Monday, December 21, 2009

A winter wonderland

Not everyone likes to talk about politics, but it is very British to talk about the weather.

Last Friday the snow fell down in Kent and at my usual time of 5.40am I was standing at a coach stop waiting for my commuter coach during the snow storm. My dark coat was gradually turning white and if I had a hat and a pipe I would have made a very good snowman.

Eventually a coach turned up to tell me that the roads were closed and hence all the coaches were cancelled. There were also problems with the trains and so I had to give up trying to get in to London that day. Today, three days on, no problem getting into work although our pavements are still very icy.

Many commented on the fact that this spell of cold weather has coincided with the Copenhagen conference covering global warming – which is indeed ironic – but as I said in an earlier entry, we get nothing like the amount of snow we used to.

The Christmas and new year break will be welcome before what looks like a very busy 2010 – with the general election campaign and the World Cup to look forward to.

Christmas is a time to put our political differences to one side and wish goodwill to all. So to you, dear reader, whoever you follow, whatever your views, I hope you have a happy and a very merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Somebody radical and different

This is my letter to the East Kent Gazette. It is in reply to a letter from a Mr Richard Palmer who states he and his children do not see the point of voting because Labour is a waste of time and Conservatives only benefit the rich. Therefore they will all vote UKIP.

'Richard Palmer is right to criticise the two stale old parties as a waste of time - but he does not mention the other option. For radical and different policies, Mr Palmer should look towards the Liberal Democrats.

We are the only party to promise a massive overhaul of our political system, getting rid of the safe seats and expenses culture - to provide tax cuts for lower and middle incomes - to abolish council tax - to offer universal childcare - with positive policies for a green economy.

That's just for starters - there is a lot more I would love to tell Mr Palmer about which provides the alternative forward thinking choice he seeks.

UKIP is all about looking backwards. There is a lot that is wrong with the EU but sitting in the corner with your arms folded is not going to fix it. However I agree we should have a referendum on EU membership for a proper debate.

At election time, I hope Mr Palmer will consider the options and vote for us as the only major party that offers that genuine much-needed reform and change'.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

March 25? Bring it on!

There are questions in discussion recently – is there a God? – will England win the world cup? – when will the general election be?

Well, yes, there is a God – I would love to see us win the World Cup but don’t think we will – and my money was on an election on the last possible date – 3 June. I figured that, like John Major’s government in 1997, Gordon Brown and co would hang on to every possible last second of power before the inevitable collapse. Others agreed with the common view that the election would be on 6 May.

However some excellent rumours circulated this weekend that the election could be earlier than we thought – on 25 March. From Labour’s point of view this would make sense – simply because it would get them out of having a March budget and the inevitable story of gloom and doom – and it might avoid the meltdown we saw in 1997.

The Tories might still win, but if they don’t have a majority, we might finally force the MPs of the two old parties to accept accountability and the reforms our political system so desperately needs (although we must be wary of a Con-Lab coalition to preserve their vested interests).

So bring it on, I say. Already one has itchy feet, eager to get out and knock on those doors.

The Swale Liberal Democrats have our Hustings next month to select our candidate for Sittingbourne and Sheppey. I have written my manifesto with my background, policies and campaign ideas. My main points are cleaning up parliament, mass constitutional and parliamentary reform, a referendum on EU membership, and emphasis on our unique radical policies – such as tax cuts, the pupil premium and abolishing council tax.

I am now preparing my Hustings speech where I hope to put on a good show and have good news for you all afterwards.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The economics of coach travel

As I read about the pre-budget report on the coach home, two young smart chaps got on at Canary Wharf and took the seat behind me. Immediately they started talking about their Christmas bonuses, how they had been reduced (so they were only getting a few thousand) and isn't the world an unfair place.

Being a public sector worker, this made me think of my own pay rise this year (1%), my own bonus (the fact I am still in a job unlike some colleagues), and my pay rise for the next two years (capped at 1%) - while my national insurance is going up (there goes the 1% pay rise) and the pension will probably soon be a memory. After all, someone's got to pay for the national debt.

Politics of envy? Perhaps. But it is yet another example of how the wrong people are paying the price for the incompetence of government ministers and senior bankers - who I expect will get rather more than a 1% pay rise. I agree that the public sector is too big, especially at the top levels, but there are a lot of low paid staff as well. While public sector staff are easy targets, one must not forget that nurses, teachers, police, cleaners etc do a low paid job that most of us would rather not do.

My two fellow passengers will be all right. The banks will be busy with their lawyers finding loopholes in the rules to make sure the glasses are still full. And if George Osborne is in Number 11, his first budget will ensure they are not reduced to travelling by coach again.

The report was, of course, yet another missed opportunity. To get out of the recession we need more people spending money, so that businesses can recover, and employ people. More people working means more people paying taxes and less people claiming benefits - thus contributing to reducing the deficit. I'm not an economist but that seems obvious to me.

If on the other hand money is taken away from people, especially the low paid, they will have to scrimp and save even more, thus not spending money, thus businesses continuing to suffer.

To conclude, a not very good day - and we only got rid of our boiler last year!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Sittingbourne & Sheppey - more candidates

It will be quite a party in Sittingbourne & Sheppey at the next election as now we will have six candidates battling for the votes.

Today UKIP announced Ian Davison as their candidate. I suspect Mr Davison and I would agree about a referendum on the UK's membership of the EU but suspect we would vote differently. Still, a welcome to Ian.

And the BNP have recently announced an intention to put up a candidate. No surprise, really, as they got 15% of the vote in Sheppey at the county council elections this year.

The Conservative party and the Loonies selected their candidates ages ago and Labour just recently. I don't know about the Greens, English Democrats or anyone else.

So that leaves ... us! I am afraid I can't comment at present but only to say the wheels are in motion. And we are very much looking forward to the campaign.