I cannot vote for Kevin Barron as he is not a good constituency MP. He reportedly routinely ignores his constituents, and certainly ignores me. If you think Kevin represents you, then you are wrong. Kevin Barron votes how his party tells him (unless it’s to do with MPs expenses and wages) and if you question him on what his views are, and why he chooses to vote the way he does, he will most probably ignore you, but may attempt to fob you off with a non-answer. If you are very determined you might get to speak to him, at which point you will discover that the reason he is so reluctant to engage in discussion of his views is that, without the Whips office to tell him what he thinks, he isn’t really sure what he thinks, or why he votes the way he does, or if he is he isn’t able to communicate it very effectively.
I do not wish to be represented by someone who is essentially a voting automaton, and what’s more, a voting automaton that comes across as arrogant, rude and dismissive of those he is handsomely remunerated to represent.
Kevin Barron’s party colleagues see much more to him than we do, and their judgement of him seems to be similar. In 27 years as an MP he has not really come close to even the most junior cabinet position – and this in a government where it was possible to become Secretary of State without feeling one is capable.This rather suggests to me that those that work with Kevin don’t rate him as a politician either.
I also no longer have any faith in the Labour party. I was at one time close to a Labour party activist (I was married to her, in fact) who was on good terms with our MP, a junior minister at the time. I may not be the best qualified Economist in the world, but I do have an A level in the subject, which was qualification enough to know that the rhetoric emanating from the Labour party in the early years of the century about the ‘boom and bust’ being ‘a thing of the past’ was utter nonsense. It is of no consolation to me whatsoever to have been proved right. A party that is so able to delude itself is not one I feel I can trust.
There is no doubt that our public spaces and buildings are nicer than they were in 1997; schools are nicer, hospitals are newer, if not cleaner, parks are neater … but then so they should be. My house would look a damn sight nicer if I’d refurbished it on my credit cards with no thought for repayment for the last 13 years. It’s all very well saying things are better, but if we can’t afford them then it cuts no ice with me.
I heard a little bit of something on Radio 4 today where someone made the point that in no other industry does this ‘we spend loads of money’ argument hold any water. There seems little doubt that educational standards in the absolute sense are slipping, but the government responds to any criticism with the basic argument ‘We have spend loads on schools’ – but there is never any mention of value for money. If one of my staff were under-performing, telling me that they had spent loads of money would make it worse! It’s rubbish and expensive – what kind of defence is that? You can find a link to Kevin Barron making exactly this sort of ‘things are better because we spend more money’ argument in this post. The thought of getting better value for money doesn’t seem to enter into the government’s thinking.
On top of that Labour have manifestly failed to deliver – the gap between rich and poor is wider than it was when they took over, the burden of taxation is higher, the national debt is much higher, unemployment is higher if you look at the number of people of working age who are not working, society feels more divided, and there is no escaping the fact that we are engaged in an un-winnable war that is probably illegal, and which would probably create more problems than it would solve even if we could ‘win’. There is a housing shortage now, just as there was in 1997, making housing too expensive for the poorest, but in 13 years the government has sat back and ridden a wave of growth fuelled by unsustainable house price inflation and done little or nothing to ensure family homes have been built. The promise of a referendum on electoral reform made in 1997 was soon forgotten, and not mentioned again until this year. The car scrappage scheme was a shambles of a piece of legislation that I will take apart some other time – but I still find it strange that the government supported to motor industry but not retailers such as Woolworths or Zavvi.
In doing all this they saddled the country with just about as much debt as it can tolerate whilst Gordon Brown as Chancellor told us he was being ‘prudent’. There is one thing that matters more than anything else, for the simple reason that everything else depends upon it, and that is the economy. I do not blame Labour for the credit crunch, but I do feel that their handling of the economy in the good times was far from helpful when it came to the crunch.
I’m not sure why anyone would vote for a man who ignores certain of his constituents, does as his party tells him, and represents a party that has, charitably, a pretty mixed record over the last 13 years. Judging by his reluctance to engage in on the record debate of his views, it seems Kevin Barron can’t think of any good reason I should vote for him either. So I shan’t, and I don’t think you should either.