Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Good Vince...



The chair of the Student Loans Company (SLC) John Goodfellow is standing down and Ralph Seymour-Jackson, the company's chief executive, has resigned, the government has confirmed.

Only Labour would have countenenced them staying in place for as long, and disastrously, as they have done.

Business Secretary Vince Cable commented: "Last year's crisis in the Student Loans Company caused real upset for students and their families, many of whom lost confidence in the system. We must avoid a repetition of the problems. I believe a new chair and chief executive will provide the fresh leadership needed to deliver the remaining changes necessary for an improved service to customers this summer."


Agree with Vince on this one.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

118 Adds up to 1922

Today’s announcement by David Cameron that the payroll vote will not take part in the election of the officers of the parliamentary party’s backbench ‘1922’ committee is a welcome step.

Every group needs a place to gripe, and the 1922 is as good a venue as any for the parliamentary ‘lobby fodder’ to vent. At the same time, having the front benchers take part in the proceedings – but not voting - is actually helpful as it can delay the onset of ‘ministerialitis’ which is a mixture of agoraphobia, narcissism and delusion that can strike those in the vicinity of red boxes for too long.

Next, we need to see some independent-minded backbenchers in the City and County Council keep their own executives in order (both the officers and some of their more ventriloquist dummy portfolio holders).

Monday, May 24, 2010

Beer is Here


The Cambridge Beer Festival is underway this week. Hurrah!

Real ale has many fine qualities. One of them is the ability to unite the Left and Right of politics. The reds like the idea of microbrews cocking-a-snook at the big corporations and beer being the drink of the masses; the blues celebrate the tradition, craftsmanship and ‘Britishness’ of real ale.

I look forward to chatting with my political opponents over a convivial pint.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Truth About Trade

Found on the web...

The truth about trade, the global division of labour and specialisation that makes us all better off, wrapped up tightly into that t-shirt that you were able to buy for cheaper than ever before. Here’s what promises to be a fascinating read about the positive role that open trade can play for the world’s poor, and everyone else
The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy: An Economist Examines the Markets, Power, and Politics of World Trade

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Statistics, Damned Lies and the Renaissance


The BBC on Radio 4 carries a programme called More or Less. During the General Election it ran a fact-checking series putting the politicans' figures into context and pouncing on the misleading ones.
Of course people use statistics that are favourable to their own arguments. They’d be dumb not to. Sometimes the difference in the statistics used by the political parties is not because the underlying facts are being abused but because each party has a different conclusion to draw from them. For example it is possible to complain that wealth gap between the top 10% of the population and the bottom 10% is widening… whilst also welcoming a rise in absolute living standards for the bottom 10%.

There are other times when they simply mislead.

I received recently a letter from someone who claimed that their organisation was undergoing a “renaissance”. This is because they were doing well in a certain number of wards. This would have been impressive… had they not actually done better in more wards the year before… and the year before that too. In fact, this year’s ‘renaissance’ for them was last achieved - as a low-point - in 2005.

You could call it optimism bias, you could say somebody hasn’t checked their facts… but they should know better than to peddle dodgy stats to me. As for the "renaissance", it was not all that is was cracked up to be... Lucretia Borgia anyone?

Monday, May 17, 2010

King Log, Queen eco-Stork?


Councillor Ian Nimmo-Smith was both leader of the City Council and a rather unwilling commentator on this blog. The news that he is to stand down as the Lib Dem leader would normally tinged with some regret - as I rather liked him on those occasions we met - and be treated with some joy at the prospect of change on the council.

However, it looks like we are moving from the regime of King Log to that of the Queen eco-Stork, with Sian Reid taking Mr Nimmo-Smith's place.

Unlike Mr Nimmo Smith, I have never taken to either of the Lib Dem Reid’s of Newnham and remember a particularly petulant performance by the city councillor during a meeting on the congestion charge/TIF bid. So, if you oppose the congestion charging/poll tax on wheels, support Marshalls staying in Cambridge, want the A14 upgraded and have a scepticism that tells you that tax is not always a good thing… Cllr Reid's regime will be one to watch with wariness.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Local Election Numbers

The average increase in the Cambridge Conservative local election vote between 2005 (the last time local and General elections were held on the same day) and 2010 was 2.9%... this figure hides some wide variations with Coleridge storming ahead on nearly an 8% increase and West Chesterton actually falling by more than one percent.

Of course, there have been some boundary changes, so we are not comparing entirely like with like, but it gives a good picture of the city-wide variations. I would be interested in others views on why the ward results varied so much.


Ward and Tory Vote % change since 2005

COLERIDGE +7.9
NEWNHAM +6.0
ROMSEY +4.4
MARKET +3.9
TRUMPINGTON +3.7
CHERRY HINTON +3.2
EAST CHESTERTON +2.9
KING'S HEDGES +2.0
ABBEY +2.2
ARBURY +1.2
CASTLE +1.2
PETERSFIELD +0.6
WEST CHESTERTON -1.3

Average: 2.9%

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

E-mail from David Cameron


Thank you for all your patience over these past few days. I know that you must have found it frustrating not knowing exactly what was going on while negotiations continued. However, the great news is that after 13 years, our party is back in government.

So first, I want to thank again for all your hard work and dedication, not just over the past few weeks but over the past few years. I literally could not have done this without you. We can be immensely proud of how far we have come from our defeat in 2005.

We have seen the election of nearly 100 extra MPs, we have gained more seats than in any election since 1931 and we are now the party of government once again. No-one should underestimate the scale of our achievement in such a short space of time, and it would not have been possible without your support and commitment to the cause.

Second, I want to tell you what I can about the agreement we have made with our new partners in government, the Liberal Democrats. As I said after the election last week, more than anything else Britain needs strong, stable and decisive government at this point in our history. And it was in the national interest that we achieved this on a secure basis.

This is why I made a big, open and comprehensive offer to the Liberal Democrats last Friday. I signalled, from the very start of the negotiations, that we had to respect the verdict of the electorate and work together to find solutions to the profound problems facing our nation: the debt crisis, our deep social problems and our broken political system.

Today, we have achieved this much-needed agreement, overcoming political differences to forge a new government in the national interest. Of course, we must recognise that all coalitions are about compromise. This one is no different. And I want to take this opportunity to reassure about what was agreed.

The agreement commits the next government to a significantly accelerated reduction in the budget deficit, to cut £6 billion of government waste this financial year and to stop the jobs tax. The agreement also allows us to carry out key elements of the reform agenda we outlined in our manifesto - an agenda vital to turning our country round - including welfare and school reform. Moreover, we have protected our nuclear deterrent. And there will be no amnesty for illegal immigrants, nor the handover of any additional powers to the EU.

Of course, the agreement also reflects the key priorities and objectives of the Liberal Democrats. This includes fairer funding in education, a fairer tax system and political reform - including a referendum on changing the voting system to the alternative vote.

But the past few days have not just been about compromise. What was clear as talks progressed is the common ground between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. And that is displayed in this agreement, with our commitment to building a green economy, decentralising power and protecting civil liberties - including scrapping ID cards.

We campaigned on the belief that we're all in this together - and can only solve our problems together to build a stronger, more responsible society. I am confident that the coming together of two political parties to form one strong government marks a new era for Britain and for British politics. Now, let's get down to work.

David Cameron

Prime Minister & Leader of the Conservative Party

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

New Prime Minister - New Role for Rubber Plant




Well, so we have a coalition with the Lib Dems.... does this mean I should have voted for Julian Huppert? Or should we have only had Nick Hillman on the ballot paper?

Of course it means our MP is no longer a rubber plant, but actually a sturdy prop for a Cameron-led government...

Crikey.

Coalitions are Bad

A good summary of how awful coalitions are can be found here.

We may have to have one in the UK following the hung parliament result from Thursday. However if anyone thought that coalition-forming, which would be a constant if we were to plunge ourselves into continental style proportional representation, is a good thing should be disabused of the notion by now

The people may have voted but it's the politicians who decide who forms the government.

That's not right.

Monday, May 10, 2010

An Advert for Public Private Partnerships



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+44 (0)208 451 3632 / +44 (0)781 532 0377

Saturday, May 8, 2010

A Kind Word for Julian Huppert


'Well done' to the new Lib Dem MP for celebrating his win with a traditional English beer.

Local Election Results

Well, the local clashes have finished and are reported here.

My commiserations go to Andy Bower who once again came within hailing distance of the Labour candidate in Coleridge and in process provided the best chance of winning a seat in the city.

I'm sure our Lib Dem rivals will use this result as further 'proof' that electoral reform is needed, as a quarter of the city is represented by a sole councillor. However they miss the point that the current system provides for direct, local representation. Councillors should be directly elected and accountable - which means being able to identify them and sling them out of office even if their party wants them in.



Friday, May 7, 2010

Lib Dem's Two Horse Race is a Nag


Well, we had it pounded into us by the local Lib Dems that the election was a two-horse race beteween them and Labour. They kept using a graph from 2005.
However, the reality was the Conservatives revving up their campaign to recover and by 2009 actually overtaking Labour in the popular vote... something that was repeated in this year's parliamentary result (Well Done Nick!).
Despite this, the Lib Dems continued to peddle their misleading bar charts. If the new MP for the seat wants to restore trust to our political system I suggest he starts by a bit of honesty in his party's campaigning.


Cambridge: Lib Dem Win; Tories Edge Labour to Third

Julian Huppert (Liberal Democrat) 19,621
Nick Hillman (Conservative) 12,829
Daniel Zeichner (Labour) 12,174
Tony Juniper (Green) 3,804
Peter Burkinshaw (UKIP) 1,195
Martin Booth (Socialist Coalition) 362
Holborn Old (Independent) 145

Majority 6,792 (13.5%)
Turnout 50,130 (65.0%, +6.1 on 2005)

Full results from the BBC here.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Dangerous Database State

The people in government offices who say your secrets are safe with them are at it again as a

“computer memory stick containing the sensitive information was found by a 12-year-old boy outside an Asda store. It reportedly contained the criminal histories of some violent patients as well as details about staff at the Tryst Park unit at Bellsdyke Hospital."

The state not your friend. It’s an incompetent fool. End ID cards and the database state tomorrow.

Less than 24 Hours for Bower for Coleridge

If hard work and dedication is a measure then Andy Bower's campaign for Coleridge is well ahead of every other candidate in the ward. Regardless of party, Andy would be an excellent voice for local residents. He deserves your support!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Desperate, Incompetent, Smoking Something?

Daniel and Julian both sent letters asking for my vote.

I am the Chairman of the Coleridge Conservative branch, a previous Conservative parliamentary candidate and long-time political opponent (but not enemy, the backstabbers are on your side as Charles Clarke can tell).

So are their campaign teams desperate, incompetent or running on an 'optimism bias' aided by smoking something?



Sunday, May 2, 2010

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Conservative Contract with Britain


We will change politics.


Our political system needs to change. Politicians must be made more accountable, and we must take power away from Westminster and put it in the hands of people - individuals, families and neighbourhoods.
If you elect a Conservative government on 6 May, we will:

1. Give you the right to sack your MP, so you don't have to wait for an election to get rid of politicians who are guilty of misconduct.
2. Cut the number of MPs by ten per cent, and cut the subsidies and perks for politicians.
3. Cut ministers' pay by five per cent and freeze it for five years.
4. Give local communities the power to take charge of the local planning system and vote on excessive council tax rises.
5. Make government transparent, publishing every item of government spending over £25,000, all government contracts, and all local council spending over £500.


We will change the economy

Gordon Brown's economic incompetence has doubled the national debt, given us record youth unemployment, and widened the gap between rich and poor. Unemployment is still rising, and this year we will spend more on debt interest than on schools. We need to get our economy moving.

If you elect a Conservative government on 6 May, we will:

1. Cut wasteful government spending so we can stop Labour's jobs tax, which would kill the recovery.
2. Act now on the national debt, so we can keep mortgage rates lower for longer.
3. Reduce emissions and build a greener economy, with thousands of new jobs in green industries and advanced manufacturing.
4. Get Britain working by giving unemployed people support to get work, creating 400,000 new apprenticeships and training places over two years, and cutting benefits for those who refuse work.
5. Control immigration, reducing it to the levels of the 1990s - meaning tens of thousands a year, instead of the hundreds of thousands a year under Labour.


We will change society


We face big social problems in this country: family breakdown, educational failure, crime and deep poverty. Labour's big government has failed; we will help build a Big Society where everyone plays their part in mending our broken society.

If you elect a Conservative government on 6 May, we will:

1. Increase spending on health every year, while cutting waste in the NHS, so that more goes to nurses and doctors on the frontline, and make sure you get access to the cancer drugs you need.
2. Support families, by giving married couples and civil partners a tax break, giving more people the right to request flexible working and helping young families with extra Sure Start health visitors.
3. Raise standards in schools, by giving teachers the power to restore discipline and by giving parents, charities and voluntary groups the power to start new smaller schools.
4. Increase the basic state pension, by relinking it to earnings, and protect the winter fuel allowance, free TV licences, free bus travel and other key benefits for older people.
5. Fight back against crime, cut paperwork to get police officers on the street, and make sure criminals serve the sentence given to them in court.
6. Create National Citizen Service for every 16 year old, to help bring the country together.