Thursday, December 31, 2009

Gordon's New Year Message

So, Gordon Brown releases his New Year Message to the nation. The main message is "Don't wreck the recovery"... by not voting Labour.

Well, this cartoon in The Times sums up my feeling on that message perfectly...

If you've got some strong amphetamines on you, take them now and listen to the whole thing here. Clearly, Alastair Campbell has been at work again... "hard working families/people" is repeated ad nauseam through out the whole thing. The delivery is awful though (hence the need for amphetamine to keep one awake), rushed and obviously being read from a script.

This man really is no leader. That message just screams out to me: "TIME FOR CHANGE". My one wish for 2010 is that we rid ourselves of him as soon as possible. If Labour MPs won't do it before the election, the electorate will have to kick them all out on their cowardly arses.   Roll on Election 2010!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

From Hope To Dope

The Independent On Sunday is running a list of possible political posters made up by various ad agencies. Some of them are very funny. My favourite being one based on Obama's 2008 "Hope" poster...

As funny as the Independent posters are, they are all negative. Sadly, this is probably an accurate sign of things to come but I hope not. The contrast between a positive and negative message in the Hope/Dope posters above is certainly stark. At the General Election it would be great if the parties could focus more on why we should vote for them rather than why we shouldn't vote for their opponents.

The Independent's posters remind me of my favourite Economist front cover lampooning Brown's pathetic class war strategy to regain Labour's core vote. A strategy that seems to be splitting the cabinet

Saturday, December 26, 2009

New Arrival On Boxing Day

I hope you had a great Christmas and Boxing Day? I certainly did - the best ever!

Christmas was lovely, spending the day with my (heavily pregnant) wife, children and parents (including a nice visit from the mother and brother in law). We had so many presents to open (especially the children) that many were left over for Boxing Day. So my two little 'uns went to bed looking forward to Christmas The Sequel in the morning. However, it was not to be (at least not in the morning)...

I stayed up late faffing around with my new gadgets until, around 1am, my wife came down and told me, with absolute certainty, that the baby was on his way. If there's one thing I've learnt from my wife during the other two births it is that she knows exactly what is happening to her body and when the time has come.

Now, we'd decided to have the baby at home to guarantee a pool birth. Our first, Emily, had been born in the pool at Frimley Park Hospital and Melissa had a better experience, even though there were complications, than with the next, far more straight forward, birth of Edward on "dry land" as it were.

This meant I had rather more to do than I had in the previous births: Filling the pool; maintaining the water temperature; preparing the dining room for the birth; blowing up the a bed etc. The list goes on... Actually, it doesn't go on much more, to be honest. And of course, the most important duty was to support Melissa who, many would argue, had the harder job on the night. On balance, I think the many were right ;o)

The midwives that delivered the baby were brilliant but the real star was Melissa. How women cope with the psychological and physical challenges of child birth, I'll never know. But she did, splendidly. Even apologising for taking "too long" or being too "loud". Obviously, I graciously accepted her apologies and told her to learn from her mistakes. She was, in fact, remarkable restrained. I would have been swearing and thrashing about like a mad man if I had to do what she had to do. I have to say, I was in awe of her and very proud, not to say more than a little relieved, when everything was over!

Thomas emerged anatomically correct with all requisite limbs, eyes, ears, genital equipment etc. And what's more he started breast feeding almost straight away, which is always good. I splendid boy and no mistake

My other two children had been evacuated to the grandparents for the night so missed out on their morning present opening. But they really enjoyed their time with Grandma and Grandad and eventually came back home after Melissa and I had had a sleep to meet their new brother and, probably more importantly for them, open up some more presents! My brother was also over from London with his fiancée so we had a full house. This was more family than I've had around me for a long time and it was great.

So, all in all, a very special Boxing day for me. I really must get my head down now but here's a clip of my Mum with Emily saying hello to Thomas with a kiss awww...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Sweary Democracy - The Future For Great Britain Today

Just read this story on the BBC website regarding a four letter word outburst in the Irish parliament. See an extract below:


MP Paul Gogarty of the Green Party - a junior partner in the Irish government - used the F-word after being heckled by the Labour opposition.


I've always yearned to see our, often rather pompous, representatives use more earthy language in Parliament. Just imagine...

DCam: "The right honourable gentleman can fuck right off if he thinks his arse sucking government has the respect and support of the British people. He should shitting well resign forthwith and call a general cocking election"

GBrown: "I refer the right honourable gentleman to the reply I gave some moments ago" (which would be "fuck off" and would be the standard answer to all non-friendly questions).

This would be much more entertaining than the normal Parliamentary debate we get and just as enlightening.

Having read the BBC article I was amused to see that "fuck" is not included in the Irish Parliaments list of prohibited words.

It strikes me as a mistake to actually list all prohibited words rather than just stating all obscene or offensive words are banned. If they continue down this route their rule book is going to contain the most comprehensive list of swear words in the world and will be too obscene for publication in Ireland.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Stop Playing Politics With Our Armed Forces

You can never take anything Gordon Brown says at face value.

After a trip to Afghanistan to visit the troops (something to be welcomed) he received a lot of positive publicity. It's quite right that the Prime Minister should visit our troops regularly. What we don't want to see any more of, is the kind of tacky New Labour spin that we saw in the past, such as when Brown chose to announce (misleading) troop withdrawal numbers while visiting Iraq during the Conservative Party conference in order to over shadow his political opponents. But this is exactly what we got, yet again...

Following the visit we were treated to the "revelation" that Brown stayed in "basic quarters" at the Kandahar air base overnight, the headquarters of NATO troops in the South of the country. He just had to spoil a dignified visit with yet more tawdry spin. The BBC TV news report I saw went on to suggest he was in danger as there were at least "one or two attacks a week". It turns out this is the number of attacks that occur in the whole area not just the base. In reality, he was quite safe in the headquarters.

It's depressing to see that as soon as Alastair Campbell returns to Brown's propaganda bunker, the BBC (and other news outlets) slavishly report what they're told to.

Then after the visit we hear a report that Gordon Brown wants to boost spending on protecting troops from roadside bombs. Now, who'd disagree with that? No one, of course. Many would question why it has taken this long and cost so many lives before he cottons on to the threat, but at least he's doing something now.

But hold on. As with every announcement by this government, you need to look at the small print. This is not new money. This is merely a "re-prioritisation" of money from within the Defence budget. So, there's no intention of boosting the budget to provide enhanced protection. Merely a commitment to spend the money that was already available in a way that may, hopefully, finally, provide adequate protection. But how embarrassing for the woefully inadequate Defence Secretary, Bob Ainsworth. His boss visits the theatre of conflict and suddenly announces the Defence department has had its priorities all wrong, for years. No hint of an apology or embarrassment. Apparently, we are all to be impressed by this change in prioritisation. I don't think anybody in the armed forces will be for one second.

There is to be a detailed announcement in the Commons on Wednesday. I hope they can do more than play politics with such an important issue by merely having the PM micro manage the Defence budget in order to grab some favourable headlines.

Indeed, far from funding our over-stretched forces adequately to meet the various commitments they have around the world, it seems the government is actually planning a £1.5 Billion cut in their budget. These cuts will mainly hit so-called "low-priority" projects, and the Air Force seems to be lined up as the main loser. As part of the spin being put out on this, there is talk of redirecting funds to front line forces in Afghanistan. That's all well and good and I hope it makes a difference, but I wonder what issues will be caused by such drastic reductions in other capabilities and what damage will be done to our ability to act effectively to future military challenges.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Labour's Fiscal Fiction

So, the PBR came and went and must have left all those over excited Labour activists with a feeling of anti-climax and deep foreboding. I've not had time to blog in detail about the measures but it was unsurprising that it was pretty much all higher taxes (mostly delayed until after the election) with little detail on spending cuts.

Darling didn't manage to pull anything political out of his increasingly beaten up old vacuous hat that would really trouble the Tories. The IHT u-turn was funny to see. Clearly they were embarrassed by their hypocritical attacks on the Tory policy (even though it's not even a high priority for them in the new Parliament).

It seems that revelations today show that the PBR was something of a compromise between No. 10 and No. 11.

The Chancellor wanting a much more aggressive approach to bringing down the debt mountain and a clearer message to be sent out about the Government's intentions. It's clear now that, if Gordon Brown had had his way at the last reshuffle, Ed Balls, as Chancellor, would have implemented and even more cynical PBR, and that's saying something.

Even so, the measures in the PBR are not inspiring confidence that this Government is serious about debt reduction. This reality is well illustrated in this article in the FT:

FT: Investors take fright at ‘fiscal fiction'

A key quote sums up the concerns:

"Michael Saunders, an economist at Citigroup, said: “The PBR seeks to create a fiscal fiction that the deficit can be resolved solely by tax hikes on a relatively small share of the population – the few, not the many – and without painful public spending cuts. The revenue forecasts again look over-optimistic, and there are no public spending plans after 2010-11 – only vague forecasts.” "

Things are getting serious now. If the markets lose confidence we will all suffer. Lets hope the election comes sooner rather than later, as I suspect a change in government is what investors are holding out for.

UPDATE  22/12/09: Seems Labour MPs and supporters are also losing confidence in the governments "dividing line" strategy. If only more Labour people could see playing party politics during a major crisis like this is not a vote winner... The Audacity Of Pope Blog

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Ponderous Borrowing Revelations

I am not looking forward to tomorrow's Pre-Budget Report (PBR). I've read several Labour types describe it as a "political" event. They are quite open about it, even excited at the prospect, as can be seen from these tweets from @BevaniteEllie (Labour activist and henchperson of the party's Twitter Tsar Kerry McCarthy)

  • BevaniteEllie: RT @Jon2aylor: @BevaniteEllie I'm certainly excited, could be a massive week...PBR could reinvigorate the core.GB be bold I say #gameOn

    2 days ago

  • BevaniteEllie: "Labour MPs are expecting the PBR to me the most political for years" anyone else excited for the PBR? Is it worrying that I am?

    2 days ago 

This sums Labour up for me. They are motivated by the political fight, the petty point scoring but mostly, what's best for their party rather than the country.

So, we can look forward to a large dollop of bank bashing and promises to address the soaring budget deficit while not reducing the numbers of nurses, doctors, police, firemen, teachers... you know... people that people like. While on the other hand they will crush greedy bankers, pen pushing bureaucrats, managers and consultants - but not the medical kind of course.

Sounds great. But we all know these are politically motivated and dangerous lies. Bankers will find their way around the new bonus tax that will, no doubt, be announced tomorrow and the ones that don't will leave the country and we'll lose their (very considerable) tax contributions altogether, not to mention their talents to foreign, competitor companies. As for finding savings by getting rid of the other less popular types, Labour was responsible for the build up of their numbers to start off with and will do nothing significant to reduce them now. Well, not those employed in the public sector anyway. Gordon Brown didn't build up their numbers and that of millions of other public sector workers for nothing - he expects them to vote for him. I'm sure they have more sense, but they may well, rightfully, fear an incoming, reforming Tory government and that is what Gordon wants. 

We can also look forward to the "thick red lines" being drawn that will be designed to trap the Conservatives into unpopular counter policy positions. But people will see through these silly political games and be reminded of how much they hate this government and how much they need change.

UPDATE: Of course, this being spin city Labour, the PBR is being heavily leaked. The FT reports possible cuts of 14% in all departments but Health, Education and Police (surprise, surprise!) Oh, how I remember Labour ripping into the Tories for suggesting 10% cuts just a few months ago. You'll remember that both Labour and the Tories had the same plans for cuts (based on the previous budget predictions) but Gordon Brown insisted on lying about Labour's plans in order to differentiate Labour from their opponents, much to Alastair Darling's frustration at the time.

I tried to get a straight answer out of a few Labour MPs (including Kerry McCarthy) on Twitter at the time but the question was always avoided in favour of attacking the "evil Tories". Not surprising considering they knew what dodgy ground they were on. Now their cuts are deeper than planned (but still not nearly enough to placate the markets) I wonder if those MPs wished they'd embraced the Tory position at the time? At least they would seem more consistent now. In fact, we'll be told the Tories will "threaten the recovery" by cutting deeper and quicker. Well, at least that's a real policy argument we can have (and one Labour will lose). It's taken the best part of a year for Labour to get around to engaging in the budget deficit debate... and they say the Tories are policy light!

Another point to note is that their doesn't seem to be a commitment to protect defence spending. Yet another blow to the military covenant.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Forget Letter-gate This Is The Real Story

The real story of how angry military personnel and their families feel about this Government was over shadowed following The Sun's over-the-top coverage of "Letter-gate" the other week.

This is unfortunate as I believe this is one of the Government's worst and most shameful failures. However, a story in today's Sunday Times refocuses our attention on the real issue. It's got nothing to do with the Prime Minister's handwriting, ability to spell, eye sight, general competence or anything else. It's got to do with how little respect our armed forces have for him and his Government because they feel they have been let down badly. The Times article illustrates the extent of the anger felt and goes some way to explain Jacqui Janes reaction to that shoddy letter sent to her about her son's death. Although, after what we've seen this week, I suppose she should be grateful she got one at all.
Sapper Matthew Weston, 20, is one of the most seriously injured soldiers to have survived. He lost both legs and his right arm when a bomb exploded on a dirt track outside Sangin.
He said: “I didn’t want to speak to him, I didn’t want to waste my time talking to someone who was just trying to make themselves look good. I spent the day with my family instead.
“Half the lads didn’t want to speak to him and those that did pretty much blamed him for everything. Many of the lads just closed their curtains and hid themselves away.
“I met Prince Charles and Sir Richard Dannatt [when they visited Selly Oak]. I have respect for them. Prince Charles spoke to me for two hours. I really didn’t want to speak to Gordon Brown.”
It's clear that the feeling in the ranks from top to bottom, as well as from their families, is that the military covenant has been broken, that Labour has used our armed forces to gain party political advantage on occasions and that there is no real commitment to the cause or the men and women sent into harms way, and this has led to woeful under-equipping and resourcing.

The snubbing of Brown at Selly Oak is just another expression of the disdain felt for the Prime Minister. We all remember the unbelievable sight of a British Prime Minister being Booed at the D-Day ceremony by normally highly respectful World War 2 veterans:

Jacqui Janes received quite a bit of criticism for her alliance with The Sun and their attacks on Gordon Brown. I hope people will read The Times article and have a little more understanding of the strength of feeling there is against Brown. I also hope future governments will take the covenant a lot more seriously. That needs to be especially true during the difficult years ahead when budgets need to be balanced.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

More Pontification On The Pontiff's Perverts

As I pontificated a few days ago, any organisation found guilty of carrying out child abuse then trying to cover it up, would be either closed down or, at the very least, be banned from working with children ever again. Certainly the perpetrators of the cover up would be sacked immediately and prosecuted. What's more, even if he/she didn't have anything to do with the cover up, the CEO would take ultimate responsibility and resign.

Not with the Catholic church, it seems. I find this Guardian headline incredible:

Pope Benedict faces demand to dismiss Irish bishops in child abuse scandal 

So the Pope "Faces demand" for dismissing these Bishops responsible for covering up these abuses. Why, in the name of Ann Widdecombe's ARSE, haven't these people gone already?

It seems that the Irish Catholic church is even resisting calls for a nationwide inquiry that would, no doubt, uncover exactly the same kinds of abuse and cover up throughout the whole of Ireland.