Sunday, April 30, 2006

Prescott, Clarke and Hewitt should all quit

Accoridng to a YouGov poll commissioned for the Sunday Times, the publci want all three of the mnisters in scandal this week to resign. The poll also has the Tories on 35%, Labour on 32% and the LibDems on 18%. All looking good for Thursday then.

With the revelations in the MoS today the Prescott resignation is looking potentially more likely. Mind you, the way this Government acts it might not actually happen. If it were the other way round Labour would be shouting from the rooftop for Ministers to quit, but it seems that moral outrage doesn't apply in reverse.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Who will go this weekend?

As I said a few posts ago there is much speculation about Prescott resigning this weekend. Something I did say was that if the Sundays had a story about him ready for print then that might force Prescott onto his sword. Well, it seems - if Guido's usually reliable source is right - that the Sundays do have a story. Accoridng to that source the Mail on Sunday will be running with something that's is likely to crush Mrs Prezza's heart (again).

Will Prescott really go over this? you may be asking. Well he's certainly being seen as a hypocritical bastard on this issue. It all depends I suppose on Charles Clarke. If Prescott goes and Clarke doesn't everyone will say Prezza's been sacrificed to take the heat off Clarke, which would be bad for the local elections. If Clarke goes on his own then it's bad for the local elections period. The question that the likes of Alistair Campbell will probably be asking this weekend is, which is worst? and, which is easiest to recover from?

Friday, April 28, 2006

More woes for Clarke

In the past year drug offences went up 21% and robberies went up 6%. That's what the new figures from the Police for England and Wales say. If it never rains for Charles Clarke it pours! I expect the Government will try to positively spin them, we will probably here the age old classic of "the figures are up, but the trend is down" or some such pseudo-scientific bullshit.

The other issue for Clarke is rumbling on though, it looks very likely that many of these released foreign prisoners were not put on the Police's national database (presumably because they were supposed to be deported and wouldn't be a problem?). On top of that, we can probably expect a press release late today that will detail who in the 1000 illegal ex-convicts has re-offended.

Clarke should really have gone days ago. Quite frankly, his incompetence, and Blair's lack of judgement are incredible. I was even more shocked last night to see Falconer saying that Clarke should stay on even if the rapists and murders had re-offended. What planet are these people on?

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Prescott to resign?

Iain Dale has blogged that Prescott will resign by the weekend because of his multiple love affairs with known and undisclosed woman (something about rosy cheeks in teh cold winter).

Personally I'm not sure about the prediction, a major resignation so soon before elections.. surely not? Unless they're planning ceremonial self-sacrifice or something as part of a wider strategy.

I've heard so many stories over the past few years about Prescott going. The last one I heard was that he was going to resign at the last election and have a Scot parachuted in and solve potential Westlothian issues.

Having said all that I've just reconsidered my view slightly. I guess if one of the red top Sundays was going to print something and Iain knows about it already then it might provide a reason for Prescott resigning.

Prescott - The Trilogy

It looks like there is a bit of a race on to see who will be the first to publish the name of the "other other woman" in the Prescott saga. Yes that's right folks, "Two Shags" is actually part of a trilogy. Guido and Iain Dale appear to be having fun with it. I wonder who will blink first?

Update: No one's actually done it directly, but you;d have to be a bit thick to not know who it is after reading the comments on both sites.

DWP press release

You know how it is, you get into work far to early so you do a bit of browsing for possible blog entires. For some strange reason I found myself at the Department of Work and Pensions website reading though their press releases (yes, I really was that fucking bored!). Anyway, one from two days ago caught my eye. It was announcing that the Chairman of Bovis Lend Lease (BLL) John Spanswick (pictured) was being appointed to the Health and Saftey Commission by John Hutton.

This is the same BLL group that won the contract to build the new Scottish Parliament at Holyrood (allegedly won under dubious circumstances). That's the same Scottish Parliament whose roof was so unsafe it started collapsing and a buildings inspection highlighted a further 900 faults.

So - in summary - the man in charge of the company that built the structurally unsafe Scottish Parliament has been given a job on the Health and Safety Commission to improve "safety in the British workplace". Good init?

We forgot Neil too!

In the all the excitement of yesterday's triple whammy (shame it didn't happen next Wednesday!) the news that Lord Kinnock got himself banned from driving got somewhat overlooked. Kinnock got himself banned from driving after his fifth speeding offence in 3 years. As I understand it this time round he was caught twice on the M4. For purely political reasons I have to laugh.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

What about Patty?

With all the fun and games today around old jug ears no one has really been given Patty much attention. Poor old Patricia failed to have a "ripper" time today in front of the ever militant (joke) Royal College of Nursing. Basically she got heckled good and proper. It was actually quite painful to watch, even though I hate her and everything she stands for. She's either very brave or very, very stupid. To be honest, my cash is on the latter not the former!

Andrew Lansley is certainly right when he says that the "Labour Party is no longer the party of the NHS"

Charles Clarke's statement

Clarke has just made his statement on the foreign priosners freed and not deported. Blair left the house as soon as he stood up by the looks of things on the BBC, so I guess that's him snubbed good and proper (left out pissing in the wind as they say). Amazingly Clarke has tried to spin the story positively by saying that whilst 1000 prisoners were freed, 3000 were deported during the same time and he wants to improve on that performance. Yes.. he really did say that.

Update: David Davis has said Clarke's postion is untenable. Clarke says he's going to take responsibility by not resigning. The fact Blair left him on his own in House makes me think he has until the end of the week.... elections coming remember. I reckon he'll be back in 3 months thought. He'll get the DWP and replace Hutton. I say this because I don't put anything past Blair.

Accident and Emergency...

According to Blair going to A&E today is much better than going under the Tories. Bollocks. I spent many times in A&E as a teenager. It took hours then and it takes hours now.

That bloke's a nutter!

The BNP candidate for Wetherby Ward in Leeds is called Ralph Nutter - I kid you not

Prescott admits affair

Apparently she doesn't have a white stick. More details here

What happened to "responsibility"?

What exactly is the issue that members of this government have with personal responsibility? If you're the Secretary of State for Protecting Paperclips and your department loses paperclips left, right and centre, then you failed in your job didn't you? In the private sector you'd be fired. In New Labour your default reaction is to say "I take full resposnibilty for this, and I'm sure everyone is quite shocked at the complete mess. I think we need to draw a line under it and move on". If you're the Secretary of State for Staying in the Black, and you go into the red, you put your hands up. You don't say "I think we're doing really well actually".

Did someone spike me with a massive dose of acid at some time in the last eight years or something?

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Turnout is key

The thing that Labour have to fear most in next weeks elections (especially across London) is turnout. As far as I can tell the Labour vote is not going to meltdown through defections to other parties but instead just dissipate by not bothering to show up. The number of people who I speak that are down on canvass sheets as Labour that have said "won't be bothering mate" is genuinely worrying. Obviously it's not worrying from my Tory point of view, but from a purely democratic one it is.

There are some people I know who are geuniely convicned that 2006 is going to be 1968 again in London. I doubt that personally, but I do think that power across the city is going to shift dramatically our way, the real question is whether we do it by breaking through or whether we just come through the middle because Labour supporters stay at home.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Have Labour broken local electoral law?

I've just had to sit through what was effectively a Party Political Broadcast by Labour for Tower Hamlets under the guise of something called "The Political Slot" on Channel 4. It had two "local" people, (the female of which who, when compared to the Tower Hamlets Labour Party website looked a little bit like one of Labour's Councillors) talking about how Tower Hamlets was the most wonderful place in the world to live (highly suspect) and it was all because of the "Labour Government". Then the female said "that's why I'll be voting Labour" whilst Labour adverts scrolled across the screen. There was no indication that the piece was a PPB, but one has to presume that the production costs will be on Tower Hamlets Labour electoral expenses. I've emailed them to find out (and CC'd the Electoral Commission for good measure).

Update: The Councillor I mentioned above has kindly informed me it wasn't her. She says she has a welsh accent, so unless she was doing a very good barrow girl impression it was merely a lookalike. Oh yes, she threatened to sue me as well. Interestingly she didn't mention the issue that the film might have breached electoral law, or whether it's going to be included in their electoral expenses.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

The Gazprom Question

Like many things that involve Putin's Russia, the Gazprom Question is not a simple one. Gazprom are a vast energy compnay worth in excess of $240 billion, in fact it's the fifth largest corporation in the world. Now I'm a tory that has faith in markets, you'd think I'd like Gazprom. They've made themsleves a world leader in the international energy market they should be commended. The problem is that Gazprom is not a normal corporation.

Gazprom might look like a normal mutlination but it is essentially an extension of the Kremlin, and it's actions - as was shown last year in Ukraine - are about political power and leverage on the international stage. Gazprom represents the worst of Putin's style of capitalism, which has linked openly traded corporations to tight state control directed through the Kremlin. It shouldn't be surprising though that a former KGB man should apply the soviet style of control to the new capitalist order. He crushed the oligarchs that threatened him (Khordokovsky) and promoted the oligarchs that supported him.

Why am I going on about this? Well Gazprom are apparently looking to buy Centrica (British Gas). They want to control the gas supply right up to the doorstep of the consumer. Now there are many out there who might think this can't be a bad thing. Faith in markets means that Gazprom will act wisely with Centrica customers else they'll lose them. But the real issue is political.

We were on the winning side of the Cold War. Let's not let our faith in markets give the Kremlin control over our energy supply.

"Cash for Peerages" dossier

The Telegraph is reporting that the British branch of the corruption watchdog Transparency International (TI) has submmited a dossier to Inspector Knacker. The dossier is based on the available knowledge about the "Lloyd George II" saga and lists eight criminal offences it believes have been committed above and beyond offences under the 1925 Honours Act. The offences are bribery, two separate counts of obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception, false accounting, conspiracy to defraud, fraudulent trading, and offences under the Competition and Enterprise Act.

Full report here.

The BNP phenomenon in Barking

Iain Dale blogged last night that the Sunday Mirror has commissioned a poll that shows the BNP are going to be the main opposition party in Barking after May 4th.

Whilst the poll may - sadly - turn out to be true, I think this surge for the BNP in the last week has its source soley in Maragaret Hodge's irresponsible comments. My gut says that she only said what she did to energise the Labour turnout. I say this because what I've heard on the doorsteps from known Labour voters has tended towards apathy. I think Labour are scared about their vote not turning out, Hodge's comment was an attempt to address that.

The problem is, by saying what she did, she created a self-fulfilling prophecy. People were'nt going to vote BNP until they were told that people were saying they were going to vote BNP. The oxygen of publicity has had it's effect and it wasn't the one that Hodge hoped for. That's why other ministers got on tv and radio and said Hodge had over-egged the pudding on the BNP's significance.

If the BNP do well in Barking and elsewhere, it will certainly be Labour's fault. It won't be because of policy though, it'll be because of the law of unintended consequence.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Canvass story for the day!

You hear all sorts on the doorsteps but rarely do you hear theories that are crazy and use elegant logic* like I did the other night. It went approximately like this:

Me: Good evening sir, sorry to bother you, I'm from the local Tory party and as you probably know there are local elections this May. Can we count on your support?
Voter: Well I'm not sure.. maybe

A conversation ensures about the Tory party in general and then it takes a turn for the strange.

Voter: You see the thing that bothers me right now is the hosepipe ban.
Me: Ok.
Voter: You see, we live on island surrounded by water.
Me: Ok, but desalinating water does actually cost a fortune.
Voter: Yes, but it wouldn't be happening if it wasn't for the immigrants.
Me: Huh?
Voter: They come over here in their 1000's (illegal or otherwise) and they all have to flush the toilet don't they? (raised eyebrow). That is why I will be voting UKIP.

I made my excuses and left. They're not loonies, though... honest guv.

* I do a bit of computer programming. Elegant does not mean good. It means efficient and clean. I do not agree with what he said, in fact I think it is absurd. From a programming perspective though, I can't help but admire the elegance of his logic.

The joy of local elections!

So the other day a friend of mine sent me this link about the local elections. It's basically a forum site for the the entire UK local elections and features a thread per Council.

Now, obviously looking at my local council as I had heard that my Labour councillor was being "deselected". I'd heard that this was because of some minor disagreement. However, after posting on the site I discovered that the truth (assuming that it is true) is much deeper than that.

Basically, this councillor was closely aligned to the local (Labour Right) leadership for a number of years and his 'independence' was largely tolerated by them (mainly because he was popular with the Left of the local party). However his dissention became too much when (as a Cabinet member) he voted against the Labour whip on an Education Committee about plans to merge some local schools.

After this vote he was - allegedly - hounded and bullied by the local party until he eventually agreed to fight a safe tory seat. There is a little bit inside me that feels sorry for him, and then another bit that doesn't!

I hate agreeing with Tebbit

Actually screw that, he agreed with me. I was thinking it before he wrote his letter to the Telegraph and to be honest, so were a lot of other people. Basically we have to stop calling the BNP the "far right". These guys may stand on a platform of patriotism (or a twisted idea of it around "white power") but if you look at their policies they are socialists through and through. They want "equality of income", they want "worker co-operatives", they want to renationalise the railways and nationalise the lifeboat service.

For to long now there has been this belief that "racism" is a preserve of the Right. There is this idea that the Left, by virtue of it's collectivist ideology around class cannot and is not racist. It's bollocks. In fact, the argument exemplifies the pseudo-scientific problem of materialism that Karl Popper seeked to discredit. Racism is not bound to the political spectrum. It is an oppressive, destructive and repulsive beast all on its own.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Ming loses his Jag

Ming Campbell has made a big play about getting rid of his Jaguar so he can be consistent with with the Lib Dems "green credentials".

He did this whilst simultaneously saying Cameron was "posturing" on green issues. What a tit.

Blair: "Jam delayed until tomorrow"

Following on from my post the other week, yesterday Blair made a big NHS speech. He had to do this because over the last few weeks the Tories and the press have forced him onto the defensive about the service.

The speech was hilarious and can be summed along the lines of: "Our reforms are to blame for this but we expected it honest guv, and it will all get better soon when the reforms bed in. Please don't ask where the money has gone though."

Of course, as anyone working in the NHS knows, most of the so-called "reforms" never get a chance to bed in before the government has a new "initiative" and scraps the old reform for a newer nu-labour reform. Basically, and this will probably not come as a surprise to most of you, Blair was talking bollocks.

I have to say though I do tip my hat to his brazenness. At one point I thought he was going to say "yes it hurt, yes it's going to work".

Who cares about Peugeot?

Today you'd have to be deaf, blind or both to not be aware that Peugeot (the French car maker) is planning to close its Coventry plant resuklting in 2,300 job losses. This was headline grabbing stuff last night and this morning. Generally the tone is "what an outrage to axe so many workers!"

Here's the thing though, back in February Cable & Wireless announced it was cutting 3000+ jobs in the UK. Was there a national outcry? Were there headlines on the evening news? No. There was nothing (no dinosaur Union screaming like children of course).

Now, being a tory, I realise that sometimes you need to lay people off. It's the nature of the market, and being in IT as I am I understand the risks as well as the next man. However, what is it about the car industry that makes them so fucking deserving of front page headlines? They are not a public industry like the NHS, and they don't make decent cars anyway. The truth is, Peugeot going is no great loss.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

More on Cash for Peerages

Iain Dale has an exclusive on his blog about the cash for peerages scandal. Basically it's a full copy of the blog posting by Nick Bowes (former Head of High Value Fund Raising and Endorsementsfor Labour) that the Mail on Sunday abbreivated this past weekend. Pretty interesting stuff which I'm sure Inspector Knacker will be reading. Read it in detail here.

Campaign launched!

At last the official Tory campaign for the local elections has been launched by Central Office. I have to be honest, I was starting to get a little worried that we were lacking behind the others somewhat. But then getting to market first is not always the way to win in business so I guess the same can apply to politics.

I'm glad we're going for the "green" campaign locally. The environment in which we all live and see daily is the first step to the greater environmental challenges. Labour has failed in my local area for so long now on these issues. Most streets are awash with rubbish. Flytipping is common place and the hosuing in the area is being run down progressively. If the local environment looks shit, what can that say about the wider environmental policies Labour has?

Dave the Chameleon

So Labour have set-up a website called Dave the Chameleon. The essential point of this site is to portray Cameron has some sort of unprincipled tory. Of course, Cameron is (as far as I can tell) a classic tory which means he's not ideological anyway, so their argument is spurious. More so though is that the site (as Guido points out) is actually helping push the line that "we've changed". There is aswell the amusing hypocrisy of Labour going for personal negetive campaigning after complaining so heavily about the "New Labour, Old Danger" evil eyes poster in 1997.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

How far will this go....

We get excited almost weekly about the potential downfall or "next big authority test" of Blair. The question is how far will this "Cash for Peerages" thing go? Will it link up to Downing Street? We can but hope! PeerageGate?!

One thing for sure. After a hellish few weeks by his own admission, Blair is about to enter an extra long bank holiday weekend with a nightmare story all over the papers. It could all just fizzle out like a wet fart though.

"Cash for Peerages" - man arrested

Sky News and the BBC are reporting that a 60 year old man has been arrested over the "Cash for Peerages" scandal.

The police have said it is not an MP or a peer but have refused to say whether the man is a member of a political party.

Update: the arrested man is apparently Des Smith, the former government advisor on City Acadamies. This is the same guy that the Sunday Times revealed had said something along the lines of "give 2 million quid to build an Academy and you can have a peerage" (real transcript is here)

Labour back down?

Looks like Labour maybe backing down over the Legislative and Regulatory Reform Bill. The FT is running a story saying that Jim Murphy (the Home Office minister) has decided to ammend the wording of the more contentious parts of the Bill (basically the bit that provides absolutist powers to the Executive).

Having said this, Jim Murphy is also saying that the ammendments are being made so they "can no longer be misconstrued as an attempt by government to take a wider constitutional power". They are still trying to play down the significance of the issue. Hopefully it means the campaign against the bill is winning.

N.B props to serf for spotting this news item.

Update: According to the BBC, the ammendments will include that a "select committee of MPs will be able to veto ministers' decisions." Sounds like a victory, but if the committee is loaded in the Government's favour it's pretty meaningless.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

EU Scrutiny at Westminster

Open Europe (the independent think tank calling for radical reform of the EU) released a pamplet last week called "Reforming EU Scrutiny at Westminster". The foreward is by Michael Gove MP and the pamphlet disects the lack of scrutiny EU laws currently face in Westminster.

Download the pdf here.

Changes to candidate selection?

Last week it was announced that the selection process for the Tory London Mayoral candidate would likely be held through the use of Open Primaries. The principle here is that to get the electorate re-engaged, political parties should allow voters to register as supporters of a particular party like the system in the US, thereby providing them with a say in the process that selects their candidate for a particular position (in this case the Tory candidate for London Mayor).

Today, Francis Maude announced that this system may very well be expanded outward to the selection process for Prospective Parliamentary Candidates (PPC) as well. This would remove the flaws in the current system which Sir Humphrey Appleby observed that: "MPs are not chosen by 'the people' - they are chosen by their local constituency parties: thirty-five men in grubby raincoats or thirty-five women in silly hats."

Anything that attempts to address the voter apathy and disengagement is surely a good thing. There are of course concerns about potential abuse by other parties hijacking a primary, however, if the system were in place for all parties this wouldn't likely be as serious a problem.

Daily Telegraph

I'm sorry but you're wrong....

The animal rights extremist John Ablewhite was jailed yesterday over the "Save the Newchurch Guinea Pigs" insanity (which included the loonies digging up the dead body of an old lady and holding it for ransom to save the guinea pigs), said that the treatment of the Guinea pigs "was on the same moral level as the Holocaust."

This comes the day after our illustrious London Mayor Ken went to China and said the Tiananmen Square massacre (which was where the state killed around 3000 protesters, running some of them over with tanks) was equivalent to the Poll Tax Riots.

There are multiple ways in which someone can be wrong. If the line one had to cross to be wrong were the edge of the stratosphere these two would be accelerating past Mars by now.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Fast-forwarding change

Yesterday, David Cameron at the Spring Conference called for the change to fast-forward us to a "new Conservative Party". There are some people that have said this is just spin and lacks substance, or that they are not sure what it actually means.

To me it means we need to reclaim the definition of Toryism from the Labour media machine. They have been definining us for so long and we need to start defining ourselves. We need to drop the messianic theologicalism of the New Right fringe and reclaim Toryism for the pragmatic non-ideological majority.

Where has all the money gone?

As Labour continue to boast about the record investment they have made in the NHS, more and more NHS Trusts are laying people off to deal with massive multi-million pound deficits. So where has all the money gone? Management consultants and other non-clincal wastes of money. Blair said that we should vote for him to save the NHS. I didn't believe him then and the state of the NHS today vindicates that belief.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Quick! Look busy!

Yesterday, the Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt visted the debt-ridden University Hospital of North Staffordshire. The hospital has had to lose jobs and close wards in recent months. However, in order to make it look busy again it reopened an eye ward and did some operations for the day. A doctor told the Telegraph.

"We were told that because she was coming there would be two theatre lists instead of the usual one and we got a message to reopen the theatre.

"We had to wash out and check all the equipment, the microscopes and the cataracts operating machine. The nurse who ran the theatre before was called back in and for the first time in almost a year the theatre was used for eye operations again. All this was so that the hospital could show Miss Hewitt that all was well and that cuts could not affect patient services, which is of course rubbish.

"It was an incredibly sneaky thing to do but then the management is obsessed with spin rather than trying to run a good hospital. What Miss Hewitt won't see is that tomorrow, the next day and for the foreseeable future the eye theatre will be closed again."

Now, is it just me or is this reminiscent of the beginning of Monty Python's Meaning of Life(1983)?

DOCTOR SPENSER: And, uh, get the machine that goes 'ping'.
OBSTETRICIAN: And get the most expensive machines, in case the administrator comes.
NURSE: The administrator is here, doctor.
OBSTETRICIAN: Switch everything on!
ADMINISTRATOR: Aah! I see you have the machine that goes 'ping'. This is my favourite. You see, we lease this back from the company we sold it to, and that way, it comes under the monthly current budget and not the capital account.

The real question is whether anyone from the Tory Party will have the balls to point out the hilarity of this moment where reality imitated art?