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The UK is hit by a tsunami of violence as copy-cat riots hit major towns across London, Liverpool & Birmingham

August 9, 2011 5 comments

Many will dismiss the rioters as “scum”, many others will give them a political credibility that they neither aspire to or desire. Others will say it is because they have “nothing better to do”.

One thing is for sure, these riots are no longer (if ever) about Mark Duggan.

For many on the streets it is a protest. Youth unemployment is hitting 1 million. The “cure” proposed by the government is not job creation but punishment for unemployment.

I got a lucky break 4 months ago. I found a new job. Yes temporary but still good. Before that job, I was depressed, on the verge of suicide and angry. Government cuts mean that there is very little carrot left to find a job and a lot of stick to find that non-existent job.

My next door neighbours, scientists, were raided by the police because they were Muslim. I see no other reason for the anti terrorist police storiming up the stairs like a scene of out oflife of Brian.

For those demanding racial profiling in the US – this is the inevitable consequence. It is not an excuse it is a response. If people are poor, trodden on and see no way out people will react back. Young black people, young Muslims are targeted for no other reason than they look black or Muslim.

As I said, a fair chunk of the rioters outside of Tottenham are just copy-cats. Their interest in Mark Duggan is minimal to say the least. However the rich had their riots over student loans, they never once spoke up for the very poorest who were having their very minimal benefits cut.

Do not be angry at the rioters, even the opportunist thieves. They may have “damaged the economy”, they do not and will not ever have the power to hold it to ransom or to crash it entirely.

Most looters are opportunists. Somebody else broke the glass first. The first are violent but the rest are just quite literally taking advantage, something we are all told to do.

Robbing a tv is far less worse than being able to decide who runs a government as a result of illegally hacked telephone messages. It is far less worse than a politician dancing to the tune of their big money interests instead of the public who voted for them. It is far less worse than being able to fiddle your expenses as a Member of Parliament or win a no bid contract for a war against a Country that did nothing to anyone.

Not one of these kids could have caused the damage to the economy of the World that Goldman Sachs did. GS gets the ear of Washington. The poor of the World only get the ear of the top when they do riot.

The rioters are wrong to do this but at the moment, those in power are making the rioters look like chewing gum thieves at school. Something needs to give.

Why I’m backing AV – well kind of

I personally think the alternative vote system is as bad as the first past the post system. I also think that the referendum that the UK is having on Proportional Representation is about as interesting as a 5 year old repeat of Countryfile or Songs of Praise.

I have found it impossibly hard to get excited about this referendum.

The debates have not interested me. The advertising has not interested me. The polling has not interested me.

I am not alone. No one knows who is going to win, not because of the Don’t Knows but the Don’t Cares. The only people who will vote on this referendum are the people who bother to vote because they were handed an extra ballot paper when they go and vote for their local Councillor.

If as had been asked for by Labour this referendum been separate from the Local Government elections, the constituency of those voting would have been less than the Orange Bookers of the Lib Dems.

AV is a shitty little compromise. It was an awful proposal when proposed by Gordon Brown and it remains a bad proposal now.

Despite this, I am fully aware that voting no is more than a vote against the Alternative Vote. A no vote will close the door on electoral reform for years.

A no vote will produce headlines that the voters rejected electoral reform and that will become the accepted position. Politicians will for years refer to the referendum on electoral reform. If you do not believe me, look to Scotland, look across the pond to our American cousins.

In 1979, Scottish voters were asked do they want a devolved Parliament. The legislation was on the table and it would have been implemented if Scotland voted yes.

Purists who wanted full independence were against it. Unionists were also against it. Despite this the Yes campaign won the referendum. They did not however win with sufficient number. The Scotland Act 1978 would only be implemented if more than 40% of the population voted for it. Turnout was 63%. Very high for a non General Election vote. The Yes campaign secured 51.6% of the vote. It meant that the total voting yes fell far short of the required 40%.

That failure was reported as a loss for the Yes campaign. For 18 years it was “accepted wisdom” that the No campaign won and that Scotland neither wanted devolution or independence. The Scottish electors had spoken.

In the United States President Obama pushed through a health care plan for poor and middle America that is remarkably similar to the plan being pushed by Paul Ryan for Seniors. Subsidised health care insurance for poor and working Americans. Republicans were deeply opposed to helping poor people and want them to just die quickly.

Getting healthcare reform through Congress was a massive battle. It was nearly lost and it has become known as Obamacare. Bill Clinton lost his fight to get health care reform through in 1993. It was not until 2009/10 that the battle was fought again. Suposedly the American people just did not want health care reform. If “Oamacare” had failed it would have been another rejection of all healthcare reform, from single payer to “Tort Reform”.

It is often said pick your own battles. That is not always possible.

Someone else can involve you in a fight not of your own making and this is what the referendum for AV is. It is a de-facto referendum on PR whether you like it or not.

No AV is not going to get the BNP elected. First Past the Post already does that. If people vote for NAZIs more fool them.

No it is not going to cost billions upon billions. It will not be responsible for a single closed hospital bed or for equipment not being supplied to a soldier in Afghanistan.

No it is not a referendum on Nick Clegg.

No it will not produce a proportional Parliament and indeed the Party in front may get more seat than under first past the post.

It is however far better than voting for the status quo, especially if you are a supporter of PR because if you are a PR purist this will be your first and last opportunity to get voting reform for generations.

David Miliband quits frontline politics

October 1, 2010 Leave a comment

David Miliband Quits

Liberal Democrats have a lot to be proud of.

September 18, 2010 Leave a comment
Who agrees with Nick now?

Who agrees with Nick now?

Conference season for the main Political Parties in England has started and Parties will spend the next few weeks examining their navels and trying to avoid real floor fights. It is the turn of the Liberal Democrats this week and unlike previous years, they will get some attention from the main papers.

There has been a lot of criticism of the Liberal Democrats joining the Conservatives in a coalition government, that criticism is obviously going to be repeated at the Labour Party Conference next week. It will certainly increase because of Nick Clegg’s interview with The Independent.

Well Labour hardly left the United Kingdom in a happy place. We should never forget the War Crimes of Tony Blair, so often defended by David Milliband as Foreign Secretary. Nor should we forget the level of inequality that Labour caused. Neo Con Labour helped to destroy the UK. The defeat of Neo Con Labour was one of the best things to happen this year. All that Labour appears to be offering is one of a pair. Milliband A or Milliband B. Complete with a media created family split. It’s like a choice between George and Jeb Bush.

Despite all the rhetoric from Labour Lib Dems have a lot to be proud of. Their manifesto had four key priorities.

  • Fairer taxes;
  • A fair chance for every child
  • A fairer green economy
  • Cleaning up politics

Well Liberal Democrats will, subject to Parliament (not a phrase you heard under Neo Con Labour) deliver on each of these.

The Liberal Democrats own policy note details below why they can be proud.

There are also a large number of other Lib Dem policies and pledges that will now begin to make a real, positive difference to people’s lives because of our role in the Coalition Government.

These include everything from rolling back the surveillance state and giving people back their civil liberties, to prison and NHS reforms, fairer pensions, the ending of child detention and the scrapping of the third runway at Heathrow.

Delivering on our promises

Fairer taxes

The Liberal Democrats promised to make the tax system fairer by ensuring no one pays tax on the first £10,000 they earn and closing loopholes that allow the wealthy to pay a smaller proportion of their income in tax than people on low and middle incomes.

The Coalition Government has already taken a huge step towards achieving this by raising the income tax threshold by £1,000 in last month’s Budget, saving low and middle earners £200 a year, and reforming Capital Gains Tax. The income tax threshold will continue to be increased every year during this Parliament.

The Liberal Democrats also promised to restore the earnings link to pensions, which the Government will now do.

We also promised wide scale banking reform, including a banking levy to make sure that banks pay for the financial support they received from the taxpayer. The levy, which will raise £2.5bn, was announced in the Budget.

A fair start for children

The Liberal Democrats promised to introduce a Pupil Premium to target extra money at disadvantaged children. The Coalition Agreement makes clear that this will now happen.

We also promised greater freedoms for teachers over the curriculum, which will also be brought in as a key part of the Coalition’s education reforms.

Fair politics

The Liberal Democrats promised a comprehensive clean up of the rotten political system. This is now a key part of the Coalition’s agenda for which Nick Clegg has responsibility.

The plans include:

  • A referendum on the Alternative Vote to take place in May 2011
  • The right to sack MPs guilty of serious misconduct
  • Fixed term parliaments of five years
  • Reform of party funding
  • Moving towards an elected House of Lords, elected by proportional representation
  • A statutory register of lobbyists
  • A radical devolution of power and greater financial autonomy to local government and community groups
  • A green, sustainable economy

The Liberal Democrats promised a raft of policies to help the economy recover and make sure that we build a new green and sustainable economy fit for the 21st century.

A huge number of these policies will now become a reality, including:

  • Tough action to tackle the deficit
  • The creation of a green investment bank
  • Reform of the banking system to make sure that banks lend to viable British businesses
  • An independent commission on separating investment and retail banking
  • Measures to improve energy efficiency in homes and businesses
  • Support for low carbon energy production and an increase the target for energy from renewable sources
  • Enabling the creation of a national high speed rail network
  • The creation of a smart electricity grid and the roll-out of smart meters
  • The establishment of an emissions performance standard that will prevent coal-fired power stations being built unless they are equipped with Carbon Capture and Storage Technology
  • Replacing Air Passenger Duty with a per-plane duty
  • The provision of a floor price for carbon, as well as working to persuade the EU to move towards full auctioning of ETS permits

Other Lib Dem policies that will now become a reality

The Liberal Democrats have long campaigned for the restoration of freedoms and civil liberties eroded under Labour and the rolling back of the surveillance state. A huge number of Lib Dem policies will now happen, including:

  • The abolition of Identity Cards, the National Identity register, the next generation of biometric passports and the ContactPoint Database
  • The repeal of unnecessary laws
  • Further regulation of CCTV
  • The outlawing of finger-printing of children at school without permission
  • Extending the Freedom of Information Act
  • Ending child detention for immigration purposes
  • Removal of innocent people from the DNA database


There are also a host of other Lib Dem policies that will now happen under the Coalition Government. These include:

  • Fair compensation for Equitable Life victims
  • The modernisation of the Royal Mail
  • Flexible working and promotion of equal pay
  • Reform of the NHS to strengthen the voices of patients and the role of doctors
  • A commission on long-term reform of social care
  • Cutting Quangos and government bureaucracy
  • Implementing the recommendations of the Calman Commission on Scottish devolution
  • A referendum on further powers for the Welsh Assembly

Sorry to effectively regurgitate a Lib Dem position paper, I am not a Liberal Democrat or a Conservative but I am bored of Labour whining and their lack of honesty on cuts when they are the ones who shafted the UK in the first place.

When Did The U.S. Recession Really Start?

So I’m listening to Glenn Beck (yeah, I know. I’m getting tired of talking about him too) and he’s extolling his own virtues yet again. He’s explaining how it is that because he is so much smarter than his audience and, indeed all of America, that he just “sees” things coming that the rest of us morons don’t. In so doing, he’s going back through audio of past shows by way of example of all the times Read more…

Parliament is still too white and too male

May 16, 2010 2 comments

Spot the difference. All Oxbridge. All posh.

This Parliament sees an increase in the number of MPs from ethnic minority backgrounds from 14 to 27. This is still unrepresentative of the UK population but is a considerable improvement on recent years.

In numbers
8 per cent of the UK is of a black or minority ethnic (BME) background
4.6 per cent of the 2010 intake has a BME background
2 per cent of the 1997 intake had a BME background

11 Conservative MPs have a BME background
13 Labour MPs have a BME background
0 Liberal Democrats have a BME background

Dr. Krishna Sarda, CEO of the Ethnic Minority Foundation (EMF), welcomed the increase in the number of MPs from BME backgrounds. He told Total Politics: “It represents significant progress comparatively to 2005. Since 1997 there have been a number of key milestones for BME communities in politics.”

Dr Sarda credits the Labour Party for the initial progress made, pointing to a number of firsts since 1997: the first Muslim MP, first black cabinet minister, first black leader of the Lords, first black and female Attorney General, first Asian and Muslim minister to attend cabinet, first Asian minister in the Commons and first black female minister in the Commons.

There are a number of firsts in this Parliament too, including the election of the first female Muslim MPs (three, and all Labour), the first black female Conservative MP (Helen Grant), the first Asian female Conservative MP (Priti Patel) and the first African female MP (Labour’s Chinyelu Onwurah).

http://www.totalpolitics.com/blogs/index.php/2010/05/12/the-new-parliament-ethnic-make-up

There are still not enough women in Parliament. Just 22% are now women.   The Conservatives doubled their proportion of women MP’s to 17%, which is still too low (and is the same proportion of women in the US Senate).

Labour has done a good job making the Commons more reflective of the Country as a whole, as have the Conservatives. The Liberal Democrats have not even made a start, they have no ethnic minority MP’s at all.

Now that was quick.

Caroline Spelman, helps to keep piggy snouts in the trough..

Colour me impressed. Guido Fawkes has yet again spiked the stupid press and looks as though he may have claimed his first scalp of the new Liberal Democrat and Conservative Party Government, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Caroline Spelman.

He certainly has found what could amount to a real scandal.

He reveals:-

“Spelman spent her days before becoming an MP in the agri-business, with a lobbying focus mainly on sugar beet, one of the most heavily subsidised crops in Europe. She was the Sugar Beet Commodity Secretary for the NFU in the early eighties before becoming Deputy Director of the International Confederation of European Beet Growers. Seemingly well connected in the field, Caroline and her husband Mark went on to set up “Spelman, Cormack & Associates” in 1989 as a food and bio-technology lobbying company.

For over ten years the new Secretary of State, along with her husband, lobbied the very department she now runs. Caroline resigned as a director less than a year ago and conveniently transferred her share of the company to her husband. The company address was also changed from her constituency home, for which Spelman claimed around £40,000 on expenses for cleaning and bills, to their million pound London flat. According to the company accounts last year, no rent was paid on this “office” subsidised by the taxpayers.”

Not quite the Bernie Ecclestone level of scandal but certainly more interesting than the complaint that giving MP’s the power to dissolve Parliament for the first time in history is somehow undemocratic.