Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Success !!

In a previous blog I reported that William Hague had refused to turn up to the hustings due this Friday (30/4/10) at the Methodist Church in Richmond (7.30 pm). I repeated this complaint in a letter to the Darlington and Stockton Times (see last blog).
On the doorstep, his constituents started to complain about being taken for granted. As the sitting MP with a large majority, Hague showed his complacency by touring marginal seats the length and breadth of the UK (including Northern Ireland) whilst being unavailable to his Richmond constituents. Even the Red Fox from “Make Cruelty History” could not find him (see the hilarious clip of the Red Fox failing to find anyone at William Hague’s campaign HQ at then scroll down to day 2. The only candidate that met the red fox face to face by the way, was me - see same video where I make my support for the hunting ban clear.)
After my letter was printed in the D&S Times, the Tories started to panic. For weeks they had made it clear that no one from the Conservative Party would be at the 30th April hustings. Then yesterday (Tuesday 27/4/10) a telephone call from the Church minister organising the hustings informed me that Anne McIntosh was going to appear in place of the “far too busy” William Hague. Ms McIntosh was made notorious during the MPs’ expenses scandal for having her gardening paid for (tax free) almost every month from 2004 until the Daily Telegraph rumbled her. Clearly an embarrassment to her Party, perhaps this was something to do to keep her out of the way?
But still, my letter had worked and the Tory stonewall was crumbling. Then the Labour and Liberal Democrat candidates, perhaps a little shaken by the prospect of facing “Rotweiler” McIntosh, complained that she was not a candidate. The Labour Party rang me to persuade me to join their opposition, but frankly I was looking forward to tackling Ms McIntosh about her MP’s expenses.
However, the minister rang me late this afternoon (28/4/10) to say the Tories had changed their mind again and William Hague was now going to come to the hustings after all!
SUCCESS! The Green Party had succeeded in getting Hague to meet his constituents. I rang Elizabeth, my press officer to tell her the good news, only to discover that she had just been told this by her press contacts. It seems that the Tories had informed the Press first, before anyone else.
But the bitter pill comes at the end. William Hague has appeared on TV and radio broadcast by the BBC and others on numerous occasions during this election. Last night on the BBC Look North Election 2010 he was introduced as the “Conservative candidate for Richmond”, a clear breach of broadcasting guidelines as the BBC had not invited me or the other Richmond candidates to the debate. In fact not once during this election has BBC North East invited me to appear on a programme. Now with their last opportunity to redress the balance, none of the broadcast media are going to attend the hustings. Even worse the newspapers are refusing to attend as well. Was that the reason why William Hague contacted the media first? He knows that facing his electorate will be embarrassment for him. So whilst William Hague basks in the spotlight of the media, his political rivals go unreported. This election is supposed to be about you electing your representative to Parliament. It has become a media circus of celebrities, with fair and balanced debate left out in the cold.

Lib Dems Economical with the Truth

Here is a copy of a letter I sent to the Darlington and Stockton Times:

Politicians have been known to be “economical with the truth” in the past, but it concerns me when they do so in your letters page. The Liberal Democrat candidate for Richmond in his letter “Vote for Change” (D&ST 16/4/10) made a number of false claims, which need to be corrected. Mr Meredith, who lives and works in Brussels, used the address of a well-known local Liberal activist on his letter to wrongly claim that Richmond was “OUR great constituency”. Mr Meredith does not live in the Richmond constituency, nor can he vote in the constituency and his sycophantic use of the term “great” contradicts your front-page article of the same day. In that Mr Meredith’s Lib Dem colleague Stuart Parsons quite rightly claims that Richmondshire is being stripped of jobs as the Benefits offices are moved to Northallerton. This deplorable betrayal by Richmondshire District Council hardly suggests greatness.
Secondly, Mr Meredith claims, “Only the Liberal Democrats are committed to changing this unfair electoral system”. Untrue! There are a number of political parties fighting this election on the platform of electoral reform, not least my party, the Green Party.
I have had many years of fighting the unfair electoral system in the Richmond constituency, which has left our councils awash with Tories, (far more than their share of the vote deserves) and with few effective opposition councillors.
Unlike Mr Meredith I do not concede defeat to William Hague, who has been noticeable by his absence in this election, taking voters for granted so much that he has even turned down the traditional “Churches Together” debate by candidates in Richmond on 30th April (Methodist Church 7.30 pm). Mr Hague has a lot to answer for, including his part in the MPs’ expenses scandal and I, as a truly local candidate, will continue to challenge him all the way to Election Day.

Yours sincerely,

Leslie Rowe
Published and Promoted by Leslie Rowe on behalf of the Richmond Green Party, both at 73 Richmond Road, Brompton on Swale, Richmond, North Yorks. DL10 7HF

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

William Hague takes Richmond Voters for Granted

Are you a voter in the Richmond constituency? Feel taken for granted? Well you should be. William Hague is so confident of victory in the Richmond constituency that he has refused a request to debate the issues with fellow candidates. After all, the Darlington and Stockton Times says that voters in the Richmond constituency are so predictable that Hague’s victory is inevitable (D&S Times editorial 9/4/10) and clearly William Hague agrees. So an invitation to the traditional Richmond “Churches Together” electoral debate has been accepted by me on behalf of the Green Party and all the other candidates (Methodist Church 30th April 2010), except for the all too superior Mr Hague.

Why is William Hague so afraid to meet his opponents in public debate? Is he afraid that his twenty-one years of doing little for his constituents in Parliament will come into question? Is he afraid that his support for the Iraq war, exposed by me in the Richmond "Churches Together" debate in the 2005 general election, will come back to haunt him? Or the thousands of pounds of untaxed income he claimed in Parliamentary expenses will actually be discussed by his constituents? Or are there other dark secrets that William Hague does not want to risk coming to light? Has he and Seb Coe been secretly riding that log flume wearing baseball caps again? Or has he been out on the town drinking the 14 pints of beer he boasted he drank a day as a teenager? (BBC News. 8 August 2000, source Wikipedia).

The truth is that William Hague is “frit” as Margaret Thatcher would say: he is too frightened to risk a debate that may expose the shallowness of his policies and the limits of his commitment to the Richmond constituency. He is so wrapped up in his own importance that he believes that he will be swept back into parliament on his reputation alone.

Well, in a 2001 nationwide poll for the Daily Telegraph, 66% of voters considered him to be "a bit of a wally" and 70% of voters believed he would "say almost anything to win votes" (source Wikipedia). Now he is saying nothing to his constituents and refusing to debate with his opponents.

So I appeal to voters in the Richmond constituency: please do not be taken for granted and waste your vote on Hague. Vote with your head and your heart, vote for the Green Party!

Friday, 9 April 2010

Lies, damn lies ... & taxation

We all know that the politicians are going to put up taxes after the election. Doesn’t matter what party you vote for: it is going to happen. The only question you have to ask is: which tax increase would you prefer?

The Labour Government has already announced that they will increase National Insurance contributions for both employers and employees. That means if you are a small business you will be hit twice. The Tories will cut jobs in the public sector by privatising everything, but also put up VAT, of that there is no doubt. They use the usual weasel words of it “not being in their current plans”, but we all know that once in power, VAT will go up to at least 19%.

So Labour will be taxing jobs and Tories will be taxing spending, so what of the Green Party? Well, the Green Party will be taxing bankers. Not just on their excess earnings, but also a Tobin or “Robin Hood” tax on the 97% of financial transactions which are not necessary to buy goods and services. All those swaps, options and other casino banking transactions that got us into this mess in the first place, will have a tiny percentage added to bring billions into the treasury.

So, the choice is yours. Increase NI under Labour? Cut jobs and increase VAT under the Tories or give the Green Party the power to tax the bankers? I know what I would choose, but then I am already going to be voting for the Green Party. How about you?

Monday, 5 April 2010

Budget Cuts or Green Investment?

When is a budget not a budget? The answer is when it does not address the elephant in the room. Whilst Chancellor Darling has tinkered with a few figures, he has failed to address the cause of the recession, the banks.

As Caroline Lucas, Green Party Leader commented:
"This budget is a missed opportunity to put fairness and sustainability at the centre of Britain's recovery plans. After 13 years of a Labour government, this country is more unequal today than it was when Labour came to power. Bold measures are needed, like the higher rate of 50% on incomes above £100 000 per year, abolishing the upper limit on NI contributions, and reinstating the 10p tax band. While we welcome the introduction of a green investment bank, it lacks sufficient resources to create the huge number of jobs that should be at the heart of this approach."

As a former city worker myself, I believe that having nationalised the commercial banks, the Government then stupidly allowed the bankers to pay themselves massive bonuses generated by the Government’s short-sighted policy of “quantitative easing” (printing money to you and me). In casino banking terms making money off QE was a dead cert.

As Green Guru and Green Party Candidate for Cambridge, Tony Juniper wrote in the Independent: "The Chancellor could have acted unilaterally to introduce a Tobin-style tax on international currency transactions, instead of hiding behind the countries which don't want to do it. Reckless bankers have taken so much out of our economy, and it is the poorer people who will feel the most pain in putting it right."

The only real solution Darling proposed for cutting costs was to reduce inefficiencies like cutting the level of sickness in nurses. Who was to provide this miracle cure was not specified, but I'm sure a lot of over-worked nurses would be grateful to know what it is!.
There is scope for savings in the Health Service. Bureaucratic management has doubled since Labour came to power, whereas their productivity has decreased.Taking management and accounting in the NHS back to basics will save thousands of administration jobs, who then could be redeployed to do something more useful.

There is also a very simple way to cut Local Government costs. Look on any Local Authority web site and try and work out what the Chief Executive does. Launching initiatives and giving awards seems to be the sum total of their labours. Yet Local Government Chief Executives have doubled their pay since Labour came to power. So, Alistair Darling, a quick win would be to sack every Local Authority Chief Executive in the country, thereby saving half a billion pounds and hand power back to elected councillors.