of ideas prove, than that intellectual production changes in proportion as material production is changed? The ruling ideas of each age have ever been the ideas of its ruling class" (Marx-Engels Selected Works, 1962:52).
also see John Maynard Keynes and Ludwig von Mises on Probability & Negative Probabilities in Financial Modeling btw Exotic Probabilities [1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9]

*"The late social anthropologist and philosopher Ernest Gellner had a really profound analysis of the political aspects of scientific rationality (see e.g. Plough, Sword and Book, or most centrally Legitimation of Belief; or the exegesis by Michael Lessnoff), where he pointed out that one of the effects of rationalism and empiricism was to 'locate the well of truth outside the walls of the city,' i.e., to create a source of epistemic authority which was not under social control, and which could be appealed to by those currently lacking in power. (He was, of course, fully aware of all the ways in which this is only an imperfect approximation.) This tends directly to undermine traditional sources of epistemic authority, which are overwhelmingly self-justifying and circular — authoritarian in a stricter sense."
posted by kliuless at 7:36 AM on March 11, 2010

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