Monday, 22 June 2009
For what it's worth, in a totally lacklustre competition - a sort of rather dull 'land of the little people' - my comments:
Bercow - pompous little prat, voted by NuLab to piss off the Tories
Young - actually the best speech and probably the best candidate
Beith - sooooo dull
Beckett - absolutely underwhelming
Widdecombe -as ever, totally nutty
Haselhurst - technically good but uninspiring
Dhanda - sooooo weak it was pitiful
Sheppard - boring
McCormack - lovely 1850s throwback, but in 2009, really?
Lord - last ditch attempt at getting a peerage
But is the new Speaker fit for the job? What do we actually need from the Speaker in any case? Simple. Three things:
1. To chair the House in an independent way, helping backbenchers and the opposition hold the executive to account.
2. To run the House effectively.
3. To steal back power for the House from the executive.
Well, first of all we can see how crap Michael Martin was. He failed all three tests tragically. But I struggle to believe that our new Speaker is going to measure up.
Saturday, 20 June 2009
My anger is only just subsiding.
No, in fact it's not. I am absolutely incandescently fucked off.
Yesterday, La Famillie Cragsbury had a visit from our health visitor. One of those milestone check ups for very young children. Now she is a nice lady; a sprightly 50-60, sparky, lively, originally Canadian. Full of good advice and reassurance. All good so far.
But what has gripped my shit is what she gave us: a purple 'conference giveaway' style plastic briefcase, containing:
2 children's books - Owl Babies, Elmer's Friends
3 handout leaflets
1 sheet of stickers
This apparently is part of a Government funded project called 'Bookstart'. I have now looked into it. The facts (such as they are):
Bookstart is a project which you and I, the taxpayer, has thrown cash at for some years now, funding 25% of the project. The basic idea is as follows: "Bookstart aims to provide a free pack of books to every baby in the UK, to inspire, stimulate and create a love of reading that will give children a flying start in life. But most of all we want to show that books are fun."
PC, lefty, 'right on' laudable stuff you might think. But hold on, is that really what taxpayers should be throwing their hard earned cash at? Isn't learning to read at the 0-3 age group a parental responsibility? Why should the taxpayer fund this at all? Nice to do if the money is free, but it's not. It is hard earned cash, ripped out of the pay packets of normal, everyday average men and women whom earn around £25k pa on average. Not Fred the Shed. He's in the top o.1%. No, normal hard working ordinary people, desperately trying to afford books for their own kids. WTF should they be forced to fund other people's lack of application as parents?
As ever an initiative like this has some solid junk science behind it. Here it is, straight from the Bookstart website:
"Wade & Moore undertook an observational study, where parents shared a book with their children, of two to three years, and compared Bookstart families with a non-Bookstart sample.
83% of Bookstart parents read the whole text compared with 34% of non-Bookstart parents. 64% talked about the story, compared with only 24%. 43% encouraged the child to join in, compared with 17%. 68% encouraged the child to make predictions, compared with 38%
68% of Bookstart children looked at books as one of their favourite activities 21% for children who had not received Bookstart. 75% of Bookstart parents said they usually bought books as presents for their children compared with 10% for parents who had not received Bookstart. 43% of Bookstart parents took their children to the library at least once a month compared with 17% for parents who had not received Bookstart. "
Brilliant so, actually we are training the parents, rather than the children. Isn't that what we should be doing at school? Instead of stalactites and stalagmites, instead of oxbow lakes and Venn diagrams, how about teaching the 16 year old girls who will shortly be getting up the duff several times by various itinerant job seekers, how to parent properly as they are likely to have had appalling parenting example up till this point no doubt.
How screwed up is our society? Instead of addressing the disease, we throw charitable and taxpayer resources at the symptoms.
As I said at the beginning, this initiative is arrogantly patronising, nanny state bollocks at its worst and a pointless waste of taxpayers' money. God save us.
Friday, 19 June 2009
Afternote: The Appalling Strangeness has a brilliant post on Her Chipmunkness.
Thursday, 18 June 2009
Wednesday, 17 June 2009
Mrs C, as you will recall, is a dodgy foreigner: Middle Eastern type, all long eyelashes, designer shoes and overly excitable behaviour. Thus, we follow the ups and down of Middle Eastern politics closely. What's going on in Iran right now has major ramifications for the global community, because:
1. If Mahmoud 'I'm-a-Dinner-Jacket' stays in power, bang goes any chance of stemming the flow of arms and cash to Hammas, which in turn keeps Hammas in power, which in turn means that Fatah will not get back into power, which in turn means that no deal between Israel and the Palestinians is possible, thus fucking over any chance of St Obama solving the Middle East crisis. Not good.
2. If Dinner-Jacket is propped up by the Supreme Leader and the Council of Guardians, then things are likely to get worse, which could push the Iranian Revolutionary Guard to topple the clerics and seize control. Not good either.
3. So the best outcome for world peace and all that, is for the Supreme Leader to dump Dinner-Jacket by saying the election result was miscounted, appoint Mir Hossein Mousavi as President and away we go.
Now, contrary to the usual portrayal in all the Western media about mad mullahs burning US flags etc, Iranian politics is always very tactical and cute. They have always been a very rational geopolitical player. Thus, boldly, I am going for option 3 above.
BTW, brilliant article on all this here.
Tuesday, 16 June 2009
1. Peace dividend - The Government has been flogging off old barracks and airbases since the fall of the Warsaw Pact in the early 90s, cashing in on the endless rise in land values in our property-led economy. (In my recent professional life, I have helped redevelop some of them).
2. Auction - Perhaps the greatest prize the MoD had was Chelsea barracks, a 13 acre site right in the middle of the most expensive corner of London. They had been trying to sell it for years. (In my past professional life, I was based there).
3. A couple of years ago, the now infamous doyen of the UK residential property boom, Candy and Candy - a couple of rather flashy and brash young men backed by lots of Middle Eastern money - stumped up just under a billion quid for the site. The market groaned as this was a considerable over valuation (nearer £250 million was expected) and was perhaps the moment many realised that a property crash was inbound. (I have met Candy and Candy. Their corporate HQ is like a set from a James Bond film. Absolute corporate vanity which reeks of an entirely unsustainable business built on a boom. It is currently imploding).
4. Lord Rogers - Such iconic sites almost always attract a trophy architect. Lord Rogers did not disappoint. A truly spectacular modernist vision was planned. (I've met him too. A surprisingly muddled thinker for such a big cheese. He is a one trick pony: he does modernist, tall and expensive......oh and ego!)
5. Prince Charles - Now Charles has for many years opined about architecture. Let us be clear, he has no architectural training and no experience but lots and lots of opinions. He only likes classical architecture and a group of so-called ‘classical architects’ has surrounded him, drooling over his every utterance. Having been born into a frumpy, 1950s, sycophantic cocoon and never having left it, he kind of thinks that his views on anything matter because….well he is the PoW. Thus, he entirely misses the point of his future role: keep one’s mouth shut, smile at the poor people, cut the ribbon and look regal. That way, the proles continue to like you and don't rise up and question your gilded lifestyle too much. (In my past professional life, I met him too. His mother and father are utterly brilliant people. I mean that. They are a totally class act. Charles is thick, vain and arrogant; a terrible mixture and bad news for the future of Monarchy plc).
6. Misreading by Qatar royal family - Charles decided that the modernist proposals for Chelsea barracks were not to his taste so sent one of his endless and boring letters to the Qatar royal family telling them so. Now in Qatar, the royal family rule everything so you can kind of understand them believing that if the British monarchy does not like the proposals, then they ought to change them so as to not upset their British kindred spirits.
7. Weak council officers - As ever, when confronted with a difficult political problem, the council officers running the day-to-day operations of Westminster Council have stuck their heads in the sand and instead of recommending approval of the scheme, have offered no recommendation, a little used way for local government civil servants to cop out of having to make a decision.
Putting aside what should get built at Chelsea barracks, there is a very fundamental issue at stake here: in a constitutional monarchy, what role does the monarch’s family have in local government decision-making? Answer: none. Prince Charles’ views should be no more influential than mine. Did he take part in the local consultation exercise mounted by the developer? No.
What should happen is that tonight, at Gordy’s weekly evening audience with Her Majesty, Gordy should tell her to get Charles to fuck off and mind his own business, and then quickly through diplomatic channels, get the Qatar royals to continue splashing their cash to redevelop the site, creating much needed jobs in a recession and much needed homes thereafter.
"In general terms, frankly, it matters little who wins the next election, presumably in June 2010. Why? Well, whoever wins - assuming NuLab actually still has a chance - they are going to have to carry out exactly the same policies: significant tax increases concurrent with massive public sector spending cuts. There simply is no other option. None. Null. Zero."
What I loved about yesterday's PMQ exchange was:
1. So confused, inward looking and out of touch are NuLab now, that they don't even know their own policies.
2. So seemingly on the ball now are the Tories that they know the fine print of NuLab's policies better than NuLab.
3. Finally, the hidden truth, the reality that we dare not speak of, is out in the open. We need to cut the bloated public sector.
On a tactical point, I thought Cameron could have made more of his 'gotcha' moment.
Not point scoring at all (much!) but I was one of not very many bloggers who clearly said that Gordy was not going anywhere. So, two questions:
1. How come much of the dead tree press and right of centre bloggers got this wrong?
I guess in part it was hope over reality. The dead tree journos wanted it to happen because that would be them sorted for copy for the next 2 months. And the right wing blogosphere were desperate for it because, having endured the ignominy of the Major years and such a crushing loss in 1997, seeing GB collapse Labour into a remnant of its former arrogant self was just enormous erection territory. All this, coupled with the frothy over excitement of the Westminster media village, led to people believing their own hopes rather than reality.
2. Why didn't Gordy get toppled?
Spineless NuLabs who have proved time and again that they are incapable of regicide, coupled with pathetic supine wimpiness when threatened by the nasty whips, alongside self interest in their own bank balance. The last few days is a prima facie example of why normal people distrust politicians and a demonstration of one of the contributing factors as to why election turnout has tumbled in the last few decades.
PS. No witty comments, Mr Dale?
I have been writing posts but just not able to post them. So here they all are one by one.
Monday, 8 June 2009
No the real losers no one is talking about. The real losers are...the Lib Dems.
They have had a truly terrible few days. Everyone knew that Labour was going to do badly. Everyone knew the Tories were going to do well (although they did better than many thought possible, perhaps even themselves). But no one saw the considerable falling away of the Lib Dems.
Fourth in Europe. Lost their heartlands in the county council elections. An unexpected fillip in Bristol meant that the media did not lay into them on Friday.
Awful result for Cleggy. If he cannot do well now, then when?
And I suspect that with fascists elected to the European Parliament for the first time by the British, the proportional representation bandwagon that had begun to roll recently in the Westminster village will subside quickly. Thank God.
Sunday, 7 June 2009
This is just political spin, or what we normal people call 'lying'.
The Lib Dems and all the other smaller parties naturally want to bang on about this as well because it suits them too. It is their Holy Grail. It is their key to electoral success. So let's just pause a moment and deal with this distraction once and for all.
The spin goes that PR is more fair, more balanced and more representative by being more proportional. Well, it is definitely more proportional and therefore THEORETICALLY in some ways more fair. But let's park theory and move on to practically, which at the end of the day is what politics is all about.
The reality of PR in this country would mean the following:
1. The public would, at almost every election in history, have lost the ability to chuck a party out of power decisively. No April 1997. No June 2010 (?!). Why? Because in almost every election we have ever had, the party that the public mood had moved significantly against would have been able to stitch up a coalition to keep them in power.
2. The Liberal Democrats would always be in Government. Why? Because either of the two largest parties would need their MPs to form a government coalition.
3. The BNP, UKIP, Greens, English Democrats (whoever they are?) and all the other mad, bad and loony small parties would hold seats in the Mother of all Parliaments. Why? Do the maths.
4. Coalition government is ALWAYS weak government, held to ransom by the minor coalition partners' views. Look around the world. Look at the European Parliament. Look at councils in no overall control across this country.
So if you want to lose one of the few real electoral powers we proles have, if you want one minor party always around the cabinet table, if you want fascists in Parliament, and if you want the UK to have weak governments, then PR is for you.
Can we move on from this cretinous issue now, please.
Saturday, 6 June 2009
Friday, 5 June 2009
I am not a Labour activist so I do now know the reality of how ill prepared they were on the ground for the campaign. But I do know this:
It was not how few leaflets they delivered or how poorly they targeted key wards. It was the fact that their Government has led the country into a recession, made it doubly bad by ensuring that our economy is in worse shape than any other developed economy, is now bereft of an agenda and is imploding on an hourly basis. That's what's done for you, John. And the fact that you can't see that, even now, shows how blind Labour is to the current situation.
There is a wonderful comment on Prezza's blog from a bloke called MathewF:
"Utter nonsense. First of all, Purnell says he isn’t standing for the leadership. How very cynical of you to suggest it John - you could almost be working for the Daily Mail. Perhaps you would like to reflect on your attack on Purnell’s character and publicly apologise to him. Are you big enough?
"Perhaps you might also want to reconsider the use of such intemperate language against comrades and fellow members of the Party. It brings us into disrepute - perhaps better to concentrate your attacks on the Tories? And secondly, we were going to lose these elections massively, before Hazel Blears resigned and Purnell (obviously) and Jacquie Smith and Bev Hughes, etc. All women. Perhaps you just don’t like strong women John?
"What has lost us this election is not lack of campaign skills or nice slogans (we have had too much spin, haven’t we?) or the need for more battlebuses, or pledge cards. This is toytown politics. We have lost these elections because we have no programme to put to the people. There is a vacuum at the heart of our Government. We do not know what we stand for as a Party anymore because Brown doesn’t appear to have any idea. He is not a Leader. The Party thinks so and so do the people.
"The most positive message Labour could put in the North West was Stop the BNP (a very necessary message) but what was our programme? Privatise the Royal Mail? Bail out the bankers? Replace Trident? Work the longest hours in Europe? Dilly dally over expenses reform? Always go for a short-term headline? Do in your colleagues? Give me a break.
"Unless and until we can give people a vision of a better, fairer society which will make a real difference to their lives - and for all your speeches and campaigning, they appear singularly unconvinced by 11 years of a Labour Government - we will never regain their trust. We need a fundamental re-think about where we are going and how we want to get there.
"And we need to regain people’s trust. This would be helped if ALL the people we have elected behaved themselves. You personally can’t wriggle off the hook and shirk your share of responsibility for the corrosive cynicism with which ordinary people now view politics, politicians and the political process.
"So don’t assassinate other people’s characters. Most of all we need a new leader who can communicate, connect and earn the trust and respect of the British people. No matter what you say, that Leader is clearly not Gordon Brown."
Need I say more.
Why no prosecutions?
1. After the botched 'cash for honours' and Damian Green investigations, the police do not want a third and are looking for any excuse to not have to get involved.
2. If the Fees Office cleared the claims, then it's difficult to find any individual MP at fault.
One rule for us....
Obama shakes the geopolitical tree on his Middle East tour. War rages in Afghanistan. Iraq stumbles towards peace. Iran's still sabre rattling.
The UK Government is in turmoil. Ministers resigning everywhere. Open NuLab internecine warfare. Dire election results tumbling in. PM in mid cabinet reshuffle.
And what does the No 10 website tell us today?
Home page - Government to move forward on constitutional renewal
News page - PM marks anniversary of fall of Polish communism
Is the website team off sick? Have they been reshuffled too?
Labour backbenchers have no balls, as it is proven once again that they cannot seem to ever organise a coup.
Dave. He will have a wounded, discredited PM left in place. Open goal until General Election day.
Having said that, all you bollockless NuLab MPs out there, can the disaster of Monday's Euro results not rouse you from your stupor?
Thursday, 4 June 2009
On the eve of an election, a cabinet minister gave a clearly hastily arranged live interview appealing to Labour MPs not to dump their prime minister any further in the shit.
But then in recent days we have seen some bizarre TV. The sight of a Government minister being forced to make Government policy live on air.....by an actress and an assembled company of ex-Gurkhas. Or the spectacle of elected politicians trying to justify fraud or ethically dubious behaviour in live interviews.
We are back to those mad roller coaster days that characterised the last few months of Major's premiership.
My bold prediction of yesterday looks more tenuous by the hour! But Gordy's future hangs on two things:
Has a significant group – and by that I mean I guess around 8-10 – of senior NuLab MPs got the balls to say no to Brown's offer of a cabinet post over the weekend or have 70 Labour MPs got the balls to sign a letter telling Brown to go.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how the Government of the United Kingdom will be decided.
Wednesday, 3 June 2009
Well here I go again: I can see no way that Gordy will either resign or call an election anytime soon, despite the media frenzy and The Sun's Paul Kavanagh saying he'll be gone in a week.
Why? Well, apart from the political editors of the dead tree press, he is under no real pressure to do so. Are there any plots being detailed, day by day, in the press like all through the latter years of Blair's premiership or even last summer when Milliband bottled it? No. Are there Labour backbenchers charging around calling for him to go? No.
The NuLab big hitters don't want the poisoned chalice now, preferring a run at it after the forthcoming General Election. The myriad of backbenchers who will lose their seats are not suddenly going to behave like turkeys voting for Christmas.
So, I see no real pressure. Yes a few deadbeat ministers have resigned before they were ritually slaughtered but so what?
Option 1 - Thrown out of office and prosecuted
Option 2 - Salary and allowances of around £250k pa to spend as you like until the next election, about another £100k in loss of office allowances, the most generous public sector final salary pension scheme ever, to keep the profit on the 2nd property the taxpayer kindly bought for you, and membership of the Association of Former MPs, giving you a Commons pass (which no doubt will help in your new role as a commercial lobbyist).
Did you guess right?
Option 1 - Any likely successor, who would take on the absolute fag end of this Parliament and then face certain death in a few months in a General Election
Option 2 - The media who would be guaranteed acres of coverage for months
Hmmm. I wonder who is stoking this story?
Tuesday, 2 June 2009
Politics aside, I hope old Luke gets better. I need you to occasionally rant about, Luke. To make Luke feel better, as if I can help, I have added his blog to my blogroll.
Keep blogging Luke.
"It is not just Ferry and his supporters who think he was hard done by. Even the judge who had presided over his case after Ferry was accused of perverting the course of justice could not hide his anger at the defendant's treatment when the charge was dropped."
In the normal course of events, none of this would trouble me. But then today this, an article in today's Metro covering the Home Affairs Select Committee report on knife crime. It included this choice line:
"...just one in five of those caught with a knife was jailed in the last three months of last year, the report revealed."
WTF? Did I read this right? The taxpayer has paid for some dumb assed Hooray Henry to get banged up for four months for a whole load of utterly irrelevant and trivial crap and where it turned out there was not enough evidence to prosecute him in any case, but 80% of those who get caught walking around toting a potential murder weapon just get a caution or a non-custodial sentence. Fucking hellski. What the fucking fuck is going on around here?
Oh, but it gets even madder when you read on. Keith Vaz, the Home Affairs Select Committee chairman and well known utter wanking tosspot, said this:
"'We are seeing a spiralling of the arms race as far as knife crime is concerned,. Young people carry knives because they fear that others are carrying knives. We are clearly failing them."
No we're fucking not you moronic asshole, you are failing us by not making sure that (a) they are educated and (b) they are locked up when they commit a crime. Fuckwit.
And his solution? He goes on to call for a Downing Street summit on the issue. OMG. How NuLab's love calling for summits. I have covered summitry before (here) but let's just remind ourselves of what they are about. If there is one certain rule in life, it is this: when politicians announce a 'summit' you know that:
a. they're in the shit
b. that means that we poor proles are in the shitter with them
c. they have absolutely no idea how to get out of the shit, and
d. they are desperate to be seen to do something to deflect attention from c above
The article ends with a classic NuLab quote from another total thieving tosspot:
"But Home Secretary Jacqui Smith insisted: 'Through tougher sentencing we are carrying out a clear message."
Yup. Tougher sentencing. 80% chance of no prison sentence for wandering the streets with a potential murder weapon. NuLab spin is alive and well.
Monday, 1 June 2009
For the slick circus promoter, read a TV production company.
For the afflicted freaks (hairy ladies, the world's smallest man, the world's tallest woman, half man/half monkey etc), read celebrity crazed morons seeking their 15 minutes of fame.
What goes around, comes around.
But in 21st century Britain instead of the freaks scratching a living in a travelling circus, their holy grail is the possibility of a year of million pound earnings.
How did we come to this?
Not that this isn't huge news but who else would The Sun support? The 'NuLab love in' has long since passed.
But factor in that this is a News International paper, where the proprietor (one Rupert Murdoch) has a history of being involved in that particular decision, and who is someone that all main parties try and court. Now that makes it much more interesting.
But here's an even more interesting question: what is the ongoing relationship going to be like between the next Tory Government and The Daily Telegraph? Now that really is interesting.