Wednesday, 31 March 2010


The funding of the royal family, which raises its ugly head once every ten years, will be a thorn in the side of whoever is the next Prime Minister. Under the 10-year settlement, agreed between the palace and Mrs Thatcher, the Civil List will have to be renegotiated by the end of this year.

Like everyone else, the Queen wants more money, and like everyone else, except MPs and bankers, she will struggle to get it. And in any case before there is more money paid out to the royals it is important that we look at how they live in the changing world of recession-torn Britain.

In fairness to the Queen, during the 1990’s her accountants saved money from the Civil List to create a contingency fund, however, as time has gone on she has had to draw on that fund. By next year it will be gone. It’s also reasonable to remember that a lot of the Civil List goes to pay salaries and other employment costs of junior staff.

However, there are, within the current system, some startling wastes of money. While the Queen wants more public money to pay for the upkeep of her crumbling palaces she is allowing minor royals and courtiers to live in rent-free accommodation.

This blog believes that an independent Scotland should be a republic. It also accepts that at the moment we live in the United Kingdom, and that the Queen is head of state, but it thinks that it is high time that we brought royalty into the 21st century.

There are five palaces in London and a further one in Edinburgh. We allow Charles, Anne, Andrew, Edward, Kent, Gloucester, Alexandra, Michael, Beatrice, William and Harry....and their wives/husbands to live more of less free of charge. Additionally we provide free accommodation for a raft of senior courtiers, like the Keeper of the Queen’s Pictures and the Mistress of the Robes.


We can’t afford all this. You don’t have to be republican to want value for money. The Swedish, Danish, Dutch, Norwegian, Belgian,
Luxembourg and Spanish royal families don’t live like this and don’t cost this kind of money.

Providing accommodation for, and extending security to, junior members of the family, as they try to live “normal” lives and undertake no royal duties, is ridiculous. Paying out money for the upkeep of six crumbling palaces, and providing day and night security for the whole family is now beyond our means. It simply must be slimmed down.

Unlike some republicans I can see that some royals do valuable work. Sometimes simply by being royal they can coax rich snobs to part with their money for a good cause, which without royal intervnetion would not happen. Some are genuinely very hard working, making a big difference to their chosen charities.

So let them work and liv
e in Buckingham Palace, which is big enough for all of them to have apartments for which they could pay rent. And let’s pay them a reasonable salary based on the amount of work they do. Everyone else has productivity targets, why not them?

If they don’t care for that they could get a job outside of royal duties and buy their own house. What’s wrong with that? They are no different from you and me and we manage to do it. We no longer believe that they have blue blood and are a different species.

There are likely to be big changes before the next ten-year settlement. Let’s start making the cuts now.

Pictures: State Apartments at Windsor Castle, Buckingham Palace, Beatrice and Eugenie, Holyrood House.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010


Sometimes I get fed up with politics and I just want to think of something nice. I guess you do too....

So here's a little story for you:

An elderly Chinese woman had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole which she carried across her neck. One of the pots had a crack in it while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water.

At the end of the long walks from the stream to the house, the cracked
pot arrived only half full.

For a full two years this went on daily, with the woman bringing home
only one and a half pots of water.

Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it could only do half of what it had been made to do.

After two years of what it perceived to be bitter failure, it spoke to
the woman one day by the stream. 'I am ashamed of myself, because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house.'

The old woman smiled, 'Did you notice that there are flowers on your
side of the path, but not on the other pot's side? That's because I have always known about your flaw, so I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you water them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table.

'Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house.'

Each of us has our own unique flaw. But it's the cracks and flaws we each have that make our lives together so very interesting and rewa

You've just got to take each person for what they are and look for the good in them. So, to all of my cracked pot friends, have a great day and remember to smell the flowers on your side of the path!

Now don't tell me I don't have a sentimental side to me.............


For some reason beyond my comprehension, Labour has decided to rehabilitate Tony Blair in an effort to help them win the election.

He made his first intervention criticising the Tories for inconsistency and indecision while praising Gordon Brown for experience, judgment and boldness at the Labour Club in his old constituency in Sedgefield.

He said that during his decade in power he had always been known as an optimist, and he was still optimistic about Britain. (So would I be if I have a hundredth of his money.) He said: "Strange as it might seem, the financial crisis does not diminish this optimism. We are not out of the woods yet; but we are on the path out.” (Easy to say when none of it hurt you at all!)

Mr Blair's analysis is that Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling made the right decisions during the financial crisis and should now be trusted to lead the recovery. (Except of course that if Brown wins the election, Alistair Darling won’t be anywhere, and we’re looking at Ed Balls for chancellor.)

"At the moment of peril the world acted. Britain acted," he said. "The decision to act required experience, judgment and boldness. It required leadership. Gordon Brown supplied it." (Ye gads, while he was swanking round the world making money with our security guards looking after him, did he even look at the newspapers?)

He accused the Tories of going to the right over Europe; going liberal when actually they should have stuck with a traditional Conserv
ative position on law and order; and on the economy, of worrying too much about public opinion (That’s rich!)

He further accused them of being confused compared to Labour which had “chosen its path. It is mapped out. It is consistent. It is solid. It matches a strong commitment to public services with a strong commitment to reform."

Mr Blair listed Labour’s achievements so far: reduced crime, higher standards in schools, hospital waiting lists reduced from 18 months to 18 weeks. (All English only issues. He didn’t mention illegal wars or soldiers’ deaths, or MPs who think that they should not have to face the courts.)

He said that the country needed strong leadership. (He seemed to have forgotten that it is Brown we are talking about here; Brown who is renowned the world over for his dithering, for his inability to decide about anything except when he loses his temper.)

I wonder how much Labour is paying him for this intervention. I’m not sure that it is money well spent. Many people see Blair at best as insincere, at worst as a war criminal with the deaths of hundreds of thousand
s of innocent Iraqis and British soldiers on his hands. Almost everyone must be disgusted at the way he has made money (estimated at £20 million) since he left office and that he had all his expenses paperwork destroyed, including repairs to his house the week before he left office.

I’ve never met anyone who likes him and the comments on the
Times article which is my source for this post seem to bear that out.

I wouldn’t want him in my corner. Would you?

Pic: Brown and Blair; Blair; Blair: Blair and Brown (And now I'll put my Iraq experience at the service of the Isaeli-Palestinian cause)

Patricia the door opener to whom doors may yet be closed

Lobbydog’s blog picked up on the fact that his readers have been writing to say that Patricia Hewitt should not be rewarded by being invited to take a seat on any more boards of directors.

The latest to be considering her for a directorship is Eurotunnel. I said the other day on this blog that, if she gets her directorship then I will never use Eurotunnel again.

It appears that
The Independent has also reported on this subject that a growing band of people have said that they will blacklist companies of which this woman is a director.


I doubt in truth if there is much that she can offer a company now. She has been suspended from the Labour Party in disgrace. She is standing down from parliament and hasn't the remotest chance of a peerage. She's a figure of fun because of her daft coup attempt with that other trougher Hoon the Horrible, not to mention her gullibility for falling for the sting operation set up by the Sunday Times/Despatches team. She is unlikely to be able to wield any influence with government or with senior civil servants. She is persona non grata. To be seen with her, or having to do with her may tar one with the same brush.... dangerous.

I wouldn't touch her with a tarry pole. It's only a matter of time before the greedy old fool will get caught out with some more horribly misjudged actions.... you know, like the coup that couldn't even topple Gordon Brown.... lol .... eejit!

I imagine the only way that this woman could open any doors would be if they gave her a job as a doorman, err woman... err person on the Eurostar. (Sorry Harriet.)

Can you imagine "The next train is leaving for Paris from platform 3 ... Le prochain train part pour Paris du quai numéro 3", said in that mock Thatcherite voice?

Monday, 29 March 2010


You’d think that even a government as full of third raters as Labour in London would have “learned lessons” from the last time they were stupid enough to tangle with Joanna Lumley.

But no. Alas, one junior member of it was too thick to grasp that it was dangerous to so do, especially without checking facts, and clearing it with the PM. So he used parliamentary privilege to slander both Joanna and the company of solicitors that she was working with in the Gurkha campaign.

Kevan Jones (never heard of him but he is nonetheless another minister at the Department of Defence), giving evidence to the Commons Home Affairs Committee earlier this month said Ms Lumley and fellow campaigners had not done enough to explain to Gurkhas the new rules permitting any of them with more than four years' service to apply to settle in the UK.

There has been some criticism in the press of the way that some Gurkhas have been treated on arrival in the UK, but this can in no way be laid at the door of either Joanna, or the solicitors Howe and Co whom Jones also deprecated. It seems to me that the MoD, which is charged with co-ordinating this matter, is at fault for failing to ensure that veterans are put in touch with the service wel
fare organisations.

The hapless Jones criticised Ms Lumley’s silence on the matter; he said he found it irritating. However Joanna explained on radio this evening that she had agreed to work with Gordon Brown and Number 10 on the issue. She said: "Last year Gordon Brown took personal charge of the Gurkha issue. He asked us to deal with No 10 , out of the glare of publicity. We respected his request and kept our promise."

After putting up with weeks of rumours and then Jones’s remarks (made under parliamentary privilege), Ms Lumley, Howe & Co, and the Gurkha Justice Campaign called a press conference today at which Ms Lumley said she had come along “with a sense of regret, that we've had to come to this... clearing our names in public".

She said articles had appeared "which must have put doubt into the hearts of all the people who supported the Gurkha justice campaign". She urged the prime minister "to affirm that the policy is one that he still completely supports".

This afternoon Jones apologised to Ms Lumley for any offence his remarks had caused her, but he was unavailable for interview. Doubtless he was trying to extract a Nokia from his left nostril, aware that only the proximity of the election had saved his sorry ass from repositioning itself on the back benches.

Joanna confirmed that Brown had spoken with her on the phone after the press conference. He read out Jones’s apology and added one of his own and did indeed confirm his commitment to the policy.

Damned right. If these men are good enough to lay their lives on the line for the UK, the least we can do is see them settled here if that is what they wish.

Message to incoming government whoever they are. Don’t mess with JL. She’ll eat you for breakfast, and the British public will devour the leftovers.

Pictured: The truly Absolutely Fabulous Joanna Lumley; the truely abolutely unfabulous Kevan Jones and the statue outside the MoD, London, to the Gurkhas

PS: Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw said about Gurkhas: "If a man says he is not afraid of dying, he is either lying or he is a Gurkha."


The new rules published for MPs’ expenses can be summarised as follows:

No claims towards mortgages;

Reduced travel/subsistence costs;

One relative only on staff;

No claims for cleaning, gardening or tax fiddling;

Extra help for MPs with young children.

Will they be enough to start to restore confidence in the House of Commons or can that never happen? Will most of us continue to have a sneaking suspicion that they are still “at it”?

The reforms seem generally reasonable for a start, and I reckon we should see how it goes. We can rely on the Daily Telegraph to keep a weather eye on what is happening and report any slippage.

Those with constituencies at least 20 miles or 60 minutes from Westminster will be able to claim up to £1,450 a month to rent a one bedroom flat. (MPs with children aged under five, single parents with children under 21 and those caring for disabled children will get extra support.) I would have made it a bit more than 20 miles. People do have to commute to work; that’s the way life is, but the these new rules are an improvement.

All claims will require receipts, which again is a step on the road to normality. Who else can claim expenses without receipts?

Payoffs to retiring MPs will be stopped. Well, that’s fair too. They know the job is for a limited period, and many of us work on short term contracts and get no pay offs at the end of them.

MPs will be able to employ one relative in the future. This is possibly sense as much of an MP’s work may have to be conducted from home, however, once again it will have to be monitored to see how many of them manage to abuse it. It was really only because some of them abused the system by employing their kids to do nothing (Conway the Conservative Conman) that the matter came to light.

MPs will be reimbursed for trips between Westminster and their constituencies at ordinary so-called ‘standard class’ rates. Although, with the mess of rail fares how they are going to judge what that is, I really don’t know.

Cleaning and gardening claims are no longer be allowed, nor are claims for accountants to work out MPs' tax. Well, that makes all kinds of sense. Many of us have busy lives but manage to wash a few dishes and a shirt or two (although not at the same time). If you are renting a flat you shouldn’t have a garden, so that makes that simple. And if you want to fiddle your tax, don’t expect me to pay for an expert to help you do it.

MPs will be allowed to claim £15 for an evening meal if the House sits after 7.30 pm, if they provide a receipt. That won’t suit some, who spend more on a bottle of wine than a pensioner gets for a week.

So as I say, this seems a reasonable package on the face of it. We (and the Daily Telegraph) will need to keep a close eye on it to ensure that they don’t find ways to cheat!

Right. When are we going to start on the idiotic anarchronism that it the House of Lords?

Pictured: Derek Conway and family (the greedy brood who started it all) and some other more agreeable little piggies ......

Sunday, 28 March 2010


Another two of the little piggies have been caught trying to sell themselves for money (there’s a name for that, isn’t there? Starts with a P, huh?)

Adam Ingram
, a former Armed Forces minister, “regretted” being caught out by undercover reporters who recorded him offering to exploit government contacts in return for lobbying fees. He has said that he was conned into attending what he thought was a confidential interview for a US company thinking of setting up an advisory board. He was recorded boasting that he could draw on a pool of out-of-work ministers who could be used to harness contacts in return for a fee from the lobbying firm.

Poor scone! I imagine that anyone who could be so easily conned into a sting operation like this is too dumb to be of much use to any private company when he is no longer an MP. So bang goes that particular income strand Mr Ingram.

The other little piggie is the equally obscure Richard Caborn (that’s pretty close to “cab”) who was apparently some sort of sports minister. He was taped claiming that he might get a peerage and that that would "boost his chances" of extracting valuable information from the corridors of Westminster. (Woops! Firstly why would this obscure man get a peerage? And secondly I’d be interested in an explanation as to how his possible ennoblement would “boost his chances” in that way, and from whom, would he get the information.) He discussed the services he could offer including building relations with ministers who were “good friends”. His asking price is apparently £2,500 “plus expenses” per day. (Incidentally, Dick my lad, you could probably forget the peerage now old thing!)

Needless to say, in time honoured Labour fashion, the Sheffield MP denied any wrongdoing (yawn) and burbled on about his comments being taken “out of context”, and giving the “impression of something improper going on”. Like there wasn’t!!!!!

Given that Ingram said that he charged £1,500 a day or £1,000 a meeting and could make up to £173,000 a year from outside earnings on top of his £65,000 salary as an MP, I wonder if his constituents are concerned that their drains or school places might possibly take second place in the Ingram scheme of things.

The last set of egregious Labour fellows caught by the Sunday Times/Dispatches team (Hewitt, Byers and Hoon) was turfed out of the Labour Party, pending an investigation. If he goes on at this rate Brown won’t have to fight a general election to be chucked out of Downing Street. His majority is disappearing like sna’ aff a dyke!

Pictured: Some nice pigs, then Adam Ingram and then finally Richard Cabforhire, no sorry Caborn. =========>

Saturday, 27 March 2010

"We have big plans for this country - and we intend to see them through”

Not if I can help it!

Gordon Brown yesterday set out a raft of vague policies couched in management speak and called pledges, and he promised “Prosperity under Labour and Austerity under the Tories”.....

Sheeesh! Sometime I wonder what planet the man is from... if indeed any.

He made these pledges legally binding on a Labour government too. Right! The only problem is that, later, when Ed Miliband was asked on radio if, given that they were legally binding, failure to deliver would mean that the government would be in court, Ed said, no, but we could kick them out of office....

Erm, what Ed?.... I thought we could do that anyway.... It’s called democracy.... you know, what we now have in Iraq, Afghanistan and the UK... or don’t, actually, but that’s another rant.

So in reality the legal obligation thing is a gimmick that us thick “ordinary” people are not supposed to see through.

Here they are, then, along with my immediate thoughts. If you have your own to offer then you know I’d be delighted to hear them:

1. Secure the economic recovery and halve the budget deficit of £167 billion through economic growth, fair taxes and cuts to lower priority spending.

[Well, whoever gets in is going to have to do the first half of that, otherwise we will be broke. If the Retirement Pension rise completely nullified by tax increases (by failing to raise the allowances) is your idea of fair taxes, I doubt I’ll like that policy much.]

2. Raise family living standards, with low mortgage rates, increased tax credits for families with young children, helping first-time buyers and re-linking the state pension with earnings from 2012.

[How will you know if you have raised family living standards? What will the indicators be? And why not raise single people’s standards too? How can you help first time buyers when building societies ask 10-15% deposits, houses are £100-150,000, and there are student loans to repay? You can’t guarantee mortgage rates as they're commercial, and you’ve been promising to look at the pensions/earning link since Barbara Castle embarrassed you into it 13 years ago....]

3.Build a "high tech" economy, with support for businesses and industry in creating one million new skilled jobs; the delivery of high-speed rail, a green investment bank and broadband access for all.

You will create a million jobs, but your plans for downsizing the civil service and putting everything on line will lose between 1-2 million jobs. So, how does that work? The high speed rail is in England only right? How will you get broadband to all and how will they use it given that computers cost £400-£1,000, and broadband costs £30 a month? Try living on our planet for a while! And a green bank? Lord save us from another bloody bank!]

4. Protect frontline investment in policing, schools, childcare and the NHS, as well as a guarantee of cancer test results within a week.

[Can you imagine any government which would not guarantee investment in all these things? And did you know that police, schools, childcare and the NHS are absolutely nothing to do with you in OUR country? Are all these pledges just for England, or is this another "presidential debate" moment?]

5. Strengthen fairness in communities through an Australian style points-based system to control immigration, guarantees of education, apprenticeships and jobs for young people, and a crackdown on anti-social behaviour.

[Will you remember that the UK is not London and that immigration issues are different depending on where you live? Why have you not cracked down on anti-social behaviour before given that it makes the lives of millions of people unbearable? Are you remembering that policing is nothing to do with you in my country? Where will the apprenticeships be? Where will the jobs be?]

Please Gordon. Slip out into the real world quietly in disguise and find out what the hell is going on. Then go back and think again. If you can’t do that then shut the hell up and stop telling us fairy stories. We’ve heard them all before.

Remember “Things can only get better”?

Pictured: (Click on to enlarge) Labour Pledge Card, and some demented North British muppet.

PS: Don't forget to change your clocks if you're in the UK: (Spring forward, Fall back!)


Last week David Cameron was courting the so-called “pink vote” with a video interview with “Gay Times” part of which Tom Harris has posted with some well chosen words. It really is well worth a watch if you like a laugh.

Today it’s the so-called “grey vote” that he’s after (I just noticed that it was last week gay; this week gray... I wonder when it will be Brown!). What I’m thinking is... is this as erm inept as last week’s courting....?

Cameron said he wanted 'dignity and security in old age' (well, he’s not going to say the opposite, is he?) and he promised to protect the winter fuel allowance and free bus passes (I guess the latter will be in England).

He agreed that the older generation has a vast amount of power at the ballot box, being as there are so many of them and that they tend to vote.

Mr Cameron restated the Tories’ commitments to re-linking the state pension to earnings, a hugely expensive reversal of the iniquitous reforms of Mrs Thatcher’s in the 1980s. He also committed to freezing council tax for two years as the Salmond government has already done in Scotland.

He said that he was aware that many, many pensioners lived on incredibly tight budgets and that as a result increases in electricity prices, gas prices, or council tax, were hugely difficult for them.

He said: “We are facing a very difficult situation in this country with huge budget deficits, massive problems with the Government’s finances. So we have to be very careful about the policies that we make but I think there are some things that we can do to help.”

The Conservatives claim that a single pensioner on an average income will be more than £110 a year worse off under Labour because of what they are calling ‘tricksy’ changes in the budget. They party claims that this 2.5% rise in basic state pension is £59 less than if it had been increased in line with inflation, and pensioners lose out too because of the income tax allowances freeze.

Cameron said: "Who would ever have thought a Labour government would hurt pensioners in such a devious way?" And in that matter I agree wholeheartedly. What kind of people cheat OAPs, and have done so for so long. Barbara Castle must be spinning in her grave.

Cameron added: "They (Labour) go around scaring pensioners, telling you that the Conservatives are going to cut the winter fuel allowance, cut pension credit and end free bus travel and TV licences for over 75s. I can promise you, these are lies, lies, lies. You have my word. If we win the election, we will protect all of these things."

You will be held to that Mr Cameron. All of it including the dignity part. There is currently no dignity in the way that some of our senior citizens live, and it is up to you to start to fix it, regardless of the country's financial situation. It is more important that people over 65 live in a decent and relatively comfortable way than that bankers get bonuses or MPs and Lords get expenses. Make sure you see to it David.

Pictured: Mr Cameron, and a random illustration of how some of our people, that's you and me, spend our last days.

Jim McGovern claims the credit.......Joe Fitzpatrick does the work

From the pages of the Dundee Courier’s Political Round-up comes this heartening tale of hard work rewarded.

That hard work is, according to Labour, the work of Dundee’s sole flyer of the red flag, Dundee West MP Jim McGovern. The Courier reports that Jim claims to have put in a huge amount of effort to secure Dundee a £100 million taxpayer boost for the high tech gaming industry in which the city excels.

It is suggested that Jim has been slogging away night and day by all possible means to secure that huge (and it is huge so I will say it again) £100 million.....and, I suppose, to help secure his lonely outpost of ex-Labour domination on the Tay.

But wait a minute........... This is a Labour MP we are talking about. The sort that likes to take all the credit, but do very little for it. So imagine Jim’s ire when some busybody sent in an FOI request to the Scotland Office to actually see all the communications on this subject between our Jim and them.

How dare they not take Honest Jim at his word, the blackguards!

Just out of interest, how many communications where there, I hear you all ask?

Well the answer given from the Scotland Office was........ one, and that was a letter sent to Dundee West MSP, Joe Fitzpatrick, Jim’s SNP counterpart in the Scottish Parliament.

Oh dear!

Hardly value for money is Jim, the ninth most expensive MP at Westminster with a whopping claim for £171,989.

It seems that 'well done Joe' should really be the order of the day.


There is no doubt that Sadam Hussein was a murdering tyrant, but you have to wonder if the mess that has replaced this once friend of the United States (and therefore the UK) is any better.

We were promised for all our tax pounds (or dollars) and all those lives, Iraqi and Western, that democracy would be brought to the country.

But today Iraq is heading for a dangerous and uncertain future after Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, lost the election narrowly but refused to step down. That’s democracy for you?

It has taken 3 weeks of counting marred by accusations of fraud, but in the final count the nationalist Iraqiya bloc led by Ayad Allawi won 91 seats, to 89 for Mr Maliki's State of Law.

Mr Maliki accused election officials of fixing the result and has demanded a recount. He said he did not accept the result. His supporters have threatened a return to sectarian violence if Mr Allawi were to be declared the winner. There have been demonstrations in Baghdad and chiefs from southern Iraq, the power base of Mr Maliki’s State of Law party, have said that there will be a "major escalation" unless there was a recount.

However, officials have refused, and election observers from the United Nations have reported only small irregularities. The UN representative in Iraq said that the elections had been credible and he called on all parties to accept the result.

In the weeks that follow it is likely then that sectarian violence will erupt again, as the parties battle for supremacy. Neither of course can form a government alone and both will be looking to the third-placed Iraqi National Alliance to work in coalition with them.

As I read this sad story in
The Telegraph, it occurred to me that once again the US and UK poked their noses where they were not wanted. First they removed a dictator without the slightest notion of what or who to put in his place. Then they forced a so-called democracy on a country which a hundred years before they had cobbled together, ignorant of, or at least uninterested in, the composition of it, from three very separate regions with different peoples with different religious beliefs and customs.

The chances of this working were so slim that they really were discountable.

Under Sadam the Iraqi people were lacked democracy, and with weapons that we sold him Sadam kept them in check, and yes, there was slaughter: gassings, torture and murders.

But, if you kept your nose clean, got on with your work, and didn’t criticise the government, most could go about their business without fear of violence or intimidation. Iraq was relatively progressive. Women were relatively free to take up careers, adopt Western dress, and enjoy some level of freedom.

All of that has gone. Quite apart from the misery wished upo
n innocent people during “Shock and Awe”, the frightful violence that has been visited upon the Iraqis by the incompetence displayed by the conquering governments has wrecked lives. From leaving open the borders to allow Al Qaeda to penetrate the country to the foul atrocities of a small number of Western troops we have let these people down badly.

When, oh when, will
Stupid White Men learn to look after their own countries, instead of poking their noses into things they do not understand? Lord knows there was enough wrong with the UK to have kept Tony Blair occupied for years.

Pictured: Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and his main rival Ayad Allawi (GETTY IMAGES), Iraq, and Torture in Abu Ghraib.

Friday, 26 March 2010


Sorry if I seem to be going on and on about Geoff Hoon (and the rest of the sorry assed bunch of losers that constitute the Labour Party) but I really just can’t get over what a complete balloon (yeah, it rhymes too) the man is.

He was stupid enough to give an interview to the Today programme this morning. Amazingly the BBC saw fit to give him the coveted 8.10am spot with the star interviewer. (For anyone reading who doesn’t listen to the Today programme [Radio 4], the interview right after the 8 o’clock news is considered to be the most important of the day, when most people are listening, and is much sought after by politicians wanting their message to reach the largest number of ears.)

Well, I don’t know what he thought he would achieve by this, but whatever it was, he certainly didn’t in my house.

He apologised for "showing-off" to an undercover journalist over his political influence, and admitted, "I certainly got it wrong. I should've known better”. He then went on to justify that behaviour, arguing: "Most people faced with a situation where they know they are leaving a job, working their notice, would think about their future. The skills, the experience of a member of parliament are not readily translatable into other walks of life." {Skills?????}

He repeated this matra over and over again. He had to think of his future. He needed to ensure that he had employment. Most people would think it was reasonable, indeed sensible to be looking for work. His pension wouldn’t kick in for many years. (When do they get their pension; at 80?)

He continued: "I accept that in the course of that conversation I said a number of things that because I thought I was engaged in what was an informal chat - wasn't leading to any particular position.”

Interviewer James Naughtie was particularly am
using when Hoon protested that he didn’t want to be a Lobbyist. Naughtie responded: “No, you seemed to suggest you were a bit above that.”

Naughtie, never one to miss the opportunity of knocking a politician when he’s made a fool of himself, dragged up the matter of Hoon’s attempt with Hewitt to topple the prime minister in a coup which had fizzled out before it was launched. The journalist asked if he had believed that he had the support of cabinet ministers, and Hoon in true politician style dodged and dived. But for any of the public who might have forgotten that farce, it was all brought back to life.

If Hoon is looking for a job, what he was doing was a very public, very bad interview. The message was: I’m a tube; I run off at the mouth and show off; I promise stuff I can’t deliver: I am a liar. Geez a joab!

As a post script, I heard that Pat Hewitt is being considered for a job on the board of the Channel Tunnel. Now I’d have said that that poor tunnel has more than its fair share of bad luck in the past, and that Pat Hewitt is a further piece of misfortune that it could well do without, but I’d like to add that if she ever becomes a director, I for one, will never travel on its trains again.

Pictured: Buffoon Balloon Prune Goon Hoon and the lovely Patricia Hewitt, the train drivers amie! The cover of Hoon's CV.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Lýðveldið Ísland... One of the most beautiful places in the world

I was having a quick look at the stats for the blog tonight (thanks to you all for looking in) and I was delighted to see the first ever, as far as I know, visitor from Iceland.

It made me look for some pictures of the country to remind me of what a beautiful place it is....

Contrary to its name, which of course is not Iceland but Island (Lýðveldið Ísland), the country is not that cold or that icy. The temperatures are not really much more or less than you’d expect in parts of Scotland and the landscapes are breathtaking. The towns are small, and beautifully clean. The buildings are bright and colourful in a northern way, perhaps to brighten the dark of northern winters.

The peop
le are hard-working, well educated, speak several languages and love it when a stranger speaks Icelandic, however little, with a foreign accent. There are fewer than 400,000 of a population and yet they have built a modern and until recently prosperous society. One day soon it will be prosperous again.... long long before Britain Mr Murphy.

Of course, according to Gordon Brown they are terrorists, but then who cares what that has been thinks.

I thought you might enjoy some pictures of this beautiful country.

Barack Obama leaves Netanyahu to work something out and goes for dinner....alone

Binyamin Netanyahu was humiliated when, while meeting with the President of the United States in the White House, he refused to back down on his plans to build more settlement in occupied territories of the West Bank.

The United Nations, of which Israel is a member and the United States, which is a generous funder of Israel, have both demanded that no new homes be built on what the UN declare to be Palestinian lands. Mr Netanyahu disagrees, and his government has given the go ahead for a mass of building works.

So Mr Obama, faced with the immovable, left the meeting with Netanyahu and went to dinner. He invited the prime minister to stay at the White House, consult with advisors and “let me know if there is anything new”, according to a US congressman.

The Times reports that one Israeli newspaper called the meeting “a hazing in stages”, poisoned by mistrust. Another said that the prime minister had received “the treatment reserved for the President of Equatorial Guinea”. (I’m not sure why the President of Equatorial Guinea would get that treatment from the President of the USA. In fact, as a president and head of state, he is entitled by protocol to a better reception than a mere prime minister.

That aside, Netanyahu and team were sent off to the Roosevelt Room and after the president had eaten, had another brief meeting with Mr Obama. The prime minister also extended his stay for emergency talks aimed at restarting peace negotiations. However, with no progress being made he left for Israel with no official statement from either side.

It is an embarrassment that he had to return home isolated and embarrassed. He may have found George Bush a walk over. The current president is a different kettle of fish.

I try not to take sides in the Palestine-Israel affair, simply because it is too complicated for me to understand. What I can see is that, under the UN agreed situation Israel has a right to exist, and within its own borders be safe, so the shelling from Gaza and the intermittent attacks by suicide bombers are intolerable. On the other hand the Palestinians are treated incredibly shabbily by Israel and under Netanyahu, the situation has worsened. Starved of food and water, and essentials, including medicines, life, both in the West Bank and in Gaza, has become equally intolerable. Both sides are at fault, and unless something gives, it will only get worse.

I doubt that Netanyahu is an easy man to deal with. He is a hard line right winger. I imagine that his intransigence was less to Barack Obama’s taste than it had been to George W Bush’s. ‘Know thine enemy’, is a good maxim. Mr Obama has already shown that he does not suffer fools gladly. Clearly Mr N, didn’t bother to learn that, and has paid for it with a red face.

Pictured: The Israeli Prime Minister and President Barack Obama



The matter of abuse by priests of the Catholic Church is one which this blog has covered before. It is no secret how much I despise the way that people entrusted with care of kids, totally trusted by their parents, abused that trust.

Now the whole subject has moved up a notch if
The Times is to be believed. It seems that the Pope himself has been involved in the cover up of at least one scandal.

It reports revelations that in the 1990s he, as Cardinal Ratzinger failed to defrock an American priest who molested hundreds of deaf boys, despite receiving letters from a number of American bishops pleading with him to act.

Internal correspondence from bishops in Wisconsin directly to the Cardinal warning him that failure to act could embarrass the church, have been found.

The particular case involves the priest, Lawrence Murphy, who allegedly molested up to 200 pupils in their dormitories, on excursions and elsewhere.

Fr Murphy wrote to Cardinal Ratzinger begging for leniency. He said that he had already repented and was in poor health and wanted to live out the rest of his life in what he called the “dignity” of the priesthood. “Dignity”, after molesting 200 kids is a bit steep, but these people’s minds seem to work in funny ways.

The worrying thing for Scotland is that it appears that Viceroy Spud, on instructions for Gordon Brown, presumably with some hopes of gaining political advantage from the situation, went to Vatican City to invite His Holiness to make a state visit to Scotland. Further to that, His Holiness was pleased to accept the Queen’s invitation, and he will arrive at Edinburgh Airport on September 16, to be greeted by the Duke of Rothsay, and taken to Holyrood House to meet the Queen and the First Minister, and then be taken to Glasgow for an open-air Mass.

If it is shown that the Pope did in fact allow such a man to continue as a priest, to avoid the disgrace, and the civil law in Wisconsin, which would undoubtedly have meant prison, what kind of a reception will the people of Scotland show this man?

We are by and large a decent people. Adherents of his Church were always going to line the streets and wave the flags of Scotland and the Vatican State. But peoples of other faiths too would surely have welcomed him as a head of state and head of a Church. Mindful of the respect that it is normal to pay such a person, I wonder what ordinary Scots would feel about a man who hid the truth about an abuser of 200 kids? I know how I feel.

Is this yet another example of something Brown touches turning to dust.

Pictured: The Pope alone and with the Viceroy in St Peter's, Vatican.


Wednesday, 24 March 2010


Well, poor old Geoff Hoon has cooked his goose well and truly this time.

It seems that he has been dismissed from a high level group of NATO personnel chaired by ex-Secretary of State Madeline Albright and tasked with studying new strategic concepts for the alliance (whatever that may be, and indeed whatever use he would have been to them).

He was caught on camera for a Channel Four Despatches programme bragging that a recent tax-payer funded trip to Washington DC, had involved “three days work for NATO followed by ‘a couple of days of Hoon work’”. He shouted his mouth off about the role that “provided him with commercially lucrative insights which could be useful to the arms industry”. He now wanted to turn his contacts and into “something that, bluntly, makes money”. Nice one Buster, we pay for you to go there (first class, I have no doubt, and pay for your hotel and food and you spend the time working for your greedy little self to make money in the arms trade. What kind of pond life are you?)

Anyway, his butt must be well sore because as a result of this piece of bragging to a young female journalist posing as a businesswoman, he has been tossed out of the Labour party and had his ass sacked from the NATO job that he was getting all these contacts from.

As my dear friend Spook would have said if he were writing this.....”wee shame”.

It appears that Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the secretary-general of NATO, asked him to leave when Gordon Brown made clear that he did not wish the former chief whip to remain a member of the committee.

So there you go you wee tube....... That’s what you get for trying to impress the ladies that despite your thinning hair, double chin and lined face you are still a force to be reckoned with. A word to the wise..... It’s probably best to remember that if a young lady is showing interest in you of any sort at all, there’s probably an ulterior motive, so watch out for the hidden camera, and mic, and keep your silly fat gob shut.

To think we once entrusted the lives of our troops to this fool.

Pictured: NATO summit and The Right Dishonourable Geoff Hoon, MP


The signing into law of the Healthcare Bill is, as VP Biden colourfully said, a big deal, an historic moment happening in our lifetimes. So I asked Munguin’s Republic’s own ‘Alistair Cooke’ for his point of view on the subject…. And he very kindly gave it……………… Thanks Danny.

Regular readers of Munguin’s Republic will know that for about a year their colonial cousins have been gripped in a titanic political struggle to establish a program of universal healthcare for Americans regardless of their means. Such a program has eluded presidents for many decades, not least the high profile failure of Bill and Hillary Clinton almost twenty years ago.

With President Obama’s signing last Tuesday of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the US now how such a law, which Britain, the European nations, and almost every other developed nation on earth has had for decades.

The effort has demonstrated how really hard it is for the federal government of the United States to pass a big, controversial piece of legislation, requiring as it does, the simultaneous agreement of three constitutionally independent, and separately elected political powers….the two houses of Congress, and the President.

Tris has reported some milestones along the way – the passage of a major parliamentary hurdle last December in the Senate, and the imminent passage of the final bill in the House just a few days ago. Along the way, he documented the spectacular and ironic loss to the Republicans of Ted Kennedy’s Massachusetts Senate seat, which promised to derail the whole process by the loss of the Democratic 60 vote senate supermajority. Finally, he’s posted a report on the emergence of the right wing Tea Party Protest movement, and Republican fear mongering on the health care issue.

Politically, this centerpiece of President Obama’s legislative agenda was accomplished by the House of Representative’s passage of last December’s Senate-approved version of the bill as written, with the promise that the Senate will immediately consider a package of changes in a so-called reconciliation bill, now being debated in that body. But regardless of the outcome of that debate, and regardless of the Republican bluff and bluster about efforts for immediate repeal and constitutional challenges, the bill is now the law of the land and very likely to remain so.

Whether Democrats will be rewarded or punished for this in the upcoming mid-term elections is not at all clear. Right wing Republicans…..the Tea Party protesters and others…..skillfully wrested the political message away from the Obama administration last summer. The administration was caught utterly flat-footed over a Republican crafted political outcry about this new federal government “takeover” of the American health care system.

The program was called Marxist, Communist, or Nazi, every despicable word in the American political lexicon. Pictures of Obama as Stalin, Hitler, and Chairman Mao flourished during last summer’s rallies. Sarah Palin told us that “death panels” would be established to rule on whether or not your life would be worth saving. (In fact, the program is an insurance-based system that works within the existing private health care delivery system, and heavily favors the private insurance industry.)

The willingness of the Republicans to deliberately frame the “debate” in the manner they did, and the gullibility of many Americans in believing it, speaks poorly of the American political process. I’m sure that there are fringe political groups in Britain, but it’s hard to imagine that such utter and complete insanity could ever infect Britain’s mainstream political discourse.

The bill received a glittering ceremonial signing in the East Room of the White House with dignitaries and private citizens of all stripes in attendance. And we can always depend on Vice President Joe Biden to inject some unintended humor into such an occasion. After a lavish introduction of the President, Biden whispered into his ear…..AND directly into an open microphone….. "this is a big (BLEEPING) deal.”

But of course he was right. It is precisely that.

Pics show (1) the president signing the bill into law, and (2) surrounded by some of the people who made it happen, including a brave little lad who lost his mother because they were too poor to pay for medical care.

You may also be interested in I found it moving, and at the same time funny.


Tuesday, 23 March 2010

And it was on the Monday Morning that the Gas Man FAILED to Call!

It never rains but it pours for Gordon. First the civil servants, then the BA staff, then the railways and now the gas men.

The British Gas dispute is over working conditions of engineers, boilers fitters and general electrical repairers. The union (GMB) also claims the company has a "bullying culture".

British Gas wants to make the engineers work longer hours. Many of the engineers apparently get away with working a four-day week, even though they are paid for a full week's work, which seems like a weird situation to me. Of course you might ask how the management (so called) allowed this situation to come about in the first place.

The GMB claim their members are subject to bullying and that engineers are pressured to sell extra services to customers whilst mending or fitting a boiler. According to the union the average amount of time an engineer is allowed to fix a boiler or other appliance had been cut by 22 per cent, in an effort to ensure workers completed more jobs in a given week. So.... they only work four days a week, but they have to do 5 days work in the four days..... Hello, is there anyone in?

Of course British Gas denies all of this. According to them they are model employers and no pressure or bullying is ever exerted on anyone at any time ever....

A whole article can be read here, and various people may analyse it the way that they will. However, I suggest that this is just the start of a lot of action over the next months and possibly years, regardless of who wins the election.

This recession was caused by greedy and incompetent people at the top. Banks and Financial organizations wanted more and more money; governments failed to regulate companies who were behaving outrageously madly. Even financial illiterates like me could see that if incomes rose at 2-4% on average and house prices rose at 10 12%, there would shortly come a time when no one could afford to buy a house except the Queen (and maybe Lard Ashcroft).

Inevitably it all crashed... just because it was bound to sometime... and one day someone started a whisper that it had started, and so people started calling in debts upon which the world depended for its very existence, and ....BANG! It was over. (Of course it started in America and spread around the world.... tra la)

Even in Britian where the Wizard of Arse had abolished Boom and Bust, the bottom fell out of the economy. (Obviously it was everyone else’s fault)

Now we have to pay. But it’s not the people who caused all this strife who are paying. Oh no. It is BA cabin staff; it’s engineers; it’s transport workers, and civil servant. It’s soldiers and pensioners, and it will be all manner of other people.

Amazingly the bonuses for the morons in the banks go on, because if they don’t get big bonuses they will throw their toys out of the pram and go somewhere else. It’s not Ministers and it’s not MPs who have just pocketed £1,000 a year increase, as pensioners are getting a decrease.

British Gas have mismanaged their way into this, and because “everyone” has to tighten their belts they are trying to force their fitters to do more for less. (Despite the fact that British Gas have been coining it in!)

So, if anyone thinks that these strikes are anything other than the beginning of unrest ...then they should probably think again. It seems like Brits have may grown a back bone.


Well, whoever would have thought it of the British Civil Service? Apparently, due to poor financial management the Ministry of Defence faces a crisis.

A “black hole” of some £80 billion no less, has been discovered. And the MoD’s answer is to pay off between 300 and 500 troops despite us being at war.

No, I swear to you, this is not April 1. According to The Times: “Despite the conflict in Afghanistan, the Armed Forces are preparing for swingeing cuts to procurement programmes and personnel under a strategic defence review, after the election".


As I understand it we have troops out there in Afghanistan, badly equipped from a lack of massively expensive kit like helicopters and tanks, down to the lack of bullets and boots, and the fact that their rations are pitiful. They also spend far too long at the front, return far too often, and are suffering incredible stress. Stress which is exacerbated by the conditions their families live in back home (well not senior people obviously. This IS Britain), and with all that (and more) going on they are going to pay off between 300 and 500.

Nope. You really couldn’t make that up, so it must be true.

The Army responds by saying that it is closer to full strength than it has been for years, (possibly due to healthy recruitment became of the recession and the DWP bullying unemployed lads), but that seems to me to miss the point that the full strength is not enough when you have a war going on, and when so many of your numbers are not able to fight due to war induced injury and

According to the Public Accounts Committee matters have worsened to the point where the MoD will have to take difficult decisions, such as to cancel whole equipment programmes. So our troops will be even worse equipped, if that’s possible.

OK Brown, or indeed Cameron, or possibly even Clegg, if he holds the balance of power: this is the message from Munguin’s Republic, but I’ll bet it is echoed by people all over the country.

If we can’t afford to be involved in stuff like this, then withdraw, or at least draw down our commitment to the level that we can afford. Start looking very carefully at what can be cut.

But look at the top, the frills, the ...........Do senior officers need mansions or drivers? Must they have massive expense accounts? Need there be so many (I heard there were more Admirals at the MoD than there are ships in the British Navy)? Why so many staff in the MoD, especially when they seem to have mismanaged the organisation into bankruptcy?

Start cutting from the top. Whatever you do, do not, at any price, cut from the bottom. Britain is a small, and thanks to Labour’s recession, very poor country. There’s a limit to what we will stand being done to our troops so that you ministers can continue to sit at President Obama’s right hand, where you most certainly do not belong!

Pictured: The Ministry of Defence Building in London and the tri-service badge which I reproduce here with acknowledgement to the British Crown Copyright (as I am instructed to do).


Monday, 22 March 2010

The Man with an Ambiguous Relationship with the Truth

Stephen Byers, the Right Honourable Stephen Byers MP, to give him his full title... (Nope, it’s no good, I’m sorry, I can’t say the man’s name and ‘honourable’ in the same paragraph without busting out in uncontrollable laughter). What a complete and utter idiot this man is.

When you consider his career it’s hard to feel anything but complete revulsion for this self serving character.

In his early junior ministerial posts his blunders were legend, like, when introducing a literacy and numeracy campaign as minister at the English Dept of Education, he insisted the 7 x 8 was 54.

As Trade Secretary in 2000 he was responsible for the fiasco that allowed a few people to make a fortune at the expense of the taxpayer and the employees of the Rover Group. A disgusting display that was either incompetence or something like it.....

Then he put Railtrack into administration (and created Network Rail), all over a weekend. The result of this was that we eventually had to give the shareholders compensation after the largest class legal action ever seen in the English courts... all at horrendous cost to the taxpayer.....

On September 11, 2001, Byers' political adviser Jo Moore sent an email advising people that this was “a very good day to get out anything we want to bury", given that the news media were all engaged with what was unfolding in New York. Both of them survived that folly, but clearly no “lessons had been learned” because a few months later a memo from her immediate boss Martin Sixsmith warned her NOT to try to bury any more bad news on the day of the funeral of the Queen’s sister, implying that she had been intending to do so.... Of course Byers, who was responsible for these staff survived.

Then there was considerable bad feeling over Byers’ decision to allow pornographic-magazine publisher Richard Desmond to buy the Daily Express.......

In 2009 it was revealed that Byers had claimed more than £125,000 in second home allowances for a London flat owned by his partner (and where he lives rent-free), including £27,000 for redecoration, maintenance and appliances for this property...... Unbelievable, but he got away with that too.

And now the man that is for hire as if he were a taxi cab, or maybe he isn’t, if we are to believe Adonois and ... ha ha ha , wait for it.... Mandleson...

You see the problem? Who to believe? Made worse by the fact that Harry Harperson says that it’s alright, or rather says that the PM says that it’s alright, no “wrong doings” and absolutely no need for an inquiry. Phew, the whitewash manufacturers in China must be breathing a sigh of relief.

Anyway, he tells this young female undercover journalist that he can get things done, and has. £500 million here, Peter Mandleson there, red benches... no bother, leave it to him....

But then Mandy and the Adonis fellow say they’ve never heard of him, or at least they know who he is but they never talk to him.... In fact no one seems to know him, or want to know him...

What a stinking mess. What a bunch of sleazy self serving liars they are.

I know it would be better for Britain if we elected a hung parliament and benefited from some of the good common sense that Vince Cable will bring, and the influence of the National parties....but there are times that you just wish that almost every man jack of them would get crushed at the election, never to be heard of again.

Pictured: Yeah, twice for a laugh, Stephen Byers.... lovely little man.