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The Glass Box for Monday

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Eddie Mair | 16:27 UK time, Monday, 3 December 2007

In the PM office we meet ever night after the programme in this Glass Box:


We talk about the content of the programme and try to give an honest assessment of what worked and what didn't...the things we missed and the places where our ambitions were not met. THIS virtual glass box you are looking at is where you are invited - indeed encouraged - to be honest about our hour. Members of the production team will read it, and the editor should comment too.


  1. At 04:49 PM on 03 Dec 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    Competition time, guys.
    How many quadlattes will fit on each of those tables, I wonder?
    (And how many rings will need to be cleaned away thereafter ......

    At a guess, I'd say circa 20 per table.

  2. At 05:23 PM on 03 Dec 2007, Jonathan wrote:

    One of your political commentators (didn't catch name) expressed confusion over a poll showing 17% of people thought Vince Cable and the Lib Dems were tainted by sleaze.

    Probably has something to do with this case http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/6090688.stm . Where a Lib Dem donor of £2m was jailed for fraud and perjury.

    Get some commentators who know something about their subject please!

    / political geek off

  3. At 05:30 PM on 03 Dec 2007, Sid Cumberland wrote:

    Jonathan (2) - Perhaps the commentator in question had read the whole of the article you refer to, including these bits:

    "There is no suggestion the court case has anything to do with the party.


    In a statement, the Electoral Commission said it had "previously made clear its view that it was reasonable for the Liberal Democrats - based on the information available to them at the time - to regard the donations they received from 5th Avenue Partners Ltd in 2005, totalling just over £2.4m, as permissible".

    The watchdog added: "It remains the commission's view that the Liberal Democrats acted in good faith at that time, and the commission is not re-opening the question of whether the party or its officers failed to carry out sufficient checks into the permissibility of the donations."


  4. At 05:39 PM on 03 Dec 2007, Chas Cochand wrote:

    I don't have a great of sympathy for Gordon Brown, but I am definitely against public monies for political parties. Who can even guess what Harriet Harmon spent the £5k on in her deputy leadership campaign, but I don't want to be forced to a further tax to promote politicians and the egos. I am happy to send money to the man or woman who will represent my views honestly and fearlessly, but I suspect that excludes all those who decided to pursue glittering prizes while standing on my shoulders.
    Blair has the blood of over 78,000 Iraquis on his fingers, and he would say he was acting in my name. The money spent embroiling them and their country comes from my pocket, in a country where elderly and ill people cannot have the treatment that could help them.
    Please speak for those of us who see the prospect of being forced to support the parties who only represent themselves is an anathema.

  5. At 05:39 PM on 03 Dec 2007, rick jones wrote:

    I think you omitted to say that parents have to pay for after school clubs. in the years before this innovation, teachers ran sports, music, chess and even academic clubs for nothing. Many still would but they would look foolish beside the teachers who are getting cash in hand for their overtime. And what happens to the rest of the income after the teacher has been paid? Schools should be obliged to account for the money properly. My daughter's school doesn't though it makes upwards of £200 a night for running these clubs.

  6. At 05:43 PM on 03 Dec 2007, Jane Parsons wrote:

    Hi Eddie.

    Just a comment on the dollar a day piece. Your reporter said he was in India, but I'm not sure what planet he was on. He apparently thought a dollar a day was not as bad as it's made out to be as a measure of poverty, because he could buy a chicken curry with it, or a trip across town in a motorised rickshaw.

    Come ON, BBC reporter. What about the other things you are supposed to buy with your one dollar a day when you are at the bottom of the food chain? Accommodation, water, clothes, food, education, health care - the list is endless.This sort of slovenly rubbish tarnishes PM's good name.

    I know, maybe your producer could ask him to live on a dollar a day for a week in India, to teach him how to report accurately.

  7. At 05:46 PM on 03 Dec 2007, Bernard Farnell wrote:

    Great to here Banksi is in Bethlem. A wonderful place to visit and perfectly SAFE! I was their in summer 2006. The only time I felt concerned about safety was when I was In the Israeli side of the wall (too many guns). The more people who visit Bethlem the more hope Palestinians have in the future and the less opportunity Israel has to lie about the wall being necessary for security

  8. At 05:46 PM on 03 Dec 2007, Sid Cumberland wrote:

    Does anyone else think we've probably heard enough about Gillian Gibbons now?


  9. At 05:50 PM on 03 Dec 2007, Jo wrote:

    Was the Banksy interview scripted? He seemed to be reading his answers!

  10. At 05:52 PM on 03 Dec 2007, rick jones wrote:

    and another thing...
    Last week you ran a piece on Belgium splitting up as a nation over the language issue. It was Tuesday or Wednesday. In the background you had the sound of chanting the verb To Have (avoir) in a Flemish classroom. Very few language teachers use this technique in British schools, but they should. It drills children in the basics and if they have the basics they always fell more confident in the subject later on. As we know, students are dropping languages in droves. Re-introduction of this old-fashioned method might make all the difference.

  11. At 05:54 PM on 03 Dec 2007, p. wagstaff wrote:

    I don't know whether it's anything to do with Mrs Gibbons but is the bear at the Turner anything to do with her?

  12. At 05:54 PM on 03 Dec 2007, Shandy wrote:

    Hey guys - I liked your interview with Banksy, but I hate to be the perveyor of bad news, but that was not Banksy. Sorry guys, you've been given a bum steer. How can you be sure I'm telling you the truth? Well, you have absolutely no way of saying, but there is another interview with him for NPR a few years ago - if you find it - and I've no idea of the link, but you'll notice how the two voices are different...

  13. At 05:55 PM on 03 Dec 2007, Tony Gore wrote:

    As a former treasurer of my local LibDems, I can say that whilst I was in charge of local finances

    1) All donations that exceeded £200 in a year had to be identified and checked within 30 days as to whether or not they were permissible donations

    2) All were completely genuine

    I even had the Electoral Commission bounce my accounts one year because they did not quite add up, due to a clerical error on my part.

    I find it hard to believe that senior Labour politiicians were not aware of the law.

    I always understood that ignorance was no defence.

  14. At 05:55 PM on 03 Dec 2007, David wrote:

    The poll tells us about perceptions of the Lib Dems. It doesn't to tell us why they are considered sleazy. The news item in question may be the answer. So might the party's behaviour over Charles Kennedy and Menzies Campbell. Or maybe it was Mark Oaten's own behaviour. It could also arise from the oft-remarked cynicism about all politicians. Without asking the people polled, it's pure speculation.


  15. At 05:59 PM on 03 Dec 2007, Charlotte wrote:

    I like this programme, and very much enjoy Eddie Mair's delivery.

    I was quite upset by the interview with the correspondent about the Omagh fire. I didn't think it was quite wrong to refer to a glimmer of "hope" in the elder daughter's tragic death, trying (and failing) to get help for her family. Not sure how much comfort a medal of honour is going to be either. The correspondent also seemed to realise it was perhaps inappropriate to refer to the police bringing a measure of "peace" to the matter by clarifying that, although all had died a horrible death, presumably at the hand of their father, they had not been tied up at the time. ! So he then emphasised its ghastliness again to compensate...

  16. At 06:01 PM on 03 Dec 2007, Jonathan wrote:

    Sid (3)

    Oh I know nothing illegal was found re the donation - it would be criminal rather than sleazy then - but the question was why people might think the Lib Dems were sleazy.

    Anyway, I was sarcastically nitpicking rather than trying to make any serious point. ..

    Agree with (4). Its strange how 1 short jail sentence achieves far more attention than all the suffering in Darfur and South Sudan. Oh well.

  17. At 06:05 PM on 03 Dec 2007, Kathleen Hines wrote:

    I do enjoy the Today programme but would appreciate the interviewers being more polite to interviewees.

    The sometimes very rude barracking/haranging is very off-putting and gets in the way of questions receiving full answers.

    It does not help today's confrontational society to have it promolgated on the radio.

    As rational adults, we can make up our own minds as to whether interviewees are telling us the truth.

    After all, one can catch more flies with sugar than with vinegar.

  18. At 06:07 PM on 03 Dec 2007, Charlotte wrote:

    (Trying now for the fourth time. Either I'm not able to post on this, or the first one is still queued for moderation...)

    I like your programme, and particularly enjoy Eddie Mair's calm and friendly delivery.

    I was quite upset by the correspondent interview about the Omagh fire. Surely it was not appropriate to refer to a glimmer of "hope" with regard to the poor girl trying (and failing) to call for help before she died. No hope any more, for her or anyone else, that I can see.

    The correspondent also seemed to realise that it probably wasn't appropriate either to refer to the police bringing a measure of "peace" in clarifying that the family were not tied up at the time they died; he quickly went on to re-emphasise the ghastliness of their death. He struck quite the wrong tone, I felt.

  19. At 06:10 PM on 03 Dec 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Chas Cochand (4),

    May I sign up in opposition to ANY public funding of ANY political parties. Parties are the biggest impediment to truly representative democracy.

    What do they legitimately need funds for?
    1. Office and administrative expense - easily funded by small individual contributions from membership.

    2. Campaign costs - again SENSIBLE costs include travelling to and from constituency ONCE, hire of halls and auditoria, etc. also easily funded by membership.

    3. Campaign costs - advertising on billboards and otherwise? NOT NEEDED! Expensive professional PR advisors? AN ABOMINATION!

    Parties may begin as a gathering of people with shared political principles, but these principles immediately become secondary to the 'necessity' that the party to gain and then maintain OFFICE (as a party).

    Vote for independent individuals whom you feel you can trust, not parties whose only reliable properties are mendacity and self-serving habits.


    Namaste -ed

    Keep it short for pithy sake.

  20. At 06:12 PM on 03 Dec 2007, Martyn wrote:

    Your presenter on the sex tourism article asked why Australia and the USA has managed to get more prosecutions of nationals engaged in the abuse of children in the Far East than the UK. The proximity of Australia, and the fact that there are 10x the number of Americans than there are Brits, may have something to do with it.
    Please try to look at these reasons before suggesting that the UK isn't trying hard enough.
    You might also point out that by far the greatest number of abusers are nationals of the country where the abuse takes place, followed by Japanese and Middle East nationals.

  21. At 06:23 PM on 03 Dec 2007, The Stainless Steel Cat wrote:

    Sid (6):

    Probably. Perhaps PM would like to now follow the story of what will happen to me now that I've renamed the Womble I share an office with from Orinoco to "The Dalai Womble". I suspect the immediate future does not hold either lashes or visits from members of the House of Lords.

    On the subject of Banksy, I view him as nothing more than an arrogant, jumped-up vandal who should be put to scrubbing walls clean for the next few years, along with all his cohorts.

    However, if anything deserves to be vandalised, it is that Wall.

  22. At 06:24 PM on 03 Dec 2007, Shandy wrote:

    ok, had a quick look and this is the interview. Very different voice, n'est pas?


  23. At 06:26 PM on 03 Dec 2007, Nick Byrne wrote:

    Re the item on newsrounds survey of children....v interesting how the professor who spoke struggled to convey the findings of her / their 38 years of research in the face of a quickie survey conducted by newsround ...which piece of research will the average punter take notice of ??

  24. At 06:28 PM on 03 Dec 2007, jacques wrote:

    What does a "Prof of Longitudinal Studies" do ?

  25. At 06:32 PM on 03 Dec 2007, Lesley wrote:

    People's human rights not upheld, abuse of vulnerable adults, poor quality of care, use of drugs to control peoples’ behaviour see http://2007ratings.healthcarecommission.org.uk/newsandevents/news.cfm/cit_id/23618/widCall1/customWidgets.content_view_1/usecache/false

    Do you think PM has fallen for the Department of Health attempt to bury bad news?
    An important report on poor quality support for people with learning disabilities came out today, but most news programmes have lead with the cancer study headlines and many have failed to cover this report. I am sad that you did not cover this report that highlights poor care for potentially vulnerable members of our society.

    A DH update on it key policy document Valuing People is also due out this week. I do hope you will be able to cover this in you programme and give a focus to a marginalised group of people and their families.

  26. At 06:40 PM on 03 Dec 2007, Bob Woolvie wrote:

    There was no mention on BBC news programs to-day of The Times' main story. They say they have just found more than 100 internet sites trying to sell thousands of private account numbers, PIN numbers, home addresses, telephone numbers and so on.

    Why was this not thought to be of interest to listeners?

    It seems to have been left to the press to do the work of Richard Thomas the Information Commissioner.

    You also did not mention the News of the World story that it was handed two disks carrying the details of 18,000 claimants.

    Did your Editor misjudge 'news values' or is he exercising 'restraint' for some reason?

  27. At 06:48 PM on 03 Dec 2007, sophie wrote:

    Please can we stop the endless repeating of the background to Gillian Gibbons case.... that is of course the British teacher sentenced to fifteen days for allowing her class of six years old to name a teddy bear after the prophet Mohammed.... we know, we get it, we know all about the teddy bear and the class of six years olds. This is not the US where they tend to repeat the obvious every two minutes. This woman has been on almost every news bulletin for the past eight days. Goodness knows what she was teaching this...class of six year olds who named the teddy.....if she didn't know about the offence likely to be caused by her actions. Enough already. Give us a break from Gillian Gibbons.

  28. At 07:03 PM on 03 Dec 2007, Vanessa Wilkes wrote:

    I listened with great interest to the Chief Exec of School Friends etc on your programme. I could hardly believe my ears that this was the same company which closed the after school club at my sons school. After receiving the letter informing me of impending closure of the club on Saturday, I contacted the head teacher on Monday and was even more suprised to find out that she knew nothing about it, even though it was due to close the following Friday - 5 days later.

    The school is in one of the deprived areas which the Chief Exec spoke about which required at least 3 years to increase numbers and ensure sustainability and build confidence in parents that long term child care was in place so that they could follow a career or training course in the knowledge that their children were being looked after in a safe environment, being stimulated by a range of activities, complemented by a healthy meal.

    Invariably, the healthy meal my sons were provided with was noodles or beans on toast - not my definition of healthy. Also, the stimulating environment witnessed by me was children playing on the computer while the staff checked their e-mail. Very rarely did I witness anything else. Certaintly nothing akin to the drama and arts activities so specifically articulated by the Chief Exec.

    I tried on a number of occasions to contact the company after hearing the news and not one person called me back or answered their phone. I understand the issue of funding, but having worked in an environment of short term funding, I am also aware that the company would have known for a much longer time than 5 days that it intended to close the club.

    The school has managed to find alternative child care for me at a local school. And although it is not as handy, it is far better organised - and cheaper!

    I cannot express how angry this item made me and it is precisely people like that Chief Exec which will ensure that the poverty agenda will not be addressed and parents and children within those areas of deprivation will not break out of the poverty cycle.

  29. At 07:09 PM on 03 Dec 2007, chris wrote:

    I am baffled that Brown wants to make yet more laws about party funding. Isn't the problem that the present laws are being broken? The union sub problem was solved way back in the 90s, making it non compulsory to subscribe to labour with union subs.

  30. At 07:25 PM on 03 Dec 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Chris (29),

    "Isn't the problem that the present laws are being broken?"

    Absolutely! This is classical diversionary tactics we're seeing.

    And it'll be a travesty if it leads to public funding paying parties. We already pay politicians too much, and now it's suggested we fund their unions!


    They also serve who only stand and wait.
    -- John Milton

  31. At 07:45 PM on 03 Dec 2007, Humph wrote:

    Re rick jones (10) personally I would agree with Jerome K. Jerome in his book “Three men on the Bummel” (chapter 6) first published in 1900:

    In England we have a method that for obtaining the least possible result at the greatest possible expenditure of time and money is perhaps unequalled. An English boy who has been through a good middle-class school in England can talk to a Frenchman, slowly and with difficulty, about female gardeners and aunts; conversation which, to a man possessed perhaps of neither, is liable to pall. Possibly, if he be a bright exception, he may be able to tell the time, or make a few guarded observations concerning the weather. No doubt he could repeat a goodly number of irregular verbs by heart; only, as a matter of fact, few foreigners care to listen to their own irregular verbs, recited by young Englishmen.

    It might have had the appearance of productivity, to recite irregular verbs, but it does not assist conversation.


  32. At 07:58 PM on 03 Dec 2007, jean francois wrote:

    ok guys, listened to the intervew as well, I reckon this was the real deal, as a choice of two this one sounds most genuine, anyway I don't actually care he's doing the right thing and more than anyone else in terms of commenting on our times. what a great show keep up the good work.

  33. At 09:06 PM on 03 Dec 2007, Deepthought wrote:

    Chris (30),

    Isn't the issue of the political levy from the unions whether it's an opt-in or an opt-out? Labour fear that people would not opt in, Tories realise that an opt-out will not be taken up, thereby giving Labour that much more cash.

    I agree with Ed I (31) on the issue of taxpayer funding of political parties, and given how much the taxpayer has had to fund regular huge inflation-busting payrises for MPs, let alone the leaders of parties etc.

    (Just heard the Turner Prize winner and extract of his acceptance speech at 21:00 news - His inspiration is hardly the last dissenting voice, just the last dissenting voice legally able to do so where he does, outside the HofC)

  34. At 10:41 PM on 03 Dec 2007, sacrebleu wrote:

    I wish BBC news types would annunciate properly...

    Laura Jones of Newsround talked tonight of ninety-wum percent of children. CQuinn does it as well, with the Labour Party Comference. And even Shaun Ley referring to Gordom Brown.

    Have a word with them, please Eddie.

  35. At 07:17 AM on 04 Dec 2007, Abdul-Rahim wrote:

    I think that there was too much time focusing on children and after school clubs and then the analysing of the job aspirations between generations didn't really have any message to it, just sort of soft news, which is fine, but one wouldn't think that the producers of PM consider their program a soft-news one.

  36. At 08:51 AM on 04 Dec 2007, Charlie wrote:

    Abdul-Rahim @ 36

    The points I too was going to make. Left a sort of wishy-washy feeling...

  37. At 09:12 AM on 04 Dec 2007, Rupert Allman wrote:

    Bob ( 26 ) - Hi. To pick up on a couple of points you raise. A fortnight ago iPM led with a story about our medical records and asked why so many people will have access to them on the new NHS database. We also exposed unreported weaknesses in the way this data is moved around the country.

    This week, again on the subject of sensitive/private data, we picked up a warning from MI5 that the UK is under cyber-attack from China. So, I don't think the print media is doing all the running here.

    The NOTW story featured on our news bulletins on Sunday. Anway, I'm sure tonight's editor will elaborate when - he or she gets the chance. Thx. Rupert - Editor iPM.

  38. At 09:22 AM on 04 Dec 2007, Yvonne Murray, PM reporter wrote:

    Re 20.

    Dear Martyn,

    My report on child abuse was not confined to the Far East. The statistics on successful prosecutions refer to all cases. The fact remains that Australia and the US have prosecuted far more of their nationals in child abuse cases abroad than the UK has.

    Thanks for your interest.


  39. At 09:42 AM on 04 Dec 2007, UptheTrossachs wrote:

    The piece on glacial melt in Nepal was thought provoking without lecturing too much or jumping to conclusions.
    I agree with Nick Byrne @ 23 - the professor seemed to be struggling. Was she not given much notice, or was it just that after decades of research she simply didn't know where to start?

    Banksy did sound as though he was reading from a script - but he least he was prepared! (if it was him)

  40. At 10:07 AM on 04 Dec 2007, UptheTrossachs wrote:

    Yvonne, Yvonne - calm yer jets. Don't get so defensive. Without wishing to put words in Martyn's mouth, I believe his point is that if it were possible to establish what the proportion of prosecutions were to offences committed, the picture may show that the UK hasn't performed quite as badly as implied from the simple tally of prosecutions.

  41. At 10:09 AM on 04 Dec 2007, Aperitif wrote:

    I am sorely disappointed to read the comments here from those who are "tired" of hearing about Gillian Gibbons. This has been a current news story (granted, she is home now and so some peace and privacy for her would be preferable) about a Britch Citizen treated appalling by a foreign justice system, with wider implications for relations between the two countries. But you're all bored so we shouldn't talk about it? Incredibly self-centred.

    Ed (30) We already pay politicians too much, and now it's suggested we fund their unions! What rubbish! No one is suggesting that the tax payers should take over the political levy! The argument is, as mentioned elsewhere above, about whether individual union members should need to 'opt in' to the political levy rather than, as at present, have the opptunity to 'opt out'.

    The Labour Party itself is not proposing an increase in state funding -- in fact, it would prefer not to use this option but has conceded that it will consider it along with all of the others in the face of pressure from other parties to the Hayden Phillips talks. The Labour Party's preferred option would be a cap on spending (all of the time rather than merely during short campaigns). All the donations in the world would cause no problems if the parties were only allowed to spend a capped sum. The Tories will never agree to this, however, because that is their advantage over other parties -- way, way more money, which they pour into marginal constituencies between election times. It truly angers and saddens me to read, on this thread, that people cannot see the difference between a party supported by wealthy donors and generally wealthy members and a party supported by mainly working-class people paying union subscriptions and membership fees.

    As for supporting independent candidates whom one can trust -- never met one! Independent candidates in my experience are either single-issue campaigners, passionate about that issue but ill-informed about most other things, or they are not genuinely independent, but stand as such in order to be elected in an area where their party is not popular.

    I cannot agree with the premise that we should abandon political parties: those in power (real power -- with wealth and influence rather than political office) would love that -- have you forgotten "Divide and Conquer"? The Labour Party was formed out of the Labour Representation Committee: ordinary workers, powerless as individuals, coming together in groups of Trades Unions to strengthen their voices and press those with vast power over them for better conditions at work and beyond. Would you have us go back to the days when Trade Unions were illegal? There is strength in numbers and, where one has no other resource with which to build power, solidarity is very important.

    I'll stop here because I've moved from disappointed to angry. Why can't intelligent people see what is really going on in front of them????!!!!

  42. At 10:51 AM on 04 Dec 2007, Peter Rippon - PM Editor wrote:

    Good Glassbox today folks thanks. So was it the real Banksy? Our correspondent Paul Wood tells me "the interview was set up by his PR woman, who showed me round Bethlehem and his works. I suppose it could be some collosal art joke on us for her to set us up with someone else, but having spent all day with her, I'd trust her not to do that."
    The other possibility is that there is more than one Banksy, or maybe in a sense we are all Banksy. The one we did yesterday did sound very similar to the one who did an interview for PM a few years ago too.

  43. At 12:18 PM on 04 Dec 2007, Kate wrote:

    Congratulations on a 'working' blog and on the virtual glass box.

    Comments on Yvonne Murray's article on Brit paedophiles travelling abroad missed what I found the most disturbing aspect of the report.

    CEOP or SEOP's Jim Warnock reckons that raising awareness in developing countries is more important and effective than prosecuting offenders. I can't think of any other area of life in which our authorities consider that the way to reduce offending is to curtail the freedom of the potential victim instead of punishing the criminal. Sex crime seems to be the exception.

    Of course, there is a solution. Women and children should be incarcerated, so that the predators can't find any prey. Perhaps that principle should be extended. If possessions were banned, the opportunities for theft would be reduced. If speech were banned, no-one could take umbrage and be incited to violence. And so on.

    Surely the point of the criminal law is to substitute for all the costly and restrictive precautions that would be needed to foil criminal attacks? Mr Warnock seems to suggest that the burden of crime should fall on the poor victim's society and not the rich society of the offender. Does he really believe this? If so, is that the view of the Ministry that funds his organisation?

  44. At 12:46 PM on 04 Dec 2007, Vyle Hernia wrote:

    "Brown wants to make yet more laws about party funding."

    This is a response to recent events.

    I shall be interested to see what the President of Sudan now does about a dubious law in response to recent events. Nothing, I suspect.

  45. At 01:25 PM on 04 Dec 2007, Fearless Fred wrote:

    Regarding Yvonne's piece yesterday, I found it difficult listening on the drive home. Maybe there could be a follow-up piece that delves a bit more to clarify some of the points that others have alluded to above.; e.g. the conviction rates across a number of countries, the trends seen in convictions, what other countries are doing to address the problem.

    Now for party funding in politics. I would suggest there is no one ideal funding mechanism. The extremes (totally funded by donations a la USA or fully State funded as per certain older socialist/communist regimes) are both seen as open to too much abuse. In the case of the totally funded by un-capped donations route, there is a real concern that the candidates who are successful will be coerced into taking positions allied to the few people who give the most money. In the case of fully-publicly funded parties, this is usually proposed as a system where the party in the majority get more funding that the minoroty parties, generally based on a proportional system. In both scenarios, you see a stifling of debate. Any proposed system must allow for individuals to offer their support, whilst preventing any one individual from having undue influence. How this is done, I'm not sure, but any system must protect the voice of all the electorate, not just those in A) key marginals, B) More money to donate, or C) Lobbying bodies

  46. At 01:26 PM on 04 Dec 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Aperitif (41),

    Please don't be angry. I have enough anger for all of us.

    I thoroughly agree with you on 'capping', although I suspect I'd set the cap even lower than you or any party would like. Then there would be little need to have such complex rules for donations and oversight of same.

    There would also be no need for considering funding of parties from the public purse (in proportion to votes received, in arrears?) which is a recipe for entrenchment of status quo ante.

    For clarification, in referring to "their unions", I was referring to the function of political parties as the "union" representing the respective grouping of politicians, and not the "trade unions" or their political levies.

    Taking the money completely out of electoral politics would be the best possible improvement in our 'democracy'. Removing the parties themselves would be a good second step. An alternative (ironically?) would be the emergence of numerous viable parties as has happened in Scotland under its mixed fptp/pr system.

    A 'majority government', whether of a single party or a cobbled-together devil's bargain of two or more, is the most anti-democratic abomination imaginable in a so-called free society. E.G. the 'poll tax' was IMPOSED upon Scotland by a UK Tory majority upon the public of a nation which had elected only a tiny Tory minority, and in response threw even them out.

    Look to Scotland and 'minority' government for the model of the future. Issue by issue, and with the electorate fully in view. Fixed terms also seem a better idea than the chaos we have been through in the past half-year.


    Suffering alone exists, none who suffer;
    The deed there is, but no doer thereof;
    Nirvana is, but no one is seeking it;
    The Path there is, but none who travel it.
    -- "Buddhist Symbolism", Symbols and Values

  47. At 02:11 PM on 04 Dec 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:


    Further thoughts on trustworthy 'independents'. This species may well be largely restricted to the troublesome and single-issue types at present, but I reckon that's an artefact of the party system, and that their number (and variety) would increase in line with the number of smaller viable parties in a system with the big money removed.

    Tangentially, my 'constituency' MSP was elected as a Tory, and he is certainly a unionist and from a conservative (small c) background. I've met him and shared barspace and more formal spaces with him, and always felt he was his own man. I couldn't ever vote for a Tory, though - it just sticks in the craw.

    Events have intervened, and he has had to 'reluctantly' abandon his Tory loyalty to become the no-party Presiding Officer at Holyrood. If he decides he can stand another term of office in three and a half years, and stands as himself, an 'independent', I suspect he may gain an increased majority.! Time will tell.

    I also hope to see a resurgence in the 'minor' parties at Holyrood next time, following their being sort of swamped in the last go-round. My ideal would be a Parliament with no hope of any two or even three parties forming a formal 'coalition', as at present. Interesting times!


    I/O, I/O,
    It's off to disk I go,
    A bit or byte to read or write,
    I/O, I/O, I/O...

  48. At 02:48 PM on 04 Dec 2007, Aperitif wrote:

    Ed (46 & 47), When I said I was angry I didn't mean at you particularly, you know? Nevertheless, you can't have a monopoly on anger, and mine is what keeps me politically active a lot of the time.

    Apologies for misinterpreting your point about 'unions', athough I'm glad I addressed it and you resposnded to clarify, otherwise I fear there may have been others who read it the same way I did and some of them may have gone away believing it and spreading it around... and the meedja can make up enough stuff on their own wthout us helping.

    I notice that you do not address my points about solidairty and the necessity of fighting together for those who would otherwise have no source of strength or power. But then, how could you disagree?...

    Finally, your points about your local Tory MSP would seem to support mine with reagrd to the non-independence of "independents".

  49. At 03:20 PM on 04 Dec 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:


    "I cannot agree with the premise that we should abandon political parties: those in power (real power -- with wealth and influence rather than political office) would love that -- have you forgotten "Divide and Conquer"?"

    I didn't address this because I don't see how a situation of no parties or (equivalently?) a multiplicity of parties would provide a greater opportunity for those of "wealth and influence" than the present.

    It would simply mean a few more invitations to Bilderberg gatherings...I noted that today's discussion of the sale of armanents research (QinetiQ) to the Carlyle Group made no mention of its directors' provenance (The ex-presidents' Club) including one J Major,,,,,
    This 'privatisation' rip-off happened on the watch of those supposedly in 'solidarity' with working folk.

    I'd be pleased if you could clarify why you feel an absence (or a multiplicity) of parties would play even more into the hands of "Wealth and Influence" than the present situation.


    "You've got to have a gimmick if your band sucks."
    -- Gary Giddens

  50. At 10:24 AM on 05 Dec 2007, Aperitif wrote:

    Quite easily Ed -- and I think I made this clear above -- Where would those without any power come together? When strength of numbers is one's only strength then I cannot agree that it should be done away with. More respresentative and active political parties are the answer to me, not individual independents. Like I said, you didn't respond to this.

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