Tag Archives: David Cameron

Tax? That’s only for poor people!

Blairmore Holdings Inc, the offshore fund which the Prime Minister’s father, Ian Cameron helped to set up  has never paid any UK tax on its profits…..and that’s over a period of 30 years. Many of the fund’s clients are Brits.

(“Blairmore” is the name of the Cameron ancestral home in Aberdeenshire. It is now a Christian Healing Centre which Cameron Jnr may well need very soon……)

Camron and Karney the Head Banker – A Fable

(A government FAILS to persuade bankers to lend to the common people.)


A Mordor Scene by steinliland

The Gates to Economic Recovery and New Prosperity were being guarded by the Bankers.


A tired and bedraggled band of travellers stood before them. They were led by Camron, the legendary economic illusionist and Prime Minister of the Ukshire.


The Chancellor Gideon, the Cabinet and other Uks were busying themselves with trying to appear invisible – an ancient trick modeled after the mythical Bank Elders.


Camron raised his pink chin so as to appear less terrified than he really was. He tried one of his famed rictus-like smiles. “Please let us in! We have cleared The Mess!” .

After he had spoken, he looked round to his band of followers for their approval – for that was their job. They made the customary grunting and “Hear! hear! The Mess! The Mess!” noises of approval.


The Bankers were confused and even a little frightened but nevertheless, were obliged to follow their elders’ orders.


“You have to pay to come in,” oozed the Banker as he counted heads an
d flicked at his abacus. His fingers were a blur as he remembered: “…then there’s the insurance…..and other charges”. The abacus was smoking.


“But we have already collected and given you all the gold that we could find. And you did promise than when our coffers were empty, we could come in. It is getting so cold out here. We are tired and hungry and we can see that behind the gates there is sunshine and the New Prosperity. If you will not let us in, would you please lend us a little of our own gold back, so that we can eat . Many are dying – even the hard-working people”


” That is not our problem. WE hear that there are Food Banks for the poor! You enjoyed the Old Prosperity when we gave you more than we had and now, we have no more to lend. Anyway, you look as if you would not be able to repay it.”


” But who are all those smiling happy people who I can see through the gates?”


” They are the Bankers. It is the time of the Feast of Bonus and they are celebrating and making merry. Are you a Banker?”


” No I am not but there are occasions when I am speaking to an audience – I imagine that I can hear a whisper in the audience.”


” And what is this ‘whisper’
?”sneered the Banker.


” It seems that there are some who think that I am a Banker – because that is the sacred word that imagine I hear. On some occasions, I can hear it several times. There must be many who think that I am a banker. Can I at least come in? Just to see?”


” Why should anyone think that you are a Banker? Do you receive a bonus? Do you have large expense account? How big are your share options?”


” I have none of the Sacred Trappings – I am merely the Prime Minister of the Uks but there are those who see me nearly as important as a Banker. In fact, sometimes I hear whispers which make me think that the people wish me to be in charge not only of the Cabinet, the country but of even …………………the Bankers.”


Camron immediately looked down at his feet because he sensed that he may have gone too far. His entourage cowered.


The Chancellor Gideon tried to make himself even more invisible and only just stopped himself from laughing by biting so hard into the back of his own forefinger that blood flowed from the wound. As you would expect, it was a clear liquid.


Shocked, the two Gatekeeper Bankers took a step back. They had never heard such a preposterously outrageous claim. In charge of the Bankers???? Who? You?!!”


They knew in that instant that they were dealing with a “Dangerous” but decided to continue the dialogue and try to learn more.They didn’t usually have contact with people.
They had heard the legend that one day, a simple creature would come to the Gates and become “In Charge”. No-one quite knew what this strange phrase meant but they wanted to be sure.


Was this “The One?”. They doubted it because the legend of the god Euro suggested that the one who would one day be in charge, was to be a red-headed female called Merkil from the Land of the Goths.


But the pink-faced stranger had just used the sacred “In Charge” words!


It was a joke among Bankers because they knew that no-one but a Banker could be “in charge”…… They were the chosen ones. They used to serve the people but now the people served them.


” Are you ill? What are the people saying?” The Banker took out his Magic Blackberry and punched at some buttons. His eyes did not leave Camron’s pink face, who continued:


” Sometimes when I am speaking in riddles to the people of The Deficit and suchlike – I seem to hear not just “Banker” but also “King” Banker. That is the phrase! They call me a “Right King Banker”. That is the phrase I hear.”


” But can you talk in riddles? Can you make money disappear? Are you so self-serving, selfish and thick-skinned that you can ignore the criticisms of all those around you? How good are you at offering help to those who do not need it? Were you unpopular at school? Have you ever given money and then changed your mind and taken it back? Well…… have you. Do you have the Gift of Sneer ?”


It was like a bolt of lightning. Camron knew! He was The One !!


He tried his smile once again. Some recoiled in disgust but there were those within earshot who were also beginning to believe that perhaps Camron was “The One”.
Camron certainly believed it. He would ask for an Inquiry – just to be sure. He liked an Inquiry – that most holy of Ministerial Sacraments. Meanwhile, he decided to take the bull by the horns – he would assert himself.


” Bring the Head Banker to see me here at the Gates. Tell him that David of Camenor (for that was his real name) wishes to see him!”


There were gasps. Humans, Uks and Bankers looked at each other. For what seemed like an eternity, there was a cold, dark silence – just like the one which would follow a joke made by the Prophet Milibrand the Younger!


Just as suddenly, the beyond-dead atmosphere was broken by a commotion inside the Gates. Word had been sent to the Head Banker. There was no going back!


Eventually, a short man in a black silk pinstriped suit appeared at the gates. His gold tooth and diamond in his chunky gold pinkie ring flashed as he removed his Fedora. The black overcoat remained draped over his shoulders as he approached Camron.


Camron noticed that the Head Banker’s white silk tie matched the handkerchief tumbling out of his breast-pocket. He briefly imagined his own finger in the Head Bankers chunky ring!
They stood toe-to-toe. It was the Banker who spoke.


“Yes?”


Camron felt more resolute than he had ever done in his life. This was his destiny! He would be the saviour of the people. This was his time. He cleared his throat.


” On behalf of the people, I command you to lend them the money so that they may enter the Gates of Prosperity.”


It was the briefest and most “to the point” statement that Camron had ever made – and he’d managed it without an Inquiry! He felt quite exhilarated and just in case someone was sketching this historic moment, he struck a heroic pose and focused his bloodshot piggy eyes on the horizon.


Karney the Head Banker moved even closer. They exchanged knowing smiles, although the Head Banker’s eyes retained all the charm of two bullet holes .


Almost imperceptibly, as Camron leaned to wards him, the Banker’s expression changed.


Swiftly, he brought his knee up.

Ed and Jim Messina talk

We have been lucky enough to obtain a transcript of a telephone conversation between the leader of Britain’s Labour Party, Ed Miliband and Jim Messina who has been hired by the Conservatives to mastermind their attempt to win the next General Election in May 2015 with (for a change) an overall majority – something that they haven’t achieved for over 20 years! There’s a rumour that although David Cameron has secured Mr Messina’s  talents on behalf of Tory High Command, Messina was also approached by the Labour Party…..possibly even the Leader himself!

Mr Messina masterminded Barack Obama’s second election victory and is therefore regarded as a miracle worker – which is something that the Labour Party is in severe need of. At the time of publication, Ed Miliband is leader of the Labour Party.

Ring Ring

Woman’s voice:  Hello, this is James Messina’s Office.  Marilyn speaking. How may I help you?

Ed Miliband: Hello. This is Ed Miliband speaking. I am calling from England.

Marilyn: Where?

Ed: England. I’d like to speak to Jim please.

Marilyn: England? Is that near London? What was your name again?

Ed: Ed MIliband.

Marilyn: Ted Bilibann?

Ed: No it’s Ed. Ed Miliband. Miliband.

Marilyn: Is Mr Messina expecting your call, Ted?

Ed: No – but I’m the leader of the Labour Party.

Marilyn: The WHAT?

Ed: The Labour Party. Over here, we’re like the Democrats and I’m like Barack Obama..but not…

Marilyn: Not what?

Ed: Er…………….President. I’m not the President of England.

Marilyn: President?……..Who is the President of England if it’s not you, Ted?

(Man’s voice in background : Who is THAT, Mari?)

Marilyn (muffled): Its some guy saying he’s the President of England.

Messina grabs phone

Messina: Hi Dave. Didn’t realise it was you. Mari thought it was that f***ing jerk..er…

Ed: It’s Ed Miliband.

Messina: Yeah! That was the guy! What can we do for you, DC? How’s the gorgeous Sam?

Ed: THIS is Ed Miliband. Is that Jim?

Messina (Muffled) CRAP! er…. Hello Ed. There’s been some misunderstanding……..er Ed. How’s David?

Ed: Which one? They’re both  fine thanks, Jim. I wonder if I can have a word with you

Messina: How did you get this number, Ed?

Ed:  David Cameron had it written on the palm of his hand hand and I remembered it. I saw it when he was practising those funny salutes in the mirror….. in the Stranger’s Bar toilet.

Messina: So, Ed. What do you want?

Ed: We, the Labour Party want to win the next General Election and we wondered whether…..er…..you would consider helping us to achieve our goal.

(Sound of muffled but uncontrollable laughter from Messina. One minute later, he returns to the phone)

Messina: Sorry about that, Ed. I swallowed something  and it went down the wrong way…..

Ed: That’s OK, Jim. I was saying . Would you like to be my election guru and help me to win the next General Election? Please?

Messina : Sorry Ed. I’m very busy at the moment.

Ed: If it’s a question of money…that’s not a problem. I have lots. Well, to be perfectly honest I don’t have the cash but I know some powerful people who do and they say they’ll be able to contribute..er..

Messina: Let me be frank…er….Ed. I have a reputation and don’t normally HAVE to associate with losers.

Ed: So you haven’t signed with the Conservatives then, Jim? (laughs)

Messina: Can I speak frankly, Ed?

Ed: Yes of course, Jim. Fire away…as we say over here!

Messina: Sure you won’t be offended, Ed?

Ed: No Jim. Go ahead. Let me have it! (laughs)

Messina: Ed…you haven’t got a f***ing chance of winning. That is why I’m already working for Dave and the Conservativerers. The Labourite Party is going to get f***ed over if you remain as leader. THAT’s the word on the streets, Ed….Sorry, man….

Ed: Do you REALLY think so, Jim? Heard anything else, Jim?

Messina: Ed……If I talk for any longer than three minutes, it becomes a consultation and Mari is already typing the invoice….

Ed: Will you accept a cheque from UNITE, Jim?

Messina: ANY United Nations cheque is good enough for me, Ed. I have great respect for Kofi Ananan.

Ed: But he’s ….er…..er….never mind..You were saying…?

Messina: They say that you are like a guy called Kinnock….all wind and p**s, Ed…..

Ed: Neil was a great leader…who says that, Jim?

Messina: Everyone, Ed. THAT and the fact that you have no policies.

Ed: I HAVE! A European Referendum is one. Then there’s our intention to cut down on Social Security benefits. Then….

Messina: Those are Dave’s policies, Ed……..You stole them.

Ed: No, Jim. I thought of them first. Ed and I did.

Messina: You’re confusing me Ed….

Ed: Ed Balls.

Messina: So I’ve heard.

Marilyn (in background): Mr Messina, it’s time for your Orthodontist and Pilates.

Messina: Sorry, Ed. Have to go but the best of luck in the election….although I’m going to have to take you apart between now and then!! No hard feelings, eh?!

Ed: F*** you!

Messina: You too Ed…….Bye!

Lynton Crosby – the DEFINITIVE answer from DC…or is it?

Below is the transcript of Andrew Marr’s conversation with Prime Minister David Cameron, on the subject of  Lynton Crosby, the Conservative Party’s “campaign consultant” and his input or influence on the question of cigarette packaging.

I do so without comment (it would be superfluous) – apart from reminding DC that a “question” is merely a request for information.

Andrew Marr:

“So can I ask you again whether you have actually talked to him (Crosby) about this issue?”

Cameron:

“Well I think it is important this issue of lobbying because, well look, let me be clear he has not intervened in any way, on this or indeed on other issues and the decision, it’s very important people know this, we haven’t actually changed our policy, I mean, I think there are merits to plain paper packaging for cigarettes, we need more evidence, we need greater legal certainty, we’re not going ahead with it right now,  but I certainly don’t rule it out for the future.

“So the whole thing actually, from start to finish has been something of a media invention. So, he hasn’t intervened, it would be wrong for him to intervene in any way, the decision was actually taken by me, sitting up there (points towards building in No. 10) at my kitchen table, let’s not move ahead with this now, we don’t have enough evidence, there’s too much legal uncertainty.”

“But let’s be clear, this government has been very tough on tobacco, you know we have said we’ve got to cut down on these vending machines, we’ve got to stop big shops doing big promotions, we’ve carried on with the smoking ban, we’ve put up the price of cigarettes, and if we’re too much in hock to the lobbyists as it were, why have we just published a lobbying Bill?”

Marr:

“You have told me absolutely everything except the question that I was asking, which is have you talked to Lynton Crosby about this?”

Cameron:

“I have answered the question; he has not intervened in any single way.”

Marr:

“You haven’t actually prime minister, but you won’t tell me whether you have talked to him about it?”

Cameron:

“I think as I’ve said, he hasn’t intervened in any single way, I think you’ll find that is an answer.”

Marr:

“Yes, but its not quite an answer to the question I asked.”

Cameron:

“But its all you’re getting (laughs).”

Marr:

“There we go.”

Winston S Cameron

David Cameron on yesterday’s barbaric murder in Woolwich: “On our televisions last night, and in our newspapers this morning, we have all seen images that are deeply shocking. The people who did this were trying to divide us. They should know something like this will only bring us together and make us stronger.”

Sorry Dave but this was a numbingly tragic murder of a young soldier by a psycho. It was not the Blitz or the Battle of Britain.

This was a nutter dispensing uber-violence to an innocent serviceman who was in the wrong place at the wrong time – so please do not imbue the crazy bastard with any higher motive such as  “.…trying to divide us”, followed by a shockingly bad speechwriters “counterpoint” : “…bring us together”.

DC’s short “speech” outside No.10 was scrotum-shrinkingly embarrassing and inappropriate. It was “Speechwriting by Numbers” at its very worst.

In future,  can we please dispense with the pseudo-Churchillian platitudes and soulless “sincero-talk”. Thank you.

p.s. Either hire a decent speechwriter or next time, ask Boris to do it.

“The Mess we were left……..” Yawn!

Several months ago, I wrote about the strange new exhortary but meaningless style of oratory designed in the 1960s by the Soviets for use by their shiny-suited Party apparatchiks. It expresses no commitment or intent but cleverly disguises non-commital nonsense as both achievement and the promise of  future achievement. SEE HERE.

Eventually, this hortatory nonsense was seized-upon by Eurowonks and has now been in European Union use by Brussels Commissars for a few years.

It has now been adopted by our own David Cameron!

In its simplest form it is the art of saying “We MUST” and never “We WILL”

As an example, here’s an extract from the last week’s Queens Speech Debate:

DAVID CAMERON: “That is what this Queen’s Speech is all about: rising to the challenge of preparing this country for the future. We are in a global race and the way we will win is by backing families who want to work hard and do the right thing. To do that, we must get the deficit down, not build up ever more debts for our children. We must restore our competitiveness so that British businesses can take on the world. We must reform welfare and pensions so it pays to work and pays to save, and we must reform our immigration system so we attract people who will benefit this country, and we clear up the mess we were left by the Labour party.”

Neither he nor Chancellor Gideon have ever said “We WILL get the deficit down”, “We WILL restore our competitiveness” etc…..and notice the standard government cliché which ends so many of the Coalition’s sentences these days! (underlined above).

Two minutes and three paragraphs later in the same speech, the Prime Minister delivers a variant:

DAVID CAMERON: We need to get the deficit down, so we will complete a spending review by the end of June. We will legislate to abolish needless bureaucracy such as the Audit Commission. We will pass laws to raise revenue by stopping tax abuse. We need to restore our competitiveness…………”

The only times  when  definite intent is expressed is also demonstrated above: “We WILL complete a spending review,” and “We WILL  legislate”.

Legislation is what a government DOES! Overused Reviews, Inquiries and Commissions are all substitutes for proper decision-making. They are this government’s 9ct hallmark and will be their legacy.

Must try harder.

Wars of the Rosettes: UKIP

It used to be said that one of the biggest corporate lies was “I like a man who speaks his mind!” Nobody likes someone who tells it straight – especially if there’s an element of implied criticism.

When a company director says to an underling “Tell me what you really think about our latest initiative” what should the response be? You honestly believe that it is a crock of shit but you also know that it was the directors “baby”. If you’re wise and familiar with office politics, you tell the director exactly what you know that he wants to hear. On the other hand, if you’re a highly principled idiot, you are likely to tell the truth (your truth). That sort of response can come under the heading of “a novel way to resign”!! It is not worth the risk.

UKIP leader Nigel Farage is a straight-talking man and tells us what we want to hear – but he is obviously no idiot. He tells it straight and his disciples continue to multiply. He has two things which give him a great advantage over other party leaders. Firstly, he has what Boris Johnson has – Charisma….a carefully-cultivated roguish old-school, charm……. and he smiles a lot. Yes…it’s THAT simple!

Of course, he has the added advantage of an Establishment-led Coalition government which gives the perception of being utterly incompetent. The Labour Opposition has no discernible “bite” and is led by yet another charmless product of Planet Politics. The other bit of the Coalition (the small bit) is already in terminal decline – a full two  years before the next general election. For our mate Nige, it’s like shooting fish in a barrel.

Nigel Farage can do or say whatever he damn-well pleases and there’s no-one around with the balls to censure him. He is the enemy of all the other political parties, and coincidentally they are also the voters’ enemy. But more importantly, he is the sworn enemy of the self-serving bureaucratic edifice that is the European Parliament.

His election campaign started not a few weeks ago but leapt into life months ago in Brussels as Farage demanded of Van Rompuy: “Who [the f***] are you…..?” That was the moment when many of us , whether we agreed with his politics or not, fell in love with Uncle Nigel. [The parentheses above and their content are mine!]

There was none of the political correctness which constrains David Cameron.  If pushed, you can imagine Nigel saying “Barroso! you’re a twat!”- not that he would….but he has imprinted his personality on the national psyche so powerfully….that we now believe that he WOULD say what many of us are thinking.

Farage’s other great plus-point is that although he is  the son of a stockbroker and attended Dulwich College, he went to work(!) (as a City commodities broker) at the age of 18. He has exactly the sort of background that the Conservatives would dearly love their leader to have.

So, as Nigel and his disciples march out of the wilderness into the political sunlight and as UKIP  party contributions and sponsorships accelerate, what’s the future for the other parties?

Make no mistake, the Tory Starchamber’s Illuminati are looking very closely at their own Party leadership, as are the Trade Union leaders who set the drumbeat for the Labour party.

In the first instance, we can expect a clumsy lurch to the Right from David Cameron in a desperate attempt to woo back former Conservative supporters and hopefully, the other Miliband bought a return ticket.

Whatever the mid-term future holds, we are in for a very interesting two years.

May 2015 will be upon us very quickly!

The Eurocrisis isn’t just Financial.

The Eurozone crisis has managed to morph from a plain old currency crisis to a debt crisis, an economic crisis and now, a full-blown political crisis – although no-one seems to have noticed…….. and it’s not just the Eurozone:

In the United Kingdom, people are making increasingly indiscreet noises about the Prime Minister’s leadership capabilities and the Chancellor’s questionable competence, as the cold hand of political instability makes a (so far) half-hearted grab for No 10. Currently it looks as if there is already a swing to the right. Nigel Farage and UKIP no longer look like a bunch of extremist Right-wing loonies and as they gain respectability and seats, they will pose a genuine threat to the status quo.

Here’s a quick Grand Tour:

Greece’s political problems are well-documented and this is where the recent polarisation of national politics began with the success and increasing support of the right-wing Golden Dawn Party. Greece is on its knees.

In France  there’s the scandal of a Minister and his secret Swiss Bank account with the consequent  investigation of all Ministers – shades of the UK’s MP expenses outrage. President Hollande is keeping a very low profile because , let’s face it….he came to the table without any ideas. His mere presence has allowed Marine le Pen and her Right-wingers to re-emerge blinking into the sunlight, ready to build on her father’s legacy.

Germany’s Bundeskanzlerin Merkel is no longer odds-on to win her autumn election and so, in order to placate her detractors, countries such as Cyprus are being put through the debt-wringer and effectively having to bail themselves out! All in the cause of extra Brownie points for the Merkelator.

Many are anticipating more resignations from within the Cypriot government. Michalis Sarris, the Cypriot finance minister who negotiated Cyprus’s bailout agreement with international creditors has already gone.

Portugal’s Constitutional Court has kicked into touch some of the austerity measures imposed on the country by the Eurozone moneylenders. Now the politicians are wondering about how to plug the fiscal gap and Prime Minister Coelho may resign.

Belgium took 535 days to form a government after its last election and now has a 6-party Cabinet.

Italy is struggling to form a government and will most likely hold another election after President Napolitano comes to the end of his tenure as Head of State on May 15th. Goodness only knows what the reaction of not only the Eurozone but of the Markets would be  should Silvio Berlusconi (again) rise from the dead! Italy’s political scene has become so surreal that  ONE QUARTER of the vote in the recent election went to a protest movement headed-up by Beppe Grillo – a comedian!

Spain’s politicians, including its Prime Minister are mired in corruption scandals – and now there are anti-Royalist demonstrations as a direct result of the king’s daughter being implicated in a government financial rip-off. Mind you, affluent Spaniards have already pulled about $100 billion out of their Spanish bank accounts. They started running early. It’s only a matter of time before the Basques and Catalans start to make their separatist noises.

The difficulty is that one would normally expect the emergence of the Right to be counterbalanced by a strong showing from the political Left. But what Europe has are weak governments , compounded by even weaker oppositions. No European political party in government has over 50% of the vote……. and the less said about the European Union’s politicians, the better! They seem to have elevated ineptitude into an art form.

Currently, Britain’s Left is being driven by Ed Miliband and the New-Old-New-Who-Knows-Who-Cares Labour Party. They earn their salaries through the medium of being critical. They have shown themselves to be totally bereft of a coherent, cohesive strategy and will be directly responsible for the future success of UKIP.

Leadership (or a lack of it) within Germany’s Social Democratic Party will be the main factor which could give Merkel another few years of power. If that happens, the rest of the Eurozone should begin to consider itself as no more than a motley collection of Vassal States……there to do Germany’s bidding. Unless of course, Germany accepts George Soros’ advice and leaves the Euro.

France does not enjoy having a Socialist President and it is right to be sceptical. President Hollande is now totally ignored by Merkel and is doing what he does best – he keeps out of the way as Germany tightens its stranglehold.

Hollande could have been the Eurozone’s great hope but unfortunately is way out of his depth. France now has a negative bond rating  by all three rating services and has lost much of its international respect. It’s precarious banking system is just waiting (like many others) to go “pop!”

The Main Event this year will be Merkel’s re-election so the Eurozone states must not expect any major policy changes until then – and when she wins? More of the same – but without the compassion!

What of Europe’s medium to long-term future? Without some sort of political quantum leap, it will inevitably  descend into a collection of  Third World states but with running water, TV and a banking system totally independent of its economy and probably with its own flag.

Gideon and the Welfare State.

This is what Chancellor Gideon said about Mick Philpott, the scumbag who killed his own children through an act of gross stupidity:

“Philpott is responsible for these absolutely horrendous crimes and these are crimes that have shocked the nation. The courts are responsible for sentencing, but I think there is a question for government and for society about the Welfare State and the taxpayers who pay for the Welfare State, subsidising lifestyles like that. I think that debate needs to be had.”

These ill-conceived words from an ill-conceived Chancellor have sparked a debate because of the link made between the crime and the Welfare State. Let’s test Osborne’s opinion with a small substitution:

Shipman is responsible for these absolutely horrendous crimes and these are crimes that have shocked the nation. The courts are responsible for sentencing, but I think there is a question for government and for society about the NHS and the taxpayers who pay for the NHS, subsidising lifestyles like that. I think that debate needs to be had.”

It doesn’t work, does it?

Philpott is the product of an upbringing, a  British education, a social environment, a learned set of values and generations of genetic programming.

Juxtaposing the Welfare State and Philpott’s crime was yet another “bad call” in a long list of bad calls by the Chancellor.

The Genesis of the United Kingdom’s Welfare State is to be found in the Liberal Welfare Reforms of 1906-1914, under Liberal Prime Minister Herbert Asquith.

Surely, Gideon and Dave aren’t going to blame the Libdems for this one too, are they !?

Cameron versus Major

At the time, John Major was not considered to be a very dynamic leader, certainly not one judged to be a GREAT Conservative leader. In fact, he was a bit of a joke and was mercilessly brutalised by the media, notably by those pesky Latex satirists, Spitting Image. Remember the Grey Major and his conversations with Norma about peas? Remember the Y-fronts and the safety-pin?

Yet he was a good man, an honest man, a straightforward man, a man from humble beginnings. After all, his father had been a circus performer!

At the time of his surprise 1992 election win – when he defeated the windbag Kinnock, he could have represented a new beginning for the Conservative Party.

Briefly, the Conservatives had been in an egalitarian frame of mind. Meritocracy was still on the menu. No more Alec Douglas-Homes, Macmillans or even Heaths. Had the grocer’s daughter from Grantham  been the catalyst for a less aristocratic and more egalitarian Conservative Party? Had John Major, albeit reluctantly, picked up the baton on behalf of the lower orders?

We tolerated Major. His image, voice and mannerisms were, let’s face it…. grey and boring. Even the revelation that he had been shtupping Edwina Currie would not have made any difference to his image. But we liked him. He was a Man of the People. The Conservatives had turned the corner. No more Eton and Harrow toffs running the show!

Anyone could become a Conservative Prime Minister.

1992….sounds a long time ago, doesn’t it? Well…..that was the LAST TIME that the Conservative Party properly won a general election.

TWENTY ONE YEARS AGO!!

Our current Rulers are keen on numbers and statistics. Let’s have a look at some.

In 1992, under the lame John Major,  the Conservatives won 41.9% of the Vote with 336 seats.

In 2010, under the new dynamic David Cameron, the Conservatives won 36.1% of the vote with 306 seats.

The last (2010) General Election election was less than two years after one of the worst financial crashes in history with the Labour Party under the stewardship of Gordon Brown. He is now widely acknowledged to be one of the worst Prime Ministers in History.

The Conservatives should have won an easy overall majority.

Had the Conservative Party Oberkommando made a fundamental error in relentlessly having pushed forward one of their gilded own towards the inevitability of the top job?

“Riding shotgun” was yet another “hooray”, in the shape of the simpering and credibility-free The Rt Hon George Gideon Oliver Osborne.  His only business, industry or commercial experience had been as a Conservative Central Office speechwriter! Suddenly, “The Unemployable One” was running the world’s seventh largest (and counting) economy!

Dave and Gideon between them have rendered the Conservative Party unelectable. They are going to lose the 2015 General Election and they will take the Libdems down with them.

Since the political assassination of Margaret Thatcher, the Conservative Party has shown itself to be lacking int the “Let’s Choose a Leader” department. All you have to do is to look at the array of zombie  Conservative Party leaders who have graced the top job since John Major’s severe and politically terminal bout of “Inter-scapular Neuralgia”.

….and now it seems that both David Cameron and Chancellor Gideon are beginning to feel the odd twinge between the shoulder blades. Neither really deserves it  because they were both encouraged and promoted to well-above their level of incompetence far too early.

Let’s hope that the next time, The Party gets it right.

Eastleigh: a UKIP lesson

Last year, I predicted as follows:  “David Cameron will realise that UKIP is a clear and present danger and will begin the fight-back by the only way possible. He will adopt their policies and reinforce that by continuing to spray copious volumes of testosterone in Brussels.” ( #17 HERE )

In spite of the Conservatives’ best efforts to smear the Liberal Democrats with the ridiculously-timed media Lord Rennard “Gropegate” campaign, the Party has been humiliated in the fifteenth by-election of this lame government. The majority of all the other by-elections since 2010 were straightforward and predictable “Labour Hold” results – this one was different. Very different.

If the insufferably smug UKIP leader Nigel Farage struts any more zingily, he’ll injure himself! But who can blame him? The incompetence, the 19th Century policies, the 18th Century verbal jousting and lack of cogent communication by the other parties has helped UKIP to begin their final climb to Westminster.

Both main parties will dismiss this colossal electoral success by UKIP as a mere mid-term blip…and they will suffer because of their total lack of either proper analysis or strategy. To both main parties but especially the Conservatives, UKIP has been allowed to become (ironically) like the Eurozone – it has flourished into a problem without solution. UKIP is here to say.

The way any government operates is very straightforward. The first half of its term in office is given over to imposing the necessary “bad bits” – the policies which are bound to be unpopular.

The second half of its tenure (especially in the final 12 months leading to a General Election)  is usually distinguished by the giveaways – the “nice bits”. (Tax decreases, new thresholds, share handouts etc).

This time – it will NOT work. It will not work because , in the final analysis – forget policies and promises….we vote for people we like and trust. The present Coalition government (especially the Tories) have no-one particularly likeable to offer and they have certainly “blown” the last vestiges of any pre-election trust that the electorate had in them.

But the REALLY big tactical error that the Conservatives made in Eastleigh was their choice of candidate, Mrs Maria “I say what I think” Hutchings. She was the nearest that the Tories could find to their own ersatz  UKIP candidate.

They thought that they might just fool the electorate…………. and failed.

We’ve already had the traditional “Yes, it’s disappointing but I’m sure that we can win the voters back at the next General Election” announcement from the Prime Minister.

Are you sure about that, Dave?

(BTW – well done Libdems………. and Nick, there’s a difference between “stunning ” and “stunned”!)

UK Unemployment – It hasn’t MOVED!

The United Kingdom’s latest unemployment figures have just been published amid extravagant “progress”  claims by the Coalition Government.

Here is a BBC screen from April 2010 – just before the last election:

Here is the BBC screen from TODAY:

DO please click on both images! Your eyes are NOT deceiving you!

We appear to have had a lot of activity and bustle from the Coalition Government but the unemployment figure is exactly the same as it was three years ago.

The government claims to have created ONE MILLION new jobs in the private sector.

That must be the MOST UNPRODUCTIVE block of workers ever seen because they have had no impact whatsoever on National Productivity.

What is occurring? Apart, that is, that MORE of the 2.5 million are now either under-employed and/or  part-time.

Eurozone Meetings Merrygoround

This week, Angela Merkel meets Herman Van Rompuy, Mario Monti meets Francois Hollande who also meets David Cameron.

The new Meeting Season seems to indicate that Eurozone leaders have decided that meeting in plenary will be punctuated by the new craze of meeting in pairs.

I thought that it may be useful to compute how many meetings 0f TWO, could be managed by 20 politicians.

They are:  the 17 Eurozone leaders + Van Rompuy + Barroso + Cameron = 20.

So, how many meetings would  20 politicians generate if they met in pairs?

Using the formula n!/(r!(n-r)!)……… (n = number of leaders and r = 2,  as they meet in pairs)

The total number of “pair meetings” achievable by 20 politicians is  20!/(2!(20 – 2)!) = 190

We have to double that, because they each will want to meet twice so that each one has TWO meetings with every one. (One Home and one Away).

Therefore 20 politicians can generate 380 meetings – if they confine themselves to meeting TWO at a time.

That of course is on TOP of the monthly Eurozone Crisis Meetings, EU meetings and special meetings – for instance, when Spain decides to take the €500 billion we all know it needs or the next time Greece is (once again) about to go down the Grexit toilet.

We can see therefore that any attempt to solve the European Crisis would only serve to interfere with what is already a very heavy meeting schedule.

Chipping Norton Net

David Cameron must be feeling a bit uncomfortable with the thought of his friend Rebekah with friend and former employee Andy Coulson facing the prospect of prison.

Needless to say, both of their initial reactions are of the “I’m totally innocent or I’ve been fitted-up” variety.

Otherwise, there’ll be yet another soap-on-a-rope in the post.

So what did the Lords ever do for us?

The House of Lords provides us with what every proper democracy needs and which every single Law demands in unlimited portions.  WISDOM.

We may well caricature the Lords as the Westminster Chapter of God’s Waiting Room, populated by trembling, Zimmer-pushing geriatrics who spend their days farting and dozing on red leather whilst listening to each others’ arteries hardening, with only the occasional trip to nursey’s office to have the colostomy bag emptied………… It’s nothing like that.

The very first thing that strikes you is its very  “ordinariness”, its informality and its total lack of pomp.

It is certainly NOT full of self-important, puffed-up, swaggering aristos clipping jug-carrying flunkeys around the earhole, screaming  “Another tankard of Port, my man !!”

It is a quiet place. It a a place underpinned by mutual respect and the ability to listen.

None of the raucousness and noisome dissonance of the “other place”. None of the name-calling and playground punchups or “Leave him – he’s not worth it” attitude of the Lower House.

These are the “self-actualised”. Those who “have done it”, “seen it” and who know better.

In general, the House of Commons is anti too much reorganisation of the House of Lords. Ever wondered why?

Is it a rabid dislike of the “hereditaries”? Is it an over-developed sense of “democracy” ? Is it the “They should be elected NOT appointed…” group?

It is none of the above.

Most Honourable and Right Honourable Members of Parliament see the Lords as a reward, something to aspire to, a recognition of their years of selfless sacrifice and a final gift from the Establishment. They covet the ultimate status achievable within the United Kingdom. “Yes, My Lord!” ……It is their Gold Watch.

And why not?

They say that age is a price worth paying for wisdom. The average age within in the House of Lords is 65.

The average age in David Cameron’s Commons sand-pit is about 50.

Mind you, it is David Cameron who has done more to lower the “currency” of a Title  than any previous Prime Minister.  He ennobled 117 individuals within  12 months of coming to office. That told us a lot about his comparative youth, impetuosity plus his demand to impress. No point in complaining that “there are too many of them” (there are 818 voting Lords) after you have just added over 100 to the fire!

He was also aware that one of the major items on the Libdem shopping list was a reform of the House of Lords and that Nick Clegg needed a bone to play with. That is exactly what he was given. No more.

Currently, the Lords is a patchwork of hereditaries, politicians, lawyers, Anglican bishops and various “sundries” from public and commercial life. That is how it should be.

The alternative is an elected bunch of those bred-nurtured-and-educated purely for politics (it’s already happening in the Commons). Soulless and charisma-free Party wonks to whom commerce and normal life are a matter of wonderment and mystery.

On this occasion, let’s once again do what politicians do best. Leave it alone and wait.

2032

The Labour-Liberal Coalition is just about managing to cope with the constant rioting but at least immigration has been halted. No-one wants to move here anymore.

Head Minister Yvette wishes that she hadn’t defeated David Miliband because her life with the 30-stone Ed Balls ended as soon  as he had been defeated in the Leadership election by the elder Miliband. She had felt honour-bound to avenge her former husband’s humiliation and to everyone’s surprise, she had won!

Within two days had been texted by the Leader and asked to either form a government or go into exile to Melton Mowbray in the Mid-Shires.

No-one knows where the younger Miliband is at the moment. Rumour is that he is teaching English somewhere near Beijing – but these days – who knows.

Anyway, it was no joke having to go everywhere totally surrounded by large sweaty Security Guards in too-tight suits. Yvette hated that nearly as much as the Kevlar jacket which she seemed to take off only at bedtime . Even that wasn’t much fun any more.

She was soon to meet the rather wizened President of France. She briefly thought of President Lagarde in those good old days when she had been Head of the now defunct International Monetary Fund. The whereabouts of the money continues to be a mystery – but there are still lingering suspicions as to how well Germany (which used to be known as Europe) is doing.

As she climbed into the human-drawn bullet-proof rickshaw (the Ministerial Jags had been scrapped soon after the Petrol Wars) , out of the corner of her eye, she caught sight of what appeared to be a familiar face. The features were still smooth – even after THAT prison sentence –  but the Buller Boy confidence now looked a little deflated and the sandwich board was not sitting comfortably on the 30 year-old hand-made suit. Sometimes, she thought that the post-incarceration humiliation phase of a prison sentence was a bit unnecessary but it did seem to teach some humility to those who were believed to need it.

The House of Parliament  used to be called Phoenix House and she was once again reminded of the historical episode thirty years ago when someone called Rupert Murdoch had a custard pie thrown in his face within these very walls! The incident had led to the destruction of the entire newspaper industry – Pre-Digi – and was commemorated by a sculpture fixed to the pavement outside.

She looked at the trio of figures. Maxwell, his wife Wendy Deng and pie-thrower Jonathan May-Bowles were depicted in life-sized splendour. Well….that wasn’t strictly true. The “sculpture” was by the Gunther von Hagens studios and rumoured to be no more than the plastinated remains of the three participants. However the bomb-proof glass case in which the sculpture was sealed made analysis impossible – plus there had been rumours that two of the figures depicted had been spotted in various locations – just like Arkle, Lord Lucan and Gordon Brown. Mind you, she mused, without any reliable news….who knows?

When she was awakened by the scream of a knocked-over tourist just outside the main entrance to the Virgin Westminster Palace of Fun, she shouted to the rickshaw pulling-team to stop. She noticed quite a few people wandering about amongst the potholes. They were all wearing those ill-fitting but mandatory jackets with “TOURIST” emblazoned on the back – although many of them were English and from only 30 or 40 miles away.

She decided to take a risk and see whether the person her team had knocked over was OK and stepped rather gingerly onto the pavement.  She reached into her gun-case for a handheld pot-pourri, as the stench of the open street was something to which she was no longer acclimatised.

A few years ago, this would have been what used to be called “an iOpportunity”. A digital image would have been taken of the Head Minister cradling an injured citizen to her Spanx-Kevlar bodice and the image would have been transmitted to everyone who still had an iDevice.

Unfortunately. Electronic signals were a thing of the past and citizens only wore “ the iBox” around their neck or waist for decoration.

However, it was soon apparent that the Tourist had a broken leg. Yvette turned and re-entered the Ministerial Carry-pod. “Deal with it, “ she snapped to one of her guards.

As the door hissed shut and she felt the shudder of the rickshaw slowly gathering speed, she fancied that she heard  a single gunshot….. in fact, as she proceeded, she noticed that there were lots of gunshots……


To be continued/

Closet or Cabinet?

Dr Liam Fox and now Oliver Letwin have given David Cameron the sort of distractions which he does not really need. There has been speculation about each man’s political future and the doom-mongers reckon that “it’s all unravelling”. Nothing could be further from the truth.

A few years ago, I  had a meeting at Conservative Central Office (when the Party could still afford Smith Square) with Lord Freeman who, at the time, was in charge of Candidates. We discussed the possibility of me testing prospective members of Parliament so that the Party did not have to rely on patronage and the  depressingly amateurish local interviews which continue to be a feature of candidate selection.

Had we gone ahead  with the plans, the present Cabinet would have contained some candidates who would have been pre-vetted by me. In the event, it was decided not to go ahead with something which may have caused certain future Ministers embarrassment.  Mind you, this parliament has produced those who are managing maximum embarrassment without any external help.

However, in the main, DC has assembled a surprisingly able bunch of characters.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – David Cameron is a good, solid Prime Minister and, given the time, he could become a great one. There is just one thing holding him back – the lack of depth in his “one-downers”. The Cabinet.

Here’s the list:

Nick Clegg, William Hague, George Osborne, Ken Clarke, Theresa May, Liam Fox, Vince Cable, Iain Duncan Smith, Chris Huhne, Andrew Lansley, Michael Gove, Eric Pickles, Philip Hammond, Caroline Spelman, Andrew Mitchell, Owen Patterson, Michael Moore, Cheryl Gillan, Jeremy Hunt, Danny Alexander, Lord Strathclyde, Baroness Warsi, Francis Maude, Oliver Letwin, David Willets, Sir George Young, Patrick McLoughlin, Dominic Grieve.

No problems at all with the first five:

Nick Clegg has the most difficult job, both as a politician and nanny to his confused Liberals who, in spite of (mostly) enjoying  the aphrodisiac nature of power, are still a bit uncertain as to whether they are really participating or merely ballast. His sometimes diffident manner disguises a will of steel.

William Hague has grown into his job, in spite of the shaky start with Libya. He has credibility abroad which is probably one of the most important attributes of any Foreign Secretary.

George Osborne, unsurprisingly has been the recipient of more “stick” than any other politician but , love him or hate him, he has shown courage and tenacity and sometimes, downright stubbornness. Whether those attributes are born of economic understanding or just downright bloody-mindedness, remains to be seen. What is in his favour is that, unlike many others – he takes decisions and stands by them.

Ken Clarke has made the legal system accessible. I know that sounds a bit fanciful but in spite of his occasional too-straight talking , he is a great antidote to a legal system which makes bankers and their bonuses look like paupers. Currently, both the economy and David Cameron need a Lord Chancellor who at least “appears” non-elitist because sooner or later, we are going to scrutinise the multi-billion pound cash machine that is THE LAW.

Theresa May is annoying. However, she is good at her job and so far, does not appear to have put a a faux leopard skin kitten-heel-clad foot wrong. She too is not afraid to take unpopular decisions. Her handling of both the News International scandal and the inner city rioting was impeccable.

I would also add Iain Duncan Smith and Michael Gove to the A-team. IDS has proved that there is life after political death and has been delivering spectacular results with his pensions initiatives. He is both a great theorist as well as having a rare quality among politicians – he is a “doer”.

Michael Gove has been quietly ploughing the Education furrow  and shaking-up an over-bureaucratic education system and has not been afraid to take some very unpopular decisions. He too is a “doer”. His thinking on education harks back to the 60s when children were educated and not used as test and statistics fodder. 10/10

Philip Hammond at Transport also belongs in the A-team and is without doubt a star of the future. He is lucky though to have both Norman Baker and Mike Penning as Parliamernary Under Secretaries.  Norman the Idealist and Mike the “no shit”  British Bulldog. Philip Hammond is seen on TV as a government spokesman much more than you might expect from a Secretary for Transport.

Dr Liam Fox has been delivering what, on the surface has been a solid job – if not a bit over-influenced by the balance sheet. He has always looked like the Conservatives’ “nearly man”. Soon, he may be the “never really was” man – as his political career begins to unravel. He, in common with all politicians should remember that Perception is King. The current perception of him is now tending towards  the seedy.

Vince Cable was always going to be a problem and continues to be a bit of a thorn. He is a natural backroom boy and looks terribly uncomfortable in the back of a Ministerial limo. However, by far his biggest handicap is the fact that he is having increasing difficulty in disguising his Socialist views. He seems to be in permanent pain. Very soon, his political career will  describe the downward arc of the parabola. He is the Statler and Waldorf of the Cabinet and compared to some of the other youngsters is from the wrong generation. His obssession with the bankers is hurting his credibility because he has not managed to do anything about them and never will.

Chris Huhne is even more annoying than Theresa May (!) but his personal life and the alleged driving licence naughtiness has totally blown his credibility. He is lucky that he is a Liberal – otherwise he may have already participated in an exit interview with DC.

Andrew Lansley is running the NHS in the way that you would expect from a career Civil Servant. He is doubtless very able – as a Civil Servant – but the NHS currently needs a large dose of commercial thinking. Everything that he has put forward so far has been through the wringer. Wrong man in the wrong job.

Eric Pickles is a great man in every sense.  He provides the Cabinet with some Northern credibility. From a Labour family, this ex-Communist has travelled the entire political spectrum and is one of the shrewdest operators in Government. He is one of the few in Cabinet who is 100% suited to his brief with the advantage of being a working-class Conservative.

One Cabinet member who one could have been forgiven for thinking would, by now be running one of the great Departments of State is Francis Maude. He is a rock-solid operator and should, without doubt be on the real A-team. As Minister at the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General , he has been handed a temporary consolation prize. He has not peaked yet. As a former Managing Director of Morgan Stanley, he knows things.  Street-wise.

Oliver Letwin is Minister of State at the Cabinet office is DC’s Policy Adviser. Like many intellectuals, he appears to be constantly stressed and “away with the fairies”.  He is the archetypal analytical-amiable who cannot manage himself – or others – and has been given the “Special Projects” brief. He is currently the recipient of a press-roasting but, like a good luck charm, will always be retained in some capacity. It is a pity that other Cabinet members cannot spot “burn-out” when they see it.

David Willets, like Letwin is a white-hot intellectual who is good to have around. He is articulate and fiercely bright.  He would have done much better , had he not looked like a spud. His great disadvantage is a lack of any “street-cred” because he has always been a political “wonk”. Having said all that, he is the ideal person to be looking after Universities and Science with the advantage of being so clever that there isn’t a single other member anywhere NEAR as suitable for this job.

Danny Alexander is another (young) career politician and his appointment has always smacked of tokenism with the added suspicion that David Laws is hanging about whilst DC waits for a respectable passage of time before he invites him back.

Sir George Young SHOULD have been Speaker of the House and his present post as Leader of the House is his consolation prize.  He is marking time because he will probably be the next Speaker. In spite of a comparatively undistinguished Parliamentary career so far, he gives the Cabinet gravitas.

Next we have the Cabinet  “solid citizens”.  All are capable but not stars: Caroline Spelman, Andrew Mitchell, Owen Patterson, Michael Moore, Cheryl Gillan, Jeremy Hunt, Patrick McLoughlin and Dominic Grieve are all OK but will never set the world on fire.

Finally we have the youthful, Lord Strathclyde, or should I say Thomas Galloway Dunlop du Roy de Blicquy Galbraith, 2nd Baron Strathclyde. As Leader in the Lords, he is a very safe pair of hands and is a Conservative straight from Tory Central Casting. A great asset to the Cabinet.

Baroness Warsi is Chairman of the Conservative Party and although a competent TV performer, she always sounds as if she’s reading from a Tory pamphlet. She is very likely to be reshuffled out soon. Bearing in mind that Perception is King, her appointment smacked of tokenism.

So, you see that , in spite of the elitist-millionaire tags, the Cabinet is largely populated by a very cabable and  solid bunch of operators –  although the real depth of talent within the Coalition parties is still a bit of a mystery – even, one suspects, to David Cameron himself.

This Cabinet has a good mix of experience, intellect and toughness.

Whether or not you share their views or politics – they are (by far) the ones who have the very best chance of extricating us from where we have landed.

Cameron’s Speech – the Tevez Way!

“ANYONE SEEN BORIS?”

Yesterday, during David Cameron’s Speech to the Conservative conference, I took off my microphone and left it in front of the radio . Unfortunately, I forgot to switch-off the mic.

The mic was still connected to my voice-recognition software which as some of you may know, is tuned just for my voice.

Below is the result. The scary thing is that it makes perfect sense – with a twist of Tevez (and Stanley Unwin).

I have not included the whole speech ( for health reasons!)

This week’s Liz Barclay at show discipline the unity and that is that is a lot of classy. I’m proud of my team and I are members and gradually the art but most of all I’m proud to you made this week the success that I believe it. Then run on it and run people have very clear instructions. The site of this economic is a way that is fair and right as you don’t please build something worth while for us and our children. Clear instructions clear objectives and really a clear understanding that any times is leadership and to get are probably get our society works at Hay.

Pitiable while the options to show everyone what would really is the first. I’ll say something to everyone in this will add despite predictions in one elections are wrapped treatments may to S a great campaign or one Hassan (of the something in the AEE). Get you a certain is that you keep that institutional banking system up the political agenda. Bred generations about the benefit of the next letters make sure with the gay week by Boris and wiki London observance of all is this is all inserted.

It went when the schedule is so much that the spirit of what some in Bristol which reporting all your books well below is very carefully at. But my colleagues chose George knew exactly what you want a widespread that the matter would begin so either over or is is that instead he chose the joy site. Are the one I chose person I said Ken this little crime and punishment I’ll read it twice.

Yesterday we should all be reading what it is likely they were children and that you remember what it helps the police to catch the blood that will keep in touch. And hours that never were and earlier this year some people said it here that is not our concern the business don’t let anyone say that it wasn’t in our national interest will remember what exactly did you know it’s sent text the IRA immobilisation. And the police officer in a square and is not what they may disguise a weblog so I say let us be right what we did doubt if it will take back that much of it in the remaining within writing is greatly any little rock of it.

Wales will benefit baby and we are on target to bring the low end of 2040 days in a incredible origins and I know that everyone is all want to send a message in to our Armed Forces in our beliefs. And to those of you who keep a safe terrorism on streets we are proud of what you write leadership will that will bring as much.

A right of the month ago I was in Nigeria on a trade mission while I was there I visited acceleration and experience I will never again.  It was very hot bring basic allowance. Go on but in the 80s is that was once one of the nurses told that it was made many of the babies and employers time this country will help vaccinate all the world’s poorest children are now able to do what they will make sure you’re on a post-it note will do it where it is an account but I elegantly in spite of all out of this the right thing to do it in our country and our people never turn our backs on the world’s poorest and I believe.

I will never pretend there are shortcuts to success. Success will come with the right idea right to write leadership. Leadership job to set the direction was taken and the choices you must make but you should also do for the end that will read another success of our politicians. Or double if the people and the spirit of some people say that to succeed in this world we need an eye on the approach I will still I say to you by us the real us hard-working high end and yet optimistic carried out as a spirited and I’m thinking it’s a small country that does read it while boasting a successful history.

Of one of… I believe is alive and well today. I set to Sydney Roberts headteacher I note in Norwich who started a response from scratch at South Alterman oversubscribed what her ambition to do it all over again and leadership. I see it did not object easy access to technical  the network patients in the country free treatment in our history the RHS and leadership. I said in all we saw this he watched the rise and fall onto the set now they are just be the chance to clear up kicker.

It is set out all without this started social people picked up rooms and reclaim our streets to the argument I want to make today leadership works I know how things are 1 min underestimate how I repeat the weather is about making ends meet state of the world the truth is right now when the amateur is not paralysed by group the of the world as long.

Sells –  it is describing it and the rest just let them decide what is written about our country we don’t set that success in this century automatically belongs is just have to remember the origin. She the people Britain taking it as why much of it was much more why each is about unleashing your English chance to see the opportunity sub for a while and get it done again.

Everyone wants to build it, but are working on taking responsibility will be well rewarded and Solaris project the pessimism that rebel group is this some energy at right I’d better get your rock country rate in Britain. It wasn’t so it will we should do it is the right as you it was that so many people actually written could do something like that and any of your fellow passengers the economic future of social and political system our best days are behind is where I’ll certain.

I’m here to tell you at Sydney is true because they said around and hope the best the rest will need a spot in a cell with raw network society and our children which will give ourselves we can get these things at black corrected us states that fronting best interest they’ll likely as well and you put in thethat’s desirable   at a meeting in Manchester the threat to the world the following and written is as serious as in 2008 when world recession the Eurozone is in crisis threat even people finds the normally require.

You were this time it’s not like people to know that the good times so long in coming the answer it’s straightforward about this was in session the things will work with you to get the clear understood into recession.

All Coppers (and Rebekah) are NOT Bastards!

Delegation is very topical at the moment because it looks as if we’re in for a few weeks of  various News of the World-related individuals indulging in that most British of blood sports of “throwing oneself on one’s sword”.  As you can see from its name, it is an ancient ritual which the traditionally-minded British have not yet been able to shake off.

The misguided premis is that the “honourable” thing to do is to commit symbolic Seppuku as a gesture to appease.  It is neither honourable, practical nor does it appease. It is an “empty” gesture. From a practical point of view, it also means that when a high-level manager or director commits professional suicide through the medium of  “the resignation”, he has to be replaced – usually by a second or third-choice inferior being.

One of the more important components of the ritual is The Letter – which bizzarely (but traditionally)  expresses  “thanks and support” and usually alludes to a “rewarding experience”.

It is, of course all ritualistic nonsense and what we are SUPPOSED to do when these letters are put into the public domain (which they ALWAYS are) is to “nudge-nudge…wink-wink” and “read between the lines” and wonder “was he pushed or did he jump?”

So what causes this organisational equivalent of self-immolation?  There are only THREE   reasons for professional suicide or corporate sacrifice. The first is an indiscretion, the second is being caught with one’s fingers in the till (stealing, taking backhanders etc) and the final one is bad delegation and a lack of management skills.

The News of the World fiasco clearly demonstrated all of the above.

Rebekah Brooks was thrown on the pyre because she had been promoted to above her level of incompetence and she did not understand that when she delegated, she should have managed. Although she had delegated responsibility, the accountability remained her property. That meant that as soon as one of her underlings screwed-up, her head would be alongside theirs on the block. What is known as a “laissez-faire” style of management carries great risks.

Instead of delegating, Rebekkah had abdicated her responsibility. That means that she simply gave it away and allowed the system or process of news-gathering to be managed by others or, worst of all, she allowed processes to continue without management.

She, in common with others, claimed that she had no idea of what had been going on.  She was either lying or (more likely), she was an incompetent non-leader.

It is most likely that Rebekah Brooks’ sin was not naughtiness – just incompetence. She was too busy schmoozing to notice what was going on. When she did find out – it was too late.

The corporate position in which she found herself was not an unusual one. Many people are promoted because they are perceived as being good at a totally unrelated job to the one into which they are promoted. A great reporter may NOT be a good Editor and a great Editor may be a lousy corporate executive. All three jobs require different sets of skills.

If that was the case, then the fault rests entirely with Murdoch for giving her a rank which she was not ready for.

The other type of manager or director who tends not to know what is going on is the tyrant – the one who rules by fear. That type of manager creates such a culture of suspicion and mistrust that he or she is only ever given the good news. Consequently they are often completely oblivious to anything even vaguely irregular.

That highlights yet another issue which is extremely common. Companies hand out senior positions as a “rank” and not as a job function. Once again, if Murdoch had perceived Rebekah as having done a good job as Editor, he may have viewed her promotion  to CEO as a reward –  the corporate equivalent of a Damehood. That was his mistake.

The Poisoned Chalice of Metropolitan Commissioner is also about to change hands after the “resignation ” of the present incumbent.

Sir Paul Stephenson’s resignation statement last night suggested that he was pushed onto his sword. His sin was the comparatively innocent one of someone under him hiring an ex-News of the World assistant editor plus not paying for a  stay at a health farm.

Sir Paul was NOT an incompetent manager. As an undoubted asset to the Metropolitan Police, he should have been assured that no matter what, his position was safe and that he had not only the support of the Prime Minister but that of the increasingly arrogant and out-of-control Mayor of London. But as they say, you cannot satisfy all the Buller boys all of the time.

His resignation has highlighted the management incompetence of the Mayor of London and to a lesser extent, that of the Prime Minister. The Mayor of London has appeared to be in need of a puppet Metropolitan Commissioner for some time now and finally, he will have his wish. That will dilute police management even further.

We need an independent police force and not one which is in the pocket of a “here-today-gone-tomorrow” tinpot dictator.

What of the Prime Minister’s sins in hiring Andy Coulson? A lack of diligence and an over-keenness to please News International when it decided  to call-in the favour of having become a Conservative Party supporter .

From the MPs’ expenses fiasco to the current News International shenanigans – the root cause of the lack of continuity in public (and media) life has a very straightforward root cause  – an alarming shortage of people with appropriate management and organisational skills.

Finally, if we carry on trashing the careers of our best  senior people, we are in severe danger of gradually dissuading “the best”  from even considering high office.

That is already becoming evident in the standard of the last three parliamentary intakes.

Obama at the No 10 Barbecue

Large men wearing shades, wires dangling from cauliflower ears and overcoats neatly folded in front of them stand very still. They are watching a little man running about putting the last touches to the seating arrangements. Sweat is pouring down his pink face. He looked quite neat when he arrived with the milk at 4.00 a.m. Now he looks like a sweating anaemic blood orange in a crumpled grey suit. 

At last his master summons him.  “Clegg!” 

The Prime Minister, looking very casual in his white shirt, navy blue suit trousers, black brogues, pulls off his tie and hands it to the hapless Clegg. “Get rid of this. Don’t lose it. When my bestest chums Barack and Michelle arrive, take their coats and put them somewhere safe. Can you manage that? I don’t want any more fuck-ups. Speaking of fuck ups, how’s the Huhne thing going?”

“Well, your Highness……….”stammers Clegg, “I…..I…..I. Sorry your Eminent and Serene…..Highness….”

“Just shut the fuck up and get rid of the tie, Make sure that you fold it properly.”

Clegg scuttles off pausing only to be searched and for the tenth time, have a metal detector waved over him by a gorilla in RayBans.

He runs into No 10, through the French windows, up a short flight of stairs, into the lavatory. He decides to have a quick pee but in his blind haste, he wets the Prime Minister’s tie. “Fuck!”  he mutters. Another bollocking.

Imperceptibly, the mood in the Rose Garden changes. The Special Service psychos suddenly stand a bit straighter whilst the biggest one – the one with shoulders like an overstuffed sofa speaks into his sleeve. They’re here! 

An immaculate and very cool Obama sweeps through into the garden . Michelle, looking casual yet expensively glamorous follows discreetly.

The “Mwwwah! Mwwwah” ceremony between the Camerons and the Obamas is quickly concluded as the rest of the Cabinet lines up for the handshakes. Hague is looking especially resplendent in his New York Yankees baseball hat, multi-coloured Hawaiian shirt, khaki shorts and Argos trainers. Cameron looks across at Hague, just as the Foreign Secretary says to Michelle ” Hello, Nice day”.

“Twat!” thinks Cameron as he watches Sam fuss over the pre-cooked, pre-tasted,  Texan burgers on the grill .

” Would you like a burger, Barack?”  he shouts over to the President who at that moment stands shaking hands with the Home Secretary who once again is wearing her leopard print “Fuck me” shoes.

The President is relieved to have finished the gladhanding , grabs Michelle by the hand and returns to the comparative sanctuary of the blazing-hot barbecue.

Cameron repeats: ” Burger Barack?”

Barack pulls a sheet of paper from his trouser pocket.

“As the white-hot fingers of the London sun caress the pale face of this momentous day in this Rose Garden, I would ask something of you – my fellow  human being and servant of the people…Mr Prime Minister………..something that I am not just asking of you. It is something that I would ask of anyone. Take your wooden tongs , and reach…………yes, reach for that burger bun ( Yes we can!) and having split it with the ice-sharp steel of your artisan knife – thrust into it one , just one  onion-laced beef patty and hand it to me –  for I am like you . I am your brother and I know that you also feel my hunger and the hunger of the people, your people, my people……OUR PEOPLE!  The people of the world! We are the people!  And when you have handed it to me, I will endeavour to accomplish what has been instituted by families up and down this great land of Ingerland since the mists of time parted.  They parted to reveal our forebear – the common man ( Yes we can!). I am not asking for anything more that a bite – or if it pleases you, my dear and gracious Prime Minister Cameroon –  just the opportunity of a bite. Now if that bite seems unpleasant or offensive in any way – we neither make nor demand apology  – we simply ask the one question that matters – ketchup or none? Cheeze or no cheeze I do not yet know the answer but…..we shall begin our journey, this barbecue journey together and  we shall find out! It will be our quest! We may not get it right first time but one day soon  we will know! Maybe even before the end of this great day! God Bless the County of Ingerland and  the United States of America!”

Cameron and Sam are now beginning to look quite ill-at-ease. Sam turns to her husband who appears to have gone into “shut-down”. “What the fuck was that all about. Does he want a fucking burger or not?”

Just  as President Obama pauses for applause an embarrassed Michelle steps in. The only person clapping, jumping up and down, waving an American flag  is Clegg. One of the Secret Service gorillas looks as if he is about to shoot the Limey faggot with the wet stains down the front of his trousers.

Michelle helps the Camerons ” He means ‘yes please’. Can you please give him a burger in a bun. Sorry about that but I’m always having to do this. He does get carried away”

Clegg approaches the great man. He is clutching a worn schoolboy autograph book.

“Can I have your autograph, please?”  He is barely managing to hold back the tears of joy.

” Of course, Clegg. Should I do it ‘to Nick’ ?” Clegg is so overcome, all that he can do is nod.

Cameron signs his name. “Now piss off and help with the washing up.”

Libyan Arms-for-Rebels Resolution.

 

 WOULD YOU BUY A GUN FROM THIS LADY?

 

There appears to be a debate as to whether or not UN Resolution 1973 gives the Coalition/NATO etc., currently bombing Libya, the permission to supply arms to Libyan rebels.

The simple answer is “No”.

Below is paragraph 13 from the currently-in-force  UN resolution 1973. This paragraph refers to UN Resolution 1970 (which is also still  in force).

13. Decides that paragraph 11 of resolution 1970 (2011) shall be replaced by the following paragraph : “Calls upon all Member States, in particular States of the region, acting nationally or through regional organisations or arrangements, in order to ensure strict implementation of the arms embargo established by paragraphs 9 and 10 of resolution 1970 (2011), to inspect in their territory, including seaports and airports, and on the high seas, vessels and aircraft bound to or from the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, if the State concerned has information that provides reasonable grounds to believe that the cargo contains items the supply, sale, transfer or export of which is prohibited by paragraphs 9 or 10 of resolution 1970 (2011) as modified by this resolution, including the provision of armed mercenary personnel, calls upon all flag States of such vessels and aircraft to cooperate with such inspections and authorises Member States to use all measures commensurate to the specific circumstances to carry out such inspections”

Please click on the link below. UN Resolution 1970 will  open in a separate window. Paragraph 9 is on Page 3.

UN Resolution 1970-Libya

This is Paragraph 9 of Resolution 1970:

Arms embargo

9. Decides that all Member States shall immediately take the necessary measures to prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer to the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, from or through their territories or by their nationals, or using their flag vessels or aircraft, of arms and related materiel of all types, including weapons and ammunition, military vehicles and equipment, paramilitary equipment, and spare parts for the aforementioned, and technical assistance, training, financial or other assistance, related to military activities or the provision, maintenance or use of any arms and related materiel, including the provision of armed mercenary personnel whether or not originating in their territories, and decides further that this measure shall not apply to: 

(a) Supplies of non-lethal military equipment intended solely for humanitarian or protective use, and related technical assistance or training, as approved in advance by the Committee established pursuant to paragraph 24 below  

(b) Protective clothing, including flak jackets and military helmets, temporarily exported to the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya by United Nations personnel, representatives of the media and humanitarian and development works and associated personnel, for their personal use only; or 

(c) Other sales or supply of arms and related materiel, or provision of assistance or personnel, as approved in advance by the Committee

There is NO ambiguity in the above Section 9.

If  UN Resolution 1973 needs to be “interpreted” or if there is any ambiguity, there should be a new resolution. If  the USA, United Kingdom and France wish to donate or sell arms to Libyan civilians, they should seek explicit permission .

There have been well-known instances of UN resolutions being “interpreted” by politicians.

The last time this happened, hundreds of thousands of civilians perished in Iraq.

Meanwhile,whether Obama, Cameron and the rest like it or not,  Libya continues to be the subject of an arms embargo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Halo effect.

 

I have dealt with politicians for many years and one of the first things that I learned was to distinguish between real ability and perceived ability. The Halo Effect.

Most politicians (except close chums of the PM) –  have to go through a selection and an election process. Once they are elected and become a Member of Parliament, nothing changes, except that they have a new job. Their abilities remain exactly where they were the day before the election but many seem to believe that they have become “canonised” and for some, “The Venerable” would fit far better than the pedestrian ” Hon member”.

So what is the Halo Effect? It is simply our mis-perception of someones abilities and traits, based on other abilities or traits. For instance, when you see a photo of a particularly attractive woman, you make a perceptual decision about her voice, her personality etc – all based on one small item of information.

We assume that tall people are more intelligent. We assume that someone wearing a Barbour and holding a Purdey shotgun will talk in a certain way and has a certain amount of money. We assume that if someone has one quality, we can load them with others.

If you have a child, you will understand that he or she assumes that dad or mum can do anything, from dressing a wound to mending Thomas the Tank Engine. To your child, you can do anything. Your halo is the biggest that it will ever be. To your baby, you are ALL halo!

In management and politics, many organisational mistakes are made – more so in politics because of the perceived attributes and skills of those who engage in politics. The motley mixture of ex-union men, solicitors, barristers and teachers who attend Westminster tend to play with a very narrow skill-set, yet in many cases, they imagine that have suddenly been blessed with the lot! 

In politics, because someone is eloquent, he or she can be imbued with an amazing array of skills. The sad fact is that important skills such as negotiating , organisational and management skills are NOT acquired through osmosis but have to be learned and trained.

I have met politicians who are embarrassed to be trained in ANYTHING because their ego and self-perceived status hold them back. That’s purely because of their belief in their own immortality and omnipotence. On too many occasions, they are promoted to fail  – and very often, they do. Hence the rather blunt instrument that is the Cabinet reshuffle.

If you think about it, the Cabinet Reshuffle is no more than a Prime Minister’s admission that he is not very good at recruitment and selection. I have often said to senior executives:  ” Either you promoted the wrong man, recruited the wrong man or have failed to manage him  properly. So whose fault is it that there has been a screw-up?”

When a Prime Minister promotes someone to a key job, he cannot do so purely on ability. Not-only have promises been made, advisers consulted, friendships cemented and length of service considered but there is also the question that president Johnson coined:

“Do I want him outside the tent  pissing-in, OR should I have him inside the tent, pissing out?” 

ACTUAL ability and the correct set of skills for the job is way-down a long list. Many boxes have to be ticked before something as mundane as “fit for purpose” is considered.

Which brings me neatly to William Hague. He is an excellent  speaker and as a result of making himself look a prat at the 1976 Conservative Party Conference, he became a “face”.

Now, 35 years later, all that he has behind him is a long political career without ever  having had the benefit of  having had to manage his way out of the sort of crisis that he was presented when British subjects needed to be repatriated from Libya.

But because he is a nice man, a good speaker and because of the title of Foreign Secretary,we assumed that he could complete the simple task of sending a plane to Tripoli without his boss having to apologise for what looks like a major screw-up and PR disaster. William is not ruthless enough to be a leader. He’s proved that once  already – and that includes leading the United Kingdom’s Foreign policy.

The “reciprocal” of the Halo Effect is the Reverse Halo Effect. Once someone screws-up one thing, we assume that everything else that he touches will be a disaster. That happened to Gordon Brown. 

Mind you, he was a History graduate, ex-University lecturer and was totally and utterly unsuitable for a management job. He would have been stressed to breaking point and this manifested itself in his total ability to make a decision. Once we found out what he was really like, his fate was sealed. Once he’d acquired the “indecisive” sobriquet, no amount of PR could help him. That’s the power of the Reverse Halo.

 Again, Brown was a thoroughly decent man but like Hague, not fit for purpose.

In the same way that Hague’s halo manifested itself during his 1976 speech, the Reverse Halo is now in place – then it’s down to nothing more than David Cameron’s humanity, loyalty,  patience and judgement.

Meanwhile, William has to be careful. Some of us haven’t forgotten the hat. Or the hair:

David Cameron’s Davos Speech 2011

 

 

This is the full text of David Cameron’s speech today  to the WEF in Davos:

It’s been four decades since you first invited European business leaders up this mountain and gave them a stark message modernise and adapt – or fall behind and fail.

Forty years on, here we are again. No one can deny what a difficult position Europe is in at the moment. Four years of annual growth have been wiped out. Unemployment has risen to the double digits.

Yes, recovery has begun. But while economies like India, Brazil and China are steaming ahead in Europe, the drag on growth has persisted.

Indeed, Europe’s share of world output is projected to fall by just under a third in the next two decades. And no one is immune.

This week, we had disappointing growth estimates back home. Yes, they were partly driven by the terrible weather which shut down airports, factories and schools – but let’s be frank.

They also brought home something we have said for months: given the traumas of recent years, the recovery was always going to be choppy.

So as we meet at Davos, the big questions are these:

How can we get our economies going?

How can we get Europe going?

How do we go for growth?

Now, there are some who say that slow-growth status for Europe is inevitable.

They are the pessimists – and this is their charter.

One – we in Europe are incapable of solving our debt and deficit problems.

Two – we’re unable to compete with dynamic economies because we’ll always be over-burdened with regulation and bureaucracy.

Three – we’re hardwired to be consumers and not producers.

And four – we’re attached to liberal values that are leaving us far behind the juggernaut of authoritarian capitalism.

Today, I want to make the case for optimism – for confidence in our future. We can overcome these problems but we do need a change of direction. Huge deficits don’t just fall out of the sky.

Complex rules which restrict labour markets are not some naturally occurring phenomenon.

Crushing regulation is not some external plague that’s been visited on our businesses.

All of these result from decisions we have taken – alone or together.

In many ways, we in Europe have been our own worst enemy.

But that also means the power is in us to change to make it easier for businesses to start up and prosper to open new markets – within Europe and between Europe and the rest of the world. And with so many of Europe’s leaders committed to open markets and reform, I’d argue there has never been a better time to do this.

In less than eight weeks we will announce our Budget for growth at home and I will also set out a specific plan for growth in Europe.

Today, I want to talk about the new direction Europe needs to take.

Our first priority is to kill off the spectre of massive sovereign debts.

Those who argue that dealing with our deficit and promoting growth are somehow alternatives are wrong.

You cannot put off the first in order to promote the second. Average government debt in the EU is almost eighty per cent of GDP.

Some countries are again borrowing five, six or seven per cent of GDP again this year.

The figure for the UK is more than ten per cent. This is clearly unsustainable and action cannot be put off.

Let’s put this in context.

Remember what we started with in the UK: an economy built on the worst deficit, the most leveraged banks, the most indebted households, the biggest housing boom and unsustainable levels of public spending and immigration.

And now think of where we need to go: an economy based not on consumption and debt but on savings and investment not on government spending but on entrepreneurial dynamism not on one industry in one corner of the country but on all our businesses in all our regions, with a new emphasis on manufacturing, exports and trade.

To get there isn’t easy. We can’t just flick on the switch of government spending or pump the bubble back up. Making this transformation – and it is a transformation – requires painstaking work and it takes time. It involves paying down billions of pounds of debt. New plants and factories need to be built. New products designed. New innovations taken to market. New businesses nurtured.

It’s going to be tough – but we must see it through. The scale of the task is immense, so we need to be bold in order to build this economy of the future. The British people know these things.

They understand there are no short-cuts to a better future. And already we’re making progress. Not long ago we were heading towards the danger zone where markets start to question your credibility.

Yet in the past eight months we’ve seen our credit rating – which was on the brink of being downgraded – affirmed at the triple A level.

We’ve seen market interest rates – which were in danger of spiralling – actually fall. All this has happened not in spite of our plan to cut the deficit, but because of it. That’s why we must stick to the course we have set out.

Allied to this fiscal discipline has got to be the reform and strengthening of Europe’s banks.

Last year’s round of stress tests didn’t go nearly far enough.

They said we were three and a half billion euros short – then six months down the line Irish banks alone needed ten times that.

This year’s tests have got to be tougher:

Stretching over a three-year period.

Covering liquidity as well as capital.

And involving independent bodies like the IMF.

But above all what we urgently need in Europe is an aggressive, pan-continental drive to unleash enterprise.

At home we have cut corporation tax, cut the small business rate, funded a new enterprise allowance and got a grip on regulation.

We’ve sent huge trade delegations to the fastest-growing economies all over the world, sending out the message that Britain is back open for business.

And in the essential work of sorting out the deficit, we have made the decision to prioritise growth.

So we’re making cuts to the welfare budget – which is hugely difficult so that we can fund big transport projects on our roads and railways.

We’re not cutting schools – indeed we’re boosting the number of apprenticeships – even though cuts elsewhere are deep.

And we’re striking the right balance between tax and spending, with spending cuts taking three quarters of the strain and tax rises a quarter.

Where we are raising taxes, it’s on what people spend – so that we don’t have to hike up taxes on jobs.

But this is not just about what we do in our domestic economies. We need boldness in Europe too, not least on deregulation.

I’ve had conversations with many European leaders about this – including Prime Ministers Fillon and Rutte -and we’re agreed we just cannot afford to load more costs on to business.

And I believe there are clear things we can and should do:

Bring in a one-in, one-out rule for new European regulations.

Set a new and tougher target to actually reduce the total regulatory burden over the life of this Commission.

And give small businesses – engines of job creation – an exemption from big new regulations.

Taking them out of EU accounting rules alone would save them around 2 billion euros. Now is the time to go for a genuine single market too.

Nearly twenty years since Europe agreed to the free movement of people and services we’ve still got companies employing teams of lawyers just so they can trade across the nearest border.

Jacques Delors once said that nobody can fall in love with the single market – and frankly, no one ever will if we carry on like this. Let’s look at how we can put an end to all those restrictive rules – who can hold shares in which companies, where businesses can set up and how many people they can employ and most importantly, let’s deliver on this with a tough, transparent approach to enforcing the single market.

Fail here and we’ll fall behind.

Succeed – and we could add up to 180 billion euros to Europe’s economy.

Of course our biggest ambitions have got to be for innovation.

I don’t believe for one moment we need to be downbeat about this in Europe.

It was British scientists who unravelled the genome who helped design the i-pod who invented the world wide web.

Where is the world’s capital for high quality industrial design? Not the US, not Asia – Europe.

We’ve got the raw material of good ideas – let’s get better at exploiting them. Access to finance is crucial.

For every euro invested in venture capital in Europe, more than seven times that is invested in the US. We need to do more to incentivise the same kind of risk-taking investment culture over here.

Back home we’ve introduced a patent box offering a ten per cent tax rate on patent income. But action like this will be worth little if we can’t break the deadlock on a Europe-wide patent system.

Do you know how long we’ve been discussing this? Almost forty years.

 

The truth is we can talk all we like about making this continent the capital for innovation but while it can cost up to thirty five thousand euros to get patents in just thirteen member states, it’s never going to happen.

The possibility of progress is there – we’ve just got to seize it.

So we can develop even more of the goods and services the world wants to buy. And that’s precisely why we in Europe shouldn’t be cautious about trade – we should be actively, aggressively pushing for it.

I know every speaker at events like this talks about concluding Doha as a matter of urgency – and I agree.

But we all need to be equally clear about how it’s going to happen not with more warm words but with more on the table from all sides. A little more on cotton and safeguards in agriculture. A little more on industrial goods, especially from emerging markets.

More from all sides on services – where the gains are huge. No more stubbornness. No more hiding offers in back pockets.

2011 is the make or break year. And there are other things we must do at the same time.

Last year we signed a Free Trade Agreement with South Korea worth up to thirty three billion euros to EU exporters. We can and we must do the same with India, Canada, Latin America, the Middle East, the ASEAN block.

We have the goods the world wants to buy – now let’s have the confidence to strike those deals and sell them.

There’s one final thing we in Europe need to have more confidence about – and that is our values. The value of liberal democracy used to be sacred in the West.

Now some people are doubting it. They’ve seen authoritarian capitalism and the way it works.

They see political leaders with the powers of juggernauts, forcing decisions through and they argue that against this, our liberal democratic values look outdated, ineffective – even an obstacle to success.

I passionately disagree. It’s these values that create the climate for innovation. Look at where the big ideas come from – the facebooks and the Spotifys – and the vast majority are from open societies.

That’s because good ideas come through freedom – free thinking and the free association of like-minded people. Our values create the right climate for business too.

If you’re looking to set up a headquarters abroad, are you going to invest where your premises can be taken away from you?

Where contracts are routinely dishonoured?

Where there’s the threat of political upheaval?

Or are you going to invest where there are property rights, the rule of law, democratic accountability?

These values aren’t some quaint constitutional add-on they are an integral and irreducible part of our success today and tomorrow – and all of us must always remember that.

So my message today is one of confidence.

We are an open, trading continent.

We have a proud record of invention.

We’ve got advanced democratic values.

But yes, we’ve got to recognise that Europe has got to earn its way.

The world doesn’t owe us a living.

So let’s make the choice to do things differently, to fight for our prosperity. If we set our sights high if we take bold decisions in deregulation, on opening up the single market, on innovation and on trade then together we can defy the pessimists and together, recover our dynamism.

25 Predictions for 2011

The predictions for 2011 are in no particular order and are a mixture of both British and world events. For the last two years, governments all over the  world have been doing no more that playing a wait-and-hope game;  the political equivalent of whistling in the dark.

Here in the UK, the Coalition government has introduced its so-called “austerity measures”. The rhetoric may well be very impressive  to the IMF or the European Bank but what is really happening is that the day-of-reckoning is being postponed by being nudged along by successive disjointed government policies. Everyone is confused.

For instance, in spite of the very negative economic prognosis for the coming year, Stock Markets have been climbing. That  demonstrates is that there has been a final dislocation between economies and  world markets. Stock markets have become no more than a large sandpit in which speculators and bankers play their money games and continue to throw sand not-only in each others eyes but  have also somehow managed to blind whole governments.

Bankers have progressed from custodians  and redistributors of money to self-important untouchable deities who are feared by all.

The most bizarre aspect of Global Economics is the inconsistency with which politicians address  it. 

The blame for the collapse (yes!) of  Western economies is often ascribed to a “downturn in the world economy”. However, governments continue to tinker with their own economies without considering any global impact of their policies. In reality, there is no Global Economy. It is a nonsense phrase.  All that we really have is a large number of  increasingly interdependent local economies. It is a jigsaw of economies, the pieces of which can never fit together properly.  The only solution will be a world currency (that would stop the speculators!) and a real globally conceived, calculated and controlled economy. 

So what is holding us back? That’s an easy one – politics and man’s natural parochially tribal nature.

One of the most ignored aspects of modern economics has been the rise of the bureaucrat. In that group, I include not-only large slices of the public sector  but all non-productive professions such as accountancy, the legal profession, consultancy and those who “analyse”. They do not produce anything new or tradable and  there are too many of them. Large slices of the banking profession also fall into that group.

These groups are a massive a drain on an economy. They do not add value – on the contrary, they take. These “professions” are all due for rationalisation because their only contribution is to take and redistribute money which has been  earned by others.

It is highly probable that 2011 may be remembered as the year when the waiting and procrastination had to stop so here are the predictions:

1. The era of BIG Government is dying and all governments will be forced to cut public expenditure.

2. This will be a year of strikes, general public unrest and riots. Students and pensioners will stand together.

3. The Euro will finally stop twitching and die. Germany has already realised that it can no longer remain in the Eurozone when it it surrounded by so many lame-duck economies.

4. Most western countries will experience cuts in police, the fire service and rubbish collection. Paradoxically, times of austerity produce more crime and a substantial increase in the incidence of insurance-inspired fires.

5. China is beginning to experience inflation. This will result in an upward revaluation of the Yuan – which effectively will be a devaluation of the dollar.

6. Banks will be punished for holding too much cash and  for continuing to withhold funds from commerce and industry.

7. There will be a downward correction in world stock-markets. That is very likely to happen very early in the year.

8.  Gold and Silver prices will decrease early in 2011 but rally massively during the rest of the year.

9.  Commodity prices ( wheat, soyabeans etc) will rise very substantially during the year.

10. Oil will cross the $100 per barrel barrier.

11. In the United Kingdom, the Coalition government will collapse and there will be a general election in October 2011.

12. Nick Clegg will be challenged for the leadership of the Liberal Party and  is likely to “cross the floor”.

13.  The Labour anti-Ed Miliband movement will become more and more vocal as the year progresses and  as Labour realises that they elected the wrong man.

14. After the next government reshuffle, Vince Cable will become Minister-without-Portfolio and will quietly be put out to grass.

15. The concept of Man-Made Global Warming will be further eroded as a scientific theory.

16. We are overdue a nuclear or chemical accident. Look out for one in either China or India.

17. An earthquake in California is also overdue.

18. There has been some tittle-tattle about the state of the Beckhams’ marriage. Do not be surprised if there is a sudden announcement of an impending divorce.

19. As a result of fewer students, public sector redundancies and over-optimistic projections in the manufacturing industries, UK unemployment will officially breach the 3 million barrier.

20. The 279 Council elections in May 2011 will signal the beginning of the end of the Liberal Party. They are already an endangered species and will now  progress to near-extinction.

21. The referendum on the alternative vote will see the “first past the post” system retained. That will signal a long-overdue questioning of the Liberal leadership.

22. There will be an anti Coalition revolt with Labour and the Conservative right-wing standing shoulder-to-shoulder with disaffected Liberals.

23. The January visit to the United States by Chinese President Hu Jintao will not produce a cosy new relationship between the two superpowers. On the contrary, the visit may well produce  “sabre-rattling”  for the rest of the year.

24. Israel will carry-out a pre-emptive strike on Iran – as a result of the latter’s nuclear programme. Needless to say, the United States will wade-in with all guns blazing.

25. Sudan will implode. That will produce an ethnically-driven Yugoslavia-like civil war. Needless to say, the United States will wade in with all guns blazing -only this time they will be wearing United Nations hats.

The most difficult and surreal world political question – and potentially, the most explosive (literally) is whether the American nation has the appetite to elect Sarah Palin as the next President of the United States. Because, as sure as eggs is eggs, she will be a candidate. That all depends on how far to the right America is willing to lurch as a result of the inevitable failure of Obamanomics.

FIFA princely cock-up

A couple of years ago I was asked to represent a Bermuda-based bank. They wanted my company to increase their exposure in EMEA (Europe Middle East and Africa). The idea was that I would design an all-singing, all-dancing presentation/pitch and deliver it to various organisations on their behalf. During a meeting with their Board, they asked whether I would mind (for the purposes of this presentation) acting as if I was a member of their senior team rather than as a consultancy. I agreed and they asked me whether a corporate title would help. Eventually, we agreed on Business Development Director and they even printed a few hundred business cards with my name a title on them.

I contrasted this with a similar scenario which presented itself here in the United Kingdom. A relatively small company asked me to help them to break into new markets.There were also specific clients which they had tried to attract but which they had been unable to “hook”.  The owner of the business and I agreed that the sales pitch which I had arranged with a major company would be led by me and that he and two of his senior staff would also attend the pitch but more as corporate “ballast”. Once again, we agreed that I would present as his company’s “pretend” Sales Director.

A couple of days later, slides, handouts plus the script had been completed and I was ready to go.  Then the phone rang with a rather frantic company owner on the line. ” You can’t call yourself “Sales Director” because, according to my advisor, there are legal implications. You’ll have to think of another title or present as Chief Executive of your own company.”

That is the British attitude. Not positive motivation but “fear” motivation.

The owner of the British company was being advised by an accountant who used to be a bank manager and  a small-business specialist. Rules, legislation and regulations were more important than pulling-in business. The British Way.

He was also one of those people who believed that anything to do with “sales” , by definition, was dodgy. He also felt that he should be involved because he had all the figures at his fingertips. An accountant-bank manager attempting a sales pitch! THE nightmare scenario.

The company owner has still not realised that his “adviser” will do everything to ensure that his company remains small, otherwise the adviser will be out of a job and if the company did become big, he would be stranded well above his personal level of incompetence.

I politely told them that they should perhaps consider making the presentation without me and handed-over all the marketing material that we’d prepared.

To cut a long story short – they blew it and will carry-on blowing it until they rethink their attitude to business.

The banker/accountant  had advised the company owner that if he agreed to me using the title “Director”, I might be able to lay some sort of monetary claim against his business and that it was “dishonest” to allow me to call myself something that I wasn’t.(The fact that the title “Sales Director” effectively demoted me did not occur to him). Ugly self-interest, an accountant’s caution and total lack of business “nouse” had blown a potential £30 million deal.

Here in the UK we are afraid of success and waste too much time considering what could go wrong, not what could go right and we have too many advisers. I have a relative who always did everything that his accountant told him not to do. He retired at the age of 40 with £7 million cash in the bank.

We “make do” and instead of getting something 90% right and launching it, we wait until it is 100% right, by which time we’ve missed the bus because someone else has not-only launched but stolen all the clients.

The company owner and his accountant above had gone into their presentation without the proper preparation and screwed-up the whole thing and  forgot the most important thing – again very British. They forgot to ask for the business! Their pitch was amateurish because instead or preparing , they “made-do”. They thought that they could muddle through.

The Brits have a Heath-Robinson attitude in a Heath-Robinson society. We muddle through and invoke what is laughably called the “Dunkirk spirit”.

Currently, the country is languishing under a blanket of snow and inevitably, the media are hunting for human-interest stories. Stories abut how we are managing and once again “making do” because that is what makes the nation happy.

Roads, airports and railways are struggling because they “made do” in their preparation.

Our FIFA bid for the 2018 World Cup relied on the oratory of Beckham – for Christ’s sake! We made-do once again because  we did not realise that the FIFA decision had been made months ago!

Our media likes to expose bribery scandals which upset our delicate British sensibilities  so here’s another lesson:

I used to be a director of a company called American Marine and we used to carry out expensive refits on yachts in the Med. To everyone’s surprise, we managed to secure most of the business – from Nice, Antibes and Cannes to anywhere you care to mention on the Italian Med coast. How did we do it?

We would ask the skippers of any yachts which were tendering-out refit business to let us know what the highest quote that they had received was. Once we had the information, we made sure that our own figures well substantially above the highest other quote. Why did we do that?

Because we knew that the skipper of the yacht would demand 10% of the quote (in cash) as commission. Needless to say, we would always make sure that there was an additional amount paid over to him as well.

The  higher the quote, the higher the skipper’s commission – except when the skipper was also the owner!

If I sold a yacht to an Arab Prince, I knew that his “advisor” would need  a commission. That consisted of a handshake and an envelope full of cash before any deal was signed. Because of our British hard-wired gene-level suspicious nature, we in Britain believe that all Arabs are crooks. I have always found them to be extremely honourable. The real bandits are the suited ones in Europe who shake your hand and congratulate you on a wonderful presentation.

When I was Head of Broker Division at Citibank, I would talk to brokers and offer them ridiculous amounts of commission in return for them placing their clients’ money with us. I could erode a profit margin like no-one else! However, I made sure that there was still a profit and with the volumes that my over-generosity (bribes) generated, I was not given as much trouble by my CEO as I probably deserved.

So, we should stop trying to “make do” and always play fair and derive satisfaction from the belief that although we don’t win, at least we lost honourably.

As far as the FIFA bid for the 2018 World Cup is concerned, we should have done what most other countries would have done. We should have approached each committee member and asked him what we needed to do to be able to secure his vote. The answer would have been simple – money.

What did we do? We sent an ex-England footballer, a new Prime Minister that no-one outside London is particularly aware of and a grandson of our Queen!

So, the Queen couldn’t be bothered to turn up, the heir to the throne couldn’t be bothered, so we sent the grandson. OK, (on paper) he’s nominal President of the FA but he has never actually either played football or been interested in it – and they know it. You cannot fake passion about your product – unless you are a pro. William is a rank amateur.

We sent William because we are in love with our Royal family and imagine that everyone else is. They don’t care about our Royals any more than we care about the Dutch or Scandinavian ones.

David Beckham is a fine-looking young man but in spite of voice-coaching and presentation-training, he is not a presenter. This was a sales pitch which impressed no-one but fellow Brits.

David “Hey look at me I can talk wthout notes” Cameron’s spiel impressed the British media but it was not a sales pitch – it was politico-bullshit.  He spoke without notes (wow). That may impress fat Tory ladies on a Conference front row  but is not for the jaded palettes of Sepp Blatter and the rest of the football Illuminati. What they saw in Cameron’s noteless “trick” was not an impressive orator but a young Prime Minister who could not be arsed to prepare properly.

Boris Johnson would have made a better fist of the whole thing. Where was he? Either in the audience or munching canapes at a reception.

The FIFA bandits did not want to be entertained by Cameron, Wills and Becks (The Three Amigos). They wanted bucks transferred to their nominee companies in Liechtenstein. What did we do? We entertained them and were happy to be told how well our presentation was received.

We were suckered.

Now it transpires that we managed TWO votes out of twenty-two and one of those was the British vote.

I shall repeat that the decision was not dependant on the presentation. As Sun Tzu said over 2500 years ago “Every battle is won before it is even fought.” When you go in to pitch for any sort of business, it should already be in your pocket. The presentation is the Coda not the Exposition.

By the time Cameron, Beckham and William had entertained the FIFA committe, they were nothing more the “post-deal” cabaret. The battle had already been fought and won. It is unbelievable that they actually believed that such a major decision was going to be based on three amateurish performances by a footballer, a politician and a prince. They had missed the battle.

We “made do” and once again emerged as the gallant losers.

They say that a silver medal merely indicates the first of the losers. We weren’t really even among the losers so we must never ever again send amateurs to do a professional’s job.

Let the recriminations begin. (By the way, it was not the fault of the media).

www.retraining.info

 

Class of ’87 Bullers squabbling

 

“No-one left to vote for”

Boris Johnson speaks from the heart and in spite of the fact that he has been ordered to say that his comments about “Kosovo-style social cleansing” were taken out of context – they were NOT.

I stood as a Conservative when everyone was voting Labour, I have trained people at both Conservative Central Office (as was) and that dreadful All Saints Centre near St Albans where the Conservatives used to deliver a lot of their internal training BUT I am afraid that on this occasion, I have to say that Dave and George have got it badly wrong.

While Dave is in Europe, spraying testosterone, Boris is speaking the truth and reflecting the views of not-only poor people but those politicians who have retained a modicum of social conscience.

DC and his Cabinet chums seem to think that everyone who is claiming benefits is on the fiddle. Not so – any more that every toff who speaks as if he has two hairs up his ass tied together is a moneyed, inbred twat.

There’s no point in Clegg and his new-dyed hair going-off on one because a Labour politician has said something that we’re all thinking. Clegg’s head (and hair) have been turned by power and its trappings, so current Liberal views are irrelevant because they are a compromise delivered by the compromised.

Social engineering via the tax system and the withdrawal of  social benefits will not work because it will NOT be allowed to work. 

Social cleansing is unacceptable.

Boris – very soon you should make your move and help to remove these yaboo jokers from office.

They are using the sorry state of the nation’s finances (” We have no choice”) as an excuse to bully the weak. We must not allow it to happen. Conservatism with a shrinking  social conscience is the first goose-step to fascism.

What’s next?  What will be the Final Solution? What are the Tuck Shop Boys planning?

The old and the handicapped are SUCH a drain on the economy, aren’t they. Perhaps we should put a Berlin-style wall around Brixton?

The strutting and preening pseudo-aristos currently running the shop will be stopped so let’s hope that the Liberals soon wake up from their Brave New World’s Soma-holiday and more people like Boris come forward to pick up the pieces.

Osborne hacked giving phone!

“Pater?”

There has been some negative publicity for Google and the fact that while they were zooming around the country, photographing, they somehow managed to hack into our unprotected routers and glean personal information from our PCs. A few weeks before, we had the scandal of reporters hacking into mobile phone signals and snooping on private phonecalls made by celebrities and politicians. Here is the transcript of one such conversation:

George: Hello, is that you pater?

Sir Peter: Who is this?

George: It’s George. ….Your son

Sir Peter: Oh, is that you Gideon? How are you?

George: Pater – Please don’t call me that. You know that I prefer “George”.

Sir Peter: OK GEORGE. What can I do for you. What about ” Gidders”. Your chums used to call you that. “George ” sounds a bit common these days.

George: “George” is fine. Funny you should mention that because that’s what I want to ask you about. I can’t ask anyone at the office because they’d laugh at me.

Sir Peter: Well….erm… George….If… it’s about the birds and the bees – I thought that we had that conversation when you were 26.

George: No, Pater. It’s about the working classes.

Sir Peter: What about the working classes.

George: Have I ever actually met one?

Sir Peter: Have you ever met what?

George: A working class? I think that I’d recognise one if I saw one but I’m not quite sure what one is. What exactly is it? Is it a person? For instance is it to do with being poor? Is everyone who earns less than £100,000 a year “working class”? Do they wear caps and suffer from consumption? Where do they gather?

Sir Peter: Forgot to ask you George – what are you up to these days? Still writing jokes for that northern bloke who wrestles with Sebastian Coe? Now what was his name? William? William Bushmill?

George: Hague! It was William Hague!

Sir Peter: I knew it was some sort of whiskey. Hague. That’s right. Wasn’t he Leader?

George: Pater! I’m the Chancellor of the Exchequer!

Sir Peter: (LAUGHTER) Chancellor of the  (SNORT) what? Did you say Exchequer? Do you mean Ken Clarke’s old job. What’s Ken up to these days? He’s a right laugh. He’s working class but he’s managed to do such a good accent that we almost treat him like one of our own. Anyway – what do you mean Chancellor? You did History at university, didn’t you? What is it about history graduates and the Chancellor’s job. You were never good with numbers. Wasn’t that Commie Gordon Brown another History boy?

George: David asked me to do it, so I’m having a go. Didn’t you see me on the television? I wore my best suit and when I finished my speech, Dave and the rest of them patted me on the back and then we went for some fizz cocktails. It was brill!

Sir Peter: That was you, was it? Your hair looked so black. Have you been colouring it Gideon? You naughty boy!

George: It’s George. Fucking GEORGE!

Sir Peter: Calm down, Gideon. What would your mother say if she heard your potty-mouth. You sound SO working class.

George: Working class? Do you really think so? That’s cool.

Sir Peter: What is cool? What’s that mean? Have you been at the Colombian nose powder again. You promised ………Gideon?

George: For fuck’s sake, pater. I’m Chancellor of the fucking Exchequer. I’m an important politician……There’s a big Jag that goes with the job!

Sir Peter: Do you still keep in touch with those Buller Boys? Such a nice crowd. Still having a good time with that nice Nat? Always liked him.

George: Pater…That fucking Rothschild wanker tried to drop me in the shit by grassing me up about a visit to a yacht and trying to bum £50k off his Russian employer. He’s supposed to be an adviser to the Russian but I reckon he’s no more than his fund- bitch. A hedge whore!

Sir Peter: Gideon! I’m afraid that I didn’t understand a word of that. You are definitely sounding common.

George: Really? Thanks, Pater. Our GDP growth is up. 0.8% up.  We’re having a party later but Dave says that we must be careful in case we’re spotted by poor people. Those working classes.

Sir Peter:  GDP? What’s that?

George: Not quite sure, Pater – but I have lots of advisers. Some of them know.

Sir Peter: Why is 0.8% a good thing? It sounds pretty crap to me. 0.8% in a month is only 9.6 per year…..I read that the Chinese managed that is the quarter between July and September

George: Between you and me…it IS crap. But we put the word out that it was going to be much worse and the surprise is keeping everyone happy. Even those zombie  economists. By the way, the 0.8% wasn’t for the month. It was for the quarter between July and September. The same quarter during which the Chinks managed 9.6%. Really crap but we’re getting fed up with blaming those Labour tossers so were making it look as if we did it! The most exciting bit is that Standard and Poors have increased Britain’s credit rating. Reeesult!

Sir Peter: Standard and Poors? Isn’t that a bisquit? Gideon – why don’t you come back and help us with the wallpaper. For the moment we’re doing really well. As you are Chancellor – can we put “By Appointment to the Chancellor” on our van?

George: No pater, you cannot!  I have to go now. The First Secretary to the Treasury is being beaten up again. He gets beaten up more times than an adopted cross-eyed ginger kid. I don’t think you’ve met him. We call him “Beaker”. You know, Beaker from the Muppet Show.

Sir Peter: I really have no idea what you are talking about. You are such a disappointment to your mother. Osborne and Little  is so well-known and yet you go off to Westminster and become Chancellor of the Exchequer when there’s a REAL job waiting for you. Right here.

George: Have to go now, pater. My chauffeur has just turned up and is taking me for a ride.

Sir Peter: You have a chauffeur? Still drinking, eh? You asked about working class. A chauffeur is working class. Talk to him.

George: He’s not working class. He’s quite clever and used to be an existentialist.

Sir Peter: An existentialist chauffeur? How do you work that out? What made him an existentialist?

George: He used to sleep on his sister’s kitchen floor with his  gay boyfriend and claimed Jobseekers Allowance. He helped me with the Spending Review.

Sir Peter: Still mixing with a bad crowd I see, Gideon.

George: There’s nothing wrong with the Bilderbergers. Even Ken Clarke  goes to the meetings. It’s just like Round Table but without the Estate Agents and Dentists.

Sir Peter: I have to go now, Gideon. Your mother needs to go to Homebase. We’ve run out of wallpaper paste and I still have no idea what you’re talking about.

George: Bye pater and love to mummy.

Sir Peter: Goodbye Gideon. Please pass on our good wishes to that Derek Cameron and his friend Sam.

The Broad Sunny Badlands

“Do you know what THIS means in Italy?”

 

Since the Chancellor’s spending statement you may have noticed that we are being fed the occasional snippet of information which was not mentioned in the original speech.

For instance, the government is in severe danger of damaging its hard-won “green” credentials by allowing DEFRA to sell-off half of the land currently looked after by the Forestry Commission. Publicly-owned forests may soon be turned into golf courses, holiday villages and other little-needed leisure facilities. They are planning the sell-off for two reasons. The first is the obvious one – to raise cash and the second is the over-simplistic belief that such a move will create jobs.

As usual, the government is planning a sell- off when prices are at a historic low. Margaret Thatcher did it with our oil, Gordon Brown sold our gold to the Chinese after he had driven the price down and now, the obscenity that is the coalition is about to dispose of our heritage – some of which protected by laws enacted in the Magna Carta.

Zac Goldsmith MP headed David Cameron’s environment task-force says that he is in favour of Forestry Commission land being disposed of.   Not-only content with vandalising our economy, this government appears to be readying itself to destroy our green belt. In twenty years’ time, are we going to enjoy driving through the New Forest ” housing and golf” estate or the Forest of Dean  caravan comple? Perhaps we should hand the lot over to Centre Parks and be done with it.

The clowns in government are once again demonstrating attempts at politico-entrepreneurship bycreating economic havoc and in the long run,  costing the nation a fortune.

The government is once again meddling in things that it does not understand and by playing at business, it is surely beating the economy into the ground just as effectively as Labour managed to do from the nineties onwards.

It was announced today that not-only  is confidence at an all-time low within the public sector but also in the private-sector.  When private sector confidence takes a bashing, it tends to suggest that those in charge are not in a bullish frame of mind and are waiting. Currently none of us is sure what anyone is waiting for but this week there will probably be announcements that we are about to be visited by what we have all been expecting – another hard-earned dose of recession. The famous “Double-dip” – but that is still no excuse for flogging-off the country’s assets.

Any State which is thinking of selling assets is no different to  the strapped-for-cash individual who convinces himself that he doesn’t really need his TV or computer and sells it on ebay. OK, he then has money in his hand but he spends it and…….? It’s back to square one. He can continue to dispose of assets until he has none left. Then what?

A report published today says that the average UK  household-debt is approaching £9000 – and that excludes mortgages. At the end of August , the total UK personal debt stood at £1,457 billion.

Between us, we owe more than the whole country produces in a year but what is most surprising is that personal debt in the UK is still  on the increase. Sadly, some people are now  borrowing in order to eat and to keep a roof over their heads. This is the atmosphere in which our coalition government seems to believe that business is about to expand and thus create jobs  which will offset those lost as a result of their decimation of the public service industry.

They appear to believe that Government rhetoric is all that is needed to convince us all that they have the formula for a miraculous economic recovery. Meanwhile, the Office for Budgetary Responsibility put the chances of the government’s strategies working at no more than 60%.

George Osborne is about to announce a £200 million investment is many government’s favourite word – TECHNOLOGY. Oooooh! Harold Wilson used the technology scam first and since then, whenever a government is in trouble, they roll-out the T-word. There will be Innovation Centres which will help “connect business to new technologies“. George, dear, we already have Innovation Centres and they are populated by ex- bankers who dispense advice to “budding entrepreneurs” on how to find their way around a balance sheet and how to prostrate themselves when they visit their own bank to beg for development capital.

Talk to real entrepreneurs and we will tell you that rather than waste another £200 million, the government should use that money to repay a day’s interest on the national debt and not attempt to recreate what are in essence talking shops and luncheon clubs.

The Chancellor talks of a “New Economic Dynamism”. Nice phrase, well constructed but without a coherent plan, there will be no New Economic Dynamism. Economic recoveries are notoriously fickle mistresses and are  certainly not to be relied-on to happen just at the time when you wish that they would.

It’s no good looking at the Germans and the incredibly fast upturn in their economy.  They are still  the world’s top mechanical engineers – that’s why, for instance they are China’s main supplier of industrial machinery.

In February 2009, Gordon Brown said that Britain’s recovery from recession can be helped by doubling  exports to China. George Osborne said the same thing three months ago.  The only problem is – what can we export  that the Chinese want? Call Centres?

That’s an important question because there is no point in producing goods without there being a demand. Currently, every economy in the world is looking at China as its next main market – as China moves from being a pure producer to major producer-consumer .

In his  address to the CBI this morning David Cameron managed to avoid the “broad, sunny uplands of economic recovery” phrase – but the might as well have used it – because that was his overall message.

If that is what is in his mind, he ought to beware. Winston Churchill took the United Kingdom through its darkest hour and look what happened to him.

He lost the 1945 General Election.

Mind you, it was different then.

He had been at the head of a dodgy coalition government.

Here are some statistics: CLICK HERE

I feel like a right banker.

 

Public sector employees, the unemployed, those on benefits and students did not cause this country’s economic woes. They were the fault of incompetent  politicians and  insatiable bankers.

So who is now going to bear the burden, as the Chancellor attempts to dig us all out of a hole by….well….digging.

In spite of the Government’s protestations, it will be the poor who suffer the most. The poor were put on this earth to hurt and in the past, it has  always been the most disadvantaged who were made to feel the real pain. Today is no different.

Good Conservatism is a very straightforward concept. It is about giving the individual and family the means to provide for themselves and at the same time making sure that society’s most disadvantaged are looked after. Good conservatism is fair and compassionate.

The present mutation of a government is anything but compassionate – on the contrary, it appears to be revelling in the dreadful measures which are about to place a stranglehold around the taxpayers’ collective neck. 

There is a “faux” triumphalist air and false bravado, as a young and inexperienced Chancellor continues to exhibit the youthful arrogance of someone who believes that he is right and all dissenting voices are wrong. This is beginning to look suspiciously like the beginnings of a totalitarian state. The Prime Minister said that politicians should learn that they “serve”  and do not rule the people.  Once again – empty soundbites.  

Remember the Nanny State? That was the main criticism of the last Labour Government. Somewhere between last May and now, the Labour  Nanny appears to have morphed into a strict Conservative Governess  –  a Miss Whiplash. It seems that we have a Miss Whiplash State. Do as you’re told.

The government has also made a point of saying that it welcomed “independent” assessments of its work. Transparency and all that. Well, the Institute for Fiscal Studies has said that the Chancellor’s Spending Review is NOT fair and that on “every measure” the poorest households will be worse-off.  They will be the ones bailing out the banks.

Let’s get one thing straight about the banks. They do NOT make anything. They are a service industry and their primary function is to move and redistribute money. That is all that they do. They are very good at “creating” profits out of what is effectively thin air and every now and again, they will be exposed because their sums can never add up. Creating more money on paper than exists in an economy is not a difficult accounting exercise but it is of course, a con trick.

Go into any bank and add up all of the money that their clients have on paper and then ask to see it. You will be told that the money is not there because it is “invested” in property, shares, gilts etc. Another con. Go to the funds and ask to see the money and you will be told that it is held by the banks. What about property? That sounds like a good solid investment.

In 2005 RBS moved into new premises which cost £350 million. No doubt that over the last few years, this head office has been revalued to increase its book price in line with inflation but think about this: An asset is worth only what you can sell it for. How many people do you know who need a £350 million head office? So how much is that building really worth? Nothing. Another con.

There was a time when banks could (and did)  operate on the margin between what they paid their investors and what they charged their borrowers. Their cost base is now so high that they are forced to gamble in a vain attempt to make the books balance. The money which they ran out of in 2008 was their clients’ money as well as a very large slice of “smoke and mirrors” fictitious money which never really existed and was used to con governments into very rash handouts.

The Chancellor’s new Bank Levy  (which, unlike us,the banks were briefed about a couple of months ago) will raise about £2.5 billion a year from 2012. The levy will apply to the global balance sheets of UK banks and the UK operations of overseas banks.

The Treasury said that the legislation will encourage banks to take fewer funding risks. That is arrant nonsense. How the Treasury makes the mental leap from  Bank Levy to having created some sort of deterrent which will encourage the banks to be more prudent in their investment strategy in anyone’s guess. It is a con.

There is only one way to encourage the banks to fall into line and that is by legislation which limits their ability to invest  in commodities, shares and derivatives and which requires them to invest a set proportion of their investments in the comparative safety of government gilts.

Meanwhile, the banks are already moaning that any additional tax burden placed on them may undermine the attractiveness of the United Kingdom as a financial centre. Another con. £2.5 billion is such a comparatively minuscule amount  that it will be totally unnoticeable to the banking industry – especially as the government will soon be handing them yet more money through the medium of Quantitative Easing

 Mark Hoban is  financial secretary to the Treasury and said that he HOPED  that the legislation would. “Firstly, ensure that banks make a fair contribution in respect of the potential risks they pose to the UK financial system and wider economy.”  A con. The 1.5 million  children who lose their Child Benefit will contribute almost exactly the same amount as the banks.

 Mr Hoban continued:“Secondly, the final scheme design incentivises banks to make greater use of more stable financial sources, such as long term debt and equity.”  The bank levy will have no effect at all in steering the banks to more responsible investment operations. Why should it?

The British Bankers’ Association, which is the bankers’ attack dog, has  warned that  the levy would have an “significant impact” on  more than 200 overseas banks operating here. Their main argument appeared to be that some overseas banks who would be asked to contribute may be taxed several times in different jurisdictions. Tough.

The banks have already spent several years  avoiding their  tax obligations by offsetting losses during the financial crisis against their current and future tax bills. The banks made losses, offset those losses against their corporation tax, then were bailed out by the taxpayer to the tune of trillions of pounds. They will continue to use those losses to their advantage for many years to come.

Effectively, the banks  are  profiting from their  losses  by withholding tax revenue. The amount? Banks may avoid £19 billion tax in future years by offsetting profits against  losses sustained during the financial crisis.

Chancellor George Osborne said that he wanted “to extract the maximum sustainable tax revenues from financial services”.

“We neither want to let banks off making their fair contribution, nor do we want to drive them abroad,” “Many hundreds of thousands of jobs across the whole United Kingdom depend on Britain being a competitive place for financial services.”.  Those are the words of a Chancellor running scared before the banking industry and who is willing to distress vast swathes of the British population rather than even fluster one banker.

Mr Osborne also made it clear that he expected the major banks to sign a new code of practice on tax avoidance.

So far only four of the 4 out of 15 leading banks operating in the UK have signed up but the Chancellor says he wants all of them to do so by the end of November. Again a measure of the disdain in which politicians are held  by bankers. George may have to beg the banks to sign the code of practice but no doubt there will be a price to pay. Let’s hope that he can disguise the carpet burns on his knees.

Britain’s government still owns large stakes in Lloyds and RBS , which together with Barclays and HSBC dominate the country’s banking landscape. That means that the government has lots of “clout” within the banking industry but is still afraid to use it. The government has been comprehensively out-negotiated and out-maneuvered by the banking fat-cats.

The government bailed out the banks with £200 billion of taxpayers’ money. That added to the deficit  which means that once again, it is the taxpayers’ money which  is required for a bail out – only this time, we’re bailing-out the government itself. Then the government will once again bail-out the banks etc etc.

PLUS, while they’re awaiting the next handout, the banks remain custodians of our money and as a bonus, are allowed to rip us off on charges. To add insult to injury,  they are making it near-impossible for the small businessman to borrow development capital – except at eye-watering interest rates which  are designed to ensure that although funds “are available”, no-one can afford them.

Fair? Fairness has nothing to do with it.

Strategic Defence Review 2010

SOON-TO-BE NOSTALGIA: The Ark Royal with Harriers


Today we have been treated to yet another “on the hoof” bit of Coalition Government policy. David Cameron is lucky. We are all so stunned at the sheer speed of change, that there’s hardly time to absorb one “slash” when another “burn” is thrown at us.

It looks suspiciously as if someone wrote policies before the last General Election – without having seen the books. Is this all a triumph of policy over pragmatism? Why the hurry? Where are the consultations? Does this leave our backsides exposed? Are we handing Defence of the Realm to the United Nations?

This is the full text of the Strategic Defence Review delivered by David Cameron a few hours ago: CLICK HERE

You’ll need a pdf Reader.

You’re in this together

“Air hair lair there” (You’ll have to read it out loud.)

By the end of this week, after we have heard all of the government’s pronouncements on slashes in expenditure, perhaps we may not be as sure as we were about the principle of Self-flagellation Economics.

The Brown-Darling method was the softly-softly approach which combined slow growth with a slow decrease in public expenditure. The major flaw in what they achieved during their 13 years in power was their unbridled expenditure and their total lack of negotiating skill. There are government armaments contracts which have the taxpayer “done up like a kipper” for a generation to come. The various government contracts were negotiated so well (by the suppliers) that it would cost more to unravel the contracts than it would to honour them.

The best example is the farcical situation of having to build two aircraft carriers which will not have any planes landing on them.

The Labour government has left a “Gordian Knot” expenditure legacy which will potentially plunge two generations into poverty.

The coalition government – or should we say, David Cameron and George Osborne know that they are past the stage of papering over the cracks of a broken economy and like Alexander the Great, they have been more-or-less forced into taking the sword to the problem.  Potentially that’s the economics and Conservative ideology taken care of. Unfortunately, they have forgotten the politics.

The “We are in this together” mantra which has been continually boomed out by DC and his disciples is beginning to sound a little thin and unconvincing. Agreed that most of us will be well and truly “in it” but the majority of the Cabinet is immune from the upcoming economic trials and tribulations because they are rich and/or have a Trust Fund or two. That is not the Politics of Envy – just  straight fact which is harming the coalition’s plausibility.

The government is beginning to lack credibility for two reasons. The first is that many members of the government belong to the high-end of socio-economic Group A. The rest of us tend to be Group B-down, with the majority C1 and C2. That very conspiquous disparity has signalled the potential rekindling of the Class War. The Cabinet is connected at the stratospheric levels of business, commerce and banking and appears to be increasingly detached from the ordinary voter.

The other grounds for the government’s lack of credibility are found in the uncomfortable shotgun wedding that was the Lib-Con coalition. Make no mistake, the Liberals are there purely for the head-count. Had it not been for Gordon Brown refusing to vacate the sand-pit, the Liberals would be building sandcastles with Labour. The coalition was a triumph of duplicity over decency.

After this week, the government will enter the most difficult part of its short tenure. The Federal Reserve has announced QE2 ( Quantitative Easing – The Sequel) and where Uncle Sam goes, we are sure to follow.

It was pointed out yesterday that the proposed reduction in Child Benefit (which will really clobber the C1s and C2s) will contribute more to government savings that the banks.  Very soon, the Treasury will be handing more money to the banks so that they can “tidy up” their balance sheets and lend more money to small businesses. Or more accurately, the government will hand banks more pretend money which will be used to buy shares and government gilts which in turn will create profit and bonuses – for the banks.

Somehow, this all feels like a recipe for a very unhappy electorate, so don’t be surprised if very soon you find yourself, Frenchman-like, standing outside somewhere-or-other, holding a placard after having withdrawn you labour (that is if you have any labour to withdraw).

Prepare for a long hard winter.

Message for Wayne Rooney

Piss off. You’re beginning to make Jordan look interesting.

Speaking of socio-economic groups – here’s a “Z”

Another one of those ugly pikey women who looks like a pink Shrek with a ponytail has made the papers. This one has put her 2 year-old daughter on a diet “so that she doesn’t end up looking like me”. She will.

These were her words of wisdom: “With an eating disorder, you can get through it with therapy. But when you’re fat, you’re fat for life”. Not a good excuse to make your young child go hungry – or is she doing it so that there are more chips and fishfingers for her?

By the way, does anyone know why nowadays, women in their early twenties have cultivated such fat wobbly rear-ends – usually accompanied by a ponytail, a Maclaren buggy, arms like a docker and terminal stupidity – you know, the ones who are a TV interviewer’s favourite Vox Pops. They always say either “I think it’s disgusting” or  “Words fail me. I don’t know what to say.”

And where can you buy stretchy size 30+ jeans and those plain short-sleeved tops?

In the old days, at least women waited until their 40s before they enjoyed the comfort of accelerated below-the-waist growth.

The French.

Spanish Air Traffic Controller:  “Tango Yankee Bravo 141 is just entering French air space. I am handing him to you. Over.”

French Air Traffic Controller:  ” I spit on your plane.”

I love the French.

Two Close Shaves.

Chile Miner Rescue


The 33


This was one of those heart-warming events which made us cheer and cry plus it reaffirmed man’s infinite ingenuity and fierce regard, love and admiration for his fellow man. It also showed that we all still crave that rapidly fading commodity – the hero.

It also demonstrated the power and futility of blind faith. God was mentioned several times but none of the miners or their families saw the irony or  illogical reasoning of God somehow watching over the rescue and therefore meriting their eternal gratitude. God, as usual had nothing to do with the miners’ entombment but he did respond to their prayers and facilitated their rescue. He does like to play silly games, doesn’t he?

Can you imagine such a quick rescue here in the UK?

UK Health & Safety are probably still pursing their thin lips over the many breaches of health and safety which were evident during the rescue process.

Oh yes, there would of course be an inquiry with at least 33 witnesses, more than 33 lawyers and an open-ended budget, not to mention a miner’s strike.

When Chile’s President, Sebastian Pinera visits the United Kingdom next week, perhaps David Cameron can pick up a few practical tips on how to rediscover the secret of being a nation of “doers” and not the hamstrung administrators which we have become.

Ed Miliband

“PMQs

“Fair does” to the boy – he was good. By the time young Ed had got into his stride during PMQs yesterday, it had become a classic Flashman/Tom Brown encounter. One may even  have been forgiven for expecting a stink-bomb planted under one foot of the Dispatch Box – that’s how naughty  and mischievous Miliband Minor looked. A stenchful Chamber would have provided a really welcome  jolly jape which  would have  rendered bossy headmaster Bercow incandescent. With a bit of luck, he may well have self-combusted.

Flashman had entered the Chamber in a very good mood and even allowed his fag, Clegg to sit next to him.

Ed started quietly but showed Flashman his determination as he adopted the Paxman technique of asking the same question more that twice. Flashman was clearly rattled and there would have been a lively meeting of the Tuck Shop Boys yesterday afternoon.

Perhaps young Ed will be summoned to the Senior Common Room for a jolly good  slippering.

Foreplay & the Donkey Voter.

Tory Foreplay?

David Cameron’s conference  speech has definitely confirmed one thing and that is that the art of oratory is well and truly dead and buried. This was no “This lady’s not for turning”, “Rivers of Blood”, “I have a dream”, “We shall fight them on the beaches”, or even an “Ich bin ein berliner”. This was a leader going through the motions. The tone and delivery were spookily similar to Ed Miliband’s.

It wasn’t quite down to the Gordon Brown standard. His speeches were only memorable for the fact that they tended to induce an irrational desire to cut off one’s own ears.

DC was always going to have to strike a difficult balance. He was the first Conservative Prime Minister for 13 years to  address a Conservative Party in power, just 5 months after fighting a General Election.There should have been balloons, cake, drink, merriment and general ribaldry – or the Tory equivalent thereof. Mind you, he didn’t actually WIN the election and perhaps remembered that he is  being propped up by that rag-tag band of opportunist Liberals, led by Clegg the Duplicitous. Perhaps out and out triumphalism was not appropriate – but then again, neither was Marvin Gaye’s “It takes Two”. That was about as subtle as Eric Pickles brandishing a shovel in a pie factory.

He knew what we were all really waiting for and he more-or-less bottled out. Yes. Child Benefits. His inexperience as a policymaker shone through once again.  By now someone should have told him that before introducing new policies, he should prepare the ground – and that does not necessarily mean the “slash and burn”. All that macho nonsense may well produce an odd cheer and the clap that he so richly deserves but it does look as if the headline-grabbing announcements are made too soon. Policies are  published or leaked  in advance of being thought through and without  the electorate being properly prepared and put in the right “mood” through the traditional and well-tested mediums of leak and spin. Not enough political foreplay.

We all like a bit of foreplay before we’re screwed.

Donkey Voting

 Donkey voting is a well known phenomenon in all electoral systems. It is when a voter chooses candidates near the top of the list presented to him. If a voter is presented with an alphabetical list and is asked to select a number of candidates, those candidates near the top of the list are advantaged because as the donkey voter ticks the list, he will select candidates  top-down. He will stop selecting when he has chosen the required number.

This phenomenon has reared its ugly head in the election of Ed Miliband’s  (new) Labour Shadow Cabinet.  Below  is the full list.

Notice that no-one with a surname below the letter “M” was elected!

Perhaps on this occasion, the term “Donkey Voter” is more appropriate that usual and further focuses on the stupid principle of a political leader not being able to hire his own team.

We should also point out that no Welsh MPs were elected.

Douglas Alexander – 160 votes

Ed Balls – 179 votes

Hilary Benn – 128 votes

Andy Burnham – 165 votes

Liam Byrne – 100 votes

Yvette Cooper – 232 votes

Mary Creagh – 119 votes

John Denham – 129 votes

Angela Eagle – 165 votes

Maria Eagle – 107 votes

Caroline Flint – 139 votes

John Healey – 192 votes

Meg Hillier – 106 votes

Alan Johnson – 163 votes

Tessa Jowell – 152 votes

Sadiq Khan – 128 votes

Ivan Lewis – 104 votes

Ann McKechin – 117 votes

Jim Murphy – 160 votes


Screw the children.

“Remember….walk!”

The Law of Unforeseen Consequences has slapped David Cameron and the Conservative Party at exactly the wrong time.

Politicians are yet to learn that there are certain things which have , like the Steve Wright Show and alcoholic teens, become a  part of the fabric of British Society. They are the Pensioners’ Heating Allowance and Child Benefit. Any politician who fiddles with either DESERVES to be clobbered hard because he is demonstrating a fundamental lack of understanding of the British psyche.

DC is having to fight a rearguard action because a clumsy Chancellor has taken that dangerous forbidden step into “making it personal” by picking the near-threadbare purse of one of our major social icons – The Young Mother.

Child Benefit has been going for so long that it has become a fixture – a tradition –  and you do not mess with tradition. Plus, the way that Child Benefit is going to be ripped from that  poor mother’s hand, is plain brutal. Emotive language? Yes it is, but this is an emotive topic.

In the current tax year, if your taxable income is less than £37,400, you pay tax at 20p  in the pound so you will be allowed to keep your Child Allowance. However, if your income is £37,401 and above, you will lose it because that is the level from which any income between £37,401 and £150,000 is taxed at 40p in the pound..

So where’s the problem? The unfairness arises if a household has two or three people earning and who between them produce a taxable  income which is in excess of  £37,400.

If a husband and wife are both working, and they each have a taxable income of say£30,000, they are both paying tax at 20p in the pound. So, if they have children, they will retain their Child Allowance in spite of the household income being £60,000.

However, had the government said that any household with a TOTAL TAXABLE INCOME  in  excess of  say £35,000 would lose its Child Allowance – there would have been fewer mascara-smeared young mums on the TV and those Mumsnet harpies would have remained in Cyperspace where they belong  and not descended into television studios like latter-day Dementors.

The clumsiness with which the LibCon, ConLib or ConDem coalition is setting about their version of the economic  “slash and burn” is not necessarily a symptom of social insensitivity – although there are those who are already pointing to the lack of understanding of the privileged “few” who currently  have the reins of British economic power in their beautifully manicured hands. The apparent maladroitness is more likely to be a result of trying to impress the foreign financial  community by running, well before they have learned to walk. Too much too soon.

You may be familiar with the story of the old ram and the young ram standing on a hill looking down on a field of ewes. The young ram turns to the old ram and says. ” Let’s run down the hill and f**k  a few of those ewes.” The old ram replies   ” Let’s walk down and f**k  the lot.”

The shiny new government’s enthusiasm and impetuosity are being interpreted as a lack of “understanding” and is resulting in  a subsiding  empathy with the voting public. That is certainly not what was intended.

David Cameron is now fighting a rearguard action in trying to excuse the inexcusable. Over the last two days he has been running for the well-trodden political cover of prosaicism and statistics.  What might (and should) have been a celebratory Tory conference has deteriorated into the media equivalent of a duck-shoot by many senior political commentators.

The solution? Slow down, boys. Think it through.

Too much F*****g Democracy!

“Where was I?”

Listening to Nick Clegg bang on about Proportional Representation is marginally less interesting than the door-step rant of a Jehovah’s Witness, an article about the England football team or a Ricky Gervais “comedy” show.

By the fifth minute, I had the urge to cut-off my ears and nail my scrotum to a Rottweiler’s food bowl. Enough!

Why don’t we just stop pussyfooting about, vote and then divide the votes among the candidates. I don’t care who represents me, as long as he is honest, sensible and can he can string a coherent sentence together. If it’s a lady, a hefty pair of breasts is always a welcome bonus. Most of us don’t vote for policies – just people.

Shallow? Yes, we all are. Why? Because I and many millions  of others are tired of the various colours and flavours of democracy. In addition, we are bored witless with the many corresponding hues of economics which are constantly pushed down our already gagging throats.

The United Kingdom is not for steel-hard political decisions or “definites”. As far as the decision-making process is concerned, we are flabby. The announcement that there will be a referendum next May which will give us the opportunity to decide how we are going to vote , will be nothing more arousing than a measure of the apathy-level of about 50% of  a near-comatose electorate.

Imagine the spoiled ballot papers! No point in giving instructions because many (those who cannot complete the Sun Crossword and think that Sudoku is a Japanese fish dish) will be concentrating more on the biscuit and cup of tea that they were told to expect after they’d voted. ” Oh….. that’s when you give blood is it….?”

It’s no good Clegg saying,  “We have a fractured democracy, where some people’s votes count and other people’s votes don’t count”

That’s a finely-crafted soundbite but the fact remains that electoral voting of any kind can never be  fair. For instance, the vote of an economics professor or political expert carries exactly the same weight as that of a moronic 18 year old who votes for a candidate who has a nice face. The vote of an Oxbridge graduate carries the same weight as that of an an illiterate. What’s fair about that?

The old dears who can only just manage a cross should not be expected to choose more than one candidate because to them, that’s meaningless and far too complicated.

We already have an imperfect system – so what should we do about it? Yes, lets give it to the Liberals and make it really complicated.

The first-past-the-post two Party system is fine for us Brits. Proportional Representation is for tofu-munching, tree-hugging continentals. Successive coalition governments push politics further and further towards the centre. Politics should not be about compromise – it should be abour principles and beliefs.

Here in the United Kingdom we have enjoyed generations of class warfare and the entire political system is as divided and tribal as our society. That’s the way we like it. It’s not perfect but it works for us.

We don’t want all the colours of the rainbow – we want just two: Red and Blue, Labour and Conservative, Democrat and Republican…,.. whatever you like to call it. Both parties have already moved well into the centre of national politics and we already have our token Green. That’s enough to satisfy most members of the of the electorate – and they’re the ones who matter.

We already know that our Labour Party is excellent in Opposition but useless in Government. That has been proved many times. The converse is true of the Conservatives.

The United States enjoys exactly the same situation. There, the Republicans are the natural party of government.

Currently, we have the ugly spectre of Liberals shacked up with Conservatives. Most politicians – including many Labour, would have formed an alliance with Satan himself if it meant throwing that posturing deluded pompous ass out of No 10 Downing Street. The collateral damage to Labour (and a price worth paying) was a lost election and the unedifying spectacle of a Lib-Conservative “arrangement”.

Let’s just leave it at that.

Cameron and his Conservatives will be campaigning for First Past the Post with redrawn boundaries and the Cleggites will continue to bleat about Proportional Representation, which also comes in many delicious flavours. The current Liberal favourite flavour of PR system is the Alternative Vote – but there are many others. 

I am certainly not going to rank candidates in order of preference. An election is an opportunity to vote for the candidate that I would like to represent me.  I am not remotely interested in voting or “ranking” someone that I know nothing about and I certainly would not be able to choose between a Liberal or a Labour candidate, or a BNP or Monster Raving Loony candidate.

Fixed-term parliaments? Fine. 600 MPs? Fine. Similarly-sized  constituencies? That’s OK too as is the new rule that 66% of MPs will have to agree to a dissolution of Parliament.

But please do not frig about with the voting system and certainly do not hold the referendum on the same day as elections for the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland assemblies.

Pupil Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister (narf! narf!) has been given a project by Cameron the headteacher. It will keep him busy and out of the way of important matters of State and will make him feel important. 

Next May, When the country votes to retain the First Past the Post system, the Liberal-Conservative coalition will twitch several times before being kicked into touch.

Then the Conservatives will be able to govern properly. It may be a struggle at first as they will be in a minority. Nevertheless, after the Libs have switched off their top-of-the-range laptops, handed back the keys to their palatial offices and Jaguar limos, then are once-again consigned to the corner of politics,  their short adventure will have ended.

It will have  inconvenienced the Conservatives for a short time but it will all have been worth it.

Cameron’s first time.

This afternoon: The very first Prime Minister’s Question Time of the new Parliament. Will there be the usual Punch and Judy nonsense? We do hope so. Will Harriet Harman be gentle with DC? This morning  has already seen Westminster moaning about expenses and the bureaucracy that is IPSA.  Clegg still carries that slightly apologetic air, whereas Vince Cable looks increasingly like the grumpy Waldorf from the Muppet balcony. The ginger kid who has just been appointed Cabinet Secretary will probably have bunked off school to be present. Roll on 3 p.m.  We’re trembling in anticipation.

Cameron Sizzles

What a show it was! David Cameron all shiny and polished in his Saville Row suit and spanking brand new Shakin’ Stevens hairdo. Nick Clegg (in the middle again) looking like a Polytechnic student who’d been dressed by his mum for  his very first Work Experience interview. Gordon Brown appeared to be leaning on his lectern like a supergrass who’d spent the day having the shit kicked out of him by Gene Hunt.

David Dumbledore was the evening’s host and question-master.  The Shaun of the Dead audience leaned on each other as the ceremony began. The moaned quietly because thay had been told by the BBC  “No laughing or clapping. Breathe quietly.”

From the beginning it was easy to see that Brown’s strategy was to ignore Clegg and attack Cameron. The trouble was that his technique is so bad as to make it totally transparent and ineffective. He simply appeared like a minor irritant to Cameron –  a Jack Russell puppy taking the occasional gummy snap at Cameron’s hand-made Lobbs.

At the start of a debate, which was primarily focused on the economy,  Gordon Brown was expected to shine because he is the only one who knows all the numbers and where all the economic bodies are buried. But in his single-minded uni-dimensional attempt to discredit Cameron and his policies, he did not make any use of his insider knowledge.

The run-up to the debate was overshadowed by a blaze of bad publicity for Brown after he had been caught by that lapel microphone calling Mrs Duffy of Rochdale , “bigoted” .

Earlier polls yesterday suggested that the incident had not seriously dented Labour support ahead of the May 6 election but for many it was still the “Elephant in the room” and weren’t we all dying for a reference to Gillian Duffy!

Although Brown swiftly acknowledged his mistake, it is debatable as to whether he should have mentioned it at all.  He had probably been advised to do so in order to pre-empt any barbed remarks from Cameron and Clegg but they, quite rightly had decided to ignore the whole amateurishl- handled affair. 

Brown began by mocking himself in an oblique reference to Mrs Duffy and then stressed his record, trying to convince voters he was the man to secure future growth.  He did this so many times as to make it as ineffective as his attacks on Cameron.

“There’s a lot to this job and as you saw yesterday I don’t get all of it right,” he said. That remark was followed by his trademark scary grin which he should have left behind in Rochdale. In fact, there were occasions when the camera panned across to him when one of the others was speaking and he appeared to be either practicing his grin or auditioning for “The Shining 2”

“But I do know how to run the economy in good times and in bad. When the banks collapsed I took immediate action to stop the crisis becoming a calamity and the recession becoming a depression.”  That seemed to be  a written and practiced paragraph which was “full-stopped” by a raising of the chin and a Benito Mussolini-type puffing out of the chest and brief stare into the distance. Dumbledore was caught out by that one on a couple of occasions , not realising that Brown has stopped.

Clegg once again tried his “rose between two thorns” party trick and would occasionally step-back from the lectern gesture left and right  to Cameron and Brown and attempt to bracket them in the voters’ minds as “the usual” and “the OLD parties”. This time it did not work because we saw it coming. At best, Clegg was competent but maybe crossed the line to “hippy management” by overdoing the “we” should get together and “we” should sort this out. He forgot that there comes a time when the electorate needs to be led by a strong character  who is willing to take charge and not someone who is trying just that little bit too hard to be “right on, man”.

Cameron contrasted the Clegg inclusive approach by once again alluding to the time in the not too distant future when he would be running the show:  ” If I am elected Prime Minister…..”

Brown  warned that the Conservatives’ plan to cut a record budget deficit this year risked plunging the country back into recession. That was not a particularly sound tactic , especially as most of the electorate still needs to be convinced that we are out of recession.

Brown, Cameron and Clegg clashed on a range of economic issues, including taxes, the banking sector and the decline of British manufacturing industry, but all three largely repeated their respective well-trodden party lines.

Consequently, this final debate lacked shine and spontaneity. Most of the time, it seemed like the same old script.

By far the most lively exchanges of the night were prompted by a question on immigration, a topic which has surfaced in each of the three debates and which had triggered Brown’s Rochdale outburst. 

Cameron repeatedly attacked Brown’s economic record.

“This prime minister and this government have left our economy in such a mess with a budget deficit that this year is forecast to be bigger than that of Greece,” he said. When the camera panned to Brown, he appeared to be shaking his head. That was confusing because that particular statement by Cameron was 100% accurate.

Yet again bidding to end 13 years of Labour rule, Cameron promised Britain a brighter future.

“If you vote Conservative , you can have a new fresh government making a clean break and taking our country in a new direction and bringing the change that we need,” he said – although he omitted to specify the direction in which he would lead us. Away from Brown would be a good start.

Normally that would have guaranteed a round of applause but the audience’s enforced silence and torpor coupled with our conditioning to expect audience reaction gave us more than one slightly uncomfortable moment.

Clegg (again) told voters not to return to the two parties that have dominated post-war politics.

“When you go to vote next week, choose the future you really want. Together we will really change Britain.” was Clegg’s parting shot. More of the “together” stuff which by this time had become a bit yawn-inducing and made him sound a bit like a Customer Services trainer rounding-off a week-long residential company course. Whoever gave him that final line should be shot.

Ostensibly, this final debate was about the economy which is the key election issue as Britain struggles with sluggish growth and a deficit running at more than 11 percent of GDP. However, there appeared to be tacit agreement between the three leaders not to frighten the electorate with any of the huge figures which were being bandied about just a few short months ago. It seems obvious that no party wants to be the first to tell the electorate that for instance, the next Parliament may see increases in Income Tax of up to 6% or that another 500,000 jobs may be lost.

All three leaders tempered bits of bad news with lots of positivity – much of it unfounded.

The overwhelming feeling was that this had been one debate too many. All three protagonists seemed to repeat themselves, especially Brown. That was probably because in the previous two debates, he had made a point of running for the cover of what he understands best which is economics. By yesterday’s debate, he’d already blown all of his best lines. 

A Yougov poll for  the Sun comic asking respondents who they judged had won the debate put Cameron on 41 percent, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg on 32 percent and Brown on 25 percent.

A ComRes poll for ITV found 35 percent thought Cameron had won, against 33 percent for Clegg and 26 percent for Brown. A Populus survey for the Times newspaper put Cameron and Clegg neck-and-neck on 38 percent and Brown on 25 percent.

An ICM poll for the Guardian newspaper was the only one not to rank Brown in last place, putting him second behind Cameron.

“It was Cameron’s best performance of the three debates and he won it narrowly from Nick Clegg,” said Simon Lee, politics lecturer at Hull University.

 In spite of the bad news, Gordon Brown has no choice but  to “up” his fight in order  to retain power, with less than a week to campaign. For Clegg, the election cannot happen quickly enough because it seems that his popularity has tended to peak during and immediately after the debates but decayed quite alarmingly during the weeks following.

David Cameron finished the debates on a “high” and has visibly improved week-on-week.  Clegg started strongly but peaked as early as Week 1. Gordon Brown was flat-lining when he started and has since deteriorated. 

The one thing that these debates have shown is that whereas in the past, a Party’s policies were of paramount importance , our gradual decline into superficiality and the deification of “celebrity” has moulded an electorate which is now firmly focused on the cult of personality.

At last politicians have realised what we PR , sales and marketing boys have known for years. You don’t sell the sausage. You sell the sizzle.

Currently, it is DC who is sizzling.

Commie Credibility

After last night’s debate between our political leaders, it was good to see David Cameron, stepping up to the mark and looking and sounding a bit more of a leader. We were all expecting great things from him because of his performances at the Dispatch Box and his “note-free” speeches to Conference.  However, the Dispatch Box only demands short paragraphs, delivered at machine-gun speed. The relaxed atmosphere at Conference, with a “tame” audience is a million miles away from close scrutiny by the nation  and its press through the medium of  TV debate.  The TV “game show”  format demands a subtly different skills-set.

Cameron is not a “natural” but  yesterday, he seemed more at ease and remembered his training. There were only a couple of lapses where it was obvious that he had forgotten to look directly down the camera lens. On the whole, though, it was an accomplished, workmanlike performance which will have won the Conservatives votes.

Nick Clegg is a natural. That was a surprise to us all and possibly most of all, to Nick Clegg himself. The camera loves him, he was the most telegenic of the three  but all that he delivered was more of the same. The surprise factor had gone but at least he did not crumble under a bit of scrutiny from Cameron and Brown. We expect our leaders to be focused on the horizon and Clegg looked “up” a lot which instantly gave him the air of a politician who is fearlessly looking forward. Clegg’s facial expressions were always open, friendly and appropriate. It is unlikely that he has notes in the margin saying “smile”  – unlike Gordon Brown.

Gordon Brown remembered his coaching some of the time but when he was under pressure, he reverted to type and ran to his notes for cover . He is not a natural performer but his biggest drawback is that he does not “look” like a leader. His face had the “hang” of an individual who seldom smiles and who may be suffering from sleep deprivation. There is little doubt that he has sincerity but that is about all. All of his quips seemed over-worked and over-rehearsed and it was obvious that he was determined to use as many as he could. We could have done without “Get real, Nick!” and “They remind me of my two sons squabbling at bath-time”. He appeared to be reading both of those “ad libs” and his random “Hammer movie” smile also looked “inserted” rather that spontaneous and natural.

The great “positive” is to see what used to be quite respected Socialist commentators and journalists  willing to sacrifice their own credibility by claiming that somehow, Gordon Brown was the “winner”. There comes a time when it is prudent to gracefully admit that your man is third-best  and that the only way that he can win is to come out for the final round next week and deliver a double-knockout.

Elliot Morley has more chance of becoming Chancellor.

Clegg Rules.

I have just finished reading the reviews of last night’s debate between our party leaders. It would seem that impartiality is a forgotten journalistic art. Either that of many of us were watching a different debate. For instance, the Commie red-tops such as the Daily Mirror have published reports indicating that Gordon Brown had “wiped the floor” with the other two leaders. No he didn’t and I suggest that in future, the Mirror journos record their opinions after the event  – otherwise the facts are in severe danger of being overlooked.

Nick Clegg was the easy “winner” with David Cameron a distant second and Gordon Brown a faller at the first fence. Today, the Socialist commentators are all referring to Gordon’s quip about posters and airbrushing. He preambled into that little joke and it was scripted for him. He doesn’t do ad-libs  so don’t get too excited, boys and girls.

David Cameron found it difficult to look relaxed and gave Gordon Brown absolutely no eye-contact. His appearance of being ill-at-ease was further compounded by the fact that as the debate progressed, his face went from pale pink , through pink blush to what appeared to be Antique Rose (see Dulux Colour Chart).

Only Clegg managed to retain his composure and look increasingly relaxed. So what was his secret? As a professional presenter, unfortunately I shall now lapse into a bit of “presentation-speak”. That will enable me to identify why Clegg did so much better and made the others  look like a nervous groom at a Gypsy shotgun-wedding.

Here are some simple figures which will explain the most important aspects of a presentation: The surprising first fact is that for a presentation to be effective, the actual words spoken contribute only about 15% to the effectiveness of the message. Another 35% is contributed by the delivery – they way that the words are spoken and that includes the quality of the voice, the voice  modulation, the volume etc. The remaining 50% is provided by the speaker’s APPEARANCE.

So, if you look like Quasimodo with a voice like Joe Pasquale, it won’t matter how wonderful your words are. The message will not travel or deliver well.

That may all seem terribly superficial but that’s the way it is nowadays and may help you to understand the reasons for all that make-up and voice-coaching.

Let’s have a look at them is reverse order.

GORDON BROWN

1. Appearance. The poor man seems to be suffering from terminal sleep deprivation. He looks oh so tired and there are days when he appears to have been on the losing side of an argument with Mike Tyson.  He has the sort of portly build which will never look good in either a suit or casual gear. He wears “policeman” shoes – plain with rubber soles. His quivering jowls and general demeanour suggest “old for his age”, “clapped-out” and “yesterday’s man”. His face has acquired the shape and “hang” of an individual who rarely smiles. That is why his smile appears so unnatural and macabre in that Jack the Ripper way

2. Delivery. His voice ought to be his best asset. It is deep and resonant. The Scots burr is usually an attractive asset because it suggests “honesty” and “straightforwardness”. Unfortunately, all those pluses are negated by that annoying “tick” when his mouth snaps shut like a gin trap and he does not posses any spontaneity. He runs for the cover of well-worn phrases which again tend to be very annoying and distracting. He rarely uses adjectives or metaphors  and hence his prognostications appear to lack depth and style. His pre-rehearsed attacks on Cameron were ill-conceived and amplified his own negativity and desperation.

3. Words. Because he is an Analytical, he enjoys wallowing in a morass of numbers and detail. He does not realise that any “sale” of ideas is made on an emotional level. He should learn to use the link phrase “which means that”. For example, “we will be raising National Insurance” is a phrase with which he is constantly being beaten up with by Cameron. If Brown knew how to turn bare facts into benefits that voters could understand, his ideas would be far more palatable. For instance ” We will be raising insurance and using the extra cash to help our pensioners which means that none of them need be hungry or cold ever again”. Unfortunately, he would find the last ten words of that sentence very difficult because they are designed to tug at the emotions and that to Brown, is alien territory.

DAVID CAMERON

1. Appearance. He isn’t a “looker” either. He has an old-fashioned haircut – although he has recently (nearly) lost the arrow-straight parting. He always wears white shirts which do little for his pointy little pink face which tends to look as if it had just been enthusiastically scrubbed by matron with a starched towel. He should try another shirt-colour. Yesterday, during the debate, he did not smile until it was all over – although there was the flicker of a smile when Brown delivered that scripted quip about the posters and the airbrushing. You may have noticed that Cameron does not possess any laughter lines. He may well be a funny guy when he is with his friends and is a glass or two of claret to the good but his thin lipless mouth-only smile suggests an ungenerous spirit. His top set of teeth is rather small and “gappy” which discourages him from smiling under the gaze of studio lights. His over-smooth pink features make him look a bit “slimy” and insincere. According to many women I’ve canvassed, he does not seem to appeal to the ladies as much as he should.

2. Delivery. Cameron’s wife Samantha talks in Estuary English which is basically a posh person attempting acceptance through the watering-down of an accent borne out of a private education. Cameron has made no attempt to water down his accent and continues to sound like a toff. Nothing wrong with that except that  it makes him sound elitist, distant and uncaring. However, he used to be very good in short bursts during the soundbite heaven that was the  half-hour at the Dispatch Box when he used to attack the stuttering and bumbling Brown. He should stop writing his own speeches and seek advice – but not from Michael Gove who is as out-of-touch with the common man as he is. Remember that it was Cameron who wrote all those memorable John Major “funnies”.

3. Words. Firstly, he should not mention his son Ivan again. He is in danger of making us all cynical. Leave it, Dave. The words he uses are good but largely wasted because of the negative personal image.  Yesterday both he and Brown seemed “locked into” their scripts and crib sheets. Much of what he says appears insincere and designed to make him look “ordinary” and a “man of the people”. He can never find the right words to say “I understand your pain” because he doesn’t.

NICK CLEGG

1. Appearance. He is fresh-faced and good looking with a slightly less formal haircut than the other two. The haircut does on occasion look as if it had been cut by a nanny who’d had one-too-many Crofts but even that gives him a lovable air. He wears a suit well but is more M&S  “off the peg” rather than “bespoke”. Yesterday, he smiled more than either of the other two participants and when they were speaking, he often turned and looked directly at them. By half-way through the debate, he was standing with one hand in his pocket which made the others looked like tensed-up club bouncers. He appeared totally at ease and that helped him to “think” whilst talking – not an easy trick and unlike the others, he was not a slave to his notes. As soon as the three protagonists were introduced last night, Clegg had scored points. Cameron and Brown were wearing dark suits which gave them an air of stiff formality. Clegg on the other hand, wore a lighter suit which immediately suggested informality and a relaxed state of mind.

2. Delivery. Clegg’s delivery was slow, measured and his voice was lower and huskier than usual. That gave him an air of believability. He did not involve himself in any bickering and stopped talking when he was told to do so.  We all noticed that in the “wash-up” he had noted all the questioners’ names and referred to them. Cameron attempted the same trick but only managed to name two of the participants. Occasionally when Brown or Cameron made a point that Clegg did not agree with, he gave an exasperated smile and looked at the audience in order to involve them. He was only naughty once and that was right at the end of his own summing up. He was going for applause when he finished with “Thank you” and a nod of the head. That always produces applause. I suspect that he’d had a bet with Vince Cable. His delivery was helped by his openness and readiness to smile at the appropriate time.

3. Words. None of the debaters produced any memorable phrases or soundbites but Clegg was the one who kept away from jargon and spoke to the people in very simple terms. He used the phrase “Those two” several times which distanced him from Cameron and Brown, thereby bracketing them in our minds as a pair of habitually squabbling villains.

Today, as is the case in any political contest, there were three “winners”. That is the nature of politics. In reality however, Nick Clegg demonstrated PR  and communication skills which were a million miles ahead of anything that either of the other two will ever be able to produce. It was very apparent that Clegg had been coached by a British PR man, whereas the other two had been coached by Americans.

Clegg’s credibility will now be enhanced by Cameron and Brown turning on him but only through having realised too late, what a real threat he is. The mere fact that they will inevitably begin to forensically dismember the Liberal manifesto tells us nothing more than the fact that there’s a new sheriff in town and that this is no longer a two-horse race.

The Tory-Labour cartel may well be heading for trouble and their joint fight for survival is about to get dirty.

(It is too late but the most revealing debate would be one without lecterns or notes.)

 

The Three Amigos

“Who are you calling c–t, c–t?”

There is one thing that all three participants in tonight’s election Debate have in common: none has ever been elected to the highest political office in the land.  One of them however, has exercised squatters rights at No 10 Downing Street for quite a while but only because no-one had the courage to evict him. Those who did try  have joined the “where are they now?” pile of political detritus which languishes in that forgotten twilight world, somewhere between politics and commerce.  The Memoir Zone.

One of tonight’s participants may be joining them very soon.

There has been much speculation and anticipation about the “Presidential Style” debate which the media age demands. After all, we know that there is a certain inevitability of the United Kingdom eventually importing everything that is bad from American culture. We’ve already gratefully accepted obesity, gun crime, bad television and incorrect spelling so we might as well go the whole hog and allow our leaders to sacrifice their dignity in the name of entertainment. 

British Prime Ministers have only recently enjoyed direct personal contact with the electorate because after all, they are only elected as ordinary MPs. Since the Thatcher era, the British General Election has become little more than a presidential contest  because the majority of voters will deliver their verdict based only on their feelings towards a party leader. Nowadays, the function of most ordinary prospective Members of Parliament is no more than that of political “ballast”.  Remember Blair’s Babes?

The Blair era demonstrated and established the presidential voting principle  and there was a time when New Labour could adopt a cardboard cutout as candidate in the sure knowledge that it would be elected. It was the time when make-up, make-over and charisma smothered the old-fashioned politicians’ instinct to serve.

It is no coincidence that both Conservatives and Liberals have two comparatively young “pretty boys” as leaders. Gordon Brown’s persona and image are definitely from the pre-Blair era and as such, puts what was formerly “New” Labour at a great disadvantage. “New Labour” was a misnomer  because in reality, it was Blair’s Labour.

Voter-perception and superficiality from the House of Celebrity are the new gods.

There will be no surprises tonight because all three leaders will play safe. They will all have scripted and well-rehearsed ad-libs up their sleeves as they are all aware that the most important thing for them to produce today is a memorable soundbite of no more than one sentence.

Neither Cameron nor Clegg will dare to go too far “off piste” because all that they have to do is not to make themselves look like clowns. Brown will definitely not attempt to go off piste , primarily because he won’t be able to find it – unless it is somewhere in his notes.

Predictably, both Brown and Cameron have gone Stateside for help.

Brown is being coached by Michael Sheehan who coached Barack Obama for his own pre-election debates – notably his TV duels with John McCain.  Sheehan is a speech coach.

Cameron has engaged American agency Squier Knapp Dunn Communications. A partner in the company is Anita Dunn who until very recently was Obama’s  White House Communications Director. Cameron also has a lot of input from Octavius Black who is not-only a PR man but also an old friend of his.

Clegg is coached by Johny Oates who was with PR company Bell Pottinger which is part of the Chime Group.

Brown’s primary task will be to try and shake-off his dour, old-fashioned grumpy image. Unfortunately, that means that there will be smiling.

Cameron’s image has recently entered the rather dangerous “Mr Slimy Know-all” territory and he will be working very hard to appear as our mate Dave. All that Nick Clegg has to do is to remember to face the front and lower his voice half-an-octave and to throw in a few “Cable-isms” which will have already been given to him by Uncle Vince. Clegg will be the one with the most colourful metaphors.

Brown and Cameron may decide to savage each other but Clegg will be treated well by both of them, only because either may wish to open post-election negotiations with him. In reality, all that Clegg has to do is to turn up and not knock-over any furniture..

Cameron’s strategy may be to help Brown to lose his temper and really blow it. Cameron will try and expose Brown as an old fuddy-duddy control freak. Brown in turn, will try and tell us that Cameron is inexperienced, shallow and not a man of the people. Clegg will highlight  the constant points-scoring between the two main parties.

Look out for “palms-towards-the-audience” hand gestures from American-coached Brown and Cameron. It’s the “Hey look at me I’m unarmed with nothing to hide. Trust me”  family of gestures favoured by politicians with lots to hide.  The best exponent used to be Richard M Nixon. Nick Clegg will be very British and restrained and will keep himself very “narrow”.

The other thing to look out for is a simple mismatch between head movements and what is said .  For example if a husband says to his wife in a loving tone  “Of course I love you” and he is simultaneously shaking his head from side to side, instead of nodding – he is lying. Keep a sharp lookout – especially in Cameron’s case.

How do I know all these things? I did a lot of training for Bell Pottinger (Clegg’s advisor) and I have also delivered a lot of presentation skills training for Conservatice Central Office. Labour would not allow me anywhere near them – with good reason.

Prediction: They will all do well – but only if you believe everything that you read in the press.

Cameron’s pussies

Let us start with a statement. The Rt Hon David Cameron MP should be our next Prime Minister. I do not mean “should” in any wishy-washy “if that’s all right with you , chaps”  sort of way. I mean it in that “I’ve seen his previous form, his experience, his  pedigree and his leadership” way. In addition, I have worked-out the real reason why he appears to be allowing Gordon Brown to catch him in the opinion polls. It’s all to do with the printed Press.

On the Left, we have the might of Routledge, Maguire etc but on the other side, we have a bunch of  TPPs  (Tory Press Pussies) who appear to be suffering from “analysis paralysis” and instead of selling Cameron for what he is – a leader of great potential, they think that they will somehow affect the voter by smearing the already terminally-smeared Brown. They could not be more wrong. Incidentally, when I refer to the Tory Press as being a load of “pussies” , I am of course excluding that tough little bugger Danny “the Fink” Finkelstein of the Times. There should be another twenty of him and then perhaps, Cameron would be where he belongs – at least twenty points ahead in the polls.

I don’t know who Cameron’s advisers are but they have obviously told him to try and look  a little more “statesmanlike”, a bit more serious. It seems that George Osborne is being advised by the same prat who is advising Cameron.

Be yourselves, boys! Let your characters shine through. You do not need to look like a pair of emotionless, constipated cutouts with all the charm of a Jehovahs Witness on a double-dose of Valium. (Remember George Osborne’s last conference speech). Cut loose and share yourselves and not your contrived images with the general public. Ditch the Valium-look and let us see you talking and acting as if you have the energy to drive United Kingdom plc forward, deep into the 21st Century. We want to see a Viagra double-dose look. We like to see our politicians acting as if they come to work with a hard-on instead of worrying that they’re going to upset some bitter and insignificant socialist hack or hackette.

Some of us perceive Cameron and Osborne as a pair of irreverent funsters who would probably be quite good fun to get drunk with – and that is why the rather dowdy images that they are currently projecting are consistently  failing to ring true. I am not suggesting that they should be photographed staggering out of Chinawhites after demolishing a case of Kristal with a white powdery residue on the top lip and a giggly perma-tanned tart on the arm but there has to be a small degree of “chill”.

David Cameron appears to be afraid to say anything too definite, hence all that we can perceive are the odd grains of belief and truth in what he says but it also looks as if the only thread holding his views together is the shaky thread of a studied -but-reluctant negativity and the fear of putting a foot wrong. That is where he should take a leaf out of Boris’ book and remove the fear of screwing up. The voter will love him all the more for it.

As for the Tory press – the same applies to them. Chill out and write what you feel. Write with humour and wit and not of rumour and shit. Read some of Danny’s stuff. Most will never write with the rough-handed lyricism and passion of a Routledge but they should have a go – even if the Oxbridge Economics degrees, Chablis hangovers and unfulfilled lives  do sometimes get in the way.

Gordon Brown is perceived as an honest, passionate but sometimes chaotic man who is advantaged by the fact that we all think that we know him. David Cameron has been branded as a shallow hooray on a bike without any strong views. Whoever advised him to go jogging in Brighton last weekend should be ritually disemboweled. All that Dave managed to achieve was to look like the boy who came last in the Wednesday afternoon school cross-country race. The “face like a peeled tomato”  look is never a good one – especially in front of a slavering pack of Labour snappers.  It beggars belief that he can get it wrong so consistently.

So “Eton” Dave and “Wallpaper” George are a pair of young but very able politicians with an image problem. We know that Dave’s wife Smantha is a little poppet and it is good to see her out and about a bit. Although a bit on the shy side, she is a tremendous asset. George’s wife is more anonymous but then again, George should be seen out a bit more with his missus and allow the media a tiny bit more access. Then he may shake off the slightly gay Tim “nice but dim”  image.

There is absolutely no excuse for them both not to be a thousand times more popular than their opposite numbers but it is a perceptual thing and nothing at all to do with policies. Not so long ago, I know that David Cameron was warned against an overly-triumphalist  à la Kinnock attitude: (“Well…….allllllriiiiight”). That was OK when the lead was 10 points and there seemed little chance of Labour recovering in the polls. Today, Brown has managed to shake-off the smell of damp earth and rusty shovels and there is a strong belief that he may actually “do a Major” and win.

That would be the ultimate travesty. Get your finger out, Dave.

Octavius – over to you.

Badger Brown

There are people who will vote for a politician because he has a pretty face, looks honest or has a good voice. What fires an important section of the electorate is not logic but emotion. Perception, prejudice  and superficiality are the new Gods and it is only in recent years that politicians have become conscious of the fact that complicated economic  and social policies are not the primary route to votes from an increasingly apathetic and intellectually impenetrable electorate. They need to tap into the electorate’s emotions. They need to SELL.

There are only TEN recognised Emotional Buying Triggers ( EBTs): Ego, Status, Prestige, Greed, Fear of Loss, Pride of Ownership, Ambition, Health, Security and Sex.  All selling is based around combinations of these 10 EBTs. 

For instance, television car advertisements: Status, Pride of Ownership, Ego.  M&S food: Status, Ego, Health.  The most powerful EBT is SEX and that is why  many advertisements and promotions tap-into it so frequently. Exactly the same rules now apply to persuading the jaded but still-susceptible voter.

Emotionally, there are large blocks of voters to whom politicians cannot sell. These are the individuals who are tied to a particular party by blood and bigotry. ” My father was Labour, his father was Labour etc etc.”  If you canvas these people and start talking interest rates, percentages, policies, their eyes glaze over.

When politicians talk of GDP, Fiscal Stimuli, Quantitative Easing, they are not talking to  the man in the street, they are addressing Times, Guardian, Independent, Mirror or Telegraph analysts and journalists or they want to direct messages towards bankers, corporate investors or other politicians. The “man in the street” needs blander and more digestible messages – something that he has been conditioned for.

Admittedly, there is a small percentage  of voters that  does analyse the economic slurry which is discharged by Whitehall and then reported, interpreted and mangled in a variety of ways by a deeply partisan press. Whether the journalist is Labour, Conservative or Liberal, his or her views are as strong as those of the voter who will vote for his Party but only because he has always voted for the Party. Voters read specific newspapers and follow specific journalists, not for reasons of debate but simply for the warm milky comfort of having their own views and opinions reinforced.

In an election, the target is not the die-hard voter – the one  who will vote for his party even if the candidate is  a cardboard cut-out. The target is the so-called “floating voter”. The sales pitch has to be  for him.

So, which buying triggers do the political parties usually attempt to tickle? Security, Fear of Loss, Ambition and Health have always been favourites. Greed is another quite powerful trigger. In the final analysis, our primary concern is not the economy but ourselves. “What’s in it for me?”  The BNP is an excellent example of a party which is constantly tapping into Fear of Loss (of our sovereignty and way of life)  and  Security (the implication that we may somehow be in economic and physical danger from immigrants).

The above buying triggers have been tapped-into for years  and  apply to all parties.  A new “edge” was needed and not surprisingly, it was the emotional buying trigger of SEX – totally overlooked by politicians for many years which suddenly became the prime catalyst.

Let’s face it, most politicians were (and still are) “spuds”. That is to say, ordinary men and women who were obviously chosen for their abilities and not for their looks. Nowadays, that is not enough – especially for the people at the top – the party leaders.

Here in the United Kingdom, Tony Blair was the first politician to present himself as “Political Totty”  and surrounded himself with even more totty. Remember Blair’s Babes? Blair had learned the Cult of Personality from Bill Clinton, who some think  may have “overworked”  the  “boyish good looks” angle. The result, as we all know, was public disgrace and a dry-cleaning bill.

Much of  Tony Blair’s appeal was superficial – the slim good looks, the ready smile, the Bambi eyes etc. You may have noticed that when he appeared before the Chilcot Committee a couple of weeks ago, the soft-blush bloom of youth had faded and much of his appeal had dissipated. Consequently (and possibly unfairly) we were pre-judging his words because there were  no buying triggers left for him to tap-into.

There is little doubt that Gordon Brown is also going to attempt to tap-into our most basic EBT. His appearance on the Piers Morgan programme was designed to let us see Brown as a “bit of a lad” who had finally settled down and in spite of the setbacks and personal tragedies, has immersed himself into a loving family relationship with a handsome woman who dotes on him. Hey, that’s sexy.

Setting aside Morgan’s “lêche-cul” style of interviewing, the editing, tempo and content produced a  superficial but morbidly interesting piece of television. The Ill-tempered, chaotic, gauche  Billy-no-mates was airbrushed before our very eyes into a deep, emotional, loving, modest man who will work for charity when he finally retires from politics. Celebrity Mr and Mrs cannot be too far away.

Rumour has it that the Leader of the Opposition, David Cameron is being advised by friend and confidant, Octavius Black who, in spite of  a moneyed background and public school education, is quite street-wise. That is good because in order to cement his voter-appeal, Cameron needs to lose the off-duty Barbour image and gently pull his wife more and more into the limelight. His media advisers are probably already talking to ITV and BBC with the usual demands for “balance” (equal air time).

The one-on-one interview must sound appealing to the Cameron camp but they should beware of comparisons with Brown and they certainly should not accede to any requests from Piers Morgan. Cameron must start by  tempering his behaviour at the Dispatch Box because the nation now sees Brown as a cuddly old Badger who is doing his very best and who, although occasionally tetchy, seems quite trustworthy and competent. The last thing that they want to witness is the unedifying spectacle of a Mr Toad tearing down the hill, making lots of noise and being an all-round pain-in-the-a**e.

Who said  “This is not about personalities.” ?

Oh yes it is. Octavius – it’s over to you.

Octavius’ trouble and strife.

You may be forgiven for thinking  that someone with a monicker like Octavius Black was a  either a mad musician chained to a Gothic cathedral pipe-organ, a Hogwarts  Master of the Dark Arts or maybe even a Transformer. He is none of those but he is quite a strong Centre of Influence within the Conservative Party.

Here are some clues: He is a multi-millionaire who lives in Notting Hill. He is an Old Etonian and for a long time has been a frequent dinner guest at the Camerons’. Oh yes, he is married to  Joanne Cash who is not-only a barrister but is the “Is she?Isn’t she?” prospective Conservative candidate for the Tory safe seat of Westminster North. She resigned and then she didn’t – all in the space of three days.

Octavius Black runs a company called The Mind Gym, which describes itself as “a place to discover how to use your mind more effectively”. He advises David Cameron on an “informal basis”. Octavius is a cross between a PR man, an image guru and a snake-oil salesman.

His relationship with Cameron has the worrying shades of Margaret Thatcher’s fascination with Rollo Clifford and the Pacific Institute. Most of these organisations are of the old-fashioned American “motivational”-type outfit and can  be most eloquently summed up by that most distinguished of all management gurus, Bob the Builder: “Can we fix it? Yes. We. Can!”   Bar-room psychology in a bespoke suit and large fee.

The main worry should be that just like her Thatcherness, Dave may end up playing without the full complement of marbles – but it’s early days yet.

So here we have Dave’s close chum who advises  Dave  and whose missus is  the in-out-in-out prospective Conservative candidate, or as a well-known commentator recently described her: “She is the Okey-Cokey candidate for Westminster North.”

Ms Cash is one of Dave’s Debs. Blair had his “Babes” – who were mostly 30-something semi-glam Westminster ballast with lipstick. All that they had to do was to sit, smile, keep their knees together and vote. Whereas Dave’s Debs tend to be posh tarts with degrees so, if elected, will not-only be decorative but useful.

It looks as if Cameron is hiring slightly more up-market Debs and quite right too. So what is the problem?

Ms Cash was “imposed” on the Westminster North constituency and the local Party machine has never been 100% behind her. This eventually resulted in an inevitable “spat” between the winsome Joanne Cash and the local party party chief , Amanda Sayers. So what was this “Storm in a C-cup”?

Earlier this week, Ms Sayers was going to be re-elected as constituency chairman. Joanne Cash attempted to “block” the re-election but is spite of that, Ms Sayers prevailed and was duly elected.

It seems that  Ms Cash then stamped her foot and had one of those  “It’s her or me” moments .

Ms Cash resigned as candidate, flounced out and Cameron was immediately  informed. He wasted no time in hitting  the phones to gather support for his stroppy protegé.

That resulted in Amanda Sayers  being dumped as local Conservative Party chairman. The local party agent, Jonathan Fraser-Howells then resigned in protest, among dark mutterings of the “lack of democracy” in Westminster North. It was over in a flash.

Joanne Cash is back in place as the Tory candidate and apparently is preening and gloating over the de-elected Amanda Sayers who is now probably somewhere in West London sticking pins into  and pulling the limbs off a Barbie doll in a blue dress.

David Cameron was right to want to support his friend but is he beginning to show leadership “blind-spots”? He appears to have dived into the affray with both boots instead of maybe distancing himself, taking some advice from Octavius and engineering some sort of “win-win” situation for both Joanne and Amanda.

A Conservative “cat-fight” is never pleasant but Amanda Sayers knew that she was taking on a close chum of the party leader and was therefore placing herself in an unnecessarily vulnerable and ultimately untenable position. She too is a barrister and would have been totally aware of not-only what she was doing but also the “end-play”.

Eventually, she may be given the consolation prize of a safe Tory seat to contest and could well end up sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with her rival on the back benches. We can’t wait!

Meanwhile, the prospective Conservative candidate for Westminster North is (once again) Joanne Cash. Watch this space.

Crying – the New Lying

 

Look out for the slight  intake of  breath accompanied by an almost imperceptible disbelieving shake of the head Then the slow downward look, followed by a sigh and the glance to the left or  or a glance to the right right and maybe a light touch to the forehead or eye.  The correct way to execute the entire manoeuvre is in total silence.  End with another slight shake of the head and about five seconds’-worth of rapid blinking.

However, for maximum points, a bit of glycerine on the finger-tip will produce a tear. If you can manage that  – you cannot fail.

Yes, it’s the politicians’  Tear Timewarp and it’s a guaranteed VOTE WINNER !! 

Blair had a “go” during his Chilcot Inquiry “grilling” (actually it was more of a slow roast with the oven turned off). Alastair Campbell nearly went all the way when being interviewed by Gargoyle Marr. Unfortunately, being a Northerner, he couldn’t manage the crying bit, so instead,  he just ended-up looking as if he’d forgotten to take his ExLax.

There is a rumour that Gordon Brown will be doing  the Full Monty this weekend. No, not like that. He will be delivering the  full Politico Tear Timewarp to Piers Morgan. It’s already been taped and apparently, it’s a good one.

If Brown’s performance scores him a few extra points in the opinion polls, David Cameron will be the next in line and then the floodgates will really be open. This will be the Wet Election – in more ways than one.

Mind you, squeezing-out the odd tear should not be too difficult. There are all sorts of topics guaranteed to reduce the most heartless bastard to tears.  Here are a few of my favourite things – you know the tune:

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright wooden coffins being brought back to Britain
Black plastic body bags, mourners sing
These are a few of my favorite things

Flag-covered boxes and  a post-playing bugle
Processions and flowers and  a war so llegal
Airplanes that fly-in with blood on their wings
These are a few of my favorite things

You see, there so many things around to provide our politicians with much-needed inspiration. That’s without even having to think about what reduces us, the voters to shoulder-wracked sobbers:  The economy, the violence, thieving MPs, charity records, Simon Cowell  – not to mention the rapidly diminishing choice that the electorate will have when the time comes to choose a decent government.

I’m welling up again……Just a glance to the left…..

Here’s something really “puketastic”  as a warning (answers on a postcard, please):

and here’s the real thing:

 

 

George Osborne. Why?

 

You may have heard of the Bilderberg Group or the Bilderberg Conference. It is an annual gathering of 130 influential people from Europe and North America who spend a few days discussing world politics, economics and various cross-border issues.  Heads of State attend the conference as do politicians, bankers, and directors of large businesses such as IBM and Shell. All are established men and women of influence. Reporters are excluded and although confidential minutes are taken, names of participants are excluded.

This has led to various conspiracy theories and rumours that these big-hitters are there as an unofficial world government. For instance, they had an informal dinner meeting in Brussels in November 2009 which was attended by Herman Van Rompuy who was then surprisingly elected President of the European Council. The President of the World Bank Robert Zoellick is a member of Bilderberg as is European Commission Head Jose Manuel Barroso.

There are established British politicians who attend the conferences – people such as Ken Clarke and Peter Mandelson but there is another British attendee who has been invited to the conference since 2006 – a politician with no government experience and certainly no obvious influence – George Osborne, our Shadow Chancellor.

Osborne’s rise has been a great mystery to many, including senior people within the Conservative Party. Yesterday, we looked at David Cameron’s background and today it is the turn of  Tory Boy George. Where did he come from and where is he going?  Having said that, “why” may be a more pertinent question.

Are we regressing into a New Age  age where influence will once again triumph over merit? Will Osborne continue to be Robin to Cameron’s Batman? Why has Cameron hired Ken Clarke as a “back stop”?

Brian Reade is the Daily Mirror’s premier  columnist and although you may expect his description of Osborne to be a touch partisan, do have a look at Brian’s  article which is published in the Daily Mirror today. It will scare the bejesus out of you.

Listen to Brian- he knows what he’s saying.

 

The following article was published in the Daily Mirror on 5th February 2010 and is reproduced here with Brian Reade’s full permission.

 

The confused expression that sits permanently on George Osborne’s face has taken a lifetime to perfect.

From insecure child to ineffectual shadow chancellor, the heir to the 17th century baronetcy of Ballentaylor, has faced constant ridicule and rejection.

He’s the little rich boy who could never quite buy the approval of his peers, always on the outside looking in.

He was born Gideon George Oliver Osborne, but when he became a teenager dropped the Gideon.

“Life was easier as a George,” he said. It didn’t do him much good.

A few years later at Oxford, when he was invited into the elitist Bullingdon Club because of his family wealth, he was renamed Oik due to the crime of having attended only Britain’s third most expensive public school, St Paul’s, not Eton or Harrow.

A popular lark among his fellow Buller men was to hold Oik upside-down by the ankles and scream: “Who are you?” Whenever Osborne gave the wrong answer he was dropped on his head, and was only released after squealing: “I am a despicable ****.”

The identity crisis followed him into politics. Embarrassed by his aristocratic connections he changed his Who’s Who entry when he made the Shadow Cabinet, dropping mentions of club memberships at the exclusive Beefsteak and Cheshire Pitt.

COCAINE

Initially Westminster wags christened him Tory Boy, after the Harry Enfield character, for rising to high office at such a young age without ever having had a job outside of Conservative politics.

That changed to Boy George (in honour of the singer) when a photo emerged of him with his arm around a prostitute, Mistress Pain, who specialised in sadomasochism.

The picture plainly shows a white powdery substance and rolled-up papers lying in front of them.

Mistress P alleged they had snorted cocaine but Osborne denies the charge.

His costliest faux pas, which could have cost him his job as shadow chancellor, came two summers ago after Old Etonian friend Nat Rothschild invited him to his Corfu villa.

Another guest was the then European Trade Minister Peter Mandelson, and when Osborne returned home, he spread word that Mandy had been dripping “pure poison” about Gordon Brown.

It was typical Boy George, a rabid gossip who passes tales around Westminster to ingratiate himself with influential types. And typical too, that he should so badly misread the club rules and end up a shunned outsider. Rothschild was furious that a private meeting he had organised was made public, and took his revenge by claiming that while Osborne was in Corfu he had visited the yacht of Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska and solicited a Tory party donation – which would have been illegal from a foreign source.

Osborne denied any wrong-doing but the damage was done.

The vision of him as an arrogant, upperclass buffoon (already boosted by publication of a Bullingdon Club picture of him posing in tailcoat with an almost comical aloofness) wasn’t helped by news that, in between swanning around villas and superyachts in Corfu, he’d flown back to London to make a speech on poverty.

Once more he had alienated his upperclass contemporaries and shown himself to be completely out of his depth against powerful beasts like Rothschild and Mandelson.

And it rocked his standing in a party which had largely accepted him as the supporting act in their dream ticket.

Senior figures despaired at his naiveté, finding it incredible that a would-be Chancellor should spread malicious gossip about a holiday in which he’d rubbed shoulders on yachts with a mysterious foreign billionaire.

Leading right-wing commentator Simon Heffer wrote: “George is silly; George has poor judgment; George is unreliable; George is, to coin a phrase, a dolt. What credibility does he have left? This has at least caused people to forget what a disaster he made of his attempts (if they can be dignified with such a term) to mount a response to the global financial crisis.

“Can a dolt aspire to hold a great office of state? For little George could be walking out of 11 Downing Street with Mr Gladstone’s dispatch box within months.

“How much does that make you want to vote Conservative?”

After Yachtgate, Boy George was once again figure of ridicule and contempt. At least his nickname had changed – he was now Cabin Boy George.

It seems that no matter how hard Gideon George Oliver Osborne tries, he rarely succeeds.

And the omens aren’t good as he stakes his bid to run the British economy.

As one financial pundit put it: “He’s too weak, inexperienced and ill-informed about his subject. How could such a bumbling nonentity run the fifth biggest economy in the world?” As shadow chancellor, Osborne failed abysmally to offer a convincing argument about what he would have done with Northern Rock in 2007 (he opposed nationalisation) or how he would have saved RBS and Lloyds, and critics say he has never grasped the severity of the spending crisis.

The respected financial journalist Jeff Randall was scathing about him at the time: “As the situation becomes ever more serious George becomes increasingly flaccid. He’s not so much behind the curve as behind the curtain.”

Even this week a blog on the pro-Tory Daily Telegraph website summed up feelings towards him after he unveiled his economic strategy for the general election: “How to judge Cabin Boy George? By the words that emanated from his mouth during the gravest financial crisis in a century. Namely: none.” Few in the City will go on the record with their fears over Osborne’s unsuitability for high office in case it jeopardises a Tory victory, but David Buik, senior analyst at brokers BGC Partners, said: “I find it quite extraordinary that his only experience, in terms of business, industry or commerce, has been as a speechwriter at Tory Central Office and that he should be the chosen person to be the next Chancellor.

EMPIRE

“It’s frightening. And I say this as an obsessed Conservative. You have got to have some experience of life.”

Last November a senior Tory councillor launched an astonishing attack on the Shadow Cabinet, his prime target being Osborne.

Stephen Greenhalgh, leader of Hammersmith and Fulham Council and named Local Hero of the Year in 2008 by the Conservative Home website, said: “My mates are all in the Shadow Cabinet, waiting to get those ministerial boxes, being terribly excited. I went to university with them – they haven’t run a p***-up in a brewery.

“They’re going to get a department of state, in one case running the finances of the nation.”

Greenhalgh contrasted them with leading politicians in other countries who learn their trade at local level before taking national office.

“If you’re going to fail, fail running Alabama, fail running Texas, fail running the city of Paris – don’t just take over the country.”

The attack was met with widespread sympathy among Tories, with Fraser Nelson, editor of The Spectator, echoing Greenhalgh’s fears. “Quite right” he said of the prospect of Osborne being chancellor: “Scares me too.”

Osborne’s massive private wealth is another worry for Tory strategists. He was once asked by a journalist if he was too posh to govern. The reply from the 18th baronetcy-in-waiting was: “It’s not as if I grew up in a stately home with a deer park.” He could have fooled us.

The son of Sir Peter George Osborne and Felicity Loxton-Peacock, he is the heir to a baronetcy that dates back to 1629 and he has a 15% stake in his family’s wallpaper firm, Osborne & Little, which is worth, at a conservative estimate, £15million.

It’s why eyebrows were raised among the party hierarchy when he became embroiled in the expenses scandal and was ordered to repay £1,666.

How, they said, could a future Chancellor and multi-millionaire overclaim mortgage payments on his second home (as well as putting in a £121 bill for servicing his Aga)?

He had form. A few years earlier the heir to the Osborne empire had offered donors the chance to fund his Commons office directly, a fact he failed to mention in the Commons register, which drew another rebuke from the standards watchdog.

Osborne entered politics in 1994, gaining a job at the Conservative Research Department. Even he admits that his career as an adviser has been something of a joke.

“I worked for Douglas Hogg during the BSE crisis, for John Major when he lost the 1997 election and was William Hague’s political adviser when we lost the next election,” he said in 2005. “Maybe I have given pretty poor advice.”

HAWKISH

His close association with Hague is telling. When he became leader of the party in 1997, Hague picked 26-year-old Osborne as his political secretary, asking him to help drag the party away from the wet Major era and back to the hawkish days of Thatcher.

Meaning that in little more than a decade, Osborne has gone from penning tub-thumping right-wing speeches for Hague to claiming ownership of the centre-ground as a leading Tory moderniser. Yet, like Hague, he remains a committed Eurosceptic.

Small wonder people don’t know who Osborne is or what he stands for. Including many Tories who worry about his age, inexperience, gaffe-prone nature, blurred policy vision, unsuitability for his job (he’s on record as saying only 40% of his time is spent on economics) and his desire to put politics before sound finance.

The drafting in of 69-year-old Ken Clarke as shadow business secretary was a tacit acknowledgement of Boy George’s many glaring faults.

As Michael Portillo diplomatically said of him: “He’s not yet weighty”.

As Tory commentator Patrick O’Flynn more frankly put it: “He is wide open to the charge of not understanding the lives led by most Britons.

“At times he has given the impression of being a boy in a man’s job. Tory MPs have increasingly come to believe that he only retains his post because his best mate is party leader.”

Informed people in Westminster say Osborne has been told to work on his gravitas and coached to deepen his voice and slow his delivery. They also say the Tory leader has had serious wobbles about keeping him as his shadow chancellor.

When David Cameron was asked by his biographer, Dylan Jones if Osborne would be his successor, Jones was cut dead with the words: “I don’t pick successors.”

Maybe that says nothing. Or maybe it says that the little rich boy with the lifelong identity crisis is forever fated to stay on the outside looking in.

Cameron – is he a real or a random?

The General Election is only three months away and so it is now time to start thinking hard. 

The Labour Party is currently being  judged on its leadership and the current state of the economy. The Conservative Party is being  appraised on  its  promised  leadership and its economic theory and hopes.

The economy will continue to limp along no matter who is holding the tiller  – and is so damaged that it is more-or-less a non-issue. Neither party can promise with any degree of certainty that we’re not going to end up hitting rocks and sinking – either way, it’s a gamble.

That is why this is primarily going to be an Election of Personalities and that is why we need to have a very close look at the leaders of the two main parties.

There are those whose political beliefs are well documented but there are others whose views blow in many directions and are neither real, sincere or constant. There are those for whom conviction  is secondary to power and ambition.

Below is an example of what may be loosely-termed  a basic set of  Conservative beliefs:

The first is that every family’s breadwinner be given the optimum opportunity to provide for his or her dependants. The second is that Society looks after and shields its weakest in order to ensure that their quality of life is as worry-free as possible. The third is that there is the minimum intervention from the State in people’s lives. The fourth is that those who work hardest are rewarded – i.e. we encourage excellence and we all enjoy the benefits of living in a meritocracy.

That is a simple set of beliefs. Not everyone will agree with it but when we elect our next Parliament, when we elect our next leader, we need to know what he or she believes in. That means that we need to know about our leaders. That means that we have to know about Gordon Brown and David Cameron.

Gordon Brown, love him or hate him has become as familiar as an old slipper.  Maybe not always as comfortable or pretty but we know him. We know him well and in spite of the occasional cock-up or  local trouble, we cannot doubt his sincerity as a man of the people. He is not slick, he is certainly not flash Gordon but most do believe that he is doing his sincere best.

David Cameron, on the other hand seemed to arrive out of nowhere, except perhaps Tory Central Casting. He seems like an OK sort of bloke, but then again, so did Tony Blair.  Do we really know what he believes?  We only seem to know that he’s a toff and that he went to Eton. That is why we all need to know a lot more.

Below I have reproduced an article from today’s Daily Mirror. It spotlights David Cameron and has been written by my chum Brian Reade who I believe to be one of our sparkliest national treasures.  I don’t always agree with him and you may think (quite rightly) that Brian is somewhat left-of-centre but what always shines through is his underlying passion and integrity.

The following  article is reproduced with the full permission of the author, Brian Reade and was published in the Daily Mirror on 4th February 2010.

 

Few financial journalists in Britain are held in higher esteem than Jeff Randall.

He has been business editor of virtually every heavy newspaper, was the first journalist to be given that title by the BBC and now has his own peak-time show on Sky.

In a peerless career, he has been showered with awards for his honesty, integrity and grasp of City matters.

In the late 1990s, as editor of Sunday Business, he had many dealings with the head of communications at Carlton TV, David Cameron.

And this is what he wrote when he became Conservative party leader in 2005: “I wouldn’t trust him with my daughter’s pocket money.

“In my experience, he never gave a straight answer when dissemblance was a plausible alternative.

“Whether he flat-out lied I won’t say, but he went a long way to leave me with the impression that the story was wrong. He put up so much verbal tracker you started to lose your own guidance system.”

Randall was not alone among business journalists in holding Cameron in utter contempt throughout his seven-year stint at Carlton. Like him, some pull up just short of calling him a professional liar.

Chris Blackhurst, City editor of the London Evening Standard says Cameron was “aggressive, sharp-tongued, often condescending and patronising.

“If anyone had told me then he might become Premier I would have told them to seek help.”

Patrick Hosking, investment editor of The Times, said: “He was obstructive.”

Most damning of all is this assessment by veteran City journalist Ian King, who calls him “a poisonous, slippery individual,” adding: “He was a smarmy bully who regularly threatened journalists. He loved humiliating people, including a colleague at ITV he would abuse publicly as ‘Bunter’, just because the poor bloke was a few pounds overweight.

“He was a mouthpiece for that company’s charmless chairman, Michael Green, who operated him the way Keith Harris works Orville.”

CONNECTIONS

The hugely ambitious Cameron had been working in Tory Central Office for six years since leaving Oxford, and he realised the quickest way to achieve his goal of becoming an MP was to put some “real-world experience” on his CV.

For most 27-year-olds the chances of landing a prestigious, well-paid City job without any private-sector experience were negligible. But not to a man who had effortlessly glided into every position he’d desired, through family connections.

This time it was Annabel Astor, the mother of Cameron’s fiancée, Samantha Gwendoline Sheffield, who pulled strings with her friend Michael Green. “When she says to me, ‘Do something,’ I do it!” said the usually far-from-timid Green.

When Cameron left in 2001 to become an MP, Green was more than happy with the man he’d employed to do his dirty work. “He can be ruthless,” he said.

A view shared by Michael Portillo, who says of Cameron during his time in Tory Central Office: “Not everyone was enamoured.

I have heard he is not, sometimes, as nice in private as you might think. It was said by people beneath him.”

This is a recurring theme. As his biographers, Francis Elliott and James Hanning, point out in their book Cameron: The Rise of the New Conservative, he never wasted his time chatting to people he thought were unimportant.

One Central Office colleague said: “He had personality, intelligence, ambition and judgment but wasn’t charitably disposed to those who thought differently from him.”

thought differently from him.” Another said: “He saw it as a way of making himself look good to make other people look stupid. He was a bombastic bully, dismissive of those who didn’t agree with him.”

At Carlton, Cameron played up to the role of City squire, wearing red braces during the week and Barbour at weekends as he joined the hunting and shooting set. But mostly he kept his eye on the prize of becoming an MP.

In March 1996, his first press reference of note appeared in the London Evening Standard where he was described as part of “a silver-spoon clique” and someone who frequently boasted that he would one day be Foreign Secretary. “David Cameron, a 29-year-old Old Etonian, has come up with a novel strategy for getting elected to the House of Commons, which he announced in a drunken moment at a party. ‘He’d worked out his chances of getting a seat by finding out which of the present incumbents were most likely to die,’ relates one of the guests. ‘Sir Ian McNair-Wilson is about to kick his clogs,’ he told us.

“There was a long pause. ‘You’re completely right,’ a schoolmate agreed. ‘He is going to die soon. He’s my stepfather.’ ” It wasn’t McNair-Wilson’s death that gave Cameron his big break but Shaun Woodward’s defection to Labour in 2000, which left the Oxfordshire seat of Witney vacant. Yet again, as Cameron climbed another rung on his career ladder, people were left scratching their heads as to how he managed it.

The selection committee whittled the field down to two candidates – Cameron and Andrew Mitchell (now Shadow International Development Minister). In the run-up to the vote Mitchell was considered favourite. But on the eve of the vote, something strange happened.

According to Simon Walters’ book Tory Wars, Mitchell was subjected to an anonymous smear campaign when some activists wrongly claimed he was involved in the cash-for-questions affair.

As Elliot and Hanning wrote: “It is a curious story and one that suggests that someone within Witney Conservative Association bore Mitchell a considerable amount of ill-will – or was very keen that Cameron should prevail.”

Prevail he did, and four years later he found himself catapulted to the second top rung of his career ladder, leader of the Conservative party.

SHALLOWNESS

But not every Conservative was convinced of their young messiah, some doubting his depth, credentials and vision. Top Tory pin-up Simon Heffer called his political views “philosophically naive and vacuous”.

One of Cameron’s closest friends, Shadow Children’s Secretary Michael Gove, wrote: “He is the kind of poker player who waits and reads the other players, and bets when he knows the alignment is in his favour.” And former Tory minister George Walden summed up Cameron’s perceived shallowness perfectly when he claimed Cameron’s chief criterion for judging a situation is: “What would Diana have done?” But it’s not just his lack of ideological depth that is a flaw; it’s his upper-class background and the fact he has chosen to surround himself with chaps of a similar ilk.

Tory Speaker John Bercow, says: “In the modern world the combination of Eton, hunting, shooting and lunch at Whites is not helpful when you are trying to appeal to millions of ordinary people.”

Sir Tom Cowie, founder of Arriva and a party donor until August 2007, argues: “The Tory Party seems to be run by Old Etonians and they don’t understand how other people live.”

Even the true-blue Sunday Times wrote: “He has more Etonians around him than any leader since Macmillan. Can he represent Britain from such a narrow base?” But perhaps the most damning indictment of the man who would be the next Tory prime minister is the blatant indifference towards him by the last man to hold that office.

Twice a week for a year, Cameron briefed John Major for Prime Minister’s Questions and almost every day throughout the 1992 election campaign, yet Major says he has no clear memories of him.

Fellow Tories say he is being diplomatic. By saying nothing he offers no offence.

But by offering no thoughts on Cameron, when he clearly has some, Major leaves the impression that he either doesn’t rate him or doesn’t like him. And there is evidence to back both views.

Not only did Major once spectacularly lose his temper with Cameron over a woefully inadequate briefing, but Cameron had hoped after the ’92 election victory that the Prime Minister would choose him to be one of two political secretaries.

But Major decided to have just one. And that wasn’t Cameron.

The man who gave him his first political job in the Tory Research Department, Robin Harris, now wishes he had followed Major’s instincts.

“Cameron was in the category of people who came into the party at the time because they saw it as a way of advancing their careers.

“He is an out-and-out opportunist. I don’t believe he believes anything.”

Brown Whitewash?

Chilcot Inquiry

During the latest Prime Minster’s Question Time, Angus Robertson of the SNP  asked Gordon Brown: “The Chilcot inquiry has heard that you were in the Iraq war inner circle and refused key payments for our troops on the front line. Will you confirm to the house that there is no impediment for you to seek a time to give evidence to the Chilcot inquiry before the general election?”

Gordon Brown replied: “This is, as I said, a matter for the Chilcot inquiry. I have written to Sir John Chilcot and I have said to him that I am happy to give evidence at any time. That is a matter for the committee to decide, but I will take whatever advice he gives me about when he wishes me to appear.”

Gordon Brown had already written to Sir John Chilcot and had said “I want to make it absolutely clear I am prepared to give evidence whenever you see fit.”

Chilcot fears that the Inquiry may become “politicised” as a result of the Prime Minister’s appearance – which will be within the next two months – and prior to the General Election.

The Chilcot Inquiry’s interrogation of Brown will probably be the equivalent of being flagellated by a warm marshmallow-on-a-rope.

Make no mistake, Brown would have preferred not to have been questioned at all –  but for pressure from the Opposition parties – notably Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats.

The Iraq invasion was a transparently illegal act of war. A sovereign state was invaded and that is why many say that the Brits and Americans should now be asked to pay reparations to the Iraqi people.  In spite of the fact that there was more-or-less all-Party agreement and support for the invasion, it is the waythat that Parliamentary support was solicited and obtained that is in question. So, whether or not Chilcot agrees, this is a political matter.

It is probable that a Prime Minister lied to Parliament – possibly with the full knowledge of his co-conspirators – with Brown among them.

At the time, Brown was  Goering to Blair’s Fuhrer,  so in reality, they should both be standing shoulder-to-shoulder in the dock, next to that latter-day Joseph Goebbels – Alastair Campbell.

I make no apology for the Nazi parallels because it is becoming increasingly evident that the Cabinet was manipulated, as were Members of Parliament of all Parties. It seems that for a short time, democracy was a stranger to British politics.

Brown has to explain in detail,  his part in the decision to invade Iraq in 2003.

Jack Straw made it abundantly clear to the inquiry that he was anti the invasion and subsequent destruction of Iraq. At the time, it was the generally accepted feeling of both politicians and the secret services that any invasion of a Muslim state would result in increased terrorist activity targetted at the invading countries – and so it has come to pass.

Consequently, more and more of the United Kingdom’s and America’s resources are now focused on the “war on terrorism” which appears to consist of  no more than sending young soldiers to obscure places to be blown up and the UK  and USA “spook”  population running around in ever-decreasing circles in the sure knowledge that their political masters have ensured that they have a spooking  job for life.

The arithmetic is simple. Many more hundreds of thousands of people have been  bombed,  shot or blown up as a result of the West’s misguided attempts “prevent” terrorism, than have ever been killed by actual acts of terrorism.

Blair will be questioned next Friday – by then most of  the supporting acts will have done their “turn”. Let us hope that Brown’s interrogation takes place while feelings are still running high and that the Brown-hand-picked Chilcot committee temporarily puts all thoughts of future Peerages on the back burner and does its  job.

So far, their questioning technique is about as incisive as that of a old parish priest taking confession from a nun. Regrettably, there are no barristers present so we must not expect fireworks but it is hoped that Chilcot’s kindly old duffers pep up their somewhat moribund tennis-club-committee style of interrogation.

Originally, Conservative Leader David Cameron dismissed the Chilcot Inquiry as “an establishment stitch-up”. Let us hope that he was wrong. 

Crimbo Limbo

 

This is the fag-end of a year which needs to be stubbed out as quickly as possible. The presents were as disappointing as ever, the bathroom scales are telling lies again, the Roses tin is down to the orange creams and the fridge is full of Tupperware boxes and foil-wraps which we’ll bin next week.

New Years Eve will never be the same since we found out that Jools Holland records his show in October  and the TV is full of little-known newsreaders. Radio stations are inviting  anonymous pundits who tell us what is obviously Crofts-induced crap. For instance, this morning on the wireless,  there was an assistant economist from a well-known organisation that I’d never heard of telling me that the economy had “turned the corner“. Sheeeesh!

Mind you, at this time of year, very few “experts” would come on and say  “the economy has puked all over itself and is lying face-down in the gutter being rogered by the banks”.  We need good news.

Gordon Brown (the Prime Minister) will be delivering  a sort of RabbleRousingBudgetStatementQueen’sSpeech in which he will tell us that:  A. He will make us all prosperous again and that B. He will ensure that Britain maintains its global strength.

“Our strategy is to go for growth, because we want to build our country up, not talk Britain down.”

 That’s sorted then – and you have four months in which to deliver, mate.

Meanwhile, the Conservatives are peeing their pants – not because of anything to do with the Labour Party’s  economic dexterity, war-mongering tendencies or  recent “trial separation” from the banking industry. It’s the Alec Douglas-Home effect which is taxing their collective expensively-educated brain.

David Cameron and the rest of the Shadow Common Room know that the Labour spin doctors and focus groups are very likely to nail them, not because of their proposed policies and views but because of their wallets.

If they do not produce a decent counter strategy, they will be Eton alive. It’s the perception thing again. 

Forty-five years ago, Alec Douglas-Home lost a General Election to Harold Wilson because he was a toff who appeared monarchical and above ambition. Wilson, on the other hand, cultivated the image of a modern hard-working man  from a humble background who knew about economics. Sound familiar?

So, the good news for 2010 is that we are in for one hell of an election  scrap which will eclipse Celebrity Big Brother, X-factor, Planet Beckham and all the other loboto-fodder which we crave.

It’s going to be a fun 2010.  (I need to go now – I have the Samaritans on “Hold”) 

Have the Tories blown it?

A ComRes poll, commissioned by the Independent appears to show that the TORIES are losing ground to Labour.

The general flow of the poll is that voters do not think that the Conservatives offer an appealing alternative to Labour and the electorate also thinks that a Conservative government would mainly represent the interests of the well-off.

The Conservatives have been trying to convince the electorate that public services such as the NHS would be safer in their hands but the poll shows that voters are pretty neutral on the topic and not really favouring either party.

Currently, the Conservative lead over Labour is 9 points which indicates a hung parliament  and the unpleasant spectre of the balance of power in  Liberal hands.

The one single most important thing that the Conservatives must remember is that the majority of the electorate makes voting decisions based on perception and not party policy.

The current perception of the Tories is that of a rabble of millionaire toffs which has no conception of how the majority of the electorate thinks or lives. The fact is that there are hundreds of thousands of Conservatives who are ordinary working people and who were definitely born with a plastic spoon in their mouth. However, Labour has (very subtly) been driving voters’ perception and emotions back to the old “them and us”  days of class division.

New Labour was originally elected because the electorate perceived Tony Blair as competent and a “good bloke”. He had learned the lessons of Bill Clinton’s “cult of leader-personality” campaigns and had the benefit of a very cleverly orchestrated PR (spin) machine which suddenly made him a modern “man of the people” and not the opportunist also-ran that he really is. The electorate’s perception was that they were electing a “cool” , competent leader and New Labour famously encouraged the electorate to think that they had become a party of the Centre and not the Left. All that was achieved with words and without evidence – yet collectively, we bought into the idea – and it wasn’t even a new idea.  In reality, we had merely been fooled by the new packaging, which itself had been “borrowed”. New Labour was not a new concept. SEE HERE.

During the post-Thatcher years, the Conservatives have had several bad attempts at electing leaders: John Major, William Hague, Iain Duncan Smith and Michael Howard were the potential electoral cannon-fodder prior to the arrival of David Cameron. John Major only won an election because of the sudden and fatal shift in perception that Neil Kinnock managed to self-engineer just before the voters went to the polling stations in 1992.

That’s how finely balanced the May 2010 election will be.

The Conservatives should not become too “hung-up” on the “Eton Senior Prefects’ Common Room ”  image that they have acquired over the last year-or-so.  They have to create a perceptual shift which will indicate to the voters that life under the Conservatives will be fun and that the future will be brighter than under the yoke of a bumbling and incompetent  Labour administration.

The fact that some of them attended Eton, if handled correctly will not make any difference as to how the voters see them. For instance, look at Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London. He is an Eton-educated toff but has managed to persuade most of us to perceive him as a trustworthy “doer”. Consequently, there is an embryonic but  rapidly-growing “Boris for Leader” campaign. Boris has shown that a good leader transcends party politics and is elected in-spite-of  and not because-of Party policies.

The Conservatives have made several tactical errors. They should never have become embroiled in a Commons debate over Inheritance Tax because they were always on a hiding to nothing. George Osborne should not have delivered such a negative speech at the last Conservative conference. He was trying to be perceived as an honest realist who would not be making extravagant promises but unfortunately, he had been ill-advised. Instead, he came across as a “devoid of ideas” depressive who appeared to promise hardship, austerity and misery. Perception always wins out. His speech, immediately following Alistair Darling’s recent Budget Statement compounded the image problem.

There is little doubt that George Osborne is very clever and  will make a very competent Chancellor but he still has to fight and win the perception battle.

The third tactical error was the Zac Goldsmith fiasco. Millionaire toff, safe Conservative seat and a close chum of the Party Leader. A PR disaster which allowed Labour to reinforce  our view of the Conservatives as the “haves” during a period in our history when the number of voting “have nots” is on the increase.

The Conservatives will do well to remember that currently in Westminster they only occupy 193 seats out of 646. Labour has 350.

There are two enemies that they need to face and defeat before they take-on New Labour. Their own complacency and the public’s perception.

“Classist Attitude”

Gordon Brown and New Labour are going to do the damnedest to portray David Cameron and his shadow cabinet as a bunch of toffs and public school yaboos who cannot possibly understand how poor people live and how they think – thus making them unfit to govern.

 

The United Kingdom class attitudes follow exactly the same rules as racism.

For instance, it appears that black people cannot be accused of being racist towards white people. The UK’s anti-discrimination laws were designed to protect non-whites. There’s nothing wrong in that because the English whites are the most racist people in the world. Starting with the French , the Indian sub-continent – even the Scots and the Micks. Never mind the Americans, West Indians and the rest. They are all fair game.

However, the upshot is that white English people have no protection whatsoever from racist jibes. There haven’t been too many successful prosecutions of someone for referring to an Englishman as a  “Stuffy, emotionally constipated white twat.”

The same double-standard of the English class system makes it OK for “working class” people such as Gordon Brown to say that posh Conservatives do not understand the British working classes because they went to Eton and therefore are out of touch.  So why is it not  OK for Eton-educated millionaires to say that working class morons cannot possibly understand rich educated people and therefore are unfit to govern  rich privileged people. The ones who provide jobs for the grasping working-class thickos?.

Why does one approach seem acceptable, yet the other make one’s teeth itch? 

Let’s blame the aspirationally schizophrenic Middle Classes. Bastards. They aspire to be rich and upper class but cannot forget that their parents and grandparents were poor – but in a romanticised soft-focused salt-of-the-earth sort of way.

That’s why they voted for Tony Blair and so created the current New Labour Paradise – which has taken us back 50 years – not-only economically but sociologically as well. War, national debt and now a return to the class system.

 

 

New Gordon

I admire Gordon Brown’s political skills nearly as much as I admire Joseph Fritzl’s parenting talents. However, during Prime Minister’s Question Time yesterday , Gordon Brown looked far more relaxed and confident than I have ever seen him.

Assuming the he had not been at the “sunshine in a bottle” stuff, he made Dave Cameron look quite ordinary. OK, he gave the same answers – which aren’t really answers but questions to Cameron about Conservative policy but his attitude had shifted.

There were a couple of Blair-type put-downs and I do believe that he is looking like a potential winner.

One very noticeable and unsavoury thing though – it is obvious that Labour are going to be playing the Class card in the run-up to the election. Eton was mentioned at least twice. Not very clever  – but fair game.

It is hoped that the “Goldsmith Factor” does not return to haunt the Conservative Party.

Even the BBC has said that we haven’t had Eton blokes in charge for fifty years – since Alec Douglas-Home’s day – not a great link.  It will be easy for the New Labour spin machine to portray a Tory election victory as a regressive step.

The message to the Tories is this: Don’t be complacent and do not under-estimate the power of stupid people in large groups.

Yes, I mean the voters.

Gordon gives Good Phone

It seems as if Rupert Murdoch’s Sun comic has totally misjudged the public’s reaction to the attempted drive-by shooting of Gordon Brown through the publishing of his note to Mrs Jacqui Janes and their subsequent telephone conversation.

The call from Downing Street was mysteriously recorded by Mrs Janes and in order to milk to death the death of her son Jamie, she has said that she would “be willing” to meet Gordon Brown. Lucky Prime Minister. Presumably  this time, she can video his grovelling on her Sun-sponsored Iphone.

Some say that Gordon Brown should simply have apologised and should not have argued with the woman but he did. NO real harm done.

Since the publication of the transcript, there has been a rumour of David Cameron’s  involvement with News International through his old chum James Murdoch. Then there’s more tittle-tattle about the Conservative Party’s intention to freeze the BBC licence fee so as to give advantage to Sky. In fact , there are all sorts of rumours and conspiracy theories, many of which smack of  a media turf war and newspapers aligning behind their parties in readiness for a pre-election media punch-up. Both Parties are taking the matter very seriously, as evidenced by the direct involvement of Lord Mandelson.

Below in a complete transcript of the telephone conversation.

Jacqui Janes sounds and looks like a typical Sun reader, you know. Init? She attempts to engage Brown in a Sun-scripted debate on the under-resourcing of our troops whereas all that he wants to achieve is another apology.

Mrs Janes bangs on a bit about Brown’s spelling mistakes but she filters her Sun-arguments through the Murdoch-medium of bad grammar and half-baked “facts”. That makes one suspect that she wouldn’t recognise a spelling mistake if it stuck it’s head under her skirts and whistled.

She answered the telephone a at 10pm to be told she was speaking to the Downing Street switchboard who had the Prime Minister on the line.

The first few seconds of the conversation were not recorded.

JACQUI JANES: I’m sorry, you know, I have the deepest respect for the fact that you are Prime Minister but I am the mother of a soldier who, really, you know, his death could have been prevented in several ways, lack of helicopters being the main one.

GORDON BROWN: I don’t think so but, er, obviously you are entitled to your views. We have tried to do everything we can to protect people against these explosive devices.

JJ: Er, Mr Brown, Mr Brown can I just step in here. My sons are fifth generation infantry I’m not silly. I have had lots of info from different people who I know from within the Army. I know about Chinooks that, er, were meant to be brought up to the Mark III standards but went wrong so they’re no good. I know about the Merlins that have been brought back from Iraq and are still sitting in this country. I know of another soldier that sustained the same injuries from an IED that my son sustained and he’s alive. All right, limbless, but alive. My son wasn’t given that opportunity…

GB: Er, I, I

JJ: The letter that you wrote to me Mr Brown…

GB: Yes

JJ: I don’t want to sound disrespectful here, but was an insult to my child. There was 25 spelling mistakes, 25!

GB: There wasn’t.

JJ: Mr Brown I’ve got the letter in front of me…

GB: I’ve got the letter in front of me and if you feel that my writing was not right then I’m sorry about that.

JJ: I’m not saying, I’m not saying, no, no, no… I have made no comment about how your writing looked. But other people have seen this letter as well. And as for my serving soldier in Catterick…

GB: Yes.

JJ: You know he has to now live with the fact that there was nothing he could have done. He was a more senior soldier than Jamie. Jamie was very proud to be a soldier, very proud.

GB: You know you know that I wrote to you, er, a handwritten letter because I was…

JJ: Listen to me…

GB: … because I was concerned about the death of your son…

JJ: Listen to me, please. I am looking at the letter now…

GB: You know I did write the letter because I was concerned about the death of your son and I don’t think what I said in it was disrespectful at all.

JJ: I never said it was disrespectful. The spelling mistakes are disrespectful.

GB: Er…

JJ: The fact that you named me Mrs James was disrespectful.

GB: I think I think I was trying to say Janes, as your right name. Maybe, maybe my writing looks bad but I was trying to say your right name. And I spelt Jamie right as well I understand.

JJ: Erm, I beg to differ. I’ve got the letter in front of me so I do beg to differ.

GB: I, I, well…

JJ: I can not believe I have been brought down to the level of having an argument with the Prime Minister of my own country

GB: Well I wanted to assure you that everything that I have tried to do is both protect our forces and when, when your son died I wanted to send my respect to you and write a letter that appreciated the service that he had given to the country. And I think if you are able to look at the letter again, and I know it is something that’s very difficult to do when you’re receiving letters about something that is so personal, you you’ll see that I said Jamie was a brave, selfless, professional soldier who was held in the highest esteem and regard by all who worked with him and I tried to say that words may offer little comfort at this time but I hope that over time you would find some consolation in his courage and in his bravery and in the great contributions he made to the security of his country and I then said if I can help in any way please, please tell me and I would have been very happy to have received a letter from you and replied again or if you’d asked to meet me I would have met you. So…

JJ: I think, I think at this stage…

GB: Please understand my good intentions and I’m sorry you feel so strongly about, er, about, er, the way I wrote the letter but I hope that on reflection you’ll understand that I have the greatest of sympathy for you and I…

JJ: … I’m not, I’m not doubting that, I am not doubting the whole of the country has the greatest of sympathy for me. What I do know for a fact is that our soldiers out there – they should be out there by the way, I do truly believe in my heart of hearts that the troops should be out there. We do need more troops out there for a start, we do need the helicopters out there. That’s a fact. I know for fact of certain different pilots working out of Kandahar that on some occasions there is only one Casevac (casualty evacuation) helicopter available.

GB: Well, I, I, I’m sorry that that that’s the information that, er, you’ve been…

JJ: But I know it’s fact and not fiction.

GB: Well, OK, OK, I don’t want to argue with you because I want to actually pass on my condolences and I want to assure you that although you’ve taken some offence against a letter I’ve written I’ve tried to reflect my personal sadness at the loss of your son, er, and I don’t want to have any, erm, argument with you about it. If you feel strongly that I’ve done you wrong then that’s for you to decide but I want to assure you that there was never any intention on my part to do anything other than pass on my condolences to you and to your your, your family, understanding that you are a a military family and that you have given great service as a family to our country, er, and I hope that, er, that on reflection you, you will understand that I was trying to do the best by, by our country and trying to reflect the sadness that Sarah and I have at the loss of your son.

I, I’m sorry that I have been unable to persuade you of that but that is how I feel, that is that is how I feel.

JJ: Right, can I now just say how I feel?

GB: Yes please.

JJ: Many many years ago, in 18-something, somebody said the biggest enemy of our Army was our Treasury… they were so right.

GB: I, I…

JJ: Even to this day..

GB: I, I…

JJ: Mr Brown, to this day, I know as fact helping my sons buy equipment themselves before they go to war, I know of every mother, the letters I have received off mothers whose sons have been killed, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, you know, friends of mine that were killed in Northern Ireland. I know that our Government are letting our troops down, big time.

GB: But I’m sorry I would not send anybody abroad unless I felt that they were properly equipped and, er, what I’ve told the Army chiefs that we cannot send people abroad unless we can properly equip them.

JJ: But they’re not properly equipped and we both know this.

GB: That…

JJ: Why are… then please tell me why are all the Merlins still in this country that have since come back from Iraq?

GB: The reason the Merlins, er, came back from Iraq and are in the country and about to go out to Afghanistan is that they have to be completely remodelled with new blades because you cannot fly the Merlins that were flying in Iraq in Afghanistan, which is a different terrain, er, and, er, the height is different and the, the temperature is different.

JJ: So what, what…

GB: The helicopter pilots have got to go to America to be trained in the high altitude and in night light. I’ve been to see the helicopters myself and I’ve seen how they’ve had to be regraded, er, so they can actually fly in Afghanistan and you cannot take the helicopters straight from Iraq to Afghanistan because they need these new blades and that’s, that’s I’m afraid the reason why, although three I think, are going in the next three weeks, it’s taken time to get the Iraq Merlins ready for Afghanistan. I’m sorry that is the case but that is the reality. We had to re-equip the helicopters to…

JJ: I know what has to be done. I have been made aware of what needed to be done. But nobody has replaced the Chinooks that were, erm, how can we put it, that went wrong.

GB: I, I don’t I, I, I wanted to speak to you because of the controversy, erm, that you’ve, erm, you’ve erm, obviously that surrounded… that I had every intention of, er, of passing on the condolences of myself and on behalf of the country. Er, er, I’m sorry that you’ve taken offence about that…

JJ: I didn’t take offence that you were writing me a letter of condolence. It was the amount of spelling mistakes. It was just like an absolute insult to my child, who, by the way, was only 20 years old.

GB: I understand that he was only 20 years old but I’m sorry I don’t think I did have spelling mistakes. My writing is maybe so badly (muffled) that you can’t read it and I’m sorry. But I have tried to write honestly and honourably about the contributions your son made and… (muffled) can’t be read. I know from colleagues Jamie was a brave, selfless professional soldier held in the highest regard.

JJ: I don’t need anyone to tell me how brave my son was. My son paid the ultimate, ultimate sacrifice.

GB: OK, Miss Janes, I’m sorry, that I can’t, I can’t, er, satisfy you, but I have tried my best, er, to er, show you this evening that if there’s been some misunderstanding about how my…

JJ: I do appreciate you taking the time to phone me but I’m afraid we are going to have to, erm, disagree.

GB: Well that’s that’s, I, I, I know how strongly you, you feel.

JJ: No, Mr Brown, Mr Brown, listen to me… I know every injury that my child sustained that day. I know that my son could have survived but my son bled to death. How would you like it if one of your children, God forbid, went to a war doing something that he thought, where he was helping protect his Queen and country and because of lack, LACK of helicopters, lack of equipment your child bled to death and then you had the coroner have to tell you his every injury? Do you understand Mr Brown? Lack of equipment.

GB: I do understand but I think you, you have got to also understand that I feel very strongly about this as, as you do.

JJ: So where’s all the money? You can save a bank. You can put seven whatever into saving a bank. Why not put it into the troops? We all know they are not going to be brought home and I am glad they are there to help.

GB: I’m sorry Miss Janes…

JJ: No, Mr Brown.

GB: I’m sorry, Miss Janes, we have tried to give the troops the equipment they need and I have tried my best…

JJ: And failed…

GB: Well if it’s not good enough for, for them they’ll have to make their own decisions but I have tried my best…

JJ: Even Army hierarchy are retiring and telling you what is going wrong and still you send 500 more troops not the 2,000 needed.

GB: I’m sorry, I’m sorry…

JJ: You’re making it sound like my son and every other child that has been killed in a savage manner…

GB: Nobody was asking for 2,000 more troops

JJ: Really?

GB: Yes, nobody was asking for 2,000 troops, there are 9,000, 9,100 there at the moment, increasing to 9,500 the, the chiefs of staff are not asking for it to go up to 11,000 or 11,500. I just tell you that honestly. Whatever information you’ve been given, that is not correct. But I don’t want to interact in a political debate about this…

JJ: No that’s fine. Nor do I.

GB: What I want to do is to pass on my condolences and to say, however strongly you feel about my mistakes in this matter, I still feel very, very personally sad about the death of your son and I want you to know that and I’m sorry if you’ve taken offence at my letter. I’ve tried my best, er, to faithfully reflect my feelings about the loss of your son and the contribution he made, er, and, er, thank you very much for talking to me this evening.

JJ: Thank you very much

GB: Er, and I’m sorry that we can’t agree but I hope you’ll agree that I’ve tried my best to pass on my condolences, on to you and your family.

JJ: Thank you very much.

Thank you.

Dave’s Speech

 

Standing ovation? Inevitable. Interestingly enough, the autocues were not visible. Dave walked on clutching a pile of notes – which was probably a disappointment to those who expected another off-the-cuff session.

He told us in true “Honest Dave the Voters’ Friend” style that the next few years will be tough. The Honest Dave approach will be contrasted by many with Gordon Brown’s style which increasingly resembles that of an ageing Poker player holding his cards ever closer to his chest. Dave continued by repeating that although times are now bad, he wanted to talk about ” How good things could be.” Continue reading Dave’s Speech

Conservative Party Conference week.

  •  
    •  
      • Boris Johnson once again has showed his leadership credentials by being approachable, witty and engaging. He does make the rest of them look a little bit pedestrian. In spite of his shambolic image, you can sense a rod of steel running through both his speech and personality. One to watch for the future. Imagine   a TV debate between Boris and Gordon Brown. It will never happen – but what a prospect.

 

  • Boris Johnson and friend

 

  • George Osborne’s department lined up like a row of fairground ducks was quite diverting. George Osborne is gradually shaking-off his Tim Nice-but-Dim image.

 

  • It’s very brave of David Cameron to allow Ken Clarke a voice – bearing in mind his strong Euro-sceptic stance. The Conservative Euro-sceptics should not attempt to embarrass David Cameron at Conference. They all seem to think that the next election is already won.

 

  • Custom dictates that when any Party is in the middle of its Conference, the other Parties keep quiet and do not make any pronouncements. So, Alistair Darling’s crudely populist announcement of cutting the incomes  of GPs and other high earners leaves us in no doubt that the Election campaign is now in full swing.

 

  • Retirement at 66? Purleeeze George – you can do better than that! Many will still retire at 65 and most of those who have not retired will be out of work – unless there is a local B&Q. The ACTUAL money saved will be negligible and it was hardly worth the leak.

 

  • It appears that as far as cutting Public Expenditure, the main Parties are now engaged in what can only be described as a peeing contest.

 

  • It was good to see that old duffer Kenneth Brown. So there is life after death!

 

  • The Editor of the Sun did not have to buy a single drink in the Conference bar last night. Hardly surprising but the Sun’s move to withdraw support from the Labour Party caused some disappointment among Conservatives. About as much disappointment as finding out that Gary Glitter can’t babysit tonight.

 

  • On a completely separate subject, the annual yakfest that is the 11th Pride of Britain Awards took place last night. One is never sure why only some kids with cancer attend the show, why only the kids whose parents managed to inform the media of how their brave 2year-old “dialled 999 whilst motherwas having a seizure in the bath” receive bravery awards and why Gordon Brown has to make a “surprise” appearance. We all like proper heroes but nowadays it seems that we have developed a real “need” to worship – as long as it involves lots of celebrities. If Michael Caine is made to feel any more ” ‘umble” I shall throw up. Having said all that, I’ve never managed to watch the show. This year there is a teacher whose Maths lessons contain RAP (one presumes that the “C” is silent). Then there’s the lady who stood between a small child and a Rottweiler. The best one is an ex-heroin addict with 176 convictions who now helps “young people to change their lives”.. As long as Simon Cowell, Tess Daly and Davina are there plus a room-full of tear-wracked luvvies we can rest assured that all’s well. Now where can I buy a Rottweiler? I’ve just noticed something and it is the final piece of jigsaw in a theory that I have been working on for some time. Here goes. I believe that Christopher Biggins is God. Why? because God is everywhere.

 

  • Safety campaigners are saying that if the Conservatives axe speed cameras, the accident-rate will increase. Here’s a compromise – and it will be comparatively cheap to implement. How about a sign that says “SPEED CAMERA IN 50 YARDS” on either side of every single speed camera in the country.  Not a good idea, I hear you say. Why not? Oh I see. What you really want is speeding motorists that produce a revenue and not necessarily slow motorists who do not.

 

  • Sir James Dyson managed to look like a prat when his autocue failed. A Dyson Vacuous.

 

  • Liked the announcement today that the Conservatives will begin a process of ridding us of Government forms and red tape. THAT’S the sort of thing we like to hear.

 

  • Conservatism SHOULD be the politics of giving everyone in Britain the ability, opportunity and tools to look after themselves and their families – without the smothering State intervention that is the hallmark of Socialism – even when it is wearing the thin veneer of New Labour. That should ALWAYS be, of course, coupled to the State taking care of its weakest citizens. Call it benevolent Conservatism if you like. Simple.  THAT is  the message that David Cameron and his rejuvenated Parliamentary Party should be promulgating. Needless posturing and name-calling should have no place in the modern Conservative political toolbox. David Cameron should look straight down a camera lens and explain what modern Conservatism is. Unsurprisingly, there are those who have never heard exactly what modern Conservatism represents because their views and opinions are still being distorted  and influenced by New Labour spin.

 

  • George Osborne is looking very promising.

 

  • So why DOES Jordan look as if she’s wearing a gumshield? Is in “hommage” to her cross-dressing new beau and professional thug Alex (Max – you’re running out of crap copy!) or has she been “done”. I think that we all know the answer to that one.

 

  • David Cameron has been photographed with a glass of champagne. Big deal! I shall simply repeat a previous report: The biggest consumption of champagne at  Conference time is by Labour. That was told to me by a former Chief Barman at the Grand Hotel in Brighton. Hypocrites.

 

  • Today, all the Socialist rags are laying-into  George Osborne who has introduced a bit of realism into our understanding of the economy. One suspects that once the Conservatives are in power and manage to have a good look at the books, they will see that things are far worse than has so far been admitted by ther present incumbents.

 

  • We are still living in cloud-cuckoo land as far as the economy is concerned. The FTSE is UP. House prices are UP, Gold is UP, Tesco shares are UP. In fact – everything is UP. Sounds great doesn’t it? So why aren’t we all feeling more positive. The fact is that the FTSE is up because  money is being invested on the Stock Exchange as a result of bank savings rates being so derisory plus, much of the money currently being invested is foreign so it could leave us at any time. The money that is being invested by British banks is not all real money. Some of it is the stuff that has been printed by the Bank of England and handed to the banking system. Mr Quantitative Easing strikes again. Gold has been creeping up for months. It is normally viewed as a “hedge” – somewhere to run when equities and commodities are down in price. That is not the case at present.  Something that has gradually been creeping into our collective peripheral vision is the slow-collapse of the dollar. There are strong rumours that very soon, oil will no longer be traded in dollars – there is foreign plotting afoot! Once the dollar really does go into freefall, share and commodity prices will tumble very quickly. The British economy has much to fear because the factors that it has traditionally relied-upon to buttress the economy have all but gone. The City of London USED to be the world’s financial centre. That is no longer the case. WE used to MAKE things and export them. Nowadays, that is down to about 17% of the country’s total economic output. Finally, the British economy and Governmemt are “over-borrowed” with little realistic prospect of repaying much of what was borrowed. If George Osborne had been in possession of ALL the facts, I don’t believe that he would have wished to even beigin his speech yesterday. He did very well and reminded us that we need to take a more collective and inclusive approach to heal the economy.

 

  • Yesterday I said that I would probably throw -up if Michael Caine was once-again “umbled” at the Pride of Britiain Awards. Apologies to Michael as it was Joanna Lumley’s turn to be “humbled and overcome”. Please make it stop.

 

  • So Boris and Dave are ex-Bullingdon boys and used to piss it up, throw bread rolls about, get toffed-up  and pose for silly photos. Go to any Comprehensive School on Prom Night (American import, I’m afraid) and watch scores of youngsters, toffed-up, arriving in ridiculous stretch limos and being encouraged to be extremely silly. So where’s the difference between our Grease wannabees and the Bullingdon Boys. Apparently, it’s only OK to dress like a posh prat and behave outrageously if you’re NOT a posh prat. It seems that those aspirational working classes are being herded by the Labour media back towards a concept which one hoped had been left behind – The Politics of Envy.

 

  • There was a great photograph of the Pride of Britain winners outside No 10 Downing Street. Sarah Brown looked very vivacious – so why did Gordon Brown look as if someone had inserted a six-inch ruler between his cheeks? Oh I see. Smile, eh? Wow.

 

  • Are we, as a nation, losing our sense of humour? We all remember Boris Johnson insulting Liverpool, Portsmouth and rather bizarrely – Papua New Guinea. He acknowledged all that in the introduction to his speech at Conference this week. Whatever you think of Boris, you have to admit that he carries a very mischievous sense of humour. That reminds me of a pilot who was censured by his bosses for the following Tannoy announcement: “Ladies and gentlemen, we are about to fly over Liverpool. Would you please ensure that you have placed your hands over your wallets.”

 

  • This woman’s husband, Andrew George was taken ill but has now been discharged and is being comforted by his family: 

  • She used to work at Little Ted’s Nursery and is a pervert. Although her husband does have our sympathy, one cannot help but think that at some stage during the marriage, he would have benefited from a visit to Specsavers.

 

  • The Conservatives have announced that they will deal with binge-drinking and teenage violence through the medium of taxation. Surprisingly, this is the first Conservative initiative that I disagree with. Remember that some drugs are far more expensive than alcohol, yet, money is still found for them. The alcohol genie is so far out of the bottle that there are no initiatives that will ever change the Brits’ uneasy relationship with alcohol. Social Engineering through taxation does not work. Let’s face it, Brits drink to get drunk – and then they drink some more. A few more pence on booze will make no difference whatsoever. Practical tip: The increased tax will be on cider and strong lager so do what kids do already, buy normal lager and tip cheap vodka into it. Now what?

 

  • Could it be true? Avram Grant is returning to Portsmouth as Director of Football? That should cheer the place up. Here is a photo of Avram practicing his Gordon Brown smile.

 

  • Sharon Shoesmith has  launched judicial review proceedings against Haringey Council, Ofsted and the Children’s Secretary Ed Balls. She was in charge of Haringey Social Services during the Baby P murder. One of the great British traditions is that if there is a screw-up on your watch then you fall on your sword. Ms SHOESMITH DID HERSELF NO FAVOURS during her few TV appearances when the Baby P affair was at its peak. She seemed aloof, smug, unrepentant and unapologetic. ” I was following orders” is the usual excuse. Hers was “We followed all procedures”. That neither exonerated her, nor did it go down well with the public.  Had she cried, begged forgiveness and made some sort of admission, the public would have been a little more sympathetic. As it was, Ed Balls did exactly the right thing in instructing Haringey to sack her without compensation.

 

  • Labour bleating noises have been heard again today. General Sir Francis Richard Dannatt, GCB, CBE, MC is our most distinguished soldier and tomorrow (Thursday) he will be officially announced as a Conservative Life Peer who will be advising the Conservatives on defence. General Dannatt was our highest-ranking  soldier and Chief of General Staff. He was going to be promoted to Chief of Defence Staff , which means that he would have become head of all of our armed forces – not just the Army. However, Gordon Brown personally blocked the promotion and General Dannatt was instead given the consolation prize of Constable of the Tower of London. Traditionally the Chief of Defence Staff is principal military adviser to the British Government. Gordon Brown was miffed because of General Dannatt’s “repeated calls for better pay and conditions for servicemen”. So General Dannatt’s sins? Speaking his mind, not being a Brown “yes man” and caring about his soldiers’ safety and welfare. Gordon Brown really has no idea whatsoever – probably because he was dealing with a proper  leader. It’s patently obvious that Brown does not recognise the species. He should learn that leadership is much more than Benito Mussolini-type posturing with overworked, overtired, adjective-free, moribund speeches.

 

  • Obama wins the Nobel Peace Prize. Quite right too. Climate, Democracy, Nuclear Disarmament – in fact, everything that he has touched so far. It looks as if Zimbabwe’s Morgan Chanderai was the runner-up. There is already talk  and discussion of whether Barack Obama deserves the Nobel Peace Prize with only nine months in office. The fact is that the Nobel committee can see that in spite of the fact that Obama’s actual achievements so far  are comparatively modest – he is by far the most influential individual on the planet as far as the short and medium term futures of the Earth are concerned. The progress that he has made in the last nine months is nothing short of remarkable.

 

  • It appears that today is probably the last posting day for Christmas. If you  want to send cards abroad, you’re too late. Christmas parcels should have been posted by March 31st. Why didn’t Crozier stick to football. This is yet another case of a Business Model triumphing over the Customer. Perhaps Royal Mail should be renamed Royal Lemming.

Friday October 2nd 2009

  • Ethiopia has suddenly become the focus for all anthropologists. An ancient  skeleton was found in 1992 and it has taken 17 years for the research team to rebuild it. Why all the excitement? The skeleton belongs to an in-between species of humanoid about 4.4 million years old. It has been designated Ardipithecus Ramidus. It is not “the missing link” but by extrapolation, it appears that it is probably about 9 million years since the division between apes and humans. So where was John Prescott this week?
  • The East of England Minister Barbara Follett is to stand-down from Parliament. She is (was) Minister for Culture, Creative Industries and Tourism. Her reasons for leaving? Yes, it’s the old chestnut: “For family reasons – to spend more time with my family”. Heard her name before? She’s the MP who claimed £500 to repair a Chinese rug ( don’t we all?) and she also claimed £25,000 “for security reasons”. She has since repaid all of the money. So how could she afford to sign such a large cheque? Her husband is millionaire pulp fiction writer, Ken Follett. Barbara and Ken epitomise the “champagne socialist” and are chums of Tony and Cherie Blair.
  • Jobs for the boys. Former Northern Rock boss, Adam Applegarth is now an advisor to Apollo Management. They are an American Equity firm. Adam is advising them on the purchase of bad loans, including parts of Northern Rock bank, the former Building Society he brought to its knees. Perhaps a touch ironic but perfectly legal. He will earn about 200,000 per year which is a lot more than the thousands of people who lost their jobs at Northern Rock. It’s all very worrying.
  • Today, Ireland will vote in favour of the Treaty of Lisbon. It’s their second attempt. The Irish economy is currently in such an appalling state that they appear to have little choice. However, if they do not support the Treaty, then it’s curtains for the Treaty.
  • The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is predicting that the British economy will grow by 0.9% next year. That’s about four times the current politicians’ prediction. House prices have returned to their pre-crunch 2008 levels, the FTSE 100 index is UP. As one of the few people who predicted nationalisation of the banks, I am still not sure whether to put the Bolly on ice just yet.
  • Vanessa George, Colin Blanchard and Angela Allen. They are the three baby-abusing perverts who are spread all over the newspapers today. Angela Allen is the one from Little Ted’s Day Nursery in Plymouth. She photographed herself sexually abusing babies as young as 12 months. Whichever prison they end up in, they are guaranteed some very close attention from other inmates. The burglars, drug dealers, fraudsters etc look almost honourable professionals next to these degenerates. I do hope that the other prisoners are not too gentle with them.

Thursday October 1st 2009

  • A survey has just been published of the world’s top  Broadband Countries – taking into account speed etc. The United Kingdom is languishing in 25th place. The top country? South Korea. Is this another indicator of the rise of the East and the slow eclipse of the West?. 

  • The Daily Mirror has adjusted its reportage of the Tories today – presumably in response to the Sun’s decision to back the Tories. It’s going to be a right mess leading up to the election. The gloves are off

  • BAE systems is about to be prosecuted for dishing out hundreds of millions in bribes. You may recall that when Tony Blair was in charge , there was a bit of a bribery scandal  involving Saudi Arabia, but as they say – all charges were dropped. There is one thing that both our Government and Judicial System would do well to remember and that is that greasing the cogs of commerce through the medium of bribery is normal in many countries – especially hot ones. Many years ago, I sold a yacht for a $1million to an Arab Prince and we shook hands on the deal and arranged to complete the paperwork the following day. That night , my phone rang. It was the Prince’s “Private secretary and advisor”. This is what he said: “Although the Prince is a very rich man, alas he is not a generous man. You will also understand that he always seeks my counsel and almost always heeds my advice. I have yet to advise him as to whether he should complete this purchase – but I am sure that we can come to some sort of arrangement.”  I was outraged! I told him that I did not make a practice of dishing out bribes and that I would report our conversation to the Prince. I never saw the Prince again. Some time later I realised that the Prince had probably been sitting next to his Secretary when he had made the call and it was probably his way of getting a few thousand off the price. I also recall another yacht-owning Middle Eastern client. Whenever we presented him with an invoice, I would ask the staff to make sure that it was itemised and added-up wrongly, but in his favour. Usually by either £50 or £100. Before handing over a wad of cash, he would add-up the bill himself, realise that it was incorrect , say ” Yes, that appears to be in order”  and pay. He was happy and I was happy but more importantly, honour had been satisfied, he had won a little victory and he always came back to us because he enjoyed our little game. We should NOT always be so po-faced about the way that other nationals  do business. It may not be pretty but it works.
  • Is it really the end of the Labour Party Conference? Thank You, God. Harriett Harman is not too chuffed about the Sun’s decision to support the Tories. She said: “Let’s face it, the nearest their political analysis gets to women’s rights is Page 3’s news in briefs.”  It’s only a matter of time before Harriet gets the call from Hugh Hefner.
  • At the Labour Conference yesterday, the jurassic Tony Woodley, leader of UNITE, was cheered when he tore up a copy of the Sun. One presumes that he had looked at the pictures first. He said: “I suggest the rest of the country should do exactly the same thing”. Labour should persuade more progressives such as Tony Woodley to give voice to their views – that way they’re absolutely GUARANTEED to lose not only the next election but several after that. During Tony Blair’s tenure these Brylcreemed 50s throwbacks used to be kept in a darkened room or padded box until after Conference. A dignified silence without even a platform-mention of the Sun would have been far more powerful.

  • Financial Analysts seem to be confusing the state of the FTSE 100 with the British Economy. The fact is that many of the billions invested in the Stock Exchange consists of foreign money. That’s where many of the profits are going – abroad. Instead of flying to Monaco to play the tables at the Casino, many foreigner “investors” are winning lots in the Casino that is the London Stock Exchange.

  • The FTSE 100 has experienced its biggest quarterly rise in 25 years. Once again, this  is being hailed as some sort of success. It simply means that lots of bets have been placed. The punters will be taking their profits soon. Then the Government can once again blame the bankers. Let’s hope that they don’t break the bank again.

  • Politicians are always saying that it is the Pension Funds and Insurance Companies  own most of the assets traded on the Stock Exchange. In fact, between them, they only own about 25%

  • Today the national minimum wage rises by 7p an hour to £5.80 and for 18 to 21-year-olds, the minimum wage increases by 6p to £4.83 per hour. This is also the day when the government legislation on “tips” has changed. From today it illegal for bars, restaurants and hotels to use tips or service charges to make up a minimum salary. That is all very well but in the grand scheme of things, it is a comparatively trivial matter and possibly not a terribly cost-efficient move by the Government. Especially as the Government has already conceded that the changes governing tips will lead to an estimated £60m in extra costs to ensure the legislation is implemented properly. The new code will also lead to higher National Insurance payments. This is an inflationarymove because bars , restaurants etc will simply “up” their prices to maintain their margins. The British Hospitality Association (BHA) estimates the new rules could lead to an additional £130m in costs and up to  5,000 job losses. There are those of course who feel that a tip should be a customer’s expression of appreciation for good service and should not be used by an employer to bring wages up to the minimum. Mind you, both the Federation of Small Businesses and UNITE are both in favour of the changes. The only people who will be really affected are the tippers and the tipees. The customer tippers will experience increased prices and the waiter tippees may suffer up to an estimated 5000 job losses. There is a saying: ” If it ain’t broken – don’t fix it.” Needless to say, one of the few groups who will not be affected is Politicians. You may have heard that when they eat out or stay in hotels – it tends to be on expenses. 

  •  

Wednesday September 30th 2009

  • So the Sun will not be supporting the Labour Party. No real problems there, except the usual one. Why should an Australian like Rupert Murdoch have any say in which newspaper supports which Party. The Sun is read largely by the drooling classes who are very susceptible but regrettably, there is very little that can be done. The Sun’s sister paper , the News of the World, no doubt is poised with some salacious Labour politician scandal ready-to-go.

 

  • The Sun will not just be pro-Cameron  – it will be strongly anti-Gordon Brown. The Sun will do the same assassination job on Brown as it did on Neil Kinnock . The Sun has a circulation of 3 million which means a readership of about 9 million – so  when the Labour Party says – ” it’s people who decide elections”  – they are not really being naïve because they know deep-down that seven months of relentless mickey-taking of Gordon Brown by the Sun will have a profound effect on working class views. Remember that this is the paper that helped Margaret Thatcher to power – they’re THAT good – and relentless. Incidentally, did you know that one James Murdoch is a pal of David Cameron? Coincidence? Er…No.

  • Today’s Conference speeches by Ed Balls and Andy Burnham are very likely to be delivered to a near-empty Brighton Centre. Quite right too.

  • One hesitates to dispense advice to Labour MPs but those who are screwing either their secretaries or researchers should beware  – at least until the First Thursday in May 2010. Whatever you’re doing that is naughty, illegal or vaguely interesting – stop doing it immediately. The News of the World will be releasing the hounds at any minute. For all you know, they already have their snouts in your dustbin.

  • Why was Gordon Brown banging-on about “change”? They’ve had 12 years. It’s a bit late with only a few months to go.

  • Gordon Brown has announced a referendum on how we vote in future – a subject always popular with minority parties. Which counting system will the referendum use? First Past the Post, the Single Transferable Vote or the Alternative Vote method? I think that Gordon looks like a Schulze Method man.

  • Good to see Martin McGuiness attending a Party at the Grand Hotel. Wouldn’t it have been ironic if someone had blown up the hotel – just like his IRA did in 1984?

  • 350,000 old people are to receive free home help. The only good thing about that is the fact that the £400 milllion cost is being made available by cutting some “bolt-on” NHS departments such as Marketing(!) and Communications. Get rid of them anyway.

  • Nero’s revolving dining room has been discovered in Rome. I’ve been in lots of rotating dining rooms in my time  – funnily enough, they usually begin rotating at about 11.00 p.m on a Saturday evening. We call it the “whirling pits”.

  • Tuesday September 29th 2009

    • Interesting statistic which doesn’t appear to be receiving the publicity that it deserves: In the United States, a house is foreclosed or repossessed every 7.5 seconds. As usual, the politicians are taking care of business at the macro-level, while the grass-roots are burning.

    • It is an excellent idea for Gordon Brown to take-on the other two Party leaders in televised debates. Any future Conservative or Liberal vote should be a “pro” Conservative or Liberal vote and not an anti-Labour vote. The Labour backroom boys, led by Darth Mandelson are obviously running a campaign centred-around the comparative inexperience and youth of the other two leaders. That’s fair, because that’s exactly what the Tories did  to Tony Blair in 1997. Admittedly, David Cameron and the Liberal David Whassisname look fresh and youthful compared to Brown – who currently looks as if he has been cage-fighting with his hands in his pockets but in spite of his comparative lack of political fitness, he is not to be underestimated. He will be boring but he will come out fighting. There will be blood. We’ll know by late next week whether David Cameron and George Osborne have steel and substance. Constant criticism and sniping at the Government by the Opposition is quite entertaining but when it comes to a General Election, we will need to witness views and hear policies. Having said all that, remember that PERCEPTION is king and if in spite of brand-new shiny policies from the Tories, the Labour spin machine manages to make David Cameron look like a shallow “oik” then the forthcoming election will be much closer that we currently perceive.

    • One of the ideas being kicked about at the moment is the saving of millions of Education pounds by  cutting teaching assistant jobs in schools. In the UK there are 40,000 teaching assistants – they’re the ones who sit in the classroom with “challenged” children or take them on zoo trips. They are all very nice people, I’m sure –  but a waste of money. Many of the children don’t need a glorified baby-sitter – they need specialist teaching. While we’re on the subject of cuts , I would take an immediate horizontal slice through the current Education Department bureaucracy and take-out all those school advisers – the ones in the designer suits with Series 3 BMWs. They are a waste of time but unfortunately , many are ex-teachers. 

    • Conference time is the time when politicians churn out populist crap in order to grab newspaper headlines and cheap applause. Gordon Brown now says that he will turn 11,500 Post Offices into the “Peoples Bank”. That’s what Building Societies used to be. There was one other bank which used to be popular with the “people”. Now what was that called?…… Oh yes, it was called the Trustee Savings Bank. Whatever happened to that? Here’s a quote from Gordon: “I want the Post Office to step in to help hardworking families to save and access their money easily with banking for the people in our neighbourhoods”. If Brown thinks that he is going to create a new banking system in under eight months, then perhaps Andrew Marr was right about the happy pills. Brown is obviously playing without the full complement of marbles. Oh yes – one final thing. “Hardworking” working class families need JOBS. They rarely save their Giro cheques.

    • Today’s the day that Gordon Brown will either  read the best speech of his life or stumble his way through the world’s most-boring and longest-ever suicide note. Whichever way it swings – there will be lots of applause, back-slapping and standing-up.

    • If you keep putting rats in a cage and keep adding rats, there comes a time when they start eating each other. The human equivalent is the run-down council estate. Weak rats are prey to the bigger and stronger rats. That is exactly the phenomenon which killed Fiona Pilkington and her disabled daughter Francecca. Mrs Pilkington was driven to such desperation through being goaded and verbally abused by a gang of young pikeys that she set-fire to herself and her daughter. Not the best way to die. Needless to say there will be enquiries, lessons will be learned, the Social Services will be exonerated, the Police will make excuses, the local Council will hold a press conference and make a statement. By now, the whole process is probably in an Operations Manual somewhere.

    • Jack Straw is surprisingly eloquent today. The trouble is that The Brighton Centre seems half-empty or as the Tories might say “half-full” or as the Liberals would say “too big”. Let’s hope it fills up when the leader performs. The Labour Party is going to play dirty this time. Straw mentioned Section 28 of the 1988 Local Government Act. This was repealed by Labour in 2000 and was the section of the 1988 Act which stated that a Local Authority “shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality”. They should stop dragging up 20-year old legislation (under which there wasn’t a single prosecution). Homosexuality is not an issue in 2009 and “New” Labour is clearly demonstrating what little legislative success it has had in the last 12 years. Occasionally they still bang-on about 13 years of Tory Rule!!! Labour should fight on current policies. By the way, when Jack sat down, the reception was at best muted, at worst underwhelming. As the spin doctors might say: He received a seated ovation.

    • Fiona Phillips off the telly is speaking but she is having difficulty speaking because she appears to have  her tongue well-stuck up Alan Johnson’s well-groomed backside. She is acting, flicking her hair and simpering like a love-struck typist who’s just shagged the boss. At least Johnson, who looks (and sounds) more Bookie’s runner than Statesman has the good grace to look embarrassed. What the f*** was all that about? “Airhead introduces Postman Pat”? 

    • There is one session that we presenters and speakers like to avoid – if given the choice. It is the session immediately after lunch when your audience arrives full of food and drink and whose brains are temporarily in semi-shutdown as their stomachs begin the digestion process. We call it the Graveyard Session. Wonder who’s speaking this afternoon? Oh yes! Him! Perhaps the audience needs to be semi-comatose. If it isn’t, it soon will be.

    • I’ve just been watching a recording of John Denham speaking at the Labour Conference. Is it me, but doesn’t he look like a Conference League Football Referee? He’s another one who disapproves of David Cameron’s “Notting Hill” Policies. All Labour speakers are talking-up the social gap between the poor and the Conservative Party. A dangerous and desperate strategy. Only Mandelson has verbally placed the Labour Party firmly in the middle of the political spectrum but he also took the opportunity to accuse the Tories of lurching to the right as soon as they are elected. The Socialists are going to defend  that middle ground to the death. That is where the election will be fought. The Labour strategy appears to be to make the electorate perceive the Tories as a gang of inexperienced extreme right-wing Notting Hill hoorays.

    • Have you noticed how the Party that’s behind in the polls always accuses the BBC of “bias”. Today we have anti-Government bias – in the old days, under Her Thatcherness and John Major, we had BBC left-wing bias. Apparently the BBC is capable of bias in all sorts of delicious flavours and colours.

    • Gordon Brown has started his speech with a list of Labour achievements. That’s the first five minutes gone. He has obviously structured his speech very simply. The next list is one of his cabinet and their achievements. That will probably be another ten minutes. Luckily I have a hairdressers appointment at 3 o’clock. He’s just mentioned Northern Rock. Talking off-script? He started with a smile but has now forgotten it and his expression has returned to looking as if he’s defusing a Taliban bomb. I notice that his <pauses for applause> seem to be immediately after he has mentioned a large number of some sort and his intonation changes as if he’s saying “Crackerjack pencil! “He’s mentioned Harriet and Alistair but has now stopped naming Cabinet members. My current thought is that his speechwriters should be ritually disemboweled and fed to Darth Mandelson. His speech has now become the usual drone. As he is slagging-off the bankers, I fear that it is time to go. If you listen to his speeches, you will notice that he seldom uses adjectives or adverbs. I just killed a fly and wonder whether I should turn the Aga back on today, in  spite of the sunny weather. Our field was cut a couple of days ago but I just cannot summon the energy to cut the lawn. It takes two hours. Gordon Brown is still talking. He doesn’t like banks, does he? Surprising therefore that he’s invested so much of our money in them. I’ll record it and come back later after a couple of Bushmills. He’s just used the most exciting phrase of the whole speech – Economic Model. Enough. He’s off on his pre-leaked Post Office bollocks.  Low carbon Zones? He knows how to give his audience a good time.

    • What’s all this about “Middle England”?  Why don’t they just say Northamptonshire? Or do they mean Middle Earth?

    • In the USA, the Federal Housing Association has a leverage ratio ( What it owes compared to what it owns) of 50-1. Interestingly, that’s just about the same as Bear Stearns had on the eve of its collapse. The FHA insures about $750 billion in mortgage debt. In the UK, “leverage” is known as “gearing”. They are both euphemisms for debt.

    • Have you noticed that the £-Sterling is just about to achieve parity with the Euro?

    • An ASBO is an Anti-Social Behaviour Order and it is usually given out to pikeys and their parents. The trouble is that most of them are so thick that they probably think that an ASBO is a qualification which will be worth a few points on their UCAS form when they go to University to study demolition or vehicle hotwiring. I’ve just seen some ASBO-pikeys being interviewed and it seems that the sub-species favours a single earring and a tattooed neck (men) and the women have to be very fat with bleached hair. Their natural habitat is either a bus shelter or a stained sofa which faces a television. They only eat orange-coloured food – as long as it doesn’t contain fruit or vegetables.

    • Just saw a re-run of Sarah Brown introducing Gordon. She was good. She will be a major Labour weapon in the forthcoming General Election. I wonder if David Cameron’s wife Samantha is taking Powerpoint and sincero-talk lessons?

    Monday September 28th 2009

    • Excellent headline grabbing by that jug-eared gargoyle Andrew Marr. He is without doubt a supreme journalist but his questioning of Gordon Brown yesterday was inexcusable. Suggesting that Brown needs prescription drugs to get through the day, followed by Brown’s admission that he has trouble with his eyesight was a direction that no journalist should steer. There is a real danger that if the Tory Press goes down the  ” Brown’s a sick man and therefore unfit for office” route, there will be a swell of pro-Brown sympathy. Then, if the Socialists succeed in portraying the Tory Shadow Cabinet as a bunch of hoorays lounging about in the senior common room with David Cameron as a self-serving Head Boy, there is a very real possibility that Labour will retain office. Undecided voters are driven by PERCEPTION and not by policies  or past performance. Remember John Major’s victory in 1992? He was behind in the polls, yet in that year claimed the most votes in British electoral history. Leading up to the 1992 election, Labour had been ahead in the polls since 1989 plus the economy had entered a recession under the Tories. Yet Major won and remained in power until 1997.  He won because the electorate liked him and thought that Neil Kinnockwasaprat. Nothing to do with policies.

    • Alistair Darling is going to deliver his usual speech on bank bonuses. “Clawback”, “Unacceptable” “Deferred” etc.will all  make their appearances – as they have done for many months. Alistair Darling will “pledge” to clean-up the banking industry. The proposed Fiscal Responsibility Act sounds like another focus group creation and no doubt, there will be another Financial Services Act close on its heels. He is obviously working on the principle of “If you can’t win the argument – legislate”. It’s all a monumental waste of time but look on the bright side – we will be living in a society where the highest earners are footballers and pop singers. Something which our children can really aspire-to.

    • Gordon Brown says that he won’t  ”roll over”. I do wish that his speechwriters would give him words that he is comfortable with. What’s next? “I ain’t goin’ to be no Tory dude’s bitch. Shabba”?

    • Roman Polanski arrested on a 31-year-old warrant. Apparently in 1978 there was a plea-bargain andhewasto receive a nominal sentence if he pleaded “guilty”. The judge then reneged on the deal so Polanski absconded. Originally, Polanski has been charged with rape by use of drugs, perversion, sodomy, lewd and lascivious act upon a child under 14 but the plea-bargain reduced the charges to  a single charge ofunlawful sex with a minor. Polanski was six years old when WW2 broke out and like many Polish children who grew-up during the war, he was damaged. Add to this the horrors of the Manson murders and the killing of his pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, it is doubtful whether Polanski has ever been in what we might call a normal psychological state. However, the fact remains that he did horrible things to a 13 year-old girl and is a convicted criminal who probably still poses a danger. There is no Statute of Limitations for this type of crime but as his victim has forgiven him and so much time has passed, one hopes that the high-level diplomatic activity currently taking place will result in some sort of amnesty. There should be a White House statement soon.

    • The next Labour Prime Minister is the new the darling of Conference. Yes, Peter Mandelson earned a standing ovation and became the Labour Party joker today after delivering an appalling speech. He stumbled over the funny lines, his timing was out and his voice was its usual oleaginous drawl. However, the Conference highlight up to that point had been Alistair Darling and had it not been for Mandelson, they audience would have been engaging in synchronised self-harming. That’s how dire it had been. He is going to extend the scrappage scheme <applause>. Sadly, he appeared to be talking about motor cars and not the Cabinet. The scrappage scheme will keep the Japanese, German and Korean car industries going for a couple more months so let’s hope that their own governments can take over soon after that. 

    • Tomorrow Gordon Brown is widely expected to give “the speech of his life”.  That good eh? He’s probably in his hotel room practicing by reading the instructions on his Corby trouser press – that’s just about the level of excitement that he’ll generate tomorrow. But the Labouristas will clap and there will be a standing ovation. Is it true that the conference-hall doors lock from the outside?

    • Alistair Darling’s speech also had all the excitement of a talk on basket-weaving at the local WI . He obviously had gaps in his script indicating <pause for audience reaction>. Unfortunately, the pauses were more exciting and informative than the text. As expected he did some pointless macho posturing on the subject of bank bonuses  – in the certain knowledge that the whole thing will be picked up by “Boy” George Osborne and lost in the mountain of unfinished business that Labour will leave behind in the May 2010 rush to clear their desks.

    • The British Frigate IRON DUKE scored a decent stash of Colombian Marching Powder, weighing 5.5 tons with a street value of £250,000,000. Apparently , the fishing boat containing the stuff was sailing erratically and suspiciously. That’s Coke for you! The only worry is that instead of sinking the boat WITH the cargo, the frigate is now taking the cargo to New York. Let’s hope that H.M.S Iron Duke doesn’t sail up 34th Street all shiny-eyed and twitchy to tie-up outside Macy’s. 

    Sunday September 27th 2009

    • Just down the road in Brighton THEY are arriving for the Labour Party Conference – or should that be the New Labour Party Conference. Did we elect Labour or NEW LABOUR? Anyway, that’s  now just a technicality or a long-forgotten dream of how things could or might have been. Here’s a Labour FACT, given to me by a friend who used to be Chief Barman at the Grand Hotel. More Champagne is consumed at the Labour Party Conference than at all other conferences and he told me stories of vintage Champers being quaffed  – not from a young lady’s glass slipper but from PINT jugs. If I recall correctly, that particular incident involved a gang (?) of Trade Unionists. Now THAT’S Socialism.

    • You know things are bad within the Labour Party when John Prescott begins to look like a Statesman (comparatively speaking). When Johno was Deputy Prime Minister, he used to deliver those grammar-free rabble-rousing “calls to arms” which could have been such fun if we’d understood what he was talking about. This year it’s Harriet’s turn and it won’t be the same. It will be the difference between a drug-crazed, alcohol-fuelled multi-position shagfest anddoingitquietly, Missionary-style with the lights out.

    • Gordon Brown is to introduce a law which is currentl;y being referred-to as the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FSA) (running out of ideas,perhaps?).The Act will oblige all future Governments to reduce the country’s borrowing by a set minimum amount. Needless to say, the amount and timescale are yet to be decided – probably a commission or enquiry… So what will happen if a Government fails to repay the minimum amount in a given year? A fine? Arrests? I suggest firing squads.

    • The Labour spin doctors have decided that David Cameron will be portrayed as a shallow toff – a script and autocue-reading “hooray”. Normally, that would upset the Tories but then they remembered the alternative.

    • Quote from Gordon Brown: “By 2015 we want our country to be fairer, greener, more prosperous and democratic.”  Seems to me that we have several Labour admissions in that sentence.

    • Lord “Darth” Mandelson has referred to David Cameron as “hugely arrogant”. Not really much more to say on that one.

    • Mandelson has said that he believes that the forthcoming election is “up for grabs”. Yes it is – by the Tories.

    • Great interview in the Sunday Mirror today. Vincent Ross interviews Mandelson and re-defines the phrase “butt-kisser”. Perhaps a spin-job awaits at No.10?

    • Iran is launching missiles today. So, they have missiles and they’re developing the capacity to stick nuclear warheads at the missiles’ sharp-end. I am now off to have another “No shit, Sherlock” moment. I shall report when I’ve worked it all out.

    • Why are the authorities making such heavy-weather of Baroness Scotland and “CLEANERGATE”. If they announced an amnesty for all illegals, they would have to hire at least one Wembley Stadium to fit them all into. Leave the Baroness and her cleaner alone. Is it because she’s clever, female, attractive and black? Mind you, she is Labour. See what you mean.

    • Ken Livingston has just married. At London Zoo. There are some things which are way, way beyond parody.

    • “I want this so badly” “It’s been a great journey for me” “Singing is my life” ” I’m doing this for my (sob) brother/mother/ sister etc”  and ” I’m sure he’s looking down on me” The last one is about Simon Cowell. He’s not dead – just incredibly condescending.

    • Great quote from Strictly Come Dancing’s Brendan “Shagger” Cole on Jo Wood. ” One of Jo’s big strengths is that she’s alive.”Considering how long she lived with Ronnie Wood- it has to be worth a mention and maybe a box of chocolates. We all hope that Ronnie Wood is reunited with Jo as soon as possible-he is currently risking his life. Some of those Russian girls will do anything for a bowl of Borsch and clean sheets. Anything.

    • In 2008, the NHS collected £112 million in parking charges. With such figures, perhaps the NHS should concentrate on parking and stop the healing and surgery  activities which probably distract them from where the REAL profits are. Perhaps a joint-venture with NCP beckons? Worryingly, £28 million was collected from its own staff. It’s a great wheeze. Tax the sick, tax their families and tax those who look after them. Who helped with the Business Model? Gordon Brown?

    Saturday September 26th 2009

    • The  American Fed has issued the following statement:   To provide support to mortgage lending and housing markets, and to improve overall conditions in private credit markets, the Federal Reserve will purchase a total of $1.25 trillion of agency mortgage-backed securities and up to $200 billion of agency debt.”  Now we can watch the demise of the once-mighty American Dollar. Fund Managers and Investors will now start dumping dollars like confetti. A TRILLION is a million millions and in this case, it represents more Quantitative Easing or to be strictly accurate, the purchase of toxic assets with “printed”  i.e non-existent money. The sort that caused the global banking meltdown. This is a case of throwing bad money after bad.

    • President Obama has announced tough new capital requirements for banks as well as more stringent rules on bank borrowings. If you were to ask what these rules are likely to be or when they are to be implemented, the answer would probably be “We haven’t really decided but it will definitely happen later.”  They are saying that  the rules will be phased-in once financial conditions improve and recovery is “assured”. Leaders have been discussing a cap on bank bonuses for a while  but they still haven’t agreed any numbers or timescale. The only thing that they have agreed is that bonus payments should not be guaranteed for many years, should be deferred in part and should not exceed a percentage of the bank’s revenue. That is how vague it is at the moment. When the global economy has healed itself and both governments and banks return to generating profits, most of this will be forgotten because by then, the balance of power will, once again have shifted back towards the banks and the next boom-bust cycle will begin.

    • The least entrepreneurial profession of all is banking. There is a vastly different mental attitude between say, an entrepreneur such as Richard Branson and say, MervynKing, the Governor of the Bank of England. That rule works all the way down the line until we have the small local businessman and the small-town banker. Chalk and Cheeze. Incidentally, when I say “entrepreneurial” – I am referring to people who take risks with their own assets.  Just to reinforce the cultural difference – bankers will gladly take risks with other people’s money – especially in very large amounts – as evidenced by the cause of the current Global Banking crisis. However, when a local business goes to its local bank in order to borrow say £20,000 to purchase a machine, lots of fiery hoops are assembled for the business to jump through, fees are charged, personal guarantees are demanded, forms need to be filled out, cash flows and business plans are sought . So when a  small businessman goes to his bank – the MOST likely answer (especially nowadays) in “NO”.  Perhaps unknowingly, the banking profession is not-only killing itself but it is also slow-strangling the business community. The banker chose to work in a bank because he didn’t want the worry of not having a pay cheque at the end of the month, he did not want to work a 16-hour day and he didn’t want to cold-call  people in order to drive his business forward. What he needed from his life was predictability, order, neatness and a company pension. This is the paradox: The banking profession has managed to evolve itself into something which it was not designed to be and  it has managed to do it by what is known as the “Halo Effect”. There is a saying “Get them by the balls and their hearts and minds are bound to follow.”  Banks now have “business advisers”  ; mostly young people with degrees who cannot possibly have ever tasted the fears of an entrepreneurial businessman.  Bank management has developed a culture of self-importance and inaccessibility.  Remember the time when a bank manager tried to impress you in order to win your business? Now , you have to ask him to welcome you to his club so that he can look after your money. He is now doing YOU a favour – unless it’s ” I’d love to help you but the System  ( or those upstairs) say “NO”. The banking tentacles have moved further into he business community. Local Enterprise Organisations and  Business Clubs are now both Governed and heavily populated by more bankers. Entrepreneurial andmanagementadviceisbeingdispensed by a profession with little or no practical or first-hnd business experience or knowledge. That is the Halo Effect. Put simply, because the banker knows about money and has you by the balls, you assume automatically that he is able to dispense Tax Advice, Marketing Advice, Sales Advice, Organisational Advice, Training Advice, Recruitment Advice, Purchasing  Advice and any other Advice that you need.  The total power of the banking community is evidenced by the fact that Chancellors, Prime Ministers and even  Presidents are having to say “Please do something about your bonuses Mister Banker.”  Banking has developed into a multi-headed all-powerful Frankenstein. It is not a simple case of imposing a few rules. What is really needed is a massive cultural change within the banking industry and a massive perceptual change from both private and business clients. If you’re a businessman or work for yourself in any way, ask yourself – ” Am I comfortable with taking business or financial advice  and all the other captive-audience advice that they like to dish-out, from an organisation populated by people who obviously did not heed their own advice and lost billions but have no idea what really happened?”  WATCH THIS SPACE.

    •  I received a letter from a Member of Parliament today. He addressed me by my Christian Name. What’s going on? Paranoid? Moi?

    • The airlines appear to be learning from the banks. British Airways will be charging us again AFTER they have our business. We book a flight and then pay an additional fee  to get a seat. Genius! Can you bring your own seat and pay corkage?

    • There’s only one thing wrong with an Indian Summer. The Global Warming Mullahs will wake from their torpor and deliver the usual speech about our emissions. I think that 4X4 vehicles should be compulsory. Have to go now and have my dolphin steaks and light the coal fire.

    • In the last two years, 150 teachers have been sacked for sexual misconduct. A loss to the teaching profession but what a bonus for the Vatican’s recruitment team!

    • Gordon Brown has been voted World Statesman of the Year – mostly for giving away any leftover taxpayers’ money that Mervyn King has not given to the banks. Brown has been generous to Africa and quite right too. In addition, he has enjoyed many politicians’ or Pope’s ultimate wet-dream. An embrace from Bonio who , apart from being big in the dog-biscuit trade, is (apparently) some sort of Irish pop singer. He plays in a popular beat combo named after some American spy-plane. U2, I think. Crucial.

    • Remember Gordon Brown selling off the UK’s gold to China a few years ago? Who better to value, melt-down anddoitallover again with that pile of  gold Anglo-Saxon tat recently dug up in Staffordshire – wherever that is. Middle Earth?

    • There’s a very exclusive TV Club – the old dears who used to read the news and appeared on the Christmas Morecambe and Wise show in the 50s and who did high kicks andeithermarriedapolicemanorshagged Jon Snow or went to live on a farm in Scotland. Pretty soon, the pre-teens running the BBC andthecommercialchannel will be  playground-bullied into re-hiring these venerable oldsters.  Prepare for News at Ten to look like a re-run of Macbeth, Act 1 Scene 1.

    • In 1959, Typhoon Vera struck Nagoya in Japan. There was a 20 ft tsunami, 150 mph winds and 5000 people died. Did you know that they managed ALL that without Global Warming! They could do stuff like that in the 50s. We have a lot to learn.

    • TV’sDoctorGorgeousappearedtohaveeverything – but he was struck by the one affliction that even he could not cure. He lost the ability to keep it in his trousers. Marriage, Mistress, Divorce, Mistress, two-timed Mistress, Girlfriend.  Best of luck mate. The definitive case of “Surgeon heal Thyself”.

    • In an average week, I speak to 5 or 6 Chief Executives – guys I’ve either trained, coached or who I know personally. This week I had the most weird experience with a company CEO and company owner. He fancies himself as a “leader” but  is just realising that he has recently reached the upper limits of his incompetence. The stress-levels are phenomenal and I shall devote a whole article to him next week. Look out for it – it WILL be libellous!

    • Fantastic evening for crumblies. ITV is celebrating 250 years of Cliff Richard. He hasn’t changed one bit – apart from wearing Frankie Howard’s old rug. Well, it’s either that or a  very quiet ginger cat.

    Friday September 25th 2009

    Friday September 25th 2009

    • The mole who leaked the MPs’ expenses information to the Daily Telegraph has revealed what motivated him to do so – apart that is, from the £110,000 fee that he was paid. It now appears that his primary motivation was not money but the fact that serving soldiers were “moonlighting” at the House of Commons. They were working in the Security department and protecting the Civil Servants who were dealing with confidential matters – one of which was Members’ expenses. Apparently, it wasn’t long before the soldiers realised the extent and extravagance of MPs’ expenses and so glimpsed the comparative opulence and excesses of the politicians’ lifestyles.  The very people who represented them and who had sent them abroad to be shot at. The sums of money involved in the claims that they either saw or were told about were further amplified by the fact that the soldiers were doing this extra work in order to buy decent boots and body protectors and other items which would make their soldiering duties easier and safer. It is currently very easy for us to feel very emotional  when they hear stories such as this – but we should proceed with extreme caution because it now seems that the mole is trying to justify his actions in leaking the information. He appears to be telling us that he now feels vindicated because of the “poor” soldiers and because MPs have to-date returned over £500,000 in mis-claimed expenses. Planes bearing dead blown-to-bits soldiers, processions through Wootton Bassett and full-page photographs of a recently mutilated soldier paying his last respects to his blown-up dead buddy certainly do tug at the heart-strings. Great propaganda andimmaculatetimingbyourmole. Now the facts: The mole received £110,000 pounds from a right-wing paper. Currently each soldier receives Osprey lightweight body armour and£3500 – worth of state-of-the-art equipment – including boots and shoes. The mole’s motives for leaking the information would not be in question had he not accepted such a large amount of money – which one presumes has been donated to the Army Benevolent Fund. I am not a great supporter either of this Government or of the pointless shenanigans in Afghanistan but sometimes there are over-sugared pills which are just too difficult to swallow.

    • One question remains: Why were security men  -serving soldiers or not- allowed to either view or be given  confidential information.

    • China , India and Brazil are to play a more prominent part in G20 and will also have more IMF votes. Currently, China wields 3.7% of IMF votes compared with France’s 4.9%, although the Chinese economy is now 50% larger than that of France and  in spite of the fact that China has over 20 Provinces which each has a population greater than that of France. This looks very much like the dawn of the Eastern or New economies and the inevitable sunset for the once all-powerful West. Regrettably, not only is it a question of size and manufacturing power but the West is currently “in hock” to China. Chinese and Indian savers enabled all of us to be borrowers. Now economists are saying that the East has to create the same free-spending and borrowing consumer society that we have enjoyed for so many years: just look where WE are now! Are we really so well-placed as to be dispensing economic advice?

    • Another New Labour piece of legislation which has been languishing in the long grass for a while is the changing or possibly the removal of the Statutory Retirement Age. It is a shame that there are ex-teachers, ex-managers, ex-engineers who happen to be over 65 and who are now either shelf-stacking, working at B&Q or watching Countdown. What a waste. The Government says that the matter will be dealt-with in 2010, in other words, by the Tories. Meanwhile, at least 300 over 65s are taking ex-employers to Tribunals and yet again, lawyers have become involved. That is New Labour’s one big success – through their intransigence and incompetence, they have produced the best-ever Lawyer Job-Creation Scheme. The Brits have always been obsessed with 65 being their time to stop work, relax, take long holidays etc. Unfortunately in many cases it’s retire, sit around for a bit, die.  We are changing as a nation and it is not purely because of the recession or plundered company pension schemes that people wish to carry-on working. Our “retirement mentality” has gradually been disappearing and people genuinely WANT to work for as long as they can. OK, there are very physical jobs where at age 65, you’re clapped-out. For instance, building, mining or farming. You can punish your body to such an extent that by the time you are 50, you start looking forward to the day when you can stop. However, nowadays many of us are engaged in non-physical work which means that we SHOULD be as fit at 65 as we were at 45. Policies should not be driven by a Government with one eye on unemployment statistics because as usual, public opinion is against them. It’s now time for the Statutory Retirement Age to be abolished.

    • Iran is the world’s fourth-biggest oil producer. No wonder they need to make such a vast investment in nuclear energy. You never know! Or, could it be that the Mullahs want to produce nuclear warheads in order obliterate Israel and/or the USA. That’s not possible because the Koran says that Muslims want us all to be their chums. Here are three quotes directly from the Koran (or Quran if you know your Peking from your Beijing). Here goes: “O you who believe! do not take the Jews and the Christians for friends; they are friends of each other; and whoever amongst you takes them for a friend, then surely he is one of them; surely Allah does not guide the unjust people.” (5.51)  or :“So when you meet in battle those who disbelieve, then smite the necks until when you have overcome them, then make (them) prisoners, and afterwards either set them free as a favor or let them ransom (themselves) until the war terminates.” (47.4)  or “The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His apostle and strive to make mischief in the land is only this, that they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides or they should be imprisoned; this shall be as a disgrace for them in this world, and in the hereafter they shall have a grievous chastisement” (5.33) As I said – nothing to worry about. They’re just misunderstood. Talk of fundametalist Muslims being a bunch of fanatical murdering misogynist psychos is very naughty. They want to love us – as we love them. It says so in the Quran. Let them build their nuclear power stations bombs. It’s for our own good. Just think about all that cheap electricity.

    Nearly forgot: “O Prophet! urge the believers to war; if there are twenty patient ones of you they shall overcome two hundred, and if there are a hundred of you they shall overcome a thousand of those who disbelieve, because they are a people who do not understand.” (8.65)

    • The often misunderstood and misinterpreted thing which suggests that when a  Muslim blows himself up for the cause , he will be rewarded in Paradise with 40 virgins to shag (presumably) -is wrong. Martyrs in Islam are classified as people who die for their religion whereas people who blow themselves up for women are dying for their own lusts. It’s Hell for them. Presumably you need to die with a hard-on. Not impossible – many men do, apparently.

    These are Iran’s main Nuclear sites:

    Thursday September 24th 2009

    • The Government has criticised the Football Association for not reforming itself. It has also asked the F.A to spend more time and resources on ethnics and women as well as telling them that they should provide better leadership. Perhaps when the F.A has completed its restructuring it can then give H.M Government a few tips. Talk about Pot-Kettle.

    • A recent U.S survey shows that many Americans think that Tony Blair is the British Prime Minister. Someone ought to tell them who the real UK Prime Minister is. Darth Mandelson.

    • Mandelson has been quoted as saying that Gordon Brown ought to “lighten up”  a bit. Not THAT smile again PLEASE!!!!  NOOOO!!!

    • What is it about meetings beginning with a “G”? Why is our expectation level do low? Is it because we know that the post-meeting statement has already been written? Is it because all previous meetings were such a monumental waste a waste of resources, time and money? Anyway – who DOES write that n-page statement which announces the next meeting in 6 months? Gordon Brown’s LAST such meeting.

    • Is it true that Obama snubbed Gordon Brown? Obama has had one-on-one meetings withotherleaders. Why not with our own Prime Minister? Is it because of the Megrahi affair or could it be because of the increasingly prominent sell-by date on Gordon Brown’s forehead?

    • Banks are currently reducing their assets and hoarding cash because of liquidity requirements. Put in simple terms, that means that the magic conjured-up money – the so-called Quantitative Easing is making it in through the banks’ back doors but the front doors remain only slightly ajar. READ REST OF ARTICLE

    • In 1998, the Saville Inquiry began its investigations into the shooting of 29 Civil Rights protesters by soldiers of the 1st Battalion of the British  Parachute Regiment. Five protesters were shot in the back and two injured protesters were run down by Army vehicles. Fourteen people died. This was the Bloody Sunday Massacre which took place on 30th January 1972 in Derry. The original Widgery Tribunal concluded that the  soldiers actions could be best described as “bordering on the reckless” . Unsurprisingly, the Widgery report was widely regarded as a whitewash. Hence the Saville Inquiry. Now we hear that the Saville Inquiry will report in March 2010!!! Apparently, there’s a printing issue that needs to be resolved. Once again , this 11-year inquiry brings into focus two great British institutions – queueing and inquiries. Not to mention a steady income for a whole “shark” of lawyers.

    • The anniversary of Lehman Brothers going down the toilet has passed anditisnowayearsincethesolidsreallyhitthe air-conditioning big time. For those who do not really understand finance – and who really does these days, here’s the deal. Politicians and bankers knew for at leat 18 months before the collapse that there was not enough cash in the system andthatmost, if not ALL banks were now standing on foundations of sand. It was only when Lehman had to admit that there was no real money – only paper ” instruments” which could be worth cash , that it was realised that the real currency that the banks had been  dealing-in was bullshit and promises. Politicians are now beginning to strike heroic poses as they tell us how they saved the banking system and that they only-just managed to avert a financial Armageddon. The real fact is that they knew what was happening all along and lived in the HOPE that somehow (they did not know how), the financial system would self-adjust or self-regulate itself back to stability . It didn’t and the solution that is being applied today is exactly the same as that which caused the collapse. Imaginary money. Eighteen months ago, bankers and politicians were HOPING that the system would sort itself out and that is EXACTLY what they are hoping for today. What is really needed is a total restructuring of the banking system but there isn’t the global political will to make that first all-important move.

    • There’s a (denied) rumour that Gordon Brown is going blind. Obviously we all hope that he is not. In spite of the fact that he has all the leadership qualities of damp Kleenex, he is a decent man. The rumour that he is blind has obviously been started by someone who is confusing his eyesight with his policies and management style.

    Wednesday September 23rd 2009

    • Apparently, there is a small but statistically significant rise in patient deaths when junior doctors start work in August. Perhaps the same survey should be done with slightly different parameters: Before pubs open and after closing time.

    • A friend sent me a cartoon yesterday which, for the first time, explained the constant Midde East conflict . Jewish man  looking up at the sky saying, “Now, let me get this straight God. The Arabs get the oil and you want us to cut the end off our what….?” 

    • This snippet explains better than anything the anonymous nature of the Liberals’ leader. Nick Clegg will be delivering the Leader’s rabble-rousing Conference for the THIRD time!! He will attempt to come cross as a TOUGH leader. Doesn’t compute, does it? He always looks as if he’s just taken a “NICE” pill.

    • Justin-lee Collins has said what many are thinking: Bruce Forsyth should have stopped TV presenting three or four years ago. There’s a touch of the Emperor’s New Clothes about the whole thing. So much so that no-one appears willing to say ” Brucie, you are now coming across as an old twat. Piss off”. Instead the poor old bugger is being patronised, allowed to be unfunny (obviously from the tumbleweed school of humour) and worst of all, he’s being referred-to as “sprightly”.An adjective every man dreads because it is THE word which signifies the beginning of the end. It is NOT a compliment. It means that you are past-it and when you attempt to tap dance avec embarrassing Sammy Davis Jr-esque gurning, you look like a swinging cadaver with a ferret up a wet trouser leg.

    • I have just discovered that Chas & Dave have split up.     p.s. I am writing this on Beachy Head.

    • Kristna Rihanoff whose Strictly Come Dancing partner is Joe Calzaghe celebrated her birthday yesterday. Rumour has it that Joe and Kristina have grown very close. I  wonder whether he had any difficuty in wrapping her present?

    • More meaningless military “sincero-talk”today. Acting Sergeant Michael Lockett was blown up by a roadside bomb in Helmand Province.  “There’s now a gap in our ranks that will be so very difficult to fill”  and  “Sgt Lockett’s raw bravery and seflessness cost hm his life but undoubtedly saved that of one of his soldiers.”  are just two more examples from the Army Book of Fine Words. Meaningless twaddle. Sgt Locketthas left behindastrickengirlfriend and three children aged eight, seven and five. “We take solace in the fact that he died doing a job he was born to do” was more puke-inducing bollocks – this time from his father.  Stop this pseudo-heroic crap and bring ALL of our young soldiers back here to the United Kingdom, where they belong. The Taliban certainly do not see these young soldiers as heroes  –  more like fairground ducks.

    • When will the Vatican be called to account over the tens of thousands of children that have been abused by pervert priests? The Catholic Church has been accused at the United Nations Human Rights Council of a systematic and long-standing cover-up. The Vatican is in breach of its obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Handing out MILLIONS in compensation is really not the way forward. It’s customary to pay for sex up-front , not ten, twenty or thirty years after the event. Let us hope that one day there will be a time when the Vatican can close its child-abuse fund and get on with the business of religion.

    • Nothing about Gordon Brown today because he hasn’t said anything new or original. Situation normal. 

    Tuesday September 22nd 2009

    • Did you see Darth Mandelson being questioned on the subject of bankers’ bonuses last night? As Business Secretary, he has the power to stop the bankers in their tracks. But he cannot and he would not answer any bonus-related questions.

    • General Stanley McChrystal, the top US commander in Afghanistan has warned that the war there could be lost unless there is an increase in troops within a year. He is asking for an additional 30,000 troops.  This is truly developing into another Vietnam. Currently, there are 100,000 troops in Afghanistan, 62,000 of whom are American. Time to talk.

    • The United Kingdom is needlessly wasting resources by sending too many average and some downright thick students to University. In fact, there are too many Universities. Hence the current funding crisis. The solution is so simple that even an Education Minister ought to be able to work it out.

    • The worldwide recession and the resulting drop in consumer demand has had a profound effect on industrial production. That has had an unexpectedly welcome effect on greenhouse gas emission – it has fallen by over 40%. Perhaps the Global Warming Mullahs will take this opportunity to shut up.

    • Anish Kapoor, the 1991 Turner Prize winner has a solo exhibtion the Royal Academy. This event is unusual because Anish lacks the traditional qualification for such a exhibition. He isn’t dead. If you enjoy abstract sculpture and/or you like spouting pretentious arty bollocks, then this exhibition is for you. Here’s a nosegay from Anish himself: “That sense of the poem being put together as word objects relates to sculpture in a very fundamental way. Sculpture also has this ability to be what it isn’t. It’s kind of about the illusory and the real.”Quite.  Anish is very keen on vaginas so do look out for the odd wobbly red letterbox shape.

    • The media seem surprised that construction companies and builders have been ripping-off Local Authorities and other organisations which are spending other peoples’ money. It’s been going on for years. This is from April 2008 – CLICK HERE– and it includes a scene from the Coconut Club, which you will be hearing more and more about over the next few weeks.

    • This week is Climate Week – a crucial  week in the quest for a global climate deal. World leaders are meeting at the UN in New York and a G20 summit in Pittsburgh. Meetings such as this have been going on for a few years now so let us hope that the current series of meetings produces something that has been sadly missing from previous encounters. Action. In December the Copenhagen environmental conference will hopefully be the real turning point and turn meetings into agreements into action.

    • Global Warming: Predictions are made using computer models and although the general consensus is that Global Warming is occurring, there are scientists (the so-called “deniers”) who have alternative models which suggest that the Earth will cool before its becomes hotter. Regrettably, the religious-like aspects of Global Warming, treat scientists who deny Global Warming as heretics who are often lampooned andmarginalisedby both the scientific and political communities.  The latest of these is a   Professor Mojib Latif, from the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences at Kiel,  who has suggested that the long-term warming trend could be masked – perhaps for as long as 10 or 20 years – by a temporary cooling caused by natural fluctuations in currents and temperatures called the NorthAtlanticOscillation. It all seems to depend on which set of data is plugged into which computer model.  However, it is the politicians who are the true believers who only appear to read data which supports their dogma.

    • Helen Goddard , music teacher has been jailed for 15-months as the result of a lesbian affair with a 15-year-old pupil. How modern. Not nice – but definitely “of the age”.

    • Rumour has it that Louis Walsh, the Irish spud  and pop manager from the X-factor is going under the knife in order to improve his looks. There must be a long queue of knife-sharpening volunteers. Surprising that he hasn’t yet benefited from sitting so close to that pair of  BotoxedBookends – Simon Cowell and Danni Minogue – by osmosis.

    • Sir Bobby Robson’s Memorial service must have been an ordeal for Paul Gascoigne. There was only one photo of Gazza that the snappers wanted – and they got it.

    • This is the sort of medical research that we like:  If you have alcohol in your bloodstream, you are far less likely to die from a head injury, says Dr Ali Salim from Los Angeles. The findings are based on a 5-year study of 38,000 people. You can’t be too careful. Cheers.

    • Nothing in the Press about Jordan today. Max Clifford must be on a long weekend break.

    • Attorney-General Baroness Scotland is still facing an uncertain future. Gordon Brown, her boss is being his usual decisive self. This is what he said this morning: “We will have to find out what has actually happened and I will have to wait for that report this morning and she will want to answer the questions that are put to her. We will have to make decisions.”  Brown obviously has not been watching the news or reading his Daily Worker. The fact is that Baroness Scotland employed someone who did not have authorisation to work in the United Kingdom. In fact, her papers expired five years ago. As usual, the long grass is quivering in anticipation.

    Monday September 21st 2009

    • It now appears that Womens World  800m champion Caster Semenya was tested ages ago and there has been concern over her sex for months. The issue did not suddenly materialise at the last Word Championships. The whole thing has been handed so badly that there is every likelihood of IAAF resignations.

    • Baroness Scotland will probably resign this week. If every politician who made a mistake resigned, Westminster would be empty by now.

    • It looks as if Megrahi is going to be the first criminal to be retried on the Internet. We’re still awating an intervention from God and the miracle recovery. There has been one previous miraculous recovery by a convicted criminal. Ernest Saunders (1980s Guinness Scandal) was freed by a judge because he was suffering from Alzheimer’s. So far, Ernest Saunders in the first  and only recorded case of a total recovery from Alzheimer’s. The recovery took place soon after he was released from jail. Speaking of miraculous recoveries – Ronnie “released on compassionate grounds” Biggs has been seen out and about on his mobility scooter. Megrahi or Biggs? I’m off to Ladbrokes to make a small investment.

    • The Liberals are having their occasional rush of blood and putting themselves forward as a party of government. Remember David Steel in 1981? “Go back to your constituencies and prepare for government.”  Forget it boys and girls. There’s Vince Cable and Norman Baker and after that it all becomes a bit anonymous. Nick who?

    • The Liberals want to tax home owners whose properyis worth in excess of a million. They will be the only Party whose policies will be derailed by a property crash andonthatbasisalone, this policy has the depth and solidity of  a closing-time back-of-a-beermat “I really lovvve you”  concept. They’re not sponsored by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, are they? This new policy is the Liberals’ biggest-ever lurch to the left. The sort of thing that New Labour would have done when they were Proper Labour.

    • The elephant in the room – the one that no-one is talking about is still there. I am of course referring to the economy.

    • Several big companies, including a couple of large builders as well as the Royal Bank of Scotland will be coming to market very soon to raise many billions. Watch those share prices.  Here we go again.

    • Have you noticed how Kerry Katona’s nose is looking more and more like Danniella Westbrook’s last nose-but-one?

    • The Education bods are gettinng a bit twitchy at Ed Balls’ suggestions of swingeing cuts in Education. It is the designer-suited BMW-driving “advisers” at County Hall who should think twice before renewing their gym membership or booking that holiday in Tuscany. CLICK HERE

    • I did not see Alesha Dixon’s debut on Strictly Whatsit but it sounds as if she had a list of pre-prepared crap written down, dispensed it quite randomly and personalised it by adding bad grammar.

    • Rules are being published this week which will exempt family and friends from being prosecuted after assisting in a suicide.  It is purely coincidental that these rules are being rushed through just before Gordon Brown’s conference speech.

    • Manchester City manger Mark Hughes is complaining that too much time was added on at the endofyesterday’sderbygame with Mancheser United.  Michael Owen scored Man Utd’s winning goal in he 97th minute. Hughes forgets that his team had the identical extra time in which to score.

    Monday September 7th 2009-Friday September 18th 2009

    Friday September 18th 2009 

    • There has been some concern that Romell Broom may have suffered mental anguish when two Ohio State officials failed to find a vein in order to deliver a fatal injection. According to Broom’s lawyer, Broom had suffered both “mental and physical injuries” and apparently became distressed and appeared to cry. Broom was convicted of raping and then killing a 14 year-old girl.
    • We’re too fat, we drink too much alcohol, we’re unfit, we ingest female hormones in our meat  and weedkillers from our vegetables and we’re too stressed. Paradoxically, our life expectancy is increasing.
    • Alistair Darling is engaged in a series of meetings in order to decide where spending cuts can be made. If you’re expecting decisions within the next few months – stop being so silly. Although professional pundits do now have the opportunity to make pointless predictions.

    • Andy Burnham is suggesting yet more NHS changes. The God of Change strikes again! This month’s idea is that we will all be able to choose our GP. I would like one that’s qualified, understands human anatomy and is sober.

    • Baroness Scotland should know that in a Court of Law, ignorance is no defence. Mind you, the Baroness is the Attorney General. Hopefully, hiring someone called Loloahi Tapui(clue!) with out-of-date papers was just an oversight and as such, does not generate a witch-hunt. Oh yes – there’s an enquiry. There’s always a feckin’ enquiry.

    • Suddenly, Jordan doesn’t want to talk about “the rape”. It seems that her PR people are running out of interesting stories. The only remaining possbilities are either  ” I was abused as a child” or “I was abducted by aliens”.

    • Bit of a “to-do” about  unofficial sperm donors. Apparently, ladies can contact a sperm donor  on-line, arrange a meeting and either be handed a container-full of the stuff or on occasion have it delivered direct through the medium of sex. Hence the phrase : “”Bottled or draught?”  Sounds like an excellent service as well as an interesting career move, although it could mess-up the old CV, especially if the CV is printed on a sheet of Kleenex. Just realised that if this type of work is a career, the phrase “hand job” begins to make sense.

    • How would the management at Student Loans UK feel if they were told that because of administrative incompetence, their September salaries will be paid at the end of October. They would probably be quite upset. Next question: How do young kids with the incredible stress associated with leaving home feel-when they’re told by Student Loans UK that their University grants will be paid “about” four weeks late? Why is the beginning of the academic year ALWAYS a surprise? For the record and to help Student Loans UK: The next academic year will be starting in October 2010. Hopefully, that’s enough notice.

    • Scientists at Newcastle University have produced human sperm in the laboratory. Didn’t know that there was a shortage. Just take a chipping hammer to any Confessional carpet.

    • Gordon Brown said today “Cooperation between nations at the G20 summit will be crucial to ensure global economic recovery”  That is probably the twentieth version of the same sentence . It is a truism and it’s boring. Here’s another sentence which I hope Gordon finds as interesting as his own deep thoughts: ” The sun is in the sky”

    • Here is a quote from this evening’s No 10 bulletin: “The Prime Minister is launching a brand new podcast series this week talking directly to you about the big issues of the day. The podcasts, which will be available on our iTunes channel andonYouTube, will be recorded at Downing Street or around the world when the Prime Minister is travelling.”  Wow! That Gordon Brown is so “street”  -using that Interwebthingytoconnectwith the YouTube dudes. Way to go, MC Gordo! Soon,  he’ll be buying a pair of those really cool Levi Strauss blue denim casual trousers with the turn-ups, copper rivets and the little red label. Sound! Should go well with the black brogues.

    • Remember what I told you about the American dollar going into freefall. Soon. Continue reading Monday September 7th 2009-Friday September 18th 2009

    Those damned rules!

    Elliot Morley MP did not “made a mistake” when he fraudulently claimed £800 per month for a non-existent mortgage. Likewise,  Andrew MacKay MP and his wife and fellow MP, Julie Kirkbride knew exactly what they were doing when they were claiming for two “second homes”. Two Labour Lords have allegedly been exposed as a couple of crooks who were willing to take cash in exchange for altering Laws. Again, these were not mistakes.

    The “It was within the Rules” mantra is no longer being trotted out because MPs have realised that Rules express no moral or ethical responsibilities. Chequebooks are being waved about, yet only just over £100,000 has been pledged by increasingly panicked MPs who are not promising the return of cash through any sense of “right-and wrong” because it’s far too late for that.  They ignored the concept of right and wrong and because they have been caught with their closed hands in the till, their self-preservation instinct has kicked-in.

    Andrew MacKay has fallen on his sword in order to  save his wife’s career because his has peaked. She should now be nailed as “accessory” and also asked to resign.

    That bug-eyed louche, professional Mr Clever-pants, Peter Ustinov wannabe and Royal butt-kisser Stephen Fry has offered an opinion and believes that it is all a storm-in-a-teacup and that “we’ve all done it”. No we haven’t Stephen. Mind you, Stephen’s been banged up for naughtiness so his judgement will always be suspect and hopefully he has learned a good lesson. Never talk to a reporter when you are pissed. At best, you end up sounding like a know-all uber-opinionated cab driver. At worst, an ersatz upper-class prat.

    By the end of this week, it will be the end of the beginning for our naughty MP chums  but also the beginning of the end for Gorbals Mick (Mr Speaker) and Gordon Brown, the er…Prime Minister.

    Brown is currently swaying from foot to foot wondering what to do . We have established that his decision-making is on the dodgy side and that he manages through the joint media of the “enquiry” (Macro Management) and the thrown mobile phone and shouting (Day-to-day or Micro Management). He has probably already exhausted his entire repertoire on this one.

    David Cameron has managed to overtake Gordon and will hit the first corner well in the lead because he has made a decision and ordered his MPs to get their chequebooks out and start reimbursing the Public Purse. Gesture Politics at their finest!  He too has a surprise coming because this is not about money any more, it is about the authority of our Parliament. Had the Party Leaders managed their troops effectively and had the grand chequebook gesture happened say a year ago the matter would, by now, be at the “tidying-up” stage. Instead we have what looks like a badly-written Crisis Management case study underpinned by empty words and blind panic.

    Meanwhile, whilst Cameron is temporarily cooling-off in the calming breeze of two hundred fluttering chequebooks, Gordon does what he knows. He looks in the direction of an enquiry. Any enquiry. The ideal enquiry for him would be a “Please make it go away, Mummy” type.

    Meanwhile The Speaker of the House, scarlet jowls quivering as the berates the most upstanding  (and innocent) MPs and sees everything that flies in his direction as a personal threat, also does what he does best. He fails to understand the gravity of the crisis.

    Make no mistake, the Speaker and Prime Minister are now standing shoulder-to-shoulder on the trapdoor and there will be a massive fight as all hands attempt to pull that lever.

    The next stage (hopefully) will be in the hands of the Police and the Inland Revenue.

     

    KFC is not a Knighthood, Gordon!

     

    As a management trainer I thought that I would give Gordon Brown and his motley band of funsters a basic (and free) lesson in management – purely to help then to concentrate their minds.  During this week’s PMQs, David Cameron referred to the “headless chicken”. His brutally eloquent summing up of the Brown style , although unoriginal is perfectly accurate.
     
    There are only a few types of generally accepted styles of management. So which one is the Labour Party using?:
     
    1. Management by Objectives. This is the best-known and easiest to understand  and all other styles of management have this style at their core. You set specific measurable objectives which are agreed and timebased and then you monitor progress. For instance: The banks will have lent £10 billion to businesses by 15th February. Currently, the government’s version is that the banks will lend when they have “regained confidence”.  Perhaps Gordon Brown ought to assign a social worker and a counsellor to each bank to help with their affirmation exercises.
     
    2. Management by Exception. Let the system continue and only intervene when pre-defined objectives are not being met. Do not attempt to manage every single micro process such as fiddling with the VAT at a time when retailers are discounting by 50 or 60 %.
     
    3. Management by Process. Define critical Macro and Micro processes, assign ownership of these processes and monitor and measure performance and progress against pre-determined objectives.
     
    4. Management by Projects. Plan the entire process that you need to complete your goals and set interim goals. Intervene when it looks as if a goal is in danger of failing to be achieved.
     
    Currently it appears that the government has no plan, no time-based objectives and appears to be  creating so many disparate goals that the country is in real danger of losing total confidence.
     
    The government appears to be an observer rather than a shaper of events. The current style of management also has a name and is called:
     
    5. Management by Pissing in the Dark. You attack as many parameters as you can in the hope that something positive happens. Unfortunately you need to hit them in the right order which is unlikely especially if  a. You don’t really understand the root cause of the problem and b. Your head is being eyed up by the man from KFC.

    The one-horse race loser.

    cameron-davis.jpg

    “Davis, that’s twice that you’ve pissed on my shoes. It won’t happen again.”

    David Davis, the ex-Shadow Home Secretary has just consigned himself to that pile of broken dreams and unfulfilled ambitions that is the political scrapheap – and he went there of his own free will!!

    Dave Cameron, being the nice guy that he undoubtedly is, gave Davis a job. One presumes that he did it on the old Mafia basis of keeping your friends close but your enemies even closer.

    Davis is a pretend toff who may have (almost) acquired the accent, the grooming and all that stuff but really, he is in a group of one. You can tell that from the self-inflicted love bites.

    David Cameron is undoubtedly a good manager and if there is one thing that a good manager dislikes it is surprise. Most leaders operate a “no surprises” regime. The surprise that Deluded Davis has presented suggests several things: Vanity, Ambition, a Hidden Agenda and the inability to be a Team Player.

    Those were all good Conservative attributes about 20 years ago but nowadays the Party knows that in order to survive and prosper, it has to behave as a single organism or shoal with just one big fish swimming at the front.

    Those that desert the shoal invariably perish.

    Davis looks like a spud in a Savile Row suit – not quite right. The shoaling instinct among proper toffs is very strong. They can sense a “wrong ‘un” at fifty paces and will occasionally tolerate an outsider but Toffdom is situated well above a triple-glazed toughened glass ceiling.

    Davis has already had one go at penetrating the impenetrable. This current (and last) attempt will finish him. The sad fact is that we don’t give a shit about what he thinks or what his principles are.

    The rambling statement that he read from a flapping sheet of A4 sounded as if it had been hastily contrived by a first-year student  watching Question Time after too many ciders. Of course, the big bonus for us was that we had the treat of  hearing Deluded Davis reading out his own suicide note. Pure showbiz!!

    As he put his hands around his own neck and began to squeeze, he referred to the ‘slow strangulation of fundamental freedoms by this government’.

    He should wake up (if he can)  and smell the Frappuccino. The Tories are going to win the 2010 election. Any laws that are  either too onerous or unworkable can be repealed. As Home Secretary. he could have been the man to reverse the slow strangulation.

    Directorships, chairmanships of meaningless enquiries and possibly Brussells are already beckoning. That is the Valhalla for political losers.

    That well-known funster Kelvin “I am so controversial” MacKenzie will be standing against Davis. All that we need to complete the full set is Coco the Clown and a loose-wheeled wagon.

    Brown Dread

    “So, let me get this straight. You’re telling me that I fucked up. right? Let me tell you something , you punks. You keep messing with me  – you know the sort of thing  – not voting for the Party and showing me disrespect and other stuff. The Crewe caper was a one-off temporary setback. I am still the most popular leader since brownboss.jpg Alec Douglas-Homo. That Cameron punk is a nobody. He shows no respect. Keep an eye on his pretty face. Accident? What accident?

    Those nice Milliband boys – they are like my sons and I would hate to see anything bad happen to them. The Ed Balls boy is harmless but I would hate him to lose th “h”  in “harmless” or even his surname – if you know what I mean.  I hired him and his woman because I know that they will be no trouble – but I have asked Jack to look out for them,  just in case of any more accidents.

    Jack has always been a good man. I like him but I like to keep him close. The only problem is that he has a mouth – the sort of mouth that could lead to misunderstandings and sometimes… very bad accidents. That was not a threat – just an observation.

    That Tarquin Timpson won fair and square and I respect that. Mind you what do you expect with a Labour candidate called Tamsin Dunwoody-Kneafsey. She sounds like a toff – no wonder we lost.

    See? When you think stuff out, you always get to the bottom of the problem.

    I know that there are members with small majorities who know that they are onto a good little earner and who are getting nervous, especially  about their secretaries and researchers scoring a few quid from the red-top Sundays. They think that come 2010, after the divorce , they might have to find a proper job.  All that I have to say to them is – ask yourselves, what is the point of a good clean Parliamentary  job with no heavy lifting if you have no legs? Think about it. Leave it! We don’t have to hurt each other, do we?”

    Toff at the Top

    blairtoff.jpg

     

    Is this the sort of man that we want to lead us? Or shall we go for something like this:

    camerontoff.jpgThe Crewe by-election  is extracting the best and worst from the British psyche. The British working classes worship Royalty and the upper classes, yet at the same time they bemoan the fact that they (the toffs) are out of touch with the average working man.

    They (the workers)  have a chronic inferiority complex  and will always defer to anyone who speaks with a “posh” accent but like to think “we’re all the same really”. We are not all the same.

    Let’s just spell it out:  The working class cannot produce a leader. The working class has only ever produced a handful of decent Members of Parliament and the majority of those attended either Oxford or Cambridge.

    Most working class people have neither the vocabulary nor  the intellect to lead others and they badly need someone to look up to. Generalisation?  You bet it is.

    Likewise, the toffs are all chinless wonders with lots of dosh, even the thick ones get to University because they can pay for it and they don’t know what it’s like to be broke. Another generalisation? Yup.

    We need leaders who can communicate and who don’t regard politics as a nice little earner. That is a very strong argument for politicians who are of independent means and who , on being elected, will not rip off the system because they have just discovered the triple concepts of the “second home”, red wine at more than £3.99 a bottle and researcher-shagging.

    At the other extreme, we have the Pot-noodle eating, tattooed Chav who cannot string a whole sentence together and who is extremely stupid. He  thinks that the current MPs salary is a fortune and if elected as  MP, will make the most of his perks because, deep down, he aspires to be a toff. After all , he is equipped – he has a Burberry baseball cap!

    The choice is ours.

    Edward Timpson is a good bloke and will make an excellent Member of Parliament. So his family is loaded. So what? We would all like to be loaded. Those of you who are currently in the financial shit are there because over the last few years  of New Labours “virtual” plenty, you were given the opportunity to think that you were  loaded. Like a toff.

    Labour supporters and canvassers in Crewe are dressing up like toffs in the vain hope that somehow we will all laugh with them. No we won’t. They are all making themselves look like dicks and should stop it.

    Spygun was born with a plastic spoon in his mouth and being of European rather than English extraction is mildly amused by the Tom and Jerry antics of the British classes.

    Let a semi-outsider spell it out for you: If an individual speaks with an accent; for example a Birmingham, Yorkshire or Welsh accent – he is not necessarily either thick nor working class. Conversely, someone who speaks with a public school accent ( the one where all the words are pronounced properly and arranged into sentences), he or she is not necessarily rich and superior.

    We do make lots of assumptions based on too little knowledge. For instance, if someone speaks with a French accent, they are not necessarily  a homosexual, garlic-chewing surrender monkey. Mind you…………………

    Nearly forgot – this is what we have at the moment:

     

    brownkid1.jpg “Macmillan said that we’ve never had it so good. Well, I’ve never had it! And NO, my left hand isn’t always like this”

     

    p.s. Look at Blair’s right hand in the top photo. That confirms it! They are a right bunch.

     

     

     

    If you answer YES to TWO of these questions, you are a toff:

    1. Have you ever said “Gosh”?

    2. Have you ever been to pony camp?

    3. Do you know where Antibes and Deauville are?

    4. Have you ever read the Tatler?

    5. Do your parents have an Aga?

    6. Have you been to Cowdray Park?

    7. Does your house have a library?

    8. Is there a tiara in your family?

    9. Can you use a bidet properly?

    10. Have you been to Henley and Glyndebourne?

    11. Could you go straight to Harrods food hall?

    12. Have you ever seen the inside of a Range Rover?

    13. Does your name end with the letter “a”?

    14. Have you ever found lead shot in your food?

    15. Do you have HRH before your name?

     

    Party Political Perception

    flake_girl.jpg

    “Vote for the Flake Party”

    What is going to decide who we elect? Will it be policies and promises or will it be something else – something much less to do with facts and figures and much more to do with our imagination and emotions?

    Recently, politicians have started to  plug into our NINE “buying triggers”.

    In the last fifteen years the lesson has been learned that politics and politicians have to be marketed like any other product or commodity and that is why the old-fashioned method of snowing us with figures, policies and all the other paraphernalia of politics has largely been abandoned.

    Here are the nine buying triggers (and if you are in any doubt, have this list in front of you when you watch the TV adverts tonight.)

    1. Health  2. Security  3. Fear of Loss  4. Pride of ownership  5. Ego   6. Ambition 7. Status 8. Greed. 9. Sex

    All advertising contains at least two of the above triggers – except the Cadbury’s Flake campaign.

    All the political parties attempt to sell is numbers 1-6 and at the same time they enjoy pointing out the other Parties’ preoccupation with 5-9.

    Traditionally, the politicians announce policies which they tell us will constitute the battle ground for any election. But do we care? SHOULD we care? Do THEY really believe it?

    The following lesson was learned in the United States and was subsequently  imported by Blair’s New Labour Party :

    The voters who matter, i.e. the one’s without strong political affiliations, vote with their hearts and not their heads.

    Policies are therefore largely irrelevant and in the Britain of 2008, PERCEPTION not fact is God.

    That is what the Blair Organisation knew  and what the Major Rabble was only dimly aware of. The Conservatives ploughed through three more leaders before they succumbed to the Politics of Superficiality and elected Cameron.

    The perception of the old-fashioned politician was of someone formal who talked about money and the economy, spouted statistics, did not care, lacked humility, talked about what was going to happen and who was not particularly physically attractive.

    The modern politician talks about feelings, empathises a lot, wants to present himself as someone with the common touch, is very groomed and  image-conscious.

    So when you are in the curtained voting booth with a list of names swimming before your eyes and you are wondering where you are going to put that cross, remember that you have been pre-programmed.

    Dave the Con!

     What has been electronically removed from the picture below:

    Some say that Cameron is like Porsches, truffles, and Ricky Gervais : overrated – but in the Land Of No Leaders the pretty one is king.

    We had a look at Gordon Brown’s lack of leadership style  so in the interests of even-handedness, fairness and all that nonsense, let’s have a look at Eco Dave, the ozone-free, unleaded, bio-diversified (with the tiny carbon footprint) toff.

    Firstly, he is extremely likable but is he a leader? He does have the pedigree – being descended from a long line of financial wheeler-dealers. He is also one of the many direct descendants of William lV and his mistress Dorothy Jordan. (William and Dorothy produced  at least ten illegitimate children. When he died, William had no legitimate children and was succeeded to the throne by his niece, Victoria). That is why Dave is a distant cousin of our Queen.  It looks therefore, that he is at least genetically programmed to be either a German king mit financial bent or a fun-loving hooray.

    Dave’s educational pedigree is immaculate – Eton and a PPE First Class Honours at Brasenose, Oxford.

    Were his leadership qualities surfacing at Uni ? Not really. He gained a reputation as a nice guy with a predilection for boisterous behaviour – but only in a crowd.

    Most of his adult life has been spent working for the Conservatives with a stint at Carlton Communications.

    He sharpened up John Major’s speeches and witty ripostes at the dispatch box………..ummmm…..we’ll gloss over that one.

    The next bit is from Dave’s own web site:

    In December 2005 David was elected leader of the Conservative Party. He has previously held the positions of Shadow Deputy Leader of the House of Commons (2003), Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party (2003), front bench spokesman on Local Government Finance (2004) and Head of Policy Co-ordination up until May 2005. After the General Election in 2005 David held the position of Shadow Secretary of State for Education and Skills. In December 2005 he became The Leader of H.M. Opposition.

    He became leader only four years after becoming an MP. What does that tell you?

    The Conservatives needed a safe and clever pretty boy. Mind you, looking at a mixture of the best physical qualities of his three or four predecessors, this guy would have won the beauty parade:

    Dave handles himself well at the dispatch box, he is becoming more and more believable, but is he a triumph of style over substance? Does he have the killer instinct. Could he sack his best friend if he needed to? 

    Do you know? I think that he could.