Thursday, November 18, 2010

Simon Wright needs a new election agent

I mean, would you allow this to be on your website ...

Simon Wright.

Status: None.


Look East: I'm not one to complain ...

I am not the kind of guy who whinges about the media - as they say, like a sailor moaning about the sea - but tonight's headlines on Look East are quite remarkable.

Home Secretary told she's living in cloud cuckoo land over impact of police cuts
The VAT Rise: How will this impact upon our region's industries?

Fair and balanced? Hardly; how about ...

Government brings country back from brink of bankruptcy
Stability returned to region as Labour's massive deficit is finally tackled

I await tomorrow's fair and balanced bulletin with interest ...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Still think nobody should take responsibility for this ...?

Aaron Porter must quit over protest fiasco

A day later and still nobody has taken responsibility for the disastrous events during the NUS March. The waste of public money, police time and attack on the civil liberties of those who worked around Millbank is unacceptable in today's society.

I don't think there is any point in going on who did this; the NUS blame some variant of militants whilst various good sources have now pinpointed students, NUS members and members of the NUS Exec as being involved. The fact is that it happened; but were either side prepared?

The police certainly weren't and I trust that Boris or a Home Office Minister are having very severe words with the Met for their handling. But when this event was being planned, did the NUS have a plan to deal with violence. They certainly should have foreseen this and done something about it. Mr Aaron Porter, Labour's NUS President, is responsible for the movement - the buck stops at the top. Did Mr Porter plan for there to be violence? If not, why not? And if he did why the plans totally unable to cope with the situation.

I am afraid that Mr Porter must also explain the bizarre poor choice of branding for this event - with stuff like this:
no wonder it attracted the thugish element we saw yesterday. You have to take responsibility for your deeds, yes, but so too for your words. I doubt Mr Porter has the honour to accept his part in this. He is putting his short-lived political career above the student fees movement because it would have far more credibility with the public if he put his hands up and apologized. And if Mr Porter will not do this, then his Executive Committee should force him too. And if they won't then the onus is back on ordinary members up and down the country to have their say ...

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Chaos at the HMRC?

I have today received my new tax code which, given the ridiculous problem where I was landed with a £2,000 tax bill only to have it written off after a week of complaining, I have great suspicions about.

I would urge everybody to look at this week's Panorma (click here for the iplayer version) which details the apparent chaos within the HMRC. My advice? Check everything, enquire if in doubt and follow everything through.

Apparently, we're all the taxman now.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Oldham East & Saddleworth by-election: First Dodgy Bar Chart Spotted!

... and I am thrilled to say that the LibDems have given us our first dodgy bar chart of the new "dodgy bar chart season" (i.e. a parliamentary by-election). Even though we haven't even got a date for the Oldham seat vacated by former Labour MP Phil Wollas, this gem has appeared on their website. Notice how the Conservatives don't even get a bar? Wow! They must be so far behind they don't even warrant the extra graphic or ink on the page. Surely those honest souls at the LibDems aren't trying to cover something up are they ...

Phil Woolas Labour 14,186 31.9 -10.7
Elwyn Watkins Liberal Democrat 14,083 31.6 -0.5
Kashif Ali Conservative 11,773 26.4 +8.7

Gosh. Would you believe it - a three way marginal seat where the Tory vote rose considerably and the LibDem vote went down in 2010! I would never have been able to tell that from the bar chart ... thank goodness for Google. I'm sure the LibDems wouldn't want to mislead people either, so no doubt this little error will be cleared up soon ...

Come on LibDems, this election is being held in the interest of clean and fair elections. Maybe your campaign ought to reflect that too?

LibDem PPC defects to Labour (but just make sure you get his age right)

There is a, frankly, hilarious debate going on at LDV at the moment (see here) regarding the news that a 2010 PPC (somebody who failed to become an MP but who was a flag bearer for the party) has quit to join Labour. He did this because of the way he feels about the coalition.

However the LibDems have fought back - taking the Independent newspaper, who carried the story, to task for ... erm, getting his age wrong. Talk about missing the point; this kind of diversionary tactic may work in LibDem Blog World but they'd do better talking about the politics and the motives of the defection rather than the minute details of the newspaper story.

Anyhow, as regular readers will know I am not a big fan of defections; I think anyone who jumps straight from party-to-other-party will find it difficult in their new home and impossible to settle back in their old one. And usually there is some back story to them. Individual defections tend to be meaningless, and as I never tire of saying - you need to look at the pattern and flow of defections. If this was one of a string of PPCs, councillors, activists etc defecting then you have a problem ...

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Ridiculous Claims Pt. 133

Most people in politics really dislike LibDem campaigning tactics; and of all of them, the way that they claim to be able to win in every ward, division, council or constituency in the country irrespective of the previous results, is the biggest irritant. Bar charts being flung here and there - if you stats don't prove your point, use a dodgy scale that will or even in some cases use stats from a completely different area!

But now I think the mantle for bonkers claims of electoral success should be handed onto the Green Party. With their massive tally of ... erm ... 1 MP they are now predicting big gains in the Scottish Parliament including winning seats in every region (see here). Most people in the country aren't even bothered by the Greens but here in Norwich we've had years upon years of idiotic claims of them about to make an historic breakthrough (that never happen). Be it the parliamentary seat or the local council, there is no claim too big for them to make.

IDS vs AoC

I read with some concern about the fact that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, is "leading" the opposition to new plans to make benefits claimants to do work. I strongly support the right of the clergy to speak out on political issues, but this interventions (more here from the BBC) tells us a number of things.

Firstly that the Labour Leadership are very wary of jumping in with both feet first. I should imagine that Ed Miliband's team are doing some very fast and very serious polling on this. My feeling is that they leap too fast on Housing Benefit and got caught on the wrong side of the debate - backing high-claiming benefit claimants over "hard working families" - and won't do that again. Maybe the lack of Labour opposition may have led the BBC to blow the comments of Dr Williams out of all proportion?

Secondly it is very brave of the Church to take on this sort of issue. I would imagine - though stand ready to apologise if polls suggest otherwise - that this policy will be popular indeed. The vast majority of people, rightly or wrongly, don't want people to be idle on benefit. It is very dangerous for the church to be seen as the organisation backing the right of people to do nothing whilst claiming public money.

Now I am not for a moment saying all benefit claimants are lazy scroungers; for me this plan isn't about making people work for the sake of it but giving people a reason to get up, some pride in their day and getting into a routine for work. These have to be good things. When you are out of work you need all the support you can get; this is one very good way of the government supporting people.

I am worried that by making these remarks, Dr Williams sets himself up against Work & Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith; and that IDS is going to win, hands down.

I doubt Dr Williams wants to increase the disconnect between the church and the people - so please, and I blog as a christian, think very carefully before making these remarks.