I see that Carlisle, 30 miles south of here, has a new Conservative MP after being with Labour forever... But Dumfries has stuck with the incumbents this election two days ago.... Russell Brown, Labour, for my district of Dumfries and Galloway, and David Mundell, Conservative, for the one just to the east of here.
I find it quite boring when the incumbents get elected back in. Scotland as a whole didn't change ANY party seat numbers (altho there were some new candidates who won in some places)... Scotland still only has one Conservative MP, 41 Labour MP's, six SNP seats, and eleven Lib Dem seats.... no change whatsoever from the 2005 result... which is boring and astounding at the same time. It bucks the trend of what the rest of the UK did... Down in England, the Tories gained lots of seats, Labour lost lots and the Liberals lost a few, which has all resulted in a hung parliament.
So the people down in England must think the people up here in Scotland are crazy... with all the Labour candidates we voted for. I really thought that there'd be more of a swap, even in Scotland, for Conservatives... and the Lib Dems did surprisingly poorly too, given what the polls were saying after the Nick Clegg-mania of the past several weeks.
I think the people in Scotland and other places like the Newcastle area in northeast England just couldn't see themselves voting Tory because they all remember the Thatcher years... and they chickened out from voting for other parties such as the Lib Dems for fear that it would help the Tories get in... so they reverted back to Labour.
Personally, I thought Labour needed a good whipping as punishment for the past several years of Iraq War lies, MP expenses and financial mess... so I voted for the SNP.
Here were the results in Dumfries and Galloway:
|Andrew Wood||Scottish National Party||6,419||12.3||+0.2|
|Richard Brodie||Liberal Democrat||4,608||8.8||+0.5|
|William Wright||UK Independence Party||695||1.3||+1.3|
so my guy came in a distant third... harumph.
In Scotland, the popular vote totals went like this:
While in the whole of the UK, the totals were:
And I was happy to see that a Green candidate has won down in Brighton. I would've voted for the Greens if they had run here.
Anyway, why don't I just go party by party with my thoughts...
Labour, of course, are the ones in power nationally, and the current MP for this constituency (Dumfries & Galloway) is a Labour guy. By all accounts, our MP is a good guy. My wife likes him. I don't have anything against him, really, except that he's been there for about 10 years, as long as I've been in Dumfries, and has he done anything good ? Probably, yes, but in general I've seen the town decline over the past 10 years... so he hasn't really done enough good, in my opinion. The economy nationally as well as locally is terrible... the traffic in town is terrible... I know it's not his fault but let me just get some thoughts out anyway. The nation, under a Labour government, is in a bad state. Gordon Brown is not well-liked, and it looks like he's going to lose power at this election. I blame Labour for the banking crisis, the bad economy, the mess that was the war in Iraq, etc etc etc, and I think they must be punished. I would normally vote for Labour over the Conservatives, but there's just no way I can see myself vote for a Labour candidate right now with the state that the country is in, and has been in over the past 10 years. They need to get out.
The Conservatives... It looks like David Cameron will be our next Prime Minister. If that's the case, I think it would be a good thing for our region to have a Conservative MP. After listening to the local candidates' debate on the radio, I must say that the two candidates from the two big parties were probably head and shoulders above the others in terms of how they came across to me.... more intelligent sounding, a bit more on the ball... both the Tory and the incumbent Labour candidates have spent time in Westminster and know what they're doing, and you can tell that. Just more polished and professional in some way... not that that's necessarily always a good thing... I'm not a fan of professional politicians... but maybe it helps to be experienced at Westminster in order to get things done. All that said, I won't be voting for the Conservative candidate. I'm not a right-leaning person, more of a leftie. The fox-hunting farmer crowd is not really my scene. I think either one of the big two could win this MP seat. Most of the constituency is very rural (thus conservative), but I think the current Labour MP is fairly well-liked too so it's hard to predict... it might go either way.
The Green Party doesn't have a candidate standing in this constituency, otherwise I would seriously be considering them. Shame.
The Liberal Democrats are on the up lately with their leader Nick Clegg being very popular after the first leaders' debate. I was seriously thinking about voting Lib Dem... but to be brutally frank, I find the local candidate pretty disappointing. Not up to par with the two from the big parties at all. I know it's not all about presentation and it should be more about issues... so, actually, there are issues, as well, that dissuade me from voting Lib Dem... One issue being nuclear power, which I'm in favour of, and they do not want to pursue that in the future for various reasons. Mainly, tho, I guess, I just wish there was a more impressive Lib Dem candidate... a bit dissapointing because I think they would've done well here this time around... who knows, maybe they still will.
Despite the Labour pamphlets saying it's a two horse race, I really wouldn't be surprised if the Lib Dems and the SNP do well enough to make it a four horse race in this constituency, especially with the national mood being the way it is lately. There could be a surprise victory for one of the other parties. There's a fifth party running as well... the UK Independence Party, which runs mainly on a platform of saying they want the UK to leave the EU and the European Parliament. I don't see them getting too much support around here. We like our EU-funded bike paths too much.
So, the Scottish National Party is the only one left. Probably more of a case of deciding who not to vote for, which has led me to say that I may vote for the SNP. The local candidate, I knew of, as he is a councillor up in Nithsdale where I used to work north of Dumfries... and I've seen his face in the wee local paper I used to get up there. Not overly impressed with him, actually, but a bit better than the Lib Dem guy. In the radio debate, he did say a few right things about renewable energy, which is a big issue with me lately... As far as independence for Scotland, I'm probably leaning more for that than against it (altho Linda is against it).... and, being an SNP guy, I think he'd definitely be thinking of Scotland first, and the local area first... which I think is a good thing... sort of a local champion, as they say.... And he is born and bred from this area, Dumfries... unlike some of the others who are from Ayr or Annan, outside of the constituency.... so, yeah, I think I'll be voting SNP in my first UK parliamentary election.
I got my postal ballot today, a picture of which is below... because I have an observation to make.
I don't like sneakiness, and here's an example of sneakiness by the incumbent Labour candidate, Russell Brown.... He lives in Annan, which is a bit to the east and outwith the borders of the Dumfries and Galloway constituency. I prefer my MP to live in his constituency, but no huge big deal. It's close enough, I suppose. You'll notice the Lib Dem candidate, Brodie, also lives in Annan... post code DG12. Brodie lists Annan as his address but not Brown. Brown is a bit sneaky. He sneakily says his home is "Dumfriesshire" (the name of the region, but omitting the town name)... presumably to make people believe that he actually lives in Dumfries and not outwith the constituency in Annan (where there are no voters he needs to woo). That's just a bit sneaky and evasive in my opinion... too much of a politician.
Well, with November nearly over, it's time to reveal who this month's picks are for the ever-growing Newsmakers Hall of Fame...
Guy Fawkes... of gunpowder plot fame who gets burned in effigy every Nov. 5th
Tony Blair... who has also been burned in effigy on several occasions, and most recently burned by failing to get the EU presidency.
Here's an old picture of Guy heading for the bonfire...
Remember, remember, the 5th of November
The Gunpowder Treason and plot ;
I know of no reason why Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.
Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes,
'Twas his intent.
To blow up the King and the Parliament.
Three score barrels of powder below.
Poor old England to overthrow.
By God's providence he was catch'd,
With a dark lantern and burning match
Holloa boys, Holloa boys, let the bells ring
Holloa boys, Holloa boys, God save the King!
While on the transatlantic flight a few days ago I watched the film "Gandhi". This incident was depicted in the film:
(info below from Wikipedia)
Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer was a British Indian Army officer infamous for the orders which he gave on April 13, 1919 in Amritsar. It was under his command that 90 troops opened fire on a gathering of unarmed civilians, including women and children gathered at the Jallianwalla Bagh in what came to be later known as the Jallianwala Bagh massacre.
The civilians had assembled at Jallianwala Bagh to participate in the annual Baisakhi celebrations which are both a religious as well as a cultural festival of the Punjabis. Being from outside the city, they were unaware of the martial law that had been imposed (due to the attack of an Anglo woman). The Bagh-space comprised 6 to 7 acres (28,000 m2) and was walled on all sides except for five entrances. Four of these entrances were very narrow, admitting only a few people at a time. The fifth entrance was blocked by the armed soldiers, as well as by two armoured cars armed with machine guns. (These vehicles were unable to pass through the entrance.) Upon entering the park, the General ordered the troops to fire directly into the assembled gathering. Firing continued until his troops' supply of 1650 rounds of ammunition was exhausted. The firing continued unabated for about 10 minutes.
Well, the far-right BNP has been elected to the European Parliament to represent constituents in England. This brings to mind an English fascist of the past...
Excerpts from Wikipedia:
( Read more...Collapse )
Sir Oswald Ernald Mosley, 6th Baronet (1896 – 1980) was a British politician, known principally as the founder of the British Union of Fascists.
How can Brown limp on after such a total collapse of Government?
For weeks, they behaved like donkeys, stubbornly clinging to office or their seat. Now they are like lemmings, such is the rush to stand down or resign.
In a few dizzying hours, Children's Minister Beverly Hughes revealed she wanted to leave the Government for 'personal and family reasons', making it her second resignation - the first time she quit was over the visas for Romanian one-legged roofers scandal, five years ago.
David Chaytor, MP for Bury North, said he was standing down after uproar over his expenses claims of almost £13,000 towards a mortgage that did not exist.
He had already been suspended from the Parliamentary Labour Party and faced the humiliation of being de-selected as a candidate after a forthcoming 'star chamber' inquiry.
And Patricia Hewitt, the arch-Blairite ex-Health Secretary announced she will quit as an MP at the next election, to take up what is doubtless a lucrative new career in the pharmaceuticals industry.
Now, to that list, we can add Jacqui Smith, who will cease to be Home Secretary after Friday's expected re-shuffle.
Miss Smith, humiliated by the revelation her husband charged porn to the taxpayer, and facing an inquiry into claiming her sister's spare bedroom was her main home, had quite simply had enough - though, curiously, she does plan to defend her wafer-thin majority in Redditch at the next election.
Are there any left? Certainly, others may well follow, with Alistair Darling - forced to apologise for, and pay back, hundreds of pounds he wrongly claimed on his expenses - at the front of the queue.
Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon is also under pressure after being forced to issue an apology and pay back money after admitting he had 'accidentally' over-claimed £384.
Labour backbencher Jim Devine is facing de-selection after being referred to the party's star chamber over allegations that he submitted receipts from a firm that may not have existed.
But can this really continue?
As Conservative MP Ben Wallace, who reported Jacqui Smith to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner over her expenses, opined: 'What I think is amazing is the total collapse of management of Government, the fact that some people are jumping ship without even informing the Prime Minister, it seems.
'It is just falling apart. Is the Prime Minister in control or not, people are going to be asking.'
If Gordon Brown is to take one lesson from today, it should be that his Government - with or without a major reshuffle - cannot possibly limp on for another year.
Britain is facing the worst economic crisis for 100 years, requiring strong leadership and focussed minds. That is what the country must have.
What it cannot afford is the paralysis of week upon week of ministers falling over themselves to resign before they are pushed, or stepping down after being exposed as expense cheats.
Mr Brown claims to have a strong conscience. He is also known to care about how history will perceive him.
By calling a General Election now he can do the right thing for the country, if not himself. Even his most fierce critics, given time, may even come to respect him for it.
Sadly, nobody should hold their breath.
Right. Haven't updated this in a wee while. Here are a few people, places or things that have been in the news lately which I'd like to recognise as being worthy of entering the Hall of Fame...
March 2009 inductees
BAE Systems ( I used to work for this company)
Sean Penn (got the oscar for best actor with MILK, didn't he? Was also in Fast Times at Ridgemont High)
April 2009 inductees
Cambridge University (visited here a few years ago and went punting in the River Cam...)
May 2009 inductees
Bob Dylan (recently topped the charts.... he's a living legend)
Alan Shearer (great former footballer, but couldn't keep Newcastle from going down next year)
House of Commons (bad boys and girls)
Here's the latest complete list of MPs standing down over expenses (from the Guardian):
Julie Kirkbride, Conservative To quit after revelations that she claimed money to part-fund an extension to her home so her brother could live there.
Margaret Moran, Labour Announced she will stand down at the next election after reports that she claimed £22,500 for treating dry rot in her husband's home in Southampton, more than 100 miles from her constituency.
Michael Martin, Speaker Forced out after a rebellion in the chamber from MPs critical of his handling of the expenses controversy. He spent more than £1,400 on chauffeurs in his Glasgow constituency.
Sir Peter Viggers, Conservative Has faced ridicule for filing a £30,000 claim to cover a gardening bill which included a floating duck island for his pond.
Douglas Hogg, Conservative Claimed for the costs of dredging the moat around his country estate, as well as for piano tuning, stable repairs and a housekeeper's salary.
Anthony Steen, Conservative Decided against standing for re-election after it was revealed he had spent £87,729 in four years towards the upkeep of his £1m mansion, including for tree surgery and a wrought iron fireplace. Said he did not know "what the fuss is about" and people were "jealous" of his "very, very large house".
Ben Chapman, Labour The first from the Labour benches to announce his retirement at the next election, after he was accused of overclaiming £15,000 for mortgage interest.
Ian McCartney, Labour Former Labour chairman will leave parliament at the next election because of "health problems" after repaying back almost £15,000 worth of expenses claims, including for an 18-piece dinner set, champagne flutes and wine glasses, a £700 dining table and chairs, and two sofas worth £1,328.
Andrew MacKay, Conservative David Cameron's former parliamentary aide announced he would not seek re-election after revelations that he claimed second-home expenses on a property that his wife, Julie Kirkbride, declared as her main home.
Sir Nicholas and Ann Winterton, Conservative Resigning after it was revealed they claimed £120,000 in expenses to rent a flat from a family trust controlled by their children over six years.
Toxic Politics Shake Up British Parties
Published: May 20, 2009
CARLISLE, ENGLAND - Sylvia Hodges has not yet decided how to cast her vote in elections next month to the European Parliament, but she knows who she won't support.
"Certainly not Labor or the Conservatives," said Ms. Hodges, a 76-year-old retired office worker, referring to the two main parties in Britain, whose representatives in Parliament have been engulfed in a scandal over their expense accounts.
"It's disgusting for them to stand there and say they have done nothing wrong," she said, standing on the doorstep of her home in a neat row of houses in this city not far from the border of Scotland.
Ms. Hodges is so angry with London politicians that she is considering a vote for the far-right British National Party, one of several smaller parties hoping to capitalize on an extraordinary tide of discontent with established leaders.
Across a continent in recession, millions of Europeans could be preparing to abandon the political center and head for the margins, both left and right. But in Britain the political atmosphere is uniquely toxic as the economic downturn coincides with startling revelations about the excesses of Westminster lawmakers.
Many voters here normally ignore the European Parliament elections, but this year they provide an opportunity for voters to vent their wrath on the main parties.
== snip ==
Here in northwest England, disenchantment could deliver a first European Parliament seat to the British National Party, a fierce critic of Islam that wants to pay non-Britons to leave the country, clamp down on immigration, restore capital punishment and take Britain out of the European Union and NATO.
Other fringe parties with very different agendas are also benefiting. In France, Greece and Germany the far-left is gaining ground, while in the Netherlands, Austria and Belgium, nationalist, anti-immigration, and anti-Muslim parties have the chance to prosper.
== snip ==
In Britain, voters have traditionally been suspicious of extreme nationalists. The B.N.P. holds around 50 seats in town and city halls, but has never won on the national stage - unlike far-right National Front in France, for example. The northwest region, which includes Carlisle, represents the party's best chance to win a national seat, and it has been campaigning energetically here in recent weeks.
More moderate fringe parties have an even greater chance to make gains; one likely beneficiary is the UK Independence Party, which wants to take Britain out of the European Union.
== snip ==
The Green Party is likely to see its vote increase, too, and a new group, Libertas, is hoping to establish its credentials. It opposes a new treaty designed to bolster the E.U.'s global role.
But, with European deputies elected on a proportional system, this is the B.N.P.'s best chance for years. In the European Parliament elections of 2004, more than 800,000 people voted for the B.N.P., an eight-fold increase from 1999 and the largest total vote ever for an extreme right-party in Britain.
== snip ==
Analysts say that, after years of trying to shed its reputation for anti-Semitism and confrontational street politics, this is a make-or-break election for the party's modernizers.
The B.N.P.'s Cambridge-educated leader, Nick Griffin, says his party is "in with a serious chance of five to seven seats" adding that he "would be amazed if we don't win one or two."
The Labor Party, he said, had left an opening for a party that is "actively looking after the working class, manufacturing industry and public services" while the Conservatives had opened up "the hang 'em, flog 'em" space.
In the past, Mr. Griffin said, tactics included "holding confrontational marches and meetings where the far left were guaranteed to come along and smash it up - and then having a punch-up." It was, he added, "tremendous fun, but it was terrible politics."
Over lunch in a Carlisle pub he even suggested that a western economic and energy crisis might bring the far-right into government. "The horrible possibility is that one comes to power elected to solve a totally unsolvable problem," he said.
With three security guards sitting at a nearby table, he added that power, "is a serious possibility - not next week, but these things don't go in long developments when you look back historically."
== snip ==
On the streets of Carlisle the anger is tangible even if it is unclear who will best exploit it. Sue Ferguson, who works at a local store called Hoopers, said she was "very disillusioned" and thought that expense-fiddling politicians should face the same sanctions as everyone else.
"If I did something wrong like that in my workplace," she said, "I wouldn't still be there."
Gone in 33 seconds - Speaker falls on sword
Michael Martin gave up his battle to stay on as Speaker this afternoon in a statement lasting just 33 seconds.
He fell on his sword in front of a packed Commons with a terse and calm resignation statement. Showing almost no emotion, Mr Martin said: "Since I came to this House 30 years ago, I have always felt that the House is at its best when it is united.
"In order that unity can be maintained, I have decided that I will relinquish the office of Speaker on Sunday 21 June. This will allow the House to proceed to elect a new Speaker on Monday 22 June. That is all I have to say on this matter."
Mr Martin was brutally ousted - the first Speaker in 300 years to be hounded out - by MPs who yesterday yelled to his face that he must go and then held a no-confidence motion to his throat. Tempers were running high this afternoon and a rattled John Prescott told an ITN news crew seeking an interview to "f**k off".
There will now be a by-election in his Glasgow North East constituency that Labour will struggle to hold against the buoyant Scottish Nationalists.
Mr Martin is by far the biggest victim of the expenses scandal. Another big name also fell today. Tory MP Douglas Hogg, who claimed for a moat to be cleaned, announced he will retire at the election.
Mr Martin's allies bitterly warned that the scandals would not be ended by finding a scapegoat, even one who had been criticised as a roadblock to reform.
Lord Foulkes, a close friend, said: "The people who have hounded him out of office should hang their heads in shame at the despicable way they have treated him." But Tony Wright, Labour chairman of the all-party public administration committee, said a "boil" had been lanced.
Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne said: "When things go horribly wrong, when armies lose battles, you don't blame the foot soldiers, you blame the generals."
Within a year of being elected in 2005, Ms Ussher is said to have set out to the Commons authorities over two pages a list of "essential repairs" to her Victorian house in south London.
It detailed how the house "was relatively cheap to purchase but requires quite a lot of work". Among the work listed was replacing "rotten" sash windows and a "grimy" stair carpet. She received the full £22,110 allowance, although her requests to replace "strange" plumbing and "bad taste" Artex were refused. The Sunday Telegraph claimed she had already lived in the house for five years.
The MP for Brent North made a profit of almost £200,000 from a flat mortgaged and renovated with the help of taxpayers' cash, the Telegraph has alleged. He is yet to respond.
VERA BAIRD QC
The Solicitor General - one of the government's top legal advisers - was refused a £268 claim for Christmas decorations.
Ms Baird insists she has broken no rules.
The former Trade Secretary used the expenses system to claim more than £125,000 for the London flat owned by his partner, it is claimed.
Over the past five years, Mr Byers is said to have spent more than £27,000 on redecoration, maintenance and appliances at flat in Camden, north London, and extensively renovated the outside of the entire building, which consists of four flats.
Mr Byers told the Sunday Telegraph all his claims were within the rules and had been approved by Commons authorities.
Many MPs 'considered resigning'
A Conservative MP says he believes many of his parliamentary colleagues have considered quitting amid revelations over their expenses claims.
Monmouth MP David Davies said it had "undermined" them, and he feared he was now seen as "a thief on the make".
However, there has been no suggestion that Mr Davies has done anything wrong.
"This whole thing has completely undermined the reputation generally of every single MP," Mr Davies told BBC Radio Wales.
"A lot of MPs are asking themselves 'Can I look in the mirror?'
A lot of [MPs] are saying 'What's it all about, should we get out, have I had enough?'
"And I think a lot of them will find the public will be helpful in pushing them in that direction anyway."
He told Good Morning Wales: "It's a very strange mood. People who have been there [Parliament] 20 or 30 years say they've never seen anything like it.
The chancellor claimed £10,000 towards the cost of furnishing the London flat he bought in 2005, according to The Telegraph.
It was also reported that Mr Darling "switched" the location of his second home four times in four years, allowing him to claim thousands of pounds towards the cost of both his Edinburgh home and for the London flat.
Mr Darling said: "The claims were made within House of Commons rules which were designed to reflect the fact that MPs have to meet the cost of living in two places."
Taxpayers contributed almost £100,000 to help pay the mortgage on a £1.35m flat owned by the Northern Ireland secretary, it is reported.
The money went on mortgage interest payments and council tax between 2004 and 2008 for the flat. Married to a member of the Sainsbury family and worth an estimated £15m - Mr Woodward is the richest member of the cabinet, though he does not draw a full ministerial salary.
The Northern Ireland secretary's spokesman has said the claims are within the rules and guidelines but Mr Woodward admitted politicians collectively looked "shameful".
Mrs Beckett found herself in trouble with the Fees Office after attempting to claim £600 for hanging baskets and pot plants.
An official informed her in a letter that expenses had to be "wholly, exclusively and necessarily incurred to enable you to stay overnight away from your main home". She claimed second home allowances of £72,537 from 2004 to 2008, despite having no mortgage or rent to pay on her constituency home in Derby. As environment secretary and foreign secretary, Mrs Beckett was living at the grace and favour Admiralty House in Whitehall, which enabled her to rent out her London flat.
The former foreign secretary said: "Grace and favour homes are not rent free, we are taxed on them as a benefit in kind."
The tourism minister claimed £25,411.64 for security patrols at her London home after she was mugged.
She also requested £528.75 to have a Chinese needlepoint rug repaired and cleaned but that was deemed excessive by the Fees Office and she was handed back just £300.
Mrs Follett told the BBC: "I claimed it, it's within the rules and I have no comment to make."
The Telegraph suggested the immigration minister had claimed for nappies and women's clothing when submitting requests for expenses.
It said it was unclear how these items had been justified because parliamentary rules only allowed payouts for items which were "exclusively" for MPs' own use.
Mr Woolas has threatened legal action over the "disgusting" allegations. He said the items had been on supermarket receipts submitted as part of a claim for food expenses but that he had never asked for money for them. Mr Woolas described the expenses records as "stolen property".