Don’t Panic! A Very British Coup or a Terribly British Compromise?

 Over the last few days there’s been some very strange stories emerging and then submerging again in the UK Media – the General Election has made the silly season come early this years.  One story about a prospective Tory candidate has been apparently blocked with a gagging order, and another story about a possible car bomb in the Aldgate area of London fell off the radar.  Combine that with military ‘Chinook’ helicopters being seen operating in the vicinity of 7 or 8 towns and cities in Britain (whether the helicopters were black or not I’m not sure) and we have a very panicky media right now.

A story that seems to be pretty popular right now is that on Friday morning, whether or not he wins an outright majority or not, David Cameron will go to the palace, tell the Queen he’s forming a Government and basically trot back to Downing Street and demand Gordon Brown vacates the premises.  The various posts / Tweets / etc. are best seen here.  Whether Downing Street will be emptied with the aid of a team of crack chinless wonders from Conservative Central Office, or whether Brown would tell Cameron to bugger off is debatable.

Just how likely is this to happen – to be honest, I very much doubt it’s likely to happen at all.  To me it sounds like a good ol’ bit of Labour FUD – Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt.  If you don’t vote us in, the Tories will take over by the back door, so give us your votes.  This from the Government who have:

  • Remove Habeus Corpus from the statute books for certain crimes.
  • Gone to war on some very dodgy legal grounds.
  • Introduced a series of laws that have repeatedly eroded our civil liberties.

Of course, something like this would put the Queen in a rather bad position – were she to be asked to allow Clegg or Cameron to form a Government before Gordon Brown admitted defeat – even if he were leading a minority party – it would put her in the insidious position of being asked to support the new boy against Labour or Labour against the new boy – not at all a good place to be.

It’s times like this that I wish we had a written Constitution in this country and a Head of State of some sort to apply it.  As it is, we’re going to be relying on common sense on Friday morning to see us through the next few days, as I believe a hung Parliament is almost inevitable.

Earth calling Tim Cook…

There’s a scene in Monty Python’s ‘The Life of Brian’ in which a character asks ‘What have the Romans ever done for us?’  This is then followed by a host of other characters giving many useful things that the Romans HAVE provided for the people of Palestine.

I was reminded of this sketch when I encountered this article about Apple’s Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook in which he comments that there isn’t a single thing that a Netbook does well.  Time, I have some bad news for you, sunshine; there are lots of things that Netbooks do well – however, they’re probably things that Tim Cook doesn’t do.  In the last week or so:

  • I used the Netbook to test an ADSL connection at the point of entry of the phone-line to the house.
  • When out and about I used it to write a blog article whilst waiting for an appointment.
  • Hooked it up to my amateur radio gear to decode some weather fax images.
  • Downloaded some code from an SVN repository, made a quick fix and uploaded it again.

In other words, stuff I couldn’t use my Blackberry for, and stuff that I needed a real keyboard for – whilst the Crackberry is great, I don’t fancy writing 500 words of blog post or trying to debug code on it.

But it’s real, genuine work being done, and not stuff I could do on a keyboard-less, USBless iPad.  Sorry Tim – here on Planet reality we’re not all managers and critics and reviewers and surfers.  Some of us actually do real work on the move, which at the moment (and probably will do for some time to come) requires a real keyboard and a piece of kit that I can actually install software on – not a closed garden that looks good but is at the same time too big to put in my pocket and too small to act as a sensible paperweight.

I love teh concept of the Pad – but this sort of arrogance from Apple – following on from their recent attacks on development toolkits and the serious limitations in connectivity of the iPad – really makes me wonder whether the bods at Cupertino ever spend time in the real world watching how people use technology.

Please vote positively, and then plan for the future…

The little grey cells are still going through the mill here at Pritchard Towers as I try and work out who it is I’m going to be voting for on Thursday morning.  Actually, I’ll be voting twice – local election and General Election – and it’s probably safe to say that I’ll vote for different parties in each election.

In a previous post here on Joe’s Jottings I commented that negative voting is not the way forward, and I’m still maintaining that viewpoint.  My current approach is to look at the policies that each party is offering, and the record of the parties in terms of ‘What they say against what they do’.  The policies that matter to me are going to be very different than those that matter to my friends and colleagues, and the general confusion that all of us seem to be having this time around is reflected in the closeness and volatility of the opinion polls, and the intense and occasionally bad-tempered debate and discussion that I’ve witnessed between party activists and leaders in the media and amongst people who I know who are usually pretty much apolitical.

Passion is politics is good – provided it’s positive and focused and not just a knee jerk – ‘Against x because of who they are’, as I said here.   When there is passion and nowhere to focus it, that’s often when the extremists manage to score points by creating policies designed to harvest the strong feelings from people who feel ignored and disenfranchised by the major parties.  I have no doubt that any significant gains by extremist parties within the UK in the General and Local elections will be based on the harvesting of negativity rather than on affirmative votes for the policies they offer.

The question remains for a lot of people – who to vote for, when none of the major parties seem to offer what we want in it’s entirety.  Whichever party gets in, I’m not convinced that there will be significant differences in the what happens in the UK in the next few years.  One party’s cuts may be deeper and more rapidly applied; another party may spread the pain.  Whatever happens, that pain is going to have be endured unless the Government of the day is happy to allow the IMF to influence the policy of the government as it is now doing in Greece (and is likely to soon find itself doing in other Eurozone countries).

So, what to do.  First of all, I’m going to vote for whoever will do the least long term damage, with particular relevance to the policy areas that matter most to me – civil liberties and personal freedom, sustainable and environmentally sound economic development and a reduction is state interference with people’s day to day lives.

Then, I’m going to continue to stay involved with my community ‘on the ground’ by working with community groups to make lasting, sustainable improvements to my community.  I’m not bothered about the politics of those I work with – I would just like to think that we’ll all be working for the long term benefits of our communities, rather than political parties.

Who knows – analysts have already said that whoever gets to make the decisions for the next year or so may well be out of Government for several years to come.  Perhaps we’ll see massive cowardice from whoever is elected, in that they’ll put party before country.  I hope not. 

What’s best for the UK?  A hung parliament, perhaps with some electoral reform, might be what we need to make a further long-term improvement in the political processes of the UK – the rise of ‘Independents’ in Parliament, who are loyal to know party but will vote for what’s best for their communities.