Wednesday, 28 April 2010


Blogger won't allow me to put pictures from my own computer!

Consequently, after abit of thought, I'm moving to 

See you there- with pictures!

Thursday, 22 April 2010

For You Cleggy, Ze Election Iz Over!

Front-page of today's Mail. Nick Clegg is in a traitorous plot with foreigners. Unlike some people. Seriously, if the Lib Dems were offering a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty (not even saying whether people should vote yay or nay) I would really consider voting for them, just to see the front-pages of the Thatcherite newspapers on May 7th and the headline 'IT WAS THE SUN WOT LOST IT!'

Moreover, although it always like to wrap itself up in the Union Jack, I always think the Mail is skating on the proverbial thin ice when it goes on about World War Two (it is for it) and Nazis (it is against them). After all, its owner at the time Lord Rothermere can hardly be said to have covered himself in glory:

On 10 July 1933, Rothermere wrote an editorial titled ‘Youth Triumphant' in support of Adolf Hitler, this was subsequently used as propaganda by the Nazis. In early 1934, Rothermere and the Mail were editorially sympathetic to Oswald Mosley and the British Union of Fascists.Rothermere wrote an article entitled ‘Hurrah for the Blackshirts’, in January 1934, praising Mosley for his ‘sound, commonsense, Conservative doctrine’....

Rothermere was a friend and supporter of both Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler, which influenced the Mail's political stance towards them up to 1939. Rothermere visited and corresponded with Hitler. On 1 October 1938, Rothermere sent Hitler a telegram in support of Germany's invasion of the Sudetenland, and expressing the hope that 'Adolf the Great' would become a popular figure in Britain....

In 1937, the Mail's chief war correspondent, George Ward Price, to whom Mussolini once wrote in support of him and the newspaper, published a book, I Know These Dictators, in defence of Hitler and Mussolini....

In 1938, as persecution of the Jews in Europe escalated, the Mail objected to their seeking asylum in Britain. ‘The way stateless Jews from Germany are pouring in from every port of this country is becoming an outrage. The number of aliens entering the country through the back door is­ a problem to which the Daily Mail has repeatedly pointed.’

Rothermere and the Mail supported Neville Chamberlain's policy of appeasement, particularly during the events leading up to the Munich Agreement. In 2005, the British Foreign Office disclosed previously secret letters from Rothermere addressed to Hitler from the summer of 1939, in which he congratulated the German leader on his annexation of Czechoslovakia, urged him to invade Romania, and called Hitler's work ‘great and superhuman’.

Lord R and Adolf The Great: 'Herr Hitler, before we move onto meatier questions- Marmite, Love It Or Hate It?'

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Apols for not posting once a day

Despite Gordon Brown's warm words, the chances of talks about a Lib Dem-Labour coalition reaching a mutually beneficial conclusion weren't looking good...

I blame work and needing to sleep for my slackness. Next week I hope to blast a lot more out, although I hope to get a few down for posterity's sake in the next few days. Bear with me!

Monday, 19 April 2010

Election Links and More Cameron Cobblers

Then I woke up...

According to a poll in The Sunday Times, Nick Clegg is almost as popular as Winston Churchill. This is probably not doing Rupert Murdoch's digestion much good at the moment, which is, overall, a pretty good thing. For those who are not totally into the 'Clegg= The British Obama' narrative you may want to check out Tim Pendry's thoughts. For those of you who like fishing around in Memory Holes you may be interested in this (only from last month, but that is an eternity in the 24/7 continuous media-news-entertainment loop we now live under).

One of the mitigating factors working against a Lib Dem breakthrough, apart from an electoral system where the third placed party in terms of votes could be first in terms of MPs (and vice-versa- how on Earth is that democratic?), is the tribalism which infects British politics. Frankly, it is damn hard to vote for something you were not brought up to support. I said something in a post not so long back that politics and elections should not be treated like a sporting event, one where you support your side whatever happens. However, even now I would no more think of voting Conservative than cheering on Birmingham City FC! The fear of letting your perceived main enemy win can often paralyse any effective poltical action that would really change things. Perhaps if we get electoral reform for General Elections (a big if...) people will feel freer to vote for political parties they actually agree with (as happens in European, London, Scottish and Welsh Elections, which have PR elements). Until then I think 'my party, right or wrong' will continue to shape many, if not most, people's political views, as Julian Glover discusses.

It might have been worth putting a question mark at the end there...

What makes Gordon Brown tick? An interesting interview with Colin Harvie, author of  Broonland and former acquaintance of the PM, sheds some light.

A critique of Phillip Blond's 'Red Toryism', which was half-adopted by David Cameron in the same way c.1996 Tony Blair half-adopted Will Hutton's 'Stakeholder Economy' concept, can be found here.

Finally, Dave Cameron is coming out with more cobblers, the sort Tony Blair would be proud of. After talking about ten year old members of the Royal Navy in last Thursday's TV debate (and nuking China), Call Me Dave was in fine form again yesterday:

'David Cameron clearly has trouble understanding childhood. In last week's debate he claimed to have met a man who joined the navy as a 10-year-old. Now the Tory leader seems convinced that he grew up in the 1990s. At the launch of his manifesto for older people yesterday he reminisced about his childhood, claiming the idea of the big society came from his parents. "My mother was a magistrate. She used to come home and tell us all stories about the Newbury bypass protesters and Swampy up his tree." At the height of the protests Cameron was 30 years old. And, apparently, still living with his parents.'

Black Wednesday, September 16th 1992: 'Mr. Lamont, can I go home now? Mother expects me home by 10 o'clock and my dinner will be burnt to cinders.' 'In a minute, son. Now watch and learn, watch and learn...'

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Battle of the Three Armies?

August 1578: Ksar El Kebir- Battle of the Three Kings

Nick Clegg did well in the first TV debate by all acounts. The polls suggest a surge towards the Lib Dems, which if repeated on May 6th, would liven things up no end.

Labour does not seem to be too bothered, even as polls suggest it has been pushed into third place. I do not think anybody, except maybe for Gordon Brown and Ed Balls, expects Labour to get an overall majority. However, for the Conservatives, who for a long time have expected an overall majority, the chances of  a hung parliament increasing is not good news at all, and they seem to be panicking. The general consensus is Call Me Dave did not do very well in the TV debate ('Ex-Carlton TV PR Flak Not Very Good On TV Shock!') and it must have galling to have been out-Obamafied by Clegg.

Nick Clegg: 'Bitter, Dave?'

Dave did himself no favours by telling an anecdote of a 40 year old black man from Plymouth who told Dave he supported tighter immigration controls. The problems being, all else being left aside, (i) Dave claimed he had been in the navy for 30 years, which defies basic mathematics (unless you can join the Navy at 10); (ii) the man was 51 and had been in the Navy just 6 years, which hardly inspires confidence in Dave getting to grips with the numbers involved in reducing Britain's deficit; and (iii) the subject of his ancedote did not say what Dave claimed he said. If you want to make up your own Dave-like anecdote, you may want to try this, which comes up with various plausible Dave bon mots.

Consternation about Dave's performance was reflected in the hardcore Thatcherite press coverage of  the TV debate. For instance, Simon 'Don't Hassle The Heff' Heffer, pompous priggish Thatcherite bore par excellence, was not impressed by Dave's performance.

Simon Heffer: 'Vote Labour and see Elevenses banned by the Politically Correct Brigade!'

Fellow Thatcher worshipper Charles Moore was not happy either. How dare those Liberal Democrats stop us Tories get an overall majority with less than 40% of the vote?

 Charles Moore: 'Brussels and BBC-backed Bolshevik Bounder Clegg deserves a damn good thrashing!'

Anyhow, the Tories have started their fightback against the Lib Dems. According to the BBC:
In the Sunday Times, [Shadow Foreign Secretary] Mr Hague argued a vote for Mr Clegg was a vote for the "European super-state" that would give away "more and more of the powers of this country".

It seems to me a bit late for the Conservatives to attack the Lib Dems for their supposed softness towards the European Union. As I said in a post a couple of days back, the Lib Dems should be ashamed of their behaviour in Parliament to scupper a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. It's the main reason why I won't vote for them. However, I think it equally disgraceful that the Conservatives dropped their 'cast-iron' guarantee of a referendum on it as well. Attacking the Lib Dems for their alleged softness towards the European Union has the potential to open a proverbial can of worms for the Conservatives.

Friday, 16 April 2010

The Commons People

Another busy non-political day, so I'll limit myself.

Passing West Hampstead Thameslink station around 8.30 this morning I was handed a bright orange and white leaflet. Two bright young things-one female, one male- were handing them out. I initally thought it might be a promotion for Easyjet. After all, it is an airline pretty well known for its orange and white livery, the Thameslink route goes to two airports Easyjet use (Gatwick and Luton) and with all the disruption to air travel at the moment caused by the Icelandic volcano, I thought it might be an offer to encourage people to fly with it once the dust in the sky all clears.

A few minutes later I was able to peruse the leaflet at my leisure and found it was literature for The Commons, the political party of leading anti-airport expansion campaigner Tamsin Omond. Why such an anti-airlines organisation should try to look like the marketing material of one of Europe's leading budget airlines is a bit of a puzzler to me.


Didn't write a post yesterday!

Sorry about that- not keeping a promise. Been a bit busy, but hope to post something later today! I'll blame the Icelandic volcano...

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Dem Glib Dems

Or is it...? (Hat-tip: Beau Bo D'or)

I had a quick gander at what the Lib Dems promised. A lot of platitudes and Mum's Apple Pie stuff. The one really good thing was promising to scrap ID cards, but I have a feeling whoever gets in may get rid of them simply due to the cost. The Lib Dems seem to be downplaying  their tradtional support for Proportional Representation, which seems strange when you consider that the opinion polls suggest a groundswell of popular opinion for a hung parliament, with no one party having a majority of seats (as it should be if no-one can get a majority of the votes). I have a feeling democratic principles would be abandoned pretty quickly in negotations with either (or both) main parties if the chance of Cabinet seats fell the way of the Lib Dems' leadership..

Of course, after their shameful sabotaging in Parliament of attempts to get a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, one should not expect much from the Glib Dems. My EU Right Or Wrong, Lib Dems?

Meanwhile, around here in Hampstead and Kilburn, the Lib Dems and Conservatives are both claiming to be the main challenger to Labour. An investigation by a local blogger suggests there is some truth in the claims made on behalf of Ed Fordham that he is only 474 votes away from taking the seat.

However, as the first commenter on the link above suggests, it is a bit more complicated than that. Most of the constituency is in Camden, but there are a few wards which are in Brent and used to be part of the old Brent East constituency, held by Lib Dem Sarah Teather. Now that she is standing in Brent Central, it remains to be seen if any personal vote for her in the Brent East part of Hampstead and Kilburn stays with the Lib Dems or goes elsewhere. Furthermore, the 474 figure above is based on the 2005 General Election. As far as I can make out, figures from the 2008 London (Mayoral and Assembly) Elections and 2009 European Elections suggest the Conservatives are the main challengers here. Throw in the fact we have local council elections on May 6th too and I wouldn't like to predict the result in Hamsptead and Kilburn. Who would be a psephologist?

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Cameron: 'Power to the People'

At least with Wolfie Smith, you knew he was sincere...

I had a good chortle at the mega-cobblers in the Evening Standard about the Conservative Manifesto. The only real surprise was they didn't decide to put Samantha Cameron on the front with 'VOTE FOR ME!' strewn across it. Instead we got this:

My cheque is in the post...

Apparently it costs £4, comes in hardback and is 118 pages of densely written text. It sounds an ideal door stop or something to throw through an appropriate window when it goes all totally Greece/Iceland/Ireland here. Lord Ashcroft must have money to burn by the sounds of it.

Dave promised he would help us all 'Be your own boss'. I don't think he was thinking the 1917 Petrograd Soviets somehow or mass expropriation by the workers of  the companies which employ the 100+ Big Business leaders who don't want to see National Insurance rise. Although the line 'Same as the old boss' from The Who's 'Won't Get Fooled Again' did implant itself in my brain.

He also said 'We're all in this together.' Some of us more than others, eh Dave?

Monday, 12 April 2010

I have a sudden craving for cornflakes...

 ...all it needs is a cockerel in the foreground.

'Labour will be restless and relentless reformers' says the PM, launching Labour's new range of cereals General Election manifesto. Sounds like all that is solid will melt into air in an alliterative manner. I cannot imagine that this this sort of stuff appeals much to what I imagine is quite a large slice of  the electorate that wants a quiet easy life and just wish things were left alone. A good critque of Labour's use of the R-words can be found here.

Splintered Sunrise examines the General Election in Northern Ireland, and particularly the allies of 'Call Me Dave' over there. Suffice to say, it is not going all hunky-dory for them.

For those of you who despair of the 'dumbing down' of  politics, more evidence of the country going to the dogs is here.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Railing against it all

The Labour Party has plans which it hopes will get rail passengers to vote Labour on May 6th. The big question is: why did they not propose and enact these plans sometime in the last 13 years when they had the chance? This demonstrates why it is so hard to take seriously anything Labour proposes during this campaign. That is, if they are such good ideas, why leave it until now to put them forward?

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Hung Out To Dry?

Very quick one for Saturday, courtesy of Marina Hyde.

PS Is there any constituency in the UK where the Lib Dems do not claim they can win there?

Friday, 9 April 2010

Friday Briefs...

At this General Election Michael Caine seems to be 'doing a Sean Connery' and giving his two-penny's worth to the British electorate. The Tory Press are giving the impression that the proposed two months in a residential centre for 16 year olds is the same as the proverbial 'National Service' which is trotted out, along with hanging, as the perennial solution to the country's problems by the saloon bar bores and third-rate Richard Littlejohn impressionists who populate tabloid letter pages and radio phone-ins. People who say 'bring back National Service' tend to forget that in the 1950s there were proper jobs and lots of them for those who had served two years in the army to go into. Now we would only have people highly trained in firearms to join criminal gangs or other sections of the lumpenproletariat.

The other Conservative cunning plan at the moment is to reverse Labour's pledge to increase National Insurance Contributions and to cut public sector 'waste'. With a lot of Big Business backing the Conservatives on NIC New Labour is at sixes and sevens. Its reaction to Big Business deserting it for the Conservatives is like watching a Gangster's Moll watching Her Mister Big going back to his Wife.

However, when it comes to cutting public sector 'waste' the Conservatives seem to be making it up as they go along. A good overview can be found here and a less reverential one here. For those of you wondering what on Earth Big Business has got to moan about, this may be of interest.

Do not expect Gordon or Dave put themselves up for hard questioning in the media during the campaign, let alone go all Stuart Mclennan on us. On the subject of the Media, the Open Rights Group and the Pirate Party give their views on the passing of the Digital Economy Bill, although the ORG does provide a tad more pithy summary:

However, as the Pirate Party say, it is only a battle lost, not the war. The General Election is the same. It is not the end of British politics, thankfully, although it may feel like it more than once in the coming weeks...

Thursday, 8 April 2010

I can barely keep up...

...not a lot happening really. I'm working and a bit tired, so I will probably not get into full flow until next week, when the campaign offically starts. However, I did promise to blog a post at least once a day during the campaign and I intend to keep my word.

It seems the big story is a bunch of Big Business types slagging off Labour's plans to increase National Insurance Contributions. The Tories say they'll reverse it. I can see your eyes glazing over as I type. In short, 'New Labour Loses Big Business Vote Shocker.' Truly a case of The Shits Hitting The Fans.

To keep yourself awake and entertained for hours, you could try The Slapometer.

I did pilfer this from the Telegraph website (hence the one-sided nature of the slapping methinks!)

Apparently you are only supposed to use it during the Leaders Debates on the television, but I cannot see the point of limiting yourself to just that! I can also imagine a  Nick Griffin/Nigel Farage/George Galloway version of the Slapometer would probably lead to internet meltdown in the UK!

From The Sublime to the The Ridiculous. After Gordon's Wayne Rooney Ankle = British Economy simile the other day, I thought the bar for Election trivialityy had been set pretty low and it would take something truly dire to get itself below that. However, it's barely taken four days for a new depth to be plunged. Namely this load of cobblers in the Torygraph:

Cameron must give roll-ups the sleeve-ho
By rolling up his sleeves and baring his arms like a vet, David Cameron sends the wrong message - that he’s trying too hard to win us over
By Damian Barr

Read the rest if you's almost as bad as the 'Leader's Wives as General Election Secret Weapons' stuff.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Don't say you're bored already...

 Latest on the Digital Economy Bill saga here.

How it turned out in '05... 

This morning I picked up a few of  the various General Election guides the papers come out with as soon as the date of the Big Day is called. The Indie and Times have got the best maps by far if you like that sort of thing. If I was somewhat younger and much more enthusiastic about General Elections I would get some blue-tac or pins out and stick them on my wall, for me to gaze at when I had nothing better to do. Or during a period of displacement activity, when I  more important/tedious matters to attend to. They would go well with any World Cup wallcharts I may have.

 However, even I would draw the line at collecting Panini stickers of politicians...

When you think about it, General Elections and World Cups are very similar. They come around about every four years, and even people who only take a cursory interest, if at all, in football/politics the rest of the time express some interest in what is going on. Both occasions dominate the TV and the rest of the media, with a fair few newspapers having special pull-out sections. Moreover, despite a few shock results and occasional schadenfreude at the misfortunes of others you've never much cared for, the overall winner is never that much of a surprise.

So like some really bad TV soccer pundit droning on about his 'dark horse' tip to surprise people at South Africa 2010, I'll put my head on the proverbial chopping block and make my overall prediction for the General Election. I think it will be a 'hung' Parliament, with the Conservatives being the biggest party in terms of seats, but falling short of an overall majority by some way. Both main parties will get somewhere between 30% and 40% (like 2005). Some sort of coalition will follow. As I've posted more than once in the last few years, I think we will end up with something approaching a 'National Government'/ 'Government Of All The Talents (aka 'GOATS', though the talent aspect is somewhat hard to perceive most of the time)/'Government of National Unity'/'Grand Coalition'- take your pick! (Sean O'Grady in today's Indie raises the spectre of a 1930s-style 'National Government'.) I think it would include people from all three of the main parties, simply because there are now so few real policy differences between the leaderships of Labour, the Lib Democrats and Conservatives that they might as well go the whole hog and join together as one.

One other prediction: whatever the result is, I think the biggest cheer of  Election night at the Labour HQ will be if 'Gorgeous' George Galloway does not get back into the Commons. Mind you, he hardly does himself any favours, does he?

Finally, in a way I am quite envious that Geoffrey Wheatcroft, one of  my favourite writers from the 'Right',  is going to be out the country while most of the General Election campaign takes place. Consequently, I will have to share something he wrote in the run-up as some sort of compensation. Whether you agree with it or not, I have a feeling that it willbe a lot more intelligent than most of the stuff which is about to envelope us all...

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Where's Swiss Toni off the 'Fast Show' when you need him?

'Overseeing the economic recovery is like making love to a beautiful woman...'

Do you remember when Gordon Brown took over everything in British politics was going to go more high-brow and less celebrity obsessed?

ITN,, Updated: 05/04/2010 05:31
Brown: Economy is like Rooney's ankle

Gordon Brown has warned that Tory plans to cut the budget deficit this year risk pushing the economy into a "double-dip" recession.

In a podcast on the No 10 website, he said that the recovery remained fragile and the economy needed time to regain strength - drawing a comparison with footballer Wayne Rooney's injured foot.

"I know everyone will be hoping he's fit for the World Cup but after an injury you need support to recover, you need support to get back to match fitness, you need support to get back your full strength and then go on to lift the World Cup. So with the economy - we're not back to full fitness, we need to maintain support," he said.

"If we try and jump off the treatment table as if nothing had happened we'll do more damage to the economy - and frankly that means we risk a double-dip recession. I think that's a risk we can't afford to take."

Shadow chancellor George Osborne announced last week that the Tories would make £6 billion in public sector efficiency savings this year in order to reverse part of the Government's planned increase in national insurance contributions, due to come in next April.

Mr Brown said: "If you withdraw support too early, we'll risk doing more damage," he said."

Blimey, only another four more weeks of similar insults to the intelligence to go...

Monday, 5 April 2010

The Net and Stuff

'But sales are slumping/And no one will say why/Could it be they put out/One too many lousy records?' Dead Kennedys 'MTV Get Off the Air'.

Tomorrow sees the Second Reading of the Digital Economy Bill in Parliament, which the Government would dearly love to make law before Westminster is dissolved for the General Election. It appears to me not only a bad law, but a law that should not be passed without full scrutiny. To make it law during the death throes of this Rump Parliament is to me plain wrong and undemocratic. I have written to my MP and she supports the Government. That's one more reason why I won't be voting for her in the General Election. You can try and contact your MP before the reading tomorrow, and I hope you have more luck than what I did. You may want to read what the Open Rights Group (from whom I borrowed the 'Dear Citizens' Letter above) say about the Bill and why everyone should be concerned:

Why Should I Care?

Consumers and companies (including Google, Facebook and Internet Service Providers themselves) alike are up in arms about the Bill, which proposes that an Internet connection could be cut off if there is suspicion that it is being used for the downloading of copyrighted content. This is very disturbing:

Although proof is required before disconnection, the evidence does not have to relate to you: you can be punished for the actions of a friend or even a neighbour who has used your Internet connection.

Rights holders could have the power to demand that sites they believe to contravene copyright law be blocked by ISPs. Right now, we don't know what the government will propose, as they have yet to draft their new proposal

As it is not the perpetrator that is punished, as you might expect, but the owner of the connection, and others using it, caf├ęs and bars may have to stop providing wifi.

Regardless of what you do or don't do, you could be punished for the actions of others because of laws put in place by the Digital Economy Bill: if you have unsecured wifi in your home, you could be punished; if you use the Internet at your local coffee shop or library, you could lose access to that connection.

Justice would not be completely out of reach: you could appeal, but you would have to pay for the privilege, and you wouldn't be eligible for any legal aid. Reasons for appeal are limited, and unlike in a trial, the onus would not be on rights holders to prove your guilt: you would be responsible for proving your innocence.

This will be voted upon in the very near future by your MP, and we need to ensure that the Bill is properly debated, and that all MPs know how dangerous it is to individuals and small businesses. If we don't ensure that it is properly scrutinised, the Bill could pass and have severe effects on the freedom and rights of innocent people, educational establishments and small businesses alike.

You may also want to read this.

The provisions of  the Digital Economy Bill seem to me pretty draconian. Furthermore, there appears to be no way that the Bill will stop those who really want to dowload copyrighted material, as the French experience suggests. It just seems to be a rather late in the day attempt by the mainstream music industry, fronted by Simon Cowell, (who was only able to make Susan Boyle a worldwide star through people surreptiously downloading her performances on Britain's Got Talent and sticking them on YouTube!) to save itself from the same place Betamax videos went. This anti-piracy campaign seems to me to have strong echoes of the 1980s music industry campaign:
To which there is an obvious reply, popularised by Alternative Tentacles Records:

The last thing I have to say about the music industry is that it seems to justify all its actions by the need to protect its artists, particularly new and struggling ones. However, Sony does not seem to care much about one of its top artistes, namely Beyonce Knowles, does it?

Perhaps Beyonce should record with Alternative Tentacles...

Important as music is, there is other stuff going on the Net to worry about. For instance, there is the US Government war on Wikileaks, which keeps revealing stuff which is pretty embarrassing to the powers-that-be in the US.

There is also the use of the internet to fight 'The War Against Terror', or whatever phrase the Obama Adminstration is giving it at the moment. Much of it may be justifiable (I for one do not want to see London suffer another day like July 7th 2005) but everyone should acknowledge the murky side to intelligence wars.

There is also the extremely murky Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. Glorified talking shop it may be, but at least the European Parliament has voted 636-10 against ACTA (the European Commission- surprise surprise- supports ACTA), 'arguing that it flouts agreed EU laws on counterfeiting and piracy online. MEPs will go to the Court of Justice if the EU does not reject the leaked proposals which include draconian powers to censor the internet and disconnect net connections.'  The 10 MEPs to vote for ACTA were all UKIP ones, just for the record.

Finally, back to Blighty, where good old snail mail may soon be intercepted by tax inspectors. I balk at Henry Porter's use of the phrase 'Stasi' to describe this move. Like David Mitchell, I try hard not to compare anything happening in the West these days to what happened in Nazi Germany and the former Eastern Bloc. However, giving these proposed powers to the HMRC, which I doubt will be a major issue in the coming General Election campaign, should be something people are very much aware of.

Anyway, I will leave it there. I will try start blogging about the General Election campaign tomorrow (if it is called tomorrow) and will at least try to update you on the progress or not (touch wood) of the Digital Economy Bill.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

While waiting for the Main Event to kick off...

...a few bits and pieces.

The current Private Eye (No 1259, 2-15 April 2010, p.5) has its usual  'Number Crunching' piece:

2% increase in number of qualified nurses working for NHS in England last year
6% increase in number of consultant doctors working for NHS in England last year
12% increase in numbers of managers working for NHS in England last year

This echoes figures I saw earlier in the week concerning recruitment trends in Higher Education:

...figures obtained from the Higher Education Statistics that in the UK higher education sector in 2003-04, there were 10,740 managers, while in 2008-09, this had grown to 14,250, an increase of 33%.During that time the number of academics increased by 10% from 106,900 to 116,495 while the total number of students rose by 9% from 2,200,180 to 2,396,055.
I hope all those extra managers has made us all healthier and more educated in recent years.

For those, such as me, who like a bit of intelligent bank bashing, you may enjoy the thoughts of Simon Jenkins and Larry Elliott. Mr. Elliott also takes issue with the idea that we are living through a 'Spring of Discontent' of industrial action equivalent to the 'Winter of Discontent' of 1978-9 which proceeded the Conservatives' 1979 General Election victory. To put it crudely, it is like comparing a hurricane to a fart. He also says that we have already had a recent 'Winter of Discontent', which saw (that hackneyed media cliche) 'bully-boy rule':

...we had the winter of discontent for finance, in which the bankers downed tools and withdrew their capital. Nothing moved in the credit markets. Governments were held to ransom by the strikers and eventually capitulated. In the autumn of 2008, when it seemed no western bank was safe, there was a huge injection of public money to recapitalise those who had proved to be self-seeking and incompetent.
...the banks were rewarded for their failures with loan guarantees, unlimited borrowing at 0% interest and an opportunity to offload their toxic assets. The upshot has been a rapid return to profitability in the financial sector, which has given the banks the opportunity to pay lavish (and undeserved) bonuses. Whingeing in the City about Alistair Darling's one-off bonus tax adds insult to injury.

Let's hope rational, intelligent discussion on the growth of public sector managers and the baleful influence of the City of London will take place duruing the forthcoming General Election campaign. Then again...

I hope to knock out one post on the Net and related stuff in the next couple of days. Then it should be Show Time ad nauseum...

Friday, 2 April 2010

US Politics- Bits and Pieces

'Saying we should keep the two-party system simply because it is working is like saying the Titanic voyage was a success because a few people survived on life-rafts.'- Eugene McCarthy.  

Wonder where Obama got his healthcare ideas from? Perhaps he dusted down some old ideas from the Republicans.

Obama 'socialist' healthcare plans? Tell that to the Socialist Party of the USA.

After praising him a blogpost or two back, I'm not very happy with Dennis Kucinich going along with Obama's healthcare plans, after saying he would not support the Bill if there was no public option. There is some cynicism out there about his actions, especially as prior to that he suffered a fair bit of criticism from the 'My Obama, Right or Wrong' Brigade. However, there definitely seems to be a strategic gameplan by Obama and those around him to rally support on this and other issues by arguing that, however bad things get, it would be worse if the Republicans win. Anyone over here who has experienced the argument that 'support Labour or the Tories win' will be familiar with this tactic/emotional blackmail. David Sirota discusses it at length, with the comment that most resonates with me being:

Democrats tell their base that any bill is better than no bill, even one making things worse, and that if this particular legislation doesn’t pass, Republicans will win the upcoming election -- as if signing a blank check to insurance and drug companies couldn’t seal that fate.

Replace 'Democrats' with 'Labour' and 'Republicans' with 'Conservatives' and you have got the gist of most 'debate' on 'the Left' in Britain for more years than I care to remember.

'Do you know what would happen if we pigs failed in our duty? Jones would come back! Surely, comrades', cried Squealer almost pleadingly, skipping from side to side and whisking his tail, 'surely there is no one among you who wants to see Jones come back.' (George Orwell, Animal Farm)

It appears that Obama's Chief of Staff  Rahm Emmanuel has written off the  Democrats' chances in this Autumn's Congressional Elections, in a clear echo of his attitude to the 1994 ones. Then it will be a return by Obama towards 'triangulation' and 'the centre', which would surely be euphemisms to oversee letting off the banks from more regulation and giving over the social security system to corporate interests. There might also be a revival of Sarah Palin's 2008 policy/slogan 'Drill, Baby, Drill' when it comes to offshore gas and oil drilling. The Republicans say they may oppose such plans. So It Goes...

One wonders what all this will do to all those people, particularly young/first-time voters, who gave an Obama a chance in November 2008. I guess a lot will stay at home in 2012 and in even greater numbers this November, with extra added cynicism towards politics to boot. As a goddam Limey it is not my business to tell people in the US what to do, but if I was a US Citizen (ie if I lived in a political Brodingnag as opposed to a Lilliput) and basically had the same political outlook as I have now here on Airstrip One, I think I would try and seek out decent people on the US Right. Not the idiots obsessed with Obama's skin colour, his supposed foreign origins, Muslimness and Marxist tendencies (Marxist AND Muslim? So which side would he have been on during the war in Afghanistan in the 1980s? Asking that may confuse the average Tea Party type), but those opposed to the wars (whether ongoing ie Afghanistan, the ones that might flare up again ie Iraq? and those yet to come ie Iran? North Korea? Etc, etc...?), the curtailing of civil liberties, the bail-outs helping big business and the banks etc etc.

 Wear this T-shirt and I'll buy you a drink! Which Lefty cannot agree with this Ron Paul-endorsed slogan? Why didn't 'our' side think of it first?

It seems pretty clear Obama and his cronies sees no place in the Democrat Party for those who consider themselves 'progressive', but they still want your support in Congress and at election time. Why not call their bluff? Do something else politically. It will be better and more rewarding for you in terms of your time, intellectual education, personal integrity and bank balance! Do you want to spend the next two years and seven months, more or less, repeating whatever updates to 'Yes We Can' and 'Change We Can We Believe in' the White House comes out with to your friends, neighbours and peers?

 'Goldman Sachs Bankers, Join The Queue...'

If you've had enough of a slogan ripped off from 'Bob the Builder' and all that entails politically you may want to peruse these:

Glenn Greenwald, whose 'we are not worthy' blog is at Salon, talks to Radio;

If you wonder how on earth the likes of  Bill O'Reilly, Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh stay so popular, this is for you; and...

Naomi Wolf talks US politics here.

Who would be for a Greenwald/Wolf versus Ventura/Paul contest for the 2012 US Presidential Election?

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

General Election Time Is Almost Upon Us. Can I Get Excited...?

The 1640s: the birth of negative campaigning in British Politics

I'm getting a fair bit of political leafletting and mail shots at the moment. Mainly from the Tories and the Lib Dems. The Glibs say they can win here (Hampstead and Kilburn), although I gather in every seat in the country their propaganda claims they 'can win here.' I have a feeling a lot of the Lib Dem stuff is to motivate people to vote in the Camden Council elections which will also be on May 6th. Camden is currently run by a Con-Lib Dem coalition, with the three councillors in the ward where I am all Lib Dems. So all this stuff is not so much to get a Lib Dem here into Parliament as to prop up Lib Dem support for the Council Elections.

I'm going to try and force myself to post something every day once the General Election campaign starts, which most informed and (uninformed) opinion says will begin next week with Gordon Brown going to Bucks House to secure Mrs Windsor's dissolution of Parliament. I'll try and discuss anything that I find interesting and/or catches my eye, or at the very least make sure you know about it. This is supposed to be the first 'Internet General Election' in British history (although they said that about the '97, '01 and '05 ones as well, I seem to recall), so I will do my best to get a handle on how it is all going.

I will get another couple of posts up in the next few days (internet/media and US politics will be their general theme) before the big hoo-haa begins. Just to whet your appetite for the Big One, I've taken a few images from the superb Bo Beau D'Or blog, who like a lot of people, does not want the Tories to win, but is not too enamoured with Labour either (as opposed to people who do not want Labour to win, but are not too enamoured with the Tories either!).

Yes, the Tories are bringing back Maurice and Charles Saatchi to oversee most of their General Election advertising campaign, while Saatchi & Saatchi (which Charles and Maurice left back in '95 to form M&C Saatchi, which came up with the Tony Blair 'Demon Eyes' poster which led to the crushing Conservative landslide victory in 97...) oversee Labour's ad account. Whoever said the business/media/political world is incestuous eh? Furthermore, I wonder if  M&C's campaign are less open to ridicule than other Conservative advertising campaigns so far this year? (Hat-tip:


I'll leave the General Election there for the moment. There'll be a lot more where that's coming from in the next few weeks (I can see you flicking travel websites as I type, looking for cheap flights out the country...). I suppose we should just be glad this Parliament is almost at an end. To quote a phrase someone from around 360 years back, what we are left with for the next few days is 'this fag end, this veritable Rump of a Parliament with corrupt maggots in it' (Trevor Royle [2005] Civil War: The Wars of the Three Kingdoms 1638-1660, Abacus, p.485).

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Anyone out there want to mutually link?

Leave a message in the comments section, if you are not already on my list of websites, blogs etc, and we'll take it from there!

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Something Rotten In The State Of Denmark?

'Alas poor Thomas Jefferson! I knew him well, Horatio.'
'I thought we would find him spinning 100mph in his grave, my Lord...'

Some thoughts on where Obama and the Democrats are (less than eight months from a serious drubbing in the 2010 mid-term Congressional elections would be a pithy answer) from Limey expats Andrew Stephen and Alex Cockburn.

Glenn Greenwald goes for the Democrats messing around in Congress over healthcare 'reform'. I am reminded of this.

I have also come across an interesting rant (Hat-tip: Brad S!) from Charlie Davis about 'My Democratic Party/Obama, Right or Wrong' brigade. Somewhere in the back of my mind a good old rant is brewing about the same situation here on Airstrip One, where whatever faecal matter is dropped on people from a great height by the Labour Party, people on the 'Left' are told 'Vote Labour, or the Tories will get back in'....Suffice to say for the moment, politics should not be treated as a sports match. Of course, the same processes take place on the 'Right', where the 'Tea Party' movement is rapidly being brought under the wings of the Republican Party; a situation Libertarian Thomas Knapp discusses. BTW, there is something about the aesthetics of Tea Party movement that intrigues me. I am not an expert on the American Revolution/War of Independence, but I do know the Boston Tea Party was a major incident in the run up to the conflict starting. I also know that many of the protestors in 1773 dressed up as Red Indians/Native Americans/First Nations warriors, as the picture below illustrates:

However, in last year's Tea Party protests and marches not many participants seem to dress in Native American garb, although a fair few dressed up as members of George Washington's Continental Army.

Are there no Village People fans in the States opposed to Obama, 'socialist' healthcare systems and taxes?

 Which one is Joe The Plumber?

However, I feel there is some hope on the US political scene, while I can see little at the moment on the English/British political  landscape (I am willing to be persuaded...!). One reason is that there are interesting political figures outside the Far Centre and Raving Right there, who have something substantial to say. Dennis Kucinich, Ron Paul and Jesse Ventura come to mind. I am well aware leaders can betray, and all heroes have feet of clay, but when was the last time a British political figure said anything that made you sit up and think?

Dennis Kucinich in Congress on Afghanistan.

Ron Paul in Congress on Afghanistan. He might be a social conservative/reactionary, but he's bang on the money about the American Empire.

Ron Paul with Rachel Maddow. If the battle for the soul of the Republican Party is to be fought between Ron Paul and Sarah Palin, there's no doubt who I'll be rooting for!

Jesse Ventura with Larry King. Anyone who sees through that loudmouth pseudo-populist fraud Rush Limbaugh is okay with me. See here for more evidence of Rush's hypocritical healthcare tourism. (hat-tip: Steve Cooke- some of you might like his music!). Mr. Ventura is also the man who said: 'you give me a water board, Dick Cheney and one hour, and I'll have him confess to the Sharon Tate murders.'

Anyway, I'll leave it there. I suppose next time I post I may well have to discuss the forthcoming General Election here. Oh joy of joys...