Daily View 2×2: 26 May 2009

As we all return to work after the Bank Holiday weekend, the big issues I’ve picked for today’s Daily View are about governance: specifically, how the British state should relate to its citizens or how the world should govern the nuclear ambitions of a rogue state.

2 Big Stories

David Cameron is making a bid for reformist credentials with a wide-ranging speech on democratic accountability and the nature of politics and the state. Previewed in The Guardian, his remarks later today thoughtfully ponder ‘the post-bureaucratic age’ and try to appropriate liberal principles:

The Tory leader, who has in the past week ended the parliamentary careers of a series of senior Conservative MPs who made “wrong” expenses claims, writes: “I believe the central objective of the new politics we need should be a massive, sweeping, radical redistribution of power. From the state to citizens; from the government to parliament; from Whitehall to communities. From the EU to Britain; from judges to the people; from bureaucracy to democracy. Through decentralisation, transparency and accountability we must take power away from the political elite and hand it to the man and woman in the street.”

Fine aspirations. (Excepting the knee-jerk rejection of cooperation on supra-national issues; has noone told you, Dave, we’re “stronger together, poorer apart”?). But can Cameron really bring his party of authoritarians on this expedition into liberalism when they get into power? Given what we know about the men and women who’ll make up his parliamentary majority, I think not.

Meanwhile, in world news, the UN Security Council has unanimously condemned North Korea’s second and latest nuclear test:

The provocative test sparked global condemnation, even from China, the reclusive communist state’s only ally. Yet it was clear that the West was powerless to halt the nuclear programme.

President Obama said that the test was a great threat to the peace and security of the world and a blatant violation of international law. Gordon Brown called it erroneous, misguided and a danger to the world. Ban Ki Moon, the UN Secretary General and a South Korean, said that he was deeply disturbed by the detonation, which was detected by US scientists as a magnitude 4.7 earthquake.

2 Must-read Blog Posts

Yesterday’s Daily View noted Alan Johnson’s noises in favour of electoral reform. Former party policy chief Neil Stockley blogged his thoughts on the practical politics of achieving voting reform:

The New Zealand experience showed it takes a lot of time and effort to engage with a bemused public, who are more concerned with other things, and explain the merits of the alternative voting systems. The New Zealand reformers’ final victory in 1993 was the result of many years’ campaigning by a broad cross-section of political and community groups. The anti-change forces hit back, and started to close the gap in the final months before the vote. There’s no reason to suppose that this country would be any different.

Meanwhile, the Himmelgarten Cafe served us a large platter of database peril. As Costigan Quist notes, the government has been losing sensitive personal information faster than an MP’s moat gets silted up:

Remember that the Government has spent the last few years trying to set up a “Spine”: a big national database to contain all our health records, accessible by medical staff across the country. The flimsy justification for this has always been that you or I can go into any hospital in the country and staff will easily get hold of our notes… The problem is, that sort of thing doesn’t happen very often. In reality, nearly all visits are to local hospitals and our normal GP. The small number of cases where it does happen seems out of all proportion to the huge cost and complexity of maintaining a national database of medical records.

From rogue MPs to rogue states and roguish voting systems to rogue data. It’s funny what’s in vogue.

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13 Comments

  • I see ‘Call me Dave’ has already got his oar in the water against PR, saying that it transfers power to ‘the elites’. Ha, ha, ha! As opposed to leaving it where it should be, in the hands of the Etonians.

    Nick Clegg should be saying what a pile of manure Dave’s so-called reform proposals are and should be condemning them for what they are: a half-hearted tinkering with the way the existing parliament works. They are being dressed up as ‘radical reform’. Go on Nick, sock it to him with a pro-PR punch!

  • gurkurs, action on mp’s expences and now constitutional reform.

    David Cameron is leading the country now, not that scottish fella

  • Paul Griffiths 26th May '09 - 12:58pm

    I haven’t had time to check all the details, but isn’t nearly everything that Cameron mentions already Lib Dem policy?

  • “PR does leave hands in the power of the elite” says Letter from a Tory, completely failing to mention the fact that FPTP leaves it in the hands of a group of people the majority of whom voted against. How does that amount to a clear-cut exercise of democratic choice?

    Cameron’s swipe at PR is dependent on contrasting it with a laughable, cartoon version of how our system operates at the moment and he deserves to be ridiculed for his arguments.

  • “liberal conservatism”? That’s the oxymoronic Tories for you.

    And Letters from a Tory: please stop using an argument from personal incredulity (a logical fallacy). Just because you can’t understand a party faithfully adhering to their manifesto because the Tories wouldn’t, doesn’t mean the Lib Dems wouldn’t adhere to their manifesto.

  • Peter Chapman 26th May '09 - 2:20pm

    So what does Cameron propose?

    1.Changing the boundaries of FPTP…..more Tory Mps? Less Lib Dems as money for campaigning will be even more important

    2.Reducing the number of Mp’s
    (less from Wales and Scotland ….better for the Tories)

    3.think about fixed Term Parliaments
    (can forget once in office?)

    4.House of Lords reform?
    ????????????????

    5. He talks about choice but supports a system which is biased towards a choice of two!!!!!!!!! (Good for the Tories)

    This man must think people are stupid (perhaps they are)Its such bare faced self interest

    Why dont we have a referendum on electoral reform before the general election…..

    Oh forgot ….requires vision and leadership from Gordon Brown …so no hope then!

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