Thursday, 28 May 2009

More Evidence of a Gordon Brown/Royal Family Rift?

There have been odd rumours in the past weeks that the MPs expenses scandal is somehow linked to a rift between the Queen and Gordon Brown. First there was her madge having audiences with the Govenor of the Bank of England to chat about his public concerns over the economy, then Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup (Chief of the Defence Staff) on the same day. (Both meetings incedentally, reported at the time by the BBC, but seemingly buried so deep that their search engine can't find them). All this while Gordo was jaunting round the world prior to the G20 summit. Then Gordo fired a salvo back by releasing plans for constitutional reform. The rumour was her madge allegedly brought the big guns to bear with the expenses scandal, mainly because of the presence of military and establishment in the shadows.

Now we have this. Gordon Brown will be attending the D-Day anniversary as our sole representative. Neither her Majesty nor Prince Phillips will be in attendence, despite them being amongst those that lived through and participated in the defence of Britain.

I await the retort of the Royal 15 inchers with anticipation.


Here's the timeline, read of this what you will:

24/03/09 PM leaves on G20-saving journey.

24/03/09 Mervyn King publicly releases concerns over economy & public spending

24/03/09 Queen meets Mervyn King and Jock Stirrup

25/03/09 Gordon Brown denies split with Bank of England.

26/03/09 Tony McNulty expenses made public. (probably the leak of expenses sample info during negotiations before they were eventually given exclusively to the Telegraph).

27/03/09 Gordon Brown releases details of constitutional reform

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

MPs at risk of suicide

It's been widely reported for the past few weeks that MPs are so worried about the expenses scandal, that they are contemplating suicide.


Fill your boots guys and girls. I have no sympathy with someone feeling sorry for themselves just because the flow of pounds they had been pocketing on the Westminster gravy train has trickled to a halt. How dare you try and make me feel guilty, when the guilt is all yours.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

David Cameron: Yes he has.

Ok, thats enough Dave, you've gone past the point of credibility, you're now into incredulity and pushing the boundaries of, well, that point in politics where you go past incredulity and enter the world of rampant opportunism.

I blogged yesterday that his plans for more public accountability and interaction regarding Conservative candidates should be taken with a healthy dose of scepticism. Seems I'm right, because some of the proposals he's making wouldn't be countenanced in a million years.

I'd like to be proven wrong, but for three days now Cameron has each day tried to outdo the previous day's proposals, in order to grab headlines and put himself in the news. I don't for one minute envisage those proposals would be honoured if the Conservatives got in power.

When Cameron first took the Conservative leadership, I thought he looked like a clone of Tony Blair, with a hint of blue. Well, from what I can see, it he's an almost perfect replica, now using the Blairite "aspirational" formula to grab headlines.

Up until now I've been a floating voter. Up until now, the Conservatives were looking likely to get my vote. Right now, it looks highly unlikely that I will put a cross in their box. I want a clean sweep of Parliament, I don't want Blair MkII.

As for the Lib-Dems, it seems that they are using a slightly poorer Blair clone in the form of Nick Clegg, so they're going to miss out on my vote too.

So much for political diversity.

Monday, 25 May 2009

David Cameron: Has he gone too far?

I suspect that David Cameron's latest plans to reform his party's politics may be a step too far for many in his local constituency parties.

Its a set of nice proposals which the public at large (including myself) would agree with (especially as picking ordinary people with real-life experience is something I heartily agree with), but I just can't see the local Conservative rank-and-file accepting just any old tom dick or harry as their local candidate, nor allowing anyone and everyone to have a say who gets nominated.

I think the problem with any prospective parliamentary candidate now is that they are going to have to be so squeaky clean, they won't have the breadth of life experience to make the right choices.

Take myself for instance: Initially my CV looks good:

Never been in trouble with the Police, never taken drugs, Father of a disabled son who knows the difficulties of getting support, with a wife who is a carer for autistic adults who knows the value of public service, a petrol-head that wants to continue the freedom of current transport levels in an environmental way, but without clobbering the motorist in extra tax (see my thoughts on hydrogen technology), a person who remembers the mess of the seventies, got made redundant at the start of the Thatcher era, but remembers the enabling network the Tories put in place to drag myself up to be an I.T. contractor, only to have Labour come in, make things harder and wind up unemployed, looking after my disabled son who Labour can't support despite pumping extra billions into the system, I believe in equality both racial and sexual, I believe in empowerment and enablement.

However, my bad points are: Close links to alternative sexuality, i.e the BDSM lifestyle, with an ex-wife ready to supply details to waiting newspapers. I'm a global-warming sceptic, I swear far too much, I have an annoying, whiny voice (although that didn't stop Ken Livingstone did it?), I'm for the legalisation of prostitution, because I believe feminism and equality for women means they should have the choice and empowerment to do anything they want, not to be classed as or forced into being victims all the time.

But you see my point: those that have a breadth of experience and lifestyle choices aren't going to be squeaky clean. They will have a fair bit of baggage that will be picked over by the press.

In the end it boils down to leadership. I just wonder if Dave Cameron has that leadership quality to rise up to the challenge, grow a pair and really stick with this proposal.

Hmm, maybe I should apply. I'd like Sir Peter Viggers' ward in Gosport please, as it's just down the road from me. I down't own any ducks, just a few tropical fish, which don't cost and arm and a leg to keep. I rent a house, so the ACA would come in really handy for getting me on the property ladder.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Has the Labour Government Actually Governed?

The more I think about it, the more I'm unable to give a positive answer to the question "Did the Labour government govern for the past 12 years?"

The reason being, I don't see anything substantial in the "governing" department over the past 12 years at all.

Sure, Gordon Brown liked us to believe he was a successful Chancellor, but more and more it looks like he rode the crest of a wave of unsustainable debt and less it looks like he actually governed the boom times. Tony Blair wanted us all to think he was a great leader, but his legacy seems to be soundbites and spin.

The huge, ballooning national debt, a legacy that our children and grandchildren will be paying off, is a sure sign of a government that can't govern. A strong government would take the tough decisions and reduce expenditure. Its what we all do in tough times. Instead our government borrows and spends in some blind hope it might be able to buy itself more seats at the next election.

You could argue that tax credits were government in action. But is that really true? There's an argument to be had that it was all a result of dogmatic policy and a desire to create new Northern Jobs in the tax credits call centres, not governing to benefit the country. Certainly the inept tax credits system shows that very little thought was put into the process of governing its inception.

Are ASBOs government? Or are they the result of soundbite politics, pandering to the chattering classes? Certainly there's an argument that they do little to deter those hardened offenders. In fact ASBOs are more like a badge of infamy and are worn with pride amongst the underclass. Again, if the policy was governed, wouldn't there be some oversight of the system to ensure it actually did what it set out to do?

Was the peace in Ireland a sign of governance? No, it was started by John Major's government, so Labour can't claim that as a sign of their governance.

Are the bank bailouts a sign of governance? Well, no, because if we had good governance, then the tripartate arrangement that regulated the fianancial sector wouldn't have allowed the problem to get so out of control. Certainly a good, prudent government wouldn't panic and lob hundreds of billions of pounds into a bottomless hole in an unplanned shambles. Good governance wouldn't have let the bank bosses like Fred Goodwin get away with such huge pensions.

The losses of personal data in government departments like the HMRC shows a lack of hands-on awareness and governance.

The Iraq War; was that governed well? Er, not really, because soldiers were sent into battle too hastily with shortages of kit which resulted in needless deaths, after the war was won, there were no plans for the peace. The whole thing was set in motion by a lie and really we went into it on the coat-tails of the Americans. So I can't see much in the way of governance there either.

Afghanistan is another conflict we followed the Americans into. No good government would throw soldiers into the meat grinder that is Afghanistan. Ask the Russians what they think about the place. No army of occupation has been successful there. Certainly there aren't enough troops on the ground to be decisive, so its really an unfortunate example of our inept government.

The Balkans: Ah, now there's a conflict we went into and won and showed great leadership and courage. Well, no. Because we went in under the auspices of the U.N. you can't call it great leadership when we were effectively dragged our heels for months before the U.N. got us involved.

Europe: Labour took us deeper into Europe and gave us closer economic, legal and political ties with our European neighbours. Surely thats a lasting legacy and a sure sign that our government made policy and stuck with it. You could say that, but then the evidence suggests capitualtion and a sign that our government just rolled over and accepted everything that Europe decreed, lessening the status of our sovereignty, legislature and executive rather than debate and fight our corner. They also denied us a promised referendum, which shows a distinct lack of conviction (i.e. they knew they wouldn't win). So Null Points to the government on Europe.

Has immigration been governed well? Er, no. If the government can't tell us how many legal and illegal immigrants are in the country and still fails to stop uncontrolled immigration, then immigration can't have been and still isn't being governed. At all.

Anti-terror legislation is an area where the government has taken the lead surely? Yes, but they cocked it up as they have with so many things. Anti-terror law should work against terrorists, not allow councils to snoop on people's bins. Especially when people in cahoots with known terrorists get off scot free, but people who put the wrong bin out get prosecuted. I think Anti-terror legislation gets marked as an epic fail.

Has government been decisive? Again, no. There are any number of projects and policies that have wasted billions over the 12 years in plans, investigations, committees and litigation only to eventually get abandoned for one reason or another. Examples being Titan Jails and the immigration detention centres. I'm sure eco-towns will be added to that list eventually.

As the whole sorry edifice crumbles around Whitehall and beyond, the lasting legacy of this government seems to be there is no legacy. Certainly not one to be proud of. Illegal war, inflated house prices, financial collapse, state dependancy, low educational standards, MP's expenses, House of Lords corruption, the rise of the Intrusive state, the politicisation of the Police, run-away spending on IT and MOD projects, increased child poverty, uncontrolled immigration, etc. etc.

Do you see what I'm getting at here? I'm at a loss to pinpoint a policy, a place, a sign in the whole 12 years that you can say that this Labour government actually governed. Sure, they rolled with the punches, reacted to situations man-made and natural, but just where is the legacy, the foresight, the planning, the defining character that stamps the seal of this government on its 12 years of office? Just when did they ever get a grip on something and sort it, satisfactorily?

I for one, can't see it.