May’s machete mayhem

Apologies for the alliteration, but think it’s true that we’re witnessing the brutal excerise of power.

Theresa May has worked alongside cabinet ministers, and formed a view on them over the last six years. Wow, just wow, Gove gone, Osborne gone, Morgan gone, Letwin gone, Whittingale gone, Hunt gone.

Think Michael Gove will feel hurt, and experiencing that which Boris felt, not that many days ago now.

Seeing power being wielded to end careers leaves one somewhat aghast at it’s brutality. Soon will be out of wifi range, but will follow appointments with interest.

Elections for leader of a political party are brutal affairs

The Conservative, Labour, and UKIP parties are all, in some form or other, having leadership elections. Although it’s difficult to know when Labour’s election for leader will begin.

Conservative_logo_2006.svg    Logo_Labour_Party.svg    Logo_of_UKIP.svg

Senior Conservative MPs are noted for for their ability to act with brutal rapidity in dispatching failed ministers or leaders. Never was this more in recent evidence than when our MP – Michael Gove – withdrew support for Boris Johnson’s campaign to be leader of the party.

The compression of the Conservatives’s leadership race into a matter of weeks is causing that brutality to become evident. Whereas, in past times, the election process would allow for candidates to develop their policy lines, not so now. The race to get down to the last two on the ballot, which goes forward to party members, involves rubbishing your opponents position, and character. The media have their favourites, and objective reporting suffers.

The same seems to be true of UKIP. Not that I know much about the goings on inside UKIP. It’s leader has just left, sacked or resigned, who knows, and a potential leader has just been readmitted to the party.

While all the negative briefings are deeply unpleasant, and have have the potential to cause bruises from the contest to be lasting, and career defining. I guess politics was ever thus. To grab for power means elbowing others out of the way. It’s life I suppose, though unattractive.

I read a super tweet, in which the writer suggests that in pub quizzes held in say 2030, the answer to almost every question will be 2016.

Michael Gove’s statement on his voting intention in the EU Referendum

On 20 February 2016, Surrey Heath MP Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Justice, gave a detailed statement on his position regarding the EU Referendum

Vote LeveFor weeks now I have been wrestling with the most difficult decision of my political life. But taking difficult decisions is what politicians are paid to do. No-one is forced to stand for Parliament, no-one is compelled to become a minister. If you take on those roles, which are great privileges, you also take on big responsibilities.
I was encouraged to stand for Parliament by David Cameron and he has given me the opportunity to serve in what I believe is a great, reforming Government. I think he is an outstanding Prime Minister. There is, as far as I can see, only one significant issue on which we have differed.

And that is the future of the UK in the European Union. It pains me to have to disagree with the Prime Minister on any issue. My instinct is to support him through good times and bad.

But I cannot duck the choice which the Prime Minister has given every one of us. In a few months time we will all have the opportunity to decide whether Britain should stay in the European Union or leave. I believe our country would be freer, fairer and better off outside the EU. And if, at this moment of decision, I didn’t say what I believe I would not be true to my convictions or my country.

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Two speeches this week about the ‘privledged few’

Ed Miliband this week spoke at how society, he suggested, works for the ‘privileged few’. He also alluded to what he claims are vested interests, having previously suggested hedge fund managers and political donors are one such.

There was another speech this week, from a hedge fund donor to the Conservatives, making his maiden speech in the House of Lords in a debate on Women: Homelessness, Domestic Violence and Social Exclusion in which Michael Farmer said,

“….. I will give three brief facts of my career. I started work at 18 as an £8 per week difference account clerk in a London Metal Exchange member firm; I became a Christian when I was 35; and in the last ten years I have been an active supporter of the Centre for Social Justice, especially of their policies which support families.

However, the background that I would emphasise to your Lordships is my sister’s and my childhood. We were born at the end of the war, and both our parents were alcoholic. My father died from this when I was four, and violence was a part of that backdrop. We were soon bankrupt and, with a mother still struggling with drink, my sister and I experienced the poverty, neglect and shame that are such potent drivers of social exclusion.

I benefited from attending the boarding house of Wantage state grammar school, and in this context I welcome the Prime Minister’s determination to help more looked-after children gain places at today’s state boarding facilities. A good education is invaluable for social mobility; hence I am a sponsor and governor of ARK All Saints Academy in Camberwell.

My sister was not so fortunate; she left school at 14 and, in her subsequent years, struggled with broken relationships, alcoholism and depression. I am telling your Lordships this not only to explain why my heart and head would wish to be involved in today’s deliberations, but also to come back to that House role of scrutiny and opinion revision when we consider one another. ….”

Government ministerial reshuffle

Reading Guido’s running blog on the ministerial comings and goings, wife and I tittered over this,

12:30pm: Penny Mordaunt is the new PUSS at DCLG.

No disrespect to Penny, but to be the new puss must be fun. I know, it’s really Permanent Under Secretary of State for the Department of Communities and Local Government. Can see why it’s shortened.

We need open primaries to nominate parliamentary candidates

Often perceived as the only benefit of being a member of the Conservative Party is a vote in candidate nomination for the parliamentary seat.

I’ve exercised that benefit a few times over the years. Once to select a replacement for my MP, Enoch Powell, who resigned from the party shortly before the general election on 23rd February 1974. My memory is a bit hazy on the numbers, but I don’t recall there being more than 100 people, probably a lot less.

The current number of paid-up members of the Conservative Party is nowhere near what it was. How, therefore, is it possible to involve more people in candidate nomination. The solution is to use an open primary.

An open primary to nominate a candidate allows residents in a constituency, irrespective of party allegiance, to be involved in candidate nomination. Douglas Carswell MP and MEP Daniel Hannan have argued well of the benefit of holding open primaries.

It takes courage for constituency officers to relinquish a large degree of control over candidate nomination, as Tonbridge and Malling’s Conservative party agent Andrew Kennedy describes.

Rather than prattling on about the benefits of an open primary, you can read more about them from the experience of the one held yesterday at Tonbridge and Malling,

What an advocate for modern democracy, trusting the people to decide.