Saturday, 29 May 2010

The Law is the Law

You have to feel some sympathy for David Laws.

I know as a Liberal Democrat member I am bias, however he gave up a job in the city (where he was earning a hell of a lot more than he is now, having been a Vice-President of JP Morgan when still in his 20s) to become economic advisor to the Lib Dems with no prospect of being in power.  He hardly fits into the "only in it for themselves" mode that most politicians are accused of.  It appears that he has been the subject of a media witch hunt since his rise to prominence as a key member of the Lib Dem's negotiating team.

At the same time though rules are rules.  In the housing expenses rule book it clearly states that rent should not be paid to one's spouse, a partner or a family member (including civil partner).  Although David could have claimed a lot more over the 8 year period and could have benefited more personally from the issue his desire to keep his sexuality a secret means that he did break the rules.  As a result I don't think that his position (particularly as it was within the treasury) was tenable, particularly with the feeling about the expenses 'scandel' still fresh in most voters memories.

The greater tragedy in my opinion though is that he has hidden who he is for all of his life for fear of victimisation for being homosexual.  I can, however understand his desire for privacy and hope that he will now be able to get this and continue to be a vital part of the Liberal Democrats.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Imported Talent...

I have to say, watching the Twenty20 world final on Sunday was easily the best I have ever seen England play in a limited overs match.  The turn around in the last 12 months is staggering.  I personally would put it down to the presence of Eoin Morgan.  Before he came onto the scene it appeared that England were scared to go for the rope.  I currently think he would make it into any team in world cricket.  If I were England I would have played him at #4 in Twenty20 to ensure he gets as much time at the crease as possible, however you shouldn't mess with a winning formula.

Eoin though, along with KP, Keiswetter and Lumb have opened up the debate regarding nationality and playing for one's country.  Eoin is Irish, and could have played against England in the group stages.  I have no problem with him preferring England however, he isn't likely to get top standard test cricket in his Irish career (more the pity).  The first three however were all born in South Africa.  This has lead to the call that they shouldn't be able to represent England.

I think each case needs to be looked at differently.  I'll start with Keiswetter, I will concede that he did begin his career playing for South Africa under 19s, however his mother was Scottish.  He didn't like the way he was treated in SA and chose England to develop his cricket.  For me he qualifies on parentage.  Michael Lumb is similar, his father played cricket for Yorkshire, was English and by all accounts should have represented England.  I don't see why growing up in a different country should prevent his son from having the chance he was denied.  Finally there is the dynamic Kevin Pietersen, he qualified for England via his mother and 4 years residency.  He probably had more chance in the SA set up than anyone but chose to work to be in the England set up.

I see no reason why these individuals shouldn't be representing England.  They all are showing that it is the country they want to represent, KP even has a 3 lions tattoo!  For me as long as they can legally represent the country and show the desire to play for England then there is no reason why they should play for their country!

This isn't a new phenomenon either, despite what the media may be portraying.  I grew up in the 90's with England greats such as: Graeme Hick (Zimbabwe), Nasser Hussain (India), Adam and Ben (RIP) Hollioake (Australia), to name but a few who were born outside of England but still represented the country.

I for one hope that these players stay, like all members of the team, for as long as their performance and attitude merit it!

But that's how coalitions work...

The main thing that has come out of this election for me is just how stupid the media is.  TV companies were pissed off because the discussions following the election didn't fit their rolling news and the tabloids decided to ignore the facts and just print what they wanted people to believe.   I am glad to see I am not the only one, as the awesome Chris Addison said on Have I Got News For You last week:

“But that’s how coalitions work, I don’t understand why journalists don’t appear to be able to see what the definition of a coalition is, “those two people don’t appear to be in the same party how can they be in a coalition” – wouldn’t be a coalition if they were in the same party, it’d be a majority government you thick bunch of bastards”.

 Nick Clegg went from being people's champion to villain within a week and that was emphasised more in the days following polling day when suddenly you'd have thought he was Hitler back from the dead and holding the country to ransom.  Of course the leaders of the Lib Dems were going to take their time and consider all of their options before deciding what position to take, they'd have been stupid not to listen to all of what was on offer.  Of course this was going to take time, would you expect two companies to undertake a joint venture based on a few quick meetings?  They would take time and go over every detail.  All being said I think they acted rather speedily, in other European countries it has been known to take up to 40 days!

The other frustrating people at the moment are those who "didn't vote for Lib Dems to prop up a Tory Government".  Firstly, you are correct, you didn't, you voted for the person in your constituency that you felt would best represent yourself and your area in Parliament, or at least you should have done!  Secondly you voted for Lib Dem policies, the only way you'd see them all come in would be under a majority Liberal government, in case you are blind, that didn't happen!  After the public had spoken the choices were:

1. A Minority Tory Government, with Parliament voting on each Tory issue on a case by case basis, often just rejecting them because they can, not a lot will get done and a new election would be needed soon.  The party sitting as the third party so not even the most effective opposition.

2. A "rainbow" coalition between parties that wouldn't quite have enough backing to get all their measures through Parliament.  This would be headed up by a Party that was quite clearly tired from too long in power and has ruined the countries finances and is very unpopular.

3. A chance to join a coalition that would have a majority.  The policies closest to the Liberals heart are pushed through in return for support to others.  Positions in Cabinet and right throughout Government and a chance to influence decisions.

You can put your ideas forward as much as you like but there's only one actual way to change things and that is by being in Government.  I think Nick and the team played a blinder, they seemed to get exactly what they wanted out of a deal, hopefully this will result in a successful vote for PR which will keep their influence in the Commons.  The cynics say that they were only interested in power, my response to that is who wouldn't be?  You will be judged on how you use that power!