politics elections

So today we’ve had leaflets from the Tories and Labour. In fact, we’ve had quite a lot from the Tories; they sent one to each voter registered at this address (that’s four). Obviously they realised that we’d each want to have one to ourselves, rather than having to share. They also sent them by post, rather than just sticking them through the letter box; does the Conservative Party have nobody willing to volunteer to spend some time delivering leaflets for them?

My first complaint is about David Cameron’s statement in it. Not particularly with anything he says in it (well, okay, that too) but just the lack of any demonstrated writing ability. I hope he got someone else to write it for him, and I hope he fired that person. Somebody with a First from Oxford should know, for example, that sentences can’t start with conjunctions, and a politician should know that “Euro-MPs” are actually called MEPs.

Next is that in the section of the leaflet quoting newspaper headlines that make Labour look bad, they couldn’t find any more reputable than the Daily Mail, the Sun, the Daily Express, and the News of the World. (Well, one from the Daily Telegraph. One out of eight’s not bad, right?)

On to actual policies, rather than just the Conservative Party’s embarrassing attempts at telling people about them.

“Voting to keep the UK’s opt-out from the EU Working Time Directive, allowing people to choose how much overtime they work.”

Now, for anyone who doesn’t know, the WTD limits working hours to 48 hours a week, averaged over 17 weeks, and mandates a rest period of 11 hours in each 24 hours. That’s nearly seven hours a day, every day of the week (6 hours 51 minutes) — seven hours doesn’t sound like much, but I must say I’d quite like to have a weekend, and to have just one day off a week pushes that up to 8 hours a day. Now, I realise this is about overtime, not ordinary hours — but if I was having to work from nine in the morning until gone nine in the evening from Monday until Friday (9.6 hours over five days, plus mandatory 0.5 hours lunch break) then I don’t expect I’d be going out of my way to try to do some more.

The WTD is not intended to screw people over who want to do some overtime occasionally; it’s intended to stop people working such long hours as to be dangerous. If you’re working a 50-hour week every week for four months, then you don’t need to opt out of the maximum — you need a better manager.

They go on to say that the WTD “could cause massive problems for our NHS and emergency services”. “Could cause”? It’s been around for 15 years, don’t you think that if it was going to it would’ve done so? Aside from that, if doctors and nurses not being allowed to work 50-hour weeks is a problem for the NHS, we don’t need to let them work more — we need more doctors.

“Local Conservatives have spoken of their “shock and disgust” at the continuing scandal of our fishermen being forced to throw away millions of tons of fish into the sea every year. Our fish stocks are in a perilous state and people are shocked at the amount of fish wasted each year due to a system that is immoral and environmentally wrong.”

Well, firstly, I’m not sure that you can say that something is “environmentally wrong”. Bad for the environment, certainly. However, the Tories don’t seem to explain what the issue is — merely that something is bad. I’m going to assume that what they want is for the fishing quotas to be raised, so that the fish don’t go to waste — since that’s what they’ve asked for_ in the past. I’m not sure how that is better for the environment, though: whether the fish are eaten or thrown away, they’re still dead. The real solution is not to catch so many in the first place; I realise this might make some people unhappy, but they’ll be a damn sight more unhappy if they don’t and cod are hunted to extinction.

I’m also amused by their claim to be “tackling climate change”. As I mentioned earlier, we received four copies of this leaflet — obviously the Conservative Party would like to make sure that everybody knows how seriously environmental issues are taken. Four leaflets when one would’ve done is frankly ridiculous — in fact, we’d’ve been happy with none, but that would mean I’d have nothing to mock this evening.

A final, unrelated point, found in Hansard when I was researching this article. Iain Duncan-Smith described Turkey as a “secular, democratic Muslim nation” — just how is it possible to be secular and Muslim at the same time?