The British Political Scene Since 1970
The art of government at work in Modern Britain as R.M. Lamb sees it.
1. Opening Remarks
The last (Conservative) progressive Prime Minister was Heath who took us in to the Common Market in the early 1970’s. That was an inspired move in the face of hostile opposition within his own party in Parliament not to mention the parliamentary Labour Party. He was not put off his aim. His reign was all too short 1970 – 1974. This policy on the Common Market of Edward Heath set the tone of British politics for the next 40 years and still ongoing. It lead directly to the European Convention on Human Rights being enshrined in our law in 1997. Then came our membership of the European Union with all its elaborate entanglement for our farmers businesses and civil service and parliament in the wake of Heath’s European Communities Act 1972 – 1973. Heath appears to have irreversibly set the European course for the UK and may be no British mainstream political party will have the radical courage to take us out of this Union. I argue such a radical course of action is required in my European Union essay released on Kindle on 28 July 2013 with my Convention on Human Rights easy in which I also submit for repeal of that Act of Parliament.
2. The present Climate in British Politics
I would say unfriendly to freedom of expression and thought and locked in to hidebound thinking and unimaginative responses to current events. Where is the spirit of Gladstone, Lloyd George, Churchill, Beveridge and Grimond? We want ideas and men. We need men to argue for the measures. Nothing can be done without both the men and their policies e.g. Gladstone and Irish Home Rule in the late 19th Century. Lloyd George (Chancellor) National Insurance Stamp radical budget and the Parliament Act both pre 1914. The Welfare State of Beveridge 1945 – 1950 the most radical policy of the 20th Century. Churchill’s last ditch stands alone against Nazi Germany despite defeatism. Our policies have become skeletal, stripped of the flesh of real thought and above all radical thought. Even the Conservatives may be radical but the present coalition and opposition are devoid of originality and driving through policies that will create real change. If you wish to be a caretaker cabinet so be it but you will not serve your Country’s needs for the future.
3. Thatcher’s Government 1979 – 1989
- Her Government is described as radical yet her greatest achievements were in the field of foreign policy e.g.
- Dismantling the Iron Curtain with Reagan.
- Renegotiating the EU Budget contribution for Britain.
- Winning the Falklands War.
- Holding out hope for Republic of South Africa.
- At home she was confrontational and destructive or unoriginal rather than radically new in her policies e.g.
- Closure of the coal mines and their communities
- Imposing the Poll Tax which lead directly to her downfall.
- Reducing National debt by cutting back on public expenditure (refrenchment was a Gladstonian policy).
- Maintaining a stern line on IRA provisional lead terrorism and politics.
4. The Future of British Politics
We create enormous goodwill in Europe and the world by our envied Westminster Parliamentary democracy, our respected diplomats, our good influence over the USA Presidency and Congress and transatlantic alliance and finally through our Commonwealth of Nations and the Queen, Elizabeth II and her heir apparent. The British idea of “fair play” and justice as administered by our Judges is at the centre of diplomatic and political debate worldwide. I argue we should follow this goodwill up by:
- Withdrawing from the EU.
- Repealing the ECHR convention to make our Administrative and Judges more flexible and exemplary and less staid.
- Giving up our Nuclear Deterrent and switching funds to Foreign Office related expenditure including stronger conventional armed forces (see my Deterrent essay released on Kindle 16 July 2013).
5. Britain and the World
Britain has always lead the way in the world since the Napoleonic period when we defeated the resurgent Bonarparte in 1815 at Waterloo. Our democratic government has remained stable and independent during the period 1700 – 2000 and still does as many have observed. Let us drive Britain into the heart of the world alongside the USA and show we mean business by carrying through the radical changes I argue for.
6. At Home
Here we need a healthy parliamentary debate and bi-partisan politics in Government (parties who have strong political bases) With a firm political base a party will go for its policies and represent its power base. Currently the Liberal Democrats are hanging on by their finger tips sampling a little power thanks to Cameron’s weakness knowing they may be virtually wiped out in a ‘first past the post’ election. Electoral Reform (proportional representation) is vital and Clegg has capitulated to Cameron on this crucial plank of the old Liberal Party policy of the 1960’s. With proper electoral reform parliament will decide these issues I am bringing forward in this essay. Currently the coalition is getting nowhere on them. The cross party support (bi-partisan) generated by this electoral reform will give parliament the strength to usher in an Administration to being these policies about. Electoral Reform will entrench the third party (the Lib Dems) and give them a power base from which to argue for these radical policies at home and abroad.
Essentially in politics as in life where it counts there must be constant change or our institutions and government and policies will atrophy. Blair and Brown were not reformers rather they maintained the status quo of the market economy. Brown expertly defended the banking system worldwide pre 2010. Clearly someone has to ‘hold the fort’ but now is the time for radical change again if we are to play our proper role in the world. I am sure Blair and Brown would agree. If Cameron and Clegg will not or cannot ‘deliver the goods’ then let them make way for those who will! Britain should not be held down any more – we will raise the standard as of old. No one has any right to stay in power however you look at it.