Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Aren't there better things to spend time talking about?

As a general rule, I think Labour politicians should spend the bulk of their time talking publicly about things which unite them, and which people are interested in, and as little time as possible talking about things which they disagree about, and which relatively few people are interested in, and where those that are interested have fixed views which aren't going to be changed.

The renewal of Trident is a simple issue, and there's been plenty of debate about it over the last few months, for any who want to take part. Some swing voters think that if the government renews it, then they are making the world a more dangerous place, behaving in a morally reprehensible way and wasting tens of billions, other swing voters think that if the government doesn't renew Trident then it is playing fast and loose with our national security. There's a difference between holding an opinion which most MPs disagree with (which I suspect is my, unilateralist, position), and having issues decided on without proper debate and scrutiny. There are many issues like that, this isn't one of them, and it is more than a little corrosive when people start claiming that an issue wasn't properly discussed when in fact it was and most MPs happened to disagree with them.

Why devote more time to a full public debate about Trident (whatever that may mean), when we could be talking about how to reduce poverty in Britain and the wider world, how to make sure young people are less likely to cause and be victims of anti-social behaviour, how to make sure everyone has somewhere decent to live, how the government at all levels can involve people more in the decisions it makes, or any number of other issues which would genuinely benefit from a wider public debate and which we don't spend enough time talking about and debating.

2 Comments:

At 3:04 pm , Anonymous Tim F said...

Amen.

But conversely, why schedule a vote (does it even require a vote? I'm not sure) on the issue now just before the Scottish/Welsh/local elections, when you know it will provoke a response from campaigning organisations and some lefties, and in elections where you stand to alienate a greater number of people than in England (more people seem to care about Trident there than here).

The reaction of CND etc is predictable: after all, they exist to react in this way. The odd decisions our government has made on timing etc are not so inevitable and frankly I don't understand them from an electoral pov.

 
At 5:57 pm , Anonymous angus said...

Isn't it an attempt to get the decision over with before Blair goes?

While we're on the subject of wasting parliamentary time, House of Lords reform could be the next such cause. Here's hoping it gets kicked into the long grass.

 

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