Paul Francis on Politics
News, views, gossip and analysis on Kent's political scene, from
County Hall to Westminster.
Welcome to my blog. As KM Group's political editor, I keep an
eye on the county's corridors of power.
Let me know what you think - you can add your comments or
views at the end of each blog entry. Or you can email me at
Follow me at http://twitter.com/PaulOnPolitics
The County Hall transparency revolution. Will it herald a new
Did KCC get its sums wrong when it closed and merged primary
schools back in 2006? A previously unpublished report reveals the
authority now wonders whether it did indeed go too far.
Plus: Medway and KCC have a bit of a falling
out and some news on all that KCC cash stuck in Iceland
While Tony Blair has no regrets over the Iraq war, he
certainly does over the Freedom of Information Act. But he's got it
A slow start in Kent for Michael Gove's academy revolution and
Labour leader contenders dip a cautious toe into that old chestnut
- what to do about grammar schools.
I had a twinge of sympathy for the Kent MP and sports minister
Hugh Robertson today. After all, even politicians deserve a
We all know the previous government's Building Schools for The
Future programme was costly and bureaucratic. Now we know what the
potential costs of scrapping schemes might be for Kent County
Oysters and foie gras at the taxpayers' expense. But will the
taxpayers' swallow Kent County Council's explanation?
Boris stirs up more debate about his off-shore aiport plan,
saying it's time for some vision. So, is he right?
Why the public might be more absorbed by an election for a
police commissioner for Kent than some think. And who might run for
Plus: Wagons roll on push to bring back axed rail services from
Want to petition Kent County Council and force it to organise a
meeting saying what it intends to do? Get started - you'll need
Plus: How full council questions get exploited
Even by normal standards, today's meeting of KCC's cabinet
scrutiny committee was a fairly dull affair. But it did allow KCC's
new highways chief to shine.
What would happen to KCC if most of its schools became
academies? The conundrum facing County Hall.
Ringway not shortlisted for Kent's highways contract and the
great transparency in the public sector virility contest. Oh
and why KCC could be boldly going where it's never been
He's certainly contrite but has the Rochester and Strood MP Mark
Reckless managed to draw a line under his unfortunate episode at
Westminster where he drunk too much?
And are teleporters coming to County Hall?
Do councillors get an unjustifiably hard time over their
allowances? And the "political impact" of sparing and putting
on hold transport schemes to save £4.1million
Needlessly complex, overly bureaucratic and wasteful of public
money. All true but will parents really be ready to accept
that their childs's school won't now be redeveloped or rebuilt
because the government has wielded the axe quite so savagely?
The axe is swinging but KCC says this year's budget cuts can be
managed without severe pain. And why the government's academy plans
are giving County Hall's number crunchers a headache
Not for the first time, KCC is on the back foot over a huge
six-figure payout for a former director. But is there another story
Why uncertainties over school rebuilding plans could have
consequences for that thorny issue in Kent - admissions. And how
KCC could face even bigger cutbacks next year. And the year
The age of austerity comes to Kent. But where will the axe fall?
And the Iceland money latest
Why KCC is taking flak over recruitment of primary schools'
advisers and how a Kent MP managed to get golf balls into the first
session of Prime Ministers' Questions
There's been a lot of sympathy for David Laws who quit his job
as chief secretary to the Treasury at the weekend. Is it deserved
Plus: New KCC chief executive in steps towards greater
transparency...but not in Kent (yet)
County Hall feels the coalition pinch as George wields the
pruning shears. Plus, two former KCC big names fall foul of the
government's quango cull.
More money, more freedom and more control over admissions.
What’s not to like – if you are a school keen to break free from
the shackles of your local council – about Michael
Gove’s plan to radically expand the number of
Kent's new boys and girls took their seats on the green leather
benches of Westminster today as they were officially sworn in. But
did they sit or stand?
How KCC intends to put itself at the forefront of steps towards
being more open and transparent. (No, it's not April 1)
Stability and stable government is the order of the day as the
Clegg and Cameron show knocks them dead in the Downing Street
garden. But what do our MPs really think?
Politicians doing deals in smoke-fillled rooms? Charges of
duplicity, double-standards, treachery and the behaviour of a
harlot? Surely not....
David Cameron spent much of the election campaign telling voters
that if they voted Brown, they'd get Clegg. Now it seems that if
they voted Cameron, they might get...Clegg.
Plus: The future for Labour in Kent
One day to go to the polling stations open and time for some
crystal ball gazing...
Why expenses and cleaning up politics matters and who really won
the leaders' debates? Oh, and is Blair riding into Kent to rescue
Gordon's 'bigoted' gaffe and the perils of unguarded comments on
the campaign trail
Remember Oliver Letwin in the general election campaign of 2001?
he suddenly was disappeared from the frontline of the battle after
an inadvertent faux pas embarrassed the Conservative party and its
promise on tax cuts. I suspect a similar fate may befall KCC leader
Cllr Paul Carter
It was probably not the best moment of the Conservative campaign
so far and in expressing misgivings over his party's policy on free
schools, KCC leader Cllr Paul Carter has rather given Labour a
neatly-wrapped gift. But you can't deny that Cllr Carter has raised
an undeniably valid concern about what the impact of free schools
might be for councils
Clegg gets a media mauling; Hague gets mixed up with Jonathan
Shaw and how the taxpayer has bailed out a Thanet investment
company to the tune of £190,000
So, what difference might Cleggmania make to the outcome of the
election in Kent? And what law would you like the new government to
It's no surprise to hear all the parties are claiming victory in
last night's televised leaders' debate but amid the spinning,
everyone seems to concede that it was Nick Clegg who acquitted
You don't get many politicians admitting they have no idea what
their particular policy stance is on certain issues but UKIP's Lord
Pearson proved refreshingly candid on a visit to Kent today
Remember the 1970s TV sitcom "Citizen Smith"? It's anti-hero
"Wolfie" Smith had a popular slogan that seems to have been
appropriated by the Conservatives.
Away from the general election, is there life after Kent TV? Not
exactly a sequel but a digital spin-off is in the offing -
albeit a less costly one.
Kent Conservative candidates in pledge to fight clean campaign;
Gordon's lilac time - or tie - and more juvenile antics at
We're off! At least we should be if Gordon does what everyone
expects and heads up to the Windsors' London residence....
Want to know how £2.4bn of your money is spent
each year in more detail? So do County Hall's opposition Lib Dem
group. So why was their debate on the idea of
publishing monthly expenditure statements guillotined?
Never mind the search for the new Dorothy, who won out in the
search for a new Darling - or the quest by the incumbent Chancellor
to stay in his leading role?
As Cameron returns to Kent for the second time in barely a week,
how - or can - the politicians keep us interested
until May 6 without inducing voter apathy ?
George Osborne is keen on it. The Mayor of London is already
doing it. Now the question is whether KCC can be persuaded to do
it. What exactly? read on...
An uncharacteristic silence from politicians at County Hall and
how one Conserative council is leading the way in publishing top
officers' salaries. Sadly, it's not in Kent.
Why County Hall Conservatives are cooling on school academies
and is see-through Government coming to KCC?
Does it really matter whether "Dave" is a good but messy cook or
that Gordon makes a lot of noise and gets up too early?
I can understand why there may be a degree of nervousness
in the Conservative ranks in Kent, especially after a Times poll
saw the poll gap narrowing still further in the marginals.
Plus: Cameron ups the ante on "fat cat"
public sector salaries
The price of school advisers and the costs of Operation Stack
Kent Labour MPs have not had much to be cheerful about recently
but with the national opinion polls narrowing, can they afford to
be more optimistic. One of them certainly is.
Plus: Why the Turner Centre led KCC to Austria
For an authority the size of Kent, the job of processing some
17,500 applications for secondary school places must be a tall
order. And it seems to have managed things quite well.
There appears to be some nervousness among certain Kent councils
over government plans to force them to disclose more details about
the pay and perks of their most senior officers.
It's generated huge media interest and a slew of claims and
counter-claims. But is the Downing Street bullying row having much
impact beyond the Westminster village?
Plus: KCC's "poster boy" revealed and the Iceland saga
ANN Widdecombe is keeping her counsel over
whether to continue as a patron of the bullying charity now at the
centre of a storm in the media over Downing Street bullying
allegations. But I suspect she will soon be detaching herself.
YOU don’t get a lot of drama at council budget meetings - and
rarely much great oratory - and today’s at County Hall was no
exception as KCC set its annual council tax rise and spending plans
for the year.
It looks like Kent County Council has not been as successful as
it hoped in trying to persuade the Government to refund it some
£4million it says it is owed to meet the costs of looking after
asylum seekers. The result? Higher council tax bills.
Plus: How BoJo's airport island plan is coming under
scrutiny and a look at Swedish models (no, not that
IT cannot have been an easy decision but in scrapping its
internet TV station Kent TV, the county council
has shown that it will not shy away from tough decisions as it
confronts the challenge of a squeeze on its finances.
LIKE most parts of the public sector, Kent Police is feeling the
pinch as it strives to square the circle of maintaining services at
current levels with less money. So, where do "Lean techniques" fit
Plus: KCC leaks inquiry underway at County Hall
DOES out-going KCC chief executive Peter Gilroy
deserve the £200,000 windfall payment he stands to
collect on the day that he leaves his job in a couple of months?
KCC certainly thinks so but what will be the verdict in the court
of public opinion?
It's been a long-ish while coming but a decision on whether Kent
County Council is to continue with its internet TV channel Kent TV
will be made in the next week or so. But what will we know about
Plus: Why free care might come at a cost to KCC
An aspirational wish-list which will gather
dust or a vision grounded in reality that will change the landscape
of Kent over the next 30 years? And does anyone know who will pay
for all its goodies? Some thoughts on "21st Century Kent" KCC's
grand 30-year-plan .
Plus: Why was Maidstone overlooked?
County Hall Tories have been taking advice about using new
technology to help during the forthcoming general election
campaign. But will they follow it?
And just how should councils deal with Freedom of Information
HAVE Conservative backbench county councillors been nobbled and
told not to ask any awkward questions about KCC’s budget and its
planned council tax increase - 1.86 per cent or 2.57 per cent if
asylum money owed doesn't come through?
The widespread disruption caused by the prolonged wintry weather
has claimed another casualty - a decision by KCC on whether to
continue with its controversial internet TV channel Kent TV.
Plus: More on the Kent grammar schools wrangle over places.
IT was hailed as a "commonsense" solution that would do much to
assuage anxious parents worried about whether they could get a
place at over-subscribed grammar schools in west Kent. But is it
running into problems already?
What’s the difference between a chief executive and a group
managing director? In the case of Kent County Council, it could be
a small matter of some £55,000.
Plus: Row over councillors and a certain Swedish model...
THEY are two Conservative big beasts and they don’t appear to be
getting on terribly well, judging by letters exchanged between
KCC leader Paul Carter and Mayor of London
Boris Johnson. No wonder - they are at odds over Boris'
plans for a £40billion airport in the Thames.
Plus: Why KCC has been ordered to release
details of Operation Stack lorry park sites
Are secondary school academies all they are cracked up to be?
It's a question a lot of people have asked of the Government's
flagship education policy and now the leader of Kent County Council
- which has enthusiastically embraced the concept - has expressed
KENT County Council has already admitted that
it did not do as good a job on treating pavements and footways
during the current cold snap as it perhaps should have done.
But what precisely were its
Plus: How Facebook group is putting pressure on
KCC and more on chief officers' salaries and remuneration
THERE’S a fair amount of unsuppressed seething among
Kent’s Labour MPs at Geoff Hoon and Patricia
Hewitt intervention today calling for a secret ballot on Gordon
Plus: Omens for Kent TV and KCC to spend less on
January 5 2010
IT was a rather an odd press conference at County Hall today
where the ruling Conservative administration laid out its
spending plans for the year.
Odd because in some ways it was all very dull
– other than a bit of sabre rattling over asylum money, which I
will come to.
The blog is taking a short break over Xmas but will be back
early in the New Year. Happy Christmas to all readers and fellow
Oh, and here are the answers to
yesterday's quotes of the year quiz.
How well do you know Kent politics? Are you an assiduous
follower of the county's political scene and its key movers and
shakers? Why not test your knowledge in our special "quotes of the
Go on - you
know it makes sense>>
WHETHER you consider it money well spent or not probably depends
on whether you consider it a priority at a time when we are about
to see a fairly painful squeeze on public sector spending.
But KCC has a new website - and it has cost £277,000 so
IT’S not exactly what KCC would have wanted to hear just before
Christmas.The administrators of the Icelandic bank
Glitnir are querying the priority status of UK
councils. And if they decide they are not entitled to that status,
there could be potentially far-reaching implications.
RATHER like the cat that got the cream, Kent County
Council has been rather pleased with itself this week
after being rated again as one of the country’s best-performing
It has every right to be celebrating the news
but has it got rather over-excited?
THERE may be a touch of hyperbole in the comment from KCC
leader Paul Carter that “it is a great day for
Kent and its residents.”
But there’s no denying that the county has
fared particularly well in a new initiative designed to give people
an indication of their “quality of life” based on how well public
services are performing.
But how easy is it to access all this data on the Government's
Plus: The public sector pay crackdown virility contest
IT’S been a while – well getting on three months – since
KCC chief executive Peter Gilroy announced he would be
leaving the job next May.
But as yet, there has been no official
news about any plans to replace him. But the wheels are slowly in
motion - we think.
Here’s a teaser. Why would it be good for KCC
if it took longer to recoup some of the £47million stuck in
Plus: Why one councillor thinks KCC should be taking more risks
and what has happened to Kent's ambition for a leading
"fuel-from-food crops" centre?
Some people would probably consider it a relief to be asked to
leave a meeting of a council committee called the
Governance and Audit Trading Activities Sub
SO, where is KCC in its efforts to recoup the £50million it had
tied up in Icelandic banks?A little has come back -
£3million – and we gather another £2million, give
or take a few pounds – is due about now.
Plus: Just where are KCC's "thought cafes"?
AS re-organisations go, KCC’s efforts to complete a shake-up of
its highways department must be one of the longest on record having
been going on since 2006. Now it has suffered another setback.
WHEN auditors gave Kent County Council
a clean bill of health over its commercial
trading activities and concluded that it was not competing unfairly
against businesses through its various companies, a number of
recommendations were made.
IT seems Kent TV did not have the X-Factor when
it came to the battle to secure a coveted award EU award that it
had been shortlisted for.
But will it have any bearing on the decision whether to continue
with the initiative?
Plus: How Ten Alps is bidding for new TV work and how
one authority has abandoned plans for its own £300,000
Partnership bills itself as "is the countywide local
strategic partnership made up of representatives from the private,
public, voluntary and community sectors."
And believe me, it’s a big partnership
– as I saw this week when some 200 delegates crammed into a rather
warm room in Maidstone.
Plus: Labour MPs gang up on Kent TV
SO, what did those 36 people lucky enough to be consulted about
what they thought of Kent TV actually have to say for
I wish I could tell you but sadly I
can't because of something called a "safe haven."
Plus: Kent and Inner Mongolia - what's
the link? And is KCC edging away from lorry park plan?
KCC leader Paul Carter was refreshingly – and
intriguingly - candid about his feelings about Kent TV when he addressed
a backbench committee on Friday.
It struck me as quite clear that the ruling Conservative
administration is genuinely undecided about whether to continue
with the scheme after next March.
I’ve often heard people complain that Gordon
Brown is rather robotic and lacks the kind of charisma and
charm that Tony Blair was able to turn on like a tap.
I’ve also heard it said that when you meet him
in person and when he engages with the public in more intimate
surroundings, he’s the opposite.
In the context of its £1.5billion budget, KCC’s warning that it
is facing a £200million shortfall in its finances over three years
may not seem much.
But when is a cut not a cut? And will it all mean zero increase
on your council tax bills?
Plus: Is KCC's Operation Stack lorry park hitting the
RUMOURS are gathering that KCC is facing what
is diplomatically being termed a “challenging” budget next year and
I hear that in order to balance the books, some fairly radical but
necessarily painful pruning is in the offing.
Unless I’ve missed something, Kent County
Council seems to have been rather modest about the
possibility that Kent TV, its controversial
internet TV station, is up for an award.
It's bite the bullet time for MPs who appear, on the whole, to
be resigned to the fact that proposals to tighten up on their
expenses and allowances will have to be accepted pretty much in
their entirety. Will it clean up the House?
HAS County Hall found a solution to the problem of having too
few grammar school places compared to the numbers who want
And if it has, who will be the winners and losers?
IT is not only parents awaiting 11-plus results who may have
been a touch anxious this week.I imagine there may have been a few
furrowed brows at County Hall as officers and politicians pour
over a letter from the Audit Commission,
delivering its verdict on the council’s performance.
I must admit to harbouring some reservations about whether Kent
County Council would ever see any of the money it had spent on the
first version of the Turner Centre, sunk after costs spiralled out
Plus: What will stop Boris Island?
HOW likely is it that Kent County Council will continue with its
controversial internet TV station Kent TV?
And what does the Campaign for Real Ale have to do with it
Why are our politicians ignoring the Court of Public Opinion?
Just when you think the expenses scandal can't reach new depths, it
does. So why are MPs digging their heels in over Sir Thomas
Plus: KCC returns to the money markets but won't be going
IT can’t be much fun being an MP.
But I’ve not got that much sympathy for them
over the expenses scandal that just never seems to go away, even if
good ones are tarnished by the antics of the minority of
unscrupulous ones who have exploited the system
THERE is always something unsettling about the word 'review'.
And I suspect there may be something unsettling about Kent County
Council’s review of its children’s centres programme,
Plus: Why politicians need to come clean
about Ashford's shared space
COULD George Osborne decide how much Kent
County Council’s next chief executive should be paid? It is
probably unlikely given that the general election won’t be until
May and any appointment to the top job at County Hall will be made
PLUS: The Guardian on Kent's National Challenge schools and the
Tory plan to halt expansion of speed cameras....
For all his undoubtedly entertaining and outspoken comments
and YouTube success, is the Kent Conservative MEP
Daniel Hannan really the tenth most influential
right winger in the country? A maverick, certainly and a very
bright one too.
What has happened to the millions of pounds that Kent councils
deposited in Icelandic banks? One year on, the answer: not much -
at least in terms of the money that has been recovered.
Does it matter that The Sun has decided to back
the Conservatives at the next election? It's undoubtedly stirred up
a lot of discussion and Gordon Brown has been a touch tetchy about
Was Andrew Marr right to quiz Gordon
Brown over rumours that he was taking anti-depressants or
had more problems with his sight? (As opposed to his political
And will Balls head down to Kent to speak to Carter?
There's no concealing the fury at County Hall over a decision by
Ed Balls, the education secretary, to tell KCC it was sending in
"expert advisers" to lift classroom standards at its
poorly-performing secondary schools.
Exactly how has Kent County Council managed through Kent
TV to make publicity savings of £1million this year? At
last, some details about where the squeeze has been made have been
It was standing room only at an event at County Hall today to
mark the news that Kent is to be used as a pre-Olympics base by
Judo players from Ukraine and Belarus.
It's a good job. What ambitious local government careerist with
an eye on rising up the public sector ladder wouldn't be interested
in taking charge of the country's largest county council? And of
course there's the prospect of a six-figure salary, too.
The news that Peter Gilory is to leave his post as chief
executive of Kent County Council next May has somewhat inevitably
triggered a fair degree of speculation - of the usual "was he
pushed, did he jump" variety.
Peter Gilroy has announced that he is to leave Kent
County Council as its chief executive next May
Read our story here
After a decidedly uneventful cabinet meeting held down in
Dover earlier this week, my heart wasn't exactly racing at the
prospect of covering today's Governance and Audit
committee at County Hall. But guess what? It was strangely
There's been a lengthy-ish hiatus in county council business
over the summer but the "new term" got underway yesterday when
the Conservative cabinet headed to Dover for what is commonly
called an away-day on a specially commissioned Kent
Top Travel bus.
Election nights are long, drawn out affairs when nothing at all
happens for long periods. They can prove exhausting as results
dribble in slowly and you still aren't sure who has won by dawn.
So, should we change the timing of the count to the day?
I see that the Government's plans to require councils to be more
open and transparent about the pay and perks enjoyed by their most
senior staff could be under threat - or at least risk being
Like many, I'm ambivalent about the merits of the
Government's school academy programme. Why should a school
sponsored by say, a football club or car dealer, offer an enhanced
education than any other school?
Can Nigel Farage really unseat John
Bercow? And KCC members' interests
It's a typically eye-catching and bravura political stunt. But
can UKIP leader and Kent MEP Nigel Farage really have grounds to
believe that he can overturn the 18,000-plus majority of John
Bercow, the Speaker of the House of Commons?
KCC's meeting refreshment bill and Kent
TV needs reform, says one of its governors
I've been to enough council meetings to know that those that
suspect councillors are lavished with tables groaning with
refreshments and copious amounts of drink are pretty wide of the
Political blog, September 2:
KCC in clear over business activities
and is there a painless way to scrap grammar schools?
There will be some relief at County Hall that a probe by
auditors into its commercial enterprises has pretty much cleared
the council of any wrong-doing, as our
business editor Trevor Sturgess reports.
Political blog, September 2
The no-frills low cost approach to local
Can there be such a thing as "no frills" council services?
And if there can, will it happen in Kent?
blog, August 26
Council pay-offs under scrutiny and a
trip to Medway
I see the Government is stepping up its offensive on aspects of
public sector pay with an
announcement that it wants the Audit Commission to
examine pay-offs made to council chief executives who leave one
position with a handsome "golden goodbye" only to crop up in
another top position months later.
Political blog, August 25
Should we have fewer councillors? And
which politician would you like on your GPS?
Have we got too many councillors in Kent? A few years ago, the
then Labour secretary of state David Miliband singled out Kent as
an area where there could be a case for reducing the number of
Political blog, August 24:
Sun, sea and the Ashes
I've been away on leave for a week, enjoying the sun, swimming
in the sea off the Sussex coast, scuffing my feet on rocks and
shells, pretending I can surf (I can't) and tuning into Test Match
blog, August 14
MEP puts Cameron on defensive over NHS
and Labour in limbo over Kent candidates
I don't imagine that David Cameron is terribly
pleased with Dan Hannan, the Conservative MEP who
has waded into the debate in America over health reforms by saying
that he wouldn't wish the NHS on any country.
Political blog, August 13
Will local government in Kent end
Is the Government preparing to resume the debate over
whether Kent should be split into unitary authorities, ending the
historic "two-tier" set up of counties and districts?
Political blog, August 11:
End of debate on Kent TV? Not quite. And
why an Ashford councillor escaped censure after race row
I was on holiday when county councillors held yet another
meeting to pour over the messy entrails of the decision to
extend the contract for Kent TV for another seven months so missed
all the excitement.
Political blog, July 31
Kent TV (again) and KCC gets a
refund from Iceland
It's got more twists and turns than your average Ashes series
but the saga of Kent TV and the decision by KCC to award it a
seven-month contract extension continues.
Political blog, July 27:
Summer's here..and so are the style
It's a tough life being a politician. Even when you're about to
get away on holiday, you can't escape the attention of the
Political blog, July 23:
Another plot twist to Kent TV
It's probably fair to say that KCC leader Paul
Carter was not best pleased by the discussion that took
place about the Kent TV
contract at the council's all-party scrutiny committee
earlier this week.
Councillors' concerns over Kent TV
The way in which KCC agrees contract extensions might not
wet the appetite of even seasoned local government watchers. But
the contract for Kent TV is rarely away from controversy.
Political blog, July 17:
Is Op Stack lorry park stuck in slow
lane and Government rapped over Freedom of
How far away is Kent County Council from
succeeding in its efforts to build a lorry park off the M20 to cope
with the problems caused when Operation Stack is
blog, July 15
Council agenda summer blockbuster - 378
pages and 27 items
I don't imagine it'll top the best-seller summer reading chart
but KCC has produced a weighty tome that must rank it as one of its
largest council agendas we've ever seen. But will it be good for
blog, July 13
All quiet at Cabinet - and where were
It was pretty quiet at today's meeting of KCC's re-shaped
Conservative cabinet, the first since the party swept to victory on
June 4. But where was everyone else?
blog, July 9
How the decision about Kent TV's
extension was reached
Regardless of whether you think Kent TV is
a good thing or a bad thing, Kent County Council has not always
been deft in its handling of the controversial scheme.
Political blog, July 7:
Why party leaders love quangos
Politicians love quangos. They love them because whenever they
want to show their determination to curb public spending, quangos
are a favoured whipping boy.
Political blog, July 6:
Turner legal tussle and Kent TV gets six
months contract extension
I am not surprised that the protracted legal wrangle
involving KCC and the architects responsible
for the original Turner Centre in Margate has not been
blog, June 26:
KCC allowances - fair and modest or
Fair, modest and sensible or insensitive and outrageous?
For the councillors gathered at County Hall to decide whether to
award themselves an eight per cent "pay" hike, it largely depended
on what side of the political fence you sat.
blog, June 23:
All over for Ann and which Kent MP
claimed for a lumbar roll?
Even by the standards of the House of Commons, today's trashing
of the newly-elected Speaker John Bercow in some
newspapers and by some of his Coinservative colleagues - sotto
voce, of course - strikes me as just a little over the top.
LIVE BLOG ON THE SPEAKER'S
CLICK HERE FOR UPDATES ON HOW
ANN WIDDECOMBE IS FARING
Political blog, June 22:
Can Widdy Win
It's a big day for Ann Widdecombe who could
round off her political career by becoming the next Speaker of the
House of Commons. With such a crowded field and all sorts of
manouvering going on behind the scenes, the result is very hard to
blog, June 18:
MPs expenses out - sort of and more KCC
Today was supposed to be the day that you and I could, for the
first time, go through our MPs' expenses claims and discover just
how our elected politicians had been using public money.
MPs chilly over spending watchdog
in Icelandic saga and Ann's "vulgar attributes"
There's been little love lost between Kent County
Council and the Audit Commission over the
former's £50million deposits with Icelandic banks. Now KCC may feel
a little vindicated over its criticism of the public spending
Political Blog, June 11
Can Widdy win the Speaker's
I can't imagine that Ann
Widdecombe has entered the race for the job of Speaker
without calculating that she has a chance of replacing Michael
Martin, albeit in an interim role.
Political Blog, June 10
Old faces back on Tory frontbench at
There will be some new faces around the cabinet table at County
Hall. But it is the ones who are returning to the Conservative
front bench that have proved the most eye-catching features
Election aftermath and who will be at
the top table at County Hall?
Up-dated at 4pm. I gather that a cabinet
reshuffle at County Hall is being planned with the
possibility of some new faces in the top team. Who is waiting
anxiously for a phone call?
Political Blog. June 7:
Waiting for European election
00.09: 00.09: The BBC is
reporting there is a computer failure at the count for the South
East region. Could be a late night...
Results from Medway for the Euro vote are in: Con: 18,502; UKIP
- 12,841; Labour - 8,745; Lib Dem - 5,460; BNP - 4,761; Green -
So, a pretty catastophic result for Labour there.
Political Blog, June 5:
Conservatives retain control of KCC - blue-wash on the
cards. Labour opposition leader Mike Eddy ousted from deal
division; Deputy opposition labour leader Derek Smyth loses his
Ashford South seat.
No doubt about it: this is a disastrous election for
Labour which has been reduced to a party of two from 20 seats
it was defending and has seen some huge swings against it in
some parts of the county - as much as 25 per cent in some
Political blog, June 4
As voters head for polls, will Gordon
head for the exit door?
I'll be covering the results of KCC election as they come in
tomorrow (Friday) both on the blog and on kent
Political blog, June 3
£109,000: How much Met Police probe into
Green affair cost you
Hard to think exactly how much worse it could get
for Gordon Brown but the announcement from Hazel
Blears, the Communities Secretary, that she too is
quitting is another grim bit of news.
blog, June 2
Smith goes as the good ship Brown
It may be stretching it to suggest that the Labour government is
disintegrating before our very eyes but it is hard to avoid the
sense that an awful lot of rats are preparing to disembark from a
rapidly sinking ship and that while Gordon Brown might still be at
the helm but is listing horribly in politics' choppy waters.
Political blog, June 1
Howard and Prosser: Hard done by or
Both Michael Howard and the Dover MP
Gwyn Prosser have joined the ranks of MPs who have come
under the spotlight over their allowances claims in today's
Daily Telegraph. But have they been hard
Political blog, May 29
At last! We see a Kent MP's detailed
I've been puzzled why Kent MPs have not moved more quickly to
publish all the detailed receipts and bills associated with their
expenses claims. But at last, one has seized the moment and got
around to letting the public know exactly where their money has
Political blog, May 27
Text alerts on Parliamentary Bills? No
I am not entirely sure that text alerts on the progress of
Parliamentary Bills is exactly what is needed to re-invigorate
democracy and restore power to the people.
Political blog, May 19
KCC allowances published before
Kent County Council can sometimes be an
over-secretive authority which does not always enjoy a good
reputation for openness.
But it deserves a small cheer for its decision to bring forward
the publication of the allowances claimed by its 84 members so
people can see how much has been claimed by individuals and in
total before polling day on June 4.
Political blog, May 19
ANN Widdecombe - the people's choice as
Speaker Michael Martin quits - is
Ann the people's choice?
No sooner had Michael Martin said he was to quit than
speculation started that the Maidstone MP Ann
Widdecombe could be prepared to step in as an "interim" Speaker
until the next election.
Political blog, May 15:
It was no surprise to witness the
audience's hostility to the panel on BBC Question
TIme last night - the politicians probably should have
gone on with protective bullet proof vests, given the lynch-mob
atmosphere and were probably expecting it.
blog, May 13:
As the outcry over MPs' allowances
continues, an obvious question arises for those interested in the
forthcoming Kent County Council election.
Political blog, May 12:
I'm told by one Kent MP today that it is now increasingly likely
that the gory - or entirely innocuous - details of all MPs'
allowances will be published sooner rather than later.
Political blog, May 11:
I haven't met or talked to many people who aren't outraged by
the revelations in the Daily Telegraph about how some of our MPs
have claimed allowances.
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