Well I watched the whole of David Cameron's speech today and indeed I tweeted it all the way through it.
Sunday, 28 February 2010
Having watched George Osborne on Andrew Marr's programme this morning, his performance just underlines what I have thought for a long time. That he is just not up to the job.
Well said LFAT.I really cannot see why Osborne is still Shadow Chancellor. There are others in the Shadow Cabinet who would do a far better job of it (e.g. Hague or Hammond). He did play a blinder in Autumn 2007 with his IHT announcement to conference but that was now 2.5 years ago. You need to be judged by your recent performances and I am afraid Osborne’s are woeful.I hope Cameron is not keeping him there out of some sense of loyalty. If he is then that does not bode well for a potential premiership. A Prime Minister needs to be able to be ruthless if necessary.
Saturday, 27 February 2010
So the Owlsmoor by-elections were on Thursday and I didn't win as I blogged about briefly on Friday morning. I did however come second in both the Borough and Town elections behind the Tories who retained both seats.
Friday, 26 February 2010
The result was announced last night of the Owlsmoor by-elections. I didn't win either of them, instead the Conservatives retained both seats. We did however come second.
Thursday, 25 February 2010
So my first election day as a candidate has dawned. The polls opened in Owlsmoor at 7:00am this morning.
Wednesday, 24 February 2010
Tuesday, 23 February 2010
A report has just been published by the Electoral Commission discussing the administration of the Glasgow North East by-election last year. The report is critical in a number of areas and as Caron Lindsay points out today, the fact that it took almost 5 months to hold the by-election (I made it 143 days) left the constituency without parliamentary representation for far too long.
By-elections should be called for the convenience of the public, and not for the political advantage of the party holding the seat.
Monday, 22 February 2010
I have been following the consequences of the publication of the extracts from Andrew Rawnsley's new book in the Observer yesterday about Brown's temper and alleged bullying of his staff over the last couple of days.
Sunday, 21 February 2010
Discussions about Gordon Brown and his alleged temper have been reverberating around the political sphere in the last day or so triggered by extracts from Andrew Rawnsley's latest book being published in the Observer today.
Friday, 19 February 2010
I had a notable experience this morning. I was trying to book an appointment for my wife to be able to go and see her doctor. She was told by NHS Direct yesterday that she should call her surgery first thing (8am) to make an appointment. I called on her behalf at 7:58 (message saying surgery closed) 8:00 (same message) 8:01 (waiting on hold for about 3 minutes) and when I finally got through to someone I was told that all the appointments for today were gone and the earliest that she could see our doctor would be 8th March, i.e. nearly two and a half weeks away. After some discussion the only suitable alternative doctor was available on 1st March but that's still well over a week away. In the end the compromise was that a doctor would call my wife at some point today but that's not really a substitute for a proper consultation.
Thursday, 18 February 2010
Paul Richards has a piece on LabourList today entitled "Tory proposals are designed to fatally wound Labour by 2015". In it he discusses three Tory pledges and links them together to form a theme that he claims will make it much harder for Labour to win any subsequent election.
In 2008 Ken Clarke MP, then chair of the Tories’ 'democracy taskforce' published a proposal for restrictions on non-English seat MPs voting on some of the stages of bills which affect England. David Cameron said recently: "for English-only legislation, we would have a sort of English Grand Committee. That is our intention and what is likely to go in the manifesto."Such a move would endanger the Union, and create a two-tier Westminster Parliament, and so the Tories’ policy should be opposed on principle. But it would also massively favour the Conservative Party, because if it is in a position to enact its plans after the 2010 election, it will have won scores of new seats in England. English votes for English laws in effect means Tory votes for English laws.
The second announcement is Cameron’s plan to cut the size of the House of Commons by around 60 MPs. Speaking to the Financial Times in January, Cameron said "I think the House of Commons could do the job that it does with 10% fewer MPs without any trouble at all." He said the Tories could legislate in their first term for an urgent boundary review so that all seats had roughly the same number of electors in time for the general election that followed. Cameron will propose this in the general context of anti-Parliamentary feeling in the country. I pity those who might have to oppose the idea – arguing for the status quo against such a seemingly radical policy. Cameron’s spin doctors have since confirmed that this would be a "first-term priority". But where would the axe fall? On Wales, and the English cities, where Labour would have most of its MPs, even after a Conservative win. That means Cameron would fix the system by abolishing Labour seats in the first term to make it easier to win a second term. Analysis by John Curtice at Strathclyde University suggests a smaller Commons would exaggerate swings, and "would improve the Tory chances of winning".
The third announcement appeared in the Telegraph last week, and it concerned Cameron’s desire to reform party funding. Since the cross-party talks on party funding reforms broke down in 2006, Cameron has made it clear that the Tories will legislate to cap all donations to parties (£50,000 is the latest figure). That means any individual or institution can only give up to £50,000. It makes sense if your party is funded by rich people and companies. If your party is funded by trade unions, it sounds a death knell. Cameron’s point-man on the negotiations Andrew Tyrie MP made union funding the sticking point, and the casus belli for the Tories breaking up the talks. The Labour Party is now reliant on the big four trade unions, not just for election posters and leaflets, but to pay the staff wages and utilities bills at head office. If each union could only give £50,000, Labour would cease to exist as a functioning organisation.
I have just heard what Tory MP Sir Nicholas Winterton said about standard class train travel on Stephen Nolan's 5 Live show this morning. You can listen to the highlights here.
He said that the sort of people you get in standard class are "a totally different type of people" to those you get in first class. He said that there is too much noise and people would be looking over his shoulder all the time. He also suggested that that is why business people travel first class. Stephen tried to point out to him that business people often travel standard class too and gave him opportunities to row back from what he was saying but Sir Nicholas was having none of it and insisted that he was entitled to first class travel.
I have just learned that the Press Complaints Commission has ruled in favour of Jan Moir with respect to the article she wrote last year following the death of Stephen Gately (I blogged about it at the time here). There is some analysis of the ruling from Andrew Reeves here and Stephen Glenn here.
Wednesday, 17 February 2010
Danny Finkelstein has an opinion piece in The Times today entitled "The Tories will get burnt fighting fire with fire" in which he argues that they should stop going negative against Labour in their campaigning and instead be more positive about what they would do:
Question this approach and senior Conservatives will remind you that they are not unilateralists. A multilateralist sees Mr Brown's favourite technique and knows how to respond. The PM likes to make up a Tory policy and then attack it. He likes, for instance, to assail the Conservatives for planning to take away tax credits from poor people, a policy he simply invented. Surely, the Tories say, we have to fight fire with fire. We have to make the same sort of attacks, if only as a deterrent.Yet if the Tories are multilateralists, they are also free traders. They know that if one country protects its goods, it doesn’t make sense for a trading partner to retaliate. The protectionist country suffers (through high import prices) whatever other traders do. If you introduce tariffs yourself, all you do is join in the suffering.And so it is with negative attacks. Mr Brown’s attacks often make him seem petty, partisan and mean-spirited. Sometimes they make him seem completely out to lunch. If Mr Cameron responds in kind it could make him seem the same. Associating Mr Cameron with personal attacks endangers the Conservatives’ most important asset — their leader’s image as a more generous, broad-minded sort of Tory.
Tuesday, 16 February 2010
The current reverberations echoing around the Blogosphere and Twittersphere about the Labour MP David Wright's alleged Twitter transgression where he is said to have described Tories as "scum-sucking pigs" is in my view being blown out of all proportion. This is what he is alleged to have written:
#ivenevervotedtory because you can put lipstick on a scum-sucking pig, but it's still a scum-sucking pig. And cos they would ruin Britain.
If you actually came out at a selection meeting and said that you believed in a federal (European) union you just wouldn't get selected.
In observing the behaviour of my current (and soon to be ex) MP Andrew Mackay I have found him to be an interesting case study in the old ways of practising politics. His actions in a couple of respects were acceptable and worked for politicians 20 or 30 years ago but completely fail to take into account how the modern political world works.
"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 this party, we believe in competition, not cronyism."So we must be the party that sorts all this out. Today it is a £2bn industry that has a huge presence in parliament. The Hansard Society has estimated that some MPs are approached over 100 times a week by lobbyists."I believe that secret corporate lobbying, like the expenses scandal, goes to the heart of why people are so fed up with politics. It arouses people's worst fears and suspicions about how our political system works."
Monday, 15 February 2010
So it looks like Nick Clegg has decided to go for option 3 as I highlighted in this post back in November. He has ruled out a formal coalition with either of the other main parties. Instead he would look to support a Queen's Speech that included the following:
1) Investing extra funds in education through a pupil premium for disadvantaged children.2) Tax reform, taking 4 million out of tax and raising taxes on the rich by requiring capital gains and income to be taxed at the same rate.3) Rebalancing of the economy to put less emphasis on centralised banking and more on a new greener economy.4) Political reforms, including changes to the voting system and a democratically elected Lords, that go further than proposed by Labour
The idea that Cameron could try to corner the Lib Dems ... I do not think is likely to work. It would be perfectly reasonable for us to support the things we agree with and oppose those we do not. If that meant voting down a Queen's Speech (if we were forced into that position) then so be it.
There is a bit of a hoo-ha this morning about an attack document that the Conservatives have produced called "Labour's Two Nations" in which they have claimed that in the most deprived areas of the country, 54% of women are likely to fall pregnant before the age of 18. They had misplaced a decimal point because the actual figure for these areas is 5.4%. This erroneous figure was mentioned three times in the document.
Sunday, 14 February 2010
Before I start it is worth considering that there may never be another Labour PM. If they fall into internecine squabbling after the general election it is always possible that the hollowed out husk of what's left might eventually implode. For the purposes of this post though I am assuming that this does not happen.
Though Labour and the Tories have denied having any current plans to increase VAT, neither will rule it out and The Times understands a rise in the tax is being considered by both parties.
Friday, 12 February 2010
I have been campaigning in Owlsmoor for 3 weeks now following my selection as a candidate to fight for the borough and town council seats for the Liberal Democrats
Thursday, 11 February 2010
Coming from Belfast, the panel are the Northern Ireland Secretary Shaun Woodward MP, Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly, Northern Ireland's finance minister and DUP member Sammy Wilson, the former Northern Ireland First Minister Lord Trimble and Jim Allister of the TUV.
Tuesday, 9 February 2010
- In response to a specific question Paul said that he does not read the comments on his blogs. He also said that half of the 400,000 comments annually are made by 50 people! He thinks that people who complain about comments on blogs should "f*ck off". In contrast Mick came straight in and said that he does read and value his comments.
- In response to a question about science coverage on blogs lamenting how the Climategate e-mails were covered Mick pointed out that like journalists, bloggers are generalists.
- Paul thinks that the New Statesman is read by old tramps in the corner of the library!
- Mick suggested that when the history of this period is written, there will be an analysis of how Paul has been able to deconstruct the character of Gordon Brown and strip him bare in a way that the mainstream media is just not able to do.
- In response to a question specially for Paul and Sunny: "Nadine Dorries, snog, marry, avoid", after briefly threatening to read out some of Nadine's texts to him Paul said that his relationship with Nadine was private. Sunny said "avoid".