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Sunday, 31 May 2009

Balls (and Cooper)

Labour home is discussing the possibility of Ed Balls being moved to Chancellor.
I quite like Balls myself, he's very passionate, a bit tribal, really clever and determined.
Whether he'd make a good chancellor, not yet i'd say. He's much too young for something like that I think.
However, once again the issue of expenses came up and the idea that he has some sort of injunction protecting him, but seeing as he's already been covered and found not guilty, I have a feeling it may be anti-Labour bollocks. Seeing how things are for us right now, i don't much see the point

Friday, 29 May 2009

Another take on expenses

To be fair, i'm getting pretty sick of the expenses story, you'd think there was nothing else going on in the world.
I found a very decent piece in the mirror which caught my attention for being controversal:
MPs aren’t all bent.. and all are better than Esther Rantzen
Great start, all good stuff

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Julie Kirkbride on expenses

The embattled Julie Kirkbride has been defending herself in the Times. The comments make it clear that she has failed.
I think her defence is not too bad, there ARE big outgoings involved in being an MP, that’s for sure. So there are some reasonable things to be claimed for on expenses.
BUT, it seems like she wants every essential thing in life to be paid for by the public purse, which is what WAGES are for. I have to pay rent and bills out of my wages, i’d dearly love to get my employer to pay for them for me. All this on top of the fact that she herself earns £60k+ as an MP, plus the fact she’s bloody posh to start with.
But the thing that stinks is her refusal to acknowledge the fact that she and her husband broke the law on the two houses, plus i don’t see how those photos of her (paid on expenses) are really essential to her job.
In a way it’s sad that people get party political over this, but then we have HUGE houses, duck houses, chandeliers, moats, tennis courts etc. Which are all Tory claims.
Labour haven’t come out of this great with the housing, but it’s one hell of a difference in the things claimed for.

The comments are very critical of her for using the ‘wife and mother’ excuse. Don’t know if that’s fair or just public anger, having no children of my own i can’t compare. She certainly doesn’t seem to spend much time with her child...

Cameron's houses

How many houses does David Cameron own?
Simple enough question. The answer is:
"I own a house in North Kensington and… in the constituency in Oxfordshire and that is, as far as I know, all I have."
He then started to get confused, said he might own four homes after all, and pleaded: “Do not make me sound like a prat for not knowing how many houses I’ve got.”

Firstly, how can a bloke run a country if he doesn't even know how many houses he owns? Perhaps because he's got so many, or because his estates are so big he looses count of how many he has on the land.
Secondly, why is he so unsure? I'd imagine that his vast estates, and those of his wife, may not go down too well with voters, especially as he's trying to present himself as the mate of the everyman, Dave Cameron, innit?

So much for his honesty eh?

It also shows his obsession with sound bites and how he will be percieved. Blair was attacked for being good at it, Brown for being bad at it. Can't win eh?

Good work Next Left:
"The fact that David and Samantha Cameron are worth an almost-entirely-inherited £30m, according to financial expert Philip Beresford, isn’t in itself damning. Franklin Roosevelt was very rich, but became a great crusader for the poor. But Cameron is advocating policies that will benefit his tiny class of super-rich Trustafarians at the expense of the rest of us. He is committed to spending billions on a massive tax cut for the richest inheritees, paid for by the bottom 94 percent of us – and now he has announced his enthusiasm for a bogus economic theory that will justify shovelling far more of our money their way."

The worse the taste, the funnier

My boss drew my attention to this story, not for the story itself but for the following comment, which had me rolling about:
"It's such a shame that this lady was so scared that she felt the need to do something like this. But what's more amazing is that there's a brand of freezer that kept going for 20 years!"

Amused me

Servants Quarters on expenses

The Tory expenses thing is rattling on, and this one is right up there with the bets of them.

"Sir John Butterfill built a servants' wing at his country home in Surrey for the gardener and his wife with taxpayers' money"

I think the ducks are still ahead though

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Clive James on expenses

Some very interesting points raised by Clive James:
“The Daily Telegraph spilled the stories about the Labour MPs first. With the conspicuous exceptions of three MPs who didn't claim all they could - a peculiar characteristic which we'll get to later - most of them seem to have been working the system in the direction of the limits allowed.”
“Even the most active of the Labour MPs seemed pretty unambitious when it became the turn of the Tory MPs to have their stories spilled.
Your typical Labour expenses claimer claims the expense on an extra radiator to heat his bedroom. Your typical Tory expenses claimer claims the expense on extra pipes to heat his swimming pool.
It's a different level of expectation. At either level, upmarket or downmarket, the tacit claim, the one that doesn't get written down, is - I need these things to live.
Another way of putting it is a sense of entitlement. With the Tories it's ingrained. These comforts are what used to be delivered automatically if you were a member of the aristocracy.
With the Labour MPs it's aspirational. These comforts are what one ought to have if one is a member of the meritocracy. But either way, the deep down assumption is that a certain standard of living should go with the job“.
“Though it's sometimes easy for the media to forget it, most MPs really do need two places to live, one in the constituency and the other in the capital city, and it's only simple justice that the London residence should be reasonably civilised.”
“In the bad old days, MPs from out of town crashed in a cheap hotel or festered in bedsits. Only an unreconstructed Maoist radical would say that they should go back to that. The belief that a politician must live like a student is one that only a student would hold.”
“But although entitlement is a tedious word, a sense of entitlement is a useful phrase, because it sounds like a dangerous thing to have, and indeed it is.
The phrase cropped up almost as soon as the danger did, when executives in public service started expecting a large salary, with large perquisites to top it up, because, they claimed, that was what they would be worth on the free market. Claiming that, they started claiming everything, and the mood soon spread.
It spread fast, and spread far, not because most people are anti-social, but because they are too social. If everybody else is doing it, perhaps I should too.
At full stretch, the sense of entitlement means that almost everybody takes what they can get. On a low level of ambition, the result is what the Americans call the Serpico scenario, when the honest cop is shunned by the other cops because he won't take the free sandwich from the deli“.

“On a higher level of ambition we get newspaper proprietors who don't pay taxes here because they can get away with paying less somewhere else.
Some of the reporters currently pounding out stories about MPs avoiding thousands in tax are working for proprietors who avoid millions.”
“Even if you believe that a free market is essential, you can't believe that a free market is sufficient and still be a politician. If you did believe that, you would be a warlord. Regulating the free market is what a government does.”
“The apparent scam of MP expenses looks bad, but the fact that it looks bad is the very thing that makes it not so bad. The outrage that we are encouraged to feel means that we live in a country where corruption is not the norm.”


This comment i find the most strange:
In essence, it’s ok for Tories to binge on expenses because they are rich, but Labour attempt to represent the poor and therefore are held to a higher standard. An arguement i often hear from conservatives.
Clive you miss the point. I expect greedy bankers to grub for money. I know that Tories in general are better off - and work the system. I have no illusions that leaders of industry make millions from shady deals. No. What is important here is the fact that Labour - and I single them out particularly - are supposed to represent the common working class man in Britain. A Labour MP is supposed to be better than a Tory because he stands for hard work and equality. This is their political stance and because they have always taken this to the voters, their money grabbing troughing is all the more dishonest. Who is the most trustworthy? A porn star running for election in the US with nothing to hide or a supposedly God fearing politician who behind closed doors behaves like a member of the Roman court and in public sells himself as a pure man? Labour have tried to sell themselves as pure but have behaved like closet whores. That is the distinction and why they in particular deserve the hounding that they are currently getting.
Mark Chisholm, Dereham, UK

Electoral reform

Electoral reform. Two words almost guarenteed to bore the crap out of anyone who hears them.
But electoral reform is the big cheese to be sniffed at all round just at the moment. All the leaders are falling over themselves to reform the entire way everything about democracy works.

I remember talking to Chris Bryant about this. The poor lad was a part of trying to reform the whole thing, and said that the problem stemmed from the fact that no-one cares about constitutional reform. People care about the health service, schools, immigration etc., but not the power of MPs to select the members of a select committee and so nothing gets done.
On top of this apathy is the fact that the people involved have benefited from things being as they are, so they are much less likely to reform the system that they've done well from.

Maybe the current mood will allow some more force to get behind the change, but i'm not so sure. i think people will get easily bored by some of the facts of this case and just concentrate on clamping down on expenses.
I also get the feeling that Cameron's reforms will amount to little more than the freedom to do as he wishes

I would like:
Independent select committees selected by MPs with real power to ammend legislation, with the ability to get outside evidence
the timetable set independently of government to give power to Parliament
some form of PR in the constituencies
fixed term parliaments
local authority control over ALL public services
written constitution


....no more tories?
ok, maybe a bit over the top. maybe

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Britishness

I was just thinking about what it means to be British and why the BNP are not what I consider the best of British.
To me, it's political. Britain is built on secular(ish) liberal capitalism. I'd personally like it to be more secular, more liberal and less capitalist.
I'm often told by those that come here that they are so proud and happy to be here, often more so than those born here who are often desperate to leave.
To me, British-ness is all in the mind, and not at all in the pigment or the genes

Goal of the season

The Guardian are doing a Goal Of The Season post here
My favourite is Grafite's backheel. nevermind the run, just the backheel. with Simon Cox a close second

Porno Pizza

I got some junk email through advertising this, thought it too funny to leave...
...only to then find that it's real!

Then I found the real site here, with great porno pizza names such as Missionary Position (Old Reliable) and Climax (Loaded) .
Class

Sunday, 24 May 2009

BNP

Ha ha, the BNP suck
here
and here

UKIP happy in the trough

it seems that UKIP wanker leader Nigel Farage has been doing the same thing he's been happily attacking Labour and evil Conservative etc MPs for doing: big expenses claims.
Not only that, but his opposition to the EU hasn't stopped him taking all he can get from it and us

no mention in the Mail

Saturday, 23 May 2009

How to know you're living in a consumerist nightmare, no 1

A mate of mine has recently changed jobs, from charity fundraising to selling Paint Ball days out.
One of the reasons he gave was that the paint balling was more honest.
So we have a COMPANY more ethical and honest than a CHARITY. That's pretty bad. Also what i'm appalled by is the nature of the paint ball thing. It's as far from a necessity as possible, while a charity is actually of value and importance to people and yet they need to lie and decieve while the company is honest and true.

Perfect example of what's wrong with the world right there

Ethical shoes

For ages i've been trying to find some shoes that we not made in a sweat shop. Yesterday, I found some No Sweat Apparel trainers in the Natural Shoe Shop in London.
I'm really happy with the shoes so far, and i'm off to join No Sweat

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Labour

So it seems that Brown will not go of his own accord.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Cat!!

on a turn table!

speaker

scapegoat anyone?

BNP and being British

Wow. Charlie Brooker. You beauty is an understatement.
This is a perfect articulation of what's wrong with the BNP. Never mind the racism, the fact that British people gave their lives in WWII to STOP racists like the BNP has never been so well put.
Talking about his old headmaster:
"He'd fought in the second world war, he told us. Our village had a memorial commemorating friends of his who had died. Many were relatives of ours. These villagers gave their lives fighting a regime that looked down on anyone "different", that tried to blame others for any problem they could find; a bullying, racist regime called "the Nazis". Millions of people had died thanks to their bigotry and prejudice. And he told us that anyone who picked on anyone else because they were "different' wasn't merely insulting the object of their derision, but insulting the headmaster himself, and his dead friends, and our dead relatives, the ones on the war memorial. And if he heard of anyone - anyone - using racist language again, they'd immediately get the slipper.

Our headmaster had fought for his country, and for tolerance, all at once. That's what I understood it meant to be truly "British": to be polite, and civil and fair of mind.

But according to the BNP, I'm wrong. Being British is actually about feeling aggressed, mistrustful, overlooked, isolated, powerless, and petrified of "losing my identity". Britishness incorporates a propensity to look around me with jealous eyes, fuming over imaginary sums of money being doled out to child-molesting asylum-seekers by corrupt PC politicians who've lost touch with the common man - a common man who, coincidentally, happens to be white.

They're wrong, obviously. None of these qualities has anything whatsoever to do with being British, but everything to do with ugly nationalist politics. And ugly nationalist politics are popular all over the world. Just like Pringles. Every country has its own tiny enclave of frightened, disenfranchised, misguided souls clinging to their national flag, claiming they're the REAL patriots, saying everyone's out to get them. It's an international weakness. For the BNP to claim to be more British than the other British parties is as nonsensical as your dad suddenly claiming to have invented the beard."

class

Monday, 18 May 2009

Newspaper headlines

Now, I know that (football) journalists sometimes go over the top, but this is going a bit far:
"Juventus Sack Claudio Ranieri, Ciro Ferrara Takes Over - World ..."

Labour's prospects

Polly Toynbee has written that only Alan Johnson can save Labour, with his biggest asset being the fact that he's not Gordon Brown. It's a real shame that so much stall is put my polls, with Toynbee really only saying that Brown is unpopular in the polls and therefore needs to go.
Johnson can replace Brown as no one can think of anyone else.
He's a bit right, but hey, why not? Gordy is leading us into oblivion. I've said before that he should stay for the sake of staying, but i'm not convinced, and that's its own problem.
I had a very interesting chat with a friend who used to work in No. 10 about Gordy's inability to macro manage but obsession with the micro, and that's a big part of his problem.
Should he stay or should he go? In a democracy, looks like he should go. He should have gone to the country when he took over, but bottled it and has only got worse since then

Friday, 15 May 2009

Orwellian society, Big Brother and Two Minutes Hate

I was listening to Radio 5 and they were doing one of their call-in things.
It subject was expenses, as everything is at the moment.
It reminded me of Two Minutes Hate from Orwell's 1984.
The enemy is shown in all their evil while people vent their anger, like with the bankers and the other targets dangled in front of our noses to distract us from the detailed happenings in the world.

bizarre injuries

This is classic.
Footballer injured by egg. The best bit is "hot liquid squirted onto his face and scalded his cheek"

Other classics are:
Former Everton goalkeeper Richard Wright missed an FA Cup match against Chelsea in the 2005-06 season when he ignored a sign warning players not to warm up in the goalmouth, before tripping over it and twisting his ankle.

Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand once strained a tendon in his knee when he put his leg up on a coffee table while watching television.

And veteran goalkeeper Dave Beasant spent two months on the sidelines in 2001 after dropping a bottle of salad cream on his foot, severing the tendon in his big toe.

also from the above.

I'm pretty sure Sanath Jayasuriya once injured his shoulder in the shower too

expenses

Some more top work from Paul Halsell:
Some Sense on MPs Salaries
The true patrons of this greed are an over-mighty press | Martin Kettle | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk


One basic reason why politics has reached this point is that members of parliament were historically poorly paid for the amount of work that modern MPs expect to do. In 1983, when Gordon Brown first went to the Commons, an MP earned just over £15,000. It was an absurdly low figure even then. So what did those who could have changed the system do? They did nothing. Margaret Thatcher refused to give MPs the increase they needed or the framework for future salary review that would have put parliamentary financing on a defensible basis. And John Major, Tony Blair and Brown all followed her lead. Today's £65,000 parliamentary salary is better in real terms than 1983, and it is certainly a good income, but it is not high when compared with legislators in many other countries, or with the professions with whom MPs might sensibly be compared.

Why did Thatcher and the rest hold off? Not because MPs didn't need the money or wouldn't vote for it. They held off because they were afraid of the newspapers, particularly the Sun. They were not prepared to risk the wrath of Rupert. It was the press who stood between MPs and a sensible income. So the true patron of the expenses system against which the press rages today is the press itself.



To see the Daily Mail, owned by the tax-dodging Lord Rothermere (Private Eyes, passim); and the Daily Telegraph, owned by the really weird Barclay brothers, lead an effort at lynching is disgraceful.

UPDATE: One of the worst cases so far has been of the married Tory MPs Andrew Mackay and Julie Kirkbride. But in fact this story was, to its credit, pushed by an internal Conservative Party review. The Telegraph said nothing, perhaps because Ms. Kirkbride was a senior former employee there. See article at The Guardian.

Expenses. Distressing

Because I am giving the benefit of the doubt to a Tory:

It seems that a newspaper may have invented/bend/exagerated the truth in order to supplement their story!
It may even be the case that their great story about expenses is more reliant on anger and bile than fact.
Now, I know some people believe that MPs are all rotten and do all they can to back this view up, so that helps.
Thing is, we ALL do that as part of nature. Any position that we take, we take for a reason. All the data and stimuli we come into contact with is to numerous and complex that we distill the details. This means we sometimes miss things. Sometimes this is deliberate.
I think the Telegraph story utilises a lot of that


The Daily Telegraph
Posted Friday, 15 May 2009 at 16:02

Here is my letter from the Telegraph and my reply.



There is one thing I know about me better than anyone else. I never do anything I know to be wrong and I have common sense by the bucketful.





PRIVATE AND CONFIDENTIAL

Dear Nadine Dorries,

The Daily Telegraph is investigating the expense claims made by MPs under the Parliamentary additional costs allowance system since the 2004/05 financial year.

We are considering publishing an article in tomorrow’s newspaper (16th May 2009) which will contain details of your expense claims.

We are aware of the provisions of the statutory instrument passed by Parliament last July and will therefore not be publishing members’ addresses or any other details which could compromise security.

However, as a matter of legitimate public interest and concern, we intend to publish the following details about your expense claims under the Additional Costs Allowance. We would invite you to respond to the following points.

1. In 2006 you claimed for the cost of a hotel stay on New Year's Eve and another just a few days before Christmas, when the House was not sitting. Please can you explain why you felt this was an appropriate use of public funds.



I have never spent a New Years Eve away from my daughters and I have never spent it in a hotel, ever. In fact, New Years Eve 2006 is when I held a party and cooked a 12 bird roast and I blogged the entire evening. Anyone reading this can check it out.



The Telegraph has an invoice charged to MR N Dorries, which was submitted, but never paid. I don’t actually submit the invoices, my PA does, and that one may have been submitted in error, In error - because I never stayed at any hotel on New Years Eve ever if it had ever been paid it would have been refunded IMMEDIATLEY. What may have happened is that someone who is not a member of the Carlton Club may have booked a room in my name, friends do, however; my other point is that I am not even sure the Carlton Club is open over Xmas and New Year?



The fact is though that an invoice was submitted from my office, for a room I didn’t stay in, which is obviously an error and no money was paid to me for that invoice.



2. You also put in several hotel bills that included minibar drinks. Please can you explain why you felt this was an appropriate use of public funds.



Oh that the Carlton Club had mini bars in the rooms, it does not. If I ever bought a drink in the Carlton I paid cash. For some reason they are still listed on the invoice, however, they were not paid. I have not, to my knowledge ever received public funds to buy alcohol for either myself or visiting guests and constituents and do not think it would be an appropriate use of public funds. If that is the case and I am very happy to be proved wrong then I will not hesitate to refund. To think that that you could accuse me of behaving like a journalist shocks me.

3. When you moved out of your flat in Westminster, the fees office demanded repeatedly that you repay the £2,190 deposit but you did not and eventually they docked your rent claims in order to recoup the money. Please explain why you did not repay the deposit when asked.



Because the landlord was seriously dodgy and refused to pay back any of the deposit. The flat was left in an immaculate and pristine condition. Despite my threats of legal action which would have cost even more, I eventually gave up. I lost the £2,190 as a result of renting a flat in order to carry out my job. a months salary. The fees office should not have taken the money from me they should have chased the landlord for it. In fact, I want that money back! I will also ask my PA to post first thing on Monday morning the correspondence between myself and said dodgy landlord who doesn’t return deposits at the end of tenure.



4. Your file shows that you twice demanded that the fees office make "urgent" payments of several thousand pounds to your bank account and when one did not arrive immediately, a member of your staff rang and told them to "sort it out". Please explain why you felt this was appropriate.

5. Your file also complains of a "lack of co-operation" in completing the ACA forms correctly and complying with their requests for information about your addresses. Please explain why you did not co-operate with the fees office.



Answer to both above questions I am afraid result as a total lack of frustration towards a department which is frequently overworked and understaffed. The fees office continuously loses invoices, leases and payments. Sometimes I am thousands of pounds out whilst waiting to be paid. When I am told I can’t be paid because they have yet again, lost the invoice, I sometimes lose my rag. I’m sorry. I know I shouldn’t, it’s just that I have other more important things to do and few hours to do them in.



I emailed the fees office with my change of house details at the same time as I told them to my whip in 2008.

6. Land Registry records show that your former family home in *************was sold in 2007. You have announced publicly that you have separated from your husband. Since then the only address on any of your files is your rented house in Bedford, on which you are claiming ACA. On this basis, we have reason to believe that you only live in one home and are therefore ineligible to claim an allowance for running a second home. While you have our assurance that we will not print your address, please state exactly where you consider your main home to be and in what way you are eligible to claim the second home allowance.



I have no intention of exposing every detail of my private existence, what little I have, on this blog. However, needs must. I rent a house/office/ surgery in my constituency. This house is used in connection with my duties as an MP. For example – this weekend I have had meetings all day Friday. I am presenting to a patients group in Barton-Le-Clay surgery on changes in the NHS tonight. I am canvassing Saturday and attending a church service on Sunday and then after the church service writing a speech for the Police and Crime Bill to be delivered next week.

On the weekends I have free, and during the recess, I go somewhere else. I am not publishing the address. I gave it to my whip and emailed it to the fees office in 2008. I spend most of the holidays abroad, all of which can be confirmed. My children stay with me when I am in the constituency, where I go my girls go, however, one also lives in London and one is at Uni. This has not always been the case. I now spend my late nights in London. At my own expense.

I keep the dogs at the constituency address as I am often there on my own and it confuses them being moved around. When I am not in the constituency, especially during the long summer break, we have a house sitter, at my expense. Again, this can be confirmed.

During term time I spend the majority of weekends in the constituency as my job tends to be seven days a week, as detailed above. My youngest daughter has attended a school in Bedford since last September. Up until September she attended a school ‘somewhere else’. My eldest daughter had a term time job during the last year in the constituency before commencing work in London in a PR firm.

My doctor, dentist and recent hospital treatment have all recently been undertaken ‘somewhere else’.



We do not presently see the justification for all of these claims under the rules or spirit of the rules set out in the Parliamentary Green Book. These stipulate that enhancing property is not allowed and that purchases which are "extravagant or luxurious" should be avoided.

What on earth are you talking about? Enhancing property?? Extravagant luxurious expenditure???



Please could we receive your comments by 5pm today so that they can be given due weight in our inquiries and properly reflected in any article we decide to publish. Please could you also inform us if you do not wish to comment.



You have my comments now. I will refute any accusations you wish to make against me, myself. Given that we all know the so called ‘chandelier; was in fact a paper lamp shade with glass beads hanging from the bottom you will excuse my not trusting you to give me a fair shout.



Many thanks for your time and I look forward to hearing from you shortly. I can be contacted on ******or ***********@telegraph.co.uk

Yours sincerely,

Comments on expenses

Paul Halsall, you beauty!

Finally someone talking some sense about the expenses thing:
"I agree some MPs - from all parties - seem to have acted like pigs at the trough. But the total amount concerned is just under £16 million per year for ALL the MPs together. This is a really small amount in context. About the cost of a a military helicopter perhaps?

Meanwhile the Daily Telegraph is owned by those weird brothers who live in a fake castle off the coast of Sark and have every interest in seeing our elected representatives reduced in power.

The alternative to the House of Commons and Parliament is not freedom, but exclusive control by the very rich and very powerful - think of somewhere like Dubai, where thousands of workers live in block-houses while the rich live in palaces. "

Peers suspended

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2009/may/14/labour-peers-suspended

Now, why is it that these peers may be barred because they offered to change laws for money, but many on the Conservative front bench do so as a legitimate job?
I don't necessary want this to be a party issue, i just would like to know what the difference is

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Dennis Skinner is better than god

Hail Dennis Skinner!
http://www.gofourth.co.uk/good-old-dennis

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Never let the facts get in the way of a good story

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2009/may/10/gordon-brown-cleaner-mps-expenses

That much is clear from the story above. It seems that the Torygraph were keen to ‘sex up’ the story in any way they could. That to me is the issue, the trustworthiness of the press in addition to the odd dodgy MP.

Football

Blog on football
I'm a Southend fan but have a soft spot for Arsenal. Watching the Man U game it was clear the difference in class. Arsenal started well but Man U took the sting out of them before their goal.
Arsenal are short of leaders and something up top. The most important space on a football pitch is between a players ears. At the moment too many arsenal players have an empty space there.
A big strong, dominant centre half, a big strong dominant holding mid and someone to replace Adebayor who doesn't look too interested.
Taking models from recent history, Arsenal need Adams and Vieira

jobs and the economy

Blog on jobs

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/8043033.stm

Pretty depressing viewing. I’m just glad to have a job at the moment, and these figures back up my gratitude. According to this, the next three months will continue to be tough, with the possibility of improvements after.
While the public sector has previously been softening the blow, it seems now that even public sector jobs are at risk, with 3,000 expected to go in the next six months.
The bit that most gets me is “Overall many more employers are expecting to fire rather than hire staff. The gap between the two is the biggest in the survey's five-year history.”
This is the worst in (five years) history! Oh no.
That’s something of a stupid statement. Five years is nothing really in the grand scheme of things. It just struck me as a bit silly-sounding.

Expenses disclosure

Blog on expenses.
This is hard for me. I’m sitting down. I’ve taken some deep breaths and got my shower and darkened room prepared.
Fair.
Play.
To.
David.
Cameron.
Ick.
From what I’ve heard (never the best way to start anything, but neither is praising a Tory) Cameron has only claimed mortgage and utility bills from his expenses. Which is pretty much what i think expenses should be for, rather than Letwin repairing his garden tennis court.


Typical Daily Mail:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1180225/I-didnt-come-politics-whats-owed--What-Speaker-allegedly-told-MP.html
'I have been a trade unionist all my life. I did not come into politics not to take what is owed to me.'
It is, of course, very important to be able to prove these things. But then, never let the facts get in the way of a good story.

Should Gordie go?

Polly Toynbee writes that the time has come for Brown to go because he offers no vision.
I'd probably slightly favour him staying on. We're dead in the water it seems, so there's not much to loose either way. I tend to be in favour of giving people longer to turn things around, especially in football but in politics too.
For all of Toynbee's attack on Brown, she lacks what she attacks him for lacking: "vision". What should our new leader be about, never mind who they are. I think Brown missed a trick in not having an election, always have. The Tories were reinvigorated by Cameron's election, and I think Labour needs a proper leadership contest rather than just crowning a new leader

Monday, 11 May 2009

Internet news charges

Very interesting piece on Radio 4 right now.
As a bloke who's made lots of money from the net, and sucks up to Murdoch, i'm pleased to hear him squerm.
Someone who's made lots of money from markets is now complaining about market forces and how divorced they are from the inherent value that derives from the sum of its parts.
ha, take that behatch

Friday, 8 May 2009

Mandelson's response

Mandy has responded with a really firey rebuttal.
He draws attention to something that most 'normal'/'real' etc. people acknowledge. When they want to admit it anyway: bias from ownership.

This to me is class:
""I don't blame members of the public reacting in the way they do. This story has been presented in precisely that way in order to provoke such a reaction."

He said anyone could "raise questions" over expenses claims and added: "Let's wait and see whether the Conservatives, who this paper supports, [whether it] gives them quite the same prominence, quite the same space that today's paper has given to members of the Labour party's cabinet.""

Expenses disclosure

So the papers are carrying the story about ministers' expenses.

Good.

Let's have some accountability. Let's have some reform of the expenses system so that the sorts of things that people usually have to pay for from their wages are excluded.
My take would be along the lines that:
Attendance should be rewarded, non-attendance punished. Thumbs up to Gordie on that one.
Rent should be covered for the second home that is a necessity of doing the job.
Travel.
Office expenditure.

After that, there's not too much that should be allowed. Staff should NOT be paid out of expenses but rather a central fund.

Outside interests should be clamped down on.

There's probably other things. Ideally, there would be a debate on this but i'd need people to read this first

Defending the Minimum Wage

I've been doing some work on the minimum wage. Some people would rather it was lowered, some that it was abolished altogether.
There are some Conservative MPs trying to get it abolished. I think that is a terrible idea, although I know their arguements.
I'm calling for restraint, both personally and professionally. That means a sensible rise.
John Prescott, as part of the excellent Go Fourth campaign, sent me the following on facey and i thought it worthy of referencing here:

"The reason I'm emailing is that I've got a Facebook group you may be interested in, supporting the Minimum Wage against a group of Tory backbenchers who are trying to get an opt-out put in, which would essentially fatally undermine it.

"I was wondering if you'd fancy doing a little blog/vlog on the issue as it strikes me as similar to the Dan Hannan/NHS nonsense.

"What we have is the real face of the Tory party revealing themselves, with David Cameron desperately trying to avoid mentioning it or bringing it to light.

"Just as with Dan Hannan, Cameron is not commenting on the matter at all as he doesn't have the backbone to stand up to his own party.

"So given the similarity of the two cases I hoped you'd do a blog, link to the group, encourage people to join and sign the petition etc."



Alex - I'm going to do more than that. I'm launching an all out campaign to Kill This Tory Bill and expose the Tories for what they are.

This is the 'change' Cameron is promising.

On May 15 the Employment Opportunities Bill has its second reading in the House of Commons.

Proposed by senior Tory Christoper Chope MP and 11 other Conservative MPs, it will allow firms to effectively opt out of the minimum wage of £5.73 an hour and pay what they like.

The second part of the bill will force all public sector organisations to advertise their job vacancies externally, so that those outside the 'magic circle would have the freedom to compete for jobs on an equal basis.'

Christopher Chope told the House of Commons:

"It is about removing the barriers to work that have been introduced since the last recession. It is not only an essential supply-side measure; it is also a restoration of that basic human right—the right to work."

The Tory MPs backing the bill are:

Christopher Chope, Peter Bone, Philip Davies, Nigel Evans, Greg Knight, Edward Leigh, Ian Liddell-Grainger, Brian Binley, William Cash, Robert Syms and David Wilshire.

Here's what you can do to kill this Tory Bill

1. You can read the Hansard of the First Reading the Bill here http://tinyurl.com/d9g7ao

2. sign Alex Ross's petiton here http://tinyurl.com/dlvncb

3. Join the Facebook group here http://tinyurl.com/c2sxlg

4. Watch my YouTube clip here http://tinyurl.com/d2lqhx

5. Find out more about Labour's minimum wage here http://tinyurl.com/cqheph

Please pass this onto your friends - get them to get involved and let's Kill This Tory Bill together.

JP"



All this about the 'Human Rights To Work' is crap. All it is really about is the right to pay people dirt wages for their jobs, and it's not on

Thursday, 7 May 2009

George Osborne

George Osborne writing here on how progressive he is.
Even IF Cameron and Osborne ARE as lefty as they claim, their party is not and therefore their claim is not really valid.
New Labour are still to the left of the Conservatives, and the Conservatives are still to the right of Labour.


So, after my initial noticing of it, i've now read it.
The thing that stands out to me is "make use of open source IT to drive down costs and improve standards."
Wow, that's big. A Conservative twat shadow chancellor has just committed to using something non-profit instead of standard private (by definition).

He does let himself down when trying to attack Brown for his attempts to "fight on the old terrain of "Tory cuts versus Labour spending"."
Well, that IS how it is.
In this article Osborne is trying to say that the Conservatives are a bit like Labour, slightly different and more competant.
I believe that his assment of Labour's lack of ideas would reflect equally onto his party. Their idea is to get experts in to help micromanage the odd policy, while getting a Labour-ish think tank into bed briefly so as not to put off too many middle/floaters/moderates/Lib Dem etc. They are making a centre-right appeal to the odd centre lefty. Not unwise really, apart from the centre-RIGHT bit which is obviously silly and wrong by definition. Of course.

Of course I don't like it, I'm a lefty. I make no pretense to impartiality.
The use of phrases such as "age of austerity" are their attempt to justify their planned cuts with the use of "austerity" to give them weight and the appearance of being ready to govern

The Economist's take on the budget

I was sitting on the bus last night reading an old copy of the economist I found in my bag. It was dated 25th April and was reflecting on the budget. To be fair, it was a rant. It was a rant about how rubbish Gordon Brown and his useless Labour lot are.
There was one bit about how cutting spending in a recession is counterproductive and problematic. Not politically, but that it stifles the economy just when it needs a boost. I agree with that. What I didn’t like was that alongside that the leader slated Brown for borrowing and raising taxes. What is interesting here is that there are three real options in this situation, most likely mixed together to find a strategy. But the leader article just criticised Brown and Darling for even thinking about any of the three, which leads me to wonder what the alternative would be. It is widely accepted that there is no way to magic money out of thin air to fund all the things that need funding. At least if they had taken a principled, fiscally-conservative stance there would have been some consistency, but instead it was just a rant about how crap Brown and Darling are.
Now, criticism of Darling’s projected growth figures, fair enough. I think they were certainly too optimistic in the past, and maybe so again. That I can take, but the aimless abusive ranting was nothing more, even dressed up as respectable in the leader.
At least they agree with me (or I with them) about spending cuts being a disaster in the recession.

The other dimension to this is whether it matter. Rather than offering critique of Labour’s economic policy, they just don’t like them. That’s the thing about politics, if people don’t like someone then that’s all that matters. There’s still a chance things could change and Labour win again, but at the moment they just attract criticism and negativity like flies to jam. Shame really. This in one problem with politics where I blame the people, not the politicians.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Labour's present and future

Kevin Maguire, you beauty.

A really good article about the priorities of the two parties, how Cameron has set out his stall finally, thought I think he over does the parody. Cameron is right and is pinning his hopes on cuts. As i've said before, I don't think he's as far right as Maguire makes out, but in fact is to the left of his party. BUT, Cameron has never been one to take a position and would rather say one thing one moment and another another, depending entirely on who's listening.

Anyway, I don't like to go on the attack too much, so that's why I think Labour needs to put forward a positive case for why it should rule.

At the moment, we don't deserve to be in Government.

I'm wondering who will go where in the reshuffle

IPL and English First Class cricket

I'm 24, so in the 'target group' for IPL etc.
I have no interest in the IPL, but I have been really enjoying the coverage of the domestic cricket available on BBC local radio. So rather than following this 2020 rubbish, I am much happier with Essex Vs Northampton.

Interestingly, Essex have dropped a lot of catches recently and I wondered whether the volume of cricket detracted from the quality, and maybe this is why County Cricket is not of the standard it could otherwise be. It may be mental tiredness, lack of practice or lack of fitness. Maybe one 4 day game and one limited overs game per week would improve the standard.

Pietersen

There has been some debate about Pietersen batting at three.
While I haven't seen the delivery, Aggers said it was straight and full.
That's why I wouldn't have him at three, he would keep getting out for 0

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Labour supporters and glory hunters

Labour United.
I really enjoyed reading this article on Labour United
http://www.labourlist.org/labour_united_the_problem_with_the_next_generation?utm_source=taomail&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=842+Communication%2C+Tue+5th+May+2009&tmtid=11409-842-6-1-2089

This is something I’ve been going on about for a little while, which is that party of the current problem is the amount of glory hunters who are not real Labour people. Now, what is ‘real’ in that sense? I don’t know. Socialists? Good start. Poor people? Certainly not, there have been plenty people from rich who are left and poor who are right.
As for being white, middle class, university educated. Now this is a problem. Partly because I am white, university educated, middle class. But I believe that I’m ‘real’ Labour. Why? Because I am a Bevanite and I think Michael Foot is the second best human being ever born after Nye Bevan. What I like about Bevan was his socialism and his willingness to compromise. I don’t really care where he came from, his background for the fact he liked fancy suits and expensive food and drink (maybe even champagne). The point is that they are both socialists, never mind their background.
I don’t want to discriminate against anyone on the basis of their background, only where they are and where they are going.
I support Labour for the same reason I support Southend United. Not because we win all the time, but because that is where my heart and soul is. I am a lefty, I have been as long as I can remember.
I get annoyed at the constant claims to have found the perfect formula of ‘what works’ with no ideology attached. All sides do it. Every party claims that they are inherently better than their opponents. I don’t believe this. I believe what I believe, and that is why I support Labour. Not because my head tells me that they CAN rule while the Conservatives can’t, but rather because I believe politics to be motivated by the heart. Do I want tax cuts for the rich or poor? The poor, tax the rich out of existence! That’s a parody, but the point is that politics comes from my heart, with policy guided by the head.
And to do this well, there needs to be people who get out and engage with voters.

Part of the problem with all the young professional politicians is, I believe, the obsession with youth. Not just in politics, in business to. Cameron is young. Blaire was young. Obama is ‘cool’ and ‘down with kids’ etc etc etc.
The obsession with youth means that older and or more diverse candidates are blocked because they are not young. I don’t say this is the whole problem and therefore discredit the article, but it is a factor.

Tory Second Jobs

A very interesting piece on Tory's second jobs here

Andrew Lansley has it pretty nice, he works (outside of being an MP) 12 days a year for £24,000. Wow. I'd take that any day, where do i sign up?
Actually, being a Tory ain't work the eternity in hell that results

Cameron

I had the misfortune to hear some of that twat Cameron doing his thing to launch his bid for the local elections.
Aside from the fact that he reminds me of a tramp begging for change, Cameron has set out his stall. From what I heard it seems that his 'compassionate' strategy is dead and gone. He was talking about cuts cuts and cuts. It's old-school really, public sector needs to do more for less and cuts cuts cuts

Ian Dale, Dennis McShane and the BNP

Blog post on BNP today:
In response to Iain Dale.
http://iaindale.blogspot.com/2009/05/macshane-falls-into-bnp-trap.html
“Macshane Falls into BNP Trap
Iain Dale 8:57 AM
What on earth was Denis Macshane thinking of? To most sane people, blaming a political party which has been out of power for twelve years for the rise of the BNP is as preposterous as it is insulting. His rationale is that Tory Euroscepticism is akin to encouraging xenophobia, and therefore feeds into the BNP agenda. I hardly need to rebut it because it is a ridiculous proposition. If the BNP was gaining in popularity because of issues related to Euroscepticism he might have a point, although it would be far more likely to be a reaction to Macshane-like rampant Europhilia which would send people to the BNP.

What Denis cannot face up to is that it is his own party which is fuelling the popularity of the BNP. It's no coincidence that almost without exception every area the BNP does well in has previously been or is currently represented by Labour MPs or councillors. Labour's previously loyal client state is reacting against years of being let down by Labour politicians like Denis Macshane. They have had enough. The only blame which can be aimed at the Tories is that they have failed to step into the breach quickly enough, and the BNP have skilfully filled the vacuum.

Blackburn, Burnley, Thurrock, Dagenham. Hardly Tory areas, are they? Even Labour cabinet ministers have acknowledged that the so-called white working classes feel let down by the political establishment. What a shame Denis Macshane cannot do the same and then come out with some constructive suggestions in order to address their concerns.

Instead, he has a go at the Tories and thereby gives the BNP the oxygen of publicity it craves. Well done, Denis.”

I must disagree strongly. I'm from south Essex where BNP support is very strong, in last year's local elections the BNP was first, second or third in every poll. And it's VERY Tory round my end of the world. VERY VERY Tory.
Rather than mud-slinging, let's have a think about this. The old thing about the BNP doing well when Labour does badly seems to strike true, more or less. But there are deeper problems which the left don't like to acknowledge, i.e. that some lefty people might be a bit racist.

But shunning the BNP doesn't help, only talking about them and giving them "the oxygen of publicity" can drag them out of the shadows and into the stark light of reality where they can be tackled. Very often they get their support by being 'outsiders' who 'say what others won't' etc. etc,
only by dealing with them can we deal with the problem that they are the symptom of

Basques go left, quite right

Ah, the sweet smell of Socialist Victory.
I'm always in favour of the smaller 'nations' (in strict IR terminology), Basque, Cornwall etc. Now the Basques have voted in a Socialist/Conservative co-alition and I think it's great to see. Given as they've only just got to power, there haven't been lots of cries stating that the socialists are in fact right-wing nasties, though that's only a matter of time. As it is with any lefty group that has any kind of success, but that's a very different matter.
So Spain is socialist, and Basque is socialist.
Good on 'em!

Political Cartoon

Now, if only I could draw.
My idea was to have Cameron as a beggar asking for change with a sign saying "idea-less".

I thought it was quite funny that, what with him going on about change all the bloody time. Still, got to have ONE policy eh?

A liberal society

So, the Government has published a 'least wanted' list.
Now, as a pretty liberal left sort of a bloke, this is quite interesting for me. As a liberal sort, I want to see everyone's views tolerated. It's the classic example of what liberals do when someone is illiberal. Now, as a liberal, I think they should be allowed to say what they like. It's hardly tolerant to only tolerate those people who agree with you.
Is there a danger that Britain is an illiberal liberal country? It's a pretty standard thought and i've hardly re-invented the wheel with this, it just got me thinking about the nature of liberalism and liberty.

I personally err on the side of free speech, but it's a very interesting this to debate and decide

Sunday, 3 May 2009

BNP

BNP Immigration Policy:
http://bnp.org.uk/2009/04/preserving-british-identity-the-british-national-partys-immigration-policy/

Wow, pretty mental eh?

BNP People

Yikes, they are pretty scary.
After reading some stuff on the Guardian about BNP stuff, I thought i'd look up some stuff:
The anti-white mania which pervades the establishment has been reflected in a leaked MI5 document which actually names “racism” as being one of the causes of Islamic fundamentalist terrorism in this country.
http://bnp.org.uk/2008/08/blame-whites-for-islamist-terrorism-says-mi5-report/

http://www.citizenwarrior.com/2007/11/modern-revelations-about-islamic.html


Mental

Galloway Vs Dale

Iain Dale has posted on his blog about an arguement he had with Galloway:
http://iaindale.blogspot.com/2009/05/shouting-match-live-on-air-with-george.html

To me it seems two idiots involved in a Who's The Biggest Idiot Competition.
Who won? No-one

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Chris Gayle and the IPL

I'm not too keen on the IPL. I find limited overs cricket a bit boring, and i much prefer first-class cricket, ironically.
On top of that are all the glitz and glamour that go with it, i'm not into that, cricket or otherwise. And money. The IPL is all about money and I think that's a great shame.
So the news that Chris Gayle has decided to stay at his francise (not team, francise) rather than come to look after his under-performing team is disgraceful. I'd strip him of the captaincy. If he doesn't want it he shouldn't have it. If the money is more important then let Ramdin be captain, someone who might actually WANT it rather than Gayle.
Disgraceful

Off The Bar



An interesting insight into life as a Southend United 'player'. Big Dave got a squad spot at auction, and a pretty poor fitness level, but without the skill to go with it.


Good to see Barcelona currently beating Real Madrid, currently 3-1. Come on Barce

Friday, 1 May 2009

Conservative Local Election Fraud

Difficult to find, wasn't on the guardian site and i haven't look on the Tory press for obvious reasons, but some tories have been naughty.
Basically, they committed some pretty damning electoral fraud and have got sentanced.
Now, I was appalled by Iain Dale's gloating over Draper, and well, everything. I think the man's a right dick, in addition to being a right-ist dick (much as I'd love to call him right wing, that's just stupid). BUT, as someone who likes to stand up for politicians, it's a real shame that those who would remove as much of the state as possible and let the market run wild and free have another feather in their caps.
I think its a shame, and no worse than any other sector of socity, which in itself is sad. But that's people I suppose

A Real Post-Modern Donation Mystery

A real life quote from a Tory trying to defend his getting caught trying to get an illegal donation.
Very amusing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eHCQ2j1l040

George Galloway

Is also a knob-end.
Youtube is a wonderful thing:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tD5tunBGmDQ

Guido Fawkes

I, personally, think Paul Stains is a right knob-end. I can't stand the man or most of his doe-eyed worshipers/followers. I rather enjoy anything that involves him being taken down a peg or two from his high perch.
The main and most consistant line of attack against him seems to be that he never lets the facts get in the way of a good story. It seems so.
Now I may be biased aginst this smug wanker, but there we go.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2r5d2Ccpo3I

Being Good Ancestors

A very interesting piece posted by Derek Wall:
http://www.socialistunity.com/?p=3964
The speech in question is not by Del, but he's such a legend that I have to reference him whenever possible.
I like the idea of being Good Ancestors, not a concept i've heard before but could be one which may kick some people into action on the whole climate change thing

Big Brother and Swine Flu

"The Big Brother house could either be the safest place in the country - or the deadliest."

Here's hoping eh?

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/lostinshowbiz/2009/may/01/marina-hyde-big-brother-swine-flu