Bill's Archived Comments

Week beginning Monday, 27th November 2000

Prescott - WHY Does He Do It? - And WHY Does Tony Let Him?

Government by crisis; got to show "the people" we're working hard - even if, IN REALITY, we're not achieving much, or indeed anything! Such is the way the government of the United Kingdom is being run under 'New Labour' - it brings back uncanny, and sadly alarming, memories of previous Labour governments and the much-unlamented Wilson and Callaghan (.... daddy of Baroness Jay, of course).

So, Deputy Prime Minister Prescott is 'gutted' is he? If only! A more sober assessment is that his apparent aim to have an 'achievement' to his credit, something he has signally failed to achieve in his bailiwick of 'Transport Supremo', has been stymied by his failure to appreciate that what he thinks is 'good' (his prescription for the outcome of the World Climate Change Conference at The Hague) is not universally seen to be so, and the exposure of his 'policy' as 'posturing'; Britain's relatively good performance on emission control has more to do with the policies of the last Conservative government (coupled of course with the decline of manufacturing and the virtual demise of our coal industry) than with the duplicitous fuel tax policies of this Labour government, which has found this merely a convenient mechanism to increase the government's tax-take with only the flimsiest pretence that it has anything to do with environmental concerns.

More Mixed Signals From the Conservatives!

As Michael Portillo (not my favourite senior Conservative by any means) continues valiantly to try and drag the Conservative Party kicking and screaming into the latter half of the twentieth century (whereas the wider world is about to enter the twenty-first century!) the Scottish Conservative Justice Spokesman splashes some icy water around, just to remind us that the forward-thinking 'disease' hasn't yet become an epidemic!

Interviewed in the Spanish Newspaper 'El Pais', Portillo averred: "It's not the job of the Government to tell people how to live their lives. If you're an economic liberal, you ought to be a social liberal as well. All Conservatives need to think very seriously. We were hit very, very hard in 1997 and obviously we have to think about that extremely carefully". Such thinking is a sign that the Conservative Party retains some, at least, of its traditional ability to adapt it policies to changing realities, economic, political and social.

But of course there are other forces at work, too. Phil Gallie is but the latest senior(-ish) Conservative to imply that 'Human Rights' are merely a sign of the obsession with 'political correctness' they ascribe to this Government, rather than one of the principal reasons why this country fought a hard six-year war, with for critical parts of this period precious little support from other countries, to remove the scourge of Nazism and Fascism from Europe. He believes that moves to repeal the law forbidding more than two adult males from having sex (even in the privacy of their own home) make the Scottish Executive a 'laughing stock'. Of course, no such law exists in relation to mixed (male-female) group sexual activities, or indeed female-only group sexual activities. Whatever one may think of the morality of group sexual activities, it is not clear why different laws should be applied to one category of such an activity - and Mr Gallie gives no indication of his thoughts on this. One of the fundamental rights guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms is the right to privacy, and it sickens me that the Conservative Party, of all parties, should seek to demean this vital right as mere 'political correctness'.

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