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Sunday, November 07, 2010

We need to restore a work ethic in Britain

I am something of a workaholic. I enjoy work, and enjoy having a purpose in my life. I enjoy my time off too, and spending time with my family. When I am not working I know I have earned the right to relax.

It has been reported Iain Duncan Smith is about to import a scheme from the United States, requiring those who are unemployed to do a month’s unpaid work in order to keep on receiving benefits.

There’s been the usual cries of outrage from some politicians, but surely this has to be the right thing to do. Too many people in Britain haven’t done a day’s work for many years. They are stuck in a rut, and the habit of working has evaporated, if it was ever there in the first place.

Voluntary organisations and charities would benefit greatly from additional help, and those who are claiming benefits would be contributing to their communities. Surely this is not too much to ask?

We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to change our benefits culture. We have a chance to bring down our huge benefits bill, which in turn will create a low tax culture. This will drive our economy forward, and assist in bringing the prosperity we all want.

There have been too many scare stories predicting the disasters that will befall us as a result of the government’s spending review. Although there will be job losses in the public sector, and a knock-on effect in the private sector, by restoring confidence in the British economy, the same people who forecast the job losses, predict 1.5 million jobs will be created in the next four years. This final statistic is regularly omitted.

We need to get those who can work, back to work. We need to restore a work ethic, and getting the unemployed to volunteer their time in order to receive benefits is one way we can do this.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Yet another irrational debate about the NHS

I have written before on how we are seemingly incapable of having an intelligent debate on the NHS. As soon as any reform is mooted, people like John Prescott immediately jump on to a bandwagon, making outrageous claims of the dire consequences that will befall us. We live in a country that thinks only the government can provide an effective, free at the point of use healthcare system. We are completely dependent on the NHS. It’s an addiction as strong as heroin. We have become blinkered to such an extent, we are terrified of any proposals to modify the way we access healthcare services. Rational debate goes out of the window, and anyone advocating change is seen as a pariah. 

The government proposes to replace NHS Direct with the 111 service currently being piloted in Co Durham and Darlington. This is what Professor Stephen Singleton, medical director of NHS North East said:

"The introduction of the NHS 111 service in County Durham and Darlington is an important part of our regional vision to improve access to urgent healthcare for local people.

"By better understanding what people really need from different local services, 111 will enable the commissioning of more effective and productive health care.

"Most importantly it will help improve efficiency across the whole health care system by reducing unnecessary waste and making sure people get access to the right service, first time."

I’m not saying this service is going to be perfect, and will suit everyone. Nor do I think NHS Direct fits this category either. What we do need to ask is whether we need a service staffed with nurses, when other trained people can handle the calls? We already have the answer. Only around 40% of staff working for NHS Direct are nurses. The new service will be able to direct callers to the relevant service they need and will also call 999 for you if necessary. It will be cheaper. It will be more streamlined and above all it will be better. A winner on all fronts, so why is Labour, in particular John Prescott, having a fit?

It could be because Prescott and all the potential Labour leadership candidates are acting with noble intentions. It could be, but it isn’t. If Labour had won the general election, it would have made more or less the same decision, and would have trumpeted it as progressive. Indeed, John Prescott stayed remarkably quiet when news about the 111 service broke before the election. Apart from Diane Abbot, all the leadership candidates were in the cabinet at the time and – one supposes – agreed with the new service being piloted.

So here we have the new politics, ladies and gentlemen. If the coalition government makes changes, it is hitting the poorest the most. They are people with evil intentions. They are nasty. Their policies are regressive, but if Labour had made those same changes – including spending cuts that would have had to take place – it would be spun as progressive politics.

I don’t agree with everything the coalition is doing. It is still keeping too much power in Whitehall and the choices it says it is giving to us are being decided by what it thinks we want, not actually what we want. It is making tough decisions, and like everything in politics, I am going to agree and disagree with those decisions. All I have seen from Labour – with the odd notable exception – is playground bully politics. Prescott will never change and he will never let the truth get in the way of frightening the voters. I had hoped at least one of the Labour leadership candidates would grow up, but alas it seems not to be. None of them seem fit to lead a major political party and certainly none of them deserve the title of statesman.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Basil Marceaux’s Bid for Governor of Tennessee

Whenever I think an interview hasn’t gone very well, I’ll think of this. It certainly makes you feel better. Is this the best Tennessee Republicans can come up with? The other candidates must be better.

Hat Tip: Carl Minns

Monday, July 19, 2010

What’s wrong with the Big Society

I read a joke today that said due to government cuts, the big society is going to be downgraded to the medium society. Okay, not the funniest joke you’ve ever heard, but it rather sums up what the public think of the big society policy. For starters, they don’t understand it. Hardly surprising as instead of hearing about this policy last year, it appeared to be dreamt up on the back of a fag packet a few weeks before the general election.

The next problem is we have grown used to the state doing everything for us. I believe in free at the point of use healthcare, as do the vast majority of us, but why does the state have to provide it? The NHS is almost collapsing under the weight of its bureaucracy, but if you suggest we look into other ways of providing healthcare in this country, you are greeted with a barrage of abuse.

What David Cameron announced today makes me feel disappointed. If communities are to be truly empowered, they have to empower themselves. They have to decide what they want, not be given a list of choices from the government. For example, I would like an elected mayor of Hull. There are many who agree with me and many who disagree, but surely we should be allowed to have a debate and a referendum? Apparently not. We are not one of the chosen cities. I would like the option of trimming down the amount of councillors who serve on Hull City Council. All these multi-member wards are unnecessary. Why not have around 20 full-time councillors, devoting all their energies in serving their communities? This would also work out cheaper for the taxpayer too, and it may attract a better calibre of candidate. Once again I am not allowed to make this decision.

Why not allow local authorities to get their funding from a local sales tax, as advocated by Daniel Hannan and Douglas Carswell. This would provide a much more direct chain of accountability between local voters and local councillors. Sorry, I’m getting ahead of myself, because we can’t have this either.

Until I hear politicians using the phrase ‘change from the bottom to the top’, rather than ‘from the top to the bottom’ I will not get excited. The Big Society could work, but it will not when Big Brother is giving you the options. We should be able to decide. Just give us the chance. Please government; keep a low profile. 

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Banning the burkha is wrong

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is supposed to be a liberal democracy. We are supposed to be tolerant of other people’s views and lifestyle choices. We live and let live. Despite over a decade of the intrusive state, Britain is still a great place to live.

Tory MP, Philip Hollobone, may be acting with the best of intentions in his bid to ban the burkha, but if he has his way, it will send a message out that Britain is less tolerant than it is now.

Personally, I am not bothered in the least if a woman chooses to dress like this. It is up to her. It may exclude her from the rest of society and there is no doubt no-one will stop her in the street and pass the time of day with her, but once again, this is her choice.

What Mr Hollobone is trying to do is legislate for integration. It doesn’t work. Forcing someone to do something against their will only alienates them further. If someone tells me to do something I feel is unfair, I dig my heels in. I am sure you do the same.

I am sure this bill doesn’t stand a chance of becoming law. We are a free society and we are entitled to dress in any way we see fit, as long as it doesn’t promote violence against our fellow citizens and we are not guilty of exposure. Long may it continue.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Conservative/LibDem coalition government

I am shocked and surprised tonight. I never thought a formal coalition deal between Conservatives and Liberal Democrats would take place. I was wrong, and now we wait for details of the new government. On face value it seems the Tories have given far too much away, and it will have probably finished the LibDems off in local elections next year. Let’s see how long this government is going to last. Probably longer than I thought it would.

All in the national interest?

“We are seeking a deal with [insert political party of your choice] in the national interest.”

How many times have we hear that over the last few days? Everything is in the national interest. No doubt the Liberal Democrats will tell us opening talks with Labour is in the national interest too, but  it is more in the interests of the Liberal Democrats, rather than the rest of us.

Can we get one thing straight? Although none of political parties secured enough seats to form a majority government,  and all parties failed to convince voters they deserved a clear mandate, there wasn’t a single person in Britain who cast a vote  for a hung parliament. We don’t know how our fellow citizens are going to vote, but we do know they will cast their vote for a variety of different reasons. What the public does want is a new government formed that is going to get a grip with the dire financial problems this country faces.

Think about how many parties will be involved in a Lib/Lab coalition. Along with Labour and the Lib Dems, there will be the Scottish and Welsh Nationalists, the SDLP, and anyone else they can muster. It will only take one party to pull out of the coalition for the government to fall like a deck of cards. Stable government? Hardly.

If the LibDems truly want to act in the national interest, then stop this stupidity with Labour. Propping up a party the voters have clearly rejected, with the prospect of yet another unelected prime minister in September, is clearly wrong. A formal coalition between Conservatives and the LibDems will not work either, and I think the Conservatives can go it alone. When you remove the votes of the Speaker, his deputies and Sinn Fein (who don’t sit in the Commons, as they refuse to swear an oath of allegiance to the Queen), Cameron could seek support on a vote by vote basis. Therefore Clegg should have a confidence and supply agreement with Cameron, and allow a new government to be formed. It won’t last long and we will all be back to the polling booths in the Autumn, but at least we will move on from the current impasse

Campbell v Boulton arguing live on Sky News

Saturday, May 08, 2010

The Conservative Party was not radical and it lost

I hate to tell you I told you so, but I told you so. I said the only way the Conservatives would win a working majority in the House of Commons was for them to be radical. They weren’t, and now we have a hung parliament.

As I write, deals are being hatched. Tomorrow, the horse trading will start in earnest and the voters will definitely not get what they voted for. Despite all the frantic deals, agreements made will collapse like a deck of cards, and then an election will have to be called. Some commentators say we will all be visiting the polling booths within twelve months. I’m confident the next general election will be in the autumn.

There is a cost to the nation whilst this uncertainty is played out. The markets will not have confidence in the government. There could be a run on the pound. Billions are likely to be wiped of the value of shares. It will be difficult for the government to borrow more cash at a good interest rate. Britain will be heading down a Grecian road, marked cul-de-sac. Meanwhile, in a manner Nero would be proud of, our politicians will not tackle government debt, and will fiddle whilst the UK burns.

The voters are not happy with any of the parties, and have voted accordingly. With an unpopular prime minister, and the government finances in an appalling state, I think it is fair to say the Conservative Party has succeeded in snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Gordon Brown apologises to me!

I subscribe to e-mail alerts from Labour, Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. I like to read how all the main parties spin their campaigning days and after a disastrous day for Gordon Brown, the following has just landed in my inbox:

Andrew,
As you may know, I have apologised to Mrs Duffy for remarks I made in the back of the car after meeting her on the campaign trail in Rochdale today. I would also like to apologise to you.
I know how hard you all work to fight for me and the Labour Party, and to ensure we get our case over to the public. So when the mistake I made today has so dominated the news, doubtless with some impact on your own campaigning activities, I want you to know I doubly appreciate the efforts you make.
Many of you know me personally. You know I have strengths as well as weaknesses. We all do. You also know that sometimes we say and do things we regret. I profoundly regret what I said this morning.
I am under no illusions as to how much scorn some in the media will want to heap upon me in the days ahead.
But you, like I, know what is at stake in the days ahead and so we must redouble our campaigning efforts to stop Britain returning to a Tory Party that would do so much damage to our economy, our society and our schools and NHS, not least in places like Rochdale.
The worst thing about today is the hurt I caused to Mrs Duffy, the kind of person I came into politics to serve. It is those people I will have in my mind as I look ahead to the rest of the campaign.
You will have seen me in one context on the TV today. I hope tomorrow you see once more someone not just proud to be your leader, but also someone who understands the economic challenges we face, how to meet them, and how that improves the lives of ordinary families all around Britain.
Regards,
Gordon

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Cameron only has himself to blame

A week is certainly a long time in politics. This time last week I was getting rather bored with the election campaign. It was the usual knockabout stuff; Brown saying don’t let the Tories in, and Cameron saying don’t let Labour continue. I was finding it difficult to find anything positive, even though the main parties launched their manifestos early last week. I feared the leaders’ debates would be a damp squib too.

Well, things have certainly changed, although I can’t say I’m surprised.  Before anyone asks me if the LibDem surge is sustainable, the simple answer is I don’t know. No-one does and this is why this election campaign has suddenly got very interesting.

Locally in Hull, sources inform me the LibDems have recruited twenty new volunteers; people who walked through the door and offered their services. Nationally, the membership of the party has increased too. The Clegg Factor has worked wonders thus far. The reason for this is simple, and the way some Conservative commentators have tried to rubbish Clegg has been silly in the extreme. The fault lies fair and square with Cameron and his team.

I have said more times than I care to mention that the only way the Conservatives can win this election is by being radical. Well, it’s too late now. Cameron was desperate not to lose this election and a few months ago many Conservatives thought the party would win at a cantor. None of them seemed to realise that not being Gordon Brown was never going to be enough. By positioning the Conservative Party firmly in the centre, he has denied the voters a choice. He keeps muttering on about change, but what does it mean? He wants us to be part of a Conservative government; all of us playing our part in our communities. Fine words, but unless you articulate a definite, cohesive plan, how are you going to sell it? Can anyone give me a reason to vote Conservative at this election, other than Cameron is not Brown? For too many voters he may not be Brown, but there is more than a passing resemblance to Tony Blair. Why isn’t Cameron telling us the truth about the size of government debt and the cuts that will have to fall? Most of the public seem to be in denial about this, and Cameron doesn’t do too much to jolt them out of this collective state of inertia. Tell us the truth and we would have more respect for him. We are sick and tired of being lied to.

It’s all too late now, unless he can pull a rabbit out of the hat. I can’t see how he will do it, but as I said at the beginning, a week is a long time in politics, and who knows what may happen? There is still more than two weeks to go before the nation decides.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Eurostar accused of profiteering

As Mount ‘Unpronounceable’ continues to erupt in Iceland, causing more chaos across the skies in Europe, Eurostar has been one of the winners, as people desperately try and return to the UK from their holidays.

According to the Telegraph this morning though, Eurostar has not only benefited from increased business it has been charging a minimum of £223 for a single journey from Paris to London. Normally, you can buy a return ticket for as little as £69. Eurostar denies it is profiteering, but this is complete nonsense. Of course it is, and I always think it is good to remind companies who do this that in a free market they can charge what they like. At the same time, I am also free to decide who I wish to travel with and the next time I travel to northern Europe I will not be travelling with Eurostar, and never will again.

The public tend to remember those companies who like to rip them off when the chips our down. When life returns to normal, I hope many will kick Eurostar in the place where it hurts most.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Protest rally in Beverley

Click here to read my latest post for the Taxpayers’ Alliance, giving details of a protest rally outside County Hall, Beverley, on May Day.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

The battle for Hull North

For years nothing changed in Hull’s politics. Three Labour MPs and a Labour dominated council chamber was the order of the day. In recent years this has changed. Hull City Council is now under Liberal Democrat control and although currently the city still has three Labour MPs, this may be about to change.

Hull East and Hull West & Hessle will return Labour MPs. Karl Turner – John Prescott’s replacement in Hull East – and current Home Secretary, Alan Johnson, will be MPs after May 6. Hull North, however, is a different prospect. Before I move on though, I think we need some background information.

There are popular MPs from all parties. I’m sure you will have noticed the times when the national swing of opinion says certain MPs will be out on their ear, but many still hang on. This is the local factor that cannot be reflected in national opinion polls. Bob Marshall-Andrews – the Labour MP, pictured left -  is a prime example. Although he is standing down at this election, he is popular with his constituents, and thought he was going to join the dole queue after the 2005 general election. Many will remember his remarks on television after his great escape. ‘Call me Lazarus’, he said. Although he only held on with a majority of 213, the local factor is here again, bucking the national trend.

Generally, it takes many years to build-up a strong reputation. Kevin McNamara – MP for Hull North from 1966-2005 – did this and there was never a chance of him losing his seat. There are recently elected MPs who have managed this feat in a very short time though. James Cran was for many years the Conservative MP for Beverley and Holderness and it is fair to say he was far from popular. In 2001, he hung on to his seat with a very slim majority of 781.  His successor, Graham Stuart, another Tory, has campaigned hard in his constituency. He latches on to popular, local issues and although there are some who say if there is a bandwagon, he’ll jump on it, he will be re-elected in four weeks with a much larger majority. His constituents know who he is and they like him.

Now back to Hull North. Diana Johnson – pictured right - was elected in the same year as Mr Stuart; 2005. From my perspective, she has done very little for her constituents. She campaigned to keep local post offices open, but when they closed, she voted to close others nationally. There is a lesson here. If you are going to campaign on popular issues, you have to remain consistent. The LibDems have crucified her on this issue, and rightly so. She has not made a mark in the same way neighbouring MP Graham Stuart has and since the last general election Hull City Council ceased to be controlled by her party. Life has changed, but it seems Ms Johnson has not moved with the times.

The LibDem candidate is someone with a name you will never forget; Denis Healy. For him to win this seat, he will need a 13% swing from Labour. On paper, this seems insurmountable. In reality, it isn’t. The LibDems have thrown everything at this seat, including the kitchen sink. We are regularly reminded that Hull North is a two-horse race. I’ve joked with Carl Minns, leader of Hull City Council, that I intend to report him to the RSPCA. Those two horses have been flogged enough over the years, however, this approach is proving successful. You would think Diana Johnson would be fighting back as hard, wouldn’t you? The answer is no. I’ve barely heard from her, although I understand from informed sources she doesn’t have the necessary foot-soldiers to deliver leaflets and her campaign chest is desperately lacking in cash.

Only a fool would predict the outcome of the general election at this stage. I am going to make one prediction though. Hull North will be a Liberal Democrat gain. It will be a small majority – probably between 1000 to 2000 votes – but a majority nonetheless, and herein lies a lesson. If you are elected to what is regarded as a safe seat, work it as if it was a marginal. You never know when the wind of change will blow, and if you are found wanting, the wind will blow you away.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

John Prescott accused of ‘click fraud’

Last week I reported how the former deputy prime minister, John Prescott, reversed in to a car and then drove off. Now he’s in the news again for all the wrong reasons.

Today he has been accused of ‘click fraud.’ This is being reported by BBC News.

In a post on his Twitter page on 6 April, Mr Prescott wrote: "Click here http://bit.ly/RinseCashcroft then click on Labour Have Failed = 50p out of the Tories warchest. Let's do this! #ukelection."

What the public wants in this election is an intelligent debate on the major issues affecting our country. John Prescott wants to bring everything down to the lowest common denominator, and indulge in silly, childish politics. There are some things in life that never change.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Who reads the papers? Hacker explains

As we prepare for the general election starting gun tomorrow, here’s Jim Hacker explaining who reads the papers. Hilarious!

Johnson Beharry, V.C., snubs the PM

I know through my work how underequipped members of the armed forces have been during the last few years. Lately, when any general retires, we hear the same story. There are so many people repeating the same story, it has to be true. A Royal Marine told me a couple of years ago the British had a reputation of being scroungers. They had not option. They didn’t have the proper kit they needed, and the Americans did.

For Victoria Cross holder, Johnson Beharry, to snub the prime minister in the way he did shows how the trust between our men and women in uniform and the government has eroded. Mr Beharry is not the first to publicly criticise the PM. He is joining a long list of disaffected people who are angry they have been sent to war without essential equipment.

Whatever the outcome of the general election, one thing is for certain. No government should ever send our troops to war without doing everything it can to ensure their safety. Our troops know when they sign on the dotted line there is the potential of fighting in volatile situations. They also know they have no other choice but to follow the orders they are given. A government that takes advantage of this by fighting wars ‘on the cheap’  deserves everything it gets. It seems as if the chickens are coming home to roost on this subject, and rightly so.

The official fight is about to begin

Are you getting excited? In the Red Corner, we have Gordon Brown, once described as the clunking fist. Things went well for him at first, and seemed to be landing a few killer blows, but he bottled it in the ‘Inheritance Tax’ fight, and everything went south. He eventually decided to get a new coach in Peter ‘Bruiser’ Mandelson, but will Lord Mandy desert his charge, even if he wins the fight and mentor a new protégé?

In the Blue Corner, we have David Cameron. His footwork is rather nifty, and like a previous champion, Tony ‘Teflon’ Blair, he talks a good fight, and lands a few blows, but has he got what it takes to win the heavyweight championship? His main backer, Lord ‘Offshore’ Ashcroft hasn’t helped him in the popularity stakes, and some of his team are not helping him get fighting fit. George ‘Lightweight’ Osborne is struggling to help his man in the heavyweight competition.

There is another pretender to the crown, and if neither of them can manage a knock-out on May 6, Nick ‘King Maker’ Clegg will be there as one of the  judges deciding the competition on points. Alongside him is Vince ‘The Sage’ Cable. He’s a wily old bird who will ensure the King Maker makes the right decision.

Unfortunately,  this fight is predicted to be dirty, and expect some low punches along the way, but those who predicted Cameron would be the easy winner a few months ago, are now not so sure. Brown may not land a killer blow, but he could do enough to see off his rival and Clegg and Cable could hand him victory.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

What now for South Africa after Terreblanche?

Eugene Terreblanche was a nasty thug. He was determined to keep South Africa a white supremacist state at all costs. He didn’t give a jot for anyone who wasn’t white, but his murder raises concerns about the future of South Africa.

Is is estimated more than 3000 white farmers have been killed since the end of apartheid in 1994. South Africa’s political leadership has failed to address this problem, and has brushed it under the carpet. For more than a decade commentators have said the country is a tinderbox ready to be set on fire. We are still waiting for this bloodshed to happen, and hope it will not, but unless South Africa has leadership, the inevitable will happen. President Jacob Zuma is incapable of leading. He is completely out of his depth, and his country needs someone strong who will come down hard on anyone – black or white – who wants to return to the days of violence and mass murder.

The Football World Cup is only two months away. I have never thought South Africa was an appropriate host nation. I have always thought the country had too many problems that were not going away. I fear for the safety of football supporters attending the tournament who I don’t believe will be safe. If there is a return to murder and violence after the killing of Terreblance, it is doubtful whether the World Cup will even take place. For everyone’s sake, I hope there will be peace and stability.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

The Three Chancellors

I’m a little late writing about the debate between ‘The Three Chancellors.’ It was hard at the time thinking about something constructive to write, and five days on, time has not made it any easier.

Those of you who watched it will know what I’m talking about. I found it one of the most unedifying pieces of political theatre I have seen in Britain. I didn’t learn anything new. George Osborne looked and sounded like a boy in a man’s world. Vince Cable and Alistair Darling never – from memory – referred to their party leaders. Not so with Osborne. He uses David Cameron as his crutch. Darling and Cable looked at him with distain, but this wasn’t surprising. Both of them are left-wing politicians and it is fair to say Cable is vastly more left-wing than Darling. Cable couldn’t disguise his distain for wealthy people. Why else would he come up with a mansion tax? Playing the politics of envy is something that should be confined to the dustbin of politics, and although Vince is economically qualified to be Chancellor, politically I wouldn’t touch him with a bargepole.

Now to the current incumbent of 11 Downing Street. One could be forgiven for thinking the last 13 years saw an economic miracle in Britain and none of the fallout of the last couple of years had anything to do with the government. Darling was given an easy ride.

So who would I want as Chancellor of the Exchequer? None of them. One is economically illiterate. One is entrenched in the politics of envy and one is in a state of denial. I think you can put the names to the descriptions.

Double-standards Mandelson?

Lord Mandelson has had a pop at Bob Diamond, the head of Barclays Investment Bank, describing him as the unacceptable face of banking.

Many would describe Peter Mandelson as the unacceptable face of politics, but leaving this aside, why has his lordship singled out Mr Diamond? Barclays didn’t receive handouts of our cash a year and a half ago. If the report from BBC News is accurate, he also didn’t receive a bonus in 2008 or 2009.

If Mr Diamond had been working for a state-run bank, then I would have criticised his pay packet, as this money should have been going back to the taxpayer. All Mandelson is trying to do is divert attention away from the government’s woes, and score some brownie points with the voters by attacking greedy bankers.

His lordship is one of the most greedy, egotistical politicians we have seen in Britain. Pot calling the kettle black?

Friday, April 02, 2010

A bump in the car park at Craven Park

This afternoon I ventured to Craven Park, the home of Hull Kingston Rovers Rugby League Football Club. Good Friday is the traditional day for a derby between Rovers and Hull FC. As a black and white, I am pleased to report Rovers were beaten, 18-14. Thankfully, at the end of the game I returned to my car, found it undamaged and joined a rather long queue to leave the ground.

Unfortunately for someone else, they returned to their car to see someone had reversed into it. I hate it when that happens, don’t you? But who could be the culprit?

A friend of Cllr John Fareham, the leader of the Conservative Group on Hull City Council, sent him this story:

The players were coming out and getting into their cars to go home before we got out!One laugh (and cause of frustration) was that John Prescott was parked just behind Rob's car (who gave us a lift, today) - Rob was blocking him in so JP backed the jag - into the car behind him but he didn't bother about that!! - into a space and then shot off round the back of all the queuing cars. We assumed the one or two remaining stewards stopped other cars to let him out!!

So there we have it. The former Deputy Prime Minister backed into another car and didn’t stop, and didn’t leave his details and was then given priority as he exited the ground. Cllr Fareham has written to Hull Kingston Rovers about this matter. Hopefully Mr Prescott will be brought to justice.

UPDATE: Apparently, there was no real damage done to the car, but John Prescott was off like a bat out of hell. Even so, he should still have arranged for his details to be passed on to the owner of the car he bumped. There may be some damage no-one noticed after an initial inspection. Poor show, JP.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

News

At the beginning of March I was in London for a meeting with Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the Taxpayers’ Alliance. This was a follow-up meeting after our meet-up over Christmas.

I am now a part-time employee of the TPA, building on my voluntary role in Hull and the East Riding of Yorkshire. As a result of this, my blogging has been confined to writing for the Hull & East Riding TPA blog. Those posts are now being published on the main TPA website.

I will still be writing here from time to time, and will endeavour to increase the frequency when the general election campaign formally gets under way. As yet, I have not decided whether to continue with this blog after the election.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Hull City Council awards a £200K grant for ornamental toads

Here’s a story for you in the ‘you couldn’t make it up’ category. Surely this money can be better spent?

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Interview on Radio Humberside

I was interviewed by Lara King on BBC Radio Humberside two days ago about my work as a driving instructor. It is available on iPlayer until Friday 5 March. Click here to listen. It is 1 hour, 14 minutes, 15 seconds in.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The rise of the National Front

This is a report from the Politics Show in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, broadcast last Sunday. It seems many BNP branches are defecting to the National Front en masse, because the BNP is too liberal for them.

I was pushed into fourth place by the National Front in a council by-election in Hull last year and was asked to contribute to the report.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Tories should be miles ahead in the polls

There was a time – as little as few months ago – when many Conservatives were wandering the country in dizzy expectation of a bumper Tory victory at the next general election. There may still be a few deluded souls left, but now the rank and file of the Conservative Party are all too well aware there is a real possibility their hopes may be dashed as the voters decide whom they want to be prime minister.

The Tories should have been miles ahead in the polls. This current government has vandalised just about everything it has touched. A strong economy, with controlled public spending and borrowing has given way to an expansion of the client state, with reckless spending and borrowing that has not put Britain in a unique position to weather the current economic storm.

It has been the most anti-libertarian government anyone can remember. CCTV everywhere, the largest DNA database in the world and the big brother state interfering in our lives in ways unimaginable 10 years ago.

Immigration has spiralled out of control, with the government admitting it doesn’t know how many immigrants have entered the country. This has lead to resentment and has helped the rise of the National Front and the BNP.

The main problem the main political parties face at the next general election is the sheer amount of minority parties who will be standing. Labour will lose out to the National Front and the BNP and the Conservatives will lose out to UKIP. No serious commentator will predict those parties will elect an MP, but they can take away votes from the main parties and in critical marginal seats this could be the margin between victory or defeat.

I have written many times about what David Cameron and the Conservative Party needs to do to win. The voters don’t want some middle of the road Tony Blair Mk II. The want a radical government lead by a prime minister who is not afraid to make tough choices. Public spending has to be drastically cut, but neither Labour, Conservatives or the Liberal Democrats are proposing the sort of policies we need to get the public finances back on their feet again. The approach seems to be tinker here and tinker there, and the voters are not stupid. They see through this and there is a very real danger they will cast their votes to the ‘better the devil you know party’ rather than what should be the government in waiting.

Unless ‘Team Cameron’ gets the tough messages across, and wins support for its honesty, I think we will have a hung parliament, and I have no idea who will be the largest party. Normally elections are lost by governments.  This year, I think the election could be lost by the main opposition bring frightened to tell the country the truth.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Jeff Randall in the Telegraph

An excellent article by Jeff Randall in the Telegraph. A plain speaking, on the money analysis of what is wrong in Britain, using the lessons from history and giving advise to David Cameron.

Oppose the death tax

William Roache, better known as Ken Barlow in Coronation Street, speaks out against a possible death tax to fund care for the elderly.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

We need a British Tea Party Movement

The Tea Party Movement in the United States has taken the country by storm. Its supporters include some of the least well off in American society. I was asked by Dr David Runciman on Radio 4 why this was. It’s an easy question to answer. Those who are poorer have a difficult task in balancing their families books. If they can do it, they expect the government to do it too.

We need a tea party style movement  in the UK. We have to give politicians of all parties a clear message. We cannot continue on the road we are travelling. The public finances are in a parlous state already. Continually trying to spend our way out of a recession will mean the country is bankrupt. Tough choices are going to have to be made. There will have to be drastic cuts in public spending. You cannot tinker here and tinker there. It will not work. We need a bonfire of the Quangos. We have to look at what we want government to do. It is not the job of government to meddle. We want our freedoms back. We are sick and tired of the bully state interfering in our lives. We also want this country to regain its sovereignty and this means we need to leave the EU.

Present these ideas to the voters and you will get support. Not everyone will agree with everyone; of course not, but you will get broad support. When Winston Churchill became prime minister he didn’t sugar coat the pill. He told the British people the truth. ‘I have nothing to offer  but blood, toil, tears and sweat’, he said. Telling the truth and not caring about focus groups, is what leadership is about. I don’t think we are going to get this leadership unless we take action. We have to be a constant thorn in the sides of politicians. I believe – and I know I am not alone –this is the only way we can effect the change we want in Britain. 

Government spends more on advertising

The government has increased spending on advertising by 40% in the past year. Nothing to do with an upcoming general election, I’m sure!

Hat Tip: BBC News

We should all work a 21-hour week according to think tank

Just as the economy splutters its way out of a recession (with no assurances it will not fall back in the current quarter), the left-wing think tank, The New Economics Foundation, has come up with a new report. We should all work a 21-hour week. No more than that, as this would help reduce unemployment, give us more time to spend with our families and perform civic duties. The fact we won’t be able to pay our bills, seems to be irrelevant. The facts some people will want to work more hours, employers will lose flexibility, and the economy will suffer, seems to be unimportant too.

Why is it those on the left want to restrict our freedom of choice? Why is they want to interfere in almost every aspect of our lives, because they know better?

This report should be filed in the usual place, or even better, shredded. It should certainly not be seen in the light of day again.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

English Speaking Taxi Drivers? Who knows in Southampton

Here’s another one in the ‘you couldn’t make it up category.’

Taxi Drivers in Southampton have been displaying the flag of St George in their windscreens with the words ‘English Speaking Driver’ written on the flag. What’s wrong with that? Nothing, but the jobsworths in Southampton Council have threatened those taxi drivers, giving them the ultimatum, take them out or lose your licence.

Yet another example of petty bureaucrats pandering to the political correctness lobby. If there were signs in the front of taxis stating French driver or whatever, no-one would bat an eyelid, but if you state you speak English because there are many taxi drivers who do not speak English, you are denounced as a racist.

I’m sure the officials who came up with this ridiculous policy also denounce the BNP. What they don’t realise is their actions only pander to the true racists and hand them support and therefore votes. Come on Southampton Council. Reverse this policy and let the law abiding taxi drivers of your city get on with earning a living without having the bully state breathing down their necks.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Harman scuppers Commons reform

There is something very undemocratic about the way the executive holds sway in our legislature. Surely the elected representatives of the people should have more power to hold the executive to account? Yes it should, but in reality, this seldom happens.

If anything remotely contentious is wending its way through parliament, you can guarantee the government will at some stage use a guillotine motion to stifle debate and therefore scrutiny. The power of the whips remains supreme in appointing members of select committees. You have to be a good boy or girl if you want to get on and hold any position of influence. If you are a maverick, life will be very hard for you.

Ben Farrugia highlights in this article how once again reform of the House of Commons is going to be blocked by the government. Changes that could and would have made a difference to democracy in this country will not happen in the lifetime of this parliament because of a procedural trick played by Harriet Harman.

Ben describes this as a complete and utter disgrace. He is right. One day this country will become a democracy again, instead of an elected dictatorship.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

ID cards for students and fingerprinting in schools

From the Freedom Association, via Big Brother Watch.

Another school is about to start using biometrics in the school dining hall. Although there are many doubts about security, it seems head teachers and governing bodies are willing to condition our children into thinking handing over their biometric details is a normal thing to do.

Big Brother Watch also reported on Monday about the latest wheeze from the government, who are targeting students by encouraging them to buy a biometric ID card for what it regards as the bargain price of £30.

I am sure I am not alone in thinking because the majority of people are against ID cards, the government is trying to ensure it brainwashes young people into thinking they are the way forward.

The battle against the bullying and intrusive state continues.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Blocked on Twitter by Diana Johnson MP

I have written on a few occasions about my MP, Diana Johnson. Yesterday, I found out she has blocked me on Twitter. Strange really, as I have never contacted her on Twitter before. I was recommended to follow her by Labour’s Twitter Tsar, Kerry McCarthy MP. Here are some tweets exchanged between Kerry and I late last night and earlier today:

@KerryMP You advised me a couple of weeks ago to follow my MP Diana Johnson. Just to inform you, I can't. She's blocked me.

@andrew_allison What did u do to deserve that?

@KerryMP I don't know why she's blocked me, other than my political opposition to her. I haven't been personally abusive.

@andrew_allison Have u been bombarding her though? U say not personally abusive which suggests abusive in non-personal way?

@KerryMP I've not even sent her a message. All I have done is disagree with her politically and state I think she does her job badly. That's politics.

That was the end of the conversation. I don’t know why some people get involved in politics. If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. Unfortunately, I am represented in parliament by someone who doesn’t want to enter into a debate. Instead, all she does is tow the party line, which has enabled her to be appointed an Under Secretary of State for Schools. To hear what she is like, listen to an interview she gave this morning to Andy Comfort on BBC Radio Humberside.  Scroll in 1 hour and 8 minutes.

Instead of addressing the concerns of the Headmaster of Beverley Grammar School (which is no longer a Grammar School in the traditional sense), all she does is come out with a tractor load of statistics.  I did listen to the whole interview in the car this morning, although I must confess my finger hovered more than once over the off switch.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

DVLA makes £43.9 million selling your personal details

If you want to be able to drive a car in the UK, you must apply for a provisional licence. This is the start of the paper trail DVLA in Swansea has on you. When you pass your driving test, buy a car and register it, DVLA must know about it. It even knows who you insurer is and your policy number. In other words, you have no option but to hand over all sorts of personal details to this particular government agency.

What then gives it the right to sell you details to other companies? None at all, but it does, and has made a healthy £43.9 million thus far. You would also think DVLA would be choosy who it divulges your information to. Wrong. Some of the recipients are dodgy car clamping companies.

Is there any wonder identity fraud is on the increase when a government agency isn’t choosy who it sells information to?

 

Hat Tip: Big Brother Watch

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The devastation and chaos in Haiti

To donate to the aid effort, click HERE.

Aid plane stopped from landing in Haiti

Medicins Sans Frontieres has issued a very angry press release. Apparently, one of its aeroplanes carrying aid into Haiti was prevented from landing by the US to make way for Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.

Why do politicians insist on disrupting aid efforts? There are professionals on the ground who can relay to national governments what is required in the way of aid. Just let them get on with their work. I also understand Hillary’s hubby is due to travel to Haiti too. Another photo opportunity there, which is all these visits are good for. It’s no wonder Medicins Sans Frontieres is so annoyed.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Nick Clegg is proving to be an effective leader

I haven’t had much time to blog this week. I have been busy working on a couple of campaigns and praying the sun will come out tomorrow, as we haven’t seen the sun in this part of the world for a week. If the weather forecasters have got it right, tomorrow is the day the sun will return. I hope so, as I am going to the Richard Horne testimonial game tomorrow. For those who haven’t a clue what I’m talking about, it is a testimonial match featuring Hull FC versus Hull Kingston Rovers. The sport is Rugby League and there is no love lost between the two clubs. It  should be a good day. I’m with the black and whites of Hull FC, before anyone asks. (Cue hate mail from those in East Hull)

Getting back to politics, I was rather impressed with Nick Clegg during this past week. He spoke sense. There are many policy aspirations a political party has. When you are faced with the dire economic situation engulfing us at the moment, many of those aspirations go out of the window. Compare and contrast with Labour who think we can afford to give new laptop computers to schoolchildren. We can’t. I suggested to a friend this was a direct bribe to Labour’s core voters. He thinks it’s part of the scorched earth policy of leaving the nation’s finances in the worst state possible when Brown & Co. leave office. Perhaps it’s a bit of both.

Nick Clegg is leading the Liberal Democrats well. He has one of the most difficult jobs in politics as leader of the main minority party. Yes, the Lib Dems are the second party in local government, but we all know after the next general election they are not going to become the official opposition in Westminster. I think the Lib Dems will increase the number of MPs though, probably by about 20-30. In key marginal seats where they are the main opposition to Labour, they are going to do well. Nick Clegg’s leadership will play a big part in this.

The next election is going to prove the most interesting one we have had since 1979. I can’t wait.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Trinity House School, Hull, starts fingerprinting students

From the Big Brother Watch Blog :

Just before Christmas, Tory PPC Andrea Leadsom wrote a guest piece about her discovery that schools were regularly taking the fingerprints of their students as a means of identification.

In her post, she said that she would be writing to her local council to ask that they reject any attempts by schools in her area to introduce fingerprint scans.

However, today we have been called by a supporter in Hull who has flagged that a school in his local area has begun gathering fingerprints despite the objections of the council leader.

As reported by the Hull Daily Mail:

City council leader Carl Minns has criticised Hull Trinity House School for installing a biometric fingerprint system for pupils to get their school meals.

Councillor Minns says it goes against guidance issued to schools by the council.

The school, in Princes Dock Street, city centre, started using the system this week. Cllr Minns told the Mail: "My principal objection is on the grounds of information security.

"At some point the school will have to store a child's data on a computer and if it is subject to hacking or proper security is not there, then once the data is out there, it is out there for life and you can't get it back."

In recent days Big Brother Watch has been encouraging its supporters to bombard several misbehaving local councils, so it is refreshing to see a council leader showing such commonsense and concern for individual privacy. 

Councillor Carl Minns we applaud you for this stance and we will keep our readers updated on the progress of the council in getting Hull Trinity House School to reverse its position.

By Dylan Sharpe

Sunday, January 10, 2010

How long is the queue to knife Brown?

Gordon Brown is not liked, not respected, not trusted and is unpopular. I’m talking about those who work with him, not the electorate, although I’m sure it can be said of them too.

Peter Watt’s latest revelations are another damaging blow for Gordon Brown. I don’t think this will be last knife to be thrust into the prime minster’s back before the next election. I think there is a queue in formation as I write.

Cameron on Marr

Today was David Cameron’s turn to be interviewed by Andrew Marr. I wasn’t looking forward to this interview. I feared it would be full of generalisations and he wouldn’t be specific.

He was better than I thought he would be. He detailed the help a Conservative government would give to small businesses, which included making it quicker to be able to start a small business and preventing private landlords forbidding people from running a business from their home address. For me, this is far too little.

I have argued the case on abolishing Regional Development Agencies before. Billions of pounds of taxpayers’ money has been thrown at these agencies and in every key performance indicator, they have failed. They have not reduced economic disparity between the English Regions, nor have they been drivers of economic change and the rate of businesses registering for VAT has slowed down since their introduction over ten years ago.

The Taxpayers’ Alliance has researched this subject and has recommended they be abolished and some of the money saved could be used to reduce the rate of corporation tax paid by small businesses. This would help entrepreneurs stay in business, encourage people to start-up their own business and help create more jobs. If David Cameron is serious, this is the sort of announcement he should have been making this morning. His announcements are welcome, but are not enough. He has to be radical.

At the risk of boring my readers, unless he proposes truly radical change, he will not seal the deal with the voters. Too many see him as Tony Blair Mk II.  Margaret Thatcher was elected three times because the voters trusted her to get on with the job. Many of them didn’t like her, but they still voted Conservative. Being touchy, feely is all well and good, but you want a prime minister to lead, be tough and not be frightened of being unpopular because of the hard decisions they have to make. A prime minister needs to be trusted and respected, not loved. Brown is not trusted or respected by the majority, but Cameron is not that far in front of him.

Tenants Services Authority cost us £38 million

Have you heard of the Tenants Services Authority? The chances you have not, but it costs the taxpayer £38 million. This Quango can hardly describe itself as a hub of activity. In its first year it managed to sort out just twelve complaints. The remaining 396 were passed to other organisations to deal with, according to the News of the World.

And how much does its chief executive get paid? A whopping £160,939, plus a £17,351 bonus! It’s clear this Quango is ready for the bonfire. The sooner, the better.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Hewitt and Hoon’s letter to Labour MPs

This is a copy of the letter Patricia Hewitt and Geoff Hoon have sent out to all Labour MPs. I’ve got this courtesy of ToryPolitico.

“Dear Colleague,

As we move towards a General Election it remains the case that the Parliamentary Labour Party is deeply divided over the question of the leadership. Many colleagues have expressed their frustration at the way in which this question is affecting our political performance. We have therefore come to the conclusion that the only way to resolve this issue would be to allow every member to express their view in a secret ballot.
This could be done quickly and with minimum disruption to the work of MPs and the Government. Whatever the outcome the whole of the party could then go forward, knowing that this matter had been sorted out once and for all.

Strong supporters of the Prime Minister should have no difficulty in backing this approach. There is a risk otherwise that the persistent background briefing and grumbling could continue up to and possibly through the election campaign, affecting our ability to concentrate all of our energies on getting our real message across.
Equally those who want change, should they lose such a vote, would be expected by the majority of the PLP to devote all of their efforts to winning the election. The implications of such a vote would be clear – everyone would be bound to support the result.

This is a clear opportunity to finally lay this matter to rest. The continued speculation and uncertainty is allowing our opponents to portray us as dispirited and disunited. It is damaging our ability to set out our strong case to the electorate. It is giving our political opponents an easy target.

In what will inevitably be a difficult and demanding election campaign, we must have a determined and united parliamentary party. It is our job to lead the fight against our political opponents. We can only do that if we resolve these distractions. We hope that you will support this proposal.

Yours fraternally,

Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt”

“70 million is too many” – a cross party group says

Whilst the main political parties squabble and score points from each other, a press release was issued today on immigration. Not from any of the party leaders, but from the Cross Party Group on Balanced Migration, headed by Frank Field and Nicholas Soames. Here is an extract:

"Poll after poll shows the public to be deeply concerned about immigration and its impact on our population. Yet, as we enter the General Election campaign, neither party has promised the British people that they will prevent our population hitting 70 million. It is time the parties turned their rhetoric into reality by making manifesto commitments to prevent our population reaching 70 million by 2029."

Immigration is a subject being talked about in pubs, workplaces and homes throughout the country. Hopefully this press release will jolt Messrs Brown, Cameron and Clegg into action. We need to have a balanced and adult debate about this issue. This is what the voters want. More HERE.

I’m sick of the so-called election campaign already

We’ve had four days of the so-called election campaign, and quite frankly, I’m bored with it already. Labour has been making promises it knows it can’t keep. The Conservatives put out the awful poster of an airbrushed David Cameron promising not to cut NHS spending (as well as been forced on the back foot over tax breaks for married couples) and Nick Clegg manages to get himself into a corner with Nicky Campbell on Radio 5 over whether he could say anything positive about the prime minister.

If this is going to be the standard over the next few months, I fear this election is going to a big ‘turn-off’ for the electorate.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

The Conservative Party’s uphill climb

Yesterday, David Cameron; today it was Gordon Brown’s turn to kick-off his party’s general election campaign. Contrary to other commentators’ opinions, I think the prime minister’s interview with Andrew Marr this morning was far from a disaster.

I know he was, in general, talking a load of rubbish, but it comes across as believable rubbish. We know the government is not going to half the budget deficit in four years, however, will the British public, who do not know the full extent of the crisis we are facing, realise that? In times of economic doom and gloom, the natural reaction is to look for hope. Brown states he has averted a devastating recession. Small businesses who would have gone out of business are still trading. Home repossessions are down. Unemployment would have been much worse if it was not for Brown. ‘We got it right’, he says, ‘and the Conservatives got every major call wrong.’

Is this is a message of hope? No. But it is a message saying if the other lot were in power, we would all be in a worse position than we are now. Brown went on to talk about fairness, making sure everyone in life has a chance. Does this push the right buttons for a floating voter? Perhaps and considering the Conservative Party has not ‘sealed the deal’ with the voters yet, if I was David Cameron, I would be worried. The electorate mistrust Brown. They want him out of power, but, and it is a big but, they are still not sold on Cameron’s Conservatives.

There is a long way to go before we all cast our votes. We have the prospect of the Leaders’ Debates, which will make a big difference. Perhaps Cameron will seal the deal then. If he doesn’t, I get the impression many people will look at the two main parties and think ‘better the devil you know.’ Worse still for the Conservative Party, they may cast their votes for minor parties and split the vote in key marginal seats, letting Labour in by the back door.

I have said many times before, the only way Cameron can get his party back into power is by being radical. The Conservative Party’s job between now and the election is twofold. It has to convince once and for all that the mess we are in at the moment lies at the feet of Gordon Brown. He has spent and borrowed recklessly. He has increased the size of the client state. If Labour get a fourth term in office, expect more of the same. The country will be bankrupt. Conservatives have to convince the voters under Labour inequality has risen. Education is being micro-managed with devastating effects. Despite spending on the NHS rising, our hospitals are failing. Brown did not offer any public sector reform in his interview today. Instead he reverted to his failsafe option that under a Cameron government there would be vicious cuts.

The Conservative Party’s second job is to convince the voters it has the policies to get Britain back on its feet again. It is not enough for David Cameron not to be Gordon Brown. For Cameron to become prime minister with a good working majority, he needs to prove he has what it takes. This is what he is failing on and as for policies, we can only hope the first part of the manifesto published tomorrow will give us some idea. I know what the vision is. I know what the party is not going to do. I also know some of the things the party will do, but I don’t know enough and more importantly neither do the voters.

The Conservative Party should be soaring in the polls. It is not. If Cameron cannot connect with the voters between now and the election, my view is we will have a minority Conservative government where nothing much is going to get done. This will not be in the best interests of the country.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Simon Heffer on Jack Straw

In today’s Telegraph, Simon Heffer reminds Jack Straw of a few home truths.  Here is an extract.

Since Labour has an election to win, and since if it doesn't win it Jack Straw will probably be a candidate to pick up the poisoned chalice of leading the party, it is little wonder the Justice Secretary has jumped on the police-bashing bandwagon. He knows most people only encounter the police when being stopped for a minor motoring offence, or when the police are failing to clear up a deeply distressing crime. He knows how dismayed the public is by stories in the media about the police pursuing people who (for example) express disapproval of homosexuals, while failing to pursue burglars. So, in the words of one senior officer who disliked Mr Straw's remarks, this was a cheap shot.

In fact, his comments were worse than that – they reeked of hypocrisy. It was in Mr Straw's four years as home secretary from 1997 to 2001 that the cancerous attitudes that have benighted our police really set in – and they were led from the Home Office. The police ceased to be a force and became a service. They ceased to be a crime-fighting operation and became instead an instrument for the imposition of political correctness. New Labour came in to power with a set of beliefs about minorities of all sorts, and sought to make the police the enforcers of that creed. The wheels fell off at that point.

It’s hard to disagree with him. Since coming to power, Labour has done everything it can to neutralise the effectiveness of police officers by creating more than 3000 new offences and giving them more burdensome and in many cases, unnecessary paperwork to complete.   Ministers praise the police when it is expedient for them and criticise them if they think they can get votes out of it.

To read the full article, click HERE.

Polly Toynbee’s message to the Labour Party

It’s not often I agree with Polly Toynbee. She is one of those people who has hypocrisy written all over her. She complains the rich are avoiding tax, even though the newspaper she works for has effective tax avoidance measures.

Forget all that. Today she has spoken some sense. In today’s Guardian she writes,

“The death-wish brigade will let Brown crash his party. As Labour skids downhill at breakneck speed, self-interest and old rivalries paralyse those who could yet slow the descent.”

To read the article in full, click HERE. For once, it is worth reading and it should not make your blood pressure rise. 

Cameron launches the Conservative Election Campaign

It’s January 2, and today David Cameron kicked-off the Conservative Party’s election campaign. On Monday, the first part of the manifesto will be published and no doubt Labour and the Liberal Democrats will be out of the blocks soon. I suspect the British (unlike the Americans who are used to long election campaigns) will be heartily sick of politics come the general election, whenever that will be.

Cameron’s big announcement was that he would invite the leaders of the other two main parties to sit in a war cabinet on a regular basis. He said this would not be every week, but it shows a Cameron government intends to get a consensus from all the main parties when the lives of our troops are at risk.

This – according to the Conservative Party - is the ‘year for change.’ This puts a positive spin on what will be, economically, a dire year. The country’s finances are in the most parlous state they have ever been in, however, Cameron will be doing all he can to convince voters life will be better under a Conservative government.

Time for change? Time will tell.

To read David Cameron’s full speech, click HERE.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Government spends £1 million on TV adverts

If you want to know where some of your hard earned cash goes after you hand it over to the government, here’s one of the answers. The government has spent £1 million on a TV advert to encourage us to use its services online. Read more about the story HERE.

Jack Straw’s attack on the police

Jack Straw should know better. He has been an MP since 1979 and started his ministerial career as Home Secretary in 1997. Saying ‘that some officers spun out paperwork so that they could stay in warm offices rather than fight crime on the streets’ is the cheapest of cheap shots. In many ways it is as true as it is cheap. You can say the same about every profession. There are lazy MPs, councillors, civil servants, teachers, nurses, doctors. The list goes on.

I have said before Tony Blair’s mantra of ‘Education, education, education’ in 1997 should have been ‘Legislation, legislation, legislation.’ Since this government came into power there are over 3000 more offences in Britain. Couple this with probably the most complicated and burdensome paperwork of any police force in the western world, it is hardly surprising many police officers feel disillusioned and lack motivation. Mr Straw should have thought about this before he opened his mouth. Once again this government shoots itself in the foot and gives its opponents more ammunition. If someone of Jack Straw’s experience can’t get it right, then their really isn’t much hope for the rest of them.

Predictions for Hull and East Yorkshire Parliamentary Seats

I am not going to attempt to predict the outcome of the next general election, but I am going to give you my predictions for seats in Hull and East Yorkshire. There are seven seats in total:

Beverley and Holderness (Conservative)

The constituency’s MP is Graham Stuart. Replacing the rather ineffectual James Cran, Mr Stuart has proved himself as a hard-working, popular local MP and will easily retain his seat and increase his majority. 

Brigg and Goole (Labour)

If the Conservatives are to stand any chance of forming a government, this is a seat that must be won. The current MP, Ian Cawsey, is holding on to a reasonably small   2894 majority, and it being pursued by Conservative, Andrew Percy. My prediction is Mr Cawsey will be looking for alternative employment after the election and Mr Percy will be the constituency’s MP.

East Yorkshire (Conservative)

This is a largely rural seat, encompassing the towns of Bridlington and Driffield. Even when times were bad for the Conservative Party, this seat voted blue. There is no doubt the current MP, Greg Knight, will be returned to the House of Commons.

Haltemprice and Howden (Conservative)

The seat, currently held by David Davis, is the safest in the country thanks to the by-election result in 2008. I’m sure readers will be aware that Mr Davis resigned as an MP to trigger a by-election after the government won a Commons’ vote in favour of 42 days detention without charge. As his main challenger, the Liberal Democrats, did not field a candidate, Mr Davis was returned to Westminster with a 15335 majority. In 2001, the LibDems nearly won this seat, but there is no doubt in 2010 David Davis will be re-elected as the constituency’s MP.

Hull East (Labour)

The seat, currently held by John Prescott since 1970, will have a new MP later this year. Mr Prescott is standing down and the Labour candidate is local man, Karl Turner. There would have to be a political earthquake for the people of East Hull to elect anything other than a Labour MP. This is as safe a Labour seat as you can get.

Hull North (Labour)

This is the seat everyone in political circles in the region is talking about. Diana Johnson has held the seat since 2005 and on paper it looks safe, but since the last election, Hull City Council has been in Liberal Democrat control. There could easily be an upset in this part of Hull and the LibDems will be pulling out all the stops to create an upset. This is the contest we are all looking forward to and currently, it is too close to call.

Hull West and Hessle (Labour)

This seat has been held by Home Secretary, Alan Johnson, since 1997. The former postman is a popular MP who has bonded well with his constituents. He will undoubtedly be re-elected and then who knows what is in store for him. For me, he is the best communicator Labour has and if anyone is going to get Labour back into shape again, it is Mr Johnson.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to all my readers. Politically, 2009 was certainly an eventful year. It was a year when the standing of politicians sunk to an all time low. It was a year when Douglas Carswell set the ball rolling and for the first time anyone could remember, the Speaker of the House of Commons was forced out. Michael Martin should have gone much earlier. He was never up to the job and his supporters knew it. Unfortunately, instead of electing a new Speaker for all the right reasons, MPs decided to be tribal and the result was the awful John Bercow, who I sincerely hope will not be Speaker after the next general election.

In the Autumn of 2007, there was election fever. This fever continued at various times through 2008 and 2009. At least we now know 2010 will be an election year and the good news is that Harriet Harman will be fronting the Labour campaign. Labour’s ability to shoot itself in the foot seems to be one constant brought into the new year. Instead of using someone who could connect with the public – the obvious candidate being Alan Johnson – Labour uses someone who manages to alienate the voters with every utterance she makes.

On a personal note, I hope 2010 is the year we start tackling the advances of the bully state. David Cameron and his team have promised much in this area, but the proof of the pudding is always in the eating. Oppositions are great a promising things. It is up to those of us to feel passionately about the erosion of liberty in this country to make sure Cameron sticks to his promises if he does become prime minister.

I also hope 2010 is the year the campaign for Britain to leave the EU gathers momentum. I also hope this is the year we finally start trying to get to grips with the public finances. All of this will not happen unless Labour is out of power. This is the decision the voters will have to make. What a year this is going to be.

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