Sunday, May 17, 2009

Brew Coup to Unseat Whitby

You may not have noticed it, but at the moment a coup is taking place in Birmingham that will culminate tomorrow at 5.30pm. Randal Brew, a Conservative councillor for Northfield, fed up of the lack of consultation from the current Council Leader Mike Whitby, has challenged him for the top job at the city council as originally broken by the Stirrer. With nearly one in ten unemployed in the city as a result of the economic crisis, Randal plans to deflate us out of recession by cutting 3000 jobs at the City Council, famously the biggest local authority in Europe and twice the size of the European Commission - a plan which is sure to enthuse the nasty party who would, if they chose Brew, look to be going down the route of Thatcher rather than the liberal Conservative traditions of Joseph Chamberlain which made this city what it is today.

The ruling self-styled "progressive partnership" Conservative-Lib Dem coalition (ConDem for short) who run the city are famously opposed to an elected Mayor which would "concentrate too much power in one persons hands".  They prefer the current system which would allow 49 Conservative councillors to elect the leader behind closed doors; presumably the Liberal Democrats will not get a choice.  Meanwhile, Birmingham's 750,000 strong electorate will only be allowed to make our views known next May when a third of the council seats will be up for grabs, which means little is likely to change and in any case we might be slightly distracted by the general election, which is likely to happen on the same day.  Nice to see democracy is alive and kicking in Birmingham, eh?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Targetting Benefit Thieves

I am fed up with the journalists swallowing the MPs excuses that it was "within the rules" What rule allows you to claim expenses on a house not in your constituency or in London? As politicalbetting points out:

1971 Guidelines:
The Additional Costs Allowance reimburses “for expenses wholly, exclusively and necessarily incurred when staying overnight away from their main UK residence…for the purposes of performing Parliamentary duties. This excludes expenses that have been incurred for purely personal or political purposes.”

The Green Book 2009:
Members are cautioned against instances “where they may appear to be vulnerable to criticism or accusations of impropriety.” It also reminds MPs that their conduct should be placed concepts of “selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty, leadership.”
What has gone on is nothing short of benefit fraud. I expect to see MPs fined, imprisoned and generally made and example of. Perhaps a few could appear on the next government benefit fraud hotline campaign with a white circle around them and a finger pointing at them.

Should we be phoning this hotline (0800 854 440) with the evidence coming out and shopping our MPs?