Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Council Tax - Labour freeze policy means pay less

Labour led on the Council Tax freeze in the Council chamber in 2011 because we wanted to give residents a little extra in tough times.

Contrast this with the Tories; they have just put up VAT on pastries, introduced the Granny Tax on pensioners and have allowed cash for access for the highest office in the land. They are simply without dignity and can not be trusted. Out of touch elitists.

Dont let the same old Tories bully you; in a corner the ruthless and tribal instincts of the right come into clear view. The rank politicisation of the tanker strikes - before the date of the strike and ACAS negotiations have even been announced - show the Tories are playing base politics with the public. They are trying to politicise the strikes and then label Labour the friends of the Unions. It is something out of the 1980s and the public alas dont believe a word of it anymore.

Divide and rule is finished; sadly no one sent the memo to Francis Maude who over-reached today, leading to the prospect of rationing before a strike is even announced. Same old incompetent Tories

It is the same old Tories; Taxing you and your family whilst giving tax breaks to millionaires. Playing politics with employment disputes in an attempt to curry favour with a public struggling because of their economic failure to secure growth. It is base and rootless politics; same old Tories.

Out of touch and in many Council chambers in the UK; soon to be out of office.

Cuckoo in the nest

It seems that the Tory factional splits between the Rainham brigade and the Rochester & Strood group continues at pace.

This story is so oft repeated that it is beginning to get tiresome; the dysfunctionality at the heart of the Conservative ‘machine’ in Medway is a real distraction to the management of our local authority and improving the quality of lives for residents. It is however symbolic of the factional rot which has corroded the party in power.

A cuckoo in the nest has allegedly revealed to the press that three candidates put their names forward for the mayoralty at the last meeting of the Tory Group.

This blog was aware of the official Rochester candidate Andrew Mackness (via twitter) but not aware of the other alleged interested parties within the party (so to speak); Raymond Maisey and Rainham heavyweight Vaughan Hewett.

It allegedly appears that the vote was highly acrimonious and bitter with both sides using it as a proxy for the upcoming fight between candidates for the Police Commissioner ballot.

According to the Press sources, the Rainham outcome was the only realistic game in town and that the Rochester 'mob' had gone about managing the process in an undignified way. Many also cited the fact that as the Mayor was held by Rochester this year (Cllr Baker) that it should now be held by a Rainham Councillor now.

The ballot has been dubbed ‘the one that got away’ by parties within the party; because on the second ballot a 'loyal supporter' of the Rochester candidate swapped sides. As yet no one knows who was the turncoat but whispers are aplenty on whom may gain in the next round of selections for O&S. It is clear that Cuxton & Halling is a bit of an outrider in the Rochester & Strood Tory Party as the votes transferred to the Rainham candidate; very odd.

The winning candidate for mayor is Rainham Councillor Vaughan Hewett.

Interestingly, Andrew Mackness tweeted the following:

Was he watching the Godfather?

Of course none of this would be happening had the Tories not politicized the mayoralty in their last term of office. Don't say you were'nt warned...

I of course wish the winning candidate all the best… they will need it with less then half the support of the group on the first ballot.

Back to Basics

The news that Education Director, Rose Collinson is to step aside has come as a surprise despite the fact she has had a rough time in the position.

I do not know Rose well; having only recently joined the Council I can say that whenever our paths have crossed she has dealt with me in the highest level of professionalism and especially over my concerns on the Bishop of Rochester Academy; it is noted that she is one of those officers who will email at all times of the day whatever the issue from the member. A truly dedicated public servant she has, as I understand, worked her way to senior office and has a background in Special Educational needs.Her departure however presents an opportunity for reform in the structure of the department which is so desperately needed.

It was always a surprise that the Conservative administration chose to link in the Education portfolio with a number of other demanding departments including child care and adult learning.

Each of the departments would be challenging enough if they were all working seamlessly; as it was and is, there were inherent problems with a number when she inherited the job [and there have been marked improvements in a number of outcomes]. However, the subsequent high-profile issues surrounding Primary School re-organisations, 11+ fiasco, Primary school building funding and issues around governor training the perception was the department was struggling

The education budget has also come under increased scrutiny and pressure over the last 12-18 months. With Conservatives cutting budgets aligned to Supporting People, cost increases in the number of child care related case work, and with issues around SEN funding it was becoming apparent that on a number of fronts the pressure was immense. How on earth anyone could anyone focus on all those aforementioned; and then go onto challenge under-performing primary and secondary schools.

This of course would have been a red flag to a capable portfolio holder.

Unfortunately the person in post at the moment is utterly incapable; and the public have seen over the last 12-24 months the culmination in a failure to lead from the front. Les Wicks could have taken responsibility for each of these fiasco's and as the political lead should have done; as it was it appears that whilst he is still in post the officer has fallen.

It is in my mind the most important of all portfolio briefs which is why this angers. The future education of our young people is more important to residents then many, if not all, the other functions the Council carries out.

The political leadership is woefully lacking.

A suggestion perhaps for Tory backbenchers to persue; get a new portfolio holder (perhaps a capable back-bencher) and split the department in two; hire two directors. With Medway not performing at Key Stage 2 across a number of Primary Schools and a very mixed set of GCSE and A-level results, we need a senior person to focus on improving results and the glut of other structural Education changes on their own. The other brief can focus on child-care, adoption and adult education. It is a full-time job just to improve education for young people irrespective of all the other issues on the table.

I wish Rose all the best in her chosen field; but we now have an opportunity to look at the structure of the department and under needed fresh political leadership develop a structure which can focus on failing schools and engage in the improvements which are necessary.

Inconvenient Tory Truth

In the past two years, individual donations from bankers, hedge fund managers, private equity financiers and insurance executives have increased sharply reaching 58.5%

Ten individuals alone have given more than £13m since 2005 out of a total central office funding of £101m. The top donor is David Rowland who first made his money through property investment before investing more widely.

The simple fact is the Tory-party has become the political arm of a few hedge fund owners and City spivs; what they say goes. When they want a tax cut; it comes. When they want Tobin Tax opposed; it happens. When they want din-dins with the main man; it occurs. When they want a Lordship; it cometh fast and furious; indeed six hedge fund managers were among the top ten individual City donors, and two of the top ten – Stanley Fink and George Magan received peerages in 2010.

There is no evidence to suggest that any individual has used their influence to demand a relaxed approach to bank, hedge fund or private equity remuneration, tax or leverage limits until the comment last week. But everyone knows this tiny elite is effectively running the Tory party and legging over the rest of us; including thousands of Medway residents.

Bankers and financiers who were deeply linked to the global financial crisis have also been bank-rolling the Conservative Party the figures reveal. These include Jeremy Isaacs, the former head of Lehman Brothers in Europe and Asia, who has given £190,000.

A small group of powerful financial public relations leaders has also contributed nearly £500,000 to the Conservative Party. These include Finsbury and Pelham PR.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Backing Boris or Backing Hoo?

Labour Mayoral candidate Ken Livingstone attacks Estuary Airport. Where do local Tories stand?

Over the last couple of weeks it has become increasingly apparent to readers that a number of Medway Conservatives and their surrogates are openly backing lead Estuary airport petitioner, and arch Tory, Boris Johnson for Mayor.

Ordinarily this would not be a surprise. Many of the same backed him in 2008 despite his manifesto containing a statement on an Estuary airport solution.

Today though; Backing his campaign which if successful will make an Estuary Airport more likely not less. A direct betrayal to Medway residents and the cross-party position signed up to by Medway Conservatives.

Sometimes we all need to put party affiliation aside and campaign against the greater threat to our wellbeing as a community. Whilst both parties oppose Labour had made it clear that we want people to have a direct-say on the proposal at the ballot box; a chance for people to send a message to Cameron.

Putting aside Boris Johnson's uncanny ability to be a clown with public money he is the only candidate openly backing the destruction of the Hoo Peninsula.

Medway Conservatives need to stop sitting on the fence and start to campaign against their own Conservative Party mayoral candidate.

Medway Labour will be challenging Conservatives about who they will be backing; the party machine or local resident interest. Will they back Cameron's candidate for the Estuary Airport or candidates opposed.

Raw politics is simple; if Boris loses the idea goes down the pan. If Boris wins; rest assured the consultation in the summer will contain an Estuary Solution and more and more of our tax payers money will have to be spent on having to challenge this ludicrous idea.

The people of the Hoo Peninsula want to see local Conservatives are not being two-faced Tories. It is time for them to back the party machine; Boris Johnson or back candidates who oppose the Boris Airport.

Where do they stand? Make you mind up.

Grubby Tories renege on Balfour

It seems that not only are grubby Tories happy to feed out of the same trough as millionaires in the working office for the head of state; but locally whilst the spotlight is on the national party quietly happy to let formerly secured agreements slip by without public notice.

Same old Tories

At last night Health O&S Labour Councillors, led by Cllr Teresa Murray, challenged the Tories on an update on the Balfour centre and were met with a tangibly poor response of “exploration of the synergies and possibility of shared services with another MCH service, the Walter Bryce centre."

Labour had received assurances that the consultation was to remain open until all options were explored but this appears not to have been the position; instead it appears that the consultation is now closed which is a direct contradiction of the cabinet minutes calling for a consultation (14/02/2012)

The Tory Council is playing with words; it was clearly clearly billed that the new bid was to lead to an extension of the consultation. Even the MP wrote a press release on the matter

Labour formally proposed that consultation was extended to give time for the MCH bid to properly considered. The Tories voted this down.

This is a betrayal to the residents, vulnerable adults, press and people of Medway; to wait until bad news nationally is all over the headlines and then behind closed doors mislead the public and our most vulnerable people.

Was this an extended consultation or not?

The simplest solution for all concerned would to have been to extend the consultation for this bid to be considered seriously.

Cash for Access

David Cameron offering up Number 10 diner table for grubby money

With all the furore over the Cameron #cashforaccess scandal and the unmitigated disaster of the Conservative budget last week it is perhaps worth commenting upon that Labour will enter the next round of local elections in the strongest position for a decade.

The double whammy; standing up for an elite in the budget, and the fact that this same elite has access acccess to the upper echelons on Number 10, because of sums of money the average person spends over 20 years on a mortgage, is a massive and corrosive hit on the Tory party and its aspirations to be broadly representative. The same problem Tim Montgomerie was waxing on about last week; has just got a whole lot worse.

The Sunday Times video recordings of both Mr Cruddas and Ms Southern are extremely damaging and raise serious legal questions and perhaps rule breaking at the heart of the Tory party machine.

In one of these clips, Ms Southern says that she had spoken to the Conservative Party about the situation and that they said that money would have to come via “an individual, or individuals who are on the electoral roll”. Pressed by the reporters as to whether the Conservative Party would need to clarify this situation, Ms Southern said, “The Party, the Party won’t ask.”

The law is clear on the permissibility of donations to political parties. The Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (PPERA) stipulates that donations are only permissible if they come from individuals registered on the UK electoral roll, or from companies registered in the UK.

(2) For the purposes of this Part the following are permissible donors—
(a) an individual registered in an electoral register;
(b) a company—
(i) registered under the Companies Act 1985 or the 1985 c. 6.Companies (Northern Ireland) Order 1986, and S.I. 1986/1032
(ii) incorporated within the United Kingdom or another (N.I. 6).member State, which carries on business in the United Kingdom;
Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (page 42-43)

PPERA also stipulates that where a donation is received by way of another person, the party must be given details in respect of the original donor.

It does raise serious questions as to how the Conservative Party is soliciting donations,
  • In soliciting donations which they believed to come from an overseas source, were Mr Cruddas and/or Ms Southern, or others committing a criminal offence?
  • Is the reported method of soliciting donations from an overseas source as outlined by Mr Cruddas/Ms Southern standard practice within the Conservative Party?
  • Why did Mr Cruddas, and Ms Southern, evidently believe that this practice was legitimate?
  • Who at the Conservative Party advised Southern how the undercover reporters could get around electoral law?
  • Do other donations to the Conservative Party ultimately come from overseas?
  • It would also be helpful to know whether your Commission has been aware of the procedures which the Conservative Party have in place for ensuring full disclosure; and what if any precautions have they taken to ensure that sufficient disclosure is made to ensure that the donor is not acting for a third party.
Trade Union members and funding comes from millions of middle income and low wage British workers. The video appears and suggests that Tory funding comes from an elite tiny number of individuals via non-UK taxed companies.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Labour challenge Tories in Westminster on airport

Despite many Conservative surrogates now backing Boris Johnson and his policies Labour are leading the fight against the blue-rinsers in Westminster

Once again Labour is taking the fight to the dithering and incapable Tories:

From Hansard

Justine Greening: This Government understand that Britain is not just an island nation but a trading nation, so our ports must be world-class global gateways. That is why we are backing major container port developments such as Liverpool, Bathside Bay, Felixstowe South, London Gateway, Teesport and the port of Bristol. It is also why we want to see a successful and sustainable future for that other crucial global gateway, our aviation industry.

We should remember that our country and our capital are right up there with the very best when it comes to international connections. Only China and the USA have aviation networks more extensive than ours. We are directly connected to 356 international destinations, and no European country can match our connections to the world’s great commercial centres. There are more than 9,000 flights every year to New York, 3,000 to Hong Kong, 2,500 to Singapore—I could go on.

To each of those important destinations and many others, Britain is the world leader.Nevertheless, if we are to maintain that status, we have to take on the tough challenges facing the industry, whether it is improving the passenger experience or enhancing capacity and connectivity, while tackling the industry’s impact on climate change and the local environment. We are determined to look at those difficult issues. As the Budget makes clear, we will set out our thinking on aviation capacity and a sustainable aviation framework this summer. We are determined to ensure that we retain our aviation competitiveness and hub status in the decades to come.

An economy built on success requires investment in infrastructure that is built to last. That is why we need to invest in, reform and modernise our transport networks to make them the very best that they can be at not just national but local level.

This Budget helps to lay those foundations for Britain’s future economic success.We will not follow the Labour party’s advice to spend more, borrow more and put our economic credibility at risk. We will hold our course to cut Labour’s deficit, rebalance our economy and forge a path to sustainable growth.

We will make the investment decisions needed to ensure that our economy is well placed to compete in the decades ahead. Tackling today’s challenges and investing in tomorrow’s future—that is what this Budget is about and what this Government are about, and we will build a country that we can be proud of again.

John Woodcock: If transport on the ground is up in the air with the uncertainties created by the Government, transport in the air, aviation, remains at serious risk of being grounded—if Members follow me. On aviation capacity, the Government still do not know—and we still do not know after the Secretary of State’s speech—whether she is taking off or landing.Justine Greening: What?

John Woodcock:

Well, you know. [Laughter.] I am here all week.

The Chancellor told us on Wednesday that the country must confront the lack of airport capacity in the south-east. He is right, but his words would carry more weight had the Government not spent the past two years dithering and delaying on producing any sort of aviation strategy.

What did we actually get this week? We got not one but two further delays. First, the Chancellor announced that the strategy that the Department for Transport’s business plan told us to expect in March will now appear late this summer; and now the Secretary of State seems to have put back the date even further to this winter or next spring—more dithering, more delay, while competitor hubs in continental Europe get on with providing new capacity that could transform their economies.

The Government came to power with just one policy on aviation capacity—to abandon the Heathrow third runway. Since the election, the Government have come up with no practical thinking on alternatives.

Instead, they seem to have outsourced their aviation strategy down the river to a Mayor who is more interested in trying to grab attention than in finding a plan that will work. That is no way to treat a vital economic driver that is critical to the country’s future growth.As the Secretary of State is well aware, the plans for an airport in the Thames estuary are being met with a barrage of opposition from the area, including from her own party’s MPs and councillors.

She would be even clearer on that if, like my hon. Friend the shadow Secretary of State, she had been to north Kent and talked to local people in the areas affected. The idea of building a new airport from scratch in the Thames estuary is a huge distraction from the real need for airport capacity here and now.

It is obvious why so many people, but apparently not the Secretary of State, see an estuary airport as a complete non-starter—there is the impact on local communities, the destruction of internationally important habitats, the safety threat from explosive-laden wrecks, a liquefied petroleum gas terminal and a huge offshore wind farm.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

DRINKin away credibility

Once again Councillor Chamber's feels it is appropriate to send letters in response to DRINK and not seek the cross-party consensus that is needed.

The fact is Labour has led and will continue to lead on the anti-airport campaign. We called it three years ago and have placed relentless pressure ever since on the stonewall Two-Faced Tory attitude to the airport; which was until January effectively a denial of the problem behind the infamous letters to Tracey Crouch and Mark Reckless.

Belatedly we have seen Tories get a grip but they have had to be forced every single inch. Labour forced the change in pace on the failing 'Pie-in-the-Sky' campaign by highlighting the failure to get a grip and despite controversy with some anti-airport campaigners. Labour is keeping up the pressure on the Council and Conservatives to get their proverbial lazy backsides in gear.

Labour has also led on calling for a public vote and whilst Tory Minister's have shunned Hoo Peninsula it is Medway Labour that has engaged with people at the height of influence to ensure that the Hoo Airport never takes off. We are setting the agenda locally and for a party of opposition this shows the new strategy and leadership in the Labour Group is beginning to pay significant dividends, and credibility. The referendum idea is something the public will warm too over time; the Tories and Lib Dems rejected it out of spite...

As it is I suspect that Cameron and Osborne may now be warming to the idea of Heathrow and Gatwick expansion and this is a good thing. Not only for Medway but also the supply chains and jobs that surround the airport site. Put simply expansion at Heathrow in the short term and re-engineering of flight roots and Stansted and Gatwick is the only sensible option on the table. Birmingham is a good option but too far away from mainland Europe; this counts against it.

The pro-Heathrow lobby is also increasingly wealthy; they do have strong funding links with the Tory party but also with groups within the Labour Party including Progress. Contrast this with DRINK - Demand Regeneration in North Kent has zero political connections with the decision makers and is effectively a make-shift band of business owners and past politicians. I can only say that they are lobbying the wrong people at the wrong time. Local politicians cant make a decision on this issue; so moaning at the local Council is utterly pointless... I suspect this group is far too parochial to mount a serious campaign.

Let us look at the core campaign argument for DRINK and dismiss them (some rather easily)

  • More opportunities for local businesses

The simple truth is that there is no survey or actual empirical evidence to support this position. None of the submissions to the DfT have undertaken a survey of current local business and there is no evidence to say that with current contract arrangements with BAA (or whoever) that any contracts would go to Medway companies. Indeed; it would be illegal under EU law for it to occur. Medway has a diverse economy but its skills base is primarily in business services, health and education; the services industry may benefit but it is very likely that current supply chains would be supplanted by other larger chains elsewhere.

  • More jobs for local people

Again there is no statistical or empirical evidence to support this claim. Employment contracts are likely to be awarded with sector-specific multinationals who will look for particular skill-sets. As Medway does not have an airport currently it is expected that individuals with the right skills would move into the area rather then be based here. Over the medium-term this could cause issues around house-prices and community cohesion as the area would gain a more transient community feel

Whilst Medway does have a major problem with unemployment currently the major build and jobs from this would not be until 2015 onwards. It is worth highlighting that Medway did not have an employment problem prior to 2008 with Medway around the national average for employment and claimant count.

In short, we already have enough capacity in the local economy and with access to London for jobs if the market turns. DRINK wll try and piggy-back of current unemployment statistics and concerns around employment and this is disengenous and crude.

In addition the Hoo Peninsula already has a number of small employers. The short term will see many businesses close in the height of a downturn. Therefore the airport plan will make worse our current situation whilst only giving employment rates from 2015 onwards when we could already expect a normal economic upturn.

Of course I have no empirical evidence to support this other then looking at previous employment and claimant counts and the stated obvious immediate flight of capital and business should an airport be designated for destruction.

  • A better environment for the community

This is probably the most swinging eyed of the statements and it is quite simply gut-wrenching stupidity to include this in the aims under this title.

This airport will destroy and uproot countless historic communities and thousands of residents, make Medway an effective building site for a decade and it will undermine our quality of life with noise and higher pollution. A rural idyll with significant natural interest will be concreted over. Houseprices will plummet in surrounding areas and the thousands of pounds of taxpayers money spent on plans for regneration on the Peninsula will be undermined.

There is absolutely no argument for saying a mega-airport will improve the quality of our wellbeing and environment at all. It will blight us for twenty years and once completed we will get the noise and fumes.

Why do you think no one wants an airport or expansion in their area? It is because these things destroy communities and everyone knows it.

  • A better environment for wildlife

This is also a simply rediculous statement. The airport would concrete over an RSPB reserve and not one nature charity, lobby group or organisation has ever stated that this mega-airport is good for the environment over all. There may be marginal benefits to marine life to an island airport only.

There may be some marginal benefits to 'sponsored' land reserves for nature or somesuch but this is nothing more then a mask for development.

  • Improved transport, housing and education

We already have HS1 which gives us good access to London; the improvements to Essex are already happening with a further bridge across the Thames. We already have widened motorways M2 and M20. The benefits to transport on road and rail will therefore be negligible to that which we have an are to expect without an airport.

It is likely that high-speed trains will pass straight through Medway into London stations (as does Gatwick and Heathrow Express).

There are benefits to having an airport with access to the world; but for an extra 30 minutes you already have Gatwick and Stansted. Heathrow is an 45-60 minutes away. This is not a justifiable position when people have cars and access to a twenty first century transport network.
  • The elimination of poverty

Medway does have significant pockets of poverty but this is related to a number of issues which are utterly unrelated to whether an airport is close by or not. I can point to many airports which have areas of poverty next door including City Airport which is situated in the poorest borough of London.

The simple truth is that poverty is related to upbringing and education; an airport will not magically transform schools, teachers or change whether parents are bad and good. Medway unemployment rates on average over the last 10-15 years have been or just below UK median levels so the likelihood is an individual will change from a low-paid job in one area in Medway to another in the airport. Pay may actually be depressed because of increased connectivity and a mobile workforce competing with our local talent. Education is the key to reducing poverty and the airport has no impact on this whatsoever.

  • Better quality of life

DRINK are effectively using an economic argument justifier for this position but as I have just stated this is a flawed assumption. Quality of life however is not just an economic metric; it is about having a peaceful nights sleep, having access to clean air and the countryside and about living in communities with friends and relatives. General Well Being can not be calculated as an economic statistic but it makes our lives immesurably fuller.

It is very likely that a mega-airport will break up communities, reduce green spaces, increase air and noise pollution and for marginal economic benefit, if any to the majority of Medway residents whether employed or unemployed currently or in the future.

There is a reason why Heathrow residents dont want expansion. A reason why residents secured a Gatwick cut-off until 2019 and why Stansted residents are up-in-arms.

This is blight on our quality of life for marginal economic benefit which is why if Medway did have a referendum they would make the same choice that all the other communities have made where any propsoal has occured; they would reject it.

Cash for Access

We all know the Tories are outrageous but if this story is true Cameron is toxic goods...

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Budget for the Millionaires

George Osborne used to say “we are all in this together”. Well, not any more.

Because today he gave a Budget where - as Ed Miliband said in the House of Commons - millions were asked to pay more, so millionaires can pay less.

Medway people were asked to pay for the millionaires elsewhere

In tough times the choices this Tory-led government is making tells you everything you need to know about them.

They prove that George Osborne and David Cameron are totally out of touch with what life is like for people in our country.At a time when bills are going up for families on middle and low incomes George Osborne has added to them all. Fuel duty is going up this summer, even though petrol prices are at a record high. He’s even added to the cost of a sausage roll from Greggs.

And at the very same time the Budget gave a tax cut to the very richest people in our country. Just 14,000 people earning £1 million or more will get a Budget boost of over £40,000 each year.

David Cameron and George Osborne could have used the money to cut fuel duty or reverse unfair and perverse cuts to tax credits – which will see thousands of working parents better off quitting work from next month. They could have used the money to reduce the cuts to police officers or help pay the down the deficit.

Instead they chose to cut taxes for the 300,000 people earning over £150,000 - the richest one per cent. How can this be the right priority now?Whatever he says about increasing the income tax personal allowance a family with children earning just £20,000 will still lose around £253 a year from this April.

And shockingly he slipped out a £3 billion tax raid on pensioners over the next four years. Nearly four and a half million pensioners who pay income tax will lose an average of £83 per year next April. And people turning 65 next year will lose up to £322. And all this comes from a government whose economic policies have utterly failed on jobs, growth and the deficit.

Of course there have to be tough decisions on tax, spending and pay. But we won’t get the deficit down unless we have a plan for jobs and growth to get our economy moving again and get people off the dole and into work.

And that was the gaping hole in today’s Budget. It wasn’t just unfair, it had no plan for jobs like Labour’s plan which includes a guaranteed job for every young person out of work for more than a year – fully funded by a tax on bank bonuses.Instead in Tory Britain unemployment is at a 17 year high, with a record one million young people out of work. Our economy has stalled as America races ahead. And this slower growth and higher unemployment means the government is set to borrow an extra £150 billion to pay for this economic failure.

George Osborne's plan has failed. Trying to raise taxes and cut spending too far and too fast has backfired. And with his tax cut for millionaires he is piling insult upon injury for millions of families and pensioners across Britain.

In the Budget debates Labour will vote against this unfair tax cut for millionaires.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Not a class act

A very interesting post today from Tim Montgomerie which reinforces my stated position about how the Tory party brand is beginning to rot in government, and will continue to do so as long as Labour continues to present a moderate and centrist position.

In his long-winding article today he effectively articulated a major structural problem for the Conservatives. Within he is caught by the same problems he identifies; the solutions alas I would suggest too unpalatable for him and many to pursue.

This blog has consistently stated that the Tory party brand is in a very weak position despite its current position in power, which despite one or two recent minor defections of bloggers and commentators, is desperately trying to find appeal to new supporters

Let us identify why they wont succeed:

Two Faced Cameron

Most Conservatives are mistaking current electoral gains with that of the brand. This is a mistake; the brand is not the appeal; it is Cameron. Like all PM’s Cameron will be damaged as the inevitable boredom and leadership monotony damages his style, and when he becomes susceptible to perceived (and perception is everything) poor judgment.

His background is an absolute killer; he is not a striver, ‘a grocers daughter,’ and just as Brown never rid himself of dour, Cameron will never rid himself of elite. His leadership ratings are not stratospheric and as such can be dented by an appealing Labour opponent.

To put it bluntly; the Tory brand is wholly reliant on someone who only has a loose hold on aspiration, and whose career to date is effectively ‘establishment personified.’ He is seen as the vested interest no matter how much white smoke and spin CCHQ can chug out on the term.

Cameron looks like what he represents; a public school boy born to rule. Like it or lump it; you cant change it.

The Stubborn 5%

Too many on the right position New Labour as nothing more than an exercise in branding its own right, but that is a flawed prospectus.

There are 5% of voters the Tories should appeal to; but for the failures in attracting decent candidates and moderating positions have consistently failed to do.

I know they have successfully selected a number of ‘chic-lits’ and ‘football-bell’ types but since the election there has been no visible attempt by the party machine to reform the selection of candidates.

They have to ask why metropolitan, well educated, single, upper-quartile earners [like me] are and were not attracted to the Conservatives; and why my generation and those younger will forever not be.

It is primarily cultural which is a major problem; society has moved on from the socialist;conservative wars of the 1980s; the arguments heard in the Council chamber that we are the USSR incarnate wont work. I was seven when the USSR collapsed and so were a huge number of my peers…

Northern Question

You are still unappealing to huge swathes of the UK - though not North Kent at the moment I acknowledge!

The hilarity of stating Tories will appeal to ‘Northern strivers’ when you target their communities for disproportionate cuts is laughable; these strivers may work in the private sector but many SMEs in the North have supply chains and relatives; they are close-knit communities who sadly have an inherent bias after the brutal and savage way they were treated in the early 1980s.

This is also the case in Scotland and Wales which are a huge voter caucus.

We see the same with other vote caucuses who now do not vote en-masse; you were a homophobic and intolerant party until 2001, with many in your party winning office on the back of hatred; you were happy to jump on anti-immigrant bandwagons up until 2005, but then wonder why you lack appeal to ethnic minorities who only a generation ago were the same people.

The simple truth is that the Conservative Party membership is not moderate, not pleasant and not deserving of responsibility and has played ‘divide and rule’ too many times. The means always justify the ends which means now in office people see you as cold and ruthless; and that type of rootless pursuit of power, though respected by opponents politically, is seen by many for exactly what is.

It is not a prospectus for long-term governing no matter how many researchers in MPs offices salivate in the South East.


The Tory party is dying, its membership is increasingly aged, increasingly defined as the ‘turnip Taliban’ and increasingly out of touch with the mainstream.

The young Tories who should be the vanguard of the future are, and have always been seen, as dogmatic, cold-hearted and cruel. Many were born into it and really should be as clear away as possible.

Conservative Future is making efforts to campaign effectively but is markedly behind where Labour was in 1999 with the same demographic of talent-pool (hated Major v hated Brown). And the talent-pool will dry up as tuition fee’s bite (I remember 2003/04).

The broken umbrella:

Constantly teased open with the membership because they are a loose collection of economic liberal Tories (who would appeal to people like me but for the other factions), ‘religious’ Conservatives and the little-Englander brigade ( Neo-Thatcherites of her less-important period in her office). These broadly summarise but there are also plenty of other ‘pompously’ self-defined bodies for wannabe’s obsessed with false sense of hierarchy

These are too many men who saw how new Labour destroyed them in the mid-1990s without understanding the values that need to underpin any change.

There is a fundamental inconsistency between economic liberalism and the position of the later two factions who effectively either want 'conservative' values to be paid and lectured to by the state in the former, and those who believe Britain can just turn into a individualist closed shop, for all the good that will do free trade.

Most intelligent people (who vote) now except we live in a global market and are tolerant of other faiths and religions; the constant attack on pluralism (or cultural diversity) and the trite imposition of a mono-culture of what is British (wrapped and branded in the flag) places an undue emphasis on the Conservative-base and its love of flag.

People are always cautious when someone wraps up in any flag and lectures them; look at the rear page of every Tory website to know you do it way too much.

Relentless posturing on extreme bandwagons for the last 15 years; the anti-immigrant bandwagons in 2001 and 2005 have destroyed the perception as the Tories as a tolerant and open party.

The campaign to save the pound gave oxygen to UKIP, who will tease and notch away at the Tory base because you legitimize the position they espouse with candidates (like my own MP) who are happy to play to this rabid 5-6%.

The Progressive wing of the Labour Party will challenge you on economic credibility relentlessly; that vote caucus we know we need to win will slowly seep away; despite the leadership in trust you now hold.

Death by Association

The Association machine leads to candidates appealing to the mass ranks of members who are increasingly out of touch (as above).

Many moderate MPs did not win in 2010 due to the latent success of New Labour as a brand.

Many of these moderates are increasingly looking over their shoulders at membership factions and a threat of de-selection

Labour, in opposition, are all to aware of the moderates and are able to pick at the membership splits.

Associations are wealthy in areas they do not need the money, and are membership and resource light in areas you need to win to maintain office. Alas; unlike Labour reform of the membership system in the Conservative party is too slow.

Labour is able to reform is structures quickly and though it does so at the jest of commentators it does reform the machine quickly and methodically.

The yellow peril

You forget that Labour was at its lowest point in 2010; in 2015 you will be fighting a party which is now polling +35% in every poll and which has gained a million or so former left-leaning Liberal Democrats. Irrespective of whether you appeal to moderate economic centrists like me (which you wont) you will not appeal to those to the left of me who voted Lib Dem. I suspect therefore if you do get a majority in 2015, it will be because of electoral gerrymandering and the collapse of the Lib Dems in the South and South West.

Battle of the Networks

The Tories have lost the battle of Twitter which is dominated by Labour. Obama showed how a grass-roots rebellion to a dogmatic right wing rule can start online; and aside from a few known right wing blogs there is a weakness in the future.

Social networks will become all powerful in ten years time and that is how you will lose; mark my words Twitter has seen the rise and fall of plenty governments and it will allow people to organise against this one as well.

The sole Tory advantages are money, incumbency and a currently popular leader and a machine ability to articulate a narrative from top-to-bottom. All of these are temporal.

The Labour membership meanwhile has changed; purged of the militant they overwhelmingly supported the two most Blairite candidates in the leadership hustings; Labour may or may not have the right leader to win in 2015 (and that is for the electorate to judge) but by goodness the right man with the Labour brand as it is would destroy the Tory right.

Unions of course are not the same as they were in the early-1980s and the public wont respond to the attacks on them, precisely because the power they have is nullified. Some Tory MPs are stupidly close to the Australian-model of politics when the UK has fundamentally changed since the NUM in the 1980s. Most people cant tell you who the majority of the cabinet are on the street; union leaders have even less recognition I would suggest.

They are however a great voice for unifying the left against you and keep the progressive coalition together; so you targeting them; what a moronic self-defeating act of stupidity.

The simple and irrevocable truth though for Tories is that the public are fickle and the floating voter is increasingly not identifying with anyone but least of all the Tory brand. Increasingly influenced by social networks, blogs and twitter which is going to be dominated by the more left-leaning young that you have alienated. The Tory divide and rule tactics of the 1980s dont work anymore and New Labour has attracted, retained and banked a 5% of voters who may have felt inclined to vote Conservative if this were the 1980s.

The solution; dump the religious right, dump the little-Englanders and loony libertarians and fight from the centre as a party. Alas your membership are too bonkers, too divided and too harsh to do it.

And that is why in 2015 or 2020 when the Cameron brand has died and you have survived simply by rigging and gerrymandering the electoral system; you will pick Hague, Hunt or Osborne and you will lose and lose badly.

Email Hacked

At 1045am this morning my gmail was hacked by a Trojan virus that deleted my contact box after sending from my account.

The Trojan also created a similar ymail account which then subsequently responded to people if they replied to my email.

Sufficed to say I am not in Spain. Please ignore any ymail communications.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Cameron U-turn complete

Cameron is backing Boris Johnson

A very worrying development from an article tonight in the FT concerning the Estuary Airport proposal which highlights that Cameron has now been actively persuaded to the idea of a North Kent airport.

We all know the Conservative Party has distorted, u-turned and snubbed local residents, and have quite frankly, treated the residents of the Hoo Peninsula with utter contempt. The countless snubs to our repeated petitions is just the beginning of the 'divide and rule' tactics that London Conservatives will foist on our area.

I have to ask why Cameron picked Justine Greening MP last year to be Transport Secretary; a cynic would say she was picked to totally rule out Heathrow whilst actively open to an airport elsewhere.

Cameron has lied. Pure and simple; Lied. You can not trust local Tories if they continue to support a leader that can go through such a brazen and overt u-turn. They are simply not to be trusted.

According to sources behind the scenes quoted from the FT on the Estuary Airport

"The prime minister’s allies confirm he is drawn to the idea and that there was a “fairly high” chance the option could emerge as the best means of increasing the south-east’s airport capacity at the end of a study of all the options."

The letter today in the Telegraph was not good enough; a tiny number of signatures from a tiny number of MPs and campaigners. It was almost worse to have a letter with such few signatures...

If we are to fight this off the mass ranks of Conservative MPs need to declare where they stand; I fear many want the airport.

Three years ago I warned Tories and residents this Cameron u-turn would happen.