Saturday, 29 January 2011

Shameless Fib Dems At It Again

Walking with my family into town today I came across Cllrs Bayes (opposite) and Goodall distributing a newsletter from the Lib Dems - the first in quite a while.

Despite the improved appearance, it was still full of the usual disinformation and spin. Didn't they learn any lessons from Oldham East & Saddleworth?

Here are some examples:

Claim: "On Target for Council Tax Freeze" (next to a picture of Bayes - not the one used here - that looks like it has had the same "air brush" treatment as Cameron did in the General Election) forgetting to mention that every council has been offered a bribe to freeze council tax and cut services this year.

Claim: "Your Money Our Promise" which makes a potentially libellous statement (which I will not repeat here) about Labour Candidate Jan Gavin.

Claim: "Local Action on Empty Homes" has Daisy Benson praising the government, but makes no mention that the same Lib Dem supported government has curbed council powers to act on empty homes.

And so it goes on.

They didn't want to stop and discuss these and other issues. Redlands has a history of tossing councillors out of power - I increasingly believe that we will do the same to Bayes on 5 May.

(image: getreading.co.uk)

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Revenge Of The Parking Meters?

It's been clear for a while that the Lib Dem / Tory Alliance on Reading Council has badly mishandled the whole "kerb parking" issue.

Jan Gavin has summarised the sorry saga, which would be comical if put on the stage - a real farce!

In essence, first they say they want a borough wide ban, with a few exceptions determined by councillors in secret; now they say, that was never their intention!

However, so embittered by their failures, word has reached me that the Council leadership are now secretly planning on expanding the coverage of parking meters in Redlands - despite a clear assurance from the lead councillor to the contrary.

Cllr Richard Willis wrote on this blog on 4 October 2010:

"We are proposing a two year trial of the technology in the town centre only. IF that is successful then we will consider rolling it out to some other areas including the University and Hospital areas."

Working on plans to extend the scheme now seems a long way from a two year town centre trial and an assessment doesn't it.

Families Pay The Price For Banking Crisis

The Governor of the Bank of England Mervyn King said last night what we already know: working class people are paying the price for the bank-led financial crisis.

With unemployment, food and fuel costs spiralling, the hardest knocks are being felt by the poorest in our communities. And with no real pay rises of working families since 2005 and the standard of living plunging at as fast a rate sincc the 1920s things are set to get worse as VAT rises and job cuts kick in.

And for all Vince Cable and George Osborne's talk about reining in the bankers, they are left to collect their mega bonuses as usual.

Mr Cameron, when you sit with your millionaire friends around the Cabinet table, can you honestly still say that "We are all in this together"?

(image: courtesy of Chris Maskell)

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Labour Vote Increasing Across The Country

Labour has been doing relatively well in recent national opinion polls, but we all know that what really matters are real votes in ballot boxes.

So following on from the impressive victory by Labour in Oldham East & Saddleworth, it is interesting so see the progress the party is making in council by-elections across the country.

Last week in a safe Labour seat in Manchester (Baguley ward) the party's share of the vote increased to 71%, up 24%; Tories dropped by 5% to 11% and the Lib Dems crumbled 21% to just 4%.

In Kent (Tonbridge ward), which is rock solid Tory blue, the Labour vote also improved, replacing the Lib Dems in 2nd place. Result: Con 57% (+10%), Lab 22% (+13%) and Lib Dems 9% (-7%).

Even where the Lib Dems manage to hold on such as in Conwy (Marl ward), their votes are collapsing and Labour making strong progress. Result: Lib Dem 40% (-11%), Con 28% (+6%), Lab 22% (+14%).

All in all, these are encouraging results and as long as we continue to put the hard work in, we know that we will be in with a fighting chance of Jan Gavin retaking Redlands ward for Labour in Reading on 5 May 2011.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Cameron's Judgement "Deeply Flawed" In Phone Hacking Scandal

It had to come. It was always just a matter of time.

So what does it say about Cameron's judgement of hanging on to his spin doctor until it was completely untenable?

Top Tory commentators say it was "deeply flawed".

Coulson resigned from his position as editor of News of the World amid an investigation into illegal phone-tapping by his journalists in January 2007 - a matter still under review by the police.

He was appointed Cameron's chief spin doctor the following July and was paid £140,000 - just £2,500 less than Cameron himself.

(image: thisislondon.co.uk)

Monday, 17 January 2011

Daisy Benson Backs Post Code Lottery NHS

The coalition government's unprecedented scale and speed of NHS reforms will damage patient care according to a leading health care profession.

Phil Gray, Chief Executive at the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, was representing one of six health unions and professional bodies that have written a joint letter to The Times newspaper, published today, highlighting their concerns ahead of publication of the Health and Social Care Bill on Wednesday

The CSP has summed up the government's plans as follows:

"We are deeply concerned that the proposed shift to GP consortia-led commissioning may increase costs, fragment patient care and create an unacceptable postcode lottery of services across the country."(Para 1.1 in response to "Liberating The NHS")

What a shame then that in Reading Lib Dem Councillor Daisy Benson has rushed to back these changes so enthuiastically.

Top Tory Peer On Trial For Fraud



"Goodbye John" and "Put him in jail" they shouted as a top Tory peer arrived at Southwark Crown Court today, to go on trial accused of dishonestly claiming more than £11,000 in House of Lords expenses.

Lord Taylor of Warwick, full name John David Beckett Taylor, is accused of registering an Oxford property lived in by a distant relative as his main residence so that he could claim expenses on his own home in London.

It is alleged that the 58-year-old barrister billed the taxpayer for £11,277 in overnight subsistence and mileage when he actually lived in London.

Taylor stood unsuccessfully for the Conservatives in the 1992 general election in Cheltenham, losing to the Liberal Democrats in a campaign influenced by the issue of race. He was made a life peer in 1996.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Simon Hughes - What's He All About?

Now that the shine has been firmly wiped off Saint Vince and Clegg becomes more toxic by the day, the Lib Dems (and the Tories) have been trying to push Simon Hughes to the fore.

While it may be easy to forget his vacillation on tution fees, even a passing examination of his rhetoric exposes that things just don't add up.

The thing is, he's always been a bit vague.

(image: newstatesman.com)

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Reading Coalition Back Track On "Unsatisfactory" And "Confusing" Parking Scheme

The following was originally posted on 4 January 2011.

Now it seems that the Reading Lib Dem/Tory Coalition is back tracking on this scheme - and the planned report to next week's Cabinet meeting has been pulled off the agenda. What a way to run the council!


Original Post

The process to implement controversial Lib Dem / Tory plans to impose fines on householders forced to park their cars on the kerbs of pavements has been described as "unsatisfactory" and "demonstrated both confusion and a need for a clearer definition of what the exemption would be".

This official view by RBC came in response to questions raised concerning the rather secretive way that councillors were seeking to choose which streets would be included and others left out - without any opportunity for public comment. The deadline for councillors to respond ended last October.

The response also includes a comment worthy of a "Yes Minister" Sir Humphrey Appleby:

"In terms of public interest, and transparency, it is not considered that the public interest is best served through publishing an incomplete list of recommended roads or comments received from Councillors seeking clarification of the process being followed. Such a publication would likely to be misunderstood, and could cause unnecessary public confusion and anxiety, which would not be in the public interest."

This sounds terribly like "There, there, the council knows best."

The whole debacle returns to Cabinet on 17 January.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Coalition Go Soft On Empty Homes

The Lib Dem / Tory coalition government is going soft on the disgrace of empty homes. Under powers brought in by the Labour government, councils could intervene after a property had been empty for 6 months - now the government is extending that period to two years!

We've heard a lot from the Lib Dems about this, but as ever, it's nearly all talk. They don't seem to have much influence on the Tories if this is all they can come up with. This move is quite disgraceful and is a charter for bad landlords and property speculators, and will hurt local communities.

(image: getreading.co.uk)

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Message In A Bottle: Labour To Win

Tory Lord Ashcroft has published a poll for the Oldham East & Saddleworth by-election predicting a comfortable Labour victory this Thursday.

Voting intentions are Labour 46%, Lib Dems 29% and Conservatives 15%.

If this were to remain the same on voting day, it would represent a substantial swing to Labour from the Lib Dems of 8% since the general election. This would certainly represent a blow for Nick Clegg, who even moved the early date of the election in the hope of winning the seat - and the Tories doing little more than paying lip-service to the election.

I like this part of England, and have enjoyed many walks across the moors and fantastic curries in the town, so I was pleased to lend a hand yesterday - even in the mist and rain - helping to deliver Debbie Abrahams' "Message In A Bottle".

Friday, 7 January 2011

The Sun Says: How Low Can Lib Dems Fall?

Today's YouGov poll in The Sun reports the following voting intention figures:


Labour 43%
Conservative 39%
Lib Dem 7% - how much lower can a national political party poll?

This is the lowest Liberal Democrat score they’ve ever shown.

The coalition government’s net approval figure is down to minus 20 (33% approve, 53% disapprove), which is also the lowest it’s been since the election. The Lib Dems are probably dragging the Tories down with them.

Lib Dems Slump In Berkshire By-election

Support for the Liberal Democrats slumped in the first council by-election of the year last night.

The Tories easily held Park ward at Windsor & Maidenhead council with the Lib Dems haemorrhaging votes at yesterday's ballot.

And an 11% Labour surge saw the party miss second place by just seven votes compared with a margin of more than 500 in the 2007 main polls.

RESULT:
Con 637
Lib Dem 156,
Lab 149,
Ind 47.

(May 2007 - C 1098, 1046, Lib Dem 596, 575, Lab 72, 69).
Con hold. Swing 10.2% Lib Dem to Con.

(LibDem logo courtesy of Conservative Cllr Dave Luckett)

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Clegg's Lib Dems Seen As Conservative-Lite

John Curtice, professor of politics at Strathclyde University, describes that the costs and benefits of the coalition as being distributed very unevenly between the two parties in it - with the Lib Dems paying the cost of propping up a Tory Government.

“It is clear that the tone and direction of the Coalition Government has upset many people who voted Liberal Democrat in May, and before, while for the most part those who voted Conservative have been reasonably content with what has transpired.” said Prof. Curtice.

With public support for the Lib Dems slumping to just 8%, which would wipe out 2/3rds of their MPs, Clegg and his cohorts are increasingly seen as merely "Conservative-Lite".

The Sun Says: Labour Lead, LibDems Down to 8%

The latest You Gov poll in the Sun says Labour continue to lead - and the Lib Dems slipping even lower to 8%.

The approval rating of the Tory-led coalition government continues in the doldrums at a low of minus 19% (33% approve and 52% disapprove).

Labour 42%

Conservatives 40%

Lib Dems 8% - yes, believe or not, only 8%!

These figures could give Labour a 34 seat majority in a new parliament.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Reading Street Parking Changes "Unsatisfactory Process" - Official

The process to implement controversial Lib Dem / Tory plans to impose fines on householders forced to park their cars on the kerbs of pavements has been described as "unsatisfactory" and "demonstrated both confusion and a need for a clearer definition of what the exemption would be".

This official view by RBC came in response to questions raised concerning the rather secretive way that councillors were seeking to choose which streets would be included and others left out - without any opportunity for public comment. The deadline for councillors to respond ended last October.

The response also includes a comment worthy of a "Yes Minister" Sir Humphrey Appleby:

"In terms of public interest, and transparency, it is not considered that the public interest is best served through publishing an incomplete list of recommended roads or comments received from Councillors seeking clarification of the process being followed. Such a publication would likely to be misunderstood, and could cause unnecessary public confusion and anxiety, which would not be in the public interest."

This sounds terribly like "There, there, the council knows best."

The whole debacle returns to Cabinet on 17 January.

Monday, 3 January 2011

The Big Lib Dem / Tory Lie About National Debt

The Lib Dems & Tories keep lying to us about the national debt. And they are using it as the excuse to pursue their political agenda to cut public services.

Thanks to Adrian Windisch for high-lighting the excellent False Economy site which gives the true picture. Part of the coalition narrative is to call it public sector debt - even though it was caused by bailing out the private sector banks - so justifying cuts to public spending.

The Only Way Is Up


Under the Lib Dem / Tory coalition government:

* fuel prices are up to an all time high - with more to come in the spring
* train fares are up again, even though they were already the most expensive in Europe
* VAT is going up tomorrow
* Tuition fees are going up
* Inflation is up
* Unemployment is up

It's under their watch.

And when national and local coalition voices say we have to endure these things while they "clear up the mess left by Labour", they don't want you to remember that:

* Labour had cut the level of borrowing and debt inherited from the Conservatives in 1997
* going into the banking crisis, the UK had the second lowest debt of the G7 countries
* bailing out the private bankers was supported by the Lib Dems & Tories

Now the poorest are left to pick up the bill, while the Lib Dems prop up a Tory government and join in making unnecessary and unfair cuts.

Sunday, 2 January 2011