A Murky Election

I’m not referring to the Zimbabwean elections, but the election for MEP candidates for the Conservative Party. Never before have I seen such an arse covering undemocratic election.
Let’s start at the beginning. Currently we have a majority of MEP’s whose view on Europe is largely at odds with the membership. A quick perusal of those guilty of this shows that many of these are MP retreads who were kicked out of the UK Parliament in 97. They then found sanctury in Europe a couple of years later, and it is questionable what they are actually achieving out there. Whatever it is, it’s certainly what the membership and indeed the country wants with a step back from federalism. Their determination to remain in the federalist European Peoples Party shows that.
Realising they are out of tune with the membership, it would appear some of our MEP’s lobbied the Party to remove members from voting to rank them within the whole list, but instead rank the sitting MEP’s so they are guaranteed their place and don’t have to face the membership. This is the sort of election system Mugabe would dream of. No accountability and no risk of losing your seat of power.  
The other unfair factor in this election is the fact that after incumbents, the next place is guaranteed to a women no matter how far they placed behind the highest ranked men. Another self explanatory unfairness, which has rendered this selection process virtually impossible for a man to get into the European Parliament next year no matter how talented. Indeed it’s surprised any man applied given how the odds are so stacked against them.
The Party has done this for short term benefit. No European arguments and more women. However in the longer term, it may well live to regret this. There are many well qualified men who would have added some real talent to our MEP delegation, and would have been far more in tune with the direction of the party. They have effectively no chance of election. We also have kept in place a lot of MEP’s who rather enjoy the status quo in Europe and have no wish for reform or change. While they may keep their head down and say nothing of the EPP withdrawal proposal at the moment, once set free for a 5 year term, they will be very difficult to control and may well prove an obstacle to us when in Government when we step away from the federalist programme some of them appear to endorse.

Andrew Woodman



Best campaigning material ever?

I was made aware of this great site which provides lots of different campaaign materials, and it got me to thinking. What is the best piece of campaign material that you have ever come across?

In the 97 General Election the Referendum party used the innovative approach to send a video to millions of households through the post. It didn’t do them much good mind you, but could be seen as the precursor to how YouTube could impact upon campaigns in the future.

But are blogs, and the internet the best campaign techniques of today? What about the great idea of Boris to give away branded taxi receipt books? A political master stroke surely?

And what about bumper stickers that are used in the US. Why haven’t we seen them over here.

What is the best campaign tool you have seen?


Even a French man thinks tax is an issue in the UK

No Champions League final for Wembley.

Oh dear oh dear.

School dinners anyone?

Ive just watched a news bulletin on todays story about the suggestion that school kids should be kept on sight during school time. I think I agree they should, but not particularly because it will mean they will have a healthier diet – just for reasons of safety.

In the same bulletin I saw that one school had BANNED packed lunches. Now I don’t have kids, but on what grounds does a school think it knows better with regards feeding children, than me, if I was a parent. Granted some parents may give their kids crap food to eat. But then they will do that at home as well.

The state may have a role in ediucating kids, but it does not have the right to tell parents what they can feed their children.

Funniest blog post of 2008

I have just read Phillip Oppenheim’s latest blog post over at Party Political Animal, which has me chuckling away.

If you want to know why he  "always find it comforting to know that my TGV trip is being subsidised by some cassoulet gobbling Citroen worker" then go and have a read. Well worth it.

Pro choice

Pro-life, pro-choice. A controversial subject at the best of times, but when Emily’s List was recently reported to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner for ‘buying votes’, it opened up a whole new debate. So what is Emily’s List, and why do pro-lifers think that the grants used to help women become elected are buying pro-abortion votes?
Let’s start with what Emily’s List is. It was founded in 1993 by Barbara Follett, the Labour Minister for women’s rights. Emily is an acronym for ‘Early Money Is Like Yeast’ (it helps the dough rise) and it serves to offer grants to women who are seeking selection in the Labour Party. The grants awarded are for £250 per candidate and are offered for assistance in elections for Westminster, the Welsh Assembly, Scottish Parliament and in fact any political election. They are meant to assist with expenses such as travel and child / dependency care during a selection process.
So why are pro-life supporters trying to stop the grants? Well to qualify for the grant, candidates must sign a declaration saying they support the aims of the pro-choice campaign. The pro-life lobby argue that by signing the declaration and accepting the grant, the women are being undemocratic (essentially they are being accused of ‘selling’ their vote), unreasonable and also insinuate that these women are signing their lifetime approval to pro-abortion votes.
Partisan issues aside, these accusations are a fallacy.
Firstly, what Emily’s List does is support women who have the same views and beliefs as the organisation. Nothing unusual there. If a grant is to be given by an organisation, there are usually restrictions placed on it.
Secondly, Emily’s List does not ‘buy votes’. At the time of receiving the grant, the women must sign a declaration identifying themselves as pro-choice – however, there is nothing which ties them into voting that way when actually called upon. Indeed, Claire Curtis-Thomas MP who was voted in with the help of an Emily’s List grant has since changed her opinion and now votes in favour of reducing the abortion limit.
And finally, and let’s make this very clear, Emily’s List is not pro-abortion. Yes, you read that right. I repeat, it is not pro-abortion. It is pro-choice. There is a difference.
Promotion of pro-choice attitudes is one of the organisations aims, but it is not the only aim; and the promotion of pro-abortion attitudes is not an aim at all. Essentially, the organisation seeks to promote and support women’s rights, for example, the right to run for election to be a political representative. As such, it also promotes and supports a woman’s right to choice. This extends to the right to choose as to whether she wants an abortion or not. To have a right to an abortion as an option among many options; it does not represent it as the only option, nor necessarily as the right option. It simply forms part of the right for a woman to choose. This is the pivotal thing the pro-lifers both fail to understand and fail to endorse themselves. Unlike the pro-lifers, Emily’s List does not pick and choose what rights women should and shouldn’t have, it believes in endorsing women’s rights totally. No ifs and no buts.
So next time you read an article condemning Emily’s List, stop and consider: when it comes down to it, the argument is perhaps not simply pro-life or pro-choice, but anti-women’s rights vs pro-women’s rights. Which side of the fence are you on?


cats make you calm?

Well according to this story they do.

I’m not sure when you see your cat tear arse up to the top of yoru curtains it will make you calm. More likely to induce a heart attack than prevent one I would have thought!

£17,000 a day

Apparently that’s what the divorce settlement is worth that you know who got from Mr McCartney.

Almost temps me into wanting to marry him!

Conservatives need to nail inflation fudge

At long last, it looks like Gordon Brown’s record as Chancellor is being seen for what it was as a con trick. He inherited a booming economy with 5 years of economic growth, low inflation and throughout his tenure had a £20+ billion windfall of mobile phone 3G licences, global economic growth and low interest rates, cheap far eastern imports keeping down inflation and the internet revelation which has created new markets and growth. Labour ask us to believe that they had something to do with all this. Suddenly the global conditions change and it has nothing to do with them. This is the lie.
As the Conservatives have been arguing, we should be entering these potential bad times with low competitive tax rates and a surplus to fund them. Instead we are borrowing billions to fund pet Labour projects and the hundreds of thousands of civil servants that they’ve taken on. We have over regulated businesses because these civil servants are having to justify their existence which is causing us to slip down the world competiveness league.
Anyone this is just some background to what I wanted to write about and that’s the menace of inflation. A recent poll suggested that something like 90% of people don’t believe the Governments inflation figure. I find it astonishing that the rest do believe it. We have fuel up 20%, food up 10%, Energy up 20%, Council tax up 5% and so on. How on earth can they splutter out that inflation is 2.2% with a straight face. A poll suggested that 8.1% is a more accurate reflection of their personal inflation and that sounds much nearer the mark to me as well.
I think a portion of Labour’s weakness is the unrealistic figures they are portraying. This is where the Conservatives must pounce. As part of cleaning up politics, we must present realistic economic figures. After all, part of our current economic difficulties may well be due to the Monetary Policy Committee setting interest rates to deal with an incorrect inflation target. In short, we need to commit to restoring the Retail Price Index as the measure of inflation. Whilst that at about 4% may be an underestimate, it is certainly more accurate and trusted than the Consumer Price Index and will give the MPC a proper target to aim for.
We also need to look at the committee itself. Half of it is made up of Chancellor appointees. Does this make them truly independent you have to ask. Also where is the accountability? A letter to the Chancellor is hardly earth shattering is it. Perhaps there should be representation from Parliament (maybe the Treasury Select committee).
Changing the measure is imperative though. We need a measure that the public and business can have faith in, and it would prove the Conservatives are serious about sorting out the economic problems that Gordon Brown’s wasteful years have left us with.

MPs expenses just don't change

Over at Party Political Animal, Phillip Oppenheim has a great piece which seems to show the issue of MPs expenses is certainly not new.