Follow by Email

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

how to fund social care‏

Care services and paying for them.

One-off tax at time of death is fine by me, but I'd prefer the NHS model of direct general taxation.
I'm very much again the insurance idea of the Tories. They say it about healthcare, and I disagree. They say it about care for the elderly, and I disagree.

From my own recent experience, I don't think staying at home is important. My granddad was a burden when he was still at home, and that's a horrible thing for family to know about one of their own. He spent the last week of his life in a hospice which was wonderful. He was cared for and the burden was removed from his loved ones. Typically for my family, he was a frugal one so had money in the bank. There's luck as well as judgement in being in that position.
I think money should come from general taxation, but that money should be spent on making the last few weeks comfortable rather than extending life. It's not nice, but I think people should die with comfort and dignity rather than have their life extended beyond those two considerations, not to mention the wishes and needs of those around them.

Ask the Chancellors debate: what the papers and blogs are saying

"Don Paskini at Liberal Conspiracy thinks the left won.

What struck me about the debate tonight was how much Darling, Osborne and Cable agreed on. They all supported higher taxes on the rich, dismissed the idea that high taxes would lead to a "brain drain" of high earners, and saw an active role for government in helping people into employment and reducing economic inequality. They were competing on different ways of taxing bankers more, and different ideas for regulating the City of London."

Good point, well made. That'd be nice

Shielding a Keynesian recovery | George Irvin | Comment is free |‏

Fuck the article (it's ok, a 5 pinter maybe)
But this comment is what it's all about:
"1) Markets will react to changes in fundamentals (assuming they are at least in part functional). therefore they will react to the size of the deficit in comparison to the future earning potential of the government. A deficit can be reduced by cutting spending or increasing tax receipts (which is not necessarily the same as increase tax rates). Increased tax receipts will result from growth. the argument should therefore be about how best to return the economy to robust growth - compounded growth rates will drown out everything if allowed to 'run'.

2) is having policy in a democratic country dictated by the whims of financial markets and the personal prejudices of the bosses of credit ratings agencies preferable to a run on Sterling? this is a question which must be addressed before huge decisions are made which will influence the future direction of the country."

social care debate

just heard Lansley on radio talking about the Tory plans for social care.
their idea is private insurance. When asked what people would do if they couldn't afford it, his response was that "they'd have the option".
that's an admission that poor people will be left to rot. it would be tragic if that happened.

As the mrs said, too much of the NHS is focused on protecting the assets of the middle classes.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Budget Day 2010: Darling lines up a stamp duty bribe | Mail Online‏

"But the day did not exactly start auspiciously - with Mr Darling heckled by an angry building about tax just hours before he stepped up the dispatch box."

The Mail's usual high standards

This deafening political silence on cuts must end

"We all, of course, hope that growth will return strongly in the coming year, which would improve the state of the public finances as tax revenues would increase and benefits payments would fall. But there is a structural deficit in the British public finances that will need to be closed even if growth rebounds vigorously."

"Economies will be needed to fill the gap over the coming years. Hiking taxes considerably would be self-defeating as it would stifle consumer demand. Public spending should take most of the strain."
As far as possible tax rises should take the strain, with real terms spending cuts there as a last resort. The opportunity has arisen to promote lovely lefty social justice tax reform under the banner of plugging the public finance gap at the same time. That's all good. Us lefties always want higher and more socially just taxes, well now we've got another bandwagon to ride to a better future.

Alistair Darling: we will cut deeper than Margaret Thatcher | Politics | The Guardian‏

I'm sure Gordy will be pissed off at Darling's openness, but I think Darling has done the right thing with this admission.
Those of us on the left may not be very happy about the coming cuts, but they are necessary so there's no point moaning about them. I'm sure Tribune readers will be up in arms, but I personally think those who refuse to accept the need for these measures are living in a fantasy world, though one far closer to reality than the Tory front bench. Or anyone who believes that any of the main parties are being honest about this need their head looking at.
On departmental budgets, I'd like to see no ring-fencing, but rather an X% cut across the board.

Labour's tax and benefits strategy has closed the income gap, thinktank says | Politics | The Guardian‏

Thirteen years of Labour government have improved the incomes of the poorest households while the richest have suffered large cuts, according to a study by a leading thinktank.
An increase in taxes on the wealthiest households has been matched by an increase in benefits for the poorest, the Institute for Fiscal Studies said today following a long-term study of Labour's impact on incomes since 1997.
Top stuff, don't hear that every day. Good news

"An overhaul of tax credits in 2003 created a £13bn system of benefits that rewarded families for taking a job and remaining in work."
Goes against the usual line from the Express and Mail. So let me think about this. On the one hand you have a statistical analysis body, on the other you have two cynical, morally outraged papers who have a line to tow. I think I'm going with the IFS on this

"In the recession it has provided a safety net for many families and allowed them to accept part-time work when in a previous era it would have paid them to leave work and claim benefits. Families where the main wage earner is forced to take a large cut in hours will see their incomes largely maintained by tax credits."
Looks like Gordy worked the system out well. Well done lad, nice one.

"Since 2003 the cost of the tax credit system, which includes child tax credits and the working tax credit, has soared. Figures from the budget showed the combined bill had reached £20bn by 2008-09 and this year is expected to reach £23bn."
Sadly, worth-while things like this cost money. But a worthy investment.

Budget 2010: Darling and rivals must get serious on cuts | Matthew Sinclair | Comment is free |‏

I thought this guy was a bit odd in his analysis, then I came across the following and it makes sense:
" In the TPA's new book How to Cut Public Spending (and Still Win an Election) we update a plan for £50bn of cuts from our earlier report with the Institute of Directors"
TPA = Tax Payers Alliance = a bunch of right-wing nut jobs who believe any and all taxes are bad.
Which means most of the 'analysis' here is rhetoric and empty waft

Lord Mandelson has stymied Jack Straw's Lords reform? Good | Michael White | Politics |‏

"Back to the Lords, where Jack Straw, himself admirably reactionary on matters like electoral reform and the euro, wants to create a 300-strong senate, elected one-third at a time every five years with a maximum of 15 years in the upper house.

Using PR, it would create a rolling, fluid majority, often different from that in the Commons, whose dominance would, nonetheless, be entrenched in law - at least in theory.

The trouble with two houses that are both elected, but elected in different ways, is that they can both claim the mandate of heaven."

I've been thinking along those lines myself. But make the second chamber advisory only, so they can tart up and amend but all under the will of the commons. And I'd still call the second chamber the Lords

The budget: Putting Darling to the test | Editorial | Comment is free | The Guardian‏

So Darling is restrained and relatively truthful, while Ozzy's loud shouty soundbites are found wanting, or "empty" being as that's his own favourite phrase at the moment. Yeah, like your head you silly little tart.
Anyway, once again Darling is shown to be a top bloke and just the sort of politician this country needs. Now, if only we could oust Brown we really DO have a chancellor worthy of being Prime Minister....

What happens if Cameron loses? | Politics | The Guardian‏

The main worry being that Cameron winning is not the lesser of two evils, but the middle of three: best being Labour win, worst a further right Tory administration. So the worry is that Cameron doesn't win and then we get a David Davis/Liam Fox/Andrew Rosindale (God forbid) -lead administration who couldn't help but win. Of course, if we get a reverse Blair it won't be so bad i.e. a leader further to the political centre than their party who is pretty much indistinguishable from someone on the other side.

Evidence that this fear is well-founded can be found in this paragraph:
"On the influential Tory website ConservativeHome, some contributors are breathless with the shifting polls' implications. "There is a huge problem here," says Victor M. "If Tory HQ don't solve [it] as of now, we are doomed to five more years of the fat Scottish droner." David Alan says: "We are flatlining at around 36/37%. That is frankly a disaster. If we do win it's going to be as a minority government or with a very small majority. Either way Cameron will have a bust-up with [the] party soon after, so allowing Labour back in." Craig says: "Cameron is a bloody beauty queen but a disaster of a politician. We have been sold down the river by him. He can't beat Brown. We should get [Oliver] Letwin in now." Angry Womble replies: "It's already too late . . . David Davis would have made a better leader." Jacqui D says: "Let someone else take the plunge - Boris [Johnson] would have no such qualms.""

"Compared to most senior ministers in elderly governments, many of Brown's key allies are young. And many of them - Ed Miliband, Ed Balls, Yvette Cooper - are more left-of-centre than their Blairite predecessors; were Labour to continue in office, Cruddas expects them to continue to move cautiously in that direction. Judging by the budget's tax rises for rich property owners, Brown and Darling intend to do so as well."
An excellent point

"Yet governments that win an unexpected extra term tend not to end happily. Gould is mindful of what happened to Major after 1992: "If Labour won this time, would voters wake up the day after the election and say: 'God, five more years of Gordon Brown'? I think they would.""
My fear exactly

"I reckon the best thing the Labour party could do would be to subtly get the message out - officially denied of course - that if they win Gordon Brown will serve a limited period as prime minister before resigning in favour of Balls, Miliband etc.
He could waltz off into the sunset to lead the World Bank or the IMF having achieved his ambition of winning a general election.
Time to start planting some stories in the Guardian."
Now that IS an interesting possibility. Gordy would need to be dragged out kicking and screaming, he won't go and he'll take the whole party down with him. But if it could be achieved, it would probably benefit the party and the country. Even david Miliband replacing him, which doesn't exactly fill me with joy

england XI for 2010

My England cricket team for summer 2010

1 strauss *

2 cook

3 pietersen

4 bell

5 collingwood

6 prior +

7 swann

8 Bresnan

9 Broad

10 Anderson 2

11 Finn 1

I think we need 5 bowlers, and having Swann, Bresnan and Broad means we have a stiff lower order. They can all average about 30 with the bat and allows my team to have two proper new ball bowlers. I don’t care that they can’t bat, it’s their job to bowl. Prior is good enough to bat at 6, and swann has a record worthy of batting at 7 so I’m willing to go with it because Broad at 9 is good insurance. It also takes pressure of Broad as a bowler.

Onions is the man who just looses his place to Bresnan as there isn’t a great deal between them with the ball and I think Bresnan will offer more in Australia

BBC Sport - Football - Government may offer fans chance to buy stake in clubs‏

It's certainly an issue, and something I'm glad politicians are look at, although the Tories (if the quote here is properly representative) have responded with a dismissive sound bite - sadly par for the course.

""Ministers need to promise to look at other issues of desperate importance to fans, like ticket prices, safe standing and facilities for disabled supporters." "
Ticket prices - yes. Very important as it's stupid how much it costs to see some teams. I've heard some body actually sets minimum prices, which should be removed. If a club is having difficulty filling their ground the ticket prices should be slashed as it's much better to have a full ground than not.
I'll be interested in what they come up with

BBC News - Hollywood-style sign for Essex town Basildon‏

I had a horrible feeling it would be Bas Vegas

BBC News - Mephedrone 'ban' government decision due‏

Not for the first time, media hysteria takes precedence over scientific policy-making.
Keep calm and take your time, don't rush to ban something as soon as the frenzied tabloids say so

BBC - Nick Robinson's Newslog: Intriguing political role reversal?‏

"stand by for Alistair Darling to claim that it is he who is being careful, cautious and candid whilst his opponent is making "reckless" promises.

In reply, Osborne is likely to argue that he and the Tories can be trusted to get more for less from government after years of Labour tax, waste and spending."

It seems we never get out of these basic archetypes. Politicians on both sides use the same tried and tired lines over and again.

The Tories are being a good opposition, not sure they're a government in waiting. The difference being that Cameron and Ozzy are claiming to be able to do everything: cut the deficit, cut taxes, not cut services, cut services, shrink the state.
I've highlighted before that Cameron keeps saying he won't cut X, Y, or Z service, but needs to be up front and honest about what they are going to cut. But both sides think people will be scared and go silly if they are open and honest, and they might just be right

Thursday, 25 March 2010

BBC News - Darling makes pre-election pitch in 'holding' Budget‏

"Recent polling suggests voters are squeamish about the prospect of cuts to government spending even if they are also worried about the scale of public debt."
Potentially a huge problem and something that gives politicians free reign to take people for fools, because people/the public are being fools.

"The measure to exempt first time buyers from stamp duty on properties priced below 250,000 in the next two years was well trailed.
In other words, this would be a tax cut for some - though the policy was first suggested by the Conservatives in 2007.
But what had not been trailed before the Chancellor's speech was that, to pay for this, stamp duty would rise on properties worth a million pounds or more.
This appears to be at least as much a political as an economic decision, designed to portray Labour as a party that can deliver 'fairness' even when the purse strings are being tightened.
If the Tories were to reverse this, they would of course be denounced as party favouring the privileged rather than the wider population. "
Rather than just party positioning I think this is proper ideology, but one that the party leadership have been scared of getting into. I personally support it and the principle behind it.

But it's ok, because when times are tough Cameron and Clegg have some handy sound bite to get themselves on the news. The pair of them are pathetic and make Gordy look a million dollars

Barack Obama's landmark health reforms marred by Biden gaffe | World news | The Guardian‏

Hugely important legislative moment as US Universal healthcare takes a step closer.
Hugely unimportant moment as private conversation is accidently caught on microphone.
The healthcare thing is a BIG fucking deal.
Biden's enthusiasm is not a big fucking deal at all. Get over it for fuck's sake - Home of the Daily and Sunday Express | UK News :: Labour's revenge on Britain's hard workers‏

""A budget of envy and spite", is the Daily Express verdict which accuses the government of unleashing a savage new tax onslaught against Middle Britain. "


BBC News - Budget analysis dominates news pages‏

From the coverage reported here it's safe to say Darling has taken a proper battering today from the silly papers, while I bought the FT to get a more economic view which is cautiously supportive but would like some detail on how they're going to fix the mess the country is in. I think they, like me, are frustrated by the party politics dominating, while the silly papers have embraced cheap party politics wholeheartedly

BBC News - George Osborne: 'It was an empty budget'‏

That Ozzy is a pikey little cunt.
I'm not looking forward to him being a chancellor. If all the world's problems could be solved by empty sound bites and silly party politics Cameron and his mate Ozzy would sort us right out, but they can't and I'm waiting for something to actually back them up.
Summer Recession 2010 here we come

BBC News - Vince Cable: 'Chancellor said very little'‏

Vinny is right in that neither party has been honest about the cuts that are coming.
Cameron is trying to make a virtue of honesty but got scared of that strategy and is now only going on about how he won't cut this, and won't cut that.
Ozzy actually did the decent thing for the first time in his life when he made that bleak speech at the conference about how we're all fucked and all that, but I guess that didn't go down too well in the focus groups and so they retreated from that at a rate of knots.
Not that the Libs are doing anything more than muddling along, with that idiot Clegg trying to be all things to all people, saying taxes will be cut and services won't but that services won't get cut but taxes will and that there's plenty of money for this and they're being totally honest and up front guvnor.
Sad that the great profession of politics is reduced to this, but a country gets the politicians it deserves

BBC News - Angry cider drinkers launch Downing Street petition‏

Why not tax the things that cause people to fight and do silly things more? Stella being a prime example. Higher taxes on stella and less on german import or style beers. Is that too closely tailored to my own preferences? Maybe, but only coz I'm right

Budget 2010: Cost of management consultants and PR experts to be cut by 50% | Society | The Guardian‏

A very interesting subject. Not surprisingly, the management consultant is defending his profession.
In all I'd say the cuts will be worthwhile if I get in on some of that, but it would prove not worth while as they'd have a numpty like me doing the work. That's the paradox.
It does seem a lot to spend on them though

Budget 2010: How state spending will be cut | Society |‏

All sounds lovely when put like it is at the start, but it can be bloody hard to deliver the front line if the 'back office' isn't there. It's abit like having 3 strikers but no keeper.
But the thing is that it sounds good, and that's politics

The Tories' new Section 28 | Mark Simpson | Comment is free |‏

An excellent article that I wholeheartedly agree with. But that tends to mean the same thing.
Firstly the comparisons drawn between free-market liberalism and directing behaviour in certain ways is a classic right-ist paradox and shown up very well.
Now, I'm a lefty but not gay. I despise homophobia and attempts to change the way people are. I don't believe marriage is a wonderful panacea to cure all the world's ills just coz the Mail and Express say so.
I agree that supporting marriage through the tax system has an opportunity cost which is to punish those who aren't married, I don't think there can be any dispute of that.
And I agree that these proposals are wrong, though comparing them to Section 28 is, I think, over the top.
People should be free to fancy and marry who they want without the state getting involved. And if two homosexual people want to get married they should be able to just the same as two heterosexual people

Budget 2010 truth check | UK news |‏

Much more of politics should be subject to these sorts of checks.
Darling comes out of it much better than Cameron

Budget 2010: From Robin Hood to Alistair in Wonderland | Michael White | Politics |‏

Michael white does some cracking work here, made my laugh with his line about the Telegraph.

Now, Darling's growth forecasts are coming under some criticism, but they have done a lot since he's been chancellor and, other than the one time he agreed to do as Gordy told him, he's been largely right. He said the economy would be back to a low level of shaky growth by now. So let's not write him off too quickly.

"The Guardian's Larry Elliott, who wrote a book about the candy-floss financial economy long before the crash, is cross that Labour over-emphasised the City at the expense of manufacturing - he wrote about Birmingham's dwindling clout yesterday - but is glad that this error is now being addressed."
That's a very important thing too - could be key to Labour's future.

"did he [Peter Mandelson] learn to understand interventionist economic strategies watching EU governments close up, I wonder?"
Indeed. Let's hope he's properly seen the light.

"Where most weighty commentary agrees to be disappointed - Financial Times and Times included - is in the chancellor's failure to spell out more convincingly where he is going to cut excess public spending if he is re-elected. It's not good enough to say the NHS will save £400m by tackling staff sickness rates, admirable though that ambition is."
Agreed. All politicians are scared shitless of saying what people don't want to hear. And with some reason. The recent poll showing that a majority of people were against tax rises, spending cuts and a high deficit all at the same time shows how fickle people can be. But maybe the politicians should be brave. We can hope.

"But Anatole Kaletsky of the Times, who is always worth reading, writes that all three main parties were feeble on the key point yesterday - Darling, Cameron and Clegg - but that Darling was least bad. He had a credible vision for encouraging resumed growth - the key to everything, much more so than those cuts that obsess the Tories and their tax-exile media allies"
Very interesting, and I'm inclined to agree (see another post on that)

Budget 2010: Labour forgot industry for 13 years | Business | The Guardian‏

Lots of lefties really get all teary eyed at the thought of manufacturing. To say I'm not from that background would be like saying the Tory front bench aren't starving, so I can't speak from experience. I don't know if workers are as enthusiastic about primary industry as lefty intellectuals. I certainly know that lots of lefties wish we had mining back as it was before 84, without stopping to consider the lives of the poor bastards down the pits and those connected to them. Those poor bastards may have loved it then and wish it was back, I don't know.
I know that manufacturing is important, and that we should look to Germany for how to run a high-wage, welfare-state European economy. They kick arse in a way that we would lightly tap upon a behind, and it needs addressing. It's one of the great failings of Labour since 97, and lessons need learning. And one is that a Tory is a Tory, the Tory press are fair-weather friends and not to be trusted. Extrapolate the point and it's the same.

"The recession, despite having its origins deep in the banking sector, has made the structural weaknesses of the economy even more pronounced. Manufacturing output is down by 13% since early 2008, while investment in plant and machinery has been cut by a third. Job losses have been greatest in those regions that have the highest concentration of real rather than financial engineering, leaving them even more dependent on the state for employment opportunities"
Well exactly, we have a structurally weak economy in a way that Germany is far more robust.

"Austin believes the long tradition of craftsmanship in the West Midlands could make it the manufacturing hub of a low carbon economy."
And I agree.

Budget 2010: Darling finally gets the picture - even if it may turn out to be wrong - Times Online‏

"The Tory and Lib Dem leaders, by contrast, raged furiously against a host of invisible demons supposedly invoked by Gordon Brown - national bankruptcy, elitism, relegation in imaginary football leagues. Six weeks before an election whose outcome may well be a Conservative-Lib Dem pact, the lack of economic judgment displayed by both of the opposition leaders was worrying."

From the Times no less. And I agree. Very odd.

"Growth is by far the most important determinant of all fiscal planning and the Budget's assumptions, contrary to the Tory and Lib Dem complaints, were actually quite modest. "Having given us the lowest decade for growth since World War Two, Labour are now forecasting the highest," jeered Mr Cameron. But that is exactly what any sensible Chancellor in the present circumstances should do.
Historical experience and economic theory both suggest that the deepest recessions are followed by the strongest recoveries. When the economy starts an expansion phase with enormous amounts of excess capacity and under-utilised labour, as it does today, then very rapid growth is compatible with low inflation."
But Cameron does so love a sound bite, in large part because he prefers to avoid substance for fear of alienating anyone.

"In principle, therefore, the Treasury's decision to base its fiscal forecasts on an assumption of 3 per cent growth next year and 3.25 per cent in the three years thereafter is actually quite conservative." And Darling has been proved right before in the face of much criticism.

"In the four years after the last two recessions, growth averaged 3.4 per cent and 3.7 per cent respectively. And if the growth predicted by the Treasury materialises, then the planned reduction in government borrowing, from 12 per cent of GDP this year to 4 per cent in 2014-15 should be achievable and the government debt-to-GDP ratio will stabilise at around 78 per cent, a perfectly reasonable level, leaving government finances in Britain slightly stronger than in Germany, France or America and much better than in Italy or Japan."
I'm very surprised this got by Murdoch, it's like reading Tribune.

"To respond to disappointingly low growth by raising taxes and slashing spending would be economically suicidal, setting Britain on the path to Greek-style debt deflation and almost certainly increasing the government deficit, as Mr Darling quite rightly warned. But Mr Cameron declared: "Every family knows that when your debts mount up you need to start paying them off or things only get worse." From a man quite likely to be the First Lord of the Treasury in two months' time, this pre-Keynesian economic illiteracy was troubling, even if intended only as political knockabout."
Soundbites again.

Speaking of Tribune,
I read an excellent analysis of the Irish approach to the economic fuck up by Michael Burke, formerly of Citigroup (or similar).
It's pointed out in numbers simple enough that I could broadly understand that cutting off a recovery is going to make things worse, and that you end up spending far more by trying to spend less.
The great significance of this is not only from an abstract academic point of view, but because that's what Ozzy is calling for and may do. If that's the case we're all fucked.

George Osborne attacks Labour's 'empty' budget as parties draw dividing lines | UK news |‏

"Tory says "Labour are bad, but we will be better in unspecified ways".

Oh, well that's worth voting for then."


Tuesday, 23 March 2010

MPs stuck in the lobbyist mire | Peter Preston | Comment is free | The Guardian‏

I noted the Tory outrage over the lobbying things.
There are two sadly interesting things at work here:
1) they probably didn't break the rules, as the system is set up to allow politicians to make a tasty living from lobbying.
2) William Hague has made millions from lobbying

Television sting brings triple happiness for David Cameron | Politics | The Guardian‏

"The atmosphere among Labour MPs was best caught by Colin Burgeon, the leftwing MP for Elmet. He told MPs: "The answer to all this is to cut the Gordian knot and make sure that all MPs, especially Labour MPs, have no outside work at all when they are MPs."

I'd agree with that

BBC News - Labour suspends three ex-ministers over lobbying claims‏

"Stephen Byers, Patricia Hewitt and Geoff Hoon are under investigation over their apparent willingness to help a lobbying firm in return for cash.

They were secretly filmed by the Channel 4 programme Dispatches, but have denied any wrong-doing.

I fear they might be true. Lobbying goes on at the highest levels of government, and is rarely frowned upon. Many of the Tory front bench have made fortunes from such a practice, and I doubt they're alone in this country.
In America, something like $4billion per year is spent on lobbying.

In the unlikely event they have done anything against the law it will be a technicality.

And rather than writing politicians off as corrupt, I would say it's part of a wider issue. Those salaries/whatever else they technically are don't pay themselves

BBC News - Cameron attacks Labour lack of Budget 'urgency'‏

Cameron's attack is typically all sound bites and no substance, and the relatively carefree environment of a press conference helps when "Mr Cameron declined to comment on reports that an incoming Conservative government would have to find £31bn of spending cuts."

"The Tories have said they will spell out more details of proposed cuts after the Budget but Mr Cameron said his party had already set out "the difficult choices" that would be needed. "

Cameron is trying to be all things to all people. he wants to cut the deficit, but says he won't actually take away all the things that people like. And he's going to do this impossible thing but (maybe no perhaps not sure) cutting government spending. So far all we've had from him is what he won't cut, rather than what he will. I assume they're remembering 1992.

For me, any savings made (e.g. I saw a piece in the Mail of all places saying the deficit was significantly better than expected) should be used to pay off the debt. No investment, no putting any money into anything, just pay back what we owe until it's all done. And that's why I'll never get anywhere in politics.

BBC News - Scandals worse than those of 1990s, says Cameron‏

"David Cameron has said the "scandals" besetting Labour are "worse" than those which afflicted the Conservative government of the mid-1990s."

You would kinda expect that though, wouldn't you?

BBC News - Is Darling planning a 'sensible' Budget?‏

"It is hardly an inspirational, rallying cry on the eve of an election - "Let's be sensible.""
More's the pity.

"So instead Mr Darling will point to the better than expected borrowing figures, the gradual fall in unemployment and the first tentative signs of recovery - to argue that the government is slowly but surely turning the economy around."
All good. I'd like to see that put back into paying off the debts.

"but, with an election just weeks away, Mr Darling will be under massive pressure from the man next door to let his "Mr Sensible" mask slip just a little."
He should tell the man next door to fuck off. Gordy would probably be out of a job by now if he'd succeeded in replacing Darling with Balls.

"The temptation will be to use the money to win some decent headlines about helping the young unemployed or supporting business.

But there is a strand of thinking in Labour circles that it may be more politically astute to use the spare money to pay off more of the deficit. The thinking being that this would wrong-foot the Tories and undermine their claim that the government wasn't serious about dealing with the deficit."
I'll have some of that please.

Budget 2010: What you would do if you were chancellor | UK news |‏

"Income tax up. National insurance up. VAT up. A freeze on state benefits. An extra year at work before the state pension kicks in. As a nation we don't tend to make a fuss, but if Alistair Darling listened to you lot there would be rioting in the streets."
Interesting piece this.
I'm inclined, largely, to agree. The worry is that tax rises and other measures outlined here could choke off demand in the economy and kill any recovery as surely as the Tory proposals to cut everything on that side.
Overall though, good thinking

Cash Gordon: Or, how a Tory hashtag plan backfired | Technology |‏

"and redirecting visitors to the Labour party site."
Made me laugh

Thursday, 18 March 2010

BBC News - Pre-election Budgets of the past‏

Nigel Lawson slashed 2% from the basic rate of income tax and froze a variety of excise duties in a buccaneering pre-election Budget, which saw him boast that the government had achieved the impossible - cutting taxes, cutting borrowing and raising public spending (although he froze child benefit in cash terms). It led to Labour accusations of a "bribe" Budget - and fuelled what turned out be an unsustainable economic boom - but it seemed to do the trick for the Conservatives at the ballot box.

GIVEAWAY RATING: Huge. The mother of all pre-election bonanzas

ELECTION EFFECT: Cemented Tory victory despite high unemployment "

Well worthy of note given that he's an advisor to Ozzy. And mental

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Carlo Ancelotti the latest to find José Mourinho's shoes hard to fill | Richard Williams | Football |‏

Even the Guardian are going over the top. The other day Chelsea were going to thrash inter and Italian football was dead, now Ancelotti is a dead man walking.
I hope that Ancelotti gets the time and money to bring in some players, some young and very quick wingers for a start

Friday, 12 March 2010

Newsnight special on education

I didn't get to see all of the programme on wednesday because i was watching the football, but i will watch it again.
Ed Balls was very impressive, as he often is.
More to come later

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Man mistaken for Bulger killer wants Venables named

a sobering story, showing the dangers of vigilanty justice and general right-wing moralising.

the right to a 'good' death | Jo Cartwright | Comment is free |‏

A horrible subject, but one I'm compelled to comment on as my family are going through it now. We found out over Christmas that my granddad has cancer, and since then he has gone down hill at a rate of speed.
We are now hoping that he will not wake up one morning.
He's in a hospice who do the most amazing work, and who have been kind enough not to move him on when he's hung on a bit longer than expected. The stay is supposed to be limited to 7-10 days, and he's been there a week now.
But the principle at stake is that his life is at an end in meaningful terms, but his body hangs on in there. He was always stubborn and awkward, it's a family trait.
There is talk among the family of pillows and hopes that he will not open his eyes one morning for the good of all concerned. It's a tough place to be, hoping that your father/grandfather/husband etc. will soon leave this life.
But we're all lucky to have such an amazing hospice, because his wife has to suffer looking after him at home, not to mention the fact that her life will go on after his light has blown out. I'm not sure how I'd feel living in the place where my husband/wife etc. died, but it's not a bundle of laughs.
So I'm not so convinced by people dying at home, what about those who live on?
It's a tough subject, but this episode has convinced me of the need for some level of assistance in assuring a 'good' death - that those leaving this mortal coil are able to do so on their terms and without suffering, both their own and those around them

BBC News - EU president Van Rompuy 'pities' Farage for tirade‏

That Farage really is a twat.
I stand by my assessment that he had too many Stellas and got lary.
He's a bloody national embarrassment.

We don't need goalline technology, we need living-room technology | Paul Wilson | Football |‏

He finally gets to a good point via some of the daftest arguments you could imagine.
At very least the technology currently available should be made available to the ref.
As my dad used to point out, however, where do you draw the line? Should it be international matches? European matches? Professional matches? If the last, who will pay for the installation at Southend? What about the differences in levels of technology? At Man U there will be 1000 cameras, at Southend there will be 1 camera and a camera-phone.
If those can be worked out, surely we must have some sort of technology available.
What is not acceptable is the current situation in cricket where some matches have tv technology and some don't, and this within the English domestic game where some matches are covered by TV and thus have technology, while others aren't and thus don't.

BBC - Phil Minshull's Blog: Who will be Europe's first major football financial failure?‏

As a big football fan, this is of great interest to me.
Then, an article appears in Tribune going on about how terrible it is that these clubs, that were once the bread and butter of the salt of the earth have become the play things of multi-billionaires. Fair enough. But then to hold up Barca and Real Madrid as models of financial competence is the result of poor research on two counts.
Firstly: they do exactly the same as Man United in that they have debt backed against their earning potential.
Second: the reason they have so much money is because they don't share their TV money with anyone else - the result of which is far greater inequality in the Spanish league than in England.

Something certainly does need doing, but I'm buggered if I can work out what

BBC News - Gordon Brown warns economic storm not over‏

"Whoever wins the election will have to deal with "an enormous economic mess", said Mr Osborne, but he added: "The feeling out there in the country is that Britain is on the wrong track, we need change and the only way to deliver that change is to change the government and get in David Cameron." "

Sadly, the man who is very likely to be our next chancellor has little more to offer than crappy sound bites. Ozzy economics is not up to much at the best of times, and this is far from the best of times.
Ozzy, and Cameron who should know better, are doing textbook economics but failing to learn the lessons from their economic bedfellows like the Chicago school (my least favourite economic school). And that is that pragmatism is the way forward, not a dogmatic commitment to balancing the books in times of crisis.

We are at the apex of two competing ways of running the economy, I have my view, as does everyone else. I would personally feel far happier with someone other than Ozzy in charge of the economy. A blind, deaf one-armed monkey for example, would be more competent on economic matters.
I realise that there is a great deal of 'playing politics' going on, the kind that everyone claims to dislike and not do. The kind that everyone does, and the kind that works. Sadly.
The Lib Dems have often suffered electorally from being kinda like X and kinda like Y, and so we have these artificial divisions in order for the politicians to stake out their differing positions and the people to follow them. Slagging off Gordy, like Ozzy is doing, is a political rather than economic exercise.
My hope is that he is able to distinguish between the two when he has his hand on the tiller of the economy or it may feel that his hand is around the country's throat

BBC News - Tories to reverse UK's 'shrinking' clout says Hague‏

"The Conservatives have pledged to reverse what they say is the UK's "shrinking" influence in the world.
Shadow foreign secretary William Hague said the UK's economic and diplomatic clout had fallen under Labour and the UK risked "retreating into its shell".
In a speech in London, he promised "close" ties with the US if the Tories win power, and tougher action on Iran.
Earlier Mr Hague said he would not seek an "instant confrontation" with the EU despite concerns about its direction.
In an interview with the Financial Times, he said the Conservatives had made "a strategic decision" not to start an immediate row over Europe because its priority would be dealing with the UK's budget deficit.
"We have enough on our hands without an instant confrontation with the EU," he told the paper. "

Sounds like a recipe for disaster to me. Like we'll become another small country with an ego far greater than our influence deserves.

And we'll be closer to the US but further from Europe. Highly original thinking that. I mean, hasn't every government promised to be closer to the US but 'frank' when necessary? Hasn't every Tory foreign policy in recent history promised to move us away from those horrible Europeans we're so unlucky to be stuck next to?

I like Europe. I like the people. I don't like the bureaucracy of the institutions, but I prefer it to the American approach.
I just don't see how we can ever really trust a nation that doesn't play football over a continent that does

we'll be relegated to sitting alongside racists and nutters, great plan

"Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said the Tories have been isolated in their response to the recession, in contrast to the leading role that the UK has played in bodies like the G20 in tackling the financial crisis"
That's largely true, without wanting to get into party political arguments (and failing - or rather only succeeding because there's no-one to argue with).

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Peter Mandelson raises stakes in Lord Ashcroft row | Politics | The Guardian‏

""This is not actually about non-doms or donations. For all the complexity of Ashcroft's financial affairs, the story is a simple one," Mandelson said.

"William Hague [Tory leader in 2000] gave very clear undertakings to then prime minister Tony Blair and to parliament," said Mandelson, referring to the letter from Hague saying Ashcroft was "committed to becoming resident [in the UK] ... to fulfil his responsibilities in the House of Lords" and that this would cost him "tens of millions a year in tax".

But those undertakings "have not been met", the business secretary said."

Yeah, I agree.
Also, I wouldn't mess with Mandy. He may be the Dark Lord, but I'd certainly prefer him on my side rather than against

BBC News - Labour peer to end non-dom status‏

Good. No-one should be able to be a part of parliamentary process of making laws and policy unless they pay full UK taxes.

He also looks like he's from Bo-Selecta!, one of the big rubbery faces

BBC - Nick Robinson's Newslog: 'Non-dom' donor Lords‏

"It's partly because he hid his tax status for almost a decade after being forced to give undertakings to secure a peerage which his critics claim he never met."
Well exactly. I don't know how many people are Ashcroft's friends or enemies, but Robinson makes a good point about the realities of politics. The problem with Ashcroft is the dishonesty

Unwanted men, we need you to curb the welfare Amazons | Minette Marrin - Times Online‏

Oh for fucks sake, the right wing and their un-wed, welfare dependent mothers.
Don't they have anything else to whine on about?

Steve Bell: Bulger mother backs Straw on secrecy over Venables | Comment is free | The Guardian‏

I certainly agree with one of the posters that events like this show us society and people at their most bare.
Mel Phillips piece in the Mail attracted the usual nasty responses about how poor people should be neutered or the welfare state should be removed so that people starve, the usual level of comment I expect from the Mail. Mad Mel's article was about how we didn't need mob rule, we needed mob rule. Though with more exclamation marks and moral outrage.
I came up with a really good idea for a post about this last night, but can't remember beyond what I've put above.
We need a just society, and a compassionate society. Compassion not only to perpetrators, but to victims also. Easier said than done.
As usual the Mail's commenters have not shown our society or humanity in a good light

A good election to lose? | Philippe Legrain | Comment is free |‏

I like the comment that the Tories have realised that already.

"While we do not have the benefit of hindsight, 2010 feels a lot like 1992. Most people are fed up with the government but unconvinced by the opposition. The ruling party has become too comfortable with power and often seems bereft of purpose. The prime minister is at best uninspiring, more often dismal. Most importantly, the economic outlook is unpromising - and there is a growing chance that a run on the pound will wreak havoc with the recovery and the government's plans. Even if catastrophe is avoided, running Britain in an age of austerity will be a thankless task, especially for politicians who believe in active government."
Very possibly.
I've been thinking this exact same thing for a while, so it's nice to know that I'm so far ahead of even radical thinking at the Guardian (job please).
Second-guessing history is a dangerous ploy at the best of times, but I think there is some water in what the author's going on about.
One other factor I'd like to throw in is that if the Cameron project fails it's very likely the Tories would turn to their right wing for their next leader, who after 18 years of Labour (mismanagement) rule could probably win if certifiably insane (maybe bring Maggie back).
So it's possible that Labour winning under Gordy will mean an ingrained hatred of Labour among voters with them resenting every minute of the 5 year term, then the Tory right getting to power within the party and winning an election it's impossible for them to loose.
On balance I'm glad of the range of possibilities the author touches on, but I'd agree with the general premise. British electoral history shows that few are the government parties that go on and on and on. In the 20th century the Tories allowed the others to keep the seat warm for a spell here and there but ruled overall. Labour's, and the country's, best hope for the future would be a similar thing with Labour as the ingrained party of rule, but with the odd other party taking turns in the high chair before reality kicks in again and the big boys come to clean up the mess.
I would prefer that the Tories never won power again, but they will, and this year may be Labour's best chance to limit the damage they will do

Tory policy‏

Very partisan I know, but:

I work in a government department. We had a meeting today about what happens when the election happens and we get a new government. Technically, even Labour being re-elected is a new government, I think.

Anyway, the point is that no-one in the door could name a single Tory policy in our area. That, sadly, says a lot about them

Electoral reform could define the election | Polly Toynbee | Comment is free | The Guardian‏

"In the Lords the Conservatives will want to block it; as you would expect, not one Tory voted for electoral reform in the Commons. But Cameron should be careful of what he will be voting against. In this bill are all the Kelly reforms to the MPs' expenses systems. Will Cameron vote them down? In this bill is the power to remove criminal peers - and the anti non-dom clause, requiring all MPs and peers to pay British tax. Will he vote against that, really? In the bill is also the final removal of hereditary peers. Does Cameron really want to face an election accused of supporting sleazy MPs expenses, hereditary peers and non-doms?

The Tories will attempt to make a deal: strike out the electoral reform referendum clause and we'll let through the rest. Gordon Brown has to insist on the whole bill or nothing. The Tories could filibuster, and Labour would lose all their bills - but how would Cameron look then? Who will blink first? The Tories detest electoral reform, but to vote this down and refuse a referendum where the people, not politicians, choose their own voting system, cannot be a price worth paying."

How will he look then? No different, coz no one will care.

Why I'm backing the Lib Dems | John Kampfner | Comment is free | The Guardian‏

Yeah yeah yeah, blah blah blah.
The Lib Dems have moved significantly to the right under Clegg, their stupid and patronising attempts to get young people in board, and the Clegg-ite obsession with sound bites means they're far more the children of New Labour than the author wants to realise. And what he doesn't want to realise, he won't.
Labour is the party of the left, in part because Labour is the party than can get into office and get things done. It's easy for the Lib Dems to make promises, they're never doing to be tested on them in office. In this case, I believe in getting your hands dirty trying to change things from the inside rather than carping from the sidelines and maintaining your purity

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Poll: David Cameron is still heading for PM, but can he win a majority? | Politics |‏

It's a shame that one individual is seen as more important than either party or policy in this poll, but I've never been big into polling.
At the end of the day, party and policy should come first. Not in polling, but in deciding policy. The centralisation of power (which Cameron has done everything to entrench and nothing to dismantle, despite his usual flowery words) is, perhaps, reflected in voters' views.
If one individual decides policy and priorities (like Blair is famous for doing), and collective, cabinet government is a thing of rose-tinted memory, then why not make the individual more important than party?
I think it's a shame as party and policy should matter more, but they don't so in some ways it makes sense that people reflect that

A better way of doing politics | George Young | Comment is free |‏

I agree that parliament's time table should be decided by the MPs rather than by the government because it concentrates too much power in the government's hands.
However, whilst I'm very interested in the policy of politics, I'm getting bored of the electioneering. Even in this Young can't resist having a pop at Labour every two sentences. That's not to say my lot are any better, sadly they're not. And if it's driving me to distraction, it's hardly surprising if those less interested in politics than me are turned off. This goes for every level from the PM to the doorstep.
But on the reforms proposed, some decent stuff there

Neighbours from hell | Larry Elliott | Comment is free |‏

Have to say that I'm very much on Darling's side on this. Gordy was in the wrong over all that. I'd probably say I trust Darling over Gordy on the economy, as it tends to Gordy's hubris and electioneering that sheds a wrong light on economic matters, while Darling plays everything as straight as can be. He's shown he's a worthy occupant of No. 11, and far better than Ed Balls who is a genius but far too young for a top job like that

Gordon Brown's flair for publicity knocks News of the World off top of bulletins | Michael White | Politics |‏

It's sad, though not surprising, that these sort of dark arts go on in politics and outside politics. From a narrow party perspective it's a damn shame that the Gordy bullying headlines overshadowed the Coulson bullying story, and I can't help but wonder if it would have been different had someone like Campbell been around.
Can't top Ali Campbell

As usual, Darling plays it straight | Michael White | Politics |‏

Darling is top, no two ways about it.
"In effect he called a weakened prime minister's bluff and a good thing too, so far as we can tell because Brown's reluctance to acknowledge the scale of the recession or its implications for tax-and-spend policies has been part of the 2007-10 problem"

Very much agreed. I'd rather Darling was in charge of the Treasury. He's my kind of politician, bland and boring but does the right thing. Darling for Overlord of everything!

Ukip's Nigel Farage tells Van Rompuy: You have the charisma of a damp rag | World news |‏

Having listened to it on the radio I'm embarrassed to share a country with that Farage twat.
I mean, he's been elected, and is paid, to be a politician. I can stand up in front of someone and slag them off to their face, but I don't. Which maybe why I'm not so good at politics.
The theory that he wants to be expelled and thus martyr himself sounds about accurate. Otherwise, how can any politician, even of a mental party like UKIP, justify slagging someone off in public?
And that's all it was, just standing up and insulting the bloke. Personally, I don't give a damn about his clothes, his face, or his personality. I like my politicians to be good at their job. If Farage has a problem with the way he does his job, talk about that.
To me it sounds like another Brit who's had too many Stellas and has got lary. Farage is an embarrassment.

Political munting‏

Munting – from the verb to munt, meaning to ingest intoxicating and inebriating substances.

Related words munter – one who munts, munted – the effect of munting.

Now, one of my great political questions is who would I most like to go munting with out of numerous choices. For example:

Who would you rather go munting with, David Cameron or George W. Bush? I ask this because both have a past in which quite a bit of munting has allegedly occurred. I always answer Bush of those two. Politics aside, I think Bush seems like a decent bloke. Cameron is a stuck up slippery tart who I don’t think I’d get on with.

As for Labour people, I don’t think either Gordy or Blair would be my kinda munting partner. I think Ali Darling might be a bit of a dark horse who could be quite fun. Prezza probably knows a good time.

Is there a point to this?

Well yes. The person who I’d most like to have a beer with of those mentioned above is the person whose politics are furthest from my own. I’ve stated before that I think Cameron is on the left of his party, and if a Tory gets in I’d rather a Heath than a Thatcher.

Some people make their political choices based on personality, indeed Bush made his bid for the US presidency on the basis that he was kind of bloke normal people could share a pint with. Cameron is trying to do this, and it’s embarrassing. I don’t really care how good mates I’d be with X, Y, or Z politician. I want them to do their job well

Kettle blacker than the pot when it comes to political fundraising | Michael White |‏

Party funding is a dark and murky issue. Each side has a vested interest in keeping the status quo as each side currently has access to significant funding from a small number of sources, i.e. Unions for Labour and business for Tories.
To be honest, I don't know what the solution should be. Labour should certainly fight this election within its means. So far I think I've made the party a profit (including the funds from my most recent fundraiser)

Andy Coulson comes under fresh scrutiny over News of the World activities | Media |‏

The whole thing stinks, and not just coz he's a Tory. I don't like Labour people involved in this, and I don't think anyone, much less those with significant links to top party people and positions should be involved in this.
It's all allegations and all that, but tabloids are a dirty lot.
I don't want to get all party political (Labour = good, Tory = bad), but this does no one any favours. Except maybe the lawyers

Gordon Brown not being honest about cuts, says Labour committee chairman | Andrew Sparrow | Politics |‏

I think Wright has a point. There are going to be cuts to spending, those cuts are going to affect services. It can't really be any other way

Andy Coulson: 'I do not know. I do not recall' | Media |‏

Interesting. Selective memory? Lying bastard?

The Sun and the Times keep quiet about phone hacking | Media | The Guardian‏

Interesting the way media report certain stories for their own ends.
The Sun said of the report "Labour committee members "abused the report for petty party political advantage"
Someone no Murdoch publication has ever done in their history, and certainly isn't doing to deflect attention away from their own dodgy practices

Friday, 5 March 2010

BBC News - British Gas profits jump by 58% to record high‏

I heard about this on the news last night. What struck me most about it was the inability of the government to do anything other than talk about it. "we'd like to see X, Y, Z happen" but are powerless to actually see it happen. Ahh yes, that would be the efficient market, which is so efficient and so wonderful and is never wrong. Bollocks. Get the government involved in the market rather than reams of regulatory beau racy which does the grand total of fuck all

BBC News - Lord Ashcroft admits 'non-dom' status‏

"Lord Ashcroft has admitted he is "non-domiciled" in the UK for tax. He said he agreed with David Cameron that anyone sitting in the Lords must be "resident and domiciled" in the UK. He said he expected "to be sitting in the House of Lords for many years to come", "
He's full of shit this bloke, he just doesn't want to pay taxes. Anyone who doesn't pay UK tax should not be allowed to formally influence policy

Stephanomics: One-way bet?‏

Ahh, Ozzy economics. "The central part of that argument was that exports would take the place of the lost government spending, because budget cuts and relatively looser monetary policy would lower the value of the pound. "

As usual, a sound theory. I'm sure it looked great in economics lectures as school. But where is the demand for our exports? They were calling for this when the whole fan/shit interaction began, but didn't take into account the factors which don't necessarily fit into the neat graphs upon which neo-classical economics is based.
If I can work that out, I'm sure they can. I'd bloody hope so.
Also, basing fiscal policy on an obscure article by someone at a bank now belly up (I believe) doesn't strike me as the best thinking.
I still think Ozzy is a liability, both in political and proper economic terms. I don't think he knows what he's doing well enough to be the second in charge of the whole country and/or to have his hands on the economy.

David Cameron 'has a fierce temper too' | Andrew Sparrow | Politics |‏

"Their comments include: "only interested in policy to the extent it helps to get him elected", "you never get the idea he might have any ideas of his own", "more rightwing than people think" and "the coldest individual I have met ... ruthlessly ambitious"."

I always find him funny when he tries to be serious. I'm holding out hope he won't be as right wing as all that, but he is a Tory

Margaret Thatcher's toxic legacy | Jon Cruddas and Jonathan Rutherford | Comment is free | The Guardian

There has been no significant private investment in the deindustrialised regions. They have still not recovered their social fabric or productive economies and are now sustained by government spending
True that

Financial deregulation turned the housing market into the centre of a casino economy that grew on asset bubbles and speculation. Dynastic levels of wealth grew alongside some of the highest levels of poverty and inequality in Europe

"Low- and middle-earning households borrowed to sustain their standard of living, creating unprecedented levels of personal debt."
You can stick water in front of a horse. The tone, part of quote removed, is that it's the Tories fault and these people are poor innocent bystanders. Well it takes two to tango.

"When the private sector won't invest, the government must"
Exactly. Like it or not

"The future is Labour's to win. The challenge is to recover its campaigning role by building a new covenant with the people: a minimum income entitlement, for example, through the guarantee of a living wage and a citizen's pension; a referendum on constitutional reform; a crusade to build homes and reform the housing markets; a government industrial activism for the new green industrial revolution.
The longer-term goal is to reverse the transfer of wealth and power from the many to the few, and create a more reciprocal society of freedom and security."
All very nice, not about to happen under this government. Even if they did, it's a topic of debate whether the best poklicy programme in the world would be thrown out with the bath water because Gordy is so unpopular. We'll never know, but probably

Salesman Dave's new improved promise - no more soft soap | Politics | The Guardian‏

"The fact is people are fed up with the soft soaping and the slogans and the soundbites, and the attempt to simplify it all, that we're all guilty of," Cameron confided. This surfaced between soft slogans and soapy, flattering soundbites about how the activists - not him - had picked all those black and female candidates (not all of them posh or pregnant) and hugged all those huskies"

Haha, funny

Political positions of Pat Buchanan

"Buchanan writes about evolution:

" 'Darwinism' contains dogmas men may believe, but cannot stand the burden of proof, the acid of attack or the demands of science.[16] "
He mental. W doesn't look so bad all of a sudden

BBC News - BBC 6 Music and Asian Network face axe in shake-up

I'd much prefer to have some sort of say in this. There seems to be no consultation, just a judgement handed down from on high. 6 music should stay, end of.

Gove on Ashcroft

“The party’s unhealthy reliance on Ashcroft puts its entire electoral strategy at risk. Move over Jim Davidson, there’s an even more high-profile comedian backing the Tories. Let’s give a big welcome to the king of the one-liners, self-made millionaire, self-style Lord, I was just taking the Michael Ashcroft”. Michael Gove on Ashcroft in 2000

strike action

On monday and tuesday lots of civil service types will be on strike. if i don't cross the picket line i will loose my job. Why? because i'm an agency worker.
Agency workers don't have the right to strike, nor to refuse to cross a picket. That to me ain't right. I already get part of my salary taken as a fee, and now i can't even support a strike

Sarah Palin turns comedian on Jay Leno's Tonight show

""I think there needs to be a fairness and balance. That's why I'm doing Fox," Palin said "

Yikes, scary. She's used that line before, which is ironic given that fox is full of shit.
Please A'merkins, don't let that woman near any position of power. Please.

Michael Foot


a pair of legends

Lord Ashcroft: new demands for a full tax inquiry

Pikey bastard. Of that there seems no doubt. Lying, two faced and fundamentally dishonest. But not just him, also all those willing to take his money to further themselves. Apparently he has no input into policy at all. Bullshit. People like that don't get and stay rich by giving all their money away.
No non-doms should sit in parliament, of any party. No representation without taxation: It's a simple reversal of the thinking from the American War of Independence.
He's a disgrace, and Cameron's moralising and broken promises (and Hague) show them in a poor light

Interesting couple of quotes I got:
"This is a man whom gave an unequivocal promise which he has since broken. The Tories do not see this as any problem as long as they were benefiting. So what is the status of the donations given to Tory associations in key marginals?
Unbreakable pledges do seem to get broken with remarkable ease around senior Conservatives.

I feel that this is going to emphasise that the Tories haven't changed. Which they haven't. We have in the red corner Gordon 'Incompetent' Brown and the blue corner Dave 'Lets stay rich and push the rules to the limits' Cameron. I am no fan of Brown, but the Tories are beginning to stink."

Former Labour leader Michael Foot dies, aged 96

A man of fine character and conviction. If ever anyone wonders why politicians are so free or moral restraints these days, they need only follow the career of Foot

BBC - Nick Robinson's Newslog: Election date 2010‏

What I don't like about these is the focus on a single individual.
We elect parties, not individuals. I'd like to see an economic debate with the chancellor and his shadows, on Home Affairs with the relevant people etc. etc.

David Cameron should either sack William Hague or Lord Ashcroft, says Harriet Harman | Politics |

I'd like to see some trouble for the Tories, so from that point of view it would be good. But should it really be in their hands, or is it for the authorities?
Ashcroft is a devicive figure due to the amount of money he has ploughed into the Tories in the past ten years, so the stakes will be high and the rhetoric hot. But if there's a serious issue here it needs to be teased out and dealt with.
Trouble for the Tories is good for me