Wednesday, April 14, 2010

On legal aid

I felt sickened when David Cameron blurted out his populist rhetoric when denouncing the grant of legal aid to the three Labour MPs accused (that's accused) of fiddling their expenses. One might argue that it would have been politick and PR-savvy of them to have not applied. But the fact remains they were free to apply and have their entitlement determined just like the rest of us.

Yes, it hasn't helped their image in the public eye that they asked permission to be spared sitting in the dock (the district judge swiftly declined the request) when they made their first appearance. But to start to say some people don't deserve legal aid before judgment has even been pronounced, is one step on the path to mob justice.

Christian Khan solicitor Katherine Craig writes on the subject in today's Guardian.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

On 'an invitation to join the government of Britain'

You've got to hand to Cameron, it's a great line. But then we already know he's the consummate PR man. However, does it risk taking for granted what isn't theirs yet? It could sound that way. Afterall, they're not the government yet.

But let's think about it for a moment. Not happy with your child's school? Take it over. Not happy with your local police force? Replace those in command. Not happy with your NHS hospital? Sack the managers.

Who does this appeal to and potentially benefit? The middle classes. Only those with the wherewithal, income, and the luxury of time can afford to mobilise to run a school, police force or hospital. These proposals do nothing to help those least able to help themselves.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

On burning election questions

Why did the BBC pick an election logo that looks like a meteor shower painted by Jackson Pollock?

Why do those diamond Lib Dem placards always come out orange and not yellow?

And who cares to be treated to Michael Caine's views on, well, anything?

Sunday, April 04, 2010

On stag dos

As I approach 30 a new ritual has entered my life. One that I had only previously heard of through the secondary and primary accounts of others. Tales of reprehensible conduct in the unwitting capitals of former-communist Eastern European countries. Of prostitutes. Of Bratislava. Of what was coined the Bratislava palaver. The ritual, of course, is the stag do.

Since last June I have been required to attend three stag dos, all that of friends of many years. So one of course feels at the very least obligated. But my experience of each is that of negligible difference.

In each case I and my cohorts would arrive in a British town, roughly equidistant from each participants point of origin. From there three days drinking would commence, punctuated only by various intervals whereby the hoard would re-fuel in one mediocre eatery or another. The cuisine would be much as you would expect: Chinese or Indian; anything that could be washed down with lager without too much fuss. The result, of course, being something akin to the tales that were once peddled about the results of drinking the water in Spain. A whole weekend of it from which it takes a further two days for the digestive system's natural equilibrium to be restored.

Perhaps I'm slowly easing into my long (eagerly) anticipated curmudgeonhood. But really what is the point?

On starting again

So the answer to the question below may well be 'no'. Much has changed since I last posted regularly on here but I think I'll have another go, perhaps only weekly.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

On inertia

It's been a while. Does anyone still swing by? I'm considering starting again. Perhaps.

Friday, July 04, 2008

On Tory sleaze

Like an old and much-loved friend returning after years away, Tory sleaze is with us again. Boris Johnson's deputy Ray Lewis tonight stepped down from the post he has held for only two months.

In a shambling and barely coherent statement Lewis condemned the press for its inability to allow the investigation into allegations against him to run its course. It did not, said Lewis, "accept the principle of delayed gratification". I think we can unpick what he's trying to say but whether he meant it to or not it, what it actually means is that what he'd been up to would eventually be uncovered, just not as soon as the rest of us wanted.

It was revealed last night that around 10 years ago allegations of financial irregularities were made against Lewis during his time as a vicar in east London in the late 1990s. He was later barred from preaching by the Church of England, a sanction he said he had not been aware of until last night. There are also as yet unknown allegations against him of a sexual nature.

Last night Boris Johnson defended his deputy and, launching an investigation into the claims against him, praised Lewis unreservedly. During their press conference both Johnson and Lewis made much of his becoming a justice of the peace as evidence that there could be no stains on his character. Which doubtless appeased some minds until it was revealed today by the Ministry of Justice that Ray Lewis is not, and never has been, a justice for the peace. Ah. Perhaps he 'misspoke'. It's a common ailment this summer.

Whether or not these accusations are eventually substantiated it is a disaster for Johnson early on in his mayoralty. However, in Johnson's defence it's doubtful that much of the blame for the situation he finds himself in can, for once, be attributed to the blonde himself. In March this year David Cameron described Lewis as the most inspirational figure he had met since becoming Tory leader.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

On the ostrich retreat

The following email from Harriet Harman was sent to Labour party members today:

A heartfelt thank you to all party members and party staff who worked so hard in the elections on May 1.

Congratulations to newly elected and re-elected councillors and Greater London Assembly members.

It was good to see the gains that we made, including in Slough, Liverpool, Ipswich and Oxford and the increase in our vote for the GLA in London.

But it was a tough night for the party in Wales, and in England. And I want to pay tribute to our council leaders and all our councillors who lost, and to Ken Livingstone who did so much in improving policing, housing and securing the Olympics.

This election was dominated by the economy and it is clear that people are feeling the pinch.

As the Prime Minister said, "We have to listen as well as lead", this means listening widely and responding wisely.

One consequence of the results of Thursday's elections is that there will now be closer scrutiny of what the Conservatives are proposing. We will now step up our attack on the Conservative Party.

Our values are clear and our commitment is strong. Working together we will make progress for the hard working families of Britain.

Thank you so much for your support

Best wishes,


Harriet Harman
Deputy Leader

I fear a complete lack of clear values is what did for Gordon Brown on Thursday. A failure to recognise this will only set the rot more.