Which is why Tories end up sitting on a pile of cash. Far be it from me to suggest that Tory MP’s are money grubbing bribe gobblers out to line their pockets while Labour MP’s are saintly tribunes of the people intent on the noble cause of public service. In fact I don’t have to suggest it as the evidence is all there courtesy of Harvard University.

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McCain’s war record

24 March, 2008

No I’m not talking about him sitting on his ass in a North Vietnamese jail for 5 years having his fingernails pulled out and whatever other atrocious things he had done to him. He’s traded on that for far to long. Personal suffering while it can elicit our sympathy is not a sufficient qualification to be put in charge of the most powerful armed forces in the world history.

I’m talking about what is actually relevant to the Presidency that he seeks to undertake: his record on foreign intervention as a political leader.

Frankly it’s mixed and as he has already admitted he knows sweet FA about the economy I think this should matter even if his buddies in the media don’t. I haven’t forgiven them for the last Republican turkey they decided to serve up on the world decidedly underdone.

Now there was a time when McCain was pretty non interventionist such as over the Lebanon in the early 80’s and in the first Gulf War. More recently he has gone all gun ho, perhaps it’s because as an old man he won’t have to do the fighting any more. He said he wants to be in Iraq for 100 years a line that i’m sure will come back to haunt him and if he is elected president the thousands of Americans and Iraqi’s who will end up in body bags. Hopefully we have a more realistic assessment of what we can do in Iraq on this side of the Atlantic and get out pretty sharpish.

The important thing to remember here is that when giving a person the power to decide to send a country to war do you trust their judgement? They may not get the decision right every time, war is terrible at the best of times but sometimes necessary, but are they going to make a proper assessment of the risks and rewards of such an endeavour? I fear that McCain is to bound up in an ideological groupthink on the “Global War on Terror”. By putting McCain in the Presidency America may be putting the world on course for a ceaseless war.

Take heed of this from Ken or be stuck with the blond one for four years as he makes an arse of himself and London.

Dear Londoner

I’ve lived in London my whole life. I have always worked to make it a better place. I take the tube to get to work not just because public transport is one of the best ways to commute around London but because it keeps me in touch with the concerns of other Londoners.

One thing I’m clear about is that London is now more successful than it was – and that our job is to continue to help all Londoners take part in that success.

There is no room for complacency if London is going to stay on the right path.

My most central pledge at this election is that I will work to ensure that London continues to be successful; that I will not rely on the myth of automatic “trickle down” to ensure every Londoner shares in that success but take practical measures to ensure they do; and that London will tackle the great environmental problems, above all climate change, to ensure that our success is sustainable.

London is leading the world with 21st Century solutions to the challenges that face all of the world’s great cities. My priorities for a new term will be clear – transport, crime, housing, the environment and good community relations.

If you believe the direction London has been going in for the past eight years is fundamentally right and should continue further, then please join my campaign so that we can keep London moving forwards in the future.

Ken Livingstone

Apparently he is a former spad at DCMS but appears to launching a comedy career. At the moment his material involves trying to convince us that the Monarchy is progressive. Fortunately there weren’t to many oldies form the playbook of political doublethink but his set improved as it went on. A birthday card from the queen. What an excellent idea. Al Murray would be proud. Sir, we salute you!

Hat tip T. Miller Esq

Money, Money, Money

19 March, 2008

David Ottewell has a post on Manchester Labour MP’s arguing the case for greater funding for Manchester and there is some very good stuff about how we need to direct health funding to tackle health inequalities.

But it also reminded me of transport. Now i’m a HUGE admirer of what Ken Livingstone has done with transport in London. He has taken political decisions that other politicians were to chicken to take, such as on the conjestion charge and had real success in improving public transport and cycling. The point is though that he has also had wads of cash that other parts of the country simply have not had to do what he has done.

Graham Stringer MP raised a point about the Barnett formula and higher public spending in Scotland at PMQ’s today it being £1500 per person per year higher in Scotland than in the rest of England. But I think under the Barnett formula the area which gains most is Northern Ireland. Now when the Troubles were a serious problem shovelling money into the province was a perfectly sensible idea but now that it is receiving the economic benefits of peace; is it time that we started to think about a peace dividend for the UK taxpayer?

Iain lets one slip

17 March, 2008

If the Conservatives are ever to reduce the tax burden, they must first of all reduce the amount of public spending.

Iain should be getting a stiff talking from the Con Artists at Tory HQ after letting the cat out of the bag. They after all keep peddling the line about sharing the proceeds of growth or more realistically should they ever regain power, cutting as much of the public services especially those used by people who vote for other parties as they can get away with without to serious riots and storing the funds for tax cuts directed to Tory supports to motivate them to vote for a second Tory term.

Sharing the proceeds of growth sounds great doesn’t it. Funny that when the Tories were last in government I don’t remember them being able to cut some massive amount of government spending entitled waste while building shiny new hospitals and having tax cuts come out of a Norman Lamont run treasury.

It was more like the 2 biggest recessions since the 1930’s, the north sea oil money and privatisation proceeds used to pay the dole for 3,ooo,ooo people cast by the tories on to the scrap heap while the public and social infrastructure of the nation was left to rot.

A Tory front organisation sending dog whistle messages to the electorate while enabling Tory frontbenchers to hide their savage cuts agenda per chance?

What me cynical!? Never.

North of Watford

17 March, 2008

is clearly a land that some London politicos have no idea about whatsoever. News reaches us from Labour Home that Chuka Umunna has won the selection to be the next Labour candidate in Streatham. Well Done Chuka, unlike Luke, I think he will be a great addition to the PLP.

I couldn’t help but notice a bit in the comment section.

The party will want to reward Steve. If he plugs away and turns Lambeth Council around in the long term, seats like manchester central and manchester gorton will be made available to him in the election after next. so we should not feel too sorry for him.

Having lived in both Manchester Central and Manchester Gorton in my time this made me laugh. I can honestly say you are about as likely to get unbridled joy from Manc political hacks at the thought of gifting a safe Labour seat to a Londoner as you are of seeing a quintet of polar bears doing the conga across the sahara in sunglasses and fluorescent Hawaiian shirts.

Political betting

7 March, 2008

I don’t bet very often and when I do it’s only on politics. In  the 2001 general election I placed various bets and end up with a profit of £35 which I promptly bet on Iain Duncan Smith not being the next Tory leader. My reckoning in using my winnings in this manner was that the Tory party wouldn’t be so stupid to elect a dictionary picture for non entity as leader and I would be quids in or the Tories would be stuffed.

Unfortunately for my bank balance the Tories really are that stupid and Britain got what must rank as the most unlikely leader of a major political party in modern times. Which in the end even the stupid party realised it had made a stupid mistake and deposed him. Still at least I didn’t lose any money overall.

The 2008 presidential election has been fertile ground for political betting and reawoken my own interest. Even if they take a puritan streak on such matters in the US themselves the primaries are great for political gamblers, plenty of individual events to bet on and lots of information available to make judgements on.

 The Parbury Rules of Political Betting

1) Never ever, ever bet more than you can afford to loose. Decide a limit to the amount you want to bet and stick to it. If you have an addictive personality gambling is absolutely not for you, take up running instead. You’ll get a nice ass and still have money in the bank.

2) Don’t put all you eggs in one basket. As you have set your limit to what you want to spend on gambling don’t go putting it all on one bet because the only dead cert is that there is no such thing as a dead cert. So diversify.

3) Don’t be partisan when betting. Personally I’m highly partisan I like nothing more than seeing Labour doing well and the useless opposition being slaughtered but there is a time and a place and its not while betting. You have to dispassionately analyse a situation, separating what you want to happen from what actually will happen. Betting on John McCain to win a primary in a state where he has a large poll lead, held over a long time and there are small numbers of evangelical Christians likely to back his opponent does not make you a Republican. Thankfully.

4) Evidence. That is what you need and as much of it as possible. Sometimes in life it is right to follow your “gut instincts” but what have you done to make sure it’s not just a twitch in your large intestine which is full of the proverbial. Evidence can be from a wide range of sources. For instance if your canvassing in an election that’s evidence. But it’s important to grade it. For instance was where you were canvassing representative  of the wider electorate. Where you doorstepping or phoning and did you know people are more likely to tell you the truth on the phone.

Opinion polls are the best evidence but check for the sample size. Anything below 500 should ring alarm bells. Also check the margin of error and when the polling was done. For instance in a poll where the margin of error is 4% either way and polling was done a month ago. It will tell you diddly squat about the outcome of an election in 2 weeks time when the leading candidates were only separated by 3%. So get good evidence and if you haven’t got it put the money back in your pocket.

5) Place bets immediately before an election. Remember what Harold Wilson had to say a week is a long time in politics. Now if you place a bet on an election 6 months before you will get a better price and potentially win more money but you are also a lot less likely to actually win because time is a very significant risk factor.

6) Hedge your bets. For instance if you were stupid enough to put money on Mitt Romney to win the Republican nomination and you could see that he was tuning out to be the fake turkey he ended up being and McCain was storming ahead to almost certain victory it would be OK to also back McCain to counterbalance any loses you think that you would get from Romney

7) Bet about what you know. I can just about tell one end of a horse from another but I know next to nothing about the form of various horses so I might as well go and donate money to the Tote than actually make a bet on horses or American Football or some minor tennis tournament.

8) Does it beat the Bank? You might bet for instance that the next Prime Minister of the UK wont be a Liberal Democrat. Indeed you’ll probably get a better price on the second coming of Christ than Nick Clegg in Number 10. But you have checked all the evidence and you still think that there won’t be a Lib Dem government after the next election. The reason you wouldn’t bet on it is that you could get a greater rate of return just leaving it in the bank. Why put your money at risk for less of a return than have it sat in a bank backed by HM Taxpayer?