Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Real Nasty Party

The Guardian did one of their regular exposes on the BNP this week and a very nice job it was too, although it didn't show us anything hugely new about the party.

One thing it did show up is a problem that I've been concerned about for a while.

We all know that the BNP attracts support from the far-right fascists who have had nowhere else to go to raise their objections to non-white residents in the UK and have secret yearnings to wear armbands and salute their Fuhrer. One of the main aims of Nick Griffin has been to try and hide this side of the party and create a more voter friendly image in the hope of pursuing more middle-class voters.

The party's key and overriding aim is to establish deep and strong roots within our local communities... We must create a widely spread support base from which we can act as the true leaders of the communities in which we live and operate.
Nasty Nick believes that the BNP's time will come, that a national emergency will arise and the British people will speak as one, declaring that the BNP is the answer to the immediate crisis. Although I fail to understand to what crisis this little lot could possibly provide any kind of coherent response. To be honest, that fantasy from Griffin isn't what concerns me - they are making genuine inroads into a handful of what should be solid Labour strongholds.

A matter of persistent debate is how to tackle the BNP - do we ignore them or engage them? The danger is that we give the BNP credibility - you don't do that for any other political opponent, so why do it with the BNP? Margaret Hodge was right in what she said, but politically naive to say it in so public a forum
The Labour Party hasn't talked to these people. This is a traditional Labour area but they are not used to engaging with us because all we do is put leaflets through doors. Part of the reason they switch to the BNP is they feel no one else is listening to them.
In many of the outer ring of white, working-class wards in Birmingham, the BNP and their like are getting reasonable returns. Looking at a like-for-like comparison of the 2004 local elections and 2006 shows that where the BNP ran candidates in 2004, they increased their vote by around 4% across all wards, with particularly strong growth in Kingstanding (34%) and Shard End (35%), although they also experienced some setbacks in places like Hodge Hill (-21%), Kings Norton (-15%), Sheldon (-13%) and Stechford (-17%). Given that they have apparently reorganised their Birmingham operations into North, East and South branches, it will be interesting to see whether they can improve their position further and pose a genuine threat to the established parties. They are closest in numerical terms to Labour in Tyburn (746 vote difference), Shard End (696), Oscott (470) and Kingstanding (565), while they are 973 votes behind the Tories in Longbridge.

My belief is that we don't give the BNP the oxygen of publicity by attacking them on a broad front and talking them up, but deal with them on a ward-by-ward basis. While some people vote BNP because they don't like people who happen to have different coloured skin, more people are heading that way for precisely the reasons that Margaret Hodge identified.

Jon Cruddas, the Labour MP for Dagenham, tells a story about three tower blocks where data collected over several elections showed that no one ever voted. As a consequence, the Westminster parties never sent anyone there. BNP activists knocked on every single door and the residents, long neglected by the mainstream politicians, turned out in force for the party.
We urgently need to stem the outflow of Labour members, because those are vital parts of the organisation needed in every ward to put a proper campaign into place. That's one of the major challenges facing the next Labour leadership team. Dealing with it requires strong local involvement and people prepared to do the work involved in supporting communities that feel disadvantaged and provide fertile ground for the lies spread by the BNP. There's no rocket science involved - just good, honest casework, visibility and dealing in facts. Even in wards where we aren't going to win, we need to provide opposition, because if we don't, the BNP will, no matter how incompetent their councillors prove to be.

Don't panic, the BNP aren't close to breaking through in Birmingham - they don't have the resources and seem to spend more time fighting amongst themselves than campaigning on genuine local issues. Like them, we need to be prepared to deal with the direct threat in a few target wards, but we also need to bear those lessons in mind in other wards. Just because there isn't an active presence today doesn't mean that there won't be tomorrow.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas every one (not you Littlejohn)

In the spirit of Christmas, I feel it would be uncharitable to pass any more comment on Richard Littlejohn's thoughtful and inspiring work on the five women murdered in Suffolk.
'in their chosen field of 'work', death by strangulation is an occupational hazard... in the scheme of things the deaths of these five women is no great loss'
So, I'll leave it to Mr Eugenides to spew the required bile in the direction of the great man. Strong words and unsuited for readers of a nervous disposition, but entirely deserved where that wretched piece of pseudo-humanity that identifies itself as Littlejohn is concerned. I'd even say that I'm not sure that Mr Eugenides has gone far enough. If ever there were cause to invent new profanities, this is one.

Moving on to more festive fare, for the past couple of years, we've convinced our children that Santa exists with the solid argument that if NORAD - which has the day job of spotting ballistic missile launches - is able to track him, then surely he must be real. (We've managed to head off awkward discussions about the inability of the US and the UK to track Osama bin Laden or locate Iraqi WMD thus far). Catch up with Father Christmas' progress around the planet here.

And finally, a little stocking-filler for me this year, with the Sunday Times/YouGov poll showing that LibDem support has slid down to 15%. Now, as always, there have to be the caveats that the LDs suffer from lack of exposure outside election periods and this is just one poll, but let me dream a little today, OK? If we ask Electoral Calculus to apply that (based on an entirely imaginary uniform voting pattern) the result is a massacre of the Lib Dems. The Kennedy era could return, largely because he'll be one of just 8 surviving Lib Dem MPs.

Predictably, the Libs suffer at the hands of the Tories, but a whole host of high-profile Liberal Democrats (I know that's an oxymoron of the first order) are sent packing: Nick Harvey, Jo Swinson, Phil Willis, Lynne Featherstone, Danny Alexander, Norman Baker, Lembit Opik, Norman Lamb, Evan Harris, Sandra Gidley, Susan Kramer, Nick Clegg, Lorely Burt and Vince Cable will be amongst those looking for new jobs. Even John Hemming will have to fall back on his millions, his country estate and his job as a councillor, but at least Yardley would be free again. Sadly, the cost would be a hung parliament, with the Tories 11 short of a majority and I'm not sure that I'd wish that on my country.

So, have a good Christmas everyone. Except Littlejohn, obviously.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Snap election?

There's some speculation about the election of the next Labour leader being a trigger for a snap election.

While there are clear problems with doing that, there could be a scenario where it would really work for Labour - May 3 next year. Before you laugh too long and loud, think about it.

Labour voters are typically lazy ones - they need real incentive to turn out. Tories have stayed at home in recent years while Lib Dems have turned out reliably - hence the exceptional performance of that party in by-elections. However, give Labour voters a general election and they are much more inclined to turn up to the polling station.

Now, May 3 offers the rare coincidence of metropolitan elections in England and Wales, along with assembly elections in Wales and Scotland. The poll figures for the devolved assemblies really don't look good for Labour at the moment and control of the parliaments is genuinely under threat. A general election would be a double-whammy - increasing the turnout of Labour voters and securing control of Wales and Scotland as well as returning a number of Labour councillors in England and Wales.

Another advantage is that it would cause the Tories some grief. Cameron's been criticised for being light on policy and it has been suggested that we are around a year away from seeing any policies unveiled, depending on the outcome of various policy forums, so their manifesto should show signs of being seriously undercooked.

I'd also predict a Brown bounce in the polls. Although recent polling, offering a putative Brown/Cameron contest, has been inconclusive, I'm convinced that the Brown manifesto will offer a number of interesting and inspiring policy directions, with tackling poverty at the heart of it. He's a big Americanist, so I'd watch out for the first 100 days to show some new directions to policy. I think this will revitalise Labour grass roots and we will see an upturn in support and even active membership - providing he can shed the dour image and get the policies across to the electorate. Don't get me wrong - I'm not forecasting a return to the glory days of '97, but I do predict that Labour support will firm up noticeably after the leadership election and enough to see off the Tory revival - such as it is.

A big help would be a reasonably bloodless leadership election - one free of too many recriminations. It seems likely that Brown will not face a serious challenger, with it looking improbable that John McDonnell will secure the necessary PLP nominations to pose a serious threat. Given that Brown looks to be a shoo-in for the top job, I can't see any other big hitter - John Reid, for example - deciding to throw in the towel on their front-bench career in a mindless tilt at a windmill.

Another curious advantage would be that it would keep Blair's promise to serve a full term - nobody said that it was a five-year term. It would also be a mandate for a Brown government - flooring any objections that people had voted for Blair, but got Brown.

One big question is over the money. Antony Little reckons that Labour can't afford it. He's right - the party is the thick end of £3o million in the hole. On the other hand, bear in mind that a snap election would leave little time for buying up poster sites (the last election was signalled months in advance as parties booked their chosen sites) and the costs would piggy-back on the costs of fighting the local and devolved elections. Additionally, there would be the magnificent PR value of having the focus on Gordon for three months prior to him taking the top job as the election runs the course, to the exclusion of the Tories and the Lib Dems. It would be a stretch, but I think that the unions would come through with the short-term extra funding to support the campaign. An election in May would be significantly more affordable than a snap election in the autumn.

Now what about timetabling. If we assume a short campaign, that means that Brown has to be PM and ready to call a snap election at the end of March/beginning of April. The leadership election could be compressed into three months, so it would need to kick off early in the New Year. The final plus point is that it would allow Blair to choose his moment. The closer we get to summer 2007, the more certain becomes the date of departure and the higher the tension becomes. There is the risk that Blair would face a crisis before he resigned and could be portrayed as resigning as a result of that. I've always believed that he wants to go in his own time and not when he's under pressure. What better way of starting the New Year than by announcing his intention to stand down as leader?

Will it happen? I doubt it. Candidates aren't in place (although that could be resolved by the NEC) and it would be a huge risk. But possibly one worth taking.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Lembit should resign!

No, sorry, not even I can manufacture enough bile to call for Lemsip to resign for lobbying on behalf of his new lady friend. I did try, honestly...

Although I would argue that both of the Cheeky Girls should be extraordinarily rendered to Guantanamo for their crimes against music, it IS Christmas and I can't find it in my heart to condemn the loveable Lib Dem MP (there has to be one).

Truly, it is the season of goodwill to all men.

Really, the only question is which of them is more desperate for media coverage - Lembit or Gabby?

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Cheeky boy!


You might have been forgiven for checking that today wasn't April 1st. Just when you think that the 'You Couldn't Make It Up' tap had run dry, another story drips out.

We knew that Limpid Optic had split from his long-term fiancee Sian Lloyd - perhaps he'd had enough of a cold front from the west overnight. (Odd that the BBC chooses the word 'flamboyant' to descrive Lembit - geeky would be better, but no matter).

That could only be trumped by the revelation that he's now been seen out and about squiring one of the Cheeky Girls.



Friday, December 15, 2006

Lib Dems stand by convicted electoral fraudsters

Some of you may remember leading Liberal Democrat John Hemming accusing the Labour Party of standing by six councillors found guilty of electoral fraud back in April 2005 (one was later cleared on appeal).
Now ... what we have is Six Councillors found to have been involved in electoral fraud to the criminal burden of proof. The criminal burden of proof is "Beyond reasonable doubt". The Labour Party's immediate response is to "Suspend them". Now I would accept that if merely allegations were raised that may be appropriate. However, we have had a High Court sitting for over a month going through the cases. The question is "Where is the doubt?" ... What is holding the Labour Party back from expelling the councillors? ...It does seem that Labour are "standing by" their disgraced councillors.

So, in Burnley, we have two Liberal Democrat councillors convicted and jailed for electoral fraud. What's the party response (with a hat tip to FibDems)?
A spokeswoman for the Liberal Democrats said because the councillors were planning an appeal against their convictions the party was unable to expel them. She said they had been suspended since they were found guilty. "Until the conclusion of the legal process we cannot expel them, they only remain suspended."
By that standard, the Lib Dems are standing by their convicted criminal councillors.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Happy Now?

In a sad day for the leftwards end of the blogosphere, Bob Piper has hung up his keyboard after a sustained campaign against him by a few Tories who made the effort to be offended by a picture ridiculing Cameron's new 'just like you' image.

The Tories who are doubtless celebrating the departure of another Labour blogger from the stage should take note. Climbing on the moral high ground may expose how weak your foundations are, particularly when your indignation is so palpably manufactured

We remember Bob Spink (Tory MP for Castle Point) and his 'send them back' newspaper advert about asylum seekers in 2005 or his claims that more criminals are black than white. We remember the candidate for Chester who has resigned citing issues over racism and sexism in the local party. We remember the recent North Norfolk selection meeting where a local member asked 'Could we be assured that neither of the candidates is a homosexual?' Then we have the comment of three Tory MPs to potential candidate Ali Miraj on his selection meeting, 'Good luck Ali, but I would be shocked if they didn’t pick a White middle-class male' - not racist, just that they understand how the grassroots membership thinks. At least they suspended a councillor for a genuinely racist email that she decided to forward from her council email account.

I will confess that I didn't like the picture, but I got the point behind the jibe at Cameron and I don't think that it was a racist statement. Bob isn't a racist and neither is Unity. Their loathing for the real racists in the BNP drips from their keyboards when they write about that vile party.
I'm sorry to see Bob go. It is a sad day for politics when we can't let our politicians loose in an unmediated environment, unfiltered by the lens of the media. I wish more of them would spend a few minutes connecting with us lesser mortals. Let's not have a political class dominated by bland, vapid, inoffensive technocrats. We need some people with hinterland, prepared to share their interests and their flaws so we can see that they are actually rounded human beings, not some party-trained robot.

So, don't be a stranger, Bob. Have a good Christmas and get back online in the New Year. There's Tory and Lib Dem dragons to slay out there.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Liberal Democrats

A little while ago, a fellow blogger asked for my thoughts on the Liberal Democrats as I seem to follow their fortunes closely, so I'll try to take my party political hat off for a while and let you have the benefit of my wisdom. No sniggering at the back, there.

At the core, the Liberal Democrats are oppositionists - that's their unique selling point and it is a tremendous political weapon for them. Their effectiveness depends upon building coalitions of tactical voters opposed to the current administration - hence their omnipresent graphs showing that only the Liberal Democrats can defeat the Tories/Labour (delete as appropriate). I'm not sure I buy Don Paskini's assertion that the natural vote for the LDs is around 2%, but he makes many good points in this analysis.

The party is famed for inconsistency and this drives activists from both the Tory and Labour party to distraction (one of the few occasions where we find common ground). The classic example locally, of course, is the selection of Nichola Davies as their parliamentary candidate in Hodge Hill (against the wishes of the local eminence grise, John Hemming, as I understand it). The Lib Dems have made an art form out of opposing mobile phone masts across the country and it is a great vote-winner because people don't like them and the LDs know only too well that while they are usually wasting their time opposing a planning application (as the legislation from central government will ensure that it goes through), there's votes in the issue. So, selecting somebody whose day job was working for the mobile phone industry convincing councils to wave applications through was a touch inconsistent. Jon Hunt's petition to Birmingham Council on Tuesday falls into the same category of inconsistency with their own national policy. The late, lamented LibDemWatch did a marvellous job of recording those and Yellow Peril and Fib Dems continue the tradition.

They can usually get away with this because politics is a local business - people in Erdington don't know or care what the Liberal Democrat attitude is in Northfield, for example. So in local politics, the approach works very well as they promise exactly what people in a given area want to hear. It is even effective at a national level and in by-election campaigns. Where it becomes problematic is when they actually achieve power, because being an oppositionist is a problem when you have the levers of power in your hands. Even then, Lib Dem councillors have been caught out blaming 'the council' for specific issues - conveniently ignoring the fact that they run the damn thing.

I suspect that their opportunistic oppositionalism will become a weakness. This worked in their favour as long as the Tories were as useless and disorganised as they have been for most of the past decade, but now the Conservatives seem to be on the march again, the LibDems are vulnerable to desertions from their motley crew of left and right-wingers seeking an outlet for their opposition to the Labour government. Everyone thinks of them as a centre-left party, but they have a record of hoovering up dissatisfied Tory vote. If you run the current tranche of opinion poll results through something like Electoral Calculus (and I should add the usual health warning about assuming that swing works evenly across the country), while Labour doesn't do well, the Liberal Democrats face a thorough kicking as well, with their parliamentary representation slashed to just 35 seats. This runs counter to a prediction I made after the last election - forecasting that the Lib Dems were on the verge of a breakthrough into the real big time and genuine contention for power - but the Tories have revived themselves, driven by desperation to make difficult decisions. 2005 may well prove to have been the Lib Dems' highwater mark for a generation, as I suspect that the next election will see some roll-back and some high-profile victims. Don't forget that the next election looks to be the first since 1992 when the result could go either way, so people will be less willing to cast a protest vote when it could make a difference to the Tories or Labour actually gaining power.

However, don't forget that mid-term opinion polls tend to under-estimate Lib Dem vote when it comes to an election. The third party doesn't get the same focus outside election time, so we typically see a higher than expected Liberal Democrat vote after they have some national attention during the campaign.

The party has traditionally been a bottom-up party (make up your own Mark Oaten jokes) in that policy is developed from the grassroots of the party and they have the final say through the conference system. That's perfectly fine and democratic, but the problem is that it can be a slow process when the news agenda moves so swiftly and journalists demand a party line on something or other instantaneously and not in six months or a year's time. The Tory conferences have always been occasions for the party grandees to descend from Westminster and distribute their nuggets of wisdom to the grassroots. Labour have gone the same way in the past few years, when they realised that public displays of vicious in-fighting weren't guaranteed to win votes.

The Liberal Democrat policy-making process also had the bonus for the other parties in that the muesli sandal-wearing wing of the party would find a way of slipping one of their nuttier policies past the leadership. This was a reliable source of campaigning headlines, be it porn at 16 , legalising cannabis or votes for serial killers, but one that looks to be denied to us in future as they have learnt enough to impose greater controls on what policy votes actually get to conference.

As I have noted before, their by-election machine is, frankly, terrifying. While a national campaign stretches their resources to the limit, give them a single seat to fight and no majority is safe. The tactics are tried and tested and backed up by a mass of campaigners who will descend on a constituency in a way that neither the Tories nor Labour can match. They will find a local issue on which to hang their campaign - even if it means inventing one. In the current council by-election campaign in Camden, the local Labour party highlight a Lib Dem scare story about the closure of the local police station - a story kicked into touch by the local copper. Failing that, as Don Paskini pointed out, they will run a negative campaign while trying to spin themselves as being different from other politicians.

Their image as the 'nice' party took a well-deserved beating over their treatment of Charlie Kennedy. For all his faults, he was a popular and recognisable national figure with decent approval ratings. Ming Campbell lacks Kennedy's touch and is too patrician when compared to Blair/Brown or Cameron. Small parties depend on the image of their leader - the only one who will get any sort of media exposure - and Campbell doesn't cut it.

Another change is that they seem to be trying to take over the ground occupied by the other parties - dropping the 50% tax rate and other elements of the Orangista crusade will destroy one of their strong points. The party has always been seen as a little bit different, but if it tries too hard to adopt Labour or Tory policies, then people won't have a reason to vote Liberal Democrat over either of the parties able to win a majority. A drift to the right won't win them seats.

Any more thoughts, anyone?

Amis on Cameron



"A rich prettyboy who is pretending to give a damn"

Oof.

Question Time tonight.

Putting the Lady into Ladywood?

According to the Stirrer in the Birmingham Mail tonight, Elaina Cohen has been 'appointed' as chair of that ward.

Forgive me for being pernickety, but last time I checked, officers at branch and CLP level were elected. More often than I'd like, parties are scouring the membership to find people to do the legwork involved in running a political organisation rather than having posts oversubscribed, but the membership do still have a say.

Somebody also reckons that the post of branch chair gives her authority over Sir Albert.

Technically maybe, but I'm not sure he'd see it that way.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Big screen entertainment

Birmingham City Council has recently installed two big screens in the council chamber with projectors linked to a snazzy camera system that zooms in immediately on any given councillor's seat, identifying the speaker and the party. This is actually an excellent idea, although seeing the councillors in glorious colour is not an experience suitable for those with weak stomachs.

My spy in the public gallery reports that Liberal Democrat councillor Jon Hunt presented a petition containing 800 signatures against any form of congestion charging. Now councillors have to represent all their constituents and I suppose that this petition might have come up as a result of a genuine groundswell of public opinion, but I'm really not convinced. This feels like a petition generated by the Lib Dems themselves.

If only the Liberal Democrats had a policy on road-pricing.

But wait! Hang on a minute - they do!
Liberal Democrats believe road user pricing is essential...

...this issue requires robust political leadership if road user pricing is to be widely accepted in the UK. This is the challenge that the Liberal Democrats are willing to face...
Make that SOME Liberal Democrats. Others are after cheap political capital. Indeed, some of us remember the former Lib Dem transport spokesman Don Foster, who wrote to the Secretary of State to confirm the Liberal Democrat policy on road pricing, but then went on to explain in detail why it was entirely unsuitable for places like Bath. Can you guess which constituency Don represents?

The Liberal Democrats also completed the eviction of their former colleague Cllr Abdul Aziz by removing him from the Coordinating Overview and Scrutiny Committee. Naturally, you would think that they would seize the opportunity to redress some of the representational imbalance that continues to affect the council (where a large part of the Birmingham population is entirely unrepresented by the leadership - unless you count the three day a week allowance paid to Tanveer Choudhry for leading the Local Area Agreement Task and Finish Scrutiny Committee which has done almost exactly no work since being formed in July)

In any case, you would, of course, be wrong. Clearly, Cllr John Hemming MP hasn't got enough to do, so he can find time to serve on that committee as well as being a businessman, wannabe astronaut, gentleman farmer and member of parliament.

Fresh and well-fed from an expensive formal dinner with representatives from Guangzhou (I'm not sure if kidney was on the menu with the steak), Whitless was talking up the chances of Birmingham attracting the Chinese team for the 2012 Olympics, although how their swimmers would cope without a 50m Olympic pool for training is an interesting question.

Ironically, a motion was brought to the council about the decline in manufacturing in Birmingham, which gave little Bobbie Alden a chance to speak his (rather limited) brains. He blamed the problems of industry on the tax and red-tape policies of Gordon Brown, rather than accepting the unpleasant truth that volume manufacturing is thriving in places like China because the workforce will work for pennies and not demand fripperies like holidays, safe working environments or pension plans.

The Tories did themselves no favours today, catcalling and barracking Albert Bore as he tried to raise a petition in support of those British citizens imprisoned by our American friends in Guantanamo. Similarly, one of their number came back with potentially libellous remarks about Sir Albert's appointment as chair of the University Hospital NHS Trust.

A reshuffle is in the air as departmental functions are being moved around in a grand game of musical chairs. Of course, the new departmental heads will be appointed after a thorough process of fair and open selection. Or they could just be picked for their loyalty and willingness to do as they are told. Guess which path the council has chosen. This has an impact on the cabinet as well, and Tory Cllr John Lines is wandering around telling all and sundry that he will be the new cabinet member for constituencies and housing - which may come as a surprise to the current holder of the local services portfolio, Lib Dem Jim Whorwood.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Making your mind up

There are arguments on both sides for the retention of Britain's nuclear weapons and for it to be scrapped when the Trident boats are finally laid up in 2024 and I'm not going to rehearse them here (yet).

But the Liberal Democrats have a view on it. They want to take a lead on nuclear disarmament by errrm, keeping our nuclear weapons - just not quite so many of them.

In any case, Ming the Useless opines that we don't need to decide the future until 2014 - when the international threat will be clearer. Perhaps his crystal ball could give us the lottery numbers as well, because I don't understand the logic of that statement. Anyway, the expected service life of the Trident boats expires in 2024 or so, therefore waiting until 2014 would require additional expenditure to extend their operational capability until a replacement was available - something that the US has already decided on for its nuc boats. A replacement could take fifteen to twenty years to be ready for deployment and will require co-operation with the US (Trident took 14 years to come into UK service).

Aside from the usual Lib Dem attempt to sit on the fence so as not to offend anybody, this is also intriguing, as the party has yet to develop a policy on a Trident replacement, but Ming doesn't want party procedure to stand in the way. A consultation paper was put forward earlier this year and raised at the autumn conference, but it is still to go to a vote in the spring of 2007. The last manifesto envisaged
retaining the UK’s current minimum nuclear deterrent for the foreseeable future, until sufficient progress has been made towards the global elimination of such weapons
Perhaps it is being a little pedantic to point out that Ming has changed this policy slightly, as the current warhead total is just under 200 split between the four boats, but this is another example of him making policy on the fly and hoping that the party follows him.

Which they will. Mostly out of curiousity.

Fuzzy logic

Badly thought-out and poorly-expressed policy? Only in loose touch with reality? It can only be a Tory.

In particular, Ellee Seymour, who brings all her professional skills as a PR person to bear on the difficult issue of what to do with knives. Ban them is her answer.

For those of you who can't spot the immediate flaw in that argument, can I recommend the ever-readable Unity at the Ministry of Truth who applies his own razor-sharp wit to her argument ands leaves it in shreds.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Partly political


Having failed in reality TV, it can't be a surprise that Jo Cameron would choose the Liberal Democrats as her party of choice in her pursuit of a seat on those Commons benches.

What is a surprise is that she's being allowed to seek advice from John 'Superstud' Hemming.

With his reputation? Has no-one thought of the consequences?

Merry Christmas Rover Workers Everywhere!

Well, at least a few members of the Phoenix group will have a happier Christmas as they pocket their share of £22 million left in the bank.

Remember how John Hemming used to trumpet his support for Rover...
He is also known for having brought together the Phoenix Consortium that took over Rover from BMW. This action saved between 40,000 and 50,000 jobs mainly in the West Midlands for 5 years. Many people who work at Rover or Land Rover live in the Yardley Constituency. In 2005, however, the DTI pushed Rover over the edge when it was on the verge of sorting out its long term future. He has been looking at possible solutions from administration as well.
But then he airbrushed the picture to spin a subtly different tale
In 2000 John Hemming brought together the community, the workforce and certain businesspeople to put together a consortium to rescue Rover. John made the mistake of trusting John Towers who went on to kick John Hemming and the
community representatives from the consortium and ran the business in the way John Towers wished to run it. In 2003 John Hemming, being aware of the way in which the directors were extracting money and assets, looked at taking legal action to remove them from overall control. The conclusion was that this would damage the business and hit the local economy were it to proceed. In 2005 the business continued to lose money and as a result of the briefings of the Department of Trade and Industry suppliers refused to supply the company. It was then forced to bring in administrators on Friday 8th April at 2005.