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Archive for May, 2010

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You really couldn’t make it up if you tried. Now Danny Alexander, bad (very bad) choice of replacement for trougher David Laws at the Treasury, has been caught avoiding Capital Gains Tax – you know, the tax he’ll be responsible for ramping up as part of his new job. Sorry, but Cameron has set a precedent, has a principle he must (and I think will) follow, and so has to fire Alexander too. There’ll be fewer tears over his loss I imagine than there were for ‘rising star’ and ‘genius’, David Laws.

Some will be asking why this is happening. It’s very simple really and it has nothing to do with homophobic witch-hunts, Labour sting operations (lol) or right wing, anti-coaltion smear conspiracies. That’s loony stuff. The reason is that while they were the no-hoper, hotchpotch third party that generally behaved like weasels in a sack behind the scenes (still do), during the expenses scandal they were basically ignored by the Telegraph in what was a target rich environment. There were only so many pages in the paper each day, and the editors rightly preferred to focus on the major players and the yellows got away with it, even to point where Clegg actually thought he could boast about it in the Commons! This is the hubris. Now that senior Lib Dems, to their huge surprise and thanks to a rare general election outcome, have found themselves doing real government jobs, they are subject to that delayed scrutiny. Moreover, it is all the more intense because they are being picked off one by one instead of en masse, as the Tories and Labour MPs and ministers were. So much the better.

It goes without saying – for me at least – that the Lib Dems fully deserve everything they get, and so the sight of senior MPs and some well known mainstream political bloggers defending one of them, often on the most ridiculous of grounds, is damn well nauseating. One good thing will come out of this new wave of expenses revelations, however: pretty soon, the Conservative government will run out of Lib Dems to put in the vital Treasury Chief Sec. role (they’ll be on the Sarah Teather human mouse pretty soon).

Then maybe the country will get the person it really needs in that job – John Redwood – and, I predict, with the coalition still more or less in tact.

Every “cloud” as they say…

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This is the global lending merry go-round as explained for the general public by two leading Australian economists, wisely employing a variation of the Socratic method.

There is an answer to all this, you know, and it’s called ‘cuts’. I wonder if young Danny Alexander is up to the challenge. Ha! Fat chance.

Remember John Redwood? We might have had a chance with him.

Hat tip: Tangled Web

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Iain Dale and others are reporting that David Laws has gone. One thing: if true, it is important to establish the precise reason for his ‘resignation’ (sacking by Cameron). Having said that, it is also important to establish what were not the reasons too. For instance, certainly not the reason would be the one David Blackburn has just supposed in a uncharacteristically shoddy and pretty wrongheaded piece for him:

According to Con Home and several other sources, Laws has resigned. This is hugely regrettable as Laws is a star performer and I feel he has been the victim of a media gay-hunt that belongs to a bygone era. The sums of money involved are slight in comparison to some, and there are arguments that other ministers should resign for having committed similar or worse offences and for having shown markedly less contrition. But it is refreshing that a minister would resign over a personal transgression with haste and dignity.

This is wrong on so many levels, it’s hard to know where to begin. First, Laws has had little or no chance to demonstrate he was a ‘star performer’. He was starting to look promising and seemed to be grasping the wisdom of the Tory policy on the debt and structural deficit. Well done for that, but stardom it hardly warrants. Second, to ‘feel’ that he was the ‘victim’ of some mythical ‘media gay hunt’ is arrant nonsense. His sexuality had nothing to do with it, aside from the fact that he was clearly embarrassed about it and this provided him with a motive for being so incautious with his expenses and then concealing this potentially damaging fact from his new boss. There was and is no ‘media gay hunt’. Outrage about his public/private hypocrisy, yes – bigotry and prejudice, no. That is in Blackburn’s imagination and, I think, was uttered because of some kind of personal disappointment rather than any genuine understanding of the sequence and significance of events [like I have, lol]. Again, I’ve got to say that I find that surprising from this writer.

Third, and most significantly, Blackburn makes some sort of point about the relative scale of previous incidences of irregular expenses arrangements with a frankly childish ‘they didn’t so why does he?’ argument. Well, if he thinks that that false equivalence will wash with anyone then he hasn’t understood idea-one of what’s been going on here. Cameron stood on a ticket of cleaning up parliament and being tough with his ministers if they step out of line in principle. The amounts involved (and 40k seems like a lot to me) are not important. The way the money was channeled is. Laws bent the rules in a deeply suspicious way, far more even, if we are to entertain Blackburn’s relativist argument for a moment, than your average trougher who simply took advantage of those rules but did so by the book, i.e. without adding their own, personal interpretation that advantaged them, or, indeed, a loved one, even more.

As to his mention of ‘other ministers’, who, I wonder, does he mean? Cameron? Labour ministers? Cameron can hardly fire Labour ministers who’ve already lost their jobs, for heaven’s sake, so what on earth does he mean? Your guess is as good as mine. Suffice to say, it’s the most muddled-up post of his I think I’ve ever read.

So much for the Blackburn gay witch-hunt theory. The real reason why Laws had to go is because Cameron is keeping his word. He has always understood the scale of anger at the expenses scandal. He also realised that Laws could not be talking about painful cuts in public spending one second and defending his own venality another. That’s called an ‘untenable position’.

In other words, the only thing Laws’ sacking has demonstrated to me is not that he is dignified – I’m sure he is – but that David Cameron really does mean what he has says and that, dear readers, is the really ‘refreshing’ thing about this new government and about this incident.

But what follows is crucial. A sound, imaginative replacement must be found. Blackburn says, alarmingly, that it might be the lunatic Huhne. That would be a disaster not just for this government but for the entire country and Cameron must intervene to stop it instantly.

The only man with the gravity and intellect for a job like CST in a time of economic trauma and dislocation is John Redwood. Whether the Prime Minister likes it or not, Redwood is the right man for the needs of this country at this parlous point in its history.

What the Libdems want simply doesn’t matter.

Update:

Well, they’ve got it badly wrong and given Danny Alexander the job according to ConHome. That is a disastrous decision and it will come back to haunt this coalition. You cannot compromise on the economy for the sake of the coalition and certainly not with someone as wet behind the ears, untested and lightweight as 37 year-old Alexander (yes, I know, he’s been bigged up over the past few weeks because of the negotiations. Big deal).

Too many Tories are going to be too pissed off too quickly with any more appointments like this one. This may even be the one that tips them over. I think this is the first real sign that this coaltion cannot and will not last long. For one thing, unlike the corrupt Labourists, as amply demonstrated by Brown, Conservatives do not believe in the idea of clinging on to power at any price. The coalition could soon be toast.

Quite frankly, after the promotion of another Libdem lightweight to a cabinet role for which he is most certainly not qualified, especially at such a crucial moment for the British economy, I’m not sure how I feel about that prospect yet. Maybe, after all, it wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

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Friedman Wisdom

You can find the rest of this dazzlingly wise, vitally significant interview by clicking on the video.

I truly hope it provides you with as much optimism as it’s inspired in me. We haven’t lost yet.

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Shaping up as a half-decent, expensively-educated, millionaire Chief Treasury Secretary though he might have been, I’m awfully sorry, but David Laws’ political arse is grass. He can’t argue the case for public spending cuts when he, apparently, has been pretty happy to sponge off the state on behalf of his partner for the longest time.

So the only question to me is: who will fire him? His party leader, Clegg, or his boss, the Prime Minister?

My view? Cameron must pull the trigger immediately because what Laws did particularly is just the sort of troughing, fiddling, pocket-lining, venal rule-bending Cameron has been condemning in principle and often for over a year. He fought the election on that platform, for heaven’s sake!

Frankly, Laws fired himself the moment he chose not to reveal any of this as being a potential problem to his boss before he was appointed (I do not for one moment believe he didn’t realise or didn’t understand the rules – in fact it’s surely hard to believe that of a double first Cambridge economist – and it won’t wash regardless, even if he sticks to that lame line).

But who to replace him? Well, how about John Redwood? I think it’s high time Cameron picked someone like him for the cabinet anyway. Besides, he’s much smarter and more experienced even than Laws in many ways, and genuinely believes and can explain the Friedmanite solution to Labour’s debt crisis that we now so desperately need. He’d also be a handy bulwark against the economic mixed brew that is Saint Vince and his presence would vastly help to shore up the Tory back benches. A win-win scenario potentially, then, both for the party and, in my humble, for the country.

Oh, and sucks to the bloody Lib Dums. They can either suck it up and stay in government, or they can destroy this blessed coalition in a fit of indefensible pique.

I just can’t wait to see how Deputy Nick decides to handle this one.

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I was informed by a reliable source today (my dad) that the BBC’s new plans for recruiting weather presenters could well be in breach of every employment and equality law ever made. He told me that he heard from a friend he bumped into while he was getting his newspapers this morning that the BBC is planning to employ only Muslims from now on to present the weather – and no one else. When he asked the bloke what prompted this hairbrained decision, he was told:

“Because sometimes the weather is Sunni, but more often than not it’s Shiite.”

Naturally, I was outraged. Jokes really don’t come much worse than that.

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Hey guys, unsurprising news: the BBC decide to defy with self-righteous Dimbledonian indignance the reasonable request of the government for a Labour front bencher to be on the QT panel and not, repeat not, the hideous denialist, contaminated, corrosive, bloodstained liar Alistair Campbell. So the BBC, with infantile predictability, nails its colours to the Labour mast once more, and drags the burnt out Campbell monster in anyway.

Not sure I actually need to watch the programme now. The BBC’s agenda is pretty clear, with Campbell and Piers Morgan (would you believe) pathetically shoehorned onto on the panel for cheap, student-activist political reasons. Both men are basically worthless in themselves, seeking to justify their failed public existences through some sort of loudmouth hyperidentification with causes about which they have, and never have had, any comprehension. Ignore their lies and ruthless, utterly corrupt, insatiable vanity.

My absolute, incandescent fury at the ongoing hypocrisy of Labour and its nabobs, even in opposition (after they’ve been brought to democratic book!) and of its corrupt, lightweight mouthpiece that is the BBC, is really the only thing that’s keeping this blog going these days.

You know, I think I’m finally starting to get my mojo back, after the deep – and deeply felt – disappointment of no overall majority, a hung parliament and the coalition.

Well, I’m glad about that even if noone else is likely to be 🙂

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Widely regarded as the best ever ventriloquist – and the funniest – Ray Allen passed away yesterday at the age of 79. Part of my childhood sadly gone, but not forgotten. Gottle o’ geer!

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Nick Davies, a quick bit of Wiki-ing reveals, is a 57 year-old Oxford-educated, Mirror-trained, former Guardian and now a freelance journalist who contributes to the Observer. He wrote a book a few years ago much loved by some of his peers in the professional media called Flat Earth News that basically rubbished 76% of journalism in the United Kingdom and beyond (he was that precise) . I’m not going to plug it. I thought its basic premise was weak (pretending that the underlying purpose of journalism, particularly newspaper journalism, is some sort of crusade for originality and not merely to sell news, recycled or otherwise, is ridiculous and naive). I also thought it was boring and did not finish it.

Anyway, the upshot of his interview this morning on Radio 4 was, simply, that having gratefully been given the chance to plug once more his dated tome, he merely repeated his feeble assertion (now equally dated) that only the Guardian and the BBC do real news. There was no alternative view in the interview, just some American fembot from the Washington Post giving almost exactly the same views, but in ‘Murcan. I nearly blew my horn in disgust (see how mad I was?). Aside from the fact that the BBC hasn’t broken an original story in, I would say, oh 26 years ( that would have been the Ethiopian famine in 1984), its journalist standards are non-existent. It does not so much report news, vastly over-resourced and over-staffed thanks to its generous taxpayer-funded budget though it is, as filter it through a BBC lens, which itself can be broadly deconstructed into three primary layers: obsessive Political Correctness, social statism and left wing political orthodoxy. There are other layers, such as climate change orthodoxy, but while they are just as significant in how they form the BBC’s editorial stance and its recruitment policy, they are secondary ones. And woe betide anyone who does not toe the BBC line, and who has slipped through the recruitment sieve. They will not be working there for long (pack your bags Andrew Gilligan and Jeff Randall. You’re fired!). The Guardian is sort of the newsprint arm of the BBC. The less said about it, the better. I’m surprised it doesn’t think it’s entitled to state funding, just like its TV sister, the Beeb. Perhaps it does!
There are one or two other things to say about the Graun, actually. Compare and contrast, for instance: in 2009, with the expenses scandal, the Daily Telegraph broke the biggest story of the decade bar none. All its many stories – and there were dozens – were sourced from completely original material – the most original you can get as a matter of fact: raw data. The Telegraph’s expert, highly professional coverage then rocked parliament to its very foundations, and rightly so, and very nearly brought down a government. It has led to six prosecutions so far, and rising, and the retirement of scores of MPs. This story, which drove the entire news cycle for nearly two months – and still is to a certain degree over a year later – has to all intents and purposes changed the political face and historical direction of the United Kingdom, perhaps forever. It could well have saved parliament from permanent and long-term decline and forced a new government to ring the changes and call time on the last rotten government’s (whom the BBC and the Guardian supported) institutional corruption, venality and dishonesty. What the Telegraph achieved there was not just a spectacular piece of classic scoop journalism a la Watergate, complete with their own Deep Throat, they did this country a service on a scale that will not be repeated for a long, long time. I wonder what kind of a dent that put in Nick Davies’ bravely unverifiable “statistics”.
And now, by comparison, let’s ask what the Guardian did in 2009 to further the cause of investigative journalism which, one assumes, is not driven by any political agenda. Ah yes, it tried to get Andy Coulson fired from his new job because of something he wasn’t responsible for (a court said) in his old one, glossed over the Damian Green arrest, virtually ignored the other big scandal of last year (Climategate) – or tried to spin it away – and spun around like a headless chicken editorially as it tried to work which loser to back. The BBC did much the same thing, though in its case it’s unnecessary to come out and actually back someone or misreport stories it doesn’t like. Oh no. It can be far more cunning than that with its spin. Its editors can simply cover what they feel like covering, invite whatever guests they like on talk shows to gloss over distasteful ‘badthink’ news, ignore political stories that might place the Tories in a favourable light and emphasise ones that might not, and do the reverse for their buddies in the Labour party. They can manipulate public opinion by generating it (do you know how easy it is to splice together four punters in the street saying they agree with something and leave out the four dozen who said they didn’t?) and they can be openly hostile or dismissive of anything or any one they don’t like (like the Israelis). Simply put, they test the limits of what they think can get away with all the time, everywhere. And believe me, they can get away with a hell of a lot.
I’ve hardly scratched the surface. But now, I hope, you can at least see why I thought Nick Davies’ nonsensical comment on the BBC, about the BBC and the Guardian and journalism generally, was worth a mention. Whatever his journalistic credentials – and he is well-regarded by his colleagues from across the spectrum of the MSM apparently – he is not very honest and he’s not at all right.
Still, though, I suppose we can let him off. He was only trying to sell his book, after all.

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I’m absorbing Question Time reluctantly and all it’s (predictably, these days) generating in me is an intensifying mood of futility, especially after the pathetic Clegg/Cameron long grass double act earlier today. This ‘strong and stable government’ nonsense is a dangerous misunderstanding on the part, particularly, of the Tories of what the general election result really meant.

People have had a bellyful of ‘strong and stable governments’ that are basically all mendacious mouth and no trousers, having had 13 years of a catastrophic version of ‘strong and stable’ Labour government. We’re through with elected dictatorships when they’re actually elected. But this increasingly disconnected, disingenuous, dysfunctional Libdum/Tory stitch-up version of a ‘strong and stable government’ certainly wasn’t voted for – by anyone! It’s the wittiest form of ‘strong and stable government’ I think I’ve ever seen. And the joke’s on us.

People, if anything can be read into the outcome of the general election (and not a lot can), did not vote for a ‘strong and stable government’ that would carry on for five years as if Cameron’s and Clegg’s convenient interpretation was the only one that mattered. What people actually ‘voted for’ (if a mass ballot really can have a mind and character of its own, which itself borders on insulting inanity) is a weak and unstable government that would have to make policy according to principle, be answerable to the people every day of its existence, and would have to rely on pure guts and political nous just to get through one parliament.

A minority Tory government would have delivered that, and would have shown the country that the party still had a soul and some real courage. It would have earned them a proper victory down the line, too, possibly with a new leader who genuinely represented those erstwhile traits of the Conservative institution.

As it is, forget what I’ve said before, (although I’ve been pretty consistent in the post-election propaganda landscape), the middle class Richmond/Notting Hill shits are in charge again (this time with a bluish-yellow hue rather than a red one). They’ve welded Parliament’s doors shut to the likes of me and you, and are now talking to themselves while really, honestly imagining, laughably, that they are running the country.

It did not take long, but the consequences, as the world economy tanks – this time for real – will be awe-inspiring and devastating. We could have had a weak but principled and determined government. Instead, we don’t even have a ‘strong and stable government’. All we really have is weakness, fudge, paralysis and hot air.

Not impressed. Plus ca change, right?

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