Wednesday, 24 March 2010

PMQs, the Budget, and warm Dullingham and Burwell

It's been a busy day, what with Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs) and the Budget on TV as well as the ongoing campaign. The viewings caused me to run later with my electioneering than I wished. However, both were enlightening.

I thought that 'Dave' Cameron made a good point at the expense of Gordon Brown during PMQs when he alluded - again - to the latter having authorized the sale of some of our country's gold reserves at a much lower price than is available in the market today. That aside, however, I think that the Prime Minister did well and made the most of the Government's right decisions throughout the international financial crisis, from which we now appear to be emerging. It is surely true that this crisis, which has had worldwide effects, started in the United States with their banks lending too much to NINJA (No Income, No Job, No Assets) clients, some of whom had no hope of repaying the loans.

The collapses of Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers and the Fed rescues of Citigroup, American International Group, Bank of America and others followed and these had dramatic effects on our own London banking businesses, which are very valuable to our overall economy despite what we might think about the bankers' bonuses. Northern Rock went down - and nearly out - and RBS and Lloyds TSB (now Lloyds Banking Group and doing well) were saved by Government share buying which will probably prove profitable to the public purse. It would have been very different if Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling had taken no action. It was no time for mere hand-wringing or hand-washing and those two didn't just wring their hands or wash their hands of the troubles that we were then in.

I am relieved that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his Budget speech, made it clear that, at least so far as this Government is concerned, there is to be no banking tax or levy without international agreement. The Tories seem to be thinking of unilateral action and Mr Simon Heffer, of the Daily Telegraph no less, believes this to be 'bonkers.' For once I agree with him.

For the full Simon Heffer article, together with on-line comments, go to -

Alistair Darling did well in the circumstances and it is evident that we have a level head at the Treasury, at least for a while. Many first-time home buyers will be helped again by his Stamp Duty changes, as will the building industry. The question remains: should more dramatic action be taken on the deficit now or a little later? That seems to be the principal Budget argument and, to be quite frank, I doubt that there are any other major differences between the major political parties on the economy. On balance, I think that Mr Darling is right.

At last, it's been warm out today, and Sue and I went this afternoon to 'do' parts of Dullingham, a village that we know well and where we are well-known. We started off at Vicarage Close where we were entertained at the home of old friends. They are good supporters - now independent by conviction and not just through friendship: it seems that thought processes are very much the same throughout the constituency - and it was great fun seeing them. One of our posters is now in a prominent place in their window. Thanks a million, Trev!

After that we went into the main part of the village and to the closes on the way to Stetchworth. It is a joy to canvass even when the weather is inclement but it is even better now that the sun is shining and there is some real Spring warmth.

I had a cup of tea at home and then went alone to Burwell for part of the evening. As the weather is much better and the nights are 'drawing out,' going door-to-door is now an evening job. I like it all and, what's much more important, it is very clear that people are warming more and more to the idea of an independent MP.

Gosh, I am glad that I am out of the old party political hypocrisy.

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