Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Ironing Is Delicious

Xiamen University - where the Mirror reports learned scholar and academic John Prescott is to become a guest professor on climate change - has as its motto 'Pursue Excellence, Strive for Perfection'.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Darling's Struggling Spokesman

Hot on the heels of Kevan Jones's denial that wasn't really a denial, the Chancellor has got himself in a spot of bother. The Mail reports:

"Labour's fragile summer truce over Gordon Brown's leadership was at breaking point last night after Alistair Darling was accused of launching a scathing attack on the Prime Minister.

According to sources present, the Chancellor declared: 'I am trying to talk sense into that man. He just doesn't get it --going on about "Tory cuts" is not going to make an impact on the electorate.

The Mail on Sunday has been told the Chancellor privately vowed to 'talk sense into that man' as he condemned him for losing the battle with David Cameron over public finances."

Darling's spokesman is quoted as saying: "I simply do not believe that Alistair has spoken in those terms." This is not a denial, and either suggests that the spokesman doesn't talk to Darling - if he did, he'd know what Darling actually said - or he does not believe Darling said it in a Victor Meldrew sense.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Kevan Jones Issues Non-Denial Denial

Guido and a few newspapers have been carrying a story that someone inside the Government is trying to smear General Sir Richard Dannatt, seemingly in revenge for his highlighting of poor troop conditions and equipment problems. Guido has put the blame squarely on Kevan Jones - Brown lickspittle and Minister for Veterans.

The BBC are now reporting that Jones has issued a denial, saying it is "a silly season story", and that:

"General Dannatt and I have worked very closely on a number of personnel related issues, because we both care deeply about service men and women.

"I look forward to continuing our working relationship with Gen Dannatt, both now as Chief of the General Staff and beyond into his retirement."

Except that's not really a denial. If he wanted to deny it he would say something about it not being 'true', or it being a 'lie'. The way his statement has been worded does not actually indicate that what has been said is false - simply that Jones considers the story silly.

Perhaps the real treat of the BBC article though is this section:

"But the BBC has established that Labour peer Lord Foulkes has submitted parliamentary questions about Gen Dannatt's expenses which he wants the MoD to answer during the summer recess.

In particular, he wants information on how often the general has used a helicopter for travel within the UK."

This effectively confirms that someone in the Government is actively trying to dig up dirt on Dannatt. And it makes Jones's denial look even weaker - which is certainly saying something.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The DSFC Isn't Even Trying

The BBC have a story discussing the Conservative plans to alter the way school league tables work; granting fewer points to schools where pupils pick 'soft' subjects, and preventing schools from trying to cram pupils into the lower end of the A*-C bracket. They are good, sensible, proposals - read the article for more. The DSFC has issued a statment to rebutt the allegations that there are 'soft' courses:

"We simply don't recognise the labels 'soft' or 'hard' A-levels - all subjects are rigorously measured against each other to maintain standards, overseen by Ofqual."

The rather unfortunate thing being that the BBC article itself contains the following:

"Critics say practical qualifications, such as cake decoration, pottery and flower arranging are being given equivalent value to traditional A-levels.

One example given included a course in tanning treatments which was worth 45 points in school league table scores - the same as an A grade in one of the four units that make up an A-level."

So you can either chomp your way through Great Expectations and half of Henry V, or learn how to turn on a sunbed and how long you should toast each side. No soft subjects here, no sir.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

How Did I Miss This?

A story in the Mail that's a couple of days old; we officially have a 'Dance Tsar'.

Not much to add to that - just let in sink in yourselves. And be sure to check out the video of Dr. 'Eyelashes' Burnham; I particularly like the bit towards the end when he says that many people with depression just need to do exercise to make themselves feel better.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Ainsworth Has No Shame

In an interview quoted by the Telegraph, Bob Ainsworth hides behind a veneer of patriotism to sneer at those who question our tactics in Afghanistan. Some choice quotes:

"This sense of purpose and momentum has not translated to the home front in the way that it might have."

First of all, don't you dare try to suggest that people don't support the troops themselves. That is not what is happening. What people are seeing is coffins coming back on an almost daily basis, filled with men often barely out of their teens. People are lining the streets in their thousands to pay tribute to these men. What so many object to is the reason why those men are in coffins; because you've given them vehicles that don't protect them against bombs, in a country where pretty much all the roads are covered in bombs.

"Some in the UK believe the fight is not worth it."

Maybe so, but they're entitled to an opinion. Not everyone has to agree with what intellectual titan Bob Ainsworth thinks. I myself think it probably is worth the fight. But it would help if our troops were properly equipped. There's a difference between something being worth a fight and something not being worth a slaughter.

"This defeatism has been exacerbated by political arguments about British troop levels, vehicles and helicopters that often misunderstand the nature of coalition warfare."

Don't you tell us we don't understand warfare when it's blatantly obvious that you barely understand tying shoelaces. Here's a reminder of you not knowing where our troops are, or indeed where they are going - so don't lecture us. Asking legitimate questions about our troop-to-helicopter ratio, our lack of bomb-proof vehicles, and our general equipment is not 'political argument'; it's a matter of major national importance.

We can support the troops without supporting the Government. We can question how well the Government provides for our troops without being against the mission goals. And we can take pride in our armed forces without moustachioed gits with double-digit IQs telling us to do so.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Hazel's Highway Code

The story of Hazel Blears getting her tires slashed and windscreen smashed has done the rounds already, so I'm not going to cover old ground. But what I would like to know is how on earth she thinks this car is acceptably parked. From this picture in the Mail, you can see it's jutting out at the rear end, it's on a double yellow line, and - if you look at the video on that Mail page - you'll see it's awfully close to a junction. Labour MPs can't even park properly; no wonder they can't run the country.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Policy Failure Welcomed By Lefties

In a move which suggests he's now the boss of pretty much everyone, Peter Mandelson has outlined a new education policy - one which discriminates against people with reasonable lives. Yes, it may soon be Government policy to artifically boost the grades of students from poorer and working class backgrounds, to ensure that universities have a proper spread across the social spectrum. Never mind ability, talent or commitment; the most important things you may soon need to get into university are a father with a flat cap and a charlady for a mother.

Also, this policy is further proof - as if we needed any more - that Labour has failed to level the educational playing field as they said they would. If there weren't still shithole areas with awful schools then this policy wouldn't be necessary. As sorry as I am for pupils with little choice but to attend those schools, and as unacceptable as it is for such schools to still exist, an additional wrong of fiddling the system in this fashion is just not acceptable. It's unfair to those it disadvantages, and patronising to those it is supposed to benefit. Furthermore, aren't Oxford and Cambridge going to be delighted to have students who have just scraped Cs trying to get to grips with their incredibly challenging courses? They'd have to lower their academic standards, which would then bring down the reputation of said universities - and others.

The BBC - in Pravda mode - boasts that: "Campaigners have welcomed an idea to give poorer students a two grade 'head start' to help them get places at the leading universities". The campaign group in question is Million+ which, as you can see, is a think tank/pressure group with a membership comprised of former polytechnics and new universities. In other words, a hotbed of trendy lefty thinking agrees with a policy right out of the Soviet playbook.

This policy is an absolute disaster waiting to happen. It shows how spectacularly Labour's educational reforms have failed, and that they're now resorting to desperate tactics to further their social engineering goals. It will undermine the educational standards of our best universities, cheapen their degrees, and will piss off an awful lot of people in the process.

Update - some excellent thoughts on this from Constantly Furious.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Gordon's Volunteering Questions

No doubt you will have seen that our dear leader plans to grace the presence of some lucky do-gooders, and do a week of voluntary work during the summer break. But I have some questions for him:

If you were so worried about it being seen as a publicity stunt, why did you allow the information to seep out, and then confirm it? When Johnny Depp gave £1 million to Great Ormond Street and dressed up as Jack Sparrow for he sick kids he just did it, and the information slowly came out. He didn't issue press releases or whinge about it being seen as a publicity stunt. He did something nice, and eventually we heard about it. You're telling us you're doing something nice in advance, while expressing disappointment that we know about it.

If you are doing anything involving children or vulnerable adults, I trust you have had a CRB check and that everything is in order? I also trust that you waited your turn, and weren't branded with anything nasty like these poor people.

Are you doing anything involving phones? Because if you are, I'd advise that you try not to smash any of them against walls, that you don't call up random members of the public in the wee hours, and that you don't start regurgitating tractor statistics when people in need of help start telling you how difficult it is to find a job and make ends meet.

Since this is going to be done in private, I assume there will be absolutely no more information released, and that you won't be referring to it in the future as part of another tragic attempt to look normal?

If you do start to release such information, can you assure us that you're working for a legitimate organisation or group, and that some Labour activists haven't just been rounded up and told to play volunteers for a week to make you look good?

Monday, August 03, 2009

Sign On... Stay Here

Today was meant to be a good day for Labour. They were set to unveil a new points-based system for determining British citizenship, thereby making it harder for people to do what happens at the moment - migrants move here, and pretty much get automatic citizenship after five years.

I should also stress that a points-based immigration system (designed to stop people before they actually got into the country) was proposed by the Conservatives in their 2005 manifesto - Labour said it was 'racist'.

But in a show of uselessness that will come as no surprise, it turns out that some of the things migrants will have to do to earn points are just taking the piss. As this article from the Telegraph states, they will be able to earn points by learning how to make benefit claims. Yes, the plan is honestly to reward them for doing one of the key things that people against unlimited migration complain about. That's not to say every migrant is a scrounger and only here for benefits - of course that isn't true. But how does it help the public perception of migrants if they can actually solidify their claim to stay here by taking our money? So, on their day of toughness, Labour have ended up looking ridiculous - no doubt content in their Socialist world where benefits are an important part of citizenship.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

How To Blow A Million Pounds

The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills has announced it will partially fund 500 trips abroad for graduates finding it tough to get a job. There's nothing inherently wrong with these trips; I know a few people who have been on ones like this and had thoroughly enjoyable experiences. I also know how tough it is for people to find jobs at the moment; where I work, the new employee who sorts the post and makes tea is an Oxford graduate.

But, how will eight weeks building huts and trekking in South America, Africa or Asia actually help these people get jobs? At their best, these sort of trips encourage people to work as part of a team, but they very rarely teach people new skills and things that would significantly improve their chances of getting a job. And at a job interview, there are any number of things you could mention as examples of working as part of a team, so I doubt these trips will be much use on that front either.

I can't help wondering if it's just another way of stopping 500 more people signing on and making the unemployment statistics look even worse. But hey, it's only a million quid.