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Saturday, 11 April 2009

If Iain Dale is right, Tom Watson must go too

Iain Dale's post on McBride's departure is spot on the money.

If Watson was copied into but did nothing to halt the filth then he condoned it. If he condoned it, his ministerial post is untenable. Watson must go. He has abused his office. A Minister of the Crown cannot behave like some foul gutter scum.

Code of Conduct for Special Advisors

From the government's code of conduct for Special Advisors:
  • Special advisers should not use official resources for party political activity. They are employed to serve the objectives of the Government and the Department in which they work. It is this which justifies their being paid from public funds and being able to use public resources, and explains why their participation in party politics is carefully limited. They should act in a way which upholds the political impartiality of civil servants and does not conflict with the Civil Service Code. They should avoid anything which might reasonably lead to the criticism that people paid from public funds are being used for party political purposes.
  • All contacts with the news media should be authorised by the appointing Minister and be conducted in accordance with the Guidance on Government Communications.
  • Special advisers must not take public part in political controversy whether in speeches or letters to the Press, or in books, articles or leaflets; must observe discretion and express comment with moderation, avoiding personal attacks; and would not normally speak in public for their Minister or the Department.
Just saying.

Labour's house of cards starts to tumble (2)

When the Sundays publish Damian McBride's jejune and puerile filth tomorrow I for one will not be surprised at this latest failure of Labour's campaigning at the taxpayer's expense. Nor will Labour's carefully managed damage limitation exercise cut much ice with many people.

No 10's failure in backing a borderline mentalist to get in amongst the blogs is manifest. The site languishes at tenth in the Wikio Influential UK Blogs list, overtaken by both swear-blog The Devil's Kitchen and snooze-blog Dizzy Thinks. If this is all that many weeks of creating drama and clicks has won, with all that Labour's big guns and McBride's backing can achieve, and with a shedload of the comrades' money, then things are desperate amongst Brown's campaign team.

What we will read tomorrow will be Labour's authentic voice. Is this is what Gordon Brown thinks are "Serious people doing serious jobs in serious times"?. This is a taunt of which Cameron should make full use. To the rest of us, it's time for Labour to admit that Brown is a serious mistake.

Labour's house of cards starts to tumble (1)

Labour's game of tricks that has worked so well for Gordon Brown since 1997 is starting to come apart. Immigration, in particular, has angered Labour's core indigenous vote. The extent of immigration may be invisible to ministers, who rely on fraudulent official figures and prozac-bright official estimates, but is all too visible to ordinary people. A confidential report prepared by the GLA's economics team estimates Lewisham's population has increased by almost 10% since the 2001 census - almost all of the new population being Africans.

It's also becoming apparent how Labour achieved this;
  1. Expand higher education and education funding, creating a massive new sector hungry for overseas tuition fees
  2. Abolish exit controls at our borders
  3. Issue several million student and visitor visas to African Commonwealth nationals
  4. Make it easy for them to disappear, by encouraging voter registration that then allows them to open bank accounts and obtain credit
Of course the massive pressures such immigration has caused - to housing, policing, schools, health services and transport - will force an increase in national GDP (but not of course in per capita GDP) and Brown can lay claim to this narrow success. But those that bear the social costs, those competing for public services with immigrants, have been ignored.

The prospect of success for the BNP in the June elections fills me with foreboding. There is a threshold beyond which even a party such as the BNP becomes credible, rather than fringe. I fear we may cross it in June.

Friday, 10 April 2009

Labour: Tough on teeth, tough on the causes of teeth

The news that child tooth extractions have risen astronomically under Labour since 1997 will not surprise many people. Decay and corruption have characterised every other aspect of Labour's administration, so why not children's teeth?

And Labour's nannying, which seeks to keep the nation on the bottle long after weaning onto solids should take place, has doubtless led to an epidemic of 'bottle teeth' (below) amongst our sink estate populations - who also decline to teach their infants to walk, preferring the convenience of wheeling them about until they're five years of age or so.

Just more Labour failure, everywhere you look.

A tale of two Paks

The Sovereign's Parade at Sandhurst this week was a very special occasion for Jhelum Military College. Jhelum nestles between two rivers in north-eastern Pakistan, close to the Kashmir. George V founded a military college here in 1922, originally for the sons of Muslim soldiers serving in the Indian Army, but imbued with an ethos of such English public school regularity that it soon started turning out officers who became the backbone of Pak's post-independence army.

Like the lists of incumbent vicars that decorate our ancient parish churches and in which the rapid change of office at the time of the Reformation goes now almost unnoticed, the list of Commandants at JMC segues seamlessly from Lt. Col. T.H.M. Stebbing to Maj. Aurangzeb Khan in 1947. And if the college song lacks something in poetic subtlety, it expresses perfectly the uncomplicated approach of its commanders and cadets:

Long live our Military College Jhelum!
May you shine for an eternity!
Every cadet has lit torches of knowledge in his way.
Bright minds, smiling eyes and tough muscles.
We get what we want,
We are the Alamgirians!
We are the Alamgirians!

Last year the college prided itself that 118 l/c Cadet Umair Imran Qazi, of Iqbal House ('rah Iqbal!), had been sent to Sandhurst. This week JMC was bursting with pride as Qazi won the Overseas Sword from John Hutton at the RMA's Sovereign's Parade on Tuesday. The Pak 'Daily Times' also reports proudly that "In addition to being judged the best overseas cadet, Umair who will join an armoured corps regiment on his return, also won a clutch of other awards. He won Prince Saud Abdullah prize for obtaining the best aggregate marks in academic subjects, the Pakistan Defence and International Affairs prizes for the best performance in defence and international affairs."

Within a couple of hours drive from Sandhurst, in the cheap and scruffy side-streets of Bradford, Luton or Slough, anonymous ground-floor doors bearing the legend ' .... School of English' in stick-on gold letters, often applied a little crookedly, lead to sets of sparsely furnished rooms above the ground-floor shops. Here semi-literate Pak imams and radical jihadists who have entered the country on student visas pay over their fees and are handed a learning-pack convincing enough to fool an immigration officer. No English is taught. A slight dusty, throat-irritating cardamon-flavoured dryness hangs in the room. In one corner a bearded young man in a jalabah rocks quietly on his haunches as he reads the Koran. Soon, perhaps, he will return to Pak, with some electronic circuit boards to make timing devices for IEDs, which may be deployed in Helmand across the theoretical frontier.

Or perhaps this young jihadist will join the ongoing battle of attrition with the Pak army in the tribal areas. Perhaps he will squint down the sights of an RPG launcher at a Pak army armoured vehicle commanded by 21 year-old 2nd Lt. Umair Imran Qazi. Bright minds, smiling eyes and tough muscles are little defence against jagged steel splinters driven by an RDX packed rocket head.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

First big test for Sir Paul

Two events are bubbling away that will prove or fail Sir Paul Stephenson's mettle as our new Commissioner.

First, Bob Quick. Bob has never struck me as the sharpest knife in the drawer; his wife's dodgy minicab firm, and his conduct in the Damian Green affair were both clumsy embarrassments. His crass stupidity in prematurely exposing an anti-terrorist operation is a further indication that he's a sandwich short of a picnic. Sir Paul would do well to take this opportunity to replace the current head of anti-terrorist operations with a man of real ability.

Secondly, Ian Tomlinson's death. Sir Paul's actions now will demonstrate whether he's a useless pyramid of silver braid like his predecessor or whether he can manage his force to the satisfaction of his employers, the rate-payers of London, without provoking the overt hostility of his men.

I'm really hoping he will do the right thing on both counts. We deserve a Commissioner of real ability after Ian Blair's hopeless blundering.

Update 8.18
Bob Quick has gone. Yates of the Yard will be taking the counter terrorism brief.

MPs' base salary: Not £64,766 but £85,491

Just a minor point, but when talking about our MPs' base salary (before all those allowances for bath plugs and patio sets, you understand) we should really include our contribution towards their pension scheme. The Treasury announced last week that this is being increased to 32% of their salary. This takes their real salary to £85,491.

Just a minor point.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Time up for Jacqui's old man?

In relation to the new sex offences bill, it was reported:
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith launched the new legislation with an unequivocal message, saying "there will be no more excuses for those who pay for sex".
Um, except solitary sex, one assumes. No doubt Richard Timney has the matter in hand.

Defamation and its defence

There comes a point at which I feel entirely comfortable in calling MPs such as Jacqui Smith, Derek Conway, Hoon, Cohen, Brown, and their like 'thieves' on this blog without risk of legal action. Would any of them actually dare mount a legal action to which a defence of justification was successful?

Newspapers will be more circumspect, but when they feel bold enough to do the same you know that the game's truly up. This morning the Mail comments:

Meanwhile, thick-skinned, lightfingered Jacqui Smith protests she's a victim of a smear campaign over her expenses because she's a woman with no independent wealth.

No, Home Secretary. You're receiving this unwelcome attention only because you're a liar and a thief.

Put not your faith in princes

Just two years ago Cameron let it be known that the Conservatives would reverse the hunting ban with a simple one-line bill.

Yesterday a 'senior spokesman' said in response to Edward Garnier's urging his party not to forget this commitment "We are amazed as anyone else to hear that Edward Garnier is pushing this around the country," said a source. "David's position is quite clear. Hunting will not be in the manifesto."

Two years ago, the Telegraph reported
David Cameron plans to repeal the hunting ban if the Conservatives win the next general election, in a simple one-line Bill. The strategy is revealed in a private letter to MPs which instructs them to reassure "our friends in the hunting world" that a Tory government would overturn the Hunting Act as a matter of urgency.
Now Cameron can wriggle around between the words and seek some shelter in pointing out that a free vote is not the same thing as a manifesto commitment but this morning many Conservative voters will wonder how far his words can be trusted on other matters.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Finding this left-handed thug shouldn't be hard

Finding the left-handed thug in the short hi-vis vest who accompanied the dog-handlers and who fatally clubbed / pushed Newsagent Ian Tomlinson to his death shouldn't be hard. Story and video link HERE. Watch the slo-mo replay; you can see his baton hand raised in the club position, and as he throws Tomlinson to the ground he follows the blow through and raises his baton again at the end. He then speaks on his radio set in the background, and disappears to the group of officers off-camera to the right.

No wonder they've made illegal our taking of such footage and photographs. Now if Straw's Bill succeeds, they'll hold Tomlinson's Coroner's Inquest in secret, too.

Where work and blogging meet

If you've noticed a little shallowing in depth of recent posts, you're right. Over the past month I've been busier than I have at any time over the past three years, with more concurrent schemes than I can effectively manage, all hugely demanding of every ounce of skill and experience I have. Which I'd love to tell you all about but I can't, so I'll have to comment by proxy. And how appropriate following my previous post.

Of little interest to those outside London, Prince Charles has intervened over the new designs for the Chelsea Barracks site by Richard Rogers. He has proposed his tame classicist Quinlan Terry to the site owners, the Qataris. In my view, Rogers' scheme is lazy and uninspired. Terry is clumsy and much of his output grates as uninformed pastiche, like an oil copy of a European old master by a sweatshop Chinese artist, such as those sold on eBay. I wouldn't go for either. But this isn't a point about this scheme in particular, it's about the disjunct between what designers think the Client should want, what the Client actually wants and how what the designer proposes impacts on those who will have to use the building, or look at it, or live next to it.

Architects are generally narcissistic to the point of rivalling politicians. Where politicians strive for the short-term gain that will earn them a poll boost and sod the future beyond, architects strive for the portfolio moment, that instant in time when the builders have finished but before the Client occupies the structure and starts to ruin it. This is when they hire expensive photographers (at the Client's cost) to capture the exquisite form of their creation, both by day and by night. And this is where their interest ends. Job done. Next portfolio moment, please.

In practice this generally means a quiet battle between architects and those representing their Clients, as we tone down the more ludicrous, self-indulgent or frankly insane scheme details that they imagine will give good portfolio. We call this 'value engineering' but it isn't really; it's actually a reality check for designers who are sufficiently self-deluded to believe that they can change human nature. Like politicians. So we quietly remove structural glass floors from the ladies toilets, straighten extreme angles that would halve human occupancy and demur from the suggestion that spending 20% of the scheme budget in cladding the building with Arctic seal-fur is a sound design option.

Generally, sanity prevails and most commercial buildings end up being sound and usable structures and most Clients end up being persuaded that some remaining design feature adds distinction and importance to their investment and most architects end up getting some decent portfolio.

One aspect of Labour's government over the past decade stands out more prominently than any other; the absolute absence of anyone performing this function on politicians on behalf of their clients - us. This is what we imagined civil servants were for. But Labour's legislative history seems as though the entire civil service has gone native, egging their politicians on to not only put a glass floor in the ladies' toilets but to locate them immediately above the public cafeteria.

You may disagree. You may think I am depriving the world of the expression of genius, that I am frustrating the realisation of what the client should want if he but knew it. And that civil servants should, like Mad King Ludwig's builders, accede to every cake-icing turret, every grotesque gargoyle, without impediment.

The difference is, my continued employment depends on how well I serve my clients. If we, the public, are the clients of both politician and civil servant we have a situation in which one of them - the politicians - can be fired, albeit only after a few years, but the other can't. One expects the reality of politicians and architects to be distorted by vanity, hubris and self-delusion, but one also expects a civil service that guards and safeguards the client's interests. And in this it has failed.

Monday, 6 April 2009

Blogging via Tor

To mark the start of the government's requiring all ISPs to retain all details of web sites visited, I bring this post to you via Tor.

Installing it on my Windows XP machine was quick and problemless. It puts a little button at the bottom of the Firefox browser to enable or disable it; when enabled, things slow down a little as you're routed via computers around the globe but not by much. Even as I'm typing, the apparent origin of this post is changing from somewhere in Germany to the US to Greece and to Japan.

1st Round: Raedwald 1 Government 0

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Hoon and other MPs cannot use the Nuremberg Defence

Let's be clear I am not comparing bent and corrupt members of Parliament to Nazi war criminals. However, the parrot-cry of all those sleazy bottom-feeders when they are caught is inevitably "It was within the rules. The Fees Office told me to do it".

The defence of 'I was only obeying orders' or 'Befehl ist Befehl', known as the Nuremberg Defence, was discredited as an effective excuse in the following terms:

The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him

And this is the nub. It is not a matter of whether it was within the rules, or whether the Commons Fees Office gave it the OK. MPs have an individual moral responsibility that they should exercise in these matters. They are placed in stewardship over the nation's funds; they are trusted to legislate on matters that affect the lives of every subject in the Realm, and they owe a duty of responsibility to both their constituents and the nation in general. If they cannot exercise the most basic personal moral judgement over whether or not to steal public funds, they are not fit for the other duties that we repose in their care. Their failing is not confined to immorally claimed expenses, but extends to a fundamental failure in their ability to act effectively as Members of Parliament.

Hoon and his like are not fit to be seen in the precincts of the Palace. They should run in fear from London, pelted with filth and ordure, to ignominy, obloquy and disgrace in some dark hole far from the light of our sight. And every time I see that smug smirk on that reptile's face, I am suffused with anger and a deep sense of injustice.

Brown has no idea what morality is, let alone how he should be guided by it if he permits these vermin to infest our Parliament for a moment longer.

The global stigma of our enemy within

As Gordon Brown preens himself on a US Presidential visit that has earned him a blip in the polls, the people of Britain might ask themselves why they weren't permitted a sight of the President during his high-profile visit to America's closest ally.

President Obama spoke in the open air today to a crowd of 20,000 ordinary Czech citizens in front of Prague Castle with only a lectern and an autocue between him and the audience. Many of them will speak English and will have understood him. I don't begrudge the Czechs their sight of the new President one bit - but wouldn't it have been something if he's addressed a crowd of 20,000 here? Or gone walk-about down the Mall?

The reason he didn't of course - the reason his security detail wouldn't even contemplate it - is the same reason that according to the US State Department the UK poses the greatest terrorist threat to the US. Our enemy within. Muslims, largely Pakistani Muslims, bent on death and destruction and jihad.

So don't preen too proudly, Gordon. You're the Prime Minister of a nation not even safe enough any more for the US President to meet its people. Because you have failed utterly in securing our nation from an enemy within. And though the septics are too polite to say it, I'm not; you've burdened this nation with an international stigma. You're the failed leader of a failed government, and the only part of nation safe enough for you to be in is hidden is within your own security cordons and barriers, like some latter day Caeucescu.

I hope that one day, long after your foul and foetid government and party have faded from the minds of Englishmen, that an American President can once again be our guest, walk our streets and meet our people.

Troughing MPs in tax-theft scandal

The Times carries the story this morning that MPs are claiming back stamp duty on their second and third homes from the public purse. They can also claim conveyancing costs, and when they come to sell can claim the cost of the hated HIPs from taxpayers. No wonder they didn't oppose the insanity of the HIPs law in Parliament - like so many other costs that ordinary people have to pay, MPs are exempt from bearing such costs. Amongst the stamp-duty troughers are Kevin Brennan and Theresa Villiers.

It stinks like a public sewer.

Homophobe MP tops Troughers League

The MP who thinks gayers are "disgusting, loathsome, nauseating, wicked and vile" tops the Troughers League together with her husband with a joint swill-take of half a million a year from the public purse. Iris Robinson has apparently furnished her Belfast home with all the taste of a schizophrenic Chameleon addicted to kitsch on public funds. Iris and Peter also employ more relatives than Conway and have more public jobs than Mandelson. The NOTW has the story.

Well, Iris, I've got five words for your behaviour -
disgusting, loathsome, nauseating, wicked and vile. I've got a few more as well.

Troughers of the week

'Three houses' Hoon tops this Sunday's Sleaze League for his shameless plundering of the public purse to build his property portfolio - but for a man jointly responsible for launching an illegal war, a little theft must be a minor matter of conscience.

Close behind come the seven members of the Commons Health Committee who swanned off for a holiday fact finding trip to New Zealand whilst the Commons was sitting, so they wouldn't miss their other holiday when the house rose for three weeks for Easter. The seven troughers are:
  • Kevin Barron
  • Jim Dowd
  • Doug Naysmith
  • Charlotte Atkins
  • Charles Stoate
  • Sandra Gidley
  • Richard Taylor
"I couldn't care whether you think it's a good case or not" said Dowd. No, I don't suppose you do care - you and your kind have made abundantly clear already your contempt for the British public, and by your shameless plundering of the public purse for spurious 'business'.