July 2009 Archives
THERE'S no doubting that when Esther Rantzen puts her mind to something, it usually gets done.
Look at Childine, a superb project which has helped tens of thousands of people. Look at That's Life - a lot of good work done for a lot of people
But in announcing that she's going to stand for Parliament in Luton South, the question has to be asked: Has she lost the plot?
Lots appears to have been said about the Tory success in Norwich North, won by 27-year-old Chloe Smith.
At various times in the past, Tory boss David Cameron has been likened to Tony Blair - style of substance, king of substance, faux man of the people and so on.
Now, Tony Mk II has a Ruth Kelly Mk II by his side - Chloe Smith not only sounds likes her, but also has many of her mannerisms.
But that slur to one side, is 27 really old enough to seriously represent a constituency in parliament?
Remember Lord Foulkes, the lord who appears determined to make him self look as dim as possible?
He's the one who tried to defend Michael Martin when he was speaker of the house, suggesting that it was all the media's fault?
What are the advantages of walking away from a senior ministerial post? Of course, the downside is that you lose a lot of power, probably a fair bit of cash, and probably kill off any hope you have of further promotion to Government.
But on the upside, ex-ministers do enjoy a period of time where their opinions carry an extra weight. As John Hutton, the ex-defence secretary has found today.
QUITE rightly, the armed forces have dominated the headlines this week, with much of the media coverage dedicated to whether the Government is offering the armed forces the support needed to get the job done in Afghanistan.
Big question marks have been placed, again, over the equipment available out in Afghanistan, not least whether the vehicles ferrying our brave men and women around are actually protecting those inside, or just leaving them sitting ducks against an increasingly tactical insurgency.
Ask any MP what they think of a conflict, and their answers may well differ about the validity of the war, the morality of battle and, indeed, whether we should be involved or not. What they will never dispute is the bravery of our men and women out there, or the need for the country to support them.
Which begs two questions: 1. When Afghanistan was discussed in parliament earlier this week, why was the chamber half empty? And 2. Why, if we all agree on supporting our troops regardless of conflict, why are troops relying on charities to send them our basics such as painkillers and rice?
If you believe the Mail on Sunday's Zapper column (a kind of political TV column), the powers that be at the BBC have been agonising over how to treat the BNP now that they are an elected party - even if it was thanks to a voting system which is slanted towards the fringe parties.
The answer is simple: Treat them like any other parties, and give them the same airtime, relevant to their size, to all the parties. When UKIP did so well, they got the airtime, and even Robert Kilroy-Silk got airtime when he was in power.
And that appears to be what the BBC is doing. Nick Griffin got a slot on the Andrew Marr show this weekend, and if you read the BNP website, he was terribly hard-done to, with his interview slot cut short to allow for an expanded newspaper review section.
IF David Cameron's spin doctors are successful, their leader will be seen by the public as the white knight riding in to save the country from the disaster created by New Labour.
In the same way Tony Blair was successful with his "you can trust us, we're different" approach, Cameron's mob too hope get elected on the back of a "at least we're not Labour" ticket.
Part of that, in recent months, has been about showing that the Tories aren't as sleezy as Labour. The McBride affair, for example, was used as a way to suggest Labour wasn't interested in real political discussion, it just wanted to smear the opponents instead.
Did you receive a pay rise this year? If you work in the private sector, the answer is probably no. In fact, you're probably just grateful to have a job.
That's a fact of life in a recession. This time last year, we were just beginning to realise how bad the recession would be. Since then, tens of thousands of jobs have been lossed, with many more people on shortened-hours or reduced pay.
And in Downing Street, we have a government which insists it is the only party to deal with the recession - the only party to make tough decisions.
Then, in Prime Minister's Questions, we have David Cameron insisting that, actually, he's the guy to rescue the country.
Not surprisingly, the Westminster village is buzzing with how to interpret David Miliband's latest TV outing.
The MP for South Shields - the only constituency to never vote anything other than a Labour MP in - made lots of noise on the Andrew Marr show about how there needs to be sweeping reform of the Labour Party.
There was a certain irony to hearing one of the biggest beneficiaries of New Labour talk about the need to listen to the unions more, but I must have missed the bit where Miliband stated his claim that he wanted to taken on Gordon Brown and take over as leader (note: saying you would like to lead Labour one day is not the same as starting a leadership challenge.)
The problem about taking a stand against the self-made perception that you are window dressing is that, as a result, you find yourself at the back of the shop.
And that's where Caroline Flint finds herself, several weeks after her hissy fit over not getting the promotion she felt she deserved into the main cabinet.
In her world, she seemingly felt she was ready for a bigger job. Gordon Brown disagreed, and in a moment of unusual clear thought, decided to risk the storm of a strong decision and not promote her.