Monday, 29 March 2010

I've said it before - The Daily Telegraph is Writing Tory Policy

Previously on these (hopefully more visited) pages I have stated that Telegraph Journo Andrew Porter's writings today often become the Tory Policy of tomorrow. So The Labour heirarchy should not have been surprised by George (Boy) Osborne's announcement on National Insurance this morning.

Porter said it first in a piece on 24th march after the Budget;

"Mr Osborne must now move to outline how he will halt the planned rise in National Insurance. His nervousness in revealing plans needs to be overcome."

For more see this link;

Is Osborne's Tax Cut A Vain Bid To Save His Own Skin?

Is our Boy George seriously thinking that the way to tackle the public debt is a tax cut? Or is he putting forward this "barmy" proposal in order to shore up his stock with grassroots Tories?

It's no secret that the Boy George has suffered his critics over the past few weeks, Tory Journos in the Mail and the Telegraph have been on the attack saying that he is not up to the job. Dave has even been moved to state, just before a general election no less, that he would sack Boy George if he had to. The Tory Big Beast, Ken Clarke has been pushed to the fore on economic issues as Boy George's stock has been falling......what does an oik do in these circumstances, come out fighting with a policy that's bound to please that's what!

We all know that the Tories will always cheer tax cuts to the rafters, but right now after all the ire heaped on the Government for allegedly not tackling the deficit quickly enough?

Looking through Dave's speeches on the issue I am particularly drawn to the one he made on 23rd November 2009, just after the Queen's Speech;

Under the imposing headline "David Cameron: Tackling the deficit is not an alternative to economic growth" our Dave goes on to state;

"They've got to put an end to the politics and electioneering - like last week's Queen's Speech, which contained billions of pounds of unfunded spending commitments...

...and put the country first.

That's what the Conservatives are doing.

Today, we're in the extraordinary position of having a government that is behaving like an irresponsible opposition...

...and an opposition that is behaving like a responsible government."

It's nice to see that the Tories have regained the mantle of "irresponsible opposition"

So why this and why now? Is it a case of the Tories electioneering, yes would be the obvious answer, but an alternative would be that this is Osborne's last chance, pandering to the Tory Party rather than the electorate, in order to shore up his own position within his own party.

Electioneering in the run up to a general election can be forgiven. However, electioneering by putting forward policies which are in direct conflict with what you have been arguing for months in order to head off criticism from your own ranks is irresponsible beyond belief.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

George Osborne - In The Shadows Chancellor?

When I started doing this blog I didn't expect the first posts to be dominated by the one and only Boy George. The Tory's Invisible Man.

We've just had the last Labour budget before the general election and try as I might, I just can't find Georgy Boy anywhere - surely this was his opportunity to shine, to put the salient points, the put Darling to the sword.... but no. Anyone who watched the budget may recall seeing a boyish looking oik sat next to Dave, gurning occasionally, pointing and guffawing, and , for the most part, having a look of total confusion all over his face.

If you look hard you may find a video of our George on The Blue Blog.... and also on a Tory website wanting your ideas for responding to the budget - because obviously he has none of his own.

A strange day for our Georgy Boy then.... oh wait a minute, he's just appeared on the Conservative website - at midnight on the day after the budget........says it all really.

Monday, 22 March 2010

George Osborne & The Missing Link - So Now We Know

A belated explanation from on the hastily deleted link some 8 days ago which called on Osborne to resign (see my earlier post here The interesting point would seem to be censorship, but more interesting to me is why it took so long to make this admission? Interference from CCHQ or Boy George himself perhaps......

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Same Old Tories?

I was going to do a blog post on the recent Tory air-brushing out of non-white candidates in wards in the London Borough of Barking & Dagenham, and then do a bit of commentary on Dave's attempts to modernise his party and the grassroots response - etc etc... but this blog beat me too it....well done guys!

I even chose the same blog heading ......great minds and all that.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

The Words " Piss Up" & "Brewery" come to mind....

Tory Candidates and MPs seem to be complaining that the Tory campaign is er.....

"...complicated", "..vague" and ...."random"


No wonder many commentators are predicting a 1992 election scenario. If the Tories can't get their act together on policy issues then why should the electorate trust them?

I suppose this is not surprising as Oliver Letwin (or the "mad professor") is in charge of Tory Policy...

Let's have a look at their policies a little more closely.

The Tory Policy on technology proposes the creation of "..a government skunkworks"...interesting.

In the Tory Rail Review - "getting the best (sic) for passengers" they say;

We also believe that establishing a regular forum attended
by key decision-makers in Network Rail’s regional team
and the operators of open access, freight and passenger
services in the relevant area could also promote
partnership working and help coordinate work on issues
such as customer service, passenger feedback,
performance improvement, project delivery, safety issues
and punctuality. We considered carefully whether such
arrangements necessitated new legal structures but prefer
the less formal approach of the “virtual regional boards”

So, er....that's clear then....well virtually

And on crime - whilst the Tories bang on about CUTTING PAPERWORK for the Police they go on to say;

So we will oblige the police to publish detailed local crime data statistics every month

So er... more paperwork then....

No wonder one Senior Tory MP said it was "pretty uninspiring" will be

It's the Economy Stupid!

Will the Tory's campaign on the economy be totally undermined by ....the economy. It would seem so on the good economic news this week. Unemployment figures are down, borrowing figures for February are substantially lower than most economists were predicting and January's figures have been revised downwards as well. An analysis of the figures show that part of the turnaround is due to the taxes on Bankers Bonuses! Also, mortgage lending showed an increase in February. On top of that Nissan announce major investment in their business in Sunderland.

On the back of this good economic news it is not surprising that the Tories have switched their attack to other areas of policy and George Osborne having consistently called every major economic decision wrong is absent from the Tory campaign again......

Monday, 15 March 2010

Tax Payers Alliance & The Tories on Public Sector Non Jobs

I see the tax-payers (Tory) alliance have done a spoof of the excellent UNISON advert about job cuts in the public sector, but of course, the tax payers alliance talk about non-jobs in the public sector asserting that "There are plenty of non-jobs in the public sector" and stating that money can be saved whilst nit affecting essential services.

Interestingly this is their list of non-jobs in the public sector; interestingly when you look at the jobs below the following themes are obvious

  • anything involved in Green Issues, biodiversity, sustainability etc...a non job
  • anything to do with healthy living, healthy schools etc.. a non job (Jamie Oliver will be pleased!)
  • If you're involved in PR, media, communications, marketing're not worth a bean.. a non-job
  • Cultural activities, the arts, drama...all non-jobs
  • If equal opportunities and equalities is your bag, forget it, the Tories will sack you - you're in a non-job!

Mind & Nutrition Leader
Media & Corporate Communications Officer
Police Authority Press Officer
Enviro-Crime Enforcement Officer
Diversity & Inclusion Manager
Play Strategy Manager
Healthy Schools Adviser
Head of Low Carbon programme
Head of Communications
Media Adviser
Totem Pole Artist
Personal Best Adviser
CCTV Enforcement Manager
Community Space Challenger
Senior Play Ranger
Tobacco Alliance Co-ordinator
Sustainability Events Officer
Gypsy & Traveller Liaison Officer
PR & Marketing Specialist
Street Football Co-ordinator
RDA National Evaluation Manager
Biodiversity Officer
Environmental Arms Length Body
Marketing/Audience Development manager
Equalities Project Officer
Dance Development Officer
Cultural Officer
Neighbourhood Co-ordinator
World Cup Co-ordinator
Resident Involvement Manager

Whilst we can all have a chuckle at some of these titles these are real people making a difference in communities, usually poorer communities (Healthy schools etc...).

Once again we see the Tory battle cry in full flow - if you're disadvantaged, poor or marginalised in society, you're on your own mate!

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Tories and Telegraph pushing Sam Cam as Cameron's "secret weapon"

Both Matthew D'Ancona (arguably the journalist who gets Cameron more than most) and Andrew Porter The Telegraph's Tory front line journo are both pushing the TV interview with Samantha Cameron tonight as continuation of the "brand detoxification" of the Tory party.

It is interesting that both journalists are keen to push Cameron's wife to the fore of the election campaign - Indeed, Porter seems to have his finger on the pulse of the Tory campaign and if he prints it, it usually happens.

How should Labour respond? Of course it would be suicide to attack Mrs Cameron herself, and rightly so, particularly as Mrs Sarah Brown has also entered more into the limelight herself, with great success. So how to handle this personalisation of Dave and his image?

Stick to Policy? yes, of course, there is growing evidence that the voters still don't know what the Tories stand for....

Do a "Demon eyes" kind of campaign? Behind smiling Dave there is a hoard of unreconstructed right-wing barbarians waiting for their chance to pounce....this is essentially the "Same Old Tories" argument which does chime with the electorate.....

But what about doing.......nothing, and maybe even complimenting the Cameron's on their obviously close relationship and their love for each other.........this is what they want to portray and who can (or should) argue with that.

Governing the country is a serious business and having a happy and stable family life will no doubt help, but does it amount to a great hill of beans....honestly?

Both D'Ancona and Porter say that elections are won with the heart first and then the head.....Labour should respond to this with their heart - and show the electorate we have one too.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

George Osborne and the Missing Link

For the sake of party and country, Osborne should resign as shadow chancellor

This is a link on PoliticsHome PRO, supposedly on - but can I get to it....NO.

Tories Support Tax Cuts - but only if they benefit Higher Earners

Guido Fawkes continues to amuse and amaze with his razor sharp analysis of policies, but through his posts you can tell where the real Tory heart lies - giving tax cuts to those who earn more, rather than trying to help those at the bottom of the income scale. For example, his latest take on The Fabian’s Tim Horton and IPPR’s Howard Reed who have jointly authored a paper for Left Foot Forward on the case for raising tax thresholds on low income earners as put forward by the Lib Dems.

Whilst his analysis here some merit, his reasoning for his critique is that Labour would not support such a policy of lifting the lowest earners out of tax altogether (as the Lib Dems propose) because the result would be that people who earn more would benefit too.

In a time when all parties will be scrutinising tax and spending policies over the next three years to the nth degree I, personally, find it reassuring to know that Labour would choose only to pursue policy alternatives which genuinely help the poorest in society. When there is so little money to go around it would seem sensible that policies are targeted specifically so that they do not lead to increased expenditure in - or reduced income from - other areas.

Political arguments about the welfare state, dependency and whether one should be giving the poorest a hand up or a hand out are irrelevant and a diversion, but as ever the Tory line is clear, whether it is on Inheritance Tax or Income Tax, their policies will always benefit the better off, even when they actually try to argue the opposite!

Friday, 12 March 2010

The Young Britons' Foundation....For Men Only?

Good grief, I would urge all of you to have a look at this charming little site, the Young Britons Foundation championed by Eric Pickles and many other Conservatives. The Guardian covered their activities and some of their activists on 6th March here

Surprisingly, they failed to pick up on one thing, the organisation seems to be exclusively male...I've looked at the site, every single Board member, every single member of staff listed on the site, every single speaker, every single parliamentarian...all blokes!

Don't believe me then have a look for yourself here

Of course, many of us will have views on the YBF, but here is one we can all agree on, this is a boys club.....Cameron has obviously got some way to go on all women shortlists.

One last aside, a tweet on the site implores its members to "Know your enemy" to read material and blogs etc. that you don't necessarily agree with, so that you know what your enemy is up to

As the YBF themselves put it;

"It is imperative to be as well read as possible – not just so that you know what your opponents are up to but also to get you sufficiently angry and motivated that you remember why it is you do what you do."

So to all the women out there - I hope you are motivated, I hope you are sufficiently angry and I do hope you remember why it is you do what you do.......

More on Osborne...He's Getting Pushed Out

Further to yesterday's post on the Tory's weakest link, Boy George has seen his stock drop even further as the Tory "machine" gears up for the final putsch.......

If his own bloody party are shoving him into the backroom, what confidence will the electorate have in him?

Ken Clarke is to "fill the gap" that Osborne leaves....

Thursday, 11 March 2010

George Osborne - The Tories Weakest link?

A lot on the web today with twitterings etc about Boy George's appearance on BBC 5 Live with Victoria Derbyshire this morning. Will have to give it a listen when it comes up on iplayer, but should confirm what many inside and outside the Tory party agree - he is their weakest link.

For more see this coverage at the Telegraph;

Workers' Memorial Day - It's Official

The UK will officially recognise Workers' Memorial Day to commemorate thousands of people who have died, been seriously injured or made ill through their work, Cabinet minister Yvette Cooper has announced.

Welcoming the decision to give the government stamp of approval to the annual 28 April worldwide event, TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "This special day commemorates the many thousands of people who have died as a result of their work and we're pleased the government has taken the step of recognising it. Workers' Memorial Day has been an important date in the trade union calendar for many years and we look forward to working with ministers to increase its profile."

Announcing the move, which followed a government consultation, work and pensions secretary Yvette Cooper said: 'This is a tribute to all those who have campaigned long and hard, including bereaved families, trade unions, campaign groups, and many other organisations and individuals. For the first time, the UK will join countries across the globe in remembrance of all those killed at work and for the families they have left behind, and the many more who have been harmed. It is also a spur to greater efforts to improve health and safety for today's and tomorrow's working population.' As part of its support for the 28 April event, the government will encourage commemorations to be held on the day throughout the UK, with ministers committed to help support and promote these commemorations. Workers' Memorial Day is when workers around the world remember the dead and campaign for improved workplace safety to protect the living. To mark the day this year, the TUC is calling for a minute's silence in workplaces up and down the country at noon on Wednesday 28 April.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Clegg - The Heir to Thatcher according to the Spectator

Just as I have always thought. Clegg does dress to the right on far too many issues for my liking. I remember when I was deputy leader of Newark & Sherwood district Council and I took part in Southwell Minister School's 6th Form debate - Clegg was an MEP then, I remember thinking, this guy is 1) ambitious, 2) clever, 3) too right wing to be a Lib Dem

I wonder how my old employers at Chesterfield Council view him - Clegg and Paul Holmes MP couldn't be further apart on some policies - mind you , that's never stopped the Lib Dems before.....

Max Clifford drops News of the World phone hacking action in £1m deal

One has to ask is the News of the World spending this amount of money protecting itself or the Tory Party? I don't know. Is there going to be a big bust up during the general election campaign which may embarrass the Tories and/or Andy Coulson? Will the News of the World settle any more claims that may come? Again, it's anybody's guess, but its going to be interesting watching this unfold....

Daily Mail on a Rant Again

I see the Daily Mail is on its anti-public sector workers rant again today. what the article fails to state (of course) is that prior to 1997 we had a shortage of teachers/nurses etc etc because public sector pay had fallen so far behind. The Labour Government has simply sought to redress this imbalance. Why anyone working in the public sector would buy the Daily Mail is beyond me......

NHS - Saving Lives in Nottinghamshire

Good story on the BBC website about obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) However the article is misguided, certainly in my experience, to suggest that "...Britain has yet to wake up to the dangers of obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA)."

In this regard, and as a sufferer, I have to take my hat off to my local hospital trust, Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust I was referred there by my GP some 18 months ago as he suspected I was a sufferer from sleep apnoea and after attending the Sleep Clinic this was confirmed. Since then, apart from trying to loses a little weight (which would help) I have been given a C-PAP machine to wear at night when I sleep

The difference has been astounding, and has resulted in increased energy levels and increased ability to concentrate, less irritability etc etc. As, as I drive a lot in my job it has removed the risk of falling asleep at the wheel.

Sleep apnoea is dangerous, and I would urge anyone who tends to drop off, regularly, on the sofa in the evening to seek a diagnosis. It could save your life. I, for one, am pleased that my local hospital is a leader on this front.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Polls Polls and More Polls - Do We Need Them?

By the time we get to the General election no doubt the country would have had its fill of opinion polls and predictions. What are the electorate to make of all the polling that goes on - do the polls lead opinion as some think, or are they just a snapshot of the views of the electorate at a particular point in time? Should the UK consider a ban on polls like some other democracies do? Of course, there would be advantages and disadvantages to such a ban. The advantages would include the fact that political journalists would have at least 50% of their material removed from them at a stroke. What would they do with their time? Perhaps more in-depth interviews would be undertaken with local candidates, perhaps there would be more in-depth discussion with the electorate? Policy might be analysed with more vigour? With more space and airtime available how would an election be covered in the absence of any opinion polling, say for about two weeks? Interesting....