Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Ali Miraj needs to learn when to shut up

Well, David Cameron has now come out and said that at his meeting with Ali Miraj he was asked to nominate him for a peerage.

This occurred during a meeting in which Ali Miraj and David Cameron were discussing a critical article that Ali said he intended to publish. (The article is here on Conservative home, please note the number of loyal comments from party workers and Benedict Rogers reply here). Fair enough, however he asked for a peerage at the same meeting, something which he has not denied.

Are we seriously supposed to believe that had he been nominated for a peerage that he would have then gone on to publish the same article? I certainly do not.

So it becomes difficult to believe that this was anything other than a crude attempt at blackmail. Ali Miraj of course denies this and has accused David Cameron of spreading smears, spin and avoiding the issues. The problem with this analysis is that many will find it hard to believe that he would have published the article had he been given a peerage. Had he not meant to associate the two then he should not have mentioned both at the same meeting.

Young voters Desert Labour!

One of the more interesting details of the Independent's poll by Communicate research which you can view here, is on page 16. It details voting intention by age, and here it is:

Conservative lead over Labour by age group

18-24 25-34 35-44 45-54 55-64 65
Labour 35 31 41 35 37 39
Conservative 44 35 29 29 36 34
Liberal Democrat 13 12 14 25 15 17

Conservative Lead 9 4 -12 -6 -1 -5

So there you have it! The Conservative party is the party of the young*!

*Sub samples of polls can be very misleading.

The Need for Discipline

I have read with horror over the past few days, a number of attacks on the party leadership, made in the most public and damaging ways which seem to almost guarantee another election defeat.

We have had all sorts of people popping out of the woodwork the latest two fo which are Maurice Saatchi and Ali Miraj.

Firstly voters do not like a divided party, secondly morale is important in a party, and sniping from behind at the leadership does not help morale.

Brown Bounce in two more polls

The Times carries a poll by Populus and the Independent by Communicate research, both showing the Brown bounce, at just after one month since Gordon Brown took over.

The Times poll has Labour on 39% (+2) Conservatives on 33% (-1) and the Liberal Democrats on 15% (-3). This gives Labour a six point lead around twice what it actually was at the 2005 general election.

The Independent poll has Labour on 37% (+5) Conservatives on 34% (-2) and the Liberal Democrats on 16% (-2). (Communicate research have been changing their methodology so the change figures are not that useful)

Interestingly enough both papers put their own anti Cameron spin on both polls. I will of course put a bit of spin on one of the polls myself, but later.

Monday, July 30, 2007

The effect of cutting £50 million from the drug rehabilitation program

There has been some talk about the news that the Government is cutting spending on drug rehabilitation by £50 million over the next 3 years.

The story first appeared in the Telegraph here.

The fact is though that this is not a £50 million saving, it involves a net £400 million cost.

Studies have shown that for every £1 spent on drug rehabilitation £9 is saved. So removing £50 million from the budget will cost £450 million elsewhere, leaving a net cost of £400 million. Mind you not all the £450 million will be costs to the tax payer, quite a lot of it is the cost of crime.

Iain Dale also has this.

Yesterday I had been mostly fixing my computer

For some reason or other my computer collapsed yesterday.

Still, I had another one knocking around so have brought it up as a spare having copied over all the user settings and software.

So alls well that ends well.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Graham Brady needs to learn to shut up

I note that Graham Brady will be on BBC Radio 4's the World This weekend saying things like:
Mr Brady told BBC Radio 4's The World This Weekend: "The changes David Cameron has made in the Conservative Party have been very successful in some places, and have been better at reaching out to a more liberal, metropolitan mindset.

"But they have not been making the same impact further away from London - in the north, in the Midlands, in places which really are an absolutely key electoral battlefield if we're going to win a general election.

"I think some of it is about the issues that David Cameron has chosen to focus more on, and some of it is about just tone."
Frankly he needs to learn to keep those conversations private. Unfortunately since he shot his political career in the foot, the only people who can control him is his constituency association. Let us hope some people with influence can get him to be a bit quieter.

The BBC has this.

Flood Defence Budget cut 15% in real terms since 2000

There is an article in today's News of the World titled "Floody Joke" which points out that in the last 10 years this government has ignored 25 reports that flood defences need to be improved.

It also points out that John Prescott highlighted the need to tackle the problem of flood defences in 2000, yet we hear similar from Hilary Benn some 7 years later with nothing having been done in the meantime.

One of the consistent lessons highlighted has also been the need for a single point of responsibility. That should, it is said, be the Environment agency, yet this still has not been done and won't be for some time yet despite the fact that it is a recommendation from as long ago as 10 years!

Now, what we need to do is to make sure this is the story, the government ignoring what needs to be done, and Gordon Brown not providing the funds.

So what's the story?

I have just read an interesting piece by Charles Moore in Saturday's Telegraph. It is entitled "Calm Cameron may understand the story".

It is based on the premise, which I had not thought that much about before, but chimes nevertheless that the media get a story in their heads, and can't let go. The current story is that Gordon Brown is not Tony Blair, which I have to say is not much of a shock to me.

Hence, when Labour were caught with a million pound donation from Bernie Ecclestone and changed policy on banning smoking advertising, that was not the story, because the story was that Tony Blair was a straight kind of guy. In fact Charles says this on the matter:
For example, Tony Blair's exemption in 1997 of Formula One from the ban on tobacco advertising because F1's Bernie Ecclestone had given money to the Labour Party was a big story. But it never really took off because The Story then was that Mr Blair was, as he put it, "a pretty straight kind of guy".

When "cash for honours" - actually a much less clear case of corruption - came along, however, The Story had changed. Mr Blair was now regarded as a lying sleazeball, and so poor little rich curry kings and property developers who had been so rash as to lend to Labour were pilloried for years. The Story demanded it.
In essence what we need to do is to stay calm, and look to grab the story when we can. The flooding may provide some help as a close look indicates cuts in flood defence budgets that need explaining.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Rumblings in the Conservative party

Since Gordon Brown has taken over Labour has led in the polls. The last YouGov poll had them 9% ahead.

There then seems to have been some rumblings in the party, some pointing to the great grammar school row, others to the flooding. Some appear to be questioning David Cameron's leadership.

There is an interesting article in the Spectator by Fraser Nelson, looking at who the potential contenders could be should David Cameron fall under a bus, whilst over the weekend we are going to be treated to a series of articles on who could follow Cameron with the finale being an article on who Labour would most fear.

Personally I don't buy it. David Cameron is the only game in town. However there are concerns about the front bench.

Just where the **** was Peter Ainsworth the Conservative shadow Environment minister during the floods asks Iain Dale? What ever he was actually doing he got no air time. Guido pens a short article on the same theme here.

In this article Ben Brogan expresses some concern over just how many part timers the Conservative party has on its front bench. (I have covered the number of part timers on the Liberal Democrats front bench here).

What it all boils down to is this: If we want to win, and I can assure you many of us do, we are going to have to work very very hard. What is more we are going to have to up our game. Those members of the front bench who can't get air time need to take lessons from those who can and do like David Davies. Also Andy Coulson needs to seriously help up the game. It is not just about press releases.

Over the summer, we need to up our game, hit Labour and hit it hard, day in and day out. There is much work to do.

Your top 20 political blogs

Iain Dale is running a competition to find the top 100 political blogs, instead of picking them himself. What he wants blog readers to do, is to list their top 20 political blogs, and email them to him your list to iain AT iaindale DOT com and type Top 20 in the subejct line or post them on the comments section of this article.

The closing date is August the 15th 2007.

As an incentive there will be a prize draw including all entrants, and the winner will get £100 pounds worth of political DVD's.

From this he will compile a list of the top 100, and it will go into a guide to political blogging.

Oh, and feel free to nominate me at number 1! :)

Friday, July 27, 2007

Gordon Brown 's bounce continues

Gordon Brown 's bounce continues, causing much speculation about an October general Election.

A YouGov poll for today's Telegraph puts Labour on 41% (+1) the Conservatives on 32% (-1) and the Liberal Democrats on 16% (+1).

Over on politicalbetting.com there is much speculation about an early general election. Whilst these poll numbers would ensure a Labour victory, there are a couple of caveats. Firstly I can't see the Liberal Democrats doing that badly in a general election, so there vote share will go up, the Conservative vote share is already about as low as it will go, so the increase will knock a couple of points of Labour.

The other caveat is the number of people who disapprove of the government's record to date (52%) or don't know (20%) compared to those who approve (27%). In fact if you look at this graphic the don't knows are quite large. It may well be that they just won't vote, but it certainly is all to play for.

Over July local by-elections have shown a consistent lead Conservative lead over Labour of about 8% according to the Press Association. (See here).

One other thing on polls and elections, I am fairly certain that turnout will be up on 2005, possibly as high as 70%. That means a lot of people who did not vote in 2005 (or indeed in 2001, or 1997) will be voting again. These voters look like the "don't knows" and are classic swing voters. They will ultimately decide the next election, quite possibly on how wealthy they feel compared to last year or the year before.

Then there is the economy. Where is that going? Well as I highlighted here, there are some potential problems ahead centered mainly around the reduction in cheap credit. That has also led to sharp falls in stock markets around the world, and so far today those falls continue though at a slower pace. (I doubt they will go much further than they have already gone though). Oil prices are also high nearly at record levels, which will add to inflation as energy prices may rise, having fallen back from last years high. if inflation picks up again then there is the potential for another rise in bank interest rates. this will further eat into disposable incomes and make people feel poorer than they did.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Will Gordon Brown call a snap election? No!

Gordon Brown will not call a snap election for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that the economy currently looks a bit better than it is.

As I have highlighted before there are some problems in the economy but this article in the Guardian by its economics editor seems to list quite a few of them.

In short disposable income is dropping so people will feel poorer. What is more the current growth is still debt fueled and there is some evidence the debt balloon is ceasing growth and possibly going into some decline.

Then there is housing. For some not particularly well explained reason people who have been buying to sit (that is buying property to leave it to sell at a later date for a profit) have been buying the wrong sort of property off plan, in some areas like Salford where they have been buying executive apartments where executives are unlikely to want to live.

So when people come back from holiday they are going to be poorer and then tighten their belts. That will result in lower growth and more belt tightening. What is more that will also squeeze the amount of tax revenue coming in. If money supply does not slow, slowing asset inflation then interest rates will go up again, making the situation worse.

In short not a good time to hold an election.

Mind you, there won't be a better time either.

Is the news border control force just spin and gimmicks?

Gordon Brown announced that there would be a new border control force, which would have been the adoption of Conservative (and also Liberal Democrat) policy, that Labour have to date argued against.

It looks like a U turn, but in fact isn't really because the reality is that immigration, customs and visa staff will just hang out together in similar uniforms rather than a single coordinated force including police powers and coordinating with all agencies.

In short, looks good, probably won't achieve much.

The BBC has this.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Water Bowsers are empty in Gloucester

One of the things that struck me about the effects of flooding in Gloucester is that the water bowsers are empty a lot of the time. People are hunting for water, and yet there is none. Some of this is down to vandalism of a couple of bowsers, but for the most part, they are not being refiled often enough.

This is obviously causing much angst in Gloucester as it is making life much harder.

It seems Gordon Brown has ordered more tankers in, but the rather obvious answer would be to get in the Army to look after the logistics, except that we can't do that because the army are just far too busy being overstretched.

Are the letter writers going to get a kicking?

Every Wednesday when parliament is sitting the 1922 Committee meets. The leader of the party, David Cameron can only attend if invited, but usually does. (I presume he is usually invited). David Cameron is attending this meeting.

The MSM are putting it about that the meeting is about David Cameron's leadership and the letter writers. My current information is that line is wrong, it is all about the letter writers, and giving them a good going over.

As I said in this article, it is one thing to have doubts, and indeed write the the chairman of the 1922 Committee, and entirely another to blab and get it all over the weekend press.

I hear many of the camps in the parliamentary Conservative party are deeply unhappy with the letter writers and distancing themselves for it. I suspect it won't take long to find out who they were, and then they will be given a really hard time.

Gordon Brown's 4th Prime Ministers Questions

Well, this is Gordon Brown's 4th Prime Ministers Questions and the last before the summer recess.

So far on the floods, there seems to be some consensus on the floods, though David Cameron has raised the question of funding for local councils to cover flood relief.

However it has been fairly consensual on the floods.

Some MP's seem to be needling Gordon Brown for not getting his feet wet in the floods, preferring to stay in the air or at control centers.

In David Cameron's second round of questions he raised the question of the EU Constitution. Apparently the Spanish Foreign minister says the treaty is 98% of the treaty whilst the Irish Prime Minister says it is 90%. How much does Gordon Brown think it is? Unsurprisingly Gordon Brown has not given a percentage.

Interesting trading quotes from each others sides, though Gordon Brown did have a good last word, not answering the question but putting the line that the Conservatives have gone back to "the old agenda".

In answer to a Liberal Democrat question on military overstretch he said he would provide all the equipment that the armed services need in Afghanistan. We have had this promise before, and it still has not been met!

For More on Prime Ministers Questions, see here.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Brown Bounce continues, but is still not long lasting!

The Guardian has just published its monthly ICM poll which shows Labour at 38% (-1), Conservatives on 32%(-3) and the Liberal Democrats at 20% (+2).

However some of the other numbers are a bit worrying, showing some discontent amongst Conservative voters about David Cameron.

That said we are at fairly early stages in the Brown premiership, Gordon Brown having been Prime minister for just under a month (it is one month tomorrow).

What is clear is that the Conservatives need to recapture the agenda, which was always going to be hard during the transition and doubly so during the flooding.

Hat tip to Frank on PoliticalBetting.com for the link, whilst political betting has this.

MOD admits military overstretch

After Sir Richard Dannatt's memo talking of military overstretch was leaked last Sunday a government minister has admitted that the military is a bit stretched. Bob Ainsworth said that the view was both widely spread and known.

"I don't think it's any secret that with the amounts of people we have deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan that there are not huge resources around for contingencies and other things that might arise," he told the Commons defence committee.

That's nice. Any chance of the more resource for our military, and please don't send them into wars your not prepared to pay for.

For more, see yahoo news here.

Hat tip to Yokel for the link.

Damned if you do, damned if you don't!

It appears that David Cameron is getting some flak over his decision to carry on with his trip to Rwanda which has been in planning for over a year.

The Rwanda trip also involves a number of volunteers on the ground getting involved in some on the ground projects which are both helpful to the local population and a learning exercise for the volunteers.

The overall message of the trip is that Africa needs trade to get off aid. Trade makes individuals wealthy, as they get jobs, can feed themselves and move out of poverty. It also gradually makes them less accepting of the old ways of bad governance particularly as they get a bit of education and communication. In fact this is beginning to happen in some parts of Africa as highlighted by this article here, on a mobile revolution in Africa.

However, David Cameron is being criticised for going on the trip, for two days whilst there is all this flooding. Well, he has visited some flood hit areas, and all he can do really is go look, and nothing more. If he spent too much time there he could arguably get in the way of the rescue and rebuilding work.

On the other hand what would have happened if he had cancelled his trip? I have no doubt that some would criticise him for "rubber necking" at the floods, just to get his picture taken, when all he can in fact do is ask awkward questions at the next Prime ministers questions.

Building on Flood plains

One of the hot topics for debate is going to be "can we build housing on flood plains?"

The answer is going to be, depends.

If you imagine a river that is 20 feet deep (about 6 metres) from the bottom to the top of the river bank and 40 feet wide (about 12 metres) running from from a few feet deep in the middle of a long hot summer to almost near the top in a wet winter, can you build on the flood plains around it?

Well, in unusual weather you will easily top the river bank. You can put in flood barriers but the problem is that if you try to constrain the river at the same width, then the only option is to force the water to go high. There is only so high that you can build temporary flood barriers before the weight of water will just push them away. So the river may well need to expand sideways, and possibly by some margin.

If then we build on flood plains, but away from the river, so that we can erect the flood barriers 40 feet away from the river each side, then the river will have a great deal of room to expand reducing the height of the water.

It does involve sacrificing land to the potential of one of floods, but if this was done then at least people could get insurance for their houses and the risks would be mitigated.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Flood defence budget cut and cut again!

Whilst many parts of the country are suffering from flooding, in fact extremely severe flooding it is worth considering what if anything, the political backlash could be.

Over the last few years DEFRA, the Department for the Eradication of Farming and Rural Areas, has been in crisis because it has made a complete mess of the new farm payments system causing massive extra costs and fines.

The net result according to this article in last years Guardian is a cut to flood defences. What is worse is that according to this article in Ground Sure, of the 10th of July this year, the budget cuts are still going ahead.

What is more, we can't call in the armed services to help, because they are overstretched.

At times like this it does not take a genius to work out whwww.at sort of questions are going to come up at Prime ministers questions. Rather obviously Gordon Brown will therefore be prepared. I wonder how the follow up questions will go?

Hat tip to ColinW on politicalbetting.com for the links to the Guardian and Ground Sure.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Who will rid us of these troublesome letter writers?

Today's Sunday Telegraph carries the story that between 2 and 6 Conservative MP's have written to Sir Michael Spicer, the Chairman of the 1922 committee calling for a vote of no confidence in David Cameron.

Not only have they done that they have also sought to brief the press on the matter as well.

This is daft. I do not care a jot why they have written to Sir Michael, or in fact that they have, but what sets my blood boiling is that they chose to make their dissent public in a very damaging way.

As the leader in today's Telegraph, headlined "These foolish letter writers":
They have not learned one of the most glaringly obvious political lessons: the only outcome of division is disaster.
These MP's probably come from safe constituencies and obviously do not give a stuff about less safe seats or target seats and obviously do not want to get into government.

There is much discussion on this on politicalbetting.com of which there are some priceless quotes, one from Punter:
I heard Cameron on radio today. Although recorded before news of the letters, I bet he knew of them. He certainly didn’t sound like a man who was going to roll over. In fact he sounded far more steely than I’ve ever heard of him. Crucially also I think Andrew Mitchell a key member of the Davis sensible right faction also came out swinging in support. I think this grouping and the Cameroons are now essentially joined at the hip, at least in the view that the Leigh tendency poses a mortal threat, and that whatever differences they have that grouping needs to be slapped down and slapped down so hard they never get up again
And this from Stonch who is a little left of center (and writes about beer here):
Cameron is the first Tory leader since 97 to succeed in leading Labour in the opinion polls. He led his party to a result in the local elections not even the most fervent of Tories believed would happen.

Cameron and his crew have made one massive mistake, and it’s coming to a head now - they believed their own propaganda. Gordon Brown is not a bumbling, mentally retarded wierdo. He’s a cunning politician who has bided his time for years and clearly wasn’t going to come unstuck immediately upon assuming office.

However, the Brown bounce will wear off. So the Tories lost two by-elections? Yes it makes Cameron look foolish - his own fault. But they were always going to lose them, and there’s everything to play for going forward.

If Brown had the balls to call an autumn election, he’d almost certainly take a narrow majority and have a rough time ahead. If he doesn’t, I suspect the pendulum will swing back and forth in the months and years to come, and he won’t be certain of a fresh mandate. That’s what normal politics is like, we should embrace it.

If David Cameron is challenged by any of these head banger right wingers, the rest of the party should boot them out. I don’t like Cameron at the moment because the homogenity his inner circle scares me and I think he comes over as two-faced, but even I can recognise he’s the right leader for them at the moment - and anyway, he’s all they’ve got.

Lets not have a one party state, people.

These troublesome letter writers need to be dealt with and fast. Their constituency associations need to have a word. Private dissent is fine, public dissent like this ensures defeat.

Brown Bounce long lasting?

When I watched BBC news 24's Saturday night paper review, for the Sunday Papers they quoted a couple of polls, one in the Sunday Times* that puts Labour in 40% and the Conservatives on 33 and one in the Observer that puts Labour on 41% and the Conservatives on 35% giving a 7 and 6% lead respectively.

This, two weeks after Gordon Brown's take over is "long lasting"? Well that is what the BBC said. I know that Gordon may be boring and two weeks with him as leader may seem like a long time, but this is ridiculous.

If it goes on for 3 months, I will be impressed, but it still wont be a long lasting bounce.

* I have as yet not got a link to that poll.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Cash for Peerages, A private prosecution?

One thing that is clear from the Cash for honours affair is that those who suspect wrong doing are not happy. Guido has set up an online pledge to see how many people he can get together to back a private prosecution. I have signed it, see here.

This mainly centers on a rather obvious breech of the The Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 and in particular the loans made. Part IV of the act, section 50 says as follows:

Donations for purposes of Part IV.

50. - (1) The following provisions have effect for the purposes of this Part.

(2) "Donation", in relation to a registered party, means (subject to section 52)-

(a) any gift to the party of money or other property;

(b) any sponsorship provided in relation to the party (as defined by section 51);

(c) any subscription or other fee paid for affiliation to, or membership of, the party;

(d) any money spent (otherwise than by or on behalf of the party) in paying any expenses incurred directly or indirectly by the party;

(e) any money lent to the party otherwise than on commercial terms;

(f) the provision otherwise than on commercial terms of any property, services or facilities for the use or benefit of the party (including the services of any person).
Note (e) in bold. In principle a prosecution would turn on whether loans made, for Lordships, were or were not on commercial terms. There are statements in the public domain that indicate some certainly were not on what any sensible person would regard as commercial terms, and indeed it is arguable that were the Labour party in a position to borrow on commercial terms it would have done so. So if the loans were not commercial we get to section 61 which is here:

61. - (1) A person commits an offence if he-

(a) knowingly enters into, or

(b) knowingly does any act in furtherance of, any arrangement which facilitates or is likely to facilitate, whether by means of any concealment or disguise or otherwise, the making of donations to a registered party by any person or body other than a permissible donor.

(2) A person commits an offence if-

(a) he knowingly gives the treasurer of a registered party any information relating to-

(i) the amount of any donation made to the party, or

(ii) the person or body making such a donation,

which is false in a material particular; or

(b) with intent to deceive, he withholds from the treasurer of a registered party any material information relating to a matter within paragraph (a)(i) or (ii).
Now, we know that Jack Dromey the Labour party treasurer claims he was blissfully unaware of theses loans. If they were indeed not commercial then clearly there is an offence here as well.
though (b) would give some trouble as there is a need to show intent.

Now, it has to be said that the CPS did look at the issue of loans but dismissed them thus, at paragraph 30 of their statement:

30. In relation to possible breaches of the 2000 Act, we are satisfied that we
cannot exclude the possibility that any loans made – all of which were made
following receipt by the Labour Party of legal advice - can properly be
characterised as commercial.

Which seems a bit dismissive and rather odd. After all legal opinions vary,. look at Lord Goldsmith on the Iraq war. However what they seem to be saying is Labour's lawyers say it's OK so it is.

So, if you think we have been short changed, please read Guido here and sign the pledge here.

Army short of troops and equipment

The Daily Telegraph has been leaked a memo by Sir Richard Dannatt Chief of the General Staff to other senior defence chiefs.

The situation is that our military is severely overstretched and has not got any capacity to handle the unexpected.

To put this in perspective during the cold war, and at the time of the Falklands war we had something like 250,000 men in the army, now we have about 100,000.

What is more regiments are no longer moving with their equipment, for example the Parachute Regiment has had to leave most of its equipment in Afghanistan so that their replacements can use it. This has two knock on effects. Firstly it means that can't train with their own equipment out of theatre, to ready themselves for a return, and secondly the equipment gets worn out, because it is in constant use without the downtime for maintenance. There seems to be little or no budget to replace battlefield losses either.

Being engaged in a long war does involve a lot of expense, as well as extra equipment. Despite promises the forces in Afghanistan still do not have what they need to fight and do the job.

In short, the problem is we have peace time defence spending whilst we are fighting wars on two fronts. In short, it is nuts.

The BBC also has this.

Friday, July 20, 2007

IF you can keep your head

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:
An extract from If, by Rudyard Kipling.

Could I suggest that all my colleagues in the party don't go running around like headless chickens trying to dish the blame out to everyone else?

You have to invest an enormous amount of emotional energy in an election and more so in a by-election, and I appreciate that we would have liked to have done better, but we are where we are.

Now is not the time to lose our heads, but to steel ourselves for the fight ahead,

Ealing Southall by-election result Labour hold!

Party Candidate Votes %

Liberal Democrats Nigel Bakhai 10118 27.7

Monster Raving Loony John Cartwright 188 0.51

English Democrats Sati Chaggar 152 0.42

Respect Salvinder Dhillon 588 1.61

Green Sarah Edwards 1135 3.11

Independent Kuldeep Grewal 87 0.24

Conservative Tony Lit 8230 22.53

Independent Yaqub Maish 280 0.77

Independent Jasdev Rai 275 0.75

UK Independence Kunnathur Rajan 285 0.78

Labour Virendra Sharma 15100 41.34

Independent Gulbash Singh 92 0.25


Total Votes Cast

Sedgefield by-election Result, Labour hold

Party Candidate Votes %

English Democrats Stephen Gash 177 0.63

Independent Paul Gittins 1885 6.74

Christian Tim Grainger 177 0.63

Green Chris Haine 348 1.24

Monster Raving Loony Alan Hope 147 0.53

UK Independence Toby Horton 536 1.92

Conservative Graham Robb 4082 14.59

Anti Crime Norman Scarth 34 0.12

British National Party Andrew Spence 2494 8.91

Liberal Democrats Greg Stone 5573 19.92

Labour Phil Wilson 12528 44.77


Total Votes Cast

Well, the Liberal Democrats did not do that well, but the did put us in to third place.

The BNP slow hand clapped Phil Wilson which is the sort of rum behaviour I expect of the Liberal Democrats.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Sedgefield by-election prediction

Well here goes:



Lib Dem

Cash for Peerages, no charges? Interesting timing?

Apparently there will be no charges in the cash for Honours inquiry, a bit of news that has been leaked to all news outlets prior to an official announcement tomorrow.

Hmm.. A cynic might thing the timing was odd, and perhaps designed to keep bad by-election results of the front pages.

But only a cynic would think that, surely?

Meanwhile there will be an enormous amount of leaking of evidence gathered. After all if it was clear cut and there was full co-operation they could have had this investigation done and dusted in a couple of months.

The BBC has this.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Police investigate Ealing Southall Postal Vote leak

Apparently the Metropolitan Police are investigating the leak on the Telegraph blog by Jonathan Isaby purporting to give the splits in postal votes between the parties.

The BBC has this.

It is I have to say interesting news. The original entry has been removed as well, though I have seen.

I am happy with my prediction.

Explosion in Central Manhattan, Building collapsed, transformer blamed?

Apparently a transformer explosion has happened in Manhattan causing a building to collapse.

This is apparently not being treated as suspicious.


Do they make that big a bang?

This will take out a large part of the electricity grid in New York as well I suspect.

More news as I get it, but details are very sketchy.

Update 23:36 GMT

Looking at the TV pictures it seems that a building has probably not collapsed but one of New Yorks steam pipes has been ruptured.

I say that because the smoke cloud is continuously going up, not spreading out indicating heat rather than dust from rubble.

Another update, some structural damage to a building no buildings have collapsed.

My Predictions for Ealing Southall

To be honest I think this is very hard to call. It could go either of 3 ways, but here is my prediction anyway.






Lib Dem


A Conservative win on a reduced turnout of 47%

So what is happening in Sedgefield?

Well, it is very hard to tell. In principle Sedgefield is ultra safe Labour, on a 62% turnout. Labour got 58% of the vote with the Conservatives on 14.4% in second.

This time around as it is a by election of course and maybe the voters feel neglected. The other problem is of course getting the vote out. All of the interest has been in Ealing Southall. However I get to see this You Tube clip of a three way question and answer session with Graham Rob for the Conservatives, Greg Stone for the Liberal Democrats and Phil Wilson for Labour. In some ways interesting. You have to wonder if the place would not benefit enormously from a change of party in control. In fact at the local elections 6 independents got in, and it seems Paul Gittens is carrying their baton on this election.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Boris for Mayor!

So Boris Johnson has thrown his hat in the ring for Conservative nomination for Mayor of London.

Can he win? Yes he can!

That does not mean he will, but he could.

He announced his candidacy in typical Boris style, turning up on a bicycle outside Ken Livingstone's office to greet a throng of the press, to ride off shortly afterwards. He has a website here, and I have to say I love this quote from an Op Ed piece in the Evening Standard:

I will be running against the strong advice of those who say I would be better off writing books, and going on television, and that I risk throwing away what remains of my political career; and though there have been literally hundreds of people who have urged me to run, I have found myself brooding - like all paranoid politicians - on the negative voices, the people who say that the great King Newt is too dug in, that his positions are impregnable, his machine too vast and well-oiled.

And having weighed up their warnings, over the last week, I say phooey.
There are some who think he is very bad, notably the privately educated and somewhat vacuous Polly Toynbee who has written this article in the Guardian. All Polly can see of Boris is what she wants to see. I wonder if she is going to attack Ken Livingstone for hanging out with the sort of people who want to stone homosexuals?

Mike Read (the DJ) has this interesting article on Comment is free as well, firstly saying he won't be in the race, and will be backing Boris. What he also does is outline some interesting ideas for London.

Guido has this which he says shows that Boris can win if he can just get out a few more Conservative voters whilst Mike Smithson has this on 7 reasons why Boris is in with a chance.

The one thing that is clear though, is that now there will be a real election for Mayor of London and it will be interesting.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Any one want to donate to Labour?

Much has been said about Tony Lit's supposed donation to Labour. he is of course the Conservative party candidate for Ealing Southall.

For a start there is much spin on both sides, or at least that how it looks. Obviously there are some major differences of fact that could if the Lit's current apparent story is born out could lead to criminal charges.

Firstly as Dizzy points out here, it could well be just a business transaction. As in Sunrise radio was there just to network.

It was billed as a "Diversity in Business" event which gives further cover.

However two things concern and amuse me. Firstly there is this I lifted from the Observer:
He added the Lits had been told the fund-raising event was organised by Labour MP Keith Vaz, and that the money would be going to his charity, Starline, which helps disadvantaged children.
If true then the fact that the funds went to the Labour party (I know the cheque is made out to the Labour party) then this is a criminal offence under the acts which govern charities and possibly under the 1968 theft act as well. It goes without saying that his word against someone else's is unlikely to cut it in a criminal court unless their is other corroboration.

The second thing is that Labour seem to be sending a clear message that donating money to them is making yourself a hostage to fortune.

It amuses me greatly but does not concern me. It seems that if you want to donate money to Labour you can be arrested by the police, get to meet a rapist at a fund raiser or, if it is politically expedient for them to do so, have your donation thrown back in your face by Labour in all the papers.

I bet the Labour fund raisers are having a fit right now and some are considering their positions.

In fact a major fund raiser, Mike Smithson on his political betting blog answered my question here:
Mike as a fund raiser, do you think Labour using the family firms donation against him will cause fund raising problems for Labour.
With this comment:
To your question I do believe that the Oyston and Lit affairs won’t have helped.

On the latter you simply do not go around exploiting someone’s or some firm’s generosity for political purposes. Good faith must exist and that will have been lost. I can see quite a lot of business interests being less keen to support these glossy £1000 a seat events because it could be used against them.

If I had been in charge of Labour’s fundraising I would have been considering my position this weekend. You have to respect donors.

To me Labour’s fundraising looks very amateurish.
Well there you have it from a fund raiser.

Family split as they can't afford to stay together

Sunday's News of the World carries this story of a family, married mother and father and a baby son who have split up because when the father takes a new job they will be worse off. What is more, they will be much better off if they split.

The article says:
Sean Ash and wife Chloe agreed to break up after realising they would lose out even MORE when he takes a new job.

They spoke in the wake of a major political row this week, sparked by Tory leader David Cameron's tax-break pledge to give married couples an extra £20 a week.

Sean and Chloe, who have both been on benefits, explained why they decided to join what Mr Cameron called "our broken society".

As a couple, they had a joint net income of £1,702 a month. But after the split, Sean now gets £1,184 and Chloe £1,396—making a total of £2,580.
And then goes on:
That means they are £878 a month in benefits better off leading separate lives.

Sean, 25, soon expects to start a job with London Underground earning £22,000 a year. But he says he had to leave his wife and one-year-old son Dylan three weeks ago when it became clear that him working would bring their joint income down to £1,472 a month.

Bonkers isn't it? The problem here is that the costs of living of single parents are met whilst those in relationships appear to be able to go hang.

One of the major considerations of course is housing benefit. A single parent or a family with no wage earners working 16 hours a week or less gets it whereas anyone working over 16 hours a week does not. Of course the situation is that a two parent family can't get away (rightly) with two people not earning full time on the state unless there is a good reason, and one of them wanting to work does not cut it, whereas being a single parent, it is not unreasonable (again rightly) to say they don't have to work full time as there are chores to do.

This is of course where Unity is a F*ckwit not a Ministry of Truth as he would have us believe, as he showed in this article entitled "He’s not the Messiah… he’s a fuckwit!"

The problem with Unity's lack of thought lies with this remarkably stupid one sentence assumption:
Instead of taking Mad Frankie at face value, lets look at a more realistic scenario - a two parent family with a single wage earner in the same minimum wage McJob, with all other factors (housing benefit, child benefit, etc) being treated as equal and, therefore, excluded for simplicity.
The problem is that Unity is a fuckwit who does not live in the real world. If you have two adults in a household one of them will have to work unless their is a good medical reason not to, and that will have to be full time unless there is no work, and in reality there is work in most parts of the country and that means the work more than 16 hours a week. that means they DON'T GET HOUSING BENEFIT.

I have run across this problem with people on benefits before. The cutoff is sharp in the extreme. You can't feed a family if you have no kitchen to cook the meal in, and you won't get one of those unless the accommodation is paid for.

Got it Unity?

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Tin Tin in the Congo a best seller!

Apparently Tin Tin in the Congo, which has belatedly (it was originally published in the 1930's) caused some upset and a complaint to the Commission for Racial Equality (See Dizzy here for a much more sensible look) has, according to this article in the Sunday Telegraph jumped right up Amazons best seller lists into the top 10.

Perhaps the Ayatollahs in Iran ought to consider just how many copies of Satanic verses would have been sold were it not for the book burners?

Beware of the Baby Snatchers part II

The secret family courts and social services are at it again. I reported on this in the Telegraph a short while ago where family courts sitting in secrecy were putting children up for adoption even where the parents had been cleared of any charge of abuse and indeed on the worrying rise of under one years olds taken into care and adopted.

Well now the Sunday Telegraph reports on the case of a couple who had their daughter taken into care on suspicion of sexual abuse followed shortly after by her sister just after her birth.

The police after exhaustive investigation have concluded that there is not sufficient evidence to bring charges against the parents. In many ways that would be fair enough, but the parents need to be exonerated and they never can be in such circumstances.

The situation has of course moved on. The children have been in care so long that they have now been placed with potential adoptive parents. It seems the weight of the system is against the parents as the courts are likely to take the view "that it is in the best interests of the child" not to change the status quo.

This makes me so angry. Parents who have done nothing wrong will not be banged up for 10 years, but will be deprived of their children for life, whilst at the same time the children will be denied their biological parents for life despite all the evidence indicating that is the best relationship.

The family courts need a kick up the backside and secret hearings need to be ended yesterday.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The dirt on Super Casinos

One of the things that always had alarm bells ringing in my head about "Super Casinos" was who wanted them?

I have never spoken to a voter or indeed a gambler who has pressed me on this.

Where did the driving force come from?

Well Paul Mason's report on the issue shed more light in the issue, talking of his meetings with civil servants in the Department of Culture Media and Sport.

It seems they were very keen on the idea of super casino's and indeed some had even gone as far as preparing CV's outlining their skills and how they could help companies wishing to build these casinos.

On current government regulations civil people can both join the civil service from business and business from the civil service. Sounds sensible until to realise that the revolving doors create conflicts of interest especially in areas like this where a civil servant can draw up policy guidance and then nip out and ask for a large fee to advise on it.

Perhaps this is where the strange drive for Super casinos came from?

Regrettably Paul Mason's report is not online yet. Newsnights website is here.

The end of Cabinet government?

One of the interesting things about Gordon Brown's new broom is that he promised a "new politics" "change" and "a return to cabinet government".

On the super casino's U-turn of course there was no cabinet discussion at all, whilst the decision was revealed by way of a planted question at Prime Ministers Questions.

We know there was no cabinet discussion because of this quote in the Guardian here:
His spokesman said the prime minister had not discussed it with the cabinet, but had agreed a position with the new culture secretary, James Purnell.

I agree with the decision itself, or rather I had not been persuaded by the argument for "Super Casinos" but am very dubious about the decision making process both for and the U-turn against.

I am also concerned about the wasted costs for all the doomed bids. Rather unsurprisingly Manchester and its MP's are not best pleased.

The House of Lords, good for something?

As I said in my earlier article on Prime Ministers Questions today it looks like Gordon Brown has scrapped the Super Casino policy.

Gordon Brown said:

"This is an issue on which there is no consensus found in the two houses of parliament."

Well it was passed in the House of Commons and thrown out by the House of Lords.

Yvette Cooper (Mrs Balls) who is a far better communicator than her husband Ed was on Newsnight trotting out the same line.

This sticks in the craw somewhat as previously Labour has screamed blue murder when the House of Lords have thrown out other daft measures.

Still it is nice to see Gordon Brown hiding behind the noble House of Lords.

(See the Guardian here for the quote)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Gordon Brown's second PMQ's

I am just watching Gordon Brown's second Prime Ministers Questions, where he looks like he might be rowing back on gambling and super casino's.

To be fair it looked like Gordon Brown did much better than last time. That said he had a low base to start from.

What David Cameron did not do was tackle him on issues he may not have been aware of.

The issue under discussion centered around centralising hospital services in less larger bigger hospitals after a report was published today. Gordon Brown seemed to avoid answering the rather obvious point that those hospitals that are not specialist centers must close or reduce services.

Scratches head? What about family policy?

Well, there is some discussion at least over the family and marriage, inspired by Ian Duncan Smiths report on "Breakthrough Britain".

It highlights the reasons for the breakdown of British society and indeed some suggestions for solutions.

I will have to read quite a bit more (and already have a long reading list) before I comment in detail. It is interesting to see how Ed Balls feels fully able to comment without having read it though.

Here are some links:

We have to report here, Nick Robinson on the politics here and this in the Independent urging David Cameron to stick to the path without using the dreaded "M" word, marriage.

What is irritating though is that the news is just quoting sound bites where there are none.

Conservative home has this
, which seems to have more lefty posts than usual.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Exclusive to all papers: Keystone Terrorists foil dastardly plot whilst keystone cops look on

The verdict in the case of the hapless 21st of July 2005 bombers came in today, and some reporting restrictions have been lifted. (The BBC has this)

We know that their story that this was just some kind of protest was not believed by the jury who were convinced beyond reasonable doubt they intended to kill. They would have but for their own incompetence.

What is of somewhat more concern is that the leader of the plotters, Muktar Ibrahim from East Africa had not only been on a trip to Pakistan but questioned by special branch about it and found in possession of a large amount of cash and a military first aid kit. This did not, it seems, raise alarm bells.

It gets worse. We have Interpol criticising us for not accessing the database of known terrorists, (well we could be using our own copy) not giving information back to it (also fair enough because there are 186 countries in Interpol and we may not want them all knowing) but shockingly not checking with Interpol about known to be stolen travel documents. That is daft. (See the Telegraph here for the original allegation and the BBC here for some government response).

The thing is this, the government keep asking for extra powers. They are of no use unless they are directed at the right people and that is not a matter of what the law is but how the executive direct the resource to tackle terrorism combined with the political will to use it.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Conservative campaign in Ealing Southall

I have just been emailed this Youtube clip asking for help in the Conservative campaign in Ealing Southall.

If you can help do so. You can get in touch with the campaign here, and Tony Lit's campaign website is here.

It takes a lot of people and hard graft to win an election, doubly so for a by-election up to and including polling day.

If you can help, sign up and get helping!

Ealing Southall, Labour to come third or worse!

Yes, Mike Smithson, political punter extraordinaire, and author of "The Political Punter" has read the runes and issued this challenge:

What odds will someone offer me on this proposition - Labour not to make the top two
in Ealing Southall. I’m prepared to bet £100

My reasoning being that these defections will cost Labour 1000s of voted.

Who’ll take me on?

As yet there appear to be no takers, i certainly won't. If Mike is prepared to put that kind of money on the line, then the odds of it happening have got to be better that 2-1.

If that were to happen Tom Watson and Keith Vaz would not be allowed near a by-election again and Gordon Brown's honeymoon would be well and truly over.

Ealing Southall defection shocker!

There has been a defection of 5 labour councillors from Labour to the Conservatives during the by election in Ealing Southall.

Iain Dale has the statement issued by them.

They have defected to Tony Lit's campaign which it seems has the momentum at this stage.

It is going to be one interesting by-election! I have backed the Conservatives to win at an average of 6.7 (or 5.7 to 1 in fractional odds) which looks like a value bet to me.

The BBC also has this.

Insidious infiltration

I regularly read Dizzy Thinks, who had this article linking to this article in the Daily Mail (well, it could have been the Mail on Sunday) about how there are 8 "Al Qaeda" "sleepers" or sympathisers on the police.

Well, it has to be said this is to be expected. They are not stupid and this sort of thing, or rather attempts at doing this sort of thing are to be expected. The shock is, it seems to me that there are not systems to vet applicants so that this does not happen.

What concerns me more, because it is less easy to spot and is not yet high on the agenda is the way state officials from some communities are playing a part in "honour" killings by looking people up on state databases or indeed bank and other systems to tell families where their "errant" offspring" are.

I heard that on an edition of BBC Radio 4's File on 4 program on honour killings. We all have unique identification numbers of one form or another whether it is a National Insurance number or bank account or credit card number. These are all stored in databases accessed by a variety of members of staff. All any community needs, and often in the case of honour killings many members of the community are in support of them, is someone on "the inside" and then if the said child uses their credit card, national Insurance number or notifies a change of address and then they know where they are.

Yet this government wants to ignore that problem but create an over arching database that will allow any criminal gang access to the data they need to track down anyone they want as long as they have someone one "the inside".

Scary isn't it?

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Cash for Peerages, Lord Levy to be charged?

According to this article in today's Independent on Sunday, sources in Whitehall think that Lord Levy will be charged in the Cash for Peerages affair. The same sources also think that Ruth Turner won't be, so that gives you an idea where the story came from.

Of more interest however is the prospect of Tony Blair giving evidence under oath in a trial. Could be tricky!

For more on the cash for peerages/ cash for honours scandal see here.

Hat tip to Politicalbetting.com for the Independent article.

That Gordon Brown Honeymoon

When I entered the politicalbetting.com 2007 prediction competition I predicted that Gordon Brown would get a poll bounce of 3% when he took over compared to the average ICM position of the previous 3 months.

Well, the last ICM poll just before he took over had Labour on 38% compared to the Conservatives on 35%.

According to Conservative home, there is a new ICM survey showing Labour on 37% and the Conservatives on 35%.

Hmm.. losing points already after wall to wall positive coverage?

I also predicted that Gordon Brown would be 5% down on his first honeymoon polls after 3 months.

Looks like I was right, or at least the numbers are going the right way.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Sorry about the lack of posts, I have been busy

Well, busy keeping a close eye on Wimbledon and the Eclipse cup at Sandown park, making sure that I get free bets!

(I have done quite well on Wimbledon)

Friday, July 06, 2007

Inland Revenue want to grab your money

The Inland Revenue, or rather Revenue and Customs, now want to take money without a court order whilst overcharging a million people a year.

I thought the power to take money from peoples bank accounts without a corner was excessively draconian and fundamentally wrong, but then I heard that the National audit office studies show just how many mistakes it makes in over charging people tax (it undercharges as well).

The state should never have unfettered power, because it does make mistakes. The fact that the state wants it, when it is clear that they make a huge number of mistakes should really concern people. They clearly just do not get it.

The BBC has this on the amount of mistakes the Revenue makes, whilst the FT has this on the new powers the government want and reaction to it.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Putting The Al Qaeda threat in perspective

I have just read this brilliant article on the Register with the headline:

Some great quotes:
To recap: an exceptionally incompetent group of troublemakers, unknown to the plods or spooks, decided to bring a spot of terror to old Blighty starting last Friday. These people had no actual explosives, and were apparently too lazy and ignorant to learn how to make them. Instead, they decided to load cars with petrol, domestic gas cylinders and "containers holding nails", and then set fire to them - either manually or using a cellphone-initiated remote rig of some kind.
Frankly, if this kind of thing is the only backlash the West experiences for Iraq, we've got off pretty much scot-free: we should indulge in a spot of military adventurism any time we feel like it.

Conversely, if this is all al-Qaeda have to offer, we should never have lost a moment's sleep over them - let alone shoved our valuable appendages into the military meat-grinder of Afghanistan (I'm choosing to assume here that al-Qaeda only became a serious presence in Iraq after we invaded the place. Argue among yourselves as to whether Saddam was more or less threatening than Osama).
Read the whole article, it is bith funny and interesting.

Bank of England Raises interest rates again to 5.75%

The Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank of England has raised interest rates again to 5.75%, the fifth rise since August last year. There are indications that they may rise again soon to combat inflation and money supply.

Ultimately that is going to hurt many borrowers. Expect bankruptcies and repossessions to rise.

The Bank of England statement is here and the BBC has this.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Gordon Brown at Prime Ministers Questions

I could only hear the audio and missed the first few minutes, but Gordon Brown does seem to creak under pressure. he was stammering very frequently. I wonder if he will improve?

I was also amused that in answer to one question he claimed he had only been in the job for 5 days! This is in fact his 7th day as PM. Oops. I understand some on his benches did not look happy.

It appears that Gordon is also solidly behind ID cards which is going to mean he can't cream off that many Liberal Democrats. When asked by David Cameron about it, he of course quoted some on the Conservative side who seemed to be in favor, a point Cameron neutralised by pointing out a statement by Douglass Alexander Alistair Darling* the new Chancellor completely against ID cards. Cameron's team know Gordon's game, so will make sure he has Labour quotes against the Labour line on a whole range of issues now.

I liked Ming Campbell's reply to Gordon Brown saying his door was always open to the honourable gentleman to which Ming replied that it "was more of a trapdoor" and there was no evidence of change there.

However all that will be important is how the media report it.

The BBC has this and this on the importance of PMQ's.

*Thanks for the emailed correction, *cough* typo on my part.

Alan Johnston Free and on his way home!

I was very pleased to hear that Alan Johnston has been freed. I also heard an interview with him this morning on BBC Radio 4's the Today program and he sounded in good spirits. (You can listen here, 10 minutes in).

Apparently one of the things which cheered him up was having a radio on which he could listen to the BBC World Service and hear how much support he had.

The BBC also has this.

The one interesting reform

The one interesting reform that Gordon Brown has proposed is that the executive be stripped of the power to recall Parliament and it be given away.

In earlier times, or rather pre Blair times this was a non issue because Parliament was recalled when there was a clamour for it. During the war in the Lebanon this was not the case, nor (if I remember correctly) during the foot and mouth crisis.

It therefore seems a good idea to change the power just in case we elect another president by mistake, after all we are a Monarchy.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Abolishing the Royal Prerogative?

One of the interesting things about Gordon Brown's changes seems to be abolishing the Royal Prerogative in the case of war and dissolving parliament. Instead of the Prime Minister exercising those powers on behalf of the Sovereign, Queen Elizabeth II, Parliament will have the power.

On Channel 4's News Jack Straw said that there was no place for a power dating from antiquity in a modern British democracy.

Lets deal with that first. We are an old country. Our institutions are old. What is more they have evolved over a period of time in a way that reflects our history and traditions. As long as they work why change them?

Now on to the substance rather than just hating our history (which it appears Labour does).

This country has not got to war without parliament being happy with it. Even in the time of Edward III he consulted Parliament. Parliament is consulted and was in the Iraq war, in fact it had a vote. So what is broken? Ultimately the fact that in the case of the Iraq war Parliament was sold a pup. This proposal does nothing to stop that happening again and again. The problem is not the use of the Royal Prerogative but the lies that went with it (even if Blair did not actually lie to Parliament he seems to me to have lied to himself.)

What of the dissolution of Parliament? Allow Parliament to vote on it instead? Except in the case of a hung Parliament it makes no practical difference. A whipped vote will still guarantee an election when the party of power calls one.

So there is no point to either reform other than to destroy our heritage.

Nations and Regions: Divide and Rule

It appears that one of the themes of Gordon Brown's statement in the House of Commons today was "Nations and Regions" or apparently select committees for each region of England in the House of Commons.

Does this man seriously think this will address the West Lothian Question? In referendums regional assemblies have been rejected so why should we accept that?

Ed Balls should not be Schools Minister says Labour blogger!

Yes, apparently Labour blogger, Chris Paul thinks that only those who have been in the state sector "can pronounce" on state schools, he said so here,* obviously he will now be campaigning to get Ed Balls replaced as Minister for Schools. Except of course he won't he was applying double standards and referring to the fact that Michael Gove had spent some of his education in the private sector (he also went to a state school) rather than the fact that Ed Balls went to an independent school.

Oh the double standards of the left.

Hat tip to Dizzy thinks, here.

*I will obviously ignore the point Chris Paul tries to make as it is daft. Yes obviously people with other experiences can bring their talents to different fields.