The Autumn Statement, a little rant.

So I’m currently sat watching the Autumn Statement and I’m so infuriated I felt the strong need to vent.

George just announced the resurrection of the Thatcherite love-child policy, Right to Buy. Now, the fact that this could well be viewed as the systematic destruction of the welfare state aside, this is just frankly stupid.

One of the reasons the world descended into financial melt down was the sub-prime mortgage drama in the United States. People were buying houses they could not afford. The same thing happened in this country in the early nineties when people’s houses were routinely repossessed.

The point of council housing is to provide low-cost housing for people who are unable to afford to seek housing in the private sector, and for many people, it’s very valuable and has been for a long time.

There seems to be a culture in the Tory Party that preaches that you are nothing if you don’t own property, but why should it be the be all and end all of life? On the continent there is no such obsession, and people’s private debt is substantially lower. What this government should be doing is seeing that people simply cannot afford to buy houses, and the need for rental housing is soaring, why is the government not meeting that demand by building more social housing?

This would still provide much-needed jobs for an economy that is at best flat lining and at worst slipping down the slope of double dip recession.

Social housing is not shameful, which I believe this government is implying, and provides a life line for many. This government should not be selling the existing stock off and making people feel lesser for living in rented social housing. Rather they should take the positive step of providing jobs and desperately needed rental social housing.

This post is a little ranty, and I intend to do more research and come back with some info and stats as I believe this is a really important point.

The Dangerous Dr Fox

So, Dr Fox has, after a week, chosen to leave the government in the wake of the long string of revelations relating to him and his friend Adam Werrity, the self-styled advisor / very dodgy individual.


Of course, for the two men involved today was a bad day, with a lot of people holding the opinion that they’re very ‘special’ friends, but what does it mean for the coalition?


Liam Fox is the darling of the Tory Right and a favourite of Baroness Thatcher, his becoming a free agent on the Tory backbenchers could spell trouble for David Cameron.


Cameron already has a disgruntled right flank. Devoutly euro-sceptic, Atlantic focused and pro-Isreali they are already unhappy about the concessions made in the Coalition Agreement and uneasy about the very presence of Lib Dems.


At the moment this is only a rough group with no firm commander apart from the 1922 Committee. Liam Fox could be that leader, giving the Tory Right the voice of a prominent MP and well known face to air their views and general unhappiness at the government.


This group of MPs is also somewhat anti-Cameron. Unhappy at his failure to secure a Tory majority and repulsion at having to share power with the Lib Dems, many feel Cameron’s leadership isn’t want the party need and could well be seeking an alternative. That could prove to be Dr Fox.


Annointed by Mrs Thatcher, that preferred alternative could well prove to be Dr Fox, putting Cameron’s leadership on rocky ground, which presumably is why Camcam failed to sack him despite the situation smelling as bad as gone off mince.


This saga, together with Oliver Letwin putting confidential papers in bins in St James’ Park shows Dave completed incapable of controlling anything at all in government. It also illustrates once again the extremely poor judgement (to be nice, or corruption to be less nice) of the Prime Minister and his government.




The Riots

The violence that erupted in London and other cities last night was horrific, and how much this government is out of touch with it’s people is staggering.

Today David Cameron returned, and stated that those involved would “see the consequences of their actions”. Sixteen thousand police officers will be on the streets of London tonight. What this government doesn’t understand is that these people have no fear of the police, they know that the prisons and young offenders institutions are full and they know that London’s custody cells are full.

For three nights the rioters have run rings around the police despite their riot gear and their truncheons, they can out run them and crucially, they have no fear.

Both Mervyn King and Nick Clegg warned of the social unrest that would result from such savage cuts to the services that people depend on in areas like Lewisham and Peckham. Countless people in the papers and on the news channels have highlighted the closure of youth services as a catalyst for the anarchy that consumed so many areas of our nation last night.

Those involved in this violence are the underclass who live in the council estates in our country. They have been forgotten by society and are profoundly suffering from the slash and burn of public services. What is most worrying is that these cuts are only just starting to bite.

What we need to ensure against is a right-wing backlash. The “lock ’em all up” attitude is not helpful and will not stop this violence happening again. We need to address the social inequality and deprivation that has meant that these people don’t think twice about smashing up their local areas and taking whatever they like.

These events have shown the huge extent to which David Cameron has absolutely no idea of the kinds of lives some people live in this country, he ought to read the article written by Camila Barmanghelidjh in todays Independent.

Those involved are the forgotten underclass, their actions are wrong in every way, but their anger is understandable.

What has happened in Croydon and elsewhere is horrific and very, very upsetting and it requires a thoughtful and considered response.

Back to Thatcher

The events that have unfolded last night and again tonight in London are truly awful and upsetting, but frankly, not surprising.

London’s deprived boroughs are experiencing pain across all sectors as this governments cuts start to bite. Today on the BBC they had young people from Tottenham talking about how the closure of Youth Centres in the area was having a huge impact of the lives of young people in the area.Haringey, the borough that Tottenham lies in, is one of the most deprived in the country.

Out of 326 local authorities Haringey is the 13th most deprived overall, and 6th on the basis of income deprivation.  The Telegraph reported in March that Haringey voted to close four residential care homes and six old people’s day centres, halve park maintenance and cut three-quarters of its youth service.

The youth centres are the crucial point as unemployment is at an 11 year high in Haringey. This is something being repeated across London’s deprived neighbourhoods, mirrored in riots happening tonight in Brixton, Enfield and Walthamstow.

Brixton and Tottenham saw these same riots in the 1980s, anger at the police and anger at Thatcherite Tory policies, this is a pattern.

It is easy for politicians to sit in front of a desk and say cut this, cut that. The people in places like Brixton and Tottenham depend on the public services that are being cut, the violence is wrong, but the anger is more than understandable. David Cameron with his silver spoon, Eton education knows little, if anything about living the life led by this country’s most deprived. Perhaps this is why it’s the second night of rioting in London and we have still had nothing from the Prime Minister. I’m sure rioting is less than rare in Witney and he know longer has Andy Coulson as his voice of the common man.

The recent European and American financial meltdown has heralded a chorus of Tory cheerleaders anointing the financial strategy of this government as divine. In reality we have economic stagnation and there is rioting across London whilst the Prime Minister is sunning himself in Italy (maybe getting tips from Silvio Berlusconi about avoiding prison when you’re corrupt) and the Chancellor is at DisneyLand in California frolicking with Mickey Mouse.

The catalyst for the riots in Tottenham yesterday was perceived police brutality, as it was in the eighties. But, as in the eighties, there is social deprivation deepened by a cuts agenda at the heart of everything that is happening.

It is the people of these communities who are suffering from the financial excesses of others, as those responsible sit in penthouses a couple of miles down the road in The City.

The people involved in these riots have no jobs due to massive unemployment and no hope as a result of the closure of youth services and other public services that provide a lifeline in these communities. In no way is violence an acceptable expression of this anger and frustration but surely the anger and frustration itself is understandable?

This government needs to seriously look again at its agenda of cuts. David Cameron and his Cabinet need to go and visit these communities not only In London but in other deprived areas up and down this nation and see the damage these cuts are doing to peoples lives.

Tony & Dave Have the Same Taste in Men…

There have been so many memoirs published since the Labour Governmet left office in May. We have had the Journey, the third man and the Blair years. I thought no more could come out of the woodwork, until I read a piece on about “Thirty New Facts About Gordon Brown”.

The thrirty things were extracts from a new book by Anthony Seldon about the Brown premiership called “Brown at Number 10”. According to Seldon, (who interviewed vast numbers of primary witnesses, both members of the then government as well as, crucially, civil servants) Ed Balls said Blair made it very clear to Gordon that he had to come across as tough; the News International people would worry if he was not. That is why he did 42 days,” on the subject of the Commons vote on 42 day detention without trial.

The power of News International and the Murdoch family in this country is something we should all feel pretty strongly about, as they own one third of all newspapers in this country and are attempting to take over one of the largest television providers in the nation.

I am an avid opponent of Murdoch inc. as Rupert Murdoch is how I imagine a physical manifestation of the spirit of Satan would be, plus I don’t fancy living in an Australian dictatorship.

On a slightly more serious note, we should be learning lessons from what has been happening in Italy during the reign of Silvio Berlusconi. The Berlusconi media empire is eroding Italian democracy, propping up a truly unpleasant leader who is in power almost entirely because he owns and/or controls vast swathes of the Italian media.

The fact that Murdoch Inc. and “the News International people” have so much influence in areas of such massive important is a fact that should set alarms bells ringing up and down the land.

The Vince Cable honey-trap should have helped us all remember that Vince, unlike Dave and Co., doesn’t like old Rupert either. How Dave slapped Vince down however, is another thing that should make us all brick it, just a tad, about the extent to which Dave is Rupert Murdoch’s lap dog.


This is Just the Beginning

There has been a lot of commentary of the NUS Demonstration yesterday, and what erupted after it. The news coverage has been completely hijacked by the opportunists who attempted to take over a peaceful and poignant political protest, and detracted from the point that the 50,000 students wanted to make yesterday.

The atmosphere at the demo was like nothing I have ever experienced before, and I feel so privileged to not only have been a part of it, but to have attempted to cover it for student media. The feeling of solidarity that bound the crowd together was overwhelming, and the speech from NUS President Aaron Porter was both rousing and inspiring.

What needs to happen now is organisation; by the NUS, by students, by academics and by The Labour Party. One of the reasons I supported Ed Miliband for Labour leader is his advocating of a graduate tax. Ed is the new generation of The Labour Party, we have left the factional days of Brownite versus Blairite behind and it’s time to embrace this by embracing change, and change in the funding of higher education.

During the leadership campaign Ed set himself apart from the other candidates by advocating a graduate tax, and now is the time for him to set himself apart from the twins, Cameron and Clegg. Nick Clegg has lost any credibility he once had with the left and has left a space that we can now occupy.

This is an opportunity for Labour to distinguish itself, to show there is a real, tangible alternative to this Coalition of cuts. We should grasp this opportunity with both hands and represent the needs and issues of ordinary people in Britain, this, after all, is the founding principle of The Labour Party.

Labour can be, and has to be, as the only credible opposition in this country, a voice for students. As Aaron Porter said, yesterday, this is only the beginning.

The Great Liberal Swindle

When this Coalition began, I knew the Lib Dems were going to have to abandon some of their Holy Grail Policies; Trident, electoral reform and the pace of the cuts to name but a few. But what I did not expect was that they would abandon a pledge that every single Liberal Democrat MP made to the electorate: that they would oppose any rise in tutition fees.

The events of last week relating to the Browne Report, and recent revelations that the Lib Dems won’t back an extension of the franchise to those sixteen years and older, just goes to show that they some of them, naming no names (*cough* Vince especially *cough*) are pretty lacking in the principles department. I genuinely am quite shocked The Lib Dems won a lot of student votes in the election on the premise that they believed higher education should not be funded by tuition fees. They have let down every single student who voted for them on that basis.

This applies particularly to Don Foster who I distinctly remember told hustings at The University of Bath (I was there) that he would not vote for any kind of rise of tuition fees. I wonder if Don remembers this? It’s certainly on his website at any rate, you know, in case he wants to jog his memory.

This whole episode returns me to my initial thoughts on the coalition. I just don’t know how Nick, Vince and the rest of the Lib Dem crew have been able to go against so many things they once believed in and campaigned for. Perhaps this is a little naive but, to me politics is about standing up for what you believe in, perhaps Nick and Vince have forgotten that though, power can induce such selective amnesia.

Idle Gossip

It came to my attention last night that there is some bullying going on at CCHQ. 26th August marked the birthdays of two Tory big guns: Michael Gove, mastermind of the Free Schools Policy, and Steve Hilton, the wolf in sheep’s clothing. Festivities were had in the form of a joint birthday party, presumably with blue balloons and oodles of champers. According to my sources however, it is a running joke at CCHQ (and one which has spread to the Department of Education) that poor little Mickey has no friends.

Guests at the party were greeted by Hilton welcoming them with a wink and a sly jibe that “this is technically a party for Michael too, but you know how it is” wink. Really, is this how the Tory Director of Strategy should be treating the Secretary of State? A little bit nasty lads I think, but then again, I imagine CCHQ resembles the inside of a boys toilet anyway, with Mickey being the one who continuously has his head flushed down a toilet.

Spotlight Profile: Meghan McCain – 21st Century Republican

I am not a blogger known for having any kind of bipartisan sensibilities, and I am a person who is quite tribal when it comes to politics. However, after having recently read her book, and seen her on various talk shows, Republican Meghan McCain is making me think twice.

The Republican Party is not a political party that is doing particularly well at the moment. Trying to move on from the 2008 Presidential election but suffocating under radical, and somewhat extreme public figures like Ann Coulter and Sarah Palin and internal ideological dogma… But, there is one Republican who offers some hope that not all Republican’s are homophobic xenophobes – and that is Meghan McCain.

Daughter of the long term Senator and former Presidential candidate John McCain, Ms. McCain is an Art History graduate from Columbia University in New York, columnist for the online magazine “The Daily Beast”, and is now a published author.

The book, “Dirty, Sexy, Politics” is a personal, honest and frank account of what it is like to be on the road with a Presidential campaign in a way I don’t think has been done before. The book is funny, interesting and insightful. I was inspired to read it after I had seen Meghan on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart last week, and then trawling Youtube for other interviews.

What I have seen is a voice that people on the Right of politics should embrace. Rather than being bogged down with outdated, ideological dogma that many people of my generation are turned off by, Meghan is advocating Right wing politics, that although a lot of the time I personally don’t agree with, I can respect as valid opinions, as opposed to the views of say, Ann Coulter or Glenn Beck.

She seems to be one of the only Republicans who has any sense on party girl Palin and the Tea Party movement – noting how this kind of radicalism on the Right serves only to discredit the Republican party both with Americans and globally.  Her weekly columns for online magazine The Daily Beast are funny, intelligent and a pleasure to read, highlighting right wing failures on issues such as Immigration (especially the controversial new immigration bill in her home state of Arizona) and gay rights.

People on all sides of the aisle should check out Meghans book for a truly great insight into political campaigning and the current political atmosphere in the United States.

Check out Meghans weekly columns here:

News From Across the Irish Sea…

I have been neglecting my blog a little during this years silly season as I have been getting some hands on political experience during an internship, but everyone can stop panicking now as I am back, I promise! To top that, I’m back with some fresh ideas that will take this blog slightly away from its previous focus on the Westminster Village (believe me, though I won’t be withdrawing my guns from their Coalition targets) and extending my scope across both the Irish Sea and the Atlantic.

For this, my first post on Irish politics, I thought I should address one of the biggest political issues on the other side of the Irish Sea at the moment, and that is the challenges facing Fianna Fáil as the general election edges closer and closer.

After enduring one of the worst recessions in Europe, Taoiseach Cowen and his government have been forced to make difficult economic decisions, surrounding the Irish defecit, and most recently the drama engulfing AIB. With an election close on the horizon, Cowen and the party face a number of challenges as they try to once again charm the Irish electorate.

Scandal tainted the Ahern government, and as the end of the meeting of TD’s and Senators in Galway drew to a close, the Cowen government seemed to be being dragged into another scandal, by those in Fine Gael who seem to relish frivolity.  The party woke yesterday to the accusation from Fine Gael TD Brian Coveney, that Taoiseach was apparently either drunk or hungover during an early morning radio interview with RTE. Seriously, who sounds good that early in the morning? I would love for Fine Gael to put a TD on Morning Ireland before seven o’clock in the morning who did not sound hoarse and tired.

This personal attack from Fine Gael was, as the Taoiseach said, “a new low for Irish politics”. However, this is this kind of thing the party needs to try and escape from. The spending cuts are really starting to bite, unemployment is high, house prices are falling and the government is being forced to make difficult choices as the Celtic Tiger is having to downsize.

What Fianna Fáil have to do is remind voters that they are the party focussed on delivering the best deal for ordinary Irish men and women, whilst holding the banks accountable, rather than focussing on attempting to score cheap political points as it is evident Fine Gael is focussed on.

The coming eighteen months in Irish politics are going to be interesting, and something the politicians on this side of the Irish Sea should keep an eye on.

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