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Friday, 23 November 2007

Three questions I would love the answers to:

1. Does the Labour Party have a deposit account with Northern Rock?
2. When the crisis broke, how much was on deposit there?
3. Have the funds since been withdrawn?
Brown has ALWAYS shown contempt for our armed forces

I wish I had some record of the private sneer that must have crossed Brown's face during events marking the 25th anniversary of the Falklands. On remembrance Sunday, the only sour and offensive note of the day was Brown laying his wreath, his face oiled with insincerity, resentful that the nation's war dead were the centre of our attention. His contempt for and indifference to the welfare of our armed services is offensive beyond measure.

The reason is clear; Brown wants to destroy all intermediate institutions in British society. The family, community institutions, the services - all have claims to authority that compete with Brown's Central State and its drive to form a direct relationship with every single citizen. They are obstacles that he must destroy.

The lads in the army, of course, are not dumb. They managed to get him to autograph an AFV 'Cyclops' on his pre-bottling publicity stunt trip to Iraq. And with glorious unconcern for Brown's 'Britishness' agenda they cheerfully refer to the Scots as 'porridge wogs', whilst their loyalty and readiness to defend to the death any fellow soldier of whatever British nationality puts Brown's insincere and fatuous nationalism to deep shame.

For five of Britain's most senior war lords - Lords Boyce, Brammel, Inge, Guthrie and Craig - to condemn Brown in such ringing terms for his contempt for the armed forces is completely new territory for British democracy. Brown has broken the conventions, shattered the compact, and must expect these white-haired old warriors to do the same. Fair dos.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Turkeys vote for Christmas

At 9 a.m. this morning the Metropolitan Police Authority will convene an extraordinary meeting to discuss the outcome of the Health and Safety case over the execution of Mr de Menezes. The Press Association have flagged that they expect dissenting members to push for a vote of no confidence in Sir Ian Blair.

How convenient for Sir Ian. My own guess is that if Len Duvall allows such a vote, it will be in the expectation of Sir Ian's supporters winning it; if all 23 members of the MPA attend, my guess is that it would be something like 14-9 in favour.

As Blair is scheduled to appear himself before the Authority a little later, it would be extraordinary indeed if there was any serious expectation of his not receiving a vote of confidence from the MPA.

Perhaps of more interest to Londoners are the other items the MPA will consider this morning; £6m of fraud by Met plods on American Express cards, approval of new Tasers for the lads to wake-up diabetic coma victims with (or kill Polish migrant workers), and a report on the cash for honours whitewash investigation.

A report on Taser roll-out can be found HERE. Eagle eyed-readers may notice that a new acronym has found its way into the lexicon of Political Correctness. As this blog pointed out some months ago, BAME is the new 'in' term for ethnic minorities, and anyone caught using the old PC term BME will be marked as an antediluvian racist. Now we learn that VEM (Visible Ethnic Minorities) is the new, er, black.

Londoners will be assured that they can now be Tasered by any one of 733.86 plods, no doubt soon to be joined by the rest of the 'service' and gung-ho PCSOs. I'd stay in and get pissed, if I were you.

Update 14.00

No-confidence vote result announced: 15 - 7, with 1 abstention. Told ya.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Sovietisation of the public sector isn't working

British bureaucracies had many failings. They were expensive, slow to change, inefficient, slow adopters of new technologies and methods of workings. On the plus side they were stable, professional and had a high degree of probity embedded. Hierarchies were well defined, there were a finite number of evenly-spaced steps between the lowest clerical post and the office of the most senior mandarins. The pay of those at the top was probably not more than four or five times the pay of those at the bottom. A secure pension, and a bit of Royal bling were the accepted rewards for a career of service; MBEs and OBEs for the lower grades, CBEs and KBEs for those at the top.

It was the job of politicians to keep this behemoth under control, and curb its natural tendency to expand indefinitely. Shrinking the State meant a uniform contraction of the entire hierarchies, and a surrender of powers and functions.

But how to implement reform for a government that wanted both to have its cake and eat it? A government that wanted to expand the control and reach of the Central State, but wanted to do it on the cheap?

The adopted solution has been twofold; the growth of scores of quangos 'off the books' that exercise statutory powers but without accountability, and the adoption of the commercial models of the 1980s and 1990s, backed by vast and inefficient Information Technology (IT) systems.

Bureaucratic structures have become Sovietised, with a small number of very highly paid mandarins at the top table, enjoying bonuses and rewards at the same rates of those at the helm of successful plcs, and, beyond a huge rewards gulf, a mass of unmotivated, poorly paid workers who man the call centres, press the buttons and staff the Customer Relationship Management Systems. Contract workers, temporary staff, with no pensions entitlements for new entrants, no career structures. The hierarchies have been demolished. Those at the top table can now earn ten or fifteen times the pay of the lowest workers - and still enjoy multi-million pound pension pots and the ego-stroking of a bit of Royal bling.

With these reforms, the professionalism and the probity that the public expected of its State structures has also disappeared.

The Soviet model is not confined to the civil service. The NHS and local government have already adopted it. Chief executives of health trusts and local councils now trouser £200k a year or more, with all the perks and bonuses that go with it, whilst unmotivated contract workers on minimum wage man the switchboards, empty the bins or drag a filthy mop across a filthy ward.

The merger of the Inland Revenue and Customs and Excise is a textbook case. Some lowly paid data geek in the outer doughnut screwed up, whilst those at the top table, completely isolated from the working of their department, totted up the performance targets they've met this year and the size of their bonuses.

For this government to distance itself from responsibility for this failure is disingenuous. New Labour has been responsible more than any other other administration for this Sovietisation of British public services, and Gordon Brown, a Central Statist control freak of the most utter ruthlessness, has driven this for more than ten years.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

An incapacity to reform

Hain's risible plans to 'reform' incapacity benefit carry all the hallmarks of an ineffective government in terminal decline. This holy grail of welfare dependency, the target of every long-term claimant, will remain utterly unchanged. The 50,000 plonkies on the roll will continue to claim £85m a year to keep them in booze, the 2,000 fat bastards on the register will continue to claim their £4.4m to keep them in lard, sugar and trans-fats and the skiving sod with a fungal infection of the fingernails will continue to shed unwashed body flakes in return for my tax.

About the only ones with a real incapacity are the Minister and his civil servants - they're utterly, terminally useless and unfit even to flip burgers for the fat bastards.
Brown's admission of failure

When prime ministers realise they're failing at every major policy objective they set themselves, they hunger for just one small success. With John Major it was motorway cones. Brown, having failed in health, in education, in immigration, in welfare reform, in constitutional probity, in foreign affairs, in defence, in Europe and in crime is now in a state of desperation to find just one, tiny, easy policy area in which he can succeed. He's chosen plastic bags.

Ten years on the sidelines and we finally know what Brown's Big Vision is; it is the people of Britain carrying little string shopping bags around.