Rachael Bates, a right wing admirer of Daniel Hannan and of a former Labour leader

I’m not into the cult of personality, but today I just couldn’t resist posting a profile of one of the most determined, right wing  and youngest amongst the local Conservative ranks.  It is none other than Momma Grizzly herself, Rachael Bates.  Why her and why today? It is Rachael’s 22nd birthday.

Rachael’s political hero is Daniel Hannan MEP. Immediately you will get an insight to her right-wing views.  She describes Daniel thus: “He has great vision, is spot on about almost everything, is a fantastic orator and is just a lovely guy”.

Rachael graduated last year from that hot bed of Conservative activism, Sussex University, and immediately started working for the newly elected Conservative MP for Hove, Mike Weatherley, one of several bright young activists who support him.

Away from politics, Rachael loves going to the Pav Tav (usually for Guerilla Rocks) and to Belushi’s Below for their fantastic rock and metal night, Abandoned. (I have no idea what I have typed and whether it makes any sense to anyone else.  It certainly is alien to me).

Rachael is a Big Society kind of girl: “Charity is extremely important to me. I have climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in aid of Childreach International. The charity that I champion the most is Help for Heroes. I will never be seen without my Help for Heroes armband”. (Is a Help the Heroes armband essential dress for Belushi’s Below and Abandoned?).

This next view will not go down at all well with Labour activists at all. She says that the opposition politician she admires most “despite disagreeing with a lot of the decisions he made, it has to be Tony Blair.  His strength, determination and devotion to what he believed was right for the country are something I admire very much.”  Rachael, you must be one of the last two people in Britain who thinks what he did (Iraq, Afghanistan, George W Bush, etc) was right.  The other person is …. Tony Blair.

In May’s local elections Rachael is standing for election in Hollingdean and Stanmer. As a Conservative candidate she has absolutely no chance of winning (I know, that’s harsh, especially on her birthday, but it is the truth). But this does not stop Rachael Bates. She is clear about what her priorities would be if, IF, she was elected: “My main priority is to keep council tax low so that hard-working people can have more of their own money in their pockets. I am passionate about letting people run their own lives rather than the government dictating to them.”

She goes on: “Parking is an issue that I find is a massive problem that needs to be addressed, as is the issue of travellers.”  So not compassionate conservatism here.  A true follower of Daniel Hannan.  “I am keen to continue working closely with the two fantastic universities in Brighton and to encourage a good relationship with students and their neighbours.”

Her political ambition is to successfully represent the people of Hollingdean & Stanmer and to make Brighton & Hove’s council tax one of the lowest in the country.  How depressing.  Nothing about making Brighton and Hove a better, fairer place to live.  It is a good thing, then, that she won’t be elected.

But she has expressed one political ambition that I can’t fault her on, and that is to appear on the Brighton Politics Blog!  So, happy birthday, Rachael.  I am glad that I have been able to be part of fulfilling the only ambition that you will achieve this year.

No Happy New Year, the only silver lining is the probable election of Caroline Lucas

The Archbishop of Canterbury is right: the last decade was gruelling. If we look back to the optimism at the start of the new millennium we have seen, amongst other things, the election of George W Bush, 9/11, wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the London bombings, swine flu, and, most recently, the Recession.

So can we look towards the next decade with any greater optimism? I fear not. The legacy of Tony Blair’s obsession with war has resulted in both Britain and the world becoming more unsafe. The gap between rich and poor nations has grown, and between the rich and poor in Britain likewise.

The Recession will afflict us for years to come, with house prices well beyond the reach of ordinary people, the value of pensions for most being eroded, and the decline in job security will mean that we, our children and their children will be paying the cost of the recession and of Iraq and Afghanistan for years to come.

One of the greatest negative legacies on the domestic front is the institutionalisation of debt. Where previous generations avoided debt, through the introduction of student loans Blair and New Labour have allowed debt to become an accepted part of ordinary life, something encouraged and nurtured by government.

Of equal concern is the central role that alcohol is now playing in most social activities. In a report issued today the NHS Confederation has said that alcohol is placing an “unsustainable burden” on the NHS. Blair’s obsession with deregulation and allowing the market to set limits is not only hurting the economic health of the nation, it is hurting the physical health of ordinary individuals.

These are the legacy of Tony Blair. Gordon Brown had an opportunity to make a clean break from one of the most disastrous prime ministers in British history, but he failed to do so, demonstrating a lack of political acumen and personal courage. Labour should hang its head in shame as it enters an election year.

I would like to wish you a happy New Year, but the outlook is too grim. I would like to say that a heavy defeat in the General Election would be a just reward for New Labour, but the alternative, a Conservative victory and David Cameron becoming Prime Minister, is too frightening to contemplate.

The only silver lining is the probable election in Brighton Pavilion of Caroline Lucas at the General Election.

War in Afghanistan

Gordon Brown is coming under increasing pressure as the number of British soldiers killed in Afghanistan continues to rise. This week has been particularly bad and there is every indication that the numbers being ‘repatriated’, to use a Ministry of Defence phrase, (or to you and me the number of dead young men and women coming back in body bags) will continue to rise.

Listening to Ministers describing how the objective is to give Afghanistan back to the Afghans is meaningless twaddle. This is a war Brown inherited from Blair and Bush. He would be well advised to say it was ill-advised and was unwinnable from the outset. Afghanistan, even with Taliban, never posed a threat to the UK. Yes, the Taliban accommodated al Qiaida and was one of the most nauseating, repressive, anti-women regime in modern history.

But the reality is that the UK and the USA at some point will have to negotiate with the Taliban. And there are elements within the Taliban that are not anti-women and support, for example, the education of women.

Of course Brown won’t have the courage to come clean on Afghanistan. However, if he is to continue with this misadventure, he should make the objective is clear. What does victory look like? What does it mean to give Afghanistan back to the Afghans? Quite how far are the UK and the USA prepared to go in order to achieve the, as yet unclear, objectives.

As with the USA in Vietnam, it is the sight of body bags and coffins that will sway public opinion and will bring an end to the U.K.’s involvement in Afghanistan. The danger is that there will not be a planned, negotiated, constructive withdrawal, leaving anarchy, revenge, and the worst elements of the Taliban returning to power.

Well done, Tony Blair. Yet another aspect of you fine legacy.