Monday, December 31, 2007

Jack Dromey denies all knowledge of Kenyan count fixing scam!

In a statement Jack Dromey didn't make, he didn't say:
I was not involved in any vote or count fixing and deny all knowledge of any wrongdoing·
Political insiders from all parties chimed in with their support. One said that as far as he could tell, it was a surprise that Jack could even remember his name in the morning let alone any part he may, or indeed may not have played in any conspiracy which of course Jack can't remember.

Jack does need regular reminding that he is in fact Labour party treasurer, though by the time this has sunk in, it is normally his bedtime.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Mwai Kibaki denies vote rigging!

Kenya's president, who was reelected today denied vote rigging in the presidential elections. In a statement he didn't make he didn't say:
The allegations of vote rigging are a dangerous slur put about by imperialist lackeys. I deny totally the allegation that we rigged the vote. That would be too much like hard work. We rigged the count instead, it's so much easier to do, and you need to pay fewer people to do it. What do these people think we are? Stupid?
Meanwhile Raila Odinga, the person who would have won had the electoral commission of Kenya not been up to a bit of cooking is complaining bitterly.

The BBC has this.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Benazir Bhutto reported dead after blast in Rawalpindi

There was a bomb explosion at an election rally held by the Pakistan Peoples Party, after Benazir Bhutto had finished addressing the rally.

Reports are confused, some saying she was injured, some saying critically and some now reporting her dead.

This is not a good day for Pakistan. It is difficult to predict what will happen, but what ever happens next is not going to be pleasant.

I expect riots, possibly directed at perceived extremists.

The BBC has this.

Donorgate: Peter Watts to be charged

According to the front page headline of the Daily Telegraph today, Peter Watts, former General Secretary of the Labour party is to be charged over donorgate.

The interesting thing will be where else this goes, after all we know that this arrangement has been in place for years so others must have known it and indeed set it up.

Not good news for Gordon Brown.

For more on donrogate see here.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas to every one!

I just thought I would wish everyone a merry Christmas, or for those of other religions, happy Eid, Hanuka and Divali (if they are at the right time of year).

For all the members of the secular society who think we should either not celebrate at all, or be celebrating "winterval" I say bah humbug!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Did Chris Huhne really win the Liberal Democrat leadership?

In a bizarre twist of events, Atticus in the Times has a snippet about the vagaries of the Christmas post winning Nick Clegg the leadership due to late ballots. He says;

The deadline for party members to have sent in their ballot papers was Saturday, December 15. But officials arrived the following Monday to find a pile of more than 1,000 late entries, according to insiders at party headquarters.

Lord Rennard, the party’s chief executive, asked Clegg and his rival, Chris Huhne, whether they wanted to include the new ballot papers. But the Clegg camp said no – after all, rules is rules – and he went on to win by 511 votes to become the party’s third leader in less than two years.

Rules may be rules, but who decided to hold a postal ballot this close to Christmas?

As Atticus continues:

It’s possible, of course, that every one of the late entries was a vote for Clegg. But it’s widely thought that Huhne was catching up.
Which is the way I sensed things. And to think that Jesus' birthday may have won Clegg the leadership and he doesn't even believe in God! Sheesh!

On a more serious note, this is a cockup of Scottish, if not Floridian proportions, drawing the whole ballot into question for the bitter for now, and for the doubters (and when things get tough, and they always do for a while, there will be doubters) later. It will make things much harder for Nick Clegg.

However Atticus finishes:

“Both camps have decided on a truce and have agreed not to mention this,” said a party source.

Well I am so pleased someone has!

Hat Tip to UKPaul on

Madeline McCann, a made up story...

What follows is a completely made up story explaining the disappearance of Madeline McCann. That said, it seems no more made up that some of what has appeared in the press so here goes...

A made up McCanns Story

Maddy was different. Maddys parents Kate and Gerry did not know why she was different but they certainly felt that she had changed. Maddys personality seemed to blow hot and cold for no reason, but this was not always just sometimes. There was also the fact that Maddy would seem to have good physical co-ordination one moment and poor physical co-ordination the next.

Gerry and Kate were both doctors. Gerry was a consultant cardiologist and Kate a GP. They applied there collective knowledge to try and see if there was a medical explanation. Kate took blood and urine samples and sent them for analysis. This was not done under Maddy’s name but under a made up name of Penelope. Both Gerry and Kate wanted privacy for their sick child. There was also the mater of doctors administering to their own children which is frowned upon.

The tests of the blood and urine samples came back. They provided no answers. More tests were carried out but again no answers were found. There were not even any clues.

Kate and Gerry discussed how they might be able to find out more information while still maintaining some privacy. They decided to ask some of their medical friends for help.

These were close friends. People they had known for a long time, they were good people and they could be trusted. The McCanns had been on holidays with a lot of them at one time or another. As the friends had got older these holidays turned into family affairs with children.

They invited the select group of friends for a BBQ. The friends were told of the issue with Maddy and of the McCanns pain caused by the suffering that they thought Maddy may be going through.

At the BBQ Maddy looked well. Maddy was acting just like any normal child would act. This was typical of Maddy and of her condition. She could exhibit no symptoms for days and then suddenly at the drop of a hat act strange for a day only to return to normal afterwards.

The friends discussed the problem. They all looked at the file that the McCanns had started on Maddys condition. The friends then chatted to Maddy herself. They all resolved to look into the problem. To read books, to talk to others, to provide support.

It was a close friend Bill who discovered what the problem was. On a trip to a conference in the USA Bill came across another doctor who had come across something similar. The diagnosis was that Maddy had picked up a bug eating bad pork while on holiday to Thailand. This bug had worked its way through Maddys body. This bug would normally only infect the organs such as the liver but in this instance had reached the brain. The prognosis was not good. They thought that they had stopped the bug growing but Maddy seemed to be getting worse. It was very possible that due to the bug being in the brain that the damage was irreversible. It was also possible that it could get very much worse too.

Bill was a close friend of Kate and Gerry. Bill was a GP and worked with Kate. Bill knew that Maddy would deteriorate quickly. The deterioration would be painful to both Maddy and to her parents. In discussion with Kate and Gerry it was clear that they appreciated this outcome. It was a very difficult situation to find themselves in. Both very good doctors yet unable to heal their own daughter.

Gerry and Kate were best buddies, partners, lovers as well as being man and wife. However the strain of Maddy’s illness was causing a strain on their relationship. It was not easy for the McCanns to communicate each others pain in a way that was inclusive. They were finding that it was difficult to share the pain, they were each being selfish over their own feelings towards their lovely child. This made their feeling exclusive to them and not inclusive as a family.

This is where Bill helped. Maddy was not his child but Kate and Gerry were his friends. Bill could sympathise with both allowing each of them to be selfish with him about their own feelings towards and her illness. Maddy. This was very much so with Kate with whom Bill had become a bit too fond of.

This fondness that Bill had for Kate, led bill to try and find solutions to Maddy’s illness. It was Bill who had found out the reasons for Maddy’s illness. Bill however knew that there was no cure for Maddy’s illness. Maddy was going to die and die painfully. This pain was tearing Kate apart and this hurt Bill. Bill was very selfish about his pain and he did not like it.

One of Bills interests was in pain control. Although a GP he saw this an area that he would like to gain more knowledge in and perhaps as a GP specialise in it. Maddys had a brain problem and Bill knew that this would be a very difficult pain to try and control. Bill knew further that it would be even harder to control the pain felt by Gerry and Kate. Bill decided to concentrate his effort on the pain that Kate was feeling.

Kate’s pain caused Bill pain and Bill did not like pain. Bill could not pass that pain on and just wanted to stop it. Bill was now made selfish by Maddy’s illness.

Bill’s solution to this was radical. Bill had determined that Maddy had to die and die quickly. This would cause some pain to both Gerry and to Kate but would then pass.

Bill was now thinking about how he was going help Maddy die quickly. Bill was aware that Maddy could hang on for two years or she could die next week. Bill did not know but wanted to certainty to the end of his pain. So what to do?

Kate and Gerry were aware of Bills pain management skills. Although not a consultant in this field he knew a lot about it. Kate and Gerry were still very secretive and protective over Maddy and her illness.

Bill saw the opportunity of applying too high a dose of pain killer which would act as a lethal injection. It was a matter of just increasing the strength of the dose and lying to Kate about the strength of the dose. This opportunity would present itself at some point in the next few weeks. Applying too much pain killer to Maddy would help Bills pain go away and that is what Bill wanted more than anything else.

Bills opportunity turned up a couple of weeks later. Bill was at the McCanns home when he managed to switch a dose of pain killer to a more powerful one. Bill made sure that this was the dose that would be applied to Maddy that evening. Sure enough Bill’s strong dose of pain killer was applied lovingly by Kate to Maddy to help with the pain, only to kill her.

There was real pain now. Kate was screaming, Gerry was screaming. But Bill was not there to experience the pain. Bill was at home awaiting the news that he know would come.
Kate called Bill to tell him what had happened and to selfishly tell Bill of her feelings. Bill was now in pain, it was excruciating but Bill knew that it would pass. It would go away.

Family and friends turned up at the McCanns the next morning. Maddys body was still there and not in the hospital. Kate and Gerry were so sad that they had just stayed with Maddy.

These friends now started to take over. Bill in particular wanted to take over as he did not want to have Maddy‘s body examined by the coroner. Bill explained to the other friends there that the McCanns were now in a difficult situation. There professionalism has been compromised by them tendering and administering to their own child in secret. Their careers would be over and they would be thrown out of their profession. It was now important to try and help Gerry and Kate.

A plan was arrived at. The McCanns had been on holiday with a number of friends and their families. What if they were to all go on holiday again together to a country whose police force might not be quite so interested in a foreign couple who lose one of their children. They settled on Portugal.

The plan was for several families to go on holiday. One of the children from another family was to wear Maddy’s clothes and to go with Kate and Gerry through the airport. They would also take a lot of Maddy’s clothes with them and pack for Maddy. With the child playing Maddy and using Maddy’s passport it would appear as if Maddy had left the UK for a holiday abroad. The child would then just come back as herself to the UK.

Maddy’s body was taken to the hospital one evening before the holiday and incinerated in one of the hospital furnaces. It was something that one of the other friends could organise and then bring back the ashes for Kate and Gerry.

The McCanns with their friends had now to just inform the authorities that Maddy was now missing. They had lost a daughter and they knew that would never be found.

What follows is a media storm and the McCanns are at the centre of it.

This story was not made up by me, it is someone elses... but they could surely write some of the junk in the media.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

More personal data "lost", this time in the NHS

More data has been lost, this time in the NHS.

This indicates a systematic disregard across government for our data. What is worse is that it infects some parts of the private sector as well.

It is clear that this government can't be trusted with out data.

ID cards must be dead in the water now, surely?

The BBC has this.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Gordon Brown as Popular as a rattle snake in a lucky dip: Official!

A poll by Yougov in today's Telegraph confirms what many have suspected. Gordon Brown is in fact as popular as a rattlesnake in a lucky dip. His personal approval ratings are at an all time low. 60% of people asked are dissatisfied with Gordon Brown, compared with 24% who think he is doing a good job.

To put that in perspective, those sorts of numbers saw Margaret Thatcher ditched and were John Major's ratings in 1997. It does not get much worse, and all this after 5 months in office. Impressive.

Meanwhile the voting intention figures show the Conservatives on 43% (NC) Labour on 31% (-1) and the Liberal Democrats on 16% (+3). According to Anthony Wells swing calculator that would give the Conservatives a working majority of 68.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Sean Hoey acquitted of Omagh bombing

Sean Hoey has been acquitted of the infamous Omagh bomb.

Apparently the case against him has been built on "Low Copy Number" DNA which can take the minutest sample of DNA and "amplify" it to produce a profile.

There are obvious logical problems with this approach, not the least of which is how do you know that the sample obtained from a crime scene does not contain DNA from a number of sources?

LCN DNA may be useful for directing an investigation, but the Judge at the trial today, Mr Justice Weir did not seem impressed by it as he threw the whole case and gave damning criticism of the police investigation.

Lets be clear. DNA is no magic bullet, Low Copy Number DNA doubly so. No one should be convicted on the basis of such evidence alone.

The BBC has this.

Nick Clegg does not believe in God

God does not believe in Nick Clegg!

Sorry, couldn't resist :)

The BBC has this.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Bob Marshall Andrews on Gordon Brown

Apparently Bob Marshall Andrews has described Gordon Brown as having :

‘the jealousy of Othello, the indecision of Hamlet, the futile rage of Lear and, like Brutus, he goes to the wrong people for advice.’

For a one line character description that is fantastic!

Hat Tip to Kingbongo on

Update 16:24

I see the original came from Michael White of the Guardian in his blog. It is a very funny line and finishes with:
"Thank God we got rid of the Macbeths."

Sluts, Faggots and the Professionally Offended

I have to say I was quite amused by Radio 1's decision to fade out the words "slut" and "faggot" from the Pogues hit "Fairy Tale of New York", with Kristy McColl because the words are apparently insulting (I find it shocking that insults should be insulting!) and offensive.

Sure enough, up pops Peter Tatchell, self appointed representative of the "gay" community (I hear he makes quite a lot of them cringe) to say just how offensive "faggot" is.

It seems to me that there is a group of people who seem to both get a kick out of, and possibly make money from being offended, hence my use of the term "Professionally Offended" as if they seem to think that is a profession. The rise of the professionally offended is not new though, Mary Whitehouse used to be their chief speaker, it is just what these people are being offended about that has changed. Miserable killjoys the lot of them.

Still, Radio 2 carried on with the full unedited version and Radio 1 backed down due to mass ridicule, whilst other gay people I say interviewed were non plused at being drawn into a silly debate on a song which did not offend them in the least.

What is crazy about all this is that not so long ago BBC Radio 1 would broadcast music inciting people to commit acts of violence, in part against the gay community, which regardless of its offence, is a criminal act under the 1986 Public Order act.

The BBC has this.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Nick Clegg scrapes Liberal Democrat Leadership

Nick Clegg has, I see just scrapped in as the new Liberal Democrat leader, by 20,988 votes to 20,477 for Chris Huhne.

I am little bit gutted as I had traded into quite a good betting position on Huhne, particularly by laying Clegg at very short odds, but I am more than pleased as a Conservative that they have elected Nick Clegg as he will not have anything like the media presence of either Vince Cable or Chris Huhne, as has been shown in the last few weeks by Nick Cleggs almost complete absence from TV.

The BBC has this.

Cancer latest: Sun gives and cures cancer!

In the latest study on cancer, this time lung cancer it has been found that exposure to sunlight produces vitamin D (which has been known for a long time) which in turn helps prevent and control lung cancer growth as well as possibly other cancers.

Excessive sunlight is also known to cause cancers as well, which just goes to show you can't win.

The BBC has this here.

Monday, December 17, 2007

A disaster a day keeps the voters away!

And today's disaster was announced by Ruth Kelly, the transport secretary who tells us that 3 million records of learner drivers has gone missing on a hard disk in the USA.

It is anyone's guess when this bunch of Muppet's learn the basic rules of data security.

The BBC has this.

Is there going to be a housing crash?

Probably not, but the Times reports today that house prices have fallen all over England, and sharply in London according to Rightmove.

The scary thing is that whilst some of these properties have fallen by as much as 6.8% in London in the last month, similar properties rose by 41% last year. I don't know what bothers me more, the fact that a house price correction will slow the economy or that the government is such a bunch of pratts that they would not see this problem coming.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Donorgate: Jane Hogarth and Courtney Coventry

Some will remember Jane Hogarth as the Labour fund raiser who was made redundant apparently in June 2006(See Guido here). She was it seems the go between for David Abrahams, possibly up to as far as the PM, as well as the person who dealt with Courtney Coventry and her husband John, who also style themselves as the Count and Countess of Rozel (tough I hasten to add, not to Labour).

I understand that a number of people wish to speak to Jane Hogarth, including the police, but it appears that she has gone missing. What is more, Labour claim they do not know where she is.

Since then Labour say that she has not been working for them. The only problem with this is lots of people think Labour are lying through their teeth, and according to my sources with good reason.

Jane Hogarth has been out soliciting donations for Labour. Sources tell me that she has definitely been in touch with Courtney Coventry and her husband in the last few months. What is more Jane is aware that Courtney is not a UK citizen. Jane does not know if either John or Courtney are registered to vote in the UK, and neither does Labour, because they have never asked. If there was a donation and they were not registered then that is a breach of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000.

It is interesting that the first priority of Labour's fund raisers is to get the cash and worry about the law second.

Conservatives get biggest poll share since 1992

In a poll for the Sunday Times, by Yougov the Conservatives have the biggest poll share since 1992, (just after the election) the biggest poll share Yougov have ever reported and their biggest lead in any poll for something like 20 years.

The Conservatives are on 45% (+2) Labour 32%(NC) and the Liberal Democrats on 14% (NC).

According to Anthony Wells election calculator that gives the following seat shares:

Conservatives 373
Labour 230
Liberal Democrats 18
Others 29

A Conservative majority of 96!

Having said all that it is a December poll, and we will have to see what other polls turn up. What is also interesting is that Labour tried a bit of a relaunch last week, with Ed Balls 10 year plan for children, massive off shore wind farms and welfare reform. The only problem is that they were too busy making mistakes for anyone to notice.

The poll results are available here in PDF format.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Are Blacks thick?

Or is it the IQ test fundamentalists?

This debate sort of reignited when the Nobel Laureate James Watson claimed that those of African origin were "less clever" than good honest white folks. (For example see the BBC here)

At the time this bugged me, but I said nothing. Now I am.

James Watson said what he did for good reasons, or at least, reasons that I could see someone could think were good. Studies show that Africans score lower in IQ tests than those of "European" stock, on average. What he neglected to mention was that some Asians score higher than white Europeans, but then perhaps that did not fit into the narrative settled into his mind.

I have now had the benefit of reading this article in the New Yorker, which I feel is instinctively right.

The problem that James Watson and the IQ test fundamentalist have failed to ask is what does IQ actually measure?

In principle it measures intelligence, but is based on the idea that the average IQ of a population is 100. Therefore it measures relative intelligence. As James Flynn has found (see article, or google for more) I.Q. has risen over time. Either our grandparents were retards or we are super intelligent, or I.Q. tests measure a way of thinking rather than base intelligence.

The problem with I.Q. tests is that retaking them makes you better at them. It certainly does in my experience. I also find that playing Su do ku on a regular basis not only exercises my brain but gives me a measure of how sharp I am on a particular day.

What I also find with I.Q. tests is that you get a good score by living in the same mindset as the person who wrote the test. Take this quote from the article as an example of what I mean.

The psychologist Michael Cole and some colleagues once gave members of the Kpelle tribe, in Liberia, a version of the WISC similarities test: they took a basket of food, tools, containers, and clothing and asked the tribesmen to sort them into appropriate categories. To the frustration of the researchers, the Kpelle chose functional pairings. They put a potato and a knife together because a knife is used to cut a potato. “A wise man could only do such-and-such,” they explained. Finally, the researchers asked, “How would a fool do it?” The tribesmen immediately re-sorted the items into the “right” categories. It can be argued that taxonomical categories are a developmental improvement—that is, that the Kpelle would be more likely to advance, technologically and scientifically, if they started to see the world that way. But to label them less intelligent than Westerners, on the basis of their performance on that test, is merely to state that they have different cognitive preferences and habits. And if I.Q. varies with habits of mind, which can be adopted or discarded in a generation, what, exactly, is all the fuss about?

The thing is that the brain is a muscle. Research shows, for example that London Taxi drivers have a larger hippocampus than the population norm in much the same way as pigeons do, and that area is associated with navigation. Gay men, it has been said have other brain differences. People who use their brains in particular ways have brain differences from the norm. Are we seriously to believe that people are born to be London taxi drivers? Or indeed anything else?

Fundamentally the issue is this: I.Q. tests measure intelligence in the way that the person writing the test thinks.

They are useful, but like all tests and measures only as useful as your understanding of the test or measure. Balsa is a hardwood. I kid you not. It ranges in density and strength from very very light and soft to remarkably heavy and dense as well, so how useful is the "hardwood" classification? Well it depends on how you use the measure and what you think it means.

To answer the question posed at the beginning of this article I think it is the I.Q. test fundamentalists who are thick, because they do not understand what it is they are measuring nor the limitations of their tests.

Hat tip to Socrates on for the link to the New Yorker article.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Prime Ministers Questions, My thoughts so far.

I did not catch much of Cameron so I can't comment there, but I have to say that Vince Cable got the better of Gordon Brown, by firstly asking what, when Gordon is eating his Brussels sprouts, he would consider what the Labour governments biggest disaster of the year was?

Gordon Brown replied with some flim flam ending with a comment about the Liberal Democrat leadership and how Vince Cable could well be back there soon.

Vince replied that given Gordon Brown's own position he should not speculate on leadership bids!

The only problem for the Liberal Democrats is I have trouble seeing either Nick Clegg or Chris Huhne doing better than Vince Cable.

The BBC has this.

Update 14:23

The BBC also has this on Cable's killer punch!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Credit Crunch to hit consumers this Christmas

The Times reports today a severe tightening of consumer credit which will hit this Christmas, though a lot of consumers will not notice until after they have spent their money.

According to 5 million families have not paid off last Christmases debt either.

People who swap credit cards to keep charges down are likely to be in for a bot of a shock as they get turned down for new credit.

None of this makes good reading.

However what the article does not go into is the number of mortgages which were taken out on fixed rates for 3 years which are coming to the end of the fixed rate period. Those people are going to face real difficulties with a possible 50% sudden increase in mortgage repayments and few lenders keen on taking them on.

This is the demon of cheap credit coming home to roost. Many have accused people like me of being a doom monger when we expressed concern that the last 10 years of economic growth was built on borrowing. We now have to start paying that money back, and that will mean far less free money in the economy.

Labour 8% behind with Populus!

A poll conducted for the Times published today shows the Conservatives back in the lead. Last months Populus poll had Labour on 37%, the Conservatives on 36% and the Liberal Democrats on 16%. At the time it was one poll that still provided some comfort for Labour.

Well no longer. Today's figures are Conservative 40% (+4) Labour 32% (-5) and the Liberal Democrats on 16% (NC).

It is nice to see Populus have caught up. This is the best ever figure for the Conservative party since Populus started polling. What is clear is that the Conservative party has a clear lead, for the moment. Not good enough for a clear election victory but a lead that can be built upon.

According to Anthony Wells swing calculator that would give a hung parliament with the Conservatives on 320 seats, Labour on 269 and the Liberal Democrats on 30 with others on 31.

4 out of 5 of new jobs go to migrants?

That is the headline on the front of this mornings Daily Mail.

This harks back to the scandal in October when the Tan, Peter Hain also incidentally Secretary of State at the Department of Work and Pensions claimed that of the 2.1 million jobs he claimed had been created since 1997 only 800,000 had gone to migrants. This figure was found to be wrong and went up to 1.1 million and then 1.5 million whilst in turn the number of jobs claimed seems to have dropped to 1.7 million. Even the alleged Home Secretary Jacqui Smith managed to get embroiled in the scandal with her own dodgy figures.

David Davies has said this makes a mockery of "British jobs for British workers" as clearly this has not been the case, as well as being highly illegal.

Frank Field has called for eastern Europeans to be banned from working here. That is understandable, but wrong. You can't remove rights like that once given. However we do need to be much more careful in future.

The political issue here is this though. People will vote on the pound in their pocket at the next election, not the pound in someone else's. That is how they will decide how the economy looks. For all the claims of how the mass immigration of the last 10 years has helped the economy it has done little to make the average man or indeed woman in the street feel better off. Their wages are under more pressure whilst all their costs are rising, including council tax and the cost of housing.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Musa Qala falls to Afghan army forces

The Afghan army backed by NATO forces, particularly British and American, have retaken Musa Qala. Taleban forces took the town in February after the British withdrew having made a deal with local elders. That did not hold the Taleban back.

The Taleban melted away once it was clear that they were surrounded by superior forces.

The significant fact here is that the actual assault was led by Afghan forces. It is vital for Afghanistan's future that it has a battle ready and battle hardened army that has the confidence to operate in its territory against insurgents.

The BBC has this.

For more on Afghanistan see here.

Labour MP's on Drugs: Official!

There are strong indications that a few Labour MP's are using some serious drugs, possibly class A, and certainly hallucinogenic.

For evidence of this I cite this article by John Rentoul in yesterdays Independent on Sunday suggesting that some MP's may be plotting already to replace Gordon Brown with Ed Balls.

If Ed Balls is the answer, then those coming up with that answer are on serious drugs, and haven't got a clue what the question is.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

John Darwin, missing canoeist charged

Is it just me or is this one of the most bizarre stories of the year.

For a start we have the missing man getting listed as dead after one year, which I understand requires the signature of a minister of the government, then we have the fact that about a year after his death he moved back home and stayed there for 3 years.

We have his wife selling up and moving to Panama some 6 weeks ago and both of his sons quiting their jobs at the same time, before apparently John Darwin surfaced.

There is much more to hear about this story but what I want to know is who is going to make the film?

The BBC has this.

Friday, December 07, 2007

How did they come up with 42 days?

You do have to wonder don't you. It used to be that people could only be held for 24 hours, then for terrorism it was extended to something like 2 days, then 7, 14 and then Tony Blair wanted 90. He got 28.

Now we have had Gordon Brown trying to look tough again, heavens knows why, we all know it is not true and extend it again.

Hints were dropped that 90 days was back on the agenda, despite there being no case that you could point to where 28 days was insufficient. Then 56 days was hinted at. Then Jacqui Smith, the Alleged Home Secretary, said she did not know how long it should be and did not want to get fixated with a number.

Now we have one. 42 days. Why? Why not 41 or 43? Well, OK 42 days is 6 weeks. But why 6 instead of 4? Or indeed 7,8,9 or 10?

The fact is they are just making this up. It is true that ACPO are officially in favour of it, but then ACPO gets its funding from the Home Office. However many have come out against it, for example the former Attorney General Lord Goldsmith, and the current head of the DPP.

They say that in the future there may be a need. Well in the future they may be a need for all sorts of things, on the other hand there may not. Why do we want to hand our enemies propaganda that they can use to bend young minds? You can bet your bottom dollar they will sell this as anti Muslim. How are we supposed to criticise other countries for human rights violations when we would rather forget our own liberties at the first sign of trouble, rather than taking a more thoughtful approach.

In short, its bonkers. I do hope it gets canned in the Commons. If not its up to the House of Lords to throw out this hideous piece of legislation.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

More Labour Sleaze over Paul Myners?

This is beginning to stretch credibility. Just how can a government be so institutionally corrupt without the ability to hide it just a little bit?

Paul Myners was appointed to head the governments drive to get people to save for their pensions. Good idea. When appointed in July we were assured that he was just a businessman, no party connections, and oh no, no donations to any political party.

Hmmm.. Then last week on Question Time he laid in to David Cameron and George Osborn as "toffs" etc. You can make up the rest.

Well, it turns out that in May he donated to Gordon Brown's leadership campaign.

Obviously his position is way past untenable, but then so is whoever said he had not donated to a political party.

Why do they think they can get away with this sort of thing?


The Independent has this.

hat tip to 'Me' on for the link.

Labour Lawyers organised Donorgate?

According to this shocking article in the Guardian today Labour Lawyers and officials were involved in setting up David Abrahams round about route of donating £650,000 pounds to Labour in clear violation of the spirit of the recently enacted Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000.

Later advice has of course shown that this practice is illegal.

We know that previous General Secretaries of the Labour party have denied all knowledge which does beg the question, who did not only know, but ordered this deception?

Just when you think this might blow over, it gets worse!

For more on Donorgate see here.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Labour Officials helped set up Abrahams secret donations

According to the Guardian tomorrow officials in the Labour party helped David Abrahams set up his secret donations, including working with Lawyers to set up covenants.

Its a bit of a shame they did get get advice on the legality of the scheme... ir perhaps they did?

More news later.

I forgot to add, labour are saying nothing. They are not even denying it.

For more on Donorgate see here.

Prime Ministers Questions should be interesting today!

I wonder how Gordon Brown will get on?

Update 12:43

I missed some of it but it was a bit dull.

Gordon Brown did get Vince Cable back for his joke last week with a line something like "I notice you are getting better at jokes than economics".

We will have to see how it plays in the news if at all.

Wendy Alexander: Emails will clear my name!

Well, no they won't. For a start you are the brother of Wee Dougie, and along with Ed Balls, his name is mud in the Labour party right now because they are both juvenile idiots seeming to have no political experience at all. However I digress.

Wendy Alexander, the soon to be ex leader of the Scottish Labour party, (but please note, hanging on long enough to do them serious damage) claims email correspondence will clear her name for she laughably claims she asked questions.

No they won't.

There are only two relevant questions to ask, and they are of the donor, and indeed the donee, (that is wee Wendy) must ask them. They are:

Are you donating in a personal or business capacity?

If personal, are you registered to vote in the UK mainland, or if business is the company incorporated in the UK.

That is it. No ifs, no buts.

Not hard is it?

The BBC has this.

For more on Donorgate see here.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Sean Connery rushed into surgery!

Sean Connery has been rushed into surgery today to have his sides sewn up after they split.

Aids report that he was found laughing so hard that not only had his sides split but was sitting in a suspicious patch of "liquid".

Beside him were reports of the funding scandal Wendy Alexander is embroiled in. Having passed a law almost specifically designed to stop Sean Connery donating to the SNP, which he has now complied with it appears that Sean suffered from far too much laughter seeing them caught in their own trap.

Doctors say that the operation has gone well. There was no need for anesthetic as the laughter was far better.

Visitors to hospital report Sean is sitting up in bed, still laughing his a*se off.

Guido has this.

(PS, for the daft, this is a joke)

Donorgate: Labour's fifth man?

There is an article in the Telegraph online, which will probably make it into the paper today. It leads on Peter Hain and his "administrative error" (which will be the subject of a later post) but goes on to give some interesting information.

George Crawford, a Newcastle based solicitor has been doing some digging and found that a George Crawford had donated £36,000 to Labour in 2004. The thing is that was not George Crawford the solicitor and he suspects his identity may have been stolen. He has has a complaint to Northumbria police who have passed that on to Scotland yard.

So Donorgate looks set for yet another round.

Meanwhile, no one responsible for this has resigned except Peter Watt. Wendy Alexander still hangs on despite the fact that her position has gone way passed untenable. Peter Hain is still there as well. Harriet Harman who ought as a lawyer to know still is as well.

Shocking isn't it? More on Donorgate here.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Paul Gray resigned for 13 days!

Paul Gray the senior civil servant in charge of losing 25 million records at the HMRC resigned for 13 days! That beats most Labour ministers on the resignation reappointment stakes.

He also gets the same money, but is now working in the Cabinet office for Sir Gus O'Donnell.

Has he paid back his severance money?

Channel 4 News,which broke the story has this. Well, when they have a link on their website here I will add it. It lead there news today.

Update 22:12

Apparently a spokesman for the Cabinet office has been on to the BBC and told them he is merely working out his notice, as that was felt to be better value for the tax payer.

Fair enough... if true.

Donorgate: What is the point of more laws?

When the current problem is Labour party senior figures failing to comply with the current ones either through incompetence or sheer mendacity.

For more on donorgate see here.

Peter Hain admits failing to declare all donations, Again!?

Just what is going on. Peter Hain was forced to confess last week that he had not declared a £5,000 donation last week. He blamed that on an "administrative error" Now, after Guido wheedled out the truth from a donor and Peter Hain's SpAd, Joe Carberry Hain has confessed to other donations not reported at all.

Peter Hain claims that this was part of a process of his team double checking all donations according to the BBC here. Anyone believe him?

Wendy Alexander: I won't resign!

Oh yes you will, but maybe just not yet.

In a laughable statement Wendy Alexander insisted she will not resign, and indeed the Electoral commission will exonerate her of any intentional wrongdoing. Her statement is as follows:
I deeply regret the damage which recent publicity has brought to the Labour party.

However, I reject any suggestion of intentional wrongdoing on my part. I intend to address these matters with the Electoral Commission, with whom I am co-operating fully.

I am confident when all the facts are known I will be exonerated of any intentional wrongdoing.
Well, it will soon be a police inquiry because intent is not in the law it is one of strict liability. She will have to show that they did check it was a permissible donation and frankly I don't think they can do that. It does get worse though. As I said in this post, it is clear that her husband knew the wheels had come off three weeks before she stated she had only just heard about it.

There is much speculation that she has been pressurised into staying on by Gordon Brown's team as her going would cause immense trouble in Westminster, not least for the hapless Harriet Harman who as yet has still failed to declare massive loans used to fund her successful campaign to become Labour deputy leader. It is clear Harriet Harman is in breach of the law and as a former Solicitor General knows she cant claim ignorance as a defence.

Well, it is true that Wendy Alexander resigning now would be a disaster for Labour north and south of the border. Wendy was supposed to be rebuilding Labour in Scotland and to be frank they have few other options out of a very limited talent pool. It would cause immense problems for Labour at Westminster as well. If Harriet goes who is next? Does she know where Gordon Brown has buried the bodies?

The problem is that Wendy Alexander will have to be arrested and questioned under caution and will have to resign at some point so all that is happening is the pain is being drawn out. All the other consequences that Gordon is afraid of will follow any way.

It is not a question of if Wendy Alexander resigns, but when.

The BBC has this.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Donorgate, the hole gets bigger!

One of the most interesting things about donor scandals is how the donors don't like the party they have donated to spinning against them.

The Independent on Sunday carries this front page entitled "I accuse" in which David Abrahams not only says that he told Jon Mendelsohn of his donation methods in April but suspects that the seating arrangement was no accident. This was at a meeting in April.

The article goes on to say that 10 senior Labour officials were in the know, and whilst he won't reveal them in the press, he will pass that all on to the police when they ask.

David Abrahams has also penned this piece in Independent on Sunday as an op-ed article in which he makes clear his motivation for keeping his anonymity and how losing it would be a deal breaker.

Then there is this in the Sunday Times in which David Abrahams claims that 10 senior Labour officials knew about the way in which he donated. No rogue official then? Labour are of course denying this.

Gordon Brown's tight fist kills 14

The report into the crash of a Nimrod surveillance aircraft is due next week. It covers the crash that claimed the lives of 14 RAF servicemen from RAF Kinloss.

The Sunday Times carries this damning article on how the faults were warned about, and how a 2004 report was produced at the governments request, saying that a replacement could not be delayed because of the specific faults in the aging aircraft, related to the 1982 Falklands war rapid fit of air to air refueling. The report was ignored for financial reasons, and no work around was looked for or implemented.

Other incidents and reports highlighted the problem, and again because Gordon Brown was too tight, they were not acted on.

Wendy Alexander to resign: Official!

Wendy Alexander, leader of Labour at Holyrood is to resign in the the next few days, or take the whole of Labour in Scotland with her.

It is clear from the front page of Scotland's Sunday Herald that her position has become entirely untenable.

The issue is related to party funding, more specifically the funding of her campaign to become leader of the Labour group in the Scottish parliament after the resignation of Jack McConnell. Wendy ended up getting the job unchallenged. However just in case she had a campaign fund organised which she used to fund a tour instead.

The crucial thing is where the money came from. One donation appeared to come from a company called CPS, but they have denied that and on further digging it turned out to come from a Paul Green of Jersey, who is not registered to vote in the UK and so not a permissible donor. That much has been admitted by the soon to be former leader of Labour in Scotland, Wendy Alexander.

Well OK, mistakes happen.

Well it has now all started to hit the fan,because it is now a question of who knew what and when. Wendy's position was that she only found about it last Thursday. That now looks a bit less credible than Comical Ali's assurances that America was about to be defeated in that famous Baghdad press conference with American tanks in the background.

Guido published this this letter from Wendy personally thanking Paul Green for his donation and sent to his address in Jersey. Wendy Alexander's team argue that whilst it came from a company entitled to donate, the letter had to go to an individual...

well the Sunday Herald's article linked to above and here just blows that apart. They have got hold of an electronic copy of a secret donor list which not only lists Paul Green as the donor, rather that the company he does not own, CPS but also clearly questions its legality. It gets worse. It looks like it was typed up on here husbands computer.

The time is definitely up for Wendy Alexander. Word has it that her brother "wee Dougie" Douglass Alexander is not going to have a good week next week either.

The Sunday Herald also has this and this on just how sleazy Labour are.

Can it get worse for Labour? I suspect it can.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Brown, Mendelsohn and dirty money

Well, David Abrahams has been on TV saying that he discussed the round about route of donating money with Jon Mendelsohn in April, a claim Jon Mendelson hotly denies.

However, you may like to read this about Labour, influence and the buying thereof, and how it may involve both Gordon Brown and Jon Mendelsohn.

Hat tip to Rod Crosby on

Friday, November 30, 2007

Donorgate: Its like watching a really bad accident in slow motion

Words fail me.

We now hear that Peter Hain, he of the moral high ground and perma tan forgot to declare a donation of £5,000 from .. Jon Madelsohn? He of the I am Gordon Brown's chief fund raiser.

We have Harriet Harman's team on the verge of war with Gordon Brown's over her donorgate donation as they seem to have passed it on.

This is just getting to bizarre for words.

All politicians are sullied by this. Let us not forget that. As a Conservative party we can't promise to be purer than pure or whiter than white, that is impractical, however we can aspire to deliver. It is better to under promise and over deliver than to be caught in this latest sleaze storm.

Gillian Gibbons jailed for insulting Islam?

You are having a laugh surely? The people who are insulting Islam, the Prophet Mohamed, peace be upon him and religion in general are the horrendously loony people who have been offended by anything she has done.

Mohamed is a normal name in the region, and there is no sane reason why a child's cuddly toy can't have a normal name.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Donorgate: Has it got worse?

The donorgate scandal will not only not go away but seems to be getting worse.

According to this article in today's Telegraph people are beginning to question how a man of David Abrahams apparent means and wealth could donate quite as much as he has through third parties.

There is speculation that he is just a front.

If so, where does the money really come from and what influence is it trying to buy?

This could get worse. Hard to believe I know, but it could.

Mohamed the Teddy bear: An insult to Islam?

I have to say that I was not surprised at the arrest of Gillian Gibbons after the naming of a class teddy bear Mohamed. I had presumed that it was primarily to get her off the streets as there are some veritable nutters in the Sudan. I had up until now bought the Sudanese foreign ministry line that it was a storm in a teacup.

The issue has not become far more serious as she has been charged with "insulting religion" and "inciting hatred".

This is utter contemptible tosh.

Let us be straight. People call their children Mohamed, who may go on to do great things, or go on to be infamous criminals.

A child's toy on the other hand will always remain a hero in the minds of the children.

The world, and in particular the Muslim world needs to tell this lot of lunatics that in fact they are talking utter tosh. There is no breach of any law.

The BBC has this

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

From Stalin to Mr Bean: A remarkable transformation!

This is how Vince Cable described Gordon Brown at Prime Ministers Questions.

Very very funny.

He went on to say that he brings chaos out of order rather than order out of chaos. The house fell about laughing.

Just how bad can it get?

Look, there I am, busy with other things, like sorting out my garage, and Labour appears to be in absolute collapse.

We now learn (For example in this article in the Daily Mail) that one of the people use to channel funds to Labour, Janet Dunn knows nothing about it, it has not passed through accounts she controls, is upset about it, and is a Conservative voter.

Clearly there has got to be a serious suspicion in the part of the police that a criminal offence has been committed. So who will make the complaint?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Conservatives gain biggest poll lead since 1988!

According to this poll in the Independent.

It gives the Conservatives 40% (-1), Labour 27% (-6) and the Liberal Democrats 18 (+2) which according to the article would give the Conservatives a 64 seat majority and the largest turn over in seats of any party coming in to power.

The article does say this is after Gordon Brown's worst week. Well, those events have not settled in, and Labour are embroiled in a growing funding scandal. Its only Tuesday, this week could be worse than last week!

Labour general Secretary resigns as funding scandal goes nuclear

Its true that today Gordon Brown promised more nuclear. I am not quite sure this is what he had in mind.

Peter Watt, the somewhat youthful general secretary of the Labour party resigned today after having admitted that he knew that the secret donations came from Mr David Abrahams. His defence was that he was not aware of the law, and after the scandal broke sought legal advice.

Nice try Peter, however ignorance of the law is no defence.

What is scary though, is that someone could be placed in such a position without the knowledge or training to do the job. It would be a bit like putting a university history lecturer in charge of safety at a nuclear plant. Bound to lead to disaster.

It goes deeper though. This "arrangement" of which Peter Watt was aware appears to have been going on since before he took over. Did the previous general secretary know?

It gets worse (I kid you not) in that there was a "secret" donation to Harriet Harmans campaign. Did she know?

And worse still, David Abrahams company Durham Green Developments Ltd have been granted planning permission after "negotiation" with the highways agency (Then run by "wee" Douglas Alexander) for a £60 million pound development.

When this story first broke, I though that this could get embarrassing, but that it was the work of a rogue donor. It now appears to be getting worse by the day. What is more, the press are still furiously digging. One of the conduits for the laundered donations is a solicitor apparently who ought soon (if that is the case) to be an ex solicitor. We have the property deals, though wee Dougie has denied that he had anything to do with it, but most importantly of all, we have the fact that this appears to have been a long standing arrangement to subvert the law.

You just could not make this up!

Guido has this, the Telegraph has this, the Times has this, and the Daily Mail has this.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

It was no junior official!

The government line, spin, or more accurately downright lie, over the loss of 25 million child benefit records is that it was a junior official acting on his own against laid down, and by implication followed procedure.

This story in todays Sunday Times blows that completely out of the water as apparently there is a bot of security. There were only 3 people with the clout to have the passwords to download the data, and lets face it, they must have asked why.

This is clearly not a rogue and more a systematic failure.

Labour in another party funding scandal?

Labour are in yet another party funding scandal as the Mail on Sunday carries the new that a jobbing builder has donated Labour £200,000 without his knowledge nor I doubt the tax payments to justify his generosity.

The crux of the story is that Ray Ruddick who drives a battered transit van and lives in an ex council house he purchased from the council 7 years ago for £12,000 pounds is listed as having donated about £200,000, making him Labour's third biggest donor since Gordon Brown took over.

He initially denied donating at all, but has curiously admitted the last donation he is claimed to have made after some thought. That was for £80,000.

The thing that smells for me is that I can't see him being able to write a cheque that large in one go. That means that someone else should have been mentioned to the electoral commission, and that does not appear to be the case.

Update 12:39

The BBC now has this
. It could get embarrassing

Labour are doomed!

There is an interesting comment piece in the Times, from Saturday by Matthew Parris, who I appreciate is no Labour cheerleader.

However I did like this quote:

I am absolutely sure that Mr Brown hasn't got it, never had it, and won't get it. For those of us who always believed and wrote this, the prospect of writing him off is easier to stomach than for those who thought they detected buried treasure and are still half-waiting for it to be uncovered.


Well, where to begin? the knives are out for Gordon!

I like, and I have to say it has a habit of having contributers who throw up some interesting stories.

Last week was not good for Labour or Gordon Brown.

Next week is set to make last week look like there best week ever.

Oh dear. (For Labour, me I'm lovin' it!)

Saturday, November 24, 2007

You have paid with money to use the pool? They have paid with limbs!

There is a disgusting nasty piece of work, believed to be a 30 year old woman who has in my view no right to live in this country, who abused injured servicemen whilst in a pool, according to this article in the Daily Mail.

She claimed she paid money to use the pool.

They paid in limbs.

She makes me sick. She makes me angry. Very very very angry.

She should be named and shamed so that we all know who this disgusting nasty low life is, and can look her in the eye and tell her what we think of her small minded ignorance.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Conservatives get biggest poll lead since 1992

According to Channel 4 news, the Conservatives have there biggest poll lead over Labour since 1992. The poll was conducted since the news broke of the data loss at the child benefit office.

the Conservatives get 41% (NC) Labour 32% (-3) and the Liberal Democrats 14% (+1). (From the last poll held on the 18th of November).

If you feed that into Anthony Wells election calculator that gives the Conservatives a majority of 12, with the Conservatives on 331 seats, Labour on 264, the Liberal Democrats 24 and others on 31.

Well, that does not look good for Labour.

Channel 4 has this.

Steve McClaren sacked Shocker!

In a moved which appears to have caught absolutely no one by surprise the FA has sacked Steve McClaren and Terry Venables.

The decision was unanimous apparently.

Now all we need is players (apart from Beckham) who play like they care. David Beckham already does.

The BBC has this.

Bank Chiefs deny delaying blunder announcement

One of the reasons why the government alleges it delayed the announcement of the child benefit data going missing is that "the banks had to get ready".

The Times reports on page three of this article as follows:

Last night bankers reacted angrily to a suggestion by Mr Darling that he had delayed his announcement because the financial sector was “adamant” it needed time to prepare. A senior City source said: “By 9.30 on Monday we were ready to run. It is hard to fathom why any suggestion was made that any delay was down to us.”

So someone somewhere is telling porkies, and it is not the bankers. They need to resign.

It does get worse though. According to this report they helpfully put the password on a compliment slip in the same envelope in some cases, removing the need for either a brute force attack or any other hacking method. Nice. The police are also looking at several other offences that staff wish to be taken into account.

It is clear this is not the fault of one junior official but a systematic practice which started when Brown was chancellor.

What a plonker!

The Telegraph has this over how the government was warned this would happen, whilst the Guardian has this on how this affects ID cards.

As a point of note ministers pop up with the untruth (for it to be a lie, they would have to have a clue what the truth is, and they don't) that our ID card data will be protected by bio metrics. Laughable. The fact is that government staff will be able to access your data without you having to unlock it, and on this lots form will be able to download the lot of it to disc and walk out with it.

Useless bunch.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

England lose to Croatia 2-3 and are out of Euro 2008

And with regret I think we deserved it.

It is not the managers fault either. Fundamentally the players lack the spirit to win. The England Rugby team had spirit by the bucket load, this lot lacked any spirit what so ever.

The BBC has this

Gordon Brown is right: Alistair Darling should not resign!

Because it turns out that the decision to send all the sensitive data in the post, far more than the National Audit Office actually wanted was made in March when Alistair Darling was not Chancellor. Clearly the chancellor at the time should go as he can't run a whelk stall. One Gordon Brown.

Apparently a senior business manager decided that filtering out the sensitive data was too "burdensome". He needs to go as well.

Mean while, after the horse has bolted Gordon Brown has ordered a review into data security.

The BBC has this.

25 Million records lost in the post! Its not about the money!

Well, we have 25 million records containing very personal data and it has gone missing.

It was sent unregistered in the internal post some say because managers skimp on these things (now there is a shock? not!) and when it did not arrive it was sent recorded.

This all misses the point.

No one individual, from PM to cleaner (Her Majesty possibly excepted) should have been able to extract this data in the first place, let alone be able to put it on a CD and be daft enough to send it anywhere, in particular, where they had not asked for that level of detail.

In short there is something very sick about how this government handles our data and its regard for us as individuals.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

25 million records missing including bank details and national insurance numbers!

Apparently according to some reports of the statement given by Alistair Darling, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, copies of 25 million records have gone missing.

This happened because some junior official sent it to the National Audit office, who sent it back. Then it was sent again by unrecorded post in October. It did not arrive so they sent it again by recorded post.

Can you believe that? Why on earth were they sending this data to the NAO in the first place by any kind of post?

This is a complete beach of the Data protection act.

The BBC has this on the statement of Alistair Darling.

Government loses yet more private data and still wants ID cards?

The Inland Revenue and Customs, the sub department of the Treasury dumped together in a rushed ill thought out merger has lost the details of 15 million child benefit claimants, which will include just about all the information needed for ID theft on a grand scale.

The Chairman of Revenue and Customs, Paul Gray has resigned.

Ministers have apparently been aware of this breach for some 10 days, but as yet they have not seen fit to tell any of us until today. Alistair Darling, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, is due to make a second uncomfortable statement in the House of Commons later.

What is unbelievable is that this bunch expect us to let them collect all our personal information in one place. Do they seriously expect to be trusted with that?

The BBC has this on the lost records and this on Paul Gray's resignation.

Northern Rock Shares suspended 5 times so far today!

In what has been a very bad day fro Northern Rock shareholders shares have now fallen to 93p per share down from £12 in February.

The collapse also covers the time when the former CEO was urging others to buy shares whilst selling his. I wonder if that will lead to a law suit against him.

It also does not bode well for the tax payer getting their money back, with £24 billion lent directly and many more billions used to guarantee depositors funds.

The question to be asked about Northern Rock's shares is "how low can they go?"

The BBC has this.

Northern Rock crisis, Is it going from bad to worse?

The Northern Rock crisis seems to be going from bad to worse. In what can't have been much of a surprise to anyone none of the bids for Northern Rock valued the bank at its current share price. Given the fact that it is in a fire sale and its chief executive was selling shares whilst encouraging others to buy them that seems fair.

We now have the position where there are doubts, however small that the taxpayer may not get all the money this government piled in back, and even if they do, it may be some considerable time yet.

Politically the fallout may be landing. In the initial aftermath of the run on the Northern Rock it looked like no one was blaming the government. Now you can't be quite so sure.

We will find out soon enough, there are some more polls due out soon. I would not be surprised to see Labour dipping some more on what has been fairly relentless bad news.

The Times has this
whilst the Guardian has this and the Telegraph has this.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Is Gordon Brown's government failing apart already?

There will come a time when Labour will fail to win an election, in my view that will be the next one, though I may be wrong. When they do, people will try and look back and see when the tide turned.

I suspect that the main focus is going to be on both the Conservative party conference of this year and the election that never was.

Up until the autumn it has be be grudgingly admitted that Gordon Brown had been doing a good job of being prime ministerial. He appeared to be dealing with the issues that came up as and when they did without looking like a messianic nutter (not that I have any one in particular in mind, oh no!).

Then the polls looked so good, that Gordon could call an election he had insisted on taking office that he did not need to, that he would win hands down.. in the run up to the party conference season.

It was always obvious that the wheels were going to come off that plan, because it was also always obvious that the Conservatives were going to get a conference bounce. However the speculation continued to be driven by those close to Brown (For that, read Ed "blinky" Balls and wee Dougie Alexander) to a point that when Brown said he was not going to call one because he wanted to shell out his vision the press smelt a rat (well, two, Blinky and wee Dougie) and have been at the government ever since.

We are now in a position where the Conservatives, in the latest poll by the Sunday Times, by Yougov lead Labour by 6 points, being on 41% (NC), Labour on 35% (-4) and the Liberal Democrats on 13% (+2). Well, to be fair that is no great shakes, but what is staggering is the change in fortunes of Gordon Brown's personal ratings. From a net approval rating of 30 (59% of people thinking he is doing a good job to 29% not) collapsing to -10! (33% good, 43% bad).

It has to be said the turnaround is staggering, though not irreversible. Well, I say that, I think there are dark forces in Labour looking to make it so. Leaks and briefings are again rife. We have this about David Milliband apparently being blamed for a campaign to destabilise the PM.

We have had stories about Gordon Brown and his tight cabal running all of government, in Brown's bunker first raised here in the FT, with this in the Times today about people leaping to the defence of Gordon Brown whilst there is this in today's Daily Mail about how government is constipated and dysfunctional according to senior civil servants.

The question is then this:

Will this government recover?

The answer is not while Ed "blinky" Balls, Ed Milliband and wee Dougie Alexander are in effect senior commanders. The problem this government has is that is the sum total of people Gordon Brown appears to trust.

Calamity Clegg and Cockup Chris!

I am sorry to any Liberal Democrats out there but when I heard this story break I did have to laugh.

The one thing that has so far characterised the latest Liberal Democrat Leadership campaign has been its sheer dullness and an almost complete lack of media interest...

That is until there is some dirt about, and now there is in the form of a "briefing note" sent out on Friday by "team Huhne" which caused a bit of a stir on this mornings politics show. That note was entitled "Calamity Clegg" and was sent out on Friday. Cockup Chris has been forced to apologise blaming the title of the document on an overzealous researcher, whilst standing by the contents highlighting policy "flip flops" Nick "Calamity" Clegg. Does that fill anyone with confidence? A choice between a flip flopper and a man whose team let the teas boy put titles on serious press briefings?

Well, it doesn't impress me, though it did make me laugh!

The BBC has this.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Hooray! Israel win 2-1 keeping England's hopes alive!

Well that is I have to say fantastic news! Israel beat Russia 2 - 1 so England can still qualify.

Unfortunately Scotland lost to Italy, 1 - 2 and are out.

England Expects Every Israeli to do his duty!

Or at least their football team. England need Israel to win or draw with Russia for England to still have a chance of qualifying, as we lost against Russia.

So far so good, Israel lead 1-0.

Fingers crossed!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Barry George gets a retrial at his appeal!

I have to say I am pleased. he is guilty, in fact guilty as hell, but only of being odd.

Is he guilty of killing Jill Dando? Somehow I doubt it. In any case there is little evidence that I have heard of which makes me think he did it.

I await seeing what happens in a new trial.

The BBC has this.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Targets "let dangerous criminals slip the net"

Targets "let dangerous criminals slip the net" is the headline of this article in the Times today.

The long and short of it is that a police constable or indeed their force gets the same points score for convicting a murderer or pedophile as it does for convicting a burglar.

This comes from Peter Neyroud, chief executive of the National Policing Improvement Agency who is also a former Chief Constable.

Well, two things spring to mind. Firstly it shows that if you set targets, you need to understand how they can be met, without achieving your ends, and secondly that this government has not got a clue about how to set targets or what effect its targets are having on the ground.

Home Office in even bigger fiasco Shocker!

Its hard to believe it but the Home office is drifting into an even bigger fiasco.

After weeks of discovering that the government had not got a clue about how many immigrants were working in the UK, and had to keep revising their figures, it then emerge that a government agency had cleared up to 5,000 illegal immigrants to work in "security". Well, many of these worked in Whitehall, and what is more damaging is that the Home Office new in August, as did alleged Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, but they were hoping no one else would notice.

Well, The Daily Mail has, and has this story here.

Toughening rape laws?

I always get concerned when I here someone wants to toughen rape laws up, largely because I don't think they understand what the problem is, though perhaps that is me. Either way more research needs to be done.

Firstly the reason for raising the subject is that David Cameron has, along with some scary statistics that indicate some people (a worryingly large percentage) seem to thing forcing sex on people is OK.

The problem we have is one of evidence. In stranger rape lack of consent is easy to show, and I suspect that most, but with regret not all, jurors would not buy the "she was asking for it" argument. These rapes apparently form 17% of rapes. Apparently "date rapes" form only 4% which I have to say surprised me. The rest, seem to be made up of either people known to the victim, or partners/spouses (running at about 50%).

You are on a jury. Two people known to each other have had intercourse. The facts are virtually mutually agreed, apart from one key detail, consent. Each witness is totally convincing. Can you convict beyond reasonable doubt?

One thing that David Cameron did do was to compare our rape conviction sates with both the past, and other countries. The problem is what is legally rape is different now from the past, and also more narrowly defined abroad, so there would need to be much research to establish what is going on. We have apparently 5 times the rate of rape of Italy. Is this because we are by comparison morally bankrupt or is what constitutes rape and what people report as rape different?

Above all this seems to be more of a social problem than a legal one, or at least the solutions are. It could not possibly be right that that we lower the burden of proof required for one of our most serious crimes.

One interesting thing to come out of David Cameron's speech was that those convicted of rape are serving shorter sentences than 10 years ago. That needs some serious looking at as well.

The BBC has this

Sunday, November 11, 2007

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.

Conservatives lead Labour by 8%!

In an ICM poll for the Sunday Express, the Conservatives have recorded a poll rating of 43%, the highest ICm have recorded since 1992.

The full figures are: Conservatives 43% (+3) Labour 35% (no change?) and the Liberal Democrats on 15% (-3)

On Anthony Wells electoral calculator that would give a Conservative majority of 6, with them on 328, Labour on 273, and the Liberal Democrats on 21.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Outrageous and disgusting behaviour that ought to be criminal!

I was watching a program on channel 4 presented by Ian Hislop called Not Forgotten.

One of the things they covered was the recovery of a workplace war memorial which was found broken up and incomplete in a skip!

This is disgusting! How dare someone or anyone treat such a thing with such contempt. It ought to be criminal! The least they could have done is remove it complete and pass it one to someone who is not quite so despicable as to want it removed in the first place.

Channel 4 has this.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Gurkha's make Taliban melt away.

I just saw an interesting report on BBC news 24. Our last remaining Gurkha battalion is serving in southern Afghanistan, on foot and deep into Taliban territory. However, the Taliban seem somewhat reluctant to engage.

I wonder why? Could it possibly be that the Gurkha's are above all one of the most feared fighting forces on the planet?

You have to ask why we are now only down to one Gurkha battalion when we did have five, and we could have twenty. The Taliban will not mess with the Gurkha's, they now better.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Army Supply chain Chaos caused soldiers death shocker!

Whilst I am deeply saddened to hear that the death of Fusilier Gordon Gentle was mostly due to an admin cock up it has to be noted that this was always the case.

The Ministry of Defence is a failing department, and was so when it was the Ministry of War (a title which is at least honest, you know where you are with a country that has a Ministry of war) since before the Crimean war. The whole lot is useless, and ought to be burnt down and restarted from scratch.

The BBC has this.

Be Thin, Be Fat, Die anyway!

News reached us a few days ago that being a bit underweight lessened your risk of cancer, now we have a study that says being a bit overweight makes you live longer.


You will be after the next episode of Soap! (Or after reading any medical advice in the mass media).

The Independent has this.

Editors note:

Studies note that it is easier to enjoy life whilst alive, as there are few studies indicating how the afterlife is to be enjoyed and the effects of enjoying life on enjoyment of the afterlife.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Jacqui Smith: Without a clue?

I listened with some shock and amusement to Jacqui Smith, alleged Home Secretary on BBC Radio 4's Today program talking about extending the time people can be held without charge from 28 days.

Despite repeated questioning she had no clue as to how long she would like them to be held, though did concede that no one had so far needed to be held longer.

Is it just me is is it worryingly bonkers that they do not seem to know how much of our civil liberties they want to take away?

Today's home page is here, whilst you can listen to the alleged Home Secretary dither here.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Pakistan the Dilemma!

General Musharraf has quite outrageously suspended the constitution of Pakistan, and is clearly acting against civil society. That is clearly very bad. However he is also locking up lawyers left right and center.

Such a dilemma! Do I condemn him for the bad things he is doing and ignore the good or vice versa?

Now that is a toughy :)

The BBC has this.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Musharraf: Acting to protect democracy?

Apparently General Pervez Musharraf is acting to protect democracy, whilst no doubt Osama Bin laden is looking to bring about world peace.

Perhaps they have missed their vocation in life, they should surely have been comedians?

The BBC has this.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Immigrants: Over here and stealing our Jobs? According to the FT

There is an interesting article in todays FT here, showing that the number of British workers in jobs has fallen by 270,000 whilst the same number of jobs have been created.

This has to be of great concern to politicians, as bluntly put, people vote, and for that, it is people who have the vote, on the money they have in their pocket. Immigrants don't have the vote and those that do are finding life a lot tougher.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Sorry, I may be away for a while, dealing with personal matters of a legal nature.

I may in the meantime run some hit and run articles, but I have some pressing matters to deal with.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Diplomas to replace 'A' Levels?

That old chestnut has come up again. Are diplomas going to replace A levels? It seems that the prime motivating factors are that some people are just no good at A levels, so don't get them and then do not go to university and some people are concerned that A level standards are dropping.

Well, some people want to, and indeed would benefit from a vocational education whilst others want to, and will benefit from an academic one. One size does not fit all!

The real problem is that there has been massive grade inflation in A levels. The students who now turn up at university with the supposedly required A levels to do a course now have to do remedial studies they did not used to have to do. If you don't believe me ask a university lecturer, particularly in engineering and the sciences.

I am not sure a diploma system will help. What we actually need to do is have some rigorous courses that are harder to pass.

The BBC has this.

Government to renege on renewable energy targets shocker!

Apparently according to this article in today's Guardian this Labour government is going to renege on its renewable energy targets, because it feels they are both expensive and impractical. Well, the way Labour do anything, getting out of bed in the morning looks impractical.

Climate change sceptics aside, and indeed all their arguments, the stark reality is that we are already behind India and the USA, despite the fact that we have potentially good opportunities in renewable energy. The problem here is as always a useless government.

Monday, October 22, 2007

£1 Million: The cost of the election that never was!

I have to say I am quite amused by this article in the Guardian. Apparently the election that never was cost Labour and the Unions one million pounds.

The Conservatives only spent £200,000.

And yet Labour whinge about the so called "Ashcroft money" when they are using funds which are not even theirs and piling up resources only for Gordon Brown to bottle it.

What is more surprising is that some people think that Gordon Brown did not in fact want an election. Well, I hate to see how much money he would spend on an election if it did happen, if he can tip £1 million on one he never wanted.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Another salvo fired as Labour infighting continues!

There seems to have been another salvo fired in the internal battles of Labour as Blairites seem to be taking some revenge on the Brown inner circle.

It must be said that at this stage it looks a bit low key, but the Mail on Sunday carries an article today which says that Tony Blair felt like an abused wife, whilst also serialising a book by Anthony Seldon, being a biography of Tony Blair.

The bit so far serialised covers just after the local elections in May 2006 when Labour did not do very well. It was written after many interviews with close members of Blair's team.

Needless to say it seems to have raised hackles in the Brown camp. Expect Ed "binky" Balls to be going off on one with steam pouring out of his ears.

The other interesting thing though, is this: It is clearly not very complimentary of Brown, or his team, yet was published in the Mail, albeit the Mail on Sunday. Paul Dacre editor of the Daily Mail is a close friend of Gordon Brown and that paper seems to be nice to Brown when you would not expect it to be. Its sister paper has no such hang ups. We could be getting an internal battle in the Mail camp as well.

The Police should stop more black people shocker!

"Police: stop more black suspects" is the headline for a front page article in today's Observer.

The Policeman making the plea is not known to have any links to the Klu Klux Klan, the BNP or any "white supremacist" movement, though some argue that he heads a racist organisation which excludes members of specific racial groups, namely the Black Police officers Association. He is Keith Jarrett.

It looks and sounds a lot more controversial than it is.

The fact is that there is a disproportionate amount of crime committed against "ethnic minorities" and that needs a solution. These crimes are also disproportionately committed by "ethnic minorities" so it does make sense for police to stop and search them more. However the most interesting line in the whole article is this:
Controversially, Jarrett said he would not oppose a random use of stop-and-search when officers had 'reasonable suspicion' an offence had been committed. He argued that, as long as officers used the powers courteously and responsibly, many within the black community would accept it as a necessary evil.
The thing which most grates anyone is lack of courtesy and makes the relationship of the police that much harder. In general the police are polite, largely because they know the people on their patch. That is good. However there is nothing quite so likely to "rile" people as the police jumping on easy technical offences whilst ignoring ones that effect people a lot more.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

A match too far? England lose to South Africa

Well, maybe it was a match too far, with England losing 15 points to 6 to South Africa.

It was a tough gritty match, and our team did all it could.

Well done and congratulations to South Africa for being fine winners and well done to England for turning around their game and getting to the final.

England stay in touch with South Africa after first half

Well, after the first half, we are still staying in touch with South Africa, only being down 9 points to 3. We do need to make sure we don't make silly mistakes though.

It is all still to play for in the second half. Our defence is holding out against some very real dangers. We do need to get closer to their touch in the second half though.

England play South Africa's Springboks in the Rugby world cup final!

I have to say I am quietly hopeful. England looked awful at the beginning of the tournament, but have dragged themselves up with sheer grit and determination.

As with all cup finals, either side could win it, even if South Africa are firm favourites. However if England stay in touch in terms of the score they could well snatch it in the dying minutes. I hope they do!

Is the Liberal Democrat leadership going to be the most boring ever?

Well, you do have to ask. It looks like it will be s straight fight between Nick Clegg and Chris Huhne. Or dull verses duller.

It is not that I think anyone else stands a chance, it just would be nice for a third or fourth candidate to add some interest to the competition. It would make the betting more interesting as well.

The two candidates did go "head to head" today, I would have taken some interest but alas fell asleep. The BBC has this here.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

How clean is your hospital?

Well, according to this report on the BBC (and carried elsewhere) probably not very. Half of all NHS trusts (44) are not carrying out infection control measures. In this day and age that is shocking. It has nothing to do with services being contracted out and everything to do with lack of management control. The report makes it clear that the variety of targets is part of the problem.

The other thing I found interesting was looking up to see how my local hospitals were doing. They seem "fair" on treatment and weak on use of financial resources. In short they are not managing the money, and neither are the local primary care trusts. This has led to threats to services.

Is the NHS really safe in Labour's hands?

No. they can't run a drinking session in a brewery.

Going back to targets, they are not in themselves a bad idea, however when setting targets it helps to keep an eye on the possible unintended consequences of what targets are set and what happens for meeting or failing to meet these targets. This is where the problems in today's NHS come from, and why A&E departments keep to their 4 hour waits whilst people wait to get in the door in an ambulance outside, or are bumped into a ward unnecessarily.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

England lose 2-1 to Russia.

Giving away a 1 nil lead thanks to a careless move from Rooney.

Right. I am going to sulk now.

We need to beat Croatia now.

Prime Ministers Questions: looked like a no score draw today

However Gordon Brown does not seem to be able to get his punchlines right which is a shame. He did have a good one about the Liberal Democrats and everyone in the parliamentary party could be in the err.... parliamentary party.

However we will have to wait and see how the main news reports it if at all.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

So will Charles Kennedy stand for the Liberal Democrat leadership?

Well, the question has to be asked. Will he be back? has Chat show Charlie kicked the habit or got it under control?

There is no doubt that having Charles Kennedy back as Liberal Democrat leader would be a big risk, but perhaps the bigger one would be not having him back?

The Liberal Democrats made the wrong choice last time. That much seems clear. They can't afford to repeat the mistake.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Sir Menzies Campbell resigns as Liberal Democrat leader!

Well, you could knock me down with a feather. It looks like the Liberal Democrats have knifed another leader Ming Campbell, the second time in this parliament.

Now don't get me wrong, I like to see a bit of infighting in Labour and the Liberal Democrats, but if anyone thinks this is going to help them they are much mistaken. Unless your party is led by a psychologically flawed dithering Stalinist control freak* perhaps you should ask not what your leader can do for you, but what you can do for your leader.

Still, I'll sit back and watch the fireworks, munching popcorn.

The BBC has this.

* Come on, if you are in that party, you know who you are :)

Liberal Democrats tearing themselves apart over Ming Campbell!

Well, there have been mutterings about Sir Menzies Campbell and his leadership of the Liberal Democrats for some time. It appears the dissenters key worry is the party's slide in the polls.

The thinking seems to go that if they had a different leader he could get more media coverage and hence get them up in the polls. As an example of such speculation see this on Lib Dem Voice.

I have just listened to quite a lot of open speculation on BBC Radio 4's World at One. Interesting.

I think that what the Liberal Democrats need to do is to wake up and smell the coffee. Firstly the government (currently Labour) makes most of the political weather, followed by the Conservatives as the largest opposition party in the commons, (and largest party in the land) then the others. At a time like this the Liberal Democrats are always going to struggle to be heard.

Change your leader if you feel like it, it wont make any difference.

Besides which us Conservatives like Ming Campbell.

The BBC has this.

The BBC also has this.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Let slip the Dogs of War: Labour infighting begins!

Well, to be fair there are always disagreements in political parties, it happens. Also, yesterdays men (or women) are often more respected by journalists looking to sell a news paper than by anyone else.

However the result of Gordon Brown's attacks, disloyalty and general nastiness towards Tony Blair may be coming home to roost. I took the view before Gordon organised his Stalinist coronation that the only thing worse than Gordon Brown becoming Labour leader would be him not becoming Labour leader. My thinking was that his troops, and indeed he, would make make Ted Heath look like an ardent loyalist.If he did get in, then not only would he be a disaster, but it would not take long for him to be resented and derided by his own side.

We are not entirely there yet, but people who six months ago were not the usual suspects (because they are not Brownites) but will be soon known as the usual suspects have started piping up and briefing the media. So far three have been named in the media, Stephen Byers, Alan Milburn and Charles Clarke. Obviously the press reports indicate that they are only speaking out because of wider mutterings (my arse! we will see) and we will have to see how it progresses. What I can say is that if this takes hold, then Gordon is in for a much tough time in the future than he has had in the past.

The Times has this
, the Observer this whilst the Mail on Sunday has this.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Conservatives ahead in the polls by 7%

In an ICM poll for tomorrow's Sunday Telegraph the Conservative party lead Labour by 7%. The results are as follows: Conservatives 43% (+5), Labour 36% (-2) and the Liberal Democrats on 14% (-2). Incidentally the figure for the Liberal Democrats is there lowest for some time with ICM. That won't help the jitters at Cowley Street.

So how does that play in commons seats? On Anthony Wells calculator that gives the Conservatives 320, Labour 285, the Liberal Democrats on 18 with others on 27, or a hung parliament.

England Beat France to go through to the World Cup final!

In a tough and gritty game, England beat France 14 - 9!

So lets see who we get in the Rugby World Cup final!

Labour to support Marriage in the tax system?

Andy Burnham, Labour's Chief Secretary to the Treasury is flying a kite in today's Telegraph. He has given an interview saying that marriage will be supported in the tax system. It is hard to believe that Gordon Brown was not aware of this development before it happened, though a report in the BBC adds the caveat that these are Andy's personal views. Perhaps this is just kite flying by Labour?

The funny thing is that so many Labour ministers have some out against Conservative proposals in the same area, and refused to say that marriage is a better structure for children. At the Labour party conference Gordon Brown even said:

"I say to the children of two-parent families, one-parent families, foster parent families; to the widow bringing up children: I stand for a Britain that supports as first-class citizens not just some children and some families but supports all children and all families," he said.

"We all remember that biblical saying: 'suffer the little children to come unto me'. No Bible I have ever read says: 'bring just some of the children'."

Can they really pull this off as a U turn? If they try I can imagine David Cameron quoting back the bible about heaven rejoicing when a sinner repents!

It seems that Labour are so bereft of there own ideas that they have to use ours wholesale. One panelist on last nights News Quiz on BBC Radio 4 said that Labour should be forced to give its pre budget report before the Conservative party conference whilst another suggested they should pu it in a sealed envelope instead.