I wrote a couple of days ago about Nick Clegg and 'behind closed doors' electoral pacts. At least the Lib Dem candidate for London Mayor is putting his cards on the table. Brian Paddick, following the news that a poll for the Evening Standard (surprise, surprise, large pinch of salt over shoulder) puts Boris Johnson on 44%, Ken Livingstone on 38%, himself on 12% and the Green candidate on 4% of first preference votes, said:
Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. So said Lord Acton in 1887. Could he have been thinking of the office of Mayor of London? I have just watched Martin Bright's Dispatches on Channel 4. I had not realised the sheer scale of the waste inflicted by Mayor Livingstone. If even half the allegations Bright made are true then Livingstone deserves to be toast at the May elections. He has set up "embassies" in China and India and plans to open one in Venezuela. These alone cost London taxpayers millions a year.
Who do we support for London Mayor?
Given Martin Bright’s documentary on Channel 4 last night (I was out, didn’t get to watch), who should be supported for London Mayor? Ken is still the only left-wing candidate for London. Paddick is somewhat leftist on some issues and Boris Johnson is an annoying buffoon. I’d rather eat my monitor than support the latter. Fellow conspirator Dave Osler’s written this defence of Socialist Action and isn’t a fan of Nick Cohen, saying:
Vote Ken with no illusions
I've just watched the Martin Bright programme on Ken Livingstone on Channel 4's Dispatches. I didn't think much of it as a piece of journalism - superficial, one-sided and in places - such as criticising Ken for promoting London to the EU, China and India, or for spending money on advertising and PR, just silly. The parading of a disillusioned ex-employee, Lib Dem MP Lynne Featherstone, and Mark Wadsworth (who I believe has an axe to grind) was hardly illuminating.
The Guardian turns on Ken
The Guardian leader today gets to the essence of the Ken Livingstone issue: "He performed brilliantly in the wake of the July 7 bombs, a unifying source of strength and common sense. But since that moment, surely the high point of his career, his habit of sustained insurgency has slid into an unattractive and partisan arrogance." And their conclusion? "But if Mr Livingstone wants to hold on to office, he should stop picking fights with the very many Londoners who hope that he can mend his ways. Holding the capital hostage with the understandable threat that Mr Johnson will be worse is a foolish way to test the public's patience."
How much silver, Martin?
This is one of those occasions when my fingers pummel the keys on my laptop so hard they nearly embed themselves in the circuit boards. Where do I begin? Today the New Statesman's political editor has used a column in the Evening Standard to call on voters to kick Labour's London Mayor out of office. That's not the Political Editor of The Spectator. It's the New Statesman. Yep, their meant to be on our side.
Our government has spoken
While the House of Commons was busy giving away more powers to our central government in Brussels, that government was sending out a stern message to Mr Darling, our state treasurer, that he had better watch his step over Northern Rock. The Forbes financial news agency was one of the very few to carry the report, which has the EU commission saying it will "analyse under strict EU aid rules" any new British government support for Northern Rock.
Descent into recession?
Global stock-markets have plummeted today, with the FTSE 100 share index suffering its largest one-day drop since September 11th, 2001; losing more than 5% of its value. The falls – which are being mirrored by rapid price drops for commodities such as oil – are being spurred by a fear of a recession in the US.
Could this change things on both sides of the Atlantic?
Who’ll come out best when there is so much uncertainty? After a day which saw the Northern Rock bailout plan, the start of the EU treaty process in the Commons and the Channel 4 programme on Ken’s record as Mayor these are the headlines in the “serious” papers this morning. It’s hard to focus on a specific political theme because, as Simon Hoggart in the Guardian puts is “..Outside in the real world the stock market was melting down..”
Go back to Gorbals, Mick
For how much longer do we have to be saddled with the inept Michael Martin as Speaker of the House of Commons? Gorbals Mick should never have been Speaker in the first place: by convention, Betty Boothroyd should have been followed by an opposition MP but the Labour whips chose to ignore convention for reasons of partisan self-interest.
Vince Cable - the people's hero
Many thanks indeed to Stephen Tall on Liberal Democrat Voice for highlighting Vince Cable's Commons speech on Northern Rock this afternoon. It is priceless. A devastating and hilarious critique of the government. It should be framed. I make no apologies for repeating it:
Yesterday’s EU Treaty proceedings explained
Yesterday’s vote and proceedings in the Commons show the grim reality that unless the Lib Dems honour their promise of a referendum there is no chance of us gaining one. Yesterday was the Second Reading. The issue was simply – do you want this Bill and this Treaty at all? Conservatives and 19 Labour rebels voted against the Bill and Treaty in its entirely. Lib Dems and the rest of the Labour party voted for it, giving them a huge majority.
Miliband: ‘Bishops support the Treaty of Lisbon’
To Cranmer’s total incredulity (and, judging by the howls of laughter, to that of the entire House of Commons), this was a line which the Foreign Secretary gave to the House of Commons as evidence for the innate goodness of the Treaty of Lisbon, and as a substantive reason for the House to support it. His Grace is dumbfounded:
Second reading of the EU (amendment) Bill.
The debate into the second reading of the EU (amendment) Bill as started and Miliband is getting a good old fashioned roasting. Ian Paisley made a very good statement when he pointed out that the governments of Scotland and Northern Ireland are against the Treaty.
The referendum question
I have to admit to remaining of the view that if the Lib Dems are in favour of a referendum on our continued membership of the EU, which we apparently are, then if that option looks as if it will get nowhere (which it does) we should be supporting the next best option, a referendum on the Reform Treaty. The fact that we’ve consistently failed to enthuse the public about the EU should not be a reason for refusing to face the music.
Parliament at its worst
If you want to understand why MPs are so unpopular, take a close look now. Today, the House of Commons began the process of ratifying a treaty that not one of its 646 members has read. I say this with some certainty, because I have spent months trying to keep up with the text, whose clauses are regularly shuffled around and renumerated more or less for the sole purpose of confusing its critics. I am like a cartoon character with straining matchsticks propping up my eyelids.
Sheffield Tories claim Nick Clegg’s ‘first clanger’
Sheffield’s Tories appear to be continuing their crusade to cut poverty and health inequality in Sheffield by getting street lights repaired more promptly, roads repaired a little quicker (which in Sheffield will still be an age) and by cutting the grass in local parks a bit more. The reason I say this now is because of a bizarre attack by a former Sheffield Tory, (now living in Brent), Richard Holloway, where he accuses Nick Clegg of ‘dropping a clanger’ because he believes that improving the health of the city’s population might be just that little more complicated than their proposals.