Daily archives: June 5, 2009

The Most Undemocratic Government For Over A Century

Led by Lord Mandelson, whose titles now include “First Secretary of State and Lord President of the Council”, there are now seven members of the Cabinet in the House of Lords. Gordon Brown is bringing in his unelected cronies to rule us.

This is an incredible step back in time for British democracy. It is the most Cabinet Ministers from the unelected House of Lords for over a century.

My first thought was that it was the most ministers from the House of Lords since the government of Lord Salisbury was defeated by the Liberals.


But incredibly, I am pretty sure that Gordon Brown’s government is less democratic than Lord Salisbury’s, because several of Salisbury’s ministers, like Lord Randolph Churchill and Lord Hamilton, were sons of peers and actually elected to the house of Commons. I haven’t checked it, but my suspicion is that this is the most undemocratic Cabinet since the Liberal Unionists walked out on Gladstone in the 1870s.

This really does defy belief. This is the Labour Party?

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I Am Standing in Norwich North

There is to be a by-election in Norwich North. I shall be standing as an independent, anti-sleaze candidate.

Dr Ian Gibson was a good MP, and has done the honorable thing – unlike so many others – by standing down as an MP now. As it happens, my lifelong friend and best man, Marcus Armes, used to work as Ian Gibson’s assistant.

Norwich North is very much home ground for me. I come from just outside the constituency. I am one of the Norfolk Scots! (My father was posted to Norfolk in the RAF, married a local Shannock girl, and stayed). I was born in West Runton and went to school at Sheringham Primary and Paston. I was on the executive of the North Norfolk Liberal party in the days when that constituency stretched into Norwich, including Hellesdon. I am a lifelong Canaries fan.

I believe that parliament needs people of independent mind who try to do what is right, and who are not in it for the money. I sacrificed an extremely lucrative career as a British Ambassador, for the princiiple of opposing British government collusion with torture. I have a proven record of putting principle before money or party.

I know Norwich and its people and will always work honestly for their good.

I will live in the constituency. I will take only take the barest necessary travel expenses to help me do the job, and publish instantly any claim. I will guarantee to keep my expenses to less than 50% of the average, and hopefully still less.

The sleaze of the expenses scam is not the problem. It is just a symptom of the situation, where we have very low quality MPs who are just hacks to party machines. These MPs were sleeping into the economic disaster of the unregulated casino economy and the banking crash. These MPs have voted through the wholesale erosion of our civil liberties. These MPs voted us in to an illegal and disastrous war that has increased the fundamentalist threat.

I will be genuinely independent of any party, and work only for the interests of the people of Norwich. I will be a thinking MP.

I rather doubt that an honest man can get elected. But I think the voters deserve a choice beyond the tired old parties. So we will give it a try!

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Gobsmacking Defeat

The media don’t quite seem to be picking up the absolutely incredible scale of the collapse in Labour’s vote. Staffordshire County Council is quite simply incredible. Previously a Labour Council, including Stoke and other big industrial areas.

New Labour have lost 30 of their 32 seats on the Council!!!!!!


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Not Dead Yet

And nor is Gordon Brown.

For the medics among you (and a lot of doctors visit this site, for some reason) I am on Coartem, Ciprolex and paracetamol. Am typing with one hand as I have a drip in the other.

Raised from my sickbed by the sound of Michael White and Fraser Nelson on Sky News. (Must get someone to move the TV so I can see them. On the other hand…) If all the mainstream media can dish up is opposing arseholes, I need to say something.

First up is to note the absolute New Labour meltdown in the local council elections. This is almost a complete wipeout. In Lincolnshire, New Labour lost 17 of its 21 seats. (Excellent Lincoln council elections website which was updated in real time all night).


Look at the graphics. In this whole county vote, Labour fell into third place with just 11%! It is worth looking in detail at the graphics because you see that the Tories got well less than half the vote but three quarters of the seats, The Lib Dems got 19% of the vote but only five seats. A strong case for proportional representation – and a reminder why self interested Tories will fight it.

In Bristol, New Labour lost 8 of the 9 seats it was defending. Bristol elects one third of its seats a year, but the Lib Dems still managed to take overall control of the council – a good response to those who try to terrify people into voting New Labour lest they “Let the Tories in”.

Thanks to Bristol Blogger for his brilliant marathon stint.


In Central Bedfordshire New Labour did not win even one council seat. It is a new council, so direct comparison is difficult.

But from the three overnight counts, New Labour lost 85% of its councillors! I don’t think even the 1920’s Liberals went through this sudden a massacre.

Now to the really unpleasant subject. James Purnell. Fraser Nelson, the crazed neo-con with whom nobody in his home country agrees, praised Purnell (and Blears) in unequivocal terms as a “Great reforming social security minister”.

Purnell’s instincts towards social security were precisely those of Norman Tebbit, only mingled with less compassion. He attempted in effect to reintroduce the Victorian distinction between the deserving and undeserving poor, opposition to which was one of the founding motives of the Labour Party. Like Blair, he had no left wing beliefs, but saw the takeover of a moribund Labour Party as a simple career opportunity.

John Prescott’s description of ‘Not so much a Blairite as a careerite’ is apt, except it misses the fact that the two are synonymous.


There has seldom been a more obvious lie than Purnell’s claim in his resignation letter not to be interested in the leaderhip. If it were true, why say it? (Actually there was a more obvious lie, in Caroline Flint’s interview with Sky News denying that she had ever discussed with anyone giving Gordon the heave-ho. When that woman lies, she starts babbling at a quite incredible pace. I thought they were playing her at the wrong speed).

Purnell is positioning himself for a leadership election after the coming disastrous general election. The interesting thing is that very many of his Cabinet colleagues obviously think he might have a chance. A dozen of them have been interviewed (remember I have been stuck immobile listening all night) and every single one has gone out of their way to stress how much they like James Purnell, what a good friend he is, how they respect him as a minister. They have all parroted the same line, that they simply do not share his judgement in this matter – as though it were a minor difference opinion.

It is not a minor difference of opinion. With the party facing the road to oblivion, Purnell has, purely for career interest, stabbed his leader and his party in the back at the worst possible time. Ordinary Labour members, including the councillors who have virtually all lost their seats, are spitting blood at Purnell. Prescott can spit blood at Purnell because he has no further ambition. But all those cabinet ministers who are still desperately ambitious, are still being desperately nice to Purnell.

Interesting, eh?

This is another example of how MPs have failed to notice that the Westminster village is not the only place that counts. No matter how much the Woodwards and Milibands may want to suck up to Purnell, the activists will not forgive him or Blears, especially during the hard slog of opposition. And the days when New Labour’s “elite” MPs could ignore the views of their constituency activists died a month ago.

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