Saturday, 31 October 2009
Another week, another Lords' scandal. This fine figure of a man is the Noble Lord Rosser (with an R). He is also known among his noble friends as The Hon Baron Rosser of Ickenham in the London Burgh of Hillingdon.
The good lord is an ex-trade unionist, who in his day, railed against the fat cats who rode the gravy train. But in a typical case of poacher turned gamekeeper, on his appointment to the House of Lords in 2004, Rosser got himself a first class return ticket on that transport of delight.
It seems that in 2007 the noble Baron bought himself a flat in Chippingham, Wiltshire, for the sum of £240,000, whilst retaining the four-bedroomed “family home” in the capital. He then informed the House of Lords authorities that his main residence was, in fact, in Wiltshire. This meant that he was able to avail himself of the £174 a night accommodation allowance available to members of the upper house whose main residence is not in London. So what happens is he lives in his Ickenham family home and pockets the cash that we have generously made available for the payment of hotel bills.
Nice one Fat Cat.
Thus far only records for the year 2007-2008 are available and they show that Rosser (with an R) claimed a total of £19,461 without having to show receipts. If he has continued to claim at the same rate he may have made off with somewhere in the region of £50,000.
As is the story with so many of these peers who are taking us for monkeys, his neighbours at his London home say that he still lives there, and neighbours at his “flat of convenience” say that he is rarely to be seen.
Needless to say Lord Rosser (with an R) says that he has done nothing wrong. He issued a statement to that effect through the House of Lords authorities saying that he was on the electoral register at both addresses. (This in itself is strange as I thought you could only be on the electoral register at one address in the UK no matter how important and aristocratic you were.) Perhaps one of the most disturbing things about this fella is that he is a part time Magistrate (some sort of English Lower Court judge). He may well have benefit cheats come up before him on the bench. Amazing!
The latest gaffe is of course Prince Edward, or to give him his full title: His Royal Highness The Prince Edward Antony Richard Louis, Earl of Wessex, Viscount Severn, Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order, Honorary Member of the Saskatchewan Order of Merit, Aide-de-Camp to Her Majesty. But that’s quite a gobfull so lets call him Eddie Gaffe. He was off on a junket to Oz where he rather tactlessly put his foot in his mouth on air when talking about the Duke of Edinburgh Awards. According to Eddie the risk that you might die while obtaining a DOEA is part of the thrill for young people and was a reason for the initial success of the scheme here in the UK.
Of course last week we had Andy Gaffe or His Royal Highness The Prince Andrew Albert Christian Edward, Duke of York, Earl of Inverness, Baron Killyleagh, Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order, Canadian Forces Decoration, Aide-de-Camp to Her Majesty, telling us that in the scheme of thing bankers bonuses were minute and that we should not throw the baby out with the bath water. He was also concerned for non-dom millionaires (ie his golfing mates) when the loop hole allowing them to pay nothing despite living here is closed.
You might very well ask what exactly gives these people the right to go around spouting the biggest load of hot air that rumbles in their bellies. It’s quite simple really they are related to the Head of State. I remember a mini outcry on the blogosphere not so long ago when it seemed that President Sarkozy’s son might get preferential treatment because he was the related to the head of the French State. Words like “emperor” and “nepotism” were bandied about. It seemed it was only unreasonable that this sort of disgraceful preferential treatment should occur in a foreign country, that is nothing to do with us, because they were.... errr..... foreign.
So are Andy and Eddie not getting preferential treatment because they were born into the House of Gaffes?
If this is not all the greatest argument for a republic what is?
Friday, 30 October 2009
The Government’s expert advisor on drugs has been sacked by Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary for erm ...giving an opinion on drugs to his university.
Professor David Nutt MRCP, MRCPsych, FRCPsych, FMedSci, of the Department of Neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College, London, pointed out that all drugs, including alcohol and tobacco, should be ranked by a "harm" index with alcohol coming fifth behind cocaine, heroin, barbiturates, and methadone.
Tobacco should rank ninth, ahead of cannabis, LSD and ecstasy.
Prof Nutt said: "No one is suggesting that drugs are not harmful. The critical question is one of scale and degree. We need a full and open discussion of the evidence and a mature debate about what the drug laws are for - and whether they are doing their job."
The Professor was not talking for the government when he made these assertions. He was giving a lecture and briefing paper for the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies at King's College, when he attacked what he called the "artificial" separation of alcohol and tobacco from other, illegal, drugs.
Prof Nutt is the Chairman of the government’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs. He is, as you might have guessed from the list of letters after his name, his work at Imperial College and the fact that he has reached professorial rank, something of an expert on the the subject. He can't be expected to tow the government line and in doing so feed faulse information to his students. Academe isn't really like that. Experts are there to be.... well...expert.
So Alan Johnson has sacked him, because his expert opinion doesn’t fit with the government’s policy that drink and cigarettes are less harmful than other drugs. With the greatest respect to Mr Johnson, I don’t think that he can begin to have the Professor’s understanding of the subject. Strangely, at the time of writing, the government has not put up anyone to argue their case on the news channels, perhaps because no one in the home office has a clue how to counter what David Nutt has said.
Time and again this London government employs and pays experts to give advice, and time and again they ignore that advice. It has happened over education, over unemployment, over various aspects of health including alcohol, and as we know, it has happened over devolution.
I wonder if the next set of experts to bite the dust will be the ones who have been looking at MPs’ expenses. Doubtless they have got it all wrong too.
As time goes on it becomes more and more likely that the Czech president will sign into law the Lisbon Treaty, albeit against his better judgement, but in line with Czech law, and his duty. And as time goes on, it seems equally more and more likely that we shall have as the first President of the European Council one Anthony Charles Lynton Blair, millionaire and ex-Prime Minister of the UK.
There have been many reasons offered as to why Blair should President:
*That he is known all over the world;
*that he has clout;
*that he is a consummate negotiator.
Equally many reasons have been offered as to why he should not be President:
* that his home country is one of the least EU-friendly counties;
* that when he was Prime Minister he was not particularly EU positive;
* that his home country does not use the single currency, that is to say that there may be a conflict of interest;
* that his home country is not a member of the Schengen group;
* that his potential status as a war criminal is enough to preclude him. There's an investigation going on which could potentially call him out on that. Of course we know it won't and he will be found to be whiter than white and it will be everyone and anyone's fault but his. But the truth is that, whatever the result of the whitewash, we know that he went to war on the flimsiest of pretexts, when experts advised against it, and because George Bush told him to. We know too that Shock and Awe killed, injured and maimed tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians for no gain whatsoever. It’s not like Sadam was going to still be in Baghdad when all that was going on....just like Blair and the Queen would not have been in central London if the boot had been on the other foot;
*that his fascination with America and his propensity to do what the President of America instructs could provide yet another conflict of interest.
Whilst researching this piece I came across this information in an article in the Telegraph
“Yet gender-benders are largely exempt from new EU regulations controlling hazardous chemicals. Britain, then under Tony Blair's premiership, was largely responsible for this – restricting their inclusion in the first draft of the legislation, and then causing even what was included to be watered down. Confidential documents show that it did so after pressure from George W Bush's administration, which protested that US exports "could be impacted".”
I hope that Mr Blair does not become the President of the European Council. I’m not particularly pro-Europe these days, but it is where I live, and I would have to live with the consequences of this man’s appointment. I believe he will bring dishonour to the role and the Union if he is “elected”to it.
James of “Scot goes Pop” and I have already had some chat on his blog about this and he makes interesting points. I’d be interested to hear what others think.
Update: I hear on the news that Mr Blair's chances in the race to become President have become unstuck or derailed or scuppered. I attribute this in part to the wise words of this article, doubtless read by all the leaders, but far more to the fact that yesterday evening Gordon Brown (the loser) spoke up for him.... Revenge is a dish best eaten cold Gordon, isn't it?
Wednesday, 28 October 2009
Moan, moan, whine.
That’s what we got when the Legge letters started landing on the doormats of MPs a couple of weeks ago. They moaned again about not having done anything wrong. (Like we hadn’t heard enough of that!) Then they moaned about having to pay the money back, and then, as if they hadn’t moaned enough, they whined about how unfair it had been because they had been expecting, indeed had been promised, the letters at 2 o’clock and then at 4 ... and you wouldn’t believe it.... the poor wee mites, some of the letters didn’t arrive until after 6. Bless them. What a to do. Fancy having to wait around half the day for a letter!
They moaned that it wasn’t fair that they had to pay back money for having their houses cleaned and their hanging baskets watered, and they moaned that it wasn’t fair because the rule book hadn’t said that they couldn’t. And in a way, they were quite correct.
From what I could see of the rule book it never once said. “You cannot have your house cleaned at the public’s expense. Nor may you have your garden looked after ditto”. I’m guessing that the rules’ authors assumed a modicum of intelligence in the MP class and/or just a smattering of the much vaunted moral compass. On that basis the House of Commons Green Book made clear that expenses could only be claimed if they were “incurred wholly, necessarily and exclusively in the performance of their parliamentary duties”.
Enough said, I think. If you can’t be an MP and carry out your duties without having your garden watered, then you have a choice: don’t be an MP; don’t have a garden; pay for the garden to be watered out of your own pocket, like the rest of the country has to do. That's not so awful, is it?
Now with today’s Kelly Report, another wide range of recommendations which the Prime Minister (when he set up the enquiry) promised would be accepted in full, and another outbreak of moaning and whining. No more mortgages interest; no more spouses and offspring employment; no second homes within London. You can hear the whining from here and the report hasn’t been released yet.
But nothing unfair is being proposed (at least from the leaks, or disclosures so far). Nothing that wouldn’t be considered quite fair in “ordinary” people’s lives. I mean, no one else can buy a house and speculate with tax payers’ money in the way that MPs can (except perhaps peers), and, in no other public service can close relatives work directly with each other. No public employees are paid arbitrary amounts; nor do they work away without a close check on their absenteeism, time keeping, conduct and performance. Why should MPs' staff be any different?
Accusations that the proposed new regulations will make it impossible for poorer people to be MPs are ill-founded. Accommodation will still be provided in London for those who are in need of it. It will now, however, be rented accommodation. MPs will still be able to employ people to work for them, but now they will have to be employed on a regulated basis. Just like everyone else. What’s off putting in that?
What I say is: You get paid three times the average wage for a job which requires no training and no qualification. You start on the top rate. All you have to do is satisfy your constituency party that you’re a good bet for winning. In the bulk of constituencies you are guaranteed a job for life. Now stop whining, stop moaning and get on with your jobs of holding the executive to account. So far you've been useless at it.
Monday, 26 October 2009
According to the Scotsman (make of that what you will) the Viceroy of Scotland, Spud Murphy, is hoping to bring the Pope to Scotland. He is going to the Vatican City State this week for talks with Vatican officials and will meet the Pope during His Holiness's regular Wednesday General Audience (in other words with all the other people that are going to be there).
Right! Let’s just get this a wee bit straight. First of all Brown already told us HE is bring the Pope to the UK next year. Of course the Vatican refused to comment either way as I recall. Secondly Murphy isn’t going to be “bringing” the Pope anywhere. Benedictus XVI is the head of the Roman Catholic Church and the Bishop of Rome, but in matters of international diplomacy he is a Head of State and the supreme ruler of Vatican City State. So, the likelihood of wee Spud “bringing” him anywhere is just plain silly. I’m not, therefore, sure why the Scotland Secretary is going to the Vatican. If talks about the Pope’s visit to the UK are to be held, would not some minister for European Affairs be a more appropriate person?
Again according to that pretty disreputable rag, Mr Murphy said: "It would be a fantastic occasion if the Pope were to visit Britain. The Prime Minister wants us to work closely with the Vatican. It is too early to say if the Pope will be coming to Scotland next year, but it certainly won't be for a lack of trying on my part."
Well, yep I’m sure it would be a fine occasion if the Pope decided to come to Scotland. For those of his faith it would be a huge honour. For the rest of us it would raise Scotland’s profile and of course it would generate a lot of money for local businesses wherever the Pope went. (I mean no disrespect, heads of state mean crowds mean business.)
Although I have no religious affiliation with his church, I hope he does come.
It would be a travesty however, if Mr Brown or Mr Murphy decided to use either this story or His Holiness’s actual visit for any electoral or party political purpose, and this announcement and the Scottish Viceroy’s visit is very close to a certain by-election date, or am I just being a cynic?
On another topic, I saw a post today on Monty Burton’s excellent Universality of Cheese blog, and I really would suggest you have a look at it. It’s truly awesome.
Sunday, 25 October 2009
Another Sunday, another Lord, or in this case Lady, exposed for troughing.
It’s not a question of “if” these days, it’s a question of “which one?”.
This week’s charmless upper-class villain is the unlovely Baroness Goudie, a Labour donor and (you’d never guess this one) close friend of the Prime Minister and Mrs Prime Minister.... well, well!
It seems that the Honourable and Noble Lady (ha ha ha ha ha) was born, and has lived all her life in London, where her two sons were raised and where her husband works as a ‘leading’ barrister. However, according to the “Sunday Times” the Baroness tells the Lords her main address is 400 miles away in a Glasgow apartment block. (Handy for the by-election perhaps?) Unfortunately for her, her neighbours say that she is rarely there. Strange that, considering it’s her main home.
On the other hand, happily for Goudie, this has allowed her to claim subsistence allowances under the ‘accommodation costs for peers who live outside of the English capital and need help (if you please) to meet the cost of accommodation there’ scheme. In this particular case the “subsistence” ran to the tune of some £230,000. Now, just imagine for a minute what a judge would do with a social security fraudster who had diddled the DWP out of that kind of lolly.
And there’s more.... It seems the Baroness is a trustee, along with Lord Paul (you’ll remember him from a couple of weeks ago; he lives in a cupboard in an hotel in Oxford and did us out of £38,000) of Sarah Brown’s Piggy Bank Kids charity. I can’t help thinking that Sarah might want to check a little more carefully the financial probity of her trustees.
Goudie’s connections with London are reflected in her title Baroness Goudie of Roundwood in the London Burgh of Brent (nothing about the Gorbals there then). She and her husband used to live in Hampstead but moved in 2002 to Belgravia. No wonder they can afford to live in one of the most expensive areas of London when we are subsidizing her to that extent.
OK... I’ve laughed a bit at her nobleness, but in honesty, how much longer is this going to go on? How much longer are we going to accept that these people are robbing a broke country blind while decent hardworking people are being made jobless, and losing their homes and families? What can we do to rid ourselves of this kind of lowlife at the supposed top of our society?
Saturday, 24 October 2009
I’ve just read a superb article at Iain Macwhirter’s blog, and as I was commenting I thought I’d like to use the material in Munguin’s Republic too, so, if you’ve read it twice.....sorry.
For the life of me I cannot see why people who have voted Labour all their lives continue to support at least the English version of this New Labour Party. Maybe the Scottish branch is a little different, but the control from London is so tight you really wouldn’t notice. Labour policies don't in any way reflect the values on which the Old Labour Party was based.
For example, nuclear power as an energy source is dangerous and impossible to clean up. A series of nuclear power stations in a country like the UK which is so hated across the world by a wide range of terrorists, is an open invitation to do more harm than disrupt the power supply. None-the-less Nuclear power for electricity generation is the policy of the British New Labour Party. (It may, or may not, have something to do with the Prime Minister’s brother being a big cheese in the nuclear business, of course.)
Nuclear weapons are an abomination. Never mind any of the great sins, cardinal or otherwise, that churches talk of. The use of nuclear weaponry is beyond evil. Yet that too is the policy of this Labour Party.
It's almost (but not quite) unbelievable to think that a Labour government of a broke country is prepared to spend £100 Billion which it doesn't have and which would make such a difference to people’s lives, to acquire weapons of mass destruction ,which it will never have the opportunity to use. (Of course, when you consider that the money is not really being spent on weapons but on a chair at the top table at the United Nations for the Prime Minister to park his bottom right next to the Presidents of France, Russia, China and America, then the whole scenario becomes much more believable. The Prime Minster maybe wants to be a big cheese, or even bigger cheese, himself.)
A comment from Mr Mxyzptlk on Mr Macwhirter’s post suggested that we couldn’t univent the wheel, referring to the fact, I assume, that nuclear power exists both at weapon and domestic levels. It can’t be made to disappear. But we don't need to uninvent the wheel. We just need to use our natural resources and get rid of the obsolete weaponry. Bin it and buy the troops some kit they actually need and that may keep them alive. It's very simple.
A Scottish First Minister with no pretentions to sit at the Security Council’s top table would have no need to pay out money so desperately needed for other work in order to ensure that he or she got that seat.
It's Scottish Oil that's paying for these weapons we can't use. Would we not prefer the money spent on decent housing and public transport, troops’ safety, etc, etc, instead?
Friday, 23 October 2009
Eventually, of course, the inevitable happened, and although everyone else had been talking about it for weeks, Brown eventually stuttered the word for the first time at question time in the Commons. Of course it was nothing to do with him at that point. Oh no sir. It had started in America. Then it had spread to France and Germany, and, as I recall, a list of other countries as long as your arm before daring to show its face on these shores.
The proud boast of the Prime Minister that he had beaten “boom and bust” with his “prudent” policies had turned out not just to be wrong, but to be disastrously and monumentally wrong. In fact just about as wrong as you could get.
While other countries were suffering a light or medium recession (mainly caused by the knock on effect of America’s serious downturn) the UK with its disastrous light touch policies on the massive financial centres in Edinburgh and London, the house price boom (which MPs had been so quick to exploit) and credit card lending on a scale previously unknown, fell deeper and deeper into depression.
With it being impossible to refute, Brown had admitted that policies needed to be put into place to deal with the financial situation, but he dithered as always and many of the policies remained just that. Of course there wasn’t that much to fix in Britain so he decided that he had to “save the world” (which of course involved a shed load of grandstanding with the Presidents of China and the US). He even, at one stage, told us that he had, in fact, done just that. Doesn’t it make you....erm .... proud?
The reality is that it was all in his dreams. His government’s handling of the crisis, in fact, was lamentable and all the more amazing when you consider that he imported so-called City experts into the government (and thus the aristocracy) in order to advise him.
Still he told us that Britain, because of his prudent policies, was better placed than other countries to come out of the recession early and in better fettle than our partners in the EU.
The reality of the situation is, of course, that whilst our continental neighbours have started to come out of their medium depth recessions, “the [British] economy shrank for a record sixth quarter in a row between July and September, new figures showed today. Forecasters had predicted slight growth but their hopes were dashed and the UK remains mired in the longest period of continuous decline since records began in 1955”.
Wouldn’t it be nice if just once in a while you could believe something the Prime Minister says? And wouldn’t it be nice if somewhere in this population of 60 million there was someone who knew something about running an economy for the good of the people, not just a few troughing bankers, MPs and Lords.
Tuesday, 20 October 2009
If you've ever had your heart set on an official Conservative Party mug, an 'It's time for a Change' baby-grow, or even a 'Honk for Change' car sticker, then I've got some good news for you.
Because today the online Conservative Shop has officially opened up for business.
There's a great range of products to choose from, including old favourite like diaries, umbrellas and ties, fun stocking-fillers like fridge magnets and posters, and stylish T-shirts and sweatshirts.
You can also buy the two winners of our recent T-shirt competition: 'Don't blame me I voted Tory' and 'Release your inner Tory'.
All proceeds go to the Party, so as well as getting yourself some great Conservative-branded goodies, you'll also be helping our campaign to win the next election.
And if you're one of the first 100 customers, you'll get a free set of limited edition 'Make your own Gordon Brown speech' fridge magnets, the must-have item from this year's Party Conference.
So head down to the Conservative Shop now and start Shopping for Change.
Yours, Eric Pickles MP
P.S. Lots of you have asked for our Ready for Change video from Conference. You'll be pleased to know that it's now on YouTube.
Monday, 19 October 2009
Another piece of democracy appears to have died in England, as the English Secretary of State for English Schools and Children, the charmless tubby bullying buffoon that is Mr Ed Cooper Balls, has overridden a committee of MPs and insisted that HIS choice for the Children’s Commissioner was the right choice.
Barry Sheerman, the chairman of the education select committee, said that it was a bad day for democracy when Mr Balls decided to override the body's recommendation and install Maggie Atkinson in the job.
The decision to turn down Ms Atkinson was taken unanimously without a vote by all eight committee members from all three major English parties.
Mr Sheerman is a Labour politician, albeit one opposed by and large to Gordon Brown (and presumably to his closest ally Ed Balls), but he knows a thing of two about children, being, outside of parliament, a trustee of the National Children’s Centre, as well as having had 4 of his own.
These parliamentary committees are a very important part of the democratic process where ministers are held to account and sent homeward to think again about policies and individual decisions.
The decision to reject Ms Atkinson was taken on the basis that the committee felt that she lacked the independence to stand up to a Secretary of State that liked his own way.
Apparently he likes his own way so much that he overrode their decision not to allow him to have it.
Mr Sheerman told the “Today Programme”: “Most of us know that Ed Balls is a bit of a bully and he likes his own way and we have seen a track record of problems over Ken Boston at the QCA and Bruce Liddington the schools commissioner, who was very independent - he has gone and the school commissioner has been abolished. Time after time, we see the secretary of state wanting to have people who will do his bidding. He is more of an executive man, rather than a parliamentary man and I think it is a bad day for parliamentary democracy when - if we are having these pre-appointment hearings - the very first one to say it didn’t agree with the appointment gets overridden.”
The pre-appointment hearings were introduced on a trial basis last year to improve accountability in the appointment of a range of public figures.
As a Scot it makes me very relieved to know that this unpleasant know all is nothing whatsoever to do with education or children in my country.
Wednesday, 14 October 2009
Well, it seems that their character is at least, if not more, unpleasant as their looks. They have hit the front page of the Telegraph because it seems that all is not well with Mr Wilshire’s expenses. Where to being....?
“Mr Wilshire claimed for more than three years for office assistance provided by “Moorlands Research Services”. Parliamentary rules forbid MPs from entering into arrangements which “may give rise to an accusation” of profiting from public funds. But on Wednesday night, Mr Wilshire – the MP for Spelthorne in Surrey – admitted that he and his partner, Ann Palmer, were sole owners of the business.” Oh dear...........Whata mistaika to maika!
It seems, according to research done by the Telegraph, that the total amount invoiced by the company to the MP over the period 2005 - 2008 was £105,500. And, oh dear, yet another mistake! Unfortunately they somehow neglected to get the company registered in any way whatsoever. There is no record of its existence and it has never filed any kind of accounts. That probably means no tax. Nah, it definitely means no tax. Deeper and deeper!
Needless to say, it seems that Ms Palmer (you remember her... spider woman?) is also employed by the MP as his office manager. Well... keep it in the erm family, huh?
And just in case you thought that this was about as low as a Tory MNP could go, well, have I got news for you? According to the Telegraph:
“Mr Wilshire is now certain to face significant scrutiny from his constituents, already angry at his use of parliamentary expenses. Despite having a constituency 20 miles from Westminster, he has consistently claimed the maximum second home allowance for a flat in central London. In total, he has claimed £141,039 since 2001.
In a highly unusual arrangement with the fees office, he claimed thousands in monthly payments that he said went towards the cost of decorating and replacing its curtains and carpets in the future. He has refused to repay the money despite conceding that it has not all been spent.
With his main home in Somerset, he has also claimed more than £43,000 for travel since 2001.
How Mr Wilshire and his bidie-in must have sighed with relief earlier in the year when the duck house and the dirty moat were being revealed for the world to laugh over. How he must have chortled with delight when Villiers got nabbed for his tree surgery in the place that 'looks a bit like Balmoral but does me very nicely'. He thought he’d pulled it off.
Tut tut Mr Wilshire, never ever underestimate the Torygraph... Oh and by the way, could you ask your bit of fluff where she got her hat. My mum would just love one like that!
Joking mum, I know you wouldn’t!
Tuesday, 13 October 2009
The three pictured are from the left Lord Falconer, Lord (Ha Ha) Foulkes and Lord Martin, the Rt Hon. Baron Martin of Springburn to the likes of you and me.
As a matter of traditional right, and ironically on the day that the expenses scandal that finished his career in the Commons burst back on to the front pages, the disgraced ex-Speaker took his place and swore his oath in the House of Lords. He was sponsored by Lord Falconer and the little fat joke Foulkes, having yet another day off (on full pay) from his day job in our parliament.
So, this is the quality of our aristocracy, albeit the wee pretendy ones.
But just look at the decor in the picture. That is the building these people work in and these are their “Sunday best” working clothes. Is it really any wonder these people are so completely out of touch with the country that goes along outside of the Palace of Westminster.
It sickens me beyond measure that we are paying for all of this nonsense to amuse and reward a few well connected boot fillers, while there are people with achingly empty stomachs living in cardboard boxes. It’s a Britain I want no part of.
Monday, 12 October 2009
So just a few points:
We could all see it was a “clear” breach of the rules so why couldn’t she, or indeed her boss, who stood by her?
If she couldn’t see that that was a “clear” breach of the rules, was she really the right person to be interpreting and framing laws that affect millions of people, especially in England, but also in other parts of the UK? I mean, “clearly”, she’s none too bright.
If someone from a sink estate, claiming some sort of social security housing benefit for a home that he or she didn’t live in (and it does happen), would he or she simply be asked to come along and say a few words of apology? Or would he, or she, be marched down the nick pretty damned sharpish?
Why is it appropriate to apologise to the House of Commons. It wasn’t their money she was stealing. It was ours.
The rest of the story in the Scotsman goes on to talk about the Legg letters and how some members may feel disinclined to repay monies they ill came by. You really, really couldn’t make that one up. It’s worth a read.
Sunday, 11 October 2009
His name is Lloyd Gardner and he was awarded £10,000 for information that lead to the arrest of the perpetrator of a particularly horrible crime where a woman was left unconscious, in a coma, and, three years after the attack, is still in a wheelchair. You can read the whole story here.
OK, you’re saying, he was a good citizen and he came forward after a Crimestoppers’ appeal, like most of us would, and he was dead lucky in that he got £10,000. But the story doesn’t end there. Lloyd gave his £10,000 to the woman who had been injured. He thought she needed it more than he did.
He’s 22 for heaven’s sake. He could have had himself a new car, loads of clothes, or holidays, impressed the girls, put down the deposit on a home... whatever. But no, he gave the £10,000 to a woman he didn’t know, because he thought it would make a difference in her life and she needed it more than he did.
What a hero! And what a contrast to all the disgusting, foul, greedy, lying, benefit cheat MPs and Lords who, despite the generous salaries and expenses they are allowed legally, have stuffed us for every last halfpenny they could get.
So to all of them, and members of the Royal family whose arses apparently don’t fit into even the generous seats provided by First Class air travel, and therefore require for us to pay for private jets for them, I say.... Have a look at this man. He’s worth a hundred of any of you. See if you can’t learn some lessons. Oh yeah, then make sure he’s a knight by this time next year. Chris Hoy got it for winning races. This man is every bit as good an example of what a young Briton should be!
Lloyd, you won’t read this, but in my eyes you’re a hero and an example to us all. I wish I were more like you, I really do.
My mate Danny, who lives in Missouri, sent me a few cartoons from the States poking a bit of fun at the rather strange elevation of President Obama to Nobel Peace Laureate at this early stage in his presidency. I thought I'd share this one with you.
Let's hope he lives up to its expectations. (Barack I mean, not Danny.)
Oh, this is just to prove I CAN do a short post!*!
Saturday, 10 October 2009
It appears that the Noble and Rt Hon Lord Paul of Marylebone in the City of Westminster has been designating a flat that he owns, but has never actually slept in, not once, as his main home. I’m not sure how that works. I guess if you’re a bit of a lad, it might be, just might be, that you never, never sleep at your main home....wink wink, know what I mean....? But the Noble Lord is actually 78 years old. Now call me ageist if you will, but I really doubt that he’s with a different lady (or lad) every night at that age.....
Furthermore, one of his hotel managers lives in the flat (yeah... I forgot to tell you that bit.... his nobleness owns hotels.... don’t it just make you want to laugh?) He reckons that, if he wanted to stay there overnight he could simply move his manager out. Phew, he sounds like a nice bloke then.
By saying his main home was his manager’s flat in Oxfordshire, he was able to claim cash allowances which are available only to peers who live outside the capital. Allowances that total around £38,000.
Last week Paul argued that he had been entitled to claim the flat was his home as it was “available” for his use. He said he could have moved the manager out for the night if he stayed there, but he never did so. “I don’t say that I stayed the night — I said that it was available to me,” he said. (I quote this from the Sunday Times)
The SNP’s Angus Robertson is writing to the police and the House of Lords authorities about the matter... although, with it the headlines in the Sunday Times, I guess that maybe both organizations may have got a whiff of this already.
Lord Paul of blah blah blah..., who is a Deputy Speaker of the House of peers and sitting on a fortune of around £500,000,000, is a close friend of Gordon Brown and his wife. But although he’s a smart cookie when it comes to getting dosh off us, he was fiddled rotten by old Brown himself.... He apparently gave £45,000 to Brown’s leadership campaign. Leadership campaign? What leadership campaign? Why would that have cost £45,000?
It’s sad that when we are faced with cuts all around to pay off the horrendous debt incurred in the in the “end of boom and bust” bust, caused by crass incompetence and greed of the government and the financial authorities, that the people who were closest to this incompetence should still be able to rake in £38,000 in fiddled expenses.
So what you may ask. Well after all the kerfuffle about Mr Cameron appearing with horror of horrors Champagne. Is it not a bit rich that he appeared at conference wearing a suit that would cost us £3,500, a tie that costs between £30-£50 and a pair of shoes that cost about £150.
According to Conservative Central Office Mr C got his suit for a snip at £1,185 last year. But according to a spokesperson at the tailors the suit cost £3,500 and they knew nothing a bout a discount. They also mentioned that while their off the peg suits are made in Mauritius they do not employ cheap labour. That of course begs the question why make them in Mauritius then?
The point is that we are all expected to tighten our belts and work until we drop while Mr Cameron puts on the pretence of being an ordinary person. Why did he not give his keynote speech in a donkey jacket and pair of hobnail boots then? Mr Cameron clearly thinks it’s ordinary to get a suit hand made and measured at his work in the Palace of Westminster as long as he does not pay the full whack of £3,500, that’s ok. That’s him economising is it?
Friday, 9 October 2009
Like most employers we have the right to expect that we get the best from our workers, value for money, a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay.
Having read the excellent report, and comments on FMQ’s on Subrosa’s blog, and then watching the BBC’s iplayer coverage, it occurred to me that that is NOT what we are getting. Quite seriously, and party politics aside, questions were asked which were poorly researched and smartly batted out of court by the First Minister. For example the Labour Education spokesperson, whose name escapes me for the minute, wasted the First Minister’s time (and our money) by asking a question on a matter regarding student bursaries and the late payment thereof, which had been mentioned in the “Herald”. He was able to reply to her, giving her the correct and up to date information that in fact the bursaries had been paid, pointing out that the “Herald had printed a retraction, and suggesting that she rely on more accurate sources for any future questions she might want to ask.
The Labour leader, whose name also, for some reason, escapes me, showed what a fine politician he was by making aggressive fisty cuffs gesture to the First Minister, having been rebuffed soundly on each one of the badly researched questions he had asked.
Throughout the session, whether they came from backbench MSPs or front bench spokesmen, the First Minister answered the serious question (the ones we don’t mind paying for being answered) and rebuffed the idiotic point scoring questions by humiliating the questioner for their lack of knowledge.
There are some MSPs, from all parties, that I consider earn their money, but too many should be mindful of the fact that, in any other job, especially one that pays over twice the average wage, they would be toast after their first couple of appraisals.
Tuesday, 6 October 2009
Now they've upset the 50+ crowd, the people who are most likely to vote. Oh, they say, people live well into their 90s now. They want to go on working. It’s only fair that they should.
Hello, what world do these Tories live in? They are nearly as out of touch as the Labour lot, hard though that is to believe.
No. They don't want to go on working. Here’s how the situation is Dave. In the old days people had a job for life. As they got older they maybe did a wee bit less than they used to, but they added value to the company with all their experience. They had been “faithful servants of the company” and the company kept faith with them. With very few exceptions these days are long since gone. Jobs are rarely long term, except in the public sector. Many people in their sixties have been made redundant, and no one wants to take them on, so they are on the dole. They desperately look forward to their pension. It, grimly low though it is, means a few more pounds a week.
In some areas of Glasgow, for example, many are dead by the time pension comes around, but those who aren't are on the dole. No one wants to employ ill people in their 60s. You know, it's not all stockbroker land in these isles of ours, Dave, and some people do live outside the Home Counties of England.
But hey, the IB claiments and the nearly pensioners are an easy target. Probably no one at your conference has these kinds of worries. It will get you a big cheer in the hall and the blue rinses and the colonels, the stockbrokers and the bankers, who aren’t even aware that people like that exist, will be thinking what a good chap that David Cameron is. The bankers in particular have much to be grateful for. Phew!
So, to summarise. It seems that this week you have hit the old and the sick and the poor.... in order to pay for the mess made by the super rich.
What great fun that 14-member junket must have been (no representative from the actual Scottish Government though). I am sure they did not stint themselves in terms of lunches and so on. But now, post Calman Report, how quickly it has been swept under the carpet by all those loud mouthed advocates who so welcomed it as a way of saving the Union and being just to the Scots all at once.
That nasty National Conversation was lambasted by one and all of the Unionists on both sides of the border, while the dance of the blessed Calman got its own version of a ticker tape parade. I think (and I may be wrong) that every Unionist politician of note and quite a few of none at all welcomed it, Gordon Brown, Jim Murphy, David Cameron, Nick Clegg, Annabel Goldie, Iain Gray, Wendy Alexander, Tavish Scott, etc, etc.
Do we also remember how David Cameron promised to be fair to the Scots as he wanted to be PM of the entire UK. Fair in so far as not actually talking to them or allowing them to be part of a debate for the totally spurious reason that the leader of the SNP is not standing to become Prime Minister. I would have thought that a party leader’s debate could be just that, and no matter how Annabel and Cameron spin it at their get together in Manchester, Alex is most definitely the “leader” of the SNP.
We have already seen the Labour Party back pedalling like mad on Calman and now it seems that Tories are doing very much the same. Remember DC has already said that the economic meltdown is so severe that he will be unable to consider a re-evaluation of the constitutional settlement until his 2nd term. (I was never quite sure what that meant, but then that’s something that often happens with Cameron pronouncements.)
But he has given us a clue as to what he meant in a recent radio interview in which he claimed that it would be difficult to allow Scotland to borrow money in her own right (despite the fact that much smaller governmental units like, say Dundee City Council, can). That apparently would make it difficult for his Government to reduce the overall UK deficit. So, no borrowing powers for Scotland.
So Scotland will not be able to borrow money against her vast natural resources to fund essential projects needed by her own people. Despite the fact that the last 12 years of Labour and the previous 16 years of the Tories have left Scotland as one of the most deprived and underfunded parts of Europe, never mind just the UK. Doubtless the Tories will want to use Scotland’s wealth to prop up the rest of the UK al la Mrs Thatcher.
What we are promised, however, despite Mr C’s vow that there will be no constitutional changes in his first term is a swingeing reduction in the number of Scottish MPs (well they are all Labour anyway) to sort out the West Lothian question; a radical revaluation of the Barnet Formula (well that is popular in England) despite the fact that it has been around since 1978 and even Mrs Thatcher did not think it was too generous to the Scots, and of course, a huge reduction in Scotland’s block grant.
So no change in the first term then? Well no, what he means is plenty changes that are popular south of the border but none that are popular north of it. That’s a great definition of the word respect David. It really is. Plenty Cameron but not very much Calman.
When “The Sun” came out for the Tories after years of supporting Labour’s failing government there was disappointment within the Labour ranks and some among them couldn’t help but show it.
Whilst protesting that they didn’t need “The Sun”, it was alleged that the de facto Prime Minister, one Lord Mandleson, phoned their chief executive and gave her a tongue lashing, including the four letter word ''chump'' (well, it’s New Labour, they didn’t go to Eton; 4-letter, 5-letter, what the hell?)
The Deputy Leader and all-important female half of the leadership, one Harry Harperson made disparaging comments about the “Page 3 News in Briefs” feature as if she’d only noticed for the first time in the 13 years of Murdoch’s support that “The Sun” had a propensity to feature scantily clad females of the opposite sex on its inside pages.
Then some union blokey, whose name escapes me, tore up a copy of “The Sun” in a feeble attempt to mimic that other blokey, whose name always slips my memory (you know the fellow that speaks for Labour in our parliament, the wee gray looking one. What’s his name again?).
Anyway, they all had a jolly time poking fun at “The Sun”..... And how the faithful cheered, all three of them.
But they were playing a dangerous game. Murdoch, it’s said, was incandescent with rage at this treatment and sad though it is that this should matter, it does.
It’s true that “The Sun” doesn’t have the clout that it once had but, it’s not altogether without influence. And it’s one thing to have the paper “not supporting” you. It’s an entirely different kettle of fish to have it “against” you.
Now New Labour have always considered themselves to be “media savvy”, so it should come as no surprise that shortly after that, when Gordon had one of his hissy fits, the cameras were left rolling and the clip of the idiot making a rather large tit of himself as he stared malevolently at his interviewer and stomped off with the sound equipment ripped asunder, was served up to the world.
Now “The Sun” has obtained an “exclusive” interview with General Richard Dannatt, recently retired Army boss, who was also smeared by Brown's government, in which he tells it as it is, and it’s not comfortable reading for the government. You can read a summary of it here:
I'm rather hoping that Subrosa will do an analysis of what Richard Dannatt said because she'll do an awful lot better job of it than I will. But I wonder how many more uncomfortable stories like this Murdoch’s minions will print before their, or rather his, anger is assuaged. I just hope Messers (what an appropriate word) Mandleson and Harman don’t have anything to hide!
Sunday, 4 October 2009
The interview covered subjects like Europe (of course, the question of the Lisbon Treaty), reducing the deficit , inheritance tax, the 50p tax and other general tax matters, David Cameron’s personal wealth, and for me the most interesting matter (it being my field), the question of unemployment.
It seems that the Tory policy is as follows, and I crib unashamedly from Tim’s piece:
The Conservative leader promises a "big, bold and radical" scheme to get Britain back to work. There will be payment-by-results for voluntary and other agencies that get the long-term out-of-work into work, including an assessment of all people on incapacity benefit.
So, being in the business, I am delighted to hear that “big bold steps” will be taken to get Britain (and I’m assuming, Scotland) back to work. There is no doubt that unemployment and its attendant poverty, are the cause of many of our problems, and much misery.
It’s how he’s going to do it that worries me. I really want to put on record that “payment by results” doesn’t work. It doesn’t matter what kind of organisation is operating the system; charity, voluntary body or a private sector company. For this work you need to have knowledgeable, hard-working and versatile staff. You need people who are comfortable working with a wide range of people. They need to be paid decent money. Many of the clients that they will be sent will be hard if not impossible to place, particularly with economic conditions the way they are.
Payment by results means that management will put ever-higher placement targets on the staff in order to make enough money to keep the organisation afloat, and make a profit.
There are a couple ways round this for staff, of course.
You choose to only work with easily-to-place people, people who could easily get employment under their own steam. In doing this, of course, you ignore the people who really need help, the ones the public money is being spent to help; or you cheat on your figures and hope like hell the sporadic and extremely light touch auditing system never finds you out. Government, after all, only ever wants to hear good news about these schemes. News of fraud to achieve targets would be bad news.
Time after time the UK government’s obsession with “targets” has been proved to be wanting. Schools concentrate only on those who will give them qualifications, leaving the less able to struggle to write their own names. Hospitals push forward ingrown toenail and cataract operations which can be done in minutes, boosting their throughput targets, but ignoring the hip replacements that take hours. And in the social aid sector, people who do not desperately need help are helped, because they will provide “outcomes”, whilst those with real problems, those who will require months or years of work before any result is evident are pushed to the side.
I’ve watched it happen.
I had hoped an end to Labour would have meant an end to the razzmatazz of the “targets and results” cult. Once again UK politics proves to be a disappointment.
Oh dear John seems like the best laid plans etc. At least you wont now have to justify having the two jobs that your Scottish Leader claims cannot both be done together. In other words being and MP and an MSP at the same time. Possibly even, sin of sins having three jobs at once. That of an MP and MSP and a Cabinet Minister, just like err Alex Salmond. But of course Alex has his priorities right preferring to do all he can for the Scottish people not running away from them to a cushy number in England like you want to. Also Alex said that he will give up being an MP at the next General Election unlike you who are actually seeking to become one. Quislings don’t come much greater than you do they?
And what about Auntie Annabel? It was not long ago that she was on TV lambasting Alex for having three jobs. What about Lamont Annie? You are surely not expecting us to believe that Mr Lamont has more intelligence than the First Minister are you?
Pictured above is the John Lamont cemetery in Ontario where Mr L’s political ambitions might as well go if this poll holds out.
Friday, 2 October 2009
But today the Irish have their chance to vote, yet again, on this subject. (You see, it balances out; we get none and they get two.) They said "NO" last time, but of course the times, if not the Treaty, have changed since then and the YES campaign have been able to warn, possibly with some veracity, that Ireland needs to say YES in order to survive.
The BBC today visited two areas in Dublin asking for voters’ views. Overwhelmingly in the middle class area, the answer was YES, whilst in the working class area the answer was NO. The overall guess was that the YES campaign will win. Clearly there are more middle class than working class voters in Ireland.
Commentators have suggested that the Irish referendum will decide whether or not the Treaty is ratified, but the Poles and the Czechs have also yet to sign up for Lisbon. As far as Poland is concerned it looks like a done deal, but the Czechs are a different story altogether.
According to a segment of the Today programme this morning, Senators in the Czech parliament are unhappy that some of the Treaty contravenes the Czech constitution.
(Terrible things these written constitutions aren’t they? Means you have to stick to the rules. It’s there in black and white. Whereas good old Gordon has this unwritten constitution, which means you can, if you have a compliant Attorney General [snigger snigger] make it up as you go along to suit yourself. No wonder they keep telling us that our constitution is the envy of the world. It would be the envy of any dictator for sure. )
Anyway, the Czech Senators are taking the Treaty to their constitutional court, and this process could take months and months to reach its conclusion. Of course, the fact that the Czech President has no love for the EU, and does not want to sign the Treaty into law will do the Senators and their cause no harm at all.
So.... if the Czechs can hold on for 9 months until there is a Tory government in the UK, David Cameron will be able to scupper the Treaty (and Tony Blair's new job) by giving us a referendum in the UK. Aware of this, apparently the Conservative Party admits to having had talks with the Czech President.
A totally unrepresentative opinion poll, provided by today’s Times, points an arrow in the direction that the outcome of that referendum might be.