Saturday, June 07, 2008

Blair Sets His Sights On Europe

Blair suddenly popped up at Westminster, all empty smiles, after hiding away in his luxury Jerusalem hotel. Up he popped a few weeks ago and bought another UK house, this time a country pile. Funny how EU heads of state, including Brown, meet in Brussels later this month to discuss the new EU Presidency.

When Blair was prised out of office, there was much talk about his legacy and plans for the future. Now his real plans for a lasting legacy are unfolding.

He is after one thing - to make sure he gets the job of full-time permanent EU president. And that's at the heart of the EU Constitution/Treaty.

It's all going so well. He put his old mate Mandelson into a top job in Brussels. Then, as the rotating EU president in 2005, Blair gave away the UK's rebate to grateful EU partners. And one of the last things he did in his dying days as PM was to make sure the Lisbon Treaty got though.

He won the support of new French president Sarkozy. Italian prime minister Silvio 'sleazy' Berlusconi, a big fan, was thrown out but now he's back in, rooting for his old holiday pal.

Blair must be sweating now if the Irish Republic votes 'No' in next week's referendum. This could be a set back to his plans. But any chance of a referendum in the UK has been scuppered by New Labour.

For the truth about what is really going on you have to look across the water.

Bush and the US neocons are on their way out. They need their man in Europe. Blair's links with the US go back a long way. He has never disappointed his powerful masters.

War-mongering Blair has been richly rewarded for taking this country into the illegal Iraq war and boosting profits for the huge US global corporations. But the Big Prize still awaits him.

The appointment of Blair as EU president, with powers over defence and trade, would be a US neocon's dream - the final piece of the jigsaw.


Friday, June 06, 2008

Educa-shun, Educa-shun, Educa-sham

A top university is to set its own entrance exams because the A-levels are not worth the paper they are written on. And the student drop out and failure rate at the so-called 'universities' is soaring. With A-levels, dumbing down just got dumber.

It's all a sham. A New Labour wheeze to keep down the unemployment figures and justify the billions of pounds spent trying to achieve the ridiculous target of getting half of all school leavers into higher education. 

We all know it. And the sad thing is, the young people know it too - but they have to put up with it. What else can they do?

Once, anyone suggesting a dumbing down of exam results was derided by New Labour, shot down in flames and humiliated. "We should be celebrating students' success," they said. 

Now the words have an empty and hollow ring. The same tired line is still trotted out but no one listens anymore.

Of course A-levels have got easier. That was the plan all along. How else can you hit an unrealistic target? But then came the problem. The universities couldn't cope with the huge influx of students. So the vocational-based polytechnics were turned into universities to soak up the places. Still not enough. Well now students can take 'degree' courses at the old Technical and Art (FE) colleges.

Of course students will drop out - just look at where they're dropping out from. The rebranded former polys, offering studies in anything to anybody, to boost their numbers and income. 

And what are students left with if they continue? Yet another worthless bit of paper and a crippling debt from the university fees. 

In August, we'll still have to put up with the BBC running footage of gleeful sixth formers jumping up and down celebrating their four A* A-levels in silly subjects.

Soon New Labour will just give away A-levels as a Leaving Certificate (rebranded as Diplomas) and a degree if you enrol and just try your best to stay the course. 

The answer? Cut back on the number of A-levels subjects offered to only those that suit the rigours of academic study. And introduce a tight check on standards. Make them worth something again. 

Cut back on the number of so called 'universities' and range of degree courses offered (and make sure engineering is included). And when students do manage to get in - through their own hard work and effort - study for a first degree should be free and with a generous study allowance. 

If A-levels, university entrance and a first degree become something tough to aim for, properly rewarded, it will be an achievement to be proud of and actually mean something.


Thursday, June 05, 2008

Wake Up BBC News On-Line!

BBC News on-line needs a wake-up call. Since early yesterday morning the "news" site has led on the Guantanamo "trial" of 9/11 suspected accomplices, as if no other news had happened - or mattered.

Even the wording is misleading. This isn't a GITMO trial, it's a US military tribunal, in Cuba of all places.

UK diplomats may have been held in Zimbabwe, an MEP admits fidddling expenses, a serving Army chief attacks the government over serving soldiers pay - but what had we at the top of the BBC on-line "news" all day - the same old story.

Maybe our man in Havana had too many daiquiris.

The item finally disappeared - completely - in the early hours of this morning, to be replaced by the shock new that Clinton and Obama have held 'surprise' talks. Yes, Clinton and Obama actually talking to each other.


Switch The Games To Athens And Save Us A Fortune

Poor Athens. They spent billions on their Olympics, nearly bankrupting the country and are left with a huge financial mess and a swathe of derelict and decaying buildings. And for a what? A few weeks of fame back in 2004. It's an ominous sign of the financial disaster ahead. Give Athens and this country a break, switch London 2012 to Athens and save us a fortune. 

Athens spent more than £9 billion staging their Olympics, slightly less than the current official estimate (and rising) for the 2012 London Games. And what's there to show for it now? An ominous forewarning of what's to come after London 2012.

The London Olympics will be one of the biggest financial disasters in the world. Its shameful legacy and financial repercussions will be there long after the the last team has flown home with their medals.

This may create national pride and regenerate the area. But at what cost? If we want homes, sports facilities and transport links, why not just build them? Well, no. That would place them on New Labour's public spending balance sheet. And there's an awful lot of money to be made out of the London Olympics.

The true London Olympic cost has been full of deceit and spin since the beginning. The original bid put the cost at around £4 billion. This was later admitted to be just a number plucked out of thin air to secure the bid. Nothing like the true cost which no one can yet put a figure on. Officially it's around £9 billion but unofficially around £14 billion. And there's still four years to go. 

It's already proving to be huge drain on regional sports grants, a lottery tax con and soon the workforce will be heading back to Poland. And we haven't yet started building!

So why not just scrap the whole thing. Tell the International Olympic Committee (IOC) we don't want to play the game anymore and offer to put a few billion pounds into Athens to stage the Games there again and put all those wasted buildings and facilities back to good use.

It's remarkable that you could give a few billion pounds to Athens and that's still peanuts compared to the cost of the London Olympic fiasco. 

We can still build the sports facilities. transport links and the houses and regenerate the East End. After all, we are told the groundwork is already being done.


Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Is Obama Too Good To Be True?

There's something not quite right about Obama. He's black but also white. A Christian but also Muslim. He's a friend of the poor and friends with the rich. He talks the talk but his words and slogans can mean anything to anybody. Are we being manipulated? Is Obama just too good to be true?

He's a PR composite. All things to all people. A figment of the ad man's imagination. The darling of the media elite.

We used to have one of those here. He was called Tony Blair.

So far this has been a Potemkin election. Generally the results have been a foregone conclusion with the Democrat activists and Party faithful in each State.

Now the gloves are off and the presidential election campaign can begin. The US is gearing up to elect the most powerful person on the planet. 

Over the coming months voters will find out if Obama is a con-artist, snake-oil salesman, genuine liberal saviour of the USA or master manipulator.


We're Not Going On Your Public Holiday!

A half-baked plan for a 'British day'. What is it with Brown's obsession with 'Britishness'. First the empty "British jobs for British workers", now this. Can someone tell him, 'Britishness' doesn't exist!

Just try scrapping the English, Welsh, Scottish and Northern Ireland national football and rugby teams and create British soccer and rugby squads instead. He wouldn't last five minutes on the terraces. 

We all know the real reasons. It's a pathetic attempt motivated by pure self political interest and absolutely nothing to do with national identity. And, another clue is in the job of the proposer, immigration minister, Liam Byrne. It's just a belated attempt to get naturalised UK citizens 'on side'.

The idea has already gone down like a wet haggis in Scotland with the Scottish National Party (SNP) saying the proposal has "nothing to do with Britishness, and everything to do with bolstering Gordon Brown as Labour's support evaporates in swing English regions. Labour's cack-handed attempts to resuscitate a British 'national' identity are just desperate, motivated by self interest rather than national". How very true.

National identity comes from where you were born and where you were brought up. That's what makes your national identity, and that includes everyone.

Nowhere is this pride and the passion seen more than in our national football and ruby teams. The terraces are awash with the national colours and face paint and all kinds of fancy dress you can imagine. Now that's national pride. And in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland the saint's days are a real celebration.

Brown's weak attempt at foistering 'Britishness' on our great nations has been taken up by the TV channels' with ridiculous programme titles. A raft of programmes celebrating the 'greatest British this' , or the 'longest British that'. 'Britain's got this' and 'Britain's got that'.

Only someone forgot to tell them that labelling programmes 'British' will exclude at a stroke everyone from Northern Ireland! They are not British. And never have been (just look at the cover of the UK Passport). 

And, usually due to time and money, the programmes just wander around England making a mockery of the titles. (ITV's latest venture 'The Great British Body' didn't even bother to go anywhere else outside of England this week). 

England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are making a slow come back - you can see this in the Tourist Board publicity drives and advertising. And TV and the mainstream media too are just starting to use the 'E' word.

On public holidays, the answer is so obvious. Scotland and Northern Ireland already have bank holidays on their respective saint days. But not so England and Wales. 

So just create a public holiday for England on April 23 and call it St George's Day. And in Wales make St David's day, March 1, the national holiday. 

And leave it to the Scottish Parliament and Welsh/Northern Ireland Assemblies to chose any other public holiday days, as they see fit.

We could always add a United Kingdom Day as well - after all,  we are all part of the UK. And why not create a national holiday for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland - and call it Celtic Day. 


Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Brown's Shabby 42 Day End Game

Brown, the canny and unscrupulous political operator, has done the maths. New Labour know that with a few compromises and bribes, the 42 Day Detention Bill will probably scrape through. And public opinion is divided. 

Any bill will face stiff opposition in the Lords. But that is then and this is now.

So, instead of a vote on the merits or demerits of the proposed legislation, this has been spun as a vote to save the skin of the prime minister and a test of Brown's leadership.

The media are going along with this, happy to play the game. Turning what should have been a vote on principles into a vote of confidence in Brown. 

Even some of the so-called Labour rebels will turn. This is not their time to challenge the government. 

More importantly for Brown, this is totally wrong footing Cameron who now could be seen as on the wrong side of anti-terror laws.

Brown thinks at last he's got a winner with this one. But the way Brown and his New Labour cronies are playing politics with people and our civil liberties is shabby and shameful.


Why Are We Forced To Pay A BBC Tax?

If you run a car you have to buy a licence. If you watch television you have to buy a licence. Only it's not a licence to watch TV, it's a licence to watch the BBC. And it's not a licence, it's a tax.

This week the BBC was forced to justify the obscene £240 million of our money it pays out to celebrity presenters (and that doesn't include its own top brass). 

Last week it had to justify the £110 million it spent on its websites (even though the budget is supposed to be £74 million).

Before that, it was forced to justify the spending and purchase by its 'commercial arm' on things like Lonely Planet books. Before that it was trying to justify its pubic service output. 

That's an awful lot of justifying and an awful lot of money for a public service broadcaster. And while that's going on, we have to put up with the chilling TV Licence advert warning us that "It's all in the database". Very scary. 

We only moan when the Licence Fee goes up, not why we are forced to pay it in the first place.

Back in the days of steam radio when money (our money) was needed to set up a terrestrial TV channel, it seemed like a jolly good idea. Officially we still pay the Licence Fee to receive any public broadcast but the money goes straight to the BBC. 

That was way back in 1946! This is the 21st century. 

Today we have a number of terrestrial channels, some getting money from advertising and some (like Channel 4) receiving huge government subsidies. Then there are the paid-for subscription channels and all sorts of internet broadband services.

A BBC website was a good idea at the time - but look at it now. It’s huge, not just news and sport but hundreds of mini BBC sites, covering everything from cookery to gardening. All, already catered for by the private sector.

The BBC used to be a highly respected public service broadcaster and that, we are told, is still the core remit of the BBC. There are still some admirable examples to be found, but just look at the dearth of anything on the many BBC TV channels that could be remotely described as public service. 

How can we explain the BBC and its New Labour paymasters' reluctance to scrap this hidden tax? 

It seems to all goes back to the lies and deceit which the BBC exposed over the Iraq War. The infamous "sexed-up" dossier. In the aftermath, New Labour came down very, very hard on the BBC. In future, the BBC would have to tow the New Labour line. But in return, the BBC would be given a free hand to spend our cash how it wants. And so it does.

So what's the answer? Well, just scrap the Licence Fee. Outright. Give the BBC a generous grant, ring-fenced to maintain it's public service programming and let it dabble it's toe in the wonderful world of commercial media. 

It will stop us shouting at the puppets presenting the 6'oclock New Labour News (just watch their hands). And get rid of those scary TV Licence adverts.


Monday, June 02, 2008

Brown's 42 Day Trial By Media

The Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) has a chance again today to show that it is New Labour that are the 'rebels' and the highjackers of the Party. But as the 42 day detention row looms, Brown seems to have chosen to talk not to his MPs but through the media. So much for Parliamentary Party democracy.

Another backbench revolt may be brewing among the Labour MPs but today will not be the Straw that breaks Brown's back. 

Will Brown listen? Will he heck. Will he even be there? Doubtful, choosing instead to ignore the PLP and use a Murdoch newspaper as a mouthpiece, leaving his cronies to churn out  the same line in whatever media outlets are happy to be taken in. 

Brown is doing the usual. He won't touch it, meet it, sign it or do anything. And the so-called rebels? This isn't their moment. They are saving themselves for an actual vote. 

Trying to bribe Northern Ireland's DUP with a plan for 42 days internment without trial, leaves a bitter taste in everyone's mouth. 


A Dream Ticket For A General Election?

Two MPs from different political parties have come together in a common cause. Vincent Cable and John McDonnell united by the Heathrow expansion protest and Boris Johnson there - by proxy. Not a New Labour MP in sight.

Apart from Heathrow, they are against New Labour's plans to set up another huge expensive, unaccountable and unelected quango, this one to nod through its big planning projects.

It was Brown who promised a "bonfire of the quangos" way back in the 90s. New Labour hit on a cunning quangoland plan. Simply changed the name so they don't appear on the statistics and hey presto - a bonfire!!

The political trio have different ideologies but something unites them. They are honest, not part of the ruling Political Class. People you can trust. And they speak with English accents.

Johnson has yet to prove himself as London mayor, but as the Yorkshire saying goes: "he's not as daft as he's pudding looking". Cable is a real economist and not one of the LibDem New Labour wannabes. McDonnell is a rare breed, a Labour MP who used to work for a living.

These three give to their respective Parties what has been sadly lacking in recent years. It's what all Parties need. Conservative - with a caring complexion, LibDem - with a dose of economic reality and Labour - freed from the sham and shackles of New Labour. A general election with Johnson, Cable and McDonnell - now that would be a good, clean, honest fight.

Meanwhile Steve Hilton leaves as Cameron's spin master. No surprise here. Hilton's job was to make Cameron's Conservatives 'electable', not to get them 'elected'. He's done his job, well. The Party certainly will use different people for different times.


Sunday, June 01, 2008

New Labour Has Created The Monster On Our Streets

Another week of mindless violence and killings on our streets. What is New Labour's response? New hard-hitting posters, another police crack-down on knife crime and police chief, Ian Blair's call for "tough love" from parents to combat knife crime. Blame it on the parents, blame it on anybody and everybody. What a cop out. 

Today's youth are dying on the streets. New Labour's response is just an endless round of crackdowns, initiatives, campaigns, reviews, consultations. No wonder people are fed up and scared.

There have always been teenagers and teenage gangs. Shakespeare brought us the Montagues and Capulets, Glasgow had the Gorbals gangs, there were Teddy Boys and Mods and Rockers. Given half a chance teenagers will be teenagers, looking for the easy life and hanging around in a peer group on street corners. The difference between then and now is before, society had produced a series of checks and balances which kept the problem under a degree of control and made sure it didn't get too out of hand. 

Not too long ago a youngster would leave school at 16 and get a job. Those suited to the rigours of academic study would stay on in the sixth form. Once in a job, young people could advance themselves through vocational training and education through the workplace on day release from the job. Or study themselves at night class. The National Insurance scheme was just that, an insurance against a loss of job. There were few benefits. Being at home and doing nothing was considered a social stigma. 

Over the decade New Labour has created a youth culture where young people are encouraged to follow meaningless education and training courses for their own sake. The young people know it's all a sham, but play the game because it's the easy option. 

Benefits are paid out to all and sundry, so now teenagers see them as a right. There is no hope, no aspiration. So the answer is hang around in a gang with a group of similarly disillusioned people. And that breeds violence. They are dying because they're simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, or for no reason at all. 

The violence and killings are a product of a decade of political correctness gone mad, human rights making parents afraid of and for their children and young people afraid of nothing, a 'Respect Agenda', which produces just empty words and slogans. But most of all, the breeding of a youth culture that would have been unheard of and unthinkable just a decade ago. 

Now add alcohol to the mix. The ridiculous availability of cheap alcohol, strong alcohol, available 24 hours would have been unheard of a few years ago. Alcohol was bought and consumed in public houses or from purpose built premises. Now there are 24 hour bars, very cheap alcohol, very strong alcohol, available from a supermarket near you. So easy and so cheap, a teenager's dream. 

Today we have New Labour's solution. Another police crackdown and, er, blame it on the parents, again.

It is clear that New Labour will not and cannot tackle the root causes. It was the pseudo-liberal policies of the New Labour Political Elite that created the problems in the first place. They are hardly going to admit they got it wrong. 

New Labour just can't see it or wont admit it because it is of their doing. How can they get out of the hole they've dug for themselves. To do anything that would make a real difference would mean they have to admit they got it all wrong and fat chance of that. 

So what should be done? All that's needed is to wind back the clock. A few years that's all. The Conservatives are reaching similar conclusions. 

That's why Boris Johnson made youth crime on London's streets a main priority of his election campaign, coupled with a ban on alcohol on the Tube. And why Cameron's Conservatives plan to shake-up benefits for young people, making "doing nothing not an option" and "breaking the cycle of worklessness". 

Even on jobs for young people, New Labour has boxed itself in a corner. Why on earth are we paying out vast amounts of money to keep people out of work, when jobs are there and being filled by exploited and under-paid migrant workers? 

It doesn't make sense but it does to New Labour. Brown has taken the easy option. He needs the easy availability of migrant workers to prop up the ailing economy, avoid the need for reform of the welfare system and to keep the young people in worthless education and training courses. Otherwise the statistics will start to look really bad.

If you create a youth culture where it is possible to spend long periods of your life on benefits doing nothing or attending silly courses at the local FE college, what do you expect them to do? They'll be out on the streets with their mates. And like all the teenagers on all the streets, in all the cities around the world, these disillusioned and increasing frightened young people will protect themselves. And violence breeds violence.

New Labour hasn't stood idly by for the last ten years while such an absurd situation developed. It created the situation. Now it is paying the price. New Labour has created this monster on our streets. This is the New Labour legacy.