Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Not a meeting where they had coffee.

Do you have to be a total shit to work as a spin doctor or does the job turn you into one? Listening to the appalling descriptions from Libya on Channel 4 News last night, it grated to say the least, to hear of a ‘Foreign Office Source’ describing the meeting between William Hague and the Libyan Ambassador as, ‘not a meeting where they had coffee.’ 
Oh ‘the source’ must have hugged himself all over for that one. As some of the Libyan military are shooting and possibly bombing their own people; as Libyan diplomatic staff express anxiety around the world about genocide and reasonable people everywhere want a peaceful resolution we have a (taxpayer) paid mouthpiece talking tough yet sounding deeply pathetic. 
What a little shit. 

Talking of which, how about 'Call me Dave's' attempt to emulate his hero, the Middle East Peace Envoy? Talk about seizing the moment. Just as the Middle East undergoes one upheaval after another what does Dave do? He visits several rocky sheikhdoms with a 'trade delegation.' 

For 'Trade Delegation' read 'Arms dealers'  - nothing like striking while the iron is hot and establishing your values in a volatile situation. 
With that, the blog will be off for a couple of weeks. Hope things improve.

Monday, 21 February 2011

To patronise or to really patronise?

‘Call me Dave’ launched the ‘no’ campaign for the AV referendum with a quite disgraceful speech on Friday. The condescending way he regarded the electorate spoke volumes about his patrician leanings and his arrogance. As Andrew Rawnsley made clear in the Observer today, he too found this view unpalatable.
“The no campaign in general has almost nothing to say which is positive about the status quo. Its arguments are negative ones against change.”
“The worst argument advanced in the prime minister's speech was that AV is too complicated. He said: "I don't think we should replace a system that everyone gets with one that's only understood by a handful of elites."
“Well, let us accept that numbering candidates 1, 2, 3 does require a slightly more advanced level of numeracy than simply making a cross. I think Britain will cope. Many Britons already use AV when electing representatives for charities, churches, companies, trade unions, societies and voluntary organisations. Labour and the Lib Dems both elect their leaders by AV. Funnily enough, ever since the 1960s, when the Tories started to elect their leaders, they have used either AV or a close cousin. Had they used first past the post in their last contest, the leader of the Tory party would not be David Cameron. It would be David Davis.” (my emphases). 
Clearly if the extremely thick Bufton-Tuftons on the Tory back benches can cope with AV then anyone can. Looking at the dinosaurs and expense-fiddlers who are in favour of the status quo  (Beckett, Blunkett, Straw, Clarke anyone?) massive reform is overdue. AV is not it - but it is a step in a better direction. 
“Does the campaign to keep first past the post think that most Britons are stupid? Yes. 
Not only that, they are relying on the stupid vote to win.”

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Libya and the UK

The grim news from Gaddaffi’s regime is not a surprise. The current squirming and wriggling from William Hague fits our role as a wise-monkey friend of Libya to a T. 
‘Sell us your oil, let us explore your desert to find more and we will not look too closely at the way you run your country. We will also help you with crowd control equipment and tear gas cannisters. We will help train your secret police and we will not ask awkward questions about people being locked up without trial. When everything kicks off we will utter platitudes and gentle criticism knowing as we do so that it is a charade. We may even let you know via diplomatic channels that it is a charade.....Since Wikileaks we have to be a bit more careful.’
Hague follows on from the loathsome Tony Blair, David Miliband and Jack Straw, politicians who never knowingly let principles get in the way of profit. 

Friday, 18 February 2011

Special Relationship or Fawning Grovel?

It was a dread-inducer listening to the start of the outpouring of guff about the so-called ‘special relationship.’ This relationship, aka ‘one way street,’ will feature in miles and miles of churnalism when the Obamas turn up for a state visit in May. The Glendas and the Phil Spaces will make some easy money regurgitating ancient writings about how wonderful the special relationship has been for the UK. Almost all of it complete twaddle. 

Watching allegedly sane men scrabbling for a position next to the annointed ones is deeply sick-making. Wee Gordy Broon’s desperation to be seen looking statesmanlike by the side of Obama said plenty about his rationality and his vulnerability.
Seems we are going to get tons of the same from the ‘Call Me Dave’ camp as our beloved leader will hold manly poses with their beloved leader. Will he hold his arms bent out at an angle like his hero, Tony Blair? Will he strut alongside Obama, leaking power and machismo from every pore? Will any of this strutting, preening and pomp produce anything worthwhile? 
Don’t bank on it.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Toeing the Party Line

Cast your minds back to the toxic dump that was the expenses scandal. Remember Tory Toff Anthony Steen and his outrageous expenses claims who then compounded his sins by claiming that the great unwashed were simply ‘jealous.’ Local worthies in his Totnes safe seat were very concerned at a possible backlash so set up an almost unique method of selecting their replacement candidate. By using a postal voting system not limited to party members they opened up the selection process to all voters in the constituency. A popular GP, Sarah Wollaston, emerged as the clear favourite and duly went on to win the seat. 
So far so hunky. For the Tories a toxic MP had been dumped for a popular local GP. It deflected attention from the Expenses Scandal and allowed them to ‘move on.’ Scroll forward many months and all is not well in Toryshire.
The GP understandably has a point of view about slimy Lansley’s unmanifesto’d plans for the NHS. She claims to be broadly in favour but has some key practical issues which she feels need addressing. She was approached by the Tory Whips to serve on the Committee stage of the controversial health and social care bill. It was made clear to her she could only get on the committee if she agreed to keep quiet and support the government. She did not agree and is therefore not on the committee. What an insight into how our so-called democracy works. This is not new. Labour did it too. Committees packed with placemen and yes-men do not produce good legislation. A close analysis of the ranks of junior ministers shows just how much harm the system of patronage does. 
There are rumblings from among the new crop of MPs that things have got to change. They certainly have.

Saturday, 12 February 2011


In all the fields of inflated hot air that parliament revels in, the debate on giving prisoners a vote is a doozy. Lots of harrumphing and gallumphing galore. Would that they got so hot and bothered about sorting out the criminality in their own ranks. 
Perhaps some of them are secretly concerned that if they were to attend jail ‘canvassing’ they may not be let out.
The fact that the so called revolt was lead by the egregious Straw (among others) fair takes the breath away. This is the man who denied the Chagos Islanders a fair hearing and used Parliamentary skullduggery to keep their grievances hidden. Clearly a model of democracy in action.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Shock! Horror! Tories in bed with the City.

The news that the tories received over half their funding from City spivs ranks alongside the defecation habits of bears and the religious persuasion of the Pope. 
What is truly astonishing in all this ‘blame it on Labour - blame it on the defecit’ mantra, is the way the link between Investment Bankers and the tories is quietly ignored. The greedy gamblers who brought the world’s economy to the floor are largely the same greedy bankers who back the tories. 
Another bucketful of nails in the ‘all in it together’ coffin. 
Not only do we need reform of Parliament, we also need reform of party funding. At least the spivs get what they pay for, which is more than can be said for the Unions! 

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Vince Cable is an embarrasment

Squirm, squirm, squirm. Listening to Vince Cable attempting to defend the indefensible on the PM programme was a deeply squirmy experience. The man has sold whatever is left of his soul. His attempts to justify the pusillanimous attempt by the Coalition to rein in the Bankers was almost unlistenable. This was a man of substance. Once.
Ever since he was shredded by the Torygraph cuties he has been a political eunuch. He cannot be happy to be living in this political and personal hell. 
He should resign, then rebuild or retire. 
He is not the only one to be deeply embarrassed by the Bankers. Anyone remember “Bonuses should be limited to £2000”?
Answers should be sent on a postcard to ‘Call Me We Are All In This Together Dave.’
Pay no heed to the squeals of ‘pain’ coming from the fat cats. Steve Bell makes the point in another terrific cartoon in the Guardian.

Lansley - just in case we forget

The shadow health secretary had his thatched Tudor cottage painted inside and out, using Farrow & Ball paint in some rooms, at a cost of more than £2,000, and also spent more than £500 having the driveway “re-shingled” and grass reseeded before selling it for £433,000.
Months before the Cambridgeshire South MP sealed the property deal, he “flipped” his expenses claim to his Georgian flat in London, where he spent thousands more, including £750 for a Laura Ashley sofa.” Telegraph May 2009
He did all this with our money. He has ‘moved on’ and ‘learned lessons.’ But the legacy of his actions linger on. And he is now Secretary of State for Health!
Can such a shameless expenses exploiter be trusted to run the NHS without letting his greedy chums in the Private Healthcare business get their grabbing paws on it? 

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

The Metropolitan Police

It has not been a good few months for the Met. The ongoing allegations of wilfully running an incompetent hacking investigation rumble on. Many more ‘A’ and some ‘Z’ list celebs are pursuing details of their part in phone hacking. Getting information from the Met has been very difficult (deliberately?). As each stone has been turned over the scandal has grown. Rebeccah Brooks admitted to a Parliamentary Committee that News International paid coppers in the Met for juicy information. Which is a crime. Although it was not a crime for News International to employ Andy Hayman as a columnist straight after he led the initial investigation into the hacking affair. Not a crime - but very, very smelly.
Add the brutality and incompetence of the handling of protests, not forgetting the Stockwell Tube killing, the much seen death of news vendor Ian Richardson for which there were no charges, secret policemen working undercover, planning and carrying out illegal acts and having seemingly sanctioned affairs. 
The reputation of the Met stinks. 
Then we learn how they react to being challenged by expert witnesses. The speech by a Detective Inspector at a conference in 2008 came to light today.
“He suggested as tactics to question everything about them - qualifications, employment history, testimony research papers presented by these experts, and even going to their expert bodies "to see if we turn up anything".
DI Welsh is also reported to have referred to "judicial inexperience", using the term "so deal with back door" apparently in reference to relaying concern to judges about expert witnesses.
A police spokesman confirmed that DI Welsh had given the speech but added that The Metropolitan Police Service "is completely committed to the judicial process and would never seek to improperly influence it". BBC Online 8/2/2011

A law unto itself. Not fit for purpose. 

Monday, 7 February 2011

Maude the Merrier

Listening to the loathsome Maude on Radio 4 this morning brought back memories of the almost forgotten expenses scandal that engulfed so many senior politicians. Here he was lecturing us on ‘fiscal deficit’ and the need for cuts. At the same time he is squirreling away funds in ‘blind trusts’ to keep his fortune growing. 

It is amazing how short people’s memories are. This is from the Telegraph back in 2009,
“Francis Maude, the shadow minister for the cabinet office, attempted to claim the mortgage interest on his family home in Sussex. This arrangement was rejected by the Fees Office. Two years later, Mr Maude bought a flat in London a few minutes walk from a house he already owned. He then rented out the other property and began claiming on the new flat: the taxpayer has since covered nearly £35,000 in mortgage interest payments.” My emphasis. 

Mr Maude is a wealthy man. One of many in this government. What he did was as bad as anything done by the handful of scapegoats who have been charged. Yet here he is lecturing us on our behaviour. Why is he not in court?

Just so this does not come across as a one-sided rant, who can forget the Balls-Cooper combo who flipped their home three times and “followed the rules.” They are currently shadow Chancellor and shadow Home Secretary. There are many, many more. All anxious to ‘move on’ and ‘learn lessons.’ What bollocks.
Trebles all round. Cheers!.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

The Digger and the Ligger

“David Cameron was, meanwhile, accused tonight of "breathtaking arrogance" for refusing to answer questions about his links to Murdoch's media empire, which owns the Sun and News of the World.”
Guardian 5/02/2011
He is the Prime Mincer and he is accountable to us scrotes. Cooking up seedy deals over Christmas nosh in the company of the evil NewsCorp cheeses (mini-Rupe and the Rupettes) is bad enough. Coming so soon after sad, pathetic Vince blew his credibility with a couple of honey-trap cuties from the Torygraph makes it worse. And at a time when the ‘sole wrong un’ line was sinking fast in the hack hacking saga. And just as the BSky B bid was going through ‘a rigorous scrutiny process/getting a nod and a wink, know what I mean squire....’ was most definitely NOT the time for tucking into big dins with the Rupettes.
Then to really rub it in, ‘Call Me All In This Dave Together,’ declines to answer simple questions about what was mentioned over the mince pies. Now why would he do that? Was the leader of our country cooking up seedy little deals with a hugely influential media outlet? Heaven forfend. 
He is following in his masters footsteps aka Mr Tony Blair. Why should we trust this tory toff anymore than we trust the Middle East Envoy? Secret deals over dinner, clinging to Coulson, telling whoppers about cuts, the NHS, Forests and bankers? 

All in this Big Society together my arse.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

NHS Reform

Health Secretary Lansley has been all over the media like a very unpleasant rash recently. He had a nightly slot on the PM programme, along with turns on just about every news media show. In these propaganda slots he kept citing ‘evidence’ as the driving force behind his non-manifesto’d NHS reforms.
Ben Goldacre writing in the Guardian cited several sources in a recent article challenging this ‘evidence.’ 
“There have been 15 major reorganisations of the NHS in 30 years. We've had GP fundholders, GP multifunds, primary care groups, PCTs, family practitioner committees, purchasing consortiums, and more. After all this change, lots of data should have been gathered on the impact of specific strategies.
In reality, few were properly studied. Here are four papers on GP fundholding, which is broadly similar to Lansley's GP consortiums. Kay in 2002 found it was introduced and then abolished without any evidence of its effects. In 2006 Greener and Mannion found a mix of good and bad, but no evidence that it improved patient care. In 1995, Coulter found nothing but gaps in the evidence and no sign of any improvement in efficiency, responsiveness or quality. Petchley found there was insufficient data to make any judgment. Lansley says he is following the evidence. I see no evidence to follow here.
Next, competition. Lansley has repeatedly denied that he is introducing competition on price. This is disturbing behaviour: his bill explicitly introduces price-based competition, it's in paragraph 5:43 of his NHS Operating Framework.” my emphases

There is also this little nugget from Private Eye (4/2/11). 
“ Since May 2010 the Department of Health has been advised on “commissioning”, which will be handed to consortia of GPs who will be required to operate competitively, by management consultants McKinsey (paid £6.5 m) and KPMG (earner of £1.2m between May and November). As luck would have it, KPMG have already won a commissioning contract in London under the new arrangements. 
McKinsey’s last big public-service reorganisation was the break up of HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) into incomprehensible business units when the Inland Revenue and Customs merged six years ago. Two weeks ago, poring over the department’s lamentable record ever since, MP Andrew Tyrie, chair of the Commons Treasury select committee asked senior HMRC staff representatives if the reorganisation was indeed “on the basis of a plan by McKinsey....that turned out to be a disaster, is that right?” “Yes,” came the unequivocal response.
KPMG meanwhile, advised the government on another disastrous break-up around the same time: the sale of international development fund CDC’s fund-management arm Actis, labelled “shameful” by secretary of state Andrew Mitchell.”  
Lansley is as slippery as a piece of soap on a very slippery slide. He cannot be trusted. Neither can his so-called consultants.
As Ben Goldacre concludes, “when Lansley says all the evidence supports his interventions, as he has done repeatedly, he is simply wrong. His wrongness is not a matter of opinion, it is a fact, and his pretence at data-driven neutrality is not just irritating, it's also hard to admire. There's no need to hide behind a cloak of scientific authority, murmuring the word "evidence" into microphones. If your reforms are a matter of ideology, legacy, whim and faith, then, like many of your predecessors, you could simply say so, and leave "evidence" to people who mean it.” Guardian online 5/2/2011

Friday, 4 February 2011

State Sponsored Violence

Speaking on Channel 4 News tonight, ‘Call Me Dave,’ our PR Prime Minister, was taking the Egyptian Government to task. He said, “State sponsored violence and the hiring of thugs to beat up protesters is not acceptable.” 
Fair enough. 
So why is he not looking for the mote in his own eye? Why has he not launched an Inquiry into the behaviour of the Metropolitan Police? Why can they get away with ‘kettling’ innocent people? Why can they get away with killing innocent people? Why can they get away with hitting protestors with batons (or truncheons to be more precise)? How can a very senior Police Officer (Sir Hugh Orde) talk about being even tougher and introduce ‘super kettling,’ among other measures, and still keep his job? Why has the control of the police spies been handed over to the seemingly unaccountable Metropolitan Police?
Why is ‘state sponsored violence’ wrong when it is foreign and perfectly acceptable when it is at home?

Wild Wheelie Bins

The bins were emptied yesterday. Nothing unusual in that. Bin men on Islay are helpful and reliable. However an empty bin soon becomes highly mobile in 50-60mph winds. Watching them scooting across roads, tootling up slopes, slithering round fences and gathering together in more sheltered spots could lead a visiting alien to assume they were sentient beings.

Wild weather here is very elemental and unavoidable. The seas have been dramatic with giant rollers pounding in. Spray flew away as the wind changed direction making the waves appear to be moving even faster. The energetic splendour is hypnotically attractive despite the observer being blasted by wind and spray. 

The roughest, wildest time was in the evening which frustrated us avid wave watchers.
The bay today revealed how high the tide had been. The dead seal which has been a source of nourishment for many hooded crows and gulls since last November, seems to have been washed away. 

While dramatic weather is exciting and thrilling for the fit and able, it is a threat to the elderly in the village. They become trapped in their homes until the worst is over. No ferries again today which puts our dodgy power supply at risk. It also means no post or papers or deliveries to the shops. 

Off to watch the waves again later - there are compensations for a life without mail or newspapers.