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Welcome to my new website

I sit on the Board at Crowdbnk and I am a Strategic Advisor to StartUpCapitalVenture 2 in San Francisco and I am also on the CITI Advisory Board @ Columbia University, NY.

I chair Trinity Hospice, Clapham, NISE NHS Innovations SE, Major Stanley's Trust at OURFC and the Great Retail Revival Foundation.

 

 

Had a great time in New Orleans, the music capital of the world; now in Vancouver seeing my family and risking a sea plane in high winds!

Politics

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18
SEP
Roger and Christine Truelove have been great friends to me over the past fifteen years. Yesterday, I drove down to Sittingbourne, my old stamping ground, to donate my political paraphernalia of posters, cartoons, pictures and memorabilia to the local Labour Party there. We finished up at the Three Tuns in Lower Halstow for lunch.
26
AUG
The Westminster Bubble and the Pricks in it by Derek Wyatt                There are two separate colliding constituencies facing the political class at Westminster.     The first constituency is obvious: the political escalator needs rebooting. Try my Anodyne Test can you name all the members of the Cabinet and if not can you just name fifteen MPs? I might have already made my point.     Too...
26
AUG
Scotland Be Careful What You Wish For on 18th September by Derek Wyatt  The Scottish debate on independence has basically been one about heart.   You might have expected it to be more than that. And such a defining moment In our history should have included an independent analysis of the economic costs of severing the union not just for the Scots but all UK citizens.   How could anyone really vote without a deal having been agreed with Whitehall beforehand?...
21
AUG
The Guardian's Letters Page 37 "If we had visionary political leaders we would be offering a radical solution: a more federal UK" Dear Sir Our political class is essentially only interested in protecting its own base. If we had visionary political leaders then we wouldn't still be trying to reform the House of Lords (now over a century in waiting). Instead we would be offering a radical solution: a more federal UK. There should be four equal national parliaments...
7
AUG
Submitted 8th July 2014 for publication a week later in Chelsea & Kensington Today Parliament Squared by Derek Wyatt The Conference Season is Dead   As Parliament limps to a  close for its shortened recess (MPs return for barely two weeks in early September before the Conference season causes a major rush to the seaside) the media is readying itself for the longest run in for the next General Election which is now set for 7th May, 2015. Unusually for the British...
18
JUN
I had lunch last Tuesday with an old mucker now on the Lib Dem ticket, one Myles Wickstead, our former Ambassador to Ethiopia and Kenya. I stayed with him in Addis when I was en route to Malawi. It was great to catch up.
18
JUN
I heard Rachel Reeves speak at Gibson Hall on Pensions. The Hall was amazing but her speech did not match the occasion.
5
JUN
Ed Miliband's rather good response to the Queen's speech. Wednesday 4 June 2014 Ed Miliband MP, Leader of the Labour Party, responding in the House of Commons to the Queen's Speech, said: This Friday we will mark seventy years since the Normandy Landings, where wave upon wave of allied forces poured onto the beaches of Northern France. It marked the beginning of the final chapter of the Second World War which preserved the freedoms we enjoy today. So I want to start by...
5
JUN
Westminster Squared   This Europe Thing by Derek Wyatt   I am a proud patriot of the United Kingdom. I recognise that Scotland has a right to self determination but if the vote in September is successful a desire for the English to follow suit will be inevitable which would not be good for either the Welsh or the Irish (both North and South). I hope the Scots will stay with us though the No Campaign has been appallingly led. Frankly, it is not about standards of...
13
MAY
We travelled down to Sittingbourne last Sunday to have lunch with our dear friends Roger and Christine Truelove. One of us caught up with all the local political gossip!
12
MAY
Last Thursday, I slipped into Costa in Kensington for a cappuccino before our Crowdbnk board meeting when suddenly there was a voice behind me shouting "Hello Derek" . Of course, I turned round and who was the culprit, as it were, our dear PM.  We had a private conversation and then he was gone - at the advice, no doubt, of his security men ......
28
APR
The Next London Mayor - some thoughts The Mayor of London is after the PM and the Chancellor the third most important politician in the country. Cast your mind back to the London mayoral elections in 2012. The two protagonists BoJo and Uncle Ken spent most of their time arguing about their children and various lovers or who had squirrelled away the most in various limited companies. Neither offered a 20:20 vision of what London would look like in 2020.  Be that as it...
7
APR
On Thursday, I met Chi Onwurah MP to discuss her plans to look again at the Digital Britain report which was much better than the legislation which followed it. Later, I met Virendra Sharma MP to talk to him about Health issues as he is on the Select Committee.
1
MAR
At today's special conference at the ExCel centre in the Royal Docks, the Labour Party voted to accept the recommendations of the Collins Report (overwhelmingly by 86% to 14%). It was a good natured morning with lots of humour and a little discord but that's why we are the Labour Party! The best speech was by Ian McCartney but there was lots of others as thoughtful but not so powerfully delivered. There must have been over two thousand delegates which was most encouraging. 
27
FEB
I wrote this on Monday evening:   The Scottish Question   If you were de-merging a FTSE 100 company from the stock market you would have to jump through a collection of hoops and regulations with most of this action being played out in the public domain.   If you want to de-merge a country from the United Kingdom all you have to do is hold a single referendum - true it helps to have a bill passed - but after that there's nothing. No due diligence, no joint...
27
FEB
I wrote this on Monday evening: Elected representatives v Unelected Quangos   I asked a senior Tory, now in the House of Lords, why there were so many unelected quangos like the Highways Agency, the Child Support Agency and yes, the Environment Agency. His reply was instructive. "Under Mrs Thatcher we were finding as ministers that we couldn't finish our Boxes before the next ones arrived. Eventually, to save our sanity, someone came up with a half way house. Ministers would be...
28
DEC
Denis MacShane should not have fabricated invoices amounting to £13k and created a shell company. He paid back the moeny he had invoiced. He was sent down for six months. Davis Laws MP broke six rules over expenses claiming £40k. He was suspended by the House authorities but he is now back in Parliament and a minister to boot.   Where is the justice in all this??   
28
DEC
2013: A year of people-powered change Derek, It can often feel like it's impossible to change the things around us. When these people started their petitions on Change.org what they were asking for seemed impossible but thousands of you helped them to victory. Here are just a few of the highlights from a year of winning on Change.org in the UK: January: 1.5 million people using Change.org in the UK. February saw Mary Seacole kept on the national curriculum (36,235 signatures)...
10
DEC
The fuss about MPs pay is back in the news again. IPSA the organisation created in the heat of the MPs expenses which was an error in itself - the three leaders - Brown, Cameron and Clegg were trying to out do themselves in the testosterone stakes. It was a huge mistake. All that needed to be done was wrap the Allowance system into an MP's salary and the whole issue would have gone away for good. Instead, IPSA was set up free of the hands of the politicians and now they have...
10
DEC
After Nelson Mandela the ANC failed to become a political party or understand what that meant and remained in all senses still in denial. Thabo Mbeki followed NM but he couldn't hold a candle to him and wasn't a patch on his father who was in prison with Madiba. If Mbeki was a disappointed Zuma has been woeful.  There is one man who ought to lead South Africa and that is Cyril Ramaphosa. 
6
DEC
I met Nelson Mandela twice: in 1992 at a dinner at the Dorchester and in 1993 at a private dinner given by Anthony Sampson at his house in St John's Wood.   In 1984, I had founded the Campaign for Fair Play to stop the British Lions tour to apartheid South Africa in 1985, which was successful; at the time there was only a handful of sportmen and women in the UK prepared to put their head above the parapet - John Taylor, Peteer Roebuck, Donald Woods and Vic Marks-
6
DEC
Let us remember that Margaret Thatcher thought that Mandela was a terrorist. That her Tory Cabinet opposed economic sanctions against the vile white racist government  
3
DEC
On Saturday afternoon, I gave up my Barbarians v Fiji tickets to attend the selection of the candidate for the Westminster and London cities constituency for the Labour Party. I was supporting Nik Slingsby and I was very pleased that he won the nomination.
7
NOV
I was in at the beginning of the changes to the Child Support Agency in 1998. One million new cases were at the flick of a switch going to be added to one million current cases: all individual, all complex blah blah. So I turned to the mandarin holding the baby as it were and asked him whether the software had been designed. It hadn't. The CSA changes were held up for two further years causing massive heartache to two million families. Fast forward to the PAC's report on the Works &
31
OCT
This morning's Guardian: • If HS2 is so important to connect Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham, might it not be more appropriate to link these cities first? London doesn't need more trains or lines. The original HS2 was to be centred on linking to a hub at Heathrow, which still makes more sense. Derek Wyatt London
31
OCT
Short and Sweet note to the Clerk As a result of the failure to agree policy on Syria by both the UK Govt and its counterpart in America, hard power has failed as a foreign policy objective. We have some brilliant global soft power players - the British Council, BBC World Service, our great national museums and galleries and four or five world class universities. There is one area where there is a need for UKplc to take a bold step and we have an incredible legacy in the area...
30
OCT
I sent this letter into The Guardian and hope it will be published tomorrow: Dear Sir In my advanced years I sometimes fail to see the train for the lines. If HS2 is so important to connect Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham might it not be more appropriate to link these cities first. London doesn't need more trains or lines. The original HS2 was to be centred on linking to a hub at Heathrow which still makes more sense. Yours aye Derek Wyatt The letter was mildly edited...
24
OCT
Late on Tuesday evening, I attended the Labour Party's 1000 Club event which examined in part the Romney v Obama narrative which was then compared to the Cameron v Miliband narrative where the latter's concerns about the cost of living has become centre stage. Romney was a dozen points ahead of Obama in the polls one year away from the Presidential elections but in the end was routed. The polls have the Tories and Labour sometimes close and sometimes with a lead for Labour with 19...
14
OCT
Dear Avaaz friends, In just 2 days’ time, African leaders could kill off a great institution, leaving the world a more dangerous place.  The International Criminal Court (ICC) is the world’s first and only global court to adjudicate crimes against hu manity. But leaders of Sudan and Kenya, who have inflicted terror and fear across their countries, are trying to drag Africa out of the ICC, allowing them the freedom to kill, rape, and inspire hatred without...
14
OCT
The polling on Fleet Street's stand on press regulation is not supported by the voters with about - depending on which one you examine - 75% against. The Press has acted disgracefully over the last decade culminating in the hacking of sensitive information from individuals. It is time their actions were legally restrained and that's what Parliament has voted for and that's what voters want.
8
OCT
The Privy Council was always going to turn down any attempt by the Press to regulate itself. The Press is not above the law. Television  and radio programmes have blossomed under regulation as will the Press. They have lived in the past for too long. The public deserves redress. As it is Parliament has passed a law and should now enact it.
8
OCT
You would have thought that Fleet Street would have heard the noise and public concern about their appalling behaviour stretching back two decades. So why allow Trevor Kavanagh, of The Sun, to be their spokesperson?  MPs have voted to regulate the press and that is how democracy works.  It is time to regulate the press: no more, no less.
24
SEP
Labour  Party Conference Diary 24th September 2013 I took Southern Railways to Brighton from Victoria this morning. I tried to book online for my ticket via TrainOnline but because I had switched my credit and debit cards I was consistently denied access and nothing on their site gave me even a hint as to what I should do. Good bye TrainOnline. My journey was uneventful but worryingly there was no wireless on board. Hundreds of thousand of commuters come into town on this...
23
SEP
Damian McBride's poisonous book Power Trip, serialised in - of all places -The Daily Mail demonstrates beyond a shadow of doubt the sickness that was at the heart of the No.10 Comms. team under Gordon Brown.  
17
SEP
Vince Cable has more or less declared UDI from the Coalition; he'd be happier in the Labour Party.
17
SEP
It's hard to know where America stands in the world. This most powerful of nations has lost its way. Ed Miliband's opposition to a war strike against Syria bounced Obama into doing the same when he was Commander-in-Chief and did nor have to go to Congress. This seriously weakened his presidency. In fact, if anything the only person who has been strengthened in all this toing and froing is the wretched Assad. Strange times. 
8
SEP
Is there a more dysfunctional organisation anywhere else in the public sector than the BBC - leaving aside the NHS? I doubt it. How could there be such a spat from the Chairman of the Trust and the previous CEO, neither of whom have covered themselves in glory. Of course, the Sunday Times ran a front page story about the Trust being closed down with Ofcom taking over its role but Ofcom isn't that hot either. But Murdoch has always loathed the BBC and naturally there was a...
4
SEP
My letter about Parliamentary terms was published this morning in The Guardian though nothing will change.
2
SEP
Dear Sir The real problem about Parliamentary sittings (Helen Lewis: Op Ed) is the timing of the Autumn Pantomimes also known as the party conference season. Now that General Elections will always be in May it make more sense to move the "Season" to Easter. That way Parliament could go through from early September until Christmas.   A longer Parliamentary sitting would bring an end to votes after 6pm and enable MPs to have a half decent family life.   Yours...
30
AUG
Three cheers for Parliament; at last they showed up and struck a blow against our wretched Foreign Office - a disaster abroad - and started - like it or not - a final retrenchment policy which had its origins at Suez in 1956. What we want now is a smaller, smarter FCO: bring it on. Our foreign policy on the Middle East since the Balfour Declaration has shamed our nation.
18
JUL
Last night I attended the Labour Business Reception at Grange Tower Bridge Hotel. The place was heaving but luckily the air con worked. The two Eds were in fine form. 
16
JUL
Last night I attended the British Influence summer party on the roof top of the Inn The Park restaurant in St. James's Park. The speakers were Peter Mandelson and Ken Clarke: the former needed notes the latter did not...... There was a goodly turn out of MPs from both major parties including Caroline Spelman and Mike Gapes - plus Laura Sandys, Ian Taylor & Peter Kellner. British Influence is about upping our influence in the EU. www.britishinfluence.org
11
JUL
Cameron, Brown and Clegg were so quick out of the blocks to tell the world that MPs excesses had to be reigned that none of them took on board the Allowance system.  There was one simple solution to stop them. All that needed to be down was to wrap into their salaries and leave MPs to decide how they would run their offices and staff. But no. They wanted a new regulator called IPSA costing £6m p.a. So £18m so far. And they said it was up to the regulator to set pay. So...
4
JUL
Last night I had supper with Emma and James Arbuthnot MP and we plotted on how we might resurrect our Evening soirees we used to do when I was in Parliament.
2
JUL
There is a simple solution to MPs pay. Roll their "Allowances" into their salaries. There would then be no need for the wretched IPSA (cost £6m). MPs would still have to make available the costs of their local offices. Every time an independent review suggests MPs pay should go up, the PM or his lapdog comes on hard to slap it down. MPs work between 80-100 hours a week most are generous with their time and resources. They are simply under valued.
25
JUN
Sir Patrick Nairne www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2013/jun/11/sir-patrick-nairne
6
JUN
The FT suggests this morning that one of the three regional science museums - Manchester (Science), Bradford (Media & Photography and York (Railways) - will close. I have sent the following letter to the FT: "Science as it is reflected in our UK museums cannot hold a candle to the Tate (two offerings in London plus St Ives and Liverpool), the V&A (London and Dundee) and the Imperial War Museum (London, Duxford and Salford).   Instead we have four independent...
6
JUN
Steve Tudhope worked in the House of Commons for John Grogan before moving on and upwards as various consultancies. We have been friends for a decade or so and we chewed the fat on Monday evening before being texted by Aidan Burley MP that he was holding engagement drinks on The Terrace in Parliament and so off we went: we regretted in the morning.
23
MAY
Will UKIP announce bringing back the death penalty for the killing of children, the police and our armed services? 
22
MAY
Do the Boards of these companies care about their corporate social responsibilities to the millions of consumers who help create their wealth? We haven't heard a jot about them nor has the media really examined which board member has CSR as his or her role. There's not been a peep from anyone.  Apple is rotten to the core - it has no Trust it just stashes its money away like a bloated squirrel in offshore accounts striking up special deals with dodgy governance.  Google is...
20
MAY
I have just finished reading Andrew Adonis's account on the tortuous five days after the General Election. It demonstrated just how far out of touch the inner circle was with the electorate. Had we left Cameron in it the day after the Election there would have been another one this week! 
18
MAY
"Google is an evil company" was the comment of Margaret Hodge MP earlier this week when Google executives tried to pretend they did not do sales through their London offices. Google should pay its taxes in the UK and not try to find loopholes. This is not an ethically run company. They contribute nothing to the Creative Industries but happily take our advertising. So how about taxing the adverts which appear on UK web sites? If David Cameron wants to make sure the likes of Apple, Amazon,...
4
MAY
On Wednesday I had lunch with Nick Butler who worked at No.10 and now is a professor at King's College and a blogger for the FT. Naturally, I took him to the Cork & Bottle......
4
MAY
On Thursday, I went down to Sittingbourne to support Roger Truelove and Ghlin Whelan who were standing in Swale Central. Roger was the KCC councillor but lost in 2009. Ghlin has tried several times to win the other seat. I did a quick interview on Sittingbourne FM and then went out to Milton and then Iwade largely delivering what we call "Get Out the Vote" cards to specific addresses. It's a thankless task but has to be done. All in all I was out walking for four hours with old...
29
APR
Bangladesh is one of the most corrupt countries in the world. I don't take any pleasure in making that comment. I have been watching its Government refuse outside help for the collapsed clothing factory which has led to at least 360 deaths. It daren't ask for help because some of its own politicians own these factories. They do not want outside scrutiny because imagine what we might have found - forged building certificates, payments to officials and backhanders to everyone else.   If...
29
APR
I went down to Sittingbourne yesterday morning to help Roger Truelove and Ghlin Whelan, our candidates for Sittingbourne West, for the Kent County Council elections on Thursday. I had a good reaction on the doorstep and am hopeful they will both be elected.
29
APR
Social Networking 18 22-29 April 2013 Monday Years 11, 12 & 13 Travel Scholarship interviews @ Colchester RGS Bump Ken Jenkinson, Head Teacher Charlie Burgess @ Cork & Bottle Tuesday Hester Finch @ Pimlico Wednesday Ian Pearson @ Pimlico Thursday Short list interviews for CEO @ Trinity Hospice Friday Anne Hooper & Sally Bateson @ Trinity Hospice David Bowie @ V&A Saturday Al Wayne @ Aldeburgh Sunday Roger Truelove @ Sittingbourne...
21
APR
Following the Dinner on Friday evening in Oxford, I was up early to catch Peter Oborne, Chief Political Correspondent, at the Daily Telegraph. We met at the cafe in Chiswick Park.  Some years ago, I helped him with his book on Basil D'Oliveria.  We again came back to cricket, once we had dissected the Thatcher funeral et al.  
19
APR
Emailed in late Wednesday evening: Dear Sir   Lady Thatcher had been unwell for a couple of years and obviously plans for her funeral were discussed and agreed some time ago. It was a pity there was no public debate about these decisions. It shamed us as a nation.    Parliament not No.10 needs to decide the future protocol for the funerals of former prime ministers.   Parliament could also move to work with the British Library to create a place like a
19
APR
I attended the morning session of The Politics of One Nation Labour at Queen Mary's College, Mile End yesterday. There was an introduction to the day from Stewart Wood and this was followed by two lectures: Labour, England and One Nation given by Mike Kenny, QM with a response from Sarah Fine, King's I said that a martian hearing this debate in 2030 would have hoped by then that we would have four lower nation state parliaments - England, Wales, N.Ireland and...
19
APR
I had a goodly lunch with Tom Bradby, ITV's chief political correspondent, yesterday. He has a new four-parter about to be announced and is busy, as ever, writing more fiction and thinking up new scripts.
19
APR
Doug Smith was a neigbour of mine for 8 years in Marsham Street, SW1. We both had chaired Alexandra Palace though for different parties. He died suddenly just before Christmas and though we had had the funeral back in late January it had taken a little longer to organise an event to say goodbye to him in a more personal way.  Over a hundred and fifty made the effort and it was a very moving occasion. I miss our chats on cricket.   
11
APR
I have just been imagining the outpouring of bile there would have been from the Tory press and the Tories had Tony Blair died and we had: ** recalled Parliament  ** insisted on a quasi state funeral with soldiers who'd served in Iraq or Afghanistan ** choreographed the daily statements from No.10 which today reached a new low when they released the names of those people they had invited - this surely is a Tory affair ** spent £2m on security for the funeral - okay that's a...
9
APR
I have lots to thank Mrs T for. She tried to stop us publishing Spycatcher and failed miserably. She privatised Water and Railways which was a terribly mistake. She privatised BT and British Gas but handed them a monopoly in the private sector which was simply unfair. She allowed people to buy their own houses but instead of putting that money into building more social housing she allowed it to go straight to The Treasury. She gave us our modern banking system which has caused such...
2
APR
There I was minding my own business when Gary Gibbon, C4 News, called from his train to Sittingbourne to give me the glad tidings this morning that George Osborne was speaking in my old constituency. Interestingly, when David Cameron came down before the 2010 election it was alleged then that he refused to have a photo with his own candidate. I shall look on tonight's news coverage and in tomorrow's newspapers to see if this was...
2
APR
Gareth Thomas called for a chat about the legal issues with London Welsh. He wanted to pick my brains because I had done my level best to help Rotherham some years back.   There's big politics and then there's rugby union.
27
MAR
I went to a Labour Party dinner at The Coniston Hotel last night. Over ten years ago, out of the blue, the Government announced the hotel was going to be an asylum reception centre - an appalling idea. Eventually, we stopped the centre (see www.derekwyatt.exmp.co.uk) but by then the hotel had closed. Just under a year ago, a re-fashioned, much improved hotel was opened and judging by last night's evidence it is doing very well. 
27
MAR
I travelled down to Sittingbourne last night for the CLP dinner to launch their county council candidates (I am President of the CLP). I was the warm act to Andy Sawford our newly elected MP for Corby. A joke going the rounds was: If Louise Mensch had been a bar of chocolate she'd have eaten herself a long time ago.  (Credited to an 87 year old local).  
21
MAR
The first job of any Chancellor of The Exchequer is to reform the tax system from top to bottom. When thousands of lawyers are in league with thousands of accountants to make sure their clients pay no tax or move it abroad with impunity or invest in forests or whatever, something is sick in the system. The rich become richer because they can afford a bevy of advisers which tell them to set up Trusts and the like. At HMR&C there are simply not enough staff with the expertise to track...
20
MAR
In the first DCMS Select Committee Report on the Press (especially intrusion) back in the early noughties I said at the press conference to launch it that if a newspaper continually transgressed we should consider a yellow and a red card scenario. A journalist from the Daily Mirror then asked me if a red card meant that a paper would be stopped from publishing and I said it would. Howls of protest went up and under pressure I withdrew my remarks. That afternoon the Mirror (Editor:...
13
MAR
I went to the UK Parliament yesterday to attend a meeting of the PNfCP - www.pncp.net. Meg Munn MP was the only member present. PNfCP is funded by the East-West Institute in NY.
12
MAR
I bumped into Tom Bradby, ITN's Political Correspsondent in Parliament and we never mentioned the Huhne-Pryce fiasco........
9
MAR
Martin Short and I have been executive members of CAABU but both of us are standing down at the next AGM (shortly). We had an enjoyable supper at Thomas Cubitt earlier in the week to talk about Palestine.
1
MAR
Only The Times managed to have the result and comment on its front page this morning so well done them.  I always thought the Lib Dems would win but was still a little surprised that the Tories were third and maybe that's because their candidate wasn't really up to it. Nonetheless, the UKIP vote is worrying. What do they stand for other than to pull out of Europe? Labour may have made a mistake picking some one not local. 
1
MAR
I joined Ian Pearson at the Athenaeum for lunch today with Nick Butler who used to work at No.10. We found it hard not to talk about the implications of the Eastleigh by-election.  
18
FEB
I went down to Eastleigh yesterday to help our cause in the forthcoming by election due on Thursday week. Four of us were asked to do Portsmouth Road where the Lib Dems had already been.  Given we had only 5000+ voters in 2010 our data is thin and so it is important we up our game here. I was joined by Roger Truelove, my old mucker from Sittingbourne, and Jo from Eastbourne and Anne from the next constituency. We also had a coach load down from London.   My sense
31
JAN
Thank you for signing the petition to get the EU to ban the deadly pesticides that are killing off bees. Let's build our call before the meeting in 24 hours! The more people join this campaign, the more powerful our call will be. Forward this link to friends and family, and post it on Facebook: http://www.avaaz.org/en/hours_to_save_the_bees/?tkFvVdb
29
JAN
So here we have it a new High Speed train set with no funding and a delivery date so far into the future it's laughable.  We do not need a fast train set into an already crowded Euston station. WE do need to link Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham FIRST and that could start tomorrow.   There's no growth in jobs as was promised yesterday for at least a decade.....dear me how the media has been hoodwinked.  
27
JAN
The petition was created by Paul Dimoldenberg and reads:      'We the undersigned petition Westminster City Council to to      urge the Mayor to keep Westminster Fire Station in Greycoat      Place open. Westminster is a densely populated part of central      London; it is the seat of Government with tens of thousands of      people working here requiring the highest standards of...
26
JAN
On Thursday, I went to Mortlake Cemetery for a service for the late Doug Smith who died on holiday in the West Indies just before Christmas. Doug was a dear friend and my next door neighbour in Westminster until I moved last October. He worked for Edward Heath and was to the right of the party. More recently he had joined UKIP. We were both former chairs of Ally Pally and shared a fondness for cricket.
13
DEC
We went to the new Inter Continental Hotel opposite St James's Tube Station last night for our 1000 Club bash. Ed Miliband was our guest speaker - there's a surprise - and we met many old friends  We then went on to have supper at the Adjournment Restaurant in Portcullis House.
13
DEC
I was a guest of Mihir (though he was in Doha, Qatar) and Caroline Bose at the Media Dinner at the Reform Club on Tuesday evening to hear Harriet Harman speak about Leveson. I also bumped into Mark Malloch-Brown, Polly Toynbee, Peter Kelner and Jimmy Wales who were at another event at the Reform.
4
DEC
Forty six former Labour MPs sat down for their Christmas supper last night. It must be the only time I have been to any dinner involving any politicians where there were no speeches. It was great catching up with everyone.
2
DEC
I had an hour with Brian Cathcart  - who has run the Hacked Off campaign so brilliantly - on Friday afternoon and we discussed what needed to be done next in the coming weeks to ensure the Leveson report is implemented.
2
DEC
Benjamin Disraeli, when PM, wanted a club that brought politicians together with businessmen and so formed St Stephen's......it has the odd iteration since then but the current owner has given the club notice. Doug Smith, a former neighbour, asked me if I would like to attend what was a rather jolly lunch to say goodbye to it - and so it came to pass last Monday......... 
2
DEC
The PM set up Leveson, sent his comments into him and then appeared in front of him. He had countless opportunities to tell us he was not in favour of a statutory power but suddenly claimed a conversion barely three hours after the Leveson Report dropped onto his study desk. Broadcasting has Ofcom and this hasn't stopped them making Dispatches or Panorama; the Press must also have a similar back stop.   www.hackinginquiry.org
25
NOV
It is really quite extraordinary that the right wing press - some of the worst perpetrators of bugging and hacking al - have lined up to oppose some kind of press regulator dressing it up as Government interference. And worse Michael Gove (The Times) and Boris Johnson (The Telegraph) line up on their side. Where is their independence? Worse, the PM seems to be having second thoughts about a regulator. As television has an Ofcom so the press should have an Ofreg: no ifs no...
18
NOV
Roger and Christine Truelove, friends from Sittingbourne dropped by to see the new flat and we then went onto to have lunch at the LooseBox in Horseferry Road.
12
NOV
Does any one at the BBC or BBC Trust understand how the media works? Was there any reason for Entwistle's redundancy pay to be made public or was it a leaked within?? I expect the latter. There doesn't need to be an appointment for a new DG from a soiled list of has-beens over the next few weeks. Let them publish all the evidence of all the reports first; let the BBC Trust members offer their resignations for being so inept. Can anyone name them? Then let a new Chairman of the Trust...
11
NOV
I put a small table together for this first London Labour Party supper party at Zizzi's in Tower Hill. It was a very enjoyable evening though most of out talk was on Obama... 
7
NOV
It is extraordinary how the GOP cannot find a decent candidate. McCain won the nomination in 2008 when he should have won it in 2000. Romney flip-flopped so many times on policy plus he hadn't a clue on foreign policy that the world would have been worse had he won. Imagine a worse President than George W. Bush......The Republicans are fast becoming an older, white populated party and no longer represent modern America. It is true Obama has more work to do in...
7
NOV
On the first Monday of each month, former Labour MPs meet to chew the fat. Numbers vary from six to thirty-odd and on Monday I put in an appearance.......we talked about the inquiry into the north Wales children's home and the fact that a high Tory might be involved. We thought it might be someone in the Lords.
3
NOV
My next door neighbour when I lived in Westminster was Douglas Smith. We both were at different times Chairs of Ally Pally when we were councillors at Haringey. Douglas represented the Tories in Crouch End Ward whilst I represented Archway. Doug hosts a wonderful annual cricket lunch in the House of Lords which he has kindly invited me to.....and so yesterday I treated him to a thank you lunch at the RAC. Earlier his year he left the Tory party to join UKIP.  He had worked at Central
1
NOV
It's simple really the rules of the game should be that like every other public organisations, the EU should have to find between 3-5% savings from its budget every year. The vote last night was to embolden the PM to fight for this on our behalf. You cannot impose austerity on Spain, Portugal, Italy, Ireland and Greece without also imposing it on the EU bureaucracy at the same time. It is not rocket science. 
22
OCT
How many senior BBC staff will fall on their swords over Newsnight's decision to drop the Jimmy Savile story? Answer: don't hold your breath
16
OCT
Could our UK politicians show a lead to Europe? The CAP is clearly a busted flush; the failure to sign of accounts demonstrates a lack of transparency in Brussels and elsewhere; the gravy train has to stop. Could we place our contribution to the EU Budget into an escrow account and give the Council of Ministers two years to sort these issues out and if they don't then let us have a referendum once and for all about whether we should be in or outside the EU. Just a thought.
14
OCT
George Entwistle, the new DG, had a baptism of fire last week over the Jimmy Savile claims. He took too long to make a statement and then when he did it was fatuous. Why was the BBC 2 Newsnight programme on Savile pulled at the last moment.....George we're still waiting to know...... The BBC could save £m by taking a whole management tier out of its crappy bureaucracy.
12
OCT
I went to a lunchtime talk by Eliane Glaser entitled "How to de-spin a party conference" at the RSA yesterday. Actually it was a front for her new book called: Get Real: How to tell it like it is in an age of illusions...... It was a brave talk where she called for the main political parties in the UK to return to ideology rather than crowd the centre ground. I took issue with her (the pod cast is on www.therasa.org) and said that currently if a politician was to tell its voters that...
10
OCT
I have been  one meeting of the Hacked Off group and caught up with one of its founders, Brian Cathcart at the Labour Party Conference. And it is Brian who has done a rushed but brilliant job in writing up the campaign in a Penguin Special entitled: Everybody's Hacked Off: Why we don't have the press we deserve and what to do about it. Whatever Lord Leveson may say the fact is that the Tories have been heavily leant on by News International and others NOT to have a regulator for...
4
OCT
I had a friendly lunch at the Cork & Bottle today with Adrian Flook, the former Tory MP for Taunton. We were both on the DCMS Select Committee when he was in the House from 2001-2005.
3
OCT
Labour Party Conference 2nd October 2012 It doesn't really matter what you do on the Tuesday of conference as long as you find a ticket or queue for 90 minutes for a place in the Conference Hall for the Leader's Speech. And though Ed M's speech would be important there was still 31 months before a General Election so it wasn't crucial though we all hoped he would speak in a language we understood.  We were all wrong as Ed blew us away in a 65 minute oration with no notes and a style
2
OCT
Monday Second Day I woke to the news that Eric Hobsbawm had passed away. He had been ill for a while. I sent a note through to Julia Hobsbawm, his daughter. I read Eric's book Industry and Empire in 1968 just before my Economic History A level and I am sure it was the reason that I managed a B!! I have always had a soft spot for him. I was at Conference by 10 and had breakfast which was half the price of the one on offer in my Premier Inn. Walking in I met Martha Kearney of World
1
OCT
Labour Party Conference, Sunday, 30th September, 2012 I awoke to the news that the delightful Malcolm Wicks MP, aged 65, had passed away after struggling with cancer for over a year. The hurried obits spoke of his "saintliness" which was absolutely spot on.  I briefly read the Sundays, packed and took the bus and then the tube to Euston where I met up with Jonathan Shaw, ex MP for Chatham & Aylesford, Roger Truelove, my former agent, and eventually Daisy, my daughter. Eventually,
1
OCT
Walking into Conference this morning I was interviewed by Marth Kearney for World At One about the Economy et al.
27
SEP
Following a four-day visit on a Caabu-LFPME delegation to the West Bank, British MPs questioned the continuing viability of a two-state solution. The Shadow Secretary of State for Health Andy Burnham MP, said that it was "Hard not to conclude that 'two-state solution' is dying before our eyes, if not dead already." Seema Malhotra MP echoed his comment: "Looking at the expanding settlements, checkpoints and separation wall, combined with the daily grind of occupation for ordinary
16
SEP
As a member of the Former MPs organisation, we were hosted by the PM at No.10 for what was only our second event there. Given all that David Cameron has on his plate he was in great form.
12
SEP
Last night we had as our main speaker: Nick Tott author of The Case for a British Investment Bank. We had a full house in the Cole Room at the Fabian HQ including three bankers. It was a very stimulating discussion which continued afterwards......
26
AUG
JFK gave the go ahead for the Space Race in a speech dated 25th May, 1961. The Pentagon became very alarmed when the Soviets launched the first Sputnik on 4th October, 1957 in case it could become possible to launch Nuclear Weapons from Space. Neil Armstrong's success on 20th July, 1969 - watched by half the world live on television - put a stopper in that particular bottle. No doubt the Chinese will repeat this feat sometime in this decade.
13
AUG
Article published by Progress this morning Re-organising & Refreshing Whitehall: some thoughts on Communications and Sport by Derek Wyatt     We created the Office of Communications – Ofcom to you and me – after a long pregnancy in 2003. It combined all of the previous regulators: The Broadcasting Standards Commission, the Independent Television Commission, Oftel, the Radio Authority and the Radiocommunications Agency. It didn’t know what to do with...
30
JUL
Mitt Romney's desperate tour abroad (taking barely a leaf from Barack Obama's acclaimed European tour in 2008) shows us what a dangerous politician he is. He barely knows anything about Foreign Affairs and forgets names at the drop of a hat. Has he Sarah Palin's DNA locked away in a jar somewhere? He may have been feted in Israel but not to have visited Palestine or Saudi or Qatar or Tunisia or Libya or Egypt was a sop to events back home. It was not the sign of a man who had a grasp...
25
JUL
If Lord Justice Leveson aims to have an initial report ready by October he will have to put his skates on unless of course he has been working on drafts for the past six weeks or so. If he does report in October then the Government will no doubt ask for some time to review it. However, some kind of new statutory body could be outlined in the Queen's Speech in November, 2013 and be on the statute book by mid to late 2014. But, a Tory government would not want a...
24
JUL
Once Leveson reports in early 2013, MPs should have a free vote to put in place a statutory body to regulate all media.
18
JUL
I went to hear Ed Miliband speak at the Institute of Chartered Accountants Hall in Moorgate last night. He was supported by Ed Balls and Chuka Umunna and most of the Shadow Cabinet. Over 450 City folk turned out. Ed M has had a goodly year to date.
12
JUL
Letter published in the Sheerness Times Guardian: 11th July, 2012 Dear Sir   Over two years into the Coalition Government we are experiencing a double dip recession directly as result of George Osborne's budgets which went for public sector cuts with no policies - except U-turns -for growth. Worse, we have seen David Cameron frankly dancing on a pin as he puts one leg in and one leg out every time he goes to a European summit. He is playing to his narrow...
10
JUL
We have a vibrant Former MPs Association and tonight we had our annual get together in The Speaker's residence (we paid)  i met Eldon Griffiths, my former MP when I was living in Bury St Edmunds, and I had last met him when I was a Postie (I was working in the local sorting office), Ian Taylor, Howard Stoate, Harry Greenaway, Bowen Wells and many others It was a fun evening.
7
JUL
I knew Michael Crick, the C4 news reporter (he was at Newsnight for ten years) when I was an MP and we met up more recently at a Trinity Hospice Open Garden Day. It transpired that a close relative of his was in our hospice late last year. This week we met up for lunch at The Atrium close to Parliament. It houses the Westminster media pack. As we were surveying the menu, Michael espied Denis MacShane MP walking down the stairs. "Well, he'll be pleased" he said " my...
7
JUL
Tim was appointed my minder by Labour Party HQ for the 2005 General Election. He was then finishing off his DPhil on, if my memory serves me correctly Butterflies in Madagascar of maybe it was about Nudist Colonies in Australia: my memory isn't was it used to be. He rather brilliantly gained a First at Oxford. He kept me on the straight and narrow during the campaign helping us to win by the not inconsiderable margin of 79 votes after a couple of recounts. Anyway, he now works...
7
JUL
In late 2010, I proposed to John Denham MP, then Shadow SoS for BIS, that we should create a group for Entrepreneurs and re-establish our credentials as a party interested in business. We "floated" our Next Generation of Entrepreneurs group last year and have had three meetings in London. On Thursday evening, we travelled up to Manchester to host our fourth meeting with local start ups. Manchester is a City on the move and in digital terms wants to be in the top 5 Digital Cities in
3
JUL
I dropped into Parliament yesterday to have half an hour with Jon Cruddas where we chewed the political cud.
30
JUN
You couldn't really make it up but Nick Clegg did - the world and his dog (except for those wretched right wing Tory MPs) want an elected chamber. What was promised? An 80% elected and 20% nominated chamber (to keep the politicians happy so they can go on nominating their friends).....is this really the best we can do?? Then there were the numbers of members and elected for 15 years how nuts is that? If we cannot have one overarching Senate with four lower but equal parliaments...
30
JUN
Well done Ed Miliband for trumping everyone by calling for a Leveson style inquiry into our banks: bring it on. They acted like casino gamblers in 2008 and now to hide their incompetence they fixed the libor rate. What kind of people do this to the world? Off with their heads..........fix the FSA here in the UK; change the law; go for an Inquiry; stop their bonuses........stop them period. 
29
JUN
Seven years ago I helped devise the Parliamentary senior rugby clubs community awards scheme and though I am no longer involved in them I was an invited guest to the party on Wednesday evening. Saracens won again thanks to the brilliant work of a certain Mr Gordon Banks, their Community Director.  It was a pleasant evening and I stayed to have a drink with Hugh Godwin, rugby writer from The Indy.
27
JUN
I heard an interesting speech by Chuka Umanna last evening on the potential of linking social mobility with entrepreneurship. It was more a blue sky's piece but stimulating nonetheless.
26
JUN
The Labour Party's 1000 Club held its Summer Party at Ozer's in Langham Place last night. Ed Miliband made the key speech - my how he has grown in stature this year.
21
JUN
I was a guest of Hugh McCormick at The Savile Club yesterday. We had lunch outside on the terrace to celebrate the longest day and the sun.
17
JUN
Sir   There is a serious democratic deficit in the EU (Re: David Owen 11/06/12).   None of the MEPs we elect are answerable to their own national parliaments. Instead of spending a costly and absurd week every month in Strasbourg, MEPs should have to return to their own national parliaments to give an account of themselves.   Before we move to a referendum here and a referendum there, let us lead European thinking and bring forward reforms which make the EU fit for...
13
JUN
It was our monthly local Labour Party branch meeting - Pimlico and St James's - last night and we had Alison Muir from Peabody who gave us an outline of some of the issues facing her and her team looking after 10,000 flats and houses in and around Westminster.
7
JUN
I went to Dennis Grover's funeral in Maidstone yesterday. There was a full house to see him off. Dennis and Phil, his wife, were very good friends of mine and when I was campaigning on the Isle of Sheppey there was always a cup of tea and sometimes more for me when I needed a break. He was leader of the Labour Group in Swale from 1992-1998 (from memory) and was passionately old Labour. He served in Suez as part of his nationals service and eventually was awarded a medal for his services...
7
JUN
As I was in the area yesterday, I had lunch at The Fruiterers Arms in Rodmersham and then popped over to the Isle of Sheppey to spend an hour with Andrew Parr catching up on his Pensions Action Group.
7
JUN
I went this morning to hear Ed Miliband speak about Englishness, being British and feeling identity in a more complex United Kingdom. He had in his sights the Scottish Nats who want to break away from being British. It was a thoughtful speech - see:   www.labour.org.uk/ed-miliband-speech-defending-the-union-in-england     
1
JUN
So Vince is set up by the Telegraph in a pathetic sting (my how they must regret that) and is bounced from acting as the quasi-judicial (only the civil service could come up with such a term; it is a bit like another one I know of called "a permanent loan") being over Sky. Meanwhile, Jeremy Hunt on the day he replaced Vince, had been texting James Murdoch as his own personal luvvy-in-waiting whilst doubling as the Secretary of State.  Can someone explain what the...
1
JUN
As the Chairman of Trinity Hospice I alerted our Trustees to the proposed Budget changes with respect to charitable giving. We have to raise £9million (so we're a start-up every year) to provide the finest palliative care service (for free) south and north of the River Thames. Currently, the NHS gives us £3m so actually we have to fund-raise £6m p.a. The along comes the Chancellor to throw a large spanner in the works. Does the Treasury do opportunity cost analysis? It...
30
MAY
I went to hear Tom Watson MP and Chris Bryant MP talk about Leveson et al on Monday evening. The Labour Party must keep the initiative afterall it was Ed Miliband who broke the convention on Murdoch by calling for an investigation and it was Tom Watson - often isolated - who kept up the pressure.
24
MAY
At Leveson today it became apparent that the plan may have been for Sky to subsume News International and for there to be one media company covering News, Entertainment and Sport providing content for television, newspapers, mobile and tablets.
20
MAY
I was a guest at the Mayor of Southwark's annual ball last night at Vinopolis. My mind was also on the Chelsea game which they seemed destine always to win.....and so it proved. Well done them. 
18
MAY
Leveson Inquiry Update 1 It seems to me there are some critical questions that need attention: Where is the Inquiry going? When will it publish its findings? What will then be the response of the political classes at Westminster? How dangerous is the publishing timetable v the next general election? Will the PM agree to placing newspapers under statutory control? Will there be a change in the ownership rules? Will non-UK citizens be allowed to own more than 10% of the...
16
MAY
I attended a meeting of Hacked Off last night - you can check it out at www.hackinginquiry.org - we meet under Chatham House rules so all I can tell you is that it was a very productive discussion.
16
MAY
Ed Miliband's sureness of touch was heightened yesterday when he asked Jon Cruddas MP to head up his Policy Review team. This is very good news indeed.
13
MAY
It is awhile since I read how much the BBC spends on News and hard-edged documentaries but it must be between £300-£400m a year. So since 2005 three years before the global banking crash until today it must have spent c£2.8 billion and yet it missed most of it and is still playing catch up. Who was tracking the JP Morgan fiasco announced last last week where they may have lost $3 billion?? No-one in the media for sure.....
13
MAY
Once again, given the resources at the BBC's disposal - three or four times what Sky News has at its disposal why didn't the BBC put more resources into the Hacking inquiry? 
13
MAY
Could the BBC tell us if they select the political representatives on Any Questions? Or on Question Time? or do they negotiate with the respective parties? Both programmes could do with new presenters, a face lift and the freedom to ask who they like onto the programmes. 
9
MAY
                                                                                  8th May...
7
MAY
The scenes from Paris last night were reminiscent of 1998 when they won the world cup......But hooray for Hollande who has just ousted the wretched Sarkozy.  In Greece, its results were hardly less surprising. The aged political class has been corrupt for aeons and behind the curve by decades. As for the fact that the winning party wins an additional 50 seats just for wining is nuts.  Greece has to leave the euro if it is to start over. 
5
MAY
Why have seven ministers including the PM been given advanced copies of Rebecca Brooks' evidence to the Levesnon Inquiry which includes her emails? Could there possibly be such hot information in them that they show the closeness of the Tories to the Murdoch Empire? Book now for seats on Friday.
5
MAY
Ken Livngstone in the end - the last 2 weeks - fought a campaign which had all the right messages but it was too little too late. His self indulgence earlier hurt the Labour cause in London. The real question is how and why did the London Labour Party only have two candidates to choose from - Ken and Oona King - neither of whom had a message beyond Labour to win the race. That is what the inquest must dwell on.
5
MAY
I spent the morning of the local elections on Thursday at a local polling booth taking numbers. In Westminster, the Tories hold sway and so it proved. However, across the country including both Wales and Scotland  Labour showed they were back with a vengeance. A lot of this is to do with Ed Miliband's leadership.
1
MAY
Should we be that surprised about the CMS Select Committee's findings on Hacking PLC? 1. It was widely trailed yesterday as though leaking has become the "new hacking" rather like the Budget; this soils the political process. 2. News International continued to lobby Tory members of the committee but they haven't had to put this into the public domain. Why not? 3. The Clerk of the House or one of his associates leaked a story about a single MP of the committee in the Mail On...
25
APR
Jeremy Hunt is a very ambitious politician and is slightly fed up with only being the Secretary of State at the DCMS. He was the first in with his "cuts" programme which devastated the department. Now, the trail of emails involving his officials and Murdoch's company may yet lead to his resignation although the PM will stand by his man for the moment. After a relatively hassle free 20 months as PM, the last five weeks have been pretty bloody for the Tories.
24
APR
Peter Skinner was my MEP when we had local- i.e.- Kent MEPs - back in the late 1990s and then we foolishly fell for the European view that our MEPs should be both regional and on a list and it was then that the European democratic principles fell over and have yet to recover. Now less than 30% of the country votes in an EU election.....sad, very sad. Anyway, notwithstanding, Peter had an hour with me this afternoon on youth unemployment in the SE.  
24
APR
I started the day with a breakfast with George Kesler, a dear friend, and we chatted about the need for a pro-active manufacturing policy for UKplc.
24
APR
I went to hear Ken Livingstone speak yesterday morning. He was more circumspect than I had expected and seemed to have learned the lessons of the absurd rows with Boris J though it may have clouded his messages for Londoners.
23
APR
You know when the political class has lost the plot when it starts to talk about reform of the House of Lords without taking into consideration the other constitutional events which have happened over the past decade. We now have different powers for three "parliaments" representing Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. We do not have a parliament of any form for England. Four lower parliaments with equal powers would be united under an elected Senate (replacing the House of Lords)...
20
APR
I read Dial M for Murdoch yesterday about News Corporation's hacking fiasco. It was timely coming before the DCMS Select Committee's own report on the matter where it appears some Tory members of the committee have been lobbied by NC people. Have they learned nothing?  Dial M is a work in progress so I hope like Chris Mullin's book(s) it is made into a play and tours the country. It is rumoured that Hollywood has bought film rights (or possibly an option).  Murdoch's...
18
APR
Six chairs and a trustee representing seven London Hospices met Paul Burstow MP, Hospice Minister, yesterday at the Department of Health. We talked about: ** the Hospice Pilots ** what happens at the end of them and what is the likely timetable for change? ** the uncertainty and anxiety Hospices feel facing a new funding model
18
APR
Letters Printed in Private Eye Edition 20th April 2012 No.1 Dear Editor,  Perhaps the Easter holidays have affected the Eye's research but contrary to Syria Update No 1311, I have never been nor wanted to be a Director of the British-Syrian Society. As Chair of the Council for Arab-British Understanding (Caabu) I am extremely proud of our active track record in actively opposing the Assad regime, its horrific human rights abuses and in particular its brutality...
17
APR
The furore over Philanthropic giving has not let up despite the intervention of the PM (has George Osborne taken a vacation?). Indeed the Budget of four weeks ago is still making headlines, all the wrong ones.... Consider ** Pastygate ** Fuel shortages ** Granny tax ** Off shore tax loops not closed ** Charity giving (interesting to see that the letter in the Sunday Telegraph signed by 40 odd signatories were almost all Tories) ** Snooping ** Conservatory tax In the...
12
APR
Dan is writing a book about how Parliament works and he came to interview me yesterday. He reminded me that we last saw each other for supper in Vienna back in 2008 at an eDigital EU event.
12
APR
Following the proposals in the Budget I wrote to Nick Hurd MP, Minister for Civil Society in the Cabinet Office on 28th March 2012: Nick Hurd MP, Minister for Civil Society (via email)   Dear Nick   Since stepping down from front row politics I have become chairman of Trinity Hospice, Clapham which serves six boroughs north and south of the Thames including Westminster...   In yesterday's FT there was a suggestion that the Budget would cull high networth donors
10
APR
Google, Facebook, Apple and Amaazon take £billions out of our economy wihtout paying the correct amount of tax due. This is the new age of uber-fiddling. In Google's case she puts little back. It is time for a Leveson style inquiry into Offshore Tax Fiddles and an outcome might be that the legal and accounting companies who do this should also be be heavily fined if found culpable.
4
APR
Michael Gove's plans for the Universities to have more say (well 22 of them) in the content of A levels beggars belief. First, what is wrong with the Baccalaureate examinations which offer a much wider and tougher spread of subjects? Secondly, without the equivalent of an Ofsted for Universities, we do not want them to do more. Their Napster moment is almost upon them. They need major reforms not a market for higher fees. We should have asked What Are Universities for? and then...
4
APR
Gordon Brown was insistent that the dormant accounts from banks should be used for his pet projects and much as we tried we could not divert him from them. So, the news today that David cameron us to use them to set up (sic) a Big Society Bank is good news. AS ever, before the actual announcement what it might do has been widely trailed this morning across all media. But let us wait and see exactly what he has in mind..............hopefully a third sector stock market in social bonds
28
MAR
What a crackpot system we have in the UK for students wishing to apply for University. First they apply without knowing their A level grades though they have their A/S and GCSE results. So, universities blindly offer places to them. Then when they don't quite reach them there is the most almighty cattle market towards the end of August as students try to find a university, any university to accept them. UCAS believes this is the best system in the world. UCAS should be closed down....
28
MAR
Someone high up at Royal Mail will explain why fifteen  years ago they didn't jump on the email band wagon and offer a free email service......as First class and Second class mail goes up to 60p and 50p respectively this surely is the death knell for their mail service allowing others to enter the market. It may be a sop for privatisation in 2014 (pray who will buy it - Amazon?) but only if it is allowed a monopoly on stamps and post boxes.
26
MAR
Money buys political access just look at the corruption at the heart of the democratic process in America for some of the worst examples. Are we really surprised at the fuss caused by the Sunday Times sting over the weekend which has dominated domestic headlines in all media for three days? I doubt it. There are some ways of cleaning up the stables in Westminster: 1. Allocate 50p per tax payer to a new Political Funding body; their duty would be to allocate that money to...
22
MAR
It may have been a day late but Labour raised an urgent question today in Parliament over the leaks for the last fortnight over the Budget. The Speaker should have reprimanded the Chancellor yesterday.
22
MAR
So Osborne moved the money around giving his rich friends more than hard pressed pensioners and would-be pensioners but where was the budget to grow the economy? Faster broadband for ten cities will not promote growth. Some additional enterprise zones not connected to university science parks will not provide growth. A start up act would have been a starter....... 
21
MAR
There have been so many leaks about the Budget this past fortnight that before the Chancellor's Statement at 1230 today, the Speaker should issue an official warning that this mustn't happen again. It demeans Parliament.
17
MAR
I rang my RA hot line yesterday morning because of a searing arthritic pain in my back; two hours later an ambulance took me to the Chelsea and Westminster hospital and ten hours later after tests and x-rays I was allowed home. The pain was less - I could lie down or stand up - but not sit down.   Today, the pain is still there but not as bad but enough to keep from my beloved Twickenham. Thank you NHS. 
14
MAR
Twenty one members of our Pimlico and St James's Labour party branch were in Parliament yesterday evening to hear Emma Reynolds MP, Shadow Europe Minister, talk enthusiastically about her subject.
8
MAR
Letter published in this week's Sheerness Times Guardian & Kent Messenger (Sittingbourne) (7th March 2012) Dear Sir   I wonder whether it would be possible for our MP to tell us what he thinks about his own party's NHS reforms.   I have searched high and low and can find no speeches he has made in the in the House of Commons nor any questions he has placed on the Order Paper.   Perhaps, he has been too busy meeting all our local doctors in which case...
6
MAR
I had a drink with John Denham in the newly renamed Boxing Bar at the House of Commons last night though I could find no Lonsdale belts just plenty of Strangers. John has already announced he is standing down at the next election and is now PPS to Ed Miliband. There was a time when I thought he might make a very good Deputy PM and leader of the Party. Though Robin Cook won more plaudits for stepping down from the Cabinet over the Iraq War, John was also highly commended.
6
MAR
Merlin is one of the few independent hereditary Peers in the House of Lords and we have been friends for over a decade largely through our support for all things ICT in Parliament. He is now Chairman of EURIM and we chatted about that and the impact of the Norman Conquest north and south of the border.
3
MAR
My local Labour ward - Pimlico and St James's - held a coffee morning at Pimlico Academy this morning. Members brought cakes they'd cooked - lots of them - and we sold tea and coffeetot the public who were using these fabulous facilities.
29
FEB
I went with Martin to San Francisco and then Buenos Aires when he was an MP. We were regular buddies in the House of Commons and have slightly lost touch. We made up for it yesterday with a hearty lunch at Pol Au Pot in Ebury Street.
29
FEB
Mabel came to work for me as an intern when a student. She now works for Harriet Harman MP and is also on the alternative list as a Labour candidate for the GLA elections in May. She is potty about politics! I have known her Dad - Alan - for over 20 years and last met him in Mumbai! (As you do). Her mother is Tracy Ullman. 
24
FEB
I was a guest at the Ed Miliband & Ken Livingston show in SE1 last night. If I was a betting man I would put a tenner on Ken beating Boris in May. He has so many policies which will take London forward whereas Boris just wants to play being mayor and continue with his columns in the Daily Telegraph.
22
FEB
Ed Balls was on top form at an invitation-only invite last night in Westminster. He's slowed his delivery and he's simplified his message whilst making it obvious that he will be the next Chancellor of The Exchequer. I warmed to him in a way I have found difficult in the past.  Impressive: very impressive.  I asked him a question about youth unemployment.
18
FEB
I was one of three panellists at Sittingbourne Labour Party's monthly meeting last night and which was much fun. It was good to be back and meet so many old friends.   Earlier, I had had supper with Ann and Richard Jenkins and caught up with all their news. Jack, my son , and Tom, their son, were good friends. Tom came and worked in my Westminster office when a student.
9
FEB
I chaired the second meeting of Labour's Next Generation Entrepreneurs Network last night at Sofra's Restaurant in Covent Garden. The main speaker was Luke Johnson, serial entrepreneur, FT commentator and a former chairman of C4. He spoke about the need for a Start Up Act. Chuka Umanna, the Shadow Secretary of State for Business, responded and they both took questions afterwards. We had a full house (over 100) which was very encouraging.
29
JAN
Mark Seddon, the former Editor of The Tribune, had a launch party for his new book: Standing for Something at his publishers on Wednesday evening. Simon Hoggart briefly mentioned it in his diary piece in The Guardian yesterday. I taught Mark Economic History when I was a teacher (actually I was even head of history) two thousand years ago..........
25
JAN
I was an invited guest last night to the unveiling of a new commission by Antony Williams of Margaret Beckett MP, the first Labour woman MP to hold one of the three premier offices of state (Foreign Office). The event was held in the Attlee Suite by the Works of Art Committee of which I was a member and deputy chairman for 8 years so this was a commission under the old watch! Catch it at www.parliament.uk/art
19
JAN
I joined Alan Johnson MP and Chuka Ummana MP at a fund raising dinner last night for Val Shawcross, London Assembly Member, who is up for re-election in May. 
14
JAN
I was the first MP to ask for a debate in Parliament on the Barnett Formula for 23 years: 18/12/2001, Westminister Hall Mr. Derek Wyatt (Sittingbourne and Sheppey): First, I want to thank Timothy Edmonds, who did a prodigious amount of work and produced an excellent Library research paper on the Barnett formula, which I am sure that many hon. Members will quote. I also thank Professor Iain McLean—a Scot—of Nuffield college, Oxford, who is currently working at Yale, and who helped me with
11
JAN
The HS2 rail link announced yesterday which is likely to be built not by 2026 but frankly much later. Without Government pump priming and tax support for construction companies it is virtually a non-starter. The original idea by Ove Arup was to create a hub at Heathrow and then link into Crosssrail which is due to be completed in 2015-ish. If the notion of HS2 is to help the economies of the major Midland and Northern cities like Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester then build those
11
JAN
When I suggested at a DCMS Select committee press session in 2004 that newspapers should have a yellow card and red card scheme if they misbehaved (the red card meant that they would not be allowed to be published the next day) I was given the roughest ride by journos present especially those from the Daily Mirror (Editor: Piers Morgan). Indeed, immediately after the session closed Mirror journos were dispatched to my constituency and the village I lived in. They tried to find as much gossip as
11
JAN
Dennis Skinner MP was our guest at my local Labour party ward meeting last night which we held in Parliament (thanks to Dennis).   He spoke about his time in the mines and his subsequent elevation to a local councillor and then as the MP for Bolsover (42 years man and boy). He lamented the state of modern politics where so many MPs come from Think Tanks or Policy groups and not from a "proper" job. He lamented much else as well.
10
JAN
There was a crackingly good debate and discussion at an FT-ie breakfast this morning. For one, the event was a sell out and for two, the panel was outstanding.  Lionel Barber, the FT's editor introduced the panel before making his way to the Leveson Inquiry to give evidence. They were: Guy Elliott, Chief Financial Officer, Rio Tinto Loretta Napoleoni, Economist & Bestselling Author, ‘Rogue Economics’, ‘Terror Incorporated’ & ‘Maonomics’ Ambassador Louis Susman, United...
24
DEC
Freedom for Syria 4715 killed since March 2011 308 children and babies killed 207 women killed 5000 protestors missing 30,000 detained 22,000 refugees have fled the country How come Russia and China cannot bring themselves to open their eyes to this slaughter? How come the EU or NATO or USA cannot intervene? And the Arab world says nothing Shame on us all.
13
DEC
Editorial Intelligence's review of the newspapers: EU VETO: The International Herald Tribune's Roger Cohen says the thing about the Euro-sceptics behind Cameron’s Brussels bungling is they turn past glory into posturing theater. Their nostalgia for British greatness is often no more than the trumpeting of a bunch of insular snobs who seem to have a hard time restraining their inner-fascist. The Independent's Steve Richards thinks Nick Clegg must now face up to the true nature of his...
11
DEC
The longer the distance from Cameron's decision to use his veto at the EU talks on Thursday evening/Friday morning the more it looks as if he put his surly backbenchers who loathe Europe with a passion ahead of the needs of the nation. 
1
DEC
I went with Jonathan Shaw and Sophie Radice (Giles's daughter) to the Labour Party's 1000 Club drinks party last night.
14
NOV
Alan Keen MP has passed away. I will post a longer note shortly.
13
NOV
On Thursday, I travelled up to Oundle School in Northamptonshire, to give a talk to their Year 12 and 13 History and Politics groups on New Labour......
26
OCT
Gordon Henderson MP has spent all his life loathing Europe; he's signed petitions, valued Nick Farrange as a politician (UKIP leader) but when he had the chance to represent his views and some of his constituents what happens? He sits in the Chamber for hours, fails to interrupt other speakers and sits on his hands and then votes against his own Government. Some MP then........... 
25
OCT
To show you connect with the "people" you organise an ePetition on the No.10 web site and agree that those with over 100,000 signatures (the California model) should be debated in the House of Commons. So far so good butt hen 100,000 including myself signed the Sheffield Wednesday/Liverpool petition which asked for all the relevant details of the deaths of the Liverpool fans to be put in the public domain. The result - a debate and a result as Theresa May, the Home Secretary agreed to do...
24
OCT
Pity there is no leadership from the Coalition whatsoever on what Europe should look like by 2015 that's because all they want is more local decision making. It cannot be right that MEPs are not answerable to their own domestic Parliaments. Rather than spend yet more eZillions going to Strasbourg once a month for a week (what a waste of tax payers money) they should have to report to their Parliaments to give an account of themselves. It'll never happen, but if it did, it would make...
23
OCT
Bailing out a country which clearly isn't fit to be in the the eurozone is a huge mistake. The Greeks should vote to start again and rebuild a modern, democratic state. It may be painful but no more public money should be used.  
23
OCT
The Euro was never constituted to act as a "bank" of last resort for its members. The fudge being put together for this week's meetings will cost the EU not just eZillions but prevent growth in all but Germany and push us all into another bout of recession. This tells you that most other members of the Eurozone do not have 21st century banking systems which are properly regulated. That this should still be the case nearly four years after the banking crisis tells you much about the...
16
OCT
I have just finished reading The Purple Book: A Progressive Future for Labour which is 18 essays by the party faithful largely responsible for the mess we are now in. It is a sad reflection that aside from Frank Field there is hardly anything in the any of the essays that stands out as being truly radical. We have been in a Blair-Brown time warp for too long. We need to break out from the past which is what Ed Miliband is trying to do.  
16
OCT
I am besotted by all things Bletchley Park; there's nothing enigmatic about my warmth for the men and women who worked so hard for us and broke so many codes during WW2 to shorten it by maybe as much as three years. So another book on life there has just been devoured by YT and jolly good it was too. The extraordinary thing is that so many of the players - both large and small - have kept this very English story to themselves for so long. If you've not been to the HQ - go and see...
15
OCT
Derek: -   Thank you very much for giving us your views on House of Lords reform.  We had over 4,100 responses, including over 2,500 separate submissions in people’s own words.   We sent all your submissions to the joint committee on House of Lords reform on Wednesday - it came to 5,409 pages!  Separately, we also sent them our own, somewhat shorter submission, which took into account your responses to the survey we asked people to fill in.   Here’s what we’ve...
13
OCT
Incentizen: incentivising the citizen by Derek Wyatt   I subscribe to the 80:20 society. You know 80% of us pay our taxes whilst 20% either employ tax avoiding accountants or don’t work and have no intention of working. We pour policies and £millions at the 20% and hardly acknowledge the silent majority or now, the squeezed middle. Why is this?   Everywhere I shop I am treated as a citizen who needs a small reward to make me want to keep coming back. It started with Green Shield...
12
OCT
I went to my local Labour Party branch meeting last night at the Fabian Society's HQ in Dartmouth Street. Our guest speaker was Hannah Davies from One World Action which sadly is about to close after 22 years as a charity - I wonder how many other charities are in a similar position? One World has championed the rights of women all over the world. We also talked about the new Westminster Car Parking scheme which the Tories seemed to have done a u turn on; clean streets, the NHS
11
OCT
In a few minutes I will be on my feet in the House of Commons calling for the end of the feudal nature of England's land ownership legislation and the enshrining of co-operative housing in law. I will be introducing the Co-operative Housing Tenure Bill under the Ten Minute Rule. It is now harder than ever for young people to find a home of their own and if we are to address this issue it is time to look beyond the traditional options of ownership or tenancy. This Bill would open the way...
7
OCT
I went to hear Ahdaf Souier speak at a CAABU event last night at the Anglo Arab British Chamber of Commerce in Grosvenor Street last night. She is busy trying to complete her book on Cairo (fifteen years in the making) in time for publication on the anniversary of Tahrir Square on 25th January 2012.  She read some of the extracts from her book to a packed audience. From a British perspective the Military is sitting on its collective hands. This is because they know that if...
28
SEP
27
SEP
Liverpool  Labour Party Conference 2011 Ticket to Ride I have a soft spot for Liverpool. It has been central to the wealth of the nation for over 150 years but since WW2 the City, despite the swinging sixties and the Beatles and the stunning success of Liverpool FC et al, it partly lost its way.  Today, some of the old swagger is back especially around the Albert Dock which has been transformed. I first encountered it one dark, dank, cold February morning in 1958 as
27
SEP
Liverpool Labour Party Conference 2011 Day 1 A Hard Day's Night I was still ill this time last year to go to the Party Conference and so missed Ed's coronation which was a pity as I had supported him. In 2007, I had voted for Harriet Harman as deputy leader and she just crept in at the last. I had wanted a woman to be our deputy and was glad to see the Party is to enshrine this in our regulations. I had been ever present since 1994 when Paul , now the MP for Newcastle under Lyme,...
27
SEP
Liverpool Labour Party Conference 2011 Day 2 Good Morning, Good Morning I woke suddenly at just after 8am realising I and already missed my working breakfast. I was half dressed as I raced out of my hotel ..... I was part of the Shadow BIS team which had put on a whole day's alternative conference for FTSE100 companies and the like. I had agreed to the morning session before Ed Balls' big speech just after midday. I was not at my best. Balls' was good, coherent and sensible...
27
SEP
Liverpool Labour Party Conference 2011 Day 3 Yesterday Today I did two things. In the morning, I went to Tate Liverpool now in its 22nd year to see the Rene Magritte exhibition which was simply spectacular. About 800 people a day have been coming to it since it opened in late June (it runs until mid October) with many more at the weekend so my sense was that over 100,000 will have seen it which, given the recession, is very impressive. I left humming Paul Simon's "Rene and...
27
SEP
Liverpool Labour Party Conference 2011 I Want to Hold Your Hand Wyatt's Bumping Into Guide ***** Ten minutes or more conversation **** Five minutes *** A one minute Hello ** Hand shake or peck on the cheek * Business card exchange ***** Paul Farrelly MP, Jonathan Shaw, Neil Stewart, Tom Bradby (ITN), Alex Russell (Sport England), Tina Davy, Nigel Warner (ITV), Mary Fagan (ITV), Jack McConnell, **** Ed Miliband, Tom Levitt, Martha Kearney (Radio 4)F, Lucian Hudson (OU),...
16
SEP
Next week, Palestine will attempt to persuade the UNO it should be recognised as a country in its own right. Let's hope it is successful. It is time the country came in from the cold.
14
SEP
This is Alistair Darling's rather good book on the Banking Crisis which took over his life whilst Chancellor of The Exchequer. It has been widely reviewed and favourably too. Alistair isn't quite the dour Scot people make him out to be but he is a no nonsense sort of guy with a very safe pair of hands which he displayed in all his senior political positions in the Cabinet (Treasury/Social Security/Works & Pensions/Transport & Treasury again). Indeed only Jack Straw and...
12
SEP
The Credit Crunch began in 2008; the Vickers Report was published this morning. George Osborne says the reforms will be in place in 2019 eleven years late. Is it any wonder we have such a  dysfunctional democracy? Parties should go into the next election with the slogan "Protect the Bankers' Bonuses".
11
SEP
Remembering 9.11 I was at a lunch with the Motorola EMEA Board in The Strand when Anna, who ran my office in Parliament, paged me to tell me I ought to try and see a television screen immediately. I made an excuse found a set in the hotel only to see the one of the Twin Towers in smoke. Within half an hour I was back at my desk watching the second plane hit the second tower. You had to pinch yourself as it seemed like a scene from a movie not a real live event. At...
28
AUG
George Osborne said in today's The Observer that the plans announced earlier this week - which gives the power to levy UK taxes on UK citizens "hidden" bank accounts in Switzerland - is the beginning of a clamp down on all overseas accounts. This smells. We need first to put into the public domain the names of those UK taxpayers who have failed to legally pay their rightful taxes in the UK. We need to publicise the lawyers and accountants who have been their advisors. The UK...
27
AUG
As the western economies teeter on the brink of a second recession it is clear that everyone is no longer certain what the solution is? Nor is there unanimous agreement on what really causes growth especially at this moment in time. In his new book The End of Growth, which has just been published in the UK, Richard Heinberg suggests that the two current economic theories which have dominated since the mid 1930s are no longer relevant. They are (i) Keynes/Keynesian -...
20
AUG
The last of Chris Mullins' three volume set of Diaries - which he has produced since he stood down in May, 2010 after 23 years as the MP for Sunderland South - was published earlier this week. The first two covered 1999-2010 and were insightful, witty and penetrating in analysis and this one entitled A Walk-On Part is no different.   Whilst Diaries are a rarity in American political history - the two accounts of Obama's win in 2008 have been David Plouffe's The...
16
AUG
Towards the end of his life I had supper with Elwyn Jones, the former Attorney General and Lord Chancellor. I asked him if there was anything he regretted in the Justice system. He said that just after WW2 the judiciary felt that sentencing should be along the lines of a "Short, sharp shock" but they were convinced otherwise by the first wave of sociologists who said that offenders needed long sentences. Long sentences have never worked but it is my belief that until we...
5
AUG
The thought of one third of all babies born today reaching the age of 100 is hard to take in. How on earth will we have enough resources to look after them when they are in their 80s and 90s?  But we can't wait until then we have to make savings now. Here's one suggestion: The NHS will be free from the ages of 0-18 (25 if a part or full time student) and Over 70 Between 18-70 it will be compulsory to hold...
30
JUL
We are watching the slow death of the greatest nation in the world since 1917 as the Republicans in America play the worst kind of politics on The Hill. Have they not spotted the increase in poverty in their own country and the failure of successive governments to provide decent housing? Have they not understood the global presence of the BRIC countries? It was a hugely disappointing day for the world last night in Washington, DC: tea party or no tea party.
19
JUL
Just over two years ago, the Daily Telegraph dropped its MPs Expenses bombshell; The Speaker resigned which in itself was a first for hundreds of years; four MPs and a Peer are serving prison sentences whilst another Peer is awaiting sentence.  Today, less than eights days after the Milly Dowler hacking story surfaced, the Murdochs will be giving evidence at the DCMS Select committee and the Met Police will be back at another. Are we witnessing a repeat of the MPs...
18
JUL
Murdoch & Co: missing information: 1. Name of Police informants and pay; dates of when this started 2. Meeting schedules between them and News Int. staff or intermediaries 3. Emails from James Murdoch to other board members and senior staff about his settlement conditions with those people who'd had their phones hacked 4. Brookes-Coulson-J.Murdoch meetings and emails and phone records where appropriate  
16
JUL
Q. So there are thousands of mobiles which have been hacked. A. How many sub-contractors need to be employed to listen to all the tapes? Q. Have the tapes actually been listened to or have they been collected waiting for the time when a story breaks for them to be accessed? A. Hopefully this will become clear on Tuesday's Evidence session in Parliament.   
15
JUL
Lord Adonis chaired an excellent discussion between Alistair Darling MP and Sir Richard Lambert at the Institute for Government last night. www.editorialintelligence.com  
13
JUL
The Euro has continually climbed against the £ over the past four years; ten years ago 1 euro was worth 66p today it is close to 88p. In the same time Europe has expanded to include previous rogue Soviet states with rogue-like accountability in its Banking systems. Plus, there have been defaults in Ireland, Portugal and Greece with Italy and Spain not far behind as the euro comes under intense pressure.  And yet, and yet, the euro holds fast. How can this be? Italy's banking and...
12
JUL
The Murdoch Family have a number of balls in the air: In the UK ** resolve hacking scandal; rejig senior management roles; Rebekah Brooks moved to New York or LA ** 2011 - launch the Sun on Sunday; 2012-13 - sell the Sunday Times, The Times, The Sun and the Sun on Sunday newspapers; share price will be restored ** 2013+ - renew bid for BSkyB once newspapers have been sold; share price will go through the roof
9
JUL
I worked for BSkyB from 1995-1997 when I created what was to become dot.tv, a computer television channel for families. I was lucky enough to travel to Seattle, Washington, DC, NY, LA and Silicon Valley to witness the birth of the Net Generation and the launch of Netscape then the largest IPO in history. I raised $20m for my channel but it was sequestered by News Corp at a News International board meeting by the boss himself. BSkyB was the fastest moving media company in the UK in the late...
7
JUL
This Sunday will be the last edition of The News of The World.................
5
JUL
Every day I wake up and wonder am I the only person in the UK who hasn't had his phone hacked. There clearly was something profoundly wrong within the senior management team at the News of the World over the past eight years and its owners must act to fire all those involved. The PCC must be reformed and include non-editors and journalists if it to carry weight. The Met Police's relationship with both the NoW and The Sun needs an independent inquiry.
29
JUN
When Greece won the Olympic bid I went - before the Games and after them - to find out how on earth they could have funded the whole shebang. It was all smoke and mirrors. Even Stock Exchange fund managers couldn't tell me. The Olympics was small beer when compared to how on earth Greece managed to find itself inside the Eurozone. Politics came ahead of economics both inside Greece and the European Council of Ministers.   Greece has been run by three or four very...
28
JUN
How does this happen? I attended St George's Hospital, Tooting three weeks ago; the Consultant said I would be telephoned the next day for an out-patient session on how to dress my poor old legs; three weeks later and I've still heard nothing; I have left messages on the ansafone in the department but no-one has had the grace to respond......... We are all the biggest fans of the NHS but who manages it? I waited over four months for an appointment for a leg which has given my trouble
23
JUN
I have been in NY this week and have missed the furore over Greece, the EU and the future of the euro debates in Parliament. This morning I was reading my FT and saw in The Letters page that 10 newly elected 2010 Tory MPs had signed a letter which is headlined "An opportunity for the UK to shape Europe's post-crisis order". Knowing that Gordon Henderson, also elected in 2010, and avowedly anti-European, I looked for his signature. But alas, it was missing. Why? Is he not connected...
19
JUN
The last minute bail out by Germany of Greece has saved the euro for the moment. Standard & Poors comments about the state of the French and Italian economies should not surprise us; no-one quite knows what their debts are as their accountancy practices are hardly transparent especially in Government. Greece, Portugal, Ireland and maybe Spain but an Italy or a France and the euro is dead; how then does it keep its value? Who is buying or hedging?
11
JUN
Former PM Blair said earlier this week that we need a President for Europe, no doubt still hoping it would be him (though surely Peter Mandelson would want to stand against him - that's if he has time after running the World Bank before breakfast). Europe is bankrupt; not financially, not morally, not socially but politically so Blair has a point. Worse, there is a crisis of corporate confidence in where growth in any of our economies is going to come from as India and China steam on...
11
JUN
Bob Marshall-Andrews, former MP for Medway, actor, rugby player and QC, was in fine fettle at the launch of his book: Off Message (Profile) on Thursday evening. I caught up with Wendy and her son Dillon Woods (from Cry Freedom fame) though that was 14 years ago, a couple or recovering MPs and some old soaks (I wonder what they call me?). The Publishers failed to have enough books on hand so I have ordered mine from Amazon and much look forward to reading it. On his day he can be the...
3
JUN
http://link.email.washingtonpost.com/r/VP6EHT/ FX9QHQ/ZV5JW4/KCKYNP/H0PYL/OS/h  John Edwards's indictment brings to mind the quote "Power Corrupts, Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely". Here is its origins: It arose as a quotation by John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton, first Baron Acton (1834–1902). The historian and moralist, who was otherwise known simply as Lord Acton: he expressed this opinion in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887: "Power tends to...
1
JUN
Today's London newspapers End of life care Daily Mail: How do you want to die? GP charter offers seven pledges to the terminally ill The Guardian: Royal colleges create charter for terminally ill patients NHS reforms   The Guardian (NHS blog): Dying people need integrated services, not open competition, says Help the Hospices   The Guardian: GP consortiums ‘may not be accountable’ for £60bn NHS spend Elderly care BBC News: Letter warns over long term care...
1
JUN
Royal College of GPs End of Life Care Patient Charter A charter for the care of people who are nearing the end of their life "You matter because you are you, you matter to the last moment of your life and we will do all we can, not only to let you die peacefully, but to help you live until you die" Dame Cicely Saunders. We want to offer people who are nearing the end of their life the highest quality of care and support. We wish to help you live as well as you can, for as long as
27
MAY
Political stage management has reached new heights (or depths) these past two weeks. First, we had a very sensible and low key - over due - first visit of our monarch to Ireland since independence. Then President O'Bama arrived as part one of his Family Mystery tour to claim Mickey O'bama as a long lost cousin. How we lapped it up and how he seized the moment and the glass of Guinness (was HRH Prince Philip's anguish look at his glass the longest scowl in...
26
MAY
The vacancy at the top of the IMF should go to one of the BRIC companies. We are fooling ourselves by backing Christine Lagarde, the French Finance Minister, and we're only doing this to spite former PM Gordon Brown. Brown's work at the IMF in 2007-08 was central to the saving of the world's economies. For David Cameron and especially George Osborne to line up behind Lagarde shows a meanness of spirit but leaving that to one side either we understand the essence of globalisation or we make...
25
MAY
Hardly a day goes by without some further news that this or that part of the existing NHS Bill, currently on pause, has been altered..... In case you're confused here's some help: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-12177084 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-12750695 . http://www.kingsfund.org.uk/topics/governance_regulation_and_accountability/index.html#keypoints http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/conservative/8379284/Andrew-Lansley-signals-retreat-over-NHS-reforms.html
22
MAY
Chris Huhne MP, a Secretary of State no less,  may have hung himself out to dry. Presumably, he filled in and then signed the form about the "speeding offence" ..........his soon-to-be ex-wife took the wrap (not the first partner to be asked to do so judging from a breakfast I was at earlier in the week).  Do you mean he cannot recall doing this or that his car was in his wife's name?   I think we should be told before the bell
22
MAY
Mitch Daniels, Governor, Indiana since 2004 Nothing much happens in Indiana except Indianapolis: it's a middle American state with a lot of middling. And then there's Mitch Daniels. He still isn't sure about putting his hat in the ring for the Republican nomination; he hates the fund-raising and endless dinners which it inevitably brings. So what if the fund raising could be done by another group of supporters? Enter George W Bush and the Republican team from...
19
MAY
Let's make some assumptions - Scotland is going to distance itself from England and Wales over the next five years whether that be by moving to fiscal independence first or complete independence (are they different propositions?). The House of Lords is not going to be reformed but an unelected House is no longer appropriate. The answer? Four lower Parliaments - England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland - with equal powers but bound together by a UK Senate (which is what the House...
17
MAY
I had a lunch arranged with Jon Cruddas at the Cork & Bottle which was great fun; moving on from Leicester Square I bumped into Ed Balls and for good measure then met the shadow BIS team in the late afternoon.   The talking points were Andrew Rawnsley's article in The Observer and Ed Miliband's inner council meeting on Sunday morning.
17
MAY
The Ivy League universities aren't quite what you think. London Review of Books: http://www.lrb.co.uk
17
MAY
Last week you win a majority of the seats in a Scottish Parliament and then you announce you will at some stage hold a referendum on independence. Does Alex Salmond pose one, two or three questions on the Ballot paper? One would be too strong asking voters for a Yes or a No. Three might be confusing but if they were: a) full independence b) full fiscal independence or c) a compromise on both you'd likely vote for b) but at least the voters would be able to give an indication of what...
17
MAY
If the Lib Dems lose another Secretary of State or VIP politician (David Laws) then Cameron must reflect on whether his coalition partners are up for it.. What price a general election in September, 2012 just after the warm glow of the London Olympics?
5
MAY
WE can argue about why we are voting on AV on the same day as some elections across the UK but the fact is today is the day to change British politics forever. In 1997, 2001 and 2005 I was never elected by 50% of the voters and the only way that your MP can claim he has the authority of a majority of the voters is for there to be a change to AV. So today change the political landscape forever and vote AV. Of course the Tories don't want it, it would hurt them the most. They claim...
3
MAY
When all the plaudits die down and the US political machinery trains its fire on its own dire economy, the fact remains that last week all the Republican Presidential hopefuls could ask for was President Obama's birth certificate. You couldn't really make it up. America: a country where less than 50% bother to vote for their own president, where $billions is spent on such elections and yet they have the nerve to espouse their democratic message around the world as though its...
8
APR
Lords a Leapin'    On Wednesday, I was a rare visitor to the House of Lords to have lunch with my old mucker, John Maxton, now Lord Maxton, with whom I shared four years,  when he was an MP, on the DCMS Select Committee chaired by Geraldo Kaufmann MP.    Nick Clegg's favourite song maybe As Tears Go By, by the wistful Marianne Faithfull, sponsored by Kleenex, but his understanding of networking is slight..... Here is the Lord's...
5
APR
Andrew Lansley's attempts to force a greater degree of private companies in to run the NHS have hit the buffers. This may or may not be good for Trinity Hospice. If the reforms are slowed down and delayed to 2014-15 then in an election cycle the chances are they will be postponed until after 2015.
4
APR
http://link.email.washingtonpost.com/r/1BAF0O/V1GPVU/WOZQM7/7NP8JW/N2UEZ/36/h
3
APR
Why are the Tories so hostile to such a sensible change to the voting system as the Alternative Vote and why has the Sunday Times come out in support of the status quo? Consider what happened to me at the General Elections of 1997, 2001 and 2005. I won with less than 40% of the total votes cast. How can this be democratic? The Alternative Vote gives voters more choice to elect an MP closest to their own beliefs. Voters will list the candidates in order of preference and...
24
MAR
What are Budgets for? We had two last year. We had one yesterday. No-one really understands them as the detail, as ever, is always in the detail - witness the fuss already about the 1p reduction in fuel duty which may be clawed back by the oil companies who dislike the extra tax on their profits. Budgets are old fashioned political nonsense. FTSE 100 companies work on three year rolling budgets and then more especially one year and as importantly, each quarter. They have shareholders...
20
MAR
The Committee invites written submissions which should arrive no later than 4 April 2011.   E-mail submissions are preferred and should be in Word format (not PDF) and sent to proccom@parliament.uk. Postal submissions should be sent to the Clerk, Procedure Committee, Journal Office, House of Commons, London  SW1A 0AA. Further information can be obtained from the Clerk at this address or by telephone on 0207 219 3318. Committees make public much of the evidence they receive during
11
MAR
Bangladesh (I visited it for a week last year) is, according to Transparency International, the third most corrupt country in the world. Small wonder that its judiciary primed by its politicians - it is sometimes difficult to tell them apart - moved this week to ensure Muhammad Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank, was barred as a board director. Muhammad Yunus won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work on micro-financing and his bank has helped over 8 million families - that's 8 million more than
17
FEB
What possessed Caroline Spelman to open up the possibility of the privatisation of our forests? Was there an edict from No.10? Was it her impotent civil servants who'd be told to find something to privatise to help her ailing career? We may never know but in the space of a week a dreadful policy, incoherently presented by Spelman has been binned. The Tories simply do not have the common touch.
17
FEB
Read the Parliamentary & Health Service Ombudsman's Care & Compassion report on old people in the NHS and wonder why compensation for a mistake which leads to death is only worth £2000 and why no-one was fired........ www.ombudsman.org.uk www.tsoshop.co.uk
15
FEB
David Cameron has spent three days trying to justify his BigSoc idea. Given the Economy and the NHS look as though they will require major u-turns during 2011 it does seem rather odd that he should try and convince the nation of its merits. At every county, unitary and borough council level there are substantial cuts and maybe as many as 500,000 pubic servants will be made redundant during the year. He asks if local politicians would make more of them redundant rather than squeeze...
27
JAN
There's a very nasty smell and it is coming from the Met Police and senior staff at the News of The World. It looks as if the hacking of the mobile phones of a larger number of senior people in the media spotlight is endemic. It also looks as if there is an unhealthy relationship between the Met Police and some staff at the News of The World. David Cameron must stop supporting News Corp. He must instigate a new review of hacking to be carried out by another police force other
27
JAN
Over the past few years there have been a number of books examining how we might change society. Consider: Malcolm Gladwell's Tipping Point Richard Thaler & Cass Sunstein's Nudge (which Cameron thinks is A1) Charles Leadbetter's  We-Think & Matthew Bishop & Michael Green's Philanthro-Capitalism But the subject that needs to be re-visited is Trust. This was the name of book by Anthony Seldon, it was rushed out in 2009 at the time of the MPs...
25
JAN
This morning I attended the Edelman breakfast on their Trust Barometer now in its 11th Year. Check it out at www.edelman.com The Report will feature in the FT tomorrow and be launched officially at Davos on Friday.
22
JAN
Say what you like about the current political firmament but the media likes nothing more than a scandal; this week it was rather like waiting for buses for an age and then along come 2 or 3......... Andy Coulson had to go. The illegal hacking by News of the World journalists whilst he was Editor is causing great anxiety inside NewsCorp just at a time when they are seeking to buy BSkyB. Tony Blair's evidence on why we went to war with Iraq looks flimsier by the week. It was Labour's...
20
JAN
I was interviewed this evening just after SIX about MPs' pay, the resignation of Alan Johnson and what I am currently doing with my life.....
15
JAN
The Fabian New Year Conference at the Institute of Education was packed today to hear Ed Miliband speak. He poured vitriol on Clegg and Cameron and rightly so. They have one argument for all their savage cuts "Labour mismanagement". There is an element of truth in that accusation. But the world wide banking fiasco has been air brushed away by the Clegg-Cameroon teams. And now we see that they have refused to reign in the bankers despite the £billions of public money we have paid to...
14
JAN
So let's review the spin: Elwyn Watkins, the defeated Lib Dem candidate in the May, 2010 General Election subsequently brought a successful legal case against the winning Labour candidate, Phil Woolas (who won by a mere 103 votes) after two high court judges had ruled that he had told lies about Watkins in campaign literature. If there was any sympathy with Watkins he should have won this seat by a landslide. Instead his lack lustre campaign, unusual for the Lib Dems...
10
JAN
The Oldham & Saddleworth by-election on Thursday could result in a win for Labour. Polls cannot make up their minds (as if they have them) as to whether the Lib Dems or the Tories will be pushed into third place. A win for Labour would be a vindication of the work the local party and its previous MP have accomplished over 13 years.   The Coalition will fall apart at some stage - the really active members of the Lib Dems won't want to join Cleggy in the Tories and will finally
10
JAN
Voter YES in the upcoming referendum to change the voting system The supporters of the old politics have a problem. They refuse to defend the current system, and as has been reported this week in the Financial Times, they are now even confused about which MPs support them. We need you to write to your MP and ask them if they're for Yes or for No. Take a moment now to explain to your MP why you want change. And if they don't want change, ask them why they support first past the post.
9
JAN
I stayed with Frank and Lyndy Sobey over the weekend. We have been close friends for forty years since we were students at St.Luke's College, Exeter. Indeed, Frank was one of my two vice-presidents when I was President of the Students' Union! We went to an NUS Conference at Margate when a young Jack Straw was our President.  Yesterday afternoon, as the weather was so wonderful, we went up to Dartmoor where amongst the isolation, we took in Dartmoor Prison - it would be hard to find
26
DEC
What kind of management, having failed to clear snow from its runways for three days because of a lack of equipment, sees its passengers waiting for the same three days and switches off the heating at Heathrow at 10pm??? Step forward the dreadful lot who own Heathrow: GRUPO FERROVIAL. Why were people subjected to queuing outside in the cold at Eurostar? Here's what should happen next: ** a new independent regulator (paid for by the owners of airports and the airlines who use them)...
23
DEC
No amount of sticking plaster will save the Lib Dems as a party with integrity. They have sold their birthright to the Tories who are gleeful at their ongoing demise. They will be decimated in the local elections in May and indeed if anyone is actually examining the odd by-election result at county or local council level (e.g. Dover) they are hardly registering a vote.  Those Lib Dem ministers who know the deal is over should step aside and rejoin their own party before it...
21
DEC
Secretary of State Vince Cable MP caught in a Daily Telegraph sting should do the decent thing and join the Labour Party.
14
DEC
Julian Assange has done the global citizen a service by putting online the US sourced leaks known affectionately as wikileaks. The recent spate which may last another month are being coordinated with the working cooperation of, at least, The Guardian (UK),  the New York Times (USA) & Le Monde (France).  In essence what is at stake here is whose information is it? Does it belong to Governments or does it belong to its citizens who elect...
13
DEC
Ask any Tory candidate in the May 2010 Election and they would have told you that Labour's noise about pending cuts to the Educational Maintenance Allowances and to Sure Starts should the Tories win were absolutely baseless. David Cameron said they'd be no cuts to either EMA or Sure Starts but guess what? EMAs are to go and Sure Starts have been cut by at least 11% and their funding is no longer ring fenced.  It is simply outrageous to close the two most important elements which have
1
DEC
The venue: Edelman in Victoria Street, SW1 The topic: The Big Society The Speakers: Nick Hurd MP, Minister for Civil Society, John Armitt, ODA, Peter Oborne, Daily Telegraph, Kevin Maguire, Daily Mirror and John Sauven of Greenpeace The Chairman: Robert Phillips, Edelman CEO The debate: www.edelman.com The question from me: I posed the question that just as Bonhoeffer had predicted the church would become the social church after WW2 -viz Oxfam, War on Want, Shelter, Samaritans et
30
NOV
We have 165 UK universities of one form or another. If we are going to increase tuition fees and reduce income from overseas students by capping their numbers (what's the sense of this when they pay full fees of c£20k?) then the first question which needs to be asked is what is the purpose of Higher Education for the next 30 years and once we have settled that argument we should then find ways of funding it. China will overtake America as the lead economy by 2020. India will be fourth,...
28
NOV
Andrew Rawnsley's article in today The Observer about the reasons why we should support a change to the first past the post system was spot on. When I was an MP (1997-2010) I always wanted to be elected by 50% +1 of the population. The only way this is possible is to bring in some kind of Alternative Vote. The nation has a chance to vote on this next May in a referendum. How sad then that the old soaks of the Labour Party happy to be branded New Labour under Blair but who could not
26
NOV
Last night the South African Embassy played host to a screening of The Sixteenth Man a documentary film about John Carlin's book Playing the Enemy which then became the Hollywood movie: Invictus. John introduced the film and took questions. Unusually, the film has been shown on television in the USA and South Africa but shamefully not a single broadcaster has come forward to show it in the UK. Given the wall to wall coverage rugby is having as we move towards next year's Rugby...
7
NOV
All Change Again in China? Over the past few weeks there have been a number of articles about Xi Jinping. First up was The Economist two weeks ago followed by The Sunday Times and now today The Observer. See: www.economist.com www.thesundaytimesonline.co.uk www.observer.giardian.co.uk It may be premature but he could be the next leader of China in 2012. Last month he was appointed vice chair of the Central Military Commission under President Hu Jintao.
6
NOV
Only in America could you spend $130 million to try to win the Governorship of California and lose as Meg Whitman did earlier this week. £130 million? Is the US version of democracy always about the man or woman with the most money who should win?? How can this be an exportable value to the rest of the world viz Iraq and Afghanistan? There's hardly been a bleep about this in the US media......
5
NOV
The plans for Higher Education announced by David Willetts on Wednesday in Parliament look as though they were done on the back of an envelope. Two questions failed to be asked: What should our university pattern look like for the next 25 years in a world in which China and India will overtake USA? How should we fund this pattern? Instead we have a plan for short termism which will help no-one - not UKplc, not our universities and certainly not our students. There's not even an...
3
NOV
Imagine, you were elected as a brand new Congress member in 2008, you've just sorted your house, family, children's education and barely started to understand how the House works when midway through your first year you have to start working for your election in 18 months time. Bonkers? Welcome to the US system no wonder voter turnout is rarely above 50%. For how much longer can America really claim it has the best democracy in the world?
26
OCT
This morning's radio and television coverage of the heads of MPs....... http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/ newsid_9127000/9127549.stm   http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/ entertainment-arts-11625272    
20
OCT
There are essentially two Schools of Economics when a country is faced with a recession. The first has been beautifully exposed in Naomi Klein's book: The Shock Doctrine yet it is the course of action the ConDem coalition parties in the UK have decided to take. The tabloids would call it "Slash & Burn" but the more serious would describe it as "Making  a thinner state".....that is apparently you can create growth and employment by reducing...
17
OCT
Tony Blair's A Journey has sold 209,175 at the last count easily the top selling autobiography of the year. Others doing well include: Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love which has clocked an amazing 321,460 copies and The Fry Chronicles by Stephen Fry which has sold 102,145 books.
15
OCT
It is nearly forty years ago since I first read a Woodward book albeit with his co-author Carl Bernstein: it was the famous All The President's Men and then its follow up The Final Days. I was transfixed and still have the paperbacks in my library and a video of the film which even shook my children when we watched it a couple of years ago. I wonder whether the Clinton-Lewinsky affair will one day receive the white carpet treatment?   More recently (the past decade) I have read
10
OCT
You have to hope that Lord Browne's Report started with: What is the UK's university sector for before he then tells how it ought to be funded? Here's what would be in my Report: 1. A compulsory gap year between school and university including a three month paid compulsory national social service scheme 2. The introduction of an Ofsted for teaching at undergraduate level and a secondary assessment of whether all universities are fit for purpose. 3. Those students at school...
1
OCT
It was almost as if I hadn't been away.....first the East Kent Gazette, in Sittingbourne, runs a piece about my having given 30 or so artefacts to the local musuem in East Street which I had collected as the local MP over the past 13 years, then BBC Radio Kent does a live interview with me about Ed Miliband because I suspect I was the only former Labour MP from a Kent constituency who voted for him and finally, Your Swale called, to do an interview about......"What's it like being...
28
SEP
I do hope David Miliband stays inside the Labour shadow cabinet but it would be understandable if he went off to Harvard or to work for Hillary Clinton. And though last night's unseemly media fest was all about whether he would stay, today's focus was on Ed as he delivered his first leader's speech. And jolly good it was too. He has a lot to do and he outlined just how much in his amusing speech where he seemed quite an ease despite probably not having slept much this past 72 hours....
27
SEP
One of the joys of stepping down from Parliament has been the new time I have had for others and other things. Today was no exception as I had lunch with Mark Fisher who'd also stood down this year after 27 years as MP for Stoke on Trent. He had had two brain operations in the New Year and rightly thought his longer term health should come first plus, and more importantly, he was marrying Gilly, so why not a fresh start? He cooked me lunch up in W10 and we chatted for a day and...
25
SEP
Ed Miliband is the new leader of the Labour Party; he just beat his brother David by 1.3%. I backed Ed from day one and was also a small contributor to his campaign. He is the change candidate we need to move the party forward to the next Election. I think the current electoral college is wrong and it should be one member one vote.
24
SEP
If we are really to be a creditable national party again we need to revise our rules. There are two areas which need immediate revision: Leadership Elections 1. Capped at £25k per candidate; one free mail to all members 2. One vote for every member; why should an MP's vote be worth 600 x that of a member? OVOM. 
22
SEP
Lost in the current publishing frenzy over Blair's autocriography is Giles Radice's excellent "Trio - inside the Blair, Brown, Mandelson Project". Radice likes comparison biographies and another good read is his "The Tortoise and The Hares: Attlee, Bevin, Cripps, Dalton and Morrison"
21
SEP
According to a Tory source four Government departments have agreed cuts with the Treasury of between 30% and 40% but none of them managed the demanding 40%........This will be pretty devastating when the cuts come in for 2011-2012 which will make the latter part of 2011 miserable for many. It is not yet clear how the ConDems hope to create more jobs.
21
SEP
Oxford University's new School of Government announced formally yesterday - the Leonard Blavatnik School of Government no less (he has generously donated £75m!) may at some stage mean re-thinking PPE.......
21
SEP
Blair's A Journey tops sales after two weeks of 150,000; Mandelson's absurd named Third Man fails to reach 60,000 despite the hype. Meanwhile Andrew Rawnsley's The End of the Party is now out in paperback with additional chapters highlighting the painful Labour defeat in May and the five days which subsequently shook Whitehall. 
21
SEP
First the confessions, I worked as a freelance for The Times in 1982-83 (Owned by NewsCorp) and for BSkyB (largest shareholder, NewsCorp) in 1995-97. When Rupert Murdoch bought The Times he saved it; it has probably never made a profit. Is it a good newspaper? It is. His other stable mates The Sunday Times, the News of the World and The Sun have mostly recorded annual profits as do some of their web sites.  When Rupert Murdoch established Sky in 1987-88 it was a huge financial...
14
SEP
The Trade Union Conference at Manchester yesterday lay bare some of the nation's anxieties about the 40% cuts in most Government departments, as if you could cut that much and still deliver any worthwhile services? The what-if scenario is what if George Osborne's efforts take the UK economy, just as it is recovering, thanks to the Labour Government's slowly slowly methodology, into a second recession? What will be its plans for growth then and what will its plans be for...
13
SEP
Ed Miliband looks set to become the new leader of the Labour Party. In polls in yesterday's papers it looks as though his low lying, grass roots campaign based on some aspects of Obama's viral campaigns back in 2008, could lead to him winning after the second or third votes have been redistributed. It is clearly wrong and against our party's democratic principles for David Miliband to have raised over £300k for his campaign. A point Andy Burnham, the only non-London based...
13
SEP
Blair's autobiography "A Journey" leads the way open to a possible follow up called "An Arrival" but, notwithstanding its title, it has sold and sold and sold with figures suggesting it broke all records with nearly 100,000 being bought in its opening week. This despite having to pull out of one public signing and one launch party.  It maybe that Peter Mandelson thought he was being clever by bringing forward his own book to capture attention but sales have fallen away...
6
SEP
I'm sure it will have come as some relief that the William Hague story was absent across the red top Sunday newspapers yesterday. There will come a time soon in the UK, as has happened elsewhere, when Bloggers will be sued for defamation and ISPs may well be caught up in an individual case as the carriers of said information. It was embarrassing for the body politic and for the nation as a whole that William Hague had to divulge private information about his wife with...
6
SEP
It is important - if you do not want David Miliband as your choice for the Labour leadership - how you vote in the election. If you vote first for Diane Abbott, Andy Burnham or Ed Balls please make sure you place Ed Miliband 2nd on your ballot paper.
6
SEP
Ballot papers are being delivered across London today.
31
AUG
Having been quoted in an Andrew Rawnsley book* I thought my chances of further fame were decidely limited until today when Amazon delivered me Chris Mullins' Volume 2 Decline & Fall where I make four lines about the 2007 fiasco over the General Election that wasn't. * Andrew Rawnsley The End of the Party 
30
AUG
There's no real surprise that the media has a story about Mandelson supporting David M only that he cannot quite come out and say that - unusually for him. Of course, Blair's book is released on Wednesday the day we all receive our ballot slips for the leadership of the Party. He is bound to use the event to support David Miliband. It is hardly surprising that the two people responsible for New Labour and all its faults want to keep themselves and their ideology going so...
29
AUG
Ed Miliband was in brilliant form on Friday lunchtime when he addressed a full house at the Coin Street Neighbourhood Centre. It is becoming clearer by the day that he is the only change candidate of the five standing for the Labour leadership and I sense the only one who can really take on Cameron. When the PM's private conversations are leaked telling us he fears David Miliband it shows you that actually he fears his brother more. It was the same in 2005 when Cameron...
24
AUG
The General Election in Australia is close, maybe one, maybe two, seats in it. The strangest part of the whole operation is seeing Tony "Abbo" Abott's name up there as the next possible PM for Oz. Tony came to Queen's College, Oxford in 1981 and played in the Blues XV against Australia (3 Ella Brothers to boot) where we lost 19-11 but were ahead at half time. He played at prop, I think at lose head and must have thought he was destined for a Blue in the Centenary Varsity match...
17
AUG
I shall be voting for Ed Miliband in the Labour Candidate Elections. I believe like Neil Kinnock and a host of others that he will provide the best opposition to the ConDem coalition and help us rebuild the party. He is also the only real CHANGE candidate. At the moment it is a straight race between Ed and his brother David. The other three may struggle: Ed Balls has Gordon Brown in his DNA and would be blamed for ever and a day by the opposition for the state of the...
9
AUG
Over the past three months I have bumped into a number of retired MPs and former Ministers. To a man and a woman they have said they do not miss the place and are grateful to have found some kind of work even if it is only one or two days (16 hours) a week. Some have said that for this they are being paid more than their £65k p.a. salary as an MP (80-100 hours a week). Pay and Conditions are simply dreadful for MPs and becoming worse (no sane person could have...
2
AUG
Political watchers have at least, in my memory, taken a keen interest in the first 100 days of any new Administration. The first I can recall was JFK's in 1960 where his inauguration speech set out his hopes, dreams and aspirations for the free world aka the United States of America. Blair had a 100 Days in 1997 but not in 2001 or 2005. Brown, having copied much of JFK, including writing a book on Courage, had his 100 days taken away from him by what Macmillan called "Events, Dear Boy"...
7
JUL
We have four male candidates all from the same gene pool: David Miliband (favourite) Ed Miliband (second favourite) Ed Balls Andy Burnham and one one-off gene pooler: Diane Abbott The four male candidates usually have a combination of the following: Oxford or Cambridge educated Think Tankery backgrounds No.10, No.11 or DCMS Policy wonkers Teaching and or research including Harvard Shipped-in to safe seats in 2001 or 2005 None have had their hands dirtied by working in
1
JUL
It cannot be too long before Charles Kennedy MP and Sir Menzies Campbell MP lead the Lib Dems out of the coalition back to a Liberal Party. But since that would marginalise still further a "Liberal" party the sensible thing to do would be to seek accommodation with the Labour Party. Clearly, Clegg has been too clever by half in seeking a relationship with the Tories (but brilliant Cameron for pulling it off). In next May's local elections the Lib Dems will come near to exctinction.
22
JUN
Sometime on Tuesday afternoon the implications of George Osborne's first Budget will be known. There has already been much leakage but not yet on a BP scale. The Budget will have to be taken as a five year effort to right the deficit. Thus we are in for the long haul. If George's gets it right the Tories will be re-elected in 2015. If he doesn't then the Coalition will be over much sooner than we could have expected. The arguments have been well rehearsed. J.M.Keynes would have...
16
JUN
The Tory-Lib Dem coalition has settled down after its first five weeks in power. Tory grandees who could have been expected to have been Ministers are still seething but have so far kept their powder dry. As ever "Events" will move in their favour at some time in the next 2 years.  Into this mix come two unknowns.  The first is election reform which may lead to some kind of proportional representation though the electorate will have a chance to vote first on which - if any -
7
JUN
There is much inevitable criticism of any oil company when something catastrophic happens such as a giant oil leak. BP has been in the daily news for so long you begin to fear for its Communications team who must be up all the UK hours of work and then have to stay at their phones for when Texas and Louisiana wakes up. I expect they are sleeping at HQ. And naturally, Tony Hayward, the head honcho at BP takes the flak. There has though been a deafening silence from the US...
31
MAY
Well, well, well, three weeks in and we have our first casualty of the Coalition....David Laws, the Chief Secretary of the Treasury, has had to resign because he had submitted bills for over £40,000 for his second home even though the address which he gave was the same as his lover's. This has been outlawed since 2006. You have to ask, notwithstanding his abject apologies, how he thought it was legal in the first place. Imagine any MP (man or woman) living with their...
24
MAY
With Europe proudly promoting two versions of itself – the Euro zone and the non-Euro zone countries – where is its leadership?   It seems as if the bankers are doing the work trying to save the Euro – pilloried last week by none other than Joseph Stieglitz - and demanding new rules on Budgets et al. This is not the way to run an association of 27 countries.   There has to be a root and branch reform of the inner workings of the EU and an insistence that MEPs must also be...
17
MAY
In these era of 24 Hour News Channels coupled with the immediacy of Facebook groups and Twitter, the one thing the political class has not resolved is how to cope with their demands.   There are two ways to respond. The first is not to respond at all. The second is to use the new media as your own versions of Sky News, or Nick Robinson Must Go or Alastair Campbell for Pope. In some ways the No.10 web site was moving in that direction but under the new Posh & Clegg regime who knows....
10
MAY
What a conundrum now faces Nick Clegg and his Lib Dem MPs (let alone his own party members). If they support the Tories for a minimum of 2 years – the idea that it can go any longer is clever selling by David Cameron – and then are wiped out at the next election without reforms to the voting system then they will be signing their own death warrants: nothing more: nothing less.   If they do not persuade Cameron of the need for STV or Proportional Representation but agree to the Economic...
3
MAY
It’s not possible that a single 90 minute television programme could alter the next 20 years of UK politics because if it is, the opposition will request them on a monthly basis. That’s how it seemed, um, only two weeks ago when Clegg legged it.   Since then Team Cameron has tried a number of different strands. It has given up on policy. We have no idea how they will save £70 billion or more. And the rather creepy Tory newspapers – Sunday Times, Sun, Mail, Telegraph and Express – have...
26
APR
Ten days ago, Nick Clegg, leader of a small party known as the Liberal Democrats, appeared in the first ever televised debate with Gordon Brown and David Cameron, leaders respectively of the Labour and Tory parties. He blew them away.   In ten days time, the nation goes to the polls. For the first time since 1945, the pollsters haven’t a clue who will win. This is because the electoral system is broken. An MP can be elected with less than 34% of the votes cast in a constituency and...
19
APR
Has Politics become the new Pools? It looks as if it is a question of which perm will win in the General Election (due on 6th May 2010) in what was supposd to be a two horse race. Perm 1 David Cameron - looking quite queasy these days - wins outright Perm 2 David Cameron has the most seats but not an overall majority Perm 3 Gordon Brown is in Perm 2 spot Perm 4 Nick Clegg's Lib Dems win 100-120 seats Perm 5 was Perm 3 Gordon Brown seeks an...
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