Wednesday, 9 December 2015
So, while more than 100,000 people and counting have signed a parliamentary petition calling for Trump to be banned from entering the UK, echoing calls from MPs like Sarah Wollaston and Tulip Siddiq:
... but a substantial number of people have also signed a petition which could easily be a part of Donald Trump's policy platform:
Sadly, it seems, small-minded, impractical, illogical, racist idiocy is not reserved for absurdly coiffed, perma-tanned, fascist bullies wanting to become US president.
Thursday, 3 December 2015
|Tony, Emily and Hilary|
Alex Salmond has issued a clarifying statement. Unsurprisingly, he didn't apologise at all. This is what he said:
Tuesday, 1 December 2015
But, instead of tens of thousands of British troops being despatched to the border to gather as part of a massive international invasion force, Britain plans to add a few planes – Tornadoes and Typhoons – to the eight Tornadoes already carrying out bombing sorties on ISIL in Iraq. We are assured that this exceedingly modest force will produce real, tangible results; that we will witness the Brimstone missile – which adorns the Tornadoes but not the Typhoons – accurately decapitating ‘the snake’ with the minimum of collateral damage and those already fighting really cannot cope without our input.
It may be the case that this small increase in airpower does, indeed, make an important difference but there must certainly be a risk it simply adds yet more complications to a perilously messy battleground. And while we wait to see how the military action plays out, the political risks on all sides will remain immense.
There seems to be universal agreement that defeating ISIL cannot simply be done from the air but the motion to be voted on tomorrow rules out deploying British forces - one wonders whether this will remain a firm pledge if there were a Paris-style atrocity in London. Instead, we are, apparently, hoping to rely on 70,000 ‘moderates’ to secure land vacated by ISIL as they retreat from our bombs. There is a great deal of scepticism about this assertion and, in what was an otherwise impressive performance by David Cameron in the House of Commons, it was the closest the prime minister came to a ’45 minutes from attack’ claim. If things go wrong, if little evidence of this force emerges and terror returns to the streets of Britain, it will appear as though Cameron, like Tony Blair before him, massaged the views of the Joint Intelligence Committee to push Britain into another conflict. His authority will be dashed for good.
For Jeremy Corbyn, it is hard to find anything in his self-destructive handling of the situation about which to be positive. While the debate should be focused on the rights and wrongs of military involvement in Syria, what we might be able to achieve balanced against the inevitable risks of conflict, the centre of attention has been Corbyn and the furious split that has emerged within Labour. Corbyn has a strong mandate and plenty of support within the wider Labour Party as a whole but he is a terribly isolated figure within the parliamentary Labour Party. It is not hard to imagine figures such as Shadow Foreign Secretary Hilary Benn and Shadow Defence Secretary Maria Eagle vacating their positions soon.
As a permanent rebel, Corbyn was never likely to inspire much loyalty from his shadow ministers and when it is so blatantly clear his policies – on matters such as Trident and military action – contradict the opinions of so many of his close team, he was always on a hiding to nothing. While not having a collective policy on the matter of whether the country goes to war or not is a blow to Labour’s authority, offering his MPs a free vote on the matter was always the likely outcome and should have been offered from the outset. Instead we’ve been exposed to Corbyn at one moment trying to be the diplomat allowing debate within the parliamentary party while in another attempting an impression of a tough guy, insisting that he and only he would be deciding Labour policy.
Thursday, 26 November 2015
And yet, the same person last night stated that the bombers that day 'gave their lives' in protest against the invasion of Iraq after the country had been 'lied to' by Tony Blair. Ken Livingstone 'absolved' them
I knew Blair was lying at the time. So did Ken. I went to anti-war events with Ken Livingstone where Kenneth Kaunda and Jesse Jackson were guests of honour in 'London's Living Room' in City Hall. Jeremy Corbyn was at same of the events too. But despite being lied to by Tony Blair over the invasion of Iraq we didn't bomb London. But Ken Livingstone gave them an excuse they didn't have and it was despicable.
Wednesday, 25 November 2015
George Osborne will commit to building over 400,000 new homes across England by 2020/2021, costing £6.9billion, claiming it will be the 'biggest affordable housebuilding programme since the 1970s'. To achieve this, he will say that the government will be doubling its housing budget and encouraging private developers to build affordable homes.
Of these, the government says 200,000 will be starter homes, aimed at first time buyers under the age of 40 and to be offered at a 20 per cent discount. They would have a maximum, and apparently 'affordable', price of £250,000 outside of London and £450,000 in the capital.
It is, inevitably, just the latest repackaging of a reannouncement of a reannouncement of an announcement on this issue. But, the starter home scheme remains beset by the same problems; largely that they remain far too expensive.
In October this year, Shelter did a study of the policy and demonstrated only higher earners are likely to benefit. It found, at 'current average lending ratios':
The full comments from Shelter can be found here.
It won't be a surprise to many, but the Greens are understandably unimpressed by Osborne's 'affordable' housing plans. In a statement released this morning, London Assembly member Darren Johnson said:
'This budget won't offer anything to most of Generation Rent in London, for whom buying a home is a bad joke, muich like the term "affordable housing". Renters need secure tenancies and rent controls so they can stay put and save a deposit, curbs on property investors who are driving up house prices, and investment in social housing for renters on low incomes.
'This review also marks the end of investment in affordable housing in inner London, where the housing crisis is worst. The chancellor has turned his back on Londoners who are overcrowded, in poverty due to housing costs, and homeless.'
I expect Green MP Caroline Lucas to make much the same arguments later today.
Another figure you won't hear from George Osborne today is a prediction from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR). In a report published today, the organisation reckons that not only will the chancellor miss this year's deficit target of £69.5billion, he will also fail to return the UK to a surplus by 2020.
Blaming weaker than expected growth, the CEBR predicts the deficit will be more than £18billion in 2021, rather than the £11.6bn as predicted by the Office for Budget Responsibility - a black hole of £30bn. After missing most of his main economic targets during the Coalition government, is Osborne going to do it all again?
Wednesday, 18 November 2015
It would seem that the Prime Minister is not too concerned by the views of the UN then.
Tuesday, 17 November 2015
|Corbyn's view on the shoot-to-kill policy|
There is, for apparently good reason, widespread acceptance that it isn't possible to sitdown at a table with these people and negotiate; there will be no agreement or peace and reconciliation commission. We are faced with the difficulty that the jihadis, high on blood lust and power, regard it as a privilege to be killed. This disconcertingly alien doctrine makes it horrendously difficult to know how to obstruct them. Ironically, it would seem that we need to give them the satisfaction of achieving martyrdom; the only way to defeat them must be by military means; it will, of course, be far more difficult, but all the more important, to defeat their ideas.
Wednesday, 4 November 2015
It is, therefore, hardly surprising that the OECD finds that, as a consequence of pretty mediocre spending, by the standards of developed Western nations, we currently have a mediocre health service. Their new report finds that we lag behind countries in key areas such as the survival from cervical, breast and bowel cancer. We need 75,000 more doctors and nurses to match the standards of our peer nations (a cause hardly likely to be helped by our government's anti-immigration rhetoric).
Tuesday, 6 October 2015
The motives for her speech are curious. This visionmight appeal to some grass roots Tories, timid and fretful of the outside world, comfortable in their shires, but it's a weak pitch for leadership. The government has failed to hit its own targets at reducing immigration. Logically, the only way to get net migration to the tens of thousands is to bar European Union migrants and the only way of achieving this is to pull out of the EU to end the freedom of movement. (Her refusal to even acknowledge the migration crisis affecting Europe is a discussion for another day).
Monday, 5 October 2015
|Illtyd, with a newly trimmed beard, at our wedding, with a long haired me|
I remember once he was opening a Camden New Journal jobs fair and, bizarrely, there was a stall representing the security services. Illtyd opened the fair in typically respectful fashion before turning with unveiled fury on the unfortunate officers at this stall, demanding they show him his MI5 security file. I don't think they returned to the fair in subsequent years.
|Illtyd at the Gay Hussar, by Martin Rowson|
The great love of his life was Christopher Downes, the theatre dresser and Camden New Journal theatre reviewer. Together they ran what ran what Peter Mandelson called the 'trattoria'. Talking after his death in 2003, Mr Mandelson told me:
'I remember spending Saturday afternoons in the pub with them and their friends, and we would go back to Lea House (Illtyd and Chris's house), which I used to call 'the trattoria', and Chris would make and assortment of tasty and hearty dishes.'
Homosexuality was illegal for some of the time they were together. In an interview for BBC Wales in 2008, his nephew, actor Richard Harrington, asked how the relationship had been possible, especially considering Illtyd held public office:
'We did it openly. There were lots of men and women like us. We didn't advertise, putting a sign up - we just got on with our lives.'
With Chris, they mixed with an altogether more glamorous crowd than mere politicians; thus, their encounters with Hollywood stars would be liberally sprinkled in their tales. Illtyd and Chris were together for over 50 years and Illtyd felt his loss deeply.
During one afternoon at the Gay Hussar with Illtyd, I recorded our conversation, many of his stories and his reflections on New Labour; it really is about time I dug up the recording and transcribed it.
Tuesday, 29 September 2015
Wednesday, 9 September 2015
Tuesday, 4 August 2015
Wednesday, 29 July 2015
The current chaos in Calais is a symptom of the British government, and its European counterparts, failing to cooperate and formulate a coherent policy to deal with the world's greatest migrant crisis since the Second World War.
We are not witnessing clamouring masses desperate to access the UK - or, in more significant numbers, Germany and Sweden - because of our generous benefits system, the promise of a house, or jobs, or vague security; the primary reason behind this mass movement of people is war.
And European governments hope we just won't notice.
For vast numbers of these migrants are refugees fleeing violence in Syria, Libya, Sudan, Somalia; Theresa May may talk of returning people to their home countries, but to those mentioned above we simply can't. The British government are trying to avoid their international responsibilities and ignore the refugee situation; taking responsibility, it seems, is too much of political cost.
There is no legal means for these refugees to access any possible host country in Europe currently. Trying to storm the Eurotunnel is little of a challenge when compared with the horrors so many have endured.
Greece, Spain and Italy are bearing the greatest burden. And is it any surprise that France might be dealing with the situation in Calais so ineptly in the vague hope that the British government might share some of the burden.
And it's not as though several British governments do not bear some responsibility for the anarchy we are currently seeing in the Middle East and North Africa.
I'm aware I am sounding like a stuck record; I've said the same before about the government's shameful, pathetic, cowardly, inept and short-term politicking on this issue This abject derogation of duty, however, makes me continually furious so it can't be said enough.
We should all be ashamed by their actions.