Thursday, January 31, 2008
A further sign in the thawing of relations will come tonight when David Cameron will be presenting Lady Thatcher with a Lifetime Achievement Award 'in recognition of Baroness Thatcher's lifetime contribution to public service and international affairs'. The occasion is the Morgan Stanley Great Britons Awards at London's Guildhall.
Sounds like a fascinating evening.
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
I have had tremendous support from my local party, my family and friends
but have concluded that it is time to step down. I stand by what I have
said in relation to the report by the Commissioner of Standards and do not wish
to add to those comments at this time. Since joining the Conservative Party
nearly 40 years ago I have had the privilege of serving in public office since
1974 and have done so to the best of my ability.
I have advised the Chief Whip and the chairman of my local Conservative
Association that I shall not seek to continue as the Conservative Party
Candidate for Old Bexley and Sidcup at the next election. Though not an
original supporter of David Cameron for the leadership of my party, I believe
that he has shown he has both the ability and the character to be Prime Minister
of our country and I do not wish my personal circumstances to be a distraction
in any way from the real issues that have to be addressed.
On a personal level I feel very sorry that it has come to this, but for the good of the Party Derek has done the right thing. Even those who feel he has let them down in other ways, will, I hope accept that.
The last forty hours have not shown the Conservative Party in its best light. The baying mob is something I hope not to see again for a very long time. Whatever Derek did or did not do he did not deserve some of the comments that have been thrown his way.
The original blogpost I wrote on Monday night on the subject has also drawn widespread criticism both here and elsewhere. I make no apology for it and I refute any charge of hypocrisy. Name me a friend of Peter Hain who publicly called for him to resign. Name me any friend of Wendy Alexander who called for her head. It's actually got nothing to do with tribal party politics. It's all to do with basic human decency and how you define friendship. I would not expect Peter Hain's friends to call for his resignation. Some of the people who reckon I should have publicly slagged Derek off should look themselves in the mirror and ask themselves how they define friendship. Does it include running from their friends at the first whiff of grapeshot? If so, they're not the kind of friends I would want.
Tomorrow I fly to Washington DC for ten days. Don't worry - the blog won't just be covering US politics for that time, but obviously I'll want to share with you what I learn.
I thought Clegg was again on solid form. What did you all make of it?
UPDATE: I've been alerted to a very funny comment HERE on CiF. Here's a slightly amended version...
David Cameron: Mr Speaker sir, can I ask the Prime Minister if his name is Gordon Brown?
Gordon Brown: I refer the Right Hon. Gentleman to a report in 1999 outlining the use of the phone book.
David Cameron: Can I ask the Prime minister, can he answer a simple question? What is his name?
Gordon Brown: Mr Speaker, I refer him to the use of the Telephone Book Act, which this government introduced despite opposition from his party.
David Cameron: Oh, I give up.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Hattip Rachel North
I've just seen some terrifying pictures which have come in to The Telegraph on the terrible riots and murders in Kenya. Several were too gruesome for a newspaper to publish. As I have written before, this crisis has terrible echoes of the Rwandan genocide, as inter-tribal killings escalate. The two rival leaders, Odinga and Kibaki, seem not to realise that they stand on the edge of a precipice called genocide. If they can't see it for themselves, the international community needs to make its presence felt. Bill Clinton said that not intervening in Rwanda was the greatest mistake of his Presidency (apart from not paying Monica's dry cleaning bill, of course). Let's hope that the international community ensures that history doesn't repeat itself.
And to those who say it's nothing to do with us, let them just get on with it, I take it you've never been to a concentration camp, and have never been to the genocide memorial near Butare in Rwanda where 50,000 corpes are buried. If you had, you wouldn't take an isolationist stance. You'd want to try to do something about it.
This led to me think about the worst year of my lifetime. I reckon it would have to be 1973. The economy was riven by strikes, power cuts were the norm ... and we joined the EEC.
Personally, 2005 wasn't too hot either? Which year would you nominate?
Monday, January 28, 2008
I believe in friendship. I believe that true friends don't abandon each other in difficult times. I have a track record of standing by my friends when the going gets rough. I've done it when I knew it would cost me personally. I went on TV defending the Hamiltons over the rape allegations when people warned me not to as it could damage me politically. I publicly defended Edwina Currie over the publication of her diaries, when it would have been more politically expedient to join the baying throngs.
And I have no hesitation in telling you that Derek Conway is a friend of mine. Anything I have to say about his conduct, I will say to his face.
I don't 'diss' on my friends in public. End. Of. Story.
WARNING: I fully expect to get a lot of flack for this, but do me a favour, will you? If you want to post a comment calling me a hypocrite or worse, then at least have the courtesy of putting a name to your comment. Because if you don't, it won't get posted. I don't mind people calling me whatever they like, but have the guts to do it publicly rather than hide behind the coward's shield of anonymity.
I'm going to try to get to the first part of the meeting before I head off to speak at a Tory Reform Group event with Polly Toynbee and Peter Oborne (Macmillan Room, Portcullis House 7-8.30pm) should anyone be interested.
WARNING: Whenever I mention the word 'abortion' on this blog it provokes a tirade of abuse in the comments (Israel or climate change have similar effects). Anyonymous comments hurling abuse will not be allowed through, so don't even bother.
I'm not sure how helpful it is to frame the debate in this way. It can be divisive to pigeonhole people into one camp or another. Too often the Tory Party seeks to demonise one tendency or another. Wets, dries - consolidators, radicals - Eurosceptics, Europhiles... the list is endless. To portray George Osborne and David Cameron as being on opposite sides of an argument is stretching things and merely gives opponents of the Cameron project something to gnaw on.
UPDATE: Tim has responded HERE to Danny F and me. He concludes: "This isn't a split but a grown-up discussion about the pace of Project Cameron. The debate is real and Iain of all people should support the grassroots joining in that debate. "
Sunday, January 27, 2008
AMERICAN presidential candidate Barack Obama is a secret West Ham fan.Mr
Obama, 46 - battling Hillary Clinton for the Democrats' nomination - has been
following the Hammers ever since a visit to Britain more than five years ago.And
he keeps in touch with the fortunes of Alan Curbishley's side through his
relatives in England - who are all Hammers fanatics.The Kent-based clan -
related to the US senator after his sister married an Englishman - now hope Mr
Obama will be singing the club's famous anthem "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles" all
the way to the White House.The Obama campaign team recently revealed he is a
massive football fan and was a nifty player himself while a student at Harvard
Law School.Mr Obama - bidding to become America's first black President -
watches Premier League games whenever his schedule allows, as long as matches
don't clash with his other great love - basketball.A campaign source said:
"Obama is a big sports nut and loves his soccer. He never really followed it,
though, until he was told all about the passion of West Ham fans by some of his
English relatives."He is always keen to find out how his adopted club are
getting on."Rival Hillary, 60, has been linked with Manchester United after
hubby Bill, the ex-President, revealed during a UK book tour that the Reds were
his favourite team.
The waiters plied the guests with wine throughout the evening. Not being a big drinker I decided to stop after two glasses. However, when you're at a party you feel a bit of a spare part without a glass in your hand, so I took another. As I raised the glass to my lips Margaret Thatcher walked right by me. As she moved past I found my stomach heaving and it was all I could do not to throw up at her feet. It wasn't wine in the glass, it was her favourite tipple: whisky and water.
And so ended what nearly became my most embarrassing moment in politics. Tell us about yours.
Hain certainly has a case to answer, and is in the biggest trouble, and I suspect he may well be charged with offences under the PPERA 2000. But let's not lose sight of the fact that in most other countries political corruption implies politicians on the take. That's not the case here, and whatever our views on what Hain, Alexander, Harman and Johnson may have done, they're not being accused of trying to profit personally from their various alleged misdemeanours and incompetences. Let's remember that.
But to the general public, various politicians being interviewed by Inspector Knacker means only one thing - that they're just the ones who have been caught. The ones that even bother to look into what they are being accused of may make a differentiation between corruption and incompetence, but they cannot forgive the double standards of a politician who says he did nothing wrong and reckons that filing his returns to the Electoral Commission six months late is OK. They look at him and wonder what planet he lives on as they ponder the consequences of filing their tax returns six days - not six months late.
Politicians of all colours need to realise that they are held in lower public esteem than ever before and they need to react accordingly - not by arguing for higher salaries or allowances, but by addressing the failings of a political system which is becoming unfit for purpose - and by improving their own personal standards of behaviour.
Most politicians I know are in politics for the right reasons, but the few bad apples are allowing the public to believe that they're all the same. Most politicians I know go out of their way for their constituents and have a deep sense of honour. Now is the time for them to go that extra mile in improving the reputation of the whole of the body politic.
UPDATE: Conor Ryan has blogged along similar lines.
It's been a good 24 hours for the Illinois senator. While his victory in South Carolina was expected, the 55-27 margin over Hillary was not. Going into Super Tuesday he has grabbed 'the big mo' back from Hillary Clinton in no uncertain terms.
My first reaction was a huge shrug of the shoulders and an unspoken 'so what'? Shouldn't we welcome people who see the light? Of course we should, but many will understandably be asking how long they should serve a 'Conservative Apprenticeship' before they are allowed to stand as an official Conservative parliamentary candidate.
In another Kent seat, Gillingham & Rainham, the candidate Rehman Chishti was actually a Labour candidate at the 2005 election. He stood against Francis Maude. According to the MoS story, at the same election, Helen Grant allowed Labour telephone canvassers to use her office. It hardly compares.
It is alleged that Helen Grant didn't tell the selection committee about her Labour Party past. It's quite clear the selection committee didn't ask her, so she was hardly likely to volunteer it. You might think that would be their failure not hers. You might think that - I couldn't possibly comment.
At the end of most selection interviews you're normally asked to declare anything from your political or private past which might cause embarrassment to the local Association. I didn't get that question, so I imagine neither did she. I was asked if there was any issue (such as fox hunting) which I had controversial views on which might be a problem (for what it's worth I mentioned the English Parliament issue), but that is a different question to the one candidates are normally asked.
In the MoS story, Helen Grant seeks to play down her Labour activism, saying that she was only in the party for "about five minutes". There are some further somewhat unconvincing lines too. What she should have done was to take the story head on and be quite up front about why she left Labour and became impressed by David Cameron. A passionate defence of why she's a Conservative would be far more likely to convince Kent Tories of her worth. The weak lines fed out by CCHQ on her behalf to the MoS have done her a disservice.
Helen Grant won the Maidstone & the Weald selection fair and square. There was no CCHQ imposition. She topped the voting on each of the three rounds and beat ninety odd other candidates, including me, in a totally fair and transparent contest. If there is any flak from this story she needs to show the qualities which won her the selection and come out fighting. I've never met her, but from what I have been told I reckon she's more than capable of it. As indeed her predecessor has proved to be.
Helen Grant now has an early opportunity to prove her Widdecombe-esque qualities and sock it to those in politics and the media who are quite clearly seeking to undermine her.
Saturday, January 26, 2008
|December Media Tarts|
|23||+1||Dame Pauline Neville-Jones||11|
|31||-||Baroness Anelay of St Johns||0|
1. (1) Vince Cable 7.28 (7.73)
2. (2) David Cameron 6.66 (7.43)
3. (7) David Davis 5.86 (6.09)
4. (3) George Osborne 5.82 (6.67)
5. (4) Alex Salmond 5.76 (6.63)
6. (5) William Hague 5.66 (6.25)
7. (6) Michael Gove 5.29 (6.16)
8. (8) Chris Grayling 4.77 (5.71)
9. (10) Chris Huhne 4.74 (5.16)
10 (9) Alan Duncan 4.66 (5.29)
11. (14) Liam Fox 4.50 (4.97)
12. (11) Boris Johnson 4.49 (5.13)
13. (15) Andrew Lansley 4.42 (4.60)
14. (20) Nick Clegg 4.06 (4.37)
15. (18) Ian Paisley 4.33 (4.58)
16. (12) Theresa May 4.05 (5.07)
17. (14) Nick Herbert 3.97 (4.45)
18. (13) Hilary Benn 3.88 (4.98)
19. (23) Caroline Spelman 3.87 (3.93)
20. (15) Jack Straw 3.82 (4.48)
21. (16) David Willetts 3.55 (4.24)
22. (17) Alan Johnson 3.41 (4.44)
23. (27) David Miliband 3.52 (3.59)
24. (18) John Hutton 3.39 (4.05)
25. (19) David Miliband 3.52 (3.59)
26. (29) Nigel Farage 3.41 (3.33)
27. (20) John Denham 3.39 (3.90)
28. (21) Rhodri Morgan 3.34 (3.86)
29. (30) Ed Davey (3.32) 3.32
30. (24) Ken Livingstone 2.61 (3.72)
31. (32) Ed Balls 2.24 (2.69)
32. (33)Ruth Kelly 2.53 (2.91)
33. (28) Jacqui Smith 2.42 (3.42)
34. (31) Des Browne 2.31 (2.44)
35. (39) Gordon Brown 2.35 (2.41)
36. (35) Hazel Blears 2.25 (3.12)
37. (36) Ed Miliband 2.23 (2.72)
38. (37) Alistair Darling 2.19 (2.52)
39. (38) Douglas Alexander 2.13 (2.24)
40. (40) Harriet Harman 1. 86 (1.76)
Friday, January 25, 2008
About a year ago 18 Doughty Street got a lot of flack for making an attack ad against Ken Livingstone. Here's a reminder of what it said...
I'm now thinking it was a bit tame.
Peston, the man with the golden contacts book, started watching Northern Rock
back in 2003. He could see it was expanding too fast and riding for a fall. "One
day," he predicted, squirming to recall his hackneyed phrase, "this bank will
find itself between a rock and a hard place."
Gillian Shephard also spotted problems back in 2006 and warned Ministers. If both of these astute individuals could see that Northern Rock was heading for the rocks, why couldn't the combined talents of the thousands of civil servants employed by the Treasury, Bank of England and the Financial Services Authority? This should be investigated by the Treasury Select Committee. Who knew what, when?
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Always happy to put less mainstream headlines on the programme when appropriate - no reason why that shouldn't include blogs too."
"It won’t be hypothetical if and when it occurs. We are not legislating now on
the basis that we are bringing it in now for something that might happen in the
future; we are bringing it in now for something that might happen in the future;
we are bringing in a position for if it becomes unhypothetical. If,
unfortunately I and many other experts are right and we do need it in the future
it is in place."
As Shane Greer & LibDem Voice say, it's like listening to Donald Rumsfeld's 'known unknowns'. Except that kinda made sense. The more I see of the lovely Miss Smith the more I want to rearrange the following words.
Depth. Of. Her. Out.
2. Chris Whiteside on the Margaret Beckett Award for Making Things Worse.
3. Rachel Joyce on the pros and cons of the 'A' List.
Has there ever been a married couple in the Cabinet before? Yvette Cooper certainly hasn't got there on merit. By all accounts it was she who was to blame for the disastrous implementation of HIPS, although because of her closeness to Gordon Brown she couldn't be seen to take the blame. She has the media presence of a slab of ice.
Andy Burnham is an interesting character and is being talked up in Labour circles as a potential successor to Brown. We'll see. I used to think he was capabale of speaking his mind, but his recent media appearances have borne all the hallmarks of a speaking clock.
Has Purnell got the Welsh Secretary job as well? He is, after all, an expert at
being in two places at once.
Good one Oscar. I wonder if Purnell will be very pleased by this 'promotion', or whether he's been persuaded to take one for the team. The DWP is second only to the Home Office in being a department full of pitfalls. I certainly know which job would be more enjoyable. But if you're an ambitious young Cabinet Minister you have to regard it as a stepping stone to one of the really big jobs.
UPDATE 4pm: It's James Purnell. I knew I shouldn't have taken a punt!
What is striking about the process of the resignation of Hain in comparison with the way Blair/Campbell (Alistair that is) handled this is that the whole of the lunch time bulletins are full of Hain’s resignation and in a few minutes his speech outside his former Dept. Blair would have had the replacement announced before the bulletins could start running, thereby sending the message ‘right problem over let’s move on’.
It is not as if Brown hasn’t had time to think about this.
The reason Brown didn't want Hain to go was because it could have a domino effect on Wendy Alexander and Harriet Harman. Harman in particular will view this as a bitter blow to her chances of surviving any further fallout over the Abrahams affair. Which reminds me, where are we on that?
I wonder therefore whether the PM will now create a new Government Department, the Department for Devolved Government, covering Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. This would give Brown the added bonus of being able to sack Shaun Woodward, something I am told he would, as Kevin Keegan might say, 'love it' if he could do. Dizzy had evidence of this HERE.
One possibility would be to carry out a wider ranging reshuffle, which would be sold as "freshening up" his six month tired old administration. He could move Des Browne to the new devolved job, and bring in a new Secretary of State for Defence as well as a new Work and Pensions Secretary. Looking through the Ministers of State, Liam Byrne, Caroline Flint, Ben Bradshaw, Tony McNulty and Phil Woolas would appear to be the frontrunners for promotion. That's put a black spot on them, then!
Can anyone remember the last time a serving Cabinet Minister was investigated by the Police?
UPDATE 12.22: Peter Hain is expected to resign this afternoon.
Mind you, having said that, I have lost half a stone in the last month. Where's my reward?
It all revolves around Danny's assertion that up front tax cut promises are no longer the powerful electoral tool they once were. He wrote:
Always an automatic crowd-pleaser in the past, it [tax cuts] isn't working
quite as reliably as it used to. John Howard, for instance, lost in Australia
despite his promises.
I think an assertion based on the evidence of one election in a faraway country is pushing it. However, I am pushed to remember any party in this country which has EVER promised up front tax cuts in its manifesto. If I am right, it seems this spat is over nothing. Margaret Thatcher certainly promised lower taxes in 1979 but didn't specify what they would be or how she would achieve them.No one expects widespread specific tax cuts, but they do expect a Conservative government to achieve lower taxes than a Labour government would. George Osborne has made two specific tax pledges on inheritance tax and corporation tax. This helps give the electorate an overall feeling that Conservatives would indeed be a taxcutting party in government. And frankly, that's as far as he needs to go. Politics is all about perception and less about specifics. People need to perceive that you will be competent in government and they need a general perception of which direction you are heading in. They do not need or want to know that in year three your goal is to lop a penny off Capital Gains Tax. They need an indication of that's what you'd quite like to do if the economy allows it.
And there's the rub. I suspect both Danny and Stephan would agree with that. So come on you camp old queens. Kiss and make up!
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Norfolk Blogger, Quaequam, Stephen Tall and Gavin Whenman have all slagged off Nick Clegg's refusal to commit his party to a referendum. Tell me, are there any LibDem bloggers at all who support their new leader's calamitous stand? Just asking.
Yes, Paul Walter, I can see you at the back.
Richard Horwell QC, representing the Met asked Reuben Murrell: "On behalf of Mohammed Fayed you were being asked to rewrite history?
Mr Murrell replied: "I was being asked to be part of something I knew to be a falsification."
Horwell: "You were being asked to pretend that Diana and Dodi were interested in living together at the Villa Windsor?"
I raise this to remind people of the Neil Hamilton v Fayed case when Hamilton alleged that Fayed had ordered his employees to lie on his behalf about brown envelopes. On that occasion the court chose to believe Fayed's version of events. The evidence at the Inquest today confirms my belief that they got it wrong, and that Fayed will stop at nothing to get his own way. It's also why I haven't set foot inside Harrods for ten years. Hattip London Evening Standard
I suspect it will become one of the paper's more popular destinations pages.
Today, he won his case at a tribunal. According to the News Statesman... The Information Tribunal has just rejected an appeal by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to stop the release, under the Freedom of Information Act, of an early draft of the now infamous Weapons of Mass Destruction dossier.The September 2002 dossier formed part of the government’s spurious case for war in Iraq. The draft in question was produced by John Williams, the FCO’s Head of News at the time. Its existence tore apart the government’s assertion, to the Hutton and Butler inquiries, that the dossier was the work of the intelligence services.
The Tribunal criticised inconsistencies in the Foreign Office’s account. It noted that the FCO’s chief witness and Director of International Security, Stephen Pattinson,
"was not involved at the time and volunteered no information about the source of
his information". The decision follows a three-year battle by Chris Ames, a
charity researcher from Surrey, who persisted in his quest for the truth. The NS
was pleased to support him, and to provide pages of the magazine for his campaign. We pay tribute to his extraordinary diligence.
I do too. The New Statesman and I were the only people to listen to him and provide him with a platform for making his case in public, so far as I am aware. The rest of the media shut him out and ignored him. You can read more on the case on his Iraq Dossier blog. I'm sure that by the end of the day he will tell all about today's events.
While on his morning walk, Prime Minister Gordon Brown falls over, has a heart attack and dies because the accidentand emergency deptat his nearest hospital is too understaffed to treat him in time. So his soul arrives in Heaven and he is met by Saint Peter at the Pearly Gates. "Welcome to Heaven," says Saint Peter, "Before you settle in, it seems there is a problem. We seldom see a Socialist around these parts, so we're not sure what to do with you."
"No problem, just let me in; I'm a good Christian; I'm a believer," says the PM. "I'd like to just let you in, but I have orders from God Himself. He says that since the implementation of his new HEAVEN CHOICES policy, you have to spend one day in Hell and one day in Heaven. Then you must choose where you'll live for eternity."
"But I've already made up my mind. I want to be in Heaven," replies Brown. "I'm sorry .. But we have our rules," Peter interjects. And, with that, St. Peter escorts him to an elevator and he goes down, down, down ...all the way to Hell. The doors open and he finds himself in the middle of a lush golf course. The sun is shining in a cloudless sky. The temperature is a perfect 22C degrees. In the distance is a beautiful club-house. Standing in front of it is Harold Wilson and thousands of other Socialist luminaries who had helped him out over the years --- JohnSmith, Michael Foot, Jim Callaghan, etc. Thewhole of the LabourParty leaders were there - everyone laughing, happy, and casually but expensively dressed.
They run to greet him, to hug him and toreminisce about the good times they had getting rich at the expense of 'suckers andpeasants.' They play a friendly game of golf and then dine on lobster and caviar. The Devil himself comes up to Brown with a frosty drink, "Have a tequila and relax, Gord!"
"Uh, I can't drink anymore, I took a pledge,"says Brown, dejectedly. "This is Hell, son. You can drink and eat all you want and not worryand it just gets better from there!" Brown takes the drink and finds himself liking the Devil, who he thinks is a really very friendly bloke who tells funny jokes like himself and pulls hilarious nasty pranks, kind of like the ones the Labour Party pulled with the European Constitution and the Education, Immigration, Tough on Crime promises. They are having such a great time that, beforehe realises it, it's time to go. Everyone gives him a big hug and waves as Brown steps on the elevator and heads upward.When the elevator door reopens, he is in Heaven again and Saint Peter is waiting for him.
"Now it's time to visit Heaven," the old man says, opening the gate. So for 24 hours Brown is made to hang out with a bunch of honest, good-natured people who enjoy each other's company, talk about things other than money and treat each other decently. Not a nasty prank or short-arse joke among them. No fancy country clubs here and, while the food tastes great, it's not caviar orlobster. And these people are all poor. He doesn't see anybody he knows and he isn't even treated like someone special! "Whoa," he says uncomfortably to himself, "Harold Wilson never prepared me for this!"
The day done, Saint Peter returns and says,"Well, you've spent a day in Hell and a day in Heaven. Now choose where you want to live for Eternity."With the 'Deal or No Deal' theme playing softly in the background, Brown reflects for a minute ... Then answers:"Well, I would never have thought I'd say this -- I mean, Heaven has been delightful and all -- but I really think I belong in Hell with my friends."So Saint Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goes down, down, down, all the way to Hell.
The doors of the elevator open and he is in themiddle of a barrenscorched earth covered with garbage and toxic industrial wasteland, looking a bit like the eroded, rabbit and fox-affected Australian outback, but worse and more desolate. He is horrified to see all of his friends, dressed in rags and chained together, picking up the roadside rubbish and putting it into black plastic bags. They are groaning and moaning in pain, faces and hands black with grime.
The Devil comes over to Brown and puts an arm around his shoulder."I don't understand," stammers a shocked Brown,"Yesterday I was here and there was a golf course and a club-house and we ate lobster andcaviar and drank tequila. We lazed around and had a great time. Now there's just a wasteland full of garbage and everybody looksmiserable!"
The Devil looks at him, smiles slyly and purrs,"Yesterday we were campaigning; today you voted for us!"
Walking into a room in the Capitol Wednesday before dusk: A handful of people
were standing together and gazing out a huge old white-silled window as the
Reagan cortege approached down Pennsylvania Avenue. The sun was strong, like a
presence. It bathed the women in glow. One was standing straight, with
discipline. Her beige bouffant was brilliant in the sun. I approached, and she
turned. It was Margaret Thatcher. It was like walking into a room at FDR's
funeral and seeing Churchill.
The cortege was coming toward the steps. We looked out the window: a perfect
tableaux of ceremonial excellence from every branch of the armed forces. Mrs.
Thatcher watched. She turned and said to me, "This is the thing, you see, you
must stay militarily strong, with an undeniable strength. The importance of this
cannot be exaggerated." To my son, whose 17th birthday was the next day, she
said, "And what do you study?" He tells her he loves history and literature.
"Mathematics," she says. He nods, wondering, I think, if she had heard him
correctly. She had. She was giving him advice. "In the world of the future it
will be mathematics that we need--the hard, specific knowledge of mathematical
formulae, you see." My son nodded: "Yes, ma'am." Later I squeezed his arm. "Take
notes," I said. This is history.
A local election candidate arrested in a major electoral fraud inquiry is to beStrangely there was also no mention in the LibDem Constitutional Affairs Spokesman, David Heath MP's press release on the subject.
charged with forgery. Mohammed Khan, aged 54, of Hob Moor Road, Small Heath,
Birmingham, will be summoned to court this week to face 11 counts of forgery. He
is one of several people at the centre of an investigation into alleged postal vote fraud during the 2006 Birmingham local elections. In April 2006, Mr Khan was arrested and bailed by West Midlands Police detectives working for the economic crime team on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud the election process. A day earlier, his wife Naseem Akhtar had been arrested following the discovery of a number of postal voting forms at an address in Ronald Road, Bordesley Green. Last year, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) advised the police that fraud charges against a number of individuals including Mr Khan could be brought. A spokeswoman said: "Our lawyers have been considering this case for some months and this week we advised West Midlands Police of our decision.
“We should be deeply ashamed that the United Kingdom, which throughout history
has been seen as the cradle of parliamentary democracy, has been found so wanting by our international counterparts. The defects highlighted in the report, such as the fact it is ‘childishly simple’ to register bogus voters, were pointed out in recent legislation. However, the remedies suggested by the Liberal Democrats have been summarily rejected by this Government. For the sake of our democracy and our international reputation, ministers must now deal with the opportunities for abuse.”
He may like to look closer to home, too. This may seem as though I am making of party political point, and I suppose I am, but I do recognise that all parties suffer from individuals who abuse the system. Stephen is right to say that it is a problem of Labour's making, but he falls into the usual LibDem trap of trying to appear as white as white, when in fact their bed linen is a peculiar shade of grey.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Monday, January 21, 2008
When the political editor of a left wing magazine writes that: "The voters of London should kick Ken out when they go to the polls in May," the Labour Party should recognise it has a big problem. If they want to continue to stick their heads in the sand they will reap the reward in May.
The Scottish voters have elected a nationalist administration to govern
them but where does this leave the rest of the UK? Is the West Lothian Question
unanswerable? will consider questions such as; Is the Union under threat? Is an
English Grand Committee the answer? Could a federal UK work?
So, then, you might ask: who are the speakers?
They are Lord Falconer and Sir Malcolm Rifkind. The debate will be chaired by the broadcaster Sheena McDonald (an ex girlfriend of Gordon Brown).
Now dear reader, what do this august threesome have in common? They're all Scots! Nothing wrong with that, but if you hold a debate on the unfairnesses towards the English in the current arrangement, wouldn't it be a nice idea to have a token Englishman/woman on the panel? Not according to the Hansard Society. Steve Uncles from the English Democrats made a gentle enquiry and was told:
The reason we chose these speakers is that they are both representatives of
the Westminster parliament and have considerable experience of the issue we are
debating. We do not choose speakers on grounds of their nationality for this or
any other meeting, but on their experience of the issues we wish them to
So that's alright then. I can't actually think what expertise Lord Falconer has in this subject beyond being Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs, a period during which I cannot recall a single utterance he made on the subject.
I think this comes under the category of 'you couldn't make it up'.Full details of the debate can be found HERE.
"Jacqui Smith, the home secretary, has admitted she would feel unsafe walking the streets of London late at night." Jeez! Isn't she earning enough as home secretary?
hat tip to: Verity
UPDATE: A commenter has pointed out that it had to be announced to the Stock Exchange. I understand that, but if the announcement hadn't been pre-briefed the Stock Exchange could have been told at exactly the same time as the House of Commons.
And let's be clear. This is nationalisation by another name. It may not be civil servants who run the reconstituted bank, but the taxpayer is still guaranteeing it.
UPDATE 12.30: By preannouncing this at the weekend the Prime Minister, together with Branson's comments, effectively created a false market in Northern Rock shares. I'd have thought that this must have transgressed some FSA or Bank of England rule. Any of my City readers care to shed some light?
Sunday, January 20, 2008
UPDATE: Helen's website is HERE.
UPDATE: Vicky Ford, who was in the final 9, has just blogged her thoughts in a typically magnanimous way.
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COMMENTERS ON A YELLOW CARD
Tim Ireland (from 29 March)
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