Let freedom reign

29 April, 2008

Read Theo’s explanation of why Boris and his cronies are a bunch of granny bashing freedom wreckers.

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Is it a bird? is it a plane? No it’s our future king on a tax payer funded joyride! Hurray God save the (future) King! Now as a social democrat I believe in equality and meritocracy so a hereditary monarchy is something of an anathema to me. But I don’t detect serious republican sentiment in the population, if anything the reverse. My Mum thinks the Royal Family are great. So as long as the Queen lives and Prince Charles manages to convince the nation that he isn’t a totally wet whinging whiner the monarchy is all set to continue for the next millennium.

Now the matter in hand is Prince William’s joy ride helicopter flights. I really don’t see what the problem is. Question 1: Is Prince William ever going to see active service? With Prince Harry as the spare to the heir I think we can say conclusively not a chance. Question 2: Is it possible for a senior member of the Royal Family to have a normal job and not taint the royal brand? I think in the present media environment is probably not. Personally I find that really sad but it’s the nature of the beast.

Consequently Prince William has to play at being a solider, sailor and pilot. The military is about as protected an environment that the royals can have once they have left educashunn and as the heir to the throne has no chance of seeing action then he might was well treat it as an extended outward bound course with big toys and fireworks. At least it wastes some time before the next stage of his life, “Royal Duties” for which he must command a world class ability to endure utter tedium and a preference for the national anthem over rock anthems.

Family Matters

24 April, 2008

Do you have an embarrassing relative that you’d rather keep locked up away from ordinary people because they are such a imbecile, disaster, or lecherous shambles? It seems the Tory shadow cabinet has, it’s just a pity for them its their candidate to be Mayor of London.

Also if you can’t contain yourself with the excitement of voting on May 1st or have already sent off your postal vote you can vote on the mayoral race videos here.

Alistair Darling has a difficult act to follow. Gordon Brown was Britain’s most successful ever chancellor. The period of economic growth that he helped sustain is the longest in British economic history. Obviously since Brown has moved into No 10 we have seen the emergence of the credit crunch, Northern Rock, and the beginnings of a down turn in the housing market. Couple this with a government in its 11th year in power and you would expect the opposition to be viewed as more economically sound by the voters.

The problem for the Tories is that they aren’t. Thanks to our friends at conservative home (cheers guys!) I found out Darling has a 6% lead over Osborne. Why is this the case?

1) The voters can differentiate better government incompetance as in being dumped out of the ERM under Major and the effects of a globalised economy where subprime lending in the US housing market is causing banks around the world to question the value of mortgage based collateral that the banks want to use to get wholesale loans to then us to lend ordinary punters like us.

2) The voters support what the government has been doing. Your average voter is not a world class expert in economics but they can see what the government is doing to solve the problem in the credit markets and with northern rock. They may not like the paper liabilities on the public purse which is frankly completely understandable but they also realise that the consequences of inaction could be much much worse.

3) The Tories simply haven’t put a convincing case. Ask people what is the Tory alternative to the governments economic policies and you are going to get a lot of vacant looks. There simply has been a failure by the shadow chancellor to sell his message whatever it is to the country. The modern conservative party has not yet realised it is not enough to gain the confidence of the voters by saying what the government has done is bad. They actually have to put to the people what their alternative vision is.

4) The real economy is still going along OK, not brilliantly but OK unemployment is still low and getting lower, the economy is still forecast to grow this year. House prices may fall a bit over the next 12 months but this is on the back of massive growth over the last few years. Also if house prices do fall there will be plenty of gainers such as first time buyers and people who want to trade up to a bigger property. They will all benefit.

So lets be clear. Taken together this is a massive problem for the Conservatives. The opposition should be taking the government to the cleaners but they have really failed to articulate an alternative policy and while the economic policies of the government aren’t causing dancing in the streets people are seeing them as responsible, combine that with people’s propensity to base their vote on economics at a general election then the Tories esp Iain Dale may be in for a shock at the next general even if they do well in the up coming mid term elections in a few days.

Let’s be having you

21 April, 2008

Feed in tariffs

Via Miller

Double take

21 April, 2008

Is this the same Amir Khan that I saw at a Labour Party fundraising do in Longsight? I think it might well be. He even did a little speech saying Labour was the best party….

Still I have no idea why people put celebs on election leaflets. I can’t imagine it gets you any more votes. That said my opponent in Fylde had Nora Batty actress Kathy Staff on one of his leaflets and he still won by a mile. Though that may be a bad case of post hoc ergo propter hoc as he could of put a picture of a sewage works disaster on and he still would have won.

NB. West Wing addiction rather than Latin classes.

Frankly I’m appalled at the behaviour of Labour’s recent whingers, whiners and the proverbial brigade. Anyone would think that they were part of the opposition rather than supporters of the government or perhaps they have developed an irrational hatred of Labour councillors and want to be them loose their seats not to mention Ken.

What we need is greater discipline not less. I don’t remember reading in any election handbook how government supporters slagging off the government just before elections helps return the said government at the polls. Now is when Labour needs more support not less. Rupa Huq is offering up her sister tush for the cause. Now that’s commitment.

Still it is no use turning a deaf ear. Even a super loyalist like Akehurst reckons we need to act. So here’s 5 things I think the government should be doing.

1) The government should reverse the 10p tax rate abolition. This should be done now rather than in a years time. Yes it would be difficult (but not impossible) to achieve but it would be the right thing to do. Sure I accept their are good technical reasons to press on but politicians have to deal with the political reality. Increasing tax rates for the poor is not what the Labour government should be doing and taxing people more and giving it back to them in tax credits just creates work for administrators rather than social justice which should be the yardstick by which we operate. When ministers in interviews go on about the great many things Labour have done for the low paid over the last ten years they are right but it also means they know as well the government’s best political idea is not taxing 5 million + of our core voters more just before elections.

2) Straight after the local elections we should have a reshuffle. I don’t think it’s right to name names (not every one wants to do a Wiseman) but if I was doing it it would be pretty brutal. Blood should be reaching up the walls and not confined to the carpet. PPS’s who can’t even resign properly should be the start rather than the end.

3) Parliament should be much more powerful in scrutinizing government. It’s no good having a hissy fit after something has gone through the scrutiny process. Select committees should have substantial staffs and this should also apply to standing standing committees. These staffs should be called the Dunwoody brigade and they should scare the hell out of the people they call to account. Ministers who haven’t thought through the effects of legislation should be cleaning the brown stuff off their smalls rather than thinking they can wing it. Detention for 42 days would be a great idea if it was applied to ministers having their bills scrutinized in parliament.

4) I believe more equal societies are better than the alternative of social division and stunted opportunity. The super rich have done really well over the last decade. They can afford to make a greater contribution so that the rest of us (ie the other 99%) get to keep more of our earnings and the government can tackle the evil that is poverty. We should also let the electorate know this is what we stand for before polling day. Ministers with bland cliches saying they want everyone to get rich will not cut it. Inequality matters.

5) We should press ahead with welfare reforms. Indeed it should be full steam ahead. The DWP doesn’t do a very good job at all in getting people back into work and any socialist worth their salt has to recognise that worklessness is an evil that we need to be unremittingly hard upon. I see no chapter in the Handbook of Social Justice about creating an underclass in receipt of state handouts. If charities and the private sector can do better at getting people into employment then it is imperative they be given the chance. Though there is one important line that I would draw in that I would bar religious groups because as we can see from the education sector they give preferential treatment to their own followers in the provision of services which is totally unacceptable.

Nice to see people making their own PPB’s and this one is of a surprisingly good quality. I outrageously nicked it from Hopi but then he got it from someone else. It must be turning viral. Hopi has qualms about the references to the London bombings but I think it’s at times like that when a mayor can make a real difference in the life of a city. Personally I just can’t imagine someone from Henley who’s main qualification is being on HIGNFU making anything other than a complete hash of it. Ken rocks period.

P.S Tribune tells it like it is