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Reason why The Sun politics isn’t worth the paper it is written on #297 – Lib Dems to be reduced to just 7 MPs…

‘Sun poll: Lib Dem big guns face boot as MPs in meltdown at election’ booms out a headline in today’s edition of The Sun. A headline we have seen before but heck why not read it once more? Let’s have a look at the first few paragraphs:

THE Lib Dems will be almost wiped out at the next General Election — losing all but SEVEN of their current 57 MPs, a major poll predicts today.

The most high-profile casualty will be party leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

Other top guns getting the boot include Business Secretary Vince Cable, ex-Energy Secretary Chris Huhne and Treasury Chief Secretary Danny Alexander.

Ex-leaders Sir Menzies Campbell and Charles Kennedy will be axed too.

Wow. Bad times. However what I don’t like. Well when I say I don’t like what I really mean is what I can’t abide is the determination in the language. Ex-leaders Sir Menzies Campbell and Charles Kennedy will be axed too. Oh will they now? Is that gospel? The Sun can predict the future three years down the line with such determination and yet the writers are still working and not sunning themselves in the Seychelles following their 17th EuroMillions jackpot win on the spin.

We need to see who they surveyed though. So who did they survey?

The survey polled 1,524 voters in the 76 key seats being created when boundary changes come into effect — in areas where the Lib Dems have previously been strong.

So they have surveyed 20 people in each constituency. Now roughly 40,000 people or so on average vote in every General Election so they have surveyed – and let me ensure this statistic is right – they have surveyed 0.0005% of the electorate in these wards and are able to conclude definitively the future. Wow that is quite remarkable. Big ups to The Sun and YouGov for that. Imagine being able to predict the future. Dang I’m jealous.

Does it take into account local issues or just a uniform swing based across this survey? Yes it does – On a uniform swing, the Conservatives would take 21 of their seats and Labour will land 18. Surely one thing we noticed in 2010 was that uniform swings were not happening and local issues were all the more important but sod that – lets go for the baseless headline that suits our political bias.

We always talk about the media and political bias but it is true. Many many moons ago I was sitting in Wapping at The Sun HQ going for a job there and I didn’t get it due in large to the fact I wasn’t comfortable with their political bias. I made it clear I liked to go with the facts and not conjecture and boy that didn’t go down well at all. They are willing to stretch the truth as much as possible to fulfil their political remit.

They have their ‘political heroes and villains’ of the week and looking back no Lib Dem has ever been a hero of the week. They have been the villain on many an occasion though. Heck they’ve even gone after Paddy Ashdown saying the following, ‘While Lord Ashdown and his bishop friends sit in their ivory tower, hard-pressed families in the real world are desperately disappointed that fairness has been swept under the carpet.’ Does Paddy Ashdown really deserve such words? No he doesn’t. However The Sun will do anything they can to get at the Lib Dems because they believe that the death of the Lib Dems will lead tp a Tory government in 2015.

They also believe they if you say something enough times then people will eventually believe it. If they write the Lib Dems are finished enough then that’ll be it. The Lib Dems make no mistake are not in a great position up and down the country but they in nowhere near as bad a state as this hard-hitting 0.0005% of the electorate survey would make out. Will the Lib Dems lose seats in 2015? Quite probably. Will they go down to 7 MPs? Highly unlikely.

So there we have it. I find the report in The Sun desperately mis-leading but depressingly the more I get involved in politics the more I see people stretching the truth. On my desk I have several pieces of literature from across Southend-on-Sea and I can see several things that are at best stretches and at worst flat out lies. Sadly this is what a lot of politics is. It is hard to swim against the tide and be open and up front but that is all I can do. If I win on May 3 then fantastic but if I go down I know i’ll have gone down with integrity and honesty. Something that the staff on the politics desk at The Sun wouldn’t know if it came up to them and bit them in the bum.

Edit: Here in the YouGov blurb about this survey which proves I’m a moron apparently and shouldn’t question their right to speak of this survey as a fact based on a question no-one has to answer for three years.

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The Liberal Democrats weak on Civil Liberties? This is one slippery slope…

Not really sure how to return to normal blogging but when the Lib Dems are seemingly backing proposals to strip civil liberties on the internet and allow everything we do online to be monitored real time then I suppose that is as good a time and issue as any.

A briefing was sent out today and it consisted of 1480 words but here is an synopsis:

Paedophiles are bad.
Terrorists are bad.
Labour are worse than us.
There was once a crime that was solved because of internet snooping.

That pretty much sums it up.

Apparently no-one will be able to read the actual content of our text messages or listen to our mobile calls or Skype calls unless they get special permission to do so but as we all know the courts will give out permission for anything. How many cases are there of council’s up and down the country who snoop on parents to check if they are in the right catchment area for a school or whether they put recycling in the right bin etc…

This is just all part of a nanny state and one thing we are liberals believe vehemently in is that we stand up for civil liberties and we allow people to live their lives as freely as possible without big brother watching you as it were. Now we all know that terrorists and paedophiles are evil and we all know that we need to monitor their activities to both save countless lives and to stop the predatory instinct to save innocent lives from being blighted by the evils of sexual abuse. However just putting the terms ‘paedophiles’ or ‘terror’ into any type of legislation as justification is beyond palatable.

I can only hope that the Lib Dems in cabinet realise just how deeply abhorrent this may be. I hope that it is something the Conservative party has drawn up and the Lib Dems are fidgeting uneasily and they need reassurance from us the membership that this goes beyond what we can stand for.

If we aren’t entitled to a private life then what is the point of it all? I have nothing to hide from my internet surfing or my text messages or what I say on instant message programs but that isn’t the point. The point is I should be free to say what I want without the fear of someone getting hold of the data. There is no full-proof way to store data. None. If anyone says that there is then they are lying. All records on every single one of us can be got at by fraudsters or corrupt officials. Sadly that is just the way it is.

If these proposals make it to law then even I would question the point of the coalition. We went in to help save the economy from the collapse a minority government would have probably seen. However if we decide that eroding civil liberties and privacy is a price worth paying then you know what I’d question their liberal values. The Tories will not. I repeat the Tories will not make this a draw a line in the sand issue so there is no need whatsoever to go along with it.

Remember what you stand for Lib Dem MPs. If you don’t then you’ll find that your grassroot support that is slowly eroding with vanish in a Tsunami of members leaving the party. You could argue the students have it better now. You could argue the NHS needed restructuring but can you really argue that we all need to be spied on 24/7?

Bollocks you can.

I am sure this is something that has come up in Recess that is gathering speed because of the Recess. It might even have been dreamt up by Tories in an attempt to get the Lib Dems to commit suicide and they are sitting back watching our angst but just to be sure we need to very publicly say what we think. This is a no-goer on any level. End.

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60,500 People get tax cut in Southend-on-Sea thanks to the Lib Dems

I’ve just received the following communication regarding how much the Income Tax threshold will effect each area throughout the United Kingdom. Being based here in Southend-on-Sea I shall talk about this area in this e-mail. If you want other areas then please either leave me a comment or get in touch. No doubt the excel file will be floating around the sphere of the internet sooner rather than later.

So between 2010 and 2012 the Income Tax threshold has given 3,970 an Income Tax cut in the Southend region. In the tax year 2012-2013 that will increase to 5,870 but the move in the budget today to up the limit to £9,205 for April 2013 means that for the tax year 2013-2014 60,500 people in Southend-on-Sea will be affected and given an Income Tax cut. That is a staggering leap.

The amount of people who earn between £8,105 and £9,205 is clearly a large amount. These are people who work nearly full-time at the minimum wage. This change will put money back in the pockets of these people and that is something the Liberal Democrats have been committed to for a long time. This should be regarded as a very good thing for everyone and for 60,500 people in Southend their Income Tax Bill from 2014 will be roughly halved according to the Chancellor and that will put around £220 back into the pockets of these people and by 2014 it is hoped the threshold will rise to £10,000, which will effect even more people and put more people in a good situation with regards to Income Tax.

This is good news for people all over the country. Everyone earning 100,000 a year or less will get more money in their pocket as a result of this but it’ll be those on low incomes that will benefit most and that is a very good thing.

More money in the back pocket is never a bad thing and this move means that everyone will get that.

For the record as a whole – Essex will see 502,500 people given a cut in their Income Tax. Not too shabby if you ask me…

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Lib Dem Southend West PPC in 2010 reacts to the Budget

Peter Welch who stood as the Lib Dem Candidate for Southend West in 2010 has reacted to this afternoons budget. I’ll be putting my thoughts together later on or tomorrow but this is what Peter thinks…

“As the Prime Minister said at Prime Minister’s Questions today this is a Kaleidoscope budget. Parts of it were in Lib Dem gold and I particularly welcome those parts of the Budget.

“The most significant of these is the increase in tax threshold. It was a front-page commitment on the Liberal Democrat manifesto to raise the level at which people start paying tax to £10,000 a year. This budget moves the level at which people start paying tax to £9205 per annum. That is a massive step towards a Liberal Democrat priority – and means that thousands of people in Southend and South East Essex will be taken out income tax altogether. I’m delighted with this news – it will put money into the pockets of people who need, and will spend it in local businesses.

“Liberal Democrats also fought the election on a policy of moving to a simplified, single-tier, citizens’ pension, paying every pensioner at least £140 week by the end of this parliament (ie by 2015).The Budget opens the door for Liberal Democrat Pensions Minister to go ahead and do this. This will particularly benefit women older, and it is great news.

“But not everything in today’s announcements brings pleasure. The Government will still need to borrow £500 billion over the next five years. That is a figure that few of us can imagine – it is a simply collosal amount of borrowing.

But I am most concerned to hear that the Chancellor wants to increase airport capacity. If this is code for moving ahead with plans for a airport in the Estuary, then I will oppose it every step of the way.”

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Once upon a time in a land (not so far) away… – Why I’m still a member of the Lib Dems

Everywhere I look at the moment good Lib Dems are leaving the Party. They feel as though the Lib Dems aren’t what they once were. Once we were a peaceful tribe living off the land but giving back to the land. We’d plant seeds and nurture our seedlings until they blossomed into vegetation and then we’d eat it and we’d go again. We’d frolic gayly through the meadows wearing only leaves over our private parts and make love to fellow Lib Dems we’d meet. It was a beautiful time and we were happy. Then suddenly everything changed.

We left our peaceful retreat where gay love was as loved as homosexual love. Our island that we called home was not to be called home any more. We were offered the chance to leave the island of peace and love and go to the bigger island where we could help spread the word of peace and love. We thought our lives and our vision of the future should be shared. We had heard people talk about the new way – the liberal way not with scorn but with genuinely intrigue and a touch of excitement.

So we got on our ships and we sailed over to the bigger island. We expected to be welcomed with open arms. Sadly little did we know that the bigger island had two tribes and they were at war. One they called the Labour Party and the other they called the Conservative Party. We had heard whispers that the two tribes didn’t get along but we had only been invited over by the slightly bigger tribe. They knew they needed some support to dominate the island and had said they would listen to us and we could help govern.

The slightly smaller tribe then forgot about their long standing rivalry with the Conservative tribe. They had a new enemy to slay. The old ways of those two tribes being in total domination were over and they didn’t like it one bit. They decided that all members of the new tribe were to be slain. It didn’t matter who they were they had to go and the new tribe were at fault for everything that would happen from here on out until they were vanquished from the island.

The new peaceful tribe known as the Lib Dems were staggered by the vitriol that greeted them and many yearned to jump back on their ship and return to their world of peace and love and more importantly their liberal ideologies. Without them they were nothing and upon arrival on the new islands the bigger tribe immediately put them to the test.

The Lib Dem tribe had wanted free university education for all but on the bigger island the Labour tribe had taken their eyes off the financial sector and all the money was gone. Therefore university education could not be free because their wasn’t enough money for it. This went against the wishes of the Lib Dem tribe but they couldn’t go back because the future of the economy was on extremely dodgy ground and should the Lib Dems leave the island then the bigger island would collapse under the weight of no leadership and all the people on the bigger island would suffer.

This wasn’t in the philosophy of the Lib Dem tribe so they were forced to find a way forward. They decided that no-one has to pay up front for university but if they were successful and earned over £21k a year then they would start paying the money back. This was an increase from the £15k threshold that was currently in place. Sadly though the money students would have to pay back would be considerably more but again this would only be the case should they get good jobs and good wages.

It was a compromise that the people on the bigger island did not like. Not only that but the people in the lib Dem tribe were more than uneasy with the new tuition fees situation. They didn’t get what they wanted and didn’t get what they believed they stood for. Therefore they felt a mixture of shame and guilt believing they had sold their principles and what they stood for down the river. Once more they yearned for the old days where they didn’t have to make the hard decisions and could live in blissful ignorance knowing that reality and idealism did not have to meet.

The people of the bigger island grew to dislike the new dwellers and wanted them to go. They had heard of their ways and were interested to see them but now they saw them close-up they wanted them subjugated and driven off the island. They had a chance to let the newcomers know what they felt around a year later in what they called ‘the local elections’ and many of the newcomers were voted out of office at a local level. The public had spoken. They thought that the newcomers were evil and just propping up the larger tribe.

The newcomers were not liked by either the larger or the smaller of the two main tribes. One of them didn’t like not being able to do everything that they wanted and the other said they were making no effect on how the island was governed. Both tribes were steadfast in saying they were correct but the reality of the case was the two opinions were mutually exclusive. One tribes had to be wrong. As the new tribe had to be either doing nothing or doing something.

Then the larger tribe decided they needed to pick up the pace of reform. Ideologically they were fine with treating people who they perceived were not as not as them with disdain. However they knew that the smaller tribe they shared power with were not of that ilk. They decided they needed to reform how health was handled on the island. They had said they wouldn’t change a thing and people liked this. No-one wanted any change to the health system because they believed it to be the best in the world. The big boss of the world said it wasn’t but that wasn’t the best.

The big boss had been to all the islands and said that the island of the Labour and Conservative tribes had put together the 18th best health system around being France, Italy, San Marino, Andorra, Malta, Singapore, Spain, Oman, Austria, Japan, Norway, Portugal, Monaco, Greece, Iceland, Luxembourg and a place they called the Netherlands. It lay waste to the perceived notion of the greatness of the NHS as it was called locally.

Of course this didn’t mean the NHS wasn’t good. It was. It was one of the finest thing either of the two tribes had done in the past hundred years but maybe evolution was needed. The Lib Dem tribe looked uneasy and the tribe by this point were not speaking in one voice. There were two distinct voices and those voices were tearing away at the fabric of all they stood for. There were those that believed that evolution was needed and if they could have as much influence as possible then that would be a good thing. On the other hand there were those that thought you can’t mess with the NHS and the bill should be totally scraped.

Many within the tribe did not know which way to look. One half of the tribe was saying one thing and the other half were saying another. If you said you supported one side of the argument then you were perceived as evil by the other half of the tribe. As a tribe they had become like the other tribes – at war with each other and not a harmonised voice that could lead to effectual change.

Some within the tribe decided that they didn’t want to be a member of the tribe any more. They believed that they could never return to the days where liberal ideology united the tribe to a sustainable degree. They believed the leader of the tribe – one Nick Clegg – had betrayed them and moved them away from where they wanted to be in the political spectrum. Some even doubted his liberal credentials. They even said he was a Tory in Lib Dem clothing – repeating a line that the Labour tribe had long been shouting from the rooftops.

When Lib Dems are believing Labour over who or what their own leader stands for then it is clear that a problem has arisen. Divisions amongst the tribe was nothing new but whatever divisions these were they were underpinned by a sense of doing right and the liberal agenda. Some now believed this had given way to a lust for power and a lack of foresight. They believed that they alone could not make a substantial difference to national policy and therefore they didn’t want to be a part of the tribe any more.

They chose to walk away believing that the big picture was the only picture worth caring about. The majority remained though seeing that the big picture is also made up of many smaller pictures. At local level it was possible to make lives better for people. It would not be easy but many good people remained and these good people still believed in the liberal ideology and whilst local politics isn’t the same as national politics it still had the power to influence lives.

These people worked hard and still believed in the basic principles and ideology on which the tribe was first formed. They believed in helping those who needed help. They believed in people taking responsibility for their own lives and not be told what to think and how to act by others. They believed that the state should ensure everybody has the same basic level of education, health care, the right to feel safe, the opportunities to make more money and live in a society that rewards those who work hard but doesn’t necessarily penalise those who do not. They believed in caring for the ill, infirm and venerable. These people thought that they could help bring about a greener environment and provide more services and amenities for the local who relied on them. They believed that the people that needed the most help should receive it first and foremost.

These are the members of the tribe who have stayed behind. Those that have left the tribe haven’t changed their ideologies and nor have the party. The political party with always have the same anchor. The people who make up the party are the people that people see every day on the doorstep and in town halls up and down the land. If the tribes leadership has moved away from its grass-roots then that is another issue but this member of the tribe recanting this tale does not believe this is the case.

Being in power is difficult because ideology is put to the test in the real world. Being in power when their is an economic climate that is more unstable than it has been in a generation is not the best time to be in power. The economy is A1 – front and centre – of why this coalition was formed. The liberal ideology is alas second and it has to be. It can be talked about and progress can be made but this government first and foremost is about ensuring this economy not only grows but also diversifies instead of being largely dependent on one sector. That is the most important thing at the national level.

If we can prove to do that then the future of the tribe isn’t as bad as everyone believes. The members of the tribe have to face the question of how they want to be perceived. Do they want to be perceived as ineffective? Do they want to be perceived as grown-up? Do they want to be perceived as populist but ineffective? Or do they want to be perceived as a party who’ll put the country first?

They are the options and until everyone answers that then no unity will ever be found at a national level.

What is more important, the liberal ideology or the economy of the island? That was the question we faced in 2010 and that is still the question we face now – so what has changed for so many of the tribe to either think about taking a step-back or in fact take two step-backs only to jump off the island and attempt to swim back to the past?

Three years is a long long time in politics and we don’t always get our own way. This isn’t how we wanted it to be but this is how it is. We stepped in when the country needed us to form stable government. We did our duty whilst perhaps sacrificing some of what we hold dear but in the greater scheme of things had the country gone down the tank then everyone would be effected and to a far greater degree than the Tuition Fees Bill, the Welfare Reform Act and the NHS reorganisation.

We did the right thing then and we are doing the right thing now. We aren’t there to just prop up a Tory government but to help it govern. Liberal policies and ideologies are going through. Reform of the House of Lords, Marriage for same-sex couples, the Pupil Premium, the raising of the Income Tax threshold to take lower earners out of paying any Income Tax. We can point to things we are doing that is fundamental to our core beliefs. It might not be as much as we’d like but we are the smallest of the three main tribes so we can’t expect to have everything.

If we push forward our liberal agenda – even only by a few steps over the course of this parliament – and we stabilise and diversify the economy to ensure its growth for all the inhabitants of the island – not just the members of the tribes – then we’ll have done a pretty good job considering the circumstances that we found ourselves in following the collapse of the World’s economy.

The Liberal Democrats haven’t changed. The people haven’t changed. The leadership haven’t changed. The only change has been in the perception of the party by the masses and that is something we are going to have to work even harder to change.

It won’t be easy but the party still has a future at both the local and national level. I firmly believe that and I hope others do too.

If any of this has inspired you then you can Join the Liberal Democrat Party behind that link.

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I think Andrew Emmerson is on to something…

Just now across three social media platforms three different people within about two minutes of each other told me (well anyone who followed them on these platforms really – it wasn’t a direct message to me) that everyone should read Andrew Emmerson’s piece entitled It’s time I spoke out on the NHS: I’m angry, but probably not for reasons you’ve heard. I took their advice and if you haven’t read it yet it is part ranty and part factual – just like a good blog should be. It is worth a read.

I won’t rehash what he said in too much detail but the crux of the issue is he seems to be pissed off about the whole debate and how it isn’t based on the facts of the matter at hand but mostly the spin and myths being thrown about. The NHS is great but there are better Health Systems around. Care will still be – and always will be free at the point of contact with the patient and that private firms have long been involved in the NHS.

Now when it comes to the NHS Bill in full – like practically every person who has commented on it I haven’t read it in full. In all honesty I’m not qualified to know the in’s and out’s of every little detail and what it would mean for us – the general public but here is what I do know. Should this Bill be passed then the NHS wouldn’t die. The basic principles of it being free at the point of contact would remain and I think to be fair for most of us that is by far the most important thing.

He also states that we cannot have a serious debate about health in this country because of the hysteria behind the NHS. He’s right. I spoke about this last year with regards to Ken Clarke and his rape comments. You daren’t ever have a proper debate on that issue because we are trained to think only one way. There are certain issues where both politicians and the electorate are just happy to sail along and ignore because the art of having a proper debate has gone from politics. Politics as a whole is now largely based on who can scream the loudest and who can be the most populist. Sensible and legitimate debate has gone out of the window and I find that deeply distressing.

I can point to the furore over tuition fees last year. Most people didn’t understand the new bill because they had been swamped in myths about it. Yes the tuition fees changes were not the greatest moment for the Liberal Democrats but when you actually look past the myths, outright lies and spin you’ll actually see these basic changes:

*The fees (up to £9k a year) are not up front.
*You do not pay a single penny until you are earning over £21k a year.

So despite what people think. You don’t have to spend a penny up front. You won’t rock up to university and have to hand over a cheque to cover your fees. Also you don’t start paying this money until you are earning £21k or over a year which is up from £15k which is actually a huge leap. So now most people will not start paying money until their second or third year of full-time employment and if you never earn more than £21k then the money will be written off.

There are also various schemes to ensure that those from poorer backgrounds aren’t put off by this. The new tuition fees bill is actually not horrendous but hard to actually type that in this state of affairs because of all the lies and myths that have changed the viewpoints of the public.

This is one of the reasons I can’t abide politics. I want to live in a world where politicians speak the truth instead of spouting off the same lazy rhetoric based on what they think people want to hear and/or to enhance their own reputations and that of their party.

At the moment in politics it is easy for Labour. All they have to do to attack everything the Liberal Democrats do and sit back and enjoy watching the party suffer. They have very few policies of their own apart from a harsher Bankers Bonus Tax but apart from that I heard very little. They wanted to increase tuition fees too but that is overlooked and has been brushed under the carpet because the Lib Dems wanted to abolish them and weren’t able to.

Most people if they sit down and actually looked at the facts would see that the Liberal Democrats are a minority party in a coalition where the priority first and foremost is to stabilise the economy. The economy was on the brink of going down the pan and causing the deepest recession for two generations. Tuition fees and the NHS are vitally important issues but the economy is very much front and centre – and I think we all agree that at this current juncture so it should be.

As for how the economy is doing well the jury is very much still out but the credit agencies are happy and there are green shoots of recovery. There will be blips and there will be bumps in the road but if come 2015 the economy is really starting to hum along once more then we as a party can say that we have done the most important thing. We all care about many things but the most important thing will always be the economy and if we’ve helped deliver a stable government then we’ve done a darn good job no matter what anyone says.

The problem within the party as well as with the electorate is the uncertainty. The party activists aren’t used to having any power and when you have only a whiff of it and are unable to do everything then you feel like you are only going backwards. The public believed that the Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems were different but they aren’t used to coalition and think that Clegg and pals aren’t doing enough when in all honesty they are hamstrung by the economy.

If they rock the boat too much then the coalition collapses and the economy falters. If they don’t rock the boat enough then people believe they are just doing the Tories evil work. Talk about being stuck between a rock and a hard place. When you couple that with no real liberal media to get the word out to the masses then the Liberal Democrats look like a lame duck to be blown away by the two old war horses who can return to their world of two-party politics and enjoy it.

What needs to happen is for the public to see through the myths that are created for self-serving politicians and media outlets. It has been a long time since I took anything I saw in the written media as gospel. I have more respect for the broadcast media. However newspapers always have their own biases and ways of getting their story out there. I was turned down for a job at The Sun many moons ago because I was a liberal and wouldn’t tow the line with regards to their political biases.

If people were in possession of all the raw facts and then made up their own mind on the issues then I would be a very happy man. Whether they agreed with the Lib Dems or not I wouldn’t worry too much, just having them making up their own minds on the issues is all you can ask for.

Sadly the current state of affairs means that facts are not important. Myths and propaganda are still vastly superior to the nuts and bolts of an issue. One day this will change. I hope it is soon because the great people of this nation deserve the freedom and more importantly the ease of seeing the subjects for what they are. At the moment alas it is hard to separate the lies, the myths and the propaganda for the truths.

That is the old way of politics. Hopefully one day the new ways will actually become dominant. For this to happen though both politicians and the media have to change and that is something I fear will not happen without a fight…

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Today is Bankers Bonus Day at the Lloyds Banking Group. Are all bankers evil? Discuss…

As some of you may know bankers bonuses has become the most important buzzword in politics. It is tantamount to political suicide to even think about defending the bankers let alone actually say it out loud. Well folks unsurprisingly I’m not one to follow the rules and actually have a brain of my own so lets look at what this actually means and what will happen next.

The Lloyds Banking Group is 41% owned by us – the people. HM Treasury holds that stake in the company which is well known on the British High Street with LLoyds TSB, Halifax and the Bank of Scotland being part of the company. So we have a very real reason to scrutinise what they do.

We have no issues with the bonus culture in other industries but then I suppose we don’t have a financial stake in them so that parallel in unwarranted. So the big question is what do we the public get for in-part paying these people vast sums of money.

Well the bonus culture is here to stay in banking. The UK government cannot stop bonuses in privately held firms and banks based overseas. These companies will still pay top dollar with huge bonuses should they reach set targets so no point fretting over the bonus culture at large. Bonuses are not evil. Many of us have bonuses written into our work related contracts reliant on our good work and/or good profits for the company as a whole. So I think it would be wrong to say that bonuses themselves are an evil product.

The question is whether bankers earn their bonuses. I’m going to tell you a shocking revelation now that neither any politician nor anyone in the media wants you to know. This is a trade secret that is out there but is kept away from the public. Are you ready for it…?

Not all bankers are evil.

I know. Shocking huh but that is actually the truth of the matter. There is another big secret out there. Are you ready for this one…?

Not every banker was involved in bad banking practices that led to the financial difficulties that we are in.

I know. Crazy. We have been led to believe that they all live in their ivory towers using £50 notes as toilet paper laughing at all of us using regular toilet paper but no, that actually isn’t 100% accurate.

Are bankers bonuses too high? Probably but they are dictated by market forces. Is Manchester City offering Robin van Persie a reported £210k per week obscene? Yes but market forces dictate that he is worth that much. Employees are worth whatever an employer is willing to pay them.

Is a new iPhone worth £499? That depends but people are willing to pay them at that price so that is why Apple chooses to market them at that figure. If they believed they would get as many sales at £599 or £699 or £799 then they would sell them at those prices. The whole economy is driven by market forces.

So lets go back to the Lloyds Banking Group. Today I know people will hand in their notice at the group. They will have seen that their pay packets are not brimming half as much as they were. They will move on to pastures new because the UK banking industry – certainly the banks that are part owned by HM Treasury have slashed the bonus pot. It has been obliterated in all honesty. These people will be able to get far more money elsewhere and leave.

Now I know most people will be yelling ‘why should we care?’ but the truth of the matter is really rather simple. If there is success in the UK Banking sector then we all benefit. If these banks are profitable then we make money. Also the more successful they are the higher the share price and the easier they are to sell on and move them out of public ownership again.

For example I have been told of a man whose department made £40million last year for the Treasury. He led the department into a far better place through good management and his good work has meant that we the taxpayer benefit to the tune of £40million. Seems like he’s done a pretty darn good job then for all of us. His reward? To lose 90% of his pay compared to a year ago. So for making us tonnes of money we are penalising him in his pocket. This has nothing to do with a Bankers Bonus Tax but to do with just slashing his money.

As a whole one large section of the group will have more than doubled its profits in the past year. They are in a far better financial situation than they have been for years. They are generating large profits and income for the government and for this the whole bonus pot has been slashed by just over 75%. So for doing a far better job they’ll be getting paid a whole lot less.

That doesn’t seem like a great bit of business to me.

The problem is the most talented individuals who do it right and generate the wealth for HM Treasury will move on to pastures new where they can get paid what they feel they deserve. If yu are making £40million then you’ll feel you are entitled to a £1million bonus for example. Is that better or worse for HM Treasury than generating £20million of income and getting £100k as a bonus Well lets look at the math.

£40million – £1million = £39million revenue for HM Treasury.

£20million – £100k = £19.9million revenue for HM Treasury.

Yes. Just as I thought. It pays to have the best people as they will generate enough income for them to get the top bonuses. The top people will go where the money is. I think we can all agree that is fair and is just like how we all do it. If you or I was offered more money to do the same job somewhere else we’d probably take it. Nothing wrong with that so the bankers will do the same.

The problem with this is by doing so it will mean that the top people will not be working in the UK Banking industry. This means that less money is made by these companies therefore they’ll pay in less tax to HM Treasury. They’ll be employing less qualified staff who’ll be earning less so will be taxed on their income less and in turn spend less in the economy. As for the banks that we hold shares in they’ll be making less profits and be less commercially attractive to potential buyers and investors going forward because I think we can all agree that the best people will make the most money and generate the best profits for a company.

The problem with the banking industry was two-fold. They got too cocky and took their eye off the ball as they were so unregulated that people could take stupid risks and that people were rewarded for doing a bad job. Bonuses should be a reward for doing a good job.

The first point has been fixed as banks around the globe have got their act together. Banks now have far more liquidity than they did before. This is why Lehman Brothers went down. It wasn’t because it was a poorly run business but because all of their assets were tied up in medium and long term ventures. These days banks have those liquid assets to hand. Risks are taken less frequently because they are monitored much more closely and the bad practices of the early part of the last decade have been consigned to the dustbin.

Do we really want to be lazy and tar al bankers with the same brush? Is that what we do nowadays? We get an idea implanted in our minds and use that scapegoat even when it isn’t reasonable to do so?

Yes there is no doubt that some banks and some bankers made some pretty bad decisions that led to a global recession. However not all banks and not all bankers were part of that so why should they be penalised and bad mouthed for the sins of others?

If you had a son or a daughter who was a thief would that in turn made you a thief and should you face the same ridicule? If your son or daughter had to wear an electronic tag and had to abide by a curfew for being a thief should you have to do it as well because you are related to them?

The simple answer is no.

We are all individuals and should be treated as such.

This goes for bankers just as it does you or I. If Banker A gets a bigger bonus than Banker B but generates more profits then that seems fine to me. As long as people aren’t rewarded for doing a bad job then surely we should all be ok with it?

Bashing the bankers is safe political ground at the moment because we love a scapegoat. Sadly the second scapegoat are immigrants which makes my blood boil. Yet again as a whole we like to tar everyone with the same brush and people have turned on these people because they need a scapegoat.

Don’t punish people for the sins of others. To me that is simple basic etiquette and how it should be.

One day I hope we can have an honest debate about everything but sadly in the political world we live in that isn’t possible at this juncture. This is one thing I wish that we could change. For today though I’ll continue to write my thoughts down for the handful of people who’ll get around to reading them.

My dream is to live in a world where we get all the facts and can have an honest debate on how to interpret them and not just think how we are told. That is how I feel sometimes as to the world we live in is not that. Politicians and the media will drive home a story and use it to enhance their own ends and not report it how it is meant to be. This to me is a sad sad situation…

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Prejudices. We all have them. Why don’t we just admit to it?

Being accused of being prejudiced is something that most of us would be immensely insulted over. However if we are being honest with ourselves we would realise that we are all prejudiced to some level. Take me for example. I know that I am prejudiced against Southampton Football Club. They could do the exact same thing as Portsmouth Football Club but I would look at it differently no matter what logic says.

I am prejudiced towards ginger-haired women. The most gorgeous girl I have ever seen was a brunette but overall I will always look at a ginger-haired woman differently. If there were two identical twins at a bar and one had died her hair blonde away from her natural gingerness then my eyes would gravitate towards the ginger. In the same scenario if there were two identical twins at a bar (this is assuming that I’d be in a bar – I know – crazy talk) but lets just say I was, if I was there and two identical twins were there one rocking a nice dress and one rocking some sort of PVC/Latex number then I’d see the two women differently. Without knowing them I’d automatically like one more than the other on initial viewing.

It would be foolish to think I was alone on this front. Every day we make decisions and impressions on people for various reasons without any real reason behind it. Everyone has always told me that I would go nowhere in life because I’m not a suit and tie man. I can be exactly the same person in an interview wearing jogging bottoms and a t-shirt as I am wearing a suit and a tie. I can give exactly the same answers to exactly the same questions but the interviewers will have a dfferent opinion on me.

The dictionary tells me thus:

Prejudice is feelings formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought, or reason, any preconceived opinion or feeling, either favorable or unfavourable.

So it can be both positive and negative.

I bring this up for two reasons. One last night whilst watching Around The Horn and Pardon The Interruption the six journalists across the two shows discussed Floyd Mayweather’s comments regarding Jeremy Lin. If you don’t know the story or the people involved Floyd Mayweather is the undefeated boxer who keeps punking out of fighting Filipino fighter Manny Pacquiao and has thrown many racial slurs at said Asian fighter. Jeremy Lin is the Point Guard of the New York Knicks who has come from nowhere to dominate the sports news over in America and his rise has been dubbed ‘Lansanity’ by the media.

Floyd Mayweather tweeted this on Monday:

Jeremy Lin is a good player but all the hype is because he’s Asian. Black players do what he does every night and don’t get the same praise.

This tweet became the headline story on both shows and was a headline story across the Sports Media yesterday. Out of the six journalists on the two shows three were white and three were black. Michael Smith (black) spoke first and told Mayweather he was wrong, that no-one had done what Lin had done in the history of the NBA (which is true, he has scored more points than anyone in his first five starts ever) and that the story is so big because a) it’s in Nw York, b) it’s the Knicks, c) because he went to an Ivy League School, d) because he is sleeping on a team mates couch and e) because of his race. I happen to agree with Michael Smith. I think he nailed it. The fact that he is Asian is part of the story but it isn’t why the story is so huge.

Next up Kevin Blackistone (black) disagreed completely. He said Floyd Mayweather is right and that the story is only big because of Lin’s race. He said that there are many black players around doing what he is doing (which is factually incorrect as no-one has ever done what Lin has done) and that they don’t get the praise that they deserve before citing black players who aren’t well known doing good things. Blackistone has always defended Mayweather on the Pacquiao issue as well so I knew that Blackistone would defend Mayweather again.

Bill Plaschke and Tim Cowlishaw (both white) backed up what Michael Smith said and Cowlishaw made the great remark that Lin’s race was a percentage of the story but that Blackistone believed it was a large part of the story and the other three thought it was very small. Michael Smith said that was spot on.

Next up on PTI the two most famous and loved talking heads on the American Sports Journalism scene. Tony Kornheiser (white) and Michael Wilbon (black). They are both first rate and I like them both a lot so I was very interested to see what they would have to say. Wilbon spoke first and he called Mayweather a Bigot. They agreed that black players get praised all the time and get paid handsomely in the NBA so to say that they don’t and this kid is is total nonsense. Can’t agree more. When you talk about the greats you start with Michael Jordan and go from there. Most names on that list will be black athletes.

That seems a lot of waffle but here is my point. I knew Kevin Blackistone would defend what Mayweather said because he has always had that fierce defence of any black athlete in any racial situation. The other two black journalists saw it the same as the others that the reason the story is so huge is because of the back story (Harvard, cut from two NBA teams, was playing in the D-League, sleeping on a team mates couch, is in New York) but mistly because he has come in and led the Knicks to five straight wins and he’s lighting it up. In sports one thing I have learned is if you perform you’ll get the praise whether you are black or white or green or purple. No-one cares but if you do well people will cheer for you.

So I would argue that Kevin Blackistone is prejudiced towards black people. Nothing wrong with that per se because his life has influenced him and all the issues he faced as a young black man growing up in America in the 60s and 70s no doubt made him who he is today. Now here is where I bring it back to politics.

A couple of weeks ago now Chris Huhne left the government. He was replaced by a white middle class man in Edward Davey and that cried derision from the blogosphere. It showed that we aren’t diverse enough and that the only way forward is to be a white middle class man. If you aren’t that then your career hopes and dreams would be a struggle. These calls have mostly come from older people who have fought through barriers and problems their whole life.

Being from outside the white male middle class family and wanting to break into business or politics was a real barrier 20 or 30 years ago. Things are by no means perfect these days but those walls are coming down. I don’t think anyone would seriously argue that it is just as hard today to succeed in those chosen career paths for women or for people of ethnic backgrounds compared to how it was a couple of generations ago. Steps are being made to make it a completely level playing field.

However this cannot happen overnight. You can’t just magically wave a wand and 50% of politicians are white and 50% are not. You can’t just wave that same magic wand and suddenly 50% of MPs are men and 50% are not. So the question is what more can be done and should we introduce positive discrimination to help this out?

Would promoting the person who is not best suited for the role in the mind of the employer be right or fair? Would it be the best thing for the country? I remember being in a job where I saw someone get promoted who wasn’t right for the job and it brought the morale f the whole company down dramatically. People knew they were dealing with someone who wasn’t qualified for the task at hand and that whole department pretty much went in the tank.

Now I’m not saying for one minute that Jo Swinson, Lynne Featherstone, Tessa Munt, Jenny Willott et al were not qualified for the role but what I am saying is in the employers opinion the most suited person happened to be a white middle class male. Should he be passed over because he was born a male and to two white parents? Would that be right? Would that fit in with our ‘everybody is equal’ opinion? No it wouldn’t. It would be wrong and would be discriminatory towards someone based on their race and gender. That to me isn’t what the Liberal Democrats are all about.

What does this all have to do with prejudices I hear you mind cry? (if you have read this piece for that long anyway) and this is how it all ties neatly in a bow. People who have lamented the fact that Edward Davey was promoted to cabinet are mostly people that have rallied and seen prejudices for their whole life. They have seen it so much that even when there is none they still see it. Just like Kevin Blackistone did regarding Floyd Mayweather and Jeremy Lin.

We are all influenced by what has gone on in our lives. That is only natural and that is the way it will always be. I have suffered relatively little prejudice in my life and therefore I often speak without any chips on my shoulder and any scars to bear. Some people who have scars to bear and a significant life time of fighting against prejudice whether it be because of their ethnic background, their gender, their supposed ‘class’ or whatever will always have that with them.

I have not heard one peep out of any of the Lib Dem female MPs to say that they believed they were overlooked because their productive organs are on the inside and not on the outside. They might feel it but I haven’t got that sense. It just seems to me that a lot of people are seeing something that isn’t really there and that is causing more heartache than it really should.

I was at a local Lib Dem meeting the other day and one person spent the whole meeting talking about gay and lesbian issues. He is gay and has felt prejudice because of that. So that is his biggest issue that he wants to help sort out and that is fine. We are all influenced and all our actions are related to our past. That is just how it is. We are all influenced and/or prejudiced about many many things and the sooner we accept that then we can try and move on and try to see things for how they really are and not because of how we think they are.

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The Daily Mail says the Lib Dems are writing the budget. They seem upset. Good times.

‘No reprieve for the middle classes in ‘Lib Dem Budget’ after Osborne refuses to change plan to cut child benefit payments’ booms out the Daily Mail this morning. That has certainly given me reason to be optimistic for the week ahead. Delving further into the story the Lib Dems are seemingly mounting a charge against the upper middle classes to fund tax breaks for the less well off. So robbing from the rich to give to the poor. The party are like modern day Robin Hood’s. This hasn’t gone down well with the people who have commented on the article but more of that later.

The Lib Dems want to slash tax relief on pensions on those earning a six figure salary or more from 40p to 20p in the pound. This was apparently raise £3.7bn for the treasury. Sounds like a good idea to me. Count me in. They also want new green taxes that will increase the rate that we’ll see everyone taken out of Income Tax until they have earned over £10k in a financial year. This seems good. Also the plans on striping child benefit payments for those who are earning in the 40p tax bracket. Not nice but not a disaster either. Also seems that there will be no movement on marriage tax allowance which has been one of David Cameron’s big things. Seems like the Lib Dems aren’t budging on that one.

So basically according to the report which I shall link to here the Lib Dems are punching above their weight and moving the coalition away from Tory heartland to a more liberal outlook. Are the party after two years of finding their feet and finding their voice starting to find their power and have learned how to wield it?

It certainly seems that way. If this report is accurate then it will be a good budget for those who need it most. Whilst it might not exactly be robbing the rich to give to the poor it will be the better off helping out the poor and isn’t that what Mr Harry Potter Daniel Radcliffe bleated about last week when he disaffected from the Lib Dems? He just showed that things in politics take time and you can’t change everything overnight – certainly not when you are a minority party in a coalition.

Lets see what the Daily Mail readers think. These are real comments from real readers and at the time of posting are the most green arrowed.

Cameron you make us sick you hammer us for being married and yet you preach about the family and couples staying married, what incentive do you give? Well we remain married, struggling and sick of the society you seem fit to create and mismanage. You need to get out along with all the other people that do not belong and drain this country of it’s life. You are giving this country away.

You’ve now lost my vote and I suspect, many more. UKIP next for me.

We cannot go on like this Dave

I always thought the Tories were for family values, well if you take things away from a married family what is the point in joining together?

Could someone please remind me. WHO is the Prime minister of this god forsaken country??????????????

The end is nigh, both of marriage and the family. Society is falling apart and the PR stuntman and his idiot Chancellor are too dim to realise.

Another broken promise from the liar Cameron. All his broken promises will be remembered at the next election. He must hold the record for the largest number of broken promises, second must be Nick Clegg. Add the two together and go have the biggest pair of promises breakers in history.

As a Conservative voter of many years standing, never have I felt so betrayed and ashamed by a Conservative Government that has abandoned all the principles it purported to have before the election. Cameron seems happy to use the LibDems as a ‘shield’ to hide behind whenever he reneges on his promises, blaming them rather than himself – a convenient tactic for a coward. Osbourne showed early promise but has now decided that his position within the Government is more important to him than his principles. My own sitting Conservative MP has shown a (now too common) trait within the Tory party of backtracking on statements or principles that they proudly spoke of BEFORE the election. Never has there been such a blatant case of the tail wagging the dog; in this case, we have a Shih Tzu puppy wagging away like mad, whilst what I believed was a Bulldog just whimpers on the floor. Pathetic.

Seems like Middle England aren’t a fan of helping out those well off when it might affect them. No surprise there really. I just wish and hope that the electorate can see that at a national level the Lib Dems are actually not just propping up a Tory government but actually making a difference. If they do then the death of the party might well have been exaggerated.

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Sunny Handal wrote ‘Why we need more banker bashing’ – Simple answer. We don’t.

Whilst perusing The Guardian earlier I came across an article entitled Why we need more banker bashing and knew that I’d get annoyed if I read it. So I read it. I got annoyed. Sometimes I am my own worst enemy I really am.

So anyway the link is there for all to see but the long and short of it is this. Banking reform has been pretty weak and shouldn’t we have more say in how these private companies work? We’ll look at banking reform first and the Vickers Report and recommendations are to be carried out with one or two measures watered down. This includes the proposal that the biggest UK banks should have enough capital plus loans that could be converted into cash to cope with losses equal to one fifth of the size of their total balance sheet.

The reason this is not being carried out is for some firms this would be unfair due to their trading outside the UK economy being dwarfed by that inside. For example HSBC is a global giant with it’s revenue inside the UK being but a small part of its global balance sheet.

Late last year I sat down with a very senior banker for an interview where we explored all the issues regarding banking in the UK and around the Globe. The banks have clearly had to change and evolve over the past five years and all of them have far more liquidity now than they did then. The issues of the past were that they didn’t have cash to hand in a crisis. Now they do. Most (if not all) banks are now in a better financial situation today than they were when the banking crisis hit but the credit ratings do not meet up with this as they take into account the public perception and not just the facts.

As fr whether we (you and me and/or the governments of the world) should have more say in how they are run well that’s an interesting question. Did we need more say in them when they were bringing in vast sums of money into the economy or it is only when they screw up do we need to step in? I know not all companies and industries are made equal but do the government need to step into any struggling industry and tell them how to run it? Are the government more or less qualified to know how to run the banking industry than those – you know – in the banking industry?

I doubt that somehow. The Vickers Report will change banking and will put strains on the whole sector in the name of safeguarding taxpayers money. This will be seen by us – the taxpayer – as a good thing and by the banking sector as a very bad thing. However they will plough forward. They will make less money and bring in less money to the economy but should in theory be a safer investment. We’ll see how that goes.

In his summing up Sunny Handal writes the following. ‘Public anger has grown because it is starting to dawn on middle England that while the rest of us are paying for the crisis, the people who caused the crash want to go back to 2007’. This I have to disagree with. The reason public anger has turned on bankers in because the government and the media have decided that they are the scapegoats for this and deserve to be punished. The Daily Mail and other groups blame the foreigners too and they have been the other scapegoated party. The British way is to always find someone to blame for everything and then blame them totally. The banking crisis was a mixture of issues of which the bankers must take some of the blame but not all of it and by repeatedly bashing them all we are doing is undermining them and hindering our chances at recovery.

Here are a few comments from the piece which sum everything up for me as to how the British public have been hoodwinked and deceived by the media and the politicians (looking at you Ed Miliband) to believing that the Bankers are the sole reason we are in these tough times:

It has become obvious in recent years that the bankers are utterly and unapologetically evil.

Britain needs bankers as much as I need a malignant Tumour

Nice article Sunny. Nailed the bastards. And now for the apologists.

What can you do? What can you say? People really think this. Luckily a comment a few down made me think that there are some in this world who actually know enough to form their own opinions:

Haven’t we got bored of this scapegoat already? Sunny’s argument’s about no changes to banks are plain wrong – they are now over-regulated with contradictory rules being brought in by different regimes – and his analysis ignores reality (not least of which how much the government of the 2000s encouraged the build-up of property-based debt).

Whoever you are ‘chaz1’ I like you and no – it wasn’t me.

The bankers and their industry were part of the problem however they are also a huge part of the solution. Just bashing them non-stop won’t change that. If all the bankers got up and left London for foreign shores overnight the economy would nose-dive into a thoroughly deep and prolonged recession. That is just how it is but of course that doesn’t fit in with the rhetoric that the media and Labour are driving. Labour have to take some responsibility for letting the banks go unregulated throughout the boom times but they have washed their hands of this. They say it is all the bankers fault and until we thrash them to within an inch of their lives then not enough has been done.

It is a shame we all need scapegoats and can’t just bo honest with each other and fix the mess without the bad blood. Sadly that would be all too easy and straightforward. It makes me sad that people will use this for political gain – just like everything else…

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