Wednesday, 13 December 2006

Man the wire. English tourist on the loose!

What follows is the content of an email I received this evening from a friend describing his most wonderful encounter with Federal Agents protecting the US capital. It is published with consent but anonymously.

"Mohammed Al-Touristkh" as we shall call him, is a great friend and a very loyal servant of the Crown. He is taking some time out between arduous postings to visit the States (and undertake some serious 'courting' of a delightful babe called Amanda!).

Here is the story. This is what we are fighting for in Iraq and Afghanistan!

Howdie folks,

Just thought I would fill you in with the latest from N America. I haven't been in touch much but I spent about 3 weeks in Canada - 11 days of that skiing.

Anyways, I am currently in Washington DC visiting a friend from Baghdad and doing some sightseeing.

Sooo, I've done the Capitol, seen the White House (hey's it is sooo much smaller in real life compared to TV), the memorials on the Mall etc. etc. Very impressive. Really inspiring.

So, what's left? hmmm.

Well, I think I'll go to Arlington Cemetery (well worth a visit by the way). So, on the way to the Cemetery on the Metro is the Pentagon.

First mistake: I had a thought off the top of my head. Spontaneity will kill me one of these days.

I kinda know there won't be much to see but nothing prepared me for the reception I got. I come up from the Metro and clearly the Metro is right (I mean right) by the entrance to the Pentagon. OK, so I've worked in a few security sensitive environments.

I like to think I am becoming worldly but am I naive?

I ask the kindly security guard where I can walk around, admitting I am a tourist.

BIG mistake.

I have no Kalashinkov on me, I am not wearing a beard. No rucsac. So, they say you can't see anything, no photos. Fair enough.

I was just standing there having got off the tube. Imagine being at the gates at the end of Downing St - kinda like that. You're not going anywhere, not asking to go anywhere. Rather, you're asking where you should not go.

They ask for ID. So I show them my driving licence - which the guard disappears with for a while. Next step:

"Sir, please walk forward. Remove your hands from your pocket." I had ipod wires sprouting from my pockets.

"Sir, please empty your pockets. Show me what those wires are attached to. What's in that pocket." Crikey, what have I done?

"Sir, I would like to ask you some questions." Out comes the form.

I also want to ask a few questions, sir.

Then we go through all my intimates name, address, height, age, weight. Well, not as fat as half your country, sir.

What's the address of your hotel. Oh, well that's not too hard, I've got a card in my pocket that has the address. But I have to put down my book on my counter and I know what'll happen. I smirk inwardly. You've gotta enjoy this bit. Just out of sheer playfulness.

So I inwardly sigh with delight as I place my book down face upwards, on his desk. "Taliban" rages the front cover. Come on, sir, it's a good read.

I don't need to look into the guard's eyes to see flashing lights, sirens, alarm bells go off. The whole lot. I half expect to look down and see a red dot somewhere on my chest.

I am playing it utterly straight at this point despite my mind working overtime. I am NOT provoking. I understand what is going on. It's just a slightly unexpected version of what can happen anywhere at anytime in Iraq.

Question, "Where do you work, sir." For the U.S. Government, sir! 53rd Division, Blair Brigade, sir.

I answer, "For the Foreign Office (pause). Kinda like your State Department."


"I've spent the last six months in Baghdad." I was sort of disappointed. He was not very impressed.

I have been detained at this checkpoint for 20 mins by now. They still have my licence.

Now you'll love what happens next.

Ah, the suits appear, aka "The Feds." A pair of them. The short one is wearing a pink shirt and all cold smiles. The tall one is in a brown leather jacket; he'll be playing the bad cop.

"Sir, what are you doing here? When did you come into the country? When are you leaving?"

Am I in Hollywood? I'm not sure I've got enough make-up on for this sort of role.

I have my hands in my pockets.

"Sir, please remove your hands from your pockets." My Dad always said never to put your hands in your pockets. Now, I know why.

This is just too much. I try for a bit of childish, brazen antics. I put my hands in the air. They didn't like this.

I give a bit back after another few questions. Not aggressive, I just try it on. Fortunately, they are badly trained. They get provoked and show it. Pathetic. This is not security, this is a bureaucratic waste of time. The CIA is clearly so large they have people who have far too much spare time to enter stupid, pointless data into.

Anyway, they are basically conciliatory but it takes a while to get to that point.

The problem was I had unknowingly stepped onto federal property. Unfortunately that happened pretty much immediately after I got off the Metro - I'm serious. And I didn't have my passport on me which would have showed that I had not been smuggled in with some coke from Afghanistan, if you know what I mean.

Things are a little lighter now. They give me some advice. Carry your passport, sir. Fair enough, that makes sense. I had already recommended to them that they have a sign saying that security restrictions are in place. They have more advice.

"Even been seen reading that book on the Metro. Someone might make a phone call and report..."


"What about freedom of speech?"

"... people are scared of dying." Some people clearly are.

I'm scared of dying intellectually. Are you scared? Is your country, sir? Is it scared of asking, quizzing, being curious, being inquisitive, asking what you shouldn't ask, being different, finding out more, not accepting what you are told, going beyond the conventional.

I walk off, my mind a whirlwind. Freedom, stupid bureaucracy, the image of US overseas, 9/11, liberty, security, state of fear, debate, or lack of it, authoritarianism, militarism.

My first interaction with the federal government of the United States of America has just taken approximately 55 minutes out of my life.

Now I know them.

And they know me.

Saturday, 9 December 2006

How to deal with a marketing caller

Give yourself a couple of minutes, kick back and laugh out loud...

Click here.

Hat tip to

Tuesday, 5 December 2006

The Perth Test

The England team for the 3rd Test in Perth should be:

Strauss (Captain)

Six batsmen; 7 bowlers; 1 decent wickie.

Strauss must be Captain. Then and only then will he come to the party.
Cook will get there (remember, Bell was worse than this in 2005!)
Bell is on the verge of something special.
Number 4 is the place for the best batsman. KP must move up and send out a more positive message.
5 is the place for devastation and for the world’s best all rounder. Enter Freddie breathing fire.
Despite his double century, Colly is a dependable support act for superior batsmen above him and also the best man to bat with the tail to maximum effect.
Keepers are there to take wickets and save runs. He is technically better at that than Jones.
Mahmood is as good a bowler as Anderson and will support Hoggard and Flintoff more effectively. As it happens he is also a cocky batsman who loves to get whatever runs he can.
Monty may be quiet and unassuming, but he is also lethal.

1982 all over again

Flintoff is a great bowler and a devastating batsman on his day. He is an inspiration and a talisman.
He is, however, not a leader and not a Captain. Those are different skills and, like Botham before him, Flintoff does not possess them. He must be replaced immediately with Strauss and ultimately Vaughan.

Flintoff’s ‘shock and awe’ cricket is a weapon to be deployed, it is not a strategy that wins games. Brilliant individual play can turn and win games but only when it is deployed within a thought through strategy. It is the thinking that is missing and consequently individual brilliance is worthless.

One wonders when England will ever realise that individual brilliance does NOT equal automatic Captaincy. It is a national disease that we promote the best player on the team. I mean you only have to look across to Mr Beckham to see what I mean. For generations we coached and cultured leadership as crucially as sporting skills themselves and often carried a moderate player as Captain simply because his skills were as fundamental to the team make up as batting and bowling – Mike Brierley being the obvious example.

Flintoff came into this series with a fearsome reputation, but placed in an invidious position by the Sport’s board. He is on the brink of disaster, both personal and national.

He has to understand that the hardest decision is the one which will save his team and himself. He must throw off the shackles of leadership, return to the talismanic position he always enjoyed and put the Aussies to the sword.

Just make him watch the story of 1982. For Botham read Flintoff. For Brierley read Vaughan and for Bob Willis, read Harmison. We are now in the crucial gap between 2nd and 3rd tests, when in 1982 Botham was released to savage the Aussies and restore his reputation. Brierley managed him perfectly and carried Willis forward too, giving him the opportunity to sock it to his critics also.

This can still be his Ashes, but not if he persists, misguided by the belief that he must press on in a role that he cannot perform and which is slowly suffocating his massive talent.

Vaughan must play. Fit or not, a team around him (even at number 11!) can fight back.

Fletcher and England are living in the past

Most people will probably search our 2nd innings batting card for the answers to this miserable defeat, but the real answer lies in our 1st Innings bowling card. We dawdled through our overs, allowed hours of toothless bowling and passive defensive fielding and took far too long to get the wickets.

This test will be used by coaches for the rest of time to demonstrate just why test match cricket is won with the ball not the bat. It really doesn’t matter how many runs you score. If you can’t or don’t bowl out the opposition twice, you cannot win.

Fletcher’s determination “to bat to eight” sums up the defensive, backward approach this team is taking to the series. They believe that they cannot bowl them out, so they are trying to score enough runs to get draws. Can you imagine how Collingwood, Pietersen and Hoggard feel tonight. Massive personal performances made worthless by a tangible lack of team ambition.

We are in a pretty sorry state when we select our bowlers on the basis of their batting ability! But that is precisely what we are doing. The trouble is, the team slumps. The real batsmen don’t feel the pressure and the whole team dreads fielding.

Fletcher must reverse his thinking immediately. He must aspire to ‘bowl to four’ if you see what I mean. Whatever he does, he must restore the detailed plans for each batsmen. You see the Aussies are fighting back. Last year’s plans aren’t working anymore. The Aussies are thinking. We are just battering on.

Sunday, 26 November 2006

Take a vote - this or speed cameras

We have something of a speeding problem along our stretch of the A1 and I along with other councillors am trying to find a resolution.
Sadly, I fear it may not be as simple as this...

(I make no comment other than to say that you need neither an understanding of Danish nor any level of volume. Any one offended by female "birthday suits" may want to skip on by.)

Click here:

Hat tip to Iain Dale

Middle & Off Ashes Blog

A very good friend has started an Ashes Blog.
Join the debate at

Why am I doing this?

I am one of the mugs who have tried to reorganize their day to accommodate a bit of live cricket, but if this is how we are to be rewarded, then frankly they can all go to hell in a hand cart.
Flintoff hasn’t got a clue what to do. Honestly, even if he has to bat at 11 with a runner, I would prefer Vaughan to be brought back immediately.
Our great “batting solution” to play Giles and Jones in place of Panesar and Read, managed to accumulate a mere 43 runs. Frankly I would rather have a proper spinner and keeper who could do something about the number of runs being scored by the opposition in the first place.

How can it be that the England manager and captain have forgotten the simple fact that in cricket, it doesn’t matter how many runs you score yourself, but you can ONLY win by taking 20 wickets and getting the other side out twice. Therefore you must make your bowling attack the very best you can.

Love, Love, Divorce. Love, Love, Divorce.

On the news that Heather Mills is quitting Britain for good, I am compelled to say what I have been longing to say for a while.
This whole divorce / gold digging affair just couldn’t have happened to nicer people. Bye bye Mills, and if you can take McCartney with you all the better.
Don't you wonder about the rather odd release of a new Beatles Love Album? Fundraiser to pay off Mills without making quite such a dent in your finances perhaps?

Complete surrender

How ironic that the Govt’s efforts to restore peace to Northern Ireland are nearly reduced to a pile of rubble by a man only free to roam the streets because of their own Early Release Scheme. The pony tailed prat was sentenced to ovewr 600 years in prison in 1989 and released 11 years later.
Sorry mate but we surrendered ages ago.

Thursday, 23 November 2006

Fletcher and Flintoff have f~**&^*d up and I am furious

Fletcher’s crimes:

Woefully inadequate preparation of our strike bowlers
Pathetic handling of Trescothick
Picking Flintoff as Captain. He may be the best player on the pitch and a genuine inspiration, but that does not make him a Captain. The Captaincy will do nothing but dilute and suffocate the very flair that makes him so dangerous. Flintoff leads by being ‘mates’ with the players and it doesn’t work.
Failure to stand up for English cricket and throw the recent ICC Champions trophy to the dogs, in favour of a proper build up to this series in Australia.
Over reliance on injured players coming straight back to the team without form. Giles, Flintoff, Harmison, Anderson all fit that bill. There is even talk of Vaughan playing in later tests even though he has not played since the last Ashes series.
Staggering decision to pick Giles over Panesar for this Test just because Giles MIGHT score a few runs. If you are looking for a bowler who can slog some runs, try Mahmood, who scored 46 runs just three days ago.
The team decision this morning told the Aussies that we have no confidence, and if you do that you might as well stay at home.

Flintoff’s crimes:

Conspiring with Fletcher to allow the above list of crimes to takes place
Preference for Giles over Panesar and Mahmood over Anderson. Panesar must have burst into tears when he saw Pieterson being asked to bowl spin.
Failure to react to what the pitch and the batsmen were showing him in the first session. Harmison did not bowl that well but ball after ball went flying through extra gulley, yet he never once plugged the gap.
Flintoff didn’t think today and he didn’t manage his bowlers. He lost control early, had no plan and chased the game for most of the day.

If this is the tone of the series then Flintoff can only expect to go the way of our last cricketing great – I.T. Botham, and England will come home empty handed.

Make Vaughan Captain again, crutches and all.

Sunday, 15 October 2006

How Men and Women differ

Please engage sense of humour before reading!

If Laura, Kate and Sarah go out for lunch, they will call each other Laura, Kate and Sarah.
If Mike, Dave and John go out, they will affectionately refer to each other as Fat Boy, Godzilla and Four-eyes.

When the bill arrives, Mike, Dave and John will each throw in £20, even though it's only for £32.50. None of them will have anything smaller and none will actually admit they want change back.
When the girls get their bill, out come the pocket calculators.

A man will pay $2 for a $1 item he needs.
A woman will pay $1 for a $2 item that she doesn't need but it's on sale

A man has six items in his bathroom: toothbrush and toothpaste, shaving cream, razor, a bar of soap, and a towel from M&S.
The average number of items in the typical woman's bathroom is 337. A man would not be able to identify more than 20 of these items.

Women love cats.
Men say they love cats, but when women aren't looking, men kick cats.

A woman worries about the future until she gets a husband.
A man never worries about the future until he gets a wife.

A woman marries a man expecting he will change, but he doesn't.
A man marries a woman expecting that she won't change, but she does.

A woman will dress up to go shopping, water the plants, empty the bins, answer the phone, read a book, and get the post.
A man will dress up for weddings and funerals.

Men wake up as good-looking as they went to bed.
Women somehow deteriorate during the night.

Ah, children. A woman knows all about her children. She knows about their dentist appointments and romances, best friends, favourite foods, secret fears and hopes and dreams.
A man is vaguely aware of some short people living in the house.

Any married man should forget his mistakes. There's no use in two people remembering the same thing.

What a woman says:

“C'mon...This place is a mess. You and I need to clean. Your trousers are on the floor and you'll have no clothes if we don't do the laundry now.”

What a man hears:

“C'MON ... blah, blah, blah YOU AND I blah, blah, blah, blah, blah ON THE FLOOR blah, blah, blah, NO CLOTHES blah, blah, blah, blah, NOW.”

Hat tip to Vicki

Monday, 9 October 2006

Just not enough, I'm afraid

Hat-tip: Image from Hunts Post

I attended the march on Saturday morning to “Save Hinchingbrooke Hospital” along with my boys, Oliver and Jasper. Lara was working in the hospital that day.

I won’t beat around the bush. I won’t pretend that the earth moved for me. To be honest, I thought it was pretty weak and I was disappointed.

Huntingdonshire has an adult population of about 150k. All reports suggest that around 1000 attended. That is about ½ a percent. It is not exactly the sound of thunder, eh?

No doubt others will be more upbeat. The media, who played a large role in organising the event, will crop the pictures and the news reports to make the crowd look big; the Unions will say it was as good as could be expected and local politicians (all except this one that is) will say it was an effective demonstration of public opinion.

This local politician will say only this: If we are really want to save our hospital, we are going to have to do are darn site better than that. A turn out of ½ a percent is music to the Health Authority’s ears. If that is genuinely the level of concern in this area, then we will lose the hospital for sure. Even if they don’t level it in one go, they will bleed it of services over a few years until it becomes untenable.

Signing a petition is all very well, but we all know just how little effort that requires. What is needed are feet on the streets, a rally that fills Hinchingbrooke Park and some speakers that set the crowd alight.

This Government is spending at least double the amount of YOUR money and taxes on health services, and yet they threaten to close our hospital. Square that circle if you can? We have a right to these services and we must fight much harder to keep them.

If we do not fight to keep Hinchingbrooke, heart attack victims will die on the A14 and mothers who hemorrhage in labour will lose their babies on the way to Peterborough.

The simple fact of the matter is that the unnecessary loss of the hospital in Huntingdonshire will inevitably lead to the unnecessary loss of life in Huntingdonshire.

Friday, 6 October 2006

Insubordinate coward? - I doubt it

In Northern Ireland over the past three decades a vast number of unfeasably brave officers have defied the threats to their person to serve their community without fear or favour. However, it is also a fact, overlooked by David Davis in his Telegraph article today, that we have for years been excusing Catholic policemen from policing protestant areas, and always on grounds of personal safety.

If you want a multi cultural police force, you have to apply common sense to the way you deploy them. If Muslims applicants think that they and their families may be placed in personal danger, they will not join and the end result will be the very white uni-cultural police force that common decency would suggest is unhealthy in a multi cultural society.

David Davis also grossly misrepresents policing as equivalent to soldiering. The two are fundamentally different. Soldiering is, frankly, about 'identifying and neutralising an enemy', i.e. killing people. Policing is about maintaining peaceful, law abiding communities, from within those communities. Soldiering necessarily comes with a tolerated cost in human life. Policing does not and should not.

This man did not refuse to police, he simply raised an uncomfortable issue resulting from an unforseen consequence of his service and asked for some common sense. It is most unpleasant that we cast this man as an insubordinate coward. He represents great bravery simply by wearing the uniform in today's society.

This man will have served for a number of years prior to his appointment to this specialist division. I wonder what an examination of his record would reveal? After all here is a Muslim man who has policed communities in our country during some particularly turbulent years. Just stop for a moment and ask yourself what sort of person volunteers for today's police, let alone what sort of Muslim person.

The most important point is that he only appears to have requested the redeployment because the threat was to his wider family. As is revealed in a further Telegraph article today, PC Omar Bashar's employment is widely known within his community and by an extremist cleric living in the Lebanon, where his wife's family also live. He had already previously intervened to prevent Muslims from distributing offensive material outside a North London library.

No policeman should request redeployment through fear for his own safety, nor should they refuse to police on any grounds. But when it can be demonstrated that the lives of innocent relations are at risk, common sense applies. It was not his own safety he was trying to preserve but those of innocent bystanders.

Wednesday, 4 October 2006

I am right, I am bloody right!

On this blog just a day ago I wrote this:

"It is our society that needs fixing, not our economy. It is not 1979."

36hrs later, David Cameron said this:

"When our Party was last in power, our task was to restore economic responsibility....The task for us today is different...Our fundamental aim is to roll forward the frontiers of society."

I have always agreed with David Cameron, but I had no idea he agreed with me.

Frank advice!

Tuesday, 3 October 2006

I don't want tax cuts...

Until there are double the number of policemen on our streets to stamp out the complete breakdown of civil behaviour and violence in our communities and until we have built the prisons and Courts required to handle those who think they are above the law.

Until we have taken control of our borders so that we know exactly who and how many are coming into our country. I repeat, taken control of - I did not say closed.

Until our social security system actually works.

Until our servicemen and women have both the resources to fight the wars we send them to and the care they deserve if they come home injured.

Until our state schools actually teach our children to read, write and count and until discipline and standards are returned to our schools.

Until our health system is sorted out, either through effective management of the system we have or a subsidised transition to a system that actually works.

Until we have taken control of our law making and retrieved powers from Brussels.

Until we have invested in renewable energy and stopped the pollution that threatens the very earth that sustains us.

Until we have sorted out the mess into which our farming and fisheries have descended.

I am as Conservative as they come, but I do NOT want tax cuts.

It is our society that needs fixing, not our economy. It is not 1979.

Cameron has got it right.

Monday, 2 October 2006

Cameron's Clause 4

I hate trite comparisons, for example the habit of putting "gate" after the name of every scandal, but in this case there really is no other way.

Cameron has chosen tax as his defining battleground; his equivalent of Tony Blair's Clause 4. He positively wants a huge row over tax cuts. He wants Tebbitt and all the others to attack him. There is no better way to demonstrate the level and extent of change.

But why has he chosen tax? I'd say that was simple really. Tax cuts are definably "old Tory" so their rejection is emblematic of the change he represents. Furthermore, in this new world tax cutting promises don't work at election time. 2001 and 2005 being proof should you need it. The true legacy of Thatcher is an electorate of feel-goods. They have their relative wealth, now they want as much as they can get for "free". For the Tories to capture the masses as Thatcher did, they must now have relevant policies for the "cake and eat it" generation. They don't want tax cuts, they want free health and education. Most of all they want mortgage interest to remain stable and they want house prices to march upwards unwaveringly.

A public scrap over taxes with his own party is the most effective way to underline economic trustworthiness in the public's mind and that is the most essential thing. He has started early and he intends to keep the issue simmering for as long as he can. He will lose a section on the right of the party, but he could do so much more to hang on to them. Immigration and Europe are two areas where he could balance the equation. I hope he does.

I would love tax cuts, but I want a Conservative Government more. I think he is reading the public profile correctly. On this issue I think he has got it right and I continue to support him.

Friday, 29 September 2006

Hands off our Hospital

Hat-tip: Image from Hunts Post

Huntingdon's Hinchingbrooke Hospital is under threat. Sign our online petition here.

It has been said that the threat to Hinchingbrooke Hospital should not be allowed to become a 'political issue'. This County’s predominant Conservative and Liberal Democrat politicians will work unwaveringly together to defend our hospital but, whilst a laudable sentiment, this situation is profoundly political and for one very good reason. We have all paid ever increasing levels of tax and contributed to astonishing levels of health spending, so it is now our duty to demand and claim the service that we have paid for.

Please join the march on Saturday 7th October at 10.30 in Huntingdon and make your presence count.

Thursday, 28 September 2006

Round Wheels are best

The Government have decided to reinvent the wheel, only they've made in square and they are asking the Police to flog it to us.

Policing is and always has been a community activity. Policemen living among us, knowing who is who and what is what. Local, authoritative, visible police keeping on top of their communities. It worked for centuries.

Now our police announce a brand new initiative - Neighbourhood policing. Only instead of spending their money increasing police numbers and putting them back into our communities, this contrived version holds quarterly meetings with the public asking them where the problems are and what the priorities should be. At this meeting they even asked a working group to stay behind and help them work out how to deal with the priorities.

The lack of leadership and authority is depressing. I for one want a police force that knows the people, knows the ground, knows the issues and knows what to do about them.

These two cuttings from this weeks local paper pretty much say the rest. My comments, terse as they are, are on the second image.

Favourite Frasier lines 1#

Daphne - "Well it is not like men have never used sex to get what they want."

Frasier - "How can men possibly USE sex to get what they want. Sex IS what they want!!!"

Tuesday, 26 September 2006

More Relish

Note to David Cameron:

In the year that you have been Leader, I have supported you unwaveringly. I have fought your corner countless times Conservative Home's "complaints section" and I have even tolerated your charitable employment of Mad Maude.

You have spent an outstanding year transforming the perception of our party. Many people of a neutral or even centre-left persuasion are listening to you and us now, and with every word that Heffer and Tebbit utter, more people are convinced of that change. You have aplogised for the most obvious and serious of your predecessors mistakes, you have dragged the Party into the 21st century and you have made surprising new friends.

However, this time next week that phase of your strategy must come to an end. This time next week you must lead out into a year or more of unbridled and unrelenting opposition. You must expose the shallow grave of New Labour's legacy and condemn any thoughts of Labour's second chance. People are now ready to hear and understand William's prophetic 2001 election slogan "You paid the taxes, so where's the service."

You must expose the degradation of our society, the chaos of our public services and the collapse of our vandalised constitution. You must lead a united and committed shadow team and you must dispense with any who have become conceited or perhaps simply too comfortable in their tea-room chair. [Word to the wise: Osbourne isn't cutting it.]

Tactically, it may be too soon to announce your policies, but with a Government in freefall, a Prime Minister on a farewell tour and a Leadership contest underway, you have the advantage of some shooting practice in advance of the main event. It is time to get your eye in with some live bait and if you don't take this opportunity I will lead the search for someone who will.

Monday, 25 September 2006

A happy Jock is a whingeing Jock

Point by point, phrase by phrase, I could pull Mr Brown and his awesome speech apart. But I have better things to do.

Brown's speech was remarkable for many reasons. Foremost among them was his devastating analysis of his own failure. Every one of his manifesto policies (for that is exactly what they were) do nothing but rectify his own mistakes. Hardly surprising I suppose. The defining feature of this Government has always been its tactic of causing a mess and then demanding pocket money for cleaning it up.

No matter how hard he tries to pretend that he has had nothing to do with the last ten years, he remains its most prominent author. You would have thought that he'd have realised that with everyone of the heartfelt mentions of today's social ills, he ploughed another bullet into his foot.

To everyone who was listening, he revealed the true Brown - the one who vastly prefers the pleasure of complaining, the endless battle of opposition and the pulpit frisson of "fighting the good fight" to the harsh realities of government and actually solving the problems. It was a "one hand, one bounce" speech. It was the premeditated squawk of a small child pleading not to be given out first ball.

It was a speech worthy of the Labour Party Conference in 1996. Trouble is that after ten years in office, a decade to make a difference, this hour long speech was devoted to mourning his own failure.

The other aspect missed by all others was Mr Brown's very obvious firing of the starting gun in the impending leadership race. Everyone hails a speech by a future Prime Minister, even though apparently no such vacancy exists. The speech was treacherous and should have sparked all manner of in fighting. It would be serious if it weren't for the fact that Mr Brown simultaneously fired the gun and staged a false start. If you were one of Gordon's adversary's tonight, you'd be pretty naffed off.

By all accounts, the next General Election is going to be a bit heavy on the relish!

Mr Broon

There is no more frightening sight in British politics than a smiling Mr Brown on a charm offensive.
The real fight for the British political soul starts today; and it is a fight that we cannot afford to lose.

Sunday, 24 September 2006

Beat the BBC

I thought I would complete my thoughts on Top Gear with a simple message of defiance.
This article by Jeremy Clarkson is frankly frightening in the way it reveals the deep seated hatred within the BBC.

If the BBC were to win this battle and force Top Gear off air, I will refuse to pay my TV Tax, sorry Licence Fee.

Wonderful Darren Clarke

Only miserable news reporting by ITN has marred what has been a fantastic 3 days of golf.

(The European Team dressed to collect their trophy in the resplendent pink of a Breast Cancer charity and thus in honour of Heather Clarke, recently deceased wife of the victorious Darren Clarke, and the ITN reporter describes it as a "dubious choice of colour for their jackets...".)

In what is the epitomy of individual sports, the Ryder Cup offers the most amazing spectacle. Suddenly, what appear to be deeply selfish and driven sportsmen are thrown together to win or lose as a team, and to be honest, only the Europeans looked as though they meant it.

So many names to congratulate. Lee Westwood, Sergio Garcia, Paul Casey, Colin Montgomerie all played fabulously well. The Irish contingent had a good week on home turf. Harrington average, McGinley terrific. But Darren Clarke was quite simply sublime.

This is his Ryder Cup, and it is a tale of tragedy and amazing strength of character. Having lost his wife to cancer just a month ago, he displayed huge talent to remain undefeated in all his matches. He was carried by the enormous support of the partisan Irish crowd but he delivered through skill rather than sympathy.

I watched the end in tears of admiration for his courage and determination. It was very moving to see someone receive such genuine displays of love and appreciation from teammates and adversaries alike. I am certain, however, that whatever the wonders of winning the Cup, he would give it all up to have his wife back.

Thursday, 21 September 2006

Top Programme

I am happy to put on record that I adore Top Gear. No matter how much people try to besmirch its outstanding performance under Clarkson's guidance, it remains one of the few shows that I will run dash home to watch.

It is a wonder that the BBC host it. They clearly wish they didn't but their money-men win the day. It is so successful that the BBC has no choice but to hold its nose and press play. This article on the BBC website sums up why I like it.

What Clarkson, Hammond and May appreciate is that we all sit in our cars driving around at 15mph fantasising about what would happen if...They know that we see cars on the road that inspire ridicule and derision. They know that we compare and contrast and they know that we judge.

So they do it for us in glorious technicolour. They tell us when cars are average, what it feels like to drive with the needle off the scale, and just how far you can actually push a vehicle on four wheels. They tell it how it is, they live our fantasies, they have the fun we dream about when we are stuck in another traffic jam on the M25.

I loved their attempt to destroy a Toyota pick-up, their contests between cars and Apaches/Tanks/Infantry/bobsleigh's/skateboarders/pony tailed climber dudes. I cheer everytime a caravan dies. Most of all I enjoyed the moment when Stephen Ladyman MP, Minister for Transport, left Clarkson with nowhere to go -

Clarkson - "These speed cameras are just a cynical method of raising revenue aren't they?"
Ladyman - "Listen, Jeremy, we paint them yellow, we put up huge signs to warn you where they are, we even publish maps with them marked up. If you are still getting caught by speed cameras, there really is only one person to blame."
Clarkson - "Yeh, you've got a point. Moving was your lap in our reasonably priced car?"

While their are boys with cars and TV's, there will always be a need for Top Gear (whatever the Health and Safety Executive may say).

UPDATE: I am thrilled that the above mentioned Minister has come out in public support of the programme. Well, done you Stephen. (Not so sure about your "car booster seat" legislation though!!)

Living life on the edge

Best wishes to Richard Hammond for a successful and speedy recovery.
If he puts into surviving even half the energy he puts into living, he'll be back up and running in a couple of weeks. There can be few people who love life so evidently as he.

Wednesday, 20 September 2006

Save Hinchingbrooke Hospital

I am 35 and as yet I have never been on a protest march. I very nearly went on the Countryside March in London but something happened. I have marshalled a few in Northern Ireland, however!

Anyway, on 7 October I shall lose my protest march virginity and I shall march in Huntingdon to save our hospital from closure.

I do so with one clear aim in mind - to help focus people's minds on the fact that this present New Labour Government have squandered, lost and criminally mis-spent inconceivable quantities of taxpayers money.

Health spending over the last decade has doubled at least and lest we forget, is as high as it has ever been. SO WHY THE F**K IS OUR HOSPITAL UNDER THREAT? HOW CAN YOU POSSIBLY SPEND ALL THAT MONEY AND STILL HAVE TO CUT SERVICES AND CLOSE HOSPITALS?

The most amazing irony is that Hinchingbrooke Hospital was built by the Tories under Margaret Thatcher and is now threatened with closure under Blair and Brown's Labour! What sort of a world do we live in when a socialist party can't even get state services right.

The Save Hinchingbrooke Hospital March is on 7th October 2006 at 11:30. The assembly point will be Riverside Park; we walk up Riverside Road then along the High Street, George Street, Brampton Road to the Hospital where the route ends with speakers to address the rally.

I'll have my say in public too if I get half a chance.

Be there too, please.

P.S. Sorry, I should off course register my interest. My wife Lara works there as a midwife.

The Morning Rant

A new daily viewspaper on the blogosphere....

Corruption in football is of not of the slightest importance to Government and the Minister should not waste another ounce of breathe or time concerning himself with it. The people for whom this is a matter of concern are the football fans who ultimately fund it all. So the real answer to stopping this, is for the fans to stop paying ludicrous prices to see and wear football. Make these overpaid tossers play in silence to empty grandstands for the month of November and they will soon get the message.

Can someone please tell me what exactly is wrong with having to sell your home when you move into care and why it should be a matter of concern that the proceeds would pay for that care? It occurs to me that this situation exists because increasingly children do not look after their parents. So someone has to and that someone must be paid. What you do not do for yourself, you must pay for - that is called choice, and no, it is not the responsibility of the state to spoon feed everyone. So either let your parents pay for their own care to whatever standard they choose through whatever means they have and accept the fact that your inheritance is spent - or do it yourself and keep the cash. Simple really.

I am frankly disappointed by the Tories new logo. I loved the tree idea, especially a detailed tree that looked like an Oak. It carries such immediate ideas of stability, protection, environmental stewardship, growth. I also loved that it had been selected and designed by the blogosphere community, the freshest and most vibrant political body in existence in this country today. Sadly, however, instead of just going with the idea and thus cementing their relationship with these people, Cameron and 'Mad' Maude had to give it to a pricey consultant who completely lost the plot. At the very moment when everything about you must scream detail, clarity and distinctiveness, we Tories create a shoddy scribble that seems to say "oh that'll do!". Well it won't. Your policies need detail and so does your logo. Please sack 'mad' Maude. He is like an embarrassing Dad trying to dance at your school disco. He is trying too hard to be cool, and getting it all hopelessly wrong.

Saturday, 16 September 2006

Reaping what you sow

Some small part of me (well, maybe not so small) genuinely hopes that Mrs Bliar is spitting mad at being investigated by the police for "motioning to slap" a 17 yr old lad who made bunny ears behind her.

That a couple of Scottish officials from the Child Protection in Sport Unit (or 'political correctness police' as such people are more commonly known) reported her to the real police is true justice.

I hope she is storming round Chequers, seething with anger. What could Tony possibly say to calm her down??!!

All good things....

...come to those who wait.

I am well aware that family, work, politics and cricket have been getting in the way of quality blogging these past few months but thankfully the immense Iain Dale has still found room for me at Number 29 in his Top 100 Tory Blogs.

The weight of expectation bears down upon my shoulders but I promise to deprive my family of more of my time so that you can enjoy more of my poorly spelt ramblings.

Actually, it won't have to quite so harsh. My wife, the newly appointed Mrs Lara Bailey BA (Hons) Midwifery RM, finally starts work at the ill-fated Hinchingbrooke Hospital (another story) next week, so I will be able to blog without guilt when she is pulling babies out on a late shift!! When she is on a night shift, I won't even have to go to bed. I can just blog until I fall asleep in my chair!!!

Monday, 11 September 2006

The Chancellor's Lament

Labour have proved themselves incapable of organising pretty much everything and cost us all a pretty penny in the process. Now, to really underline their ineptitude, they are making a dog's breakfast of a fairly simple operation to depose a weak and discredited has-been.

It beggars's belief that anyone should want Brown as their Prime Minister after last week's performance. Such spinelessness and cowardice and indecision. Such a complete lack of authority and belief. The Prime Minister can even leave the country for a week and still he dithers.

Brown's chances of the premiership fade with everyday that passes and you sense that he knows it. He has almost always been destined to return to Scotland empty handed. Poems and long droning bagpipe piobroch's (laments) will be written in his honour and his legend will be passed down throught the generations in the magnificent Kingdom of Fife.

Brown's most natural and effective role - that of morose, penny pinching, monastic chancellor - has been displayed so long and with such personal conviction, that no amount of smiling and cheerleading can now turn him into the People's Champion. He will undoubtedly thrash and writhe a little more but he has entered the politically treacherous waters of the Corryvreckan, and with every choreographed smile and hateful, half-hearted coup attempt, he whirls closer to his own agonising demise.

Worry not, you Scots, however. Every cloud has a silver lining. He shall have his booby prize. Holyrood becons and with it the warped joy of bearing a grudge to his dying day and making life hell for Prime Ministers to come.

Wednesday, 30 August 2006

Sometimes, just sometimes...

... I want to say what I think without having to justify it with endless, worthy argument. It's dangerous to do that, of course, in this day and age. We are all supposed to be reasoned and reasonable. Everyone has rights and they are to be respected whether or not they impinge on the rights of others.
Well, for the avoidance of doubt, I have reasoned arguments behind everyone of the following topical statements, available on request:

If your life choice is to weigh more than is medically recommended, you do not have the right to expect IVF treatment at tax payers expense which is proven to be markedly less effective. Lose some weight.

If your sexual imperative is to form a relationship with one of your own, thus biologically ruling out procreation, you cannot then claim that your lifelong desire is to have children and that the tax payer should inseminate you. Make your mind up. You are either gay or you want children.

If you commit murder, you cannot then claim insanity. That you may be insane can and may be medically diagnosed, but if the fact that your deliberate actions killed someone is proven in a court of law, justice must be served undiluted. Your condition, once identified, must be treated with kindness and sympathy. The latter, however, does not mitigate the former. Which ever way you look at it, the life of an innocent person has been snuffed out, so you are either a murderer or you are mentally unstable with a proven capacity for killing. Remorseful or not, the public require to be protected from you and most probably you need to be protected from yourself.

(Source: Admission Impossible, Channel 4, 9pm, Wed 30 Aug) If you place your child in the most exhausting and emotionally draining private school selection process, and that child then achieves a place at the school of her (and your) dreams through hard work and dedication, and achieving you a massive 40% means tested fees bursary to boot, do not then tell her you can't afford it. Figure it out first.

Everyone of us is born different (thank god) which therefore means that we all have different skills, talents and aptitudes which in turn result in differing levels of personal achievement. By any measure, these differences rule out any prospect of equality. True and pure equality cannot and does not exist. Get over it and stop trying to pretend it does. And stop trying to enforce your 'rights' as some sort of compensation for your shortcomings.

That's me done for now. As I say, reasoned argument is available on request for any of the above issues. (Only requests from Tommy G will be ignored!!)

Tuesday, 29 August 2006

Could have told us, Wolfgang

I mentioned last night that Lara and I had a positively average trip to Vienna in Austria (with the exception of the 2hr long Robbie Williams concert). I have been wanting to write some thoughts down since we returned but have been a bit busy.

Anyway, if you are Austrian, or even German for that matter, you might want to scroll on down and save yourself some heartache. I am not entirely sure I can do this without being intemperate - what with our weekend being ruined and all that.

Lara and I are respectful travellers. We eat the food, we try to speak the language, we do some homework and we enjoy new customs. In return, we hope only that our hosts will acknowledge in some small way that we are trying, that we are different to the many inconsiderate tourists and that they might offer us the hand of friendship and help.

Our main gripe therefore is that pretty much everyone we came across was so damnably rude, and unhelpful. Throughout our three day stay, we came across only ONE polite and pleasant Austrian - a waiter at Cafe Mozart (quaint, I know!!). Our hotel room was dire. A Travelodge room is cleaner and more presentable. The reaction of our Receptionist was complete indifference. She eventually showed us some other rooms and with no other options, we took one. Shop keepers, ticket inspectors, waiters and even the tourist attraction attendants - unpleasant, impatient and rude.

The icing on the cake came as we tried to balance our cultural diet and attend a recital of Mozart's best bits. The tickets were sold to us on the clear understanding that a glass of champagne in the interval was included (you can see where this is going, eh!). So we stepped out into the bar at the interval, having enjoyed the music of the first half very much, only to be confronted by glasses of champagne on sale for 4 euros.

Well, on top of the rudeness of its residents, Vienna is horrifically expensive. No matter how hard we tried, and I promise we did, money just seeped out our wallet. Even washing your hands in a public loo cost 50 cents.

So, having endured two days of handing over vast quantities of money for overpriced services to unpleasant people, I kind of blew my top at the servile little creep who demanded more money for something I had already paid. Sadly that old Anglo-German battle of wills came to the fore, and they stood their ground. I demanded the manager (like a good little Englishman!) and roundly berated her for the entire interval.

I had ruined the evening and Lara was not pleased. The second half was less enjoyable and for my part, I spent it trying to figure out how to get revenge on the way out! In the event, I did nothing save telling her what I thought of her. I think I called her a "vile Austrian cheat", or something like that.

I'm not proud of myself and I regret it hugely. It soured our trip and didn't exactly enamour me to my wife, which of course got me even more irate. I had just had enough.

Another gripe concerns their complete disinterest in tourism and tourists. Their main antiquities are unkempt by any standards. There is little effort to create atmosphere or drama. The lawns of the Hapsburg Palace are just rough areas of grass. It is all just pretty crap really.

Worst of all, this is a major year for Vienna. It is the 250 anniversary of Mozart's birth. Thousands more people than normal are in town to celebrate that fact, and indeed it was a factor in my choosing Vienna in the first place. Vienna is on show more than ever but nothing is evident that shows Vienna cares. The airport is a building site, St Stephen's Cathedral is encased in scaffolding, the Belvedere was a mess and undergoing works, and absolutely nowhere will you see any acknowledgement that Mozart even existed, let alone that he makes the single biggest contribution to Vienna's notoriety and global reputation. Everything about the place, just shouted, "We don't care!"

All of which brings me to the final analysis. Why are the Austrians so bloody miserable and rude?

I sense a real issue over their German neighbours. One gets the feeling they think they are the posh bit of Germany. It either has to be an inferioirity complex or a superiority complex. What ever it is, it cannot be much fun being Austrian but speaking German. A nation should have its own language, no?

Also, as someone who has travelled in Eastern Europe relatively extensively, I found it notable that I required constantly to remind myself that I was in Vienna, and not much further East. Perhaps, that is the point, though. Maybe their heart is further East.

Austria's contribution to history makes fascinating reading, and now having met a few of them, I can see why. For the avoidance of doubt, they are less the benign, Alpine, strudel eating, opera lovers we think they are. They are a grumpy bunch with a bad attitude.

So save your time and money. St Petersburg, Prague, Berlin and Budapest are all more attractive, more friendly and less expensive and listening to Mozart in Vienna is just the same as listening to him at home.

Footnote: We arrived at Vienna airport as early as we dared on the way out. We checked in over 2 hours before the flight - only to discover that more than 100 people had beaten us to the door!! Ant and Dec were on our flight too!

Monday, 28 August 2006


As a special treat, I took my wife Lara to see Robbie Williams live in concert. Wishing to make a weekend of it, I was keen to go somewhere slightly more exotic than Milton Keynes.

Our first choice was Berlin, the city in which we met and fell in love, but the dates clashed with Lara's exams, so we settled on Vienna.

Our weekend was dominated by a fairly average experience of a City that really doesn't seem to give a shit, but Robbie was as good as you would expect.

I have to take a deep breathe before admitting to liking Robbie, but like him I / we do. He plays great pop music, he is an outstanding show man and entertainer and, now that he is more settled and mature, he is extending himself to a broader range of exciting musical genre. If Freddie Mercury can sing Radio Gaga and Barcelona in the same gig then Robbie can sing Angels and a Frank Sinatra classic.

He was a real star and it was a great concert - next time we might just go to Milton Keynes though!

Full Term

St Neots Town Crier 25 August 2006.

Four years hard work finally came to its finale this summer, culminating in a 2:1 Degree pass for my wonderful (mid)wife and a job offer at the local hospital in Huntingdon.

I have the utmost respect for anyone who goes back to academic study after 12 years. But for Lara it was a very natural and highly motivated move. She had harboured an instinct for nursing for a great many years (and you can keep your "she'd need to marrying you, Bailey" comments to yourself!), but having our own children established the real direction she wanted to go.

Naturally gifted though she clearly is, it is an exceptional achievement. She has worked very hard over the past four years, balancing study with work on the ward and her family. The medical and academic study appeared to come easily (although she insists it did not) but the apprenticeship on the labour ward was obviously the most satisfying and rewarding.

Securing (we hope) a job at Hinchingbrook Hospital is no mean feat, especially as the Hospital goes through serious financial restructuring and losses in staff, but that is another story and another post on the diabolical state of our health service today.

30 years or so of varying shifts and on-call duties stretch ahead but we boys (Ollie, Jasper and I) are old enough now to look after ourselves. We love you very much, Lara, and we are immensely proud of you and what you have achieved.

Lara deserves her success and her job and the women of Huntingdonshire deserve Lara.

Proper grown-up music

I listened to a Top 100 Albums poll this afternoon, as voted for by the self selecting audience of Radio 2. Not all Albums qualified. Albums had to have been Number one in the Album chart at some point in history. So, no Dark Side of the Moon, no Bat out of Hell, no Eagles, no Beach Boys.
Anyway, notwithstanding the vaguaries of these sorts of polls, I found it interesting that of this Top 100, 47 were shared amongst only 9 acts:

The Beatles 12 Albums (incl. one solo album each for Paul, John and George)
U2 6 Albums
Madonna 6 Albums
Robbie Williams 5 Albums
Led Zeppelin 4 Albums
Queen 4 Albums
David Bowie 4 Albums
Coldplay 3 Albums
Michael Jackson 3 Albums

Add another 8 acts, including Pink Floyd, REM, Dire Straits, Oasis, Paul Simon and the Rolling Stones, with two albums each in the chart, and you account for 63 out of 100 albums with just 17 acts.

The only reason I mention any of this is because, for the first time, I feel in the mainstream. My music collection is dominated by pretty much everyone of these groups. These are my favourite artists (apart from Michael Jackson). Just a bit of fun.

Friday, 25 August 2006

Football above the law?

However, the [Manchester] City manager, Stuart Pearce, does not believe Greater Manchester Police should become involved (re. the assault / tackle by Ben Thatcher on Portsmouth's Paulo Mendes).

"Anything that happens on a football pitch should be governed by the FA and Fifa," Pearce said.

"Once you start involving the police, the floodgates can open and you could end up with a situation where players are arrested during a game."

Couldn't agree more, Stuart. Fancy that. Footballers being required to play 90mins of football without breaking the law of the land. Since when did the referees whistle or the white lines on a football pitch secure immunity from the law.

Any pitchside policeman who witnessed that assault on Wednesday night, should have walked onto the pitch and arrested Mr Thatcher there and then.

Thursday, 24 August 2006

Good and bad in everything!

Click here to see a 4min 52sec challenge to my assertion (below) that football has never been the beautiful game!

His name is Ryan Giggs and over the past 15 years, his choice to play for Wales has cost England at least one major global trophy. He is the devastating player/winger of his generation and in my humble opinion one of the most agile and elegant players ever.

(I have found You Tube!!)

Criminal Assault

I don't know how to post the actual You Tube video on screen as others do, but click here to see Manchester City's defender Ben Thatcher playing the "beautiful game".

Replace the green field with a city centre street and the referee with a policeman and Mr Thatcher would have been in front of a Magistrate by now and would be back in custody facing a Crown Court appearance and a jail sentence.

That the FA sits on its hands and claims that the referee's decision is final just compounds an already contemptable situation.

Football is not, has never been and, until such time as proper control is taken of the thugs/players, it will never be the "Beautiful Game".

The flow of the game must now necessarily be compromised to allow another referee behind a video screen to support the one on the pitch. The alternative, and the one I would prefer, is to allow the police to walk onto a pitch at any stage of teh game and arrest any player they witness assaulting another.

If soldiers can be arrested, prosecuted and jailed for crossing the line on the battlefield, I am damn sure footballers can be prosecuted for assault on a football pitch.

Tuesday, 25 July 2006


People who offer comments anonymously and who simply hurl abuse without the courtesy of arguing their case, will not, from this moment forward, see their comments posted.

Just for the purposes of clarity, this, offered just a short time ago, is the sort of thing I mean:

"You really are a ***** **** aren't you Richard. Oh, and why do you use a picture of Steve Davies?" Anonymous.

Brave and clever little boy, aren't you, Anonamong. You are actually the first to offer me such mindless abuse, and, whilst I doubt you will be the last, yours will be the only one to be held up to ridicule.

Who is 'Steve Davies' by the way? I mean, you say it as if we should all know this person. Have you mispelt the word? Do you mean the world famous snooker player, perhaps?
Now fuck off back to whichever little stone you crawled out from under, you servile little creep. If I want your opinion in future, I'll give it to you.

Thursday, 20 July 2006

Ever the sound-bite politician

Gordon Brown - "I love being a father; it's such fun.... and I am sure the two boys will get on very well."

Bet they bloody don't, Gordon!

It's the birth of your child, and you sound as though you are announcing a new schools policy or something. You think it is your destiny to be Prime Minister. Me too - the shortest serving PM in British political history.

Oh, and by the way, your chinos were at least two inches too short.

Wednesday, 12 July 2006

Lord Levy reveals NuLabour's true legacy

Lord Levy, the personal friend, fund raiser and envoy of the Prime Minister, has been arrested today and questioned as part of Scotland Yard's investigation into "Loans for Peerages".

For the avoidance of doubt "loans for peerages" essentially means that rich people could physically buy their way into a position from which to rule the country if they made a donation to the Labour Party.

This is far more serious than simple Party fund raising. I couldn't care less who or how people are convinced to give money to political parties. A seat at the table of power, however, must be earned not bought. People must see and hear what you stand for and must be as easily able to sack you from office as they were to elect you.

Let us also be clear that Lord Levy is joined at the hip with the Prime Minister in this situation. The PM takes full responsibility for anything that Lord Levy did. More significantly, it is unlikely that Lord Levy did anything without Blair's personal sanction.

In 1995, the calamitous "Cash for questions" affair blew up around a failing Tory government. An unfathomably stupid man by the name of Hamilton was alleged to have taken money in return for asking questions in the House of Commons. The media went beserk and, rightly, the death knell rang out for the Government and the reputation for sleaze was embedded for ever.

Cash for questions pales into insignificance when compared to loans for peerages. Firstly, it involved only a lowly minister. It reached no higher than that. And secondly, the questions did little more than reveal dull and specific information. They certainly carried no lasting or significant impact.

Now, however, we have a political fraud that reaches right to the pinnacle of our political system and is serious enough to merit police investigation and arrest; we have a political fraud that was sanctioned from the very top and was designed to leave a lasting and embedded impact on the future political landscape.

Our Prime Minister actually expects to be interviewed without coffee by the police. We have truly descended into the mire of corruption and deceit that we have long associated with basket case democracies. It is a day to be sad, angry and humiliated.

So what then is this legacy? Well for certain it is revealed in the timid and cowering approach being taken by the media. The most devastating story in British politics lies unprobed and untold whilst a full scale police investigation unfolds. All level of political reporter pleads ignorance and a lack of information. None surge forward to demand answers. Chief pundits play it down and pretend it is nothing.

Ten years of media bullying. That is the legacy to which I refer. A decade of bullying which leaves us with an impotent and shallow media. What hold does Blair have on these people? The 4th estate have sold out. But they should know that when the walls come down, anyone too close gets crushed.

Nulabour has been a lie and a sham from day one. It has been corrupt and sleazy from conception to old age.

It is ironic that this Government effectively legislated to put to sleep hundreds of loyal, hard working hunting hounds. Can there be any more appropriate an analogy?

Monday, 10 July 2006

Don't knock the police - it really is not their fault

I have been to our meeting, and quite interesting it was too. (You may have read the post below first! Sorry they are both long. Please stick with it. It makes sense in the end!))

What came out? Well the poor police sergeant took a bit of heat. He was regaled (well, harangued really) with story after story of incidents of a) inability to report crime to a human being (always the centralised voice mail) b) the lack of response when crime was successfully reported and c) the complete failure to do anything meaningful or effective to those known to be the culprits.

The Sergeant asked for us to help to provide evidence, to stand up and be counted, but then confirmed that photographing or videoing anti social behaviour or crime was of no help. He asks the village to provide a statement and "expose" themselves (metaphorically) to the culprits but then admits that nothing ever happens. The evidence won't stand up, the CPS won't touch it, and the ASBO kids remain free to wreek their revenge in the full knowledge that the cycle will repeat itself, whatever they do.

Buckden is full of people who would dearly love to provide evidence and deal with these people effectively. They know exactly who the ten or so young people are in the village who most need to be dealt with severely and effectively. They know exactly where and when things happen and in a great many cases they know exactly who is doing it.

But when they try to inform the police in real time via the "centralised answering service" (for which they must have the obligatory "targets for customer service") nobody answers; if they do get through nobody comes; and if they do come they prove to be impotent without the "right sort of evidence" to bring a prosecution. In such circumstances, it is easy to see why people give up.

Ultimately, the system, over which our lowly Sergeant has absolutely no control, does not want to pursue this sort of ASB or low level crime and harrassment. Under the current rules of evidence, it is simply too hard to achieve a conviction, so the resources afforded to trying are frankly wasted. They are forced to police by "targets" and "customer satisfaction levels". But we are not customers. We are citizens, just like them.

Unable to prosecute and punish, they try instead to tackle matters by deterrence and engagement. It is pretty much all that is left to them, but the vandalism, harrassment and verbal abuse is left unchecked. These people are mobile enough to avoid deterrence and are the last people to engage. As I eventually said, engagement is my problem, as Councillor. We can engage all we like, however, but only if he delivers the firmer policing that must accompany it.

What is missing is that level of policing that used to exist just underneath the legal radar. Real policing that used to know communities inside out and knew exactly who to go to when something happened. Moreover it was robust policing that knew exactly how far to go to make sure that their discipline was effective in keeping a tight lid on ASB. It made the odd mistake but on the whole it steered generations of kids through the joys of adolescence with a firm hand, with the support of the community (including their parents) but without criminalising them.

This policing existed right up until the mid Nineties, when a certain person deliberately commissioned a report to undermine the a national institution that would best reflect the dawn of a new style of government.

Macpherson delivered and the police were destroyed in a single day. Every community has paid the price ever since.

I was wrong, in my post below, to look look for a problem spanning twenty years and I was wrong to search among the youth and their parents. The problem lies in the government and their attitude, the Human Rights Act that protects the perpetrators of crime at the expense of the general public and a police force who are made to serve us with both arms and legs tied behind their backs.

Hug a hoodie??

David Cameron has had his say on the issue of youthful behaviour and I have mine in a couple of hours - at a village meeting, organised to debate the all too continuous levels of anti social behaviour in the village. This is the jist of what I intend to say....

In the last 15 to 20 years things have gone terribly wrong. 20 years ago I was 15 and, along with other 15 year olds, we knew pretty much where we stood in the community. As I approach the moment when my own children need three hands to count their age, I discover that teenagers still know where they stand, but it is absolutely not the same place.

Why is it then that a generation of kids born in the mid to late Eighties, of parents themselves born in the early sixties, have turned the entire adult - child relationship on its head? Unless I am very much mistaken, adults now fear teenagers in the way teenagers used to fear adults.

Why is it that villages and communities like my own, allow their lives and desires to be dictated by the threat from teenagers. We can't put up cricket nets or renovate the 5 a side court because "the youth will trash it". We can't do anything in the village because the kids will wreck it, threaten us and ruin the village. Trouble is, we are having this meeting because the youth are wrecking things, threatening us and ruining the village anyway.

So the kids trash the village for want of something more constructive to do, but we can't give them anything more constructive in case they wreck it. How does a cycle of negativity like that start, but much more importantly, how does it end?

The clamour is for more and better policing. I agree wholeheartedly. I wish that policing had a more robust character. But police are just citizens empowered by citizens to uphold the law. They reflect society because they are society. So if we adults all sit in our homes refusing to confront the youth who threaten us or avoiding people and places for fear that they might pick on us, we can't expect the police to be much different. Community policing draws its confidence and character from the community it serves. Apathy and ambivalence will be met with apathy and ambivalence. If we look round for someone else to solve our problems, then so will they.

Anyway, let us for a moment imagine that we got our dream. A village Bobby dedicated night and day to the safety and good order of Buckden. Within weeks, we would have a person employed, to all intent and purpose, to chase the same group of youth round the village in a game of cat and mouse.

In that same time, you can guarantee that the first thing he or she will do is stand in front of the Parish and Village Hall committees and beg for us to do more for the kids. He will tell us that with more facilities and amenities and without more involvement from parents and elders alike, he stands no chance of guiding the teenagers into more constructive activity and preventing the younger ones from following the current example of their older brothers.

So the point is that which ever way up you turn this problem, the answer is for us, the grown ups, to be the adults in this situation. We have to be the ones to break the cycle, we have to be the ones who give first, we have to endure the initial contempt and failure but we have to persevere and prevent the next generation from following suit.

We have to dominate our village, support our police, provide the evidence and stand up and be counted. For whilst the youth think that we are not interested and not going to confront behaviour which they know to be unacceptable, they will not change and we continue to suffer.

I ask you all - we must do more to provide more for the youth. We must lead the way and set the example, so that those who sit on the side lines abbrogating their responsibilities feel unwelcome and out of place.

There are a great many kids who stay at home for fear that they will be tarred with the same brush. We need to get them out and into the village so that we all dominate the village and repel those who have nor respect, no care and no thought for others.

I have said before and I say again, we must do three things - encourage firmer policing, provide better amenities and educate the youngster in our primary school - and we must do them together.

Friday, 30 June 2006

Mad Maude really tries my patience

It really is a bit much to go on TV, claim that the Liberals have fought a nasty personal campaign (which they did) that underlines why people are switched off politics, and then make a preposterously stupid statement that switches people off politics.
Apparently, when you lose 12,000 votes in a seat as safe as houses, it means that the voters were telling you to change more.

The Tories have lost 12,000 votes in Bromley in exactly the time that David Cameron and his change crusade has been in operation. Please don't insult our intelligence. The people of Bromley were clearly screaming for the change to stop rather than surge ahead. To claim as much makes you look dim and deceitful. I believe we must change but we must do so openly and honestly.

Look at the results and the real story is spelled out. A mere 2,500 of our loss voted elsewhere, but 9,500 people STAYED AT HOME.

The Lib Dem vote rose by only 1,600 votes. Pathetic. And yet, Maude's pathetic, unintelligent line is allowing Simon Hughes and his revolting party to get away with spinning bullshit all over the media. The was no Lib Dem surge, there was no Tory desertion to the Lib Dems.

Eric Forth was a huge right wing national and local political figure. Bob Neill is clearly an uninspiring replacement and a political badge collector. Bromley themselves failed to pick the right candidate for the job - and the job was to replace Eric.

Conservatives in Bromley are a typical Thatcherite fortress into which David Cameron's new style has not yet broken. They have simply told Cameron that they are not yet convinced. They are precisely the sort of Conservative voter who will only march behind Cameron when the polls consistently show that he is going to deliver power.

I had precisely this sort of rebellion in my local election back in May. At least 50 hard line Tories in the village did not vote. They believe they can stop the change and return us to purist but unpopular politics. They would rather lose than change.

Cameron does have to keep the change moving and prove that we can win without these recalcitrant voters. They need time. They will rejoin the party soon enough.

So from here on Maude, try this:

"The Lib Dems gained nothing. They are the nastiest party in this country by a mile.
"Voters in Bromley have enjoyed the representation of Eric Forth, one of our most energetic and vociferous Parliamentarians, for many years.
"Nearly 10,000 Conservative voters stayed at home yesterday. The clear message to us is that core Thatcherite heartlands are not yet convinced that the changes Cameron is introducing will deliver victory.
"We have seen this sort of behaviour before in the local elections, but we will continue to change because nationally the polls are showing that we are making huge progress.
"Our most loyal supporters are our most ardent critics, but we will win their support as we are winning the support of many, many others."

The Lib Dems get me pretty annoyed but it is our incompetent handling of them that really pisses me off.

Thursday, 29 June 2006

Politics - Lesson One

There are two types of politician and politics and over the past 25 years we have had them demonstrated as beautifully as could be imagined.

The first type is the one which says "This is who and what I am. This is what I stand for and what I will do. Vote for me and I will do it." Margaret Thatcher, most especially in her second and third terms, was the finest exponent of this form of politics and with devastating effect.

The second type is the one that says "I will be who and whatever you want me to be. I stand for what you tell me to stand for. Vote for me and I will do what you want me to do." Tony Blair and New Labour are the epitomy of this form of politics, and I would suggest with equally devatating effect.

The first form is based on confidence, leadership, clear thinking, vision and determination. It derives its mandate from the election result and delivers knowing that some elements of the process will be unpopular but necessary and will leave a lasting acid taste for some people.

The second form is based on popularity and the simple attainment of power for its own sake. Indeed, that's it! It has no leadership, vision or clear thinking. It can't. It is taking its orders on a daily basis and making policy on the basis of monthly ratings. It is being driven by events rather than driving them. It can be, and regularly is, pushed about in pursuit of popularity.

In both forms, things (and people) get broken in the drive to change and make things better, but in the first form they get fixed and improvement is tangible. In the second, the mess is left lying on the floor, like broken toys on Christmas Day.

The first form is almost invariably right of centre and the second is left.

The conclusion - well that's simple really. Time and again the electorate votes for the Government they need and then the one they want. They know the difference. Ten years of Blair has been the Government people wanted - liberal, largely uninterfering in their daily lives, all talk and no action.

The swing to the Conservatives indicates that people are getting ready to vote for the Government they need. It is becoming increasingly difficult to get to the sofa without standing on another broken mess on the floor. It is becoming less and less possible to get through our daily lives without feeling the consequences of a directionless and thoughtless government.

Thatcher is loved and hated in equal measure. She did things and she achieved. There were winners and losers (actually there were only winners. The losers just can't bring themselves to admit that they are better off now despite the hardship they suffered in the process). She made a difference.

Blair is about to realise that he is pretty much universally hated. He did lots, but achieved little and pissed most people off in the process. He will leave office with the state of politics at an all time low, deceit expected in all aspects of government (even the declaration of war), our constitution and institutions lying broken on the floor and our social fabric torn to shreds by a politically correct liberal philosophy that fundamentally misunderstood society.

Its nearly over.

Sign of the Times

England is in the grip of a real crisis of confidence and appears to suffering a gargantuan sense of humour failure.

The Scots don't want you to win the World Cup and quite a number of them have said so when questioned in public. So what??

The rivalry and competition between the English and Scots has been the enduring cement in holding together the most effective and successful political union in history. The products of this rivalry are and have always been most evident on the battlefield. As an ex Army officer, formerly of a Scottish Regiment (kilts and all!), I know well that we excel as a nation because a little healthy competition drives us on to achieve bigger and better things. And yes, I unashamedly derive great satisfaction and pride in the history and achievements of this fabulous nation, especially as I have contributed in a small but direct way myself.

The trouble is that, over the past decade or so, competition has been all but stamped out of our society. It is an embarrassment to beat others, and woe betide if you appear to revel in it when it happens. An entire generation has grown up with no understanding of winning and losing and none of the experience of expressing those emotions. No wonder we fear hooliganism.

I am genuinely a mixture of all our national entities in birth, blood and upbringing. I am as British as they come and I am highly competitive.

I sympathtise with the Scots. They can't stand the thought of the English going on about it for a decade if you win!! They are miserable because the glory days of Souness and Dagleish are long gone. And they are your greatest rivals. They want you to lose.

So England, stop weeping and moaning and stop reading the Race Relations Act to each other and waving writs. Recover your sense of humour, recover your competitive spirit, pride and reputation and bloody well get on and win the thing. That'll shut them up (begrudgingly!).

Thursday, 22 June 2006

3 months just has to be long enough

Forgive me for courting controversy but I must nail my colours to the mast with regard to the debate on abortion.

I am in complete favour of a substantial reduction in the time limits for abortion. I believe 12 weeks is ideal but I would settle for 14 weeks if pressed.

My flexibility will give you some idea of my reasoning. I do believe that abortion should be legal and available to women. I do not believe that the timing of abortion should depend on science's ability to keep premature babies alive.

My position lies in the belief that it is time we presumed a desire for abortions at the earliest opportunity rather than leaving the door open as long as we dare. The statistics actually speak for themselves. Clearly women agree. Afterall 80% of all abortions in this country are sought and performed within 12 weeks of conception.

I simply believe that women should be asked to take the onset of pregnancy with the utmost seriousness. My wife and I have two children. We know that at the moment of realisation your instincts tell you how you feel. It does not take six months to decide if you want to keep it. It takes 6 seconds.

It is beyond my personal belief that a woman can reach 24 weeks without knowing she is pregnant, but I am told it really happens. Surely to God, however, that same woman knew that she had had penetrative unprotected sex. I am sorry to be so gratuitous, but that is my point. You have to notice when a man enters your body and it is at that point that you should take an interest in the physical consequences.

Even on grounds of genetic disease, I see no reason for an extended abortion time limit. When a baby is conceived and wanted, parental love must be unconditional. To place a law on statute that effectively allows parents to reserve judgement on that question undermines the human soul and should not be tolerated.

So stupidity is not a reason to prolong the time limits on abortion; nor is changing your mind; nor is science in any of its forms. That we have to have abortion available to us is sad but a reality to be dealt with. It is bad enough that some children have to put up with some awful parents who do want them, but no child should have to put up with those who really don't.
If my argument has a weakness, it is one of degree. I don't mind killing an indistinguishable collection of cells, but I object most thoroughly to killing a developed and recognisable human being. I would want time limits set to ensure that all abortions are chemical rather than surgical.
The fact of the matter is that no consideration is given in law to the unborn child. The time limit is currently set for the convenience of the mother and yet ironically, in circumstances where the full time limits are used, it is the mother who suffers most grievously.

The killing of the baby is the easy bit. At anything over 18 weeks, a woman must physically deliver the dead baby as part of the abortion process. At anything over 24 weeks, the foetus must be cut up inside the womb and then delivered by the woman piece by piece. It is truly hideous and made me cry when I first discovered it.

Aborting a child must be a truly debilitating and scarring experience for the mother and I am quite certain that in 90% of cases it absolutely is treated with unparalleled seriousness.

We must reduce the time limit to 3 months which is ample time to realise, decide and act. And if, for some genuine reason it is not, then an Appeals process can be implemented to hear the individual case and decide on its merit.

Legal abortion can and should exist, but not at the expense of the presumption of life.

Just look at yourself in the Mirror

Boris Johnson has written well in today's Telegraph regarding trial by tabloid newspaper. Read it here. It reminded me however, of my fury at listening to the Jeremy Vine show a week or so ago as I drove round the M25.

The story under discussion was the failure to prosecute Kate Moss for her alleged drug taking. It was pointed out repeatedly that pictures of someone appearing to take drugs does not constitute evidence sufficient to prosecute.

Caller after caller rang in to condemn the police for not prosecuting anyway, after all "what more evidence do you need. She's guilty. Lock her up." What ever happened to the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. Bugger that - she hangs about with dope head Doherty, she's a junkie, string her up.

Everyone missed the point.

The pictures were acquired by and published in the Daily Mirror - that bastion of truth and honesty. The time delay between one and the next must have been in the region of 8 - 12 hours. So what did the police do during this time? Why did they not arrest her on suspision and take blood samples?

The police did nothing because they didn't know anything. The Daily Mirror put sales and headlines ahead of law and order. They conspired to withhold evidence and as such should take the entire blame for the failure to bring a successful prosecution.

The police saw the pictures over breakfast like everyone else by which time the subject is clean. All Kate has to do is say nothing, and she gets away with it, no matter how distasteful and objectionable that is to the good people of Radio 2's Vine-world.

I've said enough. Don't scream at the police, don't fume and call for the death penalty and stop insisting that Moss is some sort of role-model to your children. Try telling your children that she is an obsene, conceited, drug taking, bag of skin and bone. You are allowed to guide your own children, you know.

As for the Mirror, well they are making something of a name for themselves as the most irresponsible and arrogant of media outlets. Just ask Piers Morgan!

Wednesday, 21 June 2006

Tired old Tory

David Cameron really riled the Prime Minister at PMQ's today. He poked and prodded on the issue of the Home Office and the PM got angry and very strident in his defence. He knows it's a gaping sore in his administration but he just can't keep his cool and brush the criticism off.

Sadly, all Cameron's good work was lost right at the end, when some tired old moron of a Tory MP (Mackay, I think) stood up and asked the mother of all stupid questions:

"Why has it taken the Prime Minister 9 years to realise that the Home Office needs an overhaul?"

The Prime Minister lost no time in accepting the invitation to turn the question on its head and draw attention to the obvious implication that the Home Office was in a shambolic state when they took it over in 1997. Under pressure he moved quickly to contrast them and us.

Under less pressure and from the comfort of my office chair, I answered the question for Mr Blair more succinctly ("A Tory who finally admits how shambolic things were when we swept you away in '97! Mr Cameron will be so pleased.") and with a number of contemptuous expletives directed at the questioner.

Might I remind any Tory MP's who might drift past this blog post, that PMQ's should be used to humiliate the other side, not your own.

It must be so disheartening to sit amongst such mindless people who have both the right and inclination to open their mouths without permission.

You looked like a complete prat, Mackay, and you undid everything that your Leader had just done. Thank god for the A List and the proper screening of Tory candidates. Perhaps we can prevent such brainlessness in future generations.

Thursday, 15 June 2006

What would Ferguson have said at half time!!?

I consider myself predominantly Scottish when it comes to sport, but unlike many of my compatriotes North of the Border I am supporting England unreservedly. At least, I am trying very hard to support them.

The trouble is they have made me sit through two REALLY dull matches so far and I suddenly found myself wanting T&T to score a goal just to liven things up.

It took us 83 mins to beat them. 83 of the most boring minutes I have lived through. "Slouch" (as we call him) was pretty awful. Please tell me that is not it. Please tell me there is more than that.

Enlgand aren't the only team who have so far failed to turn up to this competition. Brazil, France, Argentina, Italy all look pretty off colour to me.

When our World Class players are on fire, Lampard, Gerrard, Owen, Beckham, Terry, Rooney and Cole are a pleasure to watch. Strike the match, someone.

p.s. English football is more dominant in this World Cup than any other before it, in terms of numbers of players from our national leagues. I understand the Premiership has the highest number of players in Germany of any national league. Is anyone promoting that? Can you find the stats? Sadly not. A wasted opportunity.

Tuesday, 13 June 2006

2 + 2 = 3

Today we have a Cabinet row between the Home Secretary and the Attorney General, over the (woefully soft) sentencing of a paedophile, which exposes the rot at the heart of New Labour.

The Government no longer knows which way is up. Their flagship policy direction has failed. The public are no longer willing to put up with it. Cabinet Ministers start clutching at straws and then attacking each other.

More than anything, it is their weak, ineffective and complacent attitude to the law for which this Government will be remembered most. "Education, Education, Education" and "24hrs to save the NHS" are positively funny compared to "Tough on crime. Tough on the causes of crime".

Blair and his gawping wife have always been wonderfully well endowed with general electability but the sting in their collective tail has been their premeditated assault on our Justice system. Their approach to Government as a whole and justice in particular has been so childishly rebellious.

The Human Rights Act is pernicious. If needed at all, such an Act should only need to exist in emerging democracies. The HRA was never needed in this country because we invented Common Law and there were no Human Rights at risk. The only consequences were correctly predicted at the time - the guilty and the conceited will abuse it and society will suffer.

Law abiding people desperately want someone to stand up and protect them from the explosion of crime and anti social behaviour that hides behind the real legacies of New Labour - Human Rights and political correctness.

The Conservatives must learn quickly that no social policy will ever work until crime and punishment are tackled without compromise and life means life.

Monday, 12 June 2006

Our new baby...

Thimba has arrived and is becoming right at home, thank you very much!

Time to recover, think, oh yes, and work!

I have been remiss in neither posting nor explaining my absence over the past month.

To be honest, I was just a bit exhausted and jaded after my election and needed to recharge. It sounds a bit pathetic but even a local election really takes it out of you, physically and emotionally. I hope I will take it more in my stride in future.

Most importantly, however, I needed to repay some very understanding clients with a bit of work.

Right, that's enough grovelling - put me back in your favourites, add me to your list of Top Ten blogs and lets get on with it.

RPA (Rampant Prescottian Antics)

You may be wondering where I have been and what can possibly have prompted my return.

Big Brother, the World Cup, our failing government? Well, to be fair they will all get their moment of attention in the coming days and weeks, but no it is this little ditty on the BBC news tonight that has really got me riled.

Farmers all across the land are facing bankruptcy because the Government's new Rural Payments Agency can't organise a piss up in a brewery. Now we discover why payments are a year behind schedule. Instead of working night and day to pay farmers, they are all following the new Prescott codes of office conduct and have in fact actually been trying to organise a piss up in brewery and prove us all wrong.

This Government hates the countryside and its occupants and they should hate it back. But don't worry, the woman who designed this fiasco is now designing our exit strategy from Iraq.