Archive for April, 2010|Monthly archive page

Big beast Blair returns from the bush to battle for Brown…

In Current affairs, Politics on April 30, 2010 at 2:01 pm

Is he really that colour?

Jeez, it must be getting serious. Gordon Brown has stuffed things up so badly that an unfeasibly orange Tony Blair had to return from safari and tell voters it’s the policy that matters, not the personality.

Quite true. While the debates have been an entertaining diversion and given us a view of a third alternative, the three main parties have failed to deliver on the key point. How will the big bills be paid off and where are we going to feel the pinch hardest?

Brown’s “bigot” remark should be left alone. Gillian Duffy is probably not be a bigot, but she was in essence saying that Eastern Europeans are coming to Britain and taking jobs off locals. These conversations usually start with the words: “I’m not a racist but…..” Brown’s biggest error was to allow himself to be stuck with a radio microphone when he wasn’t on air – and his aides should take full blame for that. Sloppy man management. Do you think David Cameron or Nick Clegg don’t air their views in the privacy of the car after talking to the great unwashed?

So, Tony Blair rides to the “rescue”. In part he must be doubled over with laughter at Gordon’s misfortune. He must also be furious that the campaign has been derailed at so late a juncture, somewhere in there we think he does actually like the Labour Party.

We have a week to go. Things could get nasty. Opinion polls will narrow. Newsdesks that have never covered an election in their lives will shriek at any minor development and demand ridiculous non-news stories be written. We will be swamped with this stuff. Every one of Rupert Murdoch’s newspapers will be making David Cameron out to be the great messiah. The Daily Mail will do the same. If you’re an “undecided” don’t be fooled by all of this.

Mrs fullandfrankexchange reminded me a moment ago of the words of the Bard of Barking, Billy Bragg.

“Those braying voices on the right of the House are echoed down the Street of Shame”

“Where politics mix with bingo and tits in a strictly money and numbers game”

He goes on:

“When you wake up to the fact that your paper is Tory

“Just remember, there are two sides to every story.”

But we will have a quiet moment when there will be no campaigning, no spin, no nonsense.

Sit down, think about what the parties are offering. Get your polling card, go out on Thursday….

and vote.


Clegg could come a cropper trying to be a clever-clogs

In Current affairs, Politics on April 27, 2010 at 4:49 pm

Clever boy

Nick Clegg is like the most popular boy at school.  A lot of kids want to be around him, because it makes them look cool. Just as many want to punch him because he is just too cool.

Right now Gordon Brown and David Cameron are trying to be both. They both think they need to schmooze up to young Clegg as he’s now the kingmaker, yet they both need to say how horrible he is in the faint hope they can grab power for themselves.

And doesn’t Clegg know it. On the weekend he said he wouldn’t prop up a weak Labour government that wins most of its seats through a flawed voting system. He added that he could work with a Conservative administration. The new boy on the block has a fair point here. His party does suffer at the hands of the first-past-the-post system.

But work with the Tories? Come on. Would the tree-hugging, sandal-wearing masses of LibDem supporters put up with that? Not on your life. Their glorious leader is playing a dangerous, but clever, game. He knows that if Labour can only hold power via a coalition with the LibDems, then he can push hard for a fair share of Cabinet posts and the removal of grumpy Gordon. Not a bad strategy for both sides really. I mean, there’s a fair proportion of the electorate that would like to see Vince Cable as Chancellor, and that is said with no disrespect to Alistair Darling, who’s done a fair job given the amount of sniping he’s had to endure from Brown’s camp. There would also be an infusion of new blood to government posts. Also good, given we are seriously in the shallow end of Labour’s talent pool right now. Plus no Gordon equals a “vote for change”. Brilliant.

But Nick needs to watch his step. Those inside the Westminster bubble might be aware of what he’s really up to, but the public see a bloke backing Cameron one minute and Labour the next which makes it look like he’s having an each-way bet to sit around the cabinet table once a week.

It was hilarious watching Dave Cameron trying to tell supporters on the weekend that a Lib/Lab coalition would just bring in the same old faces. Really Dave? Plenty of retreads sitting next to and behind you old son, so cut out the nonsense.

What is less hilarious is his shrill “a hung parliament is the work of the devil” routine. Grow up. A hung parliament means people have had their say. It means parties will have to negotiate. It means half-baked legislation might get better input, better scrutiny and ultimately just, well better.

What Cameron is really trying to do here is hide the fact that his master plan is not working. He’s reverting to type. Another old Etonian who thinks residence at 10 Downing Street is his by right (ok, that’s a sweeping generalisation, but you get the drift) and that it is simply his turn. How far are we from a full-blown tantrum from posh Dave. We could get it at the final leaders’ debate this week. With a week to go, he’s paddling furiously against tide of public opinion that seems to be saying (for now): “Sorry, old chap, but the duck house, moat cleaning business was just too irritating for our taste and we’d like to shop around.” The Chris Grayling “no gays in the guesthouse” gaffe won’t have helped either. Our old Westminster mate David Hencke has a great analysis of this.

Of course, the polls will narrow in the next few days and he could get his wish, but he needs to stop trying to scare people.

As for Gordon, well, he might think he’s going to stay on if he wins enough seats, but here’s a piece of advice for you, prime minister (we know he reads this every day over his porridge). When Sarah suggests you pop into John Lewis to check out the summer range of soft furnishings, take a rain-check, or take the Cleggs with you….


In Uncategorized on April 27, 2010 at 2:40 pm

A quick public service announcement. If you’re booking a flight on easyjet.com be VERY careful. Your payment will go through and then the site will crash. Have just had it happen to me and a friend has also suffered the same fate. You won’t get a reference number, so you don’t actually know if you’ve got a seat. So-called “customer service” lines are also not working/not answering (at 10p a minute mind you), nor is any other telephone number. This is what you get. Don’t bother trying to click on any of the “help” links or try to chat with someone because there is no-one there.

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  2. If you have reached this page after submitting your payment details we recommend you check my easyJet.com to confirm if the booking was successful before trying again.

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The people’s manifesto – your first contributions UPDATE 2

In Current affairs, Politics on April 23, 2010 at 8:46 am

Well they came in thick and fast last night folks. Well, they came in anyway. The first contributions to our 2010 General Election manifesto.

“Steve” (not his real name) was off and running like a greyhound out of the traps. Here are his suggestions to kick us off:

“A higher rate of income tax (5-10 percent higher per band) until you’ve been resident in the UK for five years. You need to top up the pot before you start using the (public) services.”

“Key workers protected” (presumably to counter plans to sack thousands of civil servants ? The question is ours, not “Steve’s”)

“An increase in VAT to 20 percent”

“I’m binning the nuclear deterrent as well”.

John from Northhants offers:

All foreign nationals to get a bank holiday on their countries’ nation day – to make up for the lack of effort on St Georges day.

Caroline wants every MP to attend every vote in the House of Commons and have this made compulsory.

Our old friend Steve popped up from the bore draw at the Emirates yesterday to demand:

A 50 percent tax on chewing gum to pay for its removal from the streets.

We did ask if he’d stepped in some gum on his way to the game, but Steve said: “No, I just hate the stuff.” Wrigleys spearmint anyone?

So, there it is. A start. Plenty of room here for more. Keep ’em coming!

Looking for a heavy to run UK plc…and give us YOUR manifesto ideas

In Current affairs, Politics on April 22, 2010 at 6:05 pm

Our best mate has been on to us again today.

“Will a leader with gravitas please stand up?” Stephen (not his real name) asks, well, demands actually.

Fair point. Grumpy Gordon is looking as fresh as a set of tyres on a banger in a used car yard. Dave Cameron is playing with men in chicken suits while doing his impersonation of a parrot. “Vote for change, vote for change, vote for change.” Squawk. Ok, Ok , we get the message Polly, er, I mean Dave. You might get the change you weren’t banking on sunshine.

I vote for change every day. Fresh socks and clean underwear are always vote winners in my house. Mrs fullandfrankexchange also endorses this policy.

On May 6 we could wake up and find we are wearing one red sock and one yellow sock, or a blue one with a yellow one. All because Nick Clegg has now given us what we all needed – a choice. We’re not saying he’s the right choice, that’s for you to decide by getting out and casting your vote, but the humdrum nature of what could have been a dreadful campaign leading to a poor turnout has been dispatched.

Of course tonight he is going to be like the quarry pursued by a lot of Dave Cameron’s mates. The poor old fox chased by loads of chinless wonders across the countryside in the name of sport. Nick has stopped Dave’s bandwagon, and will come right under the big, hot spotlight in the second TV debate. It should make good viewing.

However, we made the point recently that a debate performance should not be the final arbiter of selection for prime minister. It’s policies that count. This led us to think: shouldn’t WE dictate a manifesto?

So here’s your chance – give us all your ideas. We’ll publish all of them and see what sort of Britain you want to have on May 7. Go on, no idea to big, small, insane…they’ll get a run. You know you want to.

Seven words you thought you’d never hear…

In Current affairs, Politics on April 20, 2010 at 2:12 pm

Why shouldn’t Nick Clegg be prime minister?????

Fullandfrankexchange was having a chat with a friend last night. Our mate was mildly annoyed.

“Now I’ve said I’m voting LibDem everyone else is jumpring on the bandwagon!”

He was, of course, joking, but went on to give a fairly insightful analysis of the state of British politics in the wake of Clegg’s good performance in last week’s television debate with Gordon Brown and David Cameron.

“I think people are going to want to have their say,” he told us. “Everyone hates Brown and Cameron is just a cheaper version of Tony Blair. At least now there’s a decent third alternative and maybe it’s what people have been looking for.”

Our friend, also an excellent golf partner, is right on the money. Clegg has given the election campaign the spark it was sadly lacking, and the two main parties the bloody good fright they both needed.

Ok, so here it is…would it be that bad if the Liberal Democrats took power? Or at least ruled in a coalition? Vince Cable is a qualified economist and is streets ahead of Brown and Alistair Darling. “Boy” George Osborne isn’t fit to share his calculator. Parliament itself has been completely discredited after the expenses scandal, and MPs from the two main parties were up to their necks in  it. And that includes Dave “I’m going to clean up politics” Cameron.

Our mate is right. This time, people are going to have their say. Make sure you have yours. Pin up your electoral registration card where it will remind you for the next two-and-a-bit weeks, then go out and take care of business.

Clegg in the crosshairs?

In Current affairs, Politics on April 16, 2010 at 4:36 pm

Poor Nick Clegg. He goes one-nil up in the big leaders debate, and now all his enemies are saying his party is under the microscope as a result. Utter bollocks, the ones who should be taking a good hard look at themselves today are Gordon Brown and David Cameron, once they’ve finished looking over their respective shoulders.

According to Tory shadow education secretary Michael Gove, the fresh-faced Clegg got away with a lot last night because he can be the “new kid on the block” and labelled LibDem policies as “eccentric”. A bit rich coming from a bloke with no chin, Michael. And now your glorious leader is crapping himself, saying his party is the only alternative to Labour – arrogance beyond belief. Who decides these things? Not Brown, not Cameron, not even shiny Nick Clegg.

You do.

That’s right. Not the slick, manufactured, false, deceitful clowns who have never held down a real, paid-crap-money-by the-hour-job in their lives. YOU. The voter. The person trying to make meagre ends meet.

The fact of the matter is this – people are sick of Gordon Brown (deceitful), but they don’t trust Dave Cameron (a nasty piece of work) either, so the time is ripe for a genuine alternative to the old two party two-step the electorate has to endure ever four or five years. Pity Clegg (different, but ambitious), one minute he’s the girl everyone wants to dance with, the next minute he’s a wallflower that the other boys say has a nasty rash.

There’ll be more smoke being blown than an Icelandic vog cloud in the next few days. Don’t get lost in the haze. The decision is ours – not the spin doctors’.

Don’t annoy Iceland! Get ready for the ‘vog’ of war….

In Current affairs, Politics on April 15, 2010 at 6:18 am

Gee, those Icelanders are a prickly bunch. First they respond to the UK’s use of anti-terror laws during the financial crisis to freeze bank assets by refusing to pay the money back, then they resort to “environmental terrorism” by sending a cloud of volcanic ash this way! In Hawaii they have an active volcano and refer to the resultant eruption clouds as “vog”.

Still, it could be more interesting than the great mass debate tonight (yes, puerile joke, but we’re hardly going to be the only ones thinking it) which has the potential to cure insomnia nationally. Yes folks we could all be driven to bed by the phoney vog of war that will cloud our screens tonight.

Peter Mandelson said Gordon Brown is just going to have to be himself “for better or worse” in the first big showdown between the three leaders. You don’t have to be Einstein to know how Gordon being “himself” is going to play on national television. Those of us who have covered his speeches, or heard him speak off the cuff know he is going to struggle. Nick Clegg should be the most relaxed of the three, while a lot of us are wondering what colour David Cameron will be with all that slap on. We really hope he doesn’t resort to his Daily Mail-style manufactured hysteria and bang on about “Broken Britain” and how he’s going to hand out “people power” like a dirty old man with a bag of sweets. Power to do what exactly, Dave? Pay less for my petrol cos I don’t like the price?  Make the banks stump up for every penny they’ve cost the taxpayer? Allow public floggings of bankers and greedy MPs?

And imagine – there are going to be three of these bloody events. Are we really going to decide who runs the country on the basis of 270 minutes of primping and preening television programming?

Thanks a bunch…the lawn looks terrific

In Current affairs, Politics on April 11, 2010 at 12:56 pm

I couldn’t take it any more, the sight of Dave Cameron out for a “non-political walk” and just happening to bump into Ian Botham in a park in south London was enough to drive me to the shed and mow the lawn without prompting….

It’s going to be a long campaign….

The big choice: Listen to Sunday political drivel or mow the lawn

In Politics on April 11, 2010 at 9:54 am

The former Labour Europe Minister Caroline Flint has apparently just said that elections focus people’s minds on the dividing lines between parties.

Wow. Really? Why isn’t this woman prime minister?

Meanwhile in Tory land, shadow Work & Pensions Secretary Theresa “look at my shoes” May said the offer of an extra 3 quid a week for some married couples sends a very important message to people, as does the ‘three strikes and you’re out’ benefit cheats policy.

What exactly does that mean Theresa. £150 a year isn’t going to do it for most. Try again.

I know it’s Sunday, but is this the best they can come up with? This is making mowing the lawn an exciting alternative.

Sharpen up!