Monthly Archives: February 2011

Cameron the Cowboy


Q. Dave, when you were a young lad were you a Cowboy or an Indian and why?  Answ. A Cowboy, of course. I believed that the Cowboy’s were the winners and the Indian’s the losers, and history proved me right, did it not? Q. Who were the moral winners? Answ. The Coyboys of course, the right is always morally superior. Why do you start with such a question? Q. For good reasons. You have recently approved an SAS and Royal Airforce mission into Libya in what appears to have been a storm in the desert, that is an intrusion into the airspace of another country, the use of ground troops and the involvement of Royal Air Force C130s without the approval of Parliament , NATO or the  the UN. Wasn’t that an incredibly dangerous thing to do? When President Carter tried it he made a terrible mistake and became the laughing stock of the world. Answ.  Oh come off it. we won didn’t we. The British public love the SAS and we pulled it off didn’t we? Q.  What I understand is that a plane was hit by small arms fire and wasn’t some attempt made to slash the tyres of one plane? What if the people firing had heavier calibre weapons, might that not have brought the plane down with the loss of 150 lives including foreign nationals. Answ. I never comment on operational details. Are you saying we should not have acted to save these men? Q. Yes, I am saying that? Answ. Well I think you will find that British people are on my side in this. Everyone loves a winner. Q. Another question Dave. Were these C130s given fighter aircraft cover and if not why not? Answ. Good question. Naturally, I took advice but every Captain must in the end trust his own judgement. I didn’t become Chief Cowboy, if you pardon the mixed expression, by accident. Q. Straight answer Dave, please , yes or no? Answ. Look, you know me well. I’m a politician I can’t give you such an answer. Q. Were the Chiefs of Staff consulted? Answ. Ditto. Look I’m getting rather cross about this. Chief Cowboys are not asked these kinds of question. Q. OK. Let’s vary it a little. Have you had any military resignations over this and are there any in the offing? Answ. Well I can answer that one. No. And I don’t expect any. Q. Last questions Dave. Isn’t this a prime example of the strategic advantage of aircrat carriers. Not in the misty ages to come BUT now? Wouldn’t the Ark Royal and a few Harriers have provided the air cover that a mission like this needed?  And secondly, did you consult the Americans? Answ. Look you liver-lilied journalist (a joke, let’s see you smile). A Leader must lead and journalist must follow. Isn’t that the right order of things, the Scheme of things? As for the American’s, all you journalists go on about the inability of Britain to act independently but when I do it you are the first to criticise. And thank you for the session , very invigorating it was too. Now back to the war games. Tally oh, chin chin, and all that. All I need now is a twiddly moustache. Can’t afford the wax in this age of austerity. All the responsibility of the previous Labour administration as I have said before.

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Filed under Army, BBC, Cabinet, Cameron, Coalition Government, Defence Review, Economics, Labour Goverment, Liam Fox, Middle East, Obama, Parliament, RAF, SAS, Tony Blair

Cameron: Let me tell you about Britain


David Cameron is touring the Middle East not as you might think to promote trade but to hold up Britain to the world – to speak up for us politically. In case you missed reports I can tell you something of what he has beem saying. We are called Great Britain and Northern Ireland and we are great as the name implies. We have always been great. Once when 2/3 of the world’s  surface owed alleigance to the British Crown. we were very, very great. We are somewhat smaller now but not very small and not insignificant. We have a part to play in Europe (alas)  and in the Coomonwealth (you may not have heard of that) and we often talk to the USA. It is a mistake to assume that we always do what the USA wishes us to do. Oh no, we often differ. Indeed we have differed from them once in the last three months to the best of your memory. (Here he takes his coat off. Some  in the audience think this to be rude). Britain  has been rsponsible for some of the world’s greatest discoveries: penicillin, the jet engine, electric light bulbs, plastic coat hangers and left handed screw drivers, to name but a few. There will be more like this in the future. But he was there not to talk about screwdrivers but about democracy. Britain, and we know it to be true, is the world’s oldest parliamentary democracy with universal rights to be fairly represented, equality before the law and rights of assembly. It would be best if other countries followed our example. Some have said that our Government if not fairly elected and our politicians are corrupt. This is not fair. It is true that his party  won only 30 percent of the votes of the whole electorate but that was not his fault. He had explained Conservative policies fairly and honestly and the Tory tribe in Southern England had supported his party. Was that not good enough.?He thought so and infinitely better than a dictator with 99 percent. In a democracy no party or individual can get 99 percent. Although come to think of it that might  have to be arranged. The important point he  had to bring to their minds is that Britain was their  friend and on the side of popular demands for democracy and fair play. British people have always supported fair play and sometimes have insisted upon it.  Of course we have for many years been committed supporters of the dictators that have ruled you and your neighbours. I confess to you that these imperial policies may have been mistaken. It is big of me, you are quite right,  but I wasn’t on the scene at the time.

I hope you feel that as a young and thrusting white and rather posh Englishman I am on your side. If not I have wasted my trip. Please do not let me down. God save our Queen. Thank you.

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Filed under BBC, Cameron, Egypt, Libya, Middle East, Parliament, Politics

Labour Thoughts from the Benches


It is nearly a year since I got this job. If I had known then what I know now I would never have sought election to this position.; being Leader of the Opposition is hardly a job worth taking. I would like to be decisive (and I know I am often often criticised for waffle) but until the winning post is in sight I realise I shouldn’t be. Say something really prescient and compelling and Dave would pick it up and run with it. Basicly I have to let this lot get on with the job of governing the country and hope they shoot themselves in the foot. I realise this is not a glorious policy but unfortunately it is the best. It has always worked out best for me in the end – or to be precise in the beginning as well.

Let me give you a flavour of the letters I receive. I have invented names and descriptions to respect the confidentiality of the writers. First Jimmy, who is in the media (or meeja as the BBC pronounce it. He writes: ‘Basically Eddie boy you are too boring and mechanistic in your delivery. You speak in sub-text and emphasise in the minor key; your movements are like a ventriloquist’s dummy and jerky with it. Take tuition in how to deliver a speech and try to say something people will remember’ . Hard words Jimmie. I shall think about it. Gloria from Wolverhampton said. ‘Ed, I’m on your side. But can I make a suggestion (Of course, you can Gloria). Tell more human stories of distress and difficulty. Make us cry and give money to a noble cause. There a lot of these stories around especially in places like Wolverhampton. Well done Gloria, you are right AND I must make an effort to visit Wolverhampton. Is there a train service? I expect there is. Garry is a trade unionist. He said, ‘Harness the power of the trade union movement Ed and get yourself at the head of the mass movemnt and give leadership to our efforts to oppose the cuts.’  The difficulty about that Garry is that I don’t oppose them all. We have to be responsible and weed out the one’s we all really object too. I don’t wish to alienate the middle classes. And then there is Lucy who reads women’s magazines. Lucy dear, it is sweet of you, but I do not intend to marry anyone on demand especially if they write to me from Brighton. Lastly, but not least, from Alistair. I agree Alistair, it is good to speak to one’s colleagues and agree the main lines of Opposition. Of all people Alistair you know the difficulty of achieving harmony. But half of those buggers don’t want me as leader and most of the remainder are considering things, turning it over in their own minds. I shall do my best. I have always done my best. But being lovable and collegiate is a difficult task in the Labour Party.

I have decided to give it eighteen months. I’m not afraid of the future whatever it holds. If it is best for Labour that I step down and enough people continue to shout at me, I shall do just that.

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Filed under Alistair Campbell, BBC, Coalition Government, Ed Balls, Ed Milliband, Guardian, Labour Blogs, Labour leadership, Labour Party, Politics, Public Services

Cameron: Angel of Hope


David Cameron is in Cairo to instruct the Egyptians in democracy. As an impulsive gesture, his visit  comes as a surprise. There was hardly time to brief him. William Hague was in Europe carefully coordinating policy with our European allies; President Obama was keeping his head down#; but our Dave was winging his way into the maelstrom. It reminds me of Rudolf Hess, Deputy to Adolf Hitler, who confronted with the German invasion of the Soviet Union flew to Scotland to negotiate peace with Britain. He was promptly put in prison. I have often wondered what Hitler said about it when he first knew.

I have news for the readers of this post. He was briefed before leaving. In the true meaning of the word it did not take long to read the notes. Hague wrote: ‘Don’t do it.’  The Permanent Secretary at the Foreign Office expressed himself as forceably. ‘Remember, he said, the long and troubled colonial background to our relationship with Egypt and our traditional support of Egyptian dictators. Don’t go on about teaching them democracy, they won’t appreciate it. In particular don’t mention the Suez Canal and the unreliability of army generals. George Osborne, as befits a friend in the modern era,  tweeted him. ‘Dave, please, please don’t go on about the need for austerity, wage restraint and the imperative need to cut the deficit. Wrong time, wrong place’ . Several Cabinet members, in hope of promotion, urged him to introduce the idea of the Big Society to the Army Council and the attractions of small government. With patience and skill, he would be able to show them that it was a time to look away from the benificence of the state and the advantages of encouraging voluntary action. After all that is what these common Egyptian Jonnies  have been practicing in the streets.

It has been rumoured, although I doubt the veracity of the reports, that a Labour Party faction in touch with Egyptian trade unions has urged them to practice a citizens arrest. They might consider that Dave would be a lasting asset to them. Someone with his historical knowledge and awareness of the difficulties of the man in the street would be invaluable on a lasting basis. Of course it would be a loss to British public life to lose our Dave for a prolonged period of time; but we are all social democrats now and we could make do without him.

What we don’t want is national embarassment. Perhaps when he gets there no one will want to meet him. After all not many Egyptian soldiers know anything about the Big Society. Come to think of it not many Britons know much either. If these Generals know anything about Coalition cuts to our armed forces they might exercise caution. Of course there is no harm in a furtive photograph or two. Back in Britain there would be national support for a Unison strike at our airports to keep out Dave. Not for ever of course but for a month or two. I’m sure a whip round to cover lost wages would attract widespread support.

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Filed under Army, BBC, Big society, Cameron, Coalition Government, Economics, Egypt, George Osborne, Ghadaffi, Labour leadership, Labour Party, Libya, Politics, Public Services, Treasury, Voting reform, Wlliam Hague

Lenin, Elephants and the Big Society


Goodness. have you noticed, we have an elephant in our front room. Don’t panic. The important thing now is not to get excited. If you agitate the elephant it can do real damage. Let us think before we act. To hell with that ring 999 and get the emergency services. Hold on, that’s just what he wants. Elephants are attention seekers. If we know how he got in we can work out how to get rid of him. Agreed? Good. We didn’t put him there,  did we ? Of course, we must have been careless it must have taken quite an effort to put him there and a good deal of noise – and we didn’t notice. Be a little careless and you wake up one morning to find him there. Agreed? Fine. Let’s look at the ideology of this. Who would think it a good idea to give us an elephant?  I don’t know. Well I looked it up on Google. Did you know that there is a Society for the Domestication of Elephants? It is based in East Grinstead and a Mrs Fortescue Smythe is the Secretary. Quite voluntary of course, but you can make a contribution. But to counter this sort of propoganda you must take account of the ideology of it. I detect the hands of Veblen and Lenin. Yes, don’t laugh. Veblen wrote a book called The Theory of the Leisure Class. His point was once a society had met all the primary needs of its citizens what was left was a great deal of time on your hands. In East Grinstead you retire at 50 with a fat pension, daddy leaves you a lot of money, and you have a great deal of time on your hands. At first you go on holiday (not much chance of a trip down the Nile and a visit to the pyramids these days, joke joke!) How many weeks to tidy up the loft and clear out the garage, Six weeks at tops?. What do you do then? You volunteer, of course and do good deeds. Now doing good to others is not easy. You find that people with professional qualifications are ahead of you and local government thinks you unsuitable. Damn cheek. Now along comes David Cameron and he agrees with you. You don’t need to know anything at all really. Start  a voluntary organisation of your own and get going. And how does Lenin get into the act. Easy peasy. He read Veblen and it seemed to him that what would happen in a society  when basic human needs were met is that people had time on their hands. So he organised them to do voluntary work. After a while people got bored. There were better things to do than to sweep up, metaphorically speaking , for nothing. No one paid you and physical labour was not everyone’s cup of tea. Arthritus, overweight, you know the kind of thing. The coaches taking people to the fields and to council estates were not alway filled. People took long lunch times and drank too much. There were problems of arthritus and fat bellies In the end they had to be forced to do these things. Not many people liked this. And the rest as they say is history. Hence the elephants. What local authorities are involved in the domestication of elephants/ None. No competition there. Still not every household is taken on the idea of keeping an elephant.. They have to be encouraged. Hence our elephant. Our society is a Big Society. You don’t get much bigger than a white elephant. What  shall we do then. Well if the Libyans can get rid of Ghadaffi can’t we get rid of our Dave and his white elephants?

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Filed under BBC, Big society, Cameron, Coalition Government, George Osborne, Ghadaffi, Libya, Politics, Public Services, Revolution, Volunteers

The Universal Benefits Sham


Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for coming today in such vast numbers. This is a big stadium but not big enough to accommodate the numbers clambering to come in. I want everyone to come in, to join in a scheme to get people into the world of work. To get you into work, no less. Some will say slaving away in a soul-destroying  job for a miserable wage is no way to live a life. I profoundly disagree. I am not the first person to say this: but never mind the slavery of it,  work will save you and advance the best and true interests of you and your family.

Some will say, ‘I should talk. Born with a silver spoon and a comfortable home life.’ I have to tell you that my life has not been a bowl of cherries. Far from it. My parents insisted I do my homework every night before the computer games. There was voluntary work in the Army Cadet Force and the Boy Scouts and an anxious period of seven days before uncle Jack gave me my first job.

Here I am going to say something difficult for you all. There is not enough money to go round. People like me are tired of having to support you all through the payment of high  taxes, You must do more to help yourselves. The way to do this is to get a job. Vast numbers of you have given up on work. Pull yourself together. There are jobs out there  waiting for you. You may not wish to do them BUT you must. There is no more money to keep you in fags and beer.

Now I am here to help. Before I came into this stadium I persuaded some corporate friends of mine to create some jobs. There are 167 of these jobs. As you came into the stadium you received a numbered ticket. These tickets are to be chosen at random and 167 of you will be offered a job. I cannot say where or what these jobs are. You may have to move home, retrain, go back to school to take advantage of them BUT they are jobs. No don’t thank me. It’s the least I can do.

I know some of you, despite government payouts, are hungry. Don’t despair. There are 21 exits to this stadium. At each of these will be an official with a basket containing loaves, fish and chocolate, They will give you something as you go out. It may seem to you that this is not much given your circumstances. But is not a portion of bread, a small fish and a tomato better than nothing at all? I believe in miracles. I think you will find that the food is enough for you all. And good luck with the job lottery. You deserve a little luck. Go quietly now and in an orderly manner. Britain is not North Africa and will never be so while  I am at the helm of the ship of state. (Cheers and some boos. It starts to rain.) Well that turned out well.

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Big Society: Slash, Burn and Replace


I am rather excited. I have gained an exclusive interview (imagined) with our Dave and he has kindly offered to answer  my questions, no matter how critical, about the Big Society. There speaks the bravery of  a man with the courage of his own (almost exclusively his own) opinions.

 Prime Minister, can I call you Dave, good. Would it be true that the present economic circumstamces when public expenditure cuts are limiting the size of the public sector, is a prime opportunity for you. If I understand it you wish to replace the provision of public services with the unpaid efforts of voluntary organisations and their members and supporters. Is this true? Charlie, there is a need in Britain to fix the broken society. There are unsolved social problems that are best met by the private sector, by individuals who really care. But Dave that isn’t true. Over the past fifteen years there has been a vast expansion of charitable and voluntary services. The activities of government in meeting social needs has created new opportunities for voluntary services to fill in the gaps and to supplement the efforts of government. And it follows that to cut one is to cut the other.

Well Charlie,  there is something in what you say, but all this activity has not solved the problems of a broken society. There, Dave, your analysis is sadly lacking. If you are talking about crime, and despite all your efforts to inflate the figures, there is universal acceptance that crime has fallen some 40 percent over the last ten years. And by any reasonable set of criteria there is more caring and volunteering in our society than at any time in our history.

Well don’t you think Charlie that encouraging citizens to voluntarily provide their services is a good thing in itself. No Dave, I don’t. It may be  and on the other hand it may not. A great deal depends on the professionalism of those individuals volunteering to replace professional trained staff. What ordinary citizens should do is to get on with their lives, look after their families and pay their taxes. Caring and participating should, in the main,  be the task of paid professionals who know what they are doing, not volunteers with more enthusiasm than skill. This is not how I was brought up Charlie. We were taught to care for our fellow citizens, to contribute to charitable endeavours, to join the scouts and the women’s institutes. And a jolly good thing it was too. More of that and the world would be a good and better place. For you Dave, it has always been a good place. Other people, other lives, other needs. Grow up Dave, you’re a big boy now.

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The Safety of the Public (Let’s live dangerously) Bill


I am here, as I promised,  to tell you of the main features of our bill to make Britain a more liberal society. This issue of liberty has always been the driving force of the Lib Dem party. In a way it is our raison d’etre. Let us take the troublesome issue of the sexual abuse of young children by those who take every opportunity to be near them for their evil purposes. Do we really need 9 million people on a register with hundreds of others involved in processing data to achieve a reasonable level of vigilance? Of course not. Under our proposals there would be only 4.5 million on the register and thus millions of people who are in touch with children on a day to day basis will be excluded and we can all breath more easily. It is the responsibility of parents and teachers to be vigilant. The State should not seek to be an ever present guardian of behaviour. Similarly with our DNA database. It is wrong, as a matter of principle, that peope never found guilty of serious crime should have their genetic information on a large and ever growing database. Here the obsession  of our predecessors in seeking to extend, hold and grow a centralised database is unnecessary, and damaging to the peace of mind of millions of citizens. We are going to bring this practice to an end in line with the conduct of liberal societies throughout Europe and the free world.   

I am going to answer questions. You sir, with the red tie at the back. You say what price should be paid for the abuse of a child. I don’t understand. I assume you are suggesting that if 4 million people in regular contact with children were excluded from the sexual offences register, more children would  be abused? I know of no evidence to suggest that this would be the case. My own opinion? Not more than 100 children. But, sir, it is not the way to look at it. You are suggesting that I am willing to accept that the price of a saving  public expenditure of several million is the  abuse of more than 100 children a year. Well sir, I suggest that this issue of protection is best left to the governance of parents and teachers. You are wrong to look at it this way.

Another gentleman with a red tie to the left. Your question, sir, is how many previously unsolved serious crimes have been solved by the DNA evidence now available to the police over the last 12 months?  An interesting question without a precise answer. sir. The short answer is I do not know. My guess? Well I flatter myself that I am an evidence based politician. If you push me on the issue I would say not more than 30-40. A price worth paying for justice? Look I understamd your point of view but it is not my own. I do not believe in an intrusive nanny  State. Full stop. We should be grown up about this. In my opinion we should all be prepared to live dangerously. After all I joined in a Coalition with the Tories. Ha, hah!

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Filed under BBC, Cabinet, Cameron, Child abuse, Coalition Government, Conservative Home, DNA database, Economics, Education, George Osborne, Guardian, Labour Blogs, Lib Dem blogs, Lib Dems, Liberal Voice, New Stateman, Nick Clegg, Police, Politics, Schools

Playing the Immigration Card


Today David Cameron will play the immigration card. He will tell a distinguised European audience that multi culturalism in Britain has failed and that Britain must advance a stronger sense of national identity. A literate national audience will reach for references to the most famous poem ever written on the subject: Daniel Foe’s scathing poem The True Born Englishman, published in 1701,  that halted the notion that there was someone who be called a True Born Englishman and that we were all, if you dug deep enough, foreigners. He wrote: ‘From this Amphibious Ill-born Mob began, That Vain ill-natur’d thing, an Englishman. The Customs, Sirnames, Languages and Manners, Of all these Nations are their own Explainers. Whose Relicks are so lasting and so strong. That ha’lefta Shiboleth upon our tongue, By which with easy search you may distinguish Your Roman-Saxon-Danish- Norman English. Or more briefly as I would write, ‘Scratch an Englishman and you will find a foreigner’. ‘I am one and so are you, your neighbour is a little dark, his children of a lighter hue, And in the market place you hear the laughter of a thousand tongues, Of me, and them and you.’ If multiculturism in Britain has failed it has taken two thousand years to do so.

I find David Cameron beguiling. Whatever Nick Clegg might think or say he is in union with A True Born Tory. What do you get if you scratch a True Born Tory? You get a person absolutely convinced of certain social and political values which he regards as inalienable and true. It is a narrow vision of the world. Being an intelligent sort of chap Our Dave  develops evidence to support theses values and naturally he can gather it in. He has certain powers to communicate these values to us. He does so with clarity, energy and certitude. He is heading for the rocks and his crew will watch and cheer as he heads there. They know too that they stand for something vital to our national well-being and survival. They are willing, and even enthusiastic to accompany him.

The truth is that David Cameron is playing the national identity card. Eventually all Tory leaders do this in one form or another. I remember sitting next to Enoch Powell on a plane to Belfast. I studied him carefully and even dared to speak to him. This is a man who advanced the notion that the streets of some of our cities would soon be awash with blood (metaphorically speaking of course). Where is this blood now other than in David Cameron’s imagination. Relationships between people of differet ethnicity have, in my humble opinion, never been better. I like my neighbours I enjoy a rich selection of foods and recipes, I enjoy playing cricket with people from Barbados, and how about a curry this evening.

I have always believed this sort of creature, A True Born Tory,  to be dangerous. David Cameron has embarked on a difficult and potentially disastrous path. Of course he will sound reasonable. Ideas will be advanced which 30 percent of the population readily agree with. Recruitment to the English Defence League and the BNP will rise. The Tory vote will strenghten in the Tory shires. However, someone should tell our Dave that speaking your own mind is a dangerous activity.

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Words, Words and the Economy


Nick Clegg has emerged as the Coalition champion of the economy since Vince Cable’s well- publicised setbacks. Nick uses a great many words all spoken at a great rate of knots with an intonation that defies interruption. To be fair to him, I understand from my children that this is the way children speak in the playing fields these days. The words he uses are very fine and well-meaning and will convince some people – but not me – that he and his Tory colleagues have fine plans for the future of the British economy. It seems churlish of me to express the opinion that his words are either misleading or disingenuous. My main objection to them is that they do not rest on any firm and defensible theory of what works and doesn’t work in the British economy. Take the jargon on re-balancing the British economy. You know the sort of thing:  shift the British economy away from services, in particular financial services, to manufacturing, and shift economic activity away from London and the South East with a resulting shift in population and jobs. This is pie in the sky.  It is not a new narrative for it has been a constant theme of the last fifty years. I have no no wish to be boring but to be prief capitalism does not work like this in a capitalist economy.  Industry location, population and investment follows the laws of comparative costs. It will be located in London and the South East so long as these comparisons favour these locations. There are advantages in mass. London has become the leading financial services centre in Europe accounting fot 9 percent of British GDP compared with 12 percent for manufacturing. Why is it so obvious that you should constrain financial services growth in London when it is a world leader?  

Successive Governments have recognised the problems of the North by shifting public services to  there with incentives for industry to follow. Their pump priming has been partially successful Now the Coalition is busy destroying these jobs. No wonder they need to mollify electors with meaningless promises of other jobs being created.

It used to be the case that these arguments were encapsulated in the simple division betwees monetarists and advocates of supply side reforms and Keynesians with their concentration on the demand side of the debate. At present those on the supply side of the argument are having a hard time of it. Money aggregates are weak with all that flows from it. The demand side is precarious and faltering. Those of us who observe these matters from the sidelines might well despair. It is a long way to Rotherham from Central London, Cleggie boy. Is your journey strictly necessary for a display of groping in the dark?

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