Posts Tagged ‘Clegg’
On such a beautiful morning it is hard to understand depression. But our allotment gang has come to understand the insidious condition well since one of our members has fallen victim to the dark night of the soul. Of course we all get low from time to time, but we have learned that ‘black-dog’ in its worst form is different. Sometimes it can be due to chemical imbalance, sometimes the result of battling on through nervous exhaustion. But it is not, as Geoffrey Boycott yesterday inferred when talking about the departure of Michael Yardy from the cricket World Cup, simply proof that the victim is ‘not good enough’. For heavens sake, we thought that this type of ignorance had long gone. What victims need above all else is an acceptence on the part of their family and friends that depression is simply an illness and no more deserves stupid stigmatisation than cancer or any other condition. The very fact that we openly discuss the problem in an everyday setting has helped our pal enormously. He now wears a cap emblazoned ‘Stuff Depression’, a sure sign that his old humour is returning.
If it hadn’t been for Boycott’s stupidity we would all have been tickled by the latest Clegg fiasco. Around the Commons he carries the nickname ‘Calamity’ and it is not hard to understand why. Yesterday he forgot to switch off his mic and was heard to tell Cameron that “if we keep doing this, we won’t find anything to bloody disagree about on in the bloody TV debates”. It summed up perfectly the hole into which he has dug himself and his party. Clegg does not appear to be a man blessed with an excess of self understanding and he has never come to terms with the concept of a coalition of differing views, preferring instead to simply support Cameron in whatever lunacy (viewed from a Lib Dem viewpoint) he may be engaged. Indeed Labour has already signalled that it will not enter a debate with both Clegg and Cameron since they are in effect one party.
All this is happening against a background of a collapsing economy and draconian cuts. Yesterday I heard of a respite service for severely disabled children being axed for want of £8000. Undoubtedly every community in the land has similar tales to tell whilst they read of our now facing a further massive payout to bankroll Portugal. The polls suggest that the effect is poliarisation. Those who voted Lib Dem now see them as irrelevant and are pondering the best alternative.
Without doubt some will return to their Tory roots. But will Labour gather in the major benefit? Many Lib Dem voters were people dissilusioned with the ‘New’ added to Labour’s brand by Blair. They were unable to detect any real difference between the traditional persecutors and defenders of the poor and vulnerable. To win them over Ed Miliband has to move to the left to disassociate himself from the City crowd. But if he moves too far the possibility is that he will find himself lined up beside the dinosaurs that still inhabit parts of the trades union movement. Indeed, even tomorrow when he attends the London protests he would be well advised to sit clear of the more extreme. People are in distress but they want fairness not revolution.
Over the past few weeks Miliband has certainly won over many in the House. He outdid Cameron in prime minister’s questions on the subject of the NHS, was sustained in his response to Libya, and wasn’t upturned in his response to the Budget on Wednesday. Cameron is now finding it harder to bully him or to rattle via personalised attacks.
But he has some way to go before he is perceived by the public as the people’s champion. Some say that he is too honest for his own good. That may be a handicap in the world of spin but he has stuck to his guns by sticking to his description of the “squeezed middle”, which all the presentation experts advised him against. Clearly he believes in it and shows all the signs of growing into the first senior politician of principle that we have seen for very long time.
The May elections will give a better indication of just who are the inheritors of Clegg’s blown opportunity. You could safely bet your mortgage on the death of the Lib Dems who are now seen as Conservatives. The worry is that their death may lead to inheritors such as Ukip and the BNP or, more likely, turnouts at a new low.
One thing is sure. If by any chance a new coalition is called for come the next general election, Ed Miliband will treat Nick Clegg with even more caution than the born-again Union barons!
THOUGHTS FOR TODAY; COUNTRIES “I find it hard to offer an opinion on New Zealand because when I was there it seemed to be shut”……Clement Freud “New Zealand is a country of thirty thousand sheep, three million of whom think they’re human”…..Barry Humphries “The way I understand it the Russians are a sort of combination of incompetence and evil – sort of like the Post Office with tanks”……Emo Philips “A Scotsman is a man who, before sending his pyjamas to the laundry, stuffs a sock in each pocket”…..Ambrose Bierce “In Britain, a dog is for Christmas. In Korea, it could be for breakfast, dinner or lunch”…..Anon “Wales is a country where Sunday starts early, and lasts several years”…..Peg Bracken “The Welsh are always so pleased with themselves. I’ve never taken to them. What are they for ?”….Anne Robinson “Sweden is where they commit suicide and the King rides a bicycle”….Alan Bennett ”India; done the elephants, done the poverty”….Phil Tufnell “What I look forward to most on returning from India is a dry fart”….Phil Edmunds “The Irish are a race of people who don’t know what they want and are prepared to fight to the death to get it”……Sidney Littlewood. “There’ll always be an England, even if it’s in Hollywood”….Bob Hope “Boasting about modesty is typical of the English”….George Bernard Shaw “An Englishman’s ultimate ambition is to get a railway compartment to himself” …..Ian Hay “If I were God and were trying to create a nation that woulkd get up the nostril of the Englishman, I would create the French”….Julian Barnes
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S QUIZ; 1. Two 2. Astronomy
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. What was ‘Blue Streak’ on which Britain stopped work in the 70s; a jet fighter, a rocket or a superfast car? 2.What happened to the three-man crew of the 1971 ‘Soyuz’ 11′ flight?
We were making a door for the new hen-run when Billy asked if we had seen the byelection result from Barnsley. We hadn’t due to the fact that all of the coalition-supporting papers had conveniently forgotten to mention it. But his Guardian had squeezed it in on page 9. Small wonder that the headline included the word humiliated for the Lib Dems came rank bottom in a field of six. Labour held the seat with a 13.53% increase and their candidate (Dan Jarvis) was trailed by Ukip, Conservative, BNP, Independent candidate, with Mr Clegg’s party, which came second in the general election, bottom with a paltry 1,012 votes. And this despite their fielding an excellent candidate who is the son of the celebrated barrister George Carmen.
Sadly the party that promised to change the face of British politics has lost the respect of most of those that supported it. It has committed the cardinal sin of demonstrating a total lack of integrity. Most fair minded observers saw their entry into a coalition as reasonable but no one expected them to simply rollover and abandon every commitment they made. Clegg’s behaviour over tuition fees needs no reminder, but there has been a succession of other issues where they have shown feet of clay and a Conservative Party, which was not elected to govern, has been able to pursue arguably the most right-wing agenda for decades.
And today we have yet another example. Vince Cable had let it be known that he was determined to fight to the death the News Corporation’s proposed takeover of BSkyB, a plan that will create the largest private media company Britain has ever seen. News Corp is expected to have a turover of over £9billion by the time of the next election, that will be almost double of that of the BBC whose licence fee has been frozen by Jeremy Hunt, the minister who has surprised no one by deciding not to refer the bid for further examination.
Once Cable had been removed from the responsibility by Cameron it was always clear that Rupert Murdoch had won. The behaviour of Conservative ministers has been breathtakingly improper, and I am not referring merely to the Christmas visit that the Camerons paid to James Murdoch. Columnist John Crace probably sums up the natiuonal mood of cynicism today when he composes a mock conversation between Cameron and Hunt. Hunt tells the prime minister ” After a lot of thought, I’ve decided that if News Corp pretends to hive off Sky News then it can do what the hell it likes”. Cameron replies “Good show! I’ll tell James Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks when Sam and I go round for dinner tonight”.
What has this to do with Lib Dem integrity. A lot. Just weeks after Cable had made clear that the party would “wage war” on this, the Lib Dem spokesman on media policy, Don Foster, was quick to declare support for the Murdoch deal. And from Uncle Vince not a word and no resignation as a minister.
Perhaps I am missing something here but I find it hard to understand even one thousnad voting for what has become a rabble prepared to pay any price just to share the trappings of power. Few will blame Cameron for doing what a Conservative government with a large majority would be expected to do, even if his judgement does seem to be all over the place. But he has no large majority, he simply has a large number of Lib Dem MPs as voting fodder and no willingness to stand up for what they supposedly believe in.
If what happened in Barnsley yeaterday doesn’t sound alarm bells ringing nothing will. These are early days but one poll predicting the wipe out of every single Lib Dem candidate at the next election doesn’t sound too far-fetched!
THOUGHTS FOR TODAY; “ Obama has attacked Cameron for advocating a no-fly zone. Unfair, because what Cameron meant was he wants to rid Libya of all flies”…John Crace “Did you hear about the woman who stabbed her husband 37 times? I admire her restraint”…..Roseanne “I’m all for bringing back the birch, but only between consenting adults”…..Gore Vidal “John Prescott has the face of a man who clubs baby seals to death”…Denis Healey “Tony Blair is only Bill Clinton with his zip done up”….Neil Hamilton “Tony Blair has as much charisma as a pair of dentures grinning in a glass of water”….Trevor Bayliss “As God once said, and I think rightly…”….Margaret Thatcher “I wish my flat was filled by one big man in his blue underpants”…Edwina Currie on John Major “At least it wasn’t Ann Widdecombe”….Pat Dessoy, John Major’s sister “To say nothing, especially when speaking, is half the art of diplomacy”……Will Dufant “Success means having to worry about every damn thing in the world, except money”….Johnny Cash
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S QUIZ; 1. Join the European Community 2. China
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. Which USA President’s wife was named Thelma Catharine Ryan? 2. What was Saigon renamed in 1975?
Suddenly the sun is flooding the allotments with new hope, not to mention a little warmth. Here comes the Spring? Sadly not for Eno, our adopted weather lady, tells us that high winds and rain return tomorrow. But we did some digging whilst the opportunity presented itself. And we witnessed a remarkable incident. Albert drew his fork from the sodden ground to find a frog impaled on it. My pal was horrified for whilst he has little affection for most people, he has it in abundance for wild life. And this frog was mighty wild, as you would be if some old geezer rammed a fork into you. Without having the faintest idea as to the correct procedure we eased the flailing creature from the fork whereupon it hopped away at high speed. Did the prongs miss vital organs or aren’t there any? All I know is that our forked friend was last seen sitting on a stone and, presumably, croaking dreadful curses in Albert’s direction.
And presumably most charities and voluntary groups across the country are also cursing. As each day passes we learn of more such bodies being forced to close down as their already meagre funding is withdrawn. It is noticeable that it is only after sentence has been passed that the leading lights speak out. The reason for the silence of those still hoping for funding is clear. This government is forcing a conspiracy of silence, offer one word of criticism and expect to be hammered.
Yesterday Jonathon Porritt, someone well beyond the vengeful claws of the executioners, did speak out and the odds are that many a silent charity chief applauded silently. Porritt hit the nail on the head when he said that “the idea of a big society without the public purse is an outrageous lie, an impossibility. Many are being manipulated to play a part in this scam”. I am sure that right now the chief marksman, Clegg, is racking his brains to find a way to punish Porritt.
His sackings are usually easier. Yesterday the coalition announced the sacking of David Richards, Professor of mental health services research at Exeter University. He is suddenly no longer an independent adviser to the Department of Health’s improving access to psychological therapies programme, a position he has held with distinction for the past two years. And what did he do to attract the Clegg axe? He exposed the fact that the Deputy Prime Minister lied to the public.
Last week saw Clegg making great play of a new initiative to improve access to modern psychological therapies for people suffering from anxiety and depression. He went on to claim that £400 million was being made available to increase the number of therapists across the country, something the Professor has tirelessly advocated. Clegg implied that this was new money and a true indication of the coalition’s desire to help change the ‘Cinderella’ image of mental health medicine.
When Professor Richards found out that the money had to be taken from other mental health services he erupted. In a public statement he said yesterday that “we were very disturbed when we discovered this deception”. He went on to say that “I personally feel very aggrieved that mental health is being used by this government to shore up its very poor opinion poll ratings and I don’t want to be part of it”.
Richards demanded explanations but all he received was dismissal. Cross Clegg and exit is the scene at the top. The Professor has made clear that no explanations were forthcoming and said that this is not mere detail but a “matter of great import to people trapped in a cycle of untreated misery and fear”.
It is of course an outrage, but it is also a tragedy for people who had drawn comfort from David Richard’s plan to establish a highly trained group of around 1500 psychological wellbeing practitioners who could have made such a differnec to lives endured in darkness.
Such handling of anyone who dares to question or disagree is now regular practice. But this particular incident tells us something else. The repeated claims that NHS funding is protected are a lie, a sham.
So it’s no knighthood for the good Professor. More importantly, it’s no hope for those millions suffering from mental health problems, arguably the worst affliction of them all. And it is another warning to anyone that dares to differ with the coalition. The Big Society is beginning to look like the Big Brother one!
THOUGHTS FOR TODAY; ” A woman’s rule of thumb; if it has tyres or testicles, you’re going to have trouble with it”….Rita Rudner “The difference between a man and a battery is that a battery has a positive side”….Jo Brand “Can you imagine a world without men? No crime and lots of happy, fat women”…..Nicole Hollander “A man is designed to walk three miles in the rain to phone for help when the car breaks down, and a woman is designed to say “You took your time” when he comes back dripping wet”….Victoria Wood “They claim to be he-men but the combined hair from their chests wouldn’t have made a wig for a grape”….Robert Benchley “A woman is like a tea bag- you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water”…..Nancy Reagan “A woman is a person who can look in a drawer and find men’s socks that aren’t there”….Dan Bennett “”Last night she was banging on my door for ages – but I wouldn’t let her out”….Dean Martin “Oh why can’t we break away from all this, just you and I, and lodge with my fleas in the hills – I mean, flee to my lodge in the hills”….Groucho Marx “When I’m not in a relationship, I shave one leg. That way, when I sleep, it feels like I’m with a woman”…..Garry Shandling “I took up a collection for a man in our office but I didn’t get enough to buy one”….Ruth Buzzi ”I’m a one-man woman. One man at a time”…Mae West “I can’t get a relationship to last longer than it takes to copy their CDs”…..Margaret Smith “I could dance with you until the cows come home. On second thoughts I’d rather dance with the cows until you come home!”…Groucho Marx ”He is one of those people who would be enormously improved by death”…..Saki
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S QUIZ; 1. Robert Watson-Watt 2. Lunokhods were Soviet unmanned lunar rovers
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1, GARP began gathering data back in 1978. What do the initials stand for ? 2. Which country tested its nuclear weapons at a site called Lop Nor?[ ???????????????????????????????????????????????????
I knew that I was in for a ribbing when I arrived on the allotments well after daybreak and noticed Albert’s bike propped against the shed. But my old pal was in a good mood and contented himself with raised eyebrows. It turns out that he had a win on the gee-gees yesterday but was keen to avoid the news reaching his better-half. It reminded me of the scene from Fawlty Towers and I found myself wishing he hadn’t told me lest I bump into Margaret and, like Major Gowan, get betrayed by my tongue. Albert’s forecast on the horses must have been more accurate than the one he put forward on the Oldham and Saddleworth byelection!
In common with several of those who were swept along in the Nick Clegg euphoria at the general election, Albert had been convinced that Oldham would prove to be Clegg’s swan-song, the Lib Dems would be anihilated. In fact, although they lost by over 3500 votes to Labour their share of the vote held up well. At 31.9% it was certainly light-years ahead of the present national poll rating of 8%. Despite the Woolas factor, Labour took a share of 42.1%, a huge increase of 10.27%, so Ed Miliband will be reasonably content and the only massive fall was that of the Conservatives who dropped by over 13%.
The probability is that the people shaking their heads this morning are Conservative MPs and supporters. Some weeks ago this site revealed details of a memo from David Cameron making clear that a Lib Dem victory was the real aim. Although the prime minister did make a token visit, those from these parts who canvassed in Oldham returned to report that the Conservative campaign was in a lower key than Paul Robeson’s voice. It was the first example of the coalition parties working as one and the outcome will not have pleased many Tory activists one little bit.
But the objective observer must concede that Cameron called it correctly for, if the threatened Lib Dem collapse had occurred the odds are that the coalition would have crumbled too. And right now, with Miliband out in front, a general election is the last thing that the Old Etonians want.
To me at least the most astonishing statistic concerned those who didn’t vote. Over half of the good people of Oldham and Saddleworth boycotted the polling booths. Inevitably that included the usual flat-earthers who either didn’t know that there was an election or who wanted to watch something on television. But so great was the abstention that one can only conclude that many thousands decided that they have lost faith in politicians of all parties.
I have never been able to undertsnad why voting in a parliamentary election is not mandatory given that people can opt for a postal vote. But the likelihood is that no politician would like to see the results include a huge number ticking the box marked “None of them”.
Yet such a development would surely be good for democracy and would certainly introduce a note of humility on the part of those who love to defend their lunacies by declaring that they are merely carrying out the wishes of the people!
But for now we can imagine the degree of relief at the Clegg breakfast table this morning. The only problem is that as the butler serves the Camerons there may well have been mutterings about ‘now they really owe us’. Clegg has emulated Houdini but the grip around his throat has tightened and the day may well come when his boss will feel less inclined to come to the rescue!
HONOURS LIST FARCE CONTINUES!
As always the government was keen to include lollipop men and women in the New Year Honours List. Sadly the latest awards for ‘this incredibly important safety service’ coincided with decisions right across the country to make the gallant pole-bearers redundant.
But at least the government’s best friends, the Finance wizards, did well. Philip Remnant was but one of those honoured. He was appointed by Grumpy Gordon to U K Financial Investments, the body managing government stakes in bailed-out banks. UKFI has overseen a system where publicly-financed banks continued paying big bonuses but stopped lending to small businesses!
Nice to know that not everyone to be presented to Her Majesty is on the dole queue!
ANTI-SMOKING LOBBY TRIUMPHS AGAIN!
In December, broadcasting watchdog Ofcom decreed that Live XXXBabes, a free-to-air unencrypted adult sex chat services channel that until recently broadcast on Sky’s channel 950, had breached its rules during a daytime broadcast on 5 October. The channel offered the opportunity to “chat to the hottest, filthiest babes” on premium rate phone lines with the promise that they would “do anything you want…whatever turns you on”.
Presumably Ofcom was upset with some of the things that did turn punters on? No. It was concerned that “a female presenter wearing skimpy lingerie was smoking heavily…the prolonged sequence of smoking drew attention to the activity of smoking as a desirable activity..”
Purveyors of soft porn be warned. Encouraging people to smoke is the greatest evil!
SAVE OUR FORESTS!!!
In a previous blog I outlined the crazy government proposal to sell off all of the forests controlled by the Forestry Commission. This will lead to 20% of the UK forests being taken over by developers. And we all know what that means.
’38 Degrees’ is attempting to organise a massive protest and that looks the only hope. So far 135,000 have visited their website and ‘signed’ the petition. It will take a bigger number than that to stop this destruction.
Do please give your support!
YESTERDAY’S QUIZ ANSWERS; 1. 800,000 2. Australia
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. Which British tennis star married Chris Evert? 2. Which government minister of the 90s appeared in 1974 as a guest on the Morecambe and Wise TV show?
We are splashing around the hen runs as against the sliding of a fortnight ago. Hard to say which is the worst but at least the risk of Albert losing more front teeth is lowered. Mind you much more of the incessant rain will see the chooks issued with stilts. Every DIY book I’ve ever read has warned that hens must not paddle about on wet surfaces, but since the side of runs are not covered I have yet to solve, what is to me, the greatest mystery since Lord Lucan. Billy commented that should the chooks be Lib Dems they will float around, but the jibe struck me as possibly premature for today is the day on which the much maligned Nick Clegg may turn the tide.
Of course the reverse could happen, he could finally drown in a flood of Oldham and Saddleworth votes. The polls suggest that this may be the end of the Lib Dems but yesterday, whilst at a funera,l I spoke to several people who were in Oldham over the weekend. They were canvassing and told me that the overwhelming impression was that the result is too close to call. We shall see, but unlike the politicians we should draw our own conclusions before we know the outcome.
Without doubt the Lib Dems should win. At the general election they came within a hundred or so votes of toppling Phil Woolas who was subsequently disqualified for allegedly telling lies about his Lib Dem opponent. But, and it is a big but, they were then riding the crest of the ‘I agree with Nick’ wave. Now things look a little different and many who voted Lib Dem then feel betrayed. Students certainly do and it could be argued that what Clegg did over his tuition fees pledge was every bit as dishonest as the words of brother Woolas.
It seems to me that if the Lib Dems win the pressure on Clegg will ease. If they lose by a whisker he will be able to argue that a few votes either way is not decisive. But if they lose heavily he is surely finished. Over half of his MPs are already in rebellious mood and a heavy defeat would convince them that they have nothing to lose by pulling out of the coalition.
Of course a significant defeat for the Lib Dems raises other questions according to who wins. If Labour do so, despite the Woolas effect, it will certainly strengthen Ed Miliband’s arm and confirm that if the colaition collapses and David Cameron goes to the country he will have a fight on his hands. If the Conservatives win – an unlikely outcome given that their campaign has been deliberately low key – Cameron would rightly face any election confident of securing an overall Tory majority.
I have been surprised at just how seriously the political chattering class is taking the possibility of a coalition collapse. But everyone that I have spoken to bases the thought on a Clegg hammering in Oldham. Young Nick says that isn’t going to happen.
But his promises are not to be relied upon! Come tomorrow morning his fate may be sealed or, like Houdini, he may have escaped yet again.
SEX STORY WITH A DIFFERENCE!
The ‘dead days’ between Christmas and the New Year are tough ones for hacks charged with filling their columns. No great surprise then that the Telegraph embraced with enthusiasm a Press Association report of a sex study conducted in the USA.
The study found that couples who do not have sex before marriage have a more satisfying sex life than those who do. In fact their rewards also include ‘better quality sex’. In this day and age it was rivetting stuff and may well have caused many a couple to wonder.
Clearly the paper had difficulty fitting in the whole of the sensational revelations for it didn’t include the name of the sponsor of the study. Private Eye helped out by revealing that it was the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints, aka the Mormons!
THE THUMB THING IS CONFUSING!
The Sun can always be relied upon to provide important advice on the nuances of differing cultures and has printed a helpful guide to hand signals and their meaning around the world.
Th entry for the ‘thumbs up’ sign reads “This means ‘cool’ in the UK but in Iraq and Afghanistan is a vulgar insult”.
But wait! Just three pages later the Sun’s military awards include a picture of a British airman surrounded by smiling Afghan boys , all giving enthusiastic thumbs-up signs. The caption read ” Thumb-thing special…young Afghans give a hopeful sign for the country’s future”.
Or did they?
HOW MANY MORE MUST DIE MR LANSLEY?
We have complained previously about the decision to withdraw the offer of a free flu jab to the under fives. Now three-year-old Lana Ameen is dead, the latest victim of an appalling decision. Yesterday her Dad (who is a doctor) and Mum released a photo of their little girl on a life-support machine in the hope that it will shame ministers into reconsidering their terrible error.
Given the havoc that he is imposing on the whole NHS it is probably too much to hope that Lansley will listen. But he should and right away!
ANSWERS TO YESTERDAY’S QUIZ; 1. Michael Caine 2. John Hurt
TODAY’S QUESTIONS; 1. How many were unemployed in Britain in 1971; 800,000, 1.8 million, or 3 million? 2. In which country did Kerry Packer build a media empire?