Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

I’m oddly happy with the state of the news just now what with Mandelson coming out and scuppering the irrelevance that is the Labour leadership fiasco and that tragic Moat bloke finally doing our idiot police a favour and putting himself out of their heavily-armed misery, and the awesome Booker planting another hobnailed boot in the sweaty groin of climate change fanaticism.

The great Gove’s rearguard after his crew’s cockups and his brave resurrection of political accountability seems to be working reasonably well too. Excellent.

In other words, there’s nothing much around that’s annoying enough to talk about, so I think this a downtime moment – a time for some nice music, perhaps.

How about this: “Dream Away” by my hero, George Harrison?

I suppose we’re all “Time Bandits” really, one way or another. We all dream of reliving our past so we can correct it in whatever way from a position of knowledgable strength. That’s the ammunition known as hindsight. Sadly, of course, it’s an impotent trick of memory.

Be content you own the human gift that is regret. It keeps us little people honest – and (oddly) free 🙂

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Whether it’s a typical public sector ingrained sense of entitlement or some quite new and unique phenomenon, the BBC simply isn’t learning. Now that Michael Lyons, chairman of the BBC Trust, has been publicly contradicted by a putative inferior in the form of the Director General, Mark Thompson, over the publication of salaries, one can safely assume that the watering down of Lyons’ remarks that we heard on Radio 4 this morning will only gather pace. If Lyons doesn’t regain control of his underlings pretty quickly it will simply serve to send the clearest of messages to people that the corporation is out of control.

But why has Mark Thompson decided to go down this road of secrecy? He says it’s because the BBC needs to be able to compete for the ‘best talent’ and its being forced to reveal pay levels when other stations don’t would lead to their having an unfair advantage.

OK, let’s deal with that first then: what utter, dishonest tosh! He and his ilk really do think we’re that stupid. The BBC already has a massive ‘unfair advantage’ in that it can legally extort under penalty of fine and imprisonment a large sum of money from the vast majority of the adult population of Great Britain. And yet the salaries go on secretly increasing and programmes just keep on getting worse and worse. That’s not just my opinion, the BBC Trust has just said so too. Let’s not hear talk of unfair advantages again then, lest we move on to the BBC’s virtual monopoly of radio in this country and its sinister and vastly expensive occupation of vast tracts of cyberspace.

How has this come to pass? Because people like Thompson over the years have transformed the BBC from public service broadcaster, paid for out of a modest appliance licence fee, into some form of parasitical organism which pretends benevolence but in actual fact is gradually sucking the life out of its host. The BBC’s host is Britain. You can say whatever you like about the BBC, but if it is positive, then I’m likely to disagree. Why? Well, you want to know the real reason why Thompson doesn’t want salaries published? I’ll give you a clue: it has nothing to do with paying incredible fortunes for top talent – you know, ‘top talent’ like Fiona Bruce or Jonathan “Top Ranker” Woss (at least he’s gone) – and everything to do with his ever-ballooning salary and the generous salaries of the managerial class that’s taken over that organisation. That’s how the parasitism incubates itself and then spreads throughout the entire organism. It has managed to reproduce itself, with its eggs usually being transmitted through the crap that comes out of the mouths of public sector managers everywhere, in just about every public body in the nation now.

It happened to the BBC some time ago (perhaps the BBC was the first); it happened to the NHS, another deeply infected body, generally over the last 13 nightmare years of a Labour government. Thompson, like all fakes, is uncertain about whether he’s worth the money he pays himself. If he is certain, then he should declare all and stop hiding behind this fatuous argument about ‘attracting the best talent’ (for one thing, it’s not the BBC’s job to compete with commercial television, for another, its job is to grow new talent, not hire overpriced old hands). Failing that, Thompson, after these new Telegraph revelations, should resign – or be sacked by the coalition government. New broom and all that.

In the end, the most depressing thing about all this is that, for whatever pathetic reason, since it’s now crystal clear the BBC just isn’t learning, it must be forced to see the error of its ways with sackings and the genuine threat of ‘restructuring’.

Humph. If this interesting David Blackburn take on events ‘t Beeb is anything to go on, then fat chance!

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At least that copper’s happy

I almost missed Charles Moore’s interesting review of a startling new biography about Edward Heath in yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph. Had it not been for the fact that I was looking up the latest footy scores (7-0 to Portugal against the North Koreans, eh? See article below) I would never have seen it and missed a treat. The book is by Philip Ziegler who I imagine is the same author who in the late 1960s wrote one of my favourite books about the Black Death. Hang on, I’ll check.

(Time passes…)

It is he.

Moore gives some examples from what we are to believe is a whole litany of character flaws associated with Heath. I’d always wondered why my grandmother threw a (full) cup of tea at her television when his face appeared on it 30-plus years ago. Well, perhaps here’s why:

Although he faithfully sets out the virtues – honesty, courage and determination – Ziegler gives a catalogue of blemishes. Here is a tiny selection of the numerous examples. At the Oxford Union, Heath declared that, “Women have no original contribution to make to our debates.” He did not answer the plaintive letters of Kay Raven, the only person who ever came close to being his girlfriend, but when she finally gave him up and married someone else, Heath was angry with her. In sharp contrast to the young Margaret Roberts (soon to be Thatcher), who stood, in the 1950 general election, in the seat that adjoined Heath’s, young Ted took his constituency workers for granted and treated them like children.

Heath grabbed perks and luxuries, scoffing chocolates by the boxful, demanding money for his travels from commercial interests and taking no trouble about the comfort of those who had to travel with him. When, as Leader of the Opposition, he took up sailing, his yacht Morning Cloud cost £20,000 a year to run. Various businessmen paid for the yacht, but Heath was not worried by the danger of a quid pro quo: he got around the problem by never thanking them. “Gratitude,” as Ziegler puts it, “was not one of his more marked characteristics.”

At this point we realise that Heath must have been an absolute nightmare to work with, for, near or under. It’s also pretty clear that no matter how smart and even gifted he might have been, and I am unconvinced that genuinely intelligent people are unpleasant to those who work for them (Maggie wasn’t), he had not clue-one about motivating people and would not have survived for long beyond his cloistered, soft-furnished world. And yet it goes on. More is yet revealed about the man who took us in to the EEC on the back of a pack of lies, out-Laboured Labour with the NUM and behaved as though he and only he understood human nature, when quite the opposite was patently the case. As Moore goes on:

He had a huge sense of entitlement…[but]…as Ziegler points out, he had no gift for exposition, because he was utterly uninterested in what others thought. This is why people felt cheated, and still do to this day, about the terms on which Heath took Britain into the EEC. He never took the British people into his confidence.

Once, when attacking free-market attitudes, Heath said: “What distinguishes man from the animals is his desire and his ability to control and shape his environment.” Is that really the key distinction? This arid, managerial philosophy was reductive of human freedom and possibility. It also ensured that the country was very badly run. The famous U-turn over economic policy and state support for industry, the rigidities of the Industrial Relations Act, the hopelessness of trying to control prices and incomes, the defeat by the miners were all related to the beliefs and character of the man who presided over these disasters.

Moore then goes on to say that Ziegler’s book provides a first class illustration of Heath’s character and its flaws and his subsequent failures, but the historian does not provide any political explanations, so Moore then offers one of his own which resonates with another, recently departed, deeply flawed but clever prime minster of Britain. Moore says, of Heath, tellingly:

Heath’s future opponent, Keith Joseph, persuaded Margaret Thatcher to vote for him as leader in 1965 on the grounds that “Ted has a passion to get Britain right”. Perhaps he did. He was certainly brave in pursuing what he believed in. But he got Britain wrong.

I can’t help thinking he had Gordon Brown in mind when he wrote that. But then it struck me: of course he didn’t. There’s no comparison. Heath might have been a selfish, puffed-up, interventionist Tory Europhile with a talent for music and boats, but he was no liar (not even on Europe – I suspect he really believed them) and he knew how to go when the time came. He also stayed in Parliament till nearly his dying day, maybe to spite Margaret Thatcher (“that evil woman”) or – more likely in my view – because he liked being an MP and he was good at it. But where’s Gordon? The contrasts with Brown are there for all to see, and I’ve just touched on one or two of them.

The point is, if Heath was a terrible Prime Minister (and I’m certainly not alone in feeling he was), then Brown was a catastrophe (ditto). If you were forced to choose between the lesser of these two weevils, my guess is that you’d plump for Heath, though through gritted teeth, naturally. I would.

My God, we don’t half pick ’em.

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Ich bin ein Old Holborns?

I use the term “political classes” quite a bit on this blog but I’ve never really bothered to define what the term actually means, at least to me. Well, Charles Moore on the Daily Telegraph used it too in his bit on the death of the Euro today (which, incidentally, is quite a good read in my humble, whether you are a Europhile, Eurosceptic or just curious). He talks about the “German political classes”, which, on the face of it, seemed to me to be sensible enough being, as it is, a sort of currency term that appears to refer to the totality of our, or their, elected representatives as some kind of separate entity to the rest of society, and harks back to days before universal suffrage and when hereditary entitlement was purely a class phenomenon.

However, I wasn’t satisfied with my own explanation so I phoned a friend and asked her what she thought it might mean, reminding her that “body politic”, for instance, by contrast refers to the entire electorate and not to the collective body of elected representitives (a confusion I’ve seen even on the more august political blogs). Couldn’t it be the case that we are all part of the “political classes” one way or other, given that in an advanced democracy the people, theoretically, are where political power ultimately rests? Isn’t the term therefore mistaken in this day and age?

“Oh no,” she answered, “that’s not right at all.” What did she mean, I asked, fascinated. “Well, it’s simple really. ‘Political classes’ refers to anyone who stands for election, lies to win it, spends the next five years planning how to get re-elected, leaves running the country to a professional civil service, and all the while gathers as much expenses money, lobbying patronage, consultancies and directorships as possible so that if the unimaginable happens and they’re voted out by an even more effective liar, then they’ve got all that to fall back on, plus the gold-plated pension plan. That’s what “political classes” really means, with very few exceptions and regardless of political affiliation”.

As she said, simple really. Or is it?

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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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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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While the cuckoo Brown parasitically remains in the Number 10 nest, and the country’s real Prime Minister, David Cameron, gallantly waits and, with refreshing integrity, allows the defeated demagogue a window of opportunity through which he can choose to leave with some semblance of dignity intact, on the near horizon the storm clouds gather.

The country, and the economy, cannot wait on Gordon Brown’s – and Labour’s – wake-up call. He and they are now so divorced from reality that, so the left press seems to be reflecting, they imagine there is some way they can remain in power without a democratic mandate by doing some sort of deal with the Lib Dems. They are deluded if they think that will work, even if Cameron rejects the Yellow party’s demands. They are even more deluded if they think, as the equally unelected Mandelson does, that a change of leader will sweeten the pill. It won’t. If Labour wants to commit final suicide, that would be one of methods.

But this is all equally devastating for the hard core Tory right. They can’t enter into a deal with anyone, on principle. They think Cameron has failed, so he must be punished. No, Heffer-types, you irrational, Thatcher-fetishists, Cameron triumphed. Not by quite enough, but he triumphed.

So I’m one of those people who believes that, yes, with hindsight, Cameron might have stuck to the tax-cutting guns a bit more. But I also believe that what was more important is exactly what Cameron has delivered: weaning the country off the lies, spin, bribes and decadence of New Labour, a horrible cocktail of expensive deceit to which it had become addicted. He’s achieved that, so he’s done what we needed and what he promised.

So now I will bow to his judgment on the final strategy for removing the cuckoo incumbent, including, if necessary, a deal with the Liberal Democrats and, if necessary, a well-equipped army detachment to get the job done on our behalf at gunpoint. It might yet come to that with a lunatic like Brown.

But that deal with the Lib Dems. What, precisely, is worrying about it? If you are an honest Tory, then the answer is “nothing”, including a voting reform referendum (as Iain Dale explains) and cabinet posts for the likes of Cable. If you think the Conservative Party belongs, somehow, to you, then you are hyper-identifying (like Heffer) and need to move out and along. Join the Heffer Party for all I care. Just don’t pretend you’re a Tory, or that you’re a grown-up.

As Michael Portillo says (he who seems to be a bit of a last-minute convert to Cameron, amazingly):

If the result is that the party gains power, the internal argument is over before it starts.

True Conservatives need to get real if they want Brown gone once and for all time. Otherwise, that Scottish criminal will exploit the self-indulgence of the leading, Tory party, ignore the fact that he has just devastated his own party in Westminster, and continue to “lead” – squat – by some miracle (also known as “constitutional loophole”), from/in Number 10. Cameron understands the change we need, and he’s about to deliver it (he’s going to eject Brown once and for all, one way or another. First principles!)

In other words, priority one is to kill this Brown zombie. And what Cameron is doing now with Clegg will achieve that core, common aim. Criticise this, and you are either a world-class numbskull (like Heffer) or a political fetishist who thrives on discord.

Only, while you’re deciding, do remember your country. Cameron seems to have.

But if you can’t do that, then next time just vote Kipper and be done with it. Only don’t expect anyone to take you seriously – being the over-starched, self-important Hefferite that you clearly are – ever again.

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