Dear Chief Secretary to the Treasury,
I'm afraid to tell you there's no money left.
Signed, Liam Byrne

(Outgoing Labour Chief Secretary to the Treasury. May 2010)

Friday, 30 April 2010

Trying to "smear" Mrs Duffy was claimed that Mr Brown had misheard the 66-year-old and had though she had asked 'where are they f***ing from?'
If this is true it shows, yet again, how completely and utterly out of touch they are with the ordinary people who have always voted Labour.

Ordinary people don't swear. Ordinary people don't use foul language, especially not people like Mrs Duffy, and especially not in front of television cameras or when speaking to leaders of political parties - who they respect because of what they are (or were), not because of who they are.

How dare they try to 'smear' her in a feeble attempt to paper over the yawning chasms cracks. It is not reasonable, or acceptable, to try to destroy the character of an ordinary woman in an attempt to make political gain.

Mrs Rigby is so angry, so incredibly angry.

This is, perhaps the first time in many years that Mrs Rigby would support a claim for attempted character assassination, libel, alongside a demand for significant compensation for hurt and emotional distress.

Why on earth should a 66 year old widow have to put up with this, just because she went out for a loaf of bread and happened to see Mr Brown - leader of the Labour Party and one-time Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Mrs Rigby hopes this is the final nail in the coffin of the disgusting "New Labour" project. The party needs cleaning out, it needs to be destroyed and rebuilt from the bottom up.

As much as Mrs Rigby dislikes Alan Johnson, at least he seems to acknowledge his real working class roots - unlike the privileged and socially advantaged, sneering, social-climbing, arrogant Milibands, and male and female Balls and that despicable misandrist Harman woman.

If Mrs Rigby lived in Rochdale, which she doesn't, she would probably vote BNP - out of spite, just to show them her contempt.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Choreographed and synchronised debating?

A smile moment, captured by the Mail

Oh, and why does Mr Brown keep wearing a royal purple tie?


"maybe you shouldn't be running?

The whole ‘winning votes’ thing is secondary; if you have to hide who you are, and what you stand for, to win, maybe you shouldn’t be running?
So says Dave Semple in a response to his post Campaign moments and Brown’s bigotry.

Found via comments left at Anna Raccoon

Elvis should not have been in the building

Lodge Park Technology College, where Mark Wright sang for the Prime Minister, is not allowed to permit performances of live music before 6pm.

Damian Wilkins, the health protection manager at Corby council, has contacted Tom Waterworth, the head teacher, to demand an explanation.

Under the Act, Campbell, the organiser of the event, and Waterworth, the licence holder, could face criminal prosecution resulting in six months in prison or a £20,000 fine.
Foisted by their own petard perhaps, because
The college was unable to get a Temporary Event Notice authorising the performance of music, as plans to allow last-minute event notices were withdrawn by the Government this month.
Quoted from the Telegraph.

h/t Penguin

Sorry? No, not really!

"I apologise if what I said caused any offence"
Empty sort of words really, hinting that others might not have been offended.
"[I would] never put myself in a position where I would want to say anything like that about a woman I'd met".
As Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland Mr Brown should never have been in a position to make a personal choice about who he did or didn't meet.

The position, not the person who holds the position, is what's important. The position is that of representing the whole population, and it should be done effectively and politely at all times. We, the electorate, irrespective of our political affiliation, deserve nothing less.

This short sentence would suggest that Mr Brown has been able to avoid what he often refers to as 'difficult situations', because those around him have known he cannot cope with criticism, cannot cope with challenge.

Let's hope he hasn't made any other gaffes, international gaffes, that have been kept from the media, or which the media has deliberately kept from the front pages because they 'like him so much'.
"this was me being helpful to the broadcasters, with my microphone on, rushing into the car because I had to get to another appointment and they have chosen to play my private conversation."
Translated means - "I'm a nice man really. I was being nice to them - and now look what they've done, they've stabbed me in the back."

An, "Et tu, Brute?" sort of moment, or a child-like plea, asking the big boys to play nicely? Perhaps hinting they should help smooth things over, as they've done before when he's made a mess of things?
Mr Brown made a fuller public apology to Labour Party members
Would that he had taken a moment to apologise to everybody who has been hurt and who has been sickened by his outburst. Would that he had taken a moment to apologise to all who have paid his wages, and expenses, for the past thirteen years.

By being so thoughtless, by being so callous, he has upset far more people than he can possibly imagine and, because of the country's dire financial situation, he can't even try to bribe his way back into favour - but what's the betting he'll try, what's the betting he'll try to pretend to funnel some non-existent cash to Rochdale.

Nick Robinson said
"For those of us who have known Gordon Brown for many years, what we have seen is no huge surprise. He has got better and better at handling himself in public, but quite often he flares up in private, expresses frustration,"

Backtrack a few lines, because it seems that Nick Robinson has, unwittingly, answered the question.

His words suggest that the media has in fact been protecting the man by concealing what many have suspected for years, and they may have done it simply because they themselves are supporters of one particular political party - and that comes first. It comes before national interest.

If this is true, then the media have done the country a terrible disservice.

Alastair Campbell - unelected, and who was Mr Blair's communications director, said,
"She was clearly not a bigot and [Mr Brown] knew that."
Perhaps Mr Campbell would care to cast his eye over Inspector Gadget's blog, where he says
I wondered what would happen to Mrs Duffy if she really was a Ruralshire Constabulary police officer?

A huge rollicking, the next available slot on a diversity training course and zero chance of ever being promoted would follow.

Well, now the PM has responded by apologising for calling her a bigot, can I expect a similar message from the Ruralshire Chief within the next few days?
Mrs Rigby thinks not.

She thinks those in certain positions of authority will actually agree with Mr Brown, and will think the same as this anonymous commenter 'David' over at Constantly Furious's place
But really, what is the news story here? Gordon meets inbred bigot. Gordon is polite to her in public and then calls her an inbred bigot in private.

The uncomfortable truth is that, for the first time ever, he was actually right about something.
Nothing much more to say really, is there.

Maybe they really do want warring factions on the streets, and maybe they know precisely how to achieve it, because all that's left is anger.

Respect - for personal opinions. Gone.

Respect - for the elderly. Gone.

Respect - for ordinary folk, who might not subscribe to the opinions of the political elite. Gone.

Respect - has been thrown out with the dirty bathwater.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Emotional abuse.

A mother is being chased around Europe for telling her five year old daughter that she was born by caesarian section and had been seen cuddling her daughter for 'up to ten minutes'. The police have used force to enter the family home and social workers would like to take the child away from her parents because they believe she has suffered 'emotional abuse'.

The McCanns, both with medical qualifications, say they have told their five year old twins that their older sister was taken away whilst sleeping, unattended, in a holiday apartment. They said it was 'a bit like stealing' and the twins 'know someone has taken her'.

Mrs Rigby can't help wondering which of these children is happier going to sleep in their own bedroom, and she wonders whose fault it might be.

Reasons not to vote Labour #10 (bigoted)

He told an aide: "That was a disaster - they should never have put me with that woman. Whose idea was that? It's just ridiculous..."

Asked what she had said, he replied: "Everything, she was just a bigoted woman."
Quoting Mr Brown after speaking to a real member of the public in Rochdale.

Mr Brown had forgotten he had a microphone attached to his lapel, so his words were recorded for the benefit of Sky News.


Thanks to Uncle Marvo and his link Mrs R can share this little video with you, which she first found in this page on the Times - which has further details of the incident and also notes that Mrs Gillian Duffy's postal vote,
- which was for Labour, and which was sitting in an envelope in her hall - would not now be posted, she added.
The video is from Sky News which has a full article here

This is Mr Brown being pleasant to Mrs Duffy, and then getting into his car where he shows his true feelings - and suggests he was set up.

And this is Mrs Duffy afterwards.

Mrs Duffy wanted to know about the economy, and she wanted to know why her pension is being taxed, she also wanted to know about immigration and crime and sentencing.

She said to the reporters that she didn't know why Mr Brown had bothered to go to Rochdale to see 'young offenders' (presumably they're in the background clearing a footpath). She didn't seem to understand why none of the locals had known he would be in the area, and had only spotted him by chance because of the Police cordon.

This little incident says such a lot. It shows how, in constantly pandering to 'minorities' of all shape and form, the machinations of Labour government have taken their party a million miles away from those it claims to represent.

Mrs Duffy isn't unique, she's just the same as most people of her background. The salt of the earth, honest, loyal, law abiding and intrinsically decent. There are many people like Mrs Duffy within Mrs R's wider family, which is why she feels so much sympathy for her.

Labour has allowed itself to become totally detached from decent, ordinary people. People, who take pride in their appearance, who speak properly and who always behave properly. Maybe Mr Brown doesn't realise that there are thousands and thousands of Mrs Duffys in Britain - these people are hurt and confused by the way things are going in this country, because they trust politicians to treat them decently.

Mr Brown's behaviour today is just a small example of the ongoing betrayal - where he says one thing to your face, and despises you, and treats you with derision and contempt the rest of the time.

Oh, and Mrs R thinks it's also worth noting three further things.

Mr Brown complained that
"They have chosen to play my private conversation with the person who was in the car with me,"
He later, apparently, telephoned Mrs Duffy - so presumably he wasn't too bothered about getting access to her telephone number and talking to her when she was at home. Maybe she was on her own - did he care?

At no time was Mrs Duffy rude, she wanted to get away from the reporters but they kept on asking her questions. She maintained her dignity throughout, although she was clearly very upset.

Mr Brown could learn some serious lessons from her behaviour and her use of language.
"He is an educated person, why did he come out with words like that?" she said.


Here's the full transcript, from the Times

and a picture, from the Telegraph - after hearing the tape whilst on the Jeremy Vine Show.


The Hung Parliament Party

h/t John Ward in Medway, who says a lot more about it. See if you agree with both him and the video.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

A ministry of all the talents?

A ministry of all the talents, an end to partisan bickering, a national consensus – such have been the justifications of every dictatorship in history, from Bonaparte’s onwards. A free country must have the ability to sack its leaders, cleanly, peaceably and decisively. Unless I am mistaken, we intend to exercise that right on May 6. Let’s not surrender it immediately thereafter.
So says Dan Hannan - read the rest and see if you end up agreeing with him

h/t LFaT

Peppa Pig.

Peppa Pig will not, apparently, be attending the Labour Party's launch of their 'manifesto for families' - even though, according to the BBC
... the television series series, which follows the pig, her family and friends, is shown in 180 countries.

Its five-year-old central character helps to promote the government-funded Sure Start children's centres.
The producers, Channel 5, decided that
"Peppa Pig is a well known fan of Sure Start children's centres but, in the interests of avoiding any controversy or misunderstanding, we have agreed she should not attend."
Mr Mandelson said it the BBC's fault, Mr Balls said he'd been at a children's centre with Peppa Pig a few weeks ago and knows she has 'many dates in her diary'.

And Peppa Pig? What did she say about the decision?

Well, she'll say anything she's told to say - because she's a cartoon character.

*shakes head*

Monday, 26 April 2010

Reasons to be cheerful

Let's all celebrate those freedoms we have.

I still have the freedom to take a train anywhere in the UK without a government permit or the sanction of the US security agencies.

I still have the freedom to navigate my vessel in UK territorial waters without a government permit (though not beyond that limit any more).

I don't need the State's permission to have a barbecue in my garden or drink alcohol or smoke in my own home.

Intercourse remains unlicensed.

I am free to read most books that have been published, and to listen to foreign radio stations without the risk of my front door being smashed down, unless they're in Arabic.

I am free to possess tools in my own home, though I can't carry these in public without risk of arrest.

I am free to choose the decor of my own home but no longer free to add an electrical spur socket or light fitting without State permission.

I am free to use incandescent lamps, although their purchase is illegal.

I am free to associate in public with up to two friends without police consent in advance.

I am free to listen to people singing or playing musical instruments without State interference, so long as it's in the privacy of my own home or in theirs.

I'm free to visit my family as long as fully State licensed adults, parents or guardians are present if there are any children under 16 there.

I'm allowed to put State-approved specially purchased food out for the birds, but not food scraps or bread crumbs from my own kitchen.

And I can eat with complete freedom and without State licence any fruit or vegetables I grow myself, though not meat or fish.

And any food I buy rather than grow must be approved by the State in advance.
Quoted from Raedwald, his St George's Day message.

Michael Gove eats John Humphrys

John Humphrys opens the interview with a well-prepared attack line, using a quote from leader of Kent County Council, Paul Carter - but was left, so it seemed, almost open-mouthed when he learned that Mr Gove had spoken to Mr Carter - this morning, after he had been interviewed by the BBC - and confirms that Mr Carter was referring to the current funding position (now, at this moment, under Labour), with money being taken away from the state sector and spent on PFI initiatives. The moment would have made wonderful television.

PFI is 'outside' the state sector in terms of organisation and funding - so these schools already take money away from 'state' schools etc etc - in much the same was as the Conservatives' planned new/replacement schools would be. So it would seem that, maybe, the Conservatives idea isn't significantly different, except that it puts parents first - rather than big businesses such as Jarvis and French company Vinci and various consortia. It's worth noting that even Unison doesn't like PFI Schools.

Mr Gove knows the figures too, it was nice to hear them used properly, rather than just being reeled off as a list.

The issue of "Titan Schools" was raised. These schools are much loved by Mr Balls and DCSF, and would see children travelling huge distances to massive, impersonal schools with many, many, thousands of children. Such large schools combined with the distances involved, would, Mrs Rigby thinks, effectively, break the home/parent-school link.

Mr Humphrys managed to say that parents want their children to be educated locally - and people are being 'forced into being activists' because they're unhappy with current results/provision - and tried to turn it against Mr Gove who had quoted these same people**. It was another jaw-dropping moment.

Oh, nearly forgot, you can listen to the broadcast here

h/t Constantly Furious

Did you know that the PFI schools (land and buildings) are only rented, some on twenty year leases? Mrs Rigby read about it the other day, but she can't recall where.

Mrs Rigby thinks Mr Gove was referring to parents in Kirklees
The Birkenshaw, Birstall and Gomersal Parents' Alliance (BBGPA) was set up amid fears that the closure [of the local school] would leave families without a school in the area, forcing pupils to travel 45 minutes to the nearest one.

[Their] plan to open their own secondary school was blocked by the government.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Labour to axe Defence?

The Daily Telegraph outlines what is contained within each party's manifesto. Mrs Rigby cast an eye over each one and particularly noted what each party says about Defence.

One of the things she was hoping to see was a pay rise, because she was quite shocked the other day to hear that young soldiers earn £6k less than their civilian equivalents in the Police and Fire Service.

Here are the bare bones of the manifestos from the Telegraph.

The Liberal Democrats say this about Defence
Liberal Democrats would "make the welfare of the men and women of our armed forces a priority."

Key defence policies are:
* Cancelling Eurofighter Tranche 3b
* Holding an immediate Strategic Security and Defence Review
* Ruling out the like-for-like replacement of Trident nuclear weapons system - planning to save £100bn
* Giving a pay rise to the lower ranks to bring them in link with other emergency services
* Doubling the rate of modernisation of forces' family homes
* Reducing the numbers of MoD staff and top brass officers
* Military action against Iran ruled out categorically
The Conservatives say
... their top defence priority will be to "repair the broken Military Covenant"

Specific defence policies include:
* Doubling the operational bonus for troops serving in Afghanistan
* Ensuring that Forces' families and veterans are taken care of
* Tracking and monitoring veterans' mental health after they leave the Armed Forces
* Launching a Strategic Defence Review
* Maximising efficiency in the Ministry of Defence
* Streamlining the procurement process
The SNP says this about Defence and International Affairs. They will
*Press the Government to spend 0.7 per cent of Britain’s national wealth on international aid.
*Call for armed forces personnel recruited in Scotland to be based as close to home as possible.
*A review of the UK’s military strategy and approach in Afghanistan.
*Scrap Britain’s current Trident nuclear submarines and plans for their replacement.
*Set up a Scottish Centre for Reconciliation and Conflict Resolution to promote peaceful alternatives to armed conflict.
The Labour Party has sub headings for
*Constitutional reform
*Council Tax
*Northern Rock
There is something about 'terrorism' within the 'Foreign' section - but no section entitled 'Defence'.

Mr Brown and Harriet Harman/Dromey have, if you recall, accused other parties of intending to axe services that aren't specifically mentioned within their manifestos - they have talked about bus passes, dental care, eye tests, cold weather payments and so on.

Mrs Rigby uses their own reasoning and, because there is no Defence Policy within the Labour Party's manifesto (as published in the Telegraph) she must assume that, if they win the coming election, they will axe the military and we will no longer have an Army, Navy or Air Force.

Could this be a tobacco-pipe-smoke moment?

What do you think?

Is this omission an editorial error by the Telegraph, or does Labour truly not have a Defence manifesto?

Crash Harman on Radio 5 Live

Listen here on Five Live where Ms Harman (Mrs Dromey) is interviewed by Stephen Nolan, 24th April 2010.

Scroll in to 1 hour 46 minutes to hear her interview - there's too much for Mrs Rigby to discuss, please listen for yourself. Oh, and stay listening to the listeners' phone calls afterwards - including the lady who thought Mr Nolan intimidated Ms Harman. (*chuckle* - as if!)

It's a revealing interview, during which she even has the gall to say that, if something isn't mentioned in another party's manifesto then they're going to scrap/abolish/abandon it. Remember - the Labour Government went to court to prove it did not need to keep manifesto promises, and made the taxpayer pay for the court case.

Mrs R thinks it's also worth remembering that Harriet Harman (Mrs Dromey) is Deputy Leader of the Labour Party and Deputy Prime Minister - and a listener thinks a radio broadcaster is capable of intimidating her, over the phone.

Harriet Harman has also been, according to the Telegraph, a victim of Mr Mandelson's tongue. He is reported to have told her
to "shut up" and [that] he did not want to hear from her again
That'll go down well with her husband, Jack Dromey, and Unite.

Unite, you may remember, bankrolls the Labour Party, in a circular sort of way.

h/t Iain Dale

Insulting the Pope

Pope Benedict XVI is due to visit Britain this year, he is due to be in Britain between 16th and 19th September 2010.

In amongst Foreign Office documents preparing for this visit is one outlining the 'ideas' from a 'blue skies brainstorming' session by civil servants suggesting that
the Pope be invited to open an abortion clinic and bless a gay marriage
the Pope's UK visit could be marked by the launch of "Benedict-branded" condoms.
the Pope could apologise for the Spanish Armada or sing a song with the Queen for charity.
It listed "positive" public figures who could be made part of the Pope's visit, including former Prime Minister Tony Blair and 2009 Britain's Got Talent runner-up Susan Boyle, and those considered "negative", such as Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney and prominent atheist Richard Dawkins.
This is the sort of smut to be expected from a pre-pubescent schoolboy, not a civil servant. It should not form any part of either cabinet or Prime Ministerial briefing or discussion.

The sender of this memo had, apparently, asked that
these should not be shared externally.
Of course they didn't want it 'leaked', but it was given sufficient importance to be
attached as one of three "background documents" to a memo dated 5 March 2010 inviting officials in Whitehall and Downing Street to attend a meeting to discuss themes for the papal visit.
They might not have wanted it 'leaked' but they still expected ministers to take their time to discuss these ideas, to take them seriously.

Is this, truly, an example of the best advice, the best ideas, that are given to Foreign Office ministers?

Oh, and no, this revelation has not come from the Mail. Every single one of these quotes is taken from from the BBC - which is, naturally, trying to downplay the importance, and the ignorance of those involved. They are saying that
It's clear that what the Foreign Office has called "this foolish document" did not reflect government policy. Its tone is clearly frivolous, and it came from junior officials.
There is a small element of caution though, because it notes
How serious and far-reaching the effect of the document is depends partly on how the Church itself responds.
The article clearly states that British Ambassador to the Vatican has apologised to officials there for what the Foreign Office refers to as
a "foolish" document [...] which resulted from a "brainstorm" on the visit, [and] did not reflect its views
It is also pointed out that this 'foolishness' was not enough to cost a job, because the individual concerned has been
put on other duties
The BBC also, Mrs Rigby notes, highlights alongside this article a link to one referring to a petition against the Pope's visit. That other article is dated 4th March 2010.

There's a message there, and Mrs Rigby doesn't like it.

She isn't a Catholic, but she knows people who are, and they would be devastated to learn of the utter disrespect shown by civil servants and those in high office to their church and to the man who sits on and beneath St Peter's throne*.

source - Wikimedia Commons

Imagine, for a moment, if you will, if any civil servant, in any national/local government or quango department in any town or city anywhere in the country had made a joke about a Muslim, let alone written something equivalent on paper and circulated it to government ministers.

Would they still be in their job? Would they still be being paid out of the public purse? Would any ministers be silent?

And would our streets be quiet?

Haven't the last thirteen years been enough? How far down do they have to drag this country before they go?


*Throne = cathedra

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Reasons not to vote Labour #9 (uncaring)

We've had it drummed into us over the past thirteen years that everybody is equal.

We've had it drummed into us that we mustn't make fun of those worse off than ourselves.

Then, when they're electioneering, their true colours show through, and everybody can be a target for their vitriol.

Mr Brown cleverly made a quip about Little Britain. It was meant to be an 'off the cuff' comment, but it was in his notes - something he'd been told to say because they'd already done the poster.**

Yes, the Conservatives did their Vicky Pollard poster**, but the only person that might have hurt was Mr Brown.

So, didn't any of them think, just for a moment, how these two pictures might compare?

This election poster**

... and this (BBC)

True colours indeed.

Ivan died. His death will have hurt more people than Mr Cameron alone, but they don't seem to have realised something so very basic about people, friends and family in their desire to hurt - and make political gain.
Mrs R was clearly a bit tardy with this post, because the poster was withdrawn.

Withdrawing the poster doesn't, however, alter the thinking behind it.

Friday, 23 April 2010

How some politicians celebrated St George's Day.

Our prospective leaders spent St George's Day in different ways.

Mr Cameron spent his day in London, with Mr Johnson. It looks as if they might have had quite a good time. (Picture Mail)

Mr Johnson, as Mayor, has made sure there are plenty of activities to celebrate St George's Day (week), including an market at Leadenhall, with stalls and Morris Dancers. That's where they're pictured, eating fish and chips - with a Cross of St George made of ketchup. (photo Mail)

Mr Cameron said it's,
'... absolutely vital' to mark St George's Day and cited how people across the British Isles celebrated Ireland's patron saint St Patrick, Wales' St David and Scotland's St Andrew'.

He said: 'The United Kingdom is a family and we are stronger for stressing the fact that you can be English and British, Scottish and British, Welsh and British.

'And we should say that loudly and proudly.

'To those who say that somehow celebrating St George's Day is exclusive or would put people off, I say that is nonsense.'
Mr Brown went to a private garden party at an 'activist's house' in Bedworth, Warwickshire, where he met some nice people and had his photo taken with a little girl. (Picture Mail)

Mr Brown told everybody that, although he's Scottish, he really likes things English. He likes them so much that his chose an English wife - but he didn't use those exact words. The BBC tells us he said
"That is absolutely right, to recognise the importance of St George's Day, what it means to the history of England, what it means for the values that England represents and what it means for what England has done for the history of the world,"
Mr Clegg went to, errm, Newcastle Aviation Academy - yesterday. Mrs Rigby isn't altogether sure where he went today, nor what he did.

Maybe he didn't think he should celebrate St George's Day, or maybe he's suddenly dropped out of the media spotlight for some reason or other.

Has he been telling porkies about both his (home background and his family's previous political affiliation)? (Picture Mail)

Oh, and on St George's Day the BNP launched their manifesto. Here's Mr Griffin with one of his chums. (Picture Mail)


The Secret People

Smile at us, pay us, pass us; but do not quite forget;
For we are the people of England, that never have spoken yet.
There is many a fat farmer that drinks less cheerfully,
There is many a free French peasant who is richer and sadder than we.
There are no folk in the whole world so helpless or so wise.
There is hunger in our bellies, there is laughter in our eyes;
You laugh at us and love us, both mugs and eyes are wet:
Only you do not know us. For we have not spoken yet.

The fine French kings came over in a flutter of flags and dames.
We liked their smiles and battles, but we never could say their names.
The blood ran red to Bosworth and the high French lords went down;
There was naught but a naked people under a naked crown.
And the eyes of the King's Servants turned terribly every way,
And the gold of the King's Servants rose higher every day.
They burnt the homes of the shaven men, that had been quaint and kind,
Till there was no bed in a monk's house, nor food that man could find.
The inns of God where no man paid, that were the wall of the weak.
The King's Servants ate them all. And still we did not speak.

And the face of the King's Servants grew greater than the King:
He tricked them, and they trapped him, and stood round him in a ring.
The new grave lords closed round him, that had eaten the abbey's fruits,
And the men of the new religion, with their bibles in their boots,
We saw their shoulders moving, to menace or discuss,
And some were pure and some were vile; but none took heed of us.
We saw the King as they killed him, and his face was proud and pale;
And a few men talked of freedom, while England talked of ale.

A war that we understood not came over the world and woke
Americans, Frenchmen, Irish; but we knew not the things they spoke.
They talked about rights and nature and peace and the people's reign:
And the squires, our masters, bade us fight; and scorned us never again.
Weak if we be for ever, could none condemn us then;
Men called us serfs and drudges; men knew that we were men.
In foam and flame at Trafalgar, on Albuera plains,
We did and died like lions, to keep ourselves in chains,
We lay in living ruins; firing and fearing not
The strange fierce face of the Frenchmen who knew for what they fought,
And the man who seemed to be more than a man we strained against and broke;
And we broke our own rights with him. And still we never spoke.

Our patch of glory ended; we never heard guns again.
But the squire seemed struck in the saddle; he was foolish, as if in pain,
He leaned on a staggering lawyer, he clutched a cringing Jew,
He was stricken; it may be, after all, he was stricken at Waterloo.
Or perhaps the shades of the shaven men, whose spoil is in his house,
Come back in shining shapes at last to spoil his last carouse:
We only know the last sad squires rode slowly towards the sea,
And a new people takes the land: and still it is not we.

They have given us into the hand of new unhappy lords,
Lords without anger or honour, who dare not carry their swords.
They fight by shuffling papers; they have bright dead alien eyes;
They look at our labour and laughter as a tired man looks at flies.
And the load of their loveless pity is worse than the ancient wrongs,
Their doors are shut in the evening; and they know no songs.

We hear men speaking for us of new laws strong and sweet,
Yet is there no man speaketh as we speak in the street.
It may be we shall rise the last as Frenchmen rose the first,
Our wrath come after Russia's wrath and our wrath be the worst.
It may be we are meant to mark with our riot and our rest
God's scorn for all men governing. It may be beer is best.
But we are the people of England; and we have not spoken yet.
Smile at us, pay us, pass us. But do not quite forget.

Written by Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936)

The people of England may not have spoken yet, but we will, and soon.

Shakespeare's England

Today, 23rd April, marks the death of William Shakespeare, who died in 1616. So let's have a few quotes from the Bard.

"King John", Act 5 scene 7
This England never did, nor never shall,
Lie at the proud foot of a conqueror.

"King Richard II", Act 2 scene 1
This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,--
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.

"Henry V" Act 3 Scene 1
"I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips, straining upon the start.
The game's afoot: Follow your spirit, and upon this charge cry 'God for Harry, England, and Saint George!"


Campaign for an English Parliament

7 out of 10 people support an English Parliament

The Scots have their Parliament, the Welsh and Northern Irish have their Assemblies.

The English, who are ruled from Westminster by parliamentary representatives from throughout the whole of the British Isles, do not have their own voice.

It's time we did.

A holiday for St George

The political party that guarantees to make St George's Day a Bank Holiday in England will probably get Mrs Rigby's vote.

The Scots have a day off for St Andrew, the Irish have a day off for St Patrick - being fair and equal, and the Welsh ought to have a day off for St David and of course the English should have a day off for St George.

So come on, who's going to make that guarantee?

The English are Best

Flanders and Swann.

In the introduction they point out that if it hadn't been for the English we'd all be Spanish. The song was written as a skit, poking fun at xenophobes.


Sing along if you like, here are the words
The English, the English, the English are best
I wouldn't give tuppence for all of the rest.

The rottenest bits of these islands of ours
We've left in the hands of three unfriendly powers
Examine the Irishman, Welshman or Scot
You'll find he's a stinker, as likely as not.

Och aye, awa' wi' yon Edinburgh Festival

The Scotsman is mean, as we're all well aware
And bony and blotchy and covered with hair
He eats salty porridge, he works all the day
And he hasn't got bishops to show him the way!

The English, the English, the English are best
I wouldn't give tuppence for all of the rest.

Ah hit me old mother over the head with a shillelagh

The Irishman now out contempt is beneath
He sleeps in his boots and he lies through his teeth
He blows up policemen, or so I have heard
And blames it on Cromwell and William the Third!

The English are noble, the English are nice,
And worth any other at double the price

Ah, iechyd da

The Welshman's dishonest and cheats when he can
And little and dark, more like monkey than man
He works underground with a lamp in his hat
And he sings far too loud, far too often, and flat!

And crossing the Channel, one cannot say much
Of French and the Spanish, the Danish or Dutch
The Germans are German, the Russians are red,
And the Greeks and Italians eat garlic in bed!

The English are moral, the English are good
And clever and modest and misunderstood.

And all the world over, each nation's the same
They've simply no notion of playing the game
They argue with umpires, they cheer when they've won
And they practice beforehand which ruins the fun!

The English, the English, the English are best
So up with the English and down with the rest.

It's not that they're wicked or natuarally bad
It's knowing they're foreign that makes them so mad!

For the English are all that a nation should be,
And the flower of the English are Donald (Michael)
Donald (Michael) and Me!

Lyrics from here

Song believed to date from 1963.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Reasons not to vote Labour #8 (military)

Found over at Cold Steel Rain's place

By the way, Cold Steel Rain is doing a parachute jump for Combat Stress
Combat Stress is the leading charity specialising in the care of British Veterans who have been profoundly traumatised by harrowing experiences during their Service career

There's a button in the sidebar to make donating really easy.


Labour internet activists responding to blog posts and leaving comments on newspaper sites have taken to referring to Mr Osborne as 'Gideon'. One comment at Iain Dale's place says
Gideon Osborne (yes that is his real name)
You'd think that was fair enough - but actually it isn't. Let's look elsewhere for reasons why.

Firstly it's important to remember that Mr Brown's full name is James Gordon Brown - he is referred to as Gordon.

This may be because his parents chose to use his middle name, maybe because there was another James or Jim or Jimmy in the family and it would have been confusing to have more than one in the same place at the same time. It happens often, which is how people get nicknames.

Maybe, at some point in his life, Mr Brown himself decided he didn't want to be called James/Jim/Jimmy Brown - it could even have been because there was another chap called James Brown, a singer, and he didn't like the association, perhaps he had been teased about it.

So, it's apparently all right for Mr Brown to use whichever of his names to use, and this sets a precedent that should be respected - but it isn't. They're using double standards, something we've all got used to over the last thirteen years. There's one rule for them, and a different rule for everybody else - and anybody who doesn't agree with their view of the world is a target for that they think might be derision and/or abuse.

Maybe those Labour 'activists' think they're being 'clever' or 'smart', especially as these same activists would probably be irritated if their party's leader was frequently referred to as Jimmy Brown. Maybe they're using their own personal values to judge other people's reactions and opinions, and perhaps they even sit there sniggering when they refer to Mr Osborne as Gideon - who knows?

Mrs Rigby has to ask why they should think Mr Osborne might be upset. She wonders if they think it's a disgusting name.

If so, they're wrong.

Gideon was a Biblical character. He was a very strong character. It's easier to use a quote to explain,
Gideon was the son of Joash the Abiezrite from Ophrah. He was Israel's fourth major Judge after the birth of Joshua.

A large army of Midianites and other nations united against Israel. The Lord told Gideon that he would be made strong and that he was to save Israel from the Midianites.

Gideon raised an army of 32,000, but after several tests by the Lord, the army was whittled down to 300 men. God did this so the people of Israel would not boast to Him that they saved themselves by their own strength.

At night, Gideon and his 300 men lit torches, blew trumpets and shouted "For the Lord and for Gideon."

Then they stood by and watched as the enemy panicked, and the Lord caused the enemy troops to begin fighting and killing each other.

Midian never recovered, and the land was at peace for 40 years during Gideon's lifetime.

His victory over the Midianites was remembered for many generations as the "Day of Midian" (Isaiah 9:4). The story of Gideon is found in Judges, chapters 6-8.

The name Gideon means "he who casts down."
So, you see, having Gideon in charge meant 40 years of peace and left the enemy in disarray - the enemy even managed to fight amongst themselves and kill each other.

So, maybe these smart, clever, witty Labour activists aren't quite as smart or clever as they think they are. Their ignorance, lack of knowledge and lack of education is glaringly obvious to those who either know otherwise, or who take a moment to look things up.

Maybe they will stop and think what they're doing - because by trying to be rude they are unwittingly likening Mr Osborne to a brave, strong and honest man - which is the very last thing they want to do.

Labour, under the leadership of Mr Brown, is currently trying to build a coalition against the Conservatives, they're desperate to keep them from government. They should read the story of the Biblical Gideon and see the parallels, and realise that for some people invoking the name of a Biblical fighter, honest ruler and judge is a positive thing that might even influence their vote.

Some people believe names have power over the character of the individual, just look at all those baby-naming books with their explanations, and this is why those Labour activists should remember that
The name Gideon means "he who casts down."
They should also remember that
[Gideon's] enemy panicked, and ... began fighting and killing each other.
Perhaps these Labour activists should be very careful what they wish for.


Reasons not to vote Labour #7 (unemployment)

The man who has applied for 4,700 jobs.
The 56-year-old IT professional lost his job at a City investment bank five years ago and has been out of work ever since.

He has applied for 4,700 jobs over the past five years and been invited to just two interviews. Alongside jobs at senior management level and banking he has also applied for taxi driving, warehousing jobs and baggage handling at nearby Stansted Airport.

"I hit rock bottom last year and applied for a job at Harlow crematorium."
More from the Guardian
Forbes is angry when he hears talk of the jobs market recovering. For a start, people like him do not show up in all the statistics. Because of means-testing, a married man like Forbes who has a home and savings, does not draw any benefits. Instead he is working through his savings.
Insurance professional Peter Martin, a 52-year-old father of three, lost his job last November. Ken Holland, a computer security specialist, was made redundant at the end of 2008. Now 51, he too has been living off his savings. "We have been cash cows for the government up to this point and in our hour of need we don't get anything," says Holland.
National Statistics Office tell us that
The employment rate for the three months to February 2010 was 72.1 per cent. The rate was down 0.3 on the quarter and it has not been lower since the three months to October 1996.
The inactivity rate for the three months to February 2010 was 21.5 per cent. The rate has not been higher since the three months to October 2004 and it is up 0.3 on the quarter. The number of inactive people of working age increased by 110,000 over the quarter to reach a record high of 8.16 million. This increase in inactivity was largely driven by the number of students not in the labour market which increased by 71,000 on the quarter to reach 2.30 million.
Here are the charts

Mrs Rigby's family knows the situation only too well. One member of the family lost their job five years ago, was turned away from the JobCentre because their 'partner' was in work, working more than 16 hours a week and earning more than £16k. That Rigby was not even able to get help filling out what they referred to as 'new fangled application forms'. They have done their best, but have not been able to find work since then.

Walking into shops that advertise vacancies they are met with a blankly quizzical stare, that says, "You want to work here?" The application is completed, delivered, and never responded to. That, they think, is the worst. Prospective employers never respond to an applicant, there is nothing, not even if an sae is provided - just a void.

They say that, if unsuccessful, a candidate should contact the employer and ask why. These requests are also ignored, so they have no idea if they're filling in the forms wrong, if they're 'overqualified' or simply unemployable and on the scrap heap.

The out-of-work Rigby thought about retraining, but when they looked at the costs they realised they couldn't afford it - not with the essential belt-tightening the loss of income involved, and the lack of employment opportunities in their home area. So they're stuck, stuck until the savings run out, and until they are forced to sell their home and live off that capital too.

Statistics released this week suggest there are 2.5 million unemployed people in Britain.

Statistics can only count those who are on a list, statistics cannot count those who are not allowed to be on a list.

Those who are not allowed to be listed as unemployed are those not allowed to claim any sort of benefit and also those over 60. University students are not allowed to be unemployed during their vacation, because being a student is counted not being available for work.

We will, perhaps, never know the true scale of the current employment/unemployment situation. What we do know is that Harlow, and also the various towns and villages around Britain where members of the Rigby family live, are hard hit - and few of those out of work have their names on a list, although they may be included in the ONS list for the "economically inactive".

Vote Labour - for even more of the same.

Reasons not to vote Labour #6 (uncaring)

the Foreign Secretary suggested travellers should simply rely on the 'great British spirit'.
This is the sum total of advice and support* Mr David Miliband offered those who have been stranded overseas because NATS closed British airspace, on the advice of the Met Office.

Mr David Miliband hopes, one day, to lead the Labour Party - and represent the interests of the working population of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

His words echo advice given to the villagers of Cow Ark in Yorkshire who, when cut off by snow for more than a fortnight and were running out of both food and heating materials, were assured that
their community spirit will see them through
Bill Rammell hoped teenage University Officer Training Cadets, whose pay had been suspended for six months, would
ride out this temporary difficulty.
These examples form an unpleasant pattern.

The pattern suggests that if Labour were to win the coming election and the country begins to find itself in severe financial difficulties - with the result that people are seriously poorer, we could be advised to 'tighten our belts' or 'ride out the storm' whilst watching our elitist equal-opportunity Labour MPs ride around in their chauffeur-driven limousines and eat caviare - on expenses of course, because it's the right thing to do. Expenses which are funded all who pay taxes, including those who earn their keep by cleaning the same MPs' second homes.
Mrs Rigby doesn't necessarily believe stranded holidaymakers and members of the business community should have been either offered or given financial support out of the public purse, but she does believe Miliband's words are callous and uncaring.

Mrs Rigby is also aware that some people save up for a year or more to pay for a holiday - and that's it. There's nothing left in the coffers until they are back at work, so they have nothing, absolutely nothing, to fall back on if disaster strikes.
Nothing, that is, except for travel insurance - which in this instance appears to have let everybody down.


Reasons not to vote Labour #5 (Brown's ego)

'I'm only here because I want to make a difference. If I cannot make a difference, I go,' he said.
After the election that is, not before.

Does Mr Brown truly believe the electorate will tolerate another 'unelected Prime Minister' - one chosen in a secret ballot by the Labour Party and the Unions?

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Mrs R knows why Shirley disapproves of Prescott

Mr Prescott, former deputy leader of the Labour Party, took his campaign minibus** to a suburb of Southampton called Shirley, where he and candidate Alan Whitehead were quickly surrounded by crowds of eagerly interested Labour voters
(Picture MattDeanSouthampton)

During the invigorating exchange with the electorate, Messrs Prescott and Whitehead were heckled by local resident Margaret Phillips

(Picture Southern Daily Echo)
Margaret wanted to know "who was regulating the MPs" who, she said *, are
in it for themselves”.
Mr Prescott shouted his response via his microphone, just to make sure everybody could hear him. He didn't try to answer he, he wanted more, and suggested she should
“Come up here and have an argument with us”.
She, in best local tradition, responded with
“Are you going to shout over everyone that disagrees with you?”
A large part of Shirley is real working class you see, and the people there have real working class values too - which includes being polite, saying please and thank you, things like that. They know that, given the chance, unruly teenagers will grow into decent adults, become proud and fiercely independent. Given the chance, of course.

You see, the people of Shirley used to work in places like BAT, or Pirelli. They used to work at Vospers, and they did once build and work (and die) on ships like the Titanic and the more recent ocean going liners as well as Britain's Merchant fleet. These days, though, they might be lucky enough to secure a job in Southampton's burgeoning retail park, the factories have closed, the merchant vessels source their cabin staff, deck and below-deck crew from an international market.

Maybe Margaret Phillips also recalls what happens to people who disagree with Mr Prescott and didn't like the idea of getting too close - just in case. And anyway, there might not have been enough room for her alongside Messrs Prescott and Whitehead on the narrow concrete bench.

Shirley is the town/suburb of Southampton that was used by the BBC to rate the progress and impact of the early recession. They must have thought it was a good idea at the time, but quietly dropped the project. Maybe they did that because it ended up being very negative story.

This chart might go some way towards explaining why Mr Prescott didn't get the outpouring of positive support he had expected.
Mrs Rigby knows where Shirley is you see, she's been there lots of times in the past, but not so much over the last two or three years because it's too far.

Mrs R has used the shops in Shirley. The dozens and dozens of smallish to medium size shops line each side of the long, straight, High Street that must stretch for about a mile. They sell almost everything anybody needs. There are supermarkets too, including a Chinese one, and expensive one with its' own car park. Oh, and there's a pawn shop and quite a few charity shops and some pubs - without gardens.

The Woolworth closed, of course, due to the recession, and a shoe shop and so, presumably, has Ethel Austin.

Shirley did have the advantage of a walk-in health centre where it was possible to be seen by a doctor, or have blood tests taken, without having to battle with receptionists and administrators to make an appointment days or weeks into the future (and then sit and wait for hours before being seen). It was a hugely useful thing, but once useful things like this have been started up they're taken for granted, aren't seen as an innovation and aren't seen as something to be grateful for.

When useful places such as walk-in health centres close, and the first reason given is that it's temporary and because of Bird Flu, but the doors never re-open, then people get irritated - and they know they've been had. Many people in Shirley might be poor, they might be working class - but they're certainly far from stupid, something Labour forgets at its' peril.

The last time Mrs R stopped in Shirley, which was perhaps eighteen months ago, she went into a small, budget, supermarket. All staff bar one female checkout operator were Polish, and only one or two other shoppers were speaking English. Mrs R felt like a foreigner, she felt out of place - which is unusual for the area, because it's always been a mix of nationalities, because of the shipping you see.

That time, in that shop, Mrs R asked a member of staff where something was - he said he didn't speak English and walked away.

The English-speaking checkout operator told Mrs R she was looking for another job, because she was too lonely working there. Mrs R hasn't been back since so doesn't know if the situation has changed, although she did drive along the High Street about six months ago - there were, then, several shops with all signage in Polish, a language that's incomprehensible to the locals.

The aforementioned Chinese supermarket has always been multi-lingual, the staff friendly and welcoming. It's a pity the new 'locals' don't think they need to advertise their wares using the local language.

Perhaps all this is something Mr Prescott didn't know, perhaps it's something his researchers didn't tell him. Perhaps this is why, along with the rocketing unemployment in the area, people like Margaret Phillips - who may come from a long line of Labour voters, with their roots firmly planted in the the labour force of the factories, docks, shipping and shipyards - say they have decided to vote UKIP. They can't, not yet at least, bring themselves to think about voting for either Lib Dem or Conservative.


From this article in the Southern Daily Echo. Read it, and read the comments.

Mrs R notes that the minibus is parked in a bus stop - reserved for buses to pick up and drop off passengers, not for minibuses to be parked for a length of time.
She wonders if it got a parking ticket.

Southampton is split into two constituencies - Southampton Itchen and Southampton Test. The names are taken from the two rivers that pass through the city on their way into the Solent.
John Denham (Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government) is hoping to retain his majority as MP for Southampton Itchen, whilst Alan Whitehead is aiming to be re-elected for Southampton Test.


Reasons not to vote Lib Dem #2 (finance)

And this man wants to be Chancellor of the Exchequer?
h/t Iain Dale & from Guido

Egging on the politicians - compare and contrast

Today Mr Cameron was hit by an egg thrown by a protester. His response,
"Now I know which came first - the chicken not the egg."***
The egg-thrower was briefly detained, and then released,
after police established that he was not carrying any more missiles.
To balance this report let's look back to what happened in 2001 when, whilst electioneering in Rhyl, Mr Prescott had an egg thrown at him. His response
Mr Prescott grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and thumped him
and the protester
spent seven hours at Rhyl police station after his arrest
and then was
released on police bail in connection with the incident
And then?
North Wales Police ... spent four months investigating the incident [and sent] a file to the Crown Prosecution Service.
And finally CPS decided that
in Mr Prescott's case is that, for reasons of self defence, there is not a realistic prospect of a conviction.

"In Mr Evans's case, the CPS has concluded that a prosecution would serve no useful purpose, taking into account the minor nature of the assault as well as the fact that he suffered some minor injury himself and spent several hours in police custody.
Refers to this light-hearted incident with the Daily Mirror's chicken

Reasons not to vote Labour, or Lib Dem #1 ("anti-Tory alliance")

Picture from here

Mr Brown effectively messes up the Lib Dem vote - because people might actually have been thinking about voting for Mr Clegg's party, thinking it might be a viable alternative to Labour but not shifting their politics as far away from their comfort zone as voting Conservative.

In the article Mr Brown claims to have some common ground with the Lib Dems - on voting reform - but that's it.

For the rest of the time he's practically pleading for votes. Here's what he says,
"If you want a referundum on the new politics, you have got to consider voting Labour. We are the only party commited to a referendum on the new politics, you have got to consider voting Labour: we are the only party committed to a referendum on it. You won't get one with the Tories."
And, of course, we all know that he took the electorate to the high court in order to avoid having a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. The court ruled that keeping manifesto promises is unnecessary.

So, he makes a promise for a referendum and says we should vote for him - and his proposed alliance with the Lib Dems.

The curse of Jonah, indeed.

h/t Constantly Furious

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Reasons not to vote Labour #3 (Brown on expenses)

Newsbeat chat with listeners
Brown ambushed on expenses: The full transcript

Rachel Barr, 18, Sociology student Edinburgh University - Young people, particularly Scottish young people aren’t voting at the moment. I think that’s partly due to the MPs expenses scandal. They don’t have much trust in politicians or in politics any more. How do you plan to engage young people in politics again?
GB: I’m shocked what some MPs did. It was a scandal. Punishment has got to be meted out. You cannot have people standing for public office who don’t meet the standards of honesty. My father was a minister of the church. I was brought up to be taught that honesty was the most important thing. You’ve got to show integrity in what you do. I’m not in politics for what I can get out of it…
Tulip: 'What about your expenses because you claimed thousands of pounds for cleaning. What was going through your head when you thought it was OK for the taxpayer to pay for that?
GB – [Irritated] I’ve got to stay in two places at once. Right. And I’ve got my wife and my children…
Tulip – What were you thinking when you claimed thousands of pounds for cleaning?
GB – [Defensive] I wasn’t claiming for a sort of mortgage. I was claiming for the expenses of having a house in London
Tulip – But for your cleaning?
GB – I had a cleaner and paid her a decent wage and at that time people thought it was acceptable if you had someone to clean your house, it was an acceptable expense.
Tulip – But we’re talking about trust and talking about these people wanting to vote you in again and there’s something like that and they’re thinking this person just doesn’t relate to me or doesn’t understand me, because if they did they…
GB – [Angry] Hold on, hold on…
Tulip - … they wouldn’t be claiming that much money for cleaning
GB – [Exasperated] Hold on. What the guy basically said was I shouldn’t be paying the cleaner a minimum wage. It wasn’t wrong to have cleaning expenses. I was just paying her too good a wage. I was paying her more than the minimum wage and he told me to pay that back. I accepted that. But to be honest, I’m not going to employ anybody without paying them a decent wage.
Q – That’s fine but can you see why some people might find it annoying, bad, wrong…

Rachel – … insulting that we’re paying for your cleaning.
GB – I’ve just got to be honest with you. I’m living in two places at once and I’ve got to do my work and at the same time I’ve got to live in Scotland, I’ve got to live in London. I’m having to run two places at once. That is the problem that I faced. What did I do? I’ve got two children. I’ve got a wife who was working at that time. What did I do?
Rachel – As much as we can relate to the situation you were in, it’s hard in general for people to relate to politicians…
GB – I understand that. I’m just explaining what happened to me. I feel my crime was to pay a decent wage to my cleaner because nobody was saying that you couldn’t have help with cleaning your house.
Rachel – But built in with that was all the other things happing with expenses, so built in there was a lack of trust.

> Brown is then repeatedly interrupted by a male questioner <

Christian May via Facebook – If I committed fraud by claiming for benefits while working I would be put in prison. Why are you all allowed the chance to pay it back and nothing happens?
GB - There are MPs in court and rightly so…
Tulip – Not that many
GB – Everyone is right to be angry about what happened on the expenses scandal. We had to discipline people. We had to suspend people. We had to throw them out…
Q – Do you think it’s right that people got a payoff as well then?
GB – No I don’t think it’s right that people got a payoff
Q – So that money should be brought back then
GB – I don’t think the guys that are in court are going to get payoffs
Q – There’s only three or four though but there have been loads of MPs that have paid it back and also got a full pension after resigning…
GB – Yeah but…
Q – And also a payoff on top of that. There’s an extent of them stealing from us and then getting guranteed even more money when they resign. So it’s a win-win situation for the MP
GB – I don’t find any of this acceptable…
Q – It seems to a lot of people out there that MPs are only in it for the money and in it for themselves. They don’t really put much in
GB – [Nervous laughter] We, we…
Q – That’s what it seems anyway
GB – We’ve created an organisation completely independent of Parliament that makes these decisions. There’s no MP could make these decisions now.
From comments left with this article:-
  • Mr Brown lives in a grace and favour property, he has done since 1997. 
  • Expenses claimed were for a third property in London, in which he cannot have been living.
  • He refers to wages above minimum wage as 'decent'
  • The cleaning firm was owned by his brother.
  • Labour activist 'troll' referred to the young questioners as "foul mouthed Tories"
  • Labour activist 'troll' - ignoring the small fact that Labour has been in government since 1997 and has, therefore, had plenty of time to fix a bad system, lay blame elsewhere "the current expenses system was brought in back in the mid 1980s [by] the Thatcher government"

Three things stand out in this interview.

One is the reference to his father, and that he was "taught to be brought up to be honest". It's a weird phrase, and the continual references to his father are slightly unpleasant. It isn't something grown-ups do during what it, effectively, a job interview.

Another is the poor diction, something that has been noticeable recently whenever a Labour politician speaks - they drop their aitches and glottal-stop their tees. It's as if they have been coached to sound like what they imagine the common man/woman speaks. If so, it's nauseatingly condescending.

And finally. Mr Brown - previously Chancellor of the Exchequer and Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland - said "a guy" told him what to do about his personal expenses, suggesting that he had no idea, no experience of the system - which is untrue. He tried to fiddle expenses when he was at Edinburgh, and was first elected MP in 1983 - 24 years ago. He knew the system, and he knew how to work the system to his personal advantage. It is feeble to use a clerk as an excuse for wrongdoing.

When Mrs Rigby was younger and did something stupid, tried to say that a friend had said it was okay, her mother used to ask a simple question.
If they told you to jump off a roof, would you ...?

Reasons not to vote Labour #2 (Balls on Brown)

Spotted at Events Dear Boy.
I think [Mr Brown will] be the prime minister for five years unless he went for an election after four years and went on for a fifth term.
Quoting Ed Balls, on BBC

Reasons not to vote Labour #1 (crime)

Crime Debate over at Guido's place, comments left by an individual who was probably a nice little troll.
Who do you trust to look after people like you? The Eton toff, or the former postman?
Gosh, that's a difficult question. Would I prefer the country to be run by somebody who's expertise lies in reading envelopes and ensuring they are put into the correct letterbox or ...
Only Labour will keep you safe. They will do this by providing the public with ID cards, and introduce CRB checks for all. We will have CCTV on every street corner.
Nice to be comforted with the thought that somebody is a little room somewhere can monitor our every move ... whilst another person works out some nice new retrospective legislation.
Thanks to the Lib Dem surge, we will get a historic 4th Labour term. Once we have got rid of the "Tory" Lib Dems like David Laws and Nick Clegg, we will welcome Sarah Teather, Evan Harris and Vince Cable back to the Labour fold.
Hmm, that says a bit too much, probably a bit careless really. Perhaps it would be good for the Lib Dems to be aware of comments such as this, it might make them think twice before embracing their new found friends.

Met uses comedian for training

The Met Office plans to use Mr Thomas's case as an example when training officers.
A typo, but even so it might go some way towards explaining why the Met Office can't get the weather right.

The story actually refers to Mark Thomas, the comedian, who has successfully claimed damages from the Metropolitan Police after being stopped and searched - because he appeared over-confidant.

Maybe they think we should all be quaking in our shoes whenever we see a Police Officer?

And the Met Office, the one that is meant to be able to forecast our weather? That one's in trouble too - possibly also a case of over-confidence. Airlines and allied employers and businesses are complaining because,
“The Civil Aviation Authority base their decision on what they are being told by the National Air Traffic Services [Nats]. Nats say they base their decision on what they are being told by the Met Office and the Met Office say they are only making a weather forecast.”
All well and good, perhaps, to say they're 'only making a weather forecast' - but this is the same Met Office that decided to stop making long range forecasts because it is too difficult for their lovely computer system to manage.

Their predictions of doom relating to this volcanic dust are based around a theoretical computer model, no doubt put together by somebody, or a team of somebodys, who thought they knew what they were doing - but it seems they may have been wrong.

Maybe they should look at this picture, from the Mail. The streak of light crossing the picture is an aircraft. It's there, right above the volcano. It's a survey plane, collecting data.

As the IATS (International Air Transport Association) says,
“We have seen volcanic activity in many parts of the world but rarely has it resulted in airspace closures, and never on this scale
And all this chaos, all these stranded holidaymakers and businessmen and women, all the school closures and the distinct lack of supermarket tomatoes - all this can be safely laid at the door of the Met Office and their computer modelling. The same Met Office that brought Britain to a standstill last winter because they couldn't manage to predict ice and snow has now been allowed to bring Europe to a halt.

They, and organisations like them, are why Britain is losing credibility. Our weather forecasters are dependent on computer models that don't work - and because of this the organisation will, surely, soon lose lucrative international contracts, which will mean job losses ...

Monday, 19 April 2010

Black Swan politics

Mrs Rigby has never been much of a philosopher, although she does think quite a lot, about quite a lot of things. Earlier today she read something in a shed that made her think, quite deeply and quite seriously.

Her thoughts have resulted in a very long post, she hopes you will manage to read it and follow it's meanders through to the end.

It all started with what she read, here. This is the beginning,
It just occurs to me that we have had two of the type of events that we are warned about in Nassim Nicholas Taleb's book The Black Swan.

That is potentially high consequence yet rare and unlikely events.

1) Nick Clegg manages to get away with claiming the Lib Dems are different in terms of the expenses ( the facts say otherwise ) and is allowed to brush off the funding of the Lib Dem party from dubious sources. The public responds with X Factor like support.

2) All air traffic is stopped because of a volcano in Iceland.
So, off Mrs R went to read about the Black Swan theory. It's interesting. There's more online than that Wikipedia article, but that one's enough for starters.

Apparently it all began with a poet/thinker called Juvenal, who said, "A good person is as rare as a black swan". He could say this because when he was around no Europeans had noticed Australia, so hadn't seen its' wildlife which, of course, includes black swans. There was, therefore, an assumption that all swans are white and all swans will always be white - and so it stayed for several hundred years.

Then the Dutch found their way to Australia, and saw some black swans - which made various 'thinkers' decide to use Juvenal's term to describe something fallacious, something as yet unproven, or something claimed to be 'always true' that carelessly ignores the 'what if' factor. It's that 'what if' factor that Mrs R will eventually return to.

Nassim Taleb seems a clever sort of chap, which is why Mrs Rigby is sharing this extract from an article - it's all about economics and was written a couple of weeks ago.
Ten Principles for a Black Swan Robust World:

1. What is fragile should break early while it is still small.
Nothing should ever become too big to fail. Evolution in economic life helps those with the maximum amount of hidden risks – and hence the most fragile – become the biggest.

2. No socialisation of losses and privatisation of gains.
Whatever may need to be bailed out should be nationalised; whatever does not need a bail-out should be free, small and riskbearing. We have managed to combine the worst of capitalism and socialism. In France in the 1980s, the socialists took over the banks. In the US in the 2000s, the banks took over the government. This is surreal.

3. People who were driving a school bus blindfolded (and crashed it) should never be given a new bus.
The economics establishment (universities, regulators, central bankers, government officials, various organisations staffed with economists) lost its legitimacy with the failure of the system. It is irresponsible and foolish to put our trust in the ability of such experts to get us out of this mess. Instead, find the smart people whose hands are clean.

4. Do not let someone making an “incentive” bonus manage a nuclear plant – or your financial risks.
Odds are he would cut every corner on safety to show “profits” while claiming to be “conservative”. Bonuses do not accommodate the hidden risks of blow-ups. It is the asymmetry of the bonus system that got us here. No incentives without disincentives: capitalism is about rewards and punishments, not just rewards.

5. Counter-balance complexity with simplicity.
Complexity from globalisation and highly networked economic life needs to be countered by simplicity in financial products. The complex economy is already a form of leverage: the leverage of efficiency. Such systems survive thanks to slack and redundancy; adding debt produces wild and dangerous gyrations and leaves no room for error. Capitalism cannot avoid fads and bubbles: equity bubbles (as in 2000) have proved to be mild; debt bubbles are vicious.

6. Do not give children sticks of dynamite, even if they come with a warning.
Complex derivatives need to be banned because nobody understands them and few are rational enough to know it. Citizens must be protected from themselves, from bankers selling them “hedging” products, and from gullible regulators who listen to economic theorists.

7. Only Ponzi schemes should depend on confidence.
Governments should never need to “restore confidence”. Cascading rumours are a product of complex systems. Governments cannot stop the rumours. Simply, we need to be in a position to shrug off rumours, be robust in the face of them.

8. Do not give an addict more drugs if he has withdrawal pains.
Using leverage to cure the problems of too much leverage is not homeopathy, it is denial. The debt crisis is not a temporary problem, it is a structural one. We need rehab.

9. Citizens should not depend on financial assets or fallible “expert” advice for their retirement.
Economic life should be definancialised. We should learn not to use markets as storehouses of value: they do not harbour the certainties that normal citizens require. Citizens should experience anxiety about their own businesses (which they control), not their investments (which they do not control).

10. Make an omelette with the broken eggs.
Finally, this crisis cannot be fixed with makeshift repairs, no more than a boat with a rotten hull can be fixed with ad-hoc patches. We need to rebuild the hull with new (stronger) materials; we will have to remake the system before it does so itself. Let us move voluntarily into Capitalism 2.0 by helping what needs to be broken break on its own, converting debt into equity, marginalising the economics and business school establishments, shutting down the “Nobel” in economics, banning leveraged buyouts, putting bankers where they belong, clawing back the bonuses of those who got us here, and teaching people to navigate a world with fewer certainties.

Then we will see an economic life closer to our biological environment: smaller companies, richer ecology, no leverage. A world in which entrepreneurs, not bankers, take the risks and companies are born and die every day without making the news.

In other words, a place more resistant to black swans.
Phew, reading all that makes Mrs R wonder about Britain's economy and what's been allowed to happen, because Taleb's ideas seem remarkably sensible, common sense in fact. They're all nice to read, but not entirely relevant to the rest of what Mrs R is going to say - although because of the dire state of our economy there is a tenuous sort of link.

You see whilst reading all that Mrs Rigby had what she thinks might be a 'Black Swan' moment of 'what if', and will try to show the various thought processes, snippets and badly remembered history lessons that took her there - all thanks to that Man in a Shed by the way.

Mrs R knows the Lib Dems are very much a, "What if ...? Oh, don't be so silly!" sort of political party that haven't really been given much credence at election time, not since Labour appeared and stole their voters - but she knows that once there were only two viable parties - "Whigs" and "Tories".

The Whigs were allowed to rebrand and rename themselves as "Liberals", and now "Lib Dems" - and so conceal their aristocratic past - but there have indeed been some great (and very wealthy) Liberal leaders. Here are a few - Earl Grey (of the tea), Viscount Melbourne (from Brocket Hall), Viscount Palmerston (from Broadlands, Romsey), Sir William Ewart Gladstone, The Earl of Oxford and Asquith (WW1), Lloyd-George who led a coalition government from 1916 to 1922 and was the last Liberal to live at Number 10.

The Conservatives, though, have never been allowed to completely drop the 'Tory' label, although their principles seem to have changed quite a bit over the centuries. Everybody knows the names of a few famous Conservative leaders - Bonar Law, Stanley Baldwin, Winston Churchill. Later ones are often the subject of open contempt and derision, and John Major's term as Prime Minister is remembered not for the positive, but because of sexual 'sleaze' and 'cash for questions' - matters that were so outlandish at the time as to bring down a government, but have recently become so very trivial and commonplace. Our labour government's shenanigans are by-passed, quickly forgotten and brushed under the carpet - by left-leaning media. It makes Mrs R wonder if there has ever, truly, been a pro-Tory or pro-Conservative press.

Aside from that, and vaguely linking with politician's backgrounds. Mr Blair wasn't from a poor family, his parents were wealthy enough to send him to board at Fettes. Mr Brown's parents were not poor either, when he was a child those in the Ministry were seriously upper middle class, and many kept themselves apart from the hoi polloi except for 'good deeds'. Clement Attlee's father was a solicitor. Harold Wilson's background was similar to that of Edward Heath and, although he had benefitted from attending a Grammar School, it was he who destroyed them.

Mrs R knows what happened during the period of the "Lib-Lab Pact", made in 1977 between Labour (Callaghan) and Liberal (Steel), which effectively kept Labour in power until the agreement fell apart in 1978. Prior to that there'd been the 1976 IMF loan, and afterwards was the Winter of Discontent that led to the 1979 election - which the Conservatives won.

We all know for sure that Mr Brown is desperate determined, to cling to power stay in office. He knows he's the right person for the job because he keeps on saying he is, and so do some of his supporters who trot out cliché ridden phrases that they can't possibly have made up on the spur of the moment. Maybe Mr Brown believes it because somebody once told him that his initials match the abbreviation of Great Britain, maybe he's the sort of person who believes in predestiny.

We all know that the various, media and otherwise, pollsters are predicting a tight election result. Some suggest that their sampling and standardising methods are open to question, but we'll never know for sure - but we do know that the media prefers the politics of the left, for their own reasons, and it is they who shape public opinion - in a country whose Prime Minister promised to intervene and "order the Home Secretary to investigate" the fictional legal case involving a character in a long running soap opera.

We know that for either the Lib Dems or Conservatives to win outright they need to poll significantly more votes than Labour, because of the way the Boundary Commission drew up the latest constituency boundaries.

We know that if the result is tight/close then our constitution allows Mr Brown time to try to negotiate a deal with another party - a deal that will keep him in Downing Street and also in charge of government. Time for negotiation has already been arranged, and extended to eighteen days for secret power-sharing agreements to be brokered. (What has been forgotten is that it also allows Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg eighteen days in which to negotiate and trade policies, and perhaps reach agreement in order to form a government.)

We know that Mr Brown will never negotiate with the Conservatives, we know he will never negotiate with BNP or any of the other lesser parties, which leaves Mr Clegg and the Liberals - who, even though they wouldn't openly admit it, can't ever have truly and honestly believe they might be leading lights in government after this general election. It's hard to imagine that up to last week they were even considering a "What if we nearly win?" scenario - yet, at the moment, this seems to be on the cards.

How many times has Mr Brown criticised the Conservatives for being inexperienced? Has he never once considered that, with 17 years in opposition, Labour too was inexperienced when they took over in 1997?

The last time Liberals took high office was in 1977, as a result of a short-lived power-sharing pact, yet Mr Brown doesn't criticise them for being short on experience, he might even, perhaps, fear envy acknowledge Mr Clegg's time in Europe, working alongside and negotiating with both Russia and China.

Mr Brown criticises Mr Cameron's youth, yet he is a year older than Mr Clegg. Mr Brown criticises Mr Cameron's background, whilst ignoring Mr Clegg's silver spoon.

Mrs R wonders if Mr Clegg could follow in Gladstone's footsteps and say "In time of peace nothing but dire necessity should induce us to borrow", or would he imitate Gladstone and be remembered locally as the man who cut down all the trees? (Which are only now being replaced by his descendants.)

But, all this aside, during last week's televised debate Mr Brown kept cosying up to Mr Clegg. He said, several times, "Yes, I agree with Nick." But, Mr Brown has since - on both TV and radio - rubbished the Lib Dem's policies. He knows which way up his bread is buttered though, so he won't try too hard, because he will have been told he might need some friends in order to stay a Number 10.

On Guido's chat for today's Foreign Affairs 'debate' (which was more of a BBC Q&A session) a serial spammer wrote,
"A Lib-Lab coalition will implement much-needed electoral reform, creating a permanent progressive majority in this country. The Tories will be finished."
Which brings Mrs R to her final point and a bit.

She knows, well maybe she doesn't know exactly, but she believes - feels it in her bones, that sort of thing - that this country cannot risk another year or more of Labour's money-spinning, social-engineering, divisive policies. She believes that if the Lib Dems, under Mr Clegg, form an alliance with Labour, under Mandelson Brown, it would be a catastrophe for Britain and would cause a lot of hurt and upset for too many decent people, many of whom are still wondering what on earth they've done to be so derided and vilified by their own government.

Mrs Rigby wonders if there's any political party that is able to ... to, well, speak out for Britain, for British traditions, for British values, and be able to do it without being branded either racist or xenophobic?


No, not that lot, not those who have loud demonstrations on the streets and wave flags. She means ordinary people, who know their own true worth and haven't a clue about being loud-mouthed and pushy, people that'd better learn quickly, before it really is too late.

Mrs R is going to go and lie down in a darkened room to give her brain a rest, and to warm up because she feels very, very, cold. Maybe she's been sitting still too long and that nasty cold east wind has got to her, or maybe that dastardly volcanic dust has filtered out the warmth of the sun, but something has sent a shiver down her spine.