Sunday, December 31, 2006
In an interview with Sir Robin Day after he was exposed he was was asked why he used call girls. He said: "I think that people sometimes like variety. I think it's as simple as that and I think that impulse is probably understood by almost everybody. Don't you?"
After his resignation Lambton moved to Italy where he has lived ever since. He was married to Belinda Blew Jones, who died three years ago. They are survived by five children.
Earlier this year I toyed with the idea of writing a book about David Cameron. In the end I decided to do other things, but in 2007 there will be three books published about the Tory leader. Already there's a little battle developing between the authors of two of them to see who can hit the bookshelves first. Francis Elliott and James Hanning of the Independent on Sunday will probably write the better book, with some interesting new perspectives, but according to their publishers CAMERON: THE RISE OF THE NEW CONSERVATIVE won't appear until the beginning of April, a month after Bruce Anderson's DAVID CAMERON. However, Anderson's book was supposed to have appeared in October so I wouldn't bet my house on it appearing in March. Jo-Anne Nadler is also writing a follow up to TOO NICE TO BE A TORY called THE REGENERATION GAME: CAN DAVID CAMERON REVIVE THE CONSERVATIVE PARTY? but it won't be out until July.
UPDATE: As Dizzy points out in the Comments what I really mean is that more than 1,000 people have come to this blog via those listed here. Clear? Thought not.
2. John McDonnell gets 44 nominations to enable him to run against Gordon Brown
3. The SNP win the Sedgefield By Election
4. Arise Sir John Yates
5. Cherie Blair turns down free holiday to Mustique courtesy of Richard Branson
6. George Pascoe-Watson or Kevin Maguire write a story slagging off Gordon Brown
7. In Shadow Cabinet reshuffle Lord Lawson is appointed Shadow Environment Minister
8. Yasmin Alibhai-Brown concedes that the British Empire might not have been all bad
9. Saddam Hussein spotted at lunch with Elvis and Princess Diana in Little Chef on the A1
10. Bruce Anderson writes column criticising David Cameron
Feel free to add more. You know you want to...
2. Sir Ming Campbell will not be leader of the LibDems by the end of the year
3. Ed Vaizey, Jeremy Hunt and Nick Herbert will be promoted to the Shadow Cabinet
4. The Conservative Party 'A' List will be junked, having served its purpose
5. The SNP become the largest Party in Scotland after the May elections but cannot form a coalition
6. A Labour MP and a LibDem MP defect to the Conservatives
7. John Hutton challenges Gordon Brown for the Labour leadership after John Reid wimps out
8. In one of his first acts as PM Brown announces timetable for troop withdrawal from Iraq
9. Depending on the opinion poll bounce from that decision and his honeymoon period, Brown will consider calling a General Election within six months of becoming Prime Minister
10. West Ham will not get relegated
Other bloggers with 2007 predictions include Guido, Dizzy, Jeremy Jacobs.
Yes, he has personal weaknesses and some decidedly liberal views on social issues which will be anathema to Christian fundamentalists, but hopefully even they will be able to see the wider picture.
But there is a view among Republican commentators that is worrying me. Friends of mine in Washington seem unanimous in their view that Giuliani won't get very far because he won't be able to raise the necessary cash to fund his campaign. The big bucks are already going to John McCain, which bearing in mind his own liberal views on social issues, is odd. Surely if McCain can attract the money, Giuliani ought to be able to as well? What am I missing?
These statistics reflect my own position. 2006 has been a good year for me (after 2005, it could hardly have been worse!) but I do think it has been a bad year for the country. If I were a Labour strategist I'd be deeply concerned by this poll, as it seems to reflect the findings of Philip Gould's leaked memo last week. Traditionally people turn against a government because of economic circumstances which affect them badly. If the findings of this poll are anything to go by it is social issues which may be the trigger in 2007. Anti social behaviour and the level of immigration now outrank financial considerations as the issues which concern people most on a day to day basis. Only 24% have an optimistic outlook about Britain's prospects for 2007. 58% are pessimistic.
Still, that eternal optimist Gordon Brown will know how to shake us out of our gloom, won't he?!
We also had a debate about whether it was right for him to be given the death penalty. Kate naturally thought it was barbaric. My view is that it frankly hasn't got anything to do with us. He was sentenced to death under the Iraqi legal system without, so far as anyone can tell, outside interference. My only slight discomfort at the fact that he has been hanged came when I was listening to a Radio 5 Live discussion. They had a Kurdish lady on, who said that she and her people felt cheated. While he had been hanged for his role in killing 182 people following a failed assassination attempt, he had not yet been put on trial for his role in killing hundreds of thousands of Kurds. Now he never would be. I must admit that she has a very good point. The end result would have been the same, but the Kurdish people would have felt that their own case had been heard properly. Now, it may never be.
COMING LATER: My predictions for 2007.
Saturday, December 30, 2006
Not only is Ivan Lewis a junior minister at the Department of Health, he is listed on the Department of Health Website as being responsible for 'maternity services'. So the very policy he himself has drafted and is implementing is the one which he is protesting against in his own constituency. You really couldn't make this up, could you? Joined up government? Don't make me laugh.
According to the newspapers this morning, seven Labour Ministers have protested publicly about government policy affecting their own constituency. In days gone by they would have found it proper and necessary to resign. And we wonder why voters think politicians are hypocrites. Ivan Lewis is a prime example.
Friday, December 29, 2006
"Peers of the realm face a shaky future which, as reform of the House of Lords plods on, will get shakier still" - Tory peer Lord Deedes.
"Why bother voting? What is the point of placing your cross next to the name of this or that candidate when four out of every five laws adopted by Britain are proposed, not just by people that you didn't vote for, but by EU officials whom nobody voted for?" - Tory MEP Daniel Hannan.
"People ask me what I will be remembered for. I will be remembered for my trees. My arboretum will be my legacy" - Lord Heseltine, former Tory deputy Prime Minister.
"If telly vice in your room not perform, do not investigate with screw pusher, you may get shocking electrics. Instead attack hotel electric man" - Warning notice in Tokyo hotel.
Paul Linford disagrees. He writes: I have always regarded Hazel Blears as a just another shameless New Labour careerist, but perhaps there is more to her after all. She has certainly gone up in my estimation this week, and more importantly, I suspect she will also have gone up in the estimation of thousands of Labour members with votes in the party's deputy leadership election.
And there we have it. Could this be the real reason for Ms Blears putting her nose above the parapet? Well, if so, she need only look at THIS thread on LabourHome to see the reaction of some Labour members. They are not impressed. Not impressed at all.
I suspect that Ms Blears is rather more worried about her political future closer to home than the Deputy leadership. She's taken a calculated gamble, and the gamble is that local Labour Party members will view her move positively and help her be selected for her much redrawn seat. Hmmm. Not so sure.
In 1945 Britain borrowed $4.34bn from the US consisting of a
$3.75bn line of credit and a "lend-lease" loan facility of $586m. The following
year the government agreed a $1.185bn line of credit loan from Canada. The money
was primarily designed to assist in the post-war reconstruction of Britain's
exhausted economy and shattered infrastructure. But the lend-lease loan related
to wartime supplies already in transit from the US under President Franklin D
Roosevelt's programme of the same name which began in 1941 and which ended
abruptly shortly after VJ Day in 1945. Roosevelt famously said the scheme was
like lending a neighbour a hosepipe to put out a fire. It marked a significant
step away from America's post-first world war isolationism.
The final payments today to the United States and Canada, are $83.25m and $22.7m respectively. Part of me thinks these loans should have been reassigned to Germany as soon as the Witschaftswunder was underway...
YouGov and ICM have consistently shown the Tories at 36-41%, while Populus show smaller leads and MORI have been inconsistent. The trend in all polls show the LibDems declining in support, although I don't believe the 14% figure for a moment. As we look forward to 2007 it seems to be that the true level of Tory support is around 37-38%, Labour are on 32-33% and the LibDems are on 18-19%.
It seems to me that by the middle of the year the Tories should be polling 38-42% to be confident that they are on course. If that is to happen I expect LibDem support to decline a per centage point or two. I do not expect Labour to go down much more than 31-32%.
Of course the big question is this: what will happen when Gordon Brown takes over? My instinct is that he may well get a honeymoon bounce of a few per centage points, but this may well come at the expense of the LibDems. At the moment the LibDems have managed to end a difficult year in better fettle than they could reasonably have expected. But this is largely because they have replaced their exiting Tory supporters with disaffected Labour voters. Picture a turnstile with Labour voters entering the LibDem turnstile and Tories exiting. That steady flow of disaffected Labour supporters may well dry up once Brown becomes Labour leader.
If I'm right we could expect to see a gradual return to two party politics. Or not. The fact is that it can never quite happen like that as long as the fringe parties continue to grow in support. In the 1970s and 1980s voters mainly had a choice of two parties, or possibly the Liberals. Now there are UKIP, the Greens, the BNP, the nationalist parties in Wales and Scotland to whom devolution has given an unexpected boost.
And that explains why it will be difficult for any Party to ever poll more than the low forties. This means that one of the key Tory strategies over the two years before the election must be to convince people of this self evident fact:
Expect to hear a lot of that in the run-up to the election.
Richard Porter stood in Camberwell and Peckham in 2005 and wrote the Liberal Democrat manifesto for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community in the 2005 general election. Richard said: “Ming Campbell is a ‘has-been’ and since he has been in control of the party, they have been stuck firmly in reverse gear. After the election, I took time out to reflect on my own personal beliefs and values. Previously I thought that these values were best represented by the Liberal Democrats but I now believe that the principles of freedom from state interference, personal freedom, the environment and civil liberties are all areas where the Conservative Party leads the way.
John Barstow, a shop steward for USDAW and Liberal Democrat PPC in Tonbridge and Malling in 2005 said: "I have joined the Conservative Party because I sincerely believe David Cameron is the right person to be Prime Minister. And that I am a natural Conservative in the great One Nation tradition, proudly conserving what is best and well tried and taking decisive action to eradicate black spots of despair and unemployment within the United Kingdom. The Liberal Democrats are bland, formulaic and out of touch with real life."
Dr Tariq Mahmood, a physician, consultant gastroenterologist and honorary senior lecturer at the University of London, stood in Uxbridge as the Liberal Democrat candidate in 2005. He also works as a TV presenter on the ARY Digital channel. Tariq said: “Under the leadership of David Cameron I have seen that the Party is moving forward. There is now a real possibility for the Conservative Party.
During the course of 2006 three former Liberal Democrat Parliamentary candidates have joined the Conservatives. Today’s recruits make seven in all, joining Adrian Childs, former Liberal Democrat candidate for West Suffolk, Jeff Clarke, former Liberal Democrat candidate for West Wirral, Rene Kinsett, former Liberal Democrat candidate for Swansea West and Tim Perkins, Salford Councillor and former LibDem Candidate for Bolton West.
UPDATE: It's 7.50pm and not a single LibDem blog has commented on this story yet. Strange, eh? Can you imagine the crowing there would be if it had been three Tory candidates going the other way?!
Another Conservative hero is Al Gore "for his film An Inconvenient Truth, which brought home the threat of climate change to millions of people". He is joined on the list by Sir Nicholas Stern "for authoritatively placing an economic cost on the threat of climate change and for asserting the need for action in the clearest terms". Arnold Schwarzenegger is a hero "for making California the first US State to put greenhouse gas reductions into State law". And just for good measure they thrown in Labour MP Colin Challen "for his energetic work as Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Climate Change Group". That should do him a lot of good in his reselection battle with Ed Balls...
Anti heroes in the list include Exxon "for continuing to fund 'think tanks' which deny that human activity is contributing to climate change", Ryan Air's Michael O'Leary, the Competitive Enterprise Institute "for responding to Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" with an ad campaign with the strap-line " Carbon Dioxide: they call it pollution. We call it Life"". They are joined by Transport Secretary Douglas Alexander "for an aviation policy that is totally inconsistent with the Government’s supposed attempts to tackle climate change".
This, of course, begs the question: how would a Conservative Aviation policy be different? The implication is that aircraft will be taxed out of the skies as cheap fares are consigned to the dustbin of history. I hope when the Quality of Life policy commission reports later in 2007 that it will look at green incentives rather than a whole plethora of green taxes, as Dizzy suggests HERE and HERE...
"There is no incentive present when you use tax to punish people into changing their ways. Genuine incentives do not use negativity (in this case financial pain) as a means to an end. Attempting to draw a distinction between increased tax and incentives is like arguing in favour of torture because it provides an incentive to talk. Incentives are positive benefits that are acheived from a neutral status-quo position. You do not move the goalposts then ask for money as an incentive to move them back, there is only one name for that, and it's blackmail. To argue as Miliband does is at best disingenuous, and at worst intellectually fatuous."
Shadow Environment Secretary Peter Ainsworth comments on the list:
“2006 was the year when the environment took its rightful place at the centre of British
politics. It became a fact not worth disputing that climate change is an enormous issue requiring urgent action if we are to prevent an ecological, economic and social catastrophe, and if the UK is to reap the potential rewards of green growth. This list is by no means comprehensive, but takes a look at some of those who have been a part of the solution in 2006, and some who are still part of the problem – in the hope that they will do better next
Let me make it clear. Al Gore is no hero of mine. Never was. Never will be. Arnie, on the other hand...
Thursday, December 28, 2006
Despite public concerns about Hizb ut-Tahrir's perceived extremism, Home
Office lawyers, the Foreign Office and representatives of the Association of
Chief Police Officers have quietly lobbied against outlawing the group and have,
for now, won the argument."If there was evidence for proscribing Hizb ut-Tahrir,
we would support a move to proscribe it," said Rob Beckley, Acpo lead for
communities and counter-terrorism. "But we think such a move would be
counter-productive and not in the spirit of the government's [anti-terrorism]
legislation. It is not an offence to hold extreme views."
No, indeed not. But why then did Tony Blair promise to ban them in the first place? Another case of talking tough and acting weak? Surely not.
"Not suitable for children aged 36 months or less" - Advice notice on a birthday card for a one-year-old.
"It is time someone had the guts to say No to Nintendo. It is time to Garotte the Game Boy and Paralyse the PlayStation, and it is about time we admitted the catastrophic effect these blasted gizmos are having on the literacy and the prospects of young males" - Tory MP Boris Johnson.
"Truth is the glue that holds governments together. Compromise is the oil that makes governments go" - The late US President Gerald Ford had a message for today's politicians.
"No matter how funky, sexy and innovative a musician James Brown may have been, he was undoubtedly as mad as a bag of snakes" - Writer Will Self on the soul singer who died over Christmas.
I now understand that the airlines were expecting the whole media to be up in arms about it too and that they would get huge numbers of complaints from the public, but so far there has been a whimper. I'm told they are looking for an excuse not to levy the charge and would positively welcome lots of complaints to give them the pretext. So unless there's a media backlash in the next few days it will be too late, as I am sure the Treasury are already drafting the legislation which they will push through as soon as the Commons returns in the New Year. Interestingly, there are also rumours that it may be possible for any passenger who has already been charged with this levy to reclaim it. If this is so the government's only way of closing this loophole would be to intriduce retrospective legislation, something which always causes a huge parliamentary rumpus.
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Constituents of Luton Labour MP Margaret Moran will no doubt have been delighted to receive Christmas cards from her, albeit they all had a 2006 calendar on the back of them, which had been struck through with a felt pen. I wonder who paid for these cards - Margaret Moran or you, the poor bloody taxpayer. Whoever it was should be demanding their money back.
UPDATE: A correspondent writes: From www.theyworkforyou.com in 2004-5 Margaret Moran had the 2nd highest expenses of any MP (£168,567)(despite having a constituency local to London and therefore low travel). Her postal expenses that year were £35,347, the 4th highest of all MPs".
Wonder why that could be then.
Monday, December 25, 2006
Christmas Day, though, has to be the exception. Perfection will be the order of the day. I will smile on Christmas Day — for the boys. I will not let them see my tears. I will sing and dance, pull crackers and tear wrapping paper. And I will do it well. They will never know how hard it will have been, and why should they? Christmas is for children and these two fatherless four-year-olds deserve to have a good one. At the end of the day, though, there will be nobody to congratulate me on what I’ll have done. Nick won’t be there with a hug and an indulgent smile of congratulation. So I shall go to bed, our bed, on my own, and bury my face in the jumper he wore when he died and sob. And sob. But I’ll try to remember that there are tens of thousands of others who will also be facing their first Christmas without their loved one, and who will be feeling the same. I share with them the words of comfort I heard from my bereavement counsellor: you really will feel stronger by the time you get to Christmas next year.
Those of us who have reached our forties without ever experiencing the pain of losing a partner, parent or sibling cannot begin to understand what Barbara is going through today. Her kids are so very lucky to have such a mother.
Sunday, December 24, 2006
Anyway, this will probably be the last blog post until Wednesday. Even I am not sad enough to blog much on Christmas Day, and Boxing Day will be spent largely at West Ham and visiting friends in East Sussex.
A very merry Christmas to everyone who has been a loyal reader of this blog during 2006. It's been quite a year, hasn't it?
Dominic Grieve (Con)
Shadow Attorney General, a more honest and fastidious MP you could not hope to come across. He was an absolute pleasure to work with when I was working for David Davis.
Nick Clegg (LibDem)
Maybe disproving the theory that nice guys never make it to the top. Great sense of humour
Martin Horwood (LibDem)
First met him when he worked for the Alzheimers Society - quiet, a bit studious and gives me the impression of can't quite believing his luck that he has made it to the green benches. Not a bad attitdue to have.
Andrew MacKinlay (Lab)
A genuine Parliamentarian. I have known him for 15 years and have a huge respect for him.
James Brokenshire (Con)
Newly elected MP for Hornchurch, a real family man who is liked by all that come into contact with him. Deservedly promoted in front bench reshuffle.
Angus MacNeil (SNP)
Wicked sense of humour and fun to be with. His work on Cash for Peerages has upped his profile but he remains loyal to his crofting roots.
Greg Clark (Con)
My local MP in Tunbridge Wells, until his Toynbee remarks didn't have an enemy in the world! Genuinely caring and deserves to reach the top.
David Lidington (Con)
Seems to smile permanently and has an infectious laugh. Has done a great job as Northern Ireland spokesman.
Angela Smith (Lab)
I knew her a bit when I ran Politico's and she was first elected for Basildon in 1997. Great sense of humour and fun to be with.
Hilary Benn (Lab)
If Labour had any sense, he'd be their next leader rather than the Dour One. The perfect antidote to New Labour spin, he's a genuinely nice guy.
Naturally I'm sure you will want to leave your own nominations in the Comments...
UPDATE: And for those of you devoid of the Christmas spirit, vote in the Wonko's World T**t of the Year poll HERE.
Saturday, December 23, 2006
6.40 Celebrity Family Fortunes
7.30 Downfall of a Celebrity: Gareth Gates
8.30 Celebrity Who Wants to be a Millionaire
9.30 Celebrity Stars in Their Eyes
10.30 Michael Parkinson talking to, er, celebrities
Whoever ITV's scheduler is, they should be fired. Is it any surprise they are in trouble if this is the best they can come up with on the night before Christmas Eve?
Person 1: I hear you like it rough?
Person 2: What?"!
Person 1: I said that was a great speech by Peter Luff.
Person 2: What? How dare you???
Person 1: What.... I just said that I would love to work for Crispin Blunt.
Having said all that, the fact that Penny Cobham chooses to live with that old relic David Mellor indicates that she might have an edge over Marland, I suppose. She's obvious a lover of ugly ancient monuments which are decaying round the edges. Saucer of milk, anyone?
The government operates a system of alerts on terrorist threats and it has been set at SEVERE since July 2005. I am beginning to question why this is. It is appalling to accuse the government of trying to scare the population into accepting yet more draconian anti-terror legislation, but that's what appears to be happening. We mustn't let them succeed.
And yet we are being told that our economy is performing brilliantly, that everything in the garden is rosy. If that were so, taxes would be coming down, not going up.
This is a major opportunity for the Conservatives to exploit in 2007. Let's hope they grab it.
Friday, December 22, 2006
0.00 One to One with Iain Duncan Smith
0.30 One to One with Gillian Shephard
01.30 Up Front: Europe & Business with Tim Montgomerie
02.00 Your Money: Green Tax & Public Sector Rich List
02.25 Vox Politix: Douglas Carswell MP & David Torrance
03.25 One to One with Don Brash
03.55 Conservatism in America
04.50 Culture Clash: Borat, The Archers & TV Talent Shows
05.20 Vox Politix with Ann Widdecombe
06.20 Vox Politix: The A List debate with Ann Widdecombe v Bernard Jenkin
06.50 David Cameron: Year 2 - A discussion
07.45 Vox Politix with Chris Mullin MP
08.45 Vox Politix with Francis Maude MP
09.45 One to One with Australian Prime Minister John Howard
10.45 One to One with Professor Peter Hennessy
11.45 One to One with Stephen Twigg
12.45 Vox Politix Scottish Evening with David Mundell MP and Jo Swinson MP
13.50 One to One with SNP MP Angus MacNeil
14.20 Leftfield with Rena Valeh
14.50 Vox Politix with UKIP leader Nigel Farage
15.50 One to One with Ian Bremmer, author of the J Curve
16.21 Vox Politix, including an interview with David Davis
18.25 One to One with Lord Pearson of Rannoch
18.55 One to One with Professor Peter Hennessy
19.55 One to One with Nigel Cameron
20.25 World View: Russia, Friend or Foe
20.50 Brought to Book with Michael Dobbs
21.20 Up Front
21.50 Brought to Book with Michael Ashcroft
22.15 Vox Politix with Andrew MacKinlay MP and John Redwood MP
23.20 World View: Iran - Sleepwalking to disaster?
1. Go to Cardiff to the FA Cup Final and witness one of the greatest football matches of all time
2. Meet Cliff Richard
3. Resume blogging and make many new friends through it
4. Lose two stone in weight
5. Rediscover the delights of playing golf
6. Celebrate eleven years with my partner
7. 18 Doughty Street
Now I shall tag Rob McGibbon, Bryan Appleyard, Trevor Ivory, Ellee Seymour, West Brom, Dizzy, Antony Little.
The problem has arisen because the duty increase was announced in the Pre Budget Report and not the Budget but is intended to come into effect before the 2007 Budget. It is not unusual for changes in rates and allowances to be announced at the time of the Pre Budget Report. What is different this year is that the changes are intended to come into effect before the next Budget, and therein lies a problem. There is a general principle established in the Bill of Rights of 1689 that the government cannot raise taxes without enacting legislation. This would give the government a problem every year when they raise the rate of duty on alcohol, cigarettes and petrol with effect from the Budget Day, because they would not be able collect the higher rate of duty until the Finance Act had been passed many months later. To get around this problem there is an Act of Parliament called the Provisional Collection of Taxes Act which allows the government to collect taxes provisionally on the assumption that the announced changes will be enacted, provided that the House of Commons passes a specific resolution in favour of the changes. The resolution is made immediately after the Budget Speech, and that is the resolution that is voted at the end of the subsequent debate. For example after the 2006 Budget, the resolutions looked like THIS.
The trouble for Mr Brown is that there was no such resolution after this month’s Pre Budget Report. Now that Parliament has risen, there is no opportunity to pass such a resolution until January. To be fair to the Chancellor, there isn’t normally any need for a resolution, because changes announced at the time of the Pre Budget Report do not usually need to come into effect until after the Budget.
Without the passing of the resolution, there is no legal obligation on the airlines to collect the higher rate of duty, and it is hard to see how the airlines could force their customers to pay the higher rate before the airlines themselves are required to collect it. One might imagine that the Chancellor would have understood the parliamentary procedures, particularly because he has been the proposer of all the Budget resolutions since May 1997, but apparently not, because on 13 December he told the Treasury Select Committee that he thought he already had the powers to collect the increased duty:
Col 315 - 482
Q344 Chairman: I will write to you then, Chancellor, because I think there is a case here for them. Do you expect airlines then to pay that before it is authorised by the House of Commons and, if so, do you have the legal sanction to do that?
Mr Brown: I believe we do.”
Oh dear, the Dour One seems to have got it wrong, doesn't he? Very unlike him to pay no attention to detail. I wonder if the likes of Ryan Air will now see this as payback time...
UPDATE: I particualrly like this comment from one of my readers... "If people really cared, they would send in tax payments for all their past flights."
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
1 Would you like to see the contents of my despatch box?
2 Have you ever had a whip?
3 Hello, I’m David Mellor
4 I’ve asked Angie to join us, you don’t mind do you?
5 I’ve asked Bobby to join us, you don’t mind do you?
6 I’m so depressed about the world crisis I really don’t think I should spend tonight alone
7 In your honour I’m naming 2007 the International Year of the Babe
8 Hello, I'm Lembit Opik
9 Ever done it in the lobby?
10 You know what they say about Black Rod?
Coming soon to this blog: Top Ten Labour, LibDem and Tory chat up lines. Feel free to offer suggestions in the Comments... I may live to regret this...
UPDATE: Dave's Part blog had the Top Ten Trotskist Chat Up Lines HERE. The final four are...
4. That secondhand donkey jacket of yours would look great on my bedroom floor.
3. What's a nice girl like you doing in a lousy union fraction like this?
2. Do you sell papers here often?
1. So, babe ... just how degenerate would your ideal workers' state be?
"In England I detect there is a strong feeling that the consequences of devolution for England must now be addressed. I think it is important for those of us who campaigned for devolution in Scotland and Wales to support that. There should be a proper English Parliament, and that could be arranged very easily if the Commons sat on a Tuesday or Wednesday as an English parliament."
Frank Field said: "I think the danger is that the English voters will see that we are against the English, and as they make up the vast majority of voters and return the vast majority of MPs, it's not a position to get into if you're only worried about the politics of it." He said English voters had to see Labour represented their views adding: "There's going to be another big sweeping issue that the electorate in England has got a clear view on, and the Labour Party is opposed to it."
2007 looks like a fun year then...
Recent examples of political correctness gone mad include Shadow Minister for Children, Tim Loughton, being prevented from acting as a Christmas elf because he had not had a criminal records check. At one children's Christmas party in Bristol, non-vetted volunteers had to wear different coloured t-shirts. Many schools and charities now ask for volunteer Santas to be CRB checked. Churches require all adults in mixed-age choirs to be vetted. Bell ringing towers must have two CRB checked 'designated people'. (Did you know I used to be a camponologist?!).
The report argues that this suspicious climate is killing the spirit of Christmas - and doing little to protect children. Some schools have banned parents taking photos at nativity plays - but officials could not cite a single case of a paedophile found with nativity photos. Expert on child sex offenders, Ray Wyre, argues: 'We cannot allow our society to descend to the lowest common denominator, where we think of everything in terms of how a child molester might see it.'
You can download the Christmas report HERE.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Hat-tip Beau Bo D'Or
Martin Bright is the political editor of the New Statesman and has been one of the journalists who has been pushing the barriers of the Cash for Peerages issue. On his BLOG he has just posted this...
I was very interested to read in the The Telegraph that the bio-tech entrepreneur Sir Christopher Evans was alleged to have been offered "a K or a Big P" by Lord Levy. This is not the first time I have heard about this very idiosyncratic use of code by Lord Levy to describe knighthoods and peerages. A prominent Labour peer with impeccable media contacts once told me that he had heard that Levy used the letter "K" to mean a knighthood. I have also spoken to one of his tennis partners who told me that he once heard Levy tell a potential Labour donor that a substantial gift "had to be worth a K" (although, of course, that doesn't mean Levy was offering him one!). Unfortunately, when ths individual was interviewed for the Channel 4 documentary I presented on the subject he had a momentary memory lapse. Levy provokes fierce loyalty in his friends, who tell me he is incapable of doing anything illegal. I do hope they are right.
I am sure Mr Bright will be passing on the details to Inspector Knacker.
Last week Denis MacShane gave a speech saying that the conduct of politicians was turning the electorate off politicians. So anxious was he to prove the point that he indulged in this childish display of petulence int he Commons yesterday. Mr Speaker wasn't willing to play ball.
Mr. Denis MacShane (Rotherham) (Lab): Next year, Britain will celebrate two great acts of union—that with Scotland and that within the European Union. May I invite my right hon. Friend to take off her sober Foreign Secretary garb and, now and then, return to Margaret the great campaigner and campaign against some of the rancid rabble on the Opposition Benches who reject both the EU and the Act of Union with Scotland?
Mr. Speaker: Order. The hon. Gentleman makes a habit of this. He did it the last time that I called him. I did him a favour this time and called him thinking that he had learned the lesson. He is running the risk of not being called.
Mr. Douglas Hogg (Sleaford and North Hykeham) (Con): May I ask the Foreign Secretary whether in the margins of the Council— [Interruption.]
Mr. Speaker: Order. I heard the remark made by the right hon. Member for Rotherham (Mr. MacShane). He has been long enough in the House. Of course, he can raise political matters, but he is questioning a Minister on her responsibility. If he cannot learn that, I will not be long in teaching him.
I half expected a ruler to be whipped out...
LibDem MP of the Year
Sunday Political Journalist
Political Broadcast Journalist
My view is that all of us elected to the Westminster Parliament for English constituencies should perform a dual role. We should work with colleagues from Scotland and Wales and Northern Ireland on Union matters for part of the week, and for the rest of the week, the Westminster Parliament itself should be the English Parliament, where we, English representatives, settle all the matters that are devolved Scotland ourselves at Westminster, without the help or interference of our colleagues from Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. The English Parliament at Westminster would therefore create a much more fair and balanced United Kingdom.
Quite right. Now all we have to do is convince the rest of the Tory Party...
Monday, December 18, 2006
Mr Blair's evidence has baffled the donors, who believe they were nominated for the contribution they made to British society, not to the party. The curry magnate Sir Gulam Noon, who lent £250,000 to Labour, told the IoS he had been nominated for a peerage "for my charitable work [and] my building of the business".
A spokesman for the other businessmen at the centre of the cash-for-honours affair, Sir David Garrard and Barry Townsley, said: "My recollection was they were told it was for services to education." Earlier this year, Dr Chai Patel gave a BBC interview in which he outlined the achievements that had led to him being nominated - including founding the Priory Group of clinics. His office refused to comment on his nomination, but a friend said: "When he was nominated he thought it was for public service."
Last night, opposition politicians queried the nature of the "party service" provided by the millionaires, as none has a clear track record of Labour Party activism. It is not clear whether Sir David Garrard is even a Labour Party member, while Sir Gulam Noon has also given cash to the Liberal Democrats.
Downing Street said the "party service" referred to their willingness to serve as working Labour Party peers. A party spokesman said: "I am not going to get into how many leaflets they have delivered."
Dr Chai Patel's official citation lists his contribution to mental health services as well as his advisory positions. The citation for Sir David Garrard notes his £2.4m contribution to the Business Academy in Bexley, and other work. Barry Townsley's citation says he "is involved with numerous charitable organisations and good causes". It concludes: "He would be [sic] active contributor to the Lords speaking on education and business matters." Sir Gulam Noon's citation says "he would be an active member of the Lords bringing wide ranging business experience".
And while we are on the subject, Nick Robinson and others were quick to mention on 'Bur Bad News Thursday' that the PM was in the clear because he hadn't been arrested under caution. May I point out, as several people in the Comments have done so, that the man just arrested in Ipswich had been questioned by the Police four times in the last week without being under caution. That didn't stop him being arrested a few days later. It now seems that Jonathan Powell will be the next one to be questioned under caution.
So, to go back to the original title of this post, here's the question: Did Tony Blair award these peerages for public service or services to the Labour Party?
Following the success of the LITTLE RED BOOK OF NEW LABOUR SLEAZE compiled by 50 UK bloggers in May 2006, a new edition of the book, called the BIG BOOK OF NEW LABOUR SLEAZE will be published this Spring by Harriman House publishers, the new owners of Politicos.co.uk. Guido Fawkes and I will edit the new edition, which will have all the entries from the old edition plus all new material collected since May. Any blogger who wishes to write a new piece for the book should email me as soon as possible as we want to have it ready by the end of January.
This is Jack Dromey (nee Harman). He's the man who started off the Cash for Peerages saga when he blew a gasket after discovering that Lord Levy had been arranging secret loans to the Labour Party behind his back. Dromey is, after all, only Treasurer of the Labour Party. However, he's remained silent since then. Whatever other charges are laid at the end of this, isn't Levy (and whoever else who knew about the loans) guilty of hiding these loans from the officially appointed Treasurer of the Labour Party? This may be raking over old ground, and may not be considered to be as serious as procuring loans for honours, but it shouldn't be forgotten.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
THIS comment on Danny Finkelstein's blog sums it up...
"The rule of law having been dismissed, and the public interest having been equated with the Government's interests (for which Blair takes "full reponsibility"), the Attorney General can now step in to halt the cash for honours enquiry. Not in the public interest, you see. While we're at it, why not arrest DC Yates for conduct prejudicial to national security?"
I'm sitting in the Dr Martens Stand at Upton Park wondering the ghost of Alan Pardew which seems to be pervading Upton Park today. He gave a very gracious interview to Sky earlier in which he said he hoped one day to be able to manage the Hammers again.
Anyway, it' Alan Curbishley's time now. He has hardly changed the team but has dropped Carlos Tevez for Harewood. Mascherano doesn't get a look in again.
Most people don't give us a chance this afternoon against Man U, who are at full strength. Even a point would be a result for us - and a goal would nice!
I expect to be chanting in a few minutes "One Alan Pardew, there's only one Alan Pardew..." followed immediately by "Alan Curbishley's claret and blue army!" Fickle? Moi?
UPDATE: Oh joy, oh happy day. We haven't beaten Manchester United ever in the Premiership. It was a fantastic game today. Not a single player put in a weak performance. If only they had done the same for Alan Pardew. Lee Bowyer was particularly outstanding, as were all four defenders.
"This is not a Downing Street memo, it was not written by any of the Prime Minister's staff and it most certainly does not reflect his views." Downing Street sources also insisted the memo had not been prepared by any of Mr Blair's special advisers or other Labour Party-funded staff in his personal office."
So it's Philip Gould then.
A short while ago I commented on the local Labour Party selection
scrap between sitting MPs Hazel Blears, Barbara Keeley and Ian Stewart. I’ve
just read on a comment on LabourHome that Barbara Keeley has
received the Labour nomination for the new Worsley and
Eccles South seat. This leaves Eccles MP Stewart to
battle it out with Blairite bigwig Blears for the Salford & Eccles
nomination - a contest she has an excellent chance of losing. Is this the end of
the road for another Blairite minister?
I am not sure I will be getting much sleep tonight.
Saturday, December 16, 2006
"LABOUR has no chance of winning the next Election because voters think the Government is a shambles – and there is little Gordon Brown can do to stop David Cameron becoming Prime Minister. That is the devastating verdict of a secret Downing Street memo drawn up for Tony Blair by his senior advisers and obtained by the Mail on Sunday. The confidential document states:
*Labour’s standing is so low that the party’s only hope of recovering may be to abandon Mr Brown and ‘move to a new generation’ by picking a much younger new leader – though it warns of the perils of being ‘disloyal’ to the ‘greatly respected’ Chancellor.
*The public believes the party is riven by ‘internal conflicts’ and shows a ‘lack of grip and competence on key issues’ such as Iraq, the NHS and immigration.
*People who voted Labour at the last Election ‘are moving across’ to the Conservatives and Labour is floundering ‘on every major issue’.
*Mr Blair faces a ‘s*** or bust’ decision on how to stop the rot.
The leak came as a vicious new war of words flared between the rival Blair and Brown camps over where blame for the cash-for-peerages scandal lies. Mr Brown angrily accused Mr Blair’s chief fundraiser Lord Levy of trying to ‘smear’ him over claims the Chancellor did not tell the truth about nominating two of his cronies for peerages. And Mr Blair’s allies responded by claiming the Prime Minister believed Mr Brown had ‘fanned the flames’ of the row over party funding to bring down his Downing Street neighbour. ‘It is outrageous for Brown to play the innocent,’ said one. ‘No one demanded more money than him – and he knew where it was coming from.’
The Mail on Sunday has also learned that Mr Blair has held secret talks with his chief of staff Jonathan Powell, at which they agreed that the Prime Minister’s final six months in office must create a ‘leadership legacy’ which sets him apart from Mr Brown. The Prime Minister has privately mocked Mr Brown’s prospects as Prime Minister, saying: ‘The trouble with many of Gordon’s ideas is that they butter no parsnips.’
The memo, written in the past few weeks, is the most damaging Government leak in years. It was written by one of the Prime Minister’s closest advisers and seen by a handful of senior figures, including Mr Blair. It makes a nonsense of public claims by Labour that Mr Blair is planning a smooth transition to Mr Brown next June or July as part of a carefully co-ordinated strategy to secure a fourth successive Election victory.
It also flatly contradicts Mr Blair’s public statements dismissing Mr Cameron as a lightweight with no chance of winning power. In private, Mr Blair’s inner circle is in a blind panic over the march of Mr Cameron’s Conservatives, and they don’t think Mr Brown is any match for him. The memo freely acknowledges Tory gains in the polls since Mr Cameron replaced Michael Howard, with big leads on tax, crime and immigration.
‘Labour no longer has a measurable lead on any major issue,’ it states. And it confirms Opposition claims that the Government has failed to live up to its promises and that it is haemorrhaging support as a result of the Iraq War. ‘The Government is seen as a shambles. It is not just Labour internal conflicts but a lack of grip and competence on key issues. Iraq is a potent and raw issue, so is the NHS, immigration and crime. We have lost control of the big issues and are not delivering,’ the memo states.
Nor is the trend likely to change. ‘This view is deeply held and entering the bones of the electorate. The public are clearly preparing to shift to the Conservatives if they prove themselves credible and likable. It would be totally wrong to assume this is some kind of mid-term setback. It is not. It is a long-term cyclical shift towards an increasingly acceptable Opposition. People who voted Labour in 2005 are on their way across.’
Mr Blair’s advisers believe Mr Brown’s position as Labour heir apparent is making things worse. ‘Compounding this is an erosion in Gordon Brown’s position against David Cameron,’ the memo says. Extraordinarily, the document reveals that No10 actively contemplated dumping Mr Brown in favour of a younger successor. ‘We can rally round...or we can go for total renewal, moving to a new generation, effectively forming a new government while still in power.’ It does not name the potential alternative successors, but it is no secret that Mr Blair once hoped Environment Secretary David Miliband would mount a challenge against Mr Brown. Similarly, despite being slightly older than Mr Brown, Education Secretary Alan Johnson, a relative Cabinet newcomer, was also seen as a way of providing a ‘break with the past’.
But the memo warns this tactic could backfire: ‘Trying to completely renew in office may look as if we are trying to cheat time. And worse – that we are disavowing our record in government. Gordon Brown is part of our record. If we disown him, we run the risk of disowning our record. The public will recoil from evidence of disloyalty towards Gordon. ‘Whatever people think of him as a [potential] Prime Minister, they still greatly respect him as a Chancellor.’
But it shows Mr Blair has serious doubts about allowing Mr Brown to take over without a leadership contest. The public are ‘not stupid’, says the memo. ‘They will not forgive us if we foist an unpopular leader on them without a proper democratic process. They just won’t accept it.’
It finishes on a note of desperation. ‘We have to focus. We can’t sort out everything. The NHS is probably the best place to start. If we can make sense of one or two areas of policy the rest might fall into place. This is really s*** or bust time.’"
Well if that doesn't lead this evening's news bulletins, I'm a Dutchman. "In ander nieuws vanavond.."
I'll be doing the paper review at 11.45pm on News 24. Glad there'll be something to talk about!
DO COME BACK AFTER 9PM - I HAVE A PHENOMENAL STORY...
You can read the full briefing document HERE. It seeks to explain how they want to split Post Offices Limited away from Royal Mail, but does so without actually ever using the dreaded 'P' word (and I don't mean 'peerage'). The LibDems want to privatise Royal Mail so why don't they just come out and say it? Some of us think it is rather a good idea.
Johnson’s wit was particularly scintillating in his parliamentary sketches, where he displayed a wonderful lightness of touch. Anthony Crosland, the Labour Foreign Secretary, was “one of the cleverest men in the Commons, as he himself would concede”.
At a Conservative party conference, Johnson reported: “Mr Heath arrived in the hall and advanced menacingly on the platform… neatly dressed as ever, facially impassive, arms thrust straight down his sides. It was as if he had stepped out of the window of a nearby branch of Burton’s. He was warmly applauded and seated himself one place away from Mrs Thatcher. They gave each other a welcoming stare.”
Of Michael Heseltine, the darling of Tory party conferences, Johnson observed: “One arrived to find Mr Heseltine engulfed in his own peroration. A huge audience was enthralled. He bellowed at them from beneath that blond mane which causes him so often to be mistaken from behind for Mrs Sally Oppenheim. He was thundering along the lines of: one nation, one Reich, one Heseltine.”
Roy Jenkins was a favourite and fruitful subject. In the Labour leadership election following Harold Wilson’s resignation in 1976, Jenkins was “expected to sweep Belgravia and the offices of The Times”. And noting that Jenkins was described in a by-election campaign leaflet as “a miner’s son”, Johnson mused: “True, certainly; but only in the way that it is true to describe Mrs Jacqueline Onassis as the widow of a Greek merchant seaman. It simply does not do justice to Mr Jenkins’ position in café society.”
On Shirley Williams, he wrote: “Mrs Shirley Williams, who is regarded by some of the more primitive followers of the SDP as possessing divine status and miraculous powers, unsuccessfully applied to the Speaker for an emergency debate on the water dispute. At first, one assumed this was because the dispute was beginning to threaten supplies of the only water used by the SDP: Perrier water.”
"In the house, Mr Callaghan as prime minister is proving to be many of the things which his predecessor, Sir Harold, was widely said to be, but really was not... Mr Callaghan is genuinely cunning. Such is his deviousness that he always knows the right moment at which to be straightforward. He also gives the impression that he is seriously engaged in the activity of politics, something which Sir Harold could never bring off."
“The sketch,” he once said, “is a verbal cartoon. I don’t like to be rude and I have no anger. I believe in the system: I’m part of it, like Black Rod or Madam Speaker.”