What Clegg should have said

The cuddly yellow Liberal Democrats, darlings in the eyes of the public a mere year ago, held their first Spring Conference since being in government. Clearly they are stung by accusations that they have betrayed the electorate by saying that they would oppose early and fast cuts in spending and that they would oppose increases to tuition fees, only to support early and fast spending cuts and to have Vince Cable propose tuition fees at double to treble the current rate. I mean, it’s not like they meant any of their promises, they weren’t expecting to have to come through with anything. So Clegg, attempting to sell the virtues of a ‘mollifying’ Lib Dem presence said the following in his keynote:

“Would a Government without Liberal Democrats have ended child detention? Got an extra ten billion out of the banks? Would it have held a referendum on the voting system? Or put up capital gains tax? Ordered an inquiry into torture? Brought in a pupil premium? Or replaced Control Orders? Would a Government without Liberal Democrats have cut taxes for the poorest?
I don’t think so.”

I bet that raised a hearty cheer. But before cheering it, let us go through this passage bit by bit (it’s been a while since I did a proper Fisk) and see how true it really rings: Read the rest of this entry »

Tories caught out in hypocrisy

Tonight there was a local forum held at Rugby College, at which a presentation was made by people who are unhappy at the cuts to Youth Services that threaten Hill Street and other centres around the time.

After the heartfelt presentations, the three county councillors present applauded the efforts of the youth. So good it was to see local politicians supporting the causes of the young.

However, a sour note was raised when someone had the temerity to ask how the councillors concerned (all Tories) voted when cuts to youth services in Warwickshire were slashed by millions. Apparently, this was not a time for ‘politics’ said the politicians, before they had to admit that they had actually voted in favour.

Serve them right for trying to pretend that they supported the groups that they only weeks ago agreed to cut.

Bob nails it

One of my favourite Labour bloggers is Councillor Bob Piper. His patch in Bearwood, Sandwell, is just up the road from where my gf’s family are based. As a proper socialist within the Labour Party, and one who isn’t afraid to buck the party line in public, he seems to get a fair amount of notice and respect.

Today he posted probably the most comprehensive take-down of Cameron and the NHS reforms. I heartily recommend the following post:

Cameron’s NHS Myths

He outlines 6 key myths (or should we say ‘lies’) that the Tories are putting out to sell the NHS reforms. Each one is shown to be total hogwash. Yet Tory and Lib Dem MPs are soon going to troop through the Commons divisions to back these reforms.

Galsworthy Guilty

Mike Galsworthy pled guilty to all four counts of fiddling on Council Tax benefit, and was fined £350 (plus costs and a £15 victim surcharge).

As he’s already resigned from the council, the matter won’t go any further – assuming he pays the fine. It’s good to see that a benefit fraudster has been caught ,although the penalty seems a little lenient, it can carry a three month jail sentence, and a much larger fine. Perhaps he has already repaid anything owing, and pleading poverty appears to have helped. Still his fine doesn’t come close to the cost of the by-election that he caused.

I expect the local Tories are pretty embarrassed about this – he’d not only been a Parish councillor for some time, but he’d also been on the Borough’s Standards Committee, which monitors the ethical standards of councillors. If anything his position should have meant a harsher punishment, but apparently the man has ‘limited means’.

The real reason for the Dunchurch byelection

When Mike Galsworthy stepped down from his  seat this autumn, there was something odd about it. The local press seemed to know more than they were saying, because they reported him as announcing his resignation within a day of stating he would remain, but they didn’t report why the question had been asked in the first place.

The reason given at the time was ‘personal’. I heard that it was something like his family weren’t happy with the extra commitment of being a councillor, and he’d been given an ultimatum by his wife. As he’d only been elected in May this year, that made some sense (although he appears to have been an active parish councillor for some time, so should have been prepared for extra effort.

Now it can be reported – as per the Advertiser – that Galsworthy is facing a court date next week, having been charged with  “four offences of failing to notify the council of change of circumstances namely partner, partner working, private pension and councillors’ allowance under section 112(1A) Social Security Administration Act 1992.”

That means he’s been accused of what would come under the heading ‘benefit fraud’. It’s not clear what benefits this covers, but I’m not sure that makes a difference. As it is the council that are pursuing him, he’d have little choice but to resign even if he is later cleared, because there would be a clear conflict of interest.

I wonder if the byelection was called quickly so that it took place before the news came out?

I also wonder whether the good voters of Dunchurch and Knightlow would have thought twice before electing another Tory to replace him, had they had the chance to know about this before December 2nd?

Not having the World Cup

I would really liked to have seen the 2018 World Cup come to England. Euro96 was great fun and when we are behaving ourselves, the English fans can be really good hosts.

But, what with not bribing enough people, not censoring our media over FIFA corruption, not being a possible new mass market, sending Wills and Cameron and Beckham over to schmooze, and a mini-riot at last night’s 2nd-city derby game, did we really have a hope?

Posted in Football. Tags: . 2 Comments »

Council defends censorship

The farce gets even more convoluted. But the lucky people of Rugby get to see my ugly mug in the Observer.

I found out that someone had tried to ask a question at the last Cabinet meeting at Rugby Borough Council, but it had been rejected. What concerned me most that it wasn’t just an officer doing the vetting, as has been the case before, but the Leader of the Council, Craig Humphrey.

Who was the subject of the question? Read the rest of this entry »

Another bit of 80s nostalgia

Remember the 1980s? How about the race riots in places like Brixton and Toxteth and Handsworth? What was the spark for these riots? Well, it was the ‘sus laws’, and the use of them by the police to stop young black men, on ‘suspicion’. After the Scarman Report, the laws were abolished, for the very reason that they had contributed to massive problems between the police and local communities.

In 2008, David Cameron did say he would bring back similar powers to the police. Now he’s in power, the Home Office are issuing new guidance to allow race to be used as a reason to stop people.

This really needs to be reconsidered.

Sod off, Woolas

It looks like Phil Woolas will be losing his seat, barring some last minute attempts at a Judicial Review. I didn’t know anything about the tactics being used in his Oldham East election campaign, but looking at the material it is pretty low stuff. Telling porkies to suggest that your main opponent is backed by Muslim extremists, especially in an area which has seen racial tension in the past, is downright shoddy and irresponsible.

That he was a Labour MP is a source of shame to me, and should be to any member. As a minister he seemed to revel in applying some of the draconian parts of our immigration laws (and let’s put a line under the line that there were no controls ore restrictions to immigration under Labour – they became progressively stronger over time). I’ve never had much sympathy for those people in Labour who try to play up on the fears of the white working class for political ends.

But my dislike for Woolas goes much, much further back than that. Back in the early 1990s I was a student in Manchester. At around the time of the Blair takeover, and the return to prominence of Peter Mandelson, he made me so angry I nearly left the Labour Party.

The Tory MP for Littleborough and Saddleworth, Geoffrey Dickens, was suffering from a long illness, and it was likely that he was going to die. However, he was still alive and in post when messages started to come through that we (the Manchester University Labour Students) should go out to the moors towns on the other side of Oldham to campaign. Personally, I felt it was tasteless in the extreme to put an election machine out on the ground for a by-election when the sitting MP was still alive.

Woolas was the Labour candidate for that seat. When Dickens did pass away in 1995, the campaign (which I had no involvement in) was bitter and personalised. The Lib Dem candidate was the subject of various attacks. They failed, and Woolas came second to Chris Davies. Deservedly so, to be honest.

In 1997, the seat was changed in the boundary review, and the new constituency of Oldham East and Saddleworth was created. Woolas beat Davies in the rerun. I’ve no reason to believe that the campaign was any more cordial. In 2001 the BNP stood, following riots in Oldham in the spring. So since then there will have been the added racial/religious tension. Woolas and the local party (with the complicity of the region?) clearly tried to tap into that in order to hold the seat – which was never very seure.

I’m glad that he’s been suspended by the Party, but it was disappointing to say the least that he’d been retained in the Shadow Cabinet after the allegations and legal challenge to the election were known. Labour needs to make it clear that they will not pander to racism or seek to use it for tactical gain. Woolas should not be the last casualty of this – he will have had an agent and advisors.

If you don’t like the answer, buy a new one!

I missed two meetings tonight. I was a bit late getting home from work, and I had stuff to do (like eat something). The first was the Warwickshire Fabians, which is just being set up and will be organising political debates and education locally. At least I won’t have been given a job.

The second was at the Town Hall, where the council discussed the recent Independent Remuneration Panel report. This is the one that proposed a modest 45% increase in the Leader’s allowance, but expressed opposition to the way that the new management arrangements had been set up and that ‘individuals involved’ appeared to have been directly lobbying.

Did Humprey and his Tory pals accept the report? Nope.

There’s one part that they don’t like. The bit that recommended:

That the review of the current interim management arrangements be brought
forward to early 2011 and that this should entail a cross party review of
governance arrangements, to include:-

  • The appropriate level and structure of officer resources
  • The political executive structure, taking account of the requirements of the Local government and Public Involvement in Health Act 2007 to amend executive structures
  • The role of Leader, incorporating the detailed experience of the interim arrangements
  • Any governance implications of the developing Coalition Government agenda for Local Government

Which is contrary to what the Tories wanted – which was to keep the arrangements in place, unreviewed, until May 2012.

But the cheek of the Tories now is amazing.

Firstly, they claimed that this (the lack of review) had been agreed on 10th August with no dissent. In fact, it was agreed on 27th July (behind closed doors), and Labour councillors voted against.

Secondly, they claimed that opposition was from people ‘not on the electoral roll’ and had been co-ordinated. As far as I am concerned that is totally untrue. I have acted on my own accord, without being directed by others or directing them (not that I haven’t conferred with people who have also been appalled at Humphrey’s actions, and I do have my sources, but we shared information). I am on the electoral roll, and used my correct name and address when contacting the Council. Some of the opponents are well-known as having been Tory activists in the past, for heavens’ sake!

Thirdly, and this is just bizarre, they will hire a firm of ‘Independent Consultants’ to look into it. Yep, that’s right. They don’t want a review that includes the opposition for over two years, but they will pay (and they haven’t said how much it will cost). Of course, if this set of hired consultants happens to suggest, ohhh I dunno, a greater allowance for the Leader, I wonder if I’ll be massively surprised.

While cuts are affecting services around the town, while the Council itself has to await the details of how much less money the Government will give them for 2011-12 so it knows how much more to cut, the Tories decide that Rugby Borough Council can apparently afford to bring in ‘Consultants’ to help them override the report of an Independent panel?

And they’ll openly lie in the Chamber to justify it?

Rotters, cads and bounders the lot of them.