Monday, 19 November 2012

Maude rides again

Maude rides again

The brass-necked scoundrel/respected elder statesman is at it again. Today’s Telegraph has this little belter among a story of our dear MPs renting homes to one another.

“Dispatches also found that Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office minister, has claimed more than £15,000 on his second home — despite a public pledge from David Cameron in 2009 that he would stop. Mr Maude billed the taxpayer for council tax, utility bills, television licence and service charges.
In 2009, at the height of the expenses scandal, Mr Cameron said in a party political broadcast: “Other members of the shadow Cabinet, like Francis Maude and Chris Grayling, will not in future claim anything for their second homes.” (my emphasis)

Cannot be much clearer than that. 

“Mr Maude’s spokesman said that he had only agreed to stop claiming on his second home for 12 months.” Daily Telegraph 19/11/12

For those new to this tale. Maude fell out with the Commons authorities some years ago when they would not pay him as much in expenses as he thought he should get, (from us, the taxpayer). He promptly rented another property 300 yards from the house he owned in central London and made us pay all the expenses for him. 

Maude is a multi-millionaire. He owns several properties.

All in it together? 

Or are our leaders in the trough together?

These aren’t a few of my favourite things...

You can stick your ‘raindrops on roses’ where the sun don’t shine. There are an increasing number of reasons for people of all ages and income to mobilise, get off their backsides, boycott, campaign and generally work to bring some sense of fairness to our world. Here are a few to start with. 

Starbucks: for claiming to be making a loss to the taxman for 14 years yet telling shareholders how well they are doing. Odd that.

IKEA:for knowingly using political prisoners kept in appalling conditions in Stasi jails in East Germany, to make their furniture. And for ruling out compensation. That takes some nerve.

The Liberal Democlots: How long have you got? Suffice to say their latest support for the secret court policy beggars belief. This would mean people who have been badly treated by our secret and not so secret services would be denied access to justice. Rule of Law anyone?

NewLabour: For perpetrating and/or colluding with the madness of the war on terror which threw the Rule of Law in the bin. Miliband, Straw and Blair and cronies - this means you.

Amazon: for being so good yet so greedy. With 15,000 employees in the UK and making squillions across the globe, they are another slippery outfit who use our infrastructure to safely sell their stuff but do not pay their fair share.

Google: ‘Never knowingly do harm’ is their little bit of hogwash. Pure bollocks. Another company earning zillions without coughing up. 

Cameron: for farcically trying to insist the Police Commissioner election fiasco was worthwhile. Wait until he condemns the next strike ballot......or the vote on Scottish Independence.....!

The AA: now owned by a private equity company - and guess what? They do not pay their fair share either.

Osborne: Again - how long have you got? He seems to be working to a different beat to most of his colleagues. “Greenest government ever”  -  “We are all in this together”  - ‘Pasty tax’  -  stop, stop. No more. 

Israel: (and its ‘friends’ who collude with a regime that is aggressive, nasty and duplicitous).

Fanatical fundamentalist Christians and Muslims: who appear to define themselves by their hatred of each other. Not forgetting the Catholic Church who have taken the message ‘suffer little children’ to a much baser level.

‘Honour Killings’: never was ‘honour’ so ill-used. The silence of the Muslim religious leaders and politicians on this issue is deafening. 

Slippery, self-serving venal MPs: the list continues to grow of our ‘honourable’ members who fiddled their expenses and now lecture us about ‘probity’. The numbers involved were many times higher than the handful who went to jail. Kevin Barron, Keith Vaz et al, not to mention the umpteen Cabinet and Shadow-Cabinet members who made a fortune in property - all at our expense. It may have been ‘within their rules’ but it stank then and it still stinks now. 

No clearout = no confidence = no point voting. Definitely not apathy. 

With that, we are off to India to hopefully see England fight back in the test series....Hmmm.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Police Commissioner Elections: the democlots strike again!

The Tories have foisted on an unwilling citizenry the farce of elected Police Commissioners. Early reports suggest a record low turnout. ‘Experts’ are saying that the government did not handle the election at all well. Participants were not allowed to do a mail shot to their electorate. This disenfranchises the number of folks without internet access. It presupposed that citizens would be bothered enough to find out It also reduces the impact as people chat in the street, pub or cafe. 

Setting the fee at £5000 to enter the contest was anti-democratic and sets a barrier to the poor. A better method would have been to have an increased number of nominators to deter frivolous candidates. The Downing Street machine has been remarkably quiet and done little to raise the profile of the election. It has cost £75 million to hold these elections. Money which could have gone on front line policing. 

As for the voters? What a choice. Most candidates have sung from the same or similar hymn sheet so what is a decision based upon? 

Now the votes have been held and the turnouts are in the low teens - 13% for Greater Manchester, 15% for leafy Wiltshire and maybe 19% for the ‘Mouth of the Humber’ Prescott's area. A report has just come in from Wales stating that a ballot box from one area was returned empty! Not a single ballot paper! Not one.

The voting system, which slipped under the radar without any fuss from the same press that excoriated the LibDem attempt to reform voting, is preferential. All first preferences are counted. The top two candidates go through to a final. All the others who did not reach the final have their second preferences counted. Then a result is called. 

Many people will have spoilt their papers. I did. Another expert this morning said that this system of voting typically produces about 2% of spoilt or invalid ballots. This can be putting a cross in both boxes instead of a 1 and 2. It can also be a ‘none of the above’ comment, or other written scathing remarks. How many of those are needed to render the result farcical? The Minister in charge claimed this morning that the results were legitimate! These are the same people who deride union strike ballots when they drop below 50% turnout and claim the outcome is not credible. Well they will be now!

Yet another plank has been added to the raft of omnishambolic policies put forward by this incompetent bunch of clots. 

The posh clots are not turning out to be a great advert for £30,000 a year Eton. They may well know which spoon to use and which way to pass the port but they appear increasingly clueless about the things that matter.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012


For the first time in my life there is an election taking place which is leaving me perturbed yet peculiarly uninvolved.

When the Tories announced their plan to introduce an American-style contest for virtually every police force in England, it was greeted with widespread apathy and very little interest. Thanks to the self-aggrandizing buffoon calling himself Lord Prescott - a title to belie his so called ‘socialist’ roots - there has been a tiny bit more interest. 

Some key facts.

The contest is a sort of preferential voting system - you know - similar to what the tories put the boot into with the help of their media arslikhan chums. You put 1st and 2nd preferences down. The top two candidates then have their 2nd preference votes counted and added to the first round count. More than a whiff of hypocrisy here .

Candidates have to put up £5000 to stand. Mere loose change to some of our toff brethren but not straightforward for an honest Joe or Jill with a family. The Tories claimed they wanted Independent candidates. Oh Yeah! 

Political parties have jumped in. They put up a party stooge plus the £5000! 
Any virtue in this ballot is disappearing fast. There is a danger (delight?) in the turnout being very low. At what point does it become illegitimate?

As for me in Derbyshire I will be faced with a party hack from Labour matched by a similar one from the Tories and a candidate somewhere to the right of barking for UKIP. Then there is an independent ex-copper. 

Laura N’Order is a popular girl across the country just now as all these hacks and stooges espouse her virtues.

Options are limited:
Do not bother voting: not happy with this as it is a right I cherish.

Vote just for one candidate - the independent. Perhaps.

Spoil my ballot paper. This has been advocated by several columnists - chiefly John Harris in a Guardian article recently. What would happen if spoilt papers won? This appeals but what is written has to be pithy and to the point. All ‘spoilt’ papers are read out to the candidates at the count. Can be very entertaining.

Any suggestions?

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Remembrance Day Portnahaven 2012

Remembrance Day Portnahaven 2012

The War Memorial stands on a prominent hill overlooking both villages and the Atlantic. It is a perfect day. Bright with scattered cloud. A cool north-westerly is cold enough to notice but not enough to matter. In the south the coast of Northern Ireland is softly visible. To the west stands the lighthouse on the isle of Orsay. Breakers are softly crumping over Frenchman’s Rocks in the north-west. On the other side of the village a dog barks at the seals in the bay. Seagulls wheel overhead mainly silent, a sparrow chirrups nearby followed by the alarm chatter of a pipit. A skein of geese honk their way across the sky. 

On the other side of the village subcontractors continue buzzing and humming as they renew water pipes. No two-minute silence for them. Even on a Sunday - and particularly this Sunday - mammon must thrive.

At the foot of the memorial lie two wreaths already in place. One from the council and one from the WI. A shortage of vicars on the island has meant the ceremony began and ended well before 11-00 a.m. This enabled the vicar to get to another ceremony in a neighbouring village. 

On one side of the memorial are a list of 13 names from the First World War and on the other side are an additional 11 names from the Second. These are relatively high numbers from an outlying rural area. Several met their deaths at sea as sailors in the Merchant Navy or Royal Navy. They lie in the depths of the Atlantic. The same ocean that today looks so benign.  

Meanwhile down in Whitehall the ‘official’ ceremony takes place. In an article in today’s Telegraph, Baroness Warsi made the not unreasonable plea for the memory of many colonial troops who died in strange lands for causes a long way from their own not to be forgotten. To cite one example, "from the 3 to 23 November 1914, the two division India Corps suffered an average loss of 90 men per day. In the space of a ten-minute bombardment on 7 November, 9th Bhopals sustained 55 casualties with another 15 men hit a little later." Gordon Corrigan 'Sepoys in the Trenches' as quoted in 'Forgotten Victory' by Gary Sheffield. The photo is from the Menin Gate in Ypres which commemorates over 50,000 soldiers who were killed in the area and who have no known grave. 

Responses online were hostile. As usual with these sites there is a sour undercurrent of racism which is increasing and nasty but is particularly unpalatable on Remembrance Sunday. What did all these men and women die for? Another strand made more sense. Many pointed out the £12,000 in expenses that Warsi had somehow claimed wrongly thereby removed her of any right to comment. Some went further declaring that the presence of self-serving, venal politicians at the Whitehall ceremony was an insult to the dead.

They have a point. The days when the Cabinet was full of men, and some women, who had served in the Second World War are long gone. Prime Ministers Eden and MacMillan experienced at first hand the horrors of the First World War. Chancellor Dennis Healey won the Military Medal in combat at the D Day landings. When the Americans came calling for support for their Vietnam folly it was these and similar people who told them where to go. 

How times have changed. The likes of Blair and Cameron can commit other people’s sons and daughters to danger and put them in harms way without having a clue what warfare is really like. 

As Cameron placed his wreath was he thinking of the dead? Or was he thinking of the arms deal he had just concluded in the Middle-East?

Saturday, 10 November 2012

The NHS sell-off gathers speed.

The NHS sell-off gathers speed.

Warning: voting Tory can seriously damage (y)our health

The Tories understand greed better than most. All the time the so-called 'reforms' of the NHS were weaving their slimy way through both Houses of Parliament we were frequently assured that there was to be no sell off of the NHS. What lies. What bullshit. They knew full well what would happen. Give a greedy bastard half an inch and he wants a yard. And so it has come to pass. 

Five family doctors have this week become millionaires from the sale of their NHS-funded firm to one of the country's biggest private healthcare companies in a deal that reveals how physicians can potentially profit from government policy in the new NHS.
On Tuesday, the private health company Care UK announced that it had paid £48m for England's biggest out-of-hours GP service, Harmoni, originally set up as a GP co-operative, creating a new private health concern that could treat 15 million patients. The deal shows how GPs could profit from the coalition's health reforms by using their expertise to bid for contracts, then cashing in when a corporation buys them out.” Guardian 10/11/12

So five greedy bastards masquerading as GPs sell off ‘their’ co-operative to a private healthcare company. How can this be ‘theirs’ to sell? The NHS is ours. Paid for and run by our taxes. Not any more it seems. 

Another winner seems to be NHS reform champion Ian Goodman. The north-west London GP chairs the Hillingdon clinical commissioning group and was also a board director of Harmoni. He could make as much as £2.6m.Ibid
Fancy that! And him a ‘reform champion’ too!

Thank you Lansley- you lying devious slimy bastard.

Thank you Cameron - you deeply devious, duplicitous and venal bastard.

Thank you all the Tory party who knew full well that if they spelt out their plans before the election they would not be elected into government. 

And thank you all you sublimely stupid Liberal Democlots for being so gullible .....or are you on the gravy train too?

And thank you NewLabour for breaking the firewall around the NHS and introducing privatisation, albeit in a small way. You opened the gates and let the barbarians in. 

A special thank you Patricia Hewitt as you went off to work for Boots and other healthcare companies. You stand exposed as another greedy self-serving betrayer of your younger values. 

Enjoy the view in the mirror as the vulnerable who you once championed are left to suffer.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

US Election - take 2.

US Election - take 2.

In 2008 we were told the US voted in ‘huge numbers’ to elect Obama. The numbers were 131 million voted or 57% of those registered to vote. Hardly a torrent then.

And in 2012? The numbers are still very raw. Apparently turnout is determined by each state and can take several days to collate. What we do know is that the overall figure of 117 million is some way down on 2008. New Jersey and New York figures are understandably down. Not by 14 million though!

This is despite $6 billion being spent on campaigning. Over 1 million adverts. Predominantly negative ‘attack’ adverts which denigrate the opponent with a mixture of smear, innuendo and half-truths bordering on downright lies. Costly and counter-productive, off-putting and dispiriting, they are a disgraceful element of US politics. Yet both major parties are locked into a death spiral where neither can stand back and call a halt to the madness.  

The overwhelming feeling from Mr and Mrs Public is one of relief that they do not have to suffer these intrusions for another three years.

The sums involved are obscene and also reflect the way huge corporations and businesses try to buy influence. Again rotten. Michelle Bachman, the Tea Party fruitbat favourite of the right outspent her democrat opponent by 12-1 yet scraped in by 4600 votes. 

Not quite the ‘City on the Hill’ so beloved by proud Americans. The days of ‘Mr Smith Goes to Washington’ are long gone.

Monday, 5 November 2012

US Election

US Election

Earlier this year I met a woman who was a producer for a small news-based tv company in the States. She said she was dreading the election. Her reason was the amount and viciousness of the attack ads that are aired in the run up to polling day. Vast amounts of money are spent by both sides to denigrate their rival. Smears, half-truths and downright lies are peddled at the electorate. They interrupt every newscast and tv programme with increasing momentum. It is nasty and barmy. 

Obama has had to deal with more than most incumbents just because he is a black president. The race card has not been played overtly but it has been used by the Tea Party wing plus other right wing organisations to paint him as not being American. They have made great play about his ‘otherness’ without ever demeaning themselves by saying it is because of his skin colour. 

Listening to vox pops from the US run on our media is deeply frustrating. Listening to some half-baked fruitcake declare themselves for Romney because they ‘are catholic and they listen to what their priest says in the pulpit’ is enough to make you weep. Have they not been around on this planet while the catholic church were engaged in kiddy-fiddling? Where were they when that huge cover-up was exposed? 

To add to the angst, Romney is a Mormon, which on the mumbo-jumbo scale is way up there. 

There are many things to be disappointed and even angry about Obama (Drones, Guantanamo, Israel) but (and it is a massive BUT) Romney would be so much worse. One of Romney’s supporters said that he was impressed when he was with him in Israel and the Israelis were embarrassed about the huge wall they are building to keep the Palestinians apart. It is a horrible construction and fundamentally inhuman. The Israelis were right to be ashamed. Romney thought it was good.

Despite all the money, all the airtime and all the vituperation, barely 50% will actually vote. Listening to the attack dogs of both sides it feels like a country tearing itself apart. Bearing in mind many of them are armed to the teeth - that is a worry.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Liberal Democlots

Liberal Democlots

A wonderful expression that fell from the lips of a friend as he tried to express his feelings about our current government. Listening to the Liberal Democlats wriggling and squirming as they try to justify why they are really close to the tories in government but remain different confirms the assessment. Take a look at the shenanigans in just two everyday days in the life of our leaders.

We begin with Cameron getting a kicking from his own backbenchers with the gleeful help of the Labour Party. He then ran into the wet flannel that is his Deputy PM who accused him of wrapping false promises in the union jack. We are told by the Democlots that they get on very well together.....Hmmm.

Meanwhile further along the benches we have Liberal Democlot Ed Davey slapping down his deputy, the tory John Hayes, who said, “We have enough wind farms”. “Oh no we haven’t,” says Ed, “Oh yes we have” says John and so on and on. 

Defence Minister Hammond took it on himself to suddenly announce a boost for Trident - which was news to his democlot colleagues.

To put the tin lid on matters in the age of austerity came the news that Hague at the Foreign Office had spent £10,000 re-stuffing an anaconda. Surely a euphemism if ever there was one.

It is not just that they are mainly toffs from public schools, nor is it that they are nearly all (incredibly) millionaires or that they are hopelessly out of touch with the bod in the street.....

No they are quite simply clueless and incompetent.

While they are farting about squabbling on the periphery, lurching from cock-up to crisis and back again, they have done nothing to address the financial sector or tax evasion.