News from British and Canadian Conservatives

Monday, December 14, 2009

Socialism doesn't wash Stateside




"They elected a symbol, when they elected a president" - HeraldSun, Australia

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Quote of the Day (so far)

"I think this is a great personal victory for Michael Foot this evening," says the Times's Daniel Finkelstein of the man who led Labour to a crashing defeat in 1983. "He has emerged as not the biggest loser in Labour's history."

Danny was a high profile member of the SDP, the moderate group which broke away from Labour in 1981. He is now a Conservative activist.

European Conservatives win in Czech Republic

Congratulation to the Czech ODS, who have topped the poll in the Czech Republic with 9 seats. The group is now guaranteed to meet the 20 MEP requirement to be recognised as an official group. The second hurdle, that at least 20% of the countries of the EU must elect members to the group, is yet to be met, although the leadership claims that parties from several other countries have expressed their intent to join the group. We won't know the outcome for some days, during which there will be much wrangling with independents and parties willing to switch allegiance, as is customary after every European Election!

European Conservative group moves closer in Poland

The results from Poland are showing that the Law & Justice Party has seen similar results to the last election, with an estimated 12 members elected to the European Parliament. They are set to form a new coalition with the British Conservative Party. Hopefully we will see a similar result for the Czech Republic's ODS.

The other parties who will join the coalition have not yet been named, but it seems that neither the UEN or Indepencence and Democracy groups are going to gain enough seats to retain their positions in the European Parliament, so some of the parties in their groups must be prime candidates for the new Conservative group. A large number of non-aligned representatives are also winning, and only time will tell how many of them may decide to join the Conservatives. It seems likely that some will form another attempt to form a far right grouping once again. We've been told that there are some members of the Christian Democrat European Peoples Party (EPP) who are also planning to join the Conservative group, but we will have to wait and see over the coming days how many of them will actually do so.

The elections are generally proving a good day for Europe's centre-right - the EPP will again be the largest group, with moderate gains. The far left is also picking up support, with the Socialist group being the main loser. The Liberal Group has also dropped back a little, with the resurgent Greens putting in a strong showing.

Britain elects first Fascist to European Parliament

Yorkshire and the Humber region has just become the first part of Britain to elect a representative of the BNP, as Labour has slumped. The BNP's seat was gained from Labour, who also surrendered their top place in the region to the Conservatives.

Final Result:

Conservative 2
Labour 1
UKIP 1
Lib Dem 1
BNP 1

In the East of England, Labour had slumped to just 10%, against UKIP's 20%! Again, the Conservatives topped the ballot. Final result (unchanged on 2004):

Conservative 3
UKIP 1
Lib Dem 1
Labour 1

The good old days return

Some pretty spectacular results are coming out of the results of the elections to the European Parliament. Surely, nowhere can top Wales, where the Conservatives have stormed to a sensational victory. It's the first time that Labour have lost Wales since 1918, and the best Conservative result there since 1867!

Friday, June 05, 2009

A minor blemish on Kent's landscape

All in all, the results in Kent were all that could be hoped for - and more besides. A thumping Conservative majority, with the Labour opposition reduced to a rump of two, with both the leader and deputy leader losing their seats. No real change for the Lib Dems either, with one gain taking them to just six seats. What a pity that their gain was in my old area - Folkestone West, and by a painful 11 votes.

The final composition of Kent:
Conservative 74 +17
Lib Dem 7 +1
Labour 2 -18
Swanscombe and Greenhithe Residents Association 1 +1

Glennis Kinnock as Minister for Europe?!

Yet more resignations from Gordon Brown's Cabinet today - Caroline Flint. More and more unelected ministers are being appointed to the Cabinet, as MPs fear that association with the Brown government could cost them their seats. Can Gordon Brown keep limping along like this? It seems that he plans to!

Bluewash across Britain

It's certainly turning into an amazing set of election results in England. Labour have lost all four of their County Councils - Staffordshire, Lancashire and Derbyshire all have Conservative majorities and Nottinghamshire is now hung. Meanwhile, the Lib Dems have lost both of their County Councils - Devon and Somerset are both now in the Blue column.

Congratulations go to Dick Pascoe, who has just retained his Folkestone Northeast division on Kent County Council. That was the Lib Dems' best hope for a gain, so bodes well for the other five Conservative County Councillors in Shepway. Kent is looking like a particular disaster for Labour, who have a large number of parliamentary constituencies there as well. Shocking results have seen the Labour leader fall to sixth place in Deal, with the Conservatives taking both seats. So far, every Labour seat has been lost. One to the Residents Association of Swanscombe and Greenhithe, and the rest all to the Conservatives. Even in my wildest dreams, I didn't imagine us taking control of all the seats in Dover, Dartford, and places like Sheerness and Ashford South. Labour's only real hope of holding any seats in Kent now rests with Northfleet and Gravesham West and Ramsgate. The Lib Dems have stood still, with one gain in Maidstone, matched by a loss in neighbouring Malling.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The rise and rise of the left-wing British Gay Mafia

I've always taken the view that governments have no place in private bedrooms. In fact, they shouldn't try to control our lives at all. It's not as if they can run countries well, so why would they be able to run our lives? Those underlying principles may be the reason why I've never understood why anyone would care whether someone is gay or what they want to get up with in their private lives. Unfortunately, it seems that some British gay groups are less inclined to adopt the same principles, and the government's attempts at social engineering are proof that they should not have a place in the bedroom.

Today we have two stories which illustrate the problem well. The first is truly shocking. The state-funded British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF) have published various documents claiming that opponents of adoption by gays and lesbians are "retarded homophobes." What a pleasant organisation for us to entrust the care of our most vulnerable children. Britain's adoption Nazis, as the Daily Mail so eloquently describes them, have previously banned a Christian couple from fostering any more children, because they were not prepared to teach the children they fostered that gay relationships were right. Worse than that, when the 40ish grandparents of two boys whose mother was a junkie wanted to adopt their grandchildren, they were refused for being too old. Instead, the children were placed with a gay couple and the grandparents were told that they would be allowed to see them twice a year, on the condition that they didn't complain about the incident.

The second story is that Canterbury Pride has taken Conservative controlled Canterbury City Council to the Local Government Ombudsman to complain that there is no gay bar or gay community centre in Canterbury. This, apparently, has turned Canterbury into a "Cultural Wasteland."

Let's be absolutely clear. Canterbury, population 43,000, is the home of Canterbury Cathedral, the centre of the global Anglican and Episcopalian faith. It is world renowned as the subject for Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, to which there is a museum in the city. It houses not one by two universities and a theatre which attracts top London shows when they tour. It is famed for its international food markets held at Christmas time, and beer festival held in the summer. Within Kent, it is well known for its excellent pubs and restaurants. It is also where I proposed to my wife. What kind of narrow definition of culture states that all of this is negated by the lack of a gay bar and community centre?!

To top it all, it has also hosted a regular gay nightclub called Girls And boYs for several years and the council has previously granted Canterbury Pride money to help fund a Gay Pride festival and to hold civic events to engage with the LGBT community. Given that there were plans to redevelop the area around Girls And boYs, it is possible that the venue is no longer available, but given that it was a commercial venture there was nothing to stop the event moving to an alternative venue if it was commercially viable. If there is the level of demand that Canterbury Pride claims, there is no doubt that gay bars, clubs and community facilities would flourish within the night scene, which has all managed very will without taxpayers' funds, thank you.

Thankfully, the Ombudsman has already indicated that there is no case to answer. However, it is legally obliged to investigate all allegations, leaving taxpayers on the hook for that. Whatever happened to Democracy, where people debated issues and answers were found at the ballot box, insead of in front of an unelected judge?

Ignatieff uncovered


The new CPC attack ads certainly make for interesting reading. Iggy clearly has made some pretty poor judgements - both in the way he has presented himself in the global media, and the way he voted in Britain! He must have hoped that no-one in Canada would realise that he had been bad-mouthing the country when he was away from home, claiming that the only thing he missed about Canada was Algonquin Park or that people in Quebec don't speak proper French, like he does. I'm surprised that he ever knows where he is. Everywhere must look pretty much the same when you're that far up your own arse.

I do wonder whether he would still support Labour if the opportunity arose today? The party has delivered Britain a record 12% budget defecit, and plans to borrow £800 bn between 2008-2013, raise income tax for all, especially the highest and lowest earners and has introduced authoritarian laws which even mean that peoples' rubbish is inspected before it is taken away, to make sure that they are recycling everything. No wonder they've stopped calling the Conservatives un-Canadian.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Debate is good for city council

There has been much talk of Calgary City Council being dysfunctional, after disagreements between Aldermen during recent debates. I find the uproar rather bizarre - surely debate is what democracy is all about. If we want all of our elected representatives to sit around agreeing with one another, why bother electing them?

For years, Mayor Bronconnier and his cronies have run the city like their own personal fiefdom. At last they now face scrutiny at the hands of a sound-minded group of Aldermen, which normally includes Ric McIver, Diane Colley-Urquhart, Joe Connelly amongst others. What's more, voters will have a clear choice between the same old Bronco-Liberalism, as espoused by many of our "Independent" representatives (particularly Druh Farrell and Bob Hawkesworth) and a fresh new conservative alternative at next year's elections. That makes a welcome change, and is far more democratic than the usual method of having to guess how Aldermen are likely to vote.

The new CivicCamp organisation is an interesting development. I'm not clear as to their intentions, but they look like they may be developing into a Liberal-leaning municipal party. Particularly amusing is their complaint about "the ward politics system." I wonder why they have a problem with Aldermen standing up for the communities they represent!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Lies about STV

Proponents of the STV voting system which is proposed for BC's Provincial Elections have been making some wildly positive claims about the benefits of the system. They argue that it is "fair", "easy to use", "proportional" and provides "local representation". Yet Winston Churchill described it thus:

... the worst of all possible plans, the least scientific and most unreal. The decision is to be determined by the most worthless votes given for the most worthless candidates.

So, who is right? Fortunately, there are plenty of countries already using STV to give us some real-world examples of the truth.

STV is fair

For this one, we need look no further than the last Irish General Election, in 2007. Since the STV system almost invariably gives no single party a majority, it has become customary for the parties to enter pre-election alliances, so that the voters know which groups will work together to actually run the country. In 2007, the two alliances were as follows:

Fianna Fail-Progressive Democrats, on a centre-right pro-market and low taxes platform.
Fine Gael-Labour-Green, on a centre-left, red-green platform.

The results were inconclusive. Neither of the two groups took a majority of the seats, due to the small number of Sinn Fein representatives who were elected but are not part of either alliance. Their links to Irish terrorism make their particular brand toxic to the other parties, meaning that they can never join the government.

After much horse-trading, the Green Party decided to join the FF-PD coalition. Does this sound like a fair system? Supporters of the FG-L-G coalition who have lent their lower preference votes to the Greens to enable their coalition to form a government have ended up propping up an administration which they opposed. Fine Gael and Labour supporters feel justly agrieved that they ended up voting against their own parties.

STV is not fair to voters. It represents a massive transfer of power from the electorate to professional politicians, who get to choose who governs regardless of voters' wishes.

STV is proportional

It is possible to argue that the above does not matter, as long as the politicians choosing the government are representative of the electorate. However, that is not always the case. During the 1990s, the Irish STV elections actually produced a less proportionate parliament than the First Past the Post system would have achieved! Yet, that pales into insignificance when compared to the Maltese experience.

At the 1981 General Election, Malta had two main parties - the Nationalist Party and the Labour Party. The Nationalist Party won 51% of the vote. Yet, Malta elected a majority Labour government.

Proportional? Absolutely not.

STV is easy to use

Scotland started using STV for municipal elections in 2007, having previously used First Past the Post. How easy did they find the new system to use? The number of ballots rejected for incorrect voting was a shocking 7%. 142,000 people had managed to spoil their ballot papers, which represented a dramatic increase from previous elections. Under First Past the Post, typical rejection rates were less than 1%.

In fact, the system would be better described as "easy to manipulate", as a well organised and resourced campaign can use tactics to manipulate the result to produce a result which is deliberately disproportionate.

All the MLAs provide local representation for their riding

Just how local is representation, when proposed ridings like "Northwest" cover 300,000 square kilometres?! The two MLAs cannot by any stretch of the imagination be described as providing local representation to such a wide areas. In fact, there would be nothing to stop both MLAs from living in one small town on the edge of the riding, meaning that the rest of the area could be ineffectively represented in the legislature. To put the area into context, the UK covers 245 sq. km and is the 79th largest country in the world, and several provinces are smaller than this one proposed riding.

Peculiarities of the proposed BC system

To make matters worse, the BC system has been designed in such a way that any proportional result would be purely coincidental. The size of the ridings varies wildly, with the sparsely populated areas (understandably) containing far fewer voters per MLA than metropolitan ridings. Of course, the same can be said of the existing First Past the Post system, but no-one is claiming that the current system is proportional.

Moreover, empirical research of existing juristictions using STV has shown that proportionality is unlikely to be achieved if there are fewer than six MLAs per riding. To achieve such a balance, BS would need to combine its three largest ridings in the north, covering approximately 700,000 sq km. If it were an independed country, it would be the 15th largest in the world, behind Saudi Arabia and ahead of Mexico with 6 or 7 MLAs. So British Columbians have a choice - local representation or proportional representation. Those who claim otherwise are either lying or simply don't understand the system.

STV as advocated for BC is a compromise that produces the absolute worst of all worlds. It is neither proportional nor does it provide local representation.

Voting coincides with the BC General Election on Tuesday. Visit the no campaign's website for more information: www.nostv.org/


Sunday, April 26, 2009

Crisis? What Crisis? History Repeats itself.

Margaret Thatcher once said "The problem with Socialists is that, eventually, they run out of everyone else's money as well." So it has proven after 12 years of Labour Government. This weeks' budget was shocking. Last year the British Government borrowed an astonishing £90bn, more than double the previous record borrowing requirement in 1993. This year they plan to borrow a further £175bn, followed by £173bn, £140bn, £119bn and £97bn over the next few years. The national debt will soar to 79% of GDP, and is independent analysts say it could take until 2050 to get back to a balanced budget. These figures don't even include the Enron-style off-balance-sheet liabilites, which could easily push the National Debt to 200% of GDP. Labour's response: let the Conservatives sort it out after next year's General Election, which seems set to return a Conservative majority.

Laughable Growth Assumptions

What is even more amazing about these horrific borrowing figures is that they are based upon wholly unrealistic expectations of economic growth. This year the government is banking on a contraction of 3.5%, followed by growth of 1.25% next year. The recession will, apparently, end this Autumn! By contrast, the IMF's figures this week forecast that the British economy will shrink by 4.1% this year and a further 0.4% next year, suggesting that borrowing could actually be far higher. From 2011, the government is forecasting a veritable golden age of economic growth - 3.5% a year, compared to 2.5% long term trend rate of growth. Whatever Alistair Darling (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) and Gordon Brown put on their cornflakes in the morning, I want some.

The government's limited response has been to propose that the public sector will grow by 0.7% a year from now on, which is a dramatic reduction from the plan last autumn for growth of 1.1%. Even that represents a marked reduction from previous years. How do they plan to achieve this reduction? They have no plans, safe in the knowledge that they won't be the government that has to sort it all out after next year! It will actually be very difficult to achieve, thanks to the massive level of off-balance sheet liabilities that this government has run up in the form of "Public Private Partnerships." These are schemes where private companies build facilities such as schools, hospitals, roads and sports centres, and the government pays them back over a period of upto 80 years. Also known as a mortgage, but not debt, according to the government. So much of the government's spending is now tied up in these schemes, that the next two generations of government will have limited options for cutting back spending.

Other than that, there will be some tax rises. Labour raising taxes? Surely not! So far, we know that petrol at the pump will rise by more than inflation every year, thanks to further increases in the already eye-watering levels of tax levied on a litre of fuel in the UK. Even after the recent decline in oil prices, the parallel drop in Sterling (around 35% agains the loony over the past year, and even more against the US$, in which oil prices are quoted) and the rise in tax have kep prices near the £1 per litre level. Of course, that's a "good tax" because it's environmentally friendly. Has Gordon Brown been taking lessons from Stephane Dione?!

Taxing Success to Fund Failure

The real message of the budget was that Labour plan to ignite a class war, by soaking the rich with new taxes. A new 50% income tax band for those earning over £150,000, the abolition of the zero-rated portion of income for those earning over about £100,000, and increase in National Insurance Contributions (Income Tax in disguise) of 0.5% and taxing pension contributions by high earners are nothing more than a con-trick. They want people to believe that the budget crisis can be solved by getting the rich to pay more, leaving the rest of us to live our lives without interference. The truth is very different. Independent analysis has suggested that the tax rises will raise little or no revenue and could actually cut tax yields, as wealth creators either flee the country for lower tax regimes like Switzerland, or pay their accountants to find new ways to avoid the taxes. The only winners are likely to be the accountants. Meanwhile, even if the well-off decided that they would keep paying over the majority of their incomes for the government to squander, the amounts of money that can be raised from the wealthiest 1% of people are limited, because there aren't many of them.

The truth is quite simple. Everyone in Britain is going to have to pay dearly for Labour's economic incompetence. And the legacy of New Labour will be generations of higher taxes and poorer services, as the government pays out more in loan interest than it does for schools or hospitals. Government borrowing is, after all, a tax on the future.

The words "Crisis? What Crisis?" were used by the press to sum up the attitude of Labour Prime Minsiter David Callahagn in the 1970s. The same sentiment is clearly recognisable in this week's budget. Both events happened one year before a General Election. In 1979, Margaret Thatcher swept to power, ushering 18 years of Conservative rule and a revolution in the British economy. Next year, David Cameron will be faced with similar challenges, as well as the collapse of Britain's moral fabric. He will need to bring about both an economic and a social revolution if his is to repair Broken Britain.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Dan Hannan on spending out of recession

Dan Hannan is one of the Conservative MEPs (Members of the European Parliament) for my old constituency of South East England. It's speeches like this that keep him firmly top of the Conservative list and keep my Euro-vote firmly in his column. The next European election is in June and any British Citizen who lives overseas but has lived in England within the past 15 years can register to vote (by proxy).

Friday, March 20, 2009

Canada's getting better and better

According to Forbes magazine's fourth annual Best Countries for Business rankings, Canada has shot up the global league table to third place, compared to seventh last year. In the current economic climate the move is particularly welcome. We should be thankful that Stephen Harper's government has been taking us in the right direction. Does anyone honestly believe that the planned Liberal-NDP-Bloc alliance would have done the same? More likely, we would have been challenging Ireland for the biggest loser slot (Ireland dropped 12 places to 14th).

Friday, February 20, 2009

Starbucks tells it straight - British Government in denial

British Trade Minister, Lord Mandelson, doesn't like the truth when it comes to the British Economy after 12 years of Labour government. He certainly didn't like what Starbucks' CEO, Howard Schultz had to say on CNBC:

"The place that concerns us the most is western Europe, and specifically the UK. The UK is in a spiral...Unemployment, the sub-prime mortgage crisis, particularly in the UK, and I think consumer confidence, particularly in the UK, is very, very poor."
Mandelson's response was impolite, to say the least. However, a look at today's economic data suggests that it may be time to ask Howard Schultz to take over the reigns of running the British Economy - at least he recognises the problems which Lord Mandelson seems so deny:

  • Government borrowing set to overshoot November's projected £77bn, already a record.
  • Zavvi, Britain's largest independent entertainment retailer which combines the renowned Virgin Megastore and Ourprice groups is to close all its remaining stores, having failed to attract a buyer after two months in administration.
  • JJB Sports' administrators are closing almost all of its Qube stores and most of its OSC shoe shops. Analysts doubt that a buyer will even be found for the remaining 32 outlets.
  • Stylo's 220 Barrets and Priceless shoe retailing chains are also closing, with 2,500 job losses. A further 165 stores and 3,000 jobs have be saved by a management buy-out.
Meanwhile, the government is mired in more and more scandals. Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, is now under investigation for embezzling £115,000 taxpayers' money by claiming that her main home is her sister's spare room, and charging the taxpayer for the cost of her mortgage on her constituency home! Not to be outdone, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling, is under fire for claiming his second home allowance to pay for his mortgage in Edinburgh - even though he is provided with a grace and favour home at 11 Downing Street, courtesy of the taxpayer. Finally, the appropriately-titled Paymaster General (and Minister for the Olympics), Tessa Jowell's husband has been imprisoned for taking US$600,000 in bribes from the Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, in return for which he lied during corruption trials.

Apparently, none sees fit to resign or faces the sack. Thankfully, Smith and Darling both represent highly marginal constituencies (Redditch and Edinburgh SW respectively), which they look set to lose at next year's election, especially given the recent opinion polls giving the Conservatives a 20% lead.

Human Wrongs

Another astonishing verdict handed down by the European Court of Human Rights. Islamic extremists with links to Al Qaeda and the hate-preaching, hook-handed, one-eyed Islamic Cleric Abu Hamza, who supported the 7/7 London bombers have been awarded substantial damages courtesy of the British taxpayer. Apparently, it was against their human rights to incacerate them for their views and connections without a trial. In the topsy-turvy world of human rights, it is of course perfectly reasonable that the rest of us have to live in fear of terrorist attrocities. How many more people have to be murdered in cold blood before the travesty of the Human Rights Act is replaced and criminals can be punished.

The ECHR has form in these cases. Previously, the British government was forced to pay the IRA damages, for shooting two known terrorists whilst on holiday in Spain because they weren't carrying guns at the time. Call me old fashioned, but I don't want the soldiers who are protecting us from mass murderers to stop to ask if terrorists are armed at that precise moment.

We can await the forthcoming verdict from The Hague with baited breath. One of the terrorists who has been awarded £2,500 is facing extradition to Jordan. He is also taking that case to the ECHR, arguing that he faces torture if he is returned to his home country. He should be sent to Israel - they know the proper way to deal with terrorists.

Little Europers strike again

So often, Europhiles decry British Eurosceptics as "Little Englanders" only interested in our little island. The truth is often rather different - many of us just recognise the EU for what it is - an attempt to block global free trade to preserve its political leaders' status as members of an exclusive club. The latest recession serves to reinforce that reality.

Despite rhetoric against Obama's protectionsist stance on steel imports, the European Union is itself taking actions to restrict free trade. Hypocritically, they have even served the WTO with notice of their intention to increase tariffs on steel imports! It doesn't end there - imports of clothes, biofuels, chemicals and screws are all on the hit list for higher import duties and/or lower quotas. To cap it all off, the EU is now subsidising exports of dairy products.

Let us remind ourselves what Labour's British Trade Minsiter and former European Commissioner for Trade recently said:

"Protectionism would be a sure-fire way of turning recession into depression."
Yet, of course, the democratically-elected British government is powerless to enact its policies without permission from the unelected European Commission. The the European Commission would rather plunge the world into the forwarned depression than lose power to China and India.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Quote of the day: Lord Tebbit



"The truth is that the BBC doesn't know that it is biased. It thinks that Guardian reading champagne socialists are the norm."


Daily Telegraph

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Lib Dem Education policy doesn't add up

This week, the British Lib Dems unveiled a new education policy. It's full of nice sounding measures, as usual. However, the funds they have announced for the plan do not come close to the actual cost.

Scrapping the Children's account, whereby the Government gives each baby £250 would have saved £172,503,250 in 2007, when there were 690,013 live births in England and Wales. Yet the cost of employing the 38,304 extra teachers required to reduce class sizes as proposed would cost £937,752,284.84 for salaries (based on the minimum starting salary of £20,627), employer pension contributions (at 14%, as required by the teachers' contract) and mandatory employer National Insurance contributions. Once London weightings and experience points are added, the cost would be even higher, even before taking into account training costs, administration and costs of advertising the posts. Thus, implementing the reduced class sizes for 5-7 year olds would require massive, unidentified cuts to other parts of the budget.

In addition, these teachers are going to need classrooms. 38,304 classrooms, in fact. According to the Department for Education and Skills, there are 482,000 vacant primary school places, a vacancy rate of 11%. A minimum of 5% of places need to be vacant to ensure that there are placees for children to move between schools when they move to a different area or need to change schools for another reason. Thus, even if the vacant classrooms are all exactly where they are needed (which is highly unlikely), the policy requires the construction of 29,540 new classrooms. A typical classroom in Peterborough, for example, costs £137,000 to build, meaning that a massive £5,247,680,000 would have to be added to schools' capital budgets.

That's before even considering the second part of the proposal - to increase spending on educating "disadvantaged" pupils to the same level as private schools. Under this plan, schools will be paid a "pupil premium" for every child in attendance who is entitled to a free school meal, at a total cost of £2,500,000,000 per year.

So, in the first five years alone, the Lib Dems are proposing to spend an additional £12,750,000,000 but have only identified £862,500,000 of funding for the scheme. Where is the other almost £12 billion going to come from? Britain is already hopelessly indebted after 12 years of Socialism, so that is not an option and the Lib Dems have already said that they plan to cut taxes.

Of course, this is all assuming that 38,304 people are sitting at home waiting to train as teachers. They aren't, which is why there is a massive shortage of teachers, particularly in key subjects like Maths, English and Science. That's why the Government runs adverts on television, in magazines and newspapers, on buses and on advertising hoardings urging people to become teachers, all at vast cost. It's also why the Government pays teachers' tuition fees back to them when they start work. The actual cost of the Lib Dem scheme would be phenomenal, and yet still it would never be achievable.

Even if the scheme was workable and affordable, I don't believe that it would make a jot of difference to underachieving childrens' academic performance. It's not just money that often leaves the less affluent children at the bottom of the class - which is why you can find children from poor backgrounds excelling, and others from very wealthy homes struggling. Often, the children who are at the bottom of the class are there because their parents do not value education, and that has rubbed off on their children. Throwing vast sums of money will not solve that problem - only the parents can do that.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Is "The One" a dipstick?

Much of the world seems to be in awe of the Obama revolution - so much so that there's a real danger that he could get away with anything, despite the long term negative repercussions for the global economy.

At the moment, Congress is pushing through legislation requiring that all new public works projects use only domestic iron and steel, in clear contravention of international trade treaties such as NAFTA and wider agreements through the old GATT agreements. This kind of protectionism is the last thing that the world's delicate economy can handle right now. Free trade has brought about much of the global economic growth that we have experienced over the past couple of decades. Allowing the best businesses to develop their industries wherever the economics make the most sense has helped to drive many prices down, improving the standard of living for all. Protectionism risks undoing all that good work and reversing those improvements. In the current economic times, it could very well be the final straw that pushes the global recession into depression. Moreover, the reduced competition is likely to bring back the demon of high inflation. Stagflation is not something that anyone should try to create, yet it seems that Obama and the Democrats are hell-bent on delivering it.

Thankfully, Stephen Harper and the Conservatives have already raised the matter with the Obama administration, and we can only hope that they will listen. The danger of this limited protection of iron and steel industries turning into a globan trade war with ever more restrictions and tariffs on international trade is very real, and the Obama administration really must sit up and take notice if it doesn't want to end the era of long term global economic growth which we have enjoyed for centuries.

To be fair, Obama isn't only picking fights with the other 192 fully regognised states. He's also fighting with free enterprise within his own country. This week, he has signed into law a whole raft of new rights for Trades Unions. I really question the wisdom of tipping the balance of power towards organised labour at a time when businesses are struggling even to exist. It seems inevitable that the new rules will result in more business failures and more job losses. Longer term, there will be fewer businesses to compete when the economy revives, meaning less choice for consumers, higher prices and lower wages for workers, who find that they have fewer potential employers competing for their services.