Thursday, 28 May 2009

Gordon Brown

The renewed leadership speculation about Gordon Brown is alarming. We need a save Gordon campaign. A new Labour leader will get some kind of a boost, go to the country because they'll have to, and the risk of a hung parliament will increase hugely. Gordon, don't do it. We need you.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

MPs' Expenses

Qlikview, a company I've just purchased dashboard technology from for my organisation, have put together a great web based demo application on MPs' expenses. Public institutions could learn from this in terms of providing transparency over how they spend out money.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Elections and Punishing Parties

It seems clear that many voters will punish the major parties by voting for minor parties such as UKIP, the Green Party and the BNP in the European elections. It is, of course, anyone's right to do this. However, I disagree with the principle of using votes negatively like this.

The major parties are bigger than their individual MPs. It appears that most MPs from most parties have not defrauded the taxpayer or sought to profit from the expenses system. It is also true that of people elected under the banner of the three main parties less than 0.1% have abused their expenses. Up and down the country, councillors from all parties are squeaky clean, as are, it seems, at least a substantial proportion of MPs.

Those MPs that have abused the expenses system should be drummed out of their parties immediately. However, we should not punish the majority of honest politicians who are standing on June 4th. It will be particularly harsh to turn out honest politicians through voting for a party whose MEPs are as bad as the worst Tory MPs on expenses (UKIP), or a party whose leader is an overt racist and which has some truly nasty policies (BNP).

Saturday, 16 May 2009

MPs' expenses

David Cameron has made good statements on the expenses scandal and demonstrated his skill as a politician. However, his statements do not go far enough because they do not punish individuals who, if they were elected councillors rather than MPs, would be prosecuted.

He needs to state that any Conservative MP who is found to have claimed expenses that were not wholly and exclusively incurred in the execution of their job as an MP is automatically deselected and unable to stand for the Conservative Party again. It doesn't matter who they are, their length of service, or their seniority.

Still, over a week into this scandal, not one MP has been deselected. I fear for the consequences for the Conservative Party at the June 4th elections. 

Monday, 11 May 2009

MPs Expenses

I find it hard to belief that there has been no ministerial or shadow ministerial resignations yet over expenses, nor any deselections or threats of deselections. The Conservatives need to be very, very careful. The latest opinion poll already has them dropping below 40% for the first time in 2009. If David Cameron is not seen to take action then the party will drop further in the polls and people's estimation. 

When people are disillusioned with mainstream parties, they turn to the fringe. The fringe is often extreme. This is what happened in Weimar Germany. Of course, at that time, Germany was in a dire economic recession with people losing their jobs and little prospect of employment, there was gross unfairness in society and crime was rampant; government was unrespected and powerless...

Hhhhmmmm....maybe the parallels between Weimar Germany and Britain now are stretched but they are not that absurd. An apology from David Cameron is inadequate. MPs that have abused taxpayer's money must resign for this to be put behind the Conservative party. The best thing now for the party will be a handful of by-elections in the constituencies of the worst offenders;  that would demonstrate the necessary toughness and re-establish faith in the Conservative Party.

Friday, 8 May 2009

MPs' expenses

Many of the revelations about MPs' expenses are appalling; a number of cabinet ministers should resign in shame at their abuse of taxpayer's money. However, the fuss about Gordon Brown's cleaning expenses is not actually that bad. Gordon Brown was an appallingly bad Chancellor who helped create the economic mess in which he now finds himself as Prime Minister. He is tribally party political to a greater extent than any past Prime Minister. He is short-termist and lacks vision or courage to make the changes the country needs. 

But I do think he is an honest man and the hounding of him over expenses does not help respect for politics in this country. The media should focus on the crooks amongst the politicians and seek to force them from office; it should equally applaud those who were presented with those same opportunities for corruption but did not take them. It is those honest politicians, of all parties, who we want in Parliament at the next election.

Thursday, 7 May 2009


It might smack a bit of Jon Major's "cones hotline" but I'm convinced a good vote winner in the crowded south-east would be a clear instruction to the police and authorities that after a road accident priority 1 is to look after casualties, and priority 2 is to get traffic moving. Currently getting traffic moving appears to have no priority at all after an accident.

Having again been delayed like thousands and thousands of other people yesterday by a single traffic accident on the A281, it seems clear that the impact on huge numbers of people on journey times from accidents is a significant irritation. It leads to road rage and other accidents as frustrated motorists desperately try to get home.

The US priority is to get traffic moving. Our priority should be to do the same. A small policy perhaps, but one of those policies with a disproportional impact on the electorate I think.