Friday, July 31, 2009

The hospital calls....

There will be little too no blogging for the next few days as I am going into hospital for a small operation (private before you ask). Nothing major so there will be no need to call me Loretta when I get out or anything like that. Croydonian will be minding the comments whilst I am away.

Should not be for too long as I say. I'm taking my little laptop in with me so may be online tonight, albeit high on anaesthetic. Will most likely just be reading the news rather than posting about it though. If you're lucky I might post on Saturday morning but don't hold your breath.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Thought for the Day - Animal Cruelty

Why is it, that when the subject of fox hunting comes up, as it has done here it is framed around the idea of a "society that disagrees with cruelty to animals", yet you rarely hear any of the same people vigorously call for the banning of Halal and/or Shechita which have been equally condemned for their cruelty?

There is a cliche that the fox-hunting issue is really about class, or more correctly the perception of class about the people that do it. However, it's always argued that it's about cruelty. As such I get increasingly confused at the silence about slitting an animal's throat and letting it bleed to death slowly over a period of about two minutes.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not calling for Halal or Shechita to be banned, far from it. Rather I'm wondering upon why the Labour Party, if it cares about animal cruelty so much, why it has never had the balls to stand by its alleged convictions and outlaw the practice and import of such products?

I've no doubt that some might make the argument that the practices are not in fact cruel. There are arguments along those lines. However if you go down that route you have the problem that there are similar arguments about hunting pack dogs doing what nature has dictated hunting pack dogs will do. At which point what you're really doing is criminalising nature - which is of course utterly absurd.

I mean, I know the Labour Party would never ban halal or shechita. Things like religious tolerance and cultural relativism would get in the way for them*. The thing is, doesn't that just kind of make their allegedly moral positioning on animal cruelty stand on rather weak foundations?

Is it just me or do they stand there proudly saying: "We believe in a society that disagrees with cruelty to animals, unless the people carrying it out are a particular ethnic group in which case we get all confused about stepping on our other principles of non-discrimination."

It's all so very confusing!

* Note: I would not ban either practices, nor would I ban people following hunting pack dogs doing what nature intended them to do. This probably makes me a bastard, but hey, what can you do?

Does Blair want a Labour fourth term?

Have just received a "personal" message from John Prescott about Go Fourth. It's basically a begging letter saying that he doesn't know any billionaires like Michael Ashcroft to help him out. Interestingly he has said that "Tony Blair has donated £6,000 to Go Fourth".

Only six grand? Doesn't sound like he very serious in his support for the campaign now does it. He might not be a billionaire, but he's well minted. You;d think if he was serious he might be giving just a little more.

CCHQ press office silliness

Alastair Campbell's dictum was that the spin doctor should not become the story and if they do, they go. I'm wondering what that means for the Tory press office as they have, collectively it seems, become the story - at least a little one anyway.

Both Tory Bear and Iain Dale picked up on this last night. I was sent it too but left it until this morning because I don't blog in the evening's unless I'm doing a night shift. The story is basically one where the blogger Tory Politico tried to get a copy of the letter the Tories press released last night from Cameron to Brown on the issue of TV debates.

Tory Politico was told by a grunt in CCHQ that he couldn't have it because he didn't matter, and was further told that he couldn't be added to any press release distribution lists. When I read I thought "no surprise there".

I tried to get myself added to the distribution lists more than once but failed dismally. In fact, it was only after the Newsnight thing that I suddenly, and miraculously started receiving press releases and operational notes from CCHQ (that may stop now though, who knows).

The thing is, there is a wider issue here and whoever said this is missing a trick. If, as the conversation Tory Politico has posted shows, they really want to have an efficient means of putting their message out then sending the releases to sympathetic bloggers wouldn't be that worthless.

After all, the more blogs that push their lines - either verbatim or with a disclaimer that it came from a release - the more chance they have of those lines being disseminated widely and/or being picked up in search results. It's not rocket science.

Personally speaking I think they should perhaps set up a blogger distribution list, or even make releases available in a secured online area. Am currently waiting for a call back from the Press office to get a comment on what the policy of dealing with bloggers actually is.

Update: Have just spoken to senior press guy at Tory CCHQ about this. He's said that the matter is "under review". The reason he gave for not adding bloggers to the general distribution lists that go out to the Lobby is because in the past bloggers on the list have not played by the rules and have broken embargos, especially on operational notes which announce events that have restricted access or numbers.

The Great Repeal Bill

Douglas Carswell MP has been busy it seems and has been setting up a "wikipolitics" attempt at a Great Repeal Bill over on Wikispaces. The basic concept, similar to what David Miliband attempted at DEFRA, is to use the wisdom of crowds to draw up a single Bill that repeal some of the more nonsense legislation we've introduced in the UK.

Unlike the attmept by Miliband however, this is not a Government or official party initiative, and the possibility that it might be overrun by fruitcakes ranting is acknowledged from the outset. Should you have anything you want to add to it then click here for the moderated version, or here for the totally open version.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Who's the Twat in the Hat?

Interesting and amusing stuff over at Comment Central in the wake of TwatGate. A chosen list of 10 MP twatterers twitterers and their "latest" updates as found on Tweetminster.

From seal clubbing to cockroaches in Tom Watson's flat, and really boring stuff from Harriet Harman and Ed Balls about what exciting lives they lead, who is the biggest twat?

You Decide!

The slippery slope!

Look, I know I'm a cynical bastard OK, I can't help, but when I read this morning about a crackdown on sunbeds I did my usual rolling of eyes mainly because I think if people want to take the risk of cancer by smoking or tanning then so be it.

However, whilst driving and listening to Today I heard some woman on there talking about the report and saying how the UV from sunbeds was as strong as the sun in the Mediterranean, something also noted in the Guardian article which said that a tanning machine in "two minutes gave the user the same UV exposure as a fortnight's holiday in the Mediterranean."

So, as the cynic in me raced to the surface, I'm wondering whether there will be calls soon for either (a) the regulation of holidays to the Mediterranean (added bonus of helping the British holiday market), or (b) calls to regulate or even ban the big cancer causing ball of fire in the sky?

Cameron on queyntes?

I was rather amused by the absolute quote of the day from David Cameron which Iain Dale has blogged about. In response to a question of why Cameron did not use Twitter he said,

It's too instantaneous... Too many twits might make a twat".
Iain has gone to note how the vulgarity of the word 'twat' isn't really there anymore. Not sure I agree with that, in my experience if you pop up North it is very much still vulgar - my mother used to slap me for saying it and she was from Cumberland.

Anyhow, on the subject of such vulgar words, I was reminded of this rather amusing line from Chaucer's The Wife of Bath,

"Is it for ye wolde have my queynte allone?"
The way I see it, if Chaucer can use the word "cunt", albeit it in Middle English, then it can't be all that bad, can it?

Have you seen a big cat?

One of the silly season stories doing the rounds this morning is the video of an alleged "big cat" in Scotland, filmed by a military policeman. So I;m wondering, has anyone else seen one these?

I ask because I have, twice. Both times have been in Buckinghamshire, although in completely different parts. The first time was about 15 years ago just before the turning for the road Chequers is on.

It was at night and as I drove down a hill I was confronted with this almighty great black cat standing in the road staying at me, eyes shining as you'd expect. It was about four feet long and at least two foot high. It just stood there for about five seconds and then wandered off into the woods.

I then turned around and drove to the local Police Station to report it and was met with a shrug and told I was the fourth person to report seeing it that night. The second time I saw was on the other side of Buckinghamshire near the Bedfordshire border just last year in very similar circumstances.

To be honest, the tales of big cats roaming around the Chilterns was something I had heard about since I was a kid. Along with the argument hat they were there because private collectors had freed them when licensing laws changed.

So, has anyone else seen one or do you all just think I'm saw something else?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Double Fail Whales

God Bless our MSM cousins across the pond!

via Fail Blog

LabourList supports 'breaking and entering'?

Am slightly confused today by this nonsense on LabourList. From what I can tell the story goes like this.

  1. Vesta, Danish wind turbine company, based in the Isle of Wight, closes its factory down making its staff redundant. It does this because sales in Northern Europe are crap and it wants to go to America instead.
  2. Vesta request the police protect their closed down property from the formerly employed workers.
  3. Three members of the former staff breach the police cordon and stage a sit-in in the private property along with setting an accompanying blog.
  4. LabourList asks people to support the general political principles behind the breaking and entering of private property by former staff, on the grounds that Vesta are a 'corporate disgrace', and the Government could show environmental leadership.
Question 1. When was trespass and 'breaking and entering' made a non-arrestable offence? Question 2. If the answer to question 1 is that it hasn't, then why have the police not arrested them yet?

Telegraph generates dodgy expenses story

Interesting front page splash in the Telegraph this morning. According to the article,

The Daily Telegraph can disclose that MPs have devised a new scheme allowing them to claim a £25-a-night “subsistence” allowance when staying away from their designated main home.

The allowance, which is almost double the previous £4,800-a-year limit for unreceipted claims, is paid on top of expenses for mortgage interest, rent, council tax and utility bills.

It has been approved without any public announcement or debate in Parliament as MPs leave for their summer holidays. Instead it has been agreed by a small committee of MPs chaired by John Bercow, the new Speaker, and including Harriet Harman, the Labour Leader of the House and Alan Duncan, the Tory frontbencher.
Outrageous isn't it? The dirty thieving bastards etcetra.

I have just one question for the Telegraph though. Why have you only just noticed this in the revised July 2009 Green Book when it was actually in the March 2009 Green Book, a title published before the expenses scandal that you had the scoop on?

Don't get me wrong, in light of everything that has gone on the unreceipted allowance is not exactly the best thing in the world to help foster trust once more.

However, publishing a story that says it was introduced after the scandal (the Telegraph scoop series started in May) when it patently wasn't (March is two months before May) does kind of feed into the idea that you're trying to milk the story just an ickle bit, doesn't it?

Is it August summer by any chance?
Green Book sources

Update: Have just been reading more on this "scandal" by Rosa Prince in the Telegraph who says,

Details of the new arrangements, including a £25 subsistence allowance payable without a receipt, were almost certainly concluded during private talks that were not minuted, held at the height of the expenses scandal in May.

The meeting, at which the overnight subsidy was agreed, seems to have taken place at 9am in the Speaker’s private rooms in the Palace of Westminster, two days after Mr Martin announced his resignation.....

According to the parliamentary website, the committee did not meet under the new Speaker until July 15, two days after the new Green Book was issued to MPs.

At some point between May 20 and July 13, when the new rules were published discreetly on the parliamentary website, the subsistence measure was authorised.
Wow!, "almost certainly concluded", what a wonderful hedge that is! As for "new arrangements", complete tosh! Have any of them actually looked at the Green Book publications on the Parliamentary website?

The measure they are claiming was a secret was published and in place in March 2009 as point 2.1.3.6, in July it was republished as point 2.1.3.2. The wording is identical, it didn't change at all. Nothing new here whatsoever.

Put aside for a second whether you agree with the allowance or not, this is not something that has been sneaked out. The story is more about selling papers during the slow summer months month of August than genuine scandal in the heart of Parliament.

Note: Oops, did a bit of time travelling by a week there! Clearly the heatwave is mangling my temporal flux capacitors. Clearly it's not quite August yet.

UPDATE II: Even better, as pointed out in the comments below, the House of Commons announced this allowance in January in a press elease here. "New arrangements" my arse.

UPDATE III: Just to make clear to anyone else intending to comment saying the point I'm making is not valid or relevant. There are some pretty clear facts on this "story". First, the MPs gave themselves this allowance in March. Second, the allowance has not changed in July. Third, this makes the Telegraph headline and sub-line about them secretly giving themselves more money in July... 100% bullshit.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Pass the brain bleach

When I saw this list of purchases I realised that the Internet had truly warped my fragile little mind. I blame the Stile Project.

Time to bleach my mind.
#sillyweek

This mad world of drugs and suicide

There is a rather interesting debate going on over at Conservative Home about suicide and assisted suicide. As I would expect the word "God" appears in the commentary, along with saying that suicide is wicked.

The article itself makes no demarcation of the shades of grey in the debate sadly, so the terminally ill, perhaps someone that has been fighting cancer for seven years and is riddled throughout their bones, in sheer agony, drinking liquid morphine, is, at least in the view of the author, committing a wholly wicked act if they decided enough was enough.

There is also the usual and fallacious "slippery slope" type argument where one takes the subject matter and then extrapolates a linear path for leading to the "where will it all end, euthanasia on demand because you feel a bit rough?!!?!?!". The article is, to say the least, largely bollocks.

However, it's in the comments where the really interesting part is. A discussion fired off which went on a slight tangent, and the subject of individual freedom in respect of taking drugs appeared. This led to a Tory councillor from Basildon, Steve Horgan saying the following,

The freedom to take drugs is the freedom for the vulnerable to be lied to by drug dealers pushing their wares and followed by the freedom to become hopelessly addicted to crack cocaine followed by the freedom to sell their bodies for cash to support their addiction.
See that "slippery slope" logic rear its head again? What's more, see how taking drugs leads to you being a crackhead and eventually a whore? Errr hello? Is there anybody in there?* There are hundreds of thousands of us out here that have taken drugs that have not taken that route. We are in the majority Mr Horgan, we are the massive exceptions that disprove your rule. You are, for want of a better phrase, 'chatting more shit' than someone who's pilling their nut off in a rave.

The thing is there is a more important failure in his argument than that. If there really was the freedom to take drugs - and by that I mean the freedom from arrest and criminalisation - then you wouldn't be being lied to by a drug dealers anyway because the illegal market where the criminals control it would collapse. That's why the decriminalisation argument is so powerful and the slippery slope stuff is complete nonsense.

There is a deeper irony here though when we link Councillor Horgan's argument to the wider one of suicide. For Councillor Horgan, drugs lead to the terrible world of addiction, ergo despair, and that a jolly well horrible place to let people be don't you know. However, it appears it is perfectly alright for someone to be terminally ill and addicted to prescribed morphine, and what's more they can;t have the freedom to end it all if they wish.

Isn't it rather quaint to see someone arguing that drugs are bad and lead to prostitution and painful addicting. Yet at the same time appearing to argue that it's perfectly alright to effectively prescribe heroin (for that is what diamorphine is), create an addict on the taxpayer, and then make them live out their days live out their days in excruciating pain?

It's a funny old world isn't it?
* To those who got it, that was a funny reference huh?

Statement of the Bleeding Obvious

You know it's silly season when the Maily Telegraph has a story with the headline,

Inventor of Tamiflu profits from swine flu pandemic
Who'd a thunk it?

The New Statesman's Political Editor Speaks

Like Martin Bright at the Spectator I'm a little lost for words at the following video posted on Harry's Place of the New Statesman's Senior Editor (Politics), Mehdi Hasan. We are "cattle" it seems.


“The kaffar, the disbelievers, the atheists who remain deaf and stubborn to the teachings of Islam, the rational message of the Quran; they are described in the Quran as, quote, “a people of no intelligence”, Allah describes them as; not of no morality, not as people of no belief - people of “no intelligence” - because they’re incapable of the intellectual effort it requires to shake off those blind prejudices, to shake off those easy assumptions about this world, about the existence of God. In this respect, the Quran describes the atheists as “cattle”, as cattle of those who grow the crops and do not stop and wonder about this world.”
Nice. Apparently this is only "Part I" of an expose at Harry's PLace too.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Norwich North: Fastest Defection in History?

You have to love a good BBC cock-up. What does that say under her photo?

Update: They've removed the pic and fixed it now. Made me chuckle :)

Salvia for sale on Amazon

No surprise really but it appears you can purchase Salvia - the fiercely hallucinogenic,rip you out of reality as the ground turns into a hole and spacemen appear to talk to you, plant - on Amazon (via the Marketplace natch). Interestingly its in the kitchen and home section.

I've posted about Salvia a few times before. It's not a controlled substance at the moment but there are some who fear it is becoming too popular and being used recreationally.

Personally speaking I think anyone who thinks you can recreationally use salvia is tripping as much as someone that shoves it in a bong and takes a hit.

No doubt it's presence on Amazon will make some people panic even more about the possibility of teenagers laying on their bedroom floor for 15 minutes whilst doing a spot of astral travelling.
Via Rob Manuel

Oh yes you did!

Gvernment as panto, don't you just love it? Lord Malloch-Brown on Wednesday tels the BBC,

"I actually didn't tell The Daily Telegraph that there weren't enough helicopters in Afghanistan"
Then on Friday the Telegraph produces the audio which shows that he did.
Look forward to seeing Downing Street spin their way out of his one given Brown says Malloch-Brown was misrepresented.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE!!!111

From the BBC,

Flu infects 100,000 in past week

The number of new swine flu infections in England has doubled in the past week, the government says.

There were an estimated 100,000 new cases with the under 14s the worst hit.

It comes as the National Flu Service was launched, offering sufferers access to drugs on the phone and via the internet without the need to see a GP.

Calls have already started flooding in and in the first few hours the website was receiving 2,600 hits a second - or 9.3m an hour.
Alternatively, lots of people have read what the symptoms are and are ringing the helpline and saying they have them in order to grab some of the anti-virals "just in case".

Lesson Learned: You should have stocks in Tamiflu!

See swine flu tag for further details.

We're Doomed!

That this House notes the collision of a large object with the planet Jupiter, causing an impact scar in the Jovian atmosphere the size of the earth; believes it is a matter of scientific fact that earth will, sooner or later, be hit by a large near earth object capable of destroying a significant proportion of life on earth; further notes such an impact would be more damaging to the British economy than the failure of a bank, but that the Government has spent more on preventing the bankruptcy of Royal Bank of Scotland than the entire cost of tracking and diverting any near earth object capable of incinerating the United Kingdom; and calls on the Government to implement all 14 recommendations of the Near Earth Object Task Group which published its report and recommendations in 2000.

Source

Three month consultancy bill for the DWP?

This one made me angry and chuckle at the same time,

Geraldine Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how much her Department spent on consultants in 2009.

Jim Knight: The Department has spent £9.7 million on management consultants in the three months from January to March 2009, the latest period for which validated figures are available. This represents a 49 per cent. reduction on the equivalent period in 2008.
Have to love the way he makes £9.7 million of spending over three months sound like value for money with the "look, we know we're pissing it up the wall but we're not pissing half as high anymore!"

Child Poverty Bill = Maths Fail

The Child Poverty Bill is coming to Parliament, considered to have laudable aims by one former minister. The only problem with it is that it's a total nonsense.

Apparently, it will make it a duty of Government to eradicate child poverty and effcetively "outlaw child poverty by 2020" Here's the problem, their target is "relative poverty". Relative poverty is defined as anyone on less than 60% of national median equivalised household income.

Now, can someone tell me how you can outlaw a moving target of a median? You can't. There will always be 50% above the median, and 50% below it, because that's what median means.

The fact is that this Bill is a complete con by Gordon Brown. It is designed purely to triangulate the Tories, after all if they oppose they will be accused of not caring about poverty, and if they support it, it will be used to hit them for failing in say five years time if they win the next election.

It's bollocks because it's mathematcally impossible to achieve the desired aims of the bill. You can't eradicate relative poverty because by definition it's relative. The Bill is pure politics and has sod all to do with poverty, child or otherwise.

Update: /me fail

Ed Balls: The murderer of personal responsibility

Never, in my entire life have I seen a more stupid, idiotic, contradictory and incoherent load of nonsense than when I saw the details of Ed Balls' latest master plan that will involve the criminalisation of parents for naughty six years old; the introduction of stalinist snitching on your neighbours; the death of personal responsibility, and the total undermining of school authority by interfering ministers.

In someway it's difficult to know exactly where to begin with the criticisms of the latest plan that has been plastered across the front page, and one which Ed Balls proudly boasted was "tough intervention" yesterday. Let's start off with the criminalisation of parents for the behaviour of their children when they are at school.

The letters WTF come to mind. Schools are meant to be both places of learning and discipline. If little Johnny is a little shit, then it is little Johnny that is punished by the schools. What lesson about personal responsibility is taking place if pupils know that it is not them that will suffer from their own actions but their parents?

In effect, Ed Balls is not only punishing the parents for actions beyond their control, but he's also sending a message to pupils that says "don't worry, if your a shit at school and cause trouble those actions are not your fault, they're your parents". What sort of person is that child likely to grow into if the system inherently blames others for their actions?

What's more, what of the school's own authority in this? If legislation from high now decides what happens in schools in terms of discipline, then who is going to have respect for the authority of a head teacher? In fact, what's the point of head teachers if a politician like Ed Balls (public school alumnus) is going to micromanage them in such a way?

The incoherence in this strategy too is incredible. When the Tories propose marriage tax breaks the cry from Labour is "the Government has no place condoning lifestyle choices". yet here we have the Government condoning what it considers to be the "right" parenting and the "wrong" parenting. It's rank hypocrisy.

What I find most bizarre is the reason this policy even needs to exist. The Tories have often talked about a "broken society", an idea derided by Labour. Yet here we have a policy that is apparently addressing a problem that exists, which, to my knowledge hasn't existed before. That would suggest that something is broken wouldn't it?

The thing is it's all too obvious where the root of such problems lie. I mean, for Christ's sake, schools today have to get parents to sign papers saying that it's ok to take photographs of their children. Teachers are hampered to the point that they daren't put a hand on a child's shoulder to move them along lest be accused of assault at best and kiddie fiddling at worst - especially true if they're male.

That latter point is important too, there has been a constant and consistent fall in male teachers in primary education. This is driven by the classic "paedophile panic" - the "men that want to spend time with small children must be odd" mentality. The result and unintended consequence is feminisation in primary schools, which means a loss of the traditionally male disciplinarian as the ying to the yang of the female touch.

Unintended consequences are rife when you try to figure out why there might be a problem in schools in the first place. The massive growth in worklessness through a client state beneift system; the means test benefits system that slaps marginal tax rates in excess of 70% on the poorest thus stifling aspiration and social mobility. These things ensure that those in the worst estates stay there even if they don't want too.

Staying in the estates leads to the very anti-social behaviour that the Government says it wants to tackle. Their own policies have created a vicious circle. Chuck in the already mentioned "paedophile panic", along with Human Rights legislation which, whilst good intentioned, leads many teachers to fear intervening too discipline, is it any wonder that there is a problem?

Then - and this is what the Government does best - it doesn't pause for thought and analyse what the consequence of its own policies. No. It rushs out more policies to tackle the problem. They're like amateur DIY enthusiasts who gain the nickname "Bodge it and Fuck it". They find a problem, try to fix it and creating another problem elsewhere as a result.

The scariest thing is that it's so clear where this latest policy will lead. Were it to be implemented, and were it to stay in place loing enough, we would, in 20 years times have a young adult population that had been brought up on the notion that their actions are someone else's fault and not theirs. It won't stop little shits in schools, rather it will just tell them not to worry because their parents will take the flak.

Welcome to the future, I think I might just do myself in now and avoid the tears.

Update: It appears that this post has upset the Labour councillor Bob Piper. In response he has taken a picture of me and written the word "DICKHEAD" on it. When I saw it I cried and cried and cried, and then rubbed the scrotum on my forehead.

Note: Apologies for the rant

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

More moon silliness?

This has to be a wind up/viral that is taking advatage of the anniversary of the moon landing. However, if it isn't it had to happen eventually right? I do love the notion of taking the "writing your name in the snow with your wee" concept to a new level though.


More on this bizarre, and I suspect nonsense idea, at moonpublicity.com.

What image problem?

This little story in the Times made me chuckle this morning, apparently,

Lurid new revelations about Silvio Berlusconi’s alleged antics with a call girl led the Italian Opposition to press yesterday for the first parliamentary debate on the damage being done to the country’s image by its errant Prime Minister.
Errr 'hot latin sex' and 'gorgeous women' are detrimental to Italy's image?

That is Italy's image isn't it? Berlusconi, what a guy!

Government admits spending figures 'wrong for the past four years'

Yesterday in Parliament, as is usual on the last day, a ton of Ministerial statements is pumped out. My favourite is one from the Department of Health that issued a correction to written answers provided to the following MPs on the given dates in the matter of the cost of advertising spending in the NHS.

  • Ann Coffey on 23 June 2009;
  • Mr. Stephen O’Brien on 21 April 2009
  • Mr. Don Foster on 5 November 2008
  • Sir Nicholas Winterton on 4 November 2008
  • Mr. Mike Penning in 22 October 2008
  • Sir Peter Soulsby on 15 July 2008
  • Mr. Mark Hoban on 3 April 2008
  • Mr. David Simpson on 25 February 2008
  • Mr. Norman Lamb on 5 February 2008
  • Sandra Gidley on 25 January 2008
  • Mr. Mark Simmonds on 3 December 2007
  • Sandra Gidley on 19 July 2007
  • Mrs. Theresa May on 25 June 2007
  • Mr. Lansley on 4 June 2007
  • Mr. Mike Penning on 17 April 2007
  • Mr. Lansley on 15 January 2007
  • Mr. Swire on 6 December 2006
  • Mr. Lansley on 8 November 2006
  • Mr. Hayes on 19 July 2006
  • Justine Greening on 5 June 2006
  • Mr. David T.C. Davies on 28 March 2006
  • Mr. Weir on 28 March 2006
  • Anne Milton on 20 March 2006
  • Mr. Andrew Turner on 7 July 2005
  • Mr. Burstow on 7 July 2005
So baically for the last four years they've been consistently giving out the wrong figures. It will come as no surprise that a quick comparison shows that the figures originally given are more often than not less than the new corrected figures (below).

Click Image for Larger Version

Bad news buried, bad news dug up. Can we believe a word Brown ever says on spending when they admit things like this?

Conflict of Interest anyone?

Last night, across the wire on PA there was a report that said the following,

Department of Energy and Climate Change employees have received corporate hospitality from energy provider E.ON on several occasions over the last two years, it was disclosed tonight.

Junior minister David Kidney said this included dinner and a private viewing at the Royal Academy in January last year.

In the same month, another unnamed Department employee was treated to a "light buffet supper" by the company, which also offered lunch to officials on two occasions in 2007.

In a Commons written reply to Liberal Democrat David Howarth (Cambridge), Mr Kidney did not say how many employees overall had received corporate hospitality from E.ON but insisted it followed civil service guidance that it should be "conventional, normal and reasonable".

Only last month seven DECC staff visited the company's Rushcliffe on Soar power station and research centre, being given lunch and a "small gift bag".
Funny how there is no mention of Ed miliband, the Secretary of State at the department and the fact he's in a relationship with a senior employee of E.ON huh?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I wish I was a spaceman!

Kids TV huh? Not what it used to be is it? I'm just wondering what you all consider the absolute epitomy of televisual perfection from your childhood? More importantly, which was had that theme tune that just made you stop dead in your tracks and stare at the screen?

Could it be Thundercats? Might it be G_Force and Battle of the Panets. How about the Mysterious Cities of Gold?

For me, and this is a bit of a cheat really because it was on TV before I was born, but there was an old 78 record in the house of it that I used to play, Fireball XL5 did it for me, because, as the picture above suggests, I always wanted to be a spaceman.


So.... what about you?

UPDATE: The old man has been emailing me. Apparently he still has that cherished record in the loft.

New Labour Logo?

A slight change from the original.

Hat Tip: Crown Blog

Summer homework for MPs

Hattie Garlick, over at Comment Central has asked an interesting question. What homework should MPs have during their long 12 week break from work. Frankly I'm thinking some of them should enroll on short accountancy and bookkeeping courses.

Jack Straw after all said in relation to his own expenses, "accountancy does not appear to be my strongest suit" so perhaps he should get learning. Obviously he shouldn't claim for the cost of the course.

Any other suggestions to submit to Comment Central?

Universal healthcare breeds terrorism? WTF?

There are many arguments for and against Universal Healthcare coverage. Likewise, there are many very good argument for reform of the NHS to take it more along a genuine insurance based universal systems like they have in other European countries such as France and Germany.

However, this has to be the most ludicrous argument I have ever heard against universal healthcare in its entirety. It is a classic post hoc ergo propter hoc argument and its universally dumb, it goes like this.

The NHS is state run. State run systems pay lower wages and thus recruit from abroad. Terrorists come to work from abroad in the NHS and then do batshit crazy things. Therefore universal healthcare breeds terrorism, ergo, the US cannot have universal healthcare or jihadists will go crazy.


Don't get me wrong here, I think the UK has a lot to learn from insurance based systems around the world. It is inefficiently run precisely because it is a single monopoly producer interest marketplace. It should be freed up. However, arguing that healthcare should be free from the state because it breeds terrorism is.... well.... it's stupid.

Taking RickRolling to the next level

Epic mashup!

The cost of special advisors to the taxpayer

If you've been wodnering what the salary costs of special advisors were for the last year, Gordon Brown has finally released figures for how many people are in what pay band here.

I've just done the sums and across the Government in the last year, special advisors cost the taxpayer somewhere between £3,926,140 and £5,655,122 in salary cost.

What a bargain!

Monday, July 20, 2009

I bet the media have already bought popcorn!

Over the weekend there was quite a bit of coverage about Alan Milburn's forthcoming report on social mobility, which was commissioned by Gordon Brown. According to the press the report will slate the Labour Government's "decade of failure".

I was thus amused to discover that the Government's press machine has been sending out a "not for publication" reminder for the press conference.

As if the press are going to forget a press conference where Alan Milburn will follow his kindred Newcastle United fans in a rendition of "we're shit and we know we are!"

Hope Alan wear's the new away kit.

Spin mode ON

Just a few moments ago on the Downing Street Twitter feed.


Last week's press rlease from Ed Miliband's department.


Update @ 12:00: Oh the influence and power of Twitter! ;-)

Mugged by Reality

A conversation I had just had on teh Interweb with a leftie friend of mine:

Labour Bloke: I swear I'm turning into a middle england floating voter
Dizzy: Why?
LB: Planning my life and i realised all i want
LB: Is to be in a nice area, away from a city so theres no annoying youths or chavs
LB: And everyone near me speaks english
Dizzy: And pay less tax?
LB: Yeah pay less tax on my small business
LB: And watch TV and occasionally "care" about things
Dizzy: Welcome to getting older
Dizzy: Killer init?
Mugged by reality as they say.

Stupid Lib Dem Idea of the Day

From the bloody Early Day Motion database, Tim Farron, MP for Westmorland & Lonsdale (fifth highest expenses of all MPs), is upset that IT contracts get outsourced, and he;s called on the Government

to introduce an IT apprenticeship scheme whereby graduates are supplied on a one year contract to Government projects to provide them with greater employment experience so that they can then be placed in the industry
Great! So Government IT already costs a fortune and is littered with failure, and this muppet wants to spend more money by letting a bunch of trainees loose on it?

Mind you, could they do worse?

Breastfeeding in the news again

Having posted more than once about breastfeeding (here and here) and making the point that the "breast is best" argument is just a little bit of "received wisdom" more than anything else, I was amused to read this in today's Times.

NHS claims about benefits of breastfeeding are false and oversold, as there is little evidence that mother’s milk protects babies against illness or allergies, says a leading experts[sic].

Michael Kramer, a professor of paediatrics who has advised the World Health Organisation and Unicef, said that much of the evidence used to persuade mothers to breastfeed was either wrong or out of date.
I should stress here that I;m not saying that bottle-feeding is better, just that it's good to see some sanity at last that points out that the breastfeeding lobby are just as unscientific in their claims as the bottlefeeding industry.

Labour threatens to kill fluffy animal unless you vote for them?

Evil bastards!
Genuine leaflet apparently. Got to love the emotional hook of fluffy vermin though.
Hat Tip: Iain Dale

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Government pays agency to astroturf positivity on the Olympics?

Whatever your view of the 2012 London Olympics, would it be right for the delivery team for the event to be paying a PR company to jump around the Internet leaving astroturfing comments about the Olympics being wonderful, and the preparations being perfect? I ask, because that, at least on face value seems to be what is happening.

Phil Taylor, a councillor in Ealing, recently found a comment had been left on an old post he did about the cost of the Olympic logo - that's the logo that looks like Lisa Simpson performing fellatio. The comment said,

Come on! It is not so bad! I am proud and excited about the Olympics coming to London. I found a good post about London Olympics. It looks like we are preparing well for this event! Can’t wait!
The IP address of the commenter traced back to a PR company called TradeDoubler or specialise in "performance-based digital marketing". TradeDoubler also happen to have purchased the company that looks after "VisitBritain", and agency of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, which funnily enough is where the link in the comment went too.

Has anyone else found that posts badmouthing the Olympics have been astroturfed in this way?
Hat Tip: Phil Taylor

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Lobbying for votes for someone else....

Total Politics magazine, to which I have contributed a few times, is running its best political blogs poll again this year. In recent years I have not posted about the poll because I've not really been interested in doing the whole lobbying for votes thing.

This year is "technically" the same. Who you vote for in your top ten is up to you, whether you vote for me is up to you and it's no skin off my nose if you don't.

However, I also know that this poll annoys certain other political bloggers because it's considered horribly biased towards right wing blogs. These are the same bloggers who say that Total Politics isn't politically neutral because it is funded by Lord Ashcroft. Clearly they've never read it.

So, as I say I am posting about the poll this year not to whore votes for myself but to annoy Tim Ireland who has a bee in his bonnet because people voted for him last year but he didn't want to be included in the poll.

Of you go and vote here. Remember to vote for Bloggerheads just to annoy him!

Update: It may have taken over 48 hours, but just like with fishing, you have to be patient for the bite. Too easy.

Early Day Motion on Early Day Motions

On the morning of July 7th, I posed in support of Jonathan Shepard's campaign to scrap Early Day Motions (or at best reform the complete waste of money that is currently spent on them). Amusingly, later on that night James Graham posted a defence of EDMs and said,

we should be wary of this peevish campaign and question why they are hiding behind the veil of anonymity. Come out come out, wherever you are!
Strange that someone would think it was anonymous when not only I posted about it being started by Jonathan Shepard, but was highlighted on a number of blogs saying so, however, I digress.

The campaign has had a victory, Tom Levett MP has tabled a motion stating,

That this House believes that the routine publication of Early Day Motions by the House should henceforward be in electronic form only.
This would save masses of unnecessary printing costs that currently makes EDMs, when you take into account the really silly ones, worthless. Crucially it has cost less than £20 to have a campaign online to bring this about compared to the cost of EDMs. I wonder though that the point may sadly be proven that EDMs don't really change anything that often.

Friday, July 17, 2009

A different approach in support of marriage tax breaks

Every time the suggestion of married tax allowances comes up in this country you can guarantee that the same arguments will be deployed both in its favour and against it. On the one hand, those that support it say that the institution of marriage is a good thing and should be encouraged and the best, and arguably only means a Government can acknowledge that is through the tax system.

On the other hand, the argument goes that it is naive to think that anyone would consider marriage, or a civil partnership, simply because they will get an extra £20 a month tax break. People get married for love, not for a tax break say the critics. Likewise they also point out that by having such a policy you are, indirectly, sending a message that you do not approve of co-habitation or single parenthood, and so are punishing them socially in some way.

What I never really understand is why there can't be a slightly different argument deployed. An argument that says marriage or civil partnership should be acknowledged by the tax system because it is right to acknowledge what those people choosing that path risk, and more importantly, lose.

When two people get married or enter a civil partnership, their relationship with the state changes fundamentally. They go from being two separate individuals financially to being viewed as a single unit. That carries quite a few risks that may or may not arise if they ever decide to split and divorce.

For example, it is not just assets that become joined, but debts can be joined too. True, debts incurred prior to marriage are not something that become jointly liable, but debts during marriage, even if not directly in both names, can be. That's a risk that cohabiting couples do not face. What's more, if a couple do go down a divorce route one side may get much less out than they put in at the beginning.

It seems to me that we should be dropping the moral arguments, be they the ones in favour of such breaks or those against, and instead be saying that those in legal unions should get a tax break to acknowledge the fact that they have lost elements of financial independence that those who are not in a legal union still have.

Tax breaks for marriage or civil partnership should not be framed in terms of moral judgement on what the "ideal" relationship should look like. We should be framing it around what those choosing legal union lose as they move from being financially independent individuals to a combined financial entity.

Blog off.....

Clearly have swine flu again, so don't expect very much from me today.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

It's because of shagging you fools!

Posted yesterday by, the General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, John Dunford.


Hmmmm, here's a radical idea, but what about the more simple cause that there are more children than there were before?

The birth rate hit an all-time low around 2001-02, since when it has increased sharply. All those little kids are *gasp* having to start school! Throw in massive Eastern European migration (far exceeding expectation) to the UK with even more babies being born during the same period and errrr.... well it's not rocket science.

One can of course be on another planet thinking the Government have made state schools so fantastically brilliant all the rich folks want to send their kids there However, those of us on planet Earth can clearly spot a volume problem caused by the wonders of sexual intercourse without contraception.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Only 11%?

Iain Dale has posted about his pension statement from Standard Life for the year perfectly exemplifies the current economic situation. He's lucky, his fund only went down by 11%.

I have more than one Standard Life pension from different jobs a number of years ago. They don't get paid into anymore and haven't been for more than 12 month. They both lost around 40% of thier value in the last year.

It's lucky I'm only 33!

Jim Knight's job title - according to the BBC

Interesting!, no longer is he the Minister of State for Employment and Welfare Reform.Via email

Sarah Brown - blogging the G8 with contempt!

Am wondering whether there was a brief moment of panic for the web design monkies loooking after Sarah Brown's blog.

You see it used to proudly display the fact at the bottom of each page that the theme for the site was "Contempt" but someone removed it and I have not been able to find a cached version showing it anymore. It's still in the code though.

Hat Tip: Anna Raccoon

Gordon is off to Mars

If I only we could send him for real huh?

You can send your name to Mars here.

Jacqui Smith to be prosecuted for fraud?

Apparently, The Sunlight Centre for Open Politics have instructed Bark and Co solicitors to prepare to prosecute the former Home Secretary for fraud.

Originally reported in the Daily Mail.

Pandemic threat as 'Jonah Curse' goes airborne

It has this morning been confirmed that the 'Jonah Curse of Gordon Brown™' has - as was feared by many - mutated into an airborne pathogen.

Within hours of the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change announcing 400,000 new "green" jobs, Britain’s biggest employer in the green energy industry, Vestas, announced it was to cease production with more than 600 job losses by the end of the month.

An expert at the US Center for Disease Control said:

"This was our biggest fear. We knew that the Jonah Curse of Gordon Brown had the potential to mutate and start infecting those closest too him. We had hoped that it might not happen so quickly. We've now raised our alert level as we fear a pandemic domino affect my happen, and the recent G8 Summit has raised serious concerns in the Pentagon
No one from Downing Street was available for comment.
'Jonah Curse of Gordon Brown'™ Guido Fawkes

Summer Drinks

Unlike Guido I've already had a journey abroad, I shall however be out of action for a little while in a few weeks due to a hospital appointment and two weeks off work (not under the NHS before you ask).

Therefore there will be a few drinks on Wednesday Thursday - really a "vast right wing conspiracy" given that it's me, ToryBear, Guido and the Devil. As Guido says, its at "an undisclosed Westminster location". Email for invitation details - arbitrary policy on invites.

Note:
I would have beer but coeliac gets in the way - hence the cider.

Update: I seems to be having "day confusion" it's Thursday, not Wednesday.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Nigerian Government website rooted by 419ers Chinese?

Interesting, it seems part of the Nigerian government's website infrastructure has some "issues". Currently population.gov.ng has been blocked by Google because this malicious software linked on it that is downloaded via external domains.

UPDATE: Didn;t spot this before, the external domains are in the .cn TLD which is China. "Damn Chinese hackers!" as we say in the trade!

Anyone for spam? I have £3,000,000,000 in a bank but need you to send me some money to get it!
Hat Tip: David Steven

Identity Politics: Twitter Fight!

Yesterday I saw one of those classic moment where lefties scream about discrimination and then ends up with egg on their face. The back and forth was between Benny Austwick (@TheRightStudent), a CF chairman, and Tim Ireland (@Bloggerheads) and it went like this.

TheRightStudent: Just realised something...Mandelson is a 'gaylord' lol
Bloggerheads: @TheRightStudent Just realised something... you're a homophobic tool.
TRS: @bloggerheads Homophobic? Being gay, I didn't think that was possible. I'm Mandelsonphobic though - that's not irrational however.
BH: @TheRightStudent It is, as it happens. Irrationality is like that.
TRS: @bloggerheads I have an irrational fear of myself? Wow, you're better at psychiatry than Draper!
BH: @TheRightStudent You're the only gay person in the vi.. world?
TRS: @bloggerheads Calling Mandelson a Gay Lord is a fact, though. My attempt at light humour fails on lefties.
BH: @TheRightStudent PS - I'll take it back if you like; maybe you just don't give a damn about any of the collateral damage your labels cause.
Now, besides the fact that someone got made to look an idiot when it turned out that Benny and man love are 'bedfellows' as it were, it's the closing comment that struck me as telling.

What we have here is someone telling someone else what language they are allowed to use about themselves, a speech crime if you will, because it may upset or influence others. I wonder though if they'd be equally brave enough to walk into South Central and tell people off for using the word 'nigga' toward each other? Speaking of which, where is the campaign against Ice Cube, Flavor Flav, Snoop, Dre, the Wu Tang Clan, Ice T, Cypress Hill etc etc?

Surely if some Tory student with 309 followers on Twitter is causing "collateral damage" when he says "gaylord" (best not mention the restaurant of that name (whoops I just did)) , then the cream of hip hop and the producers of seminal albums, are verging on pure evil given the global reach their use of racial labelling has. No?

Identity politics and the morally righteous authoritarian suppression of language. Don't you just love it?

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Gift Shop and BBC Newsnight

Last week I did a little bit of filming with David Grossman from BBC Newsnight about the Downing Street Gift Shop and my Freedom of Information Requests. The rain stopped just long enough for us to film it outside.

You can watch the full video here. If anyone has any other questions to ask about the oven gloves on sale or anything else, email me and I'll add it to the list.
Note: Need to lose weight. Look fat.

Renting and claiming?

1: According to the Register of Members Interest, Bob Blizzard, the MP for Wavenly, has a "flat in London, from which rental income is received".

2: According to the censored expenses he also claims £1,278.25 monthly mortgage interest payments under the second home allowance.

Huh?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Supporting ex-servicemen is a fickle business

As I posted earlier on this week, there is a campaign to scrap, or at least reform, Early Day Motions because they waste massive amounts of public money and rarely produce anything meaningful, and sometimes talk about things no one really cares about.

The BBC World at One picked up on this which can be listened to here, where Jon Shepard spoke about the campaign. One of the interesting things in the piece is that quite a few MPs that signed the 10p tax rate EDM attacking the Government actually voted the other way on the issue in Parliament. Who'd have thought they'd be so fickle huh?

Whilst we're on the subject of fickleness by MPs about the causes they choose support through the Early Day Motion system there is a very good example on the issue of pensions to ex-servicemen and women. Over the past three years, the Labour MP Colin Challen has tabled the following motion in each session,

That this House believes that all ex-servicemen and women should be treated equally in the payment of pensions, regardless of when they served in Her Majesty's armed forces.
When he tabled it in the 2006/07 session it received large support with 217 signatures. When it got tabled in the 2007/08 session it only managed 189 signatures, many new but lots of others deserted the cause.

Now, in the 2008/09 session the support for the motion has fallen dramatically down to just 96 signatures. Makes you wonder what they really think about the issue doesn't it? What's more it highlights the sheer impotence of EDMs.

For three sessions this EDM has been tabled, and each year the issue doesn't get addressed, and each year the support for it falls by the wayside. If ever there was a good example and reason for change then this is surely it.

Saddest Tweet of the Day Award: Ed Balls MP

Eddie No Mates?

Bless!
Note: In fairness he got punked by a script but still funny.

As if it's really going to happen...

I know that the thought of nuclear disarmament is all fluffy, but the news that Brown plans to reduce Britain's nuclear stockpile as a means to getting North Korea and Iran to stop their programmes is short-sighted silliness.

I suppose on the plus side, at least Brown is not talking about unilateral action. However, the very notion that if the nuclear powers just reduce their weaponary that other states seeking such weapons will stop trying to get them isn't very realistic.

Such a move is basically predicated entirely on the nuclear powers trusting the rogue states like North Korea and Iran to keep to their words. Do they really think that North Korea, a vicious Stalinist state is going to allow "aggressive" inspections?

Frankly, I'd be very surprised if this will ever be more than a neat little PR story for Obama, Brown et al. After all, the Pentagon will push back hard and drag its feet whether POTUS wants it or not because they're not so trustworthy or stupid.

Bugger the need for proof!

We don't have the evidence but we're going to say you did it anyway?

Even though there may not be sufficient evidence to take him to court, I should like to know if someone was trying to tap me.

Lord West Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Security and Counter-terrorism
Scary logic there.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Quote of the Day

'Freedom is not absolute' - Andy Burnham on BBC Question time

The Little Book of Big Exp£nses

Have just got my hands on an advanced copy of The Little Book Of Big Exp£nses: How to live the MP Lifestyle. Am quite looking forward to reading it and doing some of the quizzes which apparently includes the following,

  • Quiz: Match the claim to the Political Party
  • The Great Pension Dodge
  • Biggest and smallest spenders
  • Keeping it in the family, or how to employ your spouse, children and parents
  • How much taxpayers’ money does it take to change a lightbulb?
  • Absurd concert “riders” (who demanded a luxury 5-bedroom house to be built into the O2 arena?)
  • Political piggies from around the world
It's out on July 16th and can be bought on Amazon here.

Proper review to follow.

The must have for graduating students

Hat Tip: imglol

Tory Whips advise MPs to change their passwords

It seems the Tory Whips Office has sent out a round robin email to Tory MPs from their mobile phone provider. The mobile provder Cellhire said,

In light of the latest news stories about mobile phones being hacked in to – we feel that this would be a good time to change the PIN code on your voicemail access for those of you with Cellhire BlackBerries.
Talk about shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted.

What's the point of Twitter blocking?

Twitter's security model is utterly bizarre. If you are blocked by someone on Twitter you can still view all their updates via the web on their root Twitter page. The only thing you don't seem to be able to do is read an update on its own unique page when you are logged in. If you are not logged in you can read it (unless they hide all updates all of the time to everyone but friends).

The only functional thing I can see in blocking is that you don't see "replies" that mention you from those you have "blocked", but it doesn't stop those you have "blocked" talking about you publicly or reading you. So, pray tell, what's the point?

Coulson, McBride and general bollocks

This morning I have finally read the article lots of people are frothing about on Twitter in the Guardian and I must say I think some of the commentary said last night is hilarious. Not funny haha as such, rather funny peculiar because it displays a rather weird intellectual vapidity on some and downright hypocrisy on others.

I'll come to the Guardian articles themselves in a moment, but one of the comments made on Twitter last night by the likes of Tim Ireland was that "logic of Tories running hard on Damian McBride is Coulson will have to go the same way". The basic premise here is two fold, firstly that this Guardian story is somehow equivalent to the McBride story, and secondly that because of that it would be hypocritical if the same level of outrage was not displayed as a result.

Now firstly, I should say as an aside, that to see that argument deployed by someone who only the other day screamed about copyright theft in the use of logos by someone on the Right, whilst remaining utterly silent about copyright theft in the use of logos by someone on the Left, I couldn't help but chuckle to myself at what an immensely dumbass thing it was to do, however I digress.

This morning I actually bought the Guardian to see what the fuss was about. Blazoned across the front page was something about Murdoch, but the picture was of Andy Coulson, former editor of the NotW and now communications supremo for the Tories. The juxtaposition of the headline "Tory PR chief under fire over hacking" too the actualities of the stories was brilliantly done I have to admit.

I also have to admit that I found it quaintly amusing to see the sort of editorial tactics that get hammered when they happen in the Sun or Daily Mail being completely ignored when they're done by the Guardian. Then again, consistency in argument is not something one should expect when there is a "OMFG, evil tories!" type thing going on.

So anyway, I read the Guardian article, page 1 and 2, and then the bigger article inside. It was not until I got to paragraph four of the inside article that it said, "David Cameron's chief press adviser, Andy Coulson, is not named in any of the suppressed evidence." As Andrew Neill correctly pointed out, Coulson was either complicit or incompetent, the problem is, no one has any evidence to prove either.

Interestingly, this is the only point at which this story and the McBride one converge, in that Coulson was the boss and his underlings were doing things that he either knew or didn't know. Likewise, McBride was an underling of Brown, and Brown either knew or didn't, but there is that handy thing called plausible denial covering both.

So, screaming for the head of Coulson, or screaming for the head of Brown, becomes one of pure fantasy conjecture driven by nothing more than ones own political bias and opinion. One thing is for sure though, unlike McBride, there remains no evidence like an email written by Coulson saying "good work lads, keep on breaking the law, love it!", or at least such evidence is not yet forthcoming.

Thus, the question raised by the likes of Sunny Hundal of "what will [right wing bloggers] now say about the allegations levelled at Andy Coulson - David Cameron’s director of communications" doesn't need to be answered as such because the premise of the question is wrong. There have been no actual allegations made against Coulson, rather they've been inferred from bugger all evidence and simple correlation of discrete facts.

Does this make the story a "fuss about nothing"? Absolutely not. The fact that journalists for two major newspapers were employing private investigators to go on fishing expeditions to find stories through illegal means (basically phreaking the PSTN) is definitely serious. Who knew what and when is also an important question, both politically and more importantly legally. This makes it very different to the McBride scandal.

McBride was banged to rights, Coulson isn't (yet). Claiming that it would be hypocritical not to be as outraged at Coulson as one might have been at McBride is at best spurious, and at worst plain stupid. Let's not be under any illusions here, the outrage in both cases from opposing side is driven by political bias. The difference is that one has evidence against the person in question and the other doesn't.

Of course, not proven does not mean innocent, but until there is some proof of Coulson's complicity, the best one can really say is that he must have been incompetent if he really didn't know, but that remains speculation too.

This could yet become a "McBride moment" for Cameron, but right now it isn't.

Update: According to Bob Piper this post is a bit of spin and is "on message" and "if you didn't know better, you would suspect the Tory boys are just trotting out a line".

I confess, it's true, I was woken this morning by Andy Coulson personally and told what to write. I didn't read the story and think "pretty incredible, could become serious for Cameron, but currently nothing more than speculation with no actual evidence against Coulson". I'm just doing the bidding of my paymasters. I have no independent thought, I am merely a propaganda tool don't ya know!

Incidentally, should any Jews from the global conspiracy be reading this, I am available for hire for 30 pieces of silver. I'm also available to push the neocon agenda at the right price. *nudge* *nudge*

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Has Brown considered using technicalities to delay the election?

There is an interesting article on Political betting noting that Brown could delay the election for another three years quite legally if he just let Parliament expire, it notes,

The only statutory requirement to move writs for a general election is under the Meeting of Parliament Act 1694, which allows no less than three years between the dissolution and the writs being issued. In other words, technically, the election doesn’t have to be held until June 2013.
Interestingly, I heard through a source back in April that backbenchers had been discussing these mechanisms as a way to delay an election by an extra few months shoudl the economy not be back on its feet by June 2010.

Careful what you wish for?

Is someone digging for dirt?

I don't deny I'm cynical, but some may remember the other week I wondered what Tom Watson was up to when he kept on asking about Demos. Well he's still at it now asking whether they were present at meetings etc.

The cynic in me wonders whether this might just be linked to James Purnell taking on a role with them. Watson is a Brownite loyalist. Purnell did Brown in the back and is a potential leadership challenger. No love lost there methinks.

So, and I'm just throwing these questions out there. Is Watson digging for dirt? Could it be that, in the wake of the McBride scandal, he resigned from Government so as to create distant between political plays and the Government machine?

It's all very intriguing.

Google Chrome "OS" - Just Linux with another UI

There is quite bit of excitement about the official announcement from Google that it is releasing a free operating system. It's not exactly new news though and has been in the offing for ages. Likewise, it's not a new operating system either, as the press release says,

Google Chrome running within a new windowing system on top of a Linux kernel
So what we're really talking about is a Linux distribution with a new UI X11 interface, like Gnome, KDE and XFCE. I reckon it will be called ChromE to denote it as an environment.

What's important here is that the question, "will Google Chrome OS beat Windows?" should really be, "will Linux with yet another UI beat Windows?". The answer to other questions like "can it run Word?" or "can it run photoshop?" are already answerable as "yes".

The only way this move by Google will push Linux even harder into the home market as an alternative is going to be if they do an OEM deal with the likes of Dell and HP to ship their distribution pre-installed as a purely Internet type OS - like Netbooks.

Importantly though, I think there will be a lot of very disappointed Windows users out there that will download this new Linux distro, install it, and then suddenly get upset when some things won't work - like the very latest bleeding edge peripherals, Nokia phones and or new DirectX games.

That's my two penneth anyway.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Bert is Evil!

Was quite amused to see this post on Comment Central. The image has changed now, but this is what it looked like before.

See Bert? He's evil he is! Interweb folklore that is.

Brown's Britain

Source: Office of National Statistics
Hat Tip: Tim Montgomerie

Ed Balls: Man of the People?

Bless, he has to start work at 9am. It's a hard life ain't it?

Talk about totally out of touch with what us ordinary people do every day.

Update: There have been comments that Ed Balls' complaint is legitimate. No its not. There is a phrase in recruitment about jobs that suit working parents. It's called a "Golden Hours" job where work is 9am - 3pm.

Kids start lessons at 9am, that means they need to be at school before that. Ordinary people cope with that, and they don't have ministerial cars.

Ann Cryer MP has delusions of grandeur

Following on from he last post about the Scrap EDMs campaign, I bring you a marvellous example of not only a motion that is a waste of money, but a motion that shows just how delusionally Freudian some MPs can be.

Ann Cryer MP, who continues to lead the EDM Signature Whores® Top Ten now having her signature against 1412 motions, has tabled a motion that praises the naming of a train carriage as Ann. Oh yes she does.

That this House congratulates the working volunteer members of the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway Preservation Society's Carriage and Wagon Department on five years of extremely skilled work refurbishing Pullman Car number 83 which resulted in this magnificent vehicle being brought back into service on 20 June 2009 with the name of Ann.
Utterly pointless, but hey, Peter Bottomley signed it (no surprise there).


 

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