Sunday, 30 December 2012

Looking forward to 2013 from under the covers

Now that we have had the New Year's "Keep Calm and Carry On" from the Head Hamster, pulling every false Etonian face that he can possibly manage, and the uncharacteristic silence of Mister Ed in response, life can continue much as before.  Clearly Cameron continues to believe that his monstrously-incompetent set of policies will deliver some form of payback for the Tories.  It's much more likely that his combination of ineptitude and arrogance will produce a Labour-led government and give the risible Farage yet more media exposure.

2013, assuming that the USA does not decide to set the entire global economy firmly into reverse, will not be any better than 2012.  Actually, that doesn't stack up, as there will be no Olympics, no Golden Jubilee and only the arriviste sprog to divert attention away from the Bullingdon Massive to the Royal Family.  The economy will not recover, inflation will continue to be high, as it is about the only policy that Gideon has left that might reduce the real value of debt.

Meanwhile, the Tories appear to be deciding that their only way forward is to have another bloodletting on Europe - merely proving my hypothesis that Cameron is the new John Major (albeit without the gumption or interest to attract Edwina Currie).  The dog-whistles of the right are all working perfectly, and the reality that Britain would be more marginalised, more prone to economic decay and outside major markets is not something that the lunatics would wish to be considered.

So, for a displaced Liberal, the compliments of the season are accompanied by a somewhat worse case of dyspeptic scepticism.  Doubtless the New Year will be a time of interest, but in the meantime it is probably better contemplated from underneath several layers of warmth and irony. 

Sunday, 23 December 2012

The march of the plebs continues

As a supporter of the second Gulf War, it would be interesting to hear Andrew Mitchell's opinions on being convicted by dodgy dossier.  Even if he has been stitched up, he has merely lost an undistinguished right-wing career rather than been guilty by association in launching an illegal war that has resulted in the suffering of millions.

Mitchell's defenders, including the ludicrous and overblown peroration of former Minister Nick Herbert, make out that he is a victim of a combination of police vitriol against the Tories and a trigger- happy Bullingdon Dave.  These may be true, but as Chief Whip he had to have a thick hide and be as prepared to dole it out as he was to receive it, and the fact remains that he swore at police who were attempting to remonstrate with the smug, bumptious pillock.

The low-class, low-rent school of Toryism that Mitchell epitomises is happy to dish it out to the rest of society, especially if it can't answer back.  However, the only response to his current apologists and his ranting at the police is the utterly seasonable "Bah! Humbug!".

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Osborne and Alexander's clueless double-act

It would be easy to dissect the problems with economic policy if there was anything to describe as such.    Ironically, the Autumn Statement was delivered on a day when a light sprinkling of snow paralysed the South-East of England - but in order to discern the mentality of Gideon and Beaker one would be better off ingesting other white powders.

Midway through the austerity project, the scourging and the tokenistic attempts to portray the rich and the corporate sector as making any meaningful contribution to the country are becoming not merely tedious but so utterly devoid of credibility that even an inveterate liar would be open-mouthed in admiration.  It gets surreal - the response to reduced corporation tax yields is to reduce corporation tax itself, rather than setting up the system in such a way that it cannot be avoided.

At the same time, Osborne plays to the misguided gallery through his constant refusal to do anything about property tax - while at the same time capping benefits.  Most rational people would argue that the best way to reduce the benefits bill would be to ensure that they were only claimed by those who needed them - reducing dependency cultures and getting people to work - rather than making the genuinely-distressed even more penurious.

This set of proposals are the early fruits of the odious Lynton Crosby's return to Tory service.  About the only dog-whistle that Gideon didn't reprise was the immigration card - doubtless this will be up their sleeve in time for the election.  The discredited myths of trickledown and the sovereignty of the "entrepreneurial" class are alive and kicking, despite all the evidence that a better route to recovery would be kicking the bankers, the City and pump-priming through genuine investment.

What would have been interesting is if a genuine left-liberal alternative had been put forward - for example compelling pension funds to invest in infrastructure bonds (a long-term asset for long-term businesses) or a review of outsourcing and privatisation.  However, Osborne is too much of the diseased spaniel to the carcases of the Tory grandees, and this would have required genuine radicalism.

Labour had an undefended wicket, but persisted in bowling off-stump - so the challenge has been muted.  A selfish, mean-spritied and totally gutless response to economic crisis has been ongoing, and the common sense test should be applied - but there is no real opposition.  Beaker and George will be sniggering until they reach puberty together and can discover the pleasures of male adolescence.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Waiting for the tumbrils

Nobody would wish personal ills on the Duchess of Cambridge, unless they have a total lack of humanity and proportion.  However, there is a sense of desperation around the sycophantic scribbling and monarchical maunderings that is an encouraging omen for those of us who are sceptical about not merely the role of the Windsors but the bread and circuses that we are fed as a substitute for rational thought.

Where does this new-found optimism spring from?  There appears to have been much less acceptance that the travails of the second- and putative-third in line to the tainted throne are as important as the incompetence of the Government, the traumas of the wider world or any of the myriad news events that have been edged out by news media exercising their forelock-tugging "discretion".  I discount the mid-market rightist drool-rags on the basis that they will never reform themselves, nor will they ever underestimate the necessity of maintaining their readers' lack of any brain-stem activity, or indeed aerobic respiration.

At the end of a Jubilee year, with a gold medal in cant and hypocrisy with Cameron and Johnson wrapping themselves up in Livingstone's Olympic folly, there is a limit to the credulousness that can be assumed.  The interest in the personal doings of a bunch of social-climbing chancers and the flotsam of former absolutist monarchies is neither healthy nor necessary - and a declining prurience.  If it does not achieve newspaper sales, website hits or audience ratings it will become even less manifest.

That is a necessary precondition for adult debate on constitutional governance.  Whether or not this convinces more people that a republican option is desirable, downplaying personal voyeurism and the ad hominem fixation on the charade may actually allow some progress to be made out of the 17th century.

Friday, 30 November 2012

Cameron still responds to Murdoch's dog-whistle

David Cameron's performance responding to the Leveson report demonstrates why the man is unfit to be Prime Minister.  It is perfectly possible to be a civil libertarian and argue that the media needs to be underpinned by a statutory backing for a regulatory framework - not arguing for intervention in content but in ensuring that relations between the media, politicians and the police are subject to independent and effective scrutiny.

All the press, from the rarefied and reasonably-ethical to the cesspool of the tabloids, has been sailing closer to the abyss for the last thirty years.  What Leveson exposed is that a dying medium becomes more and more desperate and less concerned with probity, especially with the active or passive collusion of those who the public have a reasonable expectation to defend them from abuse.  This alone is sufficient to require action to defend the public.

Instead what we received from our Prime Minister, who increasingly resembles Thatcher in being dependent upon Murdoch's support for continued political survival beyond the reasonable sell-by date, was a casuistry worthy of Opus Dei in arguing that, despite all evidence to the contrary, all that was needed for self-regulation to work were incremental tweaks to the existing framework.  A more sceptical person than I would imagine that News International had some input to the insipidity that he came out with.

The facts that the Prime Minister, despite warnings, employed a media adviser who is now facing criminal charges, and that the engagement with News International in the run-up to the 2010 election saw a total reversal of Tory media policy to a pro-Murdoch agenda, and that he then used illogic and unreason to perpetuate the career of Jeremy "Rhyming Slang" Hunt even when the test of what a reasonable person would think had been exceeded, demonstrates a huge lack of judgement and moral turpitude on a level that should be called out.

However, as a dog knows not to bite the hand that feeds, Cameron still seems impelled to deal with his patrons leniently.  Off he goes to Cruft's for obedience class - jumping through logical and ethical hoops to get his mates off the hook.

One Tory backbencher asked whether the Liberal Democrats should still be in Coalition with the Tories following Clegg's endorsement of Leveson's recommendations.  Leaving aside whether they should have been there in the first place, this is pertinent.  As it becomes clear that Cameron remains Murdoch's parliamentary representative, Clegg has to weigh up what that means for democracy going forward - even at the expense of his remaining electoral prospects.  

It might be that Clegg should use Leveson as the final piece of evidence that the Tories have given no thought to the realities of Coalition, and that they cannot be treated as rational or ethical partners.  This is a time to surf the wave of disgust and revulsion, not to tie in a political destiny with a bunch of amoral clients whose interests are diametrically opposed to a free, scrutinising press, and who see in the media a means of stifling debate rather than promoting plurality, information and engagement.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Little England on its last legs

When feeling optimistic, you can imagine that we are living in the last days of the ancien regime.  Whereas in earlier times, soothsayers and self-styled prophets would crawl out of the woodwork, we now have media phenomena such as the Poujadist Nigel Farage and his merry band of people for whom the Conservatives are not sufficiently knuckle-dragging (a concept which takes some getting used to, given the craven performance of Dave and his merry bunch of apparatchiks).

There have been two gambles on nationalism this year - the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics.  Now that these have come and gone, the hollowness at the heart of England is only too apparent.

England feels like a country that has lost any sense of purpose; now there is nothing left but for the dog-whistle issues of immigration, Europe and insecurity to be paraded before the public.  A corrupt and incompetent political system, unrepresentative, unaccountable and undemocratic alienates most people, who can watch slack-jawed as the plutocrats suck their pensions and social provision dry, while the merry band of outsourcers remove any form of accountability or responsibility from politicians and officials.

The petty-minded and ignorant attempt to blame everything on Europe means that even when there is some point to complaint, for example around the bloated and insulated Commission, the mere fact that it is an English politician leading the charge diminishes the impact to molecular level.  Given that the Commission appears to be the last vestige of neo-liberal idiocy within the Union is ironic, but that would be too difficult a concept for the backwoods Tory cretinocracy to grasp.

The monarchy will survive, for the time being.  However the residual affection is not enough to withstand more scandal, or the recognition that the feudal nature of the constitution is not tenable as the United Kingdom moves towards federalism.  The Established Church is doing its level best to disestablish itself, which would be no bad thing.

Still, when UKIP think that Michael Gove is a serious potential partner, we can only hope that this is surrealism gone mad.  The tumbrils will be out in force with Leveson, the by-elections and the recognition that the absence of a Plan A for the economy has gone on too long.  There is a little chink of light that the exploiters and the hypocrites who live in a mythical 1950s state may find themselves swept aside by anger, and a recognition that England is a backwater which needs to assess where it stands in a world where its superiority complex has become a laughing-stock.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Cameron wants to kill what's left of democratic accountability

Forgetting the appointment of Lynton Crosby (the evil behind the evil that is Boris) for a moment, Hamster-face achieved approbation from his paymasters at the CBI for announcing his intention to strip the mere mortals of British society of most of their vestigial rights to challenge, complain and generally make the process of government reasonably accountable.

In the interests of "removing red tape" - translated as making it easier for the CBI (another prime unelected lobby group) to make a quick buck - Cameron tried to invoke a Churchillian Little Englander mentality in the current economic climate.  Removing controls on planning, removing the need for government to consult, consider equality and making it much harder to challenge Ministerial and bureaucratic decisions through judicial review are all further evidence that the Tories want to take us into a combination of feudalism and crony capitalism, with them and their mates creaming off the profits.

Given the complexity of government activity, through outsourcing, PFIs and the extent to which everything is wrapped up in "business-friendly" contracts, any removal of the citizen's right to contest the action of government is a fundamental assault on democracy and human rights.  Not that this worries the Tories, who have been happily spending their time creating as many mechanisms to protect their clients from the consequences of bungling, authoritarian politics.

Removing rights, in the name of "efficiency" and because government knows best, is a slippery slope - even dictatorships maintain a fiction of a rule of law.  This is time for revolt, and time to exploit every current opportunity to challenge government, and to ensure that the Tory crony state is challenged.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Hardly a disaster for democracy

The earth will not stop rotating on its axis because of the risible turnout in the England and Wales Police and Crime Commissioner elections.  For those of us who bothered to vote it will make no tangible difference to either our daily lives or the conduct of policing - replacing an unelected Police Authority with a dubiously-mandated egotist is unlikely to result in much change.

Pathetic though the elections were, they tell a very uncomfortable tale about democratic engagement and the power that the electorate feels it has.  The incentive to vote is directly proportional to the amount of difference it will make, and this suits political parties just fine - as well as the centralising hand of bureaucracy and graft that is permitting far too much of what should be communal activity to fall into the hands of outsourced greed-monsters whose definition of accountability is ensuring that the brown envelopes can be weighed.

When David Blunkett pops up to say that people are tired of constitutional innovation, you realise quite what a mountain needs to be climbed to encourage any thought of citizen power.  Civic participation and engagement should not be optional, but successive governments have, through emasculation of democratic powers, centralising control and contracting out services that should be accountable to elected politicians in ways that render scrutiny impossible, it's hardly surprising that most people can't be bothered.

Still, Michael Mates lost, which for all those burned by Asil Nadir can only be seen as a positive outcome.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Does the BBC bell toll for "Newsnight"?

The decision of the BBC's Director-General to fall on his own sword marks at least a partially-honourable example of accountability in public life, which Dave and his ethically-challenged cohorts should do well to note.  A poorly-researched report which trashed the reputation of a senior Tory donor, and the apparent lack of editorial control within "Newsnight" are sufficient, when the spotlight is trained on editorial and personnel incompetence, to warrant a raft of resignations and reforms.

When the medium becomes the message, and public discussion focuses on what appear to be sloppy journalistic and editorial practices, then even the stoutest defender of the BBC needs to sit up and take notice.  There is a raft of evil still waiting to be dragged into the public realm, and this approach to the issue makes it more rather than less likely that the opacity of bureaucracy, the arrogance of politicians and the incompetence of supposedly responsible agencies will be illuminated.  Instead, the crisis in child protection and the conspiracy of silence will be less probed than the media story which has emerged almost as a proxy for areas that there is too much murkiness and suppressed guilt about already.

Not that this means that the BBC should be immune from criticism and probing.  "Newsnight" has rapidly deteriorated in recent years from a flagship of political and analytical journalism into a fringe programme, personality-driven and with an agenda that appears to have become designed to seek attention, to reflect on its presenters' foibles, and to create much sound and fury while not actually holding politicians and others to account.  From a late-evening appointment view, it has fallen into the trap of being an excuse to switch over to the radio where the analysis is far superior on "The World Tonight", and less obsessed with the metropolitan reticules and generating its own mythology.

Therefore, perhaps the time has come to put it out of its misery - as it does nothing as well as "Channel 4 News" or indeed the plethora of other media outlets that maintain a real-time presence.  A parish magazine for London neurotics is not necessarily a good use of the licence fee, especially as its premise of more detailed analysis has been overtaken by the expansion of access to information.  Thirty years on, a great reputation is being tarnished - and it brings obloquy on the remainder of the BBC.

Why it's radical to remember

Since 1918, there has been an organised commemoration of the victims of war - not glorifying militarism and pseudo-patriotism, but saluting the courage and sacrifice of generations whose lives were defined by the conflicts that they had done very little or nothing to engender.  It is perfectly possible, and actually much more rational, to remember in the context of the ultimate futility of armed conflicts.  This is not disrespectful to anyone beyond the political caste whose manipulation and failure cost lives and prosperity across the world.

Of all the nauseating spectacles that the right perpetrates, the wrapping of itself in the poppy and the Union Jack is the hardy perennial.  Every year there is a witch-hunt of anyone who appears to dissent from the simplistic narrative of nationalist drivel and narrow-minded conformity that demeans the millions of combatents who have fallen in the service of others.

This is the real disrespect.  For the rest of humanity, we should be ensuring that political and personal morality and conduct precludes repetitions of butchery and mass slaughter, with gratitude to those whose otherwise unsung service provide us with a context in which to this.  Flag-waving and appropriation of a narrative do not achieve anything, beyond demeaning those whose myriad individual experiences are co-opted for a partial narrative.  We cannot allow this to happen, for that would ultimately invalidate the real reason to remember, reflect and contemplate.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Don't blame the BBC - Savile demonstrates our sick society

The hysteria spewing forth from the Murdoch press, the Tory party and their associated lapdogs appears to be a diversionary tactic to end all sidesteps.  Skewered by Plebgate, Leveson and the ineptitude, hubris and apparent corruption of a Cabinet whose sleaziness and moral incontinence is reminiscent of Major's administration circa 1994, the standard approach is to blame the BBC for everything.

Notwithstanding that the unlamented creepy child abuser was a house-guest of Thatcher, and that his alleged activities will only have been facilitated by the complicity of then Ministers in allowing him privileged access to victims in hospitals and secure institutions, the obvious target is the current management of public service broadcasting.  This is the contemptible reality of a media dominated by megolomaniac plutocrats, who secure the allegiance of political lackeys through passive threats and an active hatred of any institution that threatens their control of information.

There are clearly questions for the BBC to answer, if only to reassure the wider public that the secrecy and sexist culture that allegedly permitted abuse to occur has been eliminated.  Yet management decisions and practices of decades ago are being dragged up - as the alternative of considering the needs, rights and expectations of victims is too complex an issue for the accusers and ranters to appreciate.

The repressive atmosphere of the 1950s and subsequent decades created climates where abuse was not merely unacknowledged, but much easier to perpetrate - this so-called golden age that the "Daily Mail" wants to drag us back to.  From Catholic priests, through schoolteachers, social workers and others right up to the celebrities of the time behaviours that would earn obloquy today were ignored, and the victims often accused themselves. 

This is why the Tories and their minions are so eager to attack the BBC - and to pick up suspect practices or misjudgments as far more important than the systematic evil that is being exposed.  Far more pertinent would be to examine how Savile, despite being under suspicion and investigation, did not merely slip through the net but was given public recognition of his "charitable" activities around Stoke Mandeville hospital and Broadmoor.

So much easier to shoot a (slightly-tainted) messenger.  And so much more convenient to sweep the real issues aside in favour of displaced resentment of impartial journalism and a mission to explain.


Saturday, 20 October 2012

Plebs, snobs and schadenfreude

It's probably unseemly to gloat over the demise of Andrew Mitchell, but seemliness is not necessary when we are dealing with the final unravelling of the myth of "we're all in this together" and the real Tory spirit emerging.  The fact that it took the uncouth oaf nearly a month to realise that his political career had imploded with a foul-mouthed insult reminds me that self-awareness and common decency are handicaps in contemporary politics.

Meanwhile, Gideon managed to get himself into bother on a train.  Whatever the precise details, it is clear that the image being presented to the public is not exactly the one that Dave has been pretending to endorse.  I suspect that there is much less to this than meets the eye - it's all part of the entitlement culture inherited from the bankers where everyone else has to pay for the high-rolling lifestyle of the self-defined panjandrums - and Osborne would hardly expect his mate Beardie to charge him for travel when he's just been gifted a dubious single-tender cash stream due to the fiasco that the government has inflicted on the civil service.

So it's hardly surprising that I can feel no sympathy for either of these two egregious idiots.  We shall see how long Gideon lasts - he would probably characterise the behaviour as fare avoidance rather than fare evasion as it's the milieu that the "entrepreneurial" regard as their comfort zone.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Gove, Hammond and the European dog-whistle

Being of a delicate disposition, I try to ignore the Mail on Sunday as it interferes with my digestion, sentience and feeling of belonging to the same species as people who read it.  However, while picking up my preferred choice of Sunday reading, I noticed that its front-page headline revealed that the chinless Gove is now attempting to drum up support within his noxious party for Euro-scepticism - doubtless trying to outflank UKIP and win the support of the pea-brained xenophobes who might otherwise be tempted to try Farage's odious bilgefest.

And then the Defence Secretary, the multi-millionaire Petrolhead Hammond, pops up with his idiot echo of Gove's comments.  Truly this party is full of people who would fail an IQ test, not to mention failing to produce any oxygen when tested for photosynthesis.

The United Kingdom is a weak construct, and a weak economy.  Gideon may well be right that there is no Plan B, but then there is no Plan A other than looking pious and extracting social cohesion and aggregate demand from the economy in the name of fiscal orthodoxy that would have offended a reactionary 1920s economist.  It is not a world power, nor can it aspire to be.

Rather than accepting that our fate is bound up with our neighbours' - and that they might have something worthwhile to teach us in terms of society, economy and culture - there is a battering-ram approach that suggests anything American is innately superior.  This is the Tory lie - based around an inability to engage with any language, culture or society that does not want to move further towards the kind of amoral neoliberalism that the fools on the extreme right consider to be the correct fate for a post-industrial society.

This idiocy brought down the last Tory government, fortunately.  In the current climate it should bring down the Coalition - because what is needed now is for the modern world to intrude.  Nobody believes that the EU is perfect, or perfectible, but it's a damn sight preferable to the barren, unequal and squalid wasteland that Gove and his advisers wish to inflict upon the rest of the world, while they live in a hermetically-sealed world upon which reality is never allowed to intrude.

Jimmy Savile, slavering, odium and ordure

Those defending Jimmy Savile, whose basic premise appears to be a syllogistic delusion based around that he was a celebrity and lived in an era where droit de seigneur had only just been abolished, are a morality tale for the rest of us.  Savile always had the air of the creepy park-lurker about him, and it is hardly surprising that there are now sufficiently-motivated victims who find the solidarity in numbers that the abuser habitually seeks to deny.

The few remaining apologists refer to "charity" as though that acts as a justification - and they would be horrified were this to be made equivalent to Hitler's advocacy of vegetarianism.  The next hoary old right-wind chestnut that they spout is that the victims are just looking for compensation.

This is so deluded that it would be hilarious were it not demeaning those who have been damaged and degraded over a period of decades.  Closure and progress go together, and now that the genie is out of the bottle a collective process may actually provide some way forward for the unfortunate prey upon which he feasted, with or without collusion from others.

Given that there has been progress over the decades, it is hardly surprising that this kind of behaviour has become easier both to spot and to prevent.  Yet the progress is only limited - the morality of celebrity magazines and the "lad's mag" phenomenon is not that far removed from the kind of sexist workplace and blind-eye culture that permeated institutions far beyond the BBC in the 1970s and 1980s.

Only last week, there was a furore raised about the night-club culture targeted at students that promotes sexism at best and the misogynist macho wannabe-Alpha male at worst.  Those who attack this are portrayed as killjoys or politically-correct mavens - demonstrating quite how fragile is any vision of valuing the human being.

Therefore, I'm firmly with those who believe that the Savile boil has to be lanced publicly, as only by revealing the damage that has been wrought can we even claim to be aspiring to civilisation.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Tories unmasked - it's a shame it had to be Beardie

About the only success that the Tories have managed to reap from the West Coast Main Line fiasco is that opposition politicians, trade unions and journalists have turned their attention to the system of rail franchising rather than the real culpability of the idiots with their fixation with introducing the market across the range of public service activities, and their moral and personal turpitude with respect to shifting the blame onto others.

The latter is interesting.  Doubtless there are civil servants who are incompetent, poorly trained or under-resourced, and many of these may have applied in this specific case.  However, the baleful influence of Special Political Advisers, recruited to ensure that their master's (or mistress's) political expediency replaces deliberative and systematic analysis within government, is an area on which more light should be shed.  The politicisation of the executive is an ongoing saga.

Since Thatcher, there has been a systematic attempt to demean and demoralise the civil service - and the usual suspects in the slavering hate-bins of the "Mail" and "Torygraph" are swallowing the line that this is a bureaucratic rather than political issue with the alacrity that they usually reserve for misrepresenting Europe and talking up house prices.  The assumption is that anyone who seeks public service can't be as good as a private-sector parasite.

This may provide a defence for those being hung out to dry within the current context.  It is inconceivable that the assessment of franchise bids was not carried out without a full panoply of outsourced advisers, charging eye-watering sums of money to the taxpayer.  Setting up systems that are so complex that even a professional cannot understand and audit them is the refuge of the fraudsters and charlatans whose antics caused the current depression, and it looks as though this was the case here - you don't expect bidders not to exploit the gaming opportunities, because, within the crony capitalist system, they are behaving entirely rationally.

Constantly outsourcing, because you can't or don't want to rely or believe your own team, is a cumulative policy that undermines the public service.  Nationally and locally, this particular canard remains the single biggest obstacle to effective government, and accountability of public services to their users.  Those who remain in the civil service must work in a climate of fear and apathy, given that anything written on private-sector headed paper is given precedence - especially, I suspect, if the letterhead is from a company which funds or covertly supports the Tory party.

This complexity becomes both self-defeating and self-serving.  Failure and inefficiency are not necessarily bad, but their exposure is.  Its purpose is to deter all but the most determined from scrutinising decisions, and then, if this fails, to shift the blame from politicians with respect to any failures of service delivery.  This extends from the NHS, where the whole of Cornwall being served out-of-hours by one Serco-funded GP has been a public tip-of-the-iceberg embarrassment, through local government where social services, parking enforcement and other areas which should have direct democratic accountability are outsourced - allowing the politicians to blame the officials and lawyers who draw up contracts when their cronies fall below standards that even the lick-spittle media consider unacceptable.

So we have a corroded political and government system, which is incomprehensible to all but dogged scrutineers, colliding with a Tory party whose continued venality knows no bounds.  We live in a culture where blame has to be shifted, especially onto those who are unable to answer back.

The theory of representative government (given the electoral system and the endemic apathy it cannot be described as democracy) is that those people who put themselves forward for election take responsibility for their actions.  If they fail, then they either admit to it or are consigned to the deserved ignominy of being kicked out by the electorate.  If you are a "Cabinet Member" in local government - the kind of poujadist self-aggrandisement that has made most local Tories even more ridiculous than hitherto - or a Minister, then you should take the consequences of failure when it happens.  Displacement is morally odious, and politically suspect.

Instead, we have seen the most recent Tory Transport Secretary try hard to shift responsibility onto officials - and now questions being asked about the competency of his immediate predecessor.  In a world where politics was about looking after and promoting the interests of one's fellow citizens, this would not be an option.  The Michael Howard defence, where the spurious distinction between "policy" and "operations" became the excuse behind which Ministers could hide behind their officials, is now the default option for the Tories.

This is an odious pile of ordure, which is, in the long-run, much more important than the details of the current fiasco.

It's also typical of the attempt to cut out scrutiny and the use of public officials to scrutinise and deliver objective assessment of government actions.  Whatever happened in one case does not suggest that the civil service or local government officials should be stripped of their powers - far from it.  What is needed is professional, valued staff supporting the public interest - not greasing up to Special Advisers whose objectives are neither honourable nor accountable - scribblers, dabblers, wannabes and never-weres - and given recognition.  The Tories have been demeaning this role for decades, and reinforced this since they became part of this unwelcome Coalition.

Mister Ed has a golden opportunity to take a root-and-branch review of the state and its functioning forward - costly fiascos and the corrupt, venal culture of the once-and-future Thatcherites should leave a nasty taste in the mouth.  The myth of the market and the superiority of the private sector have landed the Tories (hilariously) in the ordure.  The important thing for the rest of us is to encourage them to do this while not getting our own feet dirty.

The only disappointing thing is that it is the tax-exiled, egomaniac "Sir" Beardie who is the catalyst for the upcoming denouement.  

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Danny Alexander for leader - and it's not Hallowe'en

One of the most risible pieces of speculative journalism in recent days has been the identification of a "Stop Vince" candidate for the inevitable Liberal Democrat leadership bloodbath when Clegg's insipid inanities finally cause even the herbivores to circle menacingly.  Whatever Cable's inadequacies, he is about the only hope that the Liberals have to maintain a token parliamentary presence and reconstruct a vaguely progressive agenda.

So the right have been touting David Laws, whose resurrection to the role of principal poodle to the chinless Gove has been spectacular, and, now, Beaker himself.  Mr Alexander is about the only politician who makes Gideon look mature, well-adjusted and in touch with the people, and therefore is the clear choice of many people in the Liberal Democrat hierarchy who are really rather enjoying the shrivelling of the party's presence for some perverse, masochistic reason.

The territory for social liberals to carve out will become much clearer over the next couple of weeks, as the Labour party starts being held to account and Mister Ed will find that fences are removed before he can sit on them, and while the Tories will spend their week slavering over Euro-sceptic bones being tossed to them by Cameron, who has now revealed the true scale of his Farage tribute act.  Whether this means that the Liberal Democrats follow remains to be seen.

Touting Alexander as a suitable candidate, when most of the party's supporters consider that the Coalition junkies have sold out for far too little reward, is mad - and would undoubtedly be cheered by caricaturists.  What the country needs from the Liberal Democrats is a little less pro-Tory windiness and a lot more principle, with the clear message that however bad things are now the Tories on their own would have made things much worse (hard though it is to credit)...

Personally, if we are to have a second Muppet in succession at the Liberal helm the Swedish Chef would get my vote.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Clinging to the wreckage - Lib Dem style

About the only opportunity Nick Clegg has to win popular acclaim is if the doctored apology broadcast becomes a viral hit - hopefully Christmas Number One this year.  After another year of achieving no Liberal Democrat policy triumphs, reduced to sabotaging Tory constitutional outrage, and participating in an economic experiment that rivals Thatcherism for its total disconnect from reality, he is rallying his remaining troops for another thirty months of public humiliation, before the party is decimated by the electorate.

There is some merit in this, at least in terms of boosting Ministerial pension entitlements, but Clegg has failed to realise that the only chance that the Liberal Democrats now have of even partial redemption is by full-throated exposure of the lunacy that the Tories are now trying to spin.  The place to do this is from Opposition benches - voting for Coalition agreement measures but no further.  Clegg's strategy, on the other hand, seems to be to turn the Liberal Democrats into a version of the German FDP, well to the right of the Tories on virtually every economic policy - with vestiges of genuine liberalism only where it supports free-market economics.  The return of every Tory's favourite Liberal, David Laws, reinforces this trend.

Clegg's policy position resembles a hypnotised rabbit in the path of an oncoming juggernaut.  The enthusiastic endorsement of Osborne's economic mismanagement and the self-flagellating support for deflationary, depressionary austerity is depressing.  If there were actually a Plan A, as opposed to shovelling cash in the direction of Tory cronies and getting the hell out before being caught, then Plan B might not be necessary.  Instead there seems to be a conspiracy to get the last decent man in the Cabinet, Dr Cable, to do all the dirty work - diluting employment rights, upping tuition fees - while simultaneously slandering his loyalty and playing up to Tory lies spread about his socialism.

We shall see whether the apology on tuition fees will cause any kind of dead-cat bounce in Lib Dem support - but there is no strategy other than hoping that something might turn up.  Miliband is delighted, as this means that there will be no need to make any meaningful pronoucements as the Coalition approachs shipwreck.  That is the tragedy, and a failure of duty on both the part of Labour and what's left of Liberal Democrat engagement.

Mitchell and Coleman (FRSA) cut the Tory mustard

An intriguing week for observers of the Tory scene.  There is at least one matter which is sub judice which may constrain full comment - but what we are enjoying is the sight of the Conservatives re-emerging from their mendacious pretence of evolution into something that might have been acceptable a century ago into the true Cro-Magnon experience that we came to know and love in the period of Thatcher's leadership.

The case of Andrew Mitchell, the Chief Whip, is a curious one.  The position of Chief Whip requires a hide of leather, respect for others comparable with the Emperor Caligula's, and an ability to cajole, bully and threaten semi-educated backbench ingrates through the division lobbies of the Commons.  The success of his predecessor, the token prole McLoughlin, in delivering Coalition policy, meant that Dave had to find another one - and Mitchell fitted the bill.

Mitchell's behaviour in abusing the police is in keeping with the nouveau riche approach to people who they regard as the servant classes.  It is particularly sickening in a week when two officers were murdered in cold blood, dealing with the flip-side of the Tory panjandrums' Big Society.  For students of irony, it seems that if you're a cycling Minister you will get support from the same people who are engaging in the ritual hang-them Pavlovian reaction to get a couple of column inches from the moronic tabloids.

Whether he survives or not, he demonstrates the contempt that the current Tory Party demonstrates for the the mass of the population - mere bit-part actors in the solipsistic drama of Conservative hubris.  Perhaps if he loses his post, he might consider taking on a seemingly impossible project - the rehabilitation of Brian Coleman.

Last week's entry alluded to the unravelling of Mr Coleman's political career and reputation: the "old hags" jibe being the kind of hate speak that the Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts seems to regard as appropriate political debate.  Apparently Brian now has his own little blog, filling in the time between plotting the downfall of all those who wish him well - a pudgy Blofeld sitting in subsidised accommodation - which he uses to repeat the canard that any opposition to anything that might be seven-degrees removed from the Jewish community is motivated by Mein Kampf and The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Brian, bless him, was found guilty by a toothless Standards Committee of abusing constituents by accusing them of anti-semitism, treachery to Israel and one memorable suggestion that the complainant would have been a member of the blackshirts - and has failed to make his apologies - despite having had his appeal against the ruling rejected.  A lovely paragon of the new Toryism.

Perhaps he is sick - not just politically but in dire need of the kind of therapy that he would not wish others to be funded for.  Paranoia is an unattractive and dangerous trait - and doubtless the Coleman mind has been focusing on a belief that his downfall is not due to a combination of inept policies, personal charmlessness and downright contempt for the general public.  In a parallel universe, Brian is as pure as the driven snow, and his remaining allies will persist in feeding this myth.

We no longer live in a blame or responsibility culture.  It was widely reported that Mr Coleman spent some time assisting the police with their enquiries into an assault on a constituent, and is now walking the streets of Totteridge before he answers bail.  The Tory party has been notably silent on the reports (http://www.times-series.co.uk/news/9941632.Tory_councillor_arrested_for_alleged_assault/?ref=mr), which would in most organisations result in at least a precautionary suspension pending the full hearing of the allegations.  As they could become more serious (a broken wrist could escalate the charge into ABH, perhaps) - the Barnet Tories are ignoring the situation - demonstrating both idiotic unawareness and contempt for decent standards.

Mitchell is a significant public figure, Coleman a ridiculous parody of a politician.  It shows that the Tory party is a thuggish, unaccountable and thoroughly brutish organisation - with no or limited moral compass.  If Clegg were serious about apologising and turning over a new leaf, he could do worse than draw attention to the hypocrisy and boorishness his alleged partners continue to perpetrate.




Sunday, 16 September 2012

Nudity, death, cant and Tories (plus hags)

Occasionally serendipity works in politics.  The rightist pseudo-controversy, fuelled by a number of tabloids and rent-a-gob backwoods Tories, over various ephemera in potentially dubious taste on sale to trade unionists wishing to commemorate Thatcher's demise appropriately, was supplanted by the cover-up, conspiracy and Establishment humiliation over the Hillsborough disaster.  For light relief, the "Evening Standard" reported on Brian Coleman FRSA, and a social-climbing parasite found herself on display in a range of publications.

These are all manifestations of the same rottenness.

To start with, let's look at the Thatcher death-kits.  Offensive T-shirts are not the preserve of the left - it was after all members of the Federation of Conservative Students who paraded around with their professed desire to "Hang Nelson Mandela" - and the "party kit" reflected a poor-taste response to market demand - there are thousands if not millions who will rejoice and speculate, if of a religious bent, on the precise destination of her soul.

The delightful hypocrisy extended to the doltish member for Cannock Chase, the delectable Aidan Burley.  Mr Burley achieved much as a student at Oxford, including rustication for unspecified offences.  Since then, Hamster-face had to sack him as a PPS for alleged indiscretions involving the hire of Nazi uniform at a house party in France (emulating the Windsors, but at least he didn't go topless), and then he embroiled himself in controversy denouncing the Olympics Opening Ceremony for celebrating social solidarity and multiculturalism.  In other words, a typically bone-headed Tory whose hagiographic attitude towards Thatcher extends to the idolatry that allows him to supply pithy, condemnatory statements to the media at the drop of a Tweet.

Burley epitomises the type of Tory, too young to remember and therefore easy enough to bounce into the Thatcherite myth.  His public statements are beneath contempt.  He is a new generation rent-a-gob bully boy.  The missing link had nothing on this - and hopefully the good electors will see him on his way in 2015, much as the denizens of Barnet and Camden humiliated Brian Coleman in May.

Coleman, on the other hand, remains firmly anchored to the bottom of the septic tank of Toryism.  Reduced to a £30,000 pay-off for loss of office in the GLA, and stripped of his Cabinet post in Barnet, he cuts a pathetic figure.  One of the principal reasons for his humiliation was his inability to relate to humanity (a Tory prequalification) so it was hardly a surprise that his most recent outburst was to describe the public gallery at a Council meeting as full of the "mad, bad and sad" and containing "a couple of hags", sneering at people who for a mixture of motives despise and oppose the Tories' policies in a London Borough.  Doubtless there will be a number of Standards complaints, but this epitomises the Tories who are more than happy to dish out abuse and complaint but regard themselves as being above the law.

Rather akin to the Windsors.  The cant and double standards about topless photographs of someone who has married into the family, following from the teacup-storm over nudity in a Las Vegas hotel room (the real scandal should have been why these state servants can afford $5,000 nights away when public-sector workers are having their pay cut and pensions salami-sliced), demonstrates the extent to which the reversion to feudalism is meant to be taking hold.  A more cynical being than I would consider the possibility that the Middleton midriff was on duty to counteract the multicultural messages being sent by respecting other countries' sensibilities in the Far East.  It's not even of any general prurient interest, although I was amused to note that the echoes of Diana (goddess of bling) were being prayed in aid of the leeches' embarrassments.

Much more serious, and of much greater resonance than these non-entities playing to the gallery of celebrity-obsessives with no attention span, was the extensive revision to the Hillsborough narrative.  Hillsborough, and the miners' strike, define much of the Thatcher era, especially with respect to attitudes to the north and the working classes.  The revelation that over 40 people died needlessly, and that the police "amended" statements is only shocking in its unsurprising nature.  There is a burning need for justice, including punishment for those whose malfeasance led to the magnification of the disaster.  To give Cameron his due, he recognises at the least some of this - whereas right-wing rant-factories such as Kelvin MacKenzie, Boris Johnson and most of the staff of the "Telegraph" have not been particularly happy about having their murky past raked up.

You don't have to hold a brief for football fans to realise that this was a public order disaster, tragedy and communal snub played out over a long period.  Liverpool in the 1980s was a strange, isolated city where Militant and social disaffection were present, but the communal response to the unfolding events revealed resilience and pride.  The long-term circulation decline of the "Sun" for playing out police lies and fantasies, calling the victims and their friends "scum", is legendary.  The least that can be done is for the left to keep up pressure for proper investigation, prosecutions and reforms of the police that improve accountability.

Another week of revelations - some trivial and some more serious.  Another week that shows the Tories to have learned nothing in the last two decades - and another week where their denizens continue to live down to expectations. 

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Piss off your neighbour - the new Tory strategy

From the near-orgasmic media response, you would have thought that Hamster-face was embarking on a combination of rewriting the Ten Commandments and demoting Apostles who showed any sign of brain-stem activity.  Last week's continued post-death twitching of the Coalition can't disguise the fact that the entire shower is discredited and that the vital signs are a strange combination of crows, vultures and maggots picking over the corpse.

To deal with the "reshuffle" the message was meant to be that Cameron has got a grip on his party and tossed the odd fetid corpse in the direction of his dribbling backbenchers.  Thus Ken Clarke, about the only really competent Tory in the administration, was demoted to make way for a knucklehead who will appeal to the Pavlovian hordes on the extreme right.  The third Transport Secretary in three years was imposed to make way for the Heathrow expansion, which will hopefully cause London Tories to implode in apopleptic ectoplasm.

Had Davy got any political skills, he would have done something to remove the pustular presence of his incompetent Chancellor - whose rightfully-ribald reception at the Paralympics demonstrates the depths of idiocy to which this government has sunk.  However Gideon has too many friends, and doubtless some kind of power of blackmail over his fellow Etonian gobshite so we are stuck with the inept cretinism for the foreseeable future.

Beyond that, it was left to Supreme Poodle Clegg to announce the Coalition's latest masterstroke - the relaxation of planning laws.  In a strictly time-limited context (yeah, right) the already-lax existing regulations will be suspended to allow the development of people's gardens much more than it would have been already.  This is a charter for Rachmans, allowing the kind of slum conditions that have shamed much of London and the South East to be extended without due local control, blighting the lives of those who are forced to watch impotently as proper development control is jettisoned to give more cash to a class of people who should by rights be hanging from lampposts as a warning to other parasites.

The fallacy of this approach to economic growth is that the vast majority of the alleged stimulus will disappear into the grey economy, into the hands of white-van man whose main interest is tax evasion through cash transactions.  The only beneficiaries will be those who are self-excluded from society - at least they should have given some more money to HMRC to crack down on the petty crooks and buy-to-let mavens who believe that the way to emulate the tax-avoiding scum at the top of the pile is to avoid tax as well.

However, this will naturally annoy more people than it benefits, so from an altruistic point of view we should probably cheer - more Tory ineptitude will cause more people to consider switching away from them at the next election.  However, this is a charter for eyesores, intrusion and environmental damage - which given the extent to which the Tories have promoted laughing-stock nonentities with a mad agenda (a Transport Secretary with a fear of flying, an Environment Minsiter who hates renewable energy - which amusingly even hacked off John Selwyn Gummer) must be resisted.

Come the next election, this week's combination of suicide notes may make Dignitas blanch at even allowing the Coalition through the front door.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Boris Island, Heathrow and all the wrong questions

Nobody wants to live next to an airport, but most people want to have one at a convenient distance.  They are large-scale activities, so they have a symbolic importance for politicians playing at infrastructure as nothing happens for years even after a policy shift.  And, despite all the evidence and experience to the contrary, there is still a perceived glamour about flying. 

Watching the current shadow-boxing on aviation policy, pent-up as a result of procrastination on the release of a government consultation, is hilarious.  Apparently, if some Neanderthal petrol-heads are to be believed, the key to economic regeneration is either a third runway at Heathrow or the revived Maplin Sands airport, commonly referred to as Boris Island.  Quite apart from the risible assertion that more flights in themselves generate economic growth, the weakness of the logic is seldom challenged by a media whose London obsession seldom results in penetrating beyond the M25.

Expanding airport capacity MAY be necessary - although the forecasts for aviation demand are predicated upon continued growth at current rates, and at current fare levels, which is highly doubtful given the economics of the airline industry (Beardie's vanity project, underwritten by Singapore Airlines, lost £80m last year), and fossil fuel production.  However, there is something perverse in assuming that it should be focused either on South-East England greenfield sites, or a heavily-constrained, densely-populated part of West London.  One doesn't have any infrastructure to support an airport, the other is bursting at the seams.

Despite the South-East being overheated, the majority of people don't live there - nor is the majority of business conducted there.  Building more airport capacity will potentially suck in more people to use public transport and road networks already full - and doubtless the promoters, as with the Olympics, would expect the public purse to fund their improvement to allow them to claim entrepreneurial success.  Why should passengers from Scotland, the North and the Midlands have to travel to London to catch a flight?

The cry of "connectivity" is always deployed at this point.  Apparently there are too few slots at Heathrow to connect the UK to emerging markets in the Far East.  In that case, the market should decide what destinations are served through slot auctions - not a difficult pastime.  Branson, albeit in a fit of pathetic pique, seems to be able to use some of his slots for additional domestic flights from Heathrow next year, so the capacity issue is clearly not at a crunch-point.

What is needed is for much more focus on the non-South East airports, where there is capacity and room for expansion with much less (or at least more cheaply resolvable) pressure on land and infrastructure.  Direct access to markets, holiday destinations and the provision of connectivity should be part of a long-term policy to reduce dependence on London, and expanding airports in the South-East is perverse.

The idea that more capacity at Heathrow, or a new airport where engineering tests on bird-strikes can be carried out n real-time, is a solution to either aviation policy or wider economic development is risible - it's time for the debate to be directed at where we need to be in thirty years - and for the question to be asked as to whether we should go on predicting and providing for aviation in the current model.  Smaller, well-connected airports provide a much better experience and do not place undue demands on local economies - with a national hub for the markets which cannot sustain regional flights.  Developing the current model is a sane and practical approach against which there is no tested alternative, and transport policy cannot be based on political grandstanding.

Wealth tax and the chorus of cretins

The Deputy Prime Minister's thoughts on demonstrating that there is indeed a chasm between the Tories and the remainder of the population caused predictable drooling from the lunatic right.  This is probably a good thing.  Clegg is finally waking up to the fact that the 2010 election resulted in an outcome that did not mandate the continuation of Blair's trickle-up economic policies, nor the perpetuation of crony capitalism.  It's too late, but at least some of the salient points are getting an airing.

There are a number of Tories re-emerging who I had thought might have already shuffled off their mortal coils, going the same way as any residual brain-stem activity.  To hear the puffing of the backwoods, never-weres or never-should-have-beens, exemplified by that moral paragon Tim Yeo, you would have thought that Clegg had turned into a latter-day Pol Pot, pillaging through the divinely-bestowed aristocracy, in suggesting that "we're all in this together" might be more than windy rhetoric from a man whose rodentine credentials are far closer to the hamster than the domestic mouse.

Within the cocoon of Tory idiocy, the "wealth creator" dyspeptically running his finger under the words in the Daily Telegraph on his way from Haslemere to Waterloo (and they're always males) sees any suggestion that the tax base should extend to assets as equivalent to introducing a guillotine outside the Bank of England.  Their world-view is that acquisition through exploitation, inherited wealth and tax evasion is a symbol of entitled entrepreneurship, demonstrating their superiority to the mortals whose labour, taxes and oppression feather-bed their existence.

As an old Liberal, I have always been in favour of taxing land - it has much less possibility of fleeing abroad or fiddling its accounting rules, and it is a scarce resource that should be managed in the interests of the wider community.  A wealth tax, particularly based around asset holdings in excess of a reasonably-large sum of capital, would go some way to addressing this, as well as potentially capping the asset-price inflation that the Tories are peddling as a substitute for economic revival (why pump money into the housing market if not to subsidise buy-to-let parasites?), and would at least provide some symbolic resonance that the current fiscal crisis is country-wide.

Instead, we have this myth that the "wealth creator" is a privileged being.  Somebody who creates work for others, or adds to the store of wider happiness, is someone who is worthwhile.  Yet most of these are parasites, semi-literate recyclers of received wisdom that they do not have the faculties to evaluate or challenge.  If you were to replace the average City type with a monkey connected to a keyboard with a William Hill account the monkey would probably outperform them, and be more pleasurable both as a social companion and in terms of personal hygiene.  Creating wealth is only worthwhile if it benefits the wider community, not just the nominal asset values of a clique whose moral worth is the reciprocal of their bank balance.

This is a flip side of the moronic reliance on microeconomic policy to provide a recovery which I mused upon recently, and indicative of the true nature of much contemporary Toryism - a reflexive, selfish and grasping approach with no societal or economic obligations.  Clegg, tapping into something that even Labour have balked from (for tactical advantage, I hope, rather than a perpetuation of the Blair sycophancy), may be onto something - the inequality and the arrogance are the Achilles heel of the contemporary Tory party.


Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Osborne's clueless meanderings

It was hardly surprising, but cheering, to read in the newspaper that Gormless George is regarded as the most incompetent member of the Cabinet.  Dimwit Dave clearly relies heavily upon the innumerate fool's political skills, further reinforcing one's impression that this foul Cabinet is an extension of an elitist sixth-form debating society, whereby the precocious little fools spout platitudes about how suffering and deprivation are good for the proles.  The only problem is that this is for real.

Osborne spouts on about there being no alternative to the current direction of economic policy, despite every indication being that the double-dip could turn into a depression of a magnitude that will make the 1930s seem like a period of explosive growth.  This is the equivalent of a child's toy with a single message that is repeated every time its spring is pulled - completely decontexualised and an image that should not be lingered over.  In the much-praised private sector, which we are all supposed to be in fealty to, this level of performance would result in a P45 and a suggestion that the protagonist should stick to tasks more suited to his skill set.

The economy has parallels with the 1930s but with the added spice of massive personal indebtedness brought on by a property price bubble and easy credit, fostered through Thatcher's deregulations of the 1980s and exacerbated by New Labour's belief that illusion flowed through to finance as well as politics.  Osborne, with his uneducated and ahistoric rightist cheer-leaders, is stuck in a delusion that the only way to get the economy moving again is through cutting the state to let a thousand incompetent bankers flourish.

As with all myths, this is partly based in reality.  The post-war period saw economies functioning at close to full capacity, and the theory of public expenditure "crowding out" the private sector gained credence as the 1970s unravelled.  The elephant in Georgie's closet is that this theory only works when there is competition for resources and the economy is working at close to maximum capability.  Not a difficult concept, but it does suggest that Plan B is not merely feasible but necessary.

The Bank of England, at the behest of the Treasury, has been printing money in billions - with a view to propping up house prices and stopping any more banks from going bankrupt.  This has all been presented as a means of encouraging small businesses to invest and people to buy homes - however this doesn't work when banks are (logically) rebuilding their balance sheets and safety.  So the next proposition is to cut taxes to business and individuals.

As anyone with a basic grasp of inductive reasoning can grasp, tax cuts at a time of debt and uncertainty will result in people doing exactly the same as the banks - paying down their overdrafts, mortgages while praying that the moronic policy position doesn't cost them their livelihoods.  So this won't result in short-term, or even medium-term spending, and the mythical increases in demand that will refloat the economy.  Reducing personal indebtedness is a desirable outcome from a whole-society angle, but it doesn't achieve the requirement of putting people back to work.

The complete failure of Osborne's economic policy is clear - and the entire deficit-reduction strategy's credibility is tending to zero.  There is a clear and present danger that a downward spiral has been created - whereby more and deeper cuts will be deemed necessary and desirable and thus making it impossible to create a recovery.  This is fine for those at the top of the tree who have insulated themselves from the consequences of such a destructive and self-serving nihilism, but is a complete dereliction of duty on the part of government.

Instead, there are a number of propositions that could form the basis of a genuine recovery strategy, but which are completely counter to the selfish and grasping approach allied to a hatred of any publicly-held infrastructure.  These are based around the recognition that the biggest contribution to financial recovery comes from sustainable growth, and from the possibility of exploiting the current climate to create a different approach to social and economic cohesion.

Firstly, in the short-term, printing money doesn't work.  However, we have cheap money available, which could be used to fund public investment projects directly.  These will generally repay over a 20- to 30-year period, and financing them through bonds sold to pension funds (who should be looking for long-term assets), and the public, would be much better than the multi-billion PFI fraud that doesn't even give the taxpayer anything at the end.  Roads, sewers, energy and other networks need to be modernised, and this would be a perfect programme of public works.

Secondly, the banks are not inviolate, and the City of London does not require special pleading.  The current calls for U-turns over airport expansion are symptomatic of the attitude that nothing happens outside the South-East of England.  Instead, there needs to be an approach that improves infrastructure and the quality of life outside this charmed elite - as well as the connectivity to and from the rest of the world that will be further denied if everything is concentrated on Heathrow.  Governing beyond the M25 is a tall order for this bunch of chancers, but it is a prerequisite for genuine balanced growth.

Thirdly, policy needs to focus on 30 years out - so that energy choices are made with a view to reducing carbon dependence, land-use planning based around reducing the need for physical mobility over long distances for essential tasks, and there is a sustainable housing, education and health policy, provided much more by the state without the adjuncts of profit and snoutage that seem to pervade all public-service delivery today.  A recognition that the state is there to provide an overall framework for individuals, communities and companies to operate within is less a counsel of despair than the anal fixation with the private sector that the current government demonstrates.

Too much to hope for?  This is gradualism, but with increasing evidence that the entire edifice of the Tory party is built on sand the choice is for a U-turn now or a much more radical, revolutionary upheaval down the line.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Port, biscuits and cheese and the Tory Revolution

This has been a great week for connoisseurs of the contemporary Conservative Party.  It is difficult to know where to start - so the beginning is conventional but probably sensible.

On Monday, Nick the Lapdog bowed to the inevitable and abandoned the cross-party consensus on turning the House of Lords into a slightly-less anachronistic revising chamber.  Labour's scheming and connivance now looks a good tactic, as it has exposed the mendacious lickspittles of the shires as the canting dribblers that they are.  However, Clegg needs to wake up and recognise that whereas he has managed to drag his party through the mill in the name of the Coalition, Cameron and his cronies neither can nor want to do the same thing.  Nothing like exposing human shields for what they are.

Somebody, perhaps, might have kindly reminded Clegg that the only kind of whipping the average Tory backbencher aspires to is well documented in the current sub-literary phenomena of "erotica".  As many Tory backbenchers are as far away from average as ever, this may be redundant.

There have been a number of snarling Tory responses to the refusal of the Liberal Democrats to deliver the pro-Tory rearrangement of constituency boundaries.  To see Hamster-face wrapping himself up in the Chartist banner is risible beyond parody - equalisation of constituency boundaries is a theoretical goal up there with nuclear fusion and the Tory proposals would have made the Republicans in 1990s Texas blush and suggest that the Boundary Commission took lessons from North Korea.

Hamster-face himself has been eclipsed by the publicity-seeking scrote who pretends to be Mayor of London while not making bald bids for the Tory leadership.  Johnson's self-identification with relative British success in the International Sports Day is "just Boris being Boris" but he will come down to earth with a bump when the reality of a triple-dip recession bites later in the year.  In the meantime he will continue to make friends with bankers and others whose probity is matched only by his own.

The imminent Corby by-election marks the end of the bizarre political career of Louise Mensch.  The publicity has been immense without vast expense - admiring and semi-critical broadsheet profiles, the admission of ingestion of industrial quantities of narcotics and the clear assumption that she would walk into a senior Ministerial post have been amusing - but she will be the Widdecombe of our generation rather than the Theresa May in the end.

However, the denouement for the week that caused all intelligent citizens to cringe behind the sofa was a documentary entitled Young, Bright and on the Right.  This followed two "atypical" student Tories through a progress in Oxford and Cambridge student Tory politics - a Hogarthian experience for the Oxford one, whose proletarian background and evident issues resulted in him betraying his victorious rivals to the national press.  The Cambridge example came from a liberal background, but spent his time sucking up to the bloods and plotting greatness through organising catering supplies for Tory parties, doubtless hoping that his Lidl loyalty card did not get discovered - while resembling both Hague and Johnson, leading to speculation that they might have had some encounter in the past that even Mary Shelley would have blanched at.

If the future of the Tory party relies on parodies of the current Bullingdon set, then they are hopefully doomed as evolution passes them by.  However, the immediate priority should be the destruction of the current administration; Clegg has indicated that his party will not be prepared to march into enemy fire in future, and this means that at some stage the Neanderthals will insist on Cameron kicking the Liberals out of government as the price of his leadership.  This can only assist the rebirth of a left politics with a reasonable chance of success - and at some stage I will consider what will be necessary for Labour to assume a vanguard role in the forward march.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Bread, circuses and Tory hubris

To watch and listen to all the mainstream media you would be forgiven for thinking that everything is for the best in the best off all possible worlds.  The Middle East is not degenerating into religious and civil warfare, there is no potential for a triple-dip recession, the programme of economic, political and social modernisation pioneered by the Coalition is proceeding to the sunlit uplands of Tory Democracy and the England cricket team remains all-conquering.

We are in the middle of the Olympic denial zone.  After predictions of meltdown within London's creaking and neglected infrastructure, not too much has happened beyond the destruction of much of the economy during the peak tourist season, for which Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson have told those facing bankruptcy to rejoice.  Good performances by an elite showered with taxpayers' money on top of corporate whoredom are celebrated as some form of national regeneration.  The weather has even improved slightly.

The Tories are even now contemplating their next move.  Clearly flush from their success in denying Lords reform, and the probability of Cameron pandering to his neanderthal, self-interested backbench scum, the aim is now on their part to ditch the Coalition before the next election to take whatever credit they can salvage from the incompetence, graft and cupidity of Osborne's disastrous economic mismanagement (tax cuts for the rich that the Mail will big up as encouraging entrepreneurship) - just in time for an election.

They will do what they always do, wrapping themselves in manufactured patriotism.  Perhaps the time has come to call their bluff - especially since the agenda appears to be to promote the next stage of their social repression and economic pillage after the Olympics are out of the way.  Picking off the remaining unionised workforce and cutting even more deeply is their agenda - which may well make 2012 the Second Winter of Discontent.

Having denied myself blogging for most of the last month out of sheer inability to come up with appropriately bilious language - the time is now ripe to identify the numerous and irretrievable failures and ineptitude, along with the simony and hypocrisy that underpins this bunch of wasters.  UK successes are not down to them - UK failures are definitely the responsibility of the crony cretins.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Bob Diamond, the criminals and the vermin

There was something pathetically unprepossessing about Bob Diamond, the disgraced former Chief Executive of Barclays Bank, to give him his honorific descriptor, when he appeared before a Commons Select Committee last week.  Diamond's fall from grace, hopefully not cushioned by a massive pay-out at the expense of shareholders and customers, has a marvellously satisfying quality to it.

For the last four years, first under Brown and now under Hamster-face, bankers and the so-called wealth creators in the City have been seemingly immune from the consequences of their own cupidity and stupidity.  Diamond himself suggested that it was time to call the dogs off bankers - the equivalent of Dave's hoodie-hugging gaffe - and let them get on with their unscrutinised usury in peace and quiet.  Yet the Serious Fraud Office is now investigating his bank's manipulations and potential illegal trading (not that the SFO's own reputation inspires much confidence), and there is a growing chorus of disaffection.

No sane economist suggests that the entire banking model is wrong - fractional reserve banking has been accepted for centuries as a means of ensuring that saving and borrowing can work together to create wealth.  What has been different in the last three decades (post Reagan and Thatcher) is that the wealth has been a money illusion, through complex financial instruments that nobody understands, asset bubbles and recycling of money between financial institutions whose accountability and internal probity are as microscopic as George Osborne's competence.

Yet the fictions remain.  Every month there is new evidence of economic decline and depression, which the Bank of England responds to by leaving interest rates low and by pumping money into the economy through Quantitative Easing.  QE is now being used to rebuild bank balance sheets - not to promote lending to businesses and individuals that could create wealth - a far more effective policy would be a Keynesian-style public works programme using the creditworthiness of government and not syphoning off profits to the cronies.

Diamond is part of a global capitalist conspiracy, and one which should unravel before too much longer.  Preserving the myth of entrepreneurship has been a pre-requisite of government policy, even when their pet plutocrats are only kept afloat by hidden subsidies such as the Private Finance Initiative.  Last week it emerged that £300bn will be the cost of PFI over the next five years, or almost all the budget deficit that is being used as a justification for austerity and the Tory assault on the poor.

Any party wishing to achieve an electoral victory (anyone listening?) in 2015 and beyond needs to articulate the lunacy that we now live with - where profit comes before service and where totally inappropriate activities have been given to a bunch of shysters whose moral compass is non-existent rather than defective.  Being "all in this together" requires expropriation of excess wealth from the self-styled top of the tree before any further attempts are made to further pauperise the rest of us.  Diamond's £20m potential parachute compares very nicely against the reduction in employment protection, theft of pensions and pay restraint that most other people are putting up with.

The Tories talk about "reward" for wealth-creation.  Most of the people who create wealth, through manufacturing or providing professional services, only dream about paying higher-rate tax.  Much of what has been done in the name of global capitalism is morally offensive and probably criminal, and totally at odds with what is needed for a decent society.  This is not about enterprise but cronyism, and the sooner radical politicians start reminding the world that the emperor is not merely naked but repugant, the sooner we can get on with bringing down these parasites.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

The Tory delusion marches on

Two years ago, in scenes reminiscent of the storming of the Bastille or the taking of the Winter Palace, the revolutionary vanguard of the Conservative and Unionist Party inflicted the most humiliating defeat on an incumbent government in recorded history, taking the entire population of the United Kingdom into the sunlit uplands of cronyism and the suffocating embrace of the "country suppers" set through a combination of democratic spirit and popular acclamation.

This parallel universe, clearly the product of strong hallucinogens that even Louise Mensch would have thought twice about snorting, seems to inform the entire Tory worldview.  The "natural party of government", hubris dripping from every pus-filled orifice not spewing bile, considered that the upset inflicted upon them by Labour in 1997 and the general revulsion at their venality and cupidity was an aberration caused not by their own repulsiveness but an inexplicable flirtation with Blair's pseudo-Toryism.

Therefore the reality that, had Labour been blessed with more tactical leadership than the ineptitude of the exhausted Gordon Brown, then the result would have been significantly different and alternative kaleidoscopes of political realignment could have delivered, is something that the Tories still fulminate over.  The Liberal Democrats, after two years of being an apparently passive patsy to the ineptitude of the arrogant and inept Conservative leadership, are showing the occasional sign of desiring the Coalition agreement to be implemented.

So a further public service announcement should be made to the Tories: 

YOU DID NOT WIN THE LAST ELECTION.  YOU WERE THE LARGEST PARTY IN TERMS OF VOTES, SKEWED UPWARDS IN TERMS OF SEATS BY A DISTORTED SYSTEM.  YOU HAVE NO MAJORITY AND NO MANDATE.  YOU DID NOT ACHIEVE A MAJORITY EVEN OF THOSE VOTING.  LESS THAN A QUARTER OF ELIGIBLE ADULTS SUPPORTED YOU.  THIS PROPORTION IS DIMINISHING FAST.

The Liberal Democrats, increasingly recognising their suicidal mistakes, insist on the Tories pursuing both their own manifesto commitment to Lords reform and the agreement they made.  Clegg's Faustian pact will unravel under the weight of Tory stupidity if they fall into misplaced assertions that nominated upper chambers are somehow desirable, rather than a repository for superannuated party hacks and politicians who have been found out by the electorate but whose blackmail potential requires them to be handed out baubles from the apparatchiks.

This is a matter of principle, and it should be the test by which the Liberal Democrats determine whether they stay in the Coalition.  It's not a matter of a minor side-show in the light of economic collapse, but a symbol both of whether there is an appetite for honesty, consistency and change.

Tory delusionists are generally reckoning that their approach will steamroller everything to their own advantage.  This assumes that the electorate are worthy of the contempt that the Conservative machine holds for them, and that the patrician scum can prevail.  Away from Westminster the tectonic plates are shifting, and this final delusion could set the seal on the Tory myth of entitlement.


Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Cameron's evil benefits side-show

You could be forgiven for thinking that the Liberal Democrats in government have been effective.  What we are seeing now is the mad, delusional, knee-jerk response of the Tories to the world, as Cameron lines up assaults on the remains of the welfare state, and encourages his miserable hordes of backbench leeches to undermine Lords reform, a policy that was in the "principled" Tory manifesto that the electorate, so cruelly, denied him the chance to implement.

To deal with Lords reform first, the emergence of Boris as a reactionary bigoted cheer-leader is hardly a surprise.  Democracy and accountability are not something that one has come to expect from a London Mayor (see this blog passim), and it is good to see that he is taking his role as metropolitan champion seriously by concentrating on areas that municipal politics is clearly designed to address.  Avoids the question as to why there has been a breakdown of industrial relations across the transport network, I suppose.

Again, the Tories are basing their position on self-interest - their contempt for the electorate is such that they don't think anyone is bright enough to notice.  So Boris's inchoate rant was picked up by the deservedly-obscure Mike Freer, whom the electors of Finchley and Golders Green inexplicably sent to Westminster.  A little delving into Mike Freer's record is not encouraging, another small-town Poujadist with a mania for self-promotion and the lack of judgement that goes with it.  A Thatcherite mini-me, with the intellectual and personal distinction of a lawn ornament, he was an architect of the unravelling radical decimation through cronyism of Barnet council, and has only been heard since his elevation to maximum snoutage proclaiming the rights of the late Colonel Gaddafi against squatters.  Gaddafi owned property in Freer's constitency, so the Pavlovian response of dictatorial loons was perhaps only to be expected.

Doubtless Freer will jump on Cameron's latest attempt to wow his middle-class paranoids through attacking what's left of welfare provision.  The politics of this are simple - Cameron feels threatened by the right and therefore he moves further and further out into their territory of barren race and class prejudice.  This plays into a sense of entitlement for the "deserving" (in other words the bourgeoisie) and a vague hope that this will get rid of all the groups who cause problems and challenge their brain-dead hegemony (intellectuals, lefties, people of different ethnic origin, religion or capabilities).

The return of the Tory dog-whistle is not rooted in practicality, merely a desire to achieve good coverage and distract from the complete failure of Osborne's economic policy.  The Tory manifesto for 2015 will be a strange, dark, xenophobic place - making out that these policies would have made everything all right had the electorate delivered the just dues of Etonian chancers, thieves and liars.  This did not convince in 2010, when Labour's most tired, dejected and split campaign still denied them a Parliamentary majority, and it won't in 2015.  Playing to UKIP, the BNP and the EDL will not achieve the breakthrough that they want.

Instead, it is a simple way of revealing their true colours without being able to do what they want, hoping that they will be able to sell the hatred at some unspecified point in the future.  This should be a reminder to all the rest of us that the Tories remain the evil and pernicious charlatans that were booted out (too late) in 1997.

Cameron's inept and bungled attempt to draw attention to tax avoidance is evidence that the entire strategy is unravelling in the face of reality.  Whatever the murkiness of individuals' tax affairs, by attacking one named individual he has declared open season on the Tory party's sugar daddies, and about time too.  The sleaze and simony surrounding Hamster-Face's regime, the country suppers with the Murdoch apparatchiks, the complete denial of any economic culpability or desire to address the root causes of depression and the general ignorance of the world are all culpable and should see them drummed out of office.

Further proof that the "we're in this together" is a lie is not needed.  When the Archbishop of Canterbury goes public to denounce its hollow hypocrisy, and the unions go on the offensive, while the inept bankers and crony Tories escape unscathed, we are in the latter days of imperial decadence.  The darkest hour may be before the dawn, but we need the prospect of daylight - sunlit uplands are off the agenda.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

The view from Boris's backside

Yesterday, the vast majority of London's bus drivers went on strike.  From the hysterical hand-wringing of the commuter Andrex doled out by the self-styled "Evening Standard" the average citizen could have been panicked into thinking that the entire basis of human development was challenged by an industrial dispute.  Invoking the Blitz spirit, and the language of Trotskyite wreckers that typified the Thatcher decade, the pathetic pseudo-newspaper demonstrates the extent to which the London press is corrupt.

Notwithstanding the links between Boris Johnson and Rupert Murdoch, the "Standard" has taken on the mantle of mouthpiece to the Mayor - translating Cro-Magnon rightist bullshit into a Kensington-focused, middle-class pyramid paranoia that ignores the reality of much of the city it purports to report on.  Social problems, deprivation and poverty are threats to its worldview, rather than manifestations of a bizarre economic apartheid that Labour wrung its hands over and Johnson and his cronies are exacerbating.

The bus strike is another manifestation of capitalism and the free market.  The profit motive in public services has resulted in staffing levels, even in normal times, being reduced to the absolute minimum.  Therefore when something as asinine but labour-intensive as Coe the Cretin's Olympiad comes along, keeping the services running requires more staff than would normally be available.  The only language that employers understand is cash - and therefore incentivising staff to turn up more often, less flexibly and with less rest requires them to dole it out.  Incentives are funny things - the banking sector sucks out bonuses while denying account holders access to their money (pace NatWest) but if employees demand something in return they are holding society to ransom.

Not that the "Standard" could spell paradox and hypocrisy, let alone recognise their stench amongst the other consumerist, rightist ordure they peddle.  They probably regard being a less erudite and literate version of "Pravda" as having fulfilled some kind of destiny, especially since the biased lies and misrepresentations probably had some impact on allowing Boris back into power.  There are mildly amusing asides on the "Standard" message boards about whether the facile platitudiniser, Sarah Sands, who now claims to "edit" the garbage, had a little more than just a political interest in the blond philanderous incompetent, but these are hearsay and probably no more than wishful thinking.

For those of us who pick the rag up out of force of habit, now that it is recognised that its content is worthless and therefore has to be given away, the daily diatribes are numbing.  Yet as a catalogue of why society is breaking down, even within an allegedly prosperous city, it will be of immense value for historians and anthropologists. 

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Why the revolution may not be as far away as you think

Today it was revealed that the chief executives of the FTSE 100 companies trousered over 12% in pay rises in the last year.  We're all clearly in this together only to the extent that our contributions to their affluence are delivering them even more objectionable and otiose lifestyles, while simultaneously "re-engineering" their organisations to reduce their staff numbers and eliminate any rights of those who remain, preferring an attitude of craven fear and the kind of forelock-tugging that went out of fashion about the same time as the "Daily Express" formed its worldview.

At the same time, the powers-that-be are clearly praying that distraction therapy works over the summer.  The Jubilee festivities, funded by the taxpayer rather than the murky wealth of the Windsors, are followed by some sort of Association Football competition taking place within the repressive totalitarian East and then the commercial masturbation-fest that will be the "Olympic" Games.  Meanwhile the Middle East burns, the European economy is on the brink of implosion and the corruption and venality of the Conservative Party are unfolding in a blur of incomprehension and amoral posturing by senior Ministers.

These are hardly propitious times, and the continued mantra of grinding away at the public sector, the poor and the middle classes clearly requires a masterpiece of illusion.  There is something mildly amusing about contemplating David Cameron taking lessons from Paul Daniels, but even professional sleight of hand could not really compensate for the sheer volume of incompetence and incapacity being dressed up as the only approach to restoring Britain's tarnished fortunes.

The purely determinist approach taken by the Tories is that the huddled masses like being in that position.  However, this is both patronising and clearly a dangerous game to be playing.  What we are seeing is the creation of a new class of the permanently excluded, not just what would have been characterised as the "underclass" thirty years ago but a generation raised on inflated student debt, a housing market where they are the victims of rapacious landlords egged on by every administration since the Evil Thatch, and employment both insecure and unrewarding.  Aspirations to stability and the desire to contribute to the good of the world are increasingly luxurious in a situation where transience is the order of the day and survival is at the whim of a plutocrat.

Yet the rich go on getting richer, and more protected from the society that they have created.  They eschew the public realm, as it's far too threatening for them, while their mistakes and financial ineptitude is rewarded by bailouts that transfer wealth from the poor to the rich.  This denial of the conditions being created increasingly resembles Tsarist Russia in its final phases - which makes it all the more ironic given the quantity of oligarch's money and influence coming into Britain.  To make this self-appointed elite better off, everyone else must suffer.

Cameron shows no sign of concern about this, despite the riots last year and the ongoing corruption and diminution of respect for government.  Instead, we have a Panglossian arrogance mixed with incredulity that anyone might challenge their legitimacy.

Once trust is lost, it can never be recovered.  The effects of ignoring the need for action to end the British Depression, and ignoring the creeping catastrophe from the frightened-rabbit approach to global economic mismanagement, alongside a growing disenfranchisement of society are frightening in their potential consequences.  The barricades are not that far away, and by the time the last corporate sponsor pulls away from Coe's Catastrophe the nakedness and disgusting hypocrisy of this government may have very few fig leaves behind which to hide.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Allister Heath: neo-con fellow traveller and charlatan?

For those too fastidious to pick up "Metro" in the morning in London there is another free comic, "City AM".  Regular readers of this blog will realise that this is a dribbling neo-con whine-fest, a world where Cameron is a socialist trimmer, the big bad bloc of Europe is an advancing Iron Curtain by any other name, and the only thing that stands in the way of progress is the unpleasant duty of care towards other people who might inhabit the world who aren't either rich or entirely self-sufficient.

Crap AM's editor is the estimable Allister Heath, whose editorial letter every weekday is a miracle of self-referential puffery, either dictated or produced using a keyboard which is easily operated by impacts of a large clenched fist.  Heathy-boy is extremely matey with the Taxpayers' Alliance and wastes no opportunity to put forward their Moonie-style propaganda - bleating about enterprise, the flat tax and the way in which nobody in the public sector deserves to be paid for anything.

Normally I allow this to wash over me, as it is so risible not to be toxic.  On Friday, however, there was a piece so deranged as to make me wonder as to whether the world is really splitting into a number of parallel universes.  Heath allowed himself the luxury of a spittle-filled diatribe against macroeconomics, as a branch of planning and therefore by extension something that should only be permitted in North Korea.

As an economist, my tastes tend towards the macro end of the spectrum, as that is the only area where it might be useful in public policy.  The neo-cons and pseudo-liberals deny the collective at every opportunity, preferring instead to pretend that creating a small-scale, "perfect" market through bogus mathematical constructs is the sole aim of economics.  This denies every major thinker from Adam Smith onwards, but most of them don't bother to read Smith while praying him in aid of the latest attempt to revert to feudal barbarism.

It would be pathetic rather than dangerous if this orthodoxy had not reached into academic circles and government.  However, to put forward the views that what the world needs to get out of the current crisis is an even more extreme version of the policies that led to the financial crash of 2007-08 is so counter-intuitive as to be criminal.  These are the people who preach low taxes and high bonuses for them and their cronies while exhorting cuts to jobs, employment protection and pay for everyone that they consider to be less deserving.

Heath is amusing most mornings, if only because his errors and naked philistinism are so bizarre - the panegyric over the expensive Jubilee celebrations (apparently a good use of taxpayers' money even if paying security staff is not) is matched by frothing xenophobia and baying for European blood.  To make Nigel Farage's arguments seem sane and well-ordered is indeed an achievement.

Well worth watching out for, and even, on occasion, correcting... 

Monday, 4 June 2012

Cameron's ongoing corruption of government

According to the Prime Minister, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport acted "wisely" in his dealings with the proposed takeover of BSkyB by News Corp.  This fits neatly alongside his other amoralities over the last two years - the staunch support for a Defence Secretary whose extra-Parliamentary interests and relationships were dubious to the extent that many reasonable people might have considered them corrupt, and his apparent blindness to the web of connection between himself, his Chancellor of the Exchequere and various dubious characters in the ongoing phone-hacking investigation.

It was clear from the cross-examination at Leveson that Hunt regretted the hacking and corruption scandal engulfed Murdoch before he could have sweetened the takeover pill.  Colluding with James Murdoch to divest Sky News may not be conspiracy, but as the Labour MP Pat McFadden suggests, there may be criminal investigations around the Financial Services Act to contemplate if privileged information did leak out from Government.

Meanwhile, we now have the self-styled Chairman of the Party, Baroness Warsi, facing calls for police investigation of her alleged failures to abide by the law regarding expenses, as well as facing internal Parliamentary investigation.  Nobody suggested that David Laws's bizarre behaviour was criminal, yet his resignation was accepted immediately.  Warsi remains in office, and in Cabinet, despite being unelected and subject to the kind of challenge that would make an honourable person consider whether they are capable of discharging their duties and receiving public money for the purpose.

Cameron came to the Coalition clean-faced and with the declared intention of "listening" to the requirement for cleaning-up the political system.  Yeah, right.

Since the election the aim has been to make noises about reform and transparency while heading off in the opposite direction.  Crony capitalism, on the Blair model, is being promoted through the constant mantra of out-sourcing and the hatred of the public sector - removing democratic accountability and making politicians and officials even more opaque in their actions.  The relationship between Hunt and Murdoch is not seen as abhorrent but the kind of "business-friendly" policies that should be promoted.

It is increasingly difficult not to see conspiracies everywhere.  Cable's slightly-excessive but viscerally-right condemnation of Murdoch smacks even more of a set-up - its exposure by the Tory Right's house journal it looks much more as though its timing could have been part of an orchestrated campaign rather unfortunate coincidence.  Hunt and Murdoch stood to benefit; subsequent events, including totally improper communications between News Corp and a Government department, do nothing to dampen the paranoid antennae.

Cameron is now resorting to sophistry, the last refuge of the scoundrel.  Whether or not there have been technical breaches of the Ministerial Code, let alone the law of the land, he presides over a Cabinet where there is the stink of misconduct.  Previous, pre-Thatcher Tories would have recognised that this represents an unacceptable stain upon the political system and acted to lance the boil.  Instead he stands behind the charlatans and spivs, hoping that instead of probity that something else turns up to save his skin.

This is typical of the current misdirection of Government - the separation between the legislature, executive and judiciary enshrined in both the French and American constitutions.  We have Ministers who are either too thick or too arrogant to distinguish between their political role and their function within legislation, and who get hacked off when this is pointed out to them.  They presume not to understand that the electorate has the right to expect standards from them.

Cameron presides over this, with apparent uninterest.  This is probably because the political system is now skewed in favour of thwarting the popular will rather than expressing it - the captive nature of the political system and the low-calibre individuals who are steered into it by a combination of arrogance, biddability and incapability of doing anything else combine.  He is the typical patrician crony, much happier when with people of his own type whose amorality and compliance don't pose too many challenges.

In a world where independence and respect were valued, this would result in at least an uprising if not a revolution.  Impeachment, demonstrations and removal from office should follow.  Now Cameron is trying to brief out that if the Liberals vote against Hunt it will be a gross act of personal disloyalty.

This is the most specious crap he has yet produced.  Nowhere in the Coalition agreement is there a requirement to support corruption, incompetence and the destruction of governmental reputation.  If Hunt is a casualty, and hopefully the first of many, then it will be a victory for Parliament against the Cabinet, no more, no less.  The Liberals should either abstain, if soiled by Cabinet rank, or vote in favour of a genuine clean-up of Parliament.