Sunday, May 31, 2009

Blackadder Quote

Goodbye Darling

Conservative Bloggers Get Together

I just wanted to say thanks to Steve for organising what was a great day out yesterday at the St Stephens Inn opposite Parliament.

If anyone is interested there are some photo's up on Steve's blog, though somehow I managed to avoid being in any of them.

It was good fun meeting up and being able to put faces to the blogs, and just have a bit of banter with fellow bloggers. Not all are active Conservative Party members, which made for some interesting conversations. I see that through DK talking to Mark (Marks Any Musings) he has today joined the Libertarian Party. I also discovered Badger Beer, which went down very well on a hot summers day.

As the day drew on and a numbers began to dwindle myself, Steve and John Ward went exploring for a final drink in the Westminster Arms, but found it to be shut which surprised us.

Needless to say I was fairly drunk by the time we left Westminster.

I had a little trouble finding my way back, and having got on the tube form Westminster to Embankment, I somehow managed to find my way back to Westminster Tube Station. I made it home at about 10:45... thanks, in part to my wife meeting me at the train station at the other end and guiding me back.

I had a bit of a sore head this morning which has thankfully subsided with the application of water and plenty of Tea.

Steve has said he will look to organise another event in about 4 months time, so if you couldn't make it yesterday there will be another chance to meet up. I would certainly recommend it as a good day out with some fine and hospitable company.

Iain & Hopi Election Results - Friday & Sunday


Iain & Hopi are look for an audience and some citizen bloggers to help cover the Election results on Friday and on Sunday. It sounds like it will be good fun. I have posted the link with an additional motivation - that of a chance of being included within the Daley Dozen. I have read wondrous tales of glee from bloggers who have received additional traffic beyond their wildest dreams when they have been linked previously and would like the same for myself.
On the Friday I have volunteered to count votes locally; that is if I am permitted the day off of work anyway.
Update: To Listen, go here, then select Talk UK from the drop down menu.

Brown On Marr

I watched the Andrew Marr show today, which is something I don't normally do and I caught the interview with Gordon Brown.

Our Prime Minister suggested that the Palace was in some way at fault for expecting an invitation to the D-Day remembrance ceremony this week. He went on to suggest that President Sarkozy had wanted the event to be attended by Presidents and Prime Ministers, not by Royalty.

So I guess what Brown was saying was that the Kings and Queens of France, Russia, and the United States weren't invited either, so no offence should be inferred.

The icing on the cake was that Brown then followed this on by saying that if the Queen was to ask him, he would make sure the arrangements are made. What? Why is the Queen not asked if she wants to attend?

The Queen and Prince Phillip lived through and served in World War 2, the Queen is the only Head of State who saw the war first hand. It is not clear to me whether the French an open invitation that has been claimed by Brown, or if this is some kind of Political grandstanding by a Prime Minister in terminal decline, but the fact is, this has been rumbling on for a week now and it is nothing short of insulting that it could not have been resolved without a public airing.

It is not the first time there has been a memorial service in France, surely there is a protocol that has seen many other services observed and remembered.

Anyway, should the Queen not receive an invitation by tomorrow I suggest she books herself a flight with BA, I had a look and 2 tickets will cost in the region of £400. Perhaps giving the circumstances and the event they, or another airline will offer her the tickets. Then I suggest she books into her own accommodation and then she arrives and attends like all other onlookers and veterans.

In fact as head of the military, perhaps they will lay on a plane.

When the press pack asks why she has had to attend in that manner I think she would be justified to tell them exactly why.

If I am not wrong, The Queen has a meeting Tuesday with Mr Brown at the Palace, perhaps she might like to ask Mr Brown if that is what he wants to happen.

Spain Lunge For The Rock

I have just seen that the EU has approved Spain entry into British waters around Gibraltar on environmental grounds.

So what will the British Government do?

My guess; probably nothing.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Recommended Reading

Here is my latest recommended reading list.

Please note, I do not necessarily agree with these posts and articles, however I found them sufficiently interesting to warrant a recommendation:

Fraser Nelson with the revelation that Alistair Darling actually is cutting Government spending, yet will not admit openly to it, here.

Steve Green with Bad news for Brown and Clegg in the polls, here.

William Hague hits back at David Millibands comments, and says that the Labour Government has left Britain on the fringes of Europe, here.

Lord Mandelson got a Letter from a Tory, here.

Morus reviews VoteMatch on Political Betting, here.

Brits at their Best asks how long can the pols ignore the polls, here.

And finally, for Sci-Fi fans - another epic space battle, this time Battlestar vs Star Wars vs Start Trek vs Babylon 5, here.

Enjoy!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Newsnight 28-May-09

I have just watched the first 20 mins of Newsnight, and it is well worth a watch on iPlayer if you missed it like I did. See it here.

Kelvin MacKenzie, Danny Finkelstein and Susan Kramer talking with Paxo about the Telegraphs revelations - and then, slap bang in the middle Bill Cash phones in to talk about how he flipped his arraignments to help his daughter pay for her wedding - justifying it as within the rules at the time and at no additional cost to what he could have claimed.

So, two observations.

Firstly, I am really sad about the Bill Cash revelation as I genuinely thought he was one of the good guys; despite what I interpret and misappropriation of taxpayers money, he has worked long and hard for transparency in government, the supremacy of Parliament and highlighting the affects of legislation handed down from the EU. When I put up a poll last week about who should be new speaker I included Mr Cash so that I had someone on the list I wanted to vote for... What a fool I feel now. He is not Mr Cameron's favourite backbencher, so I suspect he will get the push, and soon.

Secondly, the crux of the early part of the BBC exchange was that the Daily Telegraph is acting in the roll of Judge & Jury and that paradoxically this through this analogy it was leading to mob rule and disproportion between cases.

It is true that there are people with transgressions (and cases of out-right theft) that have not yet lost their jobs or faced prosecution. To that I would say that I think the BBC analogy is wrong; the DT to me is the Prosecuting Barrister making the case, the public are the Jury and it is the absence of a recognised Judge in the matter that is causing disparity and disproportion. Take the analogy further, the Judge should serve to control the hearing and pass sentence proportionally - to do so as per law, not per emotional stirrings for individual cases. The absence of a judge in the analogy means that the Jury and the victims are deciding the case and proposing their own sentencing.

In short, Parliament should have been the Judge, but it has failed. We needed the Government, or Gordon Brown himself to step into that breech when this began to come to light but he has, predictably, flunked it. It has been passed off to committee. This is why David Cameron is coming off quite well in the public light, because he is acting as Judge for Conservative MPs and he is getting it right.

The only way to fix this and end me making court analogies is to hold a General Election. Only Gordon Brown stands in the way of that happening.

Question Time Tonight

Caroline Flint who is the Minister for Europe was on Question Time tonight, she is famous, so far as I can tell for two things. Firstly for asking to be taken seriously despite a number of pictures floating around of her posing, in what I assume is supposed to be a seductive manner [but was lost on me] on various loungers.

Secondly for being the Europe Minister and admitting that she has not read the Lisbon Treaty - despite her strongly advocating it's adoption.

So you would think that a Minister, who was previously embarrassed for admitting she has not read a Treaty that fundamentally affects us all and the manner in which we are governed, appearing on a show called Question Time might have prompted the question one week before European Elections "Have you read the Lisbon Treaty yet?".... but alas, it did not.

So I am still none the wiser, I suspect the answer is no.

Daniel Hannan and Nigel Farage were good value and Sir Paul Judge popped up in the audience with a question of his own for Nigel.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Should We Seperate The Executive From Parliament?

I have been thinking a lot in recent weeks about how I would reform Parliament and Government if I were in a position to do so. I have lots and lots of ideas; too many I find for me to coherently set them out in a reasoned and sensible way. My brain now seems fit to burst, and it is clear that I will never get the time to write up a super post about all the ills of Government and how potentially to fix it.

So I thought I would set out some arguments for feedback, not necessarily because I am advocating all of them , but because they are worth debating and thinking about.

So, #1 point I have been thinking about is whether or not it would be a positive step to a more representative democracy to separate the executive from Parliament.

In my thoughts, the executive would still be accountable to Parliament, on the whole, but would instead operate independently and would not sit and participate within Parliament. We would all vote on an executive leader, but as they will not be a Minister, so would not hold the title of Prime Minister. Let’s, for now use the term Chairperson, although I do not like that title. The Executive functions and responsibilities would move from the current office of Prime Minister, to the new Executive leader, and the Legislative responsibilities and functions would transfer to the Majority leader in the House of Commons.

The elected Chairperson and Deputy would appoint a cabinet. Their purpose and function would be to execute the departments of government and exercise the law as set out by Parliament. As the Chairperson would be elected and not the head of the majority party, they would need to be elected by a vote of the entire UK (or what is left of the UK post devolution). I would argue that any candidates for such a role would have to be stronger than some people who have become Prime Minister in the last 100 years.

It would also require, I think an elected upper house in Parliament, but I want to write a separate piece on that… If possible, could you envision that as part of the changes bringing the executive out of Parliament.

Positives:

# The Chairperson of the day has an entire country from which to select suitable candidates from for cabinet positions, not just those who have a current seat in Parliament.

# Cabinet appointments would need to be scrutinised by Parliament and confirmed by act of law.

# The current situation see’s a large number of Ministers of various levels voting in Parliament, there is very rarely any dissent or opposition voiced to Government motions. By removing the executive, many more people’s MP’s would be [more] free to debate on a wider range of issues.

# The Chairperson and Deputy would be subject to a ballot of the entire UK, rather than being the leader of the party with the highest number of seats. This is giving people votes on the executive function. We would never again have a situation whereby the PM has not been elected directly.

# The Executive could potentially represent a party in contrast to the majority seated in Parliament.

# By separating the Executive leader from the Legislature, we have a more effective separation of powers that limit the power of one individual. As such, the effects of a megalomaniacal or ineffectual leader are reduced.

# The removal of the Government from the legislature would remove, at present 32 Cabinet members. As such, there are 32 constituencies on the UK where the current MP will not dissent or argue against the Government Position.

# The Executives primary function would be the execution and enforcement of law. Thus, potentially a reduction laws, or clarification of laws would be sought from Executive consultation.

# I would suggest that the Executive would require a VETO before laws are signed by their branch (before moving on to the Queen) – such a VETO, like in the American model could then be challenged by an over-riding vote, where an increased majority in both Houses of Parliament would be required.

# The VETO could protect people from laws being passed that favour the Legislative Branch.

#Equally, the override vote would require an increased majority of both houses of the legislature, as such should safely ensure that any issue that is popular can still be passed.

# As a possible idea, instead of the Queen reading a Government prepared speech at the state opening of Parliament, perhaps the new Executive and possible even the majority leader could deliver a speech to the Queen on the Legislature agenda for the following year.

# We will have a Supreme Court from October this year already, so potentially the Judicial Branch is near enough established.

Negatives:

# The Prime Minister is currently accountable to Parliament both at law but through weekly scrutiny at PMQ’s. Despite an executive being elected, it could become more remote between elections.

# A separate Executive could circumvent current protections guaranteed by Parliament – Executive Fiat could lead to poor and unaccountable governance.

# If we make such a radical change now, could a precedent of radical change be made which may in the future allow for changes to be more regularly being made which in turn could lead to less democratic controls? This would be a danger in the absence of a codified Constitution...

# ...Do we really want to go down the route where we may need a Written Constitution?

# The Executive could eventually be held up as a challenge to the Crown rather than a defender of it.

# At present somewhere in the region of 75-85% of laws are passed over from the EU. Perhaps that is the problem and a massive repatriation of powers to the existing structures would provide the restoration of democratic accountability so many of us crave.

Like I said at the beginning I am not advocating anything more than the extension of some debate, and in the scheme of how such radical changes would be wide reaching, I am undecided.

Obvious flattery aside, I have a pretty intelligent readership, so feel free to run with your thoughts and feedback in the comments. There is much not considered in this short post, and much that can be added.

Question

Why is Kevin Maguire on every TV and radio show all of the time now.

Is there no one else willing to do interviews?

Saturday Get Together

For those keeping track, I had previously rated my chances at 70% to attend due to a large project that we have on at work.

The bad news is that there is no way we will be meeting my 31st May deadline; the good news is that we are so far off that I have not been asked to work this weekend in the summary meeting I just attended.

As such, I am upgrading my chances to 90% - and I now expect to be there. Wahay! (Hopefully when the news sinks with HQ they won't turn the screw and ask for some Saturday hours.)

See here for main thread and list of likely attendees.

Recommended Reading

Here is my latest recommended reading list.

Please note, I do not necessarily agree with these posts and articles, however I found them sufficiently interesting to warrant a recommendation:

John Ward urges real people to stand for election and warns against electing celebrities, here.

Anna Raccoon says that [very] occasional commenter on this blog, David Boothroyd, has resigned his position as Labour Councillor after his Wikipedia activities became public knowledge, here.

David Hughes asks did Margaret Thatcher really start the expenses scam? Here.

Edmund Conway says America's brightest are dreaming up ways on how best to beat the credit crunch, here.

Ill and ancient on a very expensive cup of tea, here.

And finally, with caution as it is a sweary blog, Old Holborn is going to make a citizens arrest at Parliament and urges everyone who is English to come along, here.

Monday, May 25, 2009

New Poll - Who Are You Voting For In The EU Elections?

The newest poll is up, quite simply let me know who you are voting for in the EU elections on 4th June.

Please vote using the poll on the right-hand side of the blog, but feel free to add any thoughts in the comments field of this post.

Recommended Reading

Here is my latest recommended reading list.

Please note, I do not necessarily agree with these posts and articles, however I found them sufficiently interesting to warrant a recommendation:

The All Seeing Eye reveals some things you might not have known about the BBC, here.

Martin on Jury Team Blog says David Cameron is seeking to remake the Conservative Party into the Jury Team, here.

Iain Dale reviews Boris Johnson's latest article and asks how can we revive parliament, here.

Jeff on SNP Tactical Voting launches a campaign to get his blog linked on Iain Dale's Blogroll, pointing out that with Nadine Dorries' Blog being 'taken down' there is a vacancy, here.

Daniel Hannan on the 18 MEPs who will be elected on full salary but do not have a job to do, unless the Lisbon Treaty comes into force, here.

Enjoy!

New Speaker Poll Closes

Here's the scores to the question:

If there is a change of Speaker in this Parliament, who do you want to see get the job?

Sir Ming Campbell - 4% (2)

Charles Kennedy - 6% (3)

Kate Hoey - 4% (2)

Frank Field - 24% (12)

Jack Straw - No Votes

Diane Abbott - 10% (5)

David Davis - 8% (4)

Bill Cash - 4% (2)

Sir George Young - 10% (5)

Doug Carswell - No Votes

Somebody Else - 30% (15)

In the comments of the original post, Anne Widdicombe and Sir Alan Hazelhurst were mooted in the Somebody else suggestion.

I am not sure that this poll suggests any one candidate is widely popular, though it does suggest a few of the names I put up are definitely not.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

In the Good Old Summertime

There's a time in each year that we always hold dear,
the good old summer time;
With the birds and the treeses and sweet-scented breezes,
In the good old summer time.
When your day's work is over then you are in clover,
And life is one beautiful rhyme,
No trouble annoying each one is enjoying,
The good old summer time.

In the good old summertime,
in the good old summertime.
Strolling through the shady lanes with my baby mine.
You hold her hand, and she holds yours,
and that's a very good sign.
She will be your tootsie wootsie,
in the good old summertime.
by George Evans and Ren Shields

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Conservative Blogger Get Together

As organised by Steve Green over on Daily Referendum, there is to be a "get together"







Date: Saturday 30th May 2009

Time: Starts @12:00:00, will run as long as people want to stay on for

Place: St Stephens Tavern, Westminster (opposite Big Ben)

Purpose: Drinking, meeting fellow bloggers, general merriment

As Steve says, it's called Conservative blogger's piss up, but it is open to anyone really.

So I am just doing my bit to help spread the word.

I have permission from by better half to attend (cos she is nice like that!), however, I have a hard deadline of 31st May on an important project at work so I am only at about 70% at the moment, but I hope to know for sure by Tuesday or Wednesday.

Recommended Reading

Here is my latest recommended reading list.

Please note, I do not necessarily agree with these posts and articles, however I found them sufficiently interesting to warrant a recommendation:

Play along at home during PMQ's with Gordon Brown Bingo, here.

Harry Phibbs advises on how to deselect your MP, here.

Ranting Stan with more DNA taken by the police under dubious circumstances, here.

Chris Doidge endorses Sir George Young for the Speakers role, here.

IanPJ on LPUK Blog says that when the speaker leaves, he is taking sovereignty of the House with him, here.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Picture Of Swine Flu Victim

Doctors are hunting the victims girlfriend who is believed to have transmitted, then passed along the virus to the victim.














Hat Tip: The Vas

Is Brown A Classic Bully?

There are so many MPs in the Mire that it is a challenge keeping up with all of their stories. However, that complete and utter hoon, Geoff Hoon MP, has thus far refused to acknowledge if he paid capital gains tax on the sale of his Lambeth property, where he trousered a £300,000.

However, Hazel Blears was summoned and duly ticked off by Gordon Brown for her flat sale and has since offered HMRC a cheque for c£13k the amount that should have been paid in capital gains tax.

Why was Hazel Blears ticked off and not Hoon? Blears did wrong, and although she has not been punished, she has taken action in the correct direction at Gordon Browns urging. Where is Hoon's refund?

Bullies often only pick on those they feel strong enough to tackle and leave alone those they don't fancy the look of. Is Geoff Hoon really too much of a heavyweight in Gordon Browns eyes? If so, that says way more about Brown than it does Hoon.

What of others, such as the Ball's/Cooper household? The Telegraph has been conspicuously silent on that one; as have Downing Street. Could it be because Balls is Browns protégé?

This story will not rest until there has been a General Election and a fresh house has the opportunity to clean up this mess.

Chief Whip Indicates Election

Lifted from Tory Bear Blog.






What a Tw*t. He has since deleted his account.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Why June 21st?

I obviously think it was the right decision for Michael Martin to resign, and by it coming a day after the attempted vote of no confidence it will be a footnote rather than a chapter in itself in the annuls of history.

Can someone educate me, why must we wait until 21st June? I seem to recall that Parliament will sit until July before summer recess, so I don't think it is timed to coincide with that. Surely given the magnitude of what has happened and of what needs to be done, the best option would have been for the Speaker to go now so that the reforms that are needed can begin.

I have not long been home from work so I need to read up, but I am not sure I like the idea of handing controls outside of Parliament. But, that will have to wait for a later post as my ideas on this are a little long-winded.

I am perhaps missing something, but if you know why we must wait 1 month and 3 days to get the urgent business of rebuilding faith in Parliament could you let me know in the comments.

Ta very much.

Recommended Reading

Here is my latest recommended reading list.

Please note, I do not necessarily agree with these posts and articles, however I found them sufficiently interesting to warrant a recommendation:

There was an embarassing moment for President Obama this week. The administration had dismissed an EPA memo on the grounds of being written by a "Bush Holdover". However, it turned out later, that should have read "Clinton Holdover. Story is here.

John Redwood takes a look at a possible Conservative strategy on the EU, here.

A man in a shed says that the next speaker must be English, here.

Daniel Hannan says that Western nations are hurting rather than helping Africa with aid donations, here.

And finally, it looks like Tory Poppins is helping to organise a coup d'etat, here.

Enjoy!

62% Of Labour Party Members Polled Think Gordon Must Go

I saw this polling via, Events Dear Boy, Events so popped over to LabourList, where Labour minded people come together. It is my first visit to LL in probably two months.

1,060 people were polled between Monday 11th and Friday 15th May, of which 783 identified themselves as members or supporters of the Labour party.

In the breakdown of what the Labour supporters polled, 62% agreed that Gordon Brown should not be leader of the Labour Party come the next General Election. This confirms two points key points.

1. That grass-roots Labour supporters have lost confidence in Gordon Brown.

2. 38% of Labour members and supports are clearly bonkers.

Interestingly, support dwindles for Gordon Brown the typically the older the recipients get with 81% of 65+ voters calling for a replacement.

when broken down regionally, only in Yorkshire does the number calling for Brown to go fall below 50%. Even in Scotland the number is 54%.

Gordon Brown is clearly unpopular within his own party and viewed as an electoral liability; but, what are the Labour Party going to do about it?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Order!

Democracy did not fail today, but Parliament, the tool in which we ply our democracy did fail when the speaker refused to allow a debate on his future in an uncharacteristically busy chamber.

The Parliamentary System is built upon the supposition that it will be filled with and defended by Honourable Members, the fault in our system is in the difficulties we encounter when honour is challenged by dishonourable members. Speaker Martin and Prime Minister Brown will continue to put their pocket books, their ambitions and their positions in their political party ahead of the wishes of the public, and seemingly ahead of the wishes of Parliament. The absence of a vote confirms the worst suspicions of the electorate.

Public disdain over the MPs expenses issue is still growing and in reply to public cries of foul-play and fraud we have heard in return acknowledgements that the system must be changed and that it will be done by our repenting politicians. At the head of the list of required actions, before anything can be done is the need to remove the man at the top of the chain whose responsibility it has been over the last decade to ensure transparency and protect the public purse.

The failure to remove Michael Martin demonstrates how it will be impossible to put forward the required changes that will satisfy the public at large. Because of Mr Martins alleged pay deals, he doesn't get his pension unless an election is called; it seems that he is going to fight tooth and nail to secure that.

Well, the future of Parliament is in Gordon Browns hands, for the Speaker declared that any motion on his future needed government sponsorship, despite Gordon Brown having said already it was a matter for MP’s. Upon entering 10 Downing Street on 27th June 2007 the new Prime Minister declared:

"At all time I will be strong in purpose, steadfast in will and resolute in action in the service of what matters most to the British people: meeting the concerns and aspirations of the whole country... I want the best of chances for everyone, that is my mission."

Might I be so bold as to suggest that Gordon Browns sole purpose for what time he remains in high office is to do what he can to restore faith to Parliament. It does need to be MPs that need to make the changes needed, but the service the UK needs most from The Prime Minister right now is a debate and vote on the current Speaker - make that happen, table an appropriate motion and let MPs vote freely.

If this situation is allowed to roll on, the focus will become sharply focused on the PM. The Sunday Mail hinted that the Queen could dissolve Parliament, The Sun has called for an election and tonight Ben Brogan has also called for David Cameron to call for a motion of no confidence on Gordon Brown.

The question now is, if the Speaker does not go, will the political ramifications bring down the government? Or, will Mr Brown summon the acumen to act and prevent this?

Petition Links

David Cameron today called on everybody who wants a general election to pester our MPs, and media to show the strength of our feelings, and even suggested signing a petition.

Well courtesy of Daily Referendum, I have signed the Conservative Party's petition for a general election which can be found here.

The 10 Downing Street Petition calling on Gordon Brown to resign, which has been signed by over 60,000 people is here.

An alternative petition to dissolve Parliament is here.

If any other petitions become known to me I will add a link to this blog. Please consider signing one or all of the above if you have not already done so.

It Woz The Bun That Said It...



And now,

The end is near,

And it's time,

to face, the final curtain....

What a scorcha!

Web Chat

I have just taken part in a live web chat with Sir Paul Judge and Sir Alistair Graham over on Sky News. It was an interesting live blog with some good points being raised about MP's expenses and Speaker Michael Martin.

Should you have 15 minutes, it should be still be there for viewing.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A Musical Tribute

This one is dedicated to Hazel Blears



Warning: Strobe Lighting.

New Poll - Who Should Be New Speaker?

I have put a new poll up on the blog, asking who you would like to see as the new speaker in the event of a change within this Parliament.

Sir Ming Campbell

Charles Kennedy

Kate Hoey

Frank Field

Jack Straw

Diane Abbott

David Davis

Bill Cash

Sir George Young

Doug Carswell

Somebody else

Please vote using the poll on the right hand side of this blog, but feel free to use the comments field if you wish to elaborate on your selection, or in the case of selecting somebody else should you wish to name someone I had not included.

MP Description Poll Closes

Last week I asked which description best described your MP, here are the results.

Thieving Little Git - 45% (14)

Dishonest Prat - 19% (6)

Complete Hoon - 19% (6)

Kate Hoey - 16% (5)

Constitutional Mischief?

I am just jumping around the Sunday Newspapers online and came across an interesting article in the Sunday Mail. Entitled "The Queen tells Gordon Brown she is 'deeply troubled' over MPs' expenses" it begins by suggesting there has been a 'candid exchange of views' when Gordon rolled up to the Palace on Tuesday.

But at the end there are these two provocative paragraphs:

Although the Queen's role in Parliament is now largely ceremonial, it is the Monarch who dissolves Parliament, and it is only convention that dictates that she should do so only on the advice of the Prime Minister.

She also retains a key role in the passage of legislation. The Crown is expected to act with 'the advice and consent' of the Commons and Lords, but again, it is only convention which states that she will give Royal assent to Bills passed by the two Houses.

I wonder what action exactly the Mail is trying to invoke. The Queen demonstrated with The Lisbon Constitutional Treaty that she was prepared to sign away powers from the UK that she is supposed to protect under the her Coronation Oath. Why would she not be prepared to invoke her powers there and supposedly be so inclined now?

Gordon Brown got the job without facing the electorate in a General Election, and without an election within his party. He has since pushed legislation through Parliament which contravenes the 2005 Labour Party manifesto.... In short Gordon Brown never has had an electoral mandate in which to govern. This, in part is why some people do not like him. He is governing without consent or due consideration from the public.

In the last week I have seen a few remarks about the Queen stepping in and I believe there are a few petitions out there urging the Queen to dissolve Parliament.

I really do not think the Queen will dissolve Parliament, though I do believe the Queen will not shy away from raising her concerns with Gordon Brown. It did make for an interesting article though. The Queen appointed Gordon Brown PM without an electoral mandate, I do not see how she can dissolve Parliament now, and not then.

Despite all of this I do think that Parliament should be dissolved, I just don't think the Queen will be the trigger for it. Hoping that she might, seems to me to be a distraction. The removal of Speaker Martin this week could lead to a motion of no confidence on Gordon if he decides to back Speaker Martin, and fails by way of a vote in the Commons. The Speaker is after all not completely loved on the Labour benches. I think given this unprecedented nature of the action against the Speaker in modern times it is fair to say this will be an unpredictable week, one in which future conventions may well be written.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

What Type Of MP Would You Be? Another Annoying Meme

Lots of Meme's flying around, no one tagged me (boo hoo) so I come up with my own this week based on recent events.

So this is open to anyone who wants to be an MP in Parliament after the next General Election, as well as the bloggers tagged below, after they have finished, if they would kindly tag 5 more that would be super.


1. Has there ever been an occasion when you failed to notice that you have paid your mortgage off months, possibly years in advance, and just had not realised?

2. Does your property contain a moat?

3. Do you think you could in good conscience accept a salary and allowances whilst not actually attending your place of work or office?

4. If you were told that it was within the rules to go jump off a cliff, would you do it?

5. Are you able to tell the difference between a room in a house, and an actual house?

6. Are you able to commute a distance under 35 miles for work purposes without the need for an additional house being provided?

7. Do you know what an Iron is?

8. Is your TV or Stereo likely to need an upgrade in the next 5 years?

9. Do you have a warped sense of humour OR Do you have a helipad?

10. If you did need two houses to live and work, do you think it possible to designate one as a main home, and stick by that decision for the duration of that employment?

11. If you work in a different place to where you live – do you find yourself, or could you envision, eating twice as much food as you would if you lived more locally to work?

12. Do you know what a pergola is?

Anyone else who wants to is free to answer in the comments, but be warned and very careful, you may inadvertantly prove yourself suitable for a position in Government.

And with the power vested in me by Blogger, I hereby tag CatoSays, Subrosa, Any of the contributors on An All Seeing Eye, John Ward and Scunnert.

For the record:

1. no

2. no

3. no

4. no

5. yes

6. yes

7. yes

8. well over due, but I will survive

9. yes to warped humour, no to helipad

10. I should think so

11. no

12. no idea

Recommended Reading

Here is my latest recommended reading list.Please note, I do not necessarily agree with these posts and articles, however I found them sufficiently interesting to warrant a recommendation:

Phil Collins in the Times say that Gordon Browns last days resemble the worst of both Major & Callaghan, here.

Iain Martin says Monday is the key day in the efforts to remove the speaker, here.

Mark Milner in the Guardian says that the Royal Mail is now turning a profit, here.

Archbishop Cranmer says that David Cameron's actions have dwarfed Gordon Brown's this week, and that David Cameron is not the De Facto Prime Minister, here.

Finally Howard on Events Dear Boy, Events is calling for a General Election, here.

Enjoy!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Conservatives Parliamentary Claims On-Line Now

From now on the Conservatives will be publishing their expenses online. You can see the (very nearly) live feed, here.

20:15: forgot to credit Guido.

How Can We Fix This Mess?

On day 8 of the Profligate MP Expenses scandal, public anger seems to be increasing rather than subsiding as more and more revelations are being made public, and as the numbness by the public subsides and a real hurt and anger becomes present.

It is still unlikely, at this minute, with all that has been revealed, that Gordon Brown will be overwhelmed by public opinion into calling a General Election. I would wager more than half of us would like an election now, and would be glad to know if this question was being polled on.

However, in the hypothetical situation where an election was called, I would ask if this alone solve the problems and heal the anger that is being felt? I certainly think it would help, but it will not cut to the bone of the issue.

For starters, as the Grimsby audience of Question Time made very vocal on all of our behalf's, we simply do not, and cannot trust the current crop of MPs to resolve this problem. They can't, because they are deeply involved, they have profited, there is ZERO TRUST left.

For a lot of the 646 seats, the sitting MP will be contesting the seat and seeking re-election. But wouldn't it be better, if before the General Election, the local parties were allowed not only to have a vote on not only whether they want their MP to stand again, but additionally who they want to stand? Yes, I am talking about Primaries.

Through the blogs and the news there are a lot of constituencies that may swing because of distrust in the candidate, especially because of the current scandal. How would politics not be better served by allowing everyone who is a member of a political party the chance to kick out the candidate instead of the party? This would increase the level of accountability we hold in our MPs as they would be subject to an additional level of scrutiny. If you are involved enough in politics to want to join a party then I would argue that should be rewarded with a greater say in selecting who runs.

If for example the main parties called for open primaries and called an election for July or August, there would be a period of time in which you, could petition all candidates who wish to run for your chosen party, ask questions, see what they want to do, maybe get a sense of if they will rebel from party lines or rigidly vote as per the whip. Who wouldn't like the opportunity to ask within the party what candidates expect their expenses to be, and how they intend to claim?

There are a lot of unhappy constituents out there, who will not be voting with their politics at the next election to be sure that their MP gets kicked out. Why should decent people get stuck with rotten candidates that they do not support?

There are more concerns. If an election was called for the summer, the Speaker would probably be allowed to stand down, this would be good as we are already holding our noses, a few more weeks would save a constitutional battle. We need a new speaker, and soon, I think only a General Election can make that happen. The replacement speaker absolutely must restore honour to the House and must be absolutely seen to put his or her duties above their party's and personal advancements. Any reforms implemented by Speaker Martin now will be roundly rejected the the court of public opinion.

The question on everybody's mind is, what else are they hiding? You can not break the system and then expect the chance to be the one to rebuild it.

This expenses scandal cannot be swept away with soundbites, and it cannot be explained away with protestations about having followed the rules. If you already had a house in London, you did not need tax payers money to buy you a new one. If MPs are to be trusted with high office, they should not need a guideline to tell them this.

If you write the rules it is easy to hide behind them, they seem to ordinary people to have been designed to allow MPs to get rich whilst hiding their activities from tax payers. There is no argument, none whatsoever that can be advanced to explain away this whole situation.

If I stole from a shop and was caught years later, it would be deemed unacceptable for me to simply declare that I will hand it (or a proportion of it) back and expect that to be the end of it. MPs I have seen on TV are quick to use the term "Full Responsibility" but few seem to understand what it actually means. To MPs I would say shut your mouths, engage you brains and start doing right by your constituents; that is your job, it is your duty and it is the right thing to do.

There needs to be a cull of the current house, a few token MPs simply will not do. There needs to be a cleansed and refreshed feel to a new house that can get on with the job of rebuilding the fabric of society in the UK, regenerating a vibrant economy and restoring civil liberties. We absolutely need to know who it is we are asking us to govern and what they intend to do. Criminals belong in gaol, not Parliament.

Until that election happens we have a lame-duck Parliament that has lost any mandate to govern for us.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Need To Vent Your Spleen?


Want to have your say on MPs Expenses?

Feel like having a rant?

Nothing to do later tonight?

Then please allow me to recommend the B-BBC live blog later this evening to have a bit of a rant and put the world to rights during BBC's Question Time. Normally, it is a very hard programme to watch; but the live blog will provide enough blog medicine to help see you through. Tonight's guests are pictured, and unless you have been living in a cave, you can see there is a tantalising line up for tonight's show.

The fun won't end there, if David and Geoff can be convinced, or are sufficiently drunk, the festivities will spill over into This Week.

Pop over at c10.30 to join in the fun!

Recommended Reading

Here is my latest recommended reading list.

Please note, I do not necessarily agree with these posts and articles, however I found them sufficiently interesting to warrant a recommendation:

The Telegraph says that Britain and Argentina are set to clash over competing claims over 460,000sq miles of seabed around the Falkland Islands, here.

Charlotte Gore with 10 potentially worse Prime Ministers than Gordon Brown, here.

John Redwood scoffs at claims that David Cameron is isolated in Europe, here.

Gerald Warner highlights an established loop-hole in the non-smoking laws, here.

UK Polling Report has the first Populus poll for the EU Elections, here.

And finally, the BBC at last acknowledges that Man Flu exists, here.

Enjoy!

Honour Amongst Thieves

The House of Lords has acted to suspend Lord Taylor of Blackburn and Lord Truscott after review evidence submitted from the Times Newspaper in the newspaper revealed that Labour Peers were accepting cash payments for influencing amendments to legislation.

The total cost to the Peers will be the loss of £335 a day in their Lords Allowances for about 6 months, until the current sitting of Parliament ends.

It is the first time suspensions have been used as punishment since the era of Oliver Cromwell, and is the harshest penalty available to investigating committee - and will be enacted pending a vote to confirm in the House.

Having read this, I think it absolutely stinks. The reason there is no tougher sentence available is because in times gone by, scandals not remotely close to this would have required resignations or of peers being stripped of their peerages or possibly criminal prosecutions and hangings! If these men had anything close to honour they would have immediately resigned. Yet again, the laws of Parliament are there to suit and profit those who work there to the detriment of those governed by it.

Their titles and incomes are secure by virtue of association with the highest echelons of the Labour Party, who did not feel compelled to disassociate these peers with Parliament.

Any law maker who takes cash to influence laws is not acting in the best interests of the country; but is making laws to suit the rich and corrupt who can afford to buy influence.

I say again, it stinks!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

MP Theft - New Plateau Achieved

The Telegraph is revealing tonight that Mr Morley has been claiming his second house allowance against a mortgage that he has already paid off.

There was an £800 per month claim being made for mortgage interest, however in 2007 the fees office asked MPs to produce annual mortgage statements. It was revealed that this particular mortgage had been paid by March 2006.

He is quoted in the paper as saying "some" money was paid pack, but the Telegraph point out it is not clear how much.

Subsequent to no longer being able to claim for the home in Scunthorpe, in November 2007 he "flipped" his allowance claims to his London property which was being rented out by a Labour Party vice-chairman.

Well, if the police are not asked to pay Elliot Morley MP a visit I suspect a baying mob will be happy to.

23:40: Kelvin Mackenzie on the Sky News Paper review has said of Mr Morley "he's either a liar or an idiot"

Is David Cameron Now Prime Minister In Waiting?

I almost put up a post last night about David Cameron and his press conference yesterday when he spoke about expenses. I have to admit, I only saw what Sky News was looping last night, but I was impressed.

The post I was considering, was to say that, I think for the first time, David Cameron seemed Prime Ministerial, and I was going to ask if he had perhaps replaced Gordon Brown in a increasing proportion of the public's conscience as de facto leader. It all seemed a bit woolly so I decided against putting it up.

Today, at my desk at work with no access to the TV I had a quick look on the PMQ's live blogs as I usually do on a Wednesday lunch-time. I usually look first to the Coffee House blog which pinpoints key sections well and gives a pretty good idea of what happened if you have no pictures to watch. The comments can often be enlightening too.

At the end of today's piece in his verdict, Peter Hoskin says:

"Quite simply: the Tory leader has looked more like a Prime Minister-in-waiting over the past two days."

So in that vein, I firstly (again) rue not posting something that I perhaps should have, and secondly, somewhat belatedly, ask this question: Is David Cameron now the Prime Minister in waiting?

Now, by this I mean a little more than will the Conservatives win the next General Election.. because I think everyone now thinks they will, even the current Labour Cabinet thinks so.

When opposition leaders assume power, there tends to be over a few months a refining of their demeanour, in their speech patterns, in the way we listen and what we take from what they say. Typically this happens after power has been assumed, and as the challenges of Governing start to shape the person in the job. I personally think it is often a two way street as the relationship between a leader and an electorate evolves. In my opinion it took Tony Blair a few months, Barrack Obama is slap in the middle of such a transformation. For George Bush didn't happen until the afternoon of September 11th 2001, and for Gordon Brown it hasn't really happened at all. They go from being a party leader and politician to being a leader of people. Not everyone will like them, or agree with them, but that is who they become.

Watching clips from the news last night, it did not strike me until afterwards what I had liked about it. Sure, it is right that opposition MP's are paying back the ill-gotten money and in the future David Cameron can rightly point back and say he took a leadership decision in the absence of the right rules and a vacuum of leadership on this one issue. But, I walked away and felt he was now communicating as a leader of more that just the conservatives, but for all of us.

Now, I have said before I am luke-warm on David Cameron, but that is in a policy sense. I think he is a very good communicator, and I think he will make a good leader. The point is, I think where there is an absence of leadership from the Prime Minister on so much and for so many, I think David Cameron is starting to step into the breech on those matters. I think whereas others have taken the top job and become Presidential or Prime Ministerial from the challenges of the job; for David Cameron this small transformation has already begun.

What do you think?

postscript: As I mentioned, no TV.... If you are commenting and saw it - did the question of the speaker come up during PMQ's?

Motion Of No Confidence Against The Speaker Has Been Tabled

Tabled by Doug Carswell, Paul Flynn, Gordon Prentice & Ben Wallace.

“That this House has no confidence in Mr Speaker and calls for him to step down; notes that Mr Speaker has failed to provide leadership in matters relating to hon. Members’ expenses; believes that a new Speaker urgently needs to be elected by secret ballot, free from manipulation by party Whips, under Standing Order No. 1B; and believes that a new Speaker should proceed to reform the House in such a way as to make it an effective legislature once again.”

Hopefully Mr Martin will resign tomorrow, if not it will got to a vote.

Despite a potential swoop for Ming a few months back, so as to prevent a Tory being appointed, that may well be out of the question after tonight's story on his expense claims.

I did make my suggestion here in February, I suggested... Doug Carswell.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tit For Tat - Which Is A Bigger Waste Of Public Money?

BBC News Readers or Politicians?

I don't like paying as much as we have to for either.

Lord Tebbit Interview

Lord Tebbit - Vote Conservative, Just Not All The Time

Lord Tebbit nearly did a Stuart Wheeler, by telling people not to vote for the main three parties at the EU Elections (and nobody missed the fact that would include the Conservative Party, to whom he was once Chairman)... The difference with Mr Wheeler being that Mr Tebbit did stop short of encouraging a specific alternative and also, did not stump up £100,000 to UKIP.

Mr Tebbits words were:

"Local elections, the great British public should just treat as normal".

"But at the European elections, in my judgment they should send a very sharp message to the leaders of the three national parties by not voting for any of the national party candidates."

He went on to discourage a BNP vote as a vote for "Labour with Racism"

Interesting comments, which in my opinion align Mr Tebbit closer to the Conservative Parties core feeling on the EU that the present leadership.

None the less, Mr Cameron had this to say today as a rebuttal:

"As a former chairman he should know a thing or two about party discipline and about party rules and about supporting other parties. He's treading a very careful path, and I would warn him if he slips off that path he will find he's sitting as an independent"

Perhaps Mr Tebbit was prodding the Conservative Party as despite the positive moves away from the EPP, there is still little confirmation on what stance a Conservative Government would take with the EU or if the COnservatives take power with Lisbon already ratified.

Not talking about the EU as a strategy has made the Conservative seem less split, certainly in polls focused on a UK general Election. Those who are silent still have a contrasting view and remain unconvinced that the Cameron Strategy will benefit Britain in the long-term. If there was ever a time to clarify Conservative plans on the EU it would be the run up to an EU election. Of course, this is my speculation and opinion.

It seems that with Mr Wheeler and now Mr Tebbit that there are still Conservatives with much influence that are not convinced about a soft line on the EU... Could there be more grandees to step forward before June 4th? I think that is a very real possibility.

ProfilGATE

I was going to start referring to the MP's expenses scandal as "Profligate", and though I would like to claim that as my own, it is day 5 so I would imagine it has already been widely used and I just did not notice.

However, a useful page for all bloggers is here, which contains a list of previously used ...GATE scandal names, so as to help confusion. I may start referring to it myself as we seem to be needing a new ...GATE reference every 2-3 weeks now(Though I note, Jacqui Smith's MasturGATE scandal is missing from this list).

Recommended Reading

Here is my latest recommended reading list.

Please note, I do not necessarily agree with these posts and articles, however I found them sufficiently interesting to warrant a recommendation:

Christopher Booker offered up a look inside the EU's unbalanced books, here.

Brits at their Best remembered VE Day, here.

Jeremy Clarkson says the British are awful at gauging and implementing meaningful change, here.

Francis Elliot in The Times says the influx of Conservative MPs after an election victory would push the party to the right, here.

Subrosa pointed out that Iceland have made a formal complaint about Gordon Brown, here.

And finally, Peter Wedderburn says the EU want to stop vets from being on call, here.

Enjoy!

Monday, May 11, 2009

More Scandal For Tories

The Telegraph has posted a taster for tomorrows edition with Senior Tories to be exposed for thousands of pounds worth of claims on Country Homes and one MP's claiming £380 for Horse manure.

I look forward to the revelations, and it would seem David Cameron was expecting worse to come when he confirmed resignations may be necessary.

The Telegraphs teaser is here.

From Tiny Acorns Mighty Oaks Do Grow

Just saw this link in the comments of Doug Carswells Blog, it is a petition to dissolve Parliament, there are at present 23 signatures, and I felt that maybe a wider airing in the blogosphere might trigger some enthusiasm. It is quicker than the 10 Downing Street Petition, and can be done in about 30 Seconds.

http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/dissolve-the-british-parliament.html

Proposal For Legislation

One of the joys of having a blog is that sometimes I can have an idea and just put it out there to see what people think.

Today, I have mostly been thinking about new legislation...

How about getting a law proposed that says that any MP who has fraudulently or inappropriately claimed for expenses, [such as garden furniture or dog food] must pay back the money within 30 days. We can hold a public forum which can decide what the people consider to be justified and what is considered excessive... This list could then be used as a template for a future expenses system.

The legislation could go onto, [ahem], "Nationalise" the assets purchased by MP's through their expense claims, so as to ensure that these ill-gotten property portfolios which have been funded from public funds can be either sold and funds returned to the public purse or immediately made available as council housing.

An immediate audit would be required, and powers to seize assets pending investigation. A specific list of acceptable expenses moving forwards will be made public, with the requirement of ALL receipts to be published via the Internet. Any expense above £100 must be approved bythe fees office, in advance of expenditure to be eligible for a refund.

In the meantime, all MP's who require a permanent second house in the vicinity of Parliament shall be added to the Westminster council housing list, and those who require occasional accommodation shall be advised on local, reasonably priced hotels.

And of course, any MP suspected to have committed fraud shall have their receipts and financial details scrutinised by the Fraud Office or SOCA, depending on the circumstances of the evidence.

Should 5% of the sitting 646 MP's have their cases referred for criminal investigation, the legislation will require the Prime Minister to immediately dissolve Parliament and call for a General Election.

I am open to suggestions and amendments - and even more open should any MP wish to actually raise this in the house.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Fools, Stupid Deluded Fools!

What is the worst thing Labour could do right now?

Answer here.

Hat tip: Alan Wallace Jury Team

Tories In Firing Line - Cameron Says MP's Should Say Sorry

I am watching on Sky News, and flipping around the news sites and the blogosphere. The very first thing I noticed was on what appears to be a video filmed earlier today David Cameron has said that MP's should say sorry.

I am luke-warm on David Cameron but he is absolutely right in this case, people want MP's to say that they are sorry, not that they were acting within the rules. David Cameron's interview was delivered in the right tone and I think that providing Conservative MP's submit to full disclosure and apologise he will come out much better than Gordon Brown from this whole affair. The only thing that I did not hear in the interview was a call for excessive and unfair claims to be repaid - and they really should be.

The early signs are though with claims of Tennis Court repairs, excessive claims on gardening and of my MP Cheryl Gillan MP claiming for Dog Food that the Conservatives will rightly have a day of tough questions ahead of them tomorrow. [Cheryl Gillan also claims c£23k a year for a second house allowance despite her constituency office being 34.3 miles from Westminster].

New Poll - Which Of The Following Best Describes Your MP?

In light of the expenses story I though I would make this weeks poll about you opinions of your local MP.

Please vote using the poll on the right hand side of the blog, but if you wish to elaborate on you selection please feel free to do so in the comments field.

It Really Is The Hardest Word

I may have missed it, but am pretty sure that I have not. I am yet to hear an apology from any of our MP's for misfeasance.

I saw today that Plato blogged an example of an MP who has clearly not had her snout in the trough, and that MP is Kate Hoey.

Let me put this another way. If MP's voted to change the law, so that they, and they alone were allowed to commit murder, we would raise up a bloody revolution. If MP's passed a law that said that despite it being illegal for the population at large, they are protected under law from committing rape, we would again over throw the government. Rightly so.

So why, oh goodness why, do MP's think it is acceptable steal from us, our money, and then claim that because they were acting within the rules they have written and are free to change they are completely free from blame. It is not the rules, as Kate Hoey has demonstrated, it is you. It's not us, it's the rules you see.

I have been sorely tempted in the past few days to abandon reason and convert this to a sweary blog after what I have read.

It seems that tomorrow will be the turn of the Conservatives to have their expenses revealed. It will be day four of the story and if they can continue to show that they are more in touch with the public's mood and can escape any big name scandals then they can put the next General Election in the bag. The sun could run a story about David Cameron eating Hamsters and the Mail could publish pictures of William Hague running a sweatshop - it will no longer matter, because these will still be preferable to Gordon Brown. As I blogged earlier, if the Conservatives hit this note right it will cost Labour core supporters, or at least convince them to stay home from the polling stations as long as Gordon Brown is in charge. [The Conservatives are in so strong a position they, I understand, this week are looking to get a bill through to revoke the national minimum wage, whilst still in opposition.]

I believe the mindset of Labour MP's is that an apology is an admission of guilt, but we can all see in very plain terms what has been going on now. If MP's across the House of Commons cannot hold themselves to account and acknowledge that they have done wrong; then we, the people will not trust them with a return to Parliament.

Poll Closes - Did The Conservatives Do The Right Thing By Forcing Mrs Thatcher To Resign

The poll has closed and here are the responses:

Yes - 31% (11)
No - 57% (20)
Not Sure - 11% (4)

It is an interesting subject, because it is impossible to know for sure how things may have played out, and how very much or how little things would be today if Mrs Thatcher had of stayed on. Thanks to everyone who took part!

Labour On 23% Nationally

Following on from my post on the EU and local polling, I have just seen in the Mail on Sunday that Gordon Browns Labour Party would poll just 23% in a General Election - below the previous lowest of 23.5% once polled for Michael Foot.

In the same article 52% of people polled say that Brown should go and they suggest that Alan Johnson and Jack Straw are the favourite to succeed him, but that Alan Johnson would be much more popular in the Parliamentary Party. They also suggest that Mr Straws 8,009 majority in Blackburn may not be enough to guarantee him a return to Parliament next term with any sub 10,000 majority seat in play for other parties to capture.

The print media, the opinion polls, the bloggers and increasingly his own MP's are all in favour of the Prime Minister stepping down. Less popular than Michael Foot - I might copyright that as I think the Conservatives next media campaign has just been written. [Just though for a second - they can have it, for free!]

Could tomorrow be Black Monday for Brown?

Opinion Poll - Labour In Third Place, Brown Lacks Grass-Root Support

Looking over at the Times today I have seen the first opinion poll information for the EU elections has been published, the Times analysis is here.

The talking points are that Gordon Browns Labour Party are heading for third place in both the EU and local elections, dropping 9% to the Conservatives. Where The Lib Dems are holding firm on 27%, Labours drop will see them fall into third. UKIP still sit fourth, and the much written about BNP are seventh, still behind the Green Party, just. Jury Team seem not to have yet registered any support.

I would suggest that if the Governing Party is finishing third in local and EU elections it is a clear revocation of the flimsy mandate that currently exists. A Third place finish will see the UK in a position whereby the PM is unelected in a national ballot and by his own party; the governing party is legislating to the opposite as set out in its own election manifesto and a nation whose electorate have voted a clear indication of no confidence in the governing party.

Add in to this the current expenses revelations, which may all be out in the public domain by next week, but the story will run and run. There is a lot of MP's who's chief weakness in campaigning for re-election either has graced the pages of the Daily Telegraph this week, or will do so in the next few days. More and more cabinet members are looking very uncertain to be returned the longer Gordon Brown stays in charge.

David Cameron and Nick Clegg have in recent weeks shown that they are both much more in touch with the mood of the country than the PM. This weekend has seen the cabinet take a stubborn line on MPs expenses. This was unfortunately to be expected. However, if a different tact is adopted by David Cameron he would probably find even more favour with the country.

This is one of those odd issues where he could be more appealing to core Labour voters than a Labour PM. Working class Labour wards are some of the poorest in the country, they share the wider disdain in these expenses revelations. As I said before, this is a class issue, but not along the standard class lines; it is the political classes versus everybody else. The You Gov Poll showed that 24% of Labour voters think Gordon Brown is doing badly, only 7% think he is doing very well. I repeat, that is Labour voters, not overall. Just 7% of Labour voters think he is doing very well.

Like I also said recently, there is a feeling that it is not so much when Gordon goes now, but a question of who it will be that triggers the leadership bid. The Chief Whip seems to have lost all authority and that means we will see more and more disillusion and rebellion from with the Labour ranks. Charles Clarke seems to want to compete but has not got the support from the Parliamentary Party, but, others may have that support if they decided to challenge.

A few other points from the poll.

41% of Labour, 51% of Lib Dem and 70% of Conservative voters would back a 20% cut in public spending similar to the one announced in the 1990's in Canada.

There seems to be very little support from any party-aligned voters to the governments Royal Mail proposals and much support for the right to allowing Gurkha's settle in the UK when they have served in the protection of the UK.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Star Trek vs Star Wars

Whilst we are on the subject, if pushed for an answer, which is better Star Wars or Star Trek? Set comments to stun.

Open Thread

It has been a while, but I though another open thread was due. Let me know if there is anything in particular that you do or do not like about the blog. Anything you want to see more, less or none of.

I have played around a bit lately with the right hand side of the blog especially blog rolls as I have quite a lot of links I have tried to seperate them out a little; I may also move the links to the more sweary blogs to a seperate roll. (I am undecided). I am also contemplating getting a tag cloud to replace the existing tag list.

Thanks for stopping by.

Recommended Reading

Here is my latest recommended reading list.

Please note, I do not necessarily agree with these posts and articles, however I found them sufficiently interesting to warrant a recommendation:

Dick Puddlecote with a shocking revelation which beggars belief, here.

John Major acknowledges there are similarities between the present Government and his of 1997, but points out some glaring differences, here.

Frasier Nelson and the poverty Brownie, here.

Ted Foan with an exclusive on John Prescott, here.

And finally, a Wikileaks editorial - Western internet censorship: The beginning of the end, or the end of the beginning? Here.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Musical Dedication To Gordon Brown

There is an important message contained within, if he listens carefully he might get a little hint.

MP Expenses (Once Again)

It is great news that the Daily Telegraph has begun to publish details of MP's expenses, I think it is fair to expect a lot more over the weekend and this will run right through May.

It is a frequent co-incidence that the most interesting political scandals tend to happen when I am busiest at work, alas I shall have to keep my comments short for now.

Yes, there will be new details emerging every day, possibly every few hours as the Telegraph drip feeds us snippets to keep the story alive - that by the way, is their prerogative now having paid what I expect is a princely sum for information Government officials had all along and would not publish themselves.

But, I think how I will read this is to try to stay consistent. I have always felt that MP's expenses are far too generous, and that it was a reward for those prepared to be crooked. I think we will see a picture build up in the next few days of exactly how many MP's have been too quick to charge expenses to the public purse.

The loose rules were there to stave off the supposed need for a lengthy process of refunding expenses, it was argued that MP's could spend that time in better ways. That has always been a flimsy argument, and from today we will see on a wide scale exactly why. If you offer up lunch, don't be surprised if people come to eat, and if you offer up what has been a shockingly unaccountable system of free money, yada, yada, yada.

Additionally, the initial anger, which I share, is actually a class issue. Not working class and middle class, but political class and everyone else. They are the only people in the country that make the rules up on these things and they have, over many, many years opted to line their own pockets first. Grand speeches from men and women who claim to have honour have bellowed out from buildings of proud tradition about the need to do more for us poor people. The whole time it was secondary to holding on to one of the best jobs on the land.

As much as it will become apparent exactly who has been troughing away, I hope to at some point pause also and look to those who did not. This expected scandal may actually turn up a few MP's who did not go to Westminster to build a property portfolio. They should of course not have claimed just because the others did, but they at least will have shown themselves to have demonstrated that they are there for the job, not the perks.

The feeling in the national stomach is akin to those lessons learned growing up; recalling being duped in the playground or mis-sold something by a slick salesman who won you trust or perhaps that early girlfriend who led you down a garden path. We have been robbed in plain sight.

When we say "Tax Payers money" we should be more plain-spoken and say "OUR money". They take it from our wages, we pay it when we shop and to our councils. With every car we fill, every pint we supp and cigarette we burn we have contributed to the national purse a proportion of our money earned through our hard toil. These hucksters asked for our money to build hospitals, educate our young and keep us safe.... more and more they cry they need; so the more we pay, and pay and pay. How are we repaid? What a price we pay when we allow accountability and proper representation escape our tender grasp.

Ultimately, all I have as a man in this country is one vote, and one voice. I shall exercise my voice until it leaves me in shouting down these petty crooks, and lend mine to the others who will cry out "shame" also.

From when I get home tonight my browser will be almost permanently open and on the Telegraphs website - perhaps the next General Election would be a good one to trial out local primaries and let us have scrutiny so as to cut the dross before it gets to Parliament and spends all of our money.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Nigel Farage On Top Form



Recommended Reading - Bumper Edition

Here is my latest recommended reading list. As a one-off, today's edition is a bumper one as there has been a lot of good blog posts and articles to recommend.

Please note, I do not necessarily agree with these posts and articles, however I found them sufficiently interesting to warrant a recommendation:

The Daily Mail says that Jacqui Smith claims Redditch as a second home to Parliament so that she can claim taxpayer funded expenses, but has not made that declaration to Redditch council. Full story here.

Behind Blue Eyes with Bureautopia, here.

Doctor Bloggs with some good information on Swine Flu and staying healthy, here.

Gerald Warner asks if David Cameron is Ted Heath, mk2, here.

Ranting Stan asks what we do after we have cut taxes and public expenditure, here.

Frasier Nelson says that quantitative easing is not doing what it is supposed to do, here.

Centurean2 blog asks why blogs that were enquiring about President Obama's birth certificate have been closed down, here.

Keep Right Online asks if we prefer Liberty & Danger, or Peace & Slavery, here.

And finally,the story of a homeless man in Winnipeg who jumped into a river to save a teenager from drowning, here.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Labours Forgotten Asset?

I just want to raise the question to see if anyone bites.

Is Labours best chance of a partial recovery to abandon Brown and bring back Blair? Obviously Tony Blair is not an MP so I do not believe it would be conceivable that he could come back as party leader. Speculative challengers are all in the "Blairites"camp, and are known as such for their affection towards Labours most successful leader. It should be remembered that not only was Tony Blair an election winning machine, he is still the person who can claim to have won the last General Election. Blair would command the party in a way like no one in the Parliamentary Labour Party could even dream of.

It is not just Blairite MP's that might be keen, as Alistair Campbell and Peter Mandleson would certainly be happy to play a role in steering the ship towards some kind of recovery.

The way I see it, it looks like whether there is an election in June or if it runs until next year there are fundamental questions that the Labour Party need to answer about it's own identity. The New Labour project has not transformed the Old Labour Party, root and branch. It did a good job of keeping the factions united for a long time, but that has melted away and the party seems to be divided. Labour will need to search and answer questions on its ideology and where it wants to go. I personally do not believe that the Old Labour mantra will be successful in terms of electoral appeal, and I suspect the Blairites feel the same. In fact I suspect strongly that Tony Blair himself feels the same.

I wonder what the Labour grass-roots would think to a puppet Blairite being installed as party leader to fight an election this year, with Blair, Mandelson and Campbell fighting their corner? Blair might even be prepared to be the one to tell Brown that time is up - I am not sure that there are two many in Browns circle that would be prepared to do so now. I cannot think of a bigger potential electoral challenge to David Cameron's Conservatives coming from the Labour Party - can any one else?

Potentially, if the Blairites can not succeed in setting the direction of Labours policy, there is a real possibility that the next generation of centre-left political star performers may look instead to the Liberal Democrats. I am pretty sure that the prospect of this happening so soon after Labours big triumphs must be causing some sleepless nights.

Let me be clear, I am speculating, and I do not think even Tony Blair could come back and win the next election, but if Labour are serious about dodging a landslide defeat and over a decade in the wilderness I think they need to look to the guy they benched two years ago and literally beg him to get back into the game... [and maybe politely suggest that Cherie play more of a behind the scenes role.]

EU Election Alternative

There are those of you who read this blog that are of a more left-wing persuasion, and I would imagine that you are having a tough time deciding who to vote for in the upcoming EU Elections. Labour are imploding and the Liberal Democrats always seem a little too keen on the EU - so whats the point of them being there, if they will just accept everything proposed by the EU commission and do not actually speak for you?

Well if you are here and moreover have returned here, it might be fair to assume the undercurrent of anti-EU sentiment that runs through this blog is to some degree appreciated.

How would you feel if I told you that there is a left-wing party running in the EU Elections that wants to do the following:

  • Reject the Lisbon Treaty
  • No to EU directives that privatise our public services
  • Defend and develop manufacturing, agriculture and fishing industries in Britain
  • Repeal anti-trade union ECJ rulings and EU rules promoting social dumping
  • No to racism and fascism, Yes to international solidarity of working people
  • No to EU militarisation
  • Repatriate democratic powers to EU member states
  • Replace unequal EU trade deals with fair trade that benefits developing nations
  • Scrap EU rules designed to stop member states from implementing independent economic policies
  • Keep Britain out of the eurozone

Well, if this is something that you may be interested in and you don't want to vote for the established parties, may I direct your focus to this website for No2EU.

There is some interesting points raised on their website, and I particularly like they way they have set out to dispel the myth that workers rights will be furthered via membership of the EU and there seems (to me) to be a genuine attempt to restore democratic principles to the left's approach to the EU.

If you would prefer to skip right to the end, their candidates list which contains some familiar names can be found here.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Retirement Age To Be Moved To 70?

I have just had a quick read over at the Telegraph and I see that it is being mooted that the retirement age may be put back to 70.

It is an interesting subject, because I suspect it is less likely that you will find consensus through political party allegiance, and more likely that your age will bind people to similar opinions.

I will be 30 in a few months, and as an aside, perfectly fine with that... my hair started retreating at 19 so there is nothing too terrifying about turning three-O. Anyway the idea of working to 70 is not one that I am scared of or would object to. In fact at 30, with no savings, loans and credit cards, and a poor mortgage market, I have not got onto the housing ladder yet. If I was to take a higher rate deal now, I may well have to look at a 30 or 35 year term. Now, of course it is unlikely that I would stay on one mortgage for that whole period, but if I did, I would be 65 by the time a house was potentially paid off. What scares me is not having gainful employment until I am 70.

Ask me again in 10 years to put back retirement I will probably not be happy as I will probably be balder, poorer and moodier. 10 years later still, and you have no chance.

I am guessing that any readers pushing passed 50 would be against putting their retirement back - And I would support your protest, as you will have spent many years working towards the goal of retirement and it would be cruel to add five or more years to that. I am not advocating that.

As a nearly thirty something I would not be against putting back my retirement now. But it would need to be now, before I have lifelong financial plans and have picked out a retirement fishing boat.

My problems are as follows. Firstly, the Chancellor recently admitted that the 50p tax bracket at £150k was plucked out of the air. Like so many Government numbers I have no trust of them or the calculations... So a public or independent review is needed - and fast. Secondly, my working longer does not address the pressures on the current pension demands. I see three big pressures on the current pension pot:

1. The baby boomers retiring. And they are retiring now. They are entitled to their pensions after a life of hard work. But many having worked 40 or so years could be drawing pensions for 40 or more years now. The current system was not designed to support so many for so long.

2. The EU. In a draft version of EU Constitution from 2003 that I recall reading, pensions were to be pooled across the whole of the EU. At the time [I think] the UK was the only country that was saving ahead of the baby-boom retirement period. Subsequently this 'competence' was dropped, but the EU looked once and may again look to "pool" the retirement funds of the EU at a later date.

3. The biggest of all, this Labour Governments spending and debt. Every house in the country is currently committed to service £24k in government debt. The size of Government has almost consistently grown since the end of World War 2, as have the costs. You want me to work longer, start putting political candidates in front of me, and the electorate, who are prepared to reverse this trend.

As mentioned, there is the case that people retiring today will live longer than people who retired when the current age limits were set, and as time goes by we will witness more and more advances in science, diets and medicine extending life expectancies further. I haven't done the maths, but where the baby-boom generation will eventually pass, there is also the future pension requirements from an increasing population of which is increasing through immigration. Today's shortfalls need to be met with reductions in state spending elsewhere.

It is hard to argue that a pension offers a livable amount of money, but this will get worse and worse as time goes on unless we put the retirement age up. I am instinctively for free-market solutions, but I still think that as a society we need to provide a decent pension and a decent health service via the state.

So, as long as it is not based on Alistair Darling's or Gordon Brown's sums, which neither I nor most people trust and if it is about helping other people, who are much closer and actually in retirement to get a livable pension I am open to the dialogue.

I am also for the idea that this needs to be debated as changes need to be phased in over a long period of time and will, or at least should affect people of different ages differently. I do not believe you can keep everybody happy with such a system; however, fail to engage with those it will affect and it will backfire and in 10 or 15 years the whole pension system could collapse.

What do others think?