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Archive for May, 2010|Monthly archive page

Get ready for the hypocrite stakes (or how I was pro-war until I ran for the Labour leadership)

In Current affairs, Politics on May 29, 2010 at 9:30 am

There’s nothing like having the courage of your convictions, and in recent days we have seen nothing like it as far as some of the candidates seeking the Labour Party leadership are concerned.

Yes folks, it’s official, the invasion of Iraq was BAD. Well, it’s bad now. When they were in power the invasion of Iraq was GOOD. Now it’s very, very, BAD. Got it?

Ed Balls, Ed MiliBand and his brother David were all in favour of Britain’s decision to help invade Iraq. Now they all say it’s BAD.

Ok, maybe we’re labouring (pun intended) this good and bad thing, but, really, is this the cream of the crop from which the party faithful have to choose from? More of the same old nonsense from the Blairites and Brownites? Where’s the true party reformer going to come from?

Then we have the rest of the field – Andy Burnham, nice bloke, but seriously overpromoted during his time as a minister. This was only to keep a Blairite in the Cabinet as the bottom of the barrel marked “talent” was well and truly scraped. Diane Abbot, insufferable, but has at least said the party should admit Iraq was a mistake. She also said something the new coalition should be implementing as policy: bankers should pay for screwing up the economy, not us. However, she blotted her copybook when she suggested that the other leftie candidate, the excellent John McDonnell, did not have enough support to secure the 33 votes necessary to get on the ballot and would withdraw. She also against spending cuts, which is economic madness.

So far the Miliband boys have secured enough nominations to enter the race. Ed Balls, not as clever as he thinks he is, is made hard work of it, but now has exactly 33 votes. Burnham has 17, while McDonnell has six and Abbott a solitary vote, which just about sums up her eligibility for this contest.

McDonnell has too many things working against him. He has principles for starters. How galled must he be to see a ConDem coalition overturn the third runway at Heathrow when his own party was ready to ram the monstrosity right through his constituency without a backward glance.

Meanwhile, while on the subject of hypocrisy, John “I won’t sit in the Lords” Prescott yesterday said “I will sit in the Lords” and took his shilling. What a guy.

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The honeymoon begins…

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

Now, where do I stick the knife in.....

They grinned, they joked, they made the hacks laugh. Yes folks, it’s the Dave and Nick show, running for one term only. Five years if they’re both lucky.

Can this gooey, sticky routine last? We hear you ask. Probably not, and maybe that’s what some, who may, or may not be called David Miliband, are hoping for. The Labour leadership election almost looks like an irrelevant side show now that the doves are cooing over Downing Street, but they’ll be watching this civil marriage like hawks. The first sound of any ruffling of feathers in the coop and they’ll be in there with soothing words.

“Nooooooo, he doesn’t understand you. Nasty man with his nuclear power stations and that brute Hague bullying all those nice Europeans. There there Nick, just tell us all about it…coalition er, I mean cup of tea?”

Still, for now there are enough sane LibDems floating around the place to keep the nastier elements of the Tories in check, and we like seeing David Laws alongside George Osborne to make sure he knows what the calculator is for.

Tell us how long you think it will last. We’ll run a sweep. Here’s a guide for you:

William Hill are offering odds of 13/8 that on or before May 11th, 2011 the current agreement between the Conservatives and the Lib Dems will be officially ended by either Party.  Hills also offer 4/9 that the agreement will still be in place on May 12, 2011.

Have we just been ConDemmed?

In Current affairs, Politics on May 12, 2010 at 6:02 am

George Osborne as Chancellor, gee that’ll soothe financial markets. In the meantime we wait to see what role Vince Cable gets in all of this. Most likely he’ll have to do the dirty work of implementing those deep and nasty spending cuts we’re all so looking forward to.

Dave Cameron wasted no time is assuming the mantle of head boy and picking Nick Clegg as his deputy. If the early signs are true, there may be more LibDems in government than on the backbenches. Little chance of a rebellion there.

And that will be the true test – the first argument of the new relationship, the recriminations. Doors will slam, people will sulk, or as Sam (not his real name) said on a previous post:

“It will start out fine, but then the romance will disappear. They’ll start arguing over money, who gets to sit where in cabinet…stuff like that. Then Cam will catch Cleggy making goo-goo eyes across the chamber with Miliband. Accusations. Tears. Attempts at reconciliation and then…another election.”

Should we shed two tears from the same eye at Gordon’s exit?

In Current affairs, Politics on May 11, 2010 at 11:22 pm

What is it about human nature that we can spend months, nay, years slagging off a person for being boring, dour, pig-headed, stubborn, the wrong man for the job and a whole lot worse ad nauseum, yet the second he summons up the dignity to bare his soul in public and do the right thing we are moved to tears?

This evening we experienced such a moment when Gordon Brown emerged from the door of Downing Street and gave the speech we all thought he was incapable of giving. The one that showed he was a living, breathing member of the human race.

Infuriating, isn’t it?

Clearly beyond the ambition and the lust for power exists a man who feels as keenly as the rest of us. But why, oh why, did he save the best until last. Did he get so immersed in the New Labour cesspool of spin and deceit that he forgot who he was? Or are we all just suffering from that usual bout of sympathy we express when someone who is so clearly beaten finally exits the public stage?

We are told that in at least one newsroom people were moved to tears with the dignity of the occasion. The magnificent Sarah Brown, who showed more class in three short years than Cherie Blair could muster in a decade, stood by her man, while, for the first time, the public caught a rare glimpse of the Brown’s two boys. Credit should be given for the way they kept them off the pages of the newspapers.

Perhaps the answer lies in an observation from Mrs fullandfrankexchange, herself rarely wrong on these matters:

“It’s the human spirit that is moving, not Gordon Brown.”

Fair point well made, as they say. Before we get too misty-eyed, let’s not forget his failings, and the impact they have had on a nation. Put away the tissues, you won’t need the for this bit.

While we watched the machinations this week of the power-hungry clawing for their “share” of the spoils after we’d all had our say, a small, but massive, change took place in the running of London’s dilapidated underground rail network. The maintenance contract was moved back in-house.

This signalled the end of the disastrous public/private partnership to upgrade all the lines, which had seen one consortium collapse and saddle the taxpayer with a £2 billion bill and the other make such exorbitant demands that the whole show had to be stopped.

Architect and defender of this mess? Step forward and collect your award Gordon Brown.

Yep, in order to keep what was actually quite necessary public maintenance off the books, old Gordon and his cronies in the Treasury (note, future leadership contender Ed “I’m cleverer than everyone else” Balls has his fingerprints all over it too) insisted on handing the work to a big pack of incompetent clowns who sought nothing more than massive profit for maximum disruption.

Haven’t got a final salary pension? Blame Gordon again. His insistence on removing the tax credit on share dividends crippled pension fund investors, just so he could inflate his revenues. Coupled with his orders that an accounting reporting rule on pension liabilities should be strictly enforced meant that companies who had been living free and easy with their pension surpluses now had large liabilities.

Who wins there? Well it ain’t the poor old employee looking forward to a decent retirement income, we can tell ya. Not when there are shareholders to be kept sweet.

Driving around Afghanistan without body armour in a thin-skinned vehicle that could be blown to bits while your family live in squalid accommodation back in Blighty? Send your complaints to G Brown (constituency office please).

Got a sore toe because someone had a huge temper tantrum and pushed a printer off the end of a desk? Er, sorry Gordo, you again, we’re afraid.

Paying too much for your petrol, travel, booze and fags? Blame all chancellors past and present because the next one isn’t going to cut you a break.

The tax system is too complicated because Brown made it so, he’s doubled counted revenues, stolen ideas that weren’t his, annoyed his EU counterparts more times than you can shake a stick at, moved the economic cycle after he broke his own “golden rules” and installed himself at Downing Street without our approval.

Still crying? You bloody will be when the next lot of jokers move in….

Let the squabbling begin

In Current affairs, Politics on May 11, 2010 at 7:45 pm

Gotta hand it to Gordon Brown, he keeps the surprises coming. Having finally conceded that he was outstaying his welcome at 10 Downing Street he came out for the second time in just over 24 hours to say the towel was in the ring.

Now we have a coalition of the chinless and the third placers – strange bedfellows indeed. With no more Labour flirting to de done, Nick Clegg and his team may find David Cameron drives a hard bargain indeed as his leverage is now gone. They’ve come up with the spectacularly brilliant notion that economic stability should be at the core of any policymaking. Well done chaps!

Electoral reform will be on the agenda, but don’t expect a referendum on the alternative system just yet. Quite right too, there are bankers to be shot first. Well, there should be, but we can hardly see posh boy Cameron taking a pop at his old mates in the City any time soon.

Interesting times ahead – there will be a lovey-dovey honeymoon, no doubt. The markets will wet themselves with delight at the formation of a government. We’ll see just how many Cabinet posts the LibDems get. Not many I suspect, but we’re hoping for some sort of role for Vince Cable at the Treasury.

Then we all need to strap ourselves in for a rough ride. Tax RISES, spending CUTS – and DEEP ones at that.

After that, how long before the first sand-pit fight between the two sides????

An ugly beauty contest….

In Current affairs, Politics on May 10, 2010 at 11:17 pm

Well someone has to keep the lights on...

At first it all seemed pretty dignified. Gordon Brown looked at the dregs of his tea cup, read the signs and decided he had to resign if Labour was to have any chance of holding on to power. He marched out to Downing Street and told the nation that he accepted the will of the people and would go.

In four months.

Has he got some sort of hire-purchase deal on a television that he can’t break off early or something? Start calling the removal men Gordon, it’s time to go old son.

You could hear the police helicopter hovering above Downing Street as he made his statement (at least we think it was the cops – could have been that stupid Sky News chopper providing all the other newsrooms with pointless footage to stare at). If it was the police we wonder if they were keeping an eye out for Dave Cameron in case he tried to mount a “green” suicide attack on Downing Street with his bike.

Bookmakers William Hill have been bombarding us with emails on the odds on Gordon going. Yesterday they said he had been backed from 7/4 to 5/4  “still to be Prime Minister on Wednesday, and 4/7 to be gone by then”. Not bad, but what were they offering on Nick Clegg and his mates playing footsies under the negotiating table with the Tories, while some of his other chums were having a crafty fag with Labour behind the bike sheds?

We’ve said it before. Clegg is playing a dangerous, but clever game. The Cameroons are soooooooo desperate for power they’ve offered a referendum on the alternative vote system, which is a sure sign it wasn’t on the table before. Showing their hand may strengthen Labour’s, but only slightly. They still need the LibDems and all those other little parties to make a workable majority.

Brown may be down, and technically he is out, but he knows how to fight dirty, there’s life in the old dog yet and he’ll take a few chunks out of posh boy Cameron before the summer is over.

So now we have parallel beauty contests. One to run the country and one to run the Labour Party. The latter involves a fairly shallow talent pool, the former the mere running of a nation that has been to the pawnbrokers far too many times and has some seriously bumpy road ahead of it.

Great fun, isn’t it…


Who should Nick Clegg jump into bed with?

In Current affairs, Politics on May 8, 2010 at 2:53 pm

Ok, which one of you has his hand on my bum....

The clock is ticking, we are told. The LibDems are now holding their own beauty contest to see how many contestants want world peace, to work with disadvantaged children and, er, oh yeah, electoral reform.

Dave Cameron is desperate to run the country, so he’ll dangle all sorts of baubles under Nick’s nose to entice him. Gordon Brown rang last night and it appears the toys went out of the pram at Downing Street when Clegg suggested that Gordon’s removal from the squat was a non-negotiable condition of any shacking up with Labour. Oh to be a fly on the wall….

Of course Clegg has to take any deal to his MPs and the  grass-roots activists, so there’s a fair way to go yet.  Not to mention the fact that a lot of Tories won’t fancy getting into bed with Clegg’s mob, especially as they don’t give a stuff about electoral reform.

There are unwelcome noises about the pressure to do a deal before the financial markets open on Monday. Really, this is irrelevant, and undemocratic. We had our say, and we couldn’t pick a clear winner, so the people we did vote for can get around the table and sort this out. As for the markets, well they can sod off. It’s the wide boys of the markets who played fast and loose with OUR cash and got us into this mess in the first place. The last thing we need is a load of bankers, financiers and Digby Jones moaning about uncertainty over the repayment of 170 billion quid in debt. We wouldn’t be in debt if it wasn’t for them, so fellas, take a powder and go lie in a dark room.

Good turnout, but did Britain bottle it at the ballot box? UPDATED

In Current affairs, Politics on May 7, 2010 at 10:27 am

Disenfranchised

So, looks like a lot of us got off our hind legs and  did their bit. A lot were also shamefully denied their democratic right through incompetence.

However, what happened to the yellow tide we expected? Where was the Clegg effect? Did we go to the ballot box and lose our bottle. Certainly looks that way. Our guess is a lot of people have confused “won’t get into power” with “won’t have a serious influence on power” and thrown away a chance for some real change.

Nick Clegg should take some of the blame. We did warn that he was playing a dangerous game by trying to use his new popularity to unseat Gordon Brown. Nice to see this view echoed by no less than The Times’ own Greg Hurst who knows the LibDems better than most.

We now face the prospect of a ConLib pact – that’s like having a lot of vegetables on your plate. Yuck. Clegg, to give him credit, has stuck to his claim that he will do business with the party that wins the most seats. That means the Tories. Pass the sprouts.

Voters denied – EXCLUSIVE from the front line…

In Current affairs, Politics on May 7, 2010 at 12:58 am

A friend of fullandfrankexchange (from Stoke Newington)  has just messaged us with the following:

“Unable to vote. Massive queue with two people checking names. Two other desks with no queues but presiding officers refused to redeploy the staff that were scratching their arses. Approx 60 of us lost our vote due to incompetence beyond belief. LIVID.

Still, enough people got out to get rid of Lembit Opik. Thanks for that guys – now he’ll NEVER be off our bloody television screens. Thanks a bunch, people of Montgomeryshire.

Have we got our own Florida fiasco on our hands? Someone help the dopey students too…

In Current affairs, Politics on May 6, 2010 at 11:33 pm

After worries about a poor turnout it looks like we could have the ridiculous situation where people have been turned away from polling stations. Where are we? Florida? Who organises these things?

There are reports of sit-ins at some stations. A good sign. It also highlights the stupidity of a system where polling stations are open on a weekday. Britons work the longest hours in Europe. Their windows of opportunity are limited given work and family commitments. Reports are suggesting that some were at the polls at 8 pm and still didn’t get in.

In Sheffield we hear that a load of students turned up without their polling cards and this caused chaos.

Ok, a few points here. First, students. You are meant to be vaguely intelligent, so work it out. Second, government, students are dopey – educate them. They also live away from the house in which they’re registered to vote, so may not even be aware they need a polling card. A TV campaign to explain this to them might help. You spend all that time promoting the directgov website at the very time when all students are watching TV with the munchies and you fail to inform first-time voters how to do it!

Time for a change – Saturday voting is the answer. No excuses then. For anybody.