Dithering Dave is tearing the Conservative Party apart over Heathrow’s third runway

In politics, a politician’s entire legacy can sometimes be defined by a single word, usually with negative connotations. Say “sleaze” and you think, probably unfairly, of John Major. “Iraq”, most fairly, Tony Blair. With David Cameron, his repeated use of the word “dither” could become the word associated with his time as Prime Minister.

Take this reshuffle.he wanted to move Ian Duncan-Smith, but IDS refused to move. He really should have sacked or moved George Osborne, widely booed at the Paralympics. But he dithered and left George in situ. Before the election he said that there would be no third runway at Heathrow.

But now he is dithering. First he sacks Justine Greening. Now it is being said the commitment was not to build the third runway in this parliament. Tory MP Zac Goldsmith has threatened to resign his seat and fight a by-election in his West London seat if there is a U-turn on the third runway.

So what has Cameron done? Decisive Dave has given way to Dithering Dave by asking Howard Davies to lead a commission into the UK’s airport capacity.  Boris Johnson has attacked Cameron by calling the enquiry as a “fudge”.

The greenest government ever is desperate to find a way to get out of its pre-election pledge regarding Heathrow. Because of his dithering, Cameron is tearing his party apart. Perhaps it isn’t just Osborn that needs sacking.

Charlotte Vere defends Zac Goldsmith’s non dom status with grace and humour

I must admit that, even though she is a Tory, I am gaining some affection and admiration for Brighton Pavilion candidate, Charlotte Vere. In a post yesterday I was critical of David Cameron and the Tories (nothing unusual there – perhaps some would regard the post as a cheap shot!).  I laughed at the attempt by double barreled Tories for trying to appear more common.  (It is amazing how many claim to have been brought up in Council estates!  Clearly a breeding ground for double barreled Tories). 

But I also attacked mega-rich Zac Goldsmith for his non dom status.  To her credit, Chuck Vere posted a stout defence of non doms and her friend Zac Goldsmith in particular.  A brave move.  She also responds with grace and humour.  She has that in common with Nancy Platts.  I have no idea whether Caroline Lucas is blessed with similar grace and humour: she is yet to demean herself by responding to this blog!

But back to Chuck Vere. In case you don’t read comments left on this blog, here is what she posted:

“I was a Finance Director for a couple of years and so, as a bit of a nerd, I have a better than average understanding of tax. I even understand the non-dom system which has been in place for donkey’s years – and no, Labour didn’t get round to changing it and have left it too late now as they whimper away from power. The Conservative will change the non-dom system by requiring all non-doms to pay an annual fee of £25,000. Non-doms per se aren’t a bad thing – they are just people who consider themselves domiciled in another country. And that is a very difficult thing for even the tax man to define!

“However, non-doms contribute a huge amount to our economy, principally tax on their UK earnings, so whilst it may require further work, the system should be changed only with careful consideration. Back to Zac, someone I have campaigned with and someone who I consider a friend. I have never discussed his tax affairs with him, but judging from an email I got from him yesterday the truth of the matter is that he has not inherited capital, which is still tied up in trusts which were set up by his father. He does however have a, quite substantial, income from the capital on which he pays UK tax like we all do on our income. He also donates more money than you and I will see in a lifetime to charities and environmental causes.

“I am OK with these arrangements, many of which he can’t change anyway, and feel that morally he is on very solid ground. I am sorry to see this type of low grade campaigning against Zac from the Liberal Democrats. I believe they are probably getting very worried in Zac’s constituency of Richmond Park.

“Best wishes Baps, Charlotte Sarah Emily Vere (according to my passport – my parents were clearly influenced by the Brontes!) “

Double barrelled problems for rich, non dom Tories

These are interesting times. The latest opinion poll in the Independent has the Tory’s lead down to just 3 points.  The likelihood of a hung parliament comes ever nearer. And it is great to see the Tories in such trouble.  David Cameron has had to apologise for unfounded attacks on Ed Balls’ handling of allegations against Muslim institutions. Tory candidates, including Brighton Kemptown’s own Simon Radford-Kirby have been advised to drop their double barrel names because they are trying to avoid coming across as Tory toffs.  He is now common-as-muck Simon Kirby.  Failed candidate in Brighton Pavilion, Scott Seaman-Digby, tried to do likewise by promoting himself as plain Scott Digby.  It didn’t work for him and it won’t work for Radford-Kirby.

As for the successful candidate in Brighton Pavilion, Chuck Vere, there is no suggestion that she is really Charlotte Alexandra de Pfeffel Johnson-Vere, and certainly not related to Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson also known as simple Boris Johnson. No, her problems are more serious.  She is a close associate of Zac Goldsmith.  Today’s Mirror reported that “rising Tory star Zac Goldsmith is avoiding tax by claiming ‘non dom’ status”.  Mr Goldsmith inherited a fortune from his industrialist father Sir James Goldsmith.  There have been calls for David Cameron to sack him. Non-domicile tax status lets people avoid tax on earnings outside the UK.  According to the Lib Dem peer, Lord Oakeshott, “He’s not fit to sit in parliament and must pay the millions he’s dodged to the British taxman.”

Mr Goldsmith has denied he had “dodged” tax and said, “Virtually all my income comes to the UK, where I pay full tax on it.” But he added that he had decided to give up his “non dom” status.  Because of her close association with Zac Goldsmith, Charlotte Vere should make a statement about her attitude to non doms, and she should condemn rich Tories for avoiding tax.

Charlotte Vere’s selection is threat to Caroline Lucas

Sometimes I get it wrong, sometimes I get it wrong BIG time. I got it wrong big time over the Tory selection in Brighton Pavilion.

First of all, congratulations to Charlotte Vere on her selection. And I aologise for labelling her and others as ‘lame donkeys’. It was a cheap shot and unworthy.

Within hours of her selection I received a very gracious message from Charlotte. So again, congratulations and apologies.

Her selection is excellent news for Brighton Pavilion. It guarantees a woman Member of Parliament for the first time in its history.

The election campaign itself will be fascinating with three extremely able women candidates in Nancy Platts (Labour), Caroline Lucas (Green), and now Charlotte Vere.

The contrast between the campaigns to be run in the 2 Brighton seats could not be greater. In Brighton Kemptown the three main parties are likely to field men who will aim (and are already trying) to out do each other in pursuit of the gay male vote.

Green issues, amongst various social issues, are likely to dominate the Brighton Pavilion campaign.

But class issues, cuts in jobs and services, and poverty are likely to feature prominently as well.

The selection of Charlotte Vere will, ironically, weaken Caroline Lucas’ campaign (to the advantage of Nancy Platts) given Charlotte’ credentials as an environmental campaigner and her close relationship with Zac Goldsmith.

Right of centre environmentalists can stay true to form by voting for a green Tory. The green vote is in danger of being fatally diluted.