Monday, September 15, 2008

Eyes down for a wonderfully tight card vote

There really needs to be a "Well done" and "trebles all round" to the party and LDV for the brilliant coverage of conference via the party's web site and LDV itself. Look! I've just read today's daily announcement sheet online at 8.30am. A year ago you'd have to shake off your hangover and rush down to the conference hall to do that.

Anyway, I've now been able to read the proposed amendments to the "Make it Happen" motion, which are as I would have expected. The stewards will, doubtless, be re-briefed on the "card vote" procedure by Mr Jennings this morning. That's the most exciting thing that happens to you when you are a "block steward" sitting by your little block of seats in the hall, handing out speech cards to people. A card vote. You have to make sure that you say aloud the number of votes you have counted, as you count them "one", "two", "three" as you point to people.

Otherwise, you will get some smart-alec, hyped-up, clever-dick anorak jumping up and saying "You didn't count me!"

What I can't see anywhere is more detail about how this miraculous £20 Billion cut in expenditure will come about. We have seen a couple of fairly flaky examples being limply proferred: Moving some civil servants out of London, reducing the number of MPs, abolishing the Department of Business, Enterprise and Regulatory reform.

But where is a little more flesh on the bones? I think this is needed to reassure those of us who shiver at the thought of David Laws being let loose to cut public spending wherever he feels like it.

And how many and which civil servants will be moved out of London? And how much precisely will this cost and how much precisely will it save? And wouldn't abolishing the BERR simply move sub-departments to elsewhere? If it doesn't, to what extent doesn't it? And surely we need the Department of Energy, which sits somewhere in the bowels of the BERR in a much more prominent position for the future, don't we? Shouldn't we have a cabinet-level Department of Energy to face future monumental challenges that we have as a world? If so, wouldn't that cost money?

And given the forthcoming recession (After Lehman Brothers going "tits up" - I can almost hear people taking position on the 34th floor of Wall Street skyscrapers to see what the view is like and decide whether a quick nose dive is preferrable to a contiuance of reality) shouldn't a government be holding on to money to inject it into public works schemes as per Keynes/F.D.Roosevelt? Although I can see also that giving people more disposable income is a reflationary activity - but wouldn't that feed inflation just when we don't want to?

Thank goodness I am not at conference. All these things will no doubt be considered by or overlooked by, the wise heads in their seats. Have a good card vote.

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