Saturday, November 07, 2009

Gordon Brown's master plan falls flat

So, Gordon Brown went to the G20 and sprung the idea of a universal tax on financial transactions as a way to prevent further financial crises? Oddly enough, most other governments told him to shove off, leaving us wondering what he is playing at. If you want to make far-reaching changes to the way the international financial system works that involves the co-operation of just about every nation on earth than surely you need to do a little preparation with them, instead of just pulling your rabbit out of the hat and expecting instant accord. What he Brown think was going to happen? That they would say, 'Good God man, what a brilliant idea! Why didn't we think of that? We must adopt it immediately'? It is pretty disturbing that the man leading our country could be that out of touch with, well, people.

Councillors gagged?

Councillor Chris Black, Liberal Democrat Councillor from Rayleigh, posted the following comment to the previous post on the this blog:
Steve, this is off topic, but can you please post something about this 'ban' on your colleagues speaking about Travellers, as reported in the Echo?

Seems very odd to me.
I am happy to explain. Here in Basildon we have long-running planning disputes regarding unauthorised Traveller sites. This has been going on for years and has involved litigation all the way up the the Court of Appeal. Misreported comments by Councillors could affect court cases or the complex relationships with other bodies that the Council needs to maintain on this matter. So, we have had a policy, for years, that all comment on that matter comes from the Leader. Our local paper, the Echo, claims to have suddenly discovered this and ran a pretty apalling article on the subject. While it is always better to maintain cordial relations with the local press, sometimes we simply have to put other things first.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Election Prediction

From that excellent blog:
A new prediction has been posted on 2 November 2009 at

Following the party conference season, the Conservative lead over Labour has increased slightly, and is broadly around the same level that it has been for most of the year.

Populus (Times) has a Conservative lead of 10% (down from 14%),
Ipsos-MORI has a 17% lead (up from 12%),
ICM (Guardian) also has 17% (up from 14%),
YouGov (Daily Telegraph) also has 13% (up from 12%), and
ComRes (Independent) also has 13% (up from 12%).

Overall, the Conservative lead is 14%, which is up 1% from last month.

The current national prediction is that the Conservatives will have a majority of 66 seats, winning 358 seats (+11 seats since 4 October 2009).

Brown betrayed us on Lisbon - eurosceptics blame Cameron

It could be argued that the Conservatives were always going to lose the 1997 election. Despite the economy being on the up, after 18 years of Tory rule the mantra of change was hard to argue against. It could also be argued that what turned a defeat into a landslide was Conservative eurosceptics who never forgave John Major for the Maastricht treaty and so tore him down at every opportunity. So, we ended up with barely 200 Conservative MPs and Labour could dominate the political debate in a way that they could never have done with a more numerous opposition in parliament.

At this point some of those same eurosceptics jumped ship into UKIP in order to carry on with their life goal of preventing Conservatives getting elected. This is the root of Brown's betrayal over Lisbon. With most of the UK population very wary of the encroaching power of EU institutions those most exercised about the issue have conspired to ensure that eurosceptic views have the least representation in Westminster. Their cry is always that the UK parliament doesn't matter any more because everything is decided in Brussels. Yeah, right. Brussels didn't take us to war four times. Brussels didn't give us the worst recession, ever. Brussels didn't open our borders for uncontrolled immigration. Brussels didn't even ratify the Lisbon Treaty. With that last act the usual suspects appear to be blaming the Conservatives for not offerring a meaningless referendum instead of Labour for not offering us a real one. Hell, with a handful more MPs David Cameron could have got have got a referendum vote through parliament because many Labour MPs were sickened enough at their party's betrayal of its manifesto commitment to vote with the opposition. There weren't enough Conservative MPs, but there might have been if those broadly on the same side of the European debate had stood together.

With a general election coming up I expect that the same supposedly eurosceptics, people who have allowed a minority federalist view to dominate British politics, will be up to their old tricks. They will be demanding a referendum on a signed treaty, showing a breathtaking ignorance of the way international relations operates, and rubbishing any real an practical suggestions on repatriating powers form the EU. The threat will be that if the Conservatives don't do what they want then they will campaign for a protest vote. Well, that's what you have done since 1997 and look where it has got us. Lisbon is at least partly your fault.

Don't blame me. I voted Conservative.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

BBC's Norman Smith holds his hands up

Some time ago BBC journalist Norman Smith was commentating on the Today Programme on a George Osborne speech to be delivered that day in which he suggested a Conservative government could learn from local government. Mr. Smith was dismissive, saying that local and national government were different and offering up the fact that local Councillors faced surcharges and could be 'banged up' as an example. In fact the legislation under which Councillors could be surcharges was repealed years ago and the bizarre claim that Councillors can be imprisoned had no basis in fact. He was not corrected by any of his colleagues in the studio and so a very misleading impression of the operation of local government was given, as well as a wholly misleading impression of the validity of George Osborne's speech.

I was pretty annoyed at this, so I sent in a complaint. After some delay, the BBC have now responded:
I would like to assure you that we have forwarded your complaint to Norman Smith who acknowledged that you are quite correct and that surcharging has been abolished. Accordingly he acknowledges this error and offers his apologies for the mistake.
Fair enough, I suppose. It was a howling error though.