Friday, January 08, 2010

Hattie's Driving Me Crazy

Wannabe New Labour leader, Hattie Harman, goes down as the first cabinet minister with a criminal record, after being convicted of careless driving. But Hattie got off lightly, after charges of using a mobile were mysteriously dropped.

You don't have to be posh to be privileged but it helps.

The police probe took a whole four months, even though Hattie famously gave coppers a big clue: I'm Harriet Harman, you know where you can get hold of me.

The commons leader, privy council member, barrister and former solicitor general can add common criminal to her long list of titles with a £350 fine on her record after pleading guilty to careless driving.

But potential charges against 'hit and run Hattie' disappeared into thin air.

The CPS decision to drop a second charge of driving while using a mobile phone will leave motorists scratching their heads. How come Big Sis got off so lightly?

Harman has been convicted of careless driving but the court was told she was using a mobile at the time - a flagrant disregard of the law and public safety.

Careless driving can be punished with a fine of up to £5,000, up to nine points on a driving licence or a driving ban. But Harman was fined just £350, ordered to pay £75 costs and a £15 victim surcharge.

Harman already has six penalty points on her licence after being caught twice speeding in a 30mph zone. She was also today given three points on her licence which is what she would have got for using a mobile on its own. 

In the past, ministers with even a whiff of criminal charges hanging over their heads would step down while police and state prosecutors do their stuff. Not so the deputy party leader, leaving her free to do a bit of plotting.

Even Liberal Hain stood down as work and pensions secretary in the face of a police investigation and is now back in the fold.

As The Times notes: "New Labour’s deputy leader has become the first serving Cabinet minister in living memory to plead guilty to a criminal charge after admitting driving without due care and attention."

Was the minister for wimmin in court for the unprecedented moment? Nah. Hiding behind the now well worn excuse of 'business as usual', Big Sis was at a cabinet meeting in nearby Downing Street.

The siren of the sisterhood was at the centre of a police inquiry in July last year after allegedly crashing into a parked car while talking on her mobile.

Hattie had the cheek to wind down her window, reportedly blurting: "I'm Harriet Harman - you know where you can get hold of me."

The investigation into the incident took four months before the crown prosecution service brought charges in November.

The Orange Party used to have had some respect for Hattie in her lawyer days at the NCCL even though she came from the ranks of the privately educated, privileged toffs.

Landing herself in contempt of court in her 1983 battle with the home office created a landmark legal precedent. Today she's set another one.

What's left for the self-styled champion of civil liberties, equalities and pain in Brown's backside?

All the trappings and arrogance of the ruling political class. One law for decent folk and one bendy rule for the ruling elite. Right on sister Harperson.


Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Back Him Or Sack Him

Beleaguered Brown's leadership is on the line with two ex-cabinet ministers calling on their MPs to back him or sack him. But will a secret ballot sort out the struggling Supreme Leader "once and for all"?

The leadership plot blows out of the water last ditch bids to shore up Liability Brown's paltry position.

The coup bid timing was amazing. Blair's old health secretary Hewitt and defence secretary Hoon texted New Labour MPs urging a ballot while Bunkered Brown was still on his feet at PMQs.

The first couple of weeks in January were always the most dangerous time for the struggling Supreme Leader. No cabinet minister or crony has the guts to call for the PM's head, so it's down to the Parliamentary Labour Party.

Labour loyalist, Barry Sheerman, delivered a Christmas cracker over the break, summing up the mood of the Party and repeating his call for Bunkered Brown to quit.

Time is tight but with an election still officially months away, plotters could install a Blair prop and still fight the election to the carefully planned timetable grid.

With Mandy pulling the strings, Banana Boy Miliband or the Tories worst nightmare of 'Turnabout' Johnson could even pick up a few postal votes.

Cash-strapped New Labour goes into the campaign with the lead weight of Billy-no-mates Brown around their necks dragging them down, with only cabinet couple Balls and Cooper for comfort.

Rumours had been swirling around Westminster on Tuesday that a cabinet minister was on the brink of quitting. Fingered Jowell was forced out of the woodwork to dismiss rumours as "utter rubbish".

As always, Mandy holds the key to Brown's future. Did the H&H letter have Pussycat Peter's pawprints on it?

Significantly Mandy came out of hiding on the very day the leadership rumours started, after spending the Christmas break sulking, dismissing talk of a plot as "pure journalistic invention". So it must have been true then.

Now will Mandy stamp hard on the plotters and try to rally the waiverers like he did last year, wield the knife or simply sit back and watch the coup bid unfold?

The leadership letter, unheard of so close to a general election, fell to bitter Blairites Hewitt and Hoon. Both have Brown axes to grind. Hewitt was Blair's health secretary and left after Brown's successful plot to boot out Blair. Hoon was Blair's defence secretary, passed over for a top EU job by Brown.

There is already speculation that Hoon and Hewitt wacked off the letter as part of a plan to force big beasts like Darling, Mandelson or Straw to force out Brown.

But so far calls for a secret ballot has been backed by only the usual suspects of former education secretary Clarke and former welfare minister Field - neither of them the PM's bosom buddies.

Forget the small fry. Which cabinet ministers will rally to Brown's side, how long will they dither and who will be noticeable by their absence?

The H&H letter contains a glaring admission of a Party in disarray: "As we move towards a General Election it remains the case that the Parliamentary Labour Party is deeply divided over the question of the leadership ... The continued speculation and uncertainty is allowing our opponents to portray us as dispirited and disunited."

Battered Brown looks set to weather the storm and cling on until the bitter end. But a failed coup bid leaves a wretched Party deeply divided with a PM hostage to his own cabinet.

Downing Street will be busy hatching cunning plans to come out fighting with a 'united' front.

But an unelected leader who cannot command the unswerving support of all his parliamentary MPs and ministers in the run up to a general election confirms what voters already know. A Party 'dispirited and disunited' with a lame duck prime minister of a fag-end government.

As the Tories sit back and watch the New Labour sport of tearing itself apart, Cameron's campaign slogan springs to mind: We can't go on like this.


Immigration Still Too Hot To Handle

The political hot potato of immigration is set to be sidelined once again. Instead political parties prefer to burying heads in the sand and ignore one of the key issues on which voters want answers and clear solutions.

A cross party group of MPs is having a stab it today. But as an election issue, it's still too hot to handle.

"Poll after poll shows the public to be deeply concerned about immigration and its impact on our population," says Labour's Frank Field and Tory Nicholas Soames.

The unlikely bedfellows are part of a cross-party group of around 20 MPs and peers backing a campaign calling for curbs on immigration. But calls to make manifesto pledges not to allow the UK's population to exceed 70 million are likely to fall on deaf ears.

At the heart is former minister Field's long held view that unless restricted, current immigration rates will impact on public services and quality of life.

The problems of immigration won't go away. So groups like the BNP will continue to exploit the issue. As Lord Carey points out, uncapped immigration plays into their hands.

What is needed is open and healthy debate. Face up to the consequences of large-scale immigration and the urgent decisions the country needs to make. Fat chance.

The freedom to discuss one of the burning issues of the day has been hi-jacked by a warped sense of political correctness. England is destined to descend into a unrecognisable region of a 'multicultural' EU.

The abuse of our immigration and asylum system and how successive governments have done little about it is scandalous. The consequences grossly unfair to hard working decent people from whatever social or cultural background..

Most recent election campaigns have failed to bring to the fore a crucial issue voters reckon is among the most important facing the country.

The cross-party Balanced Migration Group warns that current levels of immigration into the UK were "unprecedented" and threatened the "future harmony of our society".

The government must "restore control" over the UK's borders and "break the present almost automatic link between coming to Britain and later gaining citizenship".

But that will require far tighter controls on immigration. Setting population targets are deemed 'unrealistic and counter-productive'.

The lies and deceit of 'open door' immigration was laid bare by former Blair speechwriter Neather, who claimed ministers had allowed immigration to rocket.

'Neathergate' blew the lid off a decade of minister's mealy-mouthed denials of a deliberate 'unchecked' immigration policy. An excuse to create a 'multicultural' Britain and rub the Tories noses in it.

The shameful 'unchecked' immigration policy was exposed in a telling probe by The Sunday Times, suggesting the 'smoking gun' of a vote-rigging scam. A deliberate, covert policy to change the country’s demographics, deliberately using 'unchecked' immigration to puff up New Labour share of the voting cake.

The Orange Party has no problems with controlled immigration to the UK for a better life and to alleviate a skilled shortage. But to entice over hapless workers for a pittance to prop up the feel good factor of the false boom years is a despicable act.

A frank admission that immigration is out of control would be a useful place to start.

The current crisis has nothing to do with those who have arrived and settled in the UK. It is centred on the sheer numbers of those still coming whether legally or illegally. The effect on local communities expected to accommodate them and on limited resources is devastating.

The UK's current problems with immigration stems from EU membership. The country has to recover control of its own borders from the EU.

Immigration can improve our standard of living and quality of life. But a line must be drawn somewhere, particularly when uncontrolled immigration robs other countries of their labour force. This does not mean refusing to admit new arrivals. What is needed is a clear policy of balanced migration.

But it is the issues of exploitation and inequality which most galls the Orange Party.

In terms of available land, the UK is not overcrowded. But the vast majority of land is owned by a very few. Royal estates, the MOD and country landowners make up the bulk. Land ownership by the privileged has made the country overcrowded.

The UK has now been accepting about 250,000 immigrants a year since 1997. Yet we have three million unemployed.

Dependence on immigration depresses wages and only helps the bosses. Those who compete with economic migrants in the labour market tend to be 'poor' and on a low wages. Those who employ them tend to be ‘rich’.

The Orange Party rejects the argument that foreign labour is the only alternative if a job is so badly paid no UK worker will do it. The answer is to fight for better pay and improved conditions in those industries.

Last year the Office for National Statistics said if current trends continued, the UK population would rise by 10 million to more than 71.6 million by 2033 - the fastest rise in a century.

The majority of people oppose mass immigration. Yet anyone proposing immigration controls is swiftly branded a 'racist'. A neat device to brush the issue under the carpet. And for this election it seems that is where it will remain.


Monday, January 04, 2010

New Year, New Decade, New Government

Election weary voters face months of petty party posturing with Bottling Brown clinging on until the bitter end. The electorate is being forced to suffer months of meaningless drivel as Downing Street tries to brownbeat the public into submission.

The Orange Party has finally emerged with a monumental hangover after being stranded in a remote snow bound North Yorkshire Moors inn over New Year. Heaven.

Meanwhile, the country has emerged from a decade of disaster and failure, leaving behind a miserable legacy of a stagnant economy, grotesque national debt, horrendous job losses, big government, nanny state and a petty politically correct culture.

New Labour's deceitful con-trick of all style over substance has been exposed as a cheap stunt with has cost the nations dearly. The individual has been forced to play second fiddle to big government.

At last the public can boot out the demons. But not before being force-fed New Labour's last roll of a dirty, dodgy dice in the fog of a phoney war. It only takes a few 'events' to screw up the carefully-planned election grid.

The State and a New Labour government have become disgracefully intertwined. The government thinks it is the state. Through a mixture of arrogance and petulance Brown and his cronies will cling on because 'New Labour knows best'.

Cameron faces a monumental task to unravel the mess.

As Oborne points out: "The New Labour ruling class now has key placemen and women in the civil service, the voluntary sector, the legal profession, the arts world, the intelligence services, the BBC and the quango state which has passed outside democratic control and yet controls so much of our public life."

Cash-strapped New Labour goes into the campaign with the lead weight of Billy-no-mates Brown around their necks, dragging them down with every twist and turn.

The struggling Supreme Leader is left all on his lonesome with only cabinet couple Balls and Cooper for comfort. Labour loyalist, Barry Sheerman, summed up the mood of the Party, repeating his call for Bunkered Brown to quit. But does New Labour have a Plan B?

Polices, U-turns and rapid rebuttals are coming thick and fast with New Labour and Tories competing with publicity stunts and a relentless round of claims and counter claims. All the old favourites are there - expect MPs' sordid love affair with expenses.

Today the Tories focused on a focus group favourite of the NHS to gave the public a first glimpse of a manifesto.

Dreadful Darling set the tone for New Labour, trying to demolish Tory spending plans with what Tories claimed was a "dodgy dossier full of lies". A document drawn up by taxpayer-funded civil servants from FOI requests in Darling's own treasury. What a cheek. All a bit rich considering the vagueness of New Labour’s own spending plans.

Fortunately much of the media isn't buying into New Labour’s spinning line. As Forsyth has pointed out: "When Darling was challenged by the BBC's Nick Robinson to name a single department that would be exempt from cuts under a re-elected Labour government, Darling dodged the question."

In the final 150 or so days, the Orange Party will be looking for cracks and cover-ups. Will the Blairite plotters strike in the January window? When will Mandy stop sulking and come out of hiding? Will he stick in the knife? Will warmongering Blair hit the campaign trail or is he now a liability along with Bunkered Brown?

The Tories stand or fall on Cameron. An heir to Blair or son of Thatcher? Will a great asset in Cuddly Ken be used more, despite the glaring differences? Will Cameron have the guts to drop a couple of weakest links?

Opinion polls will now come into their own but should be treated with a dose of scepticism. Dodgy weightings smack of push polls to sway undecided voters.

If polls do show a consistent magic double digit Tory lead, then Cameron is home and dry. If not then a hung parliament may well be on the cards.

What's certain is that neither Cameron nor Clegg would stomach more of the same old New Labour. And that means whatever the outcome, Brown and his side kick Balls have only a few months left in office.

New Labour's 1997 campaign was a masterstroke of political strategy to capture political power from a public drawn from all walks of life. But the politics of false hope and discredited optimism are over. The public wants a trusted, pragmatic, no nonsense, small government, devoid of spin over substance.

The brutal fact is New Labour has been in office for far too long and run out of steam. After 13 years of misery they have achieving nothing and destroyed a lot. What reasonable person would possibly vote New Labour back in for more?

The country cannot go on like this for much longer. It's time for change. The longer the fag-end government and Beleaguered Brown draw out the electioneering, the more bitter, angry and frustrated the electorate will become.

Top picture: Private Eye