Tuesday, November 28, 2006

And the biggest tossers of all are ...

So just days after suggesting that young people in debt are all 'tossers' the Tory Party turn out to be the biggest tossers of all.

According to the latest figures from the Electoral Commission the Tories owe a total of £35.3 million pounds.

Of this £3.6 million is owed to 'Lanners Services Limited', a company registered in the British Virgin Islands, £3.5 million to Lord Laidlaw and £2.5 million to 'Morain Investments UK Ltd'.

Around half is owed to the Allied Irish Bank.

The total includes large loans to local Conservative Associations including Harrogate & Knaresborough, Kingston & Surbiton and St Ives. I assume some of those are related to property, but clearly some local associations overstretched themselves printing all those leaflets claiming that the Lib Dems don't know how to manage money properly.

There is a serious issue here. The Conservatives spent money like there was no tomorrow with the aim of unseating Lib Dem and Labour MPs at the last election. It is now clear that they were spending money they didn't have. Would voters in those Tory target seats have been so keen to switch had they known that the Tory campaign was being paid for on the never never?

Labour are clearly deep in the s**t too.

Clearly they should have had Gordon in charge of the pennies rather than Tony.

Labour owe more than £10 million to the Co-operative Bank and more than £4 million to the Unity Trust Bank, a vehicle through which the Unions lend money to the Labour Party.

Much of the rest is owed to wealthy individuals, many of whom were coincidently put forward for peerages by Blair.

Labour's big problem appears be that their income from donations is drying up. This is due to their over-reliance on big donors, many of whom seem to have become somewhat shy of late. (And who can blame them)

This raises the same issue as it did with the Tories. Labour spent millions during the last week of the campaign last time in an attempt to squeeze down the Lib Dem votes. If they had spent within their means they wouldn't have been able to.

Would they have won seats like Islington South, Oxford East and Watford if they hadn't borrowed all that money?

While the Lib Dems do have some debts there are two key differences with the other main parties:

1 The Lib Dems have consistently reported their loans to the Electoral Commission in line with the advice they sought several years ago.

2 The overall level of indebtedness is much lower, compared to regular income, than the other parties.

That is why the Lib Dems are continuing to expand their professional campaign organisation and support on the ground.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Muse - bombtastic mate!

Sometimes, just sometimes, you get to see a band when they really are on top of their game.

Queen on the Magic tour in '86, Guns 'n' Roses on the Use Your Illusion Tour, Metallica on the Black Album tour.

If you are a fan of live music you will know what I mean.

Last night I saw Muse at Wembley, and boy do they rock.

They do bombast, they do stadium anthems, they do it loudly and proudly. They are hitting heights they they can only have dreamt of when they got going in Teignbridge only a few years ago and they clearly know it and love it.

They wear their influences on their sleeve, coming on to U2's Vertigo and with pretty obvious nods to Queen and others along the way.

And with their new single 'Knights of Cydonia' about to be released they can even claim to be bringing prog rock to the masses.


Friday, November 17, 2006

Spot on

The new Lib Dem video - which you can see on the right - has got the message spot on.

Unlike the spin and imagery of the other parties the Lib Dems stick to the issues, and rightly so.

At the end of the day what really matters in politics is getting the judgement right.

On Iraq Brown and Cameron followed Blair into the lobbies to vote for the invasion.

Ming Campbell and the Lib Dems voted against.

On the environment we have had hot air and gimmicks from Brown and Cameron.

Only the Lib Dems have come up with solid, workable policies.

On the NHS Brown and cameron have continually supported the ideological push towards privatisation and endless reform.

Ming Campbell and the Lib Dems have taken a far more sensible approach.

At the next election the public will have a simple choice: Brown/Cameron spin or Lib Dem substance.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Victory for Webb, Fawcett goes down fighting

Barring something very odd happening in the recount Democrat challenger Jim Webb has taken Virginia by a small margin.

I soent the early hours of this morning in the company of Ken the Militant Moderate and various assorted Oxford students round at Richard Huzzey's gaff.

As well as watching the utterly bizarre Jim Pinkerton (who, I assume, is what Democratc bloggers mean when they call someone a 'wingnut') on Sky we were glued to the Virginia State elections site which added up the votes as the precincts reported. It was nailbit9ing stuff with Webb trailing by anywhere beteen 38 and 20,000 votes as the morning progressed.

I left Oxford at 4.30 ish and listened to the much more sensible Radio 4 coverage on my way home and arrived to put CNN on who were then showing a small Webb lead.

Having had a few hours kip I found Webb's victory speech which is very good and also a good demonstration of some of the differences between us and them. [It doesn't work in Firefox for me but does in Explorer]. Claiming victory at the earliest opportunity is always sensible in these situations as it immediately makes your opponent look like a sore loser if there is a rerun.

Sadly my namesake, and by far and away the better candidate, didn't make it in CO-05. although he did record a very respectable 13% swing from 2004.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

In praise of Ruth Archer

At least The Archers provided brief respite from the mounting election excitement.

And, indeed, a respite from mounting altogether.

I was pretty sure Ruth would end up doing the decent thing. I mean, Radio 4 were never likely to, you know, have people, like, 'doing it', were they?

I've been listening to The Archers for as long as I can remember. It was staple listening when, as a child, I used to go with my Dad down to his allotment and he would have it on his radio. I still listen to it regularly now, and it always makes me feel nostalgic, in a good way.

Is the US really in a position to lecture anyone about democracy?

There has been much discussion about the US elections - and just now it does look like we are going to be in for an interesting night. (I will be heading for Richard Huzzey's shortly to watch the results with him).

Reading the blogs today - particularly the various threads on Daily Kos - I have been astounded at how the richest country in the world, the only remaining superpower, the country that wants to export democracy to the rest of the world - can't even organise for its own citizens to vote.

There are widespread reports of people having to wait hours to vote, of inadequate staffing, of various types of electronic voting machines that don't work, of election staff who don't know the rules about ID and more.

And that's without the robo-calling, the intimidation of latino and black voters, the deliberate misinformation and the Republicans distributing leaflets claiming that they are democrats in Democrat areas.

Maybe they should restore confidence in theor own system before lecturing the rest of the world?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Fawcett for Congress

Obviously it is always sensible to vote Fawcett.

But as this debate shows it is even more obvious if you live in Colarado 5th Congressional District.

(It gets really interesting about 25 minutes in.)

Or you can visit Jay Fawcett's website.