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Thursday, 11 June 2009

Tax fraud is not just a 'Muslim thing'

So Shahid Malik connived at an undoubted tax or VAT fraud by agreeing to pay £300 a month of rent in cash and not to ask for a receipt.

That a government minister should do such a thing and not resign is despicable.

That a Prime Minister should not require his resignation is an abomination.

But for Malik to claim that such tax fraud 'is a Muslim thing' is utterly beyond any excusing.

How much more filth must we stomach from this Rotten Parliament and from this Rotten Government?

Bercow makes me boil

The prospect of John Bercow, a politician even more oleaginous than Ben Brogan, as Speaker shows that many MPs have learned nothing from recent events. An immodest man of modest abilities, Bercow will do little to convince the public of a new mood of selflessness and altruism in the House; a Labour block vote largely calculated to spite the Tories rather than to provide the House with a Speaker of ability and probity will be seen by the public for the sleazy gesture it is.

Labour's insult to the British people in imposing this narrow partisan Speaker on us will not be forgotten.

For whatever reason at half five this morning I wrote Ben Brogan. Students of political lubricity will have realised of course that I meant Ben Bradshaw. My utter apologies to Ben Brogan, who is not in the least oleaginous.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

National Democratic Renewal Politburo Sub-Committee

Gordon announced the membership of his National Democratic Renewal Politburo Sub-Committee yesterday; Jack Straw, Harriet Harman, Lord Mandelson, Alistair Darling, David Miliband, Alan Johnson, Hilary Benn, Douglas Alexander, John Denham, Shaun Woodward, Baroness Royall, Jim Murphy, Peter Hain, Michael Wills, Nick Brown and Steve Bassam.

Not that they will have to meet too long or too often to come up with the two recommendations that will already have been agreed:

1. To manipulate the voting system to the advantage of the Labour Party
2. To agree State funding for, er, the Labour Party.

Now of course if the government were to establish a genuine advisory team on constitutional reform, it would no doubt include Michael Pinto-Duschinsky, the national political funding expert, Helena Kennedy, who chaired the Power Commission, the LSE's Tony Travers, Antony King, David Butler and Ivor Crewe all also from academe, Simon Jenkins, now running the National Trust but a Localism expert, plus UCL's Robert Hazell. The LGA would also contribute a member. Political members from both the Lords and Commons - and I'd personally like to see Eric Pickles included - chosen on the basis of their experience and wisdom, rather than sycophancy and tribal loyalty. Such an advisory team might well come up with a framework worth having a referendum on.

Absent any of the above as standing members, Gordon's team has about as much credibility as a snake-oil salesman at a pharmaceutical convention.

The cruellest cut

As far as Martin Rowson is concerned, Gordon remains one of the living dead. Incontinent, confined to a wheelchair as the cabinet squabble, with Mandelson running the country, he looks out of a Downing Street window smeared with ordure.

Many politicians are said to be eager to acquire their political cartoons. I'll bet there's one that's not.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

No way back to respect for MPs

No one mourns the passing of an over-deferential, rigidly stratified society. Social mobility - a good thing - depends on a degree of permeability, and 'taste' discriminants have no place in a meritocracy. However, the success of a meritocracy depends on rewards accruing to those with merit that don't accrue to those without. Not all such rewards are financial; status, or an emotional reward, may be as much of an incentive for those with merit as hard cash.

Sometimes it was the minutae of a devolved State that most reinforced status, such as the counter-signing of a passport application. At one time, in my youth, countersigners were restricted to doctors, solicitors or barristers-at-law, justices of the peace, ministers of religion, MPs and a few others. Dentists and vets, pharmacists and even junior police officers were not considered quite honest enough to do the job. Nowadays the list includes virtually anyone who can tie a tie-knot and write in cursive script. It may now be much easier, but we've lost a sort of social 'glue' that means that 'being known to' persons of local social consequence is no longer important. And their status, which cost the taxpayer nothing for this minor, but essential, declaration, is lessened.

At one time, being an MP held substantial social cachet. It conferred substantial status. A letter from an MP to the Town Clerk was a matter of great seriousness. And in their surgeries they got to see the articulate middle classes who wanted their passport applications countersigned and not just welfare recipients after a bigger council house. Not for some time now, of course. And the expenses scandal, together with an abandonment of honourable behaviour by Parliamentarians and especially ministers, has put beyond any hope of recall any degree of respect whatever for MPs as a class.

I don't applaud this. I am desperately sad that our MPs have lost the respect of at least a generation, and perhaps more, of the British people. No amount of Parliamentary or constitutional reform will return it; Parliament's woes are by no means over, and the reputation and status of MPs has not yet fallen to its nadir. No-one now would consider an MP to be inherently more honest than a dentist, or a police constable. I suspect estate agents, journalists and even paedophiles will score better than MPs in the next 'most hated' poll.

At a time when the dying parties need desperately to cleanse themselves of the foetid political class, of 'professional' politicians, of apparatchiks, chancers, chisellers and blow-ins, and fill their ranks with men and women of independent mein, of experience and proven integrity instead, this does not bode well.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Excellent news for Michael Foot apologists

In a footnote to the euro results, and as pointed out already, Gordon Brown has managed to secure a lower even poll than did Michael Foot in 1983. Foot is therefore rehabilitated from the posthumous odium of having been Labour's worst-ever leader.

Of course Foot only talked about nationalising the banks. Brown actually did it.

Labour's 15.3% means election now

The electorate has spoken. Labour's abysmal showing at the euro polls is the voters' damning verdict on Gordon Brown's Labour government. Brown now has not the slightest moral right to continue in government without an election.

Gordon may just imagine that he's 'sticking with the people at their time of need' but the people want to make their own choice about who sticks with them. And it's not Gordon. Gordon may imagine that it's Labour's 'duty to ensure that people act fairly and responsibly' but the British people are quite aware of their own duties and need no lessons from Gordon. Gordon may imagine that 15.3% of votes is a 'test of our character, a test of the government and a test of our beliefs' but 15.3% means Labour have failed the test, and it's time to leave the exam room and think about a career in Macdonalds.

Above all the arrogance of Brown's deluded self-deceit that he can govern the nation in spite of the wishes of the British public, against their clear message of 'GO!', brings us into dangerous constitutional waters. Will it take three millions of voters tearing the gates from Downing Street before a helicopter carries him to exile and political death?

I appeal to all Labour party members to act to prevent a crisis that will damage our nation forever. Gordon must go. Now.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Cameron holds nearly 50% of English Council seats

My figures may be a smidgin out - based on Friday's changes from the 2008 totals from IDEA's census of councillors - but I make the new overall party standing as follows;

Conservative - 9,669 - 49.7%
Lib Dem - 4,311 - 22.2%
Labour - 3,928 - 20.2%
Green - 150
Independent - 1,149
Other - 231
TOTAL - 19,438 councillors

Labour councillors in the Metropolitans and London boroughs must be hoping that Brown will cause an election before May 2010; if the public mood is allowed to fester until then, it will be wipe-out time in Labour's local heartlands. An early general election may just save local Labour councillors in a year's time.

Are you listening now, Gordon?

From Brown's acceptance speech in 2007;
"To those who feel the political system doesn’t listen and doesn’t care; to those who feel powerless and have lost faith; to those who feel Westminster is a distant place and politics simply a spectator sport: I will strive to earn your trust. To earn your trust not just in foreign policy but earn your trust in our schools, in our hospitals, in our public services, and to respond to your concerns. And by listening and learning, I want to become a voice for communities far beyond"
From the BBC's highly moderated 'Have Your Say' board, the top most recommended posts:
  1. "Resign, call an election, and we might be able to salvage this country from the pit that labour has brought it into!"[434 votes]
  2. "Labour are very arrogant if they think they'll get my vote by changing their leader. They need to change their policies - something which they adamently refuse to do. They patronise us by saying that they need to work harder to get their policies across, or that we don't appreciate the benefits. We have been saying for 10 years that we don't want mass immigration, or multiculturalism, yet the policy, dishonesty, bullying & patronising continues. Which part of the word NO don't they understand?" [387 votes]
  3. "What now for Labour? They should do the decent thing and call an election, it obvious that this shambles can't be allowed to continue. For the first time in their careers they should put the interests of the country before their own selfish interests. I won't hold my breath."[321 votes]
  4. "General election. Then prison for the corrupt"[309 votes]
  5. "Brown must go and a general election called. Wake up Mr Brown its OVER."[287 votes]
  6. "The only honourable course of action would be a general election and then the people can decide if they want Gordon Brown as Prime Minister. For Labour to impose yet another Prime Minister on this country by having a leadership election,and no general election would be undemocratic."[255 votes]
  7. "They could take the cotton wool out of their ears and stick it in their mouths. You are in "office"; not "power". The UK is nominally a democracy. Govt's job is to give the electorate the policies it wants, not tell the electorate the policies it's going to get and then bring in censorship & bullying laws to force the electorate to comply. I danced with joy when Blair won in '97 but NuLabour have made Britain a hateful, miserable, depressing place to live: no longer the wonderful country I knew."[247 votes]

Rather a stupid PM than a mad one

It was le Carré I think who wrote of a successful con-artist character in one of his novels that 'reality was whatever he believed it to be'. Whilst the capacity for convincing self-delusion may be an essential quality in a con-man, or a spy, it is perhaps less so for a Prime Minister. All politicians lie, of course, but few lie with the fatuity with which Gordon Brown does.

It was a source of universal amusement when he categorically denied calling off the election at the end of 2007 because he was scared of losing. And on Friday, when he categorically denied he had wanted Balls in the Treasury, the clumsy lie was again universally recognised. Blair of course would have diverted both questions with humour and the smug self-deprecation he was so good at before the camera. That Gordon Brown doesn't have the intellectual equipment to do the same, that his thought-processes are clumsy and slow-witted, may be one explanation as to why he retreats so quickly to risible lies. But an alternative possibility is that Brown is so self-deluded that he actually mistakes the lies he tells for truth, and this is profoundly concerning. I'd rather have a stupid PM in Number Ten than a mad one.