House of Common Criminals

Parliament and the Government are in total disarray. In the States, Newt Gingrich is calling for Nancy Pelosi to resign for lying to Congress, but that’s small potatos compared to what’s happening over here in the People’s Republic of Britain. Members of the House of Commons are calling on Speaker Michael Martin to resign. This just doesn’t happen here. Not since 1695.

The Commons Speaker, unlike the Speaker in the US House of Representatives and in the various US state legislatures, is not supposed to be affected by political party affiliation or loyalty. When they are elected by the members, they resign their party membership and when they run for re-election to represent their constituency, they are on the ballot as Speaker. They then serve as Speaker until they retire.

Over the past few years, there have been informal suggestions by some backbenchers (members of the Commons who are neither Government ministers or the spokespeople from opposing parties) that the Speaker should step down because he has been incompetent and feathering his own nest. However, this is the first time that a motion of no confidence in the Speaker has been put before the House or that a party leader has openly spoken against the Speaker.

It all stems from the huge fiasco over how members expenses have been paid. It turns out that many members across all parties have been claiming expenses for some pretty outrageous things. Two members of the Labour Party have been expelled from the party and one Government minister has stepped down during the investigation. Criminal charges may be in the offing for members who have been completely fraudulent, for example claiming expenses for mortgages that didn’t exist.

For mortages, rents, renovations, repairs, and every other conceivable domestic expense, MPs have repeatedly engaged in “flipping”. This means they will claim a particular residence is their second residence, claim loads of expenses, then flip the designation to a different home, claim loads of expenses, and continue doing this.

Married cabinet ministers Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper made a claim for almost four times the amount of mortgage interest to which they were entitled. They flipped the designation of their second home to three different properties within the space of two years. They also charged the taxpayer £600 per month to feed themselves. This is on top of their combined salary of nearly £285,000.

But back to Mr Speaker. As reported today in the Daily Telegraph:

Parliamentary authorities, overseen by Michael Martin, the Speaker, gave secret permission for some MPs to over-claim for thousands of pounds in home loan interest in deals that led to the systematic abuse of the taxpayer-funded expenses system.

He let his people collude with MPs to cheat the taxpayer. He also tried to stop the publication of information about expenses. He tried to call the police on the Daily Telegraph when they started exposing all of this. He has got to go.

But so do so many other MPs. Many have hastily repaid some of their more outrageous claims but some caught with their hand in the cookie jar just don’t care. For example:

Ben Chapman, a Labour MP, admitted last night that he was allowed to continue claiming for interest payments on his entire mortgage after repaying £295,000 of the loan in 2002.

Over 10 months the arrangement allowed Mr Chapman to receive £15,000 for the part of the home loan which had been paid off. Last night, he said he would not give back the money.

It has gotten so bad that even the Queen, who never gets involved in political matters, has had strong words with the Prime Minister. She is conscious that her people are suffering the effects of a recession, while her Parliament are stuffing their pockets with every available taxpayer pound.

More and more people and media outlets are calling for a swift general election. What we need is time for the smoke to clear and for constituency organisations of all parties to have time to de-select offending incumbents (thus preventing them from standing for re-election as anything other than an independent) so the election can be fought on the failure of the Labour Party and not on the behaviour of individual members.

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Ted Kennedy Knighted For Being Anti-British

I never thought I’d see the day that the Her Majesty’s Government would knight someone for supporting terrorism. That’s how important the special relationship between the US and UK is to the British. Gordon Brown went to Washington to buddy up with Barack. If there is any part of the Constitution for which most Americans have no use, it is the Emolument Clause and the British know this. So Gordon came bearing gifts.

The only redeeming fact is that the recipient cannot be known as Sir Edward Kennedy. Perhaps this is a bit of quid pro quo for support during the election. Ted supported Barack and Barack couldn’t swing getting Ted’s niece appointed to the Senate from New York. But he still got him the gift that money can’t buy – an honorary knighthood.

Every knighthood is given for an official reason. In this case it was for “services to the British-American relationship and to Northern Ireland”. How does that work, exactly? Kennedy is an Irish-American who consistently supported the Nationalist cause in Northern Ireland. He does seem to have pulled up short of open support for the IRA in their campaign of terrorism, though he did compare the British military presence in Northern Ireland during the Troubles to the American military in Vietnam. He said Irish Protestants should go back to Great Britain.

I know Americans are fascinated by, and covetous of, British honours. You would think, however, that one person who would not want to be an honorary knight of the realm would be someone who with such a high profile so openly opposed it. And while there is no evidence that he was personally involved, it is Ted Kennedy’s Irish Catholic electoral base in Boston that funnelled huge amounts of money to the IRA  so they could blow up innocent Brits in pubs and shopping centers around the UK.

So this is the dynamic of the “special relationship”. Britain’s socialist Prime Minister honouring America’s premier champagne socialist for supporting the dissolution of the United Kingdom.

Free Prescriptions for Rationed Drugs

Gordon Brown’ popularity is at an all-time low. The Labour Party looks to walloped at the next General Election.

At Labour’s annual party conference, Brown needed to pull a rabbit out of hat to try to revitalise his prospects, particularly to ward off challenges within his own party. There’s nothing Socialists like better than giving away something paid for by someone else’s money.

Gordon will be giving free prescriptions to cancer patients. Sounds really good doesn’t it? Well, the Scots are already phasing out charges and the Welsh have already abolished them. So really, Gordon is giving free prescriptions to English cancer patients.

If you live in the States, you may realise how expensive cancer drugs can be. In England, they cost £7.10 a bottle. Everything costs £7.10 a bottle. So you’re thinking, wow, from $14.00 per prescription to free – not bad a deal.

It’s not a bad deal as long as you can get the drugs you need. Gordon never said he would pay for all cancer patients. The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) will still control which drugs are available. It will continue to work out its matrices and decide whose life is worth saving and whose isn’t. Some cancers and cancer patients are worth treating and some aren’t. That’s the reality of socialised medicine. That’s the reality Gordon Brown can’t do anything about.

And if you are in the States you may think, well, that’s just Britain; nothing like that can happen here. That’s the reality Barak Obama won’t be able to do anything about, if he gets Hillary’s way.

Summer of Discontent

I suppose it is a good thing that we can’t afford for the unnamed grandchildren to visit their grandparents in America this summer. Since they are dual citizens they are required to enter the United States on their American passports, but upon returning they have to show their British passports. The older unnamed child is still waiting for the renewal of his British passport.

It’s been a long wait. The Unnamed Woman sent everything off to the passport office in plenty of time. She enclosed the required two photographs, taken in a photo booth which advertised that the photos could be used for passports. After the usual bureaucratic delay, we were informed that the photos were unacceptable, so another set would have to provided. They were “too light”, though the bureaucrats didn’t explain what they meant by this description.

The Unnamed Woman took the child to a professional photographer experienced in producing passport photos. This photographer had already produced photos to the more rigorous requirements of the US Passport Agency. Another set were dispatched. After another extended bureaucratic delay, another letter arrived, informing us that once again the photos were unacceptable.

After extended unproductive telephone conversations with the four or five different useless passport office apparatchiks, another set of photos was sent. Then nothing. Why? Because the passport workers went on strike. The result? A backlog of 150,000 applications.

The backlog will take well into August to clear, according to jubilant union officials, smugly pleased with themselves that the general public will feel the maximum impact of their industrial action and that thousands will lose out on their holidays. If they haven’t already bought their travel insurance, then potentially they will have lost all the money they have paid for that holiday, meaning there will be no way to make it up at a later date.

I can understand why passport workers are angry. None are getting better than a below-inflation pay rise – in effect a pay cut. The longest serving staff are getting no pay rise – real or imagined – for the fifth year in a row. It is interesting that the governing party is tied to the trade unions, yet has more trouble appeasing them than the Tories. Because there has been industrial action across this civil service this year, we could be headed for another Winter of Discontent.

The only question is whether Gordon Brown will be around as Prime Minister by that time. His Government is falling apart. A couple of days ago, the third safest Labour seat in Parliament was lost to the Scottish Nationalist Party in a by-election.  His own cabinet ministers are questioning his future and plotting his downfall.

For the first time in years, the Conservative Party is way ahead in the opinion polls. It appears that having finally convinced the country that they are greener and gayer than Labour, so there will be no challenge to the cherished values of the Left, the British population may very well be willing to give them another shot at governing.

Having lost most of my affinity for the Tories, I only want to see them in power to see the Red Rose lot out. I think the Government will run marginally more effectively and we may see a slow down on the road to totalitarianism, but no great change. I doubt they will even get the passport office to function more effectively.

Life and Death

According to the Daily Telegraph, Prime Minsiter Gordon Brown has been warned by his whips that his opposition to reducing the abortion gestational time limit is likely to fail. The mood of the House is to bring the limit down. With nine time-limit amendments tabled, the most likely compromise appears to be a fortnightly reduction to 22 weeks. I think 20 weeks should be a reasonable adjustment to even the most die hard pro-death supporter, but it would seem that even that extra two weeks will be too much for some to stomach.

The son of a Church of Scotland minister, Brown will vote against the pro-life position on any attempts to change the law. Even though less than one percent of abortions happen between 22 and 24 weeks, and those are the most gruesome (except for the very later abortions, which it appears will continue to be legal), Gordon doesn’t want to keep them from happening.

What is interesting to me about battle lines on this “women’s rights” issue is that the chief pro-life leaders in the House of Commons are women. The pro-choice campaign is led by men. Abortion is a very cross-party issue here. The Labour Party has long had significant support amongst Catholics.

So next week as the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill is debated by a committee of the whole House, it will be a matter of life and death.  On Monday, the debates will cover human-animal embryos and saviour siblings. Tuesday will start with lesbians and fertility treatment, before moving on to abortion. The preservation of the unborn and the sanctity of the entire human species is up for grabs.

Backlash

When I wrote about the abolition of the 10% tax band, I thought there would be a bit of a kerfuffle and it would be another opportunity for those who are already opposed to the Labour Party, like me, to wag a finger at their dishonesty and destructive policies.

I figured some of the usual complainers on the Labour back benches would fuss and the Tories would try to make some hay. I didn’t realise that it would become a constant national news story, with a huge rebellion on the back benches and ministerial consternation. Some have suggested that this to Gordon Brown what the poll tax was to Margaret Thatcher. Some have even suggested that while Thatcher survived the poll tax, Brown might not survive killing off the 10% tax band.

Hopefully this will finally demonstrate that Labour has passed its sell-by date. After all, the Tories promised to be at least as liberal on social issues, so there’s no chance of a threat to ungodliness in the UK. The Revelation 21:8 crowd will make sure Britain is still comfortably post-Christian. Perhaps this will persuade Middle England to ditch Labour.

We are probably stuck with Gordon until at least 2009, since General Election usually happen about every four years (out of a possible five-year Parliament), but the local elections next Thursday will probably let the Government know just how unhappy the electorate is. That the way politics works. Local councillors, who have nothing whatsoever to do with central Government policy, will pay the price for Brown’s bad decisions.

Stealing From the Poor

You would think that a socialist Labour government would stick it to the rich and go easy on the poor. After all, that’s the point of socialism , isn’t it? Yeah, but Gordon Brown isn’t your dad’s socialist. This is New Labour, remember?

Gordon tried to impress everyone by lowering the main rate of income tax from 22% to 20%. Somebody has to pay for this, though. Gordon’s chosen the poor. The UK doesn’t have as many tax brackets as the US. In the US there are six brackets, ranging from 10% to 35%. Before April 1, the UK had three: 10%, 22%, and 40%. Now it has two. The 10% bracket has been taken away. Tax is payable at 20% from the first pound. At £36,000 ($72,000) it jumps to 40%. By contrast, an American at that income is still at 25%, $5,000 away from paying 28% on anything else he makes.

The 10% only covered the first £2,230 ($4,460). That is admittedly less than the $7,825 covered by the same bracket in the US, though as the Unnamed Women pointed out to me, it will still hit women working part time or students working their way through university the hardest. Obviously the lower the income, the greater the proportion of tax increase.

The Government are planning on a £6 to £8 billion increase in revenue from the change. To raise that money, it is estimated that 5 million households will be worse off. That would be the 5 million poorest households.

Just to re-emphasise the point I have made in the past about an elective dictatorship . . . After the Commons Treasury Committee condemns the changes tomorrow, they will be debated in the House of Commons in two weeks. It doesn’t really matter. They have already gone into effect. Despite the opposition from large numbers of his own party, the Prime Minister said there is no plan to change the policy. Not much point in having a Parliament, is there?