Saturday, December 01, 2007

Matthew Parris deconstructs Brown in the Times

Incredible piece of writing from Matthew Parris. I'm not going to quote any of it because it deserves to be read in its entirety. Read it here.

Simon Heffer decides that Gordon Brown isn't very good, not what he said a while ago

Fans of Simon Heffer may remember his former words of praise for Gordon Brown, for example this from 5th September:
Mr Brown is doing so well not because he has better policies than his rivals (insofar as his rivals have any), but because he is a better politician than any of them.
Today the tune changed to:
You may find this hard to believe, but there will be some people in the Labour Party who will be taking some consolation from the otherwise hideous secret donations scandal. These are not necessarily the small but growing band who realise the mistake they made in giving the job of leader to Gordon Brown, though heaven knows they must be having to have their grins surgically removed.
The basis of this argument was that some people in Labour are happy to see Party and Leader implode because this would allow an argument for State funding of political parties to be made. Apart from being nonsense, no politician would swap government for opposition just to get hold of taxpayers money, Heffer's conversion is pretty funny. He has moved smoothly from praise to criticism with no acknowledgement of the failure of his own political judgement. Next thing he'll be saying nice things about David Cameron.

Damien Green at Billericay Conservative Association

We had Damien Green MP at Billericay Conservative Association yesterday, speaking on the current political scene and on his shadow portfolio of Immigration. He frankly thought that the troubles of the current government stemmed from the mindset of the Labour party, their belief in their own moral purity, which therefore means that as far as they are concerned anything they do must therefore be correct. I have seen much the same from Labour Councillors here in Basildon, who treat most issues as good against evil instead of option one against option two. On immigration, he reiterated the Conservative policy of an annual limit of non-EU migrants and the need for a specialist border police. His response to those who accuse the Conservatives of playing the race card was to first point out that Trevor Phillips, former head of the Commission for Racial Equality, thought this was a valid contribution to the debate on immigration and to say that one of the consequences of Labour's failure to control our borders has to make Britain a centre for the vile trade in people-smuggling.

It went down pretty well.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Gordon Brown at Thames Gateway Forum

Gordon Brown did turn up, giving a very encouraging speech in general, but littering it with so many numbers that it sounded like the man reading out the football scores. There was also a session with Judith Armitt, the Chief Executive of the Thames Gateway, hosted by the editor of Property Week. His game was to try and write a plan for the Thames Gateway in an hour-long panel debate, despite the fact that Judith was in the room and already had a plan thank you very much. She took it in pretty good part, I certainly wouldn't have, and despite the fact that he was talking nonsense. The big idea from this chap and his supporting troupe was that the Thames Gateway should boil down to six projects and more or less forget everything else. So, if you live on a crumbling estate and aren't included in the six then so long, and have a nice life. Another idea was to emphasise on architectural excellence, and a short film showing examples of good buildings from around the world, and the last 1000 years or so, accompanied this proposal. I can accept that no-one should set out to build ugly buildings, but the first priority for any scheme is that it does what it is meant to do, that is homes actually function as homes, shops as shops and so on. That might seem obvious, but we have examples in Basildon of buildings that won architectural awards in their time and ended up decaying in a few years because while they looked great from the air they paid scant attention to how they might actually be used, ending up as sink estates or crime and graffiti-ridden town centres. If I had to make a choice I would pick a boring building where people could live and work in comfort and security over something that made a statement but was more or less unusable in a decade every time. If you can get function and iconic than so much the better, but please let us not pretend that both are equally important.

It was the Thames Gateway Forum dinner last night, and I was fortunate to spend the evening in the company of some rather more intelligent people from Property Week. There were speeches from Boris Johnson and John Prescott and entertainment that included a man with lubricant and a balloon. I won't try to describe that; you really had to be there.

Thames Gateway Forum

I attended the Thames Gateway forum today to launch the procurement for the Sporting Village. For those that don’t know, the forum is a big exhibition and conference in the Docklands Excel Centre, and the Council had a stand to promote our various regeneration projects. The launch was via a reception held on the stand and the surrounds, and it went very well indeed, with a good attendance and speeches from the great and the good. It compared very favourably with several other similar events at much the same time and this speaks very well to the narrative that we have fashioned for Basildon as a place to invest. That message has certainly got through to government as well, and they announced £30m of funding for Basildon regeneration over the next 3 years, which compares vary favourably to our surrounding local authorities. So, all in all, a very good day for the long term future of Basildon District, and there is also a rumour that Gordon Brown might be coming tomorrow, politics permitting.

You might have thought that as a Conservative I would be gloating over the government’s current predicament, but I am not. It is this sort of thing that brings politics and public service into disrepute and I would much rather that any party advantage from this affair had instead come from the debate on the best future for our nation.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Very large Conservative lead in tomorrow's Indepenent

A poll in Tomorrow's Independent puts the Conservatives on 40, Labour on 27 and the Liberal Democrats on 18, a lead of 13. This is the largest Conservative lead since August 1988, when Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister, enough to give David Cameron a parliamentary majority of 64. Oh and Labour's General Secretary resigned because of £600,000 of illegal loans.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Brown/Darling worse than Major/Lamont

From the Mail on Sunday:

John Baron MP demands debate in Parliament on lost HMRC data

Yesterday in the House of Commons, John Baron MP quizzed Harriet Harman MP, Leader of the House of Commons, about the lost HMRC data and asked for a full debate.

John asked:

Will the Leader of the House reconsider her decision not to grant a topical debate on the loss of data by the Government? I suggest that little is more topical than the loss of the personal details of 25 million people, especially given the concern it has caused in our constituencies.

Harriet Harman said she would consider this request and let Parliament know by Monday evening.

John said afterwards:

Gordon Brown has blamed a junior official for the loss of 25 million people’s personal banking details. However, it is becoming increasingly evident that high-ranking officials were aware of the 2 disks being sent through the post. This would suggest a systemic failure in data protection, which is a Government responsibility. We need a proper debate to find out the truth.”

What matters now is that the 2 missing disks are recovered and millions of people, including many constituents, can be reassured that their personal details are safe.

Harriet Harman will 'let Parliament know by Monday evening'? Translated this means 'I hope the bloody disks have turned up by then'.