Westminster: April 2008 Archives


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Thumbnail image for libdemlogo.jpgSorry, everyone, it's another gift from Nick Clegg today. When asked about coalition at Westminster, he said "I didn't go into politics to lead my party as an annexe to a Labour Government or an annexe to a Conservative Government." (again from PA, but he said something similar here)

Do you think he even knows that his Scottish party were in coalition with Labour here for 8 years? Were they just an annex? Yes, perhaps, but not because of any intrinsic problem with coalition.

Also, this is a party that's supposed to believe in PR. And PR leads to coalition just as night follows day. I'm coming to the conclusion that Clegg is going to cause the Liberals some serious problems; everyone noticed his clumsy claims about his sexual history, but his understanding of politics looks pretty thin, and likely to lead to bigger problems for them.

He went on to say "Any government that the Liberal Democrats would be part of would be on the back of a complete reinvention of the way we do politics to make it more accountable; to take the big money out of it; to make it more transparent; and above all to make it more decentralised."

Which also sounds like he had no idea what his chums up here were up to.
clegghat.jpgSome people have complained that I've gone soft on the Liberals recently, and I can only apologise. They remain in my view a party driven by personal ambition and triangulation rather than principle, as confirmed by Nick Clegg today.

He said the following in a radio interview: "I'm a Liberal Democrat so by definition I feel frankly equidistant in my distance from both other parties." So let me get this straight. If Labour veered an arbitrary 50% to the left then the Liberals would move 25% to the left to keep equidistant?

And that's "by definition"? No attachment to any point on your perceived political spectrum, then? This is pure triangulation and perceived partisan advantage, not anything that resembles principled politics.

(apologies for not having a link to this: it's off PA copy, and I'll add a link tomorrow if any of the papers are interested in it)
In Salmond's Brian Taylor interview this weekend, he said something pretty revealing: that if the SNP got 20 seats in the next UK general election "we could make Westminster dance to a Scottish jig" (24:10 in this webcast). 

Now, I'm sure that wasn't the message his determined phalanx of press officers sent him in with.

Is the First Minister not worried about the effect that comments like that might have on anti-Scottish sentiment down south (examples: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)? Does he even perhaps relish any increase in the desire from the English to "see the back of the Scots"? 

I don't know. But imagine a hung Parliament where the SNP held some influence. If an English Tory MP in those circumstances complained that "The SNP are making Westminster dance to a Scottish jig" there'd be an SNP release slating this as another obvious example of anti-Scottish prejudice on the wires within ten minutes.

Update: apparently he did mean to say it, because he said it again in his address to conference. Silly me. However, I still think it's ill-judged.

What's more, he also implied that STV no longer made programmes (same webcast, at 29:55). Perhaps he thinks Michael Crow either won't watch Brian's interview. I doubt that. Although STV are grown-up enough not to take offence, if I were an SNP press officer I'd nevertheless be dreading the next time I have to ring them.

The Disorderly Houses Act 1751

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rakesprogress.jpgAs keen observers of politics will obviously know, this Act has largely been repealed, although Section 8 is still in effect. Until, that is, the Statute Law Repeals Bill goes through Westminster, and provided Holyrood endorses that repeal through a Sewel Motion next Wednesday.

Section 8 is worth reprinting here in full.

"And whereas, by reason of the many subtle and crafty contrivances of persons keeping bawdy-houses, or other disorderly houses, it is difficult to prove who is the real owner or keeper thereof, by which means many notorious offenders have escaped punishment: Be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, that any person who shall at any time hereafter appear, act or behave him or herself as master or mistress, or as the person having the care, government, or management of any bawdy-house, or other disorderly house, shall be deemed and taken to be the keeper thereof, and shall be liable to be prosecuted and punished as such, notwithstanding he or she shall not in fact be the real owner or keeper thereof."

They don't make law like they used to. This Act was indeed passed during Hogarth's career, hence the illustration from Rake's Progress.
pathewitt.jpgThe Register picked up some interesting spam today, in which someone claiming to be Patricia Hewitt claimed to have squirrelled away £6.3m of public money, and that it is now being made available on the usual terms.

This is of course our old pal the "419 scam", albeit a bit closer to home than the usual I AM MRS MARIAM ABACHA.

And of course, transparently absurd. Hewitt would never have done something so criminal.

No, instead she and the New Labour government wasted £1bn, more than 150 times as much money, on management consultants for the NHS. Odd, perhaps, given that she herself worked for Andersen Consulting until New Labour took power.

Countless billions more were put into PFI schemes, often benefiting the same consultants in other ways. Don't get them confused with medical consultants, who actually do something useful.

Another £14.2bn was wasted on an ill-conceived and ill-implemented IT system.

But that's all perfectly legal, so why should we worry about it? Here's one thought, though. We'd all be almost incalculably better off if she'd just nicked £6.3m and given it away through random spam instead.

Postscript: it's perhaps not surprising that she's taken a well-paid second job with BT, who she's helped out in the past.

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Westminster category from April 2008.

Westminster: March 2008 is the previous archive.

Westminster: May 2008 is the next archive.