Saturday, February 14, 2009

Obama's Pork Pie In The Sky Package

Obama's $789 billion pork and pie in the sky dream rushed through Congress is being sold as an 'economic stimulus' when it is a spending bill which will saddle US taxpayers with massive debt for years to come. As Democrats embark on a huge spending spree for their pet projects, the measures have been slammed as a monumental waste of public cash. Now where have we heard that before? 

The package has been wrapped up in pretty pink ribbon and sold to the American people like soap powder, as the new president pushed through the spending spree with evangelical zeal. 

But disturbingly, there's no bi-partisan support, with Republicans and a handful of Democrats voting against it. As usual the devil is in the detail. 

The 1,071 page, 8-inch-thick stimulus/spending Bill has a welcome $281 billion in tax cuts but that's peanuts. More than a half-trillion dollars is earmarked for government spending on infrastructure, health care bureaucracy and state governments. 

At the heart is whether these measures will dig the US out of deep recession, create jobs and expand the economy. Some think it's garbage.

Borrowing from Winston Churchill, one Republican remarked: "Never have so few spent so much so quickly to do so little."

As the package did its rounds, the wording of the spinners on jobs carefully changed. Now it's 3.5 million jobs "that we look forward to saving or creating." 

The entire mess will eventually cost not $789 billion but $3.27 trillion when $744 billion in debt service and $2.5 trillion in spending over the next 10 years is included. And that will cost every US family almost $10,000 in added debt. 

The monster is full of pork-barrel politics.

$2 billion to Obama's favourite "community" group ACORN, that's accused of voter registration fraud, $30 million to Nancy Pelosi's pet project to restore wetlands and save the endangered salt marsh harvest mouse, another $1 billion for a Prevention and Wellness Fund.

Tens of billions will be spent on high-speed rail lines but only in key politically sensitive areas. And vote-catching broadband for everyone in rural areas

Take away the pork and the dollars left over for small-business tax relief amount to only "about one-third of 1% of the total bill," a mere $3 billion out of a $789 billion package. There are no tax cuts to boost investment.

The bulk of the spending comes not right away when the economy needs a boost, but in the dim and distant future. 

Japan, spent $6.3 trillion on infrastructure in the 1990s and racked up the biggest debt in the developed world. Yet all that spending failed to pull Japan out of its slump.

Sure as eggs is eggs, Obama will have to return to the trough, demanding more taxpayer cash. 

But the Obama administration is betting the relative small amount combining tax cuts with spending on unemployment assistance, social security and the Medicaid health program will stop the economy's spiralling decline. Sure that makes people feel better, but it won't boost the economy. 

Schools would receive $70 billion to prevent cutbacks and repair crumbling schools. There's about $50 billion for energy efficiency programs and renewable energy. It's all starting to sound eerily familiar. 

Many have already pointed out a whole raft of of questionable spending, including a massive Federal health care computer system - modelled on our own disastrous £12.7 billion NHS computer shambles - only bigger. 

Speaking for the first time since his presidential defeat, Republican John McCain said: "This measure contains much that is not stimulative and is nothing short—nothing short—of generational theft since it burdens future generations with so much debt."

Why should anyone care about a reckless spending spree across the Pond which will plunge the nation deeper in debt? Because that's exactly what Brown and his hapless chancellor are planning over here, as they face up to disaster in the June elections. 


Friday, February 13, 2009

A Kosher Reason For Backing Jews

Struggling with the vexed question of why an old liberal Leftie should feel so Jewish all of a sudden, the Orange Party is not alone in trying to unravel the mystery. The answer comes from another liberal Leftie, author Nick Cohen, who's delivered scorching polemics on the mixed-up values of the old Left. Cohen puts his finger on it: "The more the British Left indulges antisemitism, the more kosher I feel."

Cohen's article for the Jewish Chronicle begins in a jocular vein: 
My name is Nick Cohen, and I think I’m turning into a Jew. Despite being called “Cohen”, I’ve never been Jewish before.
But where he's coming from chimes with some on the so-called liberal left: 
My sole interest in Jewish concerns came from being a left-wing opponent of the far Right, and the blood-soaked antisemitic superstitions which turned Europe into a graveyard. When I was young, such attitudes seemed unproblematic. You did not have to be a Jew to oppose fascism; everyone I knew did that regardless of colour or creed.
And that leads into a powerful and forceful argument: 
Today the old certainties have gone because there are two far-right movements: the white neo-Nazi parties that the Left still opposes; and the clerical fascists of radical Islam which, extraordinarily, the modern Left succours and indulges. I am not only talking about Ken Livingstone, George Galloway and their gruesome accomplices in the intelligentsia. Wider liberal society is almost as complicit. It does not applaud the Islamist far Right, but it will not condemn it either. From the broadcasters, through the liberal press, the Civil Service, the Metropolitan Police, the bench of bishops and the judiciary, antisemitism is no longer an unthinkable mental deformation. As long as the conspiracy theories of the counter-enlightenment come from ideologues with dark rather than white skins, nominally liberal men and women will not speak out.
For Cohen, the experiences of left-wing antisemitism and in particular the BBC's Gaza bias has changed the way he thinks and there is no retreat: 
As the struggle between theocracy and liberalism intensifies, I can see some being pushed into taking the same journey I have taken and finding their views towards Judaism and Israel softening as they realise that antisemitism helps drive the fascistic ideologies of the 21st century just as it drove the Nazism of the 20th.
Politicians keen on pseudo-liberal posturing should take note of that breath of fresh air. Give the boy a kosher sandwich.

Nick Cohen is the author of What's Left: How The Left Lost Its Way.


Join Cuba's Free IT Revolution

Saving cash and breaking Microsoft's stranglehold are not government priorities but it could take a leaf out of Cuba's book, as the country gets to grips with the IT revolution, with plans to run computers on Gates-free, free software. 

In what smacks of a fresh salvo in a new Cold War, the island is following Russia's lead and moving away from Microsoft operating systems with its own take on the free, open source Linux-based system.

Here the government is paying lip-service to open source, vowing to boost its uptake in public services to reduce costs but with little evidence of action. A government 'action plan' is due to be published later this month.

The government's love affair with hugely expensive and utterly useless government IT projects is now beyond a joke, as gullible ministers continue to be taken in by the flannel of slick salesman, who promise the earth and deliver nothing. 

Today the biggest white elephant and biggest IT disaster, the £12.7 billion NHS computer shambles took a further knock, with one hospital trust claiming it's been forced to pump in £10m to prop up the useless system, causing the now all too familiar "heartache and hard work"

As the NHS's Connecting for Health (CfH) computer system, dogged by problems and more than five years behind schedule, comes crashing down around the government's ears, beavering away in the background is the dominance of Microsoft in government departments and public bodies particularly schools, in return for a whopping licensing fee. 

Microsoft has a clear marketing aim to put its software in every computer in the world and who can blame them? But just because Bill Gates is big buddies with government doesn't mean ministers have to roll over and write a blank cheque with taxpayers cash. 

Computer sales to the public in Cuba only began only last year and the move is all part of a plan for "technological sovereignty".

The country this week launched its own variant of the Linux operating system in the latest fight against what it views as US hegemony.

According to Hector Rodriguez, dean of the School of Free Software at Cuba's University of Information Sciences, about 20 per cent of computers in Cuba, are currently using Linux. 

"I would like to think that in five years our country will have more than 50 per cent migrated to Linux," he said.

In Cuba it makes sense. The long-standing US trade embargo against the communist island makes it difficult for Cubans to get Microsoft software legally, as Castro's kid brother Raul tries to bring the country into the 20th century. 

But the movement towards free, open source operating systems and software has dedicated supporters throughout the world. 

Moving away from Microsoft is not pie in the sky. It's happening already in the new breed of Netbooks now on sale in the High Street. It makes sound economic sense as any issues over compatibility can be easily fixed. 

Rodriguez said free software better suits Cuba's world view: "The free software movement is closer to the ideology of the Cuban people, above all for the independence and sovereignty."

Now that's a tad controversial coming from a left-wing dictatorship but anything that's free and puts the brakes on Microsoft's plans for world domination is worth a serious look. 

Hasta La Victoria Siempre. 


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Stats Office Squares Up To Spinners

While it wasn't only the sea bass being grilled in the commons, served with lashings of Brown sauce, the row brewing at Westminster is how that reckless lot at the ONS had the cheek to publish clear, accurate and relevant jobs and immigrant figures, without letting Downing Street spinners get their grubby little paws on the press release. 

Yesterday's ONS release has left ministers "fizzing with anger" about the publication of numbers showing how many UK jobs go to immigrants.

The figures show the number of foreign workers increased by 175,000 to 2.4 million last year while the number of British workers fell by 234,000 to 27 million. Not good news for ministers still smarting from the BJ4BW protest. 

Such a release would have been unthinkable during the Campbell/Blair years and indeed up until very recently. But that was before home secretary Smith's political advisor was slammed by a commons watchdog after ordering the release of misleading knife crime figures

Then ministers and Downing Street spinners were blasted for 'corroding public trust'  using 'selective' figures to claim they are winning the war on the streets as ONS officials tried in vain to stop the government's 'reckless' release. 

The ONS is desperate to prove its independence and restore public confidence but juggling with any figures within a tight and highly skewed criteria set by the government has made a complete mockery of any government statistics, which no-one believes anymore, anyway. But well done guys for trying. 

Playing the numbers game has been a low point of the powerful Downing Street spin machine with obsessive control over what, where and when any information is released. 

Now it seems the spinning top had no idea what is coming out of the Office of National Statistics, as it fearlessly goes its own way. 

As usual, Mike Smithson over at politicalbetting puts his finger on the issue: "Isn’t this also a measure of the decline of Labour’s power? Whitehall has a strong sense that the game is up and bodies like the UK Statistics Authority can launch moves without fear."


Wilders Ban Reeks Of Double Standards

Government double speak and double standards have been laid bare as the home office caved in to pseudo liberal pressure and banned a Dutch MP who has voiced his opposition to an “Islamic invasion”. His far right views are distasteful to some but the ban reveals a sinister trend to suppress a once cherished freedom of speech.

Geert Wilders, leader of the Dutch right-wing Freedom Party had been invited to show a film called 'Fitna' at the House of Lords. That was until home secretary, Jacqui Smith, stepped in and banned him from entering the country. 

But the film - easily viewed on YouTube - does not incite violence and does not break any laws, nor does the home office suggested that it does.

The Orange Party condemns religious zealots who preach hateful racial bigotry, particularly when they hide behind the mask of religion to ram political ideologies down our throats. Wilders' views are loony right but he should be free to express an opinion. 

As the Times thunders in an eloquent leader today: "There is almost nothing on which Mr Wilders cannot be relied upon to be inflammatory, ill advised and illiberal, and this is precisely why the Home Secretary is wrong to deny him entry. Mr Wilders is an elected politician in a member state of the European Union. Freedom of speech, association and travel is part of the political culture of Europe." 

Wilders opposes what he terms “Islamic invasion” and demands the US and EU “stop appeasing Islam and start fighting together against the rapidly increasing Islamisation of Europe”.

Smith is doing no-one not least decent Muslims any favours. The half-baked decision reeks of double standards, when the UK denies a politician access to the country, just because someone doesn't like what he says. 

Let the man in. It is better to blow apart his arguments rather than just forcing him to shut up.

Holding up to ridicule the vices and virtues of society is essential in a tolerant liberal democracy and that has always included the right to oppose, mock and insult people's beliefs, as long as that doesn't overstep a clearly defined legal and moral mark set by the prevailing cultural mood of the day. 

But it seems the last thing the home office wanted was a confrontation between Wilders and some British Muslims. 

Wilders has never broken the law or threatened anyone with violence, yet the government has stood by while a number of extreme imams have been allowed to preach hatred. 

And it doesn't stop at turning a blind eye to extreme Islamists who openly incite murder and the destruction of Jews. Lesbian and gay people have been targets, as people have been allowed in to say whatever they want. On that criteria alone the decision doesn't make sense. 

All kinds of undesirables seem to be welcome, while this Dutch MP, who does not preach violence, is told that he can’t come here and that reeks of double standards. 

The actions of the home secretary only fuels the belief the government is quite happy to tolerate fanatics but not a misguided Wilders. 

And that decision highlights a fundamental and disturbing trend, when pseudo liberal views are allowed to corrupt a democracy's cherished values. 

UPDATE: Wilders, defied the ban and flew into Heathrow this afternoon where he's been held by home office immigration officials.


Schools Refit Shambles Exposes PFI Sham

One of the greediest of Brown's economic policies, the PFI sham, is starting to eat itself, as a damning report on the government's over ambitious plan to refit every secondary school reveals it is up to £10 billion over budget and almost two years behind schedule. 

The schools scheme shambles exposes a shameful legacy of the New Labour years, as the discredited PFI scheme, used to help create the con of the boom years, comes back to haunt them.

The government's shambolic handling of its project to refurbish or rebuild every secondary school in England means it will now cost the taxpayer £10 billion more than planned. 

Figures for the school refit programme are staggering. According to the spending watchdog, the estimated cost of the BSF programme to rebuild or refurbish 3,500 secondaries in England by 2020 will be up to £55 billion - a 23% increase, £10 billion more than was estimated at the outset.

The government's flagship £45 billion school building programme was hailed as a cornerstone of the Blair years but even back in 2006 it was hit by delays, with Blair's delivery unit forced to  step in to get the BSF project back on course as the government continued its obsession with buildings of all style and no substance.

Ministers originally said that 200 schools would be open by December last year but by the end of last year - five years into the schools programme - just 42 schools had been built, instead of the 200 planned, according to the National Audit Office (NAO) report. 

The PFI and PPP schemes are one of the most shameful legacies of the New Labour years. 

Introduced by the Tories with strict warnings and controls, they were pounced upon by New Labour and expanded with almost religious zeal as a neat way of keeping public building works off the public balance sheet, as part of the boom con.

Cost calculations were fiddled with spurious weighting to always make the PFI scheme come out cheaper. 

But as the economic gloom of the recession sounds the death knell for the whole PFI fiddle, taxpayers  are set to be saddled with a new debt burden. 

Banks stopped providing funding for the schools in October as the recession set in and the government has sought emergency funds from the European Investment Bank to finance some buildings. 

Urgently need investment with still have to go through the fiendishly complex maze of the "building schools for the future" process but with investment now drying up, the only way to raise private cash is for government - and that means the taxpayer - to guarantee the bankers money. 

So the chancellor is set to burden the taxpayers with more off-balance sheet debt by guaranteeing bridging finance for PFI schemes, pretending it's all part of a soon to be announced multibillion-pound rescue package of building works, involving schools, hospitals and motorways.

It was always the idea that PFI meant the private sector should shoulder the risk. Now PFI deals at PFI rates means it's the taxpayer who takes the risk. 

The answer is simple. Just use public borrowing for public investment, it's quicker and cheaper. But the government is caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. The politically flattering PFI used to great creative accounting effect for the past 12 years cannot be scrapped, as to do so would admit failure. 

Still it's nice work if you can get it. Despite the problems, executives at Partnerships for Schools (PfS), the government agency that oversees the programme, received 11%-18% bonuses for meeting targets last year. 

It's not just schools and taxpayers who suffer in the PFI con. Hospitals in particular have being hardest hit and saddled with massive debt which will take decades to pay off as patients and services suffer. 

Banks now own the PFI contracts but after the bank bail-out, it's the taxpayer who has bought large shares in the deals in a whole raft of PFI/PP projects, which range from schools and hospitals to prisons.

Some 54 schools are due to open this year and 121 next year, under the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme but to meet the unrealistic target that will need to be doubled in the run-up to 2020. And there's fat chance of that happening.

The report concludes: "Original expectations of how quickly schools could be built were overly optimistic. PfS will find it very challenging to include all 3,500 schools in BSF by 2020."

'Overly optimistic' is one way of putting it. A hugely expensive, arrogant and shameful deceit to fool voters into thinking they were getting big, shiny new schools on the cheap, is another. Small is beautiful and that should apply to schools too.

UPDATE: Brown told MPs today the treasury is about to bring forward proposals to accelerate the scheme with 100 schools in progress. Big, unwieldy new secondary schools, paid for with a PFI debt burden for decades, without getting the basic teaching and resources right,  goes against the grain and the mood of the country.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Erminegate-Good Day To Bury Bad News

With perfect timing, before Cameron was set to get his teeth into Brown over his favourite banker, the advisor suddenly quit, leaving Dave not as angry as he wanted to be. And, in all the rush, Yates of the Yard suddenly pops up to announce there'll be no police inquiry into Erminegate. Wednesday has never been so busy for spinners. 

The media and the Tory leader had the scent of blood as Brown's favourite banker was fingered for sacking a whistleblower, all set for a showdown in the commons. 

Brown's close ties with his own knighted economic advisor, Sir James Crosby, raised more than a few eyebrows, when former HBOS head of risk, Paul Moore revealed he was fired by Crosby, then the bank's CEO, after warning about the risky way the bank was heading. 

But today at PMQs, Cameron's chance to prove that he really is the true Mr Angry took a beating, when it was announced Brown's buddy had quit as deputy chairman of the useless Financial Services Authority, just minutes before Cameron could launch his attack. 

Coincidence or what? It certainly begs the question did Sir James jump or was he pushed to dig Brown out of a hole? 

Meanwhile the digging continues. A police investigation, headed by the Met's assistant commissioner, John Yates, into Erminegate and corruption in the highest of places has been scrapped.

With perfect timing and an eye on burying the news, it was announced police will not investigate allegations against New Labour peers accused of being willing to change laws in exchange for cash.

The LibDems referred the matter to police after the Sunday Times blew the gaff on the 'cash for laws' scandal with their sights on the 'untouchable' Lords and New Labour's cronies.

The Met claims the decision not to proceed was taken "after considering the prospects for obtaining evidence and whether an inquiry constituted the best use of police resources." 

Erminegate rocks the foundations of democracy with greed and abuses of power. No matter how much Downing Street and the CPS try to bury it, the stench of corruption still fills the air.


Only A Disguise Will Stop Public Ridicule

Two million on the dole, a home secretary fiddling expenses, Brown sucking up to City pals refusing to budge on bonuses while his favourite banker is fingered for sacking a whistleblower, the country in deep recession. Who'd want to be seen as a New Labour MP? 

Public anger over bankers, jobs and the government's economic mess is turning to ridicule but ministers still bury their heads in the sand.

Today Bank of England governor, Mervyn King, told voters what they can see and feel all around them -  the UK is facing a deep recession. It's a sorry state of affairs but unlike the greedy bankers, no-one in government has the guts to say sorry.

Blair's ex-deputy, John Prescott's on-line battle of the bonuses may be capturing the mood of the nation but more importantly it's reflecting the anger and frustration of backbench Labour MPs. 

Brown needs to get a grip and stop the dithering. Just say what everyone wants to hear - bonuses must be scrapped when the taxpayer is a shareholder in any bank. 

He won't because he can't. The whole New Labour project was based on the fundamental flaw of sucking up to the City to keep them sweet and the government in power. 

Labour's born-again working-class hero, Prescott, was happy to go along for the ride if that meant power and glory. Those days are long gone. Now voters are deserting in droves and Tories and LibDems can outflank the government when the public's on their side. 

The sorry sight of the former bankers' mumbled and staged outburst of remorse before the commons treasury committee left voters cold. 

The Orange Party dozed off watching a pointless and carefully managed PR charade unfold but woke when the finger pointed at Brown, as three of the four guilty men lorded it up with their Ks and Ps on full view - all thanks to their government pals. Failure now brought ample rewards in the past. 

But it's Brown's close ties with his knighted economic advisor, Sir James Crosby, which struck at the heart of the problem, when former HBOS head of risk, Paul Moore revealed he was fired by Crosby, then the bank's CEO, after repeatedly warning about the bleedin' obvious. 

On top of all that unemployment is at a monumental high since New Labour grabbed power and two homes Smith is praying her homes scam will go away before it blows the lid off government sleaze and corruption. 

Today at PMQs Cameron has a chance on so many fronts to prove that he really is the true Mr Angry and Brown's reported "anger" is just part of the Downing Street spin. 

So what can New Labour MPs do? Backbench MP, Frank Field, has an answer: "This anger is likely to be such that the only way that Labour MPs will be able to go out in public will be in heavy disguise - such will be the public ridicule."

UPDATE 11.46am: Brown's buddy, Sir James Crosby, has quit as deputy chairman of the useless Financial Services Authority, just minutes before Cameron could get really angry, during PMQs. Did he jump or was he pushed?


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Bankers Say Sorry So What's The Big Deal?

They came, they got grilled, they mumbled the S-word through clenched teeth, in a pointless PR exercise in double standards, wallowing in self-pity and remorse. Greedy bankers have been exposed as a bunch of greedy bankers. It's all a bit too little to late.  

The BBC's Common Purpose business guru, Robert Peston and political pundit, Nick Robinson, are both on hand to explain it all to the nation. The media and politicians are having a field day, forcing the former bankers onto their knees in a day of shame.

Sure it's good to watch the bankers get a roasting, though it's a pity Vince Cable's guillotine was meant as a joke.  

Former RBS bosses Sir Fred Goodwin and Sir Tom McKillop, closely followed by Andy Hornby and Lord Stevenson of HBOS - all bar one rewarded with a K or a P thanks to their pals in government. 

Now it seems all quite happy to face the music, as the banks play musical chairs while the country slides into a deep downturn, recession,  depression depending on who you want to believe.

It seems the government is taking its own blame culture just a tad too far, treating the ex-bankers like naughty children. Shame on you, a slap on the wrists, say your sorry. That's it. After a spell on the naughty step, off they sail into the wild blue yonder with their fancy titles and a wad of pocket money. 

How they must be laughing all the way to their banks. A quick apology to Parliament and a lesson in damage limitation for the next time someone screws up big time. 

It all must serve a purpose, apart from watching them squirm but the Orange Party cannot think what. Everyone knows the lessons to be learnt. It's called greed. 

The charade is certainly not for ordinary folk who're scared stiff about losing their jobs and making ends meet while the debt-fuelled boom takes its toll on every aspect of their lives. 

Meanwhile two homes secretary, Jacqui Smith, is doing the rounds of the media, wriggling around her homes scam using the pathetic excuse that she's done nothing wrong and was only following the rules. Isn't that just the same old corrupt excuse the bankers have been making? 

And back in the other big boy's world, Brown is trying to upstage Cameron as the new Mr Angry. Cameron is blaming borrowing Brown for the economic mess and quite right too but the Tories were not exactly shouting warning from the rooftops during those bloomin' booming years. 

Now if this was Brown and his bunch of economic morons who were being brought to book and made to apologise to the nation, people would sit up and take notice. 

But it's not. It's this month's Mr Nasties, the bankers, who're in the firing line. Not the home secretary, not the deluded prime minister, not the rest of the parliamentary elite who can hide behind the rules when it suits them and milk the system and bleed the nation for all it's worth.


Balls' Warning Was No Balls Up

His master's voice, Ed Balls, seems to have dropped the boss right in it. Brown's side-kick delivered another bout of depression for the beleaguered prime minister, warning the recession will be worse than the 1930s. But this was no balls up, this was carefully planned. 

Balls' speech to the Labour Party faithful didn't say anything new or anything which the Party and the public didn't know was happening already. But it's the timing which is important. A speech of this significance doesn't get off the blocks without Downing Street clearance.

Balls told Labour's Yorkshire conference at the weekend the financial crisis will be "more extreme and more serious than that of the 1930s". That follows last week's use of the dreaded D-word by Brown in the commons, when Downing Street was quick to play down this sad 'slip of the tongue'. 

It seems to be at odds with everything government ministers have been telling the public for months. 

Either they've been telling porkies or haven't a clue what's going on - or they're getting their act together for a fresh line of attack. 

Balls and Downing Street have again tried to play down the significance with some spinning gobbledegook about the unique nature of the global financial crisis. 

The Conservatives said the remarks were "staggering and very worrying". They certainly are - for them. 

Balls is only saying publicly what ministers have known for a long time but for their own political survival have tried to play it down with first a daft downturn then a recession.

The worry has been that it could spread panic and anxiety, sap confidence, point the finger at Brown's past economic mistakes and turn away voters in their droves. 

But the public are no fools and can see what is happening all around them. The effect for Brown in particular has been to lose all credibility. 

The slide towards a US-style Great Depression has been anticipated by some political and economic commentators for a while. The Orange Party too warned of it here in January. 

The government tried it on with the spin over green shoots of recovery and fell flat on its face. 

The Brown bounce has evaporated and the government's whole economic record is on the line. 

As the Tory lead strengthens and an elections looms, Balls is reflecting a change in strategy to reposition themselves as the only Party to save the country from a scary deep Depression and a lurch to the Far Right, part of Brown's belated calls for a government of national unity - with New Labour of course at the helm. 

If you can't brow beat voters, confuse them. So expect more of this to-ing and fro-ing between green shoots of optimism and doom and gloom in the weeks to come as the government softens up voters for even tougher times ahead and their dreaded June elections. 


Monday, February 09, 2009

Lily-Livered Brown Dithers Over Bonuses

Lily-livered Brown has turned into a dithering Dad's Army character  over City bonuses. According to the BBC, he's really "very angry" about the whole thing. Well bully for Brown. What took him so long? Do catch up, the rest of the country has been spitting blood about this outrage for a long time. If Brown can't get his act together and do something about this now, the real Mr Angry is waiting in the wings.

The BBC headline whimpers to the nation: 'Prime Minister Gordon Brown is "very angry" about proposed bank bonuses and wants bankers to consider waiving their right to them, his spokesman has said.'

Is that the best the BBC and Downing Street can come up with when they put their heads together? 

It reminds the Orange Party of Sergeant Wilson in Dad's Army: "Excuse me, would you mind terribly not doing that sort of thing here .. it's awfully bad manners, there's a good chap." 

Mounting anger and disbelief over complete government inaction over the payment of bonuses to senior bank executives has left Brown and his band of ministers looking feeble and lily-livered. 

Brown is reportedly very angry but why doesn't he get off his bottom and do something? His hapless chancellor Darling has ordered a review into bank management led by ex-City regulator. That will take until the end of the year to complete and smacks of a cover-up to take the heat off the City old boys club. 

Meanwhile the downturn, recession, depression will just get a whole lot worse. And voters will be heartily sick of putting up with hardship while the fat cats get the cream.

The real Mr Angry, Conservative leader, David Cameron, said ministers were "asleep on the job". The LibDems have pitched in,  describing ministers' response to the bankers' bonuses as "pathetic".

That's certainly two ways to describe it. Taxpayers, who've stumped up £20 billion to watch the banks sail off into the wild blue yonder and trouser a £1 billion of that to pay out in bonuses, probably have a few choice words of their own.

The brutal fact is the government sat idly by and said and did nothing until now, as their pals in the City laughed all the way to their banks. 

It's almost as if Downing Street spinners have been watching US TV. Hey, that Obama guy's not very happy about this bonus thing. Maybe we should think about doing something about it over here? It's a sure fire vote winner. 

Meanwhile the two working class heroes and Hull MPs, Prescott and Johnson, have been waddling in with their two penneth, slamming City bonuses and trying to save their own political skins as their beloved working class turns against them.