Sunday, 28 February 2010

Don't Panic

What is going on? We have the worst Government in British History, led by a man who bullies his staff, dithers over decisions and micromanages his cabinet; is roundly loathed by a large portion of the Parliamentary Labour party and who demonstrably* has no plan should they win the election. There is no need to rehearse the awful state of the country after 13 years of Gordon Brown at the helm. Yet the polls, if they are to be believed are showing Labour well into largest single party, and possibly even into overall majority territory. What the bloody hell is going on, and what is Cameron & co playing at?


First. There is no denying polls have closed. Most of this is due to a rise in Labour certainty to vote, as the widespread assumption of a big Tory win has concentrated minds in the heartlands. Around half the country is on the Payroll - either benefit recipients or in jobs in the state sector. These people are clinging to nurse for fear of something worse. This has driven the Labour share from the High 20's to the mid 30's.

Second, the Tories have fluffed their lines. They have released un-thought-through policies into the ether in order to try to counter the "no policies" meme, and it backfired as they are picked apart. This is not, to be fair, the fault of the individual policies, but the failure to put them into an overarching narrative. Even Tories appear uncertain what Dave 'n co really stand for. Part of this is due to an unremittingly hostile broadcast media - and even the right-wing press is complaining: not right-wing enough, so Cameron has few allies amongst opinion formers. Do not mistake a general assumption that Gordon Brown is awful for support for Cameron. The Tory message is being distorted even by people most people would consider Conservative allies, So if you use primary sources - the Tory press releases, and have an eye on the policies to which they have committed, the picture is nothing like the popular perception. This failure to frame the narrative has seen the Tory share of the vote slip from the low 40's into the high 30's.
Nevertheless, this looks disastrous. But there are some silver linings in what looks like a pretty big rain cloud that would be a further 5 years of Brown as Prime Minister.

First, I don't believe the polls. I am aware that "a rouge poll is one with which you disagree", but the polls just don't reflect what I'm hearing down the Dog n' Duck. Most of the narrowing of the lead is a strengthening of the Labour vote and as such is out-with Cameron's control. If you assume, reasonably for the time being that one poll which put the Tories on 37 is a margin of error outlier, and the real position is 39 or so, then Cameron is still in winning territory. Just. Furthermore, there are large adjustments being made, by YouGov especially, which enhance the Labour vote. I suspect this is due to false recall (not admitting to voting Labour in 2005) being misinterpreted as an undersampling of Labour. This is a reverse of the 'Shy Tory' effect from the '90s which accounted for the polling organisations' embarassment in 1992.

I trudged the streets of Edinburgh in 1997 on behalf of the Conservative party, so I know what political unpopularity looks like. I am canvassing Lib/Lab marginals now and I am not seeing Labour voters at all. Many ex-labour voters are voting BNP, not voting or even volounteering that "it's the other lot's turn". Gordon Brown is universally described as "that bloody/fucking/useless man in Downing St." (delete as applicable). The English marginals is where the election is to be won, and they are polling very differently. The Labour party may pile up votes amongst the Party's clients in Hull and toilets north, but not where they are needed.

"Swingback" doesn't exist. What has happened in most elections since the war is that the Tories almost always do better in the Campaign than Labour - that is they poll better than the opinion polling suggested when the election was called. And I suspect that this will be even larger this time. 4 weeks of Gordon vs Cameron means that the people will be reminded of just how awful the Prime Mentalist is. Plus there's the added bonus that he's never fought a competitive election before in his life. There is a chance he'll lose it on air as the pressure gets to him. Labourites think the nation is seeing through Cameron, but he's hardly got a look-in on the broadcast media in the last couple of weeks and Smithson's second rule is that the Tories poll in proportion to the air time Cameron gets. (The first, for your information is that the poll which shows Labour worst is usually correct).

Finally, there is the ground war. The Conservatives have by far the largest number of members and activists sheperded by the largest number of councillors and they have the biggest war chest - it's not just ashcroft. Those Councillors pay directly into their party's machine. This means not only can they get more leaflets through doors, but that these are cheaper to deliver (an army of deliverers, not the postal system). As tedious as it seems, leaflets win elections. Do not mistake UKIP activists bleating on Conservative home for dissent. Cameron is popular amongst the grass-roots of his party, who are motivated and keen to see the end of the most catastrophic administration in this country's history, and will continue to trudge pavements in all weathers knowing that each leaflet through the door is a knife through Gordon's heart. I'm even getting apolitical people to "do their bit" by spending an afternoon delivering in a local marginal. Gordon Brown is HATED in middle England.

These factors combined mean that I am confident that the Tories will be returned to office after 13 God-awful years of Labour incompetence. This post is not the place to discuss whether you like Cameron, Osborne, or the Policies they've come up with. I have written enough posts about the ones I do, and the ones I don't. This is about the polls, the Liklihood and nessesity of Conservative victory and whether my recent spread bet (buying Tory seats on the basis that this is as good as it's gonna get for Brown and Co) is a good one.

For Conservative activists and anyone who hates Brown. There is an election to be won. Stop panicing. Back to your posts, Gentlemen. The enemy is to your left.

*There are no policies or announcements of policies on their website, which is covered in "aren't the Tories evil" comments. And they accuse the Tories of negative campaigning.



Thursday, 25 February 2010

Friends and Allies

One of the most shameful aspects of Labour's 13 years in power is a self-loathing abasement of this country in the Great councils of the world. The Labour lefty world-view is that the UK is a bastion of class privilege, imperialism and oppression. But whilst they hate the USA they have a paradoxical fixation with American power.

America regards the UK as the 51st state, in foreign policy because we don't stand up for ourselves. Tony Blair demanded a lot and got... nothing in Iraq because he showed his aces early. A lot of commentators are giving Obama a hard time for his attitude to the Falklands. First, because there is not going to be a shooting war, he doesn't give a shit. And he's quite right not to. Why should he jeapordise his relationship with Latin America when they're just acting like teenagers shouting abuse at the grown-ups? Britain is quite capable of defending the Islands with the forces there and on route, which includes (another?) Nuclear submarine. An ARA corvette? Please.

America has interests in the region. Nevertheless, they recognise the UK's administration of the islands, but remain neutral over the issue of soverignty. They aren't calling for negotiations, offiering arbitration or demanding the UK go to the UN. The fact is that whatever the Argentines do, they will be up against the fact that UN resolution 502 called on the Argentines to withdraw in 1982, and when they didn't they had their arse comprehensively handed to them. They can huf and puff, but possession and the UN principle of self-determination means unless the Argenitians want to sacrifice an astonishing amount of blood and treasure to gain posession of a windswept sheep-farm home to a thousand people and a bit of Oil, huffing and puffing with Chavez is all they are going to do. So the USA has nothing to gain, and everything to lose in its delicate diplomatic efforts in the region by making too strong a statement in support of the UK. Everyone who is whinging about Obama not supporting the UK when we don't need it, should be doing something about this.

Instead of worrying about the South Atlantic where we can defend our interests, we should be concentrating on that bloody one-sided extradition treaty traitor Blair signed in order to get a tummy-rub off Bush. The Americans don't have to offer prima-facie evidence in order to secure an extradition, but the US courts are not so obliging when they have terrorists or fraudsters we want. As ever, Labour had Brown people muslims terrorists in mind when they signed it, but as is the nature of Labour legislation, it ends up getting turned on everyone. In this case a blameless former director of Morgan Crucible.

America is an Ally. And if it came to shooting, the entrenched military and intelligence co-operation between our nations would see to it that the US offered its support. It doesn't mean they should be forced to support us in everything and fight our battles, nor does it mean their courts are sovereign over ours. Norris & others should stay in the UK, and we should have the self-confidence to tell the USA to fuck off once in a while.



I want one of these so so badly, It hurts

A Martin Jet Pack

$50,000 to you, sir.



Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Targets over People

The Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust hospital represents a microcosm of what is wrong with Labour's approach in office. From the conclusions to the report published today:

1. This has been a story of a trust which has, over a sustained period of time, failed to deliver acceptable standards of care to many of its patients. It is appropriate to echo a statement made by Florence Nightingale 150 years ago:
It may seem a strange principle to enunciate as the very first requirement in a Hospital that it should do the sick no harm.
2. Unfortunately, this requirement has not been met at Stafford Hospital. While it is true that in some of its activities it has achieved good standards which have attracted praise, the deficiencies identified in this report are too widespread and too fundamental to be brushed off as isolated examples of lapses in standards that might be encountered in any healthcare organisation, however well run. What this investigation has uncovered is failure on a scale that cannot be adequately expressed in statistics – indeed, over-reliance on figures has been one of the reasons for the Trust’s failings....

10. A common response to concerns has been to refer to data, often of a very generic type such as star ratings, CNST levels and so on, rather than to the experiences of patients and their families...

12. While structures are an important and necessary part of governance, what is really important is that they deliver the desired outcome, namely safe and good quality care. There is evidence that setting up systems predominated over improving actual outcomes for patients...

13. Another aspect of the preference for figures rather than people has been the failure to listen, or to listen properly. Many of the complaints made to the Inquiry had already been made in precisely the same terms to the Trust. Many of them, even if taken on their own as one person’s observation, should have been enough to alert a listener to the existence of a serious systemic problem.

15. There is evidence of a worrying acceptance of poor care, of poor behaviour among colleagues being condoned and of potentially dishonest behaviour being encouraged....

26. The Board gained unjustified reassurance about the trust's standards of performance from external assessments without taking into account the fact that most of these were based on information generated from the trust itself....
You only need to listen to Gordon Brown at PMQs spouting tractor-production statistics about money invested spent on a given issue to realise that the faults of the Mid Staffordshire hospital trust are failings that come from the very top of Government.

Labour's whole approach to management of the country's services has failed with disastrous results for the users of those services, and the finances of the country.

Spending is not a proxy for delivery any more than Star ratings matter more than old Ladies being left alone, ignored and unfed; soiled by their own faeces in sheets unwashed for a month. Putting targets and process over people's human needs is a feature of large, overbearing bureaucracy.

For pity's sake, smash the monstrous NHS into manageable chunks. It can still be free at the point of delivery, but make its scale more human. Lefties... Listen to the right on this. Make the patients CUSTOMERS, whose welfare is front and centre of Hospital priorities rather than mere statistics in a dehumanising bureaucratic machine. The other option is not the inefficiencies of the American system but something like the health systems of Canada, Germany or France, which in my direct experience WORK.

Please, lefties, stop Eulogising the NHS. It does NOT WORK.



ODI Double Ton.

Now I'm not a huge fan of the shorter forms of the game, but this is worth pointing out: A double century in an One Day International. We haven't heard much from the world's most popular sportsman, Sachin Tendulkar of late, but this goes to show that form is temporary. Class is permanent. This was no slog-fest: there were only 3 sixes. True he needed a little help from Dhoni to get over the line, as it looked like he might be marooned at the non-strikers end at 199, but he got there.

One more cricketing Everest conquered by the little magician.



Argie Bargy

Much is being made of Argentine "Sabre Rattling" over the Falkland Islands. Especially by the BBC who seem to want the opportunity to paint the Ditherer in No.10 as a resolute war leader (because it worked for Maggie in her first term). There are several crucial differences to 1982; including the defences of the islands. In 1982 there was an unarmed Survey vessel and 80 Royal Marines. Now there are something like 1700 personnel on the Islands including 4 Typhoon fighters, a Frigate or destroyer and a Nuclear submarine and a couple of companies of troops, and a company of Falklands defence force.


Against a vietnam-era airforce equipped with mostly Mirages operating at their extreme range, 4 Typhoons would probably be enough to deny air superiority over the Islands. Their Navy is no more capable than in 1982, and has no longer has Landing craft, and is still vulnerable to the Nuclear submarines of the Royal Navy. The Entire Argentine Fleets spends fewer days at sea than does a single Royal Naval Frigate. The Argentine Army is professional, and probably superior to the conscript army they put into the field in 1982, but has not been in action and is  a great deal smaller. Will it be a match for a British force most of whose personnel have seen active service somewhere?

The Argentines, even if they had the forces capable of mounting an invasion like 1982, which they don't, wouldn't get near the Islands, and if they did, would find them much, much better defended.

Now, Travelgall is preparing a piece in which he describes a scenario in which Brazil lends its flat-top, Venezuela lends it's top of the range fighters and South-America pulls together to recapture Las Malvinas against the wishes of the UN and the United States (who remains a NATO ally of the UK)

Nah.... It ain't going to happen.

Demanding the Malvinas back is for Argentine domestic consumption. Because it is not a credible threat, it is essentially free, just as it is for the South-American talking-shop. The Falkland Islanders are British, want to remain British (at least until their oil wealth makes it more advantageous to be totally independent...) and have the UN resolutions granting them that right. Nothing is going to change that.

Far more news time than is necessary is being given to the empty posturing of a bankrupt third world country (that's Argentina, though that would describe Britain in 5 years if Brown gets in again).



Tuesday, 23 February 2010

It's Equally Shit Everywhere

You know how we Brits love to complain about how the country grinds to a halt at the first dusting of snow? Well, it appears that other countries' governments are just as incompetent. It is not unique to the UK, but Government run ANYTHING, ANYWHERE is going to be just a little bit crap.


This is a Snow Melter, an emergency purchase in 2003 by the officials of Washington DC of some $170,000 from Nova Scotia, where they know a thing or two about snow.

Image from here

It was however
"too difficult to use and not worth using again"
during this years DC big freeze (yes, warmists, it was cold on the other side of the Atlantic too) and sat idle on the parking lot. The moto of the story is the less the Government runs, the less inadequate crap service there will be.

Tip of the tifter to the wonderful M.A.



Monday, 22 February 2010

The very least of his crimes

So...

Those Brown Bullying allegations are top of the news for a second day. What we need now is for one of his victims to come forward publicly otherwise this will remain innuendo. But the stories are so numerous, and come from multiple sources (not just Rawnsley's and Watt's books) that I am inclined to believe them, or at least the characterisation of a man utterly unfit for high office who is embarrassingly obsequious to those he regards as important and a vindictive bully to those beneath him.

But then I already knew that. Brown has been the subject of this blog's ire since 2005 when I started writing. It turns out that he wasn't the high-minded custodian of the nations finances and political heavyweight that his supporters from the left thought he was. I was in fact the incompetent, meddling, psychologically flawed, economically illiterate, deeply partisan, hate-filled monster that we, his opponents, though he was. His aim is the maintenance of the Labour party in power and the defeat of a Tory Party he regards as evil. The good of the country comes a distant second to the good of the Labour party. He's even stooped to gerrymandering the electoral system at the point he's about to lose.

The nations constitution is in ruins, the economy is in tatters, our Nation's armed forces are overstretched and underfunded, (whisper it) nearly broken after a decade of Tony's wars which Gordon refused to fund.

He is a laughing stock in world forums, in part because world leaders do not like to be lectured on economics by a man (degree: the History of the Scottish Labour party) who has taken the best performing country in Europe and left it with a 10% Structural deficit and comfortably the worst recession of any major country. And in part because he's just socially weird.

This man has ruined the Nations he leads.

And now the country has woken up to this man's manifest unfitness for the office he holds. Because he abuses underlings. To my mind, that is the least of his crimes. And I take no pleasure in saying "I told you so".



Britblog Roundup # 261

Is up over at Philobiblon.



Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Britblog roundup #260

Is up at the lovely Trixy's place. It's Philobiblon next week, so get nominating. Britblog [at] gmail [dot] com.



Monday, 15 February 2010

Luvvie Tax

It seems that some assorted Luvvies have found something else to do with their lives since they realised the utter pointlessness of devoting their lives to the art of “Dress up and Pretend”. They have dreamt up a “Robin Hood” tax where banks pay a minimum 0.005% (note Minimum, they make no mention at all of the maximum) tax for being a bank, the money going to the causes de jour of these self appointed guardians of world economics and morality.

The rather obvious point is that they decided on picking somebody else’s industry for the joy of funding their pet projects. No “Robin Hood” tax on their dreary 2 hour lectures dressed up as entertainment. No Tobin Tax for an industry that requires nothing more than memorising a really short book and being able to regurgitate it in front of a camera; or if you’re an actress regurgitate both the two pages of your script and your breakfast. Indeed, if memory serves me right the UK film industry is constantly arguing for less taxes all the time so they can make another film all about how wonderful Socialism is. So for them to ask for more taxes for somebody else sticks in ones craw just a tad. We all know why they’ve done it of course, Bankers are bigger pantomime villains right now than the signposted baddies in one of their god awful films; and they want to strike before people work out that fiscal policy shouldn't be dictated by a man who pretends to be a Squid for Disney.

For all their claims about ending world poverty, I notice none of them fired up the Prius to take some canned goods to Haiti unless their fucking Scientology minister threatened them with more dead space aliens. Granted they did a telethon for the place in the States, but then Actors getting free publicity by appearing on TV is hardly pushing the bloody boat out. It’s a bit like Paula Radcliffe doing the Nike 5km fun run and asking for sponsorship. If you could get them off the "Electric Fish Tank" then that would be worth sponsorship. I’d pay more money to Haiti if I could get George Clooney to promise not to make another film for a year

Banks create jobs that grow industry and business, the Film industry creates jobs that mean you no longer have to dig a ditch for a co-star when filming Dustin Hoffman. You can now CGI him into looking like he could play Point Guard for the Detroit Pistons. Now this is great for Dustin who previously didn’t have the imagination to pretend he could play in the NBA, but really fuck all use to anybody else. The only real jobs created by the UK film industry are the blokes on a 12 Hour shift in Shenzhen, who are making the Love Actually DVD’s that are now makeshift Coffee coasters, and the catering van knocking up bacon and egg sandwiches to fat lighting technicians. Luvvies are not pulling their weight quite frankly, so I suggest the following…

Tax the cost of one goat per village in Botswana every time a British film re-writes history to show their political causes and ideals in a better light than they would otherwise. E.g. Richard Curtis, the Labour Supporting luvvie’s wet dream jerk off when he gets a Tony Blairesque Hugh Grant to tell George Bush to sod off in Love Actually. Or when, oh let me think Richard Curtis, the Labour supporting Luvvie pretends that it was those evil Tories who tried to shut down pirate radio stations in the 60’s when it was in actual fact those wonderful progressive comrades who didn’t like competition to the State in “The Boat that rocked”. Or Richard Curtis; who changed history in Blackadder to re-write all officers as buffoons as anything else wouldn’t fit his anti-military stereotype. Or Richard Curtis who used the TV drama “The Girl in the CafĂ©” and “The Vicar of Dibley” to plug his previous incarnation of his poverty campaign before Jews Bankers became available to extort.

Tax the cost of replanting 10,000 acres of Brazilian Hardwoods every time a director says how “wonderful it was to work with X” on the DVD commentary.

Fine a writer his entire wealth and give it to Rwanda every time he writes a script on how the fit bird falls for the shy writer.

Fine a director the cost of 100,000 MRE packs every time he has a 40 year old lead man boning a barely post pubescent actress on film.

Tax the studio its entire post tax profits if anybody mentions anywhere in the Publicity or interviews about how "It's wonderful that people devote their lives to telling stories and making people happy". No it isn't wonderful, its fucking tragic. I make my Godson happy reading him Barney the Dinosaur - whoopie doo.

Every British film will have to pay a package tax of £100,000 every time a Codpiece, Ruff, or pair of tights on a man can be spotted by the BBFC.

We can create a better Britain with these taxes. We can drive these people from our shores to France where they also make crap films nobody wants to watch. No longer will Leicester Square be blocked off so these walking adverts to the scourge of Bulimia can go hassle free into their self congratulatory circle jerk Premieres. Our trees will no longer die in vain; proper news will cover the noble Pine and Birtches’ sacrifice rather than some drivel on neck lines and vintage Ralph Lauren. And we’ll get good films, from America, with Machine Guns, and a Car Chase, and Bruce Willis, and an actress, with implants. Our London shops will get a proper meat counter back, rather than having to share it with some shite called Tapenade in earthenware bowls. Britain will be free of Alan Rickman’s view of the Israeli Palestinian conflict, Ken Loach’s “Contribution” to Anglo-Irish relations and; lets not fuck about here, every single fucking one of them on how we should all drive a Prius and canoe to our Holiday destination (with the exception of our Luvvie Intelligentsia who simply need their Gulfstream G5’s to pick up their Palme d'Pretentious). And we don’t even need to think too hard for a new name for this tax. A vulgar name for female genitalia followed by the word Tax seems a good starting point.



Welshman in a Golf-Cart

Saturday's Wales Scotland game was a cracker.

Being half scots, last week I was delighted to see (at long, long last) a Scotland team playing with some guts against someone other than England last week at Murrayfield. So there was actual hope (unsaid, mind) for an upset in Cardiff. Suddenly there were Scots scoring... wait for it... y'know... like... actual... tries. Yes! Tries... Plural! They were ahead, and out-playing the side I'd my money on to win the championship at the start. The Boyos were stunned, on the back foot and reeling. Then with 10 minutes to go Scotland, in danger of... winning a game, choked. A couple of players got sent off and the game turned. It was horrible to watch, and the Welsh try in the last minutes had an air of inevitability about it.

Naturally the Welsh team have every right to celebrate. And I am very glad that in these days of ultra professionalism, after a big game, the lads can still let their hair down.

Which is why Andy Powell (Llanelli, Cardiff, Wales and the Lions) was found in a golf-cart heading towards the M4. He failed the breath-test. Y'think?


Drink driving? It was a fucking golf-cart, and he was getting breakfast.

"We take player conduct extremely seriously"
said some po-faced twat from the WRU. I say Congratulations that man for reassuring me that the Game of Rugby Union hasn't changed all that much. I hope your ban is short, and your penalty slight. I can't believe a Welsh copper didn't say "well-played, boyo. Now get in the car, I'll give you a lift home".

Society really needs to get a grip of this administrative hyperactivity and creeping puritanism.



Tears for Piers

At 10:15 on Valentine's day, we, the British people were treated to a 30 minute Party Political Broadcast on behalf of Gordon Brown - a supposedly "difficult" interview where the interlocutor was "not going to shy away from hard questions".

Questions like

"how did you manage to be so jolly clever and brilliant, and such a good sportsman too?"
And
"did all the girls fancy you, or just most of them?"
Not questions like
"did you think it prudent to run up the OECD's largest deficit during a boom?"
or
"did you really think you'd abolished boom and bust. Honestly?"
This abortion of a political interview must breech impartiality rules, especially so close to the election. But what ever the rights and wrongs, There is no doubt that Gordon Brown came over as reasonably human. He may even enjoy a poll boost from it. But I cannot help thinking that all those questions about his love-life and the fawning C'leb style of the show must diminish the role and office of Prime Minister and that cannot be a good thing. People expect dignity from their politicians and do not vote out of pity.

Indeed he's transparently using his dead child for sympathy votes, something he once vowed he'd never do. Such cynicism is rarely rewarded by an electorate. Perhaps Tony Blair could have got away with it, but politics is debased, politicians are loathed and Gordon Brown is the most loathed of them (south of Hadrian's wall, anyway). I imagine that he and his advisers though this a Jolly good wheeze, but will almost inevitably fall to the reverse Midas touch of Gordoom.

Do you know what the most noticeable thing about the broadcast was to me?

In the first advertising break there were no Adverts. So few companies wanted to be associated with Brown's life that they could not sell the space in a much trailed program on a Sunday evening on Valentine's day.

Money talks.



Friday, 12 February 2010

How the Afghans Defeated the USA

No. (via) Not military defeat. Cricket: Afghanistan went into bat in Dubai, scoring 135 - 4. This left their bowlers some work to do and they performed well including a first ball wicket from Hamid Hassan, Afghanistan's star bowler; America scored just 106-7, meaning the Afghans won by 29 runs.

One day all nationalistic rivalries will be settled on the sports field, where they belong and as a result, even America will be forced to play the same sports as everyone else. As indeed they used to before the inexplicable rise in popularity of rounders baseball, and the ideas of American Exceptionalism. It is a shame the USA stopped playing cricket, despite them contesting the first ever international cricket match in 1844, against Canada which remains sport's longest-running continuously played international fixture. They were apparently quite good once. Though it is difficult to believe, cricket was popular in the USA up until the first world war.

Cricket in Afghanistan was so popular even the Taliban couldn't ban it and the Country became an associate member of the ICC in 2000.

These are not matters of life and death. This is Cricket. Who needs war, when you've something much more important to worry about, like the Umpire's interpretation of the LBW law? It's things like this that can win hearts and minds.



Thursday, 11 February 2010

Quote of the Day

"And I don't view the financial crisis as a failure of free markets but as a series of failures within a market in which decisions and incentives were heavily influenced by government actions"
The future of Capitalism



Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Socialist Morality

This is why John Redwood is one of a small number of MPs in my blogroll. He actually has something to say, rather than indulging in party-line hackery.

Speculators helped save the UK from the political madness of the Exchange Rate Mechanism, forced upon us by all three main political parties
For my part, when Governments start blaming "speculators", it's time to start shorting that country's currency. Now... What's the Euro done this week? Greek bonds?



Tuesday, 9 February 2010

The Westminster Skeptic: Does Blogging Matter?

Does Political Blogging matter? was the question put to Sunny Hundal, Mick Fealty, Paul Staines and Jonathan Isaby by Nick Cohen. This provided a great excuse to meet up with Travelgal and have a few (ok, a few more than a few) bevvies. But not before some interesting points were raised and discussed.

The charge that the readership of the political blogs is minute. If you're reading this, you're one of about a thousand or so compared to millions for a Newspaper. We are not doing anything other than commenting on the output of newspapers, and have not replaced the investigative journalism which is dying out in the mainstream media.

All the panellists denied the charge that blogs are not breaking stories - Sunny bleated on about nit-picking Boris Johnson's team, Mick talked about a commenter on So'T who broke a story about something to do with Northern Irish politics, Guido allowed the 'Brown's bonkers' line of attack and of Con Home getting Hunky Dunky kicked off the front bench. Jonathan Isaby noted Conservative Home's publishing of the now-defunct A-list of candidates.

I don't think this charge stuck. Nor, did the charge that there is no money to be made from blogging. Without money, there can be nobody knocking on doors, asking questions. Ignoring the journalistic vanity for a minute, what does it matter who does the digging?If concerned citizens have a story, they have a platform to get it out there - a blog, comments on blogs, e-mailing a blogger, that didn't exist before. There is no need for legions of paid journalists - citizens acting in their community's self interest will do the trick. In any case, journalists do not do the reporting, Reuters and AP do it, and the papers merely churn the release from the wires with a little re-writing. The near identical copy in the Times, Telegraph and Grauniad testifies to this. The Mainstream media therefore differentiates by opinion, and Polly Toynbee, for example, is certainly no better at this than the best bloggers.

If bloggers aren't doing the investigative journalism, then neither are the papers.

If there is something that makes political blogging matter it is the audience. Everyone in politics reads Con Home, Guido, and if you have any interest at all in the Province, Slugger O'Toole. The figures are better than for the papers. It doesn't matter if you only have a couple of thousand readers, if those readers are MPs and captains of Industry.

What is more important is the Movement politics - you can gather a group of like-minded people: a few thousand libertarian, tens of thousands of socialists or conservatives and speak, discuss and interact. This allows Con Home to put pressure on the leadership in a way not yet managed by any other party's grass roots website.

Whether political blogging can be as revolutionary as the printing press, and disaggregate decision making (as Douglas Carswell's wiki bill, or the Conservatives' 'wisdom of crowds' prize hint at) allowing for politicians to develop an individual following, bypassing party structures and reinvigorating representative democracy; as blogging's most fervent supporters hope, is at best an aspiration. As is the hope that blogging can become a platform for policy development. Nevertheless, it has certainly reduced the power of the party centres by giving the activists a voice that the leadership can hear. It is Gordon Brown's deafness to this which is his main failing - still stuck in the smoke-filled rooms of Scottish Labour politics and possessed of a tin ear to the electorate which will ultimately loose him the election. Contrast with the Conservative engagement with the electorate - webCameron is imperfect but better than any Labour effort - his engagement with the activists will help get the boots on the ground in an election campaign.

Will blogging change the result of the next election? No. Not yet. But there is no doubt that it is part of politics for good.



Monday, 8 February 2010

Scottish Politics

Watch this interview with Jim Devine (soon to be ex) MP. Most English people will see a spectacularly incompetent man who's been caught with his fingers in the till, wriggling on the hook. Most Scottish people, it seems, will see a working-class Scot being bullied by a middle-class Englishman.

This is why Scotland still prefers Gordon Brown to David Cameron. They would rather see one of their own, no matter how useless, than one of the hated other tribe of Britain in the top job. Until Scots demand higher standards of their MPs than accepting whining "the shop-steward made me do it" when caught, the sooner Scotland will cease to be a second-world hell-hole.



Britblog Roundup #259

is up over at Charles Crawford's place. As he mentions, the hosts (of which I am one) have been...

...bellowing primaevally among themselves about what and how the Roundup should round up. Only one death so far…
Which is a shame, for the host we've lost is the one who has done the most work in nominating and sparking discussion. For my part, I try to give the round-up a narrative, rather than make it a boring list of posts. The aim, as I see it, is to drive people to the links rather and stating that you don't agree with them does that as effectively as saying that you do. Inclusion is the watchword - you have to include all nominated posts*, but you don't have to be impartial about that which you include. I have offended people in the past, and that is not my aim.

Needless to say Charles doesn't offend anyone this time, as befits a diplomat.

I was remiss at not linking last week's, so here it is, at Suz' Blog.

The other thing this process needs if it is not to become tedious link-whoring, is that all the hosts (and I am remiss in this regard too. Mea Maxima Culpa), and those who enjoy reading the roundup is to NOMINATE - not huge lists, but one or two a week from lots of different people. Especially if you come across a new blog. You're allowed ONE self-nomination a week - use it! The hosts will add a few of their own selections to impart their voice onto the roundup, otherwise the same people writing at the same blogs get the links each week, and it gets incestuous.

It's Trixy next week, so give her something to work with by nominating a couple of posts, and the best of your own, by emailing the link to Britblog [at] gmail [dot] com. Let's keep the weekly carnival something worth reading!

*Abuse of this rule will not be tolerated.



Friday, 5 February 2010

Common Law

Unity gets it spot on with a defence of "the Judges" in our common Law system. Now if we could just get our politicians to stop muddying the water with a new law a day, then the judges can get on with dispensing justice and interpreting that law.

So Apparently, if Andy Coulson, the Tories #3 gets his way, the first Queen's speech under the Tories will contain no Legislation (apart from possibly a great repeal bill). This indicates to me the Tories ARE going to be different, very different to the Government which has showered the country with legislative diarrhoea for nearly 13 years, Giving rights where none are needed (under common Law, you have a right to do anything you like that isn't prescribed - no positive right to breast feed in public is needed, for example) Perhaps they understand the principles of common law and are not, as Unity puts it

"ignorant, mouth-breathing moron[s] who knows nothing of this country’s history and even less about its legal and judicial system"
Perhaps they are on to something. Perhaps Unity will thus describe his fellow LibCon blogger Don Paskini and tell him
"just this once I want you to listen up, numb-nuts"
Or Perhaps not.



Thursday, 4 February 2010

Who's Next?

In a shock Development, Shyster, Swindle & Pratt, lawyers acting for Chris Mullin and Alan Plater sued minor British blogger, A Very British Dude for trademark infringement, arguing that people searching for mr. Mullin's 1982 Novel or Mr Plater's screenplay first aired on Channel 4 in 1988, both titled 'A Very British Coup', might be confused by this Blog's title.

They further argued that they sought to limit the use of the phrase "A Very British..." to only those instances referring to the book or screenplay, unless prior permission is granted in writing (apply to Shyster, Swindle & Pratt). They made further allegations concerning content, suggesting that the blog's title was itself subversive, noting the Pseudonymous author's military experience and dislike of the present Government.

"whilst I am not suggesting that mr. Jackart is planning a military coup against the Labour Government, it cannot be ruled out. Can you be too careful in times such as these?"
he added. Peter Mandelson was seen leaving the building shortly before the press conference.

Naturally I am referring messers Shyster, Swindle & Pratt to the answer given to the plaintiff in the case of Arkell vs. Pressdram.

As is Tory Politico in a similar case. I wish him luck.



CCHQ Memo to Tory Bloggers?

I've seen some pathetic stuff from Sunny Hundal, over at Liberal Conspiracy in my time, but this is the most egregious. He's trying to ask us to believe there's something wrong with Eric Pickles asking the broad church of the Tory inclined blogosphere to do some work countering Labour's lies.

For the Record Mr Pickles rejected a daily memo or a Coordinated line for Tory bloggers to take, suggesting (rightly) that we're too bloody-minded to take it on board anyway, and he praised the independence we showed. "Conservatives", he said, "do not want to control everything. We'll leave that to the socialists".

Instead someone fed us booze, and the survivors were forced to listen to me sing. My rendition of Mr Big's 'To be with you' was emphatically not some plan to torture the blue blogs into compliance, however it must have seemed.

This is how it should have sounded.



Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Defence

This useless shower of shit of a government has destroyed everything it touches. Anybody who votes for them at the next election needs sectioning. The only area our government hasn't fire hosed money at is the Services, and this is at the same time they asked them to fight two wars. And now the only area that hasn't had Gordon throwing money at it is being asked to cut. They are making their decisions on the future security of the country on the fact that some fucking aircraft carriers are built in ZanuLabour voting areas. Do we need the Carriers - yes, but let it be at the expense of "Diversity Outreach Co-ordinators" and other pointless civil servants rather than front line infantry.

And for these retards to trust the French on defence co-operation blows the mind. If history proves one thing, trusting France with our mutual security and doing the right thing died the minute Sir James Somerville was forced to open fire at Mers-el-Kebir. Everything France does is designed to screw Britain over, as the EU Finance minister appointment so admirably proves. Trusting France is like trusting a child molester to run the plastic bubble pit in a creche.



The 2010 election will be Rigged?

Personally, I don't think it will be. But via a comment in a Political Betting thread, I come across a Blog called The Tap.

Does anyone know whether this is a tinfoil hat wearing, socially inaquate conspiracy theorist who bashes away at a keyboard in his underwear at his parents' house where he still lives, between extended masturbation sessions to 'StarTrek the Next Generation'. Or is it a beautiful piece of satire?

He's been added to the reader pending a decision.



Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Shit that stinks least.

I'm often asked why I'm voting Tory. Those to the right of me cannot believe I haven't seen through spam Cam, and those to the left think I'm merely tribal.

Here is my reasoning. The Tories are the shit that stinks least. And by some margin.

Look at this idiocy to which a fair percentage of the parliamentary Labour party has put its name. I cannot vote for these illiterate, posturing bufoons, or anyone associated with this feeble document. Leave aside a track record of bankrupting countries, Labour are awful and ghastly on a level which transends philosophy. You could summon the best wordsmiths in the English speaking world and force them to describe the sheer horror of a Labour government, under pain of death, and they would still fail to describe fully my contempt for this bunch of Wankers. I'd commit suicide before I voted Labour.

The Liberal Democrats are loyal to their country, The United States of Europe, not my country, The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. And they support PR, which is stupid and self-serving. And in any case they're a bunch of sandal-wearing cunts without the guts to admit they're Socialist. I wouldn't trust them to run a public lavatory without eating the deposits, let alone a country.

Which leaves the Tories.


If we're going to continue with the fecal metaphor (and it's my blog, so I will), the Labour party are diarrhoea after a particularly savage dose of Gastroenteritis: a type 7, but with blood and intestinal lining included as your bowels prolapse. The Liberal Democrats are a loose stool like you've had a vindaloo the night before - a 5-6 at best. Not actually life-threatening, but not pleasant, and impossible to pick up.

The Tories are a firm floater which barely needs a wipe. You've tucked the FT under your arm on the way to trap 2, but you've only read the headline by the time you've finished. And you're clean after one wipe. They're not a thing of beauty, but you wouldn't be ashamed to leave it floating for the next occupant of the bog to admire, especially as there are probably one or two still-edible peanuts which can be picked out, like Michael Gove's education policy, or the one about directly elected police chiefs.

Tories. Shit, but much, much better than the alternatives.



Monday, 1 February 2010

Personality not allowed.

I don’t know if anybody has seen those insipid Air New Zealand adverts at London Bridge station. Basically you get one of their Stewardesses or Stewards acting like a 7 year old pretending to dance whilst doing the safety brief or pretending they are Charlies Angels or something. Now maybe I’m not their target market but I want somebody who isn’t a fucking idiot responsible for my safety on board an aircraft, since air travel is just a tad riskier than other forms of transport*. I also want them to serve me some edible food, give me a seat number and refrain from selling me some scratch cards – obviously that’s you O’leary you wanker. I also don’t want them to go on strike – Memo to BA, you workshy Bolshevik tosspots, but all these come a distant second to crashing into a mountain at 650 MPH. So taking the piss in your adverts about how funky you are doesn’t inspire confidence about flying with you.

If I wanted Comedy on board I’d hit the in-flight movie section, see its only Rom-Coms or “Just for Laughs” a “Practical joke” candid camera type show about as humourous as a day trip to Auschwitz, and the pull out a P J O’Rourke book. As it is I’ll save the comedy until I land at Sydney airport when they ask me if I have a criminal record (“Didn’t know one was still required old boy”) or JFK when they ask me on the I-94W if I’ve ever worked for the Nazis (particularly Ironic when confronted with the welcoming face of US immigration). Furthermore as it is New Zealand, naturally what they consider funky and hip is a tad behind the rest of the bloody world. The Charlies Angels reference is probably related to the original show which has recently had its network premier on New Zealand TV, they’ll get the remake with Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu and the other one when we’re about to colonise Mars.

And is it me or are they not turning over that Airline Stewardess population the way they used to? Which one are you dating Honey – Wilbur or Orville? Nowhere is this more obvious than the afore mentioned New Zealand airlines advert. Is this the best you’ve got Air New Zealand? Because if it is, your next advert needs to be done by Rachel Hunter or Lucy Lawless to repair the damage done. Like all truly stupid marketing ideas the “Creatives” probably gave this the green light because nobody is allowed to be negative in their brainstorming sessions; nobody said “a bunch of not very good looking idiots won’t sell this product as well as pointing out that Air New Zealand are pretty cheap, and their food doesn’t taste as shit as Alitalia”.

* Airlines work their safety record per mile of journey because – well it’s blatantly bloody obvious why. If you measure safety per journey (because nobody goes “Well the first 12,000 miles of the trip were safe, right up to the point he put the nose through the Plexiglas of the fucking duty free section) aircraft are 12 times as fatal as car journeys and 20 times more lethal than Train journeys.



Why Politicians Lie

Politicians lie, they dissemble, they distort the truth. They change the meaning of words, put two mutually incompatible ideas into one paragraph. They simplify concepts to the point of absurdity. It is what they do. Which is why I waste very little time going through the economic and logical absurdities in a politician's speech. Why pretend to be surprised by the idiocies you know are going to appear?

What we observers of politics forget is that Politicians are not speaking to us political wonks. Nor are they talking to people who are actually sitting there listening him bump his gums. They are at best talking to journalists, trying to get a quote or soundbite into the press or, even better, on the 9 o'clock news. In reality they're talking in code to their supporters, and in soundbites to the outside world. Thus the philosophical incoherence in a politician's speech is irrelevant. What most people call 'Straight talking' I call Sophism. What most people call 'fairness' I call 'being on the wrong side of the Laffer curve', and so on, but to call a politician on these things is to forget that these events have their own language. It may look like English, but it isn't. It is always possible to look at a politicians speech, and fisk it. There will always be inferences made on spurious grounds, because a political speech cannot fully make an argument because there isn't time. Instead it is the intellectual equivalent of impressionism - seeking to give the truth without being specific on details.

Of course, I could be too generous to politicians here. In avoiding details, they are seeking to maintain wiggle room, should events conspire against them but I think most politicians who make it to the top are motivated by a desire to make the world a better place, and seek to do so honestly. The language of the political-media construct however prevents comprehension. The language is written by one's opponents. Let's take a famous example.

There is no such thing as society.
Now if you're on the left, you think that Margaret Thatcher in 1987 was talking about deliberately atomising society. You think this was the intellectual justification for the '80s 'ME!' society, when of course she was talking about the exact opposite - blaming excess state interference for the very atomisation of society which her political opponents sought to pin on her. "Society" became code for "the state", a political construct in the media-political hive mind which existed during a period - late 80's to the present which saw the almost complete centralisation of power in the hands of the British state, and the neutering of all levels of democracy below parliament.
There is such a thing as society, it's just not the same thing as the state.
David Cameron, 21 years later is forced to detoxify the word "society" in the eyes of his supporters, and counter the charge that Tories are vicious individualists, seeking to use the poor as fertiliser on multi-national GM uber farms. The Tory view of society has always been the Burkean "little platoons" which mediate between the state and the individual. This might be church, company, charity, clubs, societies and associations. It's taken 21 years for a Tory to find a soundbite which might actually express accurately what Margaret Thatcher wanted to say to Woman's Own in 1987. Which is why Politicians choose their words so very carefully. One slip up, and you've moved the vocabulary of the Politcal-media complex against you. Can we really expect them to tell the truth, in english, under those circumstances?

In truth, and especially at inflection points in political discourse, 1979, 1997, 2010 the opponent's caricatures are likely to be more accurate than the image parties want to present themselves. Margaret Thatcher was derided as "Attila the hen" by the labour party - and as a hard, uncaring woman, who wanted to take milk from children. This hinted at the radical agenda better than the St Fancis of Assisi quote with which she entered office. In 1997, "Labour's tax bombshell" and "New Labour, New Danger" accurately present the message that Labour will Tax and Spend, bankrupting the country even though that nice Mr Blair is in charge. Which turned out to be, more or less, the truth.

At present, Labour are schizophrenically trying to portray David Cameron as a vicious Thatcherite, intent on making 'Savage Cuts' in public services whilst mixing the blood of the workers with champagne in a bizarre Bullingdon club ritual, whilst also asserting that he's a slick salesman with no substance. He can't be both, and I suspect the Labour caricature of the Tories' radical agenda is more accurate than the equivocating and centrist rhetoric with which Cameron so infuriates the political right. Which is why I am optimistic that, whatever bollocks appears in political speeches talking about harmony, The Tories in office will be more resolute and radical than they would want you to think.

I certainly hope so.



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