Sunday, November 30, 2008

How much more evidence do the LibDems need before they admit ... Huhne would have been better

LibDem Leader Nick Clegg was sold to the political world as a great communicator and a media star but has turned out to be gaffe prone and, at times, very very foolish.

The news today that he was overheard by a Mirror hack having a good old pop at his own frontbench team raises 2 basic questions; why would you have that sort of conversation on any commerical airline in front of people, let alone a journalist? Secondly why both thinking about reshuffling the deckchairs on the LibDem titanic when you only have a handful of MPs to take the jobs? You may hate X, Y and Z but they'll all end up serving on the frontbench beause there is no other talent to replace them.

I'm sure that many people might be asking another question; why on earth didn't we vote for Huhne?

City Council do it again!

So, the City Council has warned hairdressers not to give away mulled wine and has said they face fines and imprisonment if they do - more here. Don't we ever learn? Does nobody at City Hall have an antenae for thie kind of issue?

Once again Norwich City Council is nationally ridiculed (here) and most people will wonder how on earth these things happen.

Is it not beyond the wit of man for some compromise that ensures that festive traditions such as this can carry on without the bureaucracy dragging it down? Threatening letters from the council are totally over the top. Let's sit down with businesses and see what we can do.

I hope that the scroog attitude of City Hall gives way to some festive cheer and things like this are consigned to Christmas Past.

How much thought did the LibDems really put into their childcare policy?

Conservatives very much agree that Britain need to be more family-friendly and that creating stronger family units can help to piece back together our broken society - in fact, its been David Cameron thats put these ideas front and centre in British politics. However these latest plans from the LibDems are pie-in-the-sky politics and Nick Clegg - their apparent media-star - go another mauling at the hands of the BBC over it today.

Business people are up in arms about these proposals and they clearly haven't been thought out. We'd all like more time with our kids but how many families could afford both parents on the basic £117 a week allowance? I'd have loved to have taken more time with both of my children but we couldn't afford to do so. Although something has to be done about paternity leave (its currently only 2 weeks), it isn't maternity length thats the problem but the financial impact of it.

Even Nick Clegg, when challenged about it on the BBC, said he couldn't take 7 months paternity leave - its madness. He knows that he could neither afford it, nor could he be sure that his job was still there in 7 months! How would the electors of Sheffield feel about this? Could you imagine the potential chaos in schools, the NHS, small businesses or the police?

Instead we should be looking towards flexible working and better conditions for parents at work, rather than this dogs dinner of a policy. I really do wonder how much thought they actually put into it or if this was rushed out for a headline at a time when they are ignored?

Monday, November 24, 2008

An Expensive Mistake

If the government is going to borrow up the hilt, and saddly every family in this country with an extraordinary amount of debt, then it ought to be for a very good reason - and it ought to work. For those who believe we should be borrowing our way out of recession this is way beyond their expectations, but we should also be hearing more from those who believe (like me) that we can achieve the same impact but done so by reducing the overall growth in spending. All over the country, families are tightening their belts (one resident saying to me this weekend, he didn't think his belt has any more notches) so why shouldn't the government?

The proposals announced today by the government left me totally underwhelmed; what in all this is going to make families start spending? The 2.5% VAT cut has left me actually angrier than relieved. How many retailers are going to pass this on? How many prices are going to be altered? Most people - worried about the overall economy - are not going to spend on the basis of this cut. It isn't targetted, doesn't apply to a lot of products and isn't enought to make a difference. Tiny adjustments here and there are not the solution.

The most bizarre aspect of the day, that we as one of Labour's favourite "hard working families" benefit little - but we'll certainly be hit by the higher tax to come later. For the first time in History, people will know before an election that Labour will raise their tax.

On the political side, I thought that George Osborne - and David Cameron on the media - did extremely well. He had some good points and looked like he was enjoying himself. Vince looked wobbly, to be honest, and Darling looked like a man against a wall. The laughter in the Commons when he said this problem was made abroad gave away the lie; everyone knows that Downing Street and Brown personally are at the heart of these problems.

Toady media types and celebrity commentators are lining up to call this brave, decisive and smacking of firm leadership. Far from it; this is the dying days of another failed government - they always leave us bankrupt, sky high borrowing and economic problems. Nothing announced today will change that.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Tim Montgomery's "Ten Winning Reasons"

Read the full post here but I have pulled out some of the key ones I think will prey on the Prime Minister's mind.

Firstly, boundary changes will reduce the Labour majority by 20 seats before a single voter visits the poll. Plus Brown will know that a number - maybe even a large number - of LibDem seats will go to the Tories; this may not impact on his majority but puts Cameron nearer to his tally of MPs.

Secondly, Tory seats, and especially marginal ones, are better funded and have more activists who are willing to work more hours for them than Labour. I still think Team Cameron ought to be looking at Obama's campaign in this respect - we can better in membership, use of the net and mass fundraising - but we still hold a big lead over Labour in all those respects.

Thirdly, tactical voting against the Tories is waining and so is the arguement that "only the LibDems can win here". People don't fear a Cameron government - and linked with reason four, that the arguement for change is winning across the world - and subsequently even where the Tories are third behind the LibDems and Labour, people are still switching the the Conservatives as a positive choice and are not just voting to beat Labour. Trust me, I know!

And fifthly, the next election will be about more than just the economy - Brown must show he has a vision for our public services, the environment and crime, but he can't because he doesn't.

Polls go up and down, the party mustn't fault in our determination to change our country.

Elect Antony Little

For those of you who haven't found it, we have a new website launched recently called which is going to run between now and the next General Election - which looks set to be a while yet, with a new ICM poll showing the Tory lead at 11%.

It is going to house my speeches and video as and when we have them, profiles of the local team and information about my policies.

I am going to use the website for my press releases whilst this blog will continue for the analysis and more lighthearted look at politics, gossip from City Hall and council stuff. It is the next step for the party locally and looks great; so why not take a look now?

A bad weekend for Norwich Labour

At the same time that a report declares that the only finacially viable Unitary solution is that of the whole county unitary and that the City model has huge financial risks, it has been revealed that there is a £19m hole in the pensions pot. The first of these comes as no surprise to anybody who has been following the unitary saga but the second both surprised and deeply worried me. In the DA report there are dozens of failings in City accounting and we are now at the point where the Labour executive cannot point the finger at past administrations and will have to take responsibility. There is an Audit Committee meeting next Friday; it looks set to be explosive.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Reading Rupert (Part II)

Following Cllr Read's hijacking of a UEA Conservatives event for his own self promotion, along comes another example of his LibDem leanings showing through his Green colours.

According to Cllr Read, "Green Councillors in Norwich successfully won backing for a city wide 20mph zone that is to be trialled in three zones of the city from early 2009."

If anybody would like to point out the problem with that statement, I'll be sure to publish it! And here's a clue ... the motion for 20mph zones wasn't proposed by a Green . . .

The 11th Hour

I was very honoured to be able to represent the Norwich Conservatives at the recent Memorial Day Service in the City; firstly at the ceremony at the War Memorial outside City Hall and then at the service in the Cathedral. It was a very moving day; and with fewer and fewer veterans being present, it made me think about how we are losing touch with this incredible generation. The arrangements were spot on and the ceremony hit the right note of thanks and pride. We should never forget their sacrifice.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Read speaks in favour ... from the sidelines

My favourite Green Rupert Read used, apparently, to be a LibDem (no, stop laughing at the back). Sometimes that is hard to believe and other times less so.

Because it seems that Read has been stealing the clothes of others. Read this press release put on his blog and especially the line "Cllr. Read will also be speaking in favour of Fair Trade at a debate this Friday 7th November at the UEA in Norwich."

You might be thinking, at this point, that he is on the panel maybe, or Chairing the debate? Neither - former MP Teddy Taylor and Stephen Roberson were the two speakers. So what was Read's contribution?

It boiled down to a question asked from the floor, which by all accounts got a lot of students either totally confused or very angry (or, maybe, both). Now I know that if you re-read it, you could have concluded this from Read's statement but it isn't clear and from both my reading and that of others, he is intending us to think that he was a major party of the proceedings. Matched by the fact that the Evening News used quotes from Read's blog to advertise the event in the paper. Who's not to think that this is Read at work?

How very LibDem to take the hard work of others and turn it into a vehicle for your own publicity. I think that Read's utterly pompous and egotistical writings might have to come under a little more scrutiny in future.

Publicity desperate politicans often do some silly things. Let's scrutinise him.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Another LibDem policy for the bonfire

I note, with only a smallish wry smile, that the publicity desperate LibDems has a piece in the Evening News (not online) attacking supermarkets such as Tesco and Waitrose who do a 2for1 offer on fireworks, calling them irresponsible and encouraging people to use more fireworks than they need.

Of course, any real liberal understands that it is the people who missue fireworks who are to blame rather than those who sell them. If we restricted sales of things that annoy people or are bad for us, fireworks would be much further down a rather long list. We have managed to put on a modest and very responsible firework display tonight, and did so thanks to a supermarket 2for1 promotion; something that the LibDems don't want me to do. I mention this because freedoms and liberties of people are being eroded in more ways than just 42days and ID cards. The LibDems, ironically, and the Greens lead the charge in doing this.

But there is also the wider point; would the LibDems oppose 2for1 food promotions because they encourage people to buy more than they need? Or just on products, such as chocolate, because they are bad for you? Where does this sort of attitude ever end?

McCain: It wasn't all bad

The result of the Presidential election is surly a triumph for Obama and the world just felt happier today; so many people at work (including children) just smiling at the thought of the win. However, reverting to type for just one blog post, I would like to counter the argument that this was a landslide but would suggest that the Republican have to do some tough thinking in the next year.

The fact that McCain walked out of this election with 46% of the vote – relatively close to Obama – is nothing short of a miracle. That is at the top end of the national polling and still within striking distance of the Democrat. No wonder the first few hours of the results was nail biting given the swing coming Obama’s way. Just consider this – after 8 years of Bush, 8 years of Republican rule, 2 wars, 1 bust economy and god knows how many scandals, 46% of Americans **still** voted for McCain. That is a tribute to McCain himself and also to Sarah Palin, the undisputed winner of the campaign – like her or loath or, she’s now a star and may set up for another run – who helped bring home the Conservative base of the party. This was not a popular vote drubbing for McCain. However it was an ECV vote drubbing – not as bad as it could have been (see Hoover circa 1932 etc).

And looking ahead, the next Republican challenger should be able to take all of the knife edge states back with little trouble. After one term of office the shine will have come off Obama and the realities of government set in. Hence the Republicans should be able to take back, say, North Carolina, Virginia, Indiana, Missouri and Iowa with some ease. However this still leaves the next Rep candidate well short of President Obama seeking re-election. Here’s why; if you add up the safe states for each party, the Dems have a much bigger in-built lead, leaving the Republicans having to win more swing states. If you count the whole of New England, the West Coast and the industrial North East as safe Democrat (NH excepted) then the Dems have around 220 ECVs before they start. If you count the West, Mid West and most Southern states in the red column, the Reps only have around 160 ECVs. This electoral inbalance needs to be addressed by the Reps. They could, for example, throw everything into Ohio, Florida etc again or they could find a way to connect with an area that is Democratic base in the same way they Dems did to them. Why, for example, is the GOP not doing more to see why Washington, Oregon and California don’t vote for them? Or Michigan and Wisconsin? If they continue to allow the Dems to build up 220 out of the 270 they need without any real opposition then they will continue to struggle to win elections based upon a small number of swing states.

Either way the Republicans won’t fall apart and there is still life in the old dog yet. The election was bad but leaves room for recovery.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Today's the Day

Well, the one thing we do know is that George W. Bush isn't going to win today's US election. I've personally had a bit of a strange journey in American politics recently. I was in the USA for the campaign that led to Bush's first election in 2000; although in staunchly Democratic California. I supported Bush then and was pleased to see him elected. Throughout his first term in office I became disillusioned a great deal but never took to Kerry so was begrudgingly satisfied when he won re-election (more so when Bob Worcester made himself look like an idiot on national TV by declaring Kerry to be the winner). And now, well, as regular readers will know I have liked and supported Obama from the start. However as the campaign went on and plans were laid out, I became more and more worried about his plans for a "big government" response to the problems of the USA, and by extension the world. I don't fear a McCain government - not in the way I would fear another Bush term - and that is my problem. I wonder if I would be one of those people who thought I wanted to vote Obama but lose my nerve and vote McCain at the last minute?

For what its worth, my prediction tonight is for an Obama landslide - and I mean landslide. It is testament to McCain, and especially his back story, that despite 8 years of Republican government he remains at the mid 40s in the polls. I believe Obama will win, but the vote margin will be closer than the polls but the ECV margin will be wider.