Sunday, November 30, 2008
John Baron MP has referred to the Information Commissioner the Government’s refusal to allow his Freedom of Information request for a list of sites currently being considered for the Titan prisons. These prisons would house at least 2,500 inmates – more than double the size of Britain’s current jails.
A letter from Justice Minister David Hanson MP confirmed plans to build a Titan prison in the Thames Corridor/Thames Gateway, but refused to list possible sites for fear of “prejudicing the commercial interests” of the Government. A second letter from Shahid Malik MP confirmed that Ministers want to retain the option of buying land before announcing their plans for a jail or undertaking a consultation.
Ministers want to buy the land for a Titan prison without even telling local residents. Any consultation which takes place after land has been bought is bound to be a sham, because communities will be presented with a ‘done deal’.
I have asked the Commissioner to look at this matter because the public interest in favour of transparency and full consultation must override commercial factors, and because Ministers have still refused to rule out Basildon as one of the sites
We do urgently need more prison places to tackle chronic overcrowding, but Titan prisons are not the way to go: all the evidence shows that smaller prisons provide better rehabilitation outcomes.
SH adds: The key local concern is if one of these places is destined for Basildon. We do need more prisons, especially given the rate at which Labour's opponents are being arrested, but we need an open and transparent process for deciding locations, not Home Office whim.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
I wish the recession would end tomorrow, but the sad fact is that it won't. That being the case, what will the government's poll numbers look like as the state of the economy takes its inevitable toll on individual British families? Politically, the PBR narrative had to stick, and it didn't.
Still, there's always the police ready to arrest Labour's opponents.
It seems that I was wrong.
The arrest of a Conservative Front-bench spokesman by 9 anti-terror police for no crime other than being in receipt of leaked information from the Home Office is nothing short of the use of the official power of the Executive to suppress political dissent. Weasel words from the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister about not being aware of the arrest are denials of knowledge of only of the specifics of the police operation. They have not denied instigating the investigation or even authorising the arrest of an opposition MP, and if their carefully chosen words do not rule that out then there is a reason. There is no way on God's green earth that the Metropolitain Police would have acted in the way that they did unless they had discussed and agreed their approach at the highest level. If they hadn't then the Home Secretary would have been calling for their heads right now. She isn't, so therefore she is implicated.
Labour have brought in three times more criminal law then the comparible period of Conservative government. Much of it is under the banner of anti-terrorism legislation. Yet it is an open secret in the legal community that government departments have used such legilsation as a vehicle to put things onto the statute book that would otherwise stand no change of becoming law. A high-priced city lawyer who has worked for the government put that to me just the other day. This is why somone heckling at Labour party conference can be ejected under anti-terror laws. This is why local councils can conduct surveillance operations against litter-droppers under anti-terror laws. This is why an Member of Parliament can be arrested and held for hours and all of their records confiscated under anti-terror laws. Except that in none of these cases was there a terrorist, or any connection to terrorists.
There will be an accounting for this; a political price and maybe a personal price for many of the principal actors as the affair unravels. The government's actions have been condemned from Left to Right. No newspaper has supported Labour repression, and even broadcast journalists are finding it difficult to stay neutral. The Labour government is in a place where the only support it has on this issue are unthinking partisans. Many of their own members, judging from the chat on LabourHome, are recoiling in horror. Labour's poll numbers are going to be hit, and coming after the failure of the PBR in political terms Brown's bounce is well and truly over. So, they have a choice, the same choice faced by Robert Mugabe when his political grip began to weaken, democracy or repression. Do they step away from the road to the police state or do they pick up the pace?
By the way, if you think that I am giving into hyperbolae here then remember that the last time the executive cracked down on an oppositon MP in this sort of way was hundreds of years ago, and it started a war.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
What the government should have done is reduce the tax burden on small business, remember that a rise in Corporation Tax for small business is still planned though there are rumours that at least may be postponed. What they really should have done is reduce income tax, because that is an unequivocal rise in personal income that the consumer would immediately notice, and so the lag effect would be reduced.
Tax cuts should have been matched by savings of course, but, hey, this is a Labour government.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
The information also throws up an insight or two on the BNP's support base, which is summed up in an article on Labourhome entitled 'The BNP IS Labour's problem'. Basically, if you have a predominately Labour-voting area then you get BNP support. Conservative areas tend to reject them.
By the way, if you want to check out the list then it would be irresponsible of me to tell you to go and look on Wikileaks.
Sunday, November 09, 2008
That having been said, there is a window for Brown here on the economy, but to jump through it he would have to junk a lot of what has gone before. Prepare either for U-turns or dogma.
Saturday, November 08, 2008
The other funny thing is the way that criticism of the banks has changed from lending too easily to lending too strictly. Now that the banks have got taxpayer's money it is apparently OK to write bad loans is it? The is an illogical position: public money was not given to the banks to waste it and normal credit risk considerations have to apply or else the taxpayer will be wondering in a few years where all the cash has gone.
The fact is that the banks are a traditional easy target for the press and can be castigated no matter what they do. Where were the these journalists when Icesave was running a Ponzi scheme or RBS was wrecking itself in a ludicrously overpriced acquisition? They missed the stories then, and they are allowing the government to feed them its propaganda now.
This Council believes that local democracy is strengthened if the business of the authority is conducted in an open and transparent way. Council expresses its concern that the current administration seems to prefer secrecy to open government and furthermore calls upon the administration to fully embrace the principles of openness, transparency and fairness in its dealings.The Labour Party simultaneously tried to present the idea that Basildon's Conservative administration deliberately runs as a secret cabal while also asking in a bipartisan way for more information for backbenchers. Now, there is an interesting debate to be had about the role of backbench Councillors and the way that a Council's decisions are subject to proper scrutiny, but you can't run that at the same time as accusing the Council's Cabinet of deliberately keeping people in the dark. One is an apolitical look at the way the Council operates, the other is knockabout. So, of course the debate was its usual partisan row that moved the issue on not a jot.
If Labour are serious about this then calling extraordinary meetings with critical motions is simply not the way to go. Oh, and for those who don't know the recent political history of Basildon, the way the Council currently operates was designed by Basildon Labour Party.
Sunday, November 02, 2008
How have things come to this pass? Well, there are three main reasons for the BBC's crumbling support. First, paying Jonathon Ross £6m a year is indefensible and the public see it as a waste of money, their money. Second, the BBC's insistence on chasing every audience segment, including those exciting by obscenity and abuse had removed any moral authority it may once have had. All any journalist has had to do to make the point is to quote the BBC's own content at its senior executives, and they have been doing that all week, including a seminal interview on the BBC’s own Newsnight with the DG where he was confronted with an appalling joke about the Queen, which I will not repeat here. Third, the systematic bias against the Conservatives has removed any support from one half of the British political divide entirely. If the BBC don't think that this will hurt them under a Conservative government then they are being hopelessly naive.
So, we have a public body that has lost the support of the public for its means of funding from the public, and which has also alienated the party currently running a double digit lead in the polls.
This is how institutions end.
'there may be occasions when in retrospect a commander chose the wrong piece of equipment, the wrong vehicle, for the particular threat that the patrol or whatever it was encountered and we had some casualties as a result'So, basically, when four of his men were blown up in a vehicle that was considered cutting-edge in 1970 it was all his fault. There you have it: Labour's complete contempt for our armed forces and their utter refusal to take responsibility for the young lives lost because of their incompetence and malice.
And they have the nerve to wear poppies.
Friday, October 10, 2008
Friday, October 03, 2008
David Cameron made a superb speech at Birmingham. It cast Gordon Brown's laboured effort at Manchester eight days earlier into the shade in terms of delivery, content and credibility.Never mind the praise, the tone and the language has changed out of all recognition. It is 'David Cameron' or 'Mr. Cameron' not 'Dave'. Gone is the playground abuse and instead we have what is actually quite a good critical review of the speech. The problem that Mr. Heffer has is that he has to row back quite a long way from years of taking the mickey and, until a year ago, heaping praise on Gordon Brown. However, we should not be churlish, because this is actually quality writing. Actually, it is sad. What an excellent body of work Simon Heffer could have created over the years if he had put his mind to it.
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
Highlights for me:
- Sound money, no debt binge under Cameron
- Individual responsibility and responsiblity for professionals and organisations outside of Whitehall
- An end to the health and safety culture though specific legislation
- 3p off Corporation Tax
- Calling on the government not to appeal the High Court decision on the Gurkhas, huge cheer from the floor on this one
- All Conservative Euro MPs to sign up to transparency of expenses, or they stop being Conservative Euro MPs
- Tackling parliamentary sleaze
- Referendum on the Lisbon Treaty
Sunday, September 28, 2008
So, what needs to be done now? Well the Conservatives are starting to propose the sorts of measures that are needed in the form of a reform of banking regulation, and public finances that are not built on excess debt and off balance-sheet vehicles. I have no inside information, but this is what I think: first, we need transparent public finances. No more rubbish about 'borrowing only to invest across the economic cycle' or an 'end to boom and bust', with rhetoric replacing realistic public policy. Fortunately, the smart money is that is exactly what George Osborne will be talking about tomorrow at Conservative Party Conference. Then we need to revert to a system of banking regulation that actually works. That means an end to the Treasury, the FSA and the Bank of England collectively failing to notice a crisis until queues started forming outside of bank branches. So, one regulator, and I would plump for the Bank of England in that role. Then we need to look at Bank's capital adequacy requirement, which is how much cash they keep on hand relative to lending. This needs to be increased and banks cannot be allowed to sidestep it by securitising loan books, which takes them off the balance sheet in a way that avoids regulation but not risks. We also need a better way of measuring asset quality, though the markets are probably taking care of that, and a way of reflecting the underlying funding for bank business. So, there needs to be a limit on what proportion of loans can be funded out of money market activity as opposed to customer deposits or other long-term debt. Put simply, the timescale for most long-term lending must match the timescale for the funding. Otherwise institutions are exposed to grotesque market risks. It is not accidental that the banks that have failed had the highest exposures of this type.
As Gordon Brown said, the 'age of irresponsibility' is at an end. Given he is the architect of it then he goes too.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
The thing is that the actual malpractice at the root of all this belongs to only a limited number of players in the world financial system. Some banks in the US invented a thing called the NINJA loan, which stands for 'no income, no job, no assets'. This is a loan product for people who have no prospect of paying it back, and yes, this is as bonkers as it sounds. You can do this sort of business in a rising property market because if the victim defaults, and they do in droves, you just reposses and sell on into a rising market. These mortages were securitised, sold on, and, well, you know the rest. There were some UK near-equivalents in the Northern Rock 125% 'Together' mortgage, but nothing nearly so bad. Most banks have been caught out be the problems in the Money Markets, not by bad loans, at least not to the point that they will fail. So, a bailout makes sense, and it doesn't even mean that most of those getting it are undeserving.
We do need better regulation though. Unfortunately, most of the horses are long gone.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
The actual problem is not greed, it is complexity, and it is complexity that people mistakenly thought could be managed by computers. Modern IT systems can manipulate data by the terabyte and in a mass of the most complex algorithms, far beyond the scope of general understanding, to the point where only a few backroom experts really know what is going on. Now that is fine for some things, not everyone needs to understand exactly how that reactor core is kept stable or that satellite is kept on station. People do need to understand products in a market though, if they are going to make intelligent decisons about them, and this is where it all went wrong. Financial instruments were packaged and securitised and hedged against in a multiplicity of ways so that there was no intuitive understanding, even by the people who traded in them. It didn't matter though, because the underlying asset values, primarily domestic and commerical property, kept going up in value. Understanding risk is not important when in the short term there isn't any. We all know what happened next: asset values started to fall, because they are cyclic and they always do eventually. Then understanding risk was suddenly very important, and no-one did. The rest, as they say, is history.
It wasn't greed, it was plain old stupidity, the same old stupidity that comes periodically from people trying to adapt to a changing world. And adapt we must, learning the lessons, making the changes and so on. We have had a colossal failure of banking and banking regulation, because for this to have happened very large numbers of people must have nodded and smiled and looked the other way when some of them were actually paid to ask very hard questions instead. That has to change, but it must be remembered that the reaction to the last broadly similar convulsion of the financial sector in 1929 was so wrong-headed that it led to the Great Depresson, fascism, World War Two and the Cold War. We need decent leadership and a regulatory framework that does not crush the market's ability to create wealth, because if economic growth goes into prolonged reverse then the political downsides are too awful to contemplate. So, let's hear less moralistic sound-bites about greed eh? This is just a little too serious for posturing to be the only response.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Friday, September 19, 2008
|British National Party||89||18%|
They lost, and lost badly in a field that included none of the other parties that regularly fight elections in Basildon District. I am very proud of our people today.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Secondly, who are this 24% who still want to vote Labour?
Monday, September 15, 2008
The PM, it seems, has been saved for now at least not by anything he's done but by an atmosphere of weary resignation that has taken over much of his party.Robinson has, to be fair, recognised that this is the equivalent of the Michael Fish 'no hurricane' forecast just before the south of England was hit by a, well, hurricane. Gordon Brown is now in deep trouble, with up to 23 backbench MPs doing to him what he did to Tony Blair, that is to create an environment where he can no longer function as Prime Minister regardless of what the party rulebook says. Labour's arcane system requires 70 odd MPs to precipitate a leadership contest, but the current rebellion calculates that far fewer than that number can put Gordon Brown under enough pressure that he goes. His options are limited: cannot ask for loyalty, because he showed none to Tony Blair; he cannot rely on his electoral mandate within the Labour party, because he and his cronies engineered it so that there was no election. All that is left is force and so far, the response to the rebels has been brutal, with sackings from whatever position held for the crime of, wait for it, asking for a ballot paper as allowed under Labour Party rules. It also begs the question of how the names of the requesters have become know to Gordon's operation, and that is the subject of much debate in online political circles. These heavy-handed tactics might keep Gordon in position in the short term, but they come at a cost of moral authority both within the party and the country.
Politically, Gordon Brown is finished, but at this rate he will drag down his party too. Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair stood aside because, ultimately, they were not prepared to do that. Does Gordon have that sense of historical perspective and moral courage, or is he a dictator who cares not what comes after him as his foes close in on his bunker. If it is the latter then the focus of history has become needle sharp on the events of the next few days. Always remember that political parties can die.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Of course, the BNP have form in all of this. Up and down the country the BNP has managed to win the odd election through a mixture of lies and distortions. When elected, their Councillors show little interest in public service, and anyway they cannot deliver on their promises. After that the electorate usually wises up and they are dumped. Hopefully, we won't have to see that cycle in Noak Bridge.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
...Labour MPs know what to expect when a party continues to be loyal to an obviously defeated and discredited leader. The party soon loses so heavily that it is out of power for several terms. For many MPs, it is the end of a political career. Many ministers suffer a similar fate, eventually clawing their way back into employment only after two or three years of misery and humiliation. Does Labour want its own 1997?If it was that obvious then why is nothing much happening? Gordon Brown is an electoral disaster who possesses none of the policy and character strengths of a John Major. That he has to go is indeed obvious, but it might not happen, and there is a reason for this. According to a parliamentary friend of mine, you have to think about who Labour MPs actually are. For most of them being an MP is the best job that they have ever had, more responsibility and better pay then they could command in the private sector. Most Conservatives on the other hand take pay cuts to enter parliament. So, let's say you are a Labour MP. You are on a majority of a few thousand and mathematically virtually certain to lose your seat at the next election. You have been told that a change of leader means an early election, which will make you unemployed. So, you back Gordon because at least that means nearly two more years in work. If there is going to be a coup it will come from those with majorities in the 6-8000 range who have everything to play for, but given Labour's arcane rules there aren't enough of them against the small majorities and the huge majorities who have no particular reason to dump Gordon. That is why he clings one.
Self-interest should dictate it does not.
Just where did you think the 'a new leader means an early election' stuff actually comes from?
Sunday, September 07, 2008
The only cloud on the horizon is the general economic malaise, which has hit the property industry especially hard. This has had the effect of winnowing out poor projects around the country, and all of ours are still in progess, but recession and uncertainty are not friends of large-scale regeneration. Better national leadership can make a real difference here. Can we have some please?
Saturday, September 06, 2008
The question is if the Labour party are political masochists.
UPDATE: After I had posted this I came across and article that puts me in the uncomfortable position of agreeing with Polly Toynbee. Or maybe it puts her in the uncomfortable position of agreeing with me...
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
I'll get some popcorn in.
Monday, September 01, 2008
Dysfunctional government may be interesting spectacle, but we all have to live here.
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Friday, August 29, 2008
Brown maybe a bright chap, but he has no leadership qualities that are at all evident. Darling is just his poodle, an empty suit without a shred of self-respect. They are dithering while our country needs help and it is unforgivable. Come the next election they will find out just how unforgiving the electorate can be.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
John Baron MP has welcomed recent policy proposals announced by the Conservatives to restore classroom discipline and raise standards of behaviour in schools.
Life in local communities is being marred by violence and disruption in schools – and on the streets as well from children playing truant. These social problems hit the poorest areas the hardest. Bureaucratic rules imposed by the Labour Government have made it harder for teachers to keep order, while false allegations and assaults on teachers have never been higher.
Since 1997, across Essex, the number of permanent exclusions from secondary schools has fallen by 10% – not because of better discipline, but because it has become more difficult to exclude troublemakers.
Conservative proposals include:
· Restoring the authority of headteachers, by ending the right to appeal against exclusions to external panels. Parents would still have a right of appeal to school governors – who are the people who should decide such matters.
· Changing the law so that teachers can physically restrain violent pupils if they need to.
· Establishing new protections for teachers from false and malicious allegations.
· Give headteachers the freedom to pay bonuses to teachers who do a good job.
· Allow headteachers to ban any items they think may cause violence or disruption in schools.
“In too many of our schools, good education is ruined by bad behaviour. The problem doesn’t lie with teachers – but with the Government’s rules and regulations which stop teachers instilling proper discipline. Conservatives will give teachers and heads the powers they need to tackle disruptive kids, improve standards and ensure parents have a real choice over where to send their child.”
Monday, August 25, 2008
Polls in the recent few weeks show a stable, or slightly increasing, lead for the Conservatives over Labour. Populus (Times) has 16% (up by 3%), YouGov (Sunday Times) has 20% (down by 2%), and Ipsos-MORI has 24% (up by 4%). Unchanged are both ICM (Guardian) on 15% and today's ComRes (Independent on Sunday) on 21%.
Overall and on average, the Conservative lead is 19%, which is 1% higher than last month, and a historical record for recent years.
The current prediction is that the Conservatives will have a majority of 172 seats, winning 411 seats (+6 seats since 27 July 2008).
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Something needs to be done to stop the tragic situation of desperate patient selling their homes to fund cancer drugs that are available free of charge everywhere else in the world than England. Others, of course, just die in pain for the want of modern treatment. It seems that there is no end to the damage that this numbers-obsessed government can do.
Friday, August 22, 2008
My view is that this whole area needs some legislative focus. The most recent Criminal Justice bill adds large financial penalties for negligent data handling, but the process of implementation will take until the middle of next year. Right now there are no meaningful penalties beyond bad publicity for an organisation that is incompetent as opposed to criminal in the way it handles personal data. This has to change if we want to stamp these sorts of blunders out.
This latest screwup also begs a question; would you trust this government to run a National Identity database?
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Only one in five councils are using charging to the full potential. Not just to cover costs but to shape their area.because it would help in
reducing congestion, improving levels of health and exercise, encouraging the use of local shops...This is idiotic on a number of levels. Firstly, 90% of the built environment that will exist in the next 50 years is already here. Development takes many years. Today's cities, towns and villages are not laid out with a range of local shops within easy walking distance of everyone and so many people would just have to pay the charges because they had no alternative. Secondly, even if there were local shops it is inconceivable that every village or similar area could have the entire range of retail outlets that people need and so many people would just have to pay the charges because they had no alternative. Thirdly, people with limited mobility need their cars or else they do not go anywhere and so many people would just have to pay the charges because they had no alternative. Fourthly, even if you are able-bodied sometimes you just have too much to carry, like the weekly shop for a large family, and so many people would just have to pay the charges because they had no alternative.
Basically, people would have to pay up and, of course, flat charges that do not take income into account hit the poorest the hardest.
What Labour also fails to take into account is the fact that many car parks are not Council-owned, most supermarkets and many large shopping centres have free parking for example. So, what are they suggesting, that Council's kill the trade in the town centres where they typically do have car parks and leave the out-of-town shopping centres to benefit?
This is a silly and ill-thought out suggestion and we won't be doing anything like it in Basildon. What is it about the Labour Party that they are so addicted to taxing people so much?
Monday, August 18, 2008
Well, the Conservatives have a different approach. We want sport for all, and that means elite sport just as much as casual lesiure usage. So, we are progressively renewing our sporting infrastructure, will relaid all-weather pitches. New competition standard netball courts, an Athletic track brought up to AAA standard, and, of course, a brand new sporting village with a 50m, Olympic-size, pool. To be fair to the Labour Party today, they have shed their virulent hatred of excellence, though they still display occasional grumpiness with the whole sporting agenda. It's a pity that we lost a generation of potential elite sportsmen and women before they got with the program.
Maybe it could have been a Basildon boy or girl standing there with gold around their neck...?
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Ley: Are you worried that this collection of economic statistics we've seen today, including obviously the rising unemployment figures, will further destabilise the prime minister's leadership ?
Plaskitt: I'm not commenting on that issue as I made clear at the outset. It's not about that.
Ley: But you're -
Press officer: We're only talking about today's employment figures.
Ley: Sure, but you're a minister, you're a member of his government.
Plaskitt: Well, the answer's no.
Ley: You don't think it will?
Absolutely incredible that a government press officer would cut into an interview this way. All credit to the BBC for broadcasting it, and that is interesting in itself. Shaun Ley offers up an explanation of what went on in his blog, but does anyone think that the Labour-supporting BBC of old would have hesitated in cutting out the press officer's intervention? It wasn't live so they could have done so easily. These are the people who didn't broadcast Neil Kinnock making a fool of himself before the 1992 election for no reason that has ever been adequately explained and the people who ran biased media against the Conservatives for decades. Could it be that the realisation that Labour may not be in power for much longer has emboldened them? Could it be that emerging debate on the future of the BBC has made them realise that systematic political bias is not a long-term survival strategy? In that at least I think that the damage has already been done.
With the growing numbers of wounded personnel repatriated to the UK and with continued growth in medically discharged personnel since the Falklands war to current conflicts and operations, our service men & women and veterans of previous operational service are owed the best medical care possible. The existing facilities are falling short and the NHS are not meeting the needs of veterans who still need treatment for their service related conditions. A dedicated Military & Veterans Hospital will greatly help resolve this National scandal since the complete closure of our military hospitals that has proved to be total folly.
We used to have many such dedicated hospitals, but in acts of short-sighted folly they were all closed. Right now our wounded get one ward of one NHS hospital. It is pitiful and it is not enough.
Sign the petition here.
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Meanwhile, David Cameron has been saying exactly what the government should have been saying if they hadn’t outsourced our foreign policy to the EU. The Georgians may have made a terrible misjudgement, but the Russian reaction has gone well beyond being reasonable, with widespread air attack and ground action that is less designed to protect their people in South Ossetia and more designed to cripple Georgia as a nation. This is the point when Labour’s dithering and incompetence stops being funny. Our foreign policy should not be paralysed by a Prime Minister who can’t make a decision and a Foreign Secretary whose sole focus is getting the Prime Minister’s job. Can we really afford another two years of this?
Monday, August 11, 2008
The blunders of this government keep coming. This is not a Labour/Tory thing; this is increasingly an idiot/competent thing. You couldn't imagine this happening with Tony Blair, and I never thought I would ever write something like that.
Saturday, August 09, 2008
Figures obtained by John Baron MP through Freedom of Information requests show that co-payments (or ‘top-ups’) were available in the NHS as recently as last year – before being stopped by guidance issued by the Department of Health. John has been campaigning against the ban on co-payments following the sad case of a constituent (Mrs Linda O’Boyle) who was refused funding for a cancer drug and then sought to pay privately. Under current arrangements, patients who go private for a drug not available on the NHS risk losing their entitlements to basic NHS care. Opponents of co-payments argue that topping-up would create a two-tier health service and undermine founding principles of the NHS. However, these new figures prove that co-payments were available in the past without any difficulties. A trust in Cornwall allowed 20 patients to co-pay for drugs which the NHS refused to fund before the ban was introduced.
Commenting, John said:
“The new figures show that co-payments were available in the NHS until last year without undermining its founding principles. Therefore, opponents of co-payments are wrong to argue they would mean the end of the NHS as we know it.”
“We always knew the present ban on top-ups is inhumane as it can result in NHS care being withdrawn from patients wishing to pay for drugs not available on the NHS. But these FOI figures also confirm the ban is illogical because it has been ignored in the past.”
“The latest NICE decision regarding the Bowel Cancer drugs shows just how far behind we are other European countries when it comes to patients accessing the latest treatments. This issue is not going away.”
From personal experience I know that the current situation regarding cancer drugs is perverse. NICE initially rejected the drug that saved my life, Velcade, and that decision almost certainly meant a number of people died in pain. The system couples that with making it impossible for people to pay for lifesaving drugs themselves, which means more early deaths and the attendant family tragedy. What kind of monsters are running our country? Don't they realise that these are real people, or maybe they just don't care.
What else is there to say? Does this woman seriously entertain the idea that this was in any way the way Conservatives are expected or encouraged to operate? If she does then she should lay out her case, and let's face it if she has something then it would be a huge news story. She won't do that of course because she has nothing. I'm an ex-parliamentary candidate, Constituency Chairman and current senior Councillor so I know of what I write. Conservative are expected to meet the highest standards in public life or else they cease to be Conservatives. There is nothing to this but one scumbag in Watford and the dripping pen of a columnist who has clearly been instructed to keep bashing David Cameron while Simon gets sunburnt. Oh, and the Liberal Democrats have jumped on this idea as well.
There's a surprise.
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
Nationalising Northern Rock made no sense in financial terms, but it was never about money, it was about Labour marginal seats. Make no mistake, if it had been called 'Southern Rock' and based in Guildford then it would have gone to the wall. That could not be allowed to happen to one of the biggest employers in one of Labour's heartlands so they used the taxpayers money to bail it out, and now to keep bailing it out because even with guaranteed government funding Northern Rock is still tottering. This is £3bn that the government can't use it to help the many people who are finding it tough as the country slides into recession. How about reducing taxes? How about kick-starting the housing market? How about reversing the punitive increase in Vehicle Excise Duty that hits the poorest families the hardest? No, instead the cash goes to preserving a few thousand jobs and a few jobs in particular: Labour MPs in the North East.
Thursday, July 31, 2008
Politics 101: keep people inside the tent, or you might become unexpectedly wet.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
One thing is certain, Milliband is more dangerous to the Conservative Party than Brown ever could be.
Still, there is one ray of hope. The scheme depends on government funding in the tens of millions or else it goes nowhere. Right now the government hasn’t got a bean, and anyway they may not be the government for very much longer. There may be a few icebergs before a Titanic of rubbish sails into Pitsea.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Recent polls still show a very strong Conservative lead over Labour, but one whichNot really going to send Gordon on holiday with a spring to his step.
is slightly reduced from last month. Populus (Times) has 13% (down from 20%),
YouGov (Sunday Times) has 22% (up from 18%), ComRes (Independent on Sunday) has 21% (unchanged), ICM (Guardian) sees 15% (down from 20%), and Ipsos-MORI has 20% (up from 17%).
Overall the Conservative lead is 18% which is 1% lower than June. The prediction also includes the results of the recent YouGov poll in Scotland showing the SNP 4% ahead of Labour. As is our standard practice, we do not include the results of by-elections in the prediction because they are not a good predictor of subsequent general elections.
The current prediction is that the Conservatives will have a majority of 160 seats,
winning 405 seats (-1 seat since 28 Jun 2008).
Saturday, July 26, 2008
The Labour candidate was Dave Rowntree, whose previous claim to fame was as the drummer in Blur. He lost pretty spectacularly in a 14.1% swing to the Conservatives. What is significant is that this particular seat has never had anything other than a Labour Councillor from its inception. Gordon Brown's Labour continues to set records.
Friday, July 25, 2008
The by-election result was awful for Labour, but hey, by-elections are not always a good guide to a subsequent general election. In this case, however, there is an interesting detail: turnout was high, only a little behind that in that last general election. This means Labour voters were not staying at home, they were coming out and voting for someone else. So, will someone tell me who exactly is today's Labour is meant to appeal to? They came fifth in Henley, so it's not the affluent. They lost in Crewe and Nantwich, so it's not the aspirational. They lost in Glasgow East, so it's not the struggling. Rejection right across the demographic spectrum is difficult to achieve, but Gordon Brown has managed it.
If they had the brains that God gave a weasel then Labour would ditch Brown. Let's hope they don't eh?
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Monday, July 21, 2008
Basildon Council has the same pressures as everyone else: legislative incentives to recycle that mean considerable investment, and so there has been the temptation to play fast and loose with our rubbish collection responsibilities. Well, we haven’t, because we think that this basic service is so essential that even tentative suggestions to even think about biweekly collections and the like have been pretty firmly rejected. That also goes for pay-as-you-throw or any other wheeze that makes people pay for rubbish collection when they are already getting stung for so much Council Tax. We will be continuing with a high-quality weekly collection, paid for out of existing Council Tax unless the Labour government uses legislation to put a gun to our heads. The trouble is that I wouldn’t put is past them.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
This brings us on to basic politics. Simon's approach is ideological, with the axe falling and the pieces dropping where they may. Government spending is to be cut quickly and nothing else matters. Except that other things do matter, like maintaining good quality public services, and the secondary effects on the economy of firing people in large numbers, because that what slimming government means, also have to be managed. Anyone who has ever been is business will tell you that transforming an organisation, any organisation, to reduce costs while still keeping things moving forward is very difficult and it is almost impossible to do it very quickly. Of course, Simon has never been in business. There is also the small matter of the politics. Each of the general elections since 1997 has been fought by the Labour party on the theme of their investment versus Tory cuts. Oddly enough, David Cameron doesn't want to give his opponents any ammunition that would allow such a campaign against him next time, even allowing that public opinion has shifted from where it was in 1997. Of course, Simon has never been in politics. This brings us to the interesting question of why the Telegraph actually employs him? Actually, it is a matter of marketing. Somewhere in the back room of the Telegraph HQ there is a marketing department and one of the tools that they employ is customer segmentation. This is the art of taking a customer population and slicing it up into geodemographic chunks with witty names like 'shotguns and pickups' and 'struggling families' to better analyse their needs and wants and to provide for them, at least insofar as it promotes sales. So, the Telegraph will have noticed that they have a paper-buying segment called 'experienceless ideologues' and the word will have gone out to devote a certain amount of newsprint in cater for them. Step forward Simon Heffer, kept around in order to keep a minority of people like him ponying up 80p a day. The question is does he realise that this is his function? If so, maybe it is time to re-evaluate his writing as satire.
Saturday, July 12, 2008
Anyway, there we all were, hearing from our recently appointed Inclusion and Diversity Manager on the way we will be taking that agenda forward. It took us a while to make this particular appointment because we were very keen to make sure that we had the right person for the job. A couple of tries at the market had yielded a very poor field and we did not appoint as a result, and the Labour party criticised us for that. However, we have a policy at Basildon in that we will give people jobs just to tick a box. People have to be up to our high standards or we do not hire them. Given their previous interest you would have thought that this meeting would have been well-attended by Labour members, but you would have been wrong. Only one party on Basildon District Council was present, and that was the Conservative Party.
Perhaps, this will be the end of pious lectures on the subject from Labour. Maybe pigs will fly.
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
So, don't try to make out it is my fault if I don't clean my plate.
Saturday, July 05, 2008
Apparently Glasgow East is in dire straights, with around 50% unemployment, chronic drug use and third world levels of life expectancy. It is a testament to Labour's complete failure to look after their core support and the sapping effect of welfare dependency locking people in to poverty. The left-wing press has already started talking about how much cash it would take to improve the lives of the people there, with the implication that taxes should rise as a consequence. This is nonsense; giving people cash is actually the problem because it removes the incentives for able people to work and to better themselves. If you want to know why so many people in Glasgow East don't work then the answer is simple, because they don't have to. In the US a combination of social action coupled with withdrawing welfare if people don't try to help themselves has done wonders. In Glasgow Labour pays to keep people poor and deprived.
Maybe when the poor stop voting for them Labour will finally get it. Never mind that Gordon Brown may go down in flames if Labour lose. Maybe a system that promotes welfare deprivation will burn too.
Thursday, July 03, 2008
Now, a loan of this type to a Council is not the same as personal or corporate debt, but it would add to the already large debt that Basildon has associated with its housing stock and it might leave the Council vulnerable to changes in government funding arrangements for, well, ever.
This is not a good state of affairs to say the least. I sense some late evenings poring over financial projections in my immediate future.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Who is running the political strategy for the Labour party? Are they actually trying to drive away support? At this rate they will end up not only with less than 200 MPs but hardly any councillors, no money, and a legacy of bitterness that will keep them out of power for a generation, or finish them off entirely. I am genuinely perplexed as to what may be going on. These are not stupid people after all, but they are acting like political morons.