Tuesday, 27 February 2007

"You've missed a bit"

18DS must have had second thoughts about calling themselves "the home of the conservative movement": they rewrote that part of their website.

Or they thought they did... but they missed a bit.

So now the page doesn't make sense. Can you be "the home of the conservative movement" and "the home of an antiestablishment movement" at the same time?

Attention to detail boys!
(The picture's one of Gweirdo's BTW)

Wednesday, 21 February 2007

Esperantory: Lesson One.

Apparently, the Tories are ahead of Labour in more than just the latest ICM poll. The general consensus is that Tory MPs are blogging MPs, switched on, wired in, blackberried up and blogging like their majorities depended upon it. Labour MPs, in contrast are reputed as old-school fusty luddites, clanking away on imperial typewriters, writing "letters" and sending "post". Inky of finger and gummy of tongue, the Labourite looks at his Cameroonie counterpart and sees an iMP, Politician 2.0.

Of course, this is all arse. There are plenty of blogging MPs on both sides of the house. Which is great for a cynical, lefty layabout like me cos I can cut parts of the Tory blogs and paste them into my blog to make them look silly.

It isn't hard. It's the language that they use - it's a completely separate tongue from English. Despite having the same Anglo-Saxon, Viking and latin roots as English, it's an animal all of its own: Esperantory.

Esperantory is pitched midway between a Daily Mail editorial and a vicar's sermon. But it's not just the patronising, pulpiteering tone: it has its own grammar, speech patterns, indicators and rhythms. I'm going to take you through a couple of examples.

Nadine Dorries is just the kind of MP that has taken to blogging like a Conservative Deputy Chairman to slopping out. Before I flag up her Esperantory, let's enjoy this choice quote:

Since David Cameron became leader of the Conservative party he has been pressurised by the extreme right and the media into declaring who he is and what he believes in.

(The Bounders! Imagine: there you are, leader of the opposition and you have all these fusty old Tories demanding you tell them what the bloody hell they should be doing! It's enough to drive you to drink. Or dru.... no, that's too easy.)

The prime example of Esperantory on Nadine's Blog comes in a piece on the need for children to have boundaries. She employs a classic Esperantory language pattern - False Reverie (or "FR")FR is best defined as a fond recollection of more innocent times that never actually existed. This is choice Esperantory: "Oh, how it was before this lot got in and destroyed the country".

Nadine takes us back to her childhood:

Imagine this scene. Two teenage girls walking down a street. A Policeman is walking behind, as he was about once every fifteen minutes or so.

Er, once every fifteen minutes? When was this? Where was this? Did Nadine grow up on Oxford Street? I bet even Tony Blair doesn't get a Policeman walking down his street every "fifteen minutes or so".

Now to you, this may just be a laughably bad attempt to play to the "Bobbies on the Beat" Tory element (itself a lesser element of Esperantory). But to me, this is a clarion call - I immediately know I'm in for some prime False Reverie. Mentally, I've made the leap.

Nadine goes on...

One girl swore. The other ducked, to miss the hand she knew would be straight out from behind – it was – it got the girl who swore by the scruff of her coat and marched her down her path to her parent’s front door.

This is classic Opposition Reverie from La Dorries - textbook stuff. She's got three of the big four:
1. the innocence of childhood
2. the uniquitous bobby on the beat
3. a story that ends (implicitly or explicitly) with "... needless to say, my parents were horrified"

It's just a shame she can't work in the remaining member of the big four - a reference to street upon street of unlocked front doors. But in my heart of hearts, I just know that parent's door was unlocked.

Nadine Dorries, Esperantorist extraordinaire, pete salutes you.

As impressive as Nadine's False Reverie is, there is one Esperantory phrase which supercedes all others. When I hear it, I know that, despite Dishy Dave, "hug a hoody", and the "Decontamination of the Conservative Brand", the British Tory is thriving. Shouting at foreigners, quaffing port and generally behaving like an Oxford Undergraduate at a private restaurant party - alive and kicking.

That phrase?

"You Couldn't Make It Up."

Even writing it down gives me a warm glow.

It's a true favourite of the Tories - and well reflected on their blogs. Let me take you through an excellent example.

Richard Spring MP's blog is pretty good really. Alright, it's not really interactive, so it reads like a teenager's diary that has been accidently-on-purpose left out for his parents to read the day before they do the Christmas present shopping, but he goes easy on the moralising.

But on February 8th this year he launched forth on the snow fall that week.

Well, not really the snow *that* week, but a particularly bad snow fall four years ago. Long story short, he got caught in the snow. I know - it's not exactly Lord of the Rings, but bear with me.

For a couple of paragraphs, the story meanders inconequentially and appears to go nowhere. To the unitiated, this looks like just another Tory whinge, but to the expert it is clear that a nice bit of Esperantory is stirring just beneath the tugid surface.

What had happened is that the Highways Agency had neglected to grit the road surface, despite the earlier warnings: allegedly because of windy conditions.

By now the fluent Esperantorist is on the edge of his seat, heart rate rising, cheeks flushing: he knows full well where this is going. When you start recalling paltry excuses made by faceless bureaucrats, you're on a six-lane blacktop to only one place. And Richard takes us there, in fine style, dropping the immortal phrase like it ain't no thang:

You couldn’t make it up.

Now, for me, YCMIU should always be followed by an exclamation mark, purely for stylistic reasons. But otherwise, this is a classic YCMIU: a perfectly common everyday story, a poor excuse from a public service worker, then... BANG:

You couldn't make it up.

YCMIU raises some philosophical questions: its very existence shows that Tories are a cursed people. To so frequently express such childlike surprise from such ordinary events can mean only one thing. They are born with an entirely non-existant imagination.

For them, the very concept of a fictitious story (apart from an election manifesto, or an expenses return) is anathema. Don't make the mistake of thinking that YCMIU is hyberbole or sarcasm - it isn't. They literally cannot make stories up: they're incapable. Hence their disbelieiving incredulity at the most banal events.

Someone once said that if you gave an infinite number of monkies an infinite number of typewriters for an infinite number of time, they would eventually rattle off the complete works of Shakespeare. Not if the monkies were Tory they wouldn't. You wouldn't even get the complete works of Jeffrey Archer.

Many people have criticised Jeffrey Archer's writing, claiming that, despite his stratospheric success at the checkout, he is actually an awful author whose illegible drafts are slashed to pieces and reconstructed by a phantom editor cum ghostwriter. I cannot agree.

The very fact that Archer - Tory through and through - was able to even formulate a story is of amazement to me. That he was able amass an extraordinary fortune through the sale of fiction is for me the equivalent of a deaf Beethoven writing Ode to Joy, more impressive than David Blunkett rising to Home Secretary despite his blindness, more of an achievement than Steve Redgrave's fifth gold.

Jeffrey Archer - fantasist, perjurer and author, pete salutes you.

If you have any other examples of Esperantory, let me know...

Interesting Reads

These are good:

Tuesday, 20 February 2007

How Many "V"s in "Ken Livingstone"?

This is good. Conservative Home are running the following. I think my favourite bit is that he even did the crossword in the search for pro-communist brainwashing. He's nothing if not thorough, this lad... Anywhere, here's the ConHome piece:

Tory Mayoral hopeful Lee Rotherham (well he might be hopeful, but no-one else is - Pete) has written to the Advertising Standards Authority this morning about Ken Livingstone's latest propaganda newspaper:

"Last night, I received a copy of The Londoner magazine unsolicited through my letter box. It is dated March 2007, and can also be found in electronic format on the Mayor’s website.

This purports to provide “news”. On its launch, in a press release the Mayor of London said that, “The Londoner newspaper contains lots of useful information for people who live and work the capital.” (Including such "news" as information on beating diabetes, the London Assembly debates over the provision of free bus travel for pensioners and children and the chance to win a meal with Seb Coe - all clearly some kind of socialist plot)

This morning I discussed the content of the publication with someone who has attended a NATO course in psychological operations (clearly such a high-end spook that his name is top secret), who indicated that it appears to “primarily be a method of providing biased, politically-orientated material for the purpose of supporting the incumbent of the mayoralty.” (obviously said spook is a top-level operative in NATO's top secret anti-mayoral-incumbency division).

In his words (so the last quote wasn't his words?), it is “a publicly-funded propaganda sheet rather than a newspaper in the traditional Western sense of the term” (traditional western sense? Oh I see - it's the old "Ken is a Commie" meme. Would it be churlish of me to label this as "biased politically-orientated material for the purpose of opposing the incumbent of the mayoralty?").

He added, “There is editorial slant, and there is outright political marketing. This is the latter.” (Well, we can't have that now, can we?)

I have forwarded a copy of the paper to an associate, who was a dissident in the former Soviet Union (back to the Ken is a Commie meme, eh?) and spent a number of years imprisoned there, for follow-on comments. (I bet the ASA are sick to the back teeth of those pesky former Soviet dissidents barging in with their tuppence worth. "If that bloody Fyodor Dostoyesky sends one more letter about size zero models on the bus stop at Edgware station...". Still I spose it keeps em in borscht and vodka)

In particular, I draw your attention to the following aspects, drawn from a rapid analysis (trans: I knocked this out in five minutes) :

Name frequency. At a quick count, “Mayor” appears 21 times (21 times! In a Mayoral publication! The CHEEK!) and variants of “Ken Livingstone” appear 10 times. This is a simple trick of repetition for brand recognition. (You're telling me. The Evening Standard pastes its name all over the front page! The other day I was in Westminster, and there, on a little road off Whitehall was a big sign saying "Downing Street"! Bold. As. Brass.)

The Mayor is given five opportunities to provide short in-piece quotes. (In a Mayoral publication! The sheer brass neck of it!)

There are eleven cases where the Mayor is given opportunities to provide lengthy quotes, or where articles directly support stated policy positions. (Supporting his own policies. The naked corruption of it all!)

The lead article on page one would successfully operate as a press release from the Mayor’s office in support of his budget and policies, and acts as a lead to his editorial. (If there's one thing I can't stand it's coherent editing. Pravda have nothing on this lot.)

Key word analysis highlights the following examples of editorial bias in article construction: “vowed” (look at all those v's and w's - a communist word if ever I saw one!), “despite”, (how biased can you get?!) “enjoy” (as in "strength through enjoy", no doubt!), “all” (as an emphatic) (what's wrong with a good, English "just a bit for me"), “advantage” (there's that v again - brainwashing I tells ya!), and “benefit” (saves the best til last - the most communist word in the English language.)

There are some eleven (ELEVEN!!) instances of quotes from third parties (damn those impartial third parties!) being used in a supportive manner; and just one instance of quotes to oppose policy.

Two full pages are bought (BOUGHT! He even charges them! The CHEEK!) by a Mayoral Agency as overt advertising Quangos (Loving the capital Q here). Transport for London gets four name checks (I suppose he'd try to justify that with some spurious "but the article was about Transport for London" argument. BUT WE'RE NOT FOOLED) (one as “Your Transport for London”); three quangocrats (Where's the capital Q gone. Oh well, I don't suppose they deserve it, the turncoat Quisling scum) supply articles.

Our (Oops, bit of a slip into third person there) contention, therefore, is that this publication performs neither the public service role nor the public information role which it pretends.

If there was any doubt about bias (and let's face it, there isn't), 29 Across in the Crossword rather spells out the hidden agenda. It reads, “Fidel Castro’s Island Republic”. (It's Cuba - I checked. And you're not going to believe this - my mate Dave says Cuba's a Communist country! OH MY GOD WE'LL ALL BE RED BY APRIL)

It may be that this falls beyond your remit (trans: I couldn't be arsed to check). I wonder, then, in such an instance if you could tell me from previous experience whether such might fall within the Electoral Commission’s bag? ("Bag" - Brilliant - just when Lee feels it's all getting a bit "heavy", he drops a bit of "jive" to show he "ain't no turkey", he's "sticking it to the man".)

Putting out such strongly biased material during a policy consultation period may be in breach of the law in its own right. (trans: I checked the relevant statute but it was full of long words n stuff)

Yours faithfully,
Lee Rotherham.

What Lee forgets to mention:

1. That he's a Tory mayoral hopeful (is this catching?)

2. That the offending publication is paid for out of public money. The anti-Ken Nato spook spots it - nothing gets past anti-Ken Nato spooks, I'd wager - but Lee doesn't. Which is a shame, because it is kind of the point of his letter.

Oh well. At least we've got the ASA's reply to look forward to.

Lee's book, "101 Blatantly Commie Words In The English Language" is in all good bookshops now.

Saturday, 17 February 2007

Not a happy customer

Iain Dale's not happy.

He has complained about part of the post "Fox News for Adults" below. He was concerned that one sentence, taken out of context, could be "almost libelling" him.

I am happy to have made amendments.

I have changed the offending sentences in order to clarify its meaning. The red bits in the post are the bits I have added. Nothing has been removed.

For the record...

I was not suggesting that Iain Dale had broken any existing rules in regard to party funding.

I was suggesting that Iain Dale has a past record of representing a Conservative Association who were in receipt of extensive targetted funding from millionaires.

I was suggesting that the non-state funding option that Iain Dale advocates would give millionaire party funders an undemocratic hold over British politics.

I was suggesting that that this he has a pertinent interest to declare when he is commenting on party funding on various Tory blogs and Internet TV stations.

I was suggesting that he has never done this.

Hope this is OK Iain!

If you want to read what Iain said to me, and my reply, check the comments in the post below.

Incidentally, John Angliss's blog is really good...

Thursday, 15 February 2007

Those 18 Doughty Street Sources

I thought I'd look into the sources used for the 18 Doughty Street attack ad on Ken Livingstone... Guess what I found?

A load of old cobblers, that's what.

I'm not even a particularly strong supporter of Ken, but having to wade through 18DS's piss-poor attempt at an "attack advert" ("oooh, look at me, I'm the new Karl Rove") just wound me up.

So, here they are, those "sources" in full:

1 Taxi Bill
'Yesterday morning, for the second time in a month, Ken Livingstone took a 234-mile taxi trip home from Blackpool to London. The journey took more than four hours and the fare was £260, charged to council-tax payers through the Greater London Authority (GLA).’
SOURCE HERE - Daily Telegraph Article.
Price of First Class Ticket London - Blackpool £173.50 (www.nationalrail.co.uk)

X3 passengers = £520.50
... or almost exactly twice the price of the cab.

2 Share of Council Tax up
‘In 2000/01, the average cost of the Mayor to a Band D council Taxpayer was £123 a year for each household. This year, it is £289 (an increase in cash terms of 135%). Next year, it will be over £300.’
Source = Victoria Borwick, prospective Conservative candidate for Mayor 2008. Couldn't find an impartial source boys?
Other sources including the London Evening Standard suggest an even higher increase of 147%.
Source = London Evening Standard, unsuccessful litigant against the Mayor 2006; currently running long-winded "Get Ken" campaign (see Standard editor Veronica Wadley's article on Ken Livingston, Febraury 24 2006 [not online])

3 Traffic speeds static and cost up
‘When it comes to road user charging, the essential trade off for motorists is that a charge is paid in exchange for a quicker journey. Unfortunately, the Mayor has dropped his side of the bargain, with the average speed in central London the second lowest on record since 1968.’

Source = Angie Bray, Conservative GLA Member, Conservative PPC.

Click through to Department for Transport: Dead Link

4 London is now less safe than New York

According to the survey of 18 of the EU’s 25 countries, London was more dangerous than Istanbul or New York.

Policing is a joint responsibility of the Mayor and the Metropolitan Police Authority. MPA's political representation is: 4 Tory Members, 4 Labour Members, 1 UKIP (One London) Member, 1 Green Member.

5 Not visited London’s 10 borough’s since re-election:

This was revealed when Andrew Pelling, a member of the London Assembly asked him about his visits to London boroughs.

Misleading. The question asked about visits "as mayor" - i.e. official visits.
According to that list, he has visited Brent once since 2004.
Ken Livingstone lives in Brent.

6 Trip to Cuba

‘Ken Livingstone's botched trip to Latin America cost Londoners more than £35,000, he has admitted. It cost £19,051 in flights and hotel bills for the Mayor and four aides to spend six days in Cuba, during which he spent around 30 minutes at an Olympic conference.’

Source = Evening Standard, published less than three weeks after that newspaper lost a High Court case against Ken Livingstone.
The paper does not quote any sources for the statistic.
The trip to Cuba was in response to an invite from Lord Moynihan, former Conservative Sports Minister, to an international Olympics convention.

7 Party to celebrate 50 years of Cuban revolution

‘Ken Livingstone is planning a "massive festival" across London to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Fidel Castro's Cuban revolution. Although the Mayor's office refused to provide budget estimates, it could cost up to £2 million.’

Source = Evening Standard. Subsequently shown to be untrue: http://www.london.gov.uk/view_press_release.jsp?releaseid=10289

8 Al-Qaradawi is the strongest force for the modernisation of Islam

“Unbelievably, Mayor Livingstone asserted in the question period that Yusuf al Qaradawi was the “strongest force for modernization of Islam - he is the future of Islam.”

First person report on heart-on-its-sleeve US conspiracist-conservative blog.

Today's headline
story, for example, lists all the recent shooting incidents of people with muslim surnames in the US and asks, without any evidence whether they are part of jihad:

"Talovic joins an unfortunately growing list of Muslims who have committed random acts of violence, only for officials to assure us that their actions have nothing to do with terrorism. Maybe none of them do, but the list is full of troubling details..."

Nutjobs one and all.

9 Qaradawi describes suicide bombing against Israel as duty

‘Recently he told Al-Jazeera that he was not alone in believing that suicide bombings in Palestinian territories were a legitimate form of self defence for people who have no aircraft or tanks. He said hundreds of other Islamic scholars are of the same opinion. In this respect, he is very much in tune with what the vast majority of people in the Arab world believe. Defending suicide bombings that target Israeli civilians Sheikh A-Qaradawi told the BBC programme Newsnight that "an Israeli woman is not like women in our societies, because she is a soldier.’
Finally, what appears to be a fair source... but its a bit pointless, given the weakness of the source in point 8.

10 Qaradawi supports severe punishment for homosexuals
"Almighty Allah has prohibited illegal sexual intercourse and homosexuality and all means that lead to either of them. This perverted act is a reversal of the natural order, a corruption of man's sexuality, and a crime against the rights of females. Muslim jurists hold different opinions concerning the punishment for this abominable practice. Should it be the same as the punishment for fornication, or should both the active and passive participants be put to death? While such punishments may seem cruel, they have been suggested to maintain the purity of the Islamic society and to keep it clean of perverted elements."
Yes, but Ken Livingstone doesn't support severe punishment, does he? See also point 8.

11 Bob Crow’s support for a Communist party candidate.

‘RMT rail union leader Bob Crow praised the Communist Party's candidate in Pontypridd, Robert Griffiths, as 'a champion of workers' rights and an internationalist who is implacably opposed to Blair's wars' last night (Tuesday).’
Bob Crow is a Communist? Well I never...

Crow supported a Communist in Pontypridd, but Ken Livingstone didn't, did he?

Besides which, according to the Telegraph, "Mr Crowe and the brothers are the arbiters of London's transport. Ask any commuter."

12 Invited him to the board of TFL ‘Both Steve Norris, the Tory candidate for Mayor, and Liberal Democrat Simon Hughes said they would remove Mr Crow from the TfL board if elected to power. He was only backed in the post by Mr Livingstone.’
Yes, but they weren't elected to power, were they? Why not? Because Bob Crowe has control of the RMT and could shut down the transport system whenever he wanted. Dialogue with him is annoying but necessary.

13 Has spent £100 million of Londoner’s money on self publicity and policy propaganda. ‘There is already much evidence of waste: spending on publicity by the Mayor and his various quangos has been estimated at over £100 million a Year (nearly as much as was spent by the Labour Government in its first Year in office); staffing costs at City Hall have nearly trebled from £12 Million in 2000/01 to £33 million in 2005/06.’

Source: Victoria Borwick, candidate for Conservative Mayoral Nomination 2008.

That source list by category:
2 Conservative politicians
1 American nut-job blog
1 Right-wing newspaper with an avowed campaign against your subject (including one report which has been shown to be untrue)
1 Dead link
4 sources which, though fair representations, fail to relate to - or deliberately misconstrue - the point 18 DS are making.

All in all, completely Fair and Balanced then.

If 18DS wanted to have a crack at Ken, they could have spared a hell of a lot of time and simply linked to his wikipedia page, which spells out far more than 18DS's cack-handed attempt.

BTW, I'm not even saying that all of 18DS's allegations are untrue, just that a first year undergraduate could have done a better job in sourcing them.

It's the arms trade next week. They can't balls that up, can they? Eh? Oh.

Still, I'm particularly looking forward to how they deal with the tricky connection between Al-Yamamah and Mark Thatcher...

I left a comment on the 18 Doughty Street site, drawing their attention to the "deficiencies" in the sources. Unfortunately, they don't seem to be able to publish my comment. Strange, isn't it, that nearly all the comments on 18DS are positive, while on Iain's blog (which to his credit, he doesn't appear to have censored) most of the comments are, well, pretty negative really.
I hope I haven't offended the nice boys at 18DS...

***EDIT 2***
I stand corrected. My comment on the 18DS site highlighting the problems with their sources is now up.

Wednesday, 14 February 2007

Attack ads - THIS is how it's done...

Those were the days...

Tuesday, 13 February 2007

"Fox News for Adults"

I want to talk about Iain Dale and 18 Doughty Street.

Two of their campaigns really get my goat - the anti Ken Livingstone drive and the anti-state funding drive.

I'm not going into the details of Iain Dale's Ken Livingstone campaign, read this from Tim Ireland, which sets it out perfectly. In short: Ireland criticises Dale for his coverage of the Smith Institute/Sith (delete as politically relevant), because Iain Dale is a trustee of Policy Exchange; Policy Exchange being the Tory's version of the S(m)ith - a registered charity with a party political slant. Iain Dale is a trustee of the Policy Exchange. So is Nick Boles. Who has applied to be Mayor of London. See the connection? 18 Doughty Street don't... and haven't made any declaration of interest. "Politics for adults" turns out to be not much more than a, well, Fox News Lite.

The issue here is most definitely declarations of interest. Or rather the lack of.

Which leads me onto the Dale/18DS state funding campaign.

18DS's next attack ad is on Livingstone. The last was on State Funding. In it, three MPs from the major parties discuss a forthcoming election. (You can tell which party they're from - they have coloured rosettes: it might be politics for adults, but it's not politics for particularly bright adults) Anyway, they sit in a suitably swanky restaurant and discuss how to swindle the costs of the next election out of the British Public, while at the same time inferring that they are pocketting the cash and planning to emigrate. Not exactly a reasoned argument. Not exactly "politics for adults".

What the ad doesn't mention is another of Dale's undeclared interests: that immediately before his last election campaign, his constituency association received generous funding from Lord Ashcroft. This was legal and in no way breached electoral law. Nevertheless, between the time that Iain Dale was selected as a Potential Parliamentary Candidate and the calling of the 2005 General Election, Iain Dale's constituency assocation was funded by a millionaire who applied an unprecedented level of financial leverage to a UK General Election Campaign: a feat he would be unable to repeat in a state-funded environment.

This is a pertinent and important fact and shapes any interpretation that can fairly be made of Iain Dale's campaign against State Funding. Needless to say, he doesn't mention it.

At the last election, Iain Dale stood in North Norfolk for the Conservatives. His was one of the constituencies chosen to be funded by Lord Ashcroft's Bearwood Corporate Services.

Now if you're not familiar with Lord Ashcroft, the biog is something like this (better be careful, he's somewhat litigious): brought up in UK and Belize, makes millions, donates millions to Tory Party. Offered a peerage by William Hague in 2001 on the condition that he took British citizenship (he had uncharitably been dubbed a "tax exile" up to that point) Ashcroft quipped back "only if I can be titled Lord Ashcroft of Belize".

His support for the Conservative Party during the 2005 General Election was unusual: Ashcroft chose the seats into which the money was donated. One of which was Iain Dale's North Norfolk campaign.

I raised this with Dale last week, and he made some valid points (at 5.27 and 5.59), particularly in correcting me that the money was not direct campaign funding, but that it was donated before the campaign - i.e before Parliament dissolved for the election.

He made some weaker points too: on Ashcroft's procedure for selecting the seats he would support, he said (5.40pm):

The seats were analysed according to which seats needed the most support. Seats which had adequate funding did not receive any. All candidates had to submit a properly costed business/campaign plan and they were analysed on that basis.

This is pretty unlikely, not least because the Cities of London and Westminster - one of the richest constituencies in Western Europe and true blue since time immemorial - was also Ashcroft/Bearwood funded. It also contradicts the evidence given by Peter Bradley at the Constitutional Affairs select committee hearing into party funding in 2005 (although as a Labour MP unseated by Tory using Bearwood funding, I accept that he's hardly a disinterested observer):

(Bearwood and others using the same method) contributed over £1.3 million to what I have identified as three categories of constituency:
— those Labour and Liberal Democrat seats they aimed to win in 2005;
— those Labour and LD seats they aim to win at the next election; and
— Conservative marginals they were defending in 2005.

Dale went on "He bypassed CCO because he rightly thought that the money would be wasted."
Aside from the fact that a Tory PPC thinks a donation to the Tory party would be a "waste", I think Dale's comment here is the biggest indictment of the Bearwood model.
Why should a millionaire dictate how parties are run? Who were the voters of Norfolk North (or the Cities of London and Westminster, or any of the other dozens of constituencies that Bearwood and others funded) actually voting for - the Conservative candidate or the Bearwood candidate? To whom do they look to for representation? To whom does the candidate look to for direction - his party or his funder? What is the point of political parties at all if they are simply used as a vehicle to further the political opinions of the super-rich?

This pattern will continue. According to Lord Ashcroft, the results of the 2005 General Election funding model were pleasing:

"it soon became clear that we had been wasting neither our time nor our resources. Of the 33 candidates who won seats from Labour or the LDs, no fewer than 25 had received support from the fund that I had set up"
(Lord Ashcroft, "Dirty Politics, Dirty Times", p.295-6)

So, in other words, expect more of the same. A lot more.

State funding is a deeply flawed option. It will almost certainly be criticised for costing too much. It will take funds away from elsewhere. It will require civil servants to implement it. It will, no doubt, be inefficient at some point in its implementation. And, sin of sins, it may need to be paid for out of tax. But it is the least worst option.

Critics of of state funding inevitably point to cash for peerages as an example of the venality of politics. But they miss the point: the cash for peerages scandal is what happens when you increase public scrutiny of the political system. Parties have always given their donors peerages (**looks up page**). It has come to light because it is only recently that it has been provable. We need more of this. State funding would give us more.

State funding would be the subject of unparalleled scrutiny precisely because it is so controversial. It would be a further illumination of one of the dark spaces of British politics.

On the other hand, more private funding = more private funders. More hidden agenda. More debasing of politics.

Whatever you think of state funding, remember that there are vested interests speaking vocally and that they aren't declaring those interests.

It is not as cut and dried as Iain Dale or 18 Doughty Street make out. Not by a long way.

The Ken Livingstone attack ad is now up on the 18DS website. The link to it on Iain Dale's site is attracting some criticism of the "sources" used for the "facts", but no declaration of interest...

Picture my surprise.

Tuesday, 6 February 2007

Envy. Resentment. Hissing.

Labour are on the ropes, with a police investigation nearing its end, a Charities Commission investigation starting up and a complicated leadership changeover looming. If there was an election tomorrow, would Dishy Dave be marching into Downing Street? And if he were, would kind of party would stand behind him?

If only there was a place where you could gauge the true values of the Conservative Party membership. Well, there is. The Tories are by far the most internet-savvy of the British parties. On Conservative Home, Iain Dale's Diary and Guido Fawkes, they tippety-tap away to their heart's content. So, are Dave's Tories really the touchy-feely Compassionate Conservatives they would have us believe?

In what I intend to be a regular snapshot of true blue life, I'm going to post a heavily-edited and completely partisan selection of the tastiest chunks of Tory blogs' comments sections.

So here's the first edition. Apologies if the lack of punctuation and grammar makes the stuff below rather hard to read. But as with the Canterbury Tales (like the Tories, another example of a superannuated British throwback) you really have to read them in their original form to get the true sense of what is being said.


Comments on Iain Dale’s Quotes of the day...
Verity said...
Quite good quotes today. I'll drink to the first one, especially. In fact,I am. A bit early, but it's Sunday.
10:55 PM
Kicking of the list is true Tory style. You can practically hear her eyeing up the houseboy... Marvellous stuff old girl! Trebles all round!

Comments In Iain Dale’s post on a Slough Teacher sacked for saying “Most Suicide Bombers Are Muslims...”
nobody said...
As always with these affairs there is a sub-text.In this case it is: young black liberal deputy head against old fart Christian (with no legal leg to stand on, tyrannised by vengeful 12 year-olds who couldn't manage to get him on a molesting charge.Since there is no clarity on what was actually said, and in what context, that part is irrelevant.What is relevant is that this kind of victimisation, of older white Christian men is now apparently ok.No doubt, had he been gay, or black, or a muslim, a similar comment would have been applauded.In this era, the BBC can be "hideously white". The Gay Police Association can openly promote religious hatred and Men can be incarcerated on the word of any woman who cries rape (under a cloak of anonymity). Muslims can openly call for the overthrow of our laws and cry "victim" every time one of them is arrested.Strange, that, since all suicide bombers ARE Muslims, and now, Muslims ARE the ones killing each other in Palestine, Baghdad, Lebanon, Afghanistan......
12:07 AM
Interested in meeting posters like "Nobody"? The National Organisation for the Protection of Racist Old Lushes (NO-PROLE) has a branch near you...

Vienna Woods said...
The UK really has to change direction away from the idea of integration and start taking control of its schools and institutions instead of allowing minorities to dictate policies at lower levels. It might not be so very democratic, but it certainly makes sense.
Too bally right Vienna! Remember Cawnpore!

On Iain Dale's post on the release of Jimmy Carter's Diaries
Verity said... (Her again... I'm not picking on her, she just comes up with the "best" quotes)
4:35 AM (Bloody hell, I bet she's had a few...)

Americans have their Constitution and their Bill of Rights and could never have been taken over by the nazis at No 10. It could never have happened in the United States, which has checks and balances that everyone, in both parties, respects,
She's got a point ... who could imagine a despotic far-right government in the White House? Inconceivable!... bit light on lefty-bashing so far though, which she makes up for in fine style...
which you malign, spiteful little British lefties loathe so much and if anyone offered you a Green Card you would be over there slavvering all over them. You cheap little mind-control wannabee. It's all about jealousy. Envy. Resentment. Hissing.
"Envy. Resentment. Hissing." Would work rather well as the title of the next Tory Manifesto...

Comments on Guy Fawkes' Post "DD says no 2 ID"
Tuscan Tony said...
I would be 100% pro fully open borders once the welfare state is dismanted to avoid any misunderstanding as to why people come to the UK - the views of a racist? I also have noticed that those baying loudest for the admission of the trash of the world to England are not those who have to cut the cheque for it, me hearty. It may be unfashionable in this strange nulab period but in my last 4 years in Blighty I paid more tax than average Joe Public pays in a lifetime, the family all the while on BUPA, so for some odd reason I feel I shouild have more odf a say, than someone who beetles down to labour exchange once a fortnight to collect some of my hard earned cash forcibly anbd involuntarily taken from me. Would be interesting to see what happened if voting power was weighted in favour of net economic contributors, rather than allowing people to vote themselves pay rises and benefits - a sort of latter-day Scargill mentaility that seems to be enjoying a resurgence, incidentally.
Too right. Country's gone to the bally dogs since the Great Reform Act.

I'm No Racist But...... said... (I say, do you think he is a racist?)
Yes but none of this solves the problem of the enemy within. No point culling Asylum Seekers unless we also root out the home grown Islamic Extremists, which is most of'em, and expel/cull/curry them too!
9:02 PM
Curried extremists all round!

On Guido’s post “that was the week that was
Juan de Jáuregui said...
Paah! The Officers of the British Army are just another bunch of wet Oxbridge educated limp noodles. The Lib Dem Party in fancy dress. We'd need a coup mounted by the NCOs before we'd get anywhere. Bring on the Daily Mail readership I say. Slightly better than Cromwell, but not a patch on Pinochet. Come to think of it, what is the General doing these days? Lee Kwan Yew is retired too isn't he? Hmmm, I can see a new Cabinet forming. And the best bit is the Guardian will have to support them because they are from the Third World.
11:18 AM
He's got noodle, this chap! A Daily Mail Defence Force! Obviously, not a patch on Pinochet, but then, who is?

More to come as and when ...

Iain Dale has turned on his comment moderation. Not, as you might guess, because of phrases like "the nazi's at No.10" or "all suicide bombers ARE Muslims" or even "taking control of [our]schools and institutions instead of allowing minorities to dictate policies".

No, because someone used "the C word".

Naughty Tories!

There's no "ID" in "Policy"

Hat Tip - Beau Bo D'or

In a series of letters to Whitehall bigwigs, David Davis has pledged that the Tories would roll back ID card legislation should they get into power.

Stephen Pollard sums up the political reasoning behind this in breathy tones:

has reiterated the Conservative Party's stance in favour of individual liberty versus the state; he has undermined the chances of ID cards being successfully introduced under Labour by indicatingthat he might, as Home Secretary, overturn contracts with commercial organisations, thus introducing a crucial new element of risk; he has helped the Conservative Party in its key task of drawing in potential LibDem voters; and he has given the Conservative troops a morale boost by sticking to core principles.

Unfortunately, the truth is that this is another example of the Tories looking around for a policy (any policy) and via the path of least resistance settling on the easiest headline grabber.

ID Cards themselves are little more than the front end of the state's attempts to track citizens. They would be meaningless without the national ID database, DNA database, CCTV infrastructure and plans for cross-Whitehall database sharing.

Look closely at Davis's letter to Cabinet Secretary Gus O'Donnell again:

"As you will be aware, the Conservative Party has stated publicly that it is our intention to cancel the ID card project immediately on our being elected to government. You are now formally on notice of our position and fully appraised of the contingent risks and associated liabilities arising from the national identity card scheme."

Davis is careful to frame the Tories' position around the cards themselves. There is no mention of the other facets of the ID project. Thus, if elected to office, the Tories could retain the databases, but reject the national roll-out of the physical card (except to immigrants, presumably).

In practical terms, this is like the Competition Commission cracking down on Tesco by restricting the use of loyalty cards.

However, as a piece of politics, it is deft. It speaks to all corners of Cameron's big tent while at the same time stealing some Yellow Thunder. It has the added benefit of throwing a spanner in the works of a flagship Labour policy.

The problem is, it might be too deft. In the event that commercial organisations are scared off the project, it may well come to pass that the ID cards scheme is scrapped by Labour before the next election.

In which case, the Tories will be left scrabbling around for another policy that will grab a few headlines and then fade quietly from view.

Patients' Passport anyone?