Jolly Old Local Government

I was outraged to find today that a delegation of councillors from Torfaen County Borough Council have just yesterday,  at the rate payer’s expense jetted off to one of UNESCO’s world heritage site for a jolly old outing.

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Using hard won council funds a delegation of councillors led by council leader Bob Wellington traipsed areound this site of unique world heritage looking at the key examples of capital investment and beautification…all at the tax payer’s expense.

Bob Wellington Leader TCBC
Bob Wellington Leader TCBC

The delegation of councillors trip also included visis to a state of the art medical facility and a new educational establishment all at a cost £20.1 million. All of which is in an area that in less than 20 years has had over £50 million spent on it.

Using council funds for lavish private transport and to fund entertainment expenses all on their jolly outing, it’s this sort of excess that makes people despair of local government.

Still it’s nice to see Blaenavon is getting a look in.

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Drop The Bomb

bombIt’s been in the press recently that the leader of the opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, is calling for the abolition of the Trident Nuclear Defence Program, possibly giving rise to the “threat to national security” line that the Tory Party have been spreading, if only as a threat to its budget.

Under the terms of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons there are five states recognised as nuclear weapon states, China, France, Russia, the US and the UK (the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council).

Mr Corbyn has suggested that he would like to see Britain’s nuclear deterrent scrapped when next year Parliament will vote to renew trident, during said vote Labour Party MPs will most likely be given a free vote on the issue. The revelation that the candidate for Labour Leader that was backed by the Campaign For Nuclear Disarmament is in fact anti nuclear weaponry.

Jeremy Corbyn
Jeremy Corbyn

I can honestly say that I’ve never been anti nuclear, in terms of the energy market I’ve often thought that nuclear energy offers a cheaper alternative to fossil fuel all whilst providing opportunities for employment for hundreds (similar to the shale gas industry). But whilst being pro nuclear energy I’m also pretty anti war, but I do recognise the politically reality of the world in which we live, which unfortunately does call for armies and guns and bombs, and whilst I may not like it I do recognise the need for them. So whilst Mr Corbyn may wish for the end of the bomb I somehow don’t see it happening any time soon.

But I should point out that if the French have the bomb we definitely need the bomb.

Right To Assembly

So today I was going to do a massive post about the political conferences of the week but illness precludes me from doing so, also it would probably be better to do a post mortem of conference season after all the conferences are over.

However in order to keep my content fresh and new here is a piece about the upcoming Welsh Assembly elections. For those that didn’t know there are approximately seven months until the Welsh Assembly elections (as well as the elections to the Scottish Parliament, Various English local authorities and the London Mayoral elections all taking place) so here’s a quick guide to the election in Wales and a brief history of the Welsh Assembly:

The Welsh Assembly as seen from Cardiff Bay
  • Candidates will be fighting for 60 seats on the 5th May 2016
  • There are 40 constituency seats that will be fought on a first past the post system
  • There are also twenty seats that will be decided on a proportional representation system.
  • Each registered voter will receive two ballot papers one for their constituency and one for their region.
  • The average turnout for assembly elections is between 45%-50%
  • There has never been an outright majority government in the Welsh Assembly the closest is the Labour Party with 30 of the 60 seats forming a government.
  • The Welsh Labour Party has been the majority party at every Welsh Assembly Election and has formed all four Welsh Assembly Governments.
  • There have been two coalition partnerships in order to form Welsh Governments, the first being between The Welsh Labour Party and the Welsh Liberal Democrats from 1999-2003 and between the Welsh Labour Party and Plaid Cymru (The Party of Wales) from 2007 until the most recent election in 2011 which saw the formation of a Minority Government of the Welsh Labour Party.
  • The Welsh Conservatives are currently the only party represented in the Welsh Assembly that has never formed a government and is currently the official opposition the Welsh Labour Government by dint of being the second largest party in the Assembly.
  • Polls for the election will open at 7 AM on Thursday the 5th of May 2016 and Close at 10PM with results being counted and announced thereafter.

Hope that clears everything up for you all and now I know that like the rest of us politicos, you’ll be counting the days until the election…is over. Have a lovely weekend people.

Cocaine Economics and Banana Republics

Just a quick one today. Over the weekend the better half and myself have started watching HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, a show about gangsters set during prohibition.

I’m not entirely sure why but it got me thinking about the import and export of cocaine.

The idea that stuck in my mind the most came from a throwaway line in the book The White House Mess by Christopher Buckley, a satirical memoir set during a fictional presidency that in real life would have been Ronald Reagans second term in office. During the course of the book it is said that the Colombian president decides to base the Colombian economy on the price of cocaine in Miami Beach, rather than on any particular currency.

Putting aside the legal status of narcotics, this doesn’t sound like such a terrible idea. After all economies have been based on commodities values in the past (ie gold)but the ingenious thing about basing an economy on cocaine is that (again putting aside legality)one of the major things effecting demand is supply, and vice versa
And due to the addictive nature of the substance it creates it’s own circular flow of income.

Now that’s not to say that there wouldn’t be other issues that wouldn’t effect price, such as changing attitudes towards drugs, public awareness or god forbid the legalisation of the stuff, but as a basis for an economic ranking you could probably score pretty high with cocaine.

#Piggate

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This week certainly isn’t going to be a boaring week for political news. Now a lot of us can say that we’ve slept with a few pigs in our day…turns out for the Prime Minister this is literally the case. In a shocking claim, made by Lord Ashcroft, whilst at university David Cameron stuck his penis inside a pig.

Let that marinate for a moment, the Prime Minister has put his sausage in a pig.

Now putting aside jokes about pulled pork, or if the pig in question was spit roasted… how can anyone survive this sort of revelation? Will there be some sort of ham-fisted smear campaign to throw doubt on the evidence? Will Mr Cameron’s press team just claim that Lord Ashcroft’s allegations are a load of pork pies? What sort of narrative will the Conservative Party try to scratch out?
Although if you’ll pardon the expression the Labour Party must be as happy as a pig in sh*t, in a week where the new Labour leader has had to swallow a giant helping of pig shit, in what could only be described as a baptism of shite, Jeremy Corbyn has been handed a slice of fried gold in the form of the thousand and one one liners which should make PMQs a barrel of laughs for all on the opposition benches.
The internet has been quick to react with the #piggate already trending on social media, with commenters suggesting that Mr Cameron misheard the Tory Party creedo to screw the poor as screw the pork, whilst others offering this as a possible reason for recent split between long-term couple Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy.

The Internets Reaction

Now even if Mr Cameron manages to grease his way out of this situation and it’s proved that Lord Ashcroft’s squeeling has all been a load of porkies in order to make a profit David Cameron will forever be the man who fucked pigs.
But looking at the positive side of things (although for pure comedy value there is now way in hell that you could look on this badly)the Conservative Party could use this as a springboard for new policies of inclusivity towards non-traditional sexually orientation. That would be one way of making a silk purse out of a sows ear.

…Talk about making a right pigs breakfast of things. Eh Dave?

Public House

So, one of the key stones of the Conservative Party’s vision for Britain (whatever you may think of that) is the right for council house tenants and tenants of social housing to buy the house they live in. On the face of it this is a good policy giving the poorer members of society a chance to own there own home and climb up that first rung of the property ladder.

What the policy doesn’t address however is the chronic lack of social housing in the UK. In parts of the Great Britain, for a one bedroom flat, there is a 16 year waiting list.

So basically what this policy is doing is shrinking the already over stretched number of social houses in Britain. But this policy does not make adequate provisions for the building of new social housing. Therefore what Britain will soon be facing is a social housing crisis. With more and more people taking more and more houses into private ownership those waiting lists will be getting longer and longer. Now the government is not doing nothing. In order to free up social housing with less fuss the government is doing away with long term assured tenancies. Thus leaving the most vulnerable with no assurance of a place to live.

Union Bill For Idiots

Trade Unions have always been a part of British politics
Trade Unions have always been a part of British politics

Now to start off let me say that I am not, nor have I ever been a member of a trade union. Like them or loathe them trade unions have done a lot of good. Without them there would not be a minimum wage, and speaking plainly, workers would have no rights whatsoever, without unions there would be no race relations act, no age discrimination laws and no gender or sexuality discrimination legislation.

Ok so taking a look at it the Trade Union Bill, which went through its second reading this week, is like something straight out of a Thatcherite nightmare. On the surface the bill basically sets out to completely cripple the union’s mandate.

The right to strike has all but been abolished, calling for a 50% turnout and then majority vote before a strike can take place. Now to put this 50% turnout rule into context it would mean that the Welsh Assembly would only have 4 sitting members and the Scottish Parliament would be down to under 50 members and not a single British Member of the European Parliament or Police and Crime Commissioner would be able to take their seat, as well as the Mayor of London Boris Johnson (the turnout for the London Mayoral Election was a measly 38%).

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Other provisions of the bill include naming the leader of a demonstration (usually no more than a dozen blokes stood around a drum freezing their backsides off).  Double the notice unions have to give before a strike (Arthur Scargill can tell you the effects of letting people know you’re going to strike months in advance). The end to the collecting of union subs direct from salaries.

As well as this businesses will be able to employ temporary workers to cover strike action (a provision of the bill which flies directly in the face of the union movement).  On top of this and what is possibly the most reasonable part of the bill is that political contributions from union subs will now be an opt in system as opposed to an opt out system. Now I have no problem with unions funding the party that most matches their goals, but I have always thought that it should be up to the individual member to decide if they wish to support that party as well.

So the implications of this bill are that unions will never be able to strike again and the way the main opposition party in Parliament is funded will be irrevocably damaged.

Here’s hoping it has better luck in the committee stage of the bill and that it gets shafted in the Lords. I guess the Government subscribes to the idea that it wont get better if you picket.

Comin’ Over Here

Comin’ over here stealing our jobs, all claiming benefits for their 15 kids in Bongo Bongo Land, speaking foreign gibberish…This seemed to be the battle cry over Middle England during the general election, oh how much has changed over the past four months.

All it takes is a photo of a dead child and suddenly the gates are open. With hundreds of thousands calling on the government to allow thousands more refugees into the country.

Now perhaps you are saying to yourself but surely before the election the debate was about immigration? Which is true. Immigrants come to Britain to work and settle, they are entitled to work, they pay taxes and create jobs all whilst adding diversity to the cultural miasma that is Great Britain. Refugees don’t. They don’t come to Britain to work, they have no right to work, can’t pay taxes and are an active drain on the exchequer and whilst they do still add diversity to our nation, they’ve come to Britain because they literally have nowhere else to go. Their homes have been bombed, their towns levelled and their lives thrown into turmoil, all to subjugate the wills of genocidal mad men and violent fundamentalists.

Now I’ve always been pro immigration, the benefits are astounding, new fashions, new cuisines, new music, new entertainment and  new cultures, not to mention new taxpayers. But in light of recent revelations about this humanitarian crisis it is this writers opinion that more should be done in support of refugees, the United Kingdom has a moral obligation to help those in need, as the sixth wealthiest country in the world we should be both splashing the cash to help out but also looking at the root causes of this issue. Many may ask what right Britain as a nation has to interfere in the disputes and politics of other nations, but when so many are asking for help and asking for asylum, what right does Britain have to bury its head in the sand.

So to all asylum seekers who are comin’ over ‘ere…get em in.

Following Labours Lead.

Jeremy Corbyn Elected Labour Leader 12/09/15
Jeremy Corbyn Elected Labour Leader 12/09/15

You’d think they would give the poor sod the weekend to celebrate before branding him a threat to national security. So in case you missed it, the Labour Party, in a true blow to democracy have elected their most popular leadership candidate Mr Jeremy Corbyn to the position of party leader and leader of Her Majesties Loyal Opposition in the House of Commons. So naturally those that didn’t vote for Mr Corbyn or had no say in who was elected as leader of the Labour Party have now lost their collective shit, The more tame heralding the action as everything from a massive mistake and as a time machine back to the 1980’s whilst others seem to have branded Mr corbyn’s ascension to leadership as the biggest threat to national security since Al Qaeda recruited someone with a valid pilots license.

Conservative Member of Parliament for Eddisbury Antionette Sandbach has said via twitter “Our [Britain’s] economic and defence security [are] at risk with election of maverick Corbyn as Labour Leader.”

So just how is Britain’s economic and defence security being put at risk by Mr Corbyn? Easy. It isn’t. The leader of the opposition’s only real influence on government policy is that the government will undoubtedly do the opposite of whatever is in Mr Corbyn’s leadership manifesto.

So what is so terrible about Jeremy Corbyn I hear you ask, now aside from being a teetotaller, Mr Corbyn seems more inclined towards social justice than profiteering, offering visions of defence cuts to pay for the NHS. Mr Corbyn also seems to be of the mindset that essential services are there to be of service rather than be profitable, as well as this Jeremy has shown a Major interest in the rights of women and the young and is a firm believer in the trade union movement. Shock Horror, a socialist with actual socialist values at the head of a political party with its roots in the socialist workers movement.

Tell you what though Jez, The Man Down The Local raises a glass to you and says good luck to you mate, you’ll need it.