Tuesday, 31 January 2012

An Unholy Mess
“The coalition's NHS reforms, the biggest shakeup of the health service in 60 years, are a "damaging … unholy mess" that will need overhauling in five years' time, the editors of three leading healthcare publications claim.
In an editorial published simultaneously by the British Medical Journal, Health Service Journal and Nursing Times, their editors say the NHS "is far too important to be left at the mercy of ideological and incompetent intervention" and argue ,"we must make sure that nothing like this ever happens again". Guardian 31/1/12
How damning is that ‘ideological and incompetent intervention?’ 
Lansley    claims that his plans for the NHS are "well thought out and necessary." So necessary they did not warrant a mention in the Tory Manifesto. So necessary that Cameron made the pledge, “There will be no top-down reorganisation of the NHS," during the same election. 
So necessary because of pledges made by  Lansley to private health care providers? 
So well thought out we now have chaos and confusion. So well thought out we have one half of the NHS spending money reorganising structures which may well end up being binned. 
Lansley is out of his depth and drowning. He needs to be put out of his misery.
Apply more pressure by taking 2 minutes to sign this government e-petition, calling on Cameron's government to drop the Health and Social Care Bill: 


Sunday, 29 January 2012

David Cameron’s call for ‘responsible capitalism’ provokes public hygiene problem as millions wet themselves.
Thanks to Private Eye for the following. 
“David Cameron’s speech calling for ‘responsible capitalism’, promising to “put the right rules and institutions in place” to “improve markets and make them fair as well as free”, showed that the PM, a former PR man, knows how to say the right thing even when it’s totally at odds with what he actually does.
Last year Cameron asked private equity boss Adrian Beecroft to write a review of employment law. Beecroft proposed letting bosses sack workers more easily, tearing up tribunal and maternity leave rights and generally freeing employers from responsibilities and rules.
The PM can’t have been surprised by Beecroft’s cavalier attitude to responsibility and fairness, given that he is chairman of Dawn Capital, the private equity firm that owns Wonga.com. This payday loan firm pursues poor folk, students and old people with loan rates running from 360 percent up to a staggering 4,000 percent APR.
Cameron accused the last government of being “frightened of challenging vested interests, believing too often that the interests of big business were always one and the same as those of the economy as a whole”. So Dave will presumably now chuck the Beecroft report in the bin - and the fact that he has given the Conservatives £587,000 since 2006 will of course not play on the PM’s mind at all.”    HP Sauce
Those not yet donning the incontinence kit should be prepared...
“There can be few areas more in need of David Cameron’s new moral capitalism than the business of putting companies into administration.
Two years ago Eye 1255 reported how high-street chain Woolworth’s was put into administration by its bankers on the advice of beancounter Deloitte, rejecting management’s plans to save it. The administration contract was duly handed to .....Deloitte. The banks were paid in full, Deloitte trousered more than £9m and 30,000 staff lost their jobs, with no redundancy payments.
Now a tribunal has found that Deloitte failed to consult properly on the redundancies and the workers are due compensation totalling £67m. This of course, will be paid not by Deloitte, but by the taxpayer. We’re all in it together?” Private Eye 27/1/12

Friday, 27 January 2012

RBS, Hester and the Government
Make loads of hardworking people redundant? Check.
Oversee a loss-making bank? Check. 
Run a company 81% owned by the taxpayer? Check.
See the share price plummet? Check.
Enjoy a salary in excess of £1million per year? Check.
Set in place rules which make it harder for small businesses to get a loan? Check.
Take home in 3 days what a soldier serving in Afghanistan earns in a year? Check.
Believe this to be right and proper as you risk being shown up as a greedy bastard or worse, not making as much moolah as your venal colleagues, whereas a squaddy could merely end up being dead, and where is the shame in that? Check.
Be given rewards for all the failures listed above as a bonus of nearly a million? Check.
Can’t believe your luck? Check.
Live in a parallel universe? Check.
Claim that you could earn much more in another bank somewhere else? Check.
Expose the Tory-led Government as a bunch of smug, arrogant, inept and hypocritical bastards? Check.
Show up Nick Clegg for being a piece of useless bloody offal drowning in shark-infested waters? Check.
Embarrass the hell out of New Labour for awarding a crazy contract? Check.
Shoot down any bollocks about us all being in this together? Check.
Annoy the hell out of any decent citizen of the UK? Checkety check check.
Run a coach and horses through any notion of fairness? Checkety checkety check.
Help prepare the ground making revolution that little bit more likely? Check.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Bankers take the biscuit - the poor get the blame
An investment banker, a Daily Wail reader and a benefit recipient are sitting round a plate with 12 biscuits on it. The banker takes 11 biscuits, then turns to the Daily Wail reader and says, “Watch out, that scrounger is after your biscuit.”
All the fuss about benefit caps should be seen in the light of this little joke going the rounds. Most of the biggest payments go to claimants in London for their rent. The system is unfair because it transfers money from the taxpayer to landlords who can set the level of rent at a price that suits them. In many major cities in the world there is rent control. It could be re-introduced to London.
Do not hold your breath. As Mark Blackman, writing in the Independent put it, “It won’t happen, because at least one section of the Coalition Government is funded by the likes of wealthy landlords and many MPs earn a tidy sum by renting out properties themselves.”
So MPs blame the poor while pocketing the cash and the Daily Wail looks the other way.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Are there no depths to which these bastards will not sink?
A little article about the way statistics have been abused by this corrupt and self-serving government emerged today. Last weekend, the egregious Grayling and Green pandered to those of our society who like to blame foreigners for all our ills. The fact that 371,000 people who were foreign nationals were claiming benefits was seized upon by the rightwing press. The Daily Wail, the Scum and Torygraph pandered to their fascist readership with their rent-a-guff, ‘Coming over here taking our jobs, taking advantage of the welfare state, robbing us blind’ nonsense. The EDL need little persuasion to use such ‘facts’ to launch racist attacks. Grayling and Green know this. But they still went ahead and peddled the ‘foreigner taking advantage’ line. Bastards.

Now it emerges that the facts do not stack up. It seems that ‘foreigners’ are less likely to claim benefits than British born workers. That will not stop the racist attacks. As Goebels said, “If you are going to lie, then make it a big lie.”

‘Aliens’ (great word) are also more likely to be hardworking and contributing to our society. Unlike our ruling millionaire toffs who would not recognise hardship even if it reared up and bit them in the bum.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Haditha - a ‘Dereliction of Duty’
It is seven years since 24 Iraqi civilians were massacred at Haditha by a US Marine squad.  The sergeant in charge has accepted a plea bargain to admit ‘dereliction of duty’ rather than the more serious charge of manslaughter. Cynics will argue that the ‘man’ should have been left off the ‘manslaughter’ charge. Testimony from other squad members stated that Sgt. Frank Wuterich personally lined up five men as they arrived in a taxi and shot them. He is the only one of the squad to be found guilty. Six squad members had charges dropped or dismissed, including some in exchange for testifying at the trial. Among the 24 civilians were women and children and a man in a wheelchair. 
While the events in Haditha occurred in November 2005, an investigation did not begin until a local human rights activist went public with video footage of the aftermath.
Alistair Leithead, a BBC reporter had this to say from Los Angeles, “The dropping of nine manslaughter charges against Staff Sergeant Frank Wuterich, 31, and the relative leniency of a maximum three month jail sentence will not be well received by those in Iraq who wanted justice for the death of family members. Especially after all other cases related to the killings have been dropped or acquitted.
The killings severely tainted the reputation of US forces in Iraq, but by 2005, they had already been hit hard by the prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib. The Haditha massacre is still an emotive issue in the country and prompted calls for US troops to be denied immunity from prosecution in the Iraqi justice system.”
“Will not be well received by those in Iraq who wanted justice” is a bit of an understatement. The plea bargain charge of ‘dereliction of duty’ is deeply insulting. As is a maximum three month sentence. It reflects the US military’s approach to Iraqi casualties. They were never counted. Estimates vary from 150,000 to over a million deaths. US casualties were counted.
Americans make a great deal about being a democracy and observing the rule of law. The outcome of this case undermines that claim. Haditha is indeed a dereliction of duty.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Cable’s crap attack
Just when a gallant knight is needed to sort out all the villains in the city of London up pops Vince. Watch the financiers squeal. Listen to the bankers howl. Enjoy the anguish of the hedgefunders. Then again....dream on. 
Fairness and rigour do not feature in St Vince’s apology for a policy.  Bathetic.
Fat Cats will not lose any sleep. 
It is down to us to boycott the robber baron companies and greedy megacorps. 
Make a start by taking your money out of RBS and putting it into an ethical bank. 
38 degrees - this is a campaign made for you. 

Friday, 20 January 2012

ConDem Capitalism
On the same day that Stephen Hester, CEO of RBS was announced to be getting a massive bonus for running the company at a £600m loss.........
....  was the same day that Goldmann Sachs announced they were going to give their staff humongous bonuses again........

...and it was the same day the report was published into the way we subsidise supermarket profits by boosting the wages of their low earning staff by providing tax benefits which thereby enables their bosses to trouser millions ........

.....was the same day that the House of Lords passed the Bill which would take 20% from the income of the most vulnerable in our society - the disabled. 
And also on that same day, as Millionaire Cameron told us that he thought something had to be done to make capitalism a little fairer, he was drowned out by the noise of sick buckets being filled around the land.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

‘State-subsidised corporate super-profits’
Zoe Williams has written a very good article in the Guardian which addresses one of the issues of our society ignored by our political class. 
“The first time I heard the phrase "state-subsidised corporate super-profits" was last June, at a conference of the pressure group Compass, in a discussion about meeting child poverty targets by 2020 (the title was intended as a bleak joke, I think). Someone in the audience said that the very existence of "in-work benefits" was evidence of the government subsidising the bloated profits of huge corporations.
This was underlined by the arcane terminology – a "working family tax credit". Why a "tax credit" and not a "benefit"? Clearly, because otherwise some smart-Alec might have said that if a company is paying a worker less than it takes to break through the breadline, and that's legal, then there's something wrong with the minimum wage. However, this was a lefty conference, full of lefties, and this is the sort of thing they say.
The next time I heard it, it was July and a reported observation, specifically about pay in supermarkets, from the editor of MoneyWeek, Merryn Somerset Webb. I don't know her politics, but she was previously a broker at SBC Warburg, she writes for the Spectator, and she is a non-executive director of two investment trusts. You don't meet many people like her at a Compass conference.
Tomorrow, the Fair Pay Network publishes a report on the impact of low pay in national supermarket chains. It looks at the big four supermarkets: Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda and Morrisons – the largest employer block in the country outside of the NHS. The report finds that the working poor now dominate poverty equations, with nearly two-thirds of children in poverty living in working families. It gives case studies for individual members of the 900,000-strong supermarket workforce: workers such as the mother who has to hold down two part-time jobs, never sees her kids, and still can't afford to use the tube – so they probably end up blowing what quality "me-time" they have schlepping across town on a bus. Life would be untenable for many families without in-work benefits, and even with them it is back-breakingly hard.
Who wins, when the government makes up the shortfall, between the poverty pay a shelf-packer earns and what he or she needs to live on? Not the worker, evidently; not the taxpayer, who may get a certain empathy boost from the fact that nobody's starving, but reaps no economic advantage from this bizarre system; not the supplier to the supermarket, who often has his or her own case to make about deals so bad they often amount to a mugging.
The only winners are the chains themselves: Justin King, the CEO of Sainsbury's, receives £3.2m a year; Philip Clarke of Tesco, £6.9m; Dalton Philips, of Morrisons, £4m; Andy Clarke of Asda's pay is not in the public domain. What justifies these amounts? Their profits, of course: well done, guys. You don't pay the London living wage, or the UK living wage (a non-binding rate set by the Centre for Social Policy Research) to your lowest-paid employees. You were abetted in this by the last government, and now have this government, with its soaring unemployment, over a barrel.
You reaped greater profits as a result, which you must now feel free to skim off. To grab so much in excess of what you could ever spend or need, at a cost of so much hardship, to so many people, defies comprehension. It can't be because they want the money; it can only be an urge to compete with their CEO peers. What would be good is if they could divert some of this myopic energy into a more innocuous pastime, like a FTSE 100 squash tournament.
However, CEOs are hard to influence, especially on the matter of their own salaries; a better place to start would be the government. Part of the problem here is that it is typically leftwing to agree with benefits, both from a political, redistributive agenda and as part of a semi-Keynesian programme that it's good for GDP for the poorest to have more money, because they spend a larger proportion of their income, thence pumping it back into the economy.
Meanwhile, on the right, it is typical to disagree with benefits, both from an ideological faith in the individual as master of his own destiny, and from the monetarist position that government spending strangles private enterprise. Clem Chambers espoused this so succinctly in Forbes this week that I almost bought it and had to change my whole identity: "If you subtract state spending from total GDP, then subtract the tax take from what's left and then deduct government borrowings, what remains in most developed countries approaches zero. There is little or no GDP left for the private sector. No wonder there isn't any economic growth."
However, this is a simple chicken-or-egg question: does the size of the public sector suffocate the private sector? Or does the public sector only look big because the private sector is so rubbish?
What nobody in any of these corners would ever advocate is state spending as an alternative to fair wage settlements. The left would say: set a minimum living wage, make it decent, enforce it, unionise. The right would say: let the market determine wages; if people aren't paid enough, they'll stop spending and the supermarkets themselves will realise that boosting pay packets in the middle will yield better profits than one huge pay packet at the top.
Nobody would say: let the supermarkets pay what they like, and so that they never have to deal with the economic consequences of that, let the state make up the difference. Nobody would say that, because it's senseless. And yet, here we are.” Guardian 19/1/12
On the ‘Comment’ pages following the article, Zoe Williams makes the case for ‘organised boycotts’ of these subsidised profiteers. Bring it on.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Miliband, Balls and the Cuts
Oh Dear! Why should any person of sound mind and of fair disposition support the political class that currently run the Labour party? Miliband and Balls could have made an excellent case to go after the estimated £125bn tax that is currently avoided by many famous companies, corporations and individuals. They could have stressed fairness and reined in the bankers and financiers who reward themselves with astronomical salaries and bonuses despite their appalling performance. They could have saved at least £25bn by scrapping Trident. They could have hammered home the fact that it is disgusting to expect the poorest to pay for the calamities of the wealthiest.
They did not do any of this. They marched onto the Tories front doorstep and said, “We agree with you.” They conceded in effect that the Tories were right to attack the poor, the weak and the vulnerable. Balls should have resigned months ago. Apart from being a bully involved in the dark arts of counter-briefing against his own colleagues, he was also proud of his ‘soft-touch’ regulatory regime which was a factor in the economic madness of the banking scandal. As for Miliband? He flounders and huffs and puffs but essentially he lacks the values and nous to connect with ordinary people. 
The LibDems are also in bed with this policy too so you will not get a gnats knacker between any of the three main parties. What a disgrace. What democracy?
Why any union contributes to this bunch of chancers and careerists masquerading as a political party beggars belief. 
The grave of Keir Hardy should have a generator attached to it to harness the energy currently being given off by its occupant. 

Monday, 16 January 2012

John Lewis and Toxic Clegg
The John Lewis model of how to run a company has always impressed by its very logic. The company does well - the ‘partners’ do well. Eminently fair and encouraging. None of this nonsense where the cheeses take home 160 times the average pay. It is a model which should be much more widespread. Sadly the fact that Toxic Clegg has latched onto it as his latest wheeze means it is unlikely to flourish. Since selling his soul to mammon to get in bed with the big boys, Toxic has struggled. He has floundered and in his heart he knows he is out of his depth. The more he tries the worse it gets. He is deeply tarnished. It is a stain which shows no sign of fading. 

Saturday, 14 January 2012

U K renamed ‘Poundland’
Cait Reilly had been working on a voluntary basis at a museum. She was an unemployed graduate who was working in a museum for work experience and to increase her employability. The government did not agree. They have worked out a cosy little deal with their business chums which on the surface looks like a good idea. 
“Geology graduate Cait Reilly is suing the Government for forcing her to sweep floors and stack shelves in Poundland for no extra salary or lose her benefits. There is nothing wrong with stacking shelves. There is everything wrong with stacking shelves for a wage that would amount, for a 22-year-old, to £1.33 an hour for an average working week, with no security, benefits or expectation of promotion: Ms Reilly was not even offered an interview after her placement.
The Department for Work and Pension's claim that the practice of requiring people on benefits to work menial jobs for substantially less than the minimum wage is somehow about "support" and "help[ing] people off benefits and into work"  Laurie Penny, Independent
A reader commenting on the article wrote the following, “My son was offered work experience for 4 weeks and he,  an 18 year old with limited experience of work, jumped at the chance. After 1 week working for 30 hours as a member of staff not an extra, they asked him if he would like a job. He was delighted, and of course said yes.
But they continued to keep him on a work experience basis  for the following 3 weeks.
After his 4 weeks were up, they decided to keep him on - but not as an employed member of staff, but still on work experience, for another 4 weeks, taking him to the limit allowed for work experience.
THEN they gave him a job, working 25 hours a week, but on an 8 hour a week contract (this obviously works out better for the business - less holiday and sickness allowance for them to pay out. It appears to be standard procedure these days).
So YOU, the taxpayer, funded this business for 7 weeks longer than you should have, giving them a free employee for those seven weeks, and giving the business all the extra allowances they are given by the government for being kind enough to take on people on the work experience scheme.
Businesses (with millions of profit every year) and taking advantage of us, and also reducing the hours of employed staff whilst taking on these 'free employees'.
The system stinks.”
Another added, “If there's work to do then the employee should receive minimum wage, regardless of whether they work in a business or in the community. Every job an unemployed person does results in a paying job being lost.” (my emphasis)
There is a move to identify these ‘helpful’ companies who are exploiting the situation to make even more millions - and boycott the bastards.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

News Management or Pigs Might Fly
Lying in bed early this morning listening to the news, a little alarm bell began to ring. The BBC security correspondent (does he write in lemon juice?) let it be known that Scotland Yard and the Director of Public Prosecutions were going to issue an important statement later in the day. He then went on to say that ‘sources’ had let it be known that no-one from MI5 or MI6 was likely to be charged after a 3 year inquiry into torture. 
The alarm bell was right. The ‘statement’ confirmed that no-one would be charged because of insufficient evidence. However, to take minds off this lack of action there was the sop that the two Libyans who had been rendered back to Ghaddaffi in the days of Reverend Blair were having their cases thoroughly investigated as there was prima facie evidence that we had colluded with their ill-treatment and used subterfuge to get them back into the clutches of Mr Tony’s new best mate.  
This was not a new story. The information emerged as Libya changed hands. Documents were found, which if genuine, gave the lie to all the mealy-mouthed crap spouted by Milibean senior and (man of) Straw, not forgetting Blair. So why today to announce this ‘major investigation’? Why was this not begun three months ago?
It could not possibly be to take attention away from the lack of progress in the torture case could it? Insufficient evidence? You bet. Somebody, somewhere in spookdom knows the score. 
And as for this latest inquiry into rendition? Another three years then hoofed into the long grass. The investigation will turn up evidence of wrongdoing but be unable to pin anything on a secret minion. Another ‘important’ announcement will be timed to cover up the cover up.
Pigs Might Fly
They could surprise everyone by rounding up Blair, Straw, Milibean and the heads of MI5 and MI6, interviewing them under oath before whisking them off to the Hague. 
Even in the Pigs Might Fly category that scenario takes a lot of believing.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

PIP implant scandal and the NHS
Several folk will have been bemused to hear bc Lansley bewail his lack of progress with the private cosmetic health clinics who were responsible for fitting 95% of the dangerous implants.
Several others will bemoan the lack of action from the watchdog. NHS surgeons began raising concerns about the failure rate of these implants in 2006. Why has it taken the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) till now to raise their concerns? 
Richard Horton is the editor of The Lancet. He wrote an article about the scandal in today’s Guardian which had this conclusion.

“The British government's health and social care bill will open up the NHS to private sector providers. The events of the past month show why this policy is so misguided. When something goes wrong in the NHS the entire organisation can be mobilised to address the problem coherently, transparently, equitably, and to the very highest of standards. But in the case of PIP implants, over 95% of which were done by private providers, what have we seen? Andrew Lansley, the health secretary, has had to castigate private cosmetic clinics for failing to gather and provide high-quality data on their procedures. The best he could do was ask that they "take similar action" to the NHS; he could not require such action. Bruce Keogh, Medical Director of the NHS went further: "We can place no reliance upon [their] figures."
Yet this is the future for the NHS. A system of healthcare that cannot be held accountable by the government; one that has no obligation to collect or supply accurate information about what it is doing; one that fiercely resists its duty of care to patients; and one that is more concerned with cost than it is with quality. The evidence is before us: it's time to kill this bill.”

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Reverend Blair - a two-faced hypocrite
Q. Who said, in 1994, “We must tackle abuse of the tax system. For those who can employ the right accountants, the tax system is a haven of scams, perks,City deals and profits...We should not make our tax rules a playground for revenue avoiders who pay little or nothing while others pay more than their share.”
A. Why none other than our former PM  -  The Reverend Blair.
Why are we not shocked? Why is the news that his company paid just £315,000 tax on income of more than £12m more grist to the mill? 
Few will be surprised at just how sleazy he and his organisations have become. The deadlock continues in the Middle East. Many lives have been lost. Livelihoods ruined and the running sore fans the flames of religious hatred throughout the region. And while that appalling situation prevails, the Middle East peace envoy rakes in the cash. 
The accounts showed Blair had £8m worth of ‘administrative expenses.’
Yeah right. Just the sort of wheeze devised by a ‘revenue avoider’. 
Remember Al Capone? The feds finally got him  -  for tax evasion.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Hoots Cameron
Today’s news about Westminster intervening in the little local difficulty that is Scotland has to be a diversion. But from what?
Is it the total failure to rein in excessive pay and bonuses for his mates in the City? Could be.
Is it the fact that folks are getting wise to his PR stunts and are starting to see through them, whether it is nurses, pay, the NHS or anything else which needs a good spin?
Is it to cover up his embarrassment at the arrant nonsense he guffed about ‘health and safety’ identifying himself as a direct descendent of the Gradgrinds and other mightily nasty pieces of victorian opprobrium? Hmm - like most tories , for whom a dangerous job is picking up wet change from a bar top, he hasn’t a clue.
Is it because of all the sabre rattling going on in the Gulf of Hormuz? The Americans are getting edgy and we must be by their sides ......mustn’t we? It is frighteningly possible.
Is it the news that DC’s hero the Reverend Blair, has seemingly skipped paying a large amount of wonga from his incredible (in every sense) earnings?
Is it to take the heat off the decision to go ahead with the high speed rail link through the heart of toryshire?
Is he too upset after seeing his heroine depicted as more than a little batty in a movie? If so he needs a reality check.
Or is he simply fed up that in the land of Caledonia the tories are toxic and is about to cut his losses? Surely not - what about his shooting ‘n fishin? Maybe he just cannot stand Alex Salmond.

Readers with more possibilities are welcome to throw them into the pot.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

 Lansley and private clinics
Listening to bc Lansley talking on Radio 4 about the shoddy breast implants was an insight into the mind of the man. bc was unhappy at the lack of co-operation from so many private clinics. They had been reluctant to divulge the extent of the problem and give details about how many breast implants they had done. bc thought this was not good. Doh!
Private medicine does not like spending money on admin or on righting wrongs. It all costs  cash. And cash is what they are all about.
As usual the NHS will end up picking up the bill to put matters right. 
bc will not let a few tough facts about private medicine spoil his plans to massively increase it in the NHS. Too many vested interests are relying on him to deliver.

bc = beneath contempt

Monday, 2 January 2012

Dishonourable and disreputable
“Handing knighthoods and other honours to financial backers of major political parties risks bringing the system into “disrepute” because of the suspicion of corruption, according to the standards watchdog.” Daily Telegraph 2/1/12 
Another statement in the long long line of stating the bleeding obvious, this is yet another example of how our political elites do not give a monkeys about  the way this plays out with ‘ordinary folk.’ They know it will be a two-day wonder. 
“Sir Christopher Kelly, the chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, was speaking after four leading Conservative donors who had collectively given the party nearly £1million were given awards in the New Year honours list. Paul Ruddock, a hedge fund manager, and Doug Ellis, a package holiday millionaire were knighted, while James Lupton, an investment banker, and James Wates, a construction firm tycoon, were awarded CBEs in Saturday’s list.” (ibid)
Labour have huffed and puffed but with no real conviction. They are mired in sleaze by the ‘Cash for Honours’ scandal. And as for the LibDems?  They are in the dock thanks to their refusal to pay back the £2.4 million they received from convicted fraudster and current fugitive Michael Brown. 
Anyone who thinks these baubles are all that these wealthy wankers want must be living in cloud cuckoo land. Nothing like a large dollop of cash to buy yourself some influence - and improve your bank balance.
So there you have it. Another instance where reform is long overdue but where there is neither the will, the desire, or as yet the pressure to force our political elite to do anything. 

Sunday, 1 January 2012

The BBC, MI5/MI6 and the Tories
The BBC's director general (dg) personally intervened to censor a 1981 edition of Panorama on Britain's secret services, official papers have revealed. 
According to documents from the National Archives, Sir Ian Trethowan, was put under pressure by Margaret Thatcher's Conservative government over the planned documentary.
In a letter flagged as "top secret and personal", the Tories even considered invoking their power to "veto" the BBC programme about MI5 and MI6 because it threatened to reveal details of the agencies' inner workings and question their accountability. 
The dg requested a video of the original 100-minute programme to be shown to Bernard Sheldon, the then legal adviser to MI5. Sheldon suggested a number of heavy cuts.
BBC News reports that Sir Ian then asked the BBC's head of news and current affairs to make many of the suggested cuts, reducing the programme by around half.
Sir Ian had told the press that no-one from the government had been shown the film, but the documents reveal that he did in fact hold meetings with the heads of MI5 and MI6. 
In a subsequent note to the prime minister, Armstrong said that "it looks as if Sir Ian Trethowan has not managed to clean the programme up to the extent we might have hoped".
Also revealed in the released documents was that Number 10 Downing Street felt Sir Ian was a "weak" BBC dg, while the programme makers were concerned that he was pandering to the government's wishes.
All of this was revealed in last Friday’s PM programme. The original journalist on the piece, Tom Mangold, related how he was invited to a meeting with the dg who then spent some time flattering his work. The dg then slipped in the barb that it would need to be edited ‘for sensitivity.’ Which it duly was to the apparent satisfaction of no-one. 
This was thirty years ago. We have moved on and things are better now - - -aren’t they?
Well not quite. Since the Hutton report, the BBC has tended to adopt a pre-emptive cringe in the face of perceived government unhappiness. Only recently, Jeremy Hunt applied pressure to get the Corruption in FIFA Panorama programme shelved while the horse-trading was going on. He denied it of course. 
The lack of mainstream media coverage of these revelations has been interesting. Compare it with the coverage of ‘Liverpool to be left to rot’ - from the same sources and subsequently unconvincingly denied by Lord Howe.
One thing this affair has confirmed. Our leaders lie to us on a regular basis. No surprises there. 
Happy New Year.