Don't be miserable – send a Christmas card

I remember when all the vogue was emailable cards with a message saying that in place of the cost of the card, a donation had been made to charity. Working for Royal Mail, unsurprisingly we continued to send Xmas cards. It would be strange not to wouldn’t it.

Maybe I am old fashioned, but in spite of my love of gadgets, when I come home I am still disappointed if I haven’t got any post. I can get 300 emails a day, but I still like to open a letter. The same is true at Christmas. They are a pain in the backside to do. They seem to cost more and more to post, and I inevitably forget to send them to a few people I should (or indeed send more than one to the same person because I can’t remember who I’ve sent them to) but you can’t beat the feeling when you get a Christmas card.

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Good for Bob Russell

I am never going to be the chief cheerleader of the Bob Russell fan club. I think has some barmy ideas, none least how he still thinks Early Day Motions are a good use of parliamentary resources. Today, however I believe he has got it spot on when we learn (from the FT) that he has reported some letters which in essence threatened violence because of the views he has expressed.

On of the major reasons why I would not want to be an MP is people think they have the right to say anything they want, however disrespectful, rude, or indeed threatening it may be, to a Member of Parliament, and indeed to their staff, because of the perception that all politicians and people involved in the political sphere are on the take scum bags. At  the same time many MPs with smaller majorities are afraid to tell a few home truths to people who write in for fear of losing a vote of two.

Iain Dale has recently quit blogging, one of the reasons being given is that he is fed up of the abuse. Yes there is no right to not be offended, but at the same time there is no justification for pure abusive and nasty letters that people think they can send because you are a politician.

Good for Bob for putting a constituent in their place on the Royal Wedding, and good on him for reporting threatening letters. Just don’t table an EDM on it please!

PMQs – 15th December 2010

[podcast]http://toryradio.podbus.com/pmqs151210.mp3[/podcast]

If you missed PMQs this week you can listen again by clicking the play button above.

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Iain Dale Leaving blogging is worse than The West Wing finishing

I have known Iain for more years than I care to remember. I was young and slim and he had dark hair. I first had an idea for a book about the Referendum Party. I never got round to it. We held our team meeting in his little coffee shop in Politicos. We both worked at Doughty Street. We have done 52 episodes of The Seven Days Show.

Any fan of the West Wing will know the feeling of, Well what do I watch now… how the you almost felt you had lost a friend. That is kind of how I feel now his blog is no more. It is an ex blog. It ceases to be, although not quite. It will still be there, but it just won’t be the same.

Iain, you selfish sod. What are us less eloquent soles going to read now? Our days will be emptier now we wont be reading your pearls of wisdom, even if you would often infuriate. He is the only man that can bring up the issue of his dogs anal glands in a podcast.

A sad day for politics and a sad day for blogging. Part of me isn’t surprised, part of me is completely shocked. I had an inkling he wasn’t that enamoured with how blogging has progressed. Nasty comments have to have an impact. . Part of me wants to be like the MP during Thatchers last speech who shouts for her to reconsider because she’s wipe the floor with the lot of ’em. Come on Iain, don’t do it. But we have to respect his decision. But do you know what? Whilst there is no more West Wing, I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Dale and his diary.

Iain will continue to be on the Seven Days Show which you can subcribe to here.

Matthew d'Ancona and I agree on Ken Clarke

If you read anything today, read this piece by Matthew d’Ancona and his take on Ken Clarke. He puts forward exactly the same argument that I put to Iain Dale yesterday in our Seven Days Show. Essentially, that prison works because when criminals are locked up it reduces crime.

As Michael writes, “Michael Howard, showed beyond doubt that “prison works”, in the sense that crime falls when villains are locked up. There is plenty of evidence from around the world to support this fairly obvious linkage — obvious because most crime is committed by a small population of persistent offenders. ”

I also put it to Iain in our podcast that in a move towards localism people would never accept community sentences replacing prison sentences. Michael argues that Clarke is out of touch with his party and the electorate on this, and I agree. On law and order the electorate can be very right wing. Historically there has always been a majority in favour of restoring the death penalty, so a more liberal approach isn’t likely to appeal.

I can think or at least one Labour MP in Ken Clarkes Nottinghamshire that would be more than happy to portray the Tories as soft on crime because of Ken’s zeal for sending less people to prison. This is Nottinghamshire where the public already don’t have that much faith in the police, as they have been judged the worst performing force in the nation not to long ago. So you have perception that criminals dont get caught, and Clarke suggesting when they do they may not get sent down? Not the message Tories want to be hearing and not the message the public want to hear.

Will Clarke have to go? Who knows – but he isn’t articulating the policy stance I want to hear.

Seven Days Show 52

[podcast]http://toryradio.podbus.com/sevendaysshow52.mp3[/podcast]

The latest edition of The Seven Days Show is now online. In this weeks show, episode 52 we discuss the vote on tuition fees and its implications; the latest spate of violence and what can be done; prison and whether it works; whether localism would mean community sentences would be rejected; will the Lib Dems cease to be; whether tuition fees have an implication on th AV referendum; whether benefits should be used to send to people’s families abroad; and finally Jeremy Hunt and a rather naughty word.

To listen to the podcast click the play button above

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Harman – you cannot be serious?

Simon Walters of the Mail on Sunday has a very interesting piece which if true makes me think Harriet Harman has lost her grip on reality. We can argue about who got the country into the state it’s in. I think it was the previous Labour Government, others will want to blame a world recession – but the fact is we are still in dire financial straits.

Yet if this story is true, Harman is suggesting it is appropriate and even commendable for benefits paid for by hard working taxpayers to be sent out of the country to help the families of immigrants. Now this isn’t an immigrant issue for me. Frankly I’d cut Winter Fuel allowance for all those comfortable couples who swan off abroad over Winter and use the payment (irrespective of how much money you have) to help them have a nice few months in Spain or wherever.

But seeing as the story has been raised are we saying it is appropriate and commendable for immigrants to send their benefit paymenst out of the country. I suspect many hard pressed taxpayers who are not in receipt of benefits, but struggling will feel very aggrived their money is being used to subsidise none nationals, and will feel even more aggrieved that a senior Labour member feels it appropriate to commend such action.

Someone from Labour please tell Harriet she is oh so wrong. She needs someone to have a John McEnroe moment with her She need to be told, You Cannot Be Serious? She can’t….. can she?