British Politics’s Blog

The ravings of an individual, UK voter frustrated with our politicians

Archive for April 2009

New Labour lies and contempt for the public

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No matter which way you try and paint it, New Labour have lied to the public. This, by virtue of the fact that they gave a commitment in their Manifesto not to raise income tax and then reneged on that promise, without a hint of embarrassment or self-doubt. So, if there was anyone out there that still believed New Labour was a party of honesty and integrity, then they only need to look at the fact that they have deliberately broken a contractual commitment with the public. A business would pay the price in the courts, this discredited government must pay the price at the ballot box, because we can never believe them again.

Alistair Darling is reported to have said, “I want to ensure that people inside this country can aspire to do as well as they can for themselves and their families – people want to ensure that if they do a hard day’s work, they get a reward for it.” Surely the irony of this statement is not lost on Mr Darling, given it was he that introduced a penal rate of tax for those that strive to do better for themselves and succeed. This is a tax on hard work, achievement, success, enterprise and entrepreneurship.

Darling went on to say that those with the “broadest shoulders” should pay more. By this he means anyone earning over £100k who will have been told they will lose their personal allowance incrementally to the point where it was vanish by the time they have earned £113,000 and, those earning over £150k, who will be charged 50% tax on all earnings over that threshold. But, as one commentator has already pointed out and, as Chancellor Mr Darling should know, these people already pay nearly 7 times more tax  (in cash terms) than the average British worker. Surely that means they are already shouldering a larger, if not disproportionate, slice of the £150bn income tax take? If our Chancellor cannot even count, then why on earth is he in such an important position?

No further evidence in need, New Labour now stands for broken promises and it is clear that the party no longer values effort, success or enterprise, instead New Labour see these aspects of human endeavour as something to be punished. New Labour don’t deserve to even be on the ballot box, much less governing this country. If they had any self-respect left, they would call an election now!

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David Cameron, we are listening!

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Okay, okay Mr Cameron, has got our attention, but precisely what is it he wants to say? The majority of the public know that, whatever Gordon Brown says, at some stage we will have to ‘cut our cloth’ in the form of a meaningful reduction in public spending. Moreover, we know that this must be sooner rather than later, otherwise we are all going to face some very hefty tax increases. However, no matter how eloquent David Cameron is on the podium, he must tell us what his plans are if we were to entrust his party with our votes.

Cameron is right to make clear that Conservarive Ministers would be judged on what they deliver, not who they know or how chummy they are with the press. Ministers will be required to deliver more for less, its not that difficult of course, the private sector has been doing it for years. Similarly, civil servants will be held to account, they too will have to deliver results. But, this is okay for a ‘vision’, but contrary to what Cameron thinks, this is NOT a plan and that is what we are all waiting for.

On Channel 4 news on Sunday, William Hague stated that the public do not want detailed policies from the Conservatibes, instead, he argued, we just want the vision. I would like to know who the hell he has been talking to, because everyone I know and talk to say that they want meat on the bones. David Cameron needs to understand that he is at serious risk of becoming yesterday’s man, because he is too frightened to tell us what his plans are. One thing is for certain, he does have some sort of plan, he just doesn’t want to share it with us….yet! However he is missing the point, as well as a golden opportunity. He has the public attention, now he must now use this fact to turn empty rhetoric into a deliverable action plan and then sell it to us. But why won’t he?

This is a missed opportunity and the biggest challenge he now faces is, we are all getting tired of being stalled, of waiting for that golden nugget that demonstrates in clear terms that his team is the one that should be trusted with our futures and votes. If he doesn’t move quickly, I suspect that he will start to lose the momentum he has gained, people will start to believe that he is unsure of himself, lacks confidence and self-belief and if that happens, no matter how far ahead in the polls he is, the Conservative party will lose. Few people want another week, much less another term of this pathetic New Labour government, however, we cannot afford to risk our futures with a party that lacks confidence, depth or ideas. Enough stalling Mr Cameron, tell us what you are going to do if, or when, we trust you enough to vote for your party.

Gordon Brown asked to resign

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It will probably make no difference at all, but Kalvis Jansons has created a new petition on the No.10 Downing Street website calling for Gordon Brown to resign. http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/please-go/

At least it is a chance for the many, many people that are at their wits end with him and his government, to have their views considered. I for one have already signed up and I would urge other to follow suit, maybe the Labour Party grandees will be reading.

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25 April, 2009 at 10:52 am

Why do we need SPADS in Politics?

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Ben Wright, Political Correspondent for BBC News makes a robust case for Special Advisers, also knownin Westminster as SPADS, but I am still not convinced. Since New Labour came to power, the number of SPADS has doubled and the cost to the taxpayer is close to £6m per annum, this is not small change. Although SPADS are employed as civil servants, unlike their colleagues, they do not have to be politically neutral. In other words, the public is expected to pay these special advisers who are, in effect, party political.

Of course you can expect a mixed bag of views from political journalists, given some will benefit from their relationships with special advisers and others will not. But that is precisely the point, these SPADS are in a position to influence media reports, in a way that MP’s simply cannot. An off the record briefing with a friendly journalist can, theoretically, lead to the destruction of a fellow MP’s career for party political reasons, all this at the taxpayers expense.

The whole point of the civil service is that it must be impartial. If MP’s feel the need to have special advisers, that are not bound to be impartial, then the cost must come out of their existing ‘allowances’ or central party funds, not the public sector payroll. SPADS, as we now know, are expendable, their job is to do the covert, unatributable work in politics, where a Cabinet Minister or MP cannot afford to get his or her hands dirty. If they succeed and don’t get caught, then they will likely be rewarded with a plumb job in the future. Officially, SPADS are supposed to be the conduit between politician’s and the civil service, but they would say that wouldn’t they? I suspect the reality is more in line with what has been exposed by recent events.

I know that politics is a dirty game, but most of it was done behind closed doors, now it has been exposed to the public. Even MP’s of the Labour Party have been quick to jump on the bandwagon, because many of them have been on the receiving end of negative briefings, more often than not, by a special adviser. This is not a time for a tightening of the code of conduct, it is a time for reflection. Politicians must decide, whether there can be any real justification for special advisers, at a cost of £6m.

Over recent weeks, politics has been damaged, we have witnessed a steady decline in the public’s trust and confidence in members of parliament and this needs to be reversed. Politicians from all sides must clean up their respective acts, SPADS must go, the generous expense allowances must be severely curtailed and brought in line with those of the private sector and every MP should be required to make a renewed public commitment that they serve the public, not themselves. That should be a legally enforceable contract, nothing less will do.

MP’s to use new ‘Reasonable Discretion’ law to avoid prosecution

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A draft Bill is due to get its second reading in Parliament on the 24th April 2009. This Bill is designed to exempt all public servants from prosecution, civil or criminal, if they can demonstrate Reasonable Discretion. In spite of the fact that this Bill, if drafted into law, will provide public servants with virtual immunity from prosecution, has anyone actually heard of it? Not me, that is for sure, so I would like to thank political blog, Power to the People, for highlighting this issue.

He is a summary of what the Bill (Exercise of Reasonable Discretion Bill 2008-09) aims to achieve:

The Bill aims to ensure that public authorities and public servants would not be subject to any criminal or civil penalty as a result of the exercise of reasonable discretion in the performance of their functions. Its provisions would cover public authorities, public servants and contracts for public services. The term public authority is defined by the Bill and includes the NHS, the police, local and central and devolved Government and non-departmental public bodies. The formal intent of the Bill is to indemnify public servants, central government, local government and other public agencies from legal action if they take decisions in good faith, as a result of the exercise of reasonable discretion, in the public interest.

The author of Power to the People says:

I would urge all fellow bloggers with an interest in justice to use their blogs to publicise this outrageous attempt provide public servants, especially MP’s with a ‘get out of jail free’ card. If this legislation gets through, as it undoubtedly will, then no public servant can truly be held accountable to the public, because a ‘good faith’ defence will always be available!

I am happy to oblige. Little wonder that more and more people believe that our Members of Parliament hold the public in such contempt.

Can Libertas pull it off?

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Personally I think Libertas may have left it a little too late to publicise the fact that they intend to field candidates in 27 countries in advance of this years European elections, but, I cannot fault their logic. The current system is so fragmented, with so many parties adopting nationalistic and ideological agendas, that consensus is a rare commodity. Little wonder then, that all new European laws continue to be proposed and drafted by unelected commissioners, with MEP’s expected to rubber stamp proposals. A party that spans all member countries makes sense, but I suspect Libertas will fail, not least because they lack high profile support and are seriously under-funded.

I do, however, like the fact that they want to recruit candidates from grassroots. I would also support a less bureaucratic European Union, with laws drafted by MEP’s rather than unelected, unaccountable commissioners. I also support their aim to have greater transparency on MEP’s expenses and for the scrapping or complete re-write of the Lisbon Treaty.  The reality is, whether we like it or not, we are in the European Union and that is unlikely to change, therefore we must make it work for us. However, Libertas needs a voice, high-profile backers and supporters as well as funding. Without that, a great idea is likely to come to nothing, but I guess, they can try again in 5 years.

Written by British Politics

6 April, 2009 at 4:07 pm

Voters must boot out self-serving MP’s

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Based on recent press reports, it is quite clear that many of the ‘honourable members’ are not as honourable as we every right to expect. When it comes to expenses, it seems that many MP’s see this as a right (as opposed to out of pocket expenses), something they are entitled to claim and money that they must and will use to supplement their income. Of course, when you have a system that has been designed by MP’s and is subsequently sanctioned and voted on by the same people, it is not too difficult to have an expense allowance programme that can be easily milked.

Now, far be it for me to suggest that any of the MP’s that are claiming a second home allowance are corrupt, clearly they are not that stupid, but I can say with virtual certainty, that in the court of public opinion, dipping into public funds in this way is insulting to the taxpayer and far from honourable. As a fellow blogger stated in a recent post, it is not the MP’s that are corrupt, but the system that they introduced and then vote in. Some would argue that there is little or no difference of course. However, those in power seem to be in no particular hurry to do anything about this gravy train. Why would they I hear you cry? Instead, it is proposed that another committee be convened, which will take too long, will doubtless have a limited remit and will almost certainly not judge, but instead, suggest higher salaries in place of the discredited allowance programme.

There are a few and I mean a few, members of parliament that have not been tempted to milk the system, but by and large, it would appear that the majority do. Senior members of the political elite appear to be the worst offenders. As voters, we must not forget that we are being fleeced at a time when we are having to tighten our belts, little wonder that the public finances are in such a state.

I believe every voter has an obligation to establish what their sitting MP has been doing. If they have been milking the system, then we must vote them out, regardless of the party they represent. There can be no place in politics for people that treat the public with such utter and complete contempt. If 61m are to permit just 648 people to represent our interests and create new laws, then trust must be 100%. Anything less is unacceptable. If MP’s cannot be trusted with public money, how on earth can we trust them with our security, well-being, economy, laws, liberty and general well-being.

The people of this country must not limit their sights to a reform of the corrupt series of allowances available to MP’s. We must go much further. What we need is a wholesale reform of the political system that will allow the constituents to boot out MP’s if they fail to deliver, not just the party hierarchy. The people of this country must, once again, take charge.  I am not suggesting anarchy, just that we must make a stand, ensure that our voices are heard loud and clear.  Because, above all, we need a system that allows ‘real’ people to stand for office, not simply those that are selected based on their race, their gender, who they know, who they are related to, which union they worked for, who they went to school with or their public profile.

The public are getting angry…it is time for a change to our political system and politicians of all parties would be well advised to remember that they rule by consent, not as a right. The trust and confidence in politicians is an an all time low, instead of being shame-faced when they are caught out or fail to deliver, politicians are brazen, almost arrogant. Jacqui Smith’s 10,000 Tasers will not have much affect if 61m people start to get restless. This Government and most of our MP’s shepherded us into an economic mess, they were paid to PROTECT our interests and they failed (yes, I know we must also shoulder some of the responsibility), they now risk making another mistake, that is to ignore the will of the people. It will not be so easy to shrug off the effects of a disaffected and angry majority.