Saturday, 28 February 2015

CAGE group Asim Qureshi is a lying dog

The shaven head and unkempt beard should have been a clue, but when gullible TV allowed Islamist Asim Qureshi of Jihadist group CAGE to describe Jihadi John as 'gentle' and 'beautiful' I couldn't quite believe the stupidity of TV producers. "You lying Islamist Dog!" I barked at the TV, in reaction to what was so obviously self-serving and exculpatory bollocks from a man who had aided Queens Park Mohammed in his bread-knife career.

Today of course the papers are full of Qureshi's Islamism and incitement to disaffection - what used to be termed Sedition in this realm. And also of stories of how stupid, gullible, naive and jejune agencies have poured buckets of gold into CAGE and similar fronts for Islamism. £305k from Joseph Rowntree. £120k from Anita Roddick. And it's surely just bad luck that the Islamists didn't also get half a mill from the Home Office.

This is personal - a quarter of Britain's 3m Moslems think it's OK for them to cut my head off for including a happy, chuckling Hebdo cartoon Mohammed in this blog's header. So until the buggers agree to fly a Union flag on every mosque and forswear every hint of Sedition, you'll forgive me for being suspicious of them all. And as my view - and words - on Asim Qureshi proved entirely justified, perhaps I'm not so easily taken in by liars as others.  

Friday, 27 February 2015

Keeping Labour on the back foot

As C@W posted yesterday, Devo-Manc is a superb tactic from Osborne to wrong-foot Labour. The tenet at the core of Labour's existence is central Statism; command and control of the nation from Westminster and Whitehall, with metropolitan micro-management of every aspect of the economy to achieve an enforced equality of outcome across the nation. Oh how they hate any devolution of power! Labour can never, ever, be a party of Localism; the idea is antithetical to the party's very being. It will lose them every seat they have in Scotland, and as Osborne is finding, can make deep inroads into the Labour vote in the North. George, with his new haircut, is shedding the haunted look of a furtive Onanist and is growing into a Mandelson. 

But, Scotland apart, don't mistake Osborne's moves for Localism. Devolving Spend without also devolving Tax isn't worth a pitcher of warm spit. The powers of England's Cantons to set, collect and spend at least half the tax burden are yet distant; 95% of UK taxes are still determined and collected centrally, only 5% of Council Tax, capped centrally, is set locally. In Switzerland, the central government only levies about a third of total taxation; the other two-thirds is charged by the Cantons and municipalities. So a target of 50% in the UK is really quite conservative. And is nowhere in Osborne's plans.    

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Cleaning the BBC's Augean stables

I wonder how the BBC will report today the recommendations by MPs that are to be published in the Commons? No doubt there have already been a whole series of top level editorial meetings and the agreed editorial line has been issued to all news managers. However, if the take of the MSM on the expected recommendations is correct, the reporting will focus on the decriminalisation of non-payment of the licence fee and the abolition of the Trust model invented in 2007. 

However, the devil may be in the unglamorous detail. Making major inroads into BBC secrecy by allowing in the daylight of the National Audit Office to the BBC's books is something the organisation has long fought. But the BBC spends £4bn a year of tax - yes, the TV licence is a tax - and taxpayers must have answer for its stewardship. Combined with FOI, this will help stamp out the horrendous financial abuses, the waste, privilege and squander of this bloated bureaucracy. 

And secondly, the expected requirement for the BBC to 'port' portions of the TV tax to independent local newspapers across the country may be the start of something interesting. As a Localist, I welcome any devolution of tax and spend from the metropolitan centre to the counties and towns of England, allowing a multiplicity of local voices to speak and be heard. The next step may be, in this multi-platform media age, the handing over of airtime to editorially independent sources. Interesting. 

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Paying MPs more will only encourage their greed

If you extend the arguments being made by supporters of increasing the wedge paid to MPs, you must believe that burglers burgle because their welfare benefits are not high enough, and that to stop them robbing our houses we must fill their mouths with gold. Claims by MPs to 'Pay us more or we'll keep thieving' are outrageous and should never be considered.

The answer to thieving, bent and crooked MPs isn't to pay them more; this will only attract even more greedy, self-serving, amoral narcissists in search of a comfy berth with no heavy lifting and the opportunity for some freelance crookedness. As it happens, I believe the current base of between £60,000 - £70,000 is about right - and that this should only rise in line with the nation's average earnings increases. 

However, discouraging both the sense of entitlement that MPs have, and their attraction to lobbyists, will require a constitutional change. We must go back to the demands of the Chartists in 1838 and Item 6 of the Charter - the only article left unfulfilled. This called for
(6) Annual Parliament Elections, thus presenting the most effectual check to bribery and intimidation, since as the constituency might be bought once in seven years (even with the ballot), no purse could buy a constituency (under a system of universal suffrage) in each ensuing twelvemonth; and since members, when elected for a year only, would not be able to defy and betray their constituents as now.
I don't believe that annual elections are still the best answer. Whilst what Lutfur Rahman did in Tower Hamlets to buy the Mayorality - bribery and imtimidation - was once widespread for Parliamentary elections, it is now a danger now largely confined only to Pakistani constituencies. And an effective power of recall if MPs 'defy and betray' their constituents should deal with the other leg of the problem. 

Whatever remedy we find must allow men and women of true probity, selflessness and with a total commitment to the public good to fill Parliament and deter the disgraceful bent old wrecks such as Rifkind and Straw from infesting like lice the heart of our democracy. 

Monday, 23 February 2015

Bent Bastards

"I charge £5,000 a day. That's my going rate"
"Of course I'm abusing a position of trust - that's what I'm selling. I've got credibility"
"Look, I can get you access to serving government ministers - a quiet lunch in Pimlico"
"Just pay me and tell me what you want me to do"
"My MP's salary is just a sort of retainer - being an MP doesn't create any sort of time obligation"
"If you want to influence legislation, the going rate is much higher. We need to square the committee."
"Ha ha no there are limits .... I wouldn't kill someone for example"
"Yep £1,500 an hour - paid into my Lichtenstein HSBC account"
"I know just about everyone in government who matters - my reach is very long"
"No, I've no particular objection to that ... after all, he was cleared of the last charges, wasn't he?"

Saturday, 21 February 2015

NATO Cyberprop unit sends first Tweet

In an effort to counter Russia's use of social media, the special NATO unit set up to broadcast counter-propaganda through the interweb issued its first Tweet today:-

FROM: SACEUR/SHAPE/SEECP-HQ-DIV-A34/SECAN COMPLIANT REF 14B45/VIA SATCOM GEM 'B' 340HZ BAND II/ ***UNCLASSIFIED*** QUOTE "NATO Commander, Gene

Maybe they'll improve with time.  

(NB Label - 'whimsy')

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Party Funding from tax on the agenda again

The political class is locked into a Groundhog Day scenario with regard to proposals for the tax funding of political parties; a report is commissioned from members of the political class, the report recommends measures which are agreeable to the political class, but the government in power at the time realises such moves will be unacceptable to voters. Forward to the next cycle. Of course they try to disguise it by calling it 'Public funding' or 'State funding' but as the State has no funds except those raised from taxation or from borrowing - which is future taxation - what they mean is party funding from taxes. 

The two most recent reports, from establishment insiders Hayden Phillips and Christopher Kelly, were shelved not on account of the funding cap measures they proposed but on account of the substitute tax funding proposed. And the reason why both proposals were so monstrously unacceptable is that both started from the same standpoint; that the the established, incumbent political parties should assume a more constitutional role by entrenched funding, which also acted to exclude incomers and new parties, and thereby produced a stable continuum for the existing political class at a time when party membership in the UK has fallen way below 1% of the voting population. To this extent both reports were inherently corrupt; they institutionalised advantage and incumbency in favour of Labour, the Conservatives and the Lib Dems.

What is more heinous, both reports completely disregarded the belief strongly held  by a very substantial number of voters that these 'private' parties should receive no tax funding at all. They rode roughshod over the clear wishes of voters who want to vote but don't want their vote misused to fill the mouths of metropolitan politicians with tax gold. 

Phillips and Kelly both also wilfully ignored a solution mooted by Helena Kennedy's Power Inquiry - that voters should have the choice, at polling time, to agree in their own name only a tax donation of say £3 a year to a party of their choice, or not, and if so not necessarily to the party for which they were voting. This would allow objectors to tax funding to withhold any tax subvention in their name (on the basis of their vote) and allow tactical voters to fund their party of true allegiance. 

Kelly dismissed the requirement for an additional voting slip as 'too complex'. Compared I suppose to last May's elections in London when we went into the polling booths with three different papers, one a yard long. And managed to get them right. The real reason of course has more to do with the fears of the established parties that voters will choose not to fund them from tax, or choose to fund insurgent parties instead. Well, that's quite possible. It's called democracy. 

The other problem with the Phillips and Kelly proposals is that both would throw a tsunami of cash at the central, metropolitan party Headquarters - the very bodies so alienated from constituency voters and local parties, the HQs responsible for the apparatchiks, blow-ins and family members of their own that have been so unwillingly imposed on constituencies. The schism in Labour between the Scots party and the English party is not healed, and why should it be? So why should not any tax funding be paid to local or regional parties in the first instance and leave it up to the local members to make a subvention for national initiatives to the national party? 

This is the problem. For as long as tax-funding proposals are seen to favour the stale, old, central parties - the ones that voters have grown out-of - they will not be acceptable. For the stale, old, central parties to agree truly democratic tax funding proposals means risking their own existence. So no action. Groundhog Day. 

The Electoral Reform Society are the latest body to give the dog a poke, with the publication today of 'Deal or No Deal - How to put an end to party funding scandals'. Except it avoids the solution. There is wide agreement that existing funding methods are corrupt and that funding caps are needed, and the ERS reinforces that. However, it neatly avoids any discussion of the details of any replacement funding system, and repeats the cardinal error of assuming that we need tax-funded parties on a scale equivalent to other Euro countries - this itself is worth a paper. 

Watch this subject; the price of democratic freedom is always eternal vigilance.