Saturday, April 12, 2008

Political Betting: Gordon Brown, London Mayoralty

Political Betting carries a discussion on Gordon Brown's survival chances based on some trite twaddle from Brown-hater Matthew Parris. More interesting perhaps is a kerfuffle in the betting market over a possible new ipsos-MORI poll in the Observer tomorrow.

Political betting have lauded YouGov as the pollsters to watch. I'm not aware of the methodology ipsos-MORI will have used for this poll vs the most recent Unison-sponsored one. Or even whether it is a distinct poll rather than part of one of their standard Omnibus or Public Affairs Monitor surveys. We may find out tomorrow. Mike Smithson's flutter report indicates it may favour Johnson, though he has been getting out of Johnson positions himself (see YouGov link).

UPDATE: In fact the actual ipsos MORI poll is not bad at all for Ken.

Westmonster: See Way Up There, Those Are Standards

Over at Westmonster doctor's are absolutely apostrophied. Not just in the headline. They're addicted. Like greengrocer's.

"Objections ... has" too. And the "Dali" Lama is that any relation to the Pushme-Pullme from Dr Doolittle? Bring back Sadie! Ah, here she is after all. Well worth a gander. Link soon.

As sausage reviewers go Tom Watson has the visage and the stature of a man who might be trusted on the matter. No signs of malnourishment there as my vet once commented on a solid feline.

Meanwhile Vince Cable is still a very silly sausage.

Where on earth did the good doctor get the squaddie wages figures he has been spouting as they are completely and utterly wrong.

Strangely commenters at LDV are trying to change the subject on that one. Don't panic, don't panic. Graphic:

Lib Dems: Sleep Walking to Control in Wareham Town?

Lib Dem Voice report a Council changing hands in very unusual circumstances. By two, count 'em, walkovers in by-elections for Wareham Town Council. Has a council ever changed hands before by walkover?

UPDATE: This was a Tory held seat, and an Independent (Tory-ish) seat. Tories did not put up candidates where they ought I suppose to have WON. Which makes his complaint about Labour not putting up whipping boys or girls to LOSE in the NW rather strange. MORE UPDATE: Iain's example is a weedy Parish Council.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Don't Panic, Don't Panic: Where Is Cable's Figure From?

Where on earth does Vince Cable (right with a pre-pubescent Clogg) of the Lib Dems get his army wages figures from?

There are only two categories of squaddies who get less than the figure he quoted. These are University Cadet entrants at levels one and two, who are I think in effect students with their hols and weekends mapped out for them, and new other ranks entrants in assessment.

The Private at Level Three which Dr Cable quoted is paid either £18,657.72 (higher rate) or £16, 544.64 (lower rate). Level One Privates are all paid £15,677.04 and barring their assessment and initial training this is what they're all on as a bare minimum.

Where does Cable's £14,349.00 come from? And the figure of 66,000 being at or below that pay? Our figures are from the British Army pay scales for the year to 31 March 2008 as shared HERE. So there's even been a pay rise. VC - shame on you!

Heads It's Ringo: Liverpool Confidential Offer Reward

Liverpool Confidential have nicked the old "privet parts" joke and offered a reward for return of Ringo's head.

The ornate topiary that is. Not the mop-topped tub biffa.

No-one in Liverpool cares if they never see him again. If only he'd taken Fireman Bradley and Tall Storey with him.

Al-Yamamah Deal: Gordon Brown Should Stand Firm

Military procurement expert Iain Dale has set up a false dichotomy in this extraordinarily naive post on BAe Systems and the Sauds.

Interestingly Malcolm Rifkind was on Channel 4 News last night and pretty much backed all the relevant decisions. It is hard to escape the following conclusions:

1. Tories in power would have done exactly the same as Blair did, and will do so if they ever get back into power;

2. The Public Interest rationale is NOT properly understood by the more up their own arse and political elements of the judiciary and actually allows governments to do things that are unlawful - makes them lawful I suppose - if there are good enough reasons;

3. We all know that Saudis have had commissions, kick backs, introduction fees, marketing payments, consultancy, bribes etc. From French, USA, Swiss, Brits, whoever wants to trade there. We don't need to spend millions to confirm that;

4. We all know that this is usual practice in various world markets for arms, for oil and even for sports centres (it's a long story that one);

5. Tories in government would have done the same. Their commentati should grow up. Particularly boy bloggers. Brown should say no. Cameron should back him up. Leave the Lib Dems voting against jobs and pragmatic if dirty realism;

It is not a case of knife Tory Blair OR lose the order as Mr Dale seems to suppose in a woefully false and naive dichotomy. It is an AND. Knife AND lose. So don't knife Tory Blair, don't lose order seems the correct response here.

I say this even as a long term supporter of CAAT who would clearly prefer there to be far less weapons in the world and far less arse kickinglicking with Sauds.

There are some good comments back at Iain's including one from Richard Dale who says this:

I know someone deeply involved in the investigation. Despite his being a lawyer I would trust his judgement (he is a very good and, unusually, a very honest lawyer) and more importantly it was in his interest for the case to continue, as he was being paid by the hour.

He says that the decision was entirely correct. While there was plenty of evidence of payments that went against British morals, none of them were actually illegal at the time they were made. Despite what a lot of lefties try (including or government) laws should not and generally are not made retrospective.

Libdemologists: 66,000, Yet Another Gross Exaggeration

While I've no doubt that Vince Cable, quoted by Lib Dem Voice is correct that some military personnel lose on the 10p tax farrago, I've also no doubt that the figures proffered are exaggerated shamelessly by the meister fibbers.

Vince says "up to 66,000". This is surely a knowing gross over-statement of any £90 per annum tax losers in the military, relying on ALL entry ranks e.g. Privates being on or below a certain grade and its starting point.

The claim also does not account for benefit changes which affect a goodly proportion of any losers. Hardly any serviceperson is on any starting pay point at any one time.

I would totally agree with anyone - such as Yorksher Gob Jennie (Lib Dem) - who suggests simplifying so there should be no need to claim benefits to get the ahem benefit of the system(s). One of her commenters bemoans the fact that even members (like Jennie) don't know that this is LD tax policy.

That is probably because LD tax Policy is irrelevant to the debate. LD's can say absolutely anything on national matters because this will never but never be costed properly, and will never be tested in real life. Reality for a third party franchise.

The military are workers in uniform. They are not tremendously well paid. But the quoted pay point of £14,300 actually compares favourably to many starting pays (even maximum pays) out there in the real world of C1C2Ds; and in truth most service people are on considerably more than this in cash terms and also have other benefits such as accommodation, food, sports and social, and vocational training that many in our estates can only dream of.

Gross fibbing with numbers is a trait that should be resisted by all of us and in which Lib Dems appear to specialise. Under the old Effective Opposition "shameless exaggeration" mantra.

Can Lib Dem Voice or Vince Cable now, urgently, unpack the 66,000 figure and provide the correct figure? Preferably with an apology for the knowing exaggeration? I’d be surprised if this 66,000 figure is not at least a ten fold exaggeration, particularly accounting for benefits (both state and work-related), pay settlements, and change in allowances.

I hope there is a sensible settlement for those who have lost on the banishment of the 10p rate. But this ain’t helping.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

City of Horti-Culture: Ringo's Privet Parts Removed, Again

There's no beating about the bush from Dr Rupa Huq HERE but this has not been the case in Liverpool this week. Ringo, who rooked a substantial five-figure sum from the CoC for his miserable plodding exile song, has had his privet parts unceremoniously removed HERE.

London: GuF Backs Johnson on the Old Bull and Bush

Mr GuF supports the Conservative mayoral candidate's policy on an amnesty for illegal immigrants. David Cameron does not.

The bigger problem with the policy of course is that the Mayor of London has no agency on Home Office policy in these matters. It's just bullshit from bullshit central. Showing the folly of feeding cocaine and skunk weed to psychologically susceptible Old Etonians in their formative years.

Which in Boris' case may well be ongoing. Below right on a recent "red nose day".

And what on earth was he on when he last appeared on Newsnight? Where were the bog police from The Evening Standard to expose his afflictions?

Hilariously testing the tops of cisterns in bogs where they themselves - guttersnipes one and all - were allowed to go. Ho ho ho. The Manchester Evening News used similar testing kits and ran a front page scoop: Cocaine: The Hidden Epidemic. They didn't find much. Except in their own loos, in hospital loos, and in police loos.

Manchester Confidential had us snorting in the aisles as they quite righty voted that the worst story of 2007. Not as bad as the Standard's perhaps. But bad.

So Weak: Spectator Coffee House/Dale Continue Smears

The Spectator's Coffee House blog ran a wafer thin smear on Ken. Suggesting something or other about his campaign's financial supporters I suppose. And using a single anecdote from 2004 to make their point and some utterance on TV.

Newsnight's debate was a zoo. Largely thanks to Boris's boorish interrupting, showboating, twittering. Like one of the less engaging characters from Postcards From the Edge. And this a man who has set up a donate by text system that could conceivably launder huge amounts of secret donations.

It may be that this year Ken has a system to shield him from immediate knowledge of his donors. But clearly that cannot last very long as they become public knowledge as they are declared.

The Coffee House post implies he is aware of all his donors now when in general that may be untrue. And it relies on these 2004 anecdotes. So weak. Have they not got anything about Johnson and Paddick donors to give the impression that they have the sort of balance and fairness expected of proper journalists?

Meanwhile Mr Dale gets on his high horse, again. This time over possibly free travel in london for the poorest of the poor.

Seems to me the idea of free travel for refugees and asylum seekers and I suppose some form of registered "subject to detention" people who are in appeal processes - and indeed job seekers and ultra poor - is not a bad one.

Though I would have thought Iain's emotive term "Illegal Immigrants" would not actually be a factual description of those most likely to take this up.

Such a scheme would actually save the Home Office and others from subbing the travel at full cost too, and also people missing signing appointments etc because they don't have £4 for a tube or £2 for a bus or whatever.

If there is no way to do this with recourse to UK public funds then finding some way to have it sponsored or funded commercially seems like a very reasonable and creative work round.

Seems ridiculous to me that those seeking work don't get any sort of concession on most public transport. Ridiculous in fact. JSA is not enough to fund anyone to "get on their bike and look for work".

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

So Weak: When Is A U Turn Not a U Turn?

Iain Dale's Diary quoth "An Olympic Sized U Turn From Gordon Brown". But actually it's not a turn of any sort. So weak.

So Weak: Torygraph Scribblers Are Not Fit For Purpose

Farmer Dale draws our attention to a Muslim hypothetical. This is that - in theory - there is a justification for strict Muslims who have been convicted and imprisoned for sex crimes not taking part in group therapy.

This is presumably because unidentified verses of the Quran and/or ahadith thereon state that Muslims should not discuss such crimes in front of others. Presumably also should not commit such crimes in the first place?

The downside of this - in theory - for the incarcerated is that prisoners of any background, religion, temperament, shyness, health etc opting out of such sessions may - in theory - delay their release as the risk of releasing them is held to be less easy to assess.

The downside of this - in theory - for the service is that in the fullness of time an oxymoronic but devout Muslim sex offender may take the service to task and claim discrimination on grounds of religion.

Iain's post - which ought perhaps to be calling for castration for hair-trigger bloggers and scribblers instead of drawing sweeping comparisons with alleged laws and practices in Teheran - is problematic as is the original Telegraph story HERE. That's because neither one nor the other quantifies the problem or even states whether it is a real issue rather than a complete, and by the time Iain posts his spin on it hysterical, hypothetical.

Because of this glaring omission it would not have made it into the hallowed pages of student papers I worked on 30 years ago. Editors would have simply said "This doesn't stand up Dale, this doesn't stand up Farmer*, it's not going in my paper." So how has this got onto "Britain's leading political blog" or a desperately sliding right wing "quality" broadsheet?

As things stand - whether or not there is a real problem or not - this story is not at a level of readiness for responsible publication. It is more like something Nick Griffin would insert into a likely-to-be-banned party political broadcast or a filthy fascist pamphlet.

* Pure coincidence. The Torygraph scribbler and dog whistler's name is Farmer.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Olympic Torch: IOC Rogge Considers Torch Surrender?

AOL are reporting trouble in San Fransisco over a SIX MILE torch relay. Including a bridge protest, an athlete dropping out, and the IOC itself considering calling the whole thing off. Not the Games, just the International portion of the relay.

Think it through guys. That wouldn't really help. The point of the protests in the free world is not (generally speaking) to stop the Games. It is to stop torch relays through Tibet and other contested areas. Let the relays and the protests continue here. If the IOC is to intervene let it be to withdraw permission for Tibet.

Meanwhile French athletes are proposing to wear badges "For A Better World".

London: Paddick Bird Brains Contrarily Flirting Torywards

Lib Dem Voice are carrying an exciting discussion triggered by the analysis of
Sunder Katwala, general secretary of the Fabian Society at Comment is Free. Hat tip: Farmer Dale.

Lib Demmer Jennie aka The Yorksher Gob offers this observation:

As for the current poll … Well, I don’t live in London, but Vote Match matched me with Ken then Sian then Boris THEN Brian, so …

I would advise other Lib Dem activists to try this before choosing Brian and Boris ahead of Ken which - according to the LDV poll is slightly more likely at the moment. Which worries me. Even given my low opinion of the "principles" and "politics" of a good few Lib Dems.

SPOILER ALERT: My own results can be enlarged from the graphic on the right. But do your own first if you don't want any danger of creating an almighty self fulfilling prophesy. My one and a half disagreements with Ken are over airports and I suspect that his own view on at least the overall capacity required by the Capital is more nuanced than this answer suggests. In fact Gilligan tried to smear him on that among other Gilliganesque fantasy constructs and aberrations in yesterday's Daily Smearken "True or False?".

Hilarious Torch Relay: French Did Not Snuff the Flame

You will be glad to hear that those cheese-eating surrender monkeys DID NOT, repeat DID NOT allow the Beijing Olympic Flame to be forcibly extinguished. Not even once, never mind the four times put about by the decadent western running dog lackeys of capitalism.

It's simply not true. And that's official!

If you find any "mistakes" on the official web coverage from Beijing you can report them here. CP-LOL - with all its politically dangerous and decadent coverage - is sadly BANNED BY THE STATE in China, a fact bringing congratulations from brave and resourceful souls within that jurisdiction.

Monday, April 07, 2008

South Ealing Minicabbie: Pops Up on Newsnight

LONDON: How strange. Having completed almost the full list of Do-It-Myself tasks at Dr Huq's bijou des res in Ealing South I request my host to rustle up a local driver to get me to Euston on time.

In fact we drive down to the rank at "Olympic Cars" and the nominated driver - BP-rally-trained - climbs into Rupa's own battered car to speed us both to the terminus.

We arrive with fifteen minutes to spare following top navigation and extraordinary defensive driving. All the while some wild talk of SUN "paps" and a strange sibling-esque rivalry was working itself out between driver and host.


MANCHESTER: Very odd later to spot what looked like the very same mini-cabbie (left) on the television. Being interviewed in a Newsnight investigation into the Blue Men who were riding shotgun (or shotokan?) on the Olympic Torch.

Apparently Dr Huq's chosen cabbie had also been one of the Londoners who got to jog with that very torch aloft, had been jostled by a scampy protestor (BBC, YouTube, yet knew nothing much (that Newsnight interview) about the provenance of the "blue men".

LOL has a new proposal: Are these boys in blue actually a preview of a Boris Johnson police state bicycle thief snatch squad?


Looks like China is scoring own goal after own goal with this Greek Torch. Sportifs, celebs and even Ealing cabbies have conspired with the Chinese government to make their country a bit of a laughing stock.

The original Blue Men (above) were a radical theatre troupe from New York - as seen at PS122, and the Green room in Manchester - but they were (a) very good indeed and (b) "sold out" beautifully when the top dollar offers came in.

I'm not sure the Blue Men of the torch will achieve such greatness with their sticky fingers (this not this) and kung fu (this not this) fighting displays alongside their charge.

Please do try to remember that this torch is an Olympic Torch with some fine connotations. This is not an Imperial Chinese Torch of horrors. And try to recall what happened to the USSR/CCCP not so long after they hosted the thing.

Basically Russia lost their whole empire within a decade.

Remember too some of the more unfortunate activities of Imperial Britain in 1908 and 1948, never mind the USA in their various years as Olympic Hosts.


China are making a right Horlicks of the whole thing. Like The Great Dictator, but on a tour of self-imposed slapstick schtick.

Relying really on host countries doing heavy police. Adding a further layer of "fast as lightning" mysterious kung fu boxers and thuggies. And naturally meeting protest upon protest. Perfect ... if the aim is to debunk your own reputation worldwide.

They could hardly do more to disgrace themselves. It is our duty to provide them with a stage on which to do this. Judas was necessary for "Cheeses" (see comment from "JuanKerr") to get his and save us all. The same applies here. But with no fault whatsoever for the co-conspirators, most of whom are taking the chance to empathise with the protestors and criticise Mother China.

New Maoist New China: Have begun to let on that there are actually protests. Contrary to various reports that they are suppressing that. Screen grab below.

UPDATE 10:12 AM TUES: YouTube comment from Chinaupup (who is roundly smeared and insulted at that user page) :

Stop western media distortion, stop western style violence and stop attacking the peaceful olympic torch,stop lousy political act,this series of violent protests and riots make us clear who are destroying our chinese peaceful hope and olympic spirit. Now you western let us know your the false faces and we'll remember them from you forever.We chinese will never forget what you have done to all chinese. such as:distortion,attack,historical trespass,arrogant behavior and violience.

Is this is what Paul Mason would call a Zhongnanologist or the opposite? Being "China Up Up" or "China U Pup".

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Lamb in Wolves Clothing: Tory Garden Poster Onslaught

Back in Manchester yesterday by the way spotted a Tory garden poster, and a cult of personality window poster, in a decidely non-Tory area. Unable to resist I knocked on, invited myself in, slipped my shoes off, and attempted re-education. I needn't have worried. 100% red socialist Labourite household displaying posters in some sort of horrific favour for a bare acquaintance.

One of the daughters of the house confided that the household were berating mum for this faux pass - and having to pass the ugly mug blueness every day - but alas it was a question of "There's no harm in it" and "We'll all vote Labour as usual." The kind of word of mouth we can only dream of. Good news for Amina and bad news for Cllr "Buzz" Bhatti, the plane spotter and police complainant (retd.).

London Frontline: Is There A Mayoral Election Going On?

Here is Ealing Southall there is almost NO SIGN of the close and tense mayoral election being protrayed on the blogs and inky and multi- media. Almost 24 hours wandering and a total of ONE window poster spotted, for Ken natch, and even the landmark SECC building (South Ealing Conservative and "Unionist" Club I believe) has narry a mention of the Bozmeister around its hallowed portals.

Worse still the hospitable blogger who has welcomed me to theirs has NO INTERNET in their home.


UPDATE: Tuesday 14:34, In fact a total of FOUR posters were spotted in the area. Three Kens and one Green with "Ken for Mayor" added prominently.