If an average person goes over their overdraft limit, or credit card limit etc to such an extent that the bank aren't willing to extend 'standard' borrowing to you, you're sort of 'in the shit'. That's when the bank manager comes along and says, "there is another option, you could enter into a Voluntary Arrangement where we'll help you out with funds but keep a hand on how much you can have at a time, to make sure you're not spending outside your means or being reackless, but most of all, to stop you getting into trouble again in the future".
I say, the Government, which has got itself into a financial pickle/stupour recently, should eneter into such an agreement, where they have to ask permission before they do anything with a significant amount of money. Make Vince Cable the bank manager who calls the shots. If you want, Deal Or No Deal style, all the cabinet can open their red boxes and Vince can phone down and give them an offer of funds for their department's plans. They don't even have to see him face to face.
I just like the idea of Noel Edmonds saying "so, Gordon, you've got an offer of full funding for school-building projects and all NHS funding you ask for, Deal or No Deal"
Well Noel, I came here with a target in mind, and that target is more debt
(Banker is heard laughing down the phone. Gordon realises his greed, his pride, his desperation has played straight into the banker's hands.)
This morning, on the Andrew Marr show, Alastair Campbell, a man I have enormous time and respect for, signalled that state funding for political parties is the direction that political parties want to go.
In a discussion on "we have to sort out parties' funding", Marr and Campbell repeatedly used the phrase 'a new way of funding', without going into graphic detail. It was only at the very end of this part of the interview, that Campbell dropped in the line "It's going to be very difficult to convince the public, especially in these economic times, that their money, might have to go towards political parties".
Most bloggers out there are card-carrying members, or openly suportive of a political party. I am not, so maybe there's something I'm missing, but I don't see why we should fund political parties. If we do, should we then offer funding to the 1922 Committee? How far does it go?
Campbell also spoke about, 'people don't realise how difficult it is to run a political party' and how expensive it is. Just because it's difficult, just because it's expensive, just because it's corrupt, doesn't mean we should 'call it in' to be a state matter. If there is something dodgy going on, then we should be finding a way to stop it being dodgy, stamping out the corruption and making it clean. If parties go bust or have to scale back considerably, then fine. Political parties are not banks. They do not offer the public an essential or even crucial service (like healthcare or mortgages) and therefore must not be considered state funding suitable.
The British people are being mugged, live on television, at Millbank, Downing Street and in the Houses of Parliament and fuck all will be done about it. I know very few bloggers read my blog, so I can't expect a flurry of suggestions, but if you have any reasons why we should go down the road of state funding, where it's for the good of the people, then please let me know, as I am convinced there is no such valid proposition.
In the same way that muggings and other violent crimes are not properly reported, this mugging of the British taxpayer is passing us by unnoticed.
Or, in more recent times, the question will be, where do political parties get the money to pay off their debts?
Well, it comes as no surprise to any of us, that party political fundraising is about as clean and honest as a lying poo. We know that parties receive 'foreign donations' through British companies. That loophole was deliberately left in by the parties when they created the guidelines. Is it right? No. Do we care? Unless the circumstances are properly dodgy, then not really. We know it goes on, we turn a blind eye to it.
But now, due to more media coverage of 'the murky world of political fundraising', we can look forward to yet another debate about STATE FUNDING FOR POLITICAL PARTIES.
Er, what? I don't fucking think so! Do I look like a Russian billionaire that wants to give money to organisations that, on their own, benefit me not a jot? No thank you.
State funding for political parties is the most ridiculous, yet probable solution to these problems. Society needs Government, not politics. We pay for the services of our country, from nurses and firefighters, to Ministers and MPs. These things are what we pay for, these are the things that make our country work. Our Government is not dependant on political parties, it is dependant on MPs/ministers/Prime Ministers working together to run our country. Political parties are not our responsibility.
The three main parties are in a heep of debt - would the state fund their 'bail-out' in the same way they did the banks? Would our money be going towards paying off Gordon Brown's desperate PR campaign recently and the thousands of pounds spent preparing for a General Election that never even happened? No fucking doubt about it if STATE FUNDING OF POLITICAL PARTIES takes hold.
I cannot see any justification, any benefit, any one good point that I would agree with in favour of state funding for them. If you have any, please let me know.
I have always viewed political parties as working (not deliberately) to the detriment of the country, where petty squabbles take precedence over national benefit...and if state funding for them comes in, then we are subsidising a tool that offers little benefit to us.
If the BNP gained a seat in the House of Commons, would everyone's taxes, in part, go towards funding the BNP? How would foreign nationals living here feel about our country then?
Political parties play no necessary part in running this country, they are an added activity that the MP chooses to take on, but being a member of Labour, Tory, or an independent makes no difference to his statutory role as a Member of Parliament. Much like if David Davis, a Tory MP, plays squash during his lunch break. Should we subsidise that? Of course we shouldn't and it's a childish point, but to me, it would be like funding something as irrelevant.
An MP doesn't HAVE TO be a member of a party. A Minister doesn't HAVE TO be a member of a party. Christ, even a Prime Minister doesn't necessarily have to be a member of a political party.
And the Civil Servants do the rest.
So the day we introduce state funding for them is the day when we consign ourselves, forever more, to this style of detrimental governance.
Harriet Harman today, filling in for "superman" Gordon Brown at PMQs, said that national debt stood at 37% of GDP. As someone who is always keen to criticise this waste of a politician...
WRONG. LIES. INCORRECT. MISLEADING.
Harriet should know, especially with '(the man formerly known as the Iron Chancellor) Gordon's Big Book' in front of her the whole time, that national debt currently stands at 43% of GDP, the same percentage that it stood at in 1997!
And the really worrying part? This doesn't include Northern Rock or the latest BanksBailout package, a whack of billions more debt which will take it up to roughly 46/47%.
I'm not going to make the whole 'boom and bust' comment that is the easy attack on Labour right now, rubbing all of GB's comments in his and his party's faces, instead I'm just going to expect Harriet to apologise and for Labour to admit that their Government (much like their party) is starting to owe more than can be reasonably maintained.
So well done Harriet, your lies were the only highlight in a dull PMQs. I owe you a debt of gratitude.
It is this type of 'conversation' that started me blogging and by creating this platform, Doctorvee is opening up the blogosphere to a real airing of views on the matter.
How I view the constitutional future of an 'independent' Scotland...hmmmm...
I am still neither for nor against an independent Scotland, haven't yet made up my mind or been persuaded, though I have always tended towards the pro-independence side of the argument and am confident that within the next 10-15 years, Scotland will have voted YES to independence.
It's a good point that due to the EU/NATO/EC/Euro etc, we would not in fact be fully independent and I'm pretty sure that most people would agree that we'd be keen to be a member of at least one of the internationals organisations out there.
But of the question of UK based independence? Doctorvee suggests some powers may not be removed from the authority of Westminster on the basis of practicality. I (kind of) agree. On defence and the military, I would be keen to keep the current set up, with it all being controlled as one unit. I don't want a separate Scottish Army and a separate Former United Kingdom's Welsh-Anglo Reservists (FUKWAR?), I want the British Army/UK Army/Isles Army, whatever you want to call it. Essentially, Scottish independence with an Entente Cordial (*more on this later) with the rest of the Former UK (FUKs?) on defence.
This would then lead to questions of "who calls the shots when crunch time comes". Whether that's Westminster, or an inter-governmental committee that was set up who we give control to, I still believe we would all be in a better position with this kind of set up (I could go into specifics, but it'd be pointless - you get the principle).
I also believe, as I'm sure many will agree, that after gaining independence, we would be keeping the sterling pound (£) for the foreseeable future, and again, I would recommend that we keep the current Bank of England set up (with at least one of the board of governors being selected by the Scottish Parliament). Then, if we chose to take on the Euro, keep the sterling pound or even a new currency 'the Jock' (pennies could be 'jockles?), we could do so when we wished, but the stabiliy this would offer in the early years, I think, would be a reasonable way to progress.
Then there is the issue of what we currently call a 'national emergency' - the attempted bombings in London and Glasgow airport and foot-and-mouth for example.
As I detailed before(*), we would have some sort of agreement - an entente cordial, a council of ministers, some sort of mechanism - where when it was necessary, the two Governments would have an agreed council/team made up of the relevant minsters, advisers etc who would, as part of their jobs, take charge of such matters, making decisions as a whole. These would be agreed withint strict, set parameters which would (hopefully) avoid any political posturing or manoeuvers in order to deal with the serious issues. Again, this is where working with (not necessarily as a part of) Westminster would be, in my view, a sensible course of action.
So to answer Doctorvee's questions...
"I am going to ask if everyone believes that different powers should be held at different levels. This could be Scotland as part of the EU, Scotland as part of the UK and the EU, or whatever other permutations you care to come up with. I have already noted that I think almost everyone agrees with the principle of this. Am I wrong?"
You are not wrong. I believe, as do you, that the modern world no longer operates, in the main, as a planet made up of all independent nations. I believe we would be better served by being part of the EU (especially in our infancy as an independent nation).
I have always been very sceptical of the EU as an institution, and don' believe it is nearly as efficient and effective as it could or should be, but the principle of the EU is a good one for an independent Scotland, and as long as we aren't forced into signing the (hopefully doomed) EU constitution, then I'm confident Scotland would prosper.
I, however don't believe we necessarily have to be part of the UK, though we can and should work closely with them within a new 'British Isles Union' (or something along those lines) within which we can gain and offer help when it is best for us all on very few, but very important issues.
Day to day Government, such as schools and hospitals and transport etc, yes, should be part of an independent Scotland, but we should have tools, mechanisms and trust enough to utilise the UK, the EU, whoever, with such links being embedded into our national plan.
I've tried not to blog much about the 'financial meltdown', any of the seven 'Black Fridays' we've experienced or the falling share prices of pretty much everything - partly because I'm so bored of the story, and partly becuse most of it simply doesn't make sense to me.
But my main topic of ignorance, is the one that gets me most angry and confused all at the same time. If all the banks are in the same mess, where they do't have enough capital, why is the main focus of sorting out the economy and the banking industry dependant on "Banks having the confidence to lend to each other again".
If we are about to throw £37bn (on top of the other cash we've wished down the river) to these ailing banks, why is it that we are doing so, just so that they can lebd to each other.
How I see it (and this is where the 'stupid' probably comes in), is that the banks are pretty much in debt (due to the mortgage writedowns) and we are bailing them out but then we're encouraging them(!) to borrow more from other banks and then inter-lend.
Hypothetical - Two sisters are maxed out on their credit cards, at the limit of their overdrafts, smashed the piggy bank with pennies left to get them through the month.
Dad then gives them £1,000 each to get them through the month, enough to 'get by'.
Then one of them has to borrow more later on in the month.
This girl shouldn't be getting daddies money any more, in my opinion.
A few months back, we ploughed billions into the markets, "to free up liquidity" and encourage inter-bank lending. Now, we're doing the same thing, when we were before led to believe the last happy-sack of £billions should free up the markets.
We, like the dad, shouldn't be funding a system like this, or is there more to it I just don't get? Please help me understand this, because I'm beginning to see the banks as wannabe wags who just shop for shoes.
Welcome to the blogosphere - soon to be renamed 'The SNP chatroom'.
The CyberNats must have had a merry dance when Kezia Dugdale announced her blogging days were at an end, though I cannot see it as anything more than pathetic that this should be seen as a victory for the SNP.
There is a slight concern at Political Dissuasion HQ, that the SNP, when faced with someone capable, will turn into the News of the World in their relentless, irrelevant pursuit of someone just to break them. There are so, so many SNP/pro-independence blogs out here in blogland, and who can argue against it? If Independence is on the up, and people are feeling passionate enough about it to blog and write and debate, then that's just bloody lovely.
If the SNP/pro-independence supporters are just out to crush anyone else's suggestion that independence might not be the shining light for this country, then in that case what's the point?
Like her or hate her, Kezia Dugdale was one of very, very few Scottish Labour blogs out there, and as a result, offering a different opinion to the backslapping, thigh-rubbing SNP blogs, created GENUINE DEBATE. Like her or hate her, she was voted by the blogosphere to be one of the most popular blogs to read, voted for by folks from across the spectrum (yes, even some SNP supporters voted for her!).
She came in for stick, but she'll have expected that being one of very few prominent Labour blogs around. She'll have expected it, because although she defends him to the hilt, Kezia knows that Lord Foulkes is a walking ridicule of Scottish politics and like community art, is a waste of taxpayers money.
But why would the SNP be pleased that she's a goner? If she was just one girl, pushing 'nothing more than the party-line', then why would the SNP give a shit?
Well, I've realised, as much as the SNP talk about consensus politics and listening to the people and working together, that is not their end game. They want to ridicule and politically crucify anyone who stands in their way, especially in the blogosphere. The amount of abuse some anti-independence blogs have received has been ridiculous. I've always had a sense that the SNP since winning in 2007, had a bit of 'gallas swagger' to them, which I kind of liked, felt Scotland needed. I always thought that Salmond seemed a wee bit too smug, a bit of a 'wee shit' sense about him, which after WetWipeMcConnell, we definitely needed.
But now, to me, there are strong elements within the SNP, both in Parliament and outside in the blogosphere, the street, wherever you find these Nats, that are just a bunch of nasty shits. Really, there are so many reasons I should support the SNP, and if you go through the archives, you'll see me applauding them and Salmond time and time again.
But they've just sort of gone back to being angry, sort of like Labour are now. They've obvioulsy realised that even if they get their independence referendum, they'll probably lose it. Which worries me. I've always worried about the SNP's 'Independence or bust' philosophy and I'm worried they're only willing to play nice if they get independence - if not, they'll just be an angry bunch of wanna-be freedomites, who just walk about in a bad fucking mood, looking for someone to take it out on. This doesn't help when we have an opposition who is too angry at the SNP for winning.
Government - ANGRY with no easy fix. Opposition - ANGRY with no easy fix.
Not a good set up for political harmony, methinks.
So this nasty edge to the SNP is eeking out. Disagree with us in an effective way, and we'll come after you, spend hours trying pick a hole in a mere suggestion, and generally, not being nice.
The arrogance of winning combined with the frustration of (probably) not getting independence is a Nationalist brew, as they had all these plans and dreams for an independent Scotland that their motivation, and their intentions have been hampered, leaving an impotent SNP.
As winter draws nearer, the skies, like the SNP are turning darker by the day.
OK, so has not been a good week, and I'm going to blame Gordon Brown.
1) I have a severe, possibly critical case of man-flu, and have phoned all my loved ones, just incase the worst happens - only the elderly are offered and encouraged to get a flu shot, so due to age discrimination, I'm blaming Brown for my illness and possible death (it's a BAD case of man-flu!)
2) I was made redundant last week, and although I didn't work in a financial background, I'm blaming the credit crunch, which in turn, I'm blaming Gordon Brown for. (I was initially delighted to 'get paid to quit', but once I realised there are either no jobs out there or so many bankers claiming they have skills they don't really have, and it dawned on me I might not saunter jovially into another job on better money, now I'm bummed)
3) The weather. Yes, I'm blaming the Prime Minister for the weather. Global warming, your the PM, every time it rains I'm going to blame global warming, which in turn I'm going to blame on you.
4) All of the above + football.
I'm playing football today which...
Isn't good at the best of times when it's sh*tting it down with rain. And you have a life-threatening cold/man-flu/disease/plague/sniffel. And it costs £5.
So fuck you Gordon Brown, thanks for fucking up my weekend.
He claims that "gridlock" on the first day of roadworks on the Mound, means that this is a massive failure, and TIE chief Willie Gallagher should resign.
Now, I've not been a fan of the trams4edinburgh idea from the beginning, and still think they're a bad idea, but Steve Cardownie is making a fool of himself.
Day One: something goes wrong, so someone should get sacked? What a nonsense philosophy.
My focus of agitation towards leader of the SNP group, Cardownie, is two-fold.
ONE - for the last few months, if you tried to travel up Leith Walk during rush hour in a car or bus, you were met with gridlock and ridiculous delays and diversions. Did you scream about it then? No. You only grumble (grumble = demanding a resignation) when
"It was just terrible on Wednesday, I had to make two U-turns to get home as it was pandemonium." Aww, bless.
Ok, so because you had some difficulty driving in Edinburgh (where it's difficult enough anyway), you blow a fuse? This is what you call a ridiculous case of political road rage.
If you gave a toss about transport and infrastructure and Edinburgh, you'd have known that Leith Walk was like this already, has been for months, but you didn't, and you didn't complain, so don't just moan because it inconveniences you a wee bit.
TWO - Anyone who sits on Edinburgh City Council, can shut the f*ck up when talking about traffic and gridlock in the capital. Edinburgh City Council are legendary for their inability, AS A COUNCIL (so don't be blaming contractors), regardless of which party held control, when it comes to roadworks and gridlock. Maybe it was gridlocked because everything else was in such a mess that a tiny bit of roadworks (remember, this is just DAY ONE) sends it over the edge.
So George Foulkes, if you want to rant at this guy, go ahead.
Although I don't agree with the trams, they're going ahead and I just have to live with it. Part of living with it is accepting that to make progress, things will have to be disrupted for a while. The SNP have to realise, that the votes have been cast, counted and verified and we're having a tram system and what comes with that. To demand the resignation of TIE's Willie Gallagher is just the SNP through their toys oot the tram because they didn't get what they wanted.
He also uses the most potentially dangerous line anyone from the SNP could throw out there...
"The buck has to stop somewhere, so I would say that would be the chief executive...he is responsible so he has to resign. "How could it have gone so badly and how do we know it won't happen again? With power comes responsibility."
So the next time Salmond/the Government/a Government agency/an SNP employee messes up, I expect to here from Steve Cardownie with such phrases directed towards Salmond.
John Holden, Labour representative for Inverness South, has apparently been arrested for fraud. Well I can't help but chuckle.
Will the Iain Grays, the Cathy Jamiesons and the Kezia Dugdales be screaming "SHAME!" from the parliament's poorly built rooftops? Will they instantly be demanding that Holden be suspended, punished, resign, expelled from the party or at worst, put down?
I'm guessing not.
And you know they won't, and you know they'll come up with some pish, even if he's found guilty, to explain that he did nothing wrong, Labour's shite smells of roses and it's actually all Alex Salmond's fault.
And the difference between Holden and Hanif? Holden (if found guilty) will have broken the law, whereas Hanif will just have done something that society frowns upon. Now, I'm not defending Hanif's weaponised-butlins soujourn, but it must be said that he didn't break the law, whereas if found guilty, Holden will have done.
Even if Hanif was pointing a Kalashnikov at Scottish Labour, they still wouldn't hold their hands up.
And we know why. Labour's policy is (and I'll concede, almost all political parties are exactly the same, it's just that the current issue concerns a Labour member)
"Not in our backyard! (but if it's in our frontyard, then we mustn't grumble)."
I hope to see Labour pushing for the same punishment they demanded for Hanif, because Holden's actions are deemed by our laws to be worse than Hanif's.
Go on Labour prove me wrong - but we know you won't. "SHAME!"
I could go on and on and on about the history of Sir Ian Blair, but I won't. The de Menezes issue and his blatant Labourism probably didn't help, but the worst part in all of this, the scandalously sickening, wrong bit in all of this, is the prolonged, vicious campaign that the London Evening Standard ran against him for years. He was hounded to the same extent by this paper as Ken Livingstone was, and when you are the only real 'London paper', you're going to hold an unhealthy sway over Londoner's views.
So yet again, the media has hounded this man to the end of his career. We really need to sort this media nonsense out. But anyway, on to the main reason for my post.
With such media scrutiny (some of it warranted due to the nature of the job, some it really not), this appointment, an appointment made by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, against a Conservative London mayor and a Conservative-swinging London Evening Standard, is almost a mini-by-election for the Labour Government.
This role, which only recently has become so well publicised and politicised, is now considered fair game in the same way that Robin Cook's love life and John Prescott's waist to the media were, where they do not feel compelled to focus on the issues (ie how good he/she'll be at the job) but will focus on personality politics.
And if Labour appoint someone that has any smackage of scandal, then suddenly, that is the story - not the future of the Met, not the necessary reforms to systems in the organisation, not the future of counter-terrorism operations - that 'Labour appoint crony' or something that detracts from the issue.
But the problem now is, with the role being so public and the media - and politicians - being so intrusive into the politics of what should be a non-political role, that Labour will struggle to find anyone to take the job. It's no secret that very few people would be willing to take it.
But with the Tories on the march in the polls, Boris as London Mayor (who will certainly be putting his buffoon's worth in) and the ridiculously Tory London Evening Standard, then Jacqui Smith will have to appoint someone whiter than white. Better make that bluer than blue if you want to avoid a PR fight.
Yes, apparently the Queen has secretly gone cap in hand to the Government saying that they need a bit more cash in order to meet the costs of official engagements and the upkeep of Royal Households.
"Without a state bail-out, the Queen will be unable to balance her books within the next three years"
Somehow I can't imagine Her Royal Highness really does do her own accounts, having watched a "tax doesn't have to be taxing" advert, giving it a shot herself, but it's quite an image.
So, what to do? The Government, in between owning Northern Rock and trying to desperately buy votes with CashBack Tax policies, is not in a position to just bail out the Queen. Northern Rock was in a Labour heartland, the Queen is not.
Well, to me, the most crucial factor in this predicament is...
"If the monarchy keeps spending at the current rate". Well, like all of us, will they not just have to cut back a bit? What with Harry and Wills bringing in a military wage each, could they not just live off that for a bit? If the country at large is feeling the pinch and we're being told, 'times are tough' and 'you're going to have to be more frugal', should that not apply to the big cheese of the people, she who sits at the top of the pile?
So, the Government should do what it can, but if it can't totally match the shortfall, there are only two options...
one, the Royal family cuts back a bit
two, convert the house into flats (you can keep the master suite/penthouse, yer Maj).
Whoo-hoo! Whoop! and thank Christ for that. Jesus, I thought she'd never leave.
I've never liked Ruth Kelly. I'm glad she's leaving and glad she'll be gone from front line politics, for now.
God, I could prattle on about her voice, her religion, her wasted time at Transport, Health... but I won't, as that would be Almighty unfair, as I'm sure there's other out there Lording it over her with such attacks.
I will just say that she'll be back. She is shying away from being front-line Labour, just as it's building up to crunch time. Never been a fan of Brown so why be around to weigh down his sinking ship.
Spend time with your family? What a nice notion, but I don't believe you. You know that with Gordon at the helm, having bought himself a few more months with a mediocre, pandering, lefty and rather dull to non-Labourites speech, that things are only going to get worse, much worse. And you, to an extent understandably, don't want to be associated with it.
This is a woman who is not afraid to be associated with Opus Dei, a Catholic-version of a cult, making her, arguably, a 'religious extremist' you might say.
But doesn't want to be associated with Labour when their down. This tells me that, even to those on the inside, it's no longer worth having faith in the Labour Party. Even Labour's ministers know that the best thing Labour can do for the modern British family, is give up, go home and be with them.
a) the BBC seemed to have their noses well in front of everyone else with the merger news, but also...
b) the coverage was so glowing, so perfect, so scripted for Gordon Brown to look good.
Well then. Seems like the Government and the BBC have been in cahoots for some time. Richard Branson is claiming that key decisions on Northern Rock would not be taken by the Government without consulting BBC Business Editor, Robert Peston, with the leading quote being John Kingman (Treasury, Civil Servant) - "the Government would have to take account of the view of Robert Peston".
Remember, this is the same man who was 'first to report' that Lloyds would be taking over HBOS. That, to this suspicious man, is more than coincidence, and more than having a good source.
Now, I've checked, and there don't appear to be any other Robert Pestons who would be relevant to this subject, so I'm crying FOUL, SCANDAL!
There is a scandal in the midst of all the banking mess.
Gordon Brown and Sir Victor Blank (Chairman of Lloyds) are good friends. Lloyds buy HBOS in a move that would usually fall foul the Competition Commission. Gordon Brown hurries through legislation to make this move permissable. Lloyds are generally thought to have done some good business in this deal. Gordon Brown says that he oversaw the deal.
Or, Sir Victor calls Gordon and says, "We want, and are in a position to buy, HBOS, which might take some of the sting out of the whole economic 'troubles' you're facing, Gordy. How about, if we buy it, we will safeguard Scottish jobs as a higher priority than English ones, and we can even say you had steady-hand over the whole deal, effectively saying you brokered it, then you legislate to get it past the Competition Commission. Deal?"
This is a scandal. There has been no mention, no suggestion of a conflict of interest, and as more and more details are revealed, it's just getting more and more a political deal, rather than financial one. Take the whole "the Prime Minister was involved in pushing through the deal" nonsense. That just sounds like a spun line that the media just took up, nodded their heads and ran with. Now the whole Scottish jobs being saved above English ones just smacks of pre-by-election scandal - just watch how often the HBOS story is mentioned in Glenrothes (because, in the last 6 months, it's his only 'achievement').
But does the media report anything of the like? No.
The media is practically dead in the UK, with investigative journalism restricted now to once a week/month programmes like Dispatches and Panorama.
Every day journalists just print what they get from a briefing room and a press release.
This was not a financial deal, this was not a sign that Gordon Brown can lead us through the 'tough times'. This is a man who is willing to pawn off dodgy deals solely to save his unsavable skin.
They'd probably be a whole lot better than Iain Gray's Shadow Cabinet.
I mean come off it. Same old faces, same old policies, same old ideas - so I say to the Scottish Labour Party, with their shiny new cabinet, to quote Kezia Dugdale, "you're boring me now".
Everyone knows Labour need a change.
Yes a change of leader. Check. A change of faces among the Shadow Cabinet? Er, not quite.
If Kerr and Jamieson had any respect and ambition for the party, they would have said,
"Look, guys, you're going to offer me a position, mostly so we 'look united', but what this party needs is a fresh touch, a new direction and new blood breathing life into our campaigns, our policies and the party. It's time that we gave some of the younger ones, who aren't already tied into negative stories with the press and public and give the party a new beginning. We'll be as supportive as you want, but frontline stuff should be moved on to the next generation".
But instead, they're back in senior positions, which means the main meat of the party grows staler and staler under the same bad butchers' watch. These are obviously not the people to be at the front end of Labour policy. Margaret Curran? I won't do a paragraph on that, again, I'll just say 'What a ****ing st*pid decision by Gray appointing such a ****, ***********, ********* **tch ****** ** ** ******* ***** and a big fat loser'.
So Kezia, understandably is trying to big up this new team.
So far, all she can resort to is sexist and ageist comparisons between the SNP team and TeamNonsense over in the Labour camp.
But shocker of the day is card-carrying SNP Tactical Voting pretty much applauding Gray for not being petty.
Fine, he may not be petty but is anyone, except Kerr, Jamieson and Curran going to be impressed, even happy about this? He needs a slap, not a commendation for being a bit nice. Christ, it's almost Liberal Democrat territory how chummy he's being. No doubt he's just sure that his first f*ck up, and the unholy trinity will be banging on the leadership-election-drum, looking for their big shot, so this aoughta keep'em schtum for a month or two.
When he was elected, I was glad and thought that Scotland would now have a new, fresh and capable opposition, but nope, in the true cronyism spirit of Labour, those that have failed time and time again, get yet another chance, again. Fresh blood, real debate and a challenging opposition is what Scotland needs. What we get is nothing but the same old rump.
Also You want to know why there are more Nat blogs than Labour? Cos it trickles down from the top, where the SNP, Tories, even the LibDems, have their houses in order, make changes where necessary and have a pool of talent they can and DO use. They feel confident in the party, especially the senior figures of the party.
Labour, keep the same senior numptys (from Andy Kerr all the way to GB himself), and look what happens, blog numbers decrease, membership sinks, polling data gets smaller and smaller and the party is set to lose control of it's second Parliament in succession because voters are abandoning them. It's not difficult to work out why all these things are turning sour. And it all stems from the top.
One of the most successful soundbites of Labour's reign. Fair enough, Labour may not have been any good at 'getting tough', but the idea, the principle, the sense of what the British people wanted, was there to see.
Every now and again, a poll will come out listing what the people's main concerns in society are. If you take away the seasonal swingers such as immigration and environment, which disappeared from sight in these polls as quickly as they appeared, you are always left with the core three topics that are the mainstay of society that the public will always care about. If you abandon any of these, or take a very wrong approach on any, then as a political party, you are toast.
The three that you can't screw around with are Health, Education and Crime.
The Lib Dems do not get it when it comes to crime. Do we want a softly, softly approach to criminals? Nope.
The Lib Dems want minor offences punished with non-custodial sentences. That would be fine, but when the stats say that most minor crime is committed by repeat offenders - often on their fifth and sixth warning, or one case where the kid had over 20 ASBOs - the ones who DO make a difference to everyone's everyday life, then these criminals aren't learning.
ASBOs are not the solution to these offenders. Community service isn't the answer to these offenders. Fines are certainly not the answer, because when you tell a thief he's got to pay you money, chances are he's going to go out and steal, rob, burgle, mug to make up for the money he's just paid out in Liberal Justice.
Chris Huhne, laying out his proposals today, will also say we should not be building more prisons.
Prisons aren't full purely because of Government targets or beauracracy. They are full because people keep committing CRIME. And as these prisons are full, people who should be locked up are being set free.
But that's the Lib Dem dream, we can let them loose, they'll see the error of their ways. No, Chris, they are repeatedly bad people doing bad things and will continue to do bad things until the good guys have somewhere to put them...p r i s o n.
The Lib Dems are like the girl we all know who meets a guy who everyone knows is no good, she knows he's no good. He's got a track record of cheating, even did it to her best mate, doesn't treat any of his girlfriends well, probably known to have smacked a few of them about, but the girl still goes ahead with it, thinking "It'll be different with me, I can change him". "Well, toots, everyone warned you, so don't come greetin' to me when he's banging your wee sister!"
No, you cannot eradicate crime and criminals with the love of society. Some people just need locking up and if that involves more prisons, I'll happily pay more taxes to do it.
I'm no SNP supporter, but still, a couple of questions for Iain
1) In the current climate, with the credit crunch and a potentially shrinking budget, is studying economics such a bad thing?
2) "he moved to the Royal Bank of Scotland I moved to Mozambique"
RBS has more political, social, economic and cultural relevance to Scotland, the Scottish people and the Scottish Parliament than Mozambique. So his experience there will be more useful to 'we, the people' than your mission to Africa.
3) In 2001 Salmond abandoned the Scottish Parliament?
Whereas the Scottish PEOPLE abandoned you Iain in 2003, when they chose not to elect you. You then
4) became an advisor to Alastair Darling at the Scottish Office, something you criticise Salmond for doing earlier in his career.
5) "We don't need a first minister whose pride is putting people down" - but Iain, all you've done in this article is (try to) put Salmond down, so I'm guessing you'll be ruling yourself out?
Some ridiculous bits in there, nothing on the future, nothing on policies or direction, just nothing.
I love to remind Labour at this time of their lovely slogan
"Forward, not back"
but yet again all we get from Labour is reminscence to the good old days and fear-flame-throwing to the Tories past. Just look at how often Salmond and the SNP are mentioned alongside Thatcher... unfortuantely, despite Labour picking the right candidate, it turns out he is the wrong politician.
Margaret Curran is to take a leading role in driving forward new policies for the Scottish Labour party.
Talk about one step forward, two steps back!
You need to rid the Labour frontbench of all those tired, unsuccessful, unwanted Labour politicians and bring in new blood.
Labour isn't working. So change it. If you are just a new front face on the same 'system', then that will not work with voters. I could go into this in detail, yet again, but you need a fresh new Labour Party in Scotland, not the same mediocre politicians, including one who just lost you 13,000 votes in your heartland.
I can't imagine many in the Labour Party are cock-a-hoop at the sight of Margaret Curran, face of Labour embarrassment, taking a leading role. She is a political turn-off, annoying, and over-exposed. People are sick of the sight (and sound) of her, people are sick at the sight of this Labour Party.
As the Asda reduced to clear section says... WHOOPS!
It will take a monumental shift, skill, understanding and political leadership to do the unthinkable at the next election, but by electing Iain Gray, Scottish Labour have, to an exorbetant extent, made the right choice, both for Scotland, but moreso for the party.
I'm no big fan of Labour. To be frank, the way things are right now, openly admitting you're a fan of the Labour Party is like openly saying Gary Glitter seems like an ok chap. Even if you believe it, you don't want to get looked at funny.
And so to today's announcement which will dictate the next episode of the Scottish Parliament.
Jack McConnell Wendy Alexander Andy Kerr Malcolm Chisholm Frank McAveety Cathy Jamieson Margaret Curran
These are the 'old guard' of Labour, that the public has seen, heard (too much of) and recognise as 'that's him/her fae the Labour Party'. The problem is, the Labour party is now a mess, it's a walking shell-suit, desperately in need of change.
If Kerr or Jamieson gets the nomination, then it's goodnight Labour, and we'll see you right after the election when your new leader's stood down after another trouncing on the ballot.
It's the basic communication concept of 'signs and signifiers';
You see a big red cross, you think of medical care. You see a skull and crossbones on a bottle, you think of poison. You see a big red bus, you think of London.
In this case, you see Kerr or Jamieson and you think of mediocrity. These are the guys that represent the Scottish Labour Party that was deserted by swathes of the Scottish people. It's like Margaret Curran standing in the Glasgow East by-election.
What the Labour Party just doesn't seem to understand is that we the people know these politicians and have seen what they can do, have heard what they've promised and have decided that they just don't cut it.
The Tories made the same, simple mistake when they elected Howard as their leader in Westminster. In the end, eventually, they went for someone new, someone fresh, who the people didn't associate with their past mistakes and calamity, and chose David Cameron - and what a difference!
Scotland needs a strong opposition, but also one led by someone who isn't associated with their gory past and someone who isn't pining for 'the good old days'. In Iain Gray, they may not have the winning formula with which to 'take back the house', but they have a better chance of making ground, moving forward and providing Scotland and the Scottish Parliament what it will always need - strong, sensible opposition on whom the electorate can rely.
If they choose anyone but Gray, they are doomed to an extended spell on the subs bench of successful parliamentary politics.
We all knew that it was going to turn out this way.
Gordon Brown's measures to tackle high energy prices...cost the taxpayer.
The cry of "do something, do something" from the media and some of the public was dutifully answered by our panicked Prime Minister and will be duly hammered as another failed attempt at looking lke Labour is helping the people.
The Government, the PM, the Chancellor, the Labour Party, the Bank of England, Richard Branson, Vince Cable - there is nothing meaningful and effective anyone can do to prevent these higher prices. Inflation, energy prices, the cost of food...these are free-market problems and the free-market will either give us a thumbs up or thumbs down Caesar-style, as to how, or if, we get through this.
What Gordon Brown should be doing is telling the people, in no uncertain terms, that sometimes life is tough, and unfortunately for his Prime Ministerial chronology, but more so for the people of the 'here and now', we just have to tough it out. "We will do what we can, where we can, to help make life easier for those who are struggling but the bottom line is the Government nor the Parliament, can just dictate interest rates, enrgy prices or the price of goods".
Instead, what Gordon Brown is doing, is running around trying put out 100 isolated fires all at the same time, but doesn't realise that when Gordon Brown is the firefighter, it isn't water in his hose, it's just more fuel.
These fires are isolated and will, at some point that we cannot predict or control, put them selves out. We just have to leave them to burn, and as they are isoalted, there's no danger in this as they cannot catch on to anything else. They are their own, problematic entities.
But as GB runs from one political scorching to another, often stopping for just a second to say, very unconvincingly, "I have everything under control, nothing to see here", we stand there, knowing there's nothing he can do, almost feeling sorry for him.
Stamp duty freezes will not make the BIG DIFFERENCE that people want right now, and by saying "we have a plan", you build up expectations that everything will be sorted asap. But we know that's not how the free-market works. You cannot control foreign economies which have a massive impact on our own, so stop kidding yourself on.
Energy bills is another example.
Price of food is yet another.
Why do you think that no other party, not even leading independent businessmen, economists and industry professionals, have come up with a solution? Because there isn't a man-made way of fixing this. And all this running around, trying to look Prime Ministerial is like something from Faulty Towers where everyone but the character knows his panic is in vain.
And the worst part for Gordon Brown is that the Tories are doing nothing productive on the issue. They, day-in, day-out, ask what is the PM doing on this and that, and as a result GB jumps, saying "Look, I'm doing something". You've fallen into their very simple trap.
Any activity on your part cannot be successful to the extent that it will eradicate the problem, which in turn can be deemed a failure on your part.
And all the Tries need to do, day-in, day-out, is nothing except ask, "What is the Prime Minister doing on...", knowing that you will do it, and get your fingers burnt.
This is how the Tories will win the next election, by doing practically nothing. Because they know, that nothing can, and nothing should, be done, by our PM.
I may be a bit late and missed the debate a few months back, but anyway, my tuppence worth...
No this has nothing to do with our favourite gun-slinging SNP councillor, this is the stooshie about repainting the fleet of Scotland's trains. For those who have just yawned at the thought of trains, I apologise.
After Transport Scotland announced that the First Scotrail fleet was to be repainted based around the saltire flag, Labour decided they had to have a bit of a huff about it.
Labour questioned whether the SNP was using the Saltire for nationalistic aims rather than the "simple patriotic pride in Scotland, which we all share".
George Foulkes described it as "independence by creep"
That silly old duffer then went on to claim "they try to brainwash people into independence instead (of debating the issues) with a strategy of incremental changes".
Hang on George, we're talking about painting trains in the colours of Scotland's flag.
Do you then think that flying the Saltire, anywhere, by anyone, in Scotland, classes that perosn, politician or not, SNP or not, as trying to "brainwash" all who pass by? What a ridiculous thought Lord Foulkes.
As you could probably have guessed with this sort of situation, Labour didn't do their homework.
Yes, this idea, this brainwashing, independence fuelled, nat-graffitti-paint-job was actually initiated not by the SNP, but by Transport Scotland, and was in the plans well before the SNP got their hands on power - so Labour then?
George, you've got a very able backroom team throughout the party, surely one of them, at your request could have realised this within minutes of a google search. But no, the concept of 'think before you speak' proves further alien to our esteemed Labour embarrassment.
Only the Tories (for potentially colour-based reasons) have come out with any sensible comments on the issue...
The wisdom of David McLetchie shining through...
(from the Telegraph)
(The Conservatives) welcomed the new colour scheme and said the Saltire was a symbol of Scotland and not the flag of nationalism.
David McLetchie, the chief whip and former party leader, added: "If we are to deny its use by anyone other than the separatists, then we deny the right of all Scots to fly their own flag.
"The Union Flag belongs to Britain, the Saltire to Scotland. The vast majority of us are proud to fly both, as proud patriots, not narrow nationalists."
Also, Labour hadn't taken the time to read the proposals as to WHY the change was suggested, it was for continuity in the event of another franchise takeover, to avoid confusion in the future, to assist THE COMMUTERS, people not mentioned by the Labour Party in their clamour.
Well done Transport Scotland.
Well done First Group (for agreeing to shrink you're own logo for the cause)
Well done the Scottish Conservative Party, for having sense, maturity and a real understanding of what politics should be about.
Labour want a public inquiry into the C-Diff deaths at Vale of Leven Hospital?
Brave, considering the verdict will probably be something along the lines of...
"After years of under investment and slapdash policies, the changes recently undertaken by the SNP Government didn't stand a chance of fixing things in such a short space of time. Much like some of the victims, help came too late, and bad practises, both at the Vale of Leven Hospital and at the Scottish Parliament were far too imbedded and ignored, that these unfortunate events were almost inevitable."
Hospitals with not enough funds. Hospitals with not enough nursing staff, so having to stretch their minimal funds even further by using agency nurses. Hospitals with cleanliness issues, health & safety issues, low morale and poor inspection rates - this is the legacy of Labour.
Now, we all know they'll wriggle out of any condemnation they receive in an inquiry, whereas I would hope, and have come to expect the SNP to hold its hands up to anything their Government has done wrong and find a solution, as opposed to the Labour method of shouting as loud as they can to drown anything else out that "WE'VE NEVER DONE ANYTHIN' WRONG, YA BASS".
If Labour and the SNP are both found to be at fault over the past few years, what the chances that they throw muck across the chamber at each other, rather than trying together to find a solution, what the hope that any MSP says, "blame shlame, what's our way forward"? I am hoping the SNP are strong enough to ignore sour Labour chants, and I'd also hope that Labour have seen that trying to shit on the SNP just isn't working as a winning strategy.
So stop looking for inquiries into this and that hoping that just one will say "It's all because of the SNP/Labour" as it's never going to happen and give you the slur you dream of.
SNP - You're the Government, fix it. Labour - You want to be the Government, prove it.
We hear a lot of bluster and bold words from politicians about renewable energy. We have targets, Commissions, we even have things called 'green taxes', which, by any other name are just 'taxes'.
But what we don't have is a renewable energy strategy, a clear programme for progress on how we are going to tackle this energy problem.
Now, based on how few of bloggers write about this topic, this shows that it's never going to really top the agenda. Cross-party name-calling, nit-picking, trying to catch each other out on minor inconsistencies and 'my dick's bigger than your dick' is mostly what goes on in the blogosphere. Come to think of it, that's most of what goes on in the Scottish Parliament.
But politicians, in particlular the SNP Government are one of the few parties with enough of a brash, 'fuck it, let's give it a shot' attitude to doing things for our little country. They have set ambitious targets (31% of power from renewables by 2011 and 50% by 2020) and if they match them, I'll be mightily impressed!
So tomorrow sees the Sustainable Scotland conference on how Scotland is facing up to the challenges of the 21st century at Our Dynamic Earth, seemingly with a particular focus on energy and the environment. Jim Mather will be delivering a keynote on clean energy and the question of how Scotland can be a world-leader in this field.
Considering one of the big questions/fears about an independent Scotland is one of how our economy will cope as a future independent nation, and that with most believing that when the oil runs out, our money will have to come from renewables, there ought to be a greater focus on Mather's speech than there is.
Further to this, the SNP Government seems to be getting an open appraisal at the event with Richard Wakeford, the Scottish Government's director general for environment speaking in a review of Government policy and strategy and considering progress (it's an appraisal "Here's how you've done for this last year, and now we'll set some targets for the next").
But will this get reported? Probably not. Will it be blogged about by anyone other than the annoying hippy-brigade? Doubt it.
To an extent, if we do end up independent, whether you want it or not, major factors for our economy need to be examined, planned, thought through and tested before we can be confident of their success, and that means starting now.
I'm all in favour of a radical renewable energy policy, carpet-bomb the hills with windfarms for all I care, I freaking love them. Go back to Peterhead and get the tidal power project, that Labour frittered away to avoid upsetting Westminster, back on track.
Step up to the plate Jim Mather, this should be a big test for you (though probably won't be), give us a real, strong forward strategy, one that we can reduce emmissions with, but also that we can take to the world, share with the world and sell to the world.
When you talk about 'clean energy' talk about real solutions, not ones that just pander to business (if you try to convince us that 'clean coal' is anything other than just a con, you'll have failed). Talk about how we can really do this, why it's necessary and most of all, why this is a damn good idea for Scotland. You and your party have made good, promising strides so far, don't fade now.
It's not popular, and to be honest, it's never going to happen but I believe in a flat rate of income tax.
There. I said it.
I know almost no one agrees with me, and I know that I'll take pelters for this, but to me, a flat rate of income tax is the fairest way to do it. The TUC has said tax the rich more, but to me, that's just a shit idea which furthers Britain's mindset of "let's punish those who are successful".
I won't go into the details of it all, because I'm not introducing a bill with this, though the numbers pretty much stack up, but all in all, I say...
Make the first £12,000 of someone's wages tax free.
Everything above that £12,000, should be taxed at 38%.
This would do three important things.
1) people on the lowest wages, would be helped the most. 2) it is fairer, as everyone would be paying an equal share of their disposable income. 3) I'd be slightly better off, and so would you probably.
Do the math yourself, both for your own wages, but also for the poorer people in society, and tell me this isn't at least worth considering.
I don't believe the rich should get taxed more, I believe that as a citizen, I am just as responsible for the 'upkeep of society' as someone with £50million sat in the bank, and if 38% is what keeps it at current spending levels, then I'm all in favour.
I know I'm in the minority on this, but I can't see how?
One day in, and the Lib Dems are a flip-flopping. Am I suprised? Not a jot!
Am I worried that this new era for the Lib Dems will have any effect on my life? Nope. Not a jot!
But come on Tavish, you are either deliberately trying to make the Lib Dems 'the big story' in the press, which isn't a good idea when your first move of note, as leader of the nineteenth most popular party in Scotland, is one that has to be clarified, but still leaves us with a...
"So what does he want to do?" feeling.
Silly, silly Tavish.
But maybe, just maybe, there's a glimmer of hope on the horizon, because he's not come out the blocks saying "We will be a major force in Scottish politics" or any fantastical nonsense about taking power in the next election. No, his first move of note, hinted at cooperation with the biggest party, cooperation on a referendum issue, to give people a choice on ALL the options.
They may not say it publicly, but we all know that Labour, the Tories and the Lib Dems are pretty embarrassed by their unashamedly childish 'limits' to the scope of the Calman Commission. It's not a referendum if we haven't got all the main options, it's more of a toss of the coin than a democratic decision-making process.
So, although it's muddled, and was tied in with a rather predictable attack on Salmond, who you don't like personally, I'm glad to see that somewhere in your Northern head, there is enough space, consideration and professional maturity to have thoughts of cooperation in running our country.
Because the Scottish Parliament runs our country, Tavish, remember that, not the SNP. The Scottish Government has a numerical head-start, sure, but the Parliament is where you are, and not through parties, not through the Government, but through cooperation, working together, for Scotland and doing what we all pay you to do, is where progress can be made.
But please, please get a clear message, a communications strategy. It's so hard to attack you guys if even you don't know what you're talking about.
...yes, the Labour Governments have, undoubtedly, done some truly excellent things and anyone who claims they have not is full of blind political tribalism.
You mention the minimum wage, which at the time I was extremely sceptical about? YUP! Cracking piece of legislation. And that's not the only thing you guys have done, not by a long way and on those things I applauded you well, and I am certainly not a Labour fan.
But your post is just ridiculous, it embodies what the Labour party, New or old, left or centre, has become. You cannot deny that Labour is 'not what it once was', but when the Labour Party's only campaign and argument is "Remember how bad the Tories were?", then you're really running out of juice.
Labour are the party that had the slogan "Forward not back", yet all Labour party does is either say "Look what we did 7 years ago" or "Look what the Tories did 20 years ago", and what a shite argument these have both been.
"Forward not back"? Your whole post focuses on a "Remember the..." mantra! Well unfortunately for you guys, you've been in office long enough to have your own "Remember the..." comedy of errors.
Here's just some of them
Remember the... fucking up of the housing market 2p tax screw up which hit the poor renewables announcements followed by plans to increase nuclear which was subsequently followed by announcements on new COAL fired power stations doubling of inflation on Labour's watch Home Office that wasn't fit for purpose keeping of Sir Ian Blair after Jean Charles de Menezes mess surrounding Northern Rock high flying oil price election we were all ready for but someone's leader didn't have the stones time when the country came to a standstill in the fuel protests
FUCKING IRAQ WAR...
...in which some soldiers died SOLELY because of underfunding leading to lack of proper equipment Government that converted politics into a media spun circus introduction of PPP into our state education system whitewashed the Hutton report Millennium Dome...
...? So when you talk about "all the things what those Tories 'ave dun", then answer all of these questions before you open your mouths, or shut the fuck up, talk about the future, what you plan to do and impress us that way.
You cannot rest on past successes when you are asking us to vote on how you should run this country in the future. So yes, you've done some great stuff IN THE PAST, but you've also fucked up, royally, in the past.
Nottingham Forest no longer consider themselves to be part of football's European Elite, but under your rationale, because on May 30, 1979 they lifted the European Cup, we should all be calling them powerhouses of the beautiful game. Following your under-used "Forward not back" idea though, you might just realise that they are washed up, not as good as they once were, with a crap man leading the line.
So look forward and just fucking do something (and if you can try make it something good, that'd be a start).
(I've spent 45 mins trying to resize that font and it just isn't happening so my apologies)
Well here's one for the CyberNats to go over-the-top on...
China has banned the flying of the Saltire (along with many other world flags, ie Tibet).
The Nats will have a field day, but to be honest, why?
If a competitor is taking part representing Britain, he/she is obviously not disgusted at being a British representative, so should have no NEED to fly the Saltire, desire maybe, but need, no.
And if they are so afronted by not being able to fly the Saltire while participating as a British competitor, then just fly home now. I'm Scottish and proud. But like it or lump, we are also British, and that is what you are when you are at the Olympics.
I look forward to the childish tantrum that will inevitably ensue from our SNP bloggers, so that I can pity them. Soon enough, we'll have independence anyway, and then, and only then, will we be able to fly the flag, and thenm, and only then, will the Nats stop moaning about stuff that really doesn't matter.
He may not be making a pitch for the leadership, "he's just a very naughty boy".
In every class, in every school, there was that one kid, the really geeky one, who was too intelligent to picked on, but too intelligent to be your friend. Think of that kid in your school.
Now imagine him saying to the teacher...
"Oi, you! Come and have a go if one thinks one's hard enough!"
Miliband, out of nowhere, has found big man's bollocks, strapped them on and decided what he wants. I feel sorry for Brown, I really do, but when you are this much of the problem, regardless of what you say, do, or in this case, don't say, then it's time to do the decent thing and give us a better headline than
"Embattled Brown faces union/cabinet/banks/by-election showdown talks."
All of Brown's policy ideas are focused on his survival. Cameron v Miliband would create new ideas, for the benefit of the country, and Labour know it, the Tories know it, the public know it, christ even the Lib Dems know it, and they know nothing. Labour, old or New, know Brown isn't the one for them, isn't going to win, and is going to cost a lot of them their jobs, so it's only a matter of time.
The future's bright, the future's Orange, Brown David.
Who is really in charge? Not wanting to start some paranoid conspiracy theory, but I'm starting to worry about the unions' power over Labour and our embattled PM.
Since the Grangemouth oil refinery strikes, staged courtesy of mega-militant, mega-memberous Unite, this particular union has seemingly not been out of the press, threatening strikes over anything that it can organise a strike for. And more recently, the GMB has noticed something going on over at Unite and decided they want a slice of militancy.
Let's face it, there is very little more politically crushing for a beleaguered Prime Minister, than strikes, never mind a series of strikes, across pretty much every sector.
So when the unions fund the Labour Party and the unions threaten strikes, and the unions are making demands on policy, and Gordon Brown can't risk pissing these folks off, in fear of these two factors, then it's got to worry you who's really making the decisions.
The general secretary of the GMB has said that Gordon Brown's leadership should be challenged, whereas the joint leader of Unite has said changing the leader was "not the solution". If they want to get what they want, then all these two men need to do, two of the most powerful trade unionists in the land, is get together, agree a strategy, bend Gordon Brown over a barrel and fist him til all their trade union fantasies come true. It'd be a fucking coup! It's not happened on the topic of GB's leadership, but on all policy matters, were they to get together, they genuinely could control our PM cos they can control an army of staff across the board.
Do we want someone who's main concern is not pissing off the unions because the party might lose money? A conflict of interest? The non-stop threatening of strike action from these large unions can only put the shits up Gordon Brown, and although they may have rejected unions' demands for less restrictive strike laws, my point is they know that they have that power.
It's cash for laws! It's a scandal! And these unions are making DEMANDS on the Labour Party, and remember The Labour Party = The Government. When Bernie Ecclestone gave Labour £1million and then the tobacco advertising laws revealed F1 got an exception, it was a massive, massive scandal.
So 'Private Interest A' gave Labour money, policy went in 'Private Interest A''s favour...BIG SCANDAL.
But 'Private Interest B' gave Labour money, policy went in 'Private Interest B''s favour... NO SCANDAL.
With GB bending over sideways and the unions rubbering up, we've got to be worried. Quick, bring back Thatcher before she dies.
Like when push-pops first came into the world, I got very, very excited. The concept - a lollipop that wasn't on a stick? This new idea really took a hold of me, dreams were dreamt, tears were shed when mum said "no".
But then, when the dream became reality and I finally had one, the taste was nothing really that special. Ok, so it had sugar in it, lots, which meant I was never going to not like it, but it was a massive let down. But in spite of this, even though there were things I liked a lot more, I persevered for weeks, wasting my pocket money chasing a dream, a dream that never reached the hype. Eventually, I realised that I had to let go and go back to stuff I knew was what I wanted. The packaging, the hype, the talk... I had been bought over by an idea.
Barack Obama, is a bit like a push-pop (there's a sentence you won't have heard before!).
I've bought the hype, been taken in by the packaging, and liked how Mr Obama was presented as a package. But I'm now in that stage where I'm persevering, trying it over and over again, waiting for that magical flavour that sets him apart. But so far, I'm yet to be impressed.
Yes, he's a cracking orator, and if I had to change my voice, it'd be a toss-up between him and Alan Rickman. I like him, but is he any good, what are his big ideas and policies and how will he do things differently? Aside from talking to Iran, I'm yet to hear anything special from him, any new ideas which have been laid out in detail for me to understand. He's done a European tour, but what have we, and more importantly the American people, learned? Well, apart from the fact that he can draw a crowd, not much. And fair enough, maybe he's saving the big stuff (and even the medium and smallish stuff) for his American audience, but whether it's Europe, America or speaking to the world as "a citizen of the world", he's going to have to come up with some push for his pop stardom.
Those of you familiar with The West Wing will recognise the phrase 'it's the fortune cookie candidacy' and so far I'm seeing it as a bit like that.
"Mr Obama said co-operation with the UK was crucial over climate change, terrorism and the economy" (BBC), but you tell me any other US President or presidential wannabe or even just a basic official who has said anything to the contrary in the modern era? You tell me any other 'ally' country he's going to go to where he's not going to say exactly the same? And that was really it. Even back in America, or wherever he goes, I'm yet to hear much more than the basic bullet-point skeleton of a domestic policy, foreign policy or world-vision.
Hundreds and thousands may make an ice-cream look pretty, but it's the ice cream that must be good, and unfortunately, worryingly, the coolest candidate's gloss is beginning to melt.
On the BBC, Prof Curtis has just been saying the Conservative gaining 4% (projected) in Glasgow East is a "so what" matter. He then went on to say that the SNP have been gaining votes at the expense of the Tories.
Que? Quoi? What?
To gain 4% in GLASGOW is massive for the tories. To gain anything in a two-monkey race is unbelievable. To do it with such a useless candidate? Beyond description. This is a big, big vote of confidence (all things being relative) in the Conservative Party, "the Cameron Effect" as John Sopel says, but most of all, of the wonderful force that is Annabel Goldie!
If the SNP are turning around a grand majority and the Conservatives are gaining 4% in hostile territory, then somehow, Curtis must be getting older than he looks at not realising that it's neither of them that took a beating tonight. Ridiculous thing to say.
Well done Conservatives, well done BoldGoldie, and er, "hi" to Davena.
Now that Margaret (JK Rowling's mum) Curran has lost, surely she must be under pressure to quit as an MSP? She has shown that given the choice, she wanted the Westminster job over the Scottish Parliament job. Surely, no matter what party, if any, you are from, in an ideal world you would agree that we only want people "working for the people" (quote - Curran) who will make that task their main priority.
Mags now must consider her position. The Leader of the Labour Party in the Scottish Parliament would be expected to 'have a chat' with her, but alas, not possible at the moment.
Which raises another point, presuming she doesn't step down, triggering another by-election for Labour to fail in, will she seriously think she has any chance of standing for the leadership? You know she'll be considering it!
If she stands for it, she has no credibility, or thought for her constituents. First, she says to her Scottish Parliamentary constituents, I don't want to focus on you guys, I've found something better (Westminster). Then she says to the same constituents that, I don't want to focus on you guys, I've found something better (Labour Leadership)? Come off it Mags, do the decent thing, resign.
Your career-credibility is in shreds, will get worse if you stand for leadership so quit and give us bloggers another, twice-the-fun by-election to focus on; we don't get much chum these days. Glasgow East deserves more than a 5th choice loser doing their second or third choice job. And don't go blaming Socialist Frances!
As the time ticks by, with many a blogger surely sitting at their computers, waiting to see if they're going to be smug, shocked, embarrassed, right or wrong, I thought I'd collect some interesting data for when the time comes...a mini competition you could say.
This is how just a few bloggers have predicted the majority will swing. Please feel free to add your own.
Political Dissuasion (Me) - Lab 2,433 SNP Tactical Voting - Lab 1,500 (or so) Kezia Dugdale (if it's sunny, which it was) - Lab 3,000 Scottish Tory Boy - Lab 2,000-2,500 Random Thoughts From an Unarmed Accountant - Lab 10% Bill Cameron - Lab 5,000-7,000 Birmingham University Conservative Future - SNP 500-700 Malc in the Burgh - SNP 500ish My mate Beth really sticks her neck out - SCORE DRAW Lab/SNP
Disclaimer: there isn't a prize if you get it right,except for Beth, so don't phone, it's just for fun.
To be honest, in a month's time, I won't care at all who won the Glasgow East by-election, but for now, I'm going to throw my hat into the ring, make a prediction and say some horrible things which make me shudder as I think them.
I'm going to go with, after a few revelations and useless campaign days...
Labour win - 2,433 majority. This is based on absolutely nothing but guesswork, so if I'm a long way off, go easy on me.
And here's the parts that will make me sleepless with intraverted rage...
If you look at it as a two horse race, then Margaret Curran is probably the right choice. She may be the lesser of two evils, and as much as I truly despise Margaret Curran and everything that comes out of that shrill-toned mouth of hers, but scrape away the party politics she spews out, she'll no doubt give more of a toss about Glasgow East residents than John Mason.
As I've said before, Mason is a greasy, sneaky little shite and the SNP said as much when Salmond took over the campaign.
Against my strong Tory instincts, Davena has been a ridiculously poor choice of candidate. Fair enough they were never going to win, so they won't waste their starting pitcher, but she has been invisible and has failed throughout the campaign to generate a single headline, not one. Even the Lib Dems did that!
And on to the Lib Dems, and if you've read my blog, you'll understand why this is the most sickening bit for me... but Ian Robertson has been a truly impressive candidate. As a party, the Lib Dems are the epitomy of wasteful politics, I'm generally disgusted by everything they do...but Ian Robertson has done himself proud, and to compliment a Lib Dem is making me sweat with self-loathing. At 30 though, I'm sure we'll be seeing him in the future.
If voters made their decisions based on the individual and not the party, I'd have considered campaigning for him. He worked hard, knew what he was talking about the whole way through the campaign, was pro-active in his approach and his debates, and in my opinion, was the best candidate.
But as it was a two-monkey race, the reason for calling this blog Political Dissuasion is further strengthened. From the off, it was only ever going to be the SNP or Labour candidate that won, which meant that as soon as they chose shite candidates, there was no hope of a decent representation for Glasgow East.
So well done Mags, you're the bluebottle on top of all the crap, but against John Mason, you rightly earn your crown.
One of these is a useful, helpful and realistically thought out policy (with funds) designed solely to help out an industry that is in greater peril than most at the moment.
One is the House of Lords, a society devoid of any understanding of the fishing industry or anything north of Birmingham, screwing over a predominantly Scottish industry.
With the majority of commercial fishing being in Scotland, I am not surprised how little consideration and assistance fishermen will receive through Westminster. Richard Lochhead, Scottish fisheries minister, has worked tirelessly in consulting and working with the industry to hear what the Government can reasonably do to help. Every week he is, amongst his other ministerial duties, talking to fishermen, industry leaders, campaigning, rallying at Westminster for more help and seeing what assistance can be afforded by the Scottish Government. With more than 75% of the UK fishing industry based in Scotland, you would think Scotland would have a similar representation when MEPs are discussing the topic in Europe, whether it be quotas, discards, Common Fisheries Policy or pushing the Seafish 'Responsible Fishing Scheme', which has itself already made agreements with foreign vessels? Nope, in yet another area, Scotland is under represented and there is near enough nothing we can do about it.
Westminster and the House of Lords in particular have just torpedoed the British fishing industry, another big hole in an already leaky ship. They're not asking for free fuel, just a slight decrease in the duty that Gordon 'the Iron Brew' (cos he's an embarrassment to Scotland) Brown siphens off. Fishermen are not behaving like French farmers with the CAP, they're asking for a signal, a tiny inflatable life raft that will give them a better chance of getting to shore.
The 'we should've let Northern Rock go down on it's own' brigade might ask 'Why should fishing get such special treatment, why not bus companies, taxis?' Because fishing is so much more stretched by fuel prices than almost any other industry in the world. This isn't like British Airways who have had years of gross profits flooding out through the years, this is an industry which as a country, we do not want to see disappear...and it will disappear if no help is offered. It would not be in such a precarious position if it weren't for GB's tax on fuel...and it is the whole industry that is at risk, not just a section of.
But thanks to the House of Lords, and in spite of the, impotent but best efforts of the Scottish Government and Richard Lochhead, the slippery slope just got a whole lot slippier.
The sooner we get more or full powers, the better off we'll all be, in many, many ways.
Alex (he of the space hopper's face) Salmond has announced approval for Europe's biggest windfarm to be built in South Lanarkshire, creating 200 jobs and introducing 152 of these beautiful towers of hippy-hope. The previous biggest windfarm in Europe is already being built, in Glasgow.
I'm not being sarcastic, I love windfarms.
Biofuels? Pah! No more burning trees and crops.
Clean coal (A GB favourite)? That's like saying 'healthy cancer' or 'jolly rape'.
I've always believed we should carpet bomb as much free land as we can afford to do away with, to create this clean, renewable, politically correct (except to the RSPB), big fat money-spinner of moral smugness. Yup, we can become the OPEC of wind. Oil will run out, and with the world being as "live now, plan later" as ever, there is no better time to get ahead of the game, start creating a surplus, bringing on independence, and once the oil runs out, Scotland can sell it by the 'bucket-load' (though you can't put wind in a bucket, so hairdryer-load?).
Well done to the Scottish Ministers. Well done indeed to Scottish and Southern Energy who are creating the wealth/environmentally sensible project............. Well done to wind!
And one final well done (though it's ridiculous that politics has come to this)...well done to Labour and all the other opposition parties for not turning round and criticising for criticism's sake. It's easy on any topic to tooth-comb through and find one tiny negative, pick on that and run with it. Silence in cases such as this are as good as applause from opposition and, for now, there have been no negative jibes from anyone (YET). And if there are no objections from the other parties, why don't they all get together, agree that they all want to follow my carpet-bomb approach, and push on. Consensus on the issue would give me, a voter, an energy user and a future beneficiary, a gloriously, rich feeling.
"Money doesn't grow on trees, it's blowing in the wind" - Bob Dylan Political Dissuasion
This is not a slant on the man, a personal attack, or a shallow attempt to call into question his inegrity as chairman of an independent body, it is a fact. He is a Labour man. So much so, that at one point he stood to be Labour's candidate for London Mayor. So there is the link, not hidden, not tenuous, BIG AND BOLD, right in front of you, Trevor Phillips = Labour.
So how on earth can he be appropriate to head up the Equality and Human Rights Commission (and formerly the Commission for Racial Equality)? How can he make statements such as those he made today on World at One, where he said that he/the organisation wants extra powers to help tackle inequality, when all he has used the statement for is to attack the "wealthy and educated middle class", in a deeply political way?
He claims that the economic slowdown is hitting everyone, but hitting those at the lower end of the financial spectrum harder...which I can't really disagree with, but when he says that "Everyone is happy to take some of the pain as long as that pain is shared fairly..."
Happy to take the pain? Yes, Trev, I'm just giddy at the prospect. Quick, whip me with a bit of wood, I just love the fucking pain!
What a stupid way to put it. But then, it's what follows that really gets to me.
"People can see the economic slowdown coming. Everyone is happy to take some of the pain as long as that pain is shared fairly and what we want to do is to make sure that the burden doesn't fall unfairly on some groups rather than others. (It would) mean taking on the wealthy and educated middle class who are adept at playing the system to the advantage of their families."
"Taking on"? That's fighting talk.
I am not rich, I don't have a big ol' house, a car, I earn less than the average annual wage, I went to state school and don't have a hyphenated, double-barrelled surname. I am not "wealthy" or "middle-class" but these measures are just another attack on the Tories politically, and the successful socially.
Or are you just helping out GB, saying something indirectly targetted at the Tories, but designed to pander to the poor/anyone who feels affected by the credit crunch?
This is another Labour motion towards, "Don't bother doing anything with your life, we'll just get the rich to pay for everything".
Yes, the economic climate right now is going to be a problem, to varying degrees, for everyone. But we aren't a socialist country. You aren't entitled to a comfortable living. You have to get out and sometimes scrap really hard to get by in life. You can't just say, if things get a bit worse we can just tax the rich more, windfall tax Tesco or Shell. GB has taken the Tories "work for your benefits" approach, which is grand but after such inverted snobbery being shat out the mouth of the Labour appointed equalities body, we all know it'll end up being a fudge, with GB wimping out at crunch time, and pandering to Labour's poor-man's chew-toy base.
No, if things are tough, then things are tough. Labour needs to tell it's base/Glasgow East to shut the fuck up, get off your arse, go out and work and stop thinking that you're owed a living and blaming your poverty on those better off.
For every pound the average 'poor man' earns, about 4% of it taken as tax. For every pound the average 'rich man' earns, about 38% of it taken as tax.
Trevor, don't talk to me about equality. Some people more than cover their social burden, whereas some people are their own social burden (while also being mine as well).
Those better off (aka 'educated middle class'), have worked through school, university, jobs, promotions etc to get where they are. They've worked to achieve something, and when you puteffort in, rightly you should expect to reap rewards. Labour's base doesn't get that. These are people who believe that the rich should get taxed 50% of their wages because "it's more than they need".
Jealousy is not a policy. Fact. Rich people are not bad. Fact. Being educated is a good thing. Fact. Trevor Phillips isn't a Labour mouthpiece. False.
Read this last night and couldn't stop laughing. It's probably a well known story that most of you will have heard before, but for those of you who haven't...
From The Blair Years - The Alastair Campbell Diaries
"Madrid NATO summit... ...There was a bizarre scene during the break, in the Gents. Several leaders, including Clinton, TB, (Romano) Prodi (Prime Minister of Italy), Kok and Khol, were all having a pee in a row of stand-up urinals. Clinton turned around and said 'Isn't this the greatest picture that was never taken?' TB told him the story of the time Churchill moved away from Attlee while they were peeing together. Attlee looked hurt. Churchill explained: 'Every time you see something big you want to nationalise it.' "
Ah, even greats such as Churchill couldn't hold back on a good 'big nob' gag.
Oh Gordon Brown. Sending those convicted of committing knife crime to see victims in hospital and to meet families of victims is yet another, stupid, ill-thought-out, wafer-thin reactionary piece of PR desparation from Gordon Brown.
They call it "shock tactics".
Haven't Labour learned that shock tactics don't work? Putting health signs on cigarette packets saying "Smoking causes cancer" or "Fumar obstruye las arterias y provoca cardiopatias y accidentes cerebrovasculares" if you get duty-free fags off your step-gran, didn't have any real impact on smoking figures. Real, physically restricting, truly effective measures such as the smoking ban, which unequivocally altered the smoking habits of almost all smokers, has made a difference.
These knife-crime shock tactics are a fudging waste. How will this make any difference 'on the streets'? It won't. Knife Carrier A is in exactly the same position as before when he steps out the door, where he faces a choice WITHIN HIMSELF, "Should I take my blade?" He's seen pictures on tv, he's seen films which wil make it look much more gruesome than in real-life, so bandaged up and blood-free victims are not going to shock this man.
It kills me to agree with the Lib Dems but here it goes...
Chris Huhne described Ms Smith's plans as "half-baked", and said the government had been in denial about the scale of the knife crime problem...........YUP!
It's like a 4 yr old kid traipsing mud through all the carpeted rooms in the house, then when mum notices, she drags him room to room saying "Look at what you've done!" The kid doesn't understand the concept of cleaning or "nice carpets", he understands the concept of playing football in a mucky field. The kid won't be going to bed, riddled with guilt about how difficult it is to get muck out of cream fabric, cos he's a kid. So gang members won't give a hoot about the causes of what they do because they don't relate to it. You can show them what they've done, but at the end of the day, they're just thinking about their next game of football, not how football leads to messy carpets.
Jacqui Smith says that it was "tougher" than imprisonment to make people "face up to the sorts of implications of young people carrying knives on our streets".
Jacqui, you dizzy fucking cow, these are people who have chosen to plunge a knife into someone else's body, I think they know the implications of 'sharp blade into body - body don't work so good'. When they do that, do you really think they'll give a shit if they see someone recovering from such injuries? Hearing sob stories from victims and families won't affect them, not in the heat of the moment. Tories want to lock them up, no matter what, if they carry a knife...........YUP!
I've also been a long-time fan of the idea of curfews, cos if they aren't out, they ain't going to be stabbing people. A proactive policy which will physically influence the sort of situation activity that knife crime thrives in. Jail, as the Tories say, will also put a limit on their stabbing chances.
But taking them round hospitals? So would you take them on their stabby sightseeing tour before or after they go to prison? Or, with Labour being so weak on crime and puff candy on the causes of crime, would this be their "tougher" alternative. Hmmm, doing three to five years in a cell, or a day out to the hospital to see people I don't care about (cos it's me and people like me that put them there)? Er, I think I'll take the day trip please!
What a fucking non-existent solution to a very real problem. Welcome to New Britain, brought to you by New Labour.
Only when seven people are stabbed in three days do we get any sort of reaction from them, and it's an absolute fudge.
How high the numbers to start saving lives, Gordon?