Tuesday, 20 November 2012

The world didn't end shock

Oh my goodness an election has taken place in England and Wales using a preferential voting system and the world didn't end :-O   North Ireland and Scotland already use preferential voting for many elections.

A little noticed outcome from the Police and Crime Commissioner elections is that in 8 contests the outcome was changed by the counting of supplementary votes.

In Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Humbershire, Lincolnshire, Norfol, Suffolk, Surrey and Warwickshire the candidate with the highest vote tally on the first round was defeated on the second.

The overall effect was that the Independents gained 5 more posts (4 from the Conservatives and 1 from Labour) while the Conservatives won 2 posts where Labour had been ahead.  Net result: Independents up 5, Cons down 2 Labour down 3.

The implications for the next set of elections (if there are any) are interesting.  In several places the contest for 2nd place was close and if someone else had finished second they may have stood a better chance of picking up transferred votes.
Will the success of Independents spawn more independent candidates next time ?  It might go either way but I suspect there will be fewer independent candidates, but they will be better organised and more likely to win. If there prefered candidate is eliminated, given a choice between a party candidate and and independent, in the current political climate and for these post most people choose an Indepent.

If that happens the political parties enthusiam for preferential voting might decline even more, but the public might start to like it and demand it for other elections.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Labours plan for jobs - a spoof surely ?

Below direct from the Labour Party Website is their plan for jobs.

1. A £2 billion tax on bank bonuses to fund a real jobs guarantee for all young people out of work for a year and build 25,000 more affordable homes.

2. Bringing forward long-term investment projects schools, roads and transport - to get people back to work and strengthen our economy for the future.

3. Reversing the Tory-led Government's damaging VAT rise now for a temporary period - a £450 boost for a couple with children - immediate help for our high streets and for struggling families and pensioners.

4. A one year cut in VAT to 5% on home improvements, repairs and maintenance - to help homeowners and small businesses.

5. A one year national insurance tax break for every small firm which takes on extra workers - helping small businesses to grow and create jobs.
So basically - three one off measures ! one shuffling of spending and a new tax which is with the economic margin of error of not existing.

1.  The Government spends around £630 billion a year.  Another £2 billion is not a change.  You might note that the Government is spending £125 Billion more each year than it gets in Taxes - so taxing bankers bonuses - while welcome will not solve the fundamental problem.  One wonders why Labour didn't tax the bankers bonuses when they Labour were in power ?  25,000 more affordable homes would be welcome, but it is really a drop in the ocean compared to the need for affordable housing. Labours record on providing affordable Housing 1997-2010 was appalling, the worst of any Government since 1906. 

2. 'bringing forward' means - no new expenditure. Just money earmarked for spending in 2018 might in theory be spent in 2016 or 2017 - but it won't be spent in 2018.  In practice the coaltion governement has already tried to

3. Does cutting VAT boost growth ?  It would certainly cost the Government a lot of money and it might make a few families feel slightly better off for a short while - but it's hardly investment for the future.   The 'rule' is VAT rises under Labour - sound budgetary management - VAT rises under the coaltion - bad budgetary management.

4. Oh my goodness - a one year cut in VAT for home improvements - what will they think of next ? Do I really have to criticise this for people to see how small scale this is.

5. More tinkering - I imagine that a few businesses might take on staff - but mostly - it will not be the National Insurance that prevents businesses taking on staff and a one off, one year cut is not much of an incentive.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012


Yay !  Obama wins. Hopefully it will lead to the Republicans moving away from the religious right and tea party extremism.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Morecombe and Wise

The Book Wot I Wrote - Eddie Braben ISBN 0 340 83373 4

Eddie Braben is best known as the writer for Morecombe and Wise during their most popular phase.

This book covers anecdotes from his life, tips on comedy writing, working with Eric and Ernie and more.

Braben came up with the role of 'play wright' for Ernie Wise and made him much more of a funny man than a just a feed to Eric Morecombe

The humour is slightly old fashioned (as Braden readily acknowledges) and often based on word play.

For people who like Morecombe and Wise this book will be both interesting and amusing. Braben also wrote for Ken Dodd and many other top comics.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Left Luggage

Left Luggage - From Marx to Wilson by C. Northcote Parkinson.  C.Northcote Parkinson, if he is known at all today, is remembered for his classic book Parkinsons Law - which ought to be compulsory reading for anyone involved in business, politics or running any organisation.

This is a great book by a great author.  Although it was written in 1967, almost all of it remains relevant today.   The only real air of nostalgia is the idea that Labour MPs believed in something called "socialism"

It is a swift and entertaining history of socialist thought - and highlights it flaws, failings and limitations. He is particularly effective in criticising Trade Unions, the co-operative movement more for what they don't do than what they do.

Parkinson is slightly less effective in defending Conservatism - you get the feeling he is too nice a person to be other than a paternalistic what used to be called a one nation tory or tory-wet.

One question puzzles, what does the C in his name refers to ? and did he prefer to be called Northcote ?

Localism what's gone wrong

Already the search is on for excuses for the low turnout for Police and Crime Commisisoners elections. 

The obvious answer is that the Police and Crime Commisioners are a joke - they have no real powers.  At a basic level most people understand that their vote with make little difference to who is elected let alone what happens after they are elected.

The Conservatives made a big fuss about "localism" but fundamentally many Conservatives don't believe in localism at all - which is why is has fallen so flat.

Local Councils can't even put up Council Tax.  they are told by the Government that Coucnil Tax will be frozen. 

Local Government Cabinet Minister Eric Pickles over rules Councils on planning decisions and issues edicts on everything from waste collection to council magazines.

So here's an alternative - One way to get turn-out up is to give powers to Local Government. Powers and Revenue raising ability.
Triple Coucnil Tax and withdraw the same amount in Central Governmemnt funding.  People will wake up to how much their council spends and what a warped funding system Council Tax is.   Stop over ruling local Council Planning Decisions - let the wind farms and new houses go to the areas that want them.   Areas that decide not to have them will end up facing the problems of expensive housing and high eneregy bills.

Friday, 2 November 2012


Trident - I just don't get it. I have never supported Trident - I never understood how anyone thought that the UK should have the right to plunge the world into a nuclear war.

Now years after the cold war has ended, the Conservatives are pressing on with plans to replace Trident. Why ?

A Conservative was on the radio explaining that we couldn't foresee the enemies the UK would face in 30-50 years and an independent nuclear capability was needed to act as a deterrent.  Top of the list is to deter terrorists and 'rogue states'. 

I wonder why it is that the USA, which has considerably more nuclear missiles than the UK was still unable to deter the terrorist attacks of 9/11 ?

UK nuclear missiles didn't deter Argentina from invading the Falklands.

Can we destroy a country, a region or perhaps the world because a rogue state uses a nuclear weapon ?
Replacing Trident will be spending money we can't afford on something we don't need.