to have had a car crash during this election:
From the Guardian, interesting (my bold stuff):
David Cameron’s promise of transparent politics has been called into question after it emerged that Conservative candidates are systematically refusing to answer questions about their personal views.
The non-partisan network Democracy Club helps individual activists to come together to find out more about how their own prospective MPs would use political power. During the months ahead of the general election the organisation has built up the most comprehensive database of candidates ever compiled, and in the last few days the activists have been harnessing this to ask would-be parliamentarians where they stand on everything from CCTV cameras to gay parenting.
More than 1,000 of the candidates have now responded in full, and initial survey responses have been made available on-line at TheyWorkForYou.com. But there is striking variation in the degree of participation by politicians of different stripes.
With several days still left to fill in the forms, a clear majority of Green and UK Independence party candidates have already responded in full, as well as an impressive 43% of Liberal Democrats. Labour’s response rate lags behind these parties at 27%, but is still well ahead of the Conservatives – who have responded in only 6% of cases.
Pressed by the Guardian to explain why Tory candidates were proving so coy, Seb Bacon, the founder of Democracy Club, cited some of the correspondence that club members had been receiving. Many Conservatives had explained their failure to answer using an identical phrase: “Surveys like this can often simplify policies too far and might not properly represent the nuances of party policies.”
The stock response stood in contrast to the personal emails that many club members wrote to the candidates in requesting their views.
The apparently coordinated refusal of Cameron’s Conservatives to answer the questions will stir memories of the early days of New Labour, during which the party’s high command expressly forbid candidates to take part in newspaper surveys. Bacon said he was concerned that the Tories might be missing whole point of Democracy Club: “This is not a question of some media survey, but a matter of individual constituents using our network to test the individual views of the people who want to represent them. The questions we have posed are expressly not about party policy, but about where individuals stand.”
The revelation will be particularly embarrassing for the Conservatives, since Cameron has personally argued that new technologies should be used to open politics up. The party made much of its decision to hire Tom Steinberg, the founder of MySociety, which runs the websites TheyWorkForYou and FixMyStreet as well as having links to DemocracyClub itself.
Oh and via email today I received my ‘personal‘ contract with Cameron. What a load of waffle.
Brown: Very good to meet you, and you’re wearing the right colour today. Ha, ha, ha: How many grandchildren do you have?
Duffy: Two. They’ve just got back from Australia where they got stuck for 10 days. They couldn’t get back with this ash crisis.
Brown: We’ve been trying to get people back quickly. Are they going to university. Is that the plan?
Duffy: I hope so. They’re only 12 and 10.
Brown: Are they’re doing well at school? [pats Duffy on the back] A good family, good to see you. It’s very nice to see you.
In the car
Brown: That was a disaster. Well I just … should never have put me in with that woman. Whose idea was that?
Aide: I don’t know, I didn’t see.
Brown: It was Sue [Nye] I think. It was just ridiculous.
Aide: I’m not sure if they [the media] will go with that.
Brown: They will go with that.
Aide: What did she say?
Brown: Oh everything, she was just a sort of bigoted woman. She said she used be Labour. I mean it’s just ridiculous.
What’s revealing apart from the bigoted comment just because someone raises the issue of immigration, is that Brown immediately looks for someone to blame. This occurs again in his apology Labour member sometime later (my emphasis):
Many of you know me personally. You know I have strengths as well as weaknesses. We all do. You also know that sometimes we say and do things we regret. I profoundly regret what I said this morning.
I am under no illusions as to how much scorn some in the media will want to heap upon me in the days ahead.
See what he did there? Passed the blame onto those nasty press types. It reminds me of an exchange on Have I Got News For You, just after host Angus Deatyon was caught being naughty. After some relentless and expected abuse, Deayton tried to blame the others, and here’s Paul Merton’s brilliant riposte:
Yes Gordon in a way it’s all our fault.
Today I received a number of political leaflets as part of the free electoral address. The Labour leaflet, shown on the left, was intriguing:
“Labour’s local achievements…”
…it says and lists Didcot Health centre as one of them.
That’s funny, because my wife is, unfortunately a regular user of that particular centre and we have it on good authority from two doctors that they themselves campaigned, organised and funded the new health centre themselves.
Oh and here it is from the Oxford Mail 2006 (my emphasis):
DIDCOT’S ageing health centre could be demolished by Christmas to make way for a new £4m building.
Plans for the new centre, and those for a temporary surgery, have been submitted to South Oxfordshire District Council.
GPs have part-funded the project – to the tune of £250,000 – and are confident it will get planning approval next month.
They hope the centre will be completed in early 2008.
The plans are the culmination of a seven-year struggle by GPs to replace their current home, which they say is no longer fit for purpose.
Dr David Ebbs, who is leading the project, said: “If things go according to plan, we want to be off the site and have the building knocked down by the end of the year. The building project should start in the new year and run through until the end of 2007, with us back in in early 2008.”
He said the developers had already ordered the temporary building in anticipation of planning approval.
He added: “The timescale is so tight, the developer is taking as much risk as is commercially viable.”
He urged patients to be understanding.
“The temporary building is not fantastic because we have had to compromise on space due to a lack of funds,” he said.
And from 2007:
DOCTORS have won their seven-year campaign to replace Didcot Health Centre, which will be knocked down next month.
Apparently, though, it was all a Labour achievement.