An air of resignation hangs over the allotments. We are up to our ears in snow but at least, according to the forecasts, we ain’t going to get any more. Just as well for some of the greenhouses which overlook the chicken runs are sporting huge overhangs which look ready to refill the areas we have spent yonks on clearing. But the chooks clearly appreciate our efforts for there were some eggs today which is unusual at this time of year, let alone in the return of the ice age. Very strange but not half as strange as the goings on in Oldham East and Saddleworth consituency where the three main parties are preparing to fight to the death in the first electoral test for the coalition.
Strange indeed because one of the parties is going to great lengths not to win! Unfortunately for David Cameron somene has leaked copies of instructions he has given to torpedo the Tory candidate, Kadshif Ali. A planned campaign involving dozens of volunteers delivering leaflets has been cancelled, visits by leading Tory ministers likewise. In fact the prime minister has ordered that no efforts be made to support Mr Ali. Short of driving around the patch wearing a yellow rosette and urging voters to support the Lib Dems, Mr Cameron has done everything possible to deliver what sounds suspiciously like an electoral pact with his close friend Mr Clegg. All ‘Dave’ would say when challenged was that “we wish our partners well”. He may do but grassroots Tories will be unhappy about this, many feel that already too many concessions have been made.
There are presumably two possible explanations. The first is that Cameron fears a Lib Dem defeat in a consituency that they almost won against Woolas would be the breaking point for Lib Dem MPs many of whom are already talking privately to Ed Miliband and company. But if this is the reason why field a Tory candidate at all? The other more sinister possibility is that, like Lloyd George and Ramsay MacDonald before them, Cameron and Clegg are secretly planning a permanent alignment and that entails not opposing each other in an election. Under this the party most likely to beat Labour would in effect be the coalition or joint candidate.
There have been rumours to this effect for some time and the bye-election brings it to a head. But if this is the secret plan it is a high risk one. It is built on an assumption that Lib Dem voters will stick with the coalition. All the signs are that roughly half will never vote for any party connected with Clegg again. Ironically this contest is the result of Phil Woolas having been found guilty of lying. The lies told by Clegg were of far greater import and were signed.
The government has called the election at the earliest possible moment to minimise the possibility of students staging protests. But there are fascinating aspects to the result. If the rather pompous Lib Dem Elwyn Watkins wins expect a backlash from Tory backbenchers. If Labour win, the coalition is in deep trouble and those Lib Deb MPs who voted against the government last week may well go one step further. Should the unsupported Tory win expect Clegg to fall and Cameron to lose his main stooge.
Oh what a tangled web they weave when they are trying to deceive!
THE STAGGERING COST OF MEPs!
Westminster MPs will doubtless be relieved that for the moment at least the Telegraph has turned its beady eye on to their European counterparts, the MEPs. And the findings are truly staggering!
Britain’s members of the EU parliament are costing the taxpayer £26 million per year. Alnost all earn more than MPs and all have voted themselves a nice inflation-busting increase for next year. In addition to their salaries MEPs are able to claim, without providing receipts, almost unlimited expenses. Some who made the fewest appearances claimed the greatest amounts but few claimed less than £100,000 on expenses. And there is also the huge cost of pension provision. On average each MEP costs us £370,000. And to do what?
According to Sian Herbert, an analyst at the thinktank Open Europe, “MEP’s activities and whereabouts are woefully under-scrutinised…and there are serious questions about transparency and accountability”.
But the EU, which has failed audit for many years, refuses to publish details. It continues to be not only undemocratic but the sort of company you wouldn’t buy a second hand car from! Perhaps it should merge with FIFA!
YESTERDAY’S QUIZ ANSWERS; 1. Grease 2. Jeremy Thorpe
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. How old was Bertrand Russell when he died? 2. Where was the first ever nerve transplant performed?