Thursday, September 28, 2006

Welcome (?) the new style Conservative Party Conference.

We will have smoothies, fruitcakes and many varieties of nuts in Bournemouth this year -no, this is not the delegates I am talking about; but the refreshments.

I have been going to Party Conference since about 1998. Mostly the conference is an orgy of excessive drinking and eating, usually until early dawn (most politico's are nocturnal). Conference debates don't get going until the afternoon to allow everyone time to recover, daytime staple diets are lashings of coffee, large fried breakfasts, alcohol (from about 11.00 am in some cases) and copious portions of fried fast food.

Apparently, this is all over. According to my insider this year it's all health and wellbeing - even the debates, which will begin 'fresh and early' at 9.00 am.

The entire conference agenda is dominated by social action initiatives and topics with sexy hip titles like "Healthcare 2020" , " sustainable agriculture", "women and the environment", but actually which seem to be talking about banning lots of things - a worry for Libertarians like me.

Usually we get the odd free pen some lapel badges saying things like 'EU -NO Thanks!' or "LORRIES NEED ROADS!" and the offer of a blood pressure check but this year I am expecting to be given a peace flower, or a kaftan.

The party Chairman even emailed me "our fruit smoothie bar will be on hand to spread a bit of goodness and well-being throughout the conference." Mmmm , great!

Luckily everything I have been invited to that I want to actually go to is happening after dark in licenced premesis.

And Bournemouth still has an all-night kebab stall.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Was Cheri's outburst yesterday a Freudian slip?

Apparently, according to a Reuters journalist while Gordon Brown was in full flow yesterday, saying how much he considered working for Tony Blair an honour, Mrs Blair is reported to have blurted out the words 'thats a lie' - apparently in disgust, as she was leaving the hall.

The story, reported by a Reuters journalist, erupted across all the main media, spurred on by the knowledge that Mrs Blair cannot stand Gordon Brown at the best of times, let alone when he is poised to deny her husband his job.

Editors clearly decided the unwitnessed exchange was genuine, even though it was eventually denied seven hours later by Mrs Blair.

Interestingly what she said was "the story is not true ... and I don't believe it anyway."

Looks to me like a case of 'hell hath no fury' and all that; but it has certainly made a very boring Labour conference come to life..

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Letter to the Herald Express:

Dear Sir

In his letter to you of September 18th Cllr Peter Killick demonstrates perfectly the disease that the Torbay Liberal Democrats, and through them Torbay Council, has had since they came to power sixteen years ago. They turned Torbay into "the council that likes to say NO".

The one constant I have noticed when I talk to local business is endless stories of a Council who have crushed enterprise and deterred anything new.

While Conservatives, local businesspeople, trade groups and countless willing independent citizens have been brimming with ideas for regenerating Torbay, - whether supporting yacht races, backing new development ideas or supporting inward investment the Lib Dems have slammed the door in the face of plan after plan.

And since our mayor was elected by the people of Torbay, the Lib Dem group have opposed every new idea or proposal he has come up with.

For instance, Nick Bye made a perfectly reasonable suggestion last week to consider bids from a non-profit organisation to run the St Kilda’s care home yet before a single proposal has come forward Mr Killick is already saying ‘No’ - why not wait and see what's on offer first?.

But then he and his party said ‘NO’ to a referendum, then another big ‘NO’ to a directly elected Mayor in the first place.

Offered a chance to be in the cabinet -making positive contribution to the future of Torbay- the Lib Dems said no, and then said it again six months later, just to make sure we understood.

Nick brought in property experts to try out some fresh thinking about ways to deal with the Councils sprawling property portfolio and its £50m repair bill. I was horrified says Cllr Ruth Pentney, -or in other words - 'we won't consider anything that might help improve Torbay unless we thought of it first'.

Emergency seafront repairs; the 2006 budget; saving Upton School - even urgent matters like these the answer has been "No, No, and No".

As a result of the Lib Dems negative attitude and closed minds Torbay has been stuck in neutral since they took charge in 1990.

The local economy has been drifting while the rest of Devon has been booming. Millions - even billions of new investment has poured into areas like Exeter and Plymouth - because they had the sense to say 'yes please' whilst our lot were too busy arguing about their allowances and how many loos to close.

All is not lost, in May next years there will be elections to the council and residents can at last say 'No thanks' once-and-for-all to any more of the Lib Dems childish political antics.

Torbay deserves a fresh start and a positive attitude, hopefully in next years elections we will get both.

Yours Truly

Monday, September 18, 2006

Will a 'make over' save Ming?

As my picture of Lib Dem Leader Menzies Campbell and his deputy Vincent Cable at the Lib dem conference shows, the party leadership has an image problem.

Given that the young bloods like David Laws, Nick Clegg etc don't want to mount a coup this side of a general election (because they don't want to take the flak for the Lib dems certain disappointment come the next GE) is it any surprise that the spin masters have been suggesting ways for Ming to get with the yoof and trendy up his image a bit.

I am awarding a mystery prize for the best tip on here for Menzies Campbell. Should he engage the services of Trinny and Suzanna for that complete makeover? Or would he be better to organise a guest presenter spot on 'Have I Got Old News for You?'.

Suggestions can be left anonymously, but then you won't be able to claim the prize.

And please remember people, a leader is for the life of a Parliament, not just till Christmas.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Will the next Prime Minister be Gordon Brown?

It is the generally agreed view of nearly everyone in the political world that Gordon Brown is a 'done deal' to take over from Tony Blair.

I'm going on the record here and saying that I don't think he will get it.

Who would have doubted, in 1989, that the next tory leader was going to be Michael Hestletine? - Who would have believed, in 1997 and again in 2001, that the next Tory leader wasn't going to be Ken Clarke?

For those who can remember back that far, who would have questioned that the man to replace Harold Wilson was Roy Jenkins?

Even Mrs Thatcher was a rank outsider, upsetting the expected coronation of Whitelaw in 1975.

The point is the favoured candidate almost never gets elected, the only case that comes to mind was Anthony Eden eventually taking over from Winston Churchill and we all know how that ended up.

My money is on education secretary Alan Johnson sneaking through the middle as Labour members peer over the precipice and see a Gordon Brown led party being an electoral disaster and decide they want a new face, not another old one.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Wheels fall off the Deals from Hell

The Liberal Democrats are famous for having made some of the daftest decisions in Torbays history including suddenly deciding to close down half our public toilets, putting council tax up so much the Government stepped in, causing outcry by awarding themselves a 63% pay rise and trying to close down several local schools ignoring angry parent protests.

But less well known is the fact that Torbay Lib Dems have also signed up to some eye-wateringly bad business deals, including the recent NCP fiasco, which will leave a financial legacy for years to come.

First Liberal Democrats paid for an ‘independent’ parking study - by a firm of consultants owned by the car parks operator NCP!

Then they awarded the deal to manage car parking in Torbay to –guess who? That’s right, NCP!

Next they spent £700,000 to house the new department, even though the council had other empty offices and a massive debt problem.

Now we learn that the ‘self funding’ deal will actually mean taxpayers forking out millions in fees to NCP unless local residents pay for parking permits as well!

Worst of all, in spite of thousands of complaints Torbay residents are stuck with NCP’s money-grabbing traffic Wardens for at least another five years and council tax payers will be paying EXTRA for the privilege.

PS Due to a breakdown of my Broadband system (offline for a month and counting) my ability to update the site and add photo's has been severely constrained. Please bear with me - BT ASSURE me that all will be resolved by next Thursday, we live in hope (thats what they told me last week, and the week before...)