Saturday, May 8, 2010

Cameron seeks deal with Europhiles after refusing people say on EU

David Cameron's lust for the office of Prime Minister seems to know no bounds. Having lost the chance of an outright majority in the general election by refusing a deal with UKIP - in which UKIP would have stood aside in return for the promise of a referendum on Britain's memership of the EU - he has now rushed to try and forge a deal with the Liberal Democrats.

And yet analysis of the results shows that with David Cameron's Conservatives needing 20 more seats to have a majority of 1 in the House of Commons, it has been revealed that in 21 seats, the UKIP vote was greater than the majority the Conservatives lost by.

This raises two questions.

Fistly, why is Cameron so frightened of allowing the British people to have a say on the nations relationship with Europe. His u-turn on the 'cast iron' guarantee he offered on the Lisbon Treaty baffled many Conservatives, particularly as, when he withdrew his worthless pledge, he could instead have stiffened Czech resolve by promising to back the stance taken by their president, Vaclav Klaus. Had he done so, the Lisbon Treaty may have remained unratified by all member states, and Klaus could have held off his critics by pointing to the British Conservatives.

The second is how he thinks he will be able to govern with the support of the Liberal Democrats, the most publicly pro-European party. With their support for the Euro and the creation of a federal state, it is not difficult to see that the problems will begin almost as soon as anything of importance occurs in Europe which, with the imminent threat to the Euro, is likely to be in fairly short order.

Cynics might suggest that Cameron's promise to 'not let matters rest there' if the Lisbon Treaty was ratified was not intended to mean that he would consider a coalition with a federalist party, effectively bringing to an end any hopes of serious Euroscepticism within the parliamentary Conservative party, and yet that would be the outcome. Unless the Conservative dog rolled over to the wagging of the Lib Dem tail, he'd be out of office again. we should not forget that Nick Clegg began his political career as a Lib Dem MEP.

The inescapable conclusion must be that Cameron and his Conservative strategists have not learned their lessons. A stiffer backbone would have seen him into 10 Downing Street unassisted: something which, as his 20 point opinion poll lead dwindled, must surely have struck even the densest policy advisor at Conservative Central Office.

I suspect that the reality in all this is that the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats will not be able to reach an agreement, and that instead we will see a Lib/Lab pact, probably with Gordon Brown remaining as Prime Minister. How long would such a pact last? According to the bookies, the hot money is on another election within the year. Whether Cameron will still be leading the Conservatives then is a matter of opinion: he has, after all, failed to return a Conservative government despite fighting a deeply unpopular Labour administration which is mired in sleaze scandals and floundering in the face of a huge global crisis. For sure, he has managed to snatch a defeat from the jaws of victory, and whether the Conservatives will stand by and allow him to have a second go at leading them into a policy cul-de-sac remains to be seen.

By then, the damage may well have been done. The fact that the Conservatives could entertain a Lib/Con pact to get into power, power which they could have got simply by trusting the people by promising a referendum, will not easily be forgotten.

The list of seats where UKIP's vote exceeded the winning majority:

Bolton West Lab 18327 Con 18235 UKIP 1901

Derby North Lab 14896 Con 14283 UKIP 829

Derbyshire NE Lab 17958 Con 15503 UKIP 2636

Dorset Mid Lib Dem 21100 Con 20831 UKIP 2109

Dudley North Lab 14923 Con 14274 UKIP 3267

Great Grimsby Lab 10777 Con 10063 UKIP 2043

Hampstead & Kilburn Lab 17332 Con 17290 UKIP 408

Middlesborough South Lab 18138 Con 16461 UKIP 1881

Morley & Outwood Lab 18365 Con 17264 UKIP 1506

Newcastle under Lyme Lab 16393 Con 14841 UKIP 3491

Plymouth Moor View Lab 15433 Con 13845 UKIP 3188

Solihull Lab 23635 Con 23460 UKIP 1200

Somerton & Frome LD 28793 Con 26976 UKIP 1932

Southampton Itchen Lab 16326 Con 16134 UKIP 1928

St Austell & Newquay LD 20189 Con 18877 UKIP 1757

St Ives LD 19619 Con 17900 UKIP 2560

Telford Lab 15977 Con 14996 UKIP 2428

Walsall North Labour 13385 Con 12395 UKIP 1737

Walsall South Labour 16211 Con 14456 UKIP 3449

Wells LD 24560 Con 23760 UKIP 1711

Wirral South Lab 16276 Con 15745 UKIP 1274

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Update on Steven's figures: £212,000 pocketed

Former MEP John Stevens, who is fighting the Buckingham seat against John Bercow as an anti-sleaze candidate, made over £212,000 in expenses for a non-existent constituency office.

Stevens, who received a total of over £252,000 for his 10 years as an MEP, only maintained a constituency office for 19 months after his first election, according to the official contact details published by the European Parliament. For the rest of his term - February 1989 until June 1999 - he listed his home address in Westminster, and his employers, Rothschild Asset Management, in St James's, London.

At the time, the general expenditure allowance, meant to cover the operating costs of a constituency office, were £2100 per month.

Stevens says on his anti-sleaze campaign website that "I pledge to only claim the essential travel and office expenses necessary for me to represent Buckingham at Westminster" and, of Bercow, "How can he preside over reform when he’s one of the guilty parties?".

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

John Stevens in expenses scandal - you read it here first

Former Conservative MEP John Stevens is standing for election as an anti-sleeze candidate: he says on his website that "Reforming the MPs Expenses System – It is shameful how MPs have abused their own expenses system. We need to clean-up Parliament and end the expenses abuse. " Of course, he is standing against Speaker of the House and property flipper John Bercow and UKIP MEP Nigel Farage in the Buckingham constituency.

All very laudable stuff. And yet, when Stevens was an MEP, he received a set payment, currently worth around £40,000 per year, to run a constituency office. As MEP for the old Euro constituency of Thames Valley, when he first was elected in 1989, he listed in the 'grey list' - the European Parliament's official list of MEP contact details, an office at 70, High Street, Sunninghill, Ascot. However, by the official list published on the 18th February 1991, that address had disappeared, and his official contact addresses were listed as 40 Smith Square, London SW1, and 15 St James's Place, London SW1.

40 Smith Square is a house (in the most expensive area in London), while 15 St James's Place were the offices of his employers, Rothschild Asset Management.

Of course, not having a constituency office does not mean that he didn't automatically receive tens of thousands of pounds per year office expenses, which means of course that for almost 8 1/2 years, he drew (in today's money) the equivalent of £340,000 to run a constituency office that he didn't actually have.

One can only assume that it had slipped his mind. Clearly, this is just the type of sleazebuster Westminster needs: one who really knows how to milk the system.