Sunday, December 31, 2006

My Predictions for 2007

Here are my predictions for 2007:

  • 2007 will start on January the 1st.
  • There will be charges in the Cash for Peerages/Honours scandal.
  • The threat of charges will cause canaries to sing.
  • Charges will be brought for obstructing the police investigation.
  • Gordon Brown will end up with a coronation in about September.
  • There will be no deputy leadership election either on grounds of cost.
  • There won't be a snap election, or indeed any in 2007.
  • Labour will lose 350 to 500 seats in the May locals.
  • Labour will lose control of the Welsh and Scottish Assemblies.
  • There will be no consensus on party funding so Labour will force something through which will be unpopular in the country and will be reversed when the government changes hands.
I could go on, but I think that covers it. I think the first prediction is a cert as well ;)

Update 22:14

I forgot to say Happy New Year to every one! I hope you all had a good Christmas!

Saddam Hussein and Gerald Ford still dead

I have not said anything much about Gerald Ford, who died at 93. Seemed like a good bloke and seemed to do a good job. I was only 8 at the time he lost the election in 1976 though so I won't go on and on. Good job well done, Gerald, you had a good innings, we wish you well and may you rest in peace.

Whilst I don't agree with capital punishment, but I give no eulogy for Saddam.

What bugs me though is the 24 hour news coverage which seems to ignore all other news.

Really chaps, we get the message, there dead, and barring a miracle they will stay that way. Any chance of any news?

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Saddam Hussein Al Tikriti executed today

Saddam Hussein was executed today. I can't say I will mourn him. He was never nominated for the Novel Peace prize, or Humanitarian of the year. I doubt he will be missed.

However I don't agree with the death penalty. That said he was tried and executed under Iraqi law. Unfortunately he was executed on an Islamic holy day for Sunnis, when prisoners are normally released or pardoned. The timing was wrong.

He also managed to go to the gallows with dignity, in short some sot of propaganda victory for his cause. We do need to learn.

You can read the BBC's article here.

Friday, December 29, 2006

World War II debt repaid

You will no doubt have heard this on the news. You can read the BBC article here.

What interested me about the war debts we have is that we stopped paying of debts for the First World War in 1934. These debts are huge. However we are actually owed more than we owe. So the US could bankrupt us by ending the repayment moratorium, but then we could avoid that by bankrupting others, including I believe the French!

I was also staggered to hear we still owe for the Napoleonic wars, though who to, I have no idea.

Wars are very very expensive in terms of blood and treasure. They should only be entered into as a last resort, rather than because your mate the illiterate idiot across the pond thinks it is a good idea.

Interesting fact about World War one is that we finished it with 22,000 serviceable aircraft, most of which were sold off as surplus.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Hazel Blears opposes and supports government policy at the same time!

You could not make this up. Hazel "Chipmunk" Blears supports the reorganisation of the NHS which will result in the closure of hospital units, but not in her own constituency of Salford where she opposes it.

Well if she opposes government policy she should not be in government and certainly not the Party chairman responsible for discipline.

She says she has every right to fight for her constituency. Well fair enough behind the scenes in cabinet, but to take to the streets is bizarre. That said Dr John "Comrade" Reid has done the same.

Is Labours party discipline so shot to bits that cabinet ministers can protest against their own governments policies? (To be fair to Comrade Reid, he is not part of the Scottish executive that makes those decisions)

See this in the Guardian or this on the BBC.

Hat tip to Andrea on political betting for the links to the story.

Update: 11:50

Apparently Jacqui Smith has been at it too. See here. So what of cabinet government?

Megaphone conversation goes on, this time from Iraq

I wrote here about what I thought was the bizarre megaphone conversation between Tony Blair and our troops in Afghanistan here. He said they could have what ever they wanted, through the press and the answer came back through the press.

We now have the commander of British forces in Southern Iraq, Major General Richard Shirreff, adding his tuppence worth here.

It appears he feels the armed forces are under resourced. He puts it down to a generation of under funding and to be fair blames both this and past governments.

This all started with the peace dividend. This was the stupid idea that the end of the cold war would lead to a fluffy cuddly world where we did not need quite the military we had before. Of course the cold war was swiftly followed by the first Gulf war, chaos in Somalia and Afghanistan, the Balkan wars and lots of other conflicts.

You would have hoped that at some point in this obvious lack of peace politicians would have stopped taking the peace dividend and realised it was a folly from start to finish, but the fact is that our troops are now engaged in more places at one time than they have been since the Second World war. We just do not have the troop numbers and I don't care what the MOD say, the equipment to do the job at hand.

Not only do we need to look at defence spending again, but it is also clear that we need to un merge some regiments and rebuild our army.

Allergy Advice Contains peanuts

On what was this advice given you might ask?

A packet of dry roasted peanuts.

Funnier than any of the jokes in the Christmas crackers!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas everyone!

Just thought I'd say that. I hope you have a good Christmas and that those you love have a good one too.

Met Chief talks rubbish again

In Fridays Today program on Radio 4, reported in the Telegraph yesterday (Sorry can't find the article, the Telegraph's search engine does not seem up to much), Sir Ian "I really am the most ignorant pratt you will ever meet" Blair said the threat of terrorism was greater than the cold war and second world war.

Iain Dale here, argues that this is scare tactics. I disagree. It is merely proof that Sir Ian Blair is one of the most ignorant people in any position of power in the country. I called for his resignation here and I do so again. The man is an ignorant git.

For the avoidance of doubt, had the cold war kicked off as a nuclear war we could have lost millions in minutes, and in one raid on Coventry during the blitz 568 civilians died in one night, in one city.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Insidiousness of Closed Courts

Family courts operate in secret. That is they are not open to the public, nor indeed reporting. That means that they get no, or rather very little scrutiny.

Social services seem to operate on the basis of being too scared of some parents or careers, or perhaps too chaotic and over worked, to save some children from what with hindsight becomes obvious abuse, to being too keen to take children away.

There is very little scrutiny of the system whilst no one is dying horrifically. This leads to cases like this one, highlighted in a leader in today's Times by Camilla Cavendish. Let us make no mistake here, she reports it from a misandrists stand point labouring the plight of the mother yada yada, without much care for the pain the father is going through, but the facts are there all the same. A child is being deprived of it's parents because there is a suspicion that the father may have done something to another of his children by a different woman 10 years ago. He still lived with his other children and they were not taken away. Bizarre.

The child has been put up for adoption by Social Services. The case is winging its way to the European Courts.

There are two things that are fundamentally flawed here. Firstly the way in which the courts operate in secrecy, and secondly the prospect that a child may end up being adopted and therefore both parents and child deprived of each other for life before the case is finally finished. When the death sentence was abolished, a successful appeal would mean something, you could get released. When a child is adopted, that is it. You can't get them back. That you can then win on appeal and not receive justice is horribly perverse.

There are many things wrong with the family courts, and this is certainly one.

Labour isn't Working!

According to figures from this article in the Times today.

Youth unemployment is higher than in 1997, as are inflation and interest rates.


It looks like Ken Clarke's legacy is being wasted.

Mark Senior will no doubt be along to tell us how Gordon Brown has done any minute now.

That said consumer debt on credit cards seems to be dropping which is a good thing, as long as it does not happen to fast leading to an economic slow down.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Domestic Violence that dare not speak its name

I listened to a piece on this mornings Today program on Radio 4. The plan is to build safe "panic rooms" for women so that they can be safe from domestic abuse should their male ex become a problem.

You can read the BBC's article on their website here.

Neither it, nor the government seem to mention domestic violence perpetrated by women on men. Not Once!

However I did note this article, prompted by Surrey Police which does make it clear that domestic violence is both man on woman and woman on man. You can read that article here. It is also the first time I have seen a domestic abuse poster featuring a battered male.

Whilst I am at it, in recent years I can only recall ONE NSPCC advert that did not feature a man as the abuser of his children, and that was recently. Most violence against children according to one study I heard about was a woman beating a child. (To be fair they get more contact time).

So let us stop this misandry, domestic violence is perpetrated by men and women against men women and children. It is clear that when a government has a Minister for Women who does not acknowledge women on men domestic violence in the language used, that government is dominated by misandrists.

Update 13:34

I forgot to mention also the women on women, and men on men domestic violence and sexual assault which also occurs in same sex households, which does not even get a look in to the point that even I forgot about it whilst writing the main article.

Nominations for Tony's last honours list!

Well, I wrote this article here, asking who would want to be on Tony Blair's resignation honours list and here are the nominations so far:

John Prescott (rumoured)
David Blunkett (Nominated by Ellee)
Stephen Hawking (By Ellee for *cough* genuine reasons)
Peter Mandelson ( Anonymous)
Alistair Campbell (ChrisD)

Any more nominations welcome.

Update: 11:54

Think of this as Tony Blair's disHonours List.

Family breakdown and government policy

Frankly there has not been enough discussion of Ian Duncan Smith's policy paper on Social Justice, entitled Breakdown Britain. You can find the website of the Center for Social Justice here, and the Breakdown Britain report here.

There is a huge amount government can do, for example as well as having a minister for women, or children why not have a minister for families?

Apparently according to this article in yesterdays Telegraph Gordon Brown is quoted thus:

"Gordon Brown said in his 1998 Budget that 'support should be based on family need – not family structure."

Which appears in part responsible for 200,000 families lying about their status to get more benefits. It seems to make sense to live apart, or at least to pretend to. What is more of a concern to me is how many of the 1.9 million families that do genuinely live apart do so in part because of crazy benefit or government related pressure?

There is no doubt, or at least there should not be that a stable family is the best place in which to bring up a child. We need to make it clear that stable families are supported.

People also equate living together with being married. After all, what bigger commitment is there than having children together?

Well, it has to be said that having children together is a big commitment, but it is a different commitment to being together in sickness and in health for richer or for poorer.

We do need to preach values.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Tony Blair's last honours list- Will anyone want to be on it?

Well, you have to ask. After all the scandal and rumour surrounding the cash for peerages affair, you do have to wonder if any one will want to be on his last list when he resigns.

Rumour has it that John "Two Jags, Three Shags, Three Houses" Prescott will be in it, but will any one else.

Nominations please!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Liberal Democrats and the Politics of Envy

Thanks to Yellow Peril who pots on for a link to this article in today's Observer.

Apparently Vince Cable thinks the Goldman Sachs payouts are obscene. Well, lost of things are obscene like for example the cash for peerages affair and child pornography, but high bonuses are not on my list I am afraid.

What is even more of a concern is that Vince Cable is reported to be bleating about second home and share capital gains tax after 10 years. It drops to 10 percent. Presumably he would like to scrap that rule. However there is a reason why it is there, and that is to encourage people to hold on to investments for the long term rather than speculate in the short term. Changing the rule may well lead to a return to more short termism. It does help to think things through.

Meanwhile whilst our boys are dying in the field the Defence budget is cut

Yes, according to this story in today's Sunday Telegraph the MOD is looking to save £1 billion.

You just could not make this up.

It should be noted that is to keep the MOD on budget, with cuts already announced rather than a new cut, but it is clear that there is not enough cash being spent on these wars to win them.

Hat tip to Alex on for the link.

Cash for Peerages, Another Sunday morning update.

Well, I posted an article on Saturday about the cash for Peerages Saga. It seems it is on the front of Sundays Telegraph, Times and Independent. That won't make for happy reading in Labour circles.

Broadly the thrust of the stories I have seen is that Lord Levy's friends are still saying he won't be a fall guy, this time with knobs on. Blair is failing to endorse Levy in public or private (how do they know about all the private bits?) All in the Telegraph here. The peerage nominations in question were for public service according to the nomination papers from the Independent here. Of course some senior aids to be questioned again from the Sunday Times here.

The most interesting one is the Independent on Sunday revisiting the nomination papers because it indicates that Tony Blair *cough* told the Police something which later turned out to be incorrect.

The line that they were nominated for "party service" looks holed well below the water line, unless service means giving cash. Yates of the yard will be sending someone round for another chat with our Tony. Mark my words.

Update 10:46

Forgot to mention this article in the Observer. Sources say that Gordon was involved in attempts to honour Ronnie Cohen and Wilf Stevenson.

Labour is leaking against itself. Expect fireworks over Christmas as journalists look to fill their pages and people who are bitter about yesterdays leaks provide tomorrows.
(hat tip to Mike Smithson of for the link to the Observer article)

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Cash for Peerages, When will the Canaries Sing?

I said in this post here that as it looked like six people may end up being charged over the cash for honours affair, then some one will start singing. I thought it might be at the trial. I may have been wrong.

This article in the Times suggests that Lord Cashpoint Levy's and St. Tony Blair's accounts do not tally. That means that Yates of the Yard will want to have another word with Lord Levy, or rather get some more written statements from him, because that is what he seems to have been doing so far. I wonder how convenient he now finds his office fire of late last year?

If Yates pressures the right people, who it looks like Tony has dropped in it, then they may well have to give up more information to save their own skins. That will mean of course that Tony Blair may well be questioned again, and if so it may well end up being under caution.

In other news I was listening to the Today programme on Radio 4 yesterday morning when I heard Tony Wright, Chairman of the Public Administration Committee of the House of Commons say this:

"I have taken the view that this police investigation has been a kind of shock to the system and, on the whole, a good one, I am not sure that any further public benefit will be served by this going any further. I think the benefit from it has now been obtained."
To which I say:

"Bog off and stop trying to influence the Police in an important investigation!"
There is also more in today's Telegraph here.

What is also interesting is that Gordon Brown has issued a statement to the Telegraph on Saturday here denying the story raised by Channel 4 news on Wednesday which I commented on here. It seems Gordon and his cronies are worried that "elements" in the Labour party are trying to tie him into the sleaze. Depending on how that goes expect more infighting soon. It seems though that the statement issued by Number 11 was also approved by Number 10, so it may not be a direct fight between Gordon and Tony but a scrap amongst the acolytes. Should be fun all the same!

You can read more on the Cash for peerages saga here.

Mentioned in Dispatches!

Just thought I would mention that someone at ITN's Channel 4 news emailed me yesterday to say that I had been mentioned in their blog! See here.

Also of note, is that according to Dizzy, here, John Prescott's "website has received 2771 unique hits since August. This blog did that in 3 months! (And traffic is growing here) So this blog is more popular than John Prescott's website, fantastic! Mind you I suspect a lot of blogs are more popular.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Cash for Peerages, Tony Blair questioned

So much for pure than pure!

Had some one said that Tony Blair would be questioned as part of a police inquiry in to a criminal investigation of corruption a year ago, surely people would have laughed!

They are not laughing now, though they seem to be trying to spin this as some sort of result. Further more Chanel 4 reports that maybe as many 6 people will be charged. Expect them to sing like canaries at trial, hence Yates of the Yard making sure no one has any last minute recollections at trial (as happened in the Burrell Trial, see here)

Let us just be clear, no sitting Prime minister has ever been questioned by the Police before!

Guido seems to have got hold of No 10's media grid for the day, here and it seems they were hoping to have such a busy news day that no one would notice things like the 2500 Post Office closures, the cancelling of the Serious Farce Fraud Office investigation into BAE and corruption as well. It appears not to have worked. And it appears they wanted to bury bad news under the Diana inquiry. Hmm...

What seems worse for labour is that the Sun has for two weeks been very negative on Gordon Brown. I am no fan of the Murdoch press, but this is an interesting development.

The BBC has this here. I also recommend reading Guido above and here and Iain Dale here and here.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Cash for Peerages, Gordon Brown in the frame!

I just heard a story on Channel 4 news about a certain Ronnie Cohen being given an honour forced through by the Treasury against the advice of officials!

Strangely Guido covered Ronnie Cohen's links to Gordon Brown here in October, though his information did not seem quite so specific as Channel 4's.

Ronnie Cohen has provided Labour with quite a lot of funds as well as funding some of Gordon's pet projects. You would have to wonder if he contributed to Gordon Brown's blind trust now wouldn't you.

Alex Salmond was getting on his high horse about it as well. Well Alex, don't do that, just put in a complaint to Yates of the Yard!

I will update with more links to more news stories as they become available.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Bob Piper stops blogging - for now

Apparently according to this post on his blog he seems fed up with the storm over the racism row. So he has for now decided to give it a break.

I hope he changes his mind. There are some quite simple rules to blogging. If you try to offend some people expect to have them come and bite back. If that is a problem try not to offend.

That said some times offending people can and is justified, in which case you had better stick to your guns.

Still sometimes you can make points with out resorting to sound bites and being offensive. I'd rather hoped that is what the blogosphere could be. We get enough silly soundbite diatribes in the MSM with out doing it the same way here.

Still the row may have some upsides. Unity at Minitrue has come up with this explanation of why he posted the original which is really good and despite its length well worth the read.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Is Bob Piper Toast?

Many people will have noticed that a certain Labour councillor for Sandwell one Bob Piper who's blog is here has received much flak for a post on his blog using an image from the Ministry of Truth (Does he realise just how Orwellian that is?) here.

Bob has now taken it down.

However the storm looks set to continue. In many replies on his blog it seems clear he has offended people. Fair enough politics does, however what caused him to take down the article appears to have been his Labour group leaders comments as reported by the BBC here rather than him coming to his senses on his own. What also seems clear is that Councillor Bob will be reported to the Standards Board for England and possibly to the Commission for Racial Equality as well. An adverse finding by the SBE or CRE will finish him.

Could it possibly get any worse for Councillor Bob?

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Councillor Bob Piper in racism row!

Dizzy has covered it here and here. Apparently he has been mentioned on the BBC. It is all over a picture he copied from the Ministry of Truth, (again covered by Dizzy)

There are many things to be irked about over this and many others have said it, but what is really getting my goat is that after having got to top spot for political blogs on (See here) then being quite some way ahead I have a quick peak and Bob's old blog has stolen my spot! (See here)

I'll sulk in a corner for a while ;)

Any one fancy getting me a mention on telly?

Update: 21:33

Bob Piper has taken his post down. You can visit Bob's blog here. Prague Tory originally started the outrage rolling here meanwhile the first pratt and originator was The Ministry of bollocks Truth here.

Is this why Gordon's tax figures are wrong?

As I have said in previous comments on the pre budget report Gordon Brown sets his own growth target and meets them when he marks the paper. Vince Cable said as much in his response to the pre budget report in the House of Commons. However where Gordon Brown tends to fall down and can't mark his own numbers is how much he has raised in tax compared to forecast. Many other commentators have noticed as well. He almost never gets as much tax in as he thought.

The question has to be why?

Well here are two situations where tax has been avoided. There is the often covered in Private Eye Mapely Steps PFI scandal where the Treasury buildings were sold off to a PFI firm in a tax haven who laughably have pleaded poverty and lack of profit to Select Committees in the House of Commons who are now not paying large amounts of tax.

Then there is this article in the Independent on Sunday which shows that even Labour want to avoid having stamp duty paid at the full rate on the sale of it's old head quarters!

So the government and the governing party are involved in tax avoidance. No wonder tax receipts are down!

Hat tip to Mystic Moon on for pointing out the Independent article.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Is Gordon to be coronated?

It is interesting that there seems to be some buzz around the story that some Labour MP's want to scrap the post of deputy leader of the Labour party. The reason? They seem to think that an election for deputy leader would be divisive and expensive. You can read the BBC story here.

but hold on a minute. If the deputy leader election is held at the same time as the leaders election then it won't cost much more. So what is going on? Do they want Gordon to have a coronation?

Frankly I can't see it as there are a number of members of the cabinet who would stand if they thought they could win. However if they don't run, and John McDonnell does not get his 44 signatures then perhaps the squeeze will be on to save money.

Only one question remains. Who has put them up to it? Answers on a postcard!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Pre Budget Report, early comments

It's going to take some time to come up with a considered opinion on this one. The news papers have done a lot of work on this and financial journalists will have done lots of work on this before hand. You can read the report yourself here.

Two things strike me. Firstly the language is so obviously partisan like Gordon howling his rubbish from the very pages you read, rather than the dry report report that I was expecting. The other is the ever increasing Public Sector borrowing requirement, which has risen above forecast and is rising as a percentage of GDP. According to the report it will continue to rise until 2010 when it seems that they claim it will level off at 38.4% of GDP.

Gordon Brown has made much of his so called prudence. I can't see it here. If you still need to increase borrowing after 57 continuous quarters of growth you are either not collecting enough tax or you are spending too much.

The amusing this is why the hole in the public finances is getting bigger though. It is because of lower than expected tax revenues. Gordon always seems to get his growth forecasts right (though he sets the estimate and as Vince Cable said yesterday, marks the paper) he always seems to over estimate the tax take. Perhaps the growth figures are just wrong?

Also oil companies investment in the North Sea seems to be down since they had a massive windfall tax slapped on them. Never mind the years of risk taking to get the oil or the times when oil has been only just profitable to produce in the North Sea, make a healthy profit for the risk then you get slapped with a tax. Shame Gordon can't do that to the PFI firm who owns the treasury buildings, they are in a tax haven!

Of course green taxes as a percentage of the tax take are still way less under the Conservatives, but then what did you expect.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Iraq a mess Official - The Iraq Study Group report

You can read the report for your self here. It looks like some real Conservatives are taking on the situation and looking to work out a solution.

In many ways of course it is far too late as we need not have got in this mess in the first place. You can read my article on why we are in this mess here, and other articles on Iraq here.

What I was most interested in though was the recognition by the presidential nominee for Secretary of Defence Robert Gates admitting that America was not winning the war in Iraq. Amusingly Tony Blair when asked if he agreed said yes of course. I doubt he would have said that last week

You do have to wonder why it was that Rumsfeld decided to use the minimum number of troops possible to take Iraq. I have a theory that Donald what a pratt Rumsfeld thought that if he could take Iraq on a shoestring in terms of troops the Neo Cons could make the case for effectively building an empire.

What Rumsfeld missed though was that firstly the age of empires is in essence passed and secondly the worlds greatest empire, ours was built on a lot more than force and mouth. It was built on guile, cunning, statecraft, bribery and things that were Machiavelli still alive at the time would have caused him to rewrite his famous work, "The Prince". Of course all Rumsfeld brought to the table was the sort of stupidity that can only be born out of a high intellect and breath taking arrogance.

When I have read the report fully I will comment further.

That pre Budget Report in full

Ukrainian tractor production up 137.5%, better in fact than Ukraine which only managed 122%!


Golden bollocks Rule!

We will only borrow to invest over the economic cycle!

(Ed, hold on, we have had 57 straight quarters of economic growth so why do we need to borrow? Just how long is this economic cycle?)

We have invested more (Ed, surely spent?) than the Conservatives on Education and the NHS (Ed, hold on didn't Gordon say that spending wasn't the answer in 1997?) to build a better future for everyone in the country (Ed, apart from the people in the bottom 2 percentiles who are worse off then they were under the Conservatives)

We build on economic growth (Ed. You what? you jest surely? The only growth we get is by bringing more people into the labour market, keeping wages low and generally making people feel naffed off) built on massive public spending, private borrowing and bringing in more immigrants sound economics. (Ed, ah I see.)

We have borrowed to invest, I'd rather not admit how much, but it would make any decent man cry and I have not even included my favorite wheeze, PFI, and next year we will exceed what was forecast last year. to build a better future! That I won't be around to pay for!

Editorial note: Gordon Brown forecast borrowing between 2001 and 2006 of £28 Billion despite a record stretch of economic growth, but managed to borrow £129 Billion. Current forecasts of Gordon "whats prudence?" Brown indicate borrowing of £175 billion over the next 6 years. And you thought your mortgage was high? I expect that number to grow and be called "investment". However it does not include PFI.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Afghanistan. Have we got the tactics wrong?

I don't wish to bash our troops, they are doing a fine job with the troop numbers and equipment they have but I can only see problems in the tactics used.

Firstly I don't like the way platoon houses are being operated. This is where a number of troops hold a government compound in an important town or village.

These platoon houses get attacked on a regular basis as indeed such defensive positions have been attacked throughout the thousands of years of war. That would be OK if there were enough men and material to go out and meet the threat. There isn't so a firefight ensues between the waring parties catching much in the cross fire, until air support becomes available destroying where the enemy are.

This has two key problems. Firstly that which is caught in the cross fire and secondly which ever building the Taliban were holed up in gets destroyed possibly after they have left.

In short there is not enough military power about to prevent the Taliban taking up positions in towns as and when they like causing havoc for the civilians when fire fights start.

The second tactic used is long range patrols. In many ways these seem to work well in drawing out ambushes but the Taliban use the cover of other peoples houses to fight and they get destroyed. There is not a huge amount that can be done about this other than to bring each individual firefight to an end as soon as possible. They normally end with the dropping of a bomb. It looks like the Taliban know how long it takes to muster a plane with a bomb and frequently may be gone before it is dropped.

It both the platoon house and the long range patrol situation rapid air cover would be very useful. This will mean many more planes in the sky at all times on patrol, but it will help in both circumstances.

In short we lack men, armoured vehicles and aircraft. The government is trying to do Afghanistan on the cheap and if it continues on this path it may well fail.

It should of course be noted that attacks are down month on month, but the Taliban will use the winter to regroup and rearm. We need to cut off their cash and supply, which is a difficult job, as well.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Brown's promises from 1997

I read this interesting article in the Daily Telegraph today, by Ruth Lea. It goes through Brown's promises in 1997 and to some extent where we are now.

Here are some choice quotes:

More specifically, one of the key policy objectives of the Treasury is "increasing the productivity of the economy".

This has not happened. Productivity has disappointed, with an annual average growth of less than 2pc since 1997.

Growth from 1992 to 1997 was around 2.25pc, which was criticised at the time.
And then there is this:

Turning to the "tax 'n' spend" aspects of the Chancellor's record, the manifesto makes for interesting reading. May I quote some key passages? "The myth that the solution to every problem is increased spending has been comprehensively dispelled under the Conservatives."

"The level of public spending is no longer the best measure of the effectiveness of government action in the public interest. It is what money is actually spent on that counts more than how much money is spent."

"New Labour will be wise spenders, not big spenders."

Ah such promise dashed. In fact if you look at spending growth and productivity growth over time in the NHS spending seems to have little to do with productivity growth. It was much better between 1990 and 1999 then it has been since. That is an awful lot of money for little return spent since 1999.

A small apology

Readers of Political may have got the impression from this post of mine here that a Conservative government introduced universal primary education.

It appears from this article on wikipedia that this may not have in fact been the case.

I humbly beg forgiveness.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Brown plans to rearrange deck chairs on Titanic

Well, that's my take on this article in today's Observer by Will Hutton. Obviously Will Hutton seems impressed, I think that by this stage you can tell I am not.

Amongst Browns plans he wants to split the Treasury into two, one part responsible for economics but also taking trade and productivity from the DTI (DTI to go by the way) and finance, tacking the Inland Revenue, Customs and Excise (all in one now anyway) and government spending.

Allegedly this will allow him to control economic policy better and then he can blame low productivity growth in the last 10 years on the structures of government. Never mind the fact that previous governments have had better productivity growth with the very same structures, he would like to rearrange the deckchairs all the same.

I suspect there are two real motivations behind this proposal. The first must be obvious. Brown does not want to be hamstrung in the way Brown has hamstrung Blair over the last 9 years. Brown wants no Brown as Chancellor, so make sure there is no Chancellor and there is no possibility of that. Prime Ministers before Blair would have just sacked Brown for being a pain and not following orders and in fact they have. It seems that as chancellor Brown had a unique position. His long service in the job is more down to the loyalty of his own supporters and keeping Blair at bay then to how he has done the job.

The other motivation is that some politicians, particularly on the left love to think that what ever was there is wrong and must be changed and they will leave their mark on history by doing it.

There is of course a fundamental problem with separating economics from government finance, and that is this: Government spending at anything like its current rate (and no one is likely to change that) has an enormous effect on the economy and economics in general. There is a huge danger in separating the two off is that policy between the two will be less joined up then it currently is.

Will Hutton does note that Harold Wilson tried this game in 1964 and within 5 years the Treasury had sunk it. Hutton contends that Brown knows more about the Treasury than anyone else so can make it stick. The problem with this thesis is that it assumes Brown is around in 5 years.

He also wants to lock in economic stability, don't we all? What can he do that can't be changed and undone by another government and is this just some wheeze to pass the buck if the wheels fall off the economy whilst he is still PM?

Apparently he wants to move the Attorney General out of politics. I wonder if he has ever asked himself the question "why is the Attorney General in politics?" because if he had he would appreciate the political accountability it gives.

Also there is a bit of kite flying like making the NHS independent, presumably so the government can avoid the blame, and setting up a body to advise on fiscal policy, spending and tax, so he can shrug his shoulders if there are unpopular things to do.

You would of course have to wonder how this country has copped without Brown as PM.

You can of course read more on Gordon Brown's record here.

We of course wait with baited breath to see what Gordon Brown comes up with in his pre budget report next Wednessday.

Hat tip to Arb Seeker on for pointing the Observer article out.

Nightmare for Cam the cuddly! Allegedly.

There was rather silly and indeed stupid article in to days News of the world today. Shows that it is nothing like a news paper any way. Please note the article has no permanent link so will break after a week.

The articles talks of the woes of the Conservative party under David Cameron blah blah blah.

Rather amusingly the on line edition invites us to review the survey yourself, and then links to this ICM poll which was carried out in February (is that news now or are they just useless?)

What the article is trying its best to avoid leading on is that the Conservatives lead 39% to 30% over Labour which according to Martin Baxter's electoral calculus gives a predicted overall majority to the Conservatives of 18. If that's a nightmare I say bring it on. (The Liberal Democrats got 20%)

Needless to say the poll watchers and pundits over at haven't taken any notice of the News of the World but a lot of notice of the poll which is taken as good news for the Conservatives.

How Polonium 210 kills you

I have noticed a few people seeming to wonder over here from google to find out, so I thought I would explain.

Polonium 210 is one of 25 isotopes of polonium all of which are radioactive. It is also a rare earth heavy metal. It is toxic as are metals like lead and mercury however you are unlikely to have enough polonium in your system to be greatly affected by the toxicity before the radiation gets you.

There are 3 sorts of radiation, alpha, beta and gamma. Imagine if you will that you are trying to shoot a target on one side of London from the other. Gamma radiation is like a fine laser beam, beta radiation is like a snipers bullet and alpha radiation is like firing a double decker bus out of a very large cannon. It won't get very far but is bound to damage something on the way.

Polonium 210 decays to lead 206 by emitting an alpha particle. Aplha particles are in essence a helium nuclei. That's 2 protons and two neutrons. It is the heaviest radiation some 7500 (approximately) times heavier than a beta particle and carries twice the electric charge.

It won't go far but on the way it will rip 2 electrons from other atoms and this is where the problem lies. When you do that to an atom in a stable compound like haemoglobin in blood or DNA that atom stops being a full part of the compound. In short ionising radiation (which is what it is) rips small bits of the body apart.

That is not a problem in itself as this happens in small numbers all the time. Cells repair and move on. However what happens with radiation is that more cells are damaged than would otherwise be the case so it makes recovery harder.

Polonium 210 is very radioactive, 1 gram gives off 166 trillion (yes that is a very big number) of alpha particles a second. Even a milligram gives off 166 billion alpha particles a second and frankly the body can't cope with that level of sustained damage every second. Bits of your body just break down and cease to function.

You can read more articles from this blog on polonium here.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Some Journalists are just plain stupid!

I have just had the misfortune of reading this article by Amanda Platell in today's Daily Fascist Mail.

She opines that Gordon Brown should not be PM because of his son Fraser's cystic fibrosis. She thinks it will be hard work and his family will need him more.

She thinks it is OK for David Cameron to be Leader of the opposition and Gordon Brown to be Chancellor, but not for Gordon to be PM. Hmm.. So presumably the same argument applies to David Cameron being PM?

No wonder she was so pants when working for William Hague.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Gold for National Anthem!

Apparently if you want to replace "God save the Queen" with Gold, by Spandau Ballet as the national Anthem there is a petition you can sign.

It's here, and it's priceless!

If you have your own silly petition you want to get publicised see No 10 Downing Streets E Petition website here.


Hat tip to Jonathan on