Thursday, September 11, 2008

Brown's Fuel Bills Plan-Wrap Up Warm

After last week's housing help that never was, today we had another damp squib on fuel bills from a wet and weak government. The advice? Wrap up warm this winter.

Lag the loft, put in a new boiler and spend thousands on double glazing. No word of even a small cash rebate. No word of a windfall tax on the greedy energy companies, not today or anyday it seems. 

This bunch of trivial measures shows just how out of touch is the government. 

As the big energy companies are allowed to trouser our cash and sail off into the off-shore sunset the measures announced today are a drop in the ocean. 

Energy efficiency and help for the needy cost next to nothing when you put them alongside the obscene profits to be made from the recent huge hike in gas and electricity prices.

And how are people expected to pay for the insulation, new boiler and double glazing? It's bad enough just trying to make ends meet and pay the bills.

Sure, there'll be some help for some of the poorer but any government of whatever party could and should be doing that. 

Struggling to feed the kids? Worried about paying the bills ? Fit an energy saving light bulb and everything will be alright.

Environment secretary, Hilary Benn, floundered - badly - on the BBC's Today programme. 

Announcing the £910m package to help people struggling with energy bills, Brown said this was a "better way" than bringing in the one-off cash rebates paid for by a windfall tax.

These are clearly people out of touch with reality. 

The trade unions, those with true Labour values and not cosying up to their New Labour pals, are expected to step up their demand for a windfall tax on the energy companies. 

Tony Woodley, of Unite, described the planned insulation package as "crackpot" and urged immediate cash help for people struggling with soaring energy bills.

The Conservatives said Brown had actually cut the budget for energy efficiency grants for people on benefit last year and was simply restoring the budget.

LibDem, Vincent Cable, said the money involved was "a tiny fraction" of the amount energy companies had raised as a result of being given free carbon trading permits by the government.

Time and again at the TUC, the true Labour union leaders, tried to speak up for people worried sick about rising bills. That is set to be repeated at the Labour Party conference.

The Conservatives have offered an olive branch to the unions and have already started talks about how they can work together in a new government. They're doing the same with the SNP. 

It now seems the true Labour Party, the SNP, the Conservatives and the LibDems, not in Clegg's fan club, are speaking with one voice on so many issues which affect people's lives.  And that's the voice of the voters.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

McCain's Manna From Heaven From Brown BBC

Tie in Brown's ill-timed and badly thought out backing for Obama and the BBC's dodgy and biased "world poll" coming out at the same time, and McCain must be thinking he's the Chosen One - they were manna from heaven.

Both were picked up by the US media and posted by the Orange Party yesterday. Both are being derided in the US to highlight the naive bias of a UK prime minister and the BBC. And both are being told to keep their noses out of the US elections.

With friends like Brown and his track record, who needs enemies. The BBC 'World Poll', simply reinforces Obama's exotic background. Both will do Obama no favours. 

Brown gave unprecedented backing to one of the US presidential candidates in his article for the Parliamentary Monitor, which he must have signed off. Nowhere in the article does he mention McCain.

The BBC World Service/GlobeScan poll, reported here by ABC News, claims to show people around the world want Obama as president. 

But pollster GlobeScan only questioned 22,000 people by telephone and face-to-face in countries ranging from Australia to India and across Africa, Europe and South America for the BBC poll. 

Hardly a statistically valid 'poll' and a point not lost on bloggers tracking the bias of BBC/GlobeScan polls around the world.

Democrats and Republicans want to move on, but not before the McCain-Palin campaign has milked it here, claiming Obama had nicked their policies. 

Brown and the BBC have rattled the Republican's cage. Drudge is lurking in the background and he is proving to be McCain's secret weapon.

As the US election enters its closing stages, Brown and the BBC should know better. They are trying to play with the big boys. Engaging in silly little schoolboy antics shows them up as fools. 


Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Brown And BBC World Poll Back Obama

In an unprecedented breach of protocol, Brown has backed US presidential candidate Obama, as the release of a BBC/GlobeScan poll, claims to show people across the world chose the Chosen One as president.

The support by Brown and the BBC poll, reported by ABC News, come at the same time as polls in the US show McCain is gaining ground by the day.

The support of a UK prime minister for a US presidential candidate, so close to the US election date, is an unprecedented breach of protocol and nowhere in the article does he mention the Republican candidate, John McCain.

His comments have already drawn sharp criticism from shadow foreign secretary, William Hague.

Writing in the Parliamentary House Magazine, Parliamentary Monitor, Brown said:

"And in the electrifying US presidential campaign, it is the Democrats who are generating the ideas to help people through more difficult times. To help prevent people from losing their home, Barack Obama has proposed a Foreclosure Prevention Fund to increase emergency pre-foreclosure counselling, and help families facing repossession."

However, support by Brown doesn't auger well for Obama. Brown is often ridiculed for his 'Jonah' effect, where he brings back luck to anything he is involved with or supports. 

And the poll for Brown's BBC may provide a bonus for McCain, where Obama's exotic background is proving more of a hindrance than a help in his campaign.

Pollster GlobeScan questioned more than 22,000 people in countries ranging from Australia to India and across Africa, Europe and South America for the BBC poll.

ABC News reports that: "The margin in favour of Senator Obama ranged from 9 per cent in India to 82 per cent in Kenya, while an average of 49 per cent across the 22 countries preferred Senator Obama compared with 12 per cent preferring Senator McCain. Some four in 10 did not take a view."

In  the US, the RCP Average puts McCain on 48.3% and Obama on 45.6% a gain for McCain of 2.7. 

Brown's support for Obama and the BBC poll have been highlighted in the US by Drudge, who is well-known for exposing the Monica Lewinski affair and revealing Prince Harry in Afghanistan. 

His latest news items, which show up media bias against McCain and Palin, have been picked up by the US Main stream media. 


Tory TLC To The TUC

A letter from a senior Conservative to the TUC, shines a revealing spotlight on the current political mess at Westminster and how it could be played out in the future. It's another nail in Brown and New Labour's coffin, as we watch events unfold on a split screen. 

In Brighton, union leaders at the TUC, using language unheard of just a few years ago, expressed genuine frustration and anger at the government. 

In Birmingham, a cardboard cabinet of empty suits swanned around in shallow selfish arrogance, in a thinly disguised publicity stunt.

Shadow chancellor George Osborne, has written an open letter to the TUC calling on trade union members to "forget" the Labour Party, accusing the government of betraying workers.

"So if you care about better jobs and better incomes, and if you care about treating public sector professionals with respect – forget about the Labour Party. It has forgotten about you."

The move comes as chancellor Darling, addresses TUC delegates, which will hardly set conference alight. 

Events at the TUC mirror those which are happening in the Labour Party and among some Labour MPs. After years of cosying up to New Labour, many have had enough. 

The Conservatives are tapping into that real battle between those with true Labour values and the New Labour elite.

Brown and his New Labour ministers are living in a fantasy world. With the exception of postie turned health secretary, Alan Johnson, not one cabinet member has any experience of the real world. 

Raising the spectre of the bad old days of the unions is both naive and unhelpful. 

The Conservatives are showing a way forward. Throwing a reassuring olive branch to the trade unions, is a welcome first step. They are doing the same with the SNP in Scotland.

This is not so much about party politics. This is facing up to the reality of the situation. 

A cabinet reshuffle, another re-launch by Brown, a more Blairite leadership challenge, will achieve nothing. It's the end of the New Labour Project and true Labour is trying to regroup. The government doesn't stand a chance at a general election. All the political players know that. 

The Conservatives, for so long happy to sit on the sidelines and watch New Labour disintegrate, now know it will all end sooner rather than later.

Only those with a selfish, vested interest in propping up New Labour, will try to help them to cling onto power.


Monday, September 08, 2008

Mac And Mae Rock Rot Sets In

Bush has done a Brown and bailed out Freddie and Fannie. This is not about economics, this is about greed. Here, ours had the solid-sounding name of Northern Rock. But the names disguise the festering financial fiasco beneath all of them. 

The banks should never have been allowed to get in the mess in the first place.

Taxpayers are propping up Northern Rock to the tune of ten of billions of pounds. The US always does things bigger. Fannie May and Freddie Mac have liabilities running into hundreds of billions of dollars.

The sub-prime mortgage model started in the US and, like many things, the government was happy to import it, warts and all.

What has happened is the result of a flawed borrowing model, only concerned with making a fast buck.

Out went the traditional checks, where borrowing depended on solid factors like income and how much cash the lenders actually had in the bank. In came the model which simply assessed risk, lent accordingly and bundled off the more risky bond debts to be sold on. 

Fine, if money's freely available. But not when the Middle and Far East banks, which held the bond debt, took a look and decided to withdraw their investment.

Here the treasury, Bank of England and Financial Services Authority sat back, let it all happen and blamed each other when it all went pear-shaped. In the US the same questions will be asked and the future is unclear and uncertain. 

Economic analysists are quick to call it all the result of a mythical "credit crunch", when it's nothing of the sort. It's a deliberately created debt culture. 

On both sides of the Atlantic, people were lulled into a false sense of security and allowed to borrow up to the hilt and beyond. 

Mortgages became loans and were started on fixed, short-term, cheaper rates for just a couple of years, to hook in the customers. The repercussions are repossessions. And spiralling debt.

The Wall Street Journal notes how Fannie and Freddie expanded their exposure to the more risky loans, despite executives warning of the consequences two years ago. 

The two companies "shunned the riskiest type of mortgages, only to embrace those mortgages late in the game in an effort to regain market share from Wall Street rivals."

The winners from this cheap credit for all, were the lenders, who made fat profits. And the losers? Everyone else.


Voters Start To See Through Obama

Evidence Obama is turning into Chicago's Mr Cellophane, comes in the latest Gallup daily tracking poll, which shows the highest support for McCain, in that poll, since May. 

The poll, of registered voters, shows McCain has overtaken Obama leading 48% to 45%. The RCP average puts Obama on 45.7% and McCain on 46.7%.

Both Democrats and Rebublicans needed their conventions to put a bounce in the polls. Political commentators are putting the lead down to a better showing for the McCain campaign.

The closing weeks of the race for the White House, sees candidates out on the stump and in set-piece TV debates. 

But it will be in the media positioning, the viral internet campaigning and TV ads that will decide whether voters will see right through Him.

Commenting on the McCain media strategy, observed here on a number of occasions, Washington journalist, Peter Brown, in The Wall Street Journal, believes the public's perceived view of media bias will help the McCain campaign: 

"Among the more significant things that we learned at the Republican convention last week is that John McCain and Sarah Palin have decided that running against the news media will help them beat Democrats Barack Obama and Joe Biden. And, they are betting that although their frontal assault on the press might not go down so well in the Hamptons and in Hollywood, which are Democratic strongholds anyway, it will play in Peoria."

McCain needs to hit the magic 50% before reality overcomes media bias and the momentum kicks in. Today's polls show he is edging closer to that target.


All Smiles But Cabinet Glum In Brum

The smiling faces of the cabinet are in the West Midlands today, to get "closer to the people". And if you believe that, you must be a donkey's bottom.

This is just a silly publicity stunt from Gordon "no gimmicks" Brown, dreamt up a long while ago by the army of media advisors and set in stone in the diary. 

Fancy being dragged out of your Westminster bubble to Birmingham and forced to smile for the cameras, knowing no one like you and to be told soon, some will be out of a job. 

The only one with a genuine grin will be Branson and his Virgin Trains, stuffed full of hangers-on.

There will be a chance to "listen to the people" before the kitchen sink cabinet meets, but not by putting up a few tressle tables in the Bullring.

Sure they'll listen to some people - each other. And to the photographers and film crews to catch the right side for Brown's personal web space on the No10 site.

And everyone will be on their best behaviour. Is that a government reshuffle I see before me? The Browns or the Blairs? Who cares?

This kitchen sink cabinet is rapidly going down the plug-hole. Reshuffling the government pack will deal just another dead hand.

Darling, Miliband? Balls. Whoever, whatever, the Blairite/Brown policies remain the same. The greed and selfish arrogance is set too deep.

And the voters, sorry, the people? Only the very special, carefully vetted few, will get through today's security ring of steel.

Everyone is speaking everywhere, in a carefully worked out strategy - if you can't beat them, brow-beat them.

Then, for the top dogs, it's off up the motorway in their high-speed Jags and back to Westminster for more plotting time.

And what's on that cabinet agenda?

Here are a few suggestions.

1. Cut the cabinet down to size
2. Cut out the cheap publicity stunts
3. Cut to the chase with a snap general election

Er, that's it.


Sunday, September 07, 2008

Obama-Chicago's Mr Cellophane

Despite the blatant media bias, Obama is looking increasingly transparent as voters start to see through Chicago's Mr Cellophane.

It's Palin now, selling papers, in Murdoch's Sunday Times. The polls are not looking good. Democrats and Obama supporters look to the polls to gauge success but the expected big bounces are just not happening. Not for them anyway. Even the Obama-skewed CBS News poll now shows a tie.

It was all going so well. The slick marketing machine had done the groundwork. The media was on side and on message. Murdoch had issued the order to his troops. 

The cash was flowing in. The power of the internet was harnessed for viral support. The Chosen One was riding high in the polls. Up against an old timer, tainted by Bush. 

Lawsuits over eligibility, funding probes, links with very dodgy Chicago characters? Forgetaboutit. Next stop the White House.

Crafty footwork at the convention side-lined Clinton. Running-mate Biden, a funny old choice, grabbed some headlines. 

The Hollywood-style stadium speech, planned during the Berlin extravaganza, attracted TV's millions. 

Then along came Wonder Woman, in the shape of Sarah Palin. Internet lies and smears, so gleefully picked up by the media, didn't dent her appeal. 

Gustav came to the rescue - McCain and Palin were in the right place at the right time. 

Many were dragged screaming and kicking to force to admit the hockey-mom's convention speech was "electrifying".

And that old-timer? Murdoch's Foxy TV ran an Obama interview during McCain's speech. It made no difference. 

McCain has a powerful story to tell, a hell of a fight left in him and a pitbull with lipstick for a running-mate, who won't be on Oprah's sofa.

So where does that leave Obama?

Mister Cellophane
Shoulda been my name
Mister Cellophane
'Cause you can look right through me
Walk right by me
And never know I'm there...

Lyrics and picture from the musical, Chicago: Mr Cellophane
In the closing weeks of the race for the White House, it will be out on the stump, the set-piece TV debates, the media positioning, the viral internet campaigning and TV ads that will decide whether voters will see right through Him. 


It's No Longer TUC, R.I.P.

The TUC, once a powerful and for some, scary voice, was left to Rest In Pieces. The TUC had morphed into New Labour - all style and no substance. Now its voice is starting to reflect the frustrations of voters with a gloves-off attack on the Blairites and some very strong language, according to the Observer.

As a reporter in the 1980s, covering the TUC, you were taught just two thing. It's the Trades Union Congress and your copy had to be sprinkled with "lefties", trots", "hardliners", "troublemakers". Everyone called each other Brother this, or Brother that.

The Guardian yesterday hasn't moved with the times, with a picture throw-back from the 80s - flying pickets with jackboots - and a piece on this week's TUC get together with those words liberally sprinkled all over the copy.

How simplistic can you get? What has happened to the TUC is mirrored in the Labour Party and among Labour MPs. 

It's the on-going struggle between those with their roots in the labour movement and Blair and the New Labour Project who, to get conservative voters on-side, side-lined them.

With the unions it was easy - take away their influence. Don't rely on their funding. Use big business instead, with the odd peerage thrown in as a sweetener. And, if that didn't work, try to stuff the union leadership with New Labour yespersons. 

Enter the new breed of union leader. Out goes big brother and study leave at Ruskin College, Oxford. In comes the high-flying, fully-paid up trade union professional. A fully paid-up member of the New Labour elite.

Shop-floor experience, working through the ranks, gave way to a good university, little industry experience, good suit, good sound-bites, good choice.

It will be played out this week at Brighton. But True Labour will be there (without the jackboots) and its values and voice, with the funding power restored, is getting stronger and is beginning to show through in reasonable and realistic TUC 'demands'

And, please Guardianistas, that's no bad thing. Trade unions now speak for their members - the people who work long hours, earn a pittance and are worried sick about how they are going to cope.

Dave Spart is dead, King Arthur just a legend. Holding the country to ransom just sounds rather silly in today's economic climate. There's nothing left to hand over.

A strong trade union movement, with its heart in the right place, can be held in check with a strong employers' organisation and an equally strong government.

We are in the dying days of the New Labour Project. A True Labour voice in the trade union movement, the Labour Party and among Labour MPs, can help hasten its departure. 

There's nothing to lose. New Labour will be annihilated in the general election anyway.

And, for the unions, would getting along with a Conservative government and a True Labour minority in England and the SNP in Scotland, be any worse than the present?

Only the greedy, selfish ministers, MPs and hangers-on, trying to cling onto their cushy jobs, would argue with that.