Saturday, 31 March 2012

Playing politics, Cameron style.

We all know about 'Compassionate Conservatism' but it seems we now have confirmation of what has long been suspected with the release of this video and news report, namely 'Cynical Conservatism'.


I can't wait to see Cameron escape from this - as no doubt he will.


More importantly, is this but an extension of Cameron's view where membership of the EU is concerned?


Move over Heath, you've just been supplanted as our most hated figure!

Joke of the day?

Courtesy of An Englishman's Castle comes a comment on the German effect vis-a-viz Greece:
"Angela Merkel arrives at Passport Control in Athens.
"Nationality?" asks the immigration officer.
"German" she replies.
“Occupation?"
"No, just here for a few days".........
"
As AEC says, the old ones are always the best ones.............. 

The blind leading the blind

Charles Moore, in his usual Saturday op-ed piece in the Daily Telegraph heads his article: "Even I’m starting to wonder: what do this lot know about anything?". That a journalist is now starting to pose a question that many of us have been asking for yonks can but illustrate how out of touch journalism per-se has become. That the public believe that which they read - and are therefore guided in their opinion forming - also illustrates that for some time now the heading to this post has been only too evident. That Moore can, presumably straight-faced, write that anyone who thinks Cameron should not be Prime Minister is therefore a bigot, beggars belief. Where to begin? I shall not however, great though the temptation is, digress.

To any thinking man or woman it is becoming obvious that our system of democracy must be changed as that under which we presently live, namely representative democracy, is no better than democratised dictatorship or elective dictatorship - and can be likened to feudalism. The problem arises when one considers how change can be effected, because it sure ain't going to be effected through the ballot box - not today, or in the immediate future. One may initially question my use of the word 'feudalism', however bear in mind that our country has always, generally, been governed by what one may call the well-educated who have led the less well-educated. By control of the education system the political elite ensure the population per se are 'contained' whilst their control ensures a separate system of better education from which they can emerge. That is how the political elite ensure we remain feudal vassals.

When considering how change may be effected and knowing that it cannot be accomplished through the ballot box, most begin looking at some form of revolution, one involving a mass uprising - and yes, I am as guilty as the next man in that respect. But, with hindsight, consider: is the common man any better off now than he was prior to 1642? Are we not still governed by an elite over whom we have no control? And do not tell me that having a choice of dictator every five years is a form of control - please?

Almost two centuries later a further, initially peaceful, attempt to change our society began with the Chartist movement. This, we learn from Wikipedia, resulted in the political elite of the time viewing the movement as dangerous, refusing to negotiate with it or deal with its demands and eventually crushing it. We also learn that their ideals, as with most well-intentioned ideals, flourished in hard times but faded in prosperous times.

If it is accepted that change through the ballot box is presently impossible - impossible due to the stranglehold that the three main parties are able to exert on the electoral system coupled with their control of the media - then perhaps it is possible to adapt that of the Chartists with a view to effecting the change that is required. To those who will understandably counter that if the Chartists failed in their attempts to create a movement for change then how do I believe it possible to succeed where they failed, I can but point to the power of the internet -  also hopefully, with the participation and leadership of this blogger, those of us involved can ensure the idea does not fade, but gains traction. It is intended to return to this subject over the course of the next two or three days, so bear with me in the meantime.

One final thought and that is there may be some among my readers who will point out that I instigated a website, talkconsitution, with a view to creating change to our democratic system - so how long will this latest idea last. That is indeed true, but in my defense I have to plead that personal events in my life forced me to neglect that idea, however rest assured that that neglect will also be addressed within the next seven days. The effect on my personal life, vis-a-viz talkconstitution, has been mirrored by that of Ian Parker-Joseph, with the site he started - Judas Class. IPJ still has 'interests' that do not allow him, at this time, to further his project, however - and still to be discussed with him - I would hope to 'relaunch' his idea also.




Friday, 30 March 2012

False-flag politicians?

Toby Young has a most 'argumentative' article on the Spectator blog, an article in which he muses about 'Tory Rebels' and posits that a new type of politics has been born. Oh dear, my cynicism rises to the surface yet again!  According to research carried out by the University of Nottingham, there were rebellions in 179 of the 331 votes held in parliament between the election and last Christmas. That’s a defiance ratio of 43 per cent, quite without precedent in the postwar era. Wow! That begs the question that if this new intake are 43 per cent in disagreement with their party, why are they still members of that party? Also, according to what I believe is basic maths, 179 as a ratio of 331 is slightly more than 43 percent - but I digress.

Philip Cowley, the Nottingham professor who conducted the research, apparently has various theories as to why the 2010 intake are such a fractious bunch. Cowley cites what he calls ‘the Norman Baker factor’ — the fact that plum government jobs that would normally go to loyal servants of the Tory party have been given to second-rate Lib Dems. With so little hope of promotion, exacerbated by a lack of reshuffles, why would any ambitious new MP toe the line? To which one can but respond: sour grapes?

Toby Young quotes Daniel Hannan who cites the fact that whips used to be able to dangle 'foreign junkets' in front  of the troops, quoting Hannan thus:
"They used to be able to hand out foreign junkets, but these days who has the time to go off to Fiji?....In the wake of the expenses scandal, who would dare?"
Do tell, Mr Hannan - the difference twixt Fiji and the Congo is? The difference where this principle is concerned, twixt an MP and an MEP, is?


Toby Young then quotes Douglas Carswell, in respect of the '81 rebellion':
"The view that the new intake feel obliged to pay more than lip-service to their constituents is echoed by Douglas Carswell, the Conservative MP who played a pivotal role in last year’s EU rebellion. ‘After the vote, several people phoned me up and asked how I managed to pull it off,’ he says. ‘Look, we didn’t plot it in a basement in Westminster. It was 81 MPs responding to pressure from their constituents. I don’t have magical, charming persuasive powers. The pressure is coming from where it should, from the voters."
Great, in which case those 81 'rebels' won't mind producing all the emails and letters from their constituents then - you know, just to dispel the idea that those MPs were not just demonstrating their application of 'Burkes law'? 


Toby Young also quotes Louise Mensch, that well-known 'wall-flower' of the Conservative Party - you know, the one that posed for GQ magazine. According to Mensch, the social media allows her to 'communicate with people'; to 'interact'; to 'have a conversation' - but more importantly 'catapult herself into the spotlight'. Enough said on that score from someone who plaintively queried what she had to do in order to gain advancement.


Where Toby Young is concerned; where our politicians are concerned; where the media is concerned; where the electorate is concerned - just who is leading who 'by the nose'?


Cynic? Moi?

Smell the coffee

So alludes George Galloway, in what may be termed an explanatory (some may say self-congratulatory) article in CiF, at the end of which he writes:
"The media, especially the London media, should also smell the coffee. Something is happening in this country outside of the echo chamber. The council elections take place in May in many parts of the country: prepare for more shocks to come as people find their voices at the ballot box and in mass, democratic opposition to an elite that is failing them."
Yet again, a few questions:

  • How have people found their voices when a candidate conducts a cynical, opportunistic, campaign directed at one section of society, a section which comprises a majority?
  • How can people express their dissent in a mass democratic opposition to an elite that is failing them when the 'democratic system' that they are being asked to partake in is itself anything but democratic?
  • How can people express their dissent in a mass democratic opposition when parties that should be speaking for them, don't?
  • How can people express their dissent in a mass democratic opposition when they have been 'conditioned' not to think, but to accept that which they are told and consequently are 'uninformed'?
  • How can people express their dissent in a mass democratic opposition when that which they are asked to oppose has not been presented to them in an open, transparent manner, but in a 'selective' manner?
  • How can people express their dissent in a mass democratic opposition when those that they oppose care not one iota for the views of those they are meant to represent, but care only about their careers?
One day the people will discover the answers to those questions - and when they do, we will have our revolution!

Just saying......................

A few observations on respect

Understandably the airwaves are full of the news that George Galloway has triumphed in the Bradford West by-election, with accusations full of recrimination coupled with other articles containing supposed enlightened comment flying about left, right and centre. Methinks all need to calm down as one or two matters do not appear to have been considered, namely;

  • What percentage of the votes cast for Galloway were postal votes;
  • What percentage of those postal votes were from the ethnic electorate;
  • What were the percentages of ethnic votes by races and religion;
  • What percentage of those postal votes could be considered 'justifiable';
  • Galloway has in the past shamelessly played the 'Palestine' factor while campaigning; consequentl he brought together his anti-war, pro-Palestine views and aimed his message at the ethnic community;
  • Galloway is a politician and consequently any views he expresses about speaking and caring for the people of Bradford West can only be viewed with suspicion, especially when one bears in mind his parliamentary attendance just before and after the 2005 general election.
In view of the above I would tend to disagree with those who hold that this result was a rejection of the Lib/Lab/Con and all for which those parties stand. Is not the public perception of our political elite as one that comprises white, educational elitists who have never had a real job and consequently invite ridicule when they talk about hard-working families? Was this not a by-election and not are such events renowned for protest votes?


Cranmer has written what can be considered a condemnation of Ukip and Nigel Farage, which brought forth a comment on twitter that Ukip needed to change their strategy in order to win - a comment which, in turn, prompted my response querying how can one change something that does not exist in the first place. To be fair to Ukip, it could be suggested that they were on what may be termed a hiding to nothing in a constituency that contains significant numbers from abroad, a section of our population that Ukip have vowed to repatriate.


It is worth considering other factors following the result of Bradford West. 

  • With Galloway being a 'lone voice' in Westminster, will he now be ostracised by his fellow MPs?
  • Has Galloway 'debased' our electoral system with what may be termed a cynical campaign in which he targeted and exploited ethnicity?
  • Has the policy of multiculturalism not polarised the political views of electorates as a result of ghettoising areas of the country - for example, Bradford, Leicester and Newham?
  • Would Direct Democracy, with that system's inbuilt ability of the electorate to challenge government policy, have allowed multiculturalism and wars to proceed?
  • Had Direct Democracy been the 'norm', would the platform on which Galloway stood have existed; and would politicians such as Galloway exist?
Just asking....................

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Mixed messages

Today, in the Daily Telegraph, we have two articles - here and here - reporting how Cameron intends to give people choice over which schools and hospitals they use together with control to local parish or neighbourhood councils over their local streets and parks, as a result of planned reform to public services.

Douglas Carswell waxes lyrical over these plans, writing that "David Cameron today announces plans to give people a legal right to choose what public services they get. He promises to end “the closed state monopoly where central government decides what you get, and how you get it" - an announcement, he writes, that has sent him off to his Easter recess with a spring in his step. He also writes that at the moment we have very little say over how government spends all the money we give it, or what they buy on our behalf.

During a recent, brief, conversation with Daniel Hannan I took the opportunity to query whether his vision of Direct Democracy - as outlined in "The Plan", the tome he co-authored with Douglas Carswell - meant that central government would only be responsible for a few matters, such as foreign affairs and defence, with the remainder, such as law & order, health and education, being devolved to local authorities. This he agreed was the case, making the point that local authorities would be the equivalent of Swiss Cantons.

Now Hannan's statement must be one with which Carswell agrees, which makes the latter's exultation with Cameron's statement a tad bewildering. I fail to see how providing a choice over which hospital or school we get to use is empowerment of the people, when Cameron and his government have just spent a few bruising weeks getting their proposals for how the NHS will be managed, said proposals set by central government, and which will be imposed on us all. The NHS debacle is surely no more than a continuation of the closed state monopoly where central government decides what you get, and how you get it - yet another example of a Cameron policy which does not do what it says on the tin. Where was the choice in that for the people - and it is surely a process which is a complete anathema to Carswell's core beliefs in Direct Democracy.

Another matter where I consider Carswell is being a tad disingenuous is his statement that we have very little say over how government spends all the money we give it, or what they buy on our behalf. The truth of the matter is that we do not give any money to government, it is extracted from us. We do not have very little say - we have no say.

Ever since my youth I have been an aficionado of westerns which at that time mainly involved cowboys and indians. From that era I can but paraphrase, where Cameron, Carswell and Hannan are concerned:

Blue man speak with forked tongue.

Just saying...........

Pasty trivia

Lo and behold, George Osborne slaps VAT on pasties and we get stories in our media of politicians who just love pasties and promptly visit Greggs, accompanied of course by the required press photographer and reporter. We also get sketch pieces that gloss over the 'elephant in the room' aspect which in the process makes a mockery of politician's and journalist's gravitas alike.


Now if only the EU would slap a tax on gas ovens..............

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings..........

Daniel Hannan, on his Daily Telegraph blog, writes about a move by MEPs to take away what is presently allowable funding from the BNP.

In respect of the BNP, Hannan writes:
"We are, without question, talking about nasty parties, extreme even within the foetid world of neo-fascism....Most of parties in question subscribe to an ideology called ‘Third Positionism’, whose roots lie in Strasserism and National Bolshevism, and whose adherents describe themselves as ‘beyond Left and Right’. They want authoritarian governments, high tariff walls, regulated economies, confiscatory taxation and the repatriation of immigrants."
"Authoritarian governments"; "regulated economies"; "confiscatory taxation" - hell, Daniel, thought you were writing about the Conservative Party for a minute......

Later, Hannan writes:
"Not that greed is the main motive here; narcissism is. No one really imagines that €289,266 will pay for a pan-European Nazi revival, but plenty of MEPs see the opportunity to preen and look important and, in effect, say: ‘Look how nice I am: I hate those evil fascists even more thanyou do!’ They are all for diversity, provided it doesn't extend to diversity of opinion."
And Conservative eurosceptics don't preen and tell us they hate the evil EU even more than we do? That they hate the EU provided it does not involve cessation of EU membership?

Tsk, tsk: it is indeed fortunate for Carswell and Hannan that their disciples among the public suffer from blinkered vision, that their disciples seem unable to see two politicians who's stated beliefs are at virtually total variance with the party under who's flag they sail, yet retain the cover of that flag purely to enable their careers to continue.

Shifty and arrogant - and that's just the government

Ben Brogan's op-ed piece in today's Daily Telegraph is headlined: "Shifty and arrogant, but still the best government we've got". Wannabe pedant that I am, it must be pointed out to Brogan that it can hardly be the best government we've got as there is no alternative choice,  neither did we actually choose it. Anyways, Brogan writes:
"Mr Osborne is desperate to recover lost ground – it is said yesterday’s concessions on planning were beefed up at the last minute to head off another round of negative publicity – and so is Mr Cameron. Both are contemplating a slump in support, in particular among Tory MPs. In the tea rooms the figure that gets discussed is 46, being the number of letters to the chairman of the 1922 Committee needed to trigger a vote of confidence. The idea is laughable, a matter of idle gossip rather than political substance, in particular as the increasingly dominant 2010 intake does not nurture the disappointed ambitions of its elders and is more instinctively loyal."
When writing that the increasingly dominant 2010 intake does not nurture the disappointed ambitions of its elders and is more instinctively loyal, one has to wonder what planet Brogan has been holidaying on. Only at the end of last August Matthew Barrett was writing on Conservative Home about the 2010 intake and noting:
  • Tory newcomers have accounted for 31% of rebellious votes cast by all Conservative MPs
  • More 2010 intake Conservative MPs have rebelled (46), compared to Labour MPs (21) or the Lib Dems (7)
  • 31% of new Tory MPs have now rebelled
  • New Conservative rebels have cast 249 rebellious votes
If Brogan, when writing about the new intake not nurturing the disappointed ambitions of their elders, is discussing their elder's aversion to EU membership then perhaps he is unaware that only last October Ed Stourton was advising us:
"The latest intake of Tory MPs is far and away the most Eurosceptic in the Conservative Party's history."
Brogan surely cannot be alluding to their elder's disappointed ambitions where ministerial advancement is concerned; I mean, it was even his own paper that reported the frustration of Louise Mensch (a member of the 2010 intake); and being Deputy Editor it stands to reason that he must have seen the article.


What we have here is a typical Brogan 'Big-up Cameron and the Conservative Party' piece leading one to  muse on the number of pieces of silver this particular 'journalist-not' is in receipt of.


Readers will have noted, no doubt, that the heading of this article included the words: "and that's just the government". On that point, let us revert to the question of Conservative eurosceptics - a topic on which Autonomous Mind has been quote vociferous (and understandably so) , an  example of which is here. When considering Conservative eurosceptics, the two names that spring to mind immediately are those of Douglas Carswell and Daniel Hannan. On the subject of Douglas Carswell we find Luikkerland writing on the subject of the budget coupled with the imposition of VAT on food:
"Of significant incidental note is how, back in April 2011 when the Express brought this to wider notice, the Tory MP, under-cover Europhile (as all Tory politicians are), and apparent main player in his party’s reconstruction into the Progressive/Marxist abomination that it is today, Douglas Carswell, characteristically pretended opposition to a harmonised EU VAT rate, and was quoted in the Express piece chiding George Osborne and urging him to resist harder than he had done with regards to UK contributions to euro bailouts. However, since the Budget, Carswell has seemingly, albeit completely predictably, not expressed an opinion with regards to the stealthy implementation of the thing that he acquired front-page exposure and recognition as a eurosceptic in opposing. Indeed, in February 2012 in his corporate-advertisement covered blog, Carswell explicitly spoke against cuts in VAT. Readers should note that it is the way of the devious Tory eurosceptic to publically denounce overt loss of British sovereignty, but to not draw attention to it when it is being done on the sly."
Neither have I seen any article from Daniel Hannan accepting that Osborne had no option under EU requirements but to go for all or nothing. In this one can but refer to Luikkerland's last sentence above.

Finally, reverting to Brogan and the newspaper for which he writes, it is puzzling that a newspaper which claims to be a 'serious broadsheet' employs sub-standard journalists of the likes of Brogan and others - notable among whom is Daniel Knowles.

All one say is that it is suggested that they do indeed give up the day job.

The enemy within

Following the Budget, Autonomous Mind asked the question: "So where are the 81 Eurosceptic Tory MPs now?" in relation to George Osborne's announcement in the Budget about the imposition of VAT on hot-take-out food. In that post he linked to one by Richard North which pointed out that the Sixth Council Directive (77/388/EEC) allowed the UK to zero-rate most foodstuffs, but the proposal in the budget would see the UK voluntarily give up this derogation, and once it has been given away we assuredly would never get it back. Commenting that that would be an act of even deeper EU integration, AM continued:
"So, we ask, where is the supposedly heroic and infamous band of ‘81 Tory MPs‘ who profess themselves to be rebellious Eurosceptics? Were they shouting Osborne down as he committed his budget to the House of Commons? Or were these tribal drones cheering and waving their order papers with the rest of their playmates as Little Gideon took his seat on the sumptious [sic] green leather bench? Let’s remind ourselves of the facts about these 81 Tories." (My link: Waving of Order Papers: 13:30:00)
To repeat the question posed by AM: where are these supposed 'euroscpetic' MPs? Only last October Ed Stourton (BBC) was stating:
"The latest intake of Tory MPs is far and away the most Eurosceptic in the Conservative Party's history."
A point repeated by Tim Montgomerie, Conservative Home, who referred to "the supercharged Conservative backbencher."


Is there not though another subject about which the latest intake of what is considered to be the most far and away eurosceptic Conservative MPs in the Party's history should be more concerned, especially the 81 to which AM refers with their call for a referendum on EU membership? I refer to one matter to which they should be concerned were a referendum to be granted yet has not, it would appear, to have entered their thoughts. Let us consider those that would be eligible to vote in any referendum; the constraints of electoral law that would be imposed on both sides of any referendum; and, more importantly, those matters which remain 'unspoken'.

From about my vote we learn:
"......Commonwealth and European Union countries. If you are a citizen of one of these countries, and resident in the UK, you are eligible to register to vote in UK elections. To qualify, Commonwealth citizens must be resident in the UK and either have leave to remain in the UK or not require such leave. The definition of a 'Commonwealth citizen' includes citizens of British Crown Dependencies and British Overseas Territories. Citizens of the European Union (who are not Commonwealth citizens or Citizens of the Republic of Ireland) can vote in European and local elections in the UK, but are not able to vote in UK Parliamentary general elections or referendums."
It may not be realised but citizens of Malta and Cyprus are eligible to be registered to vote in respect of all elections held in the UK, even though they are citizens of the European Union, as they are also members of the Commonwealth. Those voters, whilst possibly insignificantly small in the overall numbers were the result to be close, could well be decisive.


From the Electoral Commission we learn that, as with any election, there are indeed financial constraints imposed on both sides of any referendum, however there are other aspects, ones which no-one, least of all MPs or the media, appear to have taken into consideration - I refer to:
  • what may be termed eurosceptic pressure groups of which there are many.
  • "Third Sector" bodies (e.g. Climate Change campaigners, WWF, Christian Aid etc) which will no doubt campaign on the basis that EU membership guarantees environmental protection and saves polar bears etc)
  • Other EU-sponsored bodies, coupled with the possibility of EU-wide "parties" trying to influence results
  • Corruption of the electoral process through postal voting in culturally enriched areas.
  • Disproportionate funding
Consider the first item: eurosceptic pressure groups, of which there are quite a few. We currently witness one such pressure group who intend holding 'mock' referendums on an in/out question in selected constituencies, the first of which is in Thurrock -  planning to roll this out country wide - a campaign for which, at the time of writing, 103,717 have 'signed up for'. Yet there is no 'plan' for what would follow, were their overall campaign to be successful and which subsequently forced the government to grant a nationwide referendum. There are other pressure groups, who need not be named as they are 'well-known', who produce masses of literature and statements on their websites, yet seem 'actionless' - they 'talk' a lot, yet appear to do nothing. If these various pressure groups meant what they say, would not logic dictate that they combine their message and their efforts? The 1975 referendum showed that the 'No' campaign was for ever playing 'catch-up' to their opponents; in other words the 'Yes' campaign dictated the 'rules' under which that campaign was conducted. At the next referendum on EU membership those roles have to - and must - be reversed, yet the performance so far of the various euroscepticMPs are but faux eurosceptics so the cynic in me considers that the existing pressure groups are no more than what may be termed a 'controlled opposition' to EU membership - or likewise, 'faux-eurosceptics'. If they are not, then where are the provisional plans for opposition come any referendum? It is well known that public opinion can force a change of policy within government, so where is the campaign that will stir public opinion to force such a change?


What constraints are there imposed on "Third Sector" or other EU bodies regarding input into any referendum? What can be done to negate any possibility of corruption which has been shown to be endemic with the postal voting system, especially among ethnic voters?


When considering permitted expenditure for political parties during a referendum there is no level playing field within Electoral Commission rules. Note the fact that the level of expenditure for political parties is based on the proportion of the electorate who voted for the party at the previous UK Parliamentary general election. Immediately it can be seen that the one party who will be campaigning for a 'No' vote - and who took second place in the last EU elections - will be severely handicapped where the level of expenditure is concerned. Why should one party be allowed a larger expenditure than any other? Surely, if fairness is a prerequisite of any contest, all registered political parties should receive the same cap on the level of expenditure?


Are not those pressure groups that will be campaigning against EU membership but part of a 'controlled opposition' and thereby qualify to be classified as Judas Goats? Are not those of us opposed to EU membership right to question the veracity of our electoral system? Are not those of us opposed to EU membership right to question the integrity of our political elite?


The fact that the 'No' side are already on the back foot before the battle has even commenced, does not auger well. But then, as in any dictatorship, those at the head of that dictatorship will always ensure that any question put to the people elicits the required response.



Newsworthiness

The fact that the Welsh windbag turns 70 today is about as newsworthy as the fact that in 11 days time so do I.


Just saying..................

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

There are BOGOFs and there are BOGOFs.........

It has been a long time since the letters page of the Daily Telegraph provided such a wealth of material - and today is one of those days.
Once again, from that same source:
"SIR – We now know the cost of access to the Prime Minister. But there has been no mention of the Deputy Prime Minister.
Was this a buy-one-get-one-free offer?
Keith Flett
London N17
"
Not a bad joke. Mind you, when one has had so much practice.............

A Punch Line

From "The Local" (Switzerland's news in English) comes news that a Muslim family has been fined CHF 1,400 for refusing to let their daughters partake in mixed swimming classes.


From the letters page of today's Daily Telegraph:
"SIR – Alcohol, cheap or otherwise, is only a small contributing factor to drunken and disorderly behaviour (Letters, March 26). The greater factor is the mind.
In Switzerland, young and old people drink just as much as those in Britain, but seem to manage to get home without vomiting, swearing, urinating or violating others’ property. Why? Because they have always been taught that this is not the proper way to behave and the Swiss police do not tolerate such behaviour.
Perhaps the Government should consider a more moral education system.
Blaise Craven
Zurich, Switzerland
"
When considering an ultimatum that should be given to immigrants whereby they are informed that if they wish to live in our country then they respect the rules of our society, coupled with the question of acceptable behaviour among society; then a certain 'Punch' line springs to mind in regard to the two items above:
"that's the way to do it"


Just saying..................... 

Funding and lobbying

Writing in the Independent Steve Richards ends his article on party funding thus:
"But take parties out of the picture and what is left? To avoid finding out the answer, the parties need to reach agreement on new forms of funding, quickly. The alternative is more leaders being caught out or no parties at all. Don't hold your breath agreement will be reached."
A letter, on the same subject, in today's Daily Telegraph:
"SIR – It is difficult to imagine a system in which political parties do not rely on donations. However, such funding could be democratised by capping the donation by any one individual or organisation. Perhaps a limit of £100 to bring it in line with what the average person could afford.
Political parties would, once again, have to engage with the electorate at a grassroots level and work for their money. They would need to reverse the trend of dwindling party membership and make their parties more relevant to the majority.
Political parties would, once again, have to engage with the electorate at a grassroots level and work for their money. They would need to reverse the trend of dwindling party membership and make their parties more relevant to the majority.Dr Robert ListerFarndon, Cheshire"
From the article and letter, questions arise. Parties may well need funding, but for what purpose? If a cap is to be placed on political donations, who should set that cap and at what level? How can political parties be made more relevant to the majority, whilst 'engaging with the electorate' at grass roots level? In what way can parties be made to work for their money - and not necessarily just in the field of donations?


Obviously political parties require funding to operate, ie, to cover employment costs, production of literature, manifestos, election expenses, etc; and the necessary funds can be obtained through membership fees and donations. It should however be remembered that representatives of political parties are elected based on political sympathies and ideology. If interest groups increasingly provide funding to parties, there is a risk that the parties will no longer shape their agenda according to their ideology alone, but increasingly according to the wishes of the interest groups. It must then follow that the parties and their members would consequently lose credibility as the representatives of the people. Yet another factor that it is necessary to bear in mind is that parties with a large campaign budget could become omnipresent and bombard voters with propaganda – whether on the street or through the media thus making it difficult for people to form a balanced opinion. Sound familiar? It should do because that is how the present political system in this country works where the Lib/Lab/Con are concerned and it is a system that allows them to effectively 'shut out' smaller parties from the political arena.


That lobbying of politicians is a fact of life - and a necessary ability for constituents of an MP - it becomes problematical when said lobbying is carried out by companies and/or individuals making regular, usually large, donations with a view to influencing party policy and ideology; after all, is that not what lobbying and lobbyists are aiming to do? There can, therefore, be an argument for a cap on political donations, with a currently suggested cap of £10,000 per individual per year. However, if political parties exist with the will of the electorate then logically, should it not be the electorate that decides the limit of donations? Would that not be the democratic way bearing in mind politicians are, so we are informed by them, all for democracy? With a view to transparency - another matter which politicians assure us they are in favour of - should not politicians be duty bound to make available details of all meetings with lobbyists including the reason for such meetings; and where any financial element is involved, be that even being bought drinks or a meal, all details being included in a register?


When considering the other questions, namely making political parties more relevant to the majority, while at the same time engaging with grass roots level and working harder for their money it would be necessary for a disengagement with our present system of representative democracy and a move towards direct democracy and the ideology of referism. Only when politicians are aware that they are the servants of the people; that their every decision can be challenged by the people; that the people can force politicians to implement laws, laws which they may not wish to implement; that their personal positions as MPs can be terminated at the wish of their electorate between elections - only then, it is suggested, will our politicians become more relevant to the majority; only then will an attempt be made by them to engage with 'grass roots levels; and only then will they be forced to work harder for their money.


Regular readers will know that when discussing any adoption of direct democracy I often proffer Switzerland as an example. Extraordinarily, of all countries, political donations do not need to be declared in Switzerland. According to critics, however, this lack of transparency is a problem, because dubious people and institutions could be making donations to political parties. Critics are also asking how independent political parties actually are as the more intensive the election campaign, the more it will cost and these costs need to be covered. If parties become increasingly dependent on interest groups, this could be problematic and critics claim that this dependence could lead to bribery or corruption. Most Swiss cantons do not require the disclosure of political donations, however since 1998 and 1999 respectively, the cantons of Ticino and Geneva have had legislation governing the disclosure of political donations. The canton of Ticino requires parties to report donations of over CHF 10,000 to the cantonal chancellery. The amount of the donation and details of the donor must be given. In the canton of Geneva, political parties are required to submit their accounts and the names of their sponsors every year to the cantonal financial inspectors. 


The Swiss Federal Council has, in the past, dealt with several calls for increased transparency in the funding of political parties, including the motion by social democrat Max Chopard proposing "Increased transparency in the funding of political parties". It has rejected* the demand for statutory regulation and advocated voluntary measures, on the grounds that there are many open issues regarding implementation, enforcement, enforceability and sanctioning options. In addition, pressure from the state could make people less willing to become involved in political matters, and it is precisely from this willingness that direct democracy draws life.


Just a few thoughts for discussion..............


* The opinion is only available in German, French or Italian - however if using Google, the translation is quite good.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Rats

Commenting on the story that the BBC's Television Centre is infested with rats, Richard North, EU Referendum, advises that the infestation is being blamed on 'neglect at the building'. The rats about which Richard North writes are of course the quadruped variety - but cannot the same accusation of 'neglect at the building' be levied where the proliferation of the biped variety are concerned in respect of our democracy and politics?


Nigel Farage (with apologies to RN for the use of bad language!) has maintained for a few years now that you cannot get a cigarette paper between the Lib/Lab/Con where policy is concerned - yet this is nothing new where that accusation is concerned. In his preceding post to the one linked to above, Richard North quotes from an article published in 1942, of events in 1939, its author being former Times foreign correspondent Douglas Reed:
"The electorate had seen that the Parliaments it returned always, invariably, did exactly the opposite of that which had been promised and that which it had been returned to do, and felt, furthermore, that there was no means of remedying this, because no clearcut difference was apparent between the two parties which faced each other in the House; appalling though the Tory Party's record was, the Labour Party offered no clear alternative."
Noticeably, the difference twixt then and now, is?


For 73 years then we, the people, have been complicit in the proliferation of these biped rats, rats which have been allowed to breed at a phenomenal rate, These rats have spread the diseases of misinformation, state dependency, social engineering, freedom diminution, destruction of sovereignty; to name but a few. It can be argued elsewhere whether this has come about as a result of our disinterest and/or ignorance, but one thing is now patently apparent - they must be culled to the point where not one remains.


When discussing our biped variety of rats one initially thinks of our politicians but we must also include their 'little helpers'. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures for the last quarter of 2011 showed that public sector employees amounted to 5,942 million and this report from 2010, citing a study by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (Investigative Journalism is, I suspect, an oxymoron - but I digress), illustrates many examples of the chief biped variety of rat - which is where a start can made.


It is unfortunate that we do not possess the modern-day equivalent of the Pied Piper, consequently a cull carried out by the masses will be necessary - of course, when you are ready and feel so inclined, masses. 


Perhaps a study by the masses of "Direct Democracy with Referism Macht Frei" might just stir some immediate action?

When will they ever learn?

At the time of writing the Daily Telegraph website has not updated their letters page, however in the letters page of the print edition today appears the following:
"Sir,After Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, I thought it would be impossible for anyone to persuade me to vote for the Labour party again. Congratulations to George Osborne on achieving the impossible.Leonard MacauleyStaining, Lancashire"
When one considers the type of democracy that exists in this country it stretches logic that a member of the electorate considers the only choice is between a set of spivs who wear the colour blue and an alternative set of spivs who wear the colour red - which is not to forget a set of 'trainee' spivs who wear the colour yellow. Do not misunderstand me, I am not advocating we all vote for another set of 'trainee' spivs who have adopted the colours purple and yellow and who wish to retain the status quo of central control, albeit with a small democratic twist.


One only has to read Jeff Randall's op-ed piece in today's Daily Telegraph to realise that there is no difference twixt the blue spivs and the red spivs. That he who is presumably a 'thinking' member of the electorate is prepared to switch his allegiance back to a party who were part of the root cause of our country's present difficulties can only underline the nadir to which our democratic system has sunk. That that same member of the electorate also seems unable to think 'outside the box' and appears to accept that representative democracy is the only form of democracy available also underlines how democratically unaware the electorate have become.


On Saturday last I attended a small seminar, the subject of which was how to ensure that any referendum for cessation of our country's membership of the European Union was successful. This was attended by an MP (Mark Reckless), two MEPs (Daniel Hannan and David Campbell Bannerman) and representatives of various pressure groups. Two matters never entered the speeches given or the questions raised - namely that there are too many pressure groups in existence and that perhaps those groups need to combine in order to present one voice to the people; and neither was any mention made of what, exactly should occur once any referendum was won. After all, is it not essential that if asking the people to vote for something all aspects of the alternative being offered should be spelt out? It is all very well campaigning for the laudable aim that those who govern us should be able to be 'hired and fired' by the electorate - but what is the point of exchanging one set of 'central controlists' for another; in other words what is the difference between a collection of dictators who cannot be hired and fired and the alternative who can? We still end up with dictators.


The fact all present appeared to accept that continuation of representative democracy was the only form of democracy available and was therefore a 'given' was depressing in the extreme, likewise the failure of those calling for a referendum who appeared to have committed the political sin of not thinking through that which they propose.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Strange followers

Suddenly Twitter advises me that a number of new followers have appeared, all within one minute - names such as gugofadi; degocamyjy; biliyzifyv; cyxycema; nytidanufem; wyfuwugac.


Normally when you block and report a spam tweet that tweet disappears from your timeline - not these boys.........


Something I said, what it?

Despotism

From Wikipedia:
"Despotism is a form of government in which a single entity rules with absolute power. That entity may be an individual, as in an autocracy, or it may be a group, as in an oligarchy. The word despotism means to "rule in the fashion of a despot" and does not necessarily require a singular "despot", an individual......Colloquially, despot has been applied pejoratively to a person, particularity a head of state or government, who abuses his power and authority to oppress his people, subjects or subordinates."


In the United Kingdom it is also known as representative democracy.


H/T: Fausty's Libertarian Blog for the idea.

I hope my bank's cash machine has a 'foxtrot oscar' option*

Apparently the latest Cameron wheeze to extract money from the public is the idea that cash machines belonging to some banks will ask if you wish to denote to charity and a consideration is being given to the idea that supermarkets ask whether their customers might like to 'round up' their bill to the nearest pound; all proceeds being given to charity.


That our faux prime minister is forced to go cap in hand to his masters in Brussels to ensure that his wheeze does not infringe EU rules on state aid speaks volumes as to where the power lies in this country. The idiot that poses as our prime minister seems not to understand that many thousands of people already do voluntary work in this country - where for example does he think all the cars come from that carry out patient transportation to and from hospitals? Where does he think the minibuses come from that transport disabled and infirm pensioners to supermarkets and other shops? Where does he think all the work done to produce village fetes comes from?


Why should people donate when they have no idea of the recipient of their donation? Why should people donate to charities that are fake charities; the latter as in charities that are no more than a lobbying arm of government for government policies and EU policies? Why should people in effect be blackmailed when withdrawing their hard earned money and if they refuse be made to feel a pariah? Why should people be forced into what is communitarianism against their will?


David Cameron enacted, on 11th May 2010, what amounted to a 'coup' albeit without the use of force in order to enter 10 Downing Street - and if he refers to his history books he will quickly discover what happens to those who enact coups; especially when the people have had enough of being dictated to by an unprincipled, dishonourable, venal, egomaniac.


Just saying..............................


* No need to spell out 'foxtrot oscar' - a button which when pressed provides the following diagram would suffice:

A cull of pigs? Most definitely!

"A man is usually more careful of his money than of his principles."Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. 


Besides the latest furore over cash for access to Cameron, we have the news John Bercow is alleged to have made a £600,00 profit on the sale of an apartment on which he claimed taxpayer support coupled with the news that MP's expense receipts are to remain unpublished.


MilibandE promptly jumps on the bandwagon demanding an independent inquiry - one which could run in tandem with one into union financing of the Labour Party and also considers what influence has been sought, what influence has been gained, and what impact it has had. While those two inquiries are funning, how about a third into MilibandE's election as Labour Leader, one he obtained with union votes, with the same remit.


Already 'holes' are appearing in statements being issued - witness Downing Street sources who initially said it was "immediately clear" Mr Cruddas had to resign when the story first broke last night - a statement contradicted by the Sunday Times, who told PoliticsHome that they first contacted Downing Street at 3pm yesterday, when the initial response was non-committal.


When the Expenses Scandal broke all party leaders agreed that politics and Parliament required cleaning up - yet it seems that politicians are still continuing to 'clean up' in politics and Parliament. As with everything else, in an extremely short period of time this will be forgotten because another 'story du jour' will divert the public's attention - one no doubt engineered by those who have the most to hide.


That our justice system is completely skewed can be witnessed by the fact that we imprison petty thieves - and appoint the great ones to public office.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Saturday 24th March 2012

Apologies for the lack of posts today due to my attending a 'private' seminar (only just arrived home) at which the speakers included Daniel Hannan, Mark Reckless, Matthew Elliot, Dr. Anthony Coughlan, Tim Congdon and Neil Herron.


Will resume posting tomorrow.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Misplaced effort

It is understood that at the instigation of one Tobias Ellwood who is the Conservative MP for Bournemouth East, supported by Malcolm Rifkind and Jack Straw among others, it is their wish to rename the Clock Tower - aka Big Ben - Elizabeth Tower as a tribute to Her Majesty, the Queen.


A noble gesture, however are there not more important matters to occupy the parliamentary time of our MPs? While it is acknowledged that much of MPs powers to influence that which happens in our country has been ceded to Brussels, might not their time be better spent causing a fuss about, for example, Chris Tappin, Hollie Grieg, Robert Green, Graham Mitchell; all of whom are victims of a justice system that leaves much to be desired?


Might not their time be better spent causing a fuss about their inability to restrain the Executive and its dictatorial aims? Might not their time be better spent holding the government to account for all its broken promises, for example, the recall of MPs and the Localism Act? Might not their time be better spent causing a fuss about the fact that, in an attempt to divert attention from what was a joke budget, a Secretary of State was making a statement on a Friday morning - a virtually unheard of event? Might not their time be better spent causing a fuss about the fact that since November last year our annual EU contribution appears to have grown by £1.8billion - and this at a time when our overall national debt has increased to over £1trillion? Might not their time be better spent questioning the Minister concerned about what is now held to be systemic fraud at A4e?


In fact - with a very few exceptions - might not their time be better spent finding an alternative career - they're no bloody good at their present one!

Thursday, 22 March 2012

The fatuousness of the British political scene

That our politics, political comment and political reporting is but one big vacuum within the British political scene cannot be denied as what political comment that exists is, for the most part, servile in content; and in-depth political reporting is most noticeable by its total absence.


On television we are presented with, for example, programmes such as Marr on Sunday, Question Time and Newsnight. Marr on Sunday is no more than a political 'love-in' for politicians, with what may be termed patsy questions served up for them to bat away. Question Time is a farce, not only because it is strongly suspected that the audience is not balanced but deliberately rigged in respect of its political make-up; coupled with the farcical idea that questions can be answered in depth in such a short space of time by the five panelists. As for Newsnight, the less said the better.


Our newspapers are no better, being it seems filled not with journalists but cut 'n paste experts who do no more than repeat the press release they have been handed by politicians. There is little, if any, investigative journalism and what little that does appear tends to be superficial in content. This failing is probably due to the fact that journalists are only too aware that a critical article about any politician would result in the journalist's access to that politician being promptly terminated.


The gullibility of the British public, together with that of supposed political commentators, can be gauged by those using Twitter. As an example, a recently published opinion poll this evening has the Tories 8 points behind Labour which promptly gets mentioned by Tim Montgomerie of Conservative Home as if this was ground breaking news. For heavens sake, the Tories have just screwed up big time with their latest budget, so what does everyone expect?


Politicians are no better than models, preening themselves in front of the television cameras at occasions such as Prime Ministers Questions or the Budget, when they know they will have an audience of reasonable numbers. Tune into parliament tv at any other time and one is lucky to see two or three dozen MPs on the green benches. The calibre of politician today leaves much to be desired - where, for instance is the politician who, when it is known that he/she is to speak, would guarantee virtually every seat on the green benches being occupied because of their skill of oratory?


Our national representatives are no more than placemen/women, selected by their party's central office, who once elected seem to have only one aim - climbing the ministerial ladder. Our local politicians are no better, also being placemen/women, only this time selected for the fact they are related to the present leader either by family or marriage. Where is local democracy when one person can simultaneously occupy positions on a town council, a district council and county council and not be placed in a position whereby there arises a conflict of interest?


The entire political structure of politics in this country has an unsavoury aroma attached and those working within that political structure are likewise tainted. One of the most posed questions is what is the purpose of life. I would suggest that until we solve the question  of what is the purpose of politicians, the purpose of life remains of secondary consideration.

Just what is the point of politicians?

Prompted by a couple of comments left on my blog apropos the Budget, some further observations of the problems we have in this country where our politicians are concerned.

First, I once again have to link to Richard North, EU Referendum, in which he confirms that we do, most certainly, live under a system of democratised/elective dictatorship. Where Osborne is concerned we are dictated to by a man no-one, other than a minority of those living in his constituency, elected while those constituents and us have no means of constraining him.

We are continually informed by politicians that they spend inordinate amounts of effort and time in divising policies to create jobs - yet it is a known fact that government cannot create jobs, it is private enterprise that creates jobs. Because government has no money of its own, only that which is extracted from the people by force, it cannot have any sense of economy nor sense of responsibility; and as a result it wastes huge amounts in everything it attempts to do.

To quote one commenter:
"Has education improved for all the billions spent on 'improving' it? Not that I can see. Has filling the NHS with managers instead of nurses in order to monitor compliance with government directives been worth the billions spent on it? Not that I can see. Was the £9 billion, if I recall correctly, spent on Nimrod AWAC that never flew worth it, or even the millions spent on the Blue Streak missile in the 1950s? Not that I , can see."
To which can be added matters like membership of the European Union, law and order, job creation schemes, British Leyland, RBS, Northern Rock - to name but a few. Think back, remember all that has happened as the result of political decisions and you will soon realise that, actually, they simply know not that which they do, they flail around with a view to be seen to be doing something - they get away with it because they never pay the ultimate price for their failures.

In an article in the print edition of the Daily Telegraph by Christopher Hope (doesn't seem to be online) about local authorities that are raising council tax despite pleas not to from central government, he reports that sources close to Eric Pickles describe the 37 councils so doing as 'democracy dodgers' because none of the increases have been put to a vote. One has to question therefore the difference twixt these local authorities taxing and George Osborne taxing - where has one decision that Osborne has taken in the Budget been voted on by us?

If we are talking about 'democracy dodgers', does anyone recall Bridget theMidget John the Speaker getting on his high horse and insisting that announcements should be made in the House of Commons and not to the media? As has been noted by many, so many details of this budget had been leaked beforehand, one has to question whether there was any need for Osborne to actually make a speech. On the subject of leaks, as mentioned by Michael Deacon in his sketch piece for today's Daily Telegraph, Blair must be really p'd off with all this leaking - in his day chancellors did not even leak budget details to their prime minister.

Why we continue to accept lies from politicians I know not - the latest example being this article in today's Daily Telegraph. Why should we listen to yet another politician who has, by his own admission, been found guilty of malfeasance and failing to tell the truth. Why should we believe him when he writes that with the decisions Osborne has taken there can be no doubt that we are now committed to less regulation, a smaller state and greater simplicity - when it is so obvious the exact opposite is the case. Governments for the past decades have had only one desire and that is to control us - to borrow a phrase from another commenter of mine - from womb to tomb.

Are not our politicians 'democracy dodgers' by participating in an elective dictatorship, thus denying those they are meant to serve, a voice? Perhaps the time has come for us to repeat for them the image of Julia Gillard, with terror written all over her face, being hustled to safety?

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

The Budget: An 'act' for blaming the British people and interfering in all their affairs in order to distract attention from the real causes and the true remedy of this nation’s financial predicament.

"People constantly speak of  'the government' doing this or that, as they might speak of God doing it. But the government is really nothing but a group of men, and usually they are very inferior men." H.L. Mencken
So passes yet another Budget day beginning with the Chancellor posing at the door of No11 with his Red Box, then proceeding to the House of Commons where he reads out a speech containing what amounts to a pack of lies, where upon the Opposition then get their attempt to also spout lies in rebuttal. During this entire process the remainder of the House of Commons behaves like a pack of kindergarten schoolchildren, requiring the obligatory admonishment from their headmaster. This is politics? For heavens sake, we could stick a load of monkeys in a cage and get the same result for far less cost.............. Oh, wait....................


I do not propose to comment on the Budget detail; there are far better qualified than I who can do that, however the Mail seems to have picked up a few salient points which are worth reading. Likewise Open Europe blogs on a little noticed fact in the Budget of a massive discrepancy for the UK’s net contribution to the EU, compared to the figures produced in the pre-budget report back in November. While I have to admit having missed the first 20 minutes of Osborne's speech however I do not recall any mention of that nugget, nor can I spot any mention on Hansard.


Why do we allow ourselves to be put through this charade? Why do we allow politicians the power to extract money from our pocket time and time again, then complain about the fact on each and every occasion? I am now going to take extracts of a speech given by Enoch Powell on 11th May 1968, at Chippenham, when he spoke against yet another Prices and Incomes Bill. Powell believed that Bill had been mislabelled and his suggested replacement title is just as applicable to Budget speeches by Chancellors of the Exchequer; namely that of the heading to this post.
"We live in an age of conspiracies. They are far more successful and well-managed conspiracies than the conspiracies of history. Perhaps the improvement in efficiency is one of the benefits which we owe to the technological revolution. At any rate, the age of the old-fashioned conspirator is no more. He no longer gathers with his fellows in tiny groups, admitted by password to huddle round a dark lantern in a dingy garret. Today the conspirators sit in the seats of the mighty, at the desks of Ministers and editors; they live in the blaze of continual publicity; their weapons are the organs of opinion themselves. The politics of the last few years have been little more than a series of conspiracies conducted by the politicians and the Press against the common sense of the public. They have for the most part been brilliantly, audaciously successful. Opposition, criticism, questioning have been beaten into the ground, not by force but by something much more efficacious: by tacit agreement on the part of those who speak and write to speak and write the same kind of nonsense, year in year out, until ordinary men and women no longer dare trust their own wits but give up the struggle and deliver themselves passively to the guidance and domination of their betters. The Higher Nonsense is a mightier instrument of mass  repression than machine-guns, grapeshot and cavalry charges ever were. The success has been so complete that we fail not only to be astonished at it, but even to perceive it........ 
..........Inflation with all its attendant evils, comes about for one reason and one reason only: the Government causes it. To say anything as plain as that is to arouse a chorus of imprecation. All the clever people start talking at once in a loud voice about ‘cost push’, ‘demand pull’, and ‘monopoly power’. But look who is doing the talking. If it is true that governments cause inflation and that the citizens are the innocent victims, who has the vested interest in denying it? Answer: governments themselves, and all those who thrive on an increase in the power and expenditure of governments. Governments, and their attendant host of commentators and propagandists, have executed what is perhaps the greatest confidence trick of all time, a confidence trick on a gigantic scale: they have caused inflation year after year, and at the same time persuaded everyone that somebody else was to blame. It is equivalent to stealing a man’s wallet and then getting him locked up for theft. The achievement is all the more remarkable because the facts are so blatant."
Enoch Powell provides an impressive, coherent and cogent argument for the introduction of Direct Democracy coupled with the element of 'Referism' (not, I hasten to add, he would have agreed). Have we not suffered enough from the actions of incompetent individuals who believe they know everything, but in fact know nothing? Has our country not been brought to its knees on more than one occasion by these incompetent individuals only for them to be saved by the efforts of the people they have misled? Has the time not come when we, the people, must inform these incompetent individuals:


Enough is enough. We will no longer waste time denouncing you, you are dismissed forthwith as yet another sad, bizarre chapter in our history and we vow never, ever, to allow your like to be reborn.


Update: Richard North, EU Referendum who appears to think the same as I do.

Quote of the (Budget) day

From the Adam Smith Institute:


"If Christmas Day had an opposite, it would be Budget Day. On Christmas Day, a man in a red suit gives you presents. On Budget Day, a man with a red box tries to steal what he can from you."
John Stepak, MoneyWeek

Germany's failing environmental projects (2)

Following my post yesterday on the above it has come to my notice that 4 days earlier Autonomous Mind wrote about the Der Spiegel article - a post that for some reason escaped my attention.


For those readers interested in the subject AM's post is a must read for its detail and context.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Germany's failing environmental projects

http://www.spiegel.de/international/business/0,1518,druck-821396,00.html 


Courtesy of Bishop Hill.


NB: Apologies, for some reason the link on BH goes straight to print - use the zoom feature to read.



Awards for all

From Kevin Maguire on Twitter:
"Press Awards very well behaved. So far. Guardian and Sun tables more than a bun throw apart"
Press awards? Awards for what? Reproducing politicians verbiage virtually word for word? Oh, I forgot - just remembered you can train monkeys to do almost anything.


I have no idea if he is present - and if he is, he stands a cats chance in hell of getting an award - but in my book the only journalist worthy of an award for his continual great writing is Christopher Booker.