What would Clement do?

A Labour blog that witters on about Clement Attlee. Hurrah for The Major!

Archive for the tag “David cameron”

The Return of Mr C

It seems that 2012 is the year of Olympic Omnishambles for the Coalition, and it keeps on coming.

Yesterday James Murdoch exploded a truth bomb at the Leveson Inquiry, and Vince Cable found out exactly how he was shafted, apparently by not only Jeremy (C)Hunt, but also George Osborne, David Cameron and Alex Salmond, to name but three.

It is highly likely that Jeremy will not be Culture Secretary for much longer. Yet it must not stop there, the documents implicate both George Osborne  and his advisor in secretly lobbying on behalf of News International, and against his own Cabinet colleague. Alex Salmond also rallied to the Murdoch standard, and unsurprisingly the Scottish edition of The Sun backs the SNP slavishly.

Many would also like to know the name of the “Libdem MP, a former Sky employee” mentioned as also lobbying for his former masters. I bet it isn’t Simon Hughes, but apart from that, all bets are off…

Throughout this scandal, Ed Miliband has played his hand well, acting on principle as well as with good instincts. His backing of Tom Watson does him and The Labour Party credit. He compares very favourably with, say the Mayor of London, who firstly called the hacking allegations “a Labour plot”, and has consistently sought to downgrade Operation Weeting and the associated corruption investigations. He and Kit Malthouse have behaved with naked self interest throughout.

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Government by “Come Dine With Me”…

So, as Dave Lamb prepares for his almost inevitable Shadow Cabinet post, what can we say about Cameron and Maudes’ attempts to make the cash for access scandal simply go away?

Well, getting a Tory peer to “look into it” is certainly not the best way to defuse a scandal involving the Tory party. The attempt to focus on Labours’ Union links might just work, if it wasn’t that Union donations were so legal and above board. After all, I doubt that Tesco, Barclays, BAe Systems etc would ever ballot their workforce to ask just how much of their profits they would like to donate to the Tory party.

In the interests of fairness and equal opportunities, I am giving David and Sam Cameron a chance to make amends. Take me and Lady P out to Byron in Islington Thursday night and we will say no more about it…

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Island of No Return – Revisited?

“Digging all day, digging all night,

To keep my foxhole out of site…”

In a month that I suppose we shall be naming “Maggie Memorial January”, it is perhaps sadly fitting that Argentinas claim to The Falklands is back in the news. Unfortunately, almost thirty years to the day since the invasion a Mr Cameron, who does Prime Minister impressions, has decided to rattle his trusty, rusty sabre at Mrs Kirchner, his counterpart in Buenos Aires. (Rumours that Madonna is already angling for the Film rights would be anyones guess…)

Well, we can only hope that cool heads will prevail, and while all this may blow over, it will probably not disappear for ever. It may be all good nostalgic fun for some, but history reminds us just how deadly these games can be.

“Pick up your feet, fall in, move out,

We’re going to a party way down South…”

The Falklands War is a huge part of the Thatcher Myth – itself the cornerstone of modern Conservative identity & thought. Just for the hell of it, lets take a look at some of the myths that The Immaculate Mis-Conception was built upon…

Myth One : Only Mrs Thatcher and her Tories were patriotic and brave enough to take on Galtieri and take back the Islands.

A downright lie. During the emergency debate in the Commons on 2nd April 1982, Michael Foot said:

“The people of the Falklands have an absolute right to look at us at this moment of their desperate plight… They are faced with an act of naked,unqualified aggression, carried out in the most shameful & disreputable circumstances. Any guarantee from this invading force is utterly worthless.” 

He was praised by Tories for having “spoken for the nation” (Hansard).

It was an alliance of Labour, Liberal and backbench Tory MPs that had prevented a 1981 Govt. measure to “lease back” The Falklands to Argentina, against the wishes of the Islanders themselves.

It was in effect two Tory measures that encouraged the Fascist junta in its belief that Britain would not fight. The 1981 Immigration Act took away full British Citizenship from all inhabitants of all UK Dependencies ( this measure was aimed at preventing mass immigration from Hong Kong before the Chinese takeover), and then there was what the ever amusing Alan Clarke described as “that fucking idiot John Nott and his spastic “Command Paper”  which is effectively running down the entire Royal Navy to keep the soldiers in Rhine Army happy.”

“…I never thought that I would be

Fighting Fascists in the Southern Sea…”

Myth Two: The Argentine invasion was a completely unexpected bolt from the blue.

Bilge. In 1977, Labour PM James Callaghan sent two Frigates and a Nuclear Sub to the South Atlantic with the minimum of fuss, to deter Argentina from invading. No war in 1977, but when intelligence sources repeated similar warnings in early 1982, they were ignored . this came out in the post War inquiry.

Far more worrying were the attempts by the Tory Govt and some of its MPs to sell arms and Naval ships to a military dictatorship which whom we had a long-standing territorial dispute. Around a year before the invasion, one junior Minister described the Argentina of torture, rape and “disappearances”, of baby snatching and electrodes, as ” allies in our common struggle against Communism” (by the by, Niall Ferguson stated on channel 4’s “Ascent of money” that these deaths were “worth it”)

“…Saw one today, and in his hands

Was a weapon that was made in Birmingham…”

Myth Three: Maggie (& Britain) stood alone, although Reagan supported us from a distance.

In fact, the first nation to wholeheartedly give their support was France, then run by Socialist President Mitterand. French help was vital – they supplied us with technical data and purchased numbers of both Super Etendard fighters and Exocet Missiles sold to Argentina, and, with co-operation between MI6 and their French opposites, they managed to prevent any spares for these reaching Argentina until well into 1983.

Despite the Maggie/Ronnie romance, the USA vacillated – after all, they did not want war between two of their favourite allies. Eventually, they came down on our side, but it was a close run thing.

Within the Cabinet, there were initially deep divisions as to whether we should go to war at all. It took The First Sea Lord barging in uninvited (in Full dress Uniform, no less) to finally swing the decision to liberate the Falklands. Up to this point, all that had been decided was to telephone the Americans.

“I wish Kipling & The Captain were here,

To record our pursuits for posterity…”

Myth Four:  Margaret Thatcher won The Falklands War.

No, it was won by the Servicemen and Merchant Seamen who fought, bled burned and died down in The South Atlantic.

This maybe just history, but with the next round of Defence cuts touted as reducing the Army by anything up to 8 Battalions, to no fixed-wing Aircraft Carrier until at least 2015, & further cuts to come, no wonder that the C-in-C of the 1982 Task Force, Admiral Woodward has said that “practically nothing” could be done to retake the Falklands today.

Argentina is designing and building new Amphibious ships, and upgrading its war fighting capability, given the parlous state of our defences, and the prospect of oil, Gas and Mineral deposits, maybe Cameron should be doing everything in his power to avoid his own “Falklands moment”.

After all, it would be tragic indeed if the Tories managed to lose the Falklands twice…

(Song lyrics by former Private Billy Bragg)

I Told You This Would Not Go Away…

Its been quite some time since I last posted, and I was considering stopping altogether. Yet with the News International phone hacking scandal  involving such a variety of the, ahem, “Great and the Good”, i just thought I would leave one post more…

So, Rebekah Brooks, having been arrested, will probably be able to dodge any awkward questions in Parliament, presuming that she is at liberty to attend either the Culture or Home Office Select Committees.

The head of The Met has lost his job, though not his pension, nor his Knighthood. Boris, of course, is waffling as only a former grub street hack can. Lets not forget that during his tenure as editor of The Spectator, he honed his investigative talents by getting old buffers drunk at lunchtime and publishing the results.

His refusal to apologise for calling the allegations against The News of the world “politically motivated codswallop” speaks volumes. He has managed in a trice to rehabilitate the image of Ken Livingstone in the eyes of those concerned by just how close the media and politicians are. Even John Prescott has been vindicated across the land…

And Ed… so far, the boy has done very well indeed. We now need o broaden the attack to include all those grubby little “special interest” cliques that dominate our public life.

My own experience of the Murdoch Empire is very slight, firstly my Great uncle Rab was father of Chapel when the Digger first bought The Sun. An upright, staunchly anti-graft FoC (he started when The Sun had been owned by the TUC as The Daily Herald), he was a bit of a rarity on Fleet Street in those days – honest, soft spoken and non-swearing. the family tale is that after twenty minutes with Rupert, he threw an inkwell at the wall and pronounced “for all the good you’ll do you might as well f@** off back to Australia”. Today, in heaven, Rab is doing a merry jig.

Secondly, a few years ago I was working in a bar near to Westminster, when a tallish grey haired man walked in, requesting our back room for himself and his colleagues. It was a quiet day, so no problem, and around six or seven suited men and women duly filed in, ordering some sandwiches and coffees for what was evidently a working lunch. All was duly prepaered and served, to the satisfaction of the party, and as they made to leave, the bill was presented.

Grey-Hair came up to the bar, disdain dripping from his very visage. He demanded that the bill be halved. When it was politely pointed out that he had seen the menu and prices before he ordered, his air of peevishness intensified, and he produced his business card. Sadly, its not one I have kept, although I seem to remember it did say “News International” at the top, and seem to recall the words “Legal Department”, or something to that effect, on it. The upshot was that I, to my eternal shame, caved in and reduced the bill and this upright example of our fine legal tradition got what he wanted.

Sadly, no names, no pack drill, but I was reminded of this with the exit  of the two top legal officers in Wapping last week, with generous payouts, that some might speculate could be seen as hush money. It also reinforced to me the utter contempt that those who work in News International and NewsCorp have for those of us not lucky enough to do the same.

Instead of offering unwanted advice to Tom Watson et al, all I can do is congratulate them for what they are doing on behalf of us all.

There are just some of the questions that we need answers to, to whit:

  • Just when did News International start paying The Metropolitan Police for information?
  • Where was this money stated in the accounts?
  • How stupid would a Policeman have to be to believe that £1,000 was all he could get for information on confidential Royal phone numbers? ( I would have held out for at least £10,000)
  • Will any Police, either serving or retired, who are fingered in the ongoing investigation lose their pension?
  • Just how many times in the past two years has Mayor Boris Johnson met with  the Murdoch family, employees of News International, and in the case of Rebekah Brooks, her husband Charles ( an old Etonian who was at school with Boris and David Cameron)?
  • The same question for both David Cameron and George Osborne, who recruited Andy Coulson to the Conservatives in 2007.
  • How deep are the links between News international and Robert Peston, who seems to get a staggering number of inside “scoops” here? 
  • If you have to spend a Christmas dinner with Rebekah Brooks, what do you talk about?
  • What does Inspector Gadget think about all this? Worried that that elusive Sky serialisation will disappear?

What can you expect from a one year old?

PMQs this afternoon – marking the first Birthday of our Coalition, and its “new Politics” (deceased 5th May).

Mr David Cameron (Con) spent much of his time avoiding the truth whilst making merry at the expense of Labours Scottish woes.

This is of prime importance to the nature of how we are governed in the future – ignoring the total collapse of the Conservative vote, and the losses suffered by his junior partners in Scotland, it seems that as far as he is concerned, the Union between England and Scotland is of minimal importance at best, unless he can use it to embarrass Labour.

Is it not time for The Conservative and Unionist Party to change its name to something snappier? How about UK-RIP???

MORE WEDDINGBALLS…

Everyone wishes Kate and Wills a wonderful day, and long, happy marriage. My auntie will be up from Cornwall on the big day, to celebrate with the millions who wish to celebrate with the happy couple.

Yet see how quickly apoplectic our ever loyal (bugging aside) media have become when it comes to the very thought of a small expression of free speech on the big day…

Camden Council have refused permission for a street party next Friday, perhaps the only council in England to do so. The party, organised by the pressure group Republic, was meant to be perhaps the one place in London on the 29th where those who are against the idea of monarchy (not the monarch herself) could gather and celebrate all that makes them proud of Britain in their way. Camden is nowhere near the procession, nor within yelling distance of  the great and the good.

Stung by recent mishandling of student protests and peaceful occupations, not to mention the Inquiry into the G2o 2009 protests in which Ian Tomlinson was killed, The Met are looking forward to using draconian powers to stop anyone they don’t like the look of from going to the parade.

Hands up anyone who either A; Trusts their judgement?

or B; Believes that these powers will be suspended after the wedding? 

Westminster Council will try to use its powers to stop soup kitchen deliveries in the area at least 48 hours before, and will no doubt try to enforce this permanently. I doubt that Kate and William would see this as a fitting tribute – hungry homeless people, but there you go, its not their fault.

A tiny number of Anarchists may try to demonstrate on the day, apparently “spoiling it for everyone” by exercising their (and your) democratic rights. But hold on – we have a long tradition of protests at national events;

During George V’s Silver Jubilee, East London Young Communists hung a banner over the procession route proclaiming “Twenty-Five Years Of Hunger And War” – a fair point in 1935.

In 1977, The Sex Pistols’ “God Save The Queen” reached number two in the charts, possibly number one if the conspiracy theories could ever be proved correct. I was six at the time, and busy waving the Union Flag and eating ice cream…

At the wedding of Charles and Diana, one left wing weekly had the headline “Big Ears Marries Noddy” – the best front page they ever had.

The Coalition are using this event to their own ends – the cuts are provoking a great deal of anger, so this wedding is being used as a cover to throw our liberties in the dustbin. No doubt this bunch of inadequates will also be using the week to push through nasty legislation that they know we won’t like.

The Tories used Andrew and Fergies’ happy day to get the Poll Tax on the statute books. 

The shenanigans surrounding this binge are evermore tawdry, and a day of happiness is being turned into a day of awkward shame by Dave, Nick and Boris. Thank goodness they will have no say in mine and Lady Ps…

CEASEFIRE IN LIBYA!!!

In the wake of last night’s U.N. security Council resolution 1973 ordering a No-Fly Zone to be implemented, Gadaffis Government has called an immediate ceasefire against the rebels. This is excellent news.

As so often in the last few months, events are moving too fast to keep up with everything, but with the threat of international action (France has pledged action within hours), the tyrant is shown to have little support, and few options if he wants to save his own skin.

Shame on Russia, China, Germany and India!

Yet the flipside of this fantastic news can clearly be seen in Bahrain, where Saudi troops are brutally repressing democracy without any interference from any western leader. Perhaps there is just too much money at stake for Cameron and Co to notice the blood in Pearl Square?

Is This Justice???

Over the past two weeks, David Cameron has been feeling rather unwell, or “sick to my stomach” as he puts it. The source of his affliction has apparently been identified as a Court in Strasbourg, where it has been proposed that prisoners should be given the vote, and that those on the Sex Offenders Register might have the right to appeal.

Leaving aside voting rights for prisoners, which I am not at all sure about myself, the right to appeal needs looking into. At the moment anyone who commits any sexual offence is placed on the Register for life, regardless of circumstances.

The recent case in the South West is one example, and given what we know, it seems a reasonable outcome.

However, the following fictitious case would cause the same result:

A young woman of 18 years has sex at a party with a fifteen year old boy. The boys parents find out, and outraged, take the matter to the Police. Under due process of Law, the young woman is found guilty and serves a sentence. Upon leaving custody, she is now marked for life as a Sex Offender.

Now the right of appeal is not an automatic method of wiping names of the guilty off a list, but it would be compassionate, just, and ultimately wise if it was there to protect those who are unfairly bracketed with serial child abusers and child pornographers.

Not to Mr Cameron, nor his equally “sick” allies.

Death And Taxes – Part One…

It used to be said that you could avoid everything in life except these two constants. Since Margaret Thatcher came to power however, the situation has become a little different…

In the 32 years since Margaret Thatcher came to power, and more spectacularly since the “Big Bang” in The City in 1987, what was once a shady corner of Finance has become a major activity worldwide – “Tax Optimisation”, or Tax Avoidance to you and me.

Simply put, the rich and big businesses, whether Barclays Bank, TopShop or Tesco use legal loopholes and financial skulduggery to avoid paying taxes that you or I cannot avoid. If you run a small business, or manage an outlet for a large company, please be warned that the following may lead you to never voting Tory again…

Historically, the Thatcher/Lawson years were a watershed, with the burden of taxation moved from  progressive Income Tax with more paid the more you earn to consumption-based taxes such as VAT, which had its scope moved from” luxury” goods to more and more of the basics of life. Now taxes on consumption may not always be a bad thing, but as a proportion of income, they hit those on middle and poorer incomes at a greater rate than they do the rich. Simply put, you can only consume so much. By 1987, according to statistics released by The Treasury, the burden of taxation was exactly the same as it had been in 1979 – 33%, but it had been shifted down to the lower earning brackets.

It took John Majors’ Government to further reduce the Income Tax bands, so that the higher rate of tax was only 40%. Even under Lawson, there had been a marginal rate of 60% for the very rich corporation tax was also lowered throughout the period, to make Britain a “haven for foreign investment”, along with plenty of our money paid as sweeteners to multinationals to come here. And there it has stayed. One of the major failures of New Labour was its insistence on following Conservative economic policies that hurt those in the middle and below, whilst fawning over those in clover. For all the good done over the past thirteen years reducing Child Poverty, refunding the NHS and Education, our party could, and should have done more.

One of the worst areas of inaction was over closing tax loopholes used by the wealthy to avoid even low rates of tax. So in awe of the rich were Blair, Brown and Mandleson, that they gave peerages to people such as Fred Goodwin, then Head of RBS, Philip Green at TopShop and their international guru, Alan Greenspan.

The international super-rich flocked to Mayfair, Kensington and Chelsea, much to the chagrin of the merely very rich City types, who moaned loudly that they could now “only” afford to live in Richmond or Barnes; oh how we did not weep for them. But in spite of  everything done for them, they wanted more. The Billionaires from India, Russia, and China had moved here because their “non-dom” status meant that they could pay almost no tax whatsoever, and homegrown tycoons followed suit. as Robert Peston mentioned in his book about the crash, TopShops boss, Sir Philip Green gets his salary paid to his wife, who for tax purposes is based in Monaco. He is not alone. More worryingly, he is an advisor to the present Government on Business Affairs. This is not just an economic outlook, but also a moral one, as ex-City millionaire David Laws, who was sacked for fiddling £40,000 out of the public purse last year, looks set to rejoin the Government in some position this April.

Yet the Government is unlikely to do much without outside pressure, as a Cabinet with a high proportion of ex-City types, such as Chris Huhne, and sons of stockbrokers such as David Cameron make all the right noises to placate the rich, whilst telling us that “we are all in this together”. Recently it came to light that since 2005, donations to the Tory Party from City sources had reached over fifty percent of its total funding – many from the very hedge fund managers who got us in this mess whilst avoiding taxes here. In January, at the annual Black and White party ( they daren’t call it a ball anymore), secure in Battersea Park, City Internships were auctioned-off to the highest bidder, in aid off Tory Party funds. Perhaps this is the “Big Society”? A short walk away are some of the roughest and most deprived estates in London.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson was also in attendance, and as many have noted, has spent much of the past year or so loudly protesting that we must stop “bashing Bankers” over the billions of our money we had to throw at them to save the system. Let us not forget that in 2009 he publicly decried his £250,000 per year stipend from The Daily Telegraph as mere “chickenfeed”. It seems we have not a Mayor for all of London, but TWO Lord Mayors of The City of London…

(Part Two to follow soon…)

Ham-Faced Spam Robot Strikes Again!

AAAARRRGGGHHHH!!!! Woke up this morning to hear Cameron telling us plebs just why AV is sooo bad for us…

  1. Apparently, we are all too thick to use anything else other than a cross on a ballot paper. (Well, future generations may be, after Govey’s education reforms…)
  2. It is not always proportional – unlike, of course, First Past The Post.
  3. Other Parties may gain seats at the expense of the two main parties. (Note to Dave – yes, thats what voters want, you freak.)
  4. Some peoples votes would be counted twice (eh???). It is much better to keep a system whereby less than 2% of all votes decided the last election…
  5. Err… thats it.

Come off it Tory boy, you and The Taxpayers Alliance can take a running jump.

For a more considered rebuttal of the Eton Trifle, see George Eaton in The New Statesman –

http://www.newstatesman/blogs/the-staggers/2011/02/cameron-point-system-hung

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