Oh the irony

Currently there is an exhibition where staff and member in Portcullis house are being encouraged to find out what their carbon footprint is, with a view to cutting their personal CO2 output.

Amusingly the exhibition has three latops plugged in, plus a DVD player which is connected to a massive plasma (maybe LCD) TV.

I suspect they aren’t solar powered.


What's so wrong with profits?

It’s that time of year again where the oil companies report their profits. It’s a time of year that winds me up with such lazy and ill informed media reporting designed to whip up public hostility to the idea of companies doing well.
Today it’s Shell. They’ve reported a profit of about £14 billion or billions as Gordon Brown might say. This is wonderful. A British company competing and winning in a highly competitive global market, providing thousands of jobs, helping to keep the country running with new oil finds, helping our balance of payments and paying billions of pounds in tax. It also helps the upkeep of our pensions funds as they hold a significant portion of the shares.
How do the media choose to report it. Well for every news report I saw this morning, there was a reporter on a Shell forecourt asking motorists if they’re being ripped off in view of these obscene profits. It’s the same every year and perpetuates this myth that profits are wrong, and they all go to one or two fat cats while everyone suffers. It’s so lazy of the media. What do they expect, oil companies to subsidize the British motorist so only the Government makes money out of them? We have some of the cheapest petrol in Europe, it’s only when the Government takes its 70% that it becomes the most expensive.
Of course the unions have to have their say. Unite’s joint general secretary Tony Woodley said the profits were "quite frankly obscene" and "Shell shareholders are doing very nicely whilst the rest of us, the stakeholders, are paying the price and struggling." He also wants a windfall tax on oil companies. What a good idea!! Let’s take legitimate profits from a company so it has less to invest in finding and producing the petrol, make it a target for a takeover and lose another British company(well at least part British). That way we can lose billions of future tax revenues, a few thousand British jobs and do a bit more damage to our pension funds.
So how about praising a British success story that’s funding a significant part of our public services, instead of lazy ranting about a tax driven petrol price. Expect the same when BP reports.


Who said "He's an a*******" to Ivan Lewis During a debate?

Well it says it in Hansard, so it must be true. Tut tut! 

I believe you can watch it here – 1 hour 28mins into proceedings

Hansard report below

Greg Mulholland: Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Lewis: Will the hon. Gentleman be writing a blank cheque to the hospice movement? Is he saying that if the Liberal Democrats ever formed the Government, they would meet all the hospice costs at 100 per cent. recovery? Of course not, but that is the impression that Liberal Democrat Members always give when contributing to debates.

Greg Mulholland: Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Lewis: We are all fed up with it. I return to the substantive issues.

Greg Mulholland: Will the Minister give way?

Mr. Lewis: I will not give way.

On regulation costs, I shall consider the question of the consultation that the Healthcare Commission is undertaking—

Greg Mulholland: He’s an a*******.

Mr. Lewis: —and the nature of regulation costs. That was not very parliamentary language, Mr Williams.

Bye bye Rudy

Rudy Giuliani’s demise from Republican frontrunner into failure and dejection has been an astonishing tale.  Looking back on his campaign (or, technically, the lack of one) it is perhaps not surprising that it has ended this way.  Can you imagine if David Cameron said in the run up to the next General Election that he was going to leave his campaigning until about a month before election day itself?  The logic is baffling.  What’s more, I don’t remember hearing of a candidate in previous years leaving it all to the last minute and still becoming President of the United States.
So how much of a loss is Giuliani to the Republican cause?  It’s reasonable to assume that most people in this country remember Giuliani most for his role in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks in New York, but he is certainly not your typical Republican.  He is pro-choice on abortion, supported recent legislation curbing gun ownership, pro-immigration and supports gay rights to some extent as well.  For all his efforts, it is hard to believe that Republicans saw him as their ideal candidate.  Whether or not he had a better chance of beating Clinton or Obama than the remaining Republican contenders will forever remain a hot topic, should the next president be a Democrat.

Greg Mulholland a party pooper?

Surely not!!

An MP calling for smaller measures at bars and restaurants? Isn’t that electoral suicide?

I was always told that to be electorally popular – well you might want to be a bit populist. You know, something along the lines of better batter and bigger chips kind of thing.

Apparently not. Lib Dem Greg Mulholland is proposing making pubs etc reintroduce the smaller 125ml measure. Surely that won’t go down too well with punters?

Mind you, as I don’t particularly drink it would save me having the buy the wife a LARGE (as apparently that’s all they had) wine, though whether that will go down well on our anniversary on Monday is another story!

Council Tax anomaly

I have been made aware of the following case which certainly is an eye opener for those who may think they qualify for a council tax exemption.

Previously I had believed that if a house was empty you could qualify for a 100% exemption for up to 6 months. So for example if you moved elsewhere and were still trying to sell your house this was a handy exemption, something I myself took advantage of when selling my own house after having got married. In fact I even showed the council tax inspector round to prove there was no furniture in the house, and was quite pleased to see councils check up on this sort of thing. I’ve always been one of those who believed that if council collected all the tax that was due, perhaps the rates for us all could not go up so much, or in the case of Hammersmith and Fulham – maybe we could even get a reduction.

Now for those of you who think the 6 months exemption for a vacant house is automatic think again.

Let me give you an example. Couple A sells their house to Couple B. Couple A took over a year to sell their house and had been living elsewhere for that year – so had used the 6 months exemption (as it was empty) on the house being sold.

Now couple B already own a house on the same street as the house they are buying from couple A (the house that has been vacant and has already had a 6 months council tax exemption). With me so far?

Couple B believed that they could claim a council tax exemption on the new house until they wanted to move in. After all, they paying council tax on the house they are living in.

Well apparently not. Apparently the legislation didn’t really make provision for this, and its all about the case law.

So couple B go through with the house purchase and are still living in the original house but paying full council tax on both. Seems fair? Not to me.

So the solutions are a) They could let students live for free in their new house and then it would qualify for a 100% exemption. b) They could live apart (though on the same street) and get a 25% exemption on each house (but they don’t want to do this) c) They could move into the new house and claim an exemption on their original house

BUT THEY CANNOT CLAIM A 6 month exemption on the house they have just bought, even though it will be vacant and it seems possible that in future no one else down the line can either.

Surely this can’t be true?

Was Thursday another chicken day for Brown

So Peter Hain’s gone. It did have an inevitability to it and we’ll have to see what he does to attempt to clear his name. What I’ve found interesting is the reshuffle that followed. James Purnell to Works and Pensions, Andy Burnham to Culture, Yvette Cooper to the Treasury and Caroline Flint to Housing. On the face of it, jobs for the boys and girls. Literally in some cases.

James Purnell is an interesting choice for Works and Pensions. I can’t find much evidence that he’s had a proper job but that’s not that unusual now is it. On his Sunday morning TV interview, he showed himself to be true new Labour. Platitudes and targets plucked out of the air. Saying the Government would give more freedoms to people claiming disability benefit like choosing the time of their taxi (which is the case now). No real indications about how to achieve these blind aims.
Andy Burnham helped architect the shameless pinching of Tory Policies for the budget which helped Labour so much. Yvette Cooper has put in place the disastrous and useless HIPs just at the wrong moment for the housing market and so has been awarded a promotion for that, and anyone in the Housing department who thought they were rid of an arrogant hectoring woman are out of luck, as she’s been replaced by another.
When the resignation was announced, I wondered would Brown use the opportunity to show he has changed and doesn’t hold grudges. He could have done that and bought Alan Milburn back in to Works and Pensions. At a stroke he would have showed there were no factions in the party, that he welcomed experience in his cabinet of pygmies and he wasn’t as paranoid about his own inadequacy as Prime Minister as everyone believes.
However a leopard never changes its spots, and considering Brown’s character as we know it, it was fanciful to believe he could undertake such a bold move. So the pygmies remain and Milburn and co remain on the outside.

As a side note, have you noticed how Charles Clarke, Alan Milburn, Peter Mandelson, Neil Kinnock and co have disappeared from the media completely since chicken Saturday. Talk about fair weather friends.


stop, look, listen?

I have enjoyed some of the contributions on the new CentreRight blog, none more so that from Sam Coates.

However his latest missive on the issue of cyclists is plainly wrong. Luckily you aren’t allowed to leave comments or I would have ranted underneath his blog post in which he tries to justify cyclists going through red lights – because apparently bikes are small light and agile.

His blog posts all stem through the story that apparently David Cameron ran a red light. Now Sam gives an example of how he came off his bike and suffered more than the pedestrian he clipped while doing 25 mph. I’m not so sure he would come off best if my 16 stone frame going 25mph crashed into him on a bike.

The point is, to justify cyclists jumping red lights is wrong – not solely for the protection of pedestrians – but for their own safety. What if you jump the red light on a junction and then go straight into the path of an oncoming car who kills you. I’ve seen incidents like this where an irresponsible cyclist has narrowly avoided killing themselves. Not always as agile as they think are they?

The same can be said of cyclists and lights. The number of times driving home from the station Ive had to aviod cyclists with no lights on their bikes who you can hardly see. If they were involved in an accident I have to say I would have some sympathy with the car driver.

Car drivers need to be aware of cyslists, but cyclists need to be aware of those of us on foot, and that applies if you are Prime Minister, leader of the opposition, or indeed author of a blog.

Healthy Weight, Healthy Lives

Guido has already written about the rather youthful looking picture of the Prime Minsiter which appears in the Government’s "Healthy Weight, Healthy Lives" document.

Someone brought it to my attention that on the back of the report it states, 50% recycled. My question is does that mean the paper – or the actual ideas in the report. Answers on a postcard please.

PMQs 23rd January 2008

Play it now:

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To listen to this weeks PMQs just click the download button or listen to it in the inbuilt media player. Another win for Cameron or did we see Brown fighting back? Listen to find out.