Friday, December 21, 2007

The House Points Awards

My column from today's Liberal Democrat News.

HP Awards

Welcome to the 2007 House Points Awards, coming to you live from the Mecca Ballroom, Goole. (Our investigations revealed that there is no Goole Ballroom in Mecca.)

The first award is for The Most Absurd Statement by a Labour MP. There was support for Graham Allen’s thoughts on Tory sleaze: "It took a Labour government to end those scandals and introduce legislation to bring greater transparency to party funding." As one judge said, it is not enough to pass new laws: you have to obey them.

But the winner is Kim Howells for his assertion that Britain and Saudi Arabia can unite around our "shared values". Only a couple of weeks after he said it, a Saudi court sentenced a rape victim to be jailed and flogged. Sheer genius from Howells.

Next up is the Greatest Waste of Public Money. There were voices in support of London’s 2012 Olympic bid – current estimated cost £9.325bn and rising, against an original figure of £1.796bn. But again one candidate stands out: let’s hear it for Jonathan Ross and his £4.5m salary from the BBC.

Politician of the Year did not detain the judges long: Vince Cable is our unanimous choice. But the award for Campaign of the Year gave rise to more discussion.

Eventually we chose our winner: John Hemming. Using his blog, John has been waging war on the secrecy and excessive powers of the family courts and child protection services.

Finally, The Most Absurd Economic Statement of the Year. Here it proved impossible to separate two outstanding nominations, so there are joint winners: George Osborne and Alistair Darling.

Osborne set a high standard with his suggestion that "50-odd million people" are currently "living off the back of those who work in financial services".

But Darling was not to be outdone. He replied to some gentle Tory hints about tax cuts with: "Take £21 billion out of the economy and it's bound to have an effect." Whatever you think of tax cuts, it’s bizarre to think that only government spending counts as part of the economy.

So there you have the House Points Awards. And for those of you who couldn’t get through to vote for Rhydian, we promise to have more lines next year.

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