The crystal Methodist's real crime was trashing an ethical brand

22 Nov 2013 at 09:31

Ed Balls takes some beating as the most repulsive man in British politics. Just as I thought that he could sink no lower he now tries to twist the crystal Methodist minister scandal into a ‘did Osborne and Cameron ever take cocaine, we need to be told’ outrage. Do we need to be told? Does anyone give a toss whether any cabinet or Shadow cabinet took drugs while a student? Or did anything that they might be ashamed of now that they are in public office? Of course not. If Theresa May was, as Home Secretary, was taking part in drug fuelled orgies, then she would have to be called to account. But if she was up to naughties whilst at university is it any of our business? Certainly not.

Personally I really don’t care too much whether the not so Reverend Flowers was stuffing himself with drugs and rent boys. What does worry me is that he was arrogant enough to boast about it all on a Cooperative email address. And what makes me really angry is that he was appointed to chair a bank without any knowledge of banking. But what makes me scream with indignation is that he has trashed a brand which was rooted in humane and ethical behaviour.

Many thoroughly decent people took out accounts with the Coop because they believed that their money was going to be spent ethically and wisely. Because they believed in the ethos of the Cooperative movement. They didn’t for one moment think it was going be used as a sweet jar full of cash for the Labour Party to dip in and out of when they felt like it.

What is particularly revolting is how Balls and Miliband are now distancing themselves from Flowers. Surely it stretches credulity that the chairman of a bank that is deeply rooted in the Labour Party had hardly any contact with the leadership? That Balls had hardly any dealings with the man who provided him with fifty grand to fund his private office? Do these guys think that we are all so dim that we can’t tell a whopper when it bites us on the bum?

But Miliband and Balls have got more form than Shergar for this sort of behaviour. Remember Damian MacBride? Well, since he published his very readable but utterly poisonous book about how he headed up Gordon Brown’s black ops department, they didn’t seem to remember having much contact with him at all. Memory loss seems to be contagious in the court of Miliband. But I wonder how long it will be before a disgruntled Coop employee leaks the paper trail? I will take a close interest in this Sundays newspapers.
Flowers’ real crime is not buying class A drugs. It is betraying the trust of ordinary decent people who thought that the Cooperative movement stood out as a beacon of all that could be good in banking. They have been grievously let down. So let’s have a root and branch inquiry into how on earth this fellow glided effortlessly to the top of a bank. Let their be naming and shaming and let anyone who was involved in the appointment of this man and who was meant to keep and check on his stewardship of the bank be shown the door.



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It's the God Cameron versus the nightmare Balls show. Expecting high viewing figures.

17 Nov 2013 at 14:48

There is an eerie silence that nobody is writing about. A silence that is so significant that it could be an election game changer. It is the silence of Conservative rebels. Like turkeys finally working out that voting for Christmas is not a particularly good idea, the swivel eyed loons have declared a moratorium on swivelling.

I suspect that it may even have crossed Adam Afriyie’s mind that the game is up. He is humiliated, friendless and what is so important to any wannabe leader, has proved that he has no judgement. But what has really shocked me about him is that despite all the money he has spent on media training he is a pretty awful performer. To go up against serious attack dog like Andrew Neil and agonise about ‘wrestling with his conscience’ over his amendment was so risible that not even Neil could keep a straight face. And Question Time was even worse. He has that albatross that no politician wants to have tied round his neck; not taken seriously.

But at least he has one supporter left. Nadine Dorries.
It rather says it all.

This has been an excellent week for David Cameron. For starters being called a God by the wickedly oppressed Tamils for championing their cause rather takes the wind out the sails of those who say that he should never have gone to the Commonwealth Conference. But he must have wondered what on earth he was doing with these dreadful shysters, crooks and despots who are publicly committed to ‘good governance, democracy and human rights’ but wouldn’t know what they were if they bit them on the leg. I suspect that when HMQ finally gives up the crown the time will have come to wind up the whole corrupt hypocritical ghastliness that is most of the Commonwealth.

And then there is the economy. Mark Carney, apart from many other talents, is a lucky Governor. The growth and employment figures are remarkably good and unless there is another Eurozone crisis, which should always be in the back of a strategist’s mind, things are looking very encouraging.

But let us not overlook the talents of Jeremy Hunt. After the Treasury he has the most difficult job in government. And yet he has taken to it like a duck to water. He strikes precisely the right tone. Prosecuting staff for wilful neglect of patients, making GPs more patient friendly and shaking up A and E to make them a real emergency service rather than a dumping ground for lazy GPs and dim members of the public is long overdue. This is a good time to do all of this because when the public realise how much their GP really earns and how some A and E consultants can make a small fortune moonlighting from one hospital to another, Hunt will have the moral high ground. If doctors don’t buckle under to more realistic contract they will become the new bankers in public perception.

But of course his greatest asset is Andy Burnham the living embodiment of everything went wrong in the NHS. He is not a bad man, just horribly unlucky and trapped in the tomb of his tenure at the department.

And let’s not forget Theresa May. Unlike that drivelling idiot Grayling who makes guttural sounds to appease the right and then wonders how to translate them into action, May has become a real action heroine, the Laura Croft of the Home Office. When she sets her mind to do something by sheer tenacity and strength of will she damn well does it.

So when Cameron looks around the Cabinet table he can take heart that a few of his ministers can be left alone to get on with it; Osborne Hague , May, Hunt, Gove, Pickles, Mcloughlan and to a limited extent IDS. The rest I wouldn’t give you tuppence for. Harold Macmillan designed the cabinet table so that a Prime Minister could command it. It should not escape the attention of other members that it is in the shape of a coffin.

The cherry on the cake for David Cameron is the mutual loathing of Ed Miliband and Ed Balls. What is it about labour leaders and their Chancellors? The emails revealed in the MAIL on SUNDAY showing that Miliband’s advisors think that Balls and his policies are a ‘nightmare’ is an endless gift for PMQs. Somehow Miliband is going have to live the lie that the two Eds like each other or more important, that they are singing from the same hymn sheet. Apart from a lounging a civil partnership I haven’t a clue how he will sort this.

In a perfect world Balls would be sacked. In the bonkeroony world of Labour politics he is far too dangerous to do anything with except hug him very close and sleep with one eye open and a gun under the pillow.

So it will be ‘God’ Cameron versus ‘nightmare’ Balls. This is going to be fun.



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It is time to break up the energy companies and separate production from sale.

24 Oct 2013 at 11:48

For the very first time in my life I felt sorry for both Norman Tebbit and Simon Heffer. No doubt I will need deep therapy over the months.

What a terrible dilemma these two old Tory dinosaurs face. They despise both John Major and David Cameron and everything they stand for. Both took an almost perverted pleasure in putting the boot into Major when he was Prime Minister, with Tebbit openly campaigning for John Redwood when, in breach of his promise, he left cabinet and stood for the leadership. And they regard monstering Cameron as a scared duty. I always find the Tory loony tunes’s version of party loyalty rather confusing. It has always been a conditional loyalty, “we will support you provided that you do it our way”. In other words, leave Europe, cut taxes and bash the unions and ban the Burka. These fellows support a cult rather than a party with everything viewed through the prism of Thatcher worship. It’s a bit like those who believe in the sanctity of life opposing abortion but gagging for a return of the death penalty.

So the dilemma facing the gruesome twosome after John Major’s energy intervention is whom should the boot kick hardest?

At first I was utterly confused at Major’s press gallery speech. I have known him as a friend for nearly forty years. Although I don’t see a lot of him nowadays I have heard him offer nothing but praise for Cameron, who is doing everything that he would have wanted to do. And I have never ever heard Major be snide about class.

So when I heard his comments about a windfall tax on the energy companies I assumed that this was merely a kite flown at the behest of Number 10. It was even spun (“friends” of John Major which is often the code for what he has been briefing) that he was helping out Osborne. But the Number 10 spokesman was quick to trot out the, “we have no plans” line, which is not a slamming of the door nor leaving it slightly ajar. If you wanted to play political Kremlinology it could be argued that this was a clever Major quote when he said that there were no plans to raise VAT, which he eventually did. Too clever by half I’m afraid.

To be honest, I don’t think a windfall tax is a runner. The view from seasoned hacks at Westminster is that Major was not attacking Cameron at all, rather pointing out two areas where the Conservatives could face serious electoral trouble.

The first is reform of benefits. Have the implications been carefully thought through? The bedroom tax (or bedroom subsidy) is a disaster and apart from the obvious injustices that are bound to result, it may well drive people into the private sector with serious public expenditure hikes when housing benefit clicks in.
And as for changing the criteria for free school meals, has anyone given a thought of the reaction of those families who will lose out? And has anyone considered the cost implications of what other benefits click in with being eligible for free school meals, like free uniforms and subsidised trips? I hope someone has their eye on the ball. The subtext of what Major said is that IDS had better be a genius or very lucky. And I haven’t even mentioned the IT which is a disaster waiting to happen.

But Cameron is going to have to make some swift policy decisions over energy. The reason the public is held to ransom by the big six is that they both produce and sell. It’s an unfair cartel that cannot be effectively regulated. And it squeezes out competition. Smaller companies can’t get a look in.

The answer is to separate generation from sale. And there are two ways of doing it, nationalisation which is unthinkable for Cameron, yet something being considered by Miliband. Politically, I am not entirely sure that this would be particularly unpopular with voters, sick to death of paying enormous energy bills. But it would be a step too far for fractious backbenchers.

The only sensible option is breaking up the companies. Free marketers will go berserk. But a rigged market is hardly a free market. It would also let in smaller companies with the competition reducing prices. But they will have to be heavily regulated to stop the cowboys putting out the lights.

David Cameron is going to have to be quick about this as Miliband wanted to do it when he was energy secretary. The big six will of course howl in indignation. But there is an election riding on this. It is time for action. Now.



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The Police Federation have inadvertently performed a miracle. They have made the public feel sorry for a politician

17 Oct 2013 at 06:17

I really do have to hand it to the Police Federation. They have managed to do what so many spin doctors, strategists, greasers and chancers have been striving to achieve for so many years. The holy grail of spin. The unthinkable. The seemingly impossible.

They have made the public feel sorry for a politician.
And a Tory one.

Mother Theresa, the Home Office’s very own Salome is demanding so many heads on platters that they are running out of platters. No, not so much a Salome as the Blue Queen screaming “off with their heads”.

But this is not the usual ersatz outrage practiced by the political classes. Politicians of all parties and former Home Secretaries in particular, loathe the Police Federation who fight dirtier than even the BMA, and they are never backward at putting the political boot in.

But it gets better. Next week there will be a public humiliation at the hands of the Home Office Select Committee of those police officers who changed their conclusion about their report into the appalling behaviour of those Federation officers who mislead us all into thinking that Andrew Mitchell had been less than forthcoming about what real happened at the gates of Downing Street. For them and who ever set this whole story up, they might well prove to be the gates of hell. And this is just a side show. It won’t be long before the retiring DPP will sending his parting gift to Mother Theresa, a prosecution trial in the run up to a general election.

There will be an awful lot of collateral damage. The Metropolitan Police Commissioner may be pondering what the future holds for him after announcing his total support for officers about to be investigated. And Cabinet Secretary, Jeremy Heywood, whose thoroughness of investigation was more dash than slap, might be pondering whether he wishes to spend more time with his directorships.

But although all of us connected to the Westminster Village maybe enjoying every morsel of this Smorgasbord of shittery, think of the poor bobby on the beat. Every day he or she risk their lives to keep us safe. How must they feel? Let down by the very Federation that is designed to protect their interests. I suspect that this sorry tale will lead to a lot of soul searching and culture change. I certainly hope so.

But there are bigger issues at stake here. I know from working with them every day that the overwhelming majority of police officers are honest, hardworking and don’t make things up to get a conviction. First the Hillsborough cover up and now MitchellGate. If the public lose trust in the police then Britain will start the long journey to hell in a hand cart.

But couple this story with two others that only appeared in the broadsheets yesterday. The President of the Supreme Court warning that cuts to the Justice system will harm access to justice of ordinary folk. That Grayling’s dangerous proposals to curtail the right of judicially reviewing our public bodies, particularly the executive were troubling.

And then couple this to the Chief Magistrate of England and Wales’s comments that because there are so many cautions, penalty notices issued without transparency and behind closed doors that we were in danger of sleepwalking into a police state. Without wishing to generalise, senior magistrates are not often bleeding heart Liberals, and hearing the words ‘Police State’ sent a shiver down my spine.

I do hope that Chris Grayling understood those key messages from two senior members of the Judiciary. But I am not going to hold my breath. Grayling possesses the three most dangerous traits that a politician can have. Ambition, populism and boneheadedness.

I think that it is time for Mother Theresa to ask for another head on a platter.

And what of Andrew Mitchell? Interesting. I don’t pretend to know the answer but will have a punt. I suspect Cameron realises that he wrongly hung him out to dry, feels a little guilty and wants to make amends. And he is brilliant at apologies. Sir George Young, the bicycling baronet (this has become a ‘think bike’ story) is such a gentleman he would happily cycle off into retirement with absolutely no rancour, because like all decent Englishmen he would want to see justice done. And it would strike a chord with the British sense of fair play.



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Chukka Umuna had better watch out for Tristram Hunt

13 Oct 2013 at 10:21

This has been a very strange week in British politics. We had the long awaited reshuffle which I found utterly incomprehensible. Please someone tell me what the point of it was, apart from warning our hopeless women Cabinet ministers (with the exception of Mother Theresa) that they can be replaced by far more effective alternatives.

And then there was the spectacular crash and burn of Adam Afriyie’s carefully orchestrated political ambitions. When a well respected and moderate commentator like Mathew Parris tells you on Question Time that your plans for an early in/out referendum are “raving bonkers” and when all but seven of the 2010 Tory Parliamentary intake urge you to withdraw your amendment, the game is up.

Poor old Adam has been suffering from a severe bout of Mensch Syndrome, which presents itself in those self made people with pots of cash with a sense of entitlement to high office. The poor things just don’t understand that not all of us share their ruthless determination to get to the top. One of the problems with the self made is that they often tend to worship their creators. Afriyie is bright enough to know that politically he is a dead man walking. I would be amazed if he bothers to stand for Windsor again. No doubt he has concluded that politics is only for the Little People.

David Cameron has been very lucky with his enemies. There is nobody of any substance or credibility who will stand against him this side of the election. His problems may come if he doesn’t win an outright majority when the Yellow Bastard haters will try do their very best to destroy any chance of another coalition. And then there are Miliband and Balls. Tainted with Brown and in the clutches of the unions. What a gift. To be fair Miliband has touched a raw nerve over energy prices, but people seem to have forgotten that his last government job was as Secretary of State for Energy. Oh, dear.

However, I did see a ray of hope for Labour after the next election. If you didn’t see Marr today, iplayer his interview with the new Shadow Education Secretary, Tristram Hunt. Personable, bright and more candid than it is perhaps wise for a member of the Shadow Cabinet to be. A few weeks ago I appeared with him on Question Time and found him to be rather good news. I may be wrong but I didn’t detect single a tribal bone in his body. And off camera I found him delightfully honest. I hope that he doesn’t mind me telling this story, but I tell it in his favour. When we were having a drink I congratulated him on his new job at Higher Education.
“Out of curiosity what are your policies”. I asked, expecting the usual dreary five point plan. At this Tristram scratched his head and furrowed his brow.
“Mmm. I haven’t got a fucking clue”.
Hunt is a man to watch. But he must resist the siren calls those who will want to ride on his coat tails for media training. The last thing he wants to happen is to end up like the over hyped and fairly ineffectual Chukka Umuna. Despite his flotilla of advisors, he has been completely out manoeuvred by Cable over the privatisation of the Royal Mail, the most successful privatisation in history.

And as for Tristram? Provided he continues to talk like a human being, rather than be programmed into a male version of Rachel Reeves, the future is bright.


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Calm down dear it's only the Daily Mail

5 Oct 2013 at 16:40

Please may we try and gain a sense of perspective on the the great MAIL versus Miliband war? It has all began to spiral out of control with everyone wanting a piece of the action and both left and right using it for their own political ends. Both are milking as much political capital as they possibly can. And both are plain wrong. Perhaps misguided, but more likely to weasel their way onto the moral high ground.

Unpleasant as it sometimes is, the right to free speech means the right to speak or write deeply offensive things. And freedom of the press is not a matter of taste, nor should it be. That principle has to be immutable.

Most people, apart from the immediate family, really don’t give a damn about the views of Ralph Miliband. Was he an enemy of Britain? I neither know nor care. And it is not of the slightest relevance to modern political debate. Ed Miliband has demonstrated by words and deeds that he is the most left wing leader of the Labour Party since Michael Foot. Linking him to his dad’s views will not help the electorate to make up their minds in 2015.

He was right to feel affronted. He was right to attack the MAIL. But now it has become a political crusade, with websites, petitions and every bleeding heart liberal weeping tears of bile, venom and revenge, but secretly orgasmically happy that they are sticking one into Paul Dacre.

Last night on Nolan, Stephen played the passionate clip of Mehdi Hasan’s vitriolic attack on the MAIL on Question Time. It was passionate, near the knuckle and touched a chord. It denounced in the most lurid terms the very ethos and practices of the newspaper. It received tumultuous applause from the audience. Good old Mehdi. What a man of principle. Until our producer rushed in a copy of a press release of a letter by the great man asking Dacre for a column in his wicked rag. You would thought it would have been a ‘although I thoroughly disagree with your paper’s ethos, I would relish the opportunity of putting an alternative view’.
Not a bit of it. He shoved his head so far up Dacre’s arse that you needed a team of sniffer dogs to remove it. As Hasan is one of the the most self righteous, sanctimonious and priggish of commentators it is worth revisiting some of the highlights which even had an old cynic like me reaching for the sick bag.
“I have always admired the paper’s passion, rigour, boldness and of course news values….I admire your relentless focus on the need for integrity and morality in public life”. He should have gone onto say “and how much I would enjoy the handsome renumeration package that you offer compared to the pittance that I am paid at the New Statesman”.

This is the rankest of hypocrisy simply because this letter was not written when Hasan was a kid, but in 2010 after all those things he had denounced the MAIL for had happened. I suspect we will not be seeing his byline for rather a long time as the left will have regarded him as trying to sell out.

Can you imagine Owen Jones writing such a letter? Of course not.

Poor old Mehdi has hanged himself by his own petard. I won’t be weeping any tears.

But now the right want to have a crack. “This means press censorship” they scream. No it doesn’t. There will be regulation, but it won’t be underpinned by legislation for the simple reason that in terms of providing false information politicians are even worse than Fleet Street. And the only regulation that exists for them is the terror of being caught out.

If Miliband has any sense he should remain rightly aggrieved, but just agree to disagree with the MAIL. And draw a line under it all. Sadly, his advisors will be telling him that this is the time for him to be be vigorous in attacking vested interests. Wrong. As operation Motorman in 2005 has shown no newspaper is without sin. They have all printed at one time or another unfair, unsubstantiated and biased rubbish sometimes gleaned from illegal sources. I hope Miliband’s wise and sensible new strategist, Patrick Hennessy, advises accordingly.

For those who have scores to settle against Paul Dacre (and there are many) the more you put him under attack the longer he will stay. Even Jon Snow posted a joyous tweet this morning that Dacre’s contract was renewed for only a year. But it always has been renewed on a yearly basis.

Sometimes I despair.

So can everyone take a deep breath and calm down so we can read new and interesting stories about the death of Diana masterminded by the SAS, the weather, new clues on Maddie and how coffee can cause your balls to drop off?

Not for a little while I fear.



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This Deputy Speaker election is going to be fun

4 Oct 2013 at 21:30

Just as things were getting rather dull in politics, my old mate Simon Burns resigns a junior transport minister to throw his hat in the ring to replace poor old Nigel Evans as a Deputy Speaker. Nigel is one of the most decent people that I know and I really hope that he will be acquitted of the charges brought against him.

This little election has everything that anyone interested in politics relishes. Malice, intrigue and madness. The malice is the wonderful grudge match Burns has with Speaker Bercow, “a stupid sanctimonious dwarf”. The intrigue, Eleanor Laing (another contender) has had to deny that she is Cameron’s favourite candidate. I wonder who McBrided that little piece of misinformation? There is no way the PM is going to be daft enough to get his machine to brief in favour or against any candidate. His fingers were burnt when his hounds put it about that he favoured Richard Ottaway as Chairman of the 22. That put the Kibosh on him.

But Eleanor is doomed.

And the madness? Our favourite Tory jungle bunny, Nadine Dorries, has thrown her straight jacket into the ring. The question is when she sees the lay of the land will she withdraw or be humiliated? Who on earth will vote for the poor thing? Cameron haters might have seen this as an orgasmic opportunity six months ago, but baiting Bercow will be seen as much more satisfying for the Rampton wing of the Conservative party. It’s all quite mad as Bercow has been rather a good Speaker for backbenchers. Anyhow, he has said that he will be retiring to Dunspeakin early in the next Parliament, so let them have some fun.

And there is the other interesting part of this tale, there is absolutely no way that Bercow can be seen to interfere in this election in any way. He has to be in Purdah or else his authority will be destroyed. If he has any sense he will rejoice that there is such a high level of candidates for the job and looks forward to working with whomsoever the House elects. And will it be a power struggle at Speaker’s House? Of course not. They will both, despite their mutual loathing, make it work.

Burns is both sensible and popular in the House. And he was a whip. He would have taken soundings. He made not have liked Transport too much (and that is an understatement), but he will be a popular Deputy. Without wishing to be too unkind, his job is to be fair in mindblowingly tedious debates, tell members with charm that their ‘points of order’ aren’t and calm everybody down when tempers get frayed. And if he wants any lessons just watch the Chairman of Ways and Means (the real Deputy Speaker) Lyndsey Hoyle who is master of the art and will one day make a great Speaker.

In the meantime Simon Burns will do rather well.

Dear old Tony Benn always got it wrong when he said that politics is about policies rather than personalities.

This election is going to be fun.


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Why Boris will have to get off his leadership bike

1 Oct 2013 at 10:13

No doubt Louise Mensch was a perfectly adequate MP for Corby, but lecturing the Tory Party from the comfort of New York on how to win elections via a SUN column seems rather off world.

The latest gem from planet Mensch is that the way Cameron gets an outright majority is to put Boris Johnson in charge of the election campaign by making him Party Chairman. Being Chairman in the run up to an election requires hard work, dedication, an eye for detail and loyalty to your leader.

Boris has many admirable assets at his disposal, but none of the above. He is the Katie Price of British politics. If he is not constantly in the news and if we, his adoring public, are not continuously offering our unconditional love and admiration, his world falls apart. This probably explains his enigmatic offerings about how nostalgic he feels about the House of Commons. I suspect it was more his feeling of nostalgia of not being mentioned of late as the man everyone is praying for to lead the Conservative party.

Last night I witnessed his car crash interview with Jeremy Paxman. Boris was his usual charming self but clearly hadn’t bothered to prepare at all. By and large if you are intending to go into the tiger’s cage it is a good idea to work out a plan on how not to be eaten or mauled. Paxo maimed, mauled and had a most satisfying snack.

I have no doubt that today Boris will wow the Party Faithful. But they have moved on. Cameron is now no longer an embattled leader sleeping with one eye open and a revolver under his pillow. He has everything to play for. He is now seen as a winner.

Miliband’s conference bounce has turned into a dead cat one. Today’s You Gov poll reduces labour’s lead from 11 to 6%. And he has nailed his colours to the mast as a Socialist and an interventionist. Two words that have not been uttered in labour politics since 1995. This will please about 20% of voters and terrify the rest.

To be fair, the promise to freeze energy prices has proved to be popular. The energy companies give a very good impression of ripping us off. The coalition is well aware of the strength of public feeling and if the regulator needs more powers he must get them. And fast. This could be Ed Davey’s moment.

So poor old Boris is going to get more and more frustrated as the Tories rally behind their leader and gear up for the election. His old strategist, Lynton Crosby who saved his bacon, will probably have to tell him the facts of political life yet again and remind him that his role now is to be a Cameron cheer leader.

This will not go down well. Boris will be reluctant to get off his leadership bike. But if he is perceived to be rocking the boat he will be thrown overboard.

And UKIP? Well, the policy is now clear. If UKIP supporters want to stop the march to Socialism, vote Tory. And absolutely no local deals let alone national ones.

This makes sense. The nearer we get to an election the more the dark than the dotty side of the KIPPERS will be revealed. And any Tory with any sense will not want to be associated with that lot. So I hope the strategy is to terrify their supporters with the threat of Red Ed, whilst exposing the UKIP policy vacuum. Maybe it was my imagination, but I did get the impression that Farage seemed rather desperate in Manchester.

But they shouldn’t be written off just yet. They will still do well in the European elections. But breaking the mould? Daft. In 1983 election the SDP were just two points behind labour and in 1981 twenty three Labour MPs crossed the floor with twenty one Tories seriously considering it. Now that’s breaking the mould. And what happened to them?

And Farage demanding that he be part of the television debates? Quite bonkers. Even the Greens have more seats than his lot.

The interesting contrast about the Manchester conference is that it is brimming with new policies where as Labour was virtually a policy free zone. The fight (and there will be one) with the GPs about making their surgeries more patient friendly will go down well with the public. Although the growls from May and Hurricane Grayling (everything he touches becomes a disaster zone) about tearing up the Human Rights Act are just window dressing and just won’t happen in such lurid terms. There will be more of a tinker than a tear, particularly when it involves national security. What the public want to be reassured about is that those who are a threat to their safety will be hooked out of the country pronto.

So it all hinges, as it always does, on the Leader’s speech.Red Ed is no longer a myth dreamt up by the Tory press, but a terrifying reality. And with Damian McBride’s little book of horrors the sky is black with Brownite chickens coming home to roost.

Like Banquo’s ghost Gordon Brown’s spectre will be scaring the hell out the electorate for a long time to come.

But the time has come to be more up beat. The economy is on the move, jobs are being created there is a light at the end of the tunnel that isn’t the train. Osborne hit precisely the right tone yesterday. If there are rewards everyone must have a share in them. But before the Tory right start howling for tax cuts remember that Thatcher refused to bring them in by borrowing. That must never be the option of a responsible government.



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McBride of Dracula has posed some awkward questions for the Emissary from Planet Fuck

21 Sep 2013 at 12:09

An old friend, Michael Boulter, the professor of Palaeontology who discovered the lost continent of Atlantis, (honest!!!) asked me over lunch a couple of days ago what the point of Party Conferences was. I was stumped for an answer. He then suggested that in the Middle Ages people went on pilgrimages in search of salvation, conviviality and that in the fifties Party Conferences fulfilled vaguely the same sort of role.

But who in their right mind wants to pay a small fortune to stay in a ghastly B and B to listen to set piece speeches on motions organised by spin doctors? And there’s the rub. By and large people in their right minds don’t want to go. MPs hate the bloody things and usually swan in for a day to take their Constituency worthies for dinner. The only normal people who roll up are the journalists and the corporate guys who find it all a bit of a chore.

And to the public they are of mind erasing irrelevance,

So my answer to Michael was the only purpose I could see for them was the shagging. Of which the Tories, of course, excel. Something for everyone’s taste, shed loads of attractive girls and pretty boys. You could cut the testosterone in the air with a knife.

But this weekend I have rather changed my mind. The conference season has become rather exciting. All right, the Lib Dems were predictably dull with a completely bonkers plan to spend about £400 million on giving free school meals to all primary school kids. Evidently this was the pork barrel roll in return for an equally bonkers Tory plan to ‘reward’ marriage for a bribe of £150. As far as bribes go this doesn’t even appear on the cash for questions seismometer. You might as well blow it all on a horse for the good it will do. But the right have to feel as if they are doing something to keep the KIPPERS at bay.

And now to the KIPPER conference. What an absolute joy and it is still going on!!! Poor old Godfrey Bloom has been hung out to dry for his sluts remark. Stephan Nolan played the clip on the show last night and it really was an attempt at a joke which went down fairly well. But thumping Michael Crick with an election Manifesto (discuss) is the the final nail in Bloom’s coffin. But he is only vaguely deranged. Nolan did an interview last night with Roger Helmer and asked him about the commitment to ban the Burka. He wasn’t aware of it. Dear old Rog hadn’t read the manifesto. “I’m the energy spokesman ask me any question on that”, he wailed. Nolan just went in for the kill. It was wonderful radio.

And we mustn’t forget Farage had a bit of a pasting for as he evidentially thought at one time that Hitler was not such a bad egg, sang Hitler youth songs and alarmed his teachers at Dulwich College for racist views when he was seventeen. “Well, we all say nasty things when we are young?”
Do we?

And then the cherry on the cake was the naughty boys at the beeb have been up to their tricks. There was a ‘technical’ fault in an interview and a Hitler moustache mysteriously appeared above the Farage lip.

So the conference that was to show UKIP as a serious party has been a splendid farce. And a gift for David Cameron.

But the prize for the most disastrous start has to go to Labour. Everyone knew that the McBride book of poison was to be serialised on the eve of the conference so couldn’t Miliband spinners have done rather better than bring forward some half baked welfare reforms and an off the wall Harman plan to let grannies share maternity leave? Oh, and plan not to increase taxes for those who earn £60K a year. Now that will give comfort to the low paid.

All of us in the press knew what Brown’s gangsters were up to. Of course, those who wrote about it were vilified. But to read the knifings and political executions in black and white is a true gothic horror story. The way the Brown machine was run borders on the evil. Threats, political human sacrifices, smears, sackings and lie after lie. All for what? To propel Brown into Number 10. And that was worth the wait wasn’t it?

It will be spun that Miliband knew nothing about it. This is nonsense. Of course he knew how the operation worked as he was a key member of Team Brown. Ali Campbell used to refer to him as the emissary from Planet Fuck.

To be honest, I doubt whether Miliband was actively smearing the Blairites in the way McBride was, but he stood by and watched it happen. How could any decent person want to work in such a repellant environment? So much energy spent on hatred and malice.

And they are still at it, doing their best to exorcise the party of all things Blair.

The McBride book in all its chilling awfulness has awoken some strange emotions in me. I am beginning to feel very sorry for Alastair Campbell and Peter Mandelson. They must have felt that they were in the seventh circle of hell.



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Vince Cable is playing a very dangerous game

18 Sep 2013 at 10:31

Poor old Cleggy really doesn’t have much choice in offering his party as the coalition makers. He can hardly argue for a Commons majority with a straight face so he is wise not to try. But it is rather daft to pretend to cosy up to Labour after his comments that they “wrecked” the economy. Miliband and Balls in particular. I wonder at what stage that Miliband will be so desperate that he attempts to love bomb Cleggy.

Well, I am not going to wonder for too long. After all, after his election Miliband was rather clear that he wanted to ‘exterminate’ the Lib Dems and could not work with Clegg. I cannot see any circumstances in which those two could work together.

But what about Cable? This is where it all gets rather interesting. Cable is an old fashioned tax and spend former member of the Labour Party. In his Glasgow speech he boasted that he once was part of the Labour machine in that city. He admits he has had talks with Miliband, “I talk to everybody” and is happy to spend time trashing the Tories publicly and Danny Alexander privately. And what has he done to rein in his representative on earth the awful Mathew Oakshott whose smile could make cream curdle? Nothing.

And there was this weird political coitus interuptus over whether he would support Lib Dem economic policy. Was he in or out? Of course, as a member of Cabinet he had to be in, but he made it very clear that he was holding his nose.

I cannot foresee at this stage of the electoral cycle the possibility of Clegg being removed as leader. But what if Parliament is hung again? Lib Dem grass roots instinctively would support palling up with Labour. A swift coup slipping Cable into the leadership is not something that can be ruled out. And his price? Replacing Ed Balls as Chancellor of course.

But the thought of a Labour/LibDem coalition is too horrendous to contemplate. There would be no checks on the left and the Orange bookers would be out in the cold. The beauty of the present coalition is at least the Lib Dems are a civilising influence perhaps not on the Amish wing of the Tories who are perfectly happy to sulk gibbering and frothing in a corner, but on policy. What really pisses off the swivel eyed loons is that because of the sensitivity of a coalition, policy emerges after discussion and compromise. Not always perfectly, but at least giving the impression that it hasn’t emerged from the back of a fag packet in response to a MAIL headline.

And today is a double whammy for Labour. According to the latest You Gov poll they have a lead of just 4% over the Conservatives. Worse, for the first time since 2010 more people think that the cuts are good for the country rather than bad. In the run up to the Labour conference this is a potential disaster for Miliband.

It will be his personal winter of discontent.

But what is happening in the LibDems is reminiscent of what happened between Blair and Brown. Clegg and Alexander’s economic policy versus Vince Cable’s.

Cable has indicated that the Coalition may not survive until the election, whilst Clegg and Alexander are fully committed on the record to it running its full course.

What may be happening is that Cable is positioning himself for a ‘principled’ resignation so he can cause trouble on the backbenches. It will be nothing of the sort. Just naked ambition. This will not go down well with LibDem grass roots who are keen supporters of the Coalition. This nearly open warfare could be a return to the horrors of 1920.

Cable is playing a very dangerous game which could be catastrophic for the Lib Dems.



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