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Archive for March, 2010|Monthly archive page

Cameron quakes as Tony returns to tear up the Tories

In Politics on March 30, 2010 at 3:48 pm

Well it had to happen sooner or later. The ghost of (recent) Labour past finally found some spare time away from having his photo taken with his fans for a couple of hundred quid a throw and spoke to the great unwashed of the perils of voting for Dastardly Dave Cameron and his posh pals come election day.

Yep, the old vicar of St Albion himself, Tony Blair, entered the fray and spoke to his former constituents in the North East seat of Sedgefield. The venue was the Trimdon Labour club, where he loves to give a speech or two – but his guns were trained further south on Dastardly Dave and his simpering sidekick “Boy” George Osborne.

It was classic Blair – and an almost sad reminder of how great his political skills are. Tarnished eternally by his foreign follies, but still capable of striking fear into the hearts of the opponents he left behind, the former prime minister tore up the Tories.

You almost wish he’d be given free rein to do what Al Gore didn’t wouldn’t let Bill Clinton do to his (and the world’s) cost in 2000 and actively hit the campaign trail.

Maybe the speech itself contained the answer to that query. We had to wait until word 413 of a 2,766 oration before we heard him say “Gordon”. Up until then, and a fair bit beyond it was all about the benefits Tony brought the country. In fact, Gordon gets a mention a mere FOUR times.

The sign-off reminds us of why we lapped up the 10-year tiff that was life in Downing Street with the Blair/Brown show.

“This country faces big challenges in the future.  I want this party to be the one able to meet those challenges.
This country needs strong leadership. I want our leadership to be the one that gives it,” he told the adoring faithful (although we only have the local media’s word for that – everyone else was barred).

Note he says Britain needs “our leadership”. It doesn’t say Britain needs the leadership of “that brooding, bullying, bruising, belligerent, bad-tempered bastard I had to live next door to.  I wouldn’t wish that on the Taliban”. He’s effectively laying down a marker for any challenger to get off his hind legs when the time comes.

It’s also hard to gauge quite how Gordon himself is viewing this “helpful” intervention by Blair (no doubt the brainchild of Peter Mandelson). He could well be saying (in tones of a disgruntled child) “Ohhhhh do I have to? I thought I was prime minister Ok, let’s get it out the way early.” A bit like eating all the nasty vegetables on your plate before the fish fingers.

Or he could well think it’s time to give Cameron a good swift kick in the groin now while he and his party wobble on economic policy, especially as “Boy” George looks to be in big trouble on the credibility front.

It’s no secret that Cameron modelled himself on the great Blair. In fact he told a dinner hosted by The Daily Telegraph a few years back during a Conservative Party conference: “I am the new Tony Blair.” He was politely informed by his hosts that uttering such things in public might not the brightest idea.

Cameron is lite, trite and shite. Not the sort of thing Britain needs inside number 10. Gordon is, well, let’s just say he’s not lite or trite, and leave the matter there, ok?

But spare a thought for poor old Nick Clegg. He didn’t even rate a mention in the speech –  and Tony hates LibDems. It might be time for young Nick to step up to the plate and start playing like a grown up. It’s all very well making gooey eyes at the other two saying: “Come get me boys.”, but that’s gonna wear thin after a while. Time to put on your long pants Nicky boy, you’re playing with the big boys now and whatever happens they’ll kick your bum all around the playground if you don’t stand up to them now, “kingmaker” or not.

It’s the least the voters deserve.

Why Charlie Whelan is not the monster Cameron wants him to be….

In Politics on March 17, 2010 at 2:31 pm

Pssssst! Hey you!, yes you. Come over here. Can you keep a secret? I’ve got something to tell you. Ready for it?

APPARENTLY THE LABOUR PARTY GETS FUNDING FROM TRADES UNIONS!

Shhhhh – don’t tell anyone, the Tories are hoping to use it as a big campaign tactic and scare voters.

Really, this is puerile stuff, even by today’s political standards. The key is in the name – Labour – geddit? Ok, ok,  we all know the party has been trying to shed the “beer and sandwiches” image of meetings with “union barons” in the 1970s, but it’s no secret the unions have been funding and sponsoring MPs even under the reign of New Labour.

Clearly Dastardly Dave Cameron and his crew of posh wannabes think news that Unite provide 25 percent of Labour’s funding (a serious amount of wedge and leverage, granted), is a poll booster, and their first opportunity to hit back in the class war that has been bubbling away for a while now.

Quite how this will play remains to be seen. Someone giving money to a political party and then expecting something in return is hardly the scoop of the century. What’s the problem here? Trades unions, by and large, are not gun-toting mafiosi extorting people. Their general existence revolves around getting their members better terms and conditions and a little more money each year. They also protect those who can’t protect themselves from the workplace bullies or box-ticking managers and HR types who have all the people-managing skills of a labour camp guard.

Granted, Unite political director Charlie Whelan is not everyone’s cup of tea. There is a long, and we mean lonnnnnng, list of people who would love to see the back of him, but he is a survivor with good political radar and more than happy to get his mits dirty when the big fight starts. He wasn’t Gordon Brown’s bagman for nothing. Old Grumpy Gordon tries to appear to be above the fray, but he picks his loyal lieutenants carefully and they carry out their mucky work with his blessing – I guess we could call him The Gordfather.

What Labour don’t want right now is a damaging internal bitch fight between the dregs of the  Blairites and Brownites. Standing in Whelan’s way is one Peter Mandelson. The hate between those two is no secret, not least because Whelan leaked the details of Mandelson’s undeclared £373,000 interest-free home loan from Geoffrey Robinson in 2000 that cost Mandleson his Cabinet post. Hell hath no fury like a lender not invited to the housewarming, Peter 😉

It should also be remembered that Whelan worked for one Ken Jackson, the old electricians’ union boss who was as right of centre as they come. As with Ken, Charlie likes a taste of power and loves to play politics, so a suggestion we’ll all be singing the Red Flag soon is absurd. The excellent Michael White of the Guardian has a great take on this.

Contrast this with Dastardly Dave’s lot. They’ve been taking Michael Ashcroft’s shillings for years. They gave him a peerage, and allowed him to be non-domiciled for a decade so he didn’t have to pay his full whack of tax in the UK – the jury is out on whether the party knew or not – and their funding history is a hardly a “how to do it right” guide for everyone else to follow. Compare the aims of the trade union movement with the aims of Michael Ashcroft if you really want to make a distinction on which is the more sinister.

Don’t let all this bluff and bluster  cloud the main issue. All it’s telling us is that both sides are testing the water to see how nasty they can get during the main event. It’s going to be a dirty fight, but play your part and vote.

Is Gordon Labour’s own achilles heel?

In Politics on March 15, 2010 at 9:50 pm

Two achilles heels dominated the headlines today. The owner of one was told he could play for AC Milan again next season when he recovers, while Gordon Brown told the world at large that he’ll be skippering Labour after the election whether it emerges as the majority party or not in a potentially hung parliament.

In fairness to Grumpy Gordon, he couldn’t really dodge the question on  BBC radio about whether he’ll stay on, and you wouldn’t expect him to say: “Oh, noooo, if we don’t have a majority I’m outta here!”. However, he might do well to look over his shoulder if Dastardly Dave Cameron’s Tories get their nose in front after the election – he certainly be in no position to be telling anyone who’s boss.

This is Gordon’s own achilles heel (in turn he could be Labour’s) – he refuses to see what’s in front of him. The prospect of a hung parliament for him should be considered a massive stride forward given opinion polls towards the end of last year that had him down and out, but telling the faithful that he’ll be in charge even if they’re relegated just displays the usual lack of humility that so annoys people. This is a man who was so hell-bent on legitimacy for his 2007 leadership bid that he got 313 MPs to endorse his grubby handover deal with Tony Blair when Labour’s own internal rules said he needed only 45 to run against the noble but hopelessly outgunned John McDonnell.

Fullandfrankexchange can reveal that Labour volunteers are knocking on 100,000 doors a week and meeting the voters face to face. They are pulling out all the stops to keep their party in power, or at least get people to the ballot box with a bit of forethought about the choices before them.  Labour MPs may be faced with a choice of their own after the election, and Gordon better take heed of what they might want if he doesn’t want to be stretchered off in tears.

Is Gordon getting on your nerves? Dave driving you crazy? Then this is the place for you!

In Politics on March 12, 2010 at 2:40 pm

So, in a few weeks we’re all off to the polls to elect a new government. The “phony war” has started, and soon all those smiling politicians you haven’t seen for five years because they’ve been cleaning their moats or painting their floating duck houses will be smiling on your doorstep, cooing at your newborn, and pretending to be oh-so-concerned about your precarious household finances.

Sick of slick Dave? Grinding your teeth every time Gordon appears on the telly? Not sure who Nick is? Then this could just be the blog for you. No Westminster gossip, no boring analysis of policy (well not always), just a good old fashioned irreverent poke at people, who, well let’s be honest, need a bloody good poking at given their recent behaviour.

But there is a serious aspect to some of this. Voter engagement at the last election was pitifully low and the government was returned with little more than a third of the national vote. This blog is designed for people to (politely) have their say, but also to encourage you to have the same say where it really counts – the ballot box.