Saturday, February 07, 2009

LibDems Suck Last Life Out Of New Labour

The death knell for the government has been sounded with the latest opinion poll showing voters deserting in droves, scrabbling around for alternatives. 

With vultures circling overhead, LibDems are picking up a few crumbs of comfort, as Brown and his minister's credibility sink to an all-time low.

On the surface, the new ICM poll in tomorrow's Sunday Telegraph shows a boost for the LibDems - up 6% at 22% - and puts New Labour down 4 on 28 per cent, only six points behind, while the Tories are down 4 to still a whopping 40 per cent.

But it is the government's handling of the economy where the survey paints its most gloomy picture, showing New Labour's support falling to its lowest ebb since Brown's well-managed and well-spun bank bail-out bounce last autumn.

What is unclear, however, is how the questions were framed and the weighting used, as ICM uses a methodology which generally favours the LibDems anyway. A similar poll for the Guardian recently had the LibDems on a silly 16%.

The Orange Party has noted New Labour's demise for a long time as voters, once enticed by New Labour Promised Land, started to shop around for an alternative, with Cameron's Conservatives slowly positioning themselves from the Party that's 'electable' to a government-in-waiting. 

After more than a decade in power that switch to the Tories can only go so far and with no SNP alternative as in Glasgow East, English voters will look to the LibDems as the Tories bottom out, trying to work out which suits them best. 

That is the key to how the general election will be fought. 

Within the Party too, the battle is between the political strategists who argue timing and when best to strike and government ministers who through a mixture of arrogance and self-interest try to cling onto power for as long as they can, in the vain hope that things will get better. They won't. 

At home, the recent refinery workers protest and the rise of Mandelson was the final nail in the coffin for a Party still conning voters that it has any semblance of a 'Labour' Party. Die-hard Labour supporters feel betrayed, with many going on record that they'll switch to the Tories. 

Abroad the cracks are starting to appear, as Brown and his plan to save the world are finally exposed as not all they're cracked up to be. 

Downing Street looked pathetic as spinners tried to play-down the savage Sarkozi attack on Brown's "economic mistakes" coming only a day after Brown was completely upstaged by old foe Blair and his quick prayer with best buddy Obama.  

Clarkson's Australian outburst centred on wet and contrived protests over "the one-eyed Scottish idiot" jibe. No one protested about the rest of his outburst - that Brown has been lying over the economy. 

The warnings signs are there, the question is whether Brown and the tightly knit cabal of cronies will heed them. 

Brown famously bottled one general election. He could have gone again, riding on the back of the cleverly managed spin of the "Brown bounce" but he didn't. 

Now the Party is at a crossroads and faces a stark choice. Either accept the election is lost and give voters what they want now, a chance to elect a new government or cling on to power and face extinction. 

What is still unclear is whether it will be the men in grey suits or white coats who will come and take away a deluded Brown or whether the Labour Party itself will continue to sit back and watch Brown destroy the Party and the country. 

The Orange Party still believes the Party has no choice but to eventually see sense, ditch Brown and call an election, sooner rather than later. Not least to try to salvage a few marginal seats. 

The only question remaining is whether it will be the sad, tired old New Labour, or Clegg's blustering LibDems who will form Her Majesty's Official Opposition.


Friday, February 06, 2009

Will Brown's Mountain Go To Obama's Muhammad?

Brown could still be hoping some of the Obama magic will rub off on him with speculation he may drop by the White House to meet the Great One and steal a march on his rivals and a few votes back home. 

Both Downing Street and Brown have been pinning their pre-election hopes on an April 2 London get together of "world leaders", to cash in on some of the Obamashine. 

Now the Westminster Mole reports there's speculation Downing Street may decide on a Washington trip ahead of the G20 summit. 

Yesterday was a bad Brown day when Blair stole a march on his old foe, sneaking in a quick prayer meeting with the other Messiah. Billed as the "first world leader to meet with Barack Obama", the sight of the best buddies must have got up Brown's nose. 

Today is no better with Downing Street not a happy bunny after French president Sarkozy publicly savaged Brown and blasted his "economic mistakes".

A Washington meeting makes sense for Downing Street and Brown, who lives and breathes the election and how to wrong foot the Tories.

With the race now on to be the first or second world leader to meet the Chosen One, there are fears France's Sarkozy or Germany's Merkel could get in first. 

Time and again Downing Street and Brown have been talking up the hopes of Obama's London visit. "He's working hard on that G20 summit" is how it's spun but as the Orange Party pointed out yesterday, who wants to be photographed shaking hands with a loser? 

A world conference on the world financial crisis without the US President may seem unthinkable but the Obama administration works to its own agenda and such a conference may be better served with US finance chiefs rather than a personal appearance by the commander in chief. 

World leaders certainly seem obsessed with trying to be seen standing shoulder to shoulder with the US President and Brown, with his plan to save the world with a painful fiscal stimulus, is no exception, to try to make Cameron look small fry. 

Brown is pressing Obama to sign up to an anti-protectionist global trade deal. Also at stake is the 'special relationship'. Obama needs Brown's support to fight his war in Afghanistan and there's the vexed issue of Gitmo after revelations of an apparent CIA threat  to suspend intelligence-sharing between the two allies, amid allegations of torture, with the complicity of UK intelligence.

Those issues could only be thrashed out at a face-to-face meeting. 

With the credibility of beleaguered Brown in ruins both at home and abroad, best to get in quick. 

A week is a long time in politics. Between now and April 2 is a lifetime.

Picture: Happier Days! Brown and Obama at Downing Street, when everything in the garden was lovely. 


Thursday, February 05, 2009

A Depressingly Bad Brown Day

Suffering from a bad case of depression, things got a whole lot worse for Brown, as influential US website Drudge featured the trials and tribulations of the beleaguered prime minister for the second day running and Blair stole a march on his old foe, sneaking in a quick prayer with the other Messiah.

Drudge has clearly latched onto the mood of the moment and is doing his best to spread it around the world. 

And that's not a good thing for last Davos Man standing and his hapless bid to be the world leader to save the world and the banks but not the workers back home. 

No-one should underestimate the power of Drudge who famously blew the gaff on Clinton and Monica Lewinsky and Prince Harry taking the fight to tommy Taliban. 

Yesterday it was Brown's depressing slip of the tongue which Drudge winged round the world, highlighting the commons 'slip' and the dreaded D-word

Today it's a report from international financial analyst Bloomberg with a depressing report of a UK riddled with spreading strikes, short-time working and thousands of job cuts in the Winter of Discontent. 

The credibility of the prime minister has taken a severe beating on the home front recently but when that credibility is hung out to dry on the world stage, it's like watching a wounded dog die. 

Now Brown's only crumb of comfort has been dashed, pinning his hopes on a pre-election world leader's meeting with the Chosen One, in the vain hype that some of the shine would rub off on him. 

Time and again Downing Street and Brown have been talking up the hopes of Obama's London visit on April 2. "He's working hard on that G20 summit" is how it's spun ad nauseam. Even that's falling flat. 

Obama goes with the flow and where the votes are. Who wants to be photographed shaking hands with a loser? 

How demoralising then for Brown to watch his old 'pal' Blair sucking up to Obama as only Blair can. The man who famously doesn't do God, speaking at an annual national prayer breakfast in Washington and to Murdoch's  Sky TV. 

Billed as the "first world leader to meet with Barack Obama", the pair are pictured sitting alongside as "very good friends". After a first, everything else is just so, second place. 

The Orange Party has always believed Blair and Obama are two peas in a pod. For Blair, with his sights on the EU presidency, cosying up to Obama says it all. 

Tellingly and ominously, Bloomberg reports to the world: "Public anger is mounting ... Brown’s confrontation with his party’s base ... Support for Labour is crumbling .... "

“They’ve sold us down the river,” said Charles Hilton, 61, an electrician from Hull in northern England who was out on strike yesterday with local oil-refinery workers. “We’re going to see civil unrest in this country. It’s already started. It will grow unless things are sorted."
Hilton, who calls himself a traditional Labour voter, said he’ll back David Cameron’s opposition Conservative Party in the next election.

Blair strolled to power on the crest of a wave with "Things Can Only Get Better" ringing in everyone ears. 

What a difference a decade makes.


More Housepriceballs

Today the BBC reassuringly reports: House prices 'up 1.9% in January'. A misleading headline but one which will be seized on by some, eager for evidence of elusive 'green shoots of recovery'. It's nothing of the sort, just part of the 'feel good factor' spin.

Another day and another fresh house price survey, each often contradicting the last.

According to the Halifax, "The price of UK homes rose by 1.9% in January, ending a run of 11 monthly falls", but closer scrutiny shows house prices falling annually by 17.2%.

The data is a snapshot, based on mortgage approvals and, like the government's own survey and those by the Nationwide, it is based only on property sales financed by mortgage lending, ignoring cash sales.

The survey is just that and only applies to those lucky enough to get a mortgage approved and in times of tight mortgages those are few and far between. 

The housing survey also ignores speculators with a huge wad of cash take advantage of auction house repossession at knock-down prices. 

The figures are often very similar, as they are based on a price agreed after a survey by mortgage customers. So that "price" is based on both customers and estate agents who have a vested interest to try for the highest price they think the market will take. 

They are surveys and not the actual sum paid out when the deal is finally signed, sealed and delivered.

Nevertheless last week, a similar survey by Nationwide suggested prices fell by 1.3% in January.

Brown's false boom years created a lot of false economics and no more so than in the trends in house prices. 

For years what you thought your house was worth and how its price would rise, was tied to how house prices compared against earnings but that was abandoned in the bubble of the boom. 

That prices to wages ratio was so last year in this new world of cheap borrowing and live now pay for the debt later.

Easy borrowing enticed by low interest rates meant repayments were quite low for the first couple of years and so it seemed house prices would continue to boom or at least hold up on price. Prices would keep on rising forever and the false sense of home security was born.  

Now back in fashion, that most basic measure of what will happen to house prices, the house price to earnings ratio, paints a gloomy picture. 

Some have suggest prices may fall a total of 50% and prices must fall at least 40% from the peak of October 2007, according to a detailed analysis in thisismoney. And that takes prices back to early 2002. 

The housing market cannot and will not improve until credit restrictions are eased so more people take out mortgages and the economy stops shrinking. 

With continuing pressures on incomes and rising unemployment that will take a very long time, as the country slips from a downturn to a recession and into Brown's 'depression'


Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Brown Says The D-Word And Says It All

Deluded Brown let slip the D-word during PMQs, leaving voters again bothered and bewildered but not bewitched, highlighting the confused state of the State and the state of his mind. Iconic images of strikers, bankrupt Britain and soon more troops for Afghanistan. Welcome to the crazy world of Gordon Brown, cross-over politics and the rise of economic nationalism. 

Telling MPs: "We should agree as a world on a monetary and fiscal stimulus that will take the world out of r... depression ...",  the saviour of the world and banks said it all. How depressing for him and the country.

For so long Downing Street in collusion with the BBC has tried to play down the looming recession, clinging onto a soft landing of the downturn to mask incompetence. Now the world is latching onto Brown's Depression, thanks to US site Drudge featuring the Times take on the 'slip'.

The Orange Party is heartily sick of the silliness of this spinning strategy, as the recession turns into a full blown depression. Brown has dug a deep hole and now he's fallen in it. Trying to sprinkle a bit of fairy dust on a deepening problem for fear of panic only made matters worse. 

Strikes over foreign workers are now being deliberately played down as just another 'industrial dispute' with talks of a "breakthrough" and "calling it off", to take off the heat. As if it was that simple. 

At the heart is the age old issue that in times of hardship, what may be good for the country in the long term isn't necessarily good for people now, struggling with debt, scared about their jobs and how to make ends meet. 

Economic nationalism is rising, as highlighted today by David Cox, while the government buries its head in the sand, hoping it will all go away. It won't. Brown and the gang are living in the past with ideas suited only to the failed and false 'boom' years, hopelessly out of date and out of touch with the fears and anxieties of ordinary people. 

When times are tough, it's human nature to circle the wagons, man the barricades, protect yourself and no fine words about 'for the good of the country' will help. 

It's throwing left, right and pseudo liberals into a tizz. Free trade for goods across national boundaries is a good thing for the economy and the country. But ignoring the realistic fears of people worried about their jobs, struggling with debt, is a bad thing. 

The government is on a high-horse urging voters to shun protectionism and avoid a US-style Great Depression but it's the intensity of the argument which is disturbing, performed with an almost fanatical religious zeal.

The only way to prevent protectionism is to lessen the pain and hardship, so it will triumph over the vested interests of individuals. There's no evidence of that in the government's misguided and confusing rhetoric. 

Whatever the outcome of the 'jobs for British workers' dispute, the fine balance between government and people has been crossed. It will flare up again in another time and another place.

Fighting the corner is Brown's unelected deputy, Mandleson, from the safe sanctity of the House of Lords. Waving that flag of anti-protectionism and stoking the fires of anger, he's already backed the bosses and now trying to play the xenophobia and racism card. 

That pale pink hankie is like a red rag to a bull for backbench Labour MPs and workers on the picket lines, thankfully swiftly put down by Labour backbencher, Jon Cruddas and angry workers.

Traditional political divides are all over the place and no more so than in the confused and double standards of a once "Labour Party" now left with pseudo-liberal left-overs from a bygone age. 

Jamie Oliver's messianic and highly laudable food campaign to "Bring Home the Bacon" throws it into perspective. Supporting UK pig farmers and condemning vile EU pig rearing practices for profit is a good thing. But buying British bacon as a cure all, er, where does that fit in the weird world of protectionism? 

The current mess will not magically go away with the odd bail-out, debt guarantees and printing money. It's impossible to run up a budget deficit big enough to keep all the people in work. 

Over in Obamaland, the great Messiah is having to back track over his 'Buy American" clause in the trillion dollar bail-out rescue package because it smacks of that dreaded word 'protectionism'. 

Yet the clause was inserted deliberately by his own Democrat Party as they used the rescue to bundle up and push through all Democrat pet policies in one fell swoop. The BBC got its knickers in a twist over that one - but hey there's a get out clause. Apparently he was showing his "sensitive side". 

Meanwhile MoD spinners are hard at work as round the corner is a massive US troop surge for Obama's war and Brown set to be the new president's poodle in the bloody, hopeless and unwinnable war in Afghanistan.  

The spinners will have a hard job convincing voters. How strange that Bush, Blair, Iraq and invisible WMDS = Bad Thing. Now Obama, Brown, Afghanistan, invisible Taliban = Good Thing? 

The depression recession has been a wake up call for the left, right and pseudo liberals, all trying to come up with solutions. 

As the arguments rage, it's  difficult to make sense of a crazy, mixed up political and economic world. But the occasional political polemic sure as hell helps. 

Picture: Private Eye front cover,  Issue 1229 


Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Was Glenrothes Fixed For Labour?

The result of the Glenrothes by-election, which shocked many political pundits, has been thrown into doubt after the records of everyone who voted in last year's crucial by-election have gone missing. 

The SNP is calling for an inquiry when it emerged all the marked electoral registers for the by-election, so crucial for Brown's credibility, had been lost by the courts. 

November's by-election result surprised many pundits including the Orange Party, who predicted an SNP win.

Brown had staked everything on Glenrothes but even the prime minister and wife Sarah couldn't stem the tide, with the Scottish Labour Party holding onto the Glenrothes seat in Fife by a slim six thousand plus. 

The SNP were out-gunned and out-manoeuvred, as the government pulled out all the stops to make sure New Labour did not suffer a humiliating defeat, particularly in Brown's back-yard. 

But if Brown couldn't pull it off there, all credibility would be lost. The sight of the first lady of Downing Street campaigning, in what was after all a minor by-election, raised a few eye brows at the time. 

Tricia Marwick, Nationalist MSP for Central Fife, said the blunder over the missing records was "beyond belief" and called for an independent inquiry, adding: "It is almost beyond belief that a by-election which attracted media coverage throughout the UK, which delivered such a surprise result and had a much higher turnout than anticipated, now has no records to show who actually voted."

Meanwhile a question marks hang over around 7,000 requests made for postal votes very shortly before the election. 

Schoolmaster and head of Brown's old school, Lindsay Roy, won the by-election on November 6 last year, polling 19,946 votes. SNP candidate Peter Grant, leader of Fife Council, came second with 13,209 votes, on a turnout of 52.37 per cent, which was higher than expected.

The Orange Party, like many was deeply suspicious over the timing and conduct of the election. 

The date had been fixed for just after the US elections, to bury any likely defeat. Every opportunity was used by BBC 'news' to spin and drop political electioneering into the bulletins, hailing the final result with a "Labour victorious" headline.  

In his victory speech, Roy took every opportunity to bang on about Brown with a speech that looked uncannily like it had been written by Downing Street:

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

Picture: Successful Scottish Labour Party candidate Lindsay Roy campaigning in the Glenrothes by-election 


Monday, February 02, 2009

Snow Refuses To Be Politically Correct

A wet and weak "weather event" warning from the Met Office predictably turned into a full-blown disaster, as once again the nation grinds to a halt gripped by winter fever and global warming jokes come thick and fast. Winter and Discontent sum up the mood. Too little too late. 

Yesterday the Orange Party raised half an eye brow when the Met boys and girls stuck to their politically correct credentials, warning of a "weather event" and refusing to give into the man-made climate change con.

It's not the 'weather' that causes problems. It's the bleedin' blizzards for goodness sake and a country that's been fooled into thinking we live in a stylish Mediterranean culture - the stuff of holidays, dreams and New Labour obsessions. 

BBC on-line 'news' has a pretty little slide show of snowy scenes. There's no business like snow business but you cannot help thinking reports of snow, blizzards and gritters were made through gritted teeth. 

The icy blast  does manage to take the heat off Brown and his unelected deputy Mandelson's betrayal of working people as the pair continue to stoke the fires of anger and industrial unrest spreads across the country.

Here we snow again. Disruption on the roads, railways and airports. Nothing about the poor old pensioners freezing their socks off and the thousands struggling with heating bills. 

At least some folk in Grimsby can wrap up warm with hand-knitted, woolly jumpers, a gift from those kind volke of Iceland who know a thing or two about coping with winter but little about a greed-fuelled economy. 

We live on a tiny island off the northern edge of Europe. Blasted by Siberian winters, if the Arctic blizzards don't get us, the north Atlantic storms will. Protection from a balmy Caribbean gulf stream cuts no ice in a bleak mid winter, when frosty winds do blow and all that. 

Yesterday was Candlemas. But we've been forced to forget this important event of pagan, Christian and country folk and lulled into a false sense of security, wiping out the past and any preparedness for a harsh winter.

So what do we get in its place? A transport infrastructure that can only cope with sunshine and showers. London at a standstill, Portcullis House deserted, parliament grinds to a halt and the department of energy is now the Orwellian 'department of energy and climate change', ramming the misguided message down our throats.   

Iain Dale has a nice climate change anecdote about a Labour MP launching a book at Portcullis House today of all days called: Too Little Too Late - The Politics of Climate Change. 

But the Orange Party's favourite of recent times has been reports of presidential wannabe turned climate change guru, Al Gore, battling through snow storms and blizzards to speak at a conference on - global warming. How we laughed.

Picture: Hellocrazy


Mandy And Brown Stoke Fires Of Anger

Unelected ex-EU fat cat Mandelson, who wormed his way into the heart of government, has the gall to 'speak for the country' with an attack on hard working souls scared stiff about jobs and how to make ends meet. 

The workers revolt is nothing compared to the revolting spectacle of Brown's high and mighty deputy, fanning the flames of angry protest, with Brown behind him. 

As wildcat strikes spread across the country for the second week, Brown has condemned the unofficial action and little else. But he would have say that wouldn't he - he's the prime minister. His weak and limp dronings are part of his natural defence to bury his head in the sand, to 'do his best for jobs' as his misguided "British jobs for British worker's" is thrown back in his face. 

It is his privileged and powerful deputy Mandelson, accusing the strikers of 'protectionism' against EU neighbours which sticks in the throat. Having the downright cheek to suggest workers here should try to get jobs abroad, no doubt forced to wrench themselves away from families and live in squalor, to support Mandy's self-serving EU interests. 

Tell that to the lads on the picket lines who saw their jobs thrown away by a foreign company who used every trick in the EU rule book to bring in cheap labour and then tore the rule book up in their face. 

The Orange Party has warned this is the winter of our discontent as first it was clear the government can't help protect and create jobs and now it seems it won't

The government has been spinning around duping the public, refusing to even admit the looming recession. Now, as the chickens come home to roost, it is stuck in the past, trying to cling on to failed 'boom years' policies while the country falls apart round its ears. 

Mandelson is protecting his idea of 'protectionism' and spinning it around to jobs but protectionism has nothing to do with jobs. Its about free trade and most would agree that free trade within the EU is essential, especially in times of deep recession. But that should not mean a jobs free-for-all. The only people who suffer are the working backbone of this country.

Telling workers if they don't like it they can lump it and go and get jobs elsewhere in the EU, cuts no ice with workers with families and commitments here - and nor should it. What next for the unelected peer who has no voter  to fear? Tell them all to 'get on their bikes'?

Even the neo-liberal trade agreements so beloved of this former EU top dog, allows in cheap imported goods, while UK manufacturing is destroyed. Cheap imported goods is one thing - cheap imported slave labour quite another. 

The strikes are not politically motivated or whipped up by agitators, as a quick glance at the messages on the coordinating website BearFacts show. It is a bitter cry for help by solid workers who feel abandoned by the government in a bitter recession. 

What started as an industrial dispute over illegal jobs contracts at the Lincolnshire Lindsey Oil Refinery has now erupted into full-blown anger at the way this so-called 'Labour' government treats its own workforce with utter contempt. 

Mandelson may genuinely believe in free markets across Europe and bully for him but joining the EU never meant screwing the country's workers, nor an ever-expanding, heavily beaurocratic EU, whose leaders are bent on creating a military and financial super-state for their own power and glory. 

How can two grown men be so politically naive? Local and EU elections are round the corner, so too a general election. Their arrogant actions merely boost the BNP which is already using the dispute to whip up support. 

Backbench Labour rebel MPs led by the likes of Jon Cruddas and Frank Field are speaking out and speaking sense: “Stakes could not be higher,” warns Field. “The men and women on these picket lines are not just fighting for their jobs, they are asserting their national identity. Anger should be directed at this Government.”

Cruddas is shouting from the rooftops with warnings about the dangerous rise of the BNP. 

The Orange Party has stated time and again that none of this mattered during the false boom years with easy credit and easier jobs. Now with a deep Depression hanging over the country, it exposes a government floundering around in disarray, hopelessly out of touch and clinging onto the past. 

Picture: Workers brave blizzards at the Lindsey Oil Refinery (BBC).