I see the Conservatives have held on to second place in the Moray by-election in Scotland. Anything less would have been worrying. Meanwhile, Labour has slipped down to fourth. And this on top of this week’s problems. Can things get any worse for the Labour party? Well, we still have next Thursday’s elections. I know it’s not nice to gloat, but who cares?
The publication of the election expenses of the main political parties should persuade even the most entrenched supporter of state funding not to go down that road. Even in this pip-squeaking dispensation, there are some costs that should never be defrayed by taxpayers’ money. Here are a few:
1) Make up for Tony Blair. Bad enough we have to put up with that irritating grin without being stung for the toothpaste and tanning cream as well.
2) Bespoke suits for Charlie Kennedy.
3) Alastair Campbell. Enough said.
4) And the most infuriating of all, millions spent on so-called ‘election gurus’. How cynical. Surely the services of such gurus would not be necessary if a political party actually took the trouble to engage with the electorate.
If political parties wish to throw away their funds on such irrelevancies, that is their problem. As long as they keep their greedy paws away from taxpayers’ money. However, if they can spend like this out of their limited party funds, who knows what they will do if the tap of state funding is turned on? By all means, buy as many Star Trek costumes as you like, so long as you can trick your activists and ‘donors’ into giving money. But when that money dries up, do not look to the public purse. A political party that can no longer raise funds from its supporters should not be bailed out by the taxpayer. It deserves to die.
Just watched the Unison guy on television threatening industrial action because of the problems in the NHS. And this after the so-called ‘record investment’ in the NHS by the Government? The Government should learn one thing from this: it is futile to bribe unions with taxpayers’ money. They will always want more. There is no satisfying their voracious appetite. Far better to provide value for money, even if this results in lower spending. Tories, please take note.
The local elections are almost upon us. I am minded to go canvassing with my local Conservative Party Association, but I have one reservation. If asked by voters about the party’s policies, I am loath to parrot out the tired party line about ‘policy reviews’ etc. Some voters may quite reasonably interpret this as vagueness, or even worse, insincerity. It is also disingenuous to tell voters that the local election should be restricted to local issues. Some of them may want to have some more detail about Conservative Party policy in general. Knowing myself, I would be sorely tempted to make up policies on the doorstep, you know, something to fill the gaping hole. (Who, after all, wants to look like an empty-handed door-to-door charlatan? There is only so much one can say about the environment.) I might ‘invent’ such right of centre policies as lower taxation, selective education, that sort of thing. Somehow, I don’t think that will go down well at Central Office.
Probably best for everyone that I keep indoors.
The Home Secretary, Charles Clarke, has finally decided to do something about our shambolic system of administering justice. No, he is not building new prisons, perish the thought! Under the proposals, dangerous criminals will still be allowed out of jail early, but will be subject to a set of new restrictions under a ‘Dangerous Persons’ Order’. Hmm. Let’s see how well that works. On the other hand, people who have the misfortune to be jailed through a miscarriage of justice will see their compensation cut, in some cases, to nil.
So to summarise, the new reforms are as follows: dangerous criminals will still be allowed out early, and innocent people can now be locked up without compensation.
I came across this hilarious and thought-provoking letter in the Letters page of the Daily Telegraph. I am republishing it in full below:
Sir - As I approach my 80th year, faced with rising taxes, my dentist going private, my local hospital proposing to close several departments, I am wondering whether prison might not be the best place to be.
There, I will have my heating bills paid. I’ll have three meals a day, free dentistry, medical treatment and no responsibility. I might even have free computer classes. What is the best way to go about this? What sort of crime would you advise? I don’t want community service and I don’t want a philanthropist paying my fine.
It is too late for me to become a Euro MP or a single mum. Prison seems the best answer. I want free food, dental treatment, healthcare and free transport to hospital. We provided all this for the Great Train Robber. Why not for me?
The letter was written by someone called Gillian Rogers. It brightened my train journey, and in appreciation, I would like to make a suggestion as to a ’suitable crime’.
Normally, in such situations, I would suggest withholding council tax, but with local elections round the corner, we can be sure she will not be jailed. Some idiot politician will pay the fine, thereby frustrating her efforts.
Instead I suggest she take a look at the front page of today’s Independent. It informs us that two grandmothers have been arrested under new anti-terrorism legislation for the despicable crime of protesting outside an American military base in Yorkshire. I would suggest this crime. No need to don a balaclava, or spend time looking for firearms and the like. This crime is so convenient it can be committed in the course of a good day out walking in the woods. If all goes well, Gillian Rogers should be safely ensconsced in Belmarsh by Christmas.
But seriously …
Am I the only one getting disillusioned with David Cameron? Having spectacularly failed to seize the initiative over the ‘loans for peerages’ affair, he now crops up on radio, picking a needless fight with UKIP, of all parties. Are there not enough things a leader of a right of centre political party may reasonably be expected to be doing at this moment? Let me enlighten him:
1) Those policies he promised us. We have long been waiting. This is getting embarrassing.
2) A thoughtful response to the Turner report. What, for example, has he to say about the statement that taxes may have to rise to pay for pensions?
3) The Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill. I hear he has only imposed a two-line whip. Why?
I could go on. His inaction has started to affect the opinion polls, and I am beginning to worry that we may have surrendered our party to a bunch of vacant PR men. We should be exploiting the current situation. Faced with a decaying Labour party and a government in limbo, a thoroughly discredited Prime Minister, and a high-taxing Socialist Chancellor, Cameron instead turns his fire on UKIP.
Heaven preserve us.
The jury in the Damilola Taylor trial have found the latest defendants not guilty of murder. I think we may never discover, this side of heaven, who killed that little boy. However, I can’t help feeling that we would have been a little nearer the truth if not for the first cack-handed police investigation.