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“Chillaxing” with David Miliband

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David Miliband and family in South Shields

Former Foreign Secretary takes the sea air in South Shields

A lot of people were rather bemused that Prime Minister “call me Dave” Cameron carved out “chillaxing” time at the weekends by losing his daughter at the pub or playing games on his iPad, or even fitting in a game of tennis, but really it must do an MP (or a PM) a world of good to get away from the Westminster village and make time for more important matters, especially if he/she has a young family. So it was good to see our constituency MP David Miliband along with his wife Louise and the two boys “enjoying” yesterday’s horrendous rain on the sea front in South Shields. Sheltered beneath his NASUWT umbrella, the former Foreign Secretary was in very anonymous mood dressed down in denim jeans, and a sporty looking waterproof zippered jacket that could easily have come from one of Mike Ashley’s outlets (let’s hope not), matched to a very expensive looking pair of brown suede boots. He and his family were making the most of this trip to the constituency as the parade for Armed Services Day was about to make its way down from Gypsies Green Stadium to the Bents Park, yet despite the weather they all seemed to be enjoying themselves quite unperturbed by the lack of apparent interest in them, they could easily have been Mr. and Mrs. Thompson from Tynemouth on a day trip – Joe Public was none the wiser!

Oddly I didn’t see David Miliband in the Bents Park for the commemorative service for our armed personnel (that is not to say that he wasn’t in there for a time) but I did see him and one of his sons making his way along Bents Park Road homeward bound as the service was in progress. The talk was of things that young boys find so important of course, like building some sort of “transformers” type machine big enough to hide inside of a van and ready to gobble up marauders, and as most fathers know only too well thoughts quickly turn to the empty stomach and move towards lunch if the lads have had some exercise.

Now Colemans fish and chips are very nice, but on a Sunday?

Well, why not? However, it has to be said that there are other fish and chip shops worth a try in town, but when it comes down to ice cream the lads are totally correct, there is no other ice cream in the world after you have tasted Minchellas!

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Written by curly

June 25, 2012 at 8:13 am

All in it together

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Brown bookOf course they are!

“We are all in this together”  may have been the most prophetic words uttered by Conservative Leader David Cameron following the post crash demise of the last Labour government, leaving an economy in tatters and the whole of Europe drowning in debt after the sage advice of Brown and Obama to governments and central banks to borrow more and print more money to keep the world floating happily along towards oblivion. Cameron’s words were meant to galvanise public opinion as we entered an age of austerity to tackle the worldwide mountains of debt and return the UK to a “balanced budget” after the profligacy of the Brown/Blair years, yet after two budgets from the coalition government the achievment of that aim does not seem to be approaching with any speed.

We had just gone through a Parliament awash with excess, the MPs expenses scandal had left a very nasty taste in the mouth and the reforms put in place have not done an awful lot to assuage public anger and resentment at what politicians are perceived to be doing with their time and our money, the News International phone hacking revelations and the subsequent Leveson inquiry will probably also confirm the public’s suspicions that our politicians are easy to influence and are seen to be far too close to some journalists and newspaper proprietors for the sake of good honest and open public governance.

Having taken what they think is statesmanlike stances during their years in office it may seem unedifying to some that former holders of great office now hawk themselves around on the world’s stage making an absolute fortune and banking their income not in a personal account, but into the account of a privately owned company specifically set up to reduce their liability to pay the full rate of UK tax. Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, and South Shields MP David Miliband all operate such companies and manage to reduce their tax liabilities by sums that some of us may never manage to earn in a year. Don’t get me wrong, we should all praise success, but if we are all in this together we should all be paying our fair share of taxes.

This “being in it together” though, is now becoming a catch phrase of the left, perhaps Cameron may regret having uttered those words in the first place, there are many who would just love to push them back down his throat, and if they have a reasoned cogent argument then why not? Trouble is, some are none too careful about republishing these words, take for example the septuagenarian Star Trek actor Patrick Stewart, invited by David Miliband to deliver one of his South Shields lectures:

“I have nothing but contempt for the expression ‘we’re all in this together.

That’s bullshit – we’re not all in this together,”

“The members of the cabinet are not in the same position as the people who live near me in Bermondsey. What we have seen is not so much a response to a global crisis but Tory policies as usual, masquerading under the claim of necessity.”

Putting aside the fallibility of memory, Stewart seems to miss the response to the UK crisis as well as missing the point on worldwide debt reduction, it does not look or sound so good bleating about the phrase “we are in this together” when one has resided in such luxurious surroundings as these in California:
Patrick Stewarts Californian residence

Picture via Guido Fawkes

The lofty left certainly do not so sound so chummy and down to earth when their wealth is revealed, the folks of Queensferry, Westoe, Trimdon, or Bermondsey must be choking with contempt at any politician/actor (hard to tell the difference with Tony Blair) talking about “being in it together”.

Beam me up Scotty, I want to be in it together with you 🙂

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Splott is not South Shields!

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30 strong Labour entourage tour ward for votes

Yes, you can tell that the local elections will soon be upon us, as news reaches this desk that a large throng of Labour party members joined South Shields MP David Miliband in banging doors and canvassing support in Splott!

The globe trotting tourist and mega earning former Foreign Secretary was once again filling his spare time with another activity in a part of the world remote from South Shields, but look on the bright side, without this news we would never have heard of Splott!

“Having a recognizable face such as David Miliband turn up at your doorstep making an effort makes a huge difference.”

Much more of this and his face will become almost unrecognizable in his own constituency. I’m sure the comedienne Jo Brand must have had a joke up her sleeve about it when she was invited to give the South Shields lecture.

Splott the MP!

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Written by curly

February 9, 2012 at 5:22 pm

David Miliband using tax loophole for avoidance

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david milibandAnnual tax savings estimated at six figures!

South Shields’ part time MP David Miliband may add another couple of words to his CV having been variously described as a globe trotter, Labour leadership loser, former Foreign Secretary, chip shop connoisseur, banana waver, a man with high earning outside interests, and now a tax avoider!

Since losing the battle to lead the Labour party to his brother Ed, the man that Tony Blair pushed onto the people of South Shields is trying his hardest not to mirror the lifestyles and wage earning capacities of the majority of his constituents in South Tyneside by adding to the growing list of opportunities available to former cabinet ministers. Speech making has never quite been so profitable for former front bench performers, add this to consultancies, and the vice-chairmanship of Sunderland AFC and our rarely seen Member of Parliament can justifiably claim to have never had it so good!

Last November (as reported in the MPs Register of Interests), David Miliband joined the advisory board of the Sir Bani Yas Forum in Abu Dhabi, the Daily Mail reported that  he was paid almost £5000 for transport and accommodation for himself and a member of his staff, and also received £64,475 from the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs! The article also claims that he receives pay at a rate of more than £21000 per day from the UAE, and his recent decision to do work for a Pakistani company, Indus Basin Holdings, earns him an additional £50000 per annum for five days work!

Rather than being paid personally and taxed through PAYE, like the majority of us, Miliband’s earnings are channelled through a company jointly owned by himself and his wife Louise, the Office of David Miliband Limited, and by exploiting both partners tax allowances and taking their income in the form of share dividends, it is estimated that Mr. Miliband is avoiding paying taxes to the tune of a six figure number. Laughing all the way to the bank!

You might want to complain about how much other people are paying David Miliband, personally I’m not that bothered, best of luck to him I say. I am a bit bothered by this stance over tax though, particularly as it was an area that the last Labour government intended to address. Alistair Darling was determined to close this tax avoidance loophole, and some couples were hounded through the courts by HM Revenue before it became clear that the practice was legal, then Labour declared :

‘The Government will therefore bring forward proposals for changes to legislation.’

Fortunately for Miliband, they never did, it must be just a little embarrassing for him though to be seen to be so out of step with his constituents, and to be seen as avoiding his full tax bill when many of those who struggle to keep up to date with benefits regulations are hauled through the courts.

Meanwhile in another article Oliver Wright suggests that David Miliband is still struggling to come to terms with his brother’s leadership and is happier to be a big earner away from Labour’s front bench, sadly Wright suggests that the two have an awkward relationship and only meet rarely at family events even suggesting that he still finds it very difficult to be in a room with Ed.

It does make me wonder what former South Shields MPs such as Arthur Blenkinsop or Chuter Ede would have made of their modern day successor.

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Written by curly

January 30, 2012 at 12:59 pm

Kung Hey Fat Choi!

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Tied up by Chinese New Year

I spent most of yesterday in Newcastle Upon Tyne with my daughter taking in the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of the Chinese New Year celebrations in the Stowell Street area. It is something that she particularly enjoys, so she brought a friend along to share the experience. They are still at the sort of age where they cannot understand why there are so few Chinese restaurants in South Shields and so many up the river in Newcastle!

Anyway, I came home with around 150 pictures in my camera, so the processing of them will probably tie me up for a few days, but the first few are ready for posting in South Shields Daily Pictures from tomorrow.

I do have a couple of posts to follow about South Tyneside Council and South Shields’ MP David Miliband, stay tuned.

 

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Written by curly

January 30, 2012 at 12:03 pm

Relaunch No.6 “Doing the right thing”

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Keeping Ed Miliband may be the “right thing” for Cameron

Video courtesy of Guido Fawkes.

I don’t know how you feel, but I find it rather difficult to “connect” with this bloke, he may want to do the “right thing” but he never sounds right, nor looks right, and as Leader of the Opposition he just appears to be the “right thing” for providing target practice for David Cameron at the Dispatch Box.

However, talking of doing the right thing, at least Ed Miliband appears willing to join the Prime Minister in forcing the hand of Alex Salmond, the SNP’s First Minister in Scotland. This is an interesting position considering how many seats Labour might lose in Westminster should Scotland be broken away from the Union and attain independence, but fighting a move in a referendum on the matter is surely the right thing to do. Salmond the populist leader of his party has been invited by South Tyneside Council Leader Iain Malcolm to speak in the north-east at a meeting of the North East Economic Forum organised by Malcom’s Sovereign Strategy lobbying company. This is a good move as it will help to define relationships between Scotland and this region irrespective of the outcome of any referendum, whenever it may be held, our economic prosperity may suffer heavily should Scotland be in an independent position in regard to taxes, subsidies, and “sweeteners” to businesses and it is right that Salmond should come down here to clarify what he really wants for Scotland and to take back our views on how our joint prospects may pan out if Scotland is no longer part of the United Kingdom. Iain Malcolm said:

“I’m not in favour of Scotland becoming independent from the rest of the UK, we are stronger together, but that is a matter for the Scottish people.

“Whatever happens it is vital the North East has a stronger relationship with our partners across the border.

“That is why yes we do have to look at what might happen, say after 2014.”

The prospect of a nation on our doorstep offering better incentives to business, or smaller tax rates may well be something to fear, or will it? Perhaps such a scenario may lead to wholesale revision of business taxes in England introducing a necessary level of competition. Other worries may surface about areas such as VAT or sales taxes which could result in cross border shopping expeditions to Edinburgh or Dumfries furthering the decline of our north east shopping centres, a major worry for places such as South and North Shields, Wallsend, or Gateshead.

Like Malcolm, I do not want to see the eventual break up of the United Kingdom , and I do not believe it would lead to increased prosperity for the people of Scotland, I do not believe that they could cope economically without the levels of subsidies provided via Westminster. Like Cameron and Ed Miliband I think the “right thing” politically is to force Salmond’s hand and hold a definitive referendum at a time not of his choosing, with the legal framework clearly outlined so as there can be no doubt about the differences between a yes and a no vote.

Also, whilst we are on the subject of the “right thing” it is comforting to see that stumbling Ed Miliband at last recognises that cuts in public spending are necessary and right, and that deficit reduction needs to be ongoing, just a shame that he has spent the opening period of his leadership campaigning against such measures along with Ed Balls. The “right thing” to do now, surely, is to apologise for the mistakes made during the years that both of them spent in Gordon Brown’s government as the spending spree with other people’s money piled debt upon debt adding to the problems that we all face now.

So, Labour is starting to see the benefits of doing the “right thing” (and here’s another), now Miliband just needs to pull the rest of his party along with him. Unfortunately, and this will remain for  some time, the presentation is abysmal, lacklustre, weak, and dull as dishwater,  with major players in his own ranks bemoaning his performance – long may he remain as Labour’s leader!

 

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Merry Christmas to all

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I may not be back for a while.

Just as I was about to make a post regarding Cameron, Clegg, Miliband and the Eurozone debt crisis my desktop PC suffered a crisis of its own. Some sort of hardware issue is preventing Windows from booting, so I’m competing for time and space with the kids on this laptop, at this time of year it is near impossible to get them off it.

Needless to say, until I have the problem diagnosed and fixed there will be no chance of updates either here or at South Shields Daily Pictures, hopefully the delay will be as short as possible. Luckily things are relatively quiet on the local political scene as councillors and Town Hall staff in South Tyneside look forwards to the festive holidays, so it only remains for me to wish my readers a peaceful joyous and Happy Christmas and best wishes for 2012.

Whilst I’m here shall we say congratulations to South Shields girls Perrie Edwards and Jade Thirlwall of “Little Mix” who have seen their first single reach No. 1 in the charts, something which Joe McElderry did not achieve until after the Christmas period in 2010.

See you all soon.

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Written by curly

December 19, 2011 at 10:24 am