Gavin Maclure's Musings

My take on politics locally, nationally and internationally


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Ipswich Labour parliamentary candidate is ignorant

The Mother of all Parliaments

The Mother of all Parliaments

An article over at the Ipswich Spy parish demonstrates once again how some people in this country are playing a dangerous game, which could see this country spiral into anarchy.

One such protagonist is Cllr David Ellesmere, Labour’s challenger to Ipswich MP Ben Gummer in the 2015 General Election. He has spoken out against MPs getting a pay increase from their current salary of £60,000.

The prevailing attitude that MPs should have tuppence thrown at them and they should be jolly well grateful is ignorant. Does Cllr Ellesmere even know what an MP does and stands for?

He/she is a legislator in one of the greatest and oldest democracies in the world – in the “Mother of all Parliaments”, to coin a phrase.

Put aside the work they do to develop legislation and represent their constituencies in the massive machine that is Whitehall, they are the body of democracy in this country! Trivialise MPs and you trivialize our democracy and that is a very dangerous game to play indeed.

At the current rate, if politicians continue to be debased in terms of their role and contribution to our democracy it is then a very small step for the population to stop, en masse, respecting our democratic institutions and the rule of law. And then anarchy will prevail – it is closer than you think.

MPs have more responsibility than any FTSE 100 CEO and are currently paid less than a middle manager in one of those FTSE 100 companies. I’d pay them £100,000 a year immediately.

Let’s take a constituency issue as an example of their work: the railway service for the MP’s commuter constituents is appalling (ring a bell). It’s not just a case of the MP speaking to the Transport Secretary over a quick coffee and hey presto the railway improvement programme is signed off next Tuesday. Instead they must speak with tens of ministers, bag handlers (parliamentary private secretaries to ministers), mandarins (especially to show them where Ipswich is on a map) and build a business case which takes months, if not years – do you have any idea how much someone gets paid to do this in the private sector? This and the slight matter of legislating for the entire country, I think £100,000 a year is a bargain.

The same article talks about the pay our councillors in Ipswich receive. As the Independent Remuneration Committee found, compared to most other councils in the country, our councillors are paid an absolute pittance for the work they do. £3000 a year for 15 hours a week. Do you think they live off that? No, most have full-time jobs to pay for food and a roof over their head and then they do another 15 hours plus a week ensuring IBC is democratically represented. This demands respect not insults.

If we value democracy, we must value our politicians unless they break the law. If we continue to treat MP-bating as a national sport , all we will do is push power further away from you and I and towards the unelected bureaucrats in Whitehall and Brussels. And with that, you might as well have a dictatorship.

Be careful what you wish for.

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Socialists try to impose State-controlled press in UK

A free press is paramount for our democracy

A free press is paramount for our democracy

Lord Leveson – part of the metropolitan elite – recommended “statutory underpinning” of the press is his multi-volume Report into Press Ethics.

In short, this means State-controlled press. As I wrote back when Leveson superciliously bounded on to the stage to introduce his report, this recommendation is an attack on our democracy: one of its core pillars is a free press.

So it is hardly surprising to see the Liberal (note the capital ‘L’ – very different from ‘liberal’) Democrats and the sixth-form shower of a political party, Labour, want to embrace Leveson’s recommendation for shackling the press with legislation. Socialists – and let’s be in no doubt the Lib Dems are socialists too – see nothing better than command and control from the centre and “statutory underpinning” is perfectly suited to that purpose.

David Cameron, for all the gripes I have about him (and they are many), is right to oppose Leveson’s recommendation. I think Mr Cameron actually gets democracy (and probably realises the game is up in 2015 as a result) but he will be damned if he is going to go down in history as the man who destroyed a core pillar of democracy in Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

This whole question of press ethics has and continues to be a farce. We have THE best, diverse and vibrant print and online media in the world. We have a Government that on the whole is scared to death of the public: precisely because of our superior journalism in our print and online media. I would far rather live in a country which splashes Max Mosley’s sexual habits across the front-page (despite me personally not giving two hoots what he gets up to in spare time, as long as it doesn’t harm anyone but himself!) than one where politicians can do as they please and threaten business-busting fines if a newspaper looks set to expose a corruption or hypocrisy amongst the powers that be in Westminster, devolved assemblies and town halls.

Because as soon as you take away a free press, the powerful who rule over us will take advantage, which is a slippery slope eventually to evil. And I don’t say this an exaggeration. Abuse of power by the powerful to detrimentally affect the lives of the masses would eventually occur once you remove one of the core pillars of democracy – that of the free press. We see this today in Zimbabwe and Russia. We saw it in the past in Argentina, where it led to kidnapping, torture and murder of tens of thousands of people. This is the end result of eroding democracy – be certain of this.

We learn today both the Prime Minister, Nick Clegg of the Yellow Peril and Labour’s pseudo-sixth former leader Ed Miliband all now want to lay down a Royal Charter establishing an independent self-regulatory body for the press. However, Labour want to go further and introduce legislation to shackle the press. I wholly disagree with this approach for the reasons I have outlined above. The showdown between the main political parties will take place on Monday in the House of Commons.

However, commentators don’t seen to be talking about the elephant in the room: legislation already exists to stop the wrongdoings of the press which led to the Leveson Inquiry being set up by David Cameron. It is already illegal in the UK for journalists to hack into mobile phones, it is already illegal for journalists to pay police officers for information, it is already illegal to defame someone’s character.

So, why are we wasting time setting up Royal Charters? All Lord Leveson did was succumb to hard-left pressure groups like Hacked Off and was wowed by celebrities like Hugh Grant and Steve Coogan who want the press to write about their films and comedy shows but only on their terms.

Yes, the News of World’s hacking into murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler’s mobile phone was horrific and that paper has rightly been closed down by its proprietor, Rupert Murdoch. But that behaviour by News International journalists was and is illegal. Prosecute the journalists. Send them to prison. But do not remove a pillar of our democracy as a sop to the Left, who dream of Communist states, where power is firmly held by the elite and the people are kept in their place and oppressed.


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Local political blogger arrested for filming Council meeting

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Political blogger Jacqui Thompson arrested at Carmarthenshire County Council

In June 2011 Jacqui Thompson, a political blogger from Wales, was arrested for filming the meeting of Carmarthenshire County Council.

Mrs Thompson has subsequently sued the County Council’s chief executive officer, Mark James, for libel for a letter he wrote to her in response to criticisms she had made of the Council on her blog. Mr James is counter-suing Mrs Thompson for comments she made about him on her blog. The court case has not concluded with judgement reserved until an unspecified later date.

When asked this morning to explain her arrest for filming the County Council meeting two years ago, Jacqui Thompson told Radio 4 Today presenter Evan Davis that she could find no rule banning filming of the public meeting in the Council’s constitution or in Standing Orders (the rules which govern Council meetings).

Putting aside the libel spat (although undoubtedly a very expensive spat –  with the chief executive’s costs paid for by Carmarthenshire taxpayers!), I am a firm believer local democracy should be made as transparent and accountable as possible. And in today’s technologically advanced age web-casting of council meetings should be the norm. To not web-cast a meeting suggests the council, in my view, has something to hide (I hope Ipswich Borough Council chief executive Russell Williams does not try to have me arrested for saying that!).

The ruling Labour Party, especially considering they have a number of IT professionals in their ranks, need to show some leadership and open up democracy to the masses. I guess being Socialists they are not too keen on this: in the Socialist’s mind it is far better to keep the little voters in their council houses gorged on benefits and leave the Labour elite to get on with the business of running the lives of others at the Town Hall, isn’t it?

Well, I and my fellow bloggers will continue to report the utterances of Council leader David Ellesmere, which we are delighted to do. Decisions costing hundreds of thousands of pounds are made at the Town Hall meeting and it is our duty to report on them. This will be especially the case on Wednesday when the most important Full Council meeting of the year takes places to set the annual budget.


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Politics really is getting boring

Great things were once done here

Great things were once done here

We may get the odd moment like David Cameron’s speech on Wednesday but most of the time politics today is as dull as dishwater. And as the dust settles even the PM’s speech was only good on paper with no certainty the EU referendum promise will see the light of day.

It was back to normal on Thursday and as I was watching Question Time last night it is true what they say: politicians really are all the same. It is very difficult to put a cigarette paper between them. The three main parties don’t have ideologies and are merely mishmashes of each other.

Condescending and highly irritating Tory Health minister Anna Soubry was espousing her wish to see the UK continue giving the EU £50 Million a day to take away our democratic rights; former Liberal Democrats leader Sir Ming Campbell told the audience how he wanted a bigger armed forces and Ben Bradshaw (with his perpetual 1980s style tie knot) for Labour said spending cuts would be necessary even if Ed Miliband was prime minister.

At least Ian Hislop told it like it was when he mentioned the Ministry of Defence lost so much money under Labour it would be enough to buy the the upgrade to the Trident nuclear deterrent.

Politicians are so scared now of offending anyone they just don’t take a position on anything and even when the economic juggernaut is heading in the current Chancellor’s direction he merely does a little bit of fiscal tweaking and hopes things will sort themselves out before the next election. They don’t want to scare the horses by actually having concrete and tangible policies such as real spending decreases to help Britain out of recession.

The media don’t help matters. Still feeding off the expenses scandal, they feel politicians can be treated anyway they choose. It does not matter that the 600 odd members of parliament hold positions of great seniority with a backbencher akin to a FTSE 100 chief executive. The sneering and debasing of anything a politician does or proposes by the print, broadcast and electronic media indoctrinates the ordinary member of the public to think MPs are fair game who are lower than paedophiles and deserve no respect whatsoever. That collective mindset is very dangerous. If we lose respect for our democratically elected representatives, we start to lose respect for democracy itself.

We need a fundamental shake-up in our political system. We need to make it easier for people from all backgrounds to stand for election at a local and national level. If the MoD can waste £39 Billion pounds on bodged procurement contracts, surely there is some money available to make it worthwhile for a man or woman in their 30s or 40s to stand as a local councillor or member of parliament?

We need people with ideas and passion for their beliefs who aren’t afraid to call a spade a spade. If nothing is done to make British democracy more representative of her people, we really are heading for decades of management-speak politicians who would be more suited to the corridors of Davos rather than Downing Street.