Saturday, August 15, 2009

Barbour Brown Is A Happy Bunny

Barbour Brown is having a field day hiding away while his enemies make silly season fools of themselves. And battered Brown didn't have to lift a nail-bitten finger. From haggard to happy, no wonder the relaxed Supreme Leader is looking so smug.

A couple of wet weeks in Windermere, wherever, was just what the spin doctor ordered. Beleaguered Brown badly needed a holiday - though the Orange Party has always suggested a very, very long one.

Last year's disastrous spot of summer modelling for the Matalan Man catalogue is just a distant memory. Now it's born again Barbour man on staycation with a trusty old waxed jacked, comfy jumpy, cuddly tum and an infuriating smug look on his face.

Sandra Parsons over at the Mail nails it in one: "What a lovely holiday Gordon Brown is having ... The picture of him ... revealed a man utterly at ease with himself and the world."

Someone has fired the starting gun for the general election campaign while the Dear Leader was squirrelled safely out of harm's way. Maybe that's all part of the plan and a sign of things to come?

But Gordon is lovin' it. Sworn enemies and sworn at rivals are dropping like flies.

What pleasure watching wannabe PM, Sister Hattie, getting up everyone's nose banging on about women's things. Right in the middle of measuring up the curtains, Hattie was quickly frog-marched out of Downing Street, to make way for unelected Malicious Mandy magically transformed into Pussycat Peter.

But getting caught out lording it up with his uber-rich pals on a sunbed in the Med, is not the way to run a country and PM was forced to promise he won't make a bid for PM. That won't stop powerful Pierre pulling the strings. Bunkered Brown still needs to watch his back.

The greatest gift was yet to come, with some fancy media Mandy footwork to plug the political gaps during the silly season.

Dunky Duncan's daft video had been gathering dust for months. Dave needed Dunky's rations whinge like a hole in the head.

But cross-patch Cameron stopped short of dumping Dunky despite grassroots Tories calling for his silver-haired head.

Gloating Gordon couldn't believe his luck when Dave had to deal with yet another Tory stepping out of line and up to firing line - this time NHS Hannan, sucked into an unhealthy US civil war and joining in the national sport of slagging off the sacred cow of the NHS.

As Gordon and Sarah, twittered truly, madly, deeply about their love of the good old days, Dave was not far behind, turning any proper debate about healthcare into an NHS slagging match to the refrain of Anything You Can Love, I Can Love Better.

In the battle of the two Andys, likeable Lansley beat boring Burnham hands down. But it says a lot about the new People's 'Progressive' Party when Dave only doles out a slap on the wrist for Dunky's put down of the poor, while desperate Dan's NHS outburst gets him tarred as a "traitor".

The Orange Party believes Cameron has had it all far too easy. In the cut and thrust of day to day politics all he's had to do was sit back and watch the fag-end government tear itself apart and deluded Brown and his bunch of tired old cronies suffocate on their own spin.

Revenge was a dish best served cold in a posh B&B in the Lakes. But it's not all plain sailing.

Sorry to spoil the holiday fun but unlike the crazy world of Gordon Brown, no Tory is calling for Cameron's head and there's the laborious September Party conference leaving party to get through. Goodness knows what cunning plans the Supreme Leaders-in-waiting and their hangers-on are hatching.

There's a real world out there full of hardship, misery and fed-up real people. There's a whole media for the Unelected One to feed and keep on side and some serious spinning to be done.

Barbour Brown should enjoy his holiday while he can.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Dave Ducks Out Of Dumping Dunky

Dave has ducked out of dumping Dunky Duncan after the Rations Rat blew any Tory pretence of being the People's 'Progressive' Party out of the water. Cameron gained the high ground on the MPs' expenses scandal. Now he's in danger of showing his true posh blue colours, refusing to sack Duncan from his shadow post.

Just when Dave managed to duck the Duck House, up popped Dunky, out of the blue, caught on hidden camera, moaning about MPs "living on rations and treated like shit."

But hot of his hols, Cameron has said he will not sack one of his top frontbenchers with the lame excuse: "Alan made a bad mistake and he acknowledges that."

You have to feel sorry for the 'poor' man. There he was, ration book at the ready, spouting forth while sipping a glass of wine on the commons terrace, blissfully unaware his shitty words were being recorded for posterity (see right side-bar).

There's no fool like a silver-haired old fool. The millionaire media-whore craved for a taste of celebrity. Thems what seek the public spotlight set themselves up for newspaper stings, the odd prankster with a cute little camera in his lapel or a spot of political dirty tricks.

And it was all going so well for Team Cameron. The usual summer cat-fight was well underway, with Boy George Osborne getting right up the nose of Pussycat Peter, claiming the Tories were now the "progressive" party. That went deep.

Mandy is not a happy bunny. Time to trash the Tories and dust off a Dunky video which magically appeared out of nowhere.

Progressive? It sounds a bit like someone's just taken the pee out of regressive.

Dave came down on Dunky like a ton of bricks but stopped short of the big E, blissfully unaware that comments like that may just raise an eyebrow in the stockbroker belt but on the coal-face it's class war.

The Tories need gobby fat cats like Duncan like a hole in the head if hard-up voters are to turn to the Tories because they like them rather than suffer daily dollops of Brown sauce.

Nick Cohen put it so well: “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”.

All that on a day when unemployment hit yet another record high, youngsters face a life on the dole and families face a mountain of debt, forced to turn to loan sharks on the high streets and the back streets.

Under orders from a furious boss, Duncan was forced to back-pedal offering an "unreserved" apology. Just the jestful bleating of a millionaire who's trousering a fortune as an MP.

Have I Got News For You, Dunky. No one believes that. You were deadly serious - in a wealthy, privileged sort of way. And the Orange Party reckons there are quite a few MPs of all colours who'd agree - but not naive and immature enough to be caught on camera.

Cameron had managed to gain the high ground on the expenses scandal and the high ground as the general election draws near.

Duncan has shown himself up and shown up his Party. In a class war which is sure to break out as the election draws ever near, would the public vote for a government if Duncan was in the cabinet?

Dave should have returned from hols with a pressy for dear Duncan - a bottle of whisky and a loaded revolver. He should be sacked from his shadow post - a view shared by grassroots Tories.

Instead it's business as usual in the troughing House of Shame and Duncan and his ilk are free to makes even bigger prats of themselves all over again.

Top picture: Duncan having a charity ball with a Prince Charles impression (Guardian)


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Google Launches 'Progressive' Opt-Out

As the press try to tease out a Tory love affair with Google, the internet giant has come over all 'progressive' with a new service which lets privacy critics opt-out and relocate to remote villages.

Tenuous Tory links to Google broke out like a rash today with carefully placed spin in today's papers which centre on Google's Rachel Whetstone, partner of Cameron’s chief strategist, Steve Hilton.

Apparently the Tories can't stop themselves name-dropping Google at the drop of a hat. Whatever next? New Labour and nerdy Microsoft? LibDems and cool Apple?

And in a sure sign the silly season is in full swing, Pussycat Peter had the bare-faced cheek to accuse Boy George Osborne of "cross-dressing" as he tries to paint the Tories as the "progressive party". Mee-Ow.

But Google isn't taking the cat-fight lying down, proving it too can be just as "progressive".

In a move designed to counter critics of the internet giant's every increasing tentacles, now web users who choose to move to the desolate village are guaranteed an environment free from Google products - and natural light from the sun:

Hat-tip: The Onion


Sugar-Coated Apprentice Gimmick Hard To Swallow

Disillusioned youngsters have been left in the lurch after a government apprenticeship 'gimmick' fronted by BBC personality, Alan Sugar, failed to lure them on to meaningless college courses to stave off a life on the dole. Even a spoonful of Sugar couldn't help the Brown medicine go down.

The cunning plan has come unstuck with millions squandered on a gimmick fronted by a TV celebrity rewarded with a peerage for services to celebrity.

A government website set up to boost apprenticeships has been branded an "expensive gimmicky failure" by the Tories after filling a paltry 1,185 vacancies out of the 18,000 advertised, with only one apprentice hired for every 25 vacancies since the website began in January.

Quick to defend the discredited scheme, the Department for Skills resorted to the old trick of comparing like with unlike, pointing out that 225,000 people started an apprenticeship last year compared to 65,000 in 1996-97.

But to compare apprenticeships from the late Nineties to the current flammed up mishmash is highly misleading. As usual, scratch the surface and the spin and hype is not too hard to find. It's all in a name.

Most of the much vaunted 225,000 "apprenticeships" are in fact just college 'programme-led' apprenticeship courses. Way back in 1996/7 similar state-funded "youth training programmes" were not even called apprenticeships.

Then move the goalposts and lower the bar so that lesser qualifications now count as "apprenticeships", as fed-up industry leaders have been quick to point out.

And to cap it all, million of pounds has been squandered on the process rather than the outcome, with a whopping £2.85m a year spent on advertising and promoting the scheme, to little avail.

Sugar, the face of BBC's The Apprentice and now government enterprise tsar, was controversially picked by celebrity obsessed Brown as the face of the pre-election campaign to pluck 400,000 apprentices out of thin air by 2020.

But launching the National Apprenticeship Matching Service earlier this year with a television advertising campaign failed to improve the rate at which young people are placed in work training.

Sugar's appointment and peerage has already got up the nose of the Tories after the BBC in its wisdom reckoned there was no conflict of interest with his BBC TV work and a plumb government job coming as it does so close to a general election. And on top of that Siralan is reported to be threatening to sue Mail sketch writer, Quentin Letts, for having the gall to call him names.

But Brown spin is in a pickle after announcing it would fund an extra 35,000 apprenticeships to tackle the recession depression, at a cost of £140m.

Goodness knows something needs to be done to attract and keep young people into training with meaningful apprenticeships with the promise of a real job at the end of the day.

But a hyped up dodgy gimmick full of style and no substance fronted by a TV personality, who was ennobled as a reward, pulling the wool over young eyes, is no way to go about it.

Apprenticeships are the key to helping young victims of Brown self-inflicted recession. But celebrity gimmicks and silly colleges courses only lull youngsters into a false sense of security. The future lies in directly funded apprenticeship 'places' at the workplace with real support to firms running the schemes.

But faced with a deliberately decimated manufacturing industry and a government still pinning its hopes on a financial and media industry now on its last legs, there's no wonder New Labour is forced to play silly buggers with the hopes and the future of the country's young people.


Monday, August 10, 2009

What's New Pussycat?

Peter the Pussycat is due to arrive back in dear old Blighty to take a firm hand on the tiller of the sinking ship after swanning around with his uber-rich pals in the Med while running the country on his BlackBerry. With a decade of spin and illusion set to go down the pan, it's now all down to unelected Mandy to carry the torch for the dying New Labour brand.

What's new pussycat? It's a sure sign of the silly season when Guardian readers have to suffer a carefully placed puff for Peter as he takes a leaf from Brucie's book to proclaim: "I'm in charge".

Baring all to Decca Aitkenhead, the other Supreme Leader tells how he used to be the "hard man" of New Labour but now "I'm just a pussycat."

New Labour was Mandy's baby. He's not going to let it die without a fight. If that requires a makeover from hard man to kindly pussycat, so be it.

Nothing is placed in the press by Peter without a purpose. The latest spin is just part of the new manipulation strategy to paint the New Labour gang as underdogs in the run up to the general election.

Given the chance of a taste of power, New Labour types always return to type. McCavity Brown is holed up plotting away. Have-a-go Hattie got stuck into the Seventies banging on about women's rights. Now it's the turn of powerful Pierre weaving the magic wand of illusion.

The Orange Party well remembers the deep red rose slowly turning into a more user-friendly lighter shade - a telling and ominous sign of the 'all style and no substance' which has been a hallmark of the last decade.

A hijacked Party was kept going by the superb showmanship of Blair, sinister spin of Campbell, shifty skulduggery of Mandelson and political strategy of Gould.

On the side-lines was deluded Brown, propping up the project with some crafty accounting. He hasn't back stabbed, bullied, smeared and plotted to fulfil his dream of being an elected PM just to let Cameron snatch it all away from him. But the New Labour project is much bigger than Brown. He's expendable. And Mandy will do what it takes.

So it's now down to manipulating Mandy who seemed intent on proving to Guardian readers how much he's changed since he was Blair's "very hard-nosed, uncompromising hard man - sometimes the hit man."

"I think probably the nicest thing I've experienced slightly in contrast to my previous time in government ­ is how warmly my Cabinet colleagues have embraced me." Pull the other one, Peter.

He really should get out more instead of lording it up with the rich kids. But then that's the beauty of pulling a masterstroke and worming your way into an unelected and unaccountable position of power. There are no irritating voters to bother about. No nasty local constituency party. In fact no one to stop you swanning around playing at Mr Big. Nice work if you can get it.

But before Mandy gets completely carried away with his new pussycat persona, the Orange Party would sound a word of caution. Not everyone in the Labour Party loves you, Peter. In fact most would be happy to spit on your grave.

The fag-end government with Brand Brown floundering away is a discredited laughing stock. But to be fair to poor Peter there really isn't anyone with the brains, skill, charm and downright political cunning to carry forward the torch of the New Labour brand.

But the New Labour parrot isn't just resting. It's downright dead. The FT reports how even New Labour MPs have given up the ghost and are not putting themselves forward as a ministerial bag-carrying PPS.

After what seems like a lifetime, voters have finally woken up to the con and won't be taken in by any more spin and hype. Exposed and standing stark naked, soon New Labour will be just a sad and embarrassing footnote in history with an economic and morally bankrupt country as its legacy.

The Labour Party may have died with John Smith but the Orange Party is still clinging to the belief that somewhere buried in the bullshit is a true Labour Party bursting to get out. But it will take the wake up call of a landslide Tory election victory for the Party to finally wake up and see sense.

What is certain is that a leopard cannot change its spots and born again Peter the Pussycat won't be invited to that Party.

Bottom picture: Private Eye


Sunday, August 09, 2009

Put The BBC Out Of Our Misery

Auntie is on her last legs. The BBC is dying. The only way to save the BBC is to strip it of its licence fee, according to Labour's minister of common sense, Frank Field. Fine words but Auntie is actually alive and well and kicking back all the way to the bank, Frank.

The race is on to save public service broadcasting for the nation, according to Field, who offers a breath of fresh air and an elegant solution. But Field has a fatal flaw.

Public service broadcasting isn't dying. But the way it's funded is. And it's not just dear old Auntie. State-owned broadcaster Channel 4 lives on the back of a fat taxpayer's subsidy with a dodgy public service remit tucked way behind Big Brother.

Field's plan is to use the licence fee, albeit greatly reduced, as a source of funding to dole out to a whole range of public service broadcasters. Funding would be channelled through a Broadcasting Commission handing out cash to programme makers as long as they stick within a public service remit.

But a licence fee stealth tax is still a stealth tax no matter how it is dressed up.

And there's no need. Simply levy a tax on all devices capable of receiving a TV signal. Another tax? In fact that happens already. It's called VAT. Use that VAT revenue alone and Bob's your broadcaster.

What is clear is that the days of the dear old BBC as a bastion of public service broadcasting are long gone.

Today it's all about chasing ratings, making fat profits from spin offs, cutting cushy deals and making a £118m profit on a £916m turnover through the BBC Worldwide commercial arm.

The current row over whether to top slice some of the whopping £3.6 billion a year licence fee and hand it over to commercial operators is a red herring and simply puts off the day of reckoning.

Here's an organisation with a guaranteed income on the back of taxpayers hard-earned cash and obscene profits from its commercial enterprises.

But the current argie bargie over the future of the BBC and the future of public service broadcasting in the digital download age is all rather academic.

Downing Street needs to keep the BBC sweet in the run up to the general election - or rather keep BBC broadcast and on-line news on-side and on-message until that election is finally called and strict broadcasting laws over political balance kick in.

But a start could be made with alerting broadcasters how much would be in the kitty if the VAT on TV receivers was to be ring-fenced for public service broadcasting. A true Value Added Tax less painful than the monstrous licence fee.

The only issue is whether Strictly Come Dancing performs a vital public service for celebrities and whether Channel 4's 'Christmas' message from Iran's President Ahmadinejad really can be classed as UK public service broadcasting.