Friday, February 26, 2010

Apologies for the lack of posting

Mrs Dizzy came back from her four week rest in Spain yesterday so have far more important things to do. May post over the weekend but don't be holding your breath!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Tory Bear's relatives go on rampage!

I think Tory Bear needs to sort his family out, especially the big ones as they seem to be trying to attack buildings in Denver, Colorado of all places.

Is this Daddy Bear?

Memories are made of this....

How I love putting things in microwaves to see what happens.

Eggs are good too, although a tad messy when they go.

What is there to negotiate?

So, apparently Argentina have asked the UN to get the UK to negotiate on Falklands sovereignty, and for the umpteenth time this week I find myself asking "what is there to negotiate?".

The Falklands have a somewhat patchy sovereignty history, but what is pretty clear is that Britain has pretty much had control of the islands since the end of the 17th century (although there was a period where a deal with Spain was done), then in 1833 reasserted its sovereignty permanently.

Argentina, or what was the United Provinces of South America, only ever claimed sovereignty for a two and half year stint in the first half of the 19th century prior to 1833. They did of course invade in 1982, and then got their arses handed to them on a plate by Britain, an act of self-defence as agreed by Security Council resolution 502 - sovereignty was effectively resolved by this and the conflict.

Although ironically the total death toll of the conflict was higher than the number of people living on the islands.

Anyhow, seems to me the only reason Argentina is getting shirty once again is because if oil is found it will make the islands rich and they rather fancy that cash flow. They also probably calculate that a bit of sabre rattling at us when we are overstretched militarily already can't hurt.

I do hope David Miliband tells them to bugger off.. in the politest possible way of course.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A drink for my Leftie readers

Government advert to be probed by OFCOM

Remember the Government's climate change propaganda advert designed to frighten children and showed a puppy drowning?

Well apparently it's now going to investigated by OFCOM after receiving hundreds of complaints.

Anti-Labour "Future Fair for All" website appears

Well I guess it had to happen, someone has set up a Future Fair For All domain to catalogue the failure of Labour. Not sure who is behind it, but hope it will get some good content.

MPs conclude guilt from nothing says Guardian

Rather amusing to see the Guardian's splash this morning which is titled

"MPs' verdict on News of the World phone-hacking scandal: Amnesia, obfuscation and hush money"
A more accurate headline would be

"MPs verdict on News of the World phone-hacking scandal: We found so little evidence that all we can do is extrapolate assumed conclusions"
Incidentally, the words "hush money" do not appear in the report. What these MPs have done is to note that the NotW paid some journalists money and have assumed that because of it "silence was effectively bought".

Regarding obfuscation, they actually accuse the Information Commissioner of it directly and then, casually throughout, refer to "deliberate obfuscation" but never actually say by who, presumably because they can't prove that either.

So, to summarise, the conclusion of the Select Committee report on phone hacking is that they spent weeks interviewing people, couldn't actually come up with much evidence, and so hacked together a report which draws assumed conclusion. Yay for democracy huh?

Oh yes, and they also concluded that the Press Complaint Commission should be given powers to suspend the publication of newspaper for one issue. Yay for freedom of the press too!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Darling to Brown: You're a c**t

What do you do when your boss is accused of being a bully and complete wanker? Simples! If you're in public office you slate him as a bit of bastard, and rub his nose in the fact that he can't possibly fire you at such a crucial moment in the electoral cycle.

I now pass this post over to Alistair Darling,

Asked if he believed Mr McBride and Mr Whelan had briefed against him, Mr Darling said: “Of course you have people saying things.”

In a reference to Mr McBride’s resignation last year, the Chancellor added: “My best answer for them was: I’m still here and at least one of them [Damien McBride] is not.”

During the summer of 2009, Mr Brown planned to remove Mr Darling from the Treasury and replace him with Ed Balls, a long-standing ally.
I do believe he just called a c**t a c**t.

Lobby me this, and lobby me that?

A little late to the party with comment but hey, it's fashionable right? Last week, PR Week reported that bloggers were set to be given access to the infamous Lobby - the place where hacks learn about plots and get briefed by politicians who have axes to grind against other politicians and/or policy.

Epolitix has followed up on the story, and name checked me, along with Guido and Iain Dale and possible "popular bloggers" because, whilst we may not be "proper journalist" we do have a "reasonably large number of subscribers or viewers" (just shy of 15,000 absolute unique visitors (according to Google) in the last week (yes that was "stat porn") and excessive use of parentheses)).

The thing is, would I actually want a Lobby Pass? I can't help but wonder "what would be the point?". After all, I have a real job, in the real world. I wouldn't ever use the thing - other than to drink cheaply.

Don't get me wrong, if I won the Lottery tomorrow then yes, perhaps I would quit my job and apply for a pass, but I have more chance of bumping into Sherilyn Fenn than that happening right?

It's all well and good to open the Lobby to bloggers, but the truth is, as Iain said, it would only really make sense for those such as ConHome, LabourList or LibDem Voice, who at least have some sort of financial backing, or are operated by people who have the ability to put the time in to make it worth it and still pay their bills.

Of course, if someone came along and said they'd pay me the same as I earn now [subtle hint] then things might be different. However, I really am a one man show, currently sitting in a makeshift office in a converted cellar, so the likelihood that I would receive funding is the same as the aforementioned lottery win.

I won't go as far as to say "no thanks" as Iain did. Having the pass and never using it other than to drink subsidised booze would be nice, but I have bills to pay, so unless someone pays them it's never going to happen with any actual commitment to use the pass for the blog.

Update: In light on Iain Dale's post in his Daley Dozen I would like to officially offer my bottom to the highest bidder - just be aware that as I work in the IT industry and have done for over a decade you either couldn't afford me or wouldn't be willing to pay as much as I would need.

Note to Self: Work on your sarcasm.

Just asking but....

CGI fighting Brown!

Bullygate goes global! Wait until you get 30 seconds in and see Andrew Rawnsley's book dramatised in CGI!

Yay Taiwanese News!

Monday, February 22, 2010

"I've never voted Tory before" graffiti.....

Naughty words!

Click Image for Larger Version

I wonder if Charlie Whelan wrote this?

How to tell if your being bullied according to the Unite Union.

Am I being bullied?

  • Bullies may use terror tactics, open aggression, threats, shouting, abuse, and obscenities towards their target
  • Bullies may subject their target to constant humiliation or ridicule, belittling their efforts, often in front of others
  • Bullies may subject their target to excessive supervision, monitoring everything they do and being excessively critical about minor things
  • Bullies may take the credit for other people's work but never take the blame when things go wrong
  • Bullies may constantly override the person's authority
  • Bullies may remove whole areas of work responsibility from the person, reducing their job to routine tasks that are well below their skills and capabilities
  • Bullies may set the person what they know to be impossible objectives, or constantly change the work remit without telling the person, and then criticise or reprimand the person for not meeting their demands
  • Bullies may ostracise and marginalise their target, dealing with the person only through a third party, excluding the person from discussions, decisions etc
  • Bullies may spread malicious rumours about the individual
Sound like anyone familiar?

Link submitted via email from a reader.

Whoops!

Oh dear, this doesn't make pretty reading. In the case of Pratt v. Sanden International (Europe) Ltd a female by the name of Ms C. Pratt is alleged to have,

"thrust her face into [Mr Roberts] and screamed "Communicate!" very loudly and directly into his ear. Mr Roberts found this very painful and was profoundly shocked by her conduct."
Is this the same Ms C Pratt of the National Bullying Helpline?

Errr.....

Now this really is getting highly surreal and amusing at the same time. On the one hand, Labour Party people, such as John Prescott are complaining about a breach of confidentiality by the National Bullying Helpline, and then others, such as Gordon Brown's PPS are demanding the helpline prove its statements, thus breaching confidentiality further.

That's bit like condemning someone for taking a turd in public and then asking them to do it again.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Brown admits his office has a bullying problem

So... Gordon Brown is accused of bullying, Mandelson says he's just passionate, then the head of the National Bullying Helpine contacts the BBC to say Mandelson is talking bollocks and that they've had people that work with Gordon Brown call them, and Downing Street refuses to comment.

Obviously a much needed spin job will be at hand, and the ever servile Kevin Maguire is already noting that Ann Widdicombe is a patron of the charity and thinks they might have been duped - presumably he means that someone called, said they worked with the PM, but they were lying.

Now let's get down to the nitty gritty as it were. The National Bullying Helpine told the BBC that "over the last three or four years" the helpline had "probably received three or four calls" from people working directly with Gordon Brown.

This is quite funny, because for the last three or four years, I've been reading Hansard every day, and guess what, departmental bullying in Brown's offices has come up a few times.

In May 2007, before he became Prime Minister and was still at the Treasury, the following was revealed,

David Simpson: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how many complaints of bullying have been investigated in his Department in the last 12 months; and how many complaints have been upheld;

(2) how many grievance procedures have been initiated in his Department in the last 12 months;

(3) how many complaints of sexual harassment have been investigated in his Department in the last 12 months; and how many complaints have been upheld.

John Healey: In the last 12 months fewer than five grievances have been raised and investigated. No complaints of bullying or of sexual harassment have been upheld. As the number of complaints of bullying and of sexual harassment was fewer than five, the exact number cannot be disclosed on grounds of confidentiality.
Then, in February 2008, after Brown became Prime Minister, we have this,

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (1) how many cases of bullying have been reported in his Department in each of the last 12 months;

(2) whether any cases of bullying have been reported in the Prime Minister's Office in the last 12 months.

Mr. Watson: The Prime Minister's Office forms an integral part of the Cabinet Office. In order to protect the confidentiality and privacy of individuals, it is standard Government practice not to publish records relating to five or less individuals.
And then, in March 2009, we also have errrrr... this,

Grant Shapps: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how many staff in (a) the Prime Minister's Office and (b) the Leader of the House's Office were disciplined for (i) bullying and (ii) harassment of colleagues in each of the last three years.

Mr. Watson: It is not the policy of the Cabinet Office to release personal data relating to individual staff. I can confirm that in the period specified, there were fewer than five cases in the Department where staff were disciplined for bullying and harassment of colleagues. It would not be appropriate to provide a further breakdown.
So... that's "three or four" calls, in the last "three or four" years, which is rather handily less than "five" which happens to be the number that Brown's own departments have confirmed have made complaints - might it be the same people that moved with him?

I knew reading Hansard would pay off eventually! And for those in the national press.... yes, I love doing your research for you.... for free!

Gordon Adolf Stalin Brown

Something rather amusing as occured to me after seeing that Iain Dale had posted some artwork that took a picture of Hitler and made Gordon Brown look like him (see below) - clever use of "Reign of Error" I think.


Now, the reaction to the post, mainly from the Left, including Labour MPs and left-aligned journalists, has been comment on Iain's lack of judgement. After all, Hitler was a nasty bastard who ordered the death of quite a few million, not to mention Godwin's Law etc.

What strikes me as amusing though, is the lack of equal concerns about judgement when Channel 4, thanks to Beau Bo D'Or, mocked Brown up as Stalin, or when the Times did it too (courtesy of The Spine).

Why did no one complain about judgement or taste back then? After all, in the murderous bastard stakes Stalin has Hitler totally owned. Hitler has what? Six to seven million dead human beings on his record? Meanwhile Stalin has around 40 million.

Shouldn't mocking Gordon Brown up as Hitler be less worse than mocking him up as Stalin?

I do love a good bit of synthetic outrage to point at and mock. It really lightens up an otherwise mundane Sunday afternoon.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Poker Politics

Oh dear lord, it's like a game of of poker isn't? Labour show their Corrie Star making robocalls to voters, and the Tories raise them with their Corrie star in a video.

Thank God this will all be over soon and we can get back to normal, huh? Wonder if Eastenders actors will be next in line?

*face palm*

BREAKING NEWS: Economists argue with each other!

How funny, last week, in the Sunday Times, a group of leading economists, including top bods at the LSE, the former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, a former deputy governor of the Bank of England and head of the Financial Services Authority, and a former permanent secretary to the Treasury and cabinet secretary, wrote a letter saying the Tories proposals for immediate deficit reductions are the right course of action.

Today, in the Financial Times we have a letter signed by other leading economists, including a couple of Nobel Laureates, some former members of the Bank of England monetary policy committee and oddly a load of yanks, saying "No! The Tories are wrong! And so are the economists that said the Tories are right!"

What conclusions should we draw from this? Well apart from the logically flawed ad verecundiam arguments made by those who cite each as evidence in their favour, and the hilarious use of an ad populum by Sunny Hundal, what we can conclude is simple.

Economics is a pseudo-science based on inherent prejudicial bedrock assumptions, or more cynically, and accurately put, the leading economists of the world don't really know their arses from their elbows but they'll have a good fight with each other about which part of their body they should sit on.

As you were people, carry on.

UPDATE: Even Ben Bradshaw, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport is playing the hilariously thick numbers game on Twitter saying, "The economists supporting Labour's approach are more numerous."

Fair enough, when some partisan hack like Sunny makes the argument it's worth pointing at and mocking its intellectual weakness, but when someone in a position of power says "we got more people to say they agree with us therefore we are right" you have to wonder what the world is coming too. Talk about dumbing down!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I Tweet. Please Rob Me

Quite possibly the funniest application and use of geo-location information leakage on Twitter, the incredible Interweb brings you, Please Rob Me which will let you know exactly when Twitter users have left home thanks to them being stupid enough to have geo-locationing enabled. As I type there are now 58 "new opportunities" for burglary available.


OK, so you may say I'm being irresponsible by laughing at this, but seriously, it brilliantly exposes how the information people freely leak about themselves on social networking sites can be easily exploited and applied for criminal activity. The issue is much the same as when I posted about the Layar Reality browser.

Location tracking can be useful, but when you leave your house you don;t put a sign up telling everyone you've gone out, so why tell the world on Twitter?

As clear as crystal-shaped mud?

Ever wondered about some of the things the European Commission spend your money on?

How about ElderGames? Heard of it? Know what they do? I'm sure that reading the complete gobbledygook on their website will help you!

ElderGames will research the specific needs of elderly people and create a motivating environment through an entertainment offer with high preventive and therapeutic value using advanced technologies that will improve, as much research has shown, variables related to the quality of life, with particular emphasis on cognitive skills in old age.

  • ElderGames will focus the research on the effects of play in old age and will demonstrate that experts consider that conclusions obtained for children regarding the improving of the physical, physic and social and affective health can also be applied to elderly people.
  • ElderGames will investigate in the adequacy of these advanced technologies for play-related therapeutic intervention among elderly people, taking ethical issues in consideration.
  • ElderGames will research into the use of Mixed Reality technologies by the elderly people and how related applications can be used as innovative play-related-therapeutic tools.
Got that? Good. Now can you tell me please?

Spending on climate change... how DEFRA waste money

Interesting video here from the Taxpayers Alliance.

Who'd have thought it? The Government wasting money on videos and films? Never!

Caption Contest

"And then I grab Sarah's hair like this....."

Please add others in the comments.

Note: Apologies for my gutter-ridden mind. It;s the Internet's fault!

What can we expect from Budget 2010?

So, in a few weeks time, Alistair Darling is expected to stand up in Parliament and deliver the Labour manifesto 2010 Budget. Whatever it contains will essentially be the platform that Labour will campaign on in the forthcoming election, so what might that be? Well, I expect some of it will be about election positioning, but other parts will be about political positioning in the event of a defeat.

So, here are five predictions from moi....

1: Don't expect an increase in income tax or taxes on income (yet), and possibly even see a calculated cut offset against a hidden rise elsewhere - We've seen Labour do this before when they scrapped the 10p rate and cut the base rate of income tax and made themselves look like tax cutters whilst actually increasing tax.

They might try and do it again, although it seems more likely to me that they will hold the obvious taxes static. This will be designed to take advantage of any tax increases in an Emergency Budget in the event of a Tory win. Remember that this budget is as much about trying to win the voters over as it will be about giving Labour a position to attack from in Opposition.

2: No increase in VAT - It's seems quite well accepted now that the chances of a VAT rise to reduce the deficit will be necessary. By not proposing it in the 2010 Budget, Labour can easily switch tack in a Pre-Budget Report if necessary, or again, bash the Tories over the head if they increase VAT in an Emergency Budget.

3: A raising of the Inheritance Tax threshold - this is going to be classic New Labour triangulation. The Tory IHT proposal is popular and the Labour line that it only helps multi-millionaires doesn't resonate that well because people living in an average house price house with a life insurance policy still see themselves being hit.

The problem Labour have is that even though allowances are transferable between spouses and civil partners, explaining that minutiae is not pithy enough. I reckon they will raise the IHT threshold to between 400K and 450K in the hope of taking the wind out of the Tory sales on the issue.

4: Lots of "efficiency savings" - These will be pie in the sky figures of how they're going to cut spending without cutting "front line services". There will also be reference to the Tories and savage cuts.

5: Increases in tax credits - this is a nice easy one for Labour to propose because of the amount of people that don;t take tax credits who could. They can easily promise an increase safe in the knowledge that it won't make much difference.

They'll also use the word "universal" when talking about tax credits. This has already been trailed by Ed Balls in articles as a dividing line for the election where the Tories have said they want to reform credits so that only people that actually need handouts from the state can qualify.

There is also a post election advantage here if Labour loses. They position themselves ready to make the "evil bastard Tory cutters" when it comes to social benefits.

As I say, these are just predictions of what I think will happen. Whilst it will take a while to pick apart whatever is said, the crucial thing to look out for are budget statements that are designed for post-election positioning. Sure electioneering will be in the budget, but we'll have an indication of the positions "Labour in Opposition" might be planning.

Should be fun! Feel free to add other predictions in the comments.

Note: Apologies for the lack of posting but I had man-flu. Also, I have progressively worsening carpal tunnel syndrome which is impeding on my ability to type without being in pain.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Gripping stuff about the Labour PPC for Tonbridge

If you're interested to know some "gripping" details about Daniel Griffiths, the Labour PPC for Tonbridge & Malling then you can do no better than look on his website. Apparently, Daniel is,

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Praesent aliquam, justo convallis luctus rutrum, erat nulla fermentum diam, at nonummy quam ante ac quam. Maecenas urna purus, fermentum id, molestie in, commodo porttitor, felis. Nam blandit quam ut lacus.

Bet you're glad you knew that about him huh?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Hooray for crazy credit!

Loving this one, interest rates at 0.5%, we're yet to really be out of recession and you can still get credit, and boy, they advertise it on national TV so you can get up to a grand online at a great interest rate!

And how to wonga.com pitch the fairness of their interest rate? With a comic that's how, saying "just imagine how much a DVD rental would be for a year?"
If one were being cynical one might wonder if they were just loansharks without the kneecapping?

Why has "torture" become a truism?

OK, I've had just about as much as I can take of reading and hearing news outlets talking about Binyam Mohamed being tortured, or that Britain was complicit in torture, after the release of some paragraphs about his interrogation. The final paragraph states,

The treatment reported, if had been administered on behalf of the United Kingdom, would clearly have been in breach of the undertakings given by the United Kingdom in 1972. Although it is not necessary for us to categorise the treatment reported, it could readily be contended to be at the very least cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment by the United States authorities
What were those "undertakings" it mentioned? Well it refers specifically to what are known as the "five techniques" of interrogation that were used in Operation Demetrius, also known as internment, in Northern Ireland. In 1972, the Parker Report found that the techniques were illegal in UK law, and the then Prime Minister, Edward Heath, gave an undertaking that the UK would not use them anymore.

The techniques of wall-standing, hooding, subjection to noise, deprivation of sleep, and deprivation of food and drink, were then put to the European Court of Human Rights in the case of "Ireland v. the United Kingdom", and, in 1978, it ruled that the techniques,

"did not occasion suffering of the particular intensity and cruelty implied by the word torture ... [but] amounted to a practice of inhuman and degrading treatment"
That is what the paragraph is referring to in the case of Binyam Mohamed when it says he was subjected to treatment that was "inhuman and degrading". Binyam Mohamed was treated in a way that the UK said it would not engage in, but the way he was treated was not torture.

This legal definitional difference appears to have been lost in the reporting and we have now just slid into saying he was tortured anyway. Take the Guardian editorial this morning as just a quick example, it says,

Binyam Mohamed, who (no one now disputes) was tortured with the knowledge of the US authorities.
See? It's now a truism that he was tortured even though what he was subjected too has been tested in the ECHR and been judged not to equate to the "particular intensity and cruelty implied by the word torture".

You might not like what happened to Binyam Mohamed - although its worth noting that Britain trains its Special Forces to be prepared for these techniques - but calling it "torture" is inaccurate no matter how many times it is repeated.

French bank states the bleeding obvious

The pope is Catholic and bears shit in the woods is, I'd say, the reading between the line conclusion of Société Générale intervention into the discussion on the Greek bailout and the impact on the Euro. According to the bank, "any help given to Greece merely delays the inevitable break-up of the eurozone."

Now frankly, why this is seen as a surprise statement by some is beyond me. The writing was on the wall from day one when the currency was set-up in an arse about face way. If there had been political union first, then economic union would have been stable, but there wasn't.

As long as you have member states with total political control over their central income taxes and spending, then the idea that a single currency can prove to be stable is based on little more than faith that each member state will decide to act in a stable way.

The only way you're going to achieve that is if you have proper federal political union like that which exists across the Atlantic pond. The advantages the yanks have of course is that they do in fact have a single identity and culture, something which is lacking in Europe.

Of course, europhiles will argue that there is such a thing as "being European", the problem is that it's just a conceptual identity based on nothing more than geography and membership of a club. To be fair this is why genuine democratic political union is impossible too.

The only reason the the EU has its member states appoints, through bargaining and negotiation, the top jobs, is because attempting to have the member states electorate vote for the positions on a pan-European level would be an absolute farce, as national bias and prejudice would enter into the equation and each state would tend to elect their own.

The sad reality is that the EU is a high-minded conceptual idea based upon an outdated 20th Century perception of the world. An idealistic view that if we all just come together and have a big group hug and pretend we're all the same, ignore all our cultural differences, we can make this thing work.

It's bullshit.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Blog off......

Got man flu from walking dogs in snow. Nothing to see here today.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Are Labour preparing a dedicated Cameron attack website?

I;m thinking that we should expect some more posters from the Labour Party shortly that will stick with the "two faces of" line along with the "David Camera On/David Camera Off" angle (copyright Derek Draper)

John Miles at Labour HQ has been a busy bee grabbing as many variations off the play on words as possible.

davidcameraon.com
davidcameraon.net
davidcameraon.org
davidcameraon.co.uk
davidcameraon.org.uk
Currently they're all just unconfigured domains on the labour.org.uk server, but presumably not for long.

Is it about to get even more personal? Pass the popcorn!

Prayer will win through?

Gordon Brown, Ed Balls, Dawn Primarolo, Baroness Verma and Boris Johnson, amongst many others have given their warmest regards and wishes for success to "Autism Sunday - The International Day of Prayer for Autism and Asperger's Syndrome".

Should you wish to join in and have chat with the big guy above about the subject there are some prayer points available to help you ask for the right things.

I'm presuming that the Christian Police Association won't be taking part as they're too busy using a Government grant so they can beat crime through prayer.

Should you be wondering, I think I'll be in bed on Sunday morning.

Hotels are good for the environment!

Now here's a rather interesting thing, the Department for the Environment and Rural Affairs, like many Government departments, spunks money up the wall on hotel accommodation, but figures released on the hotel spend by Ministers, special advisers and officials shows quite an interesting spike.

I can't imagine what happened in the months after April 2007 that might account for a four-fold leap in hotel spending, I doubt it had anything to do with a profligate spender of public money leaving the Treasury and going into Downing Street though - amusing correlation that it may be none the less.

Note: the last figure is only for six months, so the eventual twelve month figure will problably be up on the previous year.

Update: The Government says the spike in 2007 was due to Foot and Mouth and the need for people to stay in hotels. What they don't say is why the figure didn't drop the following year and appears to have just continued to rise even though less nights are being booked in hotels.

Thought for the Day

Just a quick note, but is it not painstakingly obvious that the solution for Greece should not be to take a bailout from the EU, or to slash wages but rather to exit the Euro, reinstate the Drachma and have a sharp devaluation? Or am I missing something?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Mandelson's department spends £86 a word with Google

I bet you didn't know that during the financial year of 2009/2010, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills ran seven campaigns for which Google Adwords were bought,

Graduate Talent Pool, Vulnerable Workers and Agency Workers, National Minimum Wage, Business Link, i-Awards, Science: So What? So Everything and Employment Agency Standards as you asked.
Obviously you might have known that already but I didn't. I also didn't know that the total cost of purchasing these words was, via the Central Office for Information, £381,056.89. Money well spent I'm sure on things most of us have probably never heard of. In total they purchased 4,440 words (which works out to an average of about £86 per word).

What's that? You want to know what the words were? Sorry, no can do. Mandelson's department says it can't tell precisely what it spent your money on because it might prejudice "the commercial interests of our suppliers".

A tale of two posters

Just to flex my non-partisan muscles for a moment, I would like to point out that the two latest Labour/Tory posters below have been given the official Dizzy stamp for this election.

I would like to point out to my blogging colleagues across the political spectrum who are getting their proverbial knickers in a twist that you're both right about the respective posters. Both posters perpetuate bullshit and play on fear.


Now please STFU!

UPDATE: Oh dear, if only Andy Burnham had stuck to the line he gave yesterday when he said "I can say to you very categorically today that is not what we are considering.". He's buggered it up now by saying today "I'm not ruling out that option". Whoops. Perhaps it should look like this?

Straw parrots Brown's bollocks

Yesterday in Parliament Jack Straw repeated the completely spurious argument that having a referendum on the Alternative Vote was all about rebuilding trust in light of the expenses scandal. Do Jack Straw and Gordon Brown (and whoever else buys the argument) seriously think that the following is the case:

Voter 1: How do you feel about the expenses scandal?
Voter 2: I'm really pissed off about it, they're all thieving bastards who clearly can't be trusted!
Voter 1: What do you think should be done about it?
Voter 2: Well, I'd trust them much more if I could vote for them in order of preference instead of just voting for one of them.
Voter 1: Me too!
Do I need to say more? The idea that the conversion to a new voting system is because of expenses is bollocks. No one can seriously a voting system that ensures the least disliked person wins will make voters trust politicians more. Can they?

Incidentally, quote of the debate last night has to go to Tom Harris who asked Straw whether he "attribute[s] the stainless reputation of Italian politicians to the fact that the Italians have proportional representation?" Very drole!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Couldn't we just replace Peter Bottomley with a very small shell script?

I'm being trying to figure out what Peter Bottomley MP actually does and have come to the conclusion that all he seems to do is sign any and every Early Day Motion available - I expect he'd sign a polished turd if asked.

So I have a proposal, couldn't we just replace him with this and save the taxpayer some money?

#!/bin/bash
EDM=/home/parliament/edms
NEW=`find $EDM -mtime -1`
for i in $NEW
do
`grep "Peter Bottomley" $i`
if [ $? != 0 ]
then
echo "Peter Bottomley" >> $i
fi
done
Just a thought.

Note: Script is released under the GPL v3.

MP calls for laws to stop people being rude on Facebook

Another day, another Early Day Motion that won't produce anything but does give you a feeling for the way some of our MPs appear to want to take the Chinese approach to the internet.

That this House condemns certain user groups on Facebook who target, harass and mock vulnerable or grieving people; notes that the written and graphic content of these groups can be extremely offensive and damaging to individuals and to society generally; believes that Facebook has a duty to protect users from abuse and to prevent or remove extreme distasteful content; and calls on the Government urgently to review national policies on policing hateful material on the internet and press Facebook immediately to remove any content of this nature and if it refuses, to legislate to protect society from the irresponsible actions of Facebook.
Facebook is of course American, it's hosted in California, so clearly Bob has not heard of the First Amendment or doesn;t think freedom of speech is that worthwhile?

Feel free to join the open Bob Spink is a bald git that should leave Facebook alone group on Facebook and leave an offensive message.

Parliament infested.....

We're doomed I tell you! A plague of moths today, but what next? The Thames turning to blood and the Death of the first born?

Mr. Allen: To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission what proposals there are to end the infestation of moths in T block; and if he will make a statement.

Nick Harvey: Significant numbers of the Common House Moth (Tineola bisselliella) were first reported in the House in early 2008 and preventative treatment has been undertaken since then. In order to minimise the use of pesticides and the consequent risk of exposure to potential toxicants, a process involving moth pheromone has been employed. Although activity in T block remains an issue, monitoring of moth activity shows that moth numbers within the House of Commons estate are generally declining. Alternative methods of eradication, including heat treatment of items and individual spraying of offices to kill larvae, are being considered.
Run for the hills!

P.S.
Doesn't "T Block" make the place sound like a prison?
P.P.S. Do email me photos of the moths if you can! Would really ,love to understand the scale of the infestation.

Derek Wyatt launches MyMP

How marvelous, there is now an iPhone application designed to make an MP accountable called MyMP.

I sincerely can't think of a better way to make an MP more accountable to his constituents than by producing an application for a closed source proprietary operating system on a jailed handset exclusive to specific networks with either high monthly contract costs or extortionate PAYG airtime and data plans.

Yay for accountability if you're willing to spend money!

@Kevin_Maguire gets his tweets read out in Parliament

Oh Lord, what has Twitter become! Whilst I don't agree with Maguire's politics, I did find this little retelling of his Twitter updates in Parliament rather amusing. Stupid Lib Dem activists!

I spoke this morning to Kevin Maguire, the respected Daily Mirror political journalist. He told me to check what was going on, and I had a look on his Twitter page. I know that we all need to be careful about Twitter, but apparently he was sitting on a train and updating it. I shall read through what his page said, as he suggested I should. First, he wrote:

“On train a bloke’s boasting on mobile he got Evening Standard to claim Lab has secret plans to shut Kingston Hospital”.

The next post was:

“Train bloke now boasting the hospital scare story cooked up at his kitchen table. Very proud of Facebook following”.

Next:

“He’s ‘a manifesto to write’. Tory? Wearing Hibs scarf. Clocking his details. May sneak photo to track down. Or could always ask!”

The next post begins, “Name’s Dan”, and then gives part of his telephone number and continues:

“Wondering if he’s a Lib Dem.”

The next post reads:

“Got Hospital Closure Man’s pic. Going into meeting then will discover who Dan is”.

Then the next one:

“This is the Kingston hospital scare bloke. Anyone know him? He’s a loud mouth in public places”.

And then:

“Ta all Tweeters. Hospital phone man ID’d as Lib Dem activist Dan Falchikov. He should stop SHOUTING on train”.

I bet the hon. Members for Richmond Park and for Kingston and Surbiton wish he would stop shouting on trains, because it appears to have disclosed the nature of what is going on here.
The power of teh interweb huh? Still requires stupid people to be overheard by journalists of course.

Playing the race card?

In light of the conviction of the thoroughly bent copper, and former president of the National Black Police Association, Ali Dizaei, are we about to see the Metropolitan Police enter a "post-post-Macpherson" era?

For the last decade, the Met seems to have been walking on eggshells when it comes to the race issue, and Ali Dizaei was someone who quite evidently played the race card for all it was worth which let him get away with so much for so long.

Of course, there were many who accepted his claims of unfair treatment. Some, like Sunny Hundal on his Pickled Politics website, also said that he was subject of a smear campaign, although it looks likely now that many of the things he was accused of doing were likely true.

The level of corruption and abuse of power by Dizaei over so many years though does raise an important question. Would he have got away with so much for so long if he had been white? Is there a limit to the use of the race card?

It;s a difficult question, as it's possible that someone could be the genuine victim of racism and thus be justified to say so, but at the same time, how should situations where it is being played disingenuously be dealt with?

Feel free to chip in with your views.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Jailed ex-MEP wins Quote of the Century award


Former UKIP MEP and ex-policeman Tom Wise - speaking from prison where he is serving time for fraudulently fleecing the taxpayer of £36,000 - talks about his most prized possession in prison, a Christmas card signed by ex-Beatle Paul McCartney.

"I keep it under my pillow. You have to be careful as this place is full of thieves."
Beyond satire huh?

Source: theparliament.com

Sunday, February 07, 2010

N for Vendetta?

Isn't it rather odd, nay funny, the way vendettas appear to work in politics? Nadine Dorries, like Hazel Blears said in the Labour deputy leadership campiagn, is probably one of those politicians that is like Marmite, you either love or hate her. Unsurprisingly, when it comes to those who hate her it is the Left that gets its girly knickers in a twist most.

Whether it be the likes of the Manchester Labour blogger Chris Paul; Sunny Hundal's group blogathon of fake moral indignation, Liberal Conspiracy; or the distinctly non-stalker, non-mental, non-manipulative, pseudo-technnogod and myopic straw man creator Tim Ireland, they all hate her with a passion and blog, tweet or campaign against her whatever she might do.

She could convert to socialism and everything they believed and they'd still hate her.

Ironically, the style and level of hatred directed at her is the kind of thing that, if I was to do it at a female MP, I'd be lambasted as a misogynist areshead of epic proportions. Such is the quintessential nature of the obsessive Leftist online community. They're ever concerned about injustices against all manner of individuals in a given sub-identity group, unless the individual has the wrong political views, in which case, sod the high-minded principles.

However, I digress, I was talking about vendettas. Nadine has quite a few obvious vendetta types railed against her as mentioned, but one other area I'm beginning to wonder about is that esteemed organ the Daily Telegraph.

Once rather cutely called the Torygraph by Private Eye it is now known as the Mailygraph because of the way it often ventures into the style of reporting that the Daily Mail engages in - ironically the aforementioned lefties hate the Daily Mail too, but they still give the Daily Telegraph credence when it is dealing with their Sarah Palinesque (for that hate her too) bête noire.

You see, Nadine, as some might recall, got targeted by the Daily Telegraph over her second home allowance expenses. This was because she rented her constituency home using said allowance, and there has been some quibbling over whether or not she spends more than 182 nights a year in the prpoerty.

Thus bringing into question whether it really is her second home or main home for those that can't stand her. Unlike the already mentioned Hazel Blears - her Marmite colleague across the benches - there is no question of her coining it in Capital Gains from the taxpayer by renting and not buying, rather the issue that the Daily Telegraph had, and the usual suspects screamed about, was about how one defines where ones second home is.

Nadine responded, characteristically, although perhaps unwisely in political terms, by posting the Daily Telegraph's allegation and a response, essentially telling them they were barking up the wrong tree. She then posted on her blog saying that many MPs were being tarred with the same brush unfairly and made allegation of ulterior motives by the Daily Telegraph's proprietors, which resulted in the paper calling in the lawyers and taking her website down until allegations were withdrawn.

Yesterday, the Daily Telegraph ran yet another story about Nadine, which had a title that seemed to suggest some sort of backhanded corruption using taxpayers money. The piece was titled, "Nadine Dorries paid £35,000 to close friend in PR", and was inevitably leapt on by her online tormentors and no doubt resulted in her receiving yet more emails from the more vocal containing content reminiscent of nutty Bible bashing preachers on buses in London.

The thing is, even someone with severe learning difficulties could spot the weakness of yesterday's Daily Telegraph piece when they took a second to go past the inference being made by the headline. It seems, you see, that the "evidence" that provides the inference of wrongdoing is based solely on the fact that the founder of said "PR" company is "pictured with the MP on her website at social and family occasions". Apparently,

"Two of the pictures show the Tory MP with Mrs Elson: one in a group shot with two other women holding glasses of wine, and one with Mrs Dorries and her daughters dressed in evening wear."
Well bugger me backwards with a strangely erotically-shaped spoon!

If ever there was evidence of corruption a picture of an MP having a glass of wine with her entire paid staff before a drinks reception with a former Prime Minister is going to be it isn't it? (I asked you see!). I mean, an MP employing someone is never going to invite them to an event are they? Absolutely not! Get that spoon will you Roger!

If some people are having trouble spotting my sarcasm here let me say it slowly, I'm.... being.... sarcastic.

Let me put it like this. If I offered Nadine, or any MP in fact, my IT skills - for a fee - in order to make their constituency office the most banging, uber-secure networked social bloggy webtastic environment going, should I be barred from doing so if I am their friend? More so, what if someone who didn't know an MP from Adam did work for them and then became their friend? Does that cross the line?

Frankly, yesterday's Daily Telegraph piece was, is and remains complete bollocks in terms of what was written, the inferences made, and the shoddy sub-editing headline. It's so clearly been designed to scream "Nadine Dorries is corrupt!" you have to ask yourself, why would that be?

Might it be because she didn't take shit from them and pissed them off just a tad to the point that they might just have it in for her?

Of course, there's no direct evidence of that, but if you're going to write a story that relies on a picture, a headline, and essentially, the general outrage there is against MPs at the moment, you have to ask the question, why pick her for a prominent quarter page spread?

The thing is, this isn't the first piece in as many weeks about her, there have been others too and today we have the Sunday Telegraph giving Nadine another half page almost and it's already being dubbed "Bragate".

Nadine you see, who agreed to appear on Channel 4's Tower Block of Commons documentary (which I posted about last week) apparently hid fifty quid down her bra when she was supposed to be living on the dole alone (naughty!).

Now, putting aside the fact that the fifty quid was no doubt warm, cosy and very snug, what is most telling about the Sunday Telegraph piece is not the money, but rather the prominence of Nadine's transgression on a TV reality documentary over that of class war veteran and champagne socialist hero Austin Mitchell MP who also appeared on the show.

Mitchell, as I mentioned last week, refused to even live with the real people in the show, he demanded that his wife accompany him, refused to hand over his mobile phone or laptop, still had a car, went out for dinner parties to his friends house in Hull, and laughed off the attempt to live on benefits saying "I'm not making any attempt to live on that. I think it's silly."

Where was this mentioned in today's Sunday Telegraph piece? The last three paragraphs of a 23 paragraph story.

Now correct me if I'm wrong on this, but isn't a politician who claims to be a champion of the oppressed man refusing to live like the oppressed man because it's "silly" more important than another politician that grew up on a council estate in Liverpool stashing some money where any decent woman so often stashes it?

You may not agree possibly, but I'd say the prominence of Nadine in the story over the rank hypocrisy of Mitchell, coupled with yesterday's non-story with non-evidence, and the piece a few weeks ago might just suggest to some, possibly, maybe, probably, that the Daily/Sunday Telegraph has a teeny weeny little agenda going on?

What's more, and this is rather crucial, why did they wait until Sunday to write their big half page story when, at the end of the episode of the show six days ago, the "money in the mummary"* scandal was shown in all its glory in a "next week on..." moment?

Couldn't possibly be "maximum weekend impact against that bitch that dared to argue with us"? Could it? Who knows? I don't, I'm just a blogger!

* Yes, I spelt "mammary" wrong, I was playing on the word "mum" and making a tit joke.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Criminal Charges to be brought over expenses

Two charges under the Theft Act against Elliot Morley for false account
Three charges under the Theft Act against David Chaytor for false account
Two charges under the Theft Act against Jim Devine for false account
Six charges under the Theft Act against Lord Hanningfield for false account

Other cases still under investigation. CPS says that defence of Parliamentary privilege to be tested in court.


Why?

Found on imgur.com

Thursday, February 04, 2010

The pearly whites of Parliament?

Along with expenses today, Parliament have also released data showing which MPs have been booking what rooms for functions and events with guests, lobbyists etc.

David Cameron appears to have a thing about teeth it seems, hosting numerous events for the British Dental Health Foundation and National Smile Month.

From Prime Mentalist to Prime Dentalist?

Note: Gag idea suggested by Lazy Hyena

A short note on expenses...

If you;re wondering what sort of things our MPs have had to pay back money for then Guido has a great running blog on the Legg Report and the £1.1 million scandal. Alternatively you can read it here.

Incidentally, Parliament have also produced a nifty search tool now as well for all allowances and spending here.
In the meantime, all I can really bring myself to say on the subject having browsed the Legg Report briefly and seen the spending on furniture is this (apologies for my swearing in advance).

Have none of these fucking MPs ever fucking heard of Ikea?

US media giants employs lawyers to take down "Tory Politico"

Now this is truly astounding. The UK blog, tory-politico.com has received cease and desist legal threats from a Washington DC law firm acting as counsel for Capital News Company who run the US site politco.com claiming they have the trademark right on the word "politico", here what they say,

Oh dear, using Alexa as a judgment is a bit silly. Especially as Jason, who runs the site notes,

While I can understand why they are saying only 57% of visitors are from the UK this is a wholly false claim. According to Google Analytics, which has been tracking traffic since the site launched, 85% of readers are from the UK with only 5% coming from within the United States.
Hopefully he is going to stand firm against the claim that he is barred from using the word "politico" in his name.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

More oppression of freedom in Australia

If compulsory voting with a fine wasn't enough the South Australians have now passed a law that bans anonymous political commentary on the Internet during election campaigns, the law states,

A person must not during an election period, publish material consisting of, or containing a commentary on, any candidate or political party, or the issues being submitted to electors, in written form, in a journal published in electronic form on the internet or by radio or television or broadcast on the internet, unless the material or the program in which the material is presented contains a statement of the name and address (not being a post office box) of a person who takes responsibility for the publication of that material.
Given the global nature of the Internet I wonder how they will stop people in other countries posting comments on behalf of friends?

Brown accused of lying to misleading Parliament by Fox

The Tories have just put a press release out* that contains the following quote from Liam Fox and little more,

"At Prime Minister’s Questions today Gordon Brown repeatedly made the allegation that the Conservatives pledged to cut defence spending at the 2005 election, when our manifesto was committed to a £2.7bn increase in frontline spending. Gordon Brown must apologise for misleading the House. Another day, another figure, same wrong Gordon Brown."
Just did a quick Google search to check and page 25 of the Tory 2005 manifesto seems clear as it says,

A Conservative Government will strengthen our Armed Forces within NATO by spending £2.7 billion more than Labour on the front line by 2007-08.
No doubt there is some hypothecated way that can be called a "cut", after all, Brown say's defence spending is increasing but the Pre-Budget Report from the Treasury says the MoD budget will be £38.9 billion in 2009/10 and £36.7 billion the following year.

Figures huh?

* This is the first time I've actually found a Tory press release useful.

Note: This is the second accusation of misleading Parliament of the day for Brown, as mentioned in my previous post. Read Eric Pickles letter to Brown here.

Brown calls Peter Watt a liar?

Gordon Brown has been asked in Parliament about the now infamous "fund with no name" that Peter Watt referenced in his book "Inside Out". Asked by David Evenett why it was not declared on the Register of Members' Interest. Brown's response was,

I know nothing about what he is talking about
Apart from the roars of laughter in the Commons, presumably he's either claiming that he hasn't read the newspapers, or noticed a complaint about him to the Parliamentary Standard Commissioner, or, he's calling Peter Watt a liar - having already branded him a criminal and screwing him over as detailed in the book.

Update: Corrected Brown quote after second listening, changed "of" to "about".

UPDATE II: ConservativeHome have a copy of a letter written by Eric Pickles to Gordon Brown suggesting he has misled the House with his response.

Will pregnant women be banned from flying by full body scanners?

The picture to the right was doing the rounds yesterday after the Government announced the use of full body scanner in aiirports being rolled out fully.

Now, putting aside the possible fact that the use of these scanners may actually break UK law in terms of exposure to ionising radiation regulations, there is an interesting little problem within the decision, also confirmed in a written question. The ministerial statement says,

If a passenger is selected for scanning, and declines, they will not be permitted to fly.
This was reinterated in response to a Parliamentary question.

So here's a simple question, what about a young woman that is 6 weeks pregnant? Are they really going to refuse to let her fly when she recalls the advice on hospital posters about X-rays and pregnancy and so refuses to be scanned?

One other thing to note, back when this was just a trial at Heathrow, if you refused you were frisked instead. Why is it now the case that if you refuse you are assumed to be hiding something and barred from flying?

Harman Image via Big Brother Watch

Sion Simon for Birmingham Mayor - he's just like you

Sion Simon MP is quitting Parliament to run for Birmingham mayor presumably because "he's just like you" and probably because the expense regime is better than Parliament?


Hopefully he will do some more interviews like this one.

Always worth reminding people what a tit the man is.

Tower Block of Commons - the sheltered life of an MP exposed!

Last night, having recorded it on Sky+, the first episode of the Channel 4 series, Tower Block of Commons, where a number of MPs get sent to mystery council estates and have to live with ordinary people and I have to admit I wasn;t particularly disappointed. There was something rather amusing - in a funny peculiar not funny haha way - to see the look on Austin Mitchell's face as he was led to what he thought was a newsagents but was in fact a methadone dispensary as his host was a recovering smackhead.

The look of shock and then depression on his face that such places actually existed in the back arse end of a run down council hell hole was enlightening. Even he had to admit he'd thought that drugs as an issue was overstated by the media, and here he was surrounded by random syringes on the floor, an all too common sight on an estate of this sort. Likewise, Mark Oaten's reaction to seeing the squalor of a council estate in Essex, leading to him getting a petition going (natch!) was a great illustration of how sheltered a life some MPs actually live.

It's a shame that Iain Duncan-Smith had to pull out of the series because his wife fell ill with cancer, as of all the MPs featured, he seemed like the one that took it most in his stride and didn't appear necessarily shocked by how some people were having to live, and simply expressed how he would like to change it and make it better (no surprise really given his work in this area).

One thing that did stand-out though was Austin Mitchell's refusal to do the moving in with a family part and instead insist on only taking part if his wife could come along and they could have a council flat of their own. There were scenes of them sitting around reading all their daily newspapers, playing on a laptops and using his mobile phone, whilst the Tory and Lib Dem participants had their wallets and phones taken away. Mitchell and his wife even drive off to a friend's nice house for dinner one night.

Most hilariously was Mark Oaten not knowing how to correctly fill out a lottery ticket and then proceeding to get four numbers when he finally filled it out properly - much to the annoyance of his host who had never won more than a tenner in years of playing every week.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Tories go for the "revolutionary" touch?

Oh lordy! George Osborne has been talking about the Tory economic policy and has launched a document calling for a "New Economic Model".


Now, what feckless idiot came up with that phrase? More so, why did no one stop and say "err guys, doesn't that sound a little bit like Lenin's 'New Economic Policy'?" or "Didn't one of Stalin's favoured economists Kuzminov write about a 'New Economic Model'?"

Just saying like.

Defaced Currency....

Ingenious and occasionally poor taste artwork.

More at americasgonebankrupt.com.

Do they really need to hire consultants?

This might seem like chicken feed to many, but am I alone in thinking "WTF?" when reading that the Royal Parks (an agency of the Department for Culture, media and Sports) spends a few hundred thousand a year on consultants?

The running total since 1999 is just shy of £6 million spent on consultants. What the hell are they providing to a free green spaces that costs so much? Research on the prime location for dog shit bins?

Source: Hansard

How annoying....

I find myself torn between opposing principles. On the one hand, I can't stand papal interference into the sovereignty of the UK - we had a Reformation after all primarily because of that.

However, on the other hand I do think that religious liberty, be it Christian, Muslim or whatever, should be exempt from equality laws in terms of faith-based principles and senior position within their organisations.

Ack! how annoying.

Monday, February 01, 2010

See a crime? Browse online?

The Government have launched yet another website, this time to allow you to report terrorist activity that you might find online and hate crimes. Mildly amusing to me at least is the fact that if you tick "Yes" to the first question it tells you to call 999 immediately.

Did someone really think that if someone saw a crime happening or someone's life was in danger they would be browsing to a website to report it?

Smokers more than pay their way don't they?

Apparently, the Government has a new strategy to halve the number of smokers, from 21 to 10 per cent of the population by 2020. This is, they say, to reduce the strain on the NHS because it cost £2.7bn to treat smokers. That's the smokers who contribute £10bn a year in taxes to the Government in case you were wondering.

I'd say smokers are more than covering the costs of their treatment.


 

dizzythinks.net is a participant in the Amazon Europe S.à.r.l. Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising programme designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.co.uk/Javari.co.uk.