Archive for October, 2011

A vote for independence?

If a week is a long time in politics, it only took a few days for us to witness two party leaders appealing to their parties for support.

Over the weekend Alex Salmond addressed his party conference and outlined the case for Scotland leaving the United Kingdom. He had a rapturous welcome by his party members and even the Scottish voters are beginning to warm to the prospect if the latest opinion polls are to be believed.

Meanwhile in Westminster David Cameron appealed to his parliamentary colleagues for their support and their response was to give him a large raspberry.

All he wanted was for them to not go in for gesture politics and vote for a referendum on leaving the EU. The majority of his back benchers chose to ignore his pleas. This despite him pandering to the anti-Europeans by agreeing with them that powers ought to be repatriated, but now was not the right time. It begs the question, when?

The one party leader is riding high, the other is a bust flush. You can decide in which category they fall in.

Clearly you can’t expect to sit at the top table of the EU to protect UK interests and at the same time send a message to very same body that you want as little to do with their rules as possible. And add, as a by the way, that most of us want to leave your club.

With more than half of David Cameron’s backbenchers prepared to vote against his wishes it is clear which way the tide is turning within the Conservative party ’“ to be out of the EU. As a backbencher said last night after the vote ‘the issue isn’t going away.’

In Scotland the ruling party there is united in wishing to leave the Union but the union they want to leave is the United Kingdom.

Similar aspirations. They both want to rule themselves.

But there are differences, whilst the Scots want an end to English rule, they still see membership of the EU in their national interest. Alex Salmond, who was an economist before entering politics, can see real advantages for his country in membership of the EU.

It is quite conceivable that if Scotland gets its way it will be a full member of the European Union in a few years time whilst if the Conservatives get theirs, England will be out.

What about Wales? Currently, Wales is a net beneficiary of European aid. Its economy has been greatly helped by European infrastructure support. To be cut off from European funds would seriously damage the nation’s health.

Although it might ’˜just’ conceivably be in England’s interest to leave the EU it certainly wouldn’t be in Wales’s.

It would be ironic indeed, that in the process of winning power back to Westminster the Conservatives would have unwittingly given the movement for Welsh independence its biggest boost.

Has the momentum started by the Tories vote last night, unwittingly given Plaid Cymru a golden opportunity to push for a referendum on independence in Wales too?

A funny old business, politics.


Been here before

It’s ground hog day. Conservatives split on Europe again.

It caused discomfort to Mrs Thatcher, despair for John Major and now it’s here to haunt David Cameron.

In many ways the Prime Minister has only himself to blame. He promised a referendum on the Lisbon treaty and reneged. His excuse was that it had already been passed when he took office. Of course, forming a coalition with the pro-European Liberal Democrats had nothing to do with the change of action.

So having disappointed the rabid little Englanders in his party, they were determined to seek their revenge. The device used was Cameron’s populist gimmick of promising a debate on any petition presented to the Westminster parliament signed by over 100,000 names.

The euro-sceptics set about collecting the names, reached the target, duly presented it to parliament and voila, today’s debate.

Now these debates are only advisory. The government could have shrugged its collective shoulders and done precisely nothing about it, even if the vote was won. But no, in a display of machismo that Prime Ministers are prone too, dear David ups the anti.

He decides to place a three-line whip on his parliamentary party. Anyone disobeying can say goodbye to promotion whilst he’s PM. He’s deployed his heaviest armour. What now if a sizeable numbers of backbenchers disregard the whip?

On the issue itself nothing changes. The vote will be defeated, Labour and Liberal Democrats will see to that. But two things will change. In the first instance Mr Cameron will have a large group of semi-detached Conservatives on his backbenches and his authority over the party will be seriously weakened.

But more fatally, his future prospects will take a turn for the worst if the public see the Conservative party as split. Parties that are seen at war with themselves, seldom prosper.

Quite why the Tories get so hung up about Europe is difficult to grasp. After all it was a Conservative government that took us in.

It has never been an election winner. It is true that when asked in opinion polls a sizeable number of respondents say that they would rather be out of Europe than in.

But, and it is a mighty big but, when asked what they regard as the issue that most concern them, Europe is very low in the pecking order.

Voters are concerned about jobs, health, crime and education. These weigh more heavily with voters than Europe. So whilst voters express negative views about membership of the European union, it ain’t going to be the issue that decides where they put their cross.

Conservatives ought to get real on the issue. With forty per cent of our trade with Europe the priority should be to sort out the Euro debt crisis. It won’t just be Euro zone countries that drown, we’ll sink with them.

Less posturing by our politicians and more application to tackling the real issues would be welcomed. It’s the economy, stupid, not Europe.


Doncaster gets another visit

In order to fend off the threat of strike action by jockeys the British Horseracing Authority have changed the controversial whip rules.

Although the limit on strikes remains seven times in flat races and eight over the jumps they have dropped the five hits edict for the final furlong or after the last obstacles.

These rules will be applied retrospectively, so Christophe Soumillon, the jockey who rode our winning tip last weekend, Cirrus Des Aidles, now gets his £52,000 share of the prize money. A happy little man who rightly gets the reward for presenting us with a winner.

This weekend another visit to Doncaster, let’s hope we have the same success as last weekend.

Remember horses with odds of over 7/1 are always worth an each way bet.

1.30 A boy named Suzi [2nd] or Hot Spice both have plenty to give and should be worth looking at.

2.00 Marine Commando is good value but for me its Racy

2.30 Dreamwriter will be well backed but a good each way bet is Ballesteros

3.00 Camelot [1st] will attract a lot of the money but Enke [non-runner] is a horse with a bright future

3.35 Deepsand or the unbeaten Ortac Rock [2nd]

4.10 It’s a big field which Ellemujie will surely be up there but Rio’s Rosanna [2nd] should have a claim

4.45 Skilful [2nd] will undoubtedly be favourite and not many will go for Hot Red Mamma but this will be an each way bet of mine.

5.20 Another crowded field with Amelia Surprise a horse that is likely to improve but I’m going for Ted’s Brother. [1st]

May the luck be with you!

Results in italics