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Archive for March, 2010

Enjoyed this one from the superlatively non prisoner-taking Daily Mash:

IF THE ANSWER IS VINCE CABLE THEN I’M MOVING TO FRANCE, SAYS EVERYONE

IF the answer to Britain’s economic problems is Vince Cable then what are the schools like in the Dordogne, it was claimed last night.

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You could grow your own vegetables while Vince is in the Treasury turning out to be shit

As the Liberal Democrat treasury spokesman once again made it perfectly clear that he thinks he is much, much better than you, people across the country were surprised at how much house you can get for your money south of the Loire.

Mr Cable lined up alongside rivals George Osborne and Alistair Darling in a Channel Four debate on Britain’s economic future while millions of viewers stressed that French social security contributions are comparatively high but you do get what you pay for.

Julian Cook, from Finsbury Park, said: “Give him his credit, he did correctly predict that Ricky Martin is a gay man, but apart from that all he seems to do is tell people what’s in the Financial Times.”

He added: “Four bedrooms, an acre of land and a pool for £250,000. And it’s near a village with a twice weekly open air market and a bistro. Yeah… sure… Vince Campbell would be a terrific thingumy of the whatever…”

Joanna Kramer, from Grantham, said: “Bearing in mind that politicians are the unfunniest bastards in the history of the universe then I suppose Vince Cable is relatively amusing when compared to, say Anne Widdecombe or Adolf Hitler. Unfortunately I don’t think there is a huge export market for pithy metaphors and self-satisfied put-downs.”

She added: “Did you know that the TGV travels at an average speed of 174mph and has a 98% punctuality rate? But I’m sure Vic Claypole will be super at whatever it is you would like him to do.”

Meanwhile, in the aftermath of the debate the Tories said that expectations on George Osborne were so low that he had won simply by not boasting about how rich he is, using the word ‘piccaninny’ or urinating in his underpants.

It is not known how chancellor Alistair Darling performed as everyone had made sure they had something else to do while he was speaking.

Lol.

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Small point: I’ve just managed to have a glance at Cameron’s response to Gordon Brown’s ridiculously dishonest speech on immigration, coming on the back of another ridiculously dishonest podcast in which he used fake immigration figures to make him sound tough, laughably.

The Conservative leader made some pretty reasonable points, but he still doesn’t sound like he’s ready for power, or is prepared to tackle the issue head on. Why? Because he keeps using the wrong modal verb. He insists on saying that a government ‘should’ do this and ‘should’ do that, like some glorified special advisor, instead of a PM in waiting.

He’s got to start using the far more assertive modal of firm intent, ‘will’, as in ‘we will correct Labour’s dishonest, disastrous immigration policies’ and ‘we will enact laws that will reverse the evils of the divisive socialist dogma of multiculturalism, and place the age-old British traditions of pluralism and tolerance right back at the heart of British culture, where they belong’.

Plain English, innit.

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Hard to believe this thing is actually going to be built. Talk about the emperor’s new clothes. And I think it’s in pretty bloody bad taste, too, in the sense that Lakshmi Mittal is donating 1400 tonnes of foreign steel to build the damn thing. A further kick in the teeth for what’s left of the Tata owned British steel industry, following the closure of Redcar. Oh, right, I’d almost forgotten: no one cares about that.

The “ArcelorMittal Orbit”: foreign, £3 million quid and truly hideous.

Nice idea, crap choice, Boris. If it’s going to be built, it should not be built in London. Bombay can have it – but they probably wouldn’t want it. I very much doubt anybody would. Mittal, on the other hand, will be thrilled. All that publicity, just for a bit of cheap steel made by underpaid workers in India. Good for him (not for Britain).

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The Tory campaigners fight back in the dumbest exchange possibly of all time.

Well, Labour started it!

Hat tip: Iain Dale.

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He’s come back to haunt support his old cabinet sparring partner, Brown, but Tony Blair can’t run away from the by now well-worn ghosts that will follow him to the grave. One such ghost, however, could be a surprisingly fresh one. It’s the eponymous novel written by Robert Harris a few years ago – and it’s coming out as a movie, just in time for the general election, and Blair’s return. What larks!

If you don’t know the book, then you should have a little dip in before watching the film, otherwise, it’ll be pretty baffling. Suffice it to say, it sails pretty close to the wind most of the time, in terms of its verisimilitude. As the Guardian review of the day said, Harris was out to get Blair, and get him good:

Most such references are almost dangerously obvious; a firm called Hallington, for instance, gets up to tricks just as sinister as those laid at the door of Haliburton. Others are designed to give Harris wriggle-room. Lang is having an affair with his personal assistant, the comely Amelia Bly, who would otherwise be a dead ringer for Blair’s Downing Street aide Anji Hunter. The long-suffering ghostwriter even gets to bed the ex-PM’s wife.

These few fantasies are all that save Harris from the charge that he is out for revenge on Blair, if not for the second sacking of his closer friend Peter Mandelson, then for Bush-dictated foreign policy that saw the author ‘give up on’ a government whose election he initially welcomed. Last year’s Middle East debacle was apparently ‘the last straw’ for the already anti-war author; but he resists milking the irony that Blair is now a Middle East envoy, preferring a bleaker end for Lang.

Well, I thought the book was brilliant, fiction or not. And it had that delicious twist that all good thrillers should have at the end. Some aspects of the real Tony Blair’s life are, in fact, stranger than the fiction, though. For instance, who would have thought that this former Labour prime minister would be worth £20 million+ after earning about 1/130th of that sum as prime minister? How did he manage that? Speaking tours?? Of course not. His rich friends in America showed him how to exploit business loopholes, while his chancellor here fuelled the property boom for as long as he could get away with it – or as long as it took for half the cabinet to become property multi-millionaires, just like Blair (and Mandelson, of course). Just these facts alone stink more than anything Harris dreamt up in his book about Blair facing charges as a war criminal.

But great book it is, and certainly worth the read. You really won’t be able to put it down. As for the film, well, judging by the trailer, it’s very faithful to the text – and Pierce Brosnan, judging by the glimpses we get, has judged the character of Tony Blair Adam Lang to perfection. Add to that the fact that it’s a Polanski flick, and you would be forgiven for thinking that it’s unmissable.

I wonder if Blair will be going to see it. I’m damn sure Brown will be – on the sly, naturally.

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Listening to Andy Burnham on the way to work this rainy Tuesday morning was one of the less pleasant experiences of my life. What a load of tosh that idiot spouts, and in that ridiculous yob voice of his. I’ve never heard such a giant stream of steaming waffle, hissing piffle and stalling widdle in my entire life!
Life! Ah, life. Yes, indeed – life. As in ‘long life’ – and getting longer. My five year-old nephew, so we are told, can reasonably expect to live to the age of 100+. However, I think that figure could be even higher. The generation of my family born at the turn of the last century almost all died in their 80s. What is more, we read today that a horny old goat (who is 75) has just impregnated a woman.

It wouldn’t be unfair to imagine, therefore, that with medical technology advancing at the rate it is, my nephew, who will hit the royal telegram age in the year 2104, can ‘reasonably expect’ artificial organ replacements, bionic limbs and eyes, anti-aging gene therapy and, above all, a cure for cancer. And every bit of it will be available on the NHS (honest). With all that intervention, he can ‘reasonably expect’ to live until he’s 200 – and actively, too. He could be the first centurion daddy.

So what, I hear you scream, is the point of all this? I will tell you. The point is that the problem of care for the elderly is a problem we are facing now. It’s my parents who very soon will need the kind of care that only children and expensive professional ‘carers’ can provide. There are elderly people now who are on their own and struggling to cope, or have lost their life savings and equity to pay for the privilege of being neglected in some dump of a care home. (This was the result of one of the most iniquitous laws ever passed, in my view. But that’s another story).

It seems to me that all I heard from Burnham was a piece of pisspoor procrastination on a social issue that he doesn’t seem to get (well, he’s only young himself). Let’s set up a commission and see what they say in five year’s time, he suggested. Thank the Lord for the Big Ideas, eh readers? So, after his Death Tax suggestion was rightly rubbished, and ruled out by Darling, this whole thing appears to have been kicked into the very long grass by Labour, simply because it’s too big a challenge for them to confront.

The Conservatives, by contrast, have a plan that can be implemented now. Lansley was excellent on Radio 4. Sure, the insurance plan might not help people who are already in old people’s homes today, but it would certainly help my parents, who are heading in the same direction; give it a decade. By the time they need it, the system would be well-established – mature, even – and well-funded. The Labour grand plan for a National Care Service would, by that time, you can guarantee it, have been delayed, would be billions over-budget and just about to be scrapped. The Conservatives are telling us what’s do-able, and how to do it.

Labour just gives us pie-in-the-sky pipe dreams that wouldn’t work anyway. ‘Twas ever thus.

So the Tories had better win the next election – if nothing else, then for my parents’ sake! As for my nephew, well, he won’t be needing a National Care Service. He’ll be taking part in the Olympics when he’s 150 (in 2154 – I believe they’re being held in Kandahar that year).

Don’t get me wrong, care where care is needed is a decent idea. But it should be the duty of children to provide that care. That’s the real sign of a healthy society. I would expect, however – demand, even – that that sense of duty finally be recognised, and financially rewarded, by a Tory government. As for the State, well, its duty is clear: where there is no alternative, i.e., where there are no close family members who can provide support for their elderly or infirm loved one(s), or where that family, motivated by some form of perverse selfishness, has abrogated their duty and abandoned the needy member, the State intervenes.

Where the care becomes too difficult for the dutiful family, however, that’s when the Conservatives’ insurance scheme really will come into its own. It is not merely a step in the right direction – and Labour and Liberal Democrats won’t even admit that, remember – it is an excellent solution to a problem confronting Britain now. The Lib Dem spokes-idiot said that a similar scheme in France only had a “20% uptake”. What the Lib Dem spokes-idiot probably doesn’t know (or would care about if he did) is that the other 80% in France look after their own families. Always have, always will. So the problem of how we mend Britain’s broken society, where grown-up children turn their backs on sick or elderly relatives, is a separate, massive problem, you see, and one that no fantasy ‘National Care Service’ is going to fix.

The National Care Service is, therefore, a red herring (surprise surprise). Rather than opposing it with the expression “over my dead body”, however, (which seems to be tempting fate), I’ll just make a prediction: “National Care Service”, laugh out loud. Not in my lifetime. Not in anyone’s lifetime, for that matter. Certainly not my nephew’s. He won’t need the stupid thing.

And neither do we.

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Two things: First: Why has Vince “Preparing for Government” Cable been given the role of pointless avuncular arbitrator.

Oh, and second, Darling is being absolutely annihilated by Osborne, and far more devastatingly than I expected. Well done George.

The third thing is (three, three things): What the hell is Vince Cable for already? I do wish he’d shut the hell up and let the grown-ups (politically) get on with the show.

Update

And lo, Saint Vince of Cables gets the serious clap dose from certain members of the audience at the end. Well, that might have something to do with the fact that he’s a complete policy whore, being the Lib Dem who will never see office that he is, who will say anything to “pull”. But that fact will make no difference to tomorrow’s dumb mainstream media. Hey ho.

The fact that Osborne petered out more-than-somewhat towards the end concerns and irritates me in equal measure, however. Darling, and this saves Osborne to a vast extent, was, by contrast (sort of) a feeble, washed-out non-entity virtually all the way through.

So, forgetting the infinitely forgettable ‘Vince Factor’ forever, what we have seen here, overall, is a clear win for Osborne. But not, annoyingly, the decisive one it could and should have been.

Game (still) on.

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