What would Clement do?

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

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“…No more apologies…”

“… I’m so tired,

I’m so sick and tired…”

Our apology for a Government seems to be spending much of its time saying “sorry” at the moment.  And, just like Morrissey, I experiencing a distinct increase in my level of fatigue with them.

Firstly, Little Nicky pops up to make us all feel his pain on youtube, saying sorry for promising something he could not deliver, and for in fact doing the opposite on tuition fees. The instant auto-tuned hit has been an enormous flop in terms of convincing non Lib Dems that they are anything other than a puddle of yellow water on the steps of number ten.

Clegg was using a mix of two political techniques, borrowed from two other progressive leaders:

 Firstly he used the “Blair Gambit” – “hey, I am a decent guy who had to make a tough choice in hard times, but I am a pretty straight guy…’ 

Secondly, he employed what has become known as “The Clinton defence” – “Y’all caught me out, aw shucks, I’ll never do it again, and I feel your pain – please, feel mine. Can I give you a hug? Can we forget about it?”

Most interestingly, his apology was less for introducing an increase of £9,000 in student fees, and more for promising to eventually abolish them. In essence, Clegg is saying that his mistake was to propose and campaign for a progressive measure. Breathtaking cynicism. Employing the techniques pilfered from “the fornicator in chief” and possibly the most mistrusted and reviled British politician of recent times – lets see how that works out for you Nicky…

 And then we have Andrew (Grant) Mitchell. Oh dear. Not good Mr Mitchell, not good at all. Up until last week, most of us believed that the Conservatives were in a committed relationship with Ms. Laura Norder, although they may have had the odd fling with that G4S hussy. Apparently no more, “the Bobby on the Beat” has become “the pleb at the gate”. Step forward Mitchell, and display the fruits of your expensive education…

 … Andrew Mitchell used that other weapon in modern political  warfare, the “Non Apology Apology”. Used often over the years by GW Bush, Hilary “misspeak” Clinton and over here by Peter Mandelson. Manfully, he stepped in front of the news cameras to say, in effect ” I never said that, but I am very sorry for the things I never said.” Of course you are Andrew, of course you are…

A word to the wise Andrew, try not to swear at Policemen, however hard your day has been. They tend to have notebooks in which to write stuff down, and as Leveson is proving, access to the media. As anyone who has been on a demonstration in the past thirty years knows, or as any Football fan could tell you, they tend to get a bit narky when insulted…

In general, politicians, like the rest of us, do make mistakes – most of them are human after all. Of course, sometimes an apology is welcome, and a useful part of the process, yet in these cases the words do not ring true.

Much of the left has spent years shouting loudly at Tony Blair, demanding that he apologise for Iraq and Afghanistan, and that he should then be put on trial. Blair refuses to apologise because he does not believe that he was wrong – to my mind he is right not to, as it would be a palpable lie in this case.

In any case, since the Clinton era of misdemeanour-lie-apology-next misdemeanour -apology ad infinitum, the tactic of simply using a form of words to cover your ass is devalued.

Part of Nick Clegg’s problem here is that his version of the Coalition narrative no longer rings true to many who voted or campaigned for him in 2010. Mathematically, the only stable coalition was between the two partners in Government now, but there were other alternatives. Firstly, a minority Tory Government, backed on a looser “confidence and supply” basis by the Lib Dems, secondly, and more interestingly, there was the never discussed option for another General Election.

It is fairly obvious as to why no party would want this – they had just spent all their cash on the original campaign. However what did the voters want? The hung parliament indicates that it did not want the Tories to run the country, and did not want Labour to continue in the old way. Nick Clegg and the Orange Bookers bottled their chance, scared, as was everybody else, by what could possibly happen in the global markets should another election (that is, actually asking us what we think again). 

 I doubt we will ever get an apology for this… 

 

 

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MUSICAL CHAIRS (YAWN)

Well, the reshuffle went well didn’t it? After all, the purpose of most team changes in modern politics is to get political nerds and journalists to concentrate on personalities, not policy. Mr Cameron has certainly managed that, after a fashion.

Sadly for the Coalition, there seems to be a paucity of talent and personality on the Treasury benches, and this is after only two years – hardly enough time for the attrition of government to wear the LibCons down…

Like the Budget, the 2012 reshuffle may very well be a gift that keeps on giving to the Coalitions’ opponents, internal as well as external.

Every decision made by every Prime Minister will have its supporters and detractors, yet it is astounding that on a day when the right wing strengthened its grip on power in Whitehall, David Cameron was attacked by the most popular Tory in Britain (& part time Mayor of London), Boris Johnson. Oh, and Iain Dale. The day before, David Davis put the boot into George Osborne over the economy. As it happens, many Lib Dems are also increasingly upset with “The Greenest Government Ever”, and its new fracking-friendly Ministers. It would seem that “The Ship of State” is not a happy one.

Little wonder that Tory supporters have gleefully jumped on the non-story that Wallace and Gromit do not always agree (gee, thanks SPADS).

Policy wise this is a huge disaster for the majority of us outside Westminster;

  • A Health Minister who believes the NHS is an “irrelevance”, yet puts his faith in Homeopathy.
  • Iain Duncan Smith secure at DWP with Esther McVeigh.
  • Expenses cheat David Laws rehabilitated and given Education.
  • “Woodentop” Gove still in place.
  • Kenneth Clarke shifted into number ten as a “wise head” – or Official Government Bagpuss impersonator.
  • Vince Cable further isolated at DTI, with only memories and a packet of Humbugs for comfort.

This game of musical chairs signals several things. Firstly, the “liberal” wing of the Tory party, to which our Prime Minister allegedly belongs, is pretty dead in the water. Secondly, even when Cameron panders to the right wing, they are not placated. They won’t be satisfied until there is a majority Tory Government, and until that time, Cameron will be under increasing pressure.The Liberal Democrats have in no way been placated by bringing David Laws back into the Cabinet, if anything quite the reverse.

After two years in power, many LDs are increasingly dissatisfied with this particular civil partnership, although there are a few Orange Bookers who may very well be considering a full-blown marriage. It means that between them, Ham Face and Little Nicky dare not, indeed cannot move either Duncan Smith or Cable, for fear of backbench rebellion.

Personnel changes in Government are supposed to revitalise policy and presentation. Unfortunately for HMG, in this Olympic and Jubilee year, dithering Cameron and Clegg have failed to do so. 

JUST A QUESTION…

Does Sarah Teather always look like that? Or does someone always fart just before she goes on camera?

Boris’ Best Mates – Number Two: KIT MALTHOUSE…

Residents of Pimlico in Westminster will probably remember Kit Malthouse as the Tory Deputy Leader of Westminster Council who agreed to reducing the amount Dame Shirley Porter should have payed for her part in the “Homes for Votes” fraud and gerrymandering scandal from £42 million to just £12.3 million. It still took the Tesco Heiress until 2004 to cough up, after first fleeing to Israel.

So it may have seemed surprising that Boris Johnson chose someone so lenient towards criminal behaviour to become his Deputy Mayor in charge of Policing. Is it at all possible that there was a deeper agenda here???

2008 – Kit and Boris engineer the ousting of Met Commissioner Sir Ian Blair. In response to Blair’s offer to stay on until a suitable candidate is found, the national press reports that he was told not to bother, as;

We don’t want a successor appointed. We will have an acting arrangement until a Conservative Home Secretary arrives.

2009 – Step forward Sir Paul Stephenson, manfully into the breach, who must not have got the message because less than a year later he and Sir Hugh Orde, President of ACPO are publicly complaining of political interference and the politicisation of the police, specifically The Met. Apparently Kit had been boasting to hacks that London Conservatives now had their “hands on the tiller” of The Metropolitan Police Service.

2011 – After a decent interval, and in no way connected to the quote above, the Conservative Home Secretary appoints Bernard Hogan-Howe as Met Commissioner. Transparent eh? Still, Sir Paul got the top pension, so no hard feelings.

This makes for three Commissioners in four years, an unprecedented turnover in what is not only Britain’s largest Police Service, but also a key post in UK Counter Terrorism. Anyone notice 2012 coming up? Olympics? Diamond Jubilee? Anyone??? Bernard, do you feel safe in the hot seat?

We can all agree at least, that the past four years have been very interesting times for The Service:

April 2009 – G20 Protests. Ian Tomlinson unlawfully killed. Boris describes press coverage as “an orgy of cop bashing”. The trial of PC Simon Harwood for manslaughter will begin on June 13th 2012.

2010 –  Anti fees Protests. The Met fail to protect Tory Central Office at Milbank, a predictable target for protesters. Subsequently their tactics lead to accusations of brutality, with further use of the disputed “kettling” tactic. Parliament Square becomes a battleground.

May 2011 – TUC Anti Cuts Demo.  201 arrested, 66 injured, including 31 police. Police arrest the non-violent UK UNCUT protesters at Fortnums, whilst leaving the violent anarchists to have at The Ritz.

2011- The Riots. Neither Johnson nor Malthouse emerge until all is safe. Dozens of police injured, yet eyewitnesses talk of Police reluctance to actually protect life and limb.Would this have been different if the riots had been in Mayfair?

2012 – Twelve officers so far referred to IPCC inalledged racist incidents.

2006 – Ongoing – News International Hacking and Bribery scandal. Both Kit and Boris have been vocal in calling for these investigations to be downgraded. Boris called it “a Labour Plot”.

And now some figures:

  • Police numbers 2010 – 33,260 :    2011 – 32,380    DOWN NEARLY ONE THOUSAND

Detection rates for 2010/11 (Home Office figures)

  • VIOLENCE AGAINST THE PERSON –  London  35%  : England & Wales- 44%
  • BURGLARY DETECTION RATE –            London  11%  :  E&W – 13%
  • ROBBERY DETECTION RATE    –            London  17%  :  E&W – 21%
  • SEXUAL OFFENCES  RATE –                     London 23%  :  E&W – 30%
Kit Malthouse is standing for the GLA in West Central against a his nearest rival, Labour’s Todd Foreman. If you, like me, are seriously worried by the way that Malthouse and Johnson have further politicised our Police Service, then I suggest that you vote for Todd.
To Properly ensure that Kit Malthouse has no power over The Met on May 4th, I advise all Green and Liberal Democrats to vote for Ken Livingstone as your second preference in the Mayoral contest.

MESSAGE TO GIDEON – ITS YOUR ECONOMICS, STUPID!

So today Britain is officially back in recession. This is no time for shallow politicking, people have no confidence that things will get better any time soon, and millions of us are frantically chasing work. Somehow we manage to have the Olympics, a housing crisis, a major infrastructure deficit and STILL the construction sector leads the way for economic downturn.

It is time for Gideon and Dave to admit what many of us have known for some time, that Plan A is not working, that the cuts have been too far and too fast, whilst tax reductions for the super rich were simply not appropriate at this time. This Coalition is making the ordinary people of the UK pay for an economic crisis caused by unregulated finance and thirty three years of monetarist dogma. The very rich men who agreed to come together in May 2010 to restore the nation’s finances have now proved not to be the economic geniuses that they claimed to be. They pretty much look like a bunch of shysters on the make.

In Scotland, News Internationals First Minister plays fast and loose with the essential economic truth, namely that Scotland’s economy is too tied to that of Wales and England to have any chance of independent recovery. His fictional “Arc of prosperity” disappeared when Iceland and Ireland went bust, yet he is content to take the odd pot shot at the rest of us, whilst the public works north of the border are still largely funded from Whitehall. For all his bumptiousness, at least it gives us a ready made argument against the Growth Deniers – publicly funded projects can save jobs and keep mopey flowing into an economy, austerity has now been proved to do the opposite.

By contrast Ed M and Ed B (or Wallace and Gromit) are looking more credible each day. At PMQs today Ed pretty much wiped the floor with Cameron, and Balls has been slowly destroying Whyborns economic credibility for months now. It seems that Gordon Brown was right back in 2010 – it really wasn’t time for a bunch of novices.

 

…NEWS FROM SOMEWHERE…

By: Our Staff Liar –

In a shock outburst this week, a fictitious source close to Nick Clegg announced that he was “unavailable” for comment, for discussion, or indeed for anything other than helping Samantha Cameron around the house.

Sources close to the Prime Monster’s other partner mentioned “doing the ironing, cleaning the bathroom, oh, and we need more Hobnobs.” as a fair summation of Mr Cleggs’ enhanced role.

Meanwhile, fibbers close to Danny Alexander, the Scottish Annoyance at The Treasury declared  him to be “pleased” on being declared “More annoying than Alex Salmond” by a leading made-up focus group…*

In other party of my imagination, Chris Huhne has been spotted doing a merry jig to the demise of Silvio Berlusconi. This long awaited retirement places the dull Huhne at last in the top ten of Western Europes’ leading political philanderers, ahead of that bearded LibDem who likes Eastern European assistants for their brains. ” For years everyone thought I was the dull one” said Huhne, “Well now I’m the dull one who left his wife by text.”

* One source from the group was quoted – “Its not that he’s Scottish, or that he’s ginger, its because he is Danny Alexander – he just stands there, two feet behind George Osborne with a slight smirk on his pasty face.” Said the anonymous Mr Kennedy.

 

So, what would Theresa May do about Paddington?

Yes, I am wasting an afternoon, but I just do not care:

In the light of her past comments over the issue of, should we worry about some of our best loved children’s TV characters?

Seriously, Paddington Bear for example – an illegal immigrant from darkest Peru, frequently in trouble with the authorities. Must be a bad ‘un.

The Wombles? Eco squatters the lot of them. Baton rounds at dawn, led by London’s Mayor and Sheriff…

Bagpuss ? Well he is safely ensconced in the Treasury, under the watchful eye of young Gideon… just be careful he doesn’t wake up.

Ivor the Engine? Probably on strike, we all prefer cars anyway.

Beaker from the Muppets? Say, where is Danny Alexander anyway?

The Thompson Twins? Busy running the country – badly…

 

I promise to find something else to do, honest…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Little Nicky and the Tribalists.

So today, after keeping schtumm for the whole campaign, Nick Clegg wades in with a fairly coherent op-ed article in The Telegraph. So far, so good – a reasonable, reasoned argument for reform, in Britains’ most august Tory daily.

Sadly, he followed this up with a massively partisan and mendacious attack  on the Labour Party with his follow-up speech at the Institute for Public Policy Research. Little Nicky simply repeated Osborns canard that Labour would have cut only £2bn less than The Coalition is doing. This would be fine if we were still fighting the May 2010 election, but that was a year ago. It completely ignores the changes made on economic policy by both Ed Miliband and Ed Balls. It also ignores the economic facts of life.

Unemployment – In the last quarter of 2010, this fell by just 12,000 (0.1%). At the same time, our GDP fell by 0.5%, apparently this was caused by snow in December – a previously unheard of event. In Barak Obamas USA, under a radically different economic regime to the austerity we suffer, unemployment fell by 1 Million (1%), and in the last quarter of 2010, their GDP ROSE by 0.8%.

YEAR-ON- YEAR, OUR ECONOMY HAS SHRUNK BY 1.5% UP UNTIL MARCH 2011! WELL DONE GIDEON!!!

The OECD, which Osborn so often quotes as supporting him, has issued the following economic forescasts for GDP over the next two years:

                               USA            UK

2011                      2.2%          1.5%

2012                     3.1%           2.0%

So, in the midst of a Referendum Campaign, when it is imperative that ALL Party members who support change work together, why has Clegg thrown such a massive spanner in the works? The cynical answer could be that he is intent on sabotaging his own cause, on the basis that he doesn’t really want it, and it was only a sop to his activists anyway.

Could it be Coalition loyalty? Possibly,but for the life of me, I cannot credit the Cabinet Office stipulating that he preface a call for electoral reform with an attack on a party who’s supporters need to be won over.

No, I believe that in essence, for Nick, this is simply politics as usual. For all the guff about “new politics”, up and down the country, anyone involved in local politics knows just how nasty the Lib Dems can play. From personal insults to pretend innocence, the centre party of British debate plays rough, whilst appearing doe-eyed before us.

“Who me?” They cry, whilst dressed like a harlot in a Wedding Dress. Not only this, but certainly the Orange Bookers have swallowed whole the economic nonsense that passes for thought in the pages of the Daily Mail.

Let me state this as clearly and simply as I can; Austerity following the kind of recession we have seen leads to more unemployment. Higher unemployment leads to lower wages for those in work, to smaller tax receipts, and more austerity. It is a downward spiral leading to a car boot sale economy. And Nick Clegg thinks this is a good idea. 



A BUDGET FOR WHO???

This weeks’ Budget, courtesy of the 14th Earl of Whyborne, has been lauded to the skies by the hard of understanding…

…Or as I like to think of them, Monetarists. The lack of imagination, and of any long-term goals other than dismantling the NHS, do not give me any confidence in Gideons’ old Maths Tutor. Then again, what should we expect from a man who dodges £1.6 million in tax whilst telling the rest of us to “pull together”?

Lets just examine a few measures here, for the sake of general interest…

  1. “The Sun Says Yippee! – 1p off fuel duty!” Yes, and there will be a rise of 5p in 2012.
  2. Tobacco duty up by 2% above inflation. Giving a welcome shot in the arm to the smuggling industry.
  3. An increase in Premiums Tax means that the cost of insurance rises – just as the Government wants us to take out private health insurance.
  4. A three year freeze in Child Benefit – so thats a decrease in light of inflation.
  5. The tax on Beer now exceeds £1.00 per pint. Britain’s vibrant Pub and Brewing industries salute you – not.
  6. National Insurance up 1% for us, but not for Employers.
  7. Personal Tax allowance up by £50 per month in April 2012. With the rises in the cost of living over the last twelve months, let alone the next year, this will at best give you £5 extra a month in your pocket.
  8. Council Tax frozen or reduced in EVERY English Council – regardless of the real needs of those communities.
  9. A return of the Enterprise Zone. Thatchers great sticking-plaster of the 1980s, that made little long-term difference to the areas blighted by her recession of the early 1980s. Anyone off to see Liverpool Garden Festival?

For this budget to work, the UK economy has to grow by around three percent each year until at least 2015. This is quite a lot, if we look at our history over he last forty years. It could happen, as the worldwide economy is tenuously starting to revive. Yet massive public spending cuts and redundancies will cost the exchequer dear, and reduce income from taxation – it could lead us into another recession, rather than digging us out of one.

And there is another point. Gideon and his gofer Danny Alexander have done precious little to curb the outrageous levels of  speculation in The City, nor have they come up with the kind of regulation needed to prevent, or at least limit the kind of crash we saw in 2008.

Long term, our economy is seriously unbalanced – with finance far too prevalent, and industry seen as a poor relation. Yet if we look at Germany, a country that actually still makes things and sells them, their recession is ending rather quicker than ours. This Budget does nothing to address this imbalance, nor do the Coalition partners seek to do so. Unsurprising really, when you think of all the ex-City men in the Cabinet…

 

So thats why I urge you all to march on Saturday for an alternative to this ill-considered schoolboy essay masquerading as a Budget.

Big Society for who???

Ham Face, in  todays Observer defends his wonderful “Big Society” thingy ( as its known at Conservative Central Office), and it would be no surprise that I, in line with the majority of Her Majesties’ subjects, am pretty cynical about this. All new Governments come out with some kind of big idea, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. Anyone remember “The Third Way”?

It is important to understand and refute just what this means, and just how much of this is cover for massive cuts.

First of all, lets look at the supposed bedrock of this idea, voluntary organisations. As an ex Sea Scout who grew up in the wonderful county of Suffolk, I am more than happy for the voluntary sector to do what it does well. All around this nation, every day of the week, hundreds of thousands of us spend our time serving our communities – providing support for the vulnerable, raising funds,running youth organisations, and conserving our common heritage. These people should be saluted and cherished for all they do, and no doubt many of us could do more. They do this for any number of reasons, some moral, or religious, or just because they believe in helping their fellows. I very much doubt however, that there will be any charity that will volunteer to run the 17 public toilets to be closed in Manchester City Centre, nor to clean up the filth consequently left behind.

In the present situation, combined with the Coalitions massive cuts in public services, the idea that the voluntary sector, already hard-pressed in hard times, can step in and fill the yawning gaps left by 500,000 workers made redundant is nothing short of criminal. Those of us in work have less time to spare, those of us without have time, but no resources. We should also look at the nature of some of these charities, and the way they are run, and by whom. We have seen in recent years a plethora of faith-based charities and self-help groups – often fundamentalist in nature. I am not talking about The Salvation Army and Christian Aid here, groups with a long history, who spend more time serving than preaching, rather churches such as United Christian Kingdom of God, implicated in Victoria Climbies death, or those of Sikh, Muslim, Hindu or Jewish origin that seek to further different agendas rather than simply a helping hand. A number of these groups have been implicated in extremism and religious intolerance of one kind or another, and, under the policies of successive Governments, have been given cover as “faith and community” groups.

A major plank of The big society, Goveys’ “free” Schools, has already led to the setting-up of Britains’ first creationist school. Do any of us really believe that this is a step forward? Public money given to an organisation that holds The Book of Genesis to be literal truth???

An already fractured education system hardly needs further atomisation along lines of religion, or in the case of Boris Johnsons ex-“Youth Deputy”, race…

True to his corporate roots, Ham Face, the scion of apparently hereditary Stockbrokers, also makes much of the vogue for “Corporate Responsibility” within the private sector, and how this can be harnessed for social good. At best, this means that people already inclined to volunteer have another opportunity to do so on projects that give a friendly face to BAE Systems, City firms, and multinationals. (Even Tobacco companies include this guff in their annual reports these days…)

Would it be too much to ask these “socially responsible” companies to pay their taxes in the UK, rather than Grand Cayman??? Has Gideon Whyborn settled HIS £1.6 million debt to the revenue??? After all, he is the Chancellor…

The truth of the matter is that when it comes to Health, Social Services and Education, it will not be the host of small local charities that will “pick up the slack”, rather it will be a mix of larger religious groups (Catholic Hospitals anyone? Will you miss the Right to Choose?) and inevitably the private sector – so yet again, you and I lose out, whilst Capita and Group Four increase their profits, whilst cutting services and working conditions, all funded from our taxes.

Having tapped into the strong vein of public voluntarism, this Government runs the risk of further destroying our common heritage and social solidarity. An interesting fact reproduced in a number of international survey ranging from Academic to the OECD, is that there is a correlation between the participation on voluntary work and the “Big State” that Cameron, Clegg and their followers routinely deride. It seems that in western nations with higher taxation, and more social democratic economies, more people volunteer for longer periods of time, not less. In more free market economies, the reverse is true.

To this end, I suggest that we all volunteer to go on a march, on 26th of March, organised by that huge voluntary organisation, The TUC, to oppose this Governments cuts package.

Think on, Cameroons.


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