Saturday, October 06, 2007

Worst Blow in 25 years to a Prime Minister

Over at the Coffeehouse Fraser Nelson is reporting that Adam Boulton has thrown his dummy out the window at Brown as follows.

One of the worst blows to a serving prime minister that I can remember in quarter of a century of covering politics."
He blames the debacle on Brown's advisers. "
If I was giving him any advice tonight it would be ‘sack the lot of them’”.
And he's hiding away while Ming and Cameron are taking questions.
"It's not leadership as most people will understand it."
As Fraser Nelson says
This is just a nuclear bomb.

The Big Feartie - Wee Sleekit, cow'rin, tim'rous beastie

Wee Sleekit, cow'rin, tim'rous beastie

To a Mouse

WEE, sleekit, cow’rin, tim’rous beastie,
O, what a panic’s in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty,
Wi’ bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an’ chase thee,
Wi’ murd’ring pattle!

I’m truly sorry man’s dominion,
Has broken nature’s social union,
An’ justifies that ill opinion,
Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,
An’ fellow-mortal!

I doubt na, whiles, but thou may thieve;
What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!
A daimen icker in a thrave
’S a sma’ request;
I’ll get a blessin wi’ the lave,
An’ never miss’t!

Thy wee bit housie, too, in ruin!
It’s silly wa’s the win’s are strewin!
An’ naething, now, to big a new ane,
O’ foggage green!
An’ bleak December’s winds ensuin,
Baith snell an’ keen!

Thou saw the fields laid bare an’ waste,
An’ weary winter comin fast,
An’ cozie here, beneath the blast,
Thou thought to dwell—
Till crash! the cruel coulter past
Out thro’ thy cell.

That wee bit heap o’ leaves an’ stibble,
Has cost thee mony a weary nibble!
Now thou’s turn’d out, for a’ thy trouble,
But house or hald,
To thole the winter’s sleety dribble,
An’ cranreuch cauld!

But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain;
The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft agley,
An’lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!

Still thou art blest, compar’d wi’ me
The present only toucheth thee:
But, Och! I backward cast my e’e.
On prospects drear!
An’ forward, tho’ I canna see,
I guess an’ fear!

The first two verses just seem so appropriate. Apologies to Robert Burns for tarring his name with Gordon Brown

£200 extra on council taxpayers to fund NHS

According to the Telegraph Mr Brown will try and do another trick like his 10p tax rate mess from the last budget where he gives a little with one hand and sneaks more away with the other but tries to hide it in the fine print.

The Chancellor will apparently announce above inflation rises in spending for the NHS and Education.

The big BUT is that as there is no money in the coffers and growth rates are down, that the money will instead be found by raising the take on Council taxes. Reaction to this from various groups below is unlikely to help Brown if he goes for an early election.

The planned council tax rises - expected to be buried in the small-print of the CSR - will anger many voters.

Town hall chiefs reacted angrily, accusing Mr Brown of plotting a back-door tax rise to

"raise as much locally as legally possible"
to fund a generous health and education giveaway.

Nick Skellett, the leader of Surrey county council said:

"It is an appalling and dishonest strategy to keep income tax at fixed levels and raise huge sums through council tax."

Eric Pickles, the Tory local government spokesman, said:

"Council tax is starting to become unbearable. Gordon Brown is using smoke and mirrors which is shameful. But, I think people will recognise what is going on. Mr Brown has already fooled them before in this way."

Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman, said:

"Council tax is a particularly regressive and hated tax which has already put a massive squeeze on household incomes."

The assumed council tax increases in the CSR determine how much central government gives to local authorities in terms of an annual financial grant.

The higher the rise in council tax, the lower the central grant.

The problem is that Brown has emptied the coffers, not just for the now but for the foreseeable future.

£200 on council tax to pay for NHS - Telegraph

No Honours Blair

Apparently Tony Blair is giving up his right to a resignation honours list, the first former Prime Minister to do so.

No wonder, almost all the people who paid for one with a backhander, have now got one, and Tony (Who) Blair has slipped right off the celebrity list, so no-one is toadying up to him any longer to get a reward.

There is also the two other points

  1. The honours would have had to have been vetted by an Independent Body, the House of Lords Appointments Commission. What fun they would have had rejecting a few of the more suspect honourees!
  2. The fact that receiving an honour now from Tony Blair would be more like getting a formal acknowledgment that you were toadying briber of the lowest sort.

Tony Blair refuses to produce an honours list - Telegraph

Friday, October 05, 2007

Old Age Bankruptcy

The story in the Independent that

Pensioners have become so laden with debt that the number filing for bankruptcy has increased eight-fold in five years. Campaigners are blaming the worrying rise on a combination of cheap credit, soaring living costs and the complicated benefits system.

Nearly 8,000 people aged 65 or over took the ultimate financial sanction last year and sought bankruptcy – up from 900 in 2002. The figure is just one of a series of statistics this week showing the growing financial burden and consequences of an ageing population.
is a shocking reflection on todays society.

According to Joe Harris, the leader of the National Pensioners Convention.
"Many older people feel the whole process of having to parade their poverty in order to get a little bit extra to live on is demeaning."
This is a sad state of affairs.

Number of pensioners going bankrupt rises by 700% in five years - Independent Online Edition > This Britain

A Declining Institution

I continue to be in the declining and unfashionable relationship called marriage. Roughly since Labour came in 4% less people are married.

Contrast that with the rise in unmarried couples living together which is the fastest-growing family unit in the UK. In the same 10 years that marriages declined 4%, cohabitation by unmarried couple increased by 65%. In addition lone parents have increased by 8% in the same period.

Now this may just reflect changing ideas on marriage but apparently it also has had another effect on the children of cohabiting families. It was found that 17-year-olds were most likely to be in education if their parents were married and they were not in step-families. A total of 69 per cent of boys and 78 per cent of girls at that age would be in education if they were in a traditional family unit.

So why don't people get married. The obvious answer is that changing ideas have changed our society, but also we have the stupidity of being penalised by the government for being married by an unjust Tax system.

The Tories have proposed bringing back the transferable married couples tax allowance, worth around £20-a-week, this would be aimed at making it easier for one parent to stay at home to look after children or elderly relatives. If applied to all married couples, it would cost £3.2bn a year.

This would be money well spent if the traditional family unit does help ensure everyone gets a good education and redresses an unfair penalty on married couples.

Number of unmarried couples rises by 65% - Independent Online Edition > This Britain

Programming Balls

Over at the Devils Kitchen ( A right good Sweary Fest in case you didn't already know), The Devil had delivered his idea of the best Quote of the Day from the Tory Conference via Caroline Hunt

Quote of the Day from Dizzy.

"Sometimes I have to adjust my balls because they hang to the left and I worry they might be ideologically unsound."

But being Dizzy, he doesn't have to do it himself, he has written a script to do it; it'll be something like this, I imagine.

  1. IF {balls}=[align: left] GOTO 3 ELSE GOTO 2


  3. MOVE {right_hand} TO {balls} GOTO 4

  4. CUP {balls} WITH {right_hand} GOTO 5

  5. MOVE {balls} + SHIFT {right_leg [surrepticiously]} GOTO 6

  6. LOCK {balls}=[align: right] GOTO 7

  7. SOUND={"GRUNT" [contentedly]} GOTO 8

There then follows a number of examples of Ball Programming in a number of languages until my attempt as follows:

Meanwhile, self-confessed "old-timer" Fitaloon decided that what was really needed was a Cobol programme.
PROGRAM-ID. ConservativeBalls.
AUTHOR. Fitaloon

01 BallsPosition.
03 BallSide PIC X(5).
88 Balls-correct value "Right".
88 Balls-Incorrect Value "Left"
01 Ballstoright
03 Ballsright pic x(5) value "Right".

DISPLAY "Enter Balls Position Left or Right".
ACCEPT BallsPosition.
If Balls-incorrect
move Ballstoright to Ballsposition.
Display "Balls in correct Position".

Ah, geek humour...
First Cobol programme I have attempted in some years (too many to remember).

I have a feeling my older attempts may have been rather better as they kept me gainfully employed for about 15 years.

The Devil's Kitchen: Tory Conference Quote To End All Quotes

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Inheritance Tax takes blame

The Conservaties have bounced back to level with Brown according to an ICM poll in the Guardian which gives each party 38% of the poll.

According to Brown's spinners this is entirely due to the Tory announcement on inheritance tax and the promise that only millionaires would have to pay death duties.

Now if only life was this easy, you offer someone a tax cut and they immediately are your bosom buddy for life. If this was the case Gordon would have everyone voting for him as he has handed out so many (empty) promises over the years.

Gordon will now be faced with the quandary of how to back out of an election that he has been spinning and preparing for with the least damage.

He will have to settle for the remainder of the 2 1/2 years that Labour have and face the polls in 2010, possibly even resigning before the next election, if the polls look bad, stating he has finished the job he started, and wants to pass the reins to younger blood.

His problem is that his courage has failed him again like after the loss of John Smith and during the "phoney" war with Tony Blair.

If he had had some courage he would have announced the election today before the polls came out that make it obvious he will lose much or all of his majority in Parliament. Having had his courage fail him again all excuses will be null and void apart from the fact he might lose his majority.

Cameron bounces back | Special Reports | Guardian Unlimited Politics

Free Burma

Free Burma!

Free Burma! - International Bloggers' Day for Burma on the 4th of October 2007

Free Burma

Benedict says No Election

Benedict Brogan in the Daily Mail says there will be no election this year. He has spoken to the Labour spinners and they are indicating:

  • Brown Central is convinced that George Osborne has given them all the ammunition they need for a protracted demolition campaign centred on the "fantasy" costings behind his tax cut proposals. Some are even seeing it as a Black Wednesday moment that will prove to be as disastrous for the credibility of the Cameron/Osborne generation as 1992 was for John Major and his lot.(Hmm from the figures seen so far anyone could be right, but it will not be a major factor)
  • Labour polling in its key marginals has produced mixed results, and not the clear evidence of a big win some MPs suggested last week. (This will be key)
  • I understand the CSR has been decoupled from an election announcement. Alistair Darling has been told he can go ahead, probably Monday, regardless of what Mr Brown does. The CSR no longer means there will automatically be an election. (Who Cares)
  • Mr Brown's advisers believe that there is not enough time between now and November1/8 to persuade the public that Mr Osborne's inheritance tax giveaway is not what it's cracked up to be.(If they can't do it now no-one will believe them)
  • They also believe that once they get past the initial "he's bottled out" jeering, politics will return to normal and within months the public will have forgotten the excitement we have been living through in Bournemouth and Blackpool. (They may be right but people will be reminded, whenever he has another Macavity Moment)
  • Mr Brown has been keeping a keen eye on events elsewhere, no least the spread of foot and mouth, the political situation in Scotland, and the evidence that suggests the public is not clamouring for a contest. (Grasping at straws here, though the Scotland situation will be worrying Brown)
Reading through this we get the message, Brown has bottled it, the polls are against him, he knows he will struggle in a straight fight against Cameron for top billing and fears a top three entry in the charts for shortest reign as a Prime Minister or a loss of Prestige as Blair's majority is lost. Courage is not his middle name.

Brown will choose the easy option and wait as long as possible, he has already had to wait ten years to finally get where he wanted, why lose it all now.

Benedict Brogan's political blog

We or I

That is the choice you may face in a few weeks time if Cyclops (I) can make a decision to go to the country, I still believe he won't as his "courage" will fail him.

We or I, the belief of whether it us, the public, who have the major role in a democracy or we want to be ruled by someone who believes he knows what is best for us and ploughs on regardless of anyone else. Democracy versus Totalitarianism

We just have to look at the party conferences over the past fortnight, The Labour Conference was all about I, There was only person who mattered and only one speech that was worth reporting on. Brown was centre stage and no-one was going to share it with him. he was the Lord and Master and woe betide anyone who thought different or who might upstage him. Then came the speech, all about how he had made the world good and he would make it better for all of us, as he knew best. He was the star and there was no one else in the firmament.

Contrast that with the Tory conference where there were any number of good speeches from David Cameron's cabinet with IDS particularly playing a blinder and Hague, as always, standing out. Then we had Cameron's speech that promised that we would be involved, that the government needed our help and that we mattered to it. Promises would be kept and Covenant's

What a difference!

We just had to see Brown's response to the speech. He had not listened to it, He was apparently to busy governing us to bother with anything so unimportant, but he thought we would like to know.

So when or if the decision comes, think about it, who do you want to govern, We or I?

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Dear Cyclops

Image from Getty Images.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Lost Moral Compass

Brown loses grip

Lost Moral Compass, no reward for finding. Please return to Gordon Brown, last seen heading Middle-Eastwards. Courage is also reported as ready to desert as well. Conviction has well and truly been squashed.

Promises forgotten and Covenants broken a specialty.

Bob Ainsworth Stuffed by Paxo

Bob Ainworth, Labour MP for Coventry North East and Minister for State (Armed Forces) Ministry of Defence has just been Paxoed on Newsnight, asked some simple addition questions on how many soldiers were returning from Iraq he had no answers apart from fudging the issue.

It was painful and embarrassing to watch this poor man squirm for his leaders who have left him out to dry whilst Des Browne his boss fights the SNP instead of doing his proper job, and Gordon spins his way cynically towards an election.

It now appears that of the 1000 troops due back from Iraq, 500 have never got there, 270 were already back before Cyclops arrived and so only 230 will actually be returning.

These are the approx figures but may have to be changed as it all becomes as clear as the muddied waters of the Labour Cesspit of lies.

Update: Just trying to remember if Mr Ainsworth said that the 500 who will not go to Iraq will be "redeployed". In these days that means they will not be in Blighty(or Germany where they are apparently based) for Xmas but will be going to Afghanistan. This is quite likely as 500 troops ready to go to Iraq are the ideal candidates for deployment to Afghanistan. Waiting for the Newsnight report to be available online.

Brown spins in for Baghdad visit

I see not satisfied with leaking details of possible planned troop cuts in Iraq, Mr (I don't spin Brown) has arrived in Iraq to deflect good news from the Tory conference.

Amazing coincidence he should have planned such a visit during this time.

Using our armed forces in this way is as low as it gets. After all the cuts and the shoddy treatment he has forced on the armed forces let us hope that the soldiers on the ground welcome him in a suitable manner.

THIS IS A DISGRACE. He should be hung as a traitor to this country.

As you might note I am a tad angry!

BBC NEWS | UK | Brown flies in for Baghdad visit

Monday, October 01, 2007

Plan to cut Basra troops by 2,000

I see Mr Brown's tame poodle, Nick Robinson has been given the nod by him to release news that he is considering cutting the number of British Troops in Southern Iraq by 2000 just in time for the 10 o'clock news tonight.

Apparently the BBC reveals that a final decision has not been made yet, though it may be part of an announcement on Iraq expected to MP's next week.

Amazing this news should come out today while the Tory Conference is ongoing, particularly as some good reviews of speeches today have caught the government off-guard.

This sort of leaking of information on Troop Movements and Strengths would have been considered as Treason in many times of war. It is certainly not democracy in action.

BBC NEWS | UK | Plan to cut Basra troops by 2,000

Higher tobacco age limit in force

Amazing a piece of Government legislation I am fully behind!

The new law making the sales of cigarettes to under 18's illegal is now in force and seems to have already started to work.

According to my 14 year old this law has had an immediate effect as there were only about 10 pupils in the "smokie" (down bog alley in my old school) at his school today rather than the normal 30-40. Seems like this has had an immediate impact on sales. It also make it easier for shopkeepers to say no to school kids who claimed they were 16.

BBC NEWS | UK | Higher tobacco age limit in force

Re-re-re-rebuttal and Treasury spin

Benedict Brogan has an interesting article on the Tory announcement of Taxes on non-doms (I assume this is not a comment on their sexual preferences) and how it has been costed. Apparently Labour has gone into "berserk" mode spraying out allegations and trotting out the usual "black hole" stories. This of course is to be expected with any tax changes to be proposed by the Tories, particularly those that catch Labour off guard and exposed after their promises to sort this out.

However the big question is right at the end of the article when Benedict says he has in his inbox a press release from Labour Party Press Office, , in which Alistair Darling, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, claims:

"Today George Osborne made a £3.5 billion tax commitment. Treasury analysis shows it is impossible for him to raise the money he needs to pay for this commitment from his proposals on residence and domicile. Initial costings by the Treasury show that George Osborne's proposal would raise a maximum of £650m, leaving George Osborne at least £2.9 billion short. So George Osborne cannot afford the promises he is making. He cannot afford to cut inheritance tax."
Benedict then goes onto say
The italics are mine, but I look forward to hearing from the Treasury tomorrow why exactly its civil servants and this Government department are doing party political work to undermine another political party's conference.

All taxpayers will be waiting with bated breath to see how Mr Darling spins this one. I assume he will say something along the lines that we have already looked at this and rejected it etc etc.

Benedict Brogan's political blog

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Snap election 'will cause chaos'

Apparently the AEA chief executive John Turner told Scotland on Sunday he had directly warned the Government and was 'fearful' of an administrative crisis should Brown press ahead with a general election as early as November.

Concerns centre on the problematic postal voting system, which continues to place election officers under a huge burden. The AEA has called on the Government to change the law to extend the time limit between the dissolution of parliament and an election by at least another five working days to 22 days.

The AEA is also warning that some people will be unable to vote or to receive a postal vote because the new electoral roll is not published until December 1.

There was also concern that anti-fraud laws introduced in England and Wales in May would not come into force in Scotland until next year. The laws, introduced after a High Court judge ruled that the vote-rigging in Birmingham's 2004 elections would have "shamed a banana republic", aim to make postal voting more secure by making electors provide their signature and date of birth.

I assume that Douglas Alexander will not be in charge of the printing of Ballot Papers if there is an election as he made a bit of a cock-up of it last time as well as losing the election for Labour. News - Snap election 'will cause chaos'

Immigration - Stirring by the Independent

I see the Independent on Sunday is trying to stir up a race row for the Tory party by saying that an interview made by Sayeeda Warsi, the shadow community cohesion minister, threatens to fuel the already highly charged debate about immigration by arguing that it has been "out of control".

Now I wonder who has stirred up the immigration debate recently with his "British Jobs for British Workers" and other trite sayings designed to appeal to the likely BNP voter.

Looking more closely at Sayeeda's apparent interview with the Independent on Sundays "journalists" we see her saying such controversial things as

"What this country has a problem with is not people of different kinds coming into this country and making a contribution, but the problem that nobody knows who is coming in, who is going out – the fact that we don't have a border police; we don't have proper checks; we don't have any idea how many people are here, who are unaccounted for," she says. "It's that lack of control and not knowing that makes people feel uneasy, not the fact that somebody of a different colour or a different religion or a different origin is coming into our country.The control of immigration impacts upon a cohesive Britain."
Apparently these views are "somewhat surprising"
as she is the daughter of immigrants herself. Her father is a former Labour-supporting mill-worker from Pakistan who, after making a fortune in the bed and mattress trade, switched his allegiance to the Tories. The lawyer, 36, who is married with a nine-year-old daughter, devoted her early career to improving race relations helping to launch Operation Black Vote in Yorkshire and sitting on various racial justice committees. So her analysis of race relations on the eve of the Tory conference cannot be dismissed as a right-wing rant.
Why should the views be surprising,. It is not racist, it is just that we carry on being silent on immigration, as it is one of those subjects that mustn't be discussed in a sensible way in these evermore sensitive days.

Each time Sayeeda Warsi makes a point in the article it is prefixed by the "journalists" view with the usual prejudicial language that attempts to destroy any sensible argument on the immigration issue.

This is the sort of "journalism" that causes people to vote for BNP rather than look for solutions within the mainstream parties as it stifles reasoned comment and debate that might sort out the problem in a sensible way.

Immigration... Immigration... Immigration: Cameron hoped to ignore it. But now it's back with a vengeance - Independent Online Edition > UK Politics

DEFRA staff to be made Redundant

In the usual show of joined up Government displayed by Gordon and his Labour Party I see that amongst those being made redundant due to cuts imposed by Gordon are members of DEFRA who are currently on secondment in Animal Health, where annual leave has already been canceled in October, as they work to contain foot and mouth and bluetongue disease.

The unions are not exactly pleased with this either, Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union, said:

"Making people compulsorily redundant at the same time as the department is working around the clock to contain the foot and mouth and bluetongue disease outbreaks is ridiculous and unnecessary.

"This move to compulsory redundancies raises fears that more could follow in greater numbers.

"With a civil service-wide ballot for industrial action beginning at the end of the week, the time is now for the government to intervene and offer guarantees on redundancies, pay and privatisation."

(image courtesy of the The Spine)

First compulsory civil service redundancies announced | Whitehall | Guardian Unlimited Politics