Tag Archives: Conservatives

LIAM FOX RESIGNS AS HE IS HOUNDED OUT OF GOVERNMENT

So finally Dr Liam Fox has resigned from government, and not before time.  Within 24 hours of the story breaking it was obvious he had to go, but many Conservatives would not accept this or even see what he had done wrong.

It quickly became clear that Dr Fox’s close friend Adam Werritty was being used as an “unofficial advisor”, without security clearance, and without a clear defined role that could be held up to scrutiny, accountability and transparency.

The very idea that being an important member of the government as defence secretary, going to important meetings with heads of state, and bringing his “mate” along to all these meetings all over the world costing thousands of pounds of “some ones” money, and that this would be acceptable just defies logic.

I can just see myself going to a business meeting, discussing confidential information and bringing a “mate” along to sit in on and take part in the meeting. I would be looked at as being completely mad, and rightly so.  Adam Werritty had no business being at those meetings and being able to take advantage of networking government contacts on the basis of being a “friend”.

There are still questions to be answered like who exactly was paying for Adam Werritty’s expenses and what was he gaining from the relationship, details we may now never find out.

As for David Cameron, I’m afraid he dithered on this issue.  We know that Liam Fox had already broken the ministerial code and acted irresponsibly and in a way that no ordinary mortal could have acted in business.  On this basis, I think David Cameron got this profoundly wrong and will be damaged by the affair.

I was wrong in my previous comments when I stated that Dr Fox would be gone within 5 days . . . . . . it actually took 6!

Sadly, I do not believe that the act of arrogance by Liam Fox will be the last we see in this coalition government.

bb

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UNEMPLOYMENT HITS NEW HIGH OF 2.57 MILLION

Conservative ministers are out in force explaining why their economic policy is working so well, and that is why unemployment has hit a 17 year high today at 2.57million or 8% of the workforce.

What a day for the right and the left of British politics.  The same old arguments start being trotted out at these times, along with a few that we thought were dead and buried.  Not to mention some rather interesting excuses and analyses of statistics.

This morning began with the government claiming that the rising unemployment was all to do with the Euro zone problems and nothing to do with government policy.  Prior to this, all previous bad economic news was the legacy of the nasty Labour Party.

Later in the day, the government were stating that the slow down of the UK economy had only occurred in the last 3 months ignoring the fact that the UK economy has virtually not grown at all for 9 months.  Flat lining of the economy did not happen in the last 3 months.

Of course George Osborne has also blamed, the cold weather, the wrong snow, the hot weather, the royal wedding and bank holidays for economic woes over the past 9 months.  At some point you would think they would run out of excuses.

Don’t you love politicians who when they are out of power blame everything that happens on the incumbent government, and then when they get into power it is always someone elses fault.

The one thing about this recession that has been different than previous downturns over the past 30 years has been how employment has seemed to be a little more resilient.  Now though there has been a large nudge upwards in the unemployment rate and we will probably see it continue on its path to 3 million.

It is funny that this “nudge” has happened at a time when the cuts begin to “kick in”.  But maybe this is just a “coincidence”.

The pattern of unemployment is similar for youth unemployment as it is in the rest of the Euro zone now, with it reaching around 19% of those under 25 out of work.  At least we do not have the 45% youth unemployment of the likes of Spain, but as usual, it is the young (and old) who are sacrificed by an economic downturn.

David Cameron today defended the government’s strategy by saying that their economic policy is working because they have brought down interest rates to 0.5% giving the economy an advantage and being competitive.  Perhaps it was an oversight, but the interest rate in the UK has been at this level since 2009, prior to the present government coming to power.

In the Spectator, a rather skewed look at youth unemployment figures has revived the call from some to abolish the minimum wage for the sake of the under 25’s. The graph below tells the story.

The analysis of this graph by Fraser Nelson is that the reason that youth unemployment has risen in the UK to Euro zone levels is the minimum wage or the evil solialist regulation imposed by the last Labour government.

However, the minimum wage came into being in April 1999 and the rapid increase in unemployment came toward the end of 2007, at the time the Banking crisis hit, and the credit crunch began.  Matching almost to the day that the queues began outside the doors of the Northern Rock.  Another coincidence?

Like the idea that when we have a threat to national security we should put aside our objections to torture because it is inconvenient; we now have the argument that we should not pay people a low but half decent wage because the economy is flat lining.

It is unlikely to be the minimum wage causing youth unemployment to rise, but the wider problems of a debt crisis across half the industrialised world.

Like the arguments that we have a deficit problem because we spent too much, they ignore the real problem which is the collapse of tax revenue which is the real problem.

We now have to watch this space, as the IMF again reassess the UK economic plan.  They have already made noises to the effect that the UK government may have to draw back on its deficit reduction plan as the elephant in the room “GROWTH” suffers.

As unemployment creeps up, and the economy flat lines with no growth, the deficit will continue to grow and not fall despite the cuts in public expenditure.

Like a ship navigating iceberg ridden seas, the coalition has chosen to decide on the speed and course of the ship, without taking into account the changing conditions of the journey.  Simply a recipe for disaster.

I fear there are more stormy seas ahead, oh and a few more excuses.  Maybe Father Christmas will be next on George Osborne’s hit list!

Other post
Great Recession
World Economic Crises – Austerity
Recession what Recession

 

Liam Fox is on the run as the Hounds get the scent

Oh dear, it doesn’t take long for the usual sleaze and grubby nature of those in power to take the rise out of the tax payers that pay their wages.

So far we have had Andy Coulson, that is still damaging the Prime Minister, having to resign.  He should never have been employed in the first place, but hey ho.

We also have many MP’s who took the rise out of the tax payer through MP’s expenses, still in Parliament, giving a lie to the idea that all we had to do was have an election and eject those that were crooked.  When even the Prime Minister had to pay back expenses he morally should never have claimed in the first place, you have to question whether anything has changed.

Like Animal Farm – the noses in the trough never really changes.

The problem for the present minister in trouble, is that the public and the press are not in the mood to accept unacceptable behaviour, or even, behaviour that LOOKS unacceptable from those in power.  There is very little trust in public officials, and the press cannot wait to have a go at those politicians that have been rubbing their hands with glee at the hacking scandal.

So what of Liam Fox? Is he corrupt or simply a prat?  His relationship with Mr Werritty seems puzzling to say the least, but not surprising when those in power like to give their “jobs for the boys”.  It has always been who you know not what you know when you get into government.

The jury is out at the moment but it doesn’t look good.  This article shows the web within which Dr Fox is entangled Sunday Telegraph . What looks particularly bad is that when he has been asked very simple questions by the media he has refused to answer a single one.  He is well aware that any discrepancy in what he says will be pounced upon.  But what does he have to hide?

There are questions over soliciting meetings for business dealings; Adam Werritty taking advantage of their friendship by handing out business card stating he was an advisor of Dr Fox; and most seriously being involved in various situations where national security could have been breached.

It is all very bizarre, but the vultures are circling.  Silence is never a good thing when all around you are commenting on your alleged misdemeanors. The correct response would be to put all the facts on the table, if there is nothing in the story, and there is nothing to hide, then come COMPLETELY CLEAN straight away.  To say next to nothing and appoint an enquiry into your own conduct is not very clever.

One commentator this morning said it reminded her of the Major government, which is unfortunate to say the least.  The last thing this government needs is to divert their attention from the task in hand.  Whether it is Cat gate or Liam Fox and Adam Werritty’s relationship, it is a self made diversion that could well lead to a resignation.

The PM’s office was less than forthcoming in their initial support for Liam Fox which also casts doubt on his position.

The Preliminary report in the affair will be given to David Cameron tomorrow, and he has an important task.  With his dithering over the hacking scandal, News International and Andy Coulson, he needs to show that a) he knows what is going on and b) that he can make a decisive decision that he will not have to roll back later.

There is no doubt that there is a stench in the air, but whether this will take the scalp of Liam Fox remains unclear.  However, the talk this morning in various newspapers is that there may be a slight lack of judgement involved, trying to play down any misdemeanor that may be proven.  Surely a lack of judgement does not bode well for Dr Fox?

With the pack in chase, whether Prat or sleaze,  it does not look good for  Dr Fox.

Fox on the run?

Cat Flap, Red Ed and the Political Party really running the country

Well the Party Conference season is over and, for those that nodded off, it is time to wake up and see the new politics term take its course.

As usual the conference season was a largely pointless and boring few weeks where leaders make speeches thinking the world is watching, when actually, other than an awful lot of BBC and SKY journalists, nobody is taking a blind bit of notice.

The first conference by the Liberal Democrats even had their own supporters staying away, with seats empty throughout the conference, even in the leaders speech.  It was a drab affair with those bothering to turn up being in complete denial at their predicament.

You would never think that they were a party of government from the low key atmosphere and empty seats, but in government they are.  The funniest moment without doubt was the suggestion by one person in the “ask Nick” sessions that actually it was the Liberal Democrats running the government.  This got a good laugh in the hall and a round of applause – it certainly got a laugh outside the hall!

Then came Labour’s conference.  Oh how journalists must hanker for the good old days when a good punch up would ensue, with walk outs, open hostility and the certainty of a little drawing of  blood.

We have none of that these days, they are all too civilised you know.  Again the conference was largely unremarkable except for the Ed Miliband speech.  His delivery is not great, but at times he did look as though he meant what he was saying.

Unfortunately for Ed, he rekindled the “Red Ed” tag that had all but disappeared.

I actually thought the rhetoric of his speech was quite good with the point being we should encourage good business practice and not bad ones.  However, somehow the Tory press picked this up as being “anti business”.

This is somewhat worrying because this surely assumes that most British companies are actually asset strippers and have no social responsibility.  I would have thought that if companies work hard and create wealth that they would be in the “good” category rather than the vilified one.  Maybe I missed the point?

Anyway, whichever way you take the speech, the rhetoric is all very well but the reality is as yet the Labour Party has no policies to implement such high stated moral values on business or the economy, and frankly is unlikely to have. But at least he seemed to be questioning the general ethos and over riding ideology of the past 30 years, and he is the first of the main parties to do this.

Then we had the Conservative party.  This ended up being by far the most entertaining of the conferences.  Feeling very pleased with themselves for  .  .  err .  .  .  .  not winning the last election, they proceeded to bash the Europhiles, ditch their green credentials, spend £250 million on bin collections, and have an argument between themselves about a cat!  All most amusing.

Cat gate was truly ridiculous.  I have no idea what planet Theresa May lives on these days, but it is not within this universe.  There are obviously important arguments regarding the human rights act, but by choosing such a ridiculous story, that has little, or no basis of truth in it whatsoever, just made her look desperate and pretty silly.  Kenneth Clarke, being the plain spoken person he is, pretty much said so straight away much to the annoyance of his boss David.

It also doesn’t help that it is now being reported that she “lifted” cat gate from a UKIP speech!

Oh how amusing.  Even as I write this, arguments still ensue over the said cat as the immigrant in question plans to join his gay partner in a civil partnership next summer.  Surely this will please the Conservative Party and David Cameron in particular. After all they believe in Gay Marriage, not despite being Conservatives, but because they are Conservatives.   It all fits surely with their belief in family values!

Well, now the party is over, and cat gate rumbles on, I smell a bit of sleaze on the horizon  .   .   .   .   or is that a fox?

David Cameron Ditches His “Green” Credentials

It’s funny how the veneer of politician’s promises and posturings suck so many into the path of follies heaven.  David Cameron, like Tony Blair before him, is a master of saying it well, but meaning very little.

Zac Goldsmith must be wondering what on earth he is doing after the latest party conference season.

The announcement from the Conservative Party of ensuring that the UK will go no faster than anyone else in Europe to reduce carbon emissions, just about ends their bid for the “green” vote in the UK.

With a road building expansion on the horizon, increasing the speed limit on motorways (exactly the opposite to green policies to reduce the speed limit) and the loosening of planning controls making “sustainable development” or “economic benefit” the main objective of any consideration of planning applications, those defending the environment in various respects must be in a tail spin.

Add all this new bluster to the debacle that was the big “Forest sell off” that never was and some may be wondering which party really is speaking up for either rural Britain or the environment.

It has been a highly amusing rise to mediocrity for the environmental evangelist Cameron.  He who stated soon after becoming leader that all houses should put wind turbines on the side of their houses  . . . . . before someone pointed out, a little late, that they don’t work on the roofs of houses!

Then showing how much of a new man he was by cycling to work, while the gas guzzling car carried his parliamentary papers behind him.

Those who fell for this nonsense must be pretty sick right now, but then again they only have themselves to blame.  Cameron was always a charlatan when it came to green policies with a naked act of trying to show how touchy feely the Conservatives are –  re branding with a tree, and a few well spoken titbits to titillate the some time middle class environmentalists was all that was needed.

Priorities dear boy is what we are told makes this government different.  They pick the right priorities for the UK’s future.  With that in mind, it is highly efficient and environmentally friendly, not to mention a very good use of resources to bribe councils with £250 million to   .    .     .     .   yeah wait for it – an extra bin collection.  Great.

My advice for Zac is give it up mate, you made a pact with the devil and now you have to look at yourself in the mirror and simply admit – you got it wrong.

ECONOMIC CRISIS AS GROWTH IS CUT BY 50%

Economic woes – “it never rains but it pours” – can be the only description of the world economy right now.  The UK specifically is fully into its 3rd quarter of stagnation.

Yesterday the National Office of Statistics revised its growth for the 3 months to June down to 0.1%.  Down 50% from its previous statistics.  Confirming what everyone pretty much already knows (except George Osborne) that the UK economy is flat lining.

In addition IMF growth forecasts for 2011 have been downgraded to 1.1% from 2% 9 months ago, and for 2012 down to 1.6% from 2.3% and even this looks highly optimistic.  The IMF is clearly opening the door for a squirming back track by the UK government to reduce its deficit reduction plan. 

No growth = very little chance of cutting the deficit by the amount the chancellor would like.  No growth means continual falling standards of living in the UK.

Today the Bank of England kept interest rates at 0.5%.  Not unexpected, but even those on the right are now resisting calls to hike interest rates in the way they were calling for it a year ago.  The opportunity has been missed they say.

In addition they have announced a further round of Quantitative Easing.  The electronic version of printing money.  This was not altogether surprising, as it has been signposted by Goerge Osborne over the past few days.  However, the amount is far more than originally forecast, signalling that the financial crisis is still getting worse and not better.

The penny is beginning to drop for the coalition.  Growth is becoming far harder to come by, and the cuts are only just beginning to bite.  The chances of a double dip recession are massively increased with the continuing problems in the Euro Zone that does not look like ending any time soon. Yet, still no growth strategy except, cut and hope for the best.

I predict that sooner or later the UK government will HAVE to slow its deficit reduction plan, and a new banking crisis to ensue in the Euro zone leading to frozen liquidity in the world banking system.  Watch this space!

 

Bleeding Heart Liberals or a Sane Voice in an Insane World

Swift justice and stiff sentences were called for after the riots as the politicians fell over themselves to be “tough” on crime.

Well it appears that is just what we have.  Courts have been sitting through the night to deal with the hundreds of people arrested and an unprecedented number remanded in custody either as a sentence or awaiting trial.

All was looking like just what Mr Cameron ordered until a rather peculiar thing happened – newspapers started reporting that sentences were too harsh and inconsistent. Remarkable because usually the complaint over the past 30 years has been that sentences were too lenient rather than too harsh.

A new political debate is now on the cards and whispers of “divisions” within the coalition are muted by such places as the Guardian and elsewhere.

I now find myself in a rather peculiar position, having been accused of being a “bleeding heart liberal” in the past.

I watched an interesting debate a few nights ago in which Michael Howard (yes the former Tory leader who lurched to the right in a cynical attempt to pick up votes and who proclaimed “prison works”) defended the sentencing being laid down by the courts for those perpetrating the riots and looting.

Others broadly described as “on the left”, “liberal thinkers” or those campaigning for “human rights” and “prison reform” have argued that many of these sentences are too harsh and inconsistent.  Not only that, but it has been argued that the appeals procedure will bring the justice system into disrepute and cost the tax payer more money.

As written in a previous post What are the causes of the riots?: An impossible question but one we have to ask I am sympathetic to and insist upon finding the causes behind why there is a section in society who seem to not feel they belong to society or their own community and have a set of values many of us simply do not understand.

However, I along with many others have been so shocked and sickened by the rioting and looting that went on as also discussed in Armageddon Days – Britain’s Riots   that the call for tough sentencing did not just come from the usual suspects on the right of our political system.

Seeing violence and looting on a mass scale without any immediate causal link like “the cuts”, “political demonstration”, or “poverty” – but rather naked wanton violence and thievery on an opportunistic mass scale regardless of the harm it caused to their own neighbours, community or wider society was shocking.

45 people lost their homes and 4 people died in the riots, and be it for a lot of luck, more would have died as the haunting pictures of the Polish lady jumping from a first floor window to escape the flames shows.

Not only were large businesses affected, but small businesses where a small interruption to their activities will send them to the wall and thus people losing their jobs. There is also the much unreported events of looters breaking into peoples homes in places like Ealing while people were in their homes and breaking into restaurants where guests where locked into basements while the staff fought off looters and rioters.

These people took part in riots without thought for their victims or society at large, because they thought they could get away with it and even if they did get caught they had nothing to fear.

Talking to Police – it appears that there is so much evidence they have obtained, from blood samples, finger prints and cctv evidence that they will still be making arrests in 2 years time.  The culprits did not take hardly any precautions because they never thought they would be caught.

Then there are those who committed “minor” offences of receiving stolen goods.  However, anyone who “received” stolen goods during or immediately after the riots when “picking up a TV set off the street” or “buying stuff in the pub off someone he didn’t know”, must have been living on the planet Venus not to know where these items had come from.

Michael Howard said famously that “prison works” – he was partly wrong.  Prison breeds criminals and starts a vicious circle of crime and institutionalisation. However, we have to have as a society an ultimate sanction.  In our society we no longer thrash people, or throw tomatoes at people in stocks or thankfully hang people – so for us prison is the ultimate punishment.  Prison works to keep those dangerous off the streets.

It seems obvious to me that if you take part in the worst rioting seen in this country for a hundred years; where it was wanton greed and violence; where 4 people died and 45 people lost their homes, then a prison sentence is likely to be the appropriate outcome for  good number. Indeed, to put rioters and looters back on the streets immediately could be seen as asking for trouble.

I do not accept the argument that people appealing their sentence brings the system into disrepute.  It is inevitable that there will be SOME inconsistency in the system as magistrates and judges are after all human (shock horror).

It is very easy to cite a few cases where sentences are disproportional or inconsistent when over a thousand people have been sentenced in a short period of time.  That is why we have an appeals procedure and that is how the law works.

I find myself, in the peculiar position of agreeing with Michael Howard, (if I believed in God I may well ask for forgiveness at this time!).  Prison sentences in many cases will be appropriate and the context of the riots should be taken into account.

The public appear to agree with this as seen in a recent YouGov polls showing that OF THOSE SURVEYED 81% either agree with the sentencing or think they are too lenient. However, as with all surveys we should be guarded. It is also easy to follow the mob in justice as in rioting.  During the riots it is worth noting that 33% were polled as believing the Police should use LIVE AMMUNITION on the rioters.  Yet another shocking statistic in the saga.

The question for the politicians now is what they do about the numbers game. Their prison policy is in tatters as the prisons are now about to be full to bursting point as Newsnight have reported that those convicted of knife crime are being housed in a Premier Inn Hotel rather than a prison!

They will surely be preparing a U-Turn for the Justice Secretary soon enough.  It may well be time for a rather more searching debate on the role of our justice system in future.  A balance between punishment and rehabilitation without policy led by the need to save money.

On this occasion I would have to say the “bleeding heart liberals” have got it sadly wrong.