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Early election darling?

By Angela Harbutt
February 26th, 2010 at 1:00 pm | 1 Comment | Posted in UK Politics

Following on from Guido’s post, I have had confirmation from a couple of other news organsations that they too are on standby for an announcement this weekend.

Of course, we have heard this before. And being on “standby” does not mean that a decision HAS been made or WILL be made. But something is definitely going on.

Maybe they could not see eye to eye on the budget afterall…..

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Past,present,future of the Liberals..

By Angela Harbutt
February 26th, 2010 at 12:38 pm | 1 Comment | Posted in Liberal Democrats

Here’s a 5 minute film put together by BBC’s The One Show looking at the past, present and, most importantly, the possible future of the Liberal Democrats. Timely questions.

You can see the whole programme on iplayer.

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How would you change UK democracy? LAST CHANCE TO VOTE

By Julian Harris
February 22nd, 2010 at 2:57 pm | 4 Comments | Posted in UK Politics

There are but ten hours to go in the Power 2010 vote on changing British democracy.

You can vote, very easily. Takes barely a minute. If you’re going to do it, do it now.


In lieu of a grand “which ones should liberals vote for” post, here are some that I’d personally recommend voting for:

  • Introduce a proportional voting system
  • Scrap ID cards and roll back the database state
  • A fully elected second chamber
  • Expand the Freedom of Information Act
  • Votes at 16

Post your disagreements below.

Councillor gravy train – the sequel…

By Angela Harbutt
February 19th, 2010 at 11:50 am | 7 Comments | Posted in UK Politics

cashBack in April 2009 I wrote a piece “Councillors join the gravy train”  pointing out the ludicrous rise in councillors remuneration in recent years.  

Now, despite a demand from the Government for councils to allow public scrutiny of senior local authority officials pay and benefits, Councils have resisted the order. The reason  – it  would lead to a public outcry- that “it could lead to personalised attacks” … officials “families could be at risk of abuse” etc etc. I don’t know about you but that has eyebrows raised in my house  – just how big a scandal is this if Councils think the public reaction to seeing who is being paid exactly what, will be that extreme ? My oh my what are they hiding? Just how big IS this latest scandal.

It was obvious. Following the MP expenses scandal,  public service officials income and benefits needed greater transparency. As part of a “cleaning up of politics” process, the Government, rightly, sought to make public the pay and benefits, allowances and pay-offs of local authority officials earning over £50,000. Its much harder to pay over-inflated salaries and above inflation pay rises when the voters can see what you are doing and who is getting what.

So how come the Government has apparantly backed off from this demand? Following, the frankly ludicrous bleating of councils as to why they should not let the voters see the figures, they have somehow won ! The government has accepted that only those local government officials earning over £150,000 will be identified (thats still over 100 of them). Allowing thousands of senior local authority officials to continue hiding behind anonymity.

And not only are many local authority officials on astonishingly high incomes – they have been getting huge pay rises a over the last couple of years as the rest of Britain suffers.

It’s a disgrace. And something that we, as taxpayers, should not put up with. If officials can’t justify the salaries and benefits they are on – they shouldn’t be getting it.


Are we turning German? (or, The rise of the dual word)

By Tom Papworth
February 16th, 2010 at 12:16 pm | 3 Comments | Posted in Uncategorized

The lexicon of government neologisms is a heavy and depressing tome. Indeed, politicians and bureaucrats have a remarkable capacity to speak differently from everybody else.

Remember Tony Blair’s ‘sentences’ without verbs? Or the verbisation (sic.) of nouns (the latter not unique to government, as anybody who has ever partied will attest)? When did encouraging and rewarding become “incentivisation”?

The latest fad seems to be in conflating words, creating one word where two would do. A couple of years ago the new anti-smoking legislation led to the creation of “Smokefree” zones.

Today I learn that TfL is to urge London’s motorcyclists to get ‘BikeSafe‘ while being invited to a ‘Smartmoves‘ conference.

The Local Government Association sought to discourage around 200 examples of local government jargon last year, but they seem to be fighting a losing battle against the forces of ‘newspeak‘.