Monthly Archives: December 2011

So many cock ups over so little time

I get blur.  It’s my age, or so my wife tells me.

I know there have been a few foul ups this year under the coalition but I have sorta lost track.

The big ones seem to loom large but its the little ones that have fallen off my radar.

We’ve had a busy year, snow, royal weddings, economic stagnation, cuts, strikes, scandals, resignations, enquiries, riots, occupations and Levenson.  And a few U-turns along the way.

I know there are only 12 months in a year and running a government is like herding cats but it appears this coalition government – elected on competence and national interest – are making a total horlicks of it.

My personal highlights are on the #hackgate front and the NOTW closure, resignation of not-quite-competent policemen and Coulson getting evicted from the big brother house.

Levenson and the Culture Media and sport committee have held them to account and shown the web of lies and deceit that has been cast by the players in this fiasco.  Where will it end?  With Dave having to come to the house and say ‘I mislead the house.’  Didn’t ask, second chance narrative looking like a pair of lead boots for the PM.

If this was his only cock up then maybe he’d be alright.  There have been a catalogue of mishandling by this manky mob.  Even the safe pairs of hands have been poor, here’s a list

Ken Clarke (whom I like) – There are different levels of rape- oops, mini storm but bruised.  That and the cuts to Legal aid.

Safe pair of shoes Theresa May – Border Agency fiasco, Brodie Clark credible – his boss and Home Sec lacking credibility.  Riots, early recall of parliament to address riots.  Out of her depth.

Andy Pandy Landsley – NHS bill, utter mess.  Stop (pause), consult (ignore), resell (no change).  NHS open season and GP consortia not willing or ready.

Pob (Gove) – Education reforms and redirecting funds to free schools, anyone can teach cos teachers are crap narrative. failing schools proven to be few so freewheeling schools invented for targeting.  Lists and numbers seemed to be a problem early on.

Gidders – Economy is a fucking mess.  Sorry but it is.  Rebalanced to an export led economy.  Selling to whom exactly? No idea?  Neither has he.  The list for Gideon is a long one. hurting not working.  The two things he has choked are Growth in the economy and his chicken. (apologies)  as for operation Merlin (best not go there).

Nick Clegg – AV – err no, Tuition fees (volte face), VAT hike (oops), Housing benefit savaging  (not our fault).  Out of the loop Tory in yellow.

Vince Cable – National Treasure to dr snuggles, off message, off target and off the boil.  Not his finest year.

Dr Foxy- Loxy.  does the name Adam Werrity ring any bells.  Best man jetting around with Dr Fox as an ‘Advisor’.  Lets not look at the Atlantic Bridge or the other one, you know charities that Mr Werrity worked for.  Enronesque.

Mr Huhne – wants wind turbines everywhere because?  its obvious isn’t it?  Well maybe, but Mrs Clegg as a director of a wind Turbine firm will have had nothing to do with it then.  That and speeding tickets.  Oh yeah and the just switch to keep fuel bills down.  Taxi for Huhne.

Caroline Spelman, – Forest sell off to tory pals.  ‘Sorry we got it wrong’ – No shit sherlock.

Francis Maude, binning constituents letters in the park and suggesting a 15min token strike.  cloud cuckoo land.

The PM – sitting all on his puff at the EU treaty conference.  Little boy lost.  Totally out manoeuvered by the Sarkozy/merkel team.  When the poles and Belgians aren’t talking to us it is a disaster of diplomacy.  This treaty should have been headed off at the pass by talking not sniping.  The clues were there.

PM is so woman friendly they have to sit three women behind him at every PMQ’s because of his disasters early in the year.  Flashman, Bullingdon fop, smug, arrogant, complacent, out of touch all have been used to describe the PM.  All of them fairly.

Eurosceptics pushing him about, he is weak and like Captain hook he breaks out in a cold sweat as the ticking of the Coulson time bomb gets closer.

So 2011 wasn’t a great year  for the coalition.  A ship of fools.

So Why aren’t we miles ahead?  God only knows.

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More advice for our new scottish leader

So Johann it is then.

She won 2 of the three electoral colleges and 51% or so of the vote.

You can only win under the system set down, so we need to accept the result.  We do, of course, need to change the system to OMOV and review how we deal with affiliates and levy payers.

Anyway, that’s for another day.

Anas for deputy by a similar margin.

Today I have heard Lord Mandelson advise Ed, ex-labour bloggers spouting advice on how we should be all apologetic to the country for, well, just being Labour.  Every man and his dog has been giving advice on how Labour needs to be changed in Scotland.  Or maybe that should read every Dog and his man has been barking and howling advice to Johann.

I didn’t vote for Johann.  I voted for Ken.

So what?  Exactly, the party has chosen Johann to lead and we all have to support our new leader.  I am encouraged because apart from Johann we have discovered (excluding her deputy) four other politicians who can help us get back to where we should be.

They have given masses of their time, massive effort and tried their best to be selected.  They have answered all sorts of questions at numerous hustings to find the vision for our party and its way forward.  I am proud of each and every one of them.

Some of the campaigning by supporters was a bit suspect but understandable – it was a contest after all.

So Johann & Anas are called to serve.  To lead us in next years local elections and begin the long road back.  It will take all of us pulling together to make steps on that road.  This task will be added to the list of Herculean tasks.

So to the Advice.

Johann.

Ignore the triangulation, new speak, focus groups and spin doctors and just  – Be yourself and trust your judgement.

Don’t be afraid to get help from those around you, after all….

We are a team all pulling in one direction.

Some members just haven’t realised it yet.

Scottish Labour’s long road back from May’s disaster.

In May, we took a beating at the polls.

The evidence is there to be seen every week in the Holyrood Chamber (beginning to sound like SNP party conference).

This week a poll by Ipsos mori puts SNP support at 51%.  A staggering figure, I agree.

Being an anorak I had a dig through the actual data.  Weighted / unweighted and all the groupings.  They are ahead in all categories at the moment.  There was little there to give me encouragement

Except

my view that we are at the nadir of our support.

Things, as they say, can only get better.  And they will.

Since May, El Presidente Alex I of Scotland, has had a virtually unopposed royal progress.  The changing of the leaders of the other party leaders has meant some lame duck FMQ’s.  His arrogance (and inability to answer any questions) and bullying, bombastic displays have gone unchecked and feebly defended.

A lack of a robust attack from any of the opposition parties has given him an easy ride.

All this will change.  New leaders will find their feet and challenge Alex on his areas of weakness (facts/ details).  He has had to come back to the chamber having been exposed for making up quotes and misrepresenting an expert.  AND yet his personal approval ratings are soaring.

He is a canny politician but that doesn’t account for this massively successful period.

He has a readily available source of easy hits, Cameron making an erse of it by being a total tory.  Easy to make himself look left when Dave punishing the poorest in our society.  Add to this Ed Miliband is still not setting the heather on fire.  The fact the English Tories are adopting Alex’s policies shows how right-wing they are.  Tartan Tories indeed.

So in a vacuum, he looks the business.  You can only beat what is put in front of you, I suppose.

The tide is however turning.  We will never be this poor again.

The contagious arrogance of the leader has spread to the rest and that will yield benefits for Labour in Scotland.  Mike Russell’s wholesale reorganisation of FE/HE and ram it through approach are a disaster.  No sign of it in the SNP manifesto.  No sign of a single Police / Fire & Rescue service either but this appears to be going ahead too.

Add to this the reduction of teachers by 4000 since 2007  (Mike Russell trying to pretend that they have maintained the numbers – lies, damned lies and statistics – fine if you change the base line – err no).

Add to this the redundancies in civilian posts within the police forces and these being filled by uniformed officers, 1000 extra officers doesn’t mean what you think it does.  Not exactly an efficiency is it.  Policemen are there to catch criminals aren’t they?

Add to this the lack of school building to support the reduction in class sizes promised.  After all if pupils are in smaller groups they need more teachers and more classroooms right?  Well teacher numbers down and very few rooms added to classroom capacity.  Smoke and mirrors.  Words and deeds disconnect.

Add to this a council tax freeze for another 5 years eroding local services.  These will begin to bite and impinge on a great many people, and all for a few more quid in your pocket.  Soon enough everyone will be able to see that the freeze has indeed changed local government services and not for the better.

Free prescriptions and Bridge tolls only make up so much.

Over arching this erosion of the fabric of Scotland by the  ‘no too bad SNP Government’ is the uncertainty of what separation will mean.

So now what? How will this help us?

A New Leader and a better focus on a narrative for a future that gives an alternative to  independence.

Focus on people’s lives.  Focus on Jobs, standards of living, security on our streets, energy to heat our homes, food prices on the table.  Focus on Educating our kids in good schools, Focus on FE/HE to help youth get the skills to get jobs, Focus on addressing Drug & Alcohol problems, Focus on Homelessness, Focus on delivering health.

We lost because we stopped focussing all our efforts on people’s lives.

These things matter more than the constitutional obsession.  The referendum will arrive when it arrives.  Until then we need to expose the impact on real lives of SNP choices and take to task any and every attempt to blame them on someone else.

The SNP have a majority and they must be held to account for how it is used.  Held to account using facts, held to account by focussing on impact of their choices, held to account by not getting drawn into a slanging match, held to account by not allowing every question to be turned into an independence one.

Held to account Alex Salmond and his party will be.

Big boy did it and ran away will not wash any longer Mr Salmond.

 

Bloody Johnny Foreigner causes Dave trouble.

Poor Dave, bet he thought all these junkets abroad would be fun.  You know swanning around in Limousines, gala dinners, hob (k)nobbing with other leaders.

Apparently he has just found out that they are hard going.  A bit like world cup bids, lots of work needs doing before the hors d’oeuvre.

While John Major rightly called his party Bastards in the 90’s, it appears that this time the Bastards are getting what they want – a eurosceptic Prime Minister.

Is Dave really a euro Sceptic?  No, he’s more a euro careless, or a euro ignorant.

This treaty mess has been brewing for a while.

His and Gidders stances on Eurozone ‘F*ck off and sort yerselves out – we’re all right jack’ has brought us here.  We needed to be involved in helping them sort themselves out not continually carping from the sidelines with typical Etonian smugness.  An arrogance that has backfired spectacularly.

The comments of exasperation that Sarkozy was driven to over the summer were a clue that this was being diplomatically fumbled.  Warning signals were being raised in the language used and none of it was positive.  This was a result of our failure.  Na-na-na-na-na is not a grown up diplomatic stance.  Nor is a foreign secretary who wants to nail the doors shut on the burning euro-edifice.

How much would it have cost for some friendly warm words and a few hints in the right direction?  Nothing.  How much has their absence cost us?  Only time will tell, jobs and influence will certainly be hit.

The treaty on the table, however, was not one that we should have signed.  It was one that could have been avoided altogether with diplomatic bargaining and discussion over the last three or four months.

At every Eurozone crisis meeting we should have been there talking and supporting and diverting the drive to this unacceptable treaty back towards ground we could agree on.  We could have been gaining allies for our position not letting the Franco-German powerhouse scoop up the smaller nations in a bear hug.

We could have been a champion of the rest and facilitator of the deal but instead we got Dave.

What a bloody mess.  No influence, no clue and totally out of touch on europe (our biggest trading partner BTW).

Where do we go from here?  God knows but it will be a long time until anyone around the european top table actually listens to us.

Is Ed our IDS?

This is a sure sign of too much time on my hands.

To worry about the possibility of Ed Miliband, our leader of just over a year, not making it to the next General Election exposes an underlying unease.

I didn’t vote for Ed and he wasn’t even my second or third choice.

That said, democracy is about accepting the outcome and I have.

Ed has had a hard slog this year and leader of the opposition isn’t a great gig for anyone at the start – you have to grow into it.  Dave-call-me-dave was pretty mince to begin with and look how that turned out. (failed to win a majority with Ashcroft’s millions, media support and a Labour government on its knees – ooops sorry I digress).

Being leader of our party is a bit like herding cats, you really have no chance of instilling any discipline until you gain a profile that looks like you might win the next election.  At the moment Ed doesn’t have that.

The polls put him in the lead by about 3-9% routinely, which sounds fine but when you consider the savaging the country is taking from giddernomics and this coalition it should be much more.  It seems the voters aren’t yet sure.  Punishing Clegg and the Libdems apparently just not sure about us.

He started slowly but with the right idea of accepting where we went wrong in government.  However, he needed to defend what we did right more robustly.  Outcome of this was to irritate our own supporters and get a grudging ‘about blooming time’ from those who might have supported us once, and a’ TOLD you’ screamed from those who opposed us and always will.  Guess whose voice got heard on that one eh?

Had a refounding Labour review.  Not at all convinced this will do what he hopes – (see herding cats above).

Bumbled along a bit until #hackgate came along and it was at this point my opinion changed of his chances (up until this point I did think he was our IDS).  He did very well on this, got the tone right, held dave to account and didn’t look like an opportunist (too much).  The corner was well and truly turned.

Riots came and went and the momentum was with Ed on looking the part.  This carried on through the worsening Eurozone mess as he landed good blows on the hopelessly out of touch complacent Cameron.  All going well then.

However, this has stalled for me on the public sector pensions issue and the day of action that allowed Dave to make him look weak and say so.  This was a big call and I think Ed has found himself stuck in a politicians dilemma.  Wanting (i hope) to support the action but knowing it will be used as a club to beat him with.  2m workers gave up a days pay to protest and he didn’t support them.

If he had said I support your day of action and blame this intransigent government for causing it, I think he’d have been a shoe in to really make some progress.  He didn’t, he allowed the right-wing media to portray the Public sector as enemies of the state and was too careful about his response.

November 30th was my first ever day on strike and I want my party leader to support our struggle.  His questions at PMQ’s weren’t bad but for me it was too little too late.  The safe political reasonableness that is for the south of England is alienating traditional labour voters (and there are many of us).

Clarkson and the right-wing are winning the media battle on pensions and we need Ed to be more robust and combat at every turn their misinformation and drivel.  It aint happening.

Which brings me to my question.  Is he going to be our IDS?

Perhaps, he’s not blowing my skirt up and if he makes too many judgement errors I think he will be.

If he keeps getting spanked by Flashman at #PMQs then he will be.

If he doesn’t get some economic credibility (which considering Gidders et al) he will be.

If the cuts are weakly opposed he will be.

Ed is a genuinely decent chap, personable, articulate and bright.  Is that going to be enough or will regret that he isn’t his brother always dog his steps?

So Ed =IDS?  Not yet, and I hope never or we will be in opposition for a looong time.

Of course my next question is ‘IF not Ed Miliband then who?’

Truth & reconciliation committee needed?

In using the above phrase, in no way am I likening #Hackgate and the behaviour of our media to the system of apartheid in South Africa.

The process however might be the only way to get to the bottom of this whole fiasco.

I listened to @tom_watson last night at a fundraising dinner and was instantly struck by the need to get #hackgate resolved.

There will be a stream of ex-journalists and private investigators arrested and charged in the weeks and months to come as #levenson enquiry digs and digs and digs.

The light of truth (not to be confused with the rope of truth) will shine into the murkiest corners of the activities of some of the media.

The Fallout will be far-reaching and will take years to resolve, at huge expense I am sure.

Should we then draw a line under this mess and have an amnesty to get the truth and scale of what wa going on?  Maybe, but there are still a few players who need to be dealt with before then.

Andy Coulson, it is alleged, brought phone hacking to the #NOTW, he should at least face the music.  Many more will be stuck in the dock beside him and rightly so.

Milly Dowler, the McCanns and countless others need to see and feel justice being done.

But then what?

If people fear that they will be punished, they’ll keep schtumm and we’ll never know the full extent.  The press is being exposed as having run amok with no regard for privacy or decency and now they are needing to pay the piper.

Now we have the national security implications of Peter Hain having his computer hacked by journalists and the whole game has ramped up a level.

The key actors will need to be punished before we will be ready to let this move on.  After that a committee might be the best option.

A no-prosecution amnesty and fulsome apology with cash might be sufficient for the foot soldier types.  The generals behind this will need to face the full force of the law.

Coulson, brooks and Murdoch (either or both) need to be brought to book.  They have been seen to be less than forthright in their responses

And that brings me neatly to the Prime minister, ‘He didn’t ask and didn’t know’, when this is scotched and exposed as the least credible statement on the matter, he will need to go.  He is covered from head to foot in the mess that is News International and sooner rather than later he’ll be held accountable.

Misleading the house is a serious issue.

Not as serious as perverting the course of justice, invasion of privacy, harassment, and the many, many others.

But enough to be a resigning matter. ( I hope so.)