Mar 012021
CPAC Golden Idol (Trump)

Now I will freely admit that I’m no fan of Trump … nor the right-wing in general; neither the “moderates” (although one could question just how moderate the “moderates” are) nor the extremists. But with the latest shindig at CPAC, the Republicans have made themselves laughing stocks.

To deviate into the cesspool of christianity, the Trumpists are doing exactly what pissed off Moses so much – worshipping an idol :-

You shall not make for yourselves idols
 Source: Leviticus 26:1

But if you insist of worshipping an idol at least have some aesthetic sense about it. A shiny gold statue? Tacky. Shorts made out of the flag? Not just tacky, but a breach of the US Flag Code. It’s laughable that a foreigner with dislike for rampant nationalism knows more about respect for the US flag than those ultra-nationalists.

The whole thing screams “No class”

May 192013

Probably not … this is hardly the first time that the Tories have had a spat over membership of Europe.

But when one of them grandly announces that they are all united over Europe, you know there’s trouble. You hardly need to announce that you’re united when there’s no trouble.

When you’ve got Lord Howe announcing that David Cameron is running scared over Europe, and rumours of someone close to the top using the phrase “swivel-eyed loons” in connection to grass-roots party activists, then you have a party with definite issues. In addition to the normal doubts over Europe, Tories have a streak of unrealistic traditionalists within their party – who could quite well qualify as “swivel-eyed loons”.

The loons want to hark back to a time when Britain had an empire, hung serious criminals, flogged less serious criminals, and a few other policies from the 19th century. And the thought of co-operating to any extent with the old enemies of France or Germany raises the hackles.

Well they are entitled to their views, and I’m entitled to borrow a phrase and call them “swivel-eyed loons”. And good luck to them; they will be the cause of the Tories becoming unelectable for another decade or so.

And of course there is the other half of the party – those with more than one brain cell – who realise that such archaic world views are really not helpful. Could the division cause the Tory party to splinter? Well there’s always wishful thinking.

But realistically there is already a place for disgruntled Tories to head off to: the UKIP party. You could almost say that the split has already occurred and that we’re watching the painfully slow death throws of the old Tories.


Feb 212010

Pssst … want to make a quick bundle ?

Just vote for the Tories and they will let you buy shares in the Banks we own for cheap. Sounds good doesn’t it ?

Sounds like a bloody stupid idea to me. To sell the shares cheaply, the government would have to make an enormous loss on the money it used to bail out the banks in the first place. Now saving the banks was probably the right thing to do, but so would be hanging onto those shares until they can be sold at a reasonable profit … or at least not a disastrous loss!

It’s all very well offering to throw money at the electorate to increase the chances of your party winning, but surely the government finances are in no state to start throwing money away like this ?

Perhaps when you are considering selling your soul … sorry I mean vote, for a handful of bank shares you should think a little more broadly than your wallet.

The funny thing is that the Tories seem to want to encourage the less well off (even students!) to invest in shares. I’m not sure what planet the Tories are from, but it probably isn’t the best idea to encourage these people to gamble with their money (which is what share investments are – a gamble) before they have a sensible amount of savings.

Feb 202010

I did sort of miss the opportunity to make a timely comment on the Conservatives monumental gaff in relation to figures they published regarding the number of teenage pregnancies amongst deprived communities. But it is such a good example of Tory stupidity that I am going to make a comment anyway.

Apparently the Tories claimed as an example of Labour failure that the percentage of teenagers who got pregnant before the age of 18 in the most deprived areas was 54%. The actual rate was 5.4% which itself was a decline since 1998 when the rate was 6%; or in other words the highest rate was during a year where Labour had little chance to correct the mistakes of the previous Tory government having only been in power for a year.

Now of course anybody can make a mistake, which is why in any circumstances where you need to avoid making mistakes you check and double-check your data. And when you have previously made yourself look a fool by making a mistake you triple-check things. And obviously an organisation would have these facts checked by someone other than the author.

So what does a mistake like turning 5.4% into 54% mean ? By itself, not a great deal but it indicates a certain lack of care about the details.

After all, 54% is a ridiculous enough figure that you would normally say to yourself “Eh?” and have another look. The Tories obviously came up with a figure that helped their claims and ran with it.

It’s the sort of carelessness that is not the sort of thing you would like to see the next government use.

May 102009

British MPs have managed to make themselves look corrupt in a spectacular way with the leaking of the details of purchases made on the second home allowance. It is particularly amusing that the biggest fuss is about somewhat trivial items such as loo brushes (that’s not a real example) and the like.

It is worth pointing out that the whole second homes allowance was introduced by the Tories in the 1980s to supplement MPs salaries during a time when Thatcher was grinding away at public sector salary increases. So this is not strictly speaking a Labour issue.

There have been a number of excuses floating around as to why MPs need a second homes allowance, and because MPs are so good at spinning rubbish it is easy to start to think that they may have a point. But lets compare things with not just the private sector but everyone else …

Normally when you take a job, you are expected to live within a reasonable distance of work. It’s not usually explicitly stated but you are expected to turn up to work every morning at a reasonable time, and stay for a reasonable length of time. Whilst you may get a more or less generous “bonus” to making moving easier, you don’t get money to pay for a home near work.

So MPs might have a point about a second home allowance but until such an allowance becomes common place outside of Westminster, they are going to look like pigs in the trough if they do have one. Under the existing system it does make sense to make some sort of arrangement for providing accommodation to MPs whose constituency is some distance from London.

But that can simply be provided by a block of flats close to Westminster – perhaps something on the river.

If MPs had sorted this all out before all this fuss, it would have been quite reasonable to abolish the second home allowance, spread the money used for it previously amongst the MPs as a salary increase. But because this was not sorted out previously the MPs should lose the money completely.

It would seem that many of the items coming to light are strictly speaking “within the rules”, but that is not good enough. We have to trust MPs to be honest and honourable as they make the rules that govern us. If they are apparently eager to exploit a system that is not quite as rigorous as it should be, what is to blame ? The MPs of course.

In any position of power, there are ways of abusing that power. It is the responsibility of those with power to not abuse that position. Can we trust MPs not to abuse their position ? Apparently not; at least not those MPs who have abused the system. Parliament needs to identify the 10 worst offenders and expel them for a minimum of 5 years.

Or if they do not have the courage to do this, perhaps we should identify the top 50 most serious offenders and refuse to re-elect them at the next election.

One of the dangers of so much concentration on the second homes allowance is that we are in danger of overlooking worse things. For instance, why are MPs allowed to take on jobs in addition to their job in Parliament?

In many situations (at least in the public sector), if you are in any sense in a senior position, you are effectively prohibited from taking additional jobs. At least without getting permission to do so. In the case of MPs, I see no reason why they should be allowed to have additional jobs – they already have an important and well paid job and any other job will take them away from what they are supposed to be doing.

There’s a tired out old excuse that MPs like to trot out whenever the second jobs question gets asked – that they need second jobs to keep in touch with the outside world. It is really an excuse to rake in fat cat salaries – after all how many MPs with second jobs work as nurses in hospitals ? Or anything that does not pay ridiculous amounts of money for trivial amounts of work.

Time to refuse to elect part-time MPs.