Friday, October 17, 2008

MoD should 'hang their heads in shame'

Yet again the Coroner has sent a bleak message to the MOD after the death of one of our soldiers. This time he has said to the MOD that they should "Hang their heads in Shame" over the death of Cpl Mark Wright.

Cpl Wright was killed attempting to rescue one of his injured comrades. The Coroner said his death was caused by equipment failure and lack of equipment amongst other reasons. The failures were both large and small, some of which could have been fixed by minimal expenditure.

We have apparently just found 50 bn to bail out our banks surely we can find 2-3 bn to ensure our troops are properly equipped for their jobs.

Coroner: MoD should 'hang their heads in shame' over soldier's death - Telegraph

The Downfall of Gordon Brown

This is part of a series of Video clips based around a short clip from Der Untergang . Basically it's Hitler having a bit of a stushie at his underlings. Now the clip is used with subtitles to shed a light on some current situations. This one is about Gordon Brown and the House Price Crash. Not for the easily offended but a good laugh.

Til' death us do Part - A reminder to Mandelson

Mandy or more rightly The Right Honourable The Lord Mandelson, had his first speech as a Minister in the House of Lords yesterday. Apparently it a was all slickness and sweetness. However the reply to Mandy had a few nice touches of irony for him. As Simon Hoggart explains

The Tory Lord Hunt replied in equally glutinous terms. "A very accomplished maiden speech!" he gushed. "He led us on a fascinating and absorbing journey through history ... his impressive career to date ... his tributes to colleagues and, in particular, the staff were much appreciated and reciprocated by us all! He has indeed joined the aristocracy."

At this point I thought I would gag, but at least he had concealed one or two little acid bombs.

"As a life peer he can only be introduced once into the house ... we are together now until death us do part."

He quoted the Bible on the topic of lilies: "They toil not, neither do they spin.

"While he toils, I am sure he will reflect deeply on the second part of that quotation ..."

This was good, sarcastic stuff, and I suddenly found my breath returning.

A little reminder to Mandy that the House of Lords may not be that easy a place to live if your life is full of spin.

It has become a difficult place to please as a number of Government Ministers have found to their cost just this week.

Simon Hoggart's sketch: Mandelson takes peers' breath away Politics The Guardian

Thursday, October 16, 2008

What's eating Campbell

Alastair Campbell froths at the mouth about the possibility of Cameron and the Tories being the next government in this article in the New Statesman. He really is a piece of work. His real problem is that he can't see past the old style "class" wars. These disappeared years ago, but he is stuck in Labour time lock which refuses to see that the world moves on. His hypocrisy knows no bounds.

Some quotes from the article

I cannot stand the sight of the Tories getting smugger and smugger, thinking they can waltz back into power when they have done nothing to deserve it.
Smug you couldn't get any smugger than Alastair!
Next we have this piece of garbage about doffing caps and toffs
Much more than here, the old class structures still have a certain hold in our country, I am afraid to say, and there is a lot of cap-doffing going on. With him as leader and Boris Johnson in the mayor's office - quite a lot of the highly paid people running the newspapers and broadcasts and filling the columns have no trouble with a bunch of Old Etonians running the country from White's.

"But it is the last thing Britain needs, not after all the progress we've made towards a truly meritocratic country. Cameron's speech at his conference showed that once you get [past] his youth and his cherubic looks, there is nothing much new Tory about him," Campbell said. "There was also a nastiness there that will have surprised a few people - all that rubbish about teachers refusing to put plasters on kids' knees and soldiers not being respected in their communities. What complete cock.

Stunning, he has no idea about real life and what goes on in the UK these days.

New Statesman - What's eating Campbell

42 Days Pay-off for DUP?

According to the Mail Gordon Brown and Harriet Harman have had a big stushie over the relaxation of the abortion laws planned for the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill.

The final line in the article is interesting it says

It emerged yesterday that Mr Brown has responded to pressure from Ulster MPs by making it clear that the Government should not support moves to legalise abortion in the Province on the grounds that it would jeopardise the peace process.
Now pardon me for being a bit suspicious but might this be part of the pay-off for the DUP supporting Gordon's 42 day Debacle?

Just a thought.

PM clashes with deputy Harman over plans to relax abortion laws Mail Online

Audit Commission loses 10 Million in Iceland Crash

Stunning the Audit Commission who really should know better, have apparently lost £10m in the Iceland Banks crash. Somewhat humiliating for a watchdog whose remit is

The Audit Commission is an independent watchdog, driving economy, efficiency and effectiveness in local public services to deliver better outcomes for everyone.

Our work across local government, health, housing, community safety and fire and rescue services means that we have a unique perspective. We promote value for money for taxpayers, covering the £180 billion spent by 11,000 local public bodies.

As a force for improvement, we work in partnership to assess local public services and make practical recommendations for promoting a better quality of life for local people.

Apparently they have five strategic objectives as follows
  • to raise standards of financial management and financial reporting;
  • to challenge public bodies to deliver better value for money;
  • to encourage continual improvement in public services so they meet the changing needs of diverse communities and provide fair access for all;
  • to promote high standards of governance and accountability; and
  • to stimulate significant improvement in the quality of data and the use of information by decision makers.
Number 1 appears to be a bust now!

Perhaps this will help the government to understand how LGA's manage to lose so much money investing in Icelandic Banks.

Financial crisis: Oxford University and Audit Commission fall victim to banks - Telegraph

La La Land - Wednesday - Boom and Bust Day

The news in Gordon's La La Land has moved on now that the Banking Crisis has been solved by our own Superman. Unfortunately it's now dominated by Boom and Bust, in particular Bust which appears to be the way we are heading in the UK. Of course Bust no longer exists in Gordon's La La Land so it has been renamed as Tory Bust and of course will never happen as Gordon now has the figures to prove this, or he will have shortly once he's brownied them.

Unfortunately the UK Jobless figures managed to defeat even Brown's dodgy mathematics. They show the highest rise in the total for 17 years and with over 2,000 a day becoming jobless the total in the UK will likely be more than 2m by Christmas and could reach as much as 3m by the time of the next election in 2010.

Never mind Super-Broon has a stunning idea for all these people, not only has he got work for them they will also save the world from Climate Change. Loft Lagging will be the new job for all the unemployed Bankers, their job will now, not be to spout out hot air, but to stop it from escaping from our cold and draughty houses. Unfortunately as usual Broon's statistics and maths are a little wayward. It appears that only 2-3 days worth of jobless people at the current rate could solve this problem in no time at all. Never mind but it did seem like Gordon had had his Norman Tebbit moment. Just a shame he doesn't get on his bike and find a new job.

With the Banking crisis sorted and Gordon telling all and sundry how he alone had solved it, across in Europe it looks like some of his minions in Europe don't quite believe his story. In fact Newsnight had an interesting interview with Badger's French equivalent Christine Lagarde who, having donated her hairstyle to Badger, wasn't quite on story for the BBC's EmilyMaitlis who was desperately trying to get her to acknowledge the beatification of the hero Gordon. As "Sally C" on Political Betting put it

1.You have all implemented the Brown plan.

No, the plans are not all Brown plans, they are all different. There is a mix of ideas from the British plan but also ideas from others.

2. But Gordon was the fast off the mark; you needed a kick up the bum.
No. We all acted at different paces because some were in more trouble than others and had to act more urgently [ie us!].

3. But Gordon was the driving force.
No. It was the G4 who ALL put ideas on the table at that meeting and decided to move forward with other nations, each nation doing its part.
The President of the EU was directing operations.

All the time she spoke she had a half smile on her face.

They think Gordon is a spinning prat - not a superhero. He has done his bit [no doubt] but he’s overegged it and they have seen through him.

I am begining to like the EU. More than Brown anyway.

I would add that Madame Lagrande did give Badger some praise!

On the home scene we missed Gordon at Prime Minister's Questions when Harriet Harman wasn't quite on form especially when sitting in Superman's seat. She obviously hasn't quite had the proper superhero training yet. Hague was stately and his final question was rather good when he said Brown's claim to have abolished boom and bust was the
"most foolish, most hubristic, most irresponsible ever made". As the economy goes into recession, people are not going to forget who led us to this point.
Uncle Vince also had two good questions which Harriet appeared to fail to understand, her grasp on the current crisis and the economy appeared rather poor and she required to consult her prepared notes for some appropriate or in most cases inappropriate answers.

Mandelson was also still having a bit of a tough time seemingly not trusted with the role of anti-corruption Champion. What can he have done not to be trusted with this role?

Elsewhere Labour's new Schools Minister Sarah McCarthy-Fry admitted to Michael Gove in a Parliamentary Question that just 4 of the 113 letters about the government's new diplomas have been supportive, unfortunately she couldn't then do some simple calculator work on these figures or get her English correct. Obviously she is high on the list to become Chancellor in the near future.

Oh and by the way the Stock Markets have been tanking today, and are continuing to crash in Asia so it looks like fears of the Banking Crisis being over are slightly premature or then again it could be the coming recession.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Euro we go!

Benedict Brogan reports the following

The Luxembourg Legend that is Jean-Claude Juncker has offered an intriguing analysis of the financial bail-out in an interview with the Rheinischer Merkur, which we might have missed had it not been for the eagle eyes of Bloomberg:
Oct. 15 (Bloomberg) -- Luxembourg Finance Minister Jean-Claude Juncker told German newspaper Rheinischer Merkur the U.K. will consider adopting the euro once the credit crisis abates. ``The British prime minister had to beg to be let into the room in which the euro group was meeting,'' Juncker told the newspaper in an interview published today. ``I'm sure that when the storm is over, the British will think about whether they shouldn't become an equal in all decision-making bodies.''
Stunning if true. Would Gordon do this without a vote.

Benedict Brogan's political blog

Mandy won't be Anti-Corruption Champion

This is embarrassing to say the least for Peter Mandelson. Jack Straw has just announced in a written ministerial statement that he and not the Business Secretary has been personally appointed by Gordon Brown as the Goverment's official "Anti-Corruption Champion".

Why is this bad news for Lord Mandelson? Well, the last person to hold the title was his predecessor at DBERR, John Hutton. Worse still, the secretariat and other officials will REMAIN in Mandelson's department.

Not surprising really that your anti-corruption champion shouldn't be a minister who has already resigned twice and is already having questions asked about his probity yet again.

Labour can't even trust it's own ministers shocker!

Paul Waugh | Blogs | Evening Standard

Giant Database Plan

Not content to spray just our personnel data about the place, Labour now have a plan to spray all our communications data about the place. Apparently they will keep this in a giant Database.

Judging by their previous attempts this will be a very large Microsoft Access database kept on someone's USB pen drive though in a huge advance they may remember to password protect it with a default password so at least one person won't be able to access it.

Apparently even Governments own reviewer of anti-terror laws, Lord Carlile, is not greatly in favour, he said:

"The raw idea of simply handing over all this information to any government, however benign, and sticking it in an electronic warehouse is an awful idea if there are not very strict controls about it."
He's not joking. Currently data is leaking from this government like a bottomless bucket. They have no idea how to store and access data securely.

This is just another example of Big Brother Labour at work.

BBC NEWS | Politics | Police may get more data powers

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

La La Land - Tuesday's Report of Burials

Buried under the Reports of how the Financial Crisis has been sorted by Gordon we have the following list just from today.

  1. Secret Coroners Inquests dropped from the Counter Terrorism bill. The bill is now a complete waste of time.
  2. SAT tests dropped for 14 year olds.
  3. Inflation at record high for 16 years.
  4. Justice Department to cutback over 10,000 jobs.
  5. Mandy in double trouble.
  6. New Terror alert coincidence day after 42 days bill dropped. "Reckless" Comments by Lord West.
Remarkable! Considering yesterday was a bad day as well.

Not in La La Land - Total, utter, dreadful defeat.

A link to an article by Daniel Finkelstein in the Times. Read it and understand why the Great Saviour is really an Emperor with new Clothes.

His final conclusion is spot on

The idea that boom and bust had been abolished was not a small claim among many. It was the central claim of this Government. It was the boast of boasts - the boast upon which all other boasts were built. And now it has been revealed as totally empty. Not triumph, then. Disaster. Not victory. Total, utter, dreadful defeat.

If this is a triumph, I'd hate to see a disaster | Daniel Finkelstein - Times Online

Mandelson the Bully

The attached article in the First Post shows another sample of Mandelson's behaviour in Government that should raise more concerns on his appointment as Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform.

It looks at his "misjudgement" in being associated with Russian Billionaire Oleg Deripaska, and then looks at how he was bullying the tiny state of Guyana. The First Post says

One of Mandelson's last acts as EU Trade Commissioner was to threaten Guyana, one of the poorest countries in the world, with financial penalties that could amount to €70m a year because the Guyanese government has so far refused to join an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the European Union.

Guyana has criticised various "anti-developmental" conditions of the agreement, including the relaxation of barriers on foreign investment and clauses on intellectual property rights that would make it more difficult for Caribbean countries to patent their own generic medicines.

The First Post also comments that it is
No wonder that a report commissioned by the EU's rotating president, Nicolas Sarkozy, condemned the tactics - "pressure, paternalism and threats" - used by the EU commission during these negotiations.
So here we have Mandelson doing what he does best bullying and cajoling the "little" people into doing what he wants with various threats. This is exactly what he did in his previous times in British Government and why he has been brought back in a cynical move by Gordon Brown, to be the Labour Heavy after Gordon's failed attempts.

The report in the First Post also finishes off with the following

For Mandelson, ­ like the New Labour project itself, ­ symbolises the bullying arrogance of the neo-liberal creed that has dominated the world for the last three decades.

It is a world in which powerful countries prise open the economies of the poorest so that private corporations can control their food, their water and their electricity, where governments claim to be powerless to intervene in the workings of the 'free market' and yet are suddenly able to produce undreamt-of sums of money to bail out banks when they fail - our banks, not those of Russia, Argentina or Thailand which once went to the wall without receiving any bail-outs or offers of assistance.

We may well wonder at the motives of Gordon Brown for bringing one of his former political enemies back into the government. But as we shake our heads at the cynicism and moral blankness of the "prince of darkness" we might pause to consider that these vices are not just his: ­ they are part and parcel of the system that allows such men to flourish.
Not only should we consider how Mandy can be brought back but, why and how, our system can allow this to happen to a twice disgraced politician who appears to have sucked more bonuses from the system than many of the erstwhile bankers we have seen pilloried in the press in the last few days.

How Guyana brought out the bully in Mandelson | Opinion | The First Post:

Mandy and the Russian Billionaire

A new mystery involving Brown's new poodle Peter Mandelson. According to the Evening Standard.

Peter Mandelson faced new questions today over his relationship with Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska. The newly-appointed Business Secretary is at the centre of a row over a potential conflict of interest, the Evening Standard can reveal, after two European companies sought his help following allegations that Deripaska's company cheated them over a $1 billion deal in Moscow.

Mandelson, then European Trade Commissioner, took up their case. To their surprise, the two companies then learned that Mandelson was enjoying lavish hospitality aboard the Queen K, the yacht owned by Deripaska, the man they blamed for defrauding them.

The revelation comes at an awkward time for Mandelson. The Business Secretary, now Lord Mandelson after his ennoblement yesterday, was parachuted into the Government by Gordon Brown at a time of grave crisis. Mandelson had already resigned from the Cabinet twice and this new disclosure yet again raises questions about his judgment. Why, it was asked, did he not declare a personal interest when his role as commissioner clashed with a friendship?

Mandelson dismissed suggestions that he had acted unwisely and, in a long statement to the Standard, defended his right to a private life. Yet the Russian connection raises nagging doubts at a time when the Government is fighting to stabilise the turmoil engulfing Britain's financial sector.

One day after he has been ennobled to be Gordon's new enforcer, he's already in the muck. Now there's a surprise for this man who has already had to resign twice.

H/T James A on Political Betting

Mandelson, the billionaire and a growing mystery | News

La La Land Report - Tuesday - Toothless Gordon

After all Gordon Brown's hard man act with the Counter Terrorism bill and his bribing of the DUP with 200 million of our money, we now have a bill that bears little resemblance to what Gordon wanted to impose on us.

Gone are the two main tenets of the bill, 42 days and secret inquests.

What is also gone is any relationship Gordon had with Civil Liberties groups and many of his own MP's. All in the aim of trying to portray him as a "hard" man of politics.

I hope he thinks it was worth it.

BBC NEWS | Politics | 'Secret inquests' plans dropped

Monday, October 13, 2008

Black October?

I thought I'd jut pop this comment from Political Betting up on the blog as it is by someone dear to my heart...!

Iain Dale has just posted this on his blog, Cameron Foresaw Liquidity Crisis in March.

I don’t often quote in its entirely a blogpost from another blog, but this one from ConservativeHome’s Tory Diary merits an exception. Over to Tim Montgomerie…

There’s been a lot of criticism of David Cameron recently but this extract of a speech that he gave more than six months ago showed a pretty good understanding of the issues of capital inadequacy and illiquidity at the heart of this crisis:

“As well as the reforms we have outlined for the UK financial system, we need reforms at a global level too. So let me suggest one important reform that needs to take place in light of the recent crisis in world banking.

“The Basel capital accords determine how much capital a bank must set aside for a given amount of lending. This makes good sense, and, for obvious reasons, it is right to set the rules at a global level. But economists have identified some key problems with the current Basel accord.

“First, the rules on liquidity, which has been at the core of the current crisis, are too weak. Banks can operate with enough funding only to survive for a couple of weeks, but still be within the rules. Second, we need to examine which asset classes and which institutions are covered by existing rules. For example, the zero-weighting of some triple A assets has led to distortions in asset allocation. Put simply, some of the debts were kept off balance sheet so they didn’t count as lending under the rules.

“Third, judgements about credit risk were delegated to rating agencies who themselves had incentives to expand the amount of lending that was allowed under the rules. Put simply, because they are paid fees for rating debts, credit rating agencies had an interest in there being as much debt as possible. Finally, market risk was measured by backward looking models which tend to exacerbate the credit cycle, not dampen it. When credit is easy, the models allow more lending. When credit tightens, the models reduce the amount of permitted lending.

“In short, liquidity risk was all but ignored, credit risk was delegated, and market risk was backward looking. And we now know that not only did the regulators not know, but too often the banks themselves didn’t know, the full extent of the risks they were subjected to. But let me say again, any reforms at an international level will need care to ensure that in tackling the past problems they do not create the problems of the future. At the same time, we must all recognise that crises are inevitable, so a prudent Government, as we will be, that is committed tol be, must improve our response to these crises when they appear.”

Thanks to Richard North of EU Referendum blogspot for pointing the extract out to us.

Now, I don’t remember Gordon Brown anticipating the banking crisis in this clear way, do you? And while I am in the mood to nick things from other blogs, take a look at THIS post from Ben Brogan, where he quotes from Gordon Brown’s speech to Reuters this morning…

“In future regulatory systems there will be both greater attention to issues of solvency and liquidity and probably a pro-cyclical attitude where in a period of growth you have got to lay aside more for the possibility that there will be contractions.”

Isn’t that what the Conservatives have been saying for the last 18 months?”

I think that Brown and the PLP misread the mood last week, but I don’t think that Cameron and Osborne did. I suspect that the Conservative Whips worked just as hard as the Labour Whips to make sure that the Conservative benches behaved in exactly the opposite manner to their colleagues across the floor.

Back during the Conservative Conference Cameron was able to articulated the current problems in a much more voter friendly way than Brown, the bipartisan attempt to get the government into the drivers seat and get the engine started was effective.
Brown turned down any offers to share the limelight with Osborne and Cable, but they were offered in this time of economic crisis.

Now its time for a reality check some honesty from our politicians. We are not in a good place to weather this economic downturn, and we are facing years of belt tightening both personally, and in the public finances.

Very tough decisions are going to need to be taken sooner, rather than later. And if this government continue with a Scorched earth policy for short term political gain, rather than longer term fiscal prudence, then they need to be held to account at every point.

Cameron and Osborne need to carry on with their strategy of being honest about the difficulties, and tough medicine which will need to be administered. They need to knock this spin about military wars, this is an economic tsunami.

We had Black Wednesday, this is more like Black October!

Kind of sums up what is happening this month.

La La Land - Monday's Report - Gordon saves the World

Today was apparently the day according to some commentators that "our" Gordon saved the world. Let's have a look at what he and his government have achieved today.

  1. Spent 37bn of our money on second class banks, who are in a Financial Crisis, much of which was caused by the actions and then inactions by their "saviour" Gordon Brown
  2. Lost a humiliating vote in the Lords when the 42 day detention plan was defeated by 309 - 118 votes.
  3. Then released details of the plan to drop 42 days from the anti-terrorism bill and replace it by an emergency one-line bill to be used when Labour deem it correct.
  4. Admitted the loss of 1.7 million, yes 1.7 million peoples data. They don't even really know how much, who or what has been lost.
  5. A probe by the Speaker of the House of Commons into an allegation that the former Prime Minister deliberately misled the House over exemption of F1 from tobacco advertising bans.
So a great day for Gordon. On any ordinary day anyone of the bottom 4 would have been enough to bring about calls for heads to roll, but today Gordon has saved the world.

I can only wonder what he can achieve in La La land on Tuesday. The Universe beckons. Only a few problems though. The supplies are running out there is no money to buy more and borrowings getting a bit tricky these days without any collateral.

Will we own Second Class Banks?

The attached article from the Telegraph discusses why Barclay's has preferred to try and raise capital itself rather than go cap in hand to Gordon for some of our money to keep them in business.

As the article says

Barclays yesterday unveiled plans to raise £6.6bn of new capital from the private sector as chief executive John Varley warned that government ownership of rival banks will leave them "hobbled" and at risk of losing key employees.
John Varley the Chief Executive says Barclay's can get the money privately and it will also stop dividends for a few years and raise further money through savings. If it can do this then it will not have to put up with any interference from the government nor any hobbling on their chosen strategies.

It is also worried that if it did take money from the public purse it could not retain top employees as they might feel constrained or perhaps they would not like the idea of following government instructions.

If this is so it means that if Barclay's survives the next couple of years it will be better able to perform and will have better personnel than banks who have taken the public money.

If this is so then we may well have just bought 37bn worth of second class banks. This could mean a greater loss on this high risk investment or a much longer repayment period. This means that the British public will suffer as we have less money for public spending and/or possible tax cuts.

Barclays in £6.6bn private fundraising to avoid constraint - Telegraph

Brown in La La Land - He's just making it up now

Fraser Nelson writing in the Spectator's Coffee House blog has this to say.

Another breathtaking Brownie at the Prime Minister’s press conference today:
“I have to say we face this situation with relatively low national debt because of the steps we have taken since 1997, where we wiped off perhaps more than around £100 billion of debt by reducing the proportion of debt in our national income.”

Huh? The ONS is unequivocal: net debt was £351bn in May 1997 and £632bn in August – or £545bn if you exclude Northern Rock. So where is his “wiping out” of £100 billion? Normally with a Brownie you can see how he cooked up the fake figure. But this time, it really does look like he just made it up.

Consider this for a moment. As Brown chastises bankers for dishonest off balance sheet accounting, he is concocting figures live on national television. There has never been a greater need for honesty but Brown remains unable to level with the public about the amount of debt his government has saddled us with. A reminder that the malaise Brown so piously diagnoses in the City – creative accounting – remains at the heart of his own treatment of government accounting.

On live television has yet again lied to us all. This fantasy land he lives in where he quotes out tractor statistics which are patently untrue is just amazing. Why don't the big TV networks take him up on his lying. I understand they are unlikely to get repeat interviews if they do this but that's what real journalism should be about.

He's just making it up now | Coffee House

Lords humiliates Labour on 42 days

The Lords have rejected the proposed changes to the detention plans to allow 42 days. They rejected them by 309 - 118 votes. As Jon Craig on Sky said, "This is a crushing humiliation for the Government".

Update: Government to make statement on this in House of Commons at 20:30. Will this be a humiliation for Gordon Brown who has personally backed the 42 plan? I can't see it being anything else.

Lords rejects 42-day detention plans Politics