Saturday, February 27, 2010

Honesty Is The Best Election Policy

Daring new honesty policies have been unveiled as lacklustre leaders left floundering in a fog of fudge try a new tack to woo voters. Leading the charge is Honest Joes Osborne and Darling going head to head in the cuts honesty stakes. Suddenly honesty is the best policy.

Boy George and Dopey Darling were so last year.

Honest Osborne has managed to stick to his cutting guns, despite relentless attacks from enemies in the City and media, steadfastly sticking to his promise to put cutting debt at the heart of the Tory election campaign.

Now Blunt Byrne over at Dreadful Darling's treasury tells The Times: “We’ve got to be still clearer and blunter about where the cuts are going to come from,” disclosing details of a behind the scenes secret mini spending round.

"Even hospitals to feel the axe as Treasury struggles to saves £11 billion", reports The Times disclosing Bruiser Byrne has been "summoning cabinet colleagues and signing them up to large cuts in their running costs, from consultancy and energy efficiency to better use of online systems."

The Orange Party long suspected secret cutbacks were being brought in through the back door while Borrowing Brown and side-kick Blinky Balls were left borrowing, spending and spinning.

Back in the Mandy camp, the real Supreme Leader had started the ball rolling, delivering an early Christmas present to universities announcing swinging cuts. The only minister who could afford to come out and come clean because he's unelected.

With international moneylenders poised to pull the plug on Borrowing Brown, the government could not be seen to be dragging its feet on cutting the record £178 billion deficit. £200 billion of funny money swilling around is enough to send anyone into recession depression.

But the cash-strapped Party needed to spin a public sector spending line to keep unions sweet and play politics to paint the Tories as the nasty party. While all the time pushing on the back door to keep moneylenders sweet.

Now Demob Happy Darling has been freed to unleash his own 'forces of hell' on Whitehall and in the budget knowing full well he cannot be booted out of the treasury this side of the election.

The Orange Party has warmed to Gladiator Darling after he unleashed hell with the guts to spill the beans on the ruthless bunch of Downing Street reservoir dogs who hound out anyone who dares to cross the spinning line.

But how long has New Labour been spinning the sham it won't be cutting spending in 2010 for fear of damaging the economy? If only Brown Balls could have found an ounce of honesty.

For a time honesty was the best policy of Cameron's conservatives - in fact the only policy.

Cool Cameron had the election in the bag until the weak demented jellyfish started wobbling around over the EU referendum and cuts climbdown. Now fighting a rearguard action to regain the high ground. And facing an uphill battle as commissioned push polls with dodgy weightings and samples set the election narrative and agenda.

But as the Tory election campaign moves up a gear, Brown's BBC is breathing a sigh of earthquake relief as Dave makes a big splash in Brighton. Flamming up the "Small Earthquake in Chile. Not many Dead" headline which would have made Cockburn proud and desperately seeking rent-a-sob for the human touch.

All a far cry from a Brown sauce future fair splashed across last Saturday's bulletins to take the heat off Bullygate.

Down-in-the-dumps Dave needs to be brutally clear and honest, tell voters the truth and sack the election strategy guru who came up with muddled messages just as confused voters were deserting the New Labour sham in droves.

The Tory election 'vote for change' slogan unveiled at Brighton smacks of the politics of false hope used by the Obamacon campaign to dupe US voters. But here 'change' may just chime with an edgy public increasingly angry, frustrated and uninterested in carefully crafted nuances of policy and meaningless slogans.

An unhappy public, worried sick about jobs and a sick society, blames the status quo. They are crying out for change. And that means a dose of reality and real change from the current fag-end government.

Honesty is the best policy but when it comes to telling porkies, the finger of suspicion points to Beaming Brown. Anything is better than being taken for a five year ride on the 'Future Fair'.


Friday, February 26, 2010

How Many More 'Failures' Can Voters Take?

Lethal legacies of failures are coming back to haunt New Labour ministers, yet hypocrites hide behind a shield of spin, blaming everyone but themselves. How many more failures can weary voters take before realising it's not us - it's them.

Today it is more damning news on a dire economy limping along with frail and fragile failure despite all the Borrowing Brown sauce.

On Wednesday it was damning inquiry on needless deaths at Stafford hospital failed by an obsession with targets and trusts and shrouded in secrecy.

Yesterday the release of an equally damning ruling on a seven-year-old girl starved to death by her mother and failed by useless child protection.

Failures that let a seven year old girl starve to death were 'beyond belief' ruled a judge, with frightening echoes and damning parallels of the scandal of Baby Peter whose months of abuse and suffering caused a national outrage.

The secret ruling made last year laid bare the failures of local social services and welfare officers. Khyra would still be alive if officials had done their job, said the judge in a ruling released yesterday.

But that pragmatic and damning ruling was delivered without underpinning a political dimension outside the remit of the judiciary.

Khyra was failed by misguided political correctness and grossly overstretched social services and child protection teams. Loopholes in home education laws are only now set to be plugged.

Staff were brushed off and backed off amid fears of getting too involved in racial or religious issues when the protection of a vulnerable child should always be paramount.

And all this came on the 10th anniversary of the death of Victoria Climbie - the eight-year-old also failed by social services and starved to death, signalling the start of a decade of disaster and failures.

Meanwhile one of the worst scandals to hit the NHS is being brushed under the carpet with the devastating report into the Stafford Hospital disgrace laying bare a decade of New Labour's failure buried in secrecy and bullshit.

The arrogant response from ministers is to say 'sorry' but they steadfastly refuse to own up to their failures and mistakes.

Burying their heads in the sand, sweeping it under the carpet, forgetting about the pain, suffering and deaths. A tick-box and league table obsession and quango crony culture. Ministers hiding behind the lame excuse of not being accountable or responsible.

Burnham apologised for the appalling failings at what has been branded a 'Third World' hospital. Balls apologised for the "pain and anguish" caused in the Baby Peter scandal. And now young Khyra. What is the solution? Another round of useless reviews. How many lessons does it take before lessons are learned.

Deluded ministers reject suggestions any of their half-baked policies contribute to the problems in hospitals and child protection and are in any way to blame for the deaths of innocent patients or children. Instead blame it all on the staff.

As with the Baby Peter scandal, when Balls refused to shoulder any of the blame, ministers can play the blame game and pass the buck on to someone else. Time and again reports cite low staffing levels, inadequate and inexperienced staff, lack of leadership, poor training and ineffective systems for identifying when things go wrong. And that's down to government.

Once again the target driven, politically correct obsessed culture has been exposed as a sham, where ministers and managers are obsessed with the process rather than the outcome. A process where, if everything looks right on paper, then it must be alright.

Where managers spend their time looking over their shoulders sucking up to the very government ministers who hide away from responsibility.

Ministers have lost their grip on reality, preferring to drum up flagging support with meaningless message driven slogans. Slogans get in the way of reality, when people suffer and die as a direct result of those miserable ideals. A shocking indictment of a blind discredited vision which should be confined to the scrap heap, before any more pointless deaths.

There's something very sick about a government which allows its hospitals to kill patients and its child protection policies to kill vulnerable children then bury its head in the sand in denial, refusing to accept any responsibility or share the burden of blame.

A decade of disaster and failure and dreadful economic gloom. The economy's under the spotlight again with revised GDP figures showing the country limped 'out' of recession by a whopping 0.3 percent, rather than the piddling 0.1 percent in the last quarter of last year. If anyone dares to spin this as "good news", the Orange Party will have a duck fit.

Even that itsy bitsy teenie weenie upward revision to the official figures is meaningless. The rigged figures included for the first time 'government spending', using the freshly printed funny money, making a mockery of any spin that the recession depression is anywhere near over.

The economy has contracted by a massive six percent since the recession began - the deepest decline in donkey's years. A 'double dip' recession could still be on the cards for St George's Day.

Political strategists should be urging Bottling Brown to come off the fence and name the day soon before another fine mess and futile failure blows up in his face.

Khyra/Baby Peter graphic: Telegraph
Cartoon: Scarfe, Sunday Times


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Killing Hospital Patients Should Be A Crime

One of the worst scandals to hit the NHS is being brushed under the carpet. The devastating report into the Stafford Hospital disgrace laid bare a decade of New Labour's failure buried in secrecy and half-baked bullshit.

A tick-box and league table obsession and quango crony culture. Trust bosses and quango fat cats allowed to get off scot free. Ministers hiding behind the lame excuse of not being accountable or responsible.

There's something sick about a government which sits back and allows its hospitals to kill patients all in the name of progress.

Up to 1,200 patients at Stafford Hospital died unnecessarily because of appalling care. Up to 1,200 people lost their lives needlessly because the NHS Trust put government targets and cost-cutting ahead of patient care. The damning report on a catalogue of failure and failings of care is horrifying.

The Guardian sums up the horror and the failure: "The report paints a detailed picture of failure, neglect, insensitivity, chronic ineptitude and poor decision-making."

A bullying culture pervaded the hospital in a bid to cut staff and slash costs as hospital bosses struck fear into staff and ignored patients to gain precious trust status. Whistleblowers were silenced as a veil of secrecy surrounded the hospital.

The Orange Party has been disgusted at the sick state of hospitals with Hospitals' Dirty Secrets Uncovered. The dirty underbelly lurking beneath New Labour's shiny new temples to the NHS are laid bare in shocking indictments of patient care riddled with Third World filth and neglect.

Stafford Hospital hit the headlines last year with a Healthcare Commission report claiming patients had been "dying needlessly" and put the number of excess deaths at more than 400.

Now that failure has been exposed in a damning Stafford inquiry, finding that sick and dying patients were 'routinely neglected', subjected to 'inhumane treatment', 'bullying', 'abuse' and 'rudeness' with a management preoccupied with cost-cutting.

Health secretary Burnham trotted out the usual lines saying there could be "no excuses" for the failings. Apologies do nothing for the grief of relatives who have lost loved ones. The failings are the direct result of New Labour's half-baked hospital policies.

The Orange Party noted last March how a lethal legacy of misguided failures is coming back to haunt New Labour's hapless hypocrites.

Spinning the Burnham lie "this was ultimately a local failure" and promising to "learn the lessons" is now common place when ministers try to dig themselves out of a mess of their own making.

Patients were 'routinely neglected' at an NHS hospital where hundreds died in squalor. Yet not a single official has been disciplined. Does Burnham do the honourable thing and quit? No, he orders another useless review.

One look at the Stafford timeline and the Orange Party is sure where the blame lies.

Hospitals are bogged down with a management structure obsessed with targets and obsessed with making ends meet to pay for the legacy of a PFI build and gaining trust status.

An overburdened administrative structure is more bothered about feathering the nests of quango cronies, where the outcome - saving lives and medical care - plays second fiddle to the 'process' of delivery and the tick-box target culture.

Grave lapses in standards of care were highlighted last year year at the Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust in what families described as "Third World" conditions, with some patients drinking water from vases and lying for hours in soiled bedding.

The sheer scale of problems at Stafford might well have been unique but failures in nursing care and the hospital system are not.

An urgent review of all basic hospital care was demanded way back last August by a leading patient lobby group after a horrifying report report exposed "appalling" NHS standards.

Relatives told the Patients Association how patients, often the elderly, were left lying in faeces and urine and were not helped to eat. The report focused on 16 harrowing accounts of basic nursing and domiciliary care which the association says are just a tip of the iceberg.

But nursing bureaucrats tried to put a lid on it, repeating the bullshit mantra that the report may undermine public confidence in the "world-class" care and dampen staff morale.

Relatives of Stafford hospital patients say many questions still remained unanswered. But ministers have refused calls for a full blown public inquiry.

'Monitoring' the hospital proved meaningless. A primary care trust, strategic health authority and host of patient quangos and agencies failed to picked up problems staring them in the face. Amazingly the trust which runs the hospital climbed up the NHS ratings and was awarded the foundation trust status seal of approval, signed off by Burnham.

Politicians are quick to fall over themselves professing their undying love for the dear old NHS but stifle proper scrutiny over the NHS and health care, leaving the NHS to lose its way.

The NHS may well be "world-class" when it comes to medical treatment but when it comes to standards of care, it's down there with the dross.

Once a byword for "free" medical care for all at the point of delivery, billions of pounds are now squandered on useless PR health puffs and an NHS more akin to a public health education authority rather than a health service treating and caring for people according to their medical needs.

Cash which should be going into patent care is being used to prop up and massage the egos of government ministers and quango cronies playing politics with the NHS and people's lives.

Julie Bailey, whose mother died at the hospital and the founder of the victims' campaign group Cure the NHS, says the secrecy is an insult. The handling of the scandal had been "disgraceful and unacceptable".

Condemning the report as a whitewash and absolutely outrageous she said: "It is time that the public were told the truth about the very large number of excess deaths of patients in NHS care and the very large number of avoidable but deadly errors that occur in NHS hospitals every day."

Top picture: Relatives of patients from Stafford hospital
Bottom insert: Mail


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Darling's Revenge Dish Served Cold

Demob happy Darling has served up his cold revenge in an outspoken TV interview, claiming Bully Boy Brown's henchmen unleashed "the forces of hell" against him for daring to tell the truth over the dire economy. Confirmation from Brown's own chancellor that attack dogs were ordered to brief against him. Revenge is a dish best served cold.

In Rawnsley's bombshell book The End of the Party Darling's wife, Maggie, is quoted: "The f*cking c*nts are trying to stitch up Alistair!"

Though Darling now seems to be suffering from a bout of amnesia over the 'fruity' language.

Claims that top civil servant O'Donnell warned Bullying Brown about his treatment of staff. Now claims that henchmen, McBride and Whelan, led briefings against Darling.

Bullying Brown presided over a regime which even involved attempts to bully his chancellor. McPoison runs through the blood of Downing Street.

What galls the Orange Party is that some Fleet Street hacks and lobby cronies still suck up to this ruthless bunch of reservoir dogs and take their cue from Brown henchmen.

Brown unleashed “the forces of hell” on Darling after he warned in a 2008 Guardian interview the country faced the worst recession for 60 years.

In a remarkably frank TV interview, Darling pointed the finger at Brown's former spin doctor McBride, who was forced to quit last year over Smeargate and a planned dirty tricks campaign against top Tories.

The timing of Daring Darling's decision to spill the beans on the bullies is decidedly odd.

Darling must have gone into Tuesday's interview knowing full well a Bullygate question was on the cards and could have flanneled around. Instead, on his command he 'unleashed hell'.

Perhaps it's a ploy to get his own way over the budget. Or he's just an ardent Gladiator fan. But bully for him.

The Guardian interview raised quite a few eyebrows after Decca Aitkenhead popped over to see Darling at his Isle of Lewis holiday home.

“I remember the weekend after we came back and I’d done this interview and the forces of hell were unleashed,” he told Jeff Randall on Sky News.

The Brown sauce spinners have been working overtime to put a lid on Bullygate trying every trick in the book to refute Rawnsley's allegations that Brown bullies his staff.

But Darling's comments support another of Rawnsley's claims - that McBride had tried to knife him in the back, "spreading poison" about Darling following the Guardian article.

When pressed on whether two key Brown allies at the time - McBride and ex-Brown press chief, Whelan - might have been the culprits, Darling replied: Frankly, my best answer for them is: I'm still here. One of them is not.”

For the Tories it's manna from heaven, jumping on Bullying Brown's tight cabal of henchmen: The "happy and united team" has been blown apart. 

The Orange Party believes Darling is a decent soul if a tad misguided. How he must hate working with a bunch of thugs.

And how he must have hated the Brown Balls briefings against him last summer, when the struggling Supreme Leader tried to ditch him for pal Balls.

And how he must hate the fact that his dire economic predictions turned out to be so correct:

"What I do know is, unfortunately - and it's not a great source of pleasure - but what I said did turn out to be true."

Team Brown will be furious that Darling has stoked up the Bully Boy Brown fire, further fuelling Rawnsley allegations that he is a bully, just as it seemed Bullygate had lost its legs.

For the Orange Party the appalling last straw was Woolas' attack on the unfortunately named Mrs Pratt, calling her "that prat of a woman". Bullying the boss of an anti-bullying charity who spilled the beans on the climate of fear in Brown's office.

Bully Boy Brown? Oh, You Nasty Man.

Scandals, they're everywhere, They're in the air and who put them there, You, you and you, you nasty man...

Mid cartoon: Peter Brookes, The Times
'Oh, You Nasty Man'. Alice Faye's risque performance (1934).


Monday, February 22, 2010

Spinners Try To Batten Down Bullygate

Brown sauce spinners are trying to keep a lid on Bullygate with botched-up blundering over 'Bully Boy' Brown and an anti-bullying boss bullied by Brown's bidders, after blistering bombshells blew up the Bunker.

Downing Street had weeks to set up lines of defence after a carefully planted spoiler in the Mos to steal Rawnsley's thunder, with claims 'Bully Boy' Brown bashed people around. Easy-peasy to deny.

Only Rawnsley made no such claims in his aptly named new book The End of the Party, sensationally serialised in the Observer.

Publishers had kept the best bit under wraps. Instead it was Rawnsley's shocking revelation over the civil service head honcho's "own investigations" giving "a verbal warning" to Bullying Brown which knocked the wind out of their sails.

Spinning like a top, denials of a "formal investigation" came thick and fast. Only Rawnsley never claimed such a formal investigation has been made.

Ministers waited on Mandy for the line to take, eventually trotted out to try to kill the story stone dead. Bully for them.

But the damage had been done. Downing Street denials were too much for anti-bullying boss, Pratt, who spilled the beans to the BBC claiming Brown staff had contacted her 'National Bullying Helpline' for an anxious helpful chat.

The lid had blown off the 24 hour news cycle and Tucker's first rule of news management blown out of the water. Bullygate had crossed over to Monday with a Thundering bang and a scorcher from sibling Sun.

Desperate bids to paint Pratt as a Tory plant over Conservative endorsements of the anti-bullying helpline didn't stand up. The charity is backed by Mandy's department. Whoops.

Relentless stooge smears continued. Brown's bag carrier PPS Snelgrove was wheeled out to stick up for her boss.

Dirty tricks or what. Isn't this the same Snelgrove well-known for her 'unflagging loyalty to government ministers'? Praising Prescott to the hilt after his diary secretary affair and earning her Private Eye's "OBN" (Order of the Brown Nose). Yup.

It seems Snelgrove has history with Pratt but fell out after a spat. Time to try another line from the pages of Damage Limitation Weakly.

Try on a 'breach of confidentiality' to shut her up. An email whacked off by Brown's disgraced ex-home secretary Smith should do the trick. Only it didn't. The boss of an anti-bullying charity was not going to be bullied. Pratt was not going to live up to her name, having none of it on the Today prog.

In a last ditch bid at damage limitation, one of the anti-bullying helpline 'patrons', prof Cary Cooper, quit over claims of a breach of confidentiality. Which is strange because Pratt had not and would not finger anyone by name.

Is this the same prof Cooper who headed up the Sunningdale Institute of the National School of Government, a non-ministerial department of, er, the government, with the head of the civil service as president? A quango crony. Shurley shome mishtake.

And to cap it all, some New Labour luvvies had the gall to suggest the Brown example of workplace bullying is nothing to get upset about.

Under the government's own anti-bullying legislation, the employer - the head of the civil service - would be expected to at least follow the rules with due process to get to the bottom of it all. But unlike in the real workplace such a move falls on Downing Street deaf ears.

What a tangled web they weave. And it all could have been avoided if Bottling Brown had used his Big Day on Saturday to fire the election starting gun, popping in to see Her Maj on Monday.

But McPoison runs in the blood of Downing Street spinners. The old reservoir dog refuses to lie down and die.

Now Tories can go on the attack repeating previous backbench claims of a bullying cover-up. Cameron can breeze in with calls for a full blown bullying inquiry.

Too much spinning. Too much Bullygate bullying. Not much common sense.

Top picture: Morten Morland, The Times


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Battlelines Drawn Over 'Bully Boy' Brown

Battlelines have been drawn over the latest shock allegations levelled at 'Bully Boy' Brown, with the Downing Street damage limitation spinning machine fired up in full denial mode. Bullygate has gone global from the US to Oz. Rawnsley's revelations have hit a raw nerve.

The media is talking up the cronies or taking up the cudgels. But denials will make no difference. With such shocking revelations once again splashed across the international media, there's no denying the damage has been done.

Brown's BBC was up and running yesterday with a Brown denial lifted from a Channel 4 News interview spoiling Brown Big Day well before the Observer had fired the starting gun for Rawnsley's sensational serialisation.

Telling Channel 4 News: "I have never hit anybody in my life," Brown denied accusations that had not been made. Damaging allegations must have hit a raw nerve if Brown is forced to deny something before anything is splashed across the Sundays.

Not to be outgunned, the MoS was up and running with Brown 'ordered to curb volcanic temper' after he was accused of abusing Downing Street staff. The IoS was left floundering and falling back on its tired formula - if you've nothing new to say - stick up big Brown sauce.

If Rawnsley was alone with these sort of allegations then some could discount them. But he isn't. No.10 spinners are pulling out the stops to kill the story which means it must have a ring of truth.

The bombshells, some reported by the MoS spoiler a few weeks ago, feature in Rawnsley's new book The End Of The Party. Downing Street aides have been well aware for some time that the Observer was set to publish an extract from Rawnsley's book.

But at the time of writing, no one has been lined up to say what a nice gentle kind of chap he is to have around the office.

Most damning and damaging is Rawnsley's claim that Brown received an unprecedented reprimand from the civil service head honcho for abusive behaviour to staff along with explosive disclosures about Brown's violent and volcanic outbursts.

The country's top civil servant ordered Brown to 'curb your volcanic temper' after investigating allegations of bullying by Brown. According to Rawnsley in the Observer:

"The cabinet secretary, became so alarmed by the prime minister’s behaviour that he launched his own investigations when he received reports of Brown’s bullying of staff. O’Donnell then gave the prime minister a stern “pep talk” and ordered him to change his behaviour."

Some of Rawnsley's revelations had been teased in the MoS with a carefully planted spoiler weeks ago as part of a deliberate Downing Street ploy to weaken the impact of the allegations. But such a reprimand from the civil service head is unheard of and wasn't in the MoS spoiler.

Rawnsley claims "absolutely impeccable sources". And, according to Rawnsley, Labour MP Stephen Pound confirmed to Sky News that O'Donnell warned Brown about his behaviour.

Brown's foul behaviour and temper tantrums come as no surprise to Brown watchers. He even looks like a nasty piece of work. But to trigger a warning from Whitehall’s most powerful official begs the questions whether Brown is fit for office as a general election draws near. Do voters want this guy to run the country for another five years?

An explosive account by Watt and an explosive account by Price. Now an explosive account by Rawnsley. Keep well away from the bunker, it's about to explode.

Charges of betrayal against ex-Downing Street insider, Price or Labour chief, Watt with an axe to grind, cannot be levelled at Rawnsley.

Rawnsley is a respected political journalist on the right side of New Labour with years of experience under his belt - which makes his account all the more devastating.

Is everyone else so wrong and only the indignant one right? There are too many 'bullying' stories flying around.

Rawnsley's account is a suitable epitaph to the rise and fall of New Labour and the final nail in the coffin of 'Bully Boy' Brown, leading the pack of the Downing Street reservoir dogs.

UPDATE 6.19pm: The BBC reports that several people in Brown's office had "called a bullying helpline", according to the boss of an anti-bullying charity.