Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Tories Lose EU Vote In House Of Commons

David Cameron's Tory/LibDem Government have lost a vote on the EU Budget.By 307-294 votes in the House Of Commons.Government loses by 13 votes.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Time For A Border Poll

Declan Kearney the Sinn Fein Chairman has called for a border poll. He has joined the Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams in calling for the poll. The Secretary Of State for Northern Ireland can call a border poll at anytime under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement of April 1998. Interesting times ahead.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Global Gender Gap Survey

A new survey by The World Economic Forum shows Ireland coming fifth in gender equality. The World Economic Forum is an independent international organization committed to improving the state of the world by engaging business, political, academic and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas. Ireland ranks fifth after Finland, Norway, and Sweden, and also Iceland. Britain is ranked 18th and the U.S. at 22nd.

Ireland ranks highly politically, having had a female head of state 21 out of the last 50 years serving as president.

Irish women earn 75 per cent of what their male counterparts do which is far higher than most countries.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

David Cameron Withheld Emails From Leveson Inquiry

Private emails between David Cameron and the former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks have been withheld from the Leveson Inquiry after the Prime Minister sought personal legal advice.

The pile of documents, which runs to dozens of emails and is also thought to include messages sent to Andrew Coulson while he was still working for Rupert Murdoch was not disclosed after No 10 was advised by a Government lawyer that it was not “relevant” to the inquiry into press standards.
The contents of the private emails are described by sources as containing “embarrassing” exchanges. They hold the potential to cast further light on the close personal relationship between the Prime Minister and two of the media mogul’s most senior lieutenants.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Ian Paisley Junior Attacks Andrew Marr

A United Ireland Is Inevitable

A United Ireland is inevitable according to Taoiseach Enda Kenny. Mr Kenny told a investment forum in Cleveland that it would happen one day. Enda Kenny accurately stated the fundamental GFA principle that a United Ireland is potentially possible in the future. Of course political dinosaurs like Gregory Campbell are making there usual noises at this. Of course the DUP may need this as a distraction from Belfast getting its first abortion clinic and the Westminister Parliament being on the verge of making Gay Marriage legal in Northern Ireland.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

The Alliance Party And The Union Flag

Belfast City Council will decide in coming weeks how many days a year the Union flag will fly above City Hall. Unionist politicans want it to fly for 365 days a year. Nationalist Politicians want it to fly on only special days. This leaves the Alliance party in the difficult position on which side to come down on. The Alliance Party hold the balance of power on Belfast City Council and it will interesting to see what way the cookie crumbles.

Friday, 12 October 2012

The Fighting Irish

Joe Biden won tonights only vice-presidential debate. Congressman Paul Ryan didn't stand a chance against the old senate slugger. Young rookie Paul Ryan was found out tonight. I hope President Barack Obama was watching and learning tonight. I can't wait for the Romney/Obama rematch.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Corporation Tax Obsession

Ed Balls the Shadow Chancellor is on a two day visit to the North of Ireland. He has said that people in the North are obsessed with the possibility of devolution of Corporation Tax to the Assembly. He believes that there are far more pressing economic issues. Such as spending more money on construction projects and banking reforms.

Referendum Coming

The referendum on Scottish Independence is to take place in 2014.And Sixteen and Seventeen year olds will get the vote for the first time.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Scottish Tory Leader Says Nine Out Of Ten Scots Take More In Benefits Than They Pay In Tax

Ruth Davidson told the Tory Party conference “A year ago in Manchester, I came to conference as a newly-elected MSP, taking part in what became one of the most keenly-followed leadership election campaigns of recent years. Today, I come as the first leader of a reformed Scottish Conservative Party, one now fitter than ever for the challenges which lie ahead. In that year, so much has changed. Europe has changed, Britain has changed, Scotland has changed and the Scottish Conservatives have had to change too. At times it has been challenging, and there are more obstacles still to overcome, but overcome them we will. We must complete the transformation into a modern political force with the best interests of Scotland at its heart, but one which benefits from the strength of being part of a national movement. That’s why the programme of party reform I have embarked upon, reshaping the Scottish Conservatives – not from the top down, but from the bottom up - is so important. Because for far too long we have been talking to ourselves, we need to talk about our Conservative Values to the country – and, more importantly to listen. And it’s because we’ve listened we’ve made policies like more flexible childcare a priority, demanded fairer planning restrictions on windfarms and set up an independent rural commission to make sure we can fight for the whole country, not just the cities and suburbs. Scotland needs a strong Conservative party. So many Scottish communities are living with the effects of our opponents’ ideologically-driven vandalism which stretches back decades. Take Glasgow - Never mind the Science Centre or the Armadillo, go to Germiston, Springburn or Barmulloch and tell me Labour has looked after those who have dutifully lent their support over the decades. Yet Labour and the SNP still blame the Conservative Party for the problems they have created – and are continuing to create. They must start facing up to their responsibilities and it is our job not only to make sure they do, but to show there is another way beyond their depressingly limited view that the government must provide the solution to everything. Only the Scottish Conservatives genuinely believe that removing the restraint of government diktat is the best way to build strong communities and of lifting disempowered people out of the depression of dependency which has held back our country for so many years. And don’t let anyone tell you that the SNP is anything other than a centralising, big-state old Labour machine with a tartan trim waving a government-funded saltire. So little moves in Scotland without Government approval and anyone who dares challenge the status quo is deemed an enemy of the state. Maybe it’s because we stand up against the political establishment that some Scottish commentators have been indecently keen to write us off. But the rotten system of patronage which denies so many people real choices in their lives has created a corrosive sense of entitlement which suits its political gangmasters. It is staggering that public sector expenditure makes up a full 50% of Scotland’s GDP and only 12% of households are net contributors, where the taxes they pay outweigh the benefits they receive through public spending. Only 12% are responsible for generating Scotland’s wealth. There are people with household incomes of £50,000 who are paying thousands – indeed- tens of thousands of pounds in taxation, and even that doesn’t cover the amount of money government spends in their name. This isn’t about their contribution not being enough - their contribution is huge. It’s about the state spending too much and the SNP Government refusing to have an honest debate about where that money goes. It’s not just staggering, it’s frightening. We need to expand our private sector, not just to build prosperity but to increase opportunity. We need to encourage our entrepreneurs, reward those hiring more staff, hang out a big sign saying ‘Scotland’s open for business’. Instead, what do we have? A Scottish Government who’ve hammered business with £100million pounds of Scotland-only taxes. If the gangmaster state is the only provider people can see for their housing, education and employment, it’s no surprise those who seek to break the stranglehold find barriers in their way. And now we hear, the liberating right-to-buy policy which, thanks to the Conservatives, gave thousands of families real independence for the first time, is to stop. And who will that blanket ban benefit? Not those who strive to get on the housing ladder, nor the young couple wanting to know as their children grow up, they have more security and can offer more help and opportunity because of the commitments they’ve made. These are just some of the reasons a strong voice for the centre-right has never been so badly needed in Scotland as it is now. It’s not just about votes, it’s about making sure the left-wing consensus is subjected to the most forensic scrutiny - otherwise Scotland could end up making North Korea look like a beacon of free enterprise. And just before anyone thinks that’s an exaggeration, only today the SNP have asked me to apologise for the crime of using facts to support an argument. Facts supplied by the Scottish Parliament’s own information service, and based on the Scottish Government’s own figures. Welcome to Pyongyang. We must stand up with confidence for what we believe. Because no-one will believe in us if we don’t believe in ourselves. The time for sack-cloth and ashes is over. On the constitution and the economy, Scotland faces two big decisions and we need to make our voice heard loud and clear. I welcome Johann Lamont’s late arrival onto the ground we’re already occupying. While she was taking part in that disgraceful dutch auction before the 2011 election - as Labour and the SNP vied to see who could promise the most freebies that Scotland couldn’t afford – we were the party saying the council tax freeze couldn’t last forever, saying free prescriptions took money away from vital health services and that our universities would suffer unless graduates helped contribute to the cost of their degrees. It is simply wrong to fritter away tax-payers’ hard-earned cash on throwing electoral bribes at people who didn’t ask for them. Right-thinking people have long argued they were quite happy to pay for their aspirins if it meant vital cancer drugs could be made available for the chronically ill. And look at Scotland’s universities. With every spending decision skewed in order to cover up long term funding failures, all but one of our leading institutions are now tumbling down the world league tables. That means the international students upon whom Scottish universities now depend for so much of their funds are more likely to look elsewhere. What about Scotland’s schools? After years of SNP and Labour mismanagement, one child in every five goes to high school unable to read or write properly. What chance have they got? And with every family in Scotland currently paying £700 a year just to repay the interest on the debts run up by the last UK Labour government, I thought I’d see Ed Milliband growing up and coming to the same belated conclusion of his Scottish leader. Last week I was expecting a Mea Culpa…. Instead we got ‘me and my family tree.’ Well let me tell him – Scotland doesn’t want patronised by a champagne socialist in a million pound mansion, growing up with a bourgeois salon for Marxist intellectuals in the front room, telling people that he’s just like them because – hey- he went to a comprehensive. Well I can tell you, Primrose hill and Haverstock are a long way from Buckhaven High. Scotland’s grafters, those people that put in a shift to build a future for their family, they see you as nothing like them, Ed. They see the boy who made a mess and ran away and now whines from the sidelines as someone else clears up that mess. And as for the SNP – they are in complete denial that the situation they’ve created is unsustainable. We have demanded the SNP tell us how much their great giveaway is going to cost but they refuse to say. They refuse because they don’t trust the Scottish people with the information. They even use our money to take to the courts to keep people in Scotland in the dark. Isn’t it strange that in a country where the government tells us everything can be free, the Scottish people can’t be free to make their own choices. It is only by facing up to the choices the SNP are ducking, we can possibly afford to pay for the help and services for which those in genuine need are desperate. Yet the SNP wants to spend more taxpayers’ money, to borrow more in the future and when nothing is left then the blame lies not with them, but with Westminster. The danger posed by the SNP government is one of the reasons for the overwhelming support we have received for Conservative Friends of the Union. 50,000 people from across Scotland have written to me, asking to be involved, desperate to help us win the biggest battle in Scottish political history for generations and trusting us to take the fight to Alex Salmond. Let me tell you what I’ve learned about him in the last year. There is no bigger cheerleader for Alex Salmond than Alex Salmond himself – and no wonder given the booing he got in George Square and at the Ryder cup – he styles himself as one of the big big beasts of politics, apparently an unstoppable force. But let’s look at his record. When he first took over the SNP 22 years ago, an Ipsos Mori poll showed that support for independence stood at 37%. So, what has this goliath, leading his party for more than 18 of the last 22 years, achieved on the one issue he cares about most? A poll out today shows that support for independence has slumped by a quarter, to 28%. Support for independence has disappeared quicker than snow off a dyke. Whatever this snake-oil salesman is selling, Scotland’s not buying. But I’m taking nothing for granted, certainly not the Scottish people. We will stand with the people of Scotland - those from other parties and from none - and we will put forward the positive case for Scotland’s continuation in our United Kingdom. That work has already begun. I have been campaigning across Scotland with the message that we walk taller, shout louder and stand stronger as part of Team GB. On street stalls and at town hall meetings, people up and down our country tell me that they are ready to stand together and to fight. And because they know the Scottish Conservatives are key to winning this referendum – Labour can’t do it on their own – and because the vast majority Scottish people know we passionately believe, as they do, there’s no contradiction in being Scottish and British. They see us leading from the front. And as important as fighting for the UK, is demonstrating we have a real vision for Scotland beyond 2014. In recent weeks, Scottish Conservatives have stood up for our country’s communities by demanding reform of our penal system to make prison work, to ensure criminals serve the sentences the public expects and to end the vicious circle of offending and imprisonment. We have stood up for hard-working families by showing how the Scotland Act can be used to cut income tax and so provide a £560m boost for the economy, and of course for people’s purses and pockets. And we have stood up for Scottish business by arguing that Scotland needs better transport links long before a new island can be built in the Thames. But that is only the start. There’s a whole range of mountains to climb if Scotland is ever to become the most successful, compassionate but competitive nation we know it can be. A Scotland where those in need are cared for but where those who are able - take care of themselves. A Scotland where our health service can meet the needs of longer life and better treatments. A Scotland where our children receive the best education possible, regardless of where they live or how much their parents earn. A Scotland where those who need the support of government can count on it - but where they don’t have to wait for the government to tell them what to do. A Scotland where those who can pay their own way do not look to an already overstretched state for more. A Scotland where your work rewards yourself and your family, and not the tax collector and the government… A Scotland which reaps the benefit of being part of the most successful social and economic union of nations the world has ever seen. That’s a future worth fighting for and I’m up for the fight. I know you are too.”

Thursday, 4 October 2012

About Last Night

Last night the first live US presidential debate took place in Denver. Mitt Romney v Barack Obama. And Mitt Romney won the debate. He looked calm and collected and was full of facts and figures. Barack Obama on the other hand looked distracted and distant and stumbled a couple of times. All the statistics and facts made the debate very wonkish. And the debates chairman lost control on a number of occasions. With two more debates to go Barack Obama will have to improve on his performance. Mitt Romney did well but he should not allow himself to become overconfident as pride comes before a fall.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Catalonia Looks To Strike Out On Its Own

Catalonia is Spain's most wealthy region it makes up one fifth of the national economy and generates 30 per cent of its exports. Its 7.5 million people have always seen themselves as distinct from the rest of Spain, with their own language and cultural identity.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Sinn Fein Defend Irish Language TV Advert

"Irish language people pay taxes and they have rights. I don't have any Ulster Scots schools in my portfolio. I have numerous Irish medium schools in my portfolio. Thousands of pupils attend them every day and thousands have graduated from them.

"We have a responsibility under legislation, under the European Languages charter and I will continue to use resources properly to promote the use of the Irish medium sector."said John O'Dowd the Education Minister in the North.

Monday, 1 October 2012

The Speech That Cost John McCallister His Job

The centenary of the Ulster Covenant should be a time of pride for the Ulster Unionist Party; a time when we are reminded of the best values of our political tradition.

The Covenant did not invoke the narrow language of exclusion and sectarianism.

Rather, it speaks the language of civic unionism...of equal citizenship, of civil and religious liberties, of material well-being for all.

Other forms of unionism, of course, have delighted in sectarianism and exclusion.

But these have not been the values of Ulster Unionism.

Admittedly not always successfully, but when guided by the better angels of our nature, Ulster Unionism has sought to give voice to the civic unionism of the Covenant.

All of which makes it deeply ironic - and disappointing - that it has been at this time that reasonable observers are concluding that the UUP is sleep-walking into ‘unionist unity’.

The recently almost daily diet of shared initiatives with the DUP - shared commemorations, shared press releases, shared events, shared statements - has built up the unfortunate impression that the ‘unionist unity’ train has left the station.

In the driver’s cab a certain P. Robinson is smiling broadly, delighting that he appears to have the UUP as a passenger.

For many of us in the UUP, the prospect of ‘unionist unity’ represents a profound betrayal and rejection of the values of the Covenant.

It remains the case that the DUP is a very cold house for civic unionism - for the values of pluralism and liberalism.

Objective observers could use many terms to describe the DUP - disciplined; electorally successful; media savvy - but only a comedian with a gift for satire would attempt to describe the DUP as committed to liberal, pluralist values.

If we in the UUP have not always kept faith with these values, they have always been the soul of our party. And they have defined us at those moments when we have done most for Northern Ireland.

It is this fundamental difference in values which highlights what is at stake, both for the UUP and for Northern Ireland.

Not that long ago a UUP leader proudly spoke of “a pluralist parliament for a pluralist people”.

Those words summed up Ulster Unionism’s aspiration for Northern Ireland - a Northern Ireland shaped by the openness and pluralism of the contemporary United Kingdom; a Northern Ireland no longer always defined and held back by the politics of tribalism.

‘Unionist unity’ is the direct opposite of “a pluralist parliament for a pluralist people”.

It would permanently entrench tribalism in our politics and our institutions. Condemning daily politics and every election to a sectarian headcount.

Every policy proposal, every policy debate, would be reduced to a permanent unionist versus nationalist struggle.

An electorate already bored with the irrelevance of such politics would become evermore alienated from the democratic process.

And at a time when surveys consistently demonstrate that the constitutional issue is settled in favour of the Union, Unionism would once again be grabbing defeat from the jaws of victory.

‘Unionist unity’, rather than accepting the settled constitutional position, would ensure that every election became a sectarian border poll.

This is what ‘unionist unity offers.

In place of the vision of a pluralist parliament and pluralist politics, it would condemn us to the grubby reality of tribal politics.

Carson warned us against government of “faction and section”. But that is precisely what ‘unionist unity’ would permanently ensure.

A politics and a society shaped solely by the “faction and section” of unionist and nationalist.

A key part of a pluralist politics is choice. Not least, citizens having the choice of supporting an administration or an opposition.

Here we see another consequence of the deep freeze which would be forced upon our politics by ‘unionist unity’.

It would be impossible to move towards an authentic opposition in the Assembly to hold the Executive to account.

As ‘unionist unity’ inevitably led to ‘nationalist unity’, we would have the two sectarian

blocs forever sharing government, with no meaningful opposition to give voters an authentic choice.

At election time, voters would not be presented with alternative policies to consider and debate; they would merely be required to don the tribal colours and troop to the polling station to ensure ‘the other side’ didn’t come out on top.

Tribal government and tribal politics, with no alternative, no choice and no change.

What others rightly termed the “ugly scaffolding” of 1998 was never intended to be a permanent feature of our political landscape. It was a temporary necessity to repair our politics. But the deep freeze into ‘unionist unity’ would lead us would ensure that the “ugly scaffolding” became a permanent feature of our politics and our institutions.

Temporary features, designed to build confidence allowing Northern Ireland to move beyond the politics of tribalism, would inevitably be retained for generations to come.

A pluralist politics - the politics to which civic unionism is committed - aspires to a normalisation of our institutions.

Moving beyond designation, the abstract mechanics of d’Hondt, and government without opposition. An Ulster Unionism committed to pluralist values would offer authentic choice to the people of Northern Ireland, rather than an ongoing sectarian headcount.

Within the next few years, a new generation will be preparing to exercise political responsibility.

Those born in 1998 will very soon be voting for the first time.

We know from surveys that this generation increasingly does not define itself according to the political and cultural categories which have defined Northern Ireland politics.

In 2010, 66% of 18-24 year olds defined themselves as “neither”, rather than “unionist” or “nationalist” - only 14% of that age group supported a united Ireland.

And the favoured option in terms of identity was the Northern Ireland regional identity.

What exactly does the tribal politics of ‘unionist unity’ offer to this new generation?

Is this really the best unionism can offer to them - a politics defined entirely by the divisions of the past?

We see a generation growing up not defined by past divisions, not defined by the painful memories of the Troubles, not defined by a constitutional issue that they overwhelmingly believe is settled and it is seriously suggested that Ulster Unionism buys into a ‘unionist unity’ project which will enshrine past divisions, past hurts and keep alive the constitutional issue.

The results of such a decision by Ulster Unionism are obvious: A new generation would turn its back on a unionism mired in the divisions of the past.

The alternative is for an Ulster Unionism confident in its pluralist, liberal, pro-Union values.

To reach out to a generation very largely shaped by similar values.

It is this opportunity that our Party squanders if we consent to a re-heated politics of sectarian division under the guise of ‘unionist unity’.

At our party conference last week, Mike clearly defined Ulster Unionism: “I see us as a pluralist party. I see us as a progressive party.”

Perhaps events have resulted in the clarity of these words being obscured.

A pluralist party, a progressive party cannot countenance unity with a DUP in which pluralist, progressive values are ridiculed and opposed.

A pluralist party, a progressive party cannot reject Carson’s warning and condemn Northern Ireland to permanent government defined by “faction and section”.

Ulster Unionism’s ambitions and aspirations for Northern Ireland are much greater and more enduring than the false promise of ‘unionist unity’.

We want a pluralist politics for a pluralist Northern Ireland;

Political institutions that offer real choice to citizens;

An administration held to account by an opposition;

A future not defined by past divisions;

A region at ease with its place in the contemporary United Kingdom.

‘Unionist unity’ is a case of backward not forward. Of condemning our future to the past. The centenary of the Covenant is the best of times to reject such a suggestion.

And confidently reassert the pluralist and progressive values of Ulster Unionism.

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John McCallister Sacked

John McCallister the South Down MLA has been sacked by Mike Nesbitt from his job as Deputy leader of the UUP. Mr McCallister who is seen by many as being on the parties liberal wing spoke out against Unionist Unity. McCallister says Unionist Unity will only entrench tribal politics in the North.