Thursday, 29 November 2007

Gordon Brown at PMQs

He reminded (?) David Cameron that "in 1992, he sat there when interest rates reached 15 per cent". Sat there on the opposition benches on Black Wednesday. Two things, first the Conservatives were in government and so were sitting where he sits now and second David Cameron was not elected to the House of Commons until 2001.

Not too good with the detail are you Gordon?

Question Time

Do you think Caroline Flint actually believes what she is saying?

Oh dear Harriet

Newsnight tonight looks like sounding the death knell for Harriet Harman's political career. Take a look at Iain Dale's blog for some rather interesting details. It looks as though this is more than mud slinging, there is evidence. "It turns out that Harriet Harman has taken out undeclared loans to fund her campaign, which have not been declared to the Electoral Commission and the loans amount to a five figure sum. We already knew that she took out a £10k loan at the beginning of the campaign, which she was totally open about. Grossman is alleging that the further loans should have been declared to the Electoral Commission"

Another rogue poll?

The Independent poll that I reported on last week was dismissed by many as a rogue poll or a statistical outlier - hmmm. What about this poll from tomorrow's Telegraph? "An exclusive YouGov poll for The Daily Telegraph puts the Tories on 43 per cent - 11 points ahead of Labour, who have sunk to just 32 per cent. Only two months ago the Tories trailed Labour by 11 points and were facing the prospect of a landslide defeat in an early election. The lead - the Tories biggest since Baroness Thatcher's heyday in 1988 - demonstrates the extent of the crisis now gripping Gordon Brown's government in the wake of the run on the Northern Rock bank, the loss of 25 million child benefit records and the party funding scandal."

Don't forget that thanks to the bias inherent in the electoral system in this once great nation, this 11 point lead does not mean a massive Conservative majority. "According to Mr King, the professor of Government at Essex University, if the results of the opinion poll were repeated in a general election, it would certainly lead to the Tories being the biggest party in Parliament, probably with an overall majority."

Do you think Gordon now wishes he had held that early election?

More Labour sleaze

This time north of the border... According to the BBC, "Wendy Alexander's campaign for the Scottish Labour leadership broke the law by accepting money from a Jersey-based businessman.
Her campaign manager, Tom McCabe, accepted there was a clear breach of donation rules when a cheque for £950 was accepted from developer Paul Green. The MSP who sought the donation, Charlie Gordon, has quit as Labour's transport spokesman at Holyrood. The party has reported the matter to the Electoral Commission."

Maybe Labour MPs just can't help themselves.

Just asking? (Part 2)

The BBC have followed up my piece on the odd reporting of the Prime Minister's monthly press questioning this week. The BBC report that "Civil servants have removed all mention at this week's PM press conference of David Abrahams, Jon Mendelsohn and other players in this complex drama. Downing Street has defended the practice - citing a rule that forbids using "official resources" for party political purposes.

Gilliam Gibbons found guilty

Gillian Gibbons, the British teacher, has been found guilty in Sudan of insulting religion after she allowed her primary school class to name a teddy bear Muhammad.
Gillian Gibbons, 54, from Liverpool, has been sentenced to 15 days in prison and will then be deported. Thankfully she was acquitted of the other charges and so will not spend any longer in prison or suffer a public lashing.

Maybe Gillian Gibbons and others will think twice before going to work in countries where the atmosphere is quite so intolerant

Oh dear, oh dear

It all appears to be falling down around Gordon Brown's ears; he and his henchmen (and henchladies - or would it be more politically correct to just say "hench"?) seem to have more problems than they can deal with at any one time. The current sleaze problem is not disappearing and I don't think that launching internal Labour party enquiries is going to fool anyone. The paper is claiming that "Gordon Brown's chief fundraiser advocated the use of unlawful third parties for donations, it emerged today. In a potentially explosive revelation, it's been reported that Jon Mendelsohn suggested that at least one Labour deputy leadership campaign should use a "network" of people to cover up the real identities of donors."

Do read the rest of the story, if it is true then it is dynamite.

Also do take a wander over to Guido Fawkes's site, he is right on top of this story and all associated matters.

The European Scrutiny Committee again

I have blogged before about the findings of the European Scrutiny Committee, most importantly here and here.

This committee released a follow up report on 27 November, it is Crown Copyright and you can read the whole report here but here are a couple of emphasis...

"With two weeks to go before the signing of the European Reform Treaty, the European Scrutiny Committee is publishing a second, follow-up report on the European Union Intergovernmental Conference. This new report concentrates on the Intergovernmental Conference process, the imposition by the Reform Treaty of legal obligations on national parliaments and the durability of the Government’s ‘red-lines’.
In this new report, which follows the Committee's Evidence Session with the Foreign Secretary and the October informal meeting of the European Council, the Committee repeats its earlier criticism that the Intergovernmental Conference process could not have been better designed to marginalise the role of national parliaments and to curtail public debate. The Committee remains concerned that the Reform Treaty may have imposed legal obligations directly on national parliaments in respect of their proceedings, and doubts that the Protocol on the Charter of Fundamental Rights will prevent the courts of the UK from being bound by judgments of the European Court interpreting and applying the Charter.

"Chairman of the Committee, Michael Connarty says, "Although the Government has secured the right to ‘opt-in’ in respect of justice and home affairs (JHA) matters it is clear that if the government opt in on any measure ultimate jurisdiction will transfer from the UK courts. There are also new and unquantifiable risks which may be incurred by future decisions by the UK not to opt in. These matters should be debated on the Floor of the House before the Treaty is signed.""

"The Committee notes from the Government’s evidence that the Charter will be legally binding and that the UK’s Protocol is not an opt-out. The Committee further notes that nothing in the UK Protocol will excuse the UK from the obligation to comply with interpretations handed down by the European Court, even where these are based on the Charter. The Committee considers that the only way of ensuring that the Charter does not affect UK law in any way is to provide that the Protocol takes effect notwithstanding the Treaties or Union law generally. Such provision has been made in the past in relation to concerns by Ireland over the law on abortion and by Denmark over land ownership (see Protocol No 17 to the EU Treaty and Protocol No 16 to the EC Treaty respectively) but this has not been done on this occasion. The Committee concludes that the Protocol does not provide a guarantee that the Charter can have no effect on UK law."

"The Committee draws attention to the consequences of transferring JHA matters to Title IV under the new Treaty. This will give the Commission power to bring infraction proceedings against Member States in respect of criminal justice measures and provide for the compulsory jurisdiction of the European Court, with the result that the Member States will lose the ability finally to determine their own law in areas covered by Union measures."

"The Committee notes that the Government’s ‘red-line’ was one to protect ‘the UK’s common law system and our police and judicial processes’. It is concerned that protection will be lost each time jurisdiction is conferred on the Commission and the European Court and calls for the arguments for and against opting into any particular JHA measure to be closely scrutinised by Parliament before any decision is made."

"The Committee’s Chairman, Michael Connarty MP, said: “Despite expressing our deep concerns that the government argue boldly for a form of words that would put the sovereignty of the UK Parliament beyond doubt, there is still ambiguity in the draft Treaty on whether a legal obligation is being imposed on Parliament in respect of its proceedings. This is not an area in which any ambiguity is tolerable, and we look to the Government to deliver on its undertaking. We also retain serious doubts about the effectiveness of the Protocol on the Charter, and conclude that despite the government strengthening control of the ‘opt - in’ arrangements, there will be a steady transfer of jurisdiction to the Commission and the European Court of Justice in the areas of Civil and Criminal Justice ”"

Do read the whole report at the above address, you will have to because I have seen and heard no coverage in the UK media and especially not on the pro-EU BBC.

Just asking?

The Prime Minister's web site normally has full video coverage of his monthly press questioning, it's where I catch up on what new government enquiries have been announced in any week. This month is slightly different.

The page is here.

"The Prime Minister took questions from local, national and international journalists today in his regular press conference. Areas covered included the EU Africa summit, Iraq, capital gains tax and the Middle East.

Read the transcript (coming soon)

PM confirms Mugabe decision

Film versions of the press conference are usually posted on the PM's site but will not be included this month due to issues of content and the Civil Service Code. The transcript has been edited for the same reason.

Read more about editing and the Civil Service Code

The press conference session, broadcast live from inside Number 10, usually lasts an hour and Mr Brown has no prior notification of the questions."

How odd that no journalists mentioned the David Abrahams affair

I then thought I would look at "editing" and the "Civil Service Code"

From the links provided, this is the "Transcript editing policy" - "We provide transcripts of many of the Prime Minister's press conferences, speeches and interviews as soon as we can on our website.

Sometimes it is necessary to edit the transcripts. This is either because in accordance with long-standing practice under the Ministerial and Civil Service codes, government websites cannot carry party political content, or because the audio quality has made it impossible to transcribe."

When I clicked on the Civil Service Code link I got this message "Page not found Sorry the page you are looking for cannot be found. Sorry for the inconvenience. Please contact the webmaster."

How odd, what is occurring?

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Education, education, education

So much for Labour's education reforms, it is being reported (albeit quietly) by the BBC that "The reading performance of children in England has fallen from third to 19th in the world in a major assessment. The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (Pirls), undertaken every five years, involved children aged about 10 in 40 countries."

"Education ministers have repeatedly held up England's high performance in 2001 as being a credit to the country's education system."

So now the results are down, presumably this Labour government have taken responsibility - oh don't be daft. "After seeing the 2006 results the Children, Schools and Families Secretary, Ed Balls, said parents must do more."

I say, Ed you are talking balls as per usual. Yet another Labour minister promoted above his level of competence.

What is 47 - 20? How about 20% of 60?

Easy? Well it took Gemma Atkinson on "I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!" nearly 4 minutes to get it right, scary!

Mind you Janice Dickinson took almost 3 minutes not to get the right answer to what is 20% of 60.

I'd blame it on modern British education but that doesn't explain Janice, mind you I'm not sure what could explain Janice "Oh Maan" Dickinson.


I haven't blogged about the Annapolis peace talks before now and this is not by any means an in-depth article. It is just a piece of video from Palestinian Authority Television that shows that, despite what the Palestinians say, they do not want a two state solution. They want, as always, an end to any size of Jewish state in the Middle East.

Take a look at this video and the explanation here, which I repeat "Just a day after Israeli and Palestinian leaders at the Annapolis peace conference pledged to negotiate a peace treaty by the end of 2008, Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority continues to paint a picture for its people of a world without Israel. An information clip produced by the Palestinian Authority Central Bureau of Statistics and rebroadcast today on Abbas-controlled Palestinian television, shows a map in which Israel is painted in the colors of the Palestinian flag, symbolizing Israel turned into a Palestinian state.
The description of all of the state of Israel as "Palestine" is not coincidental, and is part of a formal, systematic educational approach throughout the Palestinian Authority. This uniform message of a world without Israel is repeated in school books, children's programs, crossword puzzles, video clips, formal symbols, school and street names, etc. The picture painted for the Palestinian population, both verbally and visually, is of a world without Israel.
The fact that this campaign continues before the ink on the Annapolis agreement is even dry appears to contradict the central promise of the Palestinians at the Annapolis conference: that Israel has a right to exist."

More articles will follow...

A legal perspective on the latest Labour sleaze stories

Take a read of this.

A figure of fun?

I blogged last week that I thought the atmosphere in the country had changed "when Graham Norton made a joke about you and the audience laughed approvingly it struck me - you are now officially a figure of fun!"

Today Vincent Cable compared Gordon Brown to Mr Bean, bringing chaos out or order - much of the laughter was staged by Lib Dems and quick reacting Conservatives, but the quip hit home and is a great soundbite.

Like John Major in 1995, Gordon Brown is now a figure of fun. Gordon Brown has lost the respect of the country and his party will soon start to look around for a replacement.

Poor Gordon, he wanted to be Prime Minister for so so long but I don't think he envisaged it would be like this. If I didn't detest the man so much, I might even feel a touch sorry for him.

"All party support"

Why does Gordon like to announce a policy and then say that he trusts it will attract "all party support". In the past this might have worked, suggesting that opponents were in the wrong, but now...

Jack Dromey

What do you think?

More on Gillian Gibbons

Please use this to register your views on the charging of Gillian Gibbons with "insulting religion, inciting hatred and showing contempt for religious beliefs."

A key passage from the BBC report is this (my comments in italics):

"Sudan's top clerics have called for the full measure of the law to be used against Mrs Gibbons and labelled her actions part of a Western plot against Islam."

"What has happened was not haphazard or carried out of ignorance, but rather a calculated action and another ring in the circles of plotting against Islam," the Sudanese Assembly of the Ulemas said a statement."

She's a teacher, the children were in primary school, it was a teddy bear - yes it's all a plot - maybe she was Jewish!

"The semi-official clerics body is considered relatively moderate and is believed to have the ear of the Sudanese government."

That's one of the problems; the people calling for these charges to be brought are "relatively moderate" - can you imagine what the hardliners want?

You can almost sense the BBC's relief at having another news story to lead on

I turned on the Radio 4 Six o'clock news expecting the lead to be the "sleaze story", but the headline is that a 41-year-old man has been charged with the murder of Rachel Nickell on Wimbledon Common. A full 5 minutes on this interesting but minor story before the sleaze story. Go on BBC try and pretend your man won't be destroyed by sleaze. The fact that the sleaze scandal story ran for longer on the news shows which is the bigger story.

Following Vincent Cable at PMQs today

Not sure where I found this earlier today on the web, I will gladly acknowledge the author if they contact me.

Reporting sleaze

It appears that John Redwood is also aware of the contrast between how the BBC is reporting the current Labour sleaze stories with the wall to wall coverage and invective in the 1990s when reporting Conservative sleaze.

Forgetting that in comparison to this government's antics those of the Major government were mild indeed, the coverage is very different in tone.

Here are some of the points John Redwood makes, please do go and read the rest of the article...

" also remember that the BBC was willing to glorify little known Tory backbenchers who had made a mistake or were the subject of allegations as “Top Tories” caught in a “sleaze row” or just in “sleaze”. Experts were wheeled out to tell us it was a government in crisis. Tory interviewees were subject to endless interruption and innuendo, as the party was confused with the individuals.

How different it is today from the BBC. Labour’s Chief Whip Mr Hoon is allowed to tour BBC studios to make statements about how it will all be sorted out in an enquiry, and how the government is moving quickly to show it is a model of probity, without interruption or innuendo. The BBC does not line up experts to comment on the seriousness of the possible criminal charges, or the seniority of the Labour figures involved. Nick Robinson is an honourable exception, as he is doggedly trying to get to the truth....

It was a failure to register the true donor of large sums of money that led the Prime Minsiter to admit that the party he leads had broken the rules. The first defence mounted was that the General Secretary - Labour’s own senior Compliance Officer - did not know the rules and was resigning because he and he alone had made the mistake. Many in the press doubt that only the General Secretary knew of the arrangement. The testimony of Hilary Benn, Margaret Jay and Harriet Harman - and their respective assistants - will be important in working out just how many people did know.

Today the position has been made worse for the PM by the revelation that his own fund raiser, Jon Mendelson, wrote a letter to the donor Mr Abrahams implying he too knew he was an important donor. This takes the whole issue that much closer to the doors of the PM’s study....

We should not lose sight of the reticence of the Communities Secretary Hazel Blears yesterday to answer questions how the decision was made to grant planning permission to Mr Abrahams. If the PM knew on Saturday of the problems, Hazel Blears and her department had some time to find answers to the obvious questions MPs and journalists were going to ask, but so far has not done so. The sooner she can give us an authoritative statement on how this was handled the better as far as the government is concerned.

There is also the question surrounding the gift of monies to intermediaries to pass it on to the Labour party. How have these transactions been accounted for? Are they all tax free transactions? Were there agreements in writing given the size of some of the sums involved? Why did the intermediaries agree to do it, as from their point of view it could prove to be all hassle and no reward if they received nothing in return for their deed?"

All good points and raising questions that need answering, somehow I doubt that Gordon's review will do this to my satisfaction..

The investigation

As "Is there more to life than shoes" says today:

"From what I can see, two Labour appointed Lords and a Bishop are going to do an inquiry into the finances of the Labour party and should probably report to Harriet Harman as Party Chairman."

Seems equitable doesn't it.

What other news is being missed due to the Abrahams affair?

Do you trust this Labour government with your personal data? How about the governments of France, Germany or Italy? How about the governments of Greece or Portugal? Still happy, how about the governments of Romania and Bulgaria? How about in the future the governments of Albania and Turkey? Why am I asking this surely irrelevant question? Because of the "Stork", this is the pan-European scheme that the Home Office is taking its part in which aims to make all EU electronic identity networks "inter-operable" - within three years. Further into the future, "Stork" is to allow easy access to social security, medical prescriptions and pension payments; just the information you want to be made accessible to a poorly paid local government official in Oradea?

It's getting closer to Gordon

It now appears that the Labour Party's chief fundraiser, Mr Jon Mendelsohn (Gordon Brown's selection) wrote personal thank you letter to David Abrahams and asking for a meeting; he is due to make a statement later today.

This is not over yet, not by a long chalk. Geoff Hoon is avoiding answering questions on the Toady programme this morning, even John Humphrys has cottoned on to this.

Geoff Hoon knows very little indeed, hardly worth having him on; he appears to have realised this as he has left the debate early.

Mr David Abrahams speaks on Newsnight

I said last night here that "I feel that there is more to come out of this story and it won't be good news for Gordon Brown". Did you see Newsnight last night? If not it should appear here later today.

However, thanks to the ever wonderful Guido Fawkes, there is already a transcript of Jeremy Paxman's telephone interview with David Abrahmas available, you can read the whole interview here, and I think you should, but here are a few key exchanges (I have corrected a couple of the attributions that Guido seems to have got wrong...:

"Paxman: How recently have you been in contact with Gordon Brown’s fundraiser, Jonathan Mendelson?

Abrahams: Well, I’ve just got a letter today through my door in Newcastle, it came at 1.30pm today and it’s a personal message from John Mendelson and I’ll just read you extracts of the letter, it’s in his own hand.

“Dear David thank you for your message which Oliver passed onto me, the party is of course very appreciative of all the support you have given over many years at some point I would like to have the opportunity to talk with you personally about what we are doing and our plans for the time between now and the next general election. I know your diary is very busy but as one of the party’s strongest supporters it is only right that you are kept informed of what we are doing and the priorities that we are assigning to our resources. Any time that your diary allows, when you are next in London, I would very much like to meet to discuss this with you. Warmest regards. John. The Director of General Election Resources.

Paxman: And that letter arrived today

Paxman: And that is contrary to what Geoff Hoon just stated on the program

Abrahams: Absolutely."

"Abrahams: I can’t tell you for sure, because as far as I was concerned, I suggested to my associates that they made donations to the labour party and umm I did mention to the general secretary that I knew people who would support the labour party and I would be instrumental in insuring that donations were forthcoming and that was my role in that specific, for that specific purpose without wanting to get directly involved myself and at the same time until the weekend I didn’t know it was illegal for a person to hasn’t personally donated to declare his hand to the electoral commission otherwise I most certainly wouldn’t have contributed in this way"

What more is there to emerge on this story? How will Gordon Brown be able to defend his innocence at PMQs at noon today? Will Harriet Harman be sacrificed, will that be enough? Is it too late to put money on Jack Straw becoming the next PM?

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Who knew what and when?

Curiouser and curiouser, ITV news are reporting that Janet Dunn, the wife of one of Mr Abrahams' employees, donated £25,000 to the Labour Party in January 2003 but didn't know about it, she and her husband are Conservative supporters. Mr Ruddick claims to only have made one donation of £80,000 not the figure that the Electoral Commission reporting of £196,850.

What of Margaret Jay's intervention? This is all really peculiar - from the Metro "Mr Benn said today they declined the cheque believing if Mr Abrahams wanted to make a donation he should do so in his own name. 'During the deputy leadership contest, Hilary Benn's campaign was sent a cheque by Janet Kidd for £5,000,' said a spokesman for Mr Benn. 'Margaret Jay, who was supporting the campaign, made us aware that this donation was on behalf of Mr David Abrahams. 'We didn't accept it because we felt that if Mr Abrahams wanted to make a donation, he could do so in his own name. We returned the cheque.' Subsequently, Mr Abrahams sent a cheque in his own name to Mr Benn's campaign, which was accepted and registered with the Electoral Commission." You can read more here.

I feel that there is more to come out of this story and it won't be good news for Gordon Brown; do you think he'll be having nice or nasty dreams tonight?

The BBC Have Your Say re Gillian Gibbons and the naming of a teddy

Following on from this article I see the BBC are not really pushing the interests of the British teacher - see this.

Of interest?

Take a look at this from the BBC last year.

The ComRes poll in The Independent

As I previewed yesterday the latest ComRes poll in The Independent does indeed show a 13 point lead for the Conservative party. What is key is the voting splits which are "the Tories on 40 per cent (down one point on last month), Labour on 27 per cent (down six points), the Liberal Democrats on 18 per cent (up two) and other parties 14 per cent (up four)". This is a weird set of results from a polling organisation that generally gives Labour their worst polling figures compared to the other pollsters. The Conservatives are actually down 1 point (which is statistically insignificant) at 40%, Labour down 6 points at 27% and the Lib Dems up 2 at 18%, most oddly the "other parties" are up 4 at 14%. Is this just reflective of the Labour vote collapsing even further in Scotland and Wales or is there something else happening with the BNP vote? You can see the detailed data here and the October data here. If you have the time you can do a comparison, if I have the time then I will!

An interesting back story on Mr Abrahams and the Labour Party

Take a read of this article by Stephen Pollard in The Spectator. Some very interesting views put forward including:

"It is possible - just - that when they [Cabinet Ministers] say they have no idea who David Abrahams is, or cannot recall ever meeting him, they are telling the truth. It is, after all, possible that there are people in the country who have never heard of, say, Gordon Brown. Possible, yes; but very, very unlikely. Indeed, far from keeping himself to himself, as is being written, Abrahams was about the pushiest person I ever came across in my time at the Fabians - and in politics, that is saying something. He would ring up the office asking about meetings and contact; at those meetings, he would make a bee-line for the most senior politicians in the room. He was, in short, keen to be noticed."

"Everything about the current story smells. Abrahams' explanation of his behaviour makes little sense. Can he really have gone from being one of the pushiest and most self-aggrandising people I came across to being so afraid of publicity that he chanelled donations through other people? I don't think we have got remotely to the bottom of the Abrahams side of this story."

"As for the politicians, I simply do not believe those ministers and Labour officials who have been round the block for all these years who say they do not know Abrahams. It is inconceivable that they have forgotten him: he has a manner one simply does not forget.

If his status as a donor was anonymous and no one knew who he was, how come he was in the front row of Tony Blair's farewell speech?

Make up your own minds whether you call that deceit or forgetfulness. I've made up mine. They know who he is all right; they must do if they have been at party functions. They just don't want to admit it."

Monday, 26 November 2007

Hot off the press

It is heavily rumoured that tomorrow's ComRes poll in the Independent will show a 13 point lead for the Conservatives. This seems odd and ComRes's polls do fluctuate more than most, but if true it is a massive lead. What would be most interesting is to see how the lead is made up; Conservatives up at the expense of Labour and/or Lib Dems, Conservatives and Lib Dems up at expense of Labour, Don't Know's/a plague on all your parties up at the expense of all parties - we will find out tonight... Although I doubt the BBC will report it.

Of course this poll was taken before today's sleazy revelations; how did the Labour 1997 campaign song go? Things can only get better...

Coming soon on NotaSheep

1. Modernisation grants - an expose

2. The inside tip on Gordon's brilliance in splitting the regulation of financial institutions between three parties

All good things come to those who wait...

Tipping point

I wonder if the events of the last few weeks: Northern Rock, incompetent handling of data and now the Abrahams funding story; mean that we have finally reached the tipping point.

I believe that we may have reached that point where the derision of Gordon Brown and the Labour party reaches beyond the blogosphere and into the mainstream. I blogged last week about Graham Norton's joke and then we had some nastier than I was expecting remarks on Have I Got News For You on Friday. Today it seems as though the Sun newspaper maybe about to turn on Gordon Brown, the hints have been there before but today that point is noticeably closer.

Gordon's supporters in the Guardian will continue to support him and the BBC will continue to allow Labour apparatchiks like Dennis McShane to obfuscate as much as possible and to muddy the waters without challenge whilst the BBC "experts" continue to shill for Gordon Brown and against the Conservatives BUT I think the public have begun to realise that this Labour government have brought political sleaze to a whole new level.

Whiter than white, don't make me sick!

Gordon, this does not look good. I think I will put some money on Jack Straw becoming the next leader of the Labour party.

An odd Labour funding story (continued again)

Events are moving apace, the BBC are now reporting that:

"Labour general secretary Peter Watt has resigned following the revelation that a property developer made donations to the party via two colleagues.
David Abrahams gave more than £400,000 through associates, claiming he wanted to avoid publicity.

Mr Watt told a meeting of officers of Labour's National Executive Committee that he had known about the arrangement but not that it might be illegal.

He added that he had always "prided myself on having complete integrity"."

Further to my earlier post today, I really want to make sure what Mr Abrahams said on the Today programme this morning before I comment on this part of the story...

UPDATE: I think I may have misheard, so no great expose I am afraid.

The BBC report also tells us that "Mr Watt said that, as general secretary, he was legally responsible for the reporting obligations for the party. He added: "I was aware of arrangements whereby David Abrahams gave gifts to business associates and a solicitor who were permissible donors and who in turn passed them on to the Labour Party and I believed at the time my reporting obligations had been appropriately complied with. "As a result of press coverage over the weekend, I sought legal advice on behalf of the Labour Party. I was advised that, unbeknown to me, there were additional reporting requirements. "Once I discovered this error, I immediately notified the officers of the National Executive Committee. "I take full responsibility for the Labour Party's reporting obligations. Consistent with my own and the party's commitment to the highest standards in public life, it is with great sadness I have decided to resign my position as general secretary with immediate effect.""

Mr Abrahms' conduit, Mr Ruddick, apparently said "I can't stand Labour. I can't stand any politicians."
Sounds like a sensible chap.

Unless it is proved otherwise to me I will have to assume that New Labour have been caught out trying another way to circumvent the legislation obliging political parties to declare the source of all donations above a certain figure. First it was loans in place of donations and now having a friend or business acquaintance donate the money on the donor's behalf. Whiter than white?

An odd Labour funding story (continued)

The David Abrahams donations story has taken a new and not altogether unsurprising twist. According to Sky's Jon Craig on Adam Boulton's comments section stories are emerging...

Sky Poll

Sky News have a poll running "Bad week for Brown: Have you lost faith in the PM?"

Current standings

"I stand by my man 6%
Let's give the guy some time 23%
I never trusted him anyway 71%

Total Votes 16,452"

Looking good Gordon!

More ...

Please take a read of this article - I do not have the time to cover this matter at present so please read Harry's Place instead!

Bizarre news story of the day

Apparently "A British schoolteacher has been arrested in Sudan accused of insulting Islam's Prophet, after she allowed her pupils to name a teddy bear Muhammad...The BBC's correspondent Amber Henshaw said Ms Gibbons' punishment could be up to six months in jail, 40 lashes or a fine. The school has been closed until January for fear of reprisals. Fellow teachers at Khartoum's Unity High School told Reuters news agency they feared for Ms Gibbons' safety after receiving reports that men had started gathering outside the police station where she was being held. The school's director, Robert Boulos, said: "This is a very sensitive issue. We are very worried about her safety...Ms Gibbons, who joined the school in August, asked a seven-year-old girl to bring in her teddy bear and asked the class to pick names for it, he said. "They came up with eight names including Abdullah, Hassan and Muhammad," Mr Boulos said, adding that she then had the children vote on a name. Twenty out of the 23 children chose Muhammad as their favourite name. Mr Boulos said each child was then allowed to take the bear home at weekends and told to write a diary about what they did with it. He said the children's entries were collected in a book with a picture of the bear on the cover and a message which read, "My name is Muhammad."

The article continues "It is seen as an insult to Islam to attempt to make an image of the Prophet Muhammad." How is this bear an image of the "Prophet Muhammad"? Surely it is just a child's toy that has been given the same name as the "Prophet Muhammad", in the same way that Muhammad (or variations on that name) is the most popular boys name in Islamic countries and soon to be in the UK as well (see below).

"He said police had seized the book and asked to interview the girl who owned the bear."

I assume the bear has not yet been interviewed!

Of course since this is the BBC, they have to end the article with the reminder "Cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad printed in several European newspapers sparked violent protests around the world in 2006."

Sky News bring us the fact that the BBC never reveal namely "There is no specific, or explicit ban in the Koran on images of Allah or the Prophet Mohammed - be they carved, painted or drawn. However, chapter 42, verse 11 of the Koran does say: "[Allah is] the originator of the heavens and the earth... [there is] nothing like a likeness of Him."

I don't think anyone though the teddy bear was meant to represent the "Prophet Muhammad" any more than naming a boy in Bradford "Mohamed" is done to suggest that the boy is a representation of the "Prophet Muhammad". I see from this report from earlier this year that "Muhammad is now second only to Jack as the most popular name for baby boys in Britain and is likely to rise to No 1 by next year...The name, if all 14 different spellings are included, was shared by 5,991 newborn boys last year, beating Thomas into third place, followed by Joshua and Oliver. Scholars said that the name’s rise up the league table was driven partly by the growing number of young Muslims having families, coupled with the desire to name their child in honour of the Prophet. Muhammad Anwar, Professor of Ethnic Relations at Warwick University, said: “Muslim parents like to have something that shows a link with their religion or with the Prophet.”"

"Although the official names register places the spelling Mohammed at No 23, an analysis of the top 3,000 names provided by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) puts Muhammad at No 2 once the 14 spellings are taken into account. If its popularity continues – it rose by 12 per cent last year – the name will take the top spot by the end of this year. It first entered the Top 30 in 2000....The leading name for girls born to Muslim parents in 2006 was Aisha, in 110th place. Its meaning is “wife of the Prophet” or “life”."

For your information "The different spellings of Muhammad in 2006 and the number of occurrences - Mohammed 2,833 Muhammad 1,422 Mohammad 920 Muhammed 358 Mohamed 354 Mohamad 29 Mahammed 18 Mohammod 13 Mahamed 12 Muhammod 9 Muhamad 7 Mohmmed 6 Mohamud 5 Mohammud 5"

Muslims do seem to be very touchy about representations of the Prophet Muhammad, it is a shame they are less touchy about the flogging of rape victims.

Hilary Clinton

Some time ago, I blogged as follows:

"The Clintons, a delightful couple almost on a par with the Blair's when it comes to political sleaze. The newest rumour about the Clintons is sexual but concerns Hilary rather than, as you might expect, Bill. However it does, as usual, involve another woman.

I don't know if this rumour of lesbianism is true, nor do I care if Hilary is enjoying a "Boston Marriage" with Huma Abedin; bearing in mind Bill's record on marital fidelity I wouldn't blame her at all. What interests me is the way the US liberal press are ignoring this story so completely, I wonder if they would cover the story if it concerned Rudy Giuliani's wife. Of course they would, they have faithfully covered Rudy's history of marital problems for years. However Rudy Giuliani is a Republican candidate and therefore his "private life" is a legitimate matter for concern and discussion; Hilary Clinton is a Democrat and therefore her private life is her own affair and none of our business.

The US liberal media are desperate to get a Democrat back into the White House and Hilary Clinton is their current chosen candidate, although they will swap to Barack Obama should he seem to be the candidate with the best chance of not losing to the Republican candidate in 2008."

Now I read that "The anonymous e-mails and letters began dropping into inboxes and through front doors this summer. One claimed that Hillary Clinton was having a lesbian affair with Huma Abedin, her beautiful aide. Another online mass-mailing cautioned of the “dark secrets” of Mitt Romney’s Mormonism. A blogger claiming to support John McCain said that Rudy Giuliani's wife supported the killing of “innocent puppies”. Flyers appeared on cars accusing Barack Obama of being a Muslim extremist. An anonymous website said that Fred Thompson was a corrupt playboy. Welcome to South Carolina, the foulest swamp of electoral dirty tricks in America. This state’s primary race has already become the sleaziest leg of the 2008 presidential campaign."

Hilray Clinton's team are denying the story thus "it is not even a tabloid trash story".

Meanwhile Guido Fawkes informs us of the "alleged line from Bill Clinton in his former mistress' book Sleeping With the President: My Intimate Years With Bill Clinton by Gennifer Flowers, where he is said to have claimed that Hillary "has probably eaten more pussy than I have""

All most interesting and yet irrelevant, as I said previously "I don't know if this rumour of lesbianism is true, nor do I care if Hilary is enjoying a "Boston Marriage" with Huma Abedin; bearing in mind Bill's record on marital fidelity I wouldn't blame her at all. What interests me is the way the US liberal press are ignoring this story so completely, I wonder if they would cover the story if it concerned Rudy Giuliani's wife. Of course they would, they have faithfully covered Rudy's history of marital problems for years. However Rudy Giuliani is a Republican candidate and therefore his "private life" is a legitimate matter for concern and discussion; Hilary Clinton is a Democrat and therefore her private life is her own affair and none of our business."

Sunday, 25 November 2007

More from the Lebanon

I have blogged before about the Lebanon's troubles. It would seem that they are about to take another turn for the worse. "Lebanon is bracing itself for violence after the pro-Syrian president declared a state of emergency to stop power passing to rivals loyal to the prime minister. Just hours before his presidential term expired at midnight, President Emile Lahoud said he was handing power to the army to "preserve security all over the Lebanese territory"..Fears also spread that groups loyal to Syria, including the powerful and militant Shia group Hizbollah, may move to set up a parallel government."

How many more Lebanese must die before the world realises that Syria must be kept out of their neighbour?

More Government mismanagement this time at DEFRA

Read this and despair at this government's ineptitude.

Gordon Brown is a wanker

So claims Devils Kitchen this morning.

Oddly I bought the Ivor Biggun album when it first came out and was only discussing this track on Friday, although not in relation to Gordon Brown - synchronicity?

An odd Labour funding story

This is a very odd story from today's Mail on Sunday. " builder who lives in a former council house in Newcastle and "can't stand" Labour has been named as one of Gordon Brown's biggest donors "– prompting fresh questions over the party's finances. Ray Ruddick, who drives a battered Transit van, is officially listed as having contributed more than £104,000 to the national party's coffers since Mr Brown became Prime Minister less than five months ago. His contributions, combined with those of a woman he is linked to, make him Labour's third biggest donor under Mr Brown, behind Lord Sainsbury who gave £2million and Anglo-Iranian businessman Mahmoud Khayami, whose latest donation in September was £320,000. Since 2003, Mr Ruddick's total contributions to Labour are listed as £196,000. But standing outside the semi he bought for just £12,000 and wearing a paint-splattered fleece top, the 55-year-old initially told The Mail on Sunday he had no recollection of ever giving to the party."

How odd, how could this be?

Well it appears that "Mr Ruddick works closely with David Abrahams, a wealthy property developer who is a prominent figure in the North East Labour Party."
David Abrahams "was in the front row when Tony Blair made a speech to activists in his Sedgefield constituency in May announcing his decision to quit as Prime Minister. Last night, 53-year-old Mr Abrahams, the son of a former Lord Mayor of Newcastle, refused to say whether it was, in fact, him who funded the donations."

Things may be becoming clearer.

"The Labour Party refused to discuss what checks they made before accepting Mr Ruddick's donations, saying: "We are totally satisfied that these donations are in line with the rules.""

"Whiter than white"?

I wonder what "deals" have been done in the North East between Labour councils or development bodies and Mr Abrahams and his friends' companies? I think we will find out very soon...

I heard David Abrahams on the radio this morning and his wording was odd, I can't remember the exact wording but it intimated that he had been asked to give the money in this way. I will check the listen again feature and update this later. If this is the case then the Labour party are as expected up to their necks in this one.

UPDATE: I must have misheard as listening back there was no great hidden secret...

The latest opinion polls

A warning to Conservative supporters this morning; don't be too cheered by the latest opinion polls in today's News of the World and Sunday Telegraph. Although they show a steady Conservative lead in the polls and personal leads for David Cameron over Gordon Brown and for the Conservatives over Labour on economic competence, the boost in the Lib Dem vote may be more significant. Because of the way that the electoral system "works", the Conservatives need to win by around 10-12% of the popular vote in order to win a general election and their recent gains have been more at the expense of Lib Dem votes than Labour. The Labour vote has so far held up remarkably well considering that the truth about their "economic competence" is slowly but surely leaking into the mainstream consciousness; but for how long will this continue.

We do know that there is at least one person who will be blissfully ignorant of these polls and that person is of course Gordon Brown who we know never pays any attention to opinion polls - which must be news to Deborah Mattinson!

Here's some news that you won't find reported by the BBC

Apparently "An Oldham councillor who was found guilty of benefit fraud has kept his position on the local authority." However the BBC will not be giving this story any prominence because as we read on we discover that "Labour’s councillor Aqeel Salamat was convicted last week of falsely claiming council tax benefits." He's a Labour councillor so in BBC land, this is a story of no relevance - if she had been a Conservative then this would have been one of the top news stories on the BBC website for a while.

The report concludes that "Oldham Labour party has not made any comment." No comment from the Labour party and so no comment by the BBC.

Saturday, 24 November 2007

Fiona Phillips

Last week I revealed that Gordon Brown had "offered GMTV's Fiona Phillips a place in cabinet and a peerage. "Mr Brown told the breakfast sofa chat queen she was "a great communicator" and offered to fast-track her into government. Fiona, 46, would have been given a seat in the House of Lords, becoming BARONESS PHILLIPS."" Thanks to Iain Dale we can see that in today's Mirror she puts forward her "very own 10-point manifesto for a Better Britain, which" she apparently wants "to share exclusively with you" Since I think that my readership has little crossover with that of the Mirror, here is her exciting manifesto, just the sort of policies to endear her to Gordon Brown:

"My 10-point manifesto to make us great

1 EXTRADITE Jose Mourinho from Portugal and force him to manage the England team, while boarding at my house (rent free).

2 BAN all titles, including Baroness and Duchess, and scrap the Honours system.

3 SHUT all private schools. What's good enough for the rest of us is good enough for those who think they're better than us. It'll improve education for all.

4 BRING back lost childhood by raising school entry to age seven. Yes I know this'll cause havoc for working mums and dads but, er... let me come back to you on that one.

5 BAN selection in schools - no creaming off the brightest pupils. Local schools for local people.

6 BRING back the right to be a mother by upgrading the status of stay-at-home mums. The majority of mums want to care for their pre-school children but can't afford not to work. Maybe instead of tax allowances for childcare, cash incentives for staying at home? Er... I'll come back to you on that one, too.

7 BAN all private medical work in NHS hospitals.

8 GET rid of contract cleaners and make Matron and nurses responsible for hospital hygiene.

9 RENATIONALISE Britain's rail network. It's never been the same since John Major privatised British Rail, splitting it into over 100 separate companies which resulted in profits over safety and efficiency.

10 PROPER local authority care in the home for the elderly. Reinstate full home-he lp and meals-on-wheels services.

P.S. And, I know it's supposed to be a 10-point plan, but none of us can rest safely in our beds until we...Take George Bush to Iraq and shoot him.

Readers, I commend this to your house. Now I need to go away and prepare for office."

Mmm, inciting the murder of the President of the USA; that may have lost you the peerage.

As ever, Devils Kitchen has a most readable take on this story.

Incapability Brown - A good idea from a letter in today's Telegraph

"Re-landscaping the PM

Sir - As Prudence appears to have left the building dressed in the Emperor's new clothes, is it not time for a new sobriquet for Gordon Brown?

How about Incapability Brown?

Philippa Levey, Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire"

Incapability Brown it should catch on...

"you'll have to trust me on this."

From Biased-BBC's comments board comes this excellent spot by "David S"

"Did anyone catch Newsnight last night? I caught the tail-end of the show and as the presenter (don't know her name) was about to read out the day's market news, there was some sort of technical glitch; but she pressed ahead anyway and informed all who were watching that "it's holiday season in the US and the markets are closed, and the DOW unchanged." She then went on to say, "you'll have to trust me on this." Except the markets were not closed in the New York yesterday (the "US holiday season" being Thanksgiving that was on Thursday)and while it was a short day of trading (the market was open for 5 hours) the DOW was actually up 181 points or 1.42%!

This is extremely sloppy, unprofessional work, and to add "you'll have to trust me on this" before reporting obvious inaccuracies really sums up the Beeb.
David S | 24.11.07 - 2:47 pm |"

Money down the drain

Once again the UK have promised more money to an African country. According to theBBC "The UK has agreed to give Uganda £700million in aid, the International Development Secretary has announced. The money will be used to fight poverty in the country over the next 10 years, Douglas Alexander said."

A while back I read a report of how much money has been given in aid to Africa over the past 40+years. I will find this report and link to it here, it will amaze you.

More CDs go missing

6 more CDs go missing "HM Revenue and Customs has confirmed that a further six data discs have gone missing in transit between its offices in Preston and London.
The discs, which were reported missing on 30 October, contained recorded conversations between a member of staff and a customer making a complaint." Six CDs to hold one conversation! That's either one hell of a long conversation or the HMRC are recording at a very very high bit-rate...

Something to ponder

"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."

So said Benjamin Franklin, I assume Gordon Brown does not agree.

House of Commons votes on matters of conscience

A most interesting article on Archbishop Cranmer's most agreeable website has moved me to comment once again on the control freakery of Gordon Brown. Apparently "The Opus Dei representative to Her Majesty’s Government is about to face a distinct dilemma. It transpires that Labour MPs will not be given a free vote on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, and therefore Ruth Kelly, as a member of the Government, would be obliged to vote for the Bill under a three-line whip. Traditionally, members are given a free vote on issues deemed to be a matter of conscience, but this appallingly amoral government considers that such issues should be determined not by the collective moral wisdom but by the politics of power. Labour’s Roman Catholic MPs have a particular dilemma insofar as they will defy their church if they vote in favour of the bill."

This government will brook no opposition to its policy of ending support for the traditional family. There can be no free vote on matters of conscience; when the government is always right why should MPs be allowed to vote any other way? We are all to be considered the property of the state, who will grant us what liberties that it sees fit so to do and will care for us and protect us as no old fashioned family ever could. All we will have we will we will owe to our glorious leader. Sorry but I have just been reading Private Eye's "Prime Ministerial Decree" and it tends to set me off.

More BBC bias

Take a read of this; the BBC just can't get anything right can they and they certainly don't apologise.

Friday, 23 November 2007

The AIDS epidemic

I blogged on Wednesday about "scare mongerring" scientists and included this passage "One final point on the AIDS numbers; it is reported that the number of people living with HIV in Europe (including parts of Asia) has gone up from 1.25m in 2001 to about 2.4m now. Why might this be? Could it be anything to do with mass immigration from Africa? Just like the reappearance of TB in the UK, immigrations has been a prime driver and this government's almost total ending of border controls is to blame."

A contributor to Biased-BBC a "pounce" makes some interesting points about the BBC's biased reporting of this issue-

The BBC, politically correct reporting, Aids and half the bloody story.

Sex infections continue to rise
The sexual health of young UK adults worsened in 2006 despite a concerted public health effort to turn it around, figures show. In 2006, a total of 376,508 new sexually transmitted infections (STIs) were diagnosed - up 2.2% on 2005, the Health Protection Agency found. Young people aged 16-24 made up the bulk of cases of some of the most common STIs, including chlamydia. The HPA also warned of a continuing HIV and STI epidemic in gay men.
An estimated 73,000 adults are now living with HIV in the UK. A third of the people in Britain with HIV, don't know they have the virus. HIV transmission seems to be a particular problem among gay men - the HPA anticipates that there will have been just over 2,700 new diagnoses of HIV infection among this population in 2006.

And here is what the Health Protection Agency (HPA) from which the BBC quotes in its report actually said;
Almost half of the estimated 7,800 HIV diagnoses in 2006were in black Africans and 3% were in black Caribbeans. An estimated 4.0% of the black African population of England, Wales and Northern Ireland (E, W & NI) were living with diagnosed HIV infection, as were 0.4% of the black Caribbean population, compared with 0.08% of the white population…HIV prevalence in UK-born pregnant women giving birth in 2006 was highest (0.47%) in those with male partners born in the Caribbean or Central America, and was0.33% in those with male partners born in sub-Saharan Africa.

Strange how the BBC paints a picture of a white British youth problem when it comes to Aids and not immigration.

The BBC, politically correct reporting, Aids and half the bloody story.
pounce | 23.11.07 - 6:41 pm |"

Those pesky data disks again

According to the Daily Mail today "It was claimed that the password for the discs were inside the same package." I have been joking about this since the announcement that the disks were password protected as nothing the civil service or this government did would surprise me.

More realism about Gordon Brown (part 2)

Adam Boulton on his Sky News blog today has a report on Gordon Brown's visit to Uganda (my comments in italics):

"Opinion polls are atrocious for Labour, the Northern Rock Bank is failing, the government has lost the identity data on 25 million people getting Child benefit, ex-military top brass are ganging up to accuse the Prime Minister of neglecting the armed services, a Commons Committee says the MoD lost taxpayers millions selling off Qinetiq far too cheap, England can’t play football…

So the Prime Minister spent his morning at an African Primary School giving away signed copies of his book, ‘Courage’, as form prizes...."

Weird, simply weird. First what is it with Gordon Brown and visiting schools and secondly isn't giving copies of his books a touch egocentric?

Adam Boulton continues "but one does begin to wonder if Gordon Brown is cut out for the top job. He does not have a great deal of natural charisma and at times seems a little, well, plodding.

Take today’s trip to St Joseph’s Roman Catholic Primary School in Kampala.

Mr Brown told an old joke about asking a class if any of them wanted to be a politician when they grew up and none of them did. In fact he had asked a class just that a few minutes before but one small child had put his hand up."

Gordon Brown has got to realise that he can't do jokes. Tony Blair could do jokes, as could John Major, Margaret Thatcher was not a funny Prime Minister but she didn't try to be, Ted Heath had a sense of humour, as did Harold Wilson and James Callaghan. Gordon Brown reminds me of that really odd accountant who gets a little tipsy at the Xmas party and tells "amusing anecdotes", whilst the rest of the office staff look embarrassed.

"The Prime Minister compared his old school motto: ‘I will do my utmost’ with theirs: ‘As much as I can’ , but didn’t point out that they amount to different ways of saying the same thing."

Analysis is not Gordon Brown's strong point, I suppose one day we will find out what his strong point is.

"And he told the children they went to “the best school in Uganda, with the best teachers”, even though sitting within earshot were fifty teachers from other Ugandan schools who had come specially to take part in a citizens jury for him. Not very tactful!""

So tact isn't his strong point either! The search continues.

Newsnight on Gordon Brown's competence


"He was menat to epitomise competence", "labelled a control freak", "fingerprints seem to appear on every disaster" (I think the last one is right)

"Mr Brown finds his past catching up with him... failing the armed forces...Brown's pawprints can be discovered on QuinetiQ... have also fingered Gordon Brown...pitter patter of cost... disc gate...Mr Brown allowed personal debt to buiild up...competence was a dominant in cabinet...Gordon Brwon...trump card...trunp card "I've got the experience, the weight...another two and a half years, depressing but there you go..."

I think this might not be a common theme on the BBC which is a shame, I presume the Gordon Brown appreciation society will reconvene on Monday - current chairwoman Victoria Derbyshire.

More realism about Gordon Brown

Take a read of this article by Iain Martin in today's Telegraph. Do read the comments as well.

Then take a read of this article by Alice Miles from today's Times. Do read the comments as well.

David Blunkett's comments today on the Data Disks and the NIR?

Many thanks to Mr Eugenides for spotting this short article by David Blunkett, the twice sacked (or forced to resign) Cabinet Minister. Mr Eugenides has discovered that Mt Blunkett is the Chair of the International Advisory Committee to Entrust Inc., a "company providing internet security systems", for which he is, according to the Register of Members' Interests, paid between £25,000 and £30,000 per annum. Entrust run several ID card schemes around the world and "Entrust has formally registered an interest in the British ID cards project, via a scheme for potential future suppliers to notify themselves to the Home Office's Identity and Passport Service, and has attended two seminars organised for the ID cards programme."

It appears that Mr Blunkett's moratorium clause that prevented him from lobbying British ministers or officials for two years after his resignation from government expired this month (two years after his last exit from government). It looks as though he is now going to start to do some lobbying for Entrust.

Please assist me

Last Friday I distinctly remember the Skills Secretary John Denham announcing that he would create 7.5 million training places for British workers ill-equipped to deal with competition from migrants.

How is this scheme progressing?

The Northern Rock debacle continues

Information keeps leaking out and once again I have to thank the Guardian for this piece. The Guardian today reveals that:

"A Guardian examination of Northern Rock's books has found that £53bn of mortgages - over 70% of its mortgage portfolio - is not owned by the beleaguered bank, but by a separate offshore company.

The same investigation reveals just how vulnerable the bank is to a cooling property market and demonstrates the scale of Northern Rock's exposure to mortgages where customers have borrowed heavily against their homes.

The mortgages are now owned by a Jersey-based trust company and have been used to underpin a series of bond issues to raise cash for Northern Rock. It means the pool of assets available to provide collateral for Northern Rock's creditors, including the Bank of England, is dramatically reduced, calling into question government claims that taxpayers' money is safe.

This week the chancellor, Alistair Darling, told parliament taxpayers' money was safeguarded. "Bank of England lending is secured against assets held by Northern Rock. These assets include high quality mortgages with a significant protection margin built in and high quality securities with the highest quality of credit rating," he said.

The first tranche of the Bank's emergency lending to Northern Rock in September has been secured against specific assets. But the second tranche is secured only by a more general floating charge, which would mean the Bank would be vying with other creditors for repayment if Northern Rock failed. It is not clear how much money was loaned in each tranche, but the emergency loans are thought to have been for about £11bn each."

It would appear that although Alistair Darling has already served for too long to get the record as the shortest serving Chancellor of the Exchequer in UK political history, he still has a chance of being judged the most inept.

The shortest serving Chancellors of the Exchequer of the Great Britain were:

Sir John Pratt Whig 2 February – 3 April 1721 (60 days)
Sir William Lee Whig 8 March – 6 April 1754 (29 days)
The Baron Mansfield Whig 13 April – 2 July 1757 (80 days)

The shortest serving Chancellors of the Exchequer of the United Kingdom have been:

The Lord Tenterden Tory 8 August 1827 3 September 1827 (26 days)
The Lord Denman Tory (caretaker gvmnt) 14 November 1834 15 December 1834 (31 days)
Iain Macleod Conservative 20 June 1970 20 July 1970 (30 days)

"If you care about people you must be a socialist"

A fellow right wing libertarian blogger, "don't set fire to your jacket" has a rather nice piece that I think you may want to read. Take a look here.

The key paragraph being ""If you care about people you must be a socialist"

This gives you two options, grasp one horn and declare that you care about people and are therefore a socialist or go for the other and state that you disagree with socialism and therefore do not care about people. It is of course bollocks because of the excluded middle, it is not only possible to care about people and not be a socialist, it is entirely possible not to be a socialist because you care about people."

Thanks dsftyj.

More housing market news

It would appear that "There has been a slump in the number of mortgages being approved for home buyers by UK banks. The British Bankers Association (BBA) said that in October its members lent 44,105 mortgages for house purchase. That was 19% fewer than in September, and 37% down on October 2006 when more than 70,000 mortgages were lent.
The figures suggest that the housing market is about to go through a significant slowdown due to high prices and higher borrowing costs."

Who'd have thought it? The housing market is collapsing, so what does this government do? They impose an extra cost of moving house - HIPs - genius, sheer genius.

Stranger and stranger

The bombing by Israel of the Syrian "facility" some 10 weeks ago caused less fuss than I expected at the time and the story has almost completely disappeared from the MSM. However it rumbles along in the Middle East press and the blogosphere. This article from the Israeli Ha'aretz news service may be of interest. It reports that Prof. Uzi Even of Tel Aviv University believes that the "facility" was not a reactor but "In my estimation this was something very nasty and vicious, and even more dangerous than a reactor...I have no information, only an assessment, but I suspect that it was a plant for processing plutonium, namely a factory for assembling the bomb."

Ha'aretz says "What reinforces Even's suspicion that the structure attacked in Syria was in fact a bomb assembly plant is the fact that the satellite photos taken after the bombing clearly show that the Syrians made an effort to bury the entire site under piles of earth. "They did so because of the lethal nature of the material that was in the structure, and that can be plutonium," he said. That may also be the reason they refused to allow IAEA inspectors to visit the site and take samples of the earth, which would give away their secret."

Interesting theory...

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Spot the difference

Dr David Kelly in 2003 and an as yet anonymous junior HMRC official in 2007.

One was hung out to dry by the MOD and the government the other is being put up in a Tyne & Wear hotel.

It is all over

Bad news Gordon but tonight when Graham Norton made a joke about you and the audience laughed approvingly it struck me - you are now officially a figure of fun!

The joke was about a picture of you and your wife looking glum at the Queen and Prince Phillip's 60th anniversary service.

"What happened to him?

Did he get his dream job and discover he's shit at it"

That and a gag about the missing data disks, and a piss take of Alistair Darling -hello Darling, ... Darling, "you're a fucking idiot Darling, you're sacked"

Hatred is bearable for a government, Mrs Thatcher thrived on it. What kills a government is derision, it killed Major's government and it will kill Gordon Brown's. Trust me it will get worse, Graham Norton today, Jonathan Ross tomorrow and it will spread.

NotaSheep are you enjoying Gordon Brown's embarrassment? Oh yes I am, schadenfreude is a wonderful feeling.

An odd bit in today's Daily Telegraph Andrew Gimson column

"Trouble has driven him and Mr Darling into each other's arms. They make an odd couple, because Mr Brown is so very much bigger than Mr Darling but it is important not to be prejudiced about other people's relationships.

And yet we fear for this unhappy couple, sweetly ensconced at public expense in their matching his and his houses in Downing Street."

Has the story of the missing data disks got you worried?

Has the story of the missing data disks got you worried? If so then take a look at the No2IDwebsite and get involved in the fight against the database state.

More on the Data disks

I turn to the The Guardian again today (my comments in italics) -

"The Tories have demanded that Gordon Brown reveal the "whole truth" about the loss of the personal information of 25 million people after it emerged that senior Revenue & Customs officials authorised sending the sensitive data to the National Audit Office. Alistair Darling has blamed the loss of two CDs relating to child benefit claimants on a "junior official" who acted alone in breaching procedures.

Brown backed his chancellor's version of events during prime minister's questions yesterday."

He would, he is organ-grinder for Darling's monkey.

"But Sir John Bourn, the outgoing comptroller and auditor general, told a secret session of the public accounts committee yesterday that a senior business manager at Revenue & Customs had authorised the information to be released in its full form.
His email approving the sharing of the data was copied to an assistant director."

I would love to see that email, come on publish it.

"These startling revelations from the NAO call into question the entire defence mounted by the prime minister of this catastrophic failure in his government," said the shadow chancellor, George Osborne.

"This was systemic failure, not individual error by a junior official.

"Gordon Brown needs to tell us the whole truth of why the security of all families in the country has been put at risk."

Gordon Brown tell the truth, it's a long-shot.

"Bourn's submissions to the public accounts committee were revealed by the committee chair, Tory MP Edward Leigh."

Edward Leigh has a fine forensic mind, his stewardship of the Public Accounts Committee has been masterly.

"The NAO said yesterday that it specifically stated that it did not need all the information being offered by Revenue & Customs.

It asked for all child benefit numbers, national insurance numbers and but did not want bank accounts and addresses and dates of birth."

Why woudl they want those details and why indeed would they want extra data cluttering up their database?

"According to Bourn, Revenue & Customs told the NAO that removing the extra information would be too costly."

Too costly, too costly! So they just sent the whole file, brilliant. This is so incompetent that I could scream.

"Revenue & Customs yesterday denied it was at odds with the NAO over its version of events and the government is expected to release documents relating to the exchange today."

They also claimed that "black" was "white" and will be calling Michael Jackson as a witness.

"As the Tories stepped up pressure over the "catastrophic failure", concerns were also raised from within Labour's own ranks.

John McFall, a senior backbencher and chairman of the House of Commons Treasury committee, said that the government's "competence" had been called into question."

Competence and this government will soon be as closely linked in the public's mind as Heather Mills McCartney and black pudding eating.

""I think there is a serious issue here in terms of confidence in the government, and that has to be restored," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"The core issue is competence. I think there is a challenge here now for Gordon Brown in terms of leadership."

The first time I read that, I thought he was calling for a challenge to Gordon Brown's leadership, that will come soon enough...

"He has been good in crises since he took over. This is a crisis. Can he fix this department?"

Gordon Brown hasn't been good in a crisis, he has presided over many crises since becoming PM and most have been due to his and his predecessor's abject failures whilst in power - that's power and not control.

"Can he ensure it is fit for purpose? Can he ensure people have confidence in it?"

Too late, the answer to both of these questions is a resounding NO.

"He added: "Is there a fatal flaw in government? I don't think there is, but is it time for iron to get into the body politic? It is, and that is for Gordon Brown to do.""

In a few months time there will be a long list of people ready to put the iron, the steel, the wood and any other sharp object that comes to hand into the body politic, or more exactly the rather flabby body of Gordon Brown.

I have been accused recently of ranting in this blog and I think that might be fair. However, if I am ranting it is only because this government have gone from being a joke to being a serious danger to us all and I believe this needs pointing out.

As Mr Eugenides points out so astutely today -
"It's a well-worn rule of thumb in these situations that it's not the original crime or blunder that causes ministerial heads to roll, but the subsequent cover-up. For too many ministers in this government, lying seems to be the default position; they wear their mendacity like second skins. It's therefore unsurprising that cover-ups have claimed so many ministerial scalps over the last decade; they can't help themselves."

He is right it is the cover-up that tends to bring down the miscreant and in this case it should be both Gordon and his Darling. However I fear that Darling will be the sacrificial lamb, leaving Gordon to limp on for a while yet.

At some point the decision will be made that Gordon is a liability and that a replacement must be found to carry the BBC/NuLab government forward. At this point you will notice one minister getting a "bigging up" slightly too often by the BBC, he will be the chosen one and he will succeed Gordon Brown. I am sorry, you thought we lived in a democracy; you poor deluded fools...

Comment of the day

From Daniel Finkelstein in his article in today's Times about Nick Clegg - "However, being described as a better leader than Ming Campbell is, as one of my friends put it, like being called a better violinist than Abu Hamza."

Economy in tatters (part the umpteenth but not the last)

Poor, poor Gordon; he spouted his usual litany of factors that prove his economic genius. Unfortunately whilst in the past the media and so the general public would have believed him or at least said "well he has done quite well, hasn't he", this time he may have more problems. It appears that the economy is getting closer to the point of collapse - "The City was last night calling on Alistair Darling to raise taxes or cut spending after news of an unexpected deterioration in the government's coffers raised fears of a looming £40bn hole in the public finances. In a fresh blow to the chancellor, data from the Office for National Statistics showed that despite a robust performance by the economy in the first seven months of the year, the government borrowed more money in this period than at any time since Labour came to power in 1997. The ONS said that in October - normally a bumper month for corporation tax receipts - the exchequer had a surplus of £1bn, but this was down on the £3.5bn surplus in the same month last year. That left net borrowing for the first seven months of the year at £24.2bn, up from £17.5bn in the same period of 2006-07. Analysts said that with both the Treasury and the Bank of England forecasting that the economy will slow down in the coming months as a result of higher interest rates and the credit crunch, the prospect was for net borrowing in the current financial year to be even higher than the £38bn deficit pencilled in by Mr Darling in last month's pre-budget report. In the PBR, Mr Darling said the government would not meet the budget forecast for borrowing of £34bn, but John Hawksworth, head of macroeconomics at PricewaterhouseCoopers, said the total for both 2007-08 and 2008-09 was likely to be "£40bn or more". He added: "At this point in the economic cycle, the public finances should be improving in order to provide some 'wiggle room' in the event of a future cyclical downturn. "The fact that they are getting worse will be of concern to the Treasury since it suggests possible structural weakness and potential need for further tax increases or greater spending restraint.""

I am sorry folks but when borrowing reaches these levels, whilst inflation is on an upward curve, house prices start to fall and rises in economic output look shaky, it is time to look up the word "stagflation" in the dictionary.

Poor Gordon, if only you had called an election when you had the chance; you would have won and you would now be 5 years from an election. Now you are a maximum of 2.5 years away from an election. I think 2.5 years should be nicely in the middle of a massive recession, well done Gordon you have really screwed the country up. Never mind though because your pension is nicely index-linked; it's just a shame that you'll have to spend most of it on security to keep the general public that you have so royally screwed from getting their revenge.

Now that is a good spot

The Appalling Strangeness blog has a great spot "It is not just Brown himself...He is a dark figure in British politics – he looks not unlike a Labour version of Richard Nixon - haggard, bags under the eyes, jowly and angry at the world. He wallows in self delusion, drowning in a gloom caused by his own failings. He sees himself as a political genius, an expert at playing the political game. But like Nixon, he is a workmanlike politician at best, and is cursed with a deep cowardice that always drags him down at the very moment when he should be bold and when he could be carving out his niche as the conviction politician he so desperately wants to be."

The rest of the article is well worth a read as well.

Can anyone detect the smell of burning Y-fronts?

Alistair Darling has several times claimed that the banks had asked for more time before the announcement regarding the missing data disks to get ready for inquiries from thousands of customers. In the House of Commons on Tuesday 20 November Alistair Darling said "Indeed, the banks were adamant that they wanted as much time as possible to prepare for this announcement.". During an interview on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme Alistair Darling stated "I spoke to the banks, they said they needed some time to put in place protective measures. Indeed, some of the banks wanted a lot longer but that simply wasn't possible."

The banks disagree, the British Banking Association said: "The BBA did not ask for any more time. As soon as we were made aware of the security breach, banks put in place security measures to secure customer accounts. None of our members asked for any extra time. Clearly, everyone involved would have liked as much time as possible but banks unanimously agreed to go ahead without delay."

The Association of Payment Clearing Services (Apacs) which manages how money moves around the banks, added: "We certainly did not ask HMRC for any time, or the Chancellor. We found out on Friday and were given a deadline of Monday to sort the information out. There was no request for a delay from us.

A spokesman for Lloyds TSB said: "Categorically, we did not ask for additional time." Barclays said: "We did not ask for any delay."

Now who is telling the truth, Alistair Darling or the various banks and banking organisations? It can't be both, who do you believe? If Alistair Darling has lied to, sorry mislead Parliament, then is that a resigning matter?

Man Made Climate Change

Here is a website that might be of interest.

HIP extention

Today it has been announced that Home Information Packs (HIPs) will apply to 1 and 2 bedroom properties from 14 December. "HIP Payment Services chief executive Jeff Smith says: "Today’s announcement will be greeted with much enthusiasm and relief from the industry, which has been tirelessly campaigning for HIPs to be fully extended across the whole market, since their extension to three bedroom homes back in September. He adds: “With speculation rife and various inaccuracies about the impact of HIPs on the market being banded around by the Tories and other anti-HIP groups within the industry, it was essential that the Government reaffirmed its commitment to packs and announced this final and vital implementation. “With HIPs fully rolled out across the market they will finally be able to bring about the many benefits they were initially designed to achieve – a faster, more transparent process which will aid a more informed buying decision.”"

What marvelous news for us all, HIPS are working so well that they can be extended. Of course all the spin from the HIPs chief exec and the latest government incompetent to deal with this matter cannot be allowed to hide the facts. Let's look at what the experts rather than the bureaucrats have to say.

This is the text of a press release from the National Association of Estate Agents.


Results indicate agents continuing to call for HIPs to be abandoned.

A survey of members conducted by the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) has produced the largest response ever to one of its surveys with over 1000 replies indicating what a contentious issue HIPs still are.

Over the past 10 days members were asked to compare the market this October to the same time last year. The results show that 83% of agents have found that requests for market appraisals have dropped with 9% of respondents finding a reduction of more than 50%.

When asked about the change in the number of instructions for 3 or more bedroom properties, a staggering 76% stated that they had seen decreases in excess of 10% of which 46% had seen a drop in excess of 30%. This compares with a much smaller reduction for 1 or 2 bedroom properties with 37% of respondents finding a drop of more than 10%.

Peter Bolton King, Chief Executive of the NAEA, comments: 'Clearly everyone accepts that there are a number of financial and economic factors that have caused the market to take a breather after 7 hectic years. However, these figures show that there is an anomaly between instructions on properties where a HIP is required and where one is not.'

He continues: 'I have heard of many examples where potential sellers have decided against putting their property up for sale because they do not want to risk wasting £300 or indeed much more, if they decide not to sell. It has been correctly stated previously that many sellers decided to 'beat the HIP' by marketing their property before August 1st 2007. It would therefore be reasonable to think that there would be a lull for a few months thereafter.'

The NAEA therefore asked members how available stock levels were year on year - 76% of the 1050 respondents stated that in October their stock was either the same or less.

Peter explains the significance of this: "At this stage of the market cycle, with sales slowing and normally a traditional autumn bulge in instructions, it would be normal to expect stock levels to be significantly higher. The fact that only 24% are saying that this is the case should worry the Government as this is just not normal. This once again appears to show the adverse effect HIPs are having on the market, the lives of consumers and indeed the overall economy."

The survey then went on to ask the question of 'What should happen to HIPs next?' The NAEA survey gave several options of ways to move forward including the full roll out of HIPs. However, only a tiny 6% felt that this was the right option with 76% stating that HIPs should be scrapped but Energy Performance Certificates should instead apply to all properties.

Peter says: "Despite the fact that agents have now had an opportunity to work with HIPs it is clear that the vast majority of respondents do not believe that they add value to the process and are finding it hard to get purchasers to take interest in them. We feel very sorry for the many Domestic Energy Assessors who are waiting for the opportunity to earn a living.

'As a result we again call on the Government to take into account the above evidence and to reflect on the potential increased damage to the market if they roll HIPs out across all properties. We would urge the Government to take the opportunity to review the situation and find a quick way of enabling the Energy Performance Certificates to be applied to all properties without the need for a HIP.'"

Do the government actually want the UK housing market to collapse? Maybe they have a secret plan that depends upon this happening.

Alternatively are they merely so thick and in thrall to the EU that they just blindly follow orders. The defence that "I was only following orders" was not an acceptable defence at the Nuremberg trials and similarly once order has been restored in this country it will prove to be no defence come the reckoning.

Sir Paul Gray resigned

We were spun that Sir Paul Gray had done the honourable thing and resigned. It now appears that in fact he "is set to remain on full salary pending a deal to let him retire on a full pension. Mr Gray, who was praised for quitting "as a matter of honour", will not lose a penny by falling on his sword, Whitehall sources predicted. Severance terms are still being worked out, said a spokesman for the Cabinet Office. But a senior source said: "He was due to retire anyway next year when he will be 60 and he is still being paid at present. I do not think this is going to affect his pension.""

Marvelous so what is actually going to happen is that he stops working a year earlier than planned, is paid a full salary for that year whilst not working and will then retire as planned on his full pension. That must have been a really hard plan to sell to Sir Paul Gray, mustn't it. This low-life Labour government looks after its own so well doesn't it.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

England v Croatia

Englands going out
we're going out
we're going out
England's going out

Is Gordon Brown, the living jinx, in the crowd somewhere?


One of the factors behind Labour winning the 1997 election was the claim made by Labour that they would be more competent managers of the UK economy and the UK itself than the Conservatives. After 10 years of this Labour government does anyone believe that this was ever the case.

Complete economic and political incompetence. This current cabinet looks like the most inept in history.

For your edification why not peruse this list of Labour's incompetence.

It is called theft

The Times reports that "President Mugabe unleashed a devastating new blow to Zimbabwe’s mortally wounded economy yesterday, announcing a new law giving the state a controlling stake in mines operating in the country. Under the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill, the Government can take over 51 per cent of companies mining strategic fuels and minerals, taking 25 per cent without paying. The balance of 26 per cent it needs for a majority shareholding will be paid for, it said. However, the Bill brazenly asserts that payment will come from dividends earned from the state’s shares in the companies it takes without having to pay. It gives the state seven years in which to do it."

Rhodesia was one of the richest countries in Africa, the "bread basket of Africa" now it is just a basket-case. A very, very sad state of affairs.

BBC bias

BBC radio 5 live news at 12:30 "Gordon Brown hit back at critics today", that's it BBC stick to the Labour party line.

An interesting article on the Palestinian secret weapon

Take a read of this article, quite interesting.

Radio 5 Live's Victoria Derbyshire

From Biased BBC this comment that if true needs a formal investigation by the BBC...

Classic Victoria Derbyshire at 10:14 am.

Woman caller who was not happy with Labour and the mess over the missing disks.

However, Super woman Derbyshire comes leaping to the defence of poor Gordon and Alistair. She tells the woman caller that the Tories would have made the same mess (no evidence for this of course and Labour have been in power for 10 years)

Then smelling blood, Derbyshire decides to ask this woman who she voted for at the last election (quite what this had to do with the debate on missing disks I don't know)

When the woman refused to tell her, Derbyshire clearly sniffed a hated Tory voter being online. When the woman caller said she didn't vote Tory, Derbyshire like the nasty little Nu Labour attack dog she is then suspected an even nastier political party. The woman caller kept her dignity and basically told the Dog (in a polite way) to mind her own business.

Funnily enough she NEVER asked one caller who stuck up for the Government (and there were quite a few this morning) if they were Labour voters.

Funny that.
Martin | 21.11.07 - 10:29 am"


Satire, well it is hardly more ridiculous than the truth.

It was only a matter of time

They're on ebay!

An apology

I reported yesterday that Gordon Brown would not be attending PMQs today because he was going to Uganda. I now read on Guido Fawkes that "according to the Downing Street website he will show up to be ritually thrashed at PMQs today".

Gordon Brown will no doubt go on the attack at PMQs today, attacking David Cameron and spreading the blame as far and as wide as he can whilst dealing with nice gentle, complimentary questions from tame Labour backbenchers. Expect more than the usual Labour jeers at David Cameron and Vince Cable and as much misdirection as possible. Gordon Brown will want to answer as few opposition questions, sorry make that face as he rarely answers a question, as possible and the Labour whips will assist him as much as they can.

AIDS, research & funding and Man Made Climate Change and the UN - all in one article!

According to the Washington Post, "The United Nations grossly overestimated both the scope and direction of AIDS infections, its scientists will admit later this week. The actual numbers in almost every theater have proven to be much less than UN reports indication, in some places less than half of that asserted. Outside researchers say that their demands for government funding motivated them to essentially lie about the gravity of the situation: The United Nations' top AIDS scientists plan to acknowledge this week that they have long overestimated both the size and the course of the epidemic, which they now believe has been slowing for nearly a decade, according to U.N. documents prepared for the announcement. "There was a tendency toward alarmism, and that fit perhaps a certain fundraising agenda," said Helen Epstein, author of "The Invisible Cure: Africa, the West, and the Fight Against AIDS." "I hope these new numbers will help refocus the response in a more pragmatic way.""

This is not a surprise to me, these scientists need funding and they will get more funding if they make the problem sound much worse than it really is. Hence the recent huge panic over bird flu.

Do you remember the massive deaths that would result from BSE (mad cows disease) spreading to humans as vCJD or nvCJD (Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease)? Predictions were made that hundreds of thousands of people, if not millions, would die from this disease. The scare stories were everywhere during the BSE outbreak in 1989 and for a few years afterwards. Do you know how many people have actually died from BSE in the 18 years since these predictions were made? Not 100,000, not 10,000, not 1,000 but 165.

Now what other world wide panic are scientists getting funding to "investigate" and "solve"? That would be Man Made Climate Change. The panel on global warming will publish a new paper, insisting the situation is critical and urgent and that the world needs to act now in economically crippling ways so as to radically cut emissions.

UN funded scientists have lied about AIDS infections why should we trust them about Man Made Climate Change, we already know that much of the data is fiddled to achieve the desired results. These scientists have a track record for hysteria and exaggeration to meet the requirements of their political paymasters.

One final point on the AIDS numbers; it is reported that the number of people living with HIV in Europe (including parts of Asia) has gone up from 1.25m in 2001 to about 2.4m now. Why might this be? Could it be anything to do with mass immigration from Africa? Just like the reappearance of TB in the UK, immigrations has been a prime driver and this government's almost total ending of border controls is to blame.