Well done! 6

I have to confess, I was not very happy when the results of UK elections were announced a few weeks ago.

The unfair side of the first-past-the-post election system (there is a fair side to it too, but this is not today's topic) has had a particularly devastating effect on the number of LibDem MPs in Parliament. Since I happened to be among those people outside Britain who really wanted to see Clegg win, the outcome was a big disappointment. Yet now, with The Coalition: a Programme of Government released today, I believe Britain may have got the next best thing. The political programme of the coalition government looks rather good. In terms of democracy and respect for civil liberties, it looks too good to be true. Surely this means a few disappointments in the future, when (declared) good intentions will come up against the hard realities of politics, economy and security, but I believe it is better to have good intentions and fail than not to have them from the start.

The programme has a section on political reform, including a referendum on the election system, but that was to be expected. What is more exciting, the sections on Civil Rights and Equalities are quite robust, and suggest that if this government is allowed to have its say, the rights of the individual may still be the central value of British politics, even in this age of surveillance cameras and fingerprinting.

The bits I liked most include the statement about the need 'to restore the rights of individuals in the face of encroaching state power' (how many government leaders in other countries have the guts to say that?) and the whole section on Equalities. The latter proposes some fairly fundamental measures to promote equality among citizens independently of gender, colour and ethnicity. Special internship schemes in all departments of government for representatives of ethnic and racial minorities, a proposal to do something about the share of women on the boards of listed companies and a promise not to deport asylum seekers who risk persecution in their countries because of their sexual orientation - all of this sounds like steps in the right direction, building on the UK's remarkable record of policy measures to promote racial and gender equality.

None of the measures proposed in the Equalities section are revolutionary against the European background - there are internship schemes in government for minorities in Ireland, and women's presence on the boards of companies is at least partially tackled in Scandinavia, but there is added value for equal rights in Europe when these things are on the agenda of the new UK government. Policy approach practiced in the UK is usually more thorough and more transparent than in many other EU countries. That means those of us who want to promote more equality for people in our countries will get more examples of working models and benchmarks.


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Maria Golubeva 25.05.2010 15:14
I agree with you on Hague. NOT a good choice for Foreign Office. I was only commenting the declared government programme, which looked progressive enough to me.

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Eldar 24.05.2010 22:56
Yes, the Tories definitely got their second best. Not so sure about the Lib-Dems. The Tory Chancellor Osborne today announced first public spending cuts. Well, he at least did what the Tories were promising all along. But Nick Clegg very recently warned that the recovery was still too fragile to wield the axe as the Tories would like. Of course, the coalition politics always mean compromise, but the fact is that those who voted for Clegg as a way of stopping the Tories now see how the LDs through David Laws, chief secretary to the Treasure, are endorsing the hardcore Tory policies. In any case, I feel a tad disappointed that Clegg didn't claim for LDs some really big jobs, like Foreign or Home office, in addition to deputy PM. To have a rabid Euro-sceptic like William Hague as the foreign secretary is really a horror. The guy who made good on Cameron's stupid promise to pull the Tories out of the mainstream center-right group in the European Parliament to team up with the assorted freaks such as Kaczinsky's Poles and our 'tevzemiesi'.

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Kalvis 20.05.2010 21:20
>>> M.:US government is socially responsible and up to this month it had strong partner in Europe in the person of Brown, sadly, now this has come to the end.
UK now has budget deficit that is 12% of the GDP (that is worse than our 9% in Latvia and is similar to that of Greece) - see . Public external debt for the UK is about 40% of the GDP (in Latvia it's 36% of the GDP). UK may have better export industries, but in macro economics they are doing about as badly as in Latvia.

And the guy who ran country during that time was not hapless Atis Slakteris or Aigars Kalvītis, but supposedly competent banking expert Gordon Brown. His policies are actually socially irresponsible, since it burdens the next generation with a growing external debt. This means less money for social programs, and more money to serve the debts incurred by 13 years of Labour government. Here is one short video, where British conservatives criticize this approach - .

I'm not speaking of ideology of anyone here. Perhaps Blair and Brown deserve some credit for making Labour party what it is today - it is no longer doing narrow minded trade-unionist stuff; these guys are not Arthur Scargill types. But eventually some of the "new Labour" policies led the nation into a dead end. It is a telling sign that Mr.Clegg (even though his party is also sort of left-wing) did not want anything to do with the guys like Gordon Brown.

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m. 20.05.2010 20:05
Well - history show that it is hard and almost impossible sell the Conservative programme to voters during the rational discussions and decision making but Conservatives usually are strong at employing cultural and emotional issues. The question is - what that gives to the country? I think - it leads to devastation.

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m. 20.05.2010 19:56
Many people have concerns about new government - it was unusual for Clegg party to enter into coalition with conservatives and especially in this time when G20 is seeking compromise on bank regulation and prevention of such silly crisis as the present one (this crisis is silly because the "good crises" arise from Schumpeterian creative destruction when investors had provided sufficient funds for implementation of new technological achievements and they had overinvested in the later stages of innovation adoption; the dot com bubble is excellent example of "good crisis").

G20 countries now are more unevenly distributed in their position of bank regulation. US government is socially responsible and up to this month it had strong partner in Europe in the person of Brown, sadly, now this has come to the end.

The section on banking in the new programme can cause concerns. There is nice wording about reforming the banking sector, about regulation, about tackling bonuses of executives. But bigger part is left out, sadly. First - there is no conclusion about separation of investment and usual retail banking. The wording about "unacceptable bonuses" is misleading, because you could not find any from banking sector who would be ready to name the current system as "unacceptable", contrary to the public perception. And the most grave issues with the programme is that it in no single word calls for greater openness and more equal rights of investors. Noone is asking to explain to the public the math and technological challenges that are behind the current trading practices - actually - there is very few secrets, far more concerns can be rised that the exceptionally large part of the trading is done outside the regulated markets with their usual requirements for reporting of all the trades, for reporting trades by insiders which can give the small and medium investors the clues what's going on. And this can be attributed to all the asset classes including the newcomers - emmission quotas. The history show that there can be only one really effective cure for malpractices in markets - and that is greated openness. The insitutions and practices that was created after the Great Depressions (and thanks to the courage and wisdome of Democrats) serves as example even today.

However - the statement about possible inclusion of housing prices in the CPI is laudable, especially because UK has strong inflation targeting regime and ECB had considered such measure as well and it can be very, very interesting for Latvia as well. However - this is only possibility, coalition has not made the decision.

Generally speaking - I feel that Britons will regret their choice. They can be bored by Labour, but consrvatives will do nothing good for UK. One excellent example are all the talks abot fiscal discipline. We know that UK deficit reached 300 billions in 1997 when Labours won Conservatives. Another example that proves that conservatives usually are "fiscally disciplined liars" come from the United States. Reagan and Bush the Older lead the United States to record high deficits, debt and government borrowing rates and it was the task to Democrats and Clinton to heal the US from the bad works of Conservatives and history repeated itself during the presidency of Bush the Younger. I guess - UK will now experience the same.

And at the end, I hope that current government and the expected worsening will reinvigorate the Labour and the fight about the party leadership will lead to many valuable discussions and also - to renewed and especially strong propositions for the next elections. And Labour will win again.

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Veiko Spolitis 20.05.2010 16:15
Very god synopsis, thank you Marija!

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