Posts Tagged ‘Clegg’
No need to remember my radio this morning for the Test Match is over. Throughout the duration of every game Test Match Special is a must, and even those unenlightened souls who are not obsessed by cricket enjoy listening to the mixture of commentary, anecdotes, stories of cakes and occasional gaffes. Of course the greatest of the latter was Brian Johnston’s reaction to Agger’s immortal line about Ian Botham ‘ failing to get his leg over’. On Tuesday it was once again the blushing Aggers who triggered convulsions. Whilst watching pictures of Kevin Pieterson adjusting his bat handle, Aggers remarked that “It’s not easy putting a rubber on, is it Michael”. With Phil Tufnell alongside Michael Vaughan it was no surprise that once again convulsive laughter stopped play.
On the allotment we all enjoyed that. Come to think about it we’ve enjoyed much of what we’ve heard on the news recently. In fact we have decided to run a sweepstake on the number of about-turns performed by Agger’s fellow Etonian, the prime minister. I’ve drawn 8. The calculation ends on Novbember 1st and I reckon that I’m in with a chance. Of course agreeing what is or isn’t an about-turn can be difficult but we have unanimity on 5 so far.
The fifth emerged yesterday when Justice Secretary, snoozer Clarke, was forced by Number 10 to abandon a plan to give rapists, and other serious offenders, a 50% discount in return for early guilty pleas. Just weeks ago Kenneth Clarke announced that the policy was agreed but Andrew Cooper, the new PR guru in place of the departed former editor of the News of the World, advised Cameron that the Tory brand was being damaged.
Just days earlier Cameron, under pressure from Clegg, in effect dismantled Lansley’s NHS plans which now face rewriting and resubmission to parliament. A few weeks ago the Caroline Spelman plan to sell off the forests met a similar fate, as did the plans announced to make anyone unemployed for more than twelve months lose 10% of their housing benefit. And then there was Cameron’s conversion to interventionalism in foreign civll wars.
Working for this prime minister must in some ways be worse that serving under Grumpy Gordon. He used to decide everything, Cameron leaves his team to dream their dreams and to announce them. He then has private polls of public opinion carried out and, probably, reads the Rupert Murdoch line before deciding whether to step in and stop the whole shebang. You could reasonably say that he makes more screaming U-turns than a getaway driver without a satnav!
The amazing thing is that Ed Miliband seems incapable of even scoring a point as one ministerial humiliation follows another. In the House yesterday the two bickered and threw insults but one was left worrying at the thought of either of them being in charge of a town hall, let alone a country.
But there is a mounting opposition to the saga and it rests on the Conservative backbenches. Several broke cover yesterday in defence of their right wing heroes such as Clarke and Lansley. But the protests could become politically dangerous should the Conservatives begin to reap some of the blame for what is happening. Fortunately for the PM that is not likely so long as the human punchbag called Nick is happy to take the punishment.
My own view is that ‘Dave’ should carry on having his ministers dangle off the gangplank. Just three more and I could be fifty quid in pocket. Should be easy for him for practice makes perfect!
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S EGGHEADS QUIZ; 1. Its star’s John Challis (Boycie) 2. Philadelphia 3. Hilary 4. Dolly and Cissy 5. Eddie Brown’s 6. Darrin Stephens (Bewitched) 7. North Tanton 8. Paul Shane 9. Mrs Polouvicka 10. Bernard Hedges
A blustery but sunny morning as we wandered, in cynical mood, down the lane to the allotments. Cynical? Most of us are permanently cynical, this morning especially so, having just read that Clegg and Cameron had already agreed the changes to the NHS bill before the Sheffield Kid announced on yesterday’s BBC his intention to demand them. As we reached the gate, Albert remarked that expert though the pair are in the art of deception, they will need to produce something very special to explain the situation in Libya.
Almost forgotten it? Understandable, given all the things that have swept it from the headlines since we began our bombing mission there some six weeks ago. But we and the French are still bombing away. Bombing is perhaps the wrong term for we are mainly using missiles which cost a cool £850,000 per one-way trip. According to Reuters we have so far managed to kill or maim almost as many civilians as we have saved from Gaddafi’s wrath.
Shortly before the no-fly zone was imposed Barack Obama assured a bipartisan group in Congress that the action would take “days not weeks”. A week later he told the American nation the aim was limited to purely humanitarian ends. He refuted absolutely any suggestion of regime change. Two weeks later, in a joint letter signed by David Cameron and Sarkozy, he brazenly conceded that it was, after all, about regime change when he said “it is impossible to imagine a future for Libya with Gaddafi in charge”.
Perhaps that fits with the bin Laden execution. Assassination is now, apparently, the foreign policy du jour. Yesterday, the British defence secretary, Liam Fox, insisted that “Nato does not target individuals”. True, it goes for families. Just over a week ago they killed Gaddaffi’s son and three of his grandchildren. Much waving of American flags over bin Laden but on Libya the French and Brits will soon be left to bomb alone, for Libya is not a popular cause in the States and, having obtained his political pay-off from bin Laden, President Obama is poised to withdraw almost completely.
So here we are with a conflict supposed to last days, and was not about regime change, that has gone on for six weeks, cost a fortune in terms of lives and weaponry, and won’t end until the regime changes. Even as we prepare to negotiate a truce with the Taliban, Gaddafi’s offer of a ceasefire has been rejected out of hand. In the name of humanitarianism, the war must be prolonged. If need be for ever since there is stalemate on the ground.
Of course the bombing does have support to a degree from the United Nations, although many countries are now protesting that the French and British action is beyond that authorised. Many ask why not intervene also in Syria and Yemen, where many protestors are dying daily. There is no logical answer, only the one that the gung-ho French and Brits have already bitten off more than they can chew.
The only way in which they can exit without humiliation is to go in on the ground and some British ‘advisers’ are already there with the increasingly suspect ‘rebel’ forces. But it would need American troops to make up a strong enough force and that is unlikely. A prominent US senator in New Hampshire said ‘if the criteria by which we are making decisions on the deployment of US troops is to prevent genocide, then we should have 300,000 in the Congo right now, where millions have been slaughtered. We would be deploying unilaterally and occupying the Sudan. We would be staying on in Iraq”. The senator’s name was Barack Obama.
We can pontificate for ever on the Libyan ‘mission’. Unless we arrange an assassination or send in troops there will be no progress, only bloodshed. Surely we can only settle for simply imposing the no-fly zone however ineffective that may be. Right now we are edging into something that we cannot control and which cannot succeed.
The prime minister must tap in to his self-understanding. Hoodwinking Clegg is one thing, doing it to a watchful world an altogether tougher task!
THOUGHTS FOR TODAY; WRITING “ Your life story would not make a good book. Don’t even try!”…..Fran Lebowitz “Is there any living writer whose silence we would ocnsider to be a literary disaster?”……Cyril Connolly “Advice to writers; sometimes you have to stop writing. Even before you start”……..Stanislaw J Lec “Writing is the hardest way to earn a living, with the possible exception of wrestling alligators”….William Saroyan “Writing is one tenth perspiration and nine-tenths masturbation”….Alan Bennett “You, a writer? Listen, dear, you couldn’t write ‘fuck’ on a dusty Venetian blind”…….Coral Browne “There was a time when I thought my only connection with the literary world would be that I once delivered meat to T S Eliot’s mother-in-law”……Alan Bennett “Writing is not a profession, but a vocation of unhappiness”….Georges Simenon “Writing is like the oldest profession. First you do it for your own enjoyment. Then you do it for a few friends. Eventually you think, what the hell, I might as well get paid for doing it”…….Irma Kalish
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S QUIZ; 1. Francis Ford Coppola 2. Anthony Eden
TODAY’S QUESTIONS ; CAN YOU BEAT THE EGGHEADS?; 1. What kind of sculpture was originated by Alexander Calder, who died in 1976? 2. Who wrote ‘Whatever happened to Sex?’ ? 3. Asuncion is the capital of which country? 4. Which ‘Pop Idol’ star was born Jan 20 1979, in Berkshire? 5. Who had hits with ‘Take Your Time’ and ‘Got to Have Your Love’ ? 6. What is a paravane used for? 7. Dr James Naismith devised which game? 8. In which decade was Jeremy Paxman born? 9. Which worldwide magazine was conceived by DeWitt Wallace? 10.. To within two years, when were postcodes introduced to the UK?
How different life feels on days like this. The allotments are alive with sunshine, every colour is enhanced and the path that has been covered in ice and then mud is suddenly easy on the feet. Even the dandelions, which should have no place in the home of gardeners, are throwing their heads defiantly in the warm air. If only this could last for ever! Mind you there is a flip side to everything, already the water suppliers are warning of a hosepipe ban. Just months ago there were extensive floods and what I don’t understand is the failure to build more reservoirs. But then again the things that I don’t understand would fill a Cyril Smith-sized book!
And right now the Alternative Vote is right up there. We all received a leaflet from ‘call me Dave’ Cameron yesterday. It even has a picture of the Old Etonian signing autographs with his left hand. perhaps he uses the right one for official business? Either way, he is urging us to vote no on May 5th.
The Alternative Vote, says ‘Dave’, is unfair, expensive and discredited. Discredited by whom? Pass, although he does mention that only Australia and Papua New Guinea use it, so maybe Shane Warne and co no longer see it as fair dinkum. He also mentions that countmg can take days which is a real no-no for those who enjoy a tension-laden booze-up on election night. And he underlines the fact that the candidate who finishes third can win.
And that is the feature that puts me off the Clegg/Miliband dream ticket. It’s as if after the 1oo metres final in the Olympics the spectators are asked to list their favourites in a sequence one to five and eventually we are told that Mr Bolt has been displaced on the winners rostrum by Bert Brown from Croydon Harriers.
That may not make sense to you, it scarcely does to me and I wrote it. But even more puzzling to this simple soul is ‘Dave’s’ claim that supporters of such odious people as the BNP will “get their votes counted many more times than everyone else”. I think I know what he means but it is an odd way to put it.
There is of course in all this an assumption that we all have alternative choices. But is this the case? My dear old Gran was what she called ‘a red hot Liberal’ and hated any candidate that threatened gorgeous Lloyd George and his mates. I suspect there are many who on the left and right who feel much the same and would only tick a second or third choice as a means of tactical voting.
I am open to persuasion on this. Right now, first-past-the-post seems more in line with my approach to life, I certainly disagree with Albert and Jack. they refuse to vote until such time as the ballot paper offers ‘None of them’ as an option. If everyone followed that approach it wouldn’t take long to count the votes, but it sounds a bit unpatriotic to me. And in extremis it would leave the loopy bloke from Bacup who always votes and always votes for the Monster Raving Loonies running the country. On second thoughts, that might be no worse than now!
I’ve just had a final thought. Why is PR guru ’Dave’ so keen to have a no vote? Presumably because he sees disadvantage for the Tories under AV. And I don’t even understand that !
THOUGHTS FOR TODAY: FASHION; “A dress has no meaning unless it makes a man want to take it off”….Francoise Sagan “The Pope. Great guy. But in a fashion sense, he’s one hat away from being the Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan”…..Jon Stewart “Her hat looks as if it had made a forced landing on her head”…..Harriet Cobb “A hat should be taken off when you greet a lady and left off for the rest of your life. Nothing looks more stupid than a hat”….P J O’Rourke ”They should put expiration dates on clothes so we would know when they go out of style”…..Garry Shandling “Some women hold up dresses that are so ugly and they always say the same thing. ‘This looks much better on’ On what? On fire?”…..Rita Rudner “I don’t own a dress. I wear skirts but I look like a netball teacher”….Victoria Wood “you have no idea how much it costs to look this cheap”….Dolly Parton “A sweater is a garment worn by a child when his mother feels chilly”…..Nora Ephron “If the shoe fits get another just like it”…..George Carlin “Men who wear turtlenecks look like turtles”…..Doris Lily “The softer a man’s head, the louder his socks”……Helen Rowland “Some women think bikinis are immodest. Others have beautiful figures”….Olin Miller
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S QUIZ; 1. Harold Wilson 2. Margaret Thatcher
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. Who wrote books about Inspector Morse? 2. In which city was Bertolucci’s Last Tango?
Did you see the special PR launch staged by Messrs Cameron, Clegg and Lansley? It was a clear sign that the massive reaction against their plans to emasculate the NHS are beginning to register. Lnasley says that there have to be some tweaks to his plans, Clegg says there have to be huge changes, Cameron just goes on and on about how he had to rely on the excellent NHS when he most needed it. As we were seeing to the hens this morning, Albert commented that the prime minister (or PR minister as he insists on calling him) could sell snow to the Eskimos. I have to confess to being bewitched by the similarity to Tony Blair, they both tell a good tale.
But no sooner had we listened to the blather about it being wrong to “charge ahead” in response to yet more hostile reactions from the medical fraternity, than a leaked copy of a memo issued by the chief executive of the NHS, David Nicolson, blew the talk of consultation to kingdom- come. In it Mr Nicolson makes clear that there is little room for manoeuvre. It records that a “red line” exists beneath the fundamental planks of the Lansley plan and they “are not for changing”.
I imagine few are surprised to learn that the high-profile visit to Frimley Park hospital was little more than an exercise in spin, but most of us are surprised to learn that the intention is to change virtually nothing. There will be some ‘concessions’ with local Councillors given a place on the GP commissioning bodies, although how this will improve things is open to considerable debate. There is also mention of hospital doctors being included, and this makes sense for surgeons and consultants have a far more comprehensive insight into critical care than GPs.
But the central plank of the plan will survive. Lansley is hell-bent on introducing the private sector by allowing it to take over the simpler treatments. The result will be that NHS hospitals will be undermined and obliged to merge. The result of that will be fewer hospitals and greater travel distances for ambulances, patients and relatives alike.
The aspect that worries me above all others is the inevitable destruction of the cancer networks. I spend a lot of time helping the multi-discipline teams that have, in recent times, done so much to improve the quality of cancer care. Once GP consortiums (or the private companies to whom the task will be sub-contracted) take over, the service will be broken up and we will step back ten years in our levels of care. People will die and I for one will fight this to my last breath.
But all this hoo-hah is about something that the Conservatives wish to do and, to be fair, it does reflect their belief in privatisation. The likelihood is that chaos will develop for already many Primary Care Trusts have been wound up as the exodus of skilled staff accelerates. But before considering that as the protests gather momentum, we should be aware of what is happening right now.
Government claims to have maintained funding are nonsense. Efficiency-saving targets totalling £20 billion have been set. Since most large hospitals have already cut their administration to the core, that means reductions in medical staff and procedures. Many hospitals across the country have slashed the number of hip and knee operations and the waiting time has trebled. Suddenly a lot of the better-off patients are electing to ‘go private’ which, since the surgeons are the same ones, will lead to even longer NHS waits.
And other operations are no longer guaranteed. Surgeons have today published a letter warning that they are no longer able to guarantee emergency operations. The letter is signed by, amongst others, John Black, the president of the Royal College, and makes clear that emergencies are now “squeezed in at the end of the day”. There is now “relative neglect of the needs of those admitted as emergencies”.
I am not opposed to the concept of competition in many things. But what Lansley is trying to do in the health service will create a two-level service. We are told that it works well in America. It does for some, but in trying to change it Barack Obama was attempting to help those who cannot afford to pay.
I even wonder if Cameron really understands the implications. In fairness I suspect that he does not and sees his role as merely rescuing Lansley from total humiliation. But if he is able to smooth-talk the opposition away, millions will one day rue the destruction of what had become a good and comprehensive service. And it is of no use waiting for Miliband to save the NHS, by the time he is is any position to do anything it will be too late.
Next time you pass your local hospital look carefully at those open gates. Politicians on the make are already ordering the padlocks!
THOUGHTS FOR TODAY; MONEY : “I once gave a waiter a tip. I told him never to step off a moving bus”….Groucho Marx “Money makes money and the money money makes makes money”…..Benjamin Franklin “My problem is how to reconcile my net income with my gross habits”….Errol Flynn “Today you can go to a petrol station and find the cash register open and the toilets locked. They must think toilet paper is worth more than money”……Joey Bishop……..” Nothing dispels enthusiasm like a small admission charge”…..Kin Hubbard “Why is there so much month left at the end of the money?”…..John Barrymore “The difference between outlaws and in-laws is taht the outlaws never promise to pay it back”…..Kin Huddard “It doesn’t matter whether you are rich or poor so long as you have money”…….Max Miller
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S QUIZ; 1. Liverpool 2. Madame Tussauds
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. Which major engineering project was completed by Egypt in 1970? 2. Which ancient disease was worldwide in the early 70s, especially in Africa and India?
Not quite so warm today as we cleaned out the chicken coops but everyone seemed in high spirits. ‘Calamity’ Clegg does much to raise spirits here as his clangers follow in quick succession. Yesterday saw yet another. When challenged about the cuts to pensioner’s fuel allowances he replied that it was just another scare story dreamed up by Ed Balls. Clearly Kenneth Clarke was not the only coalition minister asleep during the Chancellors oration! But it has to said in the Lib Dem leader’s defence that he makes us laugh and we should perhaps be grateful for small mercies.
Laughter is becoming a rare feature of our community where the cuts are beginning to bite. Some of our libraries face the axe, the number of beat bobbies is to be halved, a number of centres for the severely disabled are to close. In fact no part of our daily lives will be untouched by the severest cuts ever experienced. No doubt the politicians will reply that times are hard and every penny counts. And they would be lying through their teeth!
Hidden away in the Budget are statistics capable of sending even the mildest amongst us into a rage. Our annual contribution to the European Union is set to soar to £9 billion by 2015 and we face an almost immediate rise of 17 per cent. In the past year our contribution rose from £4.7 billion to £7.6 billion and it is planned to rise again sharply this year. And that is far from the total bill, the near certainty is that we will have to follow up our massive payments to bail-out Ireland with bail-out contributions to Greece and Portugal.
Tory bankbencher Bill Cash yesterday said that the expenditure is “totally unnecessary” and added “I’m utterly opposed to the EU enlargement process”. Fellow Tory MP Douglas Carswell described the figures, and the latest news of payments for pros[ective new members Croatia, as “absolutely shocking”. He went on to complain that “this week we are cutting public services in my constituency while planning a huge payout to Croatia”. This shows, Mr Carswell said, that it is high time we had an ‘in or out’ referendum on EU membership. ” The EU project is a debt union and whatever the politicians promise, Britian seems to keep on paying”, he added.
Matthew Sinclair, director of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, was also in a rage. He described our contributions as ” extrememly worrying”. He added; “A combination of the grandiouse ambitions of European politicians and the needs of new member states are set to make EU membership a worse and worse deal for British taxpayers. If Eurocrats won’t embrace the austerity measures that people here have had to, the government should refuse to finance that and not just accept Brussels’ demands for more and more money”.
It really is extraordinary that at a time when so many are facing extreme hardship in this country we are still pouring money in to the EU. Slowly but surely we are being bled dry by the Brussels machine. Bailout follows bailout, subscriptions continue to rocket, regulation after regulation encircles us. To say all this is not be be anti-European but simply to recognise that the more we pay out the greater the domestic cuts will have to be.
In fairness to David Cameron it was the concessions made by the Blair government that landed us in this horrific situation, and it is his need to placate Calamity Clegg that prevents him even considering a referendum. The irony is that we are to have a pointless one about a tweak to our voting system but are not prepared to consult the public on a far more important issue.
In defiance of the views of member-states the EU parliamentarians have just voted themselves another huge increase and hardly a day passes but we read of chauffered limos, massives expenses for which no receipts are required, and perks the like of which would have our Westminster crowd on the front page of every newspaper. It surely has to stop and if it doesn’t we should be heading for the exit.
Despite what the right-wing press says this morning not everyone marching in London is a left-wing militant. Coachloads of people who have never demonstrated before are on the road. They are demanding that the rate of cuts be slowed down. They should also be demanding that our ever escalating payments to the money-grabbing Brussels empire-builders be cut too!
THOUGHTS FOR TODAY; SPORT “I never comment on referees and I’m not going to break the habit of a lifetime for that prat”…..Ron Atkinson “The entiure contents of the Manchester City trophy room have been stolen. The police are looking for a man carrying a light blue carpet ” …….Bernard Manning “If that had gone in it would have been a goal”….David Coleman “You’d think if any country could put up a decent wall, it would be China”….Terry Venables “The first time I went skiing I wasn’t very good, and broke a leg. Luckily, it wasn’t one of mine”…..Michael Green “The manager has a fresh pair of legs up his sleeve”……John Creig “Games are the last resort of those who do not know how to be idle”….Robert Lynd “The English football team – brilliant on paper, shit on grass”…..Arthur Smith ” The Premier League is a multi-million industry with the aroma of a blocked toilet and the principles of a knocking shop”……Michael Parkinson “I never make predictions and I never will”….Paul Gascoigne “I went to a fight the other night and an ice hockey game broke out”……Rodney Dangerfield “For me the worst part of playing golf has always been hitting the ball”…..Dave Barry
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S QUIZ; 1. A rocket 2. They died durinbg the return to Earth when the cabin pressure failed
TODAY’S QUESTIONS 1. How many pennies made up a shilling in Britain’s pre-decimal currency? 2. What was a shilling worth in new pence after decimalisation?