Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Don't Let Clegg Put You Off AV

Ed Miliband has urged people not to make the forthcoming referendum on voting reform for Westminster elections a referendum on Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

The Lib Dem leader is so unpopular he is now seen as a liability for the campaign. Mr Miliband said "I urge people to look beyond particular individuals, and vote in the national interest".

He was joined on the platform at Westminster Central Hall by Green Party leader Caroline Lucas, former Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy and Lib Dem president Tim Farron.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Green Council - You're Having A Laugh!

With apologies to my friends in the Green Party, but any claims the Lib Dem / Tory Coalition Council may wish to make about being a "green council" vanished today with the arrival of their letter demanding a payment for the future collection of green bins.

This is nothing less than a green tax of the worst kind!

Cllr Sarah Hacker has the details, but essentially it's phone now to cancel, but be quick - 0800 834 035 - or else pay up later, at £22.50 per bin.

They say, as an alternative their ending the free kerbside collection, we can all drive our green waste down to the council's waste centre: start your engines and form a queue here! Very green!

Sunday, 27 March 2011

The NHS Is Not For Sale

The sentiments are spot on ... even if I might have used a slightly different vocabulary.

Seems the only people in favour of the NHS changes are the Tories, propped up by Clegg's Lib Dems nationally and locally.

Pass it on ...

Saturday, 26 March 2011

When Is A Cut To Winter Fuel Payments Not A Cut? When Calamity Clegg Thinks So

Nick Clegg was left embarrassed after denying that the coalition had made cuts in pensioners’ winter fuel payments in the this week's Budget.

Clegg had claimed that the coalition had increased winter fuel payments, despite the Treasury confirming they will be cut. Under plans confirmed earlier this week, pensioners will lose up to £100 in winter fuel payments this year, designed to help them heat their homes while domestic fuel bills are rising.

The payments have been renewed in every Budget since 2008, in the face of high oil prices. The elderly have been able to claim £250 towards winter fuel bills, while those aged 80 or over could claim £400. This year the payments will be reduced to £200 and £300 per household.

When asked about the cuts Clegg initially dismissed questions as “wild allegations” made by Ed Balls, the Labour shadow chancellor. Clegg said of Mr Balls: "Honestly, I don't know what he's on about. He keeps sort of throwing around a lot of sort of wild allegations ... we have increased winter fuel payments.”

But s spokesman for Clegg later clarified the position:

"The changes to winter fuel payments were not technically a "cut," but instead a decision not to continue what had been intended originally as a temporary measure."

That "Yes Minister" type logic would be funny if it wasn't so hurtful to many pensioners who struggle to meet the high cost of heating their homes.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

RBC: Swaine Guilty Again, Willis "Misleading & Inaccurate"

Standards in public life have been dragged further into the mire as the latest decisions of Reading Borough Council's Standards Sub-Committee have revealed.

At it's meeting on 3 March 2011, the committee - which has an independent non-councillor chair and was attended by a councillor from each of Labour, Lib Dems and the Conservatives - concluded that:

"Cllr Swaine's behaviour had breached the Member Code of Conduct" and instructed the Monitoring Officer to write to Lib Dem Cllr Warren Swaine "to explain that his language had been gratuitously offensive, and disrepectful to others; and his serious allegation of bribery unfounded and un-substantiated, and had brought the council into disrepute and had compromised the impartiality of employees of the council."

Cllr Swaine was also told that "He must desist from this behaviour and remove offending comments from his blog with immediate effect."

The committee was also to seek further advice about "the language and tone" of Cllr Swaine's blog and twitter sites.

At the same meeting, the committee asked the Monitoring Officer to write to Conservative Cllr Richard Willis "to explain that (they) had found his blog site comments to be misleading and inaccurate" and "to tell him that in future he should not make or publish material that was un-substantiated".

Cllr Willis was also to "remove the offending comments from his blog site with immediate effect".

DPP Asked To Investigate Redlands Lib Dems

Solicitors acting for the Association of Labour Councillors have written to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) asking him to carry out an investigation to determine whether any criminal act has been committed in the publishing earlier this year of a Focus on Redlands by the three LibDem Councillors for Redlands Ward. The DPP has a duty to do so under Section 181 of the Representation of the People Act 1983.

In their letter Steel and Shamash Solicitors say that they had previously written to the persons responsible for the leaflet asking them to retract an attack on Labour’s Jan Gavin - which they say is “totally false” and contravenes Section 106 of the Representation of the People Act 1983. There has been no response to that letter.

The Act says that anyone who before or during an election publishes a false statement about a candidate is guilty of an illegal practice; that if a candidate guilty of an illegal practice is elected then their election may be declared void; and that others guilty of an illegal practice may be barred from elective office and even from voting.

Labour Group Leader Jo Lovelock, who contacted the ALC following recent attacks on the Council’s “facilities agreement” with the trade unions, says: “The original false allegations regarding the secondment of Council staff to represent the workforce on a range of issues was one of the worst attempts to smear the Labour Party locally that I have seen, but the attack on Jan Gavin takes this to a new low and we have no choice but to ask for this to be referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions.”

Friday, 18 March 2011

Reading Lib Dems: Flaking & Wobbling

Come the local elections on 5 May, Redlands Lib Dems are bound to pop up with a leaflet quoting last year's result, which saw them win with 1,867 votes to Labour's 1,105 (difference 762 votes). However, that may be true - but not honest.

2010 election day was, of course, also the day of the general election, which significantly distorts local voting numbers.

A like for like comparison of local election performance should really be based on the results from the 2008 local elections, when the Lib Dems won with 927 votes to Labour's 736 (a difference of just 191 votes).

It's no secret or great political wizardry to suggest that if Labour's Jan Gavin picks up as few as 96 former Lib Dem voters, then Kirsten Bayes is in trouble. In truth, the gap to be closed is quite small. And with a reinvigourated local organisation in Redlands behind her, Jan and her campaign team are quite capable of doing just that and more.

Jan and her team (of which I am proud to be a member) has certainly been getting a very positive response on the door step - a quote from one resident last week "I was one of those fools who voted Lib Dem last year: never again!".

In fact, I hear today that Lib Dem councillor Glenn Goodall is already talking openly of not even trying to fight for the seat in 2012 if/when Bayes is beaten on 5 May. It could be a smart move for Goodall to retire undefeated - ask Epps!

More than that, I also understand that Tilehurst Lib Dem councillor Chris Harris is also going wobbly in the face of a challenge from Labour's popular former Mayor and experienced ex-councillor Rose Williams.

Well, no one should ever take anything for granted in public elections - we don't.

With recent Lib Dem / Tory tweets proclaiming "seems like Redlands maybe lost along with Katesgrove" and requests going out for outside support with delivering their leaflets in these wards, should Tilehurst be added to the list?

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Flashman, Bagman & Axeman

"A bullying PM, his hapless lieutenant and a rapacious chancellor. Excessive cuts may and should prove the Government's undoing."

Daily Telegraph, 15 March 2011

Thursday, 3 March 2011

What's The Point Of Vince Cable?

Vince Cable used to make big promises - but now, following his foolish need to impress two unknown young women, he's no longer taken seriously and largely retreated from the limelight. It's seems such an age away since he was touted as the "People's Chancellor".

But along the way, let's recall some of his hubris:

The Business Secretary said he would:

"Go to war" to stop Murdoch taking a bigger share in BSkyB TV. Ooops, that didn't work out well did it.

Force the nationalised banks to lend more to help the economy as he said "The state-owned banks have no excuses. They don't need to worry about their reserve ratios: they can't go bust, they are owned by the Government. There is no reason whatever they shouldn't be adopting expansive lending policies".
Erm, not much sign of that.

Break up the "casino banks" who were too big to fail.
Nope, not happening.

Curb the bankers' "ludicrously distorted" bonuses.
No, not managed that one either.

Called for public spending cuts to depend on the state of the economy "If there is strong recovery, then we should speed up the cuts, if not then we should wait".
The cuts are front loaded and the economy is shrinking.

Not to mention his flip flopping and finally selling out on tuition fees.

Vince Cable - what's the point?

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Dead Man Walking - Swaine Out Indefinitely

I hear today that there's no way back for Warren Swaine and that he will have the Lib Dem whip removed from him for good.

It is said that far from a 14 day or even a 14 week ban as I reported earlier, he has been suspended indefinitely.

Not by the local party, of course, as they didn't have the guts to do it - or perhaps they don't agree that Swaine should have been suspended: either way, they're not saying. Perhaps they would like to say.

Now with Katesgrove Lib Dems in disarray, I suspect they will give up and put all the efforts they can muster into trying to save Kirsten Bayes' neck in Redlands - where, frankly, she too is another Dead Man Walking.

Well, we've been expecting this for months.

65 days to election day - bring it on!

Lib Dem Melt Down In Katesgrove: Epps Not To Stand (Now It's Official) & Is Swaine's Ban 14 Weeks (*)

Gareth Epps (second left in the picture) has finally confirmed that he will not stand for the Lib Dems in Katesgrove in the council elections in May. Here's his official confirmation.

I did originally post this back in November 2010 when it was quite clear that Cllr Epps was moving further out of step with the local Lib Dems. At the time he denied it so I was happy to repeat his assurance a few days ago.

So he has now come clean about not standing: with a national position within the Lib Dems, it would have hurt his political reputation if he had been defeated in Katesgrove, as was looking very likely.

Meanwhile it is being suggested that Warren Swaine has been suspended by the Lib Dems for 14 weeks - and not the 14 days originally reported. (*) Updated: See Dead Man Walking

However, Kirsten Bayes and the local Lib Dem leadership have kept an embarassing silence on the matter. If true, it would mean that Cllr Swaine would be out in the cold until well past the local elections in May ... would he still be allowed to canvass on the Lib Dems' behalf while suspended?