Friday, September 04, 2009

Cpl Brown's Dad's Army Fightback

Corporal Brown and his Dad's Army ministers are on a suicide mission to convince fed-up voters the unwinnable Afghan war is worth the loss of so many lives. Today battle-scared Brown will try to rally the troops after coming under unfriendly fire from his own side with a warning to get a grip on his war.

Brown and his bunch of ministerial misfits have lost the battle for the hearts and minds of voters and they know it. But the struggling Supreme Leader is standing firm in shifting quicksand, despite the damning indicment delivered with precision by defence aide, Eric Joyce.

Voters are giving Brown his marching orders. He's the political casualty of his own hopeless, bloody unwinnable war.

The Sun's launch of its 'Don't You Know There's a Bloody War On campaign' is driving home the message. Downing Street and the MoD are left fighting a futile rearguard action. The public is fed up with Brown's War. Trust and his leadership have been blown to shreds.

Despite the best efforts of spinners to play down Joyce's resignation, this was a major blow for Brown. Joyce is a Labour loyalist and ex-major who rose through the ranks and was quite a feather in the cap for the government when elected as MP.

No aspect of Brown's handing of the unwinnable war was left untouched as bungling Bob Ainsworth's bag-carrier delivered his bombshell and quit in disgust over the government's Afghan 'strategy'.

Joyce's decision to quit had been on the cards for a while. Only last month he criticised the government's decision to appeal against compensation awards for two wounded soldiers. But the timing was devastating, coming on the eve of Cpl Brown's major fightback speech to try to win back a few votes.

The Party conference is round the corner. Joyce's views chime with the growing unease among rank and file members over the war and with backbench MPs who are hoping to hold onto their seats.

Joyce questioned the government's arguments for the presence of troops and the price being paid for propping up fraudulent elections.

The government could no longer justify the growing Afghan death toll by saying the war would prevent terrorism back home. What's needed now is an exit strategy with a time limit set on deployment. Troop numbers should be cut substantially in the next parliament. The Orange Party goes further - pull out now before it's too late.

Opinion polls cite Brown's handling of the war and woeful lack of leadership as one of the main reasons for his flagged popularity. But don't expect any straight answers today from war-mongering Brown or clueless Ainsworth.

Time's running out and so are the excuses. All there's left is the weak illogical argument of mission impossible: "to protect the British people from the threat of international terrorism".

But if that's the case why not spend the billions of pounds from the war chest here at home on national security and shoring up the borders, rather than shooting at an invisible 'enemy' in a far off land?

It doesn't make a jot of sense. But then this is a war served up with a big dollop of Brown sauce where the real casualties are Afghan civilians and the boys who come home in a box.


Thursday, September 03, 2009

Battle Of Two Berks In Bucks

A battle of two berks is shaping up in Bucks with UKIP's Farage challenging Tory turn-coat speaker Bercow for the general election seat. Election battle lines are being drawn up. This contest is sure to put the cat amongst the pigeons.

The Telegraph today reveals commons speaker and token Tory Bercow is to be challenged at the election by UKIP leader Farage, still basking in his Euro MEP victory.

Farage's decision to stand raises all sorts of interesting issues. There won't be an official Conservative candidate so will Tories be allow to campaign and vote for Farage?

On top of that, commons convention has it that the other main parties do not put up candidates in a sitting speaker’s constituency. So put that in the New Labour and the LibDem pipe and smoke it.

The Orange Party has no time for patronising slimeball squeaker Bercow. But then little time for UKIP either.

But speaking about Bercow, the Orange Party will agree with Farage on one thing: “This man represents all that is wrong with British politics today. He was embroiled in the expenses saga and he presides over a Parliament that virtually does nothing."

The commons got a spiv for a speaker after discredited Martin was forced to quit in shame over the MPs’ expenses’ scandal. In like a flash stepped 'Tory' Bercow with the backing of a majority of New Labour MPs and to the irritation of Tories.

If Bercow does get his cumupance it would mean the joy of another commons election for a new speaker. Only this time the Tories would be in the speakers' driving seat.

In the MPs' expenses scandal, the Telegraph disclosed how Bercow flipped his designated second home claiming full whack on allowances. He later agreed to hand over £6,500 to the taxman after lawfully avoiding paying capital gains tax on buying and selling properties.

Farage is no stranger to allowances, heading a party propped up by £2m of public money from the European Parliament. But that's the Party not the back-pocket.

UKIP has a lot of support among Tories - and the Telegraph. Nevertheless Farage, faces an uphill task trying to win over one of the safest Tory seats in the country with a whopping 13,325 majority.

Bercow, Farage or the Monster Raving Loony Party? A tough call but the smart money's on Farage.


Leaked NHS Jobs Cut Plan A Sick Joke

A leaked NHS jobs cut report has spread around the media like a rash. The government has been quick to put the patient out of its misery. NHS life is safe in their hands. But patients are getting in the way of political posturing.

The dear old NHS would need to slash its workforce by nearly 140,000 to achieve planned £20 billion savings by 2014, according to the consultants report, leaked to the Health Service Journal (HSJ).

Repeating the tired old argument, this would mean the NHS losing 10 per cent of its workforce. The hard-hitting McKinsey report makes clear cuts would hit front-line staff as well as administrators, coupled with a recruitment freeze and slashing medical school places.

Politically, the report fall-out has something for everyone. There's a nasty government drawing up secret plans to slash spending and jobs in the sacred cow and blowing out of the water claims the NHS is safe in their hands.

But on the other hand, the government has stamped on it in a full media maelstrom without a by-your-leave, to show a caring side. You pays your taxes and takes your choice in the "free" NHS.

There's something fishy about the whole thing. Government health minister, Mike O'Brien, was quick to jump on the caring bandwagon saying ministers have rejected the shocking proposals. Well, at least until after the election.

But the HSJ points out that although the department of health said the report was “purely advice and does not constitute government policy”, it bears the department’s logo and has been shared in secret among senior NHS managers.

The much-repeated mantra of willy-nilly jobs cuts is not the answer to NHS savings or a cure all for the NHS.

There is however an enormous amount of waste and some jobs should go to deliver better patient and medical care. But that should not detract from front-line services.

A start could be made on ridiculously well-paid management, the vast army of administrators, the billions of pounds squandered on a useless NHS computer, the millions wasted on useless public health campaigns - and the millions of pounds spent on IT and management consultants.

The Orange Party is starting to feel quite queasy. Health secretary Andy Burnham should come clean. Just how much cash was thrown at consultants to produce a report which comes up with the bleedin' obvious and the same old answers? And all that for ministers to reject the political hot potato out of hand and say they're busy doing nothing.

The NHS has lost its way and lost sight of its original remit. Once a byword for "free" medical care for all at the point of delivery, billions of pounds are now squandered on top-heavy bureaucratic management and inefficient over-arching structures.

Cash which should be going into medical and 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.

The general election season has opened with bang. The NHS is a key battleground for the high ground but not the only one.

New Labour's dreadful record on jobs, education and the handling of the Afghan War will pop up to take centre stage in the battle for hearts and minds and votes, as a poll in today's Sun reveals.

And there's still nine months tops to go before long-suffering voters have the chance to put the final nail in the coffin of a discredited fag-end government.


Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Lousy Jobs 'Promise' For Lost Generation

The general election season has kicked off with a lousy government jobs promise which doesn't add up. Real jobs have become job "opportunities" to spin the numbers and fiddle the dole figures.

Brown's 'Backing Young Britain' in Birmingham has a shallow ring to it. All part of the election fightback, where once again young people desperate for jobs are lulled into a false sense of security in a numbers game.

The government is pledging 85,000 "opportunities" to help get young people into work. 45,000 young people will be "helped" to find jobs in retail, tourism, leisure and hospitality.

'Opportunities' and 'help' are hardly real jobs created in a real world. It's a sham.

The figures are part of a pledge from big business eager to prop up the New Labour feel good factor and mask the ravages of deep recession depression.

Numbers includes a pledge by retailer Morrisons to give extra "training" to its under 25s. There are "opportunities" galore, including apprenticeships with companies such as Centrica, Carillion and Royal Mail. In fact more than 150 employers, including Microsoft and Pfizer, are said to be supporting the Backing Young Britain campaign.

What is the point of adding up pointless promises when at the end of the day profits will be put before people?

Sure as eggs is eggs, the announcements come with all the trimmings. Plans to help young people with training and employment are part of a £5 billion investment. £1 billion will be spent on the Backing Young Britain campaign to create 100,000 new jobs for young people and a further 50,000 jobs in "unemployment hotspots".

But what is needed are real jobs in a real economy, not half-baked worthless non jobs in a rerun of the bad old days of the shabby 'New Deal' where youngsters were just moved off benefits onto 'training' and ubiquitous 'work experience' to keep down the youth unemployment figures.

Those meaningless programmes did very little to help young people get meaningful work or meaningful qualifications.

Official figures reveal the jobless rate among 16 to 24-year-olds has soared to a staggering 20%. The current 920,000 classed as unemployed is likely to top the one million mark, bringing with it problems of crime and downright disillusionment.

Youngsters are bearing the brunt of the rising tide of unemployment, which increased to 2.4 million last month. 3 million people have not had a job since New Labour came to power over a decade ago. A further 2 million have never worked.

A whole generation is set to be lost to rising youth unemployment. Unions and businesses groups are urging ministers to do more to help jobless youngsters.

Double counting taxpayers cash already promised and spinning 'opportunities and help' as real jobs is not the answer.

As the election draws nigh, a desperate Brown is trying to persuade voters to doff their caps in gratitude to a government which is claiming to have got the public through the worst of it. But opinion polls show voters are not taken in by the hype.

The Lockerbie storm has laid bare New Labour lies and deceit. A PM who cannot be trusted with the truth over Lockerbie cannot be trusted with the economy or the future of young people desperate for real jobs in a real world.

Bottom Picture: Brown Backing Young Britain in Birmingham


Can Brown Survive Lockerbie Storm?

As the Lockerbie plot thickens, double dealing Brown and his shady bunch of ministers are lying and tying themselves into knots. The struggling Supreme Leader may have returned to the fray refreshed from hols but Cameron is waiting in the wings ready to stick in the knife. The prime minister's position is looking precarious. All roads lead to Brown, thunders The Times.

Lockerbie's dirty little secrets are beginning to unravel, albeit slowly. What is becoming clear is there's more to al-Megrahi's release than just a shabby deal over oil.

More likely is a need to put a stop to al-Megrahi's hugely embarrassing appeal which could have cleared his name and laid bare the dirty secrets of the whole Lockerbie outrage.

Al-Megrahi’s release had been on the cards for some time in a carefully orchestrated plot to stop his appeal, hide the truth over the bombing and to get hold of Libya's oil and gas.

The decision to drop an appeal against conviction was part of a deal. That appeal would have laid bare failings in the original verdict and the manipulation of evidence.

The heat is on beleaguered Brown with documents showing he wanted al-Megrahi to die a free man. It seems easier for the government to take the flak and suffer the fall out from the 'oil for prisoner' row than open up the can of worms of the al-Megrahi conviction.

The Orange Party has long held this view and outlined the case here. Both the Mail and Jon Snow at Channel 4 News are coming round to similar conclusions.

Everyone knew there was something decidedly dodgy about the decision to release al-Megrahi. Macavity Brown's silence just made matters worse.

A simple and straightforward: "I didn't want him to die in prison" and the country would have moved on. Instead the public has suffered silence, manipulation and media management, passing the buck on to the Scottish government and treating the public like fools.

Yesterday's publication of some of the correspondence between Westminster and Holyrood didn't take the heat off Brown, it just threw up even more awkward questions over his handling of the affair.

Now the fag-end government and wretched prime minister stand accused of double-dealing, something they vehemently deny. But then they would wouldn't they?

Over the Pond, the Lockerbie fall-out is the final straw in strained US relations. The NY Daily News pulls no punches, branding the PM: Brown the Betrayer.

Both president Obama and secretary of state Clinton have publicly condemned al-Megrahi's release.

With nine months tops to go before the general election, both Brown and Cameron want to get on with doing what they do best - point-scoring at every opportunity.

But Cameron is not going to let this go easily. The Tories say Brown needs to be "straight" with the public accusing the government of "double dealing" and calling for an inquiry.

For the Tories it's a gift and boils down to trust - something sadly lacking in two-faced Brown and his deluded government.

Lockerbie is another nail in the coffin of the public's lack of trust in a government which wriggles and spins at every twist and turn.

Picture: Gerald Scarfe, Sunday Times


Monday, August 31, 2009

Another Useless Booze Cruise Gimmick

'Booze Asbos' join a long list of useless gimmicks as a government drunk with power fails to get to grips with a problem of its own making. The New Labour booze cruise is viewing a rosy world through the bottom of a beer glass with the eyes of a drunk.

One top copper told the Guardian he and other colleagues were becoming increasingly fed up with government initiatives: "There's a never-ending series of announcements, and not one thing has changed."

Magistrates too have rubbished the Asbos. The orders duplicate existing laws and are unlikely to help solve problems caused by drunkenness.

Courts can now ban anyone from drinking in certain pubs and bars. Drunken troublemakers can be fined up to £2,500 under the 'booze Asbos'. Anyone slapped with an order will be sent on a useless "positive behaviour intervention course" (sic) costing offenders up to £250 a pop.

It's easy to blame boozers as they plunge into depths of despair and sink into oblivion. Throwing money at more "courses" and passing the buck back on magistrates is not the answer.

A failed New Labour booze project is at the heart of the country's out of control alcohol problem brought on by lax licensing laws coupled with easy access to cheap booze — all part of the shiny new New Labour brand.

Back in April, leading experts lined up to roundly condemn round-the-clock drinking and availability of cheap alcohol in supermarkets.

Royal College of Physicians president, Professor Ian Gilmore, told MPs he firmly blamed the government for the deteriorating situation, saying health department strategies on the one hand were useless when, with the other hand, the home office brought in 24-hour drinking laws.

Doctors and academics were desperate to tell MPs just how bad it is. The scary spectacle is all too familiar. Decent folk too scared to go out on the streets, police and ambulance crews struggling with the carnage and hospital staff at their wits end trying to cope.

Costly and useless 'education' initiatives have been miserable failures because no-one had the guts to speak out and the problem got out of hand. No-one was brave enough to challenge the false assumptions of relaxed licensing laws or cheap alcohol pricing and the devastating effects which were starting to show themselves.

To attack those policies was to attack the very heart of a misguided New Labour project. The devastating effects were brushed under the carpet as warning voices were branded part of a reactionary backlash to the wild and wonderful 'modernising' policies.

For the government, to admit failure would be to admit the failure of a central plank of policy. Instead the country was dragged down a slippery slope with hugely wasteful PR education campaigns.

A message on a bottle to 'drink responsibly' does not make a blind bit of difference to someone blind drunk. Only an outright ban of advertising, marketing and sponsorship would have results.

MPs were told cut-price supermarket booze is at the heart of the problem leading to the surge in binge drinking, sparking a trend for young people to drink cheap alcohol at home before heading to bars and pubs.

Crime and disorder linked to alcohol cost the UK billions of pounds every year. Not surprisingly, the new 'Asbos' are backed by the booze industry with ministers happy to pay lip service as they rake in fat profits out of people's misery.

For a government using the price of alcohol as a tool for stealth taxes and firmly in the pockets of the drinks and supermarket industries and powerful lobbies, realistic solutions are hard to stomach.

Alcohol sales should be restricted to stand-alone licensed premises for the over 18s, quite separate from the supermarkets with a return to the "off-licence" and public house as the only alcohol outlets.

Central to any cultural change would be a reversal of the relaxed 24 hour drinking laws brought in to try to copy a Mediterranean wine drinking culture on a cold, wind swept island in northern Europe.

Martin Plant, professor of addiction studies at the University of the west of England, didn't pull any punches when he told MPs: "Supermarkets at the moment are displaying the morality of the crack dealer. What they are doing is completely irresponsible. Cheap alcohol kills people."

Wishy-washy measures won't tackle the booze culture. It is the duty of a responsible government to bring in controls which reflect the prevailing mood of public opinion. But realistic and responsible solutions have been roundly condemned as retrograde.

The disgusting spectacle of binge drinking affects everyone. Booze is one of Huxley's "chemical crutches" which people turn to in times of desolation and despair. From the gin places of Hogarth to the current sad and destructive spectacle seen on the streets night after night.

Civil liberties group, Liberty, has dismissed the booze Asbos as a 'gimmick' that fail to get to the root cause of the problem. Policy director, Isabella Sankey, said: "How many times can you spin a new 'crackdown' without tackling the causes of offending behaviour?

"It will be jelly bean Asbos for sugared-up kids next. Surely its time to call last orders on endless new legislation."

Over the last decade, government policy has led to an increase in binge drinking and the booze culture. The Orange Party doesn't blame the boozers. It blames those at Westminster who hoodwinked the public and sailed off into the sunset on their barmy booze cruise.