Sunday, March 29, 2009

Mr. and Mrs. Stiff

The Mail is reporting that Richard Timney, Jacqui Smith's letter-writing husband, used her expenses to pay for whacking material. Several things:

1. What the hell is he doing? At what point when submitting the receipt to claim back the money did he think 'yes, Twat Invaders 5 is precisely what the Additional Costs Allowance is for'.

2. In order for the Mail to find this out, the receipts/bills must have had details of the films on them. What sort of rubbish porn channel is he watching where they print the name of the films you watch on your bill? I remember many years ago when I organised a stag party, the bill I got for the evening - which mostly involved strippers and booze - said all I'd bought was a big pile of pizzas.

3. Jacqui Smith has said she will pay the money back, though is still oddly quiet about all that dosh she took to pay for her 'second home' in Redditch. That said, I suppose that fact that he's bashing the bishop night after night suggests she does spend a lot of time at her sister's house after all.

4. Why can't the BBC report this story properly? At the moment they're in damage limitation mode, and lead with the headline 'Smith 'sorry' for expenses claim', rather than the more accurate 'Jacqui Smith sorry for husband wanking with public money'. My first glance at the headline made me think she was apologising for the second home fiasco, not that it was a new story. They then lead with this guff:

"The Home Secretary is to pay back parliamentary allowances claimed for pay-per-view television services, reportedly including two adult films. Jacqui Smith said she "mistakenly" claimed for the TV package while billing for an Internet connection."

It gets the paying back bit in first, followed by her excuse. It completely accepts her nonsense lie that she accidentally bought this porn while paying for her Internet connection. The only thing that was accidental about all this is that her husband got caught.

Update: Back in November 2008 I posted a topic titled 'Jacqui Isn't Getting Any'. How terrifically prophetic of me.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Inauspicious Start For Budget G20

Believe it or not, this is a real photo of Brown. Quite where the Associated Press took it I have no idea.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Tory Defector Uses Same Excuse

Back in June last year, Les Byrom - the former leader of Southport Conservatives - quit the party and joined Labour. I blogged on it here, and at the time, he blamed the party's: "...unprincipled approach to policy-making, determined less by what is right for the country than what will produce the maximum short-term partisan advantage."

And in response to that, Hazel Blears said this, welcoming Byrom to the party:

"Here is another top Tory who has seen through David Cameron's shallow salesmanship and said 'enough is enough'."

As Iain Dale pointed out, the real reason for this defection turned out to be that Byrom was going to have a nice little earner taken away from him. Now, why am I mentioning this you might ask? Because Terry Hipsey, the Tory leader of Thurrock Council, has just quit and joined Labour, saying:

"I have resigned as leader of Thurrock Council, and have left the Conservative party to become a Labour councillor. This last week has shown some of the worst examples of David Cameron’s attempt to respond to the recession."

This is pretty much a combination of the lines Blears and Byrom came up with last year, so obviously there's a file of things Labour likes to get defectors to say. These days it's probably a very dusty file, but there we go. But that's not the end - no sir! For you see, Hispey goes on to say:

“I’ve spent the last two-and-a-half years trying to keep this dysfunctional Tory group together. Having some time to reflect, it has become clear this group and the Conservative Party are incapable of making the changes necessary to take Thurrock forward."

A bit pissy, don't you think? And surely, as the group leader, he should take responsibility if he can't sort these problems out? Moreover, councils are gearing up for their 'annual council' meetings at the moment. These should take place for most of them within the next month or two, and signal the start of the new council year. And as part of the new council year, groups within the councils will hold their own elections - electing leaders, deputy leaders, and things like that. I'd put money on someone running against him, a massive fallout within the group, or him believing he'd lose his job as the real reason for Hipsey's defection.

Update: I swear this little bit wasn't in the article when I first saw it. Smoke and fire, and all that:

"In a press conference last week Mr Hipsey said he had no intention of quitting and rumours that he was being forced out by Conservative central office were unfounded."

Facebook Farce

I'm sure you're aware of this idea the government is floating, whereby they will keep a database of people's friends on social networking sites - like Facebook. For more detail check out Shane Greer, who has a good post on the surveillance/big brother angle. However, I'd just like to point something else out to the idiots in the Home Office who came up this idea.

You see, even aside from the egregious invasion of privacy issues, this idea was flawed from the moment it hit the press. Because anyone stupid enough to join the 'North London Jihad' group or whatever, now won't do it because they know the government will be watching them. The government has just warned the dumbest fuckers around that they're going to be watching one of the places where they could get together and discuss their moronic ideas. Therefore, in the unlikely event that anyone was ever going to use Facebook for 'suspicious' reasons like this, they now won't and will be driven further underground where they'll be harder to catch.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Are The BBC Even Trying?

This was the BBC front page at 4pm this afternoon:
The BBC has been milking the 45% tax issue for days, so now the Tories have suggested that an IHT cut might not be possible - though they still hope to do it - in the dire economic circumstances they'll inherit, they're going into bias overdrive. It's almost as though the BBC has forgotten that the 45% tax rate is a Labour policy, and that Labour (badly) tried to copy the Tories on IHT.

Tony McNobby, the man who claims Parliamentary allowances for living with his parents, has been shoved off the front page.

Gordon Brown is apparently 'leading' the tributes to Jade Goody, who died this morning. What a brave, inspiring figure he is. I'm glad he's here to guide us through the recession after he so bravely and nimbly jumped onto this populist bandwagon to take the reins himself!

Labour thickie Angela Eagle weighs in with:

"What is clear is that the more Conservative economic policies come under scrutiny the more they fall apart."

Which is a sentence so retarded I don't actually know what it means. How does scrutiny have anything to do with it? They're worried they won't be able to cut taxes because Labour and your beloved Gordon Brown have fucked the economy up so much there's no fucking money left - anywhere, at all - to pay for it.

McNumpty's Second Home

Tony McNulty lives 3 miles from Westminster in Hammersmith. His second home is 11 miles away from Westminister in his Harrow constituency. Both homes are closer to his place of work than I am to the station I drive to every morning (13 miles) to commute to work from.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Only 15 Months Left To Rig The Election

I'm sure you will have noticed this article on LabourList by Kristofor Brown. In the article - entitled 'Time is Running Out for PR' - he says:

"Time is running out. The possibility of the government changing the voting system before the next election is looking less likely every day. And holding a referendum knowing that it could not act on the outcome before an election would merely make the government look even more inept. Does this mean we must simply wait for an election that may well bring about another Conservative government with no interest whatsoever in electoral reform?"

Now, doesn't it seem strange that a Labour supporter, after over 12 years of his party being in power, is suddenly calling for electoral reform? FPTP seemed okay when Tony Blair was raking in majorities of 150+, but now Labour are looking more and more likely to lose the next election PR is suddenly the way forward. Kristofor's thinking is clearly that Labour should bring in PR, make the Lib Dems happy by doing so, and form an unholy alliance of ineptness with them to keep the Conservatives out of power for generations.

Labour's Britain - A Banana Republic for the 21st Century

Bullying Cannot Be Prioritised

Dizzy has a fantastic post here, where he draws attention to government plans to force schools to keep a record of bullying incidents. He quotes Alan Campbell in Hansard saying:

"The Government intend to introduce a new statutory duty on schools to record all incidents of bullying between pupils. We are planning to launch a full public consultation in May on draft regulations, and will be consulting on making it compulsory for incidents of bullying to be recorded by type, as related to race, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexuality etc."

Dizzy has correctly noted the controlling/surveillance aspect of this story. However, I take another issue with it as well. Without wanting to sound like an episode of Trisha; I was bullied at school. And I wasn't bullied because of my race, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexuality or anything like that; it was because I was a quiet kid and the dick in my school liked to pick on me. No provocation; it was simply because he was a dick. Now, what sort of 'type' is this? It doesn't fit into any of Campbell's categories, and I'd be amazed if 'bully is a dick' is what he meant by 'etc'. I'm no fan of this initiative at all. I think it's nannying, bureaucratic, and pointless. However, if you're going to keep tabs on bulling, at least have the fucking sense to realise that the majority of it is caused by bullies being unpleasant individuals, and not because of some neat little categories you can apply to the victim. All this does is give the impression - like hate crime laws - that bullying based on race, religion, ethnicity, gender and sexuality is somehow 'worse' than bullying that isn't based on those things.

Monday, March 16, 2009

£3 Isn't The Point

We can now add Andy Burnham to the always increasing list of Ministers who seem to be a bit thick. In response to David Cameron's suggestion that the BBC should freeze the licence fee, Burnham said:

"[He's] planning for today's headlines instead of the future of the BBC. [If he] really wants to help families he should back our cut of £5 a week off the average household VAT bill rather than using the BBC as a political football in this way."

First of all, that cut in the VAT bill isn't free money; it is going to be paid for by the 0.5% increase in National Insurance - among other things - that's going to kick in next year. Don't be fooled into thinking you're not 'buying now and paying later', as it were.

But secondly, and more importantly, Cameron knows the amount he's talking about is piffle, as do 99% of the rest of us. Nobody is going to change their vote on the back of Cameron's pledge to put enough back in their pocket for a pint of lager. £3 on its own is nothing. However, this is a sign that Cameron won't simply adopt the lazy doctrine that every organisation in the public sector always needs more money each year. The increments are always small; the TV licence fee going up by £3, your council tax going up by 2-3%. But the significant thing is that they all add up and, year on year, we are told these increases are entirely justifiable and necessary. What Cameron has said today is that public bodies need to play their part during the recession, and that automatic increases in funding are not theirs by right. Nick Robinson sums it up well when he says:

" is a signal to the public sector that nothing should be taken for granted and that he, David Cameron, is willing to say no. If he's ready to freeze the licence fee, this question is raised: what is his intention for government spending for which he is directly responsible?"

This point seems to have eluded Burnham. Maybe he was too busy putting on his make-up?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

No Celebrities Here

"I think we're moving from this period when, if you like, celebrity matters, when people have become famous for being famous. I think you can see that in other countries too - people are moving away from that to what lies behind the character and the personality." - Gordon Brown in the Guardian, April 2007.

1. Gordon Brown - Prime Minister
2. Fearne Cotton - DJ and TV Presenter
3. Ronan Keating - Pop Star
4. Ben Shephard - TV Presenter
5. Chris Moyles - DJ and Presenter
6. Denise Van Outen - TV Presenter and Stage Actress
7. Alesha Dixon - Pop Star and TV Personality
8. Cheryl Cole - Pop Star and Footballer's Wife
9. Kimberley Walsh - Pop Star
10. Gary Barlow - Pop Star and Songwriter
11. Sarah Brown - Not A Prop

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Red... Nose?

The photo below comes from Number 10's official photo page, and is said to show Number 10 'celebrating' Red Nose Day by displaying a large red nose on the door.
Now, I don't know about you; but if I were looking at a door with the characteristics of a face - or indeed an entire body - on it, that's not where I'd put the nose. This looks like more Red Hernia Day.

Update: Having looked at this photo again, I'm pretty darn sure that nose is just Photoshopped -and not very well - onto the original picture. How brilliantly Labour; Photoshopping support for something into photographs.

Friday, March 13, 2009

One Law For Them...

I left work in North London at around 8.45pm yesterday evening, and got on one of the trains I take to get home. As I got on the train, three British Transport Policemen got on behind me, in full gear and everything.

I sat down, while they stood in the area between the doors. I had my back to them so I couldn't see their faces, but I overheard the following conversation that one of the policemen was having on his mobile - his lines only, obviously:

"Where are ya?"
"We're on the fuckin' train!"
"We got on at... yeah, where are you?"
"You fuckin' dick... you fuckin' mong!"
[to the other police] "He got on the wrong fuckin' train!"

Now, can you imagine what would happen if the police had heard you saying the same into your mobile? This was a train filled with people, including one or two children and several elderly folk. I could imagine at least a caution, perhaps worse.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

How He's Paying For The Bailouts

This story has just gone up at the Times website:

"The government is to cut the national speed limit from 60mph to 50mph on most of Britain’s roads, enforced by a new generation of average speed cameras. The reduction, to be imposed as early as next year, will affect two thirds of the country’s road network."

This story interests me for two reasons. First of all, it nicely distracts angry people from the fact that the economy is going to shit for a few days - which Gordon Brown will like. And secondly; speed cameras on two thirds of the country's roads - are they fucking mental?

Jim Fitzpatrick, Roads Minister and MP for Poplar and Canning Town - which doesn't have any roads - said:

“There will be some in the driving lobby who think this is a further attack and a restriction on people’s freedom. But when you compare that to the fact we are killing 3,000 people a year on our roads, it would be irresponsible not to do something about it. I’m sure that the vast majority of motorists would support the proposals."

Let's be clear, this has everything to do with nannying, raising money, and restricting freedoms; and fuck all to do with road safety. Let's not forget that, despite the huge explosion in speed cameras and the lowering of speed limits right across the country, the number of people killed on the roads each year has always hovered around 3,000.

Also, like everything the government does, this is going to be completely arbitrary, take years to implement, and go massively over budget in setting up. But the real aim is clear; to get cars off the road by stopping us driving anywhere quickly, and to raise a load of cash in the process. I don't advocate speeding, nor do I do it - I have a clean driving licence. But I know precisely the sort of roads they are going to change down to 50, when they should be changing them up to 70.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Knowing The Troublemakers

As you will probably remember, a couple of weeks ago this website was launched by the government. I blogged about it here, and focused on how it was clearly selling Labour's message with public funds. In order to find out just how much of our money they wasted on this particular venture, I sent a Freedom of Information request to the Cabinet Office - who are responsible for the site. I used my e-mail address for this blog, and signed it 'T. Raven".

Two days later I received a response, which included the following:

"The ICO have stated that a public authority is entitled to treat as invalid a request where the real name of the applicant has not been used. Your request appears to have been made by “The Raven”. The ICO have stated that use of the phrase “the name of the applicant” in section 8 (1) (b) indicates that the real name of the applicant should be used when requesting information and not any other name, for example, a pseudonym. When a public authority receives a request from a person using an obvious pseudonym, there is no obligation to comply with the request, therefore the Cabinet Office will not be taking your request any further."

I went and checked this guidance, and sure enough:

This guidance is new; the end of the document says it was published on January 9th 2009. I have certainly obtained information via anonymous requests in the past, and yet all of a sudden there's a new rule saying that's not allowed. Obviously nobody told this to the Health Protection Agency, whose FoI guidance still states:

"Under the laws that govern access to information, anyone can ask for any information. A request may come from a member of the public, a writer, pressure group, a member of staff or a solicitor. The person making the request is not required to tell you why they want it, what they want it for or who they are, so requests may also be anonymous. All requests must be treated equally regardless of who is making the request."

It is important to state at this stage that while the Information Commissioner's Office is technically independent, it is actually sponsored by the Ministry of Justice. Could it be that the government just got fed up with people using their law to ask pesky questions? This interpretation completely goes against the spirit of the law. By demanding to know who is wanting information, this can give the public body clues as to why they want it; something the FoI Act says we don't have to disclose.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

A Waldorf Salad - With Extra Twat

Aside from the fact that he's a nasty little class warrior with bags of chips hanging from his armpits, I could never quite get my head around why Derek Simpson was so keen to rush to Michael Martin's defence over his expenses. Now this story in the Mail makes it a lot clearer:

"One of the leaders of Britain's largest trade union has enjoyed the use of a £399-a-night hotel suite within yards of his office - to save a 35-minute journey to his £800,000 grace-and-favour home.

Derek Simpson, 64, the joint leader of Unite and a leading critic of 'fat-cat' banking bosses, has spent nights at the five-star Waldorf Hilton hotel in London, just 600 yards from his office.

The union has now confirmed that Mr Simpson used the hotel, and astonishingly has justified it by claiming that staying at the Waldorf was vital to his status as a union leader. Mr Simpson's performance would be undermined if 'the union prioritised cheapness of accommodation above appropriate facilities and location'."

On one level I don't care about this very much. Yes it's true that Labour has given plenty of money to the Unions over the years, but in essence all Simpson is wasting is the money of other Unite members. So in some respects it's a good thing that it makes him look like a dick to the people who pay his gigantic salary with their own wages. But what it really shows is how much of a hypocrite he is, because you could bet money on him kicking up a fuss if a Tory did this - probably even if they paid for it out of their own pocket. Incidentally, I had to fight tooth and nail to get my employer to pay for a £90 hotel room which I had to pay for because they made me stay so late I missed my last train home - for my 140-minute commute. So not only is Derek Simpson a hypocrite; not only is he a petty class warrior; he's also a little pussy who can't stomach minuscule train journeys back to his gigantic mansion.