28 February 2009

Something smells about Brown’s trip

There is something not right about Brown’s escape from reality next week.   I have posted previously on the wording of the White House press release announcing the trip, and that it is most odd that Moses is being asked to address Congress.

Now comes this in the Telegraph.

On the wording of the press release:

A Washington official who is close to several members of Mr Obama's inner circle said: "They craft every word for the stone tablets. Words are what they do. It is not a mistake.

A partnership is a business arrangement based on what you can do for Obama, not a relationship like a marriage that thrives through thick and thin until death do us part. He'll judge the specialness of a partnership with Britain on what he gets out of it." In return for concrete support, Mr Obama is expected to offer to listen more closely to British advice than George W. Bush did. But insiders say he will be ruthless in cutting adrift countries who do not cooperate with his global agenda, whatever their historic relationships.

Are you listening Gordon?

On the visit to the White House itself:

….will have his audience with Mr Obama before lunch on Tuesday, but it promises to be a fairly brief affair with no White House dinner.

I can’t recall a previous occasion when a visiting Prime Minister has not been invited for dinner.

Then this, which I touched on yesterday.

But his [Brown’s] own parlous political prospects may be a drag on Britain's influence with President Obama, who is said to take an "unsentimental view" of the prime minister's plight. That view is also coloured by the knowledge he might be dealing with Conservative leader David Cameron in 12 months time.

“Obama can read the polls the same as everyone else," said a political adviser who has worked on both Democrat and Labour campaigns. "He wants partners for the next four years and Brown may not be one of those."

On more troops:

Dr Nile Gardiner, of the conservative Heritage foundation and a former aide to Margaret Thatcher, said: "President Obama has never acknowledged the sacrifice of British soldiers alongside their U.S. allies in a major policy speech. The new administration seems to care little for what the British have contributed in Afghanistan or Iraq in the past; what matters now is simply how many more troops Brown is willing to pledge for the surge in Afghanistan. It's a very hardnosed, short-term approach rather than one rooted in a sense of enduring alliance. My sense is that the special relationship is being significantly downgraded."

All this is significant.  No doubt these facts will be glossed over in the coverage of the visit, especially by the compliant BBC.  You can just hear Nick Robinson now.

It is worth pointing out, as the article does, that the address to Congress is nothing to do with the White House.

Clearly Moses is going to be treated rather differently by the White House than he would wish.  Brown’s visit to Obama may well turn out to be a very routine affair.

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Where Mandy goes, trouble follows


The Mail reports that Mandy is at the centre of a 'favours for friends' row over the controversial proposals to expand Heathrow:

Details emerged of the extraordinary access the Business Secretary's close acquaintance Roland Rudd  -  who represents airport operator BAA  -  had to the top tiers of Government.

Mr Rudd, the City's most powerful PR, or his company Finsbury Ltd met with ministers at least five times in ten days in the run-up to Labour's unpopular decision to go ahead with plans for a third runway, and once a few months earlier.


MPs have demanded Gordon Brown orders a top-level investigation amid concern that BAA was able to crush the green lobby opposing airport expansion by exploiting an intricate network of contacts within the Government.

Some hope!


Sources close to Lord Mandelson said he had 'never spoken to Mr Rudd about the third runway'. They insisted the Business Secretary had not helped set up meetings for Finsbury with transport ministers.

The sources would say that, wouldn't they.

This is further perception of Mandy’s relationship with his rich and not so famous friends, and their influence within the Government.  It is hardly going to help him as he attempts to convince Labour MPs to back the part-privatisation of the Royal Mail.

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Labour’s spin warms up for the big event


Brown’s friends at the BBC are reporting this morning that he will renew his appeal for Goodwin to give up some of his pension.  No doubt he has been told that the chances of legal action succeeding over this are slim.  Everything will be done this weekend by Labour's spin operation to ensure that Goodwin remains centre stage, rather than Lord Myners or the role of the Treasury.

Moreover the spin for Brown’s trip next week starts to roll in various press articles.  He departs for the States on Monday.  One can only imagine how tightly choreographed this trip will be to show Brown as a world statesman and Obama’s new best friend.

imagePerhaps the American media should concentrate on a report that UK High Streets are becoming ghost towns as the recession takes hold.

If that does not take their fancy, then how about Brown’s poll ratings, the fact the the Cabinet is at war or that Brown has little credibility left.

How I would love to see the US ambassador's briefing from the Court of St James on Moses.  Any chance of a copy?

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27 February 2009

In poor taste

Is it really necessary for Tim Montgomerie to post the arrangements for Ivan Cameron’s funeral on Twitter?

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A banker hits back

Sam Coates posts this quote:

Should all the MPs who voted for the Iraq war give up their lavish pension pot because they failed to do a good enough job scrutinising the WMD claims before voting in its favour?

The guy has a point.

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Clever spin that gets Brown off the hook

The Labour spin machine has gone into overdrive this morning.  It has succeed very well in deflecting attention from the huge losses that the banks have reported and kept the spotlight on Sir Fred Goodwin.

Firstly, Prescott is wheeled onto the Today programme to rant away, saying it is all the banks fault.  Now we have Brown shifting the blame for his own failures onto the banks:

the government would act to protect the public interest over the payment of Sir Fred Goodwin's pension.

Bit late now.  Why wasn't this done last October?


I think it's a matter for legal consultation.

My guess is that is where it will end.  If Goodwin has a legal right to the money, and the Government did agree to the pension being paid last October, there is hardly a strong case to pursue.

and now Brown’s jaw dropping comment:

I was brought up to believe that integrity and responsibility were the important things - you cannot suspend that behaviour for the banks

Really!  These little matters are suspended for Brown and the Treasury.

This is all clever stuff, deflecting from the bad news of yesterday and the role of Lord Myners in this sorry tale.

At the end of the day we are all focused on a few million quid that Goodwin is probably legally entitled to.  When what we should be concentrating on is the trillions of debt that the Government has forced on the taxpayer, whether the bankrupt banks should be nationalised and on the policies that have clearly not worked.

Clever spin that solves nothing.

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A Government that has lost control of events


Scanning the papers, the news just hits you.  The Goodwin pension fiasco; further bank bail-outs and the underwriting of toxic debts; the Royal Mail shambles; the admission of rendition; the rise in teenage pregnancy rates; King’s comments on borrowing and lack of regulation; and a possible renationalisation of the railway operators.  If that wasn't enough, Lloyds will report on Friday.

On top of all that the Cabinet have declared civil war.  Brown has little authority left to maintain discipline and can’t even sack rebellious PPS’s.  This is a Government that is disintegrating before our eyes.

An address to Congress is normally given to a world statesman at the height of their power.  Next week’s performance by Brown will be viewed as the last throw of the disc by a desperate man, leading a worn-out Government devoid of ideas.

The polls may well fluctuate.  Brown may get the odd boost.  Little good this will do.  This Government is decaying and has lost control of events.  Once the rot sets in there is nothing that can be done, as Macmillan (‘62-‘63), Callaghan (‘78-‘79) and Major (‘92-‘97) demonstrated.

The effective life of this Government has come to an end.

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26 February 2009

Goodwin 5 Brown 0 at half time


What is clear now is that Sir Fred Goodwin’s £650,000 pension arrangement was deliberately leaked early today, as Brown knew it would dominate the other bad news:

1.Further bail out for RBS:

2. Rendition revelations;

3. Brown’s ticking off by the Standards committee;

4. At least 10 PPS’s have signed up against the plans for the Royal Mail;

5. Mervyn King saying that debt levels were too high.

Only problem is that Goodwin will not play ball and has thrown a hand grenade back at No 10.

He will not hand back any of his pension and furthermore has said Lord Myners knew of the arrangement last October:

you indicated that you were aware of my entitlement and that no further 'gestures' would be required.

Darling  now looks a complete fool after his performance on Today.  All he had to was look in the RBS annual report.

Brown is becoming too clever by half in attempting to spin his way through a bad news day.

One step forward and now two steps back for Moses.  How he must be looking forward to his trip next week.


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Follow my leader: Moses on the fiddle


Brown broke Commons rules by sub-letting his constituency office, so says Standards and Privileges committee.

The MPs say the prime minister had made no financial gain from the arrangement and they believe there was "no intention to deceive".

Mr Brown should have ensured he had consulted the Commons authorities to check the rules.

I am not aware of any previous Prime Minister being rebuked by the privileges committee.

Another reason why Brown is not fit to lead the country!

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Who believes Darling?


Darling is taking the taxpayer for granted.

When questioned on Today about Goodwin’s pension,  Darling said:

….he only heard of the pension deal a short time ago, adding: "When I found out it was very clear we had to go back to RBS to see who agreed this and why they agreed it and whether they have grounds to claw some of it back.”

UPDATE: The RBS annual report, published in 2007, showed that as things stood then he was entitled to £579,000 a year.

What due diligence has the Treasury done?

Then Darling said:

Lord Myners spoke to Sir Fred and put it to him quite simply - do you not think it is right to forego this. You cannot justify these excesses.

The government was still awaiting a reply.

What reply is Darling expecting?  He may have to wait a long time, as we should assume that Goodwin does have a legal right to this money.

Are we taxpayers being told the truth about these bank bail outs?  Maybe the people in the Treasury are as incompetent as the bankers themselves!

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All agreed about Brown’s trip to the US


Matthew Norman pens brilliantly on Brown’s forthcoming trip.

100% agree.

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The political weather has changed


The tragedy that the Cameron family now confront is deeply felt by everyone.  This sympathy will continue.

The way Cameron had chosen to speak about Ivan has changed the way he is viewed forever.  No longer will he be seen as the Eton and Oxford lad from a privileged background; no longer the “toff” who is not one of us; no longer the leader that used his children as “props”; no longer as the leader of a party that fails to back the NHS.

In another way it changes the dynamics of his relationship with Brown, awful as it has been.  Both have now suffered from the same experiences in having to deal with the death of a child.  Brown was genuine and heartfelt in his words yesterday.  The differences between them will now be debated outside the “Punch & Judy” prism.  Short-term tactical victories will be seen as hollow.

The political weather has changed, and this tragedy may well have sealed the deal between Cameron and the wider public.  Brown may have been the first to appreciate this, by giving such a sincere and moving tribute.

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Lord Turner twists the knife


Lord Turner gave evidence today to the Treasury Select Committee and he demolished the regulatory framework set up by Brown. 

They existed within a political philosophy where all the pressure on the FSA was not to say 'why aren't you looking at these business models?', but 'why are you being so heavy and intrusive, can't you make your regulation a bit more light touch?

We were supervising people like HBOS within a particular philosophy of the way you do regulation, which I think in retrospect was wrong.

The regulatory philosophy was the product of "political assumptions at the time", he says. "I think there was a philosophy of regulation which emerged, not just in this country but in other countries, which was based upon too extreme a form of confidence in the markets and confidence in the idea that markets were self-correcting."

If the FSA in 2004 had tried to tell mortgage banks to cut back on lending, it would have been shouted down. "So, with hindsight, perhaps it would have been better if we did but I suspect we would have been pushed back politically if we had."

Strong stuff and very damaging to the arguments Moses is using on the causes of the recession.

It is reported that the FSA is to pay bonuses of £21m to staff!

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Procedures in the Lords


Comments have been made that Mandy used Wednesday to bury bad news by introducing the Royal Mail bill a day before it is published.

The facts are simple.  The procedure for bills is different in the Lords to the Commons.  In the Lords, bills are published on the day following their introduction.

The Government announced earlier this week that the bill would be published on Thursday, so the introduction had to happen on Wednesday.

Just thought it would be helpful to point this out.

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Pull the other one Sir Fred


It has been revealed that disgraced banker Sir Fred Goodwin is drawing a pension of £650,000 per year at the age of 50, from a pension fund worth £16m!

Giving evidence to the Treasury Select Committee earlier this month Goodwin said:

My pension is the same as everyone else in the bank who is in a defined benefit pension scheme. It is determined in the same way as anyone else.

This is an appalling reward for first degree failure no matter what “entitlements” were in place at RBS.

Later on Thursday RBS is expected is to announce the UK’s largest corporate loss.

The Government owns 70% of this bank.  Goodwin's pension is public money!  It is about time the Treasury got a grip!

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On the day Ivan died…


….was it right

  • To question the cancelling of PMQ’s by the Prime Minister, who had suffered a similar tragedy himself?
  • For the 24/7 news channels to broadcast continuous and in the main meaningless coverage?
  • For Michael White to tweet he was covering PMQ’s after it had already been cancelled?

Some restraint and sensitivity is surely still relevant in this modern media age.

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25 February 2009

Moving tributes in the Commons

Westminster reacts with genuine feeling.

The Prime Minster spoke with feeling and was clearly very moved, having himself lost a child.  William Hague and Vice Cable added to the occasion.

Posts will not be resumed today on this blog out of respect to David Cameron.

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Thatcher portrait unveiling cancelled

Again, the correct decision.

My post below was published before Ivan’s death was announced.

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PMQ’s cancelled: The correct decision

The correct decision has been made.  Having suffered the loss of a son, I am sure the Prime Minster must be feeling depth sympathy for the Camerons.

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Ivan Cameron has died


The Camerons will hopefully be allowed total privacy at this time. Let us hope the press and media allow them to grief and try to come to terms with this tragic loss away from prying eyes.

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Cameron is right on the Royal Mail


There have been comments that Cameron should be opposed to the part sell of the Royal Mail.  For what reason is not clear.  Smithson over at Political Betting and Iain Dale give similar comments.

We are entering the pre-election phase when Cameron knows that to oppose for the sake of opposition is wrong, as he himself will face similar situations in Government.   The same applies to the Government's decision not publish Cabinet minutes leading up to the Iraq war.

Cameron should oppose when it it is right to do so, but he should not be opportunistic in this critical period where he has to show he is the Prime Minister in waiting.

Let Labour stew in their own juice.

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The pathetic Brown and the Thatcher portrait


Can Brown stoop any lower in his behaviour as he continues the demean the office he holds?

Today a new portrait is being unveiled of Lady Thatcher at No10.

We have already had the controversy over David Cameron's invitation, which was questioned by No10.  Now this:

The Downing Street press office said yesterday that no journalists would be allowed in to cover the event, which they insisted was private. Instead an official photograph will be released.

Brown previously invited Thatcher to Downing Street in a blaze of publicity when it suited him.  It was during that visit that the idea of the picture was suggested to Lady T by Brown.

Due to David Cameron’s presence and many of the senior staff that worked for her, no publicity is allowed.  No doubt the official picture will not be a group photo showing Brown surrounded by leading Tories.

Whatever you think of Lady Thatcher, she should be shown respect and honoured in the appropriate way on this occasion .

This is just pathetic, contemptuous and demeaning.  If Brown cannot raise above trivial matters of invites and party politics to honour Lady Thatcher, he is not fit to hold the office of Prime Minister.

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24 February 2009

Real help now

The taxpayer funded Real help now web site says:

Action is being taken all around the country to help the economy come through the recession sooner, stronger and fairer. Click to find out what's going on where you live..

The problem is that the SNP actions have been now been air brushed out after initially being included .



All there is now are two links to old Scottish Office press releases.

Moses maybe a world statesman next week.  This week he is Winston Smith at the taxpayer’s expense.

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What is Brown’s claim to greatness?


It is reported that Brown been given the honour of addressing Houses of Congress during his visit to Washington next week.

A considerable coup.  He follows Winston Churchill, Clement Attlee, Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair.

Could I ask what is Brown’s claim to greatness?  What has he done to deserve this?  I can’t think of a single justification.

I can only assume that Obama will be accorded a similar honour when he comes to London.

Brown was responsible, with his mate Alan Greenspan, for getting us into financial mess.  So far none of his policies for getting us out of it have worked.  Is he going to apologise to the American people next week?

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Jack, Does the same apply to leaks?


No surprise that Jack Straw has deployed his veto to block the release of the Cabinet minutes that decided we went to war in Iraq.

Straw said:

releasing the minutes would risk serious damage to Cabinet government.

When you and others leak, does the same statement apply?

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Mandy, with the help of Nick Robinson, can’t stop himself


Mandy reverts to type as he attempts to manipulate the sell off of the Royal Mail.  A letter to Mandy, from Jane Newell, chairman of the trustees, has been leaked:

without a sale of part of the business, the pension fund deficit would be far greater than the £5.9 billion envisaged in the Hooper report into the Royal Mail’s future.

According to Nick Robinson the letter wasn't leaked, as it was on a press release.   That totally misses the point.  It is obvious why the letter was “publicised” now.  Why should the BBC even make a point of highlighting this?

Two days before the Bill is introduced, Mandy is intimidating the 140 plus rebel MP’s.

How the pension shortfall and the sell-off are related beats me.

Desperate stiff that will only isolate Mandy even more from the rebel MP’s that include John Prescott and Peter Hain.

Mandy, with the BBC’s Nick Robinson by his side, ensure the turmoil in the Labour party goes on.

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Glenrothes by-election: In Scotland or Zimbabwe?


Remember the Glenrothes by-election that Brown won with a 6,000 majority?  It seems all is not well with the result:

The Election Commission has raised some concerns in a report published today:

….it said some areas where the votes were being counted and collated were obscured from view;

….voiced concern over aspects of the arrangements for postal voting;

….some concerns that the count was not as transparent as it could have been, due to the layout of tables in the hall;

….the first opening of returned postal votes did not take place until the day before polling day.  The timing of the postal vote openings and the potential consequences of that timetable gave us cause for concern;

Much more serious, the marked electoral register has been “lost”.  It should be kept for a minimum of 12 months. See here.

This is still unresolved:

The Electoral Commission is concerned at the loss of these documents and welcome assurances from the Scottish Courts Service that they are investigating the matter fully. Access to the marked register is important to ensuring transparency and every step should be taken to ensure this does not happen again.

At the time of the by-election the result came as a complete surprise, as did the high turnout.  It was even reported that Moses had gone to bed, having been told Labour would lose.

What went on in Glenrothes?

We will never know as the marked electoral register has been lost.

Perhaps election experts from Zimbabwe should be called in to investigate!

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Anyone but Brown……..


The details are here.

I stick with the argument that due to Labour’s complicated election rules and time fast running out before the election, Brown will not be replaced.  Furthermore, two un-elected Prime Minister’s in the same parliament in not sustainable.

This poll ensures the speculation on Brown will continue to the delight of the Prime Minister in waiting, David Cameron.

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