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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Some friendly advice for James Wharton

17 May 2013 at 11:38

Downing Street must be heaving an enormous sigh of relief that the hitherto unknown backbencher, James Wharton, won first place on the ballot for introducing a Bill. Sadly, all we know about the chap is that he has a wafer thin majority of 332, is very young, a commercial solicitor and has some incomprehensible connection with sandstone penises.

But joy of joys he is not on the Broadmoor wing of the Conservative party.

He will not be short of advice. Nevertheless, here is mine.

James, old son, you probably haven’t realised that this is the most important thing you will ever do in Parliament even If you become a junior minister which just means you have a nice red box, the occasional use of a mid range family saloon, sign pointless letters and make lifeless speeches that nobody else wants to make.

Firstly, although this is technically your bill, you are merely the host for a Number 10 political strategy. So take advice from the Chief Whip. He is the guy who will be marching the troops through the lobbies for you. Insist that you have an experienced minder and consult before you utter a word to the press. They are not there to be your friend. They want stories about rebellion and division and what may seem a sensible comment from you will be twisted and deformed as an attack on your leader.

Don’t go on Newsnight and avoid the Today programme like the plague. If you feel that you have to appear on the radio be interviewed by Jeremy Vine. He is not a soft touch, but he is canny enough to know that the housewives would regard turning over a fresh faced lad as akin to child abuse.

You will be invited to lunch by big name journalists. Never go alone. They will eat you for breakfast. Your first point of journalistic contact should be your local press and radio station. By now you should have built up a strong relationship with them. They are less likely to shaft you and will remember that you spoke to them first.

And remember the golden rule. If you are going to give background information which you would rather not see in print say the magic words, “off the record” at the outset.

Next take advice on who will sponsor the Bill. Try and get a good mix of sensible sceptics and Europhiles. You want to show that this is not a rebel Bill but represents all wings of the party.
You will find that you have never had so many friends. Be cautious. You are a dolphin in a sea of sharks. The ambitious and the bitter will want to use you. Keep your counsel close to your chest. But find an experienced hand whom you can trust and don’t let them leave your side.

And when dealing with the Lobby, don’t be clever, bumptious or lie. They won’t forget or forgive. There will be very few members of the lobby you can trust. But they do exist. Nigel Nelson of the PEOPLE is a veteran of the lobby. He has been my friend for over twenty five years. I would trust him with my life. Give him a ring.

Once the euphoria dies down you will be under tremendous stress and pressure. Everyone knows that the Lib Dem and Labour policy on Europe is a shambles. Rise above cheap shots. Don’t worry there will be plenty of others who will put the boot in.

You must be seen as sensible, sane and reasoned giving the British people a chance to cast their vote after Cameron’s negotiations. Of course the Bill will fail. But someone untainted with the past is an asset. Don’t waste it.

Do not make the mistake of answering the hypothetical question of how you would vote if the referendum was tomorrow. And get someone to trawl through your past speeches and election material and have a position. We all say daft things at election times. Remember there is no such thing as a private supper party.

And finally when you steer your Bill through the first stage answer you opponents with courtesy. And don’t accept any amendments without advice.

Oh and if you see Bill Cash approaching with a wedge of papers tied up with string covered in green ink, run for the hills.

Remember the wise words of Alan Clark that when people offer you advice ask yourself, “what’s in it for them?”

If you get this right you will have a grateful Prime Minister.

But if it goes tits up best dust down the law books.

Good luck.

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The Queen's Speech amendment is venal act of self indulgence. It could be the beginning of the end of the Tories in government for a very long time

13 May 2013 at 08:23

If you walk down to the basement of Conservative HQ you will be confronted by a locked door with the sign emboldened with a skull and crossbones warning, “Danger enter at your peril.” Those who have been brave enough to cross the threshold tell me that the room is empty save for a glass case which contains a large red button emblazoned with the words “Self Destruct.”

One by one the Parliamentary Party have been filing into the room as relatively normal people, pressing the button and then emerging like extras from Shaun of The Dead by staggering zombielike into the fresh air and infecting other colleagues.

The amendment to the Queen’s Speech could be the beginning of the end of the Conservatives in office. It is an act of venal self indulgence which will horrify those sentient members of the electorate who actually think and care and will antagonise those who fear for their jobs and families.

What is it meant to achieve? No parliament can bind another. But this amendment doesn’t even try to. It is just an expression of regret that the government’s legislative programme doesn’t mention a referendum. Most Labour MPs and all Lib Dems will vote against so it will be defeated.

What a thoroughly futile and pointless exercise. And according to some MPs this is just the beginning.

So apart from making them all look like incompetent fools more interested in a stunt to save their own miserable skins it is a gift to the Faragistas. How long will it be be before the cartoonists show Farage pint in hand, fag in mouth, sitting on the back seat of a second hand Jag giving directions to his chauffeur, David Cameron?

Personally, I don’t give a toss if celebrities like Jamie Oliver and Des Lynam bromance the kippers. It will give me endless hours of amusement when these bandwagoners suddenly realise that there is a very dark side to UKIP.

But what I find so unforgivable is the self preservation and vanity of ministers. What on earth does the normally sensible Michael Gove think he is playing at? What’s happened to collective responsibility? I suspect that one day he will realise that this is the biggest mistake of his political career. Which is a shame as I like and admire him. Of O’Patz and the charisma free zone that is Phillip Hammond I am not surprised. Little people with large ambitions.

However, watch out for Theresa May who is being both loyal and clever. This lady has come a very long way.

Most depressing of all is that voting for this irrelevance will be like a badge of honour. The pressure from local supporters will be mounting on backbenchers and ministers. This will be the time we will find out who are the sheep and who are the wolves.

I sometimes wonder whether Cameron and Osborne are the only members of the cabinet with any balls. They know that it would be an economic catastrophe to leave the EU. Their plan is sensible and realistic. It would be counterproductive to go to other leaders with a set of British demands. Far better to sell reforms as something that will help all member states. More transparency, more democracy. Power not just flowing to Brussels but back to member states.

The repatriation of powers shopping list that the usual suspects have drawn up is a trap that Cameron is too savvy to fall for. It will sour negotiations and fail.

And that is what they want.

But it would be rather nice if someone would have the courage to speak up for the EU. Not as a federal state, a central economic and fiscal policy nor mad delusions of foreign adventures. People want Cameron to protect our interests, in trade, jobs and the City of London as well as promoting growth as well as to claw back social and employment policy from Brussels for all member states.

For a man who has vetoed a treaty, reduced the budget and saved us from the horrors of the Euro bail out mechanism, he is just the man to put the case for reform not just for us but for all members.

Whether his party will let him is another matter. This freak show has got to stop. But it will get worse. This is a gift for Farage giving him a sense of importance that is totally unwarranted.

But this whole farce is just being to gain momentum. The Onanistic wing of the Tory Party are now pressing for a referendum on gay marriage. Completely nuts.

What is so frustrating is that at the weekend Peter Mandelson made a scathing attack on the power and influence the unions have on Labour. A hand grenade into Miliband’s inner sanctum. A gift for Cameron. The Tories should be exploiting this with vigour.

I have been shocked at the language that is privately deployed against Cameron and Osborne. The way some talk you would think that they are serial killers. For reasons beyond my comprehension many are genuinely keen to rid themselves of their only electoral asset before the election. One backbencher told me a few weeks ago that he could easily get seventy signatures on a letter to 1922 Chairman Brady. “The only thing that stops us is that we detest Afriyie even more”, he grinned.

And all this at time when the economy is beginning to move in the right direction. The Footsie is soaring and advertising revenues will be up 2.7% on last year and be predicted to hit a 5% increase next year. This is significant because advertising revenues don’t track GDP they drive it.

But apart from being a KIPPER this is not a good time to be leader of any party. A large section of Labour MPs despise Miliband and would oust him if their party machinery wasn’t so cumbersome and poor old Cleggy will find himself under a lot of perhaps mortal pressure at conference in September.

And that is the added attraction for parties like UKIP. They are fed up with the parlour games, the positioning, the intrigue and the stunts. They don’t like the piss being ripped out of them by the ruling elite.

And this totally daft, meaningless stunt over the Queen’s Speech will only fuel the already bloated ego of Farage’s ego to barrage balloon proportions.

What an absolute shower. This is the only time since 1997 that I wished I was back on those green benches.

I’d give them hell.

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The uncomfortable truth about rape

10 May 2013 at 17:28

I seem to have created a furore on twitter about comments I was alleged to make on Question Time last night about rape. I think it only right to put the record straight.

There was a question from the audience asking whether the panel thought the names of those arrested should be released to the press. I was of the view that they should be, but with one exception. Those accused of rape and sexual offences should remain anonymous until conviction unless a judge ruled that it would be in the interests of justice that the name should be revealed. For example to encourage other potential victims to come forward.

Then a lady in the audience commented that there were 95,000 rapes every year yet only 900 prosecutions. I haven’t a clue where those figures came from or whether they are remotely accurate. For the sake of argument let us assume that they are.

What seems to the have caused an avalanche of abuse and misinformation was my remark that if there is no evidence to charge the man cannot be guilty of that rape. Legally this is an accurate assessment. I have been accused of saying that rape victims are liars. Not only did I not say or suggest this, I certainly don’t think it.

Rape is a wicked violation which often leads to shame and guilt. I am of the view that if a woman (or for that matter a man) makes an accusation the police must listen, empathise and leave no stone unturned to mount a prosecution. Rape victims have the right to be heard and taken seriously. It takes a great deal of courage for a victim to go to the police in the first place, particularly if they are in an abusive relationship. Women’s refuges play a vital part in the protection of women.

Let me just explode a few myths and stereotypes. To prosecute and try a rape (or any other sexual offence) the advocate and the judge must have special training and certified competent to do so. The victims are given special support. If they are particularly vulnerable a court may order the use of an intermediary who can intervene in a difficult cross examination. A victim’s character cannot be trashed. The judge, unless there are exceptional circumstances, will not allow evidence or cross examination about past sexual history. The judge will intervene if he takes a view that cross examination is becoming overbearing or irrelevant. The victim will be protected by the court.

But a trial has two sides. The complainant and the defendant. The jury try the case not on assumption or innuendo but on the evidence. The prosecution must prove the case so that they are sure of guilt.

Sometimes this can be very difficult. Sometimes in a failed relationship a defendant will allege that the complainant has made this up out of spite. This may be true or it may be a bare faced lie. But it is his defence and he must be allowed to put it or else there cannot possibly be a fair trial. If there is no supporting evidence such as DNA witnesses or CCTV, the jury have a dilemma. In these sort of cases supporting evidence is rare. Who do they believe? How can they be sure where the truth lies.

But give me the collective common sense of a jury rather than a case hardened judge or tribunal any day.

What I find so depressing is that in some quarters there is a view that whatever the evidence there must be an assumption that the defendant is guilty. This is just plain wrong and as bad as the old stereotype of “her skirt was too short……she was flirty…..what did she expect?” Those stereotypes were ventilated from our courts many years ago.

Women have a right to be heard even if the evidence is weak. It must for a jury to decide. But a defendant must be allowed to put his case.

The day that in trials of a sexual nature the normal rules of evidence are suspended would be a catastrophic day for British Justice.

However I doubt any of this will put an end to vitiolic of twitter abuse. Which says more about them than me.

It appears that a petition condemning me and the BBC is doing the rounds.

From the sort of people who believe that freedom of speech is so precious that it must be rationed. Mr.Mugabe would be very proud.

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In praise of Jackie Doyle Price for giving the Kippers the swivel finger in a seat that would think Ghengis Khan was a dangerous lefty

5 May 2013 at 12:08

The electorate have spoken. Or rather the thirty percent who bothered to get off their backsides and vote have.

But what were they saying?

Was it that nice Mr. Farage has got some very sensible well thought out and costed proposals which will get this economy moving? Sadly, not

Was it that nice Mr Farage has made some very well thought out proposals for us to make a structured exit from the EU whilst preserving our trading position, promoting growth and creating jobs? Ahem.

Was it that nice Mr. Farage speaks his mind, listens, speaks to us in our language and is not a normal politician? Now we are getting there.

The delightful irony of all of this is that the coalition have got robust and sensible policies to limit immigration without damaging the economy. The trouble is that UKBA is such a basket case that nobody (particularly ministers) believe a word that they say. Labour are in turmoil and the Kippers have suddenly realised that their policy is unworkable. It is now, as they say, “under review”.

To her credit Theresa May has grasped that the immigration problem could be the making or breaking of not just her but the government. She is single minded, determined, utterly ruthless and realises she has about fifteen months to get it right. If she doesn’t Tory votes will haemorrhage to UKIP and install the most left wing Labour policies since Michael Foot. That really has to be the prime focus of Lynton Crosby, to implant in the mind of the electorate that a vote for UKIP is not a wasted vote, it is a dangerous one. Nigel Farage is Miliband’s little helper. Socialism by stealth.

I have been rather impressed that the backbenches have remained so relatively calm. The usual suspects have been calling for local deals with the Kippers. This is hardly the politics of high principle, but of funk. And David Davis has been doing what he does best.

Bayoneting the wounded with a twinkle in his eye.

Quite what the electoral asset is of firing all advisors who went to Eton has escaped me. It is all rather Mc Carthyite and rather unpleasant. It also very strange as the sort of people who think that this is a good idea tend to be Worshippers at the holy Shrine of St. Boris of Eton. Well, there’s nowt so queer as folk.

One backbencher that I have been particularly impressed with is Jackie Doyle Price the MP for Thurrock. She has taken on the Kippers directly and castigated colleagues, in particular John Baron of Billericay, for giving subliminal messages for a pro kipper vote.

Thurrock is an interesting constituency. Apart from a brief aberration between 1987 to 1992 it has been a Labour stronghold since 1945. But the electorate are very right wing. In 2010 UKIP scored 3,390 to the BNP’s 3,618.

Jackie has a majority of just 92.

So when all of these foolish an opportunist backbenchers ( usually with majorities so large that they have to be weighed )start bleating about local deals, think of Jackie working her backside of for the people of Thurrock who has the courage and determination to give the kippers the swivel finger. I hope that CCHQ give her all the support that she needs and David Cameron gives her credit.

But Thurrock has always been this weird phenomenon of natural Labour supporters voting for the far right. Many would regard Ghengis Khan as a dangerous lefty. We used to call it the Alf Garnett vote. Iain Dale calls them UKIP Labour. Which means that unless Labour gets its act together Margaret Hodge’s seat of Barking could be a problem. She may have run the BNP out of Dodge last time who knows what will happen in 2015.

So many Tories could learn a lot from the good sense of Jackie Doyle Price. Take the kippers on for what they are and give them no quarter. They won’t like it up them.

The Price is right. But not with a capital R.

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UKIP's gains will be illusory and short lived. Remember what happened to the SDP

2 May 2013 at 18:38

It would be very helpful if some of our more excitable backbenchers before they do a very passable corporal Jones of not panicking took a deep breath, poured themselves a large scotch and read a little history.

In 1981 the SDP was born. They broke the mould of British politics. If you include Bill Rodgers and David Owen, thirty Labour MPs defected. And there were fevered rumours that twenty five Tories were about to join them as between 1981/2 the SDP was the most popular party in Britain with a staggering 50% in the opinion polls. As it happened only one Tory, Anthony Brocklebank Fowler (who became a man of the people by renaming himself Chris Fowler) jumped ship.

This was at a time when Labour and the Tories were horribly split. Michael Foot had reclaimed his party for the left. And Conservative backbenchers were conspiring to oust their horribly unpopular leader, Margaret Thatcher. The attractive USB of the SDP were that they were by and large decent middle class professionals who had never been involved in politics before. They were fed up with the divisiveness of the main parties. They wanted to adopt a middle way. A pragmatic non political answer to our ills. Their policies were sensible, their candidates reasonable and they stormed the town halls. They won by election after by election.

And at the 1983 election they polled 25.4% compared to Labour’s 27.6%. The informed political wisdom was that this was the death knell of the major parties. How wrong they were. The SDP Alliance fizzled out in 1988 after another Thatcher landslide in 1987.

Now compare this with whatever happens with the Kippers tomorrow. No matter how successful they are, no matter how many council seats they gain they won’t even be a foot note in the shattering performance of the SDP.

Lets have a look at why. The message of the eighties is that the public despised polarised politics, unless as in 1987, they can see some financial benefits for themselves and their families. The Kippers are a ragbag of the flotsam and jetsam of British politics. When scrutinised their candidates have two years of nasty tomfoolery to show just how unprepared and unpleasant they really are. Their economic policies make Labour’s look like a model of prudence and good sense. Their success will be their downfall simply because the electorate will wonder how on earth their lives can be improved. And the tabloids, not just the broadsheets, will have a field day. They will feast on the incompetence, the closet racism and general barminess that elected so many people out of a sense of angst and anger rather than deliberation.

In a few months Farage will graduate from being a fad to a farrago.

Ken Clarke has been of great service to the Tories by calling the Kippers a bunch of clowns.

I have always found clowns to be rather sinister.

So now is the time for Lynton Crosby to set his attack dogs to work scouring for every off colour tweet and every dodgy comment from those new councillors carrying the Kipper banner. It is time to expose and time to reveal them for what they are. A deeply unpleasant rabble of malcontents trying to tap in and exploit the worries and insecurities of those who are suffering from thirteen years of Labour financial incompetence.

There will be only one winner tomorrow. Apathy.

Don’t be too surprised if Nadine Dorries after reading the runes has a political death bed conversion. She still is deprived of the Tory whip and can’t yet stand for re selection. She may not have much of a choice.

But compared to the SDP in the early eighties any victory the kippers have will be illusory and short.

And a message to our excitable back benchers who will be calling for an accommodation and probably the head of David Cameron? Be careful what you wish for.

Keep calm and carry on.

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Grayling's proposals for the criminal law are anti choice anti small business and will lead to the destruction of a world class justice system.

28 Apr 2013 at 11:54

I wrote a few weeks ago about how the imbecilic Chris Grayling is hell bent on destroying the independent criminal bar and ethnically cleansing family solicitors from the high street. I warned that consultation would be a farce and that legal sweat shops who won’t give a damn about standards and who think that ethics is a place where you sell dodgy cars, get a fake tan and drink cocktails so sweet as to send you into a diabetic coma, will be our sole gatekeepers to justice.

I was wrong.

Grayling’s plans are far more sinister, damaging and financially foolhardy than I had ever dreamed of. Without a shred of evidence he has concluded that by reducing the number of providers (solicitors) from fourteen hundred to four hundred the taxpayer will save £230 million a year. Now I am no mathematician but if the number of cases remains broadly the same where does this figure come from? Ah, says Grayling, actually the number of cases before the courts is falling.

And he is right. Not because of a massive drop in crime but because of an insidious practice where offenders are very often not even charged. Why, because they are not guilty? No. To save money. The SUN has reported the massive increase in police cautions over the last few years. Many for hardened criminals and some for serious sexual offences. I am aware of serious frauds which are regarded as far too expensive to prosecute. This is not just a national disgrace but an affront to every decent law abiding citizen who deserves to feel safe in their homes and on the street.

It is not Conservative.

We have been told that the bar will be excluded from competitive tendering, but it makes no difference. Solicitors will have to compete for a franchise against really big business most of whom have had no legal experience nor training. It sounds like a sick joke but G4S could well be a major player in this. So what happens to a small/medium sized but efficient firm of solicitors who offer a decent service? They will be thrown to the wolves. And what choice will the public have? Now this you will love as it is so Sir Humphrey. None. There will be a bureaucracy who will determine whom your legal representation will be. So far nobody has worked out how much they will cost. And the legal corporations will not instruct skilled and experienced barristers. They’ll keep the cash and send a kid to court on the cheap.

So what do we have? A government that believes in law and order but lets criminals off to save cash.

Insane.

A government who believes in choice in education and in health but not for someone who could wrongly have their reputations trashed or wrongly imprisoned.

A disgrace.

A government who believes in small businesses who will be throwing a thousand efficient and cost effective firms to the wall. And losing generations of skill and expertise.

Unforgivable.

But there is something even worse. We are told that there will be a financial incentive to lawyers if their clients plead guilty. I believe in incentives for the guilty to put their hands up at an early stage. But to offer us more money if they do will certainly lead to dodgy advice from the new corporations. We’ve had casino banking, welcome to casino law, where the house will always win. And justice always loses.

Has anyone thought through where the new generation of judges will be drawn from? It’s too far down the road so I doubt it. But after the independent bar is dead and buried and high street solicitors ethnically cleansed it will be from the legal sweat shops manned by under qualified and underpaid nine till fivers. So the next plan will be for the judiciary to be a separate career structure.

God help us.

In the next few weeks of “consultation” barristers and solicitors will be deciding how we should react. We are not demanding more money, nor asking for the swingeing cuts to our fees to be reversed. We just want to warn the public that they are about to lose something very precious.The right to a fair trial. The right to be properly represented by those who will give unbiased advise which will be in their clients interests not those who want to make a fast buck.

Can you imagine the uproar if a nurse accused of assaulting a patient or a teacher having sex with a child was given legal advice by an inexperienced under qualified lawyer. And then wrongly advised to plead guilty because the lawyer will earn more money for his corporation? And can you imagine the pressure that these young lawyers will be under to give only the advice that earns the most cash?

Soon it will be the norm unless the public wake up to what is happening.

These proposals were put forward under Labour and I hear whispers that they have realised they made a colossal mistake. Sensible Tories like Dominic Grieve, the Attorney General, are troubled. But what of Nick Clegg who should be a champion of justice?
And what of David Cameron for whom I have nothing but admiration?

These policies are anti choice, anti small business and will turn our world class and well respected criminal justice system into something that would cheer Putin or Mugabe.

These are not Conservative polices and should be strangled at birth.

As it appears none of this requires primary legislation there is a good chance that none of this will debated in Parliament. Please sign the e petition
e petitions. direct.gov.uk/petitions/48628
It says, “the MOJ should not succeed with their plans to reduce access to justice by depriving citizens of legal aid or the right to legal aid or the right to the to representation of the solicitor of their choice”.

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Bojo or Jojo who has the biggest mojo?

26 Apr 2013 at 11:42

One of David Cameron’s greatest assets is luck. At a time when it looked as if his party would tear itself apart because of selfish tantrums of the right paralysed with fear over UKIP and trainspottingly obsessed with all things Brussels, nobody seemed to notice Labour’s steady march to the left.

If the Tories could just pause from stabbing each other in the back and look at the hopeless mess that is Labour, many of those with slender majorities have a fighting chance of being returned at the next election.

In many ways the political death of David Miliband and the real one of Margaret Thatcher are interlinked. David’s departure was more symbolic than anything else. It showed that the Blairites have given up and that Ed really is in charge of the sweet shop. And the death of Thatcher was a terrifyingly
graphic reminder of how dangerous and intolerant the left can be when they take control.

So it must have put a spring in Cameron’s step to hear Red Len McCluskey, the delightfully Jurassic leader of Unite, gloating over his £25 million strike war chest. And then to hear him calling not just for the the ethnic cleansing of the party and the expulsion of any living Blairite but to dance on any dead one’s grave. Of course it is political suicide.

This gives Cameron and Shapps day after day of open goals. This is serious clear blue water. There are dragons to be slayed and clear issues that will resonate with the electorate. Labour is totally on the wrong side of the benefits argument and its economic policy a shambles. What does it want do to about immigration? God knows. All they can do is admit they cocked it up last time round. It should not go unnoticed that when Thatcher was asked what her greatest achievement was her reply was simple: “New Labour”. Well, that lot have been put into cryogenisis and there is not much hope of a defrosting in the near future. Miliband hasn’t learned the lessons of Benn and the Thatcherite purists. The moment the party becomes a cult the electorate switch off life support.

The trick is for Tory backbenchers to keep their nerve when the Party gets a drubbing from the Kippers next week. Cameron and Osborne are used to these local difficulties. Cameron forged in the fires of the economy going into meltdown with his Chancellor making a stormy resignation and Osborne grounded in the stinking funeral pyres of infected cattle. Most people forget that he was Douglas Hogg’s Special Advisor. Both men have perspective and are reassuringly unflappable.

In politics it is the window dressing that is far more interesting than the policy. Some of the most recent appointments to the non jobs in the lifts have fascinated me. John Hayes as the great Poobah of Parliament must be a very sophisticated joke. So intricate that I still haven’t got it. But the real cracker is setting up this new policy board with sensible old stagers as Peter Lilley, probably the most effective Social Security Secretary that we have ever had.
If Labour play this as a lurch to the right they would be very mistaken. Peter is a thoroughly decent and compassionate man. He also know which policies will fly.

But what do we make of Jo Johnson’s lift off to the political stratosphere? Some are putting it about that this is designed to rile Boris. Others say this is the beginning of another political psycho drama where there is a real possibility of fratricide on the menu. The trouble is the Johnson clan are almost psychotically competitive.

And loyal.

It may be a beautifully cynical Mandelsonian plan to embarrass Boris, but I doubt it. Mind you if it works I have no doubt that Number 10 will anonymously put it about that this is a cunning plan. Already there have been unkind comparisons that Jo is much cleverer and nicer than Boris. And that his personal life is squeaky clean. I suspect that will not go down well at Boris Towers.

But my, are the subeditors going to have fun with this one. It is a gift to the red tops. Bojo, Jojo, Mojo and if the News of the World was about there would have been a reasonable chance of Blowjo gracing the front page.

So let’s assume (although the Sundays won’t) that JoJo was appointed on merit. But if it all goes tits up there is always the Monty Python way of dealing with things.
“Smear him in chocolate and throw him to the lesbians”.

God, we are going to have some sport with this.

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