Westminster: July 2009 Archives

almedalen.jpgEvery July since 1982 the scenic city of Visby on Gotland has held an unusual type of political conference at Almedalen (link in Swedish). 

Rather than the usual political conferences, where all the parties retreat to their own ghettos to talk to themselves, it's a properly cross-party week. The event traces its history to speeches given there by Olaf Palme in 1968, incidentally.

In addition to the 1,000+ free events, the leaders of the seven parties in the Swedish Parliament each have a 30 minute speaking slot, which the other leaders sometimes go to. Just because, y'know, it might be interesting. 

Working in Holyrood is less partisan than many people imagine from the outside, and there are people I like and get on with in all parties. I'm sure minority government helps that, but there's still nothing quite like this in Scotland, no place where ideas get regularly discussed between parties without a vote on them at 5pm.

Last week, while out for drinks with a couple of other bloggers, we discussed whether something like this might work in Scotland, and we think it could be a goer. The initial idea is for something short and simple, perhaps including a dinner, to be held next summer: we're also short of social events with the demise (?) of the Scottish Political Journalists' Association dinner. 

If that works, then we might look at a longer event in August 2011. We'll all be out of election mode and rested, and there'll certainly be a lot of interest in how the new balance of power at Holyrood works, whatever it is.

Any thoughts? Feel free to tell me it's mad. Sure, Almedalen is also a lobby-fest, which isn't exactly what any of us want to see, but would you find something like this interesting? How would you make sure it's for the public, activists and civic Scotland as well as the political classes? 

Scotland's certainly spoilt for suitable venues, and in need of smarter and more open discussions about the problems that face our country. We have to draw the line somewhere, though. Talking about Almedalen, Anna Wramner says:

".. it's very informal, it's probably the only time each year you'll see the Prime Minister walking the streets in a swimsuit."

My eyes! They burn!

Questions of identity.

| | Comments (0)
idgothic.jpgThe decision that ID cards would be voluntary (alongside renationalisation of the East Coast main line and the shelving of Royal Mail's destruction), was made to look like Labour turning the narrative around on some of their most unpopular policies.

In particular, Alan Johnson was understood to be sceptical, and this retreat from compulsion supposedly allowed Brown to save face while his Home Secretary beat the retreat.

Unfortunately, it appears not. If there's a way to disappoint, be sure New Labour will find it. Here's the man himself:

"So, despite the headlines that would have readers think otherwise, I'm not scrapping identity cards - I'm committed to delivering them more quickly to the people who will benefit most."

The only people who will benefit are the IT companies queueing up to cash in at our expense, plus the fraudsters who'll have a new bit of plastic to scan and forge for profit. 

Persisting with this inane idea drives a large chunk of the apolitical towards the Tories (as the ID opponents with the biggest media megaphone) and confirms Labour as the party with the most authoritarian instinct. I can only conclude they have a death wish.
toytrain.jpgWhen ultra-Blairite Lord Adonis says Labour is finally going to take one of the train operating companies into public ownership, you know what follows. Reprivatisation. Having fixed something, why not break it again? It's very New Labour.

But is there another interpretation? Is he leaving an opportunity for the next Labour leader as he or she struggles with opposition?

After all, Adonis says the plan is to keep the East Coast mainline in public ownership for at least a year, by which time Gordon will be history. The Tories will no doubt wish to rush it back into private hands, and Johnson or whoever could build a populist argument for going further and renationalising and reintegrating the whole thing. 

Perhaps not, but would you rule out Labour being devious enough to leave the Tories some awkward issues on a timer? The test will be if Labour try to run it well: that would build evidence for continuing public ownership. But are they even capable of doing that now?

Your Links At Last


Other Politics



Friends and Stuff I Like

If I've forgotten to link to you, let me know. If I don't want to link to your blog I'll pretend I never got your email.

The party's site of which I am rather proud

Along with Jeff (formerly SNP Tactical Voting) and Malc (formerly In The Burgh), I now co-edit Better Nation, a group blog. Stuff will still appear here, but more will be there. Better Nation

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Westminster category from July 2009.

Westminster: June 2009 is the previous archive.

Westminster: September 2009 is the next archive.