Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Boris Johnson's 'Benny Hill' stage spot

It was kind of the Tory party conference organisers to bring on the entertainment half way through the political speeches. As Quentin Letts comments in the Mail, a Benny Hill set always goes down well with the Tory punters - and no one does Benny Hill as well as Boris Johnson. A serial adulterer who can't keep his trousers on, Boris would also be a natural for a Brian Rix farce - but perhaps he's saving that for next year, when he hopes to be leader of a Tory party in exile from government. 

For full effect he should perhaps have arrived on stage via a zip wire down the length of the auditorium, over the heads of the few dozen surviving Tory party members clustered in the front seats. Dressed in Spandex shorts and a sequined Union flag wes'cot with a rubber chicken. But still, he was good enough as he was to entertain the serious politicians there.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Baghdad or Bust

IS, or ISIS to irritate the Oxford boys, are throwing everything into getting into Baghdad. Once there, diluted and hidden amongst the urban civilian population, Western air strikes will be impotent. The only way to shift them will be long, bloody and arduous urban street fighting of the sort the Septics experienced in Fallujah in 2004. Everything is to play for. Once in Baghdad, the spineless Shia politicos and generals will flee to their Swiss chalets with their stolen loot. 

Everyone has a bit of the truth about Iraq. Yes, it's the battleground for a wider and longer lived Islamic civil war. Yes, it's a hotchpotch of conflicting tribal allegiances. Yes, it's about the oil. Even the much derided George Galloway spoke truth to fools in the Commons when he claimed that ISIS was if not supported at least not opposed by many Sunni extended families and settlements in the Iraq - Syria crescent. 

Well, our army's utter failure in Basra at urban warfare - one of the army's ignominious defeats which unusually we don't celebrate - means that we're unlikely to be much use in helping shift ISIS from Baghdad if they get established there. Nothing wrong with our troops, you understand, but incompetent command, as is usual with the UK.

Monday, 29 September 2014

A warning to both UKIP and the Conservative Party

Here is a warning to both UKIP and the Conservative Party from a voter of the centre-right: Don't put party before country. We don't really give a flying fig for the squabble as to which will be the dominant party of the right. We do care if your silly, inverted party squabbling allows that Marxist fool Miliband against all laws of nature and reason to form the next government.

And don't either of you dare tell me, or the voters of England, that it's our fault.

Somehow, anyhow, before next May you're both going to have to find some way to ensure that the votes of the right, if they're greater than than the number of votes of the left, result in a government of the right. I don't care how you do it; I don't care about your parties, or your leaders, only for the outcomes desperately needed by this nation, this England. 

So please, both of you - country first, party second.  

Saturday, 27 September 2014

RAF destroys IS target ... maybe

From the Operations Control Room, RAF Akrotiri

RF Leader: Control - refuelling complete; we're good for another 4 hours over zone. Continuing holding pattern. Any targets yet?

RF Control: Red Flight Leader this is Red Flight Control; acknowledged. (anything from Waddington yet since that ox cart yesterday? You have? No, no, never mind - get it on screen) Red Flight Leader we have a potential target at grid Blue 22 ... a lone insurgent laagered with what looks like a herd of goats south of the vehicle track, over.

RF Leader: I have the target now Red Control; Are you sure it's not just a goatherd?

RF Control: We can see a black flag flying there, Red Leader - must be IS

RF Leader: Control, I think he just washed his Keffiyeh in the water hole and it's drying on the thorn bush

RF Control: Negative Red Leader; we have it as an IS flag here. Squadron will attack with Paveway munitions. Make your approach when ready

RF Leader: Roger Control; Squadron will attack in echelon formation. Images coming through now ...

RF Control: Acknowledged Red Leader. Out. (Fumpy? Get that film clip - half a second of the blurry bit just before the munitions hit then the shockwaves and blast debris - off to Northolt with the signal 'IS supply train formation attacked on line of communications and destroyed'. That should keep the PM quiet for today ..)

Friday, 26 September 2014

Global Corporates back EU shock

EU economic policy is driven by the interests of the ERT - the group of European global conglomerates with an inside track on policy making and with an influential hold over all new Commission initiatives. Emission standards for outboard motors? Airworthiness licenses for model aircraft? Any lunatic initiative you can think of that comes out of Brussels has been over the desks of the ERT gatekeepers. And is geared to give them economic advantage - and sod the interests of SMEs, local firms, Mom and Pop enterprises and the Mittelstand.

Some fifty ERT members sit as members of the Council at any time - the current make-up HERE includes just a few of the many FTSE 100 firms with strong links to this little known but powerful body. 

And they have taken over the voice of the CBI in a silent coup that has rendered the true voice of British business speechless; as Matthew Elliot writes for the Speccie
It is particularly disappointing to see Sir Mike Rake, in his role as President of the CBI, signing up to calls to abandon an EU referendum. The CBI made some positive noises about EU reform when David Cameron made his Bloomberg speech which called for renegotiation backed up by an EU referendum. Yet this support for reform seems rather hollow as the CBI’s true position has become apparent. It has gone from wanting to work with the PM to get the best deal, to suggesting that an EU referendum is a constitutional issue for the Government to decide, to now its President actively opposing giving voters a say. Given that independent polls show that business leaders overwhelmingly support a referendum (including CBI members), I’m sure many ordinary CBI members will be disappointed by this failure to back our best hope of securing a better deal for the UK. It’s reminiscent of how the CBI leadership misrepresented their views on the Euro, until Business for Sterling highlighted how out of step they were with both their members and the business community.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

The next idiot to blame 'Apathy' ....

Like fat people who blame 'hormones' instead of eating too much for their condition, politicians prefer to blame 'apathy' for increasingly poor voter turn-outs in elections. However, the comprehensive inquiry into the myth of 'apathy' undertaken by Helena Kennedy for the Power inquiry demonstrated that far from being apathetic, nearly all are deeply engaged with political issues. They just don't like the politicians on offer. Low turn-outs are voters using the only protest weapon they feel they have available - boycotting democracy. They are therefore very much the fault of the political class.

The turn out for the Scottish vote must have filled many professional politicians with fear. Oh God, they must mumble, what if that many people voted at a GE? What if the 18 to 26 year-olds all voted? What if all the women turned up at the polling station?

The political class and their allies the global corporates are terrified of a fully engaged demos exercising the power of the vote. Their panic is reported in the Indie today as they urge themselves to block any opportunity for an EU referendum in the UK. And in a 'horror' paragraph that must sent chills of fear up their spines they report
Hundreds of people packed a hall in Clacton tonight to hear Ukip leader Nigel Farage and Douglas Carswell, who defected from the Tories, pour scorn on the main parties. Mr Carswell is standing for Ukip in a by-election on 9 October that was triggered by his defection. All 700 tickets were taken, and organisers estimated that the numbers in the Clacton Coastal Academy hall could have been up to 1,000 with “standing room only”.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Local Government - Let a thousand flowers bloom!

If there are two words hated by the metropolitan political class they are Local Government. Add 'reform' and you have a subject that Prime Ministers, obsessed with legacy and international reputation, would rather spend a holiday in a leper hospital than tackle. Local Government is the antithesis of sexy. Yet if there is to be a meaningful devolution of power from Whitehall and Westminster we need a local democratic structure geared to receiving it. 

Firstly, there is no one single model of local government that fits all of England, its counties or regions. This will come as a shock to Whitehall, who imagine that 'one system fits all' is the way to go. Nick Drew has drawn attention to the manifest failure of the Cabinet system - under which councils are prevented by law from having more than ten councillors making the decisions. There may be places where this works - if so, they should keep it. If not, a multiplicity of alternatives are available. 

I've previously used the township of Vail in Colorado as an example of a small community that runs its own police, fire, library service, buses, street cleaning and refuse disposal, street repairs and lighting and so on. Education is a County level responsibility. But Vail isn't the only local government sub-division in Colorado; the State has 64 counties, two of which (Denver and Broomfield) are 'unitary' city and counties. The other 62 accommodate 269 incorporated municipalities - a variety of statutory towns, statutory cities, home rule municipalities and one territorial charter. All have slightly different rules, laws and ways of doing things; Denver has a party-free Mayor and Council (though they tend to be Democrats, they're elected as independent persons - not party hacks). There are a multiplicity of taxes, charges, subventions, virements and so on, but it all hangs together and there is a very high degree of autonomy and a highly localist distribution of democratic decision making. Denver City Council, which runs the police force, legalised personal possession of  cannabis after 53.5% of electors voted in favour. It's a bit like Norwich voting to do the same - and Norfolk County Council allowing them to do so. 

There will be throughout England a multiplicity of local government inheritances, boundaries and structures that are within living memory and which even the disastrous centralising Local Government Act 1974 failed to eradicate from local memory. Some may be based on the old Hundreds, some may have a renewed role for Watch Committees, some Counties may want to form Consortia - which could potentially exercise a national power to rival London; imagine a reborn Northumbria governing everything from Yorkshire to the Scots border, with a full set of counties, cities and towns within it all exercising democratic power to the extent they desire. 

Once Whitehall is taught the lesson that their job is to enable localist solutions, not to design them centrally, then we stand a good chance of success. But I fear we must have a mass cull of permanent secretaries and undersecretaries to get there.