Saturday, 12 May 2007

Gordon Brown Attempts to Rebuild Public Trust

Mr Brown pledged to govern “in a different way’’ yesterday when launching his campaign to lead Labour and become Prime Minister. He promised a clean break with the Blair years as he admitted “mistakes” had been made in Iraq, hinted at a review of ID cards and vowed to end the cult of celebrity. Brown also said he would restore power to Parliament and rebuild the public trust in democracy.

Yesterday, in a low-profile launch which was in sharp contrast to Blair’s carefully-choreographed grandiose farewell, the Chancellor quickly distanced himself from the spin and obsession with image of Blair while emphasizing his own "moral compass." Brown promised measures would be taken to make government more accountable to Parliament over decisions to go to war and senior public appointments, with a new code of ministerial conduct, to be followed by a major programme of constitutional reform. When speaking about Iraq, he said: “I accept that mistakes have been made”.

Mr Brown indicated that he would stick with Blairite health reforms and a push to increase the number of affordable homes. Policies that are seen as essential to keep on board "middle Britain" voters who helped Mr Blair win three election victories.

Brown's statements sound promising however George Osborne, his Conservative shadow, had it correct when he said: "After 10 years of waiting, all Gordon Brown has given us is reheated slogans and a promise to listen - when all the evidence shows he's incapable of acknowledging his mistakes."

Brown is responsible for the pension disaster and his tax credit system has handed out 6 Billion in overpayment and lost a further 1.4 Billion due to fraud. If this is Brown's track record should we not be concerned that he will be responsible for running the country? As for distancing himself from Blair, it is nothing more than political spin. A package disguised in different wrapping is still the same package. It is just a little more attractive until you open it.

Thursday, 10 May 2007

Home Office Attempts to Hide Rising Cost of ID Cards

The Home Office has been accused of a "pathetic" attempt to hide that the projected cost of identity cards has jumped to £105. Ministers chose not to fulfill their legal duty to update Parliament on the price of the scheme at the end of March. Instead they waited over a month to give out the details at the same time as the Prime Minister, the project's main supporter, was announcing when he would leave office. Ministers hoped that the PM's announcement would overshadow these new increases. The estimated price of the scheme has increased by £640million in six months. This means that the ID cards will now cost £105 which is a 13 % increase over the previous figure of £93 for each card which the British public will have no option but to pay.

Shadow home secretary David Davis said: "The public will see through this transparent and pathetic attempt to bury bad news. It is also no surprise the Government has had to revise their cost estimate up by so much in less than a year and undermines their criticism of the independent London School of Economics cost estimate of up to £20bn."

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Nick Clegg said the bad news was "illegally postponed", illustrating the "depths of cynicism" to which ministers were resorting to force through the scheme.

The Civil rights group Liberty said the "dangerous and expensive" card plan should leave Downing Street with its author.
ID cards will carry biometric details on every Briton, as well as up to 50 pieces of sensitive information.

Home Secretary John Reid insists they will make travel easier, proof of age more convenient and proof of identity more secure. Reid's statement is exactly what this Labour Government wants the public to believe while burying the implications of the scheme just as they attempted to bury the increase is cost of the cards.

For the few people out there who still believe the governments spin and think that ID cards may not be such a bad idea please consider the following. Those who will get the ID's, simply because it is the law and not because they have any desire to have their personal biometric information stored on a card , are the law abiding citizens who should not have to. If Labour seriously believes criminals will line up on day one, or at any other time, they need a reality check. The next question is, when ID cards do not achieve the desired results what is next? Microchips implanted under our skin? It may sound far fetched but so did biometric ID cards 20 years ago. We can only hope Labour does not win the next election. I enjoy my freedom. Well, what's left of it anyway. Still not convinced? Visit . It will give you a very different perspective on the issue. "There is no evidence the system will produce the stated benefits. Less liberty does not imply greater security." (from the no2id website)

Blair Announces He Will Stand Down on 27 June

After briefing the Cabinet on his plans Blair made the announcement he would stand down as Prime Minister in a speech to party activists in his Sedgefield constituency. Blair will stay on in Downing Street until the Labour Party elects a new leader who is expected to be Gordon Brown.
In an emotional speech, Mr Blair said he had been prime minister for 10 years which was "long enough" for the country and himself. He thanked the British people for their support and apologised for when "I have fallen short". Blair acknowledged his government had not always lived up to high expectations but said that he had been "very blessed" to lead "the greatest nation on earth". He wen t on to add "I did what I thought was right for our country," Mr Blair said, summing up his record. I came into office with high hopes for Britain's future, and, you know, I leave it with even higher hopes for Britain's future." In conclusion, he said: "Actually I've been lucky and very blessed. And this country is a blessed nation. The British are special - the world knows it, in our innermost thoughts we know it. This is the greatest nation on earth."

Shortly after Mr Blair's announcement, the deputy prime minister and deputy Labour leader John Prescott also announced his intention to stand down.

Brown, who is expected to launch his campaign for leadership Friday, said of Blair: "I think I spoke for millions when I said at Cabinet today that Tony Blair's achievements are unique, unprecedented and enduring." He went on to add that Mr Blair's legacy would also be better public services and a strong economy adding "Britain's reputation in the world is stronger than ever before. At all times he tried to do the right thing".

Conservative leader David Cameron posted his reaction to Blair's speech on his website. He said: "I think a lot of people will look back on the last 10 years of dashed hopes and big disappointments, of so much promised so little delivered." Mr Cameron has said the country faces seven weeks of "paralysis" until Labour chooses a new top team, accusing Mr Blair of running a government of the "living dead".

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell joined Cameron in criticizing Blair. He said that he thought Mr Blair's speech was "defensive, defiant, and even chauvinist at the end talking about Great Britain as being the best country in the world".

Only time will tell whose account of the "Blair Years" will go down in history. However one thing is certain, it was time for Blair to go.

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Brown Can't Run An Effective Tax Credit System ... Now We Expect Him to Run the Government?

Gordon Brown's tax credits system has handed out nearly £6 billion of overpayments over the past three years. Officials have already had to write off more than £500 million of overpayments and are "unlikely" to recover a further £1.4 billion according to a report by MPs. the MPs stressed that a further £1.28 billion of tax credits was lost in a single year as a result of "unacceptable" levels of fraud and error. The report also says that the Government has not introduced additional checks on tax credit claims submitted by migrant workers from Eastern European countries that have joined the EU.

According to the Public Accounts select committee tax credits now suffer the highest levels of fraud and error in the whole of the Government.

We already know about the pension disaster under Brown and the tax credit system he is responsible for hands out 6 Billion in overpayment and loses a further 1.4 Billion due to fraud. If this is Brown's track record should we not be concerned that he will be responsible for running the country?

In Anticipation of Blair Announcing His Resignation ... Quotes to Remember Him By

In anticipation of Tony Blair returning on Thursday to his Sedgefield constituency for the long-awaited announcement that he is standing down as leader of the Labour Party here are a few interesting quotes from his time as PM.

From Prime Minister's Questions, 30 July 1997:
Sir Michael Spicer: Looking back on the past 96 days, and with the benefit of hindsight, what does the Prime Minister think has been his worst mistake--losing control over interest rates, raiding pension funds, robbing the reserves, or what?
The Prime Minister: Certainly our greatest triumph has been to remove the Conservative Government. As for my greatest mistake, that is for me to know and for the hon. Gentleman to find out.

Well Mr Blair, we have found out and there is quite a list.

Blair Quotes ...
"This party will, ultimately, be judged on its ability to deliver on its promise" ... Based on the numerous broken promises I'm not sure Blair would feel the same way today :)

"I didn't come into politics to change the Labour Party. I came into politics to change the country." From Tony Blair's speech to Labour Party conference October 1995. Blair did succeed in changing the country, however not in a good way.

"Ask me my three priorities for Government, and I tell you: education, education and education." ... I have a few quotes for Blair regarding his priority.
1. There was no improvement in education in 2005. This is from the Telegraph 17/05/2005 "The number of failing secondary schools has gone up despite the Government's focus on improving standards through the "reform" of comprehensive education."
2. There is still no improvement today. This from today's telegraph "Last year, one in 10 pupils - 75,000 - failed to obtain five GCSEs of whatever grade. That figure has remained the same since 1999. Of these, 26,000 pupils fail to achieve a single GCSE."

Speech in Paris, May 1997.
“Labour is the party of law and order in Britain today. Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime.” Violent and serious crimes have increased. If Blair meant he would be "tough on crime" by installing "talking" cctv cameras to yell at children for littering as they walk down the street then he has succeeded at that.

"We'll negotiate a withdrawal from the EEC"(now the EU)"which has drained our natural resources and destroyed jobs". Tony Blair, before he became an MP, in 1983. Mr Blair is now an enthusiastic supporter of the EU and asserts that Britain must "be at the heart of Europe". It is very possible that Blair intends to use his final weeks as Prime Minister to in office to surrender British powers to Brussels as part of his drive for a European "legacy" irrespective of the fact that the majority of the public are very much opposed to this.

"Power without principle is barren, but principle without power is futile. This is a party of government, and I will lead it as a party of government." Blair has had his time with barren power. Soon he will no longer have power and his principles are long gone so what will be left?

In the spirit of the transfer of Labour leadership, one final quote from Gordon Brown about Tony Blair. "There is nothing that you could say to me now that I could ever believe." (To Tony Blair by Gordon Brown) That pretty much sums up the public's view on Blair. The only thing Brown didn't mention is that is sums up the public's view of him as well.

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Rally Yesterday Demanding Amnesty for Hundreds of Thousands of Illegal Immigrants

Thousands of protesters took part in a rally at Trafalgar Square yesterday demanding that immigrants who have been in Britain for longer than 4 years be given a two year work permit without access to benefits. However at the end of the two years, providing certain conditions have been met they would be given indefinite leave to remain. These tests include an English test, criminal checks, and employer references.

Well known figures who joined in the protest included Dr Tom Butler the Anglican Bishop of Southwark, Labour deputy leadership contender Jon Cruddas, Baroness Shirley Williams and Billy Bragg, the singer and political activist.

Both Labour, apart from the Deputy Leader contender Jon Cruddas, (which is no surprise as Labour can rarely agree within the party) and the Conservatives have rejected the idea thankfully.

The shadow home affairs minister, Damian Green, said "We are not attracted to the idea of an amnesties. Experience from abroad shows that they attract illegal immigration. The long-term solution is to have an efficient asylum system which allows people to have their case heard quickly, so that we do not develop the huge backlog from which this government now suffers."

Green is correct. The last thing the UK needs is more illegal immigration. Offering amnesty to the illegal immigrants currently here would simply invite more people to illegally enter and reside in Britain. It would be effectively rewarding immigrants for getting away with breaking the law by living illegally in the UK for an extended period of time . It is completely illogical and would simply serve to make the problem even worse than it already is.

Monday, 7 May 2007

Brown Hopes That By Bringing In A Younger Cabinet He Will Have A Better Chance a Challenging Cameron

Brown hopes a Cabinet with a younger yet still experienced image will give Labour a fresh start and counter the challenge of David Cameron after the Conservatives success in last week's elections. When Mr Brown takes over it looks as though the four most senior posts in Government, prime minister, chancellor, foreign secretary and now home secretary are most likely changing.

This large cabinet restructure would the largest since 1997. Brown is attempting to make a clean brake with the Blair years and resurrect Labour. The only problem facing Labour is that the voters support Brown only marginally more than Blair. After the past 10 years the British public are no longer that easily fooled. Brown will create new slogans and spin however the same package in different wrapping paper is still the same package.

Brown will need to perform a miracle to gain the support of the country after the past 10 years of broken promises and Labour sleaze. A miracle which I hope, for our country's sake, never materializes.

Scotland In Crisis After Lib Dems Refuse Coalition with SNP

Scotland was in turmoil last night after Liberal Democrat leader Nicol Stephen refused Alex Salmond's offer of a share in a coalition government. Stephen demanded that the SNP instantly drop their demands for a referendum on independence.

In a powerful statement issued after two days of talks Stephen said that the way was now open for nationalists to try to form a minority government as the Liberal Democrats had earlier also categorically ruled out a coalition deal with Labour. It now appears that a minority SNP administration is Mr Salmond's only option.

The Scottish Parliament will meet to swear in new MSPs on Tuesday and have only 24 days to elect a First Minister or a new election must be called.

Sunday, 6 May 2007

Question of the Week

Does it concern you that Tony Blair intends to use his final weeks in office to surrender British powers to Brussels as part of his drive for a European "legacy" ? Bearing in mind the repercussion this may have on the future of Britain do you believe Blair is more concerned with securing his "legacy" during his final weeks in office or the future of the country?

The article relating to this can be found at Blair's Desire for a European Legacy

Previous Question of the Week 30 April ,

Blair's Desire for a "European" Legacy Is More Important to Him than the Impact His Actions Will Have on Britain

Senior Whitehall officials claim that Tony Blair intends to use his final weeks in office to surrender British powers to Brussels as part of his drive for a European "legacy" despite the future repercussions. Prime Minister Blair will effectively be binding the hands of Gordon Brown by committing Britain to a rewritten version of the European Union constitution days before he finally resigns at the end of June.

Mr Blair's has wanted to do forge closer links with France and Germany since coming to power in 1997. This action by Blair will dash Labour's hopes of a "stable and orderly transition" of power when Mr Blair announces his departure plans later this week. Brown will have a series of difficult and time consuming negotiations to undertake to undo any or all of Mr Blair's moves to sign away powers. These negotiations would likely dominate Brown's tenure at number 10.

Yesterday a senior civil servant said, "The concern is that the outgoing Prime Minister will take constitutional decisions which will bind both his successor and the country for years. There is a worry he believes this should be part of his political legacy and that he will be acting as an individual and not the leader of a government." This seems to be a very accurate statement.

Blair is consumed by ensuring his legacy and will do so, it seems, even at the expense of the country he was entrusted to run.