Saturday, June 20, 2009

You Can Do It Gord, Just Walk Away

Battered, bruised and bullet-ridden, a forlorn Brown has opened his heart to Guardian readers saying he could "walk away from office" tomorrow. So why doesn't he?

Admitting he's been "hurt" by personal attacks on him, redacted Brown plays the sympathy card but in politics, crocodile tears rarely work. The public can see through the sham.

There are three kinds of people in this world. Those who say they're going to do something, those who just get on with it. And those who are so bunkered, blinkered and deluded with their own self-serving sense of importance they can never see the truth even if it jumps up and slaps them around the face.

So into which category does the struggling Supreme Leader fit?

In an effort to capture the media high ground, Brown today has a stab at making his case in the Guardian, the very newspaper which not so long ago came out and called for his head.

Skilfully designed to keep their man in the public spotlight and sway opinion polls, Brown actually argues the case for stepping down rather than stepping up to the mark.

Casting coups to the wind, Brown admitted flaws in his leadership, particularly how he presented himself to the public.

"I'm not as great a presenter of information or communicator as I would like to be," said YouTube Brown, adding that he is not skilled at political manoeuvring. But that's a joke. It's the one skill he does have which will be his political downfall.

At a stroke this gets to the heart of the problem facing the Party. Voters are turning to the Tories exactly because Silly Billy Brown is the leader of a fag-end government and a discredited New Labour brand with all the smug arrogance that comes with being in office for far too long.

Dismissing the recent coup attempt by Blairite ministers and backbenchers shows up a mind more interested in petty party politics rather than having the good of the country and the Party at heart.

The threat from the Blairites was a smokescreen and Team Brown know it. Without the overt support of their man Blair it could never succeed.

According to Oborne the deal has been struck between Cameron and Blair: Dave wouldn't stand in the way of Tony's quest to be EU president - if Tony promises to keep his nose out of Brown politics and give the Tories a clear run.

But the threat to the Brown camp is there. It is real. It comes from true Labour Party backbenchers who ducked out of the coup attempt in the misguided belief they could change both Brown and policy from within. Now reality could set in at September's Labour leaving Party conference.

Brown just doesn't get it and never will. He's stuck in the past. Way back to the days of John Smith. But times have changed and so too what is expected of a political leader in the new dawn of a very politically savvy public.

A political party needs someone at the front who's got a bit of personality, a bit of charisma and someone who's language connects with ordinary people.

Blair showed how it could be done. Obama followed and Cameron is having a stab at it. That's why heir-to-Blair Cameron will succeed where Brown never can.

How back-seat Brown must hate Dave's Blairish charm. Someone with the very qualities he despised in Blair now showing themselves in Cameron. Someone who has the very gift he so clearly lacks.

The danger comes when the language is exposed as a sham of empty hollow words, a shaman with a messianic message. Only fooling some of the people some of the time. For Brown, without trust, hope fades away, without charm, rhetoric bores the pants off people.

The real tragedy of Brown is it's all a con. Brown is personality driven. Bringing back Lordy Mandy, celebrity goats like Surrallan Sugar and now his own Campbell style spin doctor in the shape of suave Simon Lewis.

Amazingly the Mandy line is developed with gusto for Guardianistas. Apparently the Labour Party had "finally come round" to Mandelson, with Brown adding that he felt "there's a great affection for him now" (sic).

There's a "common purpose" (more sic) between Mandy and Billy no mates Brown apparently, oblivious to the harsh reality of life that Mandy is propping him up but only while it suits him.

When the price is right, he'll cast him off like an old sock.

Meanwhile the long-suffering public are left having to put up with all the clap-trap for months to come. Nothing but spin and hype in a phoney election war.

Revealing the three pronged election strategy - success in handling the economy, tackling MPs' expenses and nasty Tory cuts - all three claims are riddled with lies and deceit.

Sadly the poor prime minister said he found it hard to focus on strategic planning "as you have to deal with immediate events, like if a bank's going to go under". But isn't that what voters expect from a leader?

So that's it. A world-weary Brown. A prime minister who would rather hide away in the bunker, plotting how to wrong foot his opponents rather than deal with life's little irritants - the very irritants which have a real effect on real people in the real world.

Totally lacking the ability to inspire, Brown's tragedy is that you cannot teach an old dog news tricks. Just walking away with some dignity now would give him some respect. The Party and the country would breath a collective sigh of relief.

But will he do it? Will he heck. Busy, busy, busy plotting and penning political suicide notes as deluded Brown tries to get back in Guardian readers' good books.

Top picture: Guardian (redacted). Mid picture: Mail


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Spoonful Of Brown Sugar Helps Medicine Go Down

Knighted businessman turned TV presenter turned Brown goat, Sir Alan Sugar, has got the go-ahead to continue his bully boy tactics on Brown's BBC while waiting in line as one of Brown's peers brought in to advise on a central plank of government policy. The state broadcaster reckons there's no conflict of interest.

Slipped in while everyone was busy looking at what MPs had bunged on expenses, Surallan Sugar has been given the BBC's blessing and backing and will continue to front Auntie's The Apprentice, despite concerns over his new role working for the government as an "enterprise tsar".

According to the BBC, Sir Alan would not be making or endorsing government policy and the corporation also stressed that Sir Alan would hold off from all public activity in his governmental role while promoting and presenting the TV series.

Which begs the question what will he be doing for his peerage?

Surrallan came under fire from Tories after he accepted a Brown nose job as Enterprise Tzar as well as a cushy peerage.

The Tories argued the state broadcaster's stars should be politically neutral. But the Beeb has decided in its infinite wisdom his new role as a government adviser would "not compromise the BBC's impartiality".

Shadow culture secretary Jeremy Hunt had called Sir Alan's role "totally incompatible" with BBC rules and described today's statement "an outrageous piece of media management by the BBC".

"Slipping this letter out when the media is focused on MPs' expenses is simply staggering," he said adding that the DGs justification for retaining Sir Alan were "riddled with inconsistencies".

A peerage is expected to follow Sir Alan's appointment as Enterprise Champion, announced as part of bullet-ridden Brown's botched cabinet reshuffle earlier this month.

What is it with starry-eyed Brown's obsession with the cult of personality? Has he got so little of his own that he's got to bribe people with peerages in the hope some rubs off on him?

A Private Eye reader asks if anyone spotted the resemblance between a tragically departed comedian and occasional magician and the late great Tommy Cooper?

The sixth series of The Apprentice is expected to be broadcast around general election time in spring 2010, unless the struggling Supreme Leader is booted out beforehand. Just like that.

Top Picture: Private Eye front cover


MPs Play Blankety Blank At Taxpayers' Expense

Taxpayers have been left with a Westminster game of Blankety Blank as the MPs' expenses sham has been begrudgedly dragged screaming and kicking online. Making a mockery of any pretence at openness, the public will get a little from today's squalid exercise in deception. Still left wondering where all their cash was spent.

Journalists and the public swinging over to the parliamentary web site to find out what MPs have been up to with their hard-earned cash shouldn't get too excited. It's all there in black and white. Just a little too much black.

Hundreds of thousands of carefully censored documents setting out some details of MPs’ expenses claims have been published with details dutifully blanked out. What's not there is more interesting than what is. But there are quite a few juicy titbits festering away in the pdfs. PoliticsHome is rounding them up.

The best 'bung it all on expenses' so far? Bashful Brown claimed £176.25 for a CD of photographs of himself. Wannabe orator Osborne claimed £47 for a DVD of his own speech.

The extraordinary lengths MPs have gone to hide their shabby dealings holds no bounds.

Vast swathes of information have been blacked out, in particular crucial addresses which would allow taxpayers to see how expenses had been fiddled and second homes flipped.

MPs were given weeks to pour over the exes-files and blackout information, with an army of security consultants brought in to cut out “sensitive” information and help blank out the gory embarrassing details.

Without full details of crucial addresses many of the Telegraph revelations would still be secret, including the squalid practice of "flipping" second homes to make a mint out of claims.

Today's blackout blanks out all rejected claims and their addresses and at a stroke disguises the extent to which some MPs used the flippin' flipping fiddle.

Blanked out too are the heartfelt pleas between MPs and the commons fees office to try to twist their arm over a claim. Rejected claims, such as the Remembrance Sunday wreaths, don't see the light of day. So just what did triple flipping Balls have to say on his and wife Yvette's claim forms? (opposite, click to enlarge). ConservativeHome is on their case.

Today's pointless PR exercise in 'openness' is a sham.

If the public had been left to rely on today's deceit, the fiddle over identifying the home flipping and the avoidance of capital gains tax would never have been exposed. Without the Telegraph's stirling job using uncensored claims, taxpayers would have been left in the dark, none the wiser.

And it gets worse. It's reported the commons won't be publishing documents relating to MPs who have since left the House. So that should let Lord Mandy and Boris off the hook. Some of Blair's expense claims have been mysteriously 'accidentally shredded' already - and he claimed for the shredding on expenses!

The shame list of fiddling MPs has been endless as crooks, spivs and chancers were exposed in a relentless Telegraph campaign.

The publication comes hard on the heels of the latest fiddler, treasury minister Kitty Ussher, ushered out following allegations that she avoided paying capital gains tax by "flipping" her second home. More are sure to follow sure as golden eggs is rotten eggs.

Meanwhile her serial flipping boss Darling got off Scot free and has managed cling onto his job by the skin of his teeth.

If today's blanked out claims was all the Telegraph and taxpayers had to work on, then MPs like Ussher would still be in their cushy jobs and bleating Blears, up to her neck in a similar CGT scam, wouldn't be facing constituency de-selection.

Freedom of information campaigner Heather Brooke kicked the ball off fighting tooth and nail for the expenses to be published. The High Court agreed. But those with most to hide didn't, leaving the shameful spectacle of a government and its stooges blocking the details.

Time and again taxpayers have to suffer boring Brown repeating the tired old mantra of openness and transparency - a root and branch reform of parliament. Today's publication exposes the deceit behind those weasel words.

It could have been so different if MPs had the guts to be honest and tried not to hide their greed.

It's now nearly a year since Bunkered Brown didn't turn up to vote, leaving 33 ministers to throw out a string of reforms and vote to keep themselves in the lap of luxury, despite the best efforts of Cameron's whipped shadow cabinet to support the reforms, ending in the sham of today's game of Blankety Blank.

But all is not lost. The Telegraph plans to publish a Saturday supplement of all MPs' expenses and Downing Street has set up a helpline for distressed MPs. Bless.


Monday, June 15, 2009

Iraq Inquiry Stitch-Up Then Whitewash

Any pretence of a born-again Brown has been blown out of the water with the lies, deceits and cover-ups over the illegal Iraq war set to continue. A secret stitched-up inquiry will treat people like mushrooms - kept in the dark and fed on shit.

Philip Cooper, whose son Jamie was the youngest soldier seriously injured in Iraq, told the Observer yesterday: "Ministers should not treat us like us mushrooms - kept in the dark and fed on shit".

But that's exactly what has happened, as Brown's grandstanding talk of "reforming politics" and transparency have been revealed as cheap words and a hollow sham.

An inquiry into the disgrace of a war is set to take a full year until after the general election before the public are any the wiser. Leaving only a festering reminder of a fag-end government. Crucially it will not have powers to subpoena witnesses under oath.

Now once again a bunch of faceless cronies will be locked behind closed doors in secret while the public is kept in the dark waiting for another whitewash.

The shameful legacy of events leading to war has left many with blood on their hands, not least a disgraced two-faced ex-prime minister Blair and his "taste for war". A bloody six-year battle which left 179 UK servicemen and women dead and God only knows how many innocent Iraqi men, women and children.

But as chancellor, Brown not only supported the deceit but also authorised the war which cost taxpayers around £6.5 billion and an endless loss of lives on all sides.

Still unresolved is the squalid part played by New Labour chief spin doctor Alistair Campbell over sexed-up dossiers and invisible Weapons of Mass Destruction and the death of government scientist Dr David Kelly. The whitewash of the Hutton inquiry still sticks in many people's throats and looks set to continue.

But at the heart is the still raw anguish of the families of brave servicemen and women whose loved ones were sent to a bloody war ill-equipped and duped into the Iraq killing fields on the back of a pack of lies and deceit.

Announcing the new inquiry Brown said its structure would be similar to the Franks inquiry into the 1982 Falklands war, which was held behind closed doors and branded a "whitewash" by the then Labour opposition.

That is no justification for keeping this inquiry secret.

Few are under any illusions. The events leading up to the Iraq war and its awful aftermath was undoubtedly the worst policy mistake made by any UK government since Suez. Its dreadful legacy still fresh in many people's minds.

At issue is the legality and how the wool was pulled over everyone's eyes. Regime change and overthrowing Saddam's rotten regime was not the issue and wouldn't stand up to international legal scrutiny.

Instead it is the smokescreen of WMDs which will be buried under the new smokescreen of secrecy.

The legality of a war based on the discredited claim that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction which could be used within 45 minutes, a sexed-up dossier, a cabinet which hardly discussed Blair's war and a parliament which was conned with lies, lies and more lies. A BBC and a then campaigning Daily Mirror (opposite) which put brave heads above the parapet.

True Labour 'rebel' MPs have been let down and were expecting more than this sham. LibDems are disgusted.

Leader Nick Clegg has already said if Brown holds it all or partly in secret and kicks the eventual report into the long grass, "it will be a betrayal of all those families who lost children serving in Iraq. They need answers, not another Whitehall stitch-up."

The least Brown could have done was to throw open a new inquiry to the public and in particular families of soldiers who died. To hide behind the smokescreen of secrecy is an insult.

An inquiry of some sorts has always been on the cards. The whole shameful episode needs the disinfectant of the public spotlight. It's the timing too which is galling.

Using the inquiry as part of a personal political fight-back and to curry favour with true Labour backbenchers is playing a dirty little trick which fools no-one.

Only last year the government stalled Tory attempts to force a public inquiry. In February justice secretary Jack Straw vetoed publication of minutes of cabinet meetings discussing the legality of the war.

Just what is the point of an inquiry behind closed doors? No family, no MP with a heart or a conscience would be happy with that. They have already been lied to by the government. The time for lying should be over.

If the expenses scandal taught Brown and MPs anything is should have been that now is the time for honesty and open government.

Today's stitched-up secret inquiry with a whitewash outcome in a year's time just puts the clocks back to the bad old days of New Labour lies, deceit and spin.

Top/Middle picture: Private Eye. Bottom picture: Daily Mirror 2003


Silly Billy No Mates Brown

Casting caution and Blears to the wind, Silly Billy Brown has come up with another YouTube video, with an impression of Rory Bremner. And Billy-no-mates Brown has popped up on Facebook with only Mandy for a new best friend.

Silly Billy Brown's excruciating YouTube video was always going to be a gift to satirists and Rory Bremner has got all the ducking and a-divin' down to a tee. As some politicians have remarked already, 'Bremner, Bird and Fortune' would be funny if it wasn't all so damn true.

Now to cap it all, Billy-no-mates Brown has a Facebook page paid for by taxpayers, with only Mandy the Magnificent signing up to be Brown's new best friend. How many more cronies and yes men will have their arms twisted over the next few weeks to join the Brown party?

Today it's still the battle of the cuts and chancellors as sour-graped Balls pushes out Darling and takes time out from his busy schedule ducking responsibility for the Sats fiasco and Baby P scandal to offer a few words on the spat which should be taken at best with a large dollop of Brown sauce and at worse as a pack of lies.

Cut through the crap, tell it how it is. Voters are big enough to take it. That's what shadow chancellor Osborne's masterclass in The Times has done, with a refreshing call for honesty over dishonesty. Now it's New Labour on the back-foot as the schoolboy Mr 10% jibe heads nowhere.

Still bored? Then the Orange Party recommends Philip Johnson's excellent demolition job on the festering New Labour project and a portrait of Brown as a man convinced of his own rectitude.

To surmise that Brown will disappear up his own false rectitude isn't so far off the mark.

Today the struggling Supreme Leader is due to announce details of the long-awaited inquiry into what ranks as the most disgusting and shameful of all Blair's legacies - the Iraq war, as part of the born-again-Brown campaign.

If there's even a whiff that will be held in secret and doesn't have powers to subpoena witnesses under oath - it's a sham. Another pack of lies, deceits and cover-ups which will do nothing to assuage true Labour rebels and LibDems.

A shameful piece of party politicking that will bring only disgust from the families of servicemen and women sent to war ill-equipped on the back of a pack of lies.

YouTube: Clip from 'Bremner, Bird and Fortune', C4
HatTip: Dizzy
Axe graphic: News of the World