Monday, October 17, 2011

Words you seldom hear...

"Today Nigel Ashton is the inheritor of that tradition which was founded on Methodism and temperance."

I'm sure Nigel won't mind me quoting Iain Brodie-Browne's comment in his tribute to Southport's David Bentliff.

I don't know about the Methodism but everything else is true and tells us how the world changes.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Plan A: get out of that, George !

Here's the image I have been looking for to illustrate the deficit reduction policy which inhibits growth and therefore reduces the revenue from taxation and makes the deficit harder to reduce. These men were installing bollards to stop vehicles going on the pavement. How are they going to get out now ?

Go away and read Keynes, the lot of you !

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Please yourselves - I'm here all week (1)

The Liberal Democrats Conference Committee has an unfortunate habit of timing debates I am due to speak in for 9.00 am usually on a Sunday morning. A few years ago we were debating what is now called Ballistic Missile Defence (unless the military-industrial complex has come up with a new bit of camouflage / acronym / euphemism). It used to be called Strategic Defence Initiative (SDI) or more commonly just "Star Wars". In my speech I outlined the cost, the fact that it didn't work and the threat the idea posed to disarmament negotiations. I concluded, "Very expensive, ineffective and hostile. So what's the answer ? It isn't rocket science, is it ?". I thought this was rather good but from the small squad of comatose conference addicts who had crawled into the chamber came not a titter, let alone a chuckle. I did notice however a small smile creep across the countenance of Tom McNally. Thanks. It's nice to be appreciated.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

She's right - it's mad.

Lottery winner Angela Dawes said she and her husband woke up as ordinary people in the morning and now have over £100 million, adding, "It's mad". She's right. Millions of people bet money on the lottery every week (not the Daweses - they tried only three times) with astronomical odds against winning. Ask the same people to vote for a government that wants them to pay one penny more in tax to be spent according to a democratic collective decision and they vote against it. So people would rather part with a pound or more every week with an infinitesimal chance of personal benefit knowing that the biggest beneficiary (apart from the shareholders in Camelot) will profit not from hard work or talent but sheer blind luck. Mad indeed. The lottery is an investment in stupidity and a tax on hope.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Never mind the quality, feel the width

Liberal Democrats are constantly reminded by their leaders of the concessions made by the Tories in coalition, most recently at conference. The Tory website Conservative Home also harps on about it. A more considerate assessment can be found in UCL's report "One Year On"

The problem is that the width of Liberal Democrat policy gains is not matched by the quality whereas the party's losses in policy terms are gaping holes. It's as if you bought trousers with a generous waistline but no material behind leaving a bare backside to be kicked. The voters might ignore the fine work on the lapels and collar if the pockets were empty with a big hole in the bottom.

As Nick Clegg noted at conference, "Probably the most important lesson I have learned is this: No matter how hard you work on the details of a policy, it's no good if the perception is wrong. ". The Clinton mantra "It's the economy stupid" is still true. No amount of blaming Labour for the mess, however justified, will save our bacon in 2015 if too many people are out of work.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Tails lash at Tory Conference.

Claws were out at the Tory Conference as Teresa May and Ken Clarke clashed over the Home Secretary's claim that courts applying the ECHR's Article 8 on family life allowed an illegal immigrant to stay in the UK because he had a cat. May has now admitted that this was not true. The judge was ruling on the veracity of the man's relationship with his partner, which was partly evidenced by the joint purchase of a cat.

The Guardian report says "May's speech was not shown to Clarke. In common with conference speeches by all cabinet minsters, it was cleared with the "quad" committee of David Cameron, Nick Clegg, George Osborne and Danny Alexander.". Come on Nick and Danny ! Wake up and smell the Tories. Don't leave the defence of the ECHR to Ken Clarke alone.