03 February 2008


Feb 28th

Interesting if brief interview this morning on Breakfast TV with Heather Brooke who has been successfully campaigning for increased transparency in Parliament. WHen I get a chance I'll have a detailed look at her website. Blogrolled.

Feb 26th

It takes some doing, but Councillor Bob Piper is the most reprehensible serving politician in England. Informed by ignorance and blind hatred it is easy to run rings around him in an argument, which is the reason he won't let me have my say on his blog. His only religion is crypto-Communism so I guess he'll have no qualms about some of the violent fantasies played out in the comment section - personally I think this sort of stuff is well beyond the pale.

Feb 25th

It's been pointed out to me that in the bottom mayoral picture on the far right are two former councillors for Kings Norton (now 100% Tory) Laura Ross and her husband Duncan - who mentioned what a big lad he was when I correctly reported that Laura was looking for alternative employment in advance of last year's election where she was the defeated incumbent. The unsuccessful mayoral referendum petition is not a street or grassroots campaign, it's a Labour campaign.

Feb 22nd

The regular reader(s) of this blog will know I'm generally a pretty tolerant guy, but David Blunkett!? being wheeled out on Sky to defend commentate on the Commons Speaker Michael Martin's irregularities is somewhat irksome.

Feb 21st

I find proposals for elected mayors to offend my pro-democratic and pro-small government tendencies. I'd rather give more powers to local governments that are arranged in the traditional Leader & Cabinet manner. Being as we already have councillors, I'd rather have elected police chiefs than elected mayors. Nonetheless, it can be argued that support for and opposition to elected mayors is cross-party. If 5% of the voting population signs up for it, legislation triggers a referendum and in Birmingham, support for a mayoral referendum has formed the main campaign of the local paper and the Labour Party for about a year - check here for 100! Birmingham Mail stories related to this campaign. Both are eager to portray this campaign as a grassroots one. This is rather skewered when you consider the people manning the stands. It may be a cross-party issue, but it's definitely a Labour campaign as you can see if you click on the pictures and check out the sources.

Source 1 and Source 2. By the way, it is rumoured that with a month left until the petition deadline expires they are miles off meeting the threshhold. Steve Dyson (editor of Birmingham Mail) and Neil Elkes (chief political editor) have shown poor judgment by flogging this dead horse and have allied themselves with a shambolic local Labour Party in the process.

White people will want to know his/her motivation/credentials are but I like this blog because it's funny. Blogrolled.

Feb 20th

Re Northern Rock, Cityunslicker eats his hat. Meanwhile Ken Purchase and other idiots on the Left are celebrating the nationalisation. My take is that NR is a disastrous but all-too-typical saga of Labour incompetence. The decision to nationalise is yet another misguided attempt to kick the issue into the long grass rather than take a short-term hit and move on. It won't work and the existence of a government-backed bank acting like any other commercial player will have a pernicious impact on the rest of the financial sector.

Feb 17th

It seems that my name goes before me in Birmingham Conservative circles, but it is a bit embarassing to be introduced as Dominic Fisher aka Praguetory. Some have suggested I could/should stand in a non-target seat in the upcoming locals, but this is impossible because you need to be registered as living in a local authority for a year before you can be a candidate. I was out delivering with Cllr Bobby Alden who represents Birmingham Erdington the seat that he lives in. Although there is a limited amount that a councillor can achieve due to the centralised democracy we have, he seems to have earned the trust of his constituents. Residents emerged from their houses with thank you cards and for advice and car drivers were screeching to a halt upon seeing him to get out and asking him to make representations about traffic issues. The incumbent Erdington Labour councillor Jilly Bermingham has apparently decided not to stand using a laughably weak excuse that would be too cruel to repeat here, but is a source of Tory derision. Rumour is that Labour have picked someone from outside the area to replace her.

I've decided to add Susan Polgar's blog to the roll. She was the first female grandmaster and posts prolifically here. She is part of the a sister act that became world team chess champions for their country. An interesting programme on her and how she reached the chess heights is here.

Feb 16th

They say that there aren't many Tory members in Birmingham - there were around 100 out in force last night at a beer and skittles night. It seems that wii bowling helps with real bowling as my team walked away with the bubbly and I top scored on the evening. I agree with this diagnosis of Tory tax dithering. You don't win an argument if you lack clarity and conviction.

Feb 14th

Charlie/Gordon Brown is a lovable/unlovable loser, a child/man possessed of endless determination and optimism/cynicism, but who is ultimately dominated by a "permanent case of bad luck", and is often dominated by his peers. These traits are best-shown from his baseball team/Cabinet: Charlie/Gordon Brown is the manager of the team and its pitcher/Prime minister, Charlie/Gordon Brown consistently loses (his all-time baseball/PMQ record is said to be 0-27).

Feb 12th

In respect of the EU referendum, I was interested by Trixie's eye-witness account of Labour admitting that they don't keep their promises and that we shouldn't expect them to.

I can see certain circumstances where it could be unreasonable to punish a party (outside of the ballot box) for failing on their manifesto commitments. Required legislation might fail to pass or as in the case of single sex hospital wards, the government might simply be too incompetent to deliver their promises. But it is unreasonable and inexcusable for Labour to fail to call a referendum. The only obstacle to doing so is Brown's own cowardice/dishonour.

Labour sycophant David Boothroyd predictably turns up in the comments thread at Trixie's with the party line that the constitution is different to the treaty. It's easy to spout the party line on a blog, but Labour's lawyers clearly felt that this line of argument wouldn't stand up in court. They'd rather admit that their promises are worthless than make that case. That tired mantra is firmly skewered.

Feb 11th

Well two out of three ain't bad. Highlight of the Villa match was the chant of 'there's only one Kevin Keegan' after Carew racked up his hat-trick.

Feb 9th

Back to Brum. As part of my mission I have to bring back cheddar cheese (lots of it), Yorkshire Tea and a strapless and transparent bra.

Feb 8th

I'm off to watch Villa play Newcastle with my former Lenton housemates this weekend. It will be interesting to see whether Keegan and Wise (pictured) can motivate the Geordies.

Feb 7th

I've decided to stop commenting at political websites for Lent.

Feb 6th

Good first question from David Cameron on how many reviews Gordon Brown has initiated (the answer is 52 or one every 4 days). By the way, I didn't know that Andy Fordham was an MP but he was sat behind Gordon today.

Feb 5th

As Laban pointed out (but nobody else seemed to notice) BBC radio presenter and full-blown AIDs sufferer Nigel Wrench was suspended by the BBC just less than a year ago when he was charged with male rape. Details of the incident are beginning to emerge from court. In 2000, Nigel told the Pink Paper 'Since I've been HIV+ I've had unsafe sex more times than I can remember, often with men whose names I could not tell you now'.

When sacking Robert Kilroy-Silk, the BBC's Jana Bennett said

'Presenters of this kind of programme have a responsibility to uphold the BBC's impartiality. This does not mean that people who express highly controversial views are not welcome on the BBC but they cannot be presenters of a news, current affairs or topical discussion programme.'

Some people have asked why this did not apply in Wrench's case? Personally, I liken his admitted behaviour to HIV syringe attacks which usually attract severe prison sentences. So I'm asking why he wasn't arrested/sectioned.

Others will ask whether the overwhelming media silence is related to his orientation or his employers. Certainly, when a previously obscure 19 year old football player is named in respect of a reported rape before he is even charged with a crime, it does beg the question.

Feb 4th

I don't think I'm naturally musical, but I have a great deal of admiration for those who do have that talent and fulfil their potential. So it's nice to see this young man's achievement being recognised.

Feb 3rd

The Conway verdict and subsequent withdrawal of the whip is an opportunity to clean up politics, but as with Garry Newlove's widow's impassioned speech where the media and political classes seemed to take a call for law and order as a debate on supermarket alcohol prices (!?*&!^&) the initial fallout doesn't engender confidence that we're heading in the right direction.

For avoidance of doubt, these are the required basic measures that should be taken by Parliamentary authorities

1. All expenses must be receipted
2. Random, independent and thorough checks of the validity of expenses
3. MPs must declare all staff including the nature of any personal relationship (it's not just Bob Spink that has an ex on his payroll). New staff must be notified as soon as they are employed and changes in the nature of the relationship must be notified, too.
4. More detailed and frequent check should take place over related party employees

I would like to see legislation that supports the following ideas

1. Expenses fraud (i.e. failure to comply with any of the above) = automatic by-election
2. Voters in any constituency can trigger a by-election if more than 20% of them sign a recall petition.

The above should be enough in itself to bring the House to order. However, in the short term, the party leaders can take a number of steps to clean things up.

1. Require all their MPs to submit a similar list of expenses to the one Ben Wallace has prepared
2. Get MPs to list all staff including the nature of any personal relationship and ask those MPs to vouch that they can provide evidence to support the assertion that these payroll arrangements are arms length.


Neil Harding said...

"Voters in any constituency can trigger a by-election if more than 20% of them sign a recall petition".

I don't think you have thought this one through have you? There would be constant by-elections because every constituency has at least 20% opposition. As soon as you lose, go round get your voters signatures and hey presto - another election. If you change the number to 50% then you may have an argument. But since Conway is going to lose his seat in the next 18 months, it is hardly gonna make much difference in his case.

Praguetory said...

I don't think you have thought this one through have you?

Yes I have thought this through - I believe you overestimate the party allegiance of voters. People won't be motivated to sign 'sore loser' petitions and if they do in sufficient numbers, the incumbent will probably improve their majority in the second vote. Just like 10 Downing Street petitions you can time limit the period over which votes can be collected (I suggest 6 weeks).

Man in a Shed said...

I'd spotted the news of the alleged rape on the BBC and DT. But thought to leave well alone.

I hadn't heard about the HIV and it casts a more disturbing light on the matter. (Its not good anyway).

I wish Mr Wrench a fair and just trial where he will be assumed innocent until proven guilty or acquitted. But as you say there are plenty of heterosexual males who don't get this treatment from the media or the courts.

I sometimes (okay most of the time) wonder how representative of the whole country the BBC really is.

Anonymous said...

"Barebacking can be warm, exciting and involving," he states. "We need to debate it. But don't let's start by writing it off as irresponsible and stupid. That, frankly, is both absurd and dangerous."

Silly boy!

Neil Harding said...

PT, On the recall vote thingy - I don't think having constant meaningless elections is a good use of public funds, are we not supposed to be saving money here?

Just a note on the Nigel Wrench case - the reason he has not been arrested and charged for his comments in 2000 is because in the article he states that he only had sex with people already HIV+.

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Mark Wadsworth said...

PT, for an ex-blogger this is pretty prolific! Anyway, good stuff, keep it up.