Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Sunday, October 5, 2014

A lesson in democracy from Hong Kong!

Tens of thousands Hong Kong Chinese are demonstrating in the streets for democracy.   What is this all about?   The Chinese authorities are happy to let them elect a new Chief Executive for Hong Kong on the basis of One Person One Vote.   However only four candidates can stand and they have to be agreed beforehand.   This of course is a distortion of democracy.   Why can't anyone stand?
The supreme irony in all this is that it was agreed with the Chinese authorities by ex Conservative Party Chairman Chris Patten.   Why irony? Because this same system of election is used by the Conservative and the Labour parties in this country.   In a genuine democracy any member of the Conservative Party would be able to stand as a candidate, but what happens?   The Committee on Candidates (Chairman appointed, so unaccountable to the members) decides whether anyone can be on the candidates list.   There is then a sifting process at the end of which four names are put forward to be elected either by the public (so called open primaries) or by party members.
When can we expect demonstrations in the streets of the United Kingdom against this distortion of democracy?   What a shame that we are given a lesson in democracy by people in a far away land.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

English Votes for English Laws

Ed Milliband’s refusal to accept “English votes for English laws” will rightly be seen as party political bias of the worst kind and should be condemned by all fair minded people who believe in democracy.
Now that more powers are to be devolved to Scotland the same powers should be devolved to an English parliament made up of English MPs at Westminster.   There should be an English First Minister and government, just as in Scotland.   The costs of this extra bureaucracy would be offset by reducing the salaries of Westminster MPs as they would only need to work for say two days a week.
All the above could be done very quickly but there are consequences.   To deal with these a constitutional convention should be set up immediately with a period of one year in which to report.   The convention should consist of one third MPs and two thirds members of the public.   It would need to examine House of Lords reform, necessity for a written constitution, revision of constituency boundaries and number of constituencies, over representation of Wales at Westminster and funding for the constituent parts of the United Kingdom.   One further consideration should be to look at the system of elections as it is quite clear that First Past The Post has broken down.

With goodwill all this can be achieved relatively quickly and we can create a democracy for the 21st century.   All we need is the will to get on and do it.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Devo-max and what about Scots who do not live in Scotland?

If you want to know the answers watch this :

Nicola Sturgeon replies

Steps to improve membership

The results of our poll on Steps to improve Conservative Party membership were as follow:

Let members choose candidates                                 66%

Chairman of the Party to be elected by members       50%

Let members drive the Conference Agenda               50%

Say No to State Funding                                            50%

Empower the National Convention                            33%

Hold a Conservative Annual General Meeting           33%

Break up the Coalition Government                           33%

More dialogue between MPs and volunteers              16%

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Letter to the Prime Minister

                                                                        2nd September 2014

Rt. Hon David Cameron MP
10 Downing Street,

 Dear Prime Minister

Defence Policy

            At a meeting of the members of COPOV held on Saturday 19th, July 2014 in Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire it was unanimously resolved that:

“H.M.Government be requested to instruct the Secretary of State for Defence, whilst attending the NATO Meeting of Ministers in Cardiff in September 2014 to press all member countries to pledge to spend a minimum of 2% of their GDP on defence during the current Financial Year and to increase their Defence expenditure above this figure in future years. "
 Yours sincerely
John E. Strafford

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Why are taxpayers paying for lobbyists to lobby the Government?

The following bodies received  funding from the Government or Local Authorities in 2012.   They also lobby the Government!

ActionAid                                                            £4,466,000
Action on Smoking and Health                                £150,000
Alcohol Concern                                                     £209,336
Catholic Agency for Overseas Development         £9,034,000
Christian Aid                                                      £12,240,000
Child Poverty Action Group                                      £90,000
Disability Rights UK                                                £517,965
Family Action                                                     £14,654,000
Fresh North East                                                     £713,000
National Children's Bureau                                   £1,572,118
Oxfam                                                               £23,700,000
Save the Children Fund                                     £54,255,000
Shelter                                                                £2,569,000
Stonewall                                                                 £79,000
War on Want                                                         £162,544

Some of these bodies campaign as political lobbyists.   All spend some of their monies on campaigns or lobbying.   Is this right?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

COPOV Forum 6th September


11am - 2pm Saturday, 6th September 2014
(coffee served from 10.30am)

@ All Saints Church Hall, Oval Way, Gerrards Cross, Bucks. SL9 8PZ


The Conservative Party
Party Organization – Constituency News – Reports.

“Education Policy” by Stephen Parker

Referendum on Scotland’s Independence

Voter Engagement and Turnout
An inquiry by the Political and Constitutional Committee of the House of Commons

Do we need a new “Magna Carta”?

Politics Today – What concerns you most?

The History of Democracy in the United Kingdom
       A short lecture on democracy – the Peterloo massacre.

Any Other Business
1pm Lunch
A ploughman’s lunch will be available free of charge but a donation towards      our costs of hall hire and lunch would be much appreciated.
Directions: Go north through Gerrards Cross on Packhorse Rd, passing Ethorpe Hotel.   Take 1st left into Orchehill Avenue, then 2nd right into Oval Way.   All Saints Church is on your left past Thorpe House School.
Date of next meeting: Saturday November 1st – Forum, Gerrards Cross
All are welcome and do bring a guest

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

More reality on climate change

Climate Change

Watch on YouTube.   Click above.
The second part of Cllr Derek Tipp's lecture to the COPOV Forum of 19th July

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Climate Change - the reality

Watch an excerpt from Cllr Derek Tipp's presentation to the COPOV Forum on 19th July about Climate Change

Monday, July 21, 2014

Proposals to Revive PARTY membership

The Bow Group, Conservative Voice & Conservative Grassroots: 11 Steps the Conservative Party can take to revive its membership.

Ben Harris-Quinney
Below is a list of 11 recommendations that the Bow Group, Conservative Voice and Conservative Grassroots have published in order to help the Conservative Party reconnect with its base...
1. More Dialogue between Members of Parliament and Senior Volunteers
There needs to be real and regular dialogue between senior volunteers and Conservative Members of Parliament. We passionately believe in the concept of ‘one party’ – volunteers and parliamentarians working together for electoral success. During his time as Chairman of the Conservative National Convention, Don Porter was delighted to pioneer the election of three additional MPs to the Party Board. This simple change, overwhelmingly endorsed by both senior volunteers and MPs, allowed those with different roles within the Party to work together more closely to deliver a single vision and such initiatives could be rolled out in other more localised structures.
2. Party Board Chairman – Let Volunteers Decide
The Chairman of the Party Board should not be appointed by the Party leader. The Conservative Party website states that the Chairman’s role is to “bring the Conservative family together” and to “connect” the Voluntary and Parliamentary branches of the Party. To achieve this, the Chairman of the Board should be elected by Party members.
3. Empower the National Convention
The National Convention is the Parliament of the Voluntary Party. It comprises all Association Chairmen and Regional Offcers, along with representatives from the Conservative Women’s Organisation and Conservative Future. This body, whose members bring with them so much campaigning, experience and understanding of the Conservative grassroots should be given real powers and authority.
For example, National Convention members should have a real say about how the money they raise for the Party is spent. Volunteers raise over £28 million annually – more than even the most generous individual or corporate donors. They keep the blue fag fying at the local level by campaigning in local elections, fundraising and producing literature. Locally, they decide how to spend the money they raise. It is only right that they should have a say in how the money they raise for the national Party is spent by CCHQ.
4. Hold a Conservative Annual General Meeting
There should be a Conservative Party AGM which is open to all members. In addition, biannual regional meetings of the Party, to which all members in the region are invited, should also be resurrected nationwide. All MPs and MEPs should play a role in these sessions.
5. Let Volunteers Choose Candidates
Every Party Board committee should be led by an elected and experienced volunteer. Similarly, there must be no dilution of the involvement of members in the selection of their local and national candidates. This is an essential component in the fabric of our party.
To that end, open primaries should be scrapped in favour of closed primaries. They de- motivate Conservative activists and members. Loyal activists should not be overlooked by people with no history of commitment to the Party in favour of candidates who may feel that they owe no loyalty to the Party. Closed primaries offer a better alternative, and CCHQ should have no involvement in pushing forward an ‘approved list’ that has been centrally picked. The role should be reduced to one of very basic background checks.
6. Build a Broader Base of Support
The days of vast membership politics may be over. Therefore, we need an enlightened approach which allows the Conservative Party to reach out to groups which share our values, and to mobilise their support for the Conservative cause. We need to learn lessons not just from the American political parties but also from major charities, and to become more professional in our retention of members and supporters.
Both the Republican and Democrat Parties seek support from other like-minded organisations, political or otherwise, as a core part of their engagement activities. They use these ‘affnity groups’ to build up the level of trust in their party; they fundraise or gain volunteers for specifc issues that voters relate to and then ‘grow’ them into regular activists over a period of time. In an age where voters are more likely to support a single issue campaign than to join a political party, it makes sense for the Conservative Party to seek support amongst members of other groups which share our values.
7. Let Volunteers Drive the Conference Agenda
Volunteers should be given more chances to choose motions for debate at the annual Party Conference. These debates should be held away from television cameras and the media. By allowing members to speak in the main hall once again and vote on party policy as well as election manifestos, the conference can be reformed into a democratic, open and less stage-managed occasion.
8. Recognise and Reward Volunteers
There should be a real emphasis on recognising and rewarding loyal volunteers across the Party. Volunteers do not give up their time because they expect fnancial reward. However, some form of recognition – even a simple letter showing that the Party is aware of and appreciates a volunteer’s efforts – would be hugely appreciated and could raise grassroots morale.
Trusting the electorate to make decisions about local issues must be matched by trusting our local activists and members to have a greater say in the organisation of our Party and in the development of policies based on our values and principles. The time is now ripe for a real engagement of volunteers and parliamentarians in the running of our Party.
9. Revolutionising Online Communications
Digital has opened a whole array of options to interact with a politically curious but disaffected population. This requires a less centrally managed approach based on the delivery of a static message, and greater interaction by being open to petitions and motions to be debated. This is done successfully by pressure groups such as Avaaz and 38 degrees but needs to be mimicked by political parties in order to remain relevant.
10. The break-up of the Coalition Government
The Coalition should dissolve in the lead up to the 2015 general election, followed by a commitment not to enter into coalitions with non-conservative parties going forward. With the Coalition’s reason for coming in to existence – namely, the stabilising of the economy – now achieved, there is little reason to justify its existence. The normal shelf life of a government is four years, and the most signifcant aspects of the legislative agenda have been delivered.
By seeing out the rest of this parliament as a minority, the Conservatives can put clear night and day between themselves and their opponents and showcase themselves as the only choice for right wing voters in 2015. With a recent ComRes poll suggesting support for right wing parties (UKIP & Conservatives) is at over 50%, the notion that chasing this vote is a road to nowhere is a fallacy.
11. Say No To State Funding
No public money should be given to political parties. This would further damage levels of engagement among activists and reduce the incentives for the leadership to engage with them and place the beat traditions of British democracy under threat.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

COPOV Forum 19th July

Come to the COPOV Forum on 19th July and discuss Climate Change.   See "events".

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Climate Change - a Conservative View

Climate Change - a Brief Overview

by Cllr. Derek Tipp

How much do we really know about the climate of the past ten thousand years, or the past thousand years, or even the recent past century? And how confident can we be of the predictions of the next decades?  What is the effect of atmospheric CO2 on our global temperature? Also on sea level and ocean pH?  These are some of the questions to be covered in our climate change discussion at our July meeting.
The whole basis of climate science (formerly known as global warming) is based on the premise that the world is warming at a sufficient rate to alter the climate in an adverse way, AND that it is caused by man-made emissions of CO2. Most climate scientists agree that man is emitting CO2 and that this will cause some warming (approx. 1 degree Celsius for a doubling of CO2) if nothing else changes.
After that there are many disagreements, most fundamentally about the effect of other natural changes that could occur. Those who predict catastrophe believe other changes will reinforce the warming. There are many others who believe changes will mitigate the warming, or almost cancel it out. The future is very uncertain.
What is absolutely clear to anyone who discusses this subject privately with politicians in our Party is that there is certainly no consensus on how to deal with it. While some still believe the IPCC represents the science, an increasing number are having private doubts and a few are prepared to air them in public. 
 The dilemma faced by Western political leaders is that they have invested huge political capital in elevating the "cause" of reducing CO2 emissions to a very high priority.  In fact the UK government has gone further than any other, by passing the Climate Change Act (CCA). This Act enshrines a road map to 80% decarbonisation by 2050. It is now virtually impossible for them to ditch these policies without a massive loss of face.  Not only that, but considerable numbers of the public still remain convinced that the CO2 climate hypothesis is correct, which is hardly surprising after a huge propaganda campaign by the government as well as numerous other bodies. 
So, even if the evidence is moving in the direction of climate change not being such a major problem, or even not a problem at all, political leaders will still be likely to stick to their current policies. It would almost need the onset of an ice age before they would be forced to change tack.  But there is another problem that is beginning to face our hapless political leaders, that is that the cost of decarbonising the economy is getting more and more expensive.  
The measures they have taken so far are the least expensive and even these are causing hardship to many individuals and businesses as the cost of energy is rising quite rapidly. The next tranche of measures will be even tougher and so more unpopular. The dilemma  they face is, which is worse, ditching the CCA or carrying on with a policy that leads to ever dearer electricity and the consequent job losses? Will they be brave enough to tackle the transport sector and start to phase out the petrol and diesel engine?  Just imagine the huge cost of doing so!
The question that anyone looking at the facts would ask is, why are governments in the developed world prepared to spend very large sums of money to reduce CO2 emissions based on such uncertain evidence? The answer, I believe, is that this hypothesis has attracted a great deal of support from a number of different political causes. 
It suits the agenda of the UN itself which wants to have a bigger role in world governance. It suits the agenda of the Environmental movement, which includes those former communists who have infiltrated and made common cause with them. Curiously it appears to suit the democratic leaders of many Western nations, perhaps because it has the support of many high profile celebrities and "green" organisations and charities as well as a vocal minority of voters. Finally and very obviously, it suits the developing nations, who stand to gain very large sums of money. 
I do not believe there is a giant conspiracy going on. It is simply that the science of global warming due to increased atmospheric CO2, provides the imperative for action to reduce emissions and all the wealth transfer and increased taxation that flows from it.  Of course it is obvious to anyone that world emissions will not be reduced unless all industrialised nations are signed up to the same level of cuts.  
However the UN has come up with a system whereby the developed nations have to make significant cuts and the developing world have been exempt. As part of the package the policy has resulted in developed nations transferring significant sums of money to the developing nations either directly or through their industry purchasing  "carbon credits". 
Extraordinarily, the West has gone along with this and accepted the argument that they must accept responsibility for their "historic emissions" of CO2.  Up to the present this policy has, as expected, not halted the increase in world emissions of CO2, largely because the rise of Chinese and other developing nations' industry using fossil fuels, has meant that their increase in emissions is greater than cuts made by the developed nations. It is now clear that any future agreement must include these nations. Developing nations can no longer be allowed to benefit from this, yet this is the main reason why the whole thing is being supported by them. 
The next major conference on climate change is to take place in Paris in December 2015. The ambition of the UN is to get a world-wide binding commitment from all nations to make cuts in emissions of CO2, but the problem is that it is highly unlikely that all nations will agree, as the cuts will impact much more severely on some than on others. 
President Obama would like to sign up, but he may have a tough time getting a deal through the Senate. The Australian, Canadian and Japanese governments have already indicated they are not happy to sign a deal that would affect them negatively.  The Germans too seem to be off-message, despite a strong Green contingent in their government, as they increase coal usage while phasing out their nuclear power.
It looks as though the UK will be ready to sign up to any new treaty, whether it's David Cameron or Ed Miliband as our PM. It will be interesting to see if there is any more resistance from our MPs who were almost unanimous in passing the CCA. The political future, like the climate is very uncertain.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Question to George Osborne

View below to see full question:

And these were some of the responses:

Sunday Mirror:

The blunt warning came as activists met to discuss how the party might cling to power.
MP Adam Afriyie – once tipped as a leadership challenger to Mr Cameron – said: “Many of our core supporters feel alienated and disillusioned.”
In a swipe at the PM’s time in public relations, he added: “Politicians need to come down from their ivory towers and talk to real people – I mean really talk to them, and really listen to them – not engage in some form of artificial listening PR stunt.”
Fellow Tory MP Robert Halfon urged the PM to hold public meetings to find out why voters were unhappy. He said the Tories, unlike Labour, did not have a “moral mission”.
He said: “When they (Labour) knock on a door everyone knows what they’re about. They know instinctively you’re there to help people who are less well off. What is our message?”

Activist John Strafford said Tory voters had defected to Nigel Farage’s UKIP over immigration, adding: “Unless we take action on them they are going to stay with UKIP and not come back.”

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Some political views

In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm and three or more is a government.
John Adams
Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of government…..... But then I repeat myself.
Mark Twain

A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.
George Bernard Shaw
Foreign aid might be defined as a transfer of money from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries.
Douglas Casey, Classmate of Bill Clinton at Georgetown University
I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.
Winston Churchill
Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.
P.J. O'Rourke, Civil Libertarian

Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you!
Pericles (430 B.C.)
If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it's free!
P.J. O'Rourke

If you don't read the newspaper you are uninformed, if you do read the newspaper you are misinformed.
Mark Twain
In general, the art of government consists of taking as much money as possible from one party of the citizens to give to the other.
Voltaire (1764)
Talk is cheap………...except when government does it.
The only difference between a tax man and a taxidermist is that the taxidermist leaves the skin.
Mark Twain
We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Show our love for Scotland

Sign this petition

 "We in England would like to keep Scotland in the Union" has now been published. You can sign this e-petition at:

Monday, April 7, 2014

Industry - for discussion at COPOV meeting

British Industry a personal view on the decline of British Industry.
                    This paper was prepared by  Cllr Mr Allan Glass     
                                 For presentation to   C.O.P.O.V.   
Looking back to the Industrial revolution and on through Victorian times Britain has flourished at times when industry was at its strongest.   Britain once led the world in industrial and manufacturing methods and machinery developments, this brought great prosperity and meaningful employment to the workforce.    Commerce banking and general trade has at times made Britain although small in land mass a prosperous country and enabled the spread of industry throughout the commonwealth and the world.
Inventions and expertise are the strength of the industrial heritage Britain has developed.
Manufacturing industry
Manufacturing industry requires highly skilled and trained workers as well as operators of machines.   The UK used to have most industries from ship building to electronics but recently it has been transferred to foreign countries due to industrial costs and taxes. 
The UK could regain its position within world industry with the right conditions and political outlook.    We have the engineers and designers as clearly displayed by the fact that most formula one racing teams are based in the UK.     Factories take a lot of space therefore the capitol cost of setting up a factory would make the UK not cost effective but the UK could be the development area for products made where manufacturing is less expensive.
Investment in industry should be encouraged as it could bring employment and financial reward.   
During my career I have worked in several types of engineering business improving quality and throughput and this took me around the world.  One thing I noted was in developing countries such as India all types of qualification and experience are appreciated and rewarded.   In Germany where industry is still profitable to work as an engineer the correct qualifications are required before you can even call yourself an engineer.        In the UK we say we will call an engineer to fix our washing machine, it is this lack of understanding of the training and experience required to earn the title engineer that is one reason why our universities have so few engineers in training. 
To re-develop our industry we need leader’s free thinkers and investors all to understand what the manufacturing industry entails.  Our industries could be very high tech with the right backing and promotion.
Gone are the dark satanic mills of old our industry but we should use the resources we have in abundance and that is our younger generation of students and industrialists.
Current industrial development within the UK.
In recent years the UK has been used as a resource by several foreign investors taking over ailing companies and redeveloping them to use British respected company names like Rolls Royce, Bently, Jaguar and Land Rover to sell products made in the UK but by companies with foreign owners.    Nissan and Honda have set up companies from green fields and used the UK work force skills to make high quality cars but again the ownership and therefore the profit has been foreign. 
From Southampton near where I live UK built cars are shipped all over the world some even to within the EU this trading on the UK reputation for quality and recently good industrial relations is a resource that UK investors should be taking advantage of.

Hope for the future
One company that had all but closed, Triumph Motor Cycles were underfunded in the late 50,s and early 60,s their products were left behind as obsolete and old fashioned with poor reliability.  Triumph was purchased by a UK investor and the company has been reinvigorated with traditional models brought up to date and new models all of high quality and the company is one of the most rapidly growing motor cycle companies in the world.
With this brief and very personal statement the question I would like answered by the UK now is where do we go from here.
Allan Glass

Monday, March 31, 2014

Lord Tebbit gets it right on Party membership

In an article for Brietbart Ben Harris-Quinney wrote on March 25th:

The Bow Group, the UK's oldest conservative think-tank, hosted a “State of the Party” lecture last week, delivered by Lord Tebbit. The Thatcher-era cabinet minister expressed a desire to see a change of leadership so we can feel like conservatives again and feel like the Prime Minister is “a son of Thatcher and not a son of Tony Blair”. But he felt there was a more important consideration; the extent to which a future leader is willing to enfranchise the party membership:
“We need a leadership with an attachment to the grassroots, and one that spends less time on focus groups and opinion polls and much more establishing a network of constituency associations and agents to rebuild the membership.
"When eventually it comes to choosing the next leader, it’s not about whether we go left or right, but whether we will be a top down, narrowly focused party run by an elite, or a bottom up party run by like-minded, anti-statist minded people.”
After a disastrous decade of party membership, another 10 years of the same would ensure that the Conservative Party ceases to exist. An ideological conservative won’t be enough. Tories also need a leader who is willing to drive freedom and democracy within the Conservative Party for the long term, pushing power down and out through local Tory branches, and empowering and attracting members.

Thursday, March 27, 2014


Our next Forum will be on 12th April.   See "Events" in right hand column for details.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Tax avoidance - can we afford it? updated 31 Mar 2014

At the last COPOV Forum there was a discussion about tax avoidance.   The discussion was about legal tax avoidance and relied on examples from Richard Brooks book "The Great Tax Robbery".   The big question is "Is it fair?"   Over the next few weeks we will set out some examples and why nothing is being done about it.   Consider the following:

(1) Prosecutions for evasion of direct taxes (like income tax) run at just thirty per year even though the offence is estimated by HMRC to cost around £5.5 billion annually.
(2) Following its takeover by a private equity group in 2007 Boot's tax payments halved as the new owners loaded the company up with billions of pounds of debt on which it now makes tax deductible payments.   As a result, out of operating profits of £1 billion in 2010/11, the now Swiss-controlled group paid just £59 million in tax.
(3) Barclays has over 300 tax haven subsidiary companies, 181 of them in the Cayman Islands. 
(4) In 5 years from 2006 the Revenue put just eight corporation tax schemes - all of which took place before the end of 2003 - before the tax tribunal that is the first step in the legal process.
(5) Foreign football players - as "non-doms" they can keep their image rights offshore in a tax haven company entirely untaxed.  Share schemes for bonuses are more valuable to non-dom players who can leave them offshore.   The same net wage for a foreign player thus costs a club far less than it does a native one.   So for the same total cost the club can get a better overseas player.   This goes some way to explaining why the Premier League had just 11 non-British or Irish players in 1992 but by 2007 it had 250.
(6) In 2006 accountants Grant Thornton estimated that in the previous year Britain's fifty-four billionaires, mostly non-doms, paid tax of £15 million on combined fortunes of £126 billion.
(7) By 2010 penalties for fraudulent or negligent understatements of income charged on all 770 companies dealt with by the Revenue's Large Business Service had dropped to £0.4 million, or around 0.01% of the tax they had underdeclared on their tax returns.
(8) Public Buildings and Territory of Ownership
      HMRC Tax Offices            Bermuda
      HM Treasury                     Jersey
      Home Office                      Guernsey
      Ministry of Defence            Guernsey
(9) Research suggests that developing countries lose at least $50 billion per year and perhaps as much as $280 billion in corporate profit sharing (i.e. avoidance) and evasion by individuals. Total worldwide annual aid to developing countries is around $100 billion.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Labour or Conservative

One of my friends told me the following:

Recently, while I was working in the flower beds in my front garden, my neighbours stopped to chat as they returned home from walking their dog.
During our friendly conversation I asked their little girl what she wanted to be when she grew up. She said she wanted to be Prime Minister someday.

Both of her parents, Labour Party members, were standing there, so I asked her, "If you were Prime Minister what would be the first thing you would do?"

She replied... "I'd give food and houses to all the homeless people."

Her parents beamed with pride!

"Wow...what a worthy goal!" I said. "But you don't have to wait until you're Prime Minister to do that!" I told her.

"What do you mean?" she asked.
So I told her, "You can come over to my house and mow the lawn, pull out the weeds, and trim my hedge,
and I'll pay you £50. Then you can go over to the shop, where the homeless guy hangs out,
and you can give him the £50 to use toward food and a new house."

She thought that over for a few seconds, then she looked me straight in the eye and asked,
"Why doesn't the homeless guy come over and do the work, and you can just pay him the £50?"

I said, "Welcome to the Conservative Party."

Her parents aren't speaking to me anymore

Monday, February 24, 2014

Local Democracy?

The following article appeared in Private Eye last week.

"A surreal lesson in how democracy works - or doesn't - from Herefordshire.

County councillors were unanimous earlier this month in reversing a cut imposed by the council's cabinet in the provision of free school buses for hundreds of children across the county.   Even the cabinet members voted against their earlier decision.   Yet days later the council announced: "This... does not change the policy position for home to school transport set by cabinet in December, which will take effect in September 2014."

Officers told gobsmacked councillors the cuts would go ahead without any further reference to them.   They explained that under local government legislation the decision of the cabinet, once made could not be un-done."

Even in parliament members can overturn a decision of the cabinet.   Why can't councils?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Thirsk and Malton selection update

Martin Vander Weyer is a member of the Thirsk and Malton Constituency Association.   In the article printed below he sets out the role of the Party's Regional Office.   What were they playing at?   Are they so incapable that they let this breech of the Party's constitution go through.   Questions need to be asked and answers given.

Martin Vander Weyer is business editor of The Spectator:
"How dirty were the tricks?   The chief allegation was that in 2012, Chairman Steveney (a former cavalry officer and Jockey Club official) expanded the association’s executive council to include representatives of electoral wards that did not have active Conservative branches.   The panel quoted a rule that ‘representation should be “from each Ward or Polling District branch” (not from each Ward or Polling District)’, and said the rule was ‘designed to prevent an unrepresentative “takeover” of an executive council’, a phrase much quoted after the leaked publication; but the panel did not suggest Steveney had attempted such a takeover.   It simply said he had misinterpreted the rules and must go through the restructuring exercise and -reselection vote a second time.

Steveney and his colleagues’ rebuttal, now also in the public domain, never received a response from party HQ.   It pointed out that the panel had ignored the role of regional officials who advised on the restructuring, and the fact that a senior party agent, Maurice Cook, had not called it out of order when challenged to do so at the AGM."

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The members have spoken

In a ballot of the members of the Thirsk and Malton Conservative Association the result was a majority in favour of de-selecting Anne McIntosh as the Conservative candidate for the 2015 General Election.   The Constituency association  has 560 members and 88% of them voted.
Anne Mackintosh says this is a small cabal trying to get rid of her, but it does not look so small.   She has also said that she may fight the seat as an Independent.   Of course if she does so, against the official Conservative candidate she could find herself together with any Party members that support her, subject to disciplinary procedures of the Party leading to their expulsion from the Conservative Party
Thank heavens for the "wisdom of the crowd".

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Re-selection of MP - Another fine mess.

Thirsk and Malton re-selection.
Looking at the leaked report it looks as though the local Association has made a bit of a mess of the re-selection process, but it does raise a number of points:
a) What were the Area and Regional officers doing when the Association changed its rules at the Extraordinary General Meeting?
b) Did they make the Association aware that the rule changes were in breach of the Party's constitution?
c) Why didn't Anne McIntosh reply to the Executive Council?   Does the Party's Constitution need amending so that there is a time limit for reply in these circumstances?
d) Why is the Internal Inquiry Report secret?   After all they were working in a semi-judicial capacity.   Justice should be seen to be done.
e)Why has no reply been sent to the Association Chairman?   Common courtesy demands a reply should be sent.

The following report appeared in the Yorkshire Post on 27th January:

A SECRET Conservative Party report has revealed serious allegations of dirty tricks and subterfuge within a North Yorkshire Conservative association as local party bosses try to force out the region’s only female Tory MP.
The Yorkshire Post can reveal Conservative Party chairman Lord Feldman ordered an internal inquiry into allegations of wrongdoing at the Thirsk and Malton Conservative Association, whose leadership is involved in a long-running de-selection battle with the sitting MP, Anne McIntosh.
The inquiry’s findings, suppressed by the party but published today for the first time, conclude that local Tory leaders broke party rules by co-opting a large number of new appointees onto the Thirsk and Malton association’s executive board, shortly before a crunch meeting last year where it voted not to re-select Miss McIntosh as Tory candidate for the 2015 general election.
Supporters of Miss McIntosh privately described the affair as “our very own Falkirk” – a reference to the vote-rigging row which tore the Labour Party apart last year as it sought a new candidate for a safe seat in Scotland.
While there is no suggestion of any criminal activity, the report is heavily critical of the Thirsk and Malton association and its chairman, retired Army Major and racehorse owner Peter Steveney – a fierce opponent of Miss McIntosh. Mr Steveney and his associates were hauled in to Conservative Party headquarters for heated discussions in the wake of its findings. Their de-selection vote was judged “fundamentally flawed”.
“The association wrongly sought to re-configure the composition of its executive council in the manner it did,” the inquiry found in July 2013. “The constitution of the party makes no provision for such arrangements, or empowers an association to do so.”
The report found the newly-appointed members of the executive “were clearly co-options by any other name”.
It said the rules broken were specifically designed “to prevent an unrepresentative takeover of an executive council”.
It also criticised a letter Mr Steveney subsequently wrote to party members as “unhelpful and detrimental to Miss McIntosh’s position, and unfair to her”.
Mr Steveney rebuts the report’s findings, however, describing them as “totally one-sided”. He insists he acted within party rules and has demanded an apology from Lord Feldman.
Thirsk and Malton remains a true-blue Conservative heartland and one of England’s most rural seats, with a Tory majority of more than 11,000.
The bitter dispute lays bare once more the disconnect between Conservative Party headquarters and its grassroots associations, as David Cameron’s attempts to modernise the party continue. Last May, just three weeks after ordering the inquiry into Thirsk and Malton, Lord Feldman – a tennis partner of Mr Cameron – was forced to publicly deny describing Tory associations as “all mad, swivel-eyed loons”.
Tory members given access to the secret report were warned any breach of confidentiality would lead to disciplinary action, and possible expulsion from the party.
However, the Yorkshire Post was able to download a copy from the website of an award-winning bed-and-breakfast in the North York Moors. Its owner, a prominent local Conservative and supporter of Miss McIntosh, removed the document yesterday afternoon.
“In the wider interests of the Conservative Party we decided not to take issue with the report at the time, but to get on and follow its recommendations,” Mr Steveney said last night.
“But I thought the report was a travesty. We wrote to the party asking for an apology in July, and They still have not replied.
“And that, I’m afraid, is absolutely typical of the way they ignore the voluntary party.”
The initial de-selection vote has now been declared null and void, and a ballot of local party members called instead, with a decision due on Friday. If Miss McIntosh is forced out, David Cameron will lose one of just three female Tory MPs covering the whole of the North of England.
Mr Cameron wants to increase the number of women Tory MPs from its current 16 per cent level – half that of Labour’s – but has been frustrated by the reluctance of local associations to select women candidates. Furthermore, four of his 2010 intake of female MPs have either resigned or announced they will not stand again.
Miss McIntosh’s supporters claim elements of her local association “never wanted” a female MP – part of the reason for the long-running whispering campaign against her. This is hotly denied by her opponents, who accuse her of being “impossible” to work with.
But in unguarded comments, one senior local party figure referred to the MP as “a silly little girl” and made clear the sort of candidate he would prefer.
“Let’s have an open selection and see who else would like to be MP,” he said. “We might get Boris (Johnson) – that would be rather fun, wouldn’t it? Or Nigel Farage?”
A more likely candidate than the Ukip leader could be Edward Legard, a local judge and Ryedale councillor. A Tory candidate in 2010, Coun Legard is on the party’s national list again – but has yet to declare which seat he will fight.
Earlier this month he was forced to deny his involvement in a letter-writing campaign against Miss McIntosh after his name appeared ‘by accident’ on an email sent to local newspapers.
The letter, signed by two prominent local Conservative businessmen, warned of the “poisonous” atmosphere within Thirsk and Malton Conservatives, and called on Miss McIntosh to be replaced.
Mr Legard could not be reached for comment last night.
Miss McIntosh also declined to comment, stating she would not “provide a running commentary”.

The Conservative Party said it would not comment on a leaked report.

Monday, January 13, 2014

SE Cambridgeshire Tories sweep mess under the carpet.

The South East Cambridgeshire Tories have voted to sweep the mess they made of the selection of their parliamentary candidate under the carpet and Tory Central Office have washed their hands of it.   No one has denied the facts of the case so we can only assume that they are correct, so why haven't the Tories re-run the selection process?   Disgraceful conduct has been piled on disgraceful conduct.   The officers of the local Association should resign.   They couldn't run a whelk stall, let alone a campaigning organisation. 

The following is as reported in the Independent on Sunday 12th January 2014:

Lucy Frazer, a barrister, was "reaffirmed" as Conservative candidate for South East Cambridgeshire on Friday despite claims that she had been beaten in an open primary by another woman, Heidi Allen, last month.
Despite calls for the local party to rerun the vote, the South East Cambridgeshire Conservative association voted to "reaffirm" Ms Frazer as their candidate. Her Labour opponent claimed it would always be suspected Mrs Frazer was the "second-choice" candidate for the constituency. The decision to appoint her also undermines the legitimacy of the open primary process, which Mr Cameron has held up as an example of his party's effort to rebuild trust in politics.
Although Conservative headquarters were insisting the vote was a matter for the local party, the selection of Mrs Frazer has ramifications for the Prime Minister because he is under pressure to increase the number of Tory women in Parliament. Only a third of candidates selected for key target seats in 2015 so far are female. While both contenders for the seat were female, lingering doubts about Mrs Frazer's selection will overshadow the quest to increase the tally of women.
Last month, South East Cambridgeshire Conservatives held an open primary, in which anyone, rather than only members of the party, can cast their vote, to replace the current MP James Paice, who is retiring. In the final run-off, Ms Allen, an astrophysicist and St Albans district councillor, was beaten by Mrs Frazer by 84 votes to 48. But the controversy erupted last week amid claims that Ms Allen's result was far lower than had been expected. When a local party official took the ballot papers home for an informal recount, the result was wrong, it was alleged, and 23 votes for Ms Allen had been mistakenly awarded to Mrs Frazer.
Because the official had taken the ballot papers home, the local association's president Brian Ashton deemed the entire count invalid, and an emergency meeting was called, amid demands for a recount.
Steve Tierney, a Wisbech Conservative town councillor, wrote on the Conservative Home website: "What a mess! Seems bizarre it could even happen. Every count I've ever seen has been scrupulous."
Yet on Friday evening, at a stormy meeting in Ely, the local association voted to reaffirm Mrs Frazer in the interests of "party unity", according to the local newspaper, the Wisbech Standard.
Conservative Campaign Headquarters refused to comment on the dispute, saying only: "This was a local association matter that has now been resolved by them." It is believed the local association will put out a statement this weekend.
Mrs Frazer, a graduate of Cambridge University, is a QC, state school governor and a mentor for children from low-income families. She has two children with her husband, David. After her selection in December she said she was "thrilled", adding: I hope to bring my experience of working with a wide range of businesses to increase growth. I am interested in improving state education in the constituency and the road and rail infrastructure. I am looking forward to working with and for everyone in the constituency."

She could not be contacted for comment last night.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

How bad can the Conservative Party organisation get?

The following report is taken from the web site of 7th January 2014.   If true it represents a new low point in Conservative Party organisation.   Why were scrutineers not present at the count?   Who will take responsibility for this calamity – the Party Chairman, responsible for Party organisation, - the officers of the National Convention, responsible for the voluntary Party – the Chairman of the Candidates Committee, responsible for candidates – the professional Head of Candidates?   Not on your nelly.   None of them will.   The Party Chairman, Chairman of Candidates Committee and Head of Candidates are all appointed, unelected and unaccountable to the members of the Conservative Party.   The officers of the National Convention are accountable to the Convention which has become a rubber stamp for the Party hierarchy.   When will we have a democratic Party in which those running it are accountable to the members?
Bearing in mind the cock up by the Labour Party in the selection of a candidate in Falkirk we now have a situation in which it has been demonstrated that our two main political parties are incapable of selecting candidates on a fundamental democratic basis.   Yet these organisations are determining who the people are that will in future be governing our country so what will the Electoral Commission do about this?   Sweet Fanny Adams, because it is terrified of interfering in the political parties in case they would decide to get rid of the Commission.   Our democracy is deep in sewerage and the smell is putrid.   When are the people going to start fighting back?
- -  - - - - - - - - - - - -  - - - -  7th January 2014
“Alleged vote counting error throws South East Cambridgeshire Open Primary result into doubt
A month ago we reported that Lucy Frazer had won the South East Cambridgeshire Open Primary.
There was some surprise at the time that Heidi Allen, a businesswoman who had been working the seat hard and was widely tipped as the favourite, had been pipped to the post – but ConHome commenters who were in the room put that down to an “off day” on her part.
Now, though, the result has been thrown into doubt. The Cambridge News reports concerns that there are allegations of a mistake in the count, reportedly discovered by “an activist who took the ballot papers home from the primary decided to recount them”.
The gist of the claims is that a pile of 25 ballots was mistakenly allocated to Frazer when in fact all but the top two votes were for Allen. With the final result coming in at 84 for Frazer and 48 for Allen, those 23 votes would be enough to change the result.
The difficulty in proving the claim is that the ballot papers were taken home before the person claims to have discovered the error. Had there been a recount on the night, it would have been a demonstrable mistake. Instead, the papers have been out of official supervision and in the hands of one person, which – while there are no allegations of wrongdoing that I can find – means this recount is unofficial.
It’s very important to note that this is no reflection on the Open Primary system; if the alleged error happened it’s a major mistake in a small count and a serious failure on the part of the returning officers, but it could have happened under any selection process.
The Cambridge News reports that Heidi Allen received 60 votes in the first two rounds of the primary, which does make it surprising that 12 of her voters would then abandon her in the final runoff – though it’s not impossible that tactical voting could have played a part.
The Association will meet on Friday, in the presence of Paul Mabbutt, the National Nominating Officer and Gareth Fox, the Conservative Party Head of Candidates, to consider what to do next.
Stuck in the middle of all this, of course, are the two would-be MPs and the voters of South East Cambridgeshire, all of whom are now in a horrible situation. It’s in all their interests that the matter is resolved swiftly, cleanly and publicly – which could very well mean a rerun of the Open Primary.

Comment by Coltheox 91p ·

I was present at the Open Primary on 7th December at Ely all day. There were some classic cock ups even before the massive mistake with the declaration at the end. When the first count started, much to my surprise, I noted that none of the candidates had a scrutineer present. Evidently, this was a ruling from Gareth Fox, who was at the meeting at that time. A classic Central Office cock-up ruling! There is nothing in the rules which says that you cannot have a scrutineer, and had the candidates had one each, we would not now be in this ridiculous position.
Secondly, at no time following any of the counts (of which there were three) were the candidates shown the result and asked if they would like a recount. That must happen, and is quite clearly stated in the rule book. Another classic cock-up!
After the final ballot, and the wrong result had been announced, we all drifted off home, and ballot papers were put in the care of a trusted person from another constituency with absolutely no axe to grind whatsoever. It was only by chance that it was discovered that a huge miscarriage of justice had taken place. To the person who discovered this mistake credit, there was no attempt to cover it up, and certain people were immediately informed.
Unbelievably, the Central Office appointed agent commented that it was a pity that the ballot papers were not shredded on finding out the mistake- that again would have broken all the rules, as it quite clearly states that the ballot papers must be kept for at least three months – but that’s Central Office for you! You couldn’t make it up!
The reason it has taken so long to come to light is that the powers that be have tried to cover it up, and not be open and honest. Even at this coming Friday’s meeting, the ‘Hard Men’ from Central Office are going to attend and try to bully us into accepting what everyone knows by now is a deeply flawed result.
I feel dreadfully sorry for the two candidates involved in this dog’s breakfast. It is none of their doing, and not their fault. The fault lies squarely with Central Office, who simply did not do what they should have done.
When the final ballot result was announced, why did no-one pick up the fact that despite polling over 60 votes in each of the previous two rounds, (62 in the first ballot, and 63 in the second) did that candidates vote suddenly fall by over 20% to 48 votes in the space of fifteen minutes? –Roughly the time between one ballot and the next. Again, basic election procedure was not followed.
The story is now out in the public domain, and in reality it should be. Trying to cover up such a mistake smacks of a level of crass ineptness, and puts our party on the same level as Labour in Scotland! Gerrymandering of the worst kind!
Remember, the selection procedure was an open primary. Those people, who were not party members, but mostly Conservatives, who attended that meeting are not allowed in to Friday’s meeting. It is members only. To confirm this blatantly wrong decision, as Central Office would wish and ‘encourage’ us to do, will be sending a dreadful message to all those non-members who did attend, give up their day, and vote in the open primary – and the message will be in the shape of two fingers!
The only way to resolve this mess is to re-run the whole procedure again. Yes, it’s a pain, but if certain people from Central Office had done what they are paid to do in the first place, we would not have to do this all again.
To retain the Conservative principles of democracy, justice, honesty, openness, free and fair elections and integrity there is no option but to start over again.