Sunday, January 31, 2010

Punchy Brown to Go On and On

It's being widly reported that Gordon Brown says he wants to continue as Labour leader after the general election, even if he is defeated. He will attempt to stay on if the Conservatives fail to win a majority of more than 20 seats. Clearly, this is his idea of a success and he feels that he can justifiably ask the union's not to unseat him. Given that the alternatives are likely to be Blairites, he may well get his wish.

It should be noted that, with the electoral system weighted against the Conservatives, a hung parliament or a small majority are real possibilities. So there's every chance that Brown will still be Labour leader after the election (likely to be in May). The Tories will be chuffed with this. But it gets better for them...

Apparently, Brown wants to stay on to pave the way for Ed Balls to take over when he finally does step down. With Ed "Piers Fletcher-Dervish" Balls at Labour's helm, the Tories are guaranteed electoral success regardless of the system.

And today we hear revelations from the respected political journalist, Andrew Rawnsley, that Gordon Brown's much speculated about unstable temperament has indeed been a problem in the past. What's he been up to? Well, punching an aid, yanking a secretary out of her seat because she wasn't typing fast enough etc. You get the picture.

I'm not sure who will be more dismayed by the Prime Mentalist's insistence on staying on as Labour leader after the election: Blairites desparate to take over or Labour staffers afraid of a clunking fist in the face if they forget to sugar his coffee again.

Tessa Jowell admonished after failing nod head often enough during Prime Minister's question time

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Another Victory For British Justice

It's good to see another bastard motorist banged to rights for irresponsible and dangerous behaviour in the deadly weapon that is the murderous car.

Michael Mancini was caught BLOWING HIS NOSE while (barely) in control of his car. YES, he was stationary in a traffic jam at the time and YES, he had his hand break on, but just think for a minute...

What if a CHILD had walked past this man's open window (I imagine it was open, he sounds like the sort)... that child may have caught his ailment, she may then have sneezed while crossing the road, as a result not seen the police car roaring up the other side of the road to charge the careless driver and been SMASHED TO BITS!

Well done the police! Criminals such as nose blowers, those that hand in dumped shot guns in to police stations and Brazilians, will know they will not get away with their evil ways anymore.

Chris Morris is Back - His Target: Terrorists

I'm looking forward to the release of Chris Morris' Four Lions film later this year. Not one to shy away from satirising controversial topics like media coverage of  9/11 and paedophilia, he has now turned his sights onto British Islamic fundamentalist wanna-be terrorists.

Here's a clip...

I've been listening to various clips of Morris' old work tonight. I particulalry enjoyed this clip form his radio show on Greater London Radio...

WARNING: This clip contains the words "Christ's", "fat" and "cock", consecutively.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Why I'm Not Joining Labour

Another great spoof from The Red Rag website. This time of Labour's "Why I'm Joining Labour" web widget...

Also, after the interminable spoof Cameron posters over the past month, this made me laugh...

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Gordon Brown Is...

There's a well known, and rather amusing, partial search phrase that you can type into Google that causes the predictive search engine to produce some (mostly accurate) popular search terms.

I hadn't tried it for a long time until today. It seems that No. 10 has cottoned onto the ruse and they, or more likely their drone like new media activists, have been busily punching "Gordon Brown in a good Prime Minister" into the search engine to get that phrase to appear as a suggestion. The original predictive search suggestions were an accurate depiction of the contempt with which Brown is held by the British people (well, at least by those that use Google). In fact, most of the original phrases still come up, so all is not lost.

Luckily, I have a screen shot from back in May 2009 (that I used for a Facebook wall post) to compared today's with...

May 2009...

And today, with one Gordon friendly addition...

It's good to see them focused on the important things, like this. It's not as if there are any other major issues facing Britain today anyway, are there?

Yet More Damning Insights Into Brown's Bunker

Today, there have been yet more damning insights into to the dysfunctional world of this Labour government. The left leaning Guardian newspaper reports comments from the civil service union chief that should be headline news later (but I doubt that will be the case). Jonathan Baume, head of the FDA union (the Association of First Division Civil Servants), is quoted as saying:

"The dysfunction is partly political and partly organisational. No one is clear how the Treasury, the prime minister's office and the Cabinet Office actually loop together and come up with a coherent policy initiative. When Gordon Brown became prime minister no clear direction ever emerged from him."
The article goes on to report...
...gridlock at the heart of government, with mandarins meeting indecision in Downing Street, ministers who have "given up", and a culture of "government by announcement".

He [Jonathan Baume] complained of "a sense of malaise at the political level. Some ministers have clearly given up the fight and are focusing on what happens after the election. It's a very strange atmosphere."

And this just a few days after a report by the Institute for Government (funded by major Labour donor Lord Sainsbury, by the way) also drew the conclusion that Brown's government was weak, dysfunctional, that No 10 lacked any coherent strategy and was reduced to issuing reactionary "barmy ideas" from the centre etc etc.

I would recommend reading both links above to get the full picture of how bad things really are at the heart of our government.

...And this after the humiliating revelations by Labour's ex-General Secretary Peter Watt, about Brown's mental instability, indecision and control freakery... and now a dodgy fund used to finance his own political ambitions within the Labour party.

...And this after it was revealed, via a Parliamentary question, that there are no fewer than 12 Parliamentary Private Secretary roles remaining unfilled after Brown's reshuffle last June, because Labour MPs don't want to serve under Brown's "leadership".

It's hard to believe such damning insights, especially from independent civil servants, Labour Party insiders and sympathisers, into this governments operation aren't the top story in our newspapers and on our TV news programmes this week.

But, I suppose, "Gordon Brown is Incompetent" just isn't news any more.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Haiti Reporting - Another Example Of Lazy Journalism

The tragedy that has befallen Haiti is hard to exaggerate. So far 75,000 people have been buried and Haitian say the death toll could reach as high as 200,000. This is potentially up there with the Indian Ocean Tsunami disaster in 2004 in terms of loss of life.

Like everyone, I've been moved by the picture I've seen on my television screen over the past few days. But, increasingly, I've been irritated by the tone of some of the reports.

One thing that never fails to rub me up the wrong way is lazy journalism. It is all around us and most of the time we can't spot it, because we don't know enough about the subject to see the errors or understand the lazy assumptions being made. But every now and then, you can spot the patterns and tell tale signs. And so it is with the "US is not helping Haiti effectively/quickly enough" reporting.

I think I first spotted this assertion being made on the day after the earthquake. Now, I'm not saying the relief effort is perfect. But, it seems to me that the response was quick. Aid, plus the means to deliver it, were promised and sent by many countries within hours of the scale of the even becoming clear. The US, quite rightly being the richest nation and with Haiti on its doorstep, has taken the lead. But still this evening on ITV's News at Ten, I hear the same "it's not good enough" message. We're told there's a camp two miles outside an airport where aid is flown in, where no aid has been received. The reporter, standing in the middle of the camp, is incredulous.

"How can it be that aid flown in there [points at the airport] hasn't found it's way here".

He collars a senior military figure and tells him of this situation. The reporter is then flabbergasted that the senior officer didn't know the camp hadn't received aid yet. The reporter doesn't seem to understand that aid isn't distributed based on distance from the airport it was flown into. While it is wrong that that particular camp was not receiving supplies, there was no evidence that the people there were in the greatest need. A child was playing football in the background as the reporter spoke, for instance. 

Let's be clear. This is a disaster on an enormous scale. The logistical challenges of getting aid to where it is needed most are enormous. When these natural disaster occur, the rest of the world is rightly expected to react. But any delay in being seen to act is met with the same old "they don't care" cries, so there is precious little time to plan before deploying troops and distributing aid.

Therefore, it is no wonder mistakes are made but, from what I can see, I am actually rather impressed with the multi-national forces' efforts in providing aid as well as search and rescue services in what is an incredibly difficult environment.

Yes, there needs to be a review after the initial aid efforts are over and lesson's learnt. And I suspect more could be done in terms of how the international community organises itself in order to respond more quickly and effectively to these events. But lets not unfairly disparage the efforts being made on the ground now, just for the sake of easy journalism.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Be A Teacher

The Tories continue to flesh out their policies in the, very long, run up to the General Election this year.

Today they have stated that they want to improve the standing and quality of teachers in the state sector. Starting with raising the qualification standards for new entrants and encouraging those that have been successful in life to teach.

I wonder if they've been influenced to act by those Armstrong and Miller sketches...

Friday, January 15, 2010

Campbell & Dacre - A Match Made In Hell

Alastair Campbell Yesterday

Oooooh! Handbags at dawn! It seems Paul Dacre has really hit one of Alastair Campbell's particularly sensitive nerves. You can really sense the barely restrained hated for Dacre in Campbell's latest blog entry. As well as referring to the man in Nazi terms; those that work for the Mail as scum and relating it to dogshit, he's now suggesting Dacre's a repressed homosexual and...
"Hell hath no fury like a fag scorned, apparently"
...according to Campbell. I'm no fan of Paul Dacre or his newspaper and I'm sure there's all sorts of reasons to have a pop at him/it (not least today's failure of the Mail to lead with the disaster unfolding in Haiti). Let's not forget that Dacre is a man who's judgement is so appalling, he once described Gordon Brown (a friend of his - birds of a feather etc) as being "touched by the mantle of greatness". So, I'm not going to defend him.

But I love Campbell's deluded image of himself, exposed by this blog entry. He can't work out why Dacre (or anyone else for that matter) dislikes him so much. It can't be Alastair's warm and friendly personality or his unquestionable honesty, so what could it possibly be?..

OF COURSE... Dacre must be in love with him. It seems a psychologist rang him up to tell him as much recently. And that claim is as water tight as the claims he made in his dodgy dossier. As you read on it seems that anyone that pretends to dislike him or accuses him of dishonesty is, in fact, in love with him and wishes they could have hot, gay sex with him.

The funniest part of the blog is where he extends his theory to Peter Oborne, who wrote a book about political lying in which Campbell featured heavily. Campbell suggests that Oborne's description of him was somewhat homoerotic and says...
When Oborne was writing his soft porn about me, he was on the Express, but tried to flog his book to Die Mail [Nazi style reference to the Daily Mail], a move the Express blocked, saying he had to serialise it in his own paper. This drove the Kommandant [same again, this time referring to Dacre]into boil-erupting
The blog is funny in itself, but this bit is especially and unintentionally funny as Campbell wrote soft porn for Forum magazine before his Fleet Street career took off.

Now, I know his blog post is written tongue in cheek and no doubt he would respond to any criticism of it with accusations of a sense of humour failure on part of the critic. And if I should persist, no doubt it wouldn't be long before I'd be accused of being as gay as a lord and only upset because I'm not allowed to bum him. But we all remember that Campbell and co were very keen to court the Daily Mail and other so-called "Tory press" papers when they were in opposition and subsequently after they won the election in '97.Indeed The Daily Mail, under Dacre, supported New Labour up to the first glimpse of its true venal nature was exposed during the Ecclestone affair when Dacre first came into conflict with Campbell who was desperate to spin Labour's way out of the scandal.

But, it seems to me that, using the same psychological analysis, Campbell is just as much in love with Dacre as Dacre is with him. In fact I'd say they are made for each other. Rather than writing about each other, they should just move in with each other, retire from public life, stop inflicting their vicious bile on us and make sweet love together until all the hated inside them is purged and they can return to normal society.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Five More Years... Please

There's been a lot of talk of political posters recently. It's all rather pointless and childish and has therefore got my attention.

Gordon Brown had a dig at David Cameron today at Prime Minister's Question Time, regarding the airbrushed photo on a recent Tory poster. But Cameron's response was to ask how many Labour MPs would be putting their leader on the front of their campaign leaflets. About four MPs put their hands up (and they were probably some of the ones that were retiring at the next election anyway). However, lots of Conservative and Lib Dems MPs put their hands up, indicating what a vote winner Brown is for them. "You're being airbrushed out of the election campaign" quipped Cameron.

Gordon said that, if elected, he'd serve the full 5 year term. I'm not sure if Labour or Tory MPs were more pleased about that announcement.

Now I've not got any fancy software for airbrushing or manipulating images but I've used an application I have on my iPhone to knock this up. It's very rough and poor quality, I know, but it poses the central question the British people will be asked at the next election.

Shocking Scenes On The One Show

I was reading a news story about Ronnie Corbett being called a "little c*nt" by a senior executive on The One Show when my eyes were assaulted with this image...

These legs would be acceptable on a news reader as they would be safely tucked away under the news desk. But on The One Show they are on-show and we, the licence fee payer must be protected from such shocking scenes. My eyes were transfixed momentarily. At first I thought he was sitting on a small child's leg, but no, both legs are his. It even seems that they function normally, allowing him to actually put weight on them and move from one place to another. Although I can't imagine he could do so at speed.

I don't watch the show and no doubt there was uproar at the time and I'm months behind everyone else in my, completely proportionate and reasonable outrage. I can only hope The Daily Mail ran a successful campaign to ban these legs from our teleboxes. If they did, it is even more shocking that this image is reproduced on the pages of their news organ.

BTW I'm obviously appalled at the executive calling the beloved Ronnie Corbett such an offensive name. But the legs.. good God.. the legs... I can't get them out of my mind now.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

From Who To Watt In A Day

Labour activists had an emotional roller coaster of a day today, getting over excited about a frothy celeb news story, only to be pulled back down to Earth by a reality check about the competence and sanity of their leader.

I am (very) mildly amused by the excitement the statements made by ex-Dr Who star David Tennant regarding his support for Gordon Brown, have created amongst Labour supporters on Twitter. Why they are so excited by this "news" I have no idea. The guy has been a long standing socialist, even appearing in a Labour party political broadcast in 2005.

It's been interesting to see how reluctant many of the usual Labour luvvy suspects have been in coming out in public to admit their support for this Government, this time around. I hope those that have in the past now feel suitably ashamed of using their celebrity to influence some (admittedly highly suggestible) individuals to vote for Labour. The lies, the corruption and now the debt that will be around our and our children's necks in the coming decades, should be giving them more than pause for thought when considering coming out of the comrades closet this election year.

What irritates me most is the fact that these (mostly millionaire, sometimes non-dom) celebs have no idea what it's like to live and work (and I mean real jobs, not acting, stand-up comedy, singing etc) in the real world. In David Tennant's bizarre outburst against David Cameron and the Conservatives he illustrates this, and how out of touch he is, perfectly...

On fellow actors that don't share his hatred of the Tories he says they can't have any "understanding of the human condition" or "sympathy for their fellow man"...
"...You just think, 'Where did that come from? Have you read King Lear? Have you read Hamlet?"
I hope everyone reading this has read those plays, else you are most likely a heartless BASTARD unable to care for those less fortunate than yourself. For shame!

Just to undermine this theory of Tennant's, let's look at one comedy actor who recently revealed his anti Tory feelings by joining in (the mainly Labour driven) campaign against Boris Johnson's bus fare increases in London. Alan Davies did this in a small way via Twitter but then proceeded to abuse a 19 year old student, working for the Mayor, after she dared defend the policy in response to his tweets. He repeatedly said he was laughing at her, then produced his old trick of re-publishing her message to his whole Twitter followership (120,000 people) in order to unleash a flood of abuse from a small but devoted proportion of them who will attack anyone who dares disagree with their beloved curly haired celeb. And this from an actor whose understanding of the human condition and sympathy for his fellow man, leads him the conclusion that the best solution to homelessness is to EAT the homeless!

But regardless of all this, Labour activists were all over Twitter proclaiming, excitedly that Dr Who votes Labour! Tonight, their poor deluded little hearts will be sinking...

Revelations by former Labour General Secretary Peter Watt in a new book exposes Gordon Brown as a cowardly, unstable control freak whose incompetence leads to little confidence even amongst his inner circle of cabinet allies. The book is being serialised in the Mail on Sunday over the next few weeks. Have a read of the first instalment here.

But you've got to feel for the few loyal Labour activists that still believe Brown is the right man to lead them into this year's election. Recently, it's been one step forward followed by five steps back. They've gone from narrowing Tory poll leads before Christmas to a widening poll leads today; a good performance at PMQs to an attempted coup and now it is Dr Who to Mr Watt.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Labour Couldn't Even Organise A Coup in Bolivia*

Patricia Hewitt and Geoff Hoon. Photograph: Stephen Hird/ Toby Melville/Reuters

So all the rumours on Tuesday about a coup were, almost, right. Those rumours centred around a cabinet resignation triggering the overthrow of Uncle Gordo.

But, typical of the Labour party, and for the 3rd time since Brown finally managed to displace Blair after years his own coup plotting, it couldn't get its act together. The whole thing fell flat on it's malformed, premature face. Instead of a cabinet resignation all we got was a half arsed email circular to the Labour MPs suggesting they should support a call for a secret ballot on the Labour leadership. The perpetrators (or perpetraiters as some Brownite loyalists would have it) were the towering examples of competence: Geoff Hoon and Patricia Hewitt. As soon as I heard this I realised the coup was going nowhere... unless a cabinet minister was to resign, as rumoured the day before.

It turns out there were actually two cabinet ministers who had agreed to step down as part of the coup. Read this excellent piece from Labour MP, Eric Joyce. Since leaving the collective responsibility of government on a matter of principle, he has proven to be a reasoned and independent mind within Labour and his blog is well worth a read.

As Eric Joyce explains, the rebel cabinet ministers showed impeccable cowardice and left Hoon and Hewitt high and dry:

"The other thing was that the cabinet ministers who’d held back, and of course the couple who’d pledged to act...bottled.  Their (the two ministers) weakness was ridiculous – as are they.   A lot of people know who they are, including Gordon.’s most newsworthy detail was that two cabinet ministers created a flap in the pigeon coop, but turned out not to be foxes but chickens."

Hoon and Hewitt must be very bitter today as now they are being portrayed as insane malcontents acting out of personal revenge rather than any thought for the Labour party or country. Why they didn't act earlier in coordination with previous rebels is anyone's guess. Perhaps it's just further evidence of institutional incompetence within Labour?

There's been a lot of spin since, trying to suggest that Labour is in fact strongly unified behind Brown and this attempt was limited to these two bitter individuals. But the long delays in cabinet ministers coming out to support Brown puts the lie to these claims. And when David Miliband finally stepped up to comment, his support was so lukewarm you'd have needed Ariel Excel Gel to wash your clothes in it**.

So, it's clear there are real divisions within the Labour party from top to bottom, and little confidence in their leader. What I find shocking is the fact that these concerns have existed since well before Brown became leader and nobody did anything to stop him repacing Blair and subsequently nobody, with any degree of competence, has done anything to remove him.

I really do think this reflects badly on Labour as a party. It shows it up as weak, intellectually and morally bankrupt and completely in thrall of its leader and his small band of henchmen (no women of course, they are just window dressing!). There seems to be a real fear to step up and challenge the leadership. Of course this is not unknown in other political parties. But usually only when the leader is being successful. Like Cameron and the Tories now. There are many unhappy with the moderate direction he's taken the party, including the "Turnip Taliban" revolting in the shires whenever they're made to select from a list of candidates that's not exclusively made up of white, middle aged men. Cameron currently gets his way, tries to persuade, but ultimately imposes his will. But remember, it wasn't that long ago there was serious talk about his leadership when Brown had a brief renaissance with the voters on his ascension to the Labour throne. The Tories had no quarms getting rid of Thatcher when she looked like an election loser. Labour, today, is very different. They desparetly need a new leader but don't have wherewithal to do anything about it. It's not good for them and it's not good for our democracy.

But it seems this coup may not be the last before the election. This is an extract from an article in The Guardian by Allegra Stratton:
"Independent of the backbench rebels, a much more serious challenge to Brown's leadership has been crystallising involving the left of the party, the right of the party and indeed an individual inside Downing Street: it involves a carefully thought-out common platform which is neither Blairite nor Brownite.
However, it remains to be seen whether the individuals involved will believe a move on this platform now is the best thing for the Labour party."
I doubt anything will happen now. I think most of the cabinet is now resigned to fighting the next election with Brown at the helm and, unless Maddie is found in David Cameron's basement, losing.

* Bolivia has seen 193 coups since independence in 1825, and thus holds the dubious world record in the number of coups.

** I am so very sorry about this sentence. I've been cooped up in the house for few days and am going quite mad.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Disappointing Start To Election 2010

If it isn't bad enough that we're going to have to put up with months of electioneering, Monday's efforts, if indicative of what is to come, are worrying if not predictable.

My main gripe is with the broadcast media more than the politicians, however. I say broadcast as I've not had a chance to review the papers today, but assume they will follow in a similar style.

The Conservatives, at least, attempted to present some substance on their NHS plans by publishing the first in a series of "draft manifesto" policy announcements planned for the next few weeks. They also launched a poster campaign...

Labour, rather more negatively, published a dossier analysing Tory spending promises and tax plans and said it showed that their sums didn't add up.

And the Lib Dems probably did something or said something No one was listening, I'm afraid. 

So, all good so far. Then both Labour and Tory announcements had problems.
  • David Cameron seemingly watered down the Tory's previous commitment to married couples' taxation reform. They later clarified that they were committed to reform, but the damage was done.
  • Alastair Darling's dossier turned out to be almost as dodgy as Alastair Campbell's last effort at dossier writing. But, more significantly I believe, he exposed splits in opinion over future taxation policy and not a small amount of hypocrisy over the Government VAT plans (he said he refused to rule out a VAT increase but was attacking the Tories for saying exactly the same thing previously).
So, all normal rough and tumble of a political campaign then. What has irked me was the coverage I saw on BBC (and I have no doubt ITV and Sky were just as bad). The focus was entirely on Cameron's gaffe. The News at 9 even led with it as their top story - the most important thing that had happened in the world that day. I'd not extend this criticism to Newsnight, which handled the events of the day quite well, I thought.

What worries me is that, rather than attempting to inform the public of what the Conservatives were saying about their plans for the NHS and the deficit they focused on what was a relativity trivial slip up. 

They covered Alastair Darlings dossier respectfully and obediently used the "black hole" sound bites that would have appeared in their Labour press briefings. Labour should be very pleased with the coverage they got from that. I saw only a little (certainly not in-depth) analysis of the inaccuracies and dodgy assumptions made in the document. And I saw absolutely NOTHING about the really substantial story, the differences of opinion at the top of Government with regard to their taxation policy.

Given our dumbed down broadcast news services, it is no surprise that trivia is preferred over substance. It seems that if you want to get coverage you need to be negative or make a gaffe (no matter how small - it'll get blown up out of all proportion).

I hope the politicians, at least, try to have reasonably positive campaigns in the hope they will get fair coverage. But I can't see it, can you?

It would be nice to believe that, should there be a change in Government later this year, and with the already certain refresh of many MPs (due to the expenses scandal), that a new relationship between media and political establishment could be forged. Gaffes should be reported, of course (especially if they happen regularly and reflect some kind of personality defect), but not entirely at the expense of the substantial points being made. Let's have a bit of balance.

Thay say we get the politicians and media we deserve, though. So that doesn't say very much for us, does it?

Labour Coup Rumours

There's been a lot of chatter today about the possibility of a leadership challenge being sparked by a cabinet resignation. I read this from Paul Waugh in the Evening Standard earlier and now Tessa Jowell's name is being hawked around as the cabinet minister in question.

Subsequent gossip suggests she was thinking about resigning but is now not going to. Clearly Brown has slapped her into place...

It is a real shame if the rumour was true and, like the rest of this spineless cabinet, Jowell has bottled it in the end. What this country needs is Brown out, ASAP. And if Labour think the British people are stupid enough to elect whoever they replace him with in a panic, I suspect they'll have a rude awakening. But Cameron won't be happy if he does go. Brown is a massive asset to the Conservative Party and their majority would, most likely, be reduced if Labour were led by someone who was a least likeable.