Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Can we point at the same time?

Via Imgur

Chuckle of the Day

for the past God knows how many years, people on the Right have moaned about the BBC saying things like "the Tory thinktank Policy Exchange" whilst not referring to Demos as the "New Labour thinktank". The usual moan is its horrible BBC bias against the Right. When this happens the Left, in general, points and laughs at the silly paranoid conspiracy loons on the Right and say "the BBC ain't biased stop it!"

Oh my how things change huh? In recent weeks, especially on the Today programme, when discussing the days newspapers, we are now hearing the phrase "the Labour supporting Daily Mirror says" and we're not hearing "the Tory supporting X,Y,Z says" and guess what? Yep, we now have moaning about bias from the Left.

Made me chuckle.

Carbon emissions? We'll get back to you....

I can understand a delay can sometimes occur in answering a question in Parliament.. but 20 years is taking the piss a bit isn't it?
Charles Hendry: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what volume of carbon dioxide has been emitted from the UK in each year since 2007, reckoned on the environmental accounts basis.

Angela E. Smith: I have been asked to reply.

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the UK Statistics Authority. I have asked the authority to reply.

Letter from Stephen Penneck, dated March 2010:

As Director General for the Office for National Statistics, I have been asked to reply to your Parliamentary Question asking what volume of carbon dioxide has been emitted from the UK in each year since 2007, reckoned on an environmental accounts basis..

I refer to my previous answer in Official Report, Volume 507, column 793 of 16 March 2010 to your question regarding carbon dioxide emissions since 1990 which details annual UK emissions up to and including 2007. These are the latest available figures on a national accounts basis. The scheduled release date for the 2008 figures, to be published as part of the UK Environmental Accounts, has been pre-announced as Friday 11 June 2030.
Guess Mr Hendry should go and put the kettle on.

Gay goldfish are sinners!

There is a sane person in the world and his name, today at least, is Peter Tatchell - for it is he. Tatchell has defended a street bible basher who was fined £1000 on the grounds of "uttering homophobic remarks" after he said manlove was a sin. Tatchell said,
The price of freedom of speech is that we sometimes have to put up with opinions that are objectionable and offensive.

Just as people should have the right to criticise religion, people of faith should have the right to criticise homosexuality. Only incitements to violence should be illegal.
Amen to that sinner!

In other news, a woman in her sixties that sold a goldfish to a 14 year old has been fined, put on curfew and is now wearing an electronic tag for her crimes against aquatic life.

The price of a bit of sanity means it's got to be balanced with of insanity right?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Borrowing money to manage borrowing?

Just a quick post of something I found mildly amusing. The graph below shows the net operating cost of the UK Debt Management Office since 2000.

For some reason it tickles me to know that the increasing amount of money we don't have that we're borrowing is being increasingly spent on the office who's role it is to manage said debt.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Tories pledge not to cut National Insurance

If I buy one pint of milk a week and say "next week I'm going to buy two pints of milk" and then, before the end of the week I say "Actually I've decided I'm still only going to buy one pint of milk next week, not two", am I a pint of milk worse off when that week comes or am I in the same position I was before I changed my mind?

The reason I ask is because tonight the Tories have briefed the media that they're going to commit to not raising National insurance in 2011-12 and this is being described as a "cut" by a number of journalists. Will Straw - "evidence-based blogger" - last week called it this too, asking "Will George Osborne cut Labour’s NICs rise?".

Now let's do a bit of "reality-based blogging". If something is 1 and you say that, at some point in the future, you intend to make it 2; then someone else says they're not, at some point in the future, going to make it 2 but instead will keep it at 1; that does not equal a loss of 1. You never actually made it to 2 in the first place so you cannot say that not going to 2 means you have lost 1.

Of course, this isn't the first time that a proposal to do something different in the future with money- or more correctly, "yet to exist money" - has been framed in this intellectually bankrupt way. It happened back in the 2005 General Election campaign as well.

Back then, the Tories said that they would increase public spending every year but that they would not increase it as much as Labour was planning too. These two different spending commitments about money that didn't exist yet were then added up, and the difference between them was portrayed as a "cut" of many billions over five years.

The fact is the Tories have not promised a tax cut at all, they've promised to conserve the status quo. Shocking huh? Of course, you can guarantee that the Tories "evidence-based" enemies will soon be deploying the Ul = c \ uc © equation and telling us how many less teachers, nurses and policemen that we don't yet have we'll not have - getit?

Don't you just love politics?

© Ul = c \ uc: This is where an argument will be deployed that talks of an arbitrary unit loss (Ul), which is calculated by taking the value of a real or extrapolated cut (c) and dividing it by the unit cost (uc) of the given arbitrary thing. For example, if the unit cost of one teacher is £1, and a real or extrapolated cut of £1000 is proposed, then it will be argued that the cut means a unit loss of 1000 teachers.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Yes you really can sell austerity

Yesterday I posted a little bit of a ranty piece about the plans by Labour and the Tories to ringfence the International Development budget. I've had quite a few emails since saying how people wish politicians would be so blunt and honest about it.

I've also had a few emails saying I'm evil as well for not wanting to help other countries poorer than us. To those people I simply say, how can we say other countries are poorer than us? What you actually mean is that these other countries have less debt than us.

We're in the red and so are they, and you're living in a dream world if you think that because we're not quite so much in the red as others we should give the others some money we don't actually have.

I mention this again though because Tim Montgomerie over at his Tory Diary noted last night the audience reaction to Vince Cable on Radio 4's Any Questions. Tim notes,
Vince Cable was its star.

The Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman said that he had outlined five times as many cuts as George Osborne and Darling. Lots of applause.

He said that it was wrong to ring-fence any departmental budgets because it would require even deeper cuts elsewhere. Lots of clapping.

He said that the cuts would need to be deeper than the Thatcher years. Voters deserved honesty about correcting the deficit, he said. Again, applause.

Austerity can be sold.
I don't always agree with Tim but he is, 100%, on the money on this one. The electorate is not stupid. When we hear about debt, we frame it in the terms I described yesterday. That is you pay your bills first and you cut back on unnecessary things. In the case of international development that is akin to giving money to charity.

On Monday night on Channel 4, there is going to be a debate called "Ask the Chancellors" which will have Darlig, Osborne and Cable on it. I've said more than one this week privately that I think Cable is going to storm it hands down. Don't get me wrong on this, I'm not having a conversion to the Lib Dems, I just think he will.

Cable is not the economic soothsayer that so many Lib Dems argue he is, he is, however, genuine. He also has, unlike Darling and Osborne, real life, real world experience of being one of those at the helm of a multinational business driven by profit.

He has the added advantage of representing the third party which is not going to win an overall majority at the General Election, which means he can tell it like it is and exploit the other two party's politiking with each other.

Throw into the mix the fact that we're all looking at the money in our pockets and cutting back on x,y and z, and what you're going to see on Monday, depending on how Channel 4 do the audience, is going to be manufactured party hack clapping for the main two parties, and genuine audience approval of what Cable says.

Tim is right, you can sell austerity. I'd be surprised if the Lib Dems do not see their polling run up a notch or two after the debate because of Cable.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Belfast in the dark?

Via the Belfast Telegraph this is "Belfast in the dark".

Love the fact they let you enlarge it too. In the words of Nigel Tufnel "It's like, how much more black could this be?"

The truth behind political lobbying

Australian politicians Peter Costello and John Howard

Via Pundit Kitchen

Get out of the corner and start to lead... please?

Something is really bugging me this morning so please humour me for a moment. Greece is really screwed economically right? Mountains of spiraling debt, structural deficits through the roof etc and it's just agreed a deal with France, Germany and the IMF to get itself out of the immense hole its in.

Now, whilst Britain's economy is not quite where Greece's is yet it is, nonetheless, in the proverbial. Putting aside any party political positioning, it is a pretty much agreed upon reality that things are not good, we are, like Greece in a bit of a hole (albeit not quite as deep) and things need to be sorted.

Now, imagine for a second that Greece, when negotiating the help they are going to receive, had said to IMF etc "thanks for the help, just so you know, we're going to ring fence and quite possibly increase the amount of money we want to give away to other countries". The response would no doubt be something along the lines of "are you taking the piss?"

Now, after that little imaginary games let shoot north across continental Europe and cross the channel back to this sceptered isle. Both the Tories and Labour have essentially said just that minus the bail-out bit. They've stood up and said, in no uncertain terms,
"You know what, we're in the shit, we're in debt up to our eyeballs and that debt is not exactly going to go anywhere soon, but we're going to carry on giving the money we don't have away to other countries
Look, I understand that during an election campaign the Tories really don't want to gift Labour with the ability to call them evil bastards. However, let's be serious for a moment. No one other than the most dyed-in-the-wool socialist who's not going to vote for them anyway is going to think less of any politician who says "charity begins at home".

Turning around and saying "you know what, we're in a bit of strife ourselves at the moment, and we really can't afford to do this right now" is not going to be a vote loser. If, on a personal level, you have £1000 in your bank account and you need every penny of it to pay the bills, no normal person would say "I'm still going to give £100 to charity".

It doesn't mean you don't care, it just means you're deferring it until you can afford it.

The Tories need some backbone on this, they need to stop letting the fear of Labour calling them nasty dictate their thinking. The things that matter to the electorate are the things at home that touch their lives directly, tell them you're going to cut NHS services they'll care; tell them you're going to cut the amount money we give to other countries until we're out of the shit and they won't. Fact.

Cameron and Osborne need to get themselves out of the corner that Labour have backed them into. Only rats get stuck in corners. Leaders lead.

Note: Rant over

Thursday, March 25, 2010

How Politics Works: Lesson Four

In light of comments by Peter Mandelson, here is Lesson Four of the exciting series of How Politics Works.

Click Image for Larger Version

Lesson Five coming soon!

Human Achievement Hour: Turn the lights ON

Back at the beginning of the month I posted asking why we couldn't have an Energy Hour where we all turned the lights on, instead of off, like the World Wildlife Fund's Earth Hour.

Well good news, an Australian organisation called the Conservative Leadership Foundation is doing just that on the same day as Earth Hour and it's called Human Achievement Hour.

During Human Achievement Hour, people around the world will be recognising the incredible accomplishments of the human race.

Originally conceived by the Competitive Enterprise Institute in 2009, Human Achievement Hour coincides with the earth hour campaign but salutes those who keep the lights on and produce the energy that makes human achievement possible.

Millions of people around the world will be showing their support for human achievement by simply going about their daily lives. While earth hour activists will be left in the dark, Human Achievement Hour participants will be going to the cinema, enjoying a hot meal, driving their car or watching television.
Damn straight! Do your bit at 8.30pm on Saturday 27th March and turn the lights ON!

Ministry of Justice says it's still OK to hate some people

Great news for anyone who wants to incite some hatred. The Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 added a new offence of "Hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation".

However, according to Ministry of Justice guidance published on Tuesday, sexual orientiation "does not extend to orientation based on, for example, a preference for particular sexual acts or practices" so it "covers only groups of people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or heterosexual."

What this seems to suggest is that you're free to persecute and hate people for being into personal scatological fetishes; freaky acts with AA batteries and willies; or people like Goatse who get their rocks off through personal and deliberate prolapse.

Bet that made your day huh?

Note: Do not search "Goatse" from a work machine.

Who's sponsoring Charlie Whelan's pass?

Yesterday in Parliament, Nick Harvey confirmed that the Political Director of Unite, Charlie Whelan, hold a parliamentary pass.

Oddly though I can't see his name on the Register of Interests of Members' Secretaries and Research Assistants, or the Register of Interests of Lords Members' Staff.

So who's he working for and who's sponsoring his pass?

The future of £1million property sales?

Just saying....
  1. Property on market for "offers in region of £1,010,000"
  2. Negotiate a sale price of £999,999
  3. Separately agree to purchase fixtures and fitting from the vendor in a private sale for £10,000.
Stamp Duty Savings: £10,500


UPDATE: I was under the impression stamp duty on less than a million was 1% (impression given by radio on way to work) but it seems it is 4%. Mea culpa. General point stands though.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

China makes original cars....

Wow look at the Rover 75 Roewe 750!

VAT on Royal Mail services in 2011?

Here's a curious thing, buried in the back of the Budget document it says;
"VAT and postal A.96 - From 31 January 2011 VAT will be applied at the standard rate to certain postal services provided by the universal service provider (Royal Mail)."
Did the price of stamps and other stuff in the future just go up by 17.5% or more?

So much for his comment of "I have no further announcements on VAT"

NOTE: Currently Royal Mail services are zero-rated and exempt from VAT.

Budget Speeches - Spot the Difference

So we want to do more to help people start a bank account and start saving, more to help people invest in their pension, more to help people get on to the first rung of the savings ladder and make provision for their future.

Today in Britain up to 3.5 million adults have no bank account. The Cruickshank Report has revealed that a basic affordable bank account for everyone would be profitable for the banks and that using banking facilities - and not the cash economy - just to pay gas and electricity bills could save families 50 pounds a year, or one pound a week.

I am now inviting the banks to work with the Post Office to offer this basic banking service to all. - Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, Budget speech 2000

Since 2003, the number of people without a bank account has been halved.

I can announce today we will do more to combat financial exclusion, through a guarantee that everyone can have a basic bank account.

This will mean, over the next five years, up to a million more people will have access to bank accounts – something essential in the modern world. - Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling. Budget speech 2010
Nothing new to see here, move along please.

Credit to 'Chris' for a comment in Budget Live blog.

Official: You can't trust the Treasury

Firefox says so,

Budget Blog 2010.....

Rolling bullet points will appear here during the speech....
  • Darling kicks off by saying that all the stuff the Government has done was right
  • The economy is at a "crossroads" - yay for cliches!
  • The recession started in America *yawn*
  • Notes that growth has returned to other countries. When are the next quarter GDP figures out?
  • There's going to be a 2.5bn one off growth package to help small businesses invest in key skills - but no details
  • Thus far Darling is just repeating what happened two years ago
  • The bonus tax raised £2bn
  • Says international robin hood tax on banking is needed... again
  • Says bailed out banks have cost £8bn and promises to get our money back
  • Bank accounts for all... nice rhetoric of something that exists already
  • Narrative of saying the Tories opposed everything they did continues
  • Mentions interest rates in the 1990s
  • Conflates people on dole with people who don't work
  • Possible scrappage of the retirement age.. but its an aspiration to look at it, not a guarantee to do anything
  • Doubles stamp duty limit to £250,000 from tonight for first time buyers only
  • Increase 5% on stamp duty on property over a million - redistribution - bet Tony and Cherie Blair will be pissed off
  • Quite funny that we have policies stolen from the Tories
  • Putting petrol up (1p April; 1p October and 1p Jan11). Great - but he doesn't have to drive anywhere himself at the moment. Bastard.
  • Says borrowing will be £11bn lower than the original forecast last year
  • Claims borrowing reduction is the fastest in the G7 - carefully chosen bar to measure by.
  • Hahah claims taxes on the rich have not occurred because of ideology.
  • Nothing to say on VAT or Income Tax
  • Cider tax increase of 10% above inflation
  • Inheritance Tax threshold frozen for four years? (think he said that)
  • Tobacco tax rise of 1% above inflation from tonight
  • Civil servants are going to be relocated out of London. No mention of where but it will apparently save money. Does he not know about relocation payments for staff?
  • Dartford Crossing to be sold. It was meant to pay for itself and then be free. Fat chance.
  • I'm sure I just heard him say he was deciding how much the bailed out banks were going to lend. What happened to "arms length" approach?
  • Yep, he said that RBS and Lloyds would lend £94bn to small business. Arm-length approach dead.
  • Great a new Quango that will decide whether a bank that rejects a loan application has been fair and it will be able to order it to lend the money if it decides too. Utter. Insanity.
  • OK. I'm starting to lose the will to live now.
  • Sorry guys, have missed loads because the "banks accounts for all" policy was announced in 2000 by Brown and was looking it up
  • I appear to have missed quite a lot of new spending commitments.
  • So they've signed an agreement with Belize about tax avoidance. Shameless party politics really.
  • Winter fuel payment news will please the millions of ex-pats in Spain.
  • And we're done.
So basically we have a Budget that's big changes were Tory policies anyway, or re-announcements and there was a dig at Ashcroft.

I'm not a PC but 'yourbudgetresponse' was my idea

As reader's of Guido will have read this morning's, the Tories announced yesterday that they were going to crowdsource todays Budget. Guido correctly noted that this was something I suggested two weeks ago.

Yesterday, after sleeping most of the day, I received an email from Craig Elder telling me that they'd decided to run with my idea. So, as soon as the budget document is available anyone will be able to read through it and submit possible occurrences of sleight of hand tricks via

As I understand it, people will not, initially, be able to view all the comments that are made. This might upset some purists, but it's understandable that the Tories would like to use any lines of attack themselves and not offer them to Vince Cable's Lib Dem team as well.

Likewise they won't be wanting to let the Treasury, and it's massive band of civil servants know every line of attack in advance lest give them time to prepare their response too.

It's my understanding that once the official Budget Response has been made by Osborne and his team, the comments that were submitted to the site will be made public so that credit can be made to those that offered their views.

I also understand that blog and Twitter monitoring will take place during the speech aswell so that things that might be spotted by those of us watching can be picked up and fed into the front bench if worthwhile.

P.S: It seems Liam Byrne thinks this shows the Tories need help, whilst his Cabinet colleague thinks its great way to draw up a manifesto. See here for details.

Show me the money!

I'm sure the public sector pay freeze workers will be pleased he deserves it so much.
Dear [constituent]

Thank you for your email dated 5 March on the MPs pay rise. Yes I`ll be taking the rise. It's the rate decided on and I need it to do the job and deserve it because the work is increasing all the time.

Now tell me how many bank executives and directors, company executives, fund managers and local government officers you've sent the same enquiry to!

Yours sincerely

Submitted via email

Surestart electioneering with public funds?

Anyone watching politics, be it just the news, blogs, Twitter or whatever, will be aware that the Labour Party have been banging on about Surestart for quite a while now. They've also been constantly lying about what the Tories plan to do, as pointed out by Cathy Newman's excellent FactCheck blog over at Channel 4 News.

Anyhow, whilst Labour have been talking it up as so much of a success it's interesting to note how much Government money they've spent on PR to promote Surestart over the past three years.
Can you tell there's an election coming?

Legislating for irresponsible parents....?

Great! here we go again. This morning's Times is leading on a call from doctors to ban smoking in cars to protect children from passive smoking, oh yes, and banning us from smoking outside in public places like parks where kids might be.

Don't get me wrong here, I can see the point about smoking in cars when you have a kid in there. I don't smoke in the car when I have Dizzy Jr in it as a matter of course, and I don't smoke in the house when he's there either.

Why should there be legislation creating a blanket ban though? If two adult smokers are in a car, why shouldn't they be allowed to smoke? What right does anyone have to come into private space? As for this idea about parks, it's outside, so unless someone is deliberately blowing their smoke in the faces of children, is the presence of some cigarette smoke in the atmosphere really any worse than the fumes from cars driving past?

What next, a ban on cars using roads near parks?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Tory campaign website redirects to hardcore pensioner gay porn

OK, so I think I might be coming down with something so this will be the last post of the day, but I just wanted to blog a quick comment for those reading who do not follow Twitter. Basically, the Tories latest "Cash Gordon" website mentioned in the previous post is offline (at the time of writing).

The reason is because the developers who were paid to create it didn't, it seems, protect against code injection. The Twitter feed was scrolling as people used the hashtag #cashgordon. The problem was that by inserting javascript into the Tweet comment it was possible to browser hijack people and redirect them elsewhere e.g. to old men getting it on as in Lemon Party*.

People began to do it spades and it's been taken offline and word is that it's being fixed currently.

Epic fail.

Do not search "lemon party" whilst at work.

Gordon admits he made a mistake... again?

OK, not quite, but Phil Donohue has spotted a funny one. Youtube have added the ability to transcribe the audio in videos on the fly, but it's a little bit buggy.

If you click the button in the bottom right corner and go to the CC option you can choose the Transcribe Audio option, then enjoy the hilarious results.

EXCLUSIVE: Sex furniture, Scientology and McDonalds

Should anyone want a good laugh there is a rather amusing posting over on the left wing blog, Political Scrapbook which details how the latest Conservative Party website, Cash Gordon is hosted on the same server as some American websites, Political Scrapbook notes,
In an embarrassment for CCHQ, the party’s flagship campaign is currently hosted alongside those attempting to ”rescue America from government-run health care”, including and Hands Off. Another site rails against homosexuals in the armed forces, stating the military “should not be used as a tool to advance the goals of gay activist groups”.
Isn't it incredible? Isn't it terrible?

Well I can add to this now and exclusively reveal that, in an embarrassment for Political Scrapbook, their website is currently hosted on the same server and alongside websites selling machines to use when having sex, furniture to use whilst having sex, and sites selling breast enlargement pills.

What's more, I can also exclusively reveal that, as a result of using Akamai Technologies, in an embarrassment to Gordon Brown, his official Downing Street website is notionally hosted alongside the official Church of Scientology News website... oh yes, and McDonalds Norway... I'm lovin' it!

Doing a spot of research? Ten minutes wasted
Taking the piss out a crap argument by some left wing blogger? Priceless!

Help! Translation services needed

Sorry for highlighting another Early Day Motion from Austin Mitchell (see previous post for the first) but I;m struggling to understand what the gibberer is on about with this one.
That this House believes that HM Treasury should alleviate the effects of the recession and prevent the continued escalation of debt by matching the amount of money created through quantitative easing by the Bank of England with interest free cash for financing works in the public interest, thus addressing the enormous imbalance between interest bearing credit and interest free cash in the overall money supply.
Can anyone explain?

Champagne Socialist - So long and thanks for all the fish?

From Austin Mitchell, the class warrior who thought it "silly" to try and live on benefits,
That this House, recognising the vital importance of hon. Members in protecting and supporting constituents, defending and advancing constituencies, serving their parties and controlling the executive and considering that the great majority of hon. Members work hard and face considerable strain for pay lower than most comparable occupations, and further seeing that the standing of Parliament and its members has been deeply damaged by the clamorous campaign whipped up by sections of the media who want to arrogate to themselves Parliament's job of controlling the executive, leading the political debate and articulating the grievances of the people and further recognising that this campaign has been facilitated by the failures of the Fees Office, the ineptness of the Kelly and Legg reviews and the failure of party leaders to defend and sustain their rank and file members, urges hon. Members, as this Parliament draws to a close, not to be cast down by the populist clamour and the lack of respect that this maelstrom of misunderstanding which this has led to, but urges them to bear the slings and arrows of outrageous politics with magnanimity in order to maintain confidence in their work and value, and to go forth with confidence wherever their destiny now calls them whether to a happy retirement, a new and less stressful job, or to renew their bonds with their constituents in the coming election, congratulates them all on the sterling but insufficiently appreciated good service they have performed in this Parliament, and wishes them hail and farewell.
Yes, he really did submit this motion to the House.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Eton College - aka thec***

Made me giggle anyway.

Click Image for Larger/Ruder Version

Perhaps someone should register and redirect it to Nottingham High School.

Note: Submitted via email with no explanation as to what was being searched for when it was found.

A perfect storm or a light shower?

So today is crunch day for the BA strike. Some think it will be called off at the last minute. If it is, then you can guarantee that Gordon Brown, who as we all remember, "saved the world" will try to claim credit for it whatever his role may be.

The problem is, he has another strike looming too, the RMT and there nutty Trotsykite leadership are now threatening a total national strike that will halt the railways completely for the first time in 16 years.

From the frying into the fire?

The thing is, what will be the impact if the BA strike doesn't get called off and then the RMT take out the national railways over Easter too? It is, to use the cliche a "perfect storm". Total travel chaos bringing Britain to a halt. What would the gridlock knock-on effect on the roads.

Of course it could all just turn into a light drizzly shower, but if the Unions continue to flex their muscles, can Gordon Brown - the man who leads a party totally reliant on Union funding* for it's financial survival - credibly face them down?

* Whilst the RMT is not like Unite in terms of Labour funding, its the word "unions" that will chime with people and "guilt by association" as it were.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Labour unveils its radical new strategy

According to Douglas Alexander, at the heart of the Labour strategy for the election is going to be word of mouth. This stems from the idea that we live in a networked world now so your message spreads through these networks. You see, back at the last election, coffee morning's didn't exist. Nor did social clubs, or sports clubs.

Labour have realised that now we are no longer sat on our sofas being drip-fed food and drugs like we were in 2005, they can use the "word of mouth" strategy to win the election. The plan is to take advantage of a new medium called "language" and something researchers have called "meeting people" in the hope those using the new technology will not talk about who Ashley Cole is currently shagging.

The strategy has also been noted to have a useful side-effect known as the "chinese whisper" theory. This is where the message can be put out as "we'll give you lots of free stuff unlike the Tories" and by the time it has spread it has quite rightly become "the Tories are going to buttfuck you senseless, murder your family, and take your free stuff away...shhhhhh vote labour".

The secret weapon in the "word of mouth" strategy will be Gordon Brown, who will be visiting "ordinary" voters that are pillars in the community. They will visit their local Post Office - assuming it is still open - and tell at least ten of the people collecting their non-earnings linked pension how brilliant he was and how "you really didn't feel like the glass eye was looking elsewhere".

Each of those ten will tell another ten people, and they'll tell another ten people and so on and on and on and on towards ultimate victory. This is known as the "pyramid dimension" of the "word of mouth" strategy.

As you can see this really is a radical new approach to politics that has never been seen before and it will tap into the power of "talking" that has been so lacking at all previous elections.

This is truly a brave new world in which we live and not a pseudo-intellectual theory inspired by dodgy illegal selling practices.

Insane Telegraph headline of the Day

Inspired purely by the completely absurd story on the front page of the Telegraph this morning, which Tim Montgomerie over at ConservativeHome has summed up particularly well.

However, I can't help but wonder, now that the paper is going down the Sunday Sport route of journalism, how long it will be before we get something like this from the supposedly "serious" newspaper?

Note: The Telegraph and its owners, do not have a vendetta against Nadine Dorries. Headlines with no evidence to back them up in the article are just par for the course and not in the least bit personal. Absolutely not. 100% no. They lubs her don't you know!

Why is Gordon so secretive about his website?

Do people remember, back in the summer of 2008, when Downing Street launched a new redesigned website? At the time there were rumours about how much it had cost, but the figure has never been officially known.

Not that people haven't tried to find out of course.

Just like the Downing Street Gift Shop, question after question has been asked in Parliament to try and find out exactly how much of our money was spent on the redesign, and time after time there is a complete refusal to tell anyone the answer. Occasionally they even mislead Parliament and say things like,
"The cost of the Prime Minister's website redesign was met from the running costs of the Digital Communications Unit. It is not possible to separate out the specific costs associated with the redesign."
I call this misleading because in response to a Freedom of Information request last week, the Cabinet Office admitted that they do hold information on how much it cost, which kind of contradicts the ministerial response above.

However - sadly - even Freedom of Information hasn't worked in finding out the answer. Downing Street refuses to disclose how much the redesign of website was, and the reason? They say it is in the public interest but would be commercially prejudicial and inhibit their ability to tender for contracts in the future. Before you ask, yes, an internal review has been requested - although no one has yet bothered to acknowledge it*. I've pointed out to them that other departments are not so coy about disclosing how much their website redesigns cost the public purse.

Frankly, the failure to disclose the information says more about the culture of secrecy in Number 10 than it does about Gordon Brown's professed desire to provide open and transparent information on public spending - not a surprise really given Gordon Brown had to admit yesterday that he'd been misleading people about the Defence budget for years.

However, should anyone from the Cabinet Office's Freedom of Information team be reading this - yes Yasmine I mean you - I thought I would give you some links to where the rest of Government is transparent whilst you are secretive. Just to help you out as it were!

Incidentally, these are also the links I'll be sending to the Information Commissioner should you continue to refuse the disclosure of what is in the public interest (as you have acknowledged).

Open and Transparent Departments on website redesign costs:

Closed and Secretive Departments on website redesign costs:

I guess if they don't respond I shall have to hope for a change of Government on election night. At least then there might be an open attitude to the truth when it comes to public spending.

*Update:* Approximately 2.5 hours after this post was published I received acknowledgement of the request for an internal review.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Caption Competition

Lorry driver fail to spot car stuck to his lorry?

Have just spoken to Arclid Transport about this video that's appeared on YouTube. The guy refused to pass any further comment other than as far he knew it's genuine and isn't some sort of crazy viral.
Incredible huh? Apparently filmed on the A1.

Hat Tip: Arbroath Blog

Labour party worker talks about the #changewesee

What a brilliant admission of failure!

Ironically I found this just after reading this from Martin Salter MP. How right he is/was.

Bloody media coverage... by the way, have you read my book?

Alsitair Campebll, who's blog is really annoying in that it doesn't do permanent links to posts, has written a post this morning complaining that the BBC didn't cover Michael Foot's funeral and instead reported the David Beckham Achilles story and Kate Winslet's separation. Campbell poses the question, "Is Kate Winslet's split more important than Michael Foot's funeral?".

Now personally speaking, I'd say the answer is yes, it is more important because the vast majority of the great British public is not particularly interested in the funeral of a politician who never actually made it. The same will be true for the funerals of many other UK political leaders who didn't make it. The death will be reported, but the funeral will remain a private affair.

Sorry, you might not like it..... but it's the truth.

Of course, one might have a little more sympathy for Campbell's complaints if he hadn't found the space to promote his latest fictional novel when making his argument. It was I must say, delicious to see a post that started terribly serious and sombre to then suddenly see the whole thing turn into an "in my novel" bit of self-promotion.


Labour Twitter Engagement Tsar says 'leave me alone proles'


Where is the next Ronald Reagan?

Nothing like a good strike to remind people what life is like when elites try to cripple industry for producer interests huh? Sometimes I really wish I worked in a unionised business just so I could tell the local shop steward to bugger off and cross a picket line. It would, for me, be the ultimate expression of individuality to ignore the collective 'lemmingnisation' of my colleagues.

The next most annoying thing about striking is the utter nonsense arguments of secondary action. When one lots of sheep strike and another lot of sheep at a completely different business who have no grievances with their bosses decide to strike too to show their solidarity with their comrades in the struggle - thank God such lunacy is illegal in the UK.

However, it doesn't stop the possibility or threat of secondary action abroad, and that appears to be what people are concerned about now given the news that Unite have started talking to their "brothers and sisters" (yes, they do actually use those terms without a hint of sarcasm or mouth-breathing retardedness) in the US trade union the "International Brotherhood of Teamsters".

Thankfully, the US is a little more sane with it's labour laws, the Railway Labor Act is quite prohibitive on strike action by airline workers in the US, to the point that the business that faces strikes is within its rights to replace any striking workers and then fire them for misconduct or simple eliminate their jobs.

As I've always believed , yes you can have the right to strike, but the employer should retain the right to fire you too. If you don't like it, don't take the piss - this got me into lots of arguments with card-carrying SWP lecturers at University.

The wider concern of course with the meeting between Unite and the Teamsters is that another super-merger may occur, and there is talk of Unite wooing European trade unions too. What a joyful prospect global strike action by a mega-global Union would be!

Let's hope, should it ever happen, that we'd have leaders in charge who were like Ronald Reagan, who infamously, and quite rightly told striking air traffic controllers that if they "do not report for work within 48 hours, they have forfeited their jobs and will be terminated", and then promptly fired 11,345 of them a few days later.

Let me be particularly blunt. If you're going to go on strike collectively, the risk to your employment should be clear. If you don't like the way an employer is treating you then go and get another job. Simples!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

SHOCK NEWS: EU says Pope is 'definitely Catholic'

So, the European Commission has said that Gordon Brown is living in fantasy land with his growth prediction and deficit reduction plans. Nothing particularly surprising in that really, the only people who seem to think Brown's plans are credible are the non-critical servile cheerleaders (I'm thinking hacks like Kevin Macguire and Labour bloggers like Ellie Gellard (who is so far up Gordon's arse she gives a new meaning to term "Brownite")).

Labour have, of course, come out fighting saying that their plans are sound, and that they'll halve the deficit in four years. They point to the Fiscal Responsibility Bill as proof that they have no choice anyway.. it's the law don't you know! Indeed, it's a law that says "The Treasury must..." quite a lot and then in Section 4.3 it says,
Accordingly, the fact that—
(a) any duty in section 1, or

(b) any duty imposed by an order under section 2,

has not been, or will or may not be, complied with does not affect the lawfulness of anything done, or omitted to be done, by any person.
Some have already complained that the Act has no sanction in it if the obligations are not met, but the truth is its worse than that, it actually explicits says that failing to do what the law says is not anyone fault and is not illegal - talk about pointless legislation huh?

Anyhow, I digress, that the European Commission has called Labour on its bullshit should not really be a surprise. From 2003 onwards Gordon Brown consistently predicted that borrowing would fall, and every year he retruned to the Dispatch Box for a budget his figures had changed (see here and here).

Only a complete idiot would believe that things are going to go the way Brown says they will.. look at his track record in Budget speeches

* Dotted lines are predictions for debt from Brown each year. Solid line is what Brown confirmed debt to be for each year.

Always wrong, or always lying. You decide.

Diana Johnson MP and the Mysterious Invoice

Back when the expenses scandal kicked off last May, one of the MPs that found herself under the spotlight was Government whip and now Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Department for Children, Schools and Families, Diana Johnson (Hull North).

When Thomas Legg reported, he said that Diana Johnson "has no issues" in relation to her Additional Cost Allowances, but what Legg didn't look at, and the Telegraph didn't spot, were the details listed in her Communications Allowance - the allowance given for distributing and promoting the work of an MP at a constituency level.

At the end of the detailed, albeit censored claims, provided on the Parliamentary website, is an invoice (below) to the tune of £1,654 for "delivery of a leaflet in Hull North Constituency during September and October 2007".

Looks legit doesn't it? However there's is an oddity about it. You see, there appears to be no such company as J W Shipley Distribution, either solvent or dissolved, listed on Companies House. An advanced search for all companies with "Shipley" also throws up nothing. Curious!

There is, however, an "independent" member of Humberside Police Authority called John Shipley who happens to be a local Labour Party activist in Hull, who also stood for the Labour Party in Hull during the 2002 elections.

I tried to contact Mr Shipley yesterday for confirmation that the invoice was from him but as yet have had no response.

Could it be that an allowance meant for non-party political activity is being used to pay Labour Party activists to deliver leaflets? Who knows, it's a bit of mystery!

Is John Mann a wanker?

He doesn't think so! The Labour MP for Bassetlaw has contacted a blogger called Mannism and threatened libel action noting that somebody called him a "wanker".

Bless is tetchy little cotton socks!

Hat Tip: Guido

Monday, March 15, 2010

Random anti-Gordon YouTube videos

For the Comrades,

And a little music too,

Circular - yet worthy - question

I guess Rob Wilson, the MP for Reading East already knows the answer to this written question that was due for answer today.
Mr Rob Wilson: To ask the Prime Minister, whether he sought to inform the hon. Member for Reading East of his visit to Reading on Monday 1 March in advance of the visit.
Bet the answer is along the lines of "I have many engagements and meetings to which a number of people are invited".

Enough is Enough

The Drinkers Alliance have launched a pre-emptive strike against Alistair Darling over tax hikes on booze called Enough is Enough. Sadly I doubt it will make much difference.

Anything that can provide a little bit of pleasure is always going to be taxed ever more heavily by Government.

Still, I love the bottle of Gordon's Gin they've been distributing around Westminster.

RIP Peter Graves.....

Joey.... have you ever?

How secure are we from EMP?

Just spotted this little gem in Hansard,
Mr. Swire: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what research his Department has conducted on the likely magnitude of an electromagnetic pulse weapon attack upon the UK and the consequences of such an attack.

Bill Rammell: The Ministry of Defence has undertaken electromagnetic pulse research in a number of areas. This information is being withheld for the purpose of safeguarding national security.
Now, fair enough, I understand why you would hold back such information. After all, no one who owns a house does a security assessment and then posts the vulnerabilities on the door for all to see.

However, that doesn't mean I think that you couldn't discuss certain aspects out in the open. After, the USA has an EMP Commissionwhich have produced publicly accessible reports on the threat to civilian infrastructure from an EMP attack.

Yes, security is important, but it seems to me that the impact of a non-nuclear EMP could have far greater consequences than any conventional weapon simply designed to blow things up. After all, taking out all electrical devices in a pulse radius could cripple the city.

So, should the UK have it's own EMP Commission and you it be more accessible to the public?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Joined-Up Government

Unite Union donates over £10 million in three years to the Labour Party keeping the party afloat.

Transport Secretary Lord Adonis says that the Government cannot intervene in the BA vs Unite dispute in anyway whatsoever.

The circle is squared

Friday, March 12, 2010

Epic Logo Fail


Doom Quake - Gordon Brown style - play online

One of the best first person shooters ever has been re-made online and called "Gordon's Revenge". It means you you can run around going postal with a Doom Quake shotgun as Gordon Brown killing the evil David Cameron, William Hague and crazy Nick Griffin dog draped in the Union Jack.

No doubt lots of Labour gamers will enjoy it, play it at Political Gaming.

Mea Culpa, for some reason I thought it was Doom II but its actually Quake. Ooops.

Time to Hug a Hoodie in Gravesham - possibly NSFW

I was, I must admit, highlighted amused to hear that the Lib Dems had selected as prospective Parliamnetary candidate for Gravesham, Kent, a leading director and producer of porn who just so happens to be woman. Anna Arrowsmith directs under the psuedonym Anna Span, and no doubt Harriet Harman will despise her for betraying the sisterhood.

Anyhow, I have been looking through Anna's back catalogue (*snigger*) and I reckon in her hyper-marginal battle against the sitting Tory MP Adam Holloway (654 majority) it would be great if we see a leaflet using the cover of Anna's 13th seminal classic "Hug a Hoodie"?

Taking Tory policy to a literal end.. who says politics can't be sexy huh?

Incidentally, I couldn't care less what the woman does, she's making money and providing a service where consenting adults perform for the pleasure of other consenting adults to watch. Nothing wrong with that whatever the prudish bore Harman might say.

Note: The cover has been pixelised slightly by me to protect the deep sensitivities of some readers who may fear such things are NSFW.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Ad space in LA in place difficult to miss?

God I love eBay and entrepreneurship.

They are awfully big aren't they?

The Tories "get it" with IT Development

Am just reading the Tory Technology manifesto and, whilst they're high level policy announcements the two really really good things leap out at me.
We will create a level playing field for open source IT by implementing open standards across government IT systems. Open standards will also enable large contracts to be broken into small modular components, so reducing risk and enabling more small businesses to bid for government IT contracts.

To ensure that high tech small businesses are not locked out of the IT procurement process, a Conservative government will also introduce a presumption against government IT contracts worth over £100 million.
Excellent, no more Accidenture, Crapita etc but instead taking IT projects to a more granular modular level. And then there is this,

We will also create a small IT development team in government – a ‘government skunkworks’ – that can develop low cost IT applications in-house and advise on the procurement of large projects.

This is brilliantly good and something I've been saying should happen for bloody ages. Essentially a team of geeks that span Whitehall doing decent small scale development witht he hope of creating larger projects rather than a bunch of civil servants from different departments all being conned by different contractors.

Let's hope they can get Government IT being a little more Agile so we start to guarantee some sort of delivery.

Tories say 'hack them before they hack us'?

Interesting moves coming from the Tories on the matter of information security and so-called "cyber-defence". Baroness Neville-Jones, Tory spokeswoman on things like security and counter-terrorism has said on the subject of dealing with Internet based attack on UK infrastructure,
We need an active defence. By this I mean using technologies that are able to identify unexpected events, trace them to source and immediately disrupt them. In other words, for our cyber defence to be effective we must allow the use of offensive tactics.
Sounds like a fun job! I bet China will be quaking in their boots now!

Photoshop disaster for Miliband et al

Professional magazine and newspaper huh? They do photoshopping well right? Airbrush? Crop? Yes, the professional press pay for expertise and they get the best as a result..... well apart for the New Statesman that has this absolute photoshop abortion.

Perhaps it was done by the Staggers' unpaid slave intern?

Pointless boycotts... what's up with that?

Can someone, anyone, explain to me this rather silly no-platform/boycott approach to the BNP, because I just don't get it? Putting aside the freedom of the press argument, and the free speech argument, isn't the existence of the BNP somewhat justified simply as an unintended consequence of the identity politics followed by those who wish to no-platform them?

This isn't the first time I've said this, but if you're going to have and support a multitude of agencies, charities, organisations etc that define themselves in terms of the identity of their membership - perhaps on something like race - should we really be surprised if an organisation like a political party develops along those grounds, however unpalatable and crazy their views are?

We have black supremacists and we have white supremacists - so what? Both are followed by crazies and represent such a minuscule threat to sane democracy based upon individual liberty why should it matter, and why should it require a boycott, if they get interviewed by a magazine like Total Politics?

OK, so someone might argue that interviewing a racist fascist is something they don't agree with, but, where was the boycott of Channel 4 News when Tony Benn interviewed Saddam Hussein? Unlike the electorally insignificance holder of bugger all power Nick Griffin, here we had an interview with a dictator who had happily thrown around chemical weapons on his own people and ordered the murder of thousands. He was a proper bastard, not a wannabe bastard. Was there a boycott? No.

What's more, I can't help but wonder, if Total Politics was interviewing Omar Bakri, a crazy Islamist supremacist, would there be crying from the sidelines about the need for no-platform? Or would there instead be silence and possibly arguments about the need to understand the genuine grievances Muslims have against us Western imperialists?

Like I say, I really struggle to understand the no-platform approach to a fringe crazy that sits with other equally fringe crazies in a remote Parliament that functions in such a way that their crazy views are marginalised anyway and stand no chance of becoming mainstream. Interviewing such people is worthy for the comedy value alone as we all get to point at laugh at them, no?

Death and taxes.... and more taxes

I do enjoy a good ad temperantiam fallacy to wake me up in the morning and Andy Burnham's latest on social care is a classic. We've come to call this sort of thing "triangulation" too, but it is essentially the falsehood of the middle ground argument, and I'll be very surprised if we don't hear someone from Labour use the term "middle way" or "middle ground" to argue in favour of their latest wheeze.

The wheeze itself is a new plan on social care for the elderly which will basically slap another tax, on death, on people's estates to the tune of 10%. This will be on top on Inheritance Tax (40%) in order to provide free residential care and home help for all. In other words, they're going to tax you on your money, you're going to spend your taxed money and save your taxed money, then, when you die they're going to tax you some more.

Who benefits most? Well that will be the people who don't save anything at all and sit on their fat lazy arses safe in the knowledge that people who work hard to buy their own home will be funding their personal arse wiping services until they shuffle off to the great Dole queue in the sky.

Of course, it wasn't always 10%. No. Originally it seems there was an idea of having a flat rate £20,000 tax on death for anyone with an estate that could pay such an amount. This led to the infamous poster that got spoofed and caused a "row". Now though, Andy Burnham has "ruled it out" and saying this about the new idea,
"This is not a flat fee and would enable people to protect 90% of their homes and savings"
See the way he frames it in how much of your already taxed money you'll be allowed to let your beneficiaries keep? They're so generous aren't they?

However, I digress. What we have here is a shift toward a middle ground so that Labour can say, "look, we've rejected the £20K idea as a bit unfair. The Tories are offering a voluntary scheme that is unfair to those who don't take part. We're in the middle of both positions though, we're moderate, and therefore our position must be right".

Triangulation; ad temperantiam; appeal to moderation, false compromise, call it what you will - it's still bollocks.

NHS IT idiocy - continued

I know I wrote about IT and the NHS the other day, but the latest idiocy from the Department of Health is as truly staggering as the complete waste fo money that the NHS IT programme has become. The DoH is it seems about to push forward and rollout its much anticipated Summary Care Records (SCR) across England. Strategic Health Authorities are preparing their record right now it seems.

Where's the idiocy? Is that what you're thinking? Well it the DoH has spent, £723,411 on a study by University College London with the express purpose to "inform the national roll out of SCR". When was it published? Err it hasn't been. In fact it won't be published until next month after the rollout has already begun.

Is't it incredible, at a time when the national economy is well and truly shafted with debt, that the Government responsible for creating the mess would spend nearly 3/4 million pounds on a study designed to help them do something and then do the something beofre the report has even been published?

Talk about putting the cart before the horse!

Best free labour scheme EVER?

I have to tip my hat to McDonalds this morning. It is a stroke of pure business genius to have come up with a GCSE-equivalent qualification in burger flipping hospitality which requires those taking it to do 10 days working in a "restaurant" (80 hours).

Who needs minimum wage numbnuts when you've got a steady flow of 14 and 15 year olds to work for free?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tories must "crowd source" during the budget

So, Labourlist is reporting that the Budget will be announced today as being on March 24th which pretty much means a May 6th poll and Gordon will scuttle off to see Brenda not long after Darling sits down.

As I said a few weeks ago, the Budget will effectively be Labour Manifesto, and its timing will be designed, I have no doubt, to give them maximum coverage in all the "pull-outs the next day that assess whether you're going to be richer or poorer.

As we all know, Labour budgets are classic examples of the art of obfuscation and they usually unravel within days as people get a chance to read over the small print. The problem is, no one apart of political nerds usually knows about the cons because its buried in the back pages, or only appears in papers that few read, as compared to say the daily freesheets.

The gamble with the budget is clear. Take advantage of free coverage in the immediate aftermath knowing that for many it will be the only bit of politics they actually pay attention to in the run up to the election because they just can't get away from it even in the free press.

As I said last week, expect a lot of eye-catching moves that will get the papers printing positive stories to make everyone feel fluffy. I think Labour will propose an Inheritance Tax threshold increase for start, probably to a halfway point like £500,000 which would work out to a million for married couples and civil partners. They're going to triangulate the Tory policy saying their helping the many not just the few.

He's going to freeze or perhaps even cut the basic level of income tax and then try to Svengali trick of increasing other taxes elsewhere that we won't notice to offset it - probably a freeze in tax thresholds so we have a bit of fiscal drag. The Labour playbook is one that is repeated time and again, why should we expect anything different. A cut or even a freeze will force the Tories hand.

There will be widespread and deliberately vague talk about "efficiency savings" already achieved and totally made-up figures about what else is too come. Numbers like £20bn will be plucked out of the air and compared to made-up Tory figures saying if they followed them it would ruin the economy - even though it's already ruined.

What Osborne and the Tory frontbench have to do, along with the back office staff, whilst Darling is speaking, is monitor the social media feeds from the likes of Twitter and those live blogging the event. Back when Brown did his 10p tax trick, it was spotted by me and others whilst Brown was speaking, but the response failed to notice it.

Osborne et al need to be wired up. Blackberrries and other mobile device need to be fully charged and if they believe in the so-called "open source wisdom of crowds" (aka crowd sourcing) they need to be ready to tap into it and destroy the budget before the press begins to wet their inks.

It's the Tories one and only chance to change the Budget narrative that Brown and Darling want. If they fuck it up, it will set the start of the official campaign back. They need to win the media narrative otherwise they'll be fighting from behind.

Lord Paul to be investigated by peers for taking the piss

This week, on Guy News, Guido featured an interview with a man who knows all about the business practices of Lord Paul, the Labour peer who is non-domiciled. It's alleged that back in 1989, Lord Paul's steel conglomerate, Caparo, took control of Armstrong Engineering and effectively plundered the pension fund by refusing to top it up thus screwing over the workforce.

Of course, you're unlikely to hear this coming from Labour sources (but you will from the Socialist Workers). Rather you'll hear lots of puffed up screaming about how Lord Ashcroft is an evil baby-eating bastard who would probably sell his own grandmother into slavery to make a few quid. Such is the glaring hypocrisy prevalent in party politics today.

However, Lord Paul is under some more pressure too, from his peers in the House of Lords it seems.This morning's Sun reports that an investigation is being launched into Paul's allowance claims of £38,000 for overnight stays in a flat he's never slept in now the Police have said he is not being charged.

Now, perhaps I'm being a little bit thick here, but why does a man who was ranked 36 in the Sunday Times Rich List with a worth of £1,500 million even think claiming taxpayers money that equates to 0.0025% of his worth is even remotely justified?

Jesus wept.

How Politics Works: Lesson Three

This is Lesson Three in the exciting series called "How Politics Works". Today you're going to learn how to create an electoral campaign strategy.

Click Image for Larger Version
Lesson Four coming soon!

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

.... With Altitude?

Note: One of the best groups ever.

A polite message for @johnprescott

I don't actually know if John Prescott really updates Twitter personally like he claims he does, but the other week his profile posted the comment below and he then went on to create a tag called #iwanttoseeosbornepwned.

I have a polite message for John, or whichever "never had a proper job" dick does the Twitter updates, and it's this.

Trying to appropriate the use of Net and gaming sub-culture makes you look like a complete cock, OK? It's up there with a David Brent moment where you cringe so much you want to crawl into a small hole and look away from the world. What next I wonder, a decision to have a core vote strategy called "all your base are belong to us"?

Does anyone for a single minute think Prescott understands that he's using leetspeak? Does anyone think he has heard of Half-Life? Quake or fragging? Does he know what a railgun is or what BFG stands for in the world that he wants to seem so very "in touch" with?

John, seriously, stop it. Step away from the keyboard, put down the Crackberry. I appreciate you have to sometimes drop some vowels in words to work within the 140 character limit, however, using Internet slang doesn't make you a digital cowboy, it just makes you look like an arsehead.

UPDATE: One other thing John, if your language appropriation was genuine rather than a cynical attempt to look hip you'd have gone the whole hog and said this in your tweet instead,
"total pwnage on osborne over ashcroft FTW. tim masrhall haz madskillz roflcopter!!!11one Y no clip @skynewspolitics? teh ph33r?"
Note: Tweet translation services provided by Aminal.

Update II: Shame Twitter won't let you post this really.
L /---------
LOL=== []\
L \ \
| |

Scrapping the target for University admission could cut immigration

I was rather amused this morning to hear that the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) has said that the target of getting 50% of all those under 30 to University should be scrapped because it devalues degrees as a result of lots of silly courses being offered.

I wasn't amused by the AGR's statement you understand, scrapping such a target appears like common sense to me - I will come back to that in a minute - but rather I was amused by the rejection of their recommendation by students and producer interests in the form of lecturer etc.

According to the Today programme the instant response was too call the AGR "out of touch". Errr hello? If anyone is in touch with the way industry are now perceiving the value of degrees it will be those that recruit graduates. I am presuming that when they say they're "out of touch" what they actually mean is that they're being elitist or some other such enemy of egalitarian utopia.

Returning to the point about common sense and scrapping the target. It seems to me that instead of having a drive to monitor and increase admissions to University, we should perhaps instead focus our concerns on completion of course instead. After all, as the admission rate has increased so has the drop out rate.

It doesn't take a genius to realise that people who shouldn't be going on to higher education are doing so as a result and often wasting time and money when they could be doing education and training elsewhere. A degree is not the be-all and end-all, especially if it's in something like "waste management" (posh name for bin men or a cover for Mafia business in New Jersey).

There is a wider point here as well which I have alluded too on the blog before, and elsewhere. The increase drive for admissions into University is interlinked with the increase of legal, but much increased immigration. It's not rocket science really, but if you insist on over-inflating the egos of young peoples by giving them "degrees" you also deflate their willingness to do certain jobs which they inevitably think are beneath them.

It shouldn't be a surprise therefore that we see a massive influx in legal immigration that performs those jobs that the non-immigrant workforce refuse to do. It's the unintended consequence of the so-called "high skill economy" that the Labour Party bang on about.

It might sound fluffy and desirable to talk about skilling everyone up for a dynamic economy driven by the white heat of technology, but someone still needs to clean the bloody toilets, serve coffee, stack shelves in supermarket etc*. It's all very good to talk about "British jobs for British workers" but if your British workers won't do the jobs because "they've got a degree don't you know" then you're in a mess of your own making.

It might sound perverse to some, but if you want to tackle immigration then you need to remove the incentive that brings people to the country i.e. jobs. The only way you can do it is to stop artificially promoting educational paths through social engineering and let society separate the wheat from the chaff in a natural way.

Of course, there are some that will say this is elitist. I would reject that and say that it's just a fact of life that some people are really bloody clever and others are not.

* I have done all three of those things for money before anyone asks. I've even worked on a production line in a factory smears tomato-based products on to pizza bases.