The week according to Sean Dilley
Broadcaster and general nuisance Sean Dilley gives his take on the week in politics.
I agree with Nick! Oh dear, I can't believe I just said that – but the Lib Dem leader scores highly in this week's common sense from the Commons competition. He told listeners to his weekly Call Clegg slot on LBC that Labour's proposal to ban adults from smoking in cars with children inside is unworkable and wrong.
Now before anyone starts exploding in a puff of Rousseauesq false logic, the point the Liberal leader was making is that it's illiberal, random and ridiculously unenforceable in the real world. You simply shouldn't legislate for an irresponsible minority.
Speaking to his loyal and less loyal listeners, Mr Clegg said although it is "deeply irresponsible" for parents to smoke in cars with children in them, it is also "irresponsible to subcontract responsible parenting to the state". He made the point that too much TV is bad for children but no-one's suggesting entering people's homes to enforce state guidelines on what someone else's children are allowed to do and watch.
For the avoidance of doubt, dear reader, I am not now, nor have I ever been a smoker. Smoke in a car with me and I'm likely to squeal like a pig – but some issues are just too big to legislate based on our own opinions.
The analogy I prefer to use is that we know smoking and drinking during pregnancy is deeply harmful to unborn babies, with only the irresponsible minority being neglectful enough to puff and drink away when expecting… but just imagine following Labour's 'car smoking ban' logic through. Before you know it, black-shirted state officials may end up approaching larger looking ladies who happen to be enjoying a drink or a fag outside a pub and ask them to take a pregnancy test. Now that would be taking the ….
It's called prime ministers questions' for a reason but David Cameron this week demonstrated how not to answer a simple question by spinning more than Dot Cotton's tumble dryer on laundry day.
The 45p tax rate for the top one per cent of earners who take home over £150,000 per year has been the subject of much debate – indeed it was the 50p tax rate until recently, and as indicated on Wednesday, it could soon be the 40p tax rate debate.
The two-way between the leaders kicked off after an Ed Balls classic, condemned by the IFS and business leaders, as the former Treasury advisor pledged to bring back the 50p tax rate. A lively debate kicked off ahead of PMQs with analysts pointing out that such a rise could only raise a very limited amount of money and could alienate the richest one per cent who pay, as it turns out, 30% of all money taken by the exchequer.
Put reality to one side (just like in Westminster), 'not red' Ed Miliband fancied scoring a few political points by forcing the prime minister into an embarrassing admission that at a time when people genuinely are suffering a cost of living crises, he and George are considering easing the burden on the richest – indeed this is much expected as an incentive for better off folk to vote blue at the next election. But Cameron's reaction was much better than the Labour party could ever have hoped for, with the PM deflecting and blatantly refusing to say whether he could rule out a "tax cut for the richest". From a PR perspective, he might as well have confirmed it and announced a new tax on fuel bills to fund it, since his refusal to be straight was cringingly damaging to how ordinary people will perceive him. So thanks prime minister, for this week's lesson on how not to answer a question.
A few years ago, Douglas Carswell and I had a falling out after the Clacton Conservative picked me up on a Twitter comment in which I described him as "the most arrogant MP" I have ever come across.
It's a long story, but I was approaching him for a talkSPORT radio feature in which the disaffected Tory was to be praised for his efforts in challenging former Speaker Martin's undemocratic behaviour in his final days in the chair. It was a challenge that ultimately led to Gorbles Mick vacating earlier than he had planned.
Sadly, despite four calls to his office over a week and a half, neither Mr Carswell or his office returned my calls and the upshot of our Twitter-tet, which ironically was sent to demonstrate to a Labour supporting follower that I was not politically biased against his party, was that Carswell attempted to take me to task for criticising his non response "during a particularly busy week". It was concluded by the MP with a no-nonsense decider when he retorted: "Whatever."
Now all I can say is that all is forgiven, even if he doesn't forgive me. Carswell has certainly proven to be one of the biggest characters in the 2010 parliament with little regard for advancement or party politics when it comes to representing what he believes to be the right thing. Indeed, I have since felt a little bad about the Twitter-tet when on a number of occasions since he has gone out of his way to hold doors open for me with no mention of our exchange… and now he's done something I quite admire damn it!
Touring his Essex constituency last Friday, Carswell observed a shoplifter running from shop security. In a scene that must have resembled the Batman and Robin bit from Only Fools And Horses, the uncapped crusader gave chase before detaining the thief until police arrived. Not only this, he managed to tweet while he was waiting, and fit in a Hollywood style one-liner telling the crook: "I'm your member of parliament, but I'm not expecting your support at the next election."
Now I'm not planning to take long hot showers with the Clacton Member, but credit where it's due.
I'd like to say that the UK is really getting into the debate on Scottish independence ahead of September's crucial referendum – but given that only voters registered in Scotland are allowed to have a say, the wider British public are predictably not that interested.
This week, Bank of England governor Mark Carney has been speaking north of the border on the SNP's proposed 'sterling zone', in which Scotland achieves independence but keeps the pound.
Carney confirmed what so many of us have been saying for some time… one of the five key tests for independent nations is financial independence and so Scotland would have to give up much decision making power to the rest of the UK. Without getting too deeply into this huge multifaceted debate, the simple question is whether it is even possible to have independence without financial independence?
I know the SNP originally supported a so called 'devo-max' option, but surely the notion of an independent Scotland sharing the pound is like 'indi-mini'?