Friday, 31 December 2010

Tweet of the day - 31 Dec 2010

the last tweet-of-the-day for this year comes from "Lord" Alan Sugar, betraying his Lefty leanings from his typical attitude toward others thus:

"Chubby Martin Samuels Daily Liar(Mail)joins Lords debate gets it wrong again! stick to your Jewish Chronicle column yr NYR go on diet, liar"

He followed this up a little later with this:

"By the way Fatty Samuals( DailyLiar- Mail).I dont take any expenses at the house of Lords.Its just a great honour to be a member, you tosser"

Nice fellow! Typical Labour-supporting lefty, though...

Cameron New Year message

Sound only, as a podcast here. It's much as one would expect from David Cameron, in his usual style and with little (if anything) that's new or unexpected, but it's good solid stuff and easy to listen to and understand. Worth spending five minutes or so.

For those who'd prefer to read the words for themselves, the transcript is here.

Welcome to the real world

This is a suitable message to the rioting students (and others) involved in the protests in recent weeks. They are about to learn the law of cause-and-effect.

As Guido has picked up (I honestly hadn't even thought to look for this myself) yesterday's poll by Angus Reid shows that Britons are "saddened, ashamed and disgusted" by the student demonstrations, and a substantial majority of those polled would be in favour of the introduction of water cannon to deal with the violence that usually accompanies those events. They also favour the so-called "kettling" technique by police.

Whether or not introducing water cannon would necessarily be the right way to go - and there are con's as well as pro's - something certainly needs to be done to protect bystanders and others, and property. It is only the behaviour at the protests so far that has produced this poll result; and it demonstrates very clearly that the students now have little public support.

Whose fault is that? It's a no-brainer, isn't it.


Cause and effect - QED!

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Tweet of the day - 30 Dec 2010

From Iain Dale, after having read Labour MP Chris Bryant's somewhat poor attempt at poetry (which starts off reasonably okay and then goes horribly wrong):

"A plea to @chrisbryantmp - Don't give up the day job"

Even more amusingly, Bryant appears to have taken this as Dale appreciating him as an MP and wanting him to stay on, as he tweeted (about half an hour later, and seemingly without a trace of sarcasm or irony):

"@iaindale Thanks, Iain."

Perhaps the Labour MP isn't familiar with that well-established expression "don't give up the day job"...

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Tweet of the day - 29 Dec 2010

From the Labour MP Tom Harris to John Rentoul:

"The AV referendum Labour promised was all about "short term tactical gain" in the first place."

He obviously had a response back from Rentoul, as just a dozen or so minutes later he then tweeted this back to him:

"I don't doubt it, but fact is it was one of GB's bright, last gasp attempts to win over LibDems. Nothing to do with principle."

This is something many of us already knew, of course, but it is good to have a Labour MP admit that this whole "AV referendum manifesto promise" was really just party politics and had nothing to do with improving our country's electoral system.

It is therefore small wonder that 114 (so far) Labour MPs have stated that they will vote No2AV, now that the election is over and they are no longer in government. They probably never believed in the policy in the first place, but were stuck with it pre-election. That no longer applies.

Quit kits

I'm in two minds about dishing out free nicotine patches. If it hadn't been for the existence of "quit kits" I'd have said it would be hard to justify this latest idea. After all, there are plenty of aids already available from chemists and on-line. It can't be the cost, as it's far cheaper than the tobacco products such potential remedies replace.

Why should we subsidise the quitters from tax money?

However, as the "quit kits" already exist, and if they are not to be scrapped, at least for now, then this limited-time freebie will at least add to the chances of the kits achieving some success, so it's probably better to include them (or coupons for them, in practice) than not to do so. It won't add significantly the the annual budget for the kits.

Beyond this short-term offer, I do wonder whether, in the present economic climate, there is any justification for keeping the "quit kits" idea, at least as a freebie. Perhaps they should be sold in shops or by mail order from suitable outlets.

It really is about time that tobacco products were treated as some kind of special case. They're not, and never have been. They should be treated exactly the same as all other actual drugs, and either all banned or all allowed. Just as long as the rest of us are (somehow) fully protected against, fumes, breath or emanations off clothing, that should suffice. Of course, we do have a problem with the cost to the NHS of all drug-related (and misuse of other substances) illness, and that has become a rod for our own back, in a manner of speaking.

Perhaps one day we shall have no NHS, or at least not in its present form, and we'll all be required to have health insurance as in other countries. That way, the market can make the whole system work without drug addicts costing the public purse as they do in Britain today. No-one could then complain, and perhaps a more libertarian approach might actually work better - provided those safeguards for the rest of us were in place (i.e. no drug consumption in any public or communal area not specifically set aside for the purpose). They might also be required to have private health insurance before they can buy the drugs (yes, I know that's not perfect, as others could buy them on their behalf but it's a start).

I suspect such a trade-off would be acceptable to all sides in the debate, including those who want recreational drugs legalised.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Tweet of the day - 28 Dec 2010

From Guido:
"Guardian has an article calling for boycott of corporations that use offshore fronts, presumably author unaware of GMG (Caymans) Ltd?"

("GMG" is "Guardian Media Group", the owners of The Guardian newspaper!)

Smoke and mirrors

The big political story today is The Independent's report on Ed Miliband's new wheeze to appear to distance the Labour party from big Trades Union donations, and also looks to reduce the Unions' vote proportion in the party's future leadership contests. This looks decidedly fishy when one reads it carefully
  • The new scheme seems to be in reality just a way to hide the Unions' involvement in funding Ed's party by splitting it into millions of smaller regular donations (the current default-is-on, you-have-to-formally-opt-out Political Levy in another guise) all within a new "cap" of £500. This would be its first impact of three (at least) significant effects.
  • The second effect of such a cap, which Ed would apply to all donations to all the country's political parties if he should ever become PM, would be to disadvantage all the other parties, who don't get significant Union funding, if any.
  • The third result, leading on from this, would be that the Unions would effectively have the power to buy and thus possess (i.e. control) nearly all of our politics - which, as I have written before, is Red's real job while party leader. Indeed, it might help him to remain leader beyond the 2015 election if he is to introduce it personally.
All of this can be deduced from a careful reading of all that is currently in the public domain.

I was therefore interested to see that my initial suspicions have been confirmed by Jim Pickard at the FT Westminster Blog. He goes a stage further in the way the policy could be battled out between the two traditional parties' leaderships; but I'd suggest that all other parties should also oppose any attempt to introduce this oh-so-crafty scheme, as they will all lose out and only Labour will then still be a powerful force in our politics.

All others will be completely marginalised by starving them of funding!

As for the changes regarding Union voting power in the party leadership contests from a third to a quarter: I suspect this is just part of the camouflage to hide the real agenda regarding funding, and my suspicious mind tells me that there is probably a counterbalancing offer that isn't yet public. I also suspect that a way has been devised to get around that, and/or a way to quietly return the figure to a third in a couple of years or so, when no-one is watching, or so they'll hope.

UPDATE: the ever-alert and insightful Peter Hoskin has elaborated on the Pickard piece in a couple of useful ways, in his customary concise form of writing, so it is worth spending two minutes reading. His conclusion, that the whole thing is merely a ruse, is interesting. I wonder if he could be right...

Afraid of the people

It is often said, quite rightly, that a government should be in fear of its people, and not the other way around. Of course, in Communist and other left-run dictatorships, the latter is the norm and the people live (and often die, sometimes in large numbers) in fear of their country's government.

The more democratically-minded MPs such as Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless, and MEP Daniel Hannan - all Conservatives - are well known to be strong advocates of true "people power", from open primaries for candidate selection to greater public access to parliamentary business.

It is no surprise that it is the Conservatives who have been committed to giving the people of this nation access to parliamentary debating time, and they are now introducing e-petition access, whereby any on-line petition (at a website set up specifically for this purpose) with sufficient support will guarantee a parliamentary debate within a year. This is great news!

Oh, except for dictatorial parties, of course. Therefore it comes as just as little a surprise to find Labour MPs already opposing the very idea of e-petitions. Paul Flynn MP (whose writings I have been keeping an eye on, and haven't been at all impressed by his outlook) seems to have been the first out of the traps, claiming that e-petitions:

"would put power in the hands of the obsessed and the fanatical"

No, they wouldn't! There is no power in a petition, as anyone who has had any experience with them will already know. The decision would be by parliament, exactly as at present. It would certainly be a lot more open and accessible than the decades-old practice of lobbying outfits getting their wishes so often, arranged behind closed doorss, using a parallel methodology not available to the public at large.

Indeed, several (at the time) Labour MPs, including former ministers Stephen Byers, Patricia Hewitt and Geoff Hoon, were caught out by TV reporters earlier this year, selling their services to what they believed was a lobbying firm. Watch this as a reminder:


Dictators don't like to allow their citizens to have any power or influence over them at all, or to be directly answerable to the public, so Labour wouldn't have been expected to welcome this governmental initiative. A side-effect of the e-petition policy is that it has once again brought Labour's true nature into public view, so overall this is a win-win for the British people!

UPDATE: This from Glyn Davies MP is a good (in favour) take on this idea, and makes some of the same points I have above, along with some others.

Monday, 27 December 2010

Agreement on 50p tax rate

Apparently Alan Johnson now agrees with Ed Miliband that the 50p tax rate will be needed at the time of the 2015 election.

Why am I reminded of the fourth Star Trek movie, "The Voyage Home", where they're in Dr Gillian's pickup truck and deciding what to dine on that evening. Spock at first says he doesn't like Italian cuisine, but in the end, after a bit of to-ing and fro-ing with Kirk, he says he does. Interestingly, in the event Spock gets left behind anyway.

I wonder whether the same will apply to Johnson...

Cruise missile

Oh dear! Who decided to launch John Prescott of all people into cruise ship entertainment?

Yes, I know he was once a steward on cruise ships, but (at least according to the Mail) has hardly made a success of his latest foray, that of providing the 'entertainment' on board the Queen Mary II. Who in his or her right mind would have commissioned Prescott, of all people, for this gig? It seems almost beyond belief!

Passengers witnessing his first night have apparently claimed that Prescott:
"gave a stumbling performance, tripping over his words and losing his notes several times before launching into risqué jokes."
Follow the above link for an example of his milder gags, about knickers he acquired for Mrs Prescott...

Altogether, not exactly an impressive start to his new career!

I just hope that the international clientele on board the QM II don't take Prescott as a typical example of British humour - though it has to be said that the standards of lefty 'comedians' on BBC game shows does tend to reinforce such a view...

Global Warping

It is good to see that the Warmists' deception, as an excuse to tax and dictate to us, is now becoming more evident.

Here is a pair of over-the-pole views of teh Arctic showing the situation today (on the right) and how it was twelve years ago, almost to the day, on the left. It is very clear that there is a far healthier ice-cap there now than there was back in 1998.


I suspect that the aerial/satellite views in, say, Google Earth/Google Maps would have shown this too, but - strangely - that part of the Earth has been cropped out of view (I've just checked). Still, what is shown does rather suggest that the Antarctic region is still very much frozen, and there hasn't been any sudden change in the north/south 'balance' of the world, so it seems reasonable to conclude that the University of Illinois' images as above aren't faulty or misleading.

So, the only question now remaining is: what do the Warmists do now that their whole argument (from this and a number of other pieces of evidence regarding just about all of their claims) can be conclusively demolished?

(Tip o' the hat to Old Rightie for the image.)

Sunday, 26 December 2010

The N[eg]ativity according to Labour

Political Scrapbook - a lefty blog-site - has predictably enough written a modern-day version of the Nativity pitching the Coalition's leading lights in a negative manner. It's fairly dire stuff, and unsurprisingly is based on the diversionary tactic" of highlighting any public spending reductions or changes and saying how "nasty" they are. They equally predictably) term them "Tory cuts" as a further deflection from reality, trying to re-write recent history.

Well, of course, as anyone not ignorant or dishonest already knows, spending cuts are a direct result of Labour's spendthrift nature and excessive borrowing/debt - that is the one-and-only "switch" that means cuts or no cuts. There is no other significant component.

We know all of that, and how reconfiguring services and the rest can (and generally seems to be) an opportunity to improve them and tailor them better to actual needs, not as a Labour vote-recruitment exercise as most of Labour's policies always were at their core.

Now, if I were to concoct a similar story, but far more truthfully, I'd have to point out that Jesus was no Socialist and would never have approved of much of what Labour has done and still intends to do if ever returned to national government.

For example, useless go-between officials, intruding and interfering in everyone's lives at considerable cost were anathema to him, which is why he overturned the money-changers' tables at the synagogue. Today we have no end of similar bureaucrats, all living off the public purse - though at least that is now being addressed, but only because of the change of government away from Labour.

While respecting authority and law-givers, Jesus did not approve of the abuse or misuse of power to allow those in charge to benefit from enslaving, over-taxing or otherwise diminishing the people at large.

Jesus also would not have approved of his followers being marginalised by an anti-Christian government agenda, and indeed having his followers targeted more or less freely by preachers of hate from other faiths that had been allowed to be distorted (by Satan and compliant evil men) in that direction. Again, that is now changing in Britain, if slowly, but it never did and never would have done at all under Labour: the trend was a worsening one, and that would have continued.

There are dozens of other examples I could cite, but I'm sure you've got the idea.

As always, Labour and the left are dishonest, nasty, and the real cause of most of our ills, and no-one with any sense will surely ever want them in charge or trust them again, on anything - even blog posts!

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Spare a thought for Santa

It's not easy operating in today's world:



Tip o' the hat to Daniel Hannan for posting this today!

Friday, 24 December 2010

Ed on manouevres

I like Peter Hoskin at the Spectator's Coffee House blog. His writing is very much in tune with how I perceive matters and his (to some extent) insider knowledge means he can write perceptive yet still very accessible posts on a broad range of political topics.

Take his writings over the past day or so. First, we have here a perfectly good assessment of our good pal Ed Miliband's sudden media/public visibility. Guido knows what lies behind this, of course: the appointment of Tom Baldwin (from The Times) as Red's communications bod (well, one of them, it would seem) has propelled Miliband's lacklustre presence into something a notch or two more visible and perhaps even more memorable. Kudos to Red for realising that he needed such people if he wasn't going to fade into the background. Here's some more from Guido on Baldwin.

Back to Peter Hoskin: today he writes about the Telegraph's "sting" operation, and how Labour (including Red Ed) can and inevitably will use those disclosures to attack the coalition and in particular the Liberal Democrats - their target for months now. Being the sharp cookie that he is, Hoskin realises that this approach could misfire as, if anything, the disclosures could actually strengthen the coalition.

This is one of those interesting "heads they win, tails we lose" scenarios for Labour: whatever they do or don't do will, because of their very nature, have a negative impact on their fortunes. Even with Tom Baldwin and others spinning for them, and pulling all manner of rabbits out of the hat, it is the destructive nature of Labour that is likely to be their undoing, come what may. They just can't change their spots, any more than the leopard can.

The likes of Hoskin are clearly very well aware of all of this, and through a factual and plain-speaking style (along with a little insight) can convey the all-important messages such as the Lib Dem achievements in coalition, not trying to make it look a failure, and can thus help a wavering and uncertain public realise who it is who are doing good things for the country and who are pursuing purely their own selfish (and negative, regressive) ends.

Ed's manoeuvres might be grabbing some media attention for the moment, but there's still no substance in them, merely knocking his political opponents. The British public will rightly want more than that, and no amount of spin and/or public exposure will substitute for a positive and credible message from Ed and his team.

Tweet of the day - 24 Dec 2010

From Conservative MP Greg Hands, complete with a link to a Guardian article on the book he mentions:

"Seldon book says Brown did 2.5 days prep each week for 30min PMQs. No wonder Govt decision making ground to halt. http://tinyurl.com/396cmnc"

Well, it takes time to "save the world", or at least to prepare to say so at PMQs and yet still mess it up!

Thursday, 23 December 2010

General Election votes

Just as an exercise, I thought it might be worth listing the "top twenty" parties by numbers of votes each received in last May's General Election.

This does include the 'nationalist' parties that stand in only one country of the United Kingdom, and some others put up candidates in only a few constituencies, so that needs to be borne in mind.

Even so, it is still interesting to do it this way, rather than by number of seats:
  1. 10,726,814 - Conservatives
  2. 8,609,527 - Labour
  3. 6,836,824 - Lib Dem
  4. 920,334 - UKIP
  5. 563,743 - BNP
  6. 491,385 - SNP 
  7. 285,616 - Green
  8. 171,942 - Sinn Fein
  9. 168,216 - DUP
  10. 165,394 - Plaid Cymru
  11. 110,970 - SDLP
  12. 102,361 - Ulster Conservatives & Unionists
  13. 64,826 - English Democrats
  14. 42,762 - Alliance Party
  15. 33,251 - Respect-Unity Coalition
  16. 26,300 - Traditional Unionist Voice
  17. 18,623 - Christian Party
  18. 16,150 - Independent Community & Health Concern
  19. 12,275 - Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition
  20. 3,157 - Scottish Socialist Party
Note that only the "big three" parties were in the millions of votes, and only the Conservatives went into eight figures. Also note that the Greens received fewer than half the votes that the BNP got, and well under a third of UKIP's number. They're still next to nowhere in the public support stakes, even if they did manage to win a seat in Brighton, which is about the only place they could have done.

Finally, it's good to see parties with the word "Socialist" in their names (i.e. almost certainly Communist subversives in reality) are right down the bottom of the list. Apart from a very few hard-liners, no-one in Britain wants that kind of outfit here!

Tweet of the day - 23 Dec 2010

From Andrew Sparrow (so yes, a little bird told me) of The Guardian:

"Barack Obama was nicknamed 'Spock' by British government officials"
I'd have said he's perhaps more like Tuvok; but see what you think from the Spock-alike picture at left, and the Tuvok-alike picture below, both of which I found on-line.

Red and Redder

A guest post from John Ward of Medway...

There is an important post for all Londoners, at CyberBoris, where AngelNeptuneStar has put together some hard facts that, when seen in that light, tell of much that those voting in the 2012 London mayoral election need to know.

Here are her three crucial facts about Ken Livingstone and his 'running mate' Val Shawcross, and I've also 'borrowed' her picture (Val is at the far left - where else?!) to illustrate the point:

  1. On 7 December Ken Livingstone selected Val Shawcross as his “Deputy Mayoral Running Mate” against Boris Johnson.
  2. Just eight days later on 15 December Val Shawcross was “caught on camera” picketing with Tube Unions the RMT and TSSA in support of the wave of tube strikes that have caused so much misery to Londoners.
  3. Until just days ago, Ken Livingstone ran his campaign to be the Labour candidate for Mayor of London from the HQ of the Tube Union TSSA.
Do follow the link and keep reading what Angel has written, as it is now obvious what the plan is and why; and it certainly won't be fun for commuting Londoners next year!

Tory-led government

This was Ed Miliband's instruction to Labour MPs and activists: to refer to the government not as "the Coalition" but as the "Tory-led" Government. The term has been applied consistently by Labour bods ever since.

Okay, if (as usual) the left wish to tweak the language to further their narrative, then I think a little 'sauce for the gander' is in order. How about the rest of referring to Labour as the "Trade Union-controlled opposition" from now on? It's at least as accurate!

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Desperate for members

That's the Labour party. If you're under 27 years of age you can now join for just one "pence" (sic) - see here.

Interesting that they either don't realise that 'one' is singular, or that 'pence' is plural!

Practising what you preach

Ed Miliband has, as expected tried to make some kind of impression by spouting off about one topic or another, especially Labour favourites such as the Minimum Wage.

Dizzy, ever the geek, has been watching what Ed Mili-supported projects are doing to lead the way by showing they are prepared to put their policies into practice internally. This would have shown that they were at least feasible.

Sadly it is not to be: the Labour Yes [to AV] Campaign is paying its staff well under the Miliband Minimum Wage (£5.83 per hour rather than the £7.60 Red wants); and Ed's pledge to pay interns that rate is rather blown out of the water with this tale of an expenses-and-lunch-allowance only intern post, again with Labour Yes.

Of course, Labour exempting themselves from their own rules is hardly new, and is a classic symptom of actual and would-be dictators the world over. It is yet another clue about Labour's real outlook and how they view the rest of us as their servants whom they rule as the self-appointed "elite". All of Labour has been like that ever since the Fabians (who are currently spinning furiously for 'Red Ed', I notice) turned the old, decent Labour movement into a Communist-style tool of their purpose many decades ago.

Steve Gibbons Band

As other bloggers are posting Christmas-related videos round about now, I thought I'd take a slightly different tack and showcase talent that has performed around my home area.

Okay, there isn't a great deal of that available on-line, but here is the Steve Gibbons Band performing at my local pub a couple of years ago:

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

The easiest prediction

Yes, I have for some time predicted that 2011 will be the real battleground between the Communists (and suchlike) and the Government. The student riots were just the precursor, and now that those pulling the strings and manipulating protests into violent conflicts can move to the next phase.

With the positioning of Len McCluskey as the Unite union's new General Secretary, preparations can now begin in earnest for next year's planned (and far worse than what we have seen to date) clashes between the political left and right - for that is what this is really all about, an ideological war using the gullible and the malleable as pawns against the elected Coalition (if not elected specifically on that basis) Government and, as always with the left, putting their own agenda above the interests of the nation.

Well, at least they're consistent!

McCluskey's predictable offerings, reported in The Guardian over the past weekend, show this very clearly. Even allying with the students is included, rather giving the game away to anyone sharp-minded enough to have foreseen that connection. We saw it coming, and knew all along!

Reading through the Guardian article I linked to above, including the bullet points in the latter half, demonstrates that this is indeed a political and not a genuine Union exercise: there are several give-aways in there. It demonstrates what those of us who were around  in the 80s well recall: public sector Union leaders don't have to be very bright, merely militant lefties (preferably Communists or equivalent)!

Anyway, we're in for at least one year of really nasty stuff going on, so gird your loins (or whatever one does these days) because it could in just a few weeks from now.

Wince at Vince

The highly egotistical Vince Cable is in more trouble than is really warranted, after having been "stung" by three Telegraph people into doing what he does best - and most - which is to talk his head off, usually (as in this case) about his own significance.

This has been able to be used to stir up something of a hornet's nest, as he has claimed (when talking to what he had been led to believe were activists from his own party) that he can always walk out of the coalition if he is "pushed too far" and (he thinks) bring the government down.

I don't think so: the first yes, but the second no!

David Laws, as the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, was in a far more significant position that Vince's job as Business Secretary, and Laws's departure hardly "brought the government down", so Cable's claim hardly enhances his reputation for understand much about how real government works. Of course, the Lib Dems don't exactly have a track record in that regard...

Cable is just a silly old fool (as commentators have been saying for a long time, especially during these past two days) with a very lefty background, who has been so obviously uncomfortable with the coalition with the Tories that everyone is already expecting him to walk out at the slightest provocation anyway.

There can be no bombshell from Cable!

So, however much the media play this up, it really isn't of any consequence. The only effect this whole incident will have is going to be even further distrust of the media, including those who pose as party activists (i.e. the dishonest ones).

It won't be the first time that has happened, and for similar reasons; but it all adds to the divide between politicians as a group and the rest of society, when they end up pushed into a mind-set like Private Fraser from the Dad's Army closing sequence, looking about him in an almost panic-stricken manner and suspicious of everything (and, in this case, everyone) around him:


In conclusion: no-one is going to benefit from the Telegraph's scam in the long run - but it's done now and there's no turning the clock back.

UPDATE 22 Dec: it seems that others have come to much the same conclusions that I have, including Jonathon Isaby and Paul Goodman, among others.

UPDATE 24 Dec: Guido has run a poll on whether people believe Vince could bring down the Coalition by resigning. Out of well over four thousand responses, nearly 90% said "no" and under 8% said "yes".

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Red the monk

It's such a pity that The Times has vanished behind a so-called 'paywall', as it still has some good material (though it has been somewhat variable in quality for several years). The latest is a couple of quotes from Labour MPs regarding their current leader, Red Ed.

Fortunately, for the non-subscribers among us, Peter Hoskin at The Spectator has those quotes for us; so as they are now out in the public domain I copy them below.

First MP:
"We've got a new nickname for him: the monk, because he wants two years of quiet contemplation to work out what he's going to do." 
(Ha ha! I like it!)

Second MP:
"I give him 18 months. Tops."
As for the first of those: anyone who supported Bonkers Brown cannot be entirely sane, so as a kind of 'mad monk' perhaps Ed Mili should be known as Redsputin. I am tempted to refer to him thus in future...

I think the second of the above comments is more accurate than might be thought by some pundits, for the reasons I have spelled out before - once he has enacted Union-favourable reforms within the Labour party so that the big Unions can take over completely then Red can be dumped, probably to be replaced by one of their recently-elected people such as Jack Dromey. That might look to be a strange choice, by the way; but if it does happen remember where you read it first!

If however he isn't shunted out at or around that time, then my original thoughts (based on the sheer difficulty there is under Labour's constitution in getting rid of a leader) stand, and he will remain in place until after the 2015 General Election (on the assumption that it doesn't come sooner than 2015).

Meanwhile, in traditional Communist tradition, Red seeks to manipulate language to convey the message he wants people to hear. Instead of "the Coalition Government" (its correct title) he wants to change this, via Labour MPs, to "the Tory-led Government". "Tory" isn't really a valid name anyway, though convenient as shorthand, and certainly isn't correct as a party of government name, even in part. Thus we again see the perpetual dishonesty of Red Labour, reverting to its old trickery. Instead of policies, Red Ed has only Cultural Marxism (of which language manipulation is a part) to offer...

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Look in The Mirror

Following on from my previous post, I notice (thanks to Fraser Nelson pointing it out!) that even the Mirror's own polling (by ComRes) shows just a sixth of respondents (17%) thinking that Ed Miliband has turned out to be a good leader, and not much over a third of Labour supporters among those polled holding that view (39%).

That's not good!

It has been a similar story at Ipsos MORI, whose poll just a few days ago showed (among other interesting figures) that only an eighth of Labour supporters think Ed is doing 'excellently', and a full fifth of those same Labour supporters think he is doing a poor job.

That's even worse than at ComRes!

Where else can Red now turn for support, if even the reddest of the red-tops produces this humiliatingly bad result and other pollsters confirm the negative messages?

If you really want to know

"Look in the Mirror". So went the old slogan for the Daily Mirror, though it is generally regarded as just about the worst of the red-tops in terms of partiality and sheer spin. As good buddies of Labour (which in itself tells us a lot!) they spin for them all the time, and exemplify all that is bad about the political left.

For sheer delusional writing, Gordon Brown's piece in today's Mirror (though seemingly credited to one Barry Rabbetts!) takes the biscuit. Of course, there is no editorial critique of this typically Gordon-esque column, which isn't that unusual; but there also aren't any comments being allowed - I wonder why...

As for the content: as always with Brown, he seems to think that he knows what he is and has been doing, he has the answers and the thirteen years of Labour in government were the "right" way for the country. Now he is having a go at the Coalition Government for trying to sort out the mess he left behind. It really is delusional stuff and with nothing new to say, though no doubt it'll be lapped up by that rag's readership such as it is. The rest of us will recognise it for what it is; and Fraser Nelson has Tweeted that it demonstrates "Brown's single most defining quality: shamelessness."

Of course, if Brown really wanted to know the truth about the problems facing this country, all he has to do is follow the advice in that old slogan and look in the mirror.

Not that he is the only Labour MP still trying to suggest black is white. Gisela Stuart has today Tweeted:
"cameron still hasn't got it about Europe. We want a reduction of the budget!"
Interesting, isn't it? Labour were the ones signing treaties, allowing huge budgetary inflation within the EU and increasing our contribution during the preceding dozen years or so. David Cameron has achieved something akin to a budget freeze in the EU for a number of years to come, and is the only one to do so since the days of John Major! With all that had been set up by Labour beforehand, and with the sheer weight power of the EU bureaucracy, this is a considerable achievement and will suffice for today.

No doubt this is the first milestone in a long programme of reforms and changes to be tackled...

What's wrong with these Labour people? Oh yes, their whole philosophy is based around spin, lies and deception, so I suppose this shouldn't come as a surprise. If only people in the country weren't still taken in by them, in large enough numbers to make a real difference, we'd be rid of them as none of them would ever be voted in as an MP or anything else.

I do wish people would learn this lesson and learn it well: Labour have dishonesty institutionalised in their party, and it will probably never change!

Tweet of the day - 18 Dec 2010

From Matt Chorley, from his personal Twitter account (he is also political correspondent for the Independent on Sunday):
"#PoliticalAdventCalendar Day 18: Philip Hammond apologises to football supporters waiting in the snow as the grit hits a fan"

(This hasn't actually happened, by the way: it was just a play on words!)

Friday, 17 December 2010

Ed above water

At least, Labour sources are trying to suggest that Red is doing okay. His current approval rating is +1.

A good example of this spin can be found at Labour List, who are trying to suggest that Ed Miliband is actually scoring higher in the leader approval ratings than any of a series of four Conservative party leaders, also in opposition at the time, at a similar stage in their leaderships (i.e. 3 months in).

Unfortunately the figures they quote tell a different story, on the whole. Here's the relevant chunk from LabourList (placed on the public record here, just in case they decide to amend it later):
"The comparative MORI polls from previous opposition leaders puts him in much better light. Hague was 22-28 satisfied-dissatisfied after three months; IDS 24-22; Howard 30-22; Cameron 32-19 while Miliband was at 35-34."
Yes, that puts Hague at minus six; but Iain Duncan Smith works out at plus two, Michael Howard at plus eight (not bad!), and David Cameron at plus thirteen (impressive!) no less. Thus only Hague had a lower score than Red in this direct comparison. Are the contributors to Labour List innumerate, or what?

Meanwhile, Ed Mili is in reality sinking; but if Labour are unwilling to face up to that fact, well, so much the better for the political right!

However did we cope?

How did we cope as a society before all these State hand-outs were put in place to "buy" the loyalty of their recipients to a Labour government as the sole provider of these benefits?

The latest political football is of course the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA), described by Guido as "dole for teenagers". As with all such new-style benefits, they aren't their to produce a "benefit" to society, only to the Labour party. After all, we coped perfectly well before they existed, and the world hasn't changed all that much since those times. Yes, it's entirely artificial, and the EMA can certainly go, especially as it was based around now out-of-date criteria anyway.

Whether or not it should be replaced by something else that is better attuned to the perceived needs of today is a good question. I suspect that it shouldn't be replaced at all; however real-world politics undoubtedly requires an in-between stage before (I hope) scrapping the idea completely. Why should we subsidise tomorrow's high earners in any way?

If they have any strength of character they'll find their own way to cope, which will set them up well to deal with the real world they'll have to face in the future anyway. If they can't hack it now, what is the point of wasting University places on them when there is plenty of better-equipped material out there?

Immigration cap is "unlawful"

Says who? The High Court in London, no less.As yet, there are no further details (this news appeared just minutes ago)

Obviously the law in question, whatever it is, needs to be changed. Hopefully that'll be the next step, because this decision is not acceptable. It's our country, and we'll decide, via our elected government!

Now, admittedly, today's decision affects only the temporary cap between now and when the official cap takes effect from next year; but in the meantime there is bound to be a rush "to beat the cap". This really is very silly, and is of no positive benfit to anyone - or at least, not to anyone interested in the welfare of our country.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

How Gordon saved the world

It's in his new book, as expected; but you don't have to plough through it all yourself (I wouldn't wish that on any of my readers!) as Iain Martin has done the deed on our behalf, and provided some insight into what it all really means.

His first disclosure has appeared in the Wall Street Journal (Europe) today, telling the tale of how Gordon Brown effectively claims to have saved the world from high oil prices. The reality is, of course, somewhat different...

There will be more to come from Gordon's book of boasts, so keep an eye on the Iain Martin column!

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Old and Sad part 2

It looks like the Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election, to elect a replacement for Phil Woolas as their MP, will be held in mid-January. The writ is apparently to be moved by Lib Dem MPs tomorrow

Although on one side of the equation, having an election campaign that starts in the festive season isn't exactly a brilliant piece of timing, leaving the constituency without an MP for more than a month or two isn't a good idea either. I think the timing is wrong, though understandable, and would (if it had been my own area) to have waited just a couple of weeks before moving the writ that starts the process and determines the by-election timetable.

The three main-party candidates have been chosen by their parties, though I don't yet have the details of all of them as follows:
  • Labour - Debbie Abrahams
  • LibDem - Elwyn Watkins
  • Tory  -  Kashif Ali
There will also be Nick Griffin for the BNP and Paul Nuttall for UKIP on the ballot paper, though it is not thought that either of them will get very far. It will  be agenuine three-way battle, by the looks of things.

It promises to be an interesting by-election, not only because of its historic significance (i.e. what caused it) but also because of this crucial time in British national politics. I intend to keep an eye on what goes on there.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

The long game

Mrs Ed Balls, Yvette Cooper, has been playing the long game, or so the evidence strongly suggests.

First, in the Labour party leadership contest, when one or the other would stand but not both, it was decided that Ed B would be the candidate from that household. If he had won (which must have seemed unlikely, even back then) Yvette could have pulled the strings from behind the scenes.

Ed B is now a "busted flush" and cannot credibly re-stand if there were to be another leadership selection, especially as it is now Yvette's turn, so to speak. It would be easy for the lady to make a convincing argument, should there be any dissent from hubby.

Now, it must have been obvious within the upper echelons of the Labour party that the Trade Unions were going to ensure that their man, Ed Miliband, was selected as leader - and so it proved, with the Union votes the only ones putting Red ahead of his brother David. The idea was transparent enough, and has been articulated elsewhere on several occasions: Red's job was never to win a future General Election and get Labour back into power.

No: his task is to ensure the Union's plans for reform of the Labour party are put in place, so that they run the party in future. Once that is done, he can be discarded and a replacement who does stand a chance of propelling Labour back into Downing Street can then be allowed to be put in place. Yvette Cooper, knowing all of this, has been manoeuvring recently, including holding a succession of interviews with carefully chosen newspaper reporters.

In these, her manner comes across well: Ms Cooper is well versed in the art of charming people and saying the 'right' things in a way that will appeal broadly (though not to those able to see through the smoke screen). Her speaking has apparently been voice-coached recently as well, which is a clear sign that the lady means business! All this activity is touched on within this multi-topic column in the Mail.

So, keep an eye on Yvette Cooper. The time is approaching when Red's actual job (as distinct from the purported one) will be complete and he could well be pushed aside, despite the technical difficulties under Labour's party constitution and rules. I still think the local elections next May will be the public (and broader party membership) excuse for booting him out, but the real reason will be that he is no longer needed or useful to the puppet-masters behind the Labour party.

A tale of Dale

Once upon a time, when political blogging in Britain was in its infancy, one Iain Dale set up his Diary blog and made it work very well. It rightly earned a great deal of respect across the political spectrum, and he has been termed the father of political blogging in our nation, a well-deserved title.

With other projects coming and going, and an increasingly nasty streak appearing on some of the comment threads, Iain's emphasis has clearly been shifting towards his publishing business activities and radio broadcasting and also finding blogging less enjoyable in more recent times.

It perhaps ought therefore to come as no particular surprise to anyone who has been paying attention to what Iain has been doing for the last year or so, that he is now giving up the political blogging, and (this is perhaps more surprising) also stopping party political activity.

Here is Iain's own post on today's decision, and here is a most appropriate (and short) post from Guido, which I also recommend reading.

Tweet of the day - 14 Dec 2010

From The Guardian, of all places, reported by (and linked to) by Tweetminster:
"Sure Start 'has failed to boost children's literacy and numeracy'" http://bit.ly/gS7pWA - The Guardian"
This quite an admission of something that some of us realised would happen, right from the off regarding Sure Start. It was never intended to be of benefit to the children - it was intended to be of benefit to the State, and in particular to the Labour party in government.

Yes, it was sold as being good for the kids, and would take them off their parents' (often single parents) hands at an earlier age, as does early years learning in general: but the real reason for the scheme was to indoctrinate the sprogs at a very early age, so that they would be most likely to stay with the party line throughout their lives. It was just another way to secure votes and support by compromising our children's natural intellectual development. Literacy? Who cares! Numeracy? They all have calculators anyway, so who needs it!

That's the true agenda behind all these unnaturally low formal education starting ages. Five years old is the right time to start schooling, which is why (along with two-parent family situations) those of my generation and earlier tended to grow up to be better-rounded, more astute and independent-minded individuals than the most recent generation has turned out to be.

Anecdotal evidence from those I know who have used Sure Start and suchlike has confirmed to me what the above Tweet indicates, and more. I cannot be soft-soaped into accepting that there is any merit in the scheme whatsoever, and it would be best scrapped completely and parents again take responsibility for their own lives and the lives of their pre-school age offspring.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Farron far away

Liberal Democrat president Tim Farron has today responded to what the Spectator's Peter Hoskin refers to as "buttery overtures" from Ed Miliband to Lib Dem members to shift allegiance and join Labour.

Farron - no doubt with the backing of his party's leadership - has firmly rejected that plea from Red, in a statement affirming the value of the Lib Dems in coalition and the positive results that has brought. I cannot argue with that, nor with the killer line:
"Continuing that work is something far more attractive to Liberal Democrats than helping Ed Miliband's increasingly desperate attempts to work out what he actually stands for."
Those two words "increasingly desperate" do seem to sum up Ed-M's personal situation as he has made little impact (though at least there has been some) and the Labour party - despite recent voting intention polls - looks to be heading in the same general direction, if one reads what is happening with any degree of intelligence.

Political Betting also cover the statement (and also reproduce it in full, so there's no real point in my doing so here as well), posing the question "has Tim Farron become the [Liberal Democrat] party's attack dog?" It is a good question; and if true would certainly help to justify their choosing him as their new president. He is certainly pitching his party's current public stance far away from Labour. That might not last more than a few years, of course, but at least for now it is a clear distancing from the Reds.

I think he looks be an  interesting player, and is definitely worth watching!

Meanwhile, 'Red' is in need of friends, as Benedict Brogan shows very clearly. He isn't going anywhere without them; but whether his latest appointment will help him win any remains to be seen, and doesn't seem all that hopeful!

Comment of the day - 13 Dec 2010

From Biased-BBC, on the student protest/riot and similar events, a comment by someone posting under the name 'London Calling':
"Every photo you look at a good proportion of the people in the pictures are photographers. At the time of G20 riots I recall there was one masked anarchist smashing a bank window surrounded by a circle of twenty or more photographers snapping away.

These are not run of the mill landscape or wedding portrait photographers doing a little diversifying. There is an industry of freelancers who specialise in urban disorder, who come from the same squat-ridden parts of East London. Pushing cameras into policemen's faces from within the rioting crowd for that 'attacked by the police' angle of view.

The media picture editors are a ready market for this, in the same way some solicitors attack the police through "lawfare", representing little Johnny who was hit on the head with a truncheon.

I'm not sure how much longer I can stomach anarchist rioters doing criminal-damage being described by lazy incompetent or malicious copy editors as 'tuition fees protestors'.
"
Those photographers and their buddies elsewhere in the big media are all complicit in the fraud that is this whole 'protest', which is being driven by self-confessed Communist outfits such as Workers Power and REVOLUTION Socialist Youth Movement. Those organisations' websites publicly show their true nature, which anyone with more than two brain cells to rub together will realise is society-wrecking Communist throughout. Like near-enough all the political left, it is entirely corrupt and seek to put its own agenda above the interests and well-being of anyone and everyone else.

It is high time something were done about all these subversives, decisively and permanently. They are the biggest threat to our country, which will never be safe until that is done. Freedom of speech and action is all very well, up to a point; but not when it gets in the way of others' equally-valuable freedoms!

Sunday, 12 December 2010

New BNP Logo

I just spotted this graphic by accident, showing the latest version of the Conservative tree logo, with that funny Union Flag motif, and now the BNP have launched their own new logo with (you guessed it) the same kind of Union Flag design overlaid.

Here's the comparative graphic, showing both...


Rotate the BNP logo clockwise about 15 degrees and it looks even more similar!

Tweet of the day - 12 Dec 2010

From Guido, on the to-be-scrapped Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA):
"Have only just discovered what EMA is, effectively dole for teenagers. Presumably it was one of Gordon's crackpot ideas."
Quite a good assessment in a way, but not so much crackpot as yet another way to get a whole sector of British accustomed to State hand-outs and at least partial dependency upon them. It was simply a way to 'buy' future votes for Labour at your and my expense from general taxation.

Party leaders' approval ratings

Obviously after this somewhat traumatic week, it is a good time to have a look at the levels of public approval (or otherwise) of the three main parties' leaders. Political Betting has been doing this recently, and it looks like a useful broad indicator of public opinion. Some say it is better than the standard "voting intention" opinion polls, though personally I feel they are probably of similar value and it's best to take both measures equally seriously.

Anyway, Political Betting's summary of the current position, taken from the last week's surveys, set out in easy-to-understand small tables (one per leader) and with figures sub-divided by party support of those polled, is very telling.

Inevitably the two coalition partners' leaders have dropped a little (fewer approve of them and more disapprove) and Labour's Ed Miliband has crept up a notch from doing - well, nothing really! He certainly hasn't been taking any kind of lead in any issue, though at least Alan Johnson is now less at odds with him over the Graduate Tax idea.

Perhaps the most interesting mini-facts are the support for each leader from his own party's supporters, as follows:
  • David Cameron - 96% of Tory supporters think he is doing well
  • Ed Miliband - 62% of Labour supporters think he is doing well
  • Nick Clegg - 75% of Lib Dem supporters think he is doing well
Even more interestingly, more Conservatives think Nick Clegg is doing well (65%), and more Lib Dems think David Cameron is doing well (81%), than that "home team" Labour figure for Red. Especially bearing in mind how more sharply polarised the (typically partisan) Labour voters are in their negativity towards the non-Labour leaders, this looks to be even more revealing than either the article's author or any of the commenters (so far) have realised.

Specifically in today's YouGov poll for the Sunday Times, the findings include that just a quarter of people think Ed Mili is "up to the job", and just 12 % (i.e. under an eighth) of people think he is a better option than his brother, David the banana-man.

Especially in a week that one might have thought (at least from watching the BBC or reading The Guardian) would have swung opinion much more in Labour's direction, or at least against Clegg and Cameron, this is a surprisingly stable overall situation, and satisfying news for the Coalition party leaders.


It certainly isn't good news for Red Ed!

Quote of the day - 12 Dec 2010

Michael (Lord) Ashcroft, commenting in the Sunday Telegraph on his large poll regarding Liberal Democrat support now and at the election, this extract reproduced at ConservativeHome:
"The fact that the coalition decision cost the Lib Dems support does not mean it was wrong, even in partisan terms – though only 49% of their voters thought the decision was right, only 21% thought the party should have formed a coalition with Labour instead, and 30% thought they should have stayed in opposition.

Propping up a defeated Labour Party would have provoked fury, and turning down the chance of government would have meant that millions really did waste their votes, cementing the perception that they were not a serious party. Even many Lib Dem voters who do not much like the current government concede that the party was right to join it."

Wanted for questioning


These are fourteen people police want to speak to in connection with the violence at the most recent tuition fees protest. They include those thought to be responsible for the attack on the Prince of Wales's car.

Inevitably the Sunday Mirror is trying to divert attention for partisan ends, blaming David Cameron for the riots we've been having - but that's standard fare for that kind of rag. If any individual is to blame for the tuition fees situation, it is Blair & Brown and their Labour cabinet colleagues at the time - no-one else is responsible for our even having tuition fees and top-ups, let alone putting the country into such a financial state that they cannot be scrapped or left as they are, and won't be for years.

Of course, all that is ignored by those using the issue as a political weapon, as had always been intended by corrupt Labour.

Can-con

So the Cancun (Mexico) "climate change" UN summit was a success in some people's eyes, especially the BBC.

Wait until all the new taxes, restrictions, laws and sanctions hit the rest of us in a new era of even more dictatorial nonsense in the guise of dealing with what is in reality a non-existent problem!

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Tweet of the day - 11 Dec 2010

Actually two, the second correcting the first, from James Graham (who formerly ran the Quaequam blog) to Gaby Hinsliff (former political editor of The Observer) about half an hour ago as I write this. The original was:
"@gabyhinsliff A lot of that is prob because Clegg shits between claiming to prevent Tory cuts and being a true believer on an hourly basis."
A minute or so later he tweeted this correction:
"@gabyhinsliff Sorry, meant 'shifts'. Naughtie me."
The reference there is to James Naughtie who made an even worse slip-up on Radio 4 earlier in the week, when referring to Jeremy Hunt the Culture Secretary and getting his capital C and H transposed.

Old and Sad

"Old and Sad" is the shorthand for the Oldham East and Saddleworth constituency that is currently without an MP because of the recent legal disqualification of Phil "Woolly" Woolas.

It is now known who has been short-listed to be the Labour candidate at the resultant by-election, and Political Betting has photographs and brief details of the three: Debbie Abrahams, Riaz Ahmad and Abdul Jabbar.

How very traditionally English of the local party to short-list those three!

Friday, 10 December 2010

Cool for Coulson

So, Andy Coulson isn't going to be charged on the phone-tapping issue after all, it would seem. All those who were flinging around accusations and suchlike have declined to provide real testimony or full statements - funny that!

Anyway, it means that there is no substantial case against David Cameron's aide, and the Director of Public Prosecutions has declared that there is "no admissible evidence to support claims that public figures' phones were hacked".

Although this is unlikely to be the end of the matter (as the left-supporting media will continue to flog this now-dead horse regardless, as they seemingly have little else to do), at least the rest of us can now see that it was (as usual with the anti-Tory elements) all just noise with no substance.

The enemy at the door

...or in the street, or the workplace. This is about the new boss of that huge public sector union, Unite.

Len McCluskey is (predictably enough) an old-style Communist Socialist whose attitude is very much reminiscent of the Scargills of the past and the Crows of today, and all points in between. It is hardly surprising as Unite is probably the biggest and most useful tool of the lefty puppet-masters who are trying to bring down our once-great nation, so they'd make sure it was always run by their people, such as Derek Simpson who was joint General Secretary until recently.

Jonathon Isaby does a good job of introducing us to McCluskey, largely based around the new Gen Sec's own words. Notice in particular the effectively open admission that his aim is to use Unite and anyone else who will work with them as a political tool, obviously along with its million-plus members plus as many others as they can get to tag along.

This is being termed an "alliance of resistance", and clearly shows the true nature and intent of public sector Unions - which experience has shown is rarely if ever genuinely interested in its members' needs, only going as far as they need to in order not to lose membership (and the income and muscle-through-numbers that their members actually represent). I am aware of a number of situations where Unions have deliberately given advice to members that lost them their jobs, but furthered the Union's political agenda - which was obviously all that interested the Union.

Therefore none of what Mr Isaby shows us is really a surprise, but we needed to know of it definitively in order to stay sharp and not be misled by Unite or any other Union, especially those for areas of the public sector. I have a strong feeling this will become important as rioting becomes far more commonplace during the next few years.

Now that we have a fair measure of the National Union of Students senior figures' involvement in the violent protests (Tory Bear has listed some of them) we can see where things are going. Those around in the late 70s and during the 80s will already have spotted it, and those who are too young would do well to study those times in advance of a repeat of that shameful period in our relatively recent history.

Tweet of the day - 10 Dec 2010

From the long-established BBC presenter Phillip Schofield, on yesterday's student violence:
"Just watched the lunchtime news. Those thugs that attacked the Royal car are lucky they were in Britain, in other countries they'd be shot!"
There's some good stuff from Iain Dale on what happened yesterday, and on the NUS president Aaron "Mister Smug" Porter.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Tuition fees vote

It was passed, but by a slightly narrower majority than I had calculated - 323 for and 302 against, so just 21 majority for the Ayes. I had thought it would be nearer thirty.

Meanwhile, the protesters have been on the streets again (hardly surprising, today) and violent once more. Yet at no time have any students even lobbied the MPs who were planning to vote for this, though one student group booked an appointment in Pendle, but then didn't bother to turn up.

It has all been party political throughout, of course, as I have written before. It has been fairly obvious to anyone who has been around the block a few times, and Labour's alternative - the so-called graduate tax - would be far more expensive, being a tax for life rather than being time-limited come what may. In fact just about everything about the new scheme is better than either what exists at present or has been proposed by others. Therefore this is a good result, despite what some are still claiming.

There is a very good assessment of the topic and some of its history (most notably the Browne review) at PoliticsHome, which hasn't done this sort of thing all that well in the past. I suspect it's the recent arrival of the excellent Paul Waugh (who wrote the linked article) behind such changes for the better.

Half-way house

My house is close to a borough boundary, with Herne Hill railway station (in the London Borough of Lambeth) at one end of Half Moon Lane and the road itself and East Dulwich station (at the other end of the Lane) in L.B. Lewisham. It isn't all that brilliant an area in some respects, but we do have good rail links - oh, and some decent local shops!

We "Half Mooners" as some of us call ourselves (it's not an official title!) can watch both councils at work and make comparisons. Unfortunately, they are both Labour-run councils so it isn't as illustrative as it might have been. Lewisham has some really tatty council waste wagons and I suppose that's the most visible manifestation of the run-down nature of Labour councils in general.

Anyway: this is just a brief post to indicate where I am and what I might be able to observe first-hand, limited though that obviously will be. Time will show whether I have anything specific worth reporting, or whether it will be more useful to keep to just my more generic, nationwide-issue commentary, as per my writings here to date.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Can't come

Environment Secretary Chris Huhne is at an international climate change summit (yes I know, I know!) in Cancun, Mexico, so can't come to the tuition fees Commons vote tomorrow. There's another Lib Dem MP out there with Huhne, apparently, who also won't be flying back for tomorrow's vote, despite what some have been reporting.

The numbers for the vote still look good enough to win, despite Lib Dem and Tory rebels, and a majority for the Ayes to the right of somewhere around thirty seems to be the likely outcome of tomorrow's vote.

Facts on fees

There are a lot of myths about the tuition fees issue floating around, generated by the left from Labour party HQ via the media to the NUS.

Here is a website explaining the facts, in writing. It should now be much clearer what the reality is and why, and what impact it will have in one's own specific circumstances.

It has to be said that, whatever the merits or otherwise of university students paying (back, one day) even some of their costs, if the country had been in even a half-decent state financially after Labour's thirteen years it is unlikely that tuition fees would have been needed at all, and perhaps they could have been scrapped. After all, they were introduced by Labour, as were the top-ups, and it would have been good to scrap them altogether.

Hopefully, by implementing the Coalition's proposed measures now, that will become a very real possibility with in a few years, once Britain is back on its feet and England in particular. It could never have been so under Labour, and that is a vitally important fact. Labour were always introducing new and increased taxes, dozens if not hundreds of them, including inventing prescription charges (why? don't we already pay for the NHS via National Insurance?) and that is where the fault really lies, despite the attempts of their dishonest supporters to divert attention away from the real culprits.

For now, we'll have to live with this - and at least it's a lot better than what it replaces! Even the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), which rarely offers ringing endorsements of the Coalition Government's position, has today stated that the proposals are "more progressive" (yuk! I hate that word!) than either Labour's original scheme or even Lord Browne's proposals after his (former Labour government-commissioned) review.

Indeed, with only forty out 80,000 of the poorest students having gone to the dozens of Oxbridge colleges in recent years, and (as Baroness Warsi reminded us on today's BBC Daily Politics) no black folk at all last year, it's time to get some real social mobility and aspiration for all into our nation's students - and that will now include part-time and mature students in many cases. Part-time undergraduate-level students make up around forty percent of the total, so it is right to include them in any new policy.

Meanwhile, Alan Johnson has changed his tune and now appears to be in favour of the graduate tax that Ed Miliband supports, after all! Note that this could well mean a total bill of some £54,000 over the years, at around £100 per month repayment - far more than the Coalition's £6,000 or so (max £9,000) at barely £40 per month repayment rate.

Incidentally, not all students have been taken in by the (Labour member Aaron Porter) NUS president's spin: there is even a Facebook group in support of the Coalition's reforms, currently with well over a thousand "likers", as proof.

Tweet of the day - 8 Dec 2010

From Paul Waugh, regarding Sir Christopher Meyer (who was impressive on last Thursday's BBC Question Time, by the way):
"Sir Chris Meyer reveals Russians laid homo- and heterosexual honey traps for him. Plus, Lord West's steward acted as sex double"
This is a good reminder that the old ways of the Soviet Union to try to compromise and undermine senior figures in Britain and its posts overseas are still being tried. It is also a reminder of just how dodgy such countries who find it necessary to attempt this sort of thing really are.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Blankety-Blank

Ed Miliband's "blank sheet of paper" policy (or lack of one!) now brings forth a new website, Fresh Ideas (don't laugh) in which we the public are invited to write his new policy platform for him (I said don't laugh!) for some reason.

He seems to be bringing nothing as a foundation upon which to build his party's new policies.

A sensible method would have been to have kept to his party's core policy drivers, if not necessarily the actual policies as they have been, and listened to the public to help inform those policies and perhaps even (occasionally) turn up a brand new idea. The only one he has kept (or at least said that he is keeping) is the 50% higher income tax rate.

This blankety-blank style just adds to Red's lack of credibility, as he has of substance to say for himself and is therefore not really a leader, merely a populist follower.

Even more crucially, it shows he doesn't have any understanding of how governing a country works, and the interaction of different policies both in UK isolation and within the international situation. These are real-world matters that he simply isn't facing; and it's a safe bet that he'll get not only diametrically-opposing policy ideas, but also incompatible ones across policy areas and within international scenarios such as the EU, NATO, the UN and the rest.

The well-known ditherer and policy vacuum, Ed Miliband, is doing himself and his party no favours. Each new 'initiative' such as this (already being described as 'platitudinous' in some quarters) will give supportive bloggers and Twitterers on the political left something about which to write for a few days, trying to spin it as something that gives a vague impression of importance and seriousness, but no amount of hype by them is going to conceal the shallowness and futility of these publicity-seeking exercises that have no meat in them to start with.

They will, all too obviously, show that Red Ed has nothing to offer and is completely clueless. He has nothing to offer in and of himself.

There is no other way to look at it!

Education, education, etc

Well, so much for Tony Blair's "three words to define his premiership". It has been  public knowledge for some time that we have slipped down the international league tables during the Labour years in government.

Unsurprisingly, with the dumbed-down, everyone-must-have-prizes, quantity rather than quality being the driver for university placement, muddled and politics-driven agenda of those years, standards have been falling. Toby Young at The Telegraph brings us up to date with the OECD figures from 2000 and 2009 (i.e. the most recent). Some of the details by subject can be found there, but the bottom line is that we have fallen from 12th position in the world to 23rd in those nine years.

It's quite a stark contrast.

Now, to be fair, it is hardly a great surprise that a number of other countries have improved, and that's great. Good for them! What isn't good, though, is that we of all people have allowed ourselves to slip so far; but when policy is driven by an essentially Marxist philosophy (however it's been dressed up) that is what will happen.

The teaching has become primarily about the State and its agenda, concentrating more on "diversity" and "citizenship" than academic matters.

Although the current world situation has to accept that 'txtng' has replaced proper English in some areas of life, that is not an excuse for abandoning correct English grammar, spelling and punctuation. Although I txt with the best of 'em, I never drop my standards elsewhere such as here, as you might have noticed. I understand the value of the latter, along with the convenience of the former (especially on Twitter, with its length limit of 140 characters - though I haven't yet branched out into that myself).

Toby Young's article includes some well-summarised facts from the OECD report towards the end, so do check that out as well - or plough through the report yourself(!)

What now faces Michael Gove and his ministerial team is the challenge of undoing the damage, and that will take time. Meanwhile, a whole generation of young folk have missed out, and that is something for which they can never forgive Labour. Hopefully they'll be wise enough to realise it, and never to vote for Labour for the rest of their lives!

To imprison or not?

Should criminals be imprisoned or should another way be found to deal with them?

It's one of those almost imponderable questions because, whatever one thinks, there are always perfectly valid arguments both your way and the opposite.

Prison has the huge advantage of taking genuinely dangerous people away from society, where they can no longer do harm to the rest of us. That, at least, is solid, and a similar also applies to lesser criminals who are never going to change and where it is therefore able to be judged better (in some of those cases) to keep them out of society as well.

Beyond those categories, though, the picture becomes very muddy. It is known that going into prison provides a strong likelihood of becoming a drug addict or maintaining such an addiction, learning criminal skills from other inmates, and then being even more of a problem to society when released.

On the other side of the coin are the rehabilitation and training facilities that can equip what are very often semi-literate and unskilled (for regular work) felons for a life byond crime.

There is no fast and ready answer to the whole question: it has to be a pragmatic choice and a careful balance to suit the needs of the day, and those are always changing.

Justice Secretary Ken Clarke says the country can't afford more prisoners (and we do have a high number per thousand population) but could inflict tougher community sentences. Now, that sounds pragmatic enough in the nation's present plight, and worth a try; but if it doesn't succeed in its aim of making society safer for the rest of us Clarke (or his successor if there's a re-shuffle in the meantime) must be prepared to change tack.

Hopefully by that time, if it should turn out that way, we smight be in a better position to afford to provide more prison places. On that basis, I am prepared to let him try this new approach and see how it goes. There will be valuable learning to be gained from the exercise, come what may, and that in itself will make the new policy a worthwhile one to implement.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

From Russia, with Mike

Not quite a James Bond story, but Lib Dem MP Mike Hancock's Russian research assistant, 25-year-old Katia Zatuliveter, is currently up for deportation on the charge of being a spy for the Russians' overseas intelligence agency.

Now, Mike Hancock is MP for Portsmouth South, with the naval base nearby, and is on the Defence Select Committee so has access to some quite sensitive military and other defence-related information. It does seem odd that he should get himself a Russian as an aide, especially a young female one who is described as "charming and intelligent".

It's all standard practice by spy agencies of course, and has been for decades (i.e. since at least as far back as the days of the old Soviet Union) as described in Chapman Pincher's famous work Their Trade is Treachery.

Now Mike Hancock has something of a chequered history, much of it documented by Guido in the LibDem category (so it'd need a little skimming through the linked page to find the Hancock stories, but I've done some of it for you), a few of which are possible perjury, before that arrest for indecent assault and here's some more general background info. He is known to be strongly pro-Putin and has had a whole series of Russian assistants over the years. It could all be perfectly innocent, but there's certainly something a bit strange there! Why all these Russians?

As another Lib Dem, Olly Grender, has today tweeted:
"I would be grateful if someone could please tell me just one thing Mike Hancock has ever done to enhance rather than screw up the LibDems"
I suspect he won't be re-selected to stand for the next General Election!

Labour leader odds

Yes, the bookies already have books on the next Labour party leader. Fraser Nelson has just tweeted Ladbroke's current odds thus:
  • 4/1 Yvette Cooper
  • 5/1 David Miliband
  • 10/1 Chuka Umunna (eh?)
  • 12/1 Ed Balls
  • 14/1 Jim Purnell
  • 14/1 Andy Burnham
  • 16/1 Alan Johnson
Note how low down the list Alan Johnson is.

They also have odds of 33% that Ed Miliband won't be Labour leader at the next election, though Danny 'The Fink' Finkelstein thinks "that is much too high". Presumably that means that he believes there is very little chance of Red being replaced by then.

Kevin Maguire on today's Politics Show indicated (twice) there is a lot of "disquiet" in the Labour party about Red Ed, but (as far as he knows) no plots - at least not yet (as he put it).

Just for your information.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Today's protests

Yes, as expected, there were yet more protests today. There were invasions/sit-ins of shops such as Top Shop and Boots, groups outdoors with painted signs saying (for example) "Revolution", and The Guardian's Polly Toynbee (yes, the one with the villa in Tuscany and very well-off in general) was spotted in the thick of it, as the photo here shows.

Altogether a fun day, except for those with legitimate business in these places who were excluded by the selfishness of the protesters (a.k.a. Rent-A-Mob).

Apparently, today's main theme was tax avoidance (which is perfectly legitimate and is why businesses pay accountants for more than just compiling the annual accounts), though this is often confused with tax evasion (which is illegal) by those not bright enough to understand the difference.

Of course, for splendid examples of tax avoidance Polly's employer, The Guardian, is a prime example, having been able to avoid paying any significant level of tax for years under special rules seemingly introduced for that specific purpose by Gordon Brown. The Guardian is also subsidised from the public purse in a second way, by having almost all public sector jobs advertised exclusively or primarily there. Polly benefits from all of that by being able to be paid a six-figure salary that wouldn't have been affordable otherwise.

Hypocrisy by Ms Toynbee? Surely not!

Oh, and Ed Miliband's family home was moved around in its official ownership so that the family could avoid paying certain substantial taxes on the property...

Book title of the year

The book title of 2010 just has to be this:
"Beyond the Crash: Overcoming the First Crisis of Globalisation"
Guess whose book that is? Yes, it was so obvious wasn't it? Gordon Brown. With a title like that, it's bound to sell, oh, at least one or two copies!

P.S. Also do read this about Brown's latest interview.

WikiLeaks on Labour

Although the media seem to have concentrated on the Wiki-Leaked documents' revelations regarding how Conservatives such as Cameron and Osborne were perceived by certain US officials, there has been comparatively little attention (that I can find) paid to the views concerning senior Labour figures.

Well, for the record, here are a few quick snippets of assessments by the London US Embassy, taken from the more detailed descriptions here:
  • Ed Balls - "Dull" and "Charmless"
  • Gordon Brown - "Abysmal"
  • Harriet Harman - "Lightweight"
  •  Damian McBride - "Particularly unpleasant"
  • David Miliband - "Egghead"
Well, as with most of what has come to light as being in the leaked documents, there's nothing surprising or that we didn't already know. The useful thing to know is that the Americans realised what we had already sussed out about these five individuals, and no doubt others as well.

By the way, there are some very telling comments to the source I linked to above; but do watch out for the obvious nonsense from one or two that thankfully other commenters there have easily demolished.

On a related topic: for those who are trying to access WkiLeaks and find that the site is unavailable, there is a list of mirror sites, links and suchlike, complete with links, here.