What’s up with Prestwick

July 31, 2006

So, going back a couple of days… this Prestwick Airport thing.

At a time when the Government are coming under pressure from public opinion for not standing tough against the US on Lebanon and a whole host of other issues. A new Foreign Secretary in place wants to stamp her authority after a previous Foreign Secretary who wasn’t afraid to go off script.

All of a sudden, a complete nothing issue pops out of nowhere. The US are not following proper procedures in shipping bombs to Israel. It’s easy for Beckett, she gets to criticise the US over a complete non-issue. The US back down and say sorry.

Anyone would think it was all orchestrated to help the Government look independent without actually having to diverge from the US at all…


Denial of the week

July 31, 2006

Today’s Guardian has another article on the continuing question marks over Menzies Campbell’s leadership of the Lib Dems.

It features an unnamed senior Lib Dem denying that Kennedy is considering a comeback, with the following reasoning: “The idea of Charles coming back is a bit strange – can you think of another party leader who has done that?”

Yes, actually, we can.

The Times on Lamont/Lieberman

July 30, 2006

As predicted in yesterday’s blog, the New York Times has come out for Joe Lieberman’s oponent in the Connecticut primary, Ned Lamont.

Ned’s campaign has been extremely good so far. Slick, young and vibrant campaigning on a big issue for the Democratic Party, it shows how those who oppose the Bush agenda on Iraq can fight a positive, appealing campaign.

The Editorial says, “Mr. Lamont, a wealthy businessman from Greenwich, seems smart and moderate, and he showed spine in challenging the senator while other Democrats groused privately. He does not have his opponent’s grasp of policy yet. But this primary is not about Mr. Lieberman’s legislative record. Instead it has become a referendum on his warped version of bipartisanship, in which the never-ending war on terror becomes an excuse for silence and inaction. We endorse Ned Lamont in the Democratic primary for Senate in Connecticut.

Sunday papers in review

July 30, 2006

A very slow news day if you aren’t too interested in the Lebanon war, however there are some interesting bits and pieces…

The Observer reports on the Lib Dems facing yet another conference of debates over just how bad their leader is – this time it is Ming not Charlie. MPs are rallying though – one says of a recent Parliamentary party away day: “The only thing we didn’t do in terms of bonding was sit in a circle and sing ‘Kumbaya’.” Yeah, whatever. And no-one was wearing sandles.

The Sunday Times says that the Government is set to set the bar higher on Freedom of Information requests so it can block “the most difficult requests”. As someone that has received the “we need more time.doc” emailed letter six times from DEFRA on one issue over the last four months, this is not exactly great news.

The Sunday Telegraph has a puff piece complaining about the passage of the Companies Bill (the legislation formerly known as the company law reform bill). Those Tories are worried that the bill will make companies more accountable to consumers – this is one to watch, as Unions and trade justice groups are going to give anyone who opposes this Bill being improved an absolute kicking in the Autumn.

The News of the World says that Michael Portillo has been having an affair in his lunch breaks, and even invited his girlfriend for “romps” in his House of Commons office. I hope he closed the door.

Peter Mandelson has accused the US of greed in another row over the collapse of the WTO’s Doha Round of talks, according to the Observer. Words fail me on this article. Just when you look Mandelson couldn’t be more of a hypocrite, he ups his game and comes out with something like this.

Lastly, the Sunday Telegraph reports with glee that attendance at grammar schools has gone up by 27,000 since 1997. A real measure of failure on the part of the Education department. This is also an excuse for us to quote from Susan Crosland’s biography of her husband Tony: “If it’s the last thing I do, I’m going to destroy every fucking grammar school in England. And Wales. And Northern Ireland.”

Unsurprisingly, there is not anything in the Independent worth reading.

New York Times to endorse Lieberman opponent

July 29, 2006

We could be a week or so away from a damning indictment of the Iraq war from America’s own voters.  We have written about the Connecticut primary election between Democrat Vice-Presidential candidate Joe “Jomentum” Lieberman and cable-entrepreneur and anti-war campaigner Ned Lamont. 

But now, according to bloggers in the US, the New York Times is set to endorse Lamont. I am sure an American reader will correct this if it is wrong but it would not be unlike the Guardian coming out for John McDonnell.  Its big news and should be seen as a blow to pro-war politicians on the left.

Gale farce

July 28, 2006

Debate has raged over at the LabourHome blog over the demand by Chris Gale, Chair of Chippenham CLP, that maverick Labour MP Kate Hoey be disciplined for her involvement in the Countryside Alliance.

Having apparently lost patience with the party’s democratic processes, he has now launched a campaign to deselect Hoey (“Hoey Must Go”) in the pages of The Independent.

Quite apart from his apparent total ignorance of reselection procedures (the CLP votes on whether or not to re-select the MP, there is no chance to put up another candidate against Hoey) and the fact that Hoey was unanimously reselected last time, this may land him in some hot water of his own.

A campaign to discipline a Labour MP for criticising colleagues in public which, erm, criticises a Labour MP in public, may look more than a tad hypocritical. There are also rules about that kind of behaviour – the Labour Party’s code of conduct expressly forbidding disparaging other candidates in a selection process. If Gale himself is on Labour’s parliamentary panel – and perhaps he had his own name in mind as the mystery opponent to Hoey – he has just flagrantly broken his own signed agreement to follow the code.

Gale himself is an “interesting” character. A cursory examination of his blog displays what must rank as one of the most skewed senses of priorities in UK politics, as evidenced by his outrage that the Royal Navy are not evacuating British pets from Lebanon. Never mind that there is a massive humanitarian crisis and hundreds of deaths – we must save Tiddles!

The Daily wouldn’t like to speculate that he is a strange obssessive who whiles away his empty days sat in a darkened basement hunched over a computer, madly scanning the net for any mention of the targets of his obssession. But he has managed to find time out of his busy social life over the past couple of months to post screeds of venomous rantings and green ink letters to newspapers about Kate Hoey – just a few examples here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here (before we got bored) plus the occasional anonymous comment on any Labour blog he can find.

Every now and again he drags his gaze away from fluffy animals to pen paeons of praise for Tony Blair.

Given this prodigious output it is perhaps surprising that Gale not only failed to present any evidence whatsoever of Hoey being involved in any anti-Labour campaigning, but continually refused to answer any of the counter-arguments against his motion at LabourHome, resorting instead to increasingly hysterical ranting at anyone who did not agree.

His claim that the Countryside Alliance had stitched up the Conservative leadership election to ensure that a fox-hunter was leader of the opposition also suggests that a shade of paranoia may be kicking in.

No doubt he will blame the global fox-hunting conspiracy should he find that an exasperated Vauxhall CLP lose patience with him interfering in their selection and undermining their Labour MP in the national press and begins to take an interest in disciplinary action of its own. Others horrified by his totalitarian views on internal democracy may also be watching.

Perhaps he should just heed his own advice: “If we fight internal battles, rather than campaign on our record, the only winners will be the Tories”.

Scandinavian disappointment

July 28, 2006

Checking through yesterday’s search terms that people used to get onto this blog. On the list is “adult swedish-blogs”. All I can say is someone must have been very disappointed.