Thursday, 29 July 2010

Just because I said it, doesn't mean I MEANT it!

If Clegg can claim any significant changes he has introduced since his elevation to the seat of power, one victory of a sort is his ability to take duplicity to almost comical levels.

First, he is able to stand and answer questions at the dispatch box during PMQs and then later claim that that doesn't necessarily mean he was ACTUALLY answering questions on government policy (just, y'know, giving his personal views) and now Clegg claims he can say one thing during an election campaign on an issue of massive importance to millions of people, but actually really think the complete opposite.

Meanwhile, YouGov, Mori and ICM have the Lib Dems languishing at near-death levels in the polls. Could the two be linked?

Thursday, 22 July 2010

A Swedish Rethink?

I'll write a bit more on this in the coming days - at the moment I'm spending as much time on this blog as Michael Gove is on thinking through his school reforms bill. In the meantime, this story says it all, really - mysteriously, something most of the Tory media has forgotten to report.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

'New Politics' and old ideologies

It's becoming increasingly obvious that the supposedly 'necessary' cuts in everything the current government can get its hands on are ideologically driven, not practical. Even a Tory-dominated select committee doesn't buy the economic arguments for these measures.

It is worth noting, however, that this government does, in fact, have an overarching plan beyond cuts, cuts cuts. This plan, however, is a rather unoriginal one.

In the same way that George W Bush talked of compassionate conservatism, so this 'liberal' government talks of Big Society. Both these are strikingly similar ideologically... in simple terms, the consider the best way to encourage companies to play by the rules - to respect the environment and the greater good - is not to regulate them, but rather to ask them nicely to follow these rules.

So, for example, out goes the regulatory functions of the Food Standards Agency, and in comes another dose of self-regulation. A bit like the PCC of the food world, I guess. Deputy PM Clegg has started his hunt for similar bodies to be restrained, shrunk or scrapped, all in the name of free enterprise.

But herein lies much of the problem - one person's 'red tape' is another's necessary law to protect the public good. And too often - as evidenced from the oil swirling around the Gulf of Mexico to the child labourers in Indian sweatshops - companies demonstrate that, given a free hand unburdened by regulations, they will leave such moral considerations behind.

Monday, 19 July 2010

And in other news...

So, according to the Commonwealth Fund, the NHS is one of the best health systems in the world, and the most efficient out of the health systems of seven leading industrialised nations (including the US, Germany and Canada).

Such a shame that our media is so partisan that it will happily bury a report such as this, that challenges their world view, on the back pages. It's a terrible shame that not even the supposed centre-left press gives this any prominence.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Onwards and downwards

It was barely 4 months ago that the Lib Dems were railing against Tory plans to cut the deficit too soon. They did, of course, change their mind... for sound economic reasons and definitely not political advantage, of course.

Were they right to change their mind?

David Blanchflower doesn't think so.

Neither does Joesph Stiglitz.

And, ironically, it appears that neither does that mysterious, omnipresent being floating just above London, "the market".

As the culling of 'pen-pushers', 'red tape' and 'useless quangos' commences, it won't be too long before we see...

It's safe in our hands (well, the brand name is, anyway)

In lieu of a post of my own today, I offer this... it's amazing how little media coverage there was following the restructuring - and probable denationalisation - of the national health service.

Perhaps the media thought it was too complicated for the proles watching... nevertheless, it's worth considering that the government may just have got away with announcing the end of an immensely popular national institution with barely a mention in the press.

I can't think of what else to add to this depressing state of affairs, so instead offer this, for light relief:

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

You scratch my back...


 Will the radical shake-up of the NHS and all the social enterprises and GP consortia it entails help
bankroll private companies?

Hmm... difficult to tell from the announcements so far... but somehow I think I have an inkling about what the answer might be...

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

The mysterious shrinking Lib Dems

Voting shares, election day 2010:

Conservatives         -        36%  
Labour                     -        29%  
Lib Dems                -        23 %

Average of last 5 YouGov daily tracking polls:

Conservatives         -        41% (+5)
Labour                     -        35% (+6)
Lib Dems                -        16 % (-7)

Monday, 12 July 2010

A tough sell (#2)

"So, multi-billion pound private medical industry - do you mind if we hand great wads of the NHS over to you?"

Multi-billion pound private medical industry:
"Um.... no."

A tough sell...

"Dear multi-billion pound fast food industry - do you mind if I don't regulate you?"

Multi-billion pound fast food industry:
"Um... no."

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

I say, dear chap, how would you like a little job?

Continuing the noble Tory tradition of hypocritically preaching the virtues of standing on one's own two feet whilst simultaneously applying a quite different rule to family and friends, Call-Me-Dave has appointed Sebastian (yeah, I know) James to apply his extensive experience of the state school sector to determining schools spending.

This is the kind of brazen cronyism that even the Daily Mail balkes at.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Don't go outside (until the nice men with the horses and dogs have made it safe)


... and this story...

... and this story...

.... all in advance of this, a coincidence?

Somehow, I don't think so.

RofL! LOL!

Meanwhile, over at City Hall, Boris is doing everything he can to play to Tory stereotype.

Until now, his 'ain't he funny!' image has helped deflect from the fact that he is utterly unaware of the views of most people... so defends the banks in the wake of a spectacular crisis of their making, defends BP in the wake of a spectacular disaster of their making... and happily doles out lucrative contracts to his friends in the City.

Monday, 5 July 2010

You couldn't make it up...

How Goldman gambled on starvation.

Not much to add to this article - not sure what else can be said.

You can support the campaign (I know it's a collection of small voices against an almighty wind, but it's worth a punt) here:

Friday, 2 July 2010

Swimming Against the Tide

Going off-piste with this latest post, it's worth noting that today Murdoch formally took his main quality paper behind a paywall

One of his own (ex) staff sums up the decision pretty succinctly:

"I think the decision will prove to be a disaster. There are so many innovative ways of making cash online and the decision to plump for an across-the-board blanket subscription over the whole of their content makes them look like a big lumbering giant...Canute-like in their determination to stop the tide of free content and using a top down strategy which makes even the Post Office look dynamic."

This is no dobut a positive. Firstly, Murdoch, having proved his total lack of online acumen when he purchased MySpace about 2 years too late, is now proceeding to shoot himself in the foot again.

Secondly, it will hopefully mean a fair proportion of the Times online readership takes the opportunity to read something better.