Monday, 28 February 2011
Labour appears to be winning the battle for the support of voters in the “squeezed middle”, according to the latest ComRes survey for The Independent.
As Ed Miliband identified people on low and middle incomes as the key political battleground, the poll showed that Labour is ahead of the Conservatives among the three demographic groups covering these voters.
Overall, the survey gives Labour a four-point lead, down from the six-point advantage it enjoyed in the most recent ComRes poll for The Independent on Sunday two weeks ago. Labour is on 39 per cent (down three points), the Tories on 35 per cent (down one point), the Liberal Democrats on 12 per cent (up one point) and other parties on 14 per cent (up three points). At a general election fought under the current first-past-the-post system, these figures would give Labour an overall majority of 44.
Labour is ahead of the Tories among the bottom DE social group (by 45 to 30 per cent); among the C2 skilled manual workers (by 44 to 33 per cent) and the C1 lower middle class (by 38 to 33 per cent). However, the Tories enjoy a big lead (by 41 to 33 per cent) among the top AB group.
Although Labour is ahead in every other region, it trails the Tories by 46 to 29 per cent in the South East, which includes London. There is also a divide between the young and the old. Labour is ahead among voters between the ages of 18 and 54. It is neck and neck with the Tories among 55-64 year-olds but David Cameron’s party has a big lead (50 to 30 per cent) among those aged 65 and over.
Although last year’s slump in Liberal Democrat support appears to have bottomed out, only half (50 per cent) of those who voted for Nick Clegg’s party at last year’s election say they would do so now, while 29 per cent say they would back Labour.
ComRes interviewed 1,007 GB adults by telephone between February 25-27, 2011. Data were weighted to be demographically representative of all GB adults. Data were also weighted by past vote recall. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.
---- ENDS ----
Despite a relatively healthy rate of traffic to the blog, you are rarely commenting on the blog, but tweeting instead.
Interaction is the key, however we interact, but I'm thinking "0 comments" appearing below most posts gives a rather sorry impression.
So, before I remove the comments section - any comments?
Sunday, 27 February 2011
It's that time of week once again when I run down a couple of the flash-points for the week ahead... of course it's not exhaustive, but still, more info that you can reasonably shake a stick at.
Kicking off with Monday then:
Most importantly, Parliament returns from it's half term Recess, and Eric Pickles will be at the Despatch Box for Communities and Local Government Questions in the Chamber.Hazel Blears, Charlie Elphicke and Charlotte Leslie have teamed up to discuss "The Big Society". I hope they find out what it is so we can all be clear moving forward.
Meanwhile, in the Lords Chamber, it's the 7th day of a Committee of the entire House looking at the Public Bodies Bill.
The Department of Education have an announcement on Soldiers in schools.
It's Craig Oliver's first day as DoC at Number 10... and he'll have big boots to fill after the departure of Andy Coulson.
Tuesday will see Mervin King up before the Treasury Select Committee discussing Regulation and February's inflation Report.
Nick Clegg is in the Chamber for DPMQ's, as is Dom Grieve for Questions to the Attorney General, and the Protection of Freedoms Bill (which in my humbled view seems to have some real substance to it) will get it's second reading. At the same time, the Fixed Term Parliament Bill gets it's second reading in the Lords.
*** This is an interesting one *** Commander Bob Broadhurst from the Metropolitan Police is up before the Joint Committee on Human Rights at Westminster. Bob is responsible for ALL Public Order within the MPS area. He had to apologise recently after unwittingly giving false information to the Home Affairs Select Committee about the deployment of plain clothed Police Officers in the December Student Public Order situation. The Committee will be particularly interested to discuss tactics ahead of the MAJOR March 26th Protests planned on the back of the Budget.
Baroness Morgan takes up her new role as Chair of Ofsted today.
It's your favourite event and mine - Prime Minister's Questions, with David Cameron and Ed Miliband BACK at the Despatch Box for a right royal chin-wag. Keep your eye out for the last bit of Business. Alan Johnson has an Adjournment Debate on "trawlermen's pensions", and in the Lords, it's Day 1 of the Report Stage of the Energy Bill.
Lord Mcfall, former Chair of the Treasury Select Committee, and an all-round good egg in my view, will be speaking Politeia event on HOW to cut Public Spending. This should be an interesting one, whilst on a similar note, COMPASS have an event on in the evening debating the Good Society v the Big Society. What is the difference? No doubt, that will be the question.
It's Polling Day for the Barnsley Central Seat following the jailing and "I can't believe it's a resignation" of Eric Illsley, formerly of NUM fame, no doubt soon to be of "UNLOCK" or the Howard League of Penal Reform fame.
And in Wales, if voters can tear themselves away from snoozing in boredom, it's the Referendum on whether Wales should get more powers under the terms of their devolved settlement. Pinching myself to stay awake at the notion. What a pointless referendum!
Jeremy Hunt will take the Despatch Box for Questions on Culture, Media and Sport, and Sir George Young will make his usual Business Statement as Leader of the House.
David McLean is introduced to the Lords Today!!
Sarah Brown's Memoirs, "Behind the Back Door" is released today. I suspect we'll hear more about gentle Gordon than the fax machine throwing, stapler tossing, pen jabbing Gordon we've heard about from others... in fairness, I've never had a stapler launched at me by the former PM.
The National Audit Office report today on improving financial management in Government... well good luck with that one guys and girls.
It's a Sitting Friday so every member of the Lobby will be in keenly reporting event... But no! seriously, it is a Sitting Friday!
We'll get the results of the Welsh Referendum (held on Thursday). I'll put it in the diary just for a laugh.
On Saturday & Sunday, it's Welsh Conservative Conference, including Spring Forum @ Welsh Conservative Conference. These are well worth going to, but much quieter than Autumn Conference.
Alright - there's your look at the week ahead. You'd better have enjoyed it, or else!
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This is my very first post using the iPad, and actually, now that I've worked out how to post a blog on it, I should be back on course.
People say the iPad is just a big iPhone. I agreed until I got my mits on one, and I'm discovering that in effect, you virtually have a proper computer in your hands... minus the USB ports.. but the battery life is amazing, and touch wood, the performance is exceeding my expectations.
Can anyone suggest any must have programmes / apps? I particularly want to know the best Word Processor for the iPad.. can you help?
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad
Thursday, 24 February 2011
At least this is to say new colours, with one or two things altered about to be easier on the eye.
One of my readers recently complained that the old colours were hard to read - and said reader normally gets what he wants.
So do you like this design, or did you prefer the old one?
Let me know
Vince Cable's mate, Lord Davies will tell British businesses later, if you don't choose to do what we want, then we'll make you do what we want.
I think this set up is normally described as a dictatorship!
I'll come on to the issue of quotas in a moment - but lets consider the notion of Government forcing the private sector to take on artificial ideals; how is this taking power from Westminster and giving it to individuals and businesses? Answer... it fits like a glove on a foot.
It would be entirely justified for the Government to improve legislation to ensure descrimination based on sex, disability, sexuality, race or religion because frankly, some are more equal than others under the current toothless set up, but quotas always equals descrimination.
"A rose by any other name would smell as sweet"
The moment you give someone a job BECAUSE they are a woman, BECAUSE they are black, BECAUSE they are gay, or BECAUSE they are blind is the moment you rob THAT person of their dignity.
For instance, there is no one on this planet who can say with any degree of honesty that I have only got my job BECAUSE I can't see, but if quotas were introduced to say that companies MUST employ a registered blind guide dog owner, no one could be sure that I have my job based on my ability to do my job.
Anne Widdecombe said on the subject of quotas for MP's that she enjoys being able to look any man in the eye and say that she competed on equal terms to them.
The counter to this argument of course is that under the current system, the terms are not equal for women, but quotas will always give rise to the suspicion that someone has their job not because of what they can do, but what they are, and the biggest victims are that person and the group they represent in the 'tick box era'.
Perversely, measures that might be considered for all the right reasons would achieve all the wrong things.
Tuesday, 22 February 2011
One imagines he may have been permitted a Special Branch, or Special Escort Group Officer or two in the circumstances.
Commenting after his speech, the Deputy Leader, and Advocate for Access to Education (or position to keep Simon as happy as possible in all the circumstances) said,
“Despite the strength of feeling around the tuition fees debate last year, Students’ Unions and the Government must be united in their desire and effort to make our universities more open and accessible, and become the most effective drivers of social mobility.
“Students’ Unions around the country need to hold their universities to account and make sure they do not inflate their fees unnecessarily. Any increase in fees must be used to provide the best possible experience for students from all backgrounds.
“The NUS has a key role working with Government to bring forward new legislation if universities fail to open their doors.”
Sunday, 20 February 2011
Dianne Abbott is addressing the Oxford Union... No!... Really!... Yes!... Really she is! Geoffrey Howe is too.
Hollyrood returns from their Spring Recess!
Foreign Secretary William Hague is at a meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels.
Today is the deadline for any and all information provided as part of UK ID cards to be destroyed.
*** PUBLIC SECTOR FINANCES ARE OUT *** Stats released by the Office of National Statistics and the Treasury.
Dr Ian Paisley is making his Oxford Union Address as is Margaret Thatcher's former Press Secretary, Sir Bernard Ingham.
The happiest man in the Cabinet, Andrew Mitchell is in Brussels at an informal meeting of EU Development Ministers.
No PMQ's during Recess of course, but if you get bored, you can always watch Mayor's Question Time at 10am.
The Cabinet Secretary, Sir Gus O'Donnell is making a speech at a UCL event on "The New Cabinet Mannual". I'm guessing the new manual will be an etch-o-sketch where images are clear to see, but if you shake it a bit, the text disappears?
On this day, 20 years ago, the Allied Forces were committed to the ground in the Gulf. Wow, really that long ago?
The quartarly Statistical summary of immigration figures are ou today.
There's a no to AV debate in Leeds Town Hall. Don't forget, you can scroll down one story to hear my 96 second report on Clegg v Cameron last Friday.
Friday, 18 February 2011
Thursday, 17 February 2011
I need to explain the difference between AV and First Past the Post to a colleague. I’ll tell you the truth… I’m struggling to explain in basic terms – so I’m killing two birds with one stone.
What is First Past the Post
Simply, the candidate who gets more votes than any other is elected, even if they only get one more vote than the runner up. This is a majority vote if you like, and is the origin of the expression “one is enough”.
The argument against FPTP
It is possible and indeed common for MP’s to be elected with a straight majority of votes, yet secure less than 50% of ALL votes cast.
If you imagine that there are ten candidates in a Constituency, with the top two getting 40% and 30% respectively… and you imagine that the rest (30%) goes to the other 8 candidates, the candidate with 40% of the vote would win because no other candidate has polled as many votes as they have.
The problem that anti First Past the Posters have with this is that the candidate who is elected with 40% of the vote, is not, in the view of the Yes Campaigners morally entitled to represent the Constituents of the area in which they were elected because 60% of the electorate did not vote for them.
What is the Alternative Vote?
There are different versions of AV, but it boils down to redistributing votes until one candidate achieves more than 50% of all votes cast.
Under the Alternative Vote System, voters run down the list of Candidates, ranking them in their order of preference by physically writing 1, 2, 3 etc.
Once all votes have been cast and counted, if any one candidate polls over 50%, they are elected and there are no additional rounds, but if no candidate achieves the magic percentage, the candidate who polls the least votes is eliminated, and all the second and third preferences (and so on) are redistributed to the remaining candidates.
This process continues until someone achieves over 50%, even if only two candidates remain until the end. That’s how you get your winner, moreover, the successor can be said to have been voted for, in one form or another by the majority of voters in percentage terms.
The argument against AV
In basic terms, the reason the anti AV’ers object to this system is because it’s expensive and complicated, but above all, because it is possible, and perhaps probable that a candidate who has not achieved more votes than any other is elected, they would argue against the wishes the majority of voters (in number terms). Indeed the majority vote is a basic prerequisite of our British Democracy. Labour and Conservative MP’s also agrue that the system favours the Lib Dems. It does, but in point of fact, it also favours the Labour Party.
Very basic example
Right of centre Party 1 - 40%
Left of Centre Party 2 - 30%
Left of Centre Party 3 - 26%
In this example, no one is elected because no one achieved more than 50%, so party 3 is eliminated, and their second votes are redistributed.
Lets imagine that 21% of the second preference goes to Party 2, and 5% goes to Party 1
Party 1 - 45%
Party 2 - 51%
Party 2 is elected, even though more people voted for party 1 as their first preference. Of course in reality, there would be more candidates and more rounds.
That’s my best shot at explaining AV v First Past the Post without getting more geeky and complicated. How did I do?
Wednesday, 16 February 2011
The following is a full transcript of my interview with the ONLY real dog in the Lobby - Guide Dog Chipp:
Please use freely when mentioning Chipp!
SD - How do you feel about Larry, the Downing Street cat?
Chipp - Well believe it or not, this isn't about me. It's about what's right for the reputation of politics in the UK, and I believe, with every Nyla-Bone of my being that I am the right creature to continue to enhance the reputation of politics.
SD - Am I right to pick up on some anti-Larry feeling here Chipp?
Chipp - Not at all. Yes, sometimes there's this kind of knock-about that happens with cats and dogs. I mean we argue like Conservatives and Lib Dems, but actually you know, I don't think the public want us to be best friends. I feel passionately that cats do not have the right to exist, cats obviously feel that dogs don't have the right to exist - but as far as I'm concerned, we're both just arguing for what we honestly believe to be the case.
SD - What advice do you have for the Prime Minister when it comes to the question of trust?
Chipp - Well I'm not going to get drawn in to these kind of cats v dog splits that journalists seem so keen to propogate. All I'd say is that Larry the cat has a job, and I have a job. Larry is doing fantastic work in Number 10 by killing all the rats. Cats are of course great for dealing with rats, and I should like to throw my personal support behind the Prime Minister's aims here. All I'd say is that dogs are fantastic when it comes to dealing with turbulent cats. Just thought I'd mention that.
Tuesday, 15 February 2011
Remember the case of an Essex boss who marched a thief to the Police Station with a sign around his neck saying, "I stole £845. On way to Police Station"?.
The thief wrote himself a cheque and cashed it, but after being interviewed by Detectives, he was given a Police Caution.
Clearly the boss shouldn't be hanging signs round an arrested person's neck, but in common sense land, we can sort of understand it can't we?
Well would you believe, the Civil Court has ordered the BOSS to pay the THIEF 5k conpensation, PLUS 8k in legal costs.
Isn't it about time we limited the ability of criminals to sue their Victims?
The law's got it wrong!
"We are now being asked to spend in excess of £250 Million, not just on the Referendum, but on all the expensive literature you need to explain this new voting system to people, and I think that people will find it very difficult to swallow this huge cost at a time when everybody else is being aksed to take their belt's in".
The Official No to AV Campaign is launched alter today.
No further comment!
Sunday, 13 February 2011
Iain Duncan Smith is at the Despatch Box for DWP Questions, and later, Members will look at the Budget Responsibility and National Audit Bill. Meanwhile in the Lords, the fun continues with the Parliamentary Voting and Constituencies Bill as it gets it's third (and final believe me) reading.
Unison will be protesting against Government cuts as they march on Downing Street.
What is the Big Society? We may find out as the Thinktank Progress will be joined by the Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude.
Here's the big one for me... Sadiq Khan, Shadow Justice Secretary will be setting out Labour's Criminal Justice Review in his first MAJOR speech in post.
Ray Collins will be sharing his thoughts on Party Political funding with the Committee on Standards in Public Life, whilst round the corner, Mark Thompson is giving Evidence to the Public Accounts Committee on the BBC's Digital Media Initiative.
The Parliamentary Voting and Constituencies Bill is scheduled to go through the Commons one final time just in time to be rushed back through the Lords in time to achieve Royal sign-off. Under current rules, if it failed to get sign-off by February 16th, the AV referendum would either not be held on May 5, or else further legislation would have been needed to force the issue.... oh and whilst on the subject of fair DUE PROCESS, it's Justice Questions at 2:30pm with Ken Clarke.
Environment Secretary Caroline Spellman is at the National Farmers Union conference in Birmingham
The Parliamentary Press Gallery holds "The Chairman's Pint" where we toast the fine efforts of the outgoing Chairman George Parker of the FT, who managed as Chair to pull the Prime Minister in to speak at a lunch for Journalists, and *** MAJOR FLASH POINT *** we welcome the first ever female Chair of the Press Gallery, from the BBC Carolyn Quinn.
The Parliamentary Voting and Constituencies Bill receives Royal Assent today. Trust me... it WILL!
Andrew Mitchell will be at the Despatch Box taking questions on International Development - then PMQ's - the last before the half term Recess.
It's Mayor's Questions in London (no.. I probably can't be either).
The Work and Pensions Select Committee takes Evidence on reforming welfare payments, including Disability Living Allowance (DLA).
The Big Society Minister Nick Hurt will be speaking in Liverpool about what the Big Society means... do let me know what you decide Nick!
The Lords Rises for Recess.
Vince Cable is at the Despatch Box answering BIZ Questions... as long as nobody mentions the war - or media regulation, I think we'll get away with it.
Then of course it's R E C E S S ! ! ! ! : )
DIVORCE figures are out for the past year.
Eric Pickles makes the Oxford Union Address. He's a good public speaker actually, so I'm sure they'll enjoy it.
The Welsh Assembly rises for half term Recess. (No, I probably don't really either).
The Welsh Labour Conference kicks off in Wales... Ed's doing an after dinner speech.
Friday, 11 February 2011
(Quote freely when crediting talkSPORT)
SD - The Government are launching their Protection of Freedoms Bill today, with promises of greater common sense, and a commitment to personal Freedoms. What does this mean Deputy Prime Minister?
NC - Well I've been campaigning on this for ages. I first proposed the idea of a Freedom Bill some years ago, because I think under Labour, too many of our Freedoms were taken away. Our Privacy was invaded. Too many innocent people were treated with suspicion. Look, under Labour, your children could have their finger prints taken at school without your permission. You could be spied on by your local Council, your bins could be spied on, your house could be spied on for no apparent reason. Your DNA could be taken and stored, even if your innocent of any wrongdoing whatsoever. What we're doing in this Freedom Bill is sweeping all of those illiberal measures, all those kind of snooping powers away, and saying lets get the balance right between our Freedom and our privacy, and of course the need for the police to keep us safe.
SD - Well in a moment we'll come on to the DNA issue, which will be a thorny one I'm sure as far as the Opposition are concerned, but talk to be about Vetting - enhanced CRB Certificates. It seems everyone and their dog is allowed to see your criminal record, if indeed you have one.
NC - Yes, at the moment, or at least under the scheme proposed by Labour, over 9 million adults, many of whom are just doing basic volunteering, taking their own children, their neighbour's children to a football club on a Saturday afternoon, or maybe going from time to time to read a book.
SD - Indeed, I think this is a real concern. In my spare time, I raise funds for guide dogs, and certain volunteers require these CRB checks, and I'm sure we have a lot less volunteers as a result.
NC - Well exactly. You put your finger on a classic example. There are people just volunteering for a really good cause who have been treated basically with suspicion... and what's worse than that , if they then go and do something else, it has to happen all over again, and they have to go through the whole palaver of having their criminal record checks done again, so what we're saying is the checks should be done in a sensible way for those jobs and those tasks and those roles where of course you want people checked, and secondly, they shouldn't be done over and over again - we shouldn't reinvent the wheel. You should have an automatic update of your records, and not have to apply to do it each time you do another job.
SD - Now this isn't all about vetting today. One of the issues that we're looking at is that of DNA, the retention of DNA for people charged but not convicted. It's going to be kept for three years, but can you explain more for talkSPORT listeners?
NC - Yes, it's very simple. What we think is if you're convicted of a crime, of course your DNA should be taken. We also think if you're charged, and even if your not convicted of a serious crime, like the rules in Scotland, also your DNA should be retained. Under very certain very specific circumstances, we think the police should be able to apply to retain the DNA of other individuals, but the general rule surely has to be that if you're innocent of any wrongdoing, you shouldn't have your DNA stored on a great big State database. What I think was so distressing to many people was that Labour were storing people's DNA as if there was something wrong with them, as if they'd done something wrong, even though they were completely innocent of any wrongdoing, and I don't think that's right. I don't think we should make people feel guilty, even though they are entirely innocent.
SD - Alright, another flashpoint lastly, and it might not effect very many people in the United Kingdom, but in the run-up to the Election, David Cameron was promising to quash historic Gay Convictions under the Sexual Offences Act 1956. This is something you’re going ahead with.. People can apply to have their records wiped . What does this mean? Who is eligible, and who is not?
NC - Well if you are a man who has been convicted under very, very outdated and old fashioned rules, relating to Gay concensual sex, then you'll have that wiped from your records. You won't be treated like a criminal for a very outdated Offence frankly, which is totally out of step with modern Britain.
Wednesday, 9 February 2011
Now, on the disgusting terms Global Warming Deniers and deficit deniers... I urge politicians of all persuasions to stop and think about the words they are using, and the reason they are using those words.
The term "denier" is far too associated with the term "Holocaust Denier". Every time I hear it, I retch and want to be sick. I'm not really over-egging this point either.
I don't care if one party wishes to attack another for their views on the economy... I'm not an economist and I'll listen to all views.
I'm not a Climate expert, and so I don't have the definitive answer on Global Warming. I take a view on it, and people are, in a free Country, at liberty not to slavishly take one view over another because they are told to by politicians.
Global Warming, and the Economy are VITALLY important topics... but having one view on either is not comparable to Eugenics denial.
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Let there be no doubt - he was "resigned".
No one supports what Illsley has done, and indeed most say he can't complain about the Sentence he will be handed on Thursday, but there is a general acceptance that Illsley has ended up in Court for doing the same as others who have not so much been interviewed by Police.
This is a reflection of opinion in Westminster. This is not a defence or support of the former MP for Barnsley Central!
Tuesday, 8 February 2011
This is clearly HUGE news for talkSPORT, and speaking as a non-sports Member of Staff, I am extremely proud, notwithstanding the controversy that may follow.
I should like to pass personal congratulations to my boss, Moz Dee, the talkSPORT Programme Director, and to Scott Taunton, Managing Director.
Check out talkSPORT.co.uk for more…
Sunday, 6 February 2011
it's that time of the week again. Thanking Sky News's Tim Gatt for the title "Dilley's Digest', ripped off from one of his tweets.
Below are some of the highlights... Thursday undoubtedly taking the prize for 'most interesting day'. Enjoy.
In the Commons Chamber, Michael Gove is at the Dispatch Box for Education Questions.
For those who are worried that there aren't enough government Consultations, help is at hand with the opening of an Official Consultation on anti-social behaviour. *** Here's my contribution, stop calling Crime anti-social behaviour. Anti-social behaviour is not washing before you go to Church ***
Over in the Lords, Nicol Stephen is introduced... later the Budget Responsibility and National Audit Bill gets it's third reading - meanwhile the Parliamentary Voting and Constituencies Bill continues it's journey through Parliament - it's day one in the Bill's Report Stage.
John Hemming's wife, Christine appears in Court, Charged with the theft of a cat belonging to her husband's lover.
Lord Triesman is up before the Culture, Media and Sports Select Committee giving, what I can only anticipate to be interesting Evidence on Football Governance. Remember of course that Sports Minister Hugh Robertson tells me that government will take proper note of the Committee's report before finalising Government Policy.
There's a debate by "The Bow Group" with No to AV's Director Matthew Elliott, and Yes to Fairer Votes Chair Katie Ghos
George Osborne is in the Commons for Treasury Questions - and the Education Bill gets it's second reading. In the Lords, it's day 2 of the Report Stage of the Parliamentary Voting and Constituencies Bill.
It's PMQ's of course - and Ed Miliband is expected to turn out a more enthusiastic performance than last week's bore-fest, in which viewers would be forgiven for thinking that David Cameron wrote the Oppositions questions for them. Meanwhile, in the Lords, it's Day Three of the Report Stage of the Parliamentary Voting and Constituencies Bill.
IDS is up before the Work and Pensions Committee discussing his White Paper on the Universal credit - FAR from universally popular even on his own benches. Meanwhile, two minutes down the road, Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Liam Byrne makes his debut speech entitled "Welfare and Work". We can expect Mr Byrne to talk about "ideological cuts", "the squeezed middle" and "fairness".
Keep an eye on events at Southwark Crown Court. Jim Devine is likely to discover the Verdict of the Jury in his expenses Trial. Timings are of course subject to "events dear boy".
*** FLASH POINT - THE BANK OF ENGLAND ANNOUNCES IT'S INTEREST RATE DECISION ***
*** MAJOR FLASH POINT ****
MP's will vote on whether to allow certain types of prisoners the vote, following the Ruling from Europe. Prime Minister David Cameron has given backbenchers a Free Vote, and has let it be known that he encourages Members to vote against the proposals. It's worth reminding readers that Jack Straw and David Davis have teamed up to fight the notion. Also, Chris Huhne takes the Dispatch Box for Energy and Climate Questions - but I suspect this will fade in to insignificance alongside votes for prisoners.
Ed Miliband will be at a Compass Lecture on Progressive Politics. Look out for more on Wednesday evening. Also, Nick Clegg is at the Guardian's Public Service Summit - as is John Bird... Malcolm Rifkind is making his Oxford Union Address. A big day for speeches!
The Public Accounts Committee will have a report out on the Media Regulator Ofcom.
Employment Minister Chris Grayling, and his Shadow, Stephen Timms (stabbed by a Constituent last year of course) are invited speakers at the Social Market Foundation.
It's a sitting Friday of course!
Today is the last day for submissions to the Public Consultation on the operation of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) with the report due in March.
It's also the last day for submissions to the Consultation on how Ofcom resolves complaints against broadcasters, regulatory disputes, and imposing sanctions in relation to "on demand" services on TV.
And the biggest event of the week.... Adam Boulton and the Sky News team are due to announce their Top Ten "most fanciable MP's" on the Boulton & Co Blog.
The Sevenoaks MP, and Deputy Tory Chair Michael Fallon will be making HIS Oxford Union Address.
We will also find out how many people are in Custody in the UK today!
Over the two days, we raised £1,010. Considering that this is not even a Tesco Extra, I am very impressed, and grateful to all who donated.
On the way late tonight (Sunday), your weekly look ahead to the week in Westminster Politics.
Friday, 4 February 2011
Some time after midday, I called the Department for Communities and Local Government and was told this was a Cabinet Office lead, and so I called them, and was told very certainly that this was a DCLG lead.
I called an adviser at the DCLG and was told again that it’s a C/O lead, and called them back only to be told that the DCLG adviser was “mistaken” and I needed to call them back.
I called the DCLG adviser back before being told that the Big Society Minister at the Cabinet Office (Nick Heard) was responsible and so called his adviser, only to be told (very nicely, by his very nice adviser) that it’s definitely not a C/O story, and I should call the DCLG.
Frankly I’ve got paint I need to watch dry, so I haven’t bothered to call the DCLG back AGAIN! Instead, I’ve spoken with a very nice, top bod in government circles who I’m sure will help us out, but as things stand, not only do we not know what “the Big Society” is, we don’t know who’s responsible for administering it!
**** UPDATE 17:20 ish ****
The paint dried, so I called the DCLG newsdesk, rather than the advisers. The Newsdesk believe they can help. Will keep you posted.
**** UPDATE 17:35 ****
The DCLG Newsdesk have said this is definitely their area. They are not commenting, but instead putting out the statement given yesterday by the Prime Minister's Spokesman, which more or less says that they need to look at the circumstances to see what went wrong.
Thursday, 3 February 2011
I think it's noteworthy however that out of all the "Bercow-gate" stories that have, from time to time found themselves in the public domain, this is the one that is getting the public talking the most.
Previously, backbench MP's (and usually Conservative MP's) have attacked the Speaker and his wife for what they suggest is bringing discredit to the Office (Trust me, on this, I am straight down the middle), but for the very first time, the public are using their own words to say the same thing.
If you've come to me for the first time today via the excellent Roberto, I work for the UK's largest commercial speech radio station, talkSPORT. Of course, the views I express herein may not always be those of UTV or talkSPORT Radio :).
... but you're very welcome!
(I have to say, I've not got the crime mapping website to work even once).
*** Starts ****
Since Tuesday the government's website www.police.uk has provided you with maps that show crime and anti-social behaviour at a street by street level right in your neighbourhood.
This means you can see, even from your mobile, exactly what crime is happening and where - right down to the level of your street corner. If you have concerns about the crime you see or how issues are dealt with, you can raise them with the police.
The interactive maps open the door on crime and police information. You can view crimes including burglary, violence and anti-social behaviour in a particular area by using a simple postcode search. There will also be details about your neighbourhood policing team and information about regular beat meetings.
Under Labour the police were directed by Whitehall diktat. The police spent their time chasing centrally-defined targets and not responding to the needs of the local communities they were supposed to be serving. A recent report by the police inspectorate showed that only eleven per cent of police officers were visible and available to the general public at any one time.
The government is introducing a series of measures as part of our plan to fight crime:
Slashing bureaucracy - steps already taken to save up to 800,000 hours of police time by scrapping the stop form and limiting stop and search reporting
Removing all targets and setting the police just one goal: to cut crime
Introducing directly-elected Police and Crime Commissioners to ensure that police forces respond to the needs of local communities
Providing transparent information so local communities really know about crime in their area.
These crime maps which will reconnect the police and communities through the power of information are just the start. It's clear that this sort of transparent information is very popular as www.police.uk received millions of hits an hour on Tuesday.
I'm proud that England and Wales are world leaders in providing this sort of data. We want to build on this by working with the police and with you to explore how we can go further and faster and drive forward even greater transparency across crime, policing and justice.
Wednesday, 2 February 2011
SD - Deputy Prime Minister, what are you announcing today?
NC - We’re announcing more money, £400m to make sure that people who presently don’t’ have access to the so called talking therapies, which help them with their mental health problems, whether it’s eating disorders, anxiety, depression and so on, have access to that, because I think for far too long, we’ve treated mental health issues, almost with a sense of shame when there are so many people in this Country who are effected by mental health issues. We should lift the stigma around this and treat mental health issues in exactly the same way that we treat physical health issues in the NHS.
SD - Is this new funding, or does it come from the Health Budget, and through efficiency savings?
NC - Well it’s obviously within the Health Budget, but it is £400m of money which we’re allocating towards those talking therapies. Our estimate is that it will allow over a million people, 1.2 million more people to have access to those talking therapies, especially children. I don’t think as a Country, really we're good enough at really reaching out to children when they’re starting to develop mental health problems, at exactly the point when we can give them the most help, and prevent them being pitched in to a lifetime of mental health issues, and so it will make a big big difference to those many, many thousands of people who at the moment aren’t being given the support that they need.
SD - For talkSPORT’s Military Constituency, you’re making pledges that you’re going to look after British Military personnel when they return home, and maybe if they need it further down the line. What does this mean in practical terms?
NC - Well it means in practical terms that for instance there will be a mental health check as part of the medical checks that are made when you are on the frontline, and when you are in Military Service. It means that when you come back from Military Service, and lets remember , it’s often at that point that Veterans face the toughest battle - it’s when they actually come off the battle field and they’re having to deal with their own mental health conditions. So we’re training more people to act as outreach professionals who can help them, we’re providing more support to online information so they know where to go, and we’re trying to raise the profile of this issue so that GP’s and others look out for the interests’ of Veterans and don’t, some how, try and ignore them. It’s sometimes quite difficult for anybody, but especially for Veterans, given the very brave and extraordinary things that they’ve done to talk about their own mental health problems as they evolve and come back.
SD - Lastly Deputy Prime Minister, you and I have spoken in the past about the Prisons in the United Kingdom, all of which I would suggest have a Constituent within who are more mentally ill than criminal. Does your announcement today address this problem, and if it doesn’t, how will you address this very real problem moving forward?
NC - We’ve made previous announcements about this to make sure that the NHS, the mental health professionals and prison authorities work more effectively together, because you’re quite right, there’s no point simply putting someone in to prison because they’ve committed a crime, which is partly driven because of their mental health conditions’. Of course they need to be put behind bars and punished, but there’s no point not then treating them because they’ll simply come out of prison and commit more crime, and sometimes worse crime. What I’m interested in is to see crime cut, and the way to do that is not only to put people behind bars, but to make sure that when they’re in prison, they’re treated for any underlying problems so they don’t become repeat offenders once they leave prison. That’s the goal we’re aiming at, and we’ve made a number of announcements which I think will make that a reality.
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