Westminster: April 2009 Archives

hatebook.jpgA Royal Protection Officer has just resigned for posting the following callous and unpleasant comment on Facebook after the death of Ian Tomlinson:

"I see my lot have murdered someone again. Oh well, shit happens."

I can't imagine where he picked up these liberal attitudes from, although he's probably spent a fair amount of time hanging around Princes Phillip and Harry. The Met's incoherent response included the following line:

"The Metropolitan Police Service makes its position clear on employee's (sic) use of blogging sites within its standard operating procedures."

So, get caught out on Facebook, which ain't a blog incidentally, and you've got to go. Get caught on camera committing actual violence? A late suspension, so far, but you'd be brave to bet on conviction or dismissal, or even on an actual charge being brought.

Siôn Simon is an idiot.

| | Comments (0)
Serial gaffer Siôn Simon has done it again. Today's new faux pas is to accuse Susan Boyle of starting swine flu, based on her appearance. Nice. 

He's somehow clung to office despite, amongst other things, having produced an extraordinarily offensive Webcameron spoof in which the Tory leader offered up his wife and kids. He makes his own embarrassing defence here (Youtube, seriously worth a watch).

But why on earth would such an indefensible muppet, surely the model for the vacuous but thrusting Ministerial moderniser in In The Loop, be allowed to stay in Brown's Government? Oh yes, I see.

No bloody use.

| | Comments (0)

We've long said Trident was utterly useless, a weapon we can't afford, and one we certainly can't afford to fire. I'm sure retired general Sir Hugh Beach doesn't see eye-to-eye with the Greens on some other stuff, but we can't argue with:

It's not just that he's against buying a new one: he thinks we should decommission the existing system right now too.

The classic argument against nukes as a deterrent is made here:

Plane Undemocratic.

| | Comments (1)
keystonekops.jpgWhatever the police should be doing, it's not this: trying to bribe environmentalists with secret bank accounts (clue: it usually won't work, we're pretty committed), threaten their job prospects, suggest they'll be sent to brutal violent prisons and generally intimidate them.

Campaigners against climate change aren't terrorists, they aren't extremists, and they're more clever than the plod (which is why the Guardian have the tapes). 

It'd be funny if it wasn't so sinister, and it's got to stop. Imagine activists trying to bribe, infiltrate and intimidate the police. And that wouldn't even be public money for the bribes.

I don't have it in for the police, I really don't. I can only give a 100% endorsement to the Chicken Yoghurt view on this.

The death of Ian Tomlinson.

| | Comments (1)
iantomlinson.jpgFive days ago I asked a series of open questions about the role of the police in the death of Ian Tomlinson during the G20 protests. Were they involved? Or even responsible? There was no evidence one way or the other, but few were even asking the questions.

The Guardian has now been given footage, provided by a fund manager, not a protester, which shows him being struck by a baton and then brutally shoved to the ground. 

A freelance photographer gave this account:

"It was the force of the impact. He bounced on the floor. It was a very forceful knocking down from behind. The officer hit him twice with a baton when he was lying on the floor."

This may be less direct, less obvious, than the murder of Carlo Giuliani at the 2001 G8 conference in Genoa, but it would be an extraordinary to imagine that the assault captured on camera was unrelated to his collapse just three minutes later and his death shortly thereafter.

Everyone has a camera in their pocket, most have a video camera, and the age when the police could pretend they were the victims in a situation like this is over forever. How long ago did the Met know the dead man had been thrown to the ground and beaten, given their obsession with filming every step we all take?

This death is the legacy of Brown's vanity summit, the true face of Labour's attitude to criticism, and the masks and balaclavas of the police that day were cover for real violence, not the cartoon violence of hyped-up pseudo-anarchists breaking a window for the cameras. This is a government like Berlusconi's own, a government which deserves to be hounded from power and tried for its crimes.

The money-go-round.

| | Comments (1)
Monbiot returns to form today with a scathing piece about Labour's PFI scheme to widen the M25. The way this £5bn-sized slice of insanity works appears to be as follows: as usual, the Government pretends to externalise the risk to a consortium, but in this case it then lends them £400m of the £1,300m required to build the project. 

£500m more comes from European taxpayers via the European Investment Bank, and the remainder is being loaned by the Royal Bank of Scotland (i.e. us) and then underwritten by the Treasury (i.e. us again).

The contracts are also so long and so perverse that if some future government actually tried to reduce our dependence on oil, we taxpayers would then have to compensate the PFI consortium for the reduced traffic. It's hard to imagine a more incompetent and venal financial scheme, and all for a project which is as useless as the second Forth Road Bridge itself.

Remember this next time Labour complain that the SNP have abandoned PFI. And also remember that John Swinney has admitted that the Scottish Futures Trust is from the same family.

Nate Silver from 538 has an interesting and related piece on General Motors, their pension plans and their relationship with the unions. Between the 1950s and the 1980s they made some very generous retirement benefit deals with their employees, deals which weren't even on their balance sheets until 1992. Now those deals are paying out, and the company is on the verge of bankruptcy.

"This issue is wrongly portrayed by both the liberal and the conservative media as one of management versus labor, when really it is a battle between General Motors past and General Motors present. In the 50s, 60s and 70s, everyone benefited: GM and its shareholders got the benefit of higher profit margins, and meanwhile, its employees benefited from GM's willingness to cut a bad deal -- for every dollar they were giving up in salary, those employees were getting a dollar and change back in retirement benefits. But now, everyone is hurting." (thanks, Aaron)

PFI and the SFT work on a similar basis. The Labour and SNP approaches to public spending are not about making savings, they're a battle between current Ministers on one side, keen to deliver shiny photo-ops transport projects but not to pay for them, and on the other side, future taxpayers, who neither government seems to give a monkey's about. Future Ministers are, to a lesser extent, losing out: they will have less money to spend on public services while having to tax harder to get there. 

In 2030 those taxpayers will find themselves still paying for shabby hospitals long pulled down and roads schemes which sit unloved and barely used as we (hopefully) make that transition to a low carbon economy. Meanwhile the architects of their problems - Brown, Swinney, Major and the like - will all be retired and writing volume four of their memoirs. 

Perhaps we can surcharge them and reclaim a bit of our money from their advances. It won't cover the bills they're leaving behind, but it'll make us feel a lot better about it all.

Paint it black.

| | Comments (1)
policewarning.jpgPolice used a familiar tactic known as "kettling" during yesterday's protests in London, blocking protesters in and refusing to allow anyone out for any reason. 

It's presumably called kettling because you keep the hot water in a tightly confined space. This does, of course, make it less likely you'll get boiling water on your hob, but it also keeps the temperature high, and kettles do boil over.

One young man reported the experience thus: "I just remember shields coming down on us. The police were stamping and kicking. I asked them to let me through the line for medical treatment, but they said 'no'."

Yesterday's demo was different. A man died, and although the police did try to treat him on the scene, we may never find out if his death was related to the tactics deployed by the Met. Had he tried to get help earlier, or to get out of a "kettle"? Had he been baton-charged? 

The BBC, extraordinarily, have this incident as a passing reference in paragraph six of a story which says that world leaders are arriving (I think we knew that). You can visit the front page of their news site and see nothing of this - I will update this if it changes - but are we really quite so blasé about casualties outside the Bank of England?

tebbitthatcher.jpgPatrick pointed me to a terrific article in today's Daily Mail, written by the original Thatcherite skinhead himself. It's titled "A Nation of Haves and Have-Nots", and illustrated with a picture of protesting under-paid teachers. 

It would be magnificent enough if the joke was Tebbit pretending for the first time to care about the poor he and his colleagues marginalised so successfully. 

But no, that would be too easy. Instead he's taken it to the next level, and the magnitude and complexity of his sense of humour is jaw-dropping.

The poor struggling have-nots, in this hilarious piece, are in the private sector, "victims of market forces and the deepening recession", while the feather-bedded haves are in the public sector, "wallowing in the privilege of having their pay and pensions guaranteed by the Government".

It's pretty funny to imagine that Tebbit could believe anyone could be a victim of market forces: it'd be like Arthur Scargill believing there could be too much state control. But the topsy-turvy comparison is the most exquisite part: this is, after all, the public sector which keeps on giving billions of our money to support Normo's favourite bit of the private sector, the bankers. 

In case anyone doesn't think he's joking, Polly Toynbee had a great piece last week about public sector vs private sector pay. 

Your Links At Last


Other Politics



Friends and Stuff I Like

If I've forgotten to link to you, let me know. If I don't want to link to your blog I'll pretend I never got your email.

The party's site of which I am rather proud

Along with Jeff (formerly SNP Tactical Voting) and Malc (formerly In The Burgh), I now co-edit Better Nation, a group blog. Stuff will still appear here, but more will be there. Better Nation

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Westminster category from April 2009.

Westminster: March 2009 is the previous archive.

Westminster: May 2009 is the next archive.