Friday, 29 June 2012

LEP Report opens up 'long term' solution

The publication and announcement by the Local Enterprize Partnership that they would not be backing the Estuary Airport proposal in the 'short' and 'medium term' was very welcome indeed.

“It confirms the need for new capacity in the long term but the immediate need is for better utilisation of the capacity we have. We do not believe that a hub airport in the Thames Estuary is a viable short or medium term solution."

The LEP report which seemed to contain some very similar, almost word-for-word, statements from other reports on the airport was a useful addition to the debate and certainly sets the tone for our regional response to the airport should it be proposed. 

The publication of the report also coincides with the Evening Standard Estuary Airport debate which was a useful exercise, if only to promote the apparent contribution of the audience over 5 pages in yesterdays paper, and also after the Justine Greening interview on looking at future potential for aviation over the 10,20 or 30 years on Monday.

There is a real London media-driven agenda on the Estuary Airport which seems unstoppable.

It is clear that the Murdoch media and the Evening Standard editorial team have a pro-Estuary airport agenda. The articles from Simon Jenkins - a contributor to Times - clearly set the tone of debate in the Comment columns which is that Heathrow is a beast, noisy, dirty and indeed unwanted despite all the jobs. Simon seems to ignore the fact that the Estuary is also inhabited and that situating this on the Hoo Peninsula will subject 280,000 people to the same issues he waxes lyrical about causing distress in leafy Western London.

The pro-Estuary airport lobby have tried to change the debate in the last week - and by reading of the LEP report - there looks to be an opportunity to exploit unless our MPs and Medway Councillor's take note.

That opportunity is for both Heathrow and the Estuary Airport - a position alluded to by Boris Johnson prior to the London elections - would see an additional runway at Heathrow with a cast iron commitment of no more. The commitment would also agree to either a positive scoping of the Estuary Airport which would kick it into long grass (2015/2020) or indeed an endorsement that it is in the long term interests of the UK. The last option would seek a funding solution from private investors; primarily Chinese or Middle Eastern this blog suspects.

The LEP report sadly has a crack exactly where we don’t want one; and that is they have only ruled out the airport over the short to medium term. A point I challenged them on to no avail.

Could the Tories be trying to sneak in the airport via the back door? The LEP report findings coupled with the mutterings from Justine and Boris lend me no confidence that the Estuary Airport is now off the agenda. Indeed this week it could be argued the opportunity is there for those against our interests to exploit.

Our Medway MPs need to get a grip and start being open and transparent on this. 

Blue Badge charging controversy

Eye brows were raised at the intervention of senior Conservative Councillors in the debate over blue-badge charges at the Medway Maritime Hospital.

Many readers will be aware that NHS trusts are under severe budget pressures due to the top down Lansley re-organisation of the NHS which is not only a grotesque mechnism to privatise the service but is costing in management time and oversight. 

As a result the Medway Maritime have introduced a series of charges which will raise £180,000 or less than 0.1% of the annual budget to hospital coffers via car parking charging for blue-badge holders. 

Councillor's have correctly challenged this parking cost - though the fact the Hospital charges for any member of the public is questionable - but those leading should be applauded and supported given the lack of consultation. I expect my Labour colleagues will join with all Parties to challenge the manner of consultation and the principle behind these charges.

The press though should have dug a little deeper on this however. 

The fact is that these Conservatives have a questionable record on supporting Blue Badge holders. 

The Medway Conservatives themselves introduced a £10 per application administration charge for all blue-badge holders in this years Tory budget which Conservative members supported. 

Cllr Jarrett - the Conservative Deputy Leader - himself introduced the mechanism which is due to raise £105,000 on a total budget of £548.7m. This equates to 0.02% of the total budget which is a miniscule sum.

Will the Tories now scrap this unnecessary charge? Given the small sum compared to the Council budget this could be scrapped?

Labour will no doubt support the call-in but the administration needs to be aware of the hypocrisy charge. 

Saying one thing to the NHS struggling under Tory cuts and another to your own officers on charging is not acceptable. Principle should come first.

Friday, 22 June 2012

CCTV Car liability

The CCTV car is once again in the press for all the wrong reasons as resident backlash against the Conservative-sponsored vehicle continues. 

The vehicles (two of them) have had a lamentable local press and has on numerous occassions been caught transgressing on rules which it enforces on everybody else.

My views on the car are well known and I believe it is a liability to the Council.

With the vehicle parking on double-yellow lines, persued by biked NoToMob protesters and photographed breaking the tone of the highway code it is now time the Tory administration undertook a full review of this vehicle; with an option to scrap or wind down this contract.

The car is almost a proxy for the Medway Conservative administration; controlling, bends the rules to suit their objectives, taxes people on a whim and without constant scrutiny would willfully continue to pursue and harass the public. Oh wait...

We all accept that those breaking the law should get sanction; but a vehicle breaking the same laws it enforces is hypocrisy. Taxing people for unloading furniture or small business unloading supplies is not in the tenor of the law. Taxing people for stopping to answer a mobile phone is not in the tenor of the law. The car seems to snap first and ask questions later; perhaps why the appeals rate is so high.

The article in todays paper highlighted several key facts which was previously not disclosed by offices; that parking on double yellow lines is not enforceable if individuals have a legitimate reason to stop  or are loading or unloading, and that also being able to catch parents from temporarily parking out schools is also not in the spirit of the law and can be challenged. This last point is significant given the emphasis on the cars.

The fact that on two major issues the car has lost in case law could subject the Council to a barrage of claims and is a major reputational liability

Medway Labour has been absolutely clear with the Conservative administration that this car presented a major liability to the Council and there should be a full review of its practice undertaken; with the option for removal on the table. The public should be allowed a say on how they are policed; I believe this car does not have the consent of the public and after countless cases has transgressed over the accepted boundary of acceptability.

Also interesting from last nights Overview & Scrutiny meeting is that Medway has a far smaller number of traffic enforcement officers than many other areas; with our 'ward' officers being used to fill Cllr Jarrett's coffers there is now at least anecdotal evidence to suggest these cars are also being used instead of actual people, and that not only undermines our ward officers but also good practice. 

It also undermines the core argument that Conservatives care about enforcement because they are cutting traffic offices in favour of a vehicle which has a very mixed reputation.

It is time the Tories stopped arrogantly dismissing public concern around these vehicles and undertook a proper and thorough review.

Am not holding my breath.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Hacking Saga

Readers were probably aware that Musings was unavailable for a few days this week and for those who follow my twitter (a few) you would have been aware that my blogs and youtube were also impacted.

Sadly because of the online profile that I have it is not unexpected that I have been subject to a number of unauthorized access to my email. 

Similar accounts of hacking can be read here and here and is becoming more common as people become more online. 

Many will have no doubt received emails from friends, colleagues and relatives about being stuck somewhere with posted strange account details in poor English.

All my accounts are now back and running but a number of my emails have been deleted which includes personal photos of my University days and other contacts

Despite allegations made by Tory surrogates there was no complaint against my blog. 

It is particularly distasteful however for Councillors of the Medway Conservatives to make light of a criminal activity and offence. People who daily deal with case work on sensitive criminal matters should be the last to make satirical comment. Especially surrounding a breach of personal security and identity, a topic which Mark Reckless as a member of the Home Affairs Select Committee is surely aware is becoming more common.

The evidence from a previous hack - which I stopped mid-way through - suggests that an IP address from Nigeria was responsible. These individuals have links with religious and political opinions that are not shared by myself.

If someone had broken into my house, or yours, or anyones, and stolen bank details, photos, personal letters and details it would not be a laughing matter or subject to satire.

The last 48 hours has led to untold anxiety that credit cards and other financial details could have been usurped.

Humour was not the best option

Monday, 18 June 2012

Tory PCC turnout incompetence

This blog had expressed major concerns previously on the issue of turnout come November for the Police Commissioner ballot in Kent which was reinforced today by the ballot results for the Conservatives in Kent.

The results today from the Conservative husting and vote highlights an apathy amongst the elite class which I believe will directly transfer to the ballot process in November, where we could see turnout on the floor; a direct embarrassment to the policy architect of the Police Commissioner policy which is my local MP

If the Tories; who hold every seat in Kent could only muster approximately 300 members to turn up to husting that is really pretty lamentable. 

It also raises serious questions about not only a democratic mandate for the candidate, but also the likelihood any candidate could have come from a particular extreme caucus or location based skew.

Getting that number from Tories was like extracting blood from a stone which highlighted the clear embarrassment at such a low figure. Indeed, the figure is yet to be actually confirmed which is not only a concern to Kent residents who should know the result of the selection in a democracy, but also highlights an abject incompetence and central process of management by CCHQ.

It appears from accounts that of the three husting across Kent - and I have no idea how the locations were selected - the Medway husting had almost half of the total overall vote. Medway Associations were clearly successful at the GOTV effort for its local candidate; meanwhile those with arguably better qualification were left without a caucus.

Labour selected Harriet Yeo on a total vote of 952 which is more than three times the Tory number reflecting the open nature of the process managed by an independent agent.  Labour did not conduct locational votes rather one member one vote by online or postal ballot with a fair manifesto process; the Tory selection process meanwhile is totally skewed and unfair in my mind, and actually arguably undemocratic with question marks on accessibility.  

I had real concerns about Police Commissioners and their validity. Given Kent has a large Conservative block vote and runs the majority of local Councils this lamentable turnout should raise concerns about how this vote was mishandled by Tory HQ.

Assuming a total cost of £2m for just the election in November; this has cost £6666 per Conservative member who voted.

Given we have had this imposed on us I will be urging readers to support Harriet Yeo as not only is she the best candidate but has three times the elected mandate of Cllr MacKinlay.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Brooks text a reality check

“But seriously I do understand the issue with the Times. Let's discuss over country supper soon. On the party it was because I had asked a number of NI [News International] people to Manchester post endorsement and they were disappointed not to see you. But as always Sam was wonderful (and I thought it was OE's [Old Etonians] were charm personfied!) I am so rooting for you tomorrow not just as a proud friend but because professionally we're definitely in this together! Speech of your life? Yes he Cam”

– Text message sent from Brooks to Cameron on 7 October 2009, on the eve of his Tory conference speech

Just 87 words, the text from Rebekah Brooks to David Cameron which highlights once and for all the sham that is David Cam; packed with symbolism of subservience, brown-nosing and references to the elite which so typify the Tories under his current leadership.

Could you imagine Margaret Thatcher having such a close personal relationship? 

We all know that Cameron comes from a vested and tiny elite despite the attempts to hide the truth (the attempt to hide the Bullingdon photo anybody?) but he has always tried to claim it isn’t where you come from more how you act that typifies yourself. 

What is clear is that Cameron does not believe a word of it.

Cameron used [or was used] a close personal connection from his Eton days to try and change content of a national daily newspaper to fit with a Conservative Party narrative; he hired the former Editor of the News of the World who is in the dock for hacking and retained him to the bitter end; who is happy to fling his Chairman to the wolves over a minor misdemeanour but when it comes to his white, upper-class chum, Jeremy Hunt he seems to walk-on-water; whose PPS calls his chums ‘comrades’ in a facile and puerile attempt to stitch up PMQs for his master. Whose party funding comes from a tiny number of multi-billionaires and nobody else.

What a pathetic bunch of neophytes; no wonder the economy is in a double-dip and unemployment sky-rocketing when we have this out of touch elite running this show.

Tories can try and form a 'protecting shield of sound' but what comes across loud and clear is that Cameron is grubby and more importantly without any moral core; the fact the spin machine yesterday had to get Mrs Cameron to reveal his diary shows more about the incompetence and lack of capability in Number 10 then ever before. If a cynic told you this intervention was a result of some spin-doctor influence in Number 10 no one would bat an eye-lid. It all looks like a total flim-flam of an operation.

It is absolutely clear from my reading in this text, and the copious others, that there was tacit or probably agreed collusion to endorse the Conservative Party if Murdoch got his way on the Sky deal. Don’t tell me that on one of his many horse-riding adventures with Rebecca that the topic never came up. It is simply unbelievable.

Most rational people can connect the dots and see the change in Cameron's policy towards the media which led to the eventual endorsement.

Of course it was not written down as these things rarely are; it would have been discussed over supper, on chats whilst riding, or at the countless Chipping-Norton set soiree’s, Pimm’s events or afternoon tea’s. Of course there was no one to minute; these type of conversations are ever never documented; but rest assured the evidence of closeness is there for all to see. The smoke is so dense we can barely see the truth, but rest assured the fire burns away and the links between each of the main actors are all too massively coincidental. Co-incidence does not happen in politics.

It is my belief that it this was a dual endeavour of mutual interest; grubby Conservatives looking for office; Tories eventually backing the bid. The Cameron/Brook interest was very mutual; some of the best client/business relationships always are, making the connection personal was ever in the interests of Murdoch which is probably why he didn’t want to loose her.

And how this all relate to Medway and Kent?

Not only does no one in Medway have ‘country suppers’ or share horses - showing how totally out of touch with modern reality the Tories - are but the reference to OE 'Old Etonians' says it all. This is an elite which know they are an elite and make direct reference to it to each other. Never has the phrase ‘old-school’ tie meant so much.

The Tories represent a fa├žade of representation. Claiming to stand up for middle Britain whilst in fact they are a close-knit, miniscule clique that has zero connection with working and middle Britain. On a micro-level we see the local elites spending vast sums of public money on chauffeurs and mayoral shindigs, on glad-handing and schmoozing each other.  It is a mentality and character flaw that Tories hold top-to-bottom; a casual disregard for working and middle class people [and their tax-payers money] and a psychological deference to higher office – even though it does them no good materially or otherwise.

They couch this in terms which appear attractive and dress in fine suits; value-for-money, tax-payers alliance, better-for-less, yadda-yadda etc etc; but the result we can see from Council spends across Kent and beyond. Tories spending vast sums of public money on themselves and spending tax-payers money badly.

Despite claiming to be a meritocracy everything about the Tories shouts ‘vested interest’ from the old grammar school tie in Medway to the old school tie in Westminster; the Tories are moulded as characters from these associations; they are hardwired as characters to look down on anyone who does not share affiliation despite all the waffle in the media about normality that we read. It is why the Conservative Party is dying, lacks ethnic minorities and is closed; the membership is at an all time low because of the reality that this type of character is more akin to the nineteenth century then the twenty-first.  It is why Conservative Associations are closed shops of the great [and retired] good and the reason why we have hundreds of out of touch KCC representatives who don't see a problem having a fleet of chauffeured vehicles and who operate Council meetings in working hours.

It is this arrogance and lack of meritocracy which makes me despise every sinew of their character; they do not believe in their heart of hearts that someone from a normal or working background should ever want to be better then them. Try and get a job with a top MP and only those from a top public school gets anywhere; this is a self-perpetuating and self-supporting crowd from the cricket clubs and prep schools of the home counties, interspersed with a few others who are happy with the crumbs of office.

It surprises me that this power dupe works; how many working ‘Tories’ actually believe the tripe about ‘we are all in this together’ when evidence shows to the contrary? How many hunger for a return to Thatcher? How many are joining UKIP as a response? How many are quietly sitting back and retreating? How many stayed at home in May 2011?

This is a party of a tiny number which says one thing and does another. Working class Tories stand less chance now than ever before; you are derided and mocked, scorned and ridiculed, laughed and scoffed at... this text and Cameron’s shocking judgement show that not only is the party that of the OE's but that they would say and do anything to obtain power; and with that power they reward the same miniscule elite that put them there with tax cuts and favoured status. It is an inglorious cycle of brown-nosing that undermines success.

You get lip service on immigration which has worsened under Cameron, or on helping the motorist who now see a rising Dartford Toll and rising fuel duty, or on the military which is being cut and on putting the family first who primary constituents are seeing undermining of work place rights. In reality working and middle class Tory voters are being legged over in everything they value.

Cameron may have got away with it yesterday in the eyes of the media but in the eyes of the public he has burnished his credentials as a out of touch elitist toff, and a grubby desperate politico who has not a clue about modern working Britain.

The man reflects the organisation. Rotten to the core, value-less and a flim-flam Cameron sham.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

£1.8m KCC Cream lapping

Eye-watering sums claimed by almost exclusively fat cat Conservatives

Just in case you thought that Tory largesse of the tax payer pound was isolated to the Medway Towns you would be gravely mistaken.

Kent County councillors - who are majority Conservative - claimed an eyewatering £1.8m in allowances and expenses last year; with simply staggering sums spent on chaffeurs and mileage allowances when they already get £12,000 of allowance.

A position which makes the claim they are giving tax-payers value for money all the more gauling to all but the hard nosed of blue-rinsed taxpayers. 

How can you claim eye-watering amounts of tax-payers money on chaffeur driven cars and kick-backs on mileages and have the cheek to say we are all in this together?

How many small businesses in Kent have a chaffeur driven fleet of vehicles? Why should public servants drive around in the lap of luxury whilst services are cut?

If this is value for money then someone somewhere needs to kick these gravy train Kent Councillor's hard. 

Perhaps one of our young and forward looking new generation 'intake' of 2010 could stand up for the public £.

Sadly it is not isolated to small pockets; where Tories take office for granted - like in Kent & Medway - the astounding level of disrespect of the public purse stands as a clear lesson that they say one thing on public money and then do the exact opposite. 

At least Labour Councillor's try and invest it for the public good; The Tories talk-the-talk on value for money but when it comes to spending on themselves they are happy to let the cash flow. Wine, chaffeured cars, best-seats at public events, expensive mayoralty shindigs... thousands spent as front line is suffering from cuts and time of recession

Given the belt-tightening by the public it makes the claim that 'we are all in this together' look total rubbish.

If Tories think that people are'nt noticing they are kidding themselves. They  were mauled at local elections across huge swathes of the UK for the utter hypocrisy of spending pounds on themselves. People are watching to see if Tories are spending their money wisely or indeed lavish events and vehicles.

The Tories were sent a message in the local elections about being responsible with the public purse. The lesson it seems is not being learnt

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Standing up for constituents?

Particularly interesting to note that Zac Goldsmith MP has once again put a line in the sand with a threat to quit should Heathrow expand.

The Conservative Party and the Coalition promised not to expand Heathrow in a grubby move to garner votes in West London; a position which is quickly unravelling because of a dawning reality that this site will provide the most suitable solution to our aviation conundrum.

I am minded to note though that whilst London MPs are stepping up for their constituents - with threats of defections and resignations - the blue-rinsers in Kent are doing no such thing. Instead attending meetings with David Cameron under instruction not to speak to the press; which they dutifully comply with.

The simple fact is that should an airport be proposed; and my MP currently is severely underestimating and under-briefing the threat to his own Councillor and membership troop it seems; then he will not survive in 2015.

Either way the trite retort by local Conservatives that Mark has a record of standing up for the community on this issue is derisory; Mark, as Councillor, voted against the Labour motion in 2009 at Full Council to engage in a full campaign against the airport; he sat on his hand in 2010 as the site for the airport moved from an island in the Estuary to a return of Cliffe; he did nowt but believe ambigious letters from the Department for Transport and has likely failed to get an Estuary Solution dropped from the forthcoming Aviation Consultation. 

Why did it take months for Tories to drop the pathetic 'pie-in-the-sky' campaign? Why was it only in January did we finally get some financial backing for an anti-campaign after Labour started to deliver posters to residents. It was all too late.

A record of simply blindly ignoring the fact that lobbyists were all over Number 10; either because of a lack of awareness or more likely lack of experience.

Medway MPs have actually been caught woefully exposed; Tory researchers can try and spin the truth but the fact we are still here four years after the Conservative Mayor first floated the idea shows that the Tory Party and its representatives did not do enough.

The Aviation Consultation will likely propose several Estuary Solutions; that is a direct result of our Medway MPs failure to grasp the nettle.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Jamboree not Jubilee

It seems whenever Cllr Jarrett is in a corner he raises the spectacle of the Queen to legitimise his position it all goes very wrong.

One can recall the thousands spent under his auspices to rebrand the Medway Towns the 'City of Medway' in recent months which highlighted a casual ignorance, or lack of understanding, of the city status process. 

The Queen in that instance was snubbed in favor of the annointed pronouncements of the Deputy leadership office.

Either way; mouth opened and foot ended up straight in. 

The party mayoralty piece penned by him today shows Medway Conservative inconsistency on several levels; 

Firstly the rather ironic judgement of standing up for an apparently independent mayor in a Party piece on behalf of the Conservative Party says absolutely everything about how they see the Mayor. Someone didn't think of the symbolism of that one did they.

Secondly compares, rather crassly, the celebrations of the jubilee with that of the mayoral events. The mayor is not the Queen; one was elected by a shrill and factional caucus of the Medway Conservative Group in a grubby, leaked and damaging way and the other is the monarch annointed by the nation. The mayoralty, because of selfish Tory actions, has become a partisan appointment the other by royal consent of all the people. So lets not kid ourselves; to compare the Queen in her jubilee week as a justification for spending money on a mayoralty shindig stretches respectability.

Thirdly, Medway Labour has made absolutely clear that civic events will not be boycotted, but only those ticketed and mayoral events which are closed to the public and whose profits are seemingly spent more on food and drink then charity. Labour has no problem attending Civic events which are celebrated or respected on behalf of the nation; a mayoralty dinner costing £4,000 does not count as this. I attended the Jubilee Cathedral service with the Mayor last Sunday and my colleagues also attended street parties and beacon lightings; to imply a similarity is deliberate and partisan spin off the back of the monarch; how tasteless.

Lastly, Alan goes onto attack Labour for a bah-humbug mentality but totally ignores the fact that the mayor himself has cut the wine for 'lashings of ginger beer' at the event. Has Cllr Jarrett even bothered to speak to his Mayoral colleague, or not, as it looks entirely incosistent; either you are happy spending the money or you are cutting the wine for a reason?

In times of austerity it is worth knowing the value and the cost; the value is one of civic pride and the cost is respectability and accepting political plurality and re-introducing the points system which reflects the electorate.

At least Cllr Jarrett didnt go onto the Bible; if only he could turn water into wine we would all be fine! 

Sharks to the right

The issue of legal loan sharks just wont go away as a major issue and dividing line between the main political parties in Medway and beyond

Medway Labour locally have rightly led on opposing legal loan sharks by supporting and working with Stella Creasy and the campaigns across the UK which have seen motions put into local authorities, and work on the ground to highlight the outrageous 1400% interest charges that Wonga and the like charge to those in desperate need.

The new Labour leader locally Cllr Vince Maple has worked for almost a year on this issue; and has quite frankly led the Council on this important matter.  

In the Demos piece ‘Financial Responsibility from government to grass roots’ Tracey Crouch made a principled stand (though inaccurate in local context) and stated that:

"The Conservative party changed with the 2010  election. The new intake is more diverse in its background,  and includes fewer politicians with wealthy backgrounds  than ever before. Many of us understand how hard it is to  make it to payday without borrowing money and how hard it is to get out of subsequent accumulated debt."

“as an MP representing a constituency with pockets of severe deprivation that I have particular concerns over the ease of access to certain types of credit for low income and indebted households”

“It is also plainly wrong for banks to have a financial interest in their customers over-reaching themselves, either intentionally or accidentally. This conflict of interest exists in most sectors of the credit industry and the first political party to put a substantial marker in the sand on the subject, by standing up for the consumer and putting an end to unfairness, will reap the reward”

So let us look at those above points of principle and marry that with what has actually happened

On firstly the Conservative Party standing and leading on 'financial responsibility' on loan sharks from the grassroots 

Our local Tories have been beating, to be fair, the rhetorical drum but when pushed show themselves exposed; not only did the Medway Conservative Council group water down the Labour-led motion in the Council Chamber but the result was effectively toothless and symbolic only. The establishment of a task group to decide on policy was a reasoned outcome but in itself has done nothing but wave a carrot to Credit Unions whilst deploying no stick against the government. Carrot with no stick is what happens when you get Tory controlled Councils trying to stand up to Tory government.

And nationally: the Parliamentary Conservative Party is not standing up for responsible lending and they voted against a cap on APR; even those from the 2010 intake who are 'used to debt' voted against. Some change and acceptance of the problem...

Two of our three local MPs also put principles to one side; one Rehman Chisthi voted to keep the extortionate rates, which highlights a consistent but outrageous position and Tracey Crouch, despite writing a piece on how totemic and symbolic it was for the Tories, abstained.

I am sure there are Westminster-centric issues why; Career, concern-with-whips and the such; but if you are going to pen a piece lamenting how great you, and the local Conservative Party is on legal loan sharking, at least have the decency to follow-through and vote for the amendment. 

Let us be clear the Tories backed retaining 1400% APR and they backed the business model for legal loan sharks. That is the base political reality.

Chance UK's chief executive Gracia McGrath sums up the position well;

"You have got a government who says they want to work with the 120,000 most troubled families- they are the people that Stella Creasy is trying to help," Ms McGrath explains.

"They are the people who have ended up borrowing from these companies, who are in the most financial difficulty.

"Those families do not become less troubled when they are up to their eyes in debt, when everything they have struggled to get has been repossessed. You either want to help them or you don't and if you do a loan cap is a really important thing to support.

"I back her campaign 1,000% and hopefully the government will realise they can't still say businesses should be allowed to make as much money as they can get away with."

Ms McGrath says it is "shameful" that these companies continue to operate in Britain.

Which brings me onto the second point on the ‘financial interest’ of the pay-day companies. It is plainly wrong as the piece alludes; but how it is not in Wonga’s financial interest to have information on the financial position of Medway residents and undertaken by staff that then go onto advise, in a different light, financial probity.

Wonga have a clear ‘financial interest’ in retaining fat profits and undermining those who will challenge them. On joining up with Medway CAB they have effectively turned the poacher to gamekeeper. The spend on the survey is peanuts to the gross profits of this firm, born from exploitation, which is why this blogger keeps raising in whose interest is this survey being conducted.

How is this not a 'conflict of interest' for Medway CAB? 

Why is one 'conflict of interest' so totemic but another seemingly OK; so long as the outcomes are apparently virtuous; but are they really? 

No; which is why the CAB and the 'shameful' Wonga deal, is wrong. In taking the money you are legitimizing the company operating in the UK by default.

Throughout this issue that is one thing all local Conservatives have failed on; lip-service, no action, poor voting record. At all times watering-down amendments and motions and when push-comes-to-shove; when the moment of flim-flam, writing, placards and posters fade; when the actual vote happens; Tories are found wanting. 

Monday, 4 June 2012

No 10 bully the press

Desperate times call for desperate measures. Knife job on a cabinet minister included

The above was filmed without Number 10 press officer knowing the Camera was on... oops

Tories are loosing the plot.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Chisthi attendance shocker

The news that Rehman Chisthi MP failed to attend an important Carer's event in his constituency for the third time does not come as a surprise to many.

The MP for Gillingham & Rainham has of late been absent from a number of important debates in Westminster and beyond, and many are asking the question about what exactly Reh is upto...? 

From someone who made no shame about courting the press prior to his election in 2010 there has been a noticeable chill in the air.  

The news that Medway did not win the University Technical College in Gillingham is also concerning. Part of a responsibility for an MP is to lobby ministers for resources; yet I understand the lobbying in Westminster was, well clearly not good enough.

He has also made no friends by voting for tuition fee increases, opening Money Shops and by toadying the the government line on almost every issue. 

This would not be a problem in a safe seat but under electoral calculus and the new boundaries the seat of Gillingham & Rainham becomes uber-marginal.

Being consistent, principled and making enemies of Conservatives in neighbouring constituencies is one thing - many in Rochester will be looking to hoover up Rehman's people come the General election - but annoying your constituents in a seat with no major advantage to any one party, is really quite another.

Of course Rehman may be looking to become a PPS [or ministerial bag-carrier] but these type of positions rarely mean anything in the public mind; it is simply baffling to this blogger why an MP in an uber-marginal constituency with no realistic hope of ministerial office would seek this route.

At this rate 'Red' Reh may become a one term MP; I sense not many tears will be shed if that were to happen.

Tories reach for the Bible!

The news that Labour is to boycott the mayoral frippery for all future events is to be welcomed - especially as it has now been revealed that just one, yes just one, mayoral shindig is costing the hardpressed taxpayer £3,900 and that is without wine

The fact that Medway Tory Councillor's are now aware of the outrageous cost but not one has made the principled choice of refusing to attend says everything about the respect for the public purse. Not quite we are all in the together from the boys in blue is it.

As residents are experiencing pot holed roads and cuts to libaries, Sure Starts and leisure services it is simply tasteless that Conservatives think it appropriate to have a mayoral shindig at the public behest. 

With the economy flatlining and youth unemployment sky-rocketing they are simply living in cloud-cuckoo land.

And make no mistake the fact wine has been withdrawn from this event is because Medway Labour are leading the charge; standing up for the public pound; and challenging the elitist Tories on value for money.

If you assume one bottle of wine per person, with 200 guests, at £5 a bottle that comes out as £1,000 for just wine alone. That would put the event cost for one mayoralty shindig at close to £5,000

Assuming that Tories are drinking more expensive wines and you see the cosat skyrocket. 

We now wait to see if Cllr Hewett will ban wine at all his events or whether he will sell out on the principle he has just sermonised on, and allow wine at future events. 

And the Tory press; totally botched on week one: putting out a rebuttal with a bible quote is distasteful. 

Putting that aside, the Bible reference Cllr Hewett stated was that of the 'Prodigal Son' which is a tale of gross excess by a robed son. The end of the story though is important; the Son accepts he got it wrong and changed his ways; will the Tories do the same? 

Until the Tories change their stance on the points system this type of Civic waste and excess will be ruthlessly exposed. 

The mayor should be elected by a fair points based system; only then can the public see the principle of fairness; so long as Tory factions continue to play politics with the Queen's annointed representative the more Labour will continue to expose the cost of subsidising the blue-rinse brigade shindigs.

It just gets worse

Recess has provided no respite for David Cameron.

In another omni-shambolic week for the Tory-led Government, the Budget continued to fall apart with pasty tax, caravan tax, charity tax and skip tax all abandoned.

The Tories have no strategic direction on the economy; its simply short term and desperate fixes. It is no wonder Downing Street staff are leaving in droves; the ship of state is rudderless with no direction.

With a double-dip recession made in Downing Street and a million young people unemployed, the most welcome u-turn would be a Plan B on the economy but the Tories just cant admit it; they called it wrong.

This week showed just how much of an embarrassing onmishambles George Osborne’s Budget has become with four tax u-turns in just five days. Osborne is too focused on fingering Tory political strategy (badly) and not focused on the economy. 

Just a few weeks after Ministers were defending the measures, the Government backtracked on its disastrous pasty tax, caravan tax, charity tax and skip tax. But the Tory-led Government is fooling no-one when it claims to have cleared up its Budget mess.

We urgently need a rethink on the biggest mistakes in the Budget – giving a tax cut to millionaires while millions of pensioners and families are asked to pay more and the complete absence of a plan for growth and jobs.

NHS Waiting times worsen

New figures show that A&E waiting times have increased sharply in the last six months of 2011/12 as A&E waiting times hit an eight-year high and the NHS struggles to make savings.

The NHS is going backwards under the Tories. Since the election, we’ve lost over 3,600 nurses.

David Cameron could save 6,000 nurses by abandoning his NHS reorganisation.

Tory-led Government’s free-market, free-for-all in the health service.

Hunt is toxic and untrustworthy

Jeremy Hunt's (pictured right) appearance at the Leveson Inquiry this week threw up new evidence that he misled Parliament and broke the Ministerial Code on the BSkyB bid.

He should resign.

But the evidence showed something else – that the Prime Minister is up to his neck in this. We now know that David Cameron knew that Jeremy Hunt backed the Murdochs. But he appointed him anyway. And having made that huge mistake, despite all the evidence that Jeremy Hunt broke the rules, the Prime Minister does nothing.

It took just six minutes for David Cameron to decide to clear the Culture Secretary; simply unbelievable  that Cameron is keeping his cronies in office.

Tories totally out of touch