Monday, 29 March 2010

A Chant for Democracy

What do we want?
‘government of the people, by the people, for the people.’

When do we want it?
Why do we want it?
Because we have ‘government of the few, by the few, for the few (and their mates).’
How will we do it?
By throwing them out  -  and by not electing replacement greedy, self-serving, clones.

The chant may need some practice to sound effective but it should be fun trying.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Top Ten Toerag

Muriel Grey writing in todays Sunday Herald is not a fan of Geoff Hoon. She is in a big big club.
"Hoon was one of a bunch of politicians caught on camera by Channel 4’s ever-excellent Dispatches programme, offering up their services to a private firm to influence policy in return for money. But wait. That’s not the bit he’s sorry for. He’s not remorseful about the sheer, staggering, immorality of such a posture, but instead for the fact that he was caught embellishing and exaggerating just how far his power went. What a guy.

In the competition to find a poster boy for what’s gone wrong in British politics, the repugnant Hoon has made it through to a very crowded final. The Dispatches revelations were like some nightmarish aide memoire to an electorate already sickened to the core, and facing one of the most morally bereft election campaigns in memory. We have to assume, from our experience of how the expenses scandal unfolded, that the handful of invertebrates that Channel 4 managed to catch in the act of undermining democracy are not a tiny, unrepresentative group of snakes, but in fact just the ones that got found out. Depressing as it is, it’s not unreasonable or cynical of us to believe that they are just the tip of a big, toxic, bobbing iceberg."

I could not agree more. The constituency that Hoon purports to represent is Ashfield in Notts. It is one of the poorest in the country. In addition to being involved in the decision to go to war in Iraq he somehow found the time to garner a property empire reputed to be in the region of £2 million. A true devotee of his mentor, Mr T. "That'll be half a million squire" Blair. Hoon also managed to let a home he was claiming expenses for, to a tenant. Seems like a bang-to-rights case of fraud to me. But no it was a 'misunderstanding.' The problem is that the behaviour of this prize toerag (along with the other execrable offenders) is that it is likeley to drive people away from the polling station.

As Muriel concluded,"We can’t let the corrupt and the shallow keep us away from the ballot box in May. We need to take politics back to the centre of our lives, to represent ideas we can believe in and outcomes we can hope for; and turning our backs in disgust is not an option any more. Even a spoilt voting slip is better than a no-show."

Saturday, 27 March 2010

We Don’t Trust You

Brown issues five ‘meaningless pledges’ (according to his rivals) in the very long run up to the election. After 13 years opportunity to implement reform we finally get a vague promise of constitutional reform. Far too little – far too late.

As this rotten Parliament slithers to its miserable end, the biggest issue facing our democracy is trust.
Why should we trust any of the venal, self-serving, money grubbers who failed to protect our economy?
Why should we vote for members of the political class who got us into this mess?

How can guarantee that the new Parliament will not simply contain replacement clones?

Tory Shadow Health spokesman, Andrew ’£25,000+ for a couple of hours a month’ Lansley, was speaking on ‘Any Questions’ this week. He was lambasting the BA striking aircrew and strikes in general. No-one on the panel thought to point out to him that it is all very well for him with his second and third incomes to have a go at people who get less in a year than he does for one of his part-time jobs.

What understanding of the world occupied by 95% of the electorate does he and his greedy chums have?
Why should we trust him and his several income colleagues to do a better job than the present bunch of inadequates?

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

My MP has written a play.

It sounds like it is up there with the best of ‘little Ern’ and the latest play what he has just wrote!
It tackles the expenses scandal from a much maligned and put upon MP’s point of view. Nevertheless My MP is at pains to point out that the lead character, “is not like me, though many of our experiences are similar.”
According to the Buxton Advertiser (18/3/2010)
“In scene 12 of A Ten Minute Wonder, Daniel exclaims: "Jesus Christ! My priorities are working for my constituents and my party, not counting beans. I followed the rules, I took advice and guidance. Where was I supposed to get my moral compass from? This is hair shirt morality — it's expenses, so it can't have been earned, so give it back'.
"It makes me sick!"
The italics are mine. Read that sentence again and despair. Throw Hewitt, Hoon, Byers and Blair into the mix and see to what depths New Labour have sunk. What would Keir Hardie, Nye Bevin, Clement Atlee and their ilk make of these self-serving lightweights?
And then ponder on the Lord Cashcroft saga. And William Hague charging £1000 for an hour at a business meeting, when he is supposed to be the shadow Foreign Secretary, marginally more than many more of his tory chums claim regularly ‘for keeping in touch with the real world.’

My MP writes that he feels sick. Not half as sick as we are of him and the venal, unprincipled and egregious political class that rules us on our behalf.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Noooooo! Not more corruption.

'Twas ever thus. You lift up a large stone - and yet more loathsome, slimy, venal and corrupt MP's slither out.

Al Yamami (plus the dropping of the Serious Fraud Office case)
Cash for Questions
Hinduja Brothers
Cash for Honours
Expenses fiddles
Flipping Homes
Plus loads of other examples of mis-use of public positions, eg ministers standing down and then getting a job on the board of a company they just helped out whilst in office. Take a bow Ms Hewitt.
There are many, many more.
And now?
Welcome Ladies and Gentlemen to 'Cash for Lobbying' - featuring such egregious characters as Hoon, Hewitt and Byers.
What a deeply excremental system we live in.

It is time to stand up and take our democracy back.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Checklist check

On the 27th January a draft checklist for candidates was posted on this blog. As the election nears it is time to revisit the list. Hopefully it will be of use when candidates call, phone or have public meetings.

Several criteria are self-explanatory. Others may need further explanation of the thinking behind the idea. As the election nears it is intended to run through some that are less clear-cut. For instance this one:
 3)   I support the practice of having no other paid employment while I am an MP.

There are MP’s such as Andrew Lansley, who will say that being paid £20,000 for a couple of days a month, “Keeps them in touch with the real world of business.” Mind you, when he said this on ‘Question Time’ he was taken aback by the reaction from members of the public who do not earn that amount in a year. Other MP’s such as Ann Widdecomb use their newspaper columns to have a go at opponents like the female ex-porn director standing as a candidate for the Lib-Dems. What the saintly Ms Widdecomb does not make clear is that she takes a considerable sum of money from the owner of the Daily Express to write her column. The Express is owned by serial pornographer Desmond who made his fortune running explicit chat lines and adult porn sites.
One of the gems from comedian Mark Thomas’s recent ‘Manifesto’ tour was, “ Politicians should have to wear tabards displaying the names and logos of the companies with whom they have a financial relationship, like a racing driver.”  William Hague was on Any Questions this week. It is probable the audience reaction to his comments would have been markedly different if he had been covered with the badges and logos of all the organisations he gets money from. [Notice the non-use in any of the above of the word 'earns.']
As Mark Thomas writes, “MP’s are there to represent thousands of constituents, hold the government to account and run the country…. solve the national debt, banking crisis, mass unemployment, troops in Afghanistan…doesn’t sound part-time to me.”

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Whelan v Ashcroft

What a deeply unedifying spectacle our politics has become. Campaigning co-ordinated by two of the most dubious specimens ever to draw breath. One uses his personal wealth to boost the prospects of his Tory chums. The other relies on the quiet acquiescence of vast numbers of Unite members who each pay a small proportion of their membership fee to the ‘political fund.’

Why on earth Unite members continue paying this sum to a government who have never been more than lukewarm towards them is a mystery. How many of them are aware they can opt out of paying this?

We need to take a leaf out of the American’s book of how to do it. Donations are limited to $2000, which means thousands and thousands of donors are required to fund campaigns and party workers.
The millions squandered on the political class do little to enlighten our system. It is also deeply corrupting – cash for honours, contracts awarded to large donors, policies dropped for fear of upsetting contributors (Ecclestone).

It would be even better if parties had to rely solely on their members for their funds – and then had to cut their garment according to their cloth.

It would mean, heaven forbid, that they would have to go out and meet real people and discuss real issues in the real world. A membership fee of say £20 a year with 100,000 members would produce £2 million. And that would be it – live within your means. An end to MacBride and Coulson plus all of their associated pond life chums. Parties would have to become more receptive to the populace. Want to get your message across? Talk to people on the street, in the marketplace, at the match, and on the doorstep. And not just once every 5 years either.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Loin My Girds!

Stusinsite is off for a short break to barge my chatteries and loin my girds in time for what is going to be an eventful few weeks. Sorry to miss Brown at Chilcot though. 

Monday, 1 March 2010


Watching Michael Gove defending the indefensible tonight was a treat. “Gove, someone’s got to go round the studios and take it on the chin for the party. Lord Ashcroft has released a statement admitting that he is a non-dom and has avoided paying taxes in the UK. David has chosen you! Do not let him down. Remember, David is pleased this has happened.”

The fact that a Freedom of Information request had been granted (for tomorrow) and that this information has had to be dragged out of the Tories over ten years following unseemly wriggling and sophistry to justify using a tax-exiles money to influence a General Election. Buy an election mister? Six million quid for 60 marginal seats? Bargain.

So poor Gove had an unenviable task and he clearly did not relish it. Blink rate high, gulp factor palpable and sticking to a single line of defence namely, “Labour do it too.” And they do, but they do not call their donors, ‘Vice-Chairman.’ That 'Vice' is just so appropriate.

Labour put up Jack Straw who contrived to make shooting fish in a barrel difficult. However, his problems became clearer when it was revealed that the law that Straw recently got through Parliament only makes it illegal for non-doms to contribute to elections, after the next election. Labour need the money and are prepared to forego any semblance of principle to get it.

Squirm upon squirm. Shame upon shame.

Up the Polls

What are we to make of the latest news that the Tory lead over Labour has shrunk to 2%? At a time of great distrust and anger at politics and politicians, can we trust the polls?
The expenses scandal has negatively affected the way we view politicians. It has been a national disgrace but a very local parochial scandal. Individual MP’s have had their returns scrutinised in their local press producing a very mixed picture.
There are MP’s who are ‘saints’ – never claimed a penny more than they were entitled to. Others were fools who thoughtlessly over submitted claims. Then there are those who clearly milked the system for all it is worth. And then there are the criminals who engaged in all manner of property fiddles and ‘flipping.’
Only a handful have been charged and when the details are studied it is unclear why them and not a, b, c, -- x, y and z as well.
Esther Rantzen is standing as an independent in Luton and could well win. The Speaker, John Bercow, is being opposed, in a breach of tradition, by Nigel Farrage for ukip and also by an independent tory who has leafleted the constituency detailing Bercow’s ‘flipping’ expenses. Hazel Blears will be opposed by at least 5 independents unhappy at her performance. They could cancel each other out. Throw in the ‘None of the Above’ card and it all becomes very bitty and not easy to predict.
There is a regional element too. At the last European election , New Labour came fifth in the South-East. Can the Tories regain any seats in Scotland where they have been loathed for so long? Will minority parties breakthrough in certain areas?
Many MP’s are standing down thereby depriving the electorate of the chance to boot them out. Suppose your former MP was a villain. Will that affect the way you vote? Will you still vote the same way? Or will you want to punish the party that let them get away with it? Will national issues dominate or will the local effect override national issues? Will the turnout be so low that the party that gets more of its core vote out will win?
Finally, how much chance are you going to get to talk to candidates, hear their views and more importantly let them know what you feel? This could be the most bitter, nasty and downright dirty campaign for a long, long time. The last thing many prospective politicians will want to do is risk meeting members of the public.