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Tricky Nicky and the Lib Dem Difficulty

I was going to call this post On Liking Nick Clegg but that sounded rather like I might be one of the women in that hen party that had a selfie mob with Ed Miliband’s battle bus last week, so I changed it.

What follows is a bit of a rant that sails a little too close to gender stereotypes and may even be *whispers* non PC.

Nick Clegg is, I think, a reasonable man. If we may judge a man by his wife (and since we may not in normal discourse since Jane Austen I’m giving it a go on a blog) we might say that Miriam Gonzalez Durantez proves that Nick Clegg is not the paper-thin man he has appeared to be during the coalition years. One minute Nick Clegg was joshing with Cameron in a garden in Westminster, the next he had all but vanished.

Miriam Gonzalez Durantez is a lawyer, has written a secret food blog with her children for years, and founded the Inspiring Women initiative where women donate an hour of their time a year to go into schools and talk to girls about their jobs. Does she sound like the kind of woman that would suffer a fool gladly? Who knows. For all that I have a hunch she would not, it’s perfectly possible that for the past five years when she offered her husband cornflakes or porridge he put Dave Cameron on speakerphone to decide.

The only impact I can recall Nick Clegg having in government is the free school meals for primary children under a certain age. I don’t remember the detail because my children, although primary, were too old. How easily we tend to forget policies that don’t apply to ourselves (see my last post regarding the Conservatives). I remember Clegg at a recent Lib Dem conference declaring himself the ‘brakes’ man to David Cameron’s Jeremy Clarkson – it wasn’t exactly a Maverick and Goose Top Gun moment though. Calling himself the No man in government might have been correct, but it left a negative imprint rather than a positive one. Sadly, the overriding impression I have of Nick Clegg in government is that he allowed university fees to rise to £9000 a year.

This morning Clegg popped up on the Today programme on Radio 4 to appeal to people like me. The Public Service workers he said had ‘done their bit’. Too true matey I thought. Too true.

Over the last five years I have been on the same pay scale, part-time, with one 1% pay rise. The monthly money runs out earlier and earlier every month. The job has become more and more stretched as people are made redundant, but their work becomes absorbed into the roles of those of us who are left, who take it and are grateful not to be made redundant.

Also this week I heard a radio interview with a young woman in London. She said to buy a house in the capital she and her friends needed to save between £80,000 – £100,000 deposit. She said that many colleagues were therefore moving out. I moved out of London in 2006 for that very reason – on one public servant salary. It was not news. Many other people were forced to do the same. Even now a form of social cleansing is going on in inner city London with social housing tenants being forced out of their neighbourhoods because rents are just too high. An hour down the road in Essex, the spill over is now affecting the rental market here. Competition for rented accommodation is fierce, with some estate agents charging eye-watering letting fees because people are desperate.

As much as I appreciate what Nick Clegg said this morning, the fact is that in order to be the brakes man on the Conservatives he has stayed in government whilst the economic divisions and social inequalities have sky-rocketed. A lot of the damage is done and it will not be easily repaired. So Nick, you may appeal to me personally this morning, but I have to judge you on your five year record. It’s a shame, because I think you have some good ministers in your team (Vince Cable for example) and the void left in the political centre is a worry, but in all conscience I think over the last five years, at certain points, you would have done better to have applied the handbrake to the coalition coach and made an EMERGENCY STOP.

Still your wife earns plenty and she seems super, so even if you lose your seat on May 7 you won’t suffer too much.

Conservatives: appealing to the selfish miser living in our pockets

Silas Marner is a complicated tale by George Eliot.  Falsely accused of theft, the weaver Marner leaves his hometown to start again, far away.  He lives an isolated existence, weaving and hoarding gold, until like his good name, his money is stolen from him.  Broken, his redemption comes through the lost child Eppie who he finds in the snow and raises alone.

The golden-haired girl’s love for the old miser transforms Silas forever.

The Conservatives speak of money and hard work and fairness, but there is no love in them.  There is no love for the poor, the sick or the frail.  There is no love for those who stumble or fall, or for those who make one mistake, let alone more than one.  The Conservative world is one that Silas Marner the miser would have cherished.  The bribes on the table to the electorate would have gone down well before Eppie arrived.  Right to buy for social housing tenants – check.  Shares in Lloyds for sale cheap to the public – check.  No tax rises – check.

But when love arrives in your life – love for another, the wider community, the world, the planet we live on, the Conservative way ceases to make the least sense of all, except to the grasping miser in your pocket.

Do not listen.

Vote for compassion and equity, not gold and greed.

Countdown: 1059 Days

It seems like a cheap shot to judge parents for losing a child temporarily, even if the parents in question are the Prime Minister and his wife. Haven’t we all done it?

That seemed to be the general tenor of the discussion I caught briefly on the radio this morning after the news broke that the Camerons inadvertently left their 8 year daughter in a country pub after Sunday lunch.

I happen to disagree, because I think that there is a distinct difference between losing a child somewhere unfamiliar and leaving a child somewhere altogether because you returned home without them. I know both happen. I have had the odd heart-hammering moment when I cannot see my child where I thought they should be at a given moment and panic ensues.
It’s not that I don’t understand…

Except… actually, it is that I don’t understand. For a child to go missing, well, that doesn’t require a parent to necessarily act negligently, it can happen in a moment. To drive off without a child, assuming that your partner is with them requires at least one less than entirely responsible action on your part – it’s not just some bad luck.

It requires you to not check out your assumption about your child’s whereabouts with your partner, then get in the car and drive off x 2. Assumptions are a dangerous thing and when both of the Camerons assumed that their daughter was with the other without actually confirming the facts, an error of judgement was committed. Fortunately, no real harm was done.

Sadly though, many of the assumptions that Cameron makes about the UK, it’s people and economy, are also wrong and harm is done every day. Check it out, Mr Cameron. Talk to some real people, people who can’t afford a pint in a pub, let alone a Sunday lunch. Check out some of your assumptions about real people in the UK and the real lives they lead and then see if you can fish the country out of the toilet as easily as you were, thankfully, able to collect your daughter.

I am sure they won’t do that again and their daughter will be safe in their care. It’s us that I’m more worried about. I am now counting down the days to the next General Election, planned for the 7th May 2015. It’s going to be a long wait – 1059 days to be precise. 1059 days unless the sheep bleat and the coalition collapses. I can but hope.

The Dante Meeting starts now

Politics: we’ve definitely done Limbo, the first circle of hell. Whether we now hop out to live happily on the earthly plane, or some of us delve more deeply into the circles of wrath, heresy and betrayal remains to be seen.

Any road up, it should be interesting.

Horseracing: the Musidora Stakes is run today on the Knavesmire. The market will be formed around whether Cecil’s Aviate can stay and if O’Brien’s Cabaret is ready for her seasonal debut. On the book Eleanora Duse has not much chance, but I might side with her at a better price and expect improvement over a trip. To be truthful, I’m not much bothered either way.

For a day in May, there’s a depressing quantity of NH racing about. I might skip York (apart from Eleanora) and save myself for a bit of the flat at Naas tonight. So far I have only looked at the 7.40 maiden and I am hoping for some improvement on better ground by Tiznow’s Purple Land.

After the tumult of the last few days, I will confess that the excitement of four-legged creatures racing has been edged out by the fascination of the race between the two-legged variety. And most engaging to observe now is the unprecedented three-legged race between the curiously similar, yet different, public school boys.

And even curiouser were my eyes disobediently watering throughout. I rarely weep, but Brown’s departure started me off (most unexpected) and only finished with Cameron’s closing the ridiculously reflective black door behind him.

In the new spirit of austerity, I think he should paint it matt.

The Nine Circles of Hell

I hereby declare

This morning: a different perspective

-that I have hardly slept a wink, what with a wisdom tooth giving me jaw ache and a banging migraine behind my right eye (that’s the all-seeing one).

At 4 a.m. I gave up, took some more Migraleve and put my earphone in to listen to Radio 4’s election coverage. I had turned it off around 11 ish when Kate Adie had reported the first result: a Labour victory in one of the Sunderland constituencies. What was noticeable at 4 a.m. was the general raggedness of the studio presenters: the doughty James Naughtie and Caroline someone. At 11 p.m. it was all perky, but by the time my head was raging they too were on their knees in the broadcasting sense. Who can blame them? I think they did a great job with interruptions all the rage and Naughtie saying to one guest: for goodness sake it’s 4.30 in the morning you can say what you think! I did notice we were told it was 4.30 in the morning for about half an hour. Maybe they had hit the wall.

Some old Radio friends were drafted into newsworthy constituencies to mumble their way through results and interviews in the wee small hours. An almost inaudible Jenni Murray with a contrite Hazel Blears in Salford and John Simpson and Jane Garvey despatched across the “kingdom” as Naughtie quaintly referred to the UK. I heard Peter Robinson losing his seat in the Northern Ireland: be careful what you wish for he said, the personable Communities Minister losing his seat in Yorkshire primarily because of boundary changes. The zillion independents dividing their votes between them in Luton South with a certain Esther Rantzen doing the best of them but still losing her deposit. The list was endless…

I had no agenda, with my thumping head I was just hoping for some sleep but I noticed a pattern emerging. Every time a Returns Officer mentioned the BNP candidate in each constituency I went rigid, fearful that they might somewhere end up with a majority, or even a “respectable” showing. As it turned out (so far) the biggest numbers I heard were in the low 3000s, more were in the low 1000s. Then Nick Griffin came on from Barking and announced that the “Liberal Elite” had organised immigration policy in Barking and Dagenham to a) smash up white working class communities and b) keep the BNP out of office. He said in summary: it is full of Africans. The studio were nonplussed. Oona King was offended, politely. I thanked God for the Africans, who I suspect many of whom can’t vote anyway.

The BNP have fielded a candidate in every constituency in this election and the result is it will have been a costly failure. Even as Gordon Brown attempts to gather Little Nick unto his lapels and David enjoys his moral, if not actual, victory I am just glad that my head is a little less painful and that Nick Griffin and his crew have had their butts kicked, if not out of town, at least not into our Parliament.

Another Maxim

So long as one does not despair, so long as one doesn’t look upon life bitterly, things work out fairly well in the end.

The Laki – George Moore

One will bear that in mind.

Take Your Pick

A Gorgon


Endless repeats

It’s hardly a dessert menu is it. The thought of them trying to work together is even worse. They said on the Radio today that Wellington was the last PM to fight a duel. Now that would interesting.

Everything’s on the wonk

I tried, I did, but this sums up my week.

And Gordon’s probably. Drowning not waving. But as for the other two, God help us.

How You Like Me Now?

Well you might ask lads.

At least of one these kids is from round these sides. Big up to Essex. Watch David Letterman ask them to go again – a first on his show.

Shame about the would-be PMs.

“The Maxims of George Moore”

I was given this little book (it measures about 2″x4″) for my birthday last year and it’s been going round with me in my bag and pocket recently. George Augustus Moore was the son of a horse-breeding Irish MP and became a novelist in the realist style in the late 19th Century, this after trying his hand at being a painter in France where he met the Impressionists and was painted by Manet.

I don’t agree with all of George’s Maxims, but some are pretty pertinent, some are truthful and some are amusing.

“I would lay aside the wisest book to talk to a stupid woman.”

“We only recognise a selfishness when it takes a form different from our practice.”

This morning I was struck by these two quotes. Most probably because we are just over a week away from the General Election and the Party Political Machines have gone into Overdrive.

“Practice and principle are never reduced to perfect agreement. One is always marauding into the other’s territory.” Esther Waters

“It is not with truth that we persuade people, but with lies. Everybody is willing to listen to lies.” Evelyn Innes

Very true George.