Ten Tory MPs with less than 50% of the vote.

July 10, 2014

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It is true that if you were to include the number of potential voters in each constituency, no current Cabinet Minister would have received over 50% of the vote. But with the freedom to vote, comes the freedom to not vote, and with that in mind we should look more closely at the the percentage that current Tory MPs – seeking to impose voter threshold on strike action – managed to win at the 2010 general election, among actual voter turnout.

So here’s a quick list of ten:

  • Sajid Javid – MP for Bromsgrove and Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and Minister for Equalities – 43.7%.
    – A man who is in control of the state’s involvement in culture, media, sport, and has the key responsibility for equality in the UK, was elected with less than 50% of the vote in Bromsgrove.

  • David Jones – MP for Clyde West and Secretary of State for Wales – 41.5%.
    – A Secretary of State for an entire country, elected with a little over 40% of the vote.

  • Oliver Letwin – Minister of State at the Cabinet Office and Chairman of the Conservative Party’s Policy Review – 47.6%
    – Letwin – after winning less than 50% of the vote – insisted that public sector workers require “discipline and fear”. On a completely unrelated note, Letwin used £2,145 in Parliamentary expenses to fix a leaking pipe on his tennis court.

  • Mark Garnier – MP for Wyre Forest -36.9%
    On his website, speaking of strikes in November 2011, Garnier writes:

    “These strikes, which will cost the economy up to half a billion pounds, were not voted for by a majority and will hit ordinary working people hardest.”

    – Replace the words “strikes” with “Tories” in this massively ironic statement, and you have a far more honest sentence.

  • Jessica Lee – MP for Erewash & Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Attorney General Dominic Grieve – 39.5%.
  • Stephen Mosley – MP for the City of Chester – 40.6%
    – On his website, Mosley says:

    “The strike action undertaken by PCS union members in June highlighted the unconsidered approach that appears to be the default setting for many unions.
    Less than 20% of their members voted for the industrial action and less than half walked out on their responsibilities that day.”

    – Interesting admiration for majority votes, when almost 60% of Mosley’s own constituency doesn’t want him representing them.

  • Nicky Morgan – MP for Loughborough – 41.6%
    – Elected with a minority of the vote, and yet voted in an attempt to ensure same-sex couples couldn’t get married. She believes with less than 50%, she gets to regulate the love lives of others.

  • Edward Garnier – MP for Harborough, Knight Bachelor and former Solicitor General – 49%.
  • James Morris – MP for Halesowen & Rowley Regis – 41.2%
  • Paul Uppal – MP for Wolverhampton South West – 40.7%
    – Uppal voted in favour of a change to striking laws that would prohibit strikes in the transport sector unless a majority of the workforce voted in favour and not merely a majority of those voting. This same principle, if applied to Parliament, would mean every Cabinet Minister would not have been elected. The closest would have been Theresa May, though she’d still have fell short by 7%.

    – If a Conservative Party wishes to impose a 50% voter threshold on strike action, then I see no reason why there should not also be a 50% voter threshold on the ability to propose legislation and vote in Parliament. Indeed, if MPs with less than 50% of the vote in their own constituency can vote to restrict pay and pensions for public sector workers, I see no reason why those same public sector workers can’t then strike with less than 50% of the vote.

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  • Sarah Vine & Daily Mail land.

    June 11, 2014

    In the green pastures of Daily Mail land, where the year is perpetually 1950, Dvorak’s Symphony 9 plays on a loop, and everyone attends Church on a Sunday. Where someone with slightly darker skin in the village is a frightening novelty, morality and normality are defined by Christianity, gay folk are trying to destroy humanity, and someone with tattoos can only mean one thing; the decadent youth and their alien ways are throwing their lives away, destroying this once great country, and they don’t even know it. If only they’d suspend their critical faculties, and pick up the Daily Mail from time to time, the country could be great again!… Or something like that.

    I woke up shocked this morning. Shocked that my life has been a lie. Thanks to Sarah Vine over at the ever illuminating and rational Daily Mail, I learnt this morning that my tattoos are simply a “hideous” form of self harm. This came as a shock, because up until now, I thought I had my tattoos as a form of self expression, that I chose them because I felt they represented me in a way that I wanted to represent myself, and that they had a certain meaning to me and me alone. I thought I was pretty happy when I had my tattoos. Of course, we all have our problems in life, but on the whole, I really fucking love me. At least, that’s what I thought. I thought I knew what my tattoos meant to me, because, well, I’m me. That all changed this morning when I read Sarah Vine’s column for The Mail (and Tory’s and the Mail are notoriously excellent at understanding young people) and discovered I have serious mental health issues that I address by harming myself with tattoos. I discovered my friends must be covering their intense inner sorrow, with outward displays of faux-happiness and joy. I discovered that the word “self-harm” can now be thrown around whenever we see someone doing something we personally wouldn’t do.

    But then I thought, maybe it’s an ironic piece? I mean, there appears to be a noticeable irony in someone writing for the Daily Mail, and being married to Michael Gove having the nerve to refer to anything other than writing for the Daily Mail and being married to Michael Gove as “ghastly” and “self harm”. Perhaps it is Sarah Vine’s cry for help. I mean, she has her ears pierced; a needle pushed through the body, and a piece of metal shoved into the hole. Does this not also count as self harm? There can’t be much pleasure in writing for a newspaper famed for its tacit support for Fascism in the 1930s, and that recently hounded a transgender person – Lucy Meadows – to suicide, whilst married to a man universally hated by the profession he’s the Minister for. Perhaps at this point you’re thinking that I’m being incredibly judgmental in presuming that I get to tell someone else that their private life, their private loves, and the way they express themselves is “ghastly” or “self harm”. Yes… you’d be right. It’s pretty shitty and irrational of me, isn’t it?

    There is a degree of irony in the article itself:

    “Think of poor, frail Amy Winehouse, her emaciated limbs decorated like a navvy’s; think of the ethereal, fragile Peaches Geldof.”

    – Yes. Think of the ‘poor, frail Amy Winehouse’, like The Mail did when they plastered unflattering pictures of Amy Winehouse all over a completely irrelevant article, whilst needlessly poking fun at her, despite this being in the middle of her health issues:

    “At first glance it may seem she had forgotten to get dressed.
    But bra, shorts and ballet slippers almost count as overdressed for Amy Winehouse these days.”

    – Think of the ‘poor, frail Amy Winehouse’ like The Mail did with this article dedicated entirely to how ill she looked coming out of a restaurant:

    “The Rehab singer looked worse for wear after dining at Balans restaurant in London and exposed a small pot belly after the meal.”

    – Nothing says compassion and sensitivity for those suffering quite like having a gutter photographer selling you photos of every troubled moment, for a paper that gets a bizarre kick out of dehumanising those struggling. So yes, think of the ‘poor, frail Amy Winehouse’ and the grotesque rag of shit with a business model that relies on perpetuating the suffering and misery of others.

    The article goes on:

    “When I was Barkley’s age, tattoos were the preserve of sailors, Hell’s Angels and ex-cons.”

    – When my grandfather was my age, in the 1940s, writing for (or owning) The Daily Mail was the preserve of Nazi supporters and the British far right. Some things change, some things remain remarkably similar.

    The article goes on, still:

    “Twenty-year-old Ross Barkley, by contrast, has used his to illustrate his more contemplative side. On the outside of his arm, in Chinese script, the word ‘fengxian’, meaning ‘to devote’. And at the base of his hand, a quotation from none other than the Greek philosopher Aristotle: ‘No notice is taken of little evil. But when it increases it strikes the eye.’
    Wow. Who knew that beneath that rugged exterior lurked the sensitive soul of a classicist?”

    – This came as a shock to me too, because I have a rose tattooed on my arm, and I haven’t even studied botany. There is absolutely no reason why Barkley would need to know the first thing about the classical period, to take away something meaningful from a pretty universal quote. Indeed, that is part of the timeless genius of Aristotle. You don’t have to be a connoisseur of classical Greek philosophy, to take something meaningful from a fifteen word quote. Similarly, Sarah Vine doesn’t have to be an expert in the art of jewelry making, to have a piece of metal shoved in her ear.

    There is no single reason someone gets a tattoo. Do some people get tattoos as a form of self-harm? It’s a possibility, though I don’t know of anyone who has. For some, their bodies are a canvas for the art form. For others, a tattoo might commemorate a moment in time. For others, a tattoo might be a middle finger to a neat and tidy, soulless, and robotic business-defined culture they find to be so devoid of individuality. For me – as for all others – it is simply a form of self expression. I don’t care what someone else thinks of my tattoos. There is no hidden anguish in my choosing to be tattooed. Like the clothes I wear, the haircut (to an extent; though nature took away most of my hair) I have, the photographs I take, the words I write, the tattoos I have; all are forms of expressing myself, and myself alone. They mean something to me. We express ourselves in a variety of ways and what is important is that I decide what it is that represents expression to me. No one else. Certainly not a Tory journalist flippantly using the subject of mental health to explain away her personal dislike of tattoos, from the unbearably stagnant pastures of Daily Mail land.


    The Heroes of the Poppy Fields.

    November 10, 2013

    Source: Wikimedia Commons. Author: Tijl Vercaemer from Gent, Flanders #Belgium) (In Flanders Fields the poppies blow (3/3#)

    Source: Wikimedia Commons.
    Author: Tijl Vercaemer from Gent, Flanders #Belgium) (In Flanders Fields the poppies blow (3/3#)

    “In Flanders fields the poppies blow
    Between the crosses, row on row,
    That mark our place; and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
    Scarce heard amid the guns below.

    We are the Dead. Short days ago
    We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie
    In Flanders fields.

    Take up our quarrel with the foe:
    To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
    We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
    In Flanders fields.”
    – John McCrae 1915.

    They are human beings. They are not immune to horrendous fear and to physical and psychological harm. It is the measure of intense bravery to not only overcome those fears, but throw oneself into the middle of them. They are human beings. Through it all, through what most of us cannot imagine, they fought and died so that people like me have the luxury to write, speak, criticise, assemble, live and love happily and freely and without fear. This is heroism, and it is unforgettable.


    What Tories Say

    August 19, 2011

    “Our members are the most socially-engaged, the most civic-minded, the most neighbourly bunch of people in Britain.”
    David Cameron, 2010.

    It wasn’t long after not winning the election (or before actually), that the Tories who had clearly been told to keep quiet for the past few years whilst Cameron built up his “progressive, green Conservative” persona, managed to make it known just how much contempt they have for anyone who isn’t them. I thought i’d provide a definitive list of the things Tories say:

    “You might ask how all the single mothers congregating with their push-chaired spawn are able to afford both their beer and their tattoos – I have a horrible idea I am paying for both.”

    – Recently suspended for calling the rioters “jungle bunnies”, Tory Councillor on Dover District Council, Bob Frost.

    “Good candidate, shame he’s black.”

    – Tory Councillor John Major (not ex-Prime Minister) on an interviewee for a position as Chief Exec. of Monmouth County Council.

    “half a wog.”

    – Tory Councillor John Major (not ex-Prime Minister) on a slightly tanned work colleague.

    “I think I have behaved impeccably. I’ve done nothing criminal. Do you know what this is about? Jealousy. I’ve got a very, very large house. Some people say it looks like Balmoral, but it’s a 19th century merchant’s house. It’s not particularly attractive, but it just does me nicely and it’s got room to actually plant a few trees. I still don’t know what all the fuss is about. What right does the public have to interfere in my private life? None! It reminds me of an episode of Coronation Street.”

    – Tory MP for Totnes in Devon, Anthony Steen when questioned about his expenses claims, of which he claimed £87,000, for servicing his stately home, including 500 trees.

    “There is a real danger that the abolition of section 28 will lead to the promotion of a homosexual lifestyle as morally equivalent to marriage.“

    Theresa May, the Equalities Minister. Seriously.

    “Evidence is quite clearly emerging that man is not having the impact on the climate that the EU climate alarmists claim.“

    The website of “Freedom Association“, of which Tory MEP Roger Helmer is a key member. He is our East Midlands MEP. We received his campaign leaflet, of which it said:

    “Conservatives played a key role in making new laws to cut carbon emissions and promote renewable energy“.

    This part of the leaflet, was a major factor for the campaign, given that it had an entire section dedicated to:

    “tackling climate change”

    – We can always trust the Tories to have a public agenda that soon gets trumped by their private agenda. The leaflet then tells us just how busy and relevant their work in the European Parliament has been!

    “You can still buy your fruit and vegetables in pounds and ounces thanks to Conservative MEPs“

    – No more sleepless nights for me!

    “Can someone please stone Yasmin Alibhai-Brown to death? I shan’t tell Amnesty if you don’t. It would be a blessing, really.”

    – Tory Councillor Gareth Compton of Birmingham County Council, talking about writer Yasmin Alibhai-Brown. You can bet if she’d have said the same thing about him, most Tories would be up in arms about the disrespect a Muslim is showing to England.

    15 hours in Council today. Very hard hitting day and the usual collection of retards in the public gallery spoiling it for real people.

    – Leader of Kingston Upon Hull County Council. The “retards” being protesters, angry that the 15 hour day he had to so horribly endure, ended by him and his councilors making 1300 people redundant. They must have spoiled the joy on the faces of the miserable Tories who take such delight in instant job destruction.

    “I personally always took the view that, if you look at the case of should a Christian hotel owner have the right to exclude a gay couple from a hotel, I took the view that if it’s a question of somebody who’s doing a B&B in their own home, that individual should have the right to decide who does and who doesn’t come into their own home.”

    – Tory MP Chris Grayling. By his logic, businesses should be allowed to turn away anyone they don’t like the look of. If you’re Black, Grayling’s logic says that if a shop owner doesn’t want you in their shop, for being black, tough. A Gay couple shouldn’t have to worry that they might get turned away, for no other reason that the B&B owners religious bigotry. Same old Tories.

    “Given some of those people with a learning disability clearly, by definition, cannot be as productive in their work as somebody who has not got a disability of that nature, then it was inevitable given the employer was going to have to pay them both the same they were going to take on the person who was going to be more productive, less of a risk.
    If those people who consider it is being a hindrance to them, and in my view that’s some of the most vulnerable people in society, if they feel that for a short period of time, taking a lower rate of pay to help them get on their first rung of the jobs ladder, if they judge that that is a good thing, I don’t see why we should be standing in their way.””

    – Tory MP Philip Davies cloaking his apparent desire to see disabled people in the UK treated as a source of cheap labour, in bubble wrapped manipulative, like-he-gives-a-shit language.

    “if there’s anybody who should fuck off it’s the Muslims who do this sort of thing.”

    – Tory MP Philip Davies, after an act of vandalism which was later proven to have not involved any Muslims at all.

    “Why it is so offensive to black up your face, as I have never understood this?”

    – Tory MP Philip Davies.

    “I can understand how it looks, but it is being a bit too politically correct.”

    – Tory Councilor for Bolton, Bob Allen’s half arsed apology, in which, like every Right Winger when they’ve said spewed some deeply offensive moronic bullshit, blaming political correctness, after he posted a photo of a gorilla next to comments about an Asian colleague.

    “IF YOU DON’T PASS THIS ON TO ALL YOUR FRIENDS YOU WILL RECEIVE 3 ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS ABSOLUTELY FREE.”

    BNP Tory Councillor Simon Farnsworth for Ribble Valley council, at the end of a racist email joke sent to Tory colleagues. Then forwarded by Councilor Ken Hind. My favourite, is Hind’s apology:

    “I am privileged to name amongst my friends and associates many who are of Asian or African origin.”

    – He can’t be racist! He knows a black person!

    “I object to being required to embrace an agenda that actively supports and positively discriminates in favour of people who I consider to be sexual deviants and who engage in practices contrary to my religious beliefs.”

    – Tory Councillor for Derbyshire County Council, Patrick Clark, on Homosexuality. Another brilliant excuse:

    “The term deviant just means different, it was not derogatory.”

    Conservativehome.com, quick to distance themselves from Clark’s comments, went full force with their attack on his 1950s style homophobia and dogmatic religious nonsense:

    The “sexual deviants” reference was pretty unfortunate

    – YEAH! That told him!

    “All women should be sterilised”

    Tory Candidate Ross Coates offering his gem of wisdom on the “problem” of women getting pregnant at work.

    “close to the minimum wage”

    – Tory MP David Wilshire, describing his £64,000 a year salary.

    “Recruiting ethnic people into key public sector organisations— in place to protect us—is a risk.

    – Tory MP, and ex-Shadow Minister for Homeland Security, Patrick Mercer, on revelations, which not surprisingly turned out to be entirely false, from the Daily Mail that the police force had been infiltrated by Muslim Extremists working for Al Qaeda.

    “I came across a lot of ethnic minority soldiers who were idle and useless.”

    – Tory MP and ex-Shadow Minister for Homeland Security, Patrick Mercer, on his time in the Armed Forces.

    “The witch hunt against MPs in general will undermine democracy. It will weaken parliament – handing yet more power to governments. Branding a whole group of people as undesirables led to Hitler’s gas chambers.”

    – Tory MP David Wilshire, comparing MPs during the expenses scandal, to Hitler’s Nazi Germany. This is a few weeks after it was revealed he had claimed over £100,000 for the running of his own company. Apparently, we should be proud of that essential democratic tradition of profiting from public funds during economic downturns.

    “Should rioters also lose benefits? I approach this question with a belief that loss of benefits for a significant period might be a deterrent to some rioters, irrespective of whatever other punishments the courts may rightly impose.”

    – This beautiful statement was made, as I was writing this. Tory MP James Clappison calling for rioters to have their benefits cut. Interesting moral crusade, given that Clappison claimed over £100,000 despite owning 24 houses, a cricket club, 75 acres of land and a farm. His claims include TV licence, a cleaner, and Sky TV. The hypocrisy is outstanding. Actually, it makes my head want to explode. I cannot comprehend the upper class stupidity at this level. They are oblivious to the real World. To be fair to Clappison, he is trying to join the 21s….actually, the 20th Century, by claiming £295 in 2007….. for a VCR.

    “Yes, if you can believe it, homosexuality will be on the curriculum for students studying maths, geography and science.
    This plan is ludicrous and pushes political correctness to new bounds
    I would have thought raising educational standards and teaching our children to read, write and add up is far more important than imposing questionable sexual standards on those too young to understand their equality czars.”

    – Apparently Tory MP Richard Drax (full name: Richard Grosvenor Plunkett-Ernle-Erle-Drax) doesn’t think teaching children the importance of social acceptance is a reasonable idea. He seems to believe we either teach kids that homosexuality is not a great taboo, or we teach them how to read. Apparently we can’t have both. He then claimed he had meant that kids just wouldn’t understand teaching homosexual issues. Meanwhile, Tory Schools Minister Michael Gove said that our history class rooms should:

    “celebrate the distinguished role of these islands in the history of the world, a beacon of liberty for others to emulate”.

    – If that isn’t propaganda of the worst type, I’m not sure what is. I wonder if children will understand that?

    Cameron’s morality machine 2011, is in full swing!


    The curse of Letwin

    August 1, 2011

    The Conservative Government REALLY need an Alastair Campbell. Desperately. They attempted to secure a Campbell figure to head their PR team, with the [sarcarm] brilliantly managed and executed appointment of Andy Coulson.[/sarcasm] It would take a top PR team most of the day, every day, to ensure Oliver Letwin, the Minister of State for Policy, keeps his grotesque mouth closed whenever someone from the press is around, because he betrays the idea that the Tories have change, or modernised, since, well, around the 19th Century. Letwin is a left over from a group of Etonians who clearly and misguidedly believe they have a right to rule by way of their heritage. It is an arrogance that the Cameron Government will never shake, because they are the living embodiment of that privileged arrogance. They have disastrously inter-breeded this mentality with a Thatcherite economic mentality that is as dangerous as it is out-dated. His disastrous face, screams contempt for anyone who isn’t Oliver Letwin. He is a PR disaster. It is one of the many reasons (another being massive incompetence and dishonesty – which we’ll come to later) that he was overlooked when the Tories were searching for a leader. Hell, they even chose Iain Duncan Smith, does anyone remember him?

    With a face looking as if someone had created him out of the concept of pompous twat, Oliver Letwin has once more allowed the Conservative Party mask it currently shrouds itself in, to fall, revealing a Thatcherite brigade just as frightening and dangerous as their 1980s counterparts.

    Letwin had told a consultancy firm, that his proposals for public sector reform should instill:

    “some real discipline and some fear”

    He said this, because he believes the productivity of the public sector has failed. It is a strange comment and angle to take, given that the private sector has spent the past four years creating sovereign debt crises’ everywhere it goes. Productivity is very difficult to measure in the public sector, because the public sector is not about creating anything. Investment in the public sector has seen waiting lists for operations down year on year since the last Tory administration. Teaching standards are also up. The public sector does not “make” things. So talk of productivity in comparison to the private sector, is futile and misleading. It strikes me as wholly patronising that a man such as Oliver Letwin has the balls to lecture public sector workers – teachers, doctors, nurses, firemen – on what “real discipline” is. They are not children. They also did not claim public money for ludicrous items like mortgage interest payments. Also, the public sector hasn’t spent twenty five years creating a system of easy credit to boost the excessive pay of CEOs and Managing Directors, whilst the average worker saw overall increase in wages? And then when the company or bank failed miserably, the “fear” was THAT pertinent that the CEOs are given massive pay offs and lovely big bonuses. All this, whilst the public sector is told constantly, and has been told constantly, from Thatcher, to Major, to Blair, to Brown and now to Cameron, that it is not good enough, that it must be modelled on a failing private sector built on squeezing productivity out through long hours, a mountain of stress, and all for less pay whilst the big boss is compensated for his little contribution to overall productivity with huge salary and bonuses; and that their jobs are always on the line. A private sector model should be as far away from inflicting misery on the public sector, as possible.

    It isn’t the first time Letwin has revealed his hostility to those less fortunate. Earlier this year, he surprised and disgusted the most posh of Tories, Boris Johnson, by telling Johnson:

    “We don’t want more people from Sheffield flying away on cheap holidays.”

    – At least he recognises that the North suffered horrifically with the gutting of jobs and thus wealth during the Thatcher years. Though he seems to have suggested that it is perfectly okay for the wealthy Southerners to pay for expensive holidays and that holidaying abroad should be based on wealth. I expect he thought he was at home with Boris, and could reveal his true feelings, but sometimes posh Tory twats seriously misjudge the situation, and regret the fact that their well crafted public self has been set on fire by their real self. This seems to happen a lot with Letwin. And now on to why I referred to his as a hypocrite:

    In 2005 Letwin used the phrase “Wealth Distribution” in a positive light! I know! I was shocked too when I first read it. A Tory, interested and supportive of wealth distribution? Surely not! Well, actually, not. 2005 was the year Cameron was trying to pose as being a “progressive conservative“, deeply contradictory term yet one he managed seemingly to work. Letwin clearly took on that contradictory term, by trying to fill out a left wing term with right winged substance in the hope that no one would scratch below the service. He said:

    …….not by trying to do down those with most but by enabling those who have least to share an increasing part of an enlarging cake.

    – In practice what this means is, a desire to scrap the top rate of tax for the richest, a desire to lower the Corporation tax rate to the lowest recorded level, a desire to allow companies like Vodaphone a get out of jail free card by writing off their tax debt, whilst at the same time cutting allowance for the disabled, the elderly, according to a report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary Letwin must be talking about the 16000 less police Britain will have after this Parliament; according to the leaks that the Guardian currently has; the Tory’s new director of policy Steve Hilton, suggesting abolishing maternity leave whilst also abolishing ALL consumer rights legislation. Just to reiterate….. this man, is the Nation’s DIRECTOR OF POLICY. Now i’m not saying these idiotic and deeply right winged ideas of Hilton’s are likely to become a reality. To suggest so would put me on the same wavelength as the manic Right Wingers who would constantly suggest that New Labour were about to ban England shirts and change the name of Christmas, or ban you from being white. Letwin must believe Hilton’s ideas will “enable” those with the least to a share of an increasingly large cake. Tories consider Hilton a genius…… not just because of his ideas (which aren’t in any sense a spark of genius) but also because he doesn’t wear shoes in Downing Street and they consider this “wacky”. In their defence, it is as wacky as most Tories are likely to see, given that they are born wearing business suits, slick back hair, and spend the next twenty years trying to hide the fact that their schooling experience is a plethora of homoeroticism cunningly disguised as a love of “Rugger“. It can’t have been too many years ago when gay and black people were described by most Tories as “wacky“. Hilton, like Letwin, is politically dangerous.

    The reason why Letwin is hypocritical in his desire to do away with the idea that public money can actually do good, is because he used public money to claim over £80,000 for his Cottage in Somerset, in order to heat the place, empty the septic tank, £1000 in mortgage interest and most beautifully of all…… over £2000 to repair a leaking pipe underneath his tennis court. So much for “real discipline and fear“.

    Either the Tory Party spend some time searching and investing in a decent PR figure, or they sew Oliver Letwin’s mouth closed, he is a liability to the Conservatives, and a liability to humanity.


    Phone Hacking, The BBC, Left Wing Conspiracies and Boris!

    July 20, 2011

    There are a lot of blogs and articles surrounding the staggering resignations, deaths, arrests and revelations surrounding the Met and its Press Office run almost entirely by ex-News Corp journalists and their incompetent handling of two investigations; the utterly absurd judgement and ignorance of the Prime Minister; the shameful opportunism of Ed Milliband; with regard to the News Corp hacking issue. There are hundreds of articles and new revelations popping up every day. So I wanted to a somewhat different angle to this, and run down a tangent.

    Though first, it seems that the Prime Minister is on the very brink of being dragged underwater and his Premiership drowned (I say that, with a lasting smirk on my face) as it emerged that not only was Coulson brought into Tory Party HQ, but also Ex-News of the World deputy editor Neil Wallis, who is one of the people who have been arrested so far, was an adviser to Coulson after Coulson began work for the Tories. This is particularly toxic for Number 10, because Wallis has already brought down Met Chief Sir Paul Steve Stephenson and Deputy Met Chief John Yates after it was revealed that the Met had employed Wallis as a PR consultant. This will be worth following, because even Tory blogger Iain Dale makes the extraordinary suggestion that Cameron could be brought down by this scandal. This is echoed with Tory blogger Mark Thompson offering up Theresa May as a replacement for Cameron, after betting agencies were taking 6-1 bets on Cameron being brought down, down from 100-1 two weeks ago.

    Anyway. Onto the main point.

    At Prime Minister’s questions last week, Tory MP for Beverley and Holderness, Graham Stuart asked the Prime Minister if the police would also be investigating what he refers to as a “criminal conspiracy” at the heart of the previous Labour Government and the Murdoch Empire, into the desire to undermine Tory Peer Lord Ashcroft in the run up to the General Election.

    I think it necessary to evaluate the character of Graham Stuart MP directly, as to discern whether his little outburst is worthy of our attention.

    When Graham Stuart was at Cambridge, he was the Chairman of the Cambridge University Conservative Association. His term also coincided with a scandal, in which voting for his election was seen as suspicious and irregularities in the outcome meant that eight of his colleagues in the CUCA resigned in protest. Eight!

    As well as having a face you just want to slap, and being a little bit untrustworthy at election time, he also managed to acquire the services of the repair men to resurface his private road leading up to his luxury mansion, at a usual cost of £2,500….. for free. There are potholes on the public roads around the town that he lives, but instead the resurfacing was used for his private estate.

    But even if he had to pay for the road (which he didn’t), he would be able to, with the money he saves on his fortune, through his expense claims, which he thinks are perfectly legitimate. According to his forms, that I have spent the past couple hours of my apparently boring life reading through, he claimed half the electricity bill, half the rent on the flat which comes to £1400 a month, half the council tax, food, internet, phone, mobile phone, digital camera, tripod, an Egyptian cotton satin sheet worth £40, £240 on bed linen from John Lewis which he says represented “good value for money“, four £86 pillow cases, £8,500 on food between 2005-2009, he claimed £85 from a company called “Freestye Design” whom design company logos. I wondered why he’d be using a company like that. When his expenses were released, he said:

    “if anyone has any questions or queries about individual claims they are more than welcome to email me or contact my office and I will do my best to answer them.”

    So that’s exactly what I did.
    He didn’t reply.

    So, given that this man has a bit of a dodgy typical Tory character, one has to examine his question. The point he was trying to raise, was that Tom Baldwin, Head of communications for Ed Miliband, had obtained information about the Tory Lord’s tax affairs illegally. It’s an odd charge to make, given that no one is likely to feel all that sympathetic toward a Lord, worth over £1bn at the heart of a Government (who, indeed, is the largest donor to the Tory government) whose mantra is “save save save!!” Money must be saved everywhere, disabled people must lose out, children must lose out, everyone who isn’t rich must lose out…….. except for Lord Ashcroft, who isn’t contributing to the save save save mantra, because the “illegally obtained information” showed that he is classified as a non-dom, which means he doesn’t pay any UK tax on his fortune made abroad. Yet, he is part of a legislature, that insists the UK is on the “brink of bankruptcy“. He is hardly likely to foster the sympathy of a public, in the same way that the hacking of Millie Dowler’s phone gained. The Tories are actively trying to divert attention away from themselves, because not only did David Cameron appoint Andy Coulson (they clearly want, and desperately need an Alistair Campbell), but Boris Johnson, the Tory Mayor of London referred to the hacking scandal last year, as a Left Wing conspiracy. Whenever a Right Winger uses the term “left wing conspiracy” to refer to something they do not like (it happens alot in America, who, any time a gay guy says he wishes to get married to the love of his life, some lunatic Republican insists it’s all part of the “gay agenda“), I often want to bang my face against a wall and weep for the sanity of that particular section of humanity. Take Janet Daley writing in the Telegraph yesterday:

    …..that great edifice of self-regarding, mutually affirming soft-Left orthodoxy which determines the limits of acceptable public discourse – of which the BBC is the indispensable spiritual centre.

    Firstly, she does what most right wingers do, and suggests the BBC has a horrid left wing bias. She will no doubt point to some illogical evidence to back up her point, whilst ignoring all evidence to the contrary. The BBC, to me, has no real bias. It is almost impossible for a media organisation to be objective when objectivity itself is impossible with regard to politics. For example, whilst Daley will claim that Euroscepticism doesn’t get treated as a legitimate political view on the BBC, it is equally as important to point out (which she doesn’t) that the BBC personality who presents all their Westminster shows, is Andrew Neil, a man who was in the Conservative Club at the University of Glasgow, was a Conservative Party Research Assistant, and stood side by side with his former boss; Rupert Murdoch at the launch of Sky in the 1980s, before becoming a writer for the Daily Mail. It is almost impossible to become more right winged, before morphing into Margaret Thatcher. And he presents all of the BBCs Westminster coverage. The Daily Politics, sees Andrew Neil flanked by Labour MP for Hackney, Diane Abbott (never been a minister, or taken particularly seriously in politics) and Michael Portillo, a former Tory Defence Secretary, Shadow Chancellor, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Secretary of State for Employment, and potential leadership candidate. The balance is tipped very much in the direction of the Right on this one.
    The political editor at the BBC is Nick Robinson. One quick google search shows that Robinson, during his time at Oxford, was not just a member, but President of the Oxford University Conservative Association. He was National Chairman of the Young Conservatives. Before the 2010 election he compared Cameron to Disraeli. After the election when the coalition agreements were being debated and drawn up, he referred to a Lib/Lab coalition as a “Coalition of losers“. And contrary to the views of the those of us on the Left, on his blog Robinson says of Cameron:

    David Cameron prides himself on being bold when big moments occur – challenging for the Tory leadership in 2005, calling on Gordon Brown to have a snap election in 2007 and that “big, bold and generous” offer to form the Coalition in 2010.

    What Robinson has done there, has metaphorically kissed and caressed a photo of David Cameron.

    Daley is so blissfully ignorant to the fact that the past two years has seen the political discourse dominated by the desire to see deep public sector cuts rather than tax hikes for the wealthy; it has seen the emergence of the desire to revert back to the Capitalism that indeed failed and brought the World crashing down with it from both Labour and the Tories, and it has seen the discourse in the media and from the mouths of politicians everywhere throw spear after vicious spear at the hearts of anyone on benefits or in a Union. The NHS has been attacked, the Welfare state has been attacked, Universities have been attacked, the public purse has been attacked, and yet the very people who caused the mess in the first place have been given vast pensions and allowed to go free. A Guardian poll yesterday showed the Tories ahead of Labour, which all suggests that the public discourse and its limits are very firmly in the court of the Right Wing. A left wing discourse would, above all, launch a sustained attack on the very need for public sector cuts in the first place, it would be calling for a complete reinvention of the economic system as opposed to ignoring the inherent flaws which WILL lead to another crash, it would be unequivocally supportive of the Unions and public sector workers rather than painting them as out of touch, greedy, and overpaid, it would be constantly presenting the information surrounding Corporate tax avoidance and the obscenely high cost to the taxpayer rather than attacking the single mum who claims a few quid more than she perhaps should. As a left winger, it is an insult to hear the discourse of the political landscape in this country referred to as left wing. But that is the superb nature of right winged discourse, unless we’re throwing anyone with an Asian complexion out of the country, privatising the NHS, and shooting the families of Union leaders in the face, they will insist the Country is too left wing. Boris Johnson did that when he claimed the coverage of Phone hacking was all part of a left wing conspiracy. The same Boris Johnson who will now, in his short term as Mayor of London, see the arrival of the third Met Commissioner on his watch. Not a great record. So that’s Boris, Cameron, The Met, Lord Ashcroft (who we are now supposed to feel sympathetic toward) and Graham Stuart MP, who have not had the greatest of records pertaining to the phone hacking scandal.

    Back to Ashcroft. In 2005, he commissioned two polls by YouGov and Populus. The polls were huge, and were set up to help the Tories target marginal seats, therefore it is most certainly in the public interest. He commissioned them and paid for them through his company which is based in Belize, which means he didn’t pay any VAT on them. The Guardian estimated that he owed £40,000 in unpaid VAT. Ironically, Vince Cable, now part of the Tory government funded by Ashcroft, said at the time:

    “This is quite serious. We are now not talking just about Ashcroft’s non-dom status, but about systematic tax avoidance in funding Conservative party activities such as polling.”

    – So why on Earth should I care that a man who sort to keep his tax details private whilst funding a Party who would almost certainly allow his abuses to continue as they gutted the public purse, had his details extracted illegally? There are levels of poor conduct within the journalist arena, and those conducted by Brooks and Coulson and the Met (the Chief of the Met had a meeting with the Guardian to urge them to drop the phone hacking investigation last year) and in-directly, David Cameron, is far far worse than those by Tom Baldwin.

    Graham Stuart MP should quit his ramblings and just go back to his mansion, and lay on his Egyptian Satin tax payer funded sheets.

    The saga continues…


    A Neoliberal Attack…

    July 13, 2011

    Religious people are far more likely to engage in conversation about religion with me, after I mention that I have studied Philosophy and take an interest in Theology. I think they presume I will agree with their thoughts and perhaps provide reasoning to their illogical beliefs. I think they imagine that one can only speak with conviction on matters of religion, if one is religious in an academic sense. The same is true of many walks of life, not least the public sector in England. Because Tory MPs are essentially a part of the public sector, they seem to believe they have the right to talk of all public sector workers, as if they’re the official spokespeople for the public sector.

    On Question Time last week, John Redwood, Tory MP for Wokingham appeared delighted as he informed the audience that as a public sector worker, he would be working longer and putting more money into his pension pot as a result of his Government’s reforms, and he was proud of it. The reason John Redwood can seem so pleased with himself that he is accepting the changes to his pension and retirement age, is because on top of the £65,000 a year he earns as an MP, he also claimed a hell of a lot of money, that regular public sector workers could only dream of. Yet, Mr Redwood seems to think his claims were perfectly reasonable, as suggested on his own personal blog:

    In 2007-8 I claimed a total of £105,917. This made me the 19th cheapest MP, claiming around £40,000 less than the average. One fifth of that claim was the mortgage interest costs, the Council Tax and service charge and maintenance on a bedsit flat in Pimlico. It is entirely used to enable me to work longer days in London when there is important Parliamentary business. During my ownership it has only been slept in by myself. I do not need it for any other purpose. The deposit and repayments of capital are of course paid for out of my taxed income.

    – We should be thanking him, for claiming in one year, more than a teacher is likely to earn in five years. We should be happy that tax payers money is going to fund the “maintenance” on his Pimlico flat. We should be grateful that the money spent on his mortgage interest (tax payers money) will go to buying a flat he can then sell when he retires, making a handsome profit, and giving nothing back to the public, whilst his party continue to force harsh austerity. One does wonder what the purpose of his 2004/5 claim of £13,305 for his luxurious house in Berkshire (a £1,000,000 estate which he fully owns), including £168 and £112 for his lawn to be reseeded, and how that is “entirely used to enable me to work longer days in London when there is important Parliamentary business” was needed for, but nevertheless, i’m sure it’s just as noble as the necessity of “maintenance” claims on the MILLIONAIRE’S flat in London. Thank you John “Jesus Christ” Redwood. You are a hero.

    A man in the audience pointed out that the Private Sector has forced through harsh pension reforms, and so the Public Sector should do the same and “modernise”. The audience were alive with cheer! But it got me thinking; why is it always the public sector that is made to look as though it is in the wrong, like a Soviet leftover, trailing behind the private sector. People seem happy to accept the notion that if the private sector is screwing people over, then so should the public sector! Why is no one arguing that the private sector should be actively forced to lift itself up to the level of the public sector? As far as I can discern, over the past twenty five years it has been an out of control short-term wealth obsessed private sector that has been so majestically out of control, that when the bubble finally cracked, the public sector had to take the hit.

    Let’s look at examples of the private sector providing a “modernising” model that the public sector ought to apparently follow:

    Lloyds TSB is currently 43.4% owned by the taxpayer. Yet, its new Chief Executive, Antonio Horta-Osorio received a signing on fee of £4.1mn in shares, £516,000 in money, and an annual salary of £1.6mn with a yearly bonus of £2.5mn.

    A wonderful company named Trafigura, in 2010 leased a ship called the Probo Koala to a company called Compagnie Tommy, with the intent to dump toxic waste at a waste disposal sight in Amsterdam. The site raised their prices by 20 times that quoted, because the toxic waste was deemed to be far more dangerous that Compagnie Tommy and Trafigura first suggested. So, a new company set up on the Ivory Coast agreed to take the waste, for a very cheap sum. Trafigura did not investigate just why this new company was offering to take the waste for such a cheap price. After the waste was dumped, ten people died from poisoning, and over 100,000 became ill. Trafigura said they’d tested the waste, and it wasn’t toxic, and that they had no idea why so many people became ill. The Dutch tested the waste and found it contained two tonnes of Hydrogen Sulfide. A killer gas. Trafigura spent three years publicly denying the waste they dumped in a poverty stricken area of Africa, was not enough to kill people. Suddenly, Trafigura offered to pay a massive amount of compensation of Euro152,000,000 to the Ivory Coast (which didn’t go to the victims) with the instruction that on acceptance of the compensation, they couldn’t be prosecuted or causing death in the courts. The reason they did this, is because The Guardian obtained – through Wikileaks – private company emails from Trafigura in which they quite plainly accept, as early as 2006 before they’d even chosen the Ivory Coast to dump the waste, that the waste was indeed dangerous.

    According to the Guardian, Diageo PLC, the company that makes Guiness, in 2009 paid as little as 2% tax on its profits, despite racking in £2bn in profits. Diageo pays its Chief Executive £3.6mn salary. To fill this gap, it takes 20,000 ordinary British households per year.

    The term “Modernising” has come to mean subtle privatising of key services in recent years. An economic laissez faire that apparently promised to solve all of our problems. The outsourcing of cleaning from NHS to private companies with £94mn worth of contacts, led to such declining standards between ’83-’00, that an extra emergency £31mn was injected into cleaning in the NHS, with the a Patient Environment Action Team (PEAT), set up to visit hospitals to ensure standards were being met; the Private sector had failed. By 2000, only 20% of NHS Trusts had achieved an acceptable level of cleanliness.

    The banks aren’t the only sector that have required government bail outs in recent history. In 2002, British Energy (privatised under the Tories) had to approach the government for a £410mn bail out to finance its debts.

    News of the World. I believe this doesn’t need elaborating on.

    Private sector bonuses and high CEO pay, is more harmful to you and I, than highly paid private sector bosses. When money accumulates in the hands of very few people within the private sector (we spend more in the private sector, than on taxes), the cost gets passed on to us. The Bush tax cuts, along with the deregulation of the financial sector didn’t go toward greater investment, it went to increasing the pay and bonuses of those at the top, and the cost was passed on to us, through the creation of a very easy credit system. We all know how that turned out.

    British Airways, under the incompetent management of Willie Walsh faced massive fines (record breaking fine actually) for price fixing, long drawn out industrial disputes with the cabin crew which the media helped by describing the cabin crew as greedy, despite 2000 of their workmates being laid off, the company making huge losses, and Willie Walsh taking in a 6% inflation busting pay rise, taking it to £743,000 and £1.1mn in deferred share bonuses. Enough to keep at least ten people on at BA, who otherwise lost their job. The media will never paint the boss as the greedy incompetent bastard in this kind of dispute. It will always find a child at Heathrow, crying, because the cabin crew strike means he wont see his mummy this Christmas. The media do not tend to side with the unions, they never will, and so neither will the ill-informed public.

    Do we need to even mention the banking system? A particularly ironic take on this whole new “private good public bad” era of austerity we are living in.

    Thankfully we have the Government’s new corporate team, who will help him “stand up to business”. On the panel, inevitably, is Philip Green, Topshop mogul who owns Taveta Investments, which he put in his wife’s name, who happens to live in Monaco, thus avoiding £285mn in tax. He also paid his family £1.2bn, taken from a loan in the name of his company, thus cutting Corporation tax because the loan’s interest charges were offset against profit. Oh and he also uses sweatshops in Mauritius, whilst claiming his obscene bonuses are justified because he “takes risks”. Another on the panel, is Justin King, Chairman of Sainsbury’s. In his first year, he received free shares worth over £500,000, whilst axing the £120 christmas bonus for his staff. After his staff didn’t receive their christmas bonus, King awarded his wealthy finance director £357,000 worth of shares. King was also offered 1,000,000 free shares, if he met specific targets the year before. He didn’t meet the targets, the company’s profits fell 2.9% and yet he still took home 86% of the promised shares. He will be given the same year on year, on top of his £500,000+ a year salary.

    We all know that the private sector has the potential to deliver fantastic opportunities, despite the fact that its raison d’etre is unjustifiable power and wealth in the hands of people who simply injected the first dose of capital required to kick start the specific business, as if that initial injection of capital somehow creates a universal, unbreakable law, like gravity, that requires the majority of the subsequent profit and the decisions required to move the business forward, be placed in the hands of the person who injected that capital. It’s a bit of a flawed and odd concept that people just tend to accept. But, it does create opportunity (though it doesn’t necessarily have to be the only way of creating opportunity). The downside, is unregulated greed. The public sector is a constant target of abuse from the source of that greed, and the politicians that the greed of the private sector can buy. Corportocracy at its finest and most dangerous.

    Isn’t it about time a Politician had the balls to stand up and say the Private Sector over the past thirty years has spiraled disastrously out of control, and perhaps needs to be able to pay people a decent living wage, as opposed to bringing the public sector down to the unacceptable level of the private sector?