Friday, 26 November 2010

It's now time for the Blessed Vince to pipe down on the bonus question

So goes the wisdom of bankers. On the day that Vince warns bankers about excess bonuses again, I bring you the political pronouncements of the bankers themselves.

In a letter to clients from an investment management firm passed to me, they have this to say on the political issues of the day:

"Whilst one may dislike good companies disappearing, particularly to overseas predators, it is surprising how often they resurface at a future date in a somewhat different form after some imaginative financiers have had a bob or two. Apart from contributing to some banker's bonus, takeovers keep a lot of company directors on their toes to the overall common good.

"It is probably now time for the Blessed Vince to pipe down on the bonus question and remember that one banker's £1 million pound bonus is very often the Chancellor's £500,000 tax take - a fact that is conveniently forgotten in banker bashing. "

Well, Vince has been dubious about the "common good" of some takeovers for a while now and has also expressed the view that excessive bonus may be better spent, in the "common good", lending to small companies or improving the fragile banks balance sheets to allow them to lend more and to improve the worth of TAX-PAYER OWNED banks. But thank to Messrs Bankers I can now see the error of my ways!

UPDATE: Due to the letter passer being paranoid, I've now removed the company name!

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Brian Coleman insults our Lynne...again!

You may remember, a couple of years back, Brian Coleman, Conservative Chair of the London Fire Authority, called Lynne Featherstone, "dizzy", "an airhead" and "an utter disgrace" for calling out the fire brigade when she thought her boiler was going to explode and take her house down. Her actions were backed up as the right thing to have done by the fire brigade.

Well, amazingly, Brian is still chair of the Fire Authority and in Today's Hampstead and Highgate Express he's back to his old tricks. Amongst the other insults liberally flung around he says:

"Lynne Featherstone is entirely light-weight. God knows how she manages as a minister"


Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Oi, students! Answer this!

What would you rather the LibDems have done:

a) Have all 57 MPs valiantly keep to their pledge and vote against the unfettered, uncompromising and unprogressive (Labour-initiated) Browne proposals for a cap-less full free market in tuition fees with no allowances for poorer students and then valiantly see these proposals go through with the votes of 500 Tory and Labour MPs (to be fair, now they are in opposition I'm sure some Labour MPs will now abstain but not enough to change the result).


b) Trade our votes with our coalition partners to make the Browne package better, fairer and more progressive for Students

Any rants/comments are expected to start with an answer and working. I thank you!

Having said that, I don't think having Vince denying there is a trust issue with breaking the pledge (and it was/will be broken, however justified) is particularly right or helpful. I don't know what our press operation has been doing all this time. Surely they could have seen this coming? The leadership should have been out there explaining this (along the lines above) a long time ago instead of putting their heads in the sand and hoping this would all go away and allowing this "betrayal" narrative to develop (which the media are only too happy to perpetuate).

But then, in my opinion, this is just a continuation as we also had an appalling election campaign (okay that's over-stating it a tad, but it was just the usual depressing long line of missed opportunities) starting with that appallingly bland slogan and logo and then that embarrassingly misjudged VAT bombshell poster (when even your own politicians look embarrassed unveiling it you have to ask - oh and that hasn't caused us any problems at all...) just making us look like any other party. Yes the first debate was great but we didn't seem to move foward in the subsequent two or capitalise on them (evidentally).

Er... I digress but only slightly as the tuition fees problems were all eminently foreseeable and have done us tremendous damage but not, I would argue, by the facts themselves but by the mishandling of them.

UPDATE: Also, what he said.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

It was ever thus

Student protests have always been ruined by a small section looking to cause trouble. They have always been the Socialist Workers (neither socialist or workers!). They included a surprisingly high concentration of sons and daughters of bishops and high court judges and would spend most of their time on campus debating whether they should actively start the revolution or just be prepared when it inevitable comes due to the failure of capitalism.

On every student protest I went to in London there was always at the edge of the peaceful protest, members of the socialist workers party (SWP) snarling at police and calling them "pigs" in the hope of fomenting some violence.  On one particular protest ("grants not loans", that dates me!) I was leading a small but dedicated LibDem contingent from our University and we ended up waving out LibDem self-augmented NUS placards amongst an SWP contingent who then all sat down in the middle of the road as part of their protest. Well, we agreed with the aims of the march and to show that us lily-livered LibDems weren't afraid of a bit of civil disobedience we sat down too. This conversation ensued:

SW bloke: What are you doing?
Us: We're protesting again the withdrawl of grants
SW bloke: But you're LibDems!
Us:  And we agree with free education
SW bloke: You shouldn't be here
Us: Yes but we share a common aim and feel strongly about the cause
SW bloke: No, we're here to get our heads smashed in by the police
Us: er...alright then, we'll just be off then...

During my first year we actually had a LibDem student union president (amazing!) so the union actually had sensible relations with the administration for once and it was unprecedentedly agreed with the administration (who shared our concerns) that the students would stage an overnight "occupation" of the central venue (which was owned by the University and which they otherwise rented out for a good income most nights) in protest at the government's plans. This was well organised and publicised (getting wider publicity for our cause being a constant problem). Various local news teams turned up and even a crew from Channel 4 news. There were going to film the initial meeting/debate of the occupiers. This was publicity money couldn't buy, it seems like we were actually going to break through into the media for once. Exciting times.

Except when the meeting starting, the SWPers just constantly stood up and were loudly f'ing and blinding about smashing the system etc., so unsurprisingly none of it got on TV. We felt quite deflated when the media had moved on and we were left there to spend the night.

Every couple of hours throughout the night the SWP kept calling meetings of the "occupation committee" (that they'd made up) and tried to pass a motion that we'd occupy the building indefinitely. Everytime everyone grudgingly got out of their sleeping bags to attend and vote against them. They lost everytime and were in a clear minority.

By the morning when people were packing up and preparing to leave, there was a sudden influx of SWPers from somewhere (they were not there overnight), there was a hastily convened meeting of the "occupation committee" and the motion to occupy indefinitely was passed due to weight of numbers. Everyone else left.

The situation dragged on for another day or so, windows were smashed and, in the end, the police were called. Bridges were burnt and a it was a waste of everyone's time!

I never went on a protest that wasn't ruined by the SWP!

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Film 2010 f*** up

Oh dear, looks like the BBC will be apologising again tomorrow.

On Film 2010 on BBC1 tonight at the beginning of the first review, clearly someone didn't cut the sound from somewhere and we heard a female voice over the programme saying something like:

"They ask if I have problems with fans, Well, I don't give a f***"

Claudia Winkleman later apologised in case we had heard something we shouldn't have but not to worry if we didn't. Well we did! Not that I'm bothered and it was after the watershed but I'm sure someone will moan!

Friday, 5 November 2010

The LibDem media curse strikes again!

Typical! Phil Woolas is found guilty and the NUJ are on strike meaning there isn't much news on the BBC networks!

Is it just me or is this video in this BBC article a little bizarre? I'm probably missing a legal nicety here but I can understand distraught families of victims not wishing to talk to the media and letting their lawyer read a statement but responding to a court judgement yourself quite happily and then getting your lawyer to then read a statement from you whilst still sitting next to him is just a little odd.

So, the by-election...Brown-trousers time? Logic would dictate that in the current national circumstances Labour would increase their majority. However on the plus side we can finally start trying to explain the coalition and our gains in it to real people en masse and see how that goes. You never know...

I hope we do modify our campaigning to deal with the new circumstances and start defending the sometimes complex decisions we have taken rather than reducing it to more flippant headlines. I know this is electorally naive (5 seconds from letterbox to bin etc.) but we should have a bit of a lead in here and I'd love to see if a more intelligent campaign could work...