Un-costed Labour spending commitments?

I remember in the 2005 General Election campaign coming across a PDF collated by the Labour party in which something I had mentioned was supposedly an un-costed spending commitment. I had said that there would be free travel for pensioners in Nottinghamshire. In actual fact it wasn’t un-costed at all, it was the platform the party was taking for its campaign to try to win control of Nottinghamshire County Council.

Now last week a letter signed by Ed Balls and Ed Miliband urged colleagues not to make unfunded spending commitments:-

The letter says ahead of the next election Labour has to show its commitments on tax and spend are “clear, costed and affordable”.

“To that end, whilst we will continue rightly to oppose many of the decisions of the current Conservative-led Government, given the reckless gamble they are taking with the future of our economy, we cannot and should not at this stage make firm commitments to reverse each of those decisions unless and until we can say how those commitments will be paid for.”

Yet what has happened? Yesterdays Manchester Evening News told us that Ed Miliband and Ed Balls have signed a petition opposing cuts to local authority budgets in Greater Manchester and committing to reversing budget reductions in ten council budgets.

This has not gone un-noticed by North West Leicestershire MP Andrew Bridgen who has written to the two Eds.

Putting forward fully-costed spending plans is a key test for any credible opposition party.

With this in mind, I am surprised to see that you and Ed Balls have both signed the Manchester Evening News “petition against the cuts” to local authority budgets in Greater Manchester. By signing it, you have committed to reversing the budget reductions to the ten council budgets concerned by 2012-13.

Does this mean that you would not make cuts to other council budgets across England too? Or is it only the reduction to Greater Manchester’s funding that you oppose?

You have both said that you back Alistair Darling’s policy to halve the deficit over four years. This front-loaded plan would require £14 billion of spending cuts from 1 April – only £2 billion less than the Coalition plans.

So what other spending would you cut or additional taxes would you raise in five weeks’ time to find the money to meet Alistair Darling’s plan?

Surely there is not a do as I say not as I do attitude in politics? A bit like all those Labour MPs who campaigned to save local post offices who then voted through taxpayer funded compensation to close post offices under the Urban Reinvention programme.


Have the banks learned their lesson?

We are currently in the process of trying to sell our house and move a little further into the countryside to a place with 2 acres of land. I always said i wouldn’t shed a tear if a few estate agents went under. Imagine my surprise when the local branch of a national estate agent who are trying to sell our place phoned up and said they had been told they will be closing this Friday. A bit of a pain, but estate agents are much of a muchness in my book.

What is interesting is the attempts to get a mortgage. We dispenses with the mortgage advisor who wanted to charge £400 for recommending deals worse than you could find by taking 5 minutes to read the Sunday papers and instead went to the bank where I have had an account since secondary school, and where my business account now resides.

The last time I got a mortgage it seemed to be a relatively simple procedure. Show me what you earn, show me what you spend and then have some money. Since the banks essentially acted with haste lending too much to people who could ill afford the repayments things are different. We have a house with no mortgage that we intend to sell to pay for building work. We have enough cash to put a sizeable deposit on what we want to buy, and want to fix in for five years at an amount that my wife alone could easily afford. Yet we have to go through a rather onerous process of showing earnings over the past few years, expenditure, proof of savings, and indicate provide in depth details about the property we want to buy.

My only question is, why wasn’t this always the case?

Seven Days show episode 59


The latest episode of the Seven Days Show is now online. In the show this week (episode 59) we discuss Iain’s MoS article on the Lib Dems; Sally Bercow and that photo; whether multiculturalism has failed; would MPs really mock someone with a disability; prisoners votes; and whether something is wrong in football given recent transfer fees.

To listen to the podcast click the play button above.

Prisoners votes debate ongoing

Well the debate on prisoners votes has been ongoing. I have watched every minute of it (sad I know) and have heard MP after MP stand up and say they don’t agree with giving prisoners the vote. In all honesty I am in the camp of law breakers shouldnt be law makers. I wouldn’t like to see the person who stabbed Stephen Timms being given the opportunity to vote him out of a job.

What I like, however, does not necessarily mean that is what the law says is legal. I suspect that this issue is not going to go away, though what that means I’m not quite sure. If the Commons expresses a view that they don’t want to give prisoners the votes, then they have met one of the Courts requirements that an opinion has been expressed, but will that satisfy the Court. If this issue is kicked into the long grass (again) will that mean compensation may well be able to be claimed sooner rather than later.

Currently I am (as often) still a little confused as to what happens next.

East Coast trains get customer service – now they just have to deliver

Last week the Chairman of East Coast trains, Elaine Holt travelled down with a group of commuters from Newark in order to hear some of our gripes and moans about the service. Firstly, I have to say how impressed that the Chairman of our rail company took the time to come down with us, but what was even more impressive, for me at least, was recognition that while some things the company did were excellent, some things were not.

Our issues ranged from poor customer communication, with messages from head office seemingly not filtering down to passengers, to a poor attitude of a minority of staff when dealing with fare paying customers. The old issue of train staff sitting in first class was even dealt with more swiftly than I would ever have imagined. No sooner had three staff (clearly without the right tickets) entered first class, than up jumped the Chairman and asked why they were sitting in first class seats. The staff headed off to standard, which is where they should be sat.

Of course recognising issues and sorting them out are two different things. More trains stopping at our station is great. Getting the trains to run on time will be more of a long term problem, with some issues clearly outside of the gift of the train operating company. And changing the bad behaviour of their staff? Well every day since the Chairman’s visit their staff are back sitting in first class, so time will tell whether knowing about the issues means something will be done.

If Elaine Holt has anything to do with it, I have no doubt this will certainly not be a case of words and no action. And woe betide any staff choosing to ark themselves in first class when she returns for another catch up in April.

No to prisoners votes petition launched

Priti Patel, Member of Parliament for the Witham constituency has launched a no to prisoners votes petition. At this point I have to register an interest. Priti is a friend of mine and has been for years. I helped (if you can call it that) with her election last year. I have a huge amount of respect for her and the issues she campaigns on. I also share many of her views on law and order and crime and punishment.

I previouslu interviewed prisoners votes campaigner John Hirst on the subject of prisoners votes, which you can access here. Priti had fairly robust views in a Tory Radio exclusive here, as did Andrew Bridgen MP.

Whether or not denying prisoners the right to vote runs contrary to the ECHR may not be the point in the matter If the British public want their elected representatives to do something an unelected body has told them not to do could soon become the big issue. I have said Prisoners Votes will give Cameron a headache. I think he may well be reaching for the Nurofen at any moment!

What to get for a fifth wedding anniversary?

Tomorrow I celebrate my fifth anniversary of being married to the lovely Mrs Tory Radio. Apparently your fifth anniversary necessitates a gift made of wood. I suspect my initial suggestion of a broom stick would be used against in a very literal sense… so what to buy? I think I have the occasion covered.. and no diamonds will not do…. they are for a certain birthday celebrated by the other half which ends in a zero later on in the month. February really is an expensive month!

PMQs 2nd February 2011


If you missed PMQs today – in which Ed Miliband certainly seemed to move away from Punch and Judy politics then listen again by clicking the play button above.