December 19th Questions to members of the Conservative Party
December 12th Northern Ireland - Parliamentary Candidates - Elected Party Chairman - Leader under First Past The Post - And Finally
December 5th COPOV Forum 4th December - Conservative Policy Forum - Our Future - David and Goliatha - Next week - What is happening to the Parliamentary Candidate's List
November 28th Party Reform - Tony Blair - Part Timers - More Interference! - IPSA
November 21st The Conservative Party, Where is it going? - How will Adams stand down?
November 14th Chairman of the National Convention - David and Goliatha
November 7th European Budget - Prisoner Voting
It’s ironic then that a great many members are becoming disillusioned with the Tory apparatus precisely because it is so centralised. One prominent campaigner, John Strafford, has highlighted how the party lost members hand over fist since local associations were deprived off power, in a document called 'Where is the party going?'.
It’s a startling figure, but it is claimed that there are 105,000 fewer paid up Conservatives since David Cameron became leader. Strafford ascribes the exodus to the lack of input afforded to members and the marginalisation of the ’volunteer party’.
It’s a thesis that will chime rather resonantly with many Northern Ireland Tories. Although Tim Lewis argues in yesterday’s News Letter that rumours of its demise are grossly exaggerated, the local party has effectively been wound up by a dictat of central office.
That’s a rather poor display of faith in the judgement of people on the ground. Indeed, if the rumours are true, Andrew Feldman capitulated in the face of a threat to withdraw Jim Nicholson from the Conservative group in the European Parliament.
As I understand it, Irwin Armstrong remains as chairman of the party in Northern Ireland, until the exact nature of the arrangement with the UUP is resolved.
For the record, here are Strafford’s proposals to reinvigorate democracy within the Tory party.
The Conservative Party constitution should be capable of being altered by the members of the Party on the basis of one member, one vote, if 66%+ vote in favour of change.
There should be an Annual General Meeting of the Party to which all members are invited.
The Chairman of the Party should be responsible for the Party Organisation.
The Chairman and Treasurer of the Party should be elected by the members of the Party.
The Chairman of the Party should present an Annual Report on the Party organisation at the Annual General Meeting of the Party for adoption by the members.
The Treasurer of the Party should present the Annual Accounts of the Party to the Annual General Meeting for adoption by the members.
The Chairman of the Committee on Candidates should be elected by the members of the Party and should present a report on candidate selection at the Annual General Meeting of the Party.
The Chairman of the Council of the Conservative Policy Forum should be elected by the members of the Party and should present a report on the workings of the Forum at the Annual General Meeting of the Party.
Regional meetings of the Party, to which all members of the Party in the Region are invited, should be resurrected and meetings should be held at least twice a year.
Regional Chairmen should be elected by all members in their Region.
As part of the formal structure of the Party the Areas should be scrapped, although some Regions may wish to keep their Areas and can do so.
Motions for debate on policy should be allowed at the Party Conference.
Clause 17 of the current Party Constitution should be abolished.
The infamous clause 17 of the constitution states: “The Board shall have power to do anything which in its opinion relates to the management and administration of the Party”
- Should the traditional model of local Associations be continued - and if not, what should replace it?
- Yes, it should be continued.
- If it's not to be continued, how would the selection of candidates for local, national and Euro elections be co-ordinated (if at all)?
- See above.
- Regardless of whether or not it's to be continued, what rights and benefits should members have?
- The most important rights are the ability to change the Constitution of the Party on the basis of One Member One Vote and the selection of candidates
- Should they be able to elect the leader, and select candidates for local, Westminster and European elections? If so in the last three cases, how do local primaries fit in, if at all? What restrictions, if any, should the Party leadership/CCHQ be able to exercise in relation to such selections - in other words, should there be approved Westminster and European lists, and if so how should they work?
- Yes, they should be able to elect the Leader and select candidates for local, Westminster and European elections. Local primaries only fit in if the electors are Conservative Party members, or registered Conservative supporters. Registration would be a nominal amount of say £1. There should be approved lists of candidates for Westminster and European elections. The lists would be open to any Conservative Party member. Central Office's function would be to check the applications to eliminate people with criminal convictions, mentally ill and bankrupts. There should also be a minimum period as a member of the Party.
- What rights, if any, should Party members have in relation to the formation of Party Policy?
- Members should have the right to determine Party policy, but the Leader should determine what priority policy should have.
- Does the Party's Constitution need revision?
- Should Party members be entitled to elect, say, the Party Chairman, or a Vice-Chairman?
- Yes, Party members should elect the Party Chairman.
- Should there be an Office of the Voluntary Party in CCHQ, as proposed by Jeremy Middleton, and if so how should it work?
- Yes, there should be an office with a member of the voluntary Party in control.
- What control, if any, should Party members have over how the money that they raise is spent? Should the Party, for example, be required to publish more detailed accounts? (See Tim's account of here on how £300,000 was blown on adverts which were never used.)
- Party members should elect the Treasurer of the Party who would present the Accounts of the Party to an Annual General Meeting of the Party for approval by the members.
- Should there be a two-way means of communication between the Party and its individual members, and if so what should it be?
- Yes, by email.
- Should the Party actively seek to develop more active networks - for example, of business professionals?
- Should it provide a training programme for Association Officers?
- Should it seek to develop a summer school or college?
- Is it right to place its present strong stress on social action?
- Would it be practicable for the Party to seek to establish a British equivalent of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, as suggested recently on Platform by Francis Davis?
We would like to issue the following joint press release with the UUP tomorrow:
“After a meeting today, it has been agreed that the Conservative Party and the Ulster Unionist Party will continue to engage in a serious and constructive dialogue about an on-going political and electoral relationship between the two parties as we look ahead to the next European and General Elections. The UUP intend to put forward proposals for approval by their Executive committee in January 2011 which will then be considered by the Board of the Conservative Party. These proposals will include the understanding that any future UUP MP’s and current and future MEP’s will take the Conservative Party Whip.
In the meantime, both parties are conscious of the forthcoming District Council and Assembly elections in May 2011. In this regard, it has been agreed that:
1. Both parties will put up candidates in the District Council Elections, with a view to elected councillors co-operating in Local Government, as rules currently permit this to happen.
2. In the Assembly elections only the UUP will put up candidates. This is because under the current rules parties are unable to fight elections in coalition and once the elections have taken place are unable to enter a post election coalition within the Assembly.”
This has been cleared by Stephen Gilbert, Owen and Jonathan Caine. Tom Elliott of the UUP is also content.
I have highlighted the most contentious point. First of all this is a breach of the Party's constitution which states in the objects of Constituency Associations that they will "secure the return of Conservative Candidates at elections". Secondly, has the decision been taken by the Party Board which is the only authority which can overrule this provision? Thirdly, Stephen Gilbert, Owen Patterson and Jonathan Caine, let alone a member of another party, Tom Elliot have no standing in this matter whatsoever, so why have they been asked to clear it?. Have Central Office gone barmy or is the control freak tendency getting worse? This is a disgrace and puts back the Conservative cause in Northern Ireland.
- Energy and Commitment
- Campaign leadership and motivation.
- Manner and attitude.
- Depth and intellect.
- Communication and ability to relate to people.
- Commitment to inclusion and diversity.
Tory members want an elected Chairman
There is strong support for a move back to the seaside for Tory Conferences (where prices are much lower), transparency of party accounts and more mergers of Tory Associations to pool resources.
The most controversial finding is that two-thirds of members want a directly-elected Chairman. 23% oppose this idea, perhaps fearing that the post could be used by a rival to the party leader as an alternative source of power. That is, indeed, a real danger.
Below are the results of every Tory leadership election from 1997. If they had been held under First Past the Post (FPTP), the result in every case would have been different. So why are they not held under FPTP? Is it because Tory MPs insist upon having a leader that speaks for at least half of them? That’s fair enough, yet those same people are, for the most part, campaigning against British voters having the right to vote in the same manner. Why?
|First Ballot: 4 May 1997|
|First Ballot: 8 June 2001|
|Iain Duncan Smith||39||23.5|
|First Ballot: 18 October 2005|
The following are all sentences taken from real letters sent to Local
1 It's the dogs' mess that I find hard to swallow
2 I want some repairs done to my cooker as it has backfired and burnt my knob off.
3 I wish to complain that my father burnt his ankle very badly when he put his foot in the hole in his back passage..
4 And their 18 year old son is continually banging his balls against my fence.
5 I wish to report that tiles are missing from the outside toilet roof.
I think it was bad wind the other day that blew them off.
6 My lavatory seat is cracked, where do I stand?
7 I am writing on behalf of my sink, which is coming away from the wall.
8 Will you please send someone to mend the garden path. My wife tripped and fell on it yesterday and now she is pregnant.
9 I request permission to remove my drawers in the kitchen.
10 50% of the walls are damp, 50% have crumbling plaster, and 50% are Plain filthy.
11 I am still having problems with smoke in my new drawers.
12 The toilet is blocked and we cannot bath the children until it is cleared.
13 Will you please send a man to look at my water, it is a funny colour and not fit to drink.
14 Our lavatory seat is broken in half and now is in three pieces.
15 I want to complain about the farmer across the road..every morning at 6am his cock wakes me up and it's now getting too much for me.
16 The man next door has a large erection in the back garden, which is unsightly and dangerous.
17 Our kitchen floor is damp. We have two children and would like a third So please send someone round to do something about it.
18 I am a single woman living in a downstairs flat and would you please do something about the noise made by the man on top of me every night.
19 Please send a man with the right tool to finish the job and satisfy my wife.
20 I have had the clerk of works down on the floor six times but I still have no satisfaction.
21 This is to let you know that our lavatory seat is broke and we can't get BBC2.
22 My bush is really overgrown round the front and my back passage has fungus growing in it.
23 He's got this huge tool that vibrates the whole house and I just can't take it anymore.
- The campaign for Party reform is making good progress. If you agree with our Points for Action (See below) bring then to the notice of your Constituency Chairman and your MP. Write to the Party Chairman and demand action. We must continue to keep the pressure on
- I sent a copy of my article to Baroness Warsi (Party Chairman), together with a covering letter. Her office responded as follows:
"We appreciate you taking time to write and for bringing your views about the structure, organisation and strategic direction of the Party to our attention. We do appreciate all the feedback and comments that we receive."
Gone are the days when the Party Chairman would address the points you make. Now you just get a standard reply, as your letter is swept under the carpet. Just one more reason why we need a Chairman accountable to Party members.
- Excellent article by James Elles MEP
- Democracy in the Labour Party
Some in his circle are nervous. They are fearful of the internal furies that might be unleashed. They are also apprehensive that to challenge the electoral college might delegitimise him as leader. Yet it is surely long past time that Labour embraced the democracy of one member, one vote. Union hostility might be somewhat assuaged by mechanisms to convert trade unionists into full Labour members. A bigger reform – one which would be true to Ed Miliband's stated desire to reawaken mass participation in politics – would be to open up the party much more widely.Tony Blair made a big, early impact as leader of the opposition with his campaign to rewrite Clause 4 of the Labour constitution. That defined him as a bold, decisive and different kind of Labour leader. Ed Miliband plans to make a commitment to party reform when he addresses Labour's national policy forum this coming Saturday. If that is to be taken seriously, he will have to include reform of the system by which he himself was elected. That could sound the death knell for the archaic electoral college which handed him the job thanks to trade union votes on a pathetic turn-out even though his brother had won among MPs and party members.
London, SW1E 5BH
The end of World War II was a political watershed with the Conservative Party suffering its greatest electoral defeat. A desire for more equality and change helped bring the Labour Party to power. The Conservative Party responded to the challenge by bringing in Lord Woolton as Party Chairman. Woolton was to serve nine years as Party Chairman and was the most successful Chairman in the history of the Conservative Party. With party membership at about 250,000 in 1945, Woolton realised that he had to build up membership in order once again to create a mass membership Party. He believed that one of the reasons for the defeat in the General Election had been that the Party had forgotten the “little people”.
The young were not forgotten. In the summer of 1945 there were only 50 Young Conservative branches in the country. By 1948 this had increased to 2,129 branches with no less than 150,000 members.
Participation was the key to this success. Swinton College was opened in 1947. Its role was to educate activists, train agents and volunteers and arrange lectures. The Conservative Political Centre encouraged local discussion groups and by 1947 there were 557 of them, meeting regularly in a member’s house and all putting forward ideas and views on policy. Their views were taken seriously by Central Office and by Shadow Ministers. A letter sent to a member of the Shadow Cabinet often elicited a personal reply.
The revival of Party membership was not to last. After the General Election of 1951 promises of further accountability, such as the publication of the Party’s accounts, were quietly dropped and the decline in membership began. There were attempts to reform the Party in the late 1960s and early 1970s but promised reforms were quietly dropped after the 1974 defeat. By 1979 membership had fallen to 1,350,000. It continued to fall throughout the 1980s and 1990s and was down to 400,000 by 1997. A million members simply evaporated.
Although the Party now had a constitution that constitution cannot be changed without the agreement of an Electoral College consisting of Members of Parliament and the National Convention, which consists mainly of Constituency Chairmen. In this Electoral College an MP’s vote is worth three times that of a Constituency Chairman. The real power resides with the Parliamentary Party. The Chairman and Treasurer of the Party are appointed by the Leader so are unaccountable to the membership. There is no Annual General Meeting of members so there is no formal forum for members to raise questions about the Party’s organisation or policies. The Annual Accounts of the Party are not tabled for approval at an AGM. The selection of parliamentary candidates of the Party is controlled centrally. The Party Board can and does take control of any Constituency Association, which does not toe the line. The infamous clause 17 of the constitution states: “The Board shall have power to do anything which in its opinion relates to the management and administration of the Party”, and this makes the rest of the constitution meaningless.
The interference in the constituencies started with Michael Howard’s intervention in Arundel when Howard Flight MP was deselected just before the 2005 General Election. It has escalated since. There was a massive interference in constituencies in selection of candidates for the last General Election – Westminster North being one example, but do not forget the “A” list. Many constituencies were threatened with support status if they did not comply with Central Office rulings.
What does a Party member get for being a member of the Conservative Party? Prior to the Party reforms of 1998 there were a number of reasons to be a member. There were meetings at area and national level where you could raise issues of policy or organisation. Social gatherings emphasised the tribal feeling and sense of belonging. The Party conference was run by the voluntary party. It had motions for debate. Constituency Associations were for all intents and purposes autonomous. The Party had three distinct sections - the parliamentary party, the voluntary party and the professional organisation. There were checks and balances in the distribution of power. All of these were swept away in 1998, but the members held onto one last right – that of selecting their parliamentary candidate.
This has now gone. At the Party Board meeting in July 2009 new rules were brought in for the selection of Conservative Party candidates. Candidates can now effectively be imposed by Central Office. Due to the Boundaries Commission review, it is unlikely that candidates will be selected in the next two years other than for by-elections. Significantly, these will be on the basis of open primaries with a list produced by Central Office. The ordinary Party member will have no more say in this than a member of any other Party.
There are no longer any reasons why one should be a member of the Conservative Party. Does this matter?
After the 1998 reorganisation of the Party, membership picked up a little, but by nowhere near as much as the Tories hoped. The total had fallen to 320,000 by 2003. When David Cameron became Leader it was 258,239. Today in 2010 Party membership is 177,000, so we have lost 80,000 members since he became Leader. The loss of 80,000 members is a net loss after taking into account new members joining the party. Assuming that the party got say 5,000 new members each year, then the loss of old members is over 105,000. On this basis only 153,000 of the 258,239 members at the time of Cameron’s election are still members of the Party. Put another way, approx. 105,000 members have either died or allowed their membership to lapse since David Cameron became Leader. That means that over 40% of members that participated in his election have now left the Party. The average age of a Party member is 68.
In the period just prior to the Labour Party taking office their membership went up from 250,000 in 1994 to 400,000 in 1997.
The decline in membership matters Of the approx. 177,000 Party members about 10% or approx. 18,000 are activists. Today those activists consist primarily of 10,000 Councillors, their family and friends.
Because of the dire state of the economy some very tough and very unpopular decisions are being taken. Next year, at the time when we are likely to be most unpopular there will be local elections and many of our councillors will lose their seats, not because they have performed badly, but because of the national position. The effect on Party membership will be catastrophic impacting on membership and campaigning. We can expect to see more demonstrations on the streets like the National Union of Students demonstration. In these circumstances members loyal to the Party are essential to see us through these difficult times.
In the General Election we lost 27 seats by less than 2,000 votes. In spite of all the money spent on national advertising, which research has shown does not affect the result, in spite of the national television debates, the most important factor in the election was “feet on the ground”. At the margin it was the canvassing and the knocking up that counted most. For that you need volunteers and the most committed volunteers are members. So how do we set about increasing our membership?
It is no good re-launching the institutions that have failed to prevent the decline in membership. If they have failed before, they will fail again. The National Convention has become a meaningless rubber stamp. This is recognised by the fact that attendance at its meetings is never more than 50%. It is fundamentally flawed. Its main component is Constituency Chairmen who serve a term of three years. On becoming Chairmen many have never heard of the Convention so they have little incentive to participate. By the time they have understood what it is supposed to be about they are in their last year as Chairmen so about to vacate the post. The Convention has no continuity. There are no real debates at the Convention – the audience is talked at. Reports are given, but there is no real participation.
The Conservative Policy Forum has virtually disappeared without trace. Its role within the Party’s constitution has been totally ignored. Resurrect it on the same basis and in time it will fail again. Yet this is what appears to be about to happen.
Pyramid voting in the Conservative Party should be abolished. After all it was a Conservative government that made it illegal in the Trade Unions on the grounds that it distorted democracy. Currently Party members elect a Constituency Chairmen, who elect Area officers, who elect Regional officers. This is nonsense.
Research on party membership, done in the 1990s, showed two main reasons why people joined the Conservative Party. The first reason was for social purposes. People like to be with others of a like mind. They feel more comfortable. There is a tribal instinct.
It is not inevitable that we have a shrinking membership. We can and must do something about it. At present there is little, if any value in being a Party member. This has to change.
Without members the ability to fight elections will be impeded. Active politics will be left to an ever less representative rump. The Party will be ill equipped to engage with the people so making it more detached. It will leave the Party vulnerable to capture by extreme elements.
Today, the Conservative Party is controlled by a small group of wealthy individuals. The Labour party is controlled by a small group of trade union barons. Both parties are now vulnerable to an insurgent movement which rises up and engages with the public. William Hague said that the Conservative Party “was like an absolute monarchy moderated by regicide”. The Nation abolished absolute monarchy and regicide 350 years ago. It is time for the Conservative Party to follow suit.
I hope that every Conservative Party member will support the proposals I have set out in this paper. In November 1941 Franklin D Roosevelt said “Liberty freedom and democracy are prizes awarded only to those peoples who fight to win them and then keep fighting eternally to hold them”. It is time for Party members to come out fighting.
How will Adams stand down?
I am curious as to how Mr Adams plans to do this, as it is quite tricky to resign as an MP.
The traditional route is a procedural device whereby the resigning MP applies either to be Steward of the Chiltern Hundreds of Buckinghamshire, or of the Manor of Northstead.
Both are deemed to be "offices of profit under the Crown" and holding either post then disqualifies somebody from being an MP.
The jobs are given out alternately, and Northstead is next in line. The appointment has to be conferred by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, which is just a formality.
All very silly, but that's how it works.
But hang on.
How could a staunch Irish republican like Adams, who has steadfastly refused even to take his seat at Westminster, possibly apply for a job under the British Crown?
The 1870 Act stated that those convicted of a felony could not vote in elections for Parliament, and covered England, Wales and what became Northern Ireland, but not Scotland due to its different legal system and where the ban has different legal roots.
The Criminal Law Act 1967 and the Criminal Law Act (Northern Ireland ) 1967 abolished the division between felonies and misdemeanours and, as a result, removed that ban on voting in Parliamentary elections. This was not an accidental oversight but followed a specific recommendation from the Criminal Law Review Committee in the mid-1960s that the specific penalties for felonies, such as being banned from voting for Parliament, did not need to be continued via other means.
The ban was however restored by the Representation of the People Act 1969. Oddly, it did not restore the ban on prisoners standing for election, which had also been rescinded in 1967; that was to become a political hot issue in the 1980s with the IRA.
I wonder if any prisoners took up the opportunity of voting between the 1967 and 1969 acts in Parliamentary by-elections.
October 24th Those whom the Gods wish to destroy they first make mad - William Hague and Europe
October 17th Party Conference Participation! - Expenditure Cuts?
October 3rd European Referendum - Waste of Money - Reverse Majorities - EU Antidote - Candidate Selection
Health spending – up in cash and real terms
Schools spending – up in cash and probably in real terms
Contributions to the EU – substantially up thanks to loss of part of the rebate
Overseas Aid – up in cash and real terms
Benefits spending – all benefits to be increased in line with inflation
Pensions – to be increased by more under a new system which includes an earnings link
Equitable Life holders – £1.5 billion of compensation not in previous budgets
Debt interest – up substantially, as this government plans to add £450 billion to the public debt over the five years of this Parliament.
This is a message from the Amersham Watch Office sent on behalf of the South Bucks Partnership.
The South Bucks and Chiltern Carbon Contest
We all know that we need to cut the amount we pollute the environment. One of the biggest sources of pollution over which we have control comes from the Carbon Dioxide generated in running our homes. Whether we are running the central heating, using the washing machine or simply powering the lights, we are producing CO2 pollution that accelerates Climate Change.
In South Bucks, we have the dubious honour of actually having the highest per capita CO2 polluting District in the country and South Bucks Partnership is keen to urgently do something about this.
Together with partners in Bucks-based ZapCarbon, we have a devised a Carbon Contest that will help engage hundreds of new households in cutting their Carbon emissions. With your help we want to make this the biggest Carbon contest in the UK.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Starting in January 2010, hundreds of people will start competing against each other to see how much energy and carbon they can save. There are dozens of ways we can all lower the Carbon footprint of our homes, and this contest will help people to drive these measures to make a real difference.
For home owners to see their Carbon-cutting progress, people enter their readings from their electricity meter (and gas if available) into the contest website, and it calculates their consumption and how it has changed. League tables soon show who have saved the most, and people’s natural competitive instinct makes this whole process great fun. There is a lot of interaction and it is as much a community initiative as Carbon reduction.
There will be prizes for the winning community. Additionally, all households will benefit from both lowering their Carbon footprint and their energy bills, it may even lever some out of fuel poverty.
WHAT DO I NEED TO DO?
We urgently need to establish community teams. A team can come from a village, a street, a faith group, interest group, sports team, parish council etc – basically anywhere where there’s a group of people who would like to partake in doing something positive.
Within each team we will need to establish a point of contact. This person will be the contest leader in their community whose main responsibility is to recruit households to take part in the contest.
If you are interested in forming a team, please send your details (telephone and email) of which groups / communities you see as interested (or possibly interested) in forming a team by Wednesday 13th October – sooner if possible to:
Planning and Sustainability
South Bucks District Council
Herman Van Rompuy, the President of Europe, wants a new mechanism to enforce sanctions against member states which borrow too much. Fair enough, you might say: of the 27 member states, only three currently meet the EU’s debt and deficit rules. What’s alarming is the mechanism Mr Van Rompuy intends to use:
Whenever possible, decision-making rules on sanctions should be more automatic and based on a reverse majority rule, implying a Commission proposal is adopted unless rejected by the Council.So here is an innovation which would substantially shift power from the national capitals to the Commission, and which concerns an issue of major importance (levying fines), but which seems to have no legal basis.
The EU is an antidote to democratic governments, argues President Barroso
Governments are not always right. If governments were always right we would not have the situation that we have today. Decisions taken by the most democratic institutions in the world are very often wrong.
There are still plenty of people who think this way. Whenever I make the case for referendums, someone in the audience objects that the issues are too difficult for the man in the street, that the experts should be allowed to get on, that we are quietly relieved when politicians do what they think is best for us. As Tony Blair once put it:
The British people are sensible enough to know that, even if they have a certain prejudice about Europe, they don’t expect their government necessarily to share it or act upon it.
So why not do away with elections altogether? Yes, the European question can be made to sound complicated; but how much more complicated is a general election, in which, as well as weighing up the various parties’ attitudes to the EU, voters must also factor in their policies on housing, education and so on? As Vernon Bogdanor puts it: “Arguments against referendums are, in the final analysis, arguments against democracy”.
And if not democracy, what? Anarchy? Dictatorship of the proletariat? Absolute monarchy? Most Barrosistas want a kind of moderated democracy, where voters are ultimately in charge, but where experts also have their place. Yet this has been the argument of every tyrant in history: Bonaparte, Mussolini, Salazar, Lenin. It is, mutatis mutandis, the justification of the ayatollahs in Teheran, who allow elections, but empower an unelected commission to step in when people get the result wrong. It is the argument you hear in private from Chinese Communists: yes, people should be free to elect candidates for certain offices, but a country like this would fall apart without the expertise concentrated in our party.
There is, of course, a huge difference between arguing that, say, the Bank of England should determine interest rates, and arguing that the Communist Party should run China. But it is, when you think about it, a difference of degree. Both propositions come down to mistrust of the electorate.
Voters, being human, can make mistakes. But it doesn’t follow that a class of experts would have made a better decision. Just think about some of the positions that “the experts” have taken down the ages. In the 1920s, they were for returning to gold at the pre-war rate. In the 1930s, they were for appeasement. In the 1940s, they were for nationalisation. In the 1950s they were for state planning. In the 1960s, they were for mixed-ability, child-centred teaching. In the 1970s, they were for price controls. In the 1980s, they were for the ERM. In the 1990s they were for the euro. In our own decade, they were for the bail-outs and stimulus packages.
A random cross-section of the population will almost always have more collective wisdom than a group of self-selected and necessarily self-interested experts.
As you may know The Board of the Party has reconstituted the Candidates Committee and has appointed Baroness Browning and Carlyn Chisholm as Co-Chairmen. We look forward to working with them and the new Committee during the years ahead.
At its first meeting this month the Candidates Committee agreed to invite all those candidates on the old Parliamentary List to apply to be considered for the new Parliamentary List.
As in previous years, the Approved List ceases to exist after Polling Day and everyone who was previously included, and who wishes to apply for seats during the new Parliament, is required to apply for admission to the new List. All applications will be considered on their individual merits and we will take into account your activities during the General Election Campaign and your conduct whilst on the List. Reports from either the Association Chairman/Election Agent, and the Field Staff on your performance, either as a Candidate or someone who helped in the campaign, will form part of the process.
I enclose an application form which I ask you to return as hard copy to me at Conservative Campaign Headquarters, as soon as possible, and by no later than 15th November 2010. After your application has been considered, you will be invited to attend a Panel during the first quarter of 2011. If you are not seeking to join the new List please let us know. If we do not hear from you by 15th November, it will be assumed that you do not wish to be on the List and it will not be possible for you to re-apply later in this Parliament.
If you are attending Conference there may be an opportunity for you to meet us - I know that Carlyn is interested in meeting as many of you as possible. We will be available on Tuesday between 12 noon and 5.00 pm and Wednesday between 10.00 am and 11.30 am. If you would like to take up this offer please email XXXXX by no later than Monday 4th October. If you wish to speak to Carlyn, before Conference, please contact her on her mobile XXXXX.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Head of Candidates"
Why have they made a stipulation that if a candidate does not wish to be on the list now they are barred from applying later in the parliament? After all, this parliament is due to last five years and a lot can happen in five years. It is time the Chairman of the Candidates Committee was elected and therefore accountable to Party members. If they were we would not have to put up with this nonsense
September 19th Points to think about - Foreign Voters
September 12th National Convention Survey - EU Referendum - Trade Union bill - Social Mobility - AV Referendum vote
September 5th Referendum - Electoral Reform Bill - Kicking the B*stards outSeptember 26th
- The highest turnout in the 2010 General Election was lower than the average turnout in the 1992 General Election.
- The two main parties, Labour and Conservative got together 65% of the vote in 2010, lower than at any time since 1922.
- In the late 1950s there were 166 marginal seats i.e. seats where less than a 10% swing would change the seat. Today there are 85.
- The Conservative Party did well in any seat Labour were defending. (so much for the marginal seats campaign)
- Out of the seven seats where the Liberal Democrat MP was retiring 5 of them were lost.
- When Gordon Brown was Prime Minister it was recommended that 17-18 year olds should be put on the Electoral Register whilst they were still at school. Gordon Brown turned down the suggestion. I wonder why?
Foreigners to have a say on voting reform: Commonwealth citizens to take part in referendumBy Daily Mail Reporter
More than half a million Commonwealth citizens in the UK will have a right to vote on whether Britain swaps first-past-the-post elections for an alternate-vote system, data released under freedom of information laws reveals.
Hundreds of thousands of foreigners could help decide the future of Britain's electoral system in next year's referendum on voting reform.
Ministers have confirmed that anyone eligible to vote in Westminster elections can also have their say in next May's vote.
That includes citizens from 53 Commonwealth countries, just 14 of which give Britons any say in their elections.
Voting rights for Commonwealth citizens stem from the days of colonial rule.
Dame Marion Roe, former Tory MP and voting rights campaigner said: 'I believe very strongly that only British citizens should have a vote in any referendum that is proposing to change the democratic infrastructure of the UK.'
Senior Tory backbencher Graham Brady is proposing an amendment to the referendum Bill that would restrict voting rights to Britons.
Mark Harper, Constitutional Affairs Minister, said: 'The Government has no plans to restrict the franchise for referendums.'
It is scandalous that people who have no allegiance to this country should have a say in the way we are governed. It is time this anomaly was abolished, not just for the referendum but for General Elections also.
The older generation appear particularly keen for Britain to leave its EU days behind. A substantial 57% of those over 60 say they would vote to remain in the EU, compared to 31% of the younger 18-24 age group.
This comes as Conservative European MP Daniel Hannan launches a cross-party campaign to demand a referendum on Britain’s EUmembership, the promise of which has made and broken by multiple prime ministers during election campaigns.
- This sum is made up of £18.3 million in direct payments from public sector organisations and an estimated £67.5 million in paid staff time.
- The total is up 14 per cent from 2008-09, when trade unions received £76.1 million from public sector organisations.
- 2,493 full time equivalent public sector employees worked for trade unions at the taxpayers' expense in 2009-10.
Ten Tory MPs vote against AV Referendum Bill
Yesterday the Commons returned much earlier than it did under Labour governments for the beginning of a two week September session. MPs passed the Second Reading of the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill by 347 to 254 votes.
- Brian Binley (Northampton South) 40.84%
- Peter Bone (Wellingborough) 48.23%
- Bill Cash (Stone) 50.58%
- Christopher Chope (Christchurch) 56.44%
- Philip Davies (Shipley) 48.56%
- Philip Hollobone (Kettering) 49.12%
- David Nuttall (Bury North) 40.19%
- Richard Shepherd (Aldridge-Brownhills) 59.31%
- Sir Peter Tapsell (Louth and Horncastle) 49.64%
- Andrew Turner (Isle of Wight). 46.7%
Why I'm seeking to amend the Electoral Reform Bill tomorrowby
Douglas Carswell MP
It seems odd that we are to have a referendum on changing the electoral system, but without allowing voters a real choice between the range of different possibilities.
If the Bill on electoral reform passes the Commons unchanged, millions of people will be allowed a say, using millions of ballot papers, at a cost of £ millions. Yet they'll only being allowed to choose between the First-Past-the-Post (FPTP) system we have now, and the Alternative Vote (AV) system.
Whatever you might think about AV v FPTP, what is not in doubt is that neither of the governing parties – Liberal or Conservative – proposed AV at the last election. On the contrary, they both specifically ruled it out.
The deal on offering us a referendum on AV was cooked up by politicians seeking to cobble together a coalition to gain them power. Hardly new politics. The plebiscite is not being offered to us on the basis of high principle, or as a consequence of careful consideration on what is best to renew our democracy. No wonder the "no" campaign seems to be gaining momentum.
I have drafted a series of amendments to the Bill, which I intend on tabling tomorrow to ensure that any referendum on electoral reform includes a full range of options. The ballot paper would look much like the one below. Not so difficult, is it?
Perhaps you are a staunch First-Past-the-Post traditionalist. Maybe you do want AV. Perhaps you prefer the Irish-style system of multi-member seats. Whatever your own preference, surely we can all agree that it is the people – not politicians – who should be making the decision?
Referendum on the voting system for Parliamentary elections
Vote (X) once for question 1
1. Do you want to change the current “first past the post” system for electing Members of Parliament to the House of Commons?
Then vote (x) once for question 2
2. If there was a change, do you want the United Kingdom to adopt
(a) The “alternative vote” system or
(b) The “single transferable vote” system with three member constituencies?
August 22nd Ashcroft for Party Chairman - TheAlternative Vote - The Referendum, the case for the Alternative Vote
August 15th Transparency - Alternative Vote
August 8th Recall of MPs - Labour Democracy? - Constituency Chairmen
August 1st Northern Ireland Conservatives - End of Constituency Chairmen? - Can't make up their minds - Secretary of State
Ashcroft for Party Chairman.
Bernard Jenkin's arguments about the timing of a referendum on electoral reform are just guerilla tactics in his attempt to squash the whole idea. It is sensible to hold the vote on the same day as other elections to make it convenient for people, and there's no chance people will get mixed up over their vote for a candidate when asked an entirely separate question about the voting system.
Like Conservative MP Douglas Carswell I back a return to multi-member constituencies, but the Alternative Vote is what is on offer and there's no question it is better and fairer than our current system. Under first past the post, the parties are purely focused on the one per cent of the adult population who are the floating voters in marginal constituencies. In
campaigning the Parties are able to avoid issues that concern large sections of the public - a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan and subsidies for measures to combat man-made climate change were barely discussed in the run up to the election. It's foolish to speculate how proportional a result AV will produce because no-one knows how people's voting behaviour will change; certainly voting will be more transparent, and tactical voting and ludicrous situations whereby a candidate can be elected by just 18 per cent of eligible voters will be consigned to the past.
I am not surprised Bernard Jenkins wants to retain First Past The Post. In the General Election he got 23,000 votes out of an electorate of 70,000 and became the MP. Who knows how many UKIP or BNP supporters voted for him knowing that if they voted for their preferred Party their votes would not count. Under the Alternative Vote Jenkins seat would become a marginal like two thirds of the seats in the House of Commons. Then to be elected the politicians really would have to listen to the people.
Zac Goldsmith accuses the Coalition of watering down the promise to 'recall' MPs
"What we’re being offered falls far short of true Recall. Instead of handing the power of Recall down to the voters, the measure will pass it up to MPs on the Standards and Privileges Committee. Its members alone will decide if an MP has behaved badly enough to warrant being ‘recalled’. The terms of reference are to be restricted to ‘serious wrongdoing’. This is emphatically not a true Recall mechanism and nor is it worthy of the name. Ironically, it could actually aggregate even more power at the top by handing this tiny group at Westminster the power to rid Parliament of troublesome MPs." - Zac Goldsmith MP in the Mail on Sunday
And we thought we were getting more democracy!
Instead different values are attached to each vote depending on whether you are an ordinary member, an MP/MEP, or you pay the political levy to your trade union.
For just like in George Orwell’s Animal Farm with the Labour party “all animals are equal except that some animals are more equal than others”.This is because, unlike the other parties, the members are allocated just a third of the electoral college - the same as the 270 MPs and MEPs.
For in terms of electoral power an ordinary Labour member has just one third the impact of a Lib Dem, Tory or other UK party member. And an individual Labour MP’s vote is equivalent to the views of several hundred ordinary party members.
For the trade unionists who’ll get ballots their influence is even further reduced. If a million of them vote then it will take nearly 4,000 of them to equate to one MP.
On top of that MPs also have votes as party members, and as trade unionists - so multi-voting is widespread.
Given the power that MPs have in controlling who is nominated I wonder whether they’ve got far too much influence on the process.The Tory system involves MPs staging a series of ballot to decide which two names shall go forward to the membership ballot and it is this that is sovereign. Lib Dem leaders are elected by the membership alone but the nominations are controlled by MPs and there’s a minimum number that are needed.
Mike Smithson from www.politicalbetting.comBecause labour operate an electoral college for the election of their Party Leader it is possible that the candidate that gets the highest number of individual votes does not become Leader. I wonder what would happen in that case? Calls for democracy?
End of Constituency Chairmen - A Reply to the Daily Mail - see last week
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA),
17 Smith Square
London SW1P 3JR
Dear Secretary of State,
My friend, who is in farming at the moment, recently received a cheque for £3,000 from the Rural Payments Agency for not rearing pigs. I would now like to join the "not rearing pigs" business.
In your opinion, what is the best kind of farm not to rear pigs on, and which is the best breed of pigs not to rear? I want to be sure I approach this endeavour in keeping with all government policies, as dictated by the EU under the Common Agricultural Policy.
I would prefer not to rear bacon pigs, but if this is not the type you want not rearing, I will just as gladly not rear porkers. Are there any advantages in not rearing rare breeds such as Saddlebacks or Gloucester Old Spots, or are there too many people already not rearing these?
As I see it, the hardest part of this programme will be keeping an accurate record of how many pigs I haven't reared. Are there any Government or Local Authority courses on this?
My friend is very satisfied with this business. He has been rearing pigs for forty years or so, and the best he ever made on them was £1,422 in 1968. That is - until this year, when he received a cheque for not rearing any.
If I get £3,000 for not rearing 50 pigs, will I get £6,000 for not rearing 100? I plan to operate on a small scale at first, holding myself down to about 4,000 pigs not raised, which will mean about £240,000 for the first year. As I become more expert in not rearing pigs, I plan to be more ambitious, perhaps increasing to, say, 40,000 pigs not reared in my second year, for which I should expect about £2.4 million from your department. Incidentally, I wonder if I would be eligible to receive tradable carbon credits for all these pigs not producing harmful and polluting methane gases?
Another point: These pigs that I plan not to rear will not eat 2,000 tonnes of cereals. I understand that you also pay farmers for not growing crops. Will I qualify for payments for not growing cereals to not feed the pigs I don't rear? I am also considering the "not milking cows" business, so please send any information you have on that too. Please could you also include the current Defra advice on set aside fields? Can this be done on an e-commerce basis with virtual fields (of which I seem to have several thousand hectares)?
In view of the above you will realise that I will be totally unemployed, and will therefore qualify for unemployment benefits.
I shall of course be voting for your party at the next general election.
July 11th Coalition Government - Government - Copov meeting report
July 4th The Cost of a Conservative Vote - Peers, nice work if you can get it.
- David Cameron could set up a Policy Unit in CCHQ (as I've suggested).
- The 1922 Executive could raise some money, and use its backbench committees as policy development bodies (as Tim has recommended).
- The Party Board could set up its own new policy development process.
- Every Conservative Cabinet member would work with a think-tank made up of Party members.
- Each think-tank would draw up policy proposals to which, in turn, the Cabinet Minister would respond.
- Party members would thus have a say in the Party policy - both before the next election and manifesto.
- Appoint a Chairman and a Rapporteur.
- Consult local CPF Groups to select topics for policy formation.
- Draw up proposals based on those topics, which would be posted on-line for local CPF group feed-back.
- Put these amended proposals to the Minister, who would post his views and comments on-line.
- The plan's a good idea, but the devil's in the detail. It's reasonable for members to be involved in making policy for their own Party, and the proposal's structure is sensible. But it raises a number of questions. For example, who's to select the Chairmen and Rapporteurs? What's to be done with Departments headed by a Liberal Democrat? And if the Party leadership's to take the think-tank recommendations seriously, how are they to be integrated into the process of drawing up the next manifesto?
- The Party leadership's likely to be wary about the plan. Although David Cameron's localist in theory, he's often centralist in practice - at least as far as the Party's concerned. Consider the imposition of shortlists on local parties in Parliamentary selections, or control of the order of party lists for the 2008 European elections, or the vetting of candidates' literature at the last election. The Party leadership's likely to worry, not wholly unreasonably, about controversial proposals being floated on-line, available to Labour and its media allies to distort and exploit.
- However, the plan raises the question: whose Party is it anyway? In Party terms, I'm not an extreme democrat. That's to say, I don't agree with proposals, for example, to elect the Party Chairman - perhaps because I remember what extreme party democracy did for Labour during the 1980s. But I believe that the pendulum's swung too far towards central control. Party members have the right to elect the Party leader, but are otherwise losing power - to open primaries, for example, in candidate selection (about which I was critical on this blog when an MP). There's a bigger, wider question about the future of membership and Associations, which Tim, Jonathan and I will return to in due course. But in relation to the steering group's plan, it's reasonable for members to have a formal say in their own Party's policy.
- The Board and the 1922 Committee need to work together. There are three newly-elected MPs on the Board: Brian Binley, Priti Patel and Charles Walker, all of whom are members of the '22 Executive. They're in a good position to dovetail whatever the Board decides to do in terms of policy formation with whatever the '22 decides to do. Perhaps the two processes should be merged altogether - ConservativeHome readers will have their own ideas. What's certain is that with the Party governing in Coalition, the '22 has a new role to play in policy development.
- Sooner or later, David Cameron will respond positively to the steering group's ideas - if the Board endorses them. I suspect that the leadership's instinct is to keep control of policy development and the manifesto process (for good as well as bad reasons, as I've suggested). But if the CPF and the '22 set up means of developing policy, either together or separately, it will have little choice but to accommodate them. In any event, the Party's policy-making gap must be filled sooner or later. Whether a policy unit's set up in CCHQ or not, there'll have to be some central means of drawing these threads together.
Cameron spent £111 getting every extra Conservative vote
One snippet that interested me was Sam Coates' calculation of the cost of the Tory campaign:
"In [David Cameron's] four years as Leader of the Opposition, from January 2006 to May 6, 2010, a record £122 million went through Tory coffers, by any international political yardstick an extraordinary amount. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign committee in 2008 raised £450 million. That was to fund a campaign that won decisively in a country where campaigns hinge on TV advertising and with an electorate five times the size. In domestic terms this figure is also striking; Labour’s income was £71 million over the same period, although £22 million of this came while Tony Blair was still in office. It also beats sums raised in previous Parliaments; the Tories’ income was £49 million and Labour’s £61 million between 2001 and 2005.
Perhaps more intriguing is the limited impact that this vast spending appeared to have. By Mr Cameron’s own yardstick, set in a Spectator interview shortly before polling day, his own campaign was a failure. The Conservative vote increased by 3.8 percentage points on its 2005 vote; an increase of 2 million votes net, or, taking in account the higher number of votes received by rival parties, 1.1 million more than last time. In other words, every additional vote cost the Tories £111.
What is more, for the shrewd financial investor, the archetype of the modern Tory donor, the way the Conservative Party operated under the stewardship of Andy Coulson, Steve Hilton and ultimately George Osborne as general election co-ordinator, must have seemed horrific. At a national level, half a million pounds was gambled on cinema advertisements that were never shown, £400,000 on a January 2010 “cut the deficit not the NHS” poster campaign later disowned by some senior figures. About half a million was spent on a much–ridiculed “don’t be a tosser” campaign on the national debt and the same sum again on a national newspaper campaign to recruit internet “friends of the Conservatives”, which was never mentioned again by the leadership."
Peers with London property claimed overnight allowance.
June 20th The Sovereignty Act - the War in Afghanistan - House of Commons Standing Orders
June 13th The Alternative Vote - The Payroll vote
June 6th Prime Minister Cameron
How the Lisbon Treaty Was Revised in 15 MinutesEU member states opened and closed an Intergovernmental Council within 15 minutes. The IGC was attended by ambassadors only and all member states agreed to the December 2008 decision to increase the number of MEPs. This was an amendment to a protocol of the Lisbon Treaty, and not to the Treaty itself. However, all member states will have to ratify the decision in their own Parliaments. This should mean a debate in Parliament and as it is transferring power to others (The UK only has one extra MEP out of 18) we should have a referendum as promised by David Cameron. We shall see!
May 16th David Cameron - Party members - The EU is now a religion - Fair Votes Now
May 9th David Cameron - Hackney Council - Oliver Cromwell
May 2nd The Big Society - The Unanswered Questions - 18 MEPs with no powers
The vote showed 168 in favour of the change and 118 against. But, if we subtract the 76 members of the payroll who ought to have been excluded from voting from the ‘yes’ tally (it may be reasonably assumed that almost all of these self-interested 76 did vote ‘yes’), then it will be seen that the vote to change the rules would have been defeated by 118 to 92.
And let us not comfort ourselves that the vote was held fairly. Because it was announced as a party matter, the ballot boxes were manned not by executive officers of the ’22 but by government whips. MPs either had to fill in their ballot slip on the same table upon which the eager-eyed whips were sitting or stand up, turn their back to the whips, and mark their paper in so furtive a fashion as to identify themselves as certain opponents of the measure. At a time when the courts are forcing the Unite union to comply with minute levels of detail in order for its strike ballot for British Airways cabin staff to be declared legal, the Conservative Party high command thinks it can get away from procedures of voter intimidation worthy of Mr Mugable’s Zimbabwe.
.Then every elector could make a proper choice with each vote being of equal import.
(2) Have three member seat constituencies. It would be possible for a constituent to vote three times for the same party, BUT, and this is the vital difference, votes could be split between the parties if a voter was not satisfied. This would keep would be candidates on their toes, and there would be no safe seats for life, unless the electors specifically wished to have this. Thus Euro sceptics or fanatics could get their views represented
(3) It is for us the electors to determine how we are governed, and how we elect our representatives. It is not for Parliament to tell us how we may vote, it for us, THE ORDINARY PEOPLE, to decide how Parliament should be constituted and elected.
Abraham Lincoln said those immortal words “that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth”. Let us prove today the democracy is alive, listening, and in good heart.
- Cameron 36% nationally 19 seats short of a majority of just 1
The EU really is a new religion
You have to read it. You would think otherwise that I am making this up.
(If you have just eaten, or are of a fragile disposition, look away now.)
- Those assembled stood as the flag of the European Union was presented at the Altar.
- An extract from the Schuman Declaration was read from the Pulpit (no, seriously).
- They congregation's amended Act of Penitence read "Let us bring before God our failures and weaknesses... the opposition seculaire which has hindered our unity..."
- The congregation prayed, "Giving thanks for the vision, courage, and example of Robert Schuman, let us pray for the European Union..." and then they prayed for the President of the EU. For the Parliament. For the Commission. For the Council. For the Court of Justice. For the ECHR.
- And then they stood and pledged an "Act of Commitment", beginning "Lord God Our Father, we affirm our commitment to the European Union..."(no, SERIOUSLY).
- And then they remained standing for "The Anthem of the European Union" and the processing out of the EU flag. Poor Beethoven did nothing to deserve this.
Cameron has his work cut out for him, mais non?
Fair votes now!
- guardian.co.uk, Saturday 8 May 2010 19.55 BST
Dressed in purple and holding signs such as "fair votes now" and "votes not moats" around a thousand campaigners gathered in order to "Take back Parliament" for the voters.
As we waited for the event to start, Unlock Democracy's Deputy Director Alexander Runswick told me:
"In the last week of the election there was a lot of scare-mongering about what would happen in a hung parliament and as a result people didn't really feel that they could vote for who they wanted. And I think that's why you see a lot of people here frustrated about the situation we find ourselves in."
Amongst those frustrated with the result was John Strafford, a 67 year old democracy campaigner and long time member of the Conservative Party. Smartly dressed with a peaked cap, and a dab of purple ink on his finger, John told me that the time was finally right for change:
"The current system is totally bankrupt and unfair. You cannot justify a situation where in the last parliament only 22 per cent of the electorate voted for Labour and yet they were still able to form a government with a large majority. We need a system where everybody's vote counts not just those small percentage of floating voters who happen to live within the marginal seats."
Hackney Council tells voters: "There is no Conservative candidate."
Now they have compounded their offence. When puzzled voters rang up to query this omission they were told, quite falsely, that there was no Conservative candidate. Andrew rang up himself anonymously to check and recorded the conversation.
Listen to it via this site.
“The council call centre staff member went to talk to the election office staff to get advice and at the end confirmed that there I am not standing.
“Not happy with banning my election address for mentioning how much the Mayor and Cabinet are paid, the resources of the Council are now being used to peddle mis-truths, telling people that they can’t vote for me.”
Given to the House of Commons
20 April 1653
It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonoured by your
contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice; ye are a factious crew, and
enemies to all good government; ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell
your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money.
Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one vice you do not possess? Ye have
no more religion than my horse; gold is your God; which of you have not barter'd your conscience
for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth?
Ye sordid prostitutes have you not defil'd this sacred place, and turn'd the Lord's temple into a den
of thieves, by your immoral principles and wicked practices? Ye are grown intolerably odious to the
whole nation; you were deputed here by the people to get grievances redress'd, are yourselves gone!
So! Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors. In the name of God, go!
April 18th Labour's Manifesto - Hackney Council
April 11th Lisbon Treaty Change - Too True to be Funny
April 4th Reflections of a Tory Activist
Hackney Council bans Conservative election address
Criticism of other candidates is not permitted in the election addresses. Andrew included the following reference in his draft:
“The Mayor and his cabinet pay themselves £335,000 a year."
“How fair is Hackney’s election going to be if they are denying the right of a candidate to state how much the Mayor and his cabinet are costing taxpayers?“First of all they banned the author Iain Sinclair from Council properties for daring to say something that the Mayor found uncomfortable, now my right to freedom of expression is being taken away by these control freaks.“It seems like it’s a 'future fair for all' – but not if you disagree with them."
MEPs seek change to Lisbon Treaty to accommodate new colleagues
Why, this spring have I forsaken garden and golf course, trudging the streets instead in marginal constituencies, knocking on doors and distributing piles of Conservative literature ? I have not reacted so intensively at previous elections nor do I know, in any great detail, the policies for which I am campaigning. But when I open a newspaper or switch on the Today programme, I understand perfectly what impels me. As Greg Clarke, Shadow Energy Secretary, stated recently, this may prove to be the most important election since the Second World War. This government is second to none in its lack of integrity. Its record, as set out below, demonstrates that a further term for Labour would be catastrophic for the social fabric of Britain as well its economy.
- Britain is a less democratic country than in 1997.
- Labour’s economic mismanagement has raised Britain’s public debt to levels unparalleled since World War Two, with high inflation and/or steep falls in living standards and impoverishment in prospect.
- Labour’s rigid insistence on bureaucracy, targets and centralized control has corrupted professionalism in the main public services – health, education, social services and the police – to the detriment of their ability to meet the needs of the public.
- Labour’s ideological pursuit of social engineering in education, in particular its enforcement of ‘equality’ and ‘dumbing down’ of standards preventing students from attaining skills essential to Britain’s needs.
- Labour’s neglect of the prisons has resulted in the early release of dangerous criminals into the Community, whilst its introduction of many petty or politically correct regulations has resulted in the ‘criminalisation’ of ordinary people for ‘offences’ which did not exist before 1997.
- Labour’s energy policies have been negligent and indecisive, creating a real possibility that the lights will go out around 2017.
- Labour has placed the onus of Britain’s response to climate change on individual households without taking action within government’s own sphere of responsibility or cutting its own favoured polluting projects.
- Britain is becoming the most densely populated country in Europe as a result of Labour’s open door policy on immigration and asylum. This is unsustainable in terms of housing, congestion and strains on public services and will result in breakdowns of community cohesion.
- British foreign policy has been moralistic and belligerent. The armed forces have been denied the equipment needed to fight Labour’s wars, resulting in unnecessary casualties.
In 1997, Labour inherited a sound economy. Their first moves were to impose an exceptional levy on pension funds and to sell a substantial proportion of Britain’s gold reserves.. The result was the virtual disappearance of occupational pensions, creating a perpetual pensions crisis, and a massive loss to the reserves as the gold price quadrupled (from $ 275 dollars per ounce to $ 1100 ) over the ensuing twelve years. During the period up to 2007, years of global economic growth fuelled by Far Eastern industrialisation, Brown, as Chancellor, boasted that boom and bust had been abolished, raised public spending astronomically, and created an economy based on massive public and private debt. The ‘bust’ when it finally occurred was global and responsibility for it cannot be laid solely at the British Government’s door. However, Labour’s reckless spending policies during the good years meant that we were amongst the least prepared countries when the crash came. The government deserves credit for its policy of ‘quantitative easing, which has temporarily shielded the public from the harshest effects of recession, but how long can this policy last? ‘Quantitative easing’ is nothing more than printing money, a policy pursued, inter alia, by Mugabe’s Government in Zimbabwe. Sterling has fallen by 25%. Public debt has risen to almost £800bn this year to over £1.4 trillion in 2014/15. These levels are higher proportionate to GDP than our foreign debt at the end of World War II which we only recently finished repaying. The Chancellor’s response in his latest budget has been to increase public spending still further (by £30bn, to a total of £804bn). Sooner or later, runaway inflation or a massive fall in living standards has to be the result of such irresponsibility.
THE CONSTITUTION & MACHINERY OF GOVERNMENT
Labour’s democratic credentials have also proved to be nonexistent. Our second chamber, the House of Lords, is largely appointed. (Brown’s death-bed conversion to an elected second chamber echoes a similar pledge by Blair in 1997 and can be dismissed as short-term electioneering). Following devolution, the only say English MPs have in Scottish domestic affairs is on tax levels which apply to the whole of the United Kingdom., However Scots MPs continue to vote every week on purely English affairs. Postal voting has been extended in a manner calculated to increase Labour’s vote and which has led directly to election fraud. A new layer of Government in England, the Regional Assemblies which contain no elected members, has been inserted between central and local government with responsibility for producing and executing Regional Plans. Local Councils, already vulnerable to central pressure due to their reliance on central funding for three quarters of their expenditure, are assessed by a politicised Audit Commission on the basis of their fulfilment of government policies, not their constituents’ wishes. In effect, Councils are now little more than the Government’s instruments in its programme of controlling the lives of the public and imposing an ever-tightening strait-jacket through their equality laws. Labour can take credit for granting independence to the Bank of England, the Freedom of Information Act and the institution of an independent statistical service, changes which have not always operated to their political advantage. However, these improvements are counterbalanced by the creation of a bloated bureaucracy throughout Government, including a monstrous array of quangos, accountable to no one but with substantial powers. (These include extensive rights, shared with Council officers, to enter and search private homes).
FOREIGN & DEFENCE POLICY
Labour’s ‘ethical’ foreign policy has consisted largely of preaching to other countries, often to the detriment of our relations and hence our interests. In Europe, they gave away a large proportion of our rebate in return for worthless promises. They also broke a firm pledge to hold a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty on the totally dishonest pretext that the Treaty was purely technical and contained no substantive changes. As for the special relationship with the US, they interpreted this to require a posture of utter servility to whoever happened to occupy the White House at the time. (The current lack of US support for our position on the Falklands demonstrates the futility of this subservience ). This policy led us into the Iraq war, justified by a dishonestly exaggerated threat from Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction which proved to be non-existent . Labour’s lavish spending priorities did not extend to providing adequate equipment for our troops, either in Iraq or Afghanistan), causing continuing and unnecessary loss of life to our armed forces.
‘Education, education and education’, intoned T Blair at the start of his premiership, and education expenditure rose from £38bn in 1998 to £82 bn , totalling £680bn in all. This spending has improved schools infrastructure but achieved little else. For example, it has not resulted in any perceptible reduction in class sizes. The number of teachers rose from 399,200 to 432,800, teaching assistants from 60,600 to 181,600 and other administrative staff from 72,900 to 157,300. Productivity declined (the 2003 workforce agreement saw a reduction in time spent in the classroom by teachers, considerable pay increases and a massive expansion in the number of teaching assistants) as did academic standards. At the primary stage, only 2% of pupils leave at the age of 11 having attained ‘Level 4’ (the level at which they are deemed capable of succeeding at secondary school) in all three key subjects, English, Maths and Science. 25% leave without having attained this level in both English and Maths, At secondary level, 1 in 6 school leavers failed to obtain a single worthwhile qualification in 2008. The past 12 years have been marked by a continuous process of Government inspired ‘dumbing down’ – lowering of pass marks in national school tests (to allow ministers to point to ‘improvement’) easing of A-level standards, fostering subjects of little intellectual ballast, explosion of third-rate universities with high drop-out rates (attributable to Blair’s target of sending 50% of leavers to universities), crude pressure on elite institutions to lower bar for pupils from failing state schools. Classroom disruption through indiscipline remains widespread, not helped by Labour’s requirement that for every pupil expelled, another disruptive pupil has to be admitted. There have also been spiteful attempts to remove independent schools’ charitable status and clear hostility to home education. Many schools have been overwhelmed by Labour’s culture of targets and social engineering, and by a flood of incoherent initiatives (16 between September 09 and January 10). OFSTED, once a guarantor of academic excellence, has become an instrument of oppression across- the-board. According to the Public Accounts Committee, more than 5m people were illiterate and nearly 7m innumerate in 2009.
CHILDREN & FAMILIES
Labour’s strong tendency towards social engineering has been most marked in its policies towards children and parental responsibility for their upbringing. Lessons on ‘social’ subjects, such as ‘relationships’ and sex education are to be introduced. The latter, for which there is to be no parental opt-out, will start at four, with more intensive sexualisation introduced at seven. The removal of children from their parents and their placement for adoption has also become more dictatorial under Labour. Social workers active in this area have always been unaccountable but bullying intrusions into family life on the flimsiest of grounds are on the increase. One of these, of recent origin, is ‘emotional abuse’, a term which apparently means ‘any conduct on the part of a parent of which a social worker may disapprove.’ Where adoption is involved, family ties apparently count for very little with social services, who may give children to strangers before grandparents’ claims are even considered. Jack Straw has made a laudable attempt to open up adoption hearings in the family courts to greater public scrutiny but the outcome has been feeble. On the other side of the coin, social services often seem to miss appalling cases of child abuse where physical evidence and witness testimony is available. Here, however, some justification for their errors exists. There is a confusing nexus of Agencies involved in such cases, and lines of responsibility are often blurred. According to their Association, social workers spend 80% of their time on paperwork to satisfy government requirements. The responsible minister, Ed Balls, however, refuses to cut bureaucracy and targets.
THE HEALTH SERVICE
The NHS received increased funding (£70 bn in 2007) comparable to that for education. At the same time it was subjected to a regime of targets, notably on waiting times. These have improved, but at a dire cost to the humanitarian ethic of the service and to patient care. Recently revealed reports by independent consultants, delivered in 2008 but suppressed by the Government, claim that the new GP and consultant contracts have simultaneously enriched and demoralised doctors, causing loss of volition work and encouraging them to work to rule. Managers fear the consequences of not meeting expectations from above far more than failure to meet the needs of patients and families. The result has been widespread patient neglect, particularly at Basildon, S Staffs and Maidstone hospitals where hundreds of deaths resulted from non-observance of basic hygiene standards. Wasteful re-structuring, pointless new structures and chaotic lines of responsibility were also identified. The quality and integrity of NHS performance data was considered suspect. Administration costs rose from 7% to 18% of the NHS budget.
As for Labour’s pledge to introduce free care for the elderly, this is an irresponsible election con trick. It is unaffordable for the foreseeable future, thanks to the economic shambles which Labour tries hard to conceal.
RIGHTS & CRIMINALITYOne of Labour’s most vaunted ‘achievements’ is the Human Rights Act. This Act has generated a whole industry of lawyers, quangos and activists who have successfully persuaded the courts not to deport terrorist suspects, or to intern them, or to keep them under house arrests or to freeze their assets. The resultant increased burden on the security services increases the risk of new terrorist atrocities and may indeed have contributed to their failure to anticipate the 2005 London bombings. Jack Straw himself once complained that the Act was perceived as a Charter for criminals, terrorists and illegal immigrants. We have found no case in which any ordinary citizen going about his lawful business has benefited from the Act’s existence; and the ‘perception’ mentioned by Straw therefore, seems 100% accurate. Labour has also neglected to expand prison capacity despite the rise in population and over-crowded urban conditions which generate crime. The resultant prison over-crowding and the effects of the Human Rights Act have induced the authorities to release dangerous criminals well before the end of their sentences, with predictable results. Between 2007 and 2009, criminals on probation committed 121 murders, 44 manslaughters, 103 rapes and 80 kidnappings. Meanwhile, police efficiency has been inhibited by the imposition of stultifying bureaucratic procedures and a system of targets which, in the words of one Chief Constable, "get in the way of officers doing their jobs and tackling issues that mattered to local people." Labour have tended to answer such charges by producing figures allegedly showing falls in crime. However, their past misuse of official statistics in this and other fields, means that little or no credibility can be attached to such statements.
ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT
Labour’s energy policy in the face of climate change has veered between dithering inaction and eccentricity. Faced with the growing possibility of the lights going out in 2017, Labour has delayed the decision to replace our ageing nuclear power stations (which will not now be ready in time) and failed to press for new coal-fired stations despite the existence of ‘clean coal’ technology. They have placed their faith in a vast programme of windmill-building whose cost effectiveness is entirely uncertain. However, having trumpeted the opportunities for British business from new, green technologies, they stood by whilst Britain’s only windmill factory was closed by its foreign owner and the skilled labour force dispersed. All machinery for the programme will therefore be imported. On the environment front, Labour has indulged in much international grandstanding over climate change. Domestically, however, it has done very little apart from degrading our refuse collection service to a level far below that of our continental neighbours and imposing bureaucratic and expensive procedures on house sales. Decisions which it has taken or envisages such as the third Heathrow runway and further rural building, including on the Green Belt, will actually increase the UK’s carbon footprint. (The Heathrow runway is estimated, by some ecologists, to increase UK emissions by as much as the total produced by Kenya !). Labour’s "green’ credentials merit no credibility, either at home or abroad.
Immigration into the UK has continued virtually unchecked throughout Labour’s period of office. As a result England is now said to be the most densely populated country in Europe, with a population forecast to rise to 70 million in the relatively near future. As a result, the Government is now proposing to cover large areas of the rural South East and East Anglia with huge housing estates, against the wishes of their inhabitants. This policy has been justified primarily by the (dubious) economic benefits deriving from immigrant labour. However, a former No 10 aide has revealed that T Blair’s policy staff also covertly promoted immigration as a means of increasing ‘diversity’ and extending multiculturalism. It is strange indeed that an administration which disliked the British character and culture to the point of trying to destroy them should have won three successive elections !
There are numerous other instances symptomatic of the dysfunctional society in which we live. If you resist a violent intruder who has broken into your own home, you are likely to be prosecuted unless you have first calculated what constitutes disproportionate force. (By the time you have done this, of course, you may well have been murdered). If you have handicapped children and are tormented by local thugs, the police will not respond to your complaints unless you finally decide to commit suicide; even then, their main reaction will be to place a police guard on your tormentors in case outraged vigilantes try to avenge you. If you confront them in the street instead, do not prod a thug in the chest, even if you are an old lady with a zimmer; you will be prosecuted for assault and obtain a criminal record. If a thug calls you an ‘effing German cow’, that’s OK, but if you tell your Scottish neighbour to go back to Scotland once too often, you will be sent to jail. Don’t complain to your local authority about a planned march in your town; you may be accused of committing a ‘hate crime’. If you fall into a pond or down a disused mineshaft, don’t expect the emergency services to rescue you; Health and Safety forbid it and your rescuers will be disciplined if they try. Remember, if you wish to have even fleeting contact with schoolchildren, the Government regards you as a paedophile unless proved otherwise – at a cost to you of £65. If you are a teenage hooligan and are bitten by a police dog, rejoice – you may receive £42,000 compensation. All these are genuine cases and there are many more that could be cited. Ministers appear largely impervious to the nonsensical and unjust consequences of the culture of government which they themselves have created.
March 21st The Alternative Vote - Vote Tory for higher electricity bills - Union Modernisation Fund - Selection of Parliamentary candidates - Ten Years ago
March 14th European Union Latest - Party Democracy - Trade Unions - House of Lords
March 7th Was Cameron's Speech Good Enough? - Labour and the Unions
Openness. ‘I am determined to ensure that there is public confidence in the funding of at least one of Britain’s major political parties. Therefore, following my speech on party reform in July, the Conservative Party will disclose all donations it receives over £5,000 and will no longer accept foreign money.’
The aim of openness quite simply hasn’t been achieved. Previously you could collect a copy of the Party accounts at the Annual Conference, but now the powers that be are slow at publishing the Balance Sheet and Accounts. Discussion of the accounts at the March 1999 National Convention didn’t take place because they were not distributed to Constituency Chairmen. The reason put forward for this was that the cost of printing was said to be prohibitively high at £10,000. Why did
they not put them on the Internet? At least this year the accounts have been put on the internal "Extranet".
The scrapping of the Conservative Board of Finance in March 1999 removed the only body where elected volunteers had any say, however minimal, in the Party’s finances. It was replaced by Regional ‘Income Generation and Marketing Boards’ which report to the ‘National Board of Income Generation and Marketing, which in turn reports to the Board of Treasurers, of whom all are appointed by the Party Leader.
Take the matter of quota payments. A report showing the Quota position for each Constituency would have made more sense if it had provided totals by region as well as nationally. It would be more meaningful if a distinction was made between cash payments and Quota credits (credits for interest free loans). This might then raise the question why, as we are "One Party" many Constituencies are sitting on substantial funds when the Party is desperate for funds. The interest free loan scheme was started in 1980 by the Beaconsfield Association as a way in which Constituencies with temporary surplus funds could use them for the Party's benefit. Many of these Surplus funds now appear to be permanent! Could it be that until there is democratic accountability for the use of funds given to Central Office money will remain in the Constituencies?
External measures will force change upon the Party in how it organises its financial affairs. The Labour Government’s proposals for legislation on "The Funding of Political Parties in the United Kingdom" requires a registered party to have a registered Treasurer. The registered Treasurer of a party will be responsible not just for the reporting of disclosable donations, but also the keeping of the party's accounts and compliance with the requirements on election expenditure. The registered Treasurer will be under a duty to ensure that proper accounting records are kept in respect of the whole party (clause 36) and will be required to prepare an annual statement of accounts in respect of the party (clause 37). There are detailed requirements on the disclosure of donations and on the control of election expenditure, not only at National level but also at constituency level. A report on donations has to be made quarterly and in a General Election campaign, weekly.
What are the ramifications of all this for the Conservative Party? First of all it is quite clear that the responsibilities of the Treasurer are now quite onerous and the Treasurer is accountable to the Electoral Commission. What is missing is democratic accountability. The Treasurer should be an elected position. Fund-raisers will have to report to the Treasurer. Secondly the Regional structure of the Party will have to be re-examined. There should be Elected Regional Treasurers. Thirdly every Constituency Association should have an elected Treasurer.
Why doesn’t the Party introduce the recommendations of the Neil Report before the others? Thus beginning the process of restoring public faith in the probity of Conservative Party finances.
Union Modernisation Fund
by Iain Dale
In any other sector this would be known as laundering. Oh no, UNITE, will no doubt bleat. There is no link between the two things. Of course not. Never let it be said. What do they think we are? Idiots?
This is why trade unions give money to Labour. They expect something in return, and the Union Modernisation Fund is one of those things.
If trade unions wish to "modernise", why is it that they don't just do it, and pay for it themselves without fleecing the taxpayer?
Everyone in politics knows the UMF is a vile little quid pro quo - you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours - between Labour and the Unions. I have no doubt that if the UMF had not existed, UNITE's donations to Labour would have been £4.5 million lighter.
This scandalous fund should be abolished within months of the Conservatives coming to office.
I understand that DfID also gives shedloads of money to the Unions. I wonder if other departments do too.
The Conserfative Spring Forum
William Hague promised in "The Fresh Future" that the Conserfative Party would involve members more. They would be able to participate and would be listened to on policy. There was to be a Spring Forum at which every member of the Party would be invited. What is the reality?
The Conserfative Spring Forum starts at 2.30pm on Saturday 1st April and closes at !PM on Sunday 2nd April.
The Forum will be in session for 6.5 hours. Of this time ordinary Party members will be able to speak for a total of approximately 2 hours. Each contribution from the floor will not last more than 1 minute. There is not a single motion for debate, so there will be no votes. Thus democracy in the Conserfative Party is destroyed. No involvement, no participation, no say, no vote. Who are responsible for this? - The Committee on Conferences, the members of which are all appointed. They are not accountable to the membership so they safely ignore them. This is not the way for the Party to attract new members. Will we ever learn?
"The BNP are likely to commit unlawful acts of discrimination within section 1b Race Relations Act 1976 in the terms on which they are prepared to admit persons to membership ..," he said.
He issued an injunction ordering the BNP to comply with race equality laws.
"The membership list will have to be closed until then," he told the hearing at Central London County Court.
Under the injunction, prospective BNP members will not in future have to be vetted at home before they are accepted.
(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan; Editing by Steve Addison)
Trevor Kavanagh in The Sun shares some interesting statistics:
- 59 Labour candidates are members of Unite*, whilst there are eight further PPCs who are current or former Unite staff. Unite has given Labour £11 million in the last three years;
- 26 candidates belong to the GMB, which has given £6.3 million to Labour since 2005;
- 18 candidates belong to Unison, which has contributed £8.3 million to Labour coffers.
Voters should not be allowed to forget this.
morning, getting myself ready for another day of retirement having been
a teacher all my adult life. When your little interview came along, my
spirits were lifted by listening to a politician who was not afraid to
say clearly what, I am sure, most people in the UK feel.
Your points on Afghanistan,Lisbon,Immigration,Bankers,Climate Change
and most importantly Grammar Schools (I was NOT a grammar school
teacher) were so correct.
I expect Cameron and co. are simply afraid to say these things. My
friends and I all believe that Political Correctness has gone too far
and that the "Court of Human Rights" serves only to skew justice
Well said sir and I wish you every success. If only this country had
more of you. I write from the betrayed country of N. Ireland.
You were absolutely brilliant on radio two today. We agree wholeheartedly with everything you said and so do many Conservative supporters. Keep up the good work and lets get out of the EU.
To paraphrase Yeats, since Heseltine and his ilk cannot hold the centre... things fall apart. So you're right when you forecast that worse is yet to come. The $64,000 question is if there's a national government who's in the driving seat?
Labour and the Unions
This from Ian Kirby, the News of the World's Political Editor:
"A highly confidential operation being run by Britain’s biggest trade union, Unite, is far bigger than the Tories’ own £3m marginal seats campaign. The union is using it’s own massive datatbase of members in a bid to persuade dithering former Labour voters they must get out and vote during the General Election. The swing voters are being called by activists working for the Union...
...The operation is being masterminded by Charlie Whelan, Unite’s Political Director and a close friend of Prime Minister Gordon Brown...
...at the moment Labour have about £8m to spend at the election, half of the Tories’ own General Election Budget. But Unite are likely to spend up to £5m on their own campaign before the General Election starts. The trade unions have sent a staggering £88.5million to the Labour Party HQ in the last eight years. This amounts to 63 per cent of all funding the Labour Party has received since official records of donations began in 2001. They are also providing teams of drivers across the country to transport the elderly to polling stations, they are organizing postal votes, and sending 200 campaign officials to the marginal seats....
...To reinforce the direct calls, letters and leaflets, the Labour Party is also planning poster campaigns that will highlight claims about cuts under a Tory Government. For the past six months, Labour MPs have bombarded government departments such as the Home Office, Department for Children, Schools and Families and the Department of Health. They have been asking about the effect of budget cuts on their constituencies. Those answers will be used on posters which will claim the Tories will cut hundreds of front line police jobs, thousands of nurses and teachers. Labour strategists believe the campaign will be particularly effective in the North West, where a far higher proportion of potential labour voters are in public sector jobs."
February 21st "The Observer" - Spring Forum - COPOV Petition - 10 Reasons to vote Conservative - Who is the odd man out? - Little Johnny
February 14th The Cost of Politics - Missing Deadlines - Internal Elections - Eric Pickles - N.I. Conservatives - Michael Crick - Cranmer's Creed
February 7th The Alternative Vote - President Eisenhower - Northern Ireland, latest
Read this article in "The Observer" February 14th
This week we got the Agenda for the Spring Forum. What can we look forward to? David Cameron and who else? Don't know, no other speakers are mentioned. Maybe they are having joint sessions? Er no, no subjects are mentioned either. So now we know the whole show is a media presentation. Sad, how a once great Party has been diminished and its members ignored, but then we now know from the Memo that Michael Gove did six years ago that this has been the intention all along. So welcome to the ultimate insult, it might be the last one.
Opendemocracy gives support to the COPOV petition:
Ten reasons to vote Conservative
Listen to BBC Radio 5 live, 2.5 hours in after 8.300am
WHO IS THE ODD MAN OUT - and more importantly - WHY??
Lord Stevenson: former chairman, HBOS
Sir Fred Goodwin: former chief executive, RBS
Andy Hornby: former chief executive, HBOS
Sir Tom McKillop: former chairman, RBS
John McFall MP: chairman of Treasury Select Committee
Alastair Darling: Chancellor of the Exchequer
Gordon Brown: Prime Minister and former Chancellor
Sir Terry Wogan: ex-presenter of Radio 2's Breakfast Show
You're probably thinking Terry Wogan.
However, the reason may surprise you...........
Terry Wogan is the only one who actually holds any formal banking qualification.
Worrying, isn't it!
The Cost of Politics!
MEPs to cost taxpayers an extra €13.3 million a year. The European Parliament's Budget Committee has now approved plans to hire 150 extra staff and boost MEPs' monthly allowances for assistants by €1,500. MEPs already had a generous budget of £360,000 a year in pay and allowances however the extra allowances will cost taxpayers a further €13.3 million a year, sending the European Parliament's total annual budget past the €1.6 billion mark. (Open Europe blog, 29 January;European Voice, 11 February)
Missing Deadlines - Friday, February 12. 2010
Watch Eric Pickles explain why Labour want to change how you vote
In the video Eric Pickles attacks the Alternative vote. He says that in the last General Election the Conservatives got 8,115,000 votes to Labour's 8,050,400. Actually these are the votes in England only. What he doesn't say is that in England under First Past The Post Labour ended up with 286 seats and the Conservatives 194, so does he think that is fair? The total votes in the General Election were Labour 9,562,122 votes, Conservatives 8,772,598 votes. Can't we get anything right?
Northern Ireland Conservatives - The Beginning
Michael Crick's blog 9th February
Conservative MPs today, Tuesday, will stick by the "first past the post" system for Parliamentary elections, as the Commons votes on the government's plans to hold a referendum on whether to introduce the Alternative Vote (AV), in which voters state their preferences - 1,2,3 etc.
But John Strafford, of the Campaign for Conservative Democracy, points out that the Tories actually use a similar preferential voting system, a variation on AV, for all their candidate selections and elections of party leaders.
Mischievously, I looked up the voting figures for the Conservative leadership election last time round, in 2005.
Lo and behold, the votes from MPs in the first round were:
David Davis - 62
David Cameron - 56
Liam Fox - 42
Ken Clarke - 38
It was only in subsequent ballots, after the weaker candidates, Mr Clarke and Mr Fox, were eliminated, and David Cameron picked up many of their supporters' second or third preferences, that he won through.
If the Conservatives had used "first past the post" in 2005, then David Davis would have won.
Cranmer’s Conservative Creed
Preserver of all that is good in our Constitution,
And of Individual Freedom, Limited Government, National Defence and the Rule of Law:
And in one Party Leader, the only-begotten of the entire Membership,
Chosen democratically by the whole Party,
Centre-Forward, Darling of Conference,
Pre-eminent Parliamentarian of Parliament,
Elected, not appointed,
Being of one philosophy with the Party,
By whom Conservatism is articulated and maintained;
Who for us Members, and for our earthly salvation came down from CCHQ,
And was invited by Her Majesty to form a Government,
And was made Prime Minister,
And was vilified also for us under the BBC.
He was airbrushed and scorned,
And day after day he shrugs it off because that’s his job,
And steps up to the Dispatch Box,
And sitteth on the right hand of the Speaker.
And he shall come again with a larger majority to annihilate the Socialists and the Liberals:
And his Government shall have no end.
And I believe in the Voluntary Party,
The giver of life to the Parliamentary Party,
Which precedeth the Party and the Leader,
Which with the Party and the Leader together should be acknowledged and appreciated,
Because they do all the donkey work.
And I believe in one Conservatism, though it be severally termed 'One-Nation', 'Compassionate' and 'Progressive'.
I acknowledge one Membership for the right to select candidates.
And I look for victory at the General Election,
And for the realisation of the policies to come.
The Alternative Vote
This week David Cameron will be making a speech about fixing our broken politics. His approach in favour of implementing Tony Wright's proposals is to be commended, but why oh why was he so scathing about the proposal of Gordon Brown for a referendum on the Alternative Vote. If Cameron really believes in democracy he must accept the sovereignty of the people. It is up to the people how they wish to be governed. Why therefore deny them the opportunity to decide in a referendum how they wish to elect the House of Commons?
There are some strong arguments in favour of the Alternative Vote. It is fairer to start with.
It means that an MP has to get over 50% of the votes in a constituency to be elected. Under First Past The Post very few MPs get over 50%. The MP for Poplar and Canning Town was elected by only 18% of the electorate voting for him. Is that fair?
It would mean that the political parties would have to appeal to all the voters. At the moment under First Past The Post they only appeal to 1%of voters, that 1% being those electors in 10% of the seats which are marginal and within those seats the 10% who are floating voters. Which is best?
Finally if preferential voting is so bad why do the Tory Party use it in the voting for the Leadership election and why do they use it in the selection of parliamentary candidates? If David Cameron so dislikes preferential voting will he scrap the results of all those votes taken in the Tory Party under this system and start again? I think not. Perhaps in that case he might explain why preferential voting is good for the Tory Party but bad for the electorate. I think we should be told.
In President Eisenhower's last speech as President he warned of the dangers of the "military-industrial complex taking a stranglehold over public policy and funding". He also referred to the ever rising cost of research pointing out how a steadily increasing share of it was conducted for, by, or at the direction of the federal government. The power of money he warned is gravely to be regarded. As Christopher Booker says in his "The Real Global Warming Disaster" - "Little could Eisenhower have imagined how, 30 years later, the power of the federal government would be used to persuade thousands of his country's academics that their prime duty should not be to establish scientific truth but essentially to come up with findings which supported one particular, officially prescribed theory". That of man made climate change.
Northern Ireland - Latest
We still have not got any candidates selected in Northern Ireland. If we do badly, we will know who to blame. It is a disgrace. For further comment see below:
January 24th What is going on in Northern Ireland? - From The Guardian - Man Made Climate Change
January 17th Party Democracy - Man made Climate Change - European Union President - Stop and Search
January 10th The Class War - Mein Kampf - Control of the Land
January 3rd 2010 Power to the People - Referendums
Three Questions on Climate Change
1) Carbon Dioxide levels have increased since 1998 by 5%, while temperatures have cooled. If so how can human CO2 emissions be blamed for causing dangerous warming?
2) The rate of warming between 1979 and 1998 was not unusual in the light of previous warmings in the World's history, so why was CO2 perceived to have been just the cause of this latest warming and why was warming seen to be such a problem if the planet has survived similar episodes in the past?
3) The IPCC's computer models predicted continuous warming between 1990 and 2008. In reality, temperatures have shown eight years of warming followed by nine years of cooling. Why then, was it suitable that long term climate projections by the same models should be used for public policy making?
Northern Ireland Update
The Joint Force of the Conservatives and Ulster Unionists is descending into farce. We now know that Reg Empey met with Peter Robinson of the DUP and the Orange Order in December. The Conservative Party cannot afford to get involved with sectarianism in Northern Ireland. It is time to do its own thing. We still have not got any candidates in place to fight the General Election. Why is the Ulster Unionist Party delaying matters?
Listen to John Strafford's interview with BBC Radio Ulster by clicking on the link below. The interview is 36 minutes in and the Ulster Unionist response from Mark Cosgrove is after 1hour 19 minutes.
Michael Mancini was given a £60 fixed penalty notice after a policeman decided he was "not in control of his vehicle" when he wiped his nose with a tissue. Mancini maintains that he was in stationary traffic and had put his handbrake on. He refused to pay the fine, and will now face a trial later this year.
This isn't a one-off, by any means (indeed, the policeman who gave Mancini his ticket was PC Stuart Gray – who recently issued a £50 fixed penalty to a man who accidentally dropped a £10 note in the street). It's symptomatic of life in this country today, which is fast becoming so illiberal that it's almost as if normal life is unlawful. From councils conducting covert surveillance of residents to check their catchment area to bureaucrats fining families for the contents of their bins, this culture of overbearing bossiness is changing our national life, with a "chilling effect" on social interaction – it's destroying traditional, harmless activities, and driving down outgoing natures, volunteerism, clubbable spirit – things we ought to cherish.
You may remember that in November, a young woman in Sandwell named Vanessa Kelly was stopped by a warden and given a £75 fixed penalty notice for throwing bread to the ducks in her local park. The fine was for "littering".
She refused to pay, she told her local press. Big Brother Watch leant a hand lining up media appearances, and – like most bullies when confronted – the council backed down. Not because they admitted they were in the wrong –but because they didn't want the fight.
I draw from this a lesson that you probably appreciate already – media criticism is all our masters care about. Well, I accept their terms. Using those tools, we can and must turn that fear around – so that in a few years' time, when the jobsworth is on the verge of handing out that illiberal fine, he feels the chilling effect himself.
Donning the uniform of office doesn't – or shouldn't – entail unlimited power to exact petty bureaucracy. It ought to come with discretion, with common sense. Failing that, let's try to bully them back.
By Alex Deane, Director of Big Brother Watch
Reproduced from today's Independent
What is going on in Northern Ireland?
"The Conservatives and the leaderships of the Ulster Unionists and the Democratic Unionist Party held secret talks in England last weekend, aimed at realising Unionist unity and getting maximum Unionist support for a future Conservative government, should there be a hung parliament. Owen Paterson held private talks with a number of senior Unionist politicians in England.
The Conservatives have an electoral pact with the Ulster Unionists, but the involvement of the Democratic Unionists comes as a surprise. They were represented at the talks by no less than Peter Robinson, Nigel Dodds and Sammy Wilson.
And it gets worse. Three new Tory candidates (for South and East Belfast and Lagan Valley) were reported on the BBC as ‘standing down’. With the exception of Ballymena councillor Deirdre Nelson, all were relative newcomers to politics… two were women and two were Catholic. They won’t be the only unhappy people if Cameron’s promise that he would run candidates in all 18 constituencies proves not to have been worth the paper it was written on… unless of course the DUP is planning a merger before May.
It looks as if Sir Reg Empey (Leader of the Ulster Unionists) is prepared to sacrifice two prominent Catholics on the altar of getting a clear run from the DUP in contesting two seats. The Conservative spokesman makes it worse. Confirming that the Conservatives and Unionists will stand in all 18 constituencies can only mean that under the circumstances, Sir Reg Empey and Owen Patterson knew the Conservative Catholics would pull out in disgust at talk of an understanding with the DUP, to be replaced by Protestant Unionists. The de facto ousting of two Catholics from the Unionist mix is a disaster and leaves the party open to a hugely damaging charge of naked sectarianism."
The above has been taken from Slugger O'Toole's web site. The facts are clear:
Three Conservative candidates resigned on Friday. We were promised that the candidates for the joint Ulster Unionists and Conservative would be in place by the end of November, then it became by Christmas. Still no candidates have been put into place and still no date has been given when it will happen. The General Election is looming but we have no candidates in place in Northern Ireland. This is a complete and utter disaster. The Ulster Unionists are running rings around Owen Patterson. Why is this being done?
If the three parties are united, the Conservatives get support in a hung Parliament. The Ulster Unionists get three parliamentary seats at least. The Democratic Unionists get support for the devolution of policing and justice at Stormont. At the moment the DUP are hopelessly split on this. The only problem is that this manipulating will put Northern Irish politics back by 50 years. Ironically, the talks were held at Lord Salisbury's home at Hatfield House. Remember Lord Salisbury! He was the one who did the deal behind William Hague's back with Tony Blair about the hereditary peerages.
Does David Cameron know what is going on? He is in danger of destroying Conservative Party membership. He is out of touch with the ordinary members on man made climate change, on a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, on the selection of parliamentary candidates with the discredited "A" list and all women short lists. Perhaps he needs some new advisors! He should not take victory in a General Election for granted. He will need the members more than ever.
From "The Guardian!"
The European Commission handed out huge cash sums to Climate Action Network, Friends of the Earth and the World Wildlife Fund. In one case, British and other European taxpayers paid out more than £700,000 to Friends of the Earth Europe – more than half the pressure group’s 2009 budget.
The payouts came to light after questions by UKIP Euro MP Godfrey Bloom. He said the cash was perpetuating unfounded claims about global warming.”
MEPs are supposed to scrutinise the commissioners
Pam Giddy of Power2010 wrote:
Thanks to your participation, we had 4,500 idea submissions for the POWER2010 Pledge - far more than we hoped for, and a sure sign that we are ready for change.
This past weekend people from all over the UK met and discussed your ideas. They deliberated and selected the ones they thought Britain needed most.
Now we need you to choose which ideas are taken forward - and will change politics. For good. I am delighted to inform you that the COPOV proposal for democratic political parties was chosen as one of the proposals people thought Britain needed most. Please use the link below to vote in favour of our proposal.
Man made Climate Change?
Janet Daley wrote in the Telegraph
"ConservativeHome has conducted a poll of Tory party members which shows that 76 per cent of them believe that the price of energy will be a bigger political issue by 2015 than climate change. I have only one reservation about this finding: we don’t need to wait until 2015.
Even before Britain was buried under a small mountain of snow, the tide was turning (forgive the pun) on global warming. Now that the population is digging itself out from under the avalanche while being forced to consume hugely expensive amounts of heating fuel, the climate change lobby and its portfolio of punitive green taxes are more likely to evoke fury than ridicule.
So where does this leave the Cameron flagship modernisation policy – the issue that was, more than any other, supposed to symbolise the party’s new cool (sorry, the puns will keep coming) image? There is no pretending that this will be easy: there will simply have to be tactical, almost imperceptible playing-down of one position accompanied by a gradual escalation of the other (excessive energy costs). However it is done, it had better start soon. Voters are in no mood, after the Great Freeze, for quixotic obsessions which seem irrelevant to their actual problems."
So where does this leave Conservative policy? Under a pile of steaming manure!
European Union President
EU President will cost taxpayers over £20m a year. The EU's new full-time President Herman Van Rompuy is due to cost taxpayers nearly £300 million. The total annual cost to EU taxpayers for Mr. Van Rompuy will be £22.5 million, including £2.1 million for security, £2.3 million for equipment, £6.2 million for summits and £5.2 million for 22 staff. In addition, the EU is spending another £252 million building a new facility to house the President's office. His salary is £273,814 a year - meaning he will earn more than US President Barack Obama, who earns £250,000. (News of the World, 4 January)
Stop and search
The Class War
This is frightening. Harriet Harman is the most pernicious Minister in the most pernicious Government for over a century. What is happening to our country?
- Harman’s class war law: The Equality Bill, currently before Parliament, will impose a new legal duty on public authorities to ‘tackle socio-economic disadvantage’ when making decisions on "spending and service delivery". The Government has justified the change on the grounds that "social class still holds a powerful grip over people’s lives". Polly Toynbee has praised how the duty will "permeate every aspect of government policy." Cabinet Ministers have described the new Clause 1 of the Equality Bill as "socialism in one clause". Local government expert Professor Tony Travers has warned: "the Harman doctrine would have significant impacts... resources could be redistributed between and within councils... some people might have to lose services." Fire authorities are funded by a levy on council tax – so middle income homes already pay more for their fire cover.
- Fire service to be distorted by Harman’s law: In answers to Parliamentary Questions, Ministers have admitted that new duty will also apply to the targeting of fire resources. Fire authorities in shire areas with county councils will automatically be bound by the new duty. Ministers are now actively planning to extend it to all fire authorities - after lobbying by Liberal Democrats who want fire cover to be redrawn to reflect 'social inequality'. The changes can be made by Ministers without recourse to primary legislation in Parliament.
- Fewer fire stations and engines for middle England – and the Queen: Following laws passed by John Prescott, Labour have already rigged fire cover rules leading to fire station closures in rural and middle England and he made it easier to close fire stations as part of Labours "modernisation" process. When drawing up their fire cover arrangements, fire chiefs must also now undertake 'equality impact assessments'. Whitehall instructions call for priority to be based on "socio-economic and geo-demographic data" which can justify "reducing fire cover locally". Fire resources to be focused on "private renters", "local authority and housing association" properties, "single parent families" and "drug abusers". As an example of the effect of the fiddled guidance, the Queen’s local fire station at Windsor is now being closed at night – despite the devastating 1992 Windsor Castle fire. Harriet Harman’s Equality Bill will compound this trend when fire plans are next updated.
3rd January 2010
Power to the People
Check out the following:
Who will speak for England?
Whenever referendums are proposed as a means of empowering the people, opposition often quote the mess which California have got themselves into as a result of the referendums which they have held.
California provides stark lessons in how direct democracy can be abused. For instance there are no proper limits on pre-election expenditure which means that referendums in California, cost millions of dollars and are beyond the reach of the people the system was designed to serve. As a result, referendums have become just another avenue for vested interest groups. Indeed a specialised industry has grown up around the process, with companies providing expensive services such as signature gathering and campaigning. The situation is compounded in California by laws requiring two thirds of both houses of the legislature to approve budgets and tax increases. The effect of this is that minority parties have veto power at budget time, and there is often a stalemate. Direct Democracy is hugely popular in California, but there is general recognition that the system needs reform. - Zac Goldsmith "The Constant Economy".