ConDemFail 2: The Rape anonymity U-Turn

This is from yesterday, but is another prime example of the ConDems going back on their word.

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*sigh*.

I’ve rehearsed the argument against the status-quo here and here.

Anonymity for both parties or neither is the way forward. Instead, we’re going to get a bullshit toothless compromise.

AJ

Doctors: Diagnose ailments, prescribe remedies. And shut the fuck up.

The medinazis are one lobby that was always going to transcend a change of government, so this shouldn’t be surprising:

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You see, chaps, you don’t seem to understand a fundamental point:

WE KNOW IT’S NOT HEALTHY. WE ARE FREE AGENTS. WE MAKE OUR OWN CHOICES.

Some people get the balance ‘right’, others don’t. Although quite why we should take any of these health muppets seriously I don’t know, given their track-record of manifest ideological (or pharmaceutical) bullshit regarding smoking, drinking, eating and recreational drugs.

The driving force for the fact that they feel entitled and compelled to hector us all can be collapsed in one easy move: Their argument always boils down to the cost incurred by the NHS in treating smokers, drinkers, fatties etc.

So we privatise the whole thing and halve national insurance contributions. People can self-insure their health or take out a policy.

At a stroke, the power of doctors’ arguments of ‘public good’, ‘public health’ and ‘cost to the NHS’ all go straight out of the window.

Which is probably why you’ll not find too many doctors supporting my plan. Quite a change from when the NHS was created and 9/10 doctors opposed it.

Remind me though. Is the government’s Chief Medical Officer still an enormously fat bastard?

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Apparently not. Lardy Liam’s been replaced by a Quangocrat shrew. Good times.

AJ

Section 44 dead?

It can’t be as simple as this, can it?

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The change follows a European Court of Human Rights judgment last month which ruled the power to search people without suspicion under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 was illegal.

No, it can’t, can it…

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"Officers will only be able to use Section 44 in relation to the search of vehicles.

So, as others have suggested, we can expect the Met Police to introduce and/or step-up vehicle check blockades or ANPR locations.

Oh and they’ll be looking for new ways to use the intelligence they can get from the permanent ANPR installations, as well as other CCTV, TrafficMaster, DVLA, ports etc.

Either way, the police will right now be discussing how to work around this ‘impediment’ to their ‘effective’ policing.

AJ

It is consultation time.

The consultation on the ConDem’s’ Grand Repeal Bill is here.

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You need to register, but you only need to give an email address, username and password & there’s no email verification process.

There are already lots of good ideas for things to repeal or amend, from the smoking ban to section 44 of the Anti-Terrorism Act.

Browsing through, there are even some things I didn’t know existed, let alone needed repealing, such as this one:

Reintroduce the HORT/1 "Producer"

Under the current system the Police National Computer Database is assumed to be correct with regard to insurance.  This is not always the case and unfortunately innocent motorists can be fined or have their vehicles impounded on the spot.  I agree with the sentiments of the law but there should be a period where innocence can be proven which the HORT/1 provided.  At the moment guilt is assumed which contravenes the basic understanding of British law.

Errr.. so if you drive cars on a trade policy, or on an ‘any car’ policy, hence the registration plate isn’t listed on the database, they can impound your car on the spot? Unless you always carry all of your documents with you at all times?

I’ll vote for that change. You can rate each proposal 1-5 stars like at the bottom of my blogposts.

Some other things I’ve asked for in the past from the government include:

  • Curtail powers of entry
  • Repeal the equality bill
  • Neuter the Digital Economy Bill
  • Scrap the e-Borders system
  • Prevent DVLA from selling details on their database to third parties
  • Bring ACPO into public ownership, or force it to disband.
  • Scrap PCSOs and stop handing police powers (detain, fine etc) to civilians.
  • Scrap NHS Summary Care Records
  • Repeal the hunting ban
  • Abolish the Health & Safety Executive
  • Scrap the Barnett formula

So get over there and make your voice heard, or sacrifice your right to complain in the future.

Now!

AJ

UPDATE: Old Holborn has a more comprehensive list of suggestions. And a link to (possibly) the definitive reference on the liberties we’ve lost.

Silver linings

My opinion diverges from that of Big Brother Watch on the matter of the EU’s attempts to ban the ‘mosquito’.

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Sure, you can argues that these devices are evil, misanthropic and insidious. And they are.

But there are two much wider and more important observations to be made.

The UK government has rejected calls to ban a device that uses a high-pitched noise to disperse teenage gangs.

A non-kneejerk reaction contrary to the bansturbators. Good.

A report for the Council of Europe last week called for a ban, suggesting its use may breach human rights law.

Refusing to bend over for the Euronumpties. Good.

You want to name and shame organisations that use these things? Have at it.

You want to lobby and campaign against their use on whatever grounds you find? Fair play.

Persuade, negotiate, shame if you have to, but banning stuff? Forget it, statist imbeciles.

AJ

Bring it on

Love it.

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There’s going to be pain for me at tomorrow’s budget, but the howls of indignation from the entitled classes are going to be beautiful, uplifting, invigorating music to my ears.

AJ

UPDATE: Uh oh.. doesn’t look like Spam’s got the stones to do what needs to be done. He’ll wise up sooner or later.

David Cameron today rebuffed calls by Britain’s leading businessmen to change strike legislation to counter fears that tomorrow’s Budget cuts will trigger industrial unrest.

Public sector cuts: A how-to guide.

Playing with the widget in the Financial Times, which invites us to choose where the axe will fall, and reflects the impact that will have.

Here are my choices, unconstrained by ConDem commitments on DFiD and NHS, but with a commitment to faster deficit reduction and abandonment of NI rises. No mention of the option to increase VAT to 20% I note. Anyway, here are my choices, which have yielded a saving of £54.4bn.

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Click image to enlarge

The narrative that this selection generates is one of extensive strikes. Good.

So we provoke the public sector to strike, we sit and wait, watch and laugh, manage just fine without them, and pocket a huge in-year saving from not paying brazier-bound berkinalds. This is an extra saving I don’t think the FT have factored in.

AJ

Abolishing Laws: Ur doin it wrong.

In my view, David Laws got off to an extremely impressive start as Chief Secretary to the Treasury. Even the anecdotes apparently cast him in a good light.

So my jaw and spirits dropped to the floor as I watched the current imbroglio unfold last night.

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I haven’t read blogs yet today, but I expect there are demands for his head from left, right and centre.

Even given my generous view of Laws so far, I don’t believe he can, or should, survive in his post.

On the face of it, his approach to his expenses lacks probity. Whether he was in breach of the letter or the spirit of rules that are already discredited is neither here nor there.

While Laws must shoulder his responsibility and act with honour, he’s not the only one who got it badly wrong.

Cameron and Clegg both failed to apply rigour in vetting. Each appointment should have been preceded by a process of full discovery and disclosure.

For a start, it’s no big deal to work out what candidates’ potential exposure to the expenses scandal is, without even asking them.

Secondly, if Laws was asked if there was anything Clegg/Cameron should know, and he didn’t disclose at least his expenses exposure, and preferably his other skeletons, then he should not only lose his post in government, he should trigger a by-election and let his constituents decide.

But really, it just doesn’t make any sense. Lots of politicians and others in public life are openly gay. While homophobia can still be found amongst the elderly,the religious and some immigrant groups, I genuinely do not think it forms a part of mainstream British culture in the 21st century.

Who exactly was he hiding this sexuality from? Every one except his other half, it seems. But why?

I mean, in this day and age – and correct me if I’m wrong, gayers – why would you not stick to your guns? We’re here, we’re smoking each others poles, we’re proud, get used to it.

Friends – don’t like that I’m gay? Goodbye and good-riddance.

Family – don’t like that I’m gay? Even easier. Can’t choose them, don’t even need to reflect on one’s own poor choices before ditching them.

Anyway, what next?

If Laws survives, it’s doubtful he would carry the credibility and respect required of whoever is to deliver the debtectomy this country needs over the next few years.

If Laws falls on his sword*, who should replace him?

The most likely candidates are my nightmare, Vince Cable, and our best hope, Philip Hammond.

Selecting Cable would cause uproar on the Tory right. Selecting Hammond would mean replacing a LibDem with a Tory. A pretty big reshuffle would be needed to restore the coalition equilibrium. Less than one month into the administration, both options are inconceivable, particularly after Cameron’s ludicrous scuffle with the 1922 committee last week.

So, what then?

AJ

* Don’t. I are respectable serious bloggist. K? Ahem.

Music to my ears

It’s like an a capella rendering of purgatory, performed entirely by the public sector.

The strained falsetto is achieved by clasping their bollocks between two housebricks.

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Splendid. Next.

Oh – here are some tools you may find useful, George:

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Glad to be of service.

AJ

Let the mongnitive dissonance flow

We’ve already had the bin thing today.

Now this. 13th May:

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Within 24 hours of taking on the portfolio he confirmed the new administration would bring in a "fuel price stabiliser" which would see the taxes reduced if the price of oil rises sharply.

However fuel duties would rise if the cost of petrol and diesel fell.

Mr Hammond, who drives a Jaguar, sought to underline the new Government’s motorist-friendly credentials confirming a manifesto pledge that there would be no Whitehall cash for new fixed speed cameras.

All good – fuel duty stabiliser and death to speed cameras, right? Wrong.

Today:

Conservative plans to cut fuel duty when oil prices are high have been abandoned, leading to fears that motorists will be targeted.

Meanwhile:

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TFI Drinkipoos time.

AJ

George Osborne speaks. Very badly.

I’ve just watched Osborne deliver an address to the CBI (BBC iPlayer, look it up).

He seems to have forgotten that the election is over and that a whole other conversation is necessary where the business community is concerned.

Now to style.

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Whatever merits George Gideon Oliver Osborne may possess, I can safely say one thing:

George Osborne is no orator.

The guy can’t parse a script (or notes) in order to get the tone and meter right. That the meter and emphases were so badly fumbled makes me think it must have been a script.

I wanted to be impressed, but his performance reminded me of myself trying to speak publically, aged 25, with ZERO preparation.

I had two problems back in those days. First was lack of confidence.

Confidence? George, you’ve just won an election. You are the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The pasty new hope. You should be walking into the room with your balls swinging. WTF is wrong?

Second problem was lack of preparation. When I was 25, I didn’t see the need to prepare until I’d fallen on my face a couple of times. Silly really; I’d heard the maxim “Fail to prepare, prepare to fail” many times in my youth.

If I need to deliver someone else’s message, even if it’s my message packaged by someone else, I need to read it and internalise it. George manifestly failed to do this.

Perhaps he deserves a break. He’s been busy.

AJ

55 per cent, or why not to say #noto55

Much wailing and gnashing of teeth at the idea of the ConDem government installing a rule that means the government can survive a no-confidence vote in the Commons with only 45% support.

My maths may be a little awry, due to vagaries of the Commons (and the presently vacant seat), but it works out something like this:

  • Conservative MPs: 306
  • Lib Dem MPs: 57
  • -> Coalition MPs: 363
  • Labour MPs: 258
  • Others: 28
  • -> Non Coalition MPs: 286

Now, for 55% to support a dissolution of Parliament requires around 358 MPs.

Therefore, 72 coalition MPs need to support the motion for it to be successful. That’s all the LibDems plus 15 Tories. If the Tories stick together, the government cannot fall this way.

If only 50%+1 were required – 326 votes, only 40 coalition MPs need be involved – about 70% of Lib Dems, in other words, would be enough to force an election. (Note that a VoNC with 50%+1 would still be enough to bring a government down, forcing attempts to reconstruct a governing arrangement.)

So, in the context of this coalition, a 55% threshold sort of makes sense. I can see why it was proposed: to encourage a stable parliament, assuaging the fears of the markets.

I’ll explore more in a mo, but first, the gainsayers:

http://noto55.com/

Introducing an ‘enhanced majority’ for confidence votes in the Commons may be politically expedient, but it’s not democratic.

Conservatives make up 47% of our MPs. This change in the law would make it impossible for Parliament to hold the government to account through a confidence vote.

Tom Harris

The plan is to scrap the centuries-old convention that when any government loses the confidence of the Commons, it must resign and parliament must be dissolved. Instead, 55 per cent of the Commons must support a no-confidence motion. Which means that a minority government could continue in office until the end of what we must now assume is a five-year, fixed term parliament, without the ability to legislate.

Gerald Warner (Telegraph)

This measure would preserve in power governments that had lost the confidence of a majority in the House of Commons as large as 54 per cent. Since the first vote of no confidence brought down Lord North, on account of certain little local difficulties in the American colonies in 1782, a total of 11 Prime Ministers have been ejected from office in this way.

The most recent was James Callaghan, defeated by one vote in 1979.

So, the case against this move looks strong; almost unassailable.

If the new rules being proposed by Cameron and Clegg had applied, his rotten government could have staggered on for nearly six months more, delaying the advent of Margaret Thatcher and inflicting further damage on the economy.

Could have, perhaps. Would have? I’m firmly of the view that our last unelected Prime Minister stayed in government about 2 years (I’m being generous) longer than was good for the country or the economy.

If this nightmare scenario came to pass in this Parliament, I confidently predict that the electorate would wipe the Tories off the map, and rightly so. That’s not to say the Tories haven’t had their suicidal tendencies in the past, but they’ve paid the price before and they’d have to pay it again.

‘It’s undemocratic’ they cry. As if we had an unblemished electoral nirvana until yesterday.

A commission is being formed to address the West Lothian question. If they can resolve that, a far greater good will be done for our democracy than any damage done by this proposed move.

So, I’m prepared to give them the benefit of the doubt on this one, on one proviso: A sunset clause that requires this 55% piece of be voted upon at the start of each parliament. Likewise for the associated 5 year fixed term parliament. I see these as temporary measures for extraordinary times, and they should be put before the next parliament for renewal or removal.

And for what it’s worth, to hear the left bleating on about gerrymandering is just hilarious after 13 years of tampering with constituency boundaries, buying votes in the public sector and welfare sector, and relying on Scottish votes to pass English matters through the Commons.

AJ

UPDATE: Useful further commentary from Dizzy:

A number of people, following my earlier post today, have pointed out that the 55% "super majority" vote is not for confidence votes, but rather for dissolution votes within fixed-term Parliaments. The argument thus goes that because the Tories don’t have 55% of the vote they wouldn’t just be able to win a dissolution vote at a time of their own choosing.

Thus, as some have said, it’s not really that bad at all. However, if you take a closer look it might actually be worse than previously thought and, in fact, it may just be that the Lib Dems have totally conned the Tories with a ruse that boosts their power for years to come.

The quick and easy analysis was that the rule was a stitch-up by the Tories, however, perhaps it’s really a stitching-up of the Tories by the Lib Dems who are looking to future Parliaments, not this one?

As one person put it to me "this is what happens if an experienced Eurocrat negotiator sits down with a bunch of power-hungry poshboys who wrongly believe they have the upper hand."

None of which would be an issue if a sunset clause is included.

And from his commenters:

My take on it is this:

If we have fixed term parliaments, the government is no longer able to call elections at a time and place to suit themselves. Fair enough, I guess.

However, that ability transfers to the opposition, who could call votes of no-confidence in the government at strategic times to suit themsleves. Apart form the constitutional mess that could arise, it would leave a government (especially one with a small majority at best) always looking over its’ shoulder at opinion polls, and unable to make any hard, unpopular choices given the inevitable electoral fallout and then the subsequent vote of no confidence forced by the opposition.

Effectively, this rule evens outs the balance of power again when it comes to calling/forcing elections. Don’t forget also that this rule has a 66% barrier in Holyrood.
That all said, I’m not sure why we need fixed term parliaments at all.

Which makes sense. In terms of the fixed term, I think this is an appropriate temporary measure, under the current economic circumstances. Again with the sunset clause.

UPDATE: Alex Massie has an excellent post about this. To take an extract:

Unless I am hopelessly confused about all this, the provision has nothing to do with confidence votes. The government would still be brought down by losing a confidence motion on a simple majority. But, now that we have fixed-term parliaments, this wouln’t necessarily trigger a general election. That would only happen if it proved impossible to form a new government and, then, 55% of MPs voted in favour of dissolution and fresh elections. 

Iain Roberts has a good piece making the case for why this provision may be a little less irksome than many presume. He points out, correctly, that constitutionally-speaking new elections are not in fact triggered by the government losing a confidence vote. The Queen retains the power to ask someone else to try and form a government.

I assume that this new 55% rule is also designed to make it harder for the sitting government to engineer a dissolution of parliament at a time that suits them and, consequently, make a nonsense of the switch to fixed-term parliaments.

It’s worth pointing out, perhaps, that such provisions are common where there are a) fixed-terms and b) often coalition or minority goverments.

Read the whole thing here.

UPDATE: More salient points from Alan Travis in CiF here.

Civil liberties start here, Dave

I hereby call up on David Cameron, Prime Minister, to repudiate the actions of the Metropolitan Police, with a flourish and a nod to Voltaire:

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Oh dear, oh dear.

"They burst into my house, pushed me back and handcuffed me. They said I had committed an offence under section 5 of the Public Order Act, I was being detained, and I might be arrested."

Ready for some irony, now?

Coincidentally, Hoffman has become one of Britain’s most respected photojournalists after three decades chronicling alleged police brutality. He said that after the officers looked up his identity, they "calmed down".

Tee hee.

After he expressed concern at his treatment, Hoffman says, a local inspector told him over the phone that "any reasonable person" would find his poster "alarming, harassing or distressful".

I’m not sure I want to meet any of these ‘reasonable’ people.

So, anyway, plod were just walking past and took offence eh? No…

The visit from police followed a complaint from a neighbour, who told Hoffman she found the poster offensive.

A neighbour, through whose letter box I would never ever advocate pushing a parcel of flaming dog turd. No sir, not I.

Here’s the oh, so offensive poster.

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Cam wasn’t singled out, though. Here’s Natty Nick and Nazi Nick.

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Here’s the err… indeed.

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See the video here.

Lots of media links for this on the Graun’s page.

AJ