Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Surprises from the Stratford Labour party

I recently returned home to find that the local Labour candidate and his team had visited my area and left a copy of their leaflet. It is not however this surprise visit of Labour candidates in a Conservative stronghold that I refer to above,  but the the fact that their leaflet states that the local Labour party is campaigning on a platform to restore funding to a business that is now in administration and therefore totally unable to deliver any services and that they would never have stopped funding it in the first place.

This company in question is of course South Warwickshire Tourism Ltd, the private company that  operates Shakespeare Country and the Stratford tourist information office. My understanding of the situation is that the council discovered that he company was no longer a viable business, and that it was therefore only a matter of time before public money in the form of grants and payments from Stratford District council ended up being used to pay off it’s creditors rather than provide tourism services to the region. The only option despite the bad timing was therefore to withdraw the funding before it was too late.

A quick review of  the accounts on file at Companies House shows that in 2008 the business had a turnover of 1.1 million pounds, much of which, one would imagine, was public money, and yet still made a loss of £137,196 and in 2009 had a turnover of 1.2 million pounds yet made a loss of £52,000. Most worryingly it also had debts payable within a year of £430,782 meaning that in 2009, 35% of it’s turnover, much of which was no doubt paid from council tax receipts from Stratford District Council, did not go towards promoting tourism, but instead towards paying off debts.

The accounts also point out that Stratford District council is not their only source of income with additional funding from Warwick District Council and payments for a join venture agreement to operate the visitor contact centre in Coventry. So should the withdrawal of Stratford Council’s funding really have had such an impact if the company was well managed?

Perhaps in reality I shouldn’t be surprised by the way the Stratford Labour party wants to throw public money after bad. They are after all representatives of the party who, for the last 13 years, has run the country at a record loss (deficit) and has had to resort to printing money to stop the creditors foreclosing on our country. Maybe they think that  Stratford District council should have cranked up their own printing press to keep funding an insolvent businesses.

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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Nick Clegg, Don't read my lips - read my manifesto

"Don't read my lips - read my manifesto"

  • Amnesty for illegal immigrants
  • Closer ties with Europe
  • Scrap Britain's Nuclear Deterrent
  • Release prisoners from jail
Thanks to my father in law for the idea!

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Thursday, April 8, 2010

People Power - Guest Post by Nadhim Zahawi

Next week will see the launch of our manifesto, an essential plank of which will be People Power. Transferring power away from central government and back to where it belongs, with the people.

Today the Labour Party re-announced their plans to introduce proportional representation, a system that Churchill said created "The most worthless votes for the most worthless candidate", and a fully elected house of Lords. This is their response to the reform of the parliamentary system and their plan to restore trust in politics and politicians. It's their first foray into it for 13 years and one can be forgiven for seeing it’s pre-election announcement as a cynical attempt to win votes. The phrase closing the barn door after the horse has bolted comes to mind.

Labour’s proposal do nothing though, to tackle the major issues that the expenses scandal raised, mainly that constituents have no ability to remove their MP. Instead they have introduced proportional representation (so called PR) which is simply a complicate system that returns the least worst candidate. However our People Power manifesto changes that introducing a right to recall if a Member of Parliament is found guilty of wrongdoing.

So unlike in the current system whereby MPs, who have broken the rules and have been officially sanctioned by parliament and the Standards and Privileges committee, can continue to represent a constituency until the next election, we will give constituents the right to recall their Member of Parliament.

Under a conservative government if an MP is found guilty of any wrong-doing then a right to recall will be offered to his or her constituents. This process will begin with the filing of a notice-of-intent-to recall petition to be signed by at least 100 constituents and submitted to the local returning officers.

A recall petition will then be circulated within the constituency. If this petition has been signed by more than 10% of the electorate (in the case of Stratford by 6,936 people) within 90 days then a by-election will be triggered.

This is a radical change, and a change that is truly needed, it removes the concept of the “safe seat” and makes MPs directly answerable to their constituents over the whole, parliament not just every five years. Most importantly it will force MPs to remember who they are are there to represent first, their constituents.

Nadhim Zahawi is the Conservative Prospective Parliamentary candidate for Stratford-on-Avon for more details see his website at

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Sunday, April 4, 2010

Fire up the Quattro we've got a country to fix

Labour's latest salvo in the on-going poster war seems to have rather backfired. Chosen from over 1,000 activist created posters as part of their so called "People's Poster" campaign, the new poster depicts David Cameron as Ashes to Ashes star Gene Hunt alongside the slogan "Don't let him take Britain back to the 1980s"
So what's the problem with it?
1) Ashes to Ashes isn't actually all that big a show so many people won't get the reference
2) Having said that Gene Hunt is a massively popular character, whose anti-pc down to earth approach has won over the hearts of viewers. Associating David Cameron with him actually makes Cameron cool
3) It only appeals to Labour's base

The third issue, that the poster only appeals to Labour's base highlights one of the issues with this "People's poster" concept and crowd sourcing in general. If you look at all of the examples highlighted as the top entries the majority (I think all but one) were negative posters and personal attacks on either David Cameron or George Osborne. Nothing on Labour's vision for the country or track record.

As @ianamccord on  Twitter pointed out this is why you get an ad agency. An ad agency will design a message and medium that will target your new audience or the audience you want to target, whereas if you ask your existing customers (in this case activists), or even yourself, all you'll get is something that targets the people you are already reaching. Result, you get a poster that enlivens and engages with your base and helps convince no one new of anything.

Of course this has given Conservative activists yet another reason to fire up Photoshop, and has even got  the party officially in on the action. Only in their wildest dreams could CCHQ have compared David Cameron to Gene Hunt without being laughed out of the country, but now Labour has done it for them and meant they can officially compare him to the much loved, no nonsense, get things done man that Gene Hunt is.

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