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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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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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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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Whatever Nick Clegg’s chancer’s instincts are telling him about whether he can go in for what, for him, would be the ‘big win’ of a ministerial role in either a Tory or (God forbid) a Labour government after this general election, all evidence thus far, in terms of his infantile campaign conduct and his hideously ignorant, arrogant attitude towards the country he thinks really desires his leadership in some form or another, points to the absolute certainty that this individual (just like the party that installed him as its leader) is totally unfit for any form of office.

Don’t believe me? Nile Gardener, on his Telegraph blog, explains why:

Nick Clegg’s sickening disdain for both the military and intelligence communities was openly on display yet again earlier today in an interview on GMTV. In reply to a critique of his foreign and defence policy in The Times by three former senior national security officials, Clegg responded in typically condescending tones:

“I am not going to take lectures from a bunch of retired establishment figures about the security of this country.”

“Some of them actually made the biggest mistakes in the run-up to the Iraq War. I am not going to apologise for calling, for example, for a proper inquiry into the allegations that somehow the British security services made us complicit in torture.”

There is something breathtakingly arrogant about a party leader who feels he can sneer with impunity at highly distinguished figures that have served their country and dedicated much of their lives to keeping Britain safe, including a former chief of defence staff, Lord Guthrie, who fought as a squadron commander in the SAS. He can disagree with their views all he likes, but to mock them in derisive terms is highly insulting. At the same time Clegg seems obsessed with dredging up the spectre of the Iraq War, which has barely featured in this election despite his best efforts, and accusing Britain’s intelligence services of complicity in torture, which only serves the interests of Britain’s enemies.

As I wrote in my op-ed piece earlier today, Nick Clegg is the first major party leader to run for Prime Minister on an anti-British ticket. He is filled with a self-loathing for his nation and its institutions, which came across in spades in his response to The Times letter. I cannot think of a candidate for Prime Minister in recent memory who has accused his own country of involvement in torture. That is a damning indictment of both Nick Clegg’s leadership and his vision for the future of Britain.

Forget tactical voting. If you vote Lib Dem, maybe you’ll get Lib Dem! That’s strong enough reason on its own for any wavering voters tempted to turn to the Yellows to think again and do the right thing. If you want Brown out, you have to vote Cameron.

But if, for some peculiar reason, you honestly want five more years of Brown, then vote Brown – if you really have to. So be it – you are who you are and it’s a free election.

But to vote for any years of the unutterable faker and Labour-lite cypher, Nick Clegg, is to betray your ideals and beliefs and to betray, if the evidence of Clegg’s own spiteful, anti-democratic, anti-British words are anything to go by, your own country too. Who the hell does this idiot think he is?

So do not vote for a man like Clegg just because you still doubt David Cameron or because you’ve been told it’s somehow a smart tactic. It isn’t.

Whatever your political inclinations either way, you’d never forgive yourself if your actions resulted in any form of a Clegg-tainted government.

I wouldn’t.

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I was surprised to learn from Sky News this morning that the latest general election economics debate, if I heard right, will be between George Osborne, Vince Cable and…er…Peter Mandelson.

Hang on a minute, do they mean Lord Peter “We’re all fighting to get re-elected” Mandelson, Business Secretary (among many other hats)? He’s not Chancellor of the Exchequer as well these days is he? That’s Alistair Darling, isn’t it?
Have I missed something? Has Darling come down with an inexplicable stomach complaint (soon after having tea and crumpets with the Evil One yesterday afternoon, no doubt)?
If I haven’t missed something, however, but there’s no highly suspicious sudden sickness involved (it’d have to be a pretty serious affliction to force you to miss your own debate seven days before the election, wouldn’t it?), then we are all entitled to ask a grave question about this very fishy affair: where the hell is Ali?
I think we should be told.
PS: If someone knows, by the way, why Darling has been elbowed, do let me know in the comments.
I wonder if George knows…
==Update==
Not entirely my fault because this wasn’t made clear on the news – or I was half asleep – but the three mentioned above are all giving speeches to the Institute of Directors today, not debating, according to Sky.com.
Even so, the question remains: where’s Darling!
Or, looking at it another way, why not send Clarke into bat against Mandelson instead of Osborne whose eyes, let’s face it, are probably still watering after being on the receiving end of a couple of severe spankings in the past administered with thinly disguised fetishistic relish by the Lord of the Lies.
Ken Clarke, in contrast, owns Mandy’s ass.

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Cleggmania grips Britain!

Far out man! Scrap the Bomb! LSD rules! “Liberal Sychedelic (sic) Democrats”. Clegg’s bigger than Jesus, man! Gotta grow a beard, dude. And get some sandals. Free love!

(Good effort from one of Guido’s imaginative minions.)

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Deja Vu

Today, like every other weekday, began with the usual routine for me: up at around 6.30; ablutions; cup of coffee; quick spin of the hound; 7.30am sharp, Liberal Democrat News conference on three BBC channels….

Hang on. What was that last one again? A Liberal Democrat News Conference. Every damn morning I’m faced not with the latest news about scary ash clouds not damaging 747s at all but still closing down the country, but with Nick “My Dad’s Richer Than Dave’s Dad” Clegg banging on about hopeless Libdum ‘policies’ (today it was the turn of the bankers. Vince wasn’t there, though. Curious, that). He gets a full half hour of free airtime from the BBC every morning just when most people will be checking out the news, too.

I did what I usually do, seeing as I haven’t heard anything fresh, or worthwhile, from the Libdums for months, and switched back to the Murdoch channel. They don’t carry it – usually. But shock horror! There he was again! Trotting out his endless, codified claptrap once more, relentlessly. To be fair, though, Sky only aired the first bit (praise the Lord).

But the BBC. Sheesh! They’ve got a nerve. If you only watched the BBC’s news coverage, and only in the mornings, you would be forgiven for thinking the Libdums were the only party in the country. So why is the Beeb blatantly backing the yellows now? Well, not only are they biased, but they’re not even that bothered about hiding it any more – perhaps as this latest scandal about a now-suspended BBC ‘complaints’ manager (and Labour candidate) partly demonstrates. It seems their tiresomely – and tirelessly – left wing editors and managers have finally decided that Labour can’t win, so, with brazen cynicism, they’re going to try to make sure that if they can’t have their beloved party, they’ll make it as hard as possible for the Tories to form a government by splitting the vote.

Sound crazy? Just remember who we’re dealing with here. They despise the Tories quite a lot more than they despise the Liberals, half of whom are ‘social democrats’ (socialists) as it is. Whatever the ins and outs of it, and I doubt it’s a conspiracy, but it is undoubtedly an attitude, the BBC is now buying into the hung parliament trope (or ‘balanced’ parliament, as it was referred to on the Today programme by one of the presenters this morning, no doubt in deference to Alex Salmond), and buying in big style.

This only annoys me slightly less than shutting down the entire UK’s aviation industry because the Met Office and the EU says we have to. I put the BBC into the same category as those two menaces to a free and productive society.

But before we put all the BBC chiefs up against the wall, can’t we just have a little less of the Libdums? Pretty please? It’s getting beyond a joke.

Or is there an argument for letting Clegg get overexposed, so everyone can eventually see him for the pseudo-socialist, public school-educated airhead that he really is? And how utterly shallow and confused the party he leads is in reality, too? Interesting conundrum to me, that.

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