Saturday, February 02, 2008

Right Wing Rags: Recycled Rubbish Over and Over Again

What complete and utter rubbish! Originally from the Telegraph, now landfilled on an FT-blog.

Horse Play: "Beware of ..." Signs on the Way Out?

Yesterday we took our dogs on a bracing walk in the Peak, along the Roaches. Snow, hail, wind, mud, wetness and towards the end of the six miles just a little winter sun. All the dogs, born to hunt, ran around "off piste" and picked up some gritty grazes.

But Jim excelled himself getting a gash to the bone from an arsey horse.

Usefully at the exit end to the field in question - crossed by a public footpath - there was an exhortation to keep dogs on leads and not to feed the horses. Clearly the former to save the dogs from vicious equines. Two tiny hairy ponies and a big black horse looked on sympathetically as the chestnut mare did her nowty thing.

Jim had to have a general anaesthetic and some serious stitches. We may also have to start saving up to have a troublesome "knocked up" toe removed.

The old "Beware of" sign spied on the way out of a field is a regular feature of country walking. Fortunately, where they say "Bull", they are not always accurate.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Guido Fawkes: Libertarian Anarcho GuF Blogger Bully

The libertarian right wing blogger Paul Staines aka Guido Fawkes aka Mr GuF is threatening fellow blogger Tim Ireland/Bloggerheads with legals. Over the apparently completely and utterly true observation that GuF is unprofessional in one of various obvious ways.

Yes Tim, GuF steals images and stories. Yes, he runs stories that are plain idiotic. Yes, he runs stories that are simply not true. Yes, he runs ropey stories that he changes repeatedly by way of U-Turns but without annotation. Yes, he either does not understand or ignores the law of defamation. But yes, he threatens bloggers with court action at a drop of his flaccid hat.

Ironically GuF is attacking one of the heroes of the resistance to Schillings and Alisher Creosotemanov. GuF is behaving like the kleptocrats and liberty-attackers he says he despises.

GuF spent a week or so threatening me with legals back in 2007. The stuff he demanded was removed is still up and never came down. GuF's all mouth and no trousers. Please back Tim on this one with a story and link on your blog.

Derek Conway: Must Go Now, Cannot Get Away With It

How can we as taxpayers and citizens stop the MP dubbed an embezzler - for obvious reasons - by Frank Field MP getting a maximum "resettlement" pay out when he gives up being an MP and being able to start taking a generous index-linked pension to boot.

The disgraced Old Bexley and Sidcup MP Derek Conway has had 20 years, in two stints, taking the piss in the Houses of Parliament. This moves him into pension heaven. Is there any way we can avoid this?

Ideally he and any co-conspirators: Wifey, Freddy, Henry, Henry's boyf; should GO TO JAIL.

If possible all pension bets should be off completely. As a chronic embezzler Conway MUST be penalized a tad more than ten day's suspension and withdrawal of the whip. More too than Jail.

The man is around 55. He could be trousering a huge pension from the British taxpayer he has cheated for decades. His family have ALREADY HAD THE PENSION out of the system. How about this for starters:

Immediately sack him as an MP;
Immediately demand a refund of the £80,000 ish paid to his sons, any money to their partners, and if overpaid or underworked the lion's share of the wife's salary etc too;
Take this off his salary and on costs retrospectively;
Taking him back at least a year;
So he's before the 20-year pension heaven.

That'd be something. Letting him continue as an MP is ridiculous. Letting him pick up maximum resettlement and pensions plus his wife's pension is also ridiculous. The pair of them have conspired to rip us all offer. The Conway Family must not prosper from this.

Let's make it Time and the Conways in an uncomfortable prison. Followed by disgrace and all bets off on pensions and benefits.

Guido Fawkes: The Bookies' Friend Naps Leslie to Fail

Mr GuF is advising his record number of muppets and readers to vote against one Mr Leslie being on the ballot paper when East Hull Labour Party select a candidate to take over the seat from John Prescott.

GuF might just be right when it comes to David Prescott, Prezza's son, but on Leslie he is way off the money. Full analysis soon. But Leslie will certainly be on the slip. And even now Prezza Jnr could make it.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Con-way Parallels: More Like Old School Tory Felony

Iain Dale covers the announcement by his bessie mate Derek Conway MP that he will not be contesting the next election. We can only hope that he'll still be in jail then and there will be a by-election before too long in Bexley Heath and Sidcup.

In justifying his decision not to "diss on" (sic) his friend Iain suggests that none of Wendy Alexander or Peter Hain's friends were calling for them to resign. But I'd say that at least some of their blogging friends were covering the case.

There is absolutely no equivalence whatsoever between Derek Conway's behaviour - carrying echoes of old school Tory feloniousness, you know Archer, Aitken, Hamiltons - and the cases of Wendy Alexander or as far as we know Peter Hain.

Wendy Alexander and her team did not pick up that a donor of £950 was not permissible. Even when it came to sending a thank you form letter.

In fact as we all know Cameron's own constituency did the same to the tune of 700% of the value.

Unfortunate, but hardly the same as directing £50,000 to one son and who knows what to his elder brother and not being able to account for a stroke of work done in return.

Peter Hain has a strange but as far as we know legal company vehicle for some donations and loans and he was a few months late declaring a six figure total of 17 plus donations. But in fact he was around four times quicker than George Osborne in getting things registered.

Whatever CCHQ may say there are almost £500,000 of donations to George Osborne's activities that haven't been reported by GOO to either EC or RMI.

The fact that CCHQ have reported them to the EC simply is not good enough. It doesn't do the job of showing transparently just which Hedgies and Toffs are backing GOO's bid to be Chancellor of the Exchequer. The electorate and the media should be able to see these links clearly on EC and HoP websites.

And that celebrated but laughable email from the commissioner does not get anyone off the hook in the slightest.

There is an assumption in the commissioner's answer that the money is already declared to the RMI. The question answered is whether it needs to be reported to the EC as well. Not the other way round. No sign the Tory Whip's Office enquiry was even linked to GOO's iffy situation.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Worst Council Finances: LibDem Liverpool, Con Southend

Number twelve in the Daley dozen is a Lib Dem Voice whine about the unfairness of the appallingly mis-run-by-Libdems city of Liverpool being designated appallingly mis-run-by-Libdems. It absolutely is appallingly run. With the Storey/Bradley conspiracies and cock ups flowing in equal measure as they muller one of our great cities.

A subject we may return to. But neither Mr Dale nor LDV seems to have paid attention to the actual Guardian report.

Southend and the Scilly Islands are in fact in the same bag. The former being officially Tory, with no eons ago Militant Tendancy to excuse themselves, and the latter being unofficially conservative, with a Lib Dem MP and more likely a Military tendancy than anything Trotty.

IT'S OFFICIAL: All three could provide services for £100 lower Council Tax.

Guido Fawkes: As Illogical as Two-Headed Don-Quixote

There are times when it must be said that the right wing Libertarian blogger Paul Staines aka Guido Fawkes aka Mr GuF appears to have completely taken leave of his senses. Today is one of them:

Did Dave dither? He says he slept on it and thought better, well he may have thought better not to lose votes, better not to annoy the activists, better to upset David Davis than Guido and Tim Montgomerie - who knows?
The important thing is, he has now dealt with the sleaze issue decisively. What is Gordon going to do? After the Abrahams scandal broke Gordon demanded the resignation of Peter Watt. He told the monthly press conference immediately afterwards that undeclared donations were unlawful and unacceptable and that was why Watt had to go.
Since then we have had Hain - he went - but we still have Harman, Johnson and Wendy. Why haven't they gone? They broke the law. Why are they still lawmakers and ministers of the crown?

So, a Tory MP who is bang to rights slushing the best part of £50,000 to his unqualified son Freddie, at an unfeasibly high remuneration rate, and with no visible return for the tax payer? Cameron stuck up for him but then threw a U-ey and, oo-er, set him free from the Tory whip? And so Brown should sanction H Harman, A Johnson and W Alexander who have respectively :
- Unknowingly taken, and incidentally declared, a donation via a secret agent, with both original donor and intermediary permissible donors;
- Received, carefully checked and declared everything rather well;
- Received £950 from an impermissible donor, which is roughly 14% of the amount David Cameron's Witney Tories trousered from similar sources.

What a crock GuF! Conway is so obviously far more culpable. The cases do not bear comparison. Are you blogging drunk after your liquid lunch you soak? Do you have no sense of proportion whatsoever?

Let's hope Conway goes to jail along with his co-conspirators. And let's hope GuF develops some kind of sense of proportion. This is just braying GuF. And Dave DID "dither like a donkey" as GuF coined in his stumbling Newsnight reprise. Which we'll give him as a possible first use. Unlike his attempt to pilfer the old as the hills: "Snouts in the trough".

Image of Don Guido Quixote on his dithering two headed donkey courtesy of Economist USA.

Mr GuF: Leads Lynch Mob, and Fantasy of Idiom Making

Fair play. GuF is leading the lynch mobs after Conway's neck ... but we have a feeling his claim to ownership of the expression "Snouts in the Trough" is even more ridiculous than some of his other recent vanities.

Iain Dale: Feels a Cameron Mini-Shuffle Coming On

Iain Dale wonders out loud if there's a Cameron mini-shuffle going on. Clearly he knows all about* his good friend Derek Conway as they worked together on the catastrophic David Davis campaign. But he doesn't seem to know about the DWP Shadow Mimicster and solicitor and barrister Nigel Waterson MP who spent 13 hours in police custody on Sunday/Monday over child battering allegations. His own teenagers as it goes. Telegraph stress - this was not a sexual attack. Waterson was described on BBC News 24 as a "close friend" of Dave Cameron.

Here he is on child protection (with respect to Section 28 in 2003):

The onus should be on the Government to come up with an alternative method of protecting our children, rather than that being left to the official Opposition?

An alternative method of protecting Mr Waterson's children is indeed needed urgently as he is on police bail until March. The Telegraph report states that the violent abuse is not a one-off but part of a pattern.

* Actually I'm not sure even Iain knew about the shady double life.

Tory Embezzler: Urgent Letter's in the Post, 2nd Class

While John Mann MP twists the knife in Tory embezzler Derek Conway's chest by asking the Commissioner to probe elder son Henry as well as young Freddy, the Lib Dem PPC for Bexley Heath and Sidcup and gratuitous Shilpa Shetty blogger Duncan Borrowman says he's sent a letter to the Met Police asking them to investigate what looks like Criminal Fraud and prosecute as necessary:

Dear Commander Mawer,
I write to you concerning the verdict of the House of Commons Standards and Privileges Committee regarding the activities of my local Member of Parliament, Derek Conway MP.
I note that the Committee has stated that Mr Conway's son Frederick (FC) was:
"unlikely to be able to meet his contractual commitments"
"no records appear to exist of either actual work that FC did for his father, or the work he was required to undertake…no-one outside of the Conway family was aware of the work."
further, they state:
"We note that FC seems to have been all but invisible during the period of his employment,"
"This arrangement was, at the least, an improper use of Parliamentary allowances: at worst it was a serious diversion of public funds. Our view is that the reality may well be somewhere between the two."
From the statements given by the committee it is clear that there is primae facie evidence that criminal fraud may have taken place, and I ask that you investigate the activities of Mr Conway in this context.
I should declare that I am Mr Conway's Liberal Democrat opponent at the next General Election, but believe this issue is important enough, especially in the present climate, to warrant police investigation.
Yours sincerely
Duncan Borrowman

LOL remember watching Chris Huhne on the Daily Politics claiming he'd sent a letter to Durham Police about planning corruption - strangely in an area where Development Control is in the hands of his own party - but looked a bit sheepish when Andrew Neill reported that the letter hadn't yet reached the police. "Was in the process of writing" perhaps? "Was minded to write a letter soon"?

The same has happened again. The police still haven't got Borrowman's sent letter, reproduced on his website yesterday afternoon. The reason? Apparently the unstoppable Lib Dem loveanti-corruption machine applied a second class stamp to the envelope.

Let's hope that when the missive does reach its destination it will be more effective than Huhne's very silly cry-babery and police time wastage.

BREAKING NEWS: Dithering Cameron has done a U-turn and withdrawn the whip from Derek Conway.

Monday, January 28, 2008

More on Con-Way: Con-servative, Con-Man, Convict?

Seems to me Tory MP and ex-Minister, ex-Whip Derek Conway was lucky to get away with his moonlighting but should be getting jail, a full refund plus interest, a humungous fine, loss of his seat through the jail sentence, and eternal shame.

Instead he is getting ten days gardening leave and getting let off more than two-thirds of what he has stolen. Unity expounds his sins, hat tip Bob Piper, and GuF is calling for Conway's head just as he did with Osborne's money laundering.

Stealing £45,000 or so is obviously far worse than late reporting of a donation or 17. Conway is the one who should face a police enquiry. Will GuF admit that?

Buller Dave: Greenwash Shown Up By Observer Food

Clearly a huge joke putting David Cameron in any eco top-40. Every eco-stunt he pulls gets found out in no time. Crappy wind turbine. Huge car or some say cars behind his bike. Jet to take huskies and DC to hug a glacier. Jetting everywhere else, paid for by Carbon-chomping zillionaires. Ha ha ha. 100% greenwash.

Congratulations to Polly Vernon for showing him up as completely and utterly unsuitable for the Observer's trick accolade.

Back Room: Mix of Incompetence and Suicide Attacks?

Westmonster suggests the price of a second hand Ford Fiesta is not worth getting hung about. Back room muppetry being largely to blame for any real mistakes.

My view of the muppets in the back room is that there are at least two types:

1. Incompetent, accidental muppets, probably evenly spaced through a parliament and
2. Competent, suicide muppets, clustered to order

Iain Dale gets a hat tip.

Derek Conway: Moonlighting Cop-MP Collared

Juggling two careers is never easy and it is no wonder that something gave in Derek Conway's busy schedule as he tried to juggle his fictional life at Sun Hill police station with his job as a Conservative parliamentarian and Whip where his plot lines had stretched to the dramatic ousting of a lame duck Tory leader, known rather quietly by initials only.

The poor chap had to endure four years out of the drama of the house 1997-2001 but giving up his television work - terminally written out in a bomb blast (2002) - Derek Conway regained a few stone and a seat in 2005.

Here's what Tory HQ say about him, glossing over his thespian activities:

Derek Conway was elected MP for Old Bexley and Sidcup in 2001. Previously, he was MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham for 14 years, up to 1997.
He contested his first Parliamentary seat in 1974 and was subsequently a councillor on Gateshead Borough Council and Tyne & Wear County Council. He was active in the TA and has worked for a number of charities, including Action Research for the Crippled Child and the Cat Protection League.
He was Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Minister of State for Wales from 1988-91 and to Minister of State for Employment from 1992-93. He was subsequently Assistant government whip from 1993-94 and Government whip from 1993-97.

Born in Newcastle, he is married with 2 sons and 1 daughter.
Contact Derek
Telephone: 020 8308 0398
Postal Address: House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA.

Cat Protection League is a really nice touch Derek.

Son Freddie was lucky enough to get a student scholarship from Slush Unlimited of more than £1,000 a month - on the tax payer - although we're now hearing that he did not get his homework finished.

Mr Conway said: "It is great to get a chance to play parts on both sides of the law. As a law keeper and a parliamentary law breaker. To be honest for just the once in my life I was bang to rights nicking £45,000 from the till at work. Ten days' gardening leave looks very much like a let off.

"I was lucky the Commissioner was a great fan of my fictional character and has so kindly supported my creative writing on the old expenses front. It could have been 18 months in an open prison, nicking £45,000?, I'll say."

Boris Johnson: Capital Plaything for Pootlers?

Lib Dem Voice has a kind of wishy washy competition to decide what on earth Boris Johnson was on about in one of his columns:

I have an infallible solution. You go to XXXXXXXX. To be exact, you go to those deceptively simple whirly teacup things, and you subject the human body to the most extraordinary stresses and shears. Your teacup rotates in one direction. The teatray spins the other way.

Potential participants should be honour-bound not to google their way to the route one answer.

But there is something more to this. In the Telegraph column from which the quote is lifted Boris (right) mentions a commercial brand and its derivatives, with which he is already rather strongly linked, rather more than 20 times. Until it rather hurts. The owner of the major derivative also has at least part of Sea Life in County Hall, and the London Eye outside, and Tussauds, and all kinds of other UK and worldwide visitor and entertainment businesses.

As Buzzle suggests "You're just not sure if he’s on medication or the result of an alien abduction gone wrong."

But there is another possibility in this case. The ultimate owners - those rather nice Goldolphin stables chaps from Dubai I believe - also own great swathes of London real estate.

They may just be planning a little campaign donation? And the Buller Buffoon - already in sctuck of course for accepting inappropriate donations from disputing developers and failing to declare appropriate donations fully - may just be planning a plaything? To turn the capital into a theme park? Capital!

Appropriate Boris tribute image from Pootling, with rather too much time on their hands for their own good.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Coffee House: Fraser Fast and Loose With Stats

Fraser Nelson at the Spectator Coffee House blog likes Nick Clegg and dislikes the United Kingdom's ranking for total percentage change in the raw ratio of government spending to GDP right here. Bit of a mouthful that isn't it? The impression being given - particularly to those wanting to recieve that - is that the United Kingdom is a terrible big spender at second of 28 countries.

A pretty disingenuous table I'd say, right. UK is around 10th in the table on absolute ratio and France and Sweden and Denmark are much higher (and happier for it with more doctors and teachers etc per head etc). Germany is much the same as the UK.

As I recall UK still have less public workers than in the last years of Mrs Thatcher. Ranking by change or even rate of change of change etc are the means for the more ignoble of statisticians or their masters to give us the impression they want without necessarily reflecting more important realities.

Part of the camouflage for this statistical naughtiness is to point at James Purnell's interpretation of employment statistics. Rather than say worklessness ones that Fraser expects.

Comment is Free: Dr Rupa Huq on Suburbia

Far and away the best of the Huq oeuvre on CiF. Well done professor.

"Suburbia" is of course associated with a very distinct Betjemany, one-foot-in-the-gravey, shaun-of-the-deady, bend-it-like-Beckhamy "universal" and not with all places that are in fact sub-urban. But it's a living language of course. The term didn't use to be used much to cover council estates for example. Now it probably does cover some. Right to buy and all. If not all of them.

But there is another way, towards which some - like Ken's friend Trevor Phillips - say we may be tending in real life, in futurist literature like The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson. He has "burbs" which are by and large ethnically specific ghettoes or, to try to be a tad more positive, culturally homogenous gated communities.

Stephen Patrick Morrissey was dragged up initially in Hulme and neighbouring parts of Stretford, four almost five decades ago, when I'd say they URBAN rather than, as now, tending to SUBURBIA. Though Aidan O'Rourke, whose pages provide the line drawing-like view of New Hulme under construction, calls the old Hulme "a Victorian working class suburb".

Did Alf Garnett live in a suburb? Or in a District? Is Coronation Street in the Suburbs? Eastenders' Albert Square?

Yet in boho flight Morrissey looked west, all of a mile down the road to Bed Sit Land in the latterly socialist republic of Whalley Range, then Tory I think - which now of course has a defected Lib-Con, a Lib Dem, and a Socialist as councillors - and further west again and again. Via Timperley to Los Angeles or wherever it is.

Was he suburban when he lived in Hulme and Stretford back then? One mile from the City Centre? Yet drawn out not in? Was he suburban as he wandered among Whalley Range and Chorlton HMOs? (Which had been distinctly suburban in their better Vicwardian days and have returned or aspire to return to that) He was certainly located in suburbia in Timperley.

But does being located in suburbia make a person suburban? Or can people in fact remain or become cosmopolitan, urban, urbane wherever they happen to be?