Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Nick Clegg speech to Sheffield Conference - the video

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg addressed Liberal Democrat conference on Sunday 13th March in Sheffield. This video contains the full version of the speech.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

The Mad, Mad World of the only Brain in the Labour Group

Councillor Malcolm Brain is the only Brain in the Labour Group in Gateshead. Whether or not he lives up to his name is a point on which I leave readers to make their own judgement. However, I throw into the melting pot of consideration the latest brainwave from The Brain Himself.

At the Council meeting on Thursday last week, Cllr Brain attacked us for going in to Coalition with the Conservatives. He pointed out we had a choice. The alternative to the Coalition, claimed Cllr Brain, was for the Lib Dems to go into opposition and vote down every cut and policy put forward by the Conservatives, a sort of opposition coalition (my words, not his) that would clearly do its best to bring government to a halt.

So, let's examine this proposal that I suspect it will leave Cllr Brain dead in the water. Firstly, it is based on the presumption that the Conservatives would have taken on the reins of government on their own in the face of a commitment by the combined opposition to vote down and destroy all their major policies, especially their economic ones. Faced with such a challenging situation there is a reasonable possibility the Conservatives would not have gone into office. Labour would, in such circumstances, have had to remain in office, something the people of Britain would have found unacceptable.

But, for the sake of illustrating just how unworkable Cllr Brain's scenario is, let's suppose the Conservatives did form a minority government. First up for the vote is the Emergency Budget. It is defeated. What would happen next? Well, Cllr Brain seemed to think everything would continue as before. The cuts wouldn't happen, the Conservatives would simply hold up their hands and say, no problem, we'll just forget about it, and everyone will live happily ever after. The Conservatives would continue in office but they would have no power to do anything.

The problem with Cllr Brain's scenario is that it is fairy tale politics. What he doesn't seem to understand is that when a government's budget is defeated, the government either has to resign or an election is called. Given that Labour were determined to go into opposition in May, and were in no fit shape to form a government in June (they didn't even have a leader to be appointed Prime Minister), the only possible scenario would have been a general election.

Perhaps Cllr Brain thinks that the Labour party, having already been heavily rejected at the polls, and being completely bankrupt, could sweep to power without a leader on a platform of being completely irresponsible whilst in opposition.

Or possibly the Conservatives would romp home on a call to be given the majority they need to address the problems everyone (except apparently the Labour Party) knows we face. Given that irresponsibly voting down a budget and paralysing government generally, which is what he in effect called for, would have almost certainly led to a run on the pound and another collapse in confidence in the UK economy, it is unlikely the voters would have been rushing out to thank Labour, or the Lib Dems, with their votes. Labour may have won an election in the fairy tale world of Cllr Brain, but in the real world, the highly likely outcome of Cllr Brain's suggested course of action is a Conservative government with a substantial majority.

Cllr Brain looked incredibly pleased with his ideas when he sat down after presenting them. He is not the only one to think they could have been a realistic course of action. In October last year, Cllr Malcolm Graham made exactly the same suggestion, in between telling us how terrible capitalism is.

Perhaps it's time for Labour to switch on its collective brain because at the moment it seems to be completely switched off.
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Thursday, March 03, 2011

Today's abuse from Labour - Lib Dems are "Nazi war criminals"

Dignity and restraint by some Labour Councillors have been evaporating since the country saw fit to remove the Labour Party from power last year. In Gateshead they are indignant with rage that the Lib Dems have formed a Coalition with the Conservatives rather than keep them in office. This of course ignores the complete lack of interest within Labour ranks last year in forming a Government with the Lib Dems. They wanted to be in opposition and opposition is what they got. Still, their phoney rage is something to be experienced.

We experience it at full council meetings in Gateshead and in recent months their language has become more and more extreme. Last month some of the "socialists" on the opposite benches heaped abuse on us, calling us a virus, Judas, parasites and liars. My ward colleague John McClurey was called a hypocrite on the grounds that he had a car and a bike.

But today the language employed against us sank even lower. Step forward Labour Councillor Tommy Graham. He speaks often at Council meetings and normally at vast length. Today he decided to compare us to Nazi war criminals. I wrote down what he said: "So there you are, just like the Nazis at the war crimes trials in Nuremburg, only following orders."

Cllr Graham also compared Nick Clegg to Colonel Gaddafi.

Rough and tumble is part of politics. Language used by all sides can at times be a bit over the top. But these comments by Cllr Graham were beyond the pale. They are not what should be expected from politicians. They bring politics into disrepute.

As a gay man, Cllr Graham's description is especially vile, given the number of homosexuals who ended up in concentration camps in Nazi Germany and were murdered by them.

And Lib Dem Councillor Ron Beadle was moved to point out to Cllr Graham that he had Jewish relatives who lost their lives in Nazi Germany.

I confronted Cllr Graham after the meeting and told him I never want to hear him descend to such a level again. He started to justify his comments but I left him before he could get his excuses out. The word "sorry" never passed his lips.

The question is, what is the Labour group going to do? Are they going to condone or condemn? Are they going to put an end to the worst of the abuse hurled at us and engage in level headed and calm debate in the council chamber, which many of them are capable of, rather than the shrill, hysteria that has characterised some Labour contributions recently?