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.

MP’s being in touch with voters, it’s all a matter of balance

How some politicians exhibit being in touch with the lives of their electors, while others do not, is all a matter of balance between being in or out of touch. Perception is all here particularly by the electorate.

I don’t believe that, generally, electors expect politicians to be completely in touch with every aspect of their lives. It’s more a matter of being in touch with the values of the common man. Being ‘in touch’ is a phrase heavily used by Ed Miliband against David Cameron. Probably not for much longer, methinks.

Out of touchness is perfectly exemplified by the Emily Thornberry views of the ordinary elector, as revealed by her ill considered tweet, and expressed view about seeing a house with numerous St George flags, ‘I’ve never seen anything like it before’.

I’ve seen Emily Thornberry on TV political programmes, like Question Time, and not known anything more about her. Trust the press to investigate. Properly known as Lady Nugee, wife of barrister Sir Christopher Nugee, she lives in £3million mansion in Islington. You can read more about her HERE.

As Hazel Blears has said, “People right across the spectrum do feel that politicians who have never done a different job [other than as a career politician] somehow cannot be in touch with their lives.” She is further reported in the Daily Telegraph saying,

Mrs Blears said the public wanted MPs to live in their constituencies, and be seen to use the same shops and buses to show they are in touch with reality and not locked in the Westminster “bubble”.

While this isn’t entirely practical for every constituency, I agree that an MP should have a residence in their constituency. An example of an in touch politician would be Simon Danczuk, he of the councillor wife given to amusing ‘selfies’, who said in the MailOnline:

“Everyone will know exactly what she meant by that comment. I think she was being derogatory and dismissive of the people. We all know what she was trying to imply.

I’ve talked about this previously. It’s like the Labour party has been hijacked by the north London liberal elite and it’s comments like that which reinforce that view. I want to see more people flying the British flag.”

As I say, it’s all a matter of balance. Get it wrong and damnation follows.

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. ….”

­­Most of London’s mansion tax properties are flats or terrace houses

City A.M reports that ­­’Most of London’s mansion tax properties are flats’. Their article says,

‘Three quarters of London properties which would fall into the so-called “mansion tax” bracket are flats or terraced houses, according to Knight Frank figures.’

Crikey, that’s 75% which you wouldn’t define as a mansion. Although in London large blocks of flats are often referred to as mansions, such as Cavendish Mansions. Confusing eh.

It doesn’t get any better for the Co-op Bank in banking review

On November 21st the Daily Telegraph reported on a New blow for Co-op as the ethical bank is panned in nationwide saving product review. It’s not surprising, given that the chairman from 2009 to June 2013 has been exposed as having little banking or business experience.

The Daily Telegraph’s article says,

Despite its stance as an “ethical” organisation the Co-op failed to score even ‘One Star’ for either its savings accounts, current accounts, personal loans or credit cards.

It’s the Fairbanking Ratings the Daily Telegraph quotes from, which is prepared by the Fairbanking Foundation.

Needing to regain the respect of their customers, it’s pleasing to read that many banks have improved products they offer to the public – though, in my experience, there’s much improvement needed with their call centres. The Foundation’s chief executive, Antony Elliott, says,

“It is exciting to see the pace of product improvement really picking up now, just three years after we ran the first Ratings survey and granted the first Fairbanking Marks to the products that earned accreditation. It is also encouraging to think that nearly half a million people in the UK have taken out a banking product that we know from their fellow customers has made a real difference to how they manage or save their money. We have solid evidence now that our efforts are serving their purpose and that banking providers are increasingly keen on improving the extent to which their products help their customers.”

Co-op Bank customers can only hope that the Bank uses this opportunity to regain their trust, through a thorough review of the competences of their executives, and product offerings. They’ll need to rise up these Ratings when they are published for 2014.

Bad for Labour, yes. But it’s a national embarrassment too

MirrorpageIt’s an amazing unfolding story about Paul Flowers, the Methodist minister, the ex-Labour councillor forced to resign over inappropriate behaviour, the ex-Co-op Bank chairman who had no credible banking experience, and then being serial drug-user and user of rent boys.

While the revelations are deeply damaging to the Co-operative Group, and the Co-operative Bank, and the Labour Party, they are equally deeply embarrassing for the nation.

That our bank oversight and regulation is so weak that someone like Paul Flowers can be entrusted to run a high street bank is surely cause for national shame.

Sun_CoopI’m in agreement with Charles Moore in The Spectator that it neither speaks well of our press and media, apart from the Daily Mail, who’ve signally failed to uncover these sordid details before, nor of what Moore calls the ‘rotten heart of the Labour movement’.

How pained must those upstanding and loyal Labour supporters feel about this. Although change will be promised no doubt. Where there’s politics involved there’s skulduggery too, as Tony Blair observed. So change will be an illusion.

Guido, you’re absolutely mercilessly brilliant

Last night I watched MP Tristram Hunt’s interview with Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight. I wasn’t excepting it to be a car crash of an interview, but that’s how it turned out. It was a riveting, seat squirming viewing.

The Guido Fawkes website has created a wonderful video compilation of the event.

I’ve some sympathy for Rachel Reeves over the Ian Katz tweet

Rachel Reeves MP is a Labour MP, and shadow chief secretary to the treasury. When appearing recently on BBC Newsnight, the programme’s editor unadvisedly twittered that her performance on the show was ‘boring snoring’.

Unlike others, I’ve some sympathy for Rachel Reeves. The epithet ‘boring snoring’ will likely stick with her throughout her political career, through no fault of her own. Just as Iain Duncan-Smith suffers from the repeat of “the quiet man is turning up the volume”, although this was self-inflicted.

I believe the situation was made far worse by the Labour Party demanding a written apology from the Newsnight editor Ian Katz. They should have been less prickly about the slight, finding some way of responding with humour and smart riposte. Their approach was the complete opposite to this. Politics is a rough old business, where it pays to be less easily offended.

Here are a few opinions on the subject,

  • Guido Fawkes provides the evidence HERE and HERE.
  • Hugo Rifkind says that “Ian Katz was right the first time.”
  • Rod Liddle offers a pungent comment that Rachel really is boring
  • Martha Gill in the Daily Telegraph says being boring will kill your career

Review of the County Council candidates

Here’s what I know about the candidates for Surrey County Council in Surrey Heath. These are local elections, and residency in the ward is one of my judgements in any election, which I’ll be focussing on in this review. Apologies for this being a rather long post.

There are six county council wards in Surrey Heath, two of which have changed significantly. These two new wards for County Council elections are; Lightwater is now part of a new ward comprising Bisley, Lightwater, and West End; while Chobham joins with Bagshot and Windlesham to create the other new ward.

Bagshot, Chobham, and Windlesham: In this ward two candidates are local parish councillors – Ruth Hutchinson [LibDem] and Mike Goodman [Conservative]. Hear Mike being interviewed HERE. Both have strong links into their communities. Robert Shatwell [UKIP] on the other hand is not resident in the ward – living in Woking. I do think ward residency is a requirement in local politics. Richard Wilson [Labour] brings tribal politics to local elections, which I believe is not appreciated by the majority of the local electorate, being more suited to national politics. He’s also given to gratuitous comment on Twitter and elsewhere about local councillors and others, a sure sign of the lack of the necessary ability to work with others to improve our communities.

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Ed Miliband’s radio interview disaster

The press and media have variously called Labour leader Ed Miliband’s interview yesterday with Martha Kearney, on BBC Radio 4’s World at One programme, as a car crash, a disaster, and a Milishambles.

When I’ve heard interviews described as such, I’ve rarely found it to be true. Not so with Ed Miliband’s radio interview [Listen to it HERE]. It is exactly that, an absolute disaster. Small errors, misspeaks, or whatever, can be excused. What can’t be excused, and will come back again, and again, to haunt Ed Miliband is an interview such as this. Here’s part of the discussion,

MK: “Let me ask you about one of your policies; the 10p VAT cut, how long would you cut VAT for?”

EM: “For about a year, we’ve said we’ll have a temporary VAT cut …..”

The discussion continues about how to fund a £12 billion cut in VAT and how quickly this will stimulate growth in the economy. It’s up to you to decide to listen or not. It is, though, an instructive interview on determining Labour’s competence in running the economy.