Derek Conway is a throwback to the Tony’s who oozed round Westminster in the twilight of John Major’s time at No. 10. Self interested and sleezy. Sadly, he has offered little and left politics with any fragment of its credibility – and there’s not much left – removed. But at least he’s been stripped of the whip and forced to stand down at the next election. Good riddance.
In recent months sleeze and snouts-in-the-trough has been a Labour speciality. Blair encouraged it by his refusal to force disgraced ministers from David Blunkett to Steve Byers to Peter Mandelson out. At least Peter Hain quit on his own, but the reality is that he had run out of friends, not that he had many in the first place according to Westminster insiders. His excuses even before the matter of donations received by him was referred to the police lacked any credibility.
The mess that is the Kenyan elections has led to puffing and posturing inside the UK but people chose to ignore the complete hypocrisy of a country whose own elections are so tainted that after the 2005 general election some regions were labelled no better than a banana republic.
Consider this. In 2005 Labour won 36% of the vote to the Conservatives 33%. The number of seats that produced were 355 to 198. In the next election the Conservatives will need to gain between 8 and 10% more of the votes cast to even get a one-seat majority. The reason is largely because the system is so skewed towards Labour, with it occupying much smaller inner-city constituencies, as well as seats in over-represented Scotland and Wales. Each Conservative seat took 100,000 votes to win in 2005; each Labour seat 45,000.
Add into that widespread corruption with postal voting, and who the hell are we to lecture anyone about democracy.
So 25,000,000 people have been affected by the small matter of their private information being lost by the Royal Mail. It’s not the first time that confidential material has been mislaid or handed to the wrong people. Of course, the government is sorry, Alastair Darling has apologised, and Gordon Brown has done his most humble hand-wringing. At least we are spared the earnest gush Blair would have come out with.
But what this proves is that national ID cards are a farce and plans for their forced introduction have to be shelved. How on earth does this, or any, government expect the public to trust them with our personal information when they repeatedly foul up. The assurances will be given that this won’t happen again, that there will be safeguards, that all will be fine from now on. And it will be, Until the next time.
So how will Brown’s government manage to persuade people that they can be trusted? Simple. They won’t bother. As has been shown by the non referendum on Europe, they will just bulldoze things through and keep their fingers crossed.