The Wilted Rose

Charting Labour meltdown 2007-2010

Suspend the National Minimum Wage? NO.

Julie Hepburn, the next MP for Cumbernauld, Kilsyth & Kirkintilloch East, highlights the scandalous and outrageous proposal by the British Chamber of Commerce’s Mr Frost (or is that Scrooge?) to suspend (or freeze) the National Minimum Wage.  

Frost isn’t very festive when he makes this suggestion.  While businesses (particularly those in the retail sector) are suffering during the current recession, it is their workers who are facing uncertainty and hardship. Making a profit is important to firms, but business ethics is just as important to society at large – and the individual workers who would be affected by an unethical suspension of the NMW. 

Freezing (or Frosting) the National Minimum Wage would equal a reduction of low income workers’ wages in real terms.  With inflation and the current low returns on savings, wages should be increased – not frozen. Also this proposal would affect women, many of whom work in minimum wage retail jobs, disproportionately – so it would be sexist.

Let’s see whether Labour, which as the Bishops rightly said is “beguiled by money”, caves into Mr Frost’s ludicrous demands.

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31 December, 2008 Posted by | economy, Labour, Labour Party, politics | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How to lose the Catholic vote

The Catholic vote is a very important bloc in key seats like Crewe and many in the north and midlands.

I am sympathetic to Catholics – having many good neighbours, colleagues and friends who are RC. I abhor sectarianism.

People’s personal lives are between them and God. While not wishing to debate the issue of homosexuality, I would caution the Tories not to disrespect the Pope – who is, after all, enunciating core Catholic beliefs – as a number of Tory bloggers have done.

Iain Dale should know better than his comment that the Pope should join the BNP – I’m sure a few Labour candidates in marginals will use that quote on leaflets or at least on the doorstep in Catholic areas.

The Half-Blood Welshman has a fascinating post on the subject:
Http://thehalfwelshman.blogspot.com (link on the sidebar to the left).

The abortion vote helped the Tories win Crewe and many Catholics elsewhere are considering voting Tory, maybe for the first time.

Don’t throw that away with anti-Catholic or anti-Christian fury, whatever your views. Better to have kept quiet. If you lose the Catholic vote, in a hung parliament, you will need those DUP and SDLP votes, after all!

23 December, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 1 Comment

Part privatising the Royal Mail? Whatever next?

Brussels ‘sleeper’, Lord Mandy of North Greenwich, is doing the EC’s bidding again. A europhile (after the ’83 Labour manifesto, that is), he is now rubbing salt into the wound after the earlier deregulation of UK postal services which allowed private sector vultures to pick off the best postal business.

If these vultures had agreed to take on less profitable post too, neoliberals like I would have accepted the deregulation but thanks to the EC and the post vultures, we all have only one daily delivery and if we are lucky before lunchtime.

Not content with trying to make postmen walk faster (which threatens a strike THIS FRIDAY), a report to Mandy suggests a ‘strategic partnership’ with another (EU, of course) company.

This will be part-privatisation by the back door, though the consummate spinmeister denies it, and will be a complete Labour disaster that will no doubt spark long, lingering strikes that will damage Royal Mail’s reputation even more – and, worse still, demoralise further its hard-working, underpaid and excellent staff.

16 December, 2008 Posted by | betrayal, Labour, politics, privatisation, privatising, Royal Mail | Leave a comment

Justice for Rhys at last.

The innocent 11-year-old Rhys Jones who was gunned down so brutally in Liverpool las year, a boy murdered who highlighted to us all that crime had spiralled out of control, has finally got justice.

The conviction of an 18-year-old gun-toting hoodie thug will be a crumb of comfort for Rhys’ parents but will never make up for the loss of their child.

It’s clear that, even now, Labour still has not got a grip of crime, gun and knife related in particular, and that many more young lives will be lost. Where will the justice be for them?

16 December, 2008 Posted by | gun crime, Labour, Liverpool, Rhys Jones, UK | Leave a comment

It will be working-class Northern women who do for Brown

The great Kathy Staff has sadly died.  We never found out the politics of her character on Last of the Summer Wine, but I’m willing to hazard a guess that Nora Batty (the fictional character, not the actress) was  a Tory and that she would have had none of Gordon Brown’s financial & economic nonsense – and that she would have seen our hapless PM with one swoop of her broom.

Ms Yvette Cooper isn’t a Northerner herself: she’s a public schoolgirl who neither understands economics (despite – or because of – being Chief Secretary to the Treasury Numbskulls), nor has any of the financial nous that characterise tough Northern ladies like Mrs Batty.

Labour is doing very badly with women in the opinion polls (around 10 – 12 points (or more) behind the Tories).  In particular, Labour’s advantage in the North is not as good as it should be, and the explanation is quite simple.

In earlier posts, I highlighted (a) how Northern & Scots men aged 35-55 and on benefits were flocking back to Labour; and (b) why the Tories need a Northern strategy.  I managed to offend Kerron Cross (and no doubt other people) with my Rab analogy, but I was just trying to make a point and I apologise if anyone else was offended.

More recent opinion polls have generally confirmed the trend, and though there are no specific figures, it’s fair to say that in the North (whether we are talking about Sunderland, Darlington, parts of Yorkshire, Cheshire, Lancashire, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, or wherever) Labour will not have as easy a time electorally as one would expect.  Particularly in Greater Manchester, given plans to ignore the congestion charge referendum and press ahead with the scheme.

Once the Tories get their economic strategy – and their Northern strategy, just as importantly together – they will be able to pick off a number of key Northern marginal seats largely on the back of working-class Northern women. Let me empahasise that I’m not characterising Northern women as Nora Batty, but my point above is that she would have seen off Brown with her broom.

And when it comes to the next general election, it will be working-class Northern women who do see off Brown – with one swoop of their metaphorical broom, the vote that women fought so hard to win – and they can make a difference to all our futures by ousting this dreadful Labour Government.

While some sections of the electorate have fallen for the Labour tax con and the apparent “Save the World” reincarnation of Brown, working-class Northern women have not.  It was they (and particularly Catholic women) who, more than any other group, gave Labour the boot in Crewe & Nantwich by switching to the brilliant Tory candidate Edward Timpson.  I remember one such lady on the doorstep in Crewe who told how Brown’s economic policy, including rising food and petrol prices and the abolition of the 10p tax rate, were affecting her and her family – and why she was voting Tory for the first time.

One key element of the Tory Northern Strategy (and their broader economic strategy), therefore, has to be to connect with working-class Northern women in such a way as to reassure them that, while Brownian economic policy means debt and disaster, the Tories’ means prosperity and plenty.

15 December, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Child A died, failed by Doncaster Council

A report on Labour-run Doncaster Council’s website reveals that, despite ten referrals, they let a ten-month-old boy, Child A, who was ‘at risk’, die.

When will this shambles of badly managed and incompetent social services end, or will Balls try to divert attention again and blame hard-working social workers for Labour’s systemic failure?

11 December, 2008 Posted by | Child A, Doncaster, kids, Labour, politics, social services | Leave a comment

Woolworth’s closing down sale

The dreadful announcement, and Peer Steinbruck’s accurate assessment of Brown’s economic policy, again demonstrates how Labour has thrown away the golden economic legacy they inherited from the Tories.

The fact that Woolies’ 30,000 jobs are at threat and we are now in economic decline shows why Labour must be booted out – and the sooner, the better.

10 December, 2008 Posted by | economy, Labour, politics, Woolworths | 1 Comment

Why the Tories need a “Northern Strategy”

The latest Populus poll for the Times has Con 39%, Lab 35%, LD 17%.

But, as the detailed figures show, amongst men it’s Con 38%, Lab 35% but women are Con 41%, Lab 32% – with the Tories around 20 points ahead in the South, Wales/SW, and the Midlands, and Labour well ahead in the North and Scotland.  As a writer in the Salisbury Review observed a few years back, the Conservatives need a “Northern Strategy” (á la Nixon’s phenomenally successful Southern Strategy).

I’ve argued before that it’s less a Brown bounce, than an Osborne bust.  The Osborne effect, but also worryingly more widely the malaise that has fallen the Tories on matters economic (and especially fiscal), has allowed Labour to claw back a considerable portion of its former support.

Whenever the General Election comes, and Brown must surely be weighing up his chances next spring with this latest ‘vindication’ (or vindictive?) poll, the Labour Party is going to offer 4-5 years of the same as we’ve had over the last 11.  And that is not good for Britain – a surefire way of breeding more Karen Matthewses and more tragedies like the death of Baby P.

Ed Balls (with Mandy spinning away in the background, doing more damage than even he did in Brussels) has carefully transferred the blame to the hapless Sharon Shoesmith.  Yes, it happened on Ms Shoesmith’s watch – and, whilst it was the murderers who killed Baby P, it wasn’t social workers (who are being increasingly demonised in the name of political expediency, exacerbating the recruitment and retention crisis in the profession).

It’s partly ideological, but it’s also systemic, and it’s a polical failure (as Camila of Kids Company has argued), which means that many Social Services departments are rotten to the core.  But, at the end of the day, the buck stops with the even more hapless Government and the clearly out-of-his depth Mr Balls. 

At the same time, Labour looks in a better position in the polls when it has overseen 11 years of economic (eventually after the apparent but false ‘boom’) and social (drip-drip-drip) collapse. 

It’s time for a change but a large part of the population doesn’t yet realise it.  But then, whatever happens, as they used to say in the States, the “welfare checks [sic] will keep comin’.”

One way that the Tories could kickstart a “Northern Strategy”, which is doable as they won the otherwise inpregnable Labour stronghold of Crewe & Nantwich in May this year, is to bring back David Davis who appeals to Northerners like the Oxbridge boys don’t.  The next step, just as they did beautifully in Crewe, would be to tell the people of the North what the Tories can do for them economically and socially.  Voilá.

9 December, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Sir Reg Empty’s ‘new force’ in NI politics

I recognise the historical importance of the Ulster Unionist Party. While Enoch Powell left the Tories to join the UUP, if alive today he would perhaps be puzzled by the realignment of the two parties.

Cameron was in Belfast for the Tory/UUP conference. His speech no doubt excited many but is a break with the bipartisanship which annoyed many in the past. He called for ‘a new force in Northern Irish’ politics.

The rise and fall of Sir Reginald Empty, the UUP leader, who looks and sounds a bit like the Neil Kinnock of Ulster politics, awaiting the next leader of his party, talked about forming a ‘pro-union aspirational party’ in opposition to ‘United Ireland aspirational parties’.

It wasn’t the Sheffield rally for Sir Reg, but I wish to point out that the union is a reality, not an aspiration.

8 December, 2008 Posted by | Cameron, Conservatives, Northern Ireland, politics, Reg Empty, UUP | Leave a comment

Why the Matthews case outlines all that is wrong with society

With the media obsession with this case, e.g. last night’s emergency Panorama, it is worth considering the wider implications.

A feral mother, whose child is a source of welfare, and her ‘partner’ (a PC term for living in sin or fornication that I despise) staged a kidnapping to become celebrities and raise money.

Is this not the worst type of ‘criminal entrepreneurship’?

They’re off to prison and poor Shannon, what future for her?

This case outlines all that is wrong with our broken society, its welfare dependency and the celebrity created by the commercial media and the tabloids. Shame on you all – you are all as culpable as Mrs Karen Matthews.

Update: The Last Boy Scout has a post on the Shannon Matthews case in which he highlights that it proves that Britain is broken.

5 December, 2008 Posted by | celebrity, dependency, media, Shannon Matthews, welfare | | 1 Comment

Surely Maria Gatland should be treated as a hero, not with “shock”?

Cllr Maria Gatland has been forced to resign as a Conservative Cabinet Member in Croydon Council, because she was in the IRA until 1972 when she became disillusioned, left, and wrote a book.  She was later under threat of death.

As an Ulsterman, I think she should be treated as a hero, not with “shock” by her out-of-touch colleagues, because she spoke out against the IRA and risked her life.  She made a mistake by joining when she was a kid (over 36 years ago). 

It just goes to show what out-of-touch zombies many Councillors are that they are worried about “what the voters think”, when many voters will in fact realise that Cllr Gatland is a hero in that she stood up against the IRA.  And who hasn’t made a mistake when they were a kid?  Should every youthful folly be held against everyone?

Although I have been accused by a member of the Northern Ireland Tory Party of being a ‘Protestant supremacist’, I am a great believer in equality in diversity.  In other words, while people should be treated equally, whatever their religion, gender (male/female), or race/ethnicity, they are still different and such diversity should be recognised.  Clearly, Cllr Gatland’s diversity is not being recognised – with her experiences, she no doubt brings a lot to her role as a Councillor that should be valued, not sneered at.

3 December, 2008 Posted by | politics | , , | 5 Comments

Haringey resignations: they should be prosecuted: but it’s endemic

Meehan, Shoesmith and Santry – Leader of Haringey Council, its Director of Children’s Services, and its Children’s Services Cabinet Member – have been forced to go following a scathing independent report into the murder of Baby P. 

As Balls’ Tory shadow, Michael Gove MP, has just pointed out on Sky News, the same authority was given a “clean bill of health” in a report a year ago.  But that there are other failings in a full report that he has seen  but which has not been made public in this climate of Government secrecy and cover-up. 

Had Cameron not “gone ballistic” at PMQs a few weeks back, Labour would probably have covered up this report and allowed Meehan et al to cling on to their jobs…

Gove can’t say what is in the report as the Met would probably arrest him on a trumped-up charge. 

Why has the Department for Public Prosecutions and the Met not started legal proceedings against those who have resigned, given their culpability in the death of this child?  These people should be arrested, not Damian Green.

And so it goes on.  Ed Balls should reconsider his position and resign – after all, it’s happened under his watch and one of his fellow Ministers was tipped off some time ago by a “whistleblower”.

Kids Company’s Camila Batmangehelidjh has outlined on Sky how there should be a “structural review” of children’s services across the country. The “chronic underfunding” of social services departments and a “lack of leadership of politicians” highlights what she describes as a “political flaw” and which needs a new structure.  Individual social workers should not be vilified, she explains, as it is a flawed and badly structured system across many Social Services departments.

Ms Batmangehelidjh, who is one of the most respected “social entrepreneurs” in helping disadvantaged and vulnerable children, is absolutely spot on.  It has been clear that this is an endemic problem due to the “political flaw” that Ms Batmangehelidjh outlines.

We don’t need any more weasel words from Ed Balls or his ilk – we need action, for the sake of our kids – put in the resources centrally and sort out the structure in these social services departments.  And, most of all, change the “ideology” that Tim Montgomerie bemoans:

Perhaps the most frightening aspect of the whole affair is that the fate of Baby P is the claim that all the usual procedures were followed, all the boxes ticked, all the shibboleths observed. There is ideological problem represented by a hostility to adoption by social workers and not only in Haringey.

This proves that it is the system that it is at fault – if we don’t deal with this “political flaw”, while we are fussing about trying to fix the banks, then we as a society will be a lot worse off.  And, for the sake of kids like Baby P, we owe it to them to resolve this endemic “political flaw” and ideology as soon as possible.

1 December, 2008 Posted by | economy, Gordon Brown, kids, Labour Party, politics, social breakdown, social services | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment