Sunday, May 03, 2009

Prescott tells critics to leave the Labour party

This from John Prescott on-air to Charles Clarke after the latter's recent criticism of Gordon Brown:
Charles, if you are ashamed to stay in the party it's obvious what you should do, isn't it?
What an odious, contemptible thing to say to a senior member of your own party. Labour is not the North Korean communist party, it is supposedly a democratic party operating in the context of a democracy. The idea that it, or any party for that matter, should command the total unswerving loyalty of all of its members regardless of any actions of the leadership is alien to the British way of politics, and an insult to the many good men and women in the Labour movement. Prescott though is an example of a knee-jerk political tribalist. In his world anything Labour comes up with must by definition be better that anyone else, so anything other than unthinking support for Gordon Brown is tantamount to treason. He doesn't do political debate, or ideas, or strategy. He credo is evil Tories and vote for anything with a red rose attached, and that is pretty much it. Except that it wasn't: for reasons of internal party management Tony Blair gave this man real power with the bloated Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. That gave us the ruinously expensive regional structures, but that was just part of the damage this man did to our country. Now, the planning system is a bit of a dry subject, but it is really very, very important. Prescott managed to construct a system that during the longest sustained property boom since the war delivered 25% less housing than the previous Conservative government over the same period. He gave us insane complexity, know-nothing civil servants involved at every stage, huge costs to local communities and no delivery. We have sites in Basildon that should have provided homes and jobs that have gone nowhere because of that man's incompetence. He choked off supply, which forced up prices and contributed to the unsustainable property boom that has hurt our country badly. Property firms are going bankrupt, people are in negative equity, Councils are spending fortunes on crazy bureaucratic exercises that are completely disconnected from local people and we don't have the homes where we need them, that is Prescott's legacy.

But hey, let's stick a red rosette on a donkey and vote for it.

Friday, May 01, 2009

John Baron MP requests government action during Visteon debate

MP says Ford/Visteon agreement and PPF should be examined

Yesterday evening John Baron MP joined Angela Smith MP in her adjournment debate regarding the Visteon/Ford dispute. This was an opportunity to question the Minister about government help for the Visteon workforce.

John said:
Having visited the Picket Line, the key concern is that the agreement in 2000 between Ford and Visteon, promising Visteon workers ‘lifetime protection’ of pay and conditions, is not being honoured. The government needs to investigate.

The government should also ensure Visteon workers receive their full entitlement for assistance under the Pension Protection Fund.

At the very least, Ford owes its Visteon workers a moral duty to ensure fair treatment given their loyalty and hardwork over the years.
The Minister promised that he would go away and now further investigate the concerns raised during the debate.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Labour stalking horse?

There is a post on Labourhome discussing the possibility of a stalking horse putting up from the Labour back benches in order to oust Gordon Brown. I have no information on the veracity of this, but my understanding of the Labour's arcane rules is that it is almost impossible to remove a sitting Labour Prime Minister without very large numbers of MPs backing a challenge and then only after a lengthy process. That is not the whole story though, because a revolt on a much smaller scale could in practice finish Brown without the whole mechanical process having to be followed to the end. The trigger would be the elections on June 4th, where the party is running several points behind polls that preceded last year's catastrophic results.

Now the arguments for and against persisting with Gordon Brown have been rehearsed at great length in Labour circles. Calculations are made if Brown can recover in time for a general election and arguments made that a second unelected leader would trigger an immediate general election. Most of this is froth. The facts are that Brown has not shown himself to be an effective leader either of the Labour party or our country. While the former does not bother me that much it should concern any Labour supporter. More importantly, we need good national leadership, especially when we are in the worst recession since the 30s. There is absolutely no school of management or organisations that suggests maintaining an ineffective leader in a post is a strategy for success. In harsh political terms, going into a general election under Gordon Brown is likely to result in a very, very bad result for Labour. Under someone else they may lose, but with Brown the result may be so bad that is resonates for decades.

So, the crunch will come in June. Let us hope that the same Labour MPs who spinelessly let Brown take the helm despite knowing better than the rest of us what was really like will find some courage and do the right thing.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

'We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to resign' up to 28,822

The petition on the Downing Street website calling on Gordon Brown to resign continues to grow. Sign up here.

Labour lose Gurkha vote

If they are willing to die for Britain then they should be allowed to live in Britain. It is a pretty compelling argument, that a relatively small number of Gurkha ex-soldiers and dependents should have the right to live in Britain, if they chose to do so. So, it is a mystery why it has taken a lengthy campaign and court action to get to the point where this is the case. The further mystery was why the government then tried to weasel out of the commitment by hedging residence with so many rules that only a few would qualify. Leaving aside the things like, well, right and wrong, the politics of the situation should have given them pause. Gurkhas enjoy widespread and cross-party support. In opposing them the Labour government has managed to make a great many enemies and seems conniving and unpleasant as well. Gordon Brown was savaged by Nick Clegg in Prime Minister's Questions this afternoon and then lost a vote in the Commons on a motion to grant the Gurkhas full rights. You would have thought that even if they were not motivated by respect for men prepared to put themselves in front of a Taliban bullet on our behalf then political self-interest would play some sort of role in their calculation. As it is, even if they were to climb down tomorrow the damage has been done. Many in the military, and many outside of it, will never forgive the Labour government for the way they have behaved over this.

Monday, April 27, 2009

New Poll puts Tory lead at 19%

In the latest ComRes/Independent poll, the Conservatives have their highest-ever rating at 46% (up 2%), with Labour down 5% on 25% and the Lib Dems up 2% at 18%. Fieldwork was done well after the budget had time to sink in. This tracks well with the two YouGov polls that showed similar leads.

ConservativeHome is suggesting that this equates to a majority of 170 using the UK Polling Report model. Just a bit of fun!

Betting Minister idenitified

The Minister who stands to gain a small fortune if Gordon Brown loses the general election has been identified as Lord West, Security Minister and former Admiral. The Telegraph has it here. So, he didn't sign Brown's nomination papers and hasn't been talking him up to the rest of us. However, he would have made the bet shortly after being appointed and so that raises an intriguing possibility. Did he go straight from his meeting with Brown to the bookies? I mean, as an ex-Admiral one of his key jobs would have been to identify talent for leadership when considering promotions and appointments. One chat with Brown was probably enough to spot a money-making opportunity on that score.

John Baron MP challenges Jack Straw over mini titan plans

MP says Government must consult residents from the earliest stage

John Baron MP has today challenged Justice Secretary Jack Straw on his statement about new prisons, including plans to build a 1,500 inmate prison on the Runwell Hospital site in Wickford. The statement in Parliament comes after John forced the Ministry of Justice to publish a list of sites under consideration for ‘Titan’ prisons last year. Titan prisons have now been abandoned by the Government, but some of the possible sites are being taken forward for a larger number of smaller jails, including Runwell, Wickford.

John said:
I am pleased the Government has finally come clean about it plans for a local prison after fighting my Freedom of Information request over the last year.

The Government should now come clean about its shabby consultation process regarding these new prisons. My FOI request clearly showed that Ministers had hoped to buy land before consulting local residents – an approach the Information Commissioner condemned. This statement today proves nothing has changed and shows complete arrogance by the Government.

I continue to press the Government on the need for a full consultation with local residents. All views should be taken into account from the earliest possible stage, otherwise to consult after a site has been earmarked is nothing but a sham.

That Wickford has been identified as the site of a prison is not good news. That it has been done in this underhand way is despicable. It is vital that the communities are involved in this sort of process from the earliest.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Brown blames Cameron for MPs expenses

According to the Mail, the fact that MPs expenses are an issue is all David Cameron's fault. You see if the Leader of the Opposition hadn't brought it up at Prime Minister's Questions then there wouldn't have been any fuss. This was his line at a bad-tempered meeting where he tried to force though his scheme whereby MPs would clock in and get paid without submitting any receipts. Rather unsportingly both David Cameron and Nigg Clegg told him no, and many Labour backbenchers apparently agree. The smart money is that there isn't any chance of Gordon's expenses plan winning a Commons vote, so it appears that we are back to the drawing board. Why is the PM so excited though? Well, there are rumours that the publication of the details of MPs expenses later this year will include some cases that are so appalling that it may actually force resignations among Labour's ranks. If Brown doesn't have a new system that is good to go then he will have a crisis, which will come just after the crisis that will likely follow the local and Euro elections on June 4th. No wonder he is upset.

Minister bets against Brown

According to the Sunday Times, a minister placed a large bet against Gordon Brown winning the next general election some time ago, while the Prime Minister was doing relatively well in the polls. As a result he or she got odds of 66-1, which means he or she will make a fortune if Labour loses. It also means that someone on the inside had a pretty shrewd idea of what a disaster Brown would be but was still happy to sign his nomination papers for the party leadership and to tell the rest of us what a great chap he is.

Hypocrisy and cowardice of the highest order.