Saturday, 30 May 2009

Purnell wants your money for Labour

I seriously doubt that Labour now has more than 150,000 voting members - that is, members not more than six months in arrears with their subs. The big donors are running away, since the exposure of the cash-for-coronets scandal, and it's looking increasingly likely that Labour are set to become a minority fringe party funded by the Co-op and the Unite union.

So, what to do in a democracy when no-one likes you, people don't want to join your party, no-one will donate their money to you and your party is on the verge of bankruptcy? Apart from accept the will of the electorate and fade way, of course.

Why, dip your thieving hands even deeper into our taxes! If you're James Purnell, that is.

The answer Mr Purnell is over my dead body. I am a moderate chap, but any attempt to alter the current Bill to include State funding for your dying, corrupt little party will bring me out onto the streets in real fury. I am prepared to break the law on this issue.

Friday, 29 May 2009

Another sign that this government has lost all moral authority

Did the horrid Tesco run today and couldn't help but notice yet another sign that this doomed government has lost all moral authority.

Remember a few months ago all the threats to clamp down on supermarkets selling cheap booze? Ministers on the TV promising to 'beast' the chains if they dared defy the whims of the alcohol Tsar? Well, it worked for a while and the offers disappeared or became much less compelling. But no more.

Stella Artois 5% on sale at £10 for a slab of 20 440ml tinnys. There's nothing more to say, really. Except, er, well done Tesco.

Now for the parties

I've lost count of the number of times over the past three years on this blog that I've seen this political reform coming; something as momentous as the reforms of the 1820s and 30s, I've said. But I never imagined that an expenses scandal would precipitate it. But let's not imagine that big bang Localism alone - again constantly advocated here - will be the end of it.

Attention will now start to shift to the state of the parties. With an electorate in the UK of 45m, the combined membership of the three main parties barely exceeds 450,000, or 1% of the electorate. The Conservatives alone lost over a million members from 1979 to 1997. The current sleaze scandal will see more members lost by all parties, but perhaps more from Labour than the others.


For local
government elections in May 2010, it's doubtful that the main parties will have sufficient willing members to stand candidates in every ward being contended; this is already the case right now, and will get worse. Local papers are already doing a series of mini-Telegraphs on their local councils' expenses. Yet with the planned return of power to localities, the job of local councillor will become more important than ever. And with the freedom to ditch the discredited Cabinet system imposed by the 2000 Local Government Act, councillors are set to exercise more real power across the board rather than just a favoured ten in each authority.

These factors, I think, will lead to a real reform of the party system from the grassroots up,
rather than from the top down.

The Catholic church (Roman and Anglican both) has been so successful because it has allowed local cultural traditions to survive in a broad interpretation of doctrine; voodoo, animism, pantheism have all been absorbed into local Catholic ritual - even in this country, where we now imagine that the Celtic paganism that lies behind our religious orthodoxy arrived with the founding Saints, rather than awaiting them here.


The need for political groupings on local councils will not disappear; a council chamber full of unaligned independents cannot govern effectively. That's not to say that Labour, the
Conservatives or the Lib Dems have any a priori claim to this, but that a broad umbrella political grouping could shelter and support a number of councillors who are not necessarily party members. A Tory majority group in mid-Suffolk could be as different from a Tory majority group in Eccles as a Catholic mass in Guatamala is from one in Cameroon.

So what will become of the big, central, Statist parties with their hunger for vast sums of cash?
Given that the public mood has now turned unequivocally away from any suggestion of State funding, that will be the $64,000 question.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

D-Day - just for the record

The 6th June 1944, despite what Mr Spielberg may imagine, was, by a small margin, a British and Canadian event. That is to say, of the invasion force, some 53% were Brits and Canucks, some 46% were Septics and less than 1% 'others'. Including three or four Frenchies in a mixed Commando unit. In fact, more Poles landed on the shore of Normandy on 6th June than Frenchies.

So no surprise then that the Queen, as Head of State of both Britain and Canada, should not be invited to attend. Unlike Sarkozy and Obama, she actually served in the military in WWII. And her family home was bombed, whilst Msr. Sarkozy's forebears were no doubt pimping for the Gestapo in Sardinia.

Of course that dribbling idiot Gordon Brown has muscled himself in, two days after his political death. There he will stand, rendolent of failure, the UK's worst ever Prime Minister, whilst Sarkozy and Obama edge warily away from him in case it may be catching, a spectre at the feast.

Our veterans want someone, anyone, that they can march past for the last time in their lives and salute. The most junior subaltern would do, I suspect, so long as he carried the mark of the Queen's commission. But I do so hope beyond hope that one of our serving Field Marshals turns up uninvited in full rig and jumps up on the podium to take the salute of the last of the men who were ready to lay down their lives to rid Europe of Nazism.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

If boring were an Olympic sport, Waite could bore for Britain

The thought of being incarcerated in a Beirut cellar for years on end I can just about bear. The thought of being trapped in one with Terry Waite would, I'm afraid, drive me to offer myself voluntarily to my captives to have my head sawn off with a blunt breadknife. Nice bloke but God can he bore.

Now we learn that he is thinking of standing for Parliament. Nadine should get on the case right away. If there were one cause for Parliamentary mass suicide it would be this - the thought of Waite winning a ballot for a private members bill. And speaking to the chamber.

Harman must be proud: The women are as bent as the men

Troughing is certainly proving to be an equal opportunities occupation. I haven't counted them, but there seem to be as many women as men troughers in Parliament; indeed, where men have foolishly tried to claim for 'toys' such as duck islands, it's been the female MP troughers that have racked up the biggest gains in expenses fraud.

I can therefore proclaim this a triumph for Ms Harman, and be certain that we don't have to bend the system to create special theft, fraud and peculation opportunities for female MPs.

Thank goodness there's some small comfort to come from all this.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

I am so hungry for change I could weep

David, if you're asking me to trust you - and I've never, ever, trusted a single politician - be sure you can deliver what you promise. In the dark winter days of November last, I penned a plea from my heart for the new nation I wanted to see - the Britain I want to live in. I repeat it in full below.

Our next government - it could be you!

This blog has devoted many thousand words to excoriating Labour's dismal record on just about everything they've buggered with their clumsy touch. Our international relations, our economy, our society, our people, our children, our security, our democracy and our well being have all been diminished by Labour's zealous stupidity. But there is one thing they cannot foul - our future. Every single inanity and ineptitude of the past eleven years is reversible, even the EU Constitution.

Our future government will throw out a coruscating rainbow of hope and freedom as the drear iron shackles of the Labour State are struck from our wrists and ankles and this country can once again breathe freely in the clear upland air. Bill will follow Bill, tumbling through the legislative stages, rolling back Labour's intrusive State, returning authority to families and intermediate institutions, returning power and accountability to local government, giving communities control of their policing, offering a life and a future to Labour's five million Welfare slaves.

Our future government will heed the hunger for political reform and recognise that central parties allied to a central State have corroded our democracy to the point of failure; around the nation a thousand gardens will bloom as local associations are rejuvenated and invigorated, as career politicians and blow-in apparatchiks are sent packing, and as ordinary people who make a good job of running their own lives take control of formulating policy and pushing it upwards. Instead of fifty party experts in central office, five thousand policy experts in our shires and villages and in our towns and suburbs will try and test, formulate and pilot, policies and processes that can be adopted across the nation.

Our future government will recognise that the core functions of government, maintaining the defence of the nation and a framework of law, are amongst the very few functions that can only be exercised collectively at national level, and that nearly every other collective function must be devolved to the lowest tier that can effectively exercise it. They will recognise that this is not only the most effective and economically efficient, but also the most democratically healthy way of carrying out collective functions.

Our future government will not allow the unrealised potential of our people to be wasted locked into Welfare slavery, deprived of the dignity of work, alienated from the security of belonging. Ours is one nation, and membership is open to all our citizens - rich and poor, black and white, hindu, moslem or athiest; one nation with shared values and with cultural congruence, a rich and nutritious dish in which pinches of subtle spices from around the world are blended with traditional British beef to create a superlative feast.

We have the chance to reform a Britain we don't want and don't like, a Britain that Labour have fouled and damaged with their well-meaning stupidity. We have the chance to trust ourselves, to reverse Labour's utter distrust of anything but the central State to do good. We have the chance to take up the benison of responsibility, and grow in personal stature as we learn that we, and not the State, can do it all.

Before long, we'll have the chance to make these changes at the ballot box. The nation is hungry for reform, ravenous for change. We want our lives back. We want our security back. We want the State out of our bedrooms, our kitchens and our living rooms. We want all that power returned that Labour has stolen like a sneak-thief from us all. We want our nation back.

Edit
====
Just listened live to Cameron's speech. Stunning.
11.50am

Cameron - I'll wait for the full text

The teaser in the Guardian this morning by David Cameron promises something momentous, but I'm not going to go off at half-cock on this. He's delivering the full speech later today and I'll wait for that.

However, looking at Direct Democracy's manifesto, long advocated here, there are hopes rising in my breast ....

I - Decisions should be taken as closely as possible to the people they affect
II - Decision-makers should be directly elected
III - Citizens should be as free as possible from State coercion
IV - Local authorities should be self-financing
V - Policing should be brought under local democratic control
VI - The State should fund, rather than administer, education
VII - The State should fund, rather than administer, healthcare
VIII - Taxes should be simple, fair, transparent, efficient, competitive and low
IX - The supremacy of Parliament should be guaranteed over ministers, judges, officials and foreign treaty obligations
X - Candidates for public office should be selected from the widest possible base

Monday, 25 May 2009

Hot air, spin and a media strategy from the political class

After the entire political class was caught on the back foot by the expenses furore, the spinmeisters are now taking charge again. Ed Miliband and Alan Johnson must share the same media trainers, who would have advised something like:
Don’t try to explain it away. Explanations sound like excuses, and the public isn’t interested. They’re only interested in action. Don’t look backwards - the media will always have 20/20 hindsight vision. Look forwards, place yourself at the front of the fight to reform a rotten system. And in case there’s a skeleton, or even a small metatarsel lurking in your cupboard, say you’ll put money aside to pay what isn’t allowable once the new system is agreed and in place. And don’t, please don’t sign a cheque for £40,000 to pay back maintenance work on your moat. (Media Mentor)
So Miliband and Johnson throw a red herring of radical reform into the ring knowing full well it hasn't a hope of being considered before the next election, but it does the job of distracting the news media and puts them on the track with Gordon in the more-radical-than-thou media race.

Meanwhile Richard North over at Eu Referendum accuses Cameron of a snow job on reform. I'm not so sure. Unlike Miliband or Johnson, Cameron's limited proposals are realistic and workeable and could be in place fairly quickly. Cameron, in other words, unlike Miliband or Johnson, could be genuine rather than playing out a media strategy.

There is a creeping suspicion that Labour's media strategy - keep blaming the system, don't admit guilt, don't sack anyone, don't pay anything back and promise unrealistic radical reform - may be beginning to work. The Labour spin machine must be giving off smoke as they desperately try to regain the front foot. But will the news media be smart to Labour's spin strategy, or just ride the spin as the BBC is content to do? It's a huge gamble, and could well rebound on them.

Damian Green denied vote on his DNA sample

No charges were ever brought against Mr Damian Green MP, yet Jacqui Smith wants to hold onto his DNA sample for six years 'in case he offends again'. And to ensure that not only Damian Green but every MP in the House is denied the chance to have a say on this, she's proposing to use a Statutory Instrument.

Words fail me in describing the utter moral bankruptcy of this government.

Telegraph spotlight turns to office expenses

With their trawl through MPs' Additional Costs Allowance seemingly past its peak, the Telegraph is now looking at MPs' claims for office expenses. Now is the time when all those Inner London MPs who didn't claim ACA anyway start to worry.

Already it seems the usual suspects - Darling, Blears, Hoon and the rest in the Cabinet have illicitly claimed for personal tax advisers. Filthy scum.

However, I thing the Telegraph's a bit off-beam in criticising the purchase of digital cameras on office expenses; evidence of potholes in the road, or leaking classroom roofs, or dirty hospital wards for inclusion with an MP's letter to the council / education authority / NHS trust seems pretty reasonable to me, so long as under about £250.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

The choices for democratic renewal

It is deeply to be wished that the national conversation will move to choices for democratic renewal over the next few weeks and months, or if not the national conversation then at least the online conversation. For when the campaign has been fought, we need an agenda. Brown is working on some risible National Five Year Tractor Plan which will no doubt sink without trace like all his other plans. We can ignore Brown. I offer the following as my own view on the choices that should be under consideration; this isn't a political manifesto, and these are cross-party constitutional issues:-

IN FAVOUR

1. A Boundary Commission 'big bang' change - A Commons stabilised at around 550 seats, down from the current 646, for the UK would give an electoral quota of around 82,000 electors per constituency. Many English constituencies are already operating above this level - including the Isle of Wight at 108,000. Many Scots and Welsh constituencies are way below - the worst has only 22,000 electors. A universal electoral quota should apply across the UK, unlike the separate quotas for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as at present. See this post for more information. Changes should all be in place by the next-but-one Parliament - 2015 or so.

2. Fewer ministers and government jobs for MPs - One of the most pernicious effects of the corruption of Parliament by a political class who see politics as a 'profession' is the undignified scramble by MPs for place and position under government. The parties have created ever more government jobs as bribes to their own side, and to silence dissent in the House. Fewer jobs means a more independent Commons, and if government starts to devolve power should not be hard to implement.

3. End the guillotining of legislation - Ill-considered and rushed legislation is worse than no legislation at all. Both houses need time and resources to fully consider new Bills. The simpler the Bill, the less Parliamentary time it will need - a good check on a deeply corrupt civil service who now 'gold plate' every draft Bill with provisions that increase incrementally the power and control of the State.

4. Greater power and status for Select Committees - these should carry the real power and authority of the House. If MPs aspire to anything in the Commons, it should be a job on a select committee, not a ministerial post.

5. Increased Commons decision making over domestic and EU legislation - All EU legislation should be debated in the House, not hived off to an obscure committee that no-one has heard of. Fewer decisions should be delegated to ministers by Bills, the use of regulations (Statutory Instruments) should be curtailed and the issue of 'Statutory Guidance' by civil servants that effectively has the force of law should be stopped altogether.

6. Restore PM's questions to two fifteen minute sessions on Tuesday and Thursday - A single weekly appearance in the House by the PM is not enough. This signals not only greater accountability to MPs by the Executive, but 'pins' the PM to the Commons rather than to the news studio.

7. Constituency power to recall their MP - the bar should be set high enough to prevent frivolous or vexatious attempts at recall, but not so high that a cogent and compelling widespread loss of support for an MP by their constituents cannot be remedied. Despite California having had this power since 1911 they have only used it once - to dump the corrupt Gray Davis.

AGAINST

1. Proportional Representation - I still think first past the post is the most stable and sustainable electoral system. PR also leads to the anathema of closed party lists - the parties deciding the order in which their candidates will take seats, and deprives voters of a direct link to a local MP.

2. Fixed-term Parliaments - I'm deeply instinctively against these, despite the arguments that this would weaken a government's power. The aim of constitutional reform is not to create a strong Parliament and a weak government, but a strong Parliament and a strong government. Determining the date of an election is one of the power balancing factors that should remain with the government.

There. I think that's enough for now.

What sort of example are you giving, Gordon?

Another young black boy lies cold in the mortuary today as we enjoy the sunshine. At 17, he was on the cusp of getting his franchise; he may perhaps even have voted at the next general election. We don't have to wait for the prosecution of the murderer of Jahmal Mason-Blair to know why he was killed; he lived in a culture of drugs and gang-turf and bling, a culture of material possessions and instant gratification in which young boys are wounded with knives for trainers or a mobile phone.

And the good, the socially responsible and the concerned amongst us have sought to counter this by-product of consumerism in our daily lives in the classroom, or on the pages of a blog, or from the pulpit, or by talking to our children. Our message is simple;
honesty and hard work bring greater rewards in the long run, criminals get caught and pay the price, virtue is not only its own reward but brings respect and status. Keep on the straight and narrow path, work hard at school and the world's your oyster.

And this in part explains the anger against thieving and corrupt MPs. You are supposed to be the best amongst us, role models for our young, who epitomise those moral lessons we disseminate. What the Hell hope have we of being heard when you are so mired in filth and corruption?

Cameron at least is fighting back by sacking the most venal of his MPs. But what message is Brown sending to every hard working and upright parent in Britain by retaining not only in his Parliamentary party but in his cabinet for God's sake a cabal of thieves, liars, cheats and peculators? Every day that these criminal scum retain their ministerial portfolios is another slap in the face to every decent, honest and upright citizen of this realm.


Gordon, you have betrayed us all. Hoon, Blears, Smith and Purnell are sending a clear message to the teenage drug dealers, robbers, muggers and murderers on our streets - that greed is good, that bling is the thing, and that you
can get away with crime.