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Monday, April 28, 2008

Another Mayoral Debate

I am watching the latest London Mayoral Contest and once again it is an unedifying affair. We have Boris blustering his way through. Ken is looking as smug as ever, trying to make us forget what he has been up to in the last 8 years. Brian Paddick - please note I have to use his surname, as no-one would know who I was talking about - is trying to act as the moral majority, but he is clearly out of his league. I am sure after the election, he will bow out of politics.

What we should do is have more live debates on TV. The more we have, the better our politicians will be on them. The difference between what I have been witnessing and what we see in the US is striking.

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Mayoral Race

After watching the three main candidates for the mayoral election of London on Question Time, I have to say it was a score draw. In the end it will come down between Ken and Boris. The perception may be that one candidate is wasteful and ridden in corruption; but better the devil you know. The other comes across as a fool, but who is highly intelligent and may offer Londoners' a solution. I hope Boris wins. Underneath the eccentric exterior, lies a first-class brain, who will tackle the problems of London head-on, but I still think him and Livingstone are neck-and-neck, no matter what the pollsters tell us.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Out of touch Labour

The one thing you need to succeed in politics, is the common touch. I have been speaking to electors in the Kings Park Ward, in Hull, and listening to them. They share my frustrations in general, and yet everyone of them also shares something with me that makes me think. It is at times like these that I am grateful we live in a democracy. We can agree, disagree, and hurl insults around if we want to, although we do have less freedom of speech after the last 11 years of this government, than we had for centuries.

Gordon Brown- if he ever had it - has lost the common touch. He can't try and get his way out of the 'you know what' without making a complete hash of things. The whole country knows that the abolition of the 10p tax rate has made the poorer in our society, poorer. The evidence is there. Instead of putting his hands up and saying 'I got it wrong and I will reverse my decision', he comes up with a fudge that doesn't fool anyone. Not that he will find it easy to reverse his decision. He has got the country's finances in such a bad state that he needs to extract every bit of extra cash from us that he can.

In 1997, Labour fooled the electorate - who were desperate for a change - that they could manage the economy well. Now the electorate realises that Labour are not New; they are the same old miscreants who couldn't manage their way out of a paper bag. The only way they get out of it is by saying the bag was made out of strong materials.

Every time I see or read a minister speaking to the media I get the impression they all know they are going to be out of office at the next general election. They are on death row and they don't know the date when the lethal injection is going to be administered. The problem for Britain, is the longer they go on for, the worse state we will be in.

Monday, April 21, 2008

More Labour misappropriation of taxpayers money

Iain Dale has this story on his blog about Ian Cawsey - the MP for Brigg and Goole.

Iain quite rightly points out that this is not only a blatant misuse of taxpayers money - our money - but he has also told blatant lies about Conservative councillors in the Brigg and Goole area.

He is a desperate man, trying to cling on to his marginal seat. I know the next Conservative MP for that seat - Andrew Percy - who has strongly opposed the fire service cuts, will make sure everyone knows what a peddler of untruths Mr Cawsey is.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

John Prescott

When I picked up my mobile phone this morning to check the news, I thought it must be someone else called Prescott who had been suffering from bulimia. I have only ever heard of women suffering from the disease and he is not what you would describe as thin.

It has been very brave of John Prescott to admit to this, and I admire him for doing so. It does make you wonder how many more successful men there are around the world with stressful lives suffering from bulimia. John Prescott's revelation might assist them in seeking help, rather then suffering in silence.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

A couple of plugs

I am not someone who normally gives a free plug. Tonight I am going to give two of them away.

Our Dyson vacuum cleaner decided it was not going to give us any suction anymore as we swept it across our carpets. I contacted Dyson on their freephone number and asked for their advice. Even though my cleaner is over four years old, they could still come up with all my details. They diagnosed the problem - which was a broken belt - and gave me instructions on where to go to buy one and how to fit it. The women I spoke to was very friendly and couldn't have done any more to help. Dyson are not interested to making a quick buck out of their customers. They are interested in making a long-term relationship with their customers. I know when our cleaner finally stops working, we will buy another Dyson. It is the best and they are bothered about their customers.

The second plug is for the Daily Telegraph. They contacted me a few weeks ago and offered me a subscription for three months, for £41.60. That is much less than half price for the Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Telegraph. Being a reader of The Times for so many years, and a little tired of reading that newspaper, I decided I would take them up on their offer. I am pleased I did. I hadn't realised what such a fantastic newspaper it is. Previously, I had only read it occasionally. It is the only true conservative newspaper in Britain. The Daily Mail is full of so much vitriol and fantasy, I wouldn't waste my money buying it. I urge all of my readers - if possible - to make the Telegraph part of their daily routine. If you live overseas, you can subscribe to the Weekly Telegraph, which will give you all the best stories that have been published in the previous week.

The plugs are now over. Normal service will now be resumed, unless someone pays me!

Gwyneth Dunwoody

I have been thinking for a couple of days of what to say about the late Gwyneth Dunwoody. She is someone who is very rare in politics. When I think of her, I think of Margaret Thatcher, Betty Boothroyd and Ann Widdecombe. What links them all is their love parliament. They all became MPs the hard way. None of them approved of 'women only' shortlists. All of them got to where they wanted to be through skill, determination and hard work. All of them never suffered fools gladly.

Gwyneth Dunwoody was someone who can truly be called a great parliamentarian. She never knew what on-message and off-message was. She was true to her convictions and spoke her mind. She loved the House of Commons and hated the way it was sidelined under Blair. She was true constituency MP. She knew she was in a unique position to help her constituents and used it to help many people. She understood the importance of select committees. She knew their reports could be devastating for the government of the day, however, she also knew that the best friend you can have is a critical friend. If you surround yourself with sycophants, you will never be in touch with reality.

The peoples' of these islands owe Gwyneth Dunwoody a great debt of gratitude. She was a true public servant and although many of us would disagree with her politics, we liked and admired the way she stuck to her principals; something that is lacking in Westminster. I wish there was more like her.

Our leaderless country

I am worried. No; I am frightened. This country is facing very challenging times, and things are not going to get better in a hurry. After Gordon Brown's performance in the USA, the world now sees in glorious technicolour just how leaderless Great Britain is. His facial expressions, his body language, the way he presents himself, make him look like a little boy who has bitten off more than he can chew. Put simply, he is a fish out of water.

After Tony Blair, who - like him or loathe him - was a natural leader, Americans must be wondering how Britain came to be inflicted with such a dithering, indecisive leader, just at the point where we require solid leadership. For the first time in many years, Americans are saying Britain is letting them down. Brown's decision of failing to help Iraqi security forces - who had to enlist the help of the US instead - has not only alienated Britain in Washington, but has our own military leaders feeling exasperated.

At a time when Britain needs a strong leader, Brown has one of the most junior ministers in his government, openly saying she is going to resign over his tax increases, and then is still allowed to keep her job after a quiet word with her boss. If this had happened under Blair or Thatcher, how long would it have taken to return her to the backbenches? As fast as you can say, 'You're fired!' She knew she could speak out against a government she is a member of, threaten resignation, and still keep her job!

Brown has a word with bankers and asks them to pass on Bank of England interest rate cuts. A strong leader would have got their way, but not Brown. Business leaders, world leaders and those in his own party don't have any faith in him, so why should the rest of us?

This is why I am frightened. I don't like Tony Blair, but at least when he was at the helm I knew we had someone in charge who was capable of taking the helm. With Brown we have someone who is probably more incompetent than James Callaghan and that really is saying something!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Post Office woes

One of the consequences of the post office closure programme is increased traffic in other post offices. This may be good for their businesses, however, it is not good for the customer when all you want to do is buy a first class stamp. This happened to my last Saturday morning.

My local main post office is in ASDA. All I wanted to do was mail Becky's voting registration form, which has to be in by 16 April, so it was essential I mailed it that day. You can't trust the Royal Mail like you used to. There was a snaking queue in front of me that was not moving. I waited for a while and gave up; just like the lady behind me - my local MP, Diana Johnson. Instead I had to waste my time driving to a local convenience store, buy a stamp from them, and then go to the main sorting office to mail the letter.

The said Ms Johnson recently voted with the government against a Conservative motion to suspend the closure programme. As, like me, she couldn't be bothered to stand in the queue, I was tempted to say to her if it wasn't for the government she serves in, she could have gone to one of the local post offices that are now defunct. I didn't, for although she would not have recognised me, she will have read my letter in the Hull Daily Mail attacking her.

This government may be at the fag-end of their time in office, but it does make you wonder just have much more damage they can inflict on this country before they are finally booted out of office.

Monday, April 07, 2008

The Olympic Torch

The Olympic Torch doesn't seem to having much luck. It barely made it though London yesterday, and today it didn't get through Paris after the French cut short the route, due to the anti-Chinese protests en-route.

It couldn't happen to a better set of people. The Chinese government doesn't give a damn about human rights and the International Olympic Committee who awarded the Chinese the games, are corrupt. What we are witnessing as the torch weaves its way around Europe, is a clear message that China should not have been awarded the games. I know some of the protesters will have been the usual rent-a-mob. There are always plenty of them around to join the bandwagon and create trouble. There is, however, a sizable majority who feel strongly about Tibet and China's appalling human rights record in general, who feel the only way they can get the message across is to take it to the streets and demonstrate.

There is also a wider question, and that is about the value of the Olympic Games. Every city that hosts the games ends up out of pocket. Perhaps the 2012 London Olympics should be the last? I would much have preferred Paris to have won the right to host the games in 2012. It's not that far away from London, so it is easily accessible to devotees who want to witness them first hand and it would have given the London council taxpayer and the British taxpayer more pounds in their pockets.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Dirty tricks, opinion poll and Tony Blair

Things seem to be getting ugly in the London Mayoral contest. According to the Sunday Telegraph, Boris Johnson says he is the victim of dirty tricks. Hackers broke into his e-mail and brought down his computer system last week. It seems Labour will resort to anything to secure a victory on May 1.

There is also a poll out today putting the Conservatives nationally on 43%, Labour on 32%, with the LibDems bringing up the rear on 18%. It will be interesting to see if the government try and change the voting system before the next general election. I wouldn't put anything past them. They know it will be interpreted as trying to fix the vote in their favour, but Labour openly engage in sleaze and don't give a damn what anyone thinks.

Tony Blair also managed to claim £47,000 for his second home in Trimdon, Co Durham, even though he was living rent free at No. 10. Although he has not done anything improper, there is a moral case here. Surely claiming the cost of your TV licence as a legitimate expense is pushing the boundaries to their limits.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

The Olympic Games

The person who coined the phrase that sport and politics shouldn't mix, was either an idealist or a fool. Probably the latter. I remember John Major saying in 1999, when the Cricket World Cup was held here, that if England won the competition, Tony Blair would declare himself the game's greatest fan. Thankfully we were spared that spectacle, as England didn't make it past the first round. Hitler politicised the Olympic Games in the 1930s. Indeed, it was a propaganda coup that any dictator would dream of.

The Chinese government must feel the same way. They have managed to get the right to host the Olympic Games, even though their record on human rights is appalling. Today I read that eight pro-Tibet campaigners have been killed by the Chinese authorities. When awarding the games to China, the IOC told them they would have to become a more open society. The chances of China becoming an open society are about as great as Robert Mugabe becoming a Democrat.

What Britain should be doing - along with all democratic, civilised countries in the world - is boycotting the games. We should be sending out a clear message to China telling them if they want to be accepted properly in to the international community they have to change. The chances of that happening are as great as the Pope joining the Church of England. Readers may remember Gordon Brown telling the Chinese President how much in common our two countries have. I know Brown is deluded, but even I didn't think he was that bad.

The government will not boycott the games, saying they cannot get involved in sporting matters. Of course, if Andy Murray gets through to the final at Wimbledon, Gordon Brown will become a great tennis fan and will take his seat in the Royal Box on Centre Court and will make as much political capital as he can. And human rights? About as important as Labour's ethical foreign policy.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Political Suicide

On Wednesday, the East Riding of Yorkshire Council voted in favour of fire service cuts. To say I am ashamed of them is an understatement. There were eight Conservative councillors who voted against the orders from Stephen Parnaby - the Leader of the Council - and good on them, but the rest decided to go along with him and commit political suicide.

The three local Conservative MPs are against the cuts, as is the rank and file of the party. All the other political parties are also against the cuts. The other three councils that form the Humberside area - Hull, North Lincolnshire and North-East Lincolnshire are also against the cuts. The public are also against the cuts. Only Conservatives on the East Riding of Yorkshire Council are in favour.

I - like many others - give my time freely to help get our message across and get more Conservative councillors and MPs. What has happened here is a kick in the balls. We have fought and will continue to fight against the LibDems, however what we do not need are councillors who make our unpaid job harder by displaying gross political naivety and incompetence. Perhaps now is the time for Councillor Parnaby to spend more time with his family.

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