Monday, June 01, 2009

June more 'flaming' than usual.

Been away for two days - and depressingly nothing seems to have changed. The only issue on the lips of the nation remains the expenses that MPs have been claiming. I've just watched Newsnight. A focus group gave exactly the sort of take on the issue that I reckon the public overwhelmingly takes. I try not to be partisan about this issue, but I did think Harriet Harmon was awful tonight, and would have reassured absolutely no-one. She only came on to answer questions that Jeremy didn't want to ask. All this 'diversionary' discussion about constitutional reform is passing people by. What they want is a say about who should be Members of Parliament. The people of Britain do not trust our MPs to sort anything out. The people want to sort it out themselves. This lack of trust and confidence will not go away until there is a General Election.

I really do not believe that Gordon Brown has any idea how people feel. As I was driving home today, I heard him on the car radio, adopting a Churchillian tone to announce that any Labour MP who had broken the rules, or broken the law would not be a candidate at the next election. I reckon he genuinely believes that this is a significant statement. Its totally meaningless. Almost every revelation made by the Telegraph over the last month has been 'within the rules', and has broken no rule or law.

The next 10 days are going to be an interesting period in British politics. Polls are putting Labour support as low as 18%. Hard to believe this can possibly be true. If it happens, what then. Alistair Darling period as Chancellor looks to be over. Gordon Brown would not give him support tonight. I would not be surprised if Mr Darling tells the Prime Minister where he can stuff any other job offered. Perhaps he might tell us about what Gordon Brown had done to his cricket bat, before he went out to open the innings on budget day. Wouldn't be the first apparently 'gentle' politician to do that. Hazel Blears must surely go as well, after the way the Prime Minister rubbished her two weeks ago. Geoff Hoon and James Purnell avoided paying CGT in much the same way. Problem is that when one MP is forced to pay the CGT that was not paid (or due) by designating their main home as different from the information given to the Fees Office, there are questions about others who have done the same thing. Mr Hoon looks to be in bother for other reasons as well. The problem in any re-shuffle is that very few members of the Cabinet have the confidence of the public, and anyone promoted is going to have their expenses history studied forensically all over again. I think we are entering new territory in British politics - and none of us can predict which way its going to go in the month of June. Still think we might have promise (or at least a clear indication) of a General Election in October.


alanindyfed said...

On a positive note these events herald a triumph for democracy. They signify that more power should devolve to the people and, despite attempts to stifle it, transparency will henceforth become obligatory in the corridors of power.
"The only way to restore authority to the people is to give more power to the devolved institutions."
Ieuan Wyn Jones

1) An Assembly for Cornwall
2) A parliament for Wales and northern Ireland
3) Independence for Scotland following a referendum

That is the beginning......and it is the future.

Anonymous said...

Plaid and SNP are using their time next week tom debate the dissolution of parliament.
It will be interesting to see who, if anyone backs them.

Former human GPCR man said...

Accept that Assembly Members also receive substantial expense packages and some even charge for meals. It is like they are in a class of their own - separate from the people they represent. A political elite class - the Welsh Assembly is acting like scenes out of George Orwell's Animal Farm.

While some AMs had a field day with some money spend on an iPod, "there's them" spending thousands of pounds at tax payer expense on food going down their gullets, because it is "normal to have expenses for food while away from home".

Funny, I lived in Glasgow while my primary residence was in Cardiff. I never got a bean for travel (the distance from Cardiff the capital of Wales and Glasgow is greater than the distance between any two points in Wales), not a bean for meals away from home, not a bean towards renting a room in a flat share, not a bean for phoning home and I was working on predicting the 3D structure of the human dopamine receptors that play a critical role in human brain chemistry.

I had no money to see Scotland beyond Glasgow (which is a great city, a wonderful city, so Glasgow made up for everything). I couldn't go home one Christmas, I didn't have the money for the train fare and it was simply too far to hitch. When working in London I used to hitch regularly from Gabalfa roundabout to London where I had my first job after college - I could almost guarantee getting a ride Sunday evenings because so many Welsh people were leaving Cardiff to commute back to London for another week working away from home. I had a couple of close calls, and a lorry driver tried it on (though I didn't realize what he was doing until I got out of his cab and walked back to a roundabout and 'thought about it' – he dropped me off about five minutes walk from the motorway, which was strange in itself).

I used to hitch from a roundabout that I walked to from Shepherd's Bush - I recall knowing it as "Chiswick Roundabout" (but I don’t think that was it’s name) – I stood at a garage on a feeder road to the elevated part of the M4 heading west out of London. So long as I got to my spot no later than 7.30PM I usually got a ride all the way back to Cardiff, one guy who picked me up actually drove me all the way to my parent's house - he lived in Cyncoed.

But hitching rides from Glasgow would mean at least one night sleeping rough under an elevated roundabout hoping for a ride next morning. There are few things worse than being stuck at a roundabout away from a large town hoping for a ride - even to a service station, anywhere but that roundabout. I've slept under quite a few bridges and got dropped off at the side of a motorway where it is illegal to be dropped off (the driver said 'this is where I go and this is where u get off' - this after asking him before I got into his mini that he would be able to drop me off legally at a roundabout, not on the side of the motorway, but at a roundabout off the motorway).

And we have AMs who have second homes or who get expenses for travel or for their second home even though they live within one hour travel time of Cardiff.

Sorry, but I don't see how Ieuan Wyn Jones is 'talking sense' (line from Talking Heads).

Is this political posturing and opportunism from the Deputy First Minister? What a surprise.

Former human GPCR man said...

Make that "Accept" "Except" ... oopps ... too much time at the coal face.

alanindyfed said...

Dalesman :
many will back them; do you realise the extent of public anger? I will back them, Independence Cymru backs them; nationalist bloggers will back them; Sinn Fein will back them and if a poll were taken I reckon a majority of the public would back them. If I have heard rightly, the Conservative and Lib Dem parties would back them.

Anonymous said...

Lets hope some of our MPs end up in another house, namely the Big House where they serve porridge for breakfast.

Fraud, False Accounting, defrauding HM Revenue and Customs...

Some bird is called for

alanindyfed said...

There is a special place for retiring and resigning cabinet ministers and secretaries of state. It's called "The Cuckoo's Nest". The only drawback is that it is funded by Taxpayers' money.

Glyn Davies said...

Alan - I do not think that current events will have any impact whatsoever on the developments you refer to. What might make a difference would be a meaningful commitment by IWJ that a referendum on Part 4 of the Government of Wales Act is going to be held.

Dalesman - Seems that all oposition parties may be supporting this.

Former human - I've always thought it odd that there should be an allowance for food. You have to eat wherever you are! I claimed for support to live in Cardiff while I was an AM, and for travelling, but never anything for food.

Anon - Where any MP is found guilty of fraud, It could well be that jail sentences will be handed down.