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Friday, 30 October 2009

Nutt Sack

Shame to see Prof Nutt has gone.
Finally someone trying to move drugs policy from scare-mongering to evidence. And he gets sacked.
It's a damn shame that so much Home Office policy is lead by a desire to keep the Mail on side rather than doing what's right

Record prices

A very interesting look into how the money from a record gets distributed.
In summary:
the label gets lots, the artist gets nothing in the conventional break-down

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Tories attack FT

I've mentioned many times that the FT has been very critical of the Tories in the past. It seems i'm not the only one who noticed.

Dan Hannan, Iain Dale, Guido Fawkes, Iain Martin (paid by Murdoch, who'da thunk it?) and Tim Montgomery have all come out against the FT for daring to support Labour.
Guido (mr impartial, the one who doesn't support any political group, that's the one) says:
"As the FT’s circulation shrinks further perhaps it will decide not to support the Labour Party for a fifth general election in a row. Yes, the Pink ‘Un even backed Neil Kinnock to the huge annoyance of the readership."
And he's on about "Two refugees from the Labourgraph". The Labourgraph eh?

Now i've noticed the FT aren't keen on the Tories. Maybe there's a conspiracy going on. Maybe they just don't rate the Tories very highly?
Given what I think of the media (corrupt, back-stratchers, cronies) the last can't be right.
But what if it was....

TUC calls for £6 an hour minimum wage

I did some work on NMW for work.
During that time I came across a very sobering statistic, which sadly I don't have a link for.
I checked it out and they were some right wing nut jobs, sadly.
The stat is that for every 1% rise in NMW, employment falls by 0.1%.
Now it's possible that in a time of booming employment that's not a problem, but when even fine, upstanding Bearded Socialists can't find work, that's a big worry.

Brendon Barber reckons that "raising the minimum wage has already helped thousands of families without causing significant job losses"
I work on NMW for 6 months, it ain't fun. But better that than nothing (as i'm about to find out).
Sorry BB, but 'significant job losses' is not a price to pay.
I think NMW should be linked to average earnings (maybe average prices, certainly one of the two) and the personal tax threshold should be the level of NMW when working full time e.g. £5.80 NMW X 35 (hour week) X 52 (week year) = £10556. Therefore, no-one one NMW should pay income tax and everyone else would get this amount tax free. The loss would be made up for by raising direct tax levels above this and imposing higher bands.
The TUC arguements are worthwhile morally, but fatally flawed ecnomically and would indead increase unemployment. While some would gain more in an hour, others would be left behind.

Caption Competition

Technically, Guido abuse. But he deserves it. Oh yes, he deserves it. Nasty man.

I'm not really into this so much, but this is a beauty:

Nasty, brutish, and fat

"“This Alien’s gonna burst out of my stomach – OK my two stomachs – any minute now. Please help me.”"
"I haz wet my pants. Stop lookingz."
"Government denies that Miliband “not ageing well”"
"The last photograph taken by cameraman James Smith before he was killed by a high-velocity shirt button."
"“Paul ‘Guido’ Staines is the No. 1 Gok Wan impersonator” according to right-wing bloggers."
“I’m so excited to be on telly that I just let a little bit of wee out. I don’t think anyone can tell as long as I keep my hands where they are.”
"ALL GLORY TO THE HYPNOTOAD!" - may explain his influence.


Ha! Know the feeling

Sex laws, trafficking, prostitution

While my job hunt isn't going well, the subject line isn't my list of recent applications.

This article by Joan Smith got me thinking about the subject, and the beauty of blogging is that if you think something you can put it in cyberspace where all of three or so people may read it.

First, the silly bit:
"on 21 May a "practitioners' meeting" was held in "one of London's most unique five-star hotels", attended by police, health workers, and other "stakeholders", as the Home Office described them, but no actual hookers."

Wanna bet? Ha ha, hilarious!

Serious bit:
A friend of mine used to do this work. so I feel a bit more justified in sticking my pennies in.
Some of the proposals that come out of the above artice include:
"driving the industry further underground would only endanger us and [the assembled representatives from the industry] expressed hope this event would be part of a continuing process of involvement."

There are plenty of other articles and organisations out there with opinions on trafficing, prostitution etc..
Here are some:$1251571.htm
Although i'm not sure the International Union of Sex Workers do themselves too many favours with their logo:

But me. I'm more in the 'bring them in from the cold' camp, though i certainly don't think Smith's rant covers my views of the thing. Why? Because i listened to someone who used to do it, which is the point. Lots of people with no experience of the industry (haha!) seem to give their opinions without listening to the people who do the work.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009


"The truth is that Gordon Brown didn't follow the live chat on the screen directly - he answered the questions grouped and fed to him by Mumsnet HQ and his advisers. He didn't avoid the biscuit question because it didn't cross his path...

"We were conscious of not merely focusing on frivolities. Fun as biscuits are, access to the Prime Minister is precious and we would have hated to waste time on Rich Tea Fingers at the expense of miscarriage or school starting age. Plus, of course, we'd rather not be seen as a soft touch."

So, although the question was asked of the PM, Mumsnet themselves never fed it through to him because they thought it wasn't a worthwhile question.

Unfortunately, David Cameron didn't think biscuit-gate was as frivalous as Justine Roberts does. Instead, Cameron chose to accept the story as presented to him and raise it in the middle of PMQs last week half way through a debate about Afghanistan and the economy"

As usual, Cameron latches onto something totally unimportant while ducking the serious issues,
I liked David Mitchell's response to Cameron's biscuit choice: "he's a monster"

Tuesday, 27 October 2009


Top, top, top bloke.
a socialist
a beard
what could be better?

Free school meals for all

Great idea, let's have that.
All state school children get free school meals. Ideally, paid for by taxes on private/public/independent schools.
In fact, i like it so much i'm going to buy it a drink.
I'd personally wager that's the kind of thing we (Labour) need to shore up the core vote which could well be where the election is won and lost

Administration looms for Southend

Sad, sad day indeed.
Looks like Southend will enter administration this time next week ish.
It goes to show the vast gap between rich and poor. When Liverpool played Man U on sunday the two clubs had combined debts of £1 Billion. We could get wound up over £700k. That's about a month's wages for the top players in the world. The problems are many, but it would be nice if:
1) financial mismanagement didn't result in the fans getting punished
2) the official bodies and big clubs spent a bit longer looking out for the interests of football as a whole rather than trying to maximise the wealth of the richest e.g. '39th game', Atlantic League, Old Firm to England etc. etc. etc.

Fact checks. Ish

Nick Griffin, you got factchecked bitch!
Well, not entirely. It's largely a bit about how nasty and wrong Nick Griffin is. Which he is.
Goes through what he said on Question Time, lots of it wasn't true.

""I do not have a conviction for Holocaust denial"

The BNP leader does not have a conviction for Holocaust denial because there is no such offence in English law. What he does have is a conviction in 1998 for inciting racial hatred by writing articles in The Rune magazine in which he denied the Holocaust and praised the Waffen SS. "


Bloke who used to write speeches. Did one on immigration. Said of it:
"As a ministerial speechwriter in a former career, in 2000 I penned a key speech for the then immigration minister Barbara Roche, which mooted changes to make it easier for skilled workers to come to the UK.

Multiculturalism was not the primary point of the report or the speech. The main goal was to allow in more migrant workers at a point when – hard as it is to imagine now – the booming economy was running up against skills shortages."

Told media about it:
"Somehow this has become distorted by excitable Right-wing newspaper columnists into being a “plot” to make Britain multicultural. There was no plot. … What’s more, both were robust on immigration when they needed to be: Straw had driven through a tough Immigration and Asylum Act in 1999 and Roche had braved particularly cruel flak from the Left over asylum seekers.

Perhaps the lesson of this row is just how hard it still is to have any sensible debate about immigration. The Right see plots everywhere and will hyperventilate at the drop of a chapati: to judge by some of the rubbish published in the past few days, it’s frankly not hard to see why ministers were nervous."

Bloomin media.
Not saying it's a right-wing conspiracy, more that they tend to blow things out of proportions to make stories out of it

Labour party video

Cheddar, but mustard.
Brings a tear to me eye, but maybe for the wrong reasons

The state is too big, voters say

"Two-thirds of voters back David Cameron’s call for the size of the state to be slimmed down"

Boo: "Sixty-seven per cent said they agreed with the Tory leader that “the Government has grown too big and needs a major overhaul to make it smaller”. Just 28 per cent disagreed, with his call for a smaller state supported across the social spectrum.

Andrew Hawkins, the chief executive of ComRes, said: “The Conservatives are on to a winner with this campaign line.” "
Dah crap

Bank windfall tax

Yeah!! Windfall tax!! TAX!!!!
" Two-thirds in favour of bank windfall tax

A new ComRes poll for the Independent shows overwhelming public support for a windfall tax on the banks. As the chart below shows 66 per cent agreed that a “windfall tax should be imposed on the banks,” 25 per cent disagreed, and 9 per cent do not know.

“66% of all voters, including 68% of Conservatives and 76% of Labour supporters agreed that a Windfall Tax should be imposed on banks. Only 25% disagreed.”"


BNP support

Most people on the right were up in arms that the BNP were under-represented in the QT audience. But if their support is 2/3%, then they probably weren't as even 3% isn't much.
I'm never a great fan of polls, but here you go.
Typical bloody right
"A new Comres poll out today for the Independent shows that the weighted percentage of people who plan to vote for the BNP is down to their usual 2% average.

Following BBC Question Time there was some speculation their vote had jumped by a massive 50% from 2% to 3%. But that was also entirely within the margin of error.

Of respondents likely to vote, support for UKIP also remained low at 3%. Greens were slightly higher at 4%.

The poll also rubbished the myth that most BNP supporters stayed at home or had left other parties. When asked who respondents would vote for if they were legally required to, BNP support only rose to 3%. UKIP remained at 3% while the Greens rose to 7%.

Only 2% of all respondents saw themselves as natural BNP voters."


Old joke, but a good one:
"most papers keep banging on about the usual crap all the bloody time:
lesbian dogs mauling kids, EU-funded single mothers assassinating white British OAPs, immigrants shagging your house; social workers infiltrating facebook and gay asylum seekers taking all jobs."

Who'd want to live in the UK?

A "free market think tank" has ranked 104 countries world-wide in terms of various measures of "prosperity".
We're ranked 12th.
Not too bad, but we should be better.
"- Economic Fundamentals – Ranked 13th Weak terms of trade and domestic savings hinder an otherwise fundamentally robust UK economy.

- Entrepreneurship and Innovation – Ranked 2nd The UK benefits from a highly entrepreneurial and innovative economy

- Democratic Institutions – Ranked 11th Democratic institutions are strong, and the political regime stable in the UK

- Education – Ranked 21st British workers benefit from high levels of tertiary schooling, boosting labour productivity

- Health – Ranked 23rd High life expectancy, low infant mortality, and a strong health infrastructure characterise the health care system in the UK

- Safety and Security – Ranked 22nd The UK faces relatively few threats to its national security but people have concerns regarding theft

- Governance – Ranked 13th A high proportion of British citizens have confidence in governmental institutions

- Personal Freedom – Ranked 19th British society is characterised by a high degree of personal freedom and perceived tolerance of minority groups

- Social Capital – Ranked 11th British citizens enjoy strong support networks in family and friends"

You'd never guess, but my guess would be that the way to improve things is for the government to put lots of money into health, education and crime prevention. To be fair, a rating of 19th for personal freedom isn't too great.
We're above Germany, France and Spain

Clever people on the Tories

Made me laugh:
"Me: “Hello, V. intelligent person. What do you think of Tory economic proposal X/Response to Y, eh?

Respected Thinker on Economics: “It’s really stupid.”

Me: “Aww, you’re just saying that to make me happy.”

RTE: “No, it really is dumb/populist/unworkable/a disaster in the making/imbecility of the most terrifying level”

Me: Yeah, they’re 17 points ahead in the polls, tho. Scary eh?

RTE: “No biggie.”

Me: “Eh? WTFBBQ?”

RTE: “Well, they don’t really mean it. I mean, they’re not that dumb. This is all just pre election waffle. They won’t try and implement anything like this when in power”"

Daily Mail on Immigration

Left Foot Forward have done a piece which attacks the Mail's figures on immigration.
The Mail is going on about immigration up by 50%, when that's not true.
Hardly surprising that the BNP do well when publications like the Mail do all they can to fan the flames of racial tension

Margaret Hodge on the BNP

A really good piece, I think, on how to tackle the BNP. Starts with the idea of dealing with people as they are, not as we'd like to see them.
About re-connecting with voters, listening to their concerns and linking what people want with what happens.

FT on George Osborne

I did a little bit on Georgie Boy yesterday, but now the FT comes out against him:
"if he wants to be a successful chancellor, Mr Osborne will need to rein in his well-honed instincts on positioning and headline-grabbing in favour of greater focus on policy"

"if weak lending is the problem, Mr Osborne could simply have specified how much new lending he expected from the banks in return for public support. There was no need to appease the bonus-bashing mob and inflame anti-City sentiment further. Mr Osborne would have won fewer headlines for such an announcement, but he would have been advocating the sort of policy that separates a chancellor-in-waiting from a shadow chancellor."

I almost get the feeling the FT might come out in favour of Labour by the election. Will Osborne REALLY turn things round for himself in their eyes? I doubt it.
He's a politician, strategist and spin doctor. That in itself does not qualify him to handle the purse strings

Monday, 26 October 2009

George Osborne on bank bonuses

"High Street banks should be banned from paying bonuses above about £2,000 in cash, the Conservatives have said."

So Georgie Boy jumps on the bandwagon, i assume part of the Tories' 'party of the poor' comedy routine.
But he seems to have learnt something from Gordy: the devil in the detail.
"stop retail banks - in other words the banks that lend directly to businesses and families - paying out profits in significant cash bonuses"
Interestingly, the retail banks aren't the ones paying the huge bonuses, nor, really, the ones who brought about the problems in the first place.
"It would only apply to High Street retail banks, which means investment banks would be exempt."

I'm glad he's finally coming round to the idea of getting money out there: ""We need to take emergency steps to support bank lending and move the economy forward this winter. The banks have to understand that we are all in this together.""
but he seems to think that all banks' money goes to the same place (he may be right) and therefore it's that easy to move money around the banking system and get lending out there. Though that is not necessarily the best way to go and can lead to long-term unsustainable debt (sounds familiar)
So that's me confused. Tough choices, wish it was me making them

Vince Cable shows it's easier to be critical than correct and agrees with me:
""They have not given full backing to [Bank of England governor] Mervyn King's proposals on splitting up the banks and these bonus proposals are short-term, stop-gap solutions designed to stem public anger but which fail to get to the heart of the problem." "

Friday, 23 October 2009


Apparently, London is "a city that is no longer British"

Fuck off Griffin. I live in London, and we're as British as roast beef mate. London has ALWAYS been a melting pot for different people. But it's the CAPITAL, that says something.
Conspiracy nutter that bloke

Letter from the Mayor's office on fare rises

"Thank you for your correspondence regarding public transport fare increases.

The Mayor appreciates the difficulties faced by many Londoners in the current economic climate and the decision to increase fares was not taken lightly. In his decision to increase fares, he has acted to ensure that vital improvements to London's transport system continue to be delivered and front line services protected in the face of huge financial pressures on Transport for London.

The Mayor believes that public transport is critical to the health and success of London as a leading world city and is determined to give London commuters the transport system they deserve and which the city needs to remain economically competitive. This has necessitated making some very tough decisions; however, the Mayor is convinced that this package represents the best option for London and for ensuring that vital repairs and improvements can be made."

What a cop out!
That's not necessarily his fault, as that is the nature of responding to stuff like that

On being decisive. In defence of Gordy

""I was talking to a chap today and he mentioned Brown's dithering. The chap was a carpenter. As we chatted I pointed out that whatever I made with wood always had a wobble. "You've got to mark it out right" he told me. I said that I always did but more often than not the wood was the wrong size after I had sawn it.

Measure twice, cut once he told me. And it occurred to me. Brown does not dither, he makes considered decisions. Cameron, however, makes snap decisions. This makes Cameron look decisive, but more often than not, completely wrong. Brown, however, is right, but takes longer. Brown follows the maxim Measure twice, cut once and gets the decision right. That is the message we need to get across. " "

Too right, something i've long said, but put better here than i have so far managed.

I'd add that for Cameron the decisions are easy: which bandwagon to jump on and which tie to wear, where to part your hair in the morning. All very different from sorting out the biggest financial crisis in modern memory, or anything like that

Quote of the day

"On tonite's show with Griffin why in God's name did we have some American who happens to be a director of the British Museum on this program?

She had no sense of what England and the UK is about!!

A UKIP member would ahve been better.

Absolute nonsense.

Paul K. Smith, Queenlans, Nova Scotia"

How much more does someone in Canada know about Britain?

Little worries how much support and sympethy they get, but online is very different to polling booth

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Question Time

Got to really ain't ya?
I thought Straw and Warsi had a good debate about immigration, but overall none of them really tackled a big issue, which is that people buy the myth that English people have been made into second-class citizens.
The BNP thrive on the idea of a conspiracy, that X, Y and Z are conspiring against X, Y, and Z (the indigenous British in this case).
It's a shame that immigration is not tackled and then it takes the BNP getting 1 million votes before it enters mainstream debate, and then most of the show is about it.
Griffin showed himself as a far-right nasty-man who relies on the idea of this conspiracy, but the issues which force people into his grubby paws were not properly addressed. Straw tried, and I thought did pretty well all night, but didn't make the case forcefully enough. People need to know that it's ok to feel proud to be British without being labelled racist, which is something the Tories have traditionally done far better than Labour. Due, I think, to our more bleeding heart liberal wing (including me to some extent).
Griffin's a right winger, so I don't like him. But if enough people shun pride in their origins (e.g. being British), there is a vacuum created into which the likes of Griffin step.


That Nick Griffin MEP is getting a lot of attention ain't he?
Here's another little number from Factchecker.
Apparently, Griffin is as close as it gets to lying without claiming that Southend United are on course to win the World Cup.

I love factchecker, and I'd really like to see much more use made of it

Stojkovic from the technical area

Not a proper goal, but what a strike this is! On the volley from his own dug out.

Stankovic from the half way line

As good a goal as i've ever seen, to volley it first touch from half way is amazing

Ownership in football again

"The point about Barcelona is the club cannot be hijacked by rich Americans trying to profit from the club and helping to run it into huge debt. Clubs owned by the fans, run by a president have to answer to the board and therefore debt is kept more in check and you don't get the same debt levels. Real are obviously taking another punt on Perez and believe that the money he has spent will be recuperated through commercial rights etc..."

We've seen too many clubs run into the ground by greedy chairmen who care nothing for the club and the fans. But it may be that that lets in some smaller teams, but that doesn't justify it.

Co-operative football?

From this very interesting article about supporters running football clubs and the amount of debt and money flowing around.
And the bloke is a Southend fan, most important.

I saw this little gem in with the comments:

"SR819 wrote:

Football needs to be nationalised in my opinion. We've seen the effect of free market fundamentalism on many aspects of life, including football. The free market concentrates wealth, and the effect of this is that football fans are seen as consumers, clubs as corporations and the end goal just appears to be profit maximization. This is not to say that the business side to football is unimportant, and clubs need to able to have a sustainable model, but I believe football clubs should be run as social businesses, with an understanding that the football club has a responsibility to social cohesion and community in their local area. Since this is unlikely to happen in the short tern, government intervention is required in my opinion.

Eventually, I hope to see football clubs (as well as all workplaces in all industries) run in the form of co-operatives, and in light of recent events in the last year and a half, I believe this paradigm shift isn't too far away."

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

A gay non-racist pro-asian BNP member

Don't see this every day, a turkey voting for christmas.
I wonder if the BNP will beat him up. If they do, will he deserve it?
I say that because I think the BNP use violence as a policy. I think Griffin's attack on the generals as Nazis who should be hanged shows his true colours.
Anyway, quote:
"I am voting for the BNP, even though some of their policies could negatively affect my life - I'm gay and married to an asian, and the BNP want to get rid of civil partnerships and "inter-racial" marriages.

My partner will also be voting for them. One doesn't have to agree with everything a party says in order to vote for it. No party has every provided me with everything I want. My partner has no fear of forced deportation because that is not the BNP policy.

Why will be voting BNP? Because like the other 600,000 voters the BNP have acquired in the last 4 years, we are more worried about the failure of successive governments to stem the rise of islam in Europe than we are about losing some of our own civil rights.

Am I racist? Is my asian husband racist? Islam is not a race - there are white muslims. Once the BNP change their constitution, both my partner and I will become paid up members. As will many more people. The BNP's talk about "race" is foolish. And it will end. They can be nationalists and anti-immigration without using that idiotic concept.

All the people posting here saying the BNP have no sense of history should start reading some of the many books published in the last 5 years on the history of islam and the rise of islam in Europe. Then they will see that this is the number one political issue of our generation. That's why Geert Wilders party is the leading party in the Netherlands."

A liberal (Socialist) take on free speech and the BNP

Not my words, but my sentiment:
"The fact that other parties are trying to silence a minority voice makes them no better than the BNP.

Rational people are unlikely to vote for them so why is there such a furore?

Censorship and biggotry go hand in hand, it breeds discontent and hatred.

There will be a backlash if they try to prevent this, it is irrelevant that the government and other parties disagree with alternative viewpoints, the simplest fact that the governemnt are legislating against free speech and opinion is an attack on all our freedoms.

Let them have their say, let us make up our own minds. The only way BNP will benefit from this is if their argument is more convincing than others and if that is the case than maybe the other parties don't have the right people or ideas.

BTW I totally disagree with the BNP policies."

Politicians in the media

Very interesting little bit on 'yes' or 'no' answers, or not.
Drives me mad some times, but this is a good explaination of it

"None of us answer all questions truthfully.

We exaggerate, skirt round difficult issues, fail to tell the whole story. We all on occasion are deceitfully charming white-liars who tell Mrs Miggins how lovely she looks when in fact she is a Gorgon.

Who has never said how nice it is to see unexpected visitors when all we wish to do is collapse in a sofa with a strong whisky?

So do not expect sainthood from politicians; they are just like the rest of us.

Remember too that politicians do not operate in isolation. Candour may win them friends in studios, but it could make them enemies in Cabinet. "

"many contemporary Labour politicians came of age politically when the media did nothing but attack their party when it was led by Michael Foot and Neil Kinnock. They learned to be cautious, disciplined, very aware that a word out of place would be blown up as a gaffe on the next day's front pages."

"Let us be frank too. Most journalists are looking for a new line in a story. So we try - through vigorous, rigorous questioning - to wheedle out a confession, a slip, a gaffe, a nugget of information. "

TV debate

Apparently the TV debates might be off due to squabbling.
Gordy wants one thing,
Cameron wants another.
Whole thing might not happen.
"After only a few weeks of negotiations, David Cameron has rejected the idea of a series of debates between all three party leaders"
Cameron threw his toys out of the pram perhaps?

"Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats are accusing the Tory leader of "backing down" after months of calling for a television debate. "
Who's dithered and bottled it now eh?

"both Labour and the Lib Dems are pressing for a separate debate between the Chancellor Alistair Darling, the shadow chancellor George Osborne and the Lib Dem treasury spokesman Vince Cable, as well as a foreign policy debate between the Foreign Secretary and opposition foreign affairs spokesman. "
Seems like everyone wants to only do the one they think will highlight their strengths. Will it ever get off the ground? Maybe, maybe not.

Moving the goal posts

Before qualifying started, the play-offs between the best second placed teams were unseeded. Then they changed the rules and seeded the play-offs. If they'd done it before qualifying started, or for the next time, no problem. But to change the rules part way through is off.
A small thing that annoyed me.


The Tories are really starting to remind me of beggars. Why? Going on about change.
This car sticker says 'honk for change' as if just change is going to solve everything. How about some real policies dipshit?

Simon Jenkins on Afghanistan

Simon Jenkins in the Guardian has committed what, for me, is a real crime along liberal lefties.
I base that on my assumption that he supports things like human rights. The thing is that there comes a line when human rights and self determination clash, and he doesn't want to accept this.
His article is that of a right miserable git, claiming that trying to foster democracy in Afghanistan is all balls to try to inflate Obama and Brown's egos. And he doesn't accept that there is any link between Afghanistan and terrorism in the west. There was a military/intelligence bloke the other day who came out the other day saying the two were linked. The truth could be anything, but I know who I'd believe on balance of probability.

There are some in Afghanistan who support our being there, some who oppose. As a liberal (Socialist) I want to see liberal (Socialist) values rule the world, and if some in the military are willing to give their lives for what we call freedom, then we should not shirk tough decisions.
Having said all that, I fear I'm becoming a Socialist Neo-Conservative as in wanting to intervene militarily to remove nasty dictators and impose liberally values

Thinktank calls for 7p income tax rise to plug hole in state finances

The National Institute of Economic and Social Research is proposing this pretty radical change to fiscal policy (or raising pension age to 70) in order to plug the public finances.
Now, I've gone on and on before about making debt-tackling a priority in that doing it too early will mean trouble. I think 80s style trouble.

They said that "Britain's structural deficit – the underlying level of borrowing, excluding the extra borrowing caused by the recession – was running at 6% of GDP and that this was unsustainable."
While the structural deficit is a problem, we have to tread very carefully when addressing it.
There are issues around what actually brings in the most money: is it tax rises or tax cuts. That's something that needs more work, well beyond my means for sure.

But trying to raise all the money from the bottom of the pile goes against everything I stand for by hitting the poorest the most. If there were ways to raise this from higher up, or spread the load, then that might be something to look at.

As for the pension age rising to 70, i'd like to see it based more on length of service so that the poorest who leave school earliest and die earlier don't loose out

Merv King on the banks

I'm with Merv on breaking up the banks.
I agree with him that they should not be too big to fail, but i thought his statement that such institutions should not be in the private sector was very interesting. Not the sort of thing he'd be expected to say i'd think.

I take issue with George Osborne jumping on the bandwagon though:
"George Osborne, the shadow chancellor, said: "Mervyn King's speech is powerful and persuasive. His analysis of how the government's system for regulating banks failed and how there has been 'little real reform' since is one I share.""
Osborne is effectively saying 'told you so' even though King does (and consistantly has) disagreed with him. The important thing is the solution, the way forwards, not just criticising.

"Excluding the cost of bank bailouts, net debt was considerably lower at £682.8bn, or 49% of GDP, not high by international standards but well above the government's self-imposed limit of 40%."
Not too bad, the 40% would be nice but is largely meaningless, and not as bad as most (if not all) alternatives.

"The governor is aware, though, that cutting public spending and raising taxes too early could threaten the nascent economic recovery that is likely to be confirmed by growth data for the third quarter due to be released on Friday."

"The Conservatives seized on the borrowing figures, saying they showed the extent of the debt crisis under the present government.

"A responsible government would act immediately to start reducing public spending and bring Britain's deficit down," said Philip Hammond, shadow chief secretary to the Treasury.

"Failure to act will risk interest rate rises, causing the recovery to falter and putting jobs at risk.""
Not so. Far from it. The point is to invest what is needed, where and when it is needed. Just tackling the deficit will open a large trap door under our economy. I personally don't think the Tories would do what they're talking about, they are just grandstanding from the sidelines, which is what being in opposition allows you to do.

On banking

More to come on this later, but a little bit from PMQs on Merv King's comments:
"12.14pm: Brown says the reforms being introduced wil introduce more competition into banking. Northern Rock was a retail bank and it collapsed. Lehman Brothers was an investment bank and it collapsed. So it is not the case that the problems were caused by banks trying to perform both functions. (Good point.)"

Gareth Southgate

Football is a funny old game.
Gareth Southgate has done a decent job at the Boro. Apart from Alfonso Alves, he's never done anything too bad. Boro are 4th, all of 1 point behind the leaders. They won 2-0 last night, and today he's out of a job. Madness.
I don't think Steve Gibson understands the Championship, it's a tough league where anyone can beat anyone so to be in Boro's position was decent going. Southgate seems to have done alright bringing through the youth, but there we go.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Daily Mail bollocks comment of the day

From Mad 'Mel Phillips'
I haven't read the whole thing coz i'd get angry. I can't stand that woman. Which is the point, she's a WUM.
Her headline "Our leaders are queuing to prove their virtue by denouncing the vile BNP. But it's they who are to blame for its rise".
I take issue with that, I think it's the likes of her and Littlejohn going on about immigrants taking over, the middle classes being squeezed from all angles and their usual lines that they trot out about the English being under seige.
Hardly surprising if someone then believes them, is it?
So i don't buy it.

"[Griffin] opposes mass immigration, Islamisation and the loss of sovereignty to the EU...These are all legitimate concerns which are widely held by people who fear the loss of Britain's historic identity - but which are stigmatised as beyond the pale by an intelligentsia which considers any such expression of nationalistic sentiment to be a form of racism"
This about nationalistic sentiment being seen as racism is largely bollocks, and the kind of bollocks that provides a great deal of support for the BNP. Publications like the Mail are doing most of the BNP's ground work for them.

"The BNP really is racist. Its constitution states it is 'wholly opposed to racial integration' between British and non-European people, and that it wants to restore 'the overwhelmingly white makeup' of Britain before 1948.

But because legitimate feelings about national identity are also deemed to be racist, Griffin has been able to present the entire political mainstream as a conspiracy against the interests of ordinary people."
Having a national identify of which you're proud is not racist, and only some mentals on the margins SEE it as racist. The problem is that publications like the Mail are full of stories every day about how Britains are being attacked by the political establishment for being British, which is not true.

Typical mad bullshit:
"The liberal intelligentsia has put the BNP's rise down to the bigotry and imbecility of ordinary people.

Having turned patriotism from a civic virtue into a racial crime, however, it is that elite which has driven thousands of decent, patriotic British people, both white and dark-skinned, to supporting the BNP."
The liberal elite? Ha!

I added these pearls of wisdom, let's see if they post it:
"What utter rubbish.
I'm a lefty liberal and i'm very proud of being British. I don't consider it racist for anyone to be proud of who they are or where they're from, and no one else I know does either.
It's cynical Wind Up Merchants like Mad Mel Phillips that are to blame for the rise of the BNP, spreading this myth that British people are under attack, rubbish!

I'm British and proud, and the BNP make me sick to my stomach"

Reporting in the media

Headline: "Crime czar Louise Casey blames Gordon Brown for growth of yob culture"

Quote: "“I am not suggesting that anybody personally is responsible"

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Alastair Campbell on Hating the Daily Mail

"As I say to air stewards who offer me a copy of the Mail if I get on one of their planes, prior to taking it and tearing it in half and giving it back to them, I assume they won't be serving dogshit with the dinner, so why force me to take the media equivalent?"

"To be hated by The Mail is to know that whatever other faults you may have, you've done something right."

Friday, 16 October 2009

Daily Mail Beard Hatred

This is outright beardism.

After all the good work refered to in my last post, they go and write some rubbish slagging off beards.
Some girls like, even PREFER beards.
All this about tell people what they do and don't like is wrong.
With a headline like "why do men love beards when women hate them" is not allowing for any differences of opinion.
My mrs likes my beard, previous mrses(?) have liked the beard. Women can like beards if they like.

Anyone got Keith Flett's number?

Daily Mail readers in 'Champion of gay rights' shock

There's a very nasty piece in the Mail today slagging off Stephen Gately headlined "Why there was nothing 'natural' about Stephen Gately's death".
And all the comments are slagging the piece off! Hurrar for common sense over homophobia

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Ken Livingstone on Boris Johnson

Have it:
"Today Boris Johnson has announced that he plans to raise fares by up to 20% in the New Year. He has also announced that there will be cuts to bus and tube services. This means that Londoners will be paying more money for a worse service in difficult economic times.

In response to the fare increases Ken Livingstone said:

'With overall bus fare increases of 12.7%, more than 12 times the rate of inflation, and overall tube fare rises of 3.9%, more than three times the rate of inflation, Londoners are now really paying a heavy price for Boris Johnson.

'Johnson has blamed his second year of inflation busting fare increases on 'past mistakes' and the 'current economic climate'. That is patently untrue.

'They are the result of his own policies. The fare increases are projected to raise £125 million a year. That is less than the amount Boris Johnson has thrown away subsidising well off polluters at the expense of ordinary Londoners.

'His plan to abolish the western extension of the congestion charge to Kensington will cost £50-70 million a year. His decision to scrap the £25 charge on the worst polluting gas guzzlers, like Chelsea tractors, has cost another £50 million a year. He is throwing away millions of pounds a year more with his stupid plan to get rid of bendy buses and turn the clock back with a costly new route master bus.

'I left Transport for London with very large financial reserves precisely to deal with economic difficulties. I also held down fares so that in real terms, after taking account of inflation, bus fares were lower when I left office in May 2008 than when I was elected in June 2000. Johnson is even using that to try to mislead Londoners that he has held down fares when each year in office he has increased them more than the rate of inflation, this year many times more.

'Johnson should tell Londoners the truth, not a lies. He is making them pay massively higher fares to protect a tiny number of well off polluters at a time when London has some of the worst air quality in Europe.

'At the same time, Johnson has announced cuts in bus schedules and less off peak Tube services in outer London. Londoners will be paying more money for a worse service. So much for his election pledge to stand up for outer London!

'And of course, you can rely on Tory Mayor Boris Johnson to make the fare increases fall hardest on some of the poorest Londoners with a 20% increase in the oyster bus fare from £1 to £1.20 and a 20% increase in the cost of the weekly oyster bus pass to £16.60.

'Johnson substitutes jokes for explaining his policies and so avoids interviews like the plague but today Londoners have found that it is at their expense.""

Top work

Boris Johnson's priorities

The fare rises seem to be designed to counter the abolision of the Congestion Charge zone.
the rise of the C-Charge to £10 will bring in £15-£20 million.
Set that against he £50-£70 million that will be lost by abolising the Western zone, or WEZ, and there you go. Who pays for the latter? The people who use public transport

"TfL stresses that it will continue saving money on operating costs, thanks to switching from Capita to IBM. Yet it remains easy to see why Boris would prefer not to be committed to scrapping the WEZ. At the same time, it leaves me wondering why the C-charge wasn't increased immediately and why the increase next year isn't to be higher.

I know what you're thinking. When push comes to shove, Boris remains the motorists' Mayor.

Legg's Limits

Sir Thomas Legg's report on MP's expenses raises a very interesting issue: how much should a cleaner be paid?
Legg think that £2000 is the most an MP should pay for a cleaner in a year. That's bad, very bad. That's a damn low wage. On the basis that that cleaner works 5 hours a week (not much) that just covers them being paid the London Living Wage (£7.45/hour). Which sounds all very well and lovely, but say someone does 10 hours a week? That's well below the National Minimum Wage (£5.80/hour). I don't know what he's based all his figures on, or how he's worked out his methodology, but it's interesting and shred some light on how he's worked all his figures out

England's World Cup Squad

Seeing as everyone is going on about our squad, here's my take:

David James
Johnson Terry Ferdinand Cashley Cole
Lennon Gerrard Barry Joe Cole
Heskey Rooney

Richard Brown Upson Bridge
Walcott Lampard Carrick Milner
Defoe Crouch


BNP open to everyone?

I do think it's pretty funny:
"BNP leader Nick Griffin has agreed to ask his party to amend its constitution so it does not discriminate on grounds of race or religion, a court heard."
At least they could say they're not racist now.
BUT, will any ethnics join? Who'd want to? More than most would expect, i'd guess.
'Racist Party Elects Black Leader' would be a great story.

Now this snippit is interesting:
"A BNP spokesman told the BBC: "We have got to comply if we want to stay in the game. Of course it's not right, it's an infringement of our rights.""
That is, surely, the right to be racist. A very telling quote

London fare rises

I'm appalled by the Mayor of London's fare rises, that's a 30% rise in Oyster fares since he came in. That's tough at the best of times, but considering all that's going on at the moment, it's terrible.
I'm sure I heard something about Boris boasting about cutting the budget of his administration, well I can see who's paying.
Throw in the 'bendy bus' disaster (less capacity, higher price) and I feel that Londoners are being screwed by a mayor who's only interested in promoting himself to be prime minister one day.

Then all this 'oh it's the previous lot's fault' or "fares on national rail are being depressed artificially for election purposes." is rubbish.
It's about priorities. National fares are linked to inflation, rather than being decided on a whim

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

The Prescotts and the North South divide

I got watching this at half time in the football, which i was going to post about, and stayed with it.
On the subject of the division(s) - markets failed, government has failed, but the government is doing a hell of a lot more than the market. At the end of the day it comes down to jobs, and if the market won't create them then the government better.
Jobs, jobs, jobs. This is a reason i'm Labour. Even New Labour have put the most emphasis on jobs and full employment, which is something that's as old labour as anything.
On that subject, the lack of manual jobs came up. the lack of apprenticeships came up, no surprise. Another thing was the amount of money, £12-15k, that is cost to train as a plumber. The government should be shoving this money down people's throats.

I'm glad that by the end they looked at some of the poorer places down south. from my experience, essex has some places that you can compare to up north, docks and simular where jobs have gone and all ain't as rosy as on some of the very comfortable areas.

MY cure is big government, lots of money sorting out the mess of market economics(as usual)

Boris Johnson's mate

It's alleged that Boris Johnson's mate Veronica Wadely was rejected during the interview process for the Arts jobs he's trying to get her into.
According to a mate's law, if someone's written it, it must be true. It may only be true for Guido though, who's strangely quiet on the matter.
"Boris Johnson was today accused of lying to the culture secretary, Ben Bradshaw, in an attempt to install a close former media ally as the head of Arts Council London."

"Johnson dismissed [the accusation of lying] as "complete nonsense"."
But then he doesn't have a great record of telling the truth when accused of wrong-doing. An 'inverted pyramid of piffle' anyone?

JP Morgan's profits

In case anyone wondered who was in control of this world we all live in,
"JP Morgan smashes expectations with $3.6bn the last quarter"

"JP Morgan received $25bn from the US Treasury in October 2008 as part of America's bailout of the banking sector, and was one of the most eager to repay the money as conditions improved this year."

I'd imagine the that taxpayers would like some of their money back please, thank you.

SO, banks run into difficulty, get HUGE government bailouts, then make HUGE profits. Who suffers? The poor, the public sector, those on benefits.
Where is the news? MPs expenses. I think people are missing the point

In praise of Michael Foot

Everyone once in a while I feel the need to go on about how great Michael Foot is.
5 to 4 on a wednesday seems as good a time as any.
This little piece helps, specifically the bits about
"The sad thing is that Michael Foot was perhaps the most honourable man ever to lead a major political party in this country"

"The irony is that it was Foot's innocence of the dark arts we now deplore in politicians, that led to his extreme unpopularity. He deliberately and consciously abjured the media soundbite, in favour of the well made and complete argument that did not fit in a news bulletin. He absolutely refused image makeover."

Very much like Gordy. He came to power as a serious man who was more substance than soundbite, and those who criticised Blair for being too good with the media, then criticised Brown for not being good with the media.
But this isn't about them, this is about Michael Foot and what a legend of the highest order he is.
I agree that Foot's principles and 'innocence of the dark arts' what a large part of why he was so unpopular, which is a sad and sobering lesson for all. In politics, those who stand for something get the shit kicked out of them. Those who are slimey buggers, become Prime Minister. The current two leaders being prime examples. Shame.
Anyway, to counter that rather depressing note, Michael Foot is top

Representation in politics

In light of the news that the three main leaders are to hold a debate on getting more ethnic minorities, women and the disabled into politics, i'd like to add this rant:

I went to a recent Fabian event, which was well attended by ethnic minorities and women.

However, while I may be white, I was in a significant minority in that I wasn't posh i.e. public school, Oxbridge etc.
This is something that I think needs to be addressed. Now that ethnic minorities are being represented higher up the class ladder, how about some of us who aren't in the elite class being represented as well?
This, to me, is another key point when talking about proper representation that is too rarely addressed.

Skin colour should not be the only point of representation, so having women and the disabled up there is right. But what about us who come from outside of the traditional elite class? There are serious issues with the white working class feeling alienated from politics, and it's hardly surprising when all the leaders are posh and from the same circles, given the odd exception which does NOT disprove the rule.
I'm white and lower-middle class, although well educated with Degree and Masters by 22, but even I feel like the un-represented poor next to many of the people i've met in and around Labour, so i dread to think what the other parties are like

Peter Mandelson, saviour of motor racing?

Don't hear this every day:
"Brawn chief Nick Fry revealed Milord Mandy was pivotal in pulling his winning team from the wreckage after Honda pulled out of F1. Recognising hi-tech racing’s importance to manufacturing, Mandy even got Britain’s man in Tokyo to lobby Honda to assist Brawn.

“This will not be received well in some quarters, because everyone loves knocking the British Government,” Fry told this month’s Top Gear mag. “But I think it would be fair to say that our survival was helped a lot by the Government and specifically Peter Mandelson and the Department of Business.”

So eat your heart out, Cameron chum Jeremy Clarkson. Proper petrolheads love Labour!"

Daily Mail bollocks story of the day

When in doubt, attack people on incapacity benefit.
"Figures suggest that only around 400,000 men and women out of the 2.6million who claim the handouts are too sick too work."

From my own experience, I very much doubt their figures.
It's very difficult to get IB, and my mrs has been put through hell over it. Her doctor was over-ruled by a bureaucrat, then my earning minimum wage was deemed enough to support two people and her benefits were withdrawn. And she had to go through lots of tests and reassessments, which are difficult enough without their being miles and miles away.

Now plenty will say that if we were foreign we'd have everything handed to us on a plate, while us being British meant we were treated badly by the authorities in order to get the foreigns in first.
I don't believe that either, but the Mail have made their bed and look very happy as they are

Some small hope, from the second-lowest-rated comment:
"Here we go again squeeze the poor and vulnerable. Just remember that it was the rich the bankers who have destroyed this country with their ruthless greed. Ok there are always a few who will milk the system, but this is the same of all benefits , tax allowances and parliamentary expenses.

The wholesale punishment of those who are already down at heel through no fault of their own, is however, thoroughly nasty and despicable. It makes me me ashamed to be British."

Broken Britain

The Sun are doing their bit on 'Broken Britain'.
"THE SUN'S focus on our fractured society today looks at an area where almost half the locals are jobless and where feral kids roam the streets"

I'd like to propose some easy answers, but easy doesn't tend to mean right.
While I have some qualified support for their analysis, The Sun coming out as champions of the poor rings very hollow.
And their promotion of Iain Duncan Smith is silly: "Tory poverty guru Iain Duncan Smith, 55, believes family breakdown is at the heart of Britain's troubles." His solution, well, not given. He's not quoted as having said anything.
So HOW exactly are we going to get families to stay together, bring up nice, lovely, well intigrated children? Less Big Government? Bollocks to that.
Not demonising people, not being afraid to put money into poor people where it's needed, better front line services, personal responsibility. Some will argue 'responsibility' and Big Government don't go together, i disagree. The others are Big Government solutions. It's a lack of government, not too much, which has failed these people.
When all else fails, the state should be there to look after it's own.

Public sector pay

I thought Mark Serwotka was really good on Today this morning, as he usually is. He's a bit left of me, but by and large I think the bloke is top draw.
Points he made about the number of public sector workers below average wages was good, and the emphasis on the average being skewed by those at the top end

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Parliamentary goings on

"An interesting exchange in the Commons this afternoon following the Guardian story:

Paul Farrelly told the House of Commons that he had sought to raise a question about Trafigura, which was an international oil trader “at the centre of a controversy concerning toxic waste dumping in the Ivory Coast.”

“The question also relates to the role of the solicitors Carter Ruck. Yesterday, Mr Speaker, I understand that Carter Ruck quite astonishingly warned the newspaper of legal action if the Guardian reported my question. Mr Speaker, will you accept representations from me in this matter to consider whether Carter Ruck’s behaviour constitutes potential contempt of court?”

The Speaker replied that the matter was not sub judice. He said that the written question had already been tabled, was on the order paper and on the Parliament website. “There is no question of our own proceedings being in any way inhibited,” he said.

David Heath, a Liberal Democrat MP, said Parliamentary privilege was a long-established principle and there should be further debate in the Commons about the issue.

David Davis, former shadow home secretary, said the phenomenon of “super-injunctions” - where the media could not even report the existence of an injunction - was relatively new. He asked whether the Speaker could seek legal advice to prevent the “closing down” of reporting of Parliament, or seek a meeting with the Justice secretary to see if the government could intervene.

The Speaker dismissed Mr Davis’s first suggestion, saying it could be seen as interference in the legal process. However, he would consider the merits of the second suggestion"

Cameron's attack on Labour on poverty

In his speech Cameron claimed Labour had made Britain more unequal, but "Institute for Fiscal Studies, stating that "direct tax and benefit changes made by the previous Conservative governments acted to increase income inequality, whereas those made by since 1997-98 have benefited the poor by more than the rich". "
I know who i believe more.
He might be trying to be too many things to too many people. maybe

Iain Dale on hosing protestors and having a sense of humour

Iain Dale said:
" Legitimate protest is one thing. Invading the parliamentary estate like this is quite another. Just leaving them up there on the roof with no intervention by the Police sends a simple message to others who might have the same idea: come on in, we’re too worried about negative press reaction to do anything.


I wish I had suggested to Bob Ainsworth that he send the army in with a water cannon. It’s the only language they understand."

add to that:
"For the humourless left, perhaps I should have added a smiley after that sentence. They really don’t do tongue in cheek humour do they? Po faced idiots."

What’s priceless about this, was that when Dale was attacked by the Daily Mail for being gay, they defended themselves with the ‘get a sense of homour’ line and Dale was saying how unpleasant it was. He said he felt the pain of those who had that attacked used against them.
How quickly things change

Reporting Parliament

All very odd.
The Guardian is seeking an urgent court appearance this afternoon, to challenge a ban on it reporting the proceedings of parliament.
"Today's published Commons order papers contain a question to be answered by a minister later this week. The Guardian is prevented from identifying the MP who has asked the question, what the question is, which minister might answer it, or where the question is to be found.

The Guardian is also forbidden from telling its readers why the paper is prevented – for the first time in memory – from reporting parliament. Legal obstacles, which cannot be identified, involve proceedings, which cannot be mentioned, on behalf of a client who must remain secret.

The only fact the Guardian can report is that the case involves the London solicitors Carter-Ruck, who specialise in suing the media for clients, who include individuals or global corporations."

Monday, 12 October 2009


Gordy rocks


I usually like the FT, but this is REALLY up it's own arse.
And this is newly launched, in the present climate. When I have lost MY job. It's disgusting.
Still, not the worst thing anyone's ever done.

Mental lefties

A good little defence of Labour, of whom i'm a fan.
"And when you get alleged socialists chanting “Labour Out” with undisguised glee then you have to ask what planet they are living on. Or if they actually care what happens to the working-class in their zeal to out-left each other"

Do they actually care what happens to the working-class in their zeal to out-left each other? NO! So true

government debt

"the deterioration in public finances is due to bailing out the bankers and falling tax receipts due to the recession, not excessive public spending on public services, pensions or pay"

Tory economics

Another attack, this from Left Foot Forward.

I like this:
"the irony of Mr Cameron’s claim that the Conservatives are the party of jobs. They oppose the fiscal stimulus that is funding £5 billion of extra back to work support for the higher numbers unemployed now and which is also maintaining demand in the economy during the downturn to contain job losses. So this is jam tomorrow when people need help today – while the Tories repeat their mistakes from previous recessions."

On incapacity benefit:
"Less than a year out from the election, the Tories are keen to suggest that their plans are fully funded. The £600m upfront costs they say is needed apparently comes from assuming that half a million current IB claimants will fail the medical assessment and go onto the (lower rate) Jobseekers Allowance. Maybe, maybe not."

That's interesting because that means they have a target for 500,000 getting off incapacity benefit. Does that mean they have a target of 500,000?
If any of those people get jobs it will, of course, improve the financial balance of the model. Which is handy, because it's "fully funded" apparently.

"The truth is that helping people back to work costs money – which the Tories cannot find because they are putting debt reduction ahead of every other objective. It also requires positive action to ensure the chance of work is real. That is the principle behind Labour’s pledge to guarantee a job or training to every young person at risk of long-term unemployment."

Tory economics

While it's hardly surprising that Socialist Unity criticises the Tory plans, the wording used by David Blanchflower is damning. It's not some fancy, academic point he's making about economics, it's almost abuse (merited, of course):
"Mr Osborne, I really don’t know which economists are advising you on this brilliant strategy to increase unemployment, but feel free to give me a call. Unemployment makes voters unhappy."

"George Osborne...has little or no experience in economics"

"Where exactly are the new jobs going to come from under your great new strategy, Mr Osborne?"

"Unemployment will explode under your “lack of a plan for jobs”, Mr Osborne!"

I agree

Cameron on Europem and last 'UK' Prime Minister?

"So the question facing the Tory leadership is quite clear: if, by next May, the Lisbon treaty has come into force and Europe has a new president, quite possibly Tony Blair, will Cameron keep his promise to hold a referendum? Yes or no? It's a straightforward question. He knows that to do so would risk a huge row with the rest of Europe, and a fully operational treaty would be harder to unpick than one not yet signed. That's why until now he has used the weaselly words that, if the treaty is signed, he would "not let matters rest there"."
sums it up pretty well.
Slimy git

"An independent Scotland means a Tory majority in England way into the distant future."
Scarey, but i'd imagine it wouldn't last.
I like Scotland, i love being part of the 'UK' with it. Though i'd prefer the Republic of Great Britain


My offering

25th Anniversary of Tory conference bombing

Terrorism eh? Very bad and nasty, even against Tories.
Another example of why democracy must triumph over terrorism and violence, even if it must be the lesser of two evils by compromising itself.

Despite being a liberal, almost libertarian, socialist, i can sympathise with authoritarian government on the basis of protecting life. This is relevant with regards to what we are facing now, and i think pragmatism must win the day. Ideally, it should be put to the people: to forego freedom for life, ir forego life for freedom.
I'd go for the latter, but i wouldn't impose than on others without their consent

Privatisation and asset sales

A drop in the ocean, but Gordy does like a wee privatise on the side.
Desperate times I suppose.
Mandy was top on Today this morning

Taxpayers' Alliance

The Taxpayers' Alliance, of whom i'm not fan, are in a bit of bother, which i do like.

Their director doesn't pay UK tax, so that kinda goes against their thing of getting a better deal for UK taxpayers'
They're a bunch of bastards anyway

Friday, 9 October 2009

Boris Johnson's time as London mayor

If you're after a quiet and balanced view of things, Simon Fletcher is not one to go after. But that holds true for just about everyone on the net, and most people off it.
However, that doesn't make it untrue.

"It is striking that the editor of the newspaper that orchestrated a months-long campaign based on trumped-up charges of cronyism to smear the Labour mayor (Livingstone) should now be exposed as an apparently willing beneficiary of something that looks very much like cronyism from her own candidate Boris Johnson."

Fletcher doesn't criticse Labour, but those who comment at the bottom do, so it all balances out in the end. La la la, lovely lovely

Financial regulation

"It’s clear to me that the FSA has to be very, very wary of seeing the competitiveness of London as a major aim, and that’s not a popular thing to say .."
He's "right on both counts" according to those damn commies at the FT. That's interesting, coz the FT tend to be in favour of business, they might even know a thing or two about it. But aren't they supposed to favour free markets and that? Apparently not. Very interesting.

I'm in total agreement with the closing remark:
"But the regulator’s role is neither to promote the City nor to shrink it. It is to help make financial activities sound, both at home and abroad. This is in the true interest of the UK. Promoting activities likely to generate hugely expensive global crises is not."

Martin Wolf on the economics of it all

Martin Wolf and me don't agree too much.
His article is much more pro-market than i am, much more anti-state.
But we agree on this "What should be done is closely related to when. These sorts of changes must not be rushed. Hasty cuts may lead to bad policies, such as the 60 per cent cut in net investment already decided; and they may also push a fragile economy back into a deep slump."

One of the reasons for this crisis is how usual thought has had to be modified. In orthodox economics, sterling loosing value would be good because our exports would be more attractive, but the collapse in global demand means this needs rethinking.

We agree that long-term government debt is doing ok at the moment, because the bond prices are so low. We agree that attempting to slash everything too quickly will lead to the economy going into freefall. We agree that is a bad thing (not everyone does)
"In sum, the UK is right to plan for a structural fiscal tightening of at least 8 per cent of GDP. But it is unnecessary – and almost certainly a huge error – to implement such a tightening in short order. What is needed instead is a set of structural reforms that are sure to deliver the tightening over an extended period.

Mr Osborne insists that a recovery will only follow when “you show the world that Britain can pay its way”. But with 10-year UK government bond rates at a mere 3.4 per cent, it is perfectly possible that much of the tightening can be delayed until the recovery begins. What matters is the credibility of the new plans, not the urgency of their implementation.

Mr Osborne also talked of the need to be “open and transparent”. But he has been little more so than the government: the changes he announced deliver £7bn of the needed £100bn. The motto of both parties is: “I will do such things – what they are, yet I know not – but they shall be the terrors of the earth!”. This makes for a phoney debate. It needs to become real before the general election. Only then can voters make an informed choice between the alternatives."

Who thought i'd agree with Martin Wolf? Who thought he'd agree with me?

Broken Britain?

It's been said that "a bankrupt and broken nation? Well, the Tory activists, lobbyists and hangers-on who packed Manchester’s bars and restaurants this week seemed prosperous enough" and i'm inclined to agree. The 'broken' thing is taking it all too far.

"Senior Conservatives say that the gloom is all about honesty: tell it how it is and the voters will trust you. A slightly more cynical interpretation says that the darker the picture the party paints before the election, the more credit it will gain when prosperity returns."

Slash and burn is, i think, their 'narrative' just at the moment:
"My fear is that the urge to slash-and-burn has elbowed aside everything else; that for many in Mr Cameron’s party, the casting of government as the villain is a sufficient prospectus to govern."

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Government Asset Protection Scheme

So the money lent to the banks will get paid back with interest, and at 1% that seems pretty reasonable.
If that trend continues, the deficit could disappear quite substantially. Speed is an issue here, but if it works it could go down nicely

Just harmless fun

Political sleight of hand

"Liam Fox talked about cutting MoD civilians by 25% to loud cheers.

What this ACTUALLY means is that the same suits will be doing the same jobs, it’ll just be done by private contractors instead. In fact a friend of mine who works there has basically been told that his department has been bought out. He’ll still work in the same place, still do the same job, and under TUTE he’ll still have all rights accorded to MoD staff, but he won’t show up on the books."
that’s what they’ve been (rightly) accusing Gordy of with PFI, it’s the staffing equivalent of off-balance sheet borrowing

What New Labour hates...

..."Not being able to find the droids we’re looking for."

"Reading through the above, it strikes me that New Labour is irredeemably split on almost all important issues of the day (beards, parsnips, cauliflower, overwashed white shirts) and can achieve an uneasy peace only on letterboxes. No wonder you're ten points behind in the polls. The voters don't like divided parties, particularly on vegetable issues - it reminds them of the great internecine spinach debates of the mid-80s."

Tory economics

From the history thread earlier, but going off track.

One thing I wonder: would it be better for the country long-term to make massive cuts now in order that the short-term problems are tackled for long-term gain?
I don't think so, but it's an idea. It was tried once here just before I was born.
"Perhaps because i'm a geek who loves his head in books and history, politics, and anything else that involves lots of essays, but i think these events very important. I'd probably try to squeeze too much in because i thought it too important to leave out.

I would put in recent history as it shows where we are, but i would not focus too much on our own other than Huge things (detail to follow)
But i certainly think there needs to me a more world-centric view. I loved things like Egypt at school, and the Roman empire.

He alientated some, of course. He did try to tell a Tory story.
On trust, i try to set my bias aside (very difficult) and on that I'm all in favour of Osborne's approach.
On competance (if i may address your being convinced in those terms) I personally favour Darling as i think he's a good, steady pair of hands. Osborne, to me, is a very skilled politican who i think will be Tory PM one day. But on economic matters i don't trust him, partly because i disagree with his philosophy and partly because imporant serious comentators like Blanchflower and Martin Wolf (never thought i'd agree with him) think he's bonkers in the same way i do.
I believe people should be trusted to do something well, even if it's something i agree with. I should disagree with ends, not the means in some ways. But if those who should agree with Osborne on philosophy AND means think he's off track, then that worried me about his handling"

Alan Duncan and inheritance tax

What a little prick he comes across as in this. Even the dumb young tory had a go at answering the question. Duncan keeps telling Harris to 'stop getting hung up' on inheritance tax.
What gets me is that he's a patronising git, attempting to do Harris down as a child rather than engaging and countering the arguements. I'd gave given him a clip round the ear and to learn some decency and manners.
Oh wait, but don't Tories have a monopoly on decency and manners?

A tax on ambition indeed, bollocks. In the odd case it does indeed take away some money people would pass down, but equality of opportunity means people should start from as equal a start as possible. They have taken an anomily and exrapolated it into a philosophy. I know it sucks that the state will tax what's passed from one generation to the next, but overall it is a hell of a good thing for the next generation as a whole. It goes against the wishes of the richest, but in favour of the rest.

On Cameron's Tory Story, and history

From Duff and Nonsense's take on Cameron's philosophy, my reply.

Also, he lists Michael Gove's ideal syllabus. One big problem for me is that he ingores the rest of the world:
"I'm with you on the history actually, that gives a good account of how our country came to be as it is.
I'd query the content of the last two. What's the New Britain, and what's Modern History to the present?
I'd probably do 1945-1979 and 1979 onwards. I pick 1979 because of the real seachang that that election brough and the subsequent changes still felt today. I was trying to think about another event around that time of 60s-70s, but that seems the most important to me.

Also, what about the rest of the world? Birth of civilisation, Egypt, Greece, Rome, Europe etc. etc.

On the speech, I agree that he tried to tell a traditional Conservative story, but I think he kept straying. I think, personally, he needs to try to alienate some people in order to firm up support. I'm one of those who believes in not trying to please everyone all the time, but that means trying to alientate people too.
While he was largely putting together a Tory Story, he didn't quite reach the heights he was after. I think Osborne has come out of this conference better and looking far more serious"


The people who make up Britain - Celts, Anglo-Saxons.

The Roman Invasion

Dark Ages


Liberty and the Magna Carta and Simon de Montfort

War of the Roses

Tudor revival

Henry VIII

Elizabeth I

English Civil War

Glorious Revolution and the Bill of Rights of 1688

Union of Parliaments in 1707

The Growth of Liberty in the early 18th century

Beginnings of industrial revolution

Napoleonic Wars

The Struggle for the Vote in the 19th century, including Great Reform Act, Chartists

Queen Victoria and Great Victorian scientists such as Darwin and Faraday

Growth of the mass media and the mass franchise in the Edwardian Age

Great War

Great Depression of the 1930s

World War Two, including Churchill's role

New Elizabethan Age,

SSWindrush and the New Britain

Modern history to the present"

Alastair Campbell on Cameron's speech

His attack is his own, but I think he has a point.
I like this bit:
"devolution was a good thing. The minimum wage was a good thing. Civil partnerships legislation was a good thing. They all required a bit of big government and they were all opposed by the Tories.

His big theme was that we did not need government but responsibility. But Sure Start was also a good thing. That needed big government to get it going. And of course the NHS is perhaps the best thing of all, and its basic principles untouchable. There was a little bit of having Labour's cake and eating it going on. The best policies in the speech were the Labour ones he said a Tory government would keep."


"What he did was lay down a very old fashioned dividing line, but wheras sometimes GB stands accused of having too many ideas for government action, Cameron's definition of small government seems to be to have lots of admirable goals, and just hope somehow that they come about. It was frankly a bit weird.

Ps. on the buzzword count, am I right in saying banks and bankers rated a Big Zero? His attempt to make the financial crisis all GB's, and nothing to do with his friends and bankrollers, is a bit lame. Also, worth pointing out that Big Governments(s) round the world were essential to preventing recession from becoming depression."

David Blanchflower on the Tories economic plans

and I quote:
"“This is the most wildly dangerous thing I have seen in a hundred years of economic policy in Britain,” Blanchflower said in an interview today. He said the Conservative opposition is “showing no understanding of economics. To remove QE and cut public spending is like a return to 1937 — it could drive the economy into depression. This is the most bizzare set of economic policies I have ever heard.”"

Blanchy's star is pretty high after being the one who arguebly saw the financial fuck up coming, so that's pretty stinging

96% tax rates

If the Tories want to get the FT onside, they have a lot of work to do.
There are a lot of problems on the lower margins around benefits and getting off them, but i don't think Cameron's Tories have the answer

"Labour has just pointed out that in 1998 (a year after the Tories were removed from power) there were 130,000 families facing marginal deduction rates (the technical definition) of over 90 per cent.

That has fallen to 60,000 thanks to the minimum wage, tax credits and lower income tax.

In fact, in 1998 there were 5,000 families facing 100 per cent deduction rates. Every £1 they earned was then taken in tax. The number is now more or less zero
From this Guardian, a vote on the thread.
There are lots of this i agree with, but not the voting Tory bit of course.
I believe in Labour, and i don't think they're all that bad. Better than the Tories when it's a straight fight between the two no matter what. They don't always do as i'd like but i believe in them

"It didn't need much to nudge me to vote Tory after the disaster of Nulabour.
After a lifelong commitment to Labour I expected not even vote at all, at the next election.
But three things impressed me.

Scrapping ID cards and the Nulab surveillance society.

Changing the tax system to make it actually worthwhile for the poorest to take work, if they find it.

The general tone of allowing people responsibility for their own lives. Not treating adults like children and not treating children like adults.

I'll still have to see these policy commitments confirmed in the next few months before I believe them. We'll see...."

Cameron on education

Big Government is the problem, apparently.
State schools are going to be like private schools, apparently. But the thing is resources, how can anyone expect state schools to match private schools when the differences in resources are so stark?
Having more 'competition' hasn't worked so far, opening more schools with better resources for less money does not add up


Broken Society and Big Government, Big Government, Big Government.

He's going back to his roots, that's for sure.

It's Big Government's fault

Cameron's economic policy

Slash and burn.
Same as all his other policies


Cameron is going on about being progressive, what crap

Cameron on Labour

"Labour's achievements - civil partnerships, the minimum wage, devolution - but followed by a long list of bureaucracy that has come with them"
There's something in that, lots of good stuff, too much red tape.
But Cameron is not going to bring about the improvements we need

In defence of Chris Grayling, believe it or not

I think the storm about Grayling is ridiculous. He didn't dismiss Dannat's appointment as a gimmick, he said he hoped it wasn't a gimmick.
Jumping on the bandwagon makes us look pretty pathetic

Welfare state

According to the Mail "Benefits 'wrecked the British work ethic'"
Usual crap.

"The work ethic that inspired successive generations has ebbed away in the face of the welfare state." What rubbish. Especially in a recession, it's not just the 'work shy' who are out of work, but those looking and trying hard to get work. To say we've lost our work ethic is crap.

"There are 2.6million adults who claim the handout meant for the sick and incapable, with around 20 per cent thought to be fully able - but unwilling - to work." Based on what exactly?

"Most economists point to oil price shocks and the collapse of the post-war system of fixed exchange rates in the 1970s for the decline in employment.

Subsequent blows such as housing market collapses or banking failures are also blamed.

But report author Jean-Baptiste Michau rejected these explanations of why unemployment has risen substantially across Europe since the 1970s.

The report in the journal CentrePiece said: 'A decline in the work ethic, induced by the expansion of the welfare state, is key to understanding European unemployment.'"
Bollocks. Moral hazard indeed. While it is an acceptable theoretical arguement, the alternative is the workhouse which is far too far in that direction.

"In Britain, unemployment grew in the 1970s and 1980s, a decade during which many of those without jobs chose to sign on for sickness benefits instead of less generous unemployment payouts.

At least half a million incapacity benefit claimants are thought to have no real disability"
People can't choose to go on incapacity, it has to be assessed. But why let the facts get in the way of a story eh?
Thought to have no real disability - based on what? And i shudder to think about what disabilities the Mail considers not 'real'

Drives me up the bloody wall

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Boris Johnson on Europe

This like watching a car-crash, I can't believe he's Mayor of London.
I wouldn't put him in charge of anything, blimey


A very interesting little snippit this:
"The Stock market took more off my pension in one day than G.Brown's so called pension raid took in 10 years. Then I had a decent pension, now I have to keep working!
As for the salary and pension controls, when you are heir to a substantial fortune (Osborne) and report to a boss (Cameron) worth an estimated £30m, who needs to worry about a salary or pension!
The old saying about peanuts and monkeys springs to mind-do we really want the less able, or only the well heeled, in charge of our public services? Isn't it the case that the P.M's salary is pathetically low, whomsoever occupies the post, or again is it just for the well heeled?"

At the end of the day

At the end of the day, George Ozzy Osborne and David Chameleon got it wrong on the big economic call:
"But the fact remains Osborne got the big call of the century wrong. When the crisis hit, Osborne said we shouldn't intervene, whereas Gordon Brown led the world on a Keynesian crusade which has saved us from the abyss. I know who I would prefer in charge of Britain's finances."

Tory good taste

"Peter Hitchens had the room laughing telling them Cameron has put Rohypnol in the champagne and date-raped the Conservative Party."

Celebrities buy bog roll

The Daily Mail kept to its usual high standards of journalism with this headline: "X Factor hopefuls Stacey and Rachel go shopping for loo roll"
what crap, celebrity-obsessed bollocks.
I really don't see how ANYONE buying bogroll is newsworthy

The Sun is well dumb

Don't think i've got a career as a headline writer to look forward to.
When the Sun switched to the Tories, they reverted to type, 90s style. How?
"New Labour loon Harriet Harman is the latest politician to announce that she wants to ban boobs in the workplace!" apparently. So when the Sun supports the Tories, all of a sudden Labour wants to ban page 3. What bollocks.

I find it odd how all these moral conservatives will go quiet on that, seems like the sort of things they should be up in arms about.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Shortages in social services

There's a story about Birmingham social services being short of cash, lacking staff etc.
The things are
1) cuts will be terrible and make things worse than they are
2) where will the money come from?

Cameron and Europe

From the FT
Cameron may be stuck in sticky mud over Europe:

"Playing hardball runs the risk of wasting the first year (term?) of a Tory government in a fruitless European battle. The pragmatic route, however, will never satisfy his party"

What will he do? It will certainly be a test of his leadership

"Cameron is the height of ridicule"

The FT, that famously left-wing Labour-supporting publication has come up with my headline of the day so far:
Cameron is the height of ridicule

"He said that Britain’s Conservatives were “hiding behind the Czechs (who have still not full ratified the treaty), which is not very glorious for the UK”.

“This strategy can only weaken the UK in Europe. Look at what happened with the EPP group. They have marginalised themselves. They have fundamentally shot themselves in the foot.”"

The French may not be everyone's favourite, but I think they have a point

George Osborne's economics

A good laugh at the best of times.
The ever-so-unbiased Kevin Maguire writing in the ever-so-unbiased Mirror draws attention to George Osborne's economic advisor.
Danny Blanchflower is riding high at the moment, his economic fears were shown true in the recent economic fuck up. He wanted earlier action to tackle it etc.
Now, he obviously knows a thing or two about economics because he largely agrees with me.
If I was to stake out my economic beliefs right now, they would be broadly along these lines:

""It is not hard to work out that, with unemployment rising fast, it isn't the right time to cut public sector jobs, wages or public spending for that matter.
"Mr Osborne, I really don't know which economists are advising you on this brilliant strategy to increase unemployment, but feel free to give me a call. Unemployment makes voters unhappy."

Or try this: "The time for cutting public spending is not now, not next year and not the year after."

Or this: "If large numbers of public sector workers, perhaps as many as a million, are made redundant and there are substantial cuts in public spending in 2010, as proposed by some in the Conservative Party, five million unemployed or more is not inconceivable. They could be our lost generation.""

The elephant in the room has a large sticker on the side of it (humane of course) asking How You Gonna Pay For It?
It's having a snooze so i'd best not disturb it

London Spending Cuts

"Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, will today announce £2.6bn of extra savings on public transport in the capital to as part of an attempt to underline the Conservatives' commitment to bringing down spending"

Yay, spending cuts! Just what we need. Where have our fare rises gone Mr Johnson? What can we expect for our money?
More taxis and expenses for the major, no doubt

Benefit cuts

My take:
The usual attack on the poor and vulnerable. It's hard enough to get benefits when they're needed, this is just motivated by a heart-less cull of those least able to defend themselves

Greek lefties triumph

Good on ya lads (and lasses).
"Greek socialists achieve resounding win in snap election"

i wonder if they have beards....

Tory attacks on benefit claimants

"Sickness benefit cheats to face tough Tory test" from the Telegraph.
Usual Tory rubbish - attack those most vulnerable and least able to defend themselves against the mulit-million pound Tory and media attacks.
Labour rubbish it, of course. Their line being: "a rehash of what we're already doing, but without the investment needed to make them work."

I agree with the Lib Dem line of Steve Webb: “This is yet more Tory posturing ... Much of what David Cameron is proposing is happening already. But the central assumption – that unemployment is simply about the workshy not applying for jobs – is ridiculous in the middle of a global recession.”
I thank you

Sunday, 4 October 2009

A rightist take on Cameron

Very interesting that

"almost half of voters confess that they don't know exactly what he stands for – and the figure has remained steady for the past 15 months. Most worrying of all for the Tories is the fact that a third of their own voters don't know what their party leader stands for."

Hardly surprising in that he will say one thing one minute, the opposite the next. David Chamelon is not too far off

i thought 'don't say anything' was a good strategy at first, with policies coming out not long before the election. He still has time to do that, and now is probably his best chance to set out some solid, divisive policies. I think all sides need some policies which are divisive, so that some people will get pissed off but others will love them. Potential Vote Loosers, but potential vote winners.
He's started with The Sun yesterday, but he's got a long way to go before he can lead people into battle.

"For those reasons the media won’t allow the “smile, nod, wave and say very little” brigade to win the day. Team Cameron will be questioned about their detailed plans and consequences.

We come back to the Marr interview. As mentioned below it was a less than impressive performance by Cameron, which Mike Smithson has also picked up on. There was that rather fretful look on his face and his failure to give answers to key questions on Lisbon and what public spending cuts would mean for unemployment.

It was clear that Cameron's strategy for “Operation Seal the Deal” will be “smile, nod, wave and say very little”.

On the evidence of this morning, he may not be allowed to get away with it."

William Hague on Europe

William Vague more like. haha.
Anyway, his policy on europe (other than "we're not telling you") can be best characterised by They Do What We Tell Them. How are they going to get Europe to do as they ask? No detail on that, funnily enough