Politics UK: Culloden

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Left-wing tabloid. Endorsed Labour since about 500,000 BC.
Pre Round - March 1990

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Only a united Labour Party can end Tory rule 

By and large Labour has had a good leadership election, the two candidates have run campaigns which has definitely highlighted the differences both in substance and style between the two men who want to be Britain's next Labour Prime Minister. James McCrimmon is not the world's most natural orator, but he gets over this with an intellectual clarity of purpose - he is an effective and passionate proponent of what he believes in, and great at making Labour members feel good about the future. Rhys Morrison knows how to deliver a speech, he knows what he wants to say, and he knows how to convince waverers of the merits of his arguments - people like him, and he has been using that bonhomie style to woo sceptical Union Barons.

Beyond the two contenders for leadership, there have been other stars of the campaign - notably Tommy Dawson, whose fiery socialist passion has fired up his left-wing base, and gone right for the jugular when it comes to the failures of this Tory Government - he has been an effective surrogate for Mr McCrimmon, and indeed a a talent in his own right - sources in the Socialist Campaign Group have even suggested that their ticket might have been served better had Dawson been at the top of it.

The Mirror of course, has a view - we think that the priority has to be the election of a Labour Government, and to do that we need a style of leadership that will speak to the rest of the country, not just to party conference. We can't afford another couple of years of internal division, infighting and warring over process - that would be just what the Tories want, to distract from their shameful record of prioritising the fifth rate public schoolboys in the city over schools and hospitals. 

What this campaign has proven beyond any doubt is that there is talent on all sides of the Labour Party; whilst the ultimate goal must be the election of a Labour Government, the discourse of this leadership election has not -as some predicted- been about yet a further shift to the new right, as some in the 'IPPR' would have. Instead, the goalposts have been firmly anchored in bread and butter Labour policies like defence, nationalisation and the EEC - if they don't win, the McCrimmon/Dawson campaign can take this as a success. 

The Labour Party works best when it is united, and that's why we think that Rhys Morrison is best placed to become Leader, he has the skills necessary to take our case to the public without folding up all that makes up this movement. Jim McCrimmon has had a good campaign, and deserves a senior Shadow Cabinet role. 

BUT - and we would not have said this a year ago- we think that Tommy Dawson has got what it takes to be an effective Deputy, with all the makings of the next Nye Bevan, passion combined with clarity.


Whomever Labour chooses will have their work cut out to end Tory rule, and to have any hope of that, the party must unite around them.
Cut our salaries by a third, get rid of taxpayer-funded trips to the Costa del Sol, and make us release our tax records – by a disillusioned MP 

By Alex Cardigan, MP for Montgomery, Leader of the Liberal Democrats

My whole life, I have considered myself a patriot. It is how I, and most British people, I think, are raised. Patriotism to me is, quoting General de Gaulle, about a love of your people first - whereas nationalism, the uglier brother of patriotism, is about putting hatred of others first. That is why when representing constituents in a Parliament spanning the entirety of the United Kingdom, I think we need MPs of the highest standard. I do not claim for a second to be a perfect example of a Parliamentarian - far from it, in fact - but I go into the Commons with an aim of doing my country proud, every time I enter it.

My patriotism is why I am so appalled by the current state of our Parliament. More aptly, why I am so appalled at the current state of our MPs. Having to do the utmost to represent my constituents in an institution that is hyper-partisan, outdated, archaic, and at times plainly anti-democratic, is less of a pleasure than it should be. Though many have heard Liberal Democrats pledge reform in the past, I feel it has often been aimed at too high a level – a constitution, electoral reform, and all the rest of it is very important. But we need to start by taking aim at one fundamental issue – the dismal quality of our Members of Parliament.

The crises that have raged on within the Conservative Party are living proof of the low quality of politicians in this country. I have no great sympathy for the Labour Party, but, well, when a nation’s socialist movement is the less KGB-infested of the two largest factions, we are reaching a point of real crisis. At any rate, it is time that workers, taxpayers, voters, whatever one wishes to call the people, deserve better. That is why I am proposing some real action on transparency here today – and some real democratic reform.

First of all, MPs should be obliged to release their recent tax records and any criminal records on day one that they become a Parliamentary candidate. In the fog of war during an election campaign, with a media that is overstretched at the best of times, a lot goes under the radar. Voters should be informed before casting a ballot is so much as a sparkle in their mother’s eye exactly who they are backing. I want to see MPs have to release their business interests, tax records, criminal records, and I want transparency. I will be making all Liberal Democrat MPs do exactly the same.

There are MPs in who, frankly, abuse their posts. There is a rot in the Commons, and it is not just coming from the damp wood in the rafters of Portcullis House. Too many focus on an agenda of maximising their attendance at fancy dinners, bagging free tickets to the Opera, and taking taxpayer-funded holidays to the Costa del Sol. This has got to stop. It is pathetic. I see it too often, I have seen it within my own party, and I will not stop fighting for reform till public servants do just that – serve the people, not themselves.

Our policy on this will be just as clear as on candidates having to release returns. I want to see it made so that expenses are closely monitored and restricted to the bare minimum, to ensure that taxpayers get real value for money. I also want to see wages cut by a third – I see no reason why I should be paid well over twice what most my constituents are, even considering that Wales to London is a bit of a commute.

When I am asked by my constituents whether I am worth the money, worth the millions that our archaic system costs, when I am paid too often to stand in queues at the lobby – when I could just press a button to vote, like in much of Europe – I want to truly be able to tell them yes. Currently, I can’t. It has to change, and we have to clean up our politics.

Lastly, I want to see recall ballots introduced. No more messing around with silly sentimentalism and giving politicians a chance to protect themselves when it comes to by-elections, it is time for reform. If a quarter of the electors in a constituency sign a “recall petition” across 100 days, then there should be a by-election. And the offending politician should have to put themselves to the people and defend themselves. That is what a truly democratic way of holding MPs to account would look like – democratic action at a local level allowing for a change in priorities.

For too long, we have allowed our political system to rot away. It is time for change, for reform, and for real action on transparency. What I have proposed today will be butchered or ignored by a scared political elite in the Conservative Party, I am sure. But, as I have always said, if the Liberal Democrats are ever someone’s main target, then it indicates one thing only – a swan song of a group about to lose.
I’m tired of working in a Parliament that doesn’t work for anyone. I’m ready for reform, I’m ready for transparency, and I’m ready for openness. It is about time that the people got it, and we actually did our jobs – the public are not our servants, we are theirs.