Friday, November 07, 2008

Brown Just Pulls Off Glenrothes

Brown and wife Sarah couldn't stem the tide in their own backyard, holding onto Glenrothes by a slim six thousand plus. The SNP were out-gunned and out-manoeuvred, as the government pulled out all the stops to make sure New Labour did not suffer a humiliating defeat. 

The by-election result has surprised many punters who predicted an SNP win. 

But a Glenrothes Massacre was not to be. Nor was this a Glencoe Massacre over the Scots, as spinners would now have us believe. But the Dark Lord had been at work.

The date had been fixed for just after the US elections, to bury any defeat. There just wasn't the media frenzy or interest as there had been in previous by-elections.

Downing Street's grip on BBC 'News' was complete. Every opportunity was used to spin and drop a piece of political electioneering into the bulletins. 

Schoolmaster and head of Brown's old school, Lindsay Roy, was no Rob Roy. He took every opportunity to bang on about Brown and follow the line written for him: 

"I pledge my support to the leader of this country ... Someone who has worked very hard on behalf of all of us, not just in Fife, but in Scotland and the UK during these volatile economic times." 

Now where have we heard that last bit before? 

You couldn't keep Brown away. And then there was Sarah. A rare asset.  Many would be persuaded to vote for her whatever their politics. 

The sight of the first lady of Downing Street campaigning, in what was after all a minor by-election, was a unique sight. But it worked. She'd saved Brown's skin once before at the Labour Party conference and she helped do it again. 

And then there's the apparent Brown 'bounce'. There's something very disturbing about a guy who caused the economic disaster facing the country now milking it for all its worth.

BBC 'News' may be gloating with its "Labour victorious" headline, trying to justify biased coverage but looking coldly at the results gives the government little comfort. 

This was in Brown's backyard. If he couldn't pull it off there, all credibility would be lost. 

The swing to the SNP was around 5%. That's a trend still in the right direction for Salmond, in the wrong direction for New Labour. And the LibDems? They are certainly going nowhere. 

It's a sign of the arrogance of the New Labour government that there's speculation now Brown may capitalise on Glenrothes and his real or imagined 'bounce' with a general election. But any 'bounce' will be short lived.  

He still needs to pull a rabbit out of the hat. And his rabbit may be waiting in the wings, in the shape of the long-awaited troop withdrawal from Iraq

Politics is all about timing. This was never going to be another Glasgow East. In Glenrothes, Brown and New Labour happened to be in the right place at the right time.


Thursday, November 06, 2008

3% Isn't Enough For Deep Recession

Slashing interest rates to 3% is a desperate measure for desperate times. But it won't go far enough to stave off a deepening recession. The Bank of England has seen sense but it could be too little too late. 

Both the government and the BBC made a big mistake by flagging up the economic crisis as a cosy little global "downturn"

That gave people a false sense of security and sent a confusing message when everyone, except the Bank of England, could see the economy was falling around their ears. 

But spinning that soft line, helped to deflect criticism away from Brown's 'boom and bust' and the guy who caused the economic mess in the first place. 

Now the stark truth has dawned and at last the Bank of England has seen some sense. It is not inflation that's the economic bogy man for the moment - it's that recession where everything grinds to a halt. 

The message sent out today by the Bank of England was loud and clear but in the past it's been confusing. At least now there's a clear signal to cut the rate to its lowest since the 1950s

But even a one and a half a percent cut won't do the trick. The downturn/recession is starting to bite hard. A much deeper rate cut may be needed and, if coupled with properly funded tax cuts, that may give people and the country the break they need.

Reluctant banks will have to be forced to pass on the rate to existing home owners, credit card and loan customers. Those looking for a mortgage or credit still have to find someone willing to lend the money and take on the risk. 

The key to economic survival is UK manufacturing. But that has been decimated by the government over the past decade as it saw the future in a now discredited financial services industry based on the City. 

Cutting the interest rate will give a much needed boost to manufacturing and small businesses. But only if rates come down and GDP increases in tandem, will the economy start to speed up. This rate cut will take an age to work through, while GDP just gets worse.

With any cut in interest rate there's a big downside. In the past, it's meant easy money and a borrowing boom, but now people are keeping their belts tightened. Any sign of rising inflation has to be tackled immediately. Savers will be hit. A lower rate means it's more expensive to buy goods and services from abroad. 

The whole of Brown and New Labour's economic model has been based on buying in cheap goods and services from such places as China and the Far East, helping create the mythical boom years and the feel-good factor. 

Just how far interest rates will have to drop is a sure sign of just how deep and long lasting the recession is going to be. 

If banks can be given a huge bail-out why not use some of that borrowed cash for tax cuts and breaks to help the pocket. Just how any tax cut is funded is the billion dollar question.

It will take more than this one and a half percent cut to get things really moving again.

Some economists believe it will have to go much, much further to kick start the domestic economy. The days of zero interest rates may not be too far ahead.


Will SuperBrown Stop A Glenrothes Massacre?

You wait ages for an election then two come along. Today the government squares up to the SNP in Brown's backyard. Even with a Glenrothes Massacre, don't count on a bye-bye election from Brown. 

The signs from political commentators are the SNP will take this seat from New Labour but what a difference a couple of months make. Even a disastrous defeat of seismic proportions probably wouldn't shift Brown and the gang from their cosy Westminster world. 

Much has changed since the date was set in stone, in the hope a defeat might get buried under all the US election hype.

The dissidents have been dispatched to their Gulags. Mandleson is back in charge with a new department of spin. Brown thinks he's riding high, saving the world from that global 'downturn'/recession and global warming.

A defeat will be a mere distraction for Brown and the government. "By-elections come and go" and he will "just get on with the job". And course there's the line that even in defeat it could have been so much worse, if Superman and Sarah hadn't been out there. 

A victory for New Labour in Glenrothes though and Brown is the come-back kid and the darling of the Westminster New Labour elite. With his propaganda campaign now being waged through the BBC and a new army of spin doctors and advisors, the government can hope to cling on to power.

It's been the Gordon and Sarah show in Glenrothes. Brown didn't break with tradition and actively campaign as prime minister, Blair beat him to it. But now the first lady of Downing Street has got involved in party political campaigning in a by-election. They have been joined by the new hero of the working lass, John Prescott. 

But of course they would only add to the humiliation if New Labour loses heavily. 

It is Salmond and the SNP who desperately need to win, far more than Brown, to deliver another Glaswegian Kiss and reinforce the SNP's credentials, overturning a 10,664 New Labour majority. 

And what about the New Labour candidate? If you think the guy looks like a schoolmaster and a throw back from Tom Brown's schooldays, you'd be right. Only it's old Brown's schooldays, headmaster of his old school. 

At the time of nominations, it seems no-one else was prepared to stick their neck out for New Labour in Glenrothes.


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Blears Bleats On About Truthful Blogs

They're at it again, all part of the Downing Street Orwellian strategy to silence the political bloggers. The latest attack comes from Chipmunk, Hazel Blears, who bleats on about the bloggers who don't fit into her cosy little world.

Political blogs create a "culture of cynicism" says Blears, according to the Telegraph.

In the world according to Blears, too much commentary is provided by a "self-appointed 'political class' that leaves ordinary people excluded and the mainstream media must adopt a more 'responsible manner'."

Why is it that only political bloggers are 'self-appointed'? Does that rule apply to the explosion of a very healthy blogsphere at the Daily Telegraph, IndependentGuardian and the rest?

And what the heck does she know about 'ordinary people'. There are not many of those in the Westminster bubble.

Blogs she says, are mostly written by "people with disdain for the political system and politicians".

Er no. It's not a disdain for the political system nor all politicians - only Blears and the New Labour gang. The Orange Party has never heard a bad word said about Vince Cable, for example.

And the diatribe goes on.

"Perhaps because of the nature of the technology, there is a tendency for political blogs to have a 'Samizdat' style," she says. "The most popular blogs are right-wing, ranging from the considered Tory views of Iain Dale, to the vicious nihilism of Guido Fawkes."

Dale is a respected Conservative commentator and Guido lives in the real world - that will boost their visitor numbers and advertising revenue no end.

When will this silly woman get it through her head. The media and political blogsphere has its fair share of political views, for sure, but they more or less balance out.

"Perhaps this is simply anti-establishment. Blogs have only existed under a Labour government. Perhaps if there was a Tory government, all the leading blogs would be left-of-centre?"

Wrong again. New Labour has been in power since the internet was in its infancy. That's why blogs have only existed under a New Labour government.

The Orange Party is a new kid on the blogging block but sorry to burst your bubble Blears, it is both independent and very much left of centre. And it comes with a lifetime of real journalism under its belt, crossing swords with much bigger fish than Blears - though that's not saying much. 

The Orange Party will be in love with Labour, quite happy to cuddle up to Cameron and sidle up to Salmond, if they deserve it. It's the New Labour Project that gets up the nose of many ordinary voting folk.

The Blears attack seems to end with a warning, almost a veiled threat to silence the political blogsphere.

"Until political blogging 'adds value' to our political culture, by allowing new voices, ideas and legitimate protest and challenge, and until the mainstream media reports politics in a calmer, more responsible manner, it will continue to fuel a culture of cynicism and despair."

That seems to herald a disturbing new breed of bloggers born out of Mandleson's new department of spin.

Curiosity and scepticism is healthy. Political control of the media, in whatever form, is not. 


Brown Dribbles Drivel Over Pal Obama

The Chosen One had hardly been chosen before Brown eyed the chance for some last minute electioneering. He says they are best pals and everything in the garden is coming up roses. 

While all other politicians fell over themselves to send messages of congratulations to P-elect Obama,  Brown had to go that extra inch. 

According to his personal news organisation, the Brown Broadcasting Corporation, they are the best of pals. 

Brown said: "I know Barack Obama and we share many values."

And just in case you missed the electioneering spin:

"We both have determination to show that government can act to help people fairly through these difficult times facing the global economy."

And there was more. "Mr Brown, who held talks with Mr Obama in London during the summer, added: "The relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom is vital to our prosperity and security."

Is that the same 'special relationship' that took us to war on a lie? It must have been while they were looking at the flowers in the No 10 garden.

Brown needs a dose of reality. Glenrothes is just around the corner. People in Scotland are not fooled by New Labour spin and hype and skewed opinion polls. 

Brown is no Obama - he's not skinny or good looking enough for a start. And Salmond is certainly no McCain. 

Everything may be rosy now in Brown's garden. Until Thursday. 


God Help America Now

America faces a disturbing and unsettled future after voters were taken in by the most powerful and expensive marketing machine in US history. Obama talked the talk. The media helped him sell a soap powder dream. But with false hope comes shattered dreams. 

The Orange Party was born out of the lunacy of Blair's New Labour Project but Obama quickly came on the radar.

Since the Main stream media was obviously not going to do anything about him, someone had to say something about the sham.

In the early days of June 2008, the first article was published, following a visit to friends in the US. That was a short, innocuous piece, “Is Obama Too Good To Be True?“, in which the Orange Party questioned a guy who seemed to be a product of a slick marketing machine and packaged up like soap powder. Another Tony Blair. 

"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."

Friends in the US from all backgrounds were enlisted and not a Republican among them. All would be happy to spit on Bush's grave. They gave the steer and the confidence to swim against the tide of increasing Obama adulation. 

At that time, issues of his funding, background, links with dodgy Chicago characters, ACORN and double speak, were all unknowns but well known by others. 

Something was wrong. About his rhetoric, the sycophancy of the media and its Faustian pact. It didn't smell right. 

It centred on the fact that selling Obama in this way was both meaningless and dangerous, when the US was facing so many complex problems at home and abroad. 

A guy who is so willing to sell empty slogans, had to be hiding something. And he was. What we know about Obama today is quite disturbing. 

Stanley Kurtz, senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, writing in NRO, summed it up in the days before polling. 

"In his heart and soul, Barack Obama was and remains a radical - stealthy, organizationally sophisticated, and when necessary tactically ruthless. The real Obama the man beyond the feel-good symbol is no mystery. He’s there for anyone willing to look. Sad to say, few are."

Here, former Times and Sunday Times editor and author of The American Century, Harold Evans, was scathing about the Obama media bias as he flagged up fair and reasonable concerns. 

"The US media have been captivated by Obama, at the expense of their curiosity and scepticism... All the mainstream national outlets were extraordinarily slow to check Obama's background."

From his questionable citizenship, through ACORN and his associations with Ayres, Wright, Khalidi and crook Tony Rezko, all have now been left up in the air in the hope they'll be quietly forgotten.

Even a casual look into his background, tells you that “hope” and “change” were never on his agenda. Like a slick snake-oil salesman, he was trying to be everything to everyone.

The mere fact that so many Americans have been taken in, all for the sake of an invented promise, a deluded dream and a misguided message of hope, sends mixed messages to the rest of the world.

Obama and McCain split nearly 50-50 on the popular vote (52%, 47% at the time of writing) but it was always going to be down to the State electoral colleges (349, 163). And that's where the Republicans took their eye off the ball, chasing instead the popular vote. 

The Obama victory today, shows that half American voters simply don't want to ask questions about the man who will be their president. 

It means that most Americans want to put a false hope in a nanny state, in which all is taken care for them by the magical Wizard of Oz. 

It means they are happy to destroy the US and the core principles of freedom and liberty. 

It means they have put their faith in a man who has deliberately whipped up the race card for selfish political advantage at home. And sent a confused and unstable message abroad. 

Choosing McCain, would have salvaged a few crumbs of dignity and tradition. Instead, Obama deals a death blow to America. 

Along the way the Orange Party has been inundated with visitors from the US and beyond and made many friends and many enemies. 

Now all the arguments against Obama are firmly in the public domain and out there, in past posts here and in the blogsphere. 

If the US still has a healthy soul in there somewhere, its citizens will now do the right thing and question, question, question, while they wait for the worm to turn.

God Bless America. And God help her now.


Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Reading The Runes On Election Night

Election fatigue has turned into election fever as attention nervously switches to how to read the runes. The Orange Party's advice is to get an early night and in the morning blame it all on the media, the polls and some very slick marketing - or be thankful to them. If you do play Wee Willie Winkie - watch out for the 'call'.

The tracking polls, so favoured by the media, have now closed, with the previously accurate IBD/TIPP closing at Obama 51.5%, McCain 44.3%, a 7.2% lead. (RCP Average 52% Obama, 44.2% McCain, lead 7.8%). 

Neither is a double digit lead which would ensure an out and out Obama victory in the popular vote. 

As was pointed out here yesterday, these are just snapshots of opinion. This popular vote is not how this election will be played out. 

Many are issuing warnings about the exit polls, those supposedly secret polls, skewed to the Democrat's advantage and readily leaked. 

Bill McInturff, has issued a McCain campaign memo on reading the exit polls. He says they should be treated with a pinch of salt. These exit polls do, however, fix the news agenda for the TV networks.

If you must take note of the exit polls, swing over to Drudge. He has the ear of the Republican Party, so if he links to anything positive about Obama from any leaked exit poll - it must be true!

All that matters is the electoral college votes in the individual States and the magic 270. Obamakins and McCainites should keep an eye on the 'call' from one of the networks for the president-elect. 

For election junkies, AP points out the first clues will come early, in Georgia, Indiana and Virginia. If Obama wins any of these three, he's on his way to a possible landslide. A clean sweep for McCain and he's the comeback kid. 

If any one of these three are just too close to call quickly, then it's a long night ahead and down to the wire.

Because of the time zones, a candidate can reach the magic 270 electoral college votes before all the polls have closed. 

There's a tremendous temptation by media networks  to make that call once it hits anywhere near 270. And one of them will try to be first. Then it's all over bar the shouting, legal wrangles and a long haul to January. 

Yesterday the Orange Party threw in its one cents worth with a warning to hang onto your seats as this was going to be a roller coaster of a ride. Obama is media favourite but McCain could win. That prediction still stands.


Boris's Jolly Olympic Gardening Jape

An Olympic scheme to turn the capital's wasteland into vegetable plots has been backed by Mayor Boris Johnson. But will this turn out to be a jolly jape with locals pushed out? Perhaps he should visit Cuba and Havana to see how it is really done and why. Or is that a tad too Red Ken for Boris's taste.

Londoners will be encouraged to turn derelict land into mini-allotments as part of a scheme to grow food on 2012 vegetable plots across the capital by 2012. The Capital Growth project is the brainchild of Rosie Boycott, chair of London Food. 

The Orange Party is sure both Boris and Rosie's hearts are in the right place. But we'll have to wait and see how many of these schemes actually get of the ground and how many will be run by locals rather than Monty Don wannabes. 

And why stop in London. Isn't this Olympics supposed to benefit the whole country? 

We used to have these plots here. They were called allotments. Now they are being gobbled up by greedy councils and developers. Anyone who fancies a potter has to wait years. In London apparently it's ten years. 

In Cuba, city-dwellers didn't have a choice. It was either find a plot of land or starve.

After going on for more than 20 years, Cuba now has more than 7,000 urban allotments or 'organoponicos', adding up to thousands of acres. 

More than 200 gardens in Havana alone grow more than 90 per cent of the city's fruit and veg.

Take a stroll through downtown Havana and they are everywhere. On tiny plots in the centre of estates (see picture above) and between houses. And with a chemical blockade, it's all organic. 

The danger with the London scheme is that it could turn into the latest lifestyle fad for the liberal elite. And true locals will be pushed out. Safeguards need to be put in place to make sure real people benefit.

There is a wider issue here. To encourage folk here to grown their own food on anything like a large scale takes a huge change in the mindset - and a willing labour force. 

Fat chance of that with a government happy to import cheap migrant slave labour to prop up the intensive agricultural industry. Or allow food to be grown in forced labour camps abroad to be flown thousands of miles to allow supermarkets to boast cheap food and farmers to grow biofuels.

Come the revolution we'll all be able to tend our plants while sipping a mojito. That's the good life. But over here, that isn't the real world.


Monday, November 03, 2008

Hold On Tight, McCain Could Just Win

Hold onto your seats. This could be a roller coaster of a ride. The fat lady hasn't even cleared her throat ready to sing, yet the media and opinion polls have all called it for Obama. But they don't count for zit. The media isn't electing a president nor are the opinion polls, American voters are. And the race is tightening by the day.  

Take away the media bias and opinion polls and the odds suddenly start to stack more in McCain's favour. 

Opinion polls, even the RCP average, are a snapshot of opinion of a very small sample. They are not voter intentions set in stone. 

There are just too many balls up in the air. Race, religion, the Bradley factor, the Florida factor, Obama's lack of experience and background. How can a snapsho opinion poll mean anything? If you want a prediction, a horoscope is far more entertaining.

Even taking opinion polls on face value, Obama needs a consistent double digit lead throughout the RCP average in order to win. The predicted landslide doesn't stack up.

Today, the Republican favoured and in the past accurate IBD/TIPP daily tracking poll shows McCain on 44.6%, Obama 46.7% with 8.7% undecided. Independents are shifting from Obama to McCain, who's making inroads in the midwest.

Obama hasn't shifted much in the polls since the summer. McCain's numbers have gone up and down like a yo-yo. 

And then there's Hillary, with her huge PUMA support base. A large number of Hillary's gals and guys may tactically vote McCain. Clinton's shot at the presidency in 2012 needs a McCain win. These Democrats, who have never forgiven Obama, are strung across the States and statistically their votes could swing it.

There's a huge mass of undecided voters too. They will decide only on the day they actually vote. 

They have been targeted by the hornet's nest of Obama's background and associations, summed up today by Stanley Kurtz of NRO

No matter who or what you believe, mud sticks. And there's an awful lot of mud flying around. All part of the McCain strategy to drip-feed Obama's experience, background and credibility to sway those undecided.

Former Sunday Times editor, Harold Evans, delivered a damning indictment of the blatant media bias towards Obama. American folk are no fools either. The media may think and hope they have the result in the bag. They are not the same as the regular American voter. 

Then there are the battleground States, where the election is actually decided. Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida. All in Obama's bag. Now all tightening. 

Even tracking polls are putting McCain and Obama tied among independent voters. A week ago, Obama was leading.

Much has been said of the youth vote who have turned out in their thousands as Obama cheerleaders. In Florida, where 3.4 million people have already voted, only 15 per cent of them were under age 35.

The media has rightly focussed on the huge and highly successful Obama effort to actually get voters to turn out to vote. But they have ignored the almost legendary Republican effort. 

While it would be naïve to discount race, this is much more a cause for the media than voters. Regular Americans don't give a stuff about the race of their president. It is only a serious issue among a few voters in a very few States.

Many naively compare the US election to a UK general election. They are two quite different beasts. 

In the US, voters vote for a president-elect. There could easily be a Al Gore moment. Even if Obama 'wins' the popular vote, he could still lose the state by state electoral vote, the magic 270, and with it the presidency. The president isn't sworn into office until January. That's a long time in politics. And that's why Hillary is playing it cool. 

Voters vote for a president and vice-president on the same ticket. The VP's sole job is to be on standby and fill a dead man's shoes. 

Voters have to decide, whoever is president, do they want Biden or Palin as president-in-waiting. And that makes for a whole different ball game.

Each US voter jealously guards their citizenship and is intensely patriotic. Voting for McCain or Obama boils down to a straight choice. Who will make the strongest commander-in chief and who will have the most trusty hand on the economic tiller. 

And that could boil down to an equally straight choice between an experienced politician, not tarred with the Bush brush, over a smooth talking guy with hopes and dreams and a slick Chicago marketing machine behind him.

The media has completely underestimated McCain and got totally carried away with Obama. That maybe their downfall. But then journalists, like opinion polls can always get it wrong.