I was back amongst the mud and hens this morning. We did eventually reach Cambridge but by the time we did so it was time to turn around and head back. We were only away for a day, but the number of irritating national topics still multiplied like rabbits on heat.
First amongst them was the news that we are now being pressed to contribute more than £25 billion to a new eurozone payout. Despite Britain being outside the eurozone, European officials are demanding Britain hands over what would be the second largest donation. The matter will come to a head today when George Osborne attends a meeting of finance ministers.
The demand is over and above the £12 billion for which we are already liable in respect of loans made to Greece, Portugal and Ireland. Last night Peter Bone, the Tory MP for Wellingborough, urged the Chancellor to stand up for the “British interest”, even if he is as isolated as David Cameron was just days ago. Douglas Carswell, the Tory MP for Clacton, said; “George Osborne has spent 20 months going along with the bail-out and it has cost this country billions which dwarf the austerity measures. He needs to call a halt now”. RIght across the Tory ranks the same sentiments were echoing and, predictably, only the Lib Dem members of the coalition were urging that yet another fortune be handed over.
The view of the people became clear with the results of the latest opinion poll. Suddenly the Conservatives have a huge lead over Labour with the Lib Dems having all but vanished. Whatever Cameron’s motives may have been, his refusal to bow the knee to the bullying tactics of Merkel and Sarkosy won widepsread acclaim. It may well be that the insults subsequently poured out by the French helped more than a little.
Surely Osborne will not now agree to a payment toward a club we have spurned. Should he concede this he can wave goodbye to any hope of a co-operative approach from those now suffering the effects of cuts. Just for once he should glance back to the stance of the sainted Margaret. She gave a whole new meaning to the words No,No,No!
CLEGG AND THE HOUSE OF LORDS
Nick Clegg will today signal that Lords reform will be the key parliamentary battleground of next year by promising that the Queen’s speech will include plans for an elected upper house that will be forced past peers if necessary. Predictably, the Labour Party has said nothing.
Surely it is high time to put an end to undemocratic privilege. Many believe that the honours system itself is a relic of a bygone age of an empire that no longer exists, but tackling the Lords would be a good first step.
There is only one question. Clegg will reveal that 20% of the Lords will still be “by appointment”. So all those prepared to fund the Tory party will still be able to earn ermine!
WELL DONE MILITARY WIVES!
Gareth Malone worked a near miracle when he persuaded a large group of military wives, most of whom had never sung other than in their baths, to form a choir. Now they are on the brink of topping the Christmas charts with ‘Wherever you are’.
Wonderful! For too long our troops in Afghanistan have been locked into a war that only politicians see as worthwhile. They have been betrayed and their families left in permanent anguish. They have felt lonely and isolated. They have lacked a voice.
Now they have one. The proceeds of the single will go to charity, it is our chance to show support for the forgotten half of our troops who face mortal danger for a lost cause.