Thursday, November 30, 2006

Number 1 Ranked Political blog! *

On See here!

* Its not a very authoritative as a lot of high ranking bloggers have left it, but just felt like bragging!

(I had to capture the image just in case I slip down the list again.)

Education Education Education!

Remember Tony Blair saying that?

Crawley Labour party have a website. They have a special place for the Ifield section of their website here. (Please note the spelling) However today it looks like this!

Makes me feel so much better about my own typo's! makes you wonder how for the first time in the history of Crawley Council it changed hands from Labour to Conservative.

Hat tip this poster on

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Polonium 210 Splash it on all over!

Any one remember the Brut 33 advert with Henry Cooper and Kevin Keegan? The tag line was splash in on all over. Well that seems to be what has happened with Polonium 210.

I have to say that I am a bit mystified by the news that traces Polonium 210 has been found on three British Airways aeroplanes as well as a couple of other sites in London. You can read the BBC's report here.

The reason I am mystified is that the stuff is rare and I presume expensive, yet it appears to have been transported around and left all over the place. You do have to wonder how much the killers started off with.

That said the trail seems to lead back to Moscow. I suspect that if you ran a Geiger counter over the airport you would pick up a trail that led right back to KGB headquarters. That I have to say would make me very suspicious as it would start looking like a fit up. Umm...

I have just changed to a 3 column template

I did that mainly because I wanted to move things like topic labels up and add some other things to the side bar without having it disappear so far down the page where no one would read it.

Does it look OK? Please feel free to leave comments.

Victim statements- what if they were hated?

Having listened to current affairs for a while and listened to last nights channel 4 news in the light of this pointless and barbaric murder (as reported on the BBC here) the fiancee of the victim had read out a victim statement on her behalf.

Fair enough. It seems it may have played some part in sentencing.

The question is though, what happens when someone is killed who no one cares about, nobody loves, or indeed who may be universally derided and hated within in their community?

Does it make killing them alright? Or at least better than killing someone who people like?

We need to be ware that we do not rank people in what could be a horrific way even though it is for the best of reasons.

Update 23:50 30th November 2006

I just wanted to make it clear that I was not talking about Saddam Hussein or Osama Bin laden as a potential person for whom no one would read a witness statement, but Eleanor Rigby or the like. You know, that man or woman who lives on their own, has odd ideas doesn't like kids and does not have any.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Voter apathy and modern politics

Party member ship has collapsed since the 1950's when 1 in every 11 people were members of a political party to 1 in 88 now. (An interesting statistic I picked up from Sir Hayden Phillips report on party funding)

You have to ask why people have become so disconnected from politics?

Well, there are a number of reasons including the fact that life is a lot more comfortable for most people than it used to be. However one reason I can see for this is the way modern politics is conducted.

Take for example this article on the BBC's website from 1992 about John Major campaigning on his soap box in the general election.

A group of left wing activists turned up to heckle with load speakers. How profoundly ugly, childish and anti democratic is that? Similar also went on in the 2005 General Election with both Michael Howard and Charles Kennedy having their personal band of hecklers sent in by Labour to make sure they could not campaign.

In the 1992 campaign Jack Cunningham was asked when Neil Kinnock was going to get on his soapbox. He said:

"We have graduated from soapbox politics."
Well, it does not appear to be engaging people any more. This sort of behaviour is simply wrong. It puts people off politics and stifles debate. It is time for politicians to get back on their soap boxes and with a bit of luck the fascist tendency in the Labour party will not try to stifle debate.

Hat tip for the BBC article to Mike Smithson of

Party Funding II

I wrote about party funding on the 14th of July, here.

Labour set up a commission to look into the issue headed by Sir Hayden Phillips, whose website, .uk can be found here.

The review has published it's interim report which is available here.

On page 12 Sir Hayden Phillips says this:

"Finding a consensus on a new way forward for party funding will not be easy. The reform of party funding is not an end in itself, but a means to achieve the wider benefit of improving the quality of democracy. From the reaction the Review has received so far, I believe that the achievement of a good measure of cross-party agreement would be welcomed by the public. For that reason alone the process of the Review must be openly explained and not perceived as a private agreement only in the interests of the established political parties. Achieving agreement will require not just facilitation but an act of political will, including a readiness to accept that no one party will necessarily be able to achieve all of its objectives."
Which is interesting given this report in the Guardian, by Patrick Wintour their political editor. According to his information Labour are looking to bring forward legislation early next year to deal with the party funding issue regardless of the position of the other parties. This of course has many dangers associated with it not the least of which will be a battle Royal in the Lords.

Labour need to work on the basis of consensus on this one. It would be bad for democracy and indeed Labour if they don't.

What seems clear is that Labour are worried. They have £23 million in outstanding loans and it looks like they are going to have trouble paying them off. According to this report from the BBC it also appears that the Conservatives owe huge amounts as well, in fact £33.5 million. Mind you the Conservatives do not seem worried by this. Labour are also concerned that out side of the spending limit window the Conservatives are getting their campaigns in marginals going. This strikes me as a bit false as I am sure Labour were doing the same between 1992 and 1997.

It must be remembered that the reasons why people are being turned off politics is because they don't trust the parties. If you read Private Eye you will see why. Paying for some fringe event at the Labour party conference gets you on the platform, speaking with a minister and the appearance that you have just bought influence. If you add to this the Powder Ject issue you can see why people don't trust Labour.

All political parties need to re-engage with voters. This won't happen if every time some one ones to speak to the public a bunch of pratts from other parties turn up to heckle. That needs to stop.

Also state funding of political parties will go down like a lead balloon. It already happens, but the public don't know so don't care. If there is more state funding they may go bananas.

Hat tip to Jon on for the link to the Guardian story.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Polonium 210 A most peculiar poison

I was going to write an article deriding the idea that we should be worried about polonium 210, but having done some calculations I decided not to.

Polonium is a very odd thing to kill some one with. It is a bit poisonous but highly radioactive. People make the mistake of thinking that Uranium 235 is radioactive. It is a bit but not much. It is fissile which means that you can split its atoms with a slow moving neutron but is fairly harmless otherwise.

Polonium 210 on the other hand is highly radioactive. To give you an idea it radiates at 4,500 Curie per gram. A Curie is a unit or radioactivity. It is to radiation what the Fared is to capacitance and the Cubic Mile is to measuring milk. It is a phenomenally large measure of radioactivity.

Here are some other interesting facts.

The acceptable level of Polonium 210 in water is 0.2 Bq/L or 0.2 decays per second in 1 liter of water.

One Curie is 37 billion Becquerels.

Polonium 210 is rare. Very very rare. In fact estimated annual production is 100 grams. Not much. But then you don't need much to kill someone either.

A milligram ought to do it.

However it is a bit like killing someone with a hallmarked platinum bullet. Except that with the number of sites that this material turning up, its a bit like a machine gun burst of hallmarked platinum bullets. Bizarre. It also should not be that hard to track the source of the polonium either. So in effect the murder was signed. Who would do something like that?

I also found this article interesting.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Intercept evidence whats currently allowed

When this Government trots out proposals for new laws to deal with the threat of terrorism that vastly reduces our liberties and constitutional protection one of the things that both Conservatives and Liberal Democrats say is "Why not allow wire tap evidence to convict these people".

The answer is we could not possibly do that.

Well why not? There are only two common law jurisdictions that do not allow wire tap evidence in court. The UK and Hong Kong. Except that we do allow it in our courts if the wire tapping was carried out by someone else.

We also allow recordings of telephone conversations where one end is bugged. The Police also can and sometimes do insert a bug in a telephone, and get both ends of the conversation and this is still allowed.

In fact the only thing not allowed is intercepting a call remotely and using that as evidence. This is plainly nuts.

We do hear arguments about revealing methods but that can be covered by a public interest immunity certificate. So what is the argument?

Do we stick with Hong King on this one, and call the Dutch or Belgians every time we could do with a phone being tapped, or do we catch up with the rest of the civilised world?

Even the Director of Public Prosecutions wants wire tap evidence to be admissible.

For further information you can read about this weeks File on 4 here. Apparently you can't listen again until tomorrow.

The Union under threat

Well according to this article in the Telegraph its all over for the United Kingdom.

More than half of all respondents either side of the Scottish English border want rid of the Union.

As a Conservative and Unionist this breaks my heart. We have to ask how we got here and more importantly how we move forward.

It seems clear to me why we have lost the plot. The Conservative party was a massive force in Scotland before Margaret Thatcher, but after the poll tax was tried on them first that is no longer the case.

Labour have also been politically opportunistic in favouring devolution.

We are now in the most ridiculous of situations. Firstly the Scots feel rightly betrayed that in the Thatcher years policies were tried there first regardless of how Scotland's MP's voted, and now under Blair the English feel the same way, with Scottish MP's passing laws on England that their constituents will never have to endure.

Meanwhile the SNP stir it up, with their LA cheer leader and by far the worst James Bond in my view their ever Scottish and no way any kind of actor Sean Connery blathers on. (If you want to see a real Scottish Actor see David Tenant. if you are a Dr Who fan you would never ever know he was Scottish until you heard him being interviewed. That man can act, Sean can't)

I have to say I don't know what to do, but I just would not start from here.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Polonium and political controversy are no strangers

Polonium is a rare earth element. It does not grow on trees. It is in fact very very rare.

From the news reports I understand that traces Polonium 210 (an isotope of polonium) have been found in the now infamous case of Alexander Litvinenko.

You can read the BBC's article here. It will be covered by all papers in the morning.

There are of course some questions which arise. Is Polonium dangerous? Well I suspect it is a bit toxic, quite a lot of rare earth metals are. It is however as rare as rocking horse excrement, if not rarer. Hens teeth would be much easier to get hold of.

You can get it in a number of different ways, all of which involve nuclear power and the technical ability to separate polonium from what ever else it comes with.

Polonium 210 is an alpha emitter. That is to say that when it decays it sends out an alpha particle, which contains 2 protons and 2 neutrons.

There are two other sorts of radiation, beta, an electron, and gamma, a very high energy X Ray.

What makes alpha radiation so safe and deadly at the same time is this: Think of something being hit by an alpha particle as being hit by a 10 ton shell. It is going to do damage. What makes it so safe is that being so large and heavy alpha particles don't go very far. Typically only a few inches in air. In fact you could quite safely keep an alpha emitter on the top shelf and never get any radiation. Schools typically have alpha emitters but kept in lead.

Where it becomes very very dangerous is when it gets inside the body. There is nowhere for the alpha particle to go but some where it is bound to cause damage. It does this normally because it is basically a Helium atom without electrons. As it passes any atom it may steal an electron. This leaves an ion that was not there before, a free radical. These things can and do cause all sorts of problems including cancer. In order to do any of this damage though it does have to be inside of the body.

There will be huge amounts of speculation about who killed Alexander Litvinenko, but the biggest question in my mind is what prat would sign the murder in ten foot high letters of flame by using a chemical so rare that only 100 grams of it are produced a year?

Polonium is of course no stranger to political controversy. The Curries named it after Poland at a time when Poland was occupied in order to highlight its plight.

You can read the already updated to take account of this controversy article on Polonium on Wikipedia here.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Labour in another sleaze row!

With all the trouble labour are getting themselves into over sleaze, it is a wonder how they find time to do anything else.

The reported position in MSM is that Labour are trying to deduct at source amounts out of their ever decreasing number of councilors allowances for being a councilor. You can read the Daily Fascist Mail here or the BBC here.

The standards board are looking into it.

Allowances are paid to councilors because they spend sometimes considerable amounts of time doing work for their electorate. They don't get paid a huge amount.

Asking them to pay some over seems fair enough, however demanding it isn't.

The real issue though is getting a council to spend its time effectively collecting money for a political party. You are not supposed to use council resources for party work, and that clearly is party work. This is where Labour are in my view in trouble. Of course some Labour weasels have come out of the woodwork to defend the position but I can't see it washing.

The Tosser Test

The Conservative party have just launched this website. Personally I find the language a bit unnecessary. According to Iain Dale Norman Tebbit said:

"I suppose this is a mark of the permissive society which has been lauded by the Labour Party over many years. There is no foul language nor physical or moral degradation which is not now embraced by the current orthodoxy. Unfortunately, the orthodoxy has reached the Conservative Party."
With which I agree.

However he then went on with:

"It is not a word I would even use about Polly Toynbee."
I disagree with Lord Tebbit on this. I would.

However the website and campaign seems to be getting a lot of media attention which is good. It is after all not aimed at me. It has to be said lots of Labour and Liberal people are just attacking the site without looking at what it is trying to achieve. No surprise there.

The aim of the site is to help people deal with personal debt and to avoid it if possible. Its a good thing I say. It would also be nice if there was less irresponsible lending as well as borrowing.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

The NHS's best year ever! II

I wrote this article on the NHS's best year ever here. It detailed the story of a local boy of 8, and his 20 hour ordeal to get treatment for a broken arm including being ferried by ambulance between hospitals and being kept in a cubicle next to a suicidal man.

The reason for the problem is that Accident and Emergency services are being downgraded at the local hospital, The Princess Royal. You may be interested to know that this hospital is fairly new, replacing the old Cuckfield hospital.

However it gets worse.

There is a proposed consultation on the amalgamation of maternity obstetrics and neo natal services in Eastbourne and Hastings on to one site. According to this article on the BBC's site, the consultation seems not to be on the amalgamation but where the amalgamated services will be. (Labour marginal or Conservative safeish with Liberal Democratic challenger)

Residents see that as a sham. I agree.

It does get worse still. Hospitals in Kent and West Sussex are being told to delay treatment of "routine" conditions. You can read the BBC's article on it here.

What ever the rights and wrongs of these things, there is a perception that something has gone horribly wrong.

Firstly you need to be aware of the geography of Sussex. It is a big place with large distances (in terms of time) between hospitals.

Secondly you have to wonder this. Why are hospitals losing services? All these hospitals have had these services for a long time. We are now spending huge amounts of money on the NHS so how come services are closing?

The truth is that the largest gains in throughput in the NHS were between 1990 and 1999, before the huge increase in cash came in. So where is the money going?

Relative Poverty and the fallacy of redistribution

Much waffle has been spoken today about this document revealed to the world by Guido Fawks (Big hat tip to Guido again). The document is not a policy document but a discussion document by Greg Clark MP and Peter Franklin. Guido has it here.

It seems to me much of the the vacuous chattering classes assume we have signed up for some sort of massive tax based redistribution of wealth. We haven't.

It seems the document looks at measuring poverty in relative terms defined as those living in households with 60% of contemporary median household income.

Fine, but there is an issue. Firstly what about young single people living on their own? How much of a problem would it be if their income was less than 60% of the median household income?

The second issue is that many families now have dual incomes, out of which they pay for child care. Families with much lower overall income who have a stay at home adult look poorer, but do not have the expense of paying for childcare either. People make choices. Some want a high pressure high pay job, others don't. Some have good luck others don't. Some work hard through school and then a career and others don't. The people who don't are not bad or indolent, they may just choose to enjoy life a little more and have less ulcers or what ever. Some people do difficult high pressure jobs that don't pay very well because either they enjoy that job or they feel called to do it. It would be daft to consider any of that a problem that should concern the state.

That said we do have a hard core underclass who are either unemployed or are not in full time well paid work. This group is much harder to help.

Some seem condemned by postcode in that because of where they live, people make assumptions about them which then limit their ability to get a job, and education or socialise with some other people.

Some people have poor literacy and/or numeracy severely limiting job prospects, whilst others may have mental health issues or drug addictions.

The question is would redistribution help, and what do we mean by redistribution any way.

If we mean that we try to remove people on low incomes from the tax system altogether then the Conservative party has been in favour of that for years.

If however we mean taking tax revenue and giving it to people on low incomes then we need to look at all the implications of that. People who do poorly paid work do so because they either can't or won't get better paid work, for a variety of reasons, however employers who engage people on low incomes do so because they can. If the state then tops up those earnings, then we are all subsidising an employer who is not paying a reasonable wage for the work he is asking people to do for him. In a free market you would hope as employment rises that employers would be competing for staff.

Alas a lot of unskilled, and indeed semi and fully skilled work gets filled by immigrants who will accept lower wages because they have their household in another country where living costs are less. This makes it impossible for low wage earners to have their wages driven up by scarcity of supply.

In short I take the view that if you pay people to be poor, then as there is money in it, people will be poor.

If we want to genuinely tackle poverty we have to deal with a number of issues.

  • As Greg Clark's report rightly says people are becoming entangled in our welfare states safety net. We need to find better ways to assist the transition out of it.
  • Many people end up with a poor education because no one thinks they can or should do better.
  • We need an immigration policy to suit the whole country not just the economy. By that I mean we need to beware of the effect on wages of large numbers of unskilled immigrants.
In short the situation is complex. Just throwing money at it is not the answer.

Incidentally Iain Dale links to this piece on Conservative Home by Greg Clark whilst Borris Johnson has written this for the Telegraph.

I forgot to mention Greg Clark's piece on Conservative home points out that whilst those just within the 60% of median household income has fallen, those in the bottom 40% of median household income has risen.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Give addicts heroin?

I heard this first on Radio 4, apparently the Deputy Chief Constable of Nottinghamshire, Howard Roberts says we should prescribe drug addicts heroin. The thinking is they would then no longer need to commit crime to fund their habit. You can read the BBC's article here.

I agree. However I would go a little further. I would prescribe heroin to anyone who could show they were an addict as soon as possible. This would also have the effect of cutting drug dealers income stream as well as reducing the need for crime.

Whilst drug addicts are going for their regular fix, you also have the opportunity to try and get them off heroin and rehabilitated which is also a good thing.

In short, we could reduce crime, make life harder for drug dealers, have regular contact with addicts so enabling us to rehabilitate some and make sure doses are clean and correct (saving on drug overdoses and other problems with badly cut heroin).

Looks like a win win situation to me.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

What happens here is the future of the world's security in the 21st century


Any chance of some more kit?





I have just read this from the BBC on Tony Blair's visit to Afghanistan. We already know that he communicates with his commanders in the field by the press megaphone, we also know that the only way they think they can reply is also by the press megaphone. You can read my article on the subject here.

It is just a bit of a shame Tony has only just noticed.

Having said that I like this quote:

"So what do you do?" Tony Blair asked one of the snipers, lined up to represent the garrison for a 90-minute trip to Camp Bastion.

He looked down at his long-barrelled rifle, shrugged as if to say "what do you think?"

No, go on Tony, tell us what you think a sniper does with a snipers rifle?

Monday, November 20, 2006

And the 3,000th visitor was Ellee Seymour!

Just crossed over another milestone, 3,000 visitors since June 26th 2006, and not all of them me!

Ellee also comments as well. Feel free to coment your self.

You can visit Ellee's blog here.

Update 20:24

I forgot to mention that I also got No. 41 in Iain Dale's top 100 Conservative blogs!

Iain Dale Guide to Blogging

Sunday, November 19, 2006

John Reid is taking up an interesting position

Much has been made of the Attorney General, Tony's mate, Lord Goldsmiths comments on extending the detention without charge of terrorist suspects beyond 90 days. You can read the BBC's article here.

His position is clear. No, because he has seen no evidence to support an increase as yet. This is broadly the position of the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats as well, though I expect those parties to be harder to convince.

However what has interested me is Dr. John "Comrade" Reid's position. You will remember him as Secretary of State for making Ghengis Khan look like a Liberal the Home Office. His words are different to Lord "Sorry I can't get you off this time Tony" Goldsmith, but mean the same.

He is reviewing the position but appears as yet not to have seen any evidence to convince him. In other words I can't see we need the extension. Meanwhile Gordon Brown has been saying he supports an extension to 90 days which Sir Ian Blair (who I wrote ought to be sacked) backed in a speech in Germany.

To be fair John Prescott seemed a bit dubious as well the other week. He indicated that parliament had decided, and if it was going to revisit the case then there would have to be evidence.

So what is the story and why is it interesting? It seems to me that Comrade Reid had been jogging off gently to the right, all the time keeping an eye over his shoulder at what Gordon "I want your pensions" Brown was doing. Gordon obviously seeing this gap open up on the right of Ghengis Khan started running desperately to catch up, and out Reid Reid. Except that as soon as Gordon started running it seems Reid stopped for breath, and now Gordon has sprinted past Reid on the right, Reid is sauntering back to more sensible ground, making Gordon look very very bad to the key electorate, that is those who will elect the next labour leader.

Fascinating game play by by John Reid. I think he has totally wrong footed Brown on this one, but both are playing politics with the war on terror which is unforgivable.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Iraq a disaster, Blair in denial

So we have this mess in Iraq, and our dear leader Tony Blair gets interviewed by David Frost on Al Jazeera's English service. You can read the Al Jazeera article here.

What struck me though was not Blair's alleged admission that the violence since the invasion has been a disaster, but what he said next. This was of corse to David Frost asking if Iraq has become a disaster.

I quote:

"It has, but you see what I say to people is why is it difficult in Iraq?

"It's not difficult because of some accident in planning, it's difficult because there's a deliberate strategy - al-Qaeda with Sunni insurgents on one hand, Iranian-backed elements with Shia militias on the other - to create a situation in which the will of the majority for peace is displaced by the will of the minority for war."

Sorry? What? It is not because of some accident in planning? It's all down to the bad guys who should have been what? Less bad? Is this man really such a pratt? The idea behind planning is to have a plan for a number of potential scenarios not just a single wishful thinking one. What was he expecting? Al Qaeda to just roll over and play dead?

There were massive mistakes in the planning which were foreseen by many people especially planners in the Pentagon and State Department. I have listed them in my article here. The fact that he can't see just how badly planned and resourced the mission was indicates that he is in a state of total denial. Clearly he has become a major liability. A was leader needs a brain that works.

You can read more on Iraq here.

Nationwide Laptop Theft

Apparently in August a Nationwide employee had a laptop stolen. No problem there. Just buy another one. However according to this report from the BBC there is data on 11 million customers on there.

Here is where I have a huge issue. We have large data centers storing masses of information on customers behind carefully constructed security barriers and some pratt can simply take all the data out on their laptop where it is fundamentally insecure.

This is also not the first time this sort of thing has happened. Laptops have been lost and stolen containing all sorts of sensitive information.

This should NEVER EVER happen as the laptops need never have such information on them. If you need to work from home as well as work, fine, you can get a desktop in the company behind all the security via secure VPN's and a terminal server type session.

There is no excuse for this sort of lax security. Nationwide are not alone in being this stupid with OUR data. Government has form on this sort of stupidity as well.

Looking on the bright side the laptop may have been formated and sold for peanuts so the data may have been shredded already.

Lord David Owen is a Liar

I have just heard an interview with Lord David "hide in a corner" Owen on the shambles in Iraq. Apparently he supported the war but thinks its a mess.

On that point we agree.

He thinks that this is worse than Suez and as bad as Gallipoli. He also found it wrong that we can't have an inquiry. There I agree.

He then went on the allege that whilst he as a member of the SDP and behind the Falklands war he, and indeed all opposition parties wanted an inquiry into that which they got.

This is where I have a problem. I remember watching this pratt say before the fleet got to work in the liberation of the Falklands, saying that we had lost the Falklands and we might as well give up.

Well that is what you get with these people. Founding father of the Lib Dems. No surprise at his mendacity then.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Important: Health, Safety and Environment

Last Saturday I bought, or rather a friend who was going to Focus Do It All bought me a 7lb sledge hammer.

It had a health an safety notice on it which can be paraphrased thus:

"Whilst this hammer can hit hard, don't hit anything hard with it"
Strange. What it actually said was, and I quote:

"Use this hammer to drive and pull common nails only"
What? Pull nails? it doesn't have a claw so how are you going to do that? Besides which what is a common nail, and why use such a large hammer to drive one in? Any way, it goes on:

"Never strike tool, hardened nails or other hard objects as chipping can occur, possibly resulting in eye damage or other injury.

So don't strike your tool with a sledge hammer. You have been warned!

Cash for peerages This weeks roundup

This has all been covered elsewhere but:

There seem to have been two interesting developments. Firstly Guido unearthed this letter from Yates of the Yard to Dr. Tony Wright of the Public Administration Select Committee. It appears to have been leaked AFTER Yates sent it. The MSM have now picked up and run with Guido's scoop, though I do not recall him being given any credit for it.

Then we have the Telegraph saying that Tony Blair is going to use the Abu Hamza Defence to get out of this mess alleging that he has been tried by media and unfair leaks. The article is here. Iain Dales says this, whilst Guido has this.

Interestingly enough in Yates letter he makes it clear that he is confident that his lot are not leaking, and those leaks are coming from elsewhere. He also says that he knows it is not his lot because there is much significant material that has not been leaked.

Guido makes much here of this reported labour NEC meeting where Ann Black says Tony Blair asked for loans because donors would not give for fear of being lambasted in the press, and wanted to stay anonymous. Guido and the Evening Standard point out that Labour donors did not want to remain anonymous, they offered donations first but were turned down in favour of loans.

Guido then quotes the relevant part of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000, which says that covering up donations is a very naughty thing to do.

So what do we know so far?

Well Yates of the yard is investigating possible offences under The Honours, Prevention of Abuses Act 1925 and the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 but only in relation to 2005.

He appears to have uncovered significant material. He hopes to be able to pass the file to the CPS in January 2007, provided that he gets cooperation from those involved and his investigations do not end up leading elsewhere.

He has interviewed 90 people so far.
35 in the Labour Party,
29 in the Conservative party
4 in the Liberal Democrats
22 people not in a party.

He has sent letters to ministers to stop any last minute Burrell type interventions (that is where some one remembers something at the last minute that exonerates someone). See here for more info.

Whilst lots of people have said there will be nothing to find, clearly if the Abu Hamza defence story is correct then Tony Blair is becoming very worried.

We also know that Labour donors were happy to donate and publicly too. It appears it was the fund raisers who did not want donation information getting out.

You can read more articles on cash for peerages here.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Question time tonight

Apparently Question Time tonight will feature:
Boris Johnson MP
Tony McNulty MP
Baroness Bonham-Carter
Shappi Khorsandi
Robert "The Tangerine Man" Kilroy Silk MEP

If you are a fan of the Tangerine Man, have a look at this song and animation. It is really rather good, and funny as well.

(Hat tip to Max on

Fisking the Queen's Speech

The full text of the Queen's speech can be found on the BBC's website here.

"My lords and members of the House of Commons, my government will pursue policies aimed at meeting the challenges which the United Kingdom faces at home and abroad."
Fair enough.

"A stable economy is the foundation of a fair and prosperous society. My government will continue to maintain low inflation, sound public finances and high employment."
You jest surely? Inflation is on the up or rather the RPI is, the governments fiddle figures are a little down but higher than target, Gordon Brown is borrowing hand over fist and ahead of projections, whilst we have had continuous growth since 1992, and whilst employment may be high, unemployment continues to rise which begs the question, who is getting all the jobs? On top of this interest rates are up, which is not going to reduce unemployment.

"At the heart of my government's programme will be further action to provide strong, secure and stable communities, and to address the threat of terrorism.

My government will put victims at the heart of the criminal justice system, support the police and all those responsible for the public's safety, and proceed with the development of ID cards."
Victims at the heart of the Criminal Justice system? We heard similar in the 2002 Queen's Speech, so you would hope that was job done, no? But what have ID cards got to do with public safety? Are they going to be bullet proof?

"A bill will be brought forward for the next stage of reform of the criminal justice system, giving the police and probation services new powers to protect the public from violent offenders and anti-social behaviour."
How nice. 63 Acts on the subject in 9 years and we need more? You just cannot be serious? What have you done with the rest of them? We get more legislation on this subject in 1 year with this lot than in the previous 50. Quite a lot goes unenforced, gets repealed or is unworkable. How about "My government will tidy up the laws it has already passed and enforce some of them?

"Legislation will be introduced to improve the way that offenders are managed and supervised."
You need legislation to tell your civil servants what to do? Priceless.

"Measures will be brought forward to give law enforcement agencies new powers to combat serious and organised crime."
The Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 no good then? I have to agree that the lot that passed that bill were useless so you may be right. Oh no! Hang on a minute, that was from the 2004 Queen's speech. You can't accuse this Government for not doing it's bit for recycling.

"A bill will be introduced to provide the immigration service with further powers to police the country's borders, tackle immigration crime, and to make it easier to deport those who break the law."
They don't need any more powers, they need the resource to enforce the ones they have. As for deporting criminals, the Home Secretary has the power under the 1971 Immigration Act can exclude any foreign national on the grounds of the public good. In short there are powers a plenty. It is a resource issue.

"A bill will be introduced to provide for trials without a jury in serious fraud cases."
The Americans can try the Enron case, one of the most costly and complex frauds with a jury in a timely fashion, but you want to rid us of basic constitutional protection because you can't organise a court case? Brilliant!

"Legislation will be brought forward to improve the administration of justice by reforming the tribunal system, the qualifications for judicial appointment and the enforcement of judgments."
Hmm.. We have seen this sort of thing before, for example in the Access to Justice Act 1999. I will have to wait to see what exactly it is that they propose.

"My government will publish a bill on climate change as part of its policy to protect the environment, consistent with the need to secure long-term energy supplies."
Jolly good. Shame about the record. It is after all worse than the previous Conservative Government. Let us see how it pans out.

"My government will continue its investment in, and reforms of, the public services in order to improve further their effectiveness and to help the most vulnerable members of society."
Don't mention the hospital closures, I did, but I think I got away with it. Or indeed the lay offs, IT fiasco's, golly gosh there is so much to say on how money has just been tipped down the drain it is not true.

"My government will take forward legislation to reform the welfare system, and to reduce poverty."
Any chance of getting tax credits working properly so I don't get letters like this? Or indeed two contradictory letters in the same day?

"A bill will be introduced to improve the system of child support."
Yet another attempt to fix the CSA?

"A bill will be introduced providing for long-term reform of pensions."
Can't argue with that level of detail.

"Legislation will provide for free off-peak local bus travel for pensioners and disabled people."
Don't they already get this?

"My government's programme of educational reform will continue to raise standards in schools to help all children achieve their full potential."
Will it now? University lecturers and employers remain to be convinced that school leavers can read or write properly, which is understandable, especially when you hear stories like this or this.

"A bill will be introduced to reform the further education system so that it can better equip people with the skills that they and the economy need."
Is that an end to media studies then? See above. Lets start with being able to read and write like everyone else.

"My government will carry through the modernisation of healthcare based on the founding principles of the National Health Service."
Principles? Tony Blair? Now that would be new. Any chance West Sussex can keep its last remaining major hospital?
"A bill will be introduced to provide a better framework for treating people with mental disorders."
I see. So what happened to similar proposals in the 2004 and 2005 Queen's Speeches then?

"Draft proposals will be published to reform the regulation of human embryology.

A draft bill will be published to tackle road congestion and to improve public transport.

My government will publish proposals to reform the planning system."
Difficult to argue with this level of detail. Of course John "two jags" Prescot did have a ten year plan on transport and congestion reduction has featured in the 1999 and 1998 Queen's speech.

I wonder what they think is wrong with the HFEA or the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990, but no doubt we will find out.

I suspect the planning system reform will be controversial in some quarters as it is already the case that a Councilor who has a published view or indeed was elected upon some position on a planning issue can't vote on it. I suspect the reform means make it easier to concrete over land and objectors.

"Legislation will provide for improved arrangements for consumer advocacy and for the regulation of estate agents."
Fair enough. We will see what they come up with. After all Home Information Packs have gone down a storm. Right Move were particularly impressed.

"My government will also continue its programme of reform to provide institutions that better serve a modern democracy. It will work to build a consensus on reform of the House of Lords and will bring forward proposals."
Cash for Peerages anyone?

"Bills will provide for reform of local government and enhanced powers for the Mayor and Assembly for London.

Legislation will be introduced to create an independent board to enhance confidence in government statistics."
We will have to see on that.

"Members of the House of Commons. Estimates for the public services will be laid before you."
If they are as good as Gordon Brown's long term borrowing predictions don't bother. I'll get a mates telephone number, multiply it by my own double it then add a random number.

"My lords and members of the House of Commons. My government will work closely with the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales."
That's going to be fun after next May's elections!

"My government will work towards the restoration of devolution in Northern Ireland, including by bringing forward legislation."

Good luck. Give my regards to Dr. No!

"The Duke of Edinburgh and I look forward to our State Visit to the United States of America in May 2007 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the Jamestown Settlement.

We also look forward to receiving the President of Ghana and Mrs Kufuor."

Can't argue with that.

"My government remains committed to peace in the Middle East. It will continue
to work to find a lasting settlement between Israel and the Palestinians, to support the new Iraqi government in its efforts to build an enduring constitutional settlement, and to assist the government of Afghanistan."
Would have been nice to have a plan for peace in Iraq. Would have stopped Iraq becoming such a mess.

"My government will work with the United Nations and European Union partners to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction, including addressing international concerns over North Korea and Iran, and to promote good governance.

My government will continue to work to build an effective and globally competitive European Union and will also work to strengthen the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

My government will contribute to a modern and inclusive United Nations and will work to take forward the World Trade Organisation Doha talks.

My government will continue its focus on Africa, including by seeking a resolution to the crisis in Darfur. I look forward to visiting Kampala next year for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

My government will work to foster a strong partnership between Europe and the United States of America in order to meet these objectives."

Sounds 'nice'.

"Other measures will be laid before you."
I have no doubt.

"My Lords and Members of the House of Commons: I pray that the blessing of Almighty God may rest upon your counsels."

With this lot in charge I pray as well.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Speakers Corner

I have been asked in a previous thread to revive my speakers corner semi private news server with web interface that started by ripping articles from No 10's website message board also called speakers corner.

If you were a contributor to that and would like me to start it up again, email me using the email me link or leave a comment and I will see what I can do.

Labour Spam

A little while before the last election I visited the Labour party website, and found a section where they promised to tell me how much public services have improved since 1997.

Keeping an eye on the local press and community I knew they were talking rubbish, but wanted to find out what they had to say.

I had to enter my postcode, (fair enough they need to know where abouts I am) and unfortunately an email address.

No where did it indicate that they were going to send emails to that email address. Yet they do. It is unsolicited. It is spam.

There is an unsubscribe link, which I would use had I actually subscribed, but as I have not, I won't.

Now, I know a bit about spam. I work in it quite a lot and also report spammers quite a lot.

If Labour continue to send me spam email, I will have them blacklisted. So if you know any one at Labour HQ, tell them to do opt in, or all their mail will end up getting blocked by RBL's and the like.

They can't say they have not been warned.

That Queen's speech in full

My Government will bring forth more hair brained schemes and laws which make Ghengis Khan look like a liberal.

My government will try to hood wink the population into voting for them by passing more laws on things like immigration when they clearly can't be arsed to enforce the ones we have got. Any questioning of their position will be lambasted as "soft on crime" despite the said laws being a combination of over authoritarian, unworkable, and in many case will be shortly be repealed when no one is looking.

You can read the BBC's article here, and the text here.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Thanks be to the mercy of God

I know I am a soppy old git, but I did fear for obvious reasons for the safety of the innocent people abducted in Bagdhad this morning.

I am so pleased to hear that they have all been freed unharmed (ish) that it brings tears to my eyes.

More importantly it looks like arrests have been made.

I have written much on why Iraq is in this mess, but I do hope and pray that Iraq gets out of it. Iraqi's are good and brave people, of whom I know a few.

I read a report from the New York times once of 1948, of the bravery of Iraqi volunteers who whilst out numbered and outgunned fought to the very last man to defend the village they said they would defend during the Naqba (or Israeli war of Independence depending which way you look at it). They can be very very brave.

Iraq does not deserve or need this shit, and I hope and pray for their deliverance.

You can read the BBC report on the good news here.

Iran and Syria the Axis of peace?

You just could not make this up.

When the Taliban were overthrown, Iran helped, because the Taliban were the enemy and more so than America. They got nothing for it other than the most bizarre accusations that Iran, a Shia theocracy would be hosting Sunni extremists so hard line that they executed Shia Muslims in Afghanistan.

Syria has been cold shouldered as well.

This is because Donald Rumsfeld's plan was going to impress them so much, they would be left quaking in their boots.


Looks like utter arrogance to me.

You can read my take on why we are in this mess in Iraq here, All my articles on Iraq here, and on Afghanistan here. You can read this article from the Libdemograph Independent here.

However, one thing I would say, is this:

  • If you are going to bluff, make sure they don't see you (and they have)
  • If you are going to negotiate do so from strength, before they have seen your hand.
We are completely buggered as far as the Middle and near East is concerned because we look like a busted flush.

It need not have been this way. We could have used our brains.

Winston Churchill said "Jaw jaw is better than war war". He was right. You talk right up until the time you have to present a war ultimatum. Then you go to war. You can't sit around picking and choosing who you do and don't talk to or else you end up looking like a bunch of pratts.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Vote early vote often- Consumer Action and the Environment

I heard that Environment Minister Ben Bradshaw has had a meeting with supermarkets about waste packaging. You can read a brief report from the BBC here.

The supermarkets have been making noises about this quite a lot. That however seems to about cover it. Noises.

Some environmental groups seem to think that only regulation will bring big business to heal. The problem with this is that you get cumbersome regulations that cost money and are frequently not up to date.

We as consumers vote every time we open our wallets. Big business is in this to make money, and if we alter our "voting" patterns they will notice.

Take this one example. Cauliflowers. I saw Sainsbury's selling small extra trimmed cauliflowers in clear plastic boxes. Bizarre. They seem to have removed natures packaging in favour of some plastic. The same is true of cabbages. They grow prepacked. No need for more.

Paper bags are easier to recycle and whats more are better for the veg.

So when we see dopey behaviour, lets act.

We can refuse to buy over packed products, we can call management over every time we see something that stupid and complain. Maybe even make a scene. Write letters. Bring back excess packaging next time you visit, and leave it in the foyer.

Concerted consumer action can make a difference and get things moving quicker. If business is hit in the pocket it will change, and fast.

ASBO, ASBO little law,

I heard this on this mornings Today program, on Radio 4, and thought I would share it.

Anti-social Behaviour Orders
(to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star)

ASBO, ASBO little law,
How we wonder what you're for,
Chavs and yobs who love to fight
Terrorise us every night.
Toothless, useless little law,
How we wonder what you're for.

On the streets with hoods and knives,
How they terrorise our lives.
Though they all should be in bed,
All you do is boost their cred.
ASBO, ASBO can't you see
You are an accessory.

ASBO, ASBO, little law,
How we wonder what you're for,
Words will never rule the street,
We need coppers on the beat.
Toothless, useless, little law,
How we wonder what you're for.

This is from Felix Denis's book, When Jack Sued Jill: Nursery Rhymes For Modern Times.

See his website here.

Update 14:07:

I got the above from Maxim magazine's webiste, via this link.

I did not realise at the time that Felix owns maxim, and Dennis publishing.

I don't often agree with Ehud Olmert but...

According to a report I heard on BBC news 24, Israel wants to open talks with Syria to achieve peace, and thereby cleave Syria from Iran.

I have heard similar rumblings before.

The downside is that the report also indicated that the American government is against this policy because the think Syria has not done enough to guard the border with Iraq. I think at this point it is worth pointing out that America has trouble policing it's border with Mexico, but is far more wealthy than Syria, so that complaint is a bit rich.

What with the potential for trouble in the Lebanon, Israels mover here could be useful. I hope George Bush's fit of arrogance does not scupper it.

I have written on Iraq's border issues and general mess there here.

Hugging Hoodies! Part III, Tough love and the Mendacity of John Reid

On November the 2nd, David Cameron gave a speech to the Annual Convention of the Youth Justice Board in Cardiff. His speech is here.

John Reid wrote a comment piece in yesterdays Sunday Telegraph. It reminded me of why I wanted to throw metaphorical bricks at the TV during the 2005 general election. He just misrepresents everyone elses policies and statements. That garbage article is here.

In David Cameron's speech he talked of tough love rather than sentimental love and laid out some very startling facts. On the other hand Comrade Reid said things like:

"Tackling crime is a priority for any government. Of course we need to understand why crime occurs, and tackle the causes. But anyone who thinks that tackling crime, including youth crime, can be delivered by more love and hugs alone is wide of the mark."

Who was supposed to have said anything of the sort? has this man read any of Cameron's speeches on the subject? He is all in favour of banging people up when they have committed a crime. He has said so many times, including in the above speech.

Reid then concludes:

"The dividing line between David Cameron and me now seems clear. Tough love with Labour or "just love" with the Tories: an important dividing line for the coming year in parliament. With respect to David's Notting Hill Set, I think I know who is more in tune with the vast majority of the British people."


What did Cameron say about love?

"But I also said that to build a safe and civilised society for the long-term, we have to look at what goes on inside the boundaries, within the pale.

We have to show a lot more love.

By that I don't mean sentimental, childish love which sees no wrong in anyone.

I mean tough love - love that values people, and therefore demands high standards from them.

Love that respects people - and so expects a lot from them.

And that's the job of society."

So there is Reid again mendaciously misrepresenting David Cameron's position.

However, here are some stats lifted from David Cameron's speech which ought to make you think and indeed concern you.

Of the criminals in young offender institutions:

  • 85 per cent of them have mental health issues.
  • Half of them spent time in care or under social service supervision as a child.
  • Over half of them are addicted to drugs or alcohol.
  • 40 per cent of boys suffered violence at home.
  • A third of girls suffered sexual abuse.
Well, if that is not shocking enough to make you think we need a multi pronged approach, there is this series of statistics on the implementation of the The Criminal Justice Act of 2000, after six years.

  • 110 of its provisions are not in force.
  • 39 have been, or are being, repealed altogether.
  • 17 were repealed before they ever came into force.
laughable isn't it. So when Dr John "Comrade" Reid says he will be tough on crime, what he actually means is that Labour will pass more laws they will probably fail to enforce.

You can read other articles from this blog on hugging hoodies, or youth crime at this link.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Cash for Peerages, Sunday morning update.


The Sunday Torygraph Telegraph seems to have caught up with the Yates of the Yard letters to Ministers here, but it's angle or rather headline is "Yates offers ministers a way to clear their names" whilst the story seems a bit of rehash of this article on my blog, inspired by Channel 4 news. That is to say, Yates is making very sure no one has any last minute recollections during a trial.

However the article does seem to confirm that speculation, but also adds to the thinking on the loan issue. The report does say Tony Blair will be interviewed under caution but not arrested.

On the loans issue, Tony is to claim that the party needed the loans from private individuals because it could not get them from banks. The Sunday Times claims otherwise here. Guido has many articles on why Labour can't get money from banks, and in and of itself that excuse is fair enough, until you remember that many people who made the loans were prepared to offer donations not loans. Guido has also covered that before, but in this article by the Sunday Times, the drift is that Tony Blair told the NEC that the loans were needed because there was no cash. Spot the lie error?

The Sunday Times article also seems to try to draw Gordon Brown into the scandal a bit as well. Mind you there has been speculation in the blogosphere that Gordon can't deny all knowledge as he ended up being election supremo. Alan Milburn can't be that happy either.

The LibDemograph Independent on Sunday appears to have no news here, essentially rehashing how or why loans to Labour in the 2005 accounts were not declared in the 2004 accounts. It claims to have "experts" who say that it should have been mentioned. I remain to be convinced. It is also claimed that this story is an exclusive despite the fact that this stuff has been out for ages, in some parts of the MSM but also all over the blogosphere. Yates is also apparently now considers Tony Blair to be pivotal in the investigation. Between you and me I think Yates thought that last week, or possibly the week before , but I may be wrong.

The Fascist Mail on Sunday on the other hand goes with Downing Streets fury over how long the investigation is taking, and Police leaks, as well as how Yates of the Yard seems to be looking for bodies. Bizarre surely?

Firstly the government has been leaking left right and center on this, so it is more than a bit rich to moan about leaks, secondly this sort of investigation, if done properly will always take a bit of time, and thirdly the evidence seems to be leading to Tony Blair, so what do you think the police should do? They can't very well look at the usual suspects can they? There are not any for this sort of offence. Its not shoplifting after all.

Sir Ian Blair, The Metropolitan Police Chief needs to go

Sir Ian Blair, The Metropolitan Police Chief has been getting involved in politics again. The BBC's report is here.

Members of the Police service are not allowed to be involved in political activity, yet this pratt just does not know when to shut up.

He gave a speech in Germany yesterday, in which he called for various things, including a review of the 28 day detention period without charge for terror suspects.

Some of what he said does have merit, however you either want to live in a state where the Police can take to the airwaves to side with on party in a political debate or you don't.

I do not want to live in a police state, do you?

The gibbering idiot Metropolitan Police Chief said in an interview with the BBC after the speech that in the case of the plane bombing plot that they just made it with 24 suspects, they might not have with 48. Doh! They made it within the deadline because the deadline was there. If it was longer, they would have taken longer.

We need this sort of political intervention from the Police like we need a hole in the head. He must go!

Update 02:10

I forgot to mention that Sir pratt Ian mentioned how German prosecutors could hold people for up to a year without charge, obviously he has no idea of why we lay poppies at this time of year.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

We apologise for the strong language!

I was watching The Somme on Channel 4. At the end the announcer said:

"We apologise for the strong language in that broadcast"


For the fallen

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We will remember them.

For the Fallen, by Laurence Binyon

Remember Armistice day, and the millions who have given their lives to keep us free, from this country and throughout the Common Wealth.

Please also support the Royal British Legions appeal to mark Armistice day.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Cash for peerages - On sale on Ebay!

Out of interest, and a bit of vanity I did this search on google which got me this result.

Note the circled sponsored ad!

Makes you laugh doesn't it! I wonder if anyone has told Yates of the Yard!

Cash for peerages It's all our fault - Official!

I was just going to provide a little bit of commentary and link to the various stories on the Internet when I came across this master piece in the Daily Torygraph Telegraph.

Apparently Lord Cashpoint Levy blames us Conservatives for giving him the idea of loans! He is said to now wish he had never heard of these things!

Cheeky git!

However the story does also say:

"It was Labour's decision to deliberately withhold details of its £14 million from the election authorities in contrast to the Tories that has put the party at the centre of the current investigation."

Make of that what you will.

Meanwhile Mike Smithson of dug up these two gems from the Libdemograph Independent, here and here. The second is a comment article you have to pay to read. Hmm.. When you can get lots of informed comment on the internet why pay?

The first article alleges that only Tony Blair and Ian McCartney new of the loans scandal as it was happening. rather more amusingly Labour are worried that Tony Blair may become the main focus of the inquiry.

What did they think was going to happen?

Also apparently some Downing street staff are being very helpful. Good!

From what I can see of the comment article Matthew Norman thinks Tony is quaking in No 10. I suspect he is right there.

Apparently in unrelated news (yeah right!) Lord Sainsbury, Labours biggest donor has resigned as Minister for Science. Guido got to the news first, here, followed by the MSM later. This is being spun as going for personal reasons. Does he want to be able to flee the country with out his police minders?

You can read the Telegraphs article here, BBC here, and Evening Standard here.

The Mess in Iraq, It's all our fault - Official!

Yesterday watching Channel 4's 7 O'clock news I happened across an interview with former Assistant Secretary of Defence Ken Adelman. You know the one, the fella who kept popping up saying how well it was going, and how right it was.

Well tonight he blamed us for the mess. I have written about why we are in this mess in Iraq here.

Ken's says we should have known that L. Paul Bremer was making mistakes and should have done something about it.

We should have resisted the various mistakes made. Like making 500,000 armed men unemployed.

What a cheeky yank!

But he is right. We have experience in these things the Americans lack, and we should have said do it our way or we pull the plug. End of.

Meanwhile in other news Donald Rumsfeld the former incompetent pratt Secretary of State for endangering America Defence has said the problem is the USA has not got the historic experience of dealing with occupation and insurgency. Two things I'd like to say.

  1. Why not listen to the State Department's 900 page plan instead of tossing it in the bin.
  2. Ask the worlds authority on occupying land, the British Government.
Just goes to show what an arrogant pratt Donald is really.

Bit cheeky to blame it on us though.

Lastly I have heard several interviews over the last few days explaining away the mess in Iraq and they all seem to refer to the points I raised in this article, which are listed below:

  • The coalition forces failed to impose martial law when they captured areas, because they just did not have the men or the will.
  • They failed to plan to have a working police force.
  • They made 500,000 armed men unemployed.
  • They failed to guard the ammunition dumps.
  • They failed to guard the borders.
  • They failed to understand who the losers would be in the liberation of Iraq.
  • They made political blunders of epic proportions.
Thing is that the State department and many Generals in the Pentagon saw this before the war, as indeed did I. Not rocket science is it?

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Evening Standard gets it wrong in Cash for Peerages scandal!

In today's online edition of the Evening Standard (The article is dated the 8th though) there is an article with the head line:

Blair to escape indignity of first PM to be quizzed by police

It is an interesting article rehashing quite a lot of what we already knew. the body of the article indicates that the Police will not hand over the file to the CPS until 2007, and it will take the CPS several months to decide whether to charge or not. They contend (Possibly wrongly) that Blair will go in May. He might, but all he has actually promised is not to be leader by the time of the next party conference. That is all fair enough, but it seems to me that the Police WILL quiz Tony Blair before they hand over the file to the CPS, which then seems to be early 2007, in other words before May.

Would be nice if journalists read what they write. Us bloggers don't get paid they do.

There is of course more news on Guido's blog here.

UPDATE 16.13

I have just checked, and that was in yesterdays paper edition. Today's paper edition would like to correct the idea that TB is consulting lawyers. Apparently he isn't. It would also like to say that Tony may be the first PM since Lloyd George to be quizzed by the police, except that's wrong too. The law was passed after Lloyd George ceased to be PM. Nice to know they are trying hard to be accurate.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Cash for Peerages, another update.

Well, bringing all the stories of today together so far...

Guido has seen Lord Goldsmith, the Attorney General's letter to Dominic Grieve, the Conservative shadow Attorney General and has it published here.

The long and the short of it is that Lord Goldsmith intends to be involved where in the prosecution process where the law requires that his consent is required. He does however say that he will seek independent legal advice from senior council. If he veto's a prosecution he will say why. How nice.

Meanwhile there have been reports that all cabinet members during the 2005 election have been written to by the police asking them to state their position on the cash for peerages scandal. You can read the BBC's report here.

Chanel 4's 7 o'clock news speculated as to why Yates of the Yard would want to ask everyone in the cabinet about the scandal, and indeed 5 have been interviewed including Alan Milburn and Patricia Hewitt. Alan Milburn said he had been interviewed as a witness not a suspect.

Channel 4 news pointed out that Yates of the Yard has been involved in some very high profile cases before, including the Paul Burrell theft case which collapsed in 2002 when the Queen suddenly remembered something just before Paul Burrell was going to take the stand. The speculation is that Yates does not want a repeat of this, so his aim is to make sure that no one recalls having recommended someone for an honour once charges have been laid, as they will have been questioned first. Good thinking Inspector Yates. Cover your bases these are Liars politicians we are talking about.

You can read about the Burrell trial here and hear. You can read the BBC's profile of Deputy Assistant Commissioner John Yates here.

Donald Rumsfeld resigns!


Donald Rumsfeld the incompetent pratt Secretary for Defence of the United States has resigned. Good. You can read the BBC's article here.

Donald is a very clever man. He calculated very well the exact amount of troops and equipment to defeat the Iraqi army of Saddam Husein. Unfortunately he was just to stupid to realise that winning the war was only the minutest part of the task, and that winning the peace is what counts.

He was advised about the recklessness of his proposed course by experienced generals. He did not like what they said so retired them. It is without doubt that the mess in Iraq is largely his fault. However George W Bush's judgement has to be questioned. Rumsfeld should have been sent packing long ago.

I wrote an article on why we are in this mess in Iraq here. Below is a summary from that article of what coalition forces failed to do.

  • The coalition forces failed to impose martial law when they captured areas, because they just did not have the men or the will.
  • They failed to plan to have a working police force.
  • They made 500,000 armed men unemployed.
  • They failed to guard the ammunition dumps.
  • They failed to guard the borders.
  • They failed to understand who the losers would be in the liberation of Iraq.
  • They made political blunders of epic proportions.
The blood of many coalition troops, and Iraqi's civilians or otherwise is on Rumsfeld's hands.

Lastly a Conservative government should be competent, fiscally prudent and pragmatic. The current US administration is none of these things. I look forward to a proper conservative government in the US in 2008.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Cash for peerages - A clarification?

On the way home from work I heard that Lord Goldsmith the Attorney General had yet again insisted that he will not stand aside in the decision making process as he thinks his consent is needed for a prosecution under the Honours, Prevention of Abuses Act 1925.

However when I got home I read this on the BBC news website, according to which Lord Goldsmith has written to his shadow Dominic Grieve to say that he need not be involved in those decisions but his consent may be needed as a matter of law in some corruption cases.

Meanwhile Guido appears to have unearthed Lord "Cheerful Charlie" Falconer saying that Lord Goldsmith would stand aside in evidence to a select committee back in April. You can read his article here.

Well, it's so very unlike Lord Goldsmith to change his legal tune when pressed isn't it? He's never done that before.

Cash for peerages - late breaking news

Well, according to the LibDemograph Independent, Lord Goldsmith the Attorney general has now bowed to pressure to stand aside from any decision over prosecuting Tony Blair in the cash for peerages row. You can read the article here.

Bizarrely according to some reports, The Honours, prevention of Abuses Act 1925 does require the Attorney General to approve of ANY prosecution under the act.

This bit of legal information is of course acquired from journalists, who in the public mind are a shade less reliable than an estate agent, but there you go. I can't comment as the act is not online, nor have I had reason to seek legal advice on the issue as I have never been in a position to buy or sell an honour.

What is interesting though is that the report as far as it goes does leave the Attorney General in a position to quash all other potential charges. If the above reports are correct then clearly parliament in 1925 either had no idea of just how low the publics opinion of politicians would sink, or were merely outlawing the opposition selling honours.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Reid wins battle with Brown over Queens speech

According to Martha Kearney on BBC2's Newsnight, Dr John "Comrade" Reid has got the Queens speech focusing on security.

The Queens speech deals with the Governments legislation program for the coming year.

What new laws do we need? Killing people has been against the law since Babylonian times. Conspiracy to Murder since the 1861 Offences against the people act (Also murder is in there too).

Security is a matter of executive action not parliamentary action. There are plenty of laws out there to deal with the threats we face. The only issue there may be is changing the rules of evidence in court so that we can use our own wire tap evidence rather than having to use Belgian stuff.

You therefor have to assume that what is going to be in the Queen's speech is a mindless pointless attack on civil liberties which will further alienate disaffected Muslims, whilst executive inaction keeps us unsafe in our beds at night.

Fantastic! You could not make it up.

In further news, ID cards to save the world before breakfast. Sounds fantastic I know, but it is substantially more plausible than the claims the Government makes for them.

Cash for peerages update.

For those who are not up to speed on the issue, don't read Guido or the Evening standard, here are today's developments.

Firstly The Director of Public Prosecutions (head of the CPS) Ken MacDonald has stepped aside from any consideration of the case because he had a professional relationship with Cheri Blair. Quite right too. Shows the man has integrity. However apparently according to the Evening Standard he is also threatening to resign if a prosecution is blocked. You can read the article here.

Secondly despite the close relationship Lord Goldsmith, the Attorney General has to Tony Blair, he is insisting he will not stand aside from the decision making process leading to much gnashing of teeth. Bizarre. You can read the article in the Evening Standard here.

I would also check Guido out here.

Update 19:50

Firstly I just wanted to say that whilst the reported threat that the DPP Kevin McDonald would resign if the CPS decision to prosecute is over ruled is serious stuff, it could also be the result of badgering and clever question asking by a journalist who may for example have asked "If Lord Goldsmith over ruled the CPS in a decision to prosecute Tony Blair would you resign?" rather than an active statement on his part.

Secondly the most important part of the news above for me is Lord Goldsmiths failure to clearly step aside. No Judge or prosecutor could act where such a conflict of interest arose. If they did then there actions would have to be revisited, but also they would face serious disciplinary action.

Lastly I have heard that there is an incriminating email floating about putting Lord Levy in it up to his neck. If any one has any good links or info I would be grateful.

Here is what has been seen on Comment is Free.

Fisking Ruth Sunderland in the Observer.

I have never been found of the Grauniad or it's sister papers except they do provide some good laughs when quoted in Private eye.

However this article caught my eye as some one on linked to it.

Lets work through the air headedness of it.

"The latest crop of insolvency figures is horrific."
How good of you to notice.

"Loan addiction, as any debt counsellor will tell you, is as destructive to individuals and families as alcoholism or gambling, and we have become a nation of binge borrowers."
I'm not going to ask either what this means of what evidence backs this up as I doubt there is any. However people being in debt over there heads is an obvious problem and causes all sorts of problems. People can get used to living beyond there means because their credit rating has just given them lots of cash. So they spend up to their limits and pay the minimum payment or a bit more until the banks either increase their credit limit or they apply for another card.

"One major culprit is lenient insolvency legislation, which came into effect in 2004 and has encouraged people to walk away from their responsibilities."

I see. Would this be the Enterprise Act 2002 which in part amended the Insolvency Act 1986? It seems this rather silly statement assumes that people borrow lots of money in full knowledge of the new insolvency rules. Some how I doubt that very much as they are not that kind for people who like like they have run up massive debts prior to pulling the plug. Besides which most people live in total ignorance of the law. I suspect the problem might be that people can get what ever credit they like on things like credit cards as long as they are prepared to pay silly interest rates which they are not fully informed about.

"This was the brainchild of Gordon Brown, who wanted our system to be modelled on that of the US. The idea was that a more forgiving regime would encourage entrepreneurship."
Seems like a good idea to me. That said I think in the US credit card debt may not be provable in bankruptcy. That said in some states you get to keep the family home no matter how big it is.

"Yet company liquidations have fallen slightly, showing that the legislation has misfired. It is individual consumers who are behind the surge."
And? banks are more careful about lending to companies. Besides which if a company goes bust, it may well be the case that this causes personal insolvency for the owner or directors so we would need more information about where the debt came from to be sure.

"Bankruptcy-lite is not pain-free, as a borrower's credit rating will be flattened. But much of the stigma attached to insolvency has been removed - with predictable results."
Well in that case Gordon has achieved exactly what he set out to achieve. Therefore entrepreneurs will not be bothered about sailing close to the wind and will be more willing to take risks. Good. That said it does cause problems for borrowing more money.

"The only winners are firms such as Debt Free Direct and Accuma, which are cashing in by advising on IVAs."
Really? What about the people who have been the victims of irresponsible lending? Don't they win to some extent as well?

"The banks are seeing a tidal wave of bad debts, which prudent customers will end up funding."
Well, presumably prudent customers will decide not to deal with irresponsible banks. That is the free market after all.

"According to one industry executive, at least 2 million Britons are irretrievably indebted and will only clear their loans if they win the lottery. That is a major social problem."
I see. And just which bunch of shysters lent them this money? Did they not ask how much these people were earning or indeed what other debts they had? No. Why? Because they would rather lend the money, make a killing, and then get airheads to plead poverty for them in the press.

I wrote an article on this subject on the 2nd of October which you can read here. I detailed the steps banks could take to protect themselves. They choose not to. I list them below:

However the banks could also try responsible lending. They could when issuing new credit cards, ask:

* Have you got any other credit cards?
* If so what is the limit and balance?
* Can we see some statements please?
* Have you just been making the minimum payments?
It should of course be noted that Insolvency law comes under the remit of the DTI not the Treasury so i wonder how much this was Gordon's brainchild. Also the issue was and is unsustainable consumer debt rather than what insolvency law is. That clearly is a Treasury issue.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Bonfire safety tip

I was very saddened to hear that last night a man died at a bonfire because something inside it exploded, and launched itself at the man.

You can read the sad story here.

For as long as I can remember I have always followed the following practice.

If I am going to light a fire , I may gather everything together in advance but once I start building the fire I never leave it until it is alight. Not for one minute.

Occasionally I have bonfires on my allotment to get rid of garden waste and the sort of weeds you get in West Sussex (You get dandelions, we get those too, but we also get trees all over the place).

One time a friend has some stuff to burn, so he set up his bit before I got there. When I did get there with my stuff I realised that the fire had been left unattended and took it apart. There was an empty aerosol can in there which would have gone off like a bomb, causing injury.

So never ever leave a fire and then light it. By all means get everything ready, but when it is time to get it going build it from scratch. Please.