Even now, they don't get the point
Immigration is a subject that brings out the best and the worst – but usually the worst – in people, with its undertones of racism, xenophobia and "little Englanditis" all rolled into one. For that reason, it has been easy for the political classes to suppress discussion, simply by invoking the natural guilt at being associated with an anti-immigration agenda that is most often linked with extremists such as the BNP.
Law Making Assembly on its way.
Yesterday saw the first step on the road to a law making National Assembly for Wales. Since the people of Wales voted in favour of devolution on Sept.18th 1997, I have believed this type of Assembly is the only logical constitution for Wales. The current arrangement is not worthwhile. Not all members of my own political party agree with me about this - but I genuinely believe that at some stage a majority will, and it will eventually become Conservative Party policy.
Brown is having tent trouble
When Gordon Brown first announced the outsiders he had recruited to his ‘ministry of all the talents’ there was much chuckling in Westminster about whether Digby Jones or Mark Malloch Brown would be the first minister to be sacked. Early on, Malloch Brown moved into pole position with an insufferably pompous interview in the Telegraph that caused Brown all sorts of problems in Washington and led to a public slapping down of the over-mighty junior by his boss David Miliband. But now Comrade Digby must be the bookie’s favourite.
Douglas Alexander is not guilty says Gordon Brown.
At long last former Scottish Secretary Douglas Alexander has apologised for making a total hash of the May elections. However, Gordon Brown told the Commons that Douglas Alexander was not at fault and accused the Conservatives of misleading the people. If that is true, why did Dougie apologise? He told the house: "I, of course, apologise for any actions or omissions on my part which contributed to the problems encountered in the Scottish elections."
Who really cares about Europe?
Polls seem to suggest the EU is a big issue for voters. David Cameron should be wary, though, as the figures may be misleading.
The fine art of PMQs
Gordon Brown took another pasting in the Commons yesterday, so what is it about prime minister's questions that sets him stuttering?
Brown Lost All Credibility Today
Today's PMQs has been rather overshadowed by the speaker having to call for temperate language from Gordon Brown (over an issue, by the way, on which Cameron was quite simply correct; there is a much greater responsibility incumbent on the minister who took a decision than on the parties who didn't object, which the report (pdf) makes pretty clear). But I thought it was just worth pointing out that Vince did rather better, to my mind, than he did last week.
It appears that the recent highs the Tories experienced are down to very recent - and probably temporary - swings to the Conservatives from the Lib Dems. As recently as September, the Tories were polling at 33% with the LDs at 16%. My interpretation of that most recent poll is this: When presented with a possible general election - one that Labour was likely to win - more of the 62% of people that oppose the government decided to rally round the Conservatives as the best chance of preventing a Labour victory. It was, in effect, an instinctive and paniced reflex.
David Cameron has now hoisted himself by his own petard. He's had to admit that once Brown/Parliament have ratified the latest EU Treaty, it will be 'too difficult' to hold a retrospective referendum. So, that's that issue neutralised, in that Cameron will be unable to use it as a campaigning issue in the run-up to the general election. Also he is now under fire from the Europhobes in his party for this latest admission. Marvellous! I love it when a plan falls apart.
How to get women on the ballot
Nan Sloane (Leeds, Centre for Women and Democracy): Does it really matter that only 19.8% of our MPs are women, that women constitute a mere 31% of local councillors, and that BME women are even more poorly represented at these levels? After all, women have the vote, and are free to stand for local councils or parliament if they want to. If they don’t choose to, why should it be a problem? Or, let’s put it another way. Can a representative democracy in which - for whatever reason - 51% of the population is under-represented truly be called either representative or democratic?
Who’ll come out of this row best?
Will a U-turn help Gord or not? An issue on which the Lib Dems have been making the running, the plan to take away 5% of school budget surpluses, was used by David Cameron at PMQs yesterday for his first line of attack against Gordon Brown.The Tory leader said that it was “unjust, an ill-conceived idea” which undermines governors’ authority.
Global Population Control
Global over-population is the real issue
It is a tragic measure of how far the world has changed and the infinite capacity of modern man for taking offence that there are no two subjects that can get you more swiftly into political trouble than motherhood and apple pie. The last time I tentatively suggested that there was something to be said in favour of apple pie, I caused a frenzy of hatred in the healthy-eating lobby. It reached such a pitch that journalists were actually pelting me with pies, and demanding a retraction, and an apology, and a formal denunciation of the role of apple pie in causing obesity.