Ed Miliband this morning made a bold intervention over funding for political parties, claiming that donations should be capped at £5,000 – a figure that is one tenth of the cap of £50,000 that David Cameron has previously put forward. The really headline-grabbing move though, is that Miliband signalled that trade unions will also be subjected to this cap, a move that he claims could deprive the Labour party of millions of pounds. Read the rest of this entry
Ordinarily I am wary of what might be called the ‘Eeyorish tendency’ within British society. By the Eeyorish tendency I mean the tendency to whine pessimistically, and to have the feeling that something, like our country, or possibly even the world, is inexorably going to hell in a handcart. The tendency is obviously named after the similarly cheerless donkey out of Winnie the Pooh. Examples of this would be when canvassing at election time, to be told repeatedly by members of the public that they are not going to make the short trip to their local polling station to exercise their democratic rights, because ‘they’re all the same.’ Even were one to go along with the proposition that a candidate from the British National Party or UKIP were ‘the same’ as a candidate from, say, the Green Party, or the Liberal Democrats- which I believe is both stupid and insulting- the thing that sticks in my claw about this tendency to default gloom is that it is often based on utter ignorance. I can’t help wondering how many such people can even name their local candidates. And then there is the fact that as a strategy of dealing a blow to a failing political system, the apathy policy is clearly a failure on its own terms, given that the less people vote the more it serves to narrow the political field, as candidates of the mainstream parties crowd the political centre. Looking across the Atlantic, it is surely highly likely that a third party could become viable in America, if the approx 50% of the population who cannot be bothered to vote did so. Instead we are left with a Republican and Democratic Party which people rightly complain hardly offers any choice at all on many issues. Further, this kind of Eeyorish apathy is often simply an excuse for people who cannot be bothered to do anything about a perceived problem, and wish to dress up their laziness and cynicism as some kind of protest against the perfidious machine. Read the rest of this entry
With the Chancellor, George Osborne set to announce the Autumn Statement this week, which will include government plans to guarantee bank loans to small and medium businesses at a cost of £20bn, I find myself asking where did this extra money come from and what happened to the austerity measures set out by the Coalition Government? Many political and economic commentators have made the point that the Coalition Government is now borrowing an extra £46bn and that their current plan differs from that of the Labour Party by only 0.7%. With this in mind I am again left wondering how we got to a place where the economic policies of HM Government and HM Opposition differ by only a whisker when during the election campaigns we were told that the policies of the main political parties were extremely different. Click here to keep reading
The great EU debate is over. For all the Europhiles out there, we can rest a little easier over the coming days, knowing Britain’s future in Europe is safe for a few more years at least. For the Eurosceptics, they’ll smoulder away in the corner for a while before contemplating their next plan of action to rid us of the terrible evil that is EU regulation. Funnily enough, that plan of action may well turn out to be a rerun of the last one, as already a new e-petition has been established demanding another debate on a referendum; fingers crossed and this could become a bit of an annual tradition. Read the rest of this entry
Under the Agency Worker Regulations that come into force in October agency staff that work for longer than 12 weeks are entitled to equal pay, bonuses and any benefits that are given to permanent employees. Whilst this is seen by many to be a good thing it could cost UK businesses an estimated £1.3 billion a year and many intend to avoid it at whenever possible.