Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Scrapping ID cards tops your wish-list

Last week I asked readers of this blog to vote on what they thought should have been in the Queen's Speech that wasn't, listing ten policy ideas which I personally favour. The fairly unambiguous result is that the single policy which would you would most like to see is the scrapping of ID cards.

There now seems to be a growing consensus on this across the political spectrum. Gordon Brown still has the chance to ditch the scheme as an unwanted hangover of the Blair years, and given their own stance on it the Tories would be unable to criticise him for doing so, as they undoubtedly would if he attempted to reverse other aspects of the Blair legacy.

The full results of the poll, listing the ideas in order of popularity, were as follows:

  • Scrapping ID card scheme 79pc
  • Four-year fixed-term Parliaments 53pc
  • Abolition of the Barnett Formula 52pc
  • Referendum on EU Reform Treaty 51pc
  • Fully-elected House of Lords 49pc
  • Proportional representation 48pc
  • Cap on party funding 35pc
  • More action to combat inequality 34pc
  • Full year's maternity pay 14pc
  • Immediate end to airport expansion 14pc

The level of support for abolishing the Barnett Formula is scarcely surprising, given who the author of this blog is, but the degree of backing for other enthusiasms of mine such as fixed-term Parliaments and PR is encouraging.

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MorrisOx said...

Come on Paul, I really think it's time you gave a rationaland convincing justification for this four year fixed-term parliaments nonsense.

I've ranted and railed against this previously. And now intend to do so again.

What can you achieve in four years? Economic cycles take at least three years, many bills take years to bed down and have an impact, and when you consider that most Governments spend a year trying getting their ducks in line purely to win an election we are left with what? Very little time for an administration to establish its imprint, and achieve lasting, beneficial change, very little time for the public to make a reasoned judgement about competence, and a long run in during which public services routinely retreat to play-safe mode in order not to annoy their Whitehall masters.

In a global economy, all it would take is one major event to scupper and entire parliament.

One of my single biggest beefs with New Labour is the ruinous torrent of micro-managing directives that spew out of Whitehall, into local authorities and leave core services looking over their shoulder and unable to focus properly on the core job. A shorter term would only magnify the problem.

At the simplest level we talk in all walks of life about wanting to achieve long-term improvement. Through a four-year parliament? I don't think so.

Anonymous said...

Alternatively, they might sit down on day one and work out a coherent programme for the next four years, knowing that clinging to power in the hope something might turn up is not an option.

When a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.

Unknown said...


It's not new news, nor is it without learned backing, that four year fixed terms can be beneficial to the democracy and economy of a country when taking the power of deciding a date out of a *party's* hand.

As I understand it parliaments need to be re-elected at least every 5 years anyway, so 4 years is hardly a massive break from this mould, in fact all it does is take away a party's ability to announce a snap election for absolutely no reason other than self-interest. No-one is advocating a stringency as far as I can tell, and provisions of course need to be made to allow for certain circumstances that may make the 4 year date unrealistic.

But ultimately your argument, morrisox, can be pushed the other way. Just as much as a government could fall foul of freak events in global economy (in which case I would blame public relations more than circumstances), it can also benefit greatly from positive influences around the election period.

As Stephen says it forces all party's to realise that they are fighting for a specific date, to explain themselves more appropriately, and to therefore put the interaction with their public over a long period of time over the short campaigning at a politically opportune time for the elected party.