A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, the Labour Party and Hackney - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Free school meals data

Courtesy of London Councils, data on eligibility and take-up of free school meals in London:

London borough - % taking free school meals - % eligible for free meals
Tower Hamlets - 43% - 52%
Hammersmith and Fulham - 38% - 43%
Islington - 35% - 42%
Camden - 33% - 43%
Hackney - 33% - 39%
Westminster - 33% - 36%
Kensington and Chelsea - 32% - 39%
Lambeth - 32% - 37%
Southwark - 28% - 34%
Haringey - 28% - 33%
Newham - 28% - 33%
Greenwich - 26% - 33%
Wandsworth - 24% - 27%
Brent - 24% - 27%
City of London - 21% - 24%
London average - 21% - 26%
Enfield - 21% - 25%
Lewisham - 21% - 28%
Barking and Dagenham - 20% - 24%
Waltham Forest - 20% - 24%
Ealing - 19% - 24%
Hounslow - 19% - 22%
Croydon - 17% - 21%
Barnet - 16% - 20%
Harrow - 15% - 17%
Redbridge - 14% - 18%
Hillingdon - 13% - 18%
Sutton - 10% - 13%
Bromley - 10% - 12%
Merton - 10% - 12%
Havering - 8% - 11%
Bexley - 8% - 10%
Richmond upon Thames - 7% - 9%
Kingston upon Thames - 6% - 7%

To qualify for free school meals if their parents receive the following support payments:
Income Support (IS);
Income Based Jobseekers Allowance (IBJSA);
Support under part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999; or
Child Tax Credit, provided they do not also receive Working Tax Credit and have an annual income, as assessed by the Inland Revenue that does not exceed £14,155.

Some reactions to the raw numbers:

- Levels of poverty in London are unacceptable - yet elsewhere in the country many people think of London as a wealthy city. The average entitlement to free school meals in England is 16%. In London it's 26%. In Inner London 37%.
- The distribution illustrates some really grossly socially and economically polarised boroughs - Camden, Islington, Kensington & Chelsea, Hammersmith & Fulham, Westminister all have high numbers of the poorest parents living alongside considerable affluence.
- There's a disturbing gap between eligibility and take-up - particularly in the poorest boroughs.

Was it something I said?

The previous post was an interesting exercise in letting the blog write itself. I should have guessed it might provoke a few comments.

I've been away in Kent again over the Bank Holiday then snowed under with work, so apologies for the lack of posts.

Whilst I was otherwise occupied I was pleased to see David Cameron swerve off to the right in a re-run of William Hague and Michael Howard's dog whistle core vote strategy, Gordon Brown doing the right thing re. Iraq, and the great Denis Healey giving a barnstorming interview.

The Guardian's ICM poll on Monday - analysed here - included some fascinating data on regional trends since the 2005 election, based on all their polls since Brown became Leader:

Scotland and Wales, CON 18%, LAB 36%, LDEM 13%, OTH 33%.
North, North-East, North West: CON 26%, LAB 47%, LDEM 22%.
East Midlands, West Midlands, Eastern: CON 40%, LAB 37%, LDEM 17%.
South-East, South West: CON 48%, LAB 28%, LDEM 19%.
London: CON 34%, LAB 48%, LDEM 15%.

The basic story seems to be Labour regaining ground compared to the last General Election in London (heavily - welcome home Guardianistas), the North and Midlands, but losing ground to the Nats in Scotland and Wales. The worrying region is the South, with Labour up a little but the LDs collapsing to the Tories. This is good news in Lab vs LD marginals like Oxford East, doesn't matter much to us in the rural South West seats that are LD vs Con but could be a problem in Con vs Lab marginals if it means the Tories are squeezing the LD vote. I guess we need a county by county poll to really work out the impact - for instance in North Kent where there are 7 or 8 marginals there is so little Lib Dem vote to squeeze that this should not be a big factor.

I think we do need a Southern Strategy though. The person who has looked into this in most detail is John Denham MP. His speech to the Fabians in May that I've linked to is essential reading for anyone in the Labour Party who is serious about us being the one truly national party that can win in every region. If I was Gordon Brown I would be getting Denham and Dorset South MP Jim Knight working on a set of messages and policies and Party regeneration for the South ASAP. Hopefully he already has.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Agreeing with GWB

This will probably inspire a firestorm of protest in the comments, but I actually agree with Bush's comments likening a premature withdrawal from Iraq to the US pull-out from SE Asia - which he thinks was a bad thing.

Like almost everyone on the left I grew up with the idea that the Vietnam War had been a huge folly and an exercise in neo-imperialism.

That was before I ever met anyone Vietnamese and asked them what they thought about it.

Hackney, where I live, is home to the largest community of Vietnamese refugees and their descendants in Western Europe, with community centres such as An Viet (http://www.anvietuk.org) more well known to many Londoners as the home to a wonderful canteen-style restaurant, and the VLC Centre (Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia).

I had the honour of serving as a Labour Councillor with Thanh Vu MBE, the Director of the An Viet Foundation, himself a former victim of the Communist "re-education" camps and a "boat person".

He has this to say on the An Viet website about the experience of the 3 million Vietnamese refugees worldwide:

"More than 30 years ago now, the Government of Vietnam made a grave error.
Instead of reconciling the two sides after more than 30 years of war, the Communists set about ‘re-educating’ million of South Vietnamese soldiers, police and experts.
They confiscated property and forced thousands upon thousands of people into so-called ‘New Economic Zones’.
They even turned on the ethnic Chinese, who had been in Vietnam for countless generations!
They forced them to either flee to China or take their chances in flimsy fishing boats on the high seas. Half those who chose the latter option died en route."

From an immediate postwar Stalinist dictatorship that killed and imprisoned countless people opposed to the regime, Vietnam has morphed into a bizarre Chinese-style amalgam of the worst aspects of both communism and capitalism. When I went there in 2004 I had a fantastic holiday but was deeply disturbed by a country that remained a police state, where Communist Party membership buys you privilege, corruption was rampant, free speech and democracy non-existent, but there was an unfettered free market and virtually no free health care or education provision.

Many Vietnamese in the diaspora and in the south do not believe they were "liberated" from the Americans in 1975. They believe that the Americans abandoned their loyal allies just at the point when the war was militarily winnable - because of domestic political pressure - causing the loss of the civil war against the Communists and untold subsequent misery.

The circumstances in Iraq if the US pulls out - note I'm saying the US as I'm genuinely open-minded about whether the withdrawal of the few thousand Brits in Basra will make any difference militarily - would be infinitely worse than the aftermath of Vietnam in terms of bloodshed, not least because it's a three or four sided, rather than two-sided, conflict.

Is the West ready for the moral responsibility of leaving a power vacuum in Iraq - are we really going to salve our consciences about the original 2003 invasion by pulling out and watching the subsequent bloodbath from afar?

Are we ready to accept millions of Iraqi refugees - equivalents of the Vietnamese Boat People?

Are we ready for - quite aside from the fate of the Iraqis - the security consequences for ourselves and our energy supplies of an Iraq that is either an anarchic warzone of ethnic cleansing or where some strongman comes out on top, or the Iranians run the show?

Pulling out might be the popular way to end an unpopular war like it was in Vietnam. But just as in Vietnam that doesn't make it morally the right thing to do.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Greenwashing Hackney history

This - http://www.green-yes.com/chit_chong.html - says former Hackney Green Councillor Chit Chong - now a backer of the internal campaign for the Greens to have a party leader - was "London's first Green Councillor."

Strange. I could have sworn there were two of them elected in May 1998 in North Defoe Ward. Making him not "London's first Green Councillor" but one of London's first two Green Councillors. Wasn't the other one called Paul Thomas? Now what happened to him and why has he been scrubbed from the annals of Green municipal history?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Why we need the Eurofighter Typhoon


This picture and link - http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6957589.stm - are just a little riposte to all the commentators and pundits - both anti-defence spending Labourites and anti-European defence collaboration Tories - who have criticised the MoD's procurement of the Eurofighter Typhoon over the years. The usual theme has been "it's a Cold War era aircraft, why do we need it now?"
In the picture with the RAF Eurofighter is a Russian Bear strategic bomber. Coming to check out the UK's air defences. Just in a friendly way of course. On Friday last week.
When your strategic rivals from the Cold War start sending Cold War hardware to carry out Cold War era missions probing your airspace, using aircraft that can also carry nuclear bombs, perhaps having bought aircraft good enough to get up there and respond looks like a good idea.

London Selections

Couple of interesting London parliamentary selections coming up.

Walthamstow - which is an All Women Shortlist - timetable was announced today - deadline for candidates to come forward is 7 September, shortlisting 18 October, selection 4 November. The two local frontrunners from within the CLP are CLP Secretary Laura Bruni, who is from the left but a good person who I got on well with when we were both candidates in 2005 in Essex, and my friend and former colleague in the Lewisham Council press office, Stella Creasy, who has been a councillor in the seat and Mayor of Waltham Forest and worked for Douglas Alexander.

Streatham - no decision yet on AWS but expected to be open to both men and women to run. Early frontrunners are Council Leader Steve Reed (Amicus backed), GLA Member Val Shawcross (GMB backed) and CLP Vice-Chair/Compass Executive member Chuka Umunna, who seems to have a talent for self-publicity. The New Statesman's Kevin Maguire says TGWU DGS/Party Treasurer Jack Dromey will run. Kevin's sources are normally accurate so that looks possible. The Streatham selection already has an excellent blog by a local member reporting it in detail: http://lambethlou.blogspot.com/

In both cases there is a strong Lib Dem local government presence and the LDs are in second place, so I hope local members will bear in mind campaigning skills and experience and remember they have to select someone that can fight and hold the seat - not just someone who hopes to waltz effortlessly in to being an MP.

Thank You

The Electoral Commission has just published a list of all the second 1/4 of 2007 donors to the Labour Party. People and organisations gave nearly £5m. I think that is cause for celebration. Their donations pay for Labour to keep organisers in the field, fund our internal democracy, run campaigns and publicise our message.

Peter Kenyon is sniffy about large donations. I don't quite understand why. For me the priority is that there is a level playing field financially between Labour and the Tories. If very rich people want to give a donation to the party fighting for a more equal society that is proportionate to their income, surely that's something to be welcomed? Would Peter rather they spent their spare cash on an extra yacht? Would it be preferable for a millionaire Labour supporter to give a spare million quid to their kids' trust funds or use it to fund the salaries for a year of more than 20 full-time organisers in marginal seats, which might in turn help ensure we get re-elected and the minimum wage carries on going up?

Small donors are vital too and often give a greater percentage of their income than the bigger donors, but it's absurd to think we could easily find an extra 10,000 £100 donors to replace each £1m donor whose money Peter seems to be worried by.

Anyway unlike Peter I want to express my gratitude as a Labour supporter to everyone who gives any money or time to the Labour cause, however large or small an amount, and particularly to these people and organisations listed as the biggest Q2 donors:

TGWU - £664k
Amicus - £506k
Mahmoud Khayami - £500k
UNISON - £362k
Muslim Friends of Labour - £300k
Nigel Doughty - £250k
Ronald Cohen - £250k
Jon Aisbitt - £250k
USDAW - £234k
CWU - £203k

(in the case of the unions listed they actually donated more as they gave a lot of smaller donations to individual CLPs too).

Monday, August 20, 2007

Southwark

The rigour of Lib Dem council candidate panel processes shown yet again in Southwark.

Boris ponders how to tackle crime - LA style

Boris has been taking advice on crime from the Sheriff of LA:

Evening Standard, first edition, 20/8/07

"LA sheriff gives Boris crime lesson
By Paul Waugh, Deputy Political Editor

Boris Johnson will put crime at the heart of his London mayoral campaign after discussing urban policing with the Los Angeles sheriff Lee Baca during his summer break in America, the Evening Standard has learned."

Sheriff Baca is famous for:

a) offering celebrities a police badge and gun as special reserves - according to Wikipedia: "Within a month of Baca swearing in his first new celebrity reserve deputies, one of his recruits had been suspended and relieved of duty for brandishing a firearm in a confrontation outside his Bel-Air home.Less than six months later, another member of the special celebrity reserve unit was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of international money laundering. No well-known celebrities joined the program, and less than 20 little-known wealthy individuals actually participated. It was suspended in November, 2006."

b) Allegedly covering-up Mel Gibson's drunk driving incident http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mel_Gibson_DUI_incident

c) Letting Paris Hilton out of jail early


Great to see Boris has such a high-quality adviser.

Boris vs Boff - a quid a call

Tory Party fundraisers have hit on the wheeze of charging members of the public unable to contain their excitement at the choice between Boris Johnson and Andrew Boff and whoever the other two are a quid a go on a premium rate phone line to vote in their "primary" to find a candidate for Mayor of London.

Hackney resident Mr Boff - defeated by Hackney Labour when he defended his Queensbridge Ward council seat in May 2006 - has sent the email below to the masses. Surprisingly it only got an 8% "Spam Score".

If you were a Tory Party member paying £25 per year to join, would you be happy that you could be outvoted at a pound a go by the various non-Conservative allies of convenience Boff has acquired during his paddle in the murky pond of Hackney opposition politics?:


"-----Original Message-----
From: Andrew Boff
Sent: 08 August 2007 20:05
To: undisclosed-recipients:
Subject: Who faces Livingstone - YOU decide [Spam score: 8%]

Who faces Livingstone? YOU decide.
If you live in London you can, for £1, help get me selected as the Tory Candidate for Mayor to face Ken Livingstone in the London elections next year. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BE A CONSERVATIVE. http://www.conservatives.com/tile.do?def=news.story.page&obj_id=137747
As Mayor I would:
End the obsession with building high-rise one and two bedroomed flats and ensure that new homes should be family homes;
Draft legislation to protect small retailers from the unfair competition of chain stores;
Commission a design for 'A bus for London' rather than just import 'bendy buses';
Support local communites [sic] who want smaller, less remote Borough councils;
Insist that Boroughs provide more meaningful activities for our disengaged young people;
Fight against the damage to the environment that overdevelopment and the Olympics threaten; Introduce a procedure whereby citizens would be able to, on raising a petition of a proportion (10% to 30%) of voters on the electoral register, place a proposition to Londoners at the next ordinary election. The result would be binding on the Mayor and the GLA. This means REAL power to the people.
If you phone*:
0906 555 5050
and leave your name and address you will get a ballot paper posted to you in September.Any registered elector in London can vote.

Why not let your address book know?
Andrew--
Andrew Boff
07778 059 290
Mayoral Campaign 2008
andrew@AndrewBoff.com
http://andrewboff.com

"he is one of the most interesting of the people who have battled to become the Tory mayoral candidate. . His appeal will be that, instead of a celebrity ego tripper, Londoners will prefer a competent mayor." The Daily Telegraph, Robert Shrimsley (17th December 1999)
* Calls cost £1.00p per minute from a BT Landline, other operators & networks may vary. iTouch ( UK ) Ltd. EC2A 4PF Promoted by Andrew Boff, 39 Bocking Street, London E8 3GL."

Defender of the faith

Not only is local government in East London afflicted by Respect, and further out east, the BNP, we also have to deal with at least two varieties of Christian political movement. The more hard line one, "The Christian Party, Proclaiming Christ's Lordship" (led by Sinitta's former songwriter, the lyricist of "So Macho", Rev George Hargreaves) ran in my ward in last year's Hackney Council elections, putting out leaflets helpfully insinuating that Tony Blair was a Marxist dialectical materialist rather than a Christian, on the basis he once admitted to having read a book by Trotsky.

The other splinter group is the Christian People's Alliance which has three councillors in Newham. Perhaps that might soon become two councillors though, as one of them has been behaving in a decidedly un-Christian way, being convicted of assaulting two police officers. Whatever happened to turning the other cheek?

Sunday, August 19, 2007

I'm back

Once again apologies for the lack of posting - last week we were on holiday in Oxford staying with my partner Linda's parents.

Once I've ploughed through 300-ish work and 150-ish council emails normal service will resume.

In the mean time I've missed the chance to celebrate Labour's poll lead hitting 10% according to YouGov - the highest lead they have recorded since November 2002.

I also missed Jack McConnell standing down as Scottish Labour Leader - I've got a lot of respect for Jack who was an excellent General Secretary of the Scottish Party before becoming First Minister - and whose solid record in government did not deserve the electoral defeat suffered in the Scottish Parliament elections this year.

As of tonight, his successor looks like it is certain to be Wendy Alexander after the entertaining news that not only can the Hard Left not scrape together 44 MPs to get John McDonnell on the Labour leadership ballot paper, they can't even find 6 MSPs to nominate a candidate for Scottish Leader.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Commiserations

Commiserations to Tower Hamlets Labour Party and candidate former council leader Prof Michael Keith re. yesterday's Shadwell Ward by-election.

Despite a big swing (6.7%) from Respect to Labour, Respect just held on.

Tower Hamlets Borough - Shadwell:
Respect 1512, Lab 1415, Con 476, Lib Dem 98. (May 2006 - Three seats Respect 1851, 1789, 1707, Lab 1287, 1141, 1054, C 723, 670, 605, Lib Dem 226). Respect hold. Swing 6.7% Respect to Lab.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Boris quotes

Some gems from Boris Johnson, the Tory who made me learn to stop worrying and enthuse about Ken:

Boris on Mrs T:
'There is no need here to rehearse the steps of the matricide. Howe pounced. Heseltine did his stuff. After it was all over, my wife, Marina, claimed that she came upon me, stumbling down a street in Brussels, tears in my eyes, and claiming that it was as if someone had shot Nanny.' (Lend me your ears p13)

On the left:
‘Lefties are fundamentally interested in coercion and control, and across British society you can see the huge progress they are now making in achieving their objectives: in the erosions of free speech and civil liberties that are taking place under this government, in the ever more elaborate regulation of the workplace, the ban on hunting, smacking, smoking.’ (Have I got views for you p153)

Pro-hunting:
‘All the warning we had was a crackling of the alder branches that bend over the Exe, and the stag was upon us. I can see it now, stepping high in the water, eyes rolling, tongue protruding, foaming, antlers streaming bracken and leaves like the hat of some demented old woman, and behind it the sexual, high pitched yipping of the dogs. You never saw such a piteous or terrible sight…
‘I remember the guts streaming, and the stag turds spilling out onto the grass from within the ventral cavity. Then they cut out the heart and gave it to my six-year-old brother, still beating, he claimed ever afterwards, or still twitching, and he went home singing “We’ve got the heart! We’ve got the heart!” so we cooked it up with a bit of flour and the German au pair left the next day.
‘No you don’t need to tell me that hunting with hounds is cruel! We don’t need some report by scientists to show that the animals suffer “stress”. No one looking at that deer could deny that this was a sentient being in the extremity of suffering. This wasn’t the stopping of some Cartesian clock. This was savagery…
‘When the 80,000 or so marchers for the preservation of country sports arrive in Hyde Park tomorrow, they will have my support…
‘the strongest argument for protecting the Devon and Somerset stag-hounds – and I pick the staghounds because those are the ones I have observed the closest and which are, in the popular imagination, even more brutal than the fox-hounds. The best argument in favour of keeping them is that hunting is the best for the deer.’ (Lend me your ears p413)

'I will never vote to ban hunting. It is a piece of spite that has nothing to do with animal welfare, and everything to do with Blair's manipulation of rank-and-file Labour chippiness and class hatred.' (Friends, voters, countrymen p146)

On China:
‘Chinese cultural influence is virtually nil, and unlikely to increase… Indeed, high Chinese culture and art are almost all imitative of western forms: Chinese concert pianists are technically brilliant, but brilliant at Schubert and Rachmaninov. Chinese ballerinas dance to the scores of Diaghilev. The number of Chinese Nobel prizes won on home turf is zero, although there are of course legions of bright Chinese trying to escape to Stanford and Caltech… It is hard to think of a single Chinese sport at the Olympics, compared with umpteen invented by Britain, including ping-pong, I’ll have you know, which originated at upper-class dinner tables and was first called whiff-whaff. The Chinese have a script so fiendishly complicated that they cannot produce a proper keyboard for it.’ (Have I got views for you p277)

On Mandela:
‘Mandela never accepted the Swiss-style constitution he [de Klerk] proposed; and last year, fed up with being marginalized, de Klerk quit the government. He must have known that this would happen, that the minority tyranny of apartheid would be followed by the majority tyranny of black rule.’ (Lend me your ears p464)

On race relations:
'When I shamble around the park in my running gear late at night, and I come across that bunch of black kids, shrieking in the spooky corner by the disused gents, I would love to pretend that I don't turn a hair.
'Now you might tell me not to be such a wuss. You might see that I am no more at risk than if I had come across a bunch of winos. But somehow or other a little beeper goes off in my brain. I'm not sure what triggers it (the sayings of Sir Paul Condon? The Evening Standard?), but I put on a pathetic turn of speed. You might tell me that when they shout their cheery catcalls, I should smile and wave. And, you know, maybe a big girl's blouse like me would break into an equally rapid lollop if it were a gang of white kids.
'Quite possibly. The trouble is I am not sure. I cannot rule out that I have suffered from a tiny fit of prejudice. I have prejudged this group on the basis of press reports, possibly in the right-wing newspapers, about the greater likelihood of being mugged by young black males than by any other group. And if that is racial prejudice, then I am guilty.
'And so are you, baby. So are we all. If there is anyone reading this who has never experienced the same disgraceful reflex, then – well I just don't believe you. It is common ground among both right-wingers and left-wingers that racism is “natural”, in that it seems to arise organically, in all civilisations.' (Lend me your ears p210)

‘It is said that the Queen has come to love the Commonwealth, partly because it supplies her with regular cheering crowds of flag-waving piccaninnies; and one can imagine that Blair, twice victor abroad but enmired at home, is similarly seduced by foreign politeness.'
‘They say he [Blair] is shortly off to the Congo. No doubt the AK47s will fall silent, and the pangas will stop their hacking of human flesh, and the tribal warriors will all break out in watermelon smiles to see the big white chief touch down in his big white British taxpayer-funded bird.’ (Daily Telegraph, 10/01/02)

On the MacPherson Report:
'it is as if the PC brigade, having punched this whole in the Metropolitan Police, having forced this admission, is swarming through to take over the entire system. There has been a whiff of the witch-hunt as the Lawrence road-show tours the country, demanding confessions of racism from senior officers, and excoriating those, like Sir Paul [Condon] who are not prepared to defame their entire force. If, in a few years' time, you were to ask a member of the public: “Who killed Stephen Lawrence?”, the answer would probably be “The Police.” Am I alone is wondering whether a sensible attempt to find justice for the family of Stephen Lawrence has given way to hysteria?' (Lend me your Ears p426)

'Heaven knows why Macpherson made his weird recommendation, that the law might be changed so as to allow prosecution for racist language or behaviour “other than in a public place”. I can't understand how this sober old buzzard was prevailed upon to say that a racist incident might be so defined in the view of the victim “or any other person”. This is Orwellian stuff.
'Not even under the law of Ceaucescu's Romania, could you be prosecuted for what you said in your own kitchen. No wonder the police are already whingeing that they cannot make any arrests in London. No wonder the CPS groans with anti-discrimination units, while making a balls-up of so many cases.' (Lend me your ears p211)

'What about the Ceaucescu-ish recommendation that it should be possible to legislate against racism even in a private place.’ (Lend me your ears p216)

'As for his [Macpherson's] suggestions that there should be more race awareness sessions for the police, and possible adjustments to the national curriculum to stamp out racist attitudes, he [Macpherson] is vehement that this should not be exaggerated.' (Lend me your ears p217)

‘we could probably achieve the same results, if not better, if we axed large chunks of the anti-racism industry, stopping taxing so many people with the threat of legal action, and left a bit more of the struggle against racism to tolerance and good manners.' (Lend me your ears p212)

On affordable housing:
'the solution actually being deployed, which is to build some affordable housing, and designate it specifically for the use of local people. For instance, South Oxfordshire District Council can require that, if there is a new development, it should contain a proportion of “starter homes”, and it can ensure that exceptions are made to normal planning rules to build social housing. You can see the problems already. How can you tell who is “local”? How can you stop the market from asserting itself, as it always will, and tempting the owners eventually to achieve the real value of the property? And what, above all, do you do with the Nimbies.' (Friends, voters, countrymen p74)

On gay marriage:
'if gay marriage was OK – and I was uncertain on the issue – then I saw no reason in principle why a union should not be consecrated between three men, as well as two men; or indeed three men and a dog.' (Friends, voters, countrymen p96)

On the welfare state:
'With £90 billion circulating through the tax and benefit system, and with one in three households receiving a major benefit, Beveridge's plan has become like the Common Agricultural Policy. People feel silly, indeed irresponsible towards their families, if they pass up their chance to take a slice of the enormous communal pie, especially while everyone else is doing the same. The logical answer might be to apply free market principles, and attack this irrational system of subsidy, the excessive disbursements that warp honest people.' (Lend me your ears p412)

On inequality:
Conservatives 'accept that material inequality is inevitable, and that trouble comes from too zealous an attempt to change this.' (Lend me your ears p126)

On his concerns about a Labour win in 1997:
'Golly it occurs to you: no more minimum wage. The polls had been so confidently predicting a Labour victory that you had already made provision to pay your workers at lease £4.10 an hour, putting up your costs and greatly reducing your ability to re-invest. Your mood lifts a notch higher at the thought…You close your eyes, and then you remember that the Social Chapter won't be coming into force after all. Hmm. None of that mandatory four week holiday for the staff, none of that ridiculously compulsory paid paternity leave, none of those extra non-wage costs.... And then another happy thought strikes you. Your children are at a local grammar school, and you had been dreading that Labour imposed ballot about abolishing selective admissions... It has to be said, you reflect, that you have been spared Labour's windfall tax on utility profits.' (Lend me your ears p104)


Not just a twit, but a reactionary dangerous twit whose candidature is a rejection of all the values that London stands for.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Akehurst on Campbell

My review of the Alastair Campbell diaries is on Progress here:

http://www.progressonline.org.uk/Magazine/article.asp?a=1907

Free Advert for the Kent Tourist Board

Apologies for the lack of posting over the last week, we were on holiday, staying with my parents down in Canterbury, and their home is an internet free zone.

I won't subject you all to a series of restaurant reviews but will take the opportunity to plug my home County as a holiday destination.

Quite aside from the beautiful scenery in the Garden of England and a micro-climate that makes it one of the warmest bits of the country, there are great beaches at Broadstairs, Margate and Dymchurch, fantastic seafood at Whitstable and my son Jed, who like a lot of 1 3/4 year olds is obsessed by Thomas the Tank Engine and "choo choos" in general, had a fantastic time on the mini steam trains of the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway. He also loved Howletts Zoo.

 
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