Wednesday, May 12, 2010
There is another point about the failed attempt at a Liberal/Labour coalition. This was the last charge of Blair's apparatchiks. Peter Mandleson and Alastair Campbell are both proven serial liars. Neither are elected and both would have personally benefited from the walking zombie of a Labour-led, cobbled-together coalition, damaging as that would have been for the country. So, they talked Brown into a cynical promise to resign and tried to bounce their party into a nasty little deal. Fortunately, for both the country and the Labour party wiser heads prevailed, with MPs and Cabinet Members telling Mandleson and Campbell where to get off. Otherwise we would have had a weak, cynical government presided over by a loser and hostage to minor party interests. That it would have laid the ground for a Conservative landslide at the next election would not have compensated for the damage it would have done to Britain as we struggled to tackle Labour's debt mountain.
Hopefully that is the last we shall see of those two clowns.
Saturday, May 08, 2010
Friday, May 07, 2010
Stephen Metcalfe showed great character and his campaign manager Mark Coxshall great organisation in the three-year slog that took them to the fantastic victory in Basildon and East Thurrock yesterday. Stephen is a very hard worker and very intelligent. He will be a credit to parliament. One of the best things about yesterday for me was walking into his campaign office to find it full of young people beavering away. The future of the party looks good to me.
I have always liked Angela Smith, the defeated ex-MP, on a personal level and she has achieved so much from her modest start in Pitsea. I do think that her campaign was not well run though. Some of the Labour literature that I saw was very poor and their was a lack of consistent themes. Given that she had the overt backing of the local paper, the Echo, and her local links then she was in with a chance at least. However, bad organisation and Stephen's qualities and campaign was too much for local Labour.
John Baron is back with a thumping increase in his majority, despite new boundaries that theoretically made his prospects worse. He is an excellent MP and my colleague Richard Moore ran a first-class campaign for him. The A team triumphed against a dismal Labour effort that had all of the hallmarks of just going through the motions.
We had Council elections as well as the general election, with the results announced today. The Conservative council administration held every seat that we were defending, and missed a couple of other seats by heartbreakingly small margins. Commiserations to our candidates there, especially the talented young women in Fryerns and Lee Chapel North.
So, the Essex voters have delivered their verdict on Labour, and it isn't pretty. Locally we carry on with our successful Conservative administration. Nationally, well, just keep watching the news...
Monday, May 03, 2010
We will change politics
Our political system needs to change. Politicians must be made more accountable, and we must take power away from Westminster and put it in the hands of people - individuals, families and neighbourhoods.
If you elect a Conservative government on 6 May, we will:
1. Give you the right to sack your MP, so you don't have to wait for an election to get rid of politicians who are guilty of misconduct.
2. Cut the number of MPs by ten per cent, and cut the subsidies and perks for politicians.
3. Cut ministers' pay by five per cent and freeze it for five years.
4. Give local communities the power to take charge of the local planning system and vote on excessive council tax rises.
5. Make government transparent, publishing every item of government spending over £25,000, all government contracts, and all local council spending over £500.
We will change the economy
Gordon Brown's economic incompetence has doubled the national debt, given us record youth unemployment, and widened the gap between rich and poor. Unemployment is still rising, and this year we will spend more on debt interest than on schools. We need to get our economy moving.
If you elect a Conservative government on 6 May, we will:
1. Cut wasteful government spending so we can stop Labour's jobs tax, which would kill the recovery.
2. Act now on the national debt, so we can keep mortgage rates lower for longer.
3. Reduce emissions and build a greener economy, with thousands of new jobs in green industries and advanced manufacturing.
4. Get Britain working by giving unemployed people support to get work, creating 400,000 new apprenticeships and training places over two years, and cutting benefits for those who refuse work.
5. Control immigration, reducing it to the levels of the 1990s - meaning tens of thousands a year, instead of the hundreds of thousands a year under Labour.
We will change society
We face big social problems in this country: family breakdown, educational failure, crime and deep poverty. Labour's big government has failed; we will help build a Big Society where everyone plays their part in mending our broken society.
If you elect a Conservative government on 6 May, we will:
1. Increase spending on health every year, while cutting waste in the NHS, so that more goes to nurses and doctors on the frontline, and make sure you get access to the cancer drugs you need.
2. Support families, by giving married couples and civil partners a tax break, giving more people the right to request flexible working and helping young families with extra Sure Start health visitors.
3. Raise standards in schools, by giving teachers the power to restore discipline and by giving parents, charities and voluntary groups the power to start new smaller schools.
4. Increase the basic state pension, by relinking it to earnings, and protect the winter fuel allowance, free TV licences, free bus travel and other key benefits for older people.
5. Fight back against crime, cut paperwork to get police officers on the street, and make sure criminals serve the sentence given to them in court.
6. Create National Citizen Service for every 16 year old, to help bring the country together.
Monday, April 12, 2010
The other claim from the MoJ is that the prison will be some huge economic benefit to Wickford. Let's explore this for a moment shall we? Based on MoJ figures the prison will employ 900 people, but based on their own figures only half of them are expected to live in Basildon District. Also, based on correspondence from the MoJ the expectation is that most of these jobs will be relatively low-paid. So, there you have it: 450 mainly low-paid jobs. We can get that from one medium-sized factory on a tenth of the land area, probably with better jobs too. This is not the stuff of which booms are made.
Anyway, Basildon's Cabinet has voted to make representations to Chelmsford to turn the proposal down. Let's hope they do that, and that they aren't overruled by some Planning Inspector in Whitehall. Everyone is talking about localism.
Let's see some.
Monday, April 05, 2010
So, why is Mrs. Smith pursuing this on the eve of a general election where she is fighting a marginal seat that is a must-win for Gordon Brown to stay as Prime Minister? Well, there is the first clue. It is likely that the General Election campaign starts tomorrow and so any such statements from Angela will get lost among dozens of election stories. The Easter weekend was the last chance she had to get any attention with something like this. This begs the question as to why she wants the attention, and the answer to this is that Mrs. Smith is already thinking about life after Westminster. Before she came into parliament Angela Smith was a leading light in the League Against Cruel Sports. If she thinks that she is going to lose, and many people have told me that she is not confident, then she has to be considering what she does next. It seems that her thinking is turning to the charitable animal-rights sector, hence the staking out of a policy platform.
One thing though, Mrs. Smith is a very good at influencing public policy. Look at the way the League Against Cruel Sports pushed Labour into the hunting ban despite its inherent idiocy, the vast amount of parliamentary time and focus it consumed and the long-term damage it has done to Labour in rural areas. If she does exit parliament then this zoo business is probably not going to go away.
Sunday, April 04, 2010
Anyway, it has garnered a great deal of interest in the media as far away as Australia. Better yet the coverage has generally been positive. I think that the sign looks good and that it does its primary job. There's no way you can speed down the A127 now and not notice when you get to Basildon District.
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Well, there is a point and it is this: Basildon District has historically suffered from a lack of cohesion. We have the old communities of Billericay and Wickford that contrast with the much more recently developed Basildon New Town. The differences were exacerbated by previous Labour Council administrations, who treated Billericay and Wickford as cash cows, while ignoring and even ridiculing their concerns. Matters reached a head in the 1990s when many people in both Billericay and Wickford just wanted their areas transferred to another local authority, rather than put up with the hostility of the Labour Council. Today, things are better because of a Conservative administration that treats the whole District fairly, and which has Councillors in the New Town area as well as north of the A127. However, cohesion across the wider community remains an issue. There is also the fact that Basildon New Town is 60 years old. It has grown up, and the more traditional Borough status is a mark of that.
The aim is to try and bring our various communities together and to show that Basildon District as Basildon Borough is firmly grounded local authority that looks after all of its people. Given that, it is not at all surprising that our narrow-minded, tribal local Labour party hated the idea. Even more shamefully, they boycotted the Council meeting where the decision was taken. This is nothing short of childish, and a betrayal of the people who voted Labour, presumably so that their views could be represented. They receive a Councillor's allowance to do a job, and instead they chose to stay at home and watch the telly. Democratic politics is too important to just take your ball home if you don't like the way the match is going. You can at least win the argument, even if you lose the vote.
Sunday, February 21, 2010
As well as criticising us for setting a low level of Council Tax, Labour also didn't like the size of the Council reserves. These really aren't enormous given the size of the projects we undertake and the risks that come with them, but it appears that money cannot appear on a balance sheet without the Labour party wanting to spend it. For example, we took a risk of about £850, 000 in order to fix the lifts and stairs in Basildon Town Centre after the private company involved went bust. As it turned out, we eventually did obtain the funding from another source, but there was no guarantee of that. If we hadn't had reserves then we couldn't have considered it, and so with Labour Basildon would have had a permanent building site in one of its main shopping locations.
Maybe their parents didn't teach them that saving for a rainy day was a good thing.
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Labour has vastly increased the tax burden on the the middle class and giving some people a pittance back is not any kind of compensation. They have changed the criminal justice system so that the police are incentivised to chase generally law-abiding people for fixed penalties over catching actual criminals and they have rigged the education system to try and stop the children of middle class parents getting to university, regardless of their academic achievements. The last really sums up their world-view, and how far it departs from middle class values of aspiration and achievement through hard work and talent. Instead of raising educational standards and creating a system where the most able from any background can succeed, Labour's method links progression to university with parental background, with the middle class losing out of course. No wonder social mobility, for all classes, has collapsed under Labour.
All I can say to Gordon Brown is that I know you don't like the middle class and you know that you don't like the middle class. Let us leave it at that shall we? Until the election at least.