Thursday, March 29, 2007

Like ferrets in a sack!

Councillor in green vest loses shirt shocker...

Matt Stevens writes a quasi-official blog called 'Southampton Local Politics' which actually should be called 'Southampton Labour Party Politics' . He says,

"The Libdems (sic) are facing a leadership election. The mayor has been telling people at Mayoral functions that he will be bidding for the LibDems leadership in May or will be sitting as an independent to ensure he is a power broker. I fear this as he is known for being on the right of the Libdems politically and would not be against as LibDems and Conservative pacts. I have to advise him that independents in hung councils always regards themselves as important but ultimately are not."

I have absolutely no idea if Slade is for or against pacts, Conservative or otherwise. Indeed I don't know if he thinks independents are important or not in hung councils but he certainly has being going round telling people both how much Vinson, the Lib-Dem leader in Soton is disliked within his own group and how the time is ripe for a leadership election and not just Labour Councillors but Officers, Conservatives and anyone else who will listen.
Should be fascinating after May!

Milliband opens opening salvo in leadership campaign!

Sorry to leave things in a bit of a mess David...

Well David is dining for England on his whistlestop tour of London's trendiest restuarants with hacks as well as meeting them en mass and and today I see he is setting out his stall in The Telegraph. Field and Clarke have both broken cover to support Britain's most expensive blogger who I am told by those in the know is flattered to be a gay icon- a fact that doubtless should play well in the Labour Clubs up and down the land!
Anyone like to offer me odds in him not standing?!!!

'Modern British Building are not as good as they should be and planners have low aspirations'

Pack 'em in -SEEDAs Woolston development plan broke guidelines on population density, open spaces and height of buildings...but was still voted through by planners.

"Modern British buildings are not as good as they should be and planners have low aspirations", Lord Rogers of Riverside, is reported as saying in today's Times newspaper.
The award-winning architect could not be more right. The flamboyant Richard Rogers, who is in favour of higher-density city homes, would certainly not be impressed with the quality of many recent developments in Southampton. I can imagine he would be appalled by the huge slum estate of the future that is being planned on the old Vosper Thorneycroft site at Woolston or the even more inappropriate development planned by Lindon Homes at the New College (formerly La Sainte Union College) site off the Avenue.

State funding of political parties in the UK begins in earnest.

A principled stand

Anyone who follows debates in parliament will find yesterday's debate on the 'Communications Allowance' a profoundly depressing experience. MPs (and especially Labour MPs) have voted to award themselves another £10,000 "communications expenses" in addition to their current (extreamly generous) allowances.
One has to wonder, particularly in the MP happens to sit in a marginal seat if really they are just voting for some free publicity- for a typical MPs annual report click here or for a newsletter that is thin on policy and thick on self-promotion, click here to see what I mean. Naturally MPs have a duty to communicate with their constituents but they also have a duty to spend constituents’ taxes wisely (or even not at all !).
Full marks at least to local MP Dr Julian Lewis who at least stood up for whats right in opposing the ten grand bung.
The reality is that is that the money will just be used for political marketing, and therefore give an unfair advantage to incumbent MPs. It is a form of state funding of political parties that I believe most of the British public strongly oppose.
UPDATE; After I wrote the above post, I came across a well argued piece from Greg Hands MP here.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Time to stop the hand-wringing...

It wasn't Just William...

The hand-wringing is beginning to get to me.
Tony Blair has spoken of his 'deep sorrow' . The Archbishop of York John Sentamu said Blair needs to go further. Personally, I don't think so. What so many commentators seem to have forgotten is that 200 years ago, the slave trade was a global phenomenon of which Britain was only a part. If our political leaders are to apologise for slavery, should they not also apologise for every act of genocide, starvation, war and every other injustice that Britain or its citizens have ever been party too? Slavery is but one example of man's inhumanity to man.
The point of history is not to cherry-pick incidents through which we can tell ourselves how much better we are than our forebears. Surely it is to learn from past mistakes and successes? Personally I think it is to this Island's credit that we were the first major nation to abolish the vile trade of slaves in this country and put pressure on other nations across Europe and the America. How ight one descendant of the Bristol slaver, Pinney was when he refused to apologise to the BBC - (itself what an insufferable request) for the deeds of his forefathers.
We are all responsible for our own actions but surely not those of our ancestors?

Friday, March 23, 2007

Wednesday was a big (ish!) day in politics

Wednesday was a big day in politics- and not just because of the budget. The evening also happened to be the the occassion that Southampton Labour Party selected its MP in Test- yet no mention has appeared on the green obsessive's website nor that of Southampton Labour Party- I wonder why they are all so reticent about selecting Whitehead?!!!

Leaks posted to the comments section below are most welcome!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Michael Crick gets a bunk up!

I see from Justin Hinchclifft has been appointed Political Editor of Newsnight. Happily, Crick is replacing Martha Kearney who in the great BBC musical chairs, is moving to host BBC Radio 4’s The World at One. It is a role I think she will struggle to fill after the late great Nick Clarke.

Funnily enough I do not share the standard Tory view that Crick is to quote Hinchcliff, " an arch-Brownite and anti-Conservative scumbag...Crick has climbed the greasy BBC pole (in the same way as Paxo) by being politically pro-Labour, anti-Conservative and acting like a bully". I met Crick during the European elections in 2005 in Eastleigh where he was following Michael Howard around, researching a biography about him. The book on Howard was workman like enough, being broadly sympathetic, the main revelation being that one of Howard's parents was himself an illegal immigrant.

It was his book on Jeffrey Archer, 'Stranger than Fiction' that turned out to be the subject's nemisis and his subsequent reporting on Newsnight that in all probabality Crick will best be remembered for. It was this too that made Crick's reputation as something of a Tory hater. It is interesting that Crick is on the record as saying that he wrote offering to meet the then Tory leader William Hague to tell him about Archer's past as Archer began to make his abortive bid to become London Mayor but Hague denies he ever made the approach.

Locally, Crick has touched politics twice in recent years, both times during elections in Eastleigh. On the first occasion, Crick was down during the by-election caused by the death of Stephen Milligan. Crick interviewed the then young Lib-Dem Keith House who himself was hoping to be their candidate. House was a disaster, burbling and shuffling about before drying up completely during the interview. Controversially, Crick made the decision to run the interview which many thought being such excruciating TV, effectively scuppered House's chances of being selected.

More recently he took Chris Huhne to task for producing election literature that was financed by Huhn'es EU allowances and for Huhne misleading the public by producing leaflets that looked like they were produced by the Labour Party. With typical arrogance, Huhne shrugged off the allegations, I doubt he thought he had done anything wrong.

It will be interesting to see who now becomes Newsnight's main political investigative reporter.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

A great reputation smeared by sloppy scolarship

'Bunny rabbits ears to you Mr Toye...'

With all the fallout over over the fall-out over the 'resignation' of Patrick Mercer there has been remarkably little debate over the alleged racism of a another rather more eminent Tory, Winston Churchill.

Extraordinarily the University of Cambridge's Richard Toye announced he had 'found' a 'suppressed' 1937 article entitled 'How the Jews can Combat Persecution'. Churchill says, 'the Jew...looks different. He thinks differently' and then goes on to describe resentment against the 'Hebrew bloodsucker money-lenders'. He goes on to say that ,"Every Jewish money lender recalls Shylock and the idea of the Jews as usurers...And you cannot reasonably expect a struggling clerk or shopkeeper, paying forty or fifty percent interest on money to a Hebrew bloodsucker to reflect that throughout long centuries, almost every other way of life was closed to Jewish people".

All pretty explosive stuff you would think...and so it is.

However, Sir Martin Gilbert, (in my view probably Britain's greatest living historian) has stepped into the breech by explaining that the article had in fact been written by a member of Mosley's blackshirts and actually Churchill had in fact refused to have the article published as it didn't reflect his views. Churchill it emerges, didn't write the article then or even agree with it.

A friend of mine (as Iain Dale would say!), the Churchill biographer Andrew Roberts is quoted in The Sunday Times, as saying the article may have been 'of its time' but 'should not detract from a life-time of pro-Jewish sentiment'.

I am surprised at both Cambridge University for its lapse of scholarship and Mr Toye. If you are going to make such serious allegations about figures from history, you need to be sure of your ground.

Its ironic Mr Toye's last published work was as editor of a set articles entitled "Making Reputations: Power, Persuasion and the Individual in Modern British Politics"...

News from the campaign trail!

Make 'em laugh or no fee- the proud boast of Brian Jenner esq.!

Well I've been selected as a candidate for a few weeks now and how am I doing?

The answer is for others to decide of course and ultimately for the electorate (gulp!) but I have been quite active. Obviously I'm not going to reveal all I have been doing on a blog that can be read by my political opponents but I have written to a number of residents about planning issues at the main Shirley Post Office and at Shirley Warren Club as well as letting people know about street signs and roads & pavements I have had repaired. I have also been delivering the inevitable newsletter to every door so its all go !

Talking of electioneering, I see that the professional speech-writer and Conservative activist Brian Jenner has a number of hints and tips, all of with which I agree to varying degrees on the 'Your Platform' section of the ConservativeHome website.