Thursday, 30 October 2008

Turning the tables, Cable style

Just a wee thought.

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.)

Sunday, 26 October 2008

The British people have just been mugged

In an extension of my last post, fearing we are all about to fund political parties through taxes, my instincts have been proven correct.

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.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

State Funding of Political Parties

How do political parties get their money?

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.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Harriet Harman lied to the house!!!

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...


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.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Independence - a blogospheric discussion

If you haven't read Doctorvee's challenge of discussion concerning the constitutional future of Scotland/UK, then I urge everyone to do so. There are two posts on his page on this in a running series.

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.

Over to you Doctorvee...

Monday, 13 October 2008

Explain the economy - I'm stupid

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.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

The Poison of the SNP

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.

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Man Flu...Man crash-landed

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.

Friday, 3 October 2008

SNP throw their toys out the tram

I can here SNP Tactical Voting "Yip"ing at this one. And Georgio Foulkes getting ready to rant again.

An SNP councillor is calling for the resignation of the boss of Edinburgh's tram project.

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.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Scottish Labour - Another councillor...another scandal

It looks like after the SNP's gun-totin', Councillor Hanif, Labour's councillors are now at it.

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!"

The new Met commissioner...

Well, isn't this a strange event?

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.