‘The People Have Spoken – We Are Just Not Sure What They Said’

For the first time since the Second World War, Britain is to be governed by a coalition. On Tuesday, Gordon Brown decided to break the hiatus by tendering his resignation to the Queen whilst David Cameron and Nick Clegg were still in the midst of final negotiations.

As Cameron addressed the press in front of Number 10 Downing Street, it was still unclear as to whether the Lib-Con agreement would be finalised; but, on Wednesday morning, the markets were finally buoyed as Cameron and Clegg shook hands on the steps of the prime ministerial residence.

A new government had taken shape against the background of UK unemployment passing 2.5 million – the highest since 1994 – and a staggering financial crisis.

One of biggest tasks facing the new government lays in paying-down the country’s debt – and the Liberal Democrats have shifted their position by supporting 6 billion pounds of cuts to take place this year. The Conservatives have modified their aims too, to incorporate Lib Dem policy.

Cameron and Clegg outside no 10

From next April, the first stage in increasing the personal tax allowance to £10,000 per year will come into force – providing a welcome respite for the lower paid in times of economic frugality.

Constitutional and voting reform will take place under the eyes of the new Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, and we can anticipate a referendum on the latter. In return, the Lib Dem pro European stance has been set aside for this, five-year, parliament.

The National Identity Card scheme will be scrapped; but the employee portion of Labour’s NHI increase will take place next year, countering some of the benefits of reduced taxation from the personal allowance rise.

Constitutionally, it is likely that the first Act of Parliament in the new session will be to ensure fixed term parliaments from 2015.

The next general election will take place on the first Thursday in May, 2015.

During Wednesday afternoon, it became clear that this was to be a full coalition government. Despite its limited seats, the Liberal Democrats were to be fully embedded within government departments and their subsequent roles were by no means minor. Vince Cable was given the post of Business Secretary; David Laws was appointed as Chief Secretary to the Treasury; Chris Huhne as Energy and Climate Change Secretary; and Danny Alexander became the Secretary for Scotland.

The full list of cabinet posts is as follows:-

  • Prime minister: David Cameron, 43, Conservative
  • Deputy prime minister: Nick Clegg, 43, Liberal Democrat
  • Chancellor: George Osborne, 38, Conservative
  • Home secretary: Theresa May, 53, Conservative
  • Foreign secretary: William Hague, 49, Conservative
  • Defence secretary: Liam Fox, 48, Conservative
  • Justice secretary: Kenneth Clarke, 69, Conservative
  • Health secretary: Andrew Lansley, 53, Conservative
  • Education secretary: Michael Gove, 42, Conservative
  • Business secretary: Vincent Cable, 67, Liberal Democrat
  • Chief secretary to the Treasury: David Laws, 67, Liberal Democrat
  • Work and pensions secretary: Iain Duncan Smith, 56, Conservative
  • Energy and climate change secretary: Chris Huhne, 55, Liberal Democrat
  • Local government secretary: Eric Pickles, 58, Conservative
  • Transport secretary: Philip Hammond, 55, Conservative
  • Environment secretary: Caroline Spelman, 52, Conservative
  • International development secretary: Andrew Mitchell, 54, Conservative
  • Northern Ireland secretary: Owen Paterson, 53, Conservative
  • Scotland secretary: Danny Alexander, 37, Liberal Democrat
  • Welsh secretary: Cheryl Gillan, 58, Conservative
  • Culture, media and sport secretary: Jeremy Hunt, 43, Conservative
  • Leader of the Lords: Lord Strathclyde, 50, Conservative
  • Minister without portfolio: Lady Warsi, 39, Conservative

Also attending cabinet will be the Minster for the Cabinet Office: Francis Maude, paymaster general (Conservative); the Minister of state, Cabinet Office, Oliver Letwin (Conservative); Minister of state (universities and science), David Willetts(Conservative); Leader of the Commons, Sir George Young (Conservative); and Parliamentary chief secretary to the Treasury and chief whip, Patrick McLoughlin (Conservative).

Attorney general, Dominic Grieve (Conservative) will be invited when required.

As soon as the posts had been formally declared, ministers were hurrying to their new offices, determined to get to work.

There was no such drama in Castle Point, where the Conservatives retained a comfortable majority in last Thursday’s local elections. But it did not take long for the Canvey Island Independence Party (CIIP), in the shape of Nick Harvey (leader of Canvey Island’s Town Council and Canvey Island North Ward Councillor) and Canvey Island South resident Colin Letchford to begin berating, what both see as, the lack of democracy in the borough.

Colin Letchford had apparently put pen to paper the day after this Blog published its Dave Blackwell: A Changed Man? piece. In a letter written to the Echo, and copied to this Blog, Letchford alleges that he was banned from the local elections count  – in which he had been asked to act as a teller by Harvey. He further alleges that the reason given was that he had had the gall to begin a petition for an elected mayor – and that the Swann sisters had been similarly banned for beginning the ‘Save Our Pool’ petition.

Like Liz Swann and her remarks regarding ‘it was actually told to Lea Swann by a Conservative Cabinet Councillor in front of one of Conservatives own who is above reproach,’ in the readers’ forum on this blog, Letchford provides no evidence for his allegations.

His letter is a confused patchwork of unfounded statistics and innuendo aimed at manufacturing a case for the CIIP to be represented in the borough’s cabinet. Along with CIIP members, he seems incapable of realising that the Conservatives hold a comfortable 33% majority and that they are therefore entitled to none. He argues that 94% of islanders are unrepresented in cabinet; but that figure is totally discredited. The fact is that 48.6% of island residents, whom took part in the last local election, are not represented by their newly elected councillors – and that the CIIP has no firm mandate because, on a proportional basis, they only have the slimmest of majorities (just 469 votes across the whole of the island – representing only 2.7%).

Letchford is keen to take the opportunity for promoting his petition for an elected mayor; but it transpired in our discussion that the true purpose behind it is not to provide residents with the opportunity of electing a charismatic council leader. Letchford states that the purpose behind his petition to have an elected mayor is because: ‘The mayor chooses the cabinet members.’

As already pointed-out on this Blog, Letchford’s petition is simply another means by which the CIIP hopes to infiltrate the policy making body of Castle Point Borough Council – and provide a lucrative post for its main sponsor.

And Letchford, it seems, is also unable to understand that, even if Spink were elected as mayor, and he were to fill the eight cabinet positions with CIIP colleagues, that there would still be no change in the balance of power. If mainlanders voted in the same way as now, they would still retain their majority. Consequently they would hold a majority on the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, as they do now, and be in a position to call-in every cabinet decision and refer it to full council – where it could be easily defeated.

Spink: "I've been here before. Maybe I'll be here again..."

But Spink is not that disorganised. He knows that, with his media savvy and increased profile, a position as elected mayor would provide him with a platform that could be used to his advantage. And again it is the far-left protest strategy that will be employed. Despite it being the majority whom would defeat his ambitions in the chamber, Spink would continue to call ‘foul’ and point to the Conservatives as continually blocking him.

Same old, same old. And the borough and this island would continue to stagnate while Spink and his colleagues played their political games (while lining their pockets with taxpayer funds and enjoying civil benefits).

Is this all about island independence from Castle Point? Well, if it is, Blackwell and his colleagues are not saying anything. Just as they have never made clear their position on any other matter. If it is, then residents have a right to know just how much separation will cost them. A rough estimate, at the present time, is that islanders’ Council Tax would soar three-fold.

But if it were about island independence, why do the CIIP not stand on the mainland and provide all residents with the opportunity of voting for separation? That way they could democratically achieve a majority with which to pass such a resolution.

The answer is that it would not create a power-base for Spink’s own Independent Save Our Green Belt Party – and his and Blackwell’s ambitions to be Lords of their purposely divided manors would not be fulfilled…

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Divided Britain – Divided Borough

State of the parties

AS THE STOCK EXCHANGE FALTERS and the pound falls in the wake of a hung parliament, the electorate is coming to terms with a future that is bleak.

Thursday’s elections saw no outright winner; no clear leader to steer us out of our financial crisis; and no clear plan to unite the nation in its time of need.

Brown hid the nation’s books from the opposition; Cameron adopted a mantle of economic prudence; and Clegg cursed both his opponents’ houses. The electorate grudgingly gave Cameron a preference vote; but withheld their full support.

As predicted in this blog, the 2010 election result was not based upon party or financial policy. The public were less concerned with economics (for which no party had firm plans) and more about the state of British politics. The majority were not about to cast a vote of confidence for any politician. Their only aim was to vote against the hypocrites and fraudsters that the Telegraph had exposed within its pages.

As the results were made known, parliamentary fraudsters fell like nine-pins as constituents voted to oust them – and a whole new political landscape was formed, which pollsters had been accurately predicting: a hung parliament.

Thursday night and Friday morning were one helluva night for Democracy, with UKIP and the BNP being comprehensively rejected.

In Castle Point, Bob Spink felt the weight of public outrage and anger. Thirty percent of voters decided to stay at home; but sufficient numbers decided that enough was enough and dispensed a resounding beating.

Locally, the Independent Save Our Green Belt party could not muster the protest vote against the main parties, which they had wished for. Their association with Spink had been their undoing; but, on the Island, matters were different. Knowing full well that the Canvey Island Independence Party could never form a majority, islanders decided to bloody both main parties’ nose and happily vote CIIP.

Do not for one moment think that islanders have given you a firm mandate, Dave. Your party is being used to send a message.

The only way you will retain the Town Council, and your borough seat, is to show how you can work with the Tories to manage the financial crisis.

Protests will no longer cut it…

Bye, Bye, Bob – Hello, Rebecca

CASTLE POINT RESIDENTS struck a blow for Democracy this morning, just before 2:00am. Rebecca Harris was elected as the borough’s new MP with a convincing majority of 7,632 over her rival, Bob Spink.

The full results were as follows:-

  • Rebecca Harris (Conservative): 19,806
  • Bob Spink  (Independent): 12,174
  • Julian Ware-Lane (Labour): 6,609
  • Brendan D’Cruz (Liberal Democrat):  4,232
  • Philip Howell (British National Party): 2,205

… (07/05/2010) – Canvey Island Votes For Independence

… (Ted Pugh, 25/05/2010) – A New Political Era For The Country – But The Same Old, Same Old For Canvey

Two Different Campaigns

Candidates sharing a Web platform with Spink

I USED TO THINK that elections were all about selecting a candidate whose views most closely matched one’s own. Bob Spink, I am sure, would be one of the first to agree with me; because, throughout his political career he has done everything he can to represent himself as supporting whatever public position has made headlines in the press. But Bob is a media whore: he is not a conviction politician. His only objective in life is to create a safe parliamentary seat for himself from where he can indulge his egotistical fantasies and enjoy a taxpayer funded lifestyle. This was never more evident than in his latest statement (broadcast by Southend Radio) that a hung parliament would give him even more power, if elected, to put a stop to immigration; withdraw from the European Union; and deal with MPs’ expenses. Poor Bob remains oblivious to the fact that he has no influence in parliament; would not be called upon by any party to present his opinions – and would continue to be a subject of ridicule by his fellow MPs.

As the inset list of present members shows, even the Election Book domain failed to recruit any serious parliamentary candidates once Bob Spink had signed-up to use their facilities.

But, while ‘Spink-the-Spiv’ does his best to convince residents that he represents their views, neither his Canvey Island Independence Party  or Independent Save Our Green Belt party makes any such claims. Residents are given no idea of where either party stands on local or national issues. It seems that the CIIP is content to rely on a simple position statement: that they are against anything proposed by a borough majority; they are against anything that a Conservative or Labour majority might propose; and are totally against the mainland. They paint the Conservatives as liars; Labour as ‘only coming out at election time;’ and continue to focus on Canvey Island’s tidal pool without once mentioning what they intend to do about it (despite being in talks to take-over its management).

During its last session, Castle Point Borough Council had been preparing itself for up to a ten percent reduction in the funds supplied to it by government. But, the fact is, the state of the country’s finances is so dire that, whomever is elected, will see that cut rise to some twenty-five percent.

While the Conservative-led Borough Council has been managing its finances responsibly, preparing for bad times ahead, the CIIP majority on the Town Council will be spending twice its annual precept this year. On what we have yet to discover. All we can be certain of, at this time, is that: this is an election year.

Such is the competence of the CIIP that they would direct precious resources, at this time, to planting shrubs; planting trees; erecting lamp-posts to hold hanging baskets; acquiring high-street planters and displaying plaques promoting the Town Council. Residents’ money has been spent on cosmetics – and not one penny towards ensuring the safety of Canvey’s tidal pool; improving island playground facilities or centres for the island’s youth. Furthermore, when local charities or organisations apply for a grant addressing such matters: they are dismissed with a paltry cheque for £100.

‘THEY [the majority] MAKE PROMISES, WRITE WISH LISTS, BUT ULTIMATELY THEY GIVE US NOTHING’ proclaims the CIIP’s election leaflets. No mention is made of the new Adizone in Kismet Park; the Bumble Bee statue; the opening of Canvey’s West Marshes to the public; improvements to Waterside Leisure Centre or the Paddocks’ improvements and new Health Centre. And no mention of the complete makeover planned for Canvey Town Centre, which the CIIP accuse the council of leaving ‘to die.’

Unlike Spink, the CIIP does not actually lie in its election leaflets: it just omits telling the truth…

The Hard Choice Facing You In The General Election

FOR THE FIRST TIME in British politics, the electorate have been given the chance to witness their next potential Prime Ministers take part in a live TV debate. And, if nothing else, those events have made clear that there are only three parties that have any hope of achieving a mandate to lead this country out of its desperate financial crisis.

The choice facing us all at the general election is clear: it is between the three main parties. The likes of the BNP, and the Independent Save Our Green Belt Party, only offer an opportunity to register a negative protest vote and, moreover, neither of those candidates – or their respective political parties – offer any solutions to the difficulties facing this country and their consequent effects upon this borough.

Whoever wins the next election will be forced to introduce severe austerity measures. Measures far tougher than those introduced following previous recessions – because the UK’s finances have never been in a worse position.

There is only one question facing us all at this election: ‘Whom do you trust to make the best of a bad situation?’

This is not an election in which to cast a vote for uncertainty. If we are to navigate our way out of this crisis: we will need a government that has a clear mandate to act on our behalf. As much as many may like to see a hung parliament and send a clear message to politicians in the wake of the expenses scandal, a coalition or minority government will only hinder the type of decisive action needed to alleviate the situation.

None of the party leaders are providing a detailed economic policy in this election campaign. The Labour party could – because it holds the country’s books that contain full details of the situation; but they have chosen not to reveal those details to the opposition. The fact is that, releasing that information, would lead to widespread panic in the markets and a fatal run on the pound – the likes of which Greece is currently experiencing. But the main reason why Labour is not releasing the figures is because it knows it would stand no chance of winning the election were they to be published.

We can argue all day as to whether Labour is to blame for the current state of affairs, or if it is all due to the collapse of the sub-prime market; but it brings us no closer to solving the problem. Britain’s current situation is like that of a family which has exhausted its cash and bank accounts to rely entirely on credit-card spending to pay for essential food – whilst still maintaining their expenditure on entertainment and luxuries.

When the family runs-out of credit, they will have no choice but to beg from family and friends to bail them out. And the first action that will need to be made by any new PM is to ask the International Monetary Fund for help.

Two more crises are rapidly approaching for which the country has no funds left. The first is the impact of the Greek crisis on Europe and the knock-on effects it will have on Britain. The other is the second mortgage credit crunch that will send house prices into a tailspin from the beginning of next year.

Britannia’s ship is already holed below the water-line – and the two approaching waves will combine to produce another tsunami.

Whom you vote for in this election is likely to be largely decided by where you stand upon an appropriate strategy for the financial crisis.

Labour’s strategy is to do nothing until next year. It believes that making cuts now would remove precious funds from the economy, which could then lead to a double-dip recession. It proposes to continue nursing the economy this year and postpone cuts – along with a National Insurance hike – to next year. The strategy is equivalent to our example family continuing their profligate spending – and putting their tenant’s rent up to help compensate.

The Conservative strategy is to implement a limited package of cuts immediately, with a view to reducing the National Insurance hike due next year and provide more help to business. They argue that increasing National Insurance is a ‘tax on jobs’ that will hinder any economic recovery we may see in 2011. It is equivalent to having our hypothetical family cut-back on unnecessary expenditure and leave their tenant’s rent alone to ensure he does not leave.

The Liberal Democrats propose to introduce a fairer tax system which would mean that the first £10,000 of an individual’s income would be tax-free. To fund it they would look to cutting back on large capital projects and doing away with the UK’s nuclear Trident deterrent. The Lib Dem family would renege on sprucing-up the tenant’s accommodation and cancel their insurance policies to help stretch their income.

None of the above strategies provide a solution; but they do permit voters to judge the type of government that might be expected by electing  a particular party.

The Labour strategy is for more of the same laisez faire policies, which, it could be argued, are the main cause of our current position. The party continues to rely upon optimistic forecasts of the economy as a reason for doing nothing – just as our Labour family chooses to do nothing in the belief that their incomes will rise. During this recession, every forecast that the Labour government made for the economy was revised downwards.

Labour could be right. The economy may be returning to growth; but what if it is not? And their do-nothing strategy does not take into account the 2011 tsunami that will be breaking upon our shores.

The Conservative strategy indicates a government determined to take control of the situation and begin paying-down the country’s debt. It is the only strategy, amongst all political parties, that recognises the importance of planning for the unforeseen. Moreover, it is the only strategy that recognises the intimate connection between swingeing cuts, unemployment, and the necessity to ensure employers can afford to take-on staff. It also suggests a government that is prepared to be autocratic to deal with the situation it is faced with.

The Liberal Democrat strategy does not appear to be a real strategy at all. Instead it appears to be a promise of ‘committee’ driven, intellectual, government, which is mainly concerned with tinkering around with current legislation to produce a more equitable society. Such ambitions may be laudable; but they do not address the fundamental problem that this country now faces. It suggests a government that would spend most of its time discussing various options – rather than getting things done.

While Rebecca Focuses On Local Issues, The Echo Gives Its Front Page To Bob

THIS YEAR’S GENERAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN is likely to be remembered by residents as that in which the main party candidates struggled to have their messages heard above Spink’s clamour for attention from the local press.

On Tuesday, the Echo duly obliged – choosing to ignore a national perspective on its Save Canvey Pool campaign that the Conservative candidate, Rebecca Harris, had provided the previous day.

While Rebecca was explaining to the Shadow Justice Secretary, Dominic Grieve, how fears over excessive Health and Safely legislation – and the growing compensation culture – had threatened the future of one of Canvey’s tidal pools; Gail Boland, Spink’s partner, was on the phone to the local police demanding that they arrest Bill Sharp over a ‘public order offence.’

It seems that Bill Sharp had waived an A3 poster of the Conservative candidate at Bob and Gail when they drove past him in their ‘battle-bus’ (proclaiming Bob Spink as an independent) on Sunday.

The two conspirators must have thought long and hard about using the incident when they returned home that night – and made their decision to get the police involved the following morning.

It appears that, to Spink and Boland, waiving Rebecca’s campaign poster at them is equivalent to a traditional English bowman’s salute, which I, and many other residents, may have performed in similar circumstances.

Of course, the Echo had a duty to report the incident – and had they had time they might also have considered the other point that Rebecca was making about a Conservative government: that it would bring an end to the culture of excessive litigation, while, at the same time, giving legal safeguards to those who really need them. But the appropriateness of her remark was apparently lost upon them as they devoted their whole front page, and a page-two column, to their ‘Tory’s arrest after spat with Spink’ leader.

On Wednesday, Sarah Calkin (an Echo staff reporter) decided to take-up space at the top of page-five to throw her own support behind Spink.

Casting around for a theme, she chose to report on UKIP’s support-ad for Spink in the Southend Standard. Bob could not have wished for more. UKIP had paid for the Standard’s advert – and now Calkin was reiterating its statements here (for nothing). She was even good enough to quote him in one of his biggest lies. (Can you spot it?.. Oh, no… There’s another one… Better make it: can you spot them?).

One thing is for sure, Bob Spink is spending a lot of money on his campaign. Unless I have been singled-out for special attention, his campaign literature was delivered to me by second-class post in a white Christmas-card envelope. (All my other candidate literature has been painstakingly delivered by hand to save on costs).

Is there a story here? His glossy A4 literature, which neither the Tories or Labour can match, certainly contains some whoppers – so perhaps he has no choice but to keep the envelopes’ contents concealed from postmen. But I particularly like the way in which he continues to promote his endorsement by John Mann MP.

Peas and a single pod come to mind…

47 UK Candidates Endorsed By Martin Bell’s Independent Network

SOME RESIDENTS wishing to cast their votes for an independent parliamentary candidate in this year’s elections may still be under the illusion that Bob Spink is a valid independent candidate. However, the fact is he has not been endorsed by the Independent Network, an organisation set-up by Martin Bell to vet all independent candidates on the public’s behalf.

Endorsement applications closed on Tuesday, 13th April, and a full list of the independent candidates standing in this year’s parliamentary elections are now available on the organisation’s Website.