Sunday, January 29, 2006

Blog Spam

I have been blog spammed twice today (those people who make generic comments on your blog to advertise their own). They were from a person dedicated to BBQs and somebody looking at the rights of rodents. Nice. If you have had any good ones on your blog, add them to the comments section!

Saturday, January 28, 2006

A week in politics

Simon Hughes and his bedroom activities aside, politics is returning to normal for those of us who can see beyond the LibDem Leadership contest.

First David Cameron takes a poll lead according to ICM, and then YouGov show him 1% behind Labour. Either way this is pretty good news for the Tory Leader as he seems to have shifted the party out of the 29-33% box and into the 38-39% one. Ideally to have a realistic majority at the next election we need to on 42% and 10% ahead of Labour so Cameron’s going in the right direction. What is interesting about the YouGov poll is that Labour have surged at the expense of the LibDems, who are just about fighting off minor parties with 13% of the vote.

Secondly campaigning is up and going from the Dunfermline & Fife by-election in Scotland. The row about job losses spilled over into the Commons this week too. The LibDems were second to Labour in this seat, with the SNP a close third and the Tories a rather distant third. What makes it more symbolic is that LibDem wannabe Sir Ming Campbell is one parliamentary neighbour and so is Chancellor Gordon Brown. The LibDems are trying to keep their shape despite a leaked letter showing them desperate just to keep second, let along win! Needless to say I’m back Tory candidate Dr Carrie. Nice!

Thirdly Peter Mandelson had made a scathing attack on Cameron by accusing him of being a carbon copy Tony Blair. Er, does that mean that even the Prince of Darkness will come out for Dave? Well, if it’s good enough for Sir Bob Geldof!

Also Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt demands health MOTs for everyone, Ann Widdecombe rejects a slot on strictly come dancing and Britain commits more troops to Afghanistan.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

LibDem response

As I have said on a comment here, I don't believe that voters really make political judgements on individuals like Mr Kennedy, Lord McNally or Mr Oaten. However they do help (like the Tories in the 90s) to form a general opinion of a party. The LibDems always saw themselves as above party politics and I fear that is no longer true. However, quite rightly, both the Sunday papers and the politics programmes today granted Mr Oaten his wish to sort out his issues in private. That is except the News of the World of course who go way over the top. Both Sir Ming and Chris Huhne have been exceptionally gracious in their response - I have heard nothing yet from Simon Hughes. The on-line community is always the worst on these occassions and I urge readers to get their news from Iain Dale rather than the vast number of annonymous nay-sayers who inhabit the world wide web.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Another political day

A bizarre day all round really.

Firstly I receive a consumer questionnaire about the treatment I received whilst in an ambulance and A&E (following a nasty foot and tree-root related accident). The NHS is not a profit company and whilst I appreciate that they appreciate my views why should taxpayers (yes, Ms Hewitt, taxpayers) money be spent on this? To prove government targets perchance? Why isn’t the cost of the lovely glossy letter, survey and reply-paid envelope going into actual front line care?

Then Mark Oaten quits as LibDem Home Affairs Spokesman for “personal errors” without saying what they are. Hmmm…

UPDATE: Sky News reports it has something to do with a rent boy.

UPDATED UPDATE: Mark Oaten has confirmed he has had affairs with a 23-year-old rent boy in 2004 and 2005, which included 3 in a bed sex. Source: Sky News Website

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Sad News

It is my sad duty to report that my favourite LibDem MP, Birmingham City Councillor and one-time media "love rat" John Hemming has pulled out of the race to be LibDem Leader. It was almost worth the £6 joining fee to vote for him.

Politics Exam

The poor soulds who make up my politics class suffered their exam last Wednesday (my birthday, as it happens). They came out full of cheer but I thought the exam was either too narrow or too broad. For example, they were asked in what ways Blairism has its roots in Thatcherism (err, can that fit in one essay?!?) and also to assess the disadvantages of the Additional Member System.
LibDem Leadership udate

So the LibDem Leadership contest rolls on with little to no media coverage at all. The only people concerned are the bloggers and the LibDem enthusiast (a dwindling bunch). Without a major punch up it is likely to be off the radar until the announcement. And judging by the contest and the Sky News debate that isn’t likely to happen any time soon. So Ming is going to scrap his gas guzzling car, Hughes isn’t gay, Oaten doesn’t like taxing as much as he used to when in Kennedy’s team and people finally know what Chris Huhne is. Hardly the stuff of legend.

Still, all candidates have now launched leadership websites:

Simon Hughes

Mark Oaten

Chris Huhne

Sir Ming Campbell

No site sets my world on fire but at least they are trying. The LibDems tend to be so much better about internet campaigning than any other party – they’ve even launched their Dunfermline & Fife by-election campaign on the web – so it is good to see the trend continue.

I’ve always said that the LibDems need to make a tough choice between their Liberal and SDP roots and yet they seem to be on the verge of choosing the only candidate (Ming) who continues to believe that they can fight the next election still not defining themselves. Hello? David Cameron has stolen not so much the march as the entire calendar on LibDem issues such as the environment, climate change and world poverty and yet Ming really believes that simply by being Ming that he can continue to control that political ground. Hardly, I’m afraid, Ming. LibDem friends of mine who are leaning towards Ming I have warned. He’ll be a short-term choice to put off that tough decision. I can see why Hughes appeals to the sandal brigade, why Oaten appeals to young people and why the almost unknown Huhne appeals with that Cameron factor.

One Norwich LibDem Councillor told me he’d be voting for Ming because it was the vote that required least though and offended least people. Says it all really.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Blair's coconuts

A coconut to any reader who can tell me why a picture of a half-naked Prime Minister Blair graced the walls of the school today! A fine figure of a man, it must be said, but ... why?
Organising Labour's first Shadow Cabinet

News reaches my shell like of a probably government re-shuffle tomorrow. Charlie Clarke’s number two – the wonderful Hazel Blears - is likely to become the Cabinet Office Minister, filling a vacancy left open since December. Personally I believe if a government job isn’t done for 4 weeks and nobody notices it should be abolished. Hmmm, like Deputy Prime Minister then? The recent embarrassment over the Hewitt school’s employment of a rather shady character has led to question marks over Ms Kelly’s future too. I have the personal interest of living a few doors away from the Hewitt School, but feel that Blair likes him cabinet wimmin so much she’ll hold on. Despite being useless. The greatest untapped source of female talent within the Labour Party, since the departure of Peterborough’s Helen Clark, is that of Caroline Flint. Ding dong, a minister in knee-high leather boots? Roar! Seriously though, a talent for David Miliband’s first shadow cabinet me thinks.
Little's choice: It's Hemming for Leader (as long as Opik doesn't stand)

The Tories could teach the LibDems a few things about how to run a leadership campaign. With the Tories, more or less every MP declares themselves a candidate before dropping out when they realise then either any of their colleagues or even their own spouse supports them. Who remembers the idea that Alan Duncan, David Willetts or Sir Malcolm Rifkind should run??? With the LibDems you have a lot of very honest “I’ll stand if he/she doesn’t” or “If nobody else does then I will”. Ming does sound like the only one who wants it at the moment – except of course Birmingham’s LibDem MP John Hemming, who is now touting for support. For what it’s worth from a would-be Tory candidate I fully support Hemmings campaign to be the LibDem Leader. You can sign up on this unofficial blog!

Sunday, January 08, 2006

A modern day political puzzle

If any other party has an aged, public school educated, pin-stripped suited, knight of the realm as the frontrunner for its leadership, the public outcry would be deafening. As would the vitriol from the Liberal Democrats. Strange how politics works.
Blog off!

On much more of an important note I am most fed up with posts to this blog coming from various Americans promoting their own blogs! You know the sort, they read something like:

”Hi, I was searching for a blog about the length of a sheep’s bladder, when I stumbled across your blog. It’s so well written – and so funny! I have my own blog, it’s about the history of fire stations in nineteenth century Walsall.”

Does anybody have any idea how to stop this as the five seconds it takes me to delete each one is five seconds I could be dedicated to removing this discredited New Labour government, crushing the LibDems and promoting the wonderfulness of Dave Cameron and his glorious team of super-Tories.
Kennedy quits as LibDem Leader

So farewell then, Charles Kennedy.

I am probably not the best person in the world to judge this because I have never liked Kennedy and feel that the manner in which he conducted his own bodged resignation says a lot. I have never understood why people called him funny or personable. In fact, on occasions, I found no hint of personality at all. You have to credit him his success – 62 seats in 2005 was pretty good, although not what all LibDems thought they would get. I wondered if, when Simon Hughes broke ranks and said he was disappointed by the 05 poll campaign result, that was the start of the end.

The Mail on Sunday goes for Sir Ming quite viciously today and various candidates, including the wonderfully ludicrous John Hemming, gear up their leadership campaign. The (one) good thing about the LibDem campaign is that when you vote-swap, any candidate can stand without the risk of taking supporters from other candidates. For example, people said that Sir Malcolm Rifkind would harm Ken Clarke’s (ill-fated) chances. If Oaten stood he wouldn’t harm another candidate because his supporters have a #2 vote.

Other political news is quite sad. Tony Banks, former Labour MP and a parliamentary hero of mine, is nearing death. Also Rachel Squire, Labour MP for Dunfirmline and West Fife has died. And would you believe it, according to the BBC the LibDems have started telephone canvassing already!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

First thoughs on Kennedy, Opik, Oaten and the LibDem farce

Is Lembit Opik now officially the stupidest man in politics? His performance on the ITV news at 6.30 must suggest he is.

Charles Kennedy has been caught out by an ITV investigation into his drinking problem. That is awful and as somebody who has seen the problems of alcohol abuse close up I sympathise with him. But this rubber statement (he was bounced into it) and the inevitability of the leadership contest is the surest sign that he is politically dead, no matter what the result.

Lembit, of course, leaps to him aid suggesting this was the kind of masterful, brave leadership that demonstrates why CK is best for the job. Hmmm. Maybe not. Kennedy must be feeling gutted that he was forced into this and must be holding his breath about the leadership vote. Unlike the Tories – who got a yes or no in IDS before other challengers emerged – Kennedy has the buffer of waiting for an MP to stand up to the plate. Oaten has chickened out (quelle surprise), so will Campbell, Hughes or A.N.Other have more guts? Don’t believe it, the LibDems are the most gutless of all political parties.

Iain Dale believes that Kennedy remaining leader best serves the Tories. I am unsure, as I can see Hughes driving thousands of people our way.

So let’s recap…
Kennedy had a drink problem (so what?) but lied about it. Just under half his senior team wants him out plus thousands more in an online petition. Now’s the time to be tying yourself to his coat straps, Lembit.

If CK had any political antennae, he’d resign and allow a full field of candidates, instead of forcing the weak willed Oaten and Opik to back him. This is not a Cameron moment for the LibDems and it never will be.

Monday, January 02, 2006

LibDem Coconuts

Today I finally had to succumb to the dreaded sales, although Riverside wasn’t too bad. This afternoon I spent brainstorming ideas for school, but mostly watching season 6 of the West Wing. Gripping! Although the thought of it without Leo is scary. Why have they only taken 6 seasons to do 8 years?

Also spent much time preparing stuff for my AS Politics group – their exam is on Wednesday 11th January. So stop reading this and start revising!

I was mugged by an old friend and LibDem activists today who spent much time bleating on about how my blog is giving away too much information! The question I posed is: where will the LibDems actually win in May? He said just one ward is considered safe. A coconut for the correct guess.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

In the interests of political balance – and so that every entry isn’t about another wonderful Cameron strategy or the crushing failure of Charles Kennedy’s so-called leadership – I have been trying to search out a government initiative or action to report on. I searched for much time and, apart from Blair’s holiday trip and Hain’s intellectual deficit on the NI Peace Process, there is nothing happening. So, once again, Cameron wisely fills the political vacuum.

For those of you still unsure about the tactical supremacy currently sweeping CCHQ, look at today’s issues. Tory Leader blasts Brown in a nasty personal attack – and then quotes Ghandi in his New Year message and declares himself for consensus. Tory Leader calls on Blair to get on with it and quit – and then makes six new policy statements, including poverty, climate change and the environment (the other 3 are the NHS, police reform and the economy for those who care). So whilst the Conservatives bite with one hand they reach out in a New Year gesture of peace with the other. Brilliant – modernisers happy, traditionalists happy.

Now take a look at the press today. Obviously I read all the Tory press, but it is worth noting. David Cameron has written a two-page spread for the Mail on Sunday declaring that he is moving on from Thatcherism. He has done an interview with the Sunday Times about new shifts in policy. He has a leader and front page story in the Sunday Torygraph about his leadership. Plus CCHQ have taken out a full page advert in the Sunday Torygraph today also. Our Dave clearly believes people have a lot of intelligence – the ad was meant to be a recruitment drive but only included a web address for people to sign up. No telephone number or coupon? That’s how much we trust people!

Whatever the rights and wrongs (and I personally I believe it is right) Cameron is making the political agenda. The fact that we have annoyed people like Peter Hichens is great news. Useless Tories? Just check the next opinion poll…
p.s. Have found some government news – apparently Prescott, a helicopter and a long lens camera. Doesn’t bear thinking about.