Sunday, 18 October 2009

MPs Expenses

I have been left aghast this week by the idea that some MPs will be challenging Legg's findings. The whole MPs expenses scandal has my blood boiling. The idea that cleaning and gardening costs are allowed to be claimed by MPs at the tax payers expense is outrageous - and this before I even start to think about flipping, capital gains tax, duck houses etc. etc. I know primary teachers who, in order to provide their pupils with decent enough resources for learning activities, will dip into their own pockets and not claim money back because they know their school authority has no money. There is something fundamentally wrong with this situation. I agree with giving politicians a decent wage for the work they do and I am not daft enough to claim that they do not need a London residence. However, new guidelines need to be ensure greater transparency, common sense, morality and, in the current economic climate, an understanding that we are all having to reduce household budgets. Some household budgets need a lot more reduction than others.


So this is the week the BNP are going to appear on the BBC's Question Time. I have mixed feelings about this and having listened to the many arguments for and against I am still no clearer on where I stand. On the one hand, I understand those that claim that only when we expose the policies of Nick Griffin's party to the full media glare will we be be able to challenge them and they will be made to look ridiculous. Certainly many had that view on Question Time last week. Debate them out in the open and they will left looking foolish. But is this just naive? This is not the Monster Raving Loony Party we are dealing with or some amateur politician new to the political process of debating. Nick Griffin is an astute political leader and as much as I deplore his polices he is no fool. He knows his target demographic and you can guarantee that given a platform he will be aiming his message for them come Thursday. Perhaps we should not forget that Hitler came to power through the ballot box. A legitimate political party does not make extremist ideas right. They may have won seats in the European Parliament but that does not mean that their views are necessarily widespread and why should they be given a political platform? The BNP can stage rallies and hold public meetings to spread their ideas but should we really give them a nationwide audience? A member of the public suggested on Thursday that the danger in allowing the BNP on was that more people, not less became attracted to their policies. Giving them legitimacy by allowing them on question time means that is the risk the BBC have taken - is it worth the risk? I think I know where I stand now!!

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Mumford & Sons

Loving this new album.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

call your dad he can stop it all!

Conference season continued this week with the Tories hitting Manchester. Is it just me or did anyone else find it a little flat! The Tories to me are still void of ideas. The big questions I suppose is do they really need any? Labour's reaction to the Conservative Conference has been poor. They have failed to take advantage of the slip ups, familiar policies and the courting of Labour's heartlands. Why? Because Labour don't want to win the election. Government is currently a poisoned chalice. Everyone knows there needs to be cuts in spending which means cuts in services and jobs. The Conservatives 'honest' assessment of how bad a state we are in has not been brought about by a sudden crisis of conscience amongst politicians; it is a pre-emptive strike. Faced with re-election in 4-5 years they want to be able to defend themselves with 'we told you so'. Labour know this. They know that the piper has to be paid. They don't want to be the party that has to pay, they can't afford to. What they do not want to do is to lose their core voters. They have temporarily conceded defeat to the Conservatives in the battle for middle England but attacks on public spending and public sector jobs might mean they lose the working class. Both Labour and the Tories have abandoned their core voters in the last twenty years, but they have because they know their core voters will not abandon them. This is no longer the case. Labour could afford to court the Middle Classes in the 1990s because they knew their core vote was so entrenched - Thatcher made sure of that. Despite the growth in poverty under the Labour government the working classes did not abandon their party, buying into the rhetoric of New Labour. That is under threat now. Glasgow East in June 2008 was a warning sign to Labour, not just in Scotland. Labour cannot afford to win the election next year because they cannot afford the long term consequences - and they know it.

On another note I have been much amused this week by George Osbourne's 'We are all in this together' rhetoric! That and 'When Boris met Dave' on More 4. It reminded of a great tune from the 1990s by Pulp!

If the Tories had been genuine about now being the party of the disadvantaged then Samantha would have worn a dress from Primark.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

'Almost Blue'

Interesting comment from Iain Macwhirter in today's Herald. Jenny Hjul has also written on this theme this morning - Macwhirter's is far more sophisticated, balanced and reflective of Scottish opinion (in my opinion!).

Almost Blue

And just in case you are interested: 'Ghost of Thatcher still haunts Tories in Scotland'

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Media Frenzy

I haven't posted for a wee while due to various factors but I am now back!
So much has been going on this week! Mandy makes the Labour Party Conference laugh, Sarah Brown makes them cringe and The Sun has made everyone grumpy - was anyone surprised by their decision? Personally I think that the influence of The Sun's switch will be limited. Murdoch is following public opinion not leading it. It was hardly a brave, daring or controversial mood. I think people over estimate the power of the media these days and the fact is we have become as cynical about our media as we are about our politicians. Interesting that the Scottish Sun is failing to endorse any political party at the moment. Maybe they will sit on the fence and start backing the Scottish Liberal Democrats!!
So the Tories are up next week. Already they have announced plans for free care for the elderly as a response to Labour's pledge last week. I can't help thinking that if the Conservatives are to win big then they might actually have to start leading on policy rather than following in the footsteps of the flailing Labour party. At least we have a real alternative in Scotland! Interesting that Labour have pledged to have a referendum on the electoral system (this will obviously NEVER happen if Labour retain government). It will be interesting to see how they can justify a referendum on one subject to appease the Liberal voters yet continue a campaign to deny the Scottish people a referendum on their future - is it not all in the name of better democracy?