Tag Archive | "david cameron"

Does Cameron understand his “patriotic duty”?

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Does Cameron understand his “patriotic duty”?


With the results of the latest polls ringing in his ears, has David Cameron finally realised that he cannot rely on Labour losing the next election, instead, he and his party must win it? The electorate are not going to give the Conservatives an easy ride simply because they are fed up with the failures, broken promises and incompetence of the current Government.

It is no use Cameron telling us that New Labour has failed…we can see that. Instead he must tell us what his party is going to do to resolve the problems we face and he must do it in such a way as to convince the electorate that he is sincere, and above all that his party has the knowledge, skills and experience to deliver on his promises. The polls would suggest that so far, he has failed to communicate that message. I have previously written on this subject, when I suggested nearly a year ago, that Cameron wasn’t trying to win an election, instead he was waiting for the Labour Party to lose it. That is a very high risk strategy and I believe he is only now starting to realise the affects of that miscalculation. This does call his judgement into question.

David Cameron likes to tell us that his party has diversity at its core with more women and ethnic minorities standing for election. Perhaps so, but what the electorate wants and what this country needs is experience, not window dressing. Granted, some of these candidates may have the knowledge and skills to make a real contribution, but that has nothing to do with their race or gender, so why does Cameron feel the need to concentrate on these factors? Is he hiding something from us?

When New Labour came to power, the public were ready for a change, New Labour offered fresh faces with new ideas…it was a slick marketing campaign. However, we have all paid the price for buying the polish and not the goods…yet Cameron appears to be trying to do the same thing all over again. I believe that is a mistake…and it may lead to another term in office for Labour or a hung parliament and few of us really want another 5 years of Gordon Brown.

David Cameron thinks it is his patriotic duty to win the next election. No…it is his patriotic duty to offer an alternative to what we have endured for the past 13 years….it is his patriotic duty to outline in detail what he will do to reverse or address the mistakes of our present Government…it is his patriotic duty to ensure that he has the skills within his party and frontline to be able to deliver on the promises he is making…it is his patriotic duty to ensure that our money is being spent wisely before he introduces higher taxes on a struggling taxpayer…it is his patriotic duty highlight the strengths of his party, rather than focusing just on the weaknesses of the incumbent…it is his patriotic duty to return power back to the people…it is his patriotic duty to listen to the electorate and act for the majority, not just focus in on minorities…it is his patriotic duty to fall on his sword if he or his party fails to deliver! I could go on and on. We need concrete proposals and policies against which he and his party can be measured…not 100’s of qualifications of “get out of jail free” cards.

At this time…the Conservative party looks like New Labour, with younger faces and blue overcoats. Why should we risk electing the Conservatives…with all their inexperience when they are simply serving the same old dish with a little garnish?

Get off the fence Cameron and tell us what you are going to do, how you are going to do it, who will be responsible for delivery and how long it will take. We need stakes in the ground!!! Do not tell us that you haven’t got “all the detail” to come up with such policies and plans, because we just don’t believe it…you can make (and publish) “assumptions” in the same way as any businessman would do. Perhaps this statement highlights the weakness of our electoral system…which allows people with little or no experience to run one of the largest ‘corporations’ in the world. One of the reasons that New Labour failed was because they had ideologies, but lacked the ability to effectively implement them and the experience to consider the consequences of their policies. Why should Cameron be different…convince the electorate of that question, and Cameron may have a chance to win the next election.

Posted in Conservatives, General, Labour, World | Comments (2)

David Cameron needs to up his game

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David Cameron needs to up his game


It is clear that David Cameron need to up his game. In an interview with Jeff Randall, he was unable to explain a £72 billion spending commitment contained in last year’s pre-Budget report. For a man who seeks to become the CEO of UK Plc, this is an appalling situation. £72 billion accounts for more than 10% of the budget and this implies either a lack of understanding by Cameron or an inability or even an unwillingness to get involved in the detail. To put this £72 billion into perspective, it is 20 times the losses reported by RBS, the bank that is 84% owned by the UK taxpayer.

For those that believe that Cameron need not have a grasp on this detail, it is worth noting this £72 billion of taxpayers money was listed simply as “other”. I suspect that most, if not all us would have investigated or queried such a massive sum of money described as “other”…which is the equivalent of miscellaneous!

I have to say that I was embarrassed for Cameron and the people of this country that the ‘heir apparent’, did not seem to have a grasp of the financial for this country. Little wonder that the people of this country are starting to have doubts about whether the Conservative Party has the depth and the skills to take this country forward. I virtually guarantee, that is Cameron had been the CEO of a large company and was unable to answer such a fundamental question, that he would have been quickly ousted.

Granted, Gordon Brown has completely screwed this country with his so called fiscal and monetary policies, but what hope do we have if Cameron cannot demonstrate a clear understanding of this country’s finances. A good leader, CEO of Prime Minister, would have a clear and detail knowledge of the finances of the organisation that he heads.

If Cameron wants the people of this country to entrust him with our futures, then he must demonstrate that he has the capacity, ability, the knowledge and the skills to take us forward. He cannot, as he has done so many times in the past, simply rely on the failures of the existing Government. We all know that New Labour have failed us…what we want to know is that he and his team have the answers. If Cameron cannot grasp the fundamentals of finance, then he does not deserve to lead this country.

Posted in Conservatives, General, Labour, World | Comments (5)

Punch and Judy Politics

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Punch and Judy Politics


Prime Ministers Questions was yet another example of the Punch and Judy style of politics that is so prevalent today. It is reminiscent of two schoolboys arguing over who’s dad is bigger or stronger, yet, these grown-up children in Parliament are the very people we are supposed to rely on to represent our interests. We are slowly becoming a laughing stock as our politicians consistently fail to represent our interests, whilst many are guilty of taking the public for a ride in terms of their expense claims. Even the Ayatollah Khamenei believes that he is entitled to sit in judgement of the people of this country based on his views of our political leaders.

Yesterday, Brown and Cameron swapped blows regarding the level of capital spending in the UK over the coming years. Brown is quite clearly guilty of a deliberate attempt to mislead the public. It is self-evident that capital spending is being reduced, even if this is as a consequence of this government bringing forward capital projects from future years, which inflates the current spend, but has the effect of reducing the amount available in future years. Some would argue that this is quite a reckless policy, especially given Brown will almost certainly not be in power when someone else has to deal with the fact that there is nothing in the kitty. Mind you, that has become a fairly common trait with Labour government, their spend, spend, spend policy invariably leaves a Conservative government to clean up the mess.

Meanwhile, whilst Cameron has Brown on the ropes, he lacks the courage to state the bloody obvious and that is, we have no choice but to reduce public spending. Tax receipts are down, public sector spending is out of control, the economy is contracting and more and more people are becoming an economic liability, rather than an asset as a consequence of increasing unemployment. I would have more respect for David Cameron if he was to demonstrate that he has the courage and moral rectitude to come clean with the public. Instead of highlighting Brown’s lies ( after all we all know that he is a stranger to the truth), Cameron ought to be outlining why there is a need to reduce public spending and how they intend to do it if elected. Instead, he is allowing Brown to dictate what the “10% Tory cuts” amount to, using the classic New Labour trick of emotional blackmail, less for pensioners, less for the NHS, less for the Police etc.

Apart from the fact that most people already understand that we are in for a tough few years, Cameron also has the OECD stating that the Treasury figures for the UK economy are at best optimistic, but more likely completely wrong. He has the rating agency Standard & Poor making veiled threats to reduce the UK Plc credit rating unless the government gets it’s house in order and puts in place a concrete plan to reduce public debt. And, now, he even had the governor of the Bank of England stating that “scale of the deficit is truly extraordinary” and usggesting that the government should be more ambitious with their debt reduction plans. In other words, Cameron has some very powerful people or organisations supporting the notion that our economic situation is dire and we need to reign in public spending, yet he still lacks the courage to take the bull by the horns. It is this lack of backbone, even when the odds are in his favour, that leads me to doubt Cameron’s ability to offer the strong leadership this country needs to get itself out of the mess created my New Labour’s social engineering project.

Apart from public spending cuts, there is also a need to look at whether we are getting value for money from our public services. For example, in spite of the fact that we have record numbers of police officers, the number of front line bobbies (I have excluded PCSO’s) is but a tiny fraction of the 156,000 officers that are employed. Crime is rising not falling and police openly admit that they consider their job to be the investigation of crime, rather than the prevention.

The NHS has received a massive increase in spending. To fund this all UK workers were surcharged an extra 1% on their entire earnings and employers were charged an extra 1% of their wage bills. This added £billions every year. This burden on employers and employees will increase by a further 0.5% shortly. Yet, in spite of the enormous amounts raised to invest in the NHS, new build was financed using PFI, a hugely expensive way of funding new hospitals, and much of the money went into higher wages, not improved services. Now that the NHS have identified that there may be a real term reduction in the NHS budget, we are threatened with ward closures and increased waiting lists. In other words, the NHS are holding us to ransom, instead of investing the money wisely, they simply spent it. There is a subtle difference in my terminology, but a huge difference in practice.

Take the money being wasted on spy databases. £billions have been committed to IT infrastructure projects, most of which have not been thought through, many have contracts that amount to a blank cheque in terms of costly overruns and to be frank, most are simply not needed. This is not a wise investment of our taxes at a time when the country can least afford a spendthrift policy. It is also worth noting that many of these contracts do not benefit UK companies.

The list goes on and on. That notwithstanding, it is so bloody obvious to most people what we need to do, that to tell us different is patently insulting. Unfortunately, our politician’s still believe that we are not grown up enough to be able to handle the truth, so instead they either lie to us, or avoid being candid. My message to politicians of all parties is to stop treating us like idiots. They must tell us how they see the situation in unambiguous terms, what they believe needs to be done and how long they expect the pain to last. They must tell us how they will ensure that we get value for money and what they will do to ensure that tax increases are only be considered after all other areas have been exploited. If the people of this country and its politicians are not to be looked on by other countries as a bit of a basket case, then we need a man (and a party) with a plan.

Posted in Conservatives, General, Lib Dems | Comments (3)

MP’s utter contempt for the public is indisputable

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MP’s utter contempt for the public is indisputable


If anyone was in any doubt that members of parliament hold the people of this country in utter contempt, then a look at some of the news stories this week ought to be enough to convince even those that are in awe of the ruling elite.

The biggest story by far is the publication of MPs’ expenses. For months, we have been told that the MP’s in general and this government in particular wanted complete transparency and, that they would demonstrate this by publishing full details of their expenses. They cautioned that some information such as their home addresses, telephone numbers, bank account details and signatures would be “redacted”. However, they have gone much further than that, with vast swathes of information being ‘blanked out’ to the extent that the information that has been provided is virtually useless, at least to anyone that wants to be able to scrutinise how MP’s have been spending our money. It is farcical. It is also nonsense to suggest that much of this information was redacted because of the ‘Data Protection Act’, granted, the DPA is relevant to some of the detail, but MP’s are hiding behind the DPA to mask their own embarrassment in the forlorn hope that few people will understand what is, or is not covered by the Data Protection Act.

Take David Cameron, one of the most vocal proponents of transparency on expenses. He is making clear that he feels too much information has been censored, but if you listen carefully, he is not suggesting that the current set of claims be reviewed and published again, only that any future claims be dealt with on a more open basis. In other words, Cameron wants to give the impression that he is all for transparency, but he is being very careful not to advocate the publishing of uncensored expenses pre-2008 …which is what we are all interested in. Clearly, only the most inept MP would exaggerate or fiddle their expenses when the public and others are scrutinising their expenditure and MP’s have been aware of this being likely ever since they lost their court case last year. However, what we want and need to know is precisely what they were up to when they believed their expenses would never be open to public scrutiny. It is this period when MP’s were trusted not to abuse the system that matters and will determine whether or not they were entitled or should have been in receipt of such public confidence. It is the same principle as the speed camera that is much loved by this government, if everyone knows that they are being monitored, then they adjust their behaviour accordingly, but only a fool would speed past a camera whilst over the limit.

It is clear that this government and many other MP’s have become adept at saying much but meaning very little. They say just enough to get them of the hook, they are willing to stretch the truth, but not so far that they could be accused of lying and, when all else fails, they don’t answer the question at all or go underground. The bottom line is, the public has not given any MP an amnesty for wrongdoing or fiddling their expenses, simply based on an assurance that they will be good boys and girls in the future. If they (our MP’s) have taken the public for mugs, then they must may the price with their jobs and if necessary, their liberty. Party leaders must also be wary of our view in respect of their decision to set up their own ‘scrutiny panels’ to allow them to set the rules and issue the adjudications behind closed doors and without any public involvement. We don’t have ex-cons acting as judge and jury, nor should we have MP’s doing the same, because we will, inevitably, believe that they are simply protecting their own, whilst using the opportunity to throw the mavericks to the wolves. The public is increasingly aware that we are being treated like fools, we know that MP’s, ministers and yes, party leaders, routinely lie or mislead us.

Perhaps what irks me most is the fact that the vast majority of Labour MP’s and many, many opposition MP’s supported government initiatives that permitted the state to consistently and relentlessly invade our privacy and our everyday lives. Supported by the majority of MP’s, the state will routinely spy on our email’s, monitor our telephone calls, record and store our internet traffic, monitor and store details of our local and international travel arrangements and share our most private and intimate details with up to 700 other government and non-government departments or organisations. Yet, it is these same MP’s that seek to protect their own privacy by redacting material that they believe they think we should not see, even though it is our money that they are spending. When the ruling classes become so overtly and arrogantly hypocritical, then we have to know that something has gone very badly wrong with the relationship between the people and the state.

However, this was not the only news which demonstrates how things are changing between the people and the state. Using legislation introduced in 2003, a high court has ruled that a robbery trial can go ahead without a jury. Now I am not arguing the merits of this particular case, only what this landmark ruling could mean to the rest of us, because the right to a jury trial is undoubtedly an ancient and preciously guarded feature of the English criminal justice system. Ask the average citizen whether they would prefer to be judged by 12 fellow citizens or a single judge and I think we all know what the answer will be. Whilst a non-jury trial is supposed to be used only in exceptional cases, we all know that our recent history is littered with such precedents becoming the norm. Mission creep, abuse, deception, lies, it doesn’t matter what you call it, somewhere along the line this high court ruling is likely to become far more widespread. Remember when CCTV cameras were only used to deter criminals? Today they are used to track the movements of people and cars using, respectively, facial recognition technology and automatic number plate recognition systems. Remember when it was only suspected terrorists and big criminals that had their telephones and other communications monitored? Now, every call, text message and email of every citizen in this country is monitored and stored by the state. Remember when you were innocent until proven guilty? Tell that to anyone that is targeted by the HMRC, or someone that has had their assets seized and have to prove how they attained them. Tell that to someone that has been detained without charge or subjected to a control order under anti-terror legislation, without ever being informed what evidence there was to justify such action. Anyone that believes that these state activities will never affect the average citizen is incredibly naive, there are endless examples of laws introduced for one purpose being used for something entirely different. For example, it is not just terrorists that are affected by anti-terror legislation, an old man was ejected from an open meeting for heckling Jack Straw, and a lady was detained for walking on a path that had been designated a bike path, Iceland’s assets were seized using anti-terror legislation even though there were other laws that would have been more appropriate. The state either directly or through their proxies abuse legislation routinely at our expense. If we cannot trust our lawmakers to be honest and beyond reproach in the submission of their expenses and in their dealings with the public, how can we continue to trust them with our liberty or values?

Take the most recent political debate over public expenditure, can we trust our government to be honest? I mean, who are we to believe? Gordon Brown tells us that public spending is going up, whilst the Conservatives tell us it is not. The difference appears to be whether it is includes or excludes inflation, whether it includes variables such as interest payments and how the bringing forward of capital spending plans affects the numbers. Semantics or bullshit? In my view, whilst Brown may not be lying, he is most certainly trying to deliberately mislead and that is unforgivable. Brown is in a position of trust, yet he thinks it is acceptable to play childlike games when attempting to explain the public finances, even though it is precisely these types of pathetic, self-serving, juvenile tricks that got us into the financial mess we are in today. But how can we trust the opposition either? They have many members that have been fiddling their expenses or, at the very least, been stretching the available allowances to extremes? But, rather than taking the opportunity to purge politics of reprobates and stealing a lead by removing the censorship of past expense claims, they go into self-preservation mode and refer only of future claims. This amounts to a virtual amnesty for any MP that hasn’t been caught yet.

Party leaders are saying one thing and doing another. For example, they are making overtures about the fact that parliament can no longer be self-regulating yet, as party leaders, they consider their own committees best able to judge whether or not an MP has broken the expense rules or abused the often repeated “spirit of the rules”. These committees then have the power to ‘clear’ an MP and we are expected to accept that these secret investigations, adjudications and punishments have been fair, impartial and proportionate. We are forced to conclude that whilst MP’s believe we are capable of voting them into power, they do not trust us to judge them based on their actions and our standards. This is class snobbery at its best, MP’s from all parties truly believe that they are the elite and we are the peasants. We are simply a necessary evil on their journey to power. The only thing tMP’s fear is losing their seat and therefore, their power base.

Oh, and on top of everything else, this government does not believe that we are entitled to a public enquiry over the Iraq War. Now, lets get this straight shall we? This is a war that very few of us supported, this is a war that has cost the lives of many brave servicemen, not to mention the lives of the many innocent women and children in Iraq. This is a war that has cost us over £6bn and placed us on the front line of international terrorism. This is a war that has cost the people of this country a loss of liberty and privacy on an unprecedented scale, that has virtually destroyed the freedoms and liberties that have evolved and been fought for over hundreds of years. Yet this government believes we are not entitled to have a public enquiry to establish why we went to war.

The public want to know why we went to war, based on what evidence and, whether or not it was considered legal. Was the country and/parliament mislead and if so, by whom? Other than something that directly affects national security, everything must be open to public scrutiny, up to and including the cabinet minutes. When a democratic country is taken to war against the will of the people, then the government has an obligation to provide an open and honest account of why they went against public opinion, especially when the initial justifications for their actions have subsequently been proved completely unfounded. Those responsible must not be allowed to conduct such matters in secrecy given we are all having to pay the price. We need to know that our government did not take us to war for regime change or to instill our form of democracy on another country, there must better be another very good reason such as, there being a very real threat to the safety or security of the UK.

So much has happened over the past 7 days that it is difficult to know where to start or finish. However, what is clear to me, is the so-called ruling classes do not give a toss about you and I. With few exceptions, MP’s treat us with disdain and contempt, they consider themselves above the law, not open to scrutiny and not subject to the same rules that you and I must adhere to. Fiddling expenses has become so ‘routine’ that MP’s no longer understand the difference between what is right or wrong. Lying to the public has become so routine that Ministers can now do it with a straight face. Rhetoric has displaced action and, truth has replaced political spin in government and, all of the major political parties. MP’s and their leaders have never really been trusted by the public and for all intents and purposes, we have been proved right. 

In spite of that, they expect us to trust them at their word, even though they continue to lie and bullshit us on a daily basis, even though they protect their own and, even though they lack the humility to admit their mistakes. In reality, recent election results imply that we have lost confidence in all of them because, in spite of the fact that New Labour has destroyed this country in economic terms, massacred our civil liberties, made the people of this country a target for any radical terrorist, acted against our wishes and yes, consistently lied to us, we still don’t trust the alternatives, specifically the Conservatives or LibDems. The opposition party’s should be cleaning up with such a pathetic government and prime minister in place, they are not, and that should worry them. It is time for all parties and MP’s to treat the people of this country like grown-ups, if they don’t then there is a very real likelihood that the people will react and if that happens, I doubt that Jackie Smith’s 10,000 Tasers will make a great deal of difference. This country needs a regime change, the problem is, the alternatives don’t look much better!

Something that galls me most about this whole mess, is that whilst we have tended to look at the expense scandal as a serious, but local difficulty, our ruling elite have given the likes of the Ayatollah Khamenei license to refer to the people of this country as being corrupt. We, are all being tarred with the same brush as many of our MP’s and that is quite simply unforgivable.

Posted in Big Brother, Civil Liberties, Conservatives, General, Labour, Lib Dems, World | Comments (4)

Gordon Brown destroys our faith in representative democracy

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Gordon Brown destroys our faith in representative democracy


Gordon Brown’s decision to remain as leader of the Labour pemocracyarty and, as a consequence, prime minister of this country serves only to shatter what is left of the publics faith in representative democracy. His decision to remain and those spineless Labour MP’s that surround him demonstrate their utter contempt for the people of this country. It is clear that the vast majority of Labour MP’s are petrified of losing their seats as an angry electorate reacts to the appalling way we have been treated and punishes them for bringing our country to the verge of bankruptcy through a combination of poor stewardship, lack of foresight, incompetence and their spendthrift policies. Rather than face the wrath of the people for their comprehensive failure, they choose to demonstrate and highlight the sheer impotence of the people of this country to exercise their will. I don’t know whether we ever had a truly democratic parliamentary system or if it is just accentuated by this government’s actions.

I find myself asking, doubtless alongside many others, just what it will take for the people of this country to be able rid ourselves of this unelected prime minister? Gordon Brown knows full well that he is despised by the majority of the people in this country, this is evidenced by numerous polls, we simply don’t trust him or his party any longer. This was further reinforced at the local elections as the public leave Labour in droves and then, the view was strengthened even more with the Labour party receiving just 15.3% of the popular vote in the European Elections. This is less than half the percentage that was needed to get New Labour into power in the first place. Or, to put in another way, just 1 in 7 of those that voted in the European Elections supported Gordon Brown and his Labour government. He has never never had the right or the mandate that would allow him to lecture us on “what the people want….” with 2 out of 3 people voting against his party at the last general election. Indeed, he has even less right to make this statement now, when 6 out of 7 voters said that he and his party do not speak for us.

The actions of Gordon Brown and his party clearly demonstrates that the people of this country have little or no power over what happens in parliament. Yes, we are entitled to vote for the party of choice once every 5 years, but under the current system, with less that 35% of the popular vote any party can get into power with a substantial majority, that allows them to do pretty much anything they want, up to and including a refusal to follow a manifesto commitment. If the public are dissatisfied with their MP they can do nothing, we have no right of recall. If the public are unhappy with a government, they can do nothing other than wait for the next election. This is not a society where power is vested in the people. Yes, the politicians keep telling us that we have a free society, that we are in a democracy, but where is the evidence?

The majority of people are angered by MPs’ abusing their expenses, but truth be told, they were angry before that. We were angry that our individual liberties had been decimated by successive governments, albeit the ultimate prize must go to New Labour who have virtually destroyed whatever was left under the guise of fighting crime and terrorism. We were angry that this government has taken our country to the brink and then, rather than accepting responsibility, chose to blame everyone else or, to lie, by saying that they couldn’t be expected to see what was coming. We were angry that in spite of successive tax rises, it was difficult to see the benefits, hard-working people were taxed even harder, whilst the workshy were cushioned with ever increasing tax credits. We were angry that in spite of the boom, this government failed to control spending, in fact, they continued to borrow. We were angry that this government were wasting up to £100bn every year through poor decision making, inept management and inflation busting increases in public sector budgets. We were angry that this government sought, against the will of the majority to introduce ID Cards, a database state and remove our inherent right to privacy. We were angry that as a direct consequence of the tax raid on private sector pensions, many excellent pension schemes were forced to close entirely or to new members. We were angry that this government sought to punish those that had prudently saved in a private pension scheme, whilst ignoring the burgeoning cost of the gold-plated pension schemes offered to the public sector. We were angry that MPs’ voted to introduce ever more draconian laws to control and govern the majority, whilst providing themselves with exemptions or immunity. The bottom line is we were furious well before the expenses scandal. The fact that MPs’ from all parties were helping themselves to our money was simply the icing on the cake, it became the conduit for the public to express their anger, frustration and contempt for those that sought to have parliament control, rather than serve the public.

We need change and we need it now. We do not want another talking shop that will allow this government to see out the next year. We need real reform. If we are to accept that we have no choice other than to retain our current prime minister and this pathetic government, then we must know that this will be the last time that we will be held to ransom. We need fixed term parliament, we need the power to recall individual ministers, we need the power to demonstrate a vote of no confidence in a government, we need the power to determine which local candidate will serve our local party, we need the power to vote on manifesto promises rather than having to accept an all or nothing situation, we need the power to have existing legislation repealed or changed to better represent the interests of all the people rather than a small section. In fact, what we need is power returned to the people. See Restoring faith in parliamentary democracy.

Anything less will be a lost opportunity, it will demonstrate complete and utter contempt for the people of this country and will further reinforce the belief that there is a ruling elite and then the rest of us. I don’t believe that Gordon Brown has what it takes to deliver these reforms, but then again, I know that David Cameron won’t, he is all talk and no action. So, I live in hope that Brown, who is clearly so desperate not to go down in history as the worst Chancellor and Prime Minister ever, that he might just try and push through the reform that we so desperately need….the thing I am left with is whether or not he has the competence to deliver anything.

Posted in Conservatives, General, Labour, Lib Dems | Comments (21)

Cameron’s offer of open primaries is pure tokenism

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Cameron’s offer of open primaries is pure tokenism


Whilst I accept that David Cameron is demonstrating some leadership in terms of electoral reform, his latest proposals are so limited as to leave him open to the accusation of political tokenism. He has suggested that he is willing to open the Conservative candidate list to anyone “who wants to apply”, using what he describes as a system of “open primaries” where everyone in a constituency can vote at public meetings to select their prospective Conservative MP.  

However, in typical Cameron style, he limits the risk. Instead of making this policy widespread, by insisting that all Conservative MP’s stand for re-selection, he has stated that this policy will only be implemented in areas where Conservative MP’s have announced their intention to retire or stand down. At the moment, that is just 5 seats, which, even based on the current number of Conservative MP’s (190), would account for just over 2.5%. If the Conservatives are successful in getting into government, these candidates, chosen by the people, would likely amount to much less than 2% of the total. In other words, it will make little or no difference. Pure, unadulterated tokenism.

Cameron needs to demonstrate that he is a man of conviction, we have had 12 years of tokenism from Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. At the very least, Cameron should insist that his entire front bench stand for re-selection. However, I would like to see him go further and provide the people of this country with the opportunity to select their preferred Conservative candidate, in every constituency. That is true democracy. If the people don’t like his preferred candidate, then that is the will of the people, you can’t get more democratic than that. I am encouraged that he has stated that candidates would not be rejected because they had no experience of politics, that is also a step in the right direction, but if Cameron wants to be taken seriously, then he needs to go all the way. I personally believe it will strengthen his party, not weaken it and if he loses a few ‘mates‘ along the way, then that is the will of the people he claims to want to serve.

When we look at a potential new leader, it is essential that, as well as taking into account their policies, we look at the leaders principles and judgement. In the case of Julie Kirkbride, David Cameron has come out to defend her, stating that her case was “different” to that of her husband Andrew Mackay. That is total piffle and he knows it. Kirkbride and Mackay are married, both had to have known about the arrangement to maximise the ‘Second Home Allowance and, of course, as a family unit, Kirkbride would have been a benificiary of this arrangement. If David Cameron can’t see what everyone else can, then he is not fit to lead the party, much less this country, because he will be no better than Gordon Brown. He must, at the very least, insist that Julie Kirkbride stands for re-selection in an ‘open primary’, which would leave it to her constituents to determine whether her behaviour was acceptable, not him. Having put up with 12 years of New Labour, the public know the difference between headline grabbing rhetoric and action, as well as the difference between right and wrong. He cannot and must not take his poll position for granted. If the people of this country want to see fresh new faces in parliament, they may decide to vote for candidates from smaller parties, or independents.

For the record, I would like to say that I wholeheartedly endorse his suggestion that Conservative MP’s will only be required to follow the Whips orders on Manifesto commitments, other party’s should take note.

Posted in Conservatives, General | Comments (25)

Party leaders must beware of the wrath of the voter

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Party leaders must beware of the wrath of the voter


Looking back over the past two weeks I have become increasingly concerned that party leaders are, for the most part, issuing small soundbites to humour the electorate, rather than taking clear or decisive action. Many MPs’ have referred to the fact that their claims were, either “within the rules” or “within the guidelines”. So, I decided to look at the definitions of each which are reproduced below: [Party leaders please note]

Guidelines: A statement or other indication of policy or procedure by which to determine a course of action.

Rules: A principle or regulation governing conduct, action, procedure, arrangement, etc.

Now, lets take a look at what the “rules” or “guidelines” say in respect of expense claims: Expense claims must be wholly, necessarily and exclusively in the performance of their Parliamentary duties

My take on this is that whether MPs want to refer to these as guidelines or rules, the vast majority of them that have claimed for anything other than rent, utility bills, insurance or other essentials cannot state in all seriousness that they have followed the letter or the spirit of the expense claims procedure. I have excluded mortgages only because in my view, mortgage interest reclaims should have been capped. If the party leaders are not going to look at this whole thing dispassionately, then the final arbiter of whether the rules or guidelines were followed, or if the claims were reasonable must be the electorate.

If party leaders fail to take account of the fact that the public consider many of these claims a deliberate abuse, then they demonstrate how completely out of touch they are. If they get this wrong, then they may well pay the price at the ballot box in a general election. I feel certain, that all of the party leaders and most of the MPs’ think that this whole thing will blow over, they could not be more wrong. If they don’t deal with it now, then the electorate will be reminded about individual MPs’ probity when they are asked to vote, nationwide opinion polls will not provide an accurate picture, because the electorate will be judging the individual candidates on a local basis. So, David Cameron, for example, must not get too cocky, because there are a good number of his own MPs’ that have themselves entered and benefited from unjustifiable claims. He could, therefore, find that whilst local constituents may want to vote conservative, they have so little confidence in the candidate, they put their tick elsewhere. As I have said, no national opinion poll will be able to predict that outcome, but party leaders could use a little commonsense.

Cameron is calling for an election and Brown is saying that the public want and expect the current government to fix the problems in “this parliament”. I dislike politicians speaking for me and therefore I will avoid trying to speak for others, but as far as I am concerned I DO want an election so that I can decide whether I support the candidate put up by the local party. I will say this, if I don’t trust the candidate, no matter what party he represents, I will not vote for him. I suspect many will act likewise, though how many is too difficult to predict.

Fixing the system that has allowed the abuse is the very least we expect from all MPs and party leaders, placing an immediate halt on the abuses is also expected of them. However, wrongdoing, abuse or fraud must not go unpunished, our lawmakers are supposed to set an example, it comes with the salary. Similarly, leaders that fail to act on abuse be removing the whip or insisting on deselection, will be viewed as condoning the activities of these wayward MPs’.

I don’t think Gordon Brown should call an election now, but I do believe he must have the courage of his convictions. If he believes he knows what the people want, then he must set a date for the election and it must be this year. If he has acted like a true leader, ensured that wayward MPs’ cannot stand for election again and applied the same rules to ministers as he does backbenchers, then he will do much better at the ballot box. I don’t think he can win, but it may not be a complete wipe-out. As far as Cameron is concerned, he must act in the same way, there is no point in the electorate voting for more of the same. If not, I predict, that at the next election, we will see a last minute surge to the Liberal Democrats and if that is the case, proportional representation is only around the corner.

However they deal with this issue, electoral reform is long overdue, all parties have a duty to increase their accountability to the people of this country. The system must also be changed to ensure that the ‘executive’ does not have so much power, resulting in them being answerable to no-one, including parliament. They can start by trying to widen their recruitment process for new candidates from the narrow section of society used now, to one which ensures that real people are given the opportunity to represent major parties and people with an appropriate level of experience are encouraged to put themselves up for candidacy, so that if the party is elected, they have a knowledge and depth in their cabinet ministers.

I don’t have all the answers, but one thing I know for certain, neother do our politicians and they have had and squandered their chance!

Posted in Conservatives, General, Labour, Lib Dems | Comments (6)

MPs’ fail to gauge the mood of the public

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MPs’ fail to gauge the mood of the public


I don’t know whether Shahid Malik has a case to answer, only time will tell, but what he is guilty of is failing to capture and understand the mood of the public. Malik decided to come out fighting, in doing so, he came across as belligerent, arrogant and self-righteous, all of the attributes we despise in anyone, but especially those in positions of power, such as our politicians. It precisely this type of finger pointing, Holier Than Thou, I am better than you attitude, that infuriates the public. So instead of the public listening to what Malik was saying, they were concentrating on how he was saying it! So, the Minister for Justice believes that he should be considered ‘innocent until proven guilty’ whilst many in this country have been denied that long held right by HIS government! Further evidence, if it were needed, that most members of parliament really are hypocrites.

Of course Malik is not the only MP that has decided to go on the attack, but he is the latest, mostly, for some reason, Labour MP’s. Yet all they are doing is fanning the flames. How ironic that New Labour invented ‘spin’ yet it doesn’t appear to be able to reign in its MP’s when it needs to most. Whilst anger is universal, I get the impression that most is directed at Labour MP’s, almost certainly since they are the party in power that has failed the vast majority of the public. Therefore, it is perhaps New Labour MP’s, more that any, that need to be contrite?

I am not convinced however, that all of this anger is about expense account abuse, I believe it is the culmination of the way that MP’s, Labour in particular, have and continue to demonstrate that they are incapable of admitting that they could be wrong or have made mistakes and that starts right at the top with Gordon Brown.

Two thirds of the public want a general election, which is double the number that was needed to give this government such a massive majority, but the will of the people is ignored. Democracy is generally described as being: a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system. Yet, our elected representative know that the majority of people want a change of government, but they are too arrogant to grant one. That is dangerous. Malik said that the expense scandal was in danger of destroying democracy, not so, it is the smug, self-serving and remote attitude of MP’s in general and Labour MP’s in particular that will destroy our democracy.

David Davies has suggested that many members of parliament are considering stepping down, leaving politics altogether, because they dislike the fact that all MP’sare being tarred with the same brush. Personally I think that is the best thing that could happen, David Davies probably thinks the public should be concerned, I don’t believe that to be true. The public want wholesale change, if the main parties don’t provide that through the retirement or deselection of existing MP’s, then I suspect we will get it by default with an increasing number of independent MP’s (and smaller parties) being voted in at the next election. If the main parties do not want to become also rans, then they must listen to the will of the people.

One of the problems with the mainstream parties and I have said this before, is the fact that they select candidates from such a small pool. This means that we end up with lots of candidates (for MP’s) that think the same, talk the same and act the same. Not like you and I, but like each other. It is like being ruled by aliens. It is hardly a good example of democracy in action, if the only people we are allowed to vote for within the big parties, are those that are selected from the same tiny pool of limited talent, which is designed to positively discriminate against or, exclude real people.

Mainstream parties should spread their nets wider, recruit the best talent, so that these people can take up those key positions when, or if, the party get elected into power. Now is the time for party leaders to follow the will of the people. Never will they have a better opportunity than now to justify a wholesale clear-out of the many MP’s that are quite simply a waste of space. The party that is brave enough to do this, will align themselves most closely with the mood of the public, who want and demand change. In all probability, they will also be responsible for restoring the publics faith in politics, democracy and politicians. Party leaders need to understand that it is not optional, but essential, that the people of this country have trust and confidence in their politicians.

If I was a leader of one of the main parties I would seriously consider going on a recruitment drive to find the ‘best of the best’. I would be looking to recruit real people, those with expertise in business, health, education, economics and so on. Individuals that sounded like people, not politicians, that were sincere rather than smooth,  those that could demonstrate gravitas and sincerity rather than a dismissive attitude towards alternative opinions or the will of the people. One other thing all politician’s must take into account regarding this whole sorry saga is, whilst they may object to being tarred with the same brush (as ‘dodgy’ MP’s), that is exactly what is happening to the people of this country. The public are being forced into a situation where theirright to privacy is being stolen by this Governments Big Brother ‘database state’, which records our emails, mobile phone calls, health records, children’s educational needs, DNA, internet traffic, vehicle movements, travel arrangements…and now wants our biometric data, ID cards, the ability to profile etc, etc. The state is treating us all like suspects, it is bringing in petty rules, regulations and laws (3607 in 12 years) that seeks to criminalise even the most mundane things. It is has unashamedly used the fear of crime and terrorism to introduce what can only amount to state control and yes, state terrorism. It has got to stop.

Politicians don’t like it when the public think they are all on the make, or criminals, but then, we also dislike being considered potential criminals that must be spied on, tracked and hounded. In the end, politicians only have themselves to blame, they are paying the price for their disconnect from, and contempt for, the public. The expense scandal is a wake up for all MP’s, best they look at what is below the surface, as well as the actual event, lest they miss a golden opportunity to put power back with the people, by introducing genuine ‘root and branch’ reform within their own party’s.

Posted in Big Brother, Civil Liberties, Conservatives, General, Labour, Lib Dems | Comments (7)

MPs’ Expenses: Sorry doesn’t cut it!

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MPs’ Expenses: Sorry doesn’t cut it!


Most MP’s appear to believe that they have nothing to apologise for because, so far as they are concerned, they acted within the rules and their expenses and/or allowances were paid by the Fees Office. Some, on the other hand have said sorry, not for the wholesale abuse of the system, but for individual expense claims which they think we will find indefensible. An even smaller number believe it is okay if they say sorry and reimburse the public purse. Well for me, that just doesn’t cut it. Do they think that the public is so shallow, so in awe of MP’s and so battered by circumstance that they will simple forgive and forget? I think not!

MP’s are in a position of trust, invariably they are elected based on promises made to the electorate and/or party manifesto commitments. Not only are the public entitled to expect the highest levels of probity, but they are also entitled to presume that members of parliament have a fully operational moral compass, in respect of their personal life and, above all in relation to their dealings in public office. In spite of this, many MP’s have actively milked an expense and allowance system for their personal gain, even though, a good number of them have variously described it as in desperate need of reform, open to abuse, or open to interpretation. Some have implied or stated that they felt the allowances were a right, given the salaries were, in their opinion, comparatively poor. MP’s have argued that the public would not accept higher salaries, therefore a flexible approach to allowances and expenses made up the shortfall. Did none of these MP’s consider this solution to be at best, immoral and at worst, dishonest?

One of the problems with MP’s salaries is the fact that MP’s have an exagagerated opinion of their abilities and value, at least, they place a much higher value on themselves than the public does. Why is that I wonder? Could it be, for example, that they surround themselves with flunkies, yes men and people that routinely blow hot air up their backsides? Perhaps, it is because becoming an MP is a virtual closed-shop. The reality is, that the best chance of being elected is to be adopted by one of the main parties, to do that, you have to come from a very small pool of candidates, perhaps a local councillor, a school friend of the leader, a friendly journalist, a union leader, a lobbyist or party activist, come gofer. As a consequence, real world experience is limited, both in terms of business and life experience, which probably explains why so many MP’s appear out of touch with real people and incapable of handling portfolios either in government or as a shadow ministers. Is it, therefore, any wonder that the public believe MP’s are already overpaid?

This is even more evident right now, by virtue of the fact that Gordon Brown has such a limited pool of ‘bright’ MP’s, that he has to make do with the best of the bunch. Not great when you are supposed to be running one of the biggest economies in the world! I would have no problem with MP’s being paid more, but based on the current crop, that would be ridiculous. There is nothing wrong with paying more in order that you can attract the brightest stars to politics, but no-one will want to pay for when all we get are the also-rans! In my view, the way candidates for chosen is akin to going to a small town job centre and expecting to find the best qualified people in the country. It just ain’t going to happen and, as a direct consequence, we end up getting served by MP’s that would be lucky to get a middle managers job, much less responsibility for thousands of staff and multi-billion pound budgets. To emphasis this point, we have a former postman in charge of the Health Service, the third largest employer in the world and a former teacher in charge of the Home Office. What a complete and utter mess!

Of course, whilst MP’s will complain that there £64k salary is too low, those with additional responsibilities will receive much more, for example, a cabinet minister will be on over £140k, but that has not stopped them from continuing to milk the system. Because, I assume, by the time they become a minister, with the higher salary and all the additional benefits, their moral compass is so damaged, that they no longer see right from wrong. Not a good thing when they are overseeing departments with multi-billion pound budgets. I am not suggesting any form of wrongdoing, but surely, the public has a right to wonder whether MP’s and Ministers that actively milk a system that, by their own admission is “flawed”, can be trusted to make the right decisions, for the right reasons.

It is not just the expense system that needs reforming, it is the whole system, from how candidates are selected, to how MP’s are promoted into senior positions. Much of it defies logic, lacks transparency and leaves a large question mark over objectivity. The initial candidate selection procedure for example, does not ensure that we get the ‘best of the best’, therefore, if the candidates are eventually elected, they cannot and should not expect salaries comparable with the private sector where there is a true meritocracy, not cronyism. In reality, we end up with Ministers getting paid to learn on the job, even though they have little or no experience of a particular role, that would never happen in the private sector. Little wonder then, that we end up paying £billions to outside consultants, the public end up paying twice and through the nose, because of the recruitment policies of the main parties.

Lets look at the logic for the moment shall we? David Cameron says that the Conservatives are “ready for government“. Okay, then the public is entitled to know who he intends to put in the ‘top’ positions of government and precisely what skills they have to qualify them to run these massive departments. He will not of course, because he doesn’t want us to know what he knows already, that few, if any, of his crop of MP’s have any relevant experience. How many health professionals does he have? How many business leaders? How many teaching professionals? How many economic experts? How many security professionals? Ready for government? If it wasn’t so serious, it would be a joke, the Conservative party may be more principled that New Labour, which wouldn’t be difficult, but ready for government? No chance and the same goes for the Liberal Democrats! Once again, the public will be obliged to accept that we have rank amateurs running our country, our economy and our enormous public sector departments.

If you were to put all of the parties together, I doubt we would be able to find enough suitably experienced candidates, with the necessary depth and knowledge, to run even half of our key departments. That is normal, but it also shocking, because every party tries to convince us that they are modern, forward thinking and up to the job, yet their candidate recruitment process belongs firmly in the dark ages. If this country is to get itself out of the mess that our politicians have been responsible for or complicit in, then there needs to be complete reform.

  • This must include a review of their candidate selection procedures to ensure that they have a good choice of suitably experienced MP’s should they be elected to govern.
  • Strict rules on probity. If an MP or Minister loses the trust and confidence of the electorate, then they must resign their seat and a by-election called.
  • MP’s must accept that they are no longer entitled to self-regulation, nor are they to be permitted to exempt themselves from the same laws that the public must accept.
  • If a political governing party refuses to deliver on any manifesto promise then the the party leader must take full responsibility and resign, then an election must be called. – A manifesto is, of course, a contractual commitment to the people of this country, not an advertising gimmick.
  • The Prime Minister and other Ministers shall be obliged to answer all questions put to them by other Members of Parliament. No Minister shall be allowed to side-step direct questions as frequently happens during PMQ’s.
  • MP’s expense claims must first be approved by their party leaders, before they are submitted to the Fees Office. Expense claims must also be subject to independent and regular audit. False or misleading claims must lead to the automatic dismissal of the MP concerned. In other words, the party whip must be withdrawn, the MP banned from the Commons, and a by-election called.
  • MP’s must lose the entitlement to have themselves referred to as ‘Honourable’ or ‘Right Honourable’ given this implies that they are better than the people they serve and it is automatic, rather than earned. As such, it is meaningless and must therefore, be withdrawn.
  • MP’s must publish their diaries. This need not be detailed, but must include enough information for their constituents to be able to judge how much time each MP’s spends in the house of commons, within their constituency and talking to their constituents. Similarly, it will provide details on when MP’s are in London and whether they are on parliamentary or personal business. All MP’s shall be obliged to publish how many ‘junkets’ they go on each year, including the purpose, duration, cost and who paid.
  • Only Members of Parliament must be permitted to hold Ministerial posts, ensuring that they remain accountable. Peerages must no longer be used as quick method to place an unelected individual into a Ministerial post.
  • Ministers who deliberately mislead parliament are subject to sanction. The same should apply to any Minister that seeks to mislead the public, whether inside or outside parliament.
  • The public must be provided with a method of calling an early election if they lose trust and confidence in the governing party. This could be done by allowing the public to register their ‘satisfaction’ with the governing party once a year, using postal and/or  an internet based voting forum. If the governing party falls below an agreed percentage, then parliament must be dissolved. This would act as a deterrent to governing parties becoming authoritarian, complacent and indifferent to public opinion…as is the case with the current government. Power must be returned to the people if democracy is to survive.
  • When party Manifesto’s are used in an election campaign, voters must be provided with the ability to vote for, or against, each Manifesto commitment. This is to ensure that the public are not ‘bounced’ into agreeing unwelcome policies that are hidden amongst more populist commitments. Therefore, for practical reasons, Manifesto commitments must be limited to a maximum of 10.
  • Parliament must agree to limit the number of new laws drafted each year to allow members of parliament sufficient time to read and digest the content. Since 1997, New Labour have introduced a record 3607 new laws, many are detrimental to the public interest, yet in many cases, were not even debated. Parliament must limit the number of new laws to a maximum of 200 during any Government term.
  • News laws are now routinely introduced (or more accurately hidden) within legislation which has little or nothing to do with the subject matter. These are often laws that are likely to be the most contentious, politicians of all parties must agree to cease this practice forthwith. If a new law is required, then it must be open to scrutiny and debated.
  • Any new legislation or draft law which affects the fundamental liberty, freedoms or right to privacy of the public and has not been include as a manifesto commitment, must be subject to a referendum. The people, not government, must determine if they are prepared to sacrifice long held freedoms, liberty and privacy rights in favour of government assurances of safety and security.  It is not acceptable that any government with a large majority use this powerful position to introduce laws which increase the powers of the state at the expense of the public at large.

In summary, public concern is not so much about the money that MP’s have been pocketing. But the moral compass of any elected official that believed he or she should be entitled to supplement their income through the backdoor by deliberately introducing a ‘flexible’  and generous expense and allowance scheme. By their own admission, this was to avoid the furore that would have been caused if MP’s had sought to increase their salaries, in other words, it was very deliberately deceitful. The public is further angered by the fact that public money was then used to try and prevent the people of this country having access to this information, which amounts to little short of an attempt to cover up malpractice.

However, even before the expense scandal, the public were becoming increasingly disillusioned with politicians in general and this government in particular. This was because politicians appeared ever more detached from reality, unwilling to engage and government had become increasingly more authoritarian. Opposition MP’s did little to combat this attack on the people of this country and that further damaged the confidence of the British public in our political system and members of parliament. It was clear, to anyone looking, that politicians were becoming (indeed are) less and less accountable to the people of this country.

Moreover, politicians of all parties started to deny that they were there to serve the public, some quite openly on their blogs. To reinforce who was boss, this particular government introduced a raft of new legislation that resulted in long held civil liberties and freedoms being denied to the people of this country. The opposition parties did little or nothing to stop this government, and all of a sudden, the people of this country started to feel crushed, hemmed in and unable to do anything about what was happening as politicians increased the divide.

Then came the so called ‘bust’, followed by a recession. But, instead of taking responsibility, the former chancellor and then prime minister blamed anyone and everyone. This was compounded by the fact that his ministers, rather than having the backbone to stand up to him, just tried to continue the myth. Many of them manipulating numbers, statistics or other facts to confuse the picture and divert attention. The PM and Ministers were so far up their own backsides that they thought we would all fall for it, that is the level of contempt they had (and have) for the public. They were arrogant instead of contrite.  

With the economic crisis and lack of public confidence in members of parliament and government ministers, politicians on all sides, I believe, realised that the vast majority of them were out of their depth. When boom ended, few of them had any idea what to do and this is what became self-evident to those outside the Westminster village, but denied by those in power. All of a sudden, the fact that the ‘gene pool’ was so limited meant that there was no ‘experts’ to turn to within their own ranks. The Expense scandal is a culmination of all these things.

Politicians must now realise that their recruitment model is broken, their promotion model (based on cronyism rather than merit) is broken, their moral compass is broken, their reputation for probity is in tatters, the gulf between them and the people they are supposed to represent is wider than the Atlantic, their lack of humility is self-evident, their authoritarian approach is resented by all, their spin doctor messages so old as to be almost predictable and the people, in spite of having their liberties, freedoms and right to privacy destroyed in a little over a decade have had enough and are fighting back. Politicians of all parties would do well to listen. They rule by consent, not as a right. The public could scupper all of their plans by simply voting for fringe parties, it may not give is a joined up government, but lets be honest, we haven’t had one of those for generations!

It is worthwhile checking out this article on MP’s Expense Claims!

Posted in Civil Liberties, Conservatives, General, Labour, Lib Dems, World | Comments (3)

Budget 2009: New Labour have lost the plot

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Budget 2009: New Labour have lost the plot


New Labour has brought this country to the brink of bankruptcy and yet, even now, when everyone else can see it, they remain in denial. How on earth can any pollster find people that are daft enough to believe that Darling and Brown are best placed to get us out of this mess? Never have I felt such utter despair. Up and down the country, people are having to tighten their belts and reign in their spending, only then can they hope to get themselves out of debt or survive a period of reduced income. Ask anyone and they will tell you this is simply commonsense, anyone that is, other than a ‘New Labour’ MP or the recipients of New Labours redistribution of taxpayers money. New Labour believe that they have discovered the secret to dealing with reduced income and spiralling debt, just borrow more! If that were not enough, they elect to lie to themselves and their masters, by suggesting that things will get better by the end of this year and by 2011, we will be in the money again as a consequence of a boom, the like not seen since the ‘dotcom era’.

Our government tells us that the economy will shrink by 3.5% this year, whereas the International Monetary Fund suggests that it will be 4.1% and the the Centre for Economic and Business Research, 4.5%. Even taking account of the Governments hugely optimistic and unlikely forecast, they will have to borrow £175bn this year. In my view, the governments forecast is a lie and I believe they know it is, but rather than give it to us straight, they would sooner treat us like idiots. If the governments figures are wrong and most economists believe they are, then borrowing will be even higher, something our government, your government, doesn’t want you to know until it is too late to do anything about it. Even when it was announced that the economy shrank by 1.9% in the first three months of this year, the government still insisted that their figures were accurate, in other words, we (the government) are right and everyone else is wrong. Early estimates suggest that if the IMF figures are more accurate that those of the Government, then borrowing will increase by around £30bn per year, no wonder this Government doesn’t want us to know the truth.

Next year, the government is forecasting growth of 1.25%, yet in spite of this, they still need to borrow another £173bn. Once again, others, such as the IMF, suggest that the growth figures are vastly optimistic, suggesting instead a contraction of 0.3%. In spite of this, the government then tell us to expect a dotcom like boom in 2011, with a forecast growth figure of 3.5%. Utter fantasy, but even with this spectacular figure, the government will still need to borrow £140bn. Followed by £118bn in 2012 and £97bn in 2013. In other words, even taking this governments completely unrealistic contraction and growth figures, we still need to borrow more than £700bn over the next 5 years. Even to a Cabinet simpleton, this has to indicate that we, as a country, are living well beyond our means. It is also worth noting, that even before the property slump and the recession, we were still borrowing well in excess of our income, with further fancy footwork taking place to move other government debt, such as the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) off the government balance sheet. So, no matter what Gordon Brown will have us believe, we were heading for a fall even without the recession. If he denies this then he is either a fool or a liar..perhaps both! We must not be surprised that this government is lead by liars either, after all, it was they who made a manifesto commitment not to raise the higher rate of income tax and they who promised a referendum on the European Constitution and then denied us the right by falsely claiming that the renamed treaty was not the same. Two manifesto promises, two out and out lies, why should the electorate ever trust any party again over manifesto promises?

The government has decided that anyone earning over £113,000 per year must lose all of their personal allowances, which will cost them around £50 per week and anyone earning over £150,000 per annum, will face a tax rate of 50% on all earnings above the threshold. This governments justification is that these people have gained most during the boom years and should, therefore, pay more now. The truth is somewhat different. Over the past 11 years, the people that have benefited most from the boom, in relative terms, is the lower paid, funded in no small part by those on middle and higher incomes. This was as a direct consequence of the governments programme to redistribute wealth. The government has also said that those that earn more must pay more. But they already do. Someone on £113,000 per year pays, in cash terms, seven times the tax that an individual earning £25,000 per year does.

It is also worth noting that anyone lucky enough to earn over £100k per year has not been gifted it, they have earnt it through promotion, success, hardwork and/or entrepreneurial risk taking. No employer would pay someone over £100k per year if they weren’t worth it. It is also worth remembering that these people are resident here, which means that they spend the majority of their money in the UK, therefore, they will be contributing substantially to the economy in the form of other indirect taxes as well as helping to create employment through the purchase of goods and services. The money that the government takes from these people won’t be handed straight over to the poor as they imply, instead, it will be used to plug a huge gap in government finances…which has become something of a bottomless pit. I would sooner have the taxpayer keep more of their money which, if they spend on goods and services, will be the best natural stimulus this country could possible have. If the government could not fleece the taxpayer so easily, they would be forced, as the rest of us are, to ensure that available funds are spent wisely and are only used on what is necessary, rather than desirable.

The bottom line is, that the only way we are going to get ourselves out of this mess is if we reduce our spending, this is basic economics and most 8 years olds could tell you that. Increasing taxes reduces the amount of money in the economy and it is this that will prolong the recession. The government is asking us all to believe that it can spend our money better and more wisely than we can, is there anyone out there, other than those that do not contribute, that would agree with this statement? For those that believe this government has its priorities in the right place, then they should consider the following; According to the government, the increase in tax announced for higher earners is worth up to £7bn per annum, although other experts believe the actual figure is much, much lower, but taken at face value, this tax increase pales into insignificance when set against government spending on databases. The government intends to spend, in spite of the recession, some £105bn of our money over the next 5 years on databases and other largescale IT projects, that is equivalent to over £20bn per year, or half the defence budget. These databases are designed to allow the government to drive a coach and horses through our civil liberties, monitor our every move and spy on our every deed. How can that be a priority at anytime, let alone during a recession, the databases are far from an essential spend?

The government has failed to grasp the nettle of public sector pension schemes which now costs us £2.7bn every year and rising. Even though the government has hammered private sector pension schemes with a tax take amounting to more that £100bn over the past 10 years, they have done nothing to deal with the public sector pensions, where the gross liability has been estimated to top £800bn. This abdication of their duty is simply breathtaking. For those that are not aware and, in the interest of putting things into perspective, 20p in every £ of our council tax goes directly towards funding local government pensions (source: Taxpayers’ Alliance). With public sector pay now above the levels of those in equivalent jobs in the private sector and better job security, little wonder that questions are being asked. Some MP’s have been whining in recent days that they should not be expected to vote for less money in relation to their lavish expense allowances. Why not, the rest of us have not been given a choice?

Alistair Darling noted in his budget speech that there will be £15bn of “efficiency savings”. Note, these are not cuts, but efficiency savings. What I don’t understand is why they have only noted them now, any well run business would have an ongoing programme of efficiency measures designed to save money. If they are genuinely efficiency savings, then the government must hold its head in shame, because that is the equivalent of admitting that this government has presided over a massive programme of excess and/or waste. But lets call a spade a spade, it is not just efficiency savings that are needed, but cuts, real cuts. The Conservatives lack the courage to outline what they would cut, which leaves them open to any charge the Labour government wants to send their way, such as cuts in health and education. They (the Conservatives) should have the courage of their convictions and tell us what they will be, we know they are necessary, but scrapping the ID Cards system, whilst wholly sensible, does not cut the mustard. By contrast, the LibDems have highlighted some 8 or 9 areas they would cut. We all know that the LibDems won’t get enough support to form a government, but based on the fact that they are willing to put their stake in the ground and then fight their corner, they are demonstrating considerably more moral courage and conviction than their Conservative counterparts.

Because I don’t want to be accused of highlighting the problems, but not putting forward any solutions, the following would be my first port of call in terms of saving money. And, for the record, I would not be looking to increase direct taxation, since as I have already argued, the best stimulus this country could get, is the natural one provided by people spending their own money in the way they so choose.

  1. Scrap all database/unnecessary IT projects, including, but not necessarily limited to; the Communication Database, ContactPoint, the Travel Database, the NHS Database and the ID Card Scheme. Saving £105bn over the next 5 years. It is worth noting that over-runs on this Governments 8 largest projects total a staggering £18.6bn (source: Times & Computer Weekly). That’s right, this is just the over-runs, not the total cost!
  2. Scrap the ‘Tax Credit’ system and return to a simplified tax and benefits system that does not see people pay a higher rate of tax simply so they can fill a form in a claim it back as a tax credit. The same objective can be achieved by using personal allowances and a simple tax system. Minimum savings of £4bn per annum as a result of less fraudulent claims and errors (currently £2bn per annum), plus savings in process and administration.
  3. Can local council’s publicity machines, saving £430m per annum.
  4. Cancel the Child Trust Fund (Baby Bonds) programme, saving £470m per annum.
  5. Reduce International Development Aid budget by half. At this time, we can ill-afford to offer £billions in aid to other countries. Saving of £2.5bn per annum.
  6. Close down the Regional Development Agencies that have delivered little, if anything, for businesses in the UK. Annual saving of £2.1bn
  7. Reduce funding to the Scottish Assembly, the current ‘Barnett Formula’ is outdated and the amount paid allows people in Scotland to benefit from services that those in England cannot, such as free prescriptions and free care for the elderly. This is neither fair, nor equitable. The budget should be trimmed by at least 10% saving £2.6bn per annum.
  8. Withdraw automatic right to ‘sick pay’ for public sector workers. Savings £1.7bn
  9. Reduce the number of consultants used by various government departments by half. Saving £1.5bn per annum. Use the balance to recruit the skills that are necessary rather than pay inflated costs to outside companies.
  10. Reverse the increased cost of Quangos in the UK, which has risen by £41bn to £123bn. Saving £40bn per annum.
  11. Close tax loopholes which cost the UK Exchequer £8.5bn from High New Worth Individuals, £3bn from large companies and a further £7bn as a result of tax evasion and other activities. Total: £18.5bn

There are, of course, many other areas where our money is squandered, my particular suggestions would save approximately £70bn. Any halfway competent government, or government in waiting, could come up with a set of plans that could easily trim 5%-10% off government expenditure without necessary affecting front-line services. This could lead to savings of up to £60bn per annum. In fact, the European Central Bank found that if the UK’s public spending was as efficient as say, the USA or Japan, we could realise a saving of 16% without any cuts in front-line services, that is a whopping saving of £93bn per year. Throughout government there is duplication, waste, excess and abuse, this area should be tackled well before cuts in essential services are considered and this is what the opposition parties should be focusing on.

Posted in Conservatives, General, Labour, Lib Dems | Comments (4)

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