Archive for September 2008

Let’s Move The Conference Season to Somewhere Practical

September 27, 2008

I’m currently in Birmingham, having attended a few meetings on Friday, and flying back up to Edinburgh tonnight. I’m not staying for the party conference, but I do want to make one observation. The area around the ICC in Birmingham, where the Conservative Party are holding their conference, is awash with police every 10 yards, barriers at every junction, and generally making this party of the city a bit of a headache for locals.

Irrespective of who is paying for the policing and associated paraphernalia (I seem to recall Labour’s Conference this year cost around £5 million in policing, does anyone have concrete numbers?) it seems to be a rather large waste of money to get (a) all the party in one place and (b) get some pretty pictures for the television. For parties that are hoping to spend our money, wouldn’t it be nice if they thought out the box and did it a little differently?

With all the military bases in the country either mothballed or half-empty as troops are in foreign theatres, why not hold the conferences in these establishments? A number of them are close to good transport links, there’s clearly enough accommodation for all the attendees, the various Mess Halls can handle catering and evening entertainment, and the policing/security should be much reduced. Disruption to residents would be minimal, and both (a) and (b) above would still happen. In fact I doubt those on TV would really notice the difference.

And there’s something nice about the image of having everyone behind barbed wire…


Policy #1: Don’t Vote For The Other Lot

September 24, 2008

Tom Morris Harris might be more than happy that the result of Gordon Brown’s conference speech was “How on earth could anyone vote for that lot [the Conservatives]?” From the party in Government I find this rather poor form.

I want to hear why I should grant your party power to rule over us for the next term of Office. I want to hear what you’re going to do differently from the last 11 years. I want to know what you will spend our money on. I want to hear what mistakes you have made because I believe that if you can recognise and correct your own mistakes you are a far better person/team than those who carry on doing the same thing again and again hoping for a difference.

I know you could easily dismiss this blog post through your pre-emptive “This is a move that is so going to wind up every Tory – and especially every cyber-Tory – in the country.” But I don’t want to be told you should be in charge because “the other lot are horrible.” There’s every chance you’re just as horrible, but by refusing to tell us, you make yourself look worse as a party than those you are tarring and feathering.

Meanwhile, Over In America…

September 22, 2008

Anyone with any political blood runnign through them can’t help having at least half an eye on the US Presidential election, and it’s with that thought that I want to point out Danny O’Brien’s Electoral Guide for the Brits.

First, despite all the freaking out and revelling in the last week or two, Obama is still seen as the favourite. But like 2000, it’s all very close. Second, the battleground states this year aren’t Florida and Ohio — at the moment it’s more complex than that, partly because Obama’s team want it to be more complex than that.

O’Brien himself is from the UK, but has been safely wrapped up in California for many a year now, but he’s still got the delightfully light touch he had at the UK’s greatest Tech-sheet, NTK (Need to Know)…

But can McCain break into the cache of delicious Kerry states and scrump one while Obama is out hunting for Bush states? Maaaaaaaybe. That’s certainly what he’s been doing with Palin in the last few days. The best targets here are New Hampshire (4 votes), Michigan (a yummy 17), and Pennsylvania (21 votes). These are the states that currently lean most Republican out of the Kerry states.

The full guide to the college vote from O’Brien can be found here.

Who’s Next In The Labour Resignation Game?

September 16, 2008

I’ll write up some more thoughts on the current drip… drip… drip… that the Parliamentary Labour Party are going though at the moment, but I wanted to point out one thing in the rapidly changing atmosphere.

Now David Cairns has gone, everyone is looking for, nay expecting someone else, slightly further up the political chain. The name Caroline Flint is being pushed in some quarters. If you, like some, are thinking that a certain Dr John Reid is behind this manoeuvring, then you would be shocked to discover who his PPS was in 2002-2003… yes, you’re right.

Caroline Flint.

Alcohol’s Minimum Age Change to 21 Ignores Enforcement

September 3, 2008

Whenever I visit America, I invariably travel through Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, and stop off at one of the concourse Bar and Grills. One of the things that I notice, but it perfectley acceptable by most of the domestic travellers is that whenever someone asks for an alcoholic drink, they are asked for ID (which of course as their date of birth on it). Even the couple who appear to be of pensionable age are carded, and think nothing of it.

In all the debate about the raising of the age where adults can buy alcholo outwith a club or bar from 18 to 21, the issue of the enforcement of the current 18 year old limit seems to have been lost. It’s all well and good proposing new laws, but if it is not enforced, it’s just as usless as the previous one.

We have enough items of ‘soft’ ID that can be used to prove someone’s age that I would much rather see the idea of ‘carding everyone’ brought over from the States to Scotland, than a new law that makes good headlines but fundamentally doesn’t address the underage drinking problem that Scotland clearly has.