Saturday, 13 June 2015

Gordon Brown - Labour's biggest failure

Reading the Indie this morning, the thought rose unbidden "Dear God, is the man so utterly stupid he can't even steal office biros?". Brown had bought 250 refills for his felt tip pen - the one he used to use to stab the back of the seats in his Prime Ministerial Rover - just prior to standing down from Parliament last month. So Brown the stupid gets caught out stealing office biros whilst Bloody Blair accumulates a £20m fortune. Brown envisages a future for himself occupying a chair in a prestigious east coast university in the US, explaining how he saved the world in 2008 and how no-one at home recognises his genius. We will have to wait and see what he ends up with. Perhaps the Imperial College of Business and Law, 2a Catford Broadway (Above the Nail Shop) may offer him the Vice-Chancellorship. Who knows. 

What is more certain is that Brown's stupidity, crassness and mentalism has helped Labour lose two general elections. People won't forget the Tsunami of borrowed cash he threw at public services to no lasting effect; his first wave of BSF schools, the ones for which architects were encouraged to be creative rather than careful, are now degrading rapidly and I'm waiting for the first to be demolished. GPs are still enjoying their £120k salaries with no weekends thanks. Health authorities are locked into PPI contracts to clean and service facilities they can no longer afford to staff with clinical staff. Stupidity. All Brown's utter, deep, pernicious, pig-headed stupidity. 

May he rot.

Friday, 12 June 2015

Orgreave

I have to declare a personal interest in relation to Orgreave. I was living (at least during the week) and working in South Yorkshire, in a mining area just outside Doncaster, during the miner's strike. I saw some cruel and spiteful acts against miners and their families, the worst of human nature that takes advantage of human adversity but also warmth, courage, humour and friendship from people who had next to nothing. It was a pointless, unwinnable strike provoked by Scargill for all the wrong reasons, yet as a monument to the fight by a fatally injured industry against the dying of the light it was a magnificent act of human solidarity. Of that struggle, Orgreave was perhaps the most memorable of the conflicts between police and miners. 

The IPCC has now formally declined to pursue a number of charges against the police. The South Yorkshire Police are named, but as we know it was the hard boys from the Met, Maggie's Met, that were the least restrained in their violence. They didn't have to live in the county after, or raise kids amongst the children of workless ex-miners. The IPCC doesn't say the charges are untrue - just that too much time has now passed to ensure justice. Funny how that argument is used when the State, or criminal members of the political class, face legal action yet doesn't apply to show biz figures or supposed 'war criminals'. Except Blair. My own view of the possible charges against the police?

That police used excessive force at Orgreave
The use of batons and charges by police cavalry as captured on film was clearly excessive, other policing probably not.
Police statements were manipulated
Of course they were. Plods sit down together in the canteen with their notebooks and decide a version of events between them - you'd need to interview them individually immediately after an incident to get something that wasn't 'manipulated'
Officers gave false evidence in court to justify both use of force and to support charges of unlawful assembly and riot
Probably true in many cases though probably not universal. The question of 'riot' is a key point; the 2011 England riots really were riots, but Orgreave, where events were always under police control, was not. 

The fact that police evidence at the time was officially disbelieved and almost all the charges were thrown out by the courts is, though, probably judgement enough. 

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Labour move to wear UKIP's clothes

After Labour were trounced by the Conservatives in the north over devolution and policies giving rise to the 'Northern powerhouse', policies that should have been Labour's, it is perhaps hardly surprising that Labour is now looking at wearing UKIP's Eurosceptic clothes. As Seumas Milne writes in the Grauniad;
But what’s true of the eurozone is also true of the wider European Union, where privatisation, deregulation and lack of democratic accountability have been built into successive treaties. That’s epitomised by the secret EU-US negotiations over the TTIP trade deal – a debate in the European parliament had to be called off on Wednesday because of the scale of opposition – which would enforce “liberalisation” through corporate arbitration tribunals. 

It’s a long way from the days of former commission president Jacques Delors, when the European Union was sold to a British labour movement, punch drunk from Margaret Thatcher’s onslaught, as a “social Europe” that would deliver social and employment rights to sweeten the pill of the corporate-controlled single market.....

But it’s essential that the case for radical change in Europe – and a break with its anti-democratic, corporate-controlled structures – is not abandoned to the right.
Could Labour's support in the Commons for the Referendum Bill signal perhaps the biggest shift in British politics since the rise of UKIP - the conversion of Labour to an anti-EU party?

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Welsh madness must be allowed to play out

Giving the Welsh - or rather, giving a bunch of deluded health fascists who earn their wedge by parasiting on Welsh taxes - control of their own Health Service is, overall, a good thing. Good for Localism, good for experimental democracy in the UK, good for the rest of us. Though not perhaps very good for the Welsh. The Labour controlled lunatics have already closed down half of Welsh A&E provision in favour of spending the money on healthy eating advisers and smoking cessation workshops. So now if you get glassed in Neath on a Saturday night you get a leaflet about carrots rather than an ambulance. And now of course they want a total ban on e-cigarettes in public on the grounds that this makes smoking real cigarettes normative behaviour.

You see, it won't take that many Welshmen bleeding to death in the streets clutching leaflets about carrots before they look across the border at English practice and ask whether sewing people up wouldn't be a better use of their taxes in their own nation. And the e-cig thing will prove likewise when it becomes clear that kids in ban-free Shrewsbury are no more likely to grow to be smokers than those across the border in Welshpool. 

Remember the Welsh also had a thing about alcohol prohibition; decades of restrictive drinking laws didn't produce a mililitre of sobriety more than in permissive England. So let them get on with it; they'll either vote the fools out, or live with the misery.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Janner to face paedo charges in Scotland?

Greville Janner's onset of Saunders Disease was sudden and unexpected. It came on just as the paedo peer realised that not only were the press onto him again, but this time he might actually have to answer in court for his abuse of young boys. In a remarkable show of resilience, he continued to actively administer his business interests for some time after his diagnosis.

However, it may turn out that Saunders Disease is not an illness in Scotland, and that once across the border and in a Scots dock Janner will recover his wits entirely. Clearly, nothing should now stand in the way of this curative and cleansing process. 


Monday, 8 June 2015

EU Referendum - Can you see what it is yet?

With the 'democratic' process hardly underway,
  • Cameron wants to ignore Electoral Commission advice that the referendum should be held on a different day to the local elections on 5th May 2016
  • Cameron wants to enable the EU Commission to spend without restriction in campaigning in support of the 'In' side
  • Cameron has barred ministers from campaigning for an 'out' vote on pain of being sacked from government
As revolting old letch Rolf Harris might have asked, can you see what it is yet?

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Liz Kendall talks the talk - but can she walk the walk?

Labour leadership candidate Liz Kendall fires off both barrels with an uncharacteristically blunt and honest pitch that is unashamedly Localist; so much so that although there are points I would add, I would disagree with few words she writes -
Labour must move on from the past, too. Old Labour favoured top-down control from Whitehall. New Labour used managerialism and performance indicators to run things from the centre.....Devolution to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is accelerating. We must support England’s right to its own voice too.
Of course she doesn't mention the key to devolved administration, taxes. In Switzerland central government only levies a third of tax - the balance is levied directly by cantons and municipalities. Unless we also devolve taxation in the UK we won't be rid of Labour's overweening central State. 

However, I simply can't see Labour's NEC agreeing a manifesto that devolves taxation let alone devolves power from Whitehall and Westminster. Like Osborne's devolution of the tough, unpopular rationing decisions whilst retaining control of the tax levers, they will no doubt come up with some sort of meaningless fudge. 

Still, the light is at least starting to dawn amongst our metropolitan elite.