Friday, October 29, 2010
Let's deal with the facts first though. It is absolutely 100% true that Labour MEP did not vote in favour of the 6% EU budget rise that was passed in the European Parliament by 546 to 88. Labour MEPs joined their Tory and Lib Dem counterpart as part of the 88 against.
Clear cut huh? Now let's move into the wonderful world of the grey where politicians and their words really live.
You see, there were a couple of utterly pointless amendments tabled on the budget. I say pointless because given the majority with which the 6% rise was passed they had no chance of actually succeeding.
Firstly there was an amendment that the Labour MEPs were supporting, which included a €1bn cut in agriculture subsidies. Then there was another amendment which was calling for a freeze of the EU budget at 2010 levels, effectively a cut over time given inflation. This is what the Labour MEPs voted against.
So here we have the wonderful grey area. Cameron said that Labour MEPs had been voting for "higher budgets". By voting against a freeze, it can be inferred that they're in favour of "higher budgets" which is what the Tory
Of course, such an argument is tenuous, but then so are most arguments in politics, and we've have quite a week of tenuous stuff, what with Labour people (and Boris??) acting as if housing benefit changes are equivalent to the Serbs forcing Kosovans to leave or be slaughtered and dumped in mass graves.
Cameron does of course have wiggle room as a result of his carefully chosen words, but it doesn't take a genius to figure out that the implication was that Labour MEPs had voted in favour of the 6% increase in the EU budget that went through the EP.
The Tories may of course suggest such an implication was not there at all, but it is not helped by the Cheif Secertary to Treasury, Danny Alexander, also saying in the Commons yesterday
"I have to say he’d have a bit more credibility on controlling the public finances if his colleagues in the European Parliament hadn’t just voted for the 6 per cent rise in the European budget."Pretty clear cut too huh? He's gone even further than Cameron and made the specific charge that the Labour MEPs voted for something that they actually didn't.... or did he?
What happens to Danny Alexander's words if we move ourselves into the grey area to which politics resides? Well he said "colleagues" he didn't say "Labour MEPs". Are Labour MPs "colleagues" in the European Parliament just Labour MEPs or are they all the MEPs in the Progressive Alliance of Socialists & Democrats group that Labour belong?
All looks very, monkey see, monkey do, politics is, as politics does to me. Cameron and Alexander are both off the hook thanks to tenuous at best, downright deceitful at worst arguments. I wouldn't be surprised if the pointless amendment was tabled souly for the purpose of providing the domestic politicians something to throw at Labour.
The bottom line as it were is that the three main British political parties in the European Parliament voted against the 6% rise in the EU budget, but not having a dividing line doesn't make particularly interesting copy now does it? Much better to spin it.
Note: Danny Alexander quote via Cathy Newman's FactCheck blog. See also FullFact.org
Thursday, October 28, 2010
we would be assisted if Labour MEPs did not keep voting for higher budgets, which is exactly what they did this week.However, the Labour MEP, Mary Honeyball, says they didn't and actually voted against the budget.
we voted against the budget in Strasbourg last week. Since Labour MEPs are utterly responsible we took the view that while many member states, including the UK, are facing financial difficulties, the EU should also rein in its spending.I have to say, I think she might have a point that an apology should be forthcoming if what she says is true.
I, and no doubt my Labour MEP colleagues, look forward to an apology from the Prime Minister.
Then again, might it be that they voted in favour of a different budget that was lower but still in fact higher? Anyone know the details?
Essentially, the tale goes thus. An unnamed source at the DCLG slagged off the char of the Electoral Commission to the press. It's then reported by the Local Government Chronicle that Pickles sought legal advice internally to see if the slagging off was actionable. There is then a possibility that Pickles went to an external legal advisor for a second opinion.
The FoI that was submitted asked for the DCLG to confirm that second opinion story, and the DCLG said that it was "unable to either confirm nor deny" that it holds the information requested. As Labour Uncut points out, the "guidance from the information commissioner on FoI requests says that departments have a duty to confirm or deny whether the information requested is held".
Naturally this has led Labour Uncut to the conclusion that Pickles only wants others to be transparent and doesn't play by the rules himself. There is of course an alternative explanation.... sheer incompetence.
You see, this is a Government department after all, and the fact that they can't confirm or deny that they hold information suggests that what they're actually saying is "we don't know", which equally translates to "we're not very good at keeping records".
Conspiracy to conceal the truth, or Government department incompetence? It's up to you. I know which one I would go for every time, but then I'm a complete cynic.
Here's another question for you, if I played loud music in my house that could be heard from the street outside, would the people walking past that could hear it be invading my privacy in those fleeting moments that the sound was audible and they knew what (possibly awful) tastes in music existed in my home?
I ask only because this afternoon there will be a House of Commons Debate taking place, unusually, in Westminster Hall, on the subject of "privacy and the Internet", and one of the likely questions raised will be something that the excellent Big Brother Watch is concerned about, that Google, whilst carrying out its street-view mapping, captured publicly transmitted wifi data streams.
Now some, like Big Brother Watch, consider that action by Google, a step to far, but they're unfortunately wrong in my view. The technomological reality is Google were just like the people walking past my house who looked at my family jewels or heard the latest Paramore album pumping through the speakers.
What they did was simply drive along a street and capture public broadcasts akin to walking along the street and hearing people...errrr.... talk to each other as they walk past.
Of course, what you get told is that Google were taking your passwords, email addresses and information about the porn you were browsing, which makes it sound... well quite bad actually without a bit of a reality check.
Firstly, standard email is not a secure communication method. Sending an email is like writing a postcard, anyone can read it because it designed that way. You want to secure it, encrypt it.
Likewise, with passwords, if you're logging into a website that is not encrypted then anyone on that long path between your computer and the server you're logging into can see that password winging its way around the world in plain text. There is a phrase for this in technology which goes "this is by design". You wouldn't walk along the street with a t-shirt on that said "my bank PIN is 1234" but that is what you're doing if you send a password over a non-encrypted channel.
Could the owner of such a t-shirt credibly complain about his privacy being invaded if his card was used after he publicly told the world how to use it?
I guess what I'm saying is this. The Internet is insecure by design and it is a very noisy place. Think of it like Cairo. A heaving mass of traffic going back and forward, most of it open and available for anyone that wants to have a look.
You cannot reinvent this wheel, but you can put locking wheel nuts on it to reduce the risk of someone stealing it.
Let's be clear, and some may not like this, but Google did nothing but tune their radio in to everything we were saying publicly. They were like a person walking through a market of Cairo and listening to the world around them.
As for the secondary issue about them storing search terms it's quite simple. They're a private company, if you don't like it, don't use it. Remember this too, whilst we all get concerned about Google, it's really just a distraction from the signals intelligence activities of AUSCANNZUKUS, because Echelon really is Big Brother.
One last thing though, if you're a little curious about what it actually is that Google "grabbed" then click the image below. Your computer sends and receives millions of these things when you log on each day, and it is buried within these millions of packets that you can find the emails, addresses and destinations people might be visiting.
It's a bit like finding a skip full of shredded documents and trying to piece them all back together for every network you may have heard, it's a colossal job.
Hopefully this might put some perspective into a subject from which you might get the impression that the information appears in a little window on one of those make believe computers you see on Spooks.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Take, for example, the Labour MP for Denton and Reddish, Andrew Gwynne who said on Twitter in some consecutive tweets the following,
Ed Miliband was right to go on the changes to housing benefit proposed by the Government. It will clobber thousands of people hard.....Now, let's take a look shall we. The housing benefit proposal is, according to the Socialist Worker for a cap of £280 per week for two bed properties and £400 a week for four bed houses, and there will be a 10% cut in 2013, so that's £252 per week for two bed properties and £360 a week for four bed houses. So, variably that is £1120 per month falling to £1008, and £1600 per month falling to £1440.
I'm not talking about the London situation, but the Greater Manchester housing market!....
Where are my constituents expected to move to?....
It's the 10% cut I'm concerned about; all it'll do is push families into B&B accommodation. Still, we're all in this together!
Andrew Gwynne's constituency in Greater Manchester must be pretty pricey huh? Ahhhh who am I kidding, you know the answer to that already don't you. It ain't.
Let's just see now, in the ward of Audenshaw, the most most expensive three bedroom property to rent is.... £650 per month. In Reddish you can get a four bedroom house for.... £895 per month. Meanwhile, over in Denton, there is a lovely six bedroom detached, yes, six bedroom detached for..... £1000 per month.
Forced into bed and breakfast my fat hairy arse. The MP for Denton and Reddish is evidently not only sitting on his elbow but his arse is full of it too.
You see, the freedom to smoke organisation, Forest, have drawn up a report today that shows how the anti-smoking lobby are being funded by public money to further lobby for greater use of public money to achieve their ends where no one smokes ever.
For example, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH UK) across the UK have received millions of pounds in public money in order to carry out research with the purpose of lobbying the government to implement its desired "smoke-free" policies. The charity responsible for "No Smoking Day" - or as I prefer to call it, "Time for Fag Day", is funded by the NHS through the Department of Health
You may have not have heard of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health, however according to their register of interests, they often receive support and "occasional funding of receptions" from ASH UK. It doesn't take a genius to square the circle here does it?
So, can we expect lobbying of government by government on the matter of anti-smoking campaigns to end as per Eric Pickles announcement? Probably not.
Read the full report here.
You see, having admitted to wanting a stash of fags if he were stranded on a desert island, he faced the following question yesterday from some bloke called Ian Mearns,
In my constituency of Gateshead one of the greatest factors in continuing health inequalities and shorter life expectancy among some of the poorest communities is the prevalence of smoking. Does the Deputy Prime Minister at all regret promoting smoking by saying it would be his greatest single luxury if he were stranded on a desert island?God knows what Mr Mearns would have said to that bastard Winston Churchill about the cigars, or that equal killer of the poor Harold Wilson and his rotten bloody pipe.
In simple terms, the opposition from Labour, and epitomised by the absurd posturing of Shadow Justice minister Chris Bryant, is that by capping the amount of housing benefit someone can get in line with the average income will "sociologically cleanse" cities where poor people live in expensive areas on the social.
The implication here of course is that the Coalition - no doubt in a secret meeting with funny handshakes where they drink the blood of poverty stricken virgins - are actively seeking to push the poor into pre-Victorian slums in order to protect their upper-class rich friends from having to live next door to chavs.
Yessiree, it's social engineering goddamit!
Now, putting aside for a moment the obvious hilarity of someone from the Labour Party complaining about policy on the grounds of social engineering, it really is coming to something when they cannot see that the vast majority of us, the great unwashed as it were, consider it slightly perverse that someone can be out of work and living on benefits in a mansion in Kensington or Chelsea, whilst they have no likelihood of such opulence unless they win the Euromillion lottery.
Of course, Chris Bryant didn't just leave it there, you see, not only is the policy evidence of that the baby-eating bastards in power want to eat your babies, but also by pushing people to the outer-limits of the city, for example, London, they will be, "disfranchised". Yes, didn't you realise that they're also going to lose the vote as well? No, wait, sorry, that was that little thing called hyperbole again.
What Chris Bryant actually means I think is that if someone on benefits has to move into the cheaper outer-limits of somewhere like London it means they'll be moving into Tory supporting areas and therefore will no longer be in Labour strongholds.
NOTE: At this point please ignore the fact that if such vast numbers of (assumed) Labour voters moved into a Tory area it might just change that area because it doesn't suit the argument that tries to compare a policy to the ethnic cleansing.
So anyway, there we have it, the first signs of how things to come will be. The Government are evil and intend to quite literally rape, eat, pillage and possibly bugger every man, woman and child that isn't a millionaire for good measure; whilst the Opposition are on the side of angels.
Politics is such fun!
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Anyhow, at the time the site was ridiculed by the likes of Liam Byrne as evidence that the Tories had no ideas, needed help, and were basically vacuous. Now, all those things might well have been true for all I know, but there is a reason I mention it, because for some reason, Liam Byrne does not appeared to have said that Labour need help and have no ideas when they set up a site in relation to the Comprehensive Spending Review called, yourbetterway.com.
Highly original name of course, and clearly superbly popular too.
Monday, October 25, 2010
This is the conventional orthodox wisdom in much of the West and certainly the UK I think, and you challenge it at your peril. So, you may be, right now,thinking 'careful Dizzy, you don't want to upset the apple cart here' but do not worry, I'm not going to, I just want to throw an observation from my recent trip to Egypt out to illustrate something. You see, hotels in Sharm El Sheikh tend to have security guards at the door and metal detectors.
Who goes through the metal detectors? Well that would be anyone that looks the slightest bit Arabic. If you have white skin and speak English (or Russian) then you don't have to go through them. On the very odd occassion that you might have to because there is no other way into a building then don't worry if you don't have to woprry too much if you beep, you only get checked if you, yes, you've guessed, looka bit Arabic.
Is anyone up in arms about this? Of course not. Funny old world init?
P.S. Yes, I'm back, has anything interesting been happening apart from the obvious wailing about how everyone without a job or on benefits is going to die of starvation very soon because of the evil ConDem Government?
P.P.S. No, I did not get a bad belly.
Friday, October 08, 2010
I put the word "suspended" in quotes because officially she's been told to "work from home" apparently "while the situation is reviewed." Whether a teacher can work from home is of course one thing, but you have to ask yourself, what situation, and what needs to be reviewed?
She didn't, as I understand it, talk about the school she worked in directly, she didn't name and shame colleagues. She simply stood up and expressed her opinion that the education system is flawed because of the flawed "leftist" assumptions that run through the establishment.
Effectively she was stating that the education system is institutionally leftist. Hardly a shock to anyone really because it is. So why was she sent home from school one might wonder?
Anyway, apparently her fate is in the hand of Dr Irene Bishop, the "executive head teacher" of St Michael and All Angels Academy.
Might this be the same Dr Irene Bishop who was head teacher at St Saviour's and St Olave's in 2001, when the school was used as the launchpad of the Labour 2001 general election campaign?
Thursday, October 07, 2010
I don't say this because I want higher rate taxpayers to keep child benefit though, far from it, I say it because its clearly silly to say that such a situation is "fair". It's a complete snafu of a policy problem, but I understand why it exists, as its a result of the desire to avoid means-testing.
Let's not forget that means-testing will require form-filling of some sort to establish a household income, and then someone else to process the forms, which costs money.
However, as the polling suggests, most people (83%) really don't have a problem with it, and that's pretty much because those 83% are going to be people that will be unaffected by the change anyway. There are some who argue that the only people complaining are the ones on over £44K anyone who will lose out, this might be true.
The thing is, on reflection, whilst I still think Osborne was a complete cock for allowing the plan to framed like this, tactically it is a perfect bit of triangulation of the Opposition. If they vehemently oppose it, on the rather 1940s-esque grounds of "universality" then the quick response is to say that Labour want to give millionaires a free £1200 a year and clearly don't care about the deficit.
At the same time, even if they propose alterations to the plan in order to protect "middle earners", they place themselves in the odd situation of arguing to give handouts to people in the top 15% of earners.
Even if, as Yvette Cooper has tried to do, they paint it in terms of "children suffering" they're on a hiding to nothing, because they'll have to argue that someone taking home £2700 per month really needs an extra £100 to make sure they're child can eat. That argument is simply not credible.
There is no doubt about it, the policy, whilst causing a storm that varies from those who in principle have no problem with the idea but think the implementation sucks; to those who are simply outraged at the loss of money; it has pushed Labour into a sticky corner with little room to manoeuvre in terms of opposing it without appearing opportunistic.
Of course, they could, if they tack Leftwards, target the anomaly only, and argue that the policy is case of the "same old Tories" keeping benefits for their rich friends on an £80K household income and taking it away from the lower paid.
The only problem they'll have then though, is that the 80% of the country not impacted by it will simply shrug their shoulders, and Labour will reinforce the view that the Tories are now the true friends of the C2 working class, and that Labour puts ideological dogma above tackling the deficit.
It's going to be very interesting to see what Ed Miliband actually does when he faces Cameron at the Dispatch Box. It's said that he is very clever, I think a very clever man would keep quiet, let it happen, and avoid the trap that has so clearly been laid, but we shall have to wait and see.
Wednesday, October 06, 2010
BION COUNTY, Tenn. – Imagine your home catches fire but the local fire department won’t respond, then watches it burn. That’s exactly what happened to a local family tonight. A local neighborhood is furious after firefighters watched as an Obion County, Tennessee, home burned to the ground.Now, you can probably imagine the Libcon reaction on this, that's it's the shocking reality of private enterprise and a total lack of compassion or humanity. It's the comments that are interesting, I particularly liked this one,
The homeowner, Gene Cranick, said he offered to pay whatever it would take for firefighters to put out the flames, but was told it was too late. They wouldn’t do anything to stop his house from burning. Each year, Obion County residents must pay $75 if they want fire protection from the city of South Fulton. But the Cranicks did not pay.
I was furious that Direct Line wouldn’t replace my stolen car.Absolutely on the money. If you're foreign and visiting the UK you don't get totally free NHS treatment, and the reason is because you've not paid - funny how no one complains about that even though it's the same principle at work huh?
You won’t believe their excuse – I hadn’t taken out a policy.
I ask you. What is the world coming to?
Tuesday, October 05, 2010
Please also note that you appear to have lots of link to videos that the resigning head of CEOP may have concerns with too.
The comparisons with Brown’s removal of the 10p tax rate miss a crucial point: Brown tried to hide what he was doing. In his final Budget statement to the Commons, the abolition of the 10p rate wasn’t even mentioned. Instead Brown boasted about a 2p reduction in the basic rate, to huge cheers from the Labour benches.A cogent argument you might think but for one tiny flaw, it isn't true that Brown tried to hide what he was doing. Brown said, in the final part of his 2007 budget,
By contrast, the Tories have been upfront about the fact that there are losers from this change. There’s been no attempt to cover that up which is why the outcry started straight after the speech.
I can now return income tax to just two rates by removing the 10p band on non savings income....... I will from next April cut the basic rate of income tax from 22p down to 20p.Now I'm not defending Brown, but to suggest that the 10p tax issue occurred because it was hidden is just not true. In fact, at the time on my live budget blog I said,
Oh look, here's the big one. A 2p cut in the basic rate of income tax to 20%. But given he's just scrapped the 10% tax rate altogether he's just off-set it and dragged a ton of people into the 20% tax rate. He's basically just increased income tax whilst making it look like he's cut it.It was there for everyone to see, just like child benefit, the only difference is that no one seemed to notice it at first, possibly because they were falling asleep.
My guess though, on the issue of child benefit, is that the idea will be quietly shelved and/or changed before it comes into force in 2013, probably with the line that "the economy is much better so we don't need to make it as harsh as it was going to be".
For that reason James Forsythe is probably right to say it isn't a 10p tax moment, but his reasoning for getting to that conclusion is wrong.
Note: Then again politics is funny, so who knows what might happen?
Monday, October 04, 2010
Who would win in a fight between...?
or Blue Thunder
Never let it be said that I do not take things seriously or engage in serious discourse.
The irony here of course is that in order to provide the public with such transparency of detail they need to spend money to do it, and spend it during a time when the Chancellor (aka Twat) is banging on about cutting spending.
And so it came to pass, that soon after the election, certain departments started doing the transparency thing. They did it by providing us with pointless real-time graphing of their energy and water consumption on their websites that few people really look at. Along came a company called "Ecodriver" who provided the Ministry of Justice with this little baby.
But it's not just the MoJ that have it, the Home Office is in on the tree-hugging hippy act too. Then there's the Department for International Development who are taking pride in telling all those drought ridden countries they're helping how much water they're using. Finally we have the Department of Transport showing us similar colourful data... ain't transparency great?
How much is this costing at a time when we're supposed to be tightening our belts? Well, in the wider scheme of things not very much really.
The Ministry of Justice spent £13,180 on implementation, and has an annual fee of £5,514. The DfID says it paid a total for implementation and managed service of £16,773. The Home Office was cheaper getting it installed for just £7,359 with a mere £2,769.80 yearly subscription (so that's £10,128.80, not sure what the 80p covers). The DfT says they only paid £9,915.82 but don;t mention anything about annual subscriptions.
One presumes that some departments managed to negotiate harder than others, hence the differences in prices, but, on a wider point, is this sort of spending, although small, particularly worthwhile? Do we really need to spend taxpayers money so we can see real-time data on how many lights have been left on in the Home Office or how many times the bog was flushed?
Methinks we have some skewed priorities here. On the one hand they're saying we're going to have to cut, and then on the other they're spending money on giving us information that we don't really need, or likely want - and if we did, we could just ask for it instead at a fraction of the cost.
Note: Before someone suggests that this might be pointless spending by the previous Government, it isn't. It was commissioned by the Coaltion.
There, I said it, I can't be more blunt really. Look, the idea and principle of saying higher rate tax earners shouldn't really be getting a £20-or-so a week handout in child benefit is a good thing, but please, if you're going to do it at least execute the change with some sort of skill.
What you don't do is go on the telly and say that a couple earning £43,000 each, making their household earning £86,000 will still get the benefit, whilst a couple with only one working on £44,001 won't.
Would you like me to get a bandage for your foot seeing as the bullet wound appears to be weeping a tad?
Did I mention that George Osborne is a twat?
Morning all, first up, to all the people that have been emailing me about meeting up at the Tory conference, I'm not in Birmingham and won't be going either, for two reasons. Work and a holiday at the end of the week.
Ok now that's said, just wanted to pass a quick comment on the latest in the Andy Coulson voicemail interception saga, which, amusingly, some are calling the 'smoking gun'.
It seems that Channel Four's Dispatches has found a former News of the World employee who says that Coulson personally listened to intercepted voicemail messages. What's that you say? You want to know their name? Sorry can't help you there.
Yes that's right. The smoking gun is an unidentified anonymous witness who has not even had their voice disguised or been filmed in shadow. The voice has, in fact, been done by an actor. Smoking gun indeed.
As Lord Prescott (class traitor) noted, sources off the record are worthless and just tittle tattle, although don't expect him to acknowledge that in this case of course.
Anyhow, I'm slightly digressing, you see, I've been musing over what would really be a proverbial 'smoking gun' and have concluded that there is only one solution for those that want to take Coulson down.
What they should do is hire a private investigator to listen to the voicemail of Coulson and his friends and get a recording of him admitting he's lied and did really know all about what was happening at the Screws.
True, that would be illegal but isn't there a saying about sending a thief to catch a thief? Ok, I'm joking, but wouldn't it be funny if he was found guilty through the use of intercept?