Monday, 18 May 2009

Go now Mr Martin

While there are plenty of call for the speaker to go and some suggesting successors one question that has to be considered is timing.

Now, in a month or at the general election.

Our current speaker would prefer to hang on, resign honourably and stand down as MP at the same time or so it would seem. In that time he would without favour reform the expenses system at both entitlement and back office level and restore confidence in the office which he as so patently failed. A nice thought but put another way he as the man that could stop the mess at any time over the past 9 years and cleaned it up in private but didn't now wants our trust that he can do it in public.

I THINK NOT and I have 20 years of campaigning under my belt and am thoughougly sickened by the whole mess. He should go now rather than put into place a system that his replacement may themselves deem too lax and seek to reform.

So now or in a month or two.

Personally it has to be now but I suspect it may be best for the country for him to see things though to publication of the full expenses let his watch carry all the juicy revelations and not leave a new Speaker having thier opening days tainted by the past.

So publication day it is and I hope a real competion for the post let us the public see the election not hide it behind closed doors. Place an obligation on every party in Westminster to nominate at least one candidate in the next ten days with thier expenses published immediately and require them to publish their alst 4 years of expenses on nomination.

Lets see detailled manifestos of how they plan to reform, a full question time debate and public involvement... and let them face an independant review of manifesto vs actions in 24 months time with a commitment to resign if they are found to have reeged on those promises

We as a political elite have too many good candidates out there being frightened or sickened out of Westminster politics by the baying of the Fleet Street pack. So let us once and for all send a message out that our politics is fundermentally clean its just got a few rotten apples within it that need checking on the compost heap

Monday, 20 April 2009

Welsh Lib Dems back Rally GB

It gave me a fair amount of pleasure to be one to the 10 reps signing the emergency motion calling on the Nat/Lab government in Cardiff to reverse its decision to break its sponsorship of Wales Rally GB.

What am I talking about. Well for the measly sum of £2.4m that expert on rural tourism IWJ decided last week that the event which the government are contracted to support is not worth the investment. Now take away the legal costs we are likely to face but what does the event bring.
Four days of visitors in Cardiff AND rural mid Wales, four days OUT OF SEASON where the local trade gets a major boost. National and international coverage on Eurosport and local media across Scandinavia and other countries where rallying is as big as F1 is in the UK.

At a time when we as a nation are trying to grow our cultural tourism the "most excellent" leader of Plaid Cymru has shown it is not only his own party policy he is prepared to ignore but also binding legal agreements.

How can he and hence Wales expect any major business or sporting event to even consider coming here now when they know that a WAG contract is viewed as being as watertight as a chocolate teapot.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Where a request is not a requirment

Over the past 7 years my protocol with our corporate hotel booking service has had a note on it saying that I will not accept being placed in a smoking room.

The booking form they send had the words "non smoking room requested". Now in my ignorance I have always assumed that when a hotel accepts a booking with a request they will honour it on the day or inform the agency the request could not be met.

It would appear I was wrong.

Twice in the past fortnight I was told oh no it was only a "request" so we put you in this one from our allocation as I coughed my way down the internal phone. In both cases a new room was found.

But my protocol has now changed the latest booking now reads "non smoking room required contact guest direct is not available"

Tory attacks core of Scouting values

As an Englishman living in Wales I have always been amazed at the depths some on the fringes of Welsh politics will go to attack all things English. However this latest news that a Tory Councillor in Abergele is up in arms about the Scout movement holding a parade to celebrate their patron saint takes the biscuit.

Anyone who like me has been an active member of the Scouting movement would know that the saint chosen to represent the values of the association is shared with the Malta, Gozo, Beirut oh and England.

They would also know that the nearest Sunday to the 23rd is when most scout groups will hold a local parade and promise renewal service for many it is the only act of religious observance they have.

Now is a fit of what appears to be Welsh nationalism Cllr Sam Rowland is urging the association to change the focus of the event. The movement should he claims should do so because they don't march on St Davids Day.

How pathetic can you be. Far from attacking this celebration of honour and community involvement he ought to dig out a tent, pair of boots and get out with a local scout group and serve his community instead of using the organisation for a few cheap political points

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Passport vs Driving licence online

Having moved recently and with an expired passport I finally got around to starting to sort the situation out this morning.

First off the Passport. A google search gets me to the relevant agency and apply on-line forms a series of questions a postcode based address finder (with accurate information)and a return button promised me a pre filled form in the post in the next couple of days.

So far so good

Now the driving licence find DVLA, redirect to Direct Gov single free-form text to request the relevant paper document with a promise of 7-10 day deliver.

Now I realise there are differences in the service but surely someone should be looking at this incredible oversight to ensure the technology the passport agency have secured for their forms could also be deployed by other government agencies

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Northern Rock Bonuses give lie to shareholder compensation rules

So there we have it on the week after the main Northern Rock shareholders were in court arguing the lie of the governments compensation order that Northern Rock should have been valued as if it were in administration we learn that the repayment targets have been met and workers will get a 10% bonus.

Now I am pleased for them they stuck it out when all was bleak and clearly have done a good job since. If that was the deal then they deserve every penny they get.

However there are two glaring issues in this. Firstly the amount of debt repayment that has been made at a time when there is a dire shortage of credit, if Northern Rock had been allowed to function this could well have enables a small but significant easing of pressures on a number of other organisations. The government may let them do that now but too little too late springs to mind.

But as significant is the fact they have been able to repay this in the first place. This is not a small nibble this is a considerable chunk of the debt to the government. In fact it offers plenty of evidence that far from being a basket case all the business needed was a resolution to its cashflow and a new board of management.

But hang on a minute isn't that the mantra of the government now "we must stop sound businesses going into administration and jobs being lost due to short term problems with credit supply" . Shame they didn't apply that right at the start they might have nipped it in the bud.

But I do have one final question. Why has this emerged now after the court hearings surely this is clear evidence which supports the shareholder case and needs to be placed before the judge undertaking the review or is that too inconvenient for the government to bare?

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Obama vs Labour on public accountability

My oh my what a contrast, while Barack Obama tells the American people

"And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account - to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day - because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government."

Our clear and transparent government have introduced "Freedom of Information (Parliament) Order 2009" a rather ironic name given its main aim is to exempt MP from having their expenses declared in full.

No iPODgate for them. I bet Nick Bourne wished he had won in Worcestershire all those years ago :-)

Still at least there is some opposition to this.

Jo Swinton has an early day motion down while TheyWorkForYou will lead on this from now to the election and are offering practical lobbying suggestions.

Then finally there is a facebook group which is now approaching its 6000th member in about 48 hours

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Missed opportunity in the Economic Recovery Group

Overall the reshuffle leaves me feeling we have a stronger team. The promotion of Jenny Willott in particular is a big plus, and moving Steve Webb back to pensions can only strengthen our policy in this key area.

Unlike some of my fellow bloggers I am also happy to see Lembit outside the front bench team. Parliament needs politicians who are prepared to reach out to all of society and leaving him to do just that may yet yield greater rewards for us.

Where I am slightly disappointed is the composition of the Economic Recovery Group. For a party that prides itself in its Federal structures it is a real missed opportunity for us that while the prefix Lord and suffix MP appear on the list the letters AM or MSP do not. Given the key role these two bodies will have in Wales and Scotland one is left asking oneself the question why do we think all the answers must come from Westminster based politicians?

Friday, 9 January 2009

What is the point of Plaid in government?

On the day when Labour drove a coach and horses though the devolution settlement in Wales what is the response from the supposed Party of Wales?

Well according to their web site at 1 minute to midnight the only thing they have to say today is a press release from one of thier AMs in a cross party role challenging Wales to produce role models that challenge size zero and hence reduce the prevalence of eating disorders.

Now don't get me wrong I work hard to give my 6 year old daughter positive role models and applaud this initiative put wasn't something more important going on today?

Something about the secretary of state having a right under legislation to block the will of the Assembly in Cardiff over housing policy

Isn't this the very thing that Plaid told us wouldn't happen. Sure they may have kept their powder dry for the Welsh Language LCO but now they not only have to fight Labour on that one they have to fight the precedent they themselves as part of government have set by accepting this draconian oversight on this order.

So I ask myself again what is the point of Plaid in government? The more I see of it the answer seems to be none