Friday, April 30, 2010

3 Debates - One Clear Winner!

After four and a half hours of televised political debate by the leaders of the three main parties, I must confess, it was more appealing than I first thought.

I am not sure I learnt anything I did not already know and no-one would admit the scale of the hardships we are about to experience in getting the country back on the right financial track, but to me, last nights final debate showed a clear winner - the excellent David Dimbleby.

He was streets ahead of the other two who refereed the earlier showdowns!

DD for PM!

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

My Election Letterboxomiter No 2


Forget the fancy graphs, forget the animating graphics, the only true way of judging what is happening in this election, is to monitor what falls through your letterbox.

This latest update to My Letterboxomiter, reveals all the clutter to fall onto my doormat in the last week has been from one party: The Conservatives.

In the last seven days, I have had:

Conservatives - 2 leaflet drops and one personalised letter

Labour - Absolutely nothing since the first week

Lid Dems - Absolutely nothing at all despite the local candidate promising information would arrive in the middle of last week.

Others - nothing at all (unless they are now selling pizzas that is!)

This result just goes to show the Conservatives are taking things very seriously; The Lib Dems have no organisational ability at all and are therefore not ready to be in government and Labour have either given up or have gone for a long sleep!

As for everyone's use of 21st Century technology.....don't even go there!

One word sums it up - Pathetic!

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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Cutting Through UK Nuclear Deterrent With A Knife!

gone nuclear.jpg

One of the headline grabbing arguments between the leaders of the three main political parties in this election has been the subject of our nuclear deterrent.

While the Liberal Democrats have been very vocal in saying it should be scrapped, both Labour and the Conservatives accuse Nick Clegg, the Lib Dem leader, of being naive.

Sadly, though, they are all right.

We are about to invest billions of pounds into the renewal of a weapons system, which will hopefully never be used, when that money could be filling a large part of the financial hole, from which, we are trying to escape.

A nuclear weapons industry should never have been conceived. It is a technology that could have been harnessed for the good of all and not the destruction of a select few. It has split the world into those countries that 'have' and those that 'have not'. Sadly though, it was not only conceived; it was used.

Of course, those that 'have' justify their position by arguing it is a deterrent and we must maintain it because we are living in an age of terrorism and growing radicalism throughout the world.

The likes of Nick Clegg, they argue, are being naive in thinking otherwise. Unfortunately, I think they are probably right, although before they become too smug, it is worth pointing out the irony in their argument using a domestic parallel example.

The increase in knife crime in the UK has been rising steadily over the last few years with many teenagers losing their lives as a result. One of the arguments they use for being 'tooled up' with knives is that they carry them as a deterrent, in case of attack.

Have you spotted the irony?

Our authorities argue forcibly against such logic and say you are more likely to suffer as a result of carrying a knife.

So, how is it our politicians cannot see the same logic applies to having a nuclear deterrent?

It seems there will be no clear winners in this debate and the cost could, ultimately, be far more than we are prepared to pay!

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Saturday, April 24, 2010

A Vote To Restore Democracy - Not Lunacy!

“The mood of the country is that Mr Brown deserves to lose, but that Mr Cameron doesn’t deserve to win."
The best summary of the present situation, in this election, from the mouth of Lord Paddy Ashdown, former leader of the Liberal Democrats.

We should remember that none of the parties have all of the answers and all of them have some good answers so....what the hell would be so wrong with a hung parliament?

In business, deals and compromise are the order of the day. We are experiencing this mess now because we have been living under one party governments, with huge majorities, who thought they were no longer accountable to the electorate, for the past thirty years.

The classic 'God complex'

Legislation has been bulldozed through the Commons, with no meaningful debate and no thought to the consequences, or the long term cost to the nation.

Democracy is not just about voting parties into power, it is about how they handle the process of government once they are in power.

The lunatics have been running the asylum; now is the time to reign them all back in!

But, we should remember before we cast our vote, this basic concept of a democratic society:

Politicians are supposed to be the servants of the people; we are not supposed to be the servants of politicians!

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The Man With Two Faces!

In an operation lasting 24hrs and taking a team of 30 medical staff, a Spanish man has been given a new face in a Barcelona hospital.

Having lost his original features in an accident, he has now been given a complete new face including teeth, nose, cheekbones and skin.

I refrain from imagining what will happen in the event he gets a fit of sneezing, but it has now effectively buried the old 'put down' line "You can't be two faced or you wouldn't wear that one all the time"

Yet another nail goes into the coffin of cheap gags!

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Not Very Sweet To Sir Alan Sugar!

alan sugar.jpg

My favourite quote of today, was heard during a seminar at the Kent 2020 Vision business event in Maidstone this afternoon.

During a seminar on being an entrepreneur, ex The Apprentice contestant, Paula Jones, described her stoney faced television 'boss' Sir Alan Sugar by saying:
"He's quite offensive but indescriminately so"

I was not quite sure whether it was a compliment or an insult but it made me laugh anyway!

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Good News, Bad News - The Planes Are Flying Again!

Finally, the planes are back in the air!

Whether this is good news, or bad news, is a matter of debate.

For those living under the flightpaths of the UK’s airports, or in towns threatened by the building of new runways, or concerned about the impact flights have on our environment, it will be bad.

Others, though, who are able to conveniently ignore such matters, will see it as good news. They have the freedom to travel wherever they like, whenever they like, returned to them once again.

We will be able to import ‘out of season’ foodstuffs directly into the supermarkets, allowing us to create those often exotic and ‘trendy’ recipes all year round.

Countries like Kenya, for whom 20 percent of their gross GDP is accounted for by the export and transportation of horticultural products, will breathe a sigh of relief once again.

A few things are certain though:

The political fallout could be far more devastating than the threat from the volcanic ash we were told to fear.

Stranded passengers are going to have huge mobile phone bills.

International lawyers are going to gather massive income from litigation against airlines and regulators - for possibly years to come.

The concept of ‘knee jerk’ health and safety shutdowns, based on inadequate information and evaluation, will be more closely examined in the future.

Personally, though, I enjoyed a peaceful few days!!

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The BBC And Its License For Abuse!

I am almost starting to feel sorry for the MPs who were exposed for making excessive use of their expenses.

They have been vilified by the media (quite rightly) and the BBC have been particularly diligent in scrutinising and exposing every claim made.

Today, though, it appears to be a case of ‘pots and kettles’.

The news has broken that three BBC executives managed to claim over £12,650 in taxi fares during a three month period. One managed to blow £675 over two days alone, which makes those duck houses and pork pies claimed by MPs seem like an act of thrift.

A BBC spokesperson (for they have to be politically correct) has said that taxis are the most efficient way of conducting business en route and said of one of the claimants she.....

“ incredibly busy, so she has to use her time as efficiently as possible.”
"Whenever she is travelling to meetings, she will schedule in a number of business calls to make the best use of this travel time. Because of the confidential nature of these discussions, it is not possible to hold them in public."

What a load of old cock! Presumably, they are so confidential they even request drivers who are deaf mutes too!

Thousands of people have the same requirements in their business lives each day, but they manage to use more economically sound ways of being successful. They travel with us ‘common people’ and still manage to get by.

What really irritates me, though, is they are using our ‘common people’ money - through the license fee - to pay for their inflated sense of importance.

Maybe it is time the BBC faced an independent audit after all!

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Monday, April 19, 2010

Eruption And Disruption - It's 'Plane' Crazy!

So who really is running the asylum?

Six days after our planes were grounded, airports are still closed and an estimated 150,000 UK travellers are stranded abroad, unable to get home.

The cause, as we all know by now, is an erupting volcano in Iceland.

I am finding it really hard to comprehend that such chaos has been caused by one relatively small natural occurrence and it seems I am not alone.

Yesterday, Willie Walsh the CEO of British Airways flew on one of his planes to test whether any damage would really be caused by the dust cloud i.e. is the situation really as dangerous as we are being led to believe?

He returned in one piece - I am sure much to the annoyance of many of his recently striking cabin crews - convinced the disruption to air travel and his company's revenues was not justified.

Which brings me back to the original question: who is responsible for making the initial decision?

It seems it was not made by our own government but taken somewhere in Europe where, as we all know, they are true professionals in inventing silly rules and regulations.

But this is not a piece of stupidity about the straightness of a banana, it is far more disruptive and for many, financially disastrous.

The contradictory updates have been almost a work of farce: Scotland and Northern Ireland can fly now.... oh no they can't....all airports will open tomorrow.....oh no they won't ....but they might..... errrr not... etc. etc.

I guess, in one sense, the regulators and health and safety obsessives can claim a massive success; no planes will come crashing out of the skies as they haven't been able to leave the ground in the first place - it's the equivalent of making sure there are no motoring accidents by removing the wheels from cars!

If this decision was taken in Brussels, then it should not be too long before UKIP start spouting on about being a classic example of what our future has in store as part of a United States Of Europe!

Personally, I would rather take my chances with the volcano!

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Sunday, April 18, 2010

My Election Letterboxomiter

After the first 2 weeks of campaigning, an update on how overworked my letterbox has been:

Conservative 2 leaflets
Labour 1 leaflet
Others must do better...nothing at all.

The Conservatives also seem to have most of the election boards by the roadside so well done them!

Next week it could all change!

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Why Are Political Candidates So Crap With Social Media?

There seems a certain irony when our politicians have been pushing for a faster internet and Gordon Brown is claiming "in five years time we can be the digital leader of the world" that very few of them seem to know how to make use of it.

This election is the first when all the possibilities of social networking could have been used to great advantage, but it seems they haven't because few of the campaigning candidates know how to use it properly.

Oh sure, many have the necessary Facebook page or a blog, or a Twitter account but they seem to be tokenistic and set up with no understanding of how they can and should be leveraged to gain maximum advantage.

Of my three main local candidates, the Conservative has a website with links to a blog which has not been updated since April 4th, a link to his campaign trail information which has not been updated since April 16th and a news page which was last updated April 4th. He does not appear to have Facebook. He has, however, had two leaflet drops so far.

My Lib Dem candidate has Twitter (last update yesterday) does not seem to have a webpage and has a blog which was last updated today (but four days before that).

As for Labour, I think there is a support group on Facebook but I have no idea about any other methods - which I find very surprising as her retiring predecessor, Derek Wyatt, was way ahead of many politicians in his use of the internet and distributing information. (I have already written about my difficulty in getting any information about her though)

We are living in a communication age where attention spans are becoming very short. If the message is not continually fired out to people, they forget and move somewhere else.

It is not difficult to keep your name in the forefront of people's minds nowadays. A simple Twitter posting does not take much time and gives an insight into the type of person you are. However, while it may be tempting to use it to attack the opposition it is far better to put a more positive, alternative view and let the reader make their own mind up.

Communication on the internet is cheap, so the time taken to maintain contact with your intended audience is just that - time.

How may candidates are gathering email addresses while campaigning so they can follow up with an email newsletter to keep people updated on their progress and views?

Communicating using social networking is the classic snowball scenario - you start with a small handful, roll it down a hill and as the momentum picks up, the snowball becomes huge.

Time for our would be MPs to start rolling the ball.....or get someone to do it for them.

It's a no loss, small cost, gigantic advantage!

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The Most Entertaining Manifesto So Far - It Rocks!

At the start of week three of the election campaigning (has it really only been two weeks so far?) there is a risk we are all becoming a little jaded.

Here is one party who's campaigns never fail to cheer me up:

I bet you'll be humming, or whistling the tune all day, although somehow I don't think we'll be seeing the Monster Raving Loony Party interviewed by Paxman on Newsnight!

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Saturday, April 17, 2010

If Only All Election Candidates Were As Good....!

To borrow a catchphrase from the 'old school' entertainer, Max Bygraves:

"I wanna tell you a story"
(those under the age of 45 should click the link! LOL)

On the day of the Liberal Democrats manifesto launch, I wrote a post about party leader, Nick Clegg and how I was impressed by what he had said and the way he had presented the party.

The following morning, I received a written comment from Keith Nevols thanking me for the kind words and introducing himself as my local Lib Dem candidate.

I could not resist the opportunity to have an impish dig at the fact I had not had any election literature from him and that he was a full week behind both the Conservatives and Labour.

Within two hours, he replied, telling me he had contacted the Lib Dem regional office and his literature would be delivered to my house in the next few days. He also promised to email me an electronic copy of the flyer he was using while canvassing. He apologised for not having been to my area yet and provided contact details should I need to ask him something specific.

That evening was the live TV leader's debate and Nick Clegg, the Lib Dem leader, did very well.

At quarter to midnight I received an email with the promised literature from Keith.

Now that is the kind of service we should all be getting from those who are campaigning in this election. Keith has shown he listens, he cares and he keeps his word.

Well done and thank you Keith....I owe you one!!

If all Lib Dems are as proactive as my local candidate, they deserve a chance at the top table.

I hope Keith will have the success to be able to use another of Mr Bygraves catchphrases on May 6th:
"I've arrived - and to prove it, I'm here!"

To read Keith's blog click here.

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Friday, April 16, 2010

Grounded Flights - Volcano or Conspiracy?


It seems unbelievable that almost every flight in and out of the UK has been grounded since midday yesterday.

According to the air traffic control body, Nats, flights will not be able to resume until at least 1300hrs tomorrow.

Apparently, the groundings are because of the danger of engine failure in the event planes fly into the path of dust from the ash of the volcano that erupted in Iceland last week.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been stranded both in the UK and abroad and many have have not been covered against financial loss by their insurance because of the 'act of God' clause in most policies.

I do not remember a single occasion in my lifetime when air travel has been totally suspended before; even after the 9/11 attacks, international flights to countries other than the US were not affected to this extent.

Of course, when things like this happen, conspiracy theories start to ferment. It seems this case is no exception, as even the nice woman controlling the checkout in my local Asda tonight, expressed the view that there 'must be more to it' and we were being kept in the dark by the government (which does not say a lot about our faith in our leaders).

It doesn't help when we hear that certain flights from Scotland and Ireland have now been allowed to resume. Iceland is nearer to both of those countries than either here or mainland Europe, so if they are out of danger, the cloud must already have passed over or missed them altogether.

If that is the case then why have we not been hit in the South yet? How come it is taking so long to drift the relatively short distance from Scotland down onto England?

Could there really be something more sinister going on?

So many questions without any answers but as they say in The X Files....The Truth Is Out There!

Update: Since writing this post on Friday, the restrictions on flights from Scotland and Northern Ireland have been re-imposed. Maybe they read my post LOL

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Clegg Has The Best Line Of The Night!

The best quote to come out of the live Leaders debate tonight, came from the man whom the immediate polls have declared as the winner of the night - Nick Clegg.

Referring to his two fellow debaters, Gordon Brown and David Cameron, he said:
“The more they attack each other the more they sound the same”

He was right.

It will be interesting to read whether the papers agree tomorrow - whatever their political affiliation!

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TV Or Not TV That Is The Question - In This Election At Least!

Today, we are all invited to take part in a bit of history making, for it is the day that the leaders of the three biggest political parties engage in a live televised election debate - a first for this country.

Of course, it is not going to be a real ‘debate’ as the ground rules have been heavily negotiated and all three men have been rehearsed over and over again.

All of the questions from the audience have been vetted and no-one watching the event is allowed to show any emotion in response to any of the answers given.

It will not be the real leaders we will be seeing here; it will be the characters they want us to believe are real.

In fact, it will be no different from watching an episode of our favourite soap - except the storyline will have far more reaching consequences and will not be as funny.

Sadly, TV influences us more by what people look like and not by what they can do or say. We form impressions from seeing body language and afflictions. For that reason, it might have been better if the debates had been on the radio but....we are in the TV age and we have become programmed (no joke intended) to believe what we see is the truth.

Tonight is a gamble for all the party leaders but one thing I can guarantee....Britain’s Got Talent it won’t be!

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Liberal Democrats - The 'Lifeboat' In A Sea Of Falsehood?

Monday was the turn of Labour, yesterday was the Conservatives and today the focus was on what the Liberal Democrats would do for the country should they gain control of Parliament after the election.

Leader Nick Clegg described his manifesto as:

"... hope married to credibility, it is optimism in touch with reality."

and you know what? he could well be the first party leader to be telling the truth; it is not half bad!

Whether the sums add up or not (as his rivals have been quick to claim), he and his deputy Vince Cable have not shied away from admitting there is a very strong possibility taxes will have to rise - but fairly. He described the manifestos of his rivals thus:

"They are treating people like fools, imagining that manifestos barely fit for a time of plenty are good enough for a time when money is tight."

What was most noticeable, today, was that the venue for his own manifesto launch was not from a gimmicky location like Battersea but from the heart of the City of London.

What better location could you pick to send a message about financial reforms?

I liked the honesty and I like the way Nick Clegg is suddenly gaining credibility.

Just when I thought I would have trouble knowing who to vote for, I now have at least a glimmer of hope.

The time might finally have arrived when the Lib Dems stop being regarded as just a protest vote

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Conservatives, 'Borrowing' Lib Dem Ideas And The Gay Vote!

I was surprised to see George Osborne’s plan to tackle homophophic bullying in schools promoted so willingly by the press last Sunday.

It also features prominently on the front page of the Conservative Party website.

Unfortunately for him, though, I remembered posting about an almost identical plan put forward by the Lib Dem’s Nick Clegg back in January.

Surely the Conservatives can’t be getting so desperate to catch the extra votes the gay community could provide, that they need to re-package something already proposed by a rival party? It seems so.

My views on the proposal have not changed since January, so fortunately, you can read the old post here and just switch the names!

It seems that is what Mr Osborne has already tried to do!

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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Cameron's Hollow Conservatives!

CLB Battersea.jpg

David Cameron's choice of venue for the launch of his party's election manifesto, this morning, struck me as being a strange one, until I realised that Battersea Power Station has an immensely impressive facade but very little on the inside. Do you see the irony?

Just like the Conservative party, it is struggling to convince anyone it is worth the investment and will return a long term benefit.

Cameron's headline grabbing idea of community ownership sounds very impressive in the media but he has forgotten one little thing; most of the electorate suffer from total apathy and are as likely to participate in the running of councils and hospitals as they are to give up their high definition televisions.

Sadly, he seems yet to realise that real life is not like an episode from Eastenders and we are increasingly made up from divided communities who could never agree about anything.

As many scientists have found out - theory is a wonderful thing until it becomes reality!

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Monday, April 12, 2010

Political Leaders Trying To Sell Us Bankrupt Stock!

This week will see the launch of manifestos from all the main political parties. They will set out their ‘shops’ hoping to convince us to walk through their doors and buy their promises.

Sadly, they all have one thing in common; they have nothing to sell!

Oh sure, they will try and convince us we are purchasing some quality goods but the fact is...they are all broke! We as a nation are broke. If we were actually a high street chain we would have been formally declared bankrupt a long time ago.

Whatever your personal views on how we have borrowed our way both into and out of the recession, we now have to start paying it back and it is going to be painful.

So today, Gordon Brown has announced a list of ‘non-measures’ trying to sell the idea we are going to have more control under Labour and we will all feel better off. He seems to think we suffer from memory loss and have erased the broken promises from the last two elections made when they really did have something to give us - but they failed.

Today's promise of no rise in income tax is just a distraction. He has not made the same promise about VAT. All of us, whether employed or jobless is affected by that tax. It is collected on nearly everything we need to live. Raising the percentage of VAT we have to pay will provide easy money for the treasury and help to cover up the deficit this government has created.

There is no magic ‘get out of jail’ card to reverse the situation we are in and whoever gets the keys to No.10 will be facing the same indesputible facts.

Tomorrow it will be the turn of David Cameron and his Conservatives (he likes it to be portrayed as HIS party).

Just like in an episode of Dragon’s Den, he is going to have a hard time to convince us, the panel, he has a product worthy of investment!

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Sunday, April 11, 2010

Pubs, Politicians And The Benefits Of Global Warming

If there is one group of people who must relish the prospect of global warming, it is that of those who work in the pub trade.

They have been hit really hard over the last few years with unfair competition from the undercutting supermarkets and customers reducing their spending during the recession. Many pubs have simply gone to the wall, while others have had to diversify into new areas of the hospitality business.

What the above picture proves, however, is there's life in the old dog yet and once we feel a bit of warmth from the sun, we are prepared to venture out of our caves and be both generous and sociable.

I would bet our politicians are hoping that the weather is fine on May 6th and our mood is just as relaxed and generous!

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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Labour's 'Woman Of Substance'

Well, I have finally discovered who is standing for Labour as their chosen candidate to replace Derek Wyatt at the polls on May 6th.

The above info was lying on my doormat yesterday evening.

Apparently, Angela Harrison is a 'Woman of real Substance, real Achievement and NO SPIN'

That seems to be a bit of a tall claim seeing as she represents a party that has relied on spin since Tony Blair became its leader in it's present form.

As for real substance and achievement, I am not sure it is valid when she has not even been elected yet.

Of course, the leaflet spells out the usual things she will be doing to help the local community and of course they are so generalised as not to be held to account should they not happen but what I want to know is: who is Angela Harrison?

Surprisingly, for what amounts to a professional CV there is not one item of information about the woman herself.

Does she like stroking furry animals? Can she eat a doughnut without licking her lips? Has she ever been convicted of skateboarding naked along the High Street? Does she share her predecessor's liking of pork pies and scotch eggs?

These are the things I need to know about my local MP.

The point I am making, is that I am not stupid enough to vote for someone just because they stick a pretty coloured leaflet, making vague promises, through my letterbox. I need to know about the person who will be representing my interests and whether they are qualified to do the job...

Sadly, she has failed to convince me she possesses the qualities she claims to have on her leaflet - it is more interesting for what is not written than for what is....

I await to find out more, although time is running out.

Meanwhile, I am eagerly awaiting the manifesto of The Monster Raving Loonie Party which should be hitting the mat anytime soon!

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Friday, April 09, 2010

Nosey Neighbours Speeding Us Along The Road To Communism!

As if things are not bad enough in our new Big Brother world, Kent police have started to issue some of its residents, in the larger towns, radar detection kits to check on the speed of passing motorists. If they are exceeding the limit, the speed flashes onto a large roadside sign and the vehicle's registration number is recorded by one of the vigilantes... errrm I mean... helpful citizens.

The police then send a warning letter to the naughty motorist although no legal action can be taken - yet anyway!

If the scheme is judged to be a success, then the rest of the county will follow and presumably soon after that the world!

This tactic, by the authorities, of encouraging us all to spy on each other I find to be very worrying. We have already seen TV adverts providing a dedicated phone number to shop those we suspect of being benefit scroungers.

What is more worrying is that there are people willing to take part in schemes such as these.

However, it is not a new idea. We spent many years, as a free society, criticising such actions when they were a part of everyday life in both Communist China and Russia.

Over to you Comrades!!

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Thursday, April 08, 2010

Conservatives Win Round One!

Congratulations to the Conservatives, who were first to litter my letterbox with election recycling materials yesterday.

Prospective MP, Gordon Henderson, is keen to replace Labour's Derek Wyatt who has been a very active MP locally but who is standing down this time around following his parliamentary expenses revealing a penchant for pork pies and scotch eggs. Incidentally, the two are not connected!

Seems like his prospective replacement has been a bit slow off the starting blocks and I still do not know his/her name.

I shall keep you updated as my front door mat becomes more littered!

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Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Feel The Lurve And Dream The Dream It's Election Time In The UK!

The starter has finally fired the gun and the race is officially on to be first over the doorway of No10

Yep, there is going to be a ballot on May 6th

Gordon Brown has been to see the Queen at Buckingham Palace, to ask her permission to disband parliament so campaigning can begin (I wonder what would happen if she had said no) and while almost a quarter of the present inmates in the Palace of Westminster will be ‘retiring’ (many were given no choice after their creative accounting practices), the rest will be wearing out the shoe leather and knocking on doors around the country canvassing for votes

There’ll be hardly a baby, pensioner, immigrant, muslim, gay activist, union official or jobseeker (preferably all in one for the great photo opportunity it will present) who will not be courted and able to feel the ‘lurve’ as it is radiated from all those who seek to be elected.

Meanwhile, the ‘Bitchy Fairy’ will be set free to malign and mock any opponent who has the audacity to try to ruin such worthy ambition

Claims and counter claims; promises and denials, we are going to be brainwashed by both the media and aspiring politicians, into thinking everything will be well in the world if we vote for a certain party or candidate

We are even going to be given four and a half hours extra sleep time when the party leaders (although not from all parties) debate ‘live’ on the TV for the first time - I am almost looking forward to the commercial breaks!

Make the most of the next few weeks, for like in all good dreams, we eventually wake up and are faced with reality!

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Monday, April 05, 2010

No Room At The Inn For Gays - But Jesus Is OK!

While the political rumblings might not be as severe as the 7.2 on the Richter scale being experienced by those in Mexico, Shadow Home Secretary, Chris Grayling, must have felt more than a little quake in the pit of his stomach following publication of comments he made in private to the Centre For Policy Studies, a centre-right think tank.

He was referring to the case of a gay male couple turned away from a B&B on the grounds that the owner’s religious convictions meant she could not allow them to stay.

Mr Grayling expressed his personal view (in private to the committee but secretly recorded and sent to the Observer) that: "I think we need to allow people to have their own consciences” and “if it's a question of somebody who's doing a B&B in their own home, that individual should have the right to decide who does and who doesn't come into their own home."

Of course, technically at least, he is wrong as the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007 states no one should be refused goods or services on the grounds of their sexuality.

But, the law does not often allow for the concept of common sense or political point scoring.

The media has been full of what should really have been a non-story and the fact it has even gained such prominence I find to be more worrying than the actual incident at the B&B itself.

Most of us would have walked away from the experience with the attitude that ‘shit happens’ and booked into somewhere else that was more tolerant of our lifestyle and was run by someone with less hostile views. Nothing would ever have been heard of the story again.

However, the couple in question, who apparently felt "we were treated as lepers in the worst possible way." (is there a good way?) felt the need to report the B&B owner to the police and are considering suing “for a principle”.

And that is where 'politics' checked into the B&B and I became disturbed:

One of the couple is, apparently, leader of the Lib Dem group on his local council.

Stonewall the activist organisation promoting gay rights has warned:

"There are lots of gay people out there who are thinking about voting Conservative – many for the first time in their lives,"

"They will now be interrogating these issues much more thoroughly."

Did you spot the implied threat?

The Observer, a paper which would be outraged if a similarly dubious recording had been made by an agency of the state, seems to find it acceptable to print Mr Grayling’s personal views when they are not even shared by the party he represents.

We are in election year and we must remember everyone wants to ‘score a goal’ against the opposition, or position themselves into a better place on the field of play.

One thing is for certain. Legislation cannot force acceptability of what is still a minority (yes, shock horror, the gay community is still a minority), albeit vocal group of people.

Acceptability comes about by behaviour and example.

For me, the couple lost all sympathy when they were seen on yesterday’s news 'mugging' the camera while draped in each other’s arms. It was a show of carefully staged ‘affection’ making a political point too crass even for the Camerons or the Browns to attempt.

Perhaps, the situation was best summed up by Andrea Williams, the director of the Christian Legal Centre:

"It is vital in a diverse and free society that we truly tolerate one another's views."

That should be taken as a two way street!!

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Saturday, April 03, 2010

The 'Irony' In A Labour Poster!

Labour poster.jpg

Just as I feared, Labour have now swallowed the bait from the Conservatives and are following them into an election campaign based on personalities rather than politics.

The party PR machine has launched the above poster depicting David Cameron in the role of a fictional TV detective based in the 1980's.

Detective Gene Hunt is a straight talking, no-nonsense, politically incorrect 'copper' with old fashioned values, who would bend the rules to get a result.

While it certainly sounds like the kind of person we should be electing into the role of prime minister - a leader - David Cameron he certainly is not!

The irony is, there's always a danger some voters (Sun readers probably) might actually believe the portrayal and vote for Cameron.

We would then need a decent copper to investigate Gordon Brown's political suicide!

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