Not Mid Morning Matters

JD in the Morning, off air…

Tag: general election

Election Predictions

There will be an election, there will be a result, there will be a government and there will be a lot of coverage, an awful lot of coverage. Reporters will be standing outside doors and buildings talking about what is, isn’t or might be or not be going on inside. Or not. Old political faces who are not ‘in the room’ will be talking about what is going on ‘in the room’. All this, which could go on for weeks, will happen while we the voters wonder what was the point of our X marks the spot on Thursday 7th May. Please vote though, it matters. It really matters.

There will also be winners and losers, careers made and careers destroyed. From 10pm on Thursday 7th May until around 5pm on Friday 8th May it will be theatre and reality at its most brutal, without gallons of Kensington claret. Yet shouldn’t there have been something more to this whole General Election thing? It was briefly touched on during this ridiculously long and terminally dull campaign. The world beyond our shores.

Our world is in a parlous state and that world is part of our country whether we like it or not. We can no more shut the doors on our boarders and then ride around in a fantasy 1950’s England with baskets on the front of our bikes, doffing our hats to the vicar from the church we all go to on Sunday, than we can ignore what is actually happening in the world we all live in and on. And least we forget that the 50’s ‘Kath Kidston’ ‘I could leave me back door open’ ‘we was poor but we was ‘appy’ image was forged from two conflicts that cost us dearly in every way but required us to step up and be.

We can and we should influence our world today but this requires statesmen, stateswomen and statecraft. This requires real political will. It also requires our commitment to do better, to be better and to stop dwelling on the mistakes made in the past or use them as an excuse for our inaction to influence the future. Our duty, because of our history and our place in our world, is to do more and be more than just anxious bystanders claiming ‘its not my problem mate’ or that we ‘are not the worlds policeman’.

As a nation, as a people we are better than that and it’s about time our leaders, all of them, faced up to what is actually happening in and to our world. Our leaders, what ever combo is ultimately in government (NOT power), need to actively take part in our world to help sort it out. Why? Because I have four children who I want to grow up safe and happy.

Since the recession we have become insular and inward looking. Our national leaders have followed this. They have amplified this tune and, as a result, our politics have become the ideas of the niche. Political parties have sprung up like dandilions each with a ‘solution’ for a ‘thing’. There are no grand ideas, no proven track records, no statecraft of statesmanship just a lot of little parties dealing with ‘immigration’ or ‘equality’ or ‘pay’ or ‘rights’ but beyond their founding principles they fall apart once questioned and scrutinised.

Democracy is not easy. It’s not supposed to be. It is about the elected majority bringing the minority along with it and not leaving them behind while they are ‘in power’ to feel there is nothing in it for them. If any government uses that ‘in power’ phrase we should all be very scared. If the majority fails the minority then anger sets in with that minority and they do stupid things like hide in the shadows, graffiti cars and try to scare innocent people. They act like 13-year-old boys yet to discover masturbation.

The politics of the majority seems be about telling us what is wrong and who is to blame for it, usually the minority. That is an easy hit but it’s not so easy to actually do something about it. We have a generation of evidence for that. Politics must change and if there is a low turnout in this general election, say below 63%, that could finally be the tipping point toward that change.

In the coming months lets hope we can really consider our place in society and our place in the world. The coming months must also be about Governments first responsibility to all of us. To keep us safe, in everything that means.

One last thing. After the results and the pantomime, politicians please leave us alone.

It’s election time, there’s no reason to be afraid

It’s less than a month until the nation decides, until we get our chance to have our say. Excited? No, me neither.

The Fix Term Parliament Act has taken all the excitement and fun out of ‘the election’. We knew when this election was going to be, if we actually gave a stuff, years ago. So did the politicians and so did the media. All this nonsense about TV debates not happening and candidates not being ready or prepared is utter tosh. If any of them are not ready then, frankly, get off the stage preferable pursued by a bear. That would make great TV. Channel 5 would make a series out of it.

There was a time, not in a good ole days ‘Gorr blimey, ‘ave a banana, we use to leave all our windows and doors open’ way, when elections were called and you got three weeks of campaigning. Out would trot the political candidates wearing oversize rosettes like podgy gymkhana ponies asking for your vote. Then, after polling day, they left you alone again for another four years or so. Now Politicians seem to have it in their heads that we want to hear from them all the time. Politicians should be like the bank manager, the Doctor or the police. You never, ever want to hear from them because when you do it’s usually bad news.

The 2015 General Election has been going on since the party conference season last year, and look where we are in the polls? It’s neck and neck and not a cigarette paper (to be found behind a screen and soon to be in a plain packet because nanny knows best) between the two main parties in policy terms. At least some of the smaller parties have more radical or wacky, far out, sensible or stupid policies. Please delete or use the words you feel fits your politics.

Politicians have got to stop thinking we care about them and are actually interested in them. Politicians have a job to do and we have our life to lead. Our electoral contract should be as simple as this. I elect you as an MP or Councillor and then you go away and do your job. You don’t get in my way or tax me too much. You are fair to everyone, not just those who support your party and you keep me safe. And stop asking me what you should do as I elected you to do it, as I have my own life to lead.

A sensible, liberal democracy should allow us the right to vote freely and then to be left alone. If Politicians or political parties are going to muck about with our local schools, healthcare, energy bills or the tax I pay (and tax IS the price of civilisation) then it better be for the REAL benefit of my family, friends and me. If not then you’re out next time.

A few last points.

If you are a political party member or standing for election don’t think most of us give a stuff about your party’s ‘vision’ or ‘policies’ because we don’t. Have you ever read a manifesto? More people are members of the RSPB than are members of all the main political parties. We like birds more so maybe politicians should more like birds? Maybe, if you want to get elected, you should dress up as a chicken or a cock.

TV debates are for a presidential system not for our constituency based electoral system. You and I should be voting for the best person to represent us where we live, not a just a leader and a bunch of party lemmings to do their bidding.

Any politician who says they want ‘power’ or ‘when we are in power’ or ‘when we get into power’ must be denied that power at all costs. You are not voting anyone into power. You are voting for someone to represent you, your family, your friends and your neighbors. You are voting for someone to keep you and yours safe and well. Any election candidate who wants power is in the wrong country. You and your vote is the power and those you elect are your servants.

The General Election is all well and good and when you have your MP you will either desperately need their help (and I hope this never happens to you) or you will want to avoid them like a bad smell emanating from an old dog. Please remember the local elections too, as this matter more in your everyday life. Local Councils and your local councillor are more important than your MP.

Finally to that vital democratic cross you have. It’s yours to use. It is real power that you give in majority to your elected representative. Many have died for you to use your vote. Your vote is not free. Your vote comes with responsibility and reason. If you decide not to vote that is your absolute right in our democracy, but if you don’t vote then you can’t moan about the ‘bloody government or council’.

Sound Policies for a (insert your hope here) Britain

There is an election coming. You may have noticed. All the parties are squaring up to each other while trying to convince you that they ‘have a plan’. They all want to ‘help’ you and yours have a better life, they all say other parties offer you nothing and scare you about why you should be afraid of them if they get in.

We are, of course, being ravaged by ‘crisis’ in all our public services, there is failure on every front and it is all everyone elses fault, but not yours. You are the victim. This was the same in 1979, 1983, 1987, 1992, 1997 and so on. You didn’t ask to the barrow the money, you didn’t use the services and you said yes when you should have said no. So now, as we hope for actual leaders to actually lead and real ideas to inspire us, it’s time to test and debate what they are offering. Exciting isn’t it? Well maybe it just might be in a world of four or even five party politics.

I thought I would flesh out my own ‘manifesto’ for a healthier, wealthier, happier or any other ‘ier’ in Britain you might want. Working on the old principle that there is no such thing as a bad idea, these ‘policy headlines’ may just appear somewhere else in the next few months or at some time in the future.

Here goes.

We all pay a flat income tax at 20% of our income, after that income exceeds £15,000 per annum. National Insurance is abolished, along with VAT. Once you earn over £100,000 you then pay 30% income tax and 40% over £200,000.*

You pay a further 2% of you income to you local council.*

Fuel Duty and Vehicle Tax is abolished and you pay 2p for every 1 mile you drive.*

Both national and local councils must send you an annual receipt of what you paid and what they spent it on.

A visit to the Doctor will cost you £18.50, like a basic visit to the dentist, which is currently £18.50. The same exceptions will apply as in dental treatment and if you are undergoing treatment for a chronic illness you do not pay.

Caravans are only allowed to use the UK road network between midnight and 5am between March and November.

You must pass a test to tow a caravan and all caravans must pass an annual MOT.

You can’t get married until you are 30 years old, unless you have the written consent of all family members.

Children learning stringed musical instruments must do so in sound proof rooms.

All barriers and protective street furniture will be removed to make us all pay attention to what is actually going on around us as we walk, drive, cycle. You have a survival instinct and you can use it. Headphones are not allowed on bikes, buses or pavements

The use of traffic cones closing any lanes on our motorways must be no more that half a mile from where the work is being done or where the incident is.

All police vehicles must be marked as police vehicles.

All government departments, both local and national, must be able to clearly answer the ‘why can’t it be done’ test. And ‘we don’t have the money’ is not good enough. You are the government, act like one.

You vote for the person you want to represent you and then party you want to run the council or country.

No election counts unless 40% of those who can vote do actually vote. Any turnout below 40% means no elected representative. Anyone wants your vote must engage you for it.

All big planning applications must go to the applicable local council ward referendum. If less that 40% of those who can vote don’t vote in the referendum, the planning is passed. Over a 40% turnout a simple majority is required to pass or reject any planning application.

We all get a citizen card that is also our driving licence. This card contains details of our insurance and whether we voted or not.

If you didn’t vote shut up as nobody cares what you think.

If you are an elected official and you don’t tell the truth, claim to be one thing and then we find out you are something else you are fired.

Cyclists have to be insured to cycle and pass a basic test on the highway code.

Page three is out of date. Stop it.

Bring back Double D peanuts in the pub.

Local government deals with schools, health, police and local infrastructure.

National government deals with motorways, trains, justice, wars and foreign policy. No government department or profession effected by a government department can ‘overhauled’ or ‘reformed’ until those reforms have been discussed with those they are going to effect.

Junk mail is no longer allowed.

Christmas can’t start until 1st December. Easter can’t start until lent.

Mobility scooters are only to be sold to those who can’t walk, not to those who choose not to walk. They must also be licensed and can not go faster that 3mph.

Bond films or Carry On films must be shown on one free to air TV channel on every Bank Holiday in the afternoon.

I commend all these polices to the house and hope I can count on your vote. Some of the above may not vote winning.

*Sums may not add up, much like everything else that has come out of HM Treasure since 1945

Do you buy the bi election result?

UKIP win a bi election and come a very close second in another. What does it all mean? Who really knows? All the claims of a new ear of four party or even five party politics are a bit far-fetched as one Green MP and one UKIP MP doesn’t really change anything for you and me. It does mean they can do stuff in the House of Commons and for their constituents but it’s a bit like being a one-legged man at an arse kicking party; thanks for the invite but I can’t really join in.

History shows us that fringe parties are mostly parties of protest. There are a chance to give the main parties a bloody nose and tell them to listen and to stop being what they think they should be. This time it may be different, especially if the Rochester bi election or as it should be known the Reckless bi election goes UKIPs way too. The Reckless bi election; how apt.

What is surprising is that the main parties didn’t see this coming, much like they didn’t see the SDP coming, they failed to see the financial crisis, prepare for the recession and actually deal with deficit that we are all living with and will continue to suffer from for many years to come. Why? Simple. Short termisum.

Our current leaders are short-term opportunists, hoping that the next year will be better than the last by tinkering around the edges but seldom planning much beyond the next electoral cycle. Even when they try with deficit reduction plans or fixing energy prices we don’t believe them and, in reality, they can’t actually do it because big P politics always gets in the way of achievement. The drastic public spending cuts and/or tax rises required to reduce the deficit will never happen as they would be political suicide. Other ‘vote winners’ such as the freezing of energy prices in a global market are, frankly, nuts. It’s the stuff of Canute and tides. If this had been done last year you would have lost out on the falling oil prices of the last 12 months and be paying well over the odds. Today the oil price is at a four-year low. Short termisum defined.

Our leaders, or managers (see earlier blog) do not get it. We need vision, leadership, statesmanship plus the ability, ambition and drive to see it through. We need do-ers not talkers who say they are ‘listening’ or have had ‘a wake up call’ or say ‘I want to tell you this’. Any politician who says ‘I want to tell you this’ should have the microphone removed from him or her, be sent home and they do something else, where nobody will be really listening either.

We need actual, real leaders and those who actually do. We need those who say they are going to do something and then actually do it. We need our faith restored and, until we have that, we will give anything a punt because our hope is the most powerful aspiration we have. The trouble is that hope is killed by failure and our hopes have been dashed a fair bit by all the political colours and their successive failures in the last two decades.

On my recent BBC trip to Bordeaux I saw a French city through the eyes of its governance not through the eyes of a tourist. It was fascinating. In two decades and with a lot of pain for those who live in Bordeaux the Mayor and the council have transformed the city with integrated public transport and bold policies to claim the city back for the people. It’s not all sunshine and lollipops but I didn’t meet anyone who didn’t see the city today as better than it was twenty years ago. The Mayor of Bordeaux has been elected three times and is about to run to be the President of France. Alain Juppe is a man who gets things done.

The vision, the action, the result is what we vote for in a true liberal democracy not words, more words and sniping at the other lot. UKIP have clearly demonstrated that if you fill the green leather benches of parliament with managers and sound bites voters will look for leaders who apparently stand for something. UKIP a have cleverly combined Europe and immigration into policy with a simple solution, leaving the rest of the political class to flap about like fish out of water, still gagging at the word immigration.

The next seven months will be very interesting as we may see the emergence of two types of politics and politician. Those who get it and those who lose their seat.

I’m not being racist but…

Immigration. It’s a complex word that strikes a deep chord, gets the media in a tangle and makes politicians worry about what they can say, or don’t say.

At the last general election in 2010 it was the third rail of British politics. Touch it and you will die. Bigotgate anyone? Ask Gordon Brown about immigration and see his jaw lock, as only it can. This year and the next general election this will and must change.

It is a painful reality that, as part of he EU, we have freedom of movement around the 27 member states and they do here. So we can no more pull up the UK PLC drawbridge and lock the doors with a sign on saying ‘No Vacancies’ than Spain can do the same to us. Maybe Spain, Greece, France, Portugal would like to send back all those British expats living in those warmer European climbs? Freedom of movement is a central plank of the EU and, without it, the whole project will fail. So for the UK not to be part of this fundamental part of the EU means we are out, even before you get be asked if you want to be in or out in 2017. It is a shame that the bill that would have made that law has now died a painful death at the hands of our noble lords. That is politics for you.

This last week has seen the Prime Minister commit again to ‘tens of thousands’ of net immigration just as parliament got itself into a total tis over the Immigration Bill. The sight of our Home Secretary having to sit on her hands and abstain on an illegal amendment to the bill shows how difficult this whole issue is, even for our law makers and party leaders.

So is it racist to debate immigration? The BBC gets itself in knots over the issue, as do most national newspapers and politicians. Is it racist to want border controls? If it is then most countries outside the EU are guilty as charged. ‘I’m not being racist but … can I see your visa?’ Is it racist to expect those who choose to the UK to pay taxes, to be part of the wider community, to speak the common language and respect the laws and traditions of the UK? Is it racist to ask those who come her to be part of our culture, life, and principles? Is it racist to send home those who threaten lives or incite hatred against the wider society?

Last year the retiring Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks suggested multiculturalism creates a society where “everyone is a guest”, and went on to call for a “multi-ethnic” society not multi-cultured. In essence multicultural means many cultures rubbing along together, all trying to understand and respect each other. But what happens when things rub? Friction, heat and then worse. Lord Sacks went on to say multiculturalism in Britain has “had its day” having led to “segregation and inward looking communities”. Is he a racist for say that? Am I a racist for expanding on it?

We must stop being afraid of a debate on immigration and the many unique cultures that live in the UK. We must control our boarders, know who is coming in and out and we must stop saying ‘I’m not being racist but’ every time we dare to express a view that might offend someone. Free speech is just one of the many reasons why we are all here and free speech might just achieve a multi ethnic, broad, mono cultured society that we can all live in, happily.

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