Fears that Danny Alexander is a closet Tory

14 February 2014

Danny Alexander, MP (Parliamentary photo)

Danny Alexander, MP (Parliamentary photo)

Fears are being voiced in Lib Dem circles that Danny Alexander, MP, is ‘going native’ as he gets on ‘famously well’ with the Tories.

The Huffington Post reports a speech by Rob Wilson, Conservative MP for Reading East, chancellor George Osborne’s parliamentary private secretary (PPS), in which he said: “I think Nick Clegg complains quite often that Danny Alexander has gone native in the Treasury. I think there is some truth in the fact he has gone native in the Treasury. The relationship is very good within the Treasury team.”

The Huffington Post comments: “The notion that Alexander, one of the most senior Lib Dems in government, has been ideologically captured by Osborne and the Tories will not go down well with the party’s MPs and grassroots.”

Danny Alexander has annoyed Lib Dem activists by endorsing chancellor George Osborne’s plans for more spending cuts well beyond the general election in 2015.

The subject is sufficiently public that Nick Clegg was forced to defend Danny Alexander in the Commons from claims of being a closet Tory taken hostage by Mr Osborne.

John Finnie wants to remove religious reps from Council committee

12 February 2014

John Finnie, MSP (Holyrood photo)

John Finnie, MSP (Holyrood photo)

Highland MSP, John Finnie, has introduced a Private Member’s Bill in Holyrood to remove the statutory requirement to have religious representatives on council education committees across Scotland.

Kieran Turner, a spokesman for the Evangelical Alliance, said: “It is part of a wider agenda by small secularist groups to marginalise religion in public life.”

The historical reasons for religious representatives on council education committees goes back to the 1872 Education Act when church schools were integrated into the state system.

Mr Finnie’s proposal will simply fuel the argument for the revival of faith schools in Scotland.

The Edinburgh Secular Society supports Mr Finnie’s Bill.

Christians may wonder at the large number of changes to public life created by Holyrood legislation.

Mr Finnie is an Independent MSP who resigned from the SNP when it changed its policy about NATO.

He voted in support of redefining marriage.

Highland Council is turning political

25 December 2013

Councillor Donnie Kerr (Council image)

Councillor Donnie Kerr (Council image)

The politicization of The Highland Council continues apace with the passing of a motion condemning the Government of Israel.

At its last full council meeting on 19th December 2013, Councillors Donnie Kerr and Andrew Baxter moved the motion:
“Highland Council condemns the Government of Israel for its continuing illegal occupation of Palestine’s East Jerusalem and the West Bank and for its continuing illegal blockade of Gaza.
“Highland Council welcomes the decision of the United Nations on 29 November 2012 to grant ‘non-member observer State’ to Palestine.
“However, for the people of Palestine, the suffering of the last 64 years continues as the Government of Israel continues to ignore and breach international law.
“Just as individual sanctions against apartheid in South Africa led ultimately to its demise there, so individual and collective sanctions against the State of Israel will end apartheid and suffering in Palestine.
“Highland Council therefore resolves to resist, insofar as legislative considerations permit, any action that gives political or economic support to the State of Israel”.

The debate began with Councillor Thomas Prag raising a point of order, amazed that Standing Orders allowed such motions, which are of no relevance to the work of the council, for which councillors had not been elected, and he thought it was an abuse of the chamber.  He withdrew from the debate.  Similar sentiments are recorded in a letter to The Northern Times.

Kerr said that three Councils in Scotland have supported this motion, and that student unions, Trade Unions, the STUC and the Church of Scotland is following the Palestine boycott campaign commenced in 2005.  Baxter referred to his growing up in the 1980s with black and white certainties, but reflection and international travel helped him to see that they were more nuanced.  Councillor Bill Clark stated that Nelson Mandela was passionate that the Palestinian cause ran parallel to the apartheid struggle.  Councillor Fraser Parr wanted the Highlands to twin towns with Palestine, with Inverness giving a lead.

Councillor David Alston thought the motion was vague.  He supported the first two paragraphs but he thought that the last paragraph was unclear what its implications were; he called it “designer radicalism”.  He moved a successful amendment, supported by Councillor David Fallows, to support only the first two paragraphs.

Only 14 councillors supported Kerr’s motion, while 21 councillors supported Alston’s motion, thus a total of 35 councillors supported condemning the Government of Israel, and there were 30 abstentions.  Another amendment by Councillor Mike Finlayson and Alasdair Rhind that the motion should not be accepted was supported by 25 councillors.

It appears that this initiative rides on the back of the death of Nelson Mandela, and the word ‘apartheid’ is being applied to the Palestinian cause against Israel.  It is interesting to note that Donnie Kerr appears to accept that religion and politics do mix.

The largest single group in The Highland Council is the Independents, but the administration is an alliance of the smaller political parties.  The politicization of local politics is one thing, but the internationalisation of that politics with a ‘one policy fits all’ is not only going too far but it is not good politics, which needs negotiation, compromise and balanced principles.