The double standards and hypocrisy of a party scared of free speech.

Before the last election David Cameron claimed that Lobbying was the next big scandal and that he would clean up Parliament.  What has happened?  The government introduced a lobbying bill (aka the Gagging bill) which does nothing whatsoever to limit the lobbying of government by large wealthy companies and individuals or the revolving door between ministers, advisers and lucrative directorships in private business.  If this is not open corruption it soon will be with government contracts being outsourced not to small and medium sized British firms with a stake in our community but always to large international corporations.  Corporations with dodgy track records[1], some even facing criminal charges while being allowed to lobby for new contracts.

If the lobbying bill does not prevent any of this legalised corruption what does it do.  Well naturally enough it is aimed at inhibiting grass roots organisations, charities and unions from any kind of ‘political activity’ in the run up to the elections – hence its name ‘the gagging bill’.

So we have the situation where newspaper moguls based out side the UK, not paying UK tax, are able to use their papers to brazenly pump what is little more than propaganda at the British people through out the campaigning period.  Wealthy individuals and companies can hand over obscene amounts of money to help the Tories buy the election and yet charities that have to deal with the day to day effects of the government’s policies are restricted from raising their concerns.   So much for free speech.

Ironically the gagging law is so indiscriminate that it inadvertently affects right wing blogs like the Guido Fawkes Blog run by Paul Staines.  I hope he does not mind me pasting the extract below but he sums up the situation much more succinctly than I could manage.

Why are the Tories afraid of free speech?  Well perhaps its because their polices are based on dogma, ideology and, let’s not pussy foot around, ignorance of facts and evidence.  After five years reality has arrived to trump ideology, as it always does, whether it is the ideology of the left or of the right.  The chickens are coming home to roost and the Tories only hope is to continue trying to pull the wool, over our eyes.

Guido Fawkes Gagging bill

You won’t hear me say this very often but I am with Guido on this and won’t be paying attention to any rules and regulations from the government while the right wing press are free to print what they like and the Tory party is indulging in a campaign of half truths, deceptions and outright lies.


Foot note: without anyone noticing and under the eyes of the opposition parties the Tories managed to push through a law that raised party election spending limits from £26.5 million to £32.7 million. That’s a 23% increase when the rest of us are lucky if our income did not go down. The Conservatives did this despite receiving contrary advice from an independent body. The Electoral Commission – that sets the standards for elections – recommended against such an increase for the long campaign (starting on the 19th December). Instead, they advised on a £2.9million increase once the short campaign starts. The Tories entirely ignored this, or, if you want to give them the benefit of the doubt, interpreted it in their own way to mean they should double the number the Electoral Commission suggested and introduce this new law as soon as possible.


[1]  Sodexo, which runs HMP Salford rife with drugs, given £millions contract to run community sentences

[1] The number of deaths linked to G4S employees, some with racial overtones, means this company must have a problem. When will it be held to account?:

[1] Serco chairman to leave troubled government contractor:




A response to John Glen’s Salisbury Journal article about Food Banks

Letter to Postbag
Salisbury Journal

I was shocked, but not surprised, to read John Glen (“View from the Commons” 11thDec) repeat yet again his mantra that the food bank debate had become too politicised. John is a member of a government that has sought to politicise poverty and welfare via a tirade of divisive misinformation, smear and innuendo all aimed at demonising anyone in receipt of benefits. Under cover of this PR campaign the government has implemented an indiscriminate programme of cuts that have disproportionately affected the poor and vulnerable.

The food bank charities and churches do a tremendous job coping with the growing level of food poverty but let’s not confuse that with the motivation of politicians who actually think that food banks are a good thing and would prefer it if government could be absolved from responsibility for the welfare of its citizens.

The issue of food banks and food poverty is intensely political and for some it is a way of diverting attention away from their plans for reducing democratically accountable government to an irreducible minimum.

According to George Osborne we have only suffered 40% of his cuts; a further 60% are planned. If he gets anywhere near achieving this target it will not just be the poor and vulnerable that will be relying on food banks. Many who currently have secure, reasonably paid jobs will find themselves working on zero hour or part time contracts or doing their current job but employed by Serco or G4S for reduced salary and poorer conditions of service.

The government’s austerity plans for the next parliament are unprecedented. It is time for John Glen to come clean and tell us what will be cut and what the consequences will be, apart of course from a massive further increase in the need for food banks.

Finally, what about balancing the books and getting the deficit down?  It is worth pointing out that, while our deficit needs reducing, there is no body of evidence suggesting that we need to reduce it as far or as fast as George Osborne plans, unless of course his plans are ideologically motivated rather than financially necessary.

Colin Lawson


John Glen is clearly seeking to avoid discussing his own government’s responsibility for the increasing need for food banks.   However his attempt to do this and his claim that he wanted to keep politics out of the debate, managed to cause quite a response in the Salisbury Journal. Here is a link to an article about that response: Readers backlash over John Glen’s Feeding Britain report (First published Salisbury Journal web site, Tuesday 16 December 2014 in News )

Here is a link to the offending letters in the Salisbury Journal: MP’s own government has caused the foodbank need_need/


John Glen MP and Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs)

Today, our Salisbury MP John Glen, used valuable parliamentary time to deliver a planted question to puff up David Cameron during PMQs. He did this by cherry picking data to invent a fictional alternative universe in which “we are on a clear path for improving living standards for all”. So here is an attempt to look at the broader picture:

  • Real earnings fell by 1.6% over the past year. That continues the longest drop, of seven consecutive years, since records began in Victorian times.
  • The poorest suffer the highest inflation and so have been the worst affected
  • In April 2014 the bottom 10% of full-time employees earned less than £288 per week.
  • 236,000 jobs – 0.9% of employee jobs – were paid less than the national minimum wage in April 2014.
  • Business investment as a share of national income and productivity is still declining – there has been no re-balancing of the economy
  • The majority of the new jobs are not permanent.
  • The number of people in enforced part-time work has doubled to 1.3 million.
  • There has been an explosion in artificial self-employment.
  • David Cameron’s PMQs reply included a comment on exclusivity in zero hours contracts but there was clearly no intention to restrict the explosion in the number or impact of zero hours contracts.
  • Our debt fueled housing market is overvalued and running out of steam and only benefited better off house buyers and buy for rent landlords.
  • After four years in office, the budget deficit and national debt are growing, in fact the structural deficit is now the largest in the EU – this is a core failure of Osborne’s economic strategy
  • Cuts in real pay and growing low-wage employment have meant lower tax receipts and greater demand for benefits hence the rising deficit. Almost all the pain of benefit cuts for the most vulnerable has come to nothing, causing a lot of hardship for little gain as far as cutting the deficit is concerned.
  • David Cameron’s “red lights are flashing” is clearly an attempt to preemptively blame the world economy for the certainty that his government will fail to meet its fiscal targets for 2014-15
  • Finally, the financial crisis was not caused by the cost of the welfare state or by disabled people, or by EU benefits tourism, or by immigrants or by health tourism or Polish plumbers. The crisis wasn’t even caused by the Labour party. The crisis was caused by banks mainly in the US but also the UK who sold mortgages to people who could not afford them. They then repackaged the dodgy mortgages, disguised them, and sold them onto other banks throughout the world. They did this on an industrial scale. This was dishonest and motivated by the ‘greed is good’ ethos. When they were found out the banks started to collapse – Lehman Brothers in the US and Northern Rock here in UK.  To prevent a whole scale financial disaster the tax payer had to fork out billions of pounds to save the rest of the banks.
  • It is deplorable that the Tories will go to any length to blame anyone other than the banks for the financial crisis but it is shameful that the main thrust of their rhetoric and spin has been to try and shift the blame and the consequences on to those least able to defend themselves.

“Austerity means punishing the poor for the mistakes and greed of the rich”


Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings, 2014 Provisional Results (Office for National Statistics):

Poor lose, and rich gain from direct tax and benefit changes since May 2010 – without cutting the deficit: (London School of Economics 16th Nov 2014)

Working for Poverty: The scale of the problem of low pay and working poverty in the UK (The interim report from the Living Wage Commission):

What is happening to spending on social security? (Institute for Fiscal Studies, Nov 2014):

Austerity has clearly failed. So why don’t they ditch it? Falling incomes are fuelling the deficit and costing votes. But Cameron is looking after other interests. (Guardian 19th Nov 20914):

Five reasons to sell sterling (Enonomist Nov 2014):

It has become clear that a vote for the Tories is not a vote for an EU referendum but a vote to leave the EU

The Tories were warned that it was a mistake to try and out-ukip UKIP or try to appease their own right wing by following a UKIP agenda – they ignored that advice and are now suffering the consequences.  (Ironically the resulting Tory message seems to have been:  “Ukip is right, don’t vote for them”).

David Cameron has demonstrated that he is incapable of renegotiating any reforms to the EU. His jingoistic, inflammatory, confrontational approach to the EU means that even our friends will not support us. He manages to get himself into situations that are obviously untenable.  Instead of joining forces with mainstream reality based European parties he has aligned us with ultra right wing parties that are inimical to “British values”.  There is little chance he will be able to deliver any “reforms” and so, in his own words, he will be recommending an exit from the EU.

Tearing up our Human Rights Act:  In addition, the Tory plan for tearing up our Human Rights Act (the modern descendant of the Magna Carta) is incompatible with our membership of the EU and so again the result will be a UK exit from the EU.

With the recent removal of the moderating influence of the only remaining members of the Cabinet with any semblance of rationality, the Tories are now under the control of the far right wing of their party with its scary mix of little Englanders and political fundamentalists. They are people who are clearly capable of putting their prejudices, ideologies or just plain ignorance well ahead of the interests and welfare of the British people.  Under these circumstances we must assume that a vote for the Tories will be a vote for an EU exit.

Further, whether or not the Tories win the next election, there is a real possibility that Cameron will be replaced by someone who is recklessly right wing and anti EU. The Tories might even be in coalition with UKIP.

The conclusion must be that, there is a real risk that either by default, error or deliberate action, the Tories will engineer an inevitable EU exit for the UK.  A referendum could be superfluous.

Under the circumstances we need an urgent debate on the consequences of a UK exit from the EU. In fact we need a full EU debate before the election because a vote for the Tories could easily be a vote to leave the EU.


Here in Salisbury our own MP, John Glen, is on record  (Salisbury Journal 17th Oct 2014) as saying that he will wait until he sees what concessions we can get before deciding whether to vote to leave the EU.  But I suggest that this is untenable.  There is now a real possibility (given their track record) that a Tory government will be unable to negotiate any concessions at all.  It is therefore incumbent on John Glen to tell us a number of things:

  • How will he vote if there are no concessions from the EU
  • What are the make or break concessions that he requires if he is to vote to stay in the EU.
  • What does he think will be the consequences of a UK withdrawal from the EU.

These questions need to be answered before the general election so that his constituents can make an informed decision.

To Leave the EU would be one of the riskiest things we have ever done with potentially catastrophic consequences for ordinary people – these questions cannot be side stepped.

NB: John also used his article to try and blame the Labour Party for giving away all our rights to the EU but, as he knows, the right to freedom of movement for workers dates back to before the Treaty of Rome 1957 and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher gave her approval when she signed up to the 1986 Single European Act.

“Spain’s young unemployed take temporary refuge in Britain, helping to man its economy, and elderly Britons get to retire on Spain’s beaches – this is free movement – you can’t have one without the other.  Who is going to tell the millions of Brits throughout Europe that they must ‘go home’ “.  Hugh Brady

“On every count, despite its frustrations, of which there are many, despite the reforms we need, which are many, we are far better off in the European Union than outside.” John Major, Nov 2014

Question: Eurosceptics worry about lost national sovereignty by being in the EU but are enthusiastic about blindly joining international trade agreements like TTIP which give up our sovereignty to unelected corporate lawyers and are even more enthusiastic to sell off all our utilities and infrastructure to international corporations and foreign governments. Is this reasoned?  Is it rational??  More on TTIP here. More on the sale of UK to the rest of the world here.


UPDATE:(26th Nov):  In a recent speech in London to the Eurosceptic Business for Britain group, Owen Paterson (potential future Tory leader) argued in favour of a manifesto commitment to invoke article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty immediately after the next election. This would give formal notice of Britain’s intention to quit the EU and would instigate a UK exit from the EU irrespective of the results of a 2017 referendum.  More evidence that a vote for the Tories is not a vote for a referendum but a vote to leave the EU.

UPDATE (7th Nov 2014): The latest debacle over the EU surcharge is just another example of how Cameron’s jingoistic, inflammatory, blustering and confrontational approach just gets himself into a position from which he eventually climbs down, harming even further the UK’s negotiating position: “UK to pay £1.7bn EU bill in full despite Osborne’s claim to have halved it”

UK media accept Osborne’s spin. Rest of world gets truth “U.K. Fails to Win Budget Payment Cut as EU Defies Cameron:


Germany exposes Tory anti Euro mythology by going through the normal channels without the need for any confrontation or inflammatory rhetoric: “EU migrants can be refused benefits” – ECJ:

Is immigration a reason for Britain to leave the EU? By John Springford  (CER Oct 20132):


David Cameron’s timetable for reform in Europe ‘impossible’ – EU experts cast doubt over prime minister’s ability to secure changes to European law before referendum on membership:

Cameron to leave EU


Government misuse of rhetoric and spin is not a victim free activity – ask the disabled

Here is a list of Media articles about negative rhetoric on disability and welfare by the UK Government (Source: Disabled People Against Cuts Media reporting on Disability and Disability Hate Crime Issue 1, May 2014):

Lies, damned lies and Iain Duncan Smith. The way the work and pensions secretary manipulates statistics is a shaming indictment of his department’s failings:

Full Fact asks watchdog to intervene over inaccurate incapacity benefit reporting:

After Shapps’ bad data, the DWP is back in the spotlight:

One of the most persistent problems in the debate over welfare reform has been the misrepresentation of fraud in the benefits system.:

David Cameron accused of “scaremongering” over health tourism:

Disabled challenge minister over job support boast:

MPs set to quiz minister over ‘misleading’ benefit stats:

DWP lies to cover its tracks on mobility cuts:

Skivers v strivers: the argument that pollutes people’s minds:

Mythbuster: Tall tales about welfare reform:

Popular attitudes towards spending on welfare claimants are often based on ignorance and prejudice, fed by politicians and the media:

Research shows ‘climate of fear’ whipped up by media stories on benefit fraud delay or stop people in need from getting help:

Middlesbrough study reveals generations of welfare scroungers are a myth:

Is £600m really being paid in disability living allowance to people who don’t qualify?:

Exposed: the myth of a ‘culture of worklessness’:

Stats, spats and spads – The coalition government is showing a worrying disregard for data:

New government-backed benefit fraud campaign could expose disabled people to hostility and violence in their own communities:

Report into abuse of statistics by the Department for Work and Pensions:

Disabled People Are Being Victimised, Vilified And Pushed Out Of Society:

UK Statistics Authority Correspondance – Statistics on Disability Living Allowance:—correspondence/correspondence/email-from-ed-humpherson-to-donna-o-brien—110414.pdf

The Phones4U scandal is just one more example of the screw everyone capitalism so prevalent in our current financial elite

This is an outrageous scandal:

“Phones4U was bought by the private equity house, BC Partners, in 2011 for £200m. BC then borrowed £205m and, having saddled the company with vast amounts of debt, paid themselves a dividend of £223m. Crippled by debt, the company has now collapsed into administration.

The people who crippled it have walked away with nearly £20m million, while 5,600 people face losing their jobs. The taxman may also be stiffed on £90m in unpaid VAT and PAYE. It’s like a version of 1987’s Wall Street on steroids, the difference being that Gordon Gecko wins at the end and everyone shrugs and says, “Well, it’s not ideal, but really we need guys like him.”

“This sort of utterly amoral screw-everyone capitalism has become much more prevalent in the last 15 years. Our financial elite is now totally out of control. They learned nothing from the crisis, except that the rest of us were stupid enough to give them a second chance.”

Source:  Alex Proud Daily Telegraph 22 Sep 2014

Sooner or later people will snap.  You can only fool some of the people for some of the time. When the current debt fueled pseudo boom goes bust and we find that there is no way that ordinary people can bail out the financial elite yet again, all hell will break lose.


Rate fixing, money laundering, misselling of a wide range of financial products, sub-prime loans, credit default options,  huge losses,  continuing need to be bailed out by tax payers, illegal business with tyrants, forcing small and medium businesses to go broke, the list is endless. Here is a very small selection of the financial scandals of the last few years (remember virtually no individual has been reprimanded let alone charged for any of the crimes that have been committed – they just take us for fools):

10 Biggest Banking Scandals of 2012:

Barclays fined £38m for putting clients’ assets ‘at risk’:

Barclays, HSBC and RBS among 13 banks facing fraud claims in US:

The LIBOR scandal – The rotten heart of finance:

Help To Buy – the next big scandal / disaster??:

HMRC boss Dave Hartnett receives a life time achievement award for “Services to Corporate Tax Avoidance”:

“If You’re Not Outraged, You’re Not Paying Attention.”

Scotland votes “Better together” but already small minded little Englanders and political opportunists are undermining reconciliation and constitutional reform

IndeyreftimeforchangeThe relief south of the border after Scotland’s NO vote was palpable, but no sooner we begin to relax than small minded little Englanders and political opportunists are undermining reconciliation and constitutional reform. Just when we need some real Statesmen to put the interests of the UK above short term political gain we find that the same politicians that got us into this mess are rooting to do more of the same.

David Cameron’s very first speech after the independence referendum demonstrates that, confronted with a major constitutional crisis, he intends to play a divisive, narrow, party political game with little concern for unifying the nation.

It is clear that any new constitutional arrangement needs to be fair to the countries of the UK. It is also clear that the Westminster establishment totally cocked up its response to the independence referendum with last minute panic and promises, leaving them with a multitude of problems. However the excessive use of rhetoric that plays to English nationalism in an attempt to turn the shambles into a short term political advantage is clearly playing with fire.

It is pretty clear that Nationalism has the potential to become very ugly.  And we already know that youDailyMailindeyref cannot out ukip UKIP so please let’s not try.

It is essential that we tone down the nationalist and xenophobic rhetoric from all sides.


Before the referendum there was no shortage of encouragement from the English to be first and foremost British.

The Scots have reasserted their Britishness, time for England to do the same.

‘Union’ means putting UK before England – just as Scots voted for UK before Scotland.

On the day after the referendum result I suspect there are many NO voters already regretting their decision.

UPDATE:  Looks like anger is beginning to develop among both yes and no voters – if Cameron and the likes of discredited former ministers Liam Fox and Owen Paterson, plus the Tory media, continue to use jingoistic rhetoric for short term political gain they will only inflame the situation – with predictable consequences.


Note re devolved government in England: Given that public services are being out sourced to private companies like G4S, Serco, Atos etc., there will soon be no need for devolved government in England. We have already given up sovereignty over our utilities to foreign companies.  Energy –  France and Germany, Docks – China, Water – China, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia etc., etc.    Our schools are being taken over by business men and religious zealots, exempt from all local accountability.   The running of the NHS is being taken over by a combination of accountancy, firms, management consultants and US private health care companies.  Those of us who care if our nuclear power stations are run by the Chinese through stupendously expensive contracts that will be legally and irrevocably binding on all future UK governments might need to ponder whether or not Scottish MPs voting on English law is the most urgent threat to our national sovereignty.



Depressing to see Mail on Sunday (21st Sept 2014) still mired in the same old xenophobic tripe (unfortunately the enthusiasm for thoughtful debate displayed by the Scots did not rub off on the Mail and its readers):





Looks like Tories just might be about to self distruct

After four years the chickens are coming home to roost.  The Tories went into the last election trying to convince everyone that they were a reformed party – a party for the environment, a caring, compassionate conservatism.  They failed to convince the electorate, did not get a majority and did not win the election. (They have not won a general election for more than 20 years). However, with the support of the Lib Dems, the Tories ditched their manifesto promises and implemented a set of catastrophic policies that are doing lasting damage to our country.   Most of those policies were not in their manifesto, are not based on evidence or reasoned debate, have no electoral mandate and are based on simple minded, delusional, right wing ideology supported by a media prepared to disseminate lies and propaganda .   Those policies are now falling apart and we see the nasty party for what it is.

In particular, Lynton Crosby’s influence was always going to be poisonous and the articles below give a flavour of the effect of his influence.

David Cameron clearly stands for nothing apart from winning the next election- he has no vision and no morals – a PR man and nothing else.

Reality always trumps ideology and you can’t fool all the people all the time, so things were bound to start going wrong but with Lynton Crosby in the background the fall out might be quite spectacular.


UPDATE 28th August:  The Tories’ attempt to out ukip UKIP was always going to fail:

Net migration to UK soars to 243,000:

Douglas Carswell defects to UKIP:




Snubbed ministers to ‘rough up’ PM:

David Cameron will LOSE election blasts Ken Clarke after Tory spin doctors ‘attempted to silence him’:

No 10 lied to BBC to keep me off-air, says Ken Clarke:

And also see: You won’t hear the Chancellor boasting about the biggest drop in living standards since the war:

Chasing the Ukip vote could kill the Conservative Party, claims Tory moderniser, Lord (Daniel) Finkelstein:



When Lynton Crosby was first appointed, our local MP, John Glen, tweeted the message below.  I wonder if John is regretting his enthusiasm yet.

John Glen Lynton Crosby










Is John Glen MP still enthusiastic about Lynton Crosby?:


John Glen MP: It’s time to take party politics out of the food bank debate

John Glen, MP for Salisbury, has received some favourable comments for his call to take party politics out of the food bank debate (See Guardian article here and his own Conservative Home article here.  But this damascene conversion to the virtues of evidence based, rational, non partisan debate is pretty galling given his own party’s track record. 

Continue reading “John Glen MP: It’s time to take party politics out of the food bank debate”

Disgraced ex Cabinet Minister, Liam Fox, speaks at Salisbury Literary Club Dinner (Salisbury Literary Political Dining Club)

Its a funny old world. The Tories are always keen to condemn those who take advantage of the tax payer except when it is one of their own that is doing the ripping off.  So let’s not forget that the Liam Fox invited as guest and speaker by the Salisbury Literary Club / Salisbury Literary Dining Club (which I assume is a local Salisbury Conservative Party fund raising group) is also the same disgraced Liam Fox, ex Defence Minister, who had to resign to avoid further investigation into his abuse of the tax payer’s trust.

Continue reading “Disgraced ex Cabinet Minister, Liam Fox, speaks at Salisbury Literary Club Dinner (Salisbury Literary Political Dining Club)”