Saturday, 29 October 2011

Euro Bail Out: An Explanation

More money for the banks, essentially, and hoping that Europe will be saved by the Chinese or Aliens.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Sharma: Can't Wait For Your Next Campaign

Sharma: Despite This Publicity Stunt, He Didn't Vote For A Referendum

In a massive humilation for David Cameron, a record number of Conservative MPs rebelled against the government and voted for an EU referendum. In all, 79 Tory MPs voted in favour of an EU referendum while a further two were tellers.

A list Tory MPs who voted for a referendum:  Stuart Andrew (Pudsey), Steven Baker (Wycombe), John Baron (Basildon and Billericay), Andrew Bingham (High Peak), Brian Binley (Northampton South), Bob Blackman (Harrow East), Graham Brady (Altrincham & Sale West), Andrew Bridgen (Leicestershire North West), Steve Brine (Winchester), Fiona Bruce (Congleton), Dan Byles (Warwickshire North), Douglas Carswell (Clacton), Bill Cash (Stone), Christopher Chope (Christchurch), James Clappison (Hertsmere), Tracey Crouch (Chatham & Aylesford), David Davies (Monmouth), Philip Davies (Shipley), David Davis (Haltemprice & Howden), Nick de Bois (Enfield North), Caroline Dinenage (Gosport), Nadine Dorries (Bedfordshire Mid), Richard Drax (Dorset South), Mark Field (Cities of London & Westminster), Lorraine Fullbrook (South Ribble), Zac Goldsmith (Richmond Park), James Gray (Wiltshire North), Chris Heaton-Harris (Daventry), Gordon Henderson (Sittingbourne & Sheppey), George Hollingbery (Meon Valley), Adam Holloway (Gravesham), Stewart Jackson (Peterborough), Bernard Jenkin (Harwich & Essex North), Marcus Jones (Nuneaton), Chris Kelly (Dudley South), Andrea Leadsom (Northamptonshire South), Jeremy Lefroy (Stafford), Edward Leigh (Gainsborough), Julian Lewis (New Forest East), Karen Lumley (Redditch), Jason McCartney (Colne Valley), Karl McCartney (Lincoln), Stephen McPartland (Stevenage), Anne Main (St Albans), Patrick Mercer (Newark), Nigel Mills (Amber Valley), Anne-Marie Morris (Newton Abbot), James Morris (Halesowen & Rowley Regis), Stephen Mosley (Chester, City of), Sheryll Murray (Cornwall South East), Caroline Nokes (Romsey & Southampton North), David Nuttall (Bury North), Matthew Offord (Hendon), Neil Parish (Tiverton & Honiton), Priti Patel (Witham), Andrew Percy (Brigg & Goole), Mark Pritchard (Wrekin, The), Mark Reckless (Rochester & Strood), John Redwood (Wokingham), Jacob Rees-Mogg (Somerset North East), Simon Reevell (Dewsbury), Laurence Robertson (Tewkesbury), Andrew Rosindell (Romford), Richard Shepherd (Aldridge-Brownhills), Henry Smith (Crawley), John Stevenson (Carlisle), Bob Stewart (Beckenham), Gary Streeter (Devon South West), Julian Sturdy (York Outer), Sir Peter Tapsell (Louth & Horncastle), Justin Tomlinson (Swindon North), Andrew Turner (Isle of Wight), Martin Vickers (Cleethorpes), Charles Walker (Broxbourne), Robin Walker (Worcester), Heather Wheeler (Derbyshire South), Craig Whittaker (Calder Valley), John Whittingdale (Maldon), Dr Sarah Wollaston (Totnes)

Two Tory MPs acted as tellers for the rebels. They were Peter Bone (Wellingborough) and Philip Hollobone (Kettering).

Two Tory MPs voted in both the Aye and Noe lobbies, which counts as an abstention. They were: Iain Stewart (Milton Keynes South) and Mike Weatherley (Hove).

Two Tory MPs notable for their absence from this list: Alok Sharma (Reading West) and Robert Wilson (Reading East).

We can't wait for Sharma's next campaign. Honest.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

We’re Sick Of You Telling Us What To Do

”We’re sick of you criticising us and telling us what to do. You say you hate the euro, you didn’t want to join and now you want to interfere in our meetings” the French leader President Sarkozy told Mr David Cameron.

All this while the Conservative Right rues Cameron's broken promises.

He promises one thing and does another. His own party sees it. Conservative lite has lost its fizz.

Eventually everyone else will see it too.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Europe: What Will Sharma And Wilson Do?

Another Sham Campaign From Sharma?

Our two local Tory MPs have been only too happy to demand a referendum over Europe in the past.

Now, safely ensconced in the rag-bag coalition government (albeit at the lowest level of the greasy pole) what will they do next week when the Prime Minister is facing a significant rebellion among Conservative MPs over his order that they should reject a Commons motion calling for the first popular vote on Britain’s relationship with the EU since 1975.

Will they be caught saying one thing and doing another? We'll see.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Cumpsty Out

Cumpsty and Luckett look for Plan B in Caversham
Local Tory Leader Andrew Cumpsty told last night's full Council meeting of his intention to stand down as leader of the Conservative group.

In perhaps a telling turn of phrase, Andrew thanked his friends on the council "many of whom are in the Conservative Group".

In my opinion and experience Andrew is a decent bloke, ill served by the warring factions in the local Conservative Associations.

The fact that his rag-bag coalition with the local Lib Dems was booted out of office after only one year, despite the national bribe of a council tax freeze, shows the lack of real political strategy or understanding.

The idea of pouring resources into Battle ward last May was one visible example of cluttered thinking, but perhaps that wasn't his decision.

Tory Richard Willis and Lib Dem Glenn Goodall were notable absentees for the statement last night. The pair obviously had more important things to do than be at the council meeting.

Logo courtesy of Dave Luckett

Andrew's statement was met with warm applause from all around the council chamber.

He must know, however, that Caversham is now vulnerable to a resurgent local Labour Party already doing great work on the ground and that his fellow Tory Dave Luckett will probably lose his seat next May. Expect Andrew to bow out gracefully long before the 2014 election.

One comment Andrew made last night did make me and others laugh: his observation that in five years as Tory leader, he had worked with four Lib Dem leaders!

'Nough said.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Fighting For Redlands

Tony Jones: Local resident with huge experience
Redlands Labour Party has selected me to be their candidate at the May 2012 council elections.

I have lived here in Redlands Ward in Morgan Road for over 15 years, with my wife Liz and three children.

Some will remember that I represented Redlands Ward as a councillor during the 1990s. In that time I was instrumental in winning Government funds for a major regeneration of the Hexham Estate that included the building of the popular Hexham Community Centre and children’s play area, as well as helping to win important traffic safety improvements.

I also led the highly successful campaign which opened up over 500 empty homes across the town.

My community roles have included being a school governor and serving on the university council. As Mayor of Reading, I raised a record-breaking sum of money for local children in need and other charities.

I am grateful to Redlands Labour Party for giving me this chance to work alongside Jan Gavin. Since she was elected last May Jan has shown what a difference a Labour councillor can make to an area. I trust my energy and experience will continue to build on her good work for the benefit of all residents in Redlands.

With 28 weeks to go to election day I know that I'm in for a tough fight. But we managed to pull off a magnificent victory last year and there is no reason, with a lot of hard work, we can't do the same again in 2012.

2011 Result in Redlands
Labour 1,295 votes
Lib Dem 757
Cons 526
Green 345

More about me here.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Huhne: Energy Prices "Relatively Good" As 70% Struggle To Pay

Lib Dem Huhne: energy prices are relatively good
Lib Dem Energy Minister Chris Huhne said today that UK electricity and gas prices are "relatively good".
Huhne has previously blamed lazy consumers for high energy bills because they fail to shop around for the best deals.

He also said energy companies were “not the Salvation Army” and that “We expect them to earn respectable returns for their shareholders."

This is in stark contrast to the Prime Minister David Cameron ahead of the energy summit, noting that energy bills had increased by more than £100 for most people since this summer, as energy suppliers profits were eight times higher than last year and a new report which suggests that seven in ten consumers will need to turn to their savings, credit cards or overdraft to fund rising energy bills - not that multi-millionaire Huhne is likely to be one of them.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

This Would Be Funny If ...

Liam Fox and Oliver Letwin - shambles at the heart of government
... it wasn't for the fact that unemployment in Britain has jumped to its highest level since 1994, with young people and women hit hardest as private companies fail to make up for job losses in the public sector, while the economy is teetering on the brink of recession again as consumers tighten their belts and key export markets slow down, particularly in Europe.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Parking Mad

Sharma Attacks Coalition Decision
Here's a story of the Reading West MP attacking his coalition colleagues on Reading Council and showing his ignorance all at the same time!

Alok Sharma has finally woken up to the fact that the Lib Dem/Tory gang who briefly ran the council managed to slash residents parking permits by half LAST January, replacing the 20 all-day permits offered free to residents each year with 20 half-day vouchers.

The Labour run Council has since doubled the number of free half-day permits available a year to the 12,000 people living in residents' parking zones from 20 to 40.

The Tory MP said residents were concerned about the lack of consultation by the Lib Dems and Tories over the January change from all-day permits.

I guess Sharma must have finally held a surgery to wise up to the changes. Cllr Willis, are you listening? Well done Reading Chronicle!

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

All But Two FTSE 100 Firms 'Avoid Paying Tax'

Nearly all of Britain's biggest companies avoid paying tax in the UK. Action Aid found that 98 out of the 100 companies on the FTSE 100 base their operations in territories where there is low or no tax.

The biggest users were based in the financial sector despite the industry's role in the economic crisis, with Britain's four biggest banks - HSBC, Barclays, Lloyds and RBS - having 1,649 tax haven companies between them.

Action Aid's tax justice expert Chris Jordan told Sky News that the UK could be missing out on £18bn a year in tax revenues due to the practice.

He said: "Tax havens have a damaging impact on the UK exchequer, the stability of the international financial system, and vitally on the ability of developing countries to raise tax revenues which would lift them out of poverty and make them less dependent on aid.

When multinationals use tax havens to avoid paying their fair share, ordinary people in both poor and rich countries are left to pick up the bill. Spending on doctors, nurses and other essential services gets cut for those who need it most."

Remember that the next time you hear a news report saying that these business leaders have all signed a letter supporting the cutting of the minimum wage, or cut backs to publuc services.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Lest We Forget

As Rememberance Day approaches, thanks to Simon Foley for the image. Helps puts politics into perspective.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Huhne Apology For Newspaper Story

Huhne: Wanted to keep his "fingerprints" off newspaper story

Embattled coalition Lib Dem Minister Chris Huhne has apologised to Theresa May for tipping off a national newspaper about her notorious cat speech.

Huhne's actions came to light after he accidentally posted a private message on Twitter about the story which undermined his Cabinet colleague, saying he wanted to keep his “fingerprints” off the story, which must appear as if it had come from “someone else”.

Huhne has recently been described in the High Court as a hypocrite who concealed his affair in order to portray himself as a family man in the run up to the general election.

He has also been investigated by Essex Police amid claims that he asked his ex-wifeVicky Pryce to take three penalty points for him in March 2003.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Cameron's Flip Flop On Fox

Saturday morning: In another astonishing failure of judgement by David Cameron, the PM has declared he has "full confidence" in the embattled defence secretary, Liam Fox, and the Ministry of Defence Permanent Secretary's review must be allowed time to report, after new revelations about his close friend and self-styled "advisor" Adam Werritty.

The Guardian has established that Werritty used Fox's room 341 in the MPs' block at Portcullis House as the official headquarters of a rightwing charity, the Atlantic Bridge, which works in conjunction with a major US business lobby group - recently closed down following criticism from the Charity Commission. The office was provided at taxpayers' expense. Werritty has made 14 visits to the Ministry of Defence over 16 months despite not being employed by the government.

Fresh questions will be asked following claims in the Daily Telegraph that Werritty stayed "rent free" in the defence secretary's tax-payer funded London flat. He is also said to have used that address when setting up a defence consultancy firm.

Fox pulled out of scheduled interviews with the BBC today and refused to answer questions.

Odds are mounting that he will be the second minister to leave the Cabinet, following the disgraced David Laws.

Same old Tories.

UPDATE Saturday afternoon: Obvious confusion and panic in Downing Street (just as there was with the "Pay off your credit cards" speech) as Cameron has now asked the Cabinet Secretary to examine the initial findings of the MoD Permanent Secretary's review, and report his conclusions to him on Monday.

Many MPs are now demanding Fox makes an emergency statement to the House of Commons on Monday about the access to government Mr Werritty has enjoyed. Shadow Defence Secretary Jim Murphy has warned that if Dr Fox refuses he will attempt to use parliamentary procedures to force him to address MPs over a series of allegations. It will be at the discretion of the Commons Speaker to decide if that is granted, though it is unlikely that he would reject a submission concerning such a high profile case.

Mr Murphy said "This is a self-inflicted political crisis and it seems to run and run with fresh allegations every day. There should be a full statement by the Secretary of State on Monday in the House of Commons. If he doesn't volunteer to make a full statement I will seek to summon him. An inquiry is important but so too are direct answers. There are accusations mounting. It is time for the avoidance to stop and for the answers to start."

Same old Cameron: flip flopping judgement.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Tory Cat Fight As Country Goes To The Dogs

Clarke on  May: "laughable, child-like" claims about the law
While the David Cameron defends Theresa May over her “laughable, child-like” claims about the law, a new report highlights the difficulties facing hard working families.

When will they stop squabbling and realise that their Plan A isn't working?

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Millionaire Cameron: Patronising, Out Of Touch

Millionaire Cameron was to tell the rest of us to pay off our credit cards to help the economy - but this was pulled from his conference speech at the last minute. Someone realised that his patronising demand for families to clear their debts is bad economics and terrible politics.

George Eaton explains that at a time when voters are facing the biggest fall in living standards since the 1920s (owing to a combination of rising prices, falling wages, lower benefits and higher taxes), Cameron's demand is hideously patronising. It is a perfect example of what the novelist Joyce Carey once described as a "tumbril remark" - the sort of statement seemingly designed to ignite class war.

Cameron, a man who has had never had a money worry in his life, insists that the poor must repay their debts, as if, up to this point, they had merely chosen not to do so. Has there ever been a less sensitive or more thoughtless remark from a serving Prime Minister.

But worse, Cameron's comments confirm that he has no grasp of basic economics. The more people save, the more they reduce aggregate demand, thus further reducing (and eventually destroying) economic growth. They will be individually wise but collectively foolish. If no one spends (because they're paying off their debts) then businesses can't grow and unemployment willl soar.

The final irony is that Cameron is leading a government whose own policies are increasing household debt. George Osborne's decision to take an axe to the welfare state is helping to fuel the household debt bubble.

Cameron's blunt demand for households to repay their debts suggests a man who not only can't solve the problem but doesn't even understand it. Today, we have seen the clearest indication yet that he is unfit to govern this country.

And this from a man who claimed 40p for a chocolate bar on his parliamentary expenses.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Health Experts Reject NHS Changes

Nearly 400 public health experts warn Lords to reject NHS reforms as
the Lib Dem / Tory coalition is facing a fresh revolt over their controversial health reforms, saying the plans will cause the NHS “irreparable harm”.

In an open letter to peers published in The Daily Telegraph, the public health specialists say the proposals will put patient safety at risk, waste money and damage trust in the medical profession.

They say that the Health and Social Care Bill will weaken the ability of the authorities to fight disease and tackle health emergencies. The experts also tell the Lords that the goverment is wrong to claim that doctors support them.

They conclude: “It is our professional judgement that the Health and Social Care Bill will erode the NHS’s ethical and co-operative foundations and that it will not deliver efficiency, quality, fairness or choice. We therefore request that you reject passage of the Health and Social Care Bill.”

Nick Clegg, who forced the “pause” in the Bill’s progress after a uprising by grassroots Liberal Democrats in the spring, stopped his party calling for more substantial changes at this month’s conference.

However, it is expected that Baroness Williams, the influential Lib Dem peer who has "huge concerns" about the Bill, will lead the opposition with Lord Owen, a former health minister who has called the plans "fatally flawed", also likely to figure prominently in the debates.

The Shadow Health Secretary, John Healey, said: "David Cameron is in denial, both about the damage his plans are doing to the NHS and the strength of opposition to his Health Bill across the NHS."

"There is no mandate for the Bill, either from the election or the coalition agreement. With the government having railroaded its plans through the Commons, heavy responsibility is now going to be shouldered by the Lords."

Sunday, 2 October 2011

How The City Bankrolls The Tories

The Conservative Party has become reliant on the financial sector for more than half its annual income, new research shows. Since Mr Cameron became leader, the Tories have become increasingly dependent on City funding.

Dr Stuart Wilks-Heeg, executive director of Democratic Audit, which monitors the state of democracy in the UK, said: "The coalition agreement included clear undertakings to take big money out of politics but there appears to be no sign of this happening. What this study tellingly reveals is the scale of the Conservative party’s reliance on a variety of City interests at a time when the Conservative-led government is attempting to kick banking reform into the long grass."

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Downturn Abbey

One of the best jokes at Labour Conference about how out of touch the Tories are, came from Harriet Harman when she told delegates "I hear they do watch TV from time to time and I hear they love Downton Abbey. The only problem is they think it's a fly-on-the-wall documentary.

The Tories probably thought everyone lived on a posh Edwardian estate. Harman added: "And they never need to do their own dirty work. Why would they? They've got the Lib Dems for that.

The Lib Dems boast of being a brake on the Tories. So what happened on tuition fees, on VAT, on police cuts, on the NHS? Clearly the brakes failed."

Meanwhile Cameron's sexism continues to drive away women voters. Yvette Cooper said the PM had turned his back on millions of female voters by cutting childcare, child benefit and Sure Start centres.

Remember Cameron's response to Angela Eagle who warned him about the damage he was doing, not 'sorry', but 'calm down, dear'.

Same old Tories.