Thursday, 30 April 2009

Brown's brisk bumbling

Another day, another dollop...of humble pie for Gordon Brown, forced to abandon his flat-rate daily allowance in order to appease his mutinous backbenchers. Ever since his bizarre home movie I've been wondering why Brown wants to push through reform of MPs expenses quite so quickly...

..and then cynicalHighlander brought this Daily Mail article to my attention on the Beeb's Blether with Brian blog: Love cheat MPs on 'suicide watch' as expense claims threaten to expose affairs.

It makes for an interesting read. If even half of it is true there could well be a few by-elections for Brown to deal with over the next few months.

And in light of these claims it makes perfect sense that Brown would seek to rush Sir Christopher Kelly's inquiry into expenses reform. Or when Kelly refuses, quickly cobble together some half-baked proposals without consulting his own party or the opposition parties. And when both of those fail, back down in order that something, anything(!), can be voted through. Even though the Kelly inquiry is still continuing.

When the full horror of Labour's gorging on expenses emerges Brown calculates that he simply must be able to say that he's already started reforming the system, even if only in a rushed and cack-handed fashion.

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Outrage at treatment of Shirkers

Exciting news from Westminster tonight. The Labour government have been defeated in a vote on the ongoing discrimination in favour of the Shirkers. At issue is the right of Shirkers to remain resident in the UK and to claim morbidly obese pensions and porcine expenses. The government position has been that all of the Shirkers will continue to enjoy special rights and privileges but without assuming any of the responsibilities that their position normally entails.

Following the government's humiliating defeat legislation must surely now be introduced to put an end to this immoral abuse of the nation's generosity. 350 Shirkers are currently on active disservice, many having served themselves loyally since 1997.

At PMQs Nick Clegg, barely able to contain his spleen, excoriated: "If someone is prepared to lie to this country, surely they deserve to leave this country". Joanna Lumley is very nearly 63.


According to the LibDems list of rebels on the BBC News webpage, none of the Labour MPs from Scotland voted against the government. Not a single one.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

101 uses for Iain Gray: #65 Radiation absorber

Well you learn something new every day. Apparently the gray is the SI unit of "absorbed radiation dose due to ionizing radiation". To be precise, 1 gray = the absorption of 1 joule of energy, in the form of ionizing radiation, by 1 kg of matter.

Now, since Iain Gray has been made redundant by Jim Murphy, surely his time would be better employed swimming up and down the Gare Loch absorbing all the radiation our marvellous nuclear subs spit out. Indeed, as well as helping clean up the environment he could also provide a timely boost to tourism. People would come from far and wide to see this increasingly endangered Gray wail.

Poor Phorm at the Home Office

Another damning email exchange emerges from Westminster, this time from the ever-incompetent Jacqui Smith's beat: Home Office 'colluded with Phorm'.

For those of you less versed in geek-speak Phorm is a system for placing targeted adverts on certain websites that you might visit, based upon collecting and analysing your browsing history. One controversial aspect of Phorm is that you might be deemed to have signed up for this "service" simply by agreeing to your ISP's terms and conditions of use. Much more about Phorm at the Wikipedia link above, including mention of BT's secret trials of the system (that's British Telecom, not Brian Taylor blether-fans!).

Following a Freedom of Information request an email exchange has been released that appears to show mandarins at the Home Office asking Phorm for advice on whether their "service" is legal or not. Baroness Miller is quoted by the Beeb as saying:

"The fact the Home Office asks the very company they are worried is actually falling outside the laws whether the draft interpretation of the law is correct is completely bizarre."

Cynics among you might well wonder whether this could be a backdoor means of resurrecting the mother of all databases to track every phone call, email and website that we all visit. Personally I don't think the government are that competent though, looks more like a damning indictment of standards in Whitehall than anything more sinister.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Poll results: Rate Darling's budget

A - Magnificent 0 votes
B - Mighty fine 0
C - Middling 0
D - Meagre 0
E - Moribund 3
F - Murphy 15

So 15 out of 18 voters thought the budget was terrific...only kidding! I think we can safely assume that visitors to Brigadoon were unimpressed with Darling's (mis-)calculations. I just wish I'd added Mendacious as a category...

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Budget? Fudge it.

Lots on the budget elsewhere so I've just added a poll on the right hand side for you all to rate Darling's efforts.

A few quick thoughts:

The £2000 car discount. As expected they had to come up with some nonsense scheme that will apply to approximately 7 people. My money was on grants for geothermally powered lawnmowers but hey ho, you win some you lose some.

New top rate tax. A broken manifesto commitment (see SNP Tactical Voting for a good discussion thereon) and completely ineffective as the rich will either sneak around it or leave for greener pastures elsewhere. Sheer populism.

Fuel duty up. Disproportionate impact on rural areas (which tend to be poorer already). And will inevitably make everything that gets transported anywhere, i.e. everything, more expensive.

Alcohol duty up. Hard to square this with Labour's crticism of the SNP's policy - apparently that was flawed as the poor would pay proportionally more. And a blanket rise in duty does what exactly...?

Enough for now, go read the FT if you're still hungry ;o)

Monday, 20 April 2009

Moronic efficiency

Wahey! It's budget time and Alastair Darling, perpetuating the all-too-cosy arrangements with the media that everyone has been railing against for the last week, has got his message out nice and early. £15 billion of "efficiency savings" are to be made in order that we're not all eating beans on toast for the next 50 years.

Can such savings be made? Well, having seen first-hand various branches of the public sector in (in)action, those savings are absolutely possible. Which only begs the question...

Why has it taken New Labour 12 years to start the process of eliminating this waste?

It reminds me of those products that advertise themselves as "new and improved", tacitly admitting the previous version was "old and inferior". Maybe that can be Gordon's slogan for the next election: New and Improved Labour, now whitewashes smears more efficiently.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Alice Mahon tells it like it is

The full text of Alice Mahon's resignation letter to her local constituency secretary:

Dear Martin,

I am resigning as a member of the Labour Party and I wanted the local party to know before I make my decision public.

First, I would like to thank you and my friends in the party for your comradeship and support over the years. This has been a difficult decision to take as I feel I was almost born into the Labour Party.

However, I can no longer be a member of a party that at the leadership level has betrayed many of the values and principles that inspired me as a teenager to join.

You will recall when I stood down I said that after the illegal decision to wage war on Iraq I could not have served another term under Tony Blair's leadership.

With hindsight I should have resigned then, but I thought this would be very unfair to Linda Riordan and labour members putting themselves forward for election to the council.

I also hoped that we might go back to being a really progressive and caring party should Gordon Brown succeed Tony Blair as leader.

In the event I could not have been more wrong.

Despite all the evidence and in the face of the credit crunch, Gordon Brown's obsession with privatisation such as the Royal Mail is inexplicable and quite simply wrong.

Labour had its chance after Blair to get its finger on the pulse in the country, more social justice not less.

That chance was squandered with catastrophic results.

He has shown not one jot of contrition as he continues to privatise what is left of our public services.

At the same time he has failed miserably to tackle the corporate greed of the bankers.

As to foreign affairs, it becomes clearer by the day that the Labour Government cooperated with the Bush regime as they rendered whoever they judged to be guilty of terrorism to despotic regimes who tortured them and offered them no access to the legal process whatsoever.

Our ministers shame us in front of the world when they give their support to the Israeli government as they commit war crimes in Palestine and the Lebanon.

Brown has just announced plans to send another 900 troops to Afghanistan, billions to be spent on an unwinnable war and pensioners dare not turn on their heating because this Labour Government will not tackle the energy fat cats.

On the domestic front we said in our 2005 manifesto that we would not privatise Royal Mail, we lied.

That same manifesto promised a referendum on the European Constitution, we re-named it the Lisbon Treaty and reneged on that promise also.

If this Treaty is ratified we can say goodbye to any publicly owned services. Article 111-147 is clear, we will be handing over to private corporations, social services, education, transport and postal services. Even the NHS will be up for grabs.

The misnamed Welfare Reform Bill now going through parliament is something the Poor Law Guardians would have been proud of. This Labour Government should hang its head in shame for inflicting this on the British public just as we face the most severe recession any of us have experienced in a lifetime.

This assault on the poor and disabled is taking place at a time when former Labour Ministers still drawing an MPs salary, line up on an unprecedented scale to take up lucrative consultancies with private companies, that as ministers they previously had dealings with.

I have written to Gordon Brown about this, he simply passed me on to a civil servant. This personal greed and possible conflict of interest did not appear to concern him.

My final reason for leaving the party is because it is no longer democratic. The personally vindictive, dishonest campaign played out on the pages of the tabloids by certain Labour party members to deselect Janet Oosthuysen was despicable, but even more shaming was the behaviour of the NEC who have uttered not one word of criticism about the Home Secretary's behaviour on expenses, but have ruined the political career of an excellent candidate whose only crime was to scratch her ex partner's car.

The undemocratic nature of that selection continues as the reselection has been conducted without much transparency and is now subject to complaints from members of the Calder Valley Party.

Quite simply I have had it with New Labour.

Yours in friendship,


Poll results: Do you agree with Labour's Lord Foulkes that MPs deserve a pay rise?

Hear hear! 1 vote (shame on you George)
Yah boo! 10 votes

So perhaps Lord Foulkes' fragrant wife was right to advise him against writing his inane article...

Ah gentle dames, it gars me greet,
Tae think how mony counsels sweet,
How mony length'nd, sage advices,
The husband frae the wife despises!

Friday, 17 April 2009

The wages of sin

A rare beast skulked up to the portcullis in Brigadoon yesterday, casually wondering whether he could count on my vote for the Conservatives at the forthcoming Euro elections.

After I stopped laughing and had released the dogs I started thinking about tactical voting. Has disillusionment with New Labour's misrule really reached a point where upstanding Scots should consider a vote for the Tories in those few Scottish seats where they might unseat Labour (Jim Murphy's constituency for one)?

Thankfully I don't find myself with that dilemma in Brigadoon (rock-solid Natural Law Party territory since you ask, yogic flying being the only way in or out). But with the list of Labour's outrageous failings lengthening daily, I can imagine a fair few Scots will be thinking the unthinkable come election time.

Swinging into this picture I learn today, is that loveable rogue Tommy Sheridan. He is to stand proud as a candidate for the snappily-named NO2EU/Yes to Democracy coalition. This ragtag bunch of left-wing reprobates is being sponsored by those erstwhile rogues the RMT. Apparently none of the candidates intend to take up their seat at the EU should they be elected.

Now, first off I wonder if anyone would notice if they didn't turn up. Indeed the prospect of saving all those MEP expenses should easily be enough to see them romp home.

And secondly, how did it come to this? The RMT helped found the Labour party. Yet they are now so disgusted with what Labour has become, that not only have they severed their ties, but they are also actively campaigning against Labour. And how many other unions are considering the same heresy?

With any luck this will serve to split the Labour vote, leaving plenty room for the SNP to pick up a few seats. Or even (whisper it if you dare) for the Tories to rear their ugly heads again...

The Farcical Joke o' the Nation

Karaoke time!

"Fareweel for a day, oor London hame,
Fareweel oor spinmeisters hoary!
Fareweel ev'n tae the concept o' shame:
"Honest guv, I'm awfy sorry!"
Now Broon sinks deeper in quicksand,
Wi' every desperate gyration!
Nae tactic too low or underhand,
For this farcical joke o' the nation!

What coarse new bile do they now brew,
Wi' their new set o' spinning sages?
While the moral compass drifts askew,
Common decency disengages.
Some token regret they feebly feign,
Tae mask their degradation;
But weasel words can't shift the stain,
On this farcical joke o' the nation!

O wooden Broon, there's jist no way,
Your "apology" will quell us;
In Hell we'll see a snowy winters day,
Ere Labour ditch their smears libellous.
Broon girns an' glowers wi' fizzog sour,
Mumblin' his latest rotation;
But he's caught an' bowled by spin uncontrolled,
Jist the farcical joke o' the nation!

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Fourth span wobbling

I see that close inspections have revealed an alarming state of decay in a large, increasingly reviled UK structure. Unprecedented levels of corrosion have been uncovered in the very heart of this hulking monstrosity. At least 350 nuts have been found to be of inadequate stature. Lacking any firm foundation they have been susceptible to uncontrollable spinning and the cracks are now becoming all too apparent.

Many of these nuts have only been in public service since 1997, yet some have failed almost from their first day of employment. So many of these nuts are now breaking free that the entire ugly edifice is in imminent danger of collapse. Although the hideous behemoth was due to be replaced in 2010, it is surely now advisable to scrap it forthwith.

Friday, 10 April 2009

Spot the Bawbag

Competition Time! Roll up, roll up for your chance to win an Easter e-Egg*! Simply guess which square in the picture below contains a bawbag:

"Heids you loser!"

* e-Egg may contain nuts, but probably not. I wouldn't bet on any chocolate either.

Poll results: Would you back Tory plans to break up the nationalised banks?

Yes: 2 votes
No: 0 votes
Only the biggest: 2 votes

Thanks for your votes, erm, all 3 of you!

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Murphy: Gonnie gies twa pandas?

So Jim Murphy spent his time in China wisely, asking his hosts for a pair of pandas to bring back to a Scottish zoo. Sweet Lord have mercy on his soul, are pandas really what Scotland needs in these dark economic days? It certainly seems that Murphy's hastily arranged jolly was simply an exercise in one-upmanship, getting in ahead of Alex Salmond's long-planned trip. And if he really had to have some souvenirs, could he not have chosen something to fit in his suitcase?


Besides, it's not as if Scotland is exactly lacking in pandas. Indeed, on my morning constitutional through the woods of Brigadoon I managed to snap these two, admittedly rather straggly, specimens. Devoid of energy and utterly impotent, the prospects for this sad pair and others of their ilk are grim. Their future survival hinges on their ability to find a few green shoots, but their chronic short-sightedness leaves them blundering around, trampling all over any signs of growth. A mass extinction looms...

Friday, 3 April 2009

Poll results: Who do you blame for the demise of Dunfermline Building Society?

DBS: 3 votes
FSA: 9
The Treasury: 12
Alistair Darling: 14
Gordon Brown: 16
Fred Goodwin: 0

Looks like Broon will need a big G20 bounce to recover from this latest debacle. Thanks again for all your votes.