More of other people’s stuff

Because, having done the stuff I needed to do, I now have CBA syndrome.

I heard Ali Darling on BBC news earlier, spouting the same old lines. Mr Eugenides sums up my response nicely (but do read the whole thing):

Hear this, Darling. You have destroyed the public finances and demeaned the nation’s governance. You have scorched the earth for your successors and ploughed salt into the ruins. You have fucked us so hard, Darling, that we will be walking bow-legged for a generation. How dare you put your mortician’s face above the parapet. Have you no shame?

Fuck off, shut up, and leave us alone. We do not wish to hear from you, ever again.

Meanwhile, Jeff Randall performs a field-autopsy on Brown’s legacy.


Well, we kinda knew that already, Jeff, but do go on…

Despite its record of fiscal incompetence, constitutional vandalism and disregard for Middle England, Gordon Brown’s administration ought never to have collapsed. It had, after all, created for itself a client class of supplicant voters. As part of a grand plan for permanent office, more than one million immigrants were handed British passports (80 per cent of first-generation arrivals vote Labour) and 900,000 workers added to the public-sector payroll.

More pernicious still, Mr Brown and his ministers were delighted to overlook a grotesque distortion in the make-up of parliamentary boundaries, which meant that a 30 per cent vote for Labour produced about 300 seats, whereas the same percentage for the Conservatives delivered only 200 seats. In short, just about everything that could have been done to bend the system in New Labour’s favour was in place by the time the election was called.

The problem, however, was that the project had been constructed upon a moral cesspit. The party’s membership had been taken prisoner by a gang of desperadoes who clung to a conviction that honesty and integrity were disposable luxuries, and substance an unwelcome substitute for propaganda. The upshot was a dystopian regime in which Lord Mandelson and Alastair Campbell were recalled from ignominy to orchestrate a campaign of lavish deceit.

Meanwhile, the twatteriti are complaining about having a “feckless fop” like this running the nation’s finances:


I know what they mean. Anyone who could afford a shave back when everything was still black and white were toffs, cads and idlers.

Far better for things to be run by the provisional wing of the David Bellamy fan club.


Why can’t these bitter lefties get over the class thing? I was brought up on the breadline, in the North, in a staunch Labour household, yet I don’t appear to be equipped with the same chip as these people. Perhaps it’s because I stopped moaning, got off my arse and did something to put half of Hovis between me and the breadline.


Said twitterist asks, in his profile, “Why should I face years of austerity when there are so many wealthy folk about?”

To which I reply, “Because you voted for the government that caused these years of austerity. I didn’t. Actions have consequences.”

Old Holborn has a nice compare and contrast post on this matter:

If a Libertarian doesn’t like guns, he doesn’t buy one.
If a Fabian doesn’t like guns, he wants all guns outlawed.

If a Libertarian is a vegetarian, he doesn’t eat meat.
If a Fabian is a vegetarian, he wants all meat products banned for everyone.

If a Libertarian sees a foreign threat, he thinks about how to defeat his enemy.
A Fabian wonders how to surrender gracefully and still look good.

If a Libertarian is homosexual, he quietly leads his life.
If a Fabian is homosexual, he demands legislated respect.

If a black person is Libertarian, they see themselves as independently successful.
Their Fabian counterparts see themselves as victims in need of government protection.

If a Libertarian is down-and-out, he thinks about how to better his situation.
A Fabian demands someone take care of him.

And there’s more… read on.



There’s a flan on the pitch… they think it’s pavlova

Keep going Gordon, don’t look back, now…



Bags are being packed into cars round the back of 10 Downing Street.

Latest whispers from Senior Tories is that the Tories and Lib-Dems will not be able to strike a coalition deal and Clegg will enter into a confidence & supply agreement with a minority Tory government.

Yet in the same august organ, James Forsyth reckons a deal is in the bag. The outcome still depends on the support of the Lib Dem party beards, though. They are due to meet at 7.30pm.

Tories MPs are also due to meet up this evening as well.

I think the confidence & supply arrangement is both most likely and I preference.

See also for latest.


Chaos Theory

This post-election period has been a sublime frottathon for game theorists.

For my own part, two statements I’ve made over the last few days:


The pressure will be on, though, for something to be in place before the markets open on Monday morning. The Pound is down against the Euro(!) and things aren’t going to be pretty if we still don’t know by Monday morning.

I was wrong about that. The rescue deal for the Euro pulled off last night gave rise to a rally of markets worldwide.


Tomorrow, though, is another day. As Brown made this evening’s announcement, the Pound took a hit.

17:41 "A Lib-Lab coalition would be a big negative for sterling," Ian Stannard at BNP Paribas says. "The Government will be unstable and not have the ability to drive through the cuts required."

17:30 Pound is now at $1.4866 against the dollar, compared to $1.5056 earlier in the afternoon. Still falling too.

17:23 Euro has risen by more than half a cent against the pound following Brown’s statement. Markets really spooked by prospect of more uncertainty.

17:14 Reaction to Brown’s statement and subsequent fall in pound from Jeremy Cook, chief economist at World First:

It’s pretty clear that the market wants certainty and that the news that Clegg is dilly-dallying between Labour and the Conservatives have not gone down well. I’m surprised that the markets haven’t hit sterling hard today, the EU plan has taken a bullet for us. As soon as that become old news however sterling is once again in the firing line.

Now, something I said yesterday:

This leads us to a nightmare scenario – albeit a remote one. But we are in uncharted waters, with some of the most calculating and devious bastards in history squabbling for the helm of the vessel.

Others have written that a Lib/Lab coalition with Brown, or A N Other unelected leader, would so enrage the electorate that they could never win a referendum on voting reform and would thereafter be savaged at the next general election.

So, suppose the Lib Dems went into a coalition with Labour, Postman Pat installed at the helm.

They all want PR. Once they have it, their ‘progressive consensus’ will be de-facto obtained.

If they don’t need a referendum, why on earth would they hold one? Remember the Lisbon treaty?

Okay, I was wide of the mark with PR – Brown appears to be offering AV without a referendum. But Brown going as part of the deal? Hmm. Suits me, sir.

I don’t know if it’s any comfort that Tom Harris says the Labour MPs won’t let that through the commons. It’s perhaps a mark of how little influence Tom has in his party that he makes this point, addressed directly to senior Lib Dems, on his blog. His frankness is refreshing nevertheless.

So on his way out, Brown has thrown a spanner in the works that will almost certainly have a negative impact on the markets.

I wonder if I’ll ever get another chance to use this:


Just be gone, you psychotic, monocular luntatic.


Don’t fuck with Rochdale, Gordon

He should be thankful he didn’t do that in a town where they can afford to throw eggs ;o)


I really shouldn’t laugh, but I’m creased up here, with saliva spewing from my ears.

Oh, the scars on my back…

Footage with gracious thanks to Channel 4 News.

As to why any of this matters – and it could have been a lot lot worse – I defer to Patently.


How to spin the GDP figures, Gordo style.

The first set of figures released for Q4 2009 showed GDP growth of just 0.1%. This figure was later revised upwards by the ONS to 0.3%, then 0.4%.

So, you see, the final figure, when all said and done, was 4 times the initial figure.

And so to Q1 2010.


In the face of today’s news that Q1 growth was a very shaky 0.2%, Gordo should confidently announce that Q1 growth was actually 0.8%. Four times the initial figure.

Expect Ed Balls to test drive this idea on Radio 4 news sometime today.


Picture the scene

On Friday the flight attendants aboard the Eastern Airways Saab 2000 turboprop had thoughtfully stuffed a political magazine into the seat pockets to keep the prime minister and his entourage entertained during the flight from Stansted to Edinburgh. Unfortunately the publication they chose was The Spectator.

This one:


Tee hee. Can you imagine the race around the plane as Brown rampages around, tearing up every copy, while the trolley dolly (only 1 on those planes ISTR) tries to stop him.

Of course, The Times reads more into this than there really is: Eastern have been putting The Spectator in seat pockets for years now.


Labour will win the next election

There – I said it. Let’s have a quick run through the facts.

  • Labour need fewer votes than the Tories to win a majority.
  • Labour have built up a massive client state of public sector workers and benefits claimants that have a vested interest in the status quo.
  • Labour can come up with wizard wheezes like a wholesale clearout of the House of Lords.
  • Labour can palliate all sorts of social & economic pain until after the election.
  • Labour can initiate rescue packages for car-makers and other industries in key marginals.
  • Labour can pull a rabbit out of the hat at the Budget (scrapping the 50p rate?).
  • If Labour have damaged their core vote due to immigration, the Tories have damaged theirs ten-fold on Europe.
  • Cameron still isn’t sealing the deal. His PR is shambolic, his preparation is sub-standard, his message is indiscernible from white noise. His fire-bellied, but fact-free, performance at PMQs last week was just silly.
  • Osborne is a lightweight and an empty suit – is it any wonder Ken Clarke’s taken over as economics spokesman?
  • Since the Tories are manifestly failing to distinguish themselves, ‘better the devil you know’ will hold a lot of power with an electorate facing continued choppy economic waters.
  • People are incredibly stupid, spiteful, small-minded and short-sighted. It will take much more profound upheaval before the masses will lash back at Labour with the vigour so many of us demand.
  • Gordon Brown, whether you choose to accept this or not, has run 3 successful general election campaigns for Labour. Whatever else he is, he’s a master tactician.
  • Even the Spectator can only suggest voting for the Tories on the basis of the economic terror that 5 more years of Labour would wreak.

Ladbrokes are giving 10-1 against Labour securing an overall majority. I’ve just put a big chunk of change on it.

And if Labour lose, hey – I won’t feel too sad about the cash. If they win, though, my bet will pay for a couple of years of tax increases and inflation. Or a one way ticket to somewhere far far away. You hope.


The shite locker

Kudos to Gordon Brown


Gordon Brown hurled a torrent of abuse at EU Foreign Minister Baroness Ashton in a row over the way she is doing her job, it was disclosed last night.

The Prime Minister swore repeatedly at the Baroness over the telephone, leaving her shaken, according to well-placed sources.

Details of Mr Brown’s latest bullying outburst prompted claims that Baroness Ashton, 53, is losing the confidence of her own Government, as well as Brussels. According to one source, he accused her of ‘letting Britain down’.

Finally, Brown speaks to me. If only he could take it as well as dish it out, the Jock bastard.


Devastating knockdown of Browns Central Argument in today’s PMQs

Tweeted by many fine folks.


The claim
“The defence budget has been rising every year…. The only time the defence budget has been cut was in the 10 years before 1997″
Gordon Brown, Questions to the prime minister, 10 March, 2010

Cathy Newman checks it out
Gordon Brown has been under heavy fire from the top military brass in the last few days for starving the Ministry of Defence of resources. Today he returned fire. Labour has been at war five times since it came to power 13 years ago. And the PM is adamant that during his time as chancellor, and since he got the keys to number 10, the military have got everything they asked for. His claim at prime minister’s question time today that the defence budget has risen EVERY year since 1997 was impressive. But even before he’d left the chamber, FactCheck had got to work to find out if it was true.

Gordon Brown is accused of squeezing defence budgets at a time of war. Just this week Sir Bill Jeffrey, the most senior civil servant at the Ministry of Defence, told the Chilcot Inquiry the forces were kept short of funds when Brown was Chancellor.

David Cameron today took up the baton, accusing Brown of fighting “two wars on a peace time budget”. The PM retorted that the defence budget has been rising every year since Labour came to power.

A Downing Street spokesman reiterated the prime minister’s claim, saying: “The government has a strong record on defence spending. Defence spending has risen by 10 per cent in real terms since 1997, and on top of a rising defence budget £8bn was spent on Iraq and so far £9bn have been spent on Afghanistan. Every additional request for funding for Iraq and Afghanistan has been met.

“As Chancellor, Gordon Brown’s successive spending reviews provided for annual average real terms growth in the defence budget.

“Exact outturns on those budgets can vary for a range of reasons, including the cost of operations, departmental underspends, and additions over and above budgets in these periods. But there can be no doubt about the government’s commitment to resourcing defence.”

The analysis
In real terms – i.e. taking account of inflation – Gordon Brown is wrong. Figures given to us by the Ministry of Defence (see table below) show the defence budget fell year-on-year in real terms on four occasions since 1997 when Labour came to power – in 1998, 1999, 2002 and 2007.

Worse, the defence budget also fell below 1997 levels (again in real terms) on four occasions – 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2002.
“Near cash”
The MoD says Gordon Brown wasn’t talking about real terms growth, but was instead referring to “near cash” rises in the defence budget. “Near cash” is the simplest form of the military budget, the most basic cash figure – without inflation or depreciation taken into account.

According to the Institute For Fiscal Studies, inflation has to be factored in to make spending comparisons meaningful. So Brown was at the very least playing fast and loose with the figures by ignoring inflation.

Wrong again?
However, Gordon Brown also stated today in the Commons that the “expenditure of the Ministry of Defence has been rising in real terms under this government”. Taking him absolutely literally, “this government” was elected in 2005. But here he is also wrong. As we’ve seen just now, spending fell in real terms in 2007.

FactCheck likes a belt and braces approach, so we called several experts – including Mark Stoker, a military economist at the International Institute For Strategic Studies.

He pointed out NATO also provide accounts on defence budgets, and he reckons these numbers are more accurate.

Still falling
Looking at the NATO figures, the defence budget fell from £34.4bn in 2007 to £32.8bn in 2008.

“If you look at Nato’s figures Gordon Brown’s statement is incorrect,” says Stoker. “Either way, both sets of data indicate that the budget has not risen every year.”

Cathy Newman’s verdict
Defence spending has gone up in “near cash” terms, but it’s fiscally illiterate to use this measure, and the former chancellor knows it. The government is on firmer ground when it points out that the departmental budget is 10 per cent higher this year than in 1997, but FactCheck has established that Gordon Brown’s central claim that the defence budget has gone up every year is fiction.

Defence spending table. Source: MoD
Source: MoD. Figures are calculated using the latest (4 January 2010) GDP deflator which is updated quarterly by the HM Treasury. The agreed figure of 1.5 per cent for the average annual real-terms growth over the comprehensive spending review period was agreed with the Treasury in 2007/08 and was calculated using the 2007/08 baseline (£29,411k).

Why does Cameron not have this intelligence to hand when he walks into PMQs?


UPDATE: Follow-up from the same site.

Bits & bobs

Just a few things I’ve happened upon today, that I can’t be bothered to construct full posts about.

Someone called Matt Flaherty has written a letter to the CPS expressing concern about the Paul Chambers #twitterarrest case. It  very nicely articulates the concerned raised by the choice of path the CPS has taken in this instance. Sadly, since Mr Chambers has already pleaded guilty, it’s too little too late. As an expression of all that’s wrong with this case, though, it’s a fine piece of writing & I commend it to you.

Many years ago, I used to frequent a web forum, where a chap once boasted how he’d secretly videoed himself shagging various women, by using a hidden camera. A free-for-all ensued and debate was split along the lines of “get in there, good lad – hope you caught the money shots” and “err – that’s certainly immoral and probably illegal – you’re a fucking sleezebag, mate”. This, would have been somewhere between 2002-2004, I guess (I couldn’t find the thread in 2 hours of searching last night), but I was reminded of it when I read this item, about a bloke who has just been jailed, having been rumbled for precisely this activity.

Mad Mel nails The Tories’ hopey-changey-wishy-washy bullshitfest with aplomb.

In spite of Tory optimism that their marginal seats strategy is mitigating the nationwide narrowing of the polls, YouGov have a poll of 60 key marginals, showing that the gap in the marginals is 2% too.

The Jon Venables thing continues to rumble. The beying of the general pubelick continues to grow in pitch and amplitude. #bbcqt last night was awash with it (Will Self here). It is, though, annoying to think that, if the papers are right, Venables has been habitually flouting various of the conditions of his licensed release. Robert Thompson is still at liberty. Do you have a dysfunctional Scouse loner with a sketchy background in your workplace? Renting a flat from you? In your bed? Have you checked under your bed for monsters and trolls? Meanwhile, Venable is getting another new identity after his ID was rumbled at the prison he’s in.

Bit of a contradiction here:


Which one is it? I think we all know. I’ve suffered these bi-weekly collections for a couple of years now and they are a fucking joke in half a dozen different ways.

Incidentally, they’re installing RFID chips in bins again. Look for a circular black plastic thing, recently inserted in the underside of the front lip of your wheelie bin. Remove. Microwave for 2 minutes. Reinsert.

Brown’s in front of the Chilcot inquiry today. Outcome likely to be, “meh – he got away with it again.”

I’ve added the Big Brother Watch site to my blogroll, because, if I’ve nothing to say on any particular day, it’s usually because they’ve already said it with aplomb.

The Met office are to stop issuing seasonal forecasts, because they’re shit at it. Presumably, this will give them more time to spend cooking their global warming datasets.

This took a while to float back to the surface.

[Airline Bomb Plotter] Ali’s wife has also been charged under anti-terror laws for allegedly failing to inform authorities of the plot. However, she strongly asserts her innocence.

She’s just been cleared after a 3 week trial. Good.

More crap anon.