May 2009

None of the above?

Voter apathy or voter anger?

A load of ballots! A load of ballots!
Not long now, the elections will soon be over. What elections? What indeed! The elections for the EU Parliament, that's what. Have you seen a flag, a poster or anything that may get you out to vote? Many 'serious' UK based political commentators were slow to see the importance of the UK MPs expenses' scandal, very surprising that as it is a once in twenty-years type of event. They were equally slow to see that one of the by-products of this would be a fall in enthusiasm for the eu-elections.

Such is the mood of the public it would be a fool who tried to suggest that these elections are vital to us here in the UK. The public anger over expenses has become, some would say reverted, to anger towards politics in general. The public, the voter, wishes to send a message to the political establishment and abstaining from elections is one way of doing this. So voter turn-out for the Euro Parliament elections could be well down.

The story within the story

Some things wrong and some things right

The Bishops The Bishops
Much as to be expected the MP expenses scandal story has become dominant in the media. This accords with the public mood but some people in high places fail to grasp what's going on. They also seem to fail to report the facts.

Just before the holiday weekend The Archbishop of Cantebury Rowan Williams decided to 'speak out'. This time it was to suggest that we should stop the 'systematic humiliation' of MPs. Williams had been quoted in an article for the Times written by Ruth Gledhill, who not surprisingly, was kind to her source.

The Daily Mail also reported the same story but was less star-struck saying - "Unlike many previous holders of the highest post in the Church of England, Dr Williams has not been reluctant to wade into political affairs".

Action and reaction

How corrupt is your MP?

It started here? It started here?
Cause and event, action and reaction, threats and opportunities. No, this is not a short course in management-speak, just a simple observation on the back-wash from the MPs' expenses story, which is now old enough to have its own momentum. True there will come a point when this is history but in folklore terms it's here to stay.

When it comes to the credit crisis Gordon Brown, or Mr McEyebags, loves to tell us “it started in America”. It is said that the PM both loves and admires the US. So funny, is it not, that he failed to spot the problem coming and get some better regulation in place? One would assume that he has studied the US in detail on a regular basis, so would have been on the ball; ah well, missed a trick there. Which is a pity as politically McEyebags comes from the tradition of introducing more legislation at every opportunity.

Lumley for Foreign Secretary

JoannaJoanna
Hurrah for the Gurkhas. Forget Joanna Lumley as PM, she should be Foreign Secretary. Just imagine how smoothly our international relations would run with her superb diplomatic skills, charm, wiliness, integrity and intelligence.

The real need for an election.

..

Gordon Brown tells us that an early general election would not solve the expenses scandal that has gripped parliament and says that the parliamentary system itself had to be overhauled.

\"The problem is parliament. The solution to this is to clean up the system...Those people who somehow believe that this can be sorted out just by a few names changing on a few name plates are wrong.\"

However, the cleaning up of our democracy could take a while. There's the separation of the executive and the legislature, the cleaning up of Lords' and councillors' remuneration and expenses, the electoral system, quangos and on and on.

The main reason for an immediate election is that the Conservatives have promised a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty if it is not ratified by the time they take power. As our main parliament is Brussels that is why we need an election soon.

Limited expenses.

7/77/7

Extra checks to link July 7 attacks ringleader Mohammed Sidique Khan to terrorism did not take place because of limited resources, according to a report from the (ISC) Intelligence and Security Committee. See here.

The police and MI5 did not have enough money to monitor terrorist suspects such as the 7/7 bombers.

But we spend billions on wars to keep us safe on the streets!

Things will never get better?

I'll claim if you do.I'll claim if you do.

Evidently the Mainstream media had always known about Damian McBride but failed to report on him and his ilk because this would have damaged their access to politicians and the Downing Street machine. Similarly, the MSM have always known about the expenses fraud and have accepted this for similar reasons. We have heard little about other expenses, for example my MP claims his high expenses are used to keep his constituency office, which is a regional Labour office, open five days a week yet cannot manage to answer a letter or e-mail. Councillors are invisible until a note comes just before an election. Shouldn't their expenses be online? Local papers find it hard to criticise the local council as appointments, advertising and access depend on good relations. And so it goes.

You ain't seen nothing yet!

José da MotaJosé da Mota

You might think it bad that Jack Straw, Secretary of State for Justice and his junior, Shahid Malik, are in hot water for being economical with their expenses. They have been headline news whereas the European election campaigns have barely registered.

These elections are due in under 3 weeks and the EU's Orwellian sounding Justice division - Eurojust, is involved in a a scandal involving its head, José da Mota, who allegedly put pressure on prosecutors in order to stop a corruption probe involving Portuguese Prime Minister José Socrates. See EUobserver.

Bring on the revolution.

grey revolutiongrey revolution

The grey revolution. When appalled by the behaviour of their government people in other countries have chosen a colour, worn the t-shirt, surrounded parliament and called for its downfall. This is what we must do. It's hard to choose a colour without baggage but perhaps grey would do - to denote weariness rather than age.

When the expenses scandal has died down perhaps we should consider what our politicians do, or don't do, on our behalf. They ignored the Stop the War march but this time we must just stay there and prevent MPs and Peers leaving the Houses of Parliament until a general election is declared and clear manifestos provided.

We are told about the Members' Allowances Committee that: The role of the committee on Members' Allowances is to advise the Members Estimate Committee on the exercise of its functions ) which relate to charges on the Members Estimate. (Are you clear on this?)

Fashion and fat

And the next gimmick?

To exercise or not? To exercise or not?
Fashion is a funny, gimmicky thing: tight trousers, baggy trousers; and whatever happened to the waistcoat? It's the same with 'important' things such as polar ice caps thickening and thinning at one and the same time. Traditionally the ideal approach would have been to ask an expert, alas that does not always solve the problem right now. Not unfashionable, but it's the nagging suspicion they don't really know either. So we come to obesity and children, it's one of the big subjects of the moment, almost fashionable.

These days anything to do with children is fraught with difficulty so we can only be, carefully, observant when out and about looking to see if today's child is too big. This may not be statistically reliable, do the obese resist being dragged around and refuse to go out? What to do? Well we could give the experts a second chance, who in turn could, in the absence of solutions to this problem, 'Europeanise' it.