Friday, 30 April 2010

Click your protest against Murdoch papers' campaigns trying to stop real democracy - from AVAAZ

Dear friends around Britain,


There’s real hope for change in this election -- but with just days to go, kingmaker Rupert Murdoch and the tabloid press are pushing ridiculous hysteria to stop a coalition for reform. Let’s join with others, turn the tide and show them we, the voters will decide:

Take Action Now!

In just a few days, Britain could elect an unprecedented coalition with a mandate for urgently-needed reform and the support of most voters – it’s democracy in action!

But a few partisan hacks want to hang onto politics as usual -- and some of them own powerful tabloids. Hacks like billionaire Rupert Murdoch, whose Sun is pushing nasty hysteria about coalition government threatening Biblical disasters -- working to ensure that Murdoch, not we voters, is the "kingmaker" in our country.

Britain is ripe for change -- and not only in Westminster. In the next eight days, let's turn the tide against the poisonous politics of our arrogant media moguls and their toxic tabloids, and demand that they treat Britain’s people and democracy with respect. An unprecedented popular outcry could shame them into piping down -- sign the petition and forward this email now!


40% of the British press is owned by Rupert Murdoch alone. Reinforced by a handful of media proprietors, editors and millionaire donors, his hacks have repeatedly sought to tip the balance of our democracy and to bolster their own power -- we can't let them succeed!

Politics as usual has failed to deliver. From reforming and cleaning up politics to building a green economy, and from the future of public services to the public finances -- it’s time for real change, not just rearranging of the deckchairs.

It may have taken the spin doctors, millionaire donors and media moguls by surprise, but we, the voters, will decide the outcome of this election. So let’s unite for change and a better politics, and show that we, the voting public will decide our government. Take action now -- click the link below, then forward this message before it’s too late!


With hope and determination,

Paul, Alice, Iain, Ricken and the whole Avaaz team

PS In a poll sent out to all 380,000 members of the Avaaz network in the UK, 92% of us said we should run a campaign against media scaremongering and in support of a balanced, reforming parliament - and we're teaming up on this campaign with 38 Degrees, the UK movement for people-powered change!



Don't forget to take action now! Click here:


Posted via email from sunwalking's posterous

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Labour and Tories running scared - why - because we might be getting real democracy in the UK

Willie Sullivan, of 'Vote For A Change' writes

It's as if someone's hit a big red "panic" button.

Everywhere you look - in the newspaper, on the telly - political leaders are talking about a hung parliament as if it would be the end of the world as we know it.

Of course, they're right. A hung parliament would be the end of the world as we know it - the world of voiceless voters, unaccountable MPs, and broken politics.

That's why we can't miss our chance to make it happen this 6 May - and make history for our democracy.

Invite your friends to find out how they can vote this 6 May for a hung parliament:

Invite your friends to vote for a change

Wondering what panic sounds like? A lot like this:

"I want a majority, so obviously a hung parliament would be a bad thing for this country because I want a majority."
- Gordon Brown
"We think a hung parliament would be damaging... the uncertainty would be bad for Britain."
- David Cameron
The politicians are running scared. They're looking at the same poll numbers we're looking at.

They know we've got the best chance we've had in years to bring about a reforming parliament that will change the balance of power in our politics - by giving voters more of a voice.

It all comes down to this time next week. Tell your friends to join our campaign to vote for a reforming parliament next Thursday:


Thank you,


The old tribal dominators of the UK still don't get do they!

We want REAL DEMOCRACY not your corrupt old politics and we want in right now! - especially now!

Posted via email from sunwalking's posterous

If you are too young to remember how bad Thatcherism was for all but rich Tories ask your parents.

Reader political posters: Marshall Walker

Locally i.e for Hexham vote Dr Steven Ford, nationally if the Lib Dems don't get in we may never get real democracy in the UK

Posted via web from Hexham Matters

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Should a 'Robin Hood tax' be used to get the UK out of debt?

The Robin Hood Tax is a tiny tax on banks, hedge funds and other finance institutions  that would raise billions to tackle poverty and climate change, at home and abroad.

It can start as low as 0.005 per cent – and average 0.05 per cent . But when levied on the billions of pounds sloshing round the global finance system every day through transactions such as foreign exchange, derivatives trading and share deals, it can raise hundreds of billions of pounds every year.

And while international agreement is best, it can start right now, right here in the UK.

That can help stop cuts in crucial public services in the UK, and aid the fight against global poverty and climate change.

Why now?

Because of the financial crisis, frontline services at home – like the NHS and our schools – are under fire.

At the same time, poor communities and the environment are being hit hard – as aid and green budgets are slashed by rich countries.

So it’s time for the people who caused this mess to pay to clean it up.

Who’s in?

Gordon Brown, Angela Merkel (the German Chancellor) and Nicolas Sarkozy (the French President) have all spoken out in support of a tax on financial transactions.

Plenty of business bigwigs are on-board too. Lord Turner (from the Financial Services Authority), George Soros (the philanthropist) and Warren Buffet (US businessman extraordinaire) have all backed transaction taxes. And then there are the hundreds of economists who have backed the idea, too.

This isn’t some crazy pipedream. It’s a simple and brilliant idea which transcends party politics and which – with your support – can become a reality.

Should the Robin Hood tax start, like charity, at home?

Click on link to go to the Robin Hood website.

Posted via web from Hexham Matters

The Guardian asks if bigotgate will be the end of Gordon and Labour?

British PM Gordon Brown

A new headache for Gordon Brown? Photograph: Dominc Lipinski/PA

It had to happen sooner or later. Gordon Brown, whom spinners have been schooling in the arts of warm, casual conversation, has revealed a bit of his spikier side.

After meeting voters in Rochdale, he stepped into the prime ministerial limousine with his microphone still on. He was recorded describing a woman he had just spoken to as "bigoted". They'd been discussing, among other things, immigration and the economy.

Is this the gaffe to bury Gordon? Or do you find his frankness refreshing in a sea of platitudes?

Click on link to read comments.

Posted via web from sunwalking's posterous

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Great News Nick Clegg is up for being Prime Minister - then we might get real democracy

Nick Clegg
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(David Bebber/The Times)

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Nick Clegg, pictured being interviewed during a train journey to Southampton

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Nick Clegg has told The Times that the Liberal Democrats can supplant Labour and has stated that his ambition is to become prime minister.

He insists that the Liberal Democrats have become the leading progressive force at the ballot box. The latest Populus poll for The Times shows the party still in second place ahead of Labour with only eight days to go.

Mr Clegg believes that the May 6 vote is now a two-horse race between “two competing pitches for change” — the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. He says that Liberalism has replaced “Labour statism” as the driving argument of the Centre Left.

And whoever wins, he insists that the momentum for reform of the political system is unstoppable. “Reform is now unavoidable. You can’t duck it.”

Click on link to read Times article by Roland Watson and James Harding

Posted via web from Hexham Matters

Monday, 26 April 2010

Why aren't more young people demanding Fair Voting - and why do the Tories & Labour hate Fair voting?

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, whose party is still riding high in the polls, says that electoral reform could be a deal breaker for a post-election hung parliament arrangement.

Along with a substantial minority in the Labour Party, the Greens, the SNP, Plaid Cymru and other small parties, the Lib Dems argue that proportional representation is key to a fairly elected democratic assembly.

Mr Clegg says that whoever formed the next government will now have to accept that reform of the electoral system is inevitable, and that any Tory opposition to such reform would be a "massive strategic error", reports the BBC.

Changing the unfair first-past-the-post system, which enshrines a two party monopoly in Britain, even though millions of voters are choosing other parties or independents, is something political reformers right across the spectrum say is essential - and it is an important part of what those who want to see a hung parliament are lobbying for (

Click on link to read article.

Answer to title question - because they want absolute power, and they don't believe in real democracy.

Posted via web from Hexham Matters

What do you mean when you say you/he/she/it is or are British? - Then check out this article my Andrew Mycock

The ‘politics of Britishness’ and related constitutional matters have not – as yet - played strongly in the general election either in manifestos or during campaigning, though all the main parties of the Union agree that further powers be devolved to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. This would not be surprising but for considerable time and effort invested by Gordon Brown, David Cameron and others in engaging in such debates over recent years. The term ‘Britishness’ is absent from all UK party manifestos except for the Democratic Unionist Party. Although the Liberal Democrats identified fairness as ‘an essential British value’, identity politics is generally not considered to be a vote winner. 

Responses to the ‘English Questions’ have also proven muted and vague, with Labour failing to engage at all with constitutional dilemmas largely created by its own radical reform agenda. Moreover, though the Conservative manifesto promises to ‘introduce new rules so that legislation referring specifically to England, or to England and Wales’ and the Liberal Democrats seeking to ‘address the status of England’, scant details are given about how this will be achieved. Although Timothy Garton-Ash claimed the first TV debate woke us up to devolution, Simon Lee rightly noted in an earlier OD post that the absence of England in the election is striking.

Similarly, the extent to which the legacy of the British Empire continues to influence contemporary politics and society has also been overlooked by most parties. Only the Conservatives have acknowledged it as a policy aspiration, promising in their manifesto that they will ‘strengthen the Commonwealth as a focus for promoting democratic values and development’. However, their intention to establish annual limits on non-EU migrants suggest that Conservative views towards the former empire continue to be infused with elements of colonialism –

Click on link to read Andrew's article.

Posted via web from Hexham Matters

UK Election: Yellow Tories?

While British democrats are looking forward to a hung  parliament and a progressive realignment with a referendum on PR, ground is being prepared for a Yellow Tory coalition.

The idea was originally floated with brio and verve by Guido Fawks last Sunday. In yesterday’s update he notes that Nick has said (rightly) it would be inconceivable to allow Brown to “squat” in No 10 if he came third while Cameron has refused to rule out permitting PR if the Lib Dems want to work with him. Matt d’Ancona gave the whole idea a walking in his Sunday Telegraph column.

Fawks argues that Cleggite Lib Dems are not on the left in the way many of his party’s rank and file are supposed to be. Their leadership and the Tories “share key liberal ideological tenets – localism, decentralisation, transparency and a preference for market based solutions”.

Arguably the two most influential big party blogs, Conservative Home and Left Foot Forward both dumped on Fawks.  But Tim Montgomerie on the right and Will Straw on the left share an antipathy to those of us who want modern liberty and an end to the database state. [CORRECTION only Conservative Home has, Straw OPPOSES ID cards, see comment below, and the word "dumped" is unfair to Montgomerie's elegant prose].
In his dream scenario Fawks imagined the new double-C, Clegg-Cameron government as follows:

The average age of the cabinet is now 44, the centre-piece of the Queen’s speech is to be a Great Repeal Bill, undoing 13 years of authoritarian legislation and strengthening civil liberties, restricting the growth of the surveillance and database society. The Big Society reform programme promises to fundamentally re-balance state and society in favour of a smaller more open government.  Cable promises an emergency budget within 30 days signalling tough action on the deficit.

PR appears to have slipped out of the priorities, which I hope the Lib Dems would find unacceptable.

Click on link to read the rest of Anthony Barnett's article

Posted via web from sunwalking's posterous

The Liberal Democrat breakthrough can succeed | Anthony Barnett | Comment is free |

On Sunday, Gordon Brown said historians would record his approach to the Lib Dems so far as "an attempt to get them involved in what I call a progressive consensus". I don't know about historians, but as far I am concerned, while I'd welcome a realignment on the left, it is now inconceivable this could be led by Gordon Brown.

The reason why he pursued this appeal to the Liberal Democrats is because of the huge potential increase in their support. We want to remind ourselves what is driving it. When Labour attacked the Conservatives over the influence of Lord Ashcroft's millions, William Hague told the House of Commons: "People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones". Two weeks later, when David Cameron demanded an inquiry into former Labour ministers putting themselves up to hire, Lord Mandelson replied: "People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones".

According to Monday's ICM poll, commissioned by Power 2010, "Ninety-six per cent believe it is important that the next government cleans up politics and reforms our democracy". That's everybody. Those 4% who don't agree probably didn't hear the question or were lobbyists.

But it is not going to happen if the two-party duopoly continues. It could, however, start to change if there is indeed a Lib Dem breakthrough. The welcome possibility of a hung parliament could be a historic opportunity to begin the real reform of our democracy that voters now demand.

Click on link to read more of Anthony Barnett's article.

Posted via web from sunwalking's posterous

Charities say parties must commit to a Fairness Test for tackling the deficit | Ekklesia

Church Action on Poverty and other leading charities have today asked for a commitment from all party leaders, and particularly those of the three biggest parties, that tax rises and spending cuts will not hit the poorest hardest.

In a letter sent and published on 26 April 2010, groups including Church Action on Poverty, Child Poverty Action Group, Barnardo’s, the Trades Union Congress (TUC), and the Equality Trust called on the leaders to commit to a ‘Fairness Test’ on any tax rises or spending cuts needed to reduce the deficit.

The test, undertaken by government, would measure the likely impact of any policy to ensure it did not increase income inequality. It would be developed by the Treasury with input from other departments. As well as better informing government decisions, it would allow greater scrutiny by independent bodies.

Niall Cooper, National Coordinator of Church Action on Poverty, commented: “As our politicians make tough decisions in the time ahead, they have the opportunity to make our society fairer. They must ensure that the wealthiest people in our society make a fair contribution, and that those who already have little are not driven further into poverty."

He added: "Politicians talk a great deal about inequality – but a Fairness Test would show that they are really committed to closing the gap between rich and poor.”

Richard Wilkinson, co-director of the Equality Trust, explained: “We’re asking all party leaders to assess the impact that their policies will have on income inequality and ensure that the rich, rather than the poor, shoulder the main burden of reducing the deficit."

“Reducing the deficit could be the perfect opportunity to narrow the record gap between rich and poor in the UK. But if the wrong policies are chosen, inequalities will widen still further, damaging people’s lives and the social fabric of our society,” concluded Wilkinson.

Meanwhile, Shan Nicholas, Chief Executive of Child Poverty Action Group, said: “Whoever is in government to make the tough decision on cutting the deficit, they must put fairness at the heart of the process for families on low incomes. If tax rises or spending cuts lead to greater inequality, the promise all parties have made to end child poverty by 2020 will not be met."

Martin Narey, Chief Executive of Barnardo’s declared that "it is shameful that in this, one of the richest nations in the industrialised world, a child born into a poor family is more likely than ever to start accumulating disadvantage at birth."

"Whoever is in Government must seize the opportunity to reverse the growth in inequality and tackle child poverty so that every baby born in the UK has a more equal chance to contribute to the future wealth and prosperity of our society," said Narey.

Church Action on Poverty ( is an ecumenical Christian social justice charity, which mobilises churches to work alongside others to tackle poverty in the UK.

Click on link to go to the Ekklesia site

Posted via web from sunwalking's posterous

Which of the fairness parties will you been voting for? - Collective wealth of Britain's 1,000 richest people rose 30%, the biggest annual increase in list's 22-year history

Lakshmi Mittal

Lakshmi Mittal topped the rich list for the sixth straight year. Photograph: Sebastien Pirlet/Reuters

The collective wealth of the country's 1,000 richest people rose 30% last year in the wake of the economic crisis.

Their combined wealth rose by more than £77bn to £333.5bn, the biggest annual increase in the 22-year history of the Sunday Times rich list. The number of billionaires rose by 10 to 53.

Click on link to read the full Guardian report

Posted via web from sunwalking's posterous

HEXHAM & the UK 'Younger voters finally on the move' - see Libby Brooks | Comment is free |

After years of hand-wringing over youthful disengagement, it seems that the young people of Britain are finally on the move – in the direction of the nearest polling station. Announcing a record late rush to register last week, the electoral commission was desperate to trumpet the success of a recent Facebook campaign, with just over 40% of those visiting its dedicated website hailing from the coveted 18-24 age group.

Apparently, it's all down to that steady-gazed Nick Clegg (as have been most things over the past seven days, aside from volcanic ash and Jennifer Aniston's continuing inability to find lasting love). Nearly half of registrations came after last week's first leaders' debate, while YouGov figures show that the Lib Dem surge evidenced disproportionately among the young. Clegg himself stated his untrammelled joy at the prospect of increased youth participation in an article for the Guardian last week.

But the assumption that the younger generation has only just woken up to Old Politics thanks to its presence in New Media is a dubious one, as is the impression that first-time voters are more likely to plump for the Anyone-But-You-Lot candidate than the rest of the electorate. Perhaps it was just because they couldn't see he had his hands in his pockets, but Radio One listeners were plenty happy to monster Clegg about immigration policy and expenses on a live phone-in, just as they had Gordon Brown before him. As usual, when politicians actually talk to young people rather than about them, they discover they are as nationally disenchanted, locally primed and non-consensual as everyone else. When Cameron next attempts to explain what he means by Big Society (ideally without an egg-throwing unhuggable hoodie in the background), he would do well to remember that, over the last year, it was the under-25s, as well as the over-65s, who scored the highest levels of volunteering in the country.

Click on link to read full article by Libby Brooks - Guardian online

Posted via web from Hexham Matters

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Look what Cameron intends to do to the North-East - shades of Thatcher's cruelty - The Guardian

David Cameron said the size of the state had gotten too big

David Cameron said the size of the state had got too big. Photograph: David Levene

David Cameron sparked a fresh row on public spending last night when he indicated that the north-east of England and Northern Ireland may face a squeeze under the Tories.

In a move condemned by Labour as "alarming", the Tory leader said the state's share of the economy was too big in some parts of the country.

"In Northern Ireland it is quite clear – and almost every party accepts this –that the size of the state has got too big," Cameron told Jeremy Paxman in an interview on BBC1.

"We need a bigger private sector. There are other parts of the country, including in the north-east. The aim has got to be to get the private sector, to get the commercial sector going.

"Over the next parliament we have got to see a faster growing private sector, we've got to broaden our economic base and we need to have a rebalancing of the economy between the commercial and private sector on the one hand and between the state sector on the other."

Labour was quick to criticise Cameron. Liam Byrne, the chief secretary to the Treasury, said: "Alarmingly for regions outside London [David Cameron] claimed investment in the regions like the north- east was unsustainable, while at the same time saying that tax cuts for millionaires were sustainable.

"With every passing day David Cameron's big society sounds more and more like the same old Tories – tax cuts for the few at the expense of cuts to essential services and to our regions."

Hexham, the North-East, and the UK need a new politics of real democracy, not a Cameron-Thatcher devastation. If you have a job and don't want to lose it don't vote Tory.

Posted via web from sunwalking's posterous

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Ethics election poll watch: Hung parliament on cards as race tightens but 'others' losing ground (ComRes) | Ekklesia

The ComRes poll for tomorrow's Independent on Sunday and Sunday Mirror shows a tighter race between the big 3 parties, but has 'others' losing ground significantly:

Con 34% (-1)
Lib Dem 29% (+2)
Lab 28% (+3)
Other 9% (-4)

(compared with most recent ComRes poll published 21 April)

This leaves the Conservatives short by 55 of a majority on as follows:

Con 271
Lab 254
LD 93

Andrew Hawkins, chairman of ComRes points out:

· Overall it looks like the Lib Dems had a very modest boost from Thursday night although Gordon Brown’s performance has clearly boosted his party’s rating

· Turnout looks set to be really quite high – 66% say ‘absolutely certain’ to vote, the highest registered of this campaign

· The number of people who are ‘absolutely certain’ to vote but who are undecided about who to vote for now stands at 3.3million British adults. This compares with 2.5m last week and 5m the previous week ie pre-first debate

· Lib Dem support is still strongest among the younger age groups – 41% among 18-24s

· Labour is ahead among C2s and DEs ie its core social groups while 35% of ABs say they’ll vote Lib Dem

· The Lib Dem figures are particularly strong in the North of England – this is entirely consistent with their instant poll on Thursday evening

Posted via web from sunwalking's posterous

Liberal Democrats popular all-round? | YouGov

LibDemsOne would be forgiven for thinking that there is not a single news website, programme, newspaper or political magazine that has been without updates of the ‘Cleggmania’ sweeping across the country. The Lib Dems climbed to a high of 33% in the voting intention polls this week, and it seems that this figure could be higher if Clegg’s party were perceived by the majority to have a significant chance of winning the General Election come May 6th. Just under half the country (49%) would vote for the Liberal Democrats if they were seen to have a reasonable chance of winning. Only 25% would vote for the Conservative party in these circumstances; a comparatively meagre 19% would vote for Labour.

An impressive 29% of the public would be ‘delighted’ to see a Liberal Democratic government after the next election, while a further 38% claimed they wouldn’t mind. Only slightly fewer (25%) say they would be delighted if a Conservative government rose to power on May 6th, but in contrast to the Lib Dems they are not supported by as many who ‘wouldn’t mind’ (20%). Only 18% would be delighted to see a fourth term for a Labour government.

Click on link to read full article

Posted via web from Hexham Matters

How New Labour have stolen the UK people's freedom and democracy right under the ignorant noses of the masses - Vote Independent or Lib Dem in Hexham & UK

How New Labour have stolen the UK people's freedom and democracy right under the ignorant noses of the masses - Vote Independent or Lib Dem in Hexham & UK

Comedian Shappi Khorsandi looks into how New Labour have stolen the UK people's freedom and democracy right under the ignorant noses of the masses, systematically destroying freedom of speech - especially against the government, and turned a democratic country into a police state worthy of the Adolf Hitler, Stalin, Chairman Mao, and the New World Order.

If Labour are going to work with the Lib Dems they better ditch many of their ways of behaving.

And don't forget that much of this started with Thatcher.


Posted via email from sunwalking's posterous

Tories want us to believe they've changed. Ho ho! - slammed over climate commitment | Ekklesia

The commitment of prospective Conservative MPs to tackling climate change is under question today after it was revealed that only two Tory candidates have backed a package of key measures to slash UK emissions.

The green measures, which have been put forward by Friends of the Earth, have been supported by scores of Labour and Liberal Democrat candidates.

During the election campaign, thousands of Friends of the Earth supporters contacted their candidates to support the environmental charity's four climate pledges. So far these have been backed by 285 Green Party candidates (out of around 300), 156 Liberal Democrats, 85 Labour and only two Conservatives.

Of the three main parties, only Nick Clegg has replied to a letter co-signed by over 8,000 supporters - asking them to commit to real action to tackle climate change.

In Hexham and the UK we want real change, real democracy not the 'We'll say anything to win a few votes!" of the tired old, corrupted parties.

Click on link to read all of the Ekklesia article.

Posted via web from sunwalking's posterous

Friday, 23 April 2010

Sun tight-lipped on poll 'censorship' claims | Charter 2010

The Sun has declined to comment on Liberal Democrat claims that it censored one of its own polls showing significant support for the party, The Independent reports.

Lib Dems are said to be angry that the pro-Tory Sun failed earlier this week to publish details of a YouGov poll - commissioned by the Murdoch-owned tabloid - which suggested that voters fear a Liberal Democrat government much less than a Conservative or Labour one.

The unpublished findings contained a raft of positives for the Nick Clegg's party - not least the suggestion that only 21 per cent viewed with dismay the prospect of a Lib Dem administration, against 45 per cent fearing the Tories and 51 per cent Labour. It further indicated that voters would switch to the Lib Dems in landslide-scale numbers if they thought the party had a significant chance of winning the election - an unlikely prospect under the current first-past-the-post system.

Prominent Lib Dem Loard Oakeshott told the Indy: "The numbers show that half the country cannot stand Gordon Brown and the other half can't stand David Cameron. I wonder why The Sun wouldn't share this news with its readers?"

YouGov president Peter Kellner said in a commentary on the unpublished poll that it was no longer outlandish to ask whether Clegg could end up as prime minister.

Posted via web from sunwalking's posterous

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Channel 4's FactCheck Blog - Will hung parliament lead to IMF bailout?

truth level 3

The claim
“If the British don’t decide to put in a government with a working majority and the markets think that we can’t tackle our debt and deficit problems, then the IMF will have to do it for us. That will be the view outside.”
Ken Clarke, Shadow Business Secretary, 21 April 2010

The background
In a press conference earlier today Ken Clarke warned of dire consequences in the financial markets if the election resulted in a hung parliament.

According to Ken, the market reaction could force the UK to go cap-in-hand to the International Monetary Fund for a loan, just like Greece is having to do now.

Pressed by Channel 4 News, the shadow chancellor, George Osborne, backed Mr Clarke’s comments, saying that the last time the IMF came in was when “the governing party did not have a workable majority in parliament” in the late 1970s.

Mr Osborne added that people needed to be aware of the consequences of a hung parliament: “I don’t think people should underestimate the economic consequences of political instability in their country when at a time when we are running one of the largest budget deficit in the developed world, when people have questioned our credit rating and when you can see there is a very serious problem with unemployment and business confidence.”

So should British voters be worried of the economic consequences of a hung parliament, or is it just political scare-tactics?

The analysis

Britain is unusual that in it rarely has a hung parliament – the last time one was elected was in 1974. But countries like Spain, Germany and Holland regularly return a minority government.

In fact, Professor Luis Garicano of the department of management at the London School of Economics, says that the claim that a hung parliament could spook the markets to the extent that an IMF loan is needed is an “absurd proposition”.

“I’m very surprised that the press are so insistent in this point,” says Professor Garicano. “It’s not going to make any difference from the outside. I think every foreign economist is flabbergasted by the suggestion.”

Professor Garicano says the real concern of the markets would be the progress of the new government in reducing the deficit and adds that the UK is fortunate that the three main parties are well regarded internationally and similarly-minded on economic issues.

Professor Garicano’s assessment is supported by another academic, Professor Philip Booth of the Institute of Economic Affairs. He says the three main parties’ approach to tackling the UK’s debt and deficit are “more or less the same”.

Professor Booth echoes Professor Garicano that the main issue influencing whether or not the IMF will be called in will be the new government progress in tackling the deficit. But he adds this is a medium term problem that won’t be affected by short-term political instability.

Professor Booth also casts doubt on the influence of political instability on the problems that led to the Callaghan government’s approach to the IMF in 1976. He says it actually was the result of years of financial mismanagement by both Labour and Conservative governments.

The verdict

While markets don’t like uncertainty, our economists agree that having three main parties with similar economic outlooks provides some degree of stability.

So despite the Conservatives’ insinuations, a hung parliament would not lead directly to an IMF bail out. In the words of Professor Booth, this particular Conservative claim is a “red herring”.

But – as all of this is opinion not fact – FactCheck will wait to see what happens post May 6th before declaring fact or fiction.

Click on link to read more of Channel 4's FactCheck-ing

Posted via web from sunwalking's posterous

Hang 'em - Vote for a (real) change, not a Tory or Labour sham

Click on link to find out more

Posted via web from sunwalking's posterous

In the 'Nick' of time | openDemocracy

Tomorrow, I hope oD will publish an overview on the electoral insurrection now seemingly underway in Britain. In it I say that "popular desire for real reform has lifted the Lib Dems onto its shoulders". One reason for this is that in the course of the first TV debate the party's leader became instantly know as "Nick". I was laughing about this with Jeremy Gilbert at the University of East London, where I'd been to speak at a colloquium on the meaning of the election (if you wish, you can listen to all three hours here). It's not always that this name tagging happens. Even with Blair, 'Tony' was an uncertain identification. Unlike 'Ken' or 'Boris' when you instantly know who is being referred to. Jeremy agreed. He remembered someone predicting that Kinnock would never win an election because he was never popularly known as Neil (whereas Thatcher was known as Maggie). Will the same rule apply to Brown, although he is sometimes referred to as Gordon, and to Cameron, who is never known as David? Go to it, Nick!

Click on link to read the full article

Posted via web from sunwalking's posterous

Voter Power Index results for Hexham - just look at the unfairness of the current FPTP system

2005 General Election result in Hexham

Winner takes all

2005 General Election result in Hexham

Note: there have been boundary changes for this constituency since the last election. These are notional results.

Click on link to see full picture

Posted via web from sunwalking's posterous

Want help with who to vote for? - see the UnlockDemocracy comparisons of the parties

The UnlockDemocracy campaign by Charter88 has an excellent comparison of all the political parties on these issues;

Go HERE to check out the comparisons one by one.


Posted via email from sunwalking's posterous

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Andrew Rawnsley quits PoliticsHome as it is sold to Lord Ashcroft | Media |

Andrew Rawnsley

Andrew Rawnsley

The Observer associate editor, Andrew Rawnsley, today resigned as editor-in-chief of after the website was sold to Lord Ashcroft, the deputy chairman of the Conservative party.

Rawnsley said that the politics website's non-partisan policy was incompatible with being owned by Ashcroft.

"I became editor-in-chief on the basis that PoliticsHome was dedicated to being a non-partisan site clearly independent of any party both editorially and financially," said Rawnsley, who is associate editor and chief political commentator of the Observer.

"It was essential for users of the site that they could feel absolute confidence in the political independence of PoliticsHome. I do not believe that can be compatible with being under the ownership of the deputy chairman of the Conservative party."

"I therefore greatly regret the decision made by Stephan Shakespeare, the chairman, to do a deal which places PoliticsHome under the ownership of Michael Ashcroft, the deputy chairman of the Conservative party. The site has been folded along with ConservativeHome into a new entity in which Lord Ashcroft is the majority shareholder."

Click on link to read article

Posted via web from Hexham Matters

36 hours to save whales!

I've just signed an urgent petition at to protect whales. Read more below, or click this link to join me in signing:


Dear friends,

On Thursday, a proposal will be unveiled that would legalize commercial whale hunting for the first time in 24 years.

The fate of the proposal will be determined largely by the world's immediate reactions to it -- and according to insiders, many governments are planning to stand aside and allow commercial whaling to resume. An outcry is needed now to ensure they stand strong to save the whales.

Avaaz has launched a last-moment petition to show our leaders their people want to protect whales, not hunt, kill, and sell them. The petition will be sent to the delegates to the International Whaling Commission every time we raise another 100,000 signatures -- sign here and forward this message:

A strong international consensus has opposed whaling for decades -- but for just as long, Japan, Norway, and Iceland have continued to hunt whales, ignoring the global ban on whaling or exploiting a loophole by claiming their expeditions were "scientific research." Now they could be rewarded by a "compromise" proposal, in which their commercial whaling would be made legal.

Worse still, a number of other countries are watching the process closely -- with rumored plans to start their own whaling programs if the proposal goes through. If Japan, Norway, and Iceland can hunt whales and sell their meat, others will ask "if them, why not us?"

It's time to save the whales -- again. Click below and forward this message to oppose the legalization of commercial whale hunting:

Forty years ago, whales were on the brink of extinction. But thanks to a global social movement, the world banned commercial whaling in 1986. The ban is one of the environmental movement's great triumphs.

Today, whales still face many threats: not just the whalers' harpoons, but also climate change, destruction of ecosystems by overfishing and pollution, and nets intended for other fish. A renewed wave of commercial whaling could devastate these extraordinarily intelligent and social cousins of humanity. This is no time to move backwards.

With hope,

Ben, Ricken, Paula, Iain, David, Luis, and the whole Avaaz team


Background on the 1986 international moratorium on whaling:

The most recent public draft of the IWC compromise proposal that is currently being updated:

An AFP article describing the state of whaling negotiations last week:

Posted via email from Hexham Matters

Gordon Brown Hypocisy reaches new heights

It was Brown & Prescott that stopped Blair from including Lib Dems in the government now look what he's saying!

Gordon Brown has appealed for a "progressive alliance" of natural Labour and Liberal Democrat supporters to join forces to keep the Conservatives out of power.

In an interview with The Independent, the prime minister says that he wants a "new politics", with the two parties creating an informal alliance.

"If you want a referendum on new politics, you've got to consider voting Labour," he told the newspaper.

"We are the only party committed to a referendum on it. You won't get one with the Tories."

Brown said the Tories offered merely "a change of personnel and a return to the old politics", whereas Labour was "serious" about revamping the UK's electoral system.

Meanwhile in an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has said Brown is "a desperate politician".

And the Liberal Democrat leader indicated he might find it difficult to do a deal with Brown in the event of a hung Parliament.

He also emphasised there were many differences between his party's policies and those of Labour.

"Do I think Labour delivered fairness? No. Do I think the Labour Party, in its heart, has a faith in civil liberties? No. They are clutching at straws."

Clegg's comments may be an attempt to distance himself from Brown ahead of the second leaders' debate tomorrow, after the prime minister tried to align himself with Clegg against Conservative leader David Cameron in the first debate, saying repeatedly "I agree with Nick"........

Cameron and the Tories of course are implacably opposed to Fair Voting.

Posted via email from Hexham Matters

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

'The Truth, and nothing but the Whole Truth please' - a plea from Charter 2010

Millions of words have been written about Britain's fiscal crisis since the General Election battle was joined. Few, if any, are more impassioned than those contributed to this week's Sunday Telegraph by Liam Halligan.

Halligan, one of the UK's most authoritative economists and journalists, warned of a "vortex of spiralling debt" and delivered a damning verdict on politicians of all party colours, accusing them of opaqueness in the face of a looming disaster.

"The UK is in desperate need of political honesty, yet we live in an age of unparalleled spin," he wrote. "Our politicians present as 'austerity measures' deficit reduction plans which barely dent state spending."

'Ghastly numbers'

Charter 2010 appreciates that there is the small matter of a General Election to be won and lost, and that the temptations to be, shall we say, economical with the truth are enormous for politicians anxious to woo a wavering electorate. Fiscal retrenchment was never going to be a vote-reaper.

But to fail consistently to confront the true gravity of the economic situation - and fail to be open about it - is an insult to the public's intelligence and, in Halligan's words, an affront to democracy. The devil, in this case, is in the lack of detail.

Halligan pitched some "absolutely ghastly numbers" into his argument. The still-spiralling national debt could double to £1,400bn by 2014/15 and may reach more than 500 per cent of GDP by 2040, he warned.

'Hidden liabilities'

Yet he estimated that all the parties are at least £30bn short when it comes to explaining how they will "halve the deficit" – a deficit which, in any case, tells only part of the story. Halligan pointed to "hidden liabilities" that paint the fiscal picture several shades blacker than it appears already.

Click on link to read the whole story

Posted via web from Hexham Matters

'History is one Sterling's side' says economist - report by Charter 2010

"The pound can rally even if we don't get a clear one-party majority on 6 May and the three main political parties are forced into negotiations over a coalition government."

Broux's data also disputed the "widely popular" view that a Conservative win invariably results in a sterling rally. He pointed out that after both Tory election victories in the 1980s, the pound lost ground against the dollar in the month immediately after.

Broux did not underestimate the threat to Britain's AAA credit rating. With the ratings agencies "breathing down the government's neck" and the economic outlook still uncertain, he understood the currency markets' anxiety.

Click on link to read full report

Posted via web from Hexham Matters

Human Rights: remembering Mexico and Iran as we seek a better political system in the UK

In this once in a life-time election in the UK there are many issues relating to the human rights of our citizens and to the need to re-structure our political system. 

However as we concentrate on all of those issues we should also be grateful for the country and system we have, if we compare it to many other places in the world.  I've been reminded of two such places recently.

The first is Mexico.  I suspect that many of us don't realize how bad things are in Mexico for so many people - because of the power and corruption from drug barons. 

The Los Angeles Times has a whole series of articles HERE that details how severely Mexico is suffering under this drug plague.

The second is Iran - and the plight of the Baha'is there in particular.  One particular young man's story show's what the Baha'is and other minorities are suffering in Iran.  Here is an extract;

I knew everything. It was possible I would be put in prison and get tortured. That this was no joke. I was young but I did not consider myself more important than others who had gone before me and trodden the path of defending humans and human rights.

I have always believed that a person is supposed to at least fight for and stand up for his or her own rights. All the same, I did not limit myself to some minimum. The only thing I did not think about was exile, about emigrating from my motherland.

I had previously spoken to my mother about going abroad. I had told her that I did not want to be uneducated, that I would go, study and come back. I knew I was not the type to actually leave but at least I could talk about it. My mother would say, "No, without you … I would not be able to tolerate your being in some distant place."

Then, after life fell apart, after the arrest of the members of the Reporters Committee and after death threats to Hesam Misaghi, Navid Khanjani[1] and myself, I was forced to go into hiding. My mother came to Mashhad one day and said, "Go … Sepehr go, do not stay here, go." It was then that I realized I had to face reality. The threats and the difficulty of imagining me in prison had left her with little energy and strength.

Because of my belief in the religion of Baha'ism I had tasted the bitterness of discrimination many times. My yearning to see my university entrance exam results was never fulfilled and I was forbidden from entering university[2]; of course, I was in much better condition than my friends who were being expelled from university after two or three semesters and despite good grades. We always felt a fear inside, the churning of prolonged threats.

I thought to myself, “What are those in prison or those who are sometimes killed guilty of? Guilty only of believing in a different religion?

I had seen off my Baha'i friends and relatives who had decided to flee and emigrate. I will never forget that cursed airport terminal where I had to say goodbye to my loved ones, those tears we shed with each other and for each other. I always asked myself, for what? Why shouldn't they have a way to study and work here? Why should they welcome the pain of distance in a life that is anyhow so transient…?

The kind of goodbyes that had been so painful and strange for me became my own destiny.

When I began receiving calls and threats from the intelligence service, , I was forced to make a decision, a choice that was all too easy to make. When you have only one choice, you have to go with that and the only option I had was to leave. Sometimes the choice is not only about you. Sometimes others are involved. I was not able to go on like that. I have to be honest with myself.

There were a thousand hurdles I had to go through in order to get out..............................

Go HERE to read the rest of Sepehr's story.

I'm not ashamed of wanting to improve matters in my country, England and the UK, but I know I should recognize, and feel solidarity with, extraordinary challenges in so many other countries.


Posted via email from sunwalking's posterous

Check out 'Voter Power' - try it for your constituency - results for Hexham


Voter Power Index

Rank #187 of 650

Voter power in Hexham


Constituency marginality

Fairly safe

In Hexham, one person does not really have one vote, they have the equivalent of 0.311 votes.

The power of voters in this constituency is based on the probability of the seat changing hands and its size.

While you might think that every vote counts equally, where you live in the UK has a huge effect on your power to influence the election.

How does Hexham compare?

Voters in Hexham have 1.23x more voting power than the UK average.

Average UK voter power


The average UK voter only has the power of 0.253 votes. This is because most of us live in safe seats, where the outcome is pretty much certain regardless of how we vote.

Hexham ranks #187 out of 650 constituencies in the Voter Power Index.

UK constituency marginality

We can be almost certain that 60% of seats will NOT change hands in the general election (very safe or ultra safe seats).

Further information


The more times a seat changes hands, the more marginal it is deemed to be.

  • 1992 Con
  • 1997 Con
  • 2001 Con
  • 2005 Con

Constituency size


This constituency is smaller than average, which means a voter here is more likely to affect the national result.

Number of voters: 60,019

Average constituency: 68,433

2005 election data

58% of votes discarded

57.61% of those who voted in Hexham in 2005 did not vote for the winning candidate. These votes count for nothing in the First Past the Post system.

2005 General Election result

2005 General Election result in Hexham

Winner takes all

2005 General Election result in Hexham

Note: there have been boundary changes for this constituency since the last election. These are notional results.

If tis doesn't make us think nothing will

Posted via web from sunwalking's posterous

Paddy Ashdown intervenes in hung parliament debate -

Former Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown has jumped into the hung parliament debate by rejecting claims an indecisive outcome to the general election would be bad for the country.

"Is a hung parliament a disaster for Britain? Absolutely not," he told in an exclusive interview.

Senior Labour and Conservative politicians have sought to address the recent surge in the polls for Britain's third party by arguing a hung parliament would undermine Britain's AAA credit rating.

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg has talked of a "balanced" parliament in a bid to make the prospect of a Commons without any party holding an overall majority more attractive. He has shied away from directly addressing the issue, however.

Now Lord Ashdown, who led the Liberal Democrats from 1988 to 1999, has addressed Gordon Brown and David Cameron's concerns head on.

"Take a lot at the top eight OECD [Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development] countries - seven of them have coalition partnership governments and they've done the most effective responses to the economic crisis," he said.

Greece, which is expected to announce its decision on receiving assistance from the IMF in the next two weeks, is a majoritarian government, Lord Ashdown pointed out.

He said he did not believe the markets would crash in the event of a hung parliament, saying they had "already discounted for that possibility", before adding: "I think the British people may be wise to say we don't want any of you to govern, we want you to work together.

Click on link to read article

Posted via web from sunwalking's posterous

SHOCK, HORROR STUNNING REVELATION: Nick Clegg's rise could lock Murdoch and the media elite out of UK politics | David Yelland | The Guardian

I doubt if Rupert Murdoch watched the election debate last week. His focus is very firmly on the United States, especially his resurgent Wall Street Journal. But if he did, there would have been one man totally unknown to him. One man utterly beyond the tentacles of any of his family, his editors or his advisers. That man is Nick Clegg.

Make no mistake, if the Liberal Democrats actually won the election – or held the balance of power – it would be the first time in decades that Murdoch was locked out of British politics. In so many ways, a vote for the Lib Dems is a vote against Murdoch and the media elite.

I can say this with some authority because in my five years editing the Sun I did not once meet a Lib Dem leader, even though I met Tony Blair, William Hague and Iain Duncan Smith on countless occasions. (Full disclosure: I have since met Nick Clegg.)

I remember in my first year asking if we staffed the Liberal Democrat conference. I was interested because as a student I'd been a founder member of the SDP. I was told we did not. We did not send a single reporter for fear of encouraging them.

So while we sent a team of five, plus assorted senior staff, to both the Tory and Labour conferences, we sent nobody to the Lib Dems. And while successive News International chiefs have held parties at both those conferences, they have never to my knowledge even attended a Lib Dem conference.

It gets even worse. While it would be wrong to say the Lib Dems were banned from Murdoch's papers (indeed, the Times has a good record in this area), I would say from personal experience that they are often banned

Click on the link to read the article.

Posted via web from Hexham Matters

Monday, 19 April 2010

Poll shows Lib Dems ahead of Labour

A new ComRes poll for ITN/The Independent  also shows the Lib Dems up an impressive and potentially game-changing 8%, with the Tories down four points and Labour down two since an equivalent poll taken the night before the debate.

That leaves just four points between all three main parties - with the Tories on 31%, the Lib Dems on 29% and Labour on 27%. Repeating last night's YouGov numbers, this poll shows the race has been blown wide open by the first televised debate on Thursday.

Translated to the election on a uniform swing, the new poll would deliver a hung parliament, with Labour as the largest party on 278 seats, the Tories on 238 and the Lib Dems on 103, according to the UK Polling Report.

64% of people agree with the statement that "regardless of how I vote, Nick Clegg should play some part in the next government."

Posted via web from sunwalking's posterous

Sunday, 18 April 2010

BNP comes to the Hexham Constituency - how warmly will mystery man Quentin hawkins be welcomed?

Brian Tilley in the Hexham Courant writes;

THE arrival of a British National Party candidate has set a cat among the electoral pigeons in the first week of campaigning in the General Election in Hexham.

Little is known about the BNP’s man Quentin Hawkins, other than the fact he is a Northumbrian.

Personal details of Mr Hawkins will not be released until after nominations close on Tuesday.

However in a message to the Courant yesterday, Mr Hawkins said: “A vote for the British National Party is not a vote for bigotry........”

If you are not familiar with the BNP their blog is one place to start HERE

A WikiPedia article is HERE

Posted via email from Hexham Matters

Age UK | General Election | Our Manifesto

Each of us has our own list of what we want the next government to do. It’s based on our families, and our hopes and worries for the future:

  • We want to be financially secure.
  • We want to be well, and confident that the NHS is there for us when we’re not.
  • We want to stay independent, with care and support if needed.
  • We want to be seen as people and not labelled because of our age.
  • We don’t want to be lonely or left out of our communities.

We expect the next government to do their bit to make this possible.

Age UK’s manifesto sets out the issues that we know are important to those of us in later life and our families. Whatever our age, everyone should be able to expect a happy and secure later life.

It is our challenge to the next government to help us achieve this.

Click on link to find out more

Posted via web from sunwalking's posterous

Which organizations can help me work for a better political system? (update)

ACTIVIST GROUPS - LIST OF ORGANIZATIONS FOR REFORM IN UK POLITICS (Let me know of any that should be added - excluding extremist groups)

My hope that organizations should combine to work for a hung/coallition/consensus parliament was recently answered via the launch of -

Introduction to British Politics -   see   also   WikiPedia

Electoral Reform Society and MakeMyVoteCount -
ModernLiberty -
Charter2010 -
Contact your Councillors, MP, MEPs, MSPs, or Northern Ireland, Welsh and London AMs for free -
DemocracyClub -
Equality Trust -
Hear from your MP -
The Independent Network -    and
JustSolutions - - find out which seats are marginal and by how many votes
VoteForPoliciesNotPeople -

Posted via email from Hexham Matters

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