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After the dust has settled.

May 15, 2010 Comments off

It is interesting to look back now at the last six weeks.

A hard-fought campaign during which I felt that the Liberal Democrats by and large put our best foot forward.  The innovation of the TV debates certainly turned things on their head for a while and Nick Cleggs great performances meant that the Liberal Democrats were suddenly polling above 30% and in many polls were actually running second ahead of Labour.  Even though this seemed to drift away gradually towards the end of election it looked like we were headed for a great result.  Even on polling day the atmosphere and vibe was really good.  The exit poll at 10pm was shockingly negative (and at the time it seemed it could not be right) but within a few hours as the ballots came pouring out of the boxes (certainly in Liverpool where I was ) it became all too clear that the Liberal Democrat surge had largely been squeezed.

So we were left with a hung parliament that has led to a Liberal Democrat / Conservative coalition government

How do I feel about this?

On the one hand it is hard to stomach being in bed with the Conservatives

On the other hand it is probably the only logical conclusion given the precise verdict of the electorate. 

The proposed coalition with the Labour Party was clearly not a runner given

  •  The attitude of those sent to negotiate with the Liberal Democrats
  •  The attitude of many senior Labour figures commenting in public whilst those discussions were taking place
  • The likelihood of such a  coalition falling with only 315 votes in the House of Commons.
  • The likelihood of a subsequent General Election leading to a further squeeze on Labour and the Liberal Democrats so leading to a majority Conservative Government

 The other main option would have been a Conservative Minority Government.  This too would probably not have lasted very long and again would have led to a subsequent General Election and a majority Conservative Government.

So coalition it is and an opportunity to put some of our policies into practice and at the same time hopefully demonstrate that a hung parliament is not necessarily a bad thing in that it forces politicians to work together and hopefully eliminates some of the worst excesses that occur when one party with maybe as little as 25% of the population supporting them takes all the power.

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Exploitation of interns

March 13, 2010 Comments off

BBC News had an interesting story on earlier about the use and abuse of interns.  There were two things that really struck me about the whole story

1) The obvious difficulties which this creates for young people who are desperate to get some real experience in a particular field and who do not have the funds to either pay for one or support themself during an unpaid internship.

2) The strange way in which the BBC have handled the story.  The minor footnote to the whole story is that a government website called Graduate Talent offers thousands of these sorts of opportunities and many of these are unpaid.  As the story makes clear if people are employed in these sort of work positions then the minimum wage rules apply.  So a government website under a Labour government is promoting positions that breach its own minimum wage legislation.  Now that is really something the BBC should be making the main plank of the story.