Thursday, March 13, 2008

The REAL issue at stake in Euro debate

There has been an awful lot of noise but very little light on the Euro referendum issue. A lot of the public support the Lib Dem idea of a referendum on whether or not to stay in the EU. But it all masks what the debate is actually supposed to be about: the Treaty of Lisbon. Which of course serves the interests of both Tories and Labour since they are, as always, split on the subject.

Most people know very little about it. But it will give MORE power to the people we elect - which is not what most of the media would have you believe. Sceptics should back the Treaty because, for the first time, it sets out a process whereby countries can LEAVE the EU - which has not been possible before.

Read more in the "True Guide to Treaty of Lisbon" (a 14 page PDF) written by Chelmsford's Lib Dem Euro MP Andrew Duff.

It's economic change not immigration that's to blame

This article articulates my reaction to the BBC's "white season" - that it seemed, like the tabloid press, to hype fears by failing to address the real causes of a genuine problem. That is to say, immigration is not to blame for the pressure on public services etc. (He omits to be blunt about who is to blame. Since the gap between rich and poor has widened under Labour, it should be obvious!)

As the author says "the programmes have been focused entirely on the impact of immigration and race on the white working class" i.e. ignoring the main driver of change: market forces, which are not race driven. And goes on to say:

"It wasn't immigration that ripped the guts out of working-class Britain, white and non-white. It was the closure of whole industries, the rundown of manufacturing and council housing, the assault on trade unions, the huge transfer of resources to the wealthy, the deregulation of the labour market, and the unconstrained impact of neoliberal globalisation under both Tories and New Labour. Almost none of that has had a look-in so far in The White Season."

The article has some flaws, as discussed in the comments, but here it is in full:
Seumas Milne: Either Labour represents its core voters - or others will

Non-emergency number to call Essex Police

It should be easier to phone Essex police now when you have a non-urgent query. The new number is 0300 333 4444. This is one of the new numbers that begin 03: they are charged at the same rate as 'landline' 01245- / 020- numbers, so it is included in inclusive minutes packages from phone companies. (Further explanation on the police website.)

Well done Essex Police for keeping costs down for callers, unlike Mid Essex Hospitals who use the fairly expensive 0844 numbers (and, even worse, other organisations including some Government departments who use 0870 numbers).

Nick Clegg is campaigning against these cost burdens as part of the Lib Dem campaign against Faceless Britain.

To avoid 0870 numbers, I often use the excellent SayNoTo 0870 website.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Govt. gets it wrong again but won't admit it

Another breakfast-spluttering moment today. The Government says it wants police, NHS and councils more locally accountable. Yes, they should be and the Lib Dems have been calling for this for years. So why ON EARTH have they spent the last 10 years (and the Tories did the same in the previous 18) taking powers AWAY from local councils? Talk about stating the bleedin' obvious........

We need a fairer voting system for local elections (as they have in Scotland) and changes to the system to make it easier for more people of working age to serve as councillors. Then councils would be more representative of the communities they serve. That, combined with more power for local councils, would lead to better decision making and more openness.

The Lib Dem conference this weekend will debate a plan to make the NHS more accountable locally. See agenda.