Westminster: December 2008 Archives

waronterrorafghanistan.jpgDuring this summer's Kingsnorth climate camp the police kicked into full fear-mongering mode, going in in riot gear and generally making £5.9m of work for themselves. 

They even confiscated a copy of "War on Terror - the Board Game", because it contains a balaclava with EVIL written on it. Apparently troops in Afghanistan are allowed it, though (left).

I have the game, and if you're prepared to do some work on the game dynamics and balance I recommend it. Spin the axis of evil and decide who wears that balaclava. Buy yours here.

Anyway, at the time, seventy officers were reported injured by the Kingsnorth protesters, which you can see might justify a heavier touch and some arrests. Today, however, it transpires that the total injuries were just twelve, and they included "stung on finger by possible wasp", "officer injured sitting in car" and "officer succumbed to sun and heat". No officers were injured by protesters, or if injuries occurred they weren't deemed prosecutable. The Guardian reports that: 

One officer cut his arm on a fence when climbing over it, another cut his finger while mending a car, and one "used leg to open door and next day had pain in lower back".

Other officers had toothache, diarrhoea and headaches. Given the protesters took the blame for this motley list of afflictions, Kent Police presumably believe climate campers included special voodoo operatives with dolls in police uniform, poking them with plastic wasps and shining bright lights on them from a nearby teepee. The only other sensible explanation is that it was just the usual New Labour war on peaceful protest, using the police as a tooled-up PR department, just as they used the army on the eve of the Iraq war.

Meltdown in East Lothian.

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As followers of Scottish politics know, there are tensions in East Lothian Labour between the MP, Anne Moffat, and the MSP, Iain Gray (aka the LOLITSP, and yes, if you google LOLITSP you get the Labour site). 

She's having trouble being reselected, and in the process accused him of being close to a group of local activists she describes as "bullies", "cowards" and "nasty people". The Nats are rubbing their hands together so vigorously they could start a fire, and it'll almost certainly not have gone away by the LOLITSP's unfortunate Christmas hostage-to-fortune deadline.

All of which makes this picture even more entertaining - thanks to Lindsay for the suggestion. 

The pair of them are pictured being kept apart by what looks like a 20th birthday cake for Torness itself, made in its own likeness. The cake is presumably composed of real but sweetened nuclear waste and cooled with radioactive jam. After the photocall she's going to try and stuff him into the reactor core, but I think he'll fend her off with a cooling rod. 

Anyway, it's dying to be used as a caption competition, I reckon. Entries in the comments please, again with an unspecified prize for the best (Susan, I owe you a bottle for the last competition).

On a more serious note, Labour representatives for seats with nuclear power stations in them are often the most gung-ho for this dinosaur technology - think Brian Wilson, former MP for Hunterston, or Jack Cunningham, former MP for Sellafield. This may matter more when you're hoping to lead a country which is far more nuke-sceptical than your local patch.

Nick Clegg: right about something.

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potatohead.gifPass round the smelling salts. Pinch me. Nick Clegg is correct about something.

One of the Liberals' biggest donors - and no, I don't mean the fraudster - has ditched the party over tax. I initially assumed the sticking point would be Clegg's nonsense about cutting the basic rate, but no, this moron wants them to cut taxes even more on the rich, provided the poor also pay less. This would leave public services paid for by, well, I don't know, but that's not his problem.

A Liberal spokesperson is quoted in the Times piece as saying:

"Lord Jacobs's wider proposals do not stand up to economic or political scrutiny."

I agree, they don't. Neither do the party's unfunded tax cuts either, but Lord Spud-u-like appears to have found an even more absurd position. Off to the Tories with you! 

Security singularity.

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IDcardgothic.jpgThe Times has a great scoop, a leaked document setting out the latest wheeze from the ID card people. All contractors associated with the project will, if the plan goes ahead, be vulnerable to warrantless searches for twenty-five years.

Ironically, the Times story demonstrates where the real risk lies, and it's not with some IT consultants, it's right in the Home Office. The closer to the scheme you are, the tougher scrutiny you need to be under, until you get to the Home Secretary herself, the epicentre of this idiocy. 

It would be at least consistent for Ministers and former Ministers from the Home Office to be made subject to an even more extreme version of the same rule. After all, as Sir Humphrey once said, "the ship of state is the only ship which leaks from the top".

VAT boost in Parliament canteen.

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BeetrootPotatoSalad.jpgThumbnail image for BeetrootPotatoSalad.jpgLast week, a wee bowl of side salad cost 65p in the Holyrood canteen. Then the Chancellor cut VAT, which means the price was slashed. To 64p. 

Obviously I should do my patriotic duty and help Britain eat its way out of recession, but there's only so much salad I can get through. This change is generating work already, though. 

Every item needs a new label with the new price, you see. The staff were less than pleased at having to do it, but Keynes would recognise it as a variant on his old idea: paying people to dig a hole, then paying them to fill it in again.

Also, because there's hardly ever an opportunity to link to her magnificent food blog, here's my friend Pille's Estonian beetroot and potato salad recipe.

Pure bad luck for Clegg.

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carelesstalk.jpgAnother Liberal leader, another leadership crisis. Neither alcohol nor age this time, just bad judgement. If you missed the story, Nick Clegg and an aide were on a domestic flight, discussing their team, and they were overheard. 

It's like the famous Fougasse (left), except the order of seating was reversed, the German officers were actually just one Mirror journalist, the gossipers were both male, and it wasn't on a bus. Oh, and it won't cost any lives. Other than that, a perfect match.

Here's Clegg on Steve Webb, their climate change spokesman: "We need someone with good ideas. At the moment, they just don't add up." I think Webb's only promoting party policy, but that doesn't make it any less true. They'd move him to Foreign Affairs, except "he'd be useless". And thus fit in with the rest of the team, surely?

In one breath he went on to complain that Julia Goldsworthy gets patronised, and in the next explained she couldn't move to Foreign Affairs because she's "just not equipped to do it". Which is it, Nick?

Chris Huhne, who would have made a slightly more formidable leader for them, is up for demotion too for insufficient "emotional intelligence". Hasn't Clegg heard of keeping your enemies closer? Apparently Huhne was going to be told they needed their big hitters before an election, not him, and this would somehow cushion the blow. Makes sense to me. Good politics.

What the articles don't say is what's happening to Ed Davey, who currently holds the apparently toxic and impossible international brief for them. Is he about to get thrown out of the helicopter? Or if he's simply moving, who else is getting the chop?

The Yorksher Gob, herself a Liberal, has given him both barrels and then whacked him with the handle as well. Apologies for quoting at such length, but it's irresistable.
"He hasn't established himself as a credible force in politics, and no amount of slagging other people off is going to disguise that."

"I think he fully deserves the Cameron-lite label he hates - not because of his politics, which I mostly share, but because of the off-handed and arrogant way he behaves towards people he perceives as less important than him, which I have witnessed first hand. Let me make clear that he is the ONLY example of such behaviour towards the "lower orders" that I have seen at any level of the party. EVERYBODY else seems capable of treating people from the hotel cleaner to the Queen as equally human, but Our Glorious Leader is just Too Important to acknowledge some people, and that just sticks in my craw."

"Fail, Glorious Leader. Epic fail."

This is what happens when you treat leadership like facial hair and change it on a whim. Pay the price. Other Liberals are upset. Even dead ones.

Jim Jay believes it's instant karma for that internal flight.

Pure bad luck that even a political journalist recognised him, I say.

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About this Archive

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

Westminster: November 2008 is the previous archive.

Westminster: January 2009 is the next archive.