Tuesday, 22 November 2005
Both men are well reheased by this point in the campaign so there was nothing new, but the discernible difference between the two men in effort, fluency and appeal was very clear.
I liked that both men had space to answer why they were taking the views they do, on health, education, drugs, crime, etc. Davis continues to appeal to the Tories. Cameron is speaking over the top of the Tories to the rest of the country. Davis perceives a battle to be fought and won, Cameron sees an electorate needing to be persuaded and won over. At this point in time, leading the party is pointless unless you are going to lead the country.
Cameron has an interesting view on drugs, as I have commented on previously, and he is going to have to work hard to win the argument. But why does miss out the third pillar of the required strategy. Education, good; rehab, super. But where is the ruthless pursuit of dealers and their supply chain.
It was the same with the Bradford shooting question. Both said we mustn't make policy in the aftermath and both wanted proper sentencing, but why did neither pledge to hunt down and remove illegal guns from our society.
Anyway, apart from making me keener than ever be on that platform, the upshot of it all is that I believe that only one of them will lead a team, make the team work effectively, speak a language that ordinary people warm to rather than run from, and stand firmly on the centre ground, which coincidentally is where the majority of the electorate are currently standing.
I appreciate that Cameron does not have it all and may not yet have all the policies and detail that we need, but I have heard enough to believe that a) he will allow talent to flourish, b) that they will be policies that challenge the way the party has been seen for so long and c) that he has the ability to communicate and persuade agreement with whatever idea the Party and policy makers decide needs to be promoted.
Most importantly, I am voting positively i.e. I am voting for the person I want as leader rather than against the person I don't. I hope that Davis will remain on the scene, but I suspect it won't happen.
I have now looked him straight in the eye, shaken his hand and voted - for David Cameron.
Monday, 21 November 2005
On my local news just now a question that I have been asking all day has finally been answered.
A man from Peterborough travelling in Pakistan and apparently following the cricket, tragically died from a heart attack in recent days and as a result THE ENGLISH NATIONAL CRICKET TEAM WORE BLACK ARMBANDS FOR AN ENTIRE DAY.
I am of course very sad for the family of the deceased man. Their loss is most probably grievous and certainly sudden and very distressing, but on no level is it cause for a national team to sport black armbands of mourning during a days Test cricket. Toast him in the bar by all means. Celebrate his passion and commitment of course, but do not under any circumstances allow such an event to affect the concentration of our national team.
It is almost as bad as the moment last week when Marcus Trescothick publicly considered returning home because his father-in-law had fallen off a ladder. I mean what on earth was anyone doing even telling him that the incident had taken place let alone advising him to fly home.
Where is our moral fortitude? You showed it in your decision to carry on with the tour despite terror concerns and the devastating earthquake. Black armbands for the thousands killed in the disputed territory, but sadly not for a 40 year old man from Peterborough.
Now get on with the cricket.
They capture all the humour, passion, farce and beguilment that the originals do, but in a modern and different setting. The scene in the first one where the lead man (can't remember names) is crawling around the studio floor under the cameras listening to the gossip and being watched from the editor's suite, is pure modern farce and no different to having two characters on stage and having to believe that neither know the other is there.
I have read some cultural snobs taking the view that it is rubbish and a violation of the great Bard's work. On the contrary. Shakespeare is said to have written timeless pieces, stories so fundamentally basic in their appreciation of human life that they will last forever.
If that is the case, then he should stand the test of a thousand interpretations and if some of them see some of our finest young actors bringing him to life in a new and relevant way with a twist fit for 2005 then so be it.
In this one (Taming of the Shrew) Cruella De Ville is just married to Kurgan (from Highlander) and they are trying to "tame" each other!
Get over it Will. If you're here forever, we've got to have our fun too!
Sunday, 20 November 2005
I have thought through the drugs debate a thousand times and every time I do it, I end up having no option but to ban alchohol and cigarettes. All drugs kill either directly or as a result of the decisions you take whilst in the altered state you end up in. Even with my minimal knowledge, however, I know that fags and booze kill more people each year than "drugs" ever will, cause more damage to people and property and cost the taxpayer an arm and a leg in all sorts ways.
The upshot of it all is that criminalising cigarettes and alchohol is not possible, so the importance of making our hard drugs policy make proper sense is beyond parallel or the whole thing lacks integrity and authority and betrays millions of young people.
However before I redirect you, and whilst I agree with much of what you are going to read, I insist that it does not make me soft on drugs. I hate the things and the despair and damage that they cause. But they are an evil reality and we have to deal with them.
The laws surrounding drugs and alchohol are the first real laws that teenagers probably deal with and from them (the laws) they get their first impression of politics and law making. If you tell the average 17 year old that ecstacy and heroin are classed together and carry similar punishments, they will laugh and from that point forward they will have not the slightest respect for anything else we adults say.
Until such time as public opinion allows for the complete prohibition of nicotine and alchohol, drug classification must be completely overhauled to account for reality as well as medical science; education and rehabilitation must be truly effective in its attempt to stop young people falling and picking up those who do; and our police must be ruthless in their pursuit of drug dealers and producers.
I am lucky, I do not have an addictive nature, I have always derived particular pleasure from standing out from the crowd and I dislike the notion of losing control. Compulsory drug testing in the Army kept me inhibited during my twenties, but even once released into the world, and working in Holland for a year, I still had no desire to play with the damn stuff.
But I have two children and nothing worries me more than how I am going to help them navigate a safe path through a world in which drugs are now rife and the norm.
Here's the link. http://bigtommygspeaks.blogspot.com/2005/11/guest-post-on-drugs.html
Saturday, 19 November 2005
Paxman has "interviewed" (grand word for a rather pitiful experience) both of the Leadership contenders. Clearly Cameron enjoyed the experience but judging from the sweat on Davis's neck, he did not. The only news worthy item to emerge from it was Davis's backtracking on his tax cuts promise just days earlier, but nobody seemed to notice or care.
The Editor of Newsnight proclaims that "..it's right that they should be subjected to detailed scrutiny of their principles and policies."
Indeed, but sadly JP so loves to bathe in his own cynicism that he rarely gets round to the process of scrutiny.
He may be entertaining but only in a medieval witch-finding sort of way. Actually he is predictable, belligerent and sneering and is largely responsible for the way that many people now view politcs and those who pursue it.
It is a sad but very accurate indictment of the BBC that he remains their witch-finder general.
P.S. I have never quite understood why anyone mocks Howard for his infamous JP interview. It was masterful politics. In fourteen answers he never once lied or lost his nerve. He beat JP hands down and should be immensely proud of it.
Sunday, 13 November 2005
1. I am ashamed to say that I have prayed to false gods. On Tuesday I thanked the Lord of Little Britain for 5 precious tickets to the live tour. On Wednesday morning I thanked the Lord of precocious pop stars for 4 fabulous tickets to see Robbie Williams in Vienna next year. I also thanked the good Lord of internet webs for allowing me through the net thing before it all crashed and ended in chaos.
2. By Wednesday afternoon, however, my punishment came in spades. As I lay on the dentist's chair, I prayed out loud to the divine lord of gums only to be referred directly to the Gods of Nurofen and Paracetamol. I am in pain and have spent much of the weekend sleeping. Perhaps I deserve it.
3. On the 2nd of November we went to Kimbolton School to watch the world famous Kimbolton Fireworks celebrate 400 yrs of the Gunpowder Plot with the the most nagnificent 20min display set to music called "A Celestial Inferno". Fire rained down for 20 minutes and I have to say, it was the best six quid I have spend in a long time. The music was great, the sequencing lovely and the crescendo perfect. I was therefore sad to hear that a few days later, their display in Kettering went wrong and left people in hospital. Fireworks are dangerous, but fabulously beautiful. Stand well back next time.
4. The cricket is going well in Pakistan. I hope we can hold our batting together. As always our bowling and fielding is efficient and elegant. I love the noise the crowd make in the sub continent. I love their passion. I am also prepared to accept that England's footballers were more than impressive last night. Lets see where we go.
5. I took Oliver and Jasper to our village Remembrance Parade today. Oliver is now in the Cubs so he paraded from the Cub Hut to Church behind their banner and Jasper and I spectated. It is the only day in the year when I dust off my medals (NI and Kosovo) and pop them on. I do feel a little odd but hey, I earnt the damn things so why shouldn't I wear them once a year. Anyone who takes the piss just exposes their own inadequacy rather than my vanity. I let Jasper wear my miniatures!!
6. I am looking forward to the Tory leadership husting in Cambrdige which I am going to. I know who I want to vote for but I just want to hang on until I see them live.
7. I have a monstrous amount of work to do next week!!
I have been in many Minister / Civil service meetings and a good number have come up with some very silly policies indeed. Thankfully they tended to be laughed out of court and never heard of again. This one slipped through and one just wonders who came up with it and why in all the months that a team worked on it, nobody dared say "this is tosh".
After many years of the most despicable politicisation of the Civil Service, one wonders whether they are finally biting back. In the same week that Sir Christopher Meyer publishes a book of such brazen slutishness, a team of Education Department civil servants put a minister in front of the media to announce that the acts of walking, talking and pooing would now be learnt by curriculum. That the very fusion of a baby's new brain links would be subject to Government targets.
If this was a joke by departmental officials, then it was bloody funny and I look forward to many more. If however, it was not, then we may be approaching the most traumatic and disturbing part of a Government's downfall. You see it is instinct that whenever you are falling, you grab at literally anything you can see to break your fall. It is now that civil servants trying to lighten their day by making facetious remarks in Ministerial meetings must be on their guard.
In the meatime we can see where this government is going and although we know that we are all responsible and that we have just had our chance to retire them, we know now that the kindest solution to this desparate Government is the bullet. Lets just hope that nothing too serious happens before we work out where we put the gun.
Sunday, 6 November 2005
Revealed today on the front page of the Sunday Telegraph is the most hateful and spiteful Government policy I have ever known - to increase the council tax of those who have a nice view from their house. Forgive me for being a little traditional, but I thought taxes were for paying for communal services, not payment and punishment for quality of life.
Even the thought of taxing the quality of a house rather than its existence is beyond belief:
It taunts and smacks those who have dared to succeed and prosper;
It terrorises and wards-off those who so much as aspire to succeed and prosper;
It rewards irresponsibility and compliance;
It seemingly advocates the destruction of open spaces (if we can't have them, no-one can);
It further condemns the English countryside, farming and those who live there and manage and protect it;
It could prove to be the ultimate irony in the West Lothian question (remember the poll tax trial in Scotland);
but worst of all, it feeds that most base human instinct of envy.
The petty, nasty chippiness of old Labour has been well hidden these past few years, but it is clear now that as Blair's power starts to wane, the old Labour power bases of the ODPM and Chancery are coming to life again. Only Prescott and Cooper and Brown could propose this sort of vicious, hateful and hypocritical taxation policy.
The combination of New Labour hypocrisy and sleaze combined with the prospect of an ever more oppressive and control-crazed Old Labour government should, in the hands of a competent politician, see them consigned to opposition for another 20 years.
For the government to advocate a policy of this nature is to declare war on millions of Britain's finest people. People who have built this country on hard work, investment, job creation, economic growth, competitive spirit, clean living and family values. It makes the poll tax look positively reasonable.
So it is now, right this very moment, that a Conservative leadership candidate can put Labour, new and old, to the sword in a single stroke and win back the millions of people who deserted in 1997. This is the most outstanding opportunity we have had to wake those swing voters and non voters from their slumber and in the hands of Mr David Cameron could prove conclusive, not just now in this contest, but in a much greater contest in three to four years time.
Friday, 4 November 2005
1. If I am honest, I think DD has gained ground tonight and has magnified DC 's problems of substance and policy.
2. I think they both upheld a terrific showcase of modern conservatism and we'll be glad to have either and happy in the knowledge that if not now, DC will be huge soon.
3. DD managed to regain lost reputation on public speaking and enthusiasm and conviction. He will have done more to turn Tories still trying to decide.
4. But there lies the real debate, the one that the programme only got to in the final 5 mins. Both have some great ideas and differ in principle only marginally. The difference lies not in what you say, but in HOW you say it.
5. My admiration for DC lies in his determination to focus on the real election and to set a tone that cannot be thrown back at him in months and years to come. He knows that he must use this time to look like the sort of person that can win the votes of the influential swing voters, because that's how you gain power.
6. My fear with DD is that he has focussed to much on appealing to the Tory membership that when the real crunch comes he has made his bed and will have to lie in it.
7. So the question is this, can DC win it without creating a lasting image of a policy lightweight or can DD win it without becoming a screaming harpie? They have both chosen their furrow and are sticking to it with admirable determination. So it is now for the party membership, rightly observed as having an average age of over 65, to make its choice.
8. With every day of this particular campaign, I genuinely feel that people and media beyond the party are listening and watching in a way not seen for a decade. That is both a good and remarkable thing. It was said in 1997 that the next Tory PM had not been elected yet, and I think they were right.
9. Just remember, if Tony could beat Gordon, so can David. David Cameron that is.
Wednesday, 2 November 2005
Apparently he wants to continue being in public life so that he can use the fourtenn years of experience he has gained. Fourteen years of experience which has led him to conclude that he can use his position to do as he pleases.
Hard to know where we could make best use of you, Blunkers. Mandy's got the traditional job for people with no discretion.
Tony (Lou) and Dave (Andy)
Tuesday, 1 November 2005
Blunkett says: "This is a straight political battle with the Conservative Party and their allies in the media, and decency."
Never mind the Conservatives and their legions of media allies!!!!!!! (where, who??), but you are right, Blunkett, it a straight forward battle WITH decency. You hang on in there, mate, there's nothing like a rotting political corpse to remind the electorate of past indiscretions. I am sure Mr Brown will be sympathy personified when he takes over, too!
"No interviews on the street. You know the press code!"
"I've warned you, you know the press code!"
So cool. It's beyond irony. Sanctimonious prick.
The Telegraph have dealt with this issue superbly over the past few weeks, particularly this article by Tom Utley http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2005/10/28/do2802.xml
Blunkett is mad, ridiculous and a power crazed minister. I am sure there will be lots of sympathy for the man (not here of course) but the tax payer and voter really shouldn't be subjected to this farce.
Bye bye Bonkers Blunkett.