"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen."

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Four To Go

Music for me:

One For The Money

Bank of International Settlements

The Tower of Babel

And one for the road - Furtwangler, 1942:


Enjoy it.  If ever there was a misappropriation of music, this is it.

PMQs: Verdict

I don't think there's much to write home about this week except that it was notable for there being no roll of honour from Cameron.

When Labour was in government it was evident that they didn't listen to any views other than their own; their heads nodded, their mouths said yes but their actions proved them liars and manipulators. It's interesting to see them in Opposition after 13yrs because they're just the same but more vocal and aggressive. They still have their fingers in their ears, they still hear what they want to hear and still think that talking over someone & shouting louder is somehow 'winning' the debate. For Labour it's always about scoring points whilst ignoring the evidence and blaming someone else.

As for the LibServatives, once we've all fully recovered from the shock of hearing a pacey and well-articulated PMQs we can concentrate more on the content. It's not looking good.

The first question today was from Kevin Brennan (Lab, Cardiff West): Is the reason he wants to put fewer criminals in jail to do with cutting crime or cutting budgets?

Cameron: What this govt wants to do is clear up the complete mess of the criminal justice system left by the Labour Party. each prison place today costs £45k yet 40% of prisoners are back in prison within a year. More than half of them are on drugs and around 10% of them are foreign national prisoners who shouldn't be here in the first place.

Nadine Dorries (Con, Mid-Bedfordshire) asked that local people be given a say on the proposal by an American company to build an incinerator 'the size of Wembley' in her constituency.

Harman asked whether the estimated figure of 1.3m job losses as a result of the Budget was produced by Treasury officials.

Cameron: The honourable lady should know [interrupted by Labour heckling, already] ... I will give a surprisingly full answer if they just sit patiently. This morning the OBR produced the full tables for the Budget for employment in the public and private sector. This is something that never happened under a Labour government. As shown in the budget, unemployment is forecast to fall every year under this government but it also does show public sector employment and what's interesting from the tables is you can see the effect of Labour's policy before the budget and you can see the effect of our policy after the budget. What the figures show is that, under Labour's plans, next year there would be 70,000 fewer public sector jobs and the year after that there would be 150,000 fewer public sector jobs. The reason is we've had the courage to have a two-yr pay freeze. I know we've all been watching the football but that's a spectacular own goal.

Harman was having none of this of course. She was sandwiched between a rather self-satisfied Darling and a somewhere-over-the-rainbow Shaun Woodward who only raised his chin occasionally to intone 'yeah, yeah, from time to time. Harman persisted in asking why the PM wouldn't publish "hidden" Treasury documents, she spoke of "abject misery"  [to 'hard-working families'] and asked how much extra would be spent on unemployment benefit.

Cameron referred her to the OBR, "independent from the government" and told them to stop "chuntering about it". 

Osborne, who I understand has sinus problems [ahem] hence his unfortunate tendency to look pretty vacant as he catches flies, sprang to life as if in disbelief that anyone could possibly be as thick as the honourable members opposite. The Americans have a word for something that isn't what it appears to be - 'cute' - and that's what Osborne is. I used to have a 'cute' car - it didn't look particularly fast but you know what stripey, go-faster boys can be like when they see a blond in something unusual. They didn't know it was fibre glass and couldn't see what was under the bonnet: it always gave me immense girly pleasure to leave them standing.

Back to poor George - his expression as Cameron explains the OBR to Harman & Co is a picture and I think that's part of the reason I still like him - he hasn't mastered the politician's trick of making a mask of his face.  He's somehow childlike and open in his facial responses when he's off-guard. It doesn't seem to have clicked with him that by sitting to the left of Cameron at PMQs he's on constant show and I'll regret the day that it does.

Clegg wasn't particularly animated in this session, in fact he's been pretty subdued throughout, as if he's missing the limelight of the Leaders' Debates. He allows himself a wry smile from time to time but usually he just looks squashed and glum - the smile never reaches the eyes. I'm surprised because I'd have thought Clegg & the LibDems had more reasons than most to be cheerful. I look at what the Conservatives have watered-down or back-tracked on to date and I think I have more reason than Clegg to wish I was far, far away with a cushy number in Brussels and a haughty disdain for my fellow man.

Harman pointed out that the Treasury had less money coming in and more money going out - she blamed the Budget but that's how it was with Labour before the election, they just haven't had to admit it.  I've never known a politicial party so relieved to lose a General Election and another so reluctant to win an outright majority.

There was quite a bit of banter, exasperation and footballing euphemisms - "from peaceniks to peacepods", Darling's words were thrown back at him, "slotted into the back of the net".   Keep an eye out for what Cameron disdainfully and ingrammatically called, "the stupidest piece of spending", ie  a £2.4m refurbishment of Harriet's own department incl. £72k each on "2-storey meeting pods known as peace-pods".

Are there any lip-readers out there?  At approx 04.37 in Video 3 when Meacher asks why 'bankers and the super-rich' aren't losing their jobs what does Cameron say to Osborne (my best guess at the moment is 'wtf is this?' ) and what's Osborne's response?


Is your MP here?

Backbench questions included homecoming parades, debt & deficit, unemployment; prison sentences; student visas;  'in-care' children, Sheffield Forgemasters; Afghanistan withdrawal;  care of our AF wounded ;  paediatric care in the NHS;  hospice funding; the importance of international aid; the bank levy;  the UN's Children's Day;  any cuts in Scotland to be brought before the Scotland Committee at Westminster:

Steve Brine (Con, Winchester);  John Cryer (Lab, Leyton & Wanstead); Julian Sturdy (Con, York Outer);  George Howarth (Lab, Knowsley);  Stephen Lloyd (LibDem, Eastbourne); Megg Munn ( Labour Co-op, Sheffield Heeley); Gary Streeter (Con, SW Devon); Caroline Lucas (Green, Brighton Pavilion);  Mark Lancaster (Con, Milton Keynes North);  Kate Green ( Lab Stretford & Urmston); Charlie Elphicke ( Con, Dover) (ruled out of order);  Elizabeth Kendall (Lab, Leicester West);  Robin Walker (Con, Worcester);  Gordon Banks (Lab, Ochil & South Perthshire); Tony Baldry (Con, Banbury); Michael Meacher (Lab, Oldham West & Royton); Annette Brooke (LibDem, Dorset Mid & Poole North); Michael Connarty (Lab, Linlithgow & Falkirk East);  Matthew Hancock (Con, West Suffolk) [one to watch];  Graham Jones (Lab, Hyndburn).

Bercow intervened quite a few times but mainly to tell b/benchers to keep their questions brief.  At the end of PMQs he also ruled that  the Home Secretary had been out of order in releasing key details to the press before they were presented to the House.  Theresa May stood up, "deeply regretted the fact" and apologised to the House.  I don't recollect the previous government doing that.

Other 'points of order' followed which weren't points of order at all - merely a way of bringing attention to a perceived grievance.  Michael Connarty (Lab, Linlithgow & Falkirk East), to his credit, did raise the question of the still non-existent European Scrutiny Committee.  Apparently there are five Labour MPs lined up to sit on the committee.  Bercow is sometimes his own worst enemy - he plays games with words and is then needlessly upset.  He offered no solution beyond saying that all committees were important committees.  I'm again losing the will to live in the face of politics - who knows when the European Scrutiny Committee will be re-convened?






Videos courtesy of the Daily Politics

*Reminder: PMQs Live Chat*

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The Daily Politics Live Chat at 11.30am &  PMQs from twelve noon

Live Parliament

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Belgium's EU Presidency + Update

As Spain bows out Belgium will take over the rotating presidency of the EU on Thursday. Spain's six-month presidency has neither affected nor effected very much at all and that's a good thing in my eyes - the less these faux democratic institutions do, the better.

Belgium, on the other hand, has grand plans befitting a founding member of the EU and NATO. For such a small country, cobbled together in 1830, it certainly punches above its weight and any conspiracy theorist could be forgiven for thinking that its raison d'etre is as a vehicle for those two institutions.

Belgium's 'big idea' is to push harder for cross-border economic government and new taxes to support grand ideological projects.

A government 'source' said:
"...we can also explore, for example, the financing of European projects via new sources of revenue.  Couldn't these new types of income at least in part be channelled towards major European-level projects?"

Similar ideas -- monies funnelled straight into the bloc's collective budget, or at least indirectly by different member states towards common goals -- have long been advanced, with little success, by the European Commission.
It's going to be a rocky six months for our Coalition government; I look forward to hearing Belgium's plans debated in full in our Parliament, on the BBC (primetime news of course) and other media outlets.

I also think it's high time the European Scrutiny Committee was re-formed - it's the only Select Committee still awaiting members and a chairman.
All select committees have ceased to exist unless or until the House renominates them following the election.
Full article

UPDATE: The Telegraph has this now.  "Cameron will back down,"  says senior EU official.
Belgian negotiators are convinced that Mr Cameron's hard line opposition to giving more sovereignty up to the EU, a pledge written into his coalition government's agreement, will be sacrificed in the interests of pragmatism.

The senior source observed that no EU agreements would ever be possible if all European leaders stuck to the "totality" of their election manifestos. "It is impossible to have compromise with total programmes," he said.

EU officials have warned British diplomats that the Lisbon Treaty means it will have to compromise on sovereignty because Britain does not have veto for either the budget scrutiny or financial market supervision measures.

Belgium is also ready to pick a fight with Britain over plans for new European-wide taxes to directly fund the EU independently of contributions from national treasuries.
That sounds like a red rag to a bull.  Cameron's mettle is going to be tested in the coming months - now we'll see what he's made of.

Police & Photographers

Some police officers still don't understand that it isn't a criminal offence to take photographs in a public place and they just seem to be making it up as they go along.   The one in this video, when asked to give a reason for detention, just said the first things that came into his head: (eg 'you were acting silly'; 'we don't need a law'; 'causing anxiety').

This incident happened on Saturday at an Armed Forces Day parade.  The photographer was first told it was an offence to photograph a child, then an offence to photograph the military, then an offence to photograph the police and finally that he was a threat under the Terrorism Act.  It culminated in him allegedly being pushed down a flight of steps and detained 'for his own safety'.



Met Police guidelines on photography
It would ordinarily be unlawful to use section 58A to arrest people photographing police officers in the course of normal policing activities, including protests, because there would not normally be grounds for suspecting that the photographs were being taken to provide assistance to a terrorist. An arrest would only be lawful if an arresting officer had a reasonable suspicion that the photographs were being taken in order to provide practical assistance to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.

There is nothing preventing officers asking questions of an individual who appears to be taking photographs of someone who is or has been a member of Her Majesty’s Forces (HMF), Intelligence Services or a constable so long as this is being done for a lawful purpose and is not being done in a way that prevents, dissuades or inhibits the individual from doing something which is not unlawful.
Jules Mattson, the photographer

Monday, 28 June 2010

One For The Road

I don't usually mix news and 'one for the road' but I'm sick of the hype this evening:

Switch off 24-hr 'developing' news
'They're just tired'

We've done to our football team what we've done to our country, ie we've bought in foreign talent because it's easier than training up our own.

This is good: We in the UK demand the same rights  because w/wide statistics prove that gun crime goes down when people are allowed to own guns and defend themselves - sorry, I don't have the links to hand so you'll just have to take my word for it.

Big breaths (no jokes), Elgar, cello, enjoy:

For Sale

A superbly appointed residence in the Constructor Ultimate v2.0 beta belt:
(Click to enlarge - not recommended if you're squeamish)


Sorry, I can't remember where I found the map but if it's you and you want a h/t just let me know in the comments.

The 'for sale' bit is true.  If anyone wants a freehold hideaway 10km out of Marbella for the remarkable, knock-down price of only 1.3m of your English pounds sterling, or if you'd prefer to rent, please let me know.

What Has Europe Done For Us?

Tougher budget sanctions to cover all EU funds
Only a closer Union can save the eurozone
Single Crisis Response Centre for Ashton +  EU 'embassies' will cost 50% more than at present
Hedegaard throws 'weight' behind EU carbon tax despite admitting they didn't think it through

Keep smiling:

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Sunday Reflection

A promo intended for overseas distribution:

Sunday Round-up

From the Sunday Times - behind the registration wall:
Four meat suppliers, including two whose abattoirs cater to leading retailers, could face prosecution after hidden cameras revealed slaughtermen apparently inflicting “appalling” abuse on animals. Film from one abattoir shows a slaughterman inflicting repeated electric shocks on the ears, snouts and bodies of terrified pigs. In another abattoir, which has supplied Sainsbury’s, slaughtermen were filmed misusing a bolt gun, leaving cattle wounded but potentially conscious.
In a third, a pig that is meant to have been stunned is shown wriggling free of the overhead conveyor belt carrying it to have its throat cut — and then falling head first to the floor several feet below. 
Animal Aid
Warning: You'll need a strong stomach to watch the following clip:

Giant GM Salmon on the way:
A salmon designed to grow at twice the normal rate is on the brink of becoming the first genetically modified (GM) animal approved for human consumption.
The fish — named AquAdvantage salmon — contains additional genetic material to boost the production of a growth hormone. It can be farmed and ready for market in 18 months instead of the usual three years.
From the other Sundays:
No talks on the Falklands: A source close to Mr Cameron said: "He will be robust. He will make the point again that our position on the sovereignty of the Falklands has not changed and will not change."
Britain's new foreign policy:  [Hague] signals his intention to change decades of British overseas policy which has seen it split the world up into three dominant “blocs” – the United States, the European Union and the Middle East... Britain must forge a “distinctive” new global identity which focuses as much on emerging nations such as India, Brazil, Chile and the Gulf states.
DfID diverts aid to UK unions & projects since 2003 the DfID has spent millions on projects including £3.6m to the TUC; more than £1m to teach nursery & primary school children in the UK about 'the dangers' of unequal global development; £600k to an ethnic minority think tank which hasn't  published a report for almost three years; £300k to the National Union of Teachers to 'enable them to become global agents of change'.
Half of Libdem voters 'ready to defect': The poll of almost 2,500 people, financed by Ed Miliband's campaign for the Labour leadership, found 26% of people "somewhat" less likely to vote Lib Dem because of the VAT U-turn and 22% much less likely.
Speaker causes constitutional rift:  Bercow was so determined to win the power struggle that he has cut the ties between Parliament and the Abbey, where state ­funerals, weddings and coronations take place – effectively splitting the Chaplain’s ­historic role in two.
Karzai under pressure: One of the country's foremost experts warned that Afghanistan is edging towards the "horrendous" scenario of civil war and that its population increasingly believes international forces are losing the battle with the Taliban.
'Widders' for the Vatican? The post, which comes with an official residence in Rome, was created after the Reformation, yet was not given ambassadorial status until 1982.
ACPO's £500k Champagne gala:  As police forces across the country face the threat of budget cuts and job losses, ‘not-for-profit’ ACPO stands to make about £200,000 from the event at Manchester Central Hall – adding to the £395,000 ‘surplus’ it made from similar events in 2008 and 2009.
RBS execs at Wimbledon: ‘We thought hard before we renewed this contract in the light of our position and the substantial cuts we have made to our hospitality budgets. However, we are still a bank with customers to talk to and events such as this provides the opportunity for us to spend time with key clients.’
Pressure on Netanyahu to push for release Gilad Shalit: An opinion poll published on Friday showed that almost 75% of Israelis support the release of Palestinian prisoners serving sentences for militant attacks in return for Shalit's freedom.
Smokers support smoking ban: Half of all smokers now support the smoke-free law, and nearly one in four strongly supports it. Opposition among smokers appears to be ebbing away with only one smoker in six strongly opposing the ban.
English tests for immigrants 'watered down': Former Immigration Minister Phil Woolas said: ‘This ruling means that a British man who marries, say, a ­Brazilian girl who can’t speak English will not be able to bring her into this ­country. But an Afghan who gets here on the back of a lorry and successfully claims asylum can bring his Afghan wife, children and grandparents in – even if they don’t speak English.
Diane Abbott & Andrew Neil: Labour leadership contender Diane Abbott was seething after being branded a ‘racist’ and an expenses cheat by political pundit Andrew Neil.
For those who missed it, here's the video - hilarious.  Michael Portillo seemed to enjoy it too:


And, finally, In search of the real Philip Larkin


The European GP: 1993 @ Donington Park

Highlights:

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Armed Forces Day

Rogue Gunner  has details of a petition to bring home Danny Fitzsimmons, an ex-Para suffering from PTSD.  Danny is currently in jail in Iraq and facing the death penalty.

Liam Fox:
'Let's silence the negative voices that attack our Armed Forces but gladly enjoy the security and freedom our Armed Forces provide.  Let's say no to the small number of hate filled religious and political extremists who abused freedom of speech to spoil 1 Royal Anglian's Homecoming Parade in Barking [East London].

'While those who criticise our Armed Forces have a right to do so in a democracy, we too, as the moral majority, have a right to take pride in the flag of our nation an emblem of the freedom we hold dear as the true British patriots, and the freedom that most races, cultures, and faiths aspire to.'
The Queen:
"The men and women of our Armed Forces have always been admirable examples of professionalism and courage. Then as now, they perform their duties in often the most difficult and dangerous of circumstances, both at home and overseas."
And so say all of us.

Just Saying

First this: Afghanistan mineral wealth worth £2 trillion

Now this: Rothschild's Vallar in £600m listing plan

Imetal/Imerys
Eurasian Mining Co


Haiti

Also:
HAARP
Tin foil at the ready
Pipelines & mineral exploration

Friday, 25 June 2010

All Change At The NHS

The British Medical Association has now weighed in on the government's health care proposals for an improved National Health Service:

The Allergists are scratching their heads, but the Dermatologists advised not to make any rash moves.
The Gastroenterologists had a sort of a gut feeling about it, but the Neurologists thought the government had a lot of nerve.
The Obstetricians felt they were all labouring under a misconception.
Ophthalmologists considered the idea short-sighted.
Pathologists yelled, "Over my dead body!" while the Paediatricians said, "Oh, grow up!"
The Psychiatrists thought the whole idea was madness, while the Radiologists could see right through it.
Surgeons decided to wash their hands of the whole thing. The ENT specialists wouldn’t hear of it.
The Internists thought it was a bitter pill to swallow, and the Plastic Surgeons said, "This puts a whole new face on the matter...."
The Podiatrists thought it was a step forward, but the Urologists were pissed off at the whole idea.
The Anaesthesiologists thought the whole idea was a gas, and the Cardiologists didn't have the heart to say no.
In the end, the Proctologists won out, leaving the entire decision up to the arseholes in London.

Happy Weekend!

DPMQs: A Heckle-Fest

At first glance you could be forgiven for thinking that Cabinet Office Minister Mark Harper had been promoted to Deputy PM. The Opposition didn't think much of Clegg sitting down to let Harper answer the majority of questions in video one.

The first ever DPMQs sounded like a Monkey House with mocking and jeering MPs seemingly determined to vent their frustrations and fire shots at the Coalition and the LibDems in particular. Matters raised included the 55% dissolution trigger for Parliament, the changing of electoral boundaries, 3,500,000 people not registered on the electoral role, Clegg's own role and departmental responsibilities, decentralisation & localism, an In/Out referendum on the EU (!yes, really), the revolving door between lobbying/Whitehall, the hereditary principle of the House of Lords, the £2m donation from Michael Brown. As you'd expect, most of the questions were designed to make Clegg suffer and wrong-foot him.




Unfortunately, not all of the final section was recorded:


With thanks to Swiss Bob for the videos.

A Thorn In Our Sides

There can be little doubt that even after the Legg and Kennedy investigations and the formation of IPSA to oversee parliamentary allowances it's still a chaotic, unmanageable and essentially unaccountable mess.

Fhs, raise their c£65k salaries and be done with it. No more expenses, no more 'allowances', no more subsidised cafes, restaurants and bars, no more communications budgets, no more gold-plated pensions on generous terms.

At a time when public finances are under pressure,  when people are being told to work until they drop and welfare benefits are about to undergo the biggest shake-up since their introduction there's no earthly reason why MPs' perks should be exempt from scrutiny. And while we're at it, stop the insulting practice of elevating some of the pigs (eg Prescott, Martin) to the Lords to continue taking the mickey.

When MPs' claims were put under the spotlight last year they were miraculously able to collectively make savings of £2m on 2nd home allowances in the last six months of 2009 (down from £5m in the last six months of 2008).

Partial details have been released showing that kicked-out Shahid Malik (Lab, Dewsbury) and Margaret Moran (Lab, Luton South) milked the system and the taxpayer right up to the last possible minute:

Malik - £2,950 for 6 months' worth of food
Moran - c£14,500 fees paid to employment agencies as she looked for a new job.
John Prescott - £10k in mortgage interest repayments.
Barbara Follett - £3k contents insurance and £35k private security guards.
Diane Abbott - £40 monthly iPhone tariff.
Damian Green - c£3,600 for purchasing 'image licences' for his website.
David Cameron - 24p for stationery.
Chris Huhne - 14p for stationery plus two claims for phone bills of 38p and 40p.
Michael Moore - 84p electricity bill.
Danny Alexander - c£25k.
David Laws - c£24k in the six months to December, of which £7,559 went on the 2nd home he shared with his partner James Lundie.

Douglas Carswell (Con, Clacton) is calling for a spreadsheet to be made available to allow the public to easily compare their MP's expenses with others but so far only limited receipts will be produced later this year - and those will be redacted.

It's beyond a joke. Cameron must push this to the top of his 'list of things to do' and further investigations must be carried out by the Police with a view to bringing charges. As Gordon Brown would no doubt say: Justice must be seen to be done - it's the right thing to do in the interests of all hard-working families; British justice for British MPs!

Full article
Also: Michael Winner - Heigh-Ho! heigh-ho! It's off to work we go. With a shovel and a pick and a rhubarb stick ...

UPDATE: Thanks to the Guardian's Comment is Free for sending me lots of new visitors today by including this post in their top 5 Best of the Web section.  I can only think it's been a slow news day and everyone else is watching the football.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

FMQs: 24th June 2010

The majority of the opposition questions focused upon Audit Scotland's recent report on the company behind The Gathering, which was the main attraction of last year's Year of Homecoming campaign.

Although the opposition tried hard to imply the government acted illegally by giving a loan to the company, the First Minister appeared to be on safe ground with regard to the law. Politically may well be another matter.


SubRosa

Post Of The Week

Click to enlarge

It seems that those of us who've been smelling a rat in the cobbled-together devolution deals and the sidelining of England into 'regions' are getting closer to the truth.  Congrats to English Parliament online for unearthing this:

Minutes of Cabinet sub-committee on Devolution to Scotland, Wales and the Regions are withheld

In December 2009 the Government vetoed public access to the minutes of the Cabinet sub-committee on Devolution to Scotland, Wales and the Regions (DSWR), as reported on this site.

Yesterday the publication of these minutes was again blocked on the grounds that their release would undermine "Cabinet collective decision-making".

The response from the Information Commissioner's Office (attached below) also suggests that release of these minutes would jeopardise relations between the UK Government and their Scottish and Welsh counterparts, and would therefore undermine the UK Government.
We also consider that the exemption in s28 is engaged because it is information held by the United Kingdom government on matters which concern the Scottish Administration and the Welsh Assembly Government, the disclosure of which would, or would be likely to, prejudice relations between those devolved administrations and the United Kingdom government. The documents you have requested contain discussions between then Ministers, including individual and divergent views, and the disclosure of these minutes would prejudice the UK government's current dealings with those administrations.


We acknowledge, as I explain above, the public interest in the development of policy on devolution. However, in addition to the public interest arguments in favour of protecting the convention of Cabinet collective decision-making, there is a public interest in ensuring effective administration in Scotland and Wales. The issues discussed in the minutes are of current importance; are of particular interest to the Scottish Administration and Welsh assembly Government; and contain discussions between Ministers about those issues, the disclosure of which could adversely affect the government of the United Kingdom's current dealings with those administrations. The release of material that would damage those relationships could not be considered to be in the public interest. We therefore conclude that the public interest in withholding the information outweighs the public interest in disclosure.


See also:  An independent Scotland would be £4bn in the red

The UN, The OIC & Media Censorship

What is it about the world's movers & shakers that everything they do seems counter-intuitive to common sense?

The latest news from the UN is that it believes the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) has a “human right” to impose censorship on the media to “promote (Muslim) religious tolerance.”

Despite EU and US opposition the OIC successfully pushed through a resolution that creates a watchdog to monitor how religion is portrayed in the media. The OIC says it will promote religious tolerance by ensuring that religion is not defamed.

Fox News
Dallas Blog

UPDATE: Here's a video lifted from Wayne's Earth which ties in nicely with the censorship angle and shows how it's already operating:

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

One For The Road

It's A Funny Old World

You look at Wayne Rooney, just taken off the field, and listen to the supporters.  You hear the chants, the music, the Anthem that can't be drowned out by the vuvuzelas and you wonder... what is it about the English that we support anything which wears our flag or bears our name?

While you're thinking about it I'll suggest it's because we're proud, insular, nationalistic and unconquerable.

This isn't some modern day phenomenom - it's innate.  They're not bad traits, they're survivalist traits.  It's what we are; anyone trying to change our psyche is on to a loser because we'll just sway the opposite way - that's what we do.

Some people say that the English are fat, lazy and uneducated but who cares what others think of us?  It's mostly media hype and government endorsement that makes us see ourselves this way.

Thirteen years of conditioning has made us accept things we wouldn't have accepted before and that's the sad part.  I loathe the Labour Party and their social engineering and  I distrust the Conservatives for their Res Publica nudging and LibDem coalition.

It's what the English are - leave us alone to live our own lives and we'll leave you alone.  No oppressive government, not even a Coalition, will win against the people and that's a fact.

The English Football Team may be a waste of space but they're a product of our time. 1-0 - what an abject result.

PMQs: The Verdict

Cameron sits on Harman

It was another good one. This is what PMQs should be; it's what we've missed for so many years and is a sharp contrast to the dirge of Labour. It was sparky, energetic, confrontational and revealing. I could go on but I'm in danger of sounding like a PMQs groupie. The truth is I'm just so delighted at the raised standard of debate, that questions are answered and backbenchers have more time to pose questions. Everything in this half-hour cruelly highlights the lack of respect the previous government showed to Parliament and to the people in the past thirteen years.

Cameron paid tribute to Marine Paul Warren, 40 Commando Royal Marines, and an un-named soldier from the same unit who both died this week. I can't find the words - the conflict and the roll of honour seem interminable. It's clear that there is a great deal of concern amongst govt backbenchers about the loss of life, how it's progressing overall and how well-supported our troops are.

The first question was to new Labour b/bencher, Lisa Nandy (Lab, Wigan) who asked about freezing funding to the Coalfield (? sorry, I'm a northerner myself but untangling some of these accents is getting beyond me) Communities Regeneration Programme and referred back to the pit closures in the eighties. 'Is he seeking to close down the coalfields all over again?'  Cameron said what you'd expect him to say plus there's to be some sort of additional announcement next week.

Simon Hart (Con, Carmarthen West & Pembrokeshire South) asked about the 23,000 TA Reservists who have served in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Balkans in the last six years. Twenty-two have lost their lives in these ops "and those who survive are twice as likely to get PTSD than their regular counterparts". He essentially asked what recognition & support the govt would give to employers who allowed them time off.

Cameron: Absolutely right to raise the contribution the TA plays in serving our country. Standing up for our Armed Forces is "not just a govt responsibility, it's a social responsibility, something we should all do and we should pay tribute to those businesses..." 

Harman, resplendent in toning shades of bronze and copper, with a frisson of grey roots, referred to the govt bringing forward the linking of state pensions to earnings to 2011 rather than 2012 and asked how much money had been set aside to accommodate the increase.

Yvette Cooper (Balls) sat to her right and Rosie Winterton to her left.  Unfortunately, the camera angle meant that Peter Hain, he of the fuchsia tie, blue suit and orange complexion, was always in shot.

Cameron: 'It's more complex than this'. He spoke of the triple-lock (RPI, CPI and inflation rate) meaning a guaranteed increase of 2.5% and mocked Labour for their 75p increase for pensioners.

The rest of the exchange will be on video so you can see for yourselves how Cameron laid into her (the answer btw is £1bn over the term of the Parliament).  We even have a new word courtesy of this govt: ' Greconomics'.   Harman's an unredeemed remnant of a dying and archaic political system but, like the Terminator, they keep renewing themselves.  It's time they were also melted down for scrap value once and for all and, since every penny counts, sold off to help pay our debts.

There were a few 'good' jokes - red book/unread book - which cheered the backbenches on all sides but not Yvette Cooper who threw metaphorical daggers at Cameron & Osborne and sat po-faced throughout.  What a miserable life it must be to be a true believer; always envious, always denying human nature's innate desire to achieve and improve, always deriding those who do well for themselves while doing pretty good, thank you very much, for themselves.

There was a wonderful intervention at one point from the govt backbenches - someone, and no doubt the 'culprit' will be outed soon, shouted: "Three-Nil" which amused everyone but the Labour MPs.

I think I feel sorry for Dennis Skinner (Lab, Bolsover).  He has retained the reputation of being a firebrand leftie ('the Beast of Bolsover') but no longer deserves it.  It's said that Labour are better in Opposition and, if by 'better' one means more bolshie, that could be true.  When Labour was in govt Skinner was silent, obedient, supine but now they're in Opposition he's constantly on the edge of his seat, thrust forward, one buttock raised and hands resting on knees.  He has the unfortunate appearance of an old man beset by piles.

Q.13 ("What is the military purpose of routine foot & vehicle patrols in Afghanistan?"  Julian Lewis, Con, New Forest East).

Other backbenchers who posed questions:
Topics raised (apart from the usual ones about Labour and the deficit 'legacy) included the EU (2), Sky News, Trident, Sinn Fein, Armed Forces Day, the NHS in Scotland, VAT.

Paul Maynard (Con, Blackpool North & Cleveleys);  Karen Buck (Lab, Westminster North); Chris Pincher (Con, Tamworth);  Chris Evans (Lab Co-op, Islwyn);  John Thurso (LibDCem, Caithness, Sutherland & Easter Ross);   Pamela Nash (Lab, Airdrie & Shotts);  Graham Evans (Con, Weaver Vale);  David Crausby (Lab, Bolton North East);  Andrew Selous (Con; South West Bedfordshire);  Helen Goodman (Lab, Bishop Auckland);  Peter Bone (Con, Wellingborough);   David Cairns (Lab, Inverclyde);  Matthew Hancock (Con, West Suffolk);  Fiona Mactaggart (Lab, Slough);  Julian Huppert (LibDem, Cambridge);   Rev Wm. McCrea (DUP, South Antrim);  Guy Opperman (Con, Hexham); Angus Robertson (SNP Westminster Leader);  Jonathan Evans (Con, Cardiff North);  Anne McGuire (Lab, Stirling).

I'll leave it at that because there's a football match to watch and a curry to stir.



The rest will follow after the football.

Part 2
Part 3

PSTo those argumentative muppets who think I've given up on the NWO/EU angle by posting about our own Parliament and MPs:

I've always posted on our own Parliament and I've always posted on the EU and the NWO. How can you hope to understand the totality of it unless you have an overview?  How can you spot the road if you don't even see the signposts?  Muppets.

*Reminder: PMQs Live Chat*

The Daily Politics Live Chat at 11.30am &  PMQs from twelve noon

Live Parliament

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

We're All Pilgrims Now


Osborne's budget makes pilgrims of us all. Watch out for the Slough of Despond coming soon to a high street near you, courtesy of the Labour Party, UNITE and the BBC.

Budget: Summary + Video

Osborne gave an assured performance in the House this afternoon and many of the words we were expecting made an appearance: tough, hard, roof, together, fair, balanced.  It was noisy, thanks to the jeers of the Labour benches.  Here are some rough notes which give an overall picture of the detail I managed to glean:

The country has been over-spending; it has not been under-taxed.  77% spending cuts and 23% tax measures.

The country will not be joining the euro "in this Parliament" so he has abolished the Treasury's Euro Preparations Unit - staff have been redeployed.

Additional expenditure reductions of £30bn pa until 2014.  Capital spending will not be cut.  Priority given to projects that give "significant economic returns to the country".

Student loan book, the Tote, high speed rail, national air traffic control up for sale and no more public money for Royal Mail.

The Civil List will not be increased this year and a new means of "consolidated support" will be developed for the future.

Public sector pensions have been insulated so far but John Hutton will provide an interim report for changes to be made.  There will also be a two-yr pay freeze excluding the lowest paid - those earning less than £21k a year.

Ops allowance in Afghanistan increased.

State pension age to be increased to 66yrs.

Top salaries to be no more than  20x the lowest paid.

Corporation tax rate will be cut to 27% from next year falling to 24% in four years - one of the lowest rates - to encourage private enterprise.

Small companies tax rate to be cut to 20%.  Enterprise Finance Guarantee Scheme to be extended.

Annual investment allowance will be increased to £25k pa.

Banking sector will make "more appropriate contribution" reflecting the risks they pose.  From Jan 2011 there will be a bank levy generating over £2bn pa in revenue.

Landline tax to be abolished (not yet introduced but a Labour proposal in the Digital Economy Bill).

New businesses set up outside London & South-east will be exempt from up to £5k NI employers' contributions for first ten employees for the next three years.

VAT to be raised to 20% but the scope not extended.

No new duties on alcohol, fuel or tobacco.  Cider duty increase to be abolished.

Council tax to be frozen until 2011.

CGT increased to 28% for higher rate tax-payers from midnight tonight.

Personal tax allowance increased by £1k in April to £7,475.  Higher rate threshold remains frozen until 2013/14.

Pensioners to have earnings link restored from April 2011.  "No more 75pence increases under this govt - Pensioners will live with dignity in retirement."

Welfare benefits:
Will be focused on those most in need.  From next year benefits (excluding state pensions), tax credits and public section pensions will be rated in line with CPI not RPI.  Families earning up to £83k pa are currently entitled to tax credits - will be changed.

Child benefit will not be taxed or means-tested but it will be frozen for the next 3yrs.

Disability Living Allowance will not be reduced but a medical assessment will be introduced from 2013.  It will be a simpler process.

Housing benefit - some families receive £104k pa in housing benefit.  The system will be drastically overhauled.

***
Osborne: "Today we have paid the debt for a failed past.  Prosperity for all, that is our goal."
***

Full text of Osborne's speech

Information overload and .pdfs galore from HM Treasury

Strident Hattie is now in full sail, shouting about "the same old Tories".  Her speech is so predictable and hackneyed that it could have been written before she even had sight of the budget.

Chris Bryant raised a Point of Order related to leaking of budget details to the press and asked for it to be referred to the Committee of Standards & Privileges.

Videos to follow.

UPDATE:  This video from Sky is the best I can find at the moment:

**VAT Raised to 20%**

VAT will be raised to 20%
No new duty on alcohol, fuel or tobacco.
CGT increased to 28%
More later.

Emergency Budget: Live Blogs/Online Streaming

Unusually, it seems that no-one is running a live blog for Osborne's budget but both the Guardian and the Daily Telegraph have a very good running commentary throughout the morning.

If you want to catch it online there will be live streaming at
Live Parliament and Democracy Live.

Iain Dale will also be giving an analysis on the radio between 12.30 and 4pm: LBC

The Taxpayers' Alliance has released a short video reminding us what Cameron and Clegg said, pre-election, about a rise in VAT. It's worth remembering that under EU rules the government can raise VAT as much as it likes and when it likes but to reduce it again it must have permission.

The Multi-Lingual Trojan Horse & The EU

When is a conspiracy theory not a conspiracy theory?

I'm tired of bluff and double-bluff and bored with saying that there are many reasons to keep an eye on our govts and the EU but I still think it's best not to shoot until we see the whites of their eyes - we're just wasting ammo.

Cameron was hailed as the 'victor' of last week's meetings in Brussels, at least according to the press, because he avoided signing plans that would have required Britain to submit its budget to the EU for 'peer review' before presenting it to Parliament, or being drawn into possible sanctions for breaking the EU's budget rules.

That doesn't mean the UK has won anything - it's early days and we won't know until the Autumn what the outcome will be.  Cameron is either playing a poker hand or he doesn't realise what he's up against - one way has us biting our nails to the quick and pulling out our hair and the other has him up against a wall.

When Labour was in govt it was a no-brainer -  we were all definitely the fall-guys & Labour was up against the wall - but, with Cameron, who knows?  It's what he does that matters, not what he says and not whose cheek he kisses.  Maybe he's savvy and maybe he's not but I've said for years that we'll be the only people able to sort this out in the end.  It would be much kinder, and easier, if Cameron's tail wasn't being tied with tin-cans and firecrackers by Clegg and the LibDems; we need to get out of the EU asap - it was never meant for this nation to be subjugated by any power, foreign or domestic - no matter how neat the bows on the tail.

Looking at the past, it's just a softening up process.  History tells us that the UK is the fall-guy in all of this but, with a change of govt and Cameron at the helm, we're supposed to feel optimistic - the press alludes to his 'eurosceptic' qualifications.

Do I hold out much hope that Cameron is the man to re-organise the EU and send it back to its stated principles of a trading affiliation?  No, I don't, but Cameron offers the last chance of a UK Trojan Horse.  Given that the EU was built on a lie, sold on  a lie and continues on a lie, I'd be happy to see a peaceful & political British Trojan horse enter Strasbourg as recompense for the EU's Common Purpose Trojan horse in our country.

The heart of the matter is that the EU and those who work for it will do everything they can to sustain it.  It's been in the making since the end of the 2nd World War and those who think they know better than we will do everything they can to bring it into fruition to the bitter end - and since our institutions are corrupted and need clearing out from top to bottom, the end will be bitter indeed.

It will take a nation, not multi-lingual MPs or PMs, to get us out of this fatally-flawed ideology and the ability to speak French, German or Spanish will not make the process easier or less protracted.  When was the last time this country came together as a nation?   Think about it.

Cameron's feet have yet to be held to the fire on any major EU issue - the sweet smiles of Sarkozy/Merkel et al show that - but Cameron is intelligent and he will know all there is to know about a wolf's guile.

For the moment, I'm tired of asking questions about the 'UK' government,  of trying to provoke debate about the EU, and I suspect you're tired of me banging on about what they're up to so I give you this instead: it's a short clip in which Paul Newman plays the part of the UK & Strother Martin plays the part of EU:

Monday, 21 June 2010

Chopin: Ballade for piano No. 1 in G minor, Op. 23

WTF-F-F?

WARNING:  "Do not vote Conservative or George Osborne will steal your children and eat them," says ex-Chancellor Darling.

After a few days doing other things (really enjoyable - apart from a film which had my hormones weeping buckets) I was hoping to find something positive to comment on - but there's nothing. I thought the negativity might be down to my own frame of mind, my perspective, but the world has continued to turn over the weekend and the same sh!t (please excuse my French) has been thrown up yet again.

I'm not going to mention Chris Huhne (oops!) because I've never liked him so anything I write, such as what a hypocritical, bullying and arrogant waste of space he is, will be biased.

I'm not going to blog about how some sections of the media, the unions and political opposition have already judged tomorrow's Budget and decided that it is bad, bad, bad and that George Osborne is going to screw your granddad's pension and then your granny (before she's shipped off to the care home gulag to be fed on thin gruel twice a day, if she's lucky). Well, they say, we all know this is nothing to do with debt and deficit; it's just because the Tories are ideologically driven to sh@ft anyone who didn't go to Eton, what-ho! Well done to Sky News for following the Labour line.

I think old Pavlos Joseph is a bit of a numpty - so he would have had much in common with the England Squad and shouldn't have been arrested. On second thoughts ...

It was Cameron's 'Big Society' and his 'Diamond Dividend' that really got to me. The Diamond Dividend is a project whereby the Queen is being urged to lend her support to a think-tank project designed to encourage everyone every wage earner to tithe 1% of their earnings to charity on a regular basis. This is Cameron's Nudge philosophy courtesy of Res Publica's Phillip Blonde, the 'red Tory' praised by the left-wing Labourite Jon Cruddas.

I think most people give what they can already; the British people are amongst the most generous in terms of donations and voluntary work. Cameron says that we don't give as much as the US - perhaps that's because they're a low taxation nation and so have more disposable income. We're taxed up to the hilt and then some so, sorry Cammers, it's a bit rich to take half our yearly earnings in tax, cut back public services and then expect us to also donate more to charities to fill that gap. It's a non-runner.

In 'the age of austerity' (his phrase, not mine) he'd do well to remember two old-fashioned phrases: (1) look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves, and (2) charity begins at home. There is another phrase that we might all need this time next year: please sir, nudge, nudge, wink, wink, may we have some more?  And, I don't mean advisers and quangos.

On to another wtf-f-f moment: this is something Cameron really must sort out without delay to remove this insult to everything British from the streets and into jail (or, Heaven forbid, a few deportation orders):



It's no good blaming the EDL and arresting them while leaving the violent jihadists shouting hatred on the streets. Cameron must also look to the 166 Deobandi schools in England - they're moulding the future leaders, according to newspaper articles. The fact that these 'future leaders' believe in Sha'ria law must be a cause for concern to us all.

That the UAF (btw, love that chant guys, but it will never catch on in Britain), the Muslims against the Crusades, the EDL and a tolerant Muslim organisation (ex-Muslim?) are coming together more frequently is a sure sign that something has gone very wrong with the country.  The fact that members of the EDL were the only ones to be arrested is even worse and it will only attract more supporters.

As for the strapline on the video: "Islamic demo for Sharia law in UK sparks nationalist counter-protest", I'd have thought that was a given reaction. The police said the EDL protest didn't have permission and wasn't 'licensed' - well, Mr Met Police, the English don't 'need' a licence or permission to demonstrate so ** :-) We'll demonstrate how and where we want and in whatever way we see fit.

Cameron calling on us to show more support for our Armed Forces shows a lack of understanding of the dichotomy between supporting the war (aka the govt)  and supporting our troops.  It's a philosophical question and I look forward to hearing it debated in both Houses rather than demanded of the electorate.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Happenstance

The weekend starts here - it's all very spur of the moment.  Back in a day or two.  Hope you all have a great weekend and that England thrash Algeria this evening :-)

Thursday, 17 June 2010

FMQs 17 June 2010, Scottish Parliament

Why Iain Gray picked the curriculum for excellence for his three questions today defeats me. It's rather a woolly subject and he gave Alex Salmond an easy ride.

Have a listen to today's rather witty remark from the FM at around 3.00 minutes.

If you don't have time to view the video then you can find a brief summary of the half hour here on the BBC website.

Open Europe Briefing

The excellent Open Europe has published a new report detailing steps being taken towards an EU economic government.

The rise of the EU's economic government: Proposals on the table and what has already been achieved

It's a 20-page .pdf file which, amongst other topics, analyses the Greek bailout, the effects of the Stability & Growth pact, the monitoring of all 27 national budgets and possible cracks in the Franco-German axis.

Here are the keypoints followed by a few quotes from some of the euro-elite:
  • The eurozone is now a de facto debt union, with its members taking on the liabilities of each others' sovereign debts and with the European Central Bank financing states through its purchases of government bonds.
  • The legality of the eurozone rescue packages, agreed in the spring, is dubious since they are inconsistent with the 'no bailout' clauses in the EU Treaties. The €60 billion stabilisation fund, for which British taxpayers are liable for around €8 billion, is particularly questionable on legal grounds - and would most likely not survive a test in a non-politicised court. Crucially, it transfers both powers and potentially more taxpayers' money to the EU - both of which the UK Coalition Government has said it opposes.
  • At the summit, EU leaders will discuss a proposal requiring member states to submit their national budgets to the Commission and other finance ministers before sending them to national parliaments. The UK Government opposes this, but according to the Commission has no veto over the proposal.
  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and now French President Nicolas Sarkozy, have said that a change to the EU Treaties might be necessary to achieve stronger economic governance, including tougher sanctions for member states that violate the bloc's budget rules. A Treaty change is likely to come up against resistance but is not off the cards if Angela Merkel spends the political capital needed to push it through.
  • UK Prime Minister David Cameron has said he will veto any Treaty change that transfers more powers from Westminster to Brussels. However, rather than being on the defensive, Cameron could work with Angela Merkel and other partners to achieve Treaty changes – but ask for substantial EU reforms in return, including the repatriation of powers back to the UK.
  • The nature of the negotiations is likely to depend on the contrasting Franco-German visions of how to deal with the current economic problems.
  • France, on the one hand, hopes to move a step closer to its long-held desire for economic government of the eurozone, including the greater harmonisation of all economic policy across its 16 members.
  • Germany, on the other hand, is pushing for much tougher budgetary rules for the eurozone, backed by sanctions, but fears the politicisation of economic policy. It therefore wants to water down the French plans for economic government by more loosely applying aspects of them to the entire 27 member states rather than focussing them more tightly on the eurozone members.

“We are clearly confronted with a tension within the system, the ill-famous dilemma of being a monetary union and not a full-fledged economic and political union. This tension has been there since the single currency was created. However, the general public was not really made aware of it” - European Council President, Herman Van Rompuy, 25 May 2010
“I am sure the euro will oblige us to introduce a new set of economic policy instruments. It is politically impossible to propose that now. But some day there will be a crisis and new instruments will be created”- Then European Commission President, Romano Prodi, 2001
“The single currency is the greatest abandonment of sovereignty since the foundation of the European Community… the decision is of an essentially political nature" - Former Spanish Prime Minister Felipe González, 1998
“The introduction of the Euro is probably the most important integrating step since the beginning of the unification process. It is certain that the times of individual national efforts regarding employment policies, social and tax policies are definitely over. This will require finally burying some erroneous ideas of national sovereignty”- Then German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, 1999
“The process of monetary union goes hand in hand with political integration and ultimately political union. EMU is, and was always meant to be, a stepping stone on the way to a united Europe”- Then President of the European Central Bank, Wim Duisenberg, 2001.
“The European currency will lead to member nations transferring their sovereignty over financial and wage policies as well as monetary affairs. It is an illusion to think that states can hold on to their autonomy over taxation policies”- Former President of the German Bundesbank, Prof. Hans Tietmeyer.
"There is no example in history of a lasting monetary union that was not linked to one state" - Member of the ECB Executive Board, Otmar Issing, 1991

"We're Not Small People"

Carl-Henric Svanberg, Chairman of BP, has had to apologise for his apology in which he referred, twice, to "the small people".
“What I was trying to say, that BP understands how deeply this affects the lives of people who live along the Gulf and depend on it for their livelihood, will best be conveyed not by any words but by the work we do to put things right for the families and businesses who’ve been hurt.”  
However, some of those most affected by the spill don't seem too impressed:
We’re not small people. We’re human beings,” Justin Taffinder of New Orleans said. “They’re no greater than us. We don’t bow down to them.”
and
“They can call me small, miniature, they can call me anything they want,” added Tony Kennon, the mayor of Orange Beach, Alabama. “Just write the cheque and send it to us.”
The chap's Swedish; English is his second language.  Yes, it would have been better if he'd had someone check his words for him but, give him a break and let BP get on with the job instead of the constant harping.

Here's a video doing the rounds - 10/10 for those English accents, 0/10 for objectivity:

"Stone Walls Do Not A Prison Make...

...nor iron bars a cage."  Nigel Farage speaks at the EP:


Pinched from Fausty

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

BP Apologises

The Chairman of BP, Carl-Henric Svanberg, stood on the White House lawn this evening and apologised to "all the small people".

I think something was lost in the translation.

Sky
Daily Telegraph

Music Theme Of The Day

I've been reading about Spain, Germany, France and the euro again and, for some strange reason, this old music came to mind.  You only need the first 25secs - the rest is an added-value bonus:

Joke Of The Day

Where would we be without the EU and trades unionists?

The former General-Secretary of the TUC (1993-2003), John Monks, has done rather nicely for himself and has been the leader of the European Trades Union Confederation since 2003.

He's been putting himself about quite a bit lately and today he was on the Daily Politics Show being asked for his views on the euro in light of the problems in Spain, Greece et al by Andrew Neil.

Monks said that the Stability & Growth pact was first broken by Germany and France and that:
"The euro, to count it down & out and start the obituary notices now is premature.  I mean, there's people queuing up to join it - Poland for example.  Are they all crazy in Poland?"
When it was pointed out to him that some would argue it should never be allowed in and that Spain, Italy, Greece, Portugal never met the criteria, in particular Spain hadn't meet the total national debt criteria of 60%,  he responded by saying:
"Spain met the criteria on Maastricht convergence.  Well, look, nobody in Britain should start smirking about the national total debt because with households, businesses and government all in difficulty, not to mention a large part of our banks... but it seems to me... er, that... ... "
Neil replied that no-one was smirking but were actually quite terrified of the knock-on effects and Monks said we were right to be terrified because he'd "detected an air of considerable self-congratulation" in Britain.

When asked about countries presenting their budgets to the EU before their own Parliaments had sight of them he said that "all the dodgy accounting has to be stopped" and he referred to "the banking system" and what he called "national accounts".  No one mentioned the EU's own accounts which have never been signed off.

So that's it.  My joke of the day is Comrade John Monks for highlighting the utter hypocrisy and vacuity of our socialist brethren.

Francis Maude was also on the show and reiterated that the UK would not show its budget to Brussels before Parliament had seen it.  No-one mentioned that the EU has offered the UK the chance to "simultaneously" present the budget as a get-out-of-a-tight-corner card.

UPDATE:  Perhaps I was too quick off the mark nominating Monks.  I think MSP Frank McAveety is a serious contender:

“There's a very attractive girl in the second row, dark ... and dusky. I know, we'll maybe put a wee word out for her,” Mr McAveety told a clerk sitting next to him.  “She's very attractive looking, nice, very nice, very slim,” before adding: “The heat's getting to me.”
“She looks kinda ... she's got that Filipino look,” he continued, before comparing the woman to the subject of a painting by Paul Gauguin, the leading post-Impressionist artist.  “You know ... the kind you'd see in a Gauguin painting. There's a wee bit of culture.”

Bye bye Mr McAveety.
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