Tuesday, January 29, 2013

What Cameron should have said

The following letter was published in the Evening Standard on 21st January 2013

In his much delayed speech, Cameron should commit the UK to an in/out referendum to be held on the same day as the next general election.   This gives him almost two-and-a-half years to renegotiate our relationship with Europe which should be ample for the purpose. Since all three parties made promises on a referendum on the EU Constitution which they broke in spirit if not the letter, any date proposed for after the election will not be believed.
Such a bold course is a win-win for the Tories.   Should the commitment to a referendum fail to win parliamentary approval because of Labour and Lib-Dem opposition, Cameron can point to exactly who is preventing the people’s will from being exercised; if it does pass, the electorate will be delighted and he will earn much credit.
Cameron has nothing to fear from the poll itself.   If the people vote No then they will be saying they want our sovereignty and democracy back.  What politician could oppose that?
John Strafford
Campaign for Conservative Democracy

Monday, January 28, 2013

The next Conservative Manifesto

Published on www.conservativehome.com on 27th January

Conservative Policy Forum conference and the next manifesto. Verdict: Keep it snappy.

By Paul Goodman
Follow Paul on Twitter
Screen shot 2013-01-27 at 11.50.34What should a manifesto be? Should it be an impressionistic sketch - all ideals, values, and themes, but with little hard policy? Or should be a detailed blueprint - a mass of whirring policy wheels and cogs? This was one of the questions that a panel of Mark Littlewood of the IEA; Paul Maynard, the MP for Blackpool North, and Sean Worth - the former senior Downing Street staffer who's now at Policy Exchange - and I grappled with yesterday. We did so at the invitation and in the company of the Conservative Policy Forum, the Party body charged with helping to draw up the next manifesto, under the charge of Oliver Letwin.
About 80 party activists were there, including Dr Spencer Pitfield, its Director, and Fiona Hodgson, one its two Vice-Chairs and a force behind the CPF's revival. The conference was, I would say, younger, less male and less white than is usually the case at party gatherings. It looked rather southern-flavoured to me - but then again, we were meeting in Bristol. Since the gathering contained a fair sprinkling of councillors, a lot of those present will have knocked on a lot of doors, and thus were well aware of the difference between having a policy that looks good on paper, and having one that will sell on the doorstep. The panel's brief was to lead a discussion on the next Conservative manifesto.
Which requires, at the start, a sense of proportion. In most campaigns, the Government wants to attack the opposition, and vice-versa (as will be the case in 2015). The manifesto's role is thus limited. This is particularly the case for the Government, since the election will partly be about its record as well as about the future. In any event, don't neglect the obvious: most party activists, let alone most voters, don't read manifestos. And a lot of voters wouldn't believe the manifestos if they read them anyway. I can't think of one manifesto pledge that has made a big difference in an election in my lifetime. The Thatcher council house sales programme picked up speed after the 1979 election. The great privatisation programme was merely hinted at that year.John Strafford from Beaconsfield reminded those present that the manifesto of that year - the last in which we came from opposition to government with a majority - was brief, and I think the consensus was: keep it snappy. Those present seemed focused not only on our electoral base - including the social care needs of older people - but also on the northern and marginals. So the merits, for example, of continuing to take people out of tax by raising thresholds versus those of restoring the 10p rate were aired. Some would call it an agenda for strivers. Greg Clark would call it one for ordinary working people. Tim would call it "Conservatism for the little guy". But whatever you call it, that's where the conversation's going.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Green Thing

At the cash register of the store, the young cashier suggested to the older woman that she should bring her own shopping bags because plastic bags weren't good for the environment.

The woman apologized and explained, "We didn't have this green thing back in my earlier days."

The cashier responded, "That's our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations. You didn't have the green thing."

She was right -- our generation didn't have the green thing in its day.

Back then, we returned milk bottles, soft drink bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycling. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull.

But we didn't have the green thing back in our day.

We walked up stairs, because we didn't have an escalator in every shop and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks.

But she was right. We didn't have the green thing in our day.

Back then, we washed the baby's nappies because we didn't have the throw-away kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts -- wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.

But that young lady is right. We didn't have the green thing back in our day.

Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house -- not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief, not a screen the size of the Melbourne Cricket Ground. In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn't have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the post, we used wrapped up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. Back then, we didn't fire up an engine and burn petrol just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity.

But she's right. We didn't have the green thing back then.

We drank water from a tap when we were thirsty instead of demanding a plastic bottle flown in from another country. We accepted that a lot of food was seasonal and didn't expect that to be trucked in or flown thousands of air miles. We actually cooked food that didn't come out of a packet, tin or plastic wrap and we could even wash our own vegetables and chop our own salad.

But we didn't have the green thing back then.

Back then, city people took the tram or a bus, and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their mothers into a 24-hour taxi service. We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn't need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint.

But isn't it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn't have the green thing back then?

Please forward this on to another selfish old person who needs a lesson in conservation from a smart-ass young person.


Don't make old people mad. We don't like being old in the first place, so it doesn't take much to piss us off.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Your Tax Return

This example shows the importance of accuracy in your tax return. The HMRC has returned the Tax Return to a man in Evesham after he apparently answered one of the questions incorrectly.

In response to the question Do you have anyone dependent on you?,
he wrote:- "2.1 million illegal immigrants, 1.1 million crack-heads,4.4 million unemployable scroungers, 90,000 criminals in over 85 prisons plus 649 self-serving MPs in our Parliament and the entire European Commission".

The HMRC stated that the response he gave was unacceptable.
The man's response back to HMRC was "Who did I miss out?"