News from British and Canadian Conservatives

Saturday, October 13, 2007

A week to go!

It's only a week until the wedding now, and if the weather is like it has been today, I certainly won't be complaining!

Invicta 1 - Hillingdon Borough 0

Invicta are through to the 4th Qualifying Round of the FA Cup for the 3rd time ever, having beaten Hillingdon Borough 1-0 at home. It's our first home win in the Cup so far these league, with both previous games being won at away replays, demonstrating the improved form that the team are now showing at the Buzzlines Stadium.

What's more, Welling Utd were defeated by Eastbourne Utd. Welling knocked Invicta out last year, as they had done twice before. They also defeated us last time we lost in the fourth qualifying round. All three times we have met in the cup, Invicta have been drawn at home and lost in the away replays, once only after penalties.

The last time Invicta made the 4th Qualifying Round was two seasons ago, when we beat Aylesbury Utd 2-0 away. That earnt Invicta a place in the First Round proper for the first time in history, with the away trip to Chester eventually seeing us out of the cup.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Reigning in Vancouver's Dinosaur Unions

Today, Vancouver's inside workers returned to work, after accepting the settlement proposed by an arbitrator. The librarians and oustide workers voted to stay out on strike. They claimed that their deals were not as good as the inside workers got. Well maybe the memberships should be blaming their leaders' poor negotiating skills for that one?!

The most amazing part of this is that 57% of the city's outside workers and 58% of the parks board's outside workers actually voted to accept the deal and return to work. The union's by-laws require two thirds of members to back the deal. So how come one third of the members can dictate to the other two thirds?! If the majority want to get back to work, they should cross the pickets. It's amazing that it's even legal for a union to be run that way, and I hope that BC is urgently reviewing its Labour laws.

To make matters even worse, the unions which rejected their deals threatened to begin secondary picketing against the inside workers. Apparently these did not materialise on a large scale, although a small number of inside workers are stuck behind picket lines where two or more groups of workers occupy the same buildings. Some members did attempt to form unofficial secondary pickets, but these were not in the end sanctioned, and did not prove effective.

It sounds like BC needs a Maggie PDQ. Secondary Picketing and militant minorities dictating to the majority of workers have no place outside North Korea.

CBC: Return to work
CBC: Strike Ballots

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Tax Con not Tax Cut 2

Gordon Brown's last budget went down in history as a "Tax Con, not a Tax Cut", after he announced a series of tax cuts which, when the small print was included, acutally raised taxes substantially. However, now Brown's the PM, and he's told us that everything will be different. No more spin. Honest Government that we can rely on.

So why is it that, this week, the new Chancellor of the Exchequer has been at it again?

  • The Inheritance Tax cut turns out not to be a cut, just a rebranding.
  • The Capital Gains Tax cut will raise an additional £350 million for the Treasury by dramatically hitting the sale of business assets including small businesses when the owner wishes to retire. A retiring shop keeper will pay 80% more tax than before the "tax cut"!
  • Council Tax is to continue rising at double the official rate of inflation for the foreseeable future.
  • Business Rates could also rise, as Councils are to be given the opportunity to increase them by up to 5% - is there a corresponding opportunity to reduce them by up to 5%?
The Capital Gains Tax moves are the most damaging, I suspect. They will force many retiring businessmen into poverty, which is hardly an incentive for new, upcoming entrepreneurs to invest in new businesses. These new business start ups are the life blood of a vibrant economy and are the Microsofts of tomorrow. Moreover, the reduction in CGT on second homes serves only to prolong the boom which has already destabilised the economy and forced a generation of young people off the property ladder in many parts of the country. Sooner or later, the bubble has to burst and the more the government gerrymanders the system to delay the inevitable, the harder that fall will actually be.

Tory Front bench performing

I have, at times, had my doubts about David Cameron and the Conservative front bench team but their performances over the last couple of weeks have been nothing short of outstanding. My confidence in them has been substantially restored, and for the first time in about 17 years they really look like they could govern the country. The Conservatives have always been notorious for being bad at opposition. At last, they seem to have got the hang of it.

Admittedly, Brown's Clowns have played their part. However, I think that the near disappearance of the Lib Dems is at least largely down to David Cameron, so he can take some credit for their demise. Our political system works much better with two parties - Government and Opposition - and at last it looks like we may be returning to that structure, in England at least.

That's not to say that the Tories should be standing back and admiring their work. Last week's policy announcements were only the beginning. Now the party has the initiative. Labour is on the racks and both the media and the public at large are prepared to listen to what our leadership has to say. They need to make the most of the opportunity, while continuing to develop the manifesto that can put Britain back on track after the next General Election.

Postal Strikes

Isn't it time the CWU moved into the 21st century. Equally, the management of the Royal Mail need to do likewise, but the unions really need to recognise that they don't operate in a monopoly any more, so the "comrades" need to work together with management to produce a strong force for the future. Modernisation is desparately needed. A prime example is in paying for the postage of parcels. At the moment, you queue at the post office for about 45 minutes, put the parcel on the scales and then someone the other side pushes a button to select the type of postage you want and tells you the price. How's about this for some modernisation - let me read the scales myself! I don't need a trained chimp to tell me how much money to pay for the parcel, I can push the buttons myself. Then, I can put the money into the machine myself (as you now do if paying on card anyway), and then stick on the label to show that I've paid. While we're at it, isn't it time that they issued bar codes rather than millions of fiddley stamps with arbitrary face values? They can include a sillouette of the Queen if they want, but surely we can just have one stamp which says how much you paid rather than great sheets of them?!

Ontario rejects PR

Congratulations to the voters of Ontario on their overwhelming rejection of the AMS system for elections. If you want to know why, just take a look at places like Scotland, which already use the system. It just causes chaos, as parties have to choose whether to stick to the principles on which they were elected or trade those in for power and money. Usually, you can rely on the Lib Dems to ditch their principles - not that they really have any - and prop someone up for a few highly paid ministerial positions, but this time around even the old Lib-Lab liance couldn't muster enough support. The result: a weak minority government which was elected by the minority of people just like those who would have elected the strong FPTP government.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Yet more post offices set to shut

Folkestone has been threatened with losing yet more post offices in the latest round of consultations. There are proposed closures Kent-wide, with several neighbouring towns and villages also under threat. Personally, two of my closest post offices are on the closure list - Enbrook and Shorncliffe. They have already closed my local Coolinge and then Morehall post offices, along with Sandgate and Pleasure Gardens branches. The proposals will leave west Folkestone with a population of 20,000 and only one post office. Then they wonder why fewer people use them!

These proposals are in addition to the already decided (after "consultation") closure of Folkestone's main crown post office, to be replaced by a counter in the small branch of WH Smiths. It really is beyond a joke.

Damian Collins, the Conservative PPC for Folkestone & Hythe has launched a petition against the closures. Sign the petition here.

Kent County Council also has a general petition fighting the plans Kent-wide here and survey here.

Here are the full consultation documents, including the address to send responses (by email or post, which is a risk given the postal strikes!)