Friday, 6 November 2009

Why Smeaton?

It's a common question. Why Smeaton? What gives John Smeaton the right to think he can stand as an MP? How does his role in the events at Glasgow Airport equip him to represent 80,000 people?

The answer's obvious really. It's not so much his actions - I don't think John did any more than most of us would have done given the opportunity, it was the voice he gave to a nation the morning after when a camera crew grabbed him for a quick interview.

Let's not forget the sense of shock in Scotland at the time. We pride ourselves in being different from the rest of Britain, that we are a happy-go-lucky nation comprised of people loved the world over. Terrorism is something that happens everywhere else, not in Scotland. But as those images of a burning car at the airport filled the news-stands and the flames flickered repeatedly on tellys in shop windows it hit home that maybe the world doesn't really love us. Maybe Jocks are as vulnerable as anyone else and any one of us could have been engulfed in tragedy just by going to an airport to fly out on holiday.

As we collectively held our breath, up stepped a glaikit ginger Weegie babbling excitedly and swinging his arms in the air, descibing what he did and more importantly coming out with a line that caught the imagination - "This is Glasgow - we'll set aboot ye".

The relief in us all was tangible. Across the nation people laughed and said "Good for you son". Suddenly, we were back in our rightful place. Jocks are different after all. The terrible evil that was almost perpetrated by religious fanatics intent on burning holidaymakers to death had been thwarted by Scots. A tale of heroism was being told to us by a baggage handler - who was quick to downplay his own role and point out that others did as much, if not more.

That's why John Smeaton deserved his medal. Not for saving Glasgow Airport but for saving a nation from doubt and self-pity. He took away our fears and made us smile again. The immediate fear amongst the Muslim Community in Glasgow was that there would be an unfair backlash against them. That there wasn't can largely be put down to John Smeaton puncturing the pontificating terror "experts" who flooded our tv screens with dire warnings about the "enemy within". All nonsense of course and a nonsense that we Scots instinctively knew, but it took the excited tones of John Smeaton to help us see through that.

John Smeaton is the everyman for our times. His Sun column regularly strikes a chord with the public in a way that more highbrow, more educated, more academic tomes fail to. He doesn't make any claim to being better than anyone else, he just tells it as he sees it, just as he did outside the airport in July 2007. It's that refreshing straightforwardness that endears him to thousands of his readers and so infuriates rival newspapers.

And it's that same welcome gauche approach that makes him an ideal candidate for Westminster. We know that if we send John Smeaton to Westminster, we're going to get some more straight talking answers. Somebody wrote that John wouldn't be smart enough to fiddle his expenses - well he's smart enough to know that taking money that isn't yours is theft, something that a few hundred MPs failed to recognise so he's ahead of 50% of them right away.

Sending John Smeaton to Westminster might be the smartest thing Glasgow has done in ages. Who can doubt that the media circus will descend upon Glasgow North East if Smeaton leads them. As an Independent untainted by the machinations of Scottish politics he can point to Labour and SNP failures equally and cry "enough". He can embarass the sitting governments in Holyrood and Westminster into finally doing something in the constituency. And be sure of this, after such a slap in the face, if Labour regain the seat in the future they will never neglect it again.

In July 2007, John Smeaton made us proud to be Scots. On November 12th, he can make Scots proud of Glasgow.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

The Questions Wee Willie Bain Isn't Even Being Asked

It's amazing how compliant the media in Glasgow have been with the Labour Party and their poodle candidate, Willie Bain. They quite happily regurgitate spin-doctor's blurb about how Bain has lived in Springburn all his life whilst somehow managing to work in London. Good trick that.

Here's some more questions the Scottish Press won't ask wee Willie.

- how long has he worked in London at London South Bank University?

- how many hours is he contracted to work in London each week?

- how much is he paid?

- does he have a home in London, and if not where does he stay and with who?

- does he have a partner or any children?

- what did he do between graduating in 1995 and going back to Strathclyde for his Masters in 2003-4? Who did he work for?

- has he ever been employed by Michael Martin or by Parliament or the UK or Scottish Government?

It's amazing how little we know about Wee Willie Bain.

Maybe Labour are hoping no-one will ask.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Public Money means Public Accountability, Harriet.

Harriet Harman is bleating that MPs should continue to be allowed to employ family members. Like Nadine Dorries and her £28k a year daughter I suppose?


MPs should have assistants appointed to them by the Civil Service, who will recruit, interview and assess their suitability. This is public money. How would Ms Harman react if the PM made his fragrant wife his Deputy? Would she be upset at not even being offered an interview?

When will politicians get it? This isn't a "grace and favour" society any more. They don't get to lord it over the rest of us any more.

Here in Glasgow North East, Labour think they can dump a party hack off on the constituency. The London South Bank law lecturer Willie Bain seems to be a bit confused. He's claiming that he's always lived in the constituency. Either his neighbours are liars or Willie must have the biggest loudhailer in the world to teach in London and live in Springburn.

Why don't they just get real? We know Willie is just showing up cos his bosses have ordered him to. He got out of Glasgow years ago and settled in London. David Kerr will stand wherever his bosses point him too. First Falkirk was his one true love, now it's Glasgow. In a few months it'll be Falkirk again when he goes for three defeats in a row. Is that what they mean by "Taking one for the team"?

And through it all, we've got Harman the huggable harpie bleating that life's not fair.

Tough. Maybe when we clear the liars, crooks and party lickspittles out of Westminster we'll start to see real representative democracy. Remember that? When MPs represented their constituents? Seems to me they look after themselves and their mates at all times.

John Smeaton in Glasgow North East is doing things differently. He helped an ex-serviceman set up a football team to keep youths off the streets. As Jamie Robertson said -

No councillors or politicians listened to us - John is the only person who has. We approached him and he helped. He's already better than any other MP as far as I'm concerned. The rest of them say they are going to do this or that, but John actually does it
Sunday Post 1/11/09

Parties refuse to trust voters

I see Tavish Scott of the Lib Dems has whipped his members back into line. No doubt harsh words were exchanged at anybody daring to speak their minds. The issue at question was that of giving the people of Scotland a referendum on a constitutional matter. The Nationalists have maintained for years that Scots want Independence, despite the evidence of opinion polls.

Why don't we just hold the referendum? Now. Next month. Do it and get it done with.

What are politicians so scared of? Why do the Nationalists want to rig the question and hold a referendum at an exact time of their choosing? Why do the other parties fight so hard to make sure that Scots do not have a say in the future of their country?

This is the 21st Century. The days of sending off some member of the landed gentry to far-off London to take care of our interests are long gone. We are better educated, better informed, better capable of reaching a rational decision on our own than at any time in our history.

We've seen what comes of trusting politicians - they screw us for every penny they can get, then give themselves ermine & grand titles. Politicians are intrinsically untrustworthy, or so it seems. Given all the evidence, isn't it outrageous that THEY don't trust US?

Jury Team believes in putting the whip back in the hands of the people. Politicians work for US. They've managed to twist democracy into some perverted feudal system which sets them up as our lords & masters.

No more.

A vote for Jury Team is a vote for freedom.

Saturday, 31 October 2009

If we can't send gunpowder, let's send Smeato

Three beautiful Guy Fawkes' turned up in Duke Street today to support Jury Team & John Smeaton in the Glasgow North East By-Election. They certainly put the soor-faced activists of the parties' gas at a peep.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

BBC Playing With Politics

Away from the canvassing, the shaking hands and the snogging of babies by wannabe politicians in Glasgow North East, there's an important battle going on that affects the basic democratic nature of this country. Last week, the BBC held a hustings on a radio show. A hustings is always understood to be an event where all the candidates have a chance to address an audience and answer questions. Well, the BBC version is different because the BBC pick & choose which candidates they will allow on the stand. Whereas the Electoral Commission treats every candidate equally, the BBC feel they are above such equanimity.

Back at the Euro Elections, the BBC made an important policy decision. They decided to award airtime to political parties on the basis of past electoral performance. Because of this, the BNP were given the same airtime as the Greens. UKIP were given the airtime befitting a party that did well at the Euros last time round, totally ignoring the fact that their vote had collapsed in the interim. We saw the result. UKIP went from around 6% in the polls to a resounding success at the ballot box and the BNP gained their first seats.

It's as if the BBC don't understand the effect of the media.

They meddled in politics again last week with a botched hatchet job at Question Time. Whilst I personally agree that the BNP had earned the right at the ballot box (with BBC assistance) to appear on QT, they hadn't earned the right to have the show turned into a soapbox for their policies. And the result? The BNP bounced to 22% in one opinion poll.

Back with the John Smeaton campaign in Glasgow, the BBC continue to play favourites. At their "hustings", they invited Labour, SNP, Conservative & Lib Dem candidates. When Jury Team questioned the omission of our candidate, we were told "Only the top parties were invited". By what measure do they arrive at "top"? John Smeaton has been a comfortable third in the polls since his hat was thrown in the ring. The BBC say they base such decisions on "Past Electoral Performance". Well, because this was the Speaker's seat and convention says parties don't contest against the Speaker, it's 12 years since the Conservatives or the Lib Dems had a candidate here. And when they did contest it over a decade ago, they were utterly trounced.

If we were allocating airtime according to the last electoral test, the Euros, the BNP with the same number of MEPs as the SNP would have to be given equal airtime. Indeed, if only four candidates were to appear on the BBC on the basis of past performance, last week's Brian Taylor "Big" Debate would have featured Labour, Conservatives, Lib Dems and the Greens.

The truth is, all this chicanery shouldn't be happening. It isn't for the BBC to pick & choose who the public gets to hear, it's the Electoral Commission. Chatting with the Returning Officer, I remarked how his office were scrupulously fair in ensuring that every candidate gets exactly the same treatment. Be it an Independent or the ruling Party, every candidate is equal in the eyes of the law.

We've seen how the BBC can throw elections and lead the public by the nose. The BNP & UKIP owe much of their success to the BBC. This is something that Jury Team is arguing vehemently against with the BBC and it's an argument we will pursue doggedly for the sake of this country.

Jury Team is about better governance. We cannot hope to succeed whilst the State Broadcaster is allowed to meddle in politics and influence elections.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

The Opposition?

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Support Smeato

When terrorists attacked Glasgow Airport in 2007, John Smeaton was one of those whose actions helped prevent catastrophe and mayhem. The next day when his words to the media echoed around the world, he made every Brit smile and walk a little taller.

John, together with other bystanders, acted instinctively that day. Whilst others run away from terrorism, the British confront it. It's that attitude that brought Britain status, respect and an Empire. When Gordon Brown indulged in his fruitless search for a PC "Britishness", he really needed look no further than John Smeaton, a man who automatically did the right thing at the right time, putting himself in danger for the sake of others. How many other Brits wouldn't have done the same? How many other Brits secretly wish for the opportunity to emulate John?

Now John's doing it again. He's standing up for what's right. He's standing in Michael Martin's seat in Glasgow North East. Now a Lord, would you believe, Michael Martin grew to become a wealthy and powerful man whilst he represented his constituents. It's a pity that they did not share his good fortune. They have been betrayed by party politicians who weep crocodile tears at the poverty and deprivation, before returning to their comfortable, all expenses paid lifestyles.

No more.

John Smeaton is an ordinary man doing an extraordinary thing. He is taking on the assembled might of Labour and the SNP, with their hundreds of activists and their media machines of lies, spin and intrigue. Pet journalists strain like attack dogs at the leash, ready to savage any with the temerity to challenge them. With the same instinctive courage that he showed on the day terrorists struck at Glasgow Airport, John is taking them on in an attempt to put an honest man in Parliament.

But he needs your help. The big parties have millions to spend on campaigns whilst John is on a shoestring budget. He needs people to donate time or money. If you're reading this and you're in easy reach of Glasgow, come along and volunteer. Help us to leaflet, canvas and spread the word. If you can't come, then donate what you can to help. Either use the "Donate" button on this page, or go to

Every penny goes to help John Smeaton stand tall against the political machine that has betrayed Glasgow North East.

And ... if John Smeaton wins, how can Gordon Brown remain as Prime Minister?

If Smeaton wins, a Government could fall.

How much would you pay to be a part of that?

Spread the word. Give a donation, then e-mail this to your friends. Bloggers, feel free to copy this or write your own but please, support John Smeaton. Help him get the message out -

A vote for John is a kick in the balls to Party Politics.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Vote for change or stop complaining.




Alan Wallace

Glasgow North East Campaign Launch Speech

25th September 2009

City Inn, Glasgow

Good morning. I am Alan Wallace and I am the Scottish Chairman of the Jury Team. It is my great pleasure to introduce to you today a fantastic candidate to become the next MP for this constituency of Glasgow North East.

Scotland led the world when we announced through the Declaration of Arbroath that our rulers answered to the people. The principle of ordinary people having a say in important matters has worked through the centuries in the Jury system. We trust a random selection of people that is representative of the community to deliver justice and make wise decisions.

This is how Parliament was intended to work. A cross section of common society represented in the House of Commons was a Jury on a grand scale. But Parliament has gone awry and we believe it is because the Jury in Westminster is no longer representative of wider society. The Party system has created a narrow clique professional politicians.

We believe that politicians should serve their constituents and the country, not themselves or a political party.

The Parties do not even have any real popular support. Less than 1% of the UK population belongs to a political party. Only about one-fifth of the electorate actually voted for the current government.

Our parties are now just glorified employment bureaux for career politicians. These careerists depend on being politicians for their income and status. Many of them would find it hard to get so much money in any other job. That is why they milk the expenses system while they are there.

If they want to get ahead they have to obey the party whip. They become lobby fodder and patsies. They stop representing you and start representing their party and themselves.

The government always has the majority of MPs. So the whips can coerce their lobby fodder to vote for war or identity cards or countless regulations and taxes.

This is not the Parliament the Scottish people deserve.

The Jury Team was set up to get real change. As our first action we had an open online primary to select candidates for the recent European elections. People registered their interest on our website. Then we had a vote by the general public. I won the vote in Scotland.

The Jury Team is about encouraging new people to go into politics to become MPs. We support normal people with normal lives and normal jobs. There are lots of them and what they have in common is that they are fed up with the fraud and spin of the current political class.

They are brave. They stand up to be counted and to make a real difference. They are a feisty group. They are on your side. They can make Parliament representative again. They can form a great jury.

We believe in three principles:
• championing independent MPs
• improving the running of government
• allowing the people to decide major issues through referendums.

We firstly want to get more independent MPs into the House of Commons to hold the government to account. The expenses scandal has accelerated the idea of a new style of politicians going into parliament. Esther Rantzen has confirmed her candidature for Luton South. In Totnes the Conservatives used an open selection process which chose the politically inexperienced Dr Sarah Wollaston as their candidate.

Secondly we want government departments to be run for the people they are meant to be serving: the patients, pupils, students, pensioners, soldiers and the community. At the moment ministers are moved far too often for party political reasons and not for the national interest.

Thirdly we want to let people have a real say in the big issues of the day. We promise to ask the voters through a series of annual referendums. In addition, we know that people want to be able to choose subjects for referendums so we shall allow referendums to take place whenever 5% of the people ask for them.

We have already identified the following eight policy areas where we pledge to have a referendum to find out whether the electorate agree with the following:

- Giving courts the ability to sentence violent criminals to “army style” punishment and training courses.
- Preventing banks that are benefiting from government guarantees from using depositors’ funds to support their own market trading.
- Limiting the number of British troops sent to Afghanistan to the average number sent by other NATO countries (relative to their size).
- Setting up an English Parliament to decide matters that relate solely to England.
- Changing the voting system in the House of Commons to direct proportional representation
- Limiting the amount the government can borrow each year to no more than 10% of its total expenditure.
- Allowing state schools the option of becoming independent state funded charities outside the control of the local education authority if a majority of parents agree.
- Complete withdrawal of the UK from the European Union.

We have a programme to clean up politics. We want to replace the current political class with people who will look after their constituents.

The good news is that despite all the sleaze in our parliaments, we still live in a democracy. We have the opportunity here in Glasgow North East to send a message to Westminster that we are fed up with the sleaze and expenses.

The Labour government in London has so far refused to let the people of Glasgow North East have a by-election. Gordon Brown has made the people of this constituency wait at least five months before they are allowed to have a new MP after Michael Martin’s resignation over the expenses scandal. He resigned in June but the by-election will probably only be held in mid-November.

Then the people of this constituency can send the Westminster Parliament a message. Tell them you are fed up with them. Make it clear how disgusted you are. Generate a landslide. Don’t let the politicians get away with it again.

Who should you vote for? In Scotland it’s Labour or the SNP. Voting for either only encourages the politicians to carry on the same.

Take Labour. Michael Martin protected MPs’ expenses and then had to resign. He was at the very epicentre of the sleaze and corruption. A good man. A nice man. But a man who became blinded by the baubles around him. To take his place Labour have selected Willie Bain as their candidate. Willie was Michael Martin’s agent. He must have known what was going on. He was also secretary of the consituency Labour Party but Labour cares so little about the people of Glasgow North East that he had not updated the website since 2006. Anyway he has already given up on Glasgow as he moved down to London several years ago and works as a lecturer at London South Bank University.

What about the SNP? The SNP have selected David Kerr. He was the SNP’s fourth choice as candidate. He has been in trouble for rubbishing Glasgow Caledonian University and Paisley College of Technology - now the West of Scotland University. His views on abortion and other sensitive issues are not ones held by most of this constituency. Only last week the SNP stuck the knife into Glasgow when they cancelled the rail link to the airport which they had pledged as part of the Commonwealth Games. They are still an East Coast party for the wealthy and the priviledged. And they are guilty of expenses fraud. The SNP showed that they are as endemically corrupt as any party. Given a whiff of the gravy train, they were in like Flynn.

These actions are unacceptable. They would be condemmed for people in any other walk of life. If you tried to fiddle your social security or expenses like that you could end up in prison.

It has to stop.

With opponents like those and with the hatred of old style politics, we therefore believe that we can win this by-election.

A vote for an existing tainted party will be a vote for more of the same. The only way to get a general election is for the traditional parties to be humiliated in this by-election.

We get the politicians we deserve. We deserve better. Vote for change or stop complaining.

So I am now very pleased to welcome the Jury team’s candidate. A Scottish icon. A Scottish hero. A man who showed the truth of “no messing”. A man of the people. A man who will stand up for Glasgow North East. A man who understands what it is like to be poor and unemployed. A man who cares. Please welcome the hero of Glasgow: John Smeaton.

Thank you.

Please visit the Jury Team website

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Here We Go

The Eve of Change

In around 12 hours, we reveal our candidate for Glasgow North East. It is no exaggeration to say that when I introduce the candidate to the press tomorrow, the news will go around the world. As we have worked to put things together over the last few weeks, the small circle of those in the know has grown and I have seen people change from surprise and a little disbelief, to a quiet conviction that this really is the right candidate in the right place at the right time.

Tomorrow Jury Team take the first real step in changing the political map of Britain. That is no idle boast. I'm intensely proud to be playing a small part in history and I invite you all to join me in helping to sweep the wastrels and scoundrels out of Westminster, replacing them with people who really are representative of us all.

You can all play your part in ways that will be clear shortly after 10.30 am tomorrow morning.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Five Days

Touch wood, five days to the Press Launch of the Jury Team campaign in Glasgow North East.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Kicking Up A Racket !

Jury Team are putting together a campaign to win the Glasgow North East Bye-Election - the seat vacated by the Speaker, Michael Martin. We will be announcing our candidate next week and expect it to make the news around the world. Once the candidate is known, we will be looking to manage the hundreds of people who will, I am sure, want to volunteer to help. But before that, we're looking for two full-time assistants on a modest wage. Local knowledge would be an advantage.

Please, fellow bloggers, pass this plea out on teh interweb. Interested parties should contact me at awallace (at) emailaccount (dot) com.

I need to have a list by Saturday.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Family Guy

Can you see a resemblance?

A County Tyrone councillor's alleged resemblance to Family Guy character Peter Griffin could soon be appearing on election posters.

Omagh councillor Ross Hussey said he was told about his cartoon lookalike by his nephew and a young party colleague.

The Ulster Unionist said he was not flattered but it did amuse him.

"Personally I can see no resemblance, but I have watched it and we would have certain similar traits - that's all I'm prepared to admit to," he said.

From the BBC

I'm sorry, but that's a scream. I think he should be encouraged and the Parties should be beating a path to his door. A few cartoon characters in Westminster has got to be better than the shower of clowns & crooks there now.

Babylon's Burning

Sunday, 13 September 2009


Saturday, 5 September 2009

Sunday's bumper set of quotes

"When the politicians complain that TV turns the proceedings into a circus, it should be made clear that the circus was already there, and that TV has merely demonstrated that not all the performers are well trained." Edward R. Murrow

"Expecting the world to treat you fairly because you are good is like expecting the bull not to charge because you are a vegetarian."
Dennis Wholey

"Those who cling to the untrue doctrine that violence never settles anything would be advised to conjure up the ghosts of Napoleon Bonaparte and of the Duke of Wellington and let them debate it. The ghost of Hitler could referee, and the jury might well be the Dodo, the Great Auk, and the Passenger Pigeon. Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor, and the contrary opinion is wishful thinking at its worst. Nations and peoples who forget this basic truth have always paid for it with their lives and freedoms." Robert A Heinlein

"The great inter-war slumps were not acts of God or of blind forces. They were the sure and certain result of the concentration of too much economic power in the hands of too few men. These men had only learned how to act in the interest of their own bureaucratically-run private monopolies which may be likened to totalitarian oligarchies within our democratic State. They had and they felt no responsibility to the nation."
Labour Party Manifesto - 1945

"The armed forces are an armed, military organisation, not an NGO."
Carme Chacon, Spanish Defence Minister

"You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is the beginning of the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it."
Adrian Rogers

Quotes of the day for today

"The Public say they are getting cynical about politicians. They should hear how politicians talk about them." George Walden

"Politicians are interested in people in the same way that dogs are interested in fleas."
P.J. O'Rourke

"The government solution to any problem is usually at least as bad as the problem."
Milton Friedman

Friday, 4 September 2009

Quotes For Today

"If you mess up the finances of the country, it's ordinary people that end up paying." Tony Blair

"A low success economy is a high tax one." Tony Blair (again)

And one from me, adapted from Ronald Reagan - "Recession is when your neighbour loses his job. Depression is when you lose yours. Recovery is when Gordon Brown loses his"

Let's see if I can make this a regular thing.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009


Saturday, 29 August 2009


As you know, a core Jury Team principle is that a referendum should be called whenever 5% of the electorate call for one. We see this as a way for citizens to have a voice in the running of the country and by-passing the party political machine.

What do you think? In a referendum on referenda, I've added a poll at the top right of this blog. Please vote and encourage others to do so to. You could have a very real effect on a core policy of Jury Team.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Fancy a drink - think again.

Next stop - prohibition. The Wee Frees at the Pretendy Parliament are after your wee hauf.

From the Edinburgh Evening News

BAR staff in Edinburgh have been banned from asking customers if they would like the "same again" – and told to offer a glass of water instead.
The move, which was today branded "ludicrous", has been introduced as part of the Licensing (Scotland) Act which comes into force next week, aimed at tackling binge drinking.

Go on, read it again. You're probably not drunk. But it gets better. The Plastic Politicians of Holyrood have more for you -

Some publicans say they have even been told to keep a note of how much each individual customer had consumed.

I suppose pub crawls down Rose Street are pretty much an endangered species now. Unless we have "Water Bars" set up between the pubs.

When are we going to wise up to the fact that Holyrood is stuffed full of third rate councillors who are never happier than when they're banning something?

Incidentally, I've been told that that overblown talking shop has got about 15 years more useful life in it. An architect involved in the construction reckons that the cracks are already showing. The trouble is, it's a work of art not a working building. It was designed as an art installation, a monument for Dewar.

I wonder how much the next one will cost?

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Prohibition of Deception Bill

Intro Elected Representatives (Prohibition of Deception) Bill v2

Hat Tip - the Ministry of Truth

My main aim in standing as an Independent under the Jury Team banner is to begin the process of really unearthing the dirt at Westminster. I believe that the party system itself contributes significantly to corrupt and anti-Democratic practices. The above Bill attracted the support of some thirty MPs, proving that for every decent MP there are twenty self-serving crooks. How can any MP object to being held accountable, to facing punishment if found to have knowingly lied?

This is a Bill that I hope to see enacted. The next election will see a new broom sweep into Westminster, let's see them promise us this Bill.

Forget writing to your MP. With half of them standing down or not being re-selected because they can't stand the strain of being honest, they're a waste of time. Instead, look to see who your candidates are in your area and write to them. Ask them if they'll support this Bill if elected. If they refuse or (more likely) ignore you, you'll have your answer.

Vote for a candidate who will criminalise lying MPs.

A wee giftie for the Nats

Given that the Nationalists will be saving all their pennies for the Holyrood elections and running the Westminster campaign on the cheap (rather like their Euro campaign), here's a wee present for their Party Broadcast. All they need to do is paste in a few minutes of Fat Eck grinning and there you have it - the Nat Manifesto.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

The Acceptable Ism

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Scotland's Joker - Falkirk's Shame

Monday, 20 July 2009

Trainspotting at Westminster

Choose something else.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Labour Halfwit

Now, I'm probably not the one to hark on about media skills. My strong accent counts against me in interviews. Comments on my media appearances from reasonably independent sources did though include "passionate" and "knowledgeable". Neither of which could be applied to the hapless Naz Sarkar who is the Labour candidate for Reading West.

Oh dear. It really is a throwaway election for Labour and they've resorted to on the job training for the Labour "yoof". Give him another 12 years and perhaps he'll make a decent fist of a local radio interview, but can we really bear another three term monopoly by any party in Westminster?

I'm actually pretty disgusted by Labour for putting this rookie up as a seemingly serious candidate. Compare his performances with the young Libertarian candidate in Norwich, Thomas Burridge
It's nothing to do with age, it's to do with ability. Surely Labour could have found a better candidate than Naz? Or is this what happens when a party abandons roots, raison d'etre and principles, choosing to pursue power for its' own sake?

Where are the real Socialists? They've abandoned Labour and all I see in the rag-tag splinters such as No2EU, the Scottish Socialists and others are extremists and fantasists. Is Socialism dead? Is Naz Sarkar the pall-bearer?

Hat Tip - Cllr Dave Luckett

Sing A Song Of Parliament

Sing a song of Parliament,
Pockets full of cash.
Fraudulently claiming
then adding to their stash.
With their ploy discovered
They said they'll give it back,
If you or I had done the same
We'd promptly get the sack.

Sing a song of freebies
Snouts all in the trough,
Giving back their ill-got gains
Is just not good enough.
Sponging off our earnings
With a likely tale,
If working folk had done the same
They'd soon end up in jail.

Sing a song of fraudsters
Counting out their money.
They smile and look quite unashamed
As though they think it's funny.
Sitting in a secret place
Counting our their dosh,
Spent on baths and cleaning moats -
Or crisps and orange squash.

Sing a song of MPs
Who took us for a ride,
It's up to us election time
Their futures to decide.
It's gone too far to bring back trust
Of anyone in power,
To most of us they'll always be
A shifty, crooked shower.

Now, where can I find a choir to record this?

Hat Tip - Subrosa

Friday, 17 July 2009

This Guy is a Candidate?

Meet the Labour candidate for Reading West

Oh well, Labour have obviously given up. What an utter insult to the voters of Reading that this is the standard of candidate on offer. How the hell must Labour supporters feel; people who believe in Labour values, that have supported the party through thick and thin, that feel only Labour come close to representing their views, when this shambolic excuse is supposedly going to fight their corner in Westminster. Third-rate lobby fodder.

There is an alternative. If you feel you could do a better job than Naz, stand with Jury Team. No whips, no party orders. If you want to stand on a platform of traditional Labour values, you can. If you're more Labour than New Labour, take the opportunity that Jury Team offers and stand up to be counted.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Vote For Your Favourite Blogs

It's that time of year again, when Total Politics asks you to vote for your Top 10 favourite blogs. The votes will be compiled and included in the forthcoming book, the Total Politics Guide to Blogging 2009-10, which will be published in September. This year the poll is being promoted/sponsored by LabourList and LibDemVoice as well as our publisher Iain Dale's blog.

The rules are simple.

1. You must vote for your ten favourite blogs and ranks them from 1 (your favourite) to 10 (your tenth favourite).
2. Your votes must be ranked from 1 to 10. Any votes which do not have rankings will not be counted.
3. You MUST include ten blogs. If you include fewer than ten your vote will not count.
2. Email your vote to
3. Only vote once.
4. Only blogs based in the UK, run by UK residents are eligible or based on UK politics are eligible.
5. Anonymous votes left in the comments will not count. You must give a name
6. All votes must be received by midnight on 31 July 2009. Any votes received after that date will not count.

If you have your own blog, please do encourage your readers to take part. Last year, more than 80 blogs did so. We hope this year it will be far more than that. BUT, DO NOT list ten blogs you think your readers should vote for. Any duplicate voting of this nature will be disallowed. If you do not wish for your blog to be voted for please email You will see a list of the blogs who have chosen not to be included in the comments shortly.

There are many ways of measuring a blog's popularity. Wikio and Technorati have complicated logarithms which measure the importance of incoming links and traffic. Google Analytics does it by measuring how many people visit. But our poll gives blog readers the opportunity to vote for the ones they like and visit most often. It's not scientific. It's impossible to achieve 100% balance and we don't pretend it's perfect.

The results of the poll will be published in the forthcoming book the TOTAL POLITICS GUIDE TO POLITICAL BLOGGING IN THE UK which will be published in mid September in association with APCO Worldwide.

So, go to it. Email us your Top Ten Favourite Blogs

Don't Let Jacqui Smith Get Away With It

Let's nail Jacqui Smith

Copied from Old Holborn's place...

£100,000 needed to nail Jacqui Smith

I am a member of the Sunlight Centre for Open Politics and we have decided to nail Jacqui Smith for being a little free and easy with the truth.

Any contribution you might be able to make would be greatly appreciated. Sorry to bother you if you have already donated to the campaign. You can donate via PayPal through the link above (click on the picture). If we can successfully prosecute the former Home Secretary this would be a major step toward cleaning up Westminster and proving to our law makers that they are not above the law.

So put YOUR hands in your pocket for a change, instead of Darling and let's teach them a lesson. Do it. Do something. Put the fear of 60,000,000 of us into the 646 who run every minutae of our lives for their own benefit.

All it would take is one high profile politician being dragged through the courts by the public for the rest of them to get the message. We're not allowed to hang crooked politicians any more, but we can hang them out to dry in the courts.

Hat Tip - half the blogosphere

Party First & To Hell With You All

Once again we see party politics stand in the way of good governance and justice.

Gary McKinnon is facing extradition to the US on charges of computer hacking. This has brought what many see as a deeply unfair extradition treaty back into the public eye. According to the Daily Mail dozens of Labour MPs expressed their support for Mr McKinnon in letters to campaigners and 74 Labour MPs signed Commons motions backing Mr McKinnon or demanding a review of extradition agreements with the U.S.

However, yesterday a Tory call for an urgent review of the controversial Extradition Act 2003 was voted down by 290 votes to 236. If only 28 more Labour MPs had stuck to their principles, the Government would have faced defeat. 59 of the Labour MPs who had earlier supported Mr McKinnon voted against the motion. 15 abstained.

Why the change of heart? Has the extradition treaty suddenly became ok? Have they decided that Mr McKinnon (who has been diagnosed with Aspergers) has turned into a heinous criminal unworthy of support by our elected representatives? Or is it more to do with the fact that this was a Tory motion and the knee-jerk reaction of MPs is to oppose anything and everything other parties put forward?

This is not good governance. MPs of all parties are supposed to hold the government of the day to account. They are meant to scrutinise legislation and represent the views of the electorate. It shouldn't matter which party an MP belongs to, bad legislation is bad legislation and brings the entire House of Commons into disrepute. Once again we see MPs putting the Party first.

Listed below are the names of those whose promises mean nothing. Take note of them and remember their actions come the forthcoming election. They'll each be spending tens of thousands painting themselves whiter than white and hoping that you'll have forgotten what deceitful creatures they are.

Diane Abbott (Hackney North and Stoke Newington), David Anderson (Blaydon), John Austin (Erith and Thamesmead), Joe Benton (Bootle), Clive Betts (Sheffield Attercliffe), Lyn Brown (West Ham), Russell Brown (Dumfries and Galloway), Richard Burden (Birmingham Northfield), Dawn Butler (Brent South), Martin Caton (Gower), Ann Cryer (Keighley), Jim Cunningham (Coventry South)

Quentin Davies (Grantham and Stamford), Janet Dean (Burton), Jim Dowd (Lewisham West), Jeff Ennis (Barnsley East and Mexborough), Hywel Francis (Aberavon), Neil Gerrard (Walthamstow), Roger Godsiff (Birmingham Sparkbrook and Small Heath), Helen Goodman (Bishop Auckland), John Grogan (Selby), Patrick Hall (Bedford), David Heyes (Ashton under Lyne), Kelvin Hopkins (Luton North), Joan Humble (Blackpool North and Fleetwood), Brian Iddon (Bolton South East), Eric Illsley (Barnsley East)

Glenda Jackson (Hampstead and Highgate), Brian Jenkins (Tamworth), Martyn Jones (Clwyd South), Sadiq Khan ( Tooting), Mark Lazarowicz (Edinburgh North and Leith), Tony Lloyd ( Manchester Central), Kerry McCarthy (Bristol East), Jim McGovern (Dundee West), Anne McGuire ( Stirling), Shahid Malik (Dewsbury), Gordon Marsden (Blackpool South), Anne Moffat (East Lothian), Madeleine Moon (Bridgend), Julie Morgan (Cardiff North), George Mudie (Leeds East)

Nick Palmer (Broxtowe), Gordon Prentice (Pendle), Joan Ruddock (Lewisham Deptford), Joan Ryan (Enfield North), Martin Salter (Reading West), Andy Slaughter (Ealing, Acton and Shepherd's Bush), John Smith ( Glamorgan), Sir Peter Soulsby (Leicester South), Gavin Strang (Edinburgh East)

David Taylor (North West Leicestershire), Desmond Turner (Brighton Kemptown), Rudi Vis (Finchley and Golders Green), Lynda Waltho (Stourbridge), Bob Wareing (Liverpool West Derby), Betty Williams (Conway), Anthony Wright (Great Yarmouth), Iain Wright (Hartlepool).

Those who abstained were:

Roger Berry (Kingswood), Roberta Blackman-Woods (City of Durham), Harry Cohen (Leyton and Wanstead), Andrew Dismore (Hendon), Bill Etherington (Sunderland North), Frank Field (Birkenhead), Fabian Hamilton (Leeds North East), John Heppell (Nottingham East), Peter Kilfoyle (Liverpool Walton), Christine McCafferty (Calder Valley), Bob Marshall-Andrews ( Medway), Chris Mullin (Sunderland South), Edward O'Hara (Knowsley South), Marsha Singh (Bradford West), Mike Wood (Batley and Spen).

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Like Ferrets In A Sack

Shadow chancellor George Osborne is being investigated by the sleaze watchdog over his expenses.

"In essence, your complaint is that between 2001 and 2003 Mr Osborne wrongly identified his main home for the purposes of his claims against the Additional Costs Allowance, and that from 2003 Mr Osborne claimed for mortgage payments that were not necessarily incurred contrary to the rules of the house."

Well another one faces a grilling. They really are all at it aren't they.

I wonder who shopped him?

The complaint to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner came from the chairman of the Labour Party in Mr Osborne's Tatton constituency, Laurie Burton

Ah right. This is going to be a fun election. They're all going to be jumping up and down, pointing at each other and shouting "Please Sir, Please Sir".

What really stuck in my throat was -

Mr Burton told Sky News he had not made the complaint on a party political basis.

"I'm doing it because I'm an ordinary man of the public who shares the outrage and disgust that people have throughout the country.

Ach, away and bile yer heid ya balloon.Do you expect us to believe that you would be putting on the outraged face if it was a Labour MP? In fact, seeing as how it's upset you so much, what did you have to say about the dozens of Labour MPs caught with their hands in the till?

Speak up.

Can't hear you.

That's right, because you said SFA about it. Get stuffed you sanctimonious prat.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

The State of Education

A guest post from Helen Critchell over at the Jury Team site.

I have little time for our state education system in this country and possibly was one of the first casualties back in the early 70s when the grammar schools were scythed to the ground to make way for the monstrous comprehensive system. But I still look back at my Year 1 work and think "crikey, did I do that when I was 11?"

I now look at work done by children older than that - children who are quite intelligent - and I see the level of learning to be equivalent to what I would expect of a primary school aged child. I removed my son from school to home educate him when he was 12 years old, after six years of bullying (to him) and frustration (to me) and I could never get over the low level of work that was expected of him and the quality that was acceptable to teachers. I could also never get over the low level of English and Maths that was displayed by those supposed to be teaching him these subjects. Regularly would my mathematical husband have to correct poor maths and regularly would I get incensed with appalling spelling and grammar when our son showed us his set homework.

This won't be a rant about the one in five teachers who fail to pass a basic adult literacy and numeracy test before they start teaching (some taking up to 27 times to pass the test) and yet are still allowed to teach our children; this won't be a rant about the fact that in 2007 38.1% of our children were deemed to have Special Educational Needs (why? Has this come about from low quality teaching/discipline/care of our children?) and yet all but 1.1% were integrated into the state education system along with children who were able to learn; this won't be a reminder that one in ten of our children come out of school with no GCSEs and less than 50% of then have five good GCSEs under their belt including maths and English, many of whom still not possessing good, sound literacy and numeracy levels; this won't be a rant that 16% of young people are not employable for one reason or another; and I'll try not to mention the appalling level of media-driven mediocrity that pervades our children's lives.

What this is about is the quality and quantity of what our children are being taught. In America, extensive studies have been carried out on the amount of quality teaching/learning time that children experience in school. I'm sure that there is little difference in schools in this country. What they discovered was that of the 6 hours spent at school, only one hour was good, constructive and valuable teaching/learning time. The other hours were spent administering children's needs, correcting bad behaviour, setting homework, answering questions, break times and paperwork etc. To help balance this, it appears that more and more homework is being given out to children of all ages but that homework is rarely marked, or even looked at. I have yet to meet a child who can tell me that his/her homework is marked and handed back on a regular basis. What possible value is this?

Virtually none of the 14 year olds I meet have read a book from cover to cover. For English, these days, children are only required to read certain passages in a book that will be relevant to their exams/tests. They will then watch a video adaptation of the whole book to get the idea of the story!

The Telegraph quoted 1 in 4 GCSE students (and A levels) were needing to get additional tuition outside of the classroom to help them pass their exams. I know, for a fact, that everyone who cared about their GCSEs this year in one local school was getting help with their Maths and English outside school. Parents are paying in the region of £20 an hour for this extra help. Why are teachers unable to do this in class time?

In a drama group I was running I was selling crisps and chocolate during break at 26p a time. Only one child of 13+ was able to calculate in their head multiples (and we're only talking 2 or 3 times) of 26p.

14 year old pupils in one school don't write essays in English and are told they can write in cartoons. Is this sinking towards the lowest common denominator or simply appealing to children for the sake of it?

A class of 13/14 year olds were being 'taught' how to draw portraits in their art class last week. The teacher told them to draw the customary oval shape and horizontal and vertical lines and then he got his marker pen out and drew a cartoon face! OK, I'm a portrait artist so this was anathema to me!

These are simply examples I come across every single week of how I believe our education has taken on the guise of a cartoon and a caricature of our society. How much lower can standards fall and when do we start demanding a higher and more consistent education for our children? We know that countless children come out of school disillusioned, inarticulate, illiterate and innumerate. They are encouraged to believe that to work in vocational or manual employment is beneath them and yet they aren't given the education to cope with anything else.

It is a cliché that gets spouted so often and yet has become almost worthless: 'our children are our future' and yet every year that passes and I see what is happening to our youngsters I fear more and more for the future of our country.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Smug, Arrogant And Doesn't Care

That's Eric Joyce - Labour MP for Falkirk. Supposedly "my" MP. Never mind £180 for oil paintings because they "look nice", he shows exactly why this whole affair is so damaging for Britain. He doesn't care. He tries to turn the interview against the interviewer. He grins and smirks his way through the whole thing making a point of not answering questions. He thinks he's safe because he's in a constituency with a huge Labour majority and none of the other parties can touch him because they're just as mired in sleaze as Labour. He figures that, no matter what, plenty of "core" Labour voters will duly turn out on polling day and keep him in the style to which he has become accustomed.

This is Britain's most expensive MP for two out of the last three years. He claimed £187,334 in allowances and expenses in 2007-8. In 2006 he claimed £174,811 but promised to cut back in future. Well, we can see for ourselves exactly what Mr Joyce's promises are worth.

Since 2002, Mr Joyce has claimed £1,097,533 in expenses and allowances alone. On top of at least a third of a million in wages.

In Falkirk, there are seventeen people chasing every job vacancy. Maybe they'd be better chasing this benefit junkie.

But they'd better get behind me in the queue. I'm going to stand against him in the General Election and my campaign starts now. This won't be like the Euro Elections where I was chasing my tail all over Scotland whilst the parties sent minions to attend hustings and spent a fortune on glossy mailshots. I'm going to knock on every door in Falkirk and put a leaflet through every letterbox. I'll give every resident a receipt for Mr Joyce and ask if they think he's value for money. I'll ask them what they think of a guy who voted for the Iraq War and against an inquiry. Who voted against a transparent Parliament while voting for ID cards.

This guy flies around the world to the Congo, to Tokyo, to Baghdad, to Brazil, to Israel, to Palestine, to Switzerland, to Rwanda, to Kuwait, to the USA, to Turkey, to Gabon, to Buenos Aires, to Detroit and to Shanghai. What the hell has any of that got to do with Falkirk? You know, the constituency he was hired to represent?

So I'm going to stand against him. This time I know what I'm up against. The Tories & Labour will be spending £35 million on this General Election campaign. The SNP & Lib Dems will be spending horrendous sums as well. All of them have armies of eager minions all trying to impress & get onto the greasy pole. So I need help. If you want to get involved with leafletting or putting up posters or anything like that, get in touch here or make a donation using Paypal using the button at the top of the page. I need to pay for leaflets, posters, ads and all the rest. The wife's resigned to not going on holiday this year or next because all I've got will be going into this. Make a donation and I'll maybe be able to afford to buy her the occasional bunch of flowers to make up for it.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

The state of independents: alternative politics

Here are the main questions and challenges the nay-sayers to the growth and utility of independent politics raise, and some reflections on their in/adequacy:

1. Independents are often mavericks and inexperienced do-gooders.

Some would respond that many people involved in local political parties are also mavericks and inexperienced do-gooders! There will always be some like this but the facts make it clear that there are also some excellent independents. The idea of “primaries” introduced by the Jury Team [31], also means that communities can select which independent it thinks should stand. Therefore those whom a community or neighbourhood considers to be unreliable would be less likely to stand in elections. Individuals can and should, remain free to test themselves at the bar of voter opinion. Political parties, however, are more concerned about loyalty to their own interests and often define as ‘mavericks’ purposeful, angular, skilful people who might ‘rock the boat’. The ‘group think’ [32] mentality and a culture of tribalism is designed to smooth the edges off any politics which might disturb the consensus (or, beneath the surface conformity, the lack of it) and it is therefore in danger of producing what has been called ‘institutional truth’ [33].

2. Independents are not properly accountable.

Independents may turn out to be, in some respects, more publicly accountable than party politicians. Election after election has seen a few hundred people (and sometimes fewer) in a local political party select the candidates to stand in the General Election. These candidates are often in safe seats where there is little accountability. Independents, however, depend upon their local reputations and cannot rely mainly on party votes or national swings. This creates a different and countervailing set of pressures and possibilities. The idea of ‘community forums’, developed from civic associations, begins a move towards practical mechanisms for giving rise to, and holding non-party candidates accountable to, a wider good. [34]

3. Independents are ineffective within parliamentary and council settings because they have no power base.

Party MPs rarely rebel against their parties' programmes, which many would say makes them compliant and ineffective. Those without a party are much freer to represent their constituents’ concerns – or like Richard Taylor MP, to take up wide public concerns about something like the health service. They may also be better placed to form or participate in cross-party coalitions, which can be the key to getting things done in Parliament and at the local council level.

4. Independents tend to be single-issue focused.

Some may be elected due in large part to a local issue on which they have campaigned. But often this will have been a concern of local constituents which party politicians have neglected. Once in Parliament, however, independents will deal with a range of issues just like any other MP. They may also be appointed to Select Committees which relate to the issue on which they have expertise and so their focus may bring something extremely valuable (and additional) to Parliament. This is in marked contrast to some Select Committee appointments of party political MPs who may find themselves on committees due to party loyalty rather than any specialist knowledge. [35]

5. Independents are ‘all over the shop’ politically

The narrow party agendas into which candidates are squeezed can be artificial and have little bearing on a politics that has, in certain respects, left the ideological struggles of the 1970s and 1980s behind. Why should every member of a political party have exactly the same position on drugs, transport, climate change, Europe and immigration? Independents are far freer to be honest and make realistic decisions, rather than be pushed in many votes by a party whip. [36]

6. Voting for independents or moving to PR may upset the main parties and let in extreme groups like the BNP

The British National Party, which trades on racism and xenophobia, feeds upon the corruption and inadequacy of the current political system. It is also is fed by the hostile environment towards ‘foreigners’ engendered by the so-called mainstream parties’ perpetuation (for instance) of an agenda on migration constructed around tabloid-style fear and prejudice. [37] Voting to support such a system and its principal defenders is not a good way of combating such extremism in the long run. Viable alternatives are needed. The BNP get in, or get a sizeable (but fortunately still small) share of the vote because people vote for them. Voting tactically to keep racists out may be an important short-term measure, combined with re-orienting politics to deal with the exclusions and disaffections upon which they try to capitalise. But allowing the far right or other extreme groups to deny genuine political choice is to allow them to win in a different way. Under a proportional voting system, only dissuading people from voting BNP will work. All this emphasises that racist and extreme parties can only be countered by political persuasion and healthy politics. Simply maintaining an unfair status quo because you think any ‘cracks’ might let them in is a counter-productive approach. [38] It is also worth noting that the success of the BNP in the 2009 Euro-poll North-West England could have been thwarted by just 5,000 more votes for the Green Party.

7. The last thing we need is more attention grabbing celebrities in politics.

Independents are, in the main, not celebrities. On the contrary, there are those like the former anti-apartheid activist from South Africa who is standing for election in Dublin in order to challenge the ‘mainstream’ parties to take action against growing waves of racism, following the sectarianism that has marked divisions over the North. Or people from public life like Terry Waite ( who wish to argue a serious case for change in the face of political decay. This is a way of getting people to take seriously what ‘politics as usual’ wishes to push under the carpet. [39]

8. The thirst for independents is a protest with little substance or future.

It may be a protest, or start out as one, but at the same time be a sign of hope that people care about their political system and want to be engaged. Protest has been the crucible for most of the important political and social changes of the last century and a half, going back to the landmark Representation of the People Act 1832. [40] Independent and alternative politics is about much more than engaging in the kind of ‘direct democracy’ used and abused in the USA as ‘propositions’ attached to ballot papers.

9. Independent politics is really anti-politics. It is demoralising people.

Independent, civic and associational politics is about making politics accessible to ordinary people. It is about enhancing participation and representation. Ironically, it is the mainstream parties who have increasingly abandoned politics for business management. The idea that ‘real politics’ is what is done for or to us rather than by us is patronising and partial. It is also what alienates people from politics! Politics is not exclusively or primarily about parties, though no-one is arguing that they do not play a significant role. It is about how power is used and made accountable. People are politically de-motivated and demoralised by a system and parties which are resistant to their needs, concerns and input. The evidence (in terms of local action as well as polling) is that people are re-engaged when this changes. The advocates of the interests of the party machines are desperate to convince those who might defect from them that disillusion equals a dangerous rejection of politics. But it is not (and does not have to be) this way.

10. Many independents are really conservatives (with a small or large ‘c’) in disguise, as they were during their local government heyday.

This is clearly not the case with Margot MacDonald in Scotland or with Richard Taylor in England. It is possible and desirable for non-party candidates and activists from different political ‘spaces’ to participate. Another contrary example is Clare Short MP in Birmingham Ladywood. She was a Labour minister but is now an independent, having fallen out with the party and the government over the Iraq war. Greater political diversity is needed to reflect the true diversity of the populace. Also, people can and do change their minds. It may have been the case that at certain junctures in the past, independents came largely from the conservative wing of politics but there is no law that says this has to be the case. The left has tended to have a very strong attachment to the party form, partly as an outworking of some of its ideology but this again is not set in stone. And there are numerous examples of people from the left and the centre of politics who have rebelled in independent ways.

11. Only the relatively prosperous and educated can afford to run as independents – the whole thing is biased toward the middle class and the already enfranchised.

There seems little evidence for this. Are those who make these claims willing to invest in something different, or are they actually wanting to keep politics as a middle class preserve? The long history of working-class involvement in politics, both through the labour movement and through civic association as well as through parties, suggests that something different is possible. Rather than funding parties, what about a small fund for supporting independents in restricted circumstances? There is clear evidence that significant proportions of existing MPs are public school and Oxbridge educated, or otherwise privileged.

12. A whole parliament of independents would make Britain ungovernable

Independents cannot form a government. This is true. A similar charge has been levelled at the Liberal Democrats and minority parties but this does not mean either that they cannot be elected or that they cannot be good MPs who enrich the democratic process. There is a model in the cross-benchers in the House of Lords, where non-party members are allocated parliamentary time as a group. They have a convener rather than a whip, support one another where they agree and divide up parliamentary time between them. The idea behind this accusation seems to be either that supporting more independents means wanting to do away with parties (it does not; we do not have to indulge a zero-sum game), or that it is somehow likely that independents would quickly become a majority. This is unlikely at the moment but if the public started to elect different kinds of people, then the system would need to adapt. Democratic institutions are there to facilitate democratic participation and representation, not to keep those who currently hold the reins of power in position whatever people say or want.

13. We don’t need ‘do-gooders’ getting elected to parliament.

The idea that only those motivated by money, status or position can be really trusted (because “at least you know what they’re in it for”), whereas those who want to pursue a notion of public good, non-corruption or the needs of particular groups of people (such as those reliant on the health service, carers, older people, etc.) are virtually automatically “self-righteous” and “irritating” – as some critics have suggested – moves cynicism beyond a rightful suspicion of power interests (which is what it used to mean) to a generally corrosive disdain for anyone we fear may expose our own comparative failings. The issue of how to discern what is ‘good’ in persons and in public life has become more and more difficult with the breakdown of a broader consensus about beliefs and values. Those who want to reinstate a discussion about this by putting their principles on the line are surely to be welcomed, even if we then question what it is they offer and propose.

14. Parties and political ideologies have their faults but we cannot do without them.

Political blocs and political non-blocs offer diversity but not when a monopoly or duopoly goes unchallenged. Likewise, principles are important but ideology often hardens them into dogma. Besides, the party system has now largely abandoned the principles that once defined it and the ruling parties have almost become modified versions of a dominant neo-liberal economic ideology. Breaks in the dominant order are necessary for the re-introduction of genuine choice. It is true that alliances will always be made but the question is, what kind of alliances? It is unrealistic to have a system (which we have at the moment)in which hundreds of candidates contest an election on the same manifesto with which they all agree. The reality is that these candidates disagree with one another beneath the veneer. The present system is monolithic because it is biased towards maintaining what is in effect a two-party system in the UK parliament. Beyond Westminster, politics and parties are becoming more flexible and diverse. That ought to be strength, not a weakness.

15. Independents feed a cynicism about professional politicians which further widens the gaps between governors and governed.

Actually, they seem to provide many with a source of hope in the face of decay and despair, as Ekklesia’s ComRes opinion poll indicated. Disillusionment is fed by ‘business as usual’ or by a lack of genuine opportunities for involvement. Alternative politics can help to rectify these problems. A large number of people do not have a party affiliation or strong association and feel disconnected from 'party politics'. If they are to be re-engaged in public life, it may take people from outside 'the system' to do so.

From Ekklesia

Saturday, 13 June 2009


It's a family affair

Six State Pensions
£8m in pay & allowances
2 Housing Allowances for one house.
Employing a daughter as an "Executive Assistant"
Son employed by British Council in Europe
Attendance Allowance claimed despite not attending.


This entire family is a disgrace and the epitome of all that is wrong with British politics. Nepotistic, lying, money-grubbing leeches. They're in it for themselves, having spent their lifetimes living off the taxpayer and now ensuring that the family tradition continues with their offspring.

Socialist? In what way exactly? The only redistribution of wealth I can see is straight into their pockets.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Quite possibly the funniest edit ever

Go on, watch it. You'll be glad you did.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Sugaring The Pill

"Just a month ago, Viglen won a £30 million contract to supply Government departments, such as the NHS, with 70,000 computers."


Absolutely no connection with his elevation to the Lords, of course not.

Friday, 5 June 2009

Why I Despise Party Politics

A few people have asked me why I seem to have such a deep rooted distrust of political parties. Seeing as how we're in the hiatus between the election campaign and the results, I've got time to explain.

Back in 1986, a Church of Scotland Minister in Buckhaven, Fife hit upon the idea of converting a disused church into a theatre. Rev Dane Sherrard was a keen Gilbert and Sullivan fan and helped run the local G&S Society. Raising a few pounds here and there, he encouraged local youths to start doing up the old church. He applied for local grants to buy paint and materials. Progress was painfully slow until someone told him that, instead of asking for £50 every couple of months, he should put together a proposal to use local unemployed people and ask for £2 million. So he did and was stunned when it was accepted.

Buckhaven is and was a particular unemployment blackspot in a pretty deprived area. Badly affected by closures of local coal mines, the whole atmosphere was grim. Undoubtedly, the actions of the Thatcher Government exacerbated the situation, but there were a number of Govt re-training schemes running at the time - TOPS, YTS, CP and later, ET (Employment Training).

With the backing he now had, Dane was able to expand his horizons. Doing up the church now became a total refurbishment. Training programmes included carpentry, bricklaying, plastering, painting & decorating as well as more exotic stuff like stonemasonry, stained glass making, carving and upholstery. All these training departments needed space to work in, so Dane (through the new Buckhaven Parish Church Agency) began buying derelict buildings in the small town. Each of these also needed re-furbished and so the whole thing grew.

When I came along in 1988, the theatre was up and running. I walked in and asked for a job as a writer and was promptly persuaded to train as a stage manager instead. It was that kind of place. Everything was fluid and bustling and people just got drawn in. It had now grown to include a motor pool and garage, training car mechanics, a screen printers, IT departments, leatherworking, candlemaking as well as all the theatre-related stuff.

I think at that point it was employing or training about 1000 people and was one of the biggest schemes of it's type in Britain. The Govt held it up as an example and I actually found myself the subject of a Yorkshire TV documentary and flown down to London for an appearance on GMTV.

What I didn't know was the local Labour MP, Henry McLeish, was working against the whole thing. The idea of a Tory Govt initiative actually working obviously didn't sit well with him.

I finished my training and got a job at Perth Rep as an ASM (Assistant Stage Manager), from where I went on to work in theatres throughout Britain.

Meanwhile, the BPCA went from strength to strength. Working with the community as well as in it, they opened a dinner club for OAPs and ran mini-buses taking them to and from the drop in centre. The painters and decorators had redecorated every building twice and so began decorating local pensioner's homes for free as part of their training.

And this was what gave Henry McLeish his opening.

He had been continually making allegations about financial mishandling and misconduct going on, all unfounded. But he found out that one of the pensioners who had her house redecorated for free was actually Dane's mother. This was the proof positive he needed. He managed to get all funding frozen before having the whole Agency closed down.

Around 1500 staff and trainees were thrown on the dole again. Buckhaven has never recovered and is today a soulless, derelict place with shocking levels of unemployment.

There is no doubt in my mind that Henry McLeish pursued a personal political vendetta against the Agency. He didn't care that hundreds of people were gaining valuable skills that led to them gaining real employment and careers, all he saw was a Tory success story in a Labour heartland.

This is what party politics is about. It's all about scoring points off the other side and ordinary people don't matter. If McLeish was truly a Labour man and a socialist, he would have done anything & everything in his power to see this initiative to help the disadvantaged succeed. He didn't. He put the party before people.

And I am under no illusion that, if the situation had been reversed, a Tory would have done the same to a Labour success story.

That is why I despise party politics and party politicians.

UPDATE - I've just been contacted by the Minister behind BPCA. It turns out the house-painting story was just another piece of mud thrown by McLeish in his campaign to close the place down. It has no basis in truth and never actually happened.

Happy to set the record straight Rev.

Labour offers no route out of recession.

“I have noted with disgust the comments of a certain Mr Gordon Brown who has accused me of doing well out of the recession….I do not know who Mr Gordon Brown is. Excuse my ignorance, but I don’t. Whoever he is, he has not done is homework properly. The man doesn’t know what he is talking about….Labour offers no route out of recession.”

Well, Sugar was always an opportunist.

Hat Tip Dizzy Thinks

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Why You Have To Vote

This is probably the last blog I'll have time for before the polls open and it strikes me as odd that people still don't seem to "get" what Jury Team are about. They can't get their heads around the idea of a party that's not a party, so entrenched has the propaganda become over the years.

Jury Team is a movement, formed solely and expressly to put an end to the sleaze, the corruption and the anti-democratic practices we have allowed our politicians to slip into. There are too few people today involved in politics with real experience of the world. People like Balls & Milliband predominate - straight from uni to the front bench, with only a few years scheming and conniving behind the scenes in between. These people owe the Party everything and the Party demands their absolute obedience.

If David Cameron stood up tomorrow and announced a plan that would solve the financial crisis, end world poverty, guarantee wealth & health for everybody .... 300 or so Labour MPs would vote against it automatically because it came from the Tory Party. And the same would be true in reverse if Gordon Brown came up with such a plan. This can't go on. We can't continue to allow Party bigotry to literally kill us.

Jury Team lets ordinary people stand against the politicians. This includes you. Instead of reading & writing blogs or whinging on message boards, you can stand and have your view heard. If & when Jury Team candidates get elected, it doesn't matter if they're right wing, left wing, liberal or green, it really doesn't. The only thing that matters is they are legally committed to acting honestly and openly. They may well go off and form alliances or loose groupings but again, they're legally obliged not to follow the orders of such groups.

We'll probably end up with the same mix of political views, perhaps a bit more representative of society's views, but not a lot different. The most important thing is we'll end up with politicians who will first and foremost act in the interests of the people and will do so openly, honestly and with integrity.

The first step in cleaning up politics is to get people in whose first principle is to do as we tell them. Unless we start out with honest people, the system will never change. If we let those tainted by all that's gone before just re-write rule books, we'll see the same kind of scandals a few years down the line. It's not the expenses per se that we mind, it's the type of people who have shown themselves to have such poor judgement in the first place being in a position to damage our society so greatly.

I'm not against UKIP, the socialists or the main parties because of their policies. Many are quite good, sensible policies actually - from all sides of the fence. I'm against them because they won't change the broken system of politics we have.

Voting for any of them won't change a thing.
Not voting won't change a thing.
Spoiling the ballot won't change a thing.

Voting Jury Team begins the change.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

The level of the BNP

Say NO to bone idle UKIP MEPs

Jury Team to Prosecute Crooked MPs

I knew I'd backed a winning team when I met Sir Paul Judge. It may not come across on the telly, but the guy really is the real deal. Today he proves it.

Businessman Sir Paul Judge, who recently launched the Jury Team - an umbrella organisation for independent candidates - said he would take steps to mount a private prosecution if no charges had been brought by 19 June.

In a letter to Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson and Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer, Sir Paul said he was lodging complaints against MPs David Chaytor - who announced today that he would be standing down at the General Election - Elliot Morley, Shahid Malik and Andrew MacKay.

"I hereby request that you initiate a full and urgent investigation of at least these four MPs and that you inform me as to the outcome of your investigations," he said.

"I would also ask you to press charges against these four individuals as test cases of the law relating to MPs' expenses.

"In the event that you have not decided to bring charges by June 19, one month after you announced your review, then I plan to take steps to begin a private prosecution."

Why stop there Sir Paul? Why not go for Farage after his open admission that he misappropriated £2million?

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