Saturday, 25 December 2010

Happy Christmas

(image: Chris Maskell)

Friday, 24 December 2010

Political Bloggers Say Goodbye

Political bloggers say goodbye from Political Scrapbook on Vimeo.

And to those departed we can add from Reading, Tory Cllrs Dave Luckett and Emma Warman, Reading List, Lib Dem Park Ward, and almost as good as gone, Lib Dems Ricky Duveen, Glenn Goodall.

However, the past year has seen a new vitality on the left with significant contributions from Labour Cllrs John Ennis, Rachel Eden, Sarah Hacker and Chris Maskell, and activists Jan Gavin, Richard Mckenzie, Duncan Bruce and, er, me!

Newspaper Gets Hot Tip About Lib Dem Minister

Heard this earlier today.

A Lib Dem junior minister gets entangled in a Big Society embarrassment. Her interrogation by the journalist between 20.36 to 25.44 is a delight.

Typical BBC left wing bias I suppose - or just deliciously funny!


Thursday, 23 December 2010

Cameron & Osborne, You Can't Trust Them Say Lib Dems

The pantomine season really is in full swing with the latest Lib Dem Ministers (who we've never heard of before) giving vent to their true feelings about their Tory masters.

The Telegraph has done a great job of exposing the nonesense of this "brave coalition": the Lib Dems are being used to prop up a minority Tory government. That's why Cable wasn't sacked - if he'd been a Tory minister he would certainly have been kicked out.

So as Baker, Burstow, Cable and Heath all line up to whisper in little girls' ears "You can't trust the Tories", their closet Tory apologist, little mister Clegg runs to the front of the stage and shouts back "Oh yes you can!" They really are becoming more than a joke, beyond contempt.


Wednesday, 22 December 2010

The Sun Says: Labour Lead, Government Rating Falls

The latest You Gov poll in today's Sun says Labour is consolidating it's lead - and the approval rating of the coalition government has slumped to a new low of minus 19%.

Labour 42%
Conservatives 40%
Lib Dems 9% - yes, only 9%!

These figures could give Labour a 34 seat majority in a new parliament - any time the coalition falls apart or they recognise that they had no mandate to govern in the first place.

Homophobic Osborne Shows Tories Are Still The Nasty Party

It could have just been a bit of Westminster knock-about. But would George Osborne have called Chris Bryant a "pantomine dame" if he wasn't gay?

In the Treasury questions, former minister Chris Bryant had accused the Chancellor of taking delight in playing the role of “Baron Hard-Up”, the father of Cinderella. Osborne's response to Bryant was “At least I’m not the pantomime dame.”

Labour MPs called on Mr Osborne to withdraw the comment and Mr Bryant shouted that the remark was “homophobic”. After the Commons exchanges Mr Bryant, the MP for Rhondda, said “I don't think he would have said that phrase if I was not gay".

It seems so odd these days that with so many gays in the Tory ranks - just look at Reading Council - that these lazy insults are tolerated. When it really comes down to it, they are the same nasty party of old.

(photo: Guardian)

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

No One In The Coalition Will Trust Vince Cable Now

It is said that Vince Cable may be about to discover that his colleagues don’t share his views on his own importance.

The Prime Minister and his deputy will be asked at their next press conference variations of the question: should Vince stay or should he be sacked? Mr Cameron in particular will have marked Mr Cable’s card for blurting out that the PM plans to go back on his word on the winter fuel allowance (presumably already agreed with Nick Clegg and Danny Alexander).

Cable’s conceit is that without him the coalition is nothing: he believes he holds power of life or death over it.

Another point worth making is about the gap between private and public statements. The contrast between what Mr Cable says in public and what he believes in private is glaring - and he is embarrassed because he has been found out.

(photo: Anthony Devlin/PA)

Cameron Wants To Scrap Winter Fuel Allowance

Well, according to Vince Cable he does.

And while that may be taking things a bit far, the Lib Dem / Tory coalition are planning to make massive cuts and make people wait 6 years longer to get it.

Ministers have resolved to increase the qualifying age for the annual payment from 60 to at least 66, with talks are under way about an even bigger rise. The basic winter fuel payment, made to more than 12 million people, will also be cut by £50 for new recipients and £100 for the oldest.

This won't be Cameron's work alone - presumably Nick Clegg and cutter-in-chief Danny Alexander have agreed it too. It's now clear that you can't trust the Lib Dems and Tories on protecting the winter fuel allowance.


Monday, 20 December 2010

Mr Big: Vince Cable Says He Can Bring Government Down

So now it's out in the open. Vince Cable says he could bring the government down.

Some Lib Dems ARE uncomfortable with the compromises of coalition government.

Sadly, in Reading we have Kirsten Bayes and Daisy Benson slavishly following Clegg's lap dancing to Cameron's tune.

But then again, Vince Cable said he was proud of introducing the £9,000 tuition fees. Oh, and by the way, Cameron wants to scrap the winter fuel allowance for pensioners.

Going for the "nuclear option" Vince? I'll hold my breath while you keep dancing.

Lib Dem Leader Attacks "Laurel & Hardy" Tory Ministers

The leader of the Liberal Democrats in local government has written to Nick Clegg asking him to rein in two Tory ministers after they denied spending cuts would lead to job losses and service reductions at local authorities.

Richard Kemp, Vice Chair of the LGA and Chair of the Lib Dem Group, wrote to Nick Clegg saying he felt communities secretary Eric Pickles and Housing Minister Grant Shapps were failing to face up to the full effects of spending cuts. He accused the pair of behaving like comedy duo "Laurel and Hardy" and said their "behaviour is a disgrace".

Instead, Clegg has sided with his Tory coalition chums in Westminster - "These are Mr Kemp's personal views and are not representative of Liberal Democrats in Government" a spokesman for the Deputy Prime Minister said.

(photo: Alt Film Guide)

Up To 14

Adrian Windisch once again does the number crunching to produce the Berks Blog rankings for November 2010.

Given the well established competition, this blog may have peaked at 14, but who knows? It will be interesting to see what impact newbie Duncan Bruce has with his effort over the coming months.

(Image: Delicious Industries)

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Is Nothing Sacred? Vince Cable Admits Queen Could Disappear From Stamps

In their rush to privatise the Royal Mail, the Lib Dem / Tory coalition government has said that there is no obligation for a new owner to keep the monarch's head on British stamps.

The UK is the only country not to identify itself by name on our stamps, as the monarch's head is used as identification - which has been the case since the world's first stamps were introduced in 1840.

Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, has been forced to admit that discussions were taking place after he admitted that there was no specific clause in the Postal Services Bill, setting out the terms of privatisation, which would force any new owner to do so. The leading bidders in the sale are expected to be German and Dutch operators.

Last week Royal Mail announced it was putting up the price of a first class stamp from 41p to 46p from April next year, in an attempt to generate more revenues ahead of any privatisation. The universal delivery service to every home in the UK, no matter how remote, is also thought to be under threat.

Indy On Sunday: Labour Consolidates Lead

The latest ComRes poll for today's Independent On Sunday sees Labour consolidate it's small lead over the Tories - and the Lib Dems continue to shrink.

Topline figures are Con 37%(no change), Lab 39%(+1), Lib Dem 11%(-2)

The poll is very much in line with recent trends. ComRes, for some reason tend to report higher levels of other support than most other companies.

UPDATE: The weekly YouGov poll for the Sunday Times has topline figures of Con 39%, Lab 42%, Lib Dem 9%.

Of the last 6 daily polls, 4 have shown Labour ahead, one Tory lead and one tie – suggesting the underlying position with YouGov is a small Labour lead. Rogue polls and random sample error aside, it looks as though Labour are going to be ending the year ahead in every company’s polls.

Stop The Coalition Axe Falling On Schools Success Story!

Rachel Eden has highlighted the disgraceful decision to cut nearly £500,000 from an outstanding schools project in south Reading - and the disinterested response from the Lib Dem / Tory coalition council.

The local newspapers have also picked up on this issue, with the Reading Chronicle and the Post giving good coverage.

The coalition government is fond of telling us that "We're all in this together". For school kids and their parents in south Reading that isn't the case, as the government rips away this vital support and the council stands idly by.

More of the campaign and petition here.

(photo: Rachel Eden)

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Reading Transport Hub Bub

Going into Westminster for a meeting this morning I had to fight my way past a load of men in suits who were causing a pretty inconvenient nuisance of themselves in the main concourse at Reading Station, standing around in a circle slapping each other on the back.

Then it dawned on me that amongst this group were the council leader Andrew Cumpsty, his side-kick deputy Kirsten Bayes, transport spokesperson Richard Willis and the town's two MPs.

I can only assume that they were all gathered together to plan the next coalition transport cock-up, building on their early successes of:

- The Shinfield Road Roundabout Debacle
- The Willis Stealth Tax On Kerb Parking
- The Rethink On Charging £300 For Discretionary Parking Permits
- The U-Turn On Overnight Parking Meter Charges

I'm sure that this lot will be doing their best to maintain their track-record with the closure of Reading Railway Station over Christmas!

(photo: YulMok/PA)

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Colin Firth Drops Lib Dems

The Lib Dem's biggest celebrity supporter has ended his support for the party because he is "profoundly disillusioned" by their stance on tuition fees.

The actor, who played Mr Darcy in Pride and Prejudice and is nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance as George VI in The King's Speech, joined Clegg on the election trail in May. However, asked at the Dubai Film Festival if he continued to back the Lib Dems, Firth replied "I'm without an affiliation now."

(photo: Press Association)

Monday, 13 December 2010

Parking Charges Disappear Overnight

Goodness knows who is in charge of parking strategy in Reading, but they really do not know what they are doing!

Having brought in parking meters which operate 24/7 without any public consultation, so making overnight parking a misery and mystery to many, Reading Council's transport chiefs have been forced into an early humiliation, by reversing their policy after only two months.

This shocking, ill thought out plan is just systematic of a bigger problem: tinkering and blustering without a clearly worked out plan.

Shame on all concerned for this silly idea - witness the empty parking bays in the day, ticketed cars through the frozen windscreens over night and an increase in illegal parking in residents areas. You don't know what you are doing!

Instead of "responding to feedback" now (and wasting tax-payers money on having to make new signs) why not consult first? Will anyone accept responsibility? Don't hold your breath.

Perhaps we will see the Lib Dem / Tory coalition council begin to back track on other issues ...

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Lib Dems May Cease To Be

Influential and respected Tory blogger Iain Dale has this piece from the Sunday Telegraph on the future of the Lib Dems.

Dale comments: "It seems that the LibDems may soon be struggling for their very existence. And it may well be David Cameron who comes to their rescue and offers some sort of electoral pact. I genuinely think that is now a very real prospect, and for many Tories it will happen over their dead bodies."

I guess the Tories will decide how long they can afford to be dragged down by the weight of a Dead Parrot.

(Lib Dem logo: Tory Cllr Dave Luckett)
Original Dead Parrot sketch here.

Sunday Times Poll: Labour Ahead, Lib Dems Shrink To 9%

A poll in today's Sunday Times shows Labour with a 2% lead over the Tories, with the Lib Dems support shrinking to single digits.

The You Gov poll puts Labour on 42%, Tories on 40% and the Lib Dems on 9%.

Overall the rolling UK Polling Report has Labour on 40%, Tories 39% and Lib Dems on 10%, which could deliver a Labour majority of 10 seats in Parliament - and a rump of only 11 Lib Dem MPs.

The report also comments on other polling research showing that 46% of Lib Dem voters in Lib Dem seats are saying they are likely not to support the party in 2015, so suggesting that the Lib Dem vote in Lib Dems seats is not behaving drastically differently to elsewhere.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Tory Minister Resigns

David Willetts quit as a minister immediately after the publication of a report in which he was sharply criticised by the Tory-dominated Standards and Privileges Committee which examined the allegation that he attempted to subvert a parliamentary inquiry into the Neil Hamilton "cash-for-questions" affair.

The unanimous report said that its members "were very concerned that any member should dissemble in his account to the committee, and believe that this response by Mr Willetts has substantially aggravated the original offence".

Then Paymaster General, Willetts paid the price for writing an infelicitous memo and compounding the offence by misleading fellow MPs as he tried to talk his way out of his difficulty.

The extent to which the MPs doubted the accuracy of Willetts' evidence to them is shown by the fact that the committee later took the unprecedented step of requiring future witnesses to give evidence to them on oath. Willetts resigned on 11 December 1996.

Known as "Two Brains", David Cameron appointed him as his Minister of State for Universities and Science.


Friday, 10 December 2010

Clegg Paid £9,000 To "Hire" Crowd

News reaches us from Nick Clegg's Sheffield, courtesy of The Star - Serving South Yorkshire, that the Lib Dem's spent £9,000 hiring an outside company to find audience members to attend five of Clegg's "town hall" meetings.

Details have been released by the Electoral Commission for the bills paid for meetings between 10 April and 4 May this year. However, one invoice was halved because of the "poor response".

(photo: Lanson Boy)

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Coalition Impose Huge Fees Increase In England; Helps Overseas Students

Thanks to the Lib Dem / Tory coalition government, should my son decide to study at, say, Reading or Oxford University, he will face fees of up to £9,000 a year which when added to other living costs could mean at the end of his degree course he may have debts of £40,000 or more.

Should my Welsh nephew come to study with my son on the same course at the same time, the Welsh Assembly Government will cap his fees at £3,200, so reducing his overall burden by almost £18,000.

And should both my son and his Welsh cousin decide to study in Cardiff or Swansea instead, the same would apply - my nephew would face far lower fees than my son.

This is all so unnecessary. When I chose to go to university, my fees were paid and I even had access to a small grant, which I subsidised with temporary work. In return, I have paid more income tax through my working life than most of those I went to school with. In a civilised society, this is how I thought it would be.

Now, many would be students from modest backgrounds will turn away from the idea of a university education, and the Lib Dems and Tories will have had their way.

Then again, David Cameron did say in China last month that the sharp hike in university tuition fees in England would allow them to hold down charges to overseas students.


Lynne Featherstone: Shame On You For Turning Blue

Click to see this Guardian report on students dressed as suffragettes gathered outside the HQ of the Lib Dem Minister for Women and Equalities, Lynne Featherstone, to voice their concerns over tuition fee increases.

It had been rumoured that the MP for Hornsey & Wood Green would resign as Minister and vote against the fees increase: those hopes were dashed when Nick Clegg announced that all his Ministers would vote for the increase.

Kirsten Bayes: You Can Run, But You Can't Hide

21 weeks today will be Local Election day in Reading.

That's only 21 weeks left for Kirsten Bayes, Redlands Councillor, Lib Dem Leader and Coalition Council Deputy Leader, to enjoy her trappings of office, before voters in Redlands get our chance to express an opinion on the performance of the coalition government.

Thursday 5 May 2011 will see Cllr Bayes seen here on the left, with Tory Leader Cllr Andrew Cumpsty (photo: Reading Chronicle) and the Lib Dems being held to account for 12 months of broken pledges, U-turns and why they have acted as the poodle to a Tory Party in government which has relentlessly pursued it's own clear ideological causes.

Nick Clegg has told his party that the Lib Dems had to "own" the coalition with the Tories, take responsibility for all aspects of policy, including spending cuts which have "Lib Dem fingerprints all over them".

Kirsten, you can run for office, but you can't hide from the voters.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Lib Dem Education Minister Runs Away

Click for a rubbish production from Sky News - but an even more rubbish response from Lib Dem Education Minister Sarah Teather: the body language says it all - embarassment and contempt.

Despite campaigning against tuition fees, the Education Minister Sarah Teather refuses to say why she is now voting in favour of the university fees increase.

It's Not Just About Tuition Fees

With such a lot of attention being given to the planned hike in higher education tuition fees, the penny is just beginning to drop that the Lib Dem/Tory Coalition government's attack on education and young people goes much, much further.

Redlands' Jan Gavin highlights the scandalous and mean-spirited axing of the Education Maintenance Grants, which have proved vital life-lines for many poor families struggling to keep their children in school.

School Sports Partnership funds are also being abolished in their entirety, while thousands of youth careers advice staff have already lost their jobs since the coalition government came to power, at a time when one in five 16-24 year olds are unemployed.

A great summary of how the coalition cuts particularly hurt the young can be found here. Little wonder that more and more young people are becoming politicised and getting active on the streets.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Lib Dem Imposter Threatens To Resign Over Fees

With a rising tide of disenchantment over Nick Clegg's leadership, now even Lib Dem imposters are threatening to resign.

It was reported by the Evening Standard that Lib Dem MP Mike Crockart (a PPS to Michael Moore) had added his name to the dizzying list of those likely to defy Clegg's exhortations, saying "I will be voting against 100 per cent. I'm not going to be pushed out. Resigning probably will be the only option."

Mr Crockart was then interviewed on BBC Radio's World At One.

Later a spokesman for the Edinburgh West MP said "The quotes were from a random man, not Mike. They had somebody else's number against his name. Mike is still waiting to see what the final offer will be before he votes and that has always been our line."

Real MPs or imposters, they don't agree with Nick.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Lib Dems Clegg And Cable's "Chaotic Stance" And "Shambolic Row" Over Fees

It is said that John Cleese couldn't have made it up.

Here's the latest episode.

How can anyone have any trust in them ever again?

Friday, 3 December 2010

Lib Dem Vince Cable Admits He Will Vote For Increase In Fees

Lib Dem Minister Vince Cable has finally admitted that he will vote in favour of increasing tuition fees.

Mind you, that's a "Lib Dem pledge" so he could still change his position.

Lib Dem Minister Squirms On Question Time; Conference Cancelled

The Lib Dems have cancelled a conference due to take place in London tomorrow following threats of a student protest over tuition fees.

Meanwhile, Treasury Minister Danny Alexander became the latest Lib Dem MP to squirm and twist over how they will vote when the matter comes before Parliament later this month.

Commentators have described Alexander's performance on Question Time as "car crash tv".

Lib Dem Manifesto Sold Out

Heard doing the rounds in Westminster this week:

A caller telephones Lib Dem Headquarters in Cowley Street: "Can I have a copy of your manifesto please."

Lib Dem HQ: "We've sold out."

Caller: "Yes I know, but can I have a copy of your manifesto please."

Thursday, 2 December 2010

57 Varieties of Lib Dem Hypocrite

Steve Bell's cartoon almost says it all.

And for all of Nick Clegg's "high moral tone" to others, it's easy to forget that when the Lib Dems went in to the 2010 General Election they had 63 seats - then under Clegg's leadership, they ended up with six fewer seats.

We can see his leadership is taking them in only one direction.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Liar Liar

Saw this on the weekend - love it.

What does Clegg claim? "Putting Liberal values at the heart of Government". Yip, looks that way doesn't it.

Lib Dem Three Way Split On Fees

The Lib Dems look like they may be arriving at an incredible three way split when the vote comes to increase tuition fees.

Some may feel obliged that as ministers in the coalition government they are duty bound to vote for the policy proposed by Vince Cable - though he may not support the policy himself, despite saying that he was inclined to do so; others may abstain, citing the coalition agreement; while a third group may hold true to their pre-election pledge of voting against increasing fees.

What a shambles the Lib Dems are!