Friday, August 28, 2009

Oh! What An Unlovely War

Government ministers and MoD spinners are fighting a losing battle for hearts and minds in the hopeless, unwinnable Afghan war. Today the Sun gives Brown his marching orders: Don't you know there's a bloody war on? The public deserves answers.

What a shameful, sorry state of affairs when a war has been reduced to death by numbers.

The death toll is solemnly read out on broadcast news. Coffins draped in the Union Flag cut to stock MoD footage of troops firing at an invisible enemy. Well-briefed army chiefs spout the latest propaganda line for the cameras. Has it really come down to this?

Opinion polls reveal a growing number wanting to pull out of Afghanistan and questioning what we are doing there at all. But the country is united on one crucial issue: if troops are being sent to the Afghan killing fields, they should be given all the support and back up that can be mustered for the dangerous mission.

The Sun has captured the mood. The Orange Party can feel it too when questions on the Afghan war are raised in polite conversation with some very unpolite replies. Timed for the day when Sir David Richards becomes chief of the general staff and Brown holds talks with the Pakistan president, the Sun calls for the PM's head:
"Don't you know there's a bloody war on? Yet, to its shame, our Government doesn't seem to want to face up to the fact we are in the middle of a savage conflict.
"Our leaders are pretending the war isn't happening. Today, The Sun asks the Government and Gordon Brown: Where is your leadership?
"As the hearses carrying our heroes are saluted in silent Wiltshire streets, Mr Brown and his ministers are missing in action.
"There is an air of unreality in the country. While Our Boys are dying, a fool who is out of his depth and with little experience is in charge of defence."
The latest lame excuse was to make it safe for the recent sham of the Afghan elections. But excuses for Panther's Claw were as low and underhand as the turnout. The public was duped with manipulated and media-managed messages that the operation would free the Afghan people to go to the polls.

Anyone who thinks there can be "fair and free" elections where tribal loyalties rule the roost with a corrupt government is living in fools paradise.

Ten UK soldiers died to give just 150 people a fraudulent vote. Was that a price worth paying to prop up a corrupt government?

To its credit, the BBC was among the first to report the shocking truth, highlighting three towns in Helmand with populations of tens of thousands - and a mere handful of votes. But that stark statistic was dutifully buried in the bulletin.

That's to be expected. In times of war, powerful forces are at work at the BBC which has an unwritten duty as the State broadcaster to fuel the propaganda war.

This is Brown's War and Brown's legacy. It's no good him hiding his head in the sand, hoping it will all go away over or sitting back letting some other fool take the flak. Any war requires strong leadership from a commander-in-chief.

The Orange Party has long campaigned against this bloody, hopeless, unwinnable war. We should pull out now before it's too late.

But that doesn't mean sitting idly by while our troops are sent to their deaths. Behind the MoD minders and media managers our troops haven't a clue why they are there. But they'll do their job and do it bloody well, whether they are set to come home to a heroes welcome at a parade or in a box.

War transcends political party divides. In the US, Drudge, no friend of the pseudo-liberals, features the Sun's painful lament on his front page. Tory MP John Redwood blogs: "what is the purpose of our mission, how long will our troops need to be there, and when will the Afghan security forces be in a position to police their own streets successfully? We need some answers."

Last week the Orange Party asked: What are we fighting for? And is still waiting for coherent answers. Oh! What An Unlovely War.

Top picture: Private Eye front cover


Thursday, August 27, 2009

GCSE Numbers Game Fails Pupils

Pupils are paying the price as pawns in a GCSE numbers game to prop up a government charade. The muddled exams mess has become a measure of failed New Labour performance which is failing children.

When a government department is put under the microscope, spin and manipulation are not far behind.

The government's obsession with GCSE exams is an inflatable joke. They've let the schools down, they've let the pupils down and they've let themselves down. New Labour has failed to deliver on its education promise, according to a Newsnight poll.

Deprived and disadvantaged youngsters in bog standard comps bear the brunt of a government playing politics with education instead of fixing the problems of their own making.

The current GCSE sham should be abolished. Only key subjects of maths and English are needed for entry into some professions. The rest are a mass of inappropriate and dumbed-down meaningless "studies" which are a yardstick for nothing.

A GCSE does what it says on the tin - a general certificate of secondary education. Nothing too taxing, but enough to show that youngsters spent some time at school. GCSE's certainly don't stretch bright pupils. It's difficult to know how the kids keep motivated and keep going.

GCSEs have become a shabby judge with schools reduced to entering pupils for soft option and pointless vocational subjects to boost results and school performance. Obsession with league tables produce record GCSE results, to stave off closure and meet unrealistic targets.

Schools are playing the system, as the government tries to switch "failing" schools to its discredited costly PFI academies sham, handing control over to big business backers and government sympathisers.

The government, with its school secretary, Ed "get me out of here" Balls, cannot keep up the charade for much longer. Today's shocking figures reveal the true extent of a decade of New Labour's failure.

The government record is appalling. Figures released by LibDems reveal after a decade of drivel, the number of 16-year-olds leaving school without even achieving the basic standard of five good GCSEs is expected to top 3 million.

Young people are churned out of a crammed classroom which has no room or time in the over-packed exam-obsessed curriculum to develop their skills and talents.

In the topsy turvy world obsessed with making everyone 'equal', failure is rewarded with a pat on the back and a clutch of worthless pieces of paper.

Rewards for failure does no one any favours. Far from creating a classless society, a decade of New Labour has widened the gap between the haves and have-nots. Class divisions are most noticeable in classrooms.

GCSEs have produced a class-ridden two tier system as independent schools come up with their own solution. More independent schools are switching to the harder iGCSEs this year to stretch pupils. The most able are leapfrogging GCSEs and taking AS levels a year early instead.

That comes at a price. Private schools are financially propped up by taxpayers with the sham of charitable status. State schools are left to muddle along with a discredited Mickey Mouse exam system to make them look good.

State schools, with all eggs in the exams basket, cannot compete on a level playing field. What's fair and equal about that?

The stakes are high. Exam boards compete for candidates. The more they dumb down, the more candidates and entry fees, they get. Schools face being stripped of funding and placed under the control of New Labour sympathisers as part of the 're-education' process.

Meanwhile, the government continues to massage the GCSE figures by introducing course-work modules and more retake opportunities for students, treating academic and vocational qualifications as if they are identical.

Today's artificial 'record' GCSE results come hard on the heels of last week's artificial 'record' A-level results. Both spun in a desperate attempt to prop up a decade of failed government education policies.

The legacy is a lost generation of youngsters branded failures with no future.


Hospitals' Dirty Secrets Uncovered

The dirty underbelly lurking beneath New Labour's shiny new temples to the NHS has been laid bare in a shocking indictment of patient care riddled with Third World filth and neglect.

The NHS may well be "world-class" when it comes to treatment but when it comes to standards of care, it's down there with the dross.

An urgent review of basic hospital care is being demanded by a leading patient lobby group after a major report exposed "appalling" NHS standards.

Relatives told the Patients Association how patients, often the elderly, were left lying in faeces and urine and were not helped to eat.

The horrifying report focused on 16 harrowing accounts of basic nursing and domiciliary care which the association says are just a tip of the iceberg. 2% of patients surveyed felt that their care was unacceptable.

Government-blessed nursing bosses and quango kids were quick on the defensive, arguing the NHS treats millions of people every day and the vast majority of patients experience "good quality, safe and effective care".

Never mind the vast majority - what about the silent minority? The proportions still represent hundreds of thousands of patients. Even two per cent is too many.

The hospital standards watchdog reckons its surveys show just 93% of patients rate their overall care as 'good or excellent'. So that means 7% are not happy with the service.

Every patient deserved to be treated with dignity. But relatives told of problems getting help from nurses and how patients were left with sandwiches or drinks in packaging which they could not open.

Treatment at the hands of some nurses was tantamount to cruelty.

Grave lapses in standards of care were highlighted earlier this year at the Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust which families described as "Third World" conditions, with some patients drinking water from vases and lying for hours in soiled bedding.

That kind of appalling treatment could be found across the NHS.

The group's president, ex-nurse Claire Rayner, called for "bad, cruel nurses" to be struck off. Fat chance.

Using the tired old excuse, nursing bureaucrats have repeated the bullsh*t mantra that the report may undermine public confidence in the "world-class" (sic) care and dampen staff morale.

The Orange Party is sure where the blame lies and it is not at the feet of the nursing profession.

Hospitals are bogged down with a management structure obsessed with targets and obsessed with making ends meet to pay for the legacy of a PFI build.

Something has to give and that's patient care, cleaning and the basic standard of care one would expect from the NHS.

Politicians were quick to fall over themselves professing their undying love for the dear old NHS as it was dragged into the US healthcare civil war. At a stroke that stifled the need for a proper debate over the future of the NHS and health care. The NHS has lost its way.

Once a byword for "free" medical care for all at the point of delivery, billions of pounds are now squandered on useless PR health puffs. Cash which should be going into patent care is being used to prop up and massage the egos of government ministers and quango cronies playing politics with the NHS and people's lives.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Mandy's After Dinner U-Turn On Pirates

Naughty nautical Mandy is at it again, threatening to cut off movie pirates in their prime. Who was he lording it up with while running the country and sunning himself in Corfu? Step forward US Hollywood mogul David Geffen. There's no business like a bit of showbiz business.

Revelations in the Sunday Times that Mandy ordered officials to draw up draconian regulations on internet piracy just days after he had a private dinner with a Hollywood mogul who is a critic of illegal file-sharing, brought howls of denial.

And a sharp intake of breath after reading such a long sentence.

There had been no discussion of internet piracy during the Corfu dinner, said a spinner.

But an ever reliable Whitehall source was quick to put the boot in: “Until the past week Mandelson had shown little personal interest in the Digital Britain agenda. Suddenly Peter returned from holiday and effectively issued this edict that the regulation needs to be tougher.”

The Times smells a rat with Mandy's U-turn a sign of caving into lobbyists.

What is it with the unelected and unaccountable deputy prime minister-in-all-but-name and his summer jaunts with the rich kids?

Everything Mandy touches ends up mired in a dodgy mess. What with Gaddafi the Younger and that Russian billionaire bloke, the fall-out is popping up all over the place. His hols should be banned as a political public health hazard.

It's all a remarkable coincidence. Mandy’s intervention comes after dinner with Geffen, the billionaire producer who co-founded the DreamWorks studio with Steven Spielberg.

The chance to cut a few deals with guests of the super-rich members of the Rothschild banking clan at the family’s luxury Corfu holiday villa was too good to miss.

Until the Mandelson edict, the most serious sanction planned against internet pirates was a tickle on the torrents. Now the clampdown, in a so-called Digital Britain bill, could see people who illegally download films and music cut off from the net with regulator Ofcom given greater powers to tackle pirates. ISPs are up in arms.

Cryptically the BBC reports: "It is believed that Business Secretary Lord Mandelson has intervened personally to beef up the policy." Well shiver me Long John Silvers.

That's what happens when you leave an unelected peer with a BlackBerry in charge. Old Blairite habits die hard.

Wasn't it Blair who rushed back from a freebie holiday with Sir Cliff, the Peter Pan of Pop Song Royalties, to bang on about extending the royalty time-limit at a Cabinet which should have been discussing high affairs of state?

Will the download crack-down make it to the statute books? Many back-benchers believe anything that has the mark of Mandy has the kiss of death.

The Orange Party doesn't know what all the fuss is about. All that fiddling about with CGI effects putting black patches over one eye and dubbing everyone with rough Ooh-arrghs - just to make a pirate DVD.

Top picture: Mandelson greets Geffen on the 'Rising Sun' luxury yacht in Corfu (Mail)


Voters Won't Stomach More Bouncy Brown

Bouncy Brown is back on the ropes. Hopes of a summer fight-back have been dashed with a snapshot summer poll showing Labour voters prefer delectable Dave to the struggling Supreme Leader. Even the Party faithful are deserting in droves. Brown-beaten voters haven't the stomach for yet another fight-back.

Analysis of opinion polls are best left to politicalbetting and UK polling but every now and again one comes along which brings a smile to the face and wipes the smug smile of the faces of the cronies who are crippling the country. The Guardian/ICM poll does just that.

Asked, regardless of individual party preferences, whether a Tory government under Cameron, or a Labour one under Brown, would be best for the country, most people backed Dave.

And it gets worse. A Cameron government is the clear preference of most LibDems.

For a short while it seemed people were been taken in by the great big grin and believed the summer spin.

Despite relentless policy attacks from the summer stand-in Supreme Leaders in waiting, the row over who loves the NHS most and the muddled mess over the hopeless Afghan war, has seen the Tories extend their lead to 16 points.

Now even 24% of current Labour voters think the Tories would improve the NHS. The Tory lead on other policies, including education, is bigger.

That should come as no surprise but it does raise a smile and raise a real fear.

The great muddled mass in the middle are finally making up their minds. The Tory lead will grow stronger as sure as eggs is eggs as voters make a positive decision to vote Tory rather than a disillusioned protest vote against the New Labour government.

Nick Cohen has already hit the nail on the head: “The campaign will be a massacre. Four weeks of Cameron - whom you can’t help liking even if you disagree with him - vs Brown - whom you can’t help disliking even if you agree with him”.

The Orange Party has long banged the drum for an early election, ever since bottling Brown, well bottled it in the heady summer of love. Not out of dotting love for Dave and the boys and girls in blue but out of love for a Labour Party highjacked by Blairite lies, spin and deceit.

That early election view was shared by some political strategists but not by New Labour politicians who want to hang on until the bitter end in the hope that something would turn up while they scrabble around to feather their own nests.

A new Party may rise which is not in the pockets of big business and which is not paying lip-service to civil liberties and meddling with peoples lives. But voters should be careful what they wish and vote for.

The government has lost the August battle. Now the phoney war is hotting up with tight-lipped Brown crawling out of the woodwork reportedly ready to issue a shopping list of spending cuts in a desperate bid to reign in self-inflicted public debt.

What is the point of an autumn 'fight-back' when all the trust has gone up in smoke and mirrors? Give it a rest and give up. The Party might pick up a few votes.

The proverbial parrot of the New Labour project isn't resting. It's dead. While licking its wounds, the Labour Party has a chance to purge itself of Blair-lites. The Party can return to its roots and rediscover its once popular purpose.

New Labour deserves a good kicking at the election but the total wipe-out which is on the cards makes for unhealthy politics. The fear is that will leave a Party so demoralised, so disillusioned and so roundly beaten, it will not even make the grade as a credible opposition. It will be 1997 all over again but with the tables turned.

The Orange Party is the first in the queue to volunteer as cheerleader for the demise of New Labour. But at this rate it will take another decade before a credible Labour Party is ready to fight again, leaving a decade of a Tory government to do whatever takes its fancy.

That is the Brown legacy and the legacy of a fag-end government which refuses to put itself or the country out of its misery as it clings on for its own selfish and arrogant ends.


Monday, August 24, 2009

Macavity Brown's Masterstroke Of Spin

Scotland is the fall-guy in the fall-out of the release of the Lockerbie "bomber" in a masterstroke of spin. The Scottish parliament is recalled to defend its decision. But it's the UK parliament which should be recalled and Macavity Brown called to account.

You have to hand it to the New Labour government. It is pulling-off a masterstroke to get SNP arch-enemy Salmond in the frame to take the flak and smooth the way for the UK to strike oil.

A masterpiece of government spin is managing to turn the tables, blaming the Scots for the dastardly decision to release al-Magrahi on compassionate grounds.

A spectacular wave of American outrage has swept across the Atlantic. The SNP and justice minister MacAskill seem to be under fire from all sides.

But in the US, it is bunkered Brown not Salmond who's in the firing line. Influential website Drudge screams with a large picture of Brown and the question: "YOU DID WHAT?!"

Former US ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, has called for a congressional hearing into how the US government lobbied the UK over the release.

Pictures coming out of Libya splash al-Magrahi whopping it up with Gaddafi and his son.

But if pictures tell a thousand words then it is those of Blair with Gadaffi and the shameful 'deal in the desert' and Brown shaking hands with his new best friend that are the more telling.

The whole squalid charade stinks. Scotland is just a pawn in the diplomatic shenanigans. Someone's playing politics over Lockerbie. In the world of diplomatic spin, Whitehall has pulled a fast one over Holyrood.

Weekend disclosures in the Observer and elsewhere reveal Brown at the centre of detailed discussions with the Libyan dictator and a foreign office endorsing the Scots' decision. But bunkered Brown has steadfastly refused to speak publicly which once again calls into question his leadership.

Mandy too is in the frame, meeting Gaddafi the younger twice in the past four months with a "fleeting" discussion about al-Megrahi while sunning himself in Corfu.

Al-Megrahi's release was "on the table in all commercial, oil and gas agreements" and other dealings with Britain, according to Tripoli.

Misplaced outrage over the release of the Lockerbie Libyan and the wave of political posturing are hiding the shameful dealings in the aftermath of the atrocity.

Lockerbie's dirty secrets are only slowly beginning to unravel. Deals stuck over trade and oil are only part of the plot.

Al-Megrahi’s release has been on the cards for some time in a carefully orchestrated plot to stop a hugely embarrassing appeal, hide the truth over the bombing and to get a hold of Libya's oil and gas. That appeal would have laid bare failings in the original verdict and the manipulation of evidence.

The Orange Party has long held the view the casualty here is justice and the truth about the bombing of Pan Am flight 103. With no appeal, only with a full public inquiry demanded by the bereaved families of some of the victims, would that truth be known. But for the moment that remains a side-issue.

The heat is on many politicians to explain their involvement in the controversial decision to release the Lockerbie "bomber", who was serving a life sentence for the mass murder of 270 people in 1988.

Former US ambassador Bolton said: "I'm appalled by the decision of the Scottish government. But I'm more appalled by the decision of the British government apparently to see commercial advantage for the UK in having this mass murderer go free. We wait to hear from Prime Minister Brown what he thinks."

Bolton may have to wait a while for tight-lipped Brown. Downing Street is sitting tight. In the spinning world, it the wrong Scot who is taking the flak and the wrong parliament which has been recalled.