Wednesday, 27 July 2011

In A Galaxy Far, Far Away

Star Wars director George Lucas has lost in his attempt to try to prevent British prop artist Andrew Ainsworth from selling replica Stormtrooper helmets from his studio in Twickenham, south-west London:

Star Wars may have been a cinematic blockbuster, but its costumes were never high art – a view now confirmed by the supreme court, which has ruled that an imperial stormtrooper's helmet from the movie is not a piece of "sculpture".

The decision opens the way for Andrew Ainsworth, an English prop designer, to carry on selling outfits for up to £1,800 each to customers in Britain but it exposes him – and other UK manufacturers – for the first time to claims of infringement of foreign copyrights in British courts.

Not being a work of art means that any enforceable UK design right in the helmets expired after 15 years.

It's nice to know that the Supreme Court gave careful consideration to this case, with much inside knowledge (page 17, my emphasis):
43. This is quite a puzzling point. The Star Wars films are set in an imaginary, science-fiction world of the future. War films set in the past (Paths of Glory, for instance, depicting the French army in the first world war, or Atonement depicting the British Expeditionary Force at Dunkirk) are at least based on historical realities.
Set...in the future? Er...no:

A Lingering Death

The EU's latest 'rescue' of the Euro last Thursday hasn't even managed to appease the markets for a week:
The wave of relief in European markets that accompanied a new rescue plan for embattled euro zone governments appears to have mostly run its course, suggesting that investors are becoming more skeptical about the plan’s prospects for success.

But as investors examine the details of the package, too many questions remain unresolved, Martin van Vliet, an economist at ING Bank in Amsterdam, said.

The bailout package “was a huge leap for European politicians,” he said. “But it was a small step for the market.”

Unfortunately (for them) and rather predictably that 'huge political leap' is causing problems for Merkel:

GERMAN Chancellor Angela Merkel is facing a storm of protest at home after yielding to European Union calls for radical action to shore up Spain and Italy, raising doubts over her ability to implement the package.

The finance chair for the Free Democrats in the ruling coalition, Frank Schaffler, said the summit deal threatened ''the castration of Germany's Parliament'' by shifting budget power to Europe.

In the meantime Spanish and Italian bonds, are showing a negative market sentiment, as they continue to rise:

Fears that the Greek financial bailout could come unstuck and the eurozone crisis spread further across southern Europe rattled markets again on Tuesday.

Spain and Italy were forced to pay a higher price to sell short-term debt amid concerns that last week's Greek bailout had failed to solve the problems in the eurozone. Spain's short-term cost of borrowing hit three-year highs and demand fell at its Treasury bills auction, while yields at a sale of six-month Italian paper hit their highest since November 2008.

In short the rescue package is just delaying the inevitable, but instead of months or even a year, it now can't even do that. The Telegraph reports that all the rescue package has achieved is to buy enough time for Europe's officials to go on holiday during August:

The new Greek bail-out has bought Europe's officials a breathing space to go on holiday, but it won't last long beyond August argues Martin Vander Weyer.

"Well, at least they've all secured their August holidays," observed Sir John Gieve, the former deputy governor of the Bank of England on the Today programme.

It's very likely that the Euro crisis will be back with a vengeance in September and October and we'll have to go through the whole 'bailout' charade again. The Euro is finished but first we must suffer the long and lingering process of its demise.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Banned.

I was just trawling through the Independent's list of the most controversial films - the tagline being:
"Take some needless violence, a religious satire and a dash of incest - and you've got yourself a collection of films too shocking for cinema".
It includes of course the usual suspects - A Clockwork Orange, The Exorcist and Last House on the Left to name but a few (Interestingly the Independent leaves out The Battleship Potemkin which had one of the longest running bans in British film history). Then at number 17 up pops this (click to enlarge):

It's official, the 'No Pressure' film is on a list that includes such notorious gems as Salo, I Spit On Your Grave and Cannibal Holocaust.

Franny Armstrong must be right proud.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Priorities

From the Times:

Thursday, 21 July 2011

EU Bill Receives Royal Assent

On the 19th July Cameron's much lauded (by himself) 'referendum lock' bill became law. Hague says:
For the first time it gives real control to Parliament and every voter in the country over the most important decisions a government can make in the EU.

"This is good news for our democracy and will significantly strengthen it.

"For the first time it gives real control to Parliament and every voter in the country over the most important decisions a government can make in the EU.
So now, of course, we can expect copious referendums on the transfer of power to Brussels as promised. Can't we?

Euro Fudge

Zerohedge has a list of draft proposals for the Euro crisis - 'leaked to Reuters' - here, and the Telegraph have reported that it was deliberately leaked to support the Euro:
Speculation here in Brussels that draft eurozone proposals were deliberately leaked to Reuters to stop the euro plunging on the markets.
However (my emphasis):
The markets wanted to hear about measures such as using the eurozone's €440bn EFSF bailout to give loans to non-programme countries (Italy and Spain) for bank recapitalisation or allowing it to "intervene on a precautionary basis".

All well and good except that these proposals could well require a change to the EFSF rules, the fund is supposed to be last resort for example, and changes must be agreed in parliaments.

Germany does not want that battle as German voters revolt against even more of their money flowing south. The Finns and Dutch don't like it either.

Markets have now firmed up. Will that message be passed on to Chancellor Merkel in a bid to twist her arm?

Your voters might not like it but the markets need it.
Zerohedge has his doubts this can be achieved (i.e. it's EU fudge):
So far all the news out of Europe is based on changes to EFSF. Greece will be able to borrow for 15 years at 3.5%. French bonds with a 15 year maturity trade at 3.8%. So the EFSF will have to pay more on its debt than it receives? Interesting. Have the rating agencies signed up to rate the new EFSF as AAA? From deals I've worked on, things that always hurt ratings were:
  1. extending maturity,
  2. including banks in addition to sovereigns,
  3. allowing trading,
  4. vague rules as opposed to written rules.
The headlines all indicate the new EFSF has all of these components. I am sure the agencies have been involved in these discussions, but I remain dubious how happy the market will be to finance the EFSF at rates that are remotely in line with the rates the EFSF plans to provide financing at.
And even if the proposals are correct, then it's inevitable that Portugal and Ireland will use this Greek precedent to force better terms as well. The crisis is not over yet by a long way.

Oxy'Moron' Quote Of The Day

"...this morning, the talk is turning towards a selective default, with Dutch finance minister, Jan Kees de Jager, saying it is "potentially inevitable".

Greece To Default

Details are beginning to emerge from the Franco-German agreement, though they remain piecemeal measures rather than an overall coherent strategy. The key measure so far is Greece will be allowed to partially default by effectively extending the maturity of existing bonds:
The deal paves the way for a German-backed initiative for more direct measures to get private holders of Greek bonds to help pay for the bail-out. According to a version of the plan circulated by the European Commission on Wednesday evening, all owners of Greek bonds that come due in the next eight years will be urged to swap their holdings for new bonds that do not mature for another 30 years.
The FTSE slides on the Greece partial default by 48 points.

Euro's Last Legs?

Today's momentous crisis meeting over the Euro and bailout of Greece could well be disastrous for the future of both the Euro and the EU - although if you watched BBC Breakfast this morning, you would be unaware of the possible consequences of it all going wrong today. Apparently, in a brief piece at 08:00, "EU leaders are meeting to discuss a bailout of Greece". In other words move along nothing to see here.

Despite the heavy responsibility of today's meeting, no-one in Brussels has the first idea how to respond to this crisis effectively. The obvious solution - of an orderly break-up of the currency - is a non-starter for them. So what remains are fundamental and seemingly insurmountable differences between the Germans, French and the European Central Bank over the bailout terms of Greece.

My guess is that what will result will be the classic EU fudge, a bewilderingly complex plan that pretends to fix the problem (and allows Greece to partially default but in such a way that it is not made specific) in order to buy more time. Already apparently there is a deal but no details yet are forthcoming.

Whether the markets buy it is another matter; they are clearly losing patience with the whole charade and tomorrow could be Black Friday. But the proponents of the Euro won’t go down without a fight, all the time it will try to buy more time and buy more time. Last November the FT published this article which compared the Euro crisis with the 1960s Sterling devaluation crisis:

To some who went through the unsuccessful struggle from 1961 to 1967 to stave off sterling devaluation, the series of crises surrounding the euro will be drearily familiar. First there is a surprise loss of confidence. Then there is a series of rescue operations, usually taking the form of international guarantees of one kind or another. These are backed up by domestic restrictive measures leading to a domestic recession of sorts. In time the financial pressures ease and near-normality is seen to return. But then, when few are looking, there is another crisis, another set of international rescues and another set of domestic restrictions. And so on. Eventually the struggle is abandoned, and political and financial leaders work to pick up the pieces.

During the period when sterling devaluation was known as “the great unmentionable” a tiny band of Treasury officials kept “a war book” on how to deal with the unmentionable if it nevertheless happened. Harold Wilson, the prime minister, ordered that the “war book” be physically burned, which it was of course not. It is difficult to believe that such a manual does not exist in Athens, Frankfurt and perhaps other European centres.
While Euro-federalists will fight tooth and nail to prevent a disintegration of the eurozone, the simple fact is if something is unsustainable it can not be sustained for ever - however it can still be kept going for quite a long time.

Everyone knows the Euro is seriously screwed but, I suspect after today, being screwed will have to wait just a little bit longer.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Quote Of The Day

"We are approaching the endgame for this part of the European sovereign crises: the number of cans that now need kicking down the road would challenge the left foot of Lionel Messi,"
said Gary Jenkins from Evolution Securities.

Reasonable Force

Well contrary to my expectations it appears that no charges will be brought in relation to the recent fatality during a botched burglary in Manchester:
Now a source close to the investigation has allegedly revealed it is highly unlikely Mr Flanagan will be charged because he used 'reasonable force'. A source told the Sunday Mirror: 'Peter Flanagan was a ­completely innocent man who was confronted with armed men in his home. I am confident he will not face any charges.'
Common sense prevails.

As an aside, one wonders who the Mail employed to conjure up this picture below to the illustrate the story:


I've seen some amateur Photoshop efforts in my time but...

Monday, 18 July 2011

Meanwhile....

As the most "important day in the history of the known universe" approaches, the Euro problems continue to mount after a difficult day on the markets:
Now it is obvious that the battle for the euro is entering an altogether more dangerous phase. Italian and Spanish government bond yields rose again on Monday to their highest levels since the euro’s launch in 1999. So did the premiums that investors demand to buy Italian and Spanish debt rather than top-quality German bonds. “Decoupling”, or the notion that Italy and Spain have inoculated themselves against contagion from Europe’s outermost nations, is being ruthlessly exposed in debt markets as an illusion.
The Telegraph has a similar theme (hidden away in its business section):

Continued deadlock over how to contain the crisis raises the risk of Athens being forced into a disorderly default, which could wreak havoc on the global financial system, or of other, bigger economies becoming swept up also.

The yields, or returns, on Spanish and Italian 10-year government debt hit euro-era highs over 6pc as investors demanded greater reward to shoulder the risk. The borrowing costs implied by such yields close to the levels where governments can not afford to fund themselves and must be bailed out, said analysts.

"If we reach 7pc on Spain and Italy, we are probably approaching very quickly the point of no return," said Nicola Marinelli, a fund manager at Glendevon King Asset Management. "Once the market is shut, it is shut for good. The examples of Greece, Portugal and Ireland are clear."

The Guardian asks whether this week will be Rescue Thursday or Black Friday (again hidden away in its business section):
Don't blame last Friday's stress tests on European banks for the rising sense of panic in bond and stock markets on Monday. Yes, the stress tests, by ignoring the question of what happens if Greece defaults, failed to inspire greater confidence in the European banking system. The real problem, however, remains the same: the apparent refusal of eurozone leaders to act as if they believe that the survival of the single currency is at stake.

Without firm action, investors will conclude that eurozone politicians – specifically the German chancellor Angela Merkel – simply lack the will or electoral authority to fight to save the single currency. It will be Rescue Thursday – or Black Friday.
I'm not keen on baked beans but if I were I would be stocking up on them tomorrow.

Stony Stratford (Update)

It seems that the jolly last Saturday against idiot Councillor Bartlet's attempt to enforce a complete smoking ban has had an effect:
It would appear that rumours of a withdrawal of Herr Bartlett's motion were correct. The reason given for this change of tack, though, are the special kind of Bartlett bonkers we've come to expect.
"The motion to ban smoking in Stony Stratford will not take place at tomorrow's town council meeting (Tuesday) and will now be discussed at the next meeting in September.

As reported in last week's MK NEWS, Councillor Paul Bartlett was planning to postpone his motion as he believes his opponents' arguments are 'flimsy' and they need more time to prepare."
So apparently Councillor Bartlet is happy to postpone to help his opponents because their arguments are flimsy? With excuses like that, is he a MEP?

No doubt in September he will try again to impose the ban but hoping no-one will notice.

Where's Everyone Gone?

I really don't want to comment on the continuing phone scandal, but...but I can't resist:
One of the striking things about the wall to wall hackgate coverage on the 24 hours news channels is the absence of Tory voices defending the Prime Minister. It is coming to something when the leader of another political party, Nick Clegg, is doing more to defend the PM than most of the Tory members of the Cabinet.

One minister told me earlier that Number 10 was having trouble getting people to go on TV to bat for the PM. While many Tories are wondering where their party chairman is, in these circumstances you would expect her to be touring the TV studios.

Number 10 needs to hit the phones and get able, media-savvy Tory MPs to defend the PM in public and private. They also need to counter-attack, pointing out that Labour under Blair and Brown also got far too close to Murdoch and News International.
As many of the comments point out, perhaps the reluctance to defend Cameron is due to... erm ...how do I put this? He's not very popular? All PMs have difficulties but Cameron has only been in the job for a year - he's coming undone faster than an 'undone' machine, in an 'undone' factory in 'undonesville'.

We're Too Stupid?

Autonomous Mind has an excellent piece highlighting an article in the Guardian which illustrates neatly the patronising arguments that pro-EU supporters deploy:
There’s lots of reasons why the people haven’t bought into our Guardian-BBC pro-EU agenda. But chief among them is the great satan, Rupert Murdoch.

Forget what the people think and what the people don’t like, we at the Guardian know Murdoch actively turned people against the EU and it was only because it suited his business interests.

But now we have managed to taint Murdoch with the smears about phone hacking, even though we still continued to associate ourselves with Rebekah Wade after she told Parliament her paper had paid the police for information, the biggest obstacle to us presenting the British people with completely biased, selective and distorted pro-EU news and information is about to be removed.
Naturally, as AM sardonically puts it, the argument runs that the EU is a marvelous thing and those that oppose it are brainwashed, idiots and "Little Englanders". I had experience of this during the Lisbon Treaty debates in 2008 when for the first time I wrote to most of the members of the Lords imploring them to force the members of the Commons to uphold their manifesto promises. I quoted in my letter the fifth Marquess of Salisbury:
“I have always believed it is the function of your Lordships’ House not so much to interpret the will of the people as to give the people an opportunity of expressing their own views.”
Unsurprisingly I received few replies, and of those few replies half contained the same patronising sentiments, basically any referendum is unwise because it would be "hijacked" by the popular press. Here's a perfect example from Lord Bradshaw (scanned, click to enlarge):

Note the words (my emphasis):
"The Treaty of Lisbon is a very long document of several hundred pages. I have never supported a referendum on a narrow issue, which would be distorted by the popular press, most of which are owned by tax exiles".
In other words let "the experts deal with it, it's all too much for your silly heads".

That there is great inaccuracy about EU affairs is true, but the common complaint which emanates from Europhiles is that we would all love the EU if only we understand it more - an argument which is nonsense on stilts. The reverse is actually true.

It's not newspapers that reinforces anti-EU opinion but real life - perhaps Guardian journalists (and the BBC) should try a taste of it. I hate the EU because I have to live with its regulations which I can't influence via the ballot box, because it affects every aspect of my life and because on 16th Spetember 1992 my family came within a whisker of losing our home due to the high interest rates as a result of our country stupidly following the ERM.

The Greeks are not rioting because they've read some made up story about the EU in a News International paper. They're rioting because membership of the EU is a disaster. They know it and so do we.

The Adventures of Tintin

As expected the markets have not taken the results of the EU stress tests too well, so The Boiling Frog is feeling a bit weary with it all - as Richard North says I wish they just get on with it and end the whole silly charade.

So in order to cheer myself up, I thought I would post this trailer of the up coming Tintin film:



The Boiling Frog is a huge fan (See, I don't dislike everything that emanates from Belgium), but is normally unimpressed with adaptations, which invariably miss out much of the humour, subtleties and politics of the original books. But I'm hopeful this will be different. Partly because virtually every frame in that trailer is taken from the books and mostly because Steven Spielberg is a fan as well - so much so that when he acquired the rights in the early 80s he scrapped the filming project when Herge died in 1983 out of respect. (Most of Spielberg's films contain references to Tintin, for example scenes from Close Encounters are lifted straight out of Flight 714).

Anyway, Christmas, Tintin? It'll be like I'm a kid again.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Don't Panic!

It seems that Sir Paul Stephenson’s resignation this evening, with clear criticisms of Cameron, has caused some turmoil in Dale Towers:
I can't believe I am even writing this, but it is no longer an impossibility to imagine this scandal bringing down the Prime Minister or even the government. OK, some of you reading this may think that last sentence is a deranged ranting, and you may be right. Indeed, I hope you are. But Sir Paul Stephenson launched a thinly veiled attack on David Cameron in his resignation statement and the Prime Minister is already on the ropes about the propriety of his relationship with Andy Coulson.

But for the first time since 2005, some people are thinking about life after Cameron. And that's not good. Not good at all.
Unsurprisingly I beg to differ with the last sentence.

That Broken Record

Here we go again, clearly rattled by a rise in eurosceptism and louder calls for a referendum of our EU membership, so called eurosceptic Hague (aka dome-headed twat) is wheeling out the old Tory argument in today's Telegraph of: "in Europe not ruled by it". Witterings from Witney and the 13th Spitfire are not impressed. And rightly so - the Lisbon Treaty makes it clear that EU law is supreme, to be a member is to be subservient to it - it is its raison d'etre.

I've heard this bollocks from the Tories for over 20 years, and it's getting very very boring. They still continue to integrate further our country into the EU whilst trying to pretend otherwise; even as late as last Monday - when the press obsession with the Murdoch fallout continued - the Tories quietly agreed to opt-in to yet another EU law:
That this House takes note of European Union Documents No. 10610/11 and Addenda 1 and 2 relating to the Draft Directive establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims of crime, No. 10613/11 and Addenda 1 and 2 relating to the Draft Regulation on mutual recognition of protection measures in civil matters, No. 10612/11 and Addenda 1 and 2 relating to a Commission Communication–strengthening victims’ rights in the EU and the unnumbered Explanatory Memorandum dated 16 May 2011 relating to a Council Resolution on a Roadmap for strengthening the rights and protection of victims, in particular in criminal proceedings; and welcomes the opportunity to consider views on whether the UK should opt in to the draft Directive establishing minimum standards on the rights, support and protection of victims and the Draft Regulation on mutual recognition of protection measures in civil matters.
The problem for the Tories is that the world and the EU has moved on - integration continues apace against the will of 'EU citizens'; it's no longer as easy as it once was to hide our real government, and being out of touch with its own members has had its consequences, notwithstanding the obvious consequence of a rise in euroscepticism, from all sides of the political spectrum, as the project ever more reveals itself.

The EU's demise is inevitable and our exit in one form or another is also inevitable. By clinging on to a failed 20th century ideology the Tories are sowing the seeds of their complete destruction.

John Major greatly damaged the Tory party passing the Maastricht Treaty, and it seems that his successors are keen to finish off the job. With the demise of the EU will be the destruction of its greatest cheerleader - the Tories - and when it comes, it will be good riddance to them both.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

The Real Story?

What is difficult to escape at the moment is the obsession of the UK MSM regarding the Murdoch scandal. The stench of hypocrisy, as each party pretends that it never had any dealings with the Murdoch press, is overwhelming. However what the relentless day-after-day coverage of Cameron's little difficulty means is that real issues like the economy, immigration, democracy and the "soon-to-appear-financial-tsunami-onto-British-shores" of the Euro crisis are being overlooked. This is a point that political betting makes today (my emphasis):
It is a measure of how preoccupied the media has been with the phone-hacking scandal and the associated stories of the aborted NewsCorp takeover of BSkyB that prior to Thursday, one or other aspect of it formed the subject of Robert Peston’s previous sixteen blog entries. It is without doubt a major and developing story and fascinating to the Westminster Village as it involves so many of them. But momentous though it’s consequences may be, it’s still not the most important ongoing story of the moment.
Fascinating to the Westminster Village? Indeed, and meanwhile in the real world...
That story is the debt crisis. Seant commented earlier this week about the parallels between the financial events of this era and those of the Great Depression and there are many. That crash, like this one, was caused by a mixture of private and public debt getting out of control; banks lending against ever-increasing asset values which they assumed would continue to inflate; borrowers eager to buy a piece of the action with money they didn’t have; governments happy to spend the taxes the activities appeared to sustain. There are of course significant differences too, the actions of the central banks in keeping the money supply flowing being one of the most important.
PB concludes:
The hacking scandal will subside, leaving a trail of former journalists and maybe even proprietors behind but ultimately papers will continue to be published, TV stations will go on broadcasting and the public will buy what appeals. Meanwhile, the world is changing - not quite as quickly but far more fundamentally.
Eight EU banks failed the less than stringent tests last week* (One German bank, Helaba, withdrew), and even the EU is prepared for a bumpy ride on the markets on Monday:
“I think next week could see chaos. It’s clear the tests the EBA has done are inadequate. We now have the weekend to work out what the banks really need,” said one analyst at a major European bank.
And the Spectator suggests that:
Investors and market analysts are preparing for ‘Black Monday’ after only 8 banks failed the test and must now raise £2.2 billion between them to stave off ruin.
And Greece runs out of money by Tuesday:

EXPERTS last night warned Europe has only 48 hours to save the single currency amid concern over the failure to seal a new rescue plan for debt-laden Greece.

The inability of politicians to agree a solution to the financial crisis threatening Europe sparked market jitters as continued uncertainty threatened to undermine the eurozone. One City executive said: “We need to come in on Monday morning and see something happening, otherwise I fear the worst.”

Such news though in the main press is relegated to the business sections - the possible collapse of a major currency is not deemed as important as the self-perpetuating bun-fight in the MSM on the Murdoch scandal.

*A Boiling Frog tip; avoid investing any money in Santander.

"You're"


Now you would think that spending a considerable sum of money to advertise in today's Saturday Telegraph magazine, would concentrate the mind regarding checking and double-checking basic grammatical errors (click scanned image to enlarge):
"Your assured beautifully designed kitchens, beautifully installed - we make it easy."
But no.

Stony Stratford

The Boiling Frog has spent most of today partaking in the jolly at Stony Stratford, making our feelings known against the idiot that is Councillor Paul Bartlett - who wishes to ban smoking in all public places (the vote is on Tuesday). Needless to say that Barlett, who did not stand for election on this issue, has decided to defy the wishes of his electorate to force through his personal desire of a smoke free Stony Stratford.

I'm not a smoker myself - and no doubt Barlett won't be the last - but yet again, this is a clear case of; "first they came for the smokers, then they came for..."

I'm pleased to say that there was a good turnout and it was great to meet the Fuel Injected Moose, Dick Puddlecote, Misanthrope Girl, Dave Atherton, Roger Helmer, Anonymong and other fellow bloggers.

Let's see how the vote goes on Tuesday.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Quiet

Blogging will be quiet as The Boiling Frog is away for a couple of days, mainly 'cos he's attending the British Grand Prix tomorrow:

And for those not interested in a silly car race conducted by rich men, here's an example of one of the most popular Google image searches for the word "Silverstone": *


*In vague tribute to the demise of the News of the Screws

Unlucky?

As Richard from EUReferendum rightly points out, since the phone hacking scandal has emerged the MSM have gone from; "Cameron is a legend in his own lifetime" to "er... perhaps he's a bit crap after all". Of course any sensible person was never taken in by Cameron from the start.

Conservative Home has a different theory on Cameron's current difficulties - it's all about luck. Tim Montgomerie insists that Cameron is not an incompetent idiot (to put it mildly) but instead he's...wait for it... unlucky (I can hear the violins now). In the beginning according to the gospel of TM "Poor ol' Cameron" started off by being lucky:
I've always thought that, on balance, Cameron has been lucky. He's certainly been lucky in his opponents. David Davis in the 2005 Tory leadership contest ran a very uninspiring and complacent campaign and he's never faced a serious competitor to his party leadership since. More significantly Cameron took over as Leader of the Opposition when Tory-killer Tony Blair was on the way out. He's since faced Brown and Miliband as Labour leaders. Neither come close to possessing the magic of Blair.
He's right that Brown didn't have the magic that Blair did, which is somewhat of an understatement. Brown not only lacked the 'magic', he was one of the most incompetent unsuited and unpopular leaders in history. Labour's poll rating was worse than under Michael Foot. So in that sense Cameron was lucky with his opponent, which rather begs the obvious question; why didn't he win the election? The Conservatives should have trounced Labour - they didn't. Lucky? Hmm!

Then TM uses an article in the Independent to argue:
...that events have been very unlucky for Cameron...
That depends on your definition of unlucky. Many of course would argue that you make your own luck. It can be argued that this is unlucky or accidently stepping on a 3-pin plug is unfortunate but it is not unlucky to deliberately get close to News International at a time when phone hacking was an issue that had been known since 2005, and that Cameron had repeatedly been warned over Andy Coulsen. That's not unlucky but a fundamental demonstration of poor judgement.

In truth Cameron is an unprincipled, shallow, vacuous, power-hungry tosspot and the likes of TM, Conservative voters and Cameron deserve each other. The tragedy is the rest of us don't deserve any of it: it's us that are the real unlucky ones.

Friday, 8 July 2011

We're All Gonna Die!

So says Huhne reported in the Mail. As opposed to the current situation of peace, plenty of food and no immigration. However what can we expect from a Minister who says this...
An editor, frankly, knows what's going on in her or his newspaper and either they know what's going on in which case the editor of the News of the World at the time was either complicit in some criminal activity or they're extremely incompetent.
...when facing this.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

EU Criticises The Messenger

Apparently the Euro crisis is all the ratings agencies' fault:
European politicians accused credit rating agencies on Wednesday of anti-European bias after Moody's downgrade of Portugal's debt to "junk" cast new doubt on EU efforts to rescue distressed euro zone states without debt restructuring.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said the decision to cut Lisbon's rating by four notches so soon after it became the third country to receive an EU/IMF bailout was fuelling speculation in financial markets.
Greece is bust, Portugal will need a second bailout (it's only just received the first one) and Ireland is likely to need a second bailout also but no, apparently these ratings agencies are acting all a bit strange and with 'anti-European conspiracy' intentions:
"It seems strange that there is not a single rating agency coming from Europe. It shows there may be some bias in the markets when it comes to the evaluation of the specific issues of Europe," Barroso told reporters in the European Parliament.
Clearly the EU wants its own ratings agency so that it could try to circumnavigate the markets like it does with its own treaties - then everything in the EU garden would be rosy.

Constitutional Issues?

Ah bless, Labour MP Chris Bryant is worried about "constitutional issues", in a speech this afternoon about the phone hacking scandal, he says (my emphasis):
It pains me to say this but I think the honest truth is a lot of lies have been told to a lot of people. When police officers tell lies, or at least half-truths to ministers of the Crown and then Parliament ends up being misled, I think that is a major constitutional issue for us to face.
So no prizes for guessing on how he votes regarding the EU (click to enlarge):

And Mr Bryant has never been guilty of half truths himself, oh no:
Quite extraordinarily, the Tories have even flirted with the idea of trying to opt-out of the European arrest warrant scheme, which has been used to fast-track the extraditions of over 350 fugitives from British justice since it took effect in 2004. The average extradition time has fallen from 18 months to 50 days. These are not any old criminals, either. These are people wanted for terrorism, murder and child sex abuse
The same warrant that did this, and nor did he tell half truths here during a debate on the European Union bill (my emphasis):
Chris Bryant: Referendums in different countries operate in different ways. I think that I have heard the Minister say on a couple of occasions both here and elsewhere that there was never a referendum that supported the Lisbon treaty. That is completely untrue, as the Spaniards were the first to hold a referendum and it had an 83% or 84% yes vote, so he is wrong about that.
Spain's referendum was on the EU constitution not the Lisbon Treaty.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Lowest Of The Low

Claims that News Of The World hacked Milly Dowler's mobile after she had been abducted are shocking. Not only was the voicemail accessed but messages were deleted when the inbox became full - leaving Milly Dowler's parents to hope that their daughter was still alive. Truly despicable stuff.

Predictably and understandably there has been outrage from all parties, from twitter and the usual suspects and it's hard not to agree with Labour MP Tom Watson's strong words.

But how much do outraged people really care? Ranting on twitter is not going to worry Murdoch's 'evil empire'; his concern is money. So will there now be mass boycotts of The Sun, The News Of The World, The Times or Sky and Sky Sports in protests? The answer will be a predictable no. Are Scousers the only people of this country with a backbone?

And what about the political parties? Labour didn't care when they cosied up to Murdoch because it suited them, before they threw their toys out the pram in 'disgust' when the The Sun ditched them for the Tories who cosied up to them. Will Cameron or indeed Ed Miliband now distance themselves from News International?

And no outrage over the corruption of the Met who have covered up the scandal (under a Labour government) or that other papers are being unusally quiet about the whole hacking scandal. It's highly unlikely that this was a one off in a case such as this.

As Obnoxio the Clown says: "We get the government we deserve. We also get the media we deserve. "

The inevitable outcome is outrage and condemnation today and tomorrow a phone call into SkySports; "can I renew my subscription in time for the new football season".

Friday, 1 July 2011

British Jobs For British Workers?

Although he didn't explictly say it, Tory MP Iain Duncan Smith has adopted Gordon Brown's phrase; of "British jobs for British workers". It's a reluctant acknowledgment of the most important issue facing this country as far as the voters are concerned - immigration. It is also an example of how pathetically helpless our MPs really are.

Firstly Iain Duncan Smith accepts that immigration is an issue:
While stressing that immigration plays a vital role in British society, he will argue that many immigrants end up doing jobs that could easily be done by British citizens.
But of course the elephant in the room regarding immigration is that controls on EU citizens coming to this country are not possible; a point even the presenters this morning on BBC Breakfast acknowledged. The director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, David Frost, says (my emphasis):
"They expect young people to come forward to them who are able to read, to write, to be able to communicate and have a strong work ethic," he said. "Too often that is not the case and there is a stream of highly able Eastern European migrants who are able to fill those jobs. They are skilled, they speak good English and, more importantly, they want to work."
So will IDS as part of his radical reform of the welfare system advocate withdrawal from the EU that would return control back to us regarding our own borders? I think we all know the answer to that question. Another Tory pretending that we govern our own country.

Then following on from that, effectively - IDS, a Minister of State is telling companies to break the law by discriminating against foreign workers in favour of British workers; a direct breach of the Equality Act.

Yet again we have more empty rhetoric from the Tory party, when will their supporters learn? Exit from the EU and repealing the Equility Act are within the power of Tory Ministers and again they fail to rise to the challenge.

And what about IDS' boss - well he had better things to do today like running about in an Aston Villa football top.

Taking a leaf out of his mentor's book on 'being shallow is the new shallow' he thinks it's important to pretend to like football and we all know he doesn't really.

Presumably Cameron thinks that a Villa football strip is a perfect choice because they are not in the Home Counties but are instead based in a city with marginal constituencies. See look how 'working class' and 'down with the normal chap' he is?

Actually on reflection Villa is rather a symbolic choice for Cameron, probably not for reasons he would like. They are run by foreign owners, have delusions of grandeur (still thinking that they are a big team but aren't), are facing a challange for dominance by their upstart neighbours, have not won anything significant since the mid-90's and destroyed important parts of their hertitage to replace it with vapid and insipid new 'improvements'.

And even then I bet Cameron has no idea what the Holte End is.