Thursday, October 22, 2009

BNP on Question Time tonight

This is the BNP's take on Nick Griffin's appearance on Question Time tonight, send out to everyone on their mailing list:
Question Time is scheduled for 10.35pm tomorrow evening (Thursday) and will be a milestone in the indomitable march of the British National Party towards saving our country.

Our violent opponents on the far Left have promised to lay siege and barricade the studio venue, because they know only too well that this could be THE key moment that propels the BNP into the big time.
Never before have we had the chance to present our patriotic, common sense solutions to Britain's nightmare situation to the public at large in such a prominent fashion.

However, members and supporters must be aware that this show will be a stage-managed farce organised in a specific way to leave several impressions:
  • The audience will be hand-picked and overtly hostile - thus giving the impression that the British people at large must be hostile to BNP views.
  • The panellists will be overtly hostile, even the non-political guests will be hostile. Everyone will be hostile - this will leave the impression to non-informed viewers that BNP views have minority status.
  • I will, no doubt, be interrupted, shouted down, slandered, put on the spot, and subject to a scrutiny that would be a thousand times more intense than anything directed at other panellists.
It will, in other words, be political blood sport.

But I am relishing this opportunity, and I know that, despite the stage-managed hostile audience and panellists, YOU, the ordinary members, supporters and voters of the BNP, will be in the studio with me as I take on the corrupt, treacherous swine destroying our beautiful island nation.
It is an appeal to alienation and hostility, and also a careful attempt to manage expectations. Griffin knows that he is unlikely to shine, and so he is getting his excuses in first. He is a poor speaker with an incoherent argument and so a verbal kicking is the only likely outcome.

The note is also a pretty good illustration why the BNP is not likely to get very far in British politics. Using the phrase 'corrupt, treacherous swine' may have been a winner in pre-war Germany, but in 21st century Britain it sounds a bit bonkers.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Lisbon Treaty amendments

Now the Slovaks have joined the Czechs in asking for an amendment to the Lisbon treaty. Both are concerned that the treaty as it stands might open them to claims from ethnic Germans evicted after the second world war. In both cases they are a bit late, but the row is delaying ratification much to the consternation of the European establishment. This can only be a good thing, and it raises the very faint hope that the argument will stretch until the UK general election, which might see a Conservative government. That would mean the referendum on the treaty that we were promised by Labour, a promise they ratted on without even bothering to make up a plausible excuse.

An interesting question is what the effect on the general election would be if a referendum on the treaty was a live issue? That would present the Conservatives with a bit of a dilemma, as it would certainly be a good campaign theme, but would risk over-shadowing other policy areas. David Cameron's greatest achievement has been to stop the monomania on Europe and so there would be a careful balancing act required to manage the prospect of a real referendum on Lisbon during an election campaign. Having said that, a problem for the Conservatives is a nightmare for Labour and the Liberal Democrats, who would find themselves on the wrong side of the argument and having to explain why they weren't in favour a referendum to a largely eurosceptic public.

Of course, the best case scenario is that this is exactly what happens and that we finally get a referendum on Lisbon from a Conservative government. I am pretty sure what the result would be of that.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

BBC fails to understand Pakistan's war on the Taliban

Pakistan has launched its long awaited offensive against the Taliban in the Mehsud areas of South Waziristan. This follows a series of vicious terrorist atrocities against civilians in Pakistani cities and an assault on the Pakistani army headquarters. Terrorism is always depressing, that human beings use violence not just for political ends, but where the body count of the innocent is the primary means to their ends. War is hell, as a wise soldier once said, but the objective in most wars is to take territory or to destroy military capability or both. Terrorism seeks to kill as many of the innocent as possible until the survivors are so sickened they give into whatever the terrorist agenda happens to be.

As a tactic it has an almost universal history of failure, but that doesn't stop one bunch of sociopaths after another giving it a try. It is also much misunderstood, especially it seems by the sort of half-wits who report on BBC News. The thing is this: because terrorists are very unconstrained in their choice of targets, because you can kill civilians almost anywhere, they can made out as much more powerful then they actually are. Just because terrorists can let of a bomb in a market does not mean that they have any great ability or control. How hard is it to set off a bomb next to a fruit stall after all? Yet to hear the BBC this was direct evidence of the imminent collapse of the Pakistani state. Then after a bomb was let off it Mingora in the Swat valley, which was recently retaken from the Taliban, the breathless BBC reporter stated that there were so many Pakistani troops there that there might not be enough for the enough left for the Waziristan assault? Excuse me? The Pakistani army has 700,000 men with another half million in reserve. For Waziristan the nature of the terrain means that numbers are much less important than mobility and logistics anyway. Where do they find these reporters? Have they never heard of fact-checking before they shoot their mouths off on air.

In fact, the only vaguely impressive thing that the Taliban have done is the attack on the army headquarters, but even here half of their assault was shot to bits at the gate and the rest were killed or captured by special forces after a short siege, which speaks well of the Pakistani army given that the attackers had the element of surprise. The fact is that the Pakistanis are at war with the Taliban, and wars have battles and losses on both sides. Ever since the Pakistani government stopped being a military dictatorship and the civilian politicians got serious about fighting their internal enemy then the tide of success has really only had one direction, and it hasn't favoured the terrorists. It would be nice if the BBC employed people who could place terrorists attacks in context, instead of spouting the line that every suicide bomber hitting a bus queue means a stunning reverse for the forces of civilisation.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Expenses Inquiry - another Gordon Brown fiasco

How hard can it be? All that was required was a thorough enquiry into MPs expenses that separated the criminals and chancers from those who had merely struggled to do the right thing against the background of a poorly defined expenses system. A decent Terms of Reference, a competent auditor, a bit of understanding of both public anger and MPs circumstances and the old cliché of 'drawing a line' might have had some validity. Instead Gordon Brown gets it wrong, again. Apparently MPs are furious, especially the same Labour backbenchers who wouldn't even nominate anyone to stand against their dear leader. Maybe some sort of karma is operating here.

On a related matter Jacqui Smith had to apologise to parliament for basically stealing around £100, 000 from the taxpayer by claiming her sister's spare bedroom was her main home and then claiming everything she possibly could for her real family home. This famously included funding her husband's porn movies of course. Her greed wrecked her political career and puts her seat under threat at the next election. Here's hoping.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Gordon Brown thinks that things can only get better

Gordon Brown has a new strategy - optimism. He is going to portray Labour as the sunny, happy party against a Conservative Party of doom and gloom. According to the Telegraph:
Labour, as he explains it, will be the Sunshine Party in a general election battle against Tory miserabilists.
Apparently the basis for this uncharacteristic cheer will be the Prime Minister's prediction of higher than expected levels of growth next year. That is higher than expected by anyone else other than Gordon Brown, including the Her Majesty's Treasury, the CBI, and the OECD. His prediction is that the economy will grow by 1.5% next year, which he thinks will spike the Conservative 'we are all in this together' strategy. Well, what's wrong with this picture?
  • The consensus prediction is for much lower growth.
  • The election must be called by half-way through next year anyway, allowing little time for increased growth to kick in and before any numbers are calculated.
  • Most ordinary people do not base their votes on economic predictions, rather on their own circumstances and experience.
  • Unemployment is a lagging indicator, so even if there is higher growth the high unemployment that is the most pernicious effect of recession will be around for quite a while yet.
  • A very strong economic recovery after 1992 didn't do John Major's government much good, despite a much longer run up to the 1997 election.
Actually, none of this matters, because of the one thing a higher growth prediction does give Labour and Gordon Brown. By assuming that things are going to get much better much faster, Labour can promise all sorts of spending at the election that the Conservative Party cannot. By claiming that there will be more money Gordon Brown can then offer to spend it on behalf of the electorate if they vote for him. As an election strategy it is based on contemptible dishonesty.

Business as usual for Labour then.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

David Cameron on poverty

David Cameron is not a rhetorical speaker. He does not reach the verbal heights of a Barack Obama or of my old friend Mark Francois. He doesn't communicate the raw emotion of a John Prescott. However, he doesn't take the route of purely logical argument either. This is best exemplified by Gordon Brown, whose speeches are like being sprayed with information to a point that you start to lose the will to live. In fact, you tend to get the feeling that the main purpose of his speaking is to establish how intelligent Gordon Brown is relative to you. In any case, David Cameron has a very plain speaking style, in fact a studied lack of style that is either very natural, or the product of intensive training. The effect is pretty good though, and his conference speech was a statement of vision delivered without drama, except for one moment. At one point he looked right into the camera and told the Labour party not to dare to lecture the wicked Tories on poverty after their many failures. It was brilliant and spine-tingling, and I am told that it was electric in the conference hall.

My judgement, and that of most opinion-formers, is that David Cameron not only delivered an effective speech, but parked his tanks neatly on Labour's lawn. It was also the right thing to focus on. To paraphrase, the Conservative Party is a moral crusade or it is nothing. It is just that it usually doesn't mention it.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

The politics of George Osborne's honesty

These are the numbers from the YouGov poll taken after George Osborne's speech:

CON 43% (+2) LAB 29% (+1) LD 17%(-1)

It appears that being straight with the British people doesn't hurt politically. This puts Labour in a bit of a bind. Can they credibly keep to their ostrich-like denial that the nation's debt is a problem? If they do then they sound dishonest, and a bit ridiculous. Bear in mind that every serious commentator and most newspapers accept that there is a debt crisis. Of course they could have a Damascene Conversion, but then they will be seen to follow the Conservatives, again.

George Osborne tells it like it is

In politics you don't tend to tell people that if they vote for you their lives are going to get worse. Labour certainly didn't last week, where the Chancellor and the Prime Minister announced billions of pounds of new policy and neglected to mention the word 'debt'. However, the country is in debt, massive debt, largely due to the same Chancellor and Prime Minister. The billions that they were promising don't exist, except as more borrowings on the money markets. In fact, the reality is that whoever people vote for at the next election their lives are going to get worse. The main difference between the two parties is that the Conservatives are actually telling people this while Labour are, well, lying.

George Osborne laid it on the line in his speech at Conservative Party conference. His theme was 'we are all in this together' and then announced a public sector pay freeze and a raising of the pension age for men to 66 among a number of measures designed to reduce government spending and actually do something about the nation's debt. This came after the Chancellor had sneaked out a pay freeze for senior public servants as some sort of pathetic spoiler. Think about it, the man had a platform last week when he could have made the announcement, but instead of facing his own party audience he tried to distract attention from the Conservatives instead. This is pathetic, student-level politics and fooled no-one.

The Shadow Chancellor was very impressive, not his delivery particularly, but his content. He seems to have struck a chord too. Editorials were consistently positive, and drew attention to the contrast between George Osborne's candour and Labour's spin at their own conference. For the Conservatives honesty may really be the best policy.

St. George's Community Housing gets the two stars

The deal was that if St. George's Community Housing, Basildon Council's housing organisation, got two stars following an inspection by the Audit Commission that they would get £142 million over five years to improve the housing stock. As previously reported the Labour government ratted on the deal and said that regardless of the result of the inspection there would be no money. Now they have have performed a bit of a U-turn, though 'bit' is the operative word. St. George's got the two stars and there will now be £5m this year, about half of the originally promised amount. This is much better than nothing, but nothing like enough.

That we have even got that much is due to careful lobbying by Basildon Council's Leader, Tony Ball, Basildon's Chief Executive and officer team, and the Cabinet Member responsible, Andy Baggott. We were also helped by support from the local Labour party, where the leader, Lynda Gordon, went against her own government and MP to back Basildon's tenants. All credit to her for that, though I suspect this compliment will not help her with her colleagues. Basildon Labour is a bit fractious you see.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Cameron on Marr

I caught the Andrew Marr interview with David Cameron this morning. Having asked Gordon Brown the previous week if he was on drugs, Marr clearly felt that he had to give David Cameron a kicking as well in the interests of balance. So, we had a question if a man from an upper middle-class family could really represent ordinary British people, guesses at David Cameron's net worth and a demand for the exact number of people who would be made unemployed by a Conservative government's cutting of public spending. Well, there is a name for the assumption that someone's worth in entirely defined by their parentage; it is called bigotry, and it doesn't matter if the key factor is taken as race or social class or whatever. You either believe that people can be taken or their own merits or you don't, and Andrew Marr clearly does not. In the case of David Cameron you could not possibility argue that he has escaped the travails and tragedies that we all encounter in our lives, and if you don't know what I mean by that then look it up, because I am not going to spell it out here.

As for his net worth, who the hell knows that at the drop of a hat? I certainly don't, and if an interviewer asked me about it I would probably tell them to shove off anyway. The irony here it that Andrew Marr is probably richer than David Cameron anyway, especially using the tax avoidance scams that the BBC arranges for its better paid staff, whixh the Times revealed today.

Then we come to revealing the precise number of people who would lose their jobs in an effort to curb Labour's disastrous national debt. It was never likely that David Cameron was going to answer that one, because the basic premise of the question is wrong. The reason that we need to cut government spending is because Labour is funding a large part of it by borrowing the cash on the international money markets. If this carries on the interest rates and taxes will have to rise in order to service both capital and interest payments. If that happens then the UK economy will not grow as much as it might, which means prolonged high levels of unemployment. So, the net unemployment levels where government spending is not constrained will be higher and for longer. What would also probably happen is that eventually UK debt could not be financed via the international markets, which would lead to forced cuts in services anyway. This is what the Labour government brought us to in 1976, and the repeat proves the old adage that the problem of socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money.

The key point made by David Cameron was that it was extraordinary for the opposition to be making the running on economic policy, while the government was sticking its head in the sand and pretending that it could run astronomic levels of debt indefinitely. Compare Gordon Brown and David Cameron in front of the same interviewer and only one sounded like a Prime Minister, and it wasn't the one with the job title.