Monday, 25 October 2010

Still All Labour’s Fault

Ever since the ConDems got into power, I have been constantly perplexed and bemused that they don't allude more publicly to the previous administration's culpability for the mess that the UK's finances are in.

Bob Crow was given airtime on the BBC this week, calling for the populace to take to the streets in defiance of these cuts, which he reckons are needed because of bankers' greed. Actually Bob, it was your party that bailed out the bankers and added significantly to the nation's debt.

Gordon Brown has spent the week in dour old Fife, working on his memoirs. His chief bean counter, Alistair Darling, was similarly silent and inconspicuous this week. And why not? Red Ed would not want either of those two around to remind us all why we are where we are.

And Postman Al, the new Shadow Puppet for Spending What We Don't Have, has accused Osborne of taking a reckless gamble with the spending review. At least it's a calculated and measured gamble, unlike those that Brown and Darling indluged in, which were all about buying votes and perpetuating their time in power.

The Chancellor and anyone else in power that needs to defend the need for economic changes just needs to remember this simple phrase: "It's all Labour's fault".

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Spot the difference, again

Forget David, here's Ed Miliband's lost twin:

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

A Taxing Problem

Apparently, those astute fellows at Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs have managed to lose £2bn of tax revenue down the back of a computer server somewhere. And since this is the UK, where HMRC have only slightly less powers than the average deity, we the taxpayers are going to be expected to roll over and cough up the dough to pay for their ineptitude.

The increasingly inane BBC Breakfast wheeled in a “tax expert” this morning to explain what those of us unfortunate to receive a demand for £1,400 should do. Aside from returning the envelope smeared in excrement, which would be my suggestion, we are encouraged to plan to lose £100 per month of our income for a year. But don’t worry, said the “expert”, it won’t happen until next April. Whoop-de-effing-do.

But what the dopey presenters didn’t consider, and indeed what has escaped the attention of most of the media, is how did the government allow this much tax to fail to be collected?

Assuming it’s the fault of a computer system – and that seems to be what is being reported – then humans are involved somewhere. Computer software, especially mildly complex programs such as tax calculators for 30 million citizens, does not just write itself, deus ex machina-style.

A minister will have had an idea; a permanent secretary will have engaged with some internal stakeholders to kick off a project; consultants will have been appointed, following a rigorous process whereby the company whose CEO contributes most to the ruling party is employed; internal staff will be re-deployed from mind-numbingly tedious jobs to a position where they can obfuscate and stall the project as much as possible. And eventually an unfit-for-purpose system will be spat out, poorly-tested, over budget and several years late.

Since the system in question is only just now miscalculating our tax, it is safe to assume that it was not commissioned by the present coalition government: it is simply not possible to implement a new IT project in government in four months. So, it must have been a New Labour idea.

But not Alistair Darling’s: he became Chancellor in 2007 and the new software is only now being found out for getting the 2009-2010 tax year wrong. Which means it was probably instigated under the watch of the previous incumbent of No. 11. And since Gordon Brown was tighter than two coats of paint as Chancellor, evidenced by his penny-pinching with the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, you can bet that the new tax computer was subject to a budget comparable to the cost of the average Daewoo. A second hand one. With high mileage, no service history and three not very careful owners.

Darling is still culpable though, since the new system would have been undergoing testing once he was thrust into the Chancellorship. Although it was probably too late at that point to polish the pooh that Brown had laid during his time at the Treasury.

The £2bn should be re-couped from the salary and pensions of all the ministers that were involved in unleashing the shambles in the first place. Now that Brown and Darling are on the opposition benches – that is so satisfying to type – they should be forced to forfeit a fraction of their stipend to make up the shortfall. A thousand quid from each of them each month should do. Which is a million months. Or 83 millenia. Plus interest. No wonder the country’s finances are screwed deeper than a Chilean miner.

Brown and Darling – still a danger to the nation’s financial health.

All Labour’s Fault

Four months into the new coalition government and the liberal (with a small “L”) media seem to delight in their daily reporting of the cuts in public services that are going to be made.

However, the news reports are all wrong in one small detail: they need to be prefixed or suffixed with an appropriate phrase to describe why the cuts are being made. Examples might be “Because of the previous Labour government’s mismanagement of the economy and public finances for the last 13 years…”, or “Due to Gordon Brown’s total incompetence as Chancellor and Prime Minister…”,

So, for example, we have in today’s Torygraph “Bank of England's Mervyn King warns over inflation”, which should read “Bank of England's Mervyn King warns over inflation, due to Gordon Brown’s total incompetence as Chancellor and Prime Minister”.

“60,000 police officers 'could be axed by 2015' due to Government funding cuts” from The Daily Mail should of course read “Because of the previous Labour government’s mismanagement of the economy and public finances for the last 13 years, 60,000 police officers 'could be axed by 2015' due to Government funding cuts”.

And lest we forget The Grauniad, “Arts funding cuts will bring down the curtain on our theatre's golden age” is more truthfully “Arts funding cuts will bring down the curtain on our theatre's golden age, because of the previous Labour government’s mismanagement of the economy and public finances for the last 13 years”.

It’s a great game to play when you listen to or watch BBC News, or read a newspaper. Try it, you’ll love it.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Happy Days

Two weeks into the new Con-Dem, Lib-Con, call-it-whatever-you-want coalition and I feel no need to be wound up about proceedings. Every Tuesday is worthy of a celebration.

Two weeks ago, Gormless Gordon got in his shiny, ministerial Jag for the last time to be driven to Buck House to hand in his resignation to Her Maj. Thirty minutes later, Dave got in his even shinier, newer Jag to be interviewed for the vacant position of Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury. “Yes, Dave, you seem like a nice chap, the job’s yours. And you went to Eton, so you’re a shoo-in.”, the Queen is alleged to have said.

Would a “proper”, single party government have been better? Maybe. Would a government unfettered by dampening down its policies to satisfy a minority partner be better? Probably. Would a government with a clear, UK-wide majority be better? Definitely.

But anything is better than having Labour in charge for another 4 or 5 years. Ex-PM Brown is now said to be “considering offers”, ranging from continuing his work as worst leader ever by becoming First Minister of Scotland to appearing as an extra in Holby City, although I think he is better suited to Grumpy Old Men. Labour are currently leaderless, unless you count stand-in boss Batty Hatty Harperson. I don’t. Her shrill posturing at Tuesday's opening of parliament sounded like someone who was reading punchlines from a third-rate comic’s discarded material. Which she was.

Long may it continue: the coalition implementing policies to reverse 13 years of oppressive, extravagant, wasteful government; Labour sitting on the opposition benches in a permanent “harrumph”, lead by (probably) one of the Miliband brothers, or hopefully the copywriters’ choice, Ed Balls.

Happy days indeed.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Silly Punt

According to the Daily Red Rag, a Labour supporter has bet £5,000 on an outright Labour victory tomorrow. He stands to win £75,000 if his horse comes in (to No. 10). Here’s hoping he is wrong and £5,000 poorer in the morning…

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Sood off, Gordon

Step forward Manish Sood, prospective parliamentary candidate for North West Norfolk in Thursday’s election. In an interesting tactic to get himself elected and popular with his party, Sood is quoted as saying “Gordon Brown has been the worst prime minister we have had in this country. "It is a disgrace and he owes an apology to the people and the Queen”.

I’m not sure why Her Maj needs a consoling hug from the PM, but he could do worse than dedicate his final election broadcast to apologising for his ruination of the nation, sending under-equipped soldiers to fight unwinnable wars and for believing that employing a million extra civil servants is a credible alternative to creating a healthy economy.

Mr Sood is the most honest candidate in the election. And also probably the stupidest. He'd better watch out for low flying Nokias...

Thursday, 29 April 2010

'kin 'ell

The Bank of England Governor, Mervyn King, is alleged to have said that whoever makes the cuts needed to bring the UK back on track will be so unpopular that they will be unelectable for a generation. Well, he's right isn't he?

We've had 13 years of profligate spending on 37 ministerial departments, 300 local councils, 900+ quangos, 3 devolved governments and the EU.

There are probably a million people who could disappear from the civil service payroll without affecting teaching, health, the military and any other front-line service.

That would save a bucket-load of tax through not paying for salaries, pensions and other costs, such as failed £12.7bn NHS projects. That tax would be returned to the economy, which can be used to re-employ the million former civil servants to do something useful. Who would then pay tax and spend money, thus perpetuating the cycle. It cannot happen overnight and will be painful for all involved.

However, this will never happen with Brown and Darling in Nos 10 and 11. Cable wouldn't have the guts or the vision to do anything so radical or creative, unless it is presented to him on an abacus.

The Tories could do it though. They are not afraid to be the baddies. They did it for 18 years, set up a very nice economy thank you very much and have watched while it has been systematically dismantled since 1997. Time to let them try again.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

True Colours

A few observations on Gordon Brown’s self-destruction earlier today:

His forced smile whilst listening to the woman, his on-mic remarks about her being a bigot and his botox apology were all more cringeworthy than watching an episode of The Office or Curb Your Enthusiasm.

“I misunderstood what she said” – so now Gordon is deaf as well as blind?

Are we all going to get a doorstep visit from the soon-to-be-former PM, apologising for his two-faced, mendacious treatment of the electorate?

Makes you realise that all those stories earlier in the year about bullying were spot on.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Dr Who and the Tories

No, not the next episode of the long-running (and long in the tooth) sci-fi series - I’m more of a Jon Pertwee/Tom Baker man - but a warning from the previous Dr Who, David Tennant, that a future Conservative government would be bad for the BBC.

The left-leaning Tennant is afraid that the BBC will be broken up and the cash used to fund commercial television. But what Tennant doesn’t understand is that the BBC is as big a waste of public money as any of the other 37 government departments. I have blogged before about the multiple, parallel news broadcasts and endless re-making of programmes that the BBC has already made several times before (usually lavish costume dramas).

The Beeb should not be immune from the cost-cutting that is needed to bring government spending under control. Indeed, I would have thought that the lefties would be delighted that the licence tax, sorry fee, was spread out amongst more recipients.

Now I know the polls are nonsense

A poll announced in today’s Torygraph claims that Gordon Brown, he of the deathbed grimace, has a more trusted smile than his would-be Prime Ministerial challengers.

Now, I am still having trouble with Nick Clegg suddenly being catapulted into the running as leader of the country, based on his performance in the two leaders’ debates (this is an election Britain, not the X-Factor), but I really struggle to fathom how anybody could misconstrue Brown’s rictus frown for anything other than a man with a bad case of constipation.

Then again, if the dimwitted respondents to these polls think that Nick Clegg should be Prime Minister, they will say anything to a pollster to raise a laugh.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Spot the difference

Tory potential Education Secretary and Edmund ("Osmond!!" - say it like Brian Blessed) Blackadder:

Eff All

“A future fair for all”, so says Labour’s alliterative election slogan.

To save everyone from the bother of having to wade through the non-document that is the Labour manifesto, I have a handy cut-out-and-keep summary:

Rebuild our economy: that we single-handedly destroyed through financial neglect and blind devotion to whatever the City did; the rebuilding will be financed by those least responsible for the destruction; those most responsible for the recession will receive bonuses and chairmanships of FTSE-100 companies, or in Geoff Hoon’s case, five grand a day for setting up meetings.

Reform and protect our public services: hire even more workshy layabouts that cannot get jobs in the private sector; pump billions more into making the government bigger and more expensive; and then act surprised when the country wakes up in 2015 to discover we have no other employer but HM Government.

Renew our politics: we’ve had 13 years of power with nothing to show apart from £165bn of debt, £900bn of unfinanced civil service pensions and some free porn for Jacqui Smith’s husband. The only renewal of politics the electorate wants is to see the back of inefficient, corrupt politicians.

At least Brown and Co are preparing for life after politics. As with many of the industries that have been forced to lay off workers who then find jobs in call centres, Gordon has been getting in some practice:

Fair for all? Eff all, more like.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Liberal Conditions

In a speech about the Tories’ potential post-election budget, Nick Clegg appears to have caught the Labour of disease of talking in "could" and "would" language. (For those who don’t know, Nick Clegg is the leader of the Liberal Democrats, a political party with as much chance of governing as my goldfish).

Clegg argues that the Conservatives would need to increase VAT to 20.5%, at a cost of £389 per family per year, to pay for other tax breaks that may (or may not) be introduced. Where the numbers are dreamed up is anybody’s guess, probably from financial genius and former paper-clip counter, Vince Cable.

Actually, increasing VAT is a good idea as it spreads the cost of taxation across all citizens, including those who don't or won’t work. It is also a tax you can choose not to pay, either by abstinence or by purchasing from a country with lower sales tax.

Nice shooting Nick, you got your foot first time.

Mr. Muscle

Another day, another pledge from the government: no increase in the basic rate of income tax. Aye, right, as they say up here. The famous Scottish double positive, which always means a negative.

I seem to remember this pledge from Labour before: now we have new tax rates, increased NI and stagnant personal allowances - all of which equal tax rises in all but name.

I also remember the "pledge" on introducing Proportional Representation in 1997 and the other one about an EU referendum in 2005.

Brown's pledges are similar to that of a popular cleaning product: can be wiped away and leave a nasty, unnatural smell.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

View to a kill

If looks could kill...

Adam Boulton was lucky there wasn't a Nokia handy for Gordo to fling at him.

Ordinary People

So, the man currently known as Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, has finally done the decent thing and handed in his 30 days notice to Her Maj. And rather than saying how he will turn the country into a safe place to live, with low taxation, efficient public services and a government that can be trusted, he has hit the trail by stating how “ordinary” he is.

He is an ordinary man from an ordinary town. Ok Gordo, if you are ordinary then you will have probably indulged in some of the following: drinking until you vomit, watching naked bodies on telly, driving too fast, staying up all night listening to loud music, taking an illegal substance, not handing in your homework on time, fiddling your expenses.

Apart from the last activity, Brown is far from ordinary: inability to apologise, stubbornness to the point of appearing to be a brick wall, a tendency to hide the truth behind statistics, failure to get on with his fellow MPs, selective view of the past, less than the average number of eyes. If that is ordinary, no wonder we are in a mess.

But I don’t want an ordinary person to lead the country. I want someone with a bit of character, vision, spirit, drive. A cross between Andy McNab, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Branson, with maybe a dash of Joanna Lumley to add sense and balance into the mix.

Brown is the last person to be allowed to run the country again. His brand of ordinariness has run the economy into the ground, saddled us with an immediate £170bn debt and a long term £900bn civil service pension deficit, and he has presided over an administration that has brought the whole business of politics into disrepute via expenses and lobbying scandals.

Time for an extraordinary approach.

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Mass Debate

I eschewed an episode of Top Gear on Monday night in favour of the “Chancellors’ Debate”, a televised argument between the current holder of the public purse and his two would-be successors. Well, I say two, actually there is only one.

Vince Cable, the self-titled Financial Genius, is alleged to have won the battle of the bean counters by virtue of his insightful commentary on the hindsight that he possesses. Cable produced applause from the audience every time he stated the obvious about house price inflation and easy credit. Unfortunately Vince, elections are not decided by clapometer, unless I missed a meeting. My former neighbour and I use to have conversations over the garden hedge about how unsustainable the economy was. But we were in no position to do anything about it. The Lib Dem treasury spokesman proved last night that his party has as much power as a flat double-A battery.

George Osborne, on the other hand, had Old Caterpillar Eyebrows on the ropes on a couple of occasions, eliciting such eloquent responses as “Er”, “Um” and the classics “the economy needs to be managed by people with experience” and “our economy is best placed to weather the financial crisis”, whilst glossing over the not insignificant matter of how he and his boss got us into the crisis in the first place through their inexperience and mismanagement.

Osborne is also the only one to have actually produced a concrete policy ahead of the election, which is the reversal of Darling’s planned National Insurance increase, a rise that will cost employees between £150 and £750 per year. Labour and the Lib-Dems say that the increase is needed – to fund Darling and Brown’s £178bn of debt, remember – and is not costed. Osborne retorts that the reverse will be funded from savings. I think that when the Tories finally get to see the books and the state of government on May 7th, they will find that they can fund this tax cut and many more from efficiency savings and cuts.

And not that Darling or Brown has ever worried about where their spending will be funded from. Billions thrown at failed banks, who have then rewarded themselves with 7-figure bonuses; billions thrown at two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but still not enough to fight the wars effectively; £12 billion on a failed IT system for the NHS; £10 billion on a vanity Olympics project. Who are Labour to preach on prudent economics?

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

What's Up Doc?

MPs are supposed to have learned their lessons from the expenses scandal, or so Gordon Brown keeps saying. But Stephen Byers and other MPs proved this weekend that they haven’t, as the stories surrounding the latest trousering scam highlight.

Not only are they constantly using inventive ways to fill their nose bags, but when they get caught, the excuse is always "but it's within the rules and I have done nothing wrong".

Don't they know the meaning of propriety?

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Watch your back, Darling

Rumours abound that miniature maniac Kim Jong Il has had his finance minister jailed and subsequently executed. This is because the unfortunate holder of the treasury office in North Korea could not implement the crazy currency plans of his boss, resulting in spiralling inflation. Sounds spookily familiar: out of leader dreams up an economic strategy that results in hardship and mountainous debt for his citizens.

All I can say is, if only we could adopt the same job recognition scheme in the UK…

Three – a magic number

The Red Rag today reported that government has spent nearly three-quarters of a billion pounds on internal re-organisations and renaming of departments. Which is £780 million pounds that wasn’t spent on defence capabilities in Iraq or Afghanistan, or new schools, or employing doctors and nurses, or keeping the streets safe.

But as we know from a couple of weeks ago, what can we expect from a former Chancellor and now Prime Minister who lied to the Chilcott enquiry about the level of funding to the military - he hasn't a clue how much money is being spent, or what on.

Now Brown says that maybe in 1 or 2 years after 2003, spending on defence was lower than he originally stated. In fact it was lower in three years, Gordon. Not only did he lie to Chilcott, but he can't even make a factually correct statement in his retraction of evidence.

And we wonder why the economy is up a certain creek without a certain implement when the man in charge can't even count up to 3?

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

How do you know the government is lying?

There were a couple of contradictory news items today that demonstrate the mendacity with which Labour will fight the election.

First, The Standard reported that Gordon Brown warned that the Conservative Party “could” cut funding to Sure Start centres to the tune of £200m, resulting in a 20% reduction in services. As with the greens and their passive conditionals, Labour thinks nothing of using conjecture to create a negative yarn. The Tories have said no such thing, but why let that get in the way of a good scare story.

And then in The Times, there is a commentary piece on how citizens are being means-tested at one Sure Start centre and rejected on the basis of perceived class. Families who are deemed middle class do not meet the “reach” of Sure Start in Hackney and are being turned away. So we have a situation where taxpayers who fund this scheme are not allowed to make use of it.

To use a conditional of my own, what if we did away with all the outreach officers who make up these nonsensical rules and reduced the astronomic £183k salary of the Learning Trust’s chief executive? Maybe that would allow a fair system for all and not just Labour’s chosen few.

Cutting costs in public services does not have to mean reducing the quality, level or “reach” of the services; but it can remove unnecessary staff, red tape and bureaucracy from the equation. Who knows, it “could” even mean that 20% more Sure Start centres can open.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Laugh and a half

Spot the difference:

And also:

Give me a break

Actors in the “webuyanycar” and “gocompare” adverts – you need to take a long, hard look at yourselves in the mirror. You are at the bottom rung of the thespian ladder. And the foot of that ladder is just below the deepest part of the London Underground.

Mr. Brown goes to war

So now we know that Gordon Brown thinks it was right for the UK to help the US to invade Iraq. Whilst I could wobble on about how us standing shoulder to shoulder with the Americans has not been reciprocated over The Falkland Islands, I won’t, as that is not the subject of this rant.

What miffed me about Brown’s appearance at the Chilcott enquiry – apart from the fact that the whole process is a waste of taxpayers’ money – is that the PM kept going on about how much extra money he had given the armed forces. At no point did any of the lame ducks who ask the questions think to ask if it was actually enough. Brown, as Chancellor, may well have given the armed forces more cash each year, but this in no way took account of the fact that the military was involved in two wars more than they had been since 2003. Even before Bliar made his pact with that old devil George Dubya Bush, the generals, air vice marshals and sea lords were struggling to finance the operations they were already involved in.

But the most astounding revelation – and which has not been commented on anywhere in the media – is that Brown handed over billions to the chiefs in charge of the war, and then blamed these same people for not procuring equipment quickly enough or in sufficient quantities. Brown doled out a staggering amount of money but did not bother to ask what it was going to be spent on. And this is the financial genius that is running the country.

That just about sums up Labour’s approach to economics: screw as much money out of the taxpayer as possible; then throw the money at every available cause without bothering to check that the money is going to be spent sensibly, or whether the outlay is required in the first place.

For “Snatch” Land Rovers, also read the £12.7bn NHS computer system, the Olympics, £178bn on bank bailouts and quantitative easing, high-speed rail, Trident 2 and anything else that Labour can financially mismanage.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Because we're worth it

MPs are to get a 1.5% pay rise, taking their salaries to just shy of £65,000. To predictable outcry from some sectors of the civil service, the increase has been denounced, on the basis that if the average government worker is receiving nothing extra, why should MPs. Which is fair enough, until you realise that the 1.5% is based on an average of 15 other public sector groups’ increase.

But why should anyone in government, MPs or otherwise, be getting any pay rise? When most private sector workers are receiving nothing extra, or in some cases taking pay cuts or enforced reductions in hours, the government sector should move away from their position of having an automatic right to annual salary uplifts.

The next government needs to break this cycle of yearly rises without any associated improvement in productivity. But this is not helped when the MPs themselves feel that they are also justified in getting a raise, and the case is also subverted when party leaders try to water down proposals to reform changes to politicians’ expenses.

Friday, 26 February 2010

Bad Broadcasting Continues

News today that the BBC is going to cease most of its “yoof” TV and radio broadcasting. All the programmes that have had millions spent on them in the past 5-10 years are deemed to have failed and will be closed. No news on whether the execs that green-lighted these doomed experiments will also be axed, but knowing government departments, of which the Beeb is one, they will be moved onto different projects where they can continue to waste our money.

How about trimming fat from BBC1 and 2, by reducing the reliance on "reality" TV and cookery programmes? How about rationalising the ridiculous amount of news broadcasting that happens simultaneously across TV and radio channels, but with different presenters, crew and studios?

The report also states that the BBC will spend only a fixed percentage of the licence fee on sports programmes. This is a coded message to say that they Beeb won’t be bidding to broadcast popular sports any time soon, but will continue to waste money on non-sports, such as darts and snooker, which are pastimes you partake in whilst supping beer, not athletic spectacles.

More importantly, can the licence fee be reduced in line with the reduction in services?

Thursday, 25 February 2010

The changing face of Climate Change

The backlash against the Great Global Warming Swindle grows with the news that the data that underpins the warmists’ theories is to be independently reviewed.

Whilst this is good news, I seriously doubt that the review will be very independent, and will probably follow the same line that has been previously adopted whereby someone else from the inner circle of the ecomentalists is wheeled in to “review” the data and draw the same conclusion.

The review is not due to be released until 2013 or 2014. In the meantime, can all the policies and taxes that have been dreamed up in the name of “fighting climate change” be put on the scrapheap? The EU’s Emissions Trading Scam, sorry, Scheme, springs to mind. As does the Labour government’s obsession with raising fuel and motoring duties in line with CO2 emissions. The UK should also stop subsidising alternative energy supplies until they are proven to produce electricity at the same rate and for the same cost as traditional energy sources.

None of this will happen of course: even though the game is up for the climate change proponents, politicians at all levels and in all territories are in such thrall to their nonsense non-science that nothing will be done to reduce the tax-raising opportunities presented by CO2 emissions.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Once, twice, three times a bailout

The Tories’ latest attempt at making them the least popular government in waiting is to sell us back shares in the banks that were bailed out in 2008 and 2009.

We saved and invested in these banks all our lives; through Brown and Darling’s largesse and our tax, these same banks have been given billions to keep the banking system afloat; and now George Osborne would like to offer us shares in the identical institutions that we already own via Labour’s desperate attempt to resuscitate the economy.

Whilst ducking a mobile phone slung by his grumpy boss, Lord Mandlespin predictably announced that the Tory plan was “incoherent”. I wouldn’t call it that, but if Osborne does manage to persuade anyone to take up his offer, he should get himself a job as Director of Sand Sales, Middle East division.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Gordon – get a grip

Another government minister has weighed into the row over John Terry, England’s former Wendyball captain and alleged philanderer. This time, Mike O’Brien, taking time out from wasting £20bn of our tax on the 2012 Olympics, has called on the England Wendyball manager, Fabio Madeupnamio, to rethink his “crass” decision to sack the skipper.

Labour is totally split over this issue: first we have Gerry "Expenses" Sutcliffe calling for Terry's head; now the Sports minister is demanding the opposite.

Gordon Brown needs to show some leadership in the Commons to correctly communicate the government's policy on footballers' private lives. Forget the Tories’ indecision over tax breaks for married couples or whether to cut public services this year or next. The UK is rudderless on this crucial subject and needs direction.

The PM must do this as a matter of urgency, as it is obviously a much bigger issue than £178bn of public debt, wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, a creaking transport system, inadequate health and education systems and 4m unemployed citizens.

Cash for snow

My favourite raiser of blood pressure, the London Evening Standard, today carries the news that £20m of damage has been caused to the roads by the recent cold snap. I wondered how soon it would be before the taxpayer was landed for the bill for the snow.

We have been paying billions in fuel duty and carbon taxes for the past 20 years. This was all done in the name of saving the planet from CO2 emissions. Since this myth has now been dispelled, there should be plenty of money in the coffers to deal with a real climate threat, rather than one inferred from a dodgy computer simulation.

Except there isn't. Because it's all been spent on subsidising wind farms, paying carbon credits to the EU and employing thousands of civil servants to “manage” government’s fight against “climate change”.

Well, here you go: the climate has changed. It’s got nothing to do with CO2, and the predicted rise in temperature has actually seen a gradual drop over the past twelve years. Spend what we've already given you in green taxes on a genuine weather threat. Any attempt by politicians to strong-arm more money out of us to pay for the weather should be met with appropriate resistance.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Stop pulling our leg(g)s

Sir Thomas Legg’s review of the MPs expenses system was unleashed on a mostly disinterested world this morning. This is the 3rd review into MPs expenses, after the ineffective one by the former disgraced speaker and the expensive KPMG one.

Between them, some MPs are being asked to repay just over a £1m in wrongly-claimed expenses. But I still don't see any MPs being charged for fraud, for that is what they are guilty of in a lot of cases. And I also don't see any change of the rules that will prevent them from nosebagging their way through the next parliament.

I also spend 4 or 5 days away from home, which is my choice. I get back in expenses only what I spend. I do not get a flat at my employer's expense; I do not get a free plasma telly; I do not get my garden at home tended to while I am away; and I don't get free porn, unlike Jacqui Smith's husband.

The whole system needs to be brought up to date and come under the scrutiny of the taxman, who would not tolerate any of the exaggerated claims we have seen in the past 18 months.
Despite what the denizens of SW1 think, MPs are not special. They have proven that consistently during this episode.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010


Ok, so now we know what Apple has been doing in its labs for the last twelve months. Whereas the trend in technology since about 1950 has been towards miniaturisation, Apple has gone the other way and taken its svelte Touch product and grown it by about 600%. Step forward the “iPad”. Very original name, guys. Dom Jolly and his comedy mobile obviously had a huge influence on the design.

Re-launching a product that his company already produces for a cheaper price and in a much handier size, Apple supremo Steve Jobs claims his new toy is the third way between a mobile phone and a laptop. Which it certainly is for Apple, as it will cost a third more than any comparable device on the market.

Jobs described netbook PCs as “cheap laptops”, unlike the iPad which is a “very expensive iPod”. Just goes to show, if you put a fruit-based logo on a product and prefix its name with an “i” you can convince the world to open its wallet faster than a sprinter on steroids. Or in other words, put two things together that no-one has ever done before, and some schmuck is sure to buy it, in this case "i" and a tablet computer.

Wish I’d bought Apple shares in 1993…

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Recession is in recession

So, it’s over. The recession that has officially lasted 18 months (but has in reality been around for about 3 years) is now at an end. Last quarter saw a 0.1% growth in the UK economy.

0.1% growth? The only things I see growing are my council tax bill, utilities bills, fuel bills and shopping bills. So yes, some corporations are raking it in and "growing".

But me? My salary is unchanged. I still have to pay ever increasing bills. On top of that, the government keeps coming up with ever more inventive ways of increasing taxes and duties to pay back the £178bn of debt it has created and to fund £900bn of civil service pensions, not to mention Jacqui Smith's husband's porn habit.

Doubtless Brown and Darling will wobble on about how they have successfully steered us through the murky financial waters and that the Promised Land is now on the horizon. The fact that we shouldn’t have gone through the waters in the first place and shouldn’t have stayed in them for so long will soon be forgotten in a blizzard of good news spun out by this discredited government.

A statistical growth means nothing, especially an insignificant one of a tenth of a single percentage point. The country will not start to feel more confident until there is a change of Prime Minister, either from the incumbent party or preferably from a different one.

Good Service

“There is a good service operating on all London Underground lines”. This is an announcement I hear about ten times a day on the tube.

No there isn’t. There is a normal service operating. What LU means is that there aren’t any leaves on the line, snow or striking tube drivers. No trains have hit scaffolding at Aldgate. No-one has pulled a passenger emergency alarm at Baker Street. None of the customers have decided to use a Circle Line train as a one-way ticket to heaven (or hell).

A good service would be one where trains arrive every minute, there is always a free seat, there are no rabid, ranting lunatics in the same carriage and where there isn’t a chav playing crap music through the tinny speaker of their mobile phone.

Thursday, 21 January 2010


I was under the impression that the colossal amount of money that I pay in council tax was used in part to pay for streets to be cleaned. Apparently not. As this government dreams up ever more fanciful ways to extract tax, MPs are now proposing that chewing gum, sweets and fast food be levied with additional duty in order to fund the cleaning up of the resultant litter.

This is typical New Labour thinking: rather than tackle the underlying problem, which is that there are elements of society who think that it is acceptable to drop litter on the street, let’s slap a tax on the affected products and dress it up as a solution. This also means that the Neanderthals who are prone to throwing rubbish onto the streets will have even less of a worry, because some government-employed minion will come along and clean up the mess.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Flippin’ Marvellous

News just in that after several inquiries and the expenditure of a few million pounds on reports, the proposals to revamp the MPs expenses system will be watered down to the point where almost no changes will be made whatsoever.

This includes the practice of being able to “flip” between their main constituency home and their rented accommodation in London, which means that duck houses and expensive plasma tellies will still be paid for at our expense. Also, MPs will be able to keep any profits from selling a taxpayer-funded second home. And Jacqui Smith’s husband will be able to pull his plonker to his heart’s content, safe in the knowledge that it won’t be costing him a penny.

So much for MPs listening to the electorate’s concerns. Their day of reckoning is coming soon.