The Summer Recess

Well I’m off on a first-hand fact-finding trip to
research the Euro in daily life, as well as
investigating the French wine industry and checking out
the quality of European beaches. Alright I’m going on
holiday! Keep your comments coming. As Arnie said,
“I’ll be back”

Who’s Left of Who?

I have had more feedback from my Anonymous contributor. Although I really do welcome challenging feedback, this will be the last time I reply through the public column (because I don’t want this to take over for everyone else!) – but please keep the comments coming! Now I don’t know if you’ve yet read The Orange Book but I suspect you’ve just seen the Gruniad story you cited (because it’s not out yet!) but it is a collection of ideas, not officail party policy. But I have pre-ordered my copy and am looking forward to reading it. I am a big fan of the Political Compass website, sometimes you can be surprised at where you find yourself on the left/right and libertarian/authoritarian scales. And without wishing to spoil it for anyone, it is quite surprising where some of our past and present leaders fit too. But fundamentally above anything else, I am a democrat. My own political leanings have change little over twenty years, but during that time the British Labour Party have moved from Michael Foot leftism to Tony Blair centrism. I think that you should align yourself with a party whose beliefs most closely resemble your own – you’ll never find a perfect fit. Politicians have to follow party lines or else nothing would ever get done – but my beliefs are my own, and I’ll never sacrifice them on the altar of party dogma. Labour have let me down, and it wasn’t just the war in Iraq. What rankle most is a party with a landslide majority being afraid to deliver on manifesto commitments as well as difficult issues. How about Hunting with Dogs, Tuition Fees, European Working Hours, Selective Education. If you are “Labour to the Core” you must be dissappointed at the failure to deliver on core labour issues? And as for the Euro: Labour promised to put us back at the heart of Europe and we continue to lag behind. The “Five Economic Tests” as far I can see are all “Could we be sure of winning the referendum?” Anyway, stick to your principles (as I stick to mine) – and thanks for your contributions!

Anyone want to be a Tory Candidate?

With the news that nearly all of the candidates for the Hartlepool by-election have now been announced, things are still very quiet over at Conservative Central Office. Do you think they are having trouble persuading someone to stand. It’s clear to everyone that this is a two horse race between Labour and the LibDems, so the Tories have a dilemna: if they pick a high profile candidate – when the inevitable happens, we’ll all be saying “even with candidate x they couldn’t pick up votes”. If they pick a candidate no-ones heard of it will seem like an admission (of what we already know) that they don’t have a hope. Meanwhile, I’ve been reading at Tory Troubles that things are so bad they’re considering re-inventing themselves as “New Democrats” – what on earth would Bill Clinton make of it!

I’m off to reply to the ad in Hartlepool Jobcentre “Tory Candidate wanted – experience not essential – boss wants to build more prisons and bring back the birch”. Do you think I’ll get an interview?

Are you local?

I am indebted to Anonymous for his(her?) recent comments. I actually respect the point about being local (although it puts me in mind of Tubs and Edward of League of Gentlemen fame!); but I have to say that Middlesborough is at least somewhat closer to Hartlepool that Hamstead! To be fair, Jody has pledged to live and work in the constituency if elected. But I can’t accept that while New Labour could still be a natural home for someone with a “left of centre” view on life, the LibDems could not. I respect you for your loyalty – but the sight of President Blair strutting around on the world stage as an arrogant sidekick to George W Bush is about as far removed from the politics of Neil Kinnock and John Smith as my imagination will stretch. The relentless cronyism that has seen two formidable, respected politicians like Kinnock and Chris Patten replaced as our repesentation on the European stage by a third-chancer like Peter Mandelson is more than many long term Labour supporters can stomach. Hartlepool may be Labour heartland – but they’d better not take this one for granted. Labour in government have become increasingly arrogant and detached from public opinion – I think the good people of Hartlepool are ready to tell them so.

Guacamole in Hartlepool anyone?

Special mention must to to the excellent Guacamoleville. For the unenlightened, this is a blog entirely devoted to the upcoming Hartlepool by-election. It is cutting and insightful as well as very entertaining. It has been recommended by BBC News. I reckon it’s also very popular – when I was lucky enough to get a mention, my hit counter went into overdrive! Why Guacamole? Apparently, rumour has it, Peter Mandelson can’t tell the difference between mushy avocados and mushy peas! I’m sure there’s no truth in it though – but Mandy bashing is such an entertaining sport isn’t it?