Friday, 30 April 2010

Tory promises?

Give you the right to sack your MP

All parties are doing this, you don't need to vote Tory to get it. In fact can we trust them, given only the Lib Dems voted for this power in the existing parliament?

Cut the number of MPs by ten per cent, and cut the subsidies and perks for politicians.

Tories certainly aren't the only ones that are tackling the pay and perks for MPs, but what's this tosh about cutting the number of MPs? The Tories would rather you're less represented in your area, and in doing so extend boundaries in a way that will ONLY favour the Tories. How? It'll make Labour and Lib Dem seats less safe while INCREASING the safety of Tory MPs in theirs.

Don't be fooled, this isn't reform, this is the tories trying to game the already corrupt system more in their favour.

Cut ministers’ pay by five per cent, and freeze it for five years.

A fine promise, and one that is nothing more than pandering to emotions rather than reality. This would save an inconsequential amount of money over the course of a parliament, and there are no guarantees he wouldn't then increase ministerial pay above inflation once this is all blown over.

Give local communities the power to take charge of the local planning system and vote on excessive council tax rises.

No specific promise on HOW they're going to give communities power, so this is a wolly promise they'll be able to claim is done no matter what. But what's this, voting on "excessive" council tax rises? What is excessive? and more to the point why is it positive to give people the power to hamstring their own services, especially in areas where the rich don't use those services but should be helping the "big society" function?

Make government transparent, publishing every item of government spending over £25,000, all government contracts, and all local council spending over £500.

As will all the other parties, but let me ask...why such arbitrary figures?

Cut wasteful government spending so we can stop Labour’s jobs tax, which would kill the recovery.

I thought Cameron described cutting "waste" as a trick? A trick that you can mould in to a promise obviously. The reality is this is a promise, as with their manifesto, based on information on cuts they're not giving you.

Act now on the national debt, so we can keep mortgage rates lower for longer.

Despite all economic advice, the Tories will indeed endanger our economy by cutting jobs and services too early...all for the sake of some mortgage rates it seems. What good are mortgage rates if people are losing their jobs, may I ask?

Reduce emissions and build a greener economy, with thousands of new jobs in green industries and advanced manufacturing.

How? If you're going to promise something you need to give something to measure those promises up against for christ sake!

Get Britain working by giving unemployed people support to get work, creating 400,000 new apprenticeships and training places over two years, and cutting benefits for those who refuse work.

Yes, the Tories actually promise that if you're out of work, and you can't find work because there are no jobs available, then you will be deemed to be the sort of person that will have to either a) be forced in to community service or b) be kicked off your benefits. A promise by the "compassionate" Tories

Control immigration, reducing it to the levels of the 1990s – meaning tens of thousands a year, instead of the hundreds of thousands a year under Labour.

A promise they can't actually control, since most immigration comes from the EU which the Tories are not claiming to control. Instead they want to introduce an arbitrary cap which could damage business as skills are turned away because we already reached our "quota"

Increase spending on health every year, while cutting waste in the NHS, so that more goes to nurses and doctors on the frontline, and make sure you get access to the cancer drugs you need.

Of course everyone already gets the cancer drugs they need, what the Tories want is to waste money on ineffective drugs for political gains, taking healthcare out of the hands of the independent professionals and into their own as they make these stupid political promises.

Support families, by giving married couples and civil partners a tax break, giving more people the right to request flexible working and helping young families with extra Sure Start health visitors.

Yes, £150 a year for the man if his wife stays at home. Meanwhile under the lib dems the same family would get £700 extra a year. Aside from how stupid and inconsequential this political soundbite of a policy is, it's also immoral. The man would be able to get £150 of his wife's tax allowance, he could abuse her, and then leave her with the kids as he goes and marries someone else. And what does the abused wife now in desperate need of help get from the Tories? Nothing, and the guy still gets his £150 because his new wife is a stay at home traditional 1950's wife too.

Raise standards in schools, by giving teachers the power to restore discipline and by giving parents, charities and voluntary groups the power to start new smaller schools.

Again, how are we measuring this "raise in standard", yet another promise that they'll be able to say they achieved by concocting the right mix of statistics. I'm not going to even get in to the logisitical and financial nightmare that it would be to give powers to people to start their own schools.

Increase the basic state pension, by relinking it to earnings, and protect the winter fuel allowance, free TV licences, free bus travel and other key benefits for older people.

Sad times when a Tory party has to promise things that all other parties wouldn't have even thought of cutting.

Fight back against crime, cut paperwork to get police officers on the street, and make sure criminals serve the sentence given to them in court.

I'm sure all the other parties would promise to "fight back against crime", indeed at least the Lib Dems are promising to cut paperwork. The idea, of course, that criminals don't serve the time the courts give them (aside from a minute amount of early releases due to Labour overpopulating our prisons, just as Tories would do with their tough stance on "crime"), is nonsense.

Create National Citizen Service for every 16 year old, to help bring the country together.

Is it voluntary or not? We just can't be sure can we....

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

My question to the leaders' debate

On Wednesday Anselme Noumbiwa was deported back to a country he fled from, fearing for his life after being tortured by his local tribe. In 2008 Jacqui Smith claimed it was safe to send gay Iranian asylum seekers back to a country that would kill them for their sexuality because they could "be discreet". Under the veneer of tempering anti-immigration feeling in this country, what will you do to better protect legitimate asylum seekers from being sent back to their worst nightmare?

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Lib Dems soft on crime?

The attack is being made by some Tory supporters, and may be in the near future by the party proper, that the Lib Dems are soft on crime. It's a traditional attack that is rooted in the Lib Dem's penchant for penal reform and modern techniques of dealing with crime such a restorative justice.

Is it fair to say they are soft, therefore, on crime in this 2010 General Election? Let's see... (You can find all of this information, unless otherwise stated, in the three party manifestos: Labour, Tory, Lib Dem)

3000 more police (actual Lib Dem policy is 10,000 though no doubt this figure is less due to the current economic situation). Tories and Labour currently don't want to offer any more police. This will be backed up by the same sort of measures that the Tories and Labour no doubt wish to employ to get police out of the office and back onto the beat.

Then there's the policy to have elected police authorities. Surely nothing is stronger in terms of message to our police than to say the people will have more say in how they're run? I happen to be really unsure about this policy, but it is at least significantly better than the easily abusable "elected police chiefs" policy of the Tories, where a concerted effort by a fringe extremist group could see police forces hijacked for nefarious means. Labour are, as always, happy to dictate rather than converse.

On drugs the Lib Dems don't differ from either Tories or Labour in wanting to switch the focus of drug related crime punishment to rehabilitation. The difference is that they also wish to have advice provided by an independent scientific body, not tampered with like Labour currently do, and as the Tories support Labour in doing, with their advisory council.

Lib Dems do want to stop building new prisons to save money, unlike the other two parties. Lib Dems would prefer that people sentenced to 6-month to one year sentences aren't automatically sent to jail. those short sentences would still be an option where necessary but where not they can do community service, or other such punishment as reasonably decided by the local community and victims of their petty crimes.

What about the others? Labour are happy to continue imprisoning more and more people despite the high re-offending rate. Perhaps most interestingly the Tories own Ian Duncan Smith agrees with the Lib Dem policy and wants short term prison sentences to be abolished, a step further even than the situation the Lib Dems are calling for (though on a smaller sentence timescale).

Given the right circumstances the Tories will enact almost exactly the same policy the Lib Dems are calling for right now!

Is this the stance of a party that is soft on crime, or a party that is more intent on prevention than punishment? To me it doesn't appear that there is an awful lot that the three parties would do different on crime, except that Lib Dems would better fund our police and apply a new (and arguably better) strategies.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Complaint to the BBC re: Lib Dem bias, 17th April 2010

So, I've just written a complain about BBC Dateline London. I have no problem with opinion and criticism, but it really is time for the BBC to pull it's socks up and treat all parties fairly. If they're going to be part of the push to scrutinise Lib Dem policy more carefully then they also ought to give them the same right of reply that the two main parties receive. Hell, that should be happening ANYWAY.

I've just been watching Dateline London, horrified to see that a significant proportion of air time was given to a woman that works for a Conservative supporting broadsheet to attack the Lib Dem's without a Lib Dem supporting individual given appropriate time to answer her criticisms and, unfortunately lies.

For example she claims that it is Lib Dem policy to "cut spending on everything". I paraphrase, but clearly she has misrepresented to the British public the policy of "do not protect any budgets" as "cut spending on everything". This is an untruth that was not given to anyone to debunk or explain.

She further went on to presume to tell the British public what they were thinking. This isn't so bad, it's her opinion. But again no individual was given the opportunity on an equal airtime basis to stand up for those that consider themselves Lib Dem supporters who would be insulted by that insinuation.

Finally she described, from her own analysis, the poll results as the people "joking" to shake up the two main parties. Again, no problem with her having this opinion but far from anyone being able to argue from the opposite perspective the host of BBC Dateline London actually seemed to solidify this analysis by comparing the latest poll results to the public voting for John Sergeant in BBC's Strictly Come Dancing.

During this election period, where you are having panel members that are clearly biased towards one party, you must include other panellists that are likely to be an opposite voice for the British people AND give them the opportunity to criticise the biased views of their fellow panellists.

I assume that it will be avaiable to watch again soon.

Edit: I have a response

I shouldn't be surprised but the BBC haven't addressed my main complaint which is that someone on their program actually LIED about Lib Dem policy and no-one was there to ensure that was rebuked. It had nothing to do with the Lib Dem response over the course of the day, it's to do with individual "debate" shows having no people to defend claims being made, falsely, by people with vested interests.

Dear Mr Griffin

Thanks for your e-mail regarding the BBC News channel on the 24 March.

Please accept our apologies for the delay in replying. We know our
correspondents appreciate a quick response and we're sorry you've had to
wait on this occasion.

We understand you felt that the Liberal Democrat response was given
insufficient coverage and you felt this displayed bias.

The live Budget programme on BBC Two and the BBC News channel broadcast
Nick Clegg's Commons speech in full, as well as live interviews with
Charles Kennedy and the Liberal Democrats' Treasury spokesman Jeremy Browne.

All subsequent coverage on TV, radio and online featured the Liberal
Democrats' response.

With this in mind we can't agree that our Budget coverage on this day was
biased against the Liberal Democrats or that it did not give them
sufficient coverage.

We'd like to assure you that we've registered your comments on our audience
log. This is the internal report of audience feedback which we compile
daily for all programme makers and commissioning executives within the BBC,
and also their senior management. It ensures that your points, and all
other comments we receive, are circulated and considered across the BBC.

Thanks again for taking the time to contact us with your concerns.


BBC Complaints