Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Jeff Says

Jeff Randall writes as clearly and as pithily as anyone on the subject of British business and HM Treasury. Here he is, putting very succinctly what everyone in Westminster knows, yet almost none of them are prepared to acknowledge:

When the government talks of “ring-fenced” spending, it is referring to health, education and aid. But, in effect, the protective cordon extends well beyond these areas. According to the Office for Budget Responsibility, despite forecasts of higher employment and lower unemployment between now and 2017-18, social security spending – in cash terms – is not coming down. Neither is Britain’s interest bill, as it would be unthinkable to default on our sovereign debt (currently £1.3 trillion and rising).

Add up all the “untouchable” expenditure – social protection (£220 billion), health (£137 billion), education (£97 billion), debt interest (£51 billion) and international aid (£11 billion) – and £516 billion of the Chancellor’s annual outlay of £720 billion is hermetically sealed. Thus, if he is to make a dent in his £108 billion deficit, i.e. the annual difference between tax receipts and state spending, he has only £204 billion to shoot at. This, given the constraints of political realities, is a mathematical impossibility. It simply cannot and will not be done.

I think he is correct in his analysis and conclusion. Until or unless a credible politician leads one of the two main  parties and treats the electorate as grown-ups, we will continue to explore the area of the map marked 'Delusion'. I fear that the 2015 election is already set to be a bully-off between three parties who wish us to believe that a shade more 'austerity', or a shade more 'investment' will tip the scales. 'We care about ordinary working families more than they do!' - 'They got us into this mess!' - 'We can protect all public spending AND create an enterprise society!' Yadda, yadda, etc, etc. Ya boo sucks and how's my gold-plated pension pot doing?

2020 will be the election for grown-up politicians (maybe from one side only). Neither Cameron, nor Osborne, nor Balls or the Ed Miller Band will feature. A little bird in the Upper House who is close (by dint of his cheque book) to Number Ten tells me that Theresa May is the one to watch. She is running a tight Home Office, and has the respect of much of her party. I agree that she needs to work on her universal attractiveness, but she gets how bad things are. You may laugh. Just sayin'.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

The Argument Against Intervention

I'm inclined to believe what Our (former) Man in Damascus has to say on the matter:

All this spin reflects a fundamental failure to understand the nature of the situation in Syria. Bashar al-Assad is a figurehead, not a dictator on the pattern of Saddam Hussein, or even his father.  If he were to leave for any reason he would be replaced in a twinkling of an eye by some Alawite general.  What some outside observers fail to realise is that the Alawites, having run a very tough police state for 40 years, simply cannot afford to lose power. If they were to do so, they believe that they and their families would be massacred. They may well be right.
On the other side, the rebels fear that, if the present regime were to be left in place, then the secret police would be after them in a flash and they too would suffer a terrible fate. Quite apart from this mutual fear there is, regrettably, now a deep seated desire for revenge by many of those on both sides who have suffered so terribly.
Let those who still think Western intervention could be remotely helpful in this dreadful situation make their case on Monday evening.  I suspect that they will struggle to do so.

Sir Andrew Green is the former Ambassador to Syria. He will be speaking at the next Spectator Debate on 24 June, debating the motion ‘Assad is a war criminal. The West must intervene in Syria’ with Malcolm Rifkind, Douglas Murray, Dr Halla Diyab and more. Click here to book tickets.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Aussie Electioneering

Julia GillardTony Abbott

The Australians go to the polls in September and things are hotting up. The race is between a Welsh woman and a bloke who is famous for being photographed in his budgie smugglers. The last election was a dead heat between the two, with the winner decided by which of them offered the most money had the more appealing 'local infrastructure policies' to a couple of backwoodsman Queensland MPs who belonged to neither national party, but to the remnants or variants of the party founded by the remarkable Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen.

This is in pretty poor taste, but I feel it my duty to pass on to you the latest news from the stump:

The Liberal Party (led by Tony Abbott, he of the banana hammock) had a fundraiser recently at which the menu featured "Julia Gillard Kentucky Fried Quail - Small Breasts, Huge Thighs and a Big Red Box".

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Just Say Yeo

“If you want to meet the right people, I can facilitate all those introductions and I can use the knowledge I get from what is quite an active network of connections.”

One thing for sure, Tim Yeo won't resign. Nor will his party leader make him do so. The depth of climate change zealots and ratbags in Parliament will mean he gets an easy time on this. They all appear to have too much skin in the game, whether it be current and future taxation, or planned careers once their ministerial gigs come to an end.

We must hope, however, that his open admission that he is prepared to corrupt his position as chairman of the all-party Energy and Climate Change Select Committee for £7 grand a month will, at least, get him pushed out by sustained pressure from the small but vociferous percentage of MPs of all parties (except the Libs and the Green woman, natch) that know just what a scam this all is.

Tim Yeo costs all of us money, needlessly. He ramps the cost of one of our most necessary commodities. He is fundamentally dishonest. May the ghastly spiv rot for eternity.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

On Gongs

I have the highest regard for Amanda Donnelly, Gemini Donnelly-Martin and Ingrid Loyau-Kennett. Their courage and sang-froid, in an increasingly cowardly and hysterical world, are an example to us all and a terrific message to send to other would-be-murdering savages and their apologists, mentors and supporters. (I apologise for reproducing a picture of the grisly scene, but thought it necessary for the post).

I was sent the following today from a petition group which I thought I'd unsubscribed from:

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By Rev. Jesse v.

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Image removed by sender.
On 22 May after Fusilier Lee Rigby was killed in an horrific attack in Woolwich, three women stepped forward, confronted the attackers and went to his aid.
Amanda Donnelly and her daughter Gemini Donnelly-Martin comforted the soldier as he lay on the ground and Ingrid Loyau-Kennett calmly spoke to the attackers until police arrived. The fact that no other bystander was hurt in the incident is testament to the courageous actions of these women.
As the Rector of Woolwich I saw how the tragedy hit this community hard, but the actions of Gemma, Amanda and Ingrid has been an inspiration to all of us. Instead of running away when they saw danger they went straight to the heart of it. 
As the people of Woolwich comes to terms with what happened here -- coming together to honour the heroines of that day will send a positive message of unity and peace.
The George Medal can be awarded to civilians for acts of great bravery. This is one of those acts. Please sign the petition to ask the MOD to award Ingrid, Gemini and Amanda the George Medal.

My instinct is that this is not George Medal stuff. I hope I am not being mealy-mouthed. They have my thanks and admiration, but I don't think they should be rewarded with George Medals.

Or am I wrong?