18 February 2010

Comedy Genius

'Sir' Nicholas Winterton, who has already made an arse of himself with his fellow-MP wife over renting his own property, has, as I'm sure you've heard by now, said that MPs 'need' to travel first-class

Guido's already picked it up, and I don't really need to have a rant (did that in the car..) but I heard it live and it was brilliant, particularly as he was on to discuss the Falklands..

But what I do want to say is that Stephen Nolan has been brilliant the last few days, he's been covering Victoria Derbyshire this week and he's turned the slot into a Paxman-esque grilling of politicians, far more fun, I wish he'd stay, Victoria is alright, but she wouldn't get him to announce that MPs are a different type of people (although knowing Sir Nick...)

I would like to address a few issues, however

Why exactly was it fair to pay rent for a property he already owned? How is that justified, even if it's an 'allowance' not 'expenses' - that's taking all you can get regardless

Secondly he said you can't get a seat in standard class, that would only apply to rush hour, but he also said children travel in standard class - I've never experienced children in rush hour, at 7am there are no seats, but also no kids

Furthermore, he's from Macclesfield and has a London flat...so he's not a commuter and wouldn't even be on a train in rush hour...hence he experiences noisy children in standard, and hence there would be seats available

I am reminded of that train ad that suggests you go by train (standard class) to get some much-needed work done rather than having to drive...apparently not MPs

I also found this from his local paper 

And I drive with my wife to and from London, which is vastly cheaper than the train, and I also subsidise my travel with my salary." (April 2009)

So when the hell is he claiming for first class travel?? He claims 6 grand on it, not a low figure - he says he's cheap but that's overall and down to an incredibly stingy office budget - generally I'd say office budgets are far more beneficial to the public, and they don't go on the individual but staff and costs

This also raises the issue of MPs standing down - why should we be subject to this sort of behaviour? Because he's not going for re-election he can do absolutely anything, he might as well start waving a Nazi flag around for four or five years, MPs should be subject to some sort of scrutiny, not given five years of complete freedom, perhaps we need a power of recall in these cases

15 February 2010

Responses on electoral reform

I wished to respond to points made by Dan and Spidie in my last post but for some reason blogger is being an arse, so I'll post my points as an entry:

I'm not exactly sold on PR or anything - but my view is we already have the worst aspect of a PR system, ie party rule

A primary or caucus would certainly be better - but that has flaws, everyone would have to join the party, leading us to American-style politics and an even more cemented two-party system

I also still don't like the 'local' thing - it's all very well to use a caucus to elect a decent local candidate but until the MP actually has some sort of power then all I see is a disjointed system propping up the two main parties - direct plurality voting is fine, but you're not actually voting for that MP to represent you, you're voting for the party as a whole - to me, until that's changed, the FPtP system remains intrinsically unfair, the way parliament works needs a change first

Weak government? Often thrown out, and it's true it's hard to get rid of a government totally, but can we really say we have 'strong' government? Most people seem to hark back to Thatcher when talking about that...is Brown strong? Did we really like the electoral dictatorship of 'president' Blair?

The choice we get is Brown and Cameron - doesn't seem like much of a choice to me, and there doesn't seem to be a huge difference, what exactly are we voting for? All I see is two parties who want power

Personally I think it's a red herring when there's really only two major countries that use our system - the US and us, are we any better off than Germany, or indeed most major nations?

I don't really support PR as such, but simply see it as the lesser of two evils, I think it would be fairer in our current situation...but really Parliament needs a massive overhaul in general and people need to be more engaged and I think the plurality system we have is a massive impediment to voter engagement

10 February 2010

A few more tory lies

I'm developing a bit of a theme here - this isn't a partisan blog, and Brown is behaving like an overgrown 2-year-old, but he's not the one opposing reform for the sake of it, and lying about it

The Tories have an opinion on electoral reform but what are they actually lying about? I hear you ask

Take this from Dominic Grieve:

The current system delivered "clear, clean results" and allowed voters to "get rid of" MPs they did not want.

Have you ever 'got rid' of an MP you don't want?

The usual arrogant claptrap from the Tories - they keep most of their MPs through ridiculous safe seats where they face no scrutiny at all and with the first past the post system it is virtually impossible to defeat the biggest minority vote - this, in the Tories' minds (and Labour's btw), is a fair system and means people actually want those MPs...when most people don't actually know the name of their MP or PPC

I'll give you my own local example - all over East Anglia Tory MPs like mine hold majorities of a few thousand, few, if any, have a 50% majority but they win with a bedrock of support - the fact that 60% do not want the Tory is ignored, how is that electing the 'most popular' and indeed how can 'you get rid of' an MP when all the opposition votes are split - are you seriously telling me that since 1950 whatever Tory has held the seat has been wanted?

Alternative vote will (sorry, 'would') be a slightly better, less negative system as it will force a two-horse race, the Tories are right that it will cause a 'least unpopular' system, but it's a lie to suggest we have a 'most popular' system now, especially when they seem to support reality in choosing governments (ie. an unfair system for a distinct government change) but don't support that at constituency level

Their view is a slap in the face to all of us in the majority who don't want their hand-picked chums representing us

08 February 2010

Don't insult us

Cameron has somewhat of a nerve attacking Brown over expenses/parliamentary reform

Now, I hate Brown as much as the next man, but the simple fact is all parties were hurt by the expenses scandal, and while I don't support the wall of silence from the leaders on this, it's simply bizarre to take pot-shots at the enemy when they are all guilty

Clegg is right - Cameron, who hasn't got a reforming bone in his body, is simply being an opportunist - he knows that no reform is needed, so he offers it to appear like some sort of white knight

I do agree that Labour should be withdrawing the whip and any party lawyers, but that's by-the-by, Cameron is simply re-enforcing the myth that parliamentary privilege could protect these crooks

This issue came up during the expenses saga itself - it didn't apply to reviewing accounts, so why on earth would it apply to criminal proceedings under the Theft Act? Some in the media were just stirring the pot back then, but for these pollies to actually think it will protect them serves no-one but the lawyers who are making a fastbuck from trying this route, all it's doing is telling people is politicians are protected

Can't really blame them, as Morley and co. are basically saying Parliamentary privilege protects them from criminal proceedings - therefore they could be trying this route as a defence for murder, anyone with a shred of legal knowledge will tell you it won't stand up

Cameron is a shameless opportunist...again

05 February 2010

The vast majority...

'...Have done nothing wrong'

That's what they've been saying all along...'it was a minority', 'not all politicians are corrupt...' etc etc

While it's true that not all politicians have been bad, we cynics have always said it was the minority who actually behaved themselves, a quick look at the claims will tell you that

Do you think we can get an apology now that 390, which is more than 50% of MPs (I do understand if most of them don't know what a 'majority' means) have been asked to repay money?

01 February 2010

Why do they deserve to vote on the system that produced them?

News reaches me that Labour are to try and bring in an AV system

Good, I guess, but my first reaction was - what right do a party elected by this severely flawed system, led by an unelected and unwanted prime minister, who will almost all be thrown out in three months time, have to decide our electoral system, which they have gerrymandered no end?

Meanwhile the opposition are totally against it because...well, they like winning

and Labour are only doing it t paint said opposition as anti-reform

I despair

(in fairness anything Brown tries to introduce makes me wince - because I cannot recognise him as our leader, because he's not, we were never asked)