28 February 2011

Gaddafi claims his people love him

Libyan dictator Col Muammar Gaddafi has told the BBC that all his people love him and there are no demonstrations in Tripoli.

Well I've searched the interweb high and low for evidence of his claims and all I can find is a picture of a single western middle aged man showing him the love he clearly craves:

The wonders of Irish democracy

On Saturday I briefly managed to watch a bit of the Irish election count courtesy of RTE and BBC Parliament. And what a joy it was too.

For a start it had none of the ridiculous computer graphic metaphors or useless celebrity comment so beloved of the BBC in recent elections (unfortunately occuring under the watch of Craig Oliver - now No10's chief spin doctor). And secondly the reports from the counts had a supercharged intensity that UK counts just don't have (even in the marginals).

Because in Ireland ultimately every seat is marginal and every preference counts all the parties and candidates have something to play for (at least at the start) and it's where the transfers go that is the most fascinating.

The party of 'Dev' - possibly one of the most odious politicians to infest the British Isles - got the drubbing it probably deserved decades ago. Whether Fianna Fail can come back must be in doubt given Irish voters were more happy to transfer to a rag bag of trots, crooks and terrorist sympathisers than to their traditional party of government.

Fina Gael have an almost equally murky history but with a slightly more heroic figure of Michael Collins in their past. And despite their leader's Enda Kenny's realistic assessment of the country's outlook today I still can't get away from the feeling that Ireland's political and economic problems are unlikely to be solved by another party that harks back to the struggle to free their country from the British imperial yolk in the dying days of the last majority Liberal government in the UK.

But regardless of Ireland's long term future they certainly can teach us how to run properly democratic and engaging elections. And I now see why Labour are running scared of political reform, because they like Fianna Fail were just as toxic in 2010. The fact they got away with holding two thirds of their seats - rather than a quarter - is due to our outdated and unfit voting system. An STV election in the UK in 2010 would have seen Labour getting the drubbing it deserved. It held dozens of seats on a mere plurality vote with the electorate unsure how best to use its only vote to unseat them.

STV would have exposed their true weakness to a wider audience - just as it did for that other political dinosaur on the other side of the Irish Sea.

26 February 2011

24 February 2011

Peter Hain claims 'nobody cosied up' to Gaddafi

So he says on tonight's Question Time

So if this was the case it would be unlikely there would be any evidence of a UK Labour politician warmly embracing said brutal dictator or indeed selling him lots of weapons.

22 February 2011

Labour's smear of Miriam Clegg shows their panic over Blair and Gaddafi

A Labour MEP has written to Nick Clegg trying to implicate Miriam González Durántez in lobbying on behalf of the Gadaffi government.

It's pure Labour smear - straight from their playbook. I have a copy of the official advice from Labour called 'Beating the Liberals - lessons from Lambeth'. In it it gives Labour campaigners the following advice:

"Find one flaw and smear them all. Go negative until swamped by complaints. Then do it again."

Labour know that if the revolution in Libya is successful then the likelihood is that official documents over the roles of Blair and Brown in the rapprochement of the odious Gaddafi, oil deals and the Magrahi release will come out.

The smear is a simple distraction from the big picture that shames Labour and one that they are clearly achingly embarrassed by. Which is why I'm reproducing it again.

Playgrounds are not a children's right

An interesting if somewhat lighthearted story was covered by the beeb this morning. It involves a 10 year old boy's campaign for a playground in his village of Barton on the Sea.

He seems to have upset the mainly elderly villagers who not unnaturally point out the village has a meadow repleat with stream and trees.

Now I'm fully aware of the attraction of the swings for small boys, being the proud owner of three such scamps, but they are equally (if not more) happy running around, getting wet and climbing trees. As a convinced urban dweller I find it somewhat incongruous that swings are a necessary part of growing up in rural areas.

But what annoyed me most was 10 year old Ellis telling the BBC that 'playgrounds were a children's right'. They're not and never have been. They're not even an essential part of growing up.

Sadly I fear 13 years of Labour's conflation of rights, responsibilities, entitlements and access to services has left young people with little sense of perspective and unrealistic expectations about what can and should reasonably be provided to them by the state.

21 February 2011

A reminder of Labour's ethical foreign policy...

As usual Cicero sums up perfectly.

And contrition is clearly not in Labour's lexicon. Having seen Douglas Alexander on Newsnight, his argument consisted of 'George W told us to do it', 'war on terror' and 'balistic missiles'. Robin Cook will be birling in his grave.

18 February 2011

Today is a good day for liberals

Lots of good liberal things happened in the last 24 hours - all of which have been highlighted elsewhere by bigger and better bloggers than me. And my view is that there's not much point in simply aping someone else's view. So I'm happy to leave the grown up stuff to the others (some of whom you can catch on my favourites over here --->)

Tonight I'm sticking to celebrating with a good tune with some lyrics that sound vaguely appropriate...

Mike Flowers Pops cover

15 February 2011

Some questions for Linda Jack (and Richard Grayson)...

Linda Jack is a high profile Lib Dem blogger and former PPC. She is one of eight quislings led by former think tank chief Richard Grayson who have agreed to help Labour write their new policies (the party having junked everything it stood for last May).

The policy review is being run by the egregious Liam Byrne - the man who sarcastically left a note to his successor as Chief Secretary to the Treasury saying 'sorry, there is no more money.'

Linda has a background in teaching and youth work and proudly proclaims on her blog that she is 'motivated by injustice of any kind'. She justifies her reasons for collaborating with Labour's Byrne led policy review as follows: 'if I can influence ANYONE who has the potential to change things for the better and improve the life chances of our children and young people I WILL DO SO - end of!!!!!'

This aim to influence obviously includes Byrne - who crawled out of a sewer and scraped to victory in the Hodge Hill by-election in 2004 after one of the most disgracefully 'Woolasesque' negative anti Lib Dem campaigns ever.

Byrne's campaign described teenagers as 'yobs' and 'louts' and attacked the Lib Dems for (and I am not making this up) 'not taking any action until they've committed a crime'.


But not content with criminalising innocent teenagers for just being young, Byrne was sure asylum seekers needed to be picked on as well.

He issued a leaflet attacking the Lib Dems on asylum seekers. He claimed the Lib Dems had plans to give handouts to 'failed' asylum seekers on the simple justification that the party had voted against the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc.) Act 2004. An act that withdrew benefits from families, made provisions for detention (no doubt including children), finger printing and other kneejerk right-wing victimisation of people seeking sanctuary.

Just in case you think his campaign couldn't get much lower, he issued a leaflet implying the Lib Dem candidate, Nicola Davies, had given up and calling for her to 'stay and fight'. It is of course an electoral offence going back to Victorian times to issue a false statement about the withdrawal of another candidate and one suspects if Davies had the gumption of Elwyn Watkins, Byrne may well have faced the same fate as his soulmate Woolas.

If you can bear it - a selection of Byrne's 'progressive' leaflets can be found here.

The delightfully monikered 'Lindylooz' claims she isn't in bed with Labour - she's just sitting on it

Well I wouldn't darken his doorstep - let alone sit on his bed.

The Grayson eight - including Jack - need to get real. They are being hoodwinked by some of the nastiest operators in UK politics. If they want to engage with centre left pluralists - there are plenty in think tanks like the IPPR who have the ear of the Labour leadership. There is no need to engage directly with the likes of Byrne.

Unless you are setting out to deliberately embarrass the party.

14 February 2011

Scottish Chief constable's ludicrous pro-merger argument

One wonders if Strathclyde Chief Constable, Stephen House, read my blog post of 13th January - stupidity of SNP police plans - as he launched one of the most ludicrous justification for a single Scottish police force.

His argument is that a single mega force is needed to deal with major incidents like the Derrick Bird shootings, because the small Cumbria police had to ask for outside help to deal with it.

Now there have been a grand total of three such mass shootings in the last 24 years in the UK. I guess you could throw in the occasional terrorist atrocity - but you are still talking about no more than half a dozen major incidents in a quarter of a century in the whole UK - let alone Scotland. I know of no other organisation that would dream of managing itself on the basis of a permanent capacity to deal with unprecedented incidents with the huge amount of resource redundancy that involves.

One suspects the chief constable isn't exactly unaware of the consequent uplift in the terms and conditions to be expected by the holder of a new mega police chief compared with a mere Chief Constable.

This is a big opportunity for the Lib Dems north of the border. They have been a consistent voice in favour of local policing and against the self agrandising bureaucracy and waste a mega force would undoubtedly bring. And they ought to make it their own in the elections to Holyrood in May.

11 February 2011

A valentines' song for grumpy old men...

It's late on Friday, you've forgotten to send your loved one a valentine card and you know after all these years your partner still wants to be cherished despite the bluster (and kids). Well if it can put a smile on the face of uber-grumpy Robert Smith this is for them ...

Friday night for rotten lovers

Enjoy F.

Greater Manchester police prepare for derby day...

Someone in GMP has a sense of humour:

Drunk and Disorderly Inn

10 February 2011

Risking the wrath of Lib Dem councillors...

Today's news that leading Lib Dem councillors have published an open letter complaining about spending cuts and the bluster of Eric Pickles in the DCLG is not really surprising. Local government is always first in the firing line and the especially deep cuts it is facing was always bound to cause angst among Lib Dem councillors - most of whom are motivated by providing good quality services - particularly for those most in need. So public disquiet from this source was always likely.

It has also been clear for some time that Pickles is the least competent cabinet minister and his 'blunt' speaking style getting in the way of sensible relations with local government - and therefore harming the decentralisation agenda that everyone involved in local politics is desperate to see delivered.

But, but... the way in which the letter was phrased made it easy for Labour (and their friends in the BBC) to simply (and lazily) report it as support for the Balls line of 'too far, too fast' - which is sadly in danger of taking hold as the accepted view.

The line is of course balls - the cuts are about the minimum needed to start to restore the public finances after 13 years of Labour pillage. By 2015 the government will owe more than it does today - but the rate of increase will have slowed. Public spending will be about the same level as it was after 10 years of Balls and Brown - but effective spending will be less because debt interest payments will be much higher. This is why getting control of spending is so important.

I wish instead of parroting Balls the councillors had chosen to simply focus on the case for hurrying up reforms that will give local government the freedom to raise revenue in new and different ways.

The coalition and the Lib Dems in particular cannot allow Labour to win the argument about the cuts. These cuts are Labour's cuts - manufactured in no.11 under the direction of Balls and Miliband. Every local authority job lost, every library closure and every vulnerable person left behind is a consequence of Labour's 13 years of hubris and incompetence.

Lib Dem councillors should not be allowed by the government to go into May's election taking the flak for Labour's cuts. The coalition must do far better in apportioning the blame for the financial crisis the country faces - otherwise there will be more embarrassing open letters for the party to deal with and more chance for Labours lies on the deficit to be believed.

8 February 2011

Voluntary sector addicted to government handouts

In all the fuss about the 'big society' - whatever it means - the absurdity of the 'professional' voluntary sector has got lost.

This morning we had the sight of Dame Elisabeth Hoodless, outgoing director of the council for voluntary service, complaining to BBC breakfast, that spending cuts made the big society impossible. One of her reasons was that they needed government money so that they could get their volunteers' criminal records checked.

That simple juxtaposition shows just how the state under Labour got too mighty and overweaning and ought to show to forward looking leaders in the voluntary sector that reductions in public spending are an opportunity not a threat. Sadly for people like Dame Elisabeth, many have clearly become so addicted to public cash that the threat of its withdrawal makes them act like some shambolic smack addict who cannot see past their next fix.

5 February 2011

Yougov poll blunder

I was polled by Yougov yesterday. It was clearly a poll funded by some malingering trotskyite trade union with various leading questions about the horrid cuts.

But the poll contained two significant blunders. Firstly many of the questions confused government 'debt' and the government's 'deficit'- no doubt to the satisfaction of the union's political masters in Labour (who are deliberately confusing the two).

But most significantly in the voting intention question the Liberal Democrats were referred to as 'The Liberal Democrat Party', while Labour and Conservatives were described correctly. The Lib Dems were described correctly elsewhere in the survey.

Now question wording matters in market research - a lot. And as Yougov has consistently provided lower poll numbers for the Lib Dems than any other pollster - it's important to know whether it's a reflection of reality or a problem with their methodology. I don't know what the effect of getting the name of a party wrong (and adding a level of confusion to the participant) but it will impact on the findings.

I'm assuming it is a cock-up rather than conspiracy - but even so an organisation that wants to be taken seriously as a pollster ought to employ a proof reader to ensure consistency and accuracy in their questionnaires.

4 February 2011

Exclusive - sneak preview of Labour's new ppb

I gather it involves a serious discourse from their new shadow chancellor about the causes of the country's economic difficulties...

Preview of Labour broadcast

(With thanks to Tabman)

3 February 2011

It's back to the eighties in Liverpool

With the announcement today that the Labour leadership of Liverpool city council won't cooperate with the government because it has to spend more time with its redundancy notices, I thought it might be appropriate to dig out an old classic as a reminder of Liverpool under Labour rule...

Taxi for Mr Anderson

Why Israel ought to be welcoming an 'Arab spring'

First Tunisia, now Egypt - it looks like the winds of change are blowing through some of the most authoritarian, corrupt and undemocratic states in the middle east. Whether these democratic movements succeed over the long term in either of these states or even spread to some of their more unsavoury neighbours it's probably too early to say.

But the idea mooted in some quarters that these democratic uprisings could be bad for middle east peace and the security of Israel is patent nonsense.

The more of Israel's neighbours that join it in the democratic community - including full rights for women - the better. Democracies rarely launch all out wars on their fellow democracies.

But a fully democratic middle east would put the spotlight back on Israel and its human rights abuses in the Palestinian territories. They could no longer use the excuse of being the only democracy in that part of the world as a virtue they alone are defending or have the easy rebuttal of referring to their arab accusers' oppressive and antidiluvian actions which have subjugated their people over generations.

Perhaps that's why some of the more unsavoury right wing elements in Israel and the US are worried by events in Tunis and Cairo.

1 February 2011

The window 'slams shut'

So in the cliched world of football the transfer window has 'slammed shut'.

My team - Hibs - have made a few interesting signings which will hopefully be enough to keep us in the Scottish top flight, but as we've lost the last seven games and not scored a goal this year - it's going to be a tough fight.

But the transfer goings on south of the border - with the usual eye popping amounts being spent - particularly for the less than special Andy Carroll make no sense in a time of austerity.

The fact that a truly great footballer like Kenny Dalglish pays £35 million for a player with almost no pedigree is bizarre - even if his club is flush with cash from the deep pockets of oligarch-backed Chelsea.

I came across an interesting site today - measuring worth - that tries to make historical comparisons of value across time which helps to illustrate just how inflationary football fees and pay have been.

In 1960 the maximum wage for footballers in England was £20 per week - somewhere between £350 and £1,000 per week in today's money (depending on how you calculate it) - less than what John Terry earns in an hour.

But the most interesting thing about the site is its claim that the Archbishop of Canterbury earned £15,000 a year in 1896 - somewhere between £1.2 and £13.5 million today.

The question this raises is it better to have the Archbish earning superstar wages and footballers the average - or the other way round?