David Cameron's speech

Happy Birthday to me. Happy Birthday to me! Well – actually – it’s Happy Birthday to my blog – five years old today.

And I’ve just finished listening to David Cameron’s speech. Long – very very long. But as with most things – it’s not always the size that counts. Strong on image creation, short on tangibles – even in this time of crisis it seems DC cannot come up with the goods. Perhaps once a PR man always a PR man.

‘Fresh answers to the challenges we face’ he said – but none of the ‘fresh answers’ were available for critique. He seems to believe that appearing to be something is enough. The rest of it was rather ‘back to basics’ but without using the actual words. Mending the broken society by sticking it together with platitudes and £6.00 to stay married doesn’t really do it for me.

I guess he is impotent at the present. He doesn’t have the track record of someone like Vince Cable – who actually understands the economy and warned about the debt bubble that was bound to burst (for years). It’s all very well for DC to come now to the table and say how irresponsible this has all been. It’s his mates in the City who took the risks to get their ridiculous bonuses. Dave didn’t utter a word over the last ten years to warn of this – and now he is all too pleased to blame Gordon (who is undoubtedly to blame) but as the Her Majesty’s Opposition – all we got was a deafening silence as Tory types took the money – leaving us the taxpayers to pick up the bill.

Anyway – as you will gather – I didn’t rate the speech. The last thing we need now is more vacuous image style politics. And – he did my pet hate thing of bringing his wife on stage at the end. Those who know me are well aware of my aversion to this – and he kissed her about four times in the space of one minute. Afraid that the snappers didn’t get the photo first time round. Cynical – you bet!

Congrats to Vince Cable

Went to the House Magazine annual awards last night. The House Magazine – is just that – the magazine of the Commons and Lords. The voters are the MPs and Peers and there’s a range of categories. Just a quick big up for Vince Cable – who not that surprisingly won Opposition Politician of the Year. He is such a star! Congrats to Vince.

PMQs: Parliament shows how out of date it is – again

Well, well – so Vince Cable tried to ask a question at Prime Minister’s Questions today – and it was ruled out of order. His heinous offence? Mentioning the Queen in his question:

It is reported that Her Majesty the Queen cancelled her Diamond wedding party because it would be ‘inappropriate’ to indulge in extravagance when the country faces recession and economic gloom. Is this another good example of Her Majesty’s unerring instinct for the national mood; or does the Government think she is simply overreacting?

Well excuse me – but what sort of out of date organisation is it that has this sort of ban? So much for being a modern democracy!

Three sentences you should read about Northern Rock

Saying something is a ‘soundbite’ isn’t normally meant as a compliment in politics! There is though a role for short, pithy statements – soundbites if you will – that get to the heart of complicated matters and pulls out the essence of them.

All of which is a prequel to praising Vince Cable for his Northern Rock soundbites yesterday. Once again Vince got to the heart of the matter, and rather than losing himself in the massive financial details of the Northern Rock saga, he got right to the heart of the matter:

The Government has ingeniously come up with a private sector sale that doesn’t involve any private sector money.

In order to save face Brown has decided that losses of Northern Rock should be nationalised, but that profits should be privatised.

Taxpayers now face years of underwriting Northern Rock, giving the opportunity for a private bidder to make an absolute killing.

Well said Vince! (And you can sign his petition on the topic here.)

Treble dose of good news about Liberal Democrat MPs

Interesting poll by Iain Dale on his website of how his readers think MPs of all parties have been performing in the last month. 1,256 blog watchers voted and they rated the performance of a selection of MPs over the last month.

Both our Liberal Democrat leadership candidates are in the top quarter, Chris at 10 and Nick at 21! Not bad for a Conservative originated contest on a website with a heavily Conservative readership!

However, both might like to look at the methodology of the occupier of the No. 1 spot for guidance when our new leader is declared and take a leaf out of the Cable book of stealing the limelight – for it is indeed Vince Cable who comes out as the top rated MP over the last month. Well done all three.

A disaster a day keeps Labour in dismay

Minced by Vince! Poor old Gordon Brown in Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday – from ‘Stalin to Mr Bean’ is a perfect description of the PM’s journey thus far. As one who thinks PMQs is just playtime for little boys – I have to say that ‘soundbite’ did make me smile (to my chagrin). The Labour Party woes know no end. A disaster a day keeps Labour in dismay. The faces of the Labour troops on the benches told it all. They must be devastated by such goings on. Vince and Chris Huhne have now asked the police to investigate.

Also yesterday, attended the Parliamentary launch of the report that came out of our trip to South Africa to look at business and how it is dealing with the AIDS and HIV pandemic. It is an excellent report from Business Action for Africa – so congrats to them and to SAB Miller, Anglo American and Meurk who were the key three companies involved in our trip.

The recommendations are about how to make partnerships work – as it is clear that the South African governemnt, NGOs, donors and business all need to work together to really create a proper delivery of health services to the nation.

It’s just the beginning – but it is an excellent report. John Hutton (Secretary of State) was there as we want him to use Government influence to push this agenda – and hopefully he will be a strong advocate for this – using business as a full partner.

Interestingly, and unbeknown to us, John has a brother living in Capetown and is fully au fait with all the issues around AIDS there – so undertood the issues from his own personal experience.

Northern Rock: the views of Peston and Cable

Good to see Vince Cable pushing the issue of Northern Rock really hard again yesterday in Parliament and then today with both a petition calling on Labour to start letting on as to just how much of our taxpayers’ money has been poured into Northern Rock (sign it here) and also with a Guardian article. Vince is doing an absolutely star job as acting leader.

Also on Northern Rock – spotted an excellent piece over on Robert Peston’s blog. Excellent, clear analysis of some of the ways forward for Northern Rock. Well worth a read.

What to make of Gordon Brown's speech?

Well – Gordon was sooooooooooo dull that the Speaker had to tell everyone off for holding private conversations! That’s what happens in the Chamber when the person on their feet fails to hold the Members’ attention. You don’t expect it from the Prime Minister though.

As for the substance of what he had to say – Vince Cable summed it up well: after all those years waiting (and even delaying the election so he could lay out his visiion more clearly) – there wasn’t any vision there. Instead we just saw the cosy duopoly of the Tory Twins – i.e. both Labour and Tories agree on so many, many things now – leaving the Liberal Democrats to stand up for the public against the cosy self-interest of the political establishment.

As the for the behaviour of MPs: the racket and the baying and the shouting was shameful. If this is the example that Parliament gives in terms of grown up behaviour, debate and governance…

Boycotting the Saudis

Hurrah for Vince! Vince Cable, our Acting Leader, is boycotting King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia’s State visit. Quite right. Saudi’s record on human rights is abysmal – and whilst yes, we have to have business relations with Saudi – there is no need for them to be accorded the honour of a state visit.

Coming so soon on the back of the dropping of the Serious Fraud Office investigation into BAE and corruption at the behest of Saudi Arabia – this is not a very edifying part of our ethical dimension to foreign policy.