Friday, 28 December 2007

Apologies ...

... for the lack of posts.

Too many mince pies.

Normal service, etc, in a day or so.

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

A little Boxing Day cheer

Here's the otherwise admirable Andrew Grimson in the Telegraph with an interesting if not wholly convincing take on how and why the Bottler will almost certainly never cut it as PM. It's a little far-fetched but, happily, more or less reaches the right conclusion, ie that Gordo has no chance because his temperamentally unsuited to the job.

Well, I could have told you that. In fact, I have. Often.

But what is striking is that Grimson repeats the barmy line that 'Mr Brown [was] the most successful Chancellor, the Labour Party has ever had.'

True, he doesn't say the most successful chancellor ever, ie from all parties. But it is wearisome, to put it no higher, to see this 'most successful chancellor' old bollocks being rolled out yet again.

He gets hammered in the comments for it.

Friday, 21 December 2007

Because it's Christmas Pt. 6

And, finally, the best line ever from the best Bond film ever.

The man's name, by the way, is Gert Frobe, one of the 20th-century's most underrated actors.


Because it's Christmas Pt. 5

Dainty ain't in it.

Because it's Christmas Pt. 4

Just because she is wonderful, Hun or not.

Because it's Christmas Pt. 3

The worst film ever made (which I saw when I was about 13 and thought sensationally good)? It certainly has the most stupid plot ever devised.

Because it's Christmas Pt. 2

A brief extract from a wonderful, wonderful film, my all-time, number-one favourite.

Because it's Christmas Pt. 1

Some seriously grown-up music.

Happy Christmas Bottler

A little present for you, courtesy of YouGov and the Telegraph.

Twat of the week

President Mahinda Rajapakse of Sri Lanka. Crazy name, crazy guy. And also, from the sound of things, full-time turd.

Read about him here.

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Ana Ivanovic and the reinforced stretch pants

I apologise.

But the celebrated 'mighty bum' picture of Ana now makes what feels like its inevitable appearance on the Daily Brute.

Please note how, despite the presence of practically every press photographer in the world panting for a shot of her underwear, her eye is still on the ball.

A true champ.

Virginia Wade never had to put up with this, you know.

She may be diminutive ...

... she may be deadly dull ... she may even to all intents and purposes be a Hun ... but she is a remarkable woman. And, at 81 years and 244 days, she is now the oldest ever British monarch.

The really extraordinary thing about her is that in her 55 years on the throne her discharge of her constitutional duties has been flawless. It is, properly, a remarkable tribute to her sense of duty that she has never once let slip her views on any matter of public policy.

She is the most potent argument I know in favour of constitutional monarchy.

Why I love Matthew Parris

I am a bit slow with this one but it is so palpably a bulls eye that I am going to post it anyway.

Here is the noble Parris wrapping up a piece on the Bottler in today's Times.

I could go on. But I promise not to. Look, in return for easing up on this in 2008, can I just say one thing now about this madness stuff? With Tony Blair it was a metaphor. With Gordon Brown it's a diagnosis.

Read it all here.

It can never be said ...

... often enough that everything the Bottler does is designed with one end and one end only in mind: to ensure he is not ranked among the Britain's shortest-serving prime ministers. So if he has to spend £100bn on Northern Rock to keep himself in power, however precariously, however ignobly, he will.

The prospect of having to endure Cherie's hideous pleasure should he fail after having been forced for so many years to assume his most unconvincing grin as Tony hogged the limelight would be more than he could endure.

The irony, of course, is that however much of our money he flings at Northern Rock, it still won't work. He will still, ignominiously and humiliatingly, be forced from No. 10, whatever his grim, sweaty determination to cling on, for the most obvious reason of all: he is spectacularly unsuited to be prime minister.

Put it another way, even in his own warped terms the money spent on Northern Rock might just as well be piled into a vast heap and set on fire.

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Dunwoody done very, very, very goody

Not entirely unreasonably I think, my initial reaction to Gwyneth Dunwoody's astonishing assault yesterday in the Commons on the dwarfish Hazel Blears was that it was part of the Blarite undermining of the Bottler that, inevitably, is now poised to turn very, very nasty, whatever Tony's protestations of innocence as he surreptitiously unleashes his attack dogs.

After all, Mandelson, though with less precision that might have been expected, has already had one go. Charles Clarke, a man who has even more reason to be bitter, another.

Yet Dunwoody's flaying of Blears was clearly of a different order.

It was that rarest of rare parliamentary performances: the defence of a genuine principle made with no thought for party or personal advantage. It was also notably well delivered. In short, it was heartfelt, honest and true.

This is the kind of attack any current Labour minister, entangled in self-spun webs of deceit, desperate for any momentary advantage and terrified of the Bottler's increasingly random clunking vengeance, is strikingly ill-equipped to rebut. That it came from a member of their own party makes it all the more devastating.

But it underlines, too, just how much the career politician has undermined the House of Commons. Dunwoody may be even more hideous than Anne Widicombe. She may also be a socialist. But as the longest serving woman MP in the House and with zero prospect of a government job, she has the overriding advantage of being able to say what she thinks.

In short, she is worth the two Ballses, both Milibands, the Alexanders (Mr and Mrs) and the Bottler eight million times over.

By comparison, the tiddly-widdly Blears registers as a momentary blip at best, a tiny, irrelevant distraction.

The true cost of Gordo

If, as seems increasingly likely, the Bottler resisted attempts to sell Northern Rock to Lloyds TSB before the crisis first broke so as not to jeopardise the run-up for the election-that-wasn't ; and if, as seems almost certain, as a result the cost to every single taxpayer in the country is now going to be £1,800, you can only conclude that our 'greatest ever chancellor' and 'master strategist' has managed the seemingly impossible feat of making Edward Heath appear a figure to dwarf Abe Lincoln, Bismarck, FDR, Churchill and de Gaulle combined.

Doing my bit ...


... for an EU referendum.

This where you need to go to sign. Or just click on the banner above.

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

For the avoidance of doubt ...

... can I just make it clear that I have no interest whatsoever in the LibDem leadership vote beyond saying that I suspect Clegg's win will produce a bounce of sorts for the LibDems which will almost certainly be at Labour's expense?

That's all.

Monday, 17 December 2007

Flavia Pennetta

Another bellissima tennis player. Not quite the world shaker who is Ana Ivanovic.

But dead sexy nonetheless.

So here's a tiny picture of Flavia Pennetta, Italian, fabulous and wonderful, to whom I will always remain true.

She is engaged to ex-world no. 1 Carlos Moyer – and is a jolly good friend of Rafael Nadal.

None of which changes the fact that my heart is Ana's - except when it is Flavia's, which it often is – even when she is losing – which is embarrassingly often – when of course I then love her all the more.

Lovely teeth, no?

'Any uncertainty or concern'

It just gets worse and worse.

And they have been siting on this since May.

Roll on ID cards.

PS Happy Christmas Gordo.

Brown: dead meat

It's worth stepping back a moment to take stock of the great Brown implosion.

Without question, it has been the most spectacular political collapse of modern times.

Three months ago, the Brown bounce an apparently palpable success, the Tories looked dead and buried, on the verge of Ed Balls's Dracula-like desire to exterminate them.

The Bottler himself, teeth fixed, shoes gleaming, new suits bought, ties carefully chosen, appeared the epitome of everything he boasted he was: wise, calm, informed, far sighted.

Blair, the prancing jackanapes, was history. Brown, 'the most successful chancellor' we had ever had, had come into his rightful inheritance. Stability, sobriety and gravitas loomed.

The ensuing disaster has no precedent.

We have been treated to a master-class in the pyschologically flawed.

Everything that was ever feared about Brown has come to pass not so much with a vengeance, more with a series of self-inflicted nuclear explosions.

Northern Rock, uncounted illegal immigrants, HMRC's limitless incompetence and his own party's apparent inability to resist a bung may not be entirely his fault. But the on-again, off-again election and the laughably unnecessary refusal to turn up in Lisbon to sign the EU Treaty incontestably are.

Combined with an apparent economic meltdown in the immediate future, which will surely detonate his portentous claims to economic competence, they have left him reeling, the victims of events he is clearly unable to understand let alone to shape.

But they pale in comparison with what has properly emerged as his most obvious shortcoming. The man who long boasted that only he – he of the great brain and the proper seriousness – could be trusted to run the country has been exposed as a fraud.

Not just a bully, not just a coward, not just a man trapped in a grim Scottish childhood which he has no less grimly attempted to suggest makes him uniquely fitted to lend us all his wisdom when, in reality, a serious course of psychoanalysis suggests itself. Rather, overwhelmingly, he has been shown up as a kind of precocious five-year-old in a badly fitting overcoat who we all, initially impressed by his use of long words and evident seriousness, were stunned into an alarmed silence by.

Until, inevitably, it became clear that he was just a five year old, one, moreover, unusually prone to tantrums to get his own way.

Those who mourn the emasculation of political life in 21st-century Britain can at least console themselves with two thoughts.

It has taken less than six months to expose Brown for the fraud that he is.

And that his great sulk when, inevitably he is ousted, will entertain us all for years.

Friday, 14 December 2007

Twat of the week

Read about it here.

Interesting selection of comments, too.

Tribute to Stanislas

Stanislas, the self-styled young Polish plumber, is the greatest star of the blogosphere, bar none. This, pinched wholesale by me, is his latest comment on Guido on the subject of Hazel Blears. It is brilliant.

Dwarf is ok. Not crime to be dwarf. Not ideal, mind. Nobody go down NHS headshrinker and say Fuck me Doc, is dwarf trapped in body of average size person, need counselling and operation and chop some out of leg, or squash in vice so is three feet high with head like fucking scrunched-up beach ball; can't go on if not allowed to be true to dwarf nature, get job in circus and James Bond movie. You know, is dwarf right to fucking choose, spend whole fucking life trapped in wrong body and demand operation. Never fucking happen in million year. Not even in fucking Redditch.

Why then has dwarves got own ministry of fucking dwarf community head up by dwarf fucking nitwit from Coronation Street, Blears the fucking red painted hair imbecile ? Eh? Head all sprayed up in British Leyland red. Is take positive discriminate too fucking far. How many fucking dwarves is there, anyway, to require own ministry ? I bet is only about six, although thinking about it, is easy for them to hide, just open cupboard under sink and fucking walk in; could be millions of the fuckers and nobody know. All look the fucking same anyway. Maybe come out at night and walk about in short shadows.

Whichever is true about how many are dwarves, hiding in cupboard like Albanian sex worker, is definitely one too many fucking dwarf on Question Time. And fucking Moron should leave off cocaine for five minutes or so. And fucking nutter woman from Cameron needs to grow a fucking brain with something in it. What kind of fucking unfortunate would take advice from that fucking eejit? Is not really adviser to leader of HM Opposition? For the love of God, country is gone in drain. Not matter about get fucked up arse by EuroBandit. Is already govern by dwarves and arsebandits and fucking Tony McNutter. Is time for abandon all hope amd get pissed.

Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Moral compasses

It can never be stated often enough that the Bottler's moral compass responds to the pull of a magnetic pole entirely of his own fevered devising: how to avoid becoming one of the country's shortest-serving prime ministers.

It is his sole objective and it determines everything he does.

Smaller brains

As further evidence of just why the Bottler is so clearly unsuited to be prime minister, his on-again, off-again decision to go to Lisbon to sign the not-the-EU-Constitution can hardly be bettered.

In the first instance, he was clearly running scared of being personally associated with the treaty by signing it in an ostentatious public ceremony despite his repeated insistence that it is 'good for Britain' . Hence the transparently engineered 'diary clash' that kept him in London. Hence, too, the crudely signalled message that in staying away he was also affirming his Eurosceptic credentials, however much of a nonsense these made of his repeated claims that the treaty is 'good for Britain' and his clumsy insistence on his 'red lines'.

That such childish ruses would instantly be seen through seems never to have occurred to him. Ditto that they would also earn him the barely disguised scorn of his fellow European leaders, every single one of whom – Sarko, Merkel, et al – took part in the public signing.

At a stroke – though not of a pen – Europhiles and Eurosceptics alike were alienated.

Blustering, he then affected surprise that anyone could be exercised about so 'trivial' a matter but decided to fly to Lisbon anyway though only to sign the treaty in private several hours after the principal players had left the stage.

Prevarication meets miscalculation meets cowardice meets buffoon.

And this is the 'master strategist'?

'Psychologically flawed' hardly hints at the man's shortcomings.

Really, really IRRITATING

The web may be a wonderful thing but if there is one thing that has recently been driving me potty, loopy, up the wall and has had me tearing my hair out, foaming at the mouth, uttering incoherent oaths and imprecations and tempting me to hurl a brick through my otherwise lovely flat screen, it is the increasing prevalence of advertisements masquerading as tiny movies. The Daily Telegraph, in particular, is a persistent offender.

Even at their least obtrusive, they are a permanent distraction, flickering images insistently drawing attention to themselves. However much you try to ignore them, there they always are in all their digital pointlessness.

Worse still are those that unfold across the page, normally directly over whatever it is you are trying to read so that you have to look at them if only to click the tiny 'close' button in the corner.

Given that most are selling the likes of Rolexes and Mercedes, the likelihood that they might tempt me to buy whatever they are touting is academic anyway. But even were I Roman Abramovich, it would put me off them for life. In fact, were I Roman Abramovich I think I would seriously consider buying the businesses concerned so that I could instantly fire their entire marketing departments. And get new advertising companies.

More porkies from the Bottler

Hot on the heels of yesterday's startling, foam-flecked assertion at PMQs by the Bottler that Britain had the 'fastest-growing economy in Europe' comes a claim in his Times interview today that, ' we have managed to get inflation down to grow as an economy'.

To the extent that this means anything at all, as Fraser Nelson highlights in the Spectator it is 'flatly untrue'.

Chalk up another one for the clunking brain, boys.

A government promise

Today the Bottler belatedly makes his way to Lisbon to sign the not-the-EU-Constitution.

I hope these words, from his own party's 2005 general election manifesto, will reverberate in his head.

We will put it [the European Union constitution] to the British people in a referendum and campaign whole-heartedly for a 'Yes' vote.

He may also like to consider the following from his own boss at the time:

We don't know what is going to happen in France, but we will have a referendum on the constitution in any event—and that is a government promise.

That is a government promise.

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Uppity Turkish clod 'offended' by football shirt

Read about it here.

Still, if Turkish 'lawyer' Baris Kaska was offended by Inter Milan's shirts, I am even more offended by his impertinent claims to the sanctimonious high ground.

Clearly, number one turd.

Europe's fastest-growing economy

In what was otherwise a rather lacklustre PMQs, the Bottler, responding to a flurry of questions from our Dave, asserted that Britain's was 'the fastest-growing economy in Europe'.

It isn't. Not by miles.

It's the 17th fastest-growing economy.

A little flustered there, eh Gordo.

Being British with the Bottler

It is a wonder that the Bottler can seriously believe anyone is taken in by his self-serving championship of Britishness.

Today, the Telegraph, continuing its apparent new role as official mouthpiece of the Labour government, carries a nauseatingly insincere article by him in which, pausing only to wipe away a manly tear as he contemplates 'three momentuous centuries of British history', he ringingly declares his passionate attachment not just to the very idea of Britishness but affirms its central role in the national curriculum. He also asserts how 'excited' he is by proposals for a National Museum of British History and, depressingly, that he wants to establish an Institute of Britishness.

Is this the same Bottler who was one of the key architects of Scottish devolution, a move no less transparently designed to perpetuate Labour's political stranglehold north of the border (and note please that, as with so many of the great strategist's fiendishly brilliant plans, it didn't work)? Well, yes, it is.

So here are three points worth stressing.

One, his Institute of Britishness. Its purpose would be, 'so that we can discuss, debate and celebrate the ideas and the writings that have made Britain the great country it is.'

It may genuinely come as news to the Bottler but, do you know what? You don't need an Institute to be able to do this. Anyone at any time can already 'discuss, debate and celebrate' Britain – or indeed denigrate it if they want – in any way they choose. And funnily enough, lots of people already do, including, as the more observant will have spotted, the Bottler himself.

Put it another way, not only would such an Institute be wholly redundant, any organisation established in pursuit of a purely party political objective would be self-evidently suspect. Jolly nice of course for those appointed to run it (I assume at public expense). But otherwise little more than a front for the Labour party.

Two, the National Museum of British History. Whether housed in a purpose-built building or an existing one, it would, in the truest traditions of all public works in modern Britain, open years behind schedule and miles over budget (for a direct comparison, consider the shambles of the British Library); b) bearing in mind the half-witted tosh that was heaped in a panic into the Millennium Dome – intended of course to celebrate Britain as a 'young country' rather than its past but nonetheless the product of no less politically driven a goal – it is more than merely probable that any such collection would be a similarly incoherent muddle.

Perhaps without quite meaning to, the Bottler rather gives the game away anyway, commenting that, 'Our cities already hold the greatest collection of national museums and galleries in the world'. The French and Italians may take issue with this but clearly Britain, London in particular, does have a series of outstanding museums: the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum, the V&A, the National Gallery, the Tate Gallery, the National Maritime Museum and the British Museum to name only the biggest and the best – and yes, it may be worth pointing out that there is already a British Museum and indeed has been since 1759.

But to create a new National Museum of British History would, I presume, meaning raiding these existing collections and, no doubt, others across the country, with the result that they were accordingly weakened. These are organisations whose worth is undoubted, testament to the foresight, energy and imagination of our 18th- and 19th-century forebears. The Bottler proposes in effect to undermine them in order to erect a monument to himself. On the whole, I'd be inclined to leave them be, Gordo. They work.

Three, not the least repellent aspect of Gordo's article is his attempt to portray himself almost literally as father of the nation. His penchant for photo opportunities in schools, for example, is rapidly becoming a leitmotif of his sorry premiership. Thus, today, he emotes moistly about the 'fascinated faces of children looking around the building [Downing Street] for the first time'. Ditto, 'the same bright, fascinated faces [of] young people walking around the Houses of Parliament or visiting the Cabinet War Rooms.'

He then asserts that he is, 'clear that Britain's story ought to be at the heart of history in schools'.

Yes, it should be. Leave aside the fact that he and his party have already had over 10 years to make this the case; leave aside, too, that Britain's state schools have inexorably declined over the same period. If he is serious about really making history, specifically British history, 'central to the modern curriculum', then only the more obviously deluded and deranged would oppose him.

But you know it is all just so much noise, just words, platitudes. It will never happen.

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Climate change bollocks (again)

If you assume, as is only reasonable, that the prophets of man-made climate change are the direct spawn of the counter-culture of the 1960s, credulous victims of a wide-eyed belief in the inherent wickedness of consumerism, instinctively anti-capitalist, anti-western and above all anti-American, then their desire to drive us back into the Stone Age to atone for our spoliation of the Earth, however obviously the product of their over-heated imaginations, at least has a certain logic.

But what I find baffling is why their alarmist vapourings have been so uncritically accepted by governments across the globe, above all in the West. It may be more or less understandable that those of a left-leaning bent would find some sympathy with the advocates of doom. Not only are they likely to find the political message to their taste, but presenting climate change in apocalyptic terms, typically comparing it to a Third World War – see here and here – allows near limitless scope for them to enact drastic new powers with which to boss us all about.

You can also understand why the BBC or the more sanctimonious kind of twat – the pious George Monbiot leaps to mind – should so actively propagate this fiction.

Yet even more or less apparently sane right-leaning governments seem incapable of doing anything other than swallowing the climate-change line whole as though it was a properly scientific certainty rather than a political provocation.

Faced with an apparent threat of this magnitude, self-evidently it is any government's first duty to assess it rationally. No less self-evidently, wherever you look the precise opposite is happening.

As a result, we have bonkers schemes such as that proclaimed yesterday by John Hutton, the government's 'business secretary', whereby every home in Britain should, he claims, be powered by wind-generated energy by 2020. This is more than averagely demented. It suggests the total failure of what may once have passed for his higher brain functions (if any).

Wind turbines are a scam, subsidised at vast expense, hideously ugly and almost completely useless.

Commanding that 'thousands' of them be built all around Britain's coasts is not so much New Labour as New Dementia, an absolute refusal to challenge, even to question, the eco-fascist orthodoxy that only drastic action NOW! can save us. It is also the cheapest of cheap political tricks, a shameless attempt to play to the gallery knowing that someone else will have to deliver his meaningless goal.

It is enough to drive anyone to drink.

More Stade Francais

Watching the French rugby team Stade Francais, they of the celebrated chintz-curtain shirts, playing the Cardiff Blues in the Heineken Cup in Paris last Sunday, I was delighted to find that not only did they send the kicking tee onto the field in a remote-controlled shocking-pink toy car but they had painted the goal posts pink.

It is indeed a man's game in gay Paree.

For those with a taste for these things, the 2008 edition of the club's famous poovey calender, Dieux du Stade, pictured above, is now available.

Perhaps the Daily Brute should send one to Iain Dale for Christmas.

Rachel Sylvester nobbled again

Poor old Rachel Sylvester has written the most astonishingly stupid article about Ed Balls in the Telegraph.

How can she allow herself to be nobbled in this way?

'Mr Balls [Mr. Balls? Mr. Balls? What's wrong with plain Balls?] is, she tells us, 'phenomenally bright'. Well, that's crap for starters. What he actually is, Rachel, is 'phenomenally nasty'.

Even more gushingly she then writes that 'A 20-minute coffee with him is more rewarding than a two-hour lunch with most ministers.' (Actually, there may be some tiny truth in this given how staggeringly thick 'most ministers' are – but not much).

No less preposterously she quotes as evidence of his intellectual dexterity, to say nothing of his capacity for Peter Cook style dazzling repartee, that when, horribly, he was pressed into service as Father Christmas last Saturday at No. 11 Downing Street's Christmas party – itself surely a supremely grisly occasion – he replied 'quick as a flash' to a child who asked for a new pair of shoes for Christmas that he/she should 'Get your parents to use their child benefit to buy them'.

Golly. One in the eye for Oscar Wilde there. Repartee ain't in it. Razor-sharp stuff. Whoo!

She also claims – and the poor woman has clearly been heavily worked over by someone – that the 'Department for Children, Schools and Families,' which Balls heads, is, among much else, 'responsible for the work-life balance and children's television'.

Leaving aside the question of what exactly the 'work-life balance' is, other than a typically vacuous example of 'world-class' NuLab bollocks, in what conceivable sense is Balls in charge of 'children's television'?

But the true test of her obvious lunacy is that she seems to think Balls might genuinely be PM one day.

I have said it before and I am happy to say it again. There is not one chance in eight hundred billion of Balls ever becoming prime minister. Not one.

He is a properly hideous combination of thug, Mekon and pre-programmed NuLab back-room conspirator. He also has a stutter.

He is wholly, utterly and totally loathesome, smug beyond measure, conceited beyond caricature. He is almost certainly also a crook.

I defy anyone to claim otherwise.

Reasons to be cheerful? Ha! bleeding Ha!

Apologies for the lack of posts over the last couple of days but I have been gripped by a profound sense of gloom, an icy melancholy at the state of the world that has made the prospect of posting seem largely futile.

On the other hand, it was precisely my desire to highlight these limitless follies that lead me to start the Daily Brute in the first place – that and the fact that it is entirely free.

So perhaps I should attempt to articulate what it is that has sparked my sense of bleakness.

That a change, one very much for the worse, has overtaken public life is incontestable. It may not have happened exclusively since 1997. But it has certainly accelerated dramatically since then.

Its most obvious manifestation has been a grossly bloated public sector, which, as it has expanded, has become simultaneously more expensive, more inefficient and more intrusive. It is at the heart of the absurdities of health and safety, the complete uselessness of the police, the collapse of the NHS and education, the utter lack of any coherent transport policy, the utter failure to control immigration and the grotesque swindle that we are all at imminent risk of global warming. Simultaneously, politicians at both national and local level, in addition to paying themselves ever more generously, regulate ever more ferociously, with the inevitable result that the above processes accelerate relentlessly.

In the meantime, the government seems to have decided that as it has lied so often and for so long, it may as well make this official policy. Iraq, cash for honours, donorgate are three clear examples. But there is a fourth, in many ways the most depressing of all: the European Constitution/Treaty.

It is an act of astounding conceit and dishonesty on the part of the government that, having explicitly promised a referendum on the Constitution, it should now, amid a cacophony of irrelevant gabble about 'red lines', break that promise on the transparently untrue ground that the Treaty is not the Constitution. This is a lie, pure and simple. Further, everyone knows it. Yet still the government gets away with this outrageous deceit, calculating entirely cynically that if it ploughs ahead regardless we will all just shrug our shoulders and chalk it up as yet another act of Euro-deception.

It seems worth adding that the Bottler's decision not to sign the Treaty personally, claiming a patently bogus 'diary clash', is an exact measure of his self-proclaimed 'moral compass', an instrument so flawed as to be wholly worthless.

The question is, why do we put up with it? Why do we allow them to get away with this relentless lying?

I wish I knew the answer. We seem all too ready to allow what is unquestionably the nastiest government Britain has ever known, a hideous collection of grasping mediocrities, to push us around more or less at will.

Depressing or what?

Saturday, 8 December 2007

EU stitch-up

I am utterly at a loss to understand why there will be 'lengthy ratification process' in Parliament in the New Year over the EU Treaty/Constitution?

It is being signed formally next Tuesday in Lisbon – though it turns out the Bottler has bottled it again and will not be there himself – which is to say that, whatever happens in Parliament, it will have been enacted anyway.

So what is the point?


For once there is actually some good news on education.

Read it here.

Friday, 7 December 2007

The Friday afternoon ...

... nutter video.

No! No! No! Eeeeh!

According to the estimable Ben Brogan, there will be a children's Christmas party tomorrow at No. 11 Downing Street.

Unbelievably – tell me it isn't true, please! – Ed Balls will be Father Christmas. Even more bizarrely, it is said he has his own Father Christmas outfit.

What have the poor children press-ganged along to this grim event done to deserve this?

I can only assume they must all have been very, very bad this year.

Thursday, 6 December 2007

More Labour meltdown

I had been hoping to watch wee Wendy being eaten alive by Alex Salmond in First Minister's Questions. But for reasons unknown, I can't get Holyrood TV to work on my Mac. I've tried it in Safari and I've tried it in Camino. Same result. Damn and blast.

Never mind, I will content myself by pointing out that there is an excellent piece in the Spectator by Fraser Nelson - crazy name, crazy guy! - about the electoral woes facing the Bottler. In short, can he make it to the next election?

But he makes two points that seem to me dead wrong.

First, he describes the Bottler as: 'a Prime Minister who sold himself as dull but competent, and is now seen merely as dull.'

On the contrary, I wouldn't say he was seen as 'merely dull'. I would say he was seen as deeply, in fact instinctively duplicitous.

Second, he seems to take seriously the prospect that Balls may one day emerge as a credible contender for the party leadership and for PM.

I would like to place on record that there is no possibility of Balls ever becoming prime minister. He is not merely a natural backroom schemer and thug, he is the proud possessor of that rarest of rare characteristics: a entirely charisma-free personality. By comparison, the Bottler is a care-free combination of Eric Morecombe and Michael Palin.

There is more chance of Arthur Scargill making it to No 10 than Balls. Even Bill and Ben the Flower Pot Men are more credible (with Little Weed as chancellor).

Reasons for crazed cackling

Three stories to which the only rational response is to run outside screaming at the limitless inanities of the world. Plus one to cheer us all up.

First up, as reported by every newspaper in the country, though this is as good an example as any, comes the news that faith schools – Jewish and Catholic in particular – have, again, dominated primary school league tables.

The reasons are far from obscure. They believe in structure, in discipline and in work. Yet instantly it is asserted by the usual gang of half-wit lefty educationalists that their success is the exclusive result of 'covert' selection, with only the brightest, predominantly middle class children being accepted. There is as yet no concerted campaign for them to be scrapped, as with grammar schools. But I feel quite sure that their continued success will inevitably lead to one.

In other words, the instinctive reaction of the educational establishment is to demand that success be outlawed when, self-evidently, the precise opposite should happen, ie that non-faith schools model themselves on faith schools.

It is more than merely pernicious. It is evil.

Second up, courtesy of Mr Eugenides, comes news that due to a 'diary clash', ie a meeting with the incredibly important 'Commons liaison committee', the Bottler may not be able to attend the formal signing of the EU reform treaty (but not constitution note) in Lisbon next week.

Self-evidently, having blatantly broken the manifesto commitment to hold a referendum on the treaty/constitution, the Bottler doesn't want to be the one to sign his name on it on behalf of Britain. By all accounts, the hapless Miliband will be dispatched in his place.

As an attempt to evade responsibility – to be able to say "Oh! But I didn't sign it!' – it is an act of transparent dishonesty, part pathetic, mostly beneath contempt.

Then, via both the Englishman and DK, Climate Skeptic has a remarkable account of just how the IPPC distorts data in the interests of an obviously political agenda. Seriously, how has the great climate change scam been swallowed so credulously?

And the good news? That fully four years ago, as the Guardian scoops, 'two middle-ranking Labour officials' cooked up the deal whereby international man of mystery David Abrahams could, as they thought, legally donate money to the party via intermediaries. In other words, they spotted a loophole in Labour's own Political Parties Act of 2000 and, surprise, surprise, took advantage of it 'even though it went against the spirit of the legislation which is to ensure transparency for all donations to political parties'.

Needless to say, the then general secretary at the time, Lord Triesman, 'has categorically denied that he had any knowledge of the agreement'.

I just love these people. They are so bent. And it comes so naturally to them.

Of course, the only drawback here is that the Bottler will now be able to claim it was all Blair's doing.

There is an interesting footnote to the story, too. The penultimate paragraph reads:

It is now likely that the Electoral Commission will apply to the court to reclaim the £650,000 from the party, and then hand the cash to the taxpayer.

Bit queer this, no? Over the weekend, the culture minister, James Purnell, claimed the money had already been returned. At least, that's what it says here.

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

The ravishing Ana

Someone's been to the hairdresser.

Ooh! What it must be to have your own team of image stylists.

Note that they have gone for the artlessly wind-blown look here, plus obligatory glistening teeth.

Jolly nice.


The Englishman highlights an intriguing story in Time, in which the magazine accuses the French of no longer being able to lay claim to much in the way of culture, indeed that French culture is as good as dead. It has provoked predictably outraged howls of protest in France itself.

But this pained reaction also points up one of the more unusual aspects of the French psyche: that the French need constant reassurance that their cultural contributions to the world – in fact their contributions to the world, full stop – are as remarkable as they assert. There is a curious insecurity, almost a neurosis, at work here and I have never entirely understood why.

America aside, there is practically no country in the world that can legitimately claim to have had a more sustained and deep-rooted cultural impact on the modern world than France. Modern art, to take merely one example, is to all intents and purposes a French invention. Fashion, film, philosophy and literature all bear a similarly clear French imprint. Moreover, is there any country where the arts of civilised living have been raised to a higher pitch? And this is as true of urban life (the banlieus aside) as it is of rural life.

Could anyone other than the French have come up with champagne? Or cognac, come to that?

Of course, the country has enormous natural advantages: a vast coastline (crucial in the pre-aviation age in giving access to the wider world), a climate that is near consistently benign and a huge range of landscapes. It is also the only European country that is both northern and Mediterranean. Plus, at least in European terms, it is very large. (There is an interesting aside here: ask any Frenchman or woman which is the largest country in western Europe and I guarantee they will say Germany. The actual answer, needless to say, is France.)

That it has exploited this head start to the full is equally incontrovertible. To a significant degree, the appeal of France is precisely its heady mix of landscapes that seem to have been precisely created as a backdrop to a cultural richness that, while part of a wider European whole, is nonetheless distinctively and unmistakably French. So why are they so touchy about it? What's the problem?

If there is an answer it is chiefly a combination of fear of, and resentment towards, the Anglo-Saxon world, which for the French means a malign mixture of Britain and the United States. Anglo-French military rivalry, which lasted from the 100 Years' War to Waterloo, may have ended with the defeat of Napoleon but in every other field, above all the competing claims of industry and the scramble for empire, the rivalry endured and endures, despite, possibly because of, the EU.

America presents a different problem. On the one hand, France's role in helping to secure American independence, however much this stemmed at least as much from the desire to do down Britain as to extend liberty to a nascent United States, remains a source of justified pride. It equally underlines how much ideals of modern liberty owe to 18th-century France, for all that the country's absolutist monarchy was anything but a friend to liberty so far as the king's own subjects were concerned.

Yet on the other hand, France's attitude to America is notoriously snooty, with the country widely dismissed as crassly commercial and, isolated pockets aside, astoundingly unsophisticated, at any rate in French terms.

There is considerable resentment at work here, of course. For one thing, the French have never quite forgiven the Americans for liberating them from the Nazis – Britain of course also falls into this category, albeit on a smaller scale. Much more importantly, however, they can't allow themselves to acknowledge America's global cultural hegemony, to say nothing of its financial and military clout, roles which in a properly ordered French world would be the exclusive preserve of France itself.

That France should be sucked into America's dumbed down world, in which practically every sense of what is fitting is overturned; that, worse still, the French language should have to cede primacy to English; and that, ultimately, there is nothing that can be done to reverse this inexorable cultural take-over are matters to have even the most sanguine members of Academie Francaise stamping their feet in fist-clenching fits of impotent rage.

But interestingly this chip on the shoulder does not extend to what might most properly be thought the real Anglo-Saxon world, to wit Germany. On the face of it, this seems strange given that three times in 70 years France was invaded by Germany, twice being defeated while its only victory, in the First World War, was arguably Phyrric at best. How else to regard the deaths of 1.4 millon Frenchmen? It was also of course hugely dependent on Britain and, in the end, America. On the other hand, Germany post-1945, ruined and prostrate, was clearly very different from the aggressively expansionist Germany of the years between 1870 and 1945. There is much truth in the celebrated claim that, for France, the fundamental impetus behind the EU is a French jockey on a German horse.

But this still doesn't entirely explain why the French should be so defensive about their cultural impact or so quick to take offence when it is questioned – or at least when they think it is being questioned. After all, the Italians don't seem to feel the need to bridle in the same way. True, Italy has never had designs on global hegemony. Further, by at least the mid-18th century, what in the Middle Ages had been an economic and political powerhouse had subsided into an economic basket case thrown back on tourism and able only to point to past glories. So perhaps they have just had longer to come to terms with their reduced status.

But I still find it odd that a country with so much to boast about should continually feel the need to do so.

I suspect I am going to have to return to this subject. After all, there is the small matter of whether or not Time's provocative claim is right.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

For those fed up with self-serving politicians

Try this instead.

Another 'best-ever' year

Ayone who can bear to can read about yet another calamitous performance by British schools here.

Please note the particularly felicitous comment from schools minister, 'Jim' Knight.

Odd that Balls didn't seem to have anything to say.

The Great Steersman

In the course of an otherwise highly critical article of the Bottler in the Daily Mirror (ooh! warning bells!), Kevin Maguire, obviously unable to cast the Bottler adrift entirely, claims that with two-and-a-half years until the next election (assuming Gordo takes it to the wire, John Major style) there is 'plenty of time to recover' for the man who is 'still this era's greatest political strategist'.

Much like the similarly threadbare claim that the Bottler is 'our greatest-ever chancellor', so the idea that he is a formidably astute politician, biggest of the big brains, hatching schemes of Byzantine brilliance, is still occasionally trotted out.

I can explain it only by presuming that it is a testament to years of relentless Labour spin, the idea having been so firmly implanted it is proving all but impossible to erase.

But if the on-off election disaster of the autumn proved anything it is that, left to his own devices, the Bottler is a supremely inept strategist, 'clunking' in ways Blair clearly never meant.

How else to explain his transparently clumsy digging of a trap for his opponents into which, flailing, he promptly plunged? And which master strategist would allow himself to be so obviously manipulated by his very nasty, grasping and no less obviously inexperienced inner circle?

Whatever else he may be, the Bottler is no Bismarck, not even a baby version.

Managing the unmanageable

I had been turning over vaguely the thought of a mega-post dissecting the myriad failings of the great and glorious Labour government.

However, having just read Wat Tyler's post this morning on precisely this subject, I am quite sure I could never have put it more precisely or pithily.

True, he confines his remarks to domestic policy.

But it is a magisterial summing-up.

Rush there and read it.

Monday, 3 December 2007

Squalid, shameful, shifty

Slice it any way you like, it is a grotesque parody of any claims to 'joined-up government', to say nothing of the Bottler's much-vaunted 'trust' and 'transparency', that Wendy Alexander should still be leader of the Labour party in Scotland.

She has broken the law. Not merely a law introduced by her own party, one that even those with no more than bird-brain-like claims to common sense would have realised it was essential to honour and to be seen to be honouring, but one that carries with it an unlimited fine or a year in prison.

There has been much comment on the fact that her defence – that there was no 'intentional wrong-doing' on her part – is laughably inadequate. Parallels with those who break the speed limit and hope to get off by claiming they hadn't realised their offence have been widely drawn.

But for me still the most shocking aspect of the affair is that she is being kept in power by the Labour government itself solely in order to protect the Bottler. If she goes, the dominoes topple inexorably. Thus, reportedly, she was ready to step down on Sunday only to be talked out of it – in fact, 'ordered' not to 'in a stark message' - by her brother, Douglas Alexander, who, in the truest traditions of Scottish socialist oligarchical politics, is not merely a member of the Bottler's cabinet but his election supremo.

Which brings us up to the squalid heart of this squalid business. Many have commented that the real scandals of this government are not the petty law-breaking of undeclared donations, even by senior members of the government; nor even the £650,000 illegally channelled to and as illegally accepted by the party.

Northern Rock, 25 million missing personal records, the armed forces chronically and consistently undermined, the rampant spread of killer bugs in hospitals, perhaps above all an economy mired in debt and poised to slide into a painful recession, taking house prices with it: these, it is said, are the real indictments of Labour, begun under Blair, whose greasy finger-prints can all too readily still be seen, and continued under the Bottler.

I disagree. No one can dispute the seriousness of the above crises, the startling legacy of 10 years of ineptitude and top-down big government, the whole at a prodigious and growing financial cost. The economy above all may yet be what does for the Bottler.

Nonetheless, what is so striking about Donorgate is not just the systematic corruption and disdain for the law it has revealed at the heart of the government but that the default party reaction to it is that at all costs the Bottler himself must be protected. And the reason for this is simple.

Gnawing away at the cold, dead heart of the Bottler is a single, all-consuming imperative: that he cannot at any cost join the ranks of those prime ministers whose terms in office have ended in short-lived ignominy. He has not plotted and schemed for so long and with such single-minded ambition only to find himself turfed out of Downing Street to join the unknown also-rans who comprise the footnotes of prime-ministerial history. Not while the grinning features of Tony Blair, prime minister for over 10 years and winner of three elections, would be there to torment him and to remind him of his failure. The humiliation, to say nothing of the cackling glee of Cherie Blair, would be more than he could bear.

It is in effect one man's glowering vanity and sense of self-worth that insists that wee Wendy, to say nothing of Harriet Harman and Peter Hain, remain in office, however creaking, hollow and obviously self-serving their excuses.

It demeans the whole country. And soon, I am quite sure, it will demean the Bottler, too.

His strategy, no less those of his accolytes – and you can be sure that if he falls he takes them with him – is entirely short-term: to stave off immediate damage in the vague hope that it can be massaged away by new laws on party funding. (It is of course worth pointing out that there are already perfectly clear laws on party funding and that the whole sorry fiasco could easily have been avoided had they be adhered to).

Frankly, it seems incredibly stupid. If, as seems certain, charges are laid against wee Wendy, Harman and Hain, then not even the Bottler can hope to save them. And then the exposure will be more damning than ever. Cut them loose now and he can at least claim to have acted 'rigorously and surgically,' in his own phrase. Something, however ignoble, however rancid, would have been salvaged from the wreckage.

Still, that's what vanity does for you.

Another of Hain's 'administrative errors'?

Guido seems to unearthed another ... erm ... splutter ... splutter ... cough ... 'adminstrative error' on the part of Peter Hain.

A man called Huw Roberts apparently donated money to Hain which has never been registered.

Read it here.

In the meantime, poor old Hain, obviously a very busy and important man with many weighty affairs of state on his mind, nonetheless really ought to think about trying to get to grips with his admin. backlog.

Can't have the paperwork piling up, after all. Who knows, all those unopened letters: think how many more administrative errors they might contain.

A new statement from the busy Mr Hain:

In light of recent events I have undertaken a review of all donations to my deputy leadership campaign.

This afternoon I have been to see the Electoral Commission to inform them that further donations to my campaign were not registered as they should have been.

I am preparing a full declaration to the Electoral Commission.

As soon as I discovered on Thursday that the donation from Jon Mendelsohn had not been registered I took immediate steps to do so and made this public. I am now doing the same about these further donations.

This is extremely regrettable and I apologise.

Extremely regrettable? Extremely, in fact incomprehensibly stupid seems nearer the mark. How thick do you need to be, having been caught out once and maybe, just maybe having squeezed out of trouble, not instantly to have confessed to all your other 'extremely regrettable administrative errors'.

Or perhaps he just has fond memories of being dragged away by the police in happier times. Those were the days, eh Pete? Looks like you could be reliving them all over again.

Blair and the Bottler: just how poisonous was it?

There is a genuinely eye-opening piece by Andrew Rawnsley in the Observer about Donorgate. What is remarkable is less Rawnsley's take on what it all means for the Bottler today so much as his account of a genuinely vicious row between Blair and the Bottler before the cash-for-honours scandal blew up in which, in effect, the 'brutally menacing' Bottler threatened to Blair: 'I'll get you over the peerages'.

It was shortly after this that Jack Dromey, husband of Brownite Harriet Harman, blew the gaff on cash-for-honours, claiming that as party treasurer he had deliberately been kept out of the loop.

If true, this is astounding, evidence not just that the Blair-Bottler relationship was worse than surely almost anyone suspected – and these the two senior figures in the government! – but of the plain, petty, low nastiness of the Bottler, consumed with loathing and frustrated ambition.

And this man talks of his 'moral compass'?

Stupid headline of the day ...

... is, I fear, in the Telegraph.

Cooked food leads to cancer in women, it ringingly declaims.

The Englishman about sums up the only rational response to this tosh.

I wish I'd thought of this

The ever-worthy Climate Skeptic highlights a list complied by a British engineer, Dr John Brignell, of stories, nearly all cataclysmic in varying degrees, ascribed by the media to global warming. Thus far, he has come up with 600 separate topics.

Climate Skeptic highlights just a few of them here. The fill list can be found here.

So you see, it's true. There is nothing global warming, aka climate change, can't do.

Wendy's house

As dumpy, lisping wee Wendy clings on in Scotland, the word is being put around that it is only the Bottler's forbidding her to step down that is preventing her from handing in her resignation. If Wendy is forced to resign over a mere £950, where would that leave Harman and her £5,000, to say nothing of her £40,000 undeclared loan? And if Harman goes, well, who knows who would be next?

True or not, it doesn't change the fact that Wendy's public justification for clinging on, released in a statement yesterday, is feeble even by the scrambling standards of NuLab's best efforts to defuse Donorgate. You can smell the desperation.

She leads off with the ritual guff ('deeply regret the damage which recent publicity has brought to the Labour Party, etc, etc, etc) before getting to the heart of her statement. It is thin, pitiful stuff.

I reject any suggestion of intentional wrong-doing on my part ... I am confident when all the facts are known I will be exonerated of any intentional wrong-doing.

I don't think she has quite got it somehow. The issue is not 'intentional wrong-doing'. It's 'wrong-doing' plain and simple. This is otherwise known as breaking the law.

And on the whole, breaking the law, intentionally or not, is something senior politicians are well advised not to do.

Can she hold out even another 24 hours?

I think the game's up. What's more, I think the Bottler knows it, too.

Next stop Harman?

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Labour corruption? Surely not!

This is interesting.

This is hilarious

From today's Telegraph:

Labour insiders insist that the events of the past few weeks are a blip, and that Mr Brown will rise from the ashes.

Read the whole thing here.

Seriously clever

There is a magnificently subtle, clever and wounding analysis of the Bottler's strange, tormented personality by Howard Jacobson in today's Independent. This is just a taster:

Could it be that the man who was forever in waiting was never really there at all? In the unfairness, as he saw it, of his being brushed aside, in the arrogance of his conviction that he'd do the job far better than the man obstructing him, in his assumption of intellectual superiority, was there in fact no substance beyond pride and pique? Or did he wear away whatever substance he once had in frustrated enmity?

Meanwhile, Matthew Parris in The Times is in similarly scintillating form.

Read them both.

Friday, 30 November 2007

Things have got better – much, much better

I have been very slow off the mark here. I have only just seen Guido's post showing that Mr Eugenides's lust object, petite Wendy Alexander, is now, as he puts it, 'toast', shown up for having incontrovertibly lied about when she knew about the donation made to her by Paul Green.

(As an aside, I think that 'toast' may be an understatement. 'Incinerated' seems nearer the mark to me. But these things are notoriously a matter a taste, of course.)

Two thoughts leap to mind.

One, I cannot wait to see her letter of resignation, which I have no doubt is being composed even now. Stand by for weasel words raised to new heights of sanctimonious special pleading.

Two, tempted though I am to instruct my staff to fetch a second small bottle of pale ale from the cellars to toast (in a different sense, of course) Wendy's imminent humiliation, I cannot help but wonder if her departure won't serve the Bottler's cause. If enough Labour high-ups can be sacrificed – and Harman will surely be the next victim – inevitably the pressure on the Bottler will be reduced. In other words, the corpses strewn so spectacularly in his wake will allow him to assert that he has been ruthless in purging his more unworthy followers, distracting attention from his own wrong-doing.

Still, on the other, other hand, Iain Dale seems to have something pretty killing on the Bottler here.

Cripes, I have never, ever known a meltdown like this. It makes even Major's long drawn-out death throes look dignified.

It is genuinely astounding.

A little something to cheer up the Bottler

He is a keen footy fan, as we know. So perhaps he'll like this.

Stalin to Mr Bean

I do like Youtube (sometimes)

Is Baroness Jay ...

... the ugliest woman in Britain?

On the whole, yes.

Administrative errors

This from Peter Hain, another lucky recipient of Abrahams's largesse back in June, on his regrettable failure to register the donation:

We wish to make clear that this was entirely an administrative error on the part of my campaign. I very much regret the donation was not registered as it should have been and I am taking immediate steps to do so.

I do hope 'adminstrative error' enters the language as code for 'deliberate cover up for as long as I think I can get away with it'.

It would be a worthy companion to 'Ugandan affairs' and 'tired and emotional'.

My mistake. It wasn't Abrahams who gave the money to Hain, it was Mendelsohn, which in some ways is even more sinister.

Poor old Polly

In the midst of yet another plea for the Bottler to radicalise his government in her Guardian column today, La Toynbee makes the following entirely unsupported assertion:

Yet anyone impartial would say that teaching, lessons and schools are almost unrecognisably better than a decade ago.

This bear in mind only two days after the Progress in International Reading Literacy study highlighted that reading ability among English children has plummeted over the last five years, dropping from 3rd to 19th place in its international rankings of children's literacy.

Personally, Poll, I would have said the precise opposite was the case, no?

Still, I applaud your loyalty. Good to know someone is sticking by the Bottler.

Fame! At last, at last!

Your humble Brute, aka The Creator, responded to a question put by Dizzy two days ago to come up with a name for the Labour funding scandal.

In a brilliantly pithy one-word comment, which you can see here, under the post Name That Scandal, he came up with Donorgate.

And now Guido, political conspiracy bloggist par excellence, has endorsed the name, as you can see here.

Well, I see from the Englishman, to whom I am duly indebted, that the Beeb and The Sun have picked up on the name, too.

At this rate, I may be obliged to instruct my domestic staff to fetch a small bottle of pale ale from the cellars.

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Poor old Bottler: a footnote at best?

Anxious as ever to scatter before you the distilled fruits of my political insights, it strikes me that the calamity of the Brown implosion is as opportune a moment as I will ever have.

In the space of two months, Gordon Brown's premiership – long yearned for by him and as long plotted for; triumphantly acclaimed for its spin-free sagacity when, finally, it was confirmed; hailed even more as it then seemingly effortlessly deployed a combination of calm and far-sightedness in the face of a series of early crises – has descended into catastrophe.

Heroic certainty meets daily reality and disintegrates. It hardly inspires.

Startlingly and suddenly, incompetence and corruption are now elbowing each other for first place.

It's unknowable of course, but I'd say that there was every realistic expectation to think that Brown, to the extent that his premiership will trouble historians at all, will emerge only as footnote, the not-very-funny joker in the political pack. In 50 years, who will know the name of the third-shortest serving prime minister?

It amounts to a political horror-show without precedent, an near instantaneous evaporation of 15 years of painstakingly accumulated electoral advantage by Tony Blair, a charlatan but, unlike Brown, a vote winner.

The transformation of Brown from sage father of the nation to sweaty victim of events has been complete.

Labour's apparently impregnable electoral edifice, elaborately built up since 1992, has disintegrated near over night.

Open-mouthed amazement is about the best I can do.

What the Bottler knew – and when

Since his press conference on Tuesday, the Bottler has been insistent that it was only on Saturday night that he knew that David Abrahams had been funnelling donations to Labour through third parties.

When he asserted this, first on Tuesday, then yesterday on PMQs, I took it as read that it must be true. He could not conceivably have made so unequivocal a statement knowing that, if it was later shown to be untrue (aka 'a lie'), he would have been out of No. 10 in about one second flat.

No one who had schemed so assiduously and so deviously for the throne for so long could possibly be prepared to risk it after just five months on a blatant lie. If nothing else, caution is his middle name. Put it another way, calculation is in his blood.

Yet I am seriously beginning to wonder.

It is a certain fact that four Labour big cheeses knew all about Abrahams. If Dale is to be believed, it may have been five. Common sense suggests it was a great deal more.

And none of these people thought to necessary to tell Brown, the same Brown whose campaign team had already turned down a donation from Janet Kidd on the grounds that she was 'not known to them' and who were by definition already suspicious of her?

It makes no sense.

Oh, Mr Bottler.

It looks worse than bad.

Tories 11 points ahead?

And then better and better and better.

Iain Dale reports that a YouGov poll in tomorrow's Telegraph has the Tories 11 points ahead of Labour, on 43 points to 32.

He highlights, too, how the Labour party seems suddenly to be fracturing, with briefings and counter-briefings rife.

Jesus, they are in the deepest of deep doo-doo.

Mendelsohn Mk. 2

This just gets better and better and better.

Here's the Mail reporting that in the spring Mendelsohn had suggested ways of funding candidates for the Labour leadership contest – not that there was one of course – using intermediates.

The pleasure of seeing someone as loathesomely smug and self-satisfied as Mendelsohn being properly exposed is almost more wonderful than I can say.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

The irresistible Ana Ivanovic

Immediate antidote to ugly-mug bruiser Redknapp urgently needed.

A further picture of Serbian sex-bomb Ana herewith rushed into the front line.

Bloody hell, she could fell oak trees with those thighs.

Footy to the rescue

As a dedicated footy fan, no doubt the Bottler will be distraught to learn that Harry Redknapp, the loveable manager of Portsmouth FC, has been hoovered up by the plods for ... er ... irregular transfer dealings, aka bungs.

On the other hand, seeing as this may well put a slightly different slant on Thursday's front pages, perhaps it's good news for Gordo after all.

At any rate, for a slice of Rednapp's limitless charm, take a look a this interview with him on the training pitch.

Great guy. Loves his players. Swears by them.

PS One day I'll be able to do proper links to youtube. In the meantime, apologies for the clunkiness.

A question for Mr Mendelsohn

This is the full text of the statement issued this morning by Jon Mendelsohn, the Bottler's Director of Labour Party General Election Resources. On the whole, I would say there was a very strong case it is bollocks more or less from start to finish.

When it was announced yesterday that Lord Whitty would be investigating the background to these donations to inform the work of Bishop Harries and Lord McCluskey, I immediately offered to provide all of the details I had.

I started in my role as Director of General Election Resources on the 3 September 2007, work I undertake in a voluntary capacity.

When I was researching previous gifts and plans I enquired into the names of individuals I did not know or otherwise recognise which included Janet Kidd, Raymond Ruddick and latterly John McCarthy.

I was informed by Peter Watt to whom I reported that this was an arrangement with David Abrahams which was long-standing and which was appropriately dealt with in relation to the Party's reporting requirements. He told me these donations fully complied with the law and I had no reason to doubt that information.

However I was unhappy with the arrangement whereby donations were taken through a third party and was determined it would not play a part in our future plans. I was very concerned that these arrangements did not meet the strict transparency test that I wished to see in place.

I did not discuss this with the officers of the National Executive Committee or party leadership but I decided to tell Mr Abrahams that his method of contribution was unacceptable. I had no intention of asking Mr Abrahams for donations and wanted to give him the courtesy of explaining this personally.

At the beginning of November I asked my assistant to try and fix a personal meeting with Mr Abrahams so that I could tell him this. He was only given the general reason for the meeting that I wanted to update him on our plans. He declined to have a meeting on this basis. He specifically asked if it was for asking for money and was given the reply that it was to update him on our plans.

I had considered it likely that given our personal history of past disagreements he would be reluctant to meet. I signed a typed letter on the 22nd November. The letter does not ask for funds, but is a polite and courteous request to organise a meeting at which I was planning to tell him of my decision.

I am submitting all this evidence to Lord Whitty.

A number of points, m'lud.

Though it is not clear precisely when Mendelsohn was told by baby-face Watt that Abrahams was the actual donor behind Kidd, Ruddick and McCarthy's apparent donations, it seems that it was some time last month. At that point, according to the statement, Mendelsohn had no reason to believe there was anything unlawful about the donations.

Nonetheless, on Saturday, ie once aware that the story was about to break, Mendelsohn wrote to Abrahams – a handwritten letter according to Abrahams, typed according to Mandelsohn (a discrepancy which only adds to the more-than-slightly surreal air hanging over the entire affair). Abrahams received the letter yesterday, Tuesday (well done the GPO!).

This is the text.

Dear David,

Thank you for your message which Oliver passed onto me. The party is of course very appreciative of all the support you have given over many years. At some point I would like to have the opportunity to talk with you personally about what we are doing and our plans for the time between now and the next general election. I know your diary is very busy but as one of the party’s strongest supporters it is only right that you are kept informed of what we are doing and the priorities that we are assigning to our resources. Any time that your diary allows, when you are next in London, I would very much like to meet to discuss this with you.

Warmest regards,
The Director of General Election Resources

Intriguingly, Labour party 'sources' are apparently claiming the letter was written on Thursday last week and only franked on Saturday, which, if true, wouldn't say much for the efficiency of the party's mail room even if it suggests a rare devotion to duty for staff to have been working over the weekend.

Not entirely unreasonably I'd say, Abrahams interpreted the letter as an invitation to donate more money to Labour. According to Mendelsohn, however, it was to arrange a meeting with Abrahams in which he, Mendelsohn, would tell Abrahams that the party didn't want any more of his money and he could in effect sod off.

And this because, despite Watt's assurances that Abrahams's donations 'fully complied with the law', Mendelsohn had become 'unhappy' about them, in fact so 'unhappy' he had decided further such donations 'would not play a part in our future plans' and that Abrahams's 'method of contribution was unacceptable'.

Crucially, he did this entirely off his own bat, telling no one. In a phrase that might almost have been dictated by the Bottler, he states: 'I did not discuss this with the officers of the National Executive Committee or party leadership'.

So, here is the third-biggest donor to the Labour party since the start of the Bottler's premierships and, entirely on his own initiative, despite the financial crisis facing the party, Mendelsohn decides the party will take no more of his money.

Here is a question for Mendelsohn. It is not hard. When did he write the letter? If it was on Thursday, then it is just about credible that his very pally handwritten/typed letter was
actually no more than the overture to telling Abrahams to bugger off and take his money with him. It is equally credible, however, that the letter was what Abrahams took it for: an invitation to set up a meeting in which more money would be asked for.

But if it was written on Saturday – and if it was typed then presumably there is a date on the letter itself rather than just on the envelope – then no one other than the congenitally simple-minded could conceivably believe that it was anything other than a panicked response to the news that the Mail story was about to break, almost certainly taking the Director of Labour Party General Election Resources with it.

So, Thursday or Saturday?

It would be interesting to know.

In denial?

Being sort of curious as to how the Labour party itself might be covering the Donorgate lark, I thought I would have a look at its website.

There is Watt's resignation statement, undated, a reply from Dianne Hayter (ususal guff:
We would like to thank Peter Watt for his long service, commitment and dedication to the Labour Party) and ... er ... that's it.

Institutionalised stupidity

I am beginning to think that Donorgate, to coin no phrase at all, may be evidence less of institutionalised corruption in the Labour party so much as of institutionalised stupidity.

David Abrahams is self-evidently a card-carrying nutter. This is a man – 'a confirmed bachelor who enjoys musical theatre,' as the Mail felicitously puts it – who in 1990 presented himself for selection as the Labour candidate for Richmond in Yorkshire claiming to be married and with an 11-year-old son.

This turned out to be untrue, the woman in question and her son having effectively been hired by Abrahams. When the story broke, as inevitably such a childish attempt at deception would, Abrahams asserted that claims he was unmarried were 'totally false.'

(As an intriguing sidelight on Labour's apparently inbred stupidity, once the deception was exposed Abrahams was nonetheless re-confirmed as the candidate for Richmond, reluctantly stepping down only the following year, not that this deterred him from standing, unsuccessfully this time, for selection for another parliamentary seat).

Self-evidently then, Labour knew they were dealing with a lunatic, a known fantasit and liar.

Would you think it prudent to accept money from someone with this kind of track record?

Just how stupid do you have to be to become general secretary of the Labour party?

Odd, no?

As the whole bizarre business of the Labour donors fiasco unfolds, there is one point I am not sure I have seen addressed.

How did the Mail get the story in the first place?

It would seem unlikely they dug it up for themselves.

In which case, presumably they were tipped off.

If so, by who and why? And why now?

It would seem reasonable to assume it was someone inside the Labour party.

In which case, things may be even nastier for the Bottler than they look.

With friends like this ...

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

When is 'known' not 'known'?

The Bottler has told us that when he was offered money by David Abrahams's go-between, Janet Kidd, it was turned down because: 'It was not the practice of my campaign team to accept money from people not known to them'.

At the same time, Harriet Harman has said that her campaign team accepted money from Janet Kidd because Kidd was a 'known' Labour party donor.

As she was. Between May 2003 and December 2005 the 'unknown' Janet Kidd donated £67,000 to the Labour party (all of course actually paid by David Abrahams). By any measure, that made her pretty well 'known'.

However, leave aside that, as a result, Janet Kidd was 'known' only to the Labour party but not to the Bottler and consider this.

If a politician is offered a donation by someone 'not known to them' then all logic suggests that it is in the interests of said politician to find out just who this person is, in other words to make them 'known to them'. If they have already given your party £67,000, this would hardly seem to require the services of Sherlock Holmes.

Consider, too, that Hillary Benn, also offered money by Janet Kidd, was warned off it by Margaret Jay, by any measure a pretty big cheese in Labour circles, on the basis that she, Jay, knew the money was actually being paid by Abrahams and was, as such, suspect.

In other words, we are expected to believe that Jay knew who Abrahams was but the Bottler's team didn't.

The real answer seems much simpler.

That of course the Bottler knew about Abrahams and was more than happy for the party to accept his money provided it was the party rather than him personally who would be blamed if the subterfuge was subsequently discovered. Shades of Lord Levy? It seems reasonable, too, to assume that he had already prepared a get-out route, by which I mean that he had identified a sacrificial victim, in this case Peter Watt, who could be relied on to offer himself up if the deal was rumbled. I say this, too, on the basis that no one with claims to sentient thought believes that Watt could ever have not known that Abrahams's donations were illegal.

Which leaves only Harman. What really was her role? A different kind of patsy, I'd say. It seems credible to believe she and her team weren't in the loop, saw the money, make perfunctory checks, were reassured that Kidd was a previous 'known' Labour donor and simply thought, 'Goody. More money.'

I suspect it will prove an expensive, possibly terminal mistake for her.

But the question still needs to be followed up. Why was a 'known' Labour party donor not 'known' to the Bottler?

How to get under the Bottler's skin

Interesting moment in the Bottler's press conference.

On the whole, he seemed almost relaxed, stern when needed, even able once or twice to force a joke. Yet toward the end, asked yet again if he had full confidence in Harriet Harman, he suddenly twitched. He started stuttering and frowning, whanged the desk once or twice, before forcing out that 'of course' he had full confidence in Harman.

I hope Cameron took note. There is no question the Bottler is at his most vulnerable in public when he becomes angry. It may work with his toadies. It sure as hell doesn't when he is on public view.

Why socialists are stupid Pt. 5

Lying on my bed of pain yesterday, I was unable to decide which of two articles in the Independent could legitimately be thought the stupider. It was a tough choice. How to decide between two versions of the 'progressive' point of view at its most fatuous?

The first was by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown and was hilariously headlined: How did the BBC fall into the hands of right-wingers?

What she was essentially saying is that if BBC does not adhere to her pure notion of 'progressive politics'Рie her laughably loopy lefty view of the world Рif, for example, it has the nerve to make a programme about the 'besieged' white working classes, code for nasty racist thugs Рit has given in to 'right-wing ranters'. In the process, it has shamefully abandoned its former commitment to 'free speech and journalistic ethics'. No less shamefully, this amounts to the BBC's writing off the 'progressive' left as 'pass̩, irrelevant, annoying, elitist and soft'. (Personally, adjectives such as cretinous, pestilent, hypocritical, self-serving and, above all, wrong seem closer to the mark. But I'll settle for 'pass̩, irrelevant, annoying, elitist and soft' if pushed.)

It is worthy example of the left's warped view of the world that anyone who disagrees with it is by definition a 'right-wing ranter' who should, indeed must, be silenced instantly in the interests of free speech.

The second was by our old pal Johann Hari and appeared under the headline: Thatcher's baleful influence lives on.

This of course immediately wins bonus points by dragging in St Margaret, still 17 years almost to the day since her fall the totemic hate figure for the left, the devil incarnate.

Brilliantly, Hari argues that Thatcher herself is responsible for the current travails and miseries of the Bottler's government. Forget that NuLab have been in power for ten and-a-half years. It is all still Thatcher's fault.

Impressively, he therefore holds her responsible not just for America's sub-prime mortgage crisis, not just for the Northern Rock fiasco, but, piece de resistance with a vengeance – Bravo, Johann! Bravo! – HMRC's losing the two CDs.

Hari's piece was written before the more grisly details of David Abraham's donations to the Labour party had emerged. But I feel sure he could have found a way to blame these on Thatcher, too, had he been writing 24 hours later.

On the whole, I think Hari shades it. But is is a close-run thing.

Watt's it all about?

Easily the most interesting aspect of the whole bizarre Abrahams affair, the apparently reclusive property developer in the Northeast and the £550,000 he seem to have illegally donated to the Labour party via his hapless associates, one of them a solicitor note, is the assertion that baby-faced Peter Watt, the party's now ex-general secretary, was the 'only' person in the party who knew the source of the donations.

If it defies credulity well beyond breaking point to believe that Watt was unaware that there was a legal requirement for the name of the actual donor to be made clear, then you can only assume the party takes us all for straw-haired village idiots if it assumes it can pretend that no one else was aware who this was.

That said, it seems clear that Watt's near instant resignation is an attempt to persuade us that the exclusive fault lies with him. Equally, it begs the question, easily answered I'd say, as to whether he jumped in the full knowledge that if he didn't he would be pushed.

Then again, it's as well to bear in mind that when we are assured that the Bottler knew nothing of the real source of the money – "Ah good, PM, I see that nice builder Ray Ruddick has given us another £80,000. That makes £104,000 is less than a fortnight. Extraordinary what you can make installing kitchens in Newcastle." – it is only fair to point out that the same Bottler, the man who as Charlie Whelan reminded us last week 'masterminded' three Labour election victories, apparently also knew nothing of the source of the £15m that paid for the Labour campaign in 2005. And this our 'greatest-ever chancellor'.

Oh dear, Bottler. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.

From cash for honours to cash for kitchens.

UPDATE: Now the CPS has been called in. Read it here.

Monday, 26 November 2007

Got the flu

Damn and blast. Not on tip-top fighting form today. So blogging temporarily suspended.

Back tomorrow with a little luck.

PS Anyone know why I can't get into Sitemeter?

Sunday, 25 November 2007

No more narratives

Cliches are very odd things. They crop up without warning and then for months, sometimes years, torment and irritate us to distraction and beyond.

Recent candidates are 'minded' as in 'The minister is minded to approve the scheme'; 'tipping point' as in 'Could this be Labour's tipping point?'; and John Reid's infamous 'not fit for purpose.' There are plenty of others of course. NuLab is particularly wowed by its use of 'world-class', as in 'world-class services', which is their way of saying utterly useless; and 'delivering excellence', which is another way of saying utterly useless.

But the newest candidate, and in some ways the most irritatingly vacuous of all, deemed by its users to bestow a cool authority when in reality it is merely intensely tiresome, is 'narrative'.

God, I can scarcely begin to say how much I HATE IT!

Here are four examples. And now I am going to go away and be sick.

Brown needs a story, a narrative, a red thread to embroider a picture of the society he wants.
Polly Toynbee
, Guardian

Labour's best narrative is the story of its family revolution, with Sure Start for babies, universal childcare, after-school and breakfast clubs, domestic-violence laws, tax credits and the children's trust fund.
Polly Toynbee Guardian

What makes it additionally damaging is that it fits into a pattern, it can be located in a narrative of government failure.
Andrew Rawnsley, Independent on Sunday

John Major was unable to come up with a narrative of his own, not that it would have done him much good if he had.
Bruce Anderson, Independent