...a blog by Richard Flowers

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Day 3403: As the Tory Panic Continues… A Hung Parliament Means Parties having to "Make Agreements" – isn't that what Parliament is FOR?


You'd almost feel SORRY for Mr Balloon's Conservatories, seeing their carefully laid plans of "wait for the electorate to drop power into our smug, entitled laps" all fall to pieces at the first whiff of people getting a GENUINE CHOICE in this General Election.


But then along comes Master Gideon, the Boy Blunder, with another video rushed out in a fit of panic to say that if the public CHOOSE a Parliament where Parties have to work together, then the Conservatories CAN'T play nicely with the other kids.

Which is why they're not FIT to be in Government.

Nice pledge there, by the way, Gideon.

How it works: new Conservatory honesty
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Maybe could have framed that a bit better, still…

You would have THOUGHT, with all the polls pointing to an even split between three Parties (in votes if not in gerrymandered seats) and with public opinion registering in FAVOUR of a BALANCED Parliament for a change… and for CHANGE… that the Conservatories would be willing to take that on board.

After all, this is their "Big Society" accepting their "invitation to join the government" and telling them just how they want to contribute.

But no.

Apparently, the Conservatories are now the Party of NO CHANGE, and the people can only have their say if they say what Mr Balloon wants to hear.

Isn't it just a bit ARROGANT to be telling the voters that they're wrong even before they've had a chance to vote?

To say that if they don't get an overall majority then the Conservatories just can't bring themselves to talk to anyone ever, ever, ever seems a bit SMALL-MINDED, a bit STICK-in-the-MUD, a bit well CONSERVATIVE.

And to say that if they don't get an overall majority all their friends in the City will make everyone poor in revenge, seems a bit like, well SCAREMONGERING.

What does Mr Balloon say?
"I just think it is disgraceful to try and frighten people in an election campaign … You should not be frightening people in an election campaign, it is just not right."
So this can't be scaremongering, right?

Anyway, Master Gideon introduces his new home movie, all very hahaha, with a dire warning!
"For five years Britain was condemned to weak government and economic instability…"
But enough about the Conservatories in the 1990s…

"…a vote for the Hung Parliament party is a vote for politics behind closed doors; indecision and weak government; a paralysed economy; yet another election; and very possibly, waking up on the 7th of May to find out that Gordon Brown is still in Downing Street."
Well, unless you're planning on evicting him with even more brutality that is usual, I think we all know that we'll be waking up on the 7th of May to find out that Mr Frown is technically still IN Downing Street!

Anyway, Mr Oboe continues
"Jeremy is going to explain why a hung parliament would not bring about a new politics – in fact it would plunge us into the bad old politics of the 1970s, with horse-trading and deals behind closed doors instead of transparency and reform."
Master Gideon seems to have FORGOTTEN (or wants the rest of us to FORGET) the most recent time we had a minority government: under Mr Major-Minority.

Of course THAT happened because the "behind closed doors" politics that goes on INSIDE the Conservatory Party broke down and a bunch of Europhobic wingnuts walked out.

We have "behind closed doors" politics AT THE MOMENT, and to suggest otherwise is so stupid as to be DECEITFUL.

Or is Master Oboe going to let us all in to the Conservatory HQ for planning meetings?

(This is as STUPID as those "you've got nothing to fear if you've got nothing to hide" people – oh, if you've got nothing to fear, then tell me your bank details and PIN. No? You must have something to HIDE then. IDIOTS!)

"Behind closed doors" is what lets politics WORK – we have to give people a place to make compromises and change their minds or we end up stuck in fossilised positions based on dogma rather than what the country needs. And THEN you get 12% interest rates and the pound crashing out of the exchange rate mechanism. Perhaps Master Gideon should ask Mr Balloon about THAT.

But no… the USUAL Conservatory SCARE TACTIC of going back THIRTY YEARS to the Winter of Discontent having suddenly become OBSOLETE, they're now going to go back THIRTY-FIVE years to the first election of 1974. Or possibly the SECOND. Mast Gideon seems confused as to which resulted in a Hung Parliament and which was followed by a five year government.

(Remember, people voted for an Old Labour majority in the second one. A TINY one, for sure, and it got frittered away – and let's just not get into the antics of Mr John Stonehouse right now – but it was a majority when people VOTED for, in spite of what Master Gideon seems to claim.)

Still, back to the scaremongering not-scaremongering-at-all:
"…let me say something about the very real risks that a hung parliament poses for our economic stability and prospects for recovery. We know from our country’s history that these risks can become a reality."
You know, it's a bit DODGY making your predictions based on ONE data point.

Not to mention historically and economically ILLITERATE!

(From Master Gideon? Let me borrow Auntie Jennie's Face-of-not-surprised.)

The suggestion that the ONLY thing leading to economic instability in the 1970s was the weakness of the Mr Wily Wilson / Mr Unlucky Jim Callaghan government is, er, a bit of a stretch.

The Oil Shock, the Yom Kippur War, OPEC, our exclusion from the EEC, the debt crisis… and that's without mentioning the mass industrial turmoil caused by the recently-ejected Conservatory Government of Mr Grocer Heath trying to appear BUTCH.

And of course, the REAL political instability was caused by Mr Wilson having the MAGICAL POWER to call another election on a whim, or rather six months later when he thought the OMENS had turned FAVOURABLE.

This power of Royal Prerogative meant that he didn't HAVE to agree with anyone; just run a quiet minority for a bit until he could engineer a better result. A proper fixed-term Parliament would have put a stop to that.

Anyway, Gideon's asked ALL HIS FRIENDS if they like the idea of not getting complete power and do you know what? They don't!
"Today the British Chambers of Commerce published a poll of their members. Two thirds are concerned about the potential impact of a hung parliament."
I'd love to have seen the questionnaire that THAT was the last question on. Worried about the recession? Worried about the credit crunch? Worried about the banks behaving like spoiled teenagers? Worried about the need to control public spending? Finally, worried that the public spending cuts won’t be handled by people you play golf with?

Business ALWAYS worries – I'd be SURPRISED if two thirds weren't concerned about ANY possible Parliament!

Never mid that, though. Let's ask some City boys. People trust the City boys, don’t they.
"A survey earlier this month of investors managing more than £1.7 trillion of assets found that almost twenty times more respondents thought a fall in the pound was most likely under a hung parliament than under a conservative government."
Now, while it's unnecessary to point out that in English the comparison of TWO options is "more" and not "most", I really DO need to point out that since the odds of a Hung Parliament ACTUALLY happening shortened, the pound has ACTUALLY… RISEN!

I should get some new fund managers, if I were you, George.
"More than ten times more respondents thought the same about a credit rating downgrade"
And yet funnily enough an ACTUAL credit rating agency, Mad Eye Moody's, says that a Hung Parliament could be GOOD for the UK's economic stability, as Parties have to agree to work TOGETHER in the national interest.

As Mr Huhney-Monster said in the FT – and he should know because he used to LEAD a sovereign ratings team – there are fourteen AAA-rated counties on Earth… only one of them has EVER had to call in the IMF, and it's the one that elects its government with First Past the Port, not the ten that use a proportional system. Only one country in recent years has LOST a AAA-rating, Japan, and there they have had a majority government for a single party for FIFTY YEARS.

Mr Oboe cites Belgium as a country where the coalition has broken down. Belgium seems to be getting along fine WITHOUT a government. Arguably they're getting on BETTER without a government, interfering and legislating all the time.

He cites Italy. Italy didn't elect Mr Silvio Barelylegal under a proportional system, now did they? Mind you, I doubt Master Gideon wants to get too closely into questions of a media magnate buying the election.

Mr Oboe cites Germany… he does WHAT? If you're making the case against coalition government, you really DON'T want to be identifying the most powerful economy in Europe as a signpost of inevitable failure. The IRONY, of course, is that it was the BRITISH who design Germany's successful electoral system at the end of World War Part II. If only we'd adopted it ourselves… sigh.
"forecasts by the Centre for Economics and Business Research published at the weekend show that a hung parliament would lead to higher mortgage rates and a falling pound – even in their best case scenario."
Higher mortgage rates… could that be because an interest base rate of ½ a percent is UNSUSTAINABLY low? A rise in interest rates is INEVITABLE under almost ANY "scenario" best case worst case basket case or otherwise. It would be a boon to savers and investors, to pensioners. Nor, whisper it, is damping the mortgage market down necessarily a bad thing. Or have the Conservatories forgotten the bubble so soon?

And a falling pound? A falling pound is GOOD for exports, making our goods cheaper for people abroad to buy. Again, remember what happened when we crashed out of the ERM? Pound down, exports up, economic recovery. This really is macro-economics 101. What DOES Master Gideon think he's saying?

Oh yes, it's "vote us":
"Because only a Conservative majority guarantees change for the better."
Nothing, but NOTHING could guarantee NO CHANGE better than a Conservatory majority!

Anyone, ANYONE at all – even US! – saying "we want a majority" is saying that they want things to CARRY ON AS THEY ARE

"Strong Government" is CODE for the old Labservative Parties taking turns to have ALL the power on a MINORITY of the support. "Strong Government" means more power to the PARTIES; a strong Parliament, properly elected, means more power to the VOTERS.

A strong PARLIAMENT – a Parliament where the executive has to PERSUADE rather than IMPOSE – means a weak GOVERNMENT.

A "Strong Government" means a feeble Parliament that cannot control the executive and becomes corrupt though the whips offering advancement or peerages or government positions or "fact-finding" trips or any kind of freebies and handouts.

This is what a system BUILT on PATRONAGE and Royal Prerogative, on Prime Ministerial favour and a whips office gets you: a political system based on FEUDAL POWERS and the offer of BACK-HANDERS.

This is OUR political system, bloated, corrupt and BROKEN.

Our "First Pass the Port" voting system is NOT incidental to this – it is at the very HEART of this: the ability to grant the "favoured sons" (and they usually ARE sons and not daughters) the GIFT of a SAFE SEAT, be it a Conservatory Squirarchy or a Hard Labour City Ghetto, is the FIRST step on the road of CORRUPTION, the road of "doing favours for the Party" in return for the SPECIAL TREATMENT.

IF you want CHANGE, if you want REAL CHANGE, then it has GOT TO GO.

This is the point where the Conservatories are MOST EXPOSED as the SAME OLD LABSERVATIVES.

If you want CHANGE, if you want REAL CHANGE, then they have GOT TO GO too.

Don't give in to fear and scare tactics.

You CAN vote for CHANGE.

You CAN vote for BETTER.

You CAN vote for the Liberal Democrats.


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Day 3401: Memo to the Labour Party - We Hate You Too


For four hundred years, Great Britain has had a Liberal Party that exists to set people free from arbitrary power of kings and churches and vested interests. And for the same time there has been a Conservatory Party that exists to try and hold on to power for those same interests.

Then along came Hard Labour.

The Conservatories are wrong and we will oppose them always. But Labour are an insane aberration, an authoritarian elite that believe absolutely that what they are doing is not just RIGHT but FOR YOUR OWN GOOD, and so they will NEVER, EVER STOP.

Labour hates and fears Liberals. When they were weak and we were strong they hated and resented and envied our power; when they got strong and we were weak they hated and feared us for the betrayal they had done.

One thing Labour has never realised, though, is that we HATE them right back.

Let's get one thing completely clear: this "left-liberal" nonsense is just that... NONSENSE. Liberal is NOT an outpost of the "left". The "left" is an outpost of the Labservatives. Liberals are totally opposed to that sort of centralising, authoritarian, nannying dogma.

We see the Hopeless Secretary, Mr Alan Johnson & Johnson, on this weekend's Politics Show, playing the affable, kindly father-of-the-nation-in-waiting, telling us how he's always favoured proportional representation.


He favours AV+ and with the greatest respect to Uncle Woy, it's a GHASTLY system, retaining all the worst of the safe seats for life of the existing system, making them safer by the exaggerating effect of AV and THEN adding SUPER-SAFE seats which are the ones on the Party List which no one votes in and so no one can ever, ever vote out.

Mr Johnson & Johnson's no more tears formula is to support a form of PR for entirely TACTICAL reasons, because he thinks that it will install a Hard Labour HEGEMONY forever, with them in permanent charge and the Liberal Democrats as their natural whipping boys.

It is the attitude of the abusive partner to the battered spouse: you've got no choice, love, you've got to stick with me.

Their whole attitude is stuck in the 1950's. And if you don't believe that, just look at their manifesto cover.

Asked: I'm a Labour voter in a Lib Dem/Tory marginal, should I vote Lib Dem to keep the Tory out? He replies: it would be easier to answer if you were a Lib Dem voter is a Labour/Tory marginal.

This is SUCH a DISHONEST answer. Yes, yes of COURSE it would be EASIER for the Labour Hopeless Secretary to say vote Labour. Colour me SO NOT STUNNED.

It would be EASIER in a SAFE Labour seat to say "vote Hard Labour 'cos no other vote counts and we're going to ignore you anyway" but he's not going to say THAT either!

He WANTS to say he wants people to vote Labour EVERYWHERE. But he knows that saying that will actually REDUCE the number (if there are any left) of people who would prefer to vote Lib Dem, but will vote Labour tactically.

But if you won't answer the question, then you REALLY don't deserve ANYBODY to lend you their votes, let alone people who would rather vote for another Party.

Me? Oh, I say EVERYONE should vote Liberal Democrat, because the more votes we get everywhere, the more clear it will be just how BROKEN and CORRUPT our electoral system has become.

He goes on to policing and immigration - and yes, I realise that Liberal Democrat immigration policy could be a dandy bit more, well, Liberal, though I start to think that the "firm but fair" rhetoric is there as covering fire for the "there's good immigration as well as bad immigration" line - but Mr Johnson & Johnson starts out by saying that ASYLUM claims are right down. ASYLUM, that's people looking to escape from horrible terrible danger, and as usual here's a Hard Labour politician equating that with BAD. And he complains that there's been a huge rise in asylum seekers in the last decade. Really, Mr Hopeless Secretary? And can you think of any geo-political event of the last ten years that might have caused such a huge rise? Anything at all?

It's just the sense of ENTITLEMENT that sends me NUTS: there he sits, the Hopeless Secretary, knowing, KNOWING that his Party isn't just going to LOSE but quite probably to come THIRD, but still with the secret smile of a man who EXPECTS that he'll still have his fat bottom behind a Whitehall desk in a fortnight because we just HAVE to fall into line as junior partners.

Well, news for you, Mr Johnson & Johnson: Captain Clegg thinks it would be PREPOSTEROUS for your boss to be loitering in Number 10 if your lot come third and I reckon it'd be pretty PREPOSTEROUS for you to be loitering in Whitehall under the circumstance too, what with the HEART of Liberal Democrat policy being a FREEDOM BILL to undo all of the, pardon my language, do do that you have made into laws. So you better start thinking again.

Honestly, I really REALLY don't want to see Mr Balloon as Prime Monster, but when this smug, repellent, arrogant... GIT is on the telly, I start to think it might be a price worth paying to get rid of this sort of person. At least until I see Mr Balloon's puff-pasty face again, anyway.

Everyone knows that Liberals and Conservatories will oppose each other forever.

So can we PLEASE get on with Killing the Labour Party so that we can get back to the REAL business of defeating the Privileged Party of Vested Interest and Status Quo.


Saturday, April 24, 2010

Day 3393: DOCTOR WHO: Vote Dalek


Typical BBC

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It's another REPEAT

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So these must be the Type IV travel machines, then. Drone, Scientist, Strategist, Eternal (whatever that might mean) and Supreme.

I've been putting off writing this review, using the election as an excuse and writing other, political, stuff because it turns out I've not really got a lot to say.

So let's keep this short.

It was great, like a sugar-rush, pressing all those fanboy buttons, bringing back the Daleks badder than ever, and... that's it, really.

"The Power of the Daleks" is a terrific story, focusing on teh Daleks sinister cunning as much as their deathray weaponry; Doctor Who in World War II seems so natually Who-ish that it's almost a surprise that they only did it once in the first twenty-six years of the series, and then without any Nazis; and the Naboo star-fighters attack at the end of "The Phantom Menace" is an action sequence surely in need of improvement by making it spitfires versus flying saucers.

Making a cut-and-shut episode out of these elements ought not to work... and yet it does.

Admittedly, it's more as a "sketch" of what a proper Doctor Who story involving these bits would be, a colourful splash of comic-art to storyboard what ought to have been a longer story: part one being the Daleks in the bunker, with the "yes we are the Daleks" as the cliff-hanger, and then part two aboard their spaceship. Would there have been enough material for two episodes? There barely seems enough material for the one we have here, with side plots more alluded to than developed. With more time, WRAF Office Breem's doomed boyfriend might have been more than a cursory nod, and we might have seen something to establish the RAF's space spitfires rather than just having Amy suggest, oh I know we can retrofit alien technology onto a flimsy wood and canvas airframe and it's bound to just work rather than just, oh, tear itself to bits.

And Ian McNeice is a great sketch of Churchill.

Anyway, the "new" Daleks. Available in toy stores for Christmas, I bet.

Look there's a reason why the originals were a design classic. But never mind the hunchback, iMac, rubber-toy look, Daleks should be short. Does the fact that every single one of them has a galaxy-class Napoleon Complex tell you nothing?

Taking a guess, based on what we see, the Drone is red (looks like red ones trundling around in the computer game trailer), the Scientist is blue (it's the blue one that identifies the TARDIS self destruct as actually a Jammy Dodger), and the Supreme is obviously the deep-voiced (Barry) white. It does appear that the Supreme names the orange one as the strategist and the yellow as the eternal.

But if they're going to have different functions, couldn't you have given them different appendages too?

Still, good that they are back (like they'd ever really go away).

There's a nice retcon to "Power of the Daleks", where "Victory of the Daleks" implies that the Dalek factory that we see in Pat Troughton's opening story is one of the thousands of "lost" Dalek progenitor machines, explaining how it can start churning out Daleks out of nowhere.

(Or possibly, when the Dalek says "all but one were lost" it means that the one that wasn't lost was the one in "Power..." and that this one is the lucky find, though that seems to be too much of a coincidence.)

The sad thing, of course, is that they don't have Davros on board. Surely, surely if "just one ship" was going to survive the cataclysm at the end of "Journey's End" it should have been his. Even if they just had him in a survival chamber, all burned up and frozen, waiting for them to fix him again (and thus the "new paradigm" Daleks make off with him at the end - now that would be a fun conversation to look forward to...)

Now, please just remember not to wipe every last one out again in the season finale.

Next Time...Well, after reprising the Daleks and the World War II setting of Moffat's season one story, I'm sure it's time for something original. What's that you say, the guest star of his season four story and the monster of his season three story... oh. Still, at this point Russell would have had us return to present day Earth, so at least the Crash of the Byzantium is a bit different. River Snog versus the Weeping Angels it is then, in "The Time of Angels"


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Day 3398: Clegg Bought Flip-Flops for Nazi Immigrants… ON EXPENSES! aka the Day the Press went Mad


Put on a happy face, Liberal Democrats: we're WINNING!

The ESTABLISHMENT is closing ranks behind Mr Balloon, attempting to do something – ANYTHING – to block CHANGE: muckspreading on five front pages; Tell-lies-o-graph editor Mr Bendy Broken insisting "it's NOT a smear; it's NOT a smear"; Mr Roger Stavro Murdoch's son, Prince James, and his enforcer, Rebekah Oddjob, busting their way into the offices of the Independent

The BLATANT-ness of this attempt to snatch back out of the fluffy feet of REAL voters the system that has served their VESTED INTERESTS for so long has provoked a HUGE BACKLASH as people see through the CONSERVATORY PAPERS' dirty-tricks to the PANIC underneath.

But did the Conservatories REALLY want Captain Clegg to spend all day at the top of the BBC news? AGAIN?

And what is Mr Balloon going to do about it? He promised us an ENTIRELY POSITIVE campaign… just like he promised an end to PUNCH & RICHARD & JUDY at Prime Monsters Questions… So he's GOOD at keeping promises. Not.

Is he going to DENY his attack doggies and try to appear the Mr Statesman, rising above the fray? Do they really think that that will wash?

After all, he himself used one of these smears in the first debate, saying Captain Clegg had accepted stolen money and pulling silly faces because he didn't like being reminded that the Liberal Democrats were COMPLETELY EXONERATED.

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And that's what's happening with TODAY'S smears too.

The Tell-lies-o-graph: Captain Clegg did something completely allowed and – shock – was completely honest about doing it

The Daily Express: Diana's tears at house-price fall die to Captain Clegg's immigration policy

The Daily Fail: Captain Clegg once said that we should stop mentioning the war, we got away with it once but…

At which point they mentioned the Nazis, so we won automatically.

This is going to be an election where people's votes REALLY MAKE A DIFFERENCE.


I am going to get my Daddies to do like Auntie Caron and write to some of the nice but misguided people advertising in the Tell-lies-o-Graph, people like WAITROSE and BEN & JERRY'S ICE CREAM and THOMPSON HOLIDAYS, people who VALUE their good name, and tell them – POLITELY – that they have DAMAGED THEIR BRAND by supporting such an obvious piece of SMEAR.

But you can also join in with the Tweeters of Twitter who have managed to make the IRONIC #nickcleggsfault the top trend of the day.

And don't forget to watch the debate at eight. It's on lots of channels, not just Sky-Bully, including the BBC News Channel and alJazeera, so you can see it on Freeview or Freesat too. Can't do anything about Sky-Bully's HIDEOUS set built out of Union Jacks, though.

It is going to be "mostly" (meaning expect SOME about these smear stories) mostly about foreign policy – so one question:

Captain Clegg: has negotiated with China
Mr Balloon: wants to NUKE China

Who EXACTLY are you going to trust with the keys to the bomb?!


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Day 3396: Mr Balloon admits his back is to the wall – will he turn and fight?


Conservatories are in a panic, the OBVIOUS contradictions in their message are starting to show and it's tearing their campaign to pieces.

The much-trailed "attack on the Liberal Democrats" has amounted to tired old right-wing lines on crime, immigration, and Europe, repudiating some of their own thinking.

And now they unveil their latest poster:

"Let's Cut Benefits for Those Who Refuse Work"

Forget "we're all in this together", forget "the big society", forget "liberal conservatory".

The country has barely recovered from the longest ever recession, and here are the same old Conservatories offering a kicking to the worst off.

And then the GHASTLY Hard Labour government pipes up with: "actually, that's our policy already ".

Same Old Labservatives.

The Liberal Democrats are WAY up in all the opinion polls, with even the lowest, the ComRes one, saying we're tying with Hard Labour with more than a quarter of the vote, and some even saying we're in the LEAD, but one thing they all agree on: Mr Balloon's Conservatories are nowhere near the 40% they need in order to get – under our unfair voting system – 50% of the seats in Parliament.

Mr Balloon is doing no better than Mr Vague did in the "save my job!" campaign of 2001.

Mr Balloon is doing no better than Mr Something-of-the-Night did in the "it's not racist but…" campaign of 2005.

And just as in 2001 and again in 2005, no sooner has the Conservatory election campaign run into trouble than they revert to type, lurching to the right with a desperate, despicable "core vote strategy".

"Are you thinking what they're thinking?"

Well if what you're thinking is "PANIC!!!!!" then yes, you are.

So Mr Balloon cancelled his planned election broadcast to appeal direct to the voters:

"Good evening, Britain – I agree with Nick…"

While his flying monkeys take to the airwaves, like Mr Liam "fantastic doctor" Fox appearance on the The Today Show, to say how they will mount an entirely positive campaign illustrated by entirely NEGATIVE attacks on Hard Labour, on Liberal Democrats and on the voters who might deign to exercise their democratic right to not pick a Conservatory majority after all thank you very much.

And Mr Balloon himself takes to the steps of his local Pizza Hut with his best "how very dare you" face on, to say: "when I invited everyone to join my government, I certainly did not mean I was going to accept the wishes of the voters; and when I said we're all in it together I certainly did not mean Lib Dems in the Cabinet! Smithers, release the hounds!"

Same Old Labservatives.

What seems increasingly clear is that the Tories just EXPECTED to win, thought it was their TURN to win, felt ENTITLED to win even, and as such their campaign has no serious, principled underpinning. Which is why it's tearing itself to pieces like this.

It's possible that there's a kernel of an idea somewhere inside Mr Balloon's "Big Society" – I say possible because it's just too soon to tell.

To really ESTABLISH a new political idea takes time, years of time, to explain and refine what the theme is about, why it's different, why people should think it might work. You CAN make a "big splash" with a shiny new POLICY announcement, which is just what they did with their rabbit-from-a-hat National Insurance tax not-rise, but a PHILOSOPHY needs to be presented to people over time so that they understand how it fits you and how all your policies are developed from it.

This is why the Liberal Democrats have been repeating the core themes of freedom and fairness over and over. People need to THINK "Liberal Democrats" when they think of policies for freedom (civil liberties, abolishing the surveillance state, no 2 i.d.iot cards) or fairness (fairer tax, pupil premium, abolishing tuition fees, clean politics).

And because all our policies stem from a sound philosophy, they all pull in the same direction and we don't get caught in silly contradictions. The Conservatories don't even know THEMSELVES what their principles are supposed to be so they end up:

It's inconsistent, it's hypocritical, and it looks just plain SLOPPY.

If Mr Balloon's "Big Society" idea sounds so vague and unreal, it's because we don't know how it's supposed to inform their policies: I mean how DOES a tax cut for dead millionaires tie in to "we're all in this together"?

Or it might just be a sound-bite that's supposed to be a little bit like Lord Blairimort's "Big Tent".

With the Labour Party seemingly happy to just drift into oblivion, it's the BLUE Labservatives who are putting up a fight, with Mr Balloon trying to repaint himself as changier than Captain Clegg, while issuing insulting threats to the electorate they'd jolly well better give him a majority or else the voting system is so corrupt that the Conservatories might not be able to stop anybody changing it. Er.

And their minions in the meeja force of hell on us, or at least a couple of devil's doggies, with the Scum waving about a practice dossier for one of the debates (shock news: serious politician takes national debate seriously) and the Daily Fail trys to say Liberal Democrats are among the "worst" MPs in the expenses scandal (presumably that should read "among the 650 worst" MPs. We know that not everyone was a SAINT, but there was no one in the Liberal Democrats as in-it-up-to-their-eyebrows as the House Flippers and Moat Dredgers on the Labservative benches).

This Liberal Democrat insurgency has really got them SCARED, hasn't it.

And THAT is typical of the Labservaties too.


Monday, April 19, 2010

Day 3394: Could Labour Go Bankrupt?


So Mr Frown wants to talk MORAL BANKRUPTCY?

As Ms Sandy Topsywig announced on the News Quiz, Nick Clegg received 61% public support after Thursday's debate and goes on to play Dorothy in the West End

As for Mr Balloon, only the LORD can save him now!

But the big loser was Mr Frown.

If Hard Labour CRASH in the polls, why would Unions pour good money after bad?

After Iraq we all KNOW that it's Hard Labour who're MORALLY BANKRUPT. After "no more boom and bust" we KNOW that they're INTELLECTUALLY bankrupt. But might they go ACTUALLY bankrupt?

What are the states of the Parties finances?

Well, we'll know just in time for the election, because the Electoral Commission have promised to report on the first quarter 2010 by 4th May, i.e. two days before.

But we CAN look at the end of December 2009.

Hard Labour owed over £16.8 million pounds, including £4.9 million (29%) to the Co-operative bank and another £1.7 million (10%) to the Unity Trust Bank. Almost all the rest of Hard Labour's debt (£8.8million or 52%) is made up of six loans from individuals at a million or two million pounds each, and all at the slightly odd-looking interest rate of "0% until 31st July 2010 then 6.5%"

This compares with the Conservatories who owed over £14.4 million pounds, of which £10 million was owed to three private banks, and another million – at least according to the Grauniad – to Lady Rothchild through a front company, Ironmade Ltd.

While the Liberal Democrats only have debts of a frugal £1.4 million, mostly a million pound loan from – ironically – the Royal Bank that We Own of Scotland. ("Ironically" because if we DID end up in Government we'd probably have to repay that to avoid a conflict of interest!)

So the serious question is, how can Hard Labour continue to fund its borrowings?

The Banks certainly WON'T pull the plug DURING a general election campaign. Because Labour could tell them to get STUFFED. Just about the ONLY thing that might restore Hard Labour's flagging fortunes would be if they could announce a "conspiracy of bankers" threatening to "steel the election".

But what happens afterwards?

The two Labservative Parties notoriously waste a huge gush of cash during general elections in the hope that they can recoup the money from kickbacks generous donations from faithful supporters in interested industries after the election.

And can anyone see ANY other way out of the HOLE that Hard Labour have dug for themselves than going begging to the Unions?

But just one of the Liberal Democrat's pledges for a new, fair, clean politics is to introduce a limit of £10,000 for donations to political Parties. Leaving Hard Labour with NO WAY OUT.

The INTEREST alone on a one million pound loan at 6.5% amounts to £65,000 – so Hard Labour's donor loaners wouldn't even be able to waive the interest payments!

(And it’s their own fault – we TRIED to negotiate limits to donations but the other Parties weren't having it!)

Hard Labour are DESPERATE to avoid REFORM of politics. Because it will RUIN them.

This weekend, the First Lord of Darkness waltzed into the struggle with some good old Labservative attacks on the Liberal Democrats – claims we're soft on immigrants (yes, the Conservatories are trying that one too), claims that Britain needs a Strong Government not a Hung Parliament (yes, the Conservatories are trying that one too), claims that a Hung Parliament gives disproportionate power to a third Party… look, Lord Mandelbrot, our PRINCIPLES say that you deserve a fair hearing even though you are in third.

But then he tells us that only one Party is "offering the real deal – radical reform of the Commons and Lords and the chance to vote for a new, fairer voting system" except he follows this with the HILARIOUSLY INSANE assertion that it's the LABOUR Party!

Forgive me, I may damage my stuffing if I laugh much harder.

Seriously, it's just politics when he says the Liberal Democrats will cut tax credits – I mean, it's NICE that Hard Labour want to waste money giving tax credits to the better off while making the lowest earners pay an increase in NI, but Liberal Democrats want to make the tax system FAIR and give a tax cut to millions of low- and middle-income earners.

It's just politics when he says that the Liberal Democrats will cut the child trust fund – I mean, it's NICE that Hard Labour want to waste money on a tiny gift to people when they turn eighteen, but Liberal Democrats want to spend that money on a Pupil Premiums for kids who need it when they need it most.

And it's just politics when he says that the Liberal Democrats would give an amnesty to illegal immigrants – I mean, it's NICE that Hard Labour want to leave people to ROT or to be TRAPPED in the underground jobs market on slave wages or in prostitution, but Liberal Democrats want to give them the chance to EARN their citizenship and to CONTRIBUTE to Britain through working and paying taxes.

As for claiming that the country needs "strong government"? Don't make me laugh any more! It is thirty years of "strong" Thatcherite Labservative Government that got us into this mess in the first place!

But saying that Hard Labour is the Party offering REFORM.

You had THIRTEEN YEARS – if you meant it, you'd have done it by now!

Hard Labour are ALREADY BANKRUPT – morally, intellectually, and by the looks of it financially.

They've already flogged off Transport House. But never mind their Headquarters, Hard Labour sold their SOULS to buy their way in to power – they've got nothing left to mortgage.

It's just another shocking twist of this election: that a Party that hasn't been bought and bribed might suddenly break through.


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Day 3392: I Agree With Nick... and so does My Wife!


Seismic events are shaking the bedrock!

For the first time in a hundred years, it is possible to enjoy clear skies over Great Britain as an enormous Paddy Ashcloud dominates the airwaves.

Oh, and a volcano has stopped planes flying too.

Britain needs CHANGE.

Mr Frown and Mr Balloon say that they agree with Nick:

we agree with Nick
Posted by Picasa

More and more people are saying that they agree with Nick:

we agree with Nick too
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Let's see if we can't get EVERYONE saying that they agree with Nick!

we ALL agree with Nick
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Two polls, and let's not get TOTALLY crazy yet, but it is two polls and not just one rogue one, two polls - YouGov in the Sun and Harris in the Hate Mail - two polls so far say that the Liberal Democrats have overtaken Hard Labour.

That's an EXTRAORDINARY response. Even if it's only a BLIP it's STILL extraordinary, and shows that people are CRYING OUT for someone to make a difference. People WANT to agree with Nick!

So what can YOU do, if you agree with Nick too?

First, you can join this INDEPENDENT Facebook campaign, and Rage Against the Election! Completely unofficial, it already has more members than the official Conservatory Facebook page! Invite your friends!

Second, why not let other people KNOW that you agree with Nick with a range of attractive tee-shirts and mugs!

And third, don't just SIT THERE - go out and help your Local Liberal Democrats to win!


After all, I agree with Nick, as well!


Friday, April 16, 2010

Day 3391: Debate Night – WE RULE!


Live! From Personchester! It’s the quiz of the week, er, the first live tellybox debate between the leaders of the three largest UK political parties.

Your host is Mr Alistair Stewpot of Police,Camera,Action!

Prime Monster Mr Frown will provide the POLICE; Conservatory Mr Balloon will supply the CAMERA; and Captain Clegg, Leader of the Liberal Democrats, is the man of ACTION!

Here is Mr Stewpot

Stewpot: good evening, and welcome. We’re here at the first general election debate and we have very strict rules. Ladies and gentlemen you are live on Channel Three: please do not swear. Or applaud.

First let’s hear the leader’s opening statements:

Captain Clegg: Hello! I’m different to the Labservatives

Mr Frown: Remember, I just destroyed the economy but the Conservatories are really, really scary

Mr Balloon: Bleep. Thank you for purchasing the Leader-bot 500. I am programmed in over six million forms of public relations.

Stewpot: right. First question. Person in audience…go!

Ted Whitebread: I want to ask about immigration

Frown: immigration is evil. I want to stamp it out!

Balloon: I couldn’t disagree more. Immigration IS evil! I met a – uploading – a black man in Brighton once and he said: “are YOU thinking what I’M thinking?” That’s why I want to stamp it out!

Clegg: immigration is NOT evil. There is good immigration and bad immigration and we would try a different approach to try and prevent the bad while making the good work better

Frown: I agree with Nick–

Stewepot: I’m going to have to stop you there. Next question!

Valerie Victim: I’ve been burgled seventy-nine times this week, how can you stop it happening again?

Balloon: I recently met a – uploading – a victim of crime in Cardiff. Everything in her house had been stolen and so they set her on fire and burned her son to death. And those murderers were set free from prison after only one week of community service. That’s why we want to be tougher on crime!

Frown: we have increased production in the tractor factories every year for the last fifty years and that’s why we can put more police on the beat to beat up young people who might one day be criminals and take their DNA so that we can prove it when they do. That’s why WE are tougher on crime!

Clegg: the Labservative policy of just sending more and more young people to prison for short-term sentences just doesn’t work. Acting tough doesn’t work. We would have a different approach: community justice that WORKS.

Frown: I agree with Nick–

Stewepot: I’m going to have to stop you there. Next question!

Anthony Punter: Aren’t MPs all crooks?

Clegg: I’m afraid that some of them, the flippers and the tax dodgers have got away with it. Not one Liberal Democrat flipped or dodged tax.

Frown: we want reform – we’d let you sack your MP

Balloon: no, we want reform – we’d let you sack your MP too

Clegg: [springs elephant trap] You both SAY that, but then you both voted AGAINST it!

Frown: I agree with Nick–

Stewepot: I’m going to have to stop you there. It’s time for a commercial break. Oh wait: there aren’t any! Next question!

Simon Exam-Fodder: why is school so boooooring?

Balloon: I want more discipline! Spank me nanny! Bleep, disregard! I recently met a – uploading – a schoolmistress in Stockport. And she told me that all the school-kids today carry knives and beat up teachers and if they are expelled then the appeal panel sends them straight back to school. That’s why I’d sell off the schools to bizarre cults and let them expel anyone who questions their ways without any appeal.

Frown: we’ve doubled the production from the turnip farms every year for the past hundred years and that’s why we’re able to give every new teacher their own City McAcademy, where they can do exactly as they are told by the seven-hundred page guidebook provided by my colleague Mr Balls.

Clegg: [tears up rule book with bare hands] I’m not allowed to ask you questions, but you can just nod. Is it that you think that the school aren’t allowed to teach you anything interesting or creative? Yes? Well, we want to pass a law to STOP the Government meddling in schools all the time. That way, when we give an extra pupil premium to help the worst off pupils, the SCHOOL gets to decide how it’s spent, not some minister at a desk in Whitehall.

Frown: I agree with Nick–

Stewepot: I’m going to have to stop you there. Next question!

Professor Plum: I’m sorry but aren’t you going to do anything about the trillion pounds debt hole we’re all in?

Frown: when the global crisis was caused by events completely outside my control through the totally irresponsible lending by banks I had to stop telling you to keep borrowing from the banks in order to act to save the world, and that’s the only reason that anyone has any money at all left to for me to spend on hospitals and schools and police and tractor building…

Balloon: Mr Frown is trying to tell you he can protect hospitals and schools and police and tractor building. But because of the enormously huge deficit he’s created, he just can’t do that. Er, but I can! I recently met a – uploading – a leprechaun in Levenshume, who looked remarkably like Gideon Oboe, and HE said to me: “somewhere over the rainbow” and if I can find that pot of gold, I can give it to my chums, er, use it to fill the hole in the deficit.

Clegg: the Liberal Democrats are the ONLY Party to set out how we will pay for everything we say we will do and what we will cut to try and bring the deficit under control

Balloon: oh no wait! The Liberal Democrats want to promise you a seventeen billion pound tax cut. I’d LOVE to offer you a seventeen billion pound tax cut but I can’t pay for it–

Clegg: do you want me to tell you how I’d pay for it?

Balloon: er…

Clegg: I’d pay for it by raising the rate of capital gains tax so that it’s the same as the rate of income tax, and I’d make the benefit that rich people get for their pension contributions the same as the benefit that everyone else gets, and I’d bring in a mansion tax, and I’d tax polluters.

Balloon: er… er…

Frown: I agree with Nick–

Stewepot: I’m going to have to stop you there. Next question!

Nina Healthinsurance: can you spare a few coins for the hospital fund?

Balloon: Sorry, I don’t carry change. But I recently met a – uploading – a charming granny in Greenwich, and she had had to sell her house and all her possessions and her nine grandchildren into slavery just to pay for the drugs she needed, and I don’t mean BAD drugs either, but the good stuff. Bleep, disregard! The stuff she needed for her cancer, but we could CURE cancer if only we could make enough saving to not raise the NI and then spend the money that we’re not going to get on drugs… hang on… we’ll make the cuts and not raise the money and spend the money we haven’t raised to…no wait, I can work this out…

Clegg: How can people believe Mr Balloon when he promises to spend lashings of cash on the NHS when he’s also promised to slash the deficit and spend money on tax cuts for millionaires and married couples and house buyers. It’s just not credible.

We want to protect the services people want by rooting out the unnecessary bureaucracy and target culture and redirect that money to where it’s needed.

Frown: I agree with Nick–

Stewepot: I’m going to have to stop you there

Jonny Kilroy: why can’t my mates in the army get any proper helicopters? Or body armour? Or boots?

Frown: as I said to the Chilcot inquiry and subsequently had to correct, no request for funding by our brave soldiers was turned down, by which I mean provided it was submitted to me by our brave soldiers on the correct form signed in triplicate by myself and Tony and the American President and at least two of his parents or guardians. And that is why our brave soldiers had as many helicopters as they wanted, although we had actually sent them to Iraq for five years first and then we had to adapt them to the terrain in Afghanistan because obviously flying through the air makes helicopters very sensitive to the terrain and did I mention how brave our brave soldiers are?

Clegg: There are these brilliant people in my constituency make a thing that goes on the front of your tank to protect it from running over bombs. That’s brilliant and it’s British. The Americans use them. The Americans say they save lives. But we can’t afford them.

What our brave soldiers need – oh look, he’s got me doing it too!

We have two admirals for every warship, and a dozen Brigadiers for every Brigade. It’s time we spent money a bit better on a bit of that British invention.

And I’d scrap Trident and spend that money on things we actually need too.

Balloon: You can’t do that. I want Trident so I can nuke China.

Frown: I agree with Nick–

Stewepot: I’m going to have to stop you there. Next question!

Jemima Pensionfund: whose going to look after us when we all get old?

Clegg: I had a great answer for you, but then all the money got flushed down the big drain marked “banks” so instead I’ll turn my weakness into a strength and say that I’ve got some good ideas, and Mr Frown has some good ideas and Mr Balloon has some good ideas so I appeal for all politicians to all come together

Stewpot: Stop now! Goodnight!

So that was the debate, but who won?

Well, the ITV News poll called it for Captain Clegg.

And the Political Betting/Angus Reid poll called it for Captain Clegg.

And the Grauniad Blog responses called it for Captain Clegg.

And the Times/Populus poll called it for Captain Clegg.

And the Sky News/Fizzback poll called it for Captain Clegg.

And the Sun/YouGov… yes THAT YouGov… yes THAT The Sun called it for Captain Clegg.

And the Mail. The Daily Hate Mail. The. Mail. Called it. For. Captain. Clegg.

Much spinning in the aftermath. Most hilariously: after "Ask the Chancellors" the Tories were LOUD in their complaints that Mr Dr Vince had an UNFAIR ADVANTAGE because he was in the middle and seen to be DOMINANT

After tonight's debate, several "independent" sources (which means SOMEONE was spinning it to them all!) said "well, Mr Balloon was at an UNFAIR DISADVANTAGE because he was in the middle and seen to be under attack from both sides!"

To which an UNCHARITABLE person might say: well you DID ask to be in the middle! It's not anybody else's fault that your guys are RIUBBISH!

We were doing pretty well. We had a nice little lift off from the successful launch of our excellent manifesto. WE knew he’d be good in the debate.

But here’s the thing: everyone was saying that he only had to turn up in order to come away a winner. But we all really KNEW that if he’d just “turned up”, if the papers could call Mr Balloon the winner – like they EXPECTED too; heck, like HE expected them to – or even if they could call Mr Frown the winner, then the story would all have been about that with a footnote page 94, “also present was Captain Clegg of the Lib Dems who did jolly well for trying”. We knew he really had to WIN.

And he WON.

I believe this is called a GAME CHANGER.

Because before this, the Labservatives were lovebombing us because they were a little bit scared. After this, they will be bombing bombing us, because now they are a LOT scared.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Day 3390: General Election Campaign Day Nine – Mr Balloon is Frit, Frit, Frit!


Who's afraid of the Big Bad Paxo?

Ironically, it turns out that it is Conservatory PR whizz, Mr Balloon, who is a BIG STREAK OF YELLOW as the news breaks that he has chickened out of facing the grand inquisitor.

As Count Pacula asks:
"if he won't stand up to Paxman, how can he stand up to Putin?"
Liberal Democrat Leader, Captain Clegg, had NO HESITATION in accepting the challenge of facing off against Britain's most formidable sneer, and was judged to have come off well, standing up to bruising questioning, and taking his chance to present our principles.

Or, as one wag tweeted it on Twitter:
"Captian Clegg uses the opportunity to speak as Mr Paxo chokes to death on his own smugness for five minutes"
He was very good at mentioning our four principles and defending attacks on health, immigration and taxation policy. More important, he was honest and straightforward. And answered the "Hung Parliament" question without becoming evasive, but instead insisting that first it's up to the voters to decide and after that there is a case for politicians to come together to tackle the financial crisis.

Continuing with the very positive responses to Captain Clegg's interview, glowing reviews have been received from Mr Former Lady Deputy Mayor Stephen Tall (of this parish) on Lib Dem Voice, Mr Lord Bonkers of Liberal Englandland, Mr Mark Reckons, head of the BBC, Mr Futility Monster and even grudging respect from Hard Labour aligned Next Left, while Mr Lib Dan has some examples of leaders of other Parties who do not have, shall we say, Captain Clegg's adroit touch.

There was more good coverage from the ITV profile broadcast on Tuesday evening, and our manifesto launch this morning was also a big hit, with Captain Clegg giving a confident and informed performance from the podium.

Ah yes, the Liberal Democrat Manifesto Launch… did somebody mention ELEPHANTS!!!

After Mr Frown's Mao-inspired nuclear-families-for-a-nuclear-future handbook…

Sample quote:
"let us go forward together into a future fair for five more years of tractor building"
…and Mr Balloon's Victorian Prayer Book…

Sample quote:
"Our Father, who art in government, give us this day someone to run the public services for us, and forgive us for giving a whopping tax cut to our millionaire chums, because you know we'll forgive ourselves, forever and ever, ee-ton"
…it was nice to have a manifesto with some simple, straightforward policies on the front! Especially one that garnered praise from the Times for basing policy on the science and from the Grauniad for leading on Liberty.

And it's the only manifesto to be FULLY COSTED!

We won't say ANYTHING we CANNOT AFFORD if we are in Government, so you know you CAN afford to have us in Government because we mean what we say!

If the two old Labservative Parties try to say our figures don't add up, you can look for yourself and see that they do!

You cannot see THEIR figures! Why not?

As Daddy Alex asks:
"Are they scared, or have they too much to hide?"
But don't just listen to me, DO go look for yourself!

Adding it all together, there's a growing "quiet confidence" at Lib Dem HQ – under my fluffy guidance, of course – that he's going to perform just as well in the big Live Debate on Thursday.

And to anyone who says Captain Clegg is merely Mr Balloon-lite: only one of them has the courage to face Mr Paxo… so which of them is the lightweight?


Monday, April 12, 2010

Day 3386: DOCTOR WHO: The Beast Below


Hang on a minute! We thought the Big Fish people were doing "Song of the Space Whale"!

Here's Daddy's review:
They do say: "If voting changed anything, they'd drop you down a mile long chute into the belly of a space beast…" or something like that anyway.

This is splatter-gun satire mixed with a punningly literal interpretation of "steampunk": literal in the sense of splicing the steam-age ocean-liner-gone-to-seed look of Starship UK (with its unorthodox and non-technological "engine") with the Sex Pistols. God here being the Doctor, saving the Queen and her loyal fascist regime of smilers and winders.

The satire comes from the cynical use of the "voting booths" to cleanse the population of objectors by feeding them to the whale and in the blunt reminder that – even as heroic companion Amy does – we all choose to forget the nasty things that underpin our own fortunate positions afloat in the first class cabins of the ship of state.

There's also a distinctly Liberal (if covert) pop at arbitrary authority.

We are led to believe that LizTen is the heroic rebel queen, fighting to find out what's being done in her name. She rescues the Doctor and Amy from the smilers, is trying to use the same techniques as he does with the glasses of water and "Basically, I rule" is a tremendously funny double meaning. And Sophie Okonedo does indeed rule as future monarch Liz Ten (and it was nice to see the Demon Headmaster (Terrance Hardiman) finally get his wish to be Prime Minister).

And yet the quickly-glossed-over solution is that she is the villain.

It is on her orders that this system has been set up: enslaving and torturing the space whale; brainwashing and subjugating the people, subverting and denying the real higher authority, the democratic will of the people. Not only is it clear that she has again and again come to the Tower of London and reached the same decision, agreeing with her original plan and wiping her memory so she can continue to live without the guilt, but it also seems apparent that she will make the same choice again. She certainly doesn't look at all like she's going to push "abdicate".

In a sense, it's a shame that the "abdicate" button actually works: the Voting Booth is a lose-lose option: press "forget" and you're a complicit vegetable, press "protest" and you're lunch.

Though equally it's in character for the Queen to give herself the only vote that counts.

But look closely, and you'll see another arbitrary, autocratic authority making decisions for everyone else. Yes, it's the Doctor.

His solution is just as arbitrary and just as much involves taking away other people's choices (in the poor space whale's case permanently).

And let's add to that not a little bit selfish: he could easily free the space whale because he happens to have about his person a vast and powerful time-space machine almost certainly capable of carrying off the human population, and if not all at once then in sections, and can take them to any habitable planet anywhere in history. New Earth might be a good one. And yet he seems more than willing to lobotomise the beast rather than act as taxi-driver for a very short span of his years.

(I know, I know, "use the TARDIS" is ruled out as a solution because it breaks the cardinal rule of fairy stories that the hero has to find the solution where he is, not just be the guy who has it with him, but come on! If ever there was a case for having the baddies chuck the TARDIS overboard to stop the Doctor using it…!)

Unusually, I got to watch this Doctor Who not with my beloved Alex, but instead with my niece and nephew who are ten and nearly seven, so pretty nearly the target audience. They didn't seem to quite get it, ranking it below last week's opener and interestingly comparing it to "Midnight" as a "not very scary one". Now, to be fair that's an 8 out of 10 rather than a 10 out of 10 from the junior jury, but it did get me thinking that a lot of this story is intellectual rather than visceral. The real horror here is that the eponymous monster is not the innocent space whale but in fact our own baser survival instincts: what keeps mankind alive is bestial acts. And that seems to be quite a grown up horror.

Equally, Moffat continues his (on-screen) menacing of children, with key roles for girl Mandy and boy Timmie. Alex was a little disappointed with the "oh, he lives" ending of the whale not eating the children, though for once there was a terribly good plot reason in both the whale's motivation (yes, the space whale actually had a motivation which has to be a first) and the interlinked theme of the Doctor sticking his oar in because he can't bear to see children suffering (and to the thousand-year-old Time Lord, aren't we all children?)

Not that there was nothing here for the children. The Doctor getting the whale to sick up him and Amy (although not exactly consistent with the exterior view of the whale, which appears to have Starship UK on its back but its mouth out in space while the script and the interiors imply the starship is built entirely around the whale) was both brilliant and huge kids fun. And of course there were the smilers.

The smilers were deliciously creepy, though their relationship with the winders was left slightly unclear. Were the smilers clockwork robots like the, er, clockwork robots from Moffat's own "Girl in the Fireplace"? Are the winders supposed to be the people who wind the smilers up? If so, there's been a tiny trim too far in the edit, as we've lost the key scene where we see them do just that. All we do see (smilers that stand up from their booths to look just like winders, a winder whose head rotates to reveal another face just like a smiler) seems to indicate that winders and smilers are one and the same. Which, actually, would be a better reveal than that the smilers are just creepy clockwork robots (again).

That the smilers have three different faces on just two sides of their heads – the kids spotted that – is a nicely underplayed bit of fairy-tale magic. It also may be a subtle clue that unlike in the voting booth, there are more than just two binary choices.

After last week's confusion over the dating – and thanks to Simon for pointing out that Rory's hospital i.d., which can't be more than a few years old, is dated 1990 meaning Amy actually comes from near past – this week goes to the other extreme, not only firmly nailing its colours to the Twenty-Ninth Century mast, but pinning down a long-standing future-history dating question: when are the Solar Flares that we hear about in "The Ark in Space"?

(And the Doctor's rage at the end: "nobody human has anything to say to me today" clearly mirrors and reverses the famous "indomitable" eulogy in the Fourth Doctor's story.)

Or is it the Twenty-Ninth Century? The voting booth identifies Amy as a citizen of the UK and gives her age as 1306.

Interestingly this suggests that either she won't end her travels with the Doctor back in her own time, so the UK government never has a record of her death, or that her date of death is contingent on the TARDIS returning her – that is because she's been taken out of her own time she doesn't have a date of death yet. This latter may be the more likely as it ties thematically to her first statement on leaving the TARDIS that she must herself have been dead for many years. A cheery thought, as the Doctor observes.

But whether 21-year-old Amy comes from the 1990s or from 2010, an age of 1306 puts our landing on Starship UK between 3275 and 3295, i.e. the end of the Thirty-Fourth Century.

That's not a mistake: the Queen is revealed to be over three-hundred years old too, and since she's responsible for capturing and imprisoning the space whale during the Solar Flares that implies a three-hundred year space voyage after leaving the Earth.

Of course the Thirty-Fourth Century does tie in better with the Doctor's dating of "The Ark in Space"'s Space Station Nerva as a product of the Thirtieth Century – so at least humanity's last bolt hole isn't actually built after the planet gets roasted – but even that still slightly overlooks the existence of a Britanicus Base, built in a surviving Georgian mansion, that faces an Ice Age not a firestorm ("The Ice Warriors") and a not-Solar-fried-to-a-frazzle Philippines and Icelandic Alliance during World War V in the year five-thousand (i.e. the Forty-Ninth/Fiftieth Century) ("The Talons of Weng-Chiang" and heavily referenced in Moffat's own earlier stories, particularly the Time Agency of Captain Jack in "The Empty Child"/"The Doctor Dances"). Of course, Moffat got the continuity reference to the Time Agents wrong too (because they're the paranoid fantasy of a deranged war-criminal) so it's not untypical of him to, let's say make the work of the continuity cops harder this way.

While we're on about continuity, the appearance of Magpie Electricals, first seen in Mark Gatis's "The Idiot's Lantern", still trading in the space year three-thousand-and-whatever might seem a little unlikely (what with the sole proprietor having been murdered by an alien in 1953), though no more likely than still selling TV's to Martha Jones in the space year two-thousand-and-whatever, but it does form a nice thematic link from the Coronation in "The Idiot's Lantern" to the Queen in "The Beast Below".

It's clear that Moffat is starting by following Russell Davis "formula" for a Doctor Who series: introduce new companion in the "present day", take her to the future, take her to a celebrity-historical in the past and throw the Daleks at her. The scene at the conclusion underlines this, where the Doctor stands in front of the huge picture window looking out into space and is reconciled with his new human friend and must be a conscious echo of the similar scene at the end of "The End of the World".

There are worrying signs that Moffat may be following Joseph Campbell's ponderous prescriptive mono-myth theory too. If Amy is the "hero" of the mono-myth, then first she is called to adventure (when the Doctor appears to her as a child), refuses the call (she is seen to accept a normal, mundane life both when she falls for the perception filter hiding Prisoner Zero's room and, through her wedding dress, when she choose to settle for presumably Rory – although in itself that's a subversion of the usual patriarchal big white dress as "happily ever after" for the girl hero) before finally receiving the supernatural assistance of her helper/mentor (guess who) and choosing to cross the threshold of (literally crossing the threshold of the TARDIS).

The journey through "the belly of the whale" (or at least across its tongue) is the part where the hero leaves behind the "known" world and begins her metamorphosis.

The most famous devotee of the cult of Campbell is, of course, George Lucas. So that dirty great "Star Wars" quote – standing on the space whale's tongue looking at its teeth – stands out as an enormous warning sign.

Still we only really need to worry if Churchill turns out to be the "wise old man" and River Snog appears as "the goddess" who help Amy to obtain the magic doodad that will save her people / glue the cracks in time back together. And that couldn't happen, could it…

Next Time… "I am your soldier!" Oh that is just awesome; best pastiche of a best-Dalek-line-ever ever! Could this finally be a "Victory of the Daleks"?


Friday, April 09, 2010

Day 3385: General Election Campaign Day Four – Dream On, Lord Adonis


Lord Adonis (presumably he keeps a portrait in his attic of the twisted, scarred and unlovely Lord Hephaestus) has descended from Mount Olympus, since he's not allowed to sully his lily-white hands by actually voting for Hard Labour himself, to beg the Liberal Democrats to do his dirty work for him.

Receiving today's papers in my office in Party Headquarters (all right, sat on a desk in the press office) I heard, how can I put it, a small amount of SCORN expressed.

So I have two words for His Divine Lordship.

And the second of them is STUFFED.

A BIG BIG reason for people to vote Liberal Democrat is because they want someone to FREE THEM from the huge burdens of state bureaucracy and intrusive laws that this Hard Labour Government has imposed on them in a futile (but depressingly heavy-handed) attempt to micro-manage the lives of every single free citizen from Mr Frown's desk in Downing Street.

Think about just SOME of those 4300+ dangerously intrusive and illiberal and unnecessary new laws that Hard Labour has forced through Parliament:
  • The Terrorism Act, imprisonment without trial, Section 44 orders, police harassing people – which they have NO AUTHORITY to do – just for taking photographs;
  • The Criminally Unjust Act, allowing the seizing people's DNA and keeping it forever even if they're never charged or proved totally innocent
  • The I.D.iot Cards Act, imposing checkups on people for just walking the streets;
  • The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, snooping and spying on innocent citizens;
  • and now the Digital Economy Act (cutting off people's internet connections).
It is all part of Hard Labour's NANNY STATE agenda to CONTROL PEOPLE'S LIVES according to some centralised plan rather than just letting them be free to get on with whatever they want to do.

It is a CENTRAL PLANK of Liberal policy to ABOLISH a large chunk of these laws.

It is, I would say, a central tenant of the EXISTENCE of the Liberal Democrats to stand up against a bullying, overmighty, centralising Government that imposes these things.

Lord A hangs his entire thesis on one sentence:
"Unsurprisingly, given their similar values, the two parties share largely similar policies. Apart from the issue of proportional representation for elections to the Commons, where the Lib Dems have an obvious vested interest, and Iraq (a bitter disagreement but now largely behind us), the Lib Dems have not set out fundamental differences of principle with New Labour."
Well, FIRST, I think not ILLEGALLY INVADING other countries is a fairly major difference between us, and not one that we will "put behind us" until Hard Labour puts the people responsible behind bars. (That would be Lord Blairimort and his Cabinet... oh that would include the current Prime Monster... ho hum!)

But secondly there are SUBSTANTIAL areas of policy where we FUNDAMENTALLY disagree.

Let's take, oh, TRANSPORT – Hard Labour want a third runway at Heathrow. It's a shame that Labour's Transport Secretary seems to be ignoring opposition to this potential environmental disaster or he'd have noticed that we have opposed this for longer than any other Party.

Continuing with the Green theme, we OPPOSE Labour's decision to reinvest in atomic power station while all but abandoning Britain's abundant opportunities to create new jobs by harnessing clean, renewable wind energy. (They let our only manufacturer of wind turbines go BUST; Liberal Democrats would invest to re-engineer former shipyards as new wind turbine builders!)

And we have Mr Dr Vince "the Power" Cable who wants to sweep away many of Mr Frown's ridiculously, incomprehensibly complicated taxes and tax credits for his favourite causes and tax loopholes for his rich friends in order to make tax SIMPLER and FAIRER.

So that's the Home Office, the Foreign Office, Transport, Environment, Energy, Trade & Industry, and of course the Treasury (just off the top of my fluffy head) where we COMPLETELY and UTTERLY disagree with Hard Labour's policy and, more importantly their PHILOSOPHY.

We have (repeatedly) laid out the FOUR KEY AREAS for us.

A Fair Start – a pupil premium to invest in education
Fair Taxes – cut income tax by £700 paid for by taxing the rich and polluters
Green jobs – invest in the new economy to boost the recovery
Fair Politics – clean up the corruption, fair votes, get rid of unnecessary laws

So while it seems that we MAY be able to agree with Hard Labour on "A Fair Start for Kids" and "Green Jobs", I think it will be MUCH HARDER for them to agree with us on "Fair Politics" when they have blocked reform for so long.

Remember, Hard Labour colluded with the Conservatories to get the Parliamentary Reform Bill dropped AGAIN!

Re-announcing old broken promises on referendums on voting reform means NOTHING: they've had huge majorities and thirteen years in power


They don't REALLY want to reform the system, because a system that puts all power in the middle with as little scrutiny as possible is WHAT THEY LIKE BEST.

Hard Labour believe that THEY know what's best for people. Liberals believe that PEOPLE know what's best for PEOPLE.

It is NOT our job to tell them, cajole them, bully them or force them to do what WE think – our ONLY job is to enable them to make their own choices as freely as possible.

Liberals believe that freedom means freedom from ignorance – hence our commitment to the best education – AND freedom from poverty – hence our commitment to fair taxes – AND freedom from OTHER people telling them what to do – which means protection from powerful vested interests whether they are big business or big unions or a big Government.

Gods who descend from Olympus are EXACTLY the sort of people we exist to oppose!


Thursday, April 08, 2010

Day 3383: Election Campaign Day Two – Our Tax Promises are BETTER


Wouldn't it be FUN to MOCK Mr Balloon for DROPPING his campaign slogan of the "Great Unwashed Ignored" after just TWO days. Apparently it "doesn't play well"*.

But I can see I'm going to have to explain this National Insurance row, because now the Conservatories are being TOTALLY DISHONEST.

1: they're NOT "reversing" the penny-on-NI "jobs tax": they're just moving the thresholds

2: they're not REALLY saying how they'd pay for it: last week "efficiency savings were mocked as "fiction"; this week they fund a tax non-rise.

3: this does NOTHING to address the REAL problem: the budget deficit problem, i.e. the "the government spends more money than it gets in tax" problem.

Remember, the Government has already borrowed a TRILLION pounds, and they're BORROWING MORE every day.

The Liberal Democrats ACCEPT that because of this crisis we do have to raise a bit more in tax and make substantial cuts in spending.

Mr Frown's, sorry, Chancellor Sooty's solution is to raise that bit more tax mainly through the increase in National Insurance, (especially now they've abandoned the Cider Tax!) and cut down on that spending using those magical efficiency savings.

Liberals don't actually LIKE taxes: taxes HARM people by taking their money away, taking money OUT of the economy…

(another place where Hard Labour are economically illiterate when they talk about a tax cut as "taking money out of the economy" rather than what it really is which is "leaving it IN the economy"; what THEY mean is "taking money out of the TREASURY", but really it's NOT the Treasury's money, is it!)

…but we also think that OTHER things harm people too, things like not having an education, not having decent health, not having decent housing and so on.

So we BALANCE the harm done by taxation against the harms that we get rid of through public spending, and always seek to MINIMISE the tax we need to take (do as little harm as possible).

The National Insurance tax or "NI" was SUPPOSED to be (but never really was) what was there to pay for old age pensions and unemployment benefit. You paid in your contributions and you got paid back out when you needed it.

But that was never really TRUE. You paid money in all right. But it just went into the big pot of tax. The Government paid out pensions and benefits from that pot, but there was no connection between the NI going in and the benefits going out.

REALLY, National Insurance is just another flavour of Income Tax. You pay your "basic rate" of tax at 20% and then your NI at 11%, so really you just pay 31%.

(This is even more true since Mr Frown added that 1% to all payments – meaning that before there was a set contribution that was reduced for people on lower incomes, so you paid 10% of your salary up until you were paying the whole contribution and then you stopped. Because you were paying the full amount. But Mr Frown then said people paying the full amount should pay a whole new tax of 1% on all the rest of their salaries. These people were – obviously – the better off, so it was FAIR. But it would have been more honest to put 1% on the upper INCOME TAX rate, which would have had the same result.)

NI also has a SNEAKY double-your-money bonus built in, because there are TWO contributions: the bit that YOU, the employee pay, and then another bit, an extra 12.8%, that your EMPLOYER pays as well.

So when Chancellor Sooty says he's adding 1p to the NI rate, he REALLY means he's adding 1p to YOUR tax AND 1p to the tax your employer pays.

This is why the Conservatories call NI a "tax on jobs" – because when your employer takes on a new worker, they don't just pay the advertised salary, it actually costs 12.8% – rising to 13.8% next year – MORE for them to employ that worker. That is for every EIGHT people that they employ they could actually afford an extra NINTH person if they didn't have to pay National Insurance.

Of course, the OTHER way of looking at that is that you are actually getting paid 12.8% more than you think you are, but your real rate of tax is closer to 40% than 20%! But you don't hear many bosses of big business putting it that way, and I should go expecting a 10% pay rise from them if NI were abolished tomorrow!

I think it would be simpler and more honest to combine the bit of NI that YOU pay with your income tax into one easy to understand tax. But NO ONE will propose THAT, because you can guess that at least ONE of the other Parties would accuse them of wanting to raise Income Tax to 32% (even though that is really what it is already – or will be from next April).

Anyway WE would RATHER NOT raise NI, but we realise that, thanks to Hard Labour wasting all that money, it has got to be done.

AND we think that it is only HONEST to explain WHAT we are going to cut from spending.

Some of the things we want to cut are EASY to choose, because they are things that Liberals would not want to do anyway: things like the expensive databases need to make Hard Labour's Police Nanny State work, I.D.iot cards, NHS computer systems that don't work and never will, the expensive renewal of the Trident atom bombs.

But after that, there are things that we admit are HARD to choose: things like reducing child tax credits that go to the better off, and not spending money on a child trust fund that could be better spent on a pupil premium to give all kids a fair start; things like restricting pay rises in the public sector to just £400, and like tackling the cost of public sector pensions. You can't pretend that these won't have real impact on real people, but we're being up front about it.

So, we accept that to tackle the deficit you need to cut spending and raise a bit more tax. But we want to be more HONEST about how we make those cuts and we want to be FAIRER about how we raise that tax.

We want to raise tax in a FAIRER way by shifting the burden of taxation from lower- and middle-income earners and on to higher rate taxpayers and polluters.

To do this we want to raise the "basic allowance", that is the bit of your income that you don't pay tax on, to £10,000, cutting the amount of income tax that you pay by £700 a year.

However, our tax policy is "FISCALLY NEUTRAL", which is a posh way of saying that we don't CHANGE the total amount of tax raised: we cut tax for a lot of people by asking a bit more from those who already have a lot.

We'd pay for the tax cut by raising tax elsewhere, mainly taking away some of the tax loopholes that higher rate taxpayers get (like the higher-rate benefit for pension contributions and the lower rate paid on capital gains) and green taxes.

That means we would raise AS MUCH tax as Chancellor Sooty and SPEND LESS – thus cutting the deficit.

The Conservatories have this COMPLETELY backwards: they say that they will SPEND LESS (though they don't say how) and therefore they will raise LESS TAX than Sooty would – meaning that their deficit is AS BAD (or WORSE!) than the UNSUSTAINABLE one that Hard Labour are running.

This is such an important point that I am going to say it again.

The Government already spends MORE than it raises in tax. So if you REDUCE the amount of tax you take, you make the deficit WORSE. Cutting some spending only gets you back to the DREADFUL place where you started: you are STILL spending more than you raise; there is STILL a BLACK HOLE in your spending plans.

LAST week, the Conservatories claimed that their "top priority" was cutting the deficit… until they decided that THIS week their "top priority" was a not-tax-rise; how can you trust what their "top priority" will be NEXT week?

…so we've had a bit of LOOK at what they might do "next week". We've added up all of their SPENDING PROMISES: more spending on the NHS, more spending on the Army, more spending on the bribe for staying married (subject to them actually telling us what that is, policy still not available four weeks out from the election!) and tried to find that Black Hole.

We say that there is a THIRTEEN BILLION POUND gap between what THEY say they'll spend and what they say they'll raise in tax.

And by an UNBELIEVABLE coincidence (©Miss Piggy, again) that is what you would get by putting VAT up to 20%.


But this is what Conservatories ALWAYS do: Mr Sir Gerffey Howe did it when they came in in 1979; Mr Norma "yoghurt pot" Lamont did it to cover getting rid of the Poll Tax. Earlier this year, Mr Fatty Clarke admitted it WAS an option.

Bonkers right-wing-leaning Think Tankity-Tank "Reform" even suggested applying VAT to the traditionally zero-rated areas of CHILDREN'S CLOTHES and FOOD.

Just think about that: we're just out of recession and people are thinking about making FOOD 20% more expensive.

That's not just INIQUITOUS, it's verging on MURDEROUS!

VAT is a DREADFUL tax: it's the ultimate STEALTH tax, added to almost everything you buy but without you seeing it; it's a REGRESSIVE tax, which means that it has the MOST impact on those LEAST able to pay; and it causes INFLATION too, by putting up prices.
If National Insurance is a "Tax on Jobs" then VAT is the Tory "Tax on Being Poor".

Some people have suggested of Master Gideon that he is "very like Mr Frown" (a comparison that would have NEITHER of them saying "thank you"!): this is because he is supposed to be a GOOD strategist, but comes across BADLY.

Obviously this is NONSENSE.

Firstly, they come across BADLY in COMPLETELY different way: Mr Frown comes across badly as a grumpy, misanthropic, monomaniac because HE IS a grumpy, misanthropic, monomaniac, whereas Master Gideon comes across badly as an ignorant out-of-his depth pipsqueak because he IS an ignorant out-of-his depth pipsqueak!

However, the BIGGER objection is that Gideon is some kind of secret Master Strategist™ who has twice pulled of a sensational Game-Changer (©all newspapers): first he pulled the Tax Cut for Dead Millionaires out of his hat and derailed the 2007 General Election-That-Never-Was, and now he has pulled the National Insurance Not-Rise out of his hat and supposedly kicked off a great start to the Election-That-Is.

Well pardon me, but isn't "let's cut tax" straight out of Conservatory Policy 101?

Neither policy is REMOTELY SENSIBLE; neither comes with any real idea of how to pay for it. We've already seen them shilly-shally the Tax Cut for Dead Millionaires from priority to aspiration; how do we know they'll not do the same with NI?

This ISN'T the sort of rabbit-from-a-hat coup de theatre that Mr Frown would pull in his budgets (you know, like cutting the "basic rate" of tax, paid for by doubling the 10p rate of tax…oh); this is just shouting a favourite catchphrase and running for cover.

(And actually HAS anyone seen Master Gideon since the Budget?)

In summary then:

Conservatories offer to fiddle with thresholds so that you pay £150 less in National Insurance next year; Liberal Democrats offer to increase the personal allowance so you pay £700 less in income tax THIS year.

Liberal Democrats' tax promise is BETTER.

Conservatories offer to spend "fictional" efficiency savings on a tax not-rise and don't tackle the deficit; Liberal Democrats have laid out CLEAR and HONEST areas where we will cut spending and get the deficit under control.

Liberal Democrats' tax promise is BETTER.

Conservatories have uncosted, unfunded spending plans which mean they MUST be planning on raising a LOT of tax from somewhere, and it's very probably VAT that hits the least well off the hardest; Liberal Democrats have pledged not to raise VAT for the lifetime of the next Parliament.

Liberal Democrats' tax promise is BETTER BETTER BETTER!

*And this in spite of trying to AIRBRUSH gay daddies into his list of the great ignored after he, er, IGNORED them on his first attempt!