The Rambles of Neil Monnery

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Archive for the ‘labour’ tag

Lib Dems set to be part of coalition to run Southend Council

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Losing seats and gaining power. It reminds me of the 2010 General Election. The Lib Dems lost four seats whilst only holding one last week as the voters spectacularly said they weren’t enamoured with the party. Yet according to reports in the local rag (and lets be honest logic) they will form a rainbow coalition with Labour and the Independents to run Southend Council for the next twelve months.

I wrote earlier this week that the voters had voted positively for Labour and UKIP and whilst the Tories lost seven seats, they still got the most votes across the town and therefore these parties would represent the views of the voters of Southend to the best degree. Still doing a deal involving these parties was always going to be problematic due to the clear ideological differences between the Tories and Labour and the inexperience and relative unknowns of the new UKIP councillors. I fully acknowledge this but felt it would sum up the views of the voters.

So the Independents, Labour and the Lib Dems altogether. On paper it can clearly work but mathematically it gives them a majority of just one and this is where I have little faith. I don’t feel any Labour members nor Lib Dem members would walk away from their parties but the independents are meant to be just that – independent – and as such have a variety of different politics across their group.

Keeping that band of twelve together without one of them deciding that enough is enough and they remove themselves from the group (like Dr. Vel did) will take some doing. A majority of one is precarious at the best of times but when it is a three-way coalition with one of the three being a band of independents with views across the political spectrum from socialist through liberal to right-wing Tories. If they stay together through the budget then huge kudos.

The electoral maths were really not helpful and this might be the best option available. I honestly don’t know. If the three run the council well over the next year then it will be a huge fillip and will help them politically. For the Lib Dems they do not face up to the independents nor Labour in any obvious target seat in 2015, so if the council does good work then seats such as Blenheim Park, Prittlewell and maybe even St. Laurence will be back into play. For the independents and Labour, both parties play more in the east of the borough where they face up against the Tories in most places and UKIP in one of two. Good governance will help them and with Cllr. Ian Gilbert’s run to win a seat in Westminster as well.

If this deal does go ahead as reported then Cllr. Woodley would become leader and the three parties (well two parties and one group) will have a year to pretty much make or break their political ambitions in Southend for the next few years. If they do well and stop the seawall, stop the closures of care homes as well as restoring paid staff to all libraries then I have little doubt they’ll be popular. If they are unable to find the money for the latter two then it will be tough.

The UKIP leader feels that his party and councillors have been unjustly shutout of any potential coalition and they may have a point but that’s politics. Had UKIP had won one more seat (probably Victoria) then they would be in a much better position due to that bone that I bang one about – electoral maths. Had the Tories won Leigh from the Lib Dems then the same could be said. Still the maths and makeup of the chamber are what they are and UKIP could be shutout by this proposed coalition. I wonder if they regret their pact with the independent group now?

Still here we are. It looks like the Tories are going to sit on the sidelines for a year and it is over to the Independents, Labour and the Lib Dems to show that they can run the town better than the Tories did. I hope that they can because if they don’t then it is very possible that UKIP will be the kingmakers next year and personally I would prefer this not to happen.

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May 29th, 2014 at 11:05 am

It is time for Labour to step up and put Southend above politics

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Oh maths, electoral maths, it has been a while since we have met but the future of Southend is up for grabs and it is time to turn to you to work out what is feasible. The Tories went down big on Thursday night and unsurprisingly lost the majority in the Civic Centre. So the big question is now, ‘who will run Southend Council?’ and the realistic possibilities bring about a rather unlikely coalition.

The composition of the chamber is as follow with the number to yet a majority at 26:

19 Conservative
12 Independent Group
9 Labour
5 Liberal Democrat
1 Independent Independent (yes that is as funny as it sounds)

So the easiest answer is the Tories do a deal with the independent group. 31 seats. Simple. End of blog. But wait there are two issues at play here, John Lamb has already stated that he won’t work with ‘some independents’ and also that loose UKIP/Independent alliance that meant they didn’t challenge each other in any seat across Southend, does that alliance go as far as becoming a package deal in coalition talks? To answer that then the leaders would need to speak but both have hilariously denied there was any form of alliance and it just happened to be coincidence that they didn’t stand against each other, yeah and its a coincidence that women run away from me when I start talking about my care bear collection that live on the headboard of my bed, get real people.

So lets for now say that a Tory/Indy deal is problematic.

Next up is the juicy one and if we are being 100% non-partisan then what would make the most sense for the people of Southend – a Tory/Labour coalition. This results in 28 seats of the 51 and would provide the stability that Southend needs at this point when budget squeezes are making budgets harder and harder to put together. Of course there is one huge problem and that is Labour would not want to go into coalition with the Tories politically nor philosophically.

I suspect the Tories would do the deal as they are rather pragmatic and know that a two party coalition is more likely to hold together than any potential three-way. Labour though would have to stop throwing rocks at the council and would have to deal with the real issues of power and taking the tough decisions is a difficult climate for local councils, are they ready for that?

The local rag on the front page yesterday said that an Independent, Labour and Lib Dem three-way was the most likely outcome. That would be tough to do. I firmly believe that the voters of Southend spectacularly rejected the Liberal Democrats last Thursday and therefore they should not be part of any ruling coalition on principle unless there really was no alternative. Also Labour have been more vitriolic towards the Lib Dems than any other party and working with them would be at best an uneasy truce and I’m not sure the Lib Dem five would back Ron Woodley as leader of any coalition considering we’ve abstained on this issue before (note to Lib Dem councillors – abstaining is weak).

I think the Lib Dems are out of this and this of course depends on whether this Indy/UKIP alliance goes forward beyond last Thursday. If it does then an Independent, Labour, UKIP coalition would achieve the same goal mathematically. We can pretty much take it as fact that the Independent group would work with UKIP and those parties could gain control of the chamber if Labour follow them.

The Tories and the Lib Dems do not have enough seats to form a deal on that front, even with Dr. Vel and would need in all likelihood the Thorpe three to go with them. It doesn’t seem practical and nor would it be right that the two parties that were rejected by the electorate form a coalition.

There are only two coalitions that make sense mathematically and would seemingly form a cohesive group of councillors who could lead Southend and both involve the Labour party. One is a straight up coalition with the Tories and the second is a coalition with the Independent Group and UKIP.

So it is time for the nine Labour councillors to decide whether they are prepared to put politics aside for the good of Southend or whether politics comes first. If they want a better Southend then it is time for them to step up and form one of these two coalitions. If they decide that they would rather sit on the side in opposition and throw rocks at whoever leads the council then it would be disappointing and disheartening, albeit not surprising that they put ideology and politics first and the betterment of the people of Southend second.

I implore Cllr. Ian Gilbert and his team of councillors to do one of the two deals above. Swallow your pride and work with either the Tories or the Indy/UKIP alliance and put Southend first. If you don’t then the door is wide open for the independent group and UKIP to gain enough to win an outright majority in 2015 and that is something that I personally would not like to see.

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May 27th, 2014 at 1:47 pm

Mr Mark Steel – A perfect example of why Labour can never win a grown-up debate

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Ah Mr Mark Steel. A voice against Capitalism and a voice against the system. Allegedly a comedian but I support if Michael McIntyre can call himself a comedian then anyone can these days. I think it is fair to say that Mark Steel is a Labour man and it has heavily influenced his life. I have no problem with that, we are all shaped by our upbringings and our political ideologies. Some from all parties believe in everything they do and disparage anyone who disagrees wit them. This always galls me as I like to think there is something to be learned from so many views.

Why am I writing about this today?

Well the ‘funny man’ has written a piece in the Independent entitled If his 2015 manifesto is going to feature a load of pledges he can’t stick to, shouldn’t Nick Clegg at least have some fun with it? with the sub-title, If it’s grown-up to ignore what you said to get elected, why have a campaign at all?

It is exactly what you think it is, a poorly thought-out piece saying that because the Lib Dems didn’t win a majority in the House of Commons at the last General Election then they basically should have told the Tories to stuff it and allow the economy to funk for a few months whilst we had a second General Election where the Tories would have won a majority. That is what he thinks would have been the best way to deal with the issues of the summer of 2010. It is a shame that yet another person fails to understand what the basic ethos of a coalition is but there are plenty of those about, so he’s in fine company.

I remember the same ‘comic’ on panel shows such as Have I Got News For You? and Mock The Week deriding the Lib Dems in the build up to the 2010 General Election as a waste of space, because quite simply they couldn’t win and couldn’t see any of their policies implemented. David Mitchell is one that really resonates in the memory banks, going on about how considerate it was to have the Lib Dem party conferences before the Tory and Labour ones so all the political hacks could have a warm-up before the important ones. Oh my sides split.

Well a strange thing happened on the way to being irrelevant. The Lib Dems became relevant and boy did it piss off a lot of people. Not solely because they became relevant but because they sided with the Tories over Labour in terms of a coalition. Not to mention the fact that the election maths made a Labour coalition impossible, meaning only a rainbow alliance could have had the MPs to hold a majority and imagine that, Labour, Lib Dems, SNP, DUP, Plaid Cymru, SDLP, Green etc… – could these guys really all sit around a table and form a stable government? I think the chances of that are similar to those of me ever getting laid – PS: if you don’t know me then I can assure you, the odds of me ever getting laid are long, very long.

Also the country had voted for more Conservative MPs than any other party, surely this meant they deserved to run the country? They didn’t win the election outright but they were closer to the winners post than any other party. The financial situation at the time of the election meant that confidence and supply for an emergency budget wasn’t really a goer and a stable coalition had to be formed. The Tories and the Lib Dems were the unlikely bed fellows. Did that sit well with me? No, of course it didn’t but I could see that stable government was needed and this was the best route forward.

I can see why many voters were unhappy about this. A significant proportion of the Lib Dem vote wasn’t really a Lib Dem vote, but an anti-Tory vote. In vast areas it is a two-horse race and Labour voters lent their vote hoping to keep the Tories out of office. The fact the Lib Dems then went into coalition with the Tories meant they felt betrayed. This is just a pitfall of our election system that we could have changed but the country decided they didn’t want it to be changed. Sod fairer votes as it might favour the Lib Dems. Now of course many people are slowly figuring out that FPTP is going to screw UKIP and they are outraged again but I digress.

Could Nick Clegg have handled certain things better? Of course he could. Sadly though we don’t have a Stargate or a Quantum Mirror to go into a parallel universe and see how things would’ve shaken out had Clegg not had taken the Lib Dems into a coalition. However to turn around and say that he could write whatever he wanted in the 2015 Lib Dem manifesto because he didn’t see through his 2010 manifesto is just a fallacy, one linked to the authors lack of grasp of basic coalition politics. Not just coalition politics, but coalition politics with a very junior partner.

If Labour had gone into a coalition with the Lib Dems and benched some of their manifesto then would they be a bunch of liars as well? Yeah I wonder what he’d say to that…

However what really gets my goat about his piece isn’t the bollocks he’s spewing about how pointless the Lib Dem manifesto is, comedians have been doing that for years in various guises believing that a third party was easy prey for laughs. The fact the irrelevant party became a party of government just meant they had to find other ways to deride the party. That is ok. That is fair game in comedy apparently. Who cares about accuracy when you can get cheap laughs, oh look my trousers have fallen down, I need stitches in my sides it is so funny.

No what really gets my goat is the final paragraph and a bit and how out of touch and lazy it is:

To have any chance at the next election, even of saving his own seat in Sheffield, he’ll need to go much much further than that.

So instead of wasting effort compiling more promises, his one chance of saving his seat in Sheffield might be a collaboration with local heroes the Arctic Monkeys, in which he sings: “Oh what a scummy man, you can see it in my eyes yeah that I’ve got a nasty plan, I’d go into coalition with the bloody Taliban for a place in the cabinet. And you’ve seen me with Osborne and Hague, there ain’t no promise on which I won’t renege, students do better to vote for the plague ‘cos I’m a scumbag don’t you know.”

First of all, does Mark Steel really think that Nick Clegg is going to lose his own seat in Sheffield Hallam? I mean really? I know it’s cool to say he’ll lose his seat but there is absolutely no evidence to say that it is on the cards. He has a stonking majority, the party still does well locally and in 2012, which is probably fair to say will be the lowest point of the Lib Dems locally in this government, the party still pulled in 39% of the vote with Labour 16% behind in second place. In the five seats in the constituency, they all stayed solidly Lib Dem in 2012 and in a key by-election in 2013, when Labour and the Tories really attacked, the Lib Dems cruised home by 1,400 votes.

Now I know Mr Mark Steel loves his rhetoric and thinks that his view is the right view but at some point he’ll have to understand that wanting something to be true isn’t going to make it true. That isn’t how it works in the grown-up world. When it comes to politics, so much is child like and it depresses me but the most child like are the Labour party. They believe in polling data unless it isn’t favourable to them. When there is positive polling data they then use it like a blanket over the whole country to predict what will happen, neglecting the nuances of local politics, region by region, county by county, city by city, constituency by constituency, ward by ward, polling district by polling district.

So Mr Mark Steel, live in your own mind and hope against all hope that what you want will one day happen and you’ll wake up in a socialist state. It may well happen, well actually it won’t because the country doesn’t want socialism and in the past half a century the only Labour General Election wins have been when the party has moved away from the extreme left to the centre-left/centre but who cares about facts. When you live in Mr Mark Steel’s world then you can believe whatever you want to believe and if facts get in the way then the best way to deal with them is to ignore them. Who wants facts anyway?

This is a prime example of why I treat the Labour party with distain at the moment. They cry about the Lib Dems not being grown-up, when in fact it is them who are playing adolescent politics. This comes from a guy whose upbringing was very much in the ‘Anyone but the Tories’ mould but as it stands they are at least acting like a grown-up party, not just the MPs and councillors but also the memberships. My politics are centrist but if I had to lean left or right of centre then it would be left, however with the way the Labour party are acting at the moment I just couldn’t see myself supporting them.

Until the Labour party stop trying to play politics and start seeing politics as a serious business then I struggle to take them seriously. We all have ideologies but sometimes real world issues have to come above ideologies. For example if a 45p tax rate rakes in the most revenue for higher band earners then so be it. Proposing a 50p tax band that will bring in less money is just ideological claptrap designed to sound good and gain support whereas the finances say it’s a bad move.

I’m 30 and I like to think I’m relatively grown-up and that is how I act and that is how I like my politics. Until Labour acts grown-up then for me I think that maybe the best thing for the country in 2015 would be another Tory/Lib Dem coalition and lets be honest, there is no way I saw myself typing that three and a half years ago but Labour have just been so poor as an opposition and so lightweight on the economy that I’m not sure I trust them as much as I do the Tories and boy that is a scary thought.

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January 31st, 2014 at 12:23 am

Posted in Politics

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A Labour councillor wants ‘fairness’ but can’t understand what exactly is fair.

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I do love it when councillors open up blog posts talking about my love life. It is kinda sweet isn’t it? Well that is exactly what Labour Cllr. Ware-Lane did today on his blog post Giving into greed? I’d prefer fairness which was his response to my letter to the Echo regarding the tax cut for the higher rate of tax payers that occurred. I knew he would respond in kind and still miss the point. This is why I at times dislike politics and politicians because they are so stuck in their ideological ways that they won’t actually see the big picture.

I say this primarily because of the following line from Cllr. Ware-Lane’s blog:

For me it is “from each according to their ability”. If this means that some millionaires’ loyalty to the UK is bounded by their unwillingness to pay their share then to them I say good riddance to bad rubbish.

Good riddance to bad rubbish. Yep those people who were putting in large sums of money to the public purse. Yeah we don’t want them. I’m sure he can walk around his Milton ward speaking to residents and telling them that it doesn’t matter that Children’s Centres are closing and Libraries are under threat etc… because the money that could keep these things open would be bad money and we don’t want that.

You see my whole point was simple. Yes those with broader shoulders should bear the largest loud. We agree. However I also know that money into the public purse is kinda the point of tax. So why have a tax system that brings in less revenue when instead we could have a tax system that brings in the highest revenue possible from those paying the highest tax rate? Myself and the councillor in question have debated this before and we just don’t agree. He prefers less money for public services as long as the rich get taxed harsher. For me this is a dumb position and not what I’d expect of a Labour councillor and a man who wants to be my MP.

One further line I want to highlight:

Are Liberal Democrats now abandoning the pretence of doing what is right in favour of what generates the most income?

First of all I don’t speak for all Liberal Democrats. I’m but a mere member of the party. This though perfectly demonstrates why I think Labour are a shambles at the moment and why despite my upbringing I am a Lib Dem and not a Labour member. The ‘pretence’ of doing the right thing. The right thing is finding the right balance that generates the highest income possible. That is simple and straightforward. Whatever that number is then I’m all for it. I’d prefer more millionaires to pay in less if overall it leads to more revenue being generated. The ‘right thing’ isn’t just to flog the rich for being rich.

Until Cllr. Ware-Lane (or anyone else for that matter) can find a way to stop people from relocating from the UK to Monaco, Switzerland or any other country with a more preferable tax situation than the UK then people are free to leave the country and not pay tax here.

Personally I’m all for public services. At least we now know that Cllr. Ware-Lane is not unless the money comes from people he deems to be the right people. He prefers less money for public services as long as the richest people individually pay more even though as a group they in fact pay less.

As for ‘good riddance to bad rubbish’ oh pur-lease. ‘Oh so you don’t want to pay our 50p tax rate well sod you – we didn’t want your money anyway. We’ll have to cut public services for example close a children’s centre but at least we know that ideologically we didn’t want your money anyway.’ I’m sure people on the bread line and those who rely on public services would stand up and applaud such a stance. Oh wait. No they wouldn’t.

To sum up, Cllr. Ware-Lane has showed me exactly why I at this point in time I think Labour are the least grown up of all the three main political parties in Westminster (and lets be honest – considering the way the Tories deal with issues such as Europe that is saying something). We all have our ideologies. That is what makes us but ideology doesn’t always work well in the real world and at some point we have to be realistic instead of Utopian. The 50p tax rate was not working in terms of getting the richest to share the largest load because many of them just left the country and therefore paid in nothing. This left those in the 50p tax rate sharing the load but they couldn’t share the load as well as all the people that were sharing the load when the tax rate was at 40p.

He wants fairness. He wants those who earn the most to pay the most. We all want that but the problem is these people have a choice – just like we all do – however of course it is easier for richer people to up sticks and move. I’ll end with this analogy that he might understand (or he might not – his whole concept of basic economics seems pretty out there) but 6,000 people holding up larger weights cannot hold up as much weights as 16,000 holding up smaller weights. Fairness is about seeing the amount of money these people can put into the system as a group and not seeing them as individuals. That is the mistake he (and others) make and that is why I get so disillusioned when people go on about how the tax cut from 50p to 45p is a reason why there is less money for the public purse.

That quite simply is not true.

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July 5th, 2013 at 6:07 pm

Attention Politicians: Where is your leadership?

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When did we get to the point where the seemingly marginalised viewpoints of society stopped being so out there? Over the past few years as the economic downturn has gripped the country, people have looked for someone to blame and the easiest people to blame are those who are different. So politicians are easy to blame but the problem with that is of course someone has to govern so whoever gets voted in will be a politician. Bankers have seen blame laid at their feet but yet again bankers aren’t going away any time soon so the problem has been who can people blame who they can a) get rid of and b) don’t understand.

Step forward religion and foreigners.

The term, ‘I’m not racist but…’ has become a bit of a running gag, albeit not very funny. People say this with a completely straight face. The people that are saying it are not the people that you would generally look at and think they are racist either. However a spectre of what I won’t call hate, but will call intolerance now hangs over far more people than I’ve ever known in my 29 years on this Earth and that spectre is becoming an ever bigger presence in society.

My problem is working out where this has come from? It must have come from somewhere and looking around the most obvious parts of society I can point my finger at and believe they are the reason is the media and politicians. The media will always tap into whatever the mood of the nation is and then play up to it. If the nation are happy then the media will be happy. If the nation has a sense of unease then the media will portray that and start to feed off it. If we are being told constantly about bad things people are doing then it will seep into the public’s consciousness and I believe this is what has happened.

Look at the media coverage yesterday. It was by a person who seemingly was a Muslim. Now was he described first of all as a terrorist or was he first of all classed as a Muslim? You bet it was the latter and not the former. Whilst so many bleat that the English Defence League do not speak for us we must understand that just because people do terrorist attacks are of one faith, they do not speak for an entire religion. When the IRA where blowing things up left, right and centre did they speak for all Catholicism? I’m pretty sure they didn’t.

We though as a nation are far more scared of the unknown than we ever have been before. In this modern age where people can interact with anyone, at any time, people get disturbed. If you are on a tube and two people are speaking to one another in a foreign tongue then instead of being calm and ignoring it, more than ever people are worried because they don’t understand and there we get it the crux of the issue. People in general are far more afraid of what they don’t understand than ever before and we have to ask ourselves, ‘why is that?’

However I want to point a very stern finger at politicians because I see a distinct lack of leadership. In all honesty the last person who displayed leadership qualities was Tony Blair. Like it or not he led this country. Ever since politicians have been too scared to truly stand for what they believe in. As a friend put it to me last night, ‘they pander to the lowest common denominator’ and he was right. Politicians are afraid to say what they really think in case the most vocal of critics attack them. This needs to stop.

I would love to see David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband at a joint Press Conference where they said that intolerance would not be accepted. We live in a multi-cultural society and I love that. Great Britain isn’t just for those who were born here, it is for people who want to live and work here. Should people not be allowed to move from place to place to live with different people, different cultures, experience a different way of life? Should we go back to the day of ‘If you were born in Essex then you’ll live and die in Essex’ and so on? I certainly do not believe so. No-one owns the Earth or any country therein and people should be free to move around.

As we all know though this isn’t the way the tide is going. People think there is always someplace greener and those greener pastures might be to leave the European Union. Some want to leave the European Human Rights Act and have a British Bill of Human Rights instead. My fear though is what if we do this and still things are no better then who do people blame? Do they blame themselves for pushing this through or do they find another scapegoat? What if we started turning on all blondes? Would that be accepted in society the way that intolerance towards people of foreign backgrounds and different religions seemingly are?

The crux is no matter how hard David Cameron wants to bang on about fixing our broken society – the more he says this then the more people will look for where the cracks and the problems are. It is a bit like saying how terrible the economy is, the more you say it the more people will believe it. Society is not perfect. We all know this. However society is not perfect throughout the globe and there are bad people all over the world doing bad things every day. This isn’t just confined to us in the UK, it is a far larger problem than that and one that has to be addressed through education for the next generations coming through.

No matter what our differences are we all bleed when we are cut. We are all but one race – the human race. We all broadly want the same things for our loved ones and for society as a whole but the problems are some believe there are short-cuts and scapegoats to why we don’t all have what we would like.

Immigration is not a problem to the degree that people believe it is. People can live with people of different religious backgrounds. Not all people who are different are our enemies. The vast majority of people who practise the Christian faith are good people. The vast majority of those who follow Islam are good people. The vast majority of those who are Jews are good people and so on and so forth. Being different isn’t a reason to be scared of someone.

Our leaders need to step up to the plate here and now and stop this going forward. Do not pander down to the most vocal in an attempt to win votes. Stand for what you truly believe in. If you stand together and say that this type of intolerance will not be accepted then you’ll start drawing a line in the sand. This whole situation has meandered on for far too long. People can have different views on anything but still not persecute one another. Until such a time where this is the strong and constant viewpoint from our politicians (and in turn our media) then I fear the culture of intolerance will only grow and slowly shatter any illusions we have that we are a progressive society.

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May 23rd, 2013 at 10:43 am

Theresa May tells the world that she thinks all human life isn’t equal – and Labour agree

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My blood is boiling folks. There is one thing that I hold dear and that is that we are all created equal. One human life is of the same value as the next. So if I get murdered the person who killed me should get the same sentence as if they killed anyone else in exactly the same way. Now of course not all murders are equal, some are premeditated, some involve sexual crimes, some include torture before killing their victims but if I am killed in exactly the same way as another person then I’d expect sentencing to be the same.


Theresa May today outlined new proposals that will mean any police officer or prison officer slain would see the perpetrator given mandatory whole life sentences. This is because we ask them to put themselves in harms way to ensure that society are safe. However last I saw Army, Navy and Royal Air Force personnel did exactly the same. What about the coastguard who risk their lives to safe others? What about the Fire Brigade? Are we seriously saying that one section of society deserve more retribution than others?

What about when police officers kill members of the general public? Do these people deserve less time in jail and the opportunity of being free one day? Isn’t that kinda mad?

I am not a ‘lock ‘em up and throw away the key’ person. In fact I am quite the opposite. I believe there is a better way to deal with criminals but when it comes to serious crimes such as murder and rape then prison very much has its place. However mandatory life terms for a crime against one section of society to me seems wholly wrong and only goes to show that we are not all equal. All crimes are not equal. That is why we have judges who have leeway to use their judgement to decide on how long a guilty person should spend inside. Mitigating circumstances have to be taken into account.

This policy seems to me to smell strongly of the Home Secretary trying to get the police back onside and trying to sound strong on crime. That is what everyone seems to want. Labour have welcomed this policy and I don’t know what the Liberal Democrats think but I’d be disappointed if they are happy to say that one persons life is worth more than another’s. It goes against our very principles of equality.

Should people that kill police officers and prison officers face heavy sentences? Darn tootin’ they do but you know what – so does anyone who takes another human life deliberately. Whether that person is a police officer, a member of our armed forces, a teacher, a student, a homeless person or whoever. Taking another human life is a despicable act but you won’t convince me that killing one person is less reprehensible than killing another.

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Written by neilmonnery

May 15th, 2013 at 12:48 pm

Posted in Politics

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Why shouldn’t UKIP get a voice at any PM TV Debate?

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Local election campaigns are in full swing across the country (although not here in Southend-on-Sea) and there is only one story that seems to be coming out. This story isn’t about whether Labour will make gains against the Tories. The story isn’t about whether the Lib Dems will stop the hemorrhaging of votes/councillors. The story isn’t about whether the austerity will hurt the Tories. The only story I keep reading about is the surge of the UK Independence Party and what this means for the future.

I must admit my gut feeling is that UKIP will be like a fast burning love affair. They will burn oh so bright but they will not burn for a long time. The fact of the matter is there are a significant number of people who don’t like nor trust politicians. The whole expenses scandal has left politicians looking up at journalists in the respected by stakes, which is not a good place to be. Heck divorce lawyers are more respected than politicians at the moment. UKIP are promising a breath of fresh air and to put Great Britain first and not to kowtow to Brussels and the EU. It isn’t like the UKIP leader has taken (to 2009) around £2million in tax payers money from the EU in expenses. Oh wait…

They are basically scratching the itch of those who are disenchanted with modern politics. They are different they say. The system is crooked they say. Nigel Farage has seen a stronger eye on his party in recent days as it has come out that they have struggled to vet their candidates. Some of them seem to be less than desirable and certainly not the type of people you’d want in any position of power. The main issue is a lot of people vote for the party and not the candidate so if you don’t vet properly then you may find you have councillors representing the party who don’t truly reflect the views of the party.

The UKIP leader is not happy with all of this, ‘Have you met the cretins we have in Westminster? Do you think we can be worse than that?’ exclaims the 49 year-old. On one hand he has a point that all parties have the odd person who deep down you aren’t sure truly reflects the parties values and you get a sense they aren’t being their true self. When it comes to UKIP though who knows?

However this blog isn’t about that. It is about the talk over the possibility of more PM TV Debates in 2015. Stories in the press over the weekend have linked Labour to the Tories in wanting to keep out UKIP. Remember Labour do not want the Lib Dems in because they formed a coalition with the Tories so think any Lib Dem leader should share a platform with the Tories and Labour’s deputies because that is as high as they could ever be. Gotta love Labour’s stance on that. So in Labour’s eyes any debate would be two-way between them and the Tories. The Tories are happy for three-way with the Lib Dems also involved. We don’t know the Lib Dem view as yet.

My view though is extremely simplistic. If a party is putting up enough candidates to form a government then their leader should be invited to join the other leaders in these debates. The SNP, Plaid Cymru, the Green Party and others were unhappy about being left out last time but none of them were fielding enough candidates to form a government and their leader could never be Prime Minister so their place in any ‘Prime Ministerial Debate’ did seem relatively pointless. The likelihood though is that UKIP will be putting up enough candidates across the country and in the interest of democracy they deserve the to share that platform in my eyes.

We saw last time that Nick Clegg’s profile rose dramatically throughout the process last year and at one point, in one Sunday poll the Lib Dems actually led. As we all know though that extra exposure translated to over a million more votes but actually fewer MPs. It also led to far more scrutiny in the right-wing media as they went to town on the Lib Dems and on Nick Clegg in particular. This worked to some degree and should Nigel Farage and his party get the same exposure they would be subject to the same level of scrutiny.

My feelings on UKIP are pretty clear but I also believe in fairness and equality (good liberal traits there) and if UKIP are in a position where they could feasibility (no matter how unlikely) form a government if everything went right for them on polling day in 2015 then they deserve the right to share that platform. It is up to the other parties and particularly their leaders to show UKIP for what they are and to get the public to vote for them and not Nigel Farage’s lot.

The thing is we all know that the moment UKIP get any power (either at local or national level) the public will quickly realise what they have done. At a local level voting UKIP will not change anything to do with the EU or tax rates or immigration which is basically what UKIP are all about. So a vote for UKIP locally on Thursday is basically saying, ‘we hate them all and even though they can’t follow through with their primary objectives in local governments we’ll vote for them as a symbol of our anger towards national issues.’ When it comes to national issues though their rhetoric of being anti-EU and anti-foreigners is actually something they could act on.

UKIP are unlikely to ever have a Prime Minister, they are unlikely to ever be in a position to form a coalition but as they say – you never know. UKIP’s core support is with the older generation – a YouGov poll in February found that only 15% of UKIP support comes from those under 40 – the fact is the older generation are more likely to vote.

For me I don’t see UKIP as a viable party and are just a protest against the status quo and the current financial climate. The moment the economy pulls itself out of its funk and the countries finances are balanced then the need for a protest party will dissipate. This will happen but it won’t happen before 2015. So let UKIP play with the established parties and give them the opportunities that they deserve. I just hope they shoot themselves in the foot when they are under a serious national spotlight. It is easy to protest when their are few repercussions but when it comes to a General Election protests are harder because actions (and votes) have consequences.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or contact me directly via the E-Mail Me link on the Right Hand Nav. You can stay in touch with the blog following me on Twitter or by liking the blog on Facebook. Please share this content via the Social Media links below if you think anyone else would enjoy reading.

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Written by neilmonnery

April 30th, 2013 at 12:56 pm

Posted in Politics

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This ‘mummy tax’ and lumping it in with a ‘tax cut for millionaires’ – you what Labour?

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Tax. We don’t like tax. We do like public services. The two of them go hand-in-hand so to get public services we pay tax. That is just the way of the world. Most of us have reconciled with that but then of course the debate is about who pays what and what do they pay for?

Well today the following image show up in my Facebook feed…

mummy tax

‘Mummy Tax?’

’340,000 New mums to lose £180 thanks to David Cameron’s Mummy Tax’

Mummy Tax. Are you (expletive) kidding me? Just calling anything that just screams political spin of the likes Shane Warne would deliver should he ever turn over his arm in the political arena. The message along with the photo was thus, ‘David Cameron is prioritising a massive tax cut for millionaires over new mums and hard working families.’ So it is essentially a dig at the 45p tax rate for higher earners. However what the ‘Mummy Tax’ actually is hasn’t been explained on this image or the text provided but we’ll get to that later.

One thing I do know is that under this government (which isn’t Labour) the amount a person can earn tax free will have risen to £10,000 a year. This according to the people who do the math (or maths if you are one of those who don’t like the american terminology – I just think ‘do the math’ scans better) means that people will save £705 a year on tax. Now as far as I’m aware £705 is more than £180 but I am happy to concede that we are talking about two very different things.

Now this ‘Mummy Tax’ is of course related to the benefits freeze at 1% instead of inline with inflation. This new image or the text to go with it actually doesn’t explain that at all. I just Googled ‘Mummy Tax’ and a few notes popped up including that Labour had dubbed this part of the budget as that. Nice slogan. The ‘Bedroom Tax’ worked well for Labour but the ‘Mummy Tax’ if it stuck would be an absolute winner. The issue is it hasn’t stuck as yet but they are trying.

In an article on Sky News about it single mum-to-be Helen Mockridge had a pretty clear suggestion for a better way to reduce the deficit and I think this is what Labour are trying to get people to think.

“Taxing really rich people, obviously, that’s where the money should come from.

“For me it’s a real no-brainer and it makes me really angry that certain parts of society are very, very wealthy and the gap between rich and poor is getting bigger.

“That’s where the money should be coming from, not from single mothers or the disabled or any other vulnerable group.”

It is a viewpoint that a lot of people have but let us look at the realities of the situation. I’ll use myself as an example.

If I was ‘really rich’ then if I was going to get taxed to high heaven to help reduce the deficit then I wouldn’t live in the UK – and you know what – neither would you. If I was super rich and they put up the tax rate to beyond 50% then I’d look at it and think ‘really is living in the UK really worth paying x amount of millions extra in tax?’ and I know exactly what I’d say. See this is the problem with having a higher tax band at a vast level.

Most ‘Really rich’ people are happy to pay a fair amount but the moment they believe they are being unjustly targeted then they will up sticks and leave. When that happens they pay no tax to the UK government and no tax is not going to help with the debt. I remember a local Labour councillor telling me that he preferred the government collecting less taxation as long as the rich really got screwed as it was an ideological matter and not actually about the money collected. I couldn’t disagree more.

Tax is about money and about everyone paying a fair amount towards public services. The issue about these ‘really rich’ people is most of them have a choice about whether to live in the UK or not. So the government has to decide at what level will they get more of these people to live in the country and generate the most income. It is a balance and it isn’t easy. The best level for the higher rate tax band is whatever percentage generates the most income. The more the higher band collects then the less is needed from the lower bands. It seems like pretty straightforward economic sense to me.

So to lump the ‘tax cut for millionaires’ aka the reduction in the higher rate of Income Tax to 45% from 50% in with the Labour dubbed ‘Mummy Tax’ and say essentially that the government are getting the money from New Mums that they aren’t getting from millionaires is a lie. If the math (I did it again) is right then 340,000 (New Mums) x £180 is £61.2million a year saved by the government. Are the ‘really rich’ people contributing more than £61.2million to the government’s coffers? I think they are.

In PMQs when this first came about these were the figures the PM went with, At the 50p tax rate there were 6,000 people paying tax raising £6.7bn in taxes. The previous year when the 40p tax rate was in place 16,000 people were paying on that tax rate and they brought in £13.7bn in tax revenue for the Treasury. So more people paying less actually led to £7bn more money being raised.

This has been long and rambly (like most of my posts) but really linking the cap in benefits to the tax cut for millionaires is just bollocks. Also dubbing the benefits freeze at 1% as the ‘Mummy Tax’ just makes me want to vomit. If the reduction of the 50p tax rate to 45p brings in more money than at 50p then what will Labour say? All they can say is either ‘well played government, you’ve done a good job there’ or ‘we don’t care – tax the rich bastards as much as possible even if it means less money – we only care about making it clear we hate the rich,’ they can only go one of those two ways.

We shall see as they say but I’m pretty sure I know which they will go. Labour’s front bench doesn’t scream out, ‘we want to deal with the financial issues in the best way possible’ and instead you always get the sense their attitude is, ‘what can we do to make it seem like the Tories love the rich and hate the poor and in turn make us more electable?’

Head. Desk. Bang.

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Written by neilmonnery

April 18th, 2013 at 1:02 pm

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An open letter to all on immigration – hint – immigration is good.

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Dear All,

Immigration is one of the biggest issues facing our country today. Not because it actually is but more because that is what the media is telling us. Ten years ago immigration was a footnote when questioning the public about what they wanted the government to sort out. These days it has become a bigger talking point on the doorstep than everything bar the economy. Yes even the NHS and Education are less of a talking point than immigration. So why the sea change?

Basically the economy has gone down the tubes and someone has to be to blame and it can’t all be the bankers fault, can it? We have gone from one of the most tolerant societies to one that openly talks about immigration in a bad light. The media whip up a firestorm with stories such as the benefits cheats who get to live in mansions at the tax payers expense but the stories about the hard working people who come over here, pay taxes and enrich our culturally diverse society don’t seem to get as many inches in the written media for some reason?

If I’m awake in time I often leave BBC1 on in the mornings (because Homer Under The Hammer is fantastic) and there is a show called ‘Saints & Scroungers) and practically every single scrounger is a foreign national who shouldn’t be living here. Am I to believe that these people account for more benefits being illegally received than born and bred Brits? Yeah. Right…

The argument I often hear is, ‘well I was born and bred here and they weren’t so why should my taxes pay for their benefits.’ On the face of it a fair point of view but when you dig deeper they don’t just chastise those who don’t work and claim benefits, they chastise those who have jobs as well because they are doing jobs that born and bred Brits could do. I ask them what they think about Brits moving abroad and they don’t have a problem with it. So Brits moving abroad and working is fine but others coming to the UK and doing the same isn’t. I bash my head against a brick wall sometimes.

Angry voices are swelling about immigration and you hear that people want the government of the day – whoever they are – to be tough on immigration. One of my main issues is the loudest voices want the government of the day to be tough on everything. Being tough is the way forward they say but it isn’t however a political party can never be shown to be anything other than tough otherwise they’ll be torn apart in the media. Being tough on crime is one of the main ones and yet locking everyone up and throwing away the key doesn’t actually solve all the problems. The penal system isn’t just about punishment but also about rehabilitation but you can’t say that out loud without sounding soft in the eyes of many.

This leads me to the immigration issue. The country and the economy will prosper if we are open for business. That means foreign companies investing in the UK and it also means skilled nationals from other countries coming here and working. It also means foreign nationals coming to the UK to learn and get educated.

On a society front I hear people argue that they feel more uneasy being around foreigners instead of UK nationals. Personally I have never felt this is the case. It is akin to people saying that foreigners are more criminal than people in this country and that just doesn’t wash with me. We are all human beings when it comes down to it and yes there are bad people in this country who are not helping our economy or society but you know what – the majority of those people are British. Should we tolerant these people and persecute the others just because they were born here? Does being born somewhere give you the right to be treated differently to another person when that is the only difference between the way you are acting? I think not.

The reason I am discussing this today is simple. Nick Clegg spoke today on this issue and the headline is about looking into the feasibility of visitors from certain countries having to pay a bond that they would collect on their way out of the UK once their visa was up. It is a pretty dumb policy in my opinion but they are just looking into it, just like the previous Labour government did twice and the coalition has already looked into. If civil servants think it is feasible then a pilot will be run.

Now that is the headline that was on the news and is in all the online editions of the written media. It doesn’t come across well but the speech wasn’t just about that. A very interesting part was about exit checks and the way they had been scaled down by the previous government. To me it just seems logical that you count and check people in and then check them on the way out as well. Isn’t that just good practice so you know who is where?

I have no issue with being ‘zero-tolerant on abuse’ as long as it doesn’t impinge on those who are wanting to do things legally and would benefit the economy and our society. I know Nick wants to sound tough on immigration and wants to be at the forefront of the debate but the issue now isn’t about actual immigration – it is about how to differentiate between all the main political parties on this issue. They all want to sound tougher and more outraged than the next party whereas in reality the best practical solution would be to sort out the management of the system and ensuring that we know who is here, for what purpose and for how long. If we know that then that is the majority of the battle won. The way I see it our biggest problem isn’t the amount of people who are here but that we don’t know who is here.

Whilst immigration is an issue – as I said earlier it is seen as such a large issue because those with the loudest voices have dictated it to be so. UKIP, the Tories and Labour all want to be seen as the hardest and toughest on immigration and that will play well with many. However there is plenty of room for a sane and reasonable approach to immigration and that is where I hope Nick and the Lib Dems go. If a political party could say (and more important achieve) a situation where they could effectively manage immigration to the point where the country was open to anyone with the skillset that was deemed needed and that students on education visas were free to come and study but with the important caveat that when their visas ended they had to either leave or apply again for either an extended or a different visa then that would be music to my – and a lot of other people’s ears.

Politicians need to remember that the loudest voices are not always the majority of voices. If you can put yourself in a position where the more reasoned voter could believe you could deliver something that made sense then you have a chance with these people. Not everyone votes on the strength of what the media tells them. In fact the truth is most vote based on their own opinions. Not everyone is extreme in their views on immigration so I’d like to see a political party talk to these people – and I for one would like that political party to be the Liberal Democrats.

Immigration is not bad. Uncontrolled immigration might be but the whole issue of immigration is a good thing for all countries around the globe. Finding a way to ensure our doors are flung wide open to the right people is far more important than ensuring the wrong people are finding a way in but we need a balance. If we can find a way to manage immigration – both the good and the bad – then we’ll be going someway to building a better society and economy. The biggest story in Nick’s speech wasn’t the bond issue but the fact we are building up our network of exit checks that the party has been calling for since 2004. Once we have a handle of who is where and who hasn’t left when they should have then we can start effectively managing the whole immigration system. It was a Labour mistake but it is one the Lib Dems are helping to fix.

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Written by neilmonnery

March 22nd, 2013 at 2:42 pm

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Can Maria Hutchings turn this all around and pull off a sensational Eastleigh victory?

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When the markets opens the Tories were the favourites – one bookie even opened up with the party the 2/1 on favourites – which is quite strong. The incumbant MP was going to jail, he was a member of a political party that were languishing in the polls, the smaller coalition party were bearing the brunt of the voter rage of the government and the seat is in an area that has always been blue until the death of Stephen Milligan prompted a by-election at a time where John Major was overseeing a tough and deep recession and had a cabinet full of backstabbing bastards. This was a Blue gain and the chance to make Nick Clegg seriously squirm.

However very quickly the punters lumped on the Lib Dems and within hours most bookies had them both around evens and they weren’t sure which way to go. The Tories got in first with their candidate and on the face of it is seemed a swift and obvious choice but as the days have passed we have noticed one thing – it was a horrific one.

Eastleigh people clearly like the local Lib Dems as they hold every seat on the local council in the constituency. So to win they needed to appoint a candidate who was a soft Tory and not a hard line one. Someone prone to gaffes, speaking about how local schools aren’t good enough for her son, someone who wasn’t down with equal marriage and isn’t exactly keen on foreigners coming to the UK and working. This was a Tory candidate who was basically walking hand-in-hand skipping along with UKIP policies. Not exactly the best plan when you consider UKIP will be picking up the protest vote so instead of gaining disaffected Lib Dems she is busy fighting off disaffected Tories going to UKIP.

When you have an election where the majority are clearly broadly in a small political spectrum then you should put yourself in that political spectrum if you want to win. The Tories and the Lib Dems currently are in a pretty narrow field overall. Cameron is a soft Tory and Clegg is certainly not a natural left leaning Lib Dem leader so essentially if the candidates towed the national line it would come down to whether the Huhne mess and the general Lib Dem national malaise would be enough for the Tories to step in.

As we all know though the Lib Dem candidate Mike Thornton is the only person in the narrow spectrum that the majority subscribe to. Soft liberals will not vote Tory next Thursday. They may vote Labour or one of the fringe parties or not bother voting but the soft Lib Dem vote will not go in any significant number to Maria Hutchings. So to win she has to establish herself as more credible than UKIP and try to tear down the Lib Dem vote to keep it at home or to send it to Labour or fringe candidates.

Can she do this? Yes but I can in theory become a Calvin Klein underwear model. Maria Hutchings is not a dynamic candidate that is engaging the public nor one who is generating positive press. I think the press over-inflate their influence but she just isn’t getting *any* positive play and her ground game is not what the Lib Dems or UKIP is. The Lib Dems know to win all they have to really do is keep the vote they had and maybe take a few soft Tory votes who are scared by the right-wingness of the Tory candidate and UKIP. UKIP know all they have to do is target anyone who is pissed off with everyone and swoop them up. When you see Boris Johnson knocking on doors and getting nowhere you know you have an issue.

The Tories could well win still in Eastleigh. Things can change but the general noise coming out is that they know they won’t. The thing is though that the Tories could and maybe should have won Eastleigh. The Chris Huhne trial and story has been knocking around for an awful long time now. Plenty of time to prepare, get on the streets, collect canvass data and have a candidate in place who was a soft Tory that could basically say, ‘look…you are pissed off with Nick Clegg and disappointed in Chris Huhne, why not vote for me and I can be that centerist candidate and not be a liar’ and victory was a far more realistic prospect.

Polling day is six days away and the more likely scenario now is the Tories fighting UKIP for second than fighting the Lib Dems for the win. If the polling does see UKIP get second place it will become possibly the biggest story of the by-election. UKIP’s strength against the Tories, the Tory collapse and the Lib Dem resilience would be the stories and in that order. Having a strong Lib Dem hold might just be the third biggest story of this election – who saw that coming?

Of course plenty can change but the Lib Dem campaign is holding up and confidence is there. The UKIP campaign is strengthening and they are sniffing giving the Tories a real real scare and the Tories are floundering. Labour were never going to be a significant runner and a fourth place would not be embarrassing for Ed Miliband in the slightest. If they were to get in the mix with UKIP and the Tories it might actually be a very good night for the party.

Still all to play for but the Lib Dems have run (so far) a very good campaign. The Tories seem to have stumbled without a clear plan (despite plenty of feet on the ground) and UKIP are picking up on that general anti-establishment feeling that is encompassing the nation.

Whatever happens next Thursday I can see several very interesting storylines…

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Written by neilmonnery

February 22nd, 2013 at 11:51 am

Posted in Politics

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