Blair’s legacy: a break with the unions?

December 13, 2006

If reports in the Guardian (twice), Times and Telegraph are right, Blair’s Christmas present to the Labour party is set to be a proposed break with the trade unions.  Hayden Phillips – the man asked to looked into funding issues surrounding big businessmen buying peerages – seems to have gone off on one and come up with radical proposals on all aspects of party funding. 

Reports have dribbling out of Westminster like undercooked fat out of a turkey’s backside this week, but piecing everything together, Hayden Phillips looks set to propose:

* Capping trade union and corporate donations, lumping collective organisations of millions, with democratic structures and accountability, in the same boat as the spivs and fat cats in the city.

* Ending collective affiliation of trade union members to the Labour party, replacing it with individualised membership for levy payers, direct with the party – not through the union.

* Forcing unions (or the party itself) to check in with members every single yearif they want to continue their new indivdualised membership of the party.  (Unions currently have to consult members in a ballot on continuing collective membership every ten years.)

* BUT – cleverly, Phillips will allow individual members of unions to give “up to £50,000”, just like rich businessmen.  Which is, we’re sure, a huge relief to dinner ladies in UNISON and bus drivers in the T&G.

The proposals have the “sympathy” of the Prime Minister and according to the Guardian, “Mr Blair and Mr Cameron discussed the inquiry during a private meeting last month”.  Labour MPs are apparently up in arms and – the Telegraph tells us – held a meeting on Monday night to discuss the issue.

If MPs are “ballistic” about these proposals, they might want to do something about it.  Someone in the government or in the unions is telling the Guardian, the Times and the Telegraph what is going on — but from where party members are sitting, it looks like all MPs have done so far is having a bit of a meeting.  MP Kevan Jones, in the Telegraph, stuck his head above the parapet, calling TU donations “the most democratic and transparent money of all”.  However, Nick Palmer busy commenting on, tells us that the rumours are so bad that they can’t be true. 

That’s not good enough.

Labour people don’t agree on every issue, but there is real consensus across the whole party on the importance of the party-union link.  The bottom line is that if we end the union link – which these proposals would do – then the party is over.  

Since 2003, reports have suggested Blair has been worried that his legacy will the disasterous mess which is Iraq.  But Blair now has a cunning plan to erase that from memory – instead, he is going to leave us a disastrous mess of a Labour Party in meltdown.


Going, going, gone

December 7, 2006

Well, it took them a while but the Freedom Association have finally backed down and removed the BNP supporter from their Better Off Out campaign’s membership list.

Readers may remember that this has taken quite an effort. First off, Mark Wallace, the campaign manager, said that they wouldn’t take his name off because: “we are not intended to promote or discriminate against any legal political party.”

They then came up with the wheeze of just pretending that he wasn’t in the BNP by taking the party name off the list.

Finally, the hard right campaign has removed BNP member Giuseppe di Santis’s name from the list. It is certainly welcome that his name has been removed, but frankly it shouldn’t have taken this long for them to do the decent thing.

Cameron: talking tough on talking tough on terror

November 22, 2006

The latest Dave Cameron classic press release spends half the space trying to sound tough on terrorism before… attacking politicians who talk tough on terrorism.

Interestingly, the original press notice differs in tone from the post-speech one on the Tories’ website. The missive sent out earlier today, announced that he will “call for a dedicated border security force and a new security minister” to “bring about a single minded focus to protecting Britain from terrorist threat.”

It said he’ll call for action to “remove unwanted and dangerous” foreign nationals“. He warned of thousands of terrorists who are “planning ways of causing mass casualties on the streets of Britain“. “Some are foreign” he deduced, “Some are British citizens… but all of them are inspired by terrorists and ideologies abroad.”

He then brazenly moved on to say that “politicians should never use national security for political advantage or use the issue to try to portray themselves as “tougher” than their opponents”

ToryHome bloggers line up behind racist councillor

November 6, 2006

News is doing the rounds about the Tory councillor, Ellenor Bland, Calne Town councillor and former Tory parliamentary candidate, who has been sending round racist emails.

The email contained the lines:
“We think UK darn good place. Too darn good for the white man race! If they no like us, they can scram. Got lots of room in Pakistan!”

The councillor in question has now been suspended and is claiming that it was her husband who sent it.

But questions remain as to how strong her support within the Conservative party is. The debate thread on ConservativeHome is revealing. Comments range from “what a fuss about nothing”, to “It’s a jokey rhyming poem pointing out what a soft touch we’ve become. Why can’t they just laugh this off?” and “All TRUE Tories (there aren’t many MPs who can legitimately call themselves this) must be aghast that this poor lady is being made into the sacrificial lamb by this ghastly leader, whilst that degenerate Gregory Barker (MP for Bexhill who had a gay affair with his ‘interior designer’) has no reprimand whatsoever.”

Regular readers of The Daily will also remember the Tory councillors John Hudson, Derek Tipp and Keith Standring who refused to back down from sharing a campaigning platform with a named BNP member on the Freedom Association’s Better Off Out campaign.

Ex-Tory Chancellor: Environmentalists like Islamic fundamentalists

November 2, 2006

Nigel Lawson takes some time out to remind us that beneath the wind-turbine, ikea lightbulb and huskie enviro-spin of DC, those Tories retain a deep vein of hostility towards solving the looming environmental crisis that faces the planet.

While most people have reacted to Stern’s warning that we must act now not later to curb carbon emissions by thinking about how best to reduce those emissions, Nigel starts by trying to rubbish Stern. “If scaremongering seems a trifle harsh, I should point out that, as a good civil servant, he was simply doing his masters’ bidding,” he asserts.

Although he recognises that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas and that it has increased in the atmosphere, he asks what this means for the future of global warming and concludes that, “the only honest answer is that we don’t know.”

He then meanders through the well trodden path taken by the “man-made global warming deniers“, now widely discredited among scientists. The trip takes in the “medieval warm period”, vineyards on Hadrian’s wall and ice fairs on the Thames.

The best way to deal with this cyclical global warming, he argues, is not to cut emissions but rather, the “most important part of the answer to the question of what we should do about the threat of global warming: adapt to it.”

Nevermind that rising sea levels could see 15% of Bangladesh engulfed by the ocean. They can receive “international assistance” for dikes.

So why is everyone so worried about this crisis then? Simple, “Throughout the ages something deep in man’s psyche has made him receptive to apocalyptic warnings: “the end of the world is nigh”.

These fears are being played on by the “new priests” who are scientists, of course. Scientists are the clerics of the “new religion is eco-fundamentalism.”

Furthermore, “the new religion of eco-fundamentalism does present dangers on at least three levels.” And those are the danger of “anti-Americanism” causing measure to be implemented that damage the economy (green taxes), that it might cause hostility to the “market economy” and, even worse, to give in to “ecofundamentalism” is to give up reason and tolerance, similar to Islamic fundamentalism.

Yes, the former Tory Chancellor of the Exchequer thinks that there is equivalence between people who campaign to stop global warming like Friends of the Earth and the 9/11 bombers, the Taliban, Richard Reid and the July 7th bombers.

In his own words:

Today we are very conscious of the threat we face from the supreme intolerance of Islamic fundamentalism. It could not be a worse time to abandon our own traditions of reason and tolerance, and to embrace instead the irrationality and intolerance of ecofundamentalism

Tories go on anti-choice rampage

October 29, 2006

The new cuddly Tories are to let the mask slip a little on Tuesday with an attempt to make it significantly harder for woman to have an abortion.  Nadine Dorries, a 2005 intake Tory, is so determined to push the restrictive law through that she has apparently hired a PR firm to help sell the proposals.  Presumably, she hasn’t paid for the PR firm herself, which begs the question where the cash comes from.

Dorries’ Bill – which has no real chance of becoming law – would do two things.  First, it would reduce the term limit at which a foetus can be aborted from 24 weeks to 20 weeks.  Second, it would introduce a compulsory “10 day delay” period, meaning that women would be forced to wait until later in their pregnancy to act on a decision they have already made – a decision which has to be approved by two doctors.

First off – reducing the term limit at which abortions can be carried out.  Less than 1% of abortions happen after 21 weeks, and the argument of Davies (who appeared on the Heaven and Earth show this morning) that these late abortions are carried out for “social reasons”, beggars belief.  Davies has produced no evidence for this claim.  A ten minute rule bill is hardly the sort of place to bring together doctors (90% of whom are pro-choice) and scientists to debate the issues.

Secondly, the cooling off period.  This is a direct import from the anti-choice campaigners in the US.  It is intended to give vocal campaigners and extremists space to initimdate persuade women not to go through with their decision.  The irony of Dorries’ combining of these two initiatives is that the cooling off period will lead to more late abortions, not less.

The Bill is effectively an extension of the “dog whistle” tactics that right-wingers use on race in to the abortion issue.  They won’t openly say that they oppose all abortion, but it is a coded message for anti-abortion activists that the Tories are on their side.

The Bill will be voted on as a free vote, but it will be interesting to see which MPs vote which way, and in fact which MPs make the effort to attend this unwhipped vote.

Gay tory candidate quits in homophobia row

October 26, 2006

News reaches us from Wakefield that a Nathan Garbutt, a 21 year old Tory candidate in the recent local elections, has quit the Tory Party in a row over allegations of homophobia.

Garbutt, who said, “the local Conservatives have always tried to keep my sexuality quiet”, finally left when local members were “outraged” that he planned to appear in gay magazine Attitude.

He said: “Most Conservatives in Wakefield are grey-haired, grey suit-wearing, straight men. I was surprised by their reaction because I thought it was a brilliant opportunity to show we were more diverse than people think.

“I think they are worried that Wakefield people are strait-laced and it might reflect badly on them.”

During a recent visit from Ann Widdecombe, he was told not to mention his sexuality. 

However, Garbutt, a founder member of the local youth group Conservative Future, warned that other young people in the local party would be discouraged: “There are quite a few gay people in Conservative Future, but a lot of them are now reconsidering their positions.”

But Cllr Philip Booth, deputy leader of the Conservative Group, retorted that, “It has absolutely nothing to do with sexuality. If he had raised it with us he would have been told it wasn’t an issue”