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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

A two-horse race

Nominations are about to close for the leadership of the Liberal Democrats, and no-one else has thrown their hat in to the ring.

It is vital for the Lib Dems that they choose the right leader this time around and Gordon Brown and David Cameron will be watching closely as to what 'bounce' they get in the polls. Politics in the UK is very volatile at the moment and although a general election is an event far in the future, it is essential that all parties perform well in the polls now. This is how New Labour did it in the 1990s. They were consistently ahead in the polls for years.

From the Conservative perspective, Cameron knows he is in the driving seat at the moment. It is essential he stays there.

Poster


Some people just don't have a sense of humour. Take a look at the comments section on Iain Dale's blog in response to this picture.
CLICK on the picture to enlarge

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Backache and the English Parliament

There are times when I just can't be bothered, and tonight is one of those occasions. I attempted to go to work today and lasted for just over an hour. The backache was so bad I had to throw in the towel and go and see my GP. I have been given strong painkillers that are not doing the job they are supposed to, however they are making me very tired. The GP has also given me a sick note for two weeks. Hopefully the rest will get my back sorted along with the exercises he has given me to do.

One final thought for the evening. The debate on the English Grand Committee proposal rages forth and there are some opinions I simply cannot work out. One comment on my blog said that such a committee will result in the break-up of Britain. Why? If you believe that, then surely an English Parliament could have the same effect? Then I hear Britain is being regionalized, but elected Regional Assemblies have proved as popular as a lightening strike. If anyone can enlighten me, then please feel free to comment. Right now I am preparing to pick my darling up from work and then go to bed!

Sana Ali

In May of this year I highlighted the tragic case of Sana Ali. She was a young Muslim women who was sadly murdered. Since then the comments section on this blog has been used as a forum for those who want to discuss the case. I wasn't too bothered at the beginning, but when the comments were getting abusive, I decided to close the comments section. Someone contacted me and asked for the comments section to be opened again. I agreed, but since then my blog has simply been used as a place where unfounded allegations are being peddled by anonymous writers. I have decided to close the comments section for good. This is my final word on the subject, however, may I suggest that someone opens up a forum on, say, Yahoo. I will happily publicise the URL for them and direct them from here to there.

As many of the comments have been abusive and unfounded, I wish to disassociate myself from them. I will leave the comments section open on this post for the next 24 hours for anyone who wants to vent their spleen, however if anyone leaves a comment or contacts me personally with any comments that are of a threatening nature, I will contact the police. I sincerely hope it will never come to that.

English Parliament

After I posted on Sir Malcolm Rifkind's proposal of an English Grand Committee (as opposed to an English Parliament) I received a comment very quickly rubbishing the idea. I said I would write again and give you my views. So, here they are:


Firstly, I think this is a stepping stone towards our ultimate goal of an English Parliament, however we all know this is not going to happen under a Labour government. I was fortunate enough to be sitting in Strangers' Gallery in the House of Commons when the Scottish Devolution Bill was going through Committee Stage back in 1998. I heard Tam Dalyell speak against it. Remember he was the author of the 'West Lothian Question.' You might have thought his collegues would listen to his arguments, but they didn't. I saw at first hand what many of the Scottish Labour MPs were like. Thugs. Not only did they not show any respect to Tam Dalyell, but they barracked former prime minister John Major too. They never listened to any of the arguments from respected parlimentarians, and Tony Blair pushed this ill conceived legislation through parliament knowing the 'West Lothian Question' would not go away.


Mike Ion accuses the Conservative Party of making mischief by calling for an English Grand Committee; playing on Brown's Scottishness. Rubbish! This government has pushed through unpopular measures - such as tuition fees - on the backs of Scottish Labour MPs. They inflicted on the English something which their constituents did not have to put up with. The Conservative Party has consistantly made its position clear, and it has argued against the rights of Scottish MPs to legislate on English matters.

I would like to see a situation where we have a First Minister for England, who appoints a cabinet and other ministers. What I do not want to see is more politicians elected. English MPs can sit in the House of Commons on set dates and the chamber will then be known as the English Parliament.

Those who want an English Parliament should not dismiss Rifkind's proposal outright. Think of it as a stepping stone. At least with a Grand Committee we will have English MPs legislating on English matters. This has to be better than what we have now.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Lewis Hamilton

I remember watching Jeremy Clarkson on the television a few years ago talking about Formula 1 drivers. In every interview any of the racing drivers gave, they never cited the real reason for living in Monaco; tax. They spoke of the climate, the jet-set lifestyle, other drivers being around them, but never spoke about the real reason.

Today Lewis Hamilton has said he going to move to Switzerland. His reasons are because he can't go anywhere in the UK without being recognised. Poor lad. Does he think he is the only famous person who has that problem? A very taxing problem indeed.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Migrant Workers

Norfolk Blogger has a good post about migrant workers. Read it here.

If we do not have the skills already in this country then it is vital for the economy we import labour. I had a very long discussion with Wayne at Central News about this months ago. It will not surprise you to hear that the BNP and I never ended up agreeing.

Blair's Memoirs

Tony Blair has struck a deal for the publication of his memoirs. No doubt this will make him millions of pounds and set him up perfectly to run for President of Europe as and when the time arrives.

I will be interesting though if he goes in to detail about his relationship with Brown. He probably won't and the whole thing will be a damp squib. I imagine he will do he same as Alistair Campbell and gloss over everything. Or maybe Campbell missed them out of his book to pave the way for Blair? We'll just have to wait.

Rifkind proposes an English Parliament

Sir Malcolm Rifkind has suggested that an English Grand Committee should be set up to legislate on purely English matters. As much as I agree with the suggestion, it is hardly an original suggestion. Many of us have been arguing for the same for quite some time. The West Lothian question still hangs in the air and Labour are not going to resolve it. It is in their own self-interest to keep the votes of Scottish MPs to drive through unpopular legislation that will not affect their constituents.

The Leader of he Scottish National Party, Alex Salmond, has also spoke out in favour of an English Parliament. He told Andrew Marr on BBC1 that "I think the right solution is to have a Scottish Parliament and an English Parliament - I believe independent parliaments - and to do the job properly, as opposed to having some sort of spatchcock solution to appeal for votes in middle England."

"I would like to see people in England have the same rights and entitlements as those in Scotland."


He is - of course - absolutely right. He is consistent in his views and does not want something different for England. Brown of course is a different proposition altogether. Disingenuous doesn't begin to tell the story.


Quote from BBC News

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Blogpower Roundup

A reminder to everyone in Blogpower that it will soon be the end of the month and Gracchi has the honour of doing this month's 'Blogpower Roundup.' If there have been any posts that have caught your eye and you think they are worthy of a mention in dispatches, then send the URL to blogpowerroundup@googlemail.com.

Voting Age

At the SNP conference, the party has unanimously voted in favour of lowering the voting age to 16 years. I have a problem with this, although when I was sixteen and was involved in my first election campaign, I would have loved to vote.

The law at the moment is in a muddle. Recently the legal age for buying tobacco was raised to 18 years. So although the law states you are not responsible enough to smoke, it does think you are responsible enough drive a car, have sex and get married - albeit with the latter, you must have your parents' permission.

If you are deemed responsible enough to vote at 16, then surely you are responsible enough to drink alcohol, smoke, have sex, drive a car and get married without your parents' permission? Until this changes - which it will not - the voting age has to stay the same.

Abortion



Since the Abortion Act of 1967, an estimated 6.7 million abortions have taken place in the UK. Anti-abortion campaigners displayed these figures on the Palace of Westminster last night.



This is a very controversial statement, but can you imagine what the population of the UK would be if those terminations had not taken place?


Blogpower

When I announced last Saturday that I would be doing reviews of all Blogpower blogs - which I am still writing - I apologised to Zaftig, as she would be last in my alphabetical round-up. She must have taken this to heart, as I see Ruthie is now on the roll as 'Ruthie Zaftig.' The things people do to get a quicker review from me!

Bush and Clinton

I got this from Will B. Very funny.

Parliamentary Roadshow


Theresa May has launched a new website called Parliamentary Roadshow - bringing parliament to the people. The aim is to go out-and-about, talk to voters, find out what their problems are, and then raise it with the government. It is there to show that politicians care.


I eagerly clicked on 'Yorkshire and the Humber' on the map of the UK to find out when I could meet her. Unfortunately, I am told 'there are currently no visits in this region listed. More are being added all the time, so please check back.' Never mind, I thought, let's see where else she is going to. Nowhere to be precise. The only thing listed is a visit to the West Midlands on October 24.


I don't decry what she is doing, but by going nowhere on your roadshow, you are playing directly in to the hands of the opposition parties who will accuse us of gimmicks. Unfortunately this is exactly what this website is at the moment. We can only hope for more progress soon.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Where was the good samaritan?

There are times when you wonder how low some members if our society can sink. There was a time when if someone collapsed in a street, everyone would would either come to their aid or make sure that someone else had done so, before getting on with their business. Okay, the example I am about to refer to is extreme, but I cannot imagine this happening in years gone by.

Christine Lakinski had a challenging life. She had to endure many medical problems. When she collapsed in a street in Hartlepool you would have thought someone would have come to her aid. No. Instead she had the misfortune to have Anthony Anderson walking nearby. He threw a bucket of water over her, then urinated over her, and then covered her in shaving foam. He also told his two friends that this would make good YouTube material. Unfortunately, this wasn't the end of it.

Was there a good Samaritan, ready to come to her aid. No. A large group surrounded her - after witnessing Anderson's disgusting behaviour - who thought this was highly amusing and the incident was filmed on a mobile phone camera. Christine was declared dead at the scene.

Thankfully Anderson has been sentenced to three years in prison. A magistrate had the good sense to refer this case to crown court so a longer sentence could be imposed and I'm sure the judge would have given him longer of he could.

Words fail me. How can our society sink so low?

A tribute to Speaker 'Jack'

Iain Dale has a tribute to the late Lord 'Jack' Weatherill. Read it here.

The Biased Broadcasting Corporation

We knew this already, but Conservative Home has the proof. There are eleven times more liberals working at the BBC than Conservatives. Read the full report on Conservative Home here.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Indiana Jones - eat your heart out!



Apparently this is the classic movie closest to my personality. You learn something new every day!

Spending watchdog doesn't watch his own expenses very closely

People in glass houses should not throw stones. This is my response to the resignation of Sir John Bourn as Comptroller and Auditor General. He has managed to run up an expenses bill of £365,000 on 43 overseas trips in three years; and he is the public spending watchdog.

What always amazes me when I read stories like this one, is how intelligent people can think they can get away with behaviour like this. All the good work he has done in the past has gone for nothing. He will be remembered as the man who said do as I say, not as I do.

Read the full story here.

Flooding




The flooding in the East Riding of Yorkshire in June was worse than previously estimated. Read the full story here.

Back update

A quick update on my back problem. I went to see my GP this morning and he gave me stronger pain killers that apparently will give me constipation. Don't you just love side effects! I have also been referred to see a physiotherapist - when I don't know.

I have all of this week off work - so at least I do not have to sit in a car all day. Hopefully I will be feeling better to start work next Monday.

Alright... Calm Down Yea?


The thing I find really difficult about politics sometimes is the somewhat one minded behaviour of some people on certain issues. Let’s take abortion for example. We had this week a somewhat frantic Nadine Dorries on her blog accusing the abortion industry of controlling the select committee, setting up again an us versus them mentality which there being no bridge in the middle, just two sides glaring at each other’s somewhat reminiscent of the trenches in world war 1... And look where that got us!

I’d like sometimes for people to step back and emotionally detach themselves from the debate when emotion simply gets in the way. Don’t get me wrong, emotion is awesome, it drives people, it gives people passion, but the reality is that you start gambling with lives when you let your emotions boil over when it comes to issues like abortion.

Why can’t we have a third opinion? Dare I say it, a third way? I constantly accused not supporting life, when in fact I am pro life, while at the same time being pro choice. Thinking ahead, I would find it very hard to abort a child, I don’t know if I could say “yes, it’s alright” unless the mother was in serious danger. But at the same time I don’t want to limit people in their freedom to choose just because I don’t personally agree with abortion. As I’ve said so many times before, it’s about personal choice; the state shouldn’t be deciding if it is moral to do something, the state should be giving you the tools to decide for yourself. In this case the tool is the 1967 abortion act and it is best, I think, that it stays as it is.

Will B

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

What famous leader are you?


I got this from Grendel, via Daily Referendum. It's the first time I have ever been compared to JFK, but I guess it could be worse. Okay, okay; I know I'm trying to convince myself. I wish it had been Churchill

PMQs

Gordon Brown will be glad of the rest from PMQs. The State Opening of Parliament has come at just the right time. Once again he shows how rattled he gets when David Cameron turns up the heat. Cameron on the other hand how cool he is on the big occasion. As the months roll by, the voters will be able to judge for themselves which one they think is the better leader; someone who is easily rattled or someone who is cool in a crisis.

We may have been glad to see the end of Tony Blair, but we all know how he would have reacted to David Cameron during their exchanges in the past three weeks. At the very least, we could have confidence that Blair was a cool head when a cool head was needed. Since the wheels have started to come off the Brown premiership, we no longer have the confidence our new prime minister will react in the same way. Cameron is looking more prime ministerial and his front bench team are looking more like ministers. More of the same please.

I've returned from holiday

We returned home from Scotland this evening. It was a little cold at times and the views weren't always clear, but it didn't rain and the welcome was warm and friendly.

I woke up on Saturday morning with a bad back and thought I must have slept in an awkward way, however I am still suffering and I'm seeing the doctor tomorrow morning. The pain tends to ease on an evening, but I wake up in the morning almost unable to bend or stretch my back at all. Hopefully the doctor will be able to sort something out for me tomorrow as ibuprofen isn't working at all.

Finally, my thanks also goes out to Shades and Welshcakes for their guest posts. It's good to be able to leave my blog alone for a few days and know it is good hands.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Fantasy Government

I have been thinking about political stuff to put up here and today an opportunity presented itself on a plate.

I found out today that a work colleague of mine is a fledgling political blogger. His Blog is called Womble on Tour and he describes himself as a right of centre ex-voter.

He has invented an interesting Meme called Fantasy Government. If you want to check it out and join in, follow the link here and scroll down.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Sicilian Way of Death

Welshcakes Limoncello from Sicily here. Many thanks to Andrew for inviting me to post here during his holiday.



I've been racking my brains for an interesting topic and decided that, as we are coming up to the Sicilian festival of I Morti [2nd November], you might like to know about death in Sicily. It's not a very cheerful subject but I think there is something to be said for the way Sicilians treat it - as truly a part of life: whole families picnic among the graves of their relatives on the Day of the Dead and if children have been good they receive presents which are said to be from their ancestors. No one here grows up being afraid of death and if you have a bereavement you can be certain of not being left to bear it alone and you are not expected to display the "stiff uppper lip".



The following is an edited version of a post to my blog of 1.7.06:



Among the main tourist attractions of Palermo are the grisly Catacombe dei Cappuccini and the most popular feast day here is I Morti on 2nd November. Therefore it should be no surprise that Sicily has numerous death and mourning rituals and these, like the bread, vary from town to town and even village to village. I can only tell you of those I have read about and seen:


It is the tradition to have the body embalmed and brought back to the family home and there it remains, usually in an open coffin, for family and friends to pay their respects prior to the funeral [which takes place fairly quickly after the death. In Britain we have to queue for a slot in the crematorium chapel’s schedule, usually, just as we have queued for everything all our lives; the final indignity!] Family members hold a vigil during this time. Louise Hamilton Caico, writing in 1910, tells us of the women of the house making great outward shows of grief – wailing and screaming which could be heard through the entire village and tearing at their hair - and even, in remote areas, of families paying women to come and cry loudly! Now when a death occurs the notice giving details is put up on a special board outside the church and there is often a notice outside the house or workplace of the deceased, along with one of condolence from the work colleagues of the deceased and / or the bereaved. The front door or main door of a house or block of flats is left open day and night for people to come and sit with the bereaved family and, if you do not know them well, you just go in and offer your condolences, sit with them until the next person or group arrives, and then you can take your leave. The purpose of this, of course, is that the family are not left alone. Here you can talk about death, grieving and the deceased person. [In Britain it is not uncommon for an acquaintance to cross the street rather than have to speak to you if you have had a bereavement; people just do not know what to say.] No one, by the way, takes advantage of the open door to commit a crime; Sicilians have much too much respect for death. Some families leave all the windows open, too, so that the soul can depart easily. I rather like that.
Sometimes the death notice, informing you where you can view the body, will tell you that there is no need to take il conzu. This fascinates me: the conzu are offerings of prepared meals as it used to be considered disrespectful for the family to light the stove or cook during this time. [Caico mentions it.] It still seems to me a sensible custom: disrespect apart, a family may be just too distressed to feed themselves properly during this initial period of shock, disbelief and sorrow.
People do still wear black for up to a year after the death of a close relative. I know Queen Victoria overdid it and that’s probably why we Brits are reluctant to openly show our emotions following a death [Princess Diana apart but there was more to that, psychologically]. On the whole, I’m with the Sicilians: it seems to me entirely appropriate to wear, for a while, some outward symbol that says, “I am grieving”. I think it’s much healthier to acknowledge the terrible thing that has happened to you and your distress- and to make as much noise about it as you need to. Following the death of my mother in 1993 I received more understanding here than I did at home from people who had known me for years.



One last, strange detail: during a visit to the Museo Etnografico here in 1993, I heard a child from an Italian school group mention that the people in the pictures on the wall of a replica of a peasant house must be dead. On asking my Sicilian colleague Marco how the child had come to make that assumption, I learned that it was because the pictures were placed flush against the wall: if the people had been alive, the tops of the frames would have projected out from the wall.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

In a continent (not very) far, far, away...

Guest post from Ian (shades of) Grey



As far as I remember, Andrew is a bit Euro-sceptic. (If you believe in small Government, it is hard to also believe in huge Hyper-Government as well!)

I don't know what he'll make of Captain Euro, but it seems a bit cheesy to me and there is a whiff of indoctrination about it.

You can can find out about Captain Euro (Europe's superhero) and the twelve stars Euro team HERE.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Charles Moore in The Daily Telegraph and au revoir for now

Charles Moore has written an excellent article in the Telegraph today. It really sums up the EU. Read it here.

I'm now preparing to go off on holiday and looking forward to walking along the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond. I will now hand you over to my capable guest authors. I will be back again on Thursday or Friday after returning from Scotland.

Are you a binge drinker?

Don't you just love the health lobby. A friend of mine went to see his GP, and the subject of alcohol came up. He told him he didn't drink at all during the week as he had to be up early in the morning for work, however on a Friday and Saturday he would quite often have a bottle of wine with his dinner. He was accused of binge drinking and told he was no better than those who routinely get themselves plastered on the streets of our town and city centres.

Today we hear that safe drinking limits recommended twenty years ago were 'plucked out of thin air' and were 'no more than an educated guess.' The medical profession felt they had to say something and that's what they did without any real scientific research.

I'm not encouraging anyone to go out and drink to excess, but perhaps the medical profession should concentrate on doing their job properly and try and keep our hospitals clean, rather than trying to frighten people into thinking they are putting their health at risk if they drink a couple of glasses of wine.

Blogpower Reviews 1

A Conservative’s Blog

Benedict White writes that ‘this is my blog to explain why I am a member of the UK’s Conservative Party and my political thoughts.’

Benedict and I think very much along the same lines and indeed looking through many of his posts, we seem to blog about the same things. I like his easy writing style and his analysis of the failings of New Labour is spot on. His blog is easy to navigate and you can easily read his catalogue of previous posts. Benedict lives in Mid Sussex, and his local MP is Winston Churchill’s grandson, Nicholas Soames. He also links to another blog he writes called ‘A Geeks Blog’, although at the time of writing he hasn’t made an entry there since March of this year. Please keep on writing this blog though Benedict. Blogpower is all the better for having you.

A Young Conservative

I first came across William Burstow a few months before he joined us in Blogpower. He describes himself as ‘18, male, proud Briton, Unionist, Conservative, student, football supporter, blogger, singer, music addict, general politico. Also enjoys philosophy.’

Will is a young man with a big future. He is not afraid to go for the jugular and can be equally critical of his own party as he is of Labour and the Liberal Democrats. He hasn’t had the time to blog as much as would like to this year, but when he does it is well worth the wait. He is also going to do the odd guest post for me when I go on holiday this week. If you haven’t done so already, go and check him out.


Adelaide Green Porridge Café

Colin Campbell describes his blog as ‘random musings from Adelaide, South Australia – a nice place to live.’

Colin is a Scot who lives in Adelaide with his Australian partner, his two children, and a vast array of pets. It must be like a zoo in his house! He writes about his family, Australia, and doesn’t forget his native Scotland and must be very happy about the up-turn in the fortunes of the Scottish football team. He has been a member of our co-operative for a long time now, and we all enjoy the glimpses he gives us of life in Australia and makes us jealous too; especially when you look at your car covered in ice, as I did this morning, and think of the warmth and sunshine in South Australia at this time of the year. A fine blog.

Blogpower

For quite some time I have been meaning to write reviews of the other Blogpower blogs. Blogpower hadn't been going very long when I first joined. I was prompted to by Ellee Seymour and I liked the idea immediately. I don't know whether James had realised just how much work he was about to undertake or indeed how popular Blogpower would become. For me it has become a blogging family. Like all families we don't always agree, but we look out for each other and try to plug each others' blogs whenever we can.

I am going to start writing some reviews today and hopefully I will have them all finished inside a month. Hopefully, I will have some ready to be published later today. So I can't be accused of favouritism, I will start my reviews in alphabetical order (sorry Zaftig) and any new blogs that are added during this period, I will review at the end.

Iran

Ali Larijani - Iran's chief negotiator with the west over Iran's nuclear programme - has resigned. This is a significant development. Mr Larijani has always been keen on dialogue with the west; President Ahmadinejad is keener on the hard-line approach.



Earlier this year, I said at the end a video blog that we cannot allow Tehran to have a nuclear capability.
Hear what what I said here.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Alan Coren

I couldn't retire for the evening without commenting on the passing of Alan Coren. One of the wittiest men in Britain. I always enjoyed his column in The Times and loved him on Call My Bluff. A great man.

MPs to have more time off

MPs might have more leisure time this coming year; a total of ninety days off. This is because the government will not have enough legislation to put before parliament.

Not enough legislation? This is novel for Labour, however it sounds like a great idea to me. But why should MPs have more time off? Surely select committees can still hold the executive to account, and surely MPs could have a look at some old, outdated legislation and remove it from the statute book. They could also have a few more set piece debates, holding the executive to account.

We all know that none of these things will happen as Brown & co don't want to be shown up anymore than they are already and the thought of less laws, rules and regulations would get them breaking out into a cold sweat and give them sleepless nights. Giving MPs more time off is a waste of taxpayers money, but the government aren't bothered about wasting that, are they?

A question to Gordon Brown.

I only have one thing to say to Gordon Brown this morning:

If they EU Reform Treaty is as good as you say it is for Britain, then why are you so frightened of a referendum to let the electorate of the UK decide?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

EU Reform Treaty

The leaders of the EU countries are meeting in Lisbon, Portugal. When they discuss the EU treaty, it will not be a surprise at just how many individual agendas will be circulating the room.

Poland wants more power for medium-sized countries. The Czechs want us all to have more powers to reject European Commission proposals. Bulgaria wants the Cyrillic alphabet recognised. Austria doesn't want too many foreign students at its universities. Italy wants more MEPs and they are willing to throw their teddies out of the window if they don't get their way. France isn't really committed to the free market as their economy wouldn't be able to cope. The Dutch and Belgians have steam coming out of their ears because of UK opt-outs. The Germans want credit if it all goes well and the Portuguese want an agreement so they can call it the Treaty of Lisbon.

There is one thing they all agree on though. They know the treaty is worded in such a complex way, that transfers of sovereignty will take place without anyone realising until it is too late. That's what Gordon Brown is hoping anyway. He knows this treaty is designed as a stepping stone towards full European integration. He knows we are going to lose dozens of vetos we enjoy now. He knows the EU is going to legislate and intrude into more areas of our lives. He knows the army of Brussels' bureaucrats have nothing better to do than to come up with skip loads of red tape. He knows the majority of citizens from EU countries want less interference from Brussels, not more. But it's not just Gordon who knows this. Everyone of those leaders tucking away at the finest cuisine Portugal can come up with, knows it too.

The peoples of Europe need to stand up and rid Europe of this tyranny. We have to tell our leaders that they don't know better than we do. We don't want bureaucrats sniffing into more and more aspects of our lives. You've gone much too far already. We have to tell them firmly, enough is enough. A common market of independent, sovereign nations, promoting free trade is good for everyone in Europe; not the bureaucratic, intrusive monster it has become.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Campaign for Fixed Term Parliaments

If, like me, you think the date of the general election should be taken out of the prime minister's hands, then check out the website for 'The Campaign for Fixed Term Parliaments.'

If you are on Facebook, click HERE to join the Facebook group.

New England Rugby shirts

If you fancy popping out to the shops and getting one of the new England Rugby shirts, then save yourself a journey. They've sold out. When the Rugby Football Union placed the order for the replica shirts at the end of last year, England had just been beaten by Argentina. Back then there was more chance of Ming Campbell becoming prime minister than England getting through to a World Cup Final. So I can understand why they underestimated the demand.

I had to laugh though when I read this in 'The Times.'

Some retailers were apprehensive about ordering tight-fitting shirts, because the physique of the average rugby fan is very different from that of the players. Even a moderate beer belly can cause the shirt to rise up, exposing an expanse of pasty flesh.

Brilliant! How carefully worded that was. You can tell I didn't get the quote from 'The Sun.'

Spotlight on Hull

This week Hull was announced as the second worse place to live in Britain. Apparently only Middlesbrough is worse. There is a good article in the Hull Daily Mail today that puts forward the case for the city. Over the past few years a lot of regeneration has gone on and the place is looking much better than it has done. It is not that bad a place to live. Read all about it here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

What does the future hold for Labour, the Conservatives and the Lib Dems?

The past two and a half weeks have been the most politically volatile anyone can remember for a long time. The opinion polls are not to be trusted. They are jumping everywhere and yesterday we saw the first casualty of Brown's 'non-election.'

Now is a good time to pause and think. This is what the Lib Dems will have to do to make sure their new leader is the right one, and this will give them a problem.

When John Major became Foreign Secretary after the departure of Geoffrey Howe, the country said, 'John who?' He was in the cabinet, but the post of Chief Secretary to the Treasury is not a prominent job, but by the time he became Chancellor of the Exchequer a few months later he was a household political name. This gave him the springboard he needed to go for the leadership after Thatcher was pushed out.

Tony Blair was a leading light in the Labour Party long before he became leader. He had made quite a name for himself as Shadow Home Secretary. The electorate - at least those even with a passing interest in politics - knew who he was.

The same can also be said for Ming Campbell. We should not forget his performances in the House of Commons as Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs Spokesman. He has a fine grasp of world affairs and he made a name for himself before, during and after the invasion of Iraq.

When it comes to Chris Huhne and Nick Clegg, the same cannot be said of them. They are known to people who are actively involved in politics; but not to the public at large. If you are not well known, you have to be a natural leader, good at getting your point of view across. You have to be able to command a stage. David Cameron wasn't really known when he became leader of the Conservative Party, but he is proving himself to be strong, cool under fire and has built a very strong team around him who look and sound like ministers; not shadows.

The future of the Liberal Democrats relies on either Huhne or Clegg doing a Cameron. From what I have seen, I don't think they have it in them. They are both ambitious - which is not a sin - but they don't stand out from the crowd. For the first time in over ten years the government has real opposition from the Conservative Party. Gordon Brown is right to be worried. What goes through his mind when he looks at his ministers and how they perform, and then looks across at the opposition front bench? Brown has to shoulder the responsibility though.

If he had allowed his ministers more than a few minutes to speak at the party conference, instead of pouring all the attention on his very dull speech, one or two of them may have shone. He didn't and they didn't which gave George Osborne, Liam Fox, David Davis, et al, a head start. And they took advantage of this with devastating effect. It was a coming of age for many of the Conservative front bench team and the public can also see that David Cameron isn't threatened by the talent he has around him; unlike Gordon Brown, who would rather be surrounded by 'yes' men. You can see this by his choice of Chancellor of the Exchequer and how he performed last week. We know who is in charge at the Treasury and his name isn't Alistair Darling.

When all the dust settles and the Lib Dems have their new leader, we will see three party leaders who will lead their respective parties into a general election. David Cameron and his team are the strongest now and I can't envisage that changing. Gordon Brown's dithering has cost him dearly and judging by his body language of late, he knows it better than anyone.

Guest bloggers

Thanks to those of you who answered my call to be guest bloggers for me when I am on holiday. Ian Grey, Matt Wardman, Will B, and Welshcakes will be doing the hard work while I put my feet up from next Sunday-Thursday. Many thanks again.

EU Reform Treaty


Gisela Stuart - whoever she is, although apparently she is a former minister - has had a go a Gordon Brown. She has said his refusal to hold a referendum on the EU reform treaty was "patently dishonest."


Good on you, Gisela. It's good to see someone that used to love the lies and spin having a Damescene moment and realising that you can tell the truth in politics. I can't see it working with her leader though. A life without lies and spin would make Gordon Brown even more miserable than he is now.

Lib Dems

Some commentators have expressed surprise - although I don't think it is genuine - that the Lib Dems have acted in the way they did. Anyone who has had to square up to the Lib Dems in local elections knows exactly what they are like. They will say anything and do anything to get elected and if a minor inconvenience like the truth gets in the way, that can easily be taken care of.

On a wider point, when Simon Hughes and Vince Cable came out on the steps of Lib Dem HQ, looking like undertakers without the tape measure, and spoke such kind words about Ming Campbell, how do you think this goes down with the electorate? No-one believed them. We all knew what they were saying was false. It was a pack of lies. Politics has once again be devalued by politicians who wouldn't know the truth if it jumped up and bit them on the b******s. The Lib Dems now have to pick the right leader. From a Tory perspective, I hope its Chris Huhne, rather than Nick Clegg, but you would expect me to say that, wouldn't you?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Ming must have been knifed

Listening to the long line of Lib Dem MPs praising Ming Campbell, I now realise that he has been knifed. Brilliant leader, great statesman, etc. This is a particularly brutal departure. Why couldn't he have had a swansong on Wednesday at PMQs? I can hardly imagine Vince Cable - the acting leader - being scintillating this week. If he was so brilliant, then why not give him his last hurrah?

Ming Campbell is too nice to be a party leader. He is too much of a gentleman. He doesn't have a cutting edge; an ability to go for the jugular. His departure will worry the Conservatives and Labour, as a resurgent Liberal Democrat Party will take away support from both the main parties. The Tories in the East Riding of Yorkshire pummeled the Lib Dems at the local elections last May, and I think that in local government, the Conservatives have gone about as far as they can. With such a high number of councils and councillors, we must be reaching or have reached the ceiling.

The one thing that is not in question is that the Lib Dems fortunes cannot get any worse than they are now. The only way is up. The local elections next May will be the acid test for the new leader - whoever he will be.

Ming Campbell to resign.

Sky News is reporting that Sir Menzies Campbell is about to resign as leader of the Liberal Democrats.

This is not a surprise. It had to come - and this should see a bounce in the fortune of the LibDems. By what I can gather he seems to have been forced out.

More news when I hear it. A formal announcement is due at 6.30pm.

Drink UHT milk and save the planet

According to The Times today, we will soon be urged to start using UHT milk. The reason for this latest fad? It's because we will be saving the planet by not refrigerating normal, pasteurised milk. If we all change over, greenhouse gas emissions will fall, and that is good for all of us.

My response: Have you ever tasted the stuff? Vile doesn't begin to describe it for me. It will mean less refrigeration units in shops, but there's no way I'm pouring that stuff on my cornflakes.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Visions of Bradford - my reply

I was looking through some blogs yesterday and discovered a reference to me in the 'Visions of Bradford blog.' He was referring to a post of mine from July this year. This is what he had to say:

'Another rather conservative blog, not bad enough to frighten the liberals but it does have one glaring example to demonstrate the woeful state of the education sytem "None of my neighbours or myself were told by the builders we were buying houses on a flood plain and built on marsh land". Errr hold on a minute there look at yer local river and work out whether you are more than a couple of metres above the water-level and it's obvious. Relying on someone to tell you something so darn obvious smacks too much of the nanny-state for a real conservative to me. Now I only did O-level geography but it was enough to teach me enough about flood plains to recognise one when I walk on it and if I remember correctly this topic was covered in the compulsory years. Poor old chap must be the product of a secondary modern.'

This was my reply to him:

'I hadn't realised you had a go about me back in July. Where I live is much higher than two metres above the River Hull. The flooding was caused because the water table across the city got dangerously high and the main pump in the pumping station failed at the critical moment. The water then came through the floor. There are places in Hull that flooded, where flooding has never been seen before. Before you start publishing petty insults, get your facts straight.'

Upon reflection, I think my response might have been a little hasty, and giving him the benefit of the doubt, I would like to inform everyone about where I live and exactly what happened on June 25 this year.

Anyone who knows the city, will know the River Hull is hardly the River Thames. It is a small river that now - thanks to the flood defences in Hull - seldom floods. When it does flood, the flooding is so small, there aren't any businesses or homes affected. My home is over a mile away from the River Hull and it certainly a good deal higher than two metres. The problem on June 25 was that hundreds of properties were built on marsh land. The rain started in the early hours, and by the time I was up and about at around 8.30am, the signs of flooding were beginning to show. The rain was heavy and prolonged and lasted in excess of twelve hours. I certainly have never seen rain like it. As the water table began to rise throughout the city, more and more areas flooded. As it rose to a critical level where I live, the main pump at the local pumping station broke down. It caused the water level to rise very quickly in the space of an hour.

So, Visions of Bradford, it was not because I lived on a flood plain that caused flooding and if you come and see how many properties have been built over the years, without being flooded, then you will see why the majority of people didn't think they were at risk. The problem was marsh land, which we were not informed about. And if the pump had kept on working, I and many others would not have been flooded.

Perhaps the author of the 'Visions of Bradford' blog is intellectually superior to me. Perhaps he is intellectually superior to everyone else in 'Blogpower'. It is not for me to say, however there are two points I wish to make.

Firstly, there are two ways you can use your intellect. You can use it to help others, to inform and to educate. Or you can use it like a stick, to come down on others to show them what a brilliant mind you have. Those in the latter group - in my experience - are seldom as brilliant as they would have you believe.

Secondly, in 'Blogpower' we are there to help each other, to make the odd comment on each others' blogs. We publicise stories on each others' blogs. What we do not do is insult each other from the sideline, like a second or third rate commentator trying to make a name from themselves.

'Visions of Bradford' is entitled to his opinions, just as much as the rest of us, however, which category do you think he falls into?

Come on England


Congratulations to the England Rugby team on their great victory against France last night. They are through to the final against all the odds. Here's hoping we can retain our crown.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Magpies

'You turn if you want to. The lady's not for turning.'

I don't think anyone involved in politics needs to be reminded that it was Margaret Thatcher who spoke those immortal words. Unfortunately - or fortunately depending on your point of view - 'U' turns seem to be the order of the day for the government at the moment. The latest is on tax relief for married couples. Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Andy Burnham, says, "It's not wrong that the tax system should recognise commitment and marriage."

Shadow Chancellor George Osborne said: "For two years, David Cameron has been making the case for recognising marriage in the tax system and Gordon Brown has been attacking him for it.
"Now one of his minions appears to say we are right.
"This is further confirmation that we are in command of the agenda in British politics and the government doesn't know whether it is coming or going."

You can understand why the Conservative Party will be reluctant to spill the beans on their tax plans in the near future. I hear the cabinet are going on a works outing this evening to Covent Garden. I understand they are watching the Royal Opera perform Rossini's, 'The Thieving Magpie.'

Qutoes via BBC News

Gordon Brown and his missing socks


Steve Green over at Daily Referendum has THIS story about Gordon Brown's socks.

Taunt them. Humiliate them, Kick them.

They are the words of Matthew Parris, who is once again at his best in The Times today. I agree wholeheartedly with him. The Conservative Party has to go for the jugular now. It has to expose the New Labour myth and show the electorate what a weak prime minister we have. We have to expose Labour as the control freaks they are. We have to expose them as the PR men in expensive suits that they are.

The Conservatives have the initiative now. We cannot take our foot off the gas. To do so would mean us missing the best opportunity we have had to prove ourselves as a party of government since the general election of 1992.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Housekeeping

If anyone links me on their blog and I do not have a reciprocal link back again, then please e-mail me: andrewallisonuk@aol.com.

Lessons to be learned in the NHS

When the NHS was in its infancy, some surgical procedures that are commonplace and routine now, were impossible. Even in the past few years, keyhole surgery has revolutionised the way some operations are conducted. Medical science has moved on leaps and bounds. Unfortunately, cleanliness and hygiene has moved on leaps and bounds, but in the opposite direction.


When Matron was in charge, she would do the rounds of the wards, rubbing her hand over surfaces, and woe betide anyone who was found wanting. Our hospitals may have looked primitive compared to the hospitals that are built today, but cleanliness was the main priority. And it should be today, however as the news from Maidstone reveals, government targets were the priority. As long as the trust is looking good on the league tables, all is well. Tell that to the families of those who have lost loved ones because wards were dirty, nurses didn't wash their hands properly and didn't wear gloves.


There was a time when nurses proudly scrubbed their ward; now you have a cleaning company paying the minimum wage, with staff who use the cheapest cleaning products the contractor can get their hands on and if the nurses get time, they will thoroughly disinfect a bed in between patients. The prime minister announced a few weeks ago that all our hospitals will be cleaned from top to bottom. It is a sad reflection on the NHS that this has to happen. Cleaning should be done thoroughly and regularly. Hopefully the lessons will have been learned, but I won't hold my breath.

Fixed-term parliaments

Labour's Deputy Leader, Harriet Harman, would like MPs to have the final say over the date of a general election. She went on to say she could see the attraction of fixed term parliaments, but there had to be some flexibility to take in to account events like the 2001 foot and mouth outbreak.

To take her up on the first point, if MPs have a final say they will make a decision on what is best for them; not the country, very much as it is now. How this will further democracy? It won't.

Moving on to the second point; if the USA managed to hold a Presidential Election during WW2, then I can't see how an outbreak of foot and mouth disease is going to make much difference. I'm sure the civil service will have everything under control. Sir Humphrey would be very proud of them.

I find her remarks typical of this government. When there is a chance of being bold and furthering democracy and liberty, they just don't want to know anything about it. New Labour. New leader. Same anti-libertarians. Same old tricks


Link: BBC News

Sign the petition

During Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday, Gordon Brown said that only 26 people had signed up to the petition urging him to hold a general election in 2007. As I write, the figure is currently 9309. If you wish to sign the petition HERE is the link. I know he won't pay any attention to it, but it will interesting to see how many signatures it gets.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Hull CIty Council fined £50,000

When the government set local authorities targets for recycling rubbish and imposed penalties for those authorities who failed to meet those targets, I thought this might just be a way of the Treasury raising a few extra million quid. Perhaps I am cynical, but ten years of Labour in power has made me that way. Others will say it is important to recycle and there has to be incentives for local authorities to do their bit. I would agree with that too, but every incentive this government puts forward usually means the sounding of tills in the Treasury.

Whichever way you think, you may be surprised to hear that Hull City Council is going to be fined £50,000 for dumping an extra 2000 tonnes of rubbish. This works out at £24 a tonne. Where did this extra rubbish come from? Well, I contributed about 8 tonnes of it when I disposed of my flood damaged furniture in to a skip and because thousands of other householders did exactly the same, the council were overwhelmed with sewage ridden rubbish. What else could they do?

The East Riding of Yorkshire Council are also facing similar penalties. Hull has three Labour MPs. I imagine they will be silent on this issue and toe the party line. No changes there then!

Jacqui Smith

Home Secretary - Jacqui Smith - has told journalists who are obsessed with her clothes and cleavage, to get over themselves. She does have a point. Read the story here.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Cameron on top form


A rattled looking Gordon Brown left the House of Commons today after a blistering attack by David Cameron and Conservative MPs. He is still trying to con us all into thinking he didn't call an election because he puts his country first; not because the polls told him he couldn't win. Alistair Darling is trying to lie by saying he hasn't stolen Tory policies.


They and the rest of the government think they can get away with it. Pull the other one. New Labour. New lies.
Picture: PA

Pre-Budget Report

After Gordon Brown's last budget on March 21 I wrote THIS. After Alistair Darling's pre-budget report yesterday, all I can say is nothing has changed. After listening to the report you have to delve through all the facts and figures and try and work out what he has actually said. The devil is in the detail.

Basically, if you own a small business, you are going to get clobbered. Small businesses and entrepreneurs are the backbone of the British economy and this government sees them as fair game.

If you are a married couple your joint inheritance tax allowance will go up to £600, 000. If you already have a lawyer or an accountant, you and your partner can split your estate and claim that today.

At our conference last week, the Conservatives proposed simple, easy to understand, tax reforms. Alistair Darling took some of our ideas, added to them, and in true 'New Labour' style complicated them and then tried to hide tax increases in mountains of hyperbole.

What Darling and his mentor still don't realise is the electorate are sick and tired of being lied to. They are fed up with the spin. They are fed up with tax increases being presented as tax reductions. They are beginning to realise that Brown's tenure at Number 11 Downing Street was not as fantastic as he makes out it is. After nearly 15 years of uninterrupted economic growth, why are we still borrowing so much? Where has the money gone?

Gordon Brown had a very good start to his premiership. In just a few days all of this has unravelled. We have them on the ropes now. Roll on the next Conservative government.

Budget quotes of the day

Gotta pick a policy or two - The Sun

The Magpie Budget - The Times

Who needs elections if the Labour Party copies Tory policies within a week? - Anatole Kaletsky, The Times

Another victory for the Daily Express. Now we force Brown to cut death tax - More delusion from the Daily Express

This was Mr Darling’s first budget. He may have been playing the Artful Dodger.
But he had Fagin sitting right behind him. -
The Sun

Postal strike

On my travels this morning I saw a postwoman delivering mail for the first time since last week. She was weighed down with the backlog of letters and small parcels. This afternoon I received a parcel from Amazon. Normally it is delivered by Royal Mail, but instead was sent by ParcelNet.

How has this strike helped the postal workers? Well, they have lost a few days' pay, have a large backlog to clear and the Royal Mail has lost millions of pounds in revenue as companies find alternative couriers. Now the postal workers' jobs are more in threat. Will they ever learn?

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

MPs to queue barge

Click HERE to read a story over at Iain Dale's blog, proving that some MPs really do think they are the most important people to ever walk the streets of Westminster.

A week is a long time in politics

A week is a long time in politics. Just over a week ago the Conservative Party looked dead and buried. We were well behind in every opinion poll and it looked like Gordon Brown would call a snap general election and increase the Labour majority.

Since then George Osborne announced very popular tax measures. The Conservative front bench spokesmen all gave good speeches attacking government policies. Liam Fox gave a blistering attack on Gordon Brown's visit to Basra when he used out troops as political footballs. David Cameron gave the speech of his life. The Conservatives enjoyed a poll lead in marginal constituencies and then Brown calls off the election. Then today the Chancellor of the Exchequer passes off Conservative policies as his own.

Yes, all of this has happened in just over a week and today the Conservative Party is once again seen as a party of government. Our polices have proven popular and we have the government on the back foot. When asked by a reporter yesterday whether he would have called an election if the polls had predicted a Labour 100-seat majority, he said no. He is either so deluded that he really believes his own spin, or he thinks he can lie his way out of anything and everything.

The Conservative Party needs to keep on going the way it has been for the past week. The Liberal Democrats need a new leader. If Ming Campbell remains in his job they will soon be polling in single figures. In the south of England this meltdown is likely to benefit the Tories and in the north, Labour. This could make the results in marginal constituencies very interesting, but we are going to have to wait at least another 18 months for a general election and LibDem fortunes may - and probably will - improve by then.

I have been critical of David Cameron of late. I have said on my blog I feel duped by him. After his performance last week and the revival of - what I would call - traditional Tory policies, I now feel reassured we are getting back on track and preparing for government. Gordon Brown dithered for too long and missed his opportunity to get another five years. We have to capitalise on that as if our lives depend on it, otherwise we will be out of government for the best part of twenty years.

Look out! There's a thief about.

I'm sure Alistair Darling understands the word 'plagiarism.' If he had plagiarised another student's work whilst at university, he would have been kicked out. What a pity the same rules don't apply to Ministers of the Crown.

The Chancellor stood at the dispatch box and grinned, as did the rest of the Labour front bench, as he stole Conservative policies on NonDoms, air travel tax and inheritance tax. He may have changed a few things around, but they were essentially our policies announced at our conference last week.


George Osborne summed it up for me. He told Darling the election should have been called so a Conservative government could have enacted his new policies. This government knows no shame. They will pass anything off as their own without any shame. They must think the electorate were born yesterday and they do this at their peril.

My new look blog

Welcome to my new look blog. I was getting tired of my old template and wanted to brighten it up and add another sidebar. My thanks go to Martine Martin who has done all the hard work, as HTML is a foreign language to me. Next time I am in London Martine, I'll shout you lunch!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Would anyone like to do some guest blogging?

I shall be on holiday from 21-25 October. I already have two fellow bloggers who will do some guest posting for me. If anyone else would like to do the same, then please contact me.

Action in needed in Burma and Zimbabwe

An article from The Times today tells of how the military junta in Burma is attempting to seize UN computers containing information on opposition activists.

If China wants to be accepted in the world community and make its opinions count, they have to take action in Burma. We in the west can try and exert pressure, but China has the biggest influence of the lot. The same goes for Zimbabwe. South Africa has to start exerting its influence in a much stronger way when dealing with the odious dictator Robert Mugabe. There are too many countries in the world who take pot shots at Britain and the United States, but sit back and do nothing themselves. In both Burma and Zimbabwe, now is the time for action.

Prescott for PM?

One of the squaddies I am teaching today told me he had visited Hull Fair. I told him I had seen John Prescott when I was there. I mentioned that he no longer has police protection. He was surprised he had lost his protection as he was the prime minister. He then thought again and said, 'Oh no. Gordon Brown's the Prime Minister isn't he.' Bless him. He got there in the end.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

A great day for English Rugby

My mind has been so much on Gordon Brown and the non-election that I have forgotton to congratulate the England Rugby Team on their fantastic victory over the 'old enemy.' I didn't think they would do it, but thankfully I was wrong. Good on you fellas and the best of luck in semi-finals.

Brown is not a leader

Not long after Labour came to power in 1997, I was talking to a friend of mine about Gordon Brown. We were discussing leadership and what makes a good leader. Who has what it takes and who doesn't. We both agreed Brown does not have what it takes.

Winston Churchill, FDR, Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan. They were leaders. You may have not agreed with them all, but they had a quality about them and none of them were frightened of making tough decisions.

Gordon Brown's legacy as Chancellor of the Exchequer was one of him disappearing every time the government made a difficult or unpopular decision. He left other colleagues to take the flack from the media. He wasn't around for a regular grilling from Humphries and Paxman. He may as well have put a sign on his office door saying, "Gone Fishing.'

During the past few weeks we have seen Brown, the Prime Minister, displaying the same traits. I have said for a long time that Brown would avoid really difficult decisions when he got to Number 10. Yesterday was the culmination of Brown the ditherer. He could have called an election for September. He didn't. He could have told the media that he was not going to call a general election. He didn't. He could take the blame for all the speculation about an imminent election. He doesn't. He prefers to blame others in his electoral team like Douglas Alexander. The man doesn't have any guts to make tough decisions. In a crisis this country will be without the leadership it needs.

Cast your eyes over the four leaders I mentioned in the second paragraph. Would they have behaved in such a toothless way? Yes, I am a Tory and you would expect me to say this, however I think it is a fair assessment of the man we unfortunately have as our Prime Minister for a least another year and a half.

Hull Fair

We all went to Hull Fair last. Hull Fair comes to the city for a week each October and it is the largest travelling fair in Europe. We had a great time, even though I don't like these rides that throw you everywhere. I went on the more sedate ones, although I still managed to wake up with back ache this morning.

We also saw John and Pauline Prescott. JP was walking about five paces ahead of his wife, munching on something. She was following, eating, and wearing dark glasses, even though it was already dark. She looked likes one of those film stars trying to protect her anonymity. Both of them looked as miserable as you possibly could. Perhaps he was thinking he was about to retire in a about a month, and now realises he has to stay in Westminster for another year or so.

We are shortly going off to but some new furniture, as it looks like we might be back home for Christmas; so no blogging this afternoon, however I will be back at some point later to look over the day's events.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Join my new Facebook group

I have just set up a new Facebook group called, Gordon Brown's a bottler. If you are a member, then please feel free to join. We really have to keep up the pressure on Brown. He has talked up a general election and then when he realises he cannot win, he bottles it by saying he wants to push through his vision of Britain. What a load of rubbish! The man wouldn't know the truth if it jumped up and bit him.

Portillo and Benn's comments

Michael Portillo is on Sky News at the moment. He has been saying - with a smile on his face - that Brown will never be trusted again by the media. He has been trying to portray the image of 'spin free' Downing Street, when we all know the opposite is true.

Portillo also said he has never seen such electoral volatility. The Conservatives went in to their conference 11 points behind Labour and less than a week later they are up 6 points. I am pleased to see the Conservative Party getting back on track. There is now a real chance of us forming the next government - whenever the election will be.

Tony Benn was also on Sky News. He commented on the disgrace of the Prime Minister being able to fix the date of a general election. 'Even George Bush can't do that', he said. He is, of course, right and it's about time we had fixed-term parliaments.

Tories 6 points up in marginal seats

The ICM/News of the World poll due to be published tomorrow has the Conservatives on 44% and Labour on 38% in key marginal constituencies. This would translate in to a hung parliament. The Home Secretary would have been one of the likely fifty Labour MPs to lose their seats if Brown had called an election.

This poll was taken across 83 marginal seats.

Gordon Brown - my thoughts

Whichever way you look at this, Gordon Brown has made a hash of things lately. The announcement in Basra that 100,000 British troops will be home by Christmas was seen by everyone for what it is. Blatant electioneering. The British people do not like their troops being used as a political football. No matter how much ministers tried to wriggle out of it, they knew this was a big clanger.

If he hadn't stopped dithering and called an election earlier, he would no doubt have won. He would not have given the Conservative Party the opportunity to have such a good conference. George Osborne would not have been able to - in the way he did to the party faithful - announce his inheritance tax and stamp duty proposals. This was important as the nation's media was focused on the Conservative Party. During an election campaign all of the parties are competing for air space and column inches. A party conference gives you a unique opportunity to get your message across. David Cameron would not have been able to give his excellent speech. The electorate would not have witnessed what a great off the cuff speaker he is.

Our Prime Minister is incapable of making tough decisions. When the going gets tough, Gordon Brown get going in reverse. He hides. He tries to blame everyone else for his problems, even though we all know he is an autocrat who wants to control anything and everything he can. To say his honeymoon period is now over is an understatement. The electorate can now see in glorious technicolour what a weak, pathetic, cynical, double-dealing Prime Minister they have. Opposition parties now have to keep turning the screw. We can really damage Brown and he deserves everything he gets.

Brown will not go to the polls.

I'm just watching Sky News at the moment. Sources are saying Brown is going to rule out an early election. An announcement is expected at any point this afternoon. Adam Boulton - Sky's political editor - said phone calls are not being answered at Downing Street and that polling from marginal constituencies does not make good reading.

So, Brown looks like he is going to bottle it, and face the ridicule from the opposition parties that he is a weak leader who goes to ground anytime there is a crisis. He used to go to ground when he was Chancellor and now he is Prime Minister he is living proof that you can't teach an old dog new tricks.

UPDATE: 16.08. I have just read a post on Iain Dale's blog. Apparently polling from marginal constituencies showed a significant Tory lead.

UPDATE: 16.16. It looks like Brown is going to say the main reason for not going to the polls is that the electoral registers are not up-to-date and that could disenfranchise around a million people. He is also likely to blame his electoral team, headed by Douglas Alexander, for not telling him about the registration problems. I can't see that excuse working.

Stick it to Hillary

When it comes to negative campaigning, nowhere in the world does it better than the USA. Here is a story of how opponents of Hillary Clinton (and let's be honest, there are many of them) are getting stuck in to the former first lady.

As much as I can't stand Gordon Brown and his cronies, I do draw the line at purchasing a voodoo doll of the prime minister. I've got better things to spend my money on!

More broken promises from Brown

If anyone can cast their minds back to 1999, you may remember Gordon Brown, Chancellor of the Exchequer, promised in a pre-budget report that any real term rises in road fuel duties will go straight to a ring-fenced fund for the modernisation of roads and public transport.

Is it any surprise that not one single penny has been transfered to this fund? Is it any surprise that such a fund doesn't actually exist? Is it any surprise to hear that Gordon Brown has misled us? Of course not, but will the electorate boot him out?

Brown's big weekend

When I checked my e-mails this morning, a snippet of news flashed up on the screen. 'Brown is facing the most difficult decision of his political career this weekend.' Deciding when to hold a general election is always going to be a tough one for any incumbent prime minister, however Brown has brought this on himself. He could have ruled out the prospect of a snap poll; he didn't, instead allowing his advisers to fuel the speculation. I think he will go for November - not because it's the best choice, but because he has boxed himself in to a corner. If he doesn't call an election he will be seen a weak. He will be seen as a prime minister who was afraid of asking the people what they want.

There is speculation in 'The Times' this morning that Brown will not take the plunge as the Conservative pledge to raise the Inheritance Tax threshold to £1m has proven very popular with the electorate. This policy is the main reason for the Cameron bounce. 'The Times' also reports election officers have warned ministers that a postal strike could skew the election results in marginal seats if a poll is held this month. They presume - and it is a fair assessment - the Communication Workers Union will step up their series of strikes to maximise disruption to the election. My response is to tell the government to start banging some heads together. This is the postal network of the UK. It should not and cannot be held hostage to the unions.

So we will have to wait for Tuesday for the announcement. It will be either November 1 or 8. Brown really has no option now.

Friday, October 05, 2007

A new blogger

My future mother-in-law has got the blogging bug and has started off one of her own. I don't think she really knows what she is going to blog about - but did any of us when we first started? Check it out here. She has just completed her first post.

Post Office Closures Update

Further to my recent article on Post Office closures, here is some more news from Hull and the East Riding.

You can also e-mail consultation@postoffice.co.uk/networkchange and lodge a complaint. We all need to fight to keep our post offices open. If Labour have their way, there won't be any local post offices left.

I have a dry house.

I have very good news. This lunchtime I was told my house is at last dry after the floods at the end of June. Hip-hip hooray! All that I need to do now is get the kitchen ripped out, the floors re-screeding, a new kitchen put in, redecorated, new carpets and new furniture. I know there is still a lot to do, but today at least I know I can begin to get tradesmen around and get the work started.

The Cameron Factor?

A Times poll taken after David Cameron's speech on Wednesday show the gap between Labour and the Conservatives is cut to three points. I cannot get excited about this. If a poll is taken in a week's time, it will probably show Brown bouncing back. Only one poll matters, and that's when the electorate decide, not a sample of 803

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Wise words from Ken Livingstone

No, I haven't gone mad. Even King Newt can come up with something sensible. Talking about the prospsect of a November general election, he said

'To try to persuade people to come out at half past nine on a wet and windy, dark November - I think it's dreadful.'

He does have a point. I'm typing this at half past nine on a cold, dark night in October. God knows what the weather will be like in November. Still, it's up to Gordon to make his mind up this weekend and put us all out of our misery. It can't come quickly enough.

Benn for Kensington

Tony Benn wants to stand for parliament again and at 82, he doesn't think his age is a problem. He wants to be the Labour Party candidate for the seat of Kensington and has written to the constituency asking to be considered.

I don't know what to make of this. One part of me says at 82 he should continue with his feet up, and another tells me why not? Tony Benn and I couldn't be more apart when it comes to politics. He stands for just about everything I don't, but I do respect him. He is honest in his views and he is consistent. He doesn't change his mind to suit public opinion. He doesn't care about public opinion and never really has. He is the antithesis of New Labour. I'm sure he doesn't want to sit on the backbenches with most of that lot, but he misses parliament. It's where he spent fifty years of his life.

So go on Tony. You have nothing to lose and if you do get elected Malcolm Rifkind will just have to take a seat in the Lords, which is where he should have been years ago anyway.

More postal strikes

Postal workers may fear they may lose their jobs, however in today's marketplace they will just have to get used to competition like everyone else in the private sector. The series of strikes taking place at the moment will mean that many of us will not get any mail for a week and after that there will be delays. Furthermore, by striking many businesses will take their business to competitors of the Royal Mail and in turn make the jobs of postal workers more precarious.

Unions have to realise that we are not back in the 1970s. We no longer have a raft of publicly owned industries. Beer and sandwiches at No. 10 Downing Street are a thing of the past. We live in a global market place where both businesses and residential customers have choices. Hopefully this dispute will be settled soon. We cannot have the country's postal network crippled.

What does your blog mean to you?

Becky said to me a couple of weeks ago that I prefer to cuddle my blog in a morning, rather than her. This is of course not true. She always get a cuddle, but I know what she means. After doing my ablutions, getting dressed and making some tea, the next thing I do is switch on the laptop and check if there have been any comments left overnight.

Tom Paine wrote an entry recently on what his blog means to him. Read it here. It sums up my thoughts too.

Where does the Tory Party go from here?

On the whole, David Cameron's speech has had a good reception with the media. Peter Riddell in 'The Times' summed it up for me.

He said, 'The Tories have made a start and have reacted rapidly to the challenge of an early election. But they are primarily engaged in damage limitation for themselves and a spoiling operation for Labour. They are not yet really preparing for government.'

And unfortunately this is a true and fair analysis of where the Conservative Party is at the moment. I think if we can reduce the Labour majority, then we can call the election a success. Anything better than that, a triumph. We do not have the necessary support base to springboard us to an election victory, however we can weaken Brown. If he goes to the polls this early and then doesn't get a strong mandate, the gamble will not have paid off. We can then keep chipping away at his authority. They are the realities of life and we have to make as good a hand as we can from the cards that have been dealt.

Guest blogging

Over the next week I am doing some guest blogging across at Sicily Scene. It's a wonderful blog and a few fellow bloggers are keeping it going whilst the author - WelshcakesLimoncello - is on holiday. Go and check it out!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

I still haven't seen Cameron's speech!

I was hoping to watch David Cameron's speech on BBC Parliament tonight as they have recorded coverage from the conference all night. Life is never that simple, is it? They have recorded coverage from yesterday. About as much use as an ashtray on a motorbike! I have tried reading the text of the speech, but somehow speeches don't seem the same when you are reading them. They are to be listened to. Maybe - if I am really lucky - I may catch it tomorrow as my eyes are closing trying to read it.

Do you think David Cameron is a hottie?

During his speech today, David Cameron spoke about the Internet transforming peoples lives. He said:

There is a network on Facebook called 'David Cameron is a hottie'. It's got 74 members. And I looked a little further and there is another network called 'Am I the only person who doesn't like David Cameron?' and it's got 379 members.

At least those 379 are honest and not stabbing him in the back. Every cloud has a silver lining.

Yet more post office closures

It was announced yesterday there would be yet more post office closures. The East Riding of Yorkshire is facing the prospect of having eleven closures and two post offices will run reduced hours.

Post Offices are vital for the communities they serve. In Hull, there are plans to close five post offices, which will mean a trip in to the city centre if you want access those services that were previously close by. Hull is just like any other city. Trying to get in, park your car and then get out again, can be tiresome to say the least. If you don't want to drive, or can't afford the bus, you will have to walk anywhere between 20-30 minutes.

This is the legacy of New Labour. Storing up billions of pounds worth of debt for future generations, closing vital NHS facilities and closing local post offices. If there is an election in a few weeks' time, this is the message we Conservatives need to get across.

It is interesting to note if you read here, that there isn't a single Labour MP speaking out for their constituents and fighting post office closures. Speaks volumes for them, doesn't it?

David Cameron's Speech

I had to work while David Cameron gave his speech, but by what I have read, it has gone down well with the media and with the party alike. No autocue and no notes. A speech straight from the heart. Once I have had chance to watch it later this evening I will make some comments.

I must say one thing though. I do feel much more upbeat after this conference. All the shadow cabinet members upped their game and gave some great speeches. It was as if their life depended on it and to a certain degree, their political lives did depend on it. All we can hope is that some of the good news from this conference will filter its way in to the homes of the electorate. There was a time when party conferences were broadcast on terrestrial television. Now that it has been relegated to BBC Parliament, it is far too easy for the electorate to forget there was a conference going on in the first place.

More later.

Driving in Beverley

I saw a sticker in the back of a car in Beverley this morning which said, 'Sod the EU. Retain Sovereignty.' We have very direct Tories in this part of the East Riding.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Smoking and driving

Yesterday the legal age for buying tobacco went up from 16 to 18. While many will welcome this as an attempt to discourage children from smoking, it leaves a problem for those who could previously buy cigarettes legally on Sunday, but now risk a criminal record by buying them on Monday. You can legally have sex, and marry with your parents' permission at 16. You can go out to work and pay your taxes when you are 16. You are are deemed responsible enough to drive a car at 17. I suppose us smokers are the biggest outcasts at the moment, and everyone wants to have a 'pop' at us, and smoking seems to cause every disease under the sun, so we are told, but raising the age to buy tobacco will not make one jot of difference to those 16 and 17 year olds who already smoke, nor will it stop the under 16s from smoking either. It may look good on paper, but that is where it ends.

Yesterday also saw the cost of petrol and diesel rise by 2p per litre; another legacy of Gordon Brown's chancellorship. Drivers are a good cash cow and with every political party bowing and grovelling to the 'Green Mafia', I am sure even more rises in duty will help bolster the Treasury coffers under the stewardship of Alistair Darling.

Perhaps I should walk around with a sign around my neck saying, 'I smoke and I drive a car. Am I am member of the most hated group in Britain?'

1000 Troops home for Christmas

One thousand British troops will be home by Christmas, Gordon "Father Christmas" Brown promised today. When I heard this story today I couldn't believe even Brown could be so cynical in using our troops and their families in such a blatant vote catching way. No. 10 described as preposterous the suggestion the prime minister was playing politics. Gordon Brown play politics? Never.

If he is not playing politics, why has he chosen the week of the Conservative Party Conference to visit Iraq? Liam Fox and Sir John Major have both attacked Brown and I am sure they will be many more in the Labour Party who must have cringed when they heard this news.

Play fair Gordon. Our troops risk their lives every day. They deserve the undying gratitude from you, your government and the British people. Stop playing politics with our armed forces.

Conference News

I am just watching a re-run of David Davis' speech to the Conservative Party Conference. After yesterday's refreshing return to Tory values with the stamp duty and inheritance tax policies, DD is promising that immigration will be a priority of a Conservative Government. Music to my ears.

I just hope the leadership realise the way you get the Conservative vote out is by sticking to Conservative values. Modernise; yes. Dump your principals; no. It is by spreading our values of fairness, personal responsibility and choice, to name but three, that will attract voters, rather than the anti libertarian and authoritarian regime that is the Labour Party.

We may be resigned to an early election and probabal defeat, but we won't go down without a fight.

Do you want to be in my gang?

For those readers who use Facebook, I have created a 'Readers of Andrew Allison's Blog' group. Click here to see.

You will see I have described it as a bit of fun, but I have opened a topic of discussion, and I hope to get some guest authors on my blog too. Blogging only really works when everyone discusses and debates the issues of the day. So pop along to my group and if you are not already a member of Facebook; join and you might be surprised just how many people you know are members.

Putin's plan

Once a KGB man, always a KGB man. I have always said that about Pres. Putin. I have also said he is as committed to democracy as I am to communism. After his latest antics, I have been proved correct again.

Putin has to stand down as Russian president at the next election as he cannot serve more than two consecutive terms. So now he plans to top the party's list and become a member of Russia's lower house and then become prime minister. He will then make sure a weak president is elected, continue to hold the real power and then seek election in four years time for another eight years. That will be a total of 20 years holding on to power is Russia.

This is the sort of delusions leaders get. They think their country cannot do without them. Putin is going to make sure his country will never have to try to for the foreseeable future.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Big Brother is logging your calls and texts.

I was looking at the BBC News website and saw the headline, 'Phonecalls and texts to be logged.' Naturally this caught my attention. The government assure us that calls and texts must be logged for a year as it is vital to tackle serious crime and terrorism. What a surprise? When I read that I knew there had to be more to it than met the eye.

If it was just for that reason you could just about justify it. Only just though and there would have to be many safeguards in place to ensure abuse did not take place, but this information will be made available to 652 public bodies. These include the Gaming Board and the Food Standards Agency and every District and County Council. Can you think of a terrorist threat that the Food Standards Agency has to be involved in? Exploding plums? Biological warfare using bananas?

Although the government gives us assurances, this seems to me another attempt to gather a dossier on citizens. This is another example of the government intruding in to our lives. Ronald Reagan famously said, 'Government isn't the solution to the problem; it is the problem.' As far as our freedoms are concerned, with this government, those words couldn't be more appropriate.

Brave Burmese Bloggers

Ellee Seymour has a post on her blog paying tribute to the brave bloggers of Burma. I too would like to be associated with those remarks. Those bloggers troubled the junta so much they switched the Internet off, however before they did, they kept us informed in only a way a blog can. To me this is the great revolution that is blogging. Anyone, anywhere in the world, can sit at their computer and tell us their story and it worries those in authority. And I don't just mean in Burma. Gordon Brown would love to regulate blogs. He doesn't want us to get our opinions across in an unregulated way. Brown's middle name should be control. If he can't control it, chances are he'll want to abolish it.

As we pay tribute to brave bloggers thousands of miles away, we have to stay awake and make sure none of our 'blogging rights' are stripped away here.

Is Brown calling a snap general election a constitutional outrage?

Sir Malcolm Rifkind has told a meeting at the Conservative Party Conference a snap general election would be a 'constitutional outrage.' He goes on to say a government that has a working majority should serve a full term.

The fact a prime minister can choose when parliament is dissolved is an outrage, full stop. Yes, it is the Queen's decision, but she is always going to agree. When Sir Malcolm says a government should serve a full term, what does he mean? Tony Blair called general elections after 4 years, twice. This wasn't a full term, but is that acceptable?

I can see where Rifkind is coming from, but he has to back it up with a call for fixed term parliaments. That is the only fair way.

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