Tuesday, 28 September 2010

A New Generation steps forward

The new generation takes over today in what was a barnstorming, gamechanging and truly inspirational speech to the people of Britain and Medway.

Despite the labels - Labour will remain a centrist, moderate and progressive party which will challenge the Unions head on, but will not allow the Conservatives to spread the pessimistic and negative myths which are dividing people in our communities across Medway.
This blog backed Ed Miliband from the start of his campaign and organised for him locally. It backed his vision for Britain and it championed his message in branches across Rochester & Strood.
The key for the next 12 months is to reduce the deficit. This blog believes in cutting the deficit, but like the Tory membership it believes that the cuts announced by George Osborne are too aggressive. A cut of 33% to Medway Council budgets will decimate our schools, parks and schemes which help the most vulnerable residents.
Nationally, consumer confidence is falling, the prospect of quantitative easing increasing and all we hear from Tories is the tired and dated dogma from the Medway Conservative blue-rinse brigade. They have scared the public with pessimism which is damaging our Country.
Labour will stand up for small business and challenge the inexperienced George Osborne for the over-aggressive cuts which will damage our community.

The Medway Conservative Group is riven with factionalism and out-dated splits. Its Councillor base do not reflect a change from the tired and old tribalism which has so damaged Medway for the last ten years. They are the past.
The message from the conference hall was clear and concise. Labour in Medway will fight for the squeezed middle classes, we will champion and inspire younger people and we will fight the over-aggressive cuts agenda of the current Conservative an Liberal Democrat government. We will be humble but at all times fair. We will challenge the Tories when they are wrong and work in partnership when we agree.

A new generation of Labour politicians is stepping forward. We have selected a candidate under 30 in the majority of marginal seats for the May 2011 local elections. A strategy which reflects that Medway Labour believes in the next generation.
We believe we are the future of Medway and unlike the tired Tories, not its out of touch past.

Join Labour Today and make a difference to our community. Be part of the new generation of Labour candidates, councillors and activists.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Who is Alan Mackness?

Confusion has rocked the Medway Conservative Group over the name of the new candidate for River Ward. In what could be a sign of things to come, it is with tongue in cheek that this blog can report that the Tories have been hushing up the fact they got the name of the candidate wrong on press statements.

The Party have tried to hide the fact by amending websites and requesting friendly supporters to do so. Alas, they did not bank on the infamous google cache:

The Cached Version - Spot [Alan Mackness]
The New (amended) version - Spot [Andrew MacKness]

Apprarently the selection of Andrew MacKness was not 'correctly communicated ' to the upper echelons of the Rochester & Strood Conservative Association who released a press statement with the incorrect candidate name.

The controversy highlights the total ineptitutide of Medway Conservatives and why, if they can not even get the candidates name right, why they are unfit for office.

In other news, this blog is aware of unconfirmed reports that UKIP will be fielding a candidate in the upcoming byelection. The BNP are yet to confirm.

Websites, including some that blogger manages do become dated quickly. But to get the candidate name wrong for a forthcoming by-election that was caused by Conservative mis-management takes, um, well some incompetence!

Update - 24th September

It looks like the Conservatives have responded with an apology about the name of the candidate.

It appears that the Rochester & Strood Conservative Association webmaster had inadvertantly copied the webpage for their
own candidate list from from fellow Medway blogger and Twydall Tory activist Alan Collins. He has since apologised which is honourable.

Perhaps the aforementioned webmaster should have known the names of his own candidates in advance rather then relying on the jottings of activists from neighbouring constituencies.

Coming only weeks after the InTouch leaflet in Strood congratulating the election of David Craggs after he resigned, and the failure to pay the £11,500 cost of the byelection in River Ward. Have to say, not a great start.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Tory Fast Food Ban Gimmick

Health education programme scrapped by the Conservative Government

Residents of Medway are well worn to the tired Medway Conservative tricks of gimmickry and ploys before local elections. None expected it to start so long away from May 2011.

Readers will remember the Tory campaign in 2003 to stop Cliffe Airport only for the same Councillors to campaign for Boris Johnson's election and the idea of the Island Airport. Many residents will remember the cast iron guarantee that the Sir John Hawkins flyover would stay in April 2007 only for a massive u-turn to happen less then two months later. Many will remember Shaw's Wood in Strood and the closure of the Dickens Centre in Rochester.

The Medway Conservative Group is now desperately divided and riven with factionalism. The selections in Rochester & Strood for numerous seats saw respected Councillors knived bloodily out of office. Local Conservative members even resigned the party, including respected local blogger, former Conservative Councillor, John Ward.

So the latest wheeze to ban fast food shops near schools should be taken with a whole crate of salt. It is dog-whistle politics that appeals to nobody on the right at all; which makes it all the more baffling.

This blog supports bans to smoking in public confined places because there is scientific evidence pointing to a direct link between smoking and cancer. Passive smoking is also proven.

The case made by our local Gillingham & Rainham Conservative MP on cutting obesity yesterday was totally ridiculous. Based on poor evidence and with the wrong, and quite frankly authoritarian conclusion.

The core evidence cited to support the ban was based on one study on obesity levels in the U11s which had risen in Medway, and which was above average. That one indicator saw an immediate Conservative response that this was proof that we had a problem with fast food outlets at lunchtimes. Perhaps the Tories are not aware but pupils at that age are not allowed to leave the school premises at lunchtimes. How can fast food be the problem if they are not purchasing the food!

The statistics did however prove the opposite. If the children were not getting fat at school then U11 obesity is caused by home diets, school pack lunches and most importantly a lack of exercise, probably caused by social changes to lifestyle and the rise of computers. Fast food is at best a very minor contributory factor!

According to a recent YouGov Poll 69% of British adults agree that it is not the role of the Government to tell the public what they should and should not eat. 40% of respondents think that it is the responsibility of parents to teach children healthy eating habits, with 57% believing that the role to educate children about making the right food choices should be shared by both parents and schools.

Over eating and measures to reduce fat intake and cut obesity must be supported which is why this blog supports education campaigns, healthy school meals and free fruit. It is why this blog opposed the position of scrapping free swimming for under 16s and it opposed the scrapping of the education programme Change4Life. That one move proves how regressive and backward Conservatives, with their Liberal Democrat allies are with underage obesity. They are cutting education programmes and the means to reduce weight. A double whammy!

The idea of a fast food ban actually began in Waltham Forest in east London where the Council began to turn down applications from people who requested to set up takeaways near schools or young people's facilities. It expanded rapidly to at least 15 other local authorities. They were and are totally wrong.

The evidence that children are obese because of the proximity of fast food shops is absolutely non-existent. There is very little direct evidence that it is fast food shops, vis-a-vis wider social-economic indicators and home diet that cause obesity in the U18 age group. Secondly, it is regressive because it harms local business and trade, whilst actually not serving the students who could actually purchase other fatty goods at the local off-licence or vending machine, namely chocolate, crisps or other items which actually contain equal if not more calories. Fast food takeaways also serve a wider public who have an absolute right to purchase whatever food they desire. Why should communities be forced to close, or relocate fast food shops, because of very scant anecdotal evidence based on outcomes for one age cohort?

In the end our bodies are our individual responsibility unless our actions harm others.

There is also the added dimension that the policy is not retrospective. It is unlikely that the Council will revoke existing licences and what happens when a school is in proximity to a high street or built up area such as in Luton & Wayfield where many schools sit next to primary trade locations. There is a massive legal minefield which is practically unenforceable. Indeed, some schools, like my former alma mata Kings School Rochester even sell chocolate bars, pasties and pastry products on premises.

Are the Tories seriously suggesting they will force the school not to sell certain food stuffs?

Are the Tories seriously suggesting they would force fast food restaurants and local business, that employ staff, to close on scant evidence?

Are they seriously suggesting that the law abiding majority cant make sensible and independent choices about what they eat sensibly?

Are they seriously suggesting that the reason why we have childhood obesity is solely because of proximity of fast food restaurants?

This Medway Conservative policy was nothing but a cheap gimmick by an administration which has not considered all the options and is latching on an knee-jerk but over-reactionary response on poor evidence.

A sensible option, perhaps, is instead of attacking and undermining local business is actually, shock horror, to work with them! Chip shops, kebab shops, pizza outlets and Indian and Chinese carryout restaurants are working with councils in many parts of the country to make their dishes lower in fat, salt, sugar and calories while preserving their taste, appeal and cost.

In Liverpool, for example, eight Chinese takeaways, eight Indian restaurants and four other fast-food premises have agreed to participate in Eatright Liverpool, a joint initiative between the city council, PCT and Liverpool John Moores University to bring in healthier menus. Under the £1m NHS-funded scheme, nutritionists from the university, led by food science lecturer Dr Leo Stevenson, will devise new formulations of popular products for fast-food businesses across the city. They have acted after the council nutritionally analysed the contents of 300 takeaway dishes and found staggeringly high levels of salt, saturated fats and calories.

Another sensible option to be considered and that was the position of the previous Labour administration and other Labour Councils. Make school meals healthier, fund NHS campaigns to educate pupils and perhaps, and with consent from parents, ban chocolate vending machines in schools. Barking and Dagenham council even charged a £1,000 levy on any new outlets, to be spent on tackling childhood obesity. An idea.

An outright ban is simply unnecessary.

This joint-approach of working requires funding and NHS support. Which brings this blogger back to the core argument about why Conservatives can not be trusted.

They are cutting the budgets and the health schemes, like free swimming, which can reduce obesity. They are cutting doctors and nurses from the NHS and are undermining our core public services. There MPs have supported the cuts to health programmes specifically targeted at educating young people about health.

One ill-considered Tory gimmick and the cuts to health programmes like free swimming prove that the Tories are out of touch

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Orange Order March

The news that thousands of people are to streets of Gillingham this weekend has come as a shock to many in the corridors of Gun Wharf and to local residents.

The event, which has seemingly been in the planning stages for some time has only recently come to the attention of many elected Councillors and indeed, those in the local community who now presumably have no time to oppose the march, should they wish.

This blog will not oppose the Orange order march because it believes and upholds the principles behind freedom of speech and march where it is safe to do so. However, it can see a situation where Catholics in the wards could have some mixed feelings about it. There are no laws against marches but there are some questions that do need to be answered by the powers that be:

1 - What consultation process, in particular with residents and local business, took place before giving permission to this march?
2 - What considerations have been given to the access to Medway Hospital which will be affected by this march?
3 - Who will be paying the cost for policing the march?
4 - Will there be adequate police cover as there is also a Gillingham FC home game which will also put a strain on the policing service?
5 - Has the wider security implications of this march been taken into consideration when granting permission?

These questions remain outstanding and should have been aired with Councillors in advance.

Local elected Councillors should not be rushed into accepting contentious issues.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Greens marginalised over City debate?

The lacklustre campaign being run by the Medway Green Party has lost momentum and is being led by a leadership that is not consulting with its membership. A campaign that is out of touch with the mainstream majority of Medway, its press and its leading civic and social commentators.

According to leaks emanating from the Medway Green camp the campaign to oppose the City status is seen as negative, retrospective and scare-mongering and is at its heart deeply negative. The membership of the Green Party are however afraid to actively counter the issue with its group leadership who are obsessing over an issue with little electoral mileage. Many are worried about the electoral prospects in local elections in May 2011, especially if the party does not move on from this issue onto core ground policy, such as Kingsnorth, recycling and encouraging a more sustainable and ecologically sound Council. Areas which the malcontents suggest could secure votes from left-leaning Liberal Democrats and Labour voters.

The campaign to oppose city status only secured the Green Party 45 votes at the River by-election in August and has been widely derided by all other Parties as based on false and inaccurate statements that the historic towns will loose their identity. There is no evidence that any of the towns will suffer. We will still have a Rochester Castle, a Rochester Cathedral and a Chatham Dockyard. Our history is not being airbrushed.

The cost of the campaign is minimal to the benefits derived. Sunderland Council leader, Labour Cllr Paul Watson has made clear that

'It has helped us raise our profile still further on the national and international stage, with Sunderland one of the only cities in the world to have an International Friendship Agreement with Washington DC, while we have also forged strong cultural and business links'

The Medway Messenger has over the last fortnight backed wholeheartedly the campaign for city status. The paper stated that 'securing the title in 2012 will unite the Towns and have a positive effect on everyone who lives, works and visits the area.'

The campaign for city status has also secured the support of UCA boss Professor Dianne Taylor that

'if Medway were to become a city it would be a real opportunity to raise the profile of our talent and attract inward investment. It would bring a sense of unity of the Towns and regeneration, which would hopefully encourage more of graduates to stick around'

The Green Party in Medway is fighting a negative campaign which does nothing to benefit Medway in a positive way.

Fight on issues which resonate. A more sustainable and green Medway has more mileage and is a positive strategy.

Lib Dem Conference Split

The Cameron-Clegg love in. All Lib Dem announcements vetted by Downing Street...

The Liberal Democrat leadership is under assault from its own party today as the membership of the Party attack Nick Clegg and the minority who have usurped the party and shifted it to the right.

Measures announced today, all of course vetted by Downing Street, will not prevent acrimony in full public view as the membership comes to realise it has been manipulated into supporting a Conservative agenda of vicious cuts to the public sector.

Senior Liberal Democrat MP, Mike Hancock (Portsmouth South) has written to Nick Clegg ahead of his leader's speech to conference saying that he should end the dictatorship over the party by 20 Lib Dem ministers.

In his letter, he says that anything that goes beyond the coalition agreement should come back to the party's democratic triple lock procedures as defined by the party constitution. He points out that this did not happen with the VAT rise or the Academies Bill - measures that he voted against.

Mike Hancock said:

"If Nick wants to change the party's constitution then he should bring forward the appropriate motions to conference, otherwise he should abide by it."

Mike also calls for the party not to abandon its traditional support of the public sector.

He invokes Nick Clegg's words to the 2008 party conference: "In Britain today, some people are still more free than others. Pensioners spending a whole winter in the bedroom, because it's the only room they can afford to heat. That isn't freedom. Children shunted from one damp, temporary flat to another - sharing a bed with their parents because there's no space for a room of their own. That isn't freedom."

Mike calls the cuts to housing benefit vindictive and wants them not to go ahead. Mike Hancock said: "I don't think it is easy to live on benefits today - but if PM, Deputy Prime Minister and ministers think it is then I invite them to do so for a month."

Mike said:

"Nick can make it clear to the party in his leader's speech that we are not abandoning our way of conducting our business or our values. I hope he does so."

The membership were given a clue to the position of Nick Clegg in an interview on Saturday when he made clear that the party was no longer a party of the left. Clegg has betrayed his party, his values and is leading them off an electoral cliff.

Who is the greater fool? The fool, or the fool that follows?

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Tory Police Commissioner cost of £2m

The Tory policy to politicise Kent Police and elect an inexperienced police commissioner for Kent could cost taxpayers up to £2 million – this is equivalent of about 50 frontline police officers which could cut crime in Medway.

£2m which will come out of your Council Tax bill in the form of a rebate every year.

That is bobbies not on the beat in favour of a Conservative Party frontman running the police force of Kent. The wholesale politicisation of the police which will see an elected stooge who could gerrymander resources away from Medway and into safer Conservative seats in central Kent.

Police priorities should be set by local communities and professional officers and not hyper-partisan sheriffs. The Tories should trust the professionals to get on with their jobs and not introduce another layer of political control.

Nationally the Local Government Association has predicted a total cost for all police forces of about £54m or 700 jobs.

The news comes just two weeks after Kent Police warned it may have to lose 1,500 jobs as a result of Government spending cuts.

Kent Police Authority chairwoman Ann Barnes said:

"I do not think that now is the time to be putting money we haven’t got into an uncosted proposal that lacks clarity and detail.

"At best this is a rebranding exercise, as the commissioner is expected to have exactly the same role and powers as our existing police authority.

"When we are scratching around for every penny to protect front-line policing and jobs, to spend money on these proposals is not justifiable."

Ann Barnes is absolutely correct. Not one person on the doorstep in River Ward wanted an elected stooge running the police. The Tory pet project is a massive waste of tax-payers money for little benefit.

It should be scrapped.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Labour winning the economic argument

A Populus poll published in The Times today reveals three in four voters disagree with the Coalition’s handling of the economy, five weeks before extensive cuts are expected to be announced in the Comprehensive Spending Review on 20th October.

Asked which strategy for managing the budget deficit they agreed with, voters put the Coalition’s plans last. Just 22 per cent supported the Government’s attempt to deal with the deficit by the next election, compared to the 74 per cent who were evenly split between Labour’s proposal to reduce the deficit by half over the next five years, and the TUC’s belief that protecting the vulnerable and reducing unemployment should take precedence over reducing the deficit.

Of Conservative voters, 51 per cent backed Labour’s plan, whilst only 31 per cent supported their own party’s strategy.

These figures show a marked change from those of Populus’ July 2009 poll, where 38 per cent believed the Tories would cut best, compared to 28 per cent putting their faith in Labour. They also reveal, as demonstrated by the graph below, that voters’ economic expectations have become notably more pessimistic after a recovery in the run up to May’s election.

What’s more, those polled do not see Labour’s handling of the economy as the chief cause of the deficit. Banks and the global recession are both more commonly blamed than the actions of Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling. Though out of power for the vast majority of the economic crisis, Cameron and Osborne appear to have been marred by association. Forty nine per cent - only 15 points less than for Brown and Darling – accuse them of being responsible for ‘Britain’s current economic situation’.

In terms of voting intention, it is the Lib Dems who lose out most according to the poll. The 4 per cent boost which sees the percentage of potential Labour voters rise to 37 per cent is accompanied by a corresponding drop in popularity of the Lib Dems, from 18 per cent to 14 per cent. The Conservatives remain on 39 per cent.

Interestingly, Populus figures which didn’t appear in The Times’ report show a correlation between views of the Coalition’s handling of the economy and socioeconomic class. The Government was thought to be doing well by 2% more DE voters that thought it was doing badly. This is compared to 26 per cent for C2 voters, 24 per cent for C1, and, by far the highest, 38 per cent for those from the AB group.

Middle and professional classes feel far more sanguine about Coalition economic policy than the working and lower middle classes. This is likely to be seen as encouraging by Labour figures, particularly Ed Miliband, who has announced his intention to regain the 3 million C2 and DE voters who dropped their support for Labour between 1997 and 2010.

This is could be good news for Labour in Medway as the C2 and DE voters comprise the majority in the marginal seats in Luton & Wayfield, Gillingham North / South and Strood North and South. Coupled with holds in Chatham Central, Rochester East and Twydall if these trends are repeated we could be seeing upset in store. Put simply the vote the Tories secured in May is weakening the most in the Tory/Labour marginals.

A recent YouGov/Sun poll confirms Populus’ findings. It shows the government’s approval rating to be minus eight – the lowest figure since the election. Furthermore, it reveals that voters’ perception of the financial situation of their household over the next 12 months deteriorated significantly after the election.

The ‘feel-good factor’ decreased from -19 per cent in the last pre-election poll (April 9-10), to -44 per cent in the latest figure (September 2-3).

This blog has a clear position that George Osborne and the Conservative Party have been wrong on the scale and pace of deficit reduction. All parties wants to manage the deficit but the rush to balance the books in four years risks putting UK PLC back into a double-dip.

The voters and it would seem Tory voters, agree with Labour.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Basel III Is Here!

This blog will oppose the cuts to the Gurkha regiment. It will oppose cuts to playbuilder schemes and to cuts in work-related benefits which are designed to encourage our young people into work.

A less interesting but perhaps more important piece of news is less reported today and are the introduction of the Basel III regulations. These regulations are globally agreed and will force banks to raise hundreds of billions of euros in fresh capital under new regulations designed to prevent the repeat of another financial crisis.

The new rules, known as Basel III, will require banks to hold top-quality capital totalling 7% of their risk-bearing assets, a big increase from 2%, but banks are being given more time than expected to comply with the rules - in some cases until 2019.

The main points

Basel III: Banks will have to increase their core tier-one capital ratio to 4.5% by 2015. In addition, they will have to carry a further "counter-cyclical" capital conservation buffer of 2.5% by 2019. Any bank that fails to meet the new requirements is expected to be banned from paying dividends to shareholders until it has improved its balance sheet.

Sensible policy. Raising capital requirements under ICAAP will reduce the risk of banks collapsing. It could however impact credit lending in the short term, which has been more than mitigated by the time frame set for 2019. Capital adequacy is a core banking treasury function - the Basel III accords barely mention trading off the capital balance sheet (or prop trading) which is of note. This is important as prop trading, through internal hedge fund activity (Dillon Read Capital Management) was arguably the cause of the problems at UBS.

Financial supervision: The G20 wants closer supervision of systemic risk at local and international levels. We will see the creation of a stronger European Union centred approach to financial regulation - Brussels will take more responsibility.

Brussels, the European Commission and European Union bodies are now the defacto centre for financial policy making with national regulators taking a back-seat lobbying role. This is a concern because the UK has more developed regulatory environment which we need to protect. Government will need to keep a very close eye on developments. The BBA and AFME are strong lobbyists in Europe.

Derivatives: The G20 has called for greater standardisation and central clearing of privately arranged, over-the-counter contracts by the end of 2012.

DTCC and other central clearing entities are likely to onboard more Equity OTC asset classes.

The creation of central counterparties for OTC asset classes has actually been ongoing for the last decade. Most rates / credit OTC trades are already put through exchange. Managing OTC equity asset classes onto exchange will be a key priority. There will always be bespoke structured equity transactions and these will need to be reported and monitored closely.

Hedge funds: US reforms are in line with the G20 pledge that funds above a certain size should be authorised and obliged to report data to supervisors. A draft EU law includes private equity groups and restrictions on non-EU fund managers seeking European investors.

London is the centre for hedge funds and associated prime brokerage functions.

The UK is the centre of prime broker activity in Europe in part due to the regulatory environment being conducive to services for hedge funds. We need to maintain this competitive advantage at all costs... otherwise we can watch the city shrink! This is not in the national interest.

Accounting: The G20 wants common global accounting rules by mid-2011.

Already happening prior to recession. IFRS regulations are already standard in most countries outside of North America, who favour US GAAP. Should be easy to achieve at minimal cost. All accountancy firms are training IFRS as standard.

Credit rating agencies: The G20 wants them registered and supervised by the end of 2009. The EU has adopted a law mandating registration and direct supervision that takes effect this year. US legislation passed this year includes similar provisions.

Eminently sensible. Credit agencies were formerly sponsored by member firms, and therefore bias in favour of constituent clients. The mark-to-market mis-valuation of securitised product classes (MBS / ABS) products led us into the recession. We can not allow this to happen again. Regulators will need to hire, at cost, some very strong valuations specialists and maintain tight control over firm valuations. This is a problem because this type of role is very bespoke.

Pay: The G20 has endorsed principles designed to stop bonus schemes in banks from encouraging too much short-term risk-taking.

The rules on compensation are being discussed at the EU level and our regulator, the FSA, is lobbying hard for a result for January 2011. We should see a change in favour of larger base salaries and longer term deferred stock bonuses contingent upon non-business revenue targets. Revenue and non-revenue bonus pots will be separate. Majority of banks have already adopted what is expected to be the outcome of the EU position.

It will not go far enough and will not stop the bonus cycle.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Unethical, Inappropriate and Irresponsible

The River Ward Conservative Campaign stands in tatters this weekend after the overt and highly partisan attacks by Cllr Craig MacKinlay were shockingly labelled 'unethical, inappropriate and irresponsible' by police.

This blog highlighted last week the disgraceful leaflet being delivered by the blue-rinse brigade across the ward and made efforts to communicate the position to the local media. Indeed, not commented last week was the fact that this blogger personally saw Conservative Council candidates for next years 2011 elections hand-delivering the smear leaflet to residents, in what is a reflection on the calibre of local government candidates to stand on their own two feet.

An issue which also brings into clear focus how the right wing in Medway stoop to ever lower levels to shamelessly win.

The leaflet came to a head at this weeks meeting of the Kent Police Authority where career officer and public servant Ian Learmonth refused to shake the hand of former UKIP defector Cllr MacKinlay, Councillor for River Ward and Agent. It then became clear as to why; Kent Police were in the process of reporting him to the Standards Board for conduct unbecoming.

Rochester & Strood MP Mark Reckless, apparently stony-faced at the Kent Police Authority meeting was at pains to support his erst-while colleague.

Kent Police have lambasted former Medway Conservative leadership hopeful of 'disreputable falsehoods' in suggesting it used bullying tactics to persuade Conservative candidate David Craggs to resign just 13 days into the job.

The Tory leaflet, sanctioned by Medway Conservatives, accused long-serving Ian Learmonth of ignoring police rules.

A police spokesman replied that the leaflet was disgraceful and beneath contempt and "to selectively quote from one source and ignore other published policy and regulations, as the leaflet does, is unprofessional and unethical. At no point did the force bully out Mr Craggs"

The leaflet made no mention to the inevitable by-election and did not mention the candidate Alan MacKness, who has remained silent throughout. His silence is noted by voters across the ward.

This blog has also became aware that former Tory Councillor Nick Brice, who was caught kerb-crawling in the New Road area of River Ward in November 2009, had and will continue to campaign for the election of a Conservative in the River Ward seat. This despite the fact that the River Ward Councillor position was to challenge kerb-crawling head-on, it appears that Nick Brice can wear a blue rosette and campaign for a Conservative victory. This blog considers this poor taste and deeply ironic igiven that the behaviour of kerb-crawling blights parts of the ward.

The Police have also made starkly clear that at no point had anyone from the RSCCA made any attempt to contact the Police and at no point had David Craggs made any attempt to clarify the position prior to his election. That point is absolutely crucial as it blows away the core argument of the Conservatives that the Police changed their position at the last moment.

The Police have now accuse Cllr MacKinlay of:

'Unethical, inappropriate and irresponsible' behaviour which has 'bought his office and authority as Councillor and public servent into disrepute'

Medway Conservatives are now utterly rudderless this weekend. It has now become clear that the agent should stand down as agent to stop the damage impacting the election result in a key marginal seat.

It also raises very real management question about any potential Council leader who could seek to politicise issues. A few Council Officers will be privately harbouring fears for next year should the Conservatives win an outright majority.

It can also be revealed that the by-election has gone up in cost to £11,500 but the attempts for all parties to seek assurances that the Rochester & Strood Conservative Association should pay the fee have fallen on deaf ears.

The Rochester & Strood Association was placed into 'special measures' a few years ago after membership lists were lost. It has suffered the indignity of countless Councillors being brought into disrepute over the last four years and recently we had our newly elected 'legless' Conservative MP in the press making a joke of himself at the Commons Bar. Former Councillor John Ward resigned the party after this blog suspected he was told to keep silent on local selections.

It truly is a time for a clear-out of this incompetent, inept, venile, foul and back-stabbing bunch of fools. River Ward voters will soon make their choice and next year you can make yours.

The right thinking?

The Republican Party, the Party of George Bush is the sister party of the British Conservative Party.

Bonkers. Yes they are!

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Want to privatise the BBC?

For all those who believe in the privatisation of the BBC. Look what happens when you get media moguls running the mainstream media. Fox is watched by millions in America.

'Sorry Mr Chairman, Sir, Sorry... Cant possibly discuss that... Sorry.'

The right wing are totally wrong. Changing a publicly accountable organisation into a mouthpiece for billionaires is not only amoral it is also politically dangerous.

Public ownership of the BBC is very much the desire of the moderate mainstream.

The above tells you why one man has too much power.

Yes Mr Chairman, I will ask you the question...

Coulson odds are shortening

MPs have decided to hold a new inquiry into allegations that some of their phones were hacked by journalists at the News of the World.

Well worth watching the ever capable Chris Bryant land some punches. Bryant is of course no stranger to the sting of investigative journalism, after he was caught revealing his white Y-Fronts on Gaydar in an act which damaged him at the time.

He has since recovered well and is widely tipped for a front bench position in the Shadow Cabinet.

Chris Bryant is widely respected amongst Labour back-benchers for his advice and oratorical ability. A former Anglican vicar and Conservative voting student, he has since reflected and seen the light and converted to Labour after witnessing Thatcherite cuts.

The cross-party Committee on Standards and Privileges will investigate whether MPs' phones were targeted, after Labour MP Chris Bryant claimed that such practices would amount to "contempt of Parliament".

Speaker John Bercow granted an emergency debate on the allegations on 9 September 2010.

At the end of the debate, MPs backed without a vote Mr Bryant's call for the matter to be referred to the committee.

Mr Bryant told the Commons he was one of the MPs who had contacted the Metropolitan Police, and was subsequently told that he was on a list of those allegedly targeted by private investigator Glenn Mulcaire.

The Latest betting prices from Political Smarkets – Will Andy Coulson leave? Yes 43% / No 70%.

Odds are shortening though...

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Ode to the CCTV Car

Looks like the Medway Conservative CCTV Cars coming under attack...

Monday, 6 September 2010

Thats Taking Liberties!

It seems that the loony Libertarian brigade are still banging on about the 'Ciggy busting' campaign by Hundred of Hoo Pupils a few weeks ago.

This blog was targeted by those on the loony Libertarian fringes along with fellow Medway Liberal Democrat Gary Allanach. We both disagreed on the legality of the event for our respective reasons

Indeed, the flurry of comments on both blogs can perhaps be attributed to the cross-linking by leading Libertarian Simon Clark, who has taken the odd comment out of context, and allowed a flurry of personal bile to remain beneath.

Nice bunch these libertarians!

The Council of course has been dealing with the copious quantities of paperwork over these complaints. One such response can be read on the popular Boiling Frog's blog:

Re: Formal Complaint – Rachael Noxon

I refer to your recent email about the Ciggybusters project.

We have checked with the organisers and all the people who had cigarettes taken off of them, and they were actors or willing participants. At no point did any smokers have their cigarettes taken without their permission.

This project, which looks at the dangers of smoking, was funded through a Community Chest grant by A Better Medway – a health campaign run by Medway Council and NHS Medway. Singling out the Tobacco Control Strategy Co-ordinator specifically as focus for your complaint is therefore inappropriate.

This project was something that was arranged and managed by the people that made the film, but neither Medway Council or NHS Medway would have condoned any activity that could cause offence.

The young people making the film, and the adults overseeing it, carefully stage-managed this to make sure that relevant organisations and participants were aware of the event in advance.

Everyone who took part knew what was happening and were not in any way offended. At no point were members of the public approached without their permission.

For these reasons I do not uphold your complaint.

Yours Sincerely

After receiving the letter it seems that Boiling Frog is closer to boiling point than the namesake blog suggests. The blog quickly retorts that Medway Council has not listened to the issue, and then goes onto cite supporting evidence from Liberal Democrat Councillor Gary Allanach.

Except, Boiling Frog has perhaps over boiled this one. Mr Allanach is not a Councillor. He is however a top 75 award winning Liberal Democrat blogger.

So there you go then. Totally legal and above board it would seem to all. Perhaps now our Hundred of Hoo pupils can return to Facebook without the snide remarks?

The one positive from all this.

With all these libertarians linking to this blog as well as Gary Allanach, it has surely now put its TotalPolitics rankings up from 98th!

Custard Pie Anyone?

It was with much amusement that baffled Strood voters were posted the latest September edition of the In-Touch from Strood North Conservatives.

Page two is particularly interesting. Perhaps they are a bit out of touch with developments...

It seems that the news of the Cllr Craggs resignation has not quite reached the inner-sanctum of the Strood Conservatives. Indeed there appears to be many smiles all round on this happy snap.

Labour activists do need to get their act together to take the Strood seats in May 2011, but a few stories like this clanger wont do the local Conservatives any favours.

Perhaps we could see a retraction on the oft read Strood Conservative website, which is of course updated on a regular basis

What is going on?

Front page article calling for Cllr Brice to resign... yet he still sits on the Council!

The issue of errant Councillor Dennis McFarlane has been resurrected for one last outing on the widely read and award winning blog from Alan Watkins.

Dennis McFarlane was correctly dismissed as a Councillor and removed from the Labour Group as soon as the issue of benefit fraud became apparent. As this blog stated last week, no one political group has a monopoly on honesty and Mr McFarlane was convicted and found guilty.

According to Alan Watkins, what he did was 'dishonest, lacked integrity, brought the Council into disrepute and failed to uphold the principles of public life'

He was rightly shamed for his actions.

It is then with a slight sense of bewilderment that whilst the issue of Mr McFarlene has been correctly raised and dealt with by the Standard's Committee, we are not seeing the such swift response to other Councillors who have also led themselves into 'disrepute and failed to uphold the principles of public life.'

Noticeably the numerous numbers of Councillors who happen to be members of the ruling Conservative group.

Former (said very very loosely) Conservative Councillor Nick Brice, who continues to wear a blue rosette, has still not been called to book for what on the face-of-it is a shut book case. Cllr Brice was caught kerb-crawling by Kent Police in River Ward in November 2009. He admitted to the offence and was given a conditional caution.

To the general public at the time this was a simple case of resign as you can read from the press cutting.

There are also incidentally further cases pending of staff bullying, problems with leading cabinet members disclosures and accusations of skullduggery over the recent primary school re-organisations. Each of these involves Conservative Councillors.

So why is it taking the Council so long to actually deal with the Cllr Brice issue?

The mere fact that it is Tories that seem to be getting of the hook is seemingly becoming visible to all. We need to see Cllr Brice held accountable.

In issues such as public accountability, no individual from any party can be above the rule book. It is simply not in the public interest for Cllr Brice, who has sullied the reputation of the Council and himself to be allowed to sit in a position where he is making decisions on vulnerable adults and children.

The Conservative Party locally have closed ranks behind all those who still stand to be called to the Standards Committee. Cllr Brice, the most public, meanwhile still continues to sport his rosette and still votes with the Tory whip (though not as a formal member).

This blog, the local media and the public have all been calling him to honourably resign. Unsurprisingly, he has not taken the advice.

Incidentally, the issue of kerb-crawling is very much a concern in parts of River Ward.

Perhaps the new River candidate [Mr Alan MacKness] can give his opinion to the press on the delay for action which impacts his potential residents, and what punishments should be meted out to kerb-crawlers in his ward?

It seems like they are getting away with it from this bloggers angle.

It looks like he might be right