Wednesday 30 September 2009
Harriet Harman, deputy leader of the Labour Party (well, after Lord Mandleson of course), seemed to lose the plot in her speech to conference.
Departing from her script, Harman, who is the niece of a Baroness, and who was educated at one of England’s top private schools for girls, in a class war blunder it’s hard to believe even she could have made, painted a picture of a Diversity Evening at the Tories’ Conference next week.
According to the Daily Mail, she suggested that it could be held in the Carlton Club and that David Cameron could propose more opportunities for fox hunting. She went on to suggest that George Osborne would replace Sure Start with Lap Dancing clubs, and that Theresa May, the Shadow Equalities Minister would not be allowed to speak because she is a woman. She might, however, be allowed to serve the drinks.
Harman is no stranger to opening her mouth and letting her belly rumble. Just before the MPs’ expenses scandal broke, while Fred Goodwin’s pension was the subject of much approbation, and when she herself was in the spotlight over her plotting to replace Gordon Brown, she famously suggested that Mr Goodwin’s pension would not happen, because the Prime Minister did not want it to happen (as if he were some mediaeval emperor), and followed it up with her famous gaff about the court of public opinion deciding Mr Goodwin’s fate. This was a remark she was destined to regret bitterly when a couple of weeks later half her colleagues were on the ropes for expense difficulties and the aforesaid court of her invention was working overtime.
Insiders close to Ms Harman apparently said it was light-hearted fun, but you do have to wonder about the judgement of this woman who is not only a lawyer by profession, but a QC!
Hypocrisy abounds at Labour Central; Mr Brown, it seems, would like everybody to be behind him but thinks that it is people who decide and not newspapers. So he is not overly worried that the Sun has deserted him in favour of Mr Cameron.
Strange then that he found it necessary to cancel his appearance at a party thrown by News International and even stranger that his boss the Right Horrible, Graceless and Ignoble Lard Meddlesome thought it appropriate to give the NI Chief Executive, Rebecca Brooks, a piece of his mind, going so far as to call her a c**t, or as he himself later put it in a most convincing manner, a “chump”.
Yes your Lordship, I can just see you calling up NI after your glorious leader’s speech and umpteenth re-launch had gone belly up and calling her a chump. “I say Rebecca. You’re a bit of a chump, what!” Yeah right! That’s maybe what a real lord would do, not a little oink like Mandleson.
So then, just to prove that there were no hard feelings, Gordon himself did what was probably a pre-arranged interview with NI’s Sky TV, complete with a face like a broken scone. At the end he glared at the interviewer, stood up and strode away (despite warnings), without having the mic removed... A Nokia moment was only a few seconds away.
So no problems there. Everything’s fine. Newspapers don’t win elections. Clearly that’s why the Prime Minister looks so happy.
Mr Brown promised us a couple of years ago that he would never use his family for political gain. This was around the time when Cameron was showing videos of his family around the breakfast table and him doing the washing up in an attempt to demonstrate to the world that Eton Toffs know that dishes don’t just wash themselves.
So, having broken that promise last year when Mrs Brown came out on stage and introduced him (somewhat sentimentally) at the Labour Party Conference (in case some there didn’t know who he was), Mr Brown broke his promise and trotted her out again this year. (I suppose there could still be people who don’t know who he is.)
She talked about them being together for nine years; she talked about good times and bad that they’d had; she told us she knew he loved our country, whatever that is.
She actually had the cheek to say to the foregathered that she knew he would always put Labour Supporters first... No, I’m not joking. So that means that around 75% of us will always come second. Nice one Mrs Brown.... Didn’t you used to be in PR?
One of the things that she appreciated was the fact that being married to Gordon; “ many of you have invited us into your homes and workplaces and the hearts of your local communities.” Yes, that’s how it was when she went door knocking in Glenrothes. Invited in to carefully selected people’s houses in case she got the door slammed in her face doing ordinary canvassing like other party workers.
She dribbled a load of sentimental rubbish about being glad that it was her Gordon who had the job of Prime Minister because she’d seen what the job was like close up. Like she was some great expert on being prime minister.....
“Because we've been together so long, I know he's not a saint. He's messy. He's noisy. He gets up at a terrible hour. But I know he wakes up every morning and goes to bed every evening thinking about the things that matter.”
He's not a saint? Well, we knew that. He's devious and self serving. He's messy? Yep, all these Nokias and bits of occassional furniture must take a lot of clearing up, and I guess the sound of phone hitting wall must disturb the concentration required for a serious bit of twittering. And I wish he’d do more than just get up and go to bed thinking about these things that matter Mrs Brown. I wish he’d think about them in between....and bloody well do something about them.
All in all it was a completely sickening performance. Thank Goodness it will be his, and her, last.
Tuesday 29 September 2009
Independence dream in tatters?
After year upon year of talking about the wish for independence from the United Kingdom, we learn that Scotland without the UK would not establish its own worldwide consular service.
Instead, an independent Scotland would hope to rent a room at the British Embassy.
What an admission. Presumably the rent costs would be met with Alex Salmond’s billions from what is euphemistically called “Scottish Oil”. It begs the question, with the money he said we would have, why can’t we afford embassies?
And if that wasn’t a smack in the face for the independence dreamers, what about the other one, “Independence in Europe”?
The latest from Brussels is an independent Scotland would not walk into membership of the EU without being part of the UK as it is very likely the other 27 member states would veto Scottish membership without the UK. — Eck Setterra.
I’m posting this because after reading it I cringed at the stupidity of some of my fellow Dundonians, but laterally came to realise that this is a good example of the sort of mindset that has to be overcome if we are to obtain our freedom. Talk about clutching at straws or in this case any ridiculous argument to legitimise the continued overrule of our country from abroad (Englandshire for those of you not in the know).
It starts off well enough with a good question from Mr Setterra (Do you think that’s his real name?) and I was looking forward to an interesting answer. But no, instead we get some half baked claptrap about not having our own consular representatives in foreign countries. In case you don’t know off the top of your head that would meant 193 (I’m not counting Taiwan) ambassadors and embassies plus diplomatic staff, cars, security and so on (Dare I say et cetera??). Quite a tall order for Mr Salmond’s billions (as he puts it). Never mind the obvious fact that the oil billions are ours (the Scots) and not Mr Salmonds personal piggy bank. I for one don’t want the oil money squandered on a load of high living freeloaders who do nothing for most of the time except attend parties and drinks and functions at our expense. A bit like the royal family only a lot of the current British ones live better than the royal family but without the blue blood. You ask “why can’t we afford embassies” that answer which you yourself more or less give is that we can (or will) be able to afford them. But while parts of Scotland are some of the most deprived parts of the EU, while our sick still have to pay for prescription charges (not for very much longer thank you SNP) and while our elderly are living on a niggardly pittance given them by an out of touch minister in a foreign country we would rather spend our money on social justice. I imagine that will go doubly for the oil money when we get it because we will have to undo centuries of misrule.
Mr Setterra how is it euphemistically Scotland’s oil? Euphemistically means the act of substituting a mild, indirect or vague expression for one though to be offensive, harsh or blunt. What is the offensive phrase for which you are substituting “Scottish Oil”. I’m jiggered if I can think of one. I’m also unable to fathom how that phrase is mild, indirect or vague or indeed anything other than a fact.
The final bit of Mr Setterra’s letter relates I guess to the article that appeared the day before (28/09/09) in the Scotsman:
It actually says that there would need to be negotiations regarding Scotland’s entry into the EU after it becomes independent. I don’t think the SNP ever claimed that there would be no negotiations at all. So it all depends on your definition of the word seamless. As we know Mr Setterra is on shaky ground when it comes to defining words. The rest of this article is based on research done by a law student at Hull University 10 years ago in 1999. I’m wondering if Mr Setterra is hostile to the EU after all if the UK left just think how many more embassies would be needed.
I’m just wondering whether Eck Setterra is a euphemism for something else?
Monday 28 September 2009
One day, a bit bored and feeling decidedly sore and sorry for myself, I switched on the tv and I heard this familiar music.... a sort of tinkling piano thing, followed by orchestra. Without looking at the screen I knew what it was and I was humming along. And that was what was strange. I have, or rather, had never in all my life watched this show, and yet I could hum the signature tune. With nothing else to do I sat and watched it... and the weird thing is that I also somehow knew the main character, and where the action took place.
I’m talking about “Murder She Wrote”, that cute bit of piano playing of John Addison’s music and the multi-talented Angela Lansbury or Jessica Fletcher of Cabot Cove, Maine. Population 3,560!
OK, so what, you may think (and one reader in Leith, who shall be nameless, is choking himself laughing at this), but the point is that although I’d never watched it (it’s on at 2.15 weekdays for heaven’s sake. I’d be at work), somehow I knew all about it. It occurs to me that there really hasn’t been a time when the BBC hasn’t been showing reruns of this show, and somehow it seems to have soaked into my brain.
Then when I got thinking about it I realised that although I’d never watched Corrie or Eastenders I could probably name a few of the cast, and although I never watch the Apprentice or Strictly Come Dancing or Britain’s Got Talent, I still know things about them, including being able to recognise the signature tunes.... Weird, don’t you think how popular culture somehow percolates into your subconscious?
Anyway the outcome is that I have become completely captivated by Mrs Fletcher, Amos Tupper and Seth Hazlitt, and never miss the show even although I’m back living at home, much recovered and have to get someone to record them for me. Over 12 seasons from 1984-1996 there were 264 episodes recorded and I aim to see them all.
Ok... I’m a secret Angela Lansbury fan, but this week it beats the very hell out of watching Gordon Brown and his team of cheerless has-beens talking to 2/3 empty halls of sad people looking as if they lost a pound and found a tanner.
For the London elections too, the contest is a two horse race. Under Jim Murphy, support for Labour has fallen by 5%.
This week as Laurel and Hardy, better know and Murphy and Gray, prepare for and rehearse their joint act for a bit of light relief at the Labour Party Conference, they must react with some dismay to the kind of stories that a desperate English Labour Party are putting about. After all it is they, and not the English who face a by-election in the next few months.
So Mr Milliband thinks that this is a good time to point out that there is not that much difference between Labour and the Conservatives. Of course wee Ed is right. What will change if we get the Tories? Trident? Afghanistan and funding of the war there? Cuts? Referendum of Scotland’s future? Reduction in Scotland’s pocket money from London? Work for Incapacity Benefits? Council Tax? Private Finance for Schools and Hospitals? Nope, certainly none of these. The truth is we will notice very little difference.
So much so that the Right Hon the Noble Lord Mandleson (och I’ll not bother with all of his title, it would take up the whole article). Suffice to say that his First Secretaryness has let it be known that he is available for work with the Tories. Are these people preparing for coalition government in an attempt to keep the SNP and Liberals from forming the next government?
Going into the by-election would the comedy double act care to let us know if they agree with their senior colleagues? Do they agree that the Tories and Labour are more or less the same party? Are they happy to offer their services to this party? (And would the Tories want them?)
Sunday 27 September 2009
Mr Finkelstein thinks that this probably means that she (the cleaner) is going to tell a story which will be at variance with that of the good (no, she’s not that either) Baroness. Oh dear.
What is more, one of the comments on the blog suggests that an opportune moment to release this story would be just shortly before Gordon makes his first big speech. I should imagine that this will have occurred to Clifford too.
To add to Scotland’s (that’s the peer not the country) embarrassment it seems that the rules regarding ministers claiming housing allowance have been reinterpreted.
From the Times:
Och, isn’t that sweet. It seems she was entitled to all that dosh and she didn’t steal it at all.
How do these people look at themselves in the mirror?
Sadly the Labour Party are holding their wake ...erm sorry ... conference ... this week. And in advance of it of course they are leaking how Gordon is going to put heart back into the party in advance of the election. This at a time when they are trailing the Tories by around 14 points and only in front of the Liberals by around 2 points. And let’s be honest, not even his best mates, if he has any, would call Gordon inspiring. He’s barely respiring by the looks of him.
So I was delighted to read Mr Barnes’ article in the Hootsman. Not even this illustrious organ can put much of a gloss on the sorry mess that is the Labour Party, however much they try. Brave attempt Eddie.
So, what have they lined up for our delectation next week? Well, it seems that they will be promising a, wait for it, Fiscal Responsibility Bill. Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha! A Fiscal Responsibility Bill... from this lot? Oh Lordy, now I've heard it all. It will, to make it even more preposterous, be legally binding on future governments. Correct me if I’m wrong but I’m not sure how they can legally bind future governments to anything much; surely there must be the option to repeal this sort of thing.
Anyways he intends to show us how we can live in a “post crisis society”. So that’s good news. We’re in a post crisis society. Tell that to all the people who are still losing their jobs Gordon.
The Prime Minister remains upbeat through it all (although he does wander around telling everyone how many times Obama even looked at him in the last week). Last night apparently Brown ‘declared that he was "hungry and determined" ‘ according to Mr Barnes’ article. Er, would that not be hungry and demented?
Jim Murphy, the leader of the Opposition in Scotland, well de facto leader, has said that:
"Some people in the Labour Party – and I don't mean the Prime Minister – have got to stop feeling sorry for themselves. To be in government is an enormous privilege. The hardest day in government is still miles better than the best day in opposition” Yep, you bet it is. I mean there’s no government car and driver, and no ministerial salary in opposition Jimbo lad, is there?
And finally the Grey man who someone said was something to do with politics in Scotland is being denied a chance to speak on his own, because they wouldn't be able to trust the muppet not to put his great silly foot in his great silly mouth. So this year he is sharing the stage with none other than... Spud you like. Is this the first time the Scottish First Minister has been denied a speech of his own?
I really can’t wait for the party to begin.... There’s bound to be some quality blogging in this next week.
Saturday 26 September 2009
Particularly the thorny issue of how the SNP supposedly brought down the Callaghan Government and allowed Thatcher in and of course 18 years of Conservative rule. Never mind the fact that in all the elections since 1979 people must have voted for someone. Clearly the majority of Scots voted Labour, but how effective where Labour as an opposition from 1979-1990 and who threw away the 1992 General election? Also who stymied the 1978 devolution referendum with an unworkable 40% minimum? Who sat on the McCrone Report?
Gordon’s book reveals that in voting patterns for the period of 1977/78 the SNP voted with the Government 63.2% of the time. That is despite the fact that the Labour Government were busy shafting the Scots behind the SNP’s back, looking at frankly ridiculous ways of stealing Scotland's oil by continuing the diagonal SW-NE border through Berwick, thus putting a large proportion of the oil on the English side and by encouraging the Orkney and Shetland Isles to ceded from Scotland (and become English I suppose???) thus losing us a whole pile more oil. So thanks very much Jim Callaghan (not so Sunny Jim if you lived in Scotland clearly) and Harold Wilson.
If you want to read the book you can get it here:
The photograph shows from left to right: Ian MacCormick; George Reid; Gordon Wilson; Winnie Ewing; Donald Stewart; Hamish Watt and Douglas Henderson (and if you don't know who these people are well go look them up on Wikipedia).
Friday 25 September 2009
Over at the Telegraph, I read that there is to be a new book on the MPs’ expense scandal of this summer. It has been compiled by the Telegraph’s journalists with the help of someone they refer to as the “mole”. That’s not particularly surprising news I hear you say. The Telegraph is far to savvy an organisation to miss the opportunity of publishing a book on what was its biggest story of the year.
What is interesting is how it came by all the information. Well it goes like this.
When, after a mammoth struggle to avoid publication, the MPs were instructed to come clean, it was agreed that the papers published should be heavily “redacted” ... or censored to you and me. So of course, at our expense, a team of “redactors” was set up. Many of them were parliamentary staff seconded for the job. But, so secret was the information (unlike that information that the government keeps leaving on trains, in taxis or sending unencoded, by carrier) that they had to employ security guards to make sure that nothing was leaked.
Now here comes the interesting bit, you know, the bit where the MPs get bitten on their butts. UK soldiers, it seems, are so poorly equipped compared with other nations’ troops that they have to buy a lot of their own gear. At the same time the lower ranks are so badly paid that they can’t afford to buy it. So they are between a rock and a hard place. Being bright and inventive guys, some of them decided that, during their hard earned and very much deserved leave they would, instead of lying on a beach, or spending time with their partner, that they would go work as security people. It’s against the regulations, but when it’s a matter of life or death and the authorities are too hard up to provide you with the goods.... well, a guy’s gotta do what a guys gotta do.
Well, unfortunately for the MPs, some of these lads got jobs at the place where they parliamentary staff were “redacting” the expenses claims.
It doesn’t take a huge intellect to imagine what happened next. People working together become friends, people gossip to their mates. The soldiers got to know what was in the outrageous expense claims. It seems that the country could pay for moats being cleaned and imaginary shelves being put up, but the money ran out when they were being asked to pay for Kevlar ballistic vests, desert boots, gloves or sunglasses. All these things provided for foreign troops.
And so, in trying to keep their expenses secret the MPs inadvertently put them into the hands of people who had the best reason in the world to publicise them. No soldier was involved in the leak, I hasten to add. This was done, it seems, by civilians who had become so incensed by the comparison they were working with daily. The words “hoist” and “petard” spring to mind.
It's nothing to do with the wee ned in the picture (it was happening before his time), but I though people would like to see his wee face.
Thursday 24 September 2009
It had been hoped that an agreement on class sizes restricting them to 18 might have been rolled out across the country. But that of course would have required “agreement” not just from local authorities and schools but from parents. But that, of course, was not to be. It seems that some people are determined to get the most for their own no matter what the cost to everybody else. So some parents have managed to successfully challenge the agreement in court and so now even where 18 could have been a permissible number it is not to be (put up to it by the opposition?). Instead class sizes now are to be restricted by law to 25. Better at least than the 30 left us by Labour. At least it’s a real reduction and not one of 0% that we might expect from Labour.
This is dressed up by Labour and the Tories as making Fiona Hyslop’s position untenable. They are also lambasting the First Minister for supporting his colleague. More untenable than an Attorney General who flouts her own law with the tacit support of a Prime Minister? More untenable than a Tory MSP who seeing the bigger picture wants instead to be an MP in government and so gets himself selected as the Westminster candidate for his constituency, despite his leaders many and oft criticisms of the First Minister for having both these positions? And of course no slap down at all from his otherwise vocal leader.
Somebody wants to tell these people that they are not living in Disney Land and that people see straight through their crocodile tears and pie crust promises.
|One step behind|
The American President has found time to meet with the Russian and Chinese Presidents, not unreasonably as along with him they are the real powers of the world. He was also prepared to drop a level and hold talks with the new Prime Minister of Japan.
However, according to the Telegraph
“British officials made five attempts to secure official talks with the US President and even agreed to a policy change in an attempt to land a joint appearance between the two leaders said diplomatic sources.”
OK. Here’s a wee bit of advice Toom. It would take one hell of a lot more than a wee photie of you and the President together to make you popular. It’s a lost cause. Probably no one in the whole world likes you. Not the country, nor the members of your party. The only people who may have some sort of strange affection for you will be Mr Cameron, Mr Clegg and possibly Mr Salmond. By being as awful as you are, you make their lives just that wee bit easier.
Well, I’m sure that, for political reasons Mr Obama must show some dismay over Mr MacAskill’s decision. American law appears to prefer vengeance to compassion and it may be difficult for the average American to understand the Scottish decision. I doubt if Mr Obama, a compassionate man, really feels that, but Mr Obama is not just a compassionate man, he is also a lawyer and an extremely clever lawyer at that. I find it impossible to believe that he would be unable to understand that the decision was a Scottish one and nothing to do with the London Executive (given that crime and punishment is largely a matter that is devolved from Federal to State government in his own country).
“The special relationship is built on the fact that our President tells the Brits he wants something done, and they do it. In return they get to play at being semi important.”