Wednesday, 9 June 2010

It returns

Monday, 3 May 2010

Why did I ever give them the benefit of the doubt? They are not fit to govern.

Yet more evidence that the nasty party is still racist. (Homophobic yesterday!)

"Two Tory councillors have been suspended from the party after sending a racist joke."

Full story here. Nuff said. 

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Nicked from somewhere else- BBC not safe with the Tories

Same old Tory prejudice again

Horrifying story in today's Observer about the Tory candidate against Paul Burstow in Sutton. This mad woman thinks she can cure gay people by casting out demons! Do we really want people like that near the levers of power.

As detailed before my worries about Tory prejudice have been ongoing but I did think they had made some progress. Unfortunately the recent stories have just exposed the racism and homophobia not far below the surface.

Friday, 30 April 2010

Judge me by the friends I keep?

In an election where the Tories are trying desperately and unsuccessfully to convince people that they will not destroy the NHS the way they did in the 80s and 90s, you have to wonder about the judgement of candidates who canvass with the Conservative who has been most vociferously anti NHS dubbing it a 60 year mistake. Daniel Hannon is the eccentric Tory MEP with these views and he was out with Kwasi Kwarteng in Spelthorne and Jonathan Lord in Woking.

For those of you who don't know how toxic Hannon is on the NHS, watch this interview on Fox TV.

Apparently Rosie Sharpley in Woking mentioned this in one of the hustings and got monstered by Mr Lord. Well if you're embarrassed by Hannon, don't hang out with him.

So Kwasi and Jonty do you agree with Daniel Hannon or not?

Interestingly Mr Lord seems to have saved the Royal Surrey single handed, I wonder how Ann Milton and Sue Doughty in Guildford think about that.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Vote Brown, Get Cameron in Surrey

The two old parties have been fairly cynical and pathetic in their response to the fantastic Lib Dem surge. Both saying that if you vote Lib Dem its like voting for their opponent. All of this just shows how dysfunctional the first past the post (FPTP) system is. Let's use their logic here in Surrey. There are 11 constituencies in Surrey. All of them are currently Tory, yet in 3 of them, at the last election, if Labour voters had voted Lib Dem there would have been a Lib Dem MP! percentages were

Guildford                 Con 43.5  LD 43.3 Lab 9.9          .3% needed for LD majority.
Woking                   Con 47.4  LD 33.1 Lab 16.3    14.4% needed for LD majority.
Esher & Walton      Con 45.7  LD 29.6 Lab 19.4    16.1% needed for LD majority.

Since then of course we have had the Labour collapse all over Surrey with there now being only 4 Labour Borough Councillors out of more than 500 and 1 County Councillor out of 80. Put the Clegg bounce on top of that and it is plausible that the Tories could lose 3 seats on May 6th.

When I canvass Labour voters I ask them to lend us their votes for 2 reasons, firstly it makes it less likely there will be a Tory majority and secondly, we really want voting reform, which means in the future a Labour vote in Surrey will be worth something.

The interesting thing is that in the 2009 County elections the Labour vote collapsed and there was in some key areas a swing from Tory to Lib Dem. For example in Woking the Lib Dems were only about 2000 behind the Tories. The change in Woking was worrying for the Tories. In Woking South the LD share of the vote increased from 36.8% to 46.7% (+9.9) and in Woking Central from 38.1 to 45.4% (+7.3). If there was any sort of shift like this in the GE then Rosie Sharpley would have a decent majority.

The other seat that looks interesting from the County election results is also the only seat in the County where the Labour Party came second. There were some, frankly ridiculous, swings in Spelthorne which indicate that the Lib Dems will easily come second if not win this seat. (Lets not forget the retiring Tory was one of the worst expenses offenders.) In Lower Sunbury the Lib Dem vote went up from 31.2% to 54% a rise of 22.8! Remember swings are normally measured by doubling the increase! In Sunbury Common the vote went from 40.7% to 52.8% (+12.1). If some of these swings take place, Spelthorne could be a huge upset. Interestingly another stupidity of the FPTP system could be, that if the vote split 3 ways, the MP (hopefully Lib Dem) could be elected with about 35% of the vote!

The collapse of the Labour vote in Surrey could also make a big difference in Surrey Heath and South West Surrey.

Fascinating stuff, and for a supporter of proportional representation a good dose of schadenfreude. Lets hope FPTP hands the Tories a few nasty shocks next week.

Unfortunately it looks like I was right all along. Same old Tories.

A Tory candidate has been suspended for homophobia. Shame the same hasn't happened to Surrey MP Chris Grayling.

I hope to post a lot more in the next week as we count down to election day. Unfortunately I was one of those stranded by the volcano. Then when I got back of course there was a mountain of election work to catch up on. I am not a candidate but I will be working very hard to ensure the Lib Dems best ever result in Surrey.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Friday, 9 April 2010

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Vote Labservative!

Great new website

Our re-election pledges

  • We promise to be dishonest about the spending cuts required to fix the deficit.
  • We promise to spend billions of pounds on like-for-like replacement of nuclear weapons despite Russia and the U.S. reducing their own stockpiles.
  • We promise to saddle students with debt for their university education.
  • We promise to guard our ‘safe seats’ by blocking electoral reform.
  • We promise to protect corrupt MPs from public accountability.
  • We promise to accept funding from Unions and Big Business in exchange for political influence.
  • We promise to make environmental policy an afterthought.

Monday, 29 March 2010

It seems I'm not prejudiced, or am I?

Following my posts on the shenanigans in East Surrey, here and here, I suppose I was not totally shocked to find this story in yesterday's Sunday Times.

DAVID CAMERON was hit by a race row last night after the revelation that disgruntled Tory activists tried to deselect a black parliamentary candidate who is a former Goldman Sachs banker.
Sam Gyimah, 33, an entrepreneur who was chosen to fight the safe seat of East Surrey, has faced smears over his business dealings.
Hmmm, so the real concern of those trying to get rid of him is that he is a dodgy businessman?? I would have thought the Tories might be used to those sorts of people.Thank God it's nothing to do with the fact he is black.
Supporters of Gyimah, who was president of the Oxford Union and is a member of the party’s “A-list” of preferred candidates, claim the deselection attempt was racially motivated. “There is a Taliban tendency in East Surrey,” said a senior Tory from the area. “They lurk in the forests of the North Downs, waiting to fire their missiles. These are the sort of people who start sentences by saying, ‘I’m not racist but . .

I love that imagery, I can just imagine Sally Marks one of the local County Councillors, and one of the other candidates for the seat, in a turban with an AK47.  lol. Her accent is so cut glass you could fashion a couple of decent chandeliers from it!

This is the Private Eye article Mr Gyimah says is "inaccurate"
Will Sam Gyimah, prospective black Tory MP for the safe seat of Surrey East, bring the kind of real-world experience the newly inclusive Tory party craves in its MPs?
The 33 year old former Oxford Union president, CBI entrepreneur of the future and ex Goldman Sachs banker has been the director of three liquidated companies and one that went into receivership.
Clearstone Training & Recruiting and its two heavily insolvent subsidiaries, involved in training HGV lorry drivers, crashed in 2007. Gyimah had been a Clearstone director and shareholder since 2003. Clearstone owed creditors £3.45m; its business was sold for £100,000; unsecured creditors received 1.5p in the pound.
Meanwhile the Resource Connection went into receivership in 2007 owing creditors almost £2m. And another Gyimah company, Workology Net has been warned by Companies House that it will be struck off. Parent Career Ability has accumulated losses of more than £2.5m.
I loved the football manager style quotes at the end of the Times article,
Nick Skellett, chairman of the East Surrey association, said: “Sam Gyimah enjoys the support of the membership of our association.”
A Conservative party spokesman said: “Any suggestion that Sam Gyimah is not a highly rated and popular candidate is absurd.”
So the voters of East Surrey have to make up their minds if their Tory candidate is a not so brilliant businessman or whether he is hated by his own side (or both). Same old Tories......

Probably better  to vote for the local Lib Dem candidate.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Labour's lost, lost Labours

I have little intention of mentioning Labour on this blog. Unfortunately the ridiculous first past the post system (FPTP) that we use for elections in this country means Labour is a total irrelevance in Surrey. At the last County Council elections (2009) Labour came fifth behind UKIP and the Residents' Associations (RA). They have 1 County Councillor out of 80 and of the 500+ Borough and District Councillors in Surrey only 4 are Labour. With none at all in Guildford, Woking, Farnham, Dorking, Leatherhead, Haslemere and so on. Indeed their one County Councillor has agreed to stand down if he wins as parliamentary candidate in Swindon. I don't think there's much danger of that though,Victor, as this is the Tories 57th target seat. So if Victor wins, its unlikely Dave the stud, will become PM.

Victor Agarwal hanging on for dear life.

The other half of my rather pathetic title refers to a pamphlet by the well known political journalist John Kampfner. In it he explains why he left Labour in 2005 to vote Lib Dem and why he is sticking with the Lib Dems in 2010. The pamphlet's called Lost Labours.

"I deserted Labour in 2005 in protest at Iraq in favour of the Liberal Democrats, the only party to oppose the war.
New Labour in office has had one all-consuming purpose: re-election. Since 1997, their every working day was based around the task of prolonging their term of office. It filled in the ideological hollow and justified ever-encroaching authoritarianism and a pandering to the right on criminal justice and other areas of social policy. In contrast, the Liberal Democrat analysis of the failures of the deregulated market has been consistently, and painfully, accurate. Nick Clegg’s tax reform plans, taking four million low paid workers out of tax altogether, are the most redistributive of any party. And the Liberal Democrat approach to criminal justice, human rights, foreign and social policy is close to mine."
There's a shorter version here.

One thing I would say to Labour voters, particularly in Guildford and Woking, why not lend your vote to the Lib Dems this time. We are committed to a fairer voting system which would mean that the many thousands of Labour voters in Surrey would not waste their votes. In Guildford and Woking if those who voted Labour at the last election had voted Lib Dem, then we would have had two fewer Tory MPS.

I will return to the subject of our daft voting system in a later post.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Sick of the puff pieces and the wifelets

I know its raging against the machine but I'm really cheesed off with all these cringe inducing mockumentaries particularly from ITV. First we had weeping Gordon. Then smug, I'm an ordinary guy, Dave. My feelings were summed up by India Knight in yesterday's Sunday Times.
I could write reams about the utter mindless nothingness of Sir Trevor McDonald’s interview with David Cameron last Sunday, but I might get apoplexy. At a later date I hope to return to the extraordinary fact that Cameron, who must have been preparing for weeks, had absolutely nothing of any interest or substance to say. It was amazing to watch — you kept thinking, go on, say something with a bit of heft. But no. And whose idea was it to wheel on the posh ginger bloke to explain that posh people were absolutely tuned in to ordinary life? Couldn’t they find anyone who hadn't been to Eton? Baffling.
I will return to it, but for now I’ll content myself with asking — Trevor McDonald: why? So, he can read an Autocue: jolly good, round of applause. But ITV has brilliant reporters and interviewers and even a couple of authentically grand old men. Why use someone who came across as if they were going to explode with pleasure just at being in Cameron’s company, who chuckled paternally at everything he said, eyes shining with love, who didn’t ask one single even slightly tricky question?
It was like watching Grandpa Werther interview Igglepiggle. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite so lame.

Last night it was Cleggy's turn. I have no intention of watching any of them. Why couldn't we have somebody grilling all 3 leaders on the major issues of the day, like, I don't know, lets see, THE ECONOMY. It could be intercut with, not cooing snippets from lovely wives, but critique of policies from academics etc. I yearn for some real political debate instead of all this pap.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Promise to get back to posting soon. Doing too much for this bloody election. In the meantime....

Friday, 5 March 2010

Peter Brookes in the Times

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Steve Bell again

Love it.

Michael Gove demonstrates how good Tory education policy is.

Michael Gove, shadow education spokesman and MP for Surrey Heath made a bit of a fool of himself on the Daily Politics yesterday. From the Guardian
Luckily some people can't be bullied. Alas for Tory education shadow Michael Gove, Andrew Neil looks like one of them. "You want to bring in elements of the Swedish school system here?" jabs Andrew lightly on the BBC's Daily Politics show yesterday. Oh yes, agrees Michael. "Why would you want to bring a system which over the last 15 years has plummeted in international league tables in maths and science," says Neil, by way of a right hook. "Well England has plummeted in international league tables," says Gove. "We're still ahead," says the questioner. Ding, ding. It gets worse. "You shouldn't have people in teaching who have third class degrees. You have to have at least a 2.2," says Gove. "So why do you have a maths adviser who has a third-class degree?" counters Neil, referring to Cameroon recruit Carol Vorderman. "Under your proposals she couldn't be a teacher." A straight knockout. Next!
The full interview can be seen here.

The Tories really haven't thought this through at all. Where's the money going to come from?  How do you stop determined parents with an agenda from trying to take over a school? I can see situations where resources are going to be drained from local schools to satisfy some strange Tory agenda, when most of the Tory potential ministers and their kids are safely tucked up in private schools.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Patriots and Scoundrels

Two stories about the Tories in the last 24 hours have really made my blood boil. The first is the cheek of David Cameron saying that it is patriotic to get a Tory government elected. Second and not immediately obviously related is the news that Lord Ashcroft has admitted that he is not paying UK taxes but he will if the Tories are elected! I can hardly type I am so cross!

The two stories are related however as they expose the hypocrisy at the heart of the Tories. Its OK to demonstrate that I love my country by voting for a bunch of old Etonians to run it, but I'd rather not pay the taxes that contribute to the common good thank you very much.

As Dr Johnson said "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel." How dare Cameron imply that it is unpatriotic not to vote for the nasty party at the next election. Personally I believe that another Tory government would be disastrous for the country but I wouldn't say it was unpatriotic to vote Conservative. There is of course a (not so) subtle message here. The Tories, by wrapping themselves in the flag are trying to invoke unpleasant as well as pleasant images. Which other party wraps themselves in the flag? Evidence of this was seen last week in some electoral material sent out in the name of that rather unpleasant Tory Andrew Rosindell, a Cameron Home Affairs spokesperson. From the Guardian

David Cameron's Tories were accused last night of dog-whistle politics after the Conservative leader appeared on the front of flyers saying the floodgates had been opened to mass immigration. Critics say the flyers are alarmist and misleading because they imply limits could be imposed on entrants from EU countries such as Poland.
Last night, the party's frontbench was forced to distance itself from the hard-hitting material, which was put out under the name of Cameron's home affairs spokesman, Andrew Rosindell. It bears a picture of both men, says that immigration has caused a population explosion, and declares "we simply cannot go on like this".

As for Ashcroft, well what can you say. Amazingly John Prescott had a good Tweet,
 Voters in marginal seats should remember that money that could have gone to frontline services is paying for Tory leaflets #cashcroft
Chris Huhne pointed out that Belize grows a lot of bananas and Ashcroft has bought the Tory Part like a banana republic.
The Conservatives’ biggest donor is a tax-dodger from Belize who has not paid a penny of British tax on the vast bulk of his estimated £1.1bn fortune held offshore.

“This raises extraordinary questions about the judgement of successive Tory leaders - William Hague, Michael Howard and David Cameron - whose view seems to be that only little people should pay tax. 

Friday, 26 February 2010

Are Woking Tories socialist?

The title is obviously a bit tongue in cheek but not much. Not content with running their own power company and and an eco services company, the council this week has bought  the second largest shopping centre in town and that hideous skyscraper that dominates the town centre for £68million. This is despite the fact that Woking is the most indebted borough council in the country already.
Unsurprisingly this is generating huge controversy in the town. Just look at the comments below the local paper article. Apparently a number of the posters are UKIP supporters (Rob Burberry is the UKIP PPC). They can see an opportunity to attack the Tories from the right. Already one of the Tory councillors, with the great name of Peter W Ankers had resigned because of the debt. Now of course he is even more incensed.
"I regard it as too much money being spent on an asset that I am not entirely sure is going to give the returns that you expect it to give."
The local Lib Dems who mainly supported the move  seem to be divided but mainly over the lack of consultation as demonstrated on Rosie Sharpley's blog. At least the Lib Dems have some intellectual justification for their position as there is a strong social democratic streak in the party. The Tories are however dancing on the head of a pin.

The leader of the council John Kingsbury said
"This is a significant step towards  underpinning the medium to long term financial stability of the council and strengthening the economic vitality of the town."
Local Council candidate Simon Ashall said on his blog
"The act of investing in tangible assets on a long-term basis and generating net profits from those investments is using borrowing as a force for good." and
"No longer are councils about revenue income, support grants, non-domestic rates and council tax versus costs – they have a wider, enabling role to play through investment in communities."

 Councillors Ankers, Kingsbury, and Coulson.

The classic comment came from Ray Morgan the council Chief Executive.
"This is not to do with debt. Debt is something you owe that you can't pay back. We are not in that position. This is borrowing. We have the ability to borrow long term and invest in projects that will benefit residents."
Honest, that was said with no hint of irony!

In another move this week it looks likely the council will move forward with a plan to upgrade the Hoe valley to prevent flooding and build houses. The borrowing for this will push the total borrowing in Woking up to over £200million, which is £2,222 for every man, woman and child in the town! If this was extrapolated across the country it would mean local government having debts of over £130billion! Not far short of where Brown and Darling have got us on the national stage.

Cut to Westminster.

OK. Imagine the scene Humfrey Malins (Woking MP) and John Kingsbury (leader of the council) have a meeting with Dave and George. They want to commend Woking to them as the model going forward.
"We think we should borrow billions, because borrowing is a source for good." says Humfrey.
"Nationalise the power supply like we have in Woking,"says John, "its much more efficient. More borrowing will underpin long term financial stability."
"We have a wider enabling role to play through investment in communities, " says Humfrey "after all, its not really debt, its borrowing."
Dave and George have a eureka moment. "That's it! Instead of cutting borrowing faster than Labour, we'll increase borrowing and nationalise stuff!"

Enter men in white coats.....

Edit 1300. Just seen a poll being done here. 

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

New Tories, different colour, or am I prejudiced?

Following my previous post about the Tories disarray in East Surrey, the fact that they have chosen a black man of African origin has given me pause for thought. You see, shocking thing for a very liberal chap to own up to, I am prejudiced. I've always felt that there was an undercurrent of "only white, straight, chaps from the right background need apply" in the Tory party. This prejudice has now been sorely tested. Not only have the Tories selected Sam Gyimah for East Surrey, they have chosen Kwasi Kwarteng for Spelthorne. This along with Adam Afriye from Windsor means there are three people of colour in very winnable seats in the local area. Interestingly all these guys are of Ghanaian origin, the Guardian speculation (in the Diary, so tongue in cheek) is that it is coming to rival the Labour Guyanese "mafia".

In the recent past Labour has drawn much talent from what has been known as the Guyanese Mafia (David Lammy, Valerie Amos, Trevor Phillips, Lord Alli, Lord Ouseley). With the selection of Gyimah, Tories appear to be constructing a Ghanaian equivalent. Adam Afriyie, the son of a Ghanaian father, has already made it to the Commons via Windsor. Kwasi Kwarteng, whose parents are ­Ghanaian, has got the nod in Spelthorne, Surrey. And ­Gyimah, who some predict will make the cabinet someday, was born in the UK but grew up in Ghana. He returned at 16.
Shame there isn't a Lib Dem equivalent. It's another of the problems of our FPTP electoral system that makes it much harder for minorities to be elected.

Incidentally in that same Guardian piece, talking about East Surrey, Hugh Muir says's bad, bad, bad for Tory sage and blogger extraordinaire Iain Dale, who lost out to Gyimah. We have already recorded his previous ­election setbacks. Norfolk North in 2005, when he lost by 10,500 votes, and his failure to win the nomination for Maidstone, when he didn't make it past the first interview. Explaining the latest reverse on the digital station Colourful Radio, he said: "These selection contests – they're a lot like The X Factor. There's a lot of pressure ... and I blew it. Normally, when I give a speech, I just think about what I'm going to say, then go in and say it. On this one I wrote out a full text and tried to memorise it. All the words came out, but not necessarily in the right order. It's a bit of a lottery, and it really depends on how you perform on the day – and I didn't perform, so I couldn't expect to win." He is being magnanimous. That's his way. But it is inexplicable, and we worry that there is something more to this.
The only thing I can think that Muir means by the last comment is that he believes Dale is failing because he is openly gay, and since then Dale has failed to get the nomination for Bracknell, the seat of that arch Cameronite trougher Andrew Mackay. It's difficult to judge on this one as there are openly gay Tory MPs like Alan Duncan and Nick Herbert, but my prejudice feels there's probably a good strain of homophobia still at the grass roots of the Tories. And racism? During the recent mayoral election in Bedford the Tories had a virtual civil war which had some barely disguised racist undertones. From Bedfordshire on Sunday (Mrs Attenborough was the Tory leader of the Council, and a candidate).....
But, in what might be read as a reference to the large number of people who attended from the Asian community, she says, in an email to Conservative Party chairman Eric Pickles: ‘From where I was sitting, I could see the Liberal Democrats on the front row, Labour on the back row and a sea of faces who couldn’t even understand what the candidates were saying.’

Mr Parvez romped home on the first vote to enormous cheers at Dame Alice Harpur School, leaving supporters of his opponents stunned.

In Mrs Attenborough’s email, copied in to Tory chief David Cameron and leaked to Bedfordshire on Sunday, she says: ‘Exactly why should anyone become a member of the Conservative Party when they can walk off the streets into any selection meeting and choose the most unsuitable candidate, if they want, without knowing anything about them, or go to a meeting with the leader without having to pay £20 for the privilege.

‘It is my opinion that Monday night was quite disgraceful. The members, who had been told to get there by 7.30pm, were left sitting there for two hours and the candidates locked in one nasty classroom for two hours and told nothing.

‘When I protested at the shambles that was occurring outside, I was told by our minder, ‘you can always go home’.
This has echoes of the election in Cheltenham in 1992 when a local Tory called their then candidate "a bloody nigger". In both elections the Tory shambles led to a Lib Dem victory.

I am sure the Conservatives have moved on since those bad old days but how far?

Interestingly the Tories have not chosen any women for the safe seats in and around Surrey except for the incumbent Ann Milton in Guildford, despite the fact that there were senior women councillors involved in all of them, such as Lynne Hack, Sally Marks and Phillipa Broom. As it is, the Tories should significantly increase their number of women MPs but not in "safe" Surrey where it would have been absolutely logical for them to do so.

My wife is a wise lady. Discussing this issue with her she said it's not an issue of race, gender or sexuality but more "PLU". People like us. (She comes from a Tory background). She could be right. Kwarteng went to Eton and Gyimah worked for those agents of God Goldman Sachs.

My prejudice is definitely under threat and I hope that soon we will cease to worry about any of these things because all parties will just choose the best people from a list of excellent diverse candidates.

I think the Tories have moved from the party of Tomorrow Belongs To Me and are probably closer to Neil Kinnock making sure he mentions black people and nurses all the time.

As a footnote Spelthorne could be an interesting seat to watch at the election. Lots of interesting new dynamics, a disgraced incumbent Tory, an ethnic minority old Etonian Tory candidate, Labour collapse and Lib Dem rise in the county elections last year and a UKIP candidate to take a decent slice of the Tory vote. Could be set up nicely for the election after this!

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Tomorrow belongs to them???

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Stunning hypocrisy from a Tory and lies, damned lies and Tory statistics.

Remember this from last year. Cameron had disgracefully signed up Sir Richard Dannatt before he had stepped down from the Armed Forces. Tory front bencher Chris Grayling (MP for Epsom and Ewell) is interviewed by the BBC and misunderstands, thinking Dannatt has been  appointed by the government. His about face when he realises his mistake is truly breathtaking. Would you trust a word this man says?

Talking of believing a word he says, Evan Davis caught him out a few weeks ago being very economical with the truth on crime figures. He was castigated by the head of the UK Statistics Authority,

Sir Michael Scholar, chairman of the UK Statistics Authority, has written to Mr Grayling saying: "I do not wish to become involved in political controversy, but I must take issue with what you said yesterday about violent crime statistics, which seems to me likely to damage public trust in official statistics." In notes attached to the letter, the statistics authority said it regarded "a comparison, without qualification, of police-recorded statistics between the late 1990s and 2008/09 as likely to mislead the public".
The authority said the British Crime Survey (BCS), an annual questionnaire of 46,000 people, indicated there had been a big fall in violent crime since 1995.
It said the BCS was the most reliable way of assessing the trend, because it was "not affected by changes in reporting, police recording and local policing activity, and has been measuring crime in a consistent way since the survey began in 1981"
The BBC article is here

and the full interview is here

I've never voted Tory.....

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Surrey East Conservatives in selection chaos.

Call me Dave has spent a lot of time over the last few years talking about re-empowering local people, councils etc. It seems this only works though if you're not a Conservative member. In the selection process for the new Woking candidate last year, local Tories were overridden and to my knowledge at least one long standing councillor didn't even get a rejection letter to his application. They were just ignored.

From Conservative Home
some local activists were annoyed at being told local candidates would not be considered under any circumstances if they hadn't already been through a parliamentary assessment board by April - only to now be asked to delay so that people with no record of involvement in the party whatsoever can put their names forward. 
And this from the comments
CCHQ are probably right to delay selection in the case of most safe Conservative seats that have come up for grabs. However in the case of Woking, this cannot be regarded as a solid safe Conservative seat.
Humfrey Malins' majority is laregly built around a personal vote and the Lib Dems are a real threat here. If a CCHQ favoured candidate is parachuted in late, the local Lib Dems will have a field day in proclaiming that an outsider has been imposed on the local Conservative Association and the citizens of Woking, in which case we will probably lose the seat.
CCHQ should let Woking Association resume their selection schedule asap, and accept that the PPC will need as much time as possible to get locally established and see off the Lib Dem threat.
So much for local accountabilty. And today in the Daily Mail we have a fabulous article about Surrey East and the shenanigans there.
there is uproar because David Cameron has personally decided the six people who will be interviewed for the post by the association in a local school hall.
This draconian  measure has incensed local party members up and down the country, triggering a wave of protests and resignations which is in danger of spilling over into a civil war with devastating implications for Mr Cameron.
Interestingly one of the complaints of local Tories is that there are no heterosexual white males on the list.

Richard Butcher, a retired solicitor who has been a local Tory councillor in Surrey for more than 50 years, is outraged.
‘We are all very, very disappointed. We have had only two MPs here in the past 35 years. It should have been a privilege for us to be able to choose our next one, but that right has now been taken away.
‘Why does Mr Cameron think he knows better than us what we want for our constituency? He doesn’t live here!
And gain from Conservative Home
So much for new politics. It looks like executive patronage and party control are here to stay. Peerages for dead men's shoes are the political equivalent of the long service company silver carriage clock and look very dodgy.
As long as things like this happen, voters will continue to see politicians as a club who carve up the top appointments among themselves.
Of course there have been other major internecine spats including many mentioned in this article. War in Westminster North where one of Dave's Etonian mate's wives is the candidate and she got the local, hard working chair sacked. Nice.

The farcical scenes at the smart Commander gastropub, close to David Cameron’s Notting Hill home, dramatically exposed the faults in the Tory leader’s modernising project.
Miss Cash, a libel barrister, educated at an Ulster state school and Oxford University, is the archetypal Cameroon candidate. Like so many A-listers, she has never served her time as a local councillor.
But she had gained the support of party chairman Eric Pickles as a move was made to oust her nemesis, Mrs Sayers, as chairman.
In an unprecedented move revealing the importance of Miss Cash’s candidacy as part of Cameron’s modernising plan, Pickles turned up to the meeting in person, as did some of the Tories’ most influential movers and shakers.
During an astonishing evening of internecine warfare, which represented a battle for the soul of the Tory Party, a chaotic and packed meeting heard Miss Cash declare: ‘I have an announcement to make. I am standing down immediately.’

Pandemonium followed and David Cameron’s office frantically tried to persuade Miss Cash (who has been described by Tatler magazine as ‘Tory totty’) to rescind her resignation.

Eventually, she agreed to remain the party’s candidate and sent a message to the social networking site Twitter saying: ‘I did resign. Assoc did not accept. CCHQ has resolved specific issue so I am not leaving. It’s official DC [David Cameron] has changed the party!!!!!!!! I love Twitter. Normal business has resumed and am back online. Lots of rumours flying around distracting from business of electing a new govt! Go go go people!! We have work to do.’

Well done Dave. Your belief in local democracy is par excellence. Perhaps one Etonian one vote might be a better slogan.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Cameron's buddy finds a new trough already

As I said when starting this blog I am really disillusioned with politics at the mo. I've been actively involved since the 1974 elections and never been this cheesed off. One of the things that is really winding me up is the hypocrisy of Cameron and the Tories on so many fronts, as I first mentioned on the expenses post. I live in Surrey so the Labour party are an irrelevance to me here under our "first past the post" electoral system. They came 5th in the County elections last May behind UKIP and the Residents' Associations. For me the Tory party monopoly on power is destructive and I am convinced that they are pretty much unchanged from their slash and burn roots (see Surrey County Council new budget).

A great example of this is the career of Cameron's chum and No 3 in the expenses hit parade, Andrew Mackay. He has just announced he is to become a lobbyist. This from the Guardian.

Well, the disgraced Conservative MP Andrew MacKay has come up with a new twist on the practice – skipping out the government service stage and jumping straight to the corporate payoff. He has announced that he is to join the lobbying arm of the global PR agency, Burson-Marsteller after the general election. He will go from his role for the opposition – first as shadow Northern Ireland secretary, then in David Cameron's inner circle – to that of lobbyist without serving so much as a day in between as a minister.
This reflects badly, first, on MacKay himself. Not only was he forced to pay back £31,193 in expenses, after he and his wife, also a Tory MP, claimed second home allowances for two different properties, thereby paying for neither out of their own pocket, but he is not even prepared to leave a decent interval before selling his Rolodex, offering corporate clients an inside track to what he (and they) presume is the next government.
But it is Cameron who has the greatest grounds for embarrassment. News of MacKay's new job came in the very week when the Conservative leader launched an attack on – you guessed it – lobbying and lobbyists.
Cameron said the trade in access and influence had "tainted our politics for too long", and that it "exposes the far-too-cosy relationship between politics, government, business and money ... we all know how it works. The lunches, the hospitality, the quiet word in your ear, the ex-ministers and ex-advisers for hire, helping big business find the right way to get its way."
In words he must now regret, Cameron laid it on thick: "In this party, we believe in competition, not cronyism. We believe in market economics, not crony capitalism. So we must be the party that sorts all this out."
Clearly, MacKay's move leaves that – and Cameron's proposed two-year waiting period before ex-ministers can start lobbying – sounding pretty hollow. Put simply, it makes the Tories look like hypocrites.
But the damage goes deeper. It reminds voters that, for all the air-brushing, Cameron remains a creature of the very corporate elites that, in the era of the financial crisis, are now so distrusted.
Recently the Conservative leader boasted that he had the City in his blood, that his father, grandfather and great-grandfather were all stockbrokers. A survey found that at least 50 Tory MPs due to serve in the next parliament have either worked in the City or the financial services industry. It's not easy to square that with the message the Tories claimed so loudly at their last conference: "We're all in this together."

Hypocrisy indeed. No doubt there will be apologists out there who ask what is poor Dave to do? Well if he really means what he says he could say that neither the Tory party or any incoming Tory administration will have anything to do with any lobbyists who have been front benchers of any party! He won't of course. Lets be honest there is only one reason these guys are employing him and that is beacause he has an in to Dave and co.
Its this sort of crap, and there is so much of it I will be able to blog from now until election day, that is disillusioning voters. As you say Dave, "time for a change".

Thursday, 4 February 2010

MPs expenses. Tories win first prize!

I have wondered ever since all this stuff broke how the Tories have managed to spin  this as more of a Labour issue. One of the first things to come out of the Legg report is that 5 out of the top 6 amounts to be paid back are from Tories.

  1. £42,458 by Barbara Follett (Lab, Stevenage), 
  2. £36,909 by Bernard Jenkin (Con, North Essex), 
  3. £31,193 by Andrew Mackay (Con, Bracknell), 
  4. £29,398 by John Gummer (Con, Suffolk Coastal), 
  5. £29,243 by Julie Kirkbride (Con, Bromsgrove) 
  6. £24,878 by Liam Fox (Con, Woodspring).
Its also intersting that despite Cameron's protests  that nobody should appeal some of the more egregious abusers still did. From the Telegraph

The appeals list naming current and former MPs seen by The Sunday Telegraph includes Vera Baird, Stephen McCabe, Dan Norris, Frank Roy, Claire Ward, Phil Woolas and Michael Foster — all of whom are current ministers or government whips. They are joined by two Tory frontbenchers, Ed Vaizey and Julian Lewis, and Michael Howard, the former Conservative leader.
Others who appealed included:
  • Sir Peter Viggers, the Tory MP who included with his expense claims the £1,645 cost of a floating duck house at his Hampshire home.
  • Kitty Ussher, who resigned as Treasury minister when it was found she avoided paying up to £17,000 in tax on the sale of her constituency home.
  • Douglas Hogg, the former Tory minister, who included with his expenses claims the cost of having his moat cleared, piano tuned and stable lights fixed at his country manor.
  • Andrew MacKay and Julie Kirkbride, the Conservative husband-and-wife MPs who made claims that meant they effectively had no main home but two “second homes”, both funded with public money.
The release of the names of those who have fought the process is significant, not least because David Cameron, the Conservative leader, told his shadow cabinet not to lodge appeals because to do so would anger voters.
More to come when I've had a chance to read it all!

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Arrest Tony Blair.

As one of the two million who marched against the Iraq war, I have always been ashamed of our involvement in this illegal war. There is a great article in today's Guardian by George Monbiot calling for the arrest of Tony Blair. There is also a link to a website where you can donate money to a fund to reward anyone who tries a citizens arrest on the horrible man.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Love this

Steve Bell

As a Guardian Reader (yeah fill in your own jokes) for more years than I care to remember, I must say I love Steve Bell's cartoons. They just seem to get inside the person they are lampooning.


Hello. Been meaning to do this for a while. The New Year and an imminent election seem to be good reasons to get started. As I say in my profile I am disillusioned with party politics in the UK at the moment so I will be musing on ways to improve this and hopefully some of the opportunities that may come up during the election. I am worried about some of the right wing tendencies in the Lib Dems at the moment so will be exposing those where necessary but also praising them where appropriate e.g. the new tax policy.

"We propose to raise the threshold at which people start paying income tax from current levels to £10,000, cutting the average working age person’s income tax bill by £700 and cutting pensioner’s income tax bills by £100. These plans will mean that almost 4 million people on low incomes will no longer have to pay any income tax at all."

I am however most worried about the Conservatives winning the next election. I am old enough to remember how awful the last Tory government was and never want to see its like again.

A good place to start then is something that Lord Tebbitt said this week. (I cannot believe that the first post I make on here is going to be quoting that old expletive deleted). On his blog he said

"And I hate to say it, but only one party leader seems to have grasped that, if you construct a system where unskilled people are worse off by taking a job than by staying on welfare, they remain trapped in poverty – and that is Nick Clegg. Lord knows, Frank Field and Iain Duncan Smith spelled it out in words and figures that only a simpleton could fail to understand, but the two main parties are unwilling to bite on the bullet and commit themselves to raising the income tax threshold from £6,475 to something like £10,000 or £12,000."

One of the biggest mistakes Labour made over the last few years was to get rid of the 10p tax band. This policy immediately reverses the damage, gives lower paid people more incentive to work, goes some way to alleviating poverty and gives loads of middle income people a shot in the arm in these difficult times. Well done Nick and of course Vince.

I will also be posting about the environment and transport as they are two of my passions at the moment and they are inevitably intertwined with each other and of course politics.

Any feedback, even if negative gratefully received.