"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen."

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Feeling Under The Weather?

(Click to enlarge)
H/t: Grumpy Old Twat

Stan's Summer

Go and have a read; it's like being there yourself!

"Retirement, something happens and every bastard wants to sleep in van at lochside, is like Candice Marie and Raymond from Nut in May, pair of stupid, fucked-up, calorie-counting, bird-watching, shitbrain useless mouthy bastard, only on wheels, Look at Us, here we are in our camper van, Silver FoxesRus."

Liar, Liar Balls on Fire

On the basis that you can never have too much of a good thing, here's a link to Fraser Nelson's account of a telephone call he received today from Ed Balls:

'He instructed me to "take that post down now". I thought he was joking: has there been some change to the constitution where ministers now have power over the media? But he was deadly serious. "You should not call me a liar," said Balls. I told him that if he doesn't want to be called a liar, he shouldn't tell lies."

Brilliant work from Fraser. You'll find more graphs and more detail at the link above, together with Fraser's updates.

Drip, Drip, Drip

Harry Cohen MP (Lab, Leyton & Wanstead) and top trougher has announced he'll be standing down at the next GE.

He'll be best remembered for saying: "I am almost certainly the most professional MP Leyton and Wanstead has ever had, and that includes Winston Churchill," thus proving that delusional thinking isn't confined only to the PM. Good riddance - but Go Now, let's have a bye-election instead of you hanging on with all your other mates collecting salaries, perks, allowances, transitioning payments, golden goodbyes and final salary pensions. Just Go.

A Europe Of The Regions

The EU doesn't merely 'like' the breaking up of nations, but actively encourages it. Here are two articles about what's happening in Belgium and Spain. The end result could be many local inconsequential regions with an over-riding, unaccountable monolithic bureaucracy in Brussels. If I were Scottish, I'd be rather more circumspect about the EU's promotion of devolution and independence from the UK. Barroso and his pals aren't William Wallace.

Lenient Jail Terms For MPs

Following recent posts highlighting the leniency of jail terms (up to twelve months max) for MPs tried and convicted of offences uncovered in the expenses scandal, an article in the FT quotes Claire Shaw, a lawyer at Pinsent Masons and a former Serious Fraud Office prosecutor, as saying it was “hilarious” to see rules floated that would impose lower sanctions on parliamentarians than on the person on the street. She said: “They shouldn’t be passing a special act for MPs which has a tenth of the penalty the wider public face.”

The criticism is an embarrassing counterpoint to government attempts to clamp down on business and consumer fraudsters, by raising the maximum jail term for the offence from seven years to 10 years.

They do like to set their own rules and create their own loopholes, don't they?
Full article here
Link to previous post on Parliamentary Standards Bill

A Double-Dipper

The prospect of a double-dip recession is finally being raised by the msm this morning with an article in The Independent. Despite the government's attempts to place a different interpretation on the recent comments of the OECD it's now being reported that:

"Britain remained "deep" in recession and faced a "bleak short-term outlook".

"The recovery is likely to be slow and unemployment is expected to climb significantly," it said, adding that the Treasury could do "considerably more" to fix the public finances.

Both warnings are at odds with recent market optimism and so-called green shoots suggesting that output in the economy may be recovering. But the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), which includes the Bank of England, the US Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank, said it feared that the problems of the world's banks are far from fixed and could easily trigger a so-called "double dip" or "W-shaped" downturn. "A major cause for concern is the limited progress in addressing the underlying problems in the financial sector," it said.

"A significant risk is therefore that the current stimulus will lead only to a temporary pick-up in growth, followed by protracted stagnation."
Latest figures from the ONS show the sharpest decline in GDP for 51yrs

Monday, 29 June 2009

An Excuse To Post A Beautiful Painting

(Ajax & Cassandra by Joseph Solomon)
Well, I like it and it fits my mood at the moment. Poor Cassandra.

Only Governments Change

Policies don't. Cameron said: "Same destination, different path." Brown's Britain isn't the only thing feeling shrivelled, washed up & hung out to dry. Have this to be going on with:

Voice Of The Resistance

Voice of The Resistance says what we all know: appeasement is weakness and the ultimate price could be insurrection.

The education policies of successive governments say: Look on my works, Ye Mighty, and Despair

Of Immigration, Welfare & Broken Bones

Fraser Nelson at The Spectator has been doing some digging and analysis of ONS statistics on our behalf. His article highlights the double-whammy impact of Labour's policies of unfettered immigration and the promotion of an unsustainable benefits culture. Not only have Labour refused to acknowledge the problems but they've positively encouraged them until we now reach the final stage where they form the dubious bedrock of our country.

Make-or-break time has been and gone, lost in the last twelve years of manipulative Labour governance, and the broken bones of Britain have re-set, twisted and useless. As any surgeon knows, the only way to restore functionality is to re-break and start from scratch, and who has the heart or will to do that?

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Brown Outspends Obama

A scary video, produced by Heritage, Americans for Prosperity and Reason TV.

What can be worse than that? Gordon Brown can. Obama will borrow more during his presidency than all 43 of his predecessors but Great Leader Gordon will borrow more, per capita, in the next two years than in the whole history of our national debt, since it was instituted in 1693.
Nicked from Dan Hannan.

Sunday Round-Up

The Observer: Blunket involvement in recruitment companies/DWP fraud investigation
Darling/King stand-off. King: "I can do no more than issue sermons or organise burials"
The Sunday Times: Darling ducks responsibility & abandons Comprehensive Spending Review
Thank you, you no-mark, head-up-your-a*se, Fabianistasi traitor, thank you very much
The Sunday Telegraph: Raynsford & Bercow lobbying ties tip of the iceberg
German Courts expected ruling on Lisbon Treaty latest
Goodwill by name, goodwill by nature
The Independent on Sunday: Disclosing 2nd salaries backfires on Labour
The Mail on Sunday: I've learnt a new insult: scuffer
Govt attempt to link Diamond Jubilee & Olympics snubbed: 'The Olympics are just a one-off event. The Monarch and her reign is ongoing.'
Pajamas Media: In a town near you - probably

Sunday Solo

I thought this little gem was worth a post of its own: civil servants have fabricated more than 2,000 job applications and concocted hundreds of false names to try to catch out managers.

Work and Pensions Secretary Yvette Cooper’s department has secretly applied for 1,000 separate jobs with made-up CVs. The bizarre operation is designed to reveal whether employers turn down applicants simply because of their names. It could lead to a law banning firms from asking for job applicants’ names until the interview stage, amid claims that such a measure will also help women combat sexism.

A DWP spokesman said the department had responded to 1,000 job vacancies using false identities but with very similar CVs to see if a person’s name was a factor in whether they were given an interview. Officials put in two or three applications per job, with one under 'a traditional Anglo-Saxon name' (what would that be? Aethelwulf? Godric? Grendel?) and others using an ethnic minority-sounding name.

Solicitor-General, Vera Baird, says no-name CVs will put an end to what she calls 'pregnancy-discrimination' against women. She's piloting Harman’s Equality Bill through the Commons and confirmed the no-names job application rule could be added to the Bill.

Employers’ organisation the CBI called the proposals ‘unethical, underhand & unrealistic’.

The government taxes you to kingdom come and then uses it to fund black ops against you. When are we going to stop playing ball? By the time they're kicked out they will have done so much damage it will take a truly radical incoming government to reverse the worst of it - and I don't think Cameron's Conservatives are up to it.

The Mail on Sunday: 2,000 fake job applications by government

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Click! What A Picture...

Courtesy of: Tractor Stats Recycled

A Rough Guide To Internet Censhorship

It's an international business that has great potential for further expansion as recessions deepen and social unrest increases: Wikileaks.

This is how China's answer to GOT responded in February when the State threw up its Golden Shield, the Great Firewall of China, in order to 'sanitize thousands of sites and social networks' - all in the name of harmony, of course:

I suspect we'll soon be hearing a lot more of the word 'harmonisation'. It's already very popular with the EU when it talks about taxes, measurement systems, educational qualifications, crime measurement statistics and so on.

In the UK we have the IWF (Internet Watch Foundation) which, you'll be pleased to hear "operates independently of Government". But, wait a minute, they also say they're "closely supported by the Home Office, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Ministry of Justice as well as working with the Department for Children, Schools and Families and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and a number of Parliamentarians, Peers and MEPs who take an interest in our work." They're also partly funded by the EU.

I'm clearly going to have to bring my techie skills up-to-date.
UPDATE: Spyblog picks apart Gordon's UK cyber security - no democratic accountability

The Military Covenant

The core principles of the Military Covenant also extend to the RAF and RN.
Soldiers will be called upon to make personal sacrifices - including the ultimate sacrifice - in the service of the Nation. In putting the needs of the Nation and the Army before their own, they forego some of the rights enjoyed by those outside the Armed Forces.

In return, British soldiers must always be able to expect fair treatment, to be valued and respected as individuals, and that they (and their families) will be sustained and rewarded by commensurate terms and conditions of service.

In the same way the unique nature of military land operations means that the Army differs from all other institutions, and must be sustained and provided for accordingly by the Nation.

This mutual obligation forms the Military Covenant between the Nation, the Army and each individual soldier; an unbreakable common bond of identity, loyalty and responsibility which has sustained the Army throughout its history. It has perhaps its greatest manifestation in the annual commemoration of Armistice Day, when the Nation keeps covenant with those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, giving their lives in action.
Bob Ainsworth, Defence Minister, said, "Fulfilling our part of the deal is not always easy and takes both time and money."
"As we remember the sacrifices so many made serving our country, we must continue supporting all veterans, young and old."
And how does he do this?
“I previously helped a number of my constituents who served in the First and Second World Wars to get a badge and if anyone in my constituency has now become eligible following the recent extension, please contact my London office and I will arrange for a badge to be sent to you”.

By their deeds you shall know them.

Bob's obviously on a steep learning curve at the moment so here's some help:

Doing Veterans Justice

The Bow Group has just published a brief 21-page report about medical, psychiatric and social provision for our Armed Forces. Here are a few quotes:

“This country is good at honouring its war dead as this costs little…it is not so great at honouring its war living.”

“The sympathy was genuine…but with the greatest of respect, sympathy only gets you so far. She could not have had any idea what I was going through…what I had seen and experienced is a world away from accidents – however tragic – that occur in civilian life.”

“Serving my country has been worse than a personal credit crunch for me. I have lost 2 houses, 1 career and 1 relationship from it, and sustained more health problems than I can count."

“The government says that the NHS is ready to deal with veterans' problems. But the staff aren’t used to dealing with these types of injuries and associated mental traumas, so how can they realistically relate to a soldier? Soldiers tend to let off steam with each other, or other military people – in Iraq the field nurses were throwing themselves over me when bombs were raining down. In the NHS, I was told to take my uniform off for fear of it causing offence to other patients."

“There are a huge amount of problems out there, but the problems are not being tackled due to a lack of knowledge…it’s down to accounting. It’s sometimes cheaper to bury your head in the sand.”

About 8,000 (10%) of the current prison population are veterans: “There is clearly something hugely wrong looking at the prison figures…soldiers don’t go from being brave, disciplined and honourable warriors who serve their country to criminals and bad people for nothing or no reason."

An estimated 6% (about 2,500) of London's homeless are veterans. SW questioned whether the 6% figure was in any way accurate, and suggested the figure is likely to be much higher in reality. SG also queried this figure suggesting that if mental healthcare for veterans was adequate disproportionate numbers of ex-service personnel would not find themselves homeless.

Taken from Doing Veterans Justice: Conversations with the Forgotten Fighters

Please read the whole report, it will repay your time. There's also a comparison with the medical and welfare provision of other countries and recommendations which any incoming government should take up.

Slash the jobsworths, burn the quangos, salt the RDAs and release the money for our Armed Forces.

Royal Navy

Royal Air Force

The Army

Armed Forces Day

I inadvertently knocked out the integrated link to more information - here it is again.

On a related matter, Guthrum, at Looking For A Voice, needs help after a run-in with the council over the flag of St George and a flagpole. "The St George's flag had connotations of association with far-right politics and they felt very uncomfortable about this."

Friday, 26 June 2009

Friday Post

"The Righteous have been allowed to control us for so long now that they think there are no limits. They can push and push and meet no resistance. They are looking at it the wrong way. Rather than pushing a compliant jelly, they are stretching an elastic band of patience. They will meet little resistance in doing it, just the same, but unlike the jelly they think they are pushing, which would eventually collapse, the elastic they are pulling will snap.

When it does, it will hit them in the eye. And once it snaps it cannot be mended.

I'm sure there are those who want us to riot, so they can have an excuse to impose even stricter controls. I have always thought it was a bad idea to give them the excuse and still do, although I now wonder whether they will be able to impose any controls at all when the public finally snaps. These ever-more-insane petty attacks have put the public in the position where they now see the councils, the police and especially the worthless tyrants in uniform known as C3POs or something equally irrelevant, as their enemy. Once they start to retaliate, are they going to listen to more pronouncements from those they already regard as the enemy?

It has already gone too far. The camel's back is creaking under the strain of one more straw, one more straw, one more petty and pointless little straw. It's proved to be a very strong back but that final straw is coming. Any day now.

The Righteous think it's funny to wait outside an off licence for someone who has bought a legal product and is carrying it home, then force them to open it and pour away the contents while they laugh. Dance, boy, dance for your master. When that elastic snaps they will see what real fury looks like and it will not be wearing a uniform and it will heed no rules. Fury calls no man master. Rage does not care what names you call it. Anger uses sticks and stones, not names.

One more tug on the elastic, Righteous. Keep pulling. Sooner or later, one of your petty little control freaks will pick the wrong target.

And then..."

You can read Leg-Iron's complete article at Underdogs Bite Upwards

Rise Of The SuperState

The first video was removed by YouTube - here's something similar - soundtrack changed:

It's For Our Own Good

We must be protected.

"There is growing evidence of the need for a truly pan-European response to what is a rapidly accelerating threat across the whole of the EU – and to its businesses and 500 million citizens."

Britain has been holding talks with the US and Canada to co-ordinate operations against cyber-attacks by foreign powers, terrorists and criminals, which is all well and good but we all know that governments can't stop interfering. So, under the cloak of protecting critical infrastructures the tentacles of state intrusion will extend further into our lives. They just can't help themselves.

"The EU is committed to rolling out high-speed broadband connections to all its citizens ... Unfortunately, while the internet offers great opportunities in our daily lives and in business, it is increasingly used for illegal gains."

They want the internet.

Tackling cyber crime

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Horowitz & Chopin

On your mark...

Prepare To Repel Boarders

Joe Public, the 'Man on the Clapham Omnibus', doesn't forget and, one day, he will speak ...

... whether governments like it or not.

With thanks to Flying WarPigs for the graphics.

Absolutely, Totally, Completely Hacked Off

When I started this blog a couple of months back I'd been made redundant (and no, I haven't yet found another job as you can tell from the frequency of the posts) and I thought that blogging about life through politics, lightening it with cartoons and throwing in some favourite poetry and music would help me get it off my chest & at best I'd learn something new and, at worst, I wouldn't be bothering my apolitical friends.

And now? Wrong. No-one should be apolitical. Politics dictates our every move; it governs our lives; it guards our words and polices our thoughts. It does away with habeus corpus, the right of assembly, the right of free speech, the right to a trial by a jury of our peers and so much more; you only have to look around you to know that this is true.

When what you've suspected, joked about, laughed at for so long is splattered full-in-your-face-custard-pie-fashion by John Kampfner today, it's time to stop messing around and hoist up your colours.

How many times will we keep taking the kicks up the backside from this government?
How many times will we say, "Oh, thank God, there'll be an election soon."?
How many times will we say, "It's just EU nonsense and won't apply to us"?
How many times will we sit back and say, "Ah, what can you do? That's just the way the world is"?

There'll be no more red hot pokers, heated by Mandelson & Blair and inserted by 'Patsy' Brown up my fundament. I want to take the poker out of their hands and shove it up their own backsides.

Goodnight Vienna's south-going-derriere has been roasted on an open spit once too often - and that's as close as any government is going to get. Since this govt seems intent on taking us back to the Middle Ages, I don't care if I end up a toothless, old, foraging hag dressed in rags living on nettle soup spouting Shakespearean quotes & frightening the children: no government controls my life. So, Sh*t-for-brains-Patsy Brown, Mandelson and, yes, David Cameron: prepare to repel boarders.

I'm Still Angry

The cynical manipulation, the contempt, the total disregard, the flagrant abuse, the utter, utter b*stards.

Marrakesh Mandy: Suk Mai Dik

2nd time around for this pic from Flying WarPig

Eye-watering Iraq Inquiry#2

One question I ask on a fairly regular basis is: Can this rotten Labour government possibly plumb new depths? Today they resoundingly respond: Yes, we can!

The Spectator has an article pointing up a piece by John Kampfner of the New Statesman (Full article here.)

"Not known until now is one vital part of their negotiation. Mandelson – on Blair’s behalf – set down specific conditions for the Iraq war inquiry. The deal, I am told, was explicit. Not only would the hearings be fully in private, but that the committee would, as with Hutton, be manageable. Brown was instructed to ensure that the members of the inquiry would, in the words of one official “not stir the horses”. Brown readily acquiesced. He was not in a position to do anything else. It was a done deal, even before James Purnell sent alarm bells through Downing Street with his resignation on the night of June 4.

"Mandelson’s involvement in this affair is more complicated. He has personally less to hide than Blair, Campbell and the others who were intimately engaged in the war planning. His motivation hinges around preserving the Blair Brand that he was instrumental in creating. He agreed a year ago to join Brown’s cabinet in order to ensure that the Brand was not sullied. He agreed to prop up the prime minister earlier this month in order to ensure that the Brand was not completely destroyed."

If your stomach's strong enough, go and read the whole article; they sicken me to the pit of mine so excuse me while I:

Eye-watering Iraq Inquiry

How many Popcorn Days is this government going to give us? It's constantly bedevilled by confusion, climbdowns, u-turns and a general refusal to accept culpability for anything; the Opposition's Iraq Inquiry debate yesterday was no exception.

Ten days ago, Brown said, "The primary objective of the committee will be to identify lessons learned. The committee will not set out to apportion blame or consider issues of civil or criminal liability."

Yesterday Miliband said the Chilcot Inquiry wouldn't establish civil or criminal liability but: "Everything beyond that will be within its remit. It can praise or blame whomever it likes and it is free to write its own report at every stage."

Michael Mates, former Northern Ireland minister, said the eyes of Chilcot's committee would water when they saw the legal advice by former attorney general Lord Goldsmith. Goldsmith questioned the legality of the war on 7 March 2003, only to rule on 17 March – the day before the Commons debate authorising military action – that it was lawful.

Mates, who saw all the legal advice as a member of the Butler committee, said: "There are papers which have flown between very senior representatives of government and ministers...which will make certain people's eyes water."

Tony Blair's resistance to the Inquiry should make him an ideal candidate for giving evidence in public and under oath.

The lack of MPs attending the debate was also noticeable - at one point there were only twenty-three gracing the benches with their fat backsides and no government minister at all. (Perhaps they were enjoying the conviviality of one of the many tax-payer subsidised HoC bars or restaurants?) Minutes before the vote, they flooded in.
Article in The Guardian

Tories' New Attack Ad

Good message; terrible music:

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Psychedelia & Gordon Brown

This made me laugh out loud. It's courtesy of the excellent Tractor Stats Recycled

This Video Shows Why ...

I just don't like John Bercow:

And that's why I've written little about him since he became Speaker - I'm trying to be fair to the man and give him time to bed in - but he's not making it easy.
H/t: Iain Dale

Voice Of The Resistance

Please visit Lord Elvis of Paisley and read his post: Voice of the Resistance

"There is a rotten core in this country that is eating away at our rights and our democracy. It is well hidden and well disguised, but it is there nonetheless. In my opinion the whole expenses scandal has been a deliberate and well-planned attempt to undermine our sovereign Parliament and allow the unelected and unaccountable forces of darkness to sieze control.
What I am proposing in essence is a mutual defence initiative for right-thinking bloggers. If one of us is attacked, then that is an attack on all of us. Divided we are weak, together we are strong."

This is something I've blogged about in the past - probably tagged under something like Parliament, EU or NWO or, even, Cockwafflers Extraordinaire.

Pignuts for Flying WarPigs


Michael Foot, 93, has agreed to come back as leader of the Labour party when Gordon Brown is finally ousted as PM. Scary thought, scary pic.

PMQs Video: Clegg/Brown Exchange

UPDATE: I've just realised why Bercow has such a problem hearing in the Chamber - the speakers which are set into either side of the Speaker's Chair are set at normal height and so are too high for his ears. He'll have to sit on a couple of cushions.

PMQs Video: Cameron/Brown Exchange

The Parliamentary Standards Bill

Just a quick point on this Bill which was introduced in the House yesterday and the new Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) it will create "to regulate the system of allowances, set rules to deal with financial interests and put the requirement for a code of conduct for MPs on a statutory footing."

IPSA will have the power to refer matters to the police and creates three new criminal offences including:

  • knowingly providing false or misleading information in a claim for an allowance, for which the maximum sanction is up to 12 months custodial sentence or an unlimited fine.
Something's lost in translation here. The reason the maximum jail term is restricted to below 12 months, no matter how serious the offence, is because MPs who serve jail terms of more than that are barred from voting in the House and from standing again.

Extract from Factsheet GO6: Disciplinary & Penal Powers of the House

"A person sentenced to more than one year's imprisonment or detention for an offence committed in the UK or elsewhere (including those repatriated from overseas prisons) is disqualified for election to, or if already a Member of sitting and voting in, the House or its Committees. This detention is relevant if served in the UK or Republic of Ireland and is also applicable to a person unlawfully at large during the time the sentence should be served. The seat of any Member so disqualified is declared vacant and a new writ issued for a by-election. (Representation of the People Act 1981, ss1,2; Repatriation of Prisoners Act 1984, s7)."

And that's why the maximum jail term is so low; any MP investigated, tried & convicted of an offence and who subsequently serves, say 6 months, at Her Majesty's Pleasure, will find no parliamentary obstacle in his way to resuming his seat in the House.

PMQs: Verdict

A zinger for Cameron this week; Brown had lost it by seven minutes in. Will post the video asap.

The usual planted first question from a Labour backbencher to open which earned a ticking off for waffling from the Speaker but was rewarded with a well-rehearsed response from Brown.

Cameron used his six questions to focus on capital expenditure up to 2012 & the economy and the discrepancy between what Brown says and what the figures show. Cameron questioned not only Brown's spin but his character and judgement as well. "The entire country will have heard one very important thing, this Prime Minister cannot give a straight answer and he's not a big enough man to say he got it wrong." All Brown could do was fall back on the 10% Tory cuts line and other tractor-stats. It just doesn't work - even the msm are reporting that Labour will have to cut by at least 10% as well, if only they could be honest about it.

Clegg's first question: "On the question of the Gurkhas the PM was wrong and forced to back down; on MPs' expenses he was wrong and forced to back down; on the Iraq Inquiry he was wrong and is now being forced to back down. The only gear left for this govt seems to be reverse, so when will we hear that he is wrong too on public spending?"
Brown: "I am not wrong... it is the Liberal Party that wants to cut public expenditure not the Conser..er...not the Labour Party." As you can probably guess, that one got a huge laugh. Clegg did a good job highlighting the spin on the economy and seems to be back on form

Interesting question from Duddridge (Con) "Can the PM confirm whether he has had any correspondence, emails, telephone calls or texts from Damien McBride since the day he resigned. And, just to clear up the confusion that seems to be around it, can he write to the Parliamentary Standards Authority confirming the answer."
Brown: "The answer is 'No' - but isn't it amazing that blah, blah, blah". So, a second unequivocal 'No' from Brown on any contact with McBride. I hope he realises that lying to the House is a disciplinary matter.

Honourable mentions to Bone and Kawczynski (both Cons) this week who had good punchy questions. On balance, nothing for Harper (Con) who raised the stigma against people with mental health problems (good to address) but related it to MPs who had been sectioned being barred from Parliament. Brown, perhaps with an eye to his own future, promised to look into the matter.

Bercow ticked off Conservative back-benchers three times in all for "... far too much noise. The public doesn't like it and neither do I." Wrong! In fairness though, the Labour benches had very little to cheer or shout about today so perhaps it's to be expected the Cons will have more of his attention.

Shameless Labour MPs and their planted questions give Brown an opportunity to reel out his interminable soundbites and tractor-stats. Bercow should look at this. The pace seems to be quicker with more questions being asked and there was a good Bercow slapdown to one Labour back-bencher who tried to sneak in a reference to Tory policy while asking a question on the Defence Budget: "The PM doesn't have to concern himself with Opposition policy."

Bercow ended the session with a short statement of his own: "First, as I said on Monday, when Ministers have key policy statements to make the House must be the first to hear them and they should not be released beforehand. Secondly, I ask that front benches stick to their allotted times; I ask also that the backbench members taking part each confine themselves to one brief supplementary question. In the same vein, I hope that Ministers' replies will be kept to a reasonable length. Finally, I always expect that those speaking in this chamber will be heard so that an atmosphere of calm, reasoned debate will be maintained." Verdict on Bercow: His first outing at PMQs but not a bad start. 'Cautiously optimistic'.
UPDATE: Did anyone actually read this post or shall I just go back to posting a photo of someone vomiting?

* Live Chat: PMQs*

The Daily Politics has gone on 'gardening leave' so I don't know if the usual Live Chat at 11.30am & PMQs from 12.00noon will go ahead. Here's a link to Guido Fawkes Live Chat just in case and here's the link to Live Parliament.

It's Speaker Bercow's baptism of fire and should give a fairly reliable indication of his abilities and commitment to reform.

Paxman Interviews Gewanter

Last night Paxman interviewed Henry Gewanter who, together with John Wicks, should be congratulated for uncensored MPs' expenses now being public knowledge. It's a good interview:

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

French Police On Standby

According to the radio @ 7pm (LBC 97.3 fm), French police are preparing for confrontation this evening with an international anarchist group, "No Borders", who plan to "tear down border controls" in Calais in order to allow the illegal immigrants to cross freely into England. Why don't they just save everyone a lot of trouble and house, feed & clothe them in France - and then blow up the tunnel with the drum-banging anarchos on the other side.

Info on the planning co-ordination is at Indymedia and Calais No Border camp.
Warning: the 'music' on this video isn't suitable for those of a nervous disposition.

One Of Those Days

Held back on the post I had on Bercow and watched him during Brown's Council of Europe statement instead. Left feeling rather flat and, for some reason, the following poem crept into my head and won't leave. Hopefully, it will be normal service tomorrow.

"It's no go the merrygoround, it's no go the rickshaw,
All we want is a limousine and a ticket for the peepshow.
Their knickers are made of crêpe-de-chine, their shoes are made of python,
Their halls are lined with tiger rugs and their walls with heads of bison.
It's no go the picture palace, it's no go the stadium,
It's no go the country cot with a pot of pink geraniums,
It's no go the Government grants, it's no go the elections,
Sit on your arse for fifty years and hang your hat on a pension.

It's no go my honey love, it's no go my poppet;
Work your hands from day to day, the winds will blow the profit.
The glass is falling hour by hour, the glass will fall for ever,
But if you break the bloody glass you won't hold up the weather."

'Bagpipe Music', Louis MacNeice

Brown: Labour's Motivation

Bercow In The Chair

Monday, 22 June 2009

New Speaker

Bercow: 322
Young: 271
Fuk-Yu: 646

None Of The Above

I'm fast losing my sense of humour: Bercow (221); Young (174). Bercow and Young therefore go forward to the 3rd vote and the result is expected between eight and eight-thirty tonight.

Speaker Results: 1st Round

Beckett: 74
Beith: 55
Widdicombe: 44
Bercow: 179
Cormack: 13
Shepherd: 15
Lord: 9
Dhanda: 26
Haselhurst: 66
Young: 112
One ballot was 'spoiled', to great amusement in the Hse.

Lord is out, as is Shepherd, Dhanda & Cormack and it goes to a second round.

Speaker Running Order + Running Updates

Yes, I know that marks me as a nerd but, what the heck, there's worse things to be:
Margaret Beckett: Opens with stale Mike Yarwood (who he?) 'joke'. Cliche-ridden: 'I will speak truth to power'. I don't like her and if she's elected I promise to post GOT's scurrilous video of her.
Sir George Young: His 1st joke better received, actually got a laugh. Says he is 'in the Conservative Party, not run by the Conservative Party' - more laughs. More serious & confident in tone than Beckett with concrete proposals to address 'democratic defecit' probs between Parliament and Govt. Not bad at all.
Ann Widdecombe: Says something is needed between now and the next GE - restoration of trust between HoC and the public. Says in extraordinary circumstances we need someone 'provenly capable of connecting with the gen.public, whom the public recognise & the public trust etc etc etc'. 'Perhaps, by rather vulgar means, I have come to fit that bill.' Calls herself 'a vulgar tribune'. Self-deprecating - nice touch. Talks of 're-balancing power between Executive & back-benchers'. Again, more concrete proposals. Labour front-bench enjoyed her speech too.
Sir Alan Beith: Very little evidence of humour or charisma here. 'Build on the strengths of the House'. Again spoke of re-balancing power between Executive and back-benchers. Wants a 'Family-friendly place of diversity'. Stopped listening.
John Bercow: Cut and blow-dried pompous git doing an impression of a Snr Con back-bencher he spoke to on the phone when soliciting support. Got lots of laughs though. Went into detail about young Speakers, not that he's comparable. Gave an undertaking to serve no longer than 9yrs in total. So far, all about himself. Lots of hand gestures, word emphasis and playing to the gallery. Looks like he's a spectator at a rather slow tennis match. Will be 'a tireless advocate for our political relevance.' Calls himself 'clean-break candidate for change'. A few 'hear-hears' from the Labour benches. Silence from the Cons. He can articulate but that isn't the primary quality we look for in a Speaker of the House.
Richard Shepherd: Straight to the point: 'profound belief in our democratic institutions'; 'nadir'; 'under pressure'; ' disconnected from those who sent us here'. Wanted 'this Hse to represent the very best of our Nation' but found disconnected from public - Parliament had failed; it has become 'something less than the people we represent'. 'We have forgotten that we are not the government; we are those sent by our constituents to hold in check those that govern us.' 'The Executive rules by Royal Prerogative and the creation of another apparatus; we, however, come here with a simple mandate: that we will question, examine and argue with the govt.' Passionate & courageous. I could weep that this man won't be elected. If anyone has YouTubed his speech, pls let me know. This man has no chance.
Sir Michael Lord: Again, no jokes from this Deputy Speaker who's always carried out his duties impeccably. Speaks of constituents, backbenchers, executive. Wants to harness qualities of back-benchers; Hoc needs strengthening against Executive. 'I am a reluctant politician but an enthusiastic Parliamentarian' (another one who can distinguish between the two). Draws attention to govt policy being announced on tv rather than in the House; freedom of Select Committees to elect Chairman; more input from back-benchers. 'Lid has been taken off the HoC and I, for one, am only too happy to let the fresh air in & embrace change...' 'Have not sought to canvas colleagues nor have I had anyone working on my behalf.' 'No time to vote along Party lines'. I wouldn't be too sorry if he were elected, being the best of the also-rans, but he is rather boring.
Sir Patrick Cormack: Lots of background chatter. Invokes the name of Greville Janner (I didn't know he was still alive); perestroika, Vilnjus, Bucharest, Churchill. Poor start. Now he invokes the name of Speaker Lenthall (Cormack is going nowhere). 'I have neither eyes to see nor mouth to speak but as this House shall direct me whose servant I am.' Stopped listening.
Sir Alan Haselhurst: Another Deputy Speaker, 'As 9th candidate to speak, many have already expressed my thoughts'. Media expectation 'unreal'. Apparently, he's 'never seen himself as part of the Establishment'. Talks of length of debates - the Executive -v- the Legislature. Quite a good, strongly-worded speech with more concrete proposals which gained murmurs of approval until he spoke of using Fridays for 'set slots to allow sensible debate on Private Members' bills with divisions on deferred basis the following week'. Cue grumbles of discontent. Haselhurst just lost it with MPs - wtf wants to work on a Friday? Decent and capable chap, but I think his expenses rule him out - as they should many of the others.
Parmjit Dhanda: Says he's been in the race for 12 days as opposed to some who have been in the race 12 months [sic]. Says he's playing catch-up. Sense of frustration. Goes on to attack co- candidates; 'More gold than you see at the Olympic Games'. Talks of the BNP. Talks of need to 'give power away to local people in local communities' in an attempt to re-engage. Talks of Twitter, Internet, One Man & His Dog; wants 'a creche for the House'; "if the next Speaker hasn't implemented that for the House, frankly, I will think they have failed." Stopped listening.

Europe Developed Iran's Internet-Blocking Technology

(Click to enlarge)

According to the Wall Street Journal Iran has one of the world's most sophisticated mechanisms for controlling and censoring the internet, allowing it to examine the content of individual online communications on a massive scale. To help them achieve this they had European telecommunications companies lining up in droves to sell them their expertise and it was provided in part by Siemens and Nokia.

The Iranian authorities can block communication and monitor it to gather information about individuals, as well as alter it for disinformation purposes.

"Deep packet inspection involves inserting equipment into a flow of online data, from emails and Internet phone calls to images and messages on social-networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Every digitized packet of online data is deconstructed, examined for keywords and reconstructed within milliseconds."

So, that much-vaunted, good old European co-operation is finally proving what it's good for - and if you think "it can never happen here", think again.
UPDATE: There's trouble in China too as they plan to incorporate internet filtering software in all new pcs.

Richard Shepherd: The Only Answer

Why doesn't Richard Shepherd have the widespread support of all those MPs on all sides of the House who say they are committed to restoring the integrity and authority of Parliament?

He's an MP (Con, Aldridge-Brownhills) with enormous integrity and experience, who understands the importance of the role of Speaker in relation to the people, who understands that the House of Commons is a place for the voice of the people to be heard via their elected representatives. He understands Parliamentary democracy and marks the difference between being an MP and being a Parliamentarian. And, sadly, there you have it: I've just answered my own question.

If there were any real will in the HoC to improve transparency, cut back on the power of the Executive, hold MPs accountable, improve timetabling for debates and make MPs answer questions in the House (with particular attention to PMQs) they would be swarming round Shepherd like bees round honey. But, as things stand with this dissembling cowardly bunch of self-serving shysters, if Shepherd gets past the 1st round, I'll eat my blog.

As an aside, last week a Commons Select Committee looked into allowing people with mental health problems, who had been sectioned, to stand as MPs and work in government. I thought they already did. Vote Monster Raving Loony Party: Get Gordon.

Links: My Choice For Speaker
Tune In

Order, Order

The procedure for installing a new Speaker:

9.30am: Michael Martin is no longer Speaker of the House. The Chair is immediately assumed by the Father of the House, currently Alan Williams, the Labour MP for Swansea West since 1964.
9.30-10.30: There is a one-hour window for nominations to be Speaker to be formally lodged with the clerks at the Table Office. Nominations must be in writing, and must consist of a signed statement of intent by the candidate, accompanied by not fewer than twelve and not more than fifteen signatures of other Members, of which at least three must be from a different party than their own. No Member can nominate more than one person.
11am: Lists of the candidates are placed in the lobby and published.
2pm: Each candidate is permitted to address the House. The order of speaking will be decided by lot (arranged by the Father of the House). After all the candidates have spoken, proceedings will move directly to the first ballot. The presiding member (Alan Williams) will not be allowed to vote.
4pm: The first secret ballot takes place in the lobbies. Each member will be provided with a ballot paper with the list of candidates in alphabetical order. After half an hour the ballot will be declared closed.
4-5pm: Counting takes place by the Clerk of the House, and as soon as possible the results of the first ballot are announced to the House. If any candidate has received more than half the votes cast, the Presiding Member will put the question to the House that the member becomes the Speaker.

If no candidate has received more than half the votes, the candidate who received the fewest votes is removed, as well as any candidates who received less than 5% of the votes, and any candidates who have voluntarily withdrawn.
There is then a second ballot, and so on, until a candidate gets more than 50% of the House's support.

Dragging to the Chair: Once a candidate is agreed, they will immediately become the Speaker-Elect, and will be conventionally dragged to the Chair by their supporters.

The appointment needs to be approved by the Crown, through the commissioners in the Lords. If the Lords is still in business when a candidate is agreed, he or she can be confirmed straight away, and can ascend the Chair as Speaker.

The proceedings will be televised live on Sky 504 from 2.20pm and the usual link for watching live on the internet is in the sidebar.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Who's Messing With GOT?

GOT's having problems: "...I would be very grateful if as many of you as possible, who have already been good enough to link to the original video, would re-link to this reposted one. Hopefully this will mean that the blogosphere's right to freedom of speech can be maintained.

We must not let the establishment, including the MSM, get yet another foothold into stifling the anonymous blogger's right to freedom of speech, after all, if people weren't interested in what we had to say then they wouldn't visit us in their thousands. Would they?"

TOR: Anonymity On Line

Masses of info at Spyblog.

Tor Project Homepage
You never know when we might need it ourselves thanks to the government's "Eye of Sauron" Intercept Modernisation Programme/Communications Data Bill for retaining and snooping on your Communications Traffic Data etc..

Helping Cameron Brush Up His Accent

'Ve haf vays of making you laugh'. Okay, so perhaps that wasn't funny - but this is:

Link: Cameron asks: Wo sind Ihre Papiere?


Silverstone GP: 1950

Sunday Reflection

Some wonderful pics of England, ancient & modern, all set to Ralph Vaughan Williams' 'English Folk Song Suite'

Sunday Round-Up

Mail on Sunday: Brown 'plans to quit before next election'
News of the World: Brown insists 'no plans to quit before next election'

The Sunday Times: Savage cuts proposed to Armed Forces: Army manpower to Crimean level; Harriers; Type 42 Destroyers. All on the table. "Stark raving mad."
Did Ainsworth mislead the House & the families of 14 killed in RAF Nimrod spy plane that the aircraft had been made safe? "Ainsworth repeatedly said defence consultants QinetiQ agreed the aircraft was safe to fly, despite the company warning that “no statement can, or has been made” to this effect."
Sunday Telegraph: Cameron disowns Clarke's remarks on EU & Lisbon Treaty
European Commissioners obsessed with keeping Cameron at bay until Lisbon Treaty is ratified "Cameron has even instructed lawyers to draw up the Referendum Bill in advance so that he could introduce it on his first day in office."
Expenses of Candidates for Speaker
The Observer: Blair pushed for secret Iraq Inquiry - feared 'show trial' Right, then the only reasonable course of action is to force him to appear and give evidence under Oath.
Ex-Speaker Martin whinges, 'it wasnae me - I was a victim of class war'
The Sunday Express: The Keens face more questions: 'anger among constituents towards the Keens'
Sugar's Apprentice subtitled for the States

J-J-J-J-Jib-Jab: He's Barack Obama

Try JibJab Sendables® eCards today!

The Longest Day

Friday, 19 June 2009

Winding Down

The irony is that the EU is doing it all for us; we don't have to lift a finger.

Don't Go Near The Water

(Click pics to enlarge)

On 12th June, Andy Burnham, our new Health Secretary, called for universal water fluoridation despite protests over 'mass medication' and concern over links to cancer and bone disease.

On 18th June, Burnham stood down as Vice-President of the British Fluoridation Society. I continue to be amazed - not.

Water in Southampton and parts of Hampshire will be fluoridated from next year despite around 70% of respondents to the consultation arguing against the move."

Some references:
Ireland's campaign for fluoride-free water
The effects of fluoride on the thyroid gland
Toxity issues
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Hippies & surfers sometimes get it right:

All Hail Gordon

In an article lauding Mandelson, Gordon Brown also pronounces his verdict on the role of the internet in foreign policy:

"You cannot have Rwanda again. This week's events in Iran are a reminder of the way that people are using new technology to come together in new ways to make their views known."

I wouldn't take that bet. Do the words: "Tibet, Darfur, Congo, China, Kashmir, Gaza" ring any bells, PM? We remember Labour's "ethical foreign policy" even if you don't.

So, you disingenous dipstick, if the internet's such a great tool, what about the people in Britain - aka your 'domestic policy issues'? Here's a reminder: 68,013 have signed up to an online petition asking you to resign in the interests of the country, this country.

Now comment on the influence of the internet you duplicitous 'insert redacted word here'.

Stay Away From The Light ...

Once again we have a wunderkind trying to make a name for himself by advocating medication on a mass experimental scale. I wonder which lobbying organisation he represents on the side? Bioethics Professor Seeks to Drug College Students with Ritalin Before Exams Their words, not mine, so you can happily infer that they're not unbiased. On the other hand, if you sit on the fence nowadays you're likely to end up with nothing more than a painful derriere so brownie points to them. Sometimes it seems like the whole world has an axe to grind.

Anyway, fast forward five months and the story has reached the mainstream press and apparently, unless it's prescribed, Ritalin is a class B drug so possession can lead to 5yrs in prison and dealing has a maximum sentence of 14yrs.

It's also been picked up by The Daily Mail where a Professor Anjan Chatterjee, University of Pennsylvania, is quoted as saying there are too many risks in taking Ritalin unless people are actually ill. He said the U.S. FDA labelled it with the most alarming of warnings because of its high potential for abuse, dependence, risk of sudden death and serious adverse effects on the heart. He also mentioned possible cognitive trade-offs involved in taking Ritalin, such as a loss in creativity, and said: "Being smarter does not mean wiser. The fact that very smart people generating complicated models to distribute financial risk contributed to the current global economic crisis should at least give us pause."

Harris himself argues that it's "unethical" to stop healthy people from taking the drug and that there was evidence it was safe to use. "Change or progress often carries risk. The development of "synthetic sunshine" (firelights, lamplight and electric light), for example, could have forced people to work through the night. However, the answer was not to outlaw synthetic sunshine but to introduce laws to regulate working hours. The same is or will be true of chemical cognitive enhancers." Claptrap. It's bad enough that Ritalin's become an acceptable pharmaceutical cosh for our children: we should be fighting back against that and not encouraging its wider acceptance for adults.

A few of the Warnings:
  1. Marked anxiety, tension, and agitation are contraindications to Ritalin, since the drug may aggravate these symptoms;
  2. Serious cardio-vascular events;
  3. Psychiatric adverse events;
  4. Long-term suppression of growth;
  5. Drug dependency;
  6. Emergence of new psychotic or manic symptoms (my favourite - I'm always on the look-out for one of those).

It's Going To Be A Long Day

A quick reminder that when the furore first broke about the Telegraph publishing uncensored expenses, a constant whinge from our MPs was that it was unnecessarily damaging because they intended to publish all receipts in June. As we can see from what they've released (at a cost to the taxpayer of almost £2m), most of their crimes and misdemeanours wouldn't have come to light at all (the flipping, the phantom mortgages, the CGT, the Stamp Duty & solicitors' fees, etc)

There's just too much for one post so here's a link to the complete 'unredacted' expenses from 'the great and the good': The Telegraph's uncensored Cabinet Ministers' expenses where you can trawl through for yourselves if you want.

Highlights include: Shaun Woodward - 38p for a yoghurt; Nick Brown - almost £19k without receipts, for food; Lembit Opik - £30 for 2 fancy-dress wigs; Rosie Winterton - £890 to soundproof her bedroom; Jeremy Hunt - 1p for a phone call; Eric Joyce (former Army Officer) - £276.13 for an assertiveness training course and Ben Bradshaw deserves a pic all of his own for his £3.25 claim for a magazine:

A Mention in Despatches:
The letter from Shahid Malik, former Justice Minister, over the rejection of some of his claims, was hidden. In 2006, he claimed £2,600 on a 40in flat-screen tv and DVD home theatre system. After the fees office questioned the claim, Malik sent a letter arguing that “natural justice” dictated that it should be paid in full. The letter was removed from his files.

The fact that he designated his cheaply-rented constituency house as his “main” home, allowing him to claim thousands for his designated London second home, was also hidden. He's now under investigation for the second time.
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