Iain Dale is back

Just a short blogpost to say that my old pal Iain Dale is back doing what he does best. No I’m not talking about publishing books. No I’m not talking about his rather good radio show. No I’m not talking about boring me to death with talk about West Ham (Ok he doesn’t do that much). I’m talking, of course, about his return to blogging, which has been long overdue. For those who haven’t picked up on his return check out his website here. Well worth an addition to your favourites.


Do it the old fashioned way

Perhaps it’s just me? Perhaps the glow of Christmas has already become jaded but I am getting a little fed up of certain sections (and I stress that) of the population bemoaning that they have to tighten their belts.

Firstly we hear about how bad it is going to be for people on benefits as for once it appears as though we have a Government that is prepared to put the strivers before the skivers. Well when I get up at 5:00am to go to work, and because I am lucky and have an employer that knows I do a good job it means I will get back home at 7:00pm.  And due to the recent rail fair increase, for the pleasure of doing that I will be paying £9,368 for a season ticket. But wait, so will my wife. But wait again, because I don’t want to fork out for my ticket all at once I will buy monthly tickets at a cost of £899 which means my family will be paying getting on for £20,000 (but certainly over £18,000) this year to get to work. Why do I do it. Well I have always been of the Judge Judy school of thought who suggests, “If you want to eat, you work”. So forgive me if I don’t have sympathy when the Government suggests it will cut the total amount of benefits one family can receive.

Then of course I hear the bleating of families where someone earns over £50,000 and will lose child benefit. I earn less than that. I don’t see why you having a child is any more of a public benefit that me getting to work – so if you can get a tac break/benefit (call it what you will) for having a child maybe I could get a chunk of change to help me pay the cost of getting to work.

I want a Government that is on the side of the grafters. The commuters getting up in the dark and getting home in the dark who are doing a days work for a days pay. Those who believe if  you want something you get it the old fashioned way. You earn it.

….and they call Tories nasty??

The Telegraph have an interesting (if unsurprising) story about shirts being sold at the TUC Conference which is essence are to celebrate the death of Lady Thatcher. It isn’t a surprise. Twitter is often full of those on the Left wishing ill on the former Conservative PM, and yet they call the Tories nasty?

Given its a Derbyshire grouping selling these things, and I am from Derbyshire I thought it worthwhile at least asking a couple of Labour MPs from Derbyshire to condemn the shirts.

Good sport, Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins responded to me, “@toryradio I certainly wont be buying 1. Thatcher’s legacy for North Derbyshire was a disgusting one, but no need to get in the gutter too.”

I put the final part in bold because of the picture below…..


…..Someone forgot to tell Ed!


Fiona Mactaggart is a Hypocrite

We all remember when Fiona Mactaggart essentially insulted Chloe Smith in the Chamber for having the temerity of being too you and a Minister. So much so that Fiona actually was publicly repentant for such a sin on this very blog.

Is it me, or is there now any irony to see Fiona Mactaggart criticise the Prime Minister for calling Dennis Skinner a dinosaur, and then trying to imply that the perceived rudeness is down to being schooled at Eton, thereby trying to make class the line of attack?

People don’t like politicians who adopt a ‘do as I say, not as I do attitude’, and Fiona Mactaggart has highlighted a prime example of this today.

Maybe her rudeness was also down to her schooling? Who am I to say?

This article first appeared on Dale & Co

New form issued for when MPs **** up on twitter

Racism or stupidity?

So the whole Abbotgate tweet has finally garnered an apology. Well an apology for any offence, not an apology for what was written. But let’s move on. I think politicians are very wary about talking about race and racisim. For me the interesting comments from twitter (yes there have been some) is the view by many that white people can’t be subjected to racism because they have all the power.

Absolute nonsense. You can have a non-white boss who could be racist. That’s why the same rule has to apply to everyone. Let’s be clear. There are white people who are racist. The last sentence is downright stupid because it is so obvious. But another stupid statement is Asian people can be racist and black people can be racist.

Do you think there is no racism between African Americans and Hispanics – of course there is. Now those who say racism can be defined by who has the power. Well some would say the white majority hold the power so Black on Hispanic racism doesn’t exist as neither hold the levers of wealth and power? Nonsense! I could regale tails of black people from African origin being racist about black people from a West Indian background – is that acceptable? No.

So from my perspective we shouldn’t accept comments that are racist from anyone should we? Maybe this is naive. Not as naive as the comments made by Diane Abbott though which at worst were racist and at best stupid – both of which are not qualities I would want in a possible future Minister.

Should Diane Abbott, Shadow Minister get away with writing this?

I make no judgement….

UPDATE:- No contrition….. clearly she stands by the comments!


Never use a tragedy for knee jerk legislation

The recent killings using a fire arm should not be used as some excuse to introduce knee jerk legislation. I didn’t think any of our MPs would suggest that the recent killings, awful and appalling as they were, provided a reason to ban the private storage of guns. But that is exactly what Chris Williamson, the Derby North MP has suggested. An honourable position to take – but in my view a ludicrous one.

If you are to ban the private storage of guns, would that mean my air rifle should be removed? And what about knives? I suspect there are far more killings using knives as weapon, including killings by the mentally unstable? You aren’t suggesting knives should be no longer allowed in our houses, yet people who have a legitimate reason to own a firearm should no longer be able to?

Yes the recent killing of innocent people in Durham is absolutely appalling, but removing guns from law abiding and mentally healthy people solves absolutely nothing.


2012 is the year for lobbying reform

2012 is the year the lobbying industry must get its house in order and be far more robust as to why what it does is an essential part of the democratic process.

I write this with a vested interest. Yes, it’s true, I have worked as a lobbyist, a public affairs professional, a campaigner, a government relations practitioner. In fact all of these words could be used to describe aspects of the job I have done both in the public and private sector.

Some MPs may be shocked that the public sector have people involved in public affairs. Yes it’s true! So those critics of lobbying in Parliament, and there are many, should ask themselves when they ask a question about Royal Mail, just who do they think provides the answer. Well it wasn’t the local-postie. No the Royal Mail, when I worked there had a Government Relations team, which did things like help prepare executives for select committee appearances, and help manage the relationship the company had with parliamentarians.

Maybe MPs would be surprised to learn the Government Relations team was instrumental in ensuring post offices numbers were segmented by parliamentary constituency. It certainly wasn’t needed for the operational requirements of the company. So yes, Government Relations practitioners aren’t involved in some ‘dark art’.

Lobbying was dragged through the mud towards the end of 2011 over the whole ‘Werritty affair’, even though Werritty was no lobbyist. There is a slight irony in the fact that an MP made an error of judgment yet it is the lobbying industry that faced both barrels aimed at it. Perhaps we should not have been surprised. MPs had taken a kicking over expenses. Then it was the turn of the media over phone hacking – so perhaps it was just the turn of the public affairs industry.

Of course the industry needs to be open and transparent, but it doesn’t take much effort to see what clients each public affairs agency represents. The same cannot be currently said of those practitioners working in-house (I was one of them) or those lobbying on behalf of charities (who often have much larger lobbying teams than FTSE 100 companies). So let’s hope that the much-awaited consultation will ensure there is a level playing field for all practitioners involved in lobbying.

A final thought is that for those who think lobbying is an affront to democracy, are they really suggesting that proposed legislation which does not take into account alternative views makes for good legislation? I think they would be the first to suggest that groups campaigning against, for example, changes to the Feed In Tariff for solar energy have a legitimate right to do so. If they pay someone who can help such a campaign, does that make what they are doing either wrong, or illegitimate? No of course not. Which is why lobbying has a right to exist in our democratic system, although 2012 is the year when the industry has to make just such a case.

This article first appeared on Dale & Co

Remind me why I am getting up for work tomorrow

I am very happy with the life I have. I am very happy with the house I live in. I am very happy with the job I have. But sometimes you do scratch your head and think why bother. Tomorrow I will get up at 5:30 to go to earn a crust to pay for the house I live in, and over the year will spend over £8,000 just to get to work.

On the same street of 10 houses there is a neighbour (nice enough) who does not work (fit enough and young enough to) who gets their rent paid for; gets their council tax paid for; is in their pyjamas walking their dog when I get home from work, and now is having slimming word paid for them by the state.

I wouldn’t mind getting up late, having a dog, having someone pay my bills, and the state pay for me to lose weight.

Someone remind me why I am getting up for work tomorrow?