Sunday, 30 May 2010


“There are MPs who flipped one property to the next, buying property, paid by you, the taxpayer, and then they would do the properties up, paid for by you, and pocket the difference in personal profit.’’
Nicholas, son of Nicholas, Liberal Democrat leader and Deputy Dawg to Prime Minister Cameron, Party Leaders' Debate, April 2010

"Last night Mr [Danny] Alexander [New Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury] admitted that he took advantage of a loophole to legally avoid paying CGT on the sale of the south London property in June 2007."
The Daily Telegraph, May 31st, 2010

I take it Her Majesty's Government, on behalf of us, the people, will be accepting Mr. Alexander's resignation very soon?


Saturday, 29 May 2010

An Open Letter From Keir To Cheryl Gillan

This blog has decided to try and contact the new Secretary of State for Wales, Cheryl Gillan, in an entirely non-partisan way, to question her about the legitimacy of her not being granted membership to Cabinet Committees that make important decisions that relate to the people of Wales.

Though, somewhat cynically, not expecting a response, the least we can do is try.

Here is a transcript of the message:

Secretary of State,

I am writing to request that you make the case to your Prime Minister to have you given membership to more of the Cabinet Committees that deal with issues relevant to Wales.

I feel that having a representative for Wales on only one Cabinet Committee is a tragic under-representation of a significant part of the United Kingdom that is in particular need of economic and social assistance at this point in time.

As your Party Manifesto showed, Wales has only a 4% share of the entire United Kingdom economy. This, coupled with the fact that 30% of the Welsh working population is employed in the public sector, means that Wales is in a potentially dangerous position in light of the recent political and economic announcements.

I found it shocking that you were not given membership to two of the other Committees in particular: the Economic Affairs Committee and the European Affairs Committee. The reason for my shock is that these Cabinet Committees will make decisions in policy areas that are extremely important to Wales. Firstly, as I previously mentioned, Wales’ share of the UK economy means that Wales needs particular attention when considering Economic Affairs. Only one region, the North East of England, has a lower share of the UK economy than Wales so I think it is extremely important that you, as Secretary of State for Wales, should have membership on the Economic Affairs Committee. Just to highlight the regional disparity, the South East of England has a 14% share of the UK economy, London has a 21% share and the North West of England has a 10% share. In addition, the amount of people employed in the public sector in Wales is around 5% higher than the national average, meaning the public sector cuts are likely to be more damaging to Wales than they will be to the country as a whole. This, too, makes me believe that your place on this Committee should be essential.

The reasons that I think you should be granted membership to the European Affairs Committee are also, I feel, quite clear. Wales has benefitted tremendously from links to the European Union in recent years. Swansea, as I am sure you are well aware, has seen a significant rebirth of late and that has been largely down to EU funding. The development at Cardiff Bay, similarly, has been helped by EU money. Also, Wales has received around £1.3billion in recent years from the EU in order to boost the economic growth and prosperity in West Wales and the Valleys in order to try to close the gaps in regional prosperity. For our tourist industry, the EU has helped raise the quality of over 40 beaches so that they meet Blue Flag standards and has given business grants to Stena Line Ports so that it can develop ports in Wales to boost tourism and also trade in general.

I sincerely hope that you can give me a response to these issues and, at least, give me your thoughts on the arguments that I have raised. I feel these are incredibly important issues for the people of Wales and, as the representative for Wales in the Cabinet; you should have a key role to play.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Keir will seek the support of prominent bloggers to highlight this issue and will, of course, report back on any developments, whilst not expecting any at all.

David Laws cont.....

Further to the previous post regarding David Laws; a note on the outcome.

David Laws, remember, claimed money in a manner contrary to the rules set out. He paid money to his partner for accommodation which he then claimed back on the taxpayer.

His resignation letter to David Cameron reeks of cowardice and a lack of awareness about the public's view of politics:

"I cannot now escape the conclusion that what I have done was in some way wrong, even though I did not gain any financial benefit from keeping my relationship secret in this way."

That is the sort of avoidance of full responsibility that the public have grown to despise in our politicians. How ambiguous can you be about accepting that you have broken the law?

It's an utter disgrace. The man is a crook. He has fiddled his expenses and robbed the taxpayer of money whilst he, with his millionaire status, preaches to us about economic prudence. The Tory sympathy for this man on the blogosphere, amongst Twitterati and from the politicians themselves is nothing short of despicable.

And what of His Royal Holier-Than-The-Political-Establishment Highness Nick Clegg? He claimed that Laws has had "...his privacy cruelly shattered". Yes, he has. But it is absolutely in the public interest. The same "public interest" that Clegg and Cameron would not shut up about last week when declaring their political marriage.

His resignation is not courageous; it is a great triumph for the people of this country who have clearly indicated that they are unwilling to let their politicians get away with such corruption. That is the only reason Laws resigned: not because he felt he was wrong.

And look, I've said all that without mentioning the fact that he's gay. Could that be because it is totally irrelevant?


Oh dear David

Somewhere in the first half of 'The Blair Years', extracts Alastair Campbell's diaries released a few years ago, Campbell writes about a phone call he received in August 1997 from the News of the World, informing him that they would be running a story about Robin Cook's affair: 'your first sex scandal' Keir thinks, from memory, the line is.

It took Labour four months and it has taken the Coalition less than a month! Arise David Laws, the man variously described as a Tories favourite Liberal and a 'Bond villain'

But the David Laws story is much more than just a sex scandal. It is upsetting in the sense that Laws felt uncomfortable coming out, it is also upsetting that Laws has well and truly thrown his boyfriend under the bus to save himself, but more of that later.

So what is the story? To put it simply: a homosexual cabinet minister (who is, incidentally, a millionaire) in an attempt to hide his sexuality continues to claim rent for a second home when he is, in fact, living with his partner (claiming for rent to pay spouse or partner is forbidden). Said cabinet minister has defended himself by saying that he never really considered his partner as, well, his partner, pointing out that they didn't have shared bank accounts or shared social lives.

The definition of a partner? 'one of a couple… who although not married to each other or civil partners are living together and treat each other as spouses'.

So why the need to hide then, isn't that the crux of a relationship? If James Lundie didn't fill that definition then, well, he's not his partner and they are not in a relationship!

Keir has had several partners and has 'treated [them] as spouses', but has never had shared bank accounts with them and has always retained 'separate social lives'. Keir's parents have been married for almost 30 years, and have separate bank accounts. It is an odd defence, a defence that seems to be cobbled together and have no consideration for his long term boyfriend who, if it was Keir, would certainly be a bit upset at being described as not a partner!

So what should Laws do?

Keir is rather depressed that the expenses issue has dragged on. Keir also notes Clegg and Cleggerer's often repeated mantra prior to the election "...this discredited parliament", and Clegg's sanctimony on expenses. (Incidentally, Laws took this holier than thou approach in a press release on his website in the midst of the expenses storm)

Should he resign? In a perfect world, yes. Financial impropriety like this definitely discredits the man responsible for telling us proles how many jobs are going to be lost. It also, hopefully, punctures the balloon of 'new politics', of 'change'. Keir thinks he will survive, just about. Keir does idly wonder if this might have had anything to do with his no show on the Campbell dominated QT on Thursday?

One thing Keir is confident of is that if James Lundie was Julie Lundie there would not be this discussion. Equality works two ways.

UPDATE @ 18.42: Looks like Keir was wrong, Ever reliable Iain Dale, Tim Montgomery, and even the lovely Sally Bercow are all twittering that Laws has gone, possibly to be replaced by Chris Huhne or Jeremy Browne. The BBC are yet to pick up...

Friday, 28 May 2010

Keir Is One Welsh Step Ahead

Thanks to Left Foot Forward and WalesOnline for confirming what this small-town blog said a week earlier. We're not ones to brag, but what the hell. Everyone else does. We can guarantee that if it had been Iain Dale making an accurate observation of this sort, there'd be a party for all fellow Toryphiles which would have been hosted at an English country house covered in pictures of the new Tory hero David Laws.

Sadly, he rarely gets a chance to call upon such accurate observations of the political scene.

Bragging over, back to the Westminster stifling of Wales.

News of the Cabinet Committee membership was revealed a couple of days back and I have been trying to figure out a way of describing the farce without coming over all rage-fuelled Welsh-barbarian. So, anger slightly diluted, here goes.

The fact that Cheryl Gillan, MP for Chesham and Amersham and Secretary of State for Wales (yes, really), has only been granted membership to one Cabinet Committee is an act of pure ignorance and insult. The new Conservative government (yes, it is) rode the crest of a "new politics" wave, yet has simultaneously reduced the representation of Wales and females in their new Cabinet Committees. Scottish Secretary Danny Alexander has 8 memberships. Fair? Free? Respectful? They were the buzz-words of the new government.

Let us also consider the fact that some of the Committees that Gillan hasn't been given membership on are very relevant to Wales. Her one membership was for the Home Affairs Committee. Fair enough. But why isn't she on the Economic Affairs Committee? Danny Alexander is. As has been pointed out in previous posts, Wales has the second-lowest percentage share of the UK economy (4%; the North East is lowest with 3%) and needs urgent economic growth considering that the public sector cuts will hit Wales disproportionately harder than most areas. I would therefore consider a Welsh voice on the Cabinet Committee for Economic Affairs to be pretty important for the people of Wales.

She is also not on the European Affairs Committee. Again, Danny Alexander got a seat on this Committee. And it is wholly relevant to Wales. Swansea has recently had help from EU funding which has basically seen the city reborn. The amazing development at Cardiff Bay was helped not too modestly by EU funds. The EU has helped raise the standards of over 40 beaches in Wales so that they meet its Blue Flag standard. We've received £1.3 billion from the EU to help the development of the Valleys in order to decrease regional gaps in prosperity. And all of this is before we take into consideration the trade benefits that Wales receives as a result of "European Affairs". Why does Wales therefore not have a seat on this Committee? Can we rely on a Eurosceptic government to take into account Wales when considering European Affairs if there is nobody present to represent her?

She will also not be on the Parliamentary Business and Legislation Committee, though she will kindly be sent minutes. Wow. As this Committee would, I assume, deal with a lot of matters regarding devolution, I reckon her presence might be relevant.

It has been 25 years or so since the wicked witch ransacked Wales, but the new Conservative regime clearly has the same lack of desire to see Wales and its people prosper. Welsh MPs must take up the fight in parliament.


Thursday, 27 May 2010

The Independent? Melodramatic? Nooo....

I know the Indy has a complex that means it has to try and be as dramatic as possible on its front page on as many days as possible for fear of losing its identity, but really....

Are they, like Nick Clegg, so dense to think that our political system has somehow magically reformed over the past few weeks? We have a Conservative government (yes, we do) that, amongst other things in its recent axe-wielding-fetish assault on our lives, scrapped government grants that would provide "green" jobs in deprived parts of the country at companies like Nissan. A Conservative government that is more concerned with getting toffs back on horseback so that they can train dogs to shred foxes with their teeth, than it is with creating wind-farms that would not only provide cleaner energy, but also more manufacturing jobs in parts of the country such as Wales and the North East that desperately need jobs to increase the 4% and 3% share of the UK economy that the Conservative Party manifesto pointed out they have.

I have the utmost respect for Caroline Lucas, but she's not going to force green issues onto the agenda of the assortment of dinosaurs, rich kids and homophobes on the government benches.

And maybe once the Independent and Nick Clegg stop gushing at the less-than-minuscule reform that is a referendum on AV, we can get back to discussing the inadequacies of our rotting electoral system.


One that sneaked in under the radar... the vein of '...It's political correctness gone mad!'

At the beginning of the week, Keir's favourite toilet paper published this story
A toddler was ordered off a bus because the foreign driver was 'offended' by his England football T-shirt, his mother has claimed.
Sam Fardon, 27, was allegedly told to get off the service with her sons Dylan, two, and 10-week-old Adam as they made their way to a childcare group.
The unnamed driver, who had a Polish or Eastern European accent, said Dylan's white England shirt was 'offensive' and he threatened to turf the family out on the street.
Obviously the Fail didn't do the most cursory background check, or even speak to the Bus company before running with the story, because if they had, they would not only have discovered that the mother is a thief but also that FirstGroup had no bus driver in the area fitting that description, and had been unable to get in contact with the liar, sorry, the aggrieved party to discuss the event.

Keir wonders what attracted the Mail to the story? Could it be "...who had a [xyz] accent..."? No, it wouldn't be!!!

Obviously the Heil will be running a retraction and apology, you couldn't make it up!

Leadership Roundup

The week of the State Opening of Parliament sees both Milibands safely on the ballot, with Ed Balls surely to join them pretty soon.

Andy Burnham seems becalmed in the teens, while Diane Abbot and John McDonnell have seemingly insurmountable obstacles to reaching 33. For the sake of credibility, Keir hopes that the NEC doesn't relax the rules on nominating numbers.

The second bit of good news for Ed Balls is that Mrs Balls has now nominated him. I'm sure dinner times are more relaxed...

Off the top of his head, Keir thinks there is about 110-120 MPs yet to nominate...

Gareth Keenan

So Vince Cable resigned as Deputy-Leader of the Lib Dems last night.

Already the markets favourite to be the first Government Minister to pack it in, when a friend text Keir he was kicking himself that he hadn't put money on. But lo, St. Vince is only stepping down as Deputy Leader.

Many in the right wing blogosphere (with the Libs in it now it seems a bit odd to refer to it as that: maybe 'government blogosphere' would be better?) are of the view that maybe it is too much work? Keir doubts that. Keir thinks that St. Vince is distancing himself from Clegg, keeping his head down and getting down to the task at hand; because when the Coalition falls apart, its most vocal cheerleaders are going to get stabbed in the back quicker than you can say dissolution.

Vince' I was just following orders' Cable will be nowhere near as tarnished as Clegg or David Laws...

That or he realised that like Gareth Keenan, he was now only Assistant to the Regional Manager, I mean, Assistant to the Deputy Prime Minister.

Nicky C's public profile has shot up rather dramatically, Cable is no longer the public face of the Liberal Democrats...

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Nightmare On Downing Street

Is there something of the Lee Harvey Oswald about the Liberal Democrats?

I think the analogy fits. You know how the theory goes. Triangulated cross-fire: various teams of shooters home in on the target, and one sacrificial lamb. “I’m just a patsy!” as Oswald put it. The gunmen could have been anywhere; the County Records building, the grassy knoll, the Texas School Book Depository. It doesn’t matter. All that matters is that the attention is diverted to the patsy.

And so we have it. The Conservative Party fixed on their target which is, essentially, us. The shots come in from everywhere: Gideon from the Treasury, Cameron from Number 10. Clarke, May and Gove send in their bullets too, attacking all that we have built in the education system and in our advances in equality. If one misses, just like the bullet that missed on Dealey Plaza back in 1963, you can be sure the others will strike us right in the neck or, worse, pretty much decapitate us. If the abolition of the Future Jobs Fund doesn’t impact you, the abolition of the Child Trust Fund will. Or even the Whitehall and public sector cuts may take your job from you.

But how do they get away with it? How will the public’s attention be diverted?

Cue: the patsy. “But Clegg sold out on voting reform”... “Cable sold out on his economic policies”.

And there you have it. The media goes wild. “Don’t be stupid”, they’ll say when you speak up about the cuts, “they need to happen.” And then their focus turns to Clegg the sell-out. They show us, sinisterly, how Clegg, Cable and Laws went back on their previous stance. And in ‘63? The focus was on Oswald: his background, pictures of him holding the gun, stories of his defection to the Soviet Union. And the conspiracy theorists, like those of us who bemoan the politically-motivated cuts, are called lunatics, naive and lacking in knowledge.

There are two losers on each side of the analogy. In 1963, John F. Kennedy was one of them; taken away in a coffin along with the hopes of millions of Americans and even millions of people around the world. And Oswald was the other. Oswald was charged, tried and sentenced the minute he was dragged out of a cinema, pleading ignorance and innocence and ended up being shot in cold blood. His demise preceded any chance he had to defend himself. In 2010, we are Kennedy and the Liberal Democrats take up the role of Oswald. We are the ones battered by the cuts and with our futures thrown into uncertainty. The Liberals are hung out to dry with their reputation in tatters. The patsies, the sacrificial lambs, slaughtered by the Conservative Party so that they can get away with their crime. Just like Oswald, they are pictured with their offending weapon: their previous political stance.

They too, will surely be shot down.

Luckily, I think the analogy ends when we consider when the true criminals will be able to be held to account. The final wave of JFK assassination documents are to be released in 2017, some 54 years after the event. I am sure that we can rely on our public at large and the rejuvenated Labour Party to hold the real criminals to account in far less than a tenth of that time.

We can tell the public now that getting rid of the Future Jobs Fund is a politically-motivated attack on people's chances of finding a job in this tumultuous economic climate. And we can ask them how they can fund a Border Police Force but not a Child Trust Fund scheme. We can tell them now that "free schools" is a policy that will only benefit the rich and that socially deprived areas where education does need to improve are not brimming with people who have enough spare time on their hands to start and run a new school; they need the state to provide them with the basic right of a good education. And we can also tell them now that any affronts to our democracy in the form of the proposed 55% rule will not reach the statute book.


Monday, 24 May 2010

Gideon's Guillotine: A Blessing In (really good) Disguise?

So the moment we’ve all been waiting for finally arrived with Gideon announcing his spending cuts. This man, the heir to the Osbourne baronetcy of the Anglo-Irish aristocracy, has told poor families, amongst other things, that they can’t have the small offerings from the state when they have children.

Of course, we always knew the cuts were coming. So there is no real shock. This merely confirms the madness that is Gideon’s economics brain. “Let’s get the economy moving”, said his buddy Dave at, seemingly, every single media appearance he did. So Gideon proposes to do that by cutting the Future Jobs Fund. “Unemployed for 6 months? Keep on lookin’, baby”. That’ll get the economy moving alright. Of course, as Alastair Darling has said, the Conservative government hasn’t detailed the impact that this will have on people. The announcements are full of big numbers and political language for now. There is no detail about how many jobs will be lost. Let’s just assume that it will be a lot.

How about a quick, speculative, look at how this could impact voters. Let us imagine that these cuts will have a more detrimental impact on the poor. It’s easy to imagine, really, as it is a Conservative government after all. According to preliminary IPSOS-MORI data, Labour lost masses of voters from the traditional base of the working class. 11% of C2 voters and 8% of DE voters did not “come home to Labour” on May 6th. These are low-income families, probably affected by unemployment. They are likely to benefit from Child Tax Credits and one of their pathways to a job would have been the Future Jobs Fund. If someone has been unemployed for 4 months, they could have got some guaranteed help in two months time. Not anymore. These people will have been disenchanted with Labour given that their situation was showing no signs of getting better. Well, under this Conservative government their situation, if anything, will get worse. Labour has to re-connect with these voters. Margaret Hodge and Andy Burnham offered methods to do this at the recent Progress Conference and Labour campaigners have to learn from both of them, in particular Hodge. And we need to re-connect now. Left Foot Forward editor Will Straw, also at the Progress event, spoke about how we should be out on the doorsteps already, showing people we don’t only care when we need their votes. Straw suggests we utilise the (hopefully) lovely weather of the summer to get back in touch with our voters.

Still, let’s see how it goes and hope that the lower classes don’t get hit as hard as it seems they will.


UPDATE: I defer to @martin_oneill for better ironic explanation of the context of Osbourne's cuts.


Thursday, 20 May 2010

Do Not Let The Olive Branch Fall

Sometimes it is possible that we are too obsessed with our own little island. We can think about ourselves too much. Not so for the forces of unfairness though, whose tentacles continue to sprawl throughout the world. An example of which comes with the recent news that the UN seems likely to enforce further sanctions on Iran, whilst it lets Israel get away with murder in the totally non-figurative sense.

If the international community has judged Iranian premier Ahmadinejad’s uranium fetish as worthy of sanctions then I am more than happy. However, unless it starts giving Israel the same strict treatment it will not curb the anger of people like Ahmadinejad. His assertion that Israel be “wiped off the face of the earth" was met with hypocritical hysteria in the Western media considering that the Western world watches as Israel tries to do just that to Palestine.

Amongst other things, the Zionist state has disobeyed the global community on Resolution 1701, Resolution 1860, the use of illegal chemical weapons, the repeated calls to stop the building of illegal settlements and the International Court of Justice’s clear judgement that the West Bank wall was illegal. Indeed, they breached Resolution 1701 twice within 2 months of its inception and the then-PM Ehud Olmert declared that Resolution 1860 was “unworkable”. The settlements being built by Israel also breach a number of UN Resolutions. Considering Israel is bound by the UN Charter to accept all resolutions put forward by the Security Council, it is outrageous that not a single sanction has been put on the state.

In addition to this utterly outrageous behaviour, Israeli groups are saying that the Palestinian Authority’s decision to encourage a boycott of Israeli goods produced in the illegal settlements is, “economic terrorism”. Give me strength!

The media have their part to play. The impact they have had on humanitarian crises in Rwanda and Somalia, to name but two, is well known. However, until the powerful Jewish lobby is stood up to, the likes of CNN will surely never dare to criticise the Zionist state.

Another pathway to peace would come in the form of formidable leadership in Israel. But the next Yitzhak Rabin does not appear to be forthcoming. It therefore falls to he governments of the world. It seems to me that Western governments, preoccupied with the powerful lobbies, are missing one huge point; one huge opportunity. We rightly consider people like Captain Hook Abu Hamza, Osama bin Laden and, maybe, Ahmadinejad to be mentalists, but there is one thing that binds them to the “ordinary” Muslim: a total disdain for what is happening to the Palestinian people that they consider to be their brothers and sisters. Call it politicking or populism if you wish, but any party in Britain that actively supports the Palestinian people, along the line of UN Resolutions and therefore totally lawfully and reasonably, would enjoy the votes of masses of Muslim people who are upset by events in Palestine. I am not suggesting that Muslims are one homogenous political group, but from campaign experience and general observation, it is a big issue to Muslims. At the same time, it would go some way to calming the anger of the extremists who, time and time again in their recorded videos, mention these disgraceful events on the eastern tip of the Mediterranean Sea. And, of course, it is not just Muslim people who are outraged by the events. Last weekend saw a large protest on Whitehall by pro-Palestinian groups. The faces of the people were a variety of colours.

How many European governments would it take to produce a call strong enough to make Israel simply follow the law of the world? If the UK, Germany and France, all benefactors of industrious Islamic immigrants over the ages, spoke out and took a firmer stance, demanding Israel obey Resolutions, would President Obama feel bold enough to take on the lobby?


Leadership News

Four bits of news today:
  1. Andy Burnham is in: Expected, it was heavily trailed last night. Keir used to be a fan but after reading his article in the Mirror, watching his interview on the Daily Politics, and looking at his odd website placeholder he is not so sure.
  2. The nominations period has been extended to 9th June from 27th May, giving prospective candidates more chance to canvas the PLP. This move was supported by McDonnell, Milliband E and the unexpected candidate. Keir struggles to understand why such a tight time-scale was imposed in the first place.
  3. Diane Abbott, Britain's first black female MP and Michael Portillo's best friend, has, surprisingly, also got involved. Like McDonnell she is in it for the 'debate'. Keir thinks there is a chance that she could split the anti-New Labour vote with McDonnell and keep them both off the ballot.
  4. David Miliband is now up to 32 supporters in the PLP, so is the first candidate to be definitely on the ballot. (He needs one more, but Keir doubts that will be long in coming).
Oh, and look at Ed Balls list of supporters...anyone rather significant missing...?

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Ol' Blue Hands

Hail: Nicholas William Peter Clegg. His name will rank in the annals of History alongside the forces of progress like William Wilberforce, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and Abraham Lincoln.

For Nicholas, son of Nicholas, has declared the most ambitious proposals for political reform since the Great Reform Act of 1832. Students of history will recall the Act as groundbreaking, nay earth-shattering, in its implications on the future of democracy in this ancient land. The platform was laid for future reform that empowered the people of this country. In the Act, the franchise was extended from the nobility to some of the under-represented townsfolk.

And now, 178 years after this revolution in our democracy, Clegg of Sheffield Hallam has put forward similarly groundbreaking proposals for reform....

BOOM! A bonfire of unnecessary laws

POW! Regulation of Closed Circuit Television

WALLOP! Parental permission requirements to take schoolchildren’s fingerprints

CRASH! Scrapping of the ID card scheme.

Quiver, O Establishment.

Pathetic. These proposals are less Wilberforce, more Duncan-Smith. Clegg’s inflated impression of his importance is now right up there with Iain Dale’s. I do not want to turn this into an History lesson but, digging into my brain, I’d suggest 2 things since 1832 that have happened to our politics:

The 1928 Representation of the People Act

The 1911 Parliament Act

There are probably plenty more and some are probably even more important, so excuse anything that didn't come to mind whilst writing this in anger. But I would say that the end of the veto of the House of Lords over Bills originating in the Commons is slightly more important than the regulation of CCTV. Establishing the primacy of the House of Commons, now a fundamental element of our constitutional arrangement, is probably more of an important reform than the “reviewing of libel laws”. I’d even say that Tony Blair’s moves to increase the amount of women in the Commons were more important than Clegg’s earth-moving proposals. And what of devolution? Another Labour move, another Blair move, another move more important than “a block on pointless new criminal offences”.

Clegg has been convinced that he has a role in this government by the Conservatives, despite the revelation yesterday that 90% of the budget allocation would be controlled by Conservative ministers. In addition, this declaration of his place in the history of the progressive reform of our democracy is somewhat odd considering that he supports the new 55% rule proposed by the Tories as a move that would ensure stability. We’re all “missing the point”, he reckons. This conniving slight on our democratic process would be a massively regressive move for our constitution, making Clegg’s claims to be a champion of progress utterly ridiculous.

In addition to his vile declaration of self-importance, sickening were Clegg’s comments about his latest revelation. “What I’m discovering”, said former-Europhile-and-former-Tory-hater Clegg, “is we’ve been using different words for a long time – it actually means the same thing. Liberalism; Big Society.” So, for 3 years, either Clegg hasn’t realised that different words can mean the same thing, he’s talking total bollocks or, as our picture shows, he's turning blue. Either way, they are not characteristics we want of anyone in Government, let alone the deputy PM.


How does he do it?

How How How?

Tuesday, 18 May 2010


OK, so Keir promised no more bitterness...

But this has got to be one of the most fantastic contradictions of the Coalition's two front men.

Nick Clegg, this morning:
"[Big Society]...will be radical change that puts power back into the hands of the bringing down vested interest and giving people real control over the lives we build in a Britain that is fair."
Nick Clegg, in Cardiff, during the election campaign:
"We are in the futures business, the Tories are in the risk business...'Big Society' is just a front to launch public service cuts. It's DIY, you're on your own public services. Like a lot about todays Tory Party, Big Society sounds nice enough, it looks fine, but scratch beneath the surface and it is the same Tory Party of old. To govern is to choose and they have their priorities wrong."
Considering the bile poured on the Labour Party for 'spin', it is absolutely hilarious. Either a. Clegg is lying about what his real opinion of the 'Big Society' is, or b. He has been won over by David's persuasive charms.

If it's a, then he really is a power grabbing, vacuous waste of space, and if it's b, Keir feels for the countless millions who voted for a man who clearly has so few convictions and principles he is willing to change his mind so dramatically.

How can Cameron believe a word Clegg is saying: it's like the Jeremy Kyle conundrum: he has cheated on his partner and left her for you. Why shouldn't you think he is going to do the exact same thing to you? Jeremy says it is paranoia, and normally puts it down to a drug/alcohol problem. But for Dave, this is the reality of government.

(HT to Red Rag)

More candidates

Sky is reporting that Ed Balls will announce that he intends to stand for the Labour leadership tomorrow. He has been added to the fancy new page detailing each declared candidates PLP support.

John McDonnell has seems to be proceeding as if he is going to stand, although Keir isn't sure whether calling the election 'discredited' is the best way to start on the way to the holy grail of 33 nominating MPs. (Especially when nobody really wants to vote for Michael Foot Mk2)

Bercow Re-Elected

John Bercow re-elected as Speaker of the House of Commons. Somewhere, I'm sure, Iain Dale winces.

Keir could, however, hear Mad Nad's shrieking from the backbenches.

Clegg looks a bit embarrassed to be sitting where he is, actually. Will there be a scuffle when Gideon is there?

Just what we need! A good old ding-dong at the heart of government between Nicky and Gideon over who can sit next to Little Dave! (They could, of course, ask Willy to move but they're scared of him because he's a Comp' kid!)

Incidentally: PoliticsHome has the email Mad Nad sent around MPs, and Dale did have a point: the Emperor Ming was in the list of names of possible speakers; and I wouldn't suppose that happened without his permission, nor without the knowledge of the Government front bench. (see above, it is like a nightmare, but that is what it really looks like!)

Does make things interesting.

Wales' Most Wanted

So PM Dave took his first trip to the glorious land where the ancient Britons once dwelled. Having left the homeland recently, I have had the opportunity to “look in” from the outside. Maybe it is sentimentality or my daily craving for my own country, but I fear for Wales under this Tory administration.

I vividly remember the stories from childhood about what Thatcher and her disciples did to our beautiful land and its stoic men and women. Tales of hospital closures, school degradation, stealing milk from young schoolchildren and political war with our working men became like religious tales of Good v Evil. Thatcher was the devil.

Also vivid in my recollection is my horror and anger at turning to page 22 (page 122 on pdf) of my “Invitation to Join the Government of Britain”. In a map of the UK, regions are sized according to their share of the national economy. I could not believe the nerve that the Tories had to point out that Wales and the North East had a 3% and 4% share of the UK economy respectively. It is their fault that these areas have not flourished! And whereas Labour had some policies in their manifesto to provide new industries to create jobs in Wales and the North East, the Tories seem to offer no solution to the problem that they caused when they ruined the lives and prospects of thousands of Welsh families. Indeed, the only promises they make will create huge problems for Wales.

We know that the Tories are going to decimate our public services, but this is even more of a problem in Wales where some 30% of the population are employed in the public sector. The percentage of people employed in public administration, education and health in Wales is roughly 5% higher than the national average (thanks Online Percentage Calculator). This clearly means that Wales will be disproportionately impacted, negatively, by the Tory cuts. I therefore can’t understand the logic of the Tory map showing Wales’ relative lack of productivity and economic prosperity when their policies are just going to drive the country to further ruin. Maybe they were showing off? “Look what we can dooooo with power!”

Will “Thatcher v The Miners” be emulated by “Thatcher’s Bastard Children v Public Sector Unions”? Well, with a strong representative for Wales, maybe we will be okay?

Enter Stage Right: Cheryl Gillan. Our new Secretary of State for Wales is an MP representing a part of the country where all bodily fluids run the colour blue. Born in Cardiff, she left Wales aged 11 and has not represented a single Welsh person’s interest in Parliament since; deciding instead to represent a constituency that would have benefitted immensely from the Welsh work ethic during the Industrial Revolution. So that’s a great start.


Monday, 17 May 2010

Mad Nad Fails

Well, Miss Dorries, who already is facing an enquiry into £10,000 of expenses she claimed to 'research and media services', it seems is going to lose out in her wish to see Speaker of the House, John Bercow, deposed.

In a Daily Fail article she wrote on the 16th of May, Mad Nad says that:
The Speaker will need to be authoritative, wise, knowledgeable and command the respect of the chamber. He will need gravitas and principle. In the forthcoming days of the coalition he will also need to be totally impartial.
She then claims that Bercow fulfils none of these criteria. Keir's not sure why not, but she uses a mixture of criticism of his wife and his desire not to wear the finery of office (apparently it reduces his gravitas and authority) to back up her argument.

Well it turns out she won't get her way: Patrick Wintour, in tomorrow's Guardian will state:
Opposition to Bercow is led by backbencher Dorries who claims Bercow failed to uphold the Speaker's "great tradition of authority, control and impartiality".

But Bercow has the support of both Nick Clegg and David Cameron, as well as the interim Labour leader, Harriet Harman.

One source said that if 20 or 30 MPs did vote against Bercow, more than most people predict, the outcome "will be cathartic, forcing a small parliamentary mujahideen to recognise finally that Bercow is legitimate figure".
Now Keir is not a big fan of Bercow, but he's even less of a fan of a self centred, self obsessed Conservative MP, who, whilst taking part in 'Tower Block of Commons' for C4, allegedly offered temazepan to single mothers she stayed with.

Keir will eat his beard if Bercow is defeated.

Edit: But if Iain Dale (worst Parliamentary candidate in history [tm]) is right, then maybe Keir will be seasoning his facial hair.


Keir is a bit wary of Facebook and petitions at the best of times, but this one does seem to have some legs?

How can this woman be an 'Equalities' Minister.

(I guess though, you could ask the same question about Cheryl Gillan and her position in the Welsh Office)

New Politics?

Yeah, so, ummmmm... Budget Responsibility, how's that working out?

Chris, Chris, Chriiiiiis?

So that's where the ignorant, misleading, former Shadow Home Secretary is...

(Probably) The last mention of doublecrossing Lib Dems

Keir is not bitter about the Liberal Democrats joining the Tories, well, not much, anyway, and thinks that opposition is probably the best place for the Party at the moment.

One thing that Keir does find amusing however is the bottomless pit of of contradiction that the Coalition is built over, and this was obliquely reference by Cameron during their love-in in the 'Rose Garden'.

Keir finds himself agreeing with Cameron, shock horror, in that journalists really should have something better to do than dig up these statements. However, just because these comments aren't reported 1. Doesn't mean they didn't happen, and 2. Didn't, and doesn't, mean, that's what the members of both party real felt, and probably still feel.

Keir's favourite is something the Deputy Prime Minister said in 2008, and as far as he knows, has only got purchase in the blogosphere and amongst the Twitterati so far.

In Cleggy's first leadership speech at Liverpool, in 2008:

The day before I was elected leader, Mr Cameron suggested we join them.

He talked about a “progressive alliance”.

This talk of alliances comes up a lot, doesn’t it?

Everyone wants to be in our gang.

So I want to make something very clear today.

Will I ever join a Conservative government?


Will I ever join a Labour government?


I will never allow the Liberal Democrats to be a mere annex to another party's agenda.

Waaaaaaait a minuteeeee!

The Return

Well Hello there. Again.

The eagle-eyed amongst you may have noticed that Keir has been pretty quiet for a few months. The real world and the glorious General Election campaign have been unfortunate, but pleasant interruptions.

But Keir could not and would not be quiet forever.

After all, now we have a ‘new’ politics, in which all our worst fears about the Liberal Democrats have come true. Keir and LetUsFaceTheFuture return with a vengeance, and will be commenting on the impending Labour leadership race, as well as the ‘ConDem’ (that is getting a bit old) Coalition we now find ourselves saddled with.

Onward Comrades.

Mili's Message

Upon hearing Ed Miliband’s impassioned pitch for our support for his leadership bid, I was greatly and pleasantly surprised. This is a guy who I built up a lot of faith in pre-Copenhagen ’09, only to be disappointed and deflated by the eventual outcome. As a result, I felt Ed had blown his first chance of the political “big time”, though I wasn’t by any means judging him as anything other than the brilliant politician he remained. He then did a...well...decent job, with the manifesto. I must say, when I received my copy of “A Future Fair For All”, I was slightly disappointed with the style (compared to the Conservatives’ “Invitation To Join The Government Of Britain”, it was a poor design) but also with the content to a degree. It should have been bolder and it should have had a clearer direction and aim. In addition, big brother David Miliband was clearly becoming a well-respected politician on the world stage, with Hillary Clinton appearing to wish she could role-play with David in a Clinton-Lewinsky scenario.

When David stated his intention to run last week, I was fully behind him immediately. However, Ed’s speech to the Fabian Conference was what the enthusiasts could call a “game changer”. I had to admit to myself that since I began supporting the party, no message has struck such a chord with me. Ed’s message that we need to reconnect with our core and re-embrace our idealism is, for want of a less pathetic word, beautiful! As much as the media has tried to fix candidates into the Brownite-Blairite categories, Ed’s direction is clearly neither. The categories have been made redundant. After 13 years in government we don’t need major surgery, we just need to remember, as a party, what we stand for, who we stand for and how we work for people.

He also said things that we just need to accept. Immigration, he told us, is a class issue. That may sound odd, but those of us who campaigned in less affluent parts of the country during this campaign will understand totally. In addition, though I can’t remember the exact poll, an Angus Reid poll in the run up to the election showed that immigration was a more important issue to the lower social classes. Of course, it’s easier to say things like this now we’re back in Opposition, but they still need to be said.

The main thing, though, that resonated with me was how Ed said we need to involve everyone, more. Members, MPs, councillors, trade unions, Fabians and constituents; we all need to be in on the discussion about where we go from here. Now, I don’t know how he plans to do this. As one fellow blogger wrote recently, this could involve somehow making constituency parties a more attractive entity. The scope for communication with everyone the party seeks to serve and help and the means with which to do it are now immense; far, far greater than they were in 1997. It is only Labour that can utilise this ability to communicate with the masses to the advantage of all. Simply because Labour’s idealism, as it was in the days of Bevan and Attlee, is the only political idealism that is truly fair for everyone in this country.

My rash decision to back David Miliband may still be vindicated when he announces his full intentions and plans. But Ed Miliband has shown his hand in emphatic style and very few other candidates will be able to disagree with the main sentiment of his bid.