Sunday 30 June 2013


So, there's been a by-election and the result was a Labour victory over a bubbling Mana party. As an instinctive Labourite who voted Mana in 2011, I'm happy with that. It shows a solidly centre-left vote, albeit split three ways, between Labour the Greens and Mana.

Over on The Standard, of course, it is being hailed as (I kid you not) a ''disaster' for Labour. Clearly, some people don't know how numbers work. Perhaps they thought the vote tallies were akin to chart positions, and getting to one was the aim.

I don’t see why it is a ‘disaster’ for Labour. By-election results are almost always wobbly, as they are on reduced turnouts and without the over-arching narrative of a general election campaign. Also given this by-election was about a relative unknown contesting the seat vacated by a very well known politician who had held it for years.

I suppose people will read into it whatever they want to read into it; the factionalists and schismatics will mysteriously claim a win is a defeat and call for Shearer’s head.

I suppose the simple question they have to answer is, would they rather see David Cunliffe back in government, or would they prefer him on the opposition benches for another three years?

Because I think that really is the reality. There’s a slim possibility of the former if the squabbling stops and Labour get their act together; and a very strong likelihood of the latter, if things continue as they are.

What it comes down to is the common leftwing delusion that their faction is the one that people really want. When in fact within the broad church of the Labour movement, the far left make up only a small, lonely clique. Because they talk only to each other, and about little else, they exaggerate their own importance and influence.

I know, because I am one of them, but sufficiently cut off from the hot house of leftwing factionalism to be able to recognise my own utter insignificance.

Again, the issue comes down to compromise - and the far left are virulently opposed to compromise. They prefer the moral high ground (also known as the opposition benches) to the messy reality of achieving and using power.

They make a sad moral virtue of it, scolding those who do get grubby for being traitors and failing to mimic their own utter ineffectual sideline squawking.

At the time of the original leadership election, I preferred Cunliffe to Shearer - not because he was 'far left' (he isn't) but because I recognised him as an effective, experienced performer. But he lost. I got over it.

It's well past time for other people to move on. I’m sure he’d rather be a minister in government than leader of the opposition.

Saturday 29 June 2013

Stupid Tories

And when they aren't busily re-announcing spending-as-usual as new spending, the Tory Liars are trying to cover up the fact that their (few) policies have failed.
While serving in opposition, the shadow Housing minister, Grant Shapps, promised Tory backing for people who built their own homes to kick-start a house building “revolution” in the UK.

Two years later in Government, he launched an action plan to double the number of self-build homes within a decade.
Hurrah! Encouraging people to build and invest, making money flow about the economy and ending the recession! Not a bad idea, for Tories. But wait ...

But when Labour attempted to find out how the Government was getting on with its pledge, senior officials in the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) attempted to prevent the release of statistics showing how many self-build homes had been started.
Bizarrely, they tried to claim that they could not provide the information because to do so would “prejudice the effective conduct of public affairs”.
“Officials and Ministers need a safe space in which they can offer free and frank advice and exchange [of] views,” they wrote.
“It is reasonable to acknowledge that data from a variety of sources will form an important part of this essential process and therefore should have the same degree of protection as other information.
“If this data was made available at a premature stage it would result in weaker discussions, poorer decision-making and the closure of policy options.”
Shy Tories, hiding their light under a bushel! Fortunately, the shadow Housing minister, Hilary Benn decided the Tories should not be cheated of the credit they were due for pursuing good policy with dogged determination, and for helping ever increasing numbers of people achieve the Tory ideal of home ownership. So he told the Information commissioner that the Tories were too coy to reveal their excellence to the world.

In his ruling, seen by The Independent, the Commissioner roundly rejected the argument put forward by DCLG officials and demanded that the information be released.
“The exemptions cited by DCLG require more than the possible inconvenience in responding to queries about disclosures,” he wrote scathingly.
“The Commissioner considers that DCLG has not provided arguments which demonstrate that disclosure would inhibit the free and frank provision of advice or the free and frank exchange of views for the purposes of deliberation.”
And what did it show? In a short table released to Labour it showed that the number of people who begin self-build homes had fallen since the depths of the recession in 2009 under Labour from 11,800 to 10,400 in 2011.
Oh dear. What have we here? Good policy helping people into home ownership? Nope. Blatant abuse of power, with idiots trying to hide their incompetence from scrutiny. By all means be useless. But don't try to hide the fact. And if you are going to try to hide it, do it competently so you don't end up being exposed as incompetent, untrustworthy idiots.

An even better idea - have good policy that works.

Quotes from the Indie.

Wednesday 5 June 2013


Bit of a problem for George:
The Chancellor will announce £11.5bn of cuts for the 2015-16 financial year in three weeks – but so far only £2.5bn have been agreed, as senior members of the Government battle to protect their own departments from further suffering.


Seven smaller departments have settled with the Treasury. The unresolved budgets include defence, education, business, transport, local government and the environment.

Might be difficult to pick where the axe should fall. Unless, of course, that talk about the Greenest Government Ever was just that - talk.

I rather suspect the windfarms may be in for a hammering and anticipate James Delingpole to be made Under-Goblin in the Department of the Environment.


 From the Guardian : The  Observer  understands that as well as backing away from its £28bn a year commitment on green investment (while sti...