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Saturday, 31 October 2009

Rowson on Blair

Again Martin Rowson in the Guardian comes up trumps with his depiction of a ghoulish blood-soaked Blair having Europe's door slammed in his face. A rather silly piece on the Speccie's Coffee House by Daniel Korski still punts Blair for EU President, and no doubt the reptilian Mandelson still clings to the idea, but I would now be surprised indeed if Blair emerged successful.

Irvine gets his retaliation in first

There is no doubt that Derry Irvine was an inflated, pompous, hubristic New Labour dag with a reputation as a sot. Nor is there much doubt that he was a foolish man in reminding Blair of the constitutional nicety that Lord Chancellor ranks above Prime Minister in the order of precedence; his reported demand to the PM for 'another Whisky, young Blair' at Number 10 cannot have endeared him to a man whose own vanity is monumental. That he should have been surprised when Blair sacked him is evidence of how badly he read the runes.

And now, with those resentments having simmered in 70° proof for five years, Irvine has submitted evidence to the HofL Select Committee on the Constitution giving his own account of the affair. Neither he nor Blair comes out well from it.

Tales of Blair's utter vacuity will come increasingly to light as this Labour administration nears its death. The nation has unhealed wounds from his lies, distortion and misrepresentations. He's still not wanted within these shores, and wisely spends his time largely in voluntary exile. It will take a Act of Attainder from the Parliament that Blair so fouled to heal the nation's wound; an Act that strips him of honour and property. If Irvine wishes to redeem himself, he could do worse than channel his resentment into quiet lobbying in the Lords for the Bill of Attainder to be raised there.

Friday, 30 October 2009

Will Disgraced Former MP Jacqui Smith pay back our £116,000?

The general reaction to Jacqui Smith's mealy-mouthed mea culpa on last night's QT can be summed up as 'Fine. So pay back our £116,000 and we'll believe you'.

I suspect if Jacqui stands for Redditch next year without having paid back the cash she stole, the voters there will take the same view. After which we can get used to calling her Disgraced Former MP Jacqui Smith ....

No place for ethnic cleansing in tax-funded schools

It was because British Jews insisted that they are to be treated as a race rather than as a faith that the extraordinary ethnic purity test they are applying for admission to the Jewish Free School has been allowed under British law. Germany's 1935 racial purity laws also defined Jews as an ethnic group; the test was three out of four grandparents being Jewish. The equivalent racial purity test applied by British Jews has rejected the 13 year old Jewish son of practising Jewish parents as being, in German terms, a Mischlinge, or mixed-race Jew, and not a full ethnic Jew. He has therefore been barred from attending the Jewish Free School.

I'm sorry, but I find this whole mess utterly repugnant. That a tax-funded school in the UK in 2009 should be allowed to apply what are essentially Nazi racial purity standards as part of a government sanctioned pupil admissions policy is odious and abhorrent.

Tax-funded faith schools I can understand and support, where a demand for them exists and they are funded fairly and proportionately; equally I would defend tax-funded secular schools, in which the mix of children of all faiths and social backgrounds can increase social cohesion and build social capital. But race schools are an evil and an anathema. If you issued every parent with a voucher and a choice where to spend it, you would end up with a mix of faith schools and secular schools anyway. That's democratic choice. And by and large it makes little difference; what evidence there is suggests anyway that secular schools produce more bigots than faith schools. But to allow race schools is to encourage bigotry on an industrial scale - and this we must not allow to develop.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Hattersley predicts more 'conviction politicians'

At the tail-end of his Guardian comment piece, Hattersley says;
If it becomes only possible to become an MP by making material sacrifices, there will be more conviction politicians. It is because the House of Commons has increasingly become a career, rather than a vocation, that a proportion (a small proportion) of members behave like bankers in search of a bonus.
And that's as decent an obituary for the loathsome political class that I'm likely to see this side of the election.

Some convicted politicians from this Rotten Parliament would be nice, too.

Public sector chief execs shiver at fall-out from Kelly

Top managers in the public sector have done extraordinarily well under Labour; in 1997, chief execs earned about six times their organisation's average admin salary, but by 2007 this had doubled - with a wedge of 10 - 12 times the admin wage for top managers. Council bosses played musical chairs with a difference - none of the chairs were ever removed. Instead, each time a council boss' post was vacated, the salary was raised by another £30k and their mate from down the road would spend a few years doing the job. Spurious 'bonuses' were another way in which these top troughers lined their pockets - bonuses unrelated to any measure the public would equate with management success.

Transport for London is stuffed with scores of senior managers earning up to £200k each; in the Met, 49 civilian senior managers outnumber the police Commanders, ACs and DACs running the bureaucracy that our Police Force has become. The NHS has more managers than nurses, at salaries that make the GPs' £100k average seem like chickenfeed. Even our degraded, corrupt and politicised top civil servants have wangled themselves bonuses these days. The quangos are stuffed with mediocre managers each earning more than the Prime Minister, and even the incompetent placeman who failed to check MPs' receipts, a job my £27k a year accounts supervisor could do with her eyes closed, a fellow called appropriately Malcolm Jack - earns £150k plus use of a £3.8m grace and favour house in Westminster. Not only have they all stuffed their mouths with gold at the public expense, but the cost of their pensions is outrageous, and many will still contrive, with the corrupt connivance of fellow top troughers, to take early retirement with substantial lump-sum bungs.

For MPs, who will see their own wedge dramatically reduced as a result of Kelly's recommendations, this will prove too much. You see, as anyone who has designed an office remuneration structure will know, it's never so much about absolute salary as about relativity. Employees have a finely-tuned sense of relative worth, and an extra £500 a year and a job title can make the difference between a happy and effective office and a resentful and poorly disciplined workforce. MPs will look at council chief executives and public sector top managers in relation to their own reduced circumstances and conclude it's not fair. And at a time when it would be suicide for MPs to campaign to double their salary, that leaves only one way for them to go - to put the pay of public sector bosses under the spotlight, and to cut it as savagely as Kelly has cut theirs.

Expect a massive whinge from organisations representing the public sector's top troughers, and don't be surprised if they spend a few millions more of our taxes on a publicity campaign 'because I'm worth it ..'

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

We're watching MPs' use of Parliamentary time

It's hardly surprising to see where MPs real interests lie; now that Kelly's key proposals have been leaked, there is no shortage of time it seems for our 'busy' MPs to devote themselves full-time to an interest closest to their hearts - their wallets. Nor it seems will there be any shortage of Parliamentary time for them to debate their own expenses and welfare.

I've no doubt before long these corrupt rogues will come up with another little scam to subvert Kelly; renting their second homes to each other, employing each other's children. Whatever.

But our eyes are on this Rotten Parliament like no other. Between now and its well-deserved dissolution, we're watching like hawks the business on which they spend their time, and the lobbies they enter. Our verdict on their behaviour will be at the ballot box.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Duck and run

I adore this brilliant vid from the OpenUpNow.Org campaign group for open primaries - please let's have a sequel!
H/T Paul Waugh

11 Questions about your constituency PPCs

As candidates start lining up for next year's elections the qualities that local constituency voters will look for in prospective parliamentary candidates will be very different to the qualities that central Statist party HQs look for. 2010 will be our chance to clear out the last of this Rotten Parliament, and elect ourselves a House of Commons that does justice to the British people who returned them there. To this end I'm re-publishing a slightly modified check list that I suggest you use to gauge the quality of your local candidates. The test is blind; it's unbiased towards any particular party, sex or other irrelevant candidate characteristic. It's a test of the one quality that has been singularly lacking in this Rotten Parliament - merit.
  1. Have they served in the fighting forces, or in humanitarian or aid organisations in which they put themselves at risk for the good of others?
  2. Have they undertaken or do they undertake voluntary or pro bono work in the local community for the good of others?
  3. Would you trust them enough for them to know something deeply personal about you?
  4. Have they demonstrated their competence over a number of years in a trade or profession, excluding 'politician' or 'political organiser'?
  5. Do they have an established connection with or family, educational or residential history in or adjacent to the constituency?
  6. Do they demonstrate sufficient nous for you to feel comfortable that they can understand complex issues?
  7. Have they shown that they are industrious?
  8. Are they open and inclusive, neither 'chippy' nor distant, and can they fairly represent the diversity of people in the constituency?
  9. Have they demonstrated that they take pride in this nation and its institutions, by having (for example) participated in civic and national events such as Remembrance Day services or major anniversaries?
  10. Have they demonstrated probity in their personal life?
  11. Would you trust them to put the interests of the nation and constituents above those of their party and themselves every time they vote in the Commons?
I suggest you score them out of five on each question. I suggest any candidate scoring fewer than 25 marks is simply not up to the job.

ACPO's sinister surveillance role

ACPO, an unelected and unaccountable body whose sinister expansion has been the cause of previous posts here, is now compiling a database of those it considers to be 'domestic extremists'. This blog's long opposition to ACPO has doubtless already earned me a place on the list of those first into the camps when the time comes.

The real insult is that the Home Office and our own Chief Constables are funding it - to the tune of £9m a year. With no statutory reporting, with no Freedom of Information recourse, with no democratic accountability, this money disappears into a wholly antidemocratic black hole.

ACPO's Anton Setchell is either a very stupid man or a very disingenuous one. When asked how many citizens were on ACPO's 'domestic extremist' database - the most fundamental fact about a computer database, answerable in ten seconds by the database administrator - Setchell replied he couldn't say, as it was not easy to count.

It's time our MPs got off their arses and set up a Standing Select Committee to do nothing but quiz these secret State police from ACPO, NPIA, ACRO, CRB and the ISA, week in and week out, until we've dragged them all into the light of day and can decide what to do about them.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

1989 reprised

Twenty years ago, Ceau┼čescu had only weeks to live as over November and December 1989 the threads unravelled from his web of self-deception; as Wiki has it;
By 1989, Ceau┼čescu was showing signs of complete denial of reality. While the country was going through extremely difficult times with long bread queues in front of empty food shops, he was often shown on state TV entering stores filled with food supplies, visiting large food and arts festivals where people would serve him mouthwatering food while praising the "high living standard" achieved under his rule. Special contingents of food deliveries would fill stores before his visits, and even well-fed cows would be transported across country in anticipation of his visits to farms. Staples such as flour, eggs, butter and milk were difficult to find and most people started to depend on small gardens grown either in small city alleys or out in the country. In late 1989, daily TV broadcasts showed lists of CAPs (kolkhozes) with alleged record harvests, in blatant contradiction to the shortages experienced by the average Romanian at the time.
How very different to the home life of our own dear Prime Minister.

Raising the drinking age to 21?

Civitas bills its blog as 'Classical liberal comment' and indeed old JS Mill features largely in a recent post looking at binge drinking.

As I've mentioned here before, the libertarian freedoms that old JS advocated were curtailed for those under 21, and in similar vein the Civitas blog poses the question whether raising the drinking age to 21 would curb bingeing.

I don't recall being markedly more mature at 21 than I was at 18. It's always seemed to me to be illiberal indeed to allow a man to marry and be killed in battle but not to enjoy a beer before either event. But then I'm an Old Tory not a Classical Liberal, so would approach binge drinking from another very different direction.

Unlike Liberals, Tories feel little reservation in applying societal standards of morality. I'd shame and humiliate the binge drunks; posters of a comatose wide-boy laying in a pool of his own urine, posted in his local community with the question 'Would you date this man?', or posters of a pantie-less lass spreadeagled on the pavement in a puddle of her own vomit with the question 'Would you take her home to meet Mum?'. Combined with more arrests and convictions for Drunk & Disorderly - let's get the plods off their arses doing something useful for once - a strong dose of public moral hypocrisy is the one way to make inroads into binge drinking.

I admit hypocrisy unashamedly; I've drunk alcohol on a heroic scale all my adult life, and with very few exceptions long ago have always behaved impeccably in public whatever industrial quantities of booze I have taken. It's a combination of being able to take it, and knowing the limits. You see, the problem isn't alcohol - it's self-respect.

I'll let Adrian Gill have the last word

How refreshing that Gill not only writes superbly but has a decent grasp of political history;
Because the BNP is Labour’s malformed bastard, its Caliban. It is the creature of its making, its million votes in the European elections this summer were Labour votes. The people who turned to Griffin once turned to the Labour party.

It was new Labour that couldn’t distance itself far enough from the urban underclass, because they frightened the middle class with their tattoos and pitbulls, bad teeth, worse language, drink, sex and anger. These are the volk that the Labour movement was founded to look out for. New Labour cast them aside. Gave them MPs like Peter Mandelson and Harriet Harman. Privately, Labour would say: “We can ignore the chavs because they’ve got nowhere else to go.” Well, there’s always somewhere else to go in a democracy. That’s what democracies do: they grow new branches to fill new needs.

The Labour spokesmen were at pains to point out that the BNP’s 1m votes didn’t strictly count because they were mostly made up of people who didn’t know what they were voting for. There weren’t really a million racists out there. This is the most anti-democratic explanation for an uncomfortable fact.

Or they just say it’s a protest vote. It’s not for the BNP, it’s against other stuff. Well, having covered four general elections, I can tell you that most votes are against other stuff.

People generally vote for one of two reasons: because this is the way they’ve always voted, it was the way their parents voted; or because they want to get rid of someone. Every change of government in my lifetime has been made because they weren’t the other lot. The BNP vote is a Labour cross in the wrong box.

The BNP members aren’t Hitler’s children. This isn’t 1930s Germany. It isn’t Le Pen’s rural France. What it mostly resembles is the pre-war British Union of Fascists, a Labour party splinter group that, even when fascism was all the European rage, never amounted to much more than a music hall joke and a bit of homoerotic posing.