THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
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April 2009

It seems the Sun readers are interested too

Two Dinners Tom is behind this sick plot | Fergus Shanahan | The Sun |News|Columnists|Fergus Shanahan.

So it's not just a story for the wonks then? If you think that the political bloggers overdo the personal abuse from time to time, check out the professional work of Fergus Shanahan, the deputy editor of the paper "wot" swings elections:

Treacherous Tom Watson, — a tub of lard who is known without affection at Westminster as “Two Dinners” Tommy — is suspected of being in this up to his bloated and bulging neck.

....and it gets even more bloggery as it goes on:

Like Watson, Brown himself insists that he had no idea McBride was inventing cruel stories that Cameron was ill and that Osborne’s wife had been suffering psychological problems.

Isn’t it the Prime Minister HIMSELF who needs to be taken away by the men in white coats?

He claims not to know what his hand-picked aides are up to. But he chooses mates like McBride and Watson because their characters mirror his own: Arrogant bullies and shameless liars.

As his shambles of a Government disintegrates around him, the psychological flaws in Brown’s character become clearer by the day.

It was here that you first read (polite, concerned) speculation about the PM's mental health. Then (and I claim no influence) Guido took up the "Prime Mentalist" theme. Now it has reached the columns of (God help us) the most influential daily newspaper in the country. Had he not always been a malevolent, manipulative, Machiavellian man, I might feel sorry for the feartie Fifer.

Unhinged, or merely evil? You choose. I certainly don't think he's going to be boasting about his "moral compass" any time soon, however. Not when Murdoch's organ is noting that:

In public he waves the Bible while behind the scenes he’s in the gutter — the hallmark of the religious hypocrite through the ages.

Not to mention, posing such questions as:

How can he claim to occupy the moral high ground while presiding over a Cabinet of thieves, several of whom should be in jail?

Despite the fact that the only man in her fan club is a prominent blogger, Hazel Blears thinks that "nihilist" bloggers are undermining confidence in the political process itself. Far from it. We are evidence that, despite the corrupt and degenerate behaviour of the people currently in office, there is still an appetite in this country for honest political engagement. "Spin" no longer fools the people, Hazel. You might as well try honesty.

Until that happy eventuality, the "smeargate" fun goes on and on. Thank you, Guido, for taking my mind off my troubles.

The recession, destabilised


Smeargate may (or may not) be of interest only to political wonks. Only time will tell. The News of the World isn't usually of much interest to us, but it thought the story had legs. The Daily Telegraph - a newspaper, which has so lost its political way that it now employs people willing to spin the line of the worst PM Labour has every produced - thought it important enough to try to screw it up. In the meantime, as almost always, the Daily Mash makes it amusing. I particularly enjoyed;

"...a Downing Street insider insisted the latest revelations would 'destabilise' the recession, even though opinion polls show voters would prefer a combination of economic collapse, mental illness and gonorrhea to another five minutes of the Labour Party in government..."

I wonder if Mr Brown had any leisure, in between plotting dirty tricks, to read it. I do hope so, even though (or perhaps even because) he is such a humourless hoon* that I doubt he would enjoy it.

*euphemism employed © Guido Fawkes 2009

Smeargate; vox pop

Tory Totty Online: Public Response to "Smeargate".

Tory Totty has been reading the comments over at the News of the World website. This is the one that summed it up for me:

"What do we get from Gordon and his cronies? Sleaze, expense fiddles, lies, spin, spin and more spin. When you thought it couldn't get any worse, we learn that all they are doing in Downing Street is making up lurid sex stories about a bunch of Old Etonians. Well that's it, after 30 years I've torn up my Labour Party card, I have left my local party and I will never, ever vote for this scum again."

Better three decades late than never, I guess. Let's hope "woolfie", as he calls himself, is not alone among those who have inflicted crap education and filthy hospitals on us for so long in finally waking up.

Oh, the moral superiority...

Iain Dale's Diary: Galloway & Boulton Lay Into Draper.

Smear_Twats_Dot_Com There could scarcely be a better index of our nation's ethical decay than that George Galloway is today in a position to claim moral superiority over the talentless, ignorant Derek Draper. Unless perhaps it is the temerity with which Draper claims moral superiority over Guido Fawkes, while at the same time making unsubstantiated criminal allegations. Draper is a man who simply does not know right from wrong. He has no role in public life. Nor has Mr. McBride.

Both were close to, influenced by, and influential upon, senior Labour figures. They were the "Alistair Campbells" of Gordon Brown and Peter Mandelson; their right-hand men. Experienced journalists attest that Gordon Brown didn't move without McBride's advice.

Remember who chose these nasty specimens for their jobs. The only reason you ever heard of either of them is because they suited the tastes and the purposes of their former masters. At best the Prime Minister's and Secretary of State for Business's  judgement, and at worst their morality, are in question today because of their choices.

As Adam Boulton commented, "...this is how it ends..." As Mrs P. commented, "...this shows them up for exactly what they are...". This is New Labour. It is how it is and how it has always been. Lies, dirty tricks, whatever it takes to take and retain power. Alistair Campbell was too clever and Tony Blair was too smooth to be detected, but do you really believe either was a better man?

We know now how they gained and kept power. The only question now is why they ever wanted it. It was certainly not to build a better society, was it?

h/t Old Holborn for pointing me to the amusing image (click on it to enlarge)

The corrupt cabal at the heart of our government

Revealed: e-mails that toppled key Brown aide - Times Online.

This is beyond a joke. It seems that our Prime Minister has surrounded himself with a cabal of ethical degenerates. He must be held to account for his team's behaviour. He chose these people. They know his mind. Even if he didn't order it, people who were close to him must have believed this is what he wanted. How, exactly, did they get that impression?

Prudence? A moral compass? Don't make me laugh.

Do they have any concern for the truth?

Stephen Pound MP has casually alleged on live TV that Guido Fawkes "hacked" email accounts. Derek Draper also suggested that his email account has been hacked. That is a serious (and, except - of course - when done by the state) criminal allegation. If they could support the claim (which the odious Draper at least had the grace, or caution, to qualify with "apparently") I have no doubt they would have called the Labour Party enforcers Metropolitan Police already.

Mrs Paine's calm wisdom has brought me down from my initial delight at McBride's well-deserved downfall (note, by the way, how he spins falsely to the end, implying in his resignation statement that the Tories are behind Guido Fawkes). The leaked emails are apparently to be published tomorrow and she suspects the lurid allegations - however false - will be remembered far longer than the disgraceful impulse to fabricate them and the suppressed desire to publish them. 

Guido's undoubted personal triumph may well yet do the Conservatives more harm than good.

Is Brown more Nixonian than Obaman?

BBC NEWS | UK | UK Politics | No 10 apology over 'slur' e-mails.

GB I am sure no-one is surprised that No. 10 Downing Street is populated by vicious obsessives who are just as puerile now as they were when student politicians. After all, that pretty much sums up their boss.

It is surprising however that there is at least one moral individual behind the glossy black door. Someone apparently disgusted enough by the boss's closest advisers to leak draft smears against political opponents. It is even more surprising that she chose to leak them, not to the targets, but to a political blogger.

For some time, politicians have devoted more energy to rubbishing political blogs than would be justified if they really believed them as irrelevant as they suggest. If anything, I think the politicians are beginning to take political blogging more seriously than (in Britain at least) it deserves. Such respect will not truly be justified until blogs are read casually by people with only that passing interest in politics, which is consistent with full sanity. That won't happen until bloggers themselves get over their nerdish enthusiasm for the medium and focus on the message.

This is a big moment for Guido though. He has claimed a major scalp (and, with luck, may claim a bigger one yet). It will be hard, however, to make the connection between the political masters and their deniable, dispensable attack dogs. I wish him luck with that. I also devoutly hope he has no skeletons he wishes to remain in his cupboard. In the course of what is likely to be the vilest general election campaign in our history, he may himself become a target for the smears, lies and insinuations that are the cocaine of our political classes. If they were prepared to contemplate breaking a butterfly on their wheel, why not a hornet?

Of course, worse things could happen. I think he need have no fear there. Even if immoral enough to want to, this lot is so inept that their enemies are safer than their friends.

The car that started it all

As a teenager, I was taken for a hair-raising ride by the kind of relative every teenager should have; one with a Ferrari. Resting at home this bank holiday, it occurred to me that there was probably a film of a Dino "in flight" on the internet. Here it is. "Mine" was a restrained, beautiful blue but she looks good in red too. I shall never forget hurtling feet-first through the lanes of Berkshire. My whole adult life was ahead of me and there was so much to strive for.

Amid all the crusty, puritanical talk of what cars "cost" the planet, let's not forget their power as motivators. That long-ago day, I realised I was going to need to work harder than I had ever previously imagined. Thank you, Ferrari, for all my family's comforts.

PS: According to a certain logic, by posting this happy memory today I have approved every reported evil I have not condemned. I shall hang my head in guilt. Not.

What is Thatcherism?

ConservativeHome's ToryDiary: What is Thatcherism?.

Conservative Home is inviting definitions and has stimulated the usual polarised debate. It will take historians as yet unborn to set Margaret Thatcher in context. She is simply too great an historical figure for us to evaluate her without the benefit of distance.

Right now, people see her as either demon or angel. Of course (though I incline more to the angelic view) she was neither. I have ventured my own definition in the comments there. Why not click on the link above and have a go yourself? Let's at least give those poor future historians some contemporary, non-establishment, sources to work with. Here's my definition:

A belief in the family as the basic unit of society; free enterprise as the main engine of economic, scientific and social progress and the people - as represented by parliament - as the only legitimate source of political authority. All this, combined with duties of; public service for those with the right talents, self-reliance for those capable of it and responsibility to help the less fortunate. Finally, an affectionate (though critical) regard for tradition.

Enough with the IPCC already

BBC NEWS | Special Reports | G20 | G20 fatality pushed by policeman.

I object to the very existence of the IPCC. A British policeman should be an ordinary citizen employed to enforce the law, just as anyone else could (and should). He should have no special rights or privileges. If a policeman misbehaves, he should be subject to exactly the same laws and processes as the rest of us. The Guardian's video shows what appears to be an unprovoked assault. There should be a prosecution, just as there would be if you or I had attacked Mr Tomlinson. There should be no delay for an IPCC investigation. The Crown Prosecution Service has a clear opportunity to redeem itself here, after its shameful performance in the case of Jean Charles de Menezes.

You may say that an independent body is needed to investigate the investigators. You may even be under the impression that this is what the IPCC does. Not so. In truth, this incident is being investigated by the City of London Police. The IPCC has no investigative resources of its own and is merely "managing". It is not designed for the prosecution of suspected criminals. Its rather limp mandate is:

We set standards for the way the police handle complaints and, when something has gone wrong, we help the police learn lessons and improve the way they work.

This is not about complaints handling or the learning of lessons. It is about a serious crime which may have led to a man's death. The police and the CPS can and should do the right thing. In the interests of restoring confidence in Britain's police forces, which many of us now see, not as our protectors, but as the praetorian guard of our out-of-control politicians, they should do it right quickly.

Miss Paine the elder tells me that one of her friends (a well-meaning young eco-sap) was at the G20 demonstration. Her impression was that the police focussed on soft targets. For example, she saw a 14 year old girl struck by a police baton when she was presenting no threat; just trying to find her way back to the group of friends from which she had become separated. On the other hand, she claims that the police steered well clear of violent anarchists, some of whom were attacking other protestors. So, they left the violent to get on with it, while seemingly determined to provoke a violent response from the peaceful. She also reported that the police constables near her group were initially friendly, but that their attitude changed after they had been taken aside for a pep talk by their officers.

The Tomlinson incident proves how wicked and foolish is Section 76 of the Counter Terrorism Act. The American gentleman who filmed the attack arguably committed an offence. After all it is undoubtedly "...useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism..." to have film of how (ineptly) the police conduct themselves in such circumstances. In making the film, he performed an important public duty. Since none of us (tellingly) expects the footage from 10 CCTV cameras in the area to have survived, he has served the cause of justice and we should be grateful. The omnipresence of camera phones and cheap video cameras should mean that the police are more likely to be detected in any misconduct. That is a good thing. It is hard not to be cynical about their apparent determination not to be filmed or photographed.

In passing, can I just express my contempt for James Graham, the LibDem blogger who is busy making snide and scurrilous political points about the story? He alleges that rightwing and libertarian bloggers don't care about Mr Tomlinson because he's not from the middle classes (unlike - presumably - Jean Charles de Menezes). To hell with him and his class war. This is a story that should concern all of us.