Monday, 26 April 2010

Talking to policemen in car parks?

I'm really not sure if this the title of this post is to be read metaphorically or literally.  Take a look at this interview with UKIP leader Lord Pearson and decide for yourself.  Daniel Finkelstein asks the question whether this is the worst campaign interview ever.  I'm not sure that it is, but I'll bet there are many members of UKIP wishing Nigel Farage (pronounced Niggle Fah-rag) was still at the helm! This is a re-posting from Left Foot Forward.

Thank god these idiots aren't going to provide a plausible option in the event of a hung parliament!

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Iranian Cleric Uses Scientific Logic To Prove He's An Idiot

In a startling piece of logic, Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi (yes, you read that correctly), an Iranian Islamic cleric discovered how earthquakes are caused.  Through rigorous research he found that they are caused not by the natural movements of giant plates of the earth's crust, but instead by Iran's women-folk dressing immodestly.  In a quote on the BBC's site, Sedighi explains that "women who do not dress modestly lead young men astray and spread adultery in society which increases earthquakes".  Can't see any gaps in his chain of reasoning there.
Sedighi likes to stroke each of the microphones in turn in order to CENSORED.

In his sermon, he went on to plead with young Iranians not to disappoint God and to wear looser fitting clothes.  Amen to that. 

Friday, 16 April 2010

I agree with Nick! No, I agree with Nick!

Well, as the Tory and Labour leaders attempted to knock seven shades out of each other last night, they found themselves in agreement on one topic that may have a more profound effect on this election than they would have hoped.  In between spats and ripostes about immigration and economic recovery both Cameron and Brown were competing to align themselves with the Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg.  Is this going to be a case of Brown and Cameron keeping their eye on each other while the long-shot Clegg surprises them on the outside? 
What the leaders all fail to realise is that the colour scheme means they are actually competing to become president of Columbia and not prime minister of the UK. Let's watch the expressions on their faces when they find out!

I had high hopes for Clegg before the "debate" (I'm sorry, but the level of staging and preparedness prevents this from being a true and open debate), and he presented himself very well.  I'm glad that none of the three leaders made monumental gaffes as this will allow people to focus on the content of what they're actually saying.  As Chris Huhne of the Lib Dems suggested, this debate format may be pretty shallow, but it's the least shallow thing we've had in national elections in years!  The interesting thing now will be whether Clegg's win in the debate can translate into votes on May 6th.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Tax Plans: Labour Vs UKIP

On Sunday's Andrew Marr show the UKIP leader, Lord Pearson, outlined how his party would like to introduce a flat rate of tax at 31% for everyone earning above £11,000.  Wow, that sounds fair you might think.  And it means we would have a much less complex tax system.  But how would it pan out?  For your convenience I've graphed the tax take for various income levels directly contrasting income tax to be paid under the current Labour system and the proposed UKIP system.  

Basically, this would be great news for anyone on minimum wage; with this system you would save about £705 a year (assuming UKIP used the same Tax Free Allowance levels as currently exist).  Not bad at all.  But as soon as you cross that magical £11K barrier things turn ugly.  Sure, everyone would like to see high earners pay a bit more tax.  But do we want a society where someone earning £12K goes from paying £1105 in tax to paying a £1712.75?  That's a massive 55% increase on the tax that individual is paying.  The picture is exactly the same for many middle-income earners.  This is a classic right-wing approach to politics, appealing to the low-paid, disenfranchised voter in order to pedal more extremist nonsense.  I'll leave you to make your own mind up on whether you'd like to see such a tax system in place!  

I can only imagine that given UKIP's policies on the EU (leave) and their model for a fair and equitable society (Switzerland) it would please a lot of Tory backbenchers to have them as coalition partners in the event of a hung parliament.  God help us all!

Monday, 12 April 2010

Need to rise above the election?

If you happen to be in the south of England and are already feeling the need to escape electoral campaign antics, one possibility might be to head on down to the Hovercraft Museum in Lee-on-Solent (between Portsmouth and Southampton).  Apparently it has the world's only collection of historic hovercraft, with over 60 vessels for you to feast your eyes upon.  It's probably not the kind of thing I'd be into myself, but you know, whatever floats your boat!

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Dave's Son Tells It Like It Is

In what may be a contender for quote of the election campaign, David Cameron's 4-year old son Elwen came out with "Stop making boring speeches Daddy!".  It's the most insightful piece of political punditry  I've heard yet.   If you're interested, the Irish Times manage to stretch this nugget into a full article here.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Cambridgeshire will have the 'most boring' election

Following from yesterday's post on the failings of the first-past-the-post voting system, the Electoral Reform Society have calculated that Cambridgeshire's constituencies will have the most boring election this time round.   The Tories hold six seats, while the Lib Dems hold one (in Cambridge itself) and according to the society's calculations none of this likely to change.  If you're a voter who is craving change in the system, Cambridgshire is not the place to be!  The BBC has more here

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Your vote doesn't count, so why bother?

The current first-past-the-post (FPTP) voting system creates an environment of safe seats; seats where the incumbent candidate (or party) are practically guaranteed to hold the seat in any election.  For example, in the Newcastle upon Tyne Central constituency the Labour MP Jim Cousins  has held his seat for the last 23 years.  Most people have some idea that this happens, but perhaps don't realise the scope of the effects of FPTP in limiting their choice come election time.  Metro have helpfully shown that people's votes simply will not count in up to 400 constituencies this time around.  Given that there are 650 constituencies, that is a colossal proportion of voters who are essentially being disenfranchised.  So what can you do?  Vote for parties and candidates that are absolutely committed to giving us a fairer, proportional system.  For the moment, this almost certainly means not voting Tory or Labour!

Wednesday, 7 April 2010


Pretty attention grabbing headline I thought. Or what about "WILL TEENAGE SEX KILL HARD-WORKING FAMILIES?" OR, "COULD YOUR DEODORANT GIVE YOU CANCER?" These are the kinds of serious questions that this year's parliamentary candidates really need to be addressing. These are the questions that Joe and Joanna Public want answered. Or maybe they're just automatically generated Daily Mail-alike headlines from here*. Thanks to the nice people at for hosting that one! By the way, one of those headlines is real: any thoughts?

*Thanks to Paul for the link!.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Why the Tories are wrong about tax cuts

Over the last few months a dividing line has been drawn between the tories on the one hand and the lib dems and labour on the other hand with respect to "cutting the deficit".

The tories are proposing sharp and wide ranging cuts as soon as they enter government. Lib dems and labour are taking a longer term view, preferring to spread less severe pain over a longer period. While the lib dems have been a bit quiet on the specifics, labour has said it will halve the deficit over four years. While the labour approach is far from being "right", the tories are so far off the economic barometer it's scary.

Firstly, We have already seen in previous recessions that rapid cuts lead to prolonged recessions. So why do the Tories think it would be different this time around? It's certainly not clear to me, but maybe I'm just a bit slow. However, when we consider how the tories responded initially to the banking crisis we can see that it was at odds with every single western nation's response (with the possible exception of Ireland, and we all know how well that's going!). So why would anyone believe the Tories have it right just a few months later? They are either going to have to work a lot harder to convince people that their plans for the economy (and their calculations) add up, or they are going to have to change tack in a big way.

The thing that worries me most about the Tory plans is that they hurt the most vulnerable, especially when it involves increases in VAT or other such inequitable flat taxes. But maybe this is secretly part of Tory policy? Bolster the wealth of the already wealthy while taking a little bit here and there from the lower socio-economic classes until they are so deflated the concept of social mobility looks like a dot on the horizon. While the tories make arguments for fiscal responsibility, which seem to be convincing a lot of the electorate, the reality is that they are paving the way for even greater inequality, even greater self-interest and even less (of the much needed) positive reform of the workings of parliament, the house of lords and our democracy in general.

The question is why do we need rapid, swingeing cuts? Surely the state will still be here in 50 years time? Why not spread out our repayment schedule allowing us to protect our most important services (health, welfare, education) while at the same time making these much vaunted "efficiency savings". If the £10 billion annual efficiency savings could be made we would be well on our way in a few short years to stabilising the nation's finances. So again, why rush it? The Tories have yet to provide a good, clear and honest answer to this simple question. Will we get this answer in the run up to the election? don't bank on it!