Thursday, January 12, 2006

Your political highlights of 2005

Was just looking at Your political highlights of 2005 and trying to remember which I thought were the most significant.

Your political highlights of 2005 says the best read policy announcement story of January was the Conservatives unveiling their plans for annual quotas for refugees, I remember thinking how stupid. Do you turn back someone who escaping a crisis because we have already taken on enough refugees? This policy was part of a manifesto written by a man who now tries to pass himself off as liberal. If the liberals in the Tory party are so right wing I hate to think what those on the far right of the party think on issues such as asylum and immigration.

According to Your political highlights of 2005 the main political argument of March was about anti-terror measures. The House of Lords and Commons were in deadlock over plans for control orders, which would give the home secretary the power to place Britons and foreign citizens under effective house arrest, without them having a trial. In the end, the deadlock was only broken by the promise of giving MPs a vote in a year's time on whether to scrap or keep the new measure. So I look forward to this debate once again in the coming months.

At the beginning of May we had the General Election, which saw Tony Blair, and the Labour party gain third successive term in Downing Street. However their majority was reduced from 167 in 2001 to just 66. The Liberal Democrats manage to take 62 seats and the Conservatives 198 but most unfortunately George Galloway now leader (supreme dictator) of the Respect party beat Labour's Oona King.

In June the UK began its six-month presidency of the European Union, with much hope that Tony Blair and the Labour government might actually do something about the UK's £3bn annual EU rebate and the common agricultural policy.

In July the UK celebrated London winning the bid to host the 2012 Olympics and the start of the G8 submit in Gleneagles with much hope of what World Leaders will do about extreme poverty in the third world. Unfortunately these were followed by Britain's worst terrorist attack on July 7th. It will take some years before we fully realise the consequence of the July 7th attacks.

Unfortunately in August two of leading figures of British politics in the late 20th century died within a few days of each other. Robin Cook, the former foreign secretary who was regarded as one of the great parliamentarians of his generation and one of the best advocates of political reform in the UK collapsed on a walking holiday in the Highlands. This was followed by the sad death of Mo Mowlam, the former Northern Ireland Secretary who negotiated the Good Friday Agreement.

During the conference season in September we had discussions of a leadership battle at the Liberal Democrats Conference and speculation on when Tony Blair will retire during the Labour conference. We also got the chance to see how the Labour are big fans of democracy and freedom of speech when peace campaigner Walter Wolfgang, 82, was manhandled from the conference hall for shouting "nonsense" during a speech by Foreign Secretary Jack Straw.

During the Conservative Party Conference we had the speeches by Leadership contenders. This is also the point when we started getting the feeling that maybe David Davis wouldn’t succeed Michael Howard and we started to see David Cameron pick up momentum.

In November we saw Tony Blair suffered his first Commons defeat, as Conservative, Liberal Democrats and Labour MPs voted against allowing terror suspects to be detained for up to 90 days without charge.

In November we also David Blunkett who was then the Work and Pensions Secretary, resign again (second time in less than a year) after breaking the ministerial code of conduct over paid work he took while out of the Cabinet.

In December David Cameron was named the new leader of the Conservative Party, beating David Davis by a massive margin. David Cameron promised to change the image of the party, encourage more women to become MPs and tackle environmental issues. It was great to see a conservative leader now talking about the issues, which matter, to people but I wonder if he will be able to carry his party with him.

That was 2005 and now we can already see 2006 being a year of excitement, fun and interest.


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