Sunday 27 September 2009

A pity Brown is miserly only with the truth

Who said "I was brought up in a family where I was taught not to attack people personally. I think it is a mistake if politics degenerate in that way"? Clue: the same person who hired and rehired Damien McBride, and repeatedly refused to sack him (until he had no other choice).

Who said, again and again, "the choice is between Labour investment and Tory cuts", and decried David Cameron as "Mr 10%"? Clue: the same person whose own Treasury was secretly planning 10% cuts.

Who kept using the word "prudence" in every sentence in his budgets? Clue: the same person who has splurged billions of taxpayers' money on public sector pay increases, non-jobs and scandalously expensive PFI schemes.

Who now is - most ludicrously of all - suddenly proclaiming himself the friend of the "squeezed middle class"? Clue: he has spent 11 years squeezing the middle classes - especially "middle England", for whom he seems to have a visceral contempt.

What word can best describe such a person? Clue: four letters, beginning with "L".

Sunday 20 September 2009

Lady Scotland must resign

Was Lady Scotland's employment of her Tongan servant knowingly illegal? No, I am sure not. Should she resign? Yes.
Why should she resign? NOT because she inadvertently broke the letter of a law whilst acting reasonably and in good faith - but because she was a key player in this Government's deliberate imposition of (perhaps unreasonably) onerous requirements on ANYONE employing an immigrant. When this legislation was going through, small business representatives said that the strict requirements to check and copy all paperwork etc. were unnecessarily burdensome, and would be difficult for small businesses or individuals to comply with in practice. Lady Scotland's - the Government's - reply was clear: the onus was on the employer, they must comply and the mere burden of compliance was not an excuse. Ignorance of the detail of the law was not, of course, an excuse. Acting reasonably in good faith was not an excuse.
So the Government can take one of two honourable courses - (a) admit that such legislation imposed an unreasonable burden on individuals and small businesses, and amend it accordingly, OR (b) maintain their stance, and take the appropriate action against Lady Scotland, who must also, of course, resign.
What they cannot in honour do is maintain the strict rules for the rest of us with no excuses allowed, but excuse Lady Scotland. That is untenable. That is dishonest. That is wrong.

Monday 14 September 2009

Parliament is useless - and we all pay the price

It would be funny - if it wasn't so tragic, wasteful and stupid. The sight of Sir Roger Singleton, chairman of the ludicrous new "Independent Safeguarding Authority" (ISA), faced with the storm of protest about the ridiculous new "vetting and barring" of everyone having anything to do with kids, plaintively asking on Channel 4 news where the critics were when all this went through parliament three years ago.
Poor, naive Sir Roger! Did you really think that your ISA had been very carefully thought through by a wise, scrutinising Parliament, weighing carefully the pros and cons? And did you really think that you would have the full support of the man responsible in government?
I'm afraid that's Balls. Ed: he has - of course - dumped you like a hot brick now the reality of these proposals has become widely known. You are now - like David Kelly - "chaff", a fall guy. Mr Balls may have been all smiles last time you met - now you won't see him for back-pedalling.
The legislation - needless to say - was a half-baked proposal rammed through a supine Parliament by an incompetent Government. It is typical: intrusive, illiberal, expensive, bureaucratic - yet totally ineffective, passed only so the Government could be seen to be "doing something" after Soham.
The appalling crass idiocy of our Goverment, and the total uselessness of our Parliament, is almost unbelievable. I despair.

Wednesday 15 April 2009

Gordon Brown's "McPoison"

People calling Damian McBride "McPoison" and "McNasty"; complaints about his bullying, unpleasant and unacceptable smear tactics; colleagues calling for him to be sacked. No, not this week - back in October last, when cabinet colleagues called on Gordon Brown to finally sack his famously odious spin-doctor. Gordon Brown resisted - yet again - as he had resisted many such calls over the years after appointing and re-appointing McBride. Even after he was exposed smearing Ruth Kelly, Gordon Brown kept him on. Many predicted it would end in tears.

Now Gordon has reaped what he sowed. Those who live by poison will die by poison - even if it is very slowly. Of course Gordon Brown knew what McBride was like - he had been told many times. He kept him on because the poisonous threats were useful to No. 10. Even after hearing about the latest scandalous emails, Downing Street's first reaction was do downplay them as "juvenile". Still Gordon Brown did not sack McBride; he eventually resigned 24 hours later.

To add insult to injury, the Prime Minister issues letters of non-apology, and makes a great fuss of asking for the special advisors' code of conduct (flagrantly and unambiguously broken by McBride) to be "tightened" - a transparent and meaningless sleight of hand, typical of Mr Brown's 'smoke and mirrors' tactics. What a shamefull mess - with Mr Brown at its centre. The stench will take some time to clear away.

Sunday 5 April 2009

Taxpayers, rise up and revolt!

Today's Sunday Times "Appointments" section features 51 adverts. Of these, 26 (51%) are pure public sector, 11 (22%) are charity, third sector or non-profit organisations. A further 7 are ads for the Sunday Times itself or generic ads from recruitment consultancies - leaving 7 - that is 14% - of all the job ads being from commercial businesses.
Think about that - only one job in seven advertsised in the Sunday Times today - at considerable expense - is a "real" job - in the sense of one that will generate wealth and ultimately fund the public and voluntary sectors.
According to data from Nielsen Media Research, our Government's media spend rose by almost 20% in 2008 to £178.1m, putting the government within spitting distance of P&G, which narrowly retained the title of the UK's biggest advertiser despite cutting spend to £178.7m. In 2009, the Government may become the UK's biggest advertiser, as taxpayers pay to watch ever more ads telling them what to do and what not to do.
Are you seeing a pattern here? It gets worse. A Spectator columnist recently reported that “if [the Chancellor] were to raise VAT to 25 per cent, double corporation tax, close the Foreign Office, cancel all international aid, disband the Army and the police, release all prisoners, close every school and abolish unemployment benefit he would still be unable to close the gulf between what the Government spends and what it raises in taxes”.
Gordon Brown's £5 billion raid on our pensions was the least of it - the outrageous scandal of "PFI" schemes mortaging our children and grandchildren, the spraying of (our) pound notes at doctors and other public-sector workers, the creation of vast numbers of non-jobs in the public sector, the unsustainable gold-plating of public sector pensions, the waste of hundreds of billions on useless and sinister IT databases, the rise in public sector pay while the few jobs in the private sector that must pay for all this are seeing incomes fall - all these are part of the same sorry story: the Government has (I'm sorry but no politer phrase will do) pissed our money away against a wall for too long, and Britain is broke.

UPDATE, 20 Sept 09: Looking at the Sunday Times today, there is not much change; 84% of the job ads are for public sector, education or charity jobs, and only 16% (around 1 in 6) are for wealth-generating jobs.

Saturday 28 March 2009

Vive les Vignerons

"I would like people in Britain to realise what is at stake here" says Mr Tremoulet, whose family has been growing grapes in the Languedoc for generations, in a report by the BBC headlined "French Wine Withers on the Vine". He describes the situation for farmers as "catastrophic", as British drinkers turn away from French wines because of the strong Euro. The UK is the biggest importer of wine in the world and we are now, it seems, turning from Chablis to Chile, lured by supermarket "3 bottles for a tenner" offers. Here as in other areas, the old world is losing out to the new.
I'd like to reassure M. Tremoulet that I for one am doing my bit. A delicious crisp Alsace Riesling last night, a silky 2002 claret last weekend and my stocks of Duval-Leroy champagne are fast diminishing. No, I am not giving up French wine, credit crunch or no credit crunch. I remember "Johnny" Hugel, in the cellar in Riquewihr in which his family had produced wine from father to son since 1639, saying that if times were tough or you were feeling low, go to a good restaurant, order a lovely bottle of wine ("preferably one of mine"), and you would feel all the better afterwards. I'm not sure how economically sound his advice was, but I've followed it ever since and it works. M. Tremoulet, I'm doing my best!

Saturday 7 March 2009

Caught by the "Court of Public Opinion"

Did any politician ever give a bigger hostage to fortune than did Harriet Harman when she decried mere "courts of law" in favour of "the court of public opinion"?
No wonder no arrest was made when a fellow cabinet member was assaulted with green custard - why resort to the law courts when it is "public opinon" that counts? In the court of public opinion, it is so much easier to pronounce judgement and pass sentence, without having to weigh up tiresome and complex arguments or balance interests.
Forget being taken into custody pending trial - just chuck the custard! Harriet Harman says the rule of law need not restrain us when we feel strongly.
I predict much more custard, as Harriet's (anti-)Law finds favour with those frustrated by those pesky and restrictive Acts of Parliament.
And who is this supporter of summary justice? Oh yes, she is a QC, an MP, a past Legal Officer for the National Council for Civil Liberties, past Solicitor General, Leader of the House of Commons, and "Secretary of State for Equalities". Not Equalities under the Law, surely?

Wanted: Leila Deen, age 29

Why was Leila Deen not arrested and charged with assaulting a cabinet minister? It seems ridiculous that she could commit an illegal and violent act, for the cameras, then spend half an hour giving interviews to the media before going on her way.
Lord Mandelson's protection unit - and the Metropolitan Police - have a lot of questions to answer.
For the first time I remember, I agree with John Prescott!