Wednesday, May 21, 2008

How often does the House of Commons get it right?

The vote on the limit on abortion tonight has disturbed me: I'm so used to thinking that the House of Commons will make a bad decision, even when the right one is obvious, that this has left me stunned. MPs show sense and an appreciation of fellow human beings? Surely not. But so they have by rejecting the moves to turn back the clock on this human right.

Interesting, though, that the Tory leader voted to reduce the limit by two weeks. Amazing how he calls other parties indecisive, when he himself acts in such a spineless manner: for goodness' sake, either be in favour of the human right to choose, or make it illegal. Don't dither in the middle, Dave.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Vote Tory, get Labour

If, indeed, she has bated her breath as she proposed, yet another by-election would be in the offing following Cllr Bance's self-suffocation. She was eager to see my response to the local elections, which I've been intending to post for some time, but only now have the opportunity.

There were two winners in Oxford: the LibDems and Labour. Both parties made a net increase in seats. Both achievements could be said to be remarkable: Labour against the national trend; LibDems against recent local tradition, gaining while in administration -- something Labour never achieved this decade. That said, congratulations to Labour on becoming the even-larger largest party (with proviso as set out below), and good luck. Cllr Bance, in particular, will make a good portfolio holder.

The losers: the small parties. Greens, IWCA -- but, most notably, the Conservative Party (who, for a long time, have been a minority interest in Oxford). In terms of votes, the Tories are now the city's third party, but they failed to turn that into any seats whatsoever, losing the two they had by defections. I don't know who was running their campaign, but whoever it was, they're not doing them any favours.

That said, the Tories did achieve something. Coming a close second in my own ward of Headington (due to Chris Clifford, a candidate more assiduous than that party deserves) was not, for them, a success. What will please them more is that their increase in vote made sure that we could not take seats of Labour in some of the key battlegrounds. It's the Conservative Party to whom some of the new Labour councillors should be sending letters of heartfelt gratitude, for pretending they were contenders when they were only spoilers.

This is not to take away from Labour's campaigning vigour. They're street-fighters again, but it's not a pretty sight. For instance, they knew we were a threat in one ward so made an A3 leaflet about our candidate, quoting from an old blog post his reservations about this country's present drug laws. This would be acceptable if our opponents owned up to being old-style Conservatives, who thought our law-and-order system always worked. But they claim to be progressive -- an assertion already in doubt considering their attitudes on civil liberties or environmental issues, but made all the more problematic when they insinuate that prohibition is, oh yes, working so well. They might bluster that a big cause is worthy a small lie but, then, little sense of cause seems left to them. They're left with tactics and they sum them up: pygmies.