Saturday, 5 June 2010

Media Bias

Had a bit of time to reflect on David Laws resignation now, and the conclusions I draw from it is that

a)the Conservative party didn't want him to go as he is the most right of the Lib Dems

b)the Lib Dems didn't want him to go as he's very good at what he does and it is damaging

but most importantly it seems: c)the right-wing media wanted to take a Lib Dem down, because they want to destabalise the coalition as it is a pure Tory government they want. Hence the attacks on Danny Alexander as soon as he was appointed.

So it's a shame that David Laws caved into the pressure he felt on him, but it was ineviatable that the Telegraph and the rest of the right-wing paper brigade would launch attacks upon the Lib Dems as they don't want this coalition to last. David Cameron has just as much of a tough fight with the right-wing over government policy as he does with his coalition partners, and thats why it's an unsustainable sitituation.

David Laws obviously felt ashamed of his sexuality and it was keeping it private that was his prime motivation, and I can understand and forgive that and I think most reasonable people can as well. You do have to wonder how the Telegraph would have acted if it were a Tory? I mean it's likely they have documentation that fingers a Tory in some fashion that they are choosing not to publish. They have been very careful in how they have used these 'expenses' files they came into possesion of.

And the lesson to learn is this: The right-wing media hates the Lib Dems. Time to just get on with things and ignore this section of the media, and fight back when need be.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Simon Hughes Standing For Deputy Leader

I strongly support Simon Hughes to become Deputy leader of the Lib Dems. Though I am not a party member due to doubts about the orange liberals agenda, Simon Hughes fits perfectly as a Lib Dem MP who shares my values and is from the same political standing as myself, i.e. the more radical center left of the party.

It is important for the Liberal Democrats that this wing of the party are represented by a MP like Simon Hughes holding a high posistion and making sure that the left of the party's views are represented.

He supports the coalition but emphasises the Liberal Democrat need to stay independent, a smart and correct choice. As i've stated previosuly, I do not believe the coalition will last as it is now, and Simon Hughes is the best choice for the Lib Dems to hold a posistion as important as deputy leader as he will assure the left that a vote for the Lib Dems does not support the Tories, it support Lib Dem principles and policies. It will also face off potential loss to Labour, because he is well known as being on the left and it is important at the next election that the Lib Dems have a high profile figure who is seen as someone who could happily deal with Labour, which Simon Hughes clearly can, whilst regarding this coalition sensiably, supporting it but retaining independence, which he is doing well.

Hopefully this view will be shared by the Liberal Democrat membership when it comes to the descion time. The fact that Vince Cable, probably the most popular Lib Dem amongst the public at large now that Cleggmania has died away, has given him his backing will be important as well.

Thursday, 27 May 2010


This coalition government is not going to last.

Vince Cable, said to be unhappy about dealing with the Tories, has stepped down as Lib Dem Deputy leader.

Sir Menzies Campbel has said he will rebel on tution fee's.

Charles Kennedy said he could not support the deal.

And on the Tory side, Graham Brady has been elected 1922 commitee chairman. He is not Cameron friendly.

And their are now very public disputes over capital gains tax.

The Liberal Democrats should be preparing for the fall out. They face being punished by the electorate for siding with the Tories in a government that is set to fail. And when it does, they need a damn good plan to stop themselves loosing seats, both to a Labour party re-energising itself and a Tory party who will constantly claim that hung parliments and coallition governments 'are bad' for the country. It will be a tough fight, and the party must realise it is going to be sooner than expected.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Boundary Changes

So Tory party policy is too reduce the number of MP's by equaling out the size of constituencies. As the Lib Dems want too reduce the number of MP's as well, and in return for the referendun on AV, then it looks like this is going to happen. Nothing really bad there, I can understand the logic, and it seems fair to make sure MP's are elected by similar levels of people.

However, there is another side to this. The system is thought to be biased towards Labour, and it's a fair thing for the Tories to go after, they may gain but you can't really complain about it for democratic reasons as the idea in itself isn't that bad on paper.

The BBC points this out:
Constituencies like the Isle of Wight, for example, has 110,000 voters, while the Western Isles has only 22,000 voters.

Doesn't seem fair does it? Perhaps equalising the electorate sizes for places like this would be more democratic.

But wait a minute...aren't the Tories champions of the idea of the 'local MP'? Don't they oppose more proportional systems because that local connection will be lost? And here you begin to see the contradiction in Tory policy.

For these 2 places mentioned happen to be their own localised communities. I mean if you put the Western Islands in with somewhere on the mainland that not very 'local' now is it, because they are now grouped in with people in different situations from them who live many miles away. The MP would no longer be local to the constituency, only part of it. Same for the Isle Of White, you can't make a new MP for it because thats adding to the number, not taking away, and it wouldn't be very local to chop off part of that islands population and group them in with somewhere on the mainland.

Of course as Island(s) these 2 are particuarly good examples, but it's doesn't take much to see big differences in cities either, with one of a city facing very different situations and circumstances to another depending on how it has grown over the years. Do you think it's fair to have the intrests of the affluent represented by the same MP representing the poorest, just because in that particular half of the city there happens to be more upper market houses?

What this basically shows is that Tory policy isn't for a shiny bright democracy, it's for themselves. If they really cared so much about being local they'd be wanting to make a whole lot more MP's to ensure even more people are covered, and if they really cared about fairness and everyone's vote counting then they'd support a PR system. Rather what they do care about is reforming the system in their favour so they get more seats in the House Of Commons, regardless of whether they are actually representing 'local' communities or not.

Friday, 21 May 2010

Banning the sale of below cost alcohol

One of the measures promised by our new government is the banning of the sale of alcohol below cost. This is excellent news, and not just for the 'health' measures being talked about by the media. Whilst people focus on the binge drinking aspect there is actually another aspect not being considered - and that is the buisness side.

The sale of below cost alcohol is a buisness practice engaged in by the UK's major super markets designed to entice people into their shops to buy eveything but the alcohol. They may loose of the sale from the 24 pack but they win overall by charging extra for the things you buy with it, particularly over priced grocery items and of course on things like BBQ's and the food you cook with them.

You may rememmber the off licence chain Threshers (aka First Quench Trading). A perfect example of a British buisness effectively destroyed by the 4 major supermarkets (Tesco, Sainsburts, Asda, Morrisons) quest for greater shares of the market. A company like Threshers could not afford to compete on beer prices and even with 3 for 2 on wine and much wine focus and training for it's staff it of course eventually lost out to the cheaper brands offered by he supermarkets, and sadly fell into administration in October 2009.

Individual independent buissnes's of course struggle as well to compete. For example a small newsagent simply can't afford to sell alcohol at less than cost, thats just not financially viable. It is getting harder and harder for them to compete with the giant shops and thats unacceptable if we wish to give the consumer choice and stop small buissness closures. We can't allow the whole country just to become 4 shops. And of course shops selling food and such are effected as well as potential customers end up doing all their shopping at the supermarkets, enticed by the alcohol offers and falling into the supermarkets trap and buying more whilst there. These big supermarkets have specialised marketing people working all year round with the aim of maxamsing profits and persudaing people to buy as much as possiable whilst in store - how can your local independent grocery shop owner compete with this?

Then of course there is the pub/bar trade. With the football world cup this summer you would expect a buisness sector like this to be booming and looking forward to it with great expoectation. Instead you see worry about these supermarket beer offers danaging trade and concern over a fall in sales figures. Pubs can't compete with the supermarkets on alcohol prices, and it is damaging to the pub trade to continue to allow below cost selling. People simply aren't going out to socialise when the supermarkets offer alcohol at a much lower price.

We can't allow supermarkets to continue to threaten other British buisness's by allowing them to continue selling alcohol below cost price. The government is right on this. Lets hope they pull through and deliver this promise.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Nick Clegg plans democracy shake up

Nick Clegg has today been setting out plans for reforming parliment and 'shaking up democracy'. This is going to be the big Lib Dem selling point to their supporters, the reasoning why a coalition deal with the Tories was he best course of action.

The Lib Dem website has his speach up here.

The BBC's report on it has highlighted the following 5 points asides from the 55% rule and teh Av referrendum.

-Elected House of Lords
-Scrapping the ID card scheme and the national identity register
-Libel to be reviewed to protect freedom of speech
-Limits on the rights to peaceful protest to be removed
-Scrapping the ContactPoint database of 11 million under-18s

So lets look at those:

Elected House of Lords
Well first thing that springs to mind: About time! It's been talked about for as long as I can remember, and whilst Labour made steps towards it they never went far enough. Which is odd, you would have thought a 3 term Labour government would have finally made this step, but they seemed far too focused on invading Iraq and reacting to the Sun's headliners and seemed to have forget this rather essential step towards making the UK a proper Democracy. It's very important we start electing our House Of Lords, given how big a part they play in British politics. I suspect it will be via PR based on party lists - thats fine with me.

Scrapping the ID card scheme and the national identity register
One of the biggest disagreements I has with Labour asides from Iraq was the ID card scheme and thankfully this is being scrapped. Monitoring people in such fashion has no place in an open, free democratic society, people should never have to justify their existence based on the information held in a database, and the government should never have such control over it's citizens. It was a slippery slope as well, way too open to abuse by future governments and it's good to stop it now before it's properly gotten under way.

Libel to be reviewed to protect freedom of speech
I must admit libel law has never been my strong point, but the amount of time i've seen new story's concerning arguments over it and people's freedoms being quashed by companies/departments it's good to see at least a review being proposed. Essentially free speach that a)does not tell ouright lies for malicious reasons and b)does not incite violence based on racial predjudice (and so forth) should always be protected
to the maximum point possiable. People should be engrouraged to voice their opinions, not discouraged because they worry they might get sued!

Limits on the rights to peaceful protest to be removed
Execellent! Labour's record on thsi was terriable, the Iraq was got them frightened and they squashed democractic rights in reaction. The government should always be held accountable by it's people, and if those people wish to peacefully protest against it then they should be allowed to do so, regardless of whether it inconviences a government official or not.

Scrapping the ContactPoint database of 11 million under-18s
It's just wrong for governments to store so much about their citizens, particuarly children. Let people be judged by their actions, not prejudiced for troubled/disadvanteged childhoods.

Ok, so far, so good. Nick Clegg has done alot today in decalring his intentions and reasons why this coalition should be going ahead. Any Lib Dem supporter out there who is feeling worried about dealign with the Tories surely must agree that these points being talked about are all good things that we have bene after throught the Labour years, particuarly since Iraq triggered the increase of Labour's restrictions on civil liberties.

Sadly no date for an AV refferendum yet though, and worries being displayed in some quaters that it may take a long time getting to. We shall have to wait and see what movement is made on this.

As for the much talked about 55% rule....well it's actually pretty reasonable and too much is being made of it.

Nick Clegg said on the matter:

"That is a much lower threshold than the two-thirds required in Scottish Parliament but it strikes the right balance for our Parliament, maintaining stability, stopping parties from forcing a dissolution to serve their own interest.

"This last week, former Labour ministers who were once perfectly happy to ride roughshod over the rights of Parliament are now declaring that this is somehow an innovation which is a constitutional outrage. They are completely missing the point.

"This is a new right for Parliament, additional to the existing powers of no confidence. We are not taking away Parliament's right to throw out government. We are taking away government's right to throw out Parliament."

And I have to say I agree 100%.

So, today was a good day for Liberalism, and Nick Clegg has put forward many good proposals. Lets just hope they are acted on.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Charles Kennedy in today's Observer

Following on from Nick Clegg in it's sister paper yesterday, the Observer today goes with Charles Kennedy having refused to vote for the coalition.

It is an admirable stance to take and important in that it was he, not Nick Clegg, that really developed the party into a political force and still remains very popular with the British public. Remember the Lib Dems won more seats in the 2005 election under Kennedy than they have now under Clegg.

Charles Kennedy is right to voice is concerns and it is good to see such a high profile Lib Dem doing so. If the Liberal Democrats are going to be able to manage to keep a distance between themselves and the Tories then it will be important for figures such as Charles Kennedy to continue writing articles such as this and remind people that the Lib Dems aren't just Nick Clegg and that not everyone is happy to be in a deal with the Tories.