31 January, 2007
Five reasons why I blog:
1. To show people that politicians can be human too.
2. To prove that I am not dead!
3. Because my wife was fed up with me going on about politics at home.
4. Beacsue I worked in the communications business and I thought it was be useful to "understand" blogs .
5. I thought it would make me taller, slimmer and more attractive.
St Crispin, Iain Lindley, Andrew Milton, Lewisham-Kate, Daily Referendum
30 January, 2007
David Cameron's Observer article. Sensible stuff, tolerance is not a blank cheque.
"I'm not finished yet" says Blair. Yes you are says Cleverly.
James Gray MP. Not happy with the fact that he had an affair but his association has backed him so we should draw a line under the issue and respect their choice.
Lord Levy's arrest. Innocent till proven guilty, but I can't help think that this might be a bigger damning legacy for Blair that the Iraq war.
Microsoft Vista. Bloatware?
It is not a race!
I don't like being overtaken, it is something that happens and I have generally learned to accept it. As far as I am concerned there are three groups of cyclists:
1. Those who I am fairly happy to be overtaken by, these include:
Anyone who has a bicycle that has carbon-fibre bits.
Anyone who has those clip on shoe/peddle things.
Anyone that has cycling legs
Anyone who can do that balancing thing at traffic lights
2. Those who I am not really happy to be overtaken by but I put up with, these include:
Anyone riding a bike that has a basket on it.
Anyone wearing a suit of skirt.
Anyone whose bike is clearly older than me.
Anyone who is clearly fatter than me.
Anyone who looks more than twice my age.
3. Those who I will not let overtake me.
Anyone riding one handed while chatting on a mobile phone!!!!!!!!! (it almost happened).
27 January, 2007
The Home Office has been one of the worst offenders when it comes to lack of follow through. Legislating for headlines is no way to run a department and a quick look back over the Home Office's last decade shows that headlines have been their big motivator rather than protecting the British people.
The consensus is that this week has blown any serious chance that John Reid had of winning the Labour leadership battle, but the seeds of this weeks problems were germinating years ago in the fertile soil of a spin obsessed Labour HQ. And the person who has held the reins of the domestic agenda since 1997 is one Gordon Brown MP.
The Brown camp may be feeling smug about the anti Reid headlines but Brown held the purse-strings when police numbers fell, when crime increased and when prison building failed to happen. He is complicit in this and as our friends across the pond say " when the s**t starts to fly, no one comes out smelling of roses".
26 January, 2007
I thought that Reid would get a grip of the Home Office, wrong again!
I thought that Reid had a chance at the Labour leadership, I don't think that he could really put himself forward with any credibility now. Perhaps I should just stick to predicting English cricket wins.
24 January, 2007
Unfortunately real people have a habit of saying, and indeed being, very different things to what you had hoped. First Jade puts her foot in it and now a young lady on Channel 4's Shipwreck program has embarrassed the channel and her parents, if not herself.
The inconvenient truth is that there are lots of people in the world who hold some very stupid and ill informed views. If your TV schedule is packed full of programs where the general public air their views unscripted and unedited eventually some of these daft comments will come out.
Reality TV is cheap and easy and popular and for the most part rubbish. Hopefully the last few weeks of embarrassment will convince TV producers to come up with some better programmes. If they will not change their ways, here are a few reality TV formats that they may wish to try out.
A group of TV execs sit around a table coming up with ideas for a reality TV programme. Each week the one with the worst idea is voted off, the winner gets their programme made.
"Pro Celebrity Boxing"
Copying the successful format of pro-celebrity golf, profestional heavy-weight boxers go ten rounds with some of the country's favourite "celebs". Nikolay Valuev vs Gorgeous George Galloway would get the series off to a good start.
Labour Defence Ministers spend six months in Southern Afghanistan being shot at by a highly motivated and experienced enemy. Viewers ring in to vote for the Minister they want to send home. The one with the most votes stays exactly where he is and gets on with the job in hand, as do the rest.
Viewers ring in to the office of a fictional Head of Government and pledge money (a bit like Children in Need) the ten who pledge the most money get a permanent place in the legislative process.
Please feel free to use the comment section to come up with your own idea. The winner get to watch me steal their idea pitch it to Channel 4.
23 January, 2007
22 January, 2007
Please remember it was the defence squeeze in the 1930's that gave Hitler the confidence to take on western Europe and directly trouncing of the BEF and the subsequent loss of life, equipment and ground in the lead up to Dunkirk.
St Crispin has asked me in the past if the Conservatives will give a commitment to increase the spending on the armed forces. Currently the back office boffins are working through our policies and spending commitments and are keeping their cards fairly close to their chests, but it is well worth remembering that there are a number of past and serving soldiers (TA) in the Conservative parliamentary team and I am sure they will not allow this poor treatment of our troops to continue.
21 January, 2007
19 January, 2007
The fact that the Met have arrested another person (the other being Lord Levy) so close to the PM is hugely significant. I imagine that Insp. Yates must have felt a huge amount of pressure over this arrest, it was always going to hit the headlines and cause the PM a lot of discomfort. The big question is whether Ms Turner is being put up as a sacrificial lamb or whether more senior heads will roll.
I am sure that the bloggesphere will be keeping a close eye on this.
18 January, 2007
Poor old Gordon, flies to India for a serious trade delegation and spends most of the time talking about a TV program that I doubt he has ever seen. Unless he watches while doing palates with Mardy Bum playing on his Ipod.
For me the more concerning example of racism was shown in the media reporting of Molly Campbell/Misbah Rana's move to Pakistan. I listened to a very interesting program while driving to a meeting yesterday (which you can listen to again here), it highlighted the story from Misbah's point of view and it painted a very different picture to the "Scottish Child kidnapped for arranged marriage" style headlines that were run at the start of the story.
It is impossible to tell the complete truth behind this story but it is clear that position taken by much of the UK based media had a very un-Pakistani slant.
16 January, 2007
I feel that and English parliament would ultimately lead to the break up of the union and as a member of the Conservative & Unionist Party I am naturally opposed to this.
How have we come to this? Well Labour's attempt to divide and rule by breaking off their traditionally strong Celtic fringe has created the situation we now face. Scottish MPs enjoy a particularly unfair power to vote on laws which do not affect the people who voted them in. This lack of accountability strikes right to the heart of parliamentary democracy and people sense this needs to change.
So what is the best solution to this problem? As the man at the railway ticket office said when asked the best way to get to Crewe, "Well I wouldn't start from here"! English votes on English issues seems to me the best of a bad bunch, the Labour party's "head in the sand" solution is really not an option in the long term but in cynical, party political terms is probably a very sensible position for them to take.
Labour kick this issue into the long grass because they know their is no clean solution, wait for the political meltdown that even they (in private) admit is coming and let the Conservatives sort out the whole mess. They are even preparing the ground now, how a Labour minister can blame the Conservatives for this debacle is quite beyond me. Yet that is what they are doing.
Labour opened this particular Pandora's Box, they should have the guts to at least attempt to sort it out.
15 January, 2007
Well, they have now turned away my business until they change their policy.
This leads me back to a view that I have had for some time. I feel that the armed forces are invisible, you see police officers, medical professionals, fire fighters etc. on almost a daily basis but our fighting forces are out of site and out of mind.
It is only in the last six months or so that overstretch in the armed forces has crept into the public consciousness and I believe that the armed forces would not have such a poor deal if they were more often in the thoughts of the society that they protect, it would also have a positive effect on recruitment.
The invisibility of the armed forces is relatively new. Before the problems with Northern Ireland military uniforms were worn out and about regularly and soldiers were much more part of society. Now that the IRA threat has virtually gone it would be good to see more service personnel in uniform again.
14 January, 2007
An MOD source said of the document "The whole point of a post-operational report is to learn lessons", this implies that there was something new to learn from this report. I wonder what it was? That the Afghans are tough mountain fighters? Hardly news, perhaps they learned that even Paras can killed if put into difficult enough circumstances?
The fact is that a number of people said that this wasn't implemented properly, including me. Field Marshal Slim once said, "the more you use, the less you lose", perhaps that should have been the lesson learned. I have my own phrase which I have used about this deployment, "Either do it or don't do it. But don't half do it"
12 January, 2007
The fact that she was trying to hide her descision and is now going after the press reflects badly on her. She was Sec of State for Education, she is a government minister and her actions go against the spirit, if not the letter, of Labour policy. People have a right to know.
There are three elements of government which really cannot be done by any other body, Taxation, defence and home affairs. This government has show itself to be completely clueless in at least two of these areas and pretty poor in the other, they are good at putting up taxes and that is about it.
I don't imagine any heads will roll, I can't imagine how bad things would have to get before any ministers at the MOD or Home Office felt a need to take some responsibility and do the honourable thing.
10 January, 2007
Dan came up with this genius idea. "Billy Idol".
09 January, 2007
There are a number of reasons, which are (in no particular order):
1. I need to lose weight.
2. I need to get fit.
3. Rail and tube fairs are now a joke.
4. Rail and tube carriages are packed, smelly and unreliable.
5. I really need to lose weight.
6. Susie loves me in lyrca.
7. Susie tolerates me in lycra because it means that I am exercising.
8. I can no longer eat what I like without putting on weight.
9. It helps to save the planet.
10. It makes me look a bit like David Cameron.
11. I suspect that Susie fancies David Cameron a bit.
12. I look nothing like David Cameron.
I forgot have much cycling hurts your bum, my arse is agony! And it was very windy this morning (the weather, not my bum) which made it a noticeably harder than the ride in yesterday.
08 January, 2007
I will be on the sofa with Ian, Rachel, Ben and a monkey at 18 Doughty Street.
Tax cuts, bullying and a host of other things from the world of politics and blogging will be debated. Tune in, turn on and don't drop off!
Today we were talking about the effect on the
This then led us onto a discussion about the importance of oil revenue to
The thing that I learned from Charles today was:
Colonel Jean-Bédel Bokassa, declared himself to be Emperor Bokassa I of theAfter watching the costs of the Scottish parliament building soar I would watch out for golden thrones if I lived north of the border.
, the solid gold coronation throne used up a huge amount of the country’s limited wealth and when asked about his economic plans he said “"We ask the French for money. We get it, and then we waste it”. Central African Empire (now the Central African Republic) in 1977
I have written in the past about our choices for the boy's education and like so many family decisions it is based on a whole range of criteria. I don't remember Ruth Kelly being particularly damning about private education so I don't think the the cries of hypocrisy will stick.
The reaction from other Labour MPs will be interesting, one has already said that this is a "slap in the face" to teachers, this is rubbish. There are some great teachers in some appalling schools and if your nearest school is not as good as you want you should do what you have to do to look after your child.
If the government wasn't so prescriptive many more parents could make the right choices for their children too.
07 January, 2007
Poor old Mirror, they are desperate to make the "dinners in the House" sound as serious as the trading of peerages for loans. Describing it as the "cash for dinners scandal" the paper then goes on to shoot itself in the foot by saying:
A senior Whitehall source said: "Using the dining rooms to raise money is against the rules. This loophole needs to be closed."
If it is a loophole, it can't be against the rules. MPs of all parties have hosted dinners and lunches for their supporters at the HoC for decades, in plain view. If it was felt that it was an underhand activity, do you think that it would have been done quite so blatantly?
Quick poll. Which do you think is more serious?
1. Donors being hosted for a meal at the House of Commons.
2. Donors being given honours and even a place in the legislative process.
There are many small and big C conservatives in the army but that does not make the army a politicised organisation.
Compared the levels of politicization in the Fire Brigade, teaching profession, rail industry etc. the army remains very neutral. Can you imagine the reaction from the TGWU, NUS and FBU if their members' workloads had doubled and their funding cut? Well the army may be moaning a fair bit but they haven't (and won't) down tools and man the picket lines.
The fact that the armed forces tend to put up and get on with it has been abused by this government and Gordon Brown shows little sign of changing this. When Brown says that the "MOD is the most financially wasteful department" did he mean the thousands of soldiers who use their own money to buy useful personal equipment or the £1,200 for doors at MOD HQ?
If the army is a "Tory organisation" that hates Labour, you have to ask whom and what made them so.
05 January, 2007
Bullets that don't fit, equipment not bought in time, buildings that are uninhabitable, regiments being cut, ships being mothballed. And yet the Labour government ask more and more of the sailers, marines, soldiers and airmen.
Please excuse me I'm off to stand in the garden and swear my head off.
03 January, 2007
Clearly fox hunting is a high profile rural issue but it is the tip of the iceberg, from the handling of foot and mouth, the farce of the Rural Payments Agency, gold-plating of EU regulations, closure of rural post offices and cuts rural health provision the countryside feels at best ignored and at worst vilified by Labour.
Labour have treated the countryside very badly, as I said here, but the Conservatives have recently been painted as increasingly urban and many in the countryside have been worried that a Conservative government wouldn't be any better. Today's speech was a good opportunity to restate the Conservatives support for the country without detracting from the important work that needs to be done in cities.
By the way, buying veg from greenhouses in the UK is no harder than buying greens flown in from Africa and Asia, just look at the packaging. Buying British not only helps UK farmers but it helps the environment (by reducing food miles) and farmers in the developing nations who get put under huge financial pressure from the supermarket buyers. Good news all round.
Oh they are sooooo precious.
I also hear that Labour/UKIP/Veritas/????? politician Kilroy Silk will be on show. Let us see if he can bring the reputation of politicians down any lower than George Galloway? I pray not but I somehow think he might.
The bastion is question is actually the Tower of London and there will be a female Beefeater in the Autumn. Women with 22 years service are still a real rarity in the Army so I don't imagine that there are many eligible female applicants, I have no idea what the entry criteria are either but it is good to see that she got the job on merit. Male dominated body, few female applicants, real desire to diversify . . . . . . . . now where have we heard that before?
I am sure that there will be a lot of jokes doing the rounds, I can't think of any yet but I am sure that they will come.
02 January, 2007
Their answer to the problem?
Telling the health professionals and managers how to do their jobs, again.
Genius. How many focus groups did that take?
The biggest argument that I hear is the secondary modern schools were appalling and failed the children that had to go to them. This focus on destroying the successful element of a system rather than improving the least successful element have never made sense to me.
I have long felt that it is not the rich who benefit most from selective education but the poor, and for them a good education can mean a chance to lift themselves out of the poverty trap. Denying this option to bright but poor children has always struck me as being morally corrupt.
Eric Anderson, one of the big brains from Eton, writes a very interesting piece in the Telegraph on this subject which coincides with this BBC article showing that a majority of people now support selection in education.
Whether it is an expansion of the Grammar School system or a modern replacement it matters not, but there must always be an educational vehicle for bright children from poor families to learn and be pushed academically. Not to so so is wrong both economically and morally.
I hope he puts himself forward, I don't think we need a celeb to beat Livingstone but I don't think we should exclude them either. I expect that Jade Goody could probably do a better job than the current incumbent.
Tom Conti has also expressed interest in the job, with a couple of policy gurus, London Assembly members, London councillors and political activists it should be a genuinely interesting selection.
01 January, 2007
A quick drive to Greenwich reminded me that the Cutty Sark was being refurbished and had no masts. OOOOOOOPS.
The boys were distraught so we decided to take a trip to Portsmouth to see HMS Victory. It was windy, as the picture above will testify. There is a lot to see at the Royal Dockyards, more than a day's worth with two small boys in tow, but the ticket allows you to leave and complete the trip at some point within a year. What a great idea, why don't more paying attractions do the same.
The drive home was slow, very slow. Dark, windy and rainy meant that the trip was going to take much longer than planned so we stopped off for pizza in Petersfield. I mention it because the staff at the Pizza Express (who were clearly getting ready for a busy New Year's Eve) were so good with the boys. Above and beyond the call of duty.
We decided on a family evening withe Mum and Dad at home. There were so many fireworks going off at midnight it sounded like the first day of the Somme, too much Champagne and rich food meant a sore head this morning.
They are not an illegal organisation and membership of the BNP is not illegal, stupid, but not illegal.
So why is a ballerina being hounded out of her job because she is a member? I find it amazing how illiberal many so called "liberals" are, they talk of tolerance but then display intolerance or at least very selective tolerance. I don't like the fact that she, or anyone else, is a member but until and unless she has done something illegal she should be left alone.
You can't pick and choose what you are "liberal" about.