The swivel eyed loons have halted manoeuvres against Cameron because they can sniff a winner even though they despise him.

21 Jul 2013 at 09:51

Where are all those panicky Tories who were so frit with the Kippers that they wanted Cameron do deals with them? Is Peter Bone still wanting to have a chat? Is Nadine Dorries still wanting to negotiate? And I doubt whether the splendid Micky Fab is quite so keen on dialogue.

Panic can do strange but predictable things to a politician’s judgement.

It would be foolish to write UKIP off before the Euro elections as I suspect that they will do very well as the National Spitoon Party. They will once more ride high in the polls only to have their numbers diminish in the run up to the election that matters where I would be amazed if they are not wiped off the map. And there are dark jealousy fuelled plots to to clip the wings of offshore Farage who is seen to be getting a little too big for his boots.

Their fox has been run to ground though not yet shot over immigration.

Cameron knows how to use good luck to his political advantage. And he has had a hell of a lot of it. The UNITE vote rigging scandal has been bubbling along for years. For the Tories to have run with it alone sounded hollow and opportunistic. But jump on the coat tails of the Blairites exiled to the Miliband political death camps who decided to put the boot in and you create a lethal weapon of mass distraction.

And It makes Miliband look weak and ineffective for not acting earlier, which of course he couldn’t have. I don’t think that we will be hearing too much about his bravery in slaying the vested interests for a very long time.

There seem to be two schools of thought about how to handle the horrors of the Health Service. Some say it shouldn’t be used as a political football, others think that we should be putting the boot in as it happened on Labour’s watch. Personally, I am a putting the boot in man.

Jeremy Hunt has been remarkably good as Health Secretary. I thought he would be excellent at charming patients and reassuring everyone that the service was in safe hands. Not only has he been politically astute in wrong footing Labour over the one area in which they lead in the polls he has shown strong and tough leadership in getting things done.

The problem for Miliband is does he move his accident prone Shadow Health Secretary the rather pleasant Andy Burnham and admit some form of Labour guilt or let the poor lad stumble on?

A tough one.

So with the economy perking up, crime going down, benefits being capped and education given a dose of rigour the runes aren’t looking at all bad.

And James Wharton’s EU referendum Bill has been a tremendous success in discombobulating both Labour and the Lib Dems. There’s more mileage in this little wheeze too.

But Tory backbenchers are an odd bunch. When things are looking so good (Labour’s low double figure lead is now in single digits, remember Kinnock was running at a 29 point lead in the eighties) you just wonder why some of them come out with such mindless crap as the other day, “another Coalition cannot be an option for Cameron”. Somehow I thought that was for the electorate to decide. And they are less likely to vote for an absolute Tory majority after reading the alternative Queen’s Speech (ban the Burka, Thatcher Day and other swivel eyed loonery) if they think that the the patients are taking over the secure hospital.

The Lynton Crosby problem is still not parked. But it is only a problem and not a catastrophe waiting to happen. The Brooke’s, Coulson trials start in September could kick start public interest but it will be interesting to see how the papers will spin the coverage.

The niggle with Crosby that he is he is a lobbyist by trade. What Cameron has to do is be a little more straight forward about it. The line on Marr today was that he won’t say whether they spoke about tobacco advertising and that all will tell us that Crosby didn’t “intervene”. This is a mistake because it makes Cameron look shifty when he doesn’t have to.

Why not be honest? Why not just say that Crosby advises on strategy and the strategy on tobacco advertising is that we should wait and see what all the evidence is before making announcements? Of course we talked, its just that he was advising us, not lobbying on behalf of anyone else.

Number 10 are lucky that we are in recess. They have time to tweak the official line to take.

But at least Cameron can pop off to Cornwall knowing that the chances of a leadership challenge which was deadly serious a few weeks ago has melted away. Even the swivel eyed loons can spot a winner. Even if they still can’t can’t stand him.

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The Darling buds of May versus Hurricane Grayling and why Simon Burns should be allowed to use his car

15 Jul 2013 at 14:14

You have to hand it to Theresa May she has been a very gutsy and determined Home Secretary. She has given her dysfunctional department a serious dose of reality, abolished the hopeless and disloyal UKBA and through sheer tenacity finally managed to kick out the ghastly and very dangerous Abu Quatada. And she is wise to tackle the ludicrous abuses in the appeal process in these sort of cases.

For David Cameron this is very good news. He likes to have a chairman of the board approach and gets irritated when ministers lose the plot or are unable to sell the message.

Sensibly, she has put slavery back on the radar, which has been avoided by politicians because of racial overtones. She has not been afraid to tackle this head on with the promise of legislation. This is very good news both morally and politically.

She has also been canny about the abolition of the Human Rights Act by simply saying that everything is on the table because she realises that pulling out of the EHCR is fraught with danger.

Her response to the Lisbon Treaty opt outs over Justice have also been measured and pragmatic. The European Arrest warrant is something whipped through by Labour. In its present form it is unattractive. But rather than opt out of it, which wouldn’t be in our interests when some of our own baddies are fleeing Justice, she wants to reform it in terms of proportionality. How Labour have the nerve to try and do deals on this with the Tory Euro Loony Tunes puts the crass into hypocrisy.

Like David Young to Margaret Thatcher, May brings Cameron solutions not problems.

I wish I could say the same about Justice Secretary, Chris Grayling. He should be called Hurricane Grayling as everything he touches is a disaster. To be a good Cabinet Minister requires judgement, political nous and the ability the administer his department. He hasn’t shown any of these qualities. His legal aid reforms are in tatters and his daft and dangerous proposals to privatise the probation service are doomed to fail. When ministers start talking about “aggressive timetables” and “challenges” to the professions you know that they are trying railroad through unworkable and unpopular policies.

Surely he should have identified the problems of the alleged overcharging of the ill fated G4s, the alleged overcharging of SERCO for tagging prisoners and the disaster that has been the CAPITA management of interpreters which has lead to the aborting of 400 trials. And then come up with a solution. Did he hell. Not only has he done nothing of substance, he wanted and as far as I can see still wants, this lot to bid for defence solicitor contracts. Utterly, bonkers.

And unlike May has become very bootsy over “ripping up” the Human Rights Act. Despite the fact that this not what the Commission will recommend, that it will not be supported by the Coalition and that several members of the Cabinet including the Attorney General have warned of an impending disaster.

So what is to become of Hurricane Grayling? He has no right wing power base anymore as was obvious at the debate of the legal aid reforms which I have no doubt will be blown out of the water by the Justice Select Committee. Clearly, he cannot continue in Justice as somebody needs to get to grips with this dysfunctional department.

He could be moved to that convenient graveyard for Ministers on their way out the Office of Leader of the House. Poor old Lansley, good egg as he is, looks pretty miserable there and he has the brains ability to sit on the backbenches and earn an honest few bob on the side without any shame. And as with Gerald Howarth a knighthood to be gazetted on the day of his resignation.

And what about Transport Minister Simon Burns? I do hope Cameron ignores all this nonsense being dragged up by the Mail on Sunday that somehow he is abusing the taxpayer’s money for using his ministerial car. It really is dreadfully unfair. Ministers of State in a Department like Transport have their red boxes stuffed with policy and commercially sensitive material. Do his box on a bus, or on a train when the world and his wife can take a peek? And what about the phone calls he could make in the privacy of his car which would be imprudent or impossible to make on public transport?

Burns is a thoroughly able Minister. I hope Cameron appreciates this and encourages him to use his car in the way it was designed for and either keeps him in post or promotes him.

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Ed's problem is not the unions but their leaders. Is he up to the long hard and bloody struggle?

9 Jul 2013 at 08:11

Sadly for Ed Miliband the Labour Party has no future only a present which is an ever recurring past. It is quite insane to try and break the link between the Party and the unions as their relationship is symbiotic.

The Labour Party was founded by the unions so that working men could be represented in Parliament. Their roots, their beliefs their very core is to represent the interests of working men and women. And there lies the problem.

The “working Class” is now such an abstract concept that, apart from in very small northern enclaves, it does not exist except in the mind of radical academics. Most people regard themselves as middle class.

Before Thatcher everyone knew their place. Working class people were easily identified. They lived in council houses. They worked with their hands. A steam whistle would tell them to have their breaks, their lunch and when to go home. They would wear mufflers, cloth caps and walk or bicycle to their factories. They deferred to authority. They knew their place and they accepted the patronising paternalistic, “we know best” attitude from successive Labour and Conservative governments.

And then there was the working class royalty. They still worked in factories, but were skilled, earned more money and could afford to put down a deposit on a mortgage.

Then Thatcher came along. She made it clear that any “place” that people had in society was not through birth but through hard work and aspiration. That education was the way out of poverty. That everyone, not the few could be property owners. She democratised the unions. No more strikes as a result of a few raised hands in a car park. There had to be a ballot. With union power came union responsibility.

But the Thatcher revolution was not without pain and suffering. So Tony Blair tapped into the national psyche and delivered Thatcherism with a heart.

And that is why the left hate him so much. He wanted to give people choice. He wanted public services which were accountable and delivered. He wanted to free people to live their lives as they wished and not be told by the governing classes how to live them.

And he was thwarted every way by Brown and his acolytes, Ed Balls and Ed Miliband.
When Ed Miliband was feted by the left for giving them back their party and the beginnings of the genocide of all things Blair every sentient commentator knew that the party had shifted to the left. The first shots of the civil war had begun.

All Len Mcluskey is doing now is bayoneting the wounded.

There is nothing new in entryism in the Labour Party. In the seventies and eighties Militant Tendency would send in their troops to take over moribund but safe constituencies. They were the cuckoos in the Labour nest. Frank Field bravely fought them for most of his political life. Eventually the party ventilated them. But not without one hell of a struggle.

No matter what Milband promises today it is too late. He should have stamped his authority on the unions to be responsible from the moment he was elected.

It has been the history of the unions that there has been a struggle. At first it was with unscrupulous employers exploiting their members and then it became a struggle for an ideology. Frank Chapple of the electricians union fought all his life to expel the communists. John Spellar, an old trade union fixer, could teach Miliband a thing or two.

But it is too late. The cuckoos are back. The entryists have not just entered, they have stormed the barricades. They pay for and run the sweet shop.

There is a way out, but it will be long, hard and bloody. The Trade unions are not the mischief that has to be cured, it is their leaders. The majority of trade unionists are not affiliated to any political party. They want their interests to be represented at the work place and not have their hard earned subscriptions frittered away on a political dogma that was becoming out of touch even in the sixties and has no place in modern Britain.

This is Ed Miliband’s challenge. Is he up to it?

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Not a penny more

1 Jul 2013 at 16:58

It is strange how history has a nasty habit of repeating itself. The row over MP’s pay is going to be boringly predictable. There is an independent review. They compare the salaries of middle management and come to the conclusion that MPs aren’t paid enough. Party leaders go mad. The cabinet and Shadow Cabinet are instructed not to trouser a penny more. There are rumblings of discontent on the backbenches. There is a vote. The payroll vote opposes any increases. The backbench trade unions, the PLP and the 22, organise the snout in the trough lobby. Those with safe seats vote for. Those with marginal seats think of a more important constituency engagement to attend and those who face execution at the next election vote against. The Lib Dems then put on hair shirts and demand that every Tory and Labour PPC swear an oath in blood that they won’t take the extra money.

Whatever happens the public will just feel sick to the stomach.

The trouble is that in the old days the assumed wisdom was that the punters wouldn’t take revenge as they thought everyone was on the take anyway. So despite the horror of the Party Leaders on salaries, they allowed a little leeway on allowances ( the word “expenses” has always been considered beyond the Pale).

So what has changed today? Well, it won’t be MPs who will decide how deep their snouts will go (although the pigs have been complaining for years) but a really, really independent body called IPSA.

As much as I like Keith Vaz I nearly choked on my cornflakes when I heard him on Breakfastime punt the new backbench line which was that it was quite invidious for members to have to vote on something so vulgar as their pay. Let us wait for the report. Let us consider how savings can be made. Let us pass the buck. Let someone else shoulder the blame. As John Junor used to say, “pass the sick bag Alice”.

But surely someone is going to have to take a decision? It is hard to believe that IPSA’s recommendations are automatically put into force. After all most MPs regard them as Satan incarnate. What if there was a recommendation that pay would be reduced? All hell would be let loose.

I have no doubt that one of our faux hair shirted tribunes will force a vote even if it isn’t binding. There will be naming and shaming. It will be the first question on every local reporter’s lips, “did you vote yourself an increase?”

The truth is that IPSA is so independent that they are despised. But they are the enema that was needed to expel the toxins of Tony Blair’s dash for cash in 2005, when doctors, consultants and Parliamentarians were showered with cash to keep them under control. Not so much the liquid cosh as the liquid dosh.

Are MPs paid enough? No. Are the majority hardworking and honest? Of course. Should they be getting an increase when living standards have been plummeting for everybody else? Don’t be daft.

There will be all sorts of quasi compromises floated. A further cut to allowances, higher contributions in a very generous pension scheme. I wouldn’t support either. Allowances are now at the bare minimum and darn difficult to claim, and the pension scheme is generous simply because being an MP is as precarious as being a football manager, but without the perks.

There will be grumblings on all sides of the divide. But surely they must know that none of the Party Leaders can afford to give an inch.

It is all desperately unfair. Welcome to politics, where at the moment you have to take the rough with the rough.

Quite honestly any MP who supports any sort of increase (no matter what other savings are made) will be strung by the goolies from a lamp post. And that’s after the pitch forked mob have run them out of Dodge.

It will be interesting to see how Offshore Farage will play this one as his party has got a Turner prize for excessive trousering . My guess is that he will plug in with the public mood and flog this one for all its worth.

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Make David Davis Minister For Europe with Cabinet rank and discipline will be restored and talk of a leadership at thing of the past

22 Jun 2013 at 14:09

As the nation is gripped with reshuffle fever (well those poor sados who would sell their own grannies for a job) I suppose I ought to be totally honest and tell you that I haven’t got a clue who will be up or down the greasy pole. I’ll go even better, nobody except Cameron and a handful of trusties have a clue either. So anything that you read about Downing Street insiders and their view is complete speculation usually by those who want to push their own people.

The dilemma that Cameron has is that he has so little talent at the very top but for political reasons he can’t move them. With the exception of Theresa May who is a perfectly adequate Home Secretary, the women are hopeless. Theresa Villiers has sunk without trace. Maria Miller is a catastrophe waiting to happen and Justine Greening is unspeakable. But if Cameron gets rid of them everyone will start accusing him to reverting to an Etonian phallocracy. I suppose he could get rid of one of them (Miller would be the favourite) and replace her with Anna Soubrey but even she has her fishwifery moments.

And the men aren’t that much better. Apart from Osborne, Hague, Gove, Pickles and IDS they don’t actually glitter. O’Patz is living out his fantasy of badger genocide and Grayling has achieved something no other Lord Chancellor could dream off, he has united every judge, barrister and solicitor against his insane reforms. There will be a debate in the Chamber on Thursday when he will be slaughtered by both left and right. Normally I don’t approve of blood sports but I will be there bayoneting the wounded. He would be easy to get rid of. He has no power base and is a dangerous liability. If only he could be replaced by the cerebral and well liked Dominic Grieve who would make the real savings that can be achieved in the totally dysfunctional MOJ. The trouble is Dominic is not all that keen on the idea.

At the moment.

And I am not convinced that George Young will survive. But not through any desire on Cameron’s part who has made it very clear that he would like him to stay. I understand that George has made it clear that he has just had enough. This should be the time to right the wrongs done to Andrew Mitchell. He has been silent, loyal and has shown no bitterness towards Cameron. He should be brought back as Chief Whip.

For what it’s worth I am of the view that there are three people who deserve to be in the Cabinet. Nick Boles, Jesse Norman and David Davis. The former because they have ideas intellect and political nous. But David Davis could be a game changer for Cameron. Yes I know they dislike each other intensely, but if you want a friend in politics buy a dog.

There will be the usual suspects who will say that this would be a mistake as he is not a team player. They would be wrong. Davis may have had his moment of madness by causing a by election for reasons that I still don’t comprehend, but things have moved on. The right just don’t have a respected and seasoned heavyweight who can rally the troops both in Parliament and in the country. They feel unloved, lonely and ignored. Mind you some of them deserve it, but that’s not really the point.

With Labour flatlining and Miliband on his knees this is the time for backbench discipline. No matter what sense Cameron talks on EU renegotiation the right just don’t believe him. And they are so jittery at the moment they are mad enough to launch a coup. I know, I know, it would be utterly insane and a gift to Miliband, but the Tory backbenches are not unlike the Wild West at the moment. They’ll shoot at anything.

So the solution? Give Davis his old job back as Minister of Europe with Cabinet rank. The right would be creaming in their jeans. And Cameron would at last be believed by his enemies. Discipline in the ranks would be restored. Springs will be in steps and chins held high. Europe will be in the news again but in a positive way. And an old bruiser like Davis would take the fight to Labour’s door step and give offshore Farage a run for his money.

The chances of this happening are remote as I suspect Cameron would regard it with distaste. But both are big enough men to rise above it. If Cameron can sup with Clegg the spoon wouldn’t have to be that much longer for Davis. And frenzied talk of leadership challenges would just be the ravings of the deranged.

Oh, and a lot of marginal seats would be saved.

Courage mon Brave!!

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No member of any Select Committee should have any paid interests which could cause a conflict

11 Jun 2013 at 19:54

It’s not often that I am shocked to the core, but the Tim Yeo affair has left my gob truly smacked. Did I hear him correctly on tape boasting that he told a business colleague what questions his select committee was going to ask? Forgive me but if that’s not coaching then my cock’s a kipper.

But what is so bollock clenchingly sphincter rattlingly awful is why didn’t the whips office step in years ago, or more worrying, why didn’t the members of the select committee take action? Didn’t anybody think to tell David Cameron that this was a disaster waiting to happen?

It is beyond belief.

Paul Goodman has put forward a very sensible suggestion that select committee chairman should not have paid interests which could conflict with their duties. I would go further. No member of a select committee should have paid interests which could conflict with their duties. In my naïveté I honestly believed that this was the case already. It may not be in the rules, but it is just common sense.

It’s the right thing to do.

What is so remarkable is that Yeo’s interests were well known for years. Guido and Iain Dale have been banging on about it for rather a long time. Yet nobody took a blind bit of notice. What none of us knew was the sheer scale of his trousering. When you add up the share options and cash in hand it is not far off a million quid. Now, Yeo earns about £67k as an MP and an extra £14,582 as a committee chairman. It’s not up to city standards but its hardly up shit creek without a paddle.

And if I hear another MP moaning about the pay I will scream. Yes it’s hardish, dull repetitive work with unsocial hours and precious little thanks from a fickle and ungrateful public. But boys and girls that’s the choice you made. Nobody twisted you arm to be an MP and most of you plotted, schemed and dreamed of nothing else for years.

Oh, and if I hear another little piggy caught on the telly by a journo sting proclaiming innocence because they didn’t break the rules I will bite my own head off.

And here lies the problem. We can have a register of lobbyists, we can tighten the rules, we can have draconian watchdogs, we can even have recall. But it won’t make a shred of difference if people are prepared to think of new dodges. And unless the culture of, " I’m a Parliamentarian I’ve sweated and slaved for my constituents so I’m entitled to make a few few bob on the side" disappears, whatever credibility (which is not a lot) politicians have will be lost and the country will sleepwalk towards the worst sort of shysterism from the likes of UKIP.

But enough of the ghastliness and greed of some of our politicians, there is another agenda which is rather worrying. The press are utterly terrified of a world post Leveson and will do anything to prevent it. So I suspect these stings are a gentle reminder to the public that if there is over regulation of the press these sort of stories would never come to light. Well, up to a point Lord Copper.

What troubles me is that I suspect that the damage to the reputation of politicians is irreparable in the immediate future. There is a danger that there will be a move to select Parliamentary Taleban, humourless squeaky clean zealots of propriety. God it will be dull. And rather scary.

I don’t want our tribunes to live the lives of monks and nuns. I just want them too behave with a little common sense and decency even if it is not in the rules.

If they don’t we might as well just hand the whole show over to big business. Let them sponsor the bloody lot. G4s can fund the Justice Committee. RBS Treasury. And Health? The Cooperative Funeral Service of course.

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In the land of the politically blind the swivel eyed loons are kings. A by election in Newark would be a distraction from the Miliband omnishambles

31 May 2013 at 14:53

If I was a Number 10 strategist (discuss) I would be doing my damnedest to prevent Patrick Mercer from causing a by election in Newark. It will be a little while before we know just how daft/venal/pissed he has been, but from reports so far he has been the victim of yet another faux lobby sting.

Perhaps “victim” is not the most appropriate adjective. Most MPs suffer political death by their own hand (not in the Stephen Milligan sense), caused by arrogance, desire, greed or breathtaking naivety.

I suspect the latter in Mercer’s case. He has serious form for shouting his mouth off to the press after a few sherbets, usually in the form of visceral attacks on Cameron. It all goes back to the days when he was a shadow minister and made some vaguely inappropriate remarks about the way people joshed each other about their colour and gingerarity in the army. Well, inappropriate in the bonkerish political correctness that politicians are duty bound to pander to. As a former army officer it was just plainspeak to Mercer, but as a front line politician it was political suicide. And as Cameron was doing his best to de swivel and de loon his party, Mercer was given the order of the hobnail. I suspect if he had towed the line and kept his head down he would be in government.

Sadly it all became very personal, very vocal and usually after closing time. Mercer is in the Mad Nad league of Cameron defenestration. And that is why he is so potentially dangerous.

One of the most depressing things about politics that I encountered, apart from my personal horror of dick swinging partisanship is to witness how rejection can corrode the purist of souls. One moment you are cock of the walk, the next; just a cock. It is a sad sight seeing these lost souls tramping the bars and the tea rooms in search of other bitter kindred spirits and trying to spread the poison.

And this is the problem for Cameron. No matter he tries to connect with his backbenchers, either at Number 10 or just with a pat on the back there are a significant minority who deeply resent him for even trying. The charm offensive has not been a success. What will make the difference in a few months time is when the economy picks up, unemployment regularly falls and business has a spring in its step. Cameron again will look like a winner to even the most disaffected who will slink back into the shadows until another opportunity arises for the poisoned stiletto to be unsheathed.

But never mind the future, lets look at now. In the land of the politically blind the swivel eyed loon is king.

The enemies of the modernisers will see this as an opportunity to strike. Not a fatal blow but enough in their eyes to make the Cameroons see the good sense of doing a deal with the Faragistas. Pressure will be put on Mercer to cause a by election. Not to stand himself but to clear a way for a Kipper victory.

For those of unsound mind having Patrick Mercer as Nigel Farage’s John the Baptist is very attractive. This could panic the Cameroons into making more concessions over the EU (a snap referendum would be a start) and scrapping the wickedness of gay marriage.

Those sentient Conservatives realise that this just won’t happen. Lines have been drawn. There will be no more concessions. They will have scoured the opinion polls and have realised that the two Eds are poison to the voters. The Spending Review is the point of no return for Labour. They are either going to make a massive U turn or accept that they are on a white knuckled ride to oblivion.

I hope that the majority of backbenchers, particularly the ones with marginal seats, appreciate the good sense of keeping their real enemy within their sights.

But if Mercer is not a headache La Belle Dorries could be. I hope it has not escaped anybody’s attention that she comes up for re-selection in her Mid Beds seat in a couple of weeks time. It may not be the triumphant coronation that she expects. I have spoken to a number of people who will be at the meeting who are thoroughly fed up with her antics and want rid of her.

And if she is no longer the Conservative candidate does she cause a by election for the Kippers or does she stand for them at the general?

This could be fun.

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When the cat's away the mice will play. The Faragistas must be licking their lips

27 May 2013 at 13:05

I was just about to right an upbeat piece about how proud I was to be British in the aftermath of last week’s horrific events, where the Prime Minister gave a sensible and measured response, how the country came together in restrained grief with that hallmark gritty determination to get on with their lives and stick their Agincourt fingers in defiance of the men of terror. It was as if politics had been put on hold.

Until yesterday morning when it was back to the stunts and positioning that the public so despises.

For the life of me don’t the press realise the lunacy of their antics over the Cameron’s family holiday to Ibiza? One the one hand the SUN and the MAIL laud him for his carry on and keep calm message but now slag him off for going on holiday. The MAIL’s headline over the photo of the Camerons, “is Ibiza chilaxed enough for you Prime Minister?” Followed by another, “Is it really wise to be chill axing in Ibiza, Dave?”

The answer to the second question is a resounding yes.

After flying back from France to set up COBRA, visit the Woolwich barracks and then instigate a task force to report on what extra measures may be needed to combat terrorism and radicalisation off he goes on his hols. To cancel them would contradict his message to keep calm and carry on and play into the hands of the extremists.

But this is just a minor irritation compared to the manoeuvres of the usual suspects in Cabinet. O’Patz is refusing to buckle down to further Treasury savings. The man has gone so native he might as well be dancing around a cooking pot with bones through his nose. What I find so remarkable is the ambition of Philip Hammond which for its sheer vulgarity, pretension for someone of such limited talent, could be up for a Turner prize. It appears that he is quite prepared to resign if Osborne persists with further savings at Defence. And of course at Cabinet he stares at the Chancellor with the skill and interest of an Boot Hill undertaker. Which considering has a smile with all the warmth of a brass plate on a coffin is entirely appropriate.

And then there is Theresa May. An interesting turn. Superficially loyal, utterly ruthless and without mercy. Just the sort of person we need as Home Secretary.

But I do worry about the Home Secretary’s Guild who are desperate to bring in the “Snooper’s Charter”. The trouble is that some of our more excitable backbenchers will see this as a very big stick to beat Clegg, who will unfairly be cast as a wishy washy do gooder who will put our citizens at risk by opposing such libertarian plans for the police to monitor all our phone calls, texts, emails, tweets, web browsing habits and any other communication whether we are suspected of a criminal offence or not. George Orwell eat your heart out you are just twenty five years late.

The law on intercept is perfectly adequate at the moment, if the police have reasonable grounds to suspect that a criminal offence has been or is about to be committed they can apply for a warrant to get all the information they need.

So before back bench knees start jerking it would be a good idea to see what the task force recommends.

And then there is my dear old friend David Ruffley’s outburst in the MAIL today, saying that Cameron has a year to get things sorted or else there will be a coup. Poor old Ruffers has got form for this. Almost to the day this latest musing coincided with a similar piece in the MOS which he anonymously penned a year ago. Like so many other able people he is consumed with bitterness at not being given a job, but it really isn’t worth the heartache. Or the aggravation.

The Faragistas must be smacking their lips.

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Why I will be demonstrating outside parliament tomorrow to stop the dismantling of our revered criminal justice system

21 May 2013 at 17:22

Tomorrow I am going to Westminster. Not as the victor of a great by election victory. Nor to have a quiet lunch with my friends.

But to demonstrate against the government. My government, whose Prime Minister I support and count as a friend.

This is not against the EU. This is not against same sex marriage. This is about something far more important. The dismantling of our system of justice and access to a fair trial.

Our rule of law is under threat .

I know I have written about this before, but this is the background

It is not often that I am incandescent with rage, but yesterday’s interview with Justice Secretary Chris Grayling in the Law Society Gazette about his legal aid reforms required me to lay down in a darkened room for half an hour before writing this.

Let me just quickly remind you what he intends to do.

Of the 1,600 firms of solicitors only 400 will be left after Price Competitive Tendering hands it over to Stobbards, G4s and Serco and anybody else who can do law on the cheap. Whatever happens, those tendering will have to cut costs by 17.5%. This is on top of a legal aid budget that has shrunk by one third since 2006/7 and advocacy fees cut between 36 to 46% ( depending on the type of case) over the same period. Quality won’t just suffer. It will disappear.

A tier of bureaucracy will decide which solicitor someone charged with a criminal offence may have to represent them. There will be no choice.

There will be a financial incentive for lawyers to advise their clients to plead guilty. This will lead to the courts clogged with appeals due to miscarriages of justice.

This is what Grayling said in his interview parts of which were reproduced in yesterday’s TIMES. My comments are in italics.

The legal reforms will go ahead and denounced critics who warn that price will prevail over quality.
So much for consultation. Quality will be extinct simply because no reputable solicitors can possibly compete for these franchises. Sweatshop lawyers can. As choice has been squeezed out of the system there will be no incentive for the new breed of lawyer to do a quality job.

He defended the abolition of the defendant’s right of a choice of lawyer saying people were not up to making a selection.“I do not believe that most people who find themselves in the criminal justice system are great connoisseurs of legal skills………often come from the the most difficult and challenged backgrounds.”
This is a government who believes in choice in health and in education. Why should people not have the right to quality and experienced representation in court? Grayling supports a lack of choice because people are either too dishonest or stupid.

Too thick to pick.

So what happens when a policeman, a nurse or any of middle England gets accused of a serious offence? They will be denied access to justice and a fair trial. Even the most wicked deserve a fair trial and proper representation.

What happens to those specialist firms and barristers who are experienced in serious frauds, murders rapes and importation of drugs?

Thrown to the wall.

Expertise will count for nothing. Yet reputation and competence have been the drivers of quality. If you’re no good you starve. What incentive will there be do do a quality job? Even in its consultation document the MOJ concedes that ’ the highest that can be aspired to is an “acceptable level of representation”.

Acceptable to whom?

On Saturday I attended a packed meeting of the South Eastern Circuit at Inner Temple. There were CCTV relays for the many who could not get tickets. One thing was very clear, barristers, solicitors and the judiciary are united and unflinching in our opposition to the dismantling of our revered system of justice. And this is what the country and Parliament are sleep walking into.

I would die at the barricades rather than let this happen.

Britain wake up.

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Whoever made those mad swivel eyed loon remarks should be exposed and given a pat on the back

19 May 2013 at 09:48

Here I was sitting in a little studio in Broadcasting House awaiting the first sheets of the day to review the papers for the splendid Stephen Nolan. It was a pretty slow news day so the Swivel eyed loon story splashed in the Times caught our interest. To be be honest it really isn’t much of a story for those who don’t live and die by writing rebellion and division stories. It’s like the Mail splashing, “close aide to Cameron claims Bears shit in the Woods” or “Ex Cameron nanny says the Pope is a Catholic”, shock.

All these things are rather obvious.

So to be told that there is a non psychiatric theory as to why so many Conservative MPs behave in such a bizarre way over the EU and same sex marriage is rather cheering. And bloody obvious. Somebody selected these people knowing full well that there were rather a lot of bats flapping around their belfries.

So what sort of people select at local level? To be honest, the sort of people that all of us who have been involved in public life are pathetically grateful to. Those dwindling and ageing ranks who raise subscriptions, bang on doors and keep the whole local show on the road. It is a soul destroying job. Needing dedication and unwavering views.

The majority of Tory activists are thoroughly decent people who work damn hard for the party. However there are nests of zealots, as in every party. It is these zealots who attend every meeting and demand a return to the days of the fifties, where we didn’t need the bloody EEC, where criminals were sent to jails not holiday camps and out of control kids were caned. They dream of those halcyon times when the local bobby would cuff a young lad’s ear for not showing respect, where the rope was a deterrent to murder and the birch was a perfectly acceptable method of controlling unruly teenagers. And don’t get them started on immigration.

They are I am afraid to say mad, swivel eyed loons.

But are they any less swivel eyed than Dan Hannan or Simon Heffer? Probably not. But it is a fiction to say that they don’t exist within the ranks of the Conservative Party. These are the sort of people who will be saying to their MPs if you don’t support views similar to mine me and all my similarly bonkers mates will join up with Kippers.

It is a symbiotic relationship. Both feed off each others fears and prejudices. They eat together, drink together and bang on and on about Europe and how awful and posh Cameron and his upper class cronies are. How they are never listened to. How they must do anything at any price to get rid of him. And as for those yellow bastards? They don’t know their place. Why doesn’t Cameron just tell them to like it or leave it. If it means the end of a coalition tomorrow, so be it. We’d have an election which we would win. And then in three weeks time an In/Out referendum which we would also win.

Then Britain would be great again. We would trade with whom we want. The pound would soar.

If that isn’t mad swivel eyed loonery I don’t know what is. And you would be amazed to hear that these views either in full or in part are shared by activists and backbenchers alike. But only a minority. Not that you’d think it from the noise that is generated.

Don’t be lulled into the honeyed words of Cash and Redwood who pretend that they support Cameron’s negotiations. They don’t. They want out. Yesterday.

So day after day the Prime Minister is personally attacked, undermined and politically spat upon by members of his own party, who go totally berserk if there is a whiff or criticism of them or their eccentric views.

And after putting up with all this vitriol, abuse, misinformation and damage to the party some Cameroon tells a journalist off the record what the rest of the country and most of the press thinks.

They are all fucking mad.

Whoever is responsible for the mad swivel eyed remark should be exposed.

And given a pat on the back.

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