Saturday, 11 December 2010

We are the Champions?

The violence at the recent student protests was simply disgusting and disgraceful. The latent Neanderthals cannot muster up enough numbers to support a riot of their own so they mingle amongst the young, impressionable and naïve. They whip the crowd into a frenzy and hey presto, you have a riot and, if you’re a Neanderthal, mission accomplished. On the positive side, the Students have found their voice! On the face of it I thoroughly enjoyed watching the protests. It’s a sign of a healthy democracy and should never be discouraged. Any voices calling for protests to be banned because of the violence have to be challenged and I’ll resist the oft used Voltaire cliché. 

And what of the Labour response? There was the usual attack on the Coalition but nothing in response ….. until now. It was hard for Red Ed, he wants the Graduate Tax and his Shadow Chancellor never did. It looks as though the Labour Stasi patrol have got to their beloved Shadow Chancellor and he is now ‘on message’. When challenged on the BBC Today Programme he said he was ‘inconsistent’ and tried to excuse his ‘inconsistency’ by saying the Coalition were in the Premier League for U-turns whereas he was in Champions League! I have to agree the Labour Party are in the Champions league for all sorts of things… not least maxing out the UK credit card meaning that tough decisions need to be made on student finance. The picture for this blog has a double meaning Freddie Mercury is famous for penning the rock anthem We are the Champions but also their hit "I'm going Slightly Mad". When it comes to comparisons to the Labour Party, I know which I prefer!

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Happy Birthday Mrs T

Just like the best Tories my story started in Grantham living in a flat above a shop”. 
This is at the top of all my blog posts and I have a sense of pride in my humble, VERY humble, beginnings. Today we celebrate the 85th Birthday of that other Grantham Townie whose story started in a flat above a shop. Humble beginnings in Grantham for me included the regular trips to the outside privy and the walk to Huntingtower Road Primary School, at least one of these experiences I’m strangely proud to have shared with Mrs Thatcher. Enough of the nostalgia … the real Tory Story here is the often overlooked message that Mrs Thatcher can give to us all. The Conservative Party is a broad church, inclusive of all and exclusive of none. The misconception that we are a party of the rich is comprehensively rejected when you stop and see our supporters. True, we have rich and powerful benefactors but for every “Tory Toff” there is a “Champagne Socialist”. The Left Wing obsession with anti-capitalism and socialism clouds the reality that the country needs equality of opportunity and not just equality. Margaret Thatcher worked so hard to gain recognition and success and can teach us all that it’s not where you’ve come from that’s important, it’s where you’re heading.

Happy Birthday Mrs T!

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

I Believe that I do not Believe in the Spirit Level

On the Radio 4 Program, Analysis, there was well presented and balanced report on that unlikely bestseller the "Spirit Level". This book is being read, digested and regurgitated by all quarters of the political classes. The book is a scientific study which claims to have found increasing evidence that societies which are inherently unequal are the ones which fail quality of life indicators such as levels of youth crime, teenage pregnancy and child will being. I've only had the most fleeting of looks at this book so I'm not have any place to judge but what I do know is that it has been pulled apart by statisticians and even my basic A-level knowledge of statistics can see that some of the figures stretch linear regression beyond breaking point to establish the "facts". I don't get particularly vexed about political commentators imposing their own views, although the spirit level is supposed to be a scientific analysis and not political. But where I think true blue Tories will not be able to accept the book's findings lies in some simple heartfelt beliefs which we all have and where the centrepiece of Michael Howard's 2005 general election campaign. Although this seems like 1000 years ago it would not take too much of a memory jolt to remember his "I believe" speech. The part of Michael Howard's speech which I find most at odds with the spirit level is one of his "I do not believes". - "I do not believe that one person's poverty is caused by another's wealth". In fact most of the "I do not believe" parts of his election address are at 90° to the political theory contained in the spirit level such as "I do not believe that one person's sickness is made worse by another's health". I know what I choose to believe, I believe in the "I believe" of Michael Howard ( I do not believe in the Spirit Level.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Shadow Shadow Cabinet - What a Balls up

Many political anoraks (including me) were surprised to see the choices made by Ed Miliband for his frontbench team. I've nothing against Alan Johnson per se, the fact that he's a former postman is not something I'd use to political advantage, after all for better or worse he has held cabinet positions over the past few years. In fact Alan Johnson is my kind of politician in that he actually had a career before politics and is one of these career politicians that know nothing of real life (check out my blog back in March, lobbyists and lobby gobblers, Despite this nonpartisan respect for him it didn't sound good when he announced his first step would be to read an equivalent of economics for dummies. I suspect the real reason for Alan Johnson’s meteoric rise is his strong union background. We all know that Ed Miliband is in the hands of the unions without whose vote he would have lost the leadership election hands down. It’s now crystal clear that the unions have the Labour leader right where they want him and it's clear that the top jobs in the shadow cabinet are union appointments not Ed’s appointments. To the seasoned loyal Labour supporter the appointment of Ed balls to Shadow Chancellor is a no-brainer. Failing that his wife was the out and out winger by a huge margin and would also be the strongest of contenders for the top job. But Red Ed’s strings are being pulled by the Shadow Shadow Cabinet, the union bosses. To make a decision based on "I'd better not do that because it will upset the unions" or even worse "I better not do that because it will upset his wife" is, at best, flawed. Thankfully this is just a shadow cabinet  and these clowns are no longer in a position to make decisions that affect our lives. If we as an electorate turn the Shadow Shadow Cabinet in to a Government, be prepared for decisions to be made based on union power and pillow talk.

Shadow Shadow Cabinet -- what a balls up!

Saturday, 25 September 2010

New Labour is Dead, Long Live Ed Labour

So now we have Miliband as the leader of the Labour Party. Which one of the band of Brothers is immaterial as we all know that both of them will be running things in the Labour Party from now on and not in gracious harmony. The Blair Brown pact has got nothing on Miliband of Brothers. Not only will we hear of dodgy deals on what would have happened when one or the other got elected but we’ll also have a deep sibling rivalry, after all according to at least one of them the wrong one has assumed power. This is excellent news, the infighting and backbiting and the divisiveness will keep Labour where they belong - in the political wilderness for many years to come. Ironically they've enjoyed a remarkable honeymoon period of opposition with their default leader Harriet Harman. She has proved a remarkably capable leader of the opposition in an albeit short period of office. We may have had something to fear had she decided to stand as leader, and with the Miliband vote split down the middle she may have won by the back door. With the old Harriet this would not have been a problem. The old Harriet was in government and proved very ineffectual in whichever office she occupied. In opposition, with nothing to prove and everything to gain by skilful use of words and political nails she has proved remarkably adequate. Ed Miliband, on the other hand, will give us Tories great ammunition for showing just how split the Labour Party are and always have been. Forget the Old Labour, New Labour we now have Ed Labour. We mustn’t squander this opportunity by allowing Ed to run away with the arguments over tax and spending. Let's face it, he's been put there by the Unions not by his party or fellow MP’s. The Unions will want some payback and he won't give that by backing the only possible way forward, the Conservative policy of deficit reduction. The result will be a left-wing backlash within the Labour Party with Ed Miliband as its champion promoting the all-too-familiar socialist policies or spend, spend, spend. There's never been any doubt in a socialist government’s ability to spend money and on the opposition benches with Ed Miliband at its helm will show this to be all too true once more. The mantra is clear old Labour is dead long live Ed Labour.

Monday, 7 June 2010

No Dot Com Bubble, No 3G auction, No joke, we're broke!!!

The General Election has come on and gone and we've certainly come down to earth with a bump. We all knew how bad the economic situation was but a quick back of the envelope calculation of the astonishing £770 billion worth of debt would mean that if we paid the back of the rate of one pound every second we would not finish paying off the debt until the year 24,416. We may pay off the debt before the Sun explodes. The thing is we know, and have known, this for some time so there is no "new" news here. But it will be news to some people.

During the 1990’s recession I worked as at Bolton Council. Okay, so that recession was nowhere near as big or as hard as the one we’ve just had but it was tough; people lost their homes, lost their jobs and most of us found it very hard to make ends meet. The most protected people were people like me. I lived in a council house on a council rent, I had a very, very safe job with the local authority and you could say that I was somewhat recession proof. In fact, looking back, I was pretty much armour plated. I’ve spent the last 10 years working in the private sector but still keep in touch with all of my local authority colleagues and nothing seems to have changed. Even during the darkest days of recent recession none of my local authority friends really cottoned on as to how bad the situation was. During conversations about our personal economic woes comment would be made such as "yes we’ll have to do tighten our belts". It was very clear that they weren’t being affected in the least by even the worst that the recession could throw at us. I know that because it's exactly how I felt, and talked, back in the early 1990s.

This will be a very unpopular thing to say but the public sector have been mere spectators over the past 12 to 18 months. In the private sector we've had our fears and worries many have lost jobs and livelihoods many small businesses have gone to the wall (and large ones for that matter, taking many jobs with them). Now there is a very fragile recovery there is room for cautious optimism and we can breathe a little easier, but only a little. Not that I'm wishing this onto anybody but the one thing that would cripple any hope of a strong recovery, and believe me recovery needs to be strong to get us out of this hole, would be public sector industrial action the likes of which we saw in the 1970s.

The hard sell is not to convince us that the cuts are necessary as we all know, or will we should know, how much we need to cut back public spending to get the economy moving again. The hard sell will be to convince all of us, public and private, that things will have to change. The last Labour government built the economy on a series of very fortunate windfalls which happened at fortuitous intervals in the economic cycle, and not moments of the government is making. First we had the windfall tax on the privatised public utilities then we had the dot-com boom in the stock market and finally we had the sell-off of 3G Telecom licenses. The 3G sell off alone raised £22.4 billion or 2.5% of GNP or enough to build 400 hospitals. Further into the first decade of the 21st century the government saw no more windfalls and no more opportunities for a quick buck. The inevitable happened and we sank, slowly at first, then very definitely into deep recessive debt. The only option for a Labour government, with the windfalls gone, and lines of credit exhausted is to go to the last resort -- the IMF. This is what happened last time and it is almost certainly would have happened had we seen a Labour victory.

We've got our Conservative Prime Minister just in time. With no unions to be in hock to, the coalition is free to make the difficult choices that are required to make sure we go into growth.

We can get the economy on track .... don't let the public sector screw it up!

Saturday, 15 May 2010

“Tory Tory Tory - Out Out Out!”

This would not usually be my first choice of title for a Tory story. You may have read in my last blog that a journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step. I'm sorry to report that I still have quite a few steps to go if the Conservative party is to have any serious representation in Leigh. Notwithstanding this disappointment I'm still a committed Conservative will still be blogging the Tory story and I'll still be trying my hardest to dislodge this rather moribund Labour council we in Wigan Borough have to live under.

I'm not bitter, not twisted; I'm not seriously disappointed that the Conservatives didn't get overall majority in Parliament. In fact the way the coalition is looking I’m feeling rather relaxed at the prospects of this government to deliver solid Conservative policies, after all we do have a Conservative Prime Minister. 

It is a warm comfortable feeling that we have all four great offices of state occupied by Conservative MPs and that we have Prime Minister David Cameron meeting foreign dignitaries on the steps of chequers. It’s well overdue that the squatters who have been occupying number 10 these past 13 years have finally being shoe-horned out and the rightful residents have regained occupancy. 

There was a single seemingly insignificant event that really raised my hackles, gave me goose bumps and a genuine feeling of "we're back!" Watching the news the other day a Conservative MP was arriving for a meeting and was met with a large number of protesters chanting "Tory Tory Tory-Out Out Out". Having not heard this phrase from the last 13 years this, to me, was the real confirmation that regardless of any coalition agreement the public psyche, especially to the opposition, is that we have a Tory government. I'm not under any illusions, we have what we have, a coalition of a Conservative led Lib Dem / Conservative government. Yes we are the major party and yes we do have more seats in parliament than anybody else but my sensible head makes me realise that some serious concessions and had to be made. My unsensible head makes me rise to the challenge of an opposition back where it should be - in opposition - and not in government.

“Tory Tory Tory-In In In!”

Monday, 26 April 2010

72,391 steps to a Council Seat

There is a saying, "a journey of a 1000 miles begins with a single step". I'm campaigning for a Council Seat in one of Labour's safest constituencies where, at the last count there was a 94.9%chance of them staying put. the title of this latest post is more than a litte prophetic. Nonetheless I managed to compose a campaign team, get 1000's of leafets ready to post and as many doors waiting to be knocked. One week (ish) to go and we've got about 4,000 leaflets out in two editions and a surprising number of pledge and thanks letters  for support. We are well on track for a decent knocking up session in the final week of polling. The Tory Story in all this? Even in the safest non-tory seats it's worth hammering away at the opposition. One election might dent the solid majority, the next election might turn the safe seat into a marginal, the election after that ..... who knows.

At the beginning of all this I thought I'd try out my new pedometer and have clocked up the title figure of 72,391 steps so far. According to the Romans this is about 37 miles. I've got 963 miles or 1,926,000 steps to go. I make that about the 2014 General Election - the Tory Story will still be going, I'll let you know if I get there.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

1980's .... it's good to be back

The election has been called and the gloves have well and truly come off. For the first time since in a long time there is some good old fashioned politics going on. One opening shot is the Gene Hunt Tories taking us back to the eighties poster. It is curious that Labour want us to remember the time when we won every election in the decade by a landslide (we were rather popular then) and all they could do was write "the longest suicide note in history".
But they did something else. In the 1987 election they actively campaigned to reverse a 2p cut in income tax. The figures sound alarming now but they saw a virtue (and votes?) in campaigning to restore income tax to a staggering 29%. Roy Hattersley, the Shadow Chancellor, was dubbed Count Draculabour. It is curious, then, that they have chosen a battleground, National insurance, where they comprehensively lost in the past.

To coin a phrase the National Insurance debate is opening up clear blue water between us and Labour. Yes it is a return to to the 80's. This was a time a political debate and sound ideology. The choice is becoming clear. A vote for the Conservatives is a vote to keep your money in your pay packet, a vote for Labour is a voting to have the Government raid your pay packet and they will decide how it is spent.

1980's ..... it's good to be back!

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Lobbyists and Lobby Gobblers

What a week it's been with dodgy lobbies, Strikes by land and air and the most boring ever budget where the only thing vaguely economical was the truth. So there was plenty to fill a Tory Story blog.

The one thing that caught my attention is the lobbygate scandal with Byers, Hoon and Hewitt. If they weren't so well know they would sound like a firm of lobbyists. When you live in Leigh in Lancashire, as I do, lobby has a very different meaning. Originally called lobscouse (in Liverpool it's shortened to 'scouse'), lobby is a traditional stew of corned beef and veg. Being very popular, the townsfolk of Leigh are nicknamed Lobbygobblers. The dish was popular with the hard working but poverty stricken grafters of the coal mines and cotton mills of Leigh as it was very cheap but very nutritious. This is where the politcal irony kicks in.

Byers, Hoon and Hewitt are now in the frame for selling themselves. They know they've screwed up their politcal careers and lobbying is probably the only way they are going to earn a living outside politics. This will become an increasing problem because in recent years we have seen the march of the career politician. They serve their apprenticeship working in the party research departments and then under the wing of serving MP's. They are rewarded with a safe seat and try the MP thing themselves. Once they leave (or are forced to leave) Parliament they find they have no real career to go back to and the vacancies for ex career MP's are pretty thin on the ground. The research departments are full of new young hopefuls so no vacancies in that direction either.

The finished and washed up career politician has no vocation to fall back on, no professional training or trade to do anything other than be political. The only thing they can do is lobby. Unfortunately Byers, Hoon and Hewitt all lobbied to early. They've finished their political careers and any future career they may have had ... better get used to the taste of lobby!

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Sport Relief 2010 has a Tory Story

It's Sunday 21st March 2010 and 165,000 people across the UK donning their Sport Relief Socks and running the Sport Relief 1, 3 or 6 miles. In my case this in Manchester City Centre and was the full 6 miles. Connor, my wonderful and precious son kindly "volunteered" me to run with him which hastely agreed before he told me he was doing the full 6 miles!

I was so glad he did. Not only was it very rewarding and a really good work out but I'm perfectly capable of covering 6 miles and if vulnerable people in the UK and abroad can manage to get through each day as if it were a marathon then I could manage 6 miles with nice cup of tea and cake at the end of it - simple!

Yes - we did it and raised over £200 in the process. To put it in perspective this enough to provide 40 mosquito nets preventing Malaria again and again, night after night.

But where's the Tory Story. Manchester must be the best place to run Sport Relief. the route took us down the famous cobbles of Coronation Street. and right past the house of Ken Barlow. He maybe a lily lefty Guardian reader but the actor, Bill Roache, is a firm Conservative Party supporter. For the record Ken lives at 1 Coronation Street (in the picture below) next door to the Rovers.