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Saturday, 1 December 2007

Pity Gordon Brown. There's nowhere to turn.

On a human level, watching the pain and humiliation on Brown's face as he faced the jeers and taunts in the Commons at question time this week, as blow after blow landed squarely, was not a pleasant experience.

I have little doubt that Brown is personally 'clean' of any funding sleaze. That he is mendacious and disingenuous is par for the course for anyone who has spent their entire life in politics, but for Gordon it doesn't follow that he's also personally corrupt. Unlike Blair, whose obsession with money and with the wealthy made him a figure of satire and ridicule, Brown will leave office with little more than his pension and a dribble of royalties from his sad little books.

Brown has done nothing but eat, sleep and breathe politics since he was 15 years old. He has deluded himself for an entire lifetime that he was fitted for the highest office of state. The agony of realisation must now be crowding in - that he really isn't up to the job, that his intellect isn't first-rate, that his personal flaws make him unfitted for a job at the helm of the ship of state.

For the first time I am beginning to feel a genuine pity for the man. However, he will play this one out to the last panzergrenadier; the tanks will almost have reached Horse Guards before he calls it a day. He will be hounded from office rather than leaving with a shred of dignity intact. And the sadness of the thing is that he's got nowhere to go; this was his life, all the seconds of all the hours he's lived since a teenager. He doesn't fish, or farm, or sail, or play cricket. His writing is as gauche and facile as a sixth-former's, and won't earn him a reputation. His legacy will be one of failure; economic, policy and leadership, and his place in British politics will be as an example of self-delusion and the dangers of hubris. Poor Gordon.

Friday, 30 November 2007

No, we won't stand for it

On 23rd October AC John Yates QPM appeared before the Commons Public Administration Select Committee. The public was treated to the sight of snortling Bunteresque MPs reacting with incredulity to the suggestion that there was anything really wrong with selling peerages for political donations; they made it clear that MPs have a very different standard of propriety than that which applies to the rest of us. Yates replied
Mr Flynn, when I joined this organisation I took an oath as an officer of the Crown and there are four guiding principles behind that oath. It is fairness, it is integrity, it is diligence and it is impartiality, and that is the touchstone that I used throughout this investigation, those four key issues.
It was a lesson the public hasn't forgotten. Mr Flynn was crowing too soon, it now emerges. No one is above the law. Scotland Yard will once again trawl through the sleazy mess of Labour's funding - but this time the public expects to see charges brought and figures in the dock. Perhaps even Brown himself.

Thursday, 29 November 2007

What will Roy Kennedy have to say?

Roy Kennedy was in post as the Labour Party's Director of Finance and Compliance at the time 'dirty money' payments were being knowingly accepted. No doubt Inspector Knacker will have some apposite questions to put to him.

Dromey will no doubt be relying on the fact that as Party Treasurer he had no legal duty in relation to ensuring compliance with the PP,E&R Act - that duty seems to have been down to Watt alone.

And the Labour Party's auditors also make very clear that their job is just to make sure the numbers add up, not any other duty under the PP,E&R Act. I shall be keeping an eye out for anything Kennedy has to say.
'Telegraph' photo a clue to press enquiries

Newspapers have, over the years, evolved a useful code that allows the brighter reader to see the way a story is developing. For example, when, next to a column headed 'Unnamed Premiership footballer in rape allegation' they print a photo captioned 'Hans Potato, taking a break from the midfield, opens a supermarket in Glossop yesterday', you can be pretty sure that Herr Potato is the footballer in question.

So when the 'Telegraph' runs a story questioning David Abraham's personal wealth and speculating on whether the 'dirty money' that Labour took came from an outside source, and illustrates it with a picture captioned 'David Abrahams (right) shakes hands with the former Israeli ambassador Zvi Hefeitz at a London party last year', you can be pretty certain of the direction in which the hacks' enquiries are turning.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Blinking nerve

Hat tip to a couple of eagle-eyed boaters who spotted Harriet Harman's blink rate in her interview with BBC News 24 - VIDEO HERE.

The normal blink rate for a human is about 20 times a minute. I counted Harriet at 126.

Opinion on the meaning of rapid blinking is divided. Some say it signals stress, anxiety or untruthfulness. Others that it signals arrogance; it blocks vision, and says 'I'm so important I don't need to see you'.

Bill Clinton reached 117 during the 1996 televised debate when he was asked about drug use.
It's not over yet - 'Abrahams' is the key.

Brown may well have hoped his rapid admission of guilt yesterday, combined with the almost supersonic resignation of Peter Watts, would lead to the press forgetting this affair by the weekend. Fat chance.

It now emerges that David Abrahams, who is also known as David Martin, aged either 53 or 63, has something of a history with Labour. He invented a wife and children when he applied for selection as a Labour candidate; he was active in Labour Friends of Israel, but was forced to leave under some sort of cloud. He was, as Stephen Pollard notes on the Spectator site, a pushy and self-aggrandising attender at Labour events, keen to forge links with the party mandarins, and thus well-known to those who are now seeking to distance themselves from contagion. There is also the matter of the curious planning decision, and the source of Mr Abraham's / Martin's wealth.

Keep digging, folks. The Sundays should make a good read this week.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Political parties must stand on their own feet

Barely 1.4% of the electorate are members of one of the three main political parties. 98.6% of the electorate have chosen not to join these private clubs; that doesn't mean to say they don't join other private clubs that represent their interests. The last published figure for membership of the Labour party was 182,000 - down almost 20,000 on the year before. When you exclude those more than six months in arrears with their memberships, I doubt the party has more than 150,000 voting members. Compare this to the membership of some of our more popular national clubs:-

National Trust - 3,500,000
Royal Horticultural Society - 370,000
Women's Institute - 215,000
Labour Party - 150,000
Royal Yachting Association - 103,000
RSPCA - 31,000

The whole business of high value donations, those over £50,000, is mired in sleaze. The Trade Unions are dying a death, and will not continue to provide a life-line for Labour. Labour will now be desperate to get their grimy, finger-chewed mitts on tax payers' cash. This must be resisted at all costs.

If the Labour Party has come to the end of its natural life, let it die in peace. The House would be a far better place with a new influx of independent MPs sponsored by the National Trust, the RHS and the RYA.
Does Jack Straw feel the stirrings of '68 over again?

I've been unable to find an online copy of the iconic image with this post - some of you may recall it was taken at the anti-Vietnam war demonstration outside the US embassy in London in 1968. It appears on the cover of an ancient (well, 1971) book by Margaret-Anne Rooke entitled 'Anarchy and Apathy - Student Unrest 1968-1970'. One of the leaders of the student unrest of the time, of course, was none other than Jack Straw. I wonder if Jack Straw feels that his life is going backwards.

The Labour Party probably has no more than 150,000 voting members today - a tiny, almost insignificant members' club. Jack himself was elected president of the National Union of Students in 1968, with around 400,000 members - and used it to his advantage. On 20th May 1969 Straw claimed that student union presidents, elected by up to 70% of their students, had more right to act in the names of their unions than local councillors elected on a 25% poll had to act in the names of their boroughs and counties. I wonder what he'd say now?

Then, as now, the Paris suburbs erupted in riot and flame and protesters battled around the Oxbridge quads. Then it was Enoch Powell, not David Irving, that the students were attempting to silence. "Mr Powell", Rooke notes, "was protected by 25 rugby players on his way to the debate".

The events of 1968, and the experiences of some of those now in government such as Jack Straw, have undeniably shaped the Britain we have today. Everything comes around, as they say. There are those who scent the fires of '68 in the air for '08. I wonder if they have a point?

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Ignorance and primitive superstition in New Labour's Britain

When Mervyn Griffith-Jones, appearing for the Crown in the 1960 'Lady Chatterley' obscenity trial, asked "Is this the kind of book you would wish your wife or servants to read?" it was taken as an example of the degree to which the Establishment was disconnected from the reality of modern British society.

The modern Establishment may know what an iPod is, and may even choose a White Stripes track for Desert Island Discs (as did Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller). They will understand obscure literary allusions, and be passionate in their defence of free speech and open debate in a post-censorship society, proud of having sprung from the struggle by Kenneth Tynan to present the country with full-frontal stage nudity and oust the interference of the Lord Chamberlain from the Thespian arena.

Yet our modern Establishment may be as disconnected from the reality of some sections of society as was the unfortunate Mr Griffith-Jones.

Jade Goody is perhaps not untypical in believing that 'East Angular' is somewhere abroad, or that Saddam Hussein was a boxer. The truly dismal comprehensives, combined with Labour's multicultural apartheid, have produced two whole generations of British-born citizens imbued with a deep ignorance and primitive superstition. Thus polls from time to time tell us that 70% of young British Muslims believe that the destruction of the Twin Towers was the work of the CIA and the Israelis , or that the 7/7 bombings in London were a put-up job by the security services, and other such obvious rubbish. Except of course that they believe these things to be true - in the face of every piece of rational evidence.

Few in the establishment would be so gross as to actually quote Voltaire in their defence of the invitation of the Oxford Union to the BNP, but the phrase will be hanging there in the background, unspoken. It is a perfectly liberal tenet that Holocaust 'deniers' (and I hate the phrase) should be given a platform; after all, who in their right minds could doubt the industrial extermination of so many millions? What's the harm? I myself have strongly opposed, on this blog, the introduction of laws proposed by Angela Merkel to outlaw 'Holocaust denial' across the EU. And will continue to do so.

But we must be aware that amongst the ignorant, the superstitious, the gullible and the poorly educated - a very substantial number in New Labour's Britain - such self-evident truths that readers of this blog will take for granted cannot be assumed to be understood. Unschooled village Imams from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Somalia will use the very fact of the debate to bolster their 'world Jewish conspiracy' message of primitive hatred. The Jade Goodys will glibly mutter 'no smoke without fire - there must be something in it'.

And that, I'm afraid, is the price we must pay for freedom of expression in a 21st century democracy in which New Labour have encouraged a 13th Century population cohort to develop.