Wednesday, 25 January 2006

The Health of the Union

Reading Drinking From Home (Scottish Raj) & The CEP (Campaign for an English Parliament) this morning, on the subjects of Scots at Westminster and devolution made me think what a botched job Labour has made of the constitutional affairs it has deigned to touch and how we solve the West Lothain Question.

DFH in the Scottish Raj article identifies 28 Scots who hold major Cabinet, Government & parliamentary positions from Tony Blair to PPSs to the Speaker. The imbalance is obvious and frankly embarrassing. As far as I can see there are two options for Britain if we accept the current arrangement in Westminster, Holyrood and Cardiff is a total, unworkable fudge:

  • We either retain the current unitary system, whilst overhauling the Lords, returning all powers to Westminster and provide more emphasis on the regions or the more impoverished areas outside London and the Midlands such as the North West/East, Scotland & Wales that will always need help.
  • We adopt a Federal system which breaks the UK into Scotland, NI, Wales, the North, Midlands and South of England each with their own mini-bicameral systems with a streamlined Commons and a Senate style Lords of much fewer Peers/Senators (approx. 100.)
However the real problem for many in England (like the folks at the CEP) is that any Union between the four nations will always require money to flow out from London to the weaker/poorer regions. This may seem inherently unfair but the price the other home nations pay in return is the loss of the brightest and the best to England, and in particular London. This has, historically, exacerbated the poor situation of wealth generation in countries such as Scotland and hence resulted in the need for such support.

David Stenhouse's 'On the Make: How the Scots Took Over London' is definitely worth a read to understand more about the outflow of talent from Scotland to England over the ages.

Tuesday, 24 January 2006

Strangers: Integrity & Galloway

I have a friend who likes to argue Galloway has integrity. Naturally I have never agreed with him and always seek to persuade him of the error of his ways.

But I watched Celebrity Big Brother for the first time last night and I don't understand how anybody can say, with a straight face, that "Gorgeous" George is advancing his cause, or his constituents, or the down trodden masses he claims to represent.

On another note, regarding his work ethic: he has the lowest voting record but for the Speaker and Speaker's deputies who can't vote and Tony Blair (the Prime Minister of Great Britain - fair enough) and yet his constituency is in London. All he is interested is in boosting his ego.

Shame Mr Galloway, shame. In the high profile campaign you fought in Bethnal Green you promised your constituents so much more and yet you have failed them so badly and delivered so little.

What Next?

The Lib Dems seem intent on total self-destruction at the moment, p12 of today's (Tuesday) Telegraph has an article about a new local Lib Dem party president - he's 12 years old!

I'm sure this is a lovely story and that he is very bright but it's wrong on so many levels and as for the possibility of jokes... well I'm not going to start, it would just be far too easy.

They're not really helping their current situation or repuation with stories like this are they?

Monday, 23 January 2006

Fat Cats in The Public Sector

Public workers are up in arms about proposed changes to their pension provisions according to a BBC News Article.

Of course they are - poor dears. It's such a hard work, toiling for the government now that their retirement age remains at 60, and their pensions must remain index linked, oh and of course under the 85 rule they should be able to retire as early as possible, for good measure.

Never mind that the people who pay public sector pensions (the taxpayers) should be asked to pay as their own pensions collapse around them and then be forced to work ever longer so as to be able to retire with a decent pension.

Please, do strike, cause mass misery to those who pay these pensions and then win any way as this government is too weak to stand up to and your irrational demands.

Mark Oaten: Part II - The Aftermath

Mark Oaten's "Episode" raises an interesting thought for the Conservative Party.

He was the man the Tory Party had the most to fear from - he won the solid Tory seat of Winchester from Gerry Malone back in '97 and could have probably done the same in larger quantities for Lib Dems around the country at the next election.

The rest of the bunch are pretty unappealing - Huhne has only sat in parliament for a matter of months and now he wants to lead a national party! I know there are Cameron parallels there but not such bravado on that scale. Ming - too old, dull and reliable. A good man but a caretaker only. Simon Hughes - not terribly inspiring is he?

Oaten was different (no, not like that!) - he wasn't threatening to alot of Tory voters and alot of his ideas (tough liberalism, etc.) appealed to many disaffected Tories. He could have quite easily gained alot of centrist New Labour voters that wouldn't vote for a Labour party under Gordon Brown too, putting the party in a remarkably strong position.

As it is now, the Lib Dems can only lurch to the left and will have to compete with Labour for a limited pool of voters - leaving the door wide open for Cameron and the Tory party to move back to the centre ground at the next election.

Thanks to Guido for the photo.

Mark Oaten: Part I

There's am interesting debate going on at Guido Fawke's place about Oaten's (supposed) hypocrisy.

Nobody, I think, likes to see another person having to resign in humiliation (unless they're a particularly nasty piece of work) nor the way the press tear up aspects of their personal life in avery public areana.

However, if one is going to cause a fuss over the use of prostitutes and the circumstances surrounding such a case, common sense would suggest that one doesn't get caught using prostitutes six months later, especially if one is married with two children.

I genuinely don't think the issue is his use of prostitutes per se, more the fact he has been caught in that classic politician pose of do as I say, not as I do.

Normal Service Will Resume...

Lack of posting recently has been, frankly, crap - apologies. Something about University final exams, Christmas, you know all the usual excuses.

Anyway, the stream of high quality chat will resume shortly...

On the subject of disappearing, what has happened to Peter Cuthbertson at Conservative Commentary ? He seems to have disappeared off the face of the earth since late lastt October. ConCom is/was always worth a read as it covered a whole range of challenging/controversial issues in Peter's unique and interesting manner. His contributions are missed.