I do not wish to be parochial or small-minded. But the world, at least my world, is behaving in a most peculiar manner. Take Brexit, or don’t take it, from my point of view, very large numbers of British people admitted that they might be worse off if there was a Brexit – but they voted Leave anyway. ‘What do people like us have to lose ‘ they said. Quite a lot actually: your job, higher shop prices, a collapse in annuity values and cancelling the annual holiday to the Costa Brava or some such place. Such warnings were greeted with a shrug. ‘So what’ and ‘they could hardly get worse’. Are you real don’t these things matter any more?
And take Corbyn – I wish you would -and the Labour leadership contest. Owen Smith has made himself as close to an identikit candidate as he could (excepting devising a way to stay in the EU and renewing Trident, that I admit from my point of view are extremely important). He is well educated, presentable. well-informed, has management experience and the confidence of the Parliamentary Party .Shouldn’t we Labourites give him a majority? The reply:’I agree he is very presentable and would make a good Prime Minister.but I intend to stay with Jeremy.’ Why doesn’t he agree with me?
Look at the Corbyn closely, listen to his speech, imagine him representing Britain at an international conference (no placards allowed) or mastering a complex document at No 10?You can imagine him doing these things??? Congratulations for it is quite an achievement.
‘Don’t worry. It will never happen.’ I hear you say. Are you really content with a Conservative Government as far as the eye can see. ‘What will be, will be.’ I hear you say.’I doubt if it will make much difference.’
Wake up, wake up, wake up!
Filed under Alistair Campbell, Boris Johnson, Commons, Europe, Guardian, House of Commons, Jeremy Corbyn, John Martin, Labour leadership, Labour List, Larisa Martin, Liberal Voice, Momentum, New Stateman, Politics, Referendum, Uncategorized, Unemployment
A Statement on Belief:
Some people believe that as an OLD ETONIAN I have a narrow concept of life and the everyday concerns of ordinary people. What nonsense. However I confess I do have a firm set of prejudices and I am happy to tell you something of them.
Empire, Monarchy and Neo-Colonialism
Charliechops has criticised me for a narrow nationalism. Let me be clear. I am proud to be an Englishman (or should I say Briton, however to my mind there is no difference). We Brits have colonised the world and brought our belief in parliamentary democracy, the rule rule of law, and a benificent British monarchy to vast numbers of ignorant people in other countries. I am proud of that. Today we have to be a little more careful but nevertheless we assert our right to depose rulers throughout the whole of Africa and the Middle East in the name of economic trade and investment. And why not? Better for us to get a share of unexploited wealth than the Chinese. Do you get my point? Get in first and give it a whirl.
I am against ‘Johnnie Foreigners’. If I had my way I would keep them all out. Well not quite all of them. There were some jolly nice foreigners at Eton from good families. Their Dads often had proper sorts of houses in the West End and invested in Britain. Good for them. No I mean the others living off Benefits in places like Southall, Leicester and Wolverhampton. We can do without them. On reflection not those who own restaurants snd convenience shops. Jolly useful those. I like a good currie. Oh, and I forgot, nuclear scientists, doctor and nurses. I’m in favour of those – so Vince Cable tells me.
Capitalist and Entrepreneurs
I like capitalists and entrepreneurs and make no secret of it. I want them to get very rich and to invest and create jobs in Britain. I know a lot about this. Many of my best friends are capitalists and I like to boast to them that in my government we shll reach unparalled heights of assistance. I want these people, some who I am proud to acknowlege as my very best friends, to get seriously rich. In this I speak for other members of my Government, in particular my close friend George Osborne who you may have heard of. Ring a bell?
Anyway I hope you get my drift. I am a man of many firm convictions and I intend to stick with them. I hope you do not mind if I remind you of them from time to time.
Filed under Alistair Campbell, BBC, Benefits, Cameron, Colonialism, Conservative Home, Egypt, Eton, George Osborne, Guardian, Labour Home, Labour Party, Liberal Voice, Libya, Public schools, Syria, Treasury, UKIP, Wlliam Hague
The rumour circulating the corridors of Westminster is that our George is to introduce a door tax in next weeks Budget. A door tax! I hear you exposulate.What the hell is that? Hold on. I’ll explain A great deal of thought has gone into this. I’ll elucidate.
It’s no good just increasing taxes on a few regulars. It is subject to diminishing returns (See ch.2, Bentham The Principles of Economics). We need something that is new, easily levied and fair to rich and poor alike. By door I mean door space – every room has to have one. I know you smart Alec’s will take a screwdriver and remove the doors but you can’t fill up the spaces and get in and out of the room. Caught you there. We don’t need to be precise. There would be a scale according to the number of romms. Lets take the usual sort of 3 bedroomed house. We would assume 8 door spaces, a two bedroomed property 5 spaces and so on. Now here’s the egalitarian bit. How many doors does a mansion have? Well a small one might have 15-20, a large one, well goodness knows. Let the devil take the hindpost. Get the idea. Let’s assume £10 permonth for a small property and £40 for a large one: that is the tax wil range between £60 a year and £500 a year with the rich paying more. Get it? The number of homes is some 35 million (Well you try to do better.) This we can say is an informed guess. The type of forecast you would expect from the Treasury -let alone the OBR, giggle, giggle. This revolutionary new tax would raise £1,800 million a year. Good bye crisis. Move to one side, David, I’m coming in. The Treasury watchwords under my guidance are create, invent and pioneer. We Osborne’s didn’t get where we did in life by the wailing and nashing of teeth. At least not our teeth!
Filed under BBC, Coalition Government, Conservative Home, Economics, George Osborne, Guardian, Labour Blogs, Lib Dem blogs, Liberal Voice, OBR, Treasury
The Met has pointed out that it had too few policemen to keep order on Saturday in London. Of course, we know there has been forced reductions in police numbers so we can be sympathetic. After the main demonstration ended there were only 4,500 policeman to deal with 500 violent demonstrators, a ratio of nine policemen to 500 thugs and hooligans; far too few to deal with them properly.
Was this a failure of the Big Society? In an earlier blog I pointed out that as the Big Society was to take over policing, so to speak a call should be made for volunteers. This call was handicapped, so to speak, by a national shortage shortage of police whistles. I was not heeded for there are still too few. The main demostration was self-policed by volunteers. All was quiet and peaceful. Did anyone think well there is an opportunity for us? Let us recruit them on our side. Where was the organiser of the Big Society? Nowhere to be seen. Where was the pre-thought? Did his staff set out to recruit enpough volunteers to help the police? I have pointed out in a blog that you cannot expect volunteers to confront thugs. However, a moments thought would establish how useful they could have been. The anarchists and thugs were well organised and effective. Their tactics were to make quick raids on the target shops, banks and offices before the police could get there. Their sphere of operation was narrow and confined to the heart of London. Supposing in each of these streets which were attacked volunteers had been placed with whistles and mobile phones. As these thugs approached, and before the thugs could do anything, they would blow their whistles in the good old way of yesteryear. The police would head for the affected streets with great speed on their bicycles and the thugs could be arrested before they could inflict any damage.
So what do we have here. It is a Big Society failure. No one in the office, no recruitment of volunteers, no Met. Plan to instruct volunteers on their duties, and above all – no whistles. I pointed out earlier that orders should be placed with British manufacturers for suitable supplies of police whistles. I suggested that they would be needed. They were needed on Saturday. Someone should take the rap for this. I know export orders for several dodgy states in the Middle East are remunerative for whistle manufacturers (and God only knows they are needed there) but they were needed in London on Saturday and so far as I can ascertain not a single whistle had been issued and noe were blown.
It is painful to witness mindless destruction. I am vehemently opposed to it. It is said by the Met that we should not be too critical. Criminal charges would be brought against these criminals and CTV cameras would be scoured for the identification of culprits. What a sham. Do they not know that the Coalition has forced local authorities to remove these cameras. An invasion of our liberties, they said. They will have to do better. Do they not know that for the lack of a whistle the battle could be lost lost, for the loss of the battle the Big Society lost, for the loss of the Big Society the governance of London would be decimated. Hold on was our Dave really working for the overthrow of Boris Johnson? Now it begins to make sense.
Filed under Anarchists, Assembly Elections, BBC, Big society, Boris Johnson, Cameron, Civil liberties, Coalition Government, Economics, Ed Milliband, Guardian, Labour Blogs, Lib Dems, London, Metropolital Police, Nick Clegg, Politics, Town centres
I have a complaint to make. Could not the media, and in particular the television news channels, raise its game in the reporting of the Libyan crisis? Can anyone explain for me the rationale behind an Anglo-French alliance pressing for war to aid the overthrow of the Libyan regime? Of course, I know the bit about the importance of supporting democracy throughout the Middle East and the horror of a government slaughtering its own people to maintain an authoritarian and unpleasant dictator and his family. Let me pin my colours to the mast. I am on the side of the rebellion. But is it not a fair question to ask for a reason for Britain and France to be the most bellicose Western powers and alone in pressing for armed intervention? Why is France so premature in recognising the rebel Council in Benghazi as the legitimate government of Libya? Is there anything in the history of Anglo-French relations with Libya that might help an analysis of the issue.
Look, I am hesitant in suggersting an over-riding issue. But what distinguises Britain and France from other members of the European Union? Hold your hats, please. They are major suppliers of arms to Libya and other African states. David Cameron has told a wondering British public that the principal objective of British foreign policy under the Coalition is now to be the promotion of trade. Is he not fresh back from visits to authoritarian Middle Eastern states accompanied by British arms dealers? Hasn’t he nailed his colours to the mast? Could it not be that he has his eyes on the opportunities that would be opened up for arms deals if the Gaddafi Libyan regime were to fall?
As for France, in 1967 the French government was quick to welcome the Gaddafi regime in and became a major arms supplier for his regime. But France was greedy and insisted on selling the sme equipment to Gaddafi’s African neighbours so nullifying any Libyan military advantage. Libya decided to buy its weapons elsewhere. Here is a new opportunity for France. Aid the rebels and rearm Libya.
And then there is the issue of oil. Could it be an interest of Britain and France to gain new oil concessions and protect existing contracts? That is a major issue in its own right. But you get my drift. And what unworthy thoughts they are. I’m suggesting that these two right wing governments are desperate to be on the side of new democratic countries which they imagine are evolving from the ruins and contradictions of the existing authoritarian regimes. I am suggesting more than this. In the world of real politik they are desperate to take any action, no matter how absurd and reckless, to place themselves in the vanguard of the revolution.
Let us suppose that they are wrong. Could it be that the regimes that emerge from the ruins of the old are very like the ones they supplanted and their national interests are unchanged? Could it be that our government in its desperate search for fools gold has got it wrong? Is it too wrong and misguided of me to point this out? Come on, BBC. Isn’t that your job? Never mind the pictures what are the issues?
Filed under Arms dealers, BBC, Cameron, Coalition Government, Defence Review, Egypt, Europe, France, Ghadaffi, Guardian, Labour Blogs, Labour Goverment, Liam Fox, Lib Dem blogs, Liberal Voice, Libya, NATO, Politics, Russia, Sarkozy, United Nations
There are many counties with deplorable records on civil rights and at least two are permanent members of the UN Security Council. In this Gaddafy and his wretched regime are not alone. All this talk by Caneron and Hague about not standing aside while innocent people are slaughtered and imprisoned rings bizarely in the real world. What is the difference between a gun and a black limousine picking up people from their beds and incarcerating them in an unknown prison without trial or the knowledge of their relatives. The reach of the internet is not infinite. We do not get many pictures of tyranny at work in Russia, China, Iran and Tibet. Is it to be supposed that we seek UN authority to intervene in these countries to put things rightthere in a rush of emotionalism and the desire for a get tough image?
It is no good attacking me for being soft on tyrants for I would get tough with them all. What sticks in the crawl is hypocrisy. Oh, come off it, I hear the retort, if we can do something to help why not? Why not indeed. I think the West has acted diplomatically to isolate Ghadaffi and put him in the international dock from whence, hopefully, there is no hiding place. What I am against is armed intervention to remove Ghadaffi and the pretence of a UN resolution to create a no fly zone. I do not like a situation where my government is all puff and no blow. I regard this as humilation for Britain and cheap populiarism. To this you might argue why bother to get hot under the collar if the policy is bound to be empty and unrealisable? In a way the answer is simple. I don’t wish to be led by a braggard fresh from assisting in the sale of arms to authoritarian Middle Eastern states. A bullet is a bullet but in this situation I prefer to know that it was not made in Birmingham.
Filed under Arms dealers, Army, BBC, Cameron, Coalition Government, Ghadaffi, Guardian, Labour Blogs, Libya, Middle East, Politics, Revolution, United Nations, Wlliam Hague
Thanks Charlie for dropping in. I’m glad of the opportunity to clear up some things about our diplomatic incident in Libya involving the SAS. Instinctively, as you know I am on the side of the rebels. Britain should stand up for democracy in the world and we wish to do all we can to help the rebels achieve it in Libya. But as for the stories that I am addicted to James Bond films on the mere evidence that I land a unwelcome helicopter in the territory of a soverign power without clearance or telling anyone with eight men dressed in black carrying guns together with a spy. Well I ask you Charlie. What a flimsy objection. It is true that I have an extensive library of James Bond films but I have not watched one in the last seven-ten days. So much for addiction.
Dave, I am surprised by this. If you want to make contact with rebel leaders, have you thought of telephoning them? I have Charlie, I have, but do they tell you what you wish to know? Perhaps Dave they tell you what they choose to tell you. Have you thought about that? I don’t understand you Charlie. I don’t think you have really studied James Bond films. What you need to do is to drop your agent in and he sorts it out for you, get’s into trouble on the way out and we rescue him. This time somewhere in the Mediteranean sea. Get it?
Dave, Dave, Dave, come on. This is the real world. Apart from diplomatic and humanitarian help best orgonised through the EU (sorry to use the term) and the United Nations, surely there is nothing we can or should do. To me it looks like a civil war to be fought out between two Lilliputian sets of soldiers. At the heart of this conflict there is nothing for us to do. We don’t want to behave like an Imperial Power, do we? Colonialism has come to an end, or didn’t you notice that? Charlie, sarcasm doesn’t suit you. Britain is an important Imperial power and I am proud of it. I suspect that you were taught in one of those miserable state schools with a twisted sense of British history. The evils of the British Empire and all that. Michael Gove is turning back this unpatriotic tide. Was the British Empire a good thing? I say, yes. And it was governed by Old Etonians to boot. And long may it continue.
Dave, if I publish this you will find that you have opened yourself up to derision. That would be a shame. Some people admire you for your energy and commitment but they are not going to vote for the return of the British Empire. Charlie how little do you know. Did you not observe that in Burnley more people voted for UKIP than for our Conservative candidate? What nonsense this is. Does UKIP stand up for British interests as well as we Tories? How many of them were educated at Eton? Well then, you get my point. And another thing you fail to notice, James Bond is much admired throughout the world. Why not the British Coalition Government, the Tory party and me?
Filed under Arms dealers, Army, Barnsley, BBC, Cabinet, Cameron, Coalition Government, Education, Eton, Europe, Ghadaffi, Guardian, Liberal Voice, Middle East, Politics, Public schools, SAS, UKIP
The Barnsley Parliamentary By Election humiliation for the Coalition parties does not come as a surprise. There is worse to come. A North-South divide with Labour dominating the vote in Scotland, Wales and Northern England and the Tories, and to a certain extent the Lib Dems, in the South, South East and South West of England has been evident for decades. New Labour and the growth of Lib Dem support in the South has muddied this picture but the rift remains.
Even if an optimistic view is taken on economic recovery, the scale of Government cuts in expenditure and a lowering of household disposable incomes for years ahead is bound to alienate whole communities across Britain but especially in Labour areas of the country. The Lib Dems, in particular, will pay a heavy electoral price: Council and Assembly votes in May are likely to result in the virtual elimination of the Lib Dems in working class communities in huge swathes of the country. Both Coalition parties are likely to huddle together in what until recently has been the Tory south. Paradoxically, the Lib Dem vote in Council By Elections in the South has held up and the party has gained some Tory seats. This is an historic pattern of Colaitions of the right and centre over more than 100 years of their temporary emergence and is likely to make more probable the eventual merger of them. While I do not wish to exagerate the similarities between the platforms of the Coalition partners, I do believe it to be true that there a few real differences between the radical economic liberals on right of the Lib Dems and the social liberals of the Tories: they are cut from the same cloth.
Absurd comparisons between the political and social revolutions underway in the Middle East and Africa and the future we face together in Britain are best avoided. However, there is a relevant question for we Britons. Are British people going to accept, will ordinary people up and down the country stomach, the destruction of the welfare state, a dramatic lowering of household disposable income and the loss of many jobs, Will the public go quietly when the NHS fails to hold on to many advances, in particular shorter waiting lists for hospital appointments, and the middle classes joining the dole queues? Of course, of course, I hear you mutter. There will always be a stolid majority for social pain – so long as it doesn’t affect us and others like us. But will this be true this time?
Well, the Coalition has been busy fixing the Constitutional rules so that it is more difficult to get rid of them. Five years of it and not a drop less has been their resolution. Political memories are short is their belief. But is there not a valid political question? What do people do when it becomes more difficult to throw out one Parliament and elect another. Do people up and down our orderly and responsible society take to the streets? If denied the one sure constitutional method will many people choose another? Surely not. But hold on. After all we have seen the television pictures of peoples demanding change. This is the tele/internet age. If it works for them why not us? Don’t shoot we’re British is our shout. Of course, our needs are obvious. Oblivion is what we need now, the bottle and the pills that is what happens in the TV soaps. Oh and throwing something as well. Come off it!
Filed under Barnsley, BBC, Coalition Government, Conservative Home, Ed Milliband, George Osborne, Guardian, House of Lords, Labour Blogs, Labour leadership, Lib Dem blogs, Local elections, Middle East, NHS, Nick Clegg, opinion polls, Politics, Take Back Parliament, Unemployment
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.
Filed under Alistair Campbell, BBC, Coalition Government, Ed Balls, Ed Milliband, Guardian, Labour Blogs, Labour leadership, Labour Party, Politics, Public Services
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.
Filed under BBC, Benefits, Big society, Cabinet, Cameron, Coalition Government, Conservative Home, Disabled, Eton, George Osborne, Guardian, Housing Benefit, Ian Duncan Smith, Labour Blogs, Lib Dem blogs, Liberal Voice, Nick Clegg, Politics, Poverty, Schools, Treasury, Universal benefits