Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Do we trust Labour on the Bedroom tax?

I have some real problems with the notion of the Bedroom tax. I, like Charles Kennedy and others, feel that it needs to be really heavily scrutinised if it is to be brought in and that there need to be some very clear exemptions to this.

I also have a bit of a problem with moving people out of their homes to make space. After all, your council or social house is your home and you are basically being evicted to a smaller unit against your will because the state is telling you too. However there is a problem with Overcrowding in social housing which means ultimately I don't know how I feel about this and it needs more thought that I currently don't have time to allocate due to a very busy personal/family life!

Many readers will know that I am deeply cynical of Opposition politics.

Although, I am deeply disappointed that MPs from my party whole heartedly voted for this (except Tim Farron who voted against and several others who abstained) I am also curious about Labour's position.

The Government passed with 252 votes yesterday against 222 Labour, Libdem and other party members. A full list can be viewed here.

There is a lot of crowing on Social media this morning about how only Labour can defeat this bill in 2015 and Rachel Reeves MP stated yesterday that;

 Let me be very clear: if I am Secretary of State in 2015, the first thing I will do is reverse this unfair and pernicious tax.

The interesting thing is though that the Government won with 252 votes against 222 mix of MPs. The Labour party number some 257 MPs. Had they turned up in force and voted they would have won the vote without the other parties support but in fact 47 Labour MPs failed to turn up. So where were they?

If, the Labour Party really wanted this killed off now they could/would have done it.

The cynic in me would argue that Labour actually are happy to leave this policy to go through kicking up a stink at every step (but not actually killing it off) to be the party of opposition and gain votes in 2015 then once in they can get rid of it and claim ultimate victory on the subject at the end of a long standing campaign.

As a party lacking policies excepting being whole heartedly against the Government's every suggestion (even ones that agreed with previous Labour moves) or grand standing on things like freezing energy bills (which is causing energy bill hikes now and is considered wholly unworkable by experts) it gives them a policy.

I don't know, maybe I am too cynical for my own good but my overall question is...

Where were the 47 MPs who didn't turn up to vote down this policy they so dispise and is wholly unpopular?

Sunday, 10 November 2013

To Any Dead Officer by Siegried Sassoon

To Any dead officer

Well, how are things in Heaven? I wish you’d say,
Because I’d like to know that you’re all right.
Tell me, have you found everlasting day,
Or been sucked in by everlasting night?
For when I shut my eyes your face shows plain;
I hear you make some cheery old remark—
I can rebuild you in my brain,
Though you’ve gone out patrolling in the dark.

You hated tours of trenches; you were proud
Of nothing more than having good years to spend;
Longed to get home and join the careless crowd
Of chaps who work in peace with Time for friend.
That’s all washed out now. You’re beyond the wire:
No earthly chance can send you crawling back;
You’ve finished with machine-gun fire—
Knocked over in a hopeless dud-attack.

Somehow I always thought you’d get done in,
Because you were so desperate keen to live:
You were all out to try and save your skin,
Well knowing how much the world had got to give.
You joked at shells and talked the usual ‘shop,’
Stuck to your dirty job and did it fine:
With ‘Jesus Christ! when will it stop?
Three years ... It’s hell unless we break their line.’

So when they told me you’d been left for dead
I wouldn’t believe them, feeling it must be true.
Next week the bloody Roll of Honour said
‘Wounded and missing’—(That’s the thing to do
When lads are left in shell-holes dying slow,
With nothing but blank sky and wounds that ache,
Moaning for water till they know
It’s night, and then it’s not worth while to wake!)

. . . .
Good-bye, old lad! Remember me to God,
And tell Him that our Politicians swear
They won’t give in till Prussian Rule’s been trod
Under the Heel of England ... Are you there?...
Yes ... and the War won’t end for at least two years;
But we’ve got stacks of men ... I’m blind with tears,
Staring into the dark. Cheerio!
I wish they’d killed you in a decent show.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Guy Fawkes should blow up Parliament

One of my family's favourite sayings is that only person to enter the Houses of Parliament with honest
intentions was Guy Fawkes.

With the public perception of modern Politics this could be argued to be true.

The big problem is that the public don't vote for people, they vote for parties. You could be the best candidate in the world but if you aren't in the right party you won't stand a chance. For example of Jesus was standing for the Liberal Democrats - (I know, I'm going to hell anyway...), Adolf Hitler was standing for the Conservative party and Stalin was standing for Labour party in say in an urban constituency like Liverpool and let's be honest Labour would get in.

If it was a seat in an area like Eton, or a Rural area then generally it would be Hitler arriving in Westminster as MP.

At no point would Jesus get voted in to these constituencies because; who wants to throw their vote away on a third party?

I'll give you that there are marginal seats where the vote swings wildly but between the big two. Take Chatham and Aylesford which has swapped sides and has had two good MPs. Now when 2015 comes along there is a good chance, despite how well Tracey has done in representing her constituency, that she will lose many votes from swing voters who are unhappy with the Coalition/Conservatives in Government (despite what she may or may have rebelled against.)

It is sad that many good candidates, who care deeply about their constituents will never get voted in because they are in the wrong party. Even Independents, who are not tied to the Party mast and policies will very rarely get in without the backing of money and party activists and are considered a wasted vote to the public. Indeed the Libdems are often seen as wasted vote.

Even if there are good MPs, and I really think there are some fantastic ones in Parliament, mostly back benchers but they are tarred with the same brush as those who have caused such public uproar. Ed Balls' time at the treasury that helped the current crisis, the Cross party MPs who were part of the expenses scandal, tuition fee Lib dems... it is a big brush that paints corruption and double standards across the whole house no matter what your Party affiliation or position. The grand standing for the benefits of the TV cameras and the pithy sound bites that ultimately don't solve problems such as the exchange about power companies between Ed Balls and George Osborne yesterday, I find it hard to imagine that Salisbury and Wellington or Asquith and Bonar Law behaved in this manner, so why do our current MPs think it is ok?

Sadly, should Guido sneak under the Palace of Westminster and blew the lot up, I'm sure that there would not be that much public outcry and the notion that well, we're probably better off without them!

The mother parliament of many others around the World and the Commonwealth needs reform, it needs to generate interest from the people and represent them properly. Think of all the centuries of struggle that has gone on to get people the vote and a say in how they are ruled and now the apathy that has set in and the lack of engagement this centuries old institution has caused would make people like Fergus O'Conner, Emiline Pankerhurst and the others wonder why they bothered in the first place.

We need change and better democracy.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Rail fare Political football

Watching the Twittersphere from my fortress of solitude I noticed that Medway Labour, indeed Kentish Labour, were out in force today at Railway stations to campaign about the rise of train fares and this Government's failure to scrap RPI and for people to have more of a working wage...

I hate to say this but we've heard this all before.

I've been commuting to work in London since April 2008 and my fares have been climbing since then. My monthly fare is now up to £350 odd and is set to rise yet again in January. To some extent this Government, especially under pressure from the Medway Troika of Rehman, Tracey and Mark have listened and kept increases to RPI+1 instead of the usual +3 however when wages are frozen at 1% Per year and with the increases in other bills and costs it is just another bill that we eventually can't afford.

There are no fast answers and I fear that Labour's plans to Nationalise the network, which has the benefit of bringing Railtrack and the various Networks back "In house" may see the networks suffering from under investment or from the dreaded strikes of civil servants should Labour not get in the following Parliament.

Indeed why should I trust Labour with the Railways after they failed to do anything for 13 years of power and the introduction of RPI+3 to get more investment and to pay for HS1, a service that really only benefits a few?

The whole subject has become a political football that is kicked around by the political parties and ultimately it is us, the commuter and public, who are forced to pay for the overcrowded, work shy if the weather is even 4% out of the "Perfect weather conditions" required, dirty cash cow that is Southeastern and other commuter lines.

Who will win, Red or Blues? - It apparently doesn't matter and will be a no score draw.

I'm afraid the only solution I can find to this non ending nightmare and Political posturing and arguments is for me to either win the lottery, write a best seller or find a job in Medway...

The future for Commuters, I'm sorry to say, is bleak...