23 Apr 2010

"I disagree with Nick"

Yes, I know, I missed this one too, but again being a glutton for punishment I recorded it. Mr Clegg will undoubtedly come in for a whole lot of stick, but let's see what happened. The news media in the past week has been full of Tories and even some Labourites criticising Lib Dem policies now they suddenly have to take notice of Clegg's party after last week's debate.

The debate was mainly about foreign affairs. There are a few things in this subject that may put off wavering voters who were previously considering voting Tory, but were swung by Clegg's performance last week.

Do not replace Trident! A no-brainer this one. I fail to see how anybody could possibly object to this, morally, politically, militarily, or economically. The Lib Dems even have the backing of some military top brass.
To use a footballing analogy, if your team gets gates of 20000 in a stadium that holds 40000 and one of the stands needs replacing, would you build an exact replica capacity wise, but with all mod cons at a vast cost or do you build a smaller one comensurate with your current standing, saving millions in both building and future running costs in the process? If you choose the former route it may make you might feel better but you'll bankrupt yourself in the process. If the barely believable happens and you suddenly need 40000 capacity again, you can always ask the huge American owned club up the road to groundshare, after all you've rushed to their assistance enough times in the past.
This is linked in with Clegg stating that we should no longer be America's lapdog every time they feel like invading somewhere hot and dusty, but at the same time he emphasised that the special relationship is important and should continue. Although I agree with him on the lapdog issue, I fail to see how the special relationship could continue if we refused to back an invasion of, say, Iran. Like all politicians Clegg is trying to be all things to all people. I don't want to sound too critical as his basic idea of standing up to the Yanks gets my vote!
Cameron's justification for spending the ludicrous amount of money we don't have renewing our nuclear capacity was that we might need it at some unspecified point in the future. In the current climate where the USA and Russia have very recently signed an agreement to further reduce their stockpiles (it hardly got a mention such is the diminishing importance of the need to have nuclear weapons in the post Cold War age) this argument is spurious to say the least.
Brown said little I can remember on the subject, although Labour too want to renew Trident.
On Afghanistan Brown's argument is that we have to be there as this god forsaken country is the cradle of all things terrorist, and we need to force out the Taliban to stop the threat posed to us. Firstly all kinds of foreign governments, us included back in Empire days, have tried to tame this wild outpost in the last 100 or so years, and no-one has succeeded. Why should it be any different now? Secondly, and it may be over simplistic, but the truth often is, we (the UK & the USA) are only targets of terrorism precisely because we make ourselves so. The tube bombs in London would probably never have happened if we were not so closely associated with the Americans.

Little mention was made of the fact that why is it whenever there is some international trouble spot to sort out, of all the EU major players it's always the UK who send the most troops and resources? If it has to be this way, and I don't see why it should (see above), it's high time the French & the Germans did their bit, or least recompensed us for doing it on their behalf.
Which brings us neatly to the European Union. The Lib Dems are perceived as being the most pro Europe of the three, and this is undoubtedly a sticking point with Tory inclined floaters (no laughing at the back!). To counter this they have put forward the idea of a referendum on EU membership no less, something Euro skeptics have called for for years. This is a risky strategy, but they obviously hope to win over the skeptics, or enough of them at least, to swing the vote in the Yes direction.
Cameron of course wants us in Europe to take advantage of free trade, but not ruled by it. This sounds sensible but in practice means a withdrawal of cooperation on our part that can only be detrimental to our economy in the long run. Brown made this point, and as we do 75% of our business with the EU putting any of that in danger is very dangerous. Clegg at least acknowledges that some stupid rules have come out of Brussels and the whole thing needs running on a more sensible footing.
The EU is a highly emotive issue to some, but we have to remember that we could not survive as a leading world economy on our own. As Clegg and Brown both said we need to be part of a larger organisation in order to have more influence on world affairs, economically and diplomatically.

This debate obviously did not have the "new" factor of last week's and did not hold one's interest in anything like the same fashion. Indeed I nodded off towards the end, due to two earlier pints of Golden Pippin - there goes my chance of being a political reporter! Although Clegg came in for an expected hammering he held up quite well in my view. Brown improved on last week, and is going for the gravitas effect, and Cameron too improved, though probably not enough for his party to re-take the intiaitve, as is shown by todays polls.

Part 3 next week, when I will fall asleep after 15 minutes, and make it all up.

Vote for The Rubbish Party - they still like beer.

16 Apr 2010

"I agree with Nick"

Or, "Nick agrees with me" or, "Nick and I will agree". Brown will drag Clegg into a forced engagement, the annoucement will be today. Brown already seems to be going for the hung parliament coalition government with the Lib Dems - not exactly a confidence booster for his supporters!

The Debate - God, was it dull or what? Far too stage managed, Brown & Cameron in particular came across as if they were reading a series of press releases. I'm sure a large proportion of the no doubt huge tv audience last night will not be watching the next two instalments.

The Debatees - Clegg naturally came across as the more inspired and energetic of the three, and looked at ease with the cameras and the audience. His team will still be celebrating. Cameron looked like what he is - a privelleged public school boy who's never had to work in the real world. His thin everyman veneer is not in the least convincing, nor are his barely thought out policies. Brown came across as the over promoted micro manager that he is, but unlike Cameron, at least you know what to expect.

The Issues:

The Economy - The other, and far more pertinent soundbite from our beloved PM included the figure £6 billion pounds repeated mantra like as the amount Davy boy would instantly cull from public finances were the Tories to win, thus tipping us into another recession. This was the only time in my opinion that Brown scored a point, as Davy did not deny it and merely came back with the weak line that Brown would "continue to waste money". The old Tory idea that you can magically find billions from trimming waste is as misleading as it appears to be unachievable. Also, George Osborne comes across like he had never touched a calculator until Davy boy gave him the job of Shadow Chancellor. I wouldn't trust him with a Monopoly board. I bet he's got a degree in Modern Classics from Cambridge or somesuch - hang on, I'll just Wikipedia it to check - George Gideon Oliver Osborne (arf arf) has an upper second class degree in Modern History from Oxford. 'Nuff said.
Clegg and his party have to be admired for being the only one of the three to have actually costed their budgets, but therein lies the danger - could they live up to it? Their main idea of raising the tax threshold thereby giving £700 approx back to each average earner, to be mainly funded it appears by plugging loopholes in the tax system, is a flawed idea that would come back to haunt them should they ever get the chance to implement it. Much as I like Vince Cable, he is surely old enough to remember that the last time a left inclined administration attempted to "plug loopholes" which essentially means taxing the uber rich, said uber rich fled the country and took all their capital with them. Anybody recall what a dismal place Britain was in the mid to late 70s? Unfortunately in a capitalist system you need the capital and its owners to make it work. It's a shame as I thought Cable would have been above such petty vote winning tactics - oh well!
And, the Elephant In The Room that is the massive debt we are all burdened with was, of course, hardly mentioned!

Immigration - apparently Brown's popularity in a real time BBC poll took its biggest dip on this subject, as he waffled on about recently in the last two years introducing a points system, blah blah, and Cameron rightly pointed out that this is only after overseeing a huge unsustainable influx of migrants for the previous 10 years.
Cameron's idea is an arbitary cap, another of the Tories barely thought out "policies". What happens when the cap is reached and your local hospital needs a heart surgeon and their are none in the UK? Hmmm?
Clegg's idea is to restrict immigrants to working in defined geographical areas. Huh? I don't understand how that helps in any way. All three talked about immigration from non Euro zone countries almost exclusively, and as we all know, that ain't where the biggest problem is. I think it may have been Cameron who did briefly mention restricting migrants from NEW Euro zone countries - bit late now isn't it?

Defence - This is where Clegg got my attention, confirmimg that his party alone would not renew Trident, our outdated and wholly unnecessary nukes system, thus saving £100 billion (!), some of which would be spent on giving our existing armed forces up to date equipment. Indeed why do we need a nuclear deterrent in the post cold war age? The only way we will be hit by nuclear weapons is from a terrorist attack, and, god forbid, if that ever happened, exactly who are we going to fire missiles at? Surely it's plain common sense, not to mention a no-brainer economically to get rid of this last vestige of world power we foolishly cling to?
Being a long time anti nukes and anti war marcher, this gets my vote!

Political reform - They all want a reformed and electable House Of Lords, amazingly even Cameron! Again Brown came off worse when outlining his plans for reform and he got the inevitable repsonse from the others that you've already had 13 years to do it. Cameron also wants to decrease the number of MPs. This would mean that your local MP would be even more remote from the voter than they are now due to far bigger constituencies. For instance, who can name one of their Euro MPs? I know I cant.

Education & the NHS - Having recorded the debate I watched it after I got back from the pub, and coupled with the personal irrelevance of the first subject might explain why I dozed off in this and the NHS bit! Sorry. My view is all this so called choice nonsense is exactly that. Parents and patients surely want their nearest school or hospital to be up to the job, and do not want to have to travel miles to excercise a "choice" not of their making?

Overall Clegg won on points, Cameron looks like an actor, and Brown is, well Brown. I've took time off work to do this, so it's back to work for me!

Vote for The Rubbish Party - they like beer.

8 Apr 2010

Sheepskin coats in Siff Iffrica....

Obstensibly footy based, but not really....

....well, it will be winter over there.
Yes folks, that four yearly feast of footy when Ingerland fans chew their fingernails to the quick until the inevitable elimnation on penalties in the quater finals is nearly upon us.
What are our chances? Well, our FIFA ranking of 7th seems about right to me, which of course means, just for a change, a quarter final!
Let's have a look at what in all probability, barring serious injury or sexual indiscretions, or a combination of both in the interim, will be our starting eleven when we charge out on the 12th June at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg for a tricky encounter against the USA.

Goalkeeper - "Robson" Green. Not been able to get any work lately as a Geordie nice guy, so has turned to his second love, keeping goal. Cries a lot.

Left back - Ashley Cole Porter. Well endowed singer-songwriter who has taken Kiss Me Kate to ridiculous extremes. Likes counting his stash'o'ocash.
Right back - Gary Neville Neville Neville. One of the ugly & semi-famous Neville Brothers who had a couple of hits in the 80s. Well past his sell by date.
Centre backs -
Rio Ferdinand - Rio.1 is actually a the soul of Duran Duran songwriter Nick Rhodes trapped in a robot, which was designed to churn out hit singles for his band by regurgitating the same tune in an infinite variety of speeds and keys. It is planned to have a large hole inserted in its upper lip so it can better see where it's going. Prone to narcolepsy.
John Terry McCann - Team thug and minder to manager Fabio "Peter Grant" Capello, John was brought up by wolves on the Isle of Dogs. Goes a bit strange under a full moon. Eats razorblades for breakfast. Once got into trouble for "carrying on" with the former girlfriend of former team mate Wayne Where's That Confounded (former) Bridge. John's ambition is to run a llama farm in Essex, whilst knitting like a clunge.

Midfield -
Stevie Me & Fat Frank, or The Chuckle Brothers, are the unfunny comedy duo of the team, whose "to me to you to me to you to me to you to me to you to the opposition" antics are the bane of Fabio "Peter Grant" Capello's existence. Also, although thought to be gay lovers, Stevie & Frank hate each other with a passion. Fabio is losing patience with the pair and is rumoured to be replacing one or other with 7 year old boy genius James "Spotty" Milner, but his mum won't let young Jimmy out of her sight.
Gareth John Barry - When not composing grandiose film scores, John loves nothing more than to see if he can hit the right corner flag from somewhere on the left wing. He gets VERY annoyed when one of the opposition, or even worse, one of his team mates gets in the way.
The right wing spot is occupied by a clever cloning device that would have produced three identical players had it not been for John Terry McCann beating the inventor Steven Hawking to death at a crucial point in the machine's gestation, after a row about who was paying for the lap dancers. However, it did manage to come up with:
SWP.1 - SWP, so named for his extreme left wing views, gets very confused stuck out on the right wing and frequently makes a bee line for the left side of pitch where he feels far more at home. Unfortunately he often forgets to pass the ball to anyone.
Aaron Cynthia Lennon.1 - Runs like a gurrl.
Theo Walcott.1 - So named for his addiction to lollipops. At only 5 years old, Theo is the youngest member of the squad. In a famous incident at the Emirates stadium, once received the ball on the halfway line, ran stupendously fast up the right wing, out of the stadium, up onto the North Circular, the M1, the M6, M74....he was last seen boarding an Icelandic fishing trawler in Wick.

Forwards -
John Wayne Rooney - This grizzled maestro has been shootin' 'em dead for years and can often be seen getting into heated political debates with SWP.1, who is always quick to remind Wayne of his treacherous switch of allegiance from the left wing People's Club to the right wing Free Market Old Trafford Alliance in the 1930s. Whatever you do, don't call him Marion.
Jermaine "Colin" Defoe - No, that is his real name, honestly!

Inevitable substitute -
Saint Peter Crouch - With legs 4.7m long, St Peter breathes the rarified air of heaven, but his arms are only 50cm long, and so he has to go into painful contortions simply to put his shorts on. If he scores in the final he has threatened to break into his famous "rhumba" style dance with dance partner Aaron Cynthia Lennon, who dances like a gurrl.

Enforcer -
Fabio "Peter Grant" Capello - The ex-mafia boss takes no prisoners. Once overheard outside Wemberlee Stadium to a stall holder ".....if I come-a back here and-a find you still-a sell those bootleg Ingerlund t-shirts, I break-a your legs, and-a feed your children to John Terry McCann"

Ambassador -
Sir David of Beckham - with his impeccable good looks and mastery of the English language, Sir David, and his thin wife, are sure to seal the fate of World Cup 2018, which after much soul searching by Herr Adolf Blatter will be awarded to Kyrgyzstan, the new tiger economy of Eastern Europe, or possibly Central Asia. England are next scheduled to host the competition in 1966.

Thank you & goodnight!

2 Apr 2010

Bombay, duck?

Below is a phone conversation I had yesterday with a nice lady from the deepest sub-continent.

Hello suh, my name iss Amira. You Vorta in next Ecton?
Are you Vorta in Ecton?
No, I'm Roger in Northampton
No, you no understand
100% right there, dear
(Slowly) Are-you-v-o-r-t-a-in-next General Ecton?
Ahhh, I see. Indeed I am
You know you MP?
(Resisting urge to say "Am I really?") I know who my MP is, yes
You know who candidate in Ecton is?
I know who one other candidate will be, but there will be more than two standing.
So you know who candidate is?
(Sigh) Yes
Thank you suh, Have a nice day