A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - 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.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Winner of idiotic remark of the weekend award

... goes to Tory Cabinet Minister Sayeeda Warsi for this - http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1358680/Storm-Sam-Cams-community-centre-axed-Labour.html - the suggestion that it is Camden Council Leader Nasim Ali's fault that the Surma community centre in his borough is shutting due to its grant being cut, because it could have received the £100,000 he has received in allowances since 2007.

It's difficult to know where to start dissecting this moronic intervention:

- until last year Camden was led by a Coalition of Lib Dems and Tories so they were trousering all the main Special Responsibility Allowances and were responsible for setting the pay and allowances Sayeeda is raging about
- Cllr Ali's allowances from 2007 to 2011 have presumably already been spent by him so are not available to fund the Surma Centre next year or in any other future year
- the figure of £100k quoted was over four years so only a fraction of it is available to offset the £125k grant Surma lost - and Warsi has also included guesstimates of hospitality from third parties Nasim has declared - tickets to concerts a couple of years ago are unfortunately not much use for funding community centres now
- Camden had its funding from central government cut so much it has to find £100m in savings over the next few years - don't sit in the Cabinet and sign off draconian cuts to CLG then act affronted when a project you like inevitably falls victim
- Cllr Ali is, as far as I understand it, the full-time Leader of Camden. His allowances are what he lives off. If you think he shouldn't be paid, then don't be a hypocrite Sayeeda, set an example - you, Cameron, Pickles et al could work for free (like Lord Wei did) and your ministerial salaries could be used to reduce cuts to public spending (I believe Sayeeda gets £55k as a Peer - enough to fund about 40% of the Surma's running costs if she gave it to them, the PM gets £142k and Pickles £134k).

Baroness Warsi et al need to come up with a consistent message. They can't proclaim local government and the state as a whole are bloated and need to be trimmed back to cut the deficit, then weep crocodile tears when community projects they like the sound of get their funding axed. You made the political choices that have caused these cuts, dear Tories and Lib Dems, now have the guts to defend your decisions.


Blogger Adam Higgitt said...

I worked for the Labour Group of a particularly cash-strapped south Wales Council in the late 1990s and no meeting of the Group was complete without at least one member proposing to restrict the number of mobile phones held by officers - as if the few thousand this would save could address the £17 million shortfall we faced.

I used to roll my eyes at that. So imagine how I feel when I find that the government of the UK appears to believe that the entire local government spending reduction can be met by reducing the pay of council Chief Execs and the allowances of Leaders.

7:12 am, February 20, 2011

Blogger Tim said...

But this is just their typical strategy. Create stories about mythical "non jobs", pick up odds and ends of expenditure and quote them out of context, and refuse to ever, ever seriously engage in a debate about just what the real level of cuts mean for councils and the impossibility of delivering them without damaging vital community services. And imply that every public servant is a wasteful drain on tax payers resources unless it falls within a narrow group of what they choose to define as 'front line'.

The real surprise, as ever, is not that the Tories are doing this, but that their Lib Dem "useful idiots" who are supposed to believe in local democracy are happy to go along with it.

10:38 am, February 20, 2011

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's be real about this situation. Clearly some Labour council's will direct the cuts to where they will most embarrass the government. On the other hand, the government will kick back pointing out alleged waste in other areas.

It is all called politics and it is about point scoring and vote grabbing. There are no totally good guys, anymore than their are totally bad. Just politicians and their games.

It is we the public who are the losers.

10:59 am, February 20, 2011

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Labour councillors should make a stand and refuse to make the cutbacks!

1:48 pm, February 20, 2011

Anonymous Unmesh Desai said...

Luke,I too was gobsmacked,reading this nonsense in the Mail.Is this what they think of the intelligence of their readership?!!!
I must say-and I know and respect your position on AV,one you have articulated well on your blog in the past-that I wasn't that impressed with Andrew Rawnsley's bit in the Observer which describes those of us supporting first-past-the-post relying upon the'Thicko Vote',thatwe think most Britons arec stupid! I expect such errrant nonsense from the right-wing tabloids but surely not from the Observer!!!

6:05 pm, February 20, 2011

Anonymous Anonymous said...

why doesnt she give up her Lords allowence to pay for it

in fact we should match her for every £ she gives up

And what about Pickles new £70k Ministerial Jag (specially adapted)if we are tightening belts

11:19 pm, February 20, 2011

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Warsi criticised Mr Ed for the manner of his election eventhough she had never been elected to anything in her life.

One other point, the comparison of council chief execs with the pay of the prime minister is an oft-quoted irrelevance. How many such people get free accommodation and can then make a mint out of their memoirs and the lecture circuit?

Answer: None

4:52 pm, February 21, 2011

Blogger southhackneypunter said...

As we all know, in America the extremist (sometimes almost 'David-Ickian') wing of the Republicans has differentiated itself from mainstream and moderate Republicanism by referring to itself as the 'Tea Party'; due to the US primary system the Tea Party can pretty much pose as a separate, far-right party whilst remaining firmly within the Republican caucus.

Over here, I increasingly believe the current Conservative front-bench team is, in effect, doing the same thing, acting as a sort of 'British Tea Party' within the Conservatives.

For me the Coalition's tactics mirror the behaviour of the Tea Party, eg - a constant ad-libbing of unattributable 'factoids' used to justify policies; a refusal to engage in debate or to correct inaccuracies but to merely repeat them louder at the next interview; making themselves available only to friendly journalists or else to none at all; endless, almost Tolkeinesque, references to idyllic village constituencies (a bit like the Tea Party's grizzly bear wilderness myth), villages they claim in which true Big Society volunteers supposedly dash to put up bunting for the vicar's egg-and-spoon race and thus demonstrate their aptitude for running major schools and hospitals.

In the US fiscal regulators have now started to disqualify from office Tea Party amateurs whose fanatic ideology merely translates into complete budgetary incompetence as soon as they get into power.

Over here however the frontbench Tory team's equally crazy behaviour (a good recent example of which was Hague's off-the-wall announcement that Ghaddafi had 'flown to Venezuela') sadly appears to still be being taken seriously.

8:44 pm, February 23, 2011


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