Web Analytics Trust People (once an Englishman in Philly): 04/01/2006 - 05/01/2006

Saturday, April 29, 2006

And another Clegg-up...

..from Iain Dale. Breaking a Home Office embargo. Opportunism...

Friday, April 28, 2006

Another Clegg-up

An interesting email from the LibDems falls into Trust People's inbox this morning. Nick Clegg declares

"It's very simple - the Home Office has made a huge blunder in losing track of over1,000 convicted criminals before deportation proceedings could be considered.The Government has failed to keep track of some very dangerous individuals.

Under questioning from me on Wednesday, Charles Clarke admitted that he didn't know thewhereabouts of three murderers and nine rapists who were released and not deported. Such shocking incompetence is now putting public safety at risk. How dare Tony Blairclaim he is tough on crime?

Quite simply, if this sort of mistake is not worth of a ministerial resignation,what is?So please come and sign our petition calling for Charles Clarke to go...

Best wishes
Nick Clegg
Shadow Home Secretary"

I knew this guy was fairly shameless but I really was staggered at this missive. Firstly, when did he become the Shadow Home Secretary. As far as I'd heard David Davis was pretty secure in that job. It has been astounding just how easily the press has swallowed this LibDem presumptuousness in flounting convention and dubbing themselves a shadow cabinet. It shows just how little they respect and value all our conventions. How ironic that in criticising Labour for flounting conventions of ministerial accountability Mr Clegg flounts the conventions that suit him.

Most importantly though, how shameless to pretend that he has personally played some significant role in the Clarke affair. As today's Times states "It is only thanks to the persistence of the committee [the Public Accounts Committee], and particularly of the Tory backbencher Richard Bacon, that the inadequacies in the previous system were exposed and full information has been made available about the number of foreign prisoners who have not been deported. That has forced the Home Office to re-examine its records and admit that it had provided wrong figures."

This has been unearthed by Conservative Richard Bacon and, to a lesser degree, the tag team of Cameron and Davis. The LibDems' main involvement was to make uncategorically false statements and attacks in PMQs when Ming Campbell asked about the release of a prisoner who was still in prison! Clarke announced on Tuesday that he didn't know the whereabouts of many more than the 12 freed prisoners Clegg over which is trying to blow his own trumpet. Then again, it's hardly new for the LibDems to show such duplicity.

On the basis of this I don't quite know who would be better for the Tories to see in charge of the DimLibs: Clegg or Campbell!

This man as Prime Minister?

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Scolari offer poses more questions to FA

So the FA is offering the England manager's job to Luiz Felipe Scolari having overlooked homegrown options including Steve McClaren, Alan Curbishley, Sam Allardyce and Martin O'Neil. Now, I have no problem in principle with the appointment of foreign coaches even though I would, ideally, prefer an Englishman or even a Brit. Despite this the FA's selection causes me not inconsiderable consternation.

See the Touchline Bawler for quite why...

Beware men bearing gifts

Well, what a torrid time for the Government. I'm not one who is keen to overstate whether yesterday's events are uniquely significant; it's easy to let individual events assume greater importance than they'll ever actually have whilst they're being experienced. Nonetheless it does signal an increasingly desperate turn in the fortunes of New Labour.

It is vital, therefore, that the Conservatives show they have the will for the battle over this period in order to benefit from the increased scepticism which will surely follow. I am sceptical over the recent opinion polls registering the apparently non-existent LibDems at such high levels. I rather suspect those polled who gave this result may have more elastic support than appears at first apparent. What is undoubtable is that the Tories now need to show quite clearly what principles will guide them over a broader range of issues in order to prosper.

Beyond that it is important that they demonstrate something of the killer instinct. Especially when, in Charles Clarke's case, it is surely kinder to put the wounded beast out of its misery. To this end Militant Moderate has an excellent article about the need for David Davis to prove his mettle. Whether he's up to that task remains to be seen.

Finally, is Ming Campbell really from this planet? A truly nasty article in today's Independent suggests it's game on for calling him a silly old bufter with shaking hands who couldn't fight his way out of a paper bag let alone ask a coherent question in PMQs. Or even one which was accurate.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006 has now launched. Check it out and put your thinking caps on.

CPS drops playground insult case

So the so-called Criminal Justice System can see sense after all and respond to public needs when it has to. The CPS has announced that it is dropping the prosecution against the boy who called an Asian friend a "Paki" and "Bin Laden" in their school playground. Trust People reported on the sterling response of the district judge hearing the case earlier in the month.

Perhaps now the police will get on with stopping crime.

Prison release rot stops with Blair

This story was always going to run and run but now it just defies belief. Charles Clarke knew about the more than 1,000 prisoners released into the British community who should have been deported before Christmas and the news of it has only just been released now. It says it all about Blair's Britain that prisoners are being released into society more lightly than adverse information, doesn't it?

More than this though, Clarke offered Blair his resignation but Blair refused it. This is truly unbelievable. It's clear more than ever how deep the rot and lack of honour within this Government goes. Blair should have accepted it. And I'm coming to the view that deep down the Home Secretary knows this which is why he did the right thing and offered to reason - and also why he's so nervous and unassertive with the media over it. If this wasn't such a cock-up it's enough to make you almost feel sorry for him.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

You want equality, Venus? Play Federer over five sets.

You can read my inaugural post over at The Touchline Bawler here.

Go, Mr Clarke, go

The Home Secretary has released over 1000 foreign criminals into our country who should have been deported at the end of their sentence. He has, however, apologised. That is supposed to be enough.

I have to say that this entire episode makes me livid. The way this Government has administered the Home Office, whether under Straw, Blunkett or Clarke, has been nothing short of scandalously incompetent. What is even more sickening is that, despite having to admit that "we simply didn't make the proper arrangements for identifying and considering removal in line with the growth of numbers that were there" there is absolutely no question of Charles Clarke considering his position. Is there no such thing as a sackably incompetent mistake any more? How can he possibly hang on to his ministerial position when he has been so obviously and painfully remiss?

Put simply, he should quit. If ministerial accountability is to mean anything and if we are to have anything other than a dictatorship between elections then for such a monumental cock-up he has to walk.

In his statement today the Home Secretary gave this explanation:

He said he was taking the situation "extremely, extremely seriously in every respect", but he thought it was "better to acknowledge and admit it and deal with it".

The problem had occurred because the Prison Service was not focused on the nationality of its prisoners while the IND was preoccupied with other matters, said Mr Clarke.

"We simply didn't make the proper arrangements for identifying and considering removal in line with the growth of numbers that were there," he said. "That is a failure of the Home Office and its agencies for which I take responsibility."

Except he doesn't take responsibility, or at least no real responsibility, because he assumes no personal consequences arising from this scandal. I have said this before, but oh for a time when Ministers were truly responsible and resigned for such dereliction of duty, knowing that they had to be held accountable for such things but that it needn't necessarily mean the end of their career. As it is our leaders would be fast on the road to becoming laughing stocks; if only it wasn't all so tragic. If only Charles Clarke spent less time railing against the evil media distorting his plans and more time doing his job.

UPDATE: Though maybe Mr Clarke is not that safe with his junior Ministers putting the knife in. "Home Office Minister Mr McNulty said he "did not think it was a case of heads will roll but we'll see"."

Bar exams done and dusted then, only "so-called" "vocational assessments" to go. Bliss.

This also means a resumption of normal, and more frequent, blogging service. I hope to get a summary of my campaign experiences from the forthcoming batch of local elections up soon. The blogroll will also be suitably updated in the next few days.

Later this afternoon I shall also be making my inaugural post on a new blogging venture set up by Ken, of Militant Moderate fame. Over at the Touchline Bawler he's set up a new sportsblog he's asked me to write for. It's a very interesting idea and I'm delighted to be involved with it.

For now though another Lemsip to help finally see off this darned cold...

Sunday, April 23, 2006


No Hope Service

Crisis? What crisis? As the NHS lays off more staff, it becomes clear that there has been massive and profligate overspending on salaries and it is even more apparent that nobody in Government has the faintest idea what's going on Patricia Hewitt declares this as the "best ever" year in the history of the NHS. Who is she kidding? I know it is textbook Labour territory to "make it so" by "pretending it's so", I know that many will believe the woman too but surely, now, after all we've seen from this Government people can see this for the ridiculous fatuous blather that it really is? The Government is meant to have come up with new structures for better and more efficient health provision. Those structures are creaking at the seams as they clearly don't have the capacity to exert sufficient restraint on PCTs without ministerial intervention. Whose fault is that? Labour really should pay heavily for this.

The NUT really are the loony left

Laban Tall uncovers yet more worrying evidence...

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Curtains on a great career

As Newcastle have struggled to really impose themselves on the Premiership in recent years and as he refused to allow himself to be dragged back on to the international stage he quit in 2000 it's been easy to forget Alan Shearer. Now his career has been ended three games before the end of his last season in professional football we ought to look back on a stellar career and a great, classic English centre forward.

His scoring record as regards not only his time at Newcastle, not only his time in the England team but across his whole career is phenomenal and, in recent times, second to none. His grit, his determination, movement, and ability to develop partnerships be they with other good strikers - Chris Sutton, Teddy Sheringham, Les Ferdinand, Michael Owen - have all served him well. More than that he was a sweet striker of the ball and excellent in the air. He allowed teams to play off and around him in such a fluid manner.

Most of all I will remember the way he turned his form around for England during the 1996 European Championships. Going into Euro '96, many were quick to knock England and, in particular, Shearer, who had not scored for his country since September two years before. Once the tournament began there was no holding him back and he ended up its leading scorer. The resilience and belief he must have had to nurture during the torrid time of attacks that preceded England beginning their first game against Switzerland will always inspire me. And yet he did. And yet he performed so brilliantly.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

More negatives of positive discrimination

I've said before that Bernard Jenkin's heart doesn't seem to be with the Tory Party's positive discrimination "Priority List" and today there's yet more evidence that's the case. In the Guardian he opines that

"When you compare it to what I went through, I was public school, Oxbridge, son of a cabinet minister [Patrick Jenkin] and the system almost deferred to me, in a rather embarrassing way.

"I would be equal to everyone else under the new system. A staff nurse from Hackney with three GCSEs could potentially do just as well as a starring barrister from a top London chambers."

There is, of course, no problem in principle with having an open meritocratic system. The problem comes with the underlying message here, which is surely gibberish, that ordinary measures for discriminating between who would be good candidates and who would be bad candidates will be thrown out of the window for the sake of it.

An ability to speak convincingly and fluently, an ability to develop authority yet still to appear as from amongst those who you seek to represent, to be intelligent yet still able to listen and to be able to engender some respect from amongst the community you seek to represent are surely vital skills. Now these are likely to reside in both staff nurses, pompous over-privileged public schoolboys and starring barristers, but it's surely perfectly sensible to use what people have achieved in their lives as indicators of what skills they are likely to have? By trumpeting the selection of people with three GCSEs the Party will hardly inspire its membership or the rest of the country with confidence that it is adequately identifying these skills on a genuine case-by-case basis rather than pandering to social engineering.

The sad truth is that the lack of wider scrutiny attached to the Priority List in no way suggests that those related to people on the current scene or who have done their (now apparently compulsory service as a party apparatchik professional politician in training) won't just get the same nod-and-wink that they've always had.

So much for ensuring the List contains the creme de la creme. If it does, from the taste in my mouth, it's been left out of the fridge for too long.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Ming the Invisible? No, Ming the ineffectual

I'm sure it's a nice stunt for the LibDems in advance of the local elections for Ming to harp on about his great sacrifice for the environment - selling his gas-guzzling Jaguar - but this is far from news. Anybody with a memory longer than a goldfish will recall that he was pledging to sell it, saying it had gone into a barn over four months ago. Nick Assinder's article on the BBC website (linked above) at the time - that being 16 January - was titled "Words that may come back to haunt". Isn't it time they came back to haunt Ming?

If it takes him over four months to sell what must be, by all accounts, a fairly desirable car what hope of him achieving anything while in Government? If he hadn't been quite so smug about getting rid of it during the LibDem election campaign, or even if he'd just been a little bit equivocal, saying he'd sell it when he had time, then it wouldn't have mattered so much. It's not even as if, let's face facts, he seems to have been doing much having been nearly invisible. As it is, it rather sums up what many of us know about the LibDems. Rather too often they'll promise whatever you want, no matter how impractical, to get you onside. Then they'll be rather long on the delivery.

So, Emperor Ming, just what steps have you taken towards selling this car in the last four months? Then again, he could reckon, having heard the grumblings of discontent within his party, that he just needs to lie low for a short while longer until he's no longer leader and can reprise his old gas-guzzling ways.

Monday, April 17, 2006

This potential explanation from a Guardian article looking at the increase in unemployment:

"A more troubling analysis, floated by Ben Broadbent at Goldman Sachs, is that the increase in unemployment over the past year or so has been the result, not of a cyclical weakness in growth, but of a structural deterioration in the labour market prompted by a higher minimum wage, big rises in public-sector pay and higher taxes.

He admits that this view is open to challenge, not least because other factors - immigration, low trade union density - point the other way. Moreover, the lesson of the past 25 years is that big rises in unemployment have been the result of catastrophic macro-economic policy blunders that, one hopes, will not be repeated.

However, there is one man whose job prospects would be enhanced if there was the slightest suggestion that unemployment was going up because Labour had screwed up the supply side of the economy: David Cameron."

The potential rebuttals are, obviously, worthy of serious consideration, although I'm far from convinced that immigration levels are a particularly helpful indication of the economy's health from this perspective as they are skewed by so many social matters as well as direct Government policy and control.

This is definitely an area on which a careful eye should be kept. It's a concern I have had and have expressed for some years. For a while I think the negative connotations of being "unemployed", largely developed during the years of Thatcherism, was responsible for artificially deflating unemployment figures. At the same time it was much easier for the impact of Labour policies on the economy to be absorbed by a rapidly expanding number of people claiming disability benefits, an arguably less stigmatised way of claiming benefits. Perhaps we're now seeing this coming out in the wash.

What were these six dead Israelis doing which required this suicide bomber to "defend himself"?

According to Hamas the suicide bomber who killed six people in a falafel restaurant in Tel Aviv earlier today was acting in "self defence". Their spokesman even went so far as saying "Our people... have every right to use all means to defend themselves". Even if you take as given the assumption that some Palestinians are being heavily oppressed, the doctrine of self-defence cannot be stretched to permit any attacks of whatever brutality against anyone.

How were the civilians killed by this explosion in any way threatening this suicide bomber or the wider Palestinian people? Yet again, Mahmood Abbas is closer to the mark than Hamas. This runs counter to Palestinian interests, is another unwarranted attack on Israel and merely suggests an unreasonable and unreconcilable brutality amongst Palestinians. This makes it easier for the Israeli Government to act in a hostile way towards Palestine. How sad that no remorse is expressed at all for the loss of innocent life.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Rather a flip-flopper than a liar

The Labour Party have launched another serious, considered and mature website concerning Mr Cameron's supposed and so-called "flip-flops". Aside from being annoyed at the way this term has seaped into national political consciousness I'd rather be a flip-flopper than a liar. Does anyone remember Labour's 2001 manifesto? "We will not introduce top-up fees and have legislated to prevent them?" I'm sure Labour students will be able to remind you what happened...

Friday, April 14, 2006

Bears still have not found new toilet arrangements

The Pope dispells rumours he has converted to Judaism and the Tories are a right-wing party apparently... He'd have been better off staying asleep surely?

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Senior LibDem being honest shocker...

So the LibDems are bickering over Ming's nervousness on big occasions. Simon Hughes has commented on it as part, I have to say, of a broadly complimentary statement about him but has in turn been leapt upon by others in the front bench team. You'd have thought that their last bout of blood letting would have got it out of their system wouldn't you? Nonetheless, Hughes clearly has to learn that in the LibDems it's de rigeur to lie to cover up for your leader's failings...

Whiter than white?

With the recent news that the police investigation into the "loans for peerages" scandal has yielded its first arrest, those who rubbished the inquiry, most notably Alastair Campbell called it "ridiculous", have plenty of egg on their faces. The big question now is how many more arrests are to come. Surely Lord Levy must be feeling distinctly uncomfortable this afternoon; the challenge for the police is whether or not they have enough hard evidence to get him. Des Smith, the former head arrested today, was stung by the Sunday Times back in January which no doubt gave the police a start. If he is guilty, however, of obtaining financial gain in return for peerages surely the rot must go right to the top...who else can give out peerages after all? For a detailed and apparently fairly accurate analysis of what he's been nicked for, check out this post Guido made a few weeks back.

So much for Blair's feeble promise to be whiter than white. Murkier than murky more like. Perhaps now this will give the lie to so many other empty and deceptive New Labour promises so many have been conned by since the mid 90s.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

US divorcing EU?

My critique of the EU for a long while has focussed around the risk of it becoming a barrier to greater integration around the world rather than helping it, despite the fact that the Euromaniacs want it to lead to greater integration within its borders. For me the building blocks of global interactions should be nation states, not continent-wide bargaining blocks which could hold back consensus. Against this background this story from EU Serf is fascinating. Some in the US are waking up to the barrier the EU could present. Let us hope this is not a portent of things to come.

The conservative movement

Tim Montgomerie over at ConHome has launched the inaugural Conservative Movement awards. The idea is well worth checking out and could well grow to help cement together a non-party-political movement which can bring pressure to bear outside the conventional Westminster political system. This is the greatest lesson I believe we can learn from the States as I will say in the article I'm drafting about what I picked up whilst living over there. Definitely worth some time, Tim's keen for it to work and wants help pushing it. Trust People is happy to support it fully. You can make suggestions for categories or the way it should work over at his excellent site.

Bar finals coming up so I shall be blogging-lite for the next week or so. Apologies for not being here since Saturday; been busy in the factory! I have been disappointed for Don Berlusconi. I'd rather hoped his flair would come through better than it did. Nonetheless, I have a feeling he'll hope to live to fight another day...

Friday, April 07, 2006

Policing thought not physical harm and damage to property

A boy has been prosecuted by the CPS for calling a child in the playground the "n word" and "Paki". Read what the judge has to say though.

Judge Finestein said he thought prosecuting the youngster was "crazy" and urged the Crown Prosecution Service to reverse its decision.

He said: "Have we really got to the stage where we are prosecuting 10-year-old boys because of political correctness? I was repeatedly called fat at school. Does this amount to a criminal offence?

"This is political correctness gone mad. It's crazy. Nobody is more against racist abuse than me but these are boys in a playground. This is nonsense."

He did not condone what was supposedly said but doubted the defendant understood bin Laden or al-Qa'eda and said there "must be other ways of dealing with this apart from criminal prosecution".

He added: "In the old days the headmaster would have given them a good clouting."
It was wrong for children to have racist views, he said, but he was "anxious to avoid the criminal conviction of somebody so young".

Addressing the boy's parents, he said: "I'm not blaming you, kids hear these things, but to refer to people as Pakis or refer to their race or religion is wrong."

He told the court: "This is how stupid the system is getting. There are major crimes out there and the police don't bother to prosecute. If you get your car stolen it doesn't matter, but you get two kids falling out because of racist comments - this is nonsense."

How right he is.

At last - embracing the power of saying "Trust People"

Conservative values are all about trusting people: Cameron

Poor old Ukip

"The childish tactics of the Conservative leadership demonstrate only too well why they remain a party of opposition and not one of government" says the party which is parking a single Saracen armoured car outside the Tories' Spring Forum as a publicity stunt. The same party which remains firmly an opposition protest group on every council and body in the country.

Of course, Ukip say, the parking of the single car will be symbolic of the way they are supposedly parking their tanks on Mr Cameron's lawn. Ignoring the fact that they're only using one armoured car, ignoring the fact it won't be on a lawn and ignoring the dodgy aspect of using military vehicles won't it just suggest that they're clapped-out, old, fairly useless, out-of-date and rather isolated?

Thursday, April 06, 2006

News of the Screws lose. It's the fake sheikh!

A pedant blogs

I must be famous! For months now I have been bemused, whilst walking up Chancery Lane each morning, at a sign paying homage to my wit, sagacity and intelligence. There is a stationers and printing shop partway up which offers on its street sign detailing its services "Let us quote you". Whether they will quote me to anyone in particular or just to other customers remains a mystery!

Thought of the day

Courage: being afraid but carrying on regardless.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Pervez Khan latest

Mr Justice Mitting made just the right call, I hear, and decided there was no basis on which to sustain the injunction against the publication of the Mazher Mahmood pictures. Apparently the News of the Screws are now appealing to the Court of Appeal. I'd be surprised if the Court of Appeal didn't make the same apparently sound decision as was made in the High Court.

Backing Galloway

Two words I'm sure you never thought you'd see on this blog in that order I'm sure! Nonetheless, although not fully aware of all the facts involved, I am instinctively firmly on George Galloway's side, as well as other realms of the blogosphere, in his battle to unmask the "fake sheikh" reporter for the News of the World, Mazher Mahmood.

Guido covers some of the story here, but it's set out more clearly in the Grauniad here and the Times (another News International publication, mind) here. News International yesterday got a court order to restrain publication of his picture until the resolution of a full hearing today, scheduled for 4pm. That, in the High Court, just over the road from here, has yet to finish so I understand the order has been extended to 5pm. If he wishes to try stings on with politicians and even football managers then he has to run the risk of the tables being turned in this way. He will no doubt argue his safety is in danger if pictures are published of him as he has been involved, allegedly, in crime-busting undercover work. Shouldn't he have thought of this before he turned, maliciously, to more spurious targets though? How is his picture alone, readily available anyway on the internet, going to allow him to be tracked down?

Surely any criminals he has stitched up are going to know what he looks like anyway?

We'll really see now just how easily News International will throw around legal proceedings themselves...

UPDATE: And an oblique reference in the Guardian.

Roger rogered

This article of Iain Dale's is well worth a read regarding Roger Helmer MEP who was kicked out of the Tory Group in the European Parliament after supporting a motion which was hostile to the freebies received by the Commission President. I've heard snippets about this story but haven't really followed it before now but Roger Helmer does seem a thoroughly impressive character who was doing his job. The "Reinstate Roger" website is here. The sooner we can get talent like Roger back onside and resolve, one way or another, this issue with the EPP then the better.

Kennedy takes campaigning kids too far...

"I was told I could get a tot or two in here to help me deliver leaflets? Hands up who's got the bottle..."

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

LibDems: bribe kids with sweets for campaign help

No wonder they're in favour of votes at 16. The Liberal Democrat's latest campaign manual contains an outrageous piece of advice for candidates in the forthcoming elections advising them to dole out "badges and toffees" as incentives for any children on an estate to help hand out leaflets. I am staggered that the party can condone exploiting children in this manner at the same time as encouraging them to accept sweets from strangers. This bribery could, after all, be their first and formative experience of the political process. Sadly, it's just another example of shameless and cheap LibDem campaigning.

Previous editions of the same publication have exhorted candidates to "be wicked, act shamelessly, stir endlessly", amongst other dubious practices, and yet the LibDem response still tries to take the moral highground. Apparently, "rather than launching negative attacks on our opponents, Liberal Democrats will be campaigning during these elections on the issues that matter to local people, such as the environment, Council Tax, crime and anti-social behaviour." They see nothing wrong with this. Then again, it will help them get elected. No more Kennedy, no more "hohnest politics" for the Liberals.

UPDATE: This aspect doesn't seem to be getting picked up in the wider media but there actually is some concern for the consequences of using children in this way. An earlier paragraph says that "if they [the children] are being used as part of an overall system of rounds, make sure their parents understand your needs, and that the children are observing them. (Yes, we have found 300 election leaflets in a litter bin at the local bus stop)." The only concern expressed about using and exploiting children in this way is that the LibDems themselves may lose out! Nothing to do with the children at all. Let's hope Mark Oaten didn't pioneer this technique...

Shurely shome mishtake?

Are Nigel Farage, sometime commentator over at ConHome, formerly of David Cameron's office & debater, and, Alex Deane, leader of UKIP, in some way related? We must be told.

UKIP leader --- or --- " Conservative thinker"

UPDATE 12/3/07: Sadly I've had to take the step of freezing comments on this post; something I haven't done lightly and which I'm loathe to do. As readers will know I'm all for free speech. I will not, however, allow this blog to be used as a vehicle for cowardly anonymous abuse or defamatory comments.

Most exciting blog ever?

Here's an amusingly grey blog about Conservative involvement with the EPP-ED in the European Parliament. Do they really think it will make much or any difference?At least the Party can still say it caters for a broad church on Europe....

Ming's dodgy campaigning

From ChildAlert:

Be aware of specific ploys used by strangers. Teach children not to help strangers look for lost puppies, accept gifts or sweets, or get in a car with someone they do not know …. or even someone they do know, if the journey is not planned.

No mention of canvassers from the Liberal Democrats...yet.... How can they possibly pretend they are acting responsibly in promoting the use of children on the campaign trail? More on this later.

Cameron: UKIP "closet racists"

I'm not too enamoured with David Cameron's condemnation of UKIP as "fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists, mostly". There are a fair few cretins amongst them too... Michael Howard's description of them as "cranks and political gadflies" was much more on point. I am very wary of the bandying round of "racist" as a political insult. I said during the last General Election campaign that I found it most unhelpful to debate in general as rather than discussing substantive issues we instead bicker over pejorative tags which are, in essence, pretty meaningless. By all means criticise, by all means discuss how UKIP really are an odd bunch who seem to want a "stop the world to get off here" party, but playing the "racist card" is, in my book, a bit cheap.

That said, of course, there is a startling record of UKIP gaffes. After Anne Winterton et al I wouldn't have thought the Tories would be too keen on focussing on them though. Despite this it seems to have played well with just the sort of voter the Party needs to win back for the next election. UKIP are seen as cranks by many and do play much of their game on a questionable part of the political wicket. Much better to hit them out of the ground, however, than aim for the body with the ball. That just isn't cricket.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Excessive Boat Race security?

I was at the Boat Race yesterday and was staggered to see two boats crammed with what appeared to be Special Branch officers following the main race as well as a police boat. Was it really necessary? Or was it to cement the feeling of a threat? I can't really see what they'd hope to do even if someone did launch something questionable at either boat! Given the apparent lack of security at many Oxbridge colleges I suspect there are probably easier and more high-profile Oxbridge targets.

That said, something must have happened to make that Cambridge boat take on so much water. Oxford do have experience of protesting too....

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Biased BBC?

You'd think this were an April fool were it not so tragically infuriating.

The BBC website currently reads, from the top, with the headline "Tories to maintain lender secrecy":

The Conservative party has insisted that it will not reveal the names of about 10 people who have lent it money but have now had their loans repaid.

It owes £16m to 13 supporters who helped bankroll its election campaign.

Almost £5m has been repaid to lenders - some of whom were foreign - but their identities will remain secret, prompting criticism from Labour.

Tory chairman Francis Maude said he "regretted" accepting loans from abroad but insisted no laws had been broken.

Now the headline is more misleading than anything else, suggesting as it does that the Party rejects the principle of being open about lenders, which it doesn't. All future loans will be declared and all current loans have been declared. Maude's statement is fantastically detailed and lays the party's finances so bare. Surely the leading item in the article should be the announcement yesterday? Instead it doesn't even get a mention. It is only past lenders who wish their repaid loans to remain anonymous who aren't being made public and details of those are going to the Electoral Commission.

Now I'm not one to shout "bias" at the BBC too readily but this really is beyond the pale. Particularly when we have a Prime Minister with such close and shady connections to new peers who also happen to be pretty much contiguous with a list of those financing Labour via dealings with Downing Street.