Friday, November 10, 2006

The Weasel Strikes Again

Alan Johnson might be the greasiest of greasy political operators and it comes as a surprise to nobody that he has decided to take himself out of the running for leader of the Labour party. In what can only be described as "careful" language, he has set out his reasons for supporting Brown:

"there was a feeling throughout the party that Gordon Brown is a towering political figure" and "a great intellect"

Why is it a "feeling throughout the party"? Is it not the feeling of Alan Johnson? As always, New Labour statements are more about what they don't say than what they do.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Two Of Britain's Better Political Commentators

Unfortunately they both live and work in the US.

The More Things Change...

A regular column from our American chum.

Well, big news today from your former colonies. The Democrats have taken control of the House and quite possibly the Senate. I am very excited by it, and not because I think much is likely to change. After all, that's the way the system is meant to work. Outside of a supermajority in Congress like the Republicans had after the Civil War, our system is designed to stifle radical change (our founding fathers took the lesson of Athens and the Mytiline debate to heart). And with the razor-thin majority the Democrats won, I don't expect them to be able to make any significant moves.

Rather, I am excitied today because of the shock I expect this will send through the corridors of the White House. Our executive branch was beginning to fancy itself a little bit too much like your executive branch (e.g., HRH ERII). The idea that referendums can occur more than every four years, that power must be shared among three branches and can be reassessed every two years by the people--this is likely an alien concept to Bush & Co. So what will happen today, as they wake up on Mars? Initial platitudes about bipartisanship, of course, but I expect by March we will see fierce and intractable gridlock and deadlock in Washington. Power is never surrendered easily.

Given all the challenges before us--budget deificits, the war in Iraq, rising healthcare and entitlement costs, education, transportation infrastructure, and clearly divisive social issues--many would argue deadlock is the last thing we need. But I would disagree. I will take checks and balances over imperial presidencies any day. We must always remember that when our government can't get anything done, it is working just the way the founders intended. 200 years later, and the system still works--so a great day indeed!

The Minuteman

The Death Of Privacy - Part 2

I didn't have a chance to blog last week, but it was interesting to see the UK Information Commissioner, Richard Thomas, come out and state that we are now in a "surveillance society". I wrote the same thing here a week before his announcement and I agree wholeheartedly. My concern remains that politicians and political parties are too spineless to confront these issues. As with so many issues, there is not a clear party choice for those of us that would like the State to mind its own business.

EU Regulation

The letter that Iain Dale has received from MEP Christopher Beazley on internet TV regulation (here) is precisely the reason that I cannot stand the European Parliament. What a lame, democratically impotent institution it is, populated by turkeys and idiots.

Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics

It comes as no surprise that the government figures given in a question about tattoo removal on the NHS were wrong (see BBC here). It follows a large number of high profile mistakes by a number of departments. The most notable of which was the recent Home Office account of the number of foreign criminals on the loose in the UK. These cases lead to two questions. The first is whether we should take any government statistics at face value and the second is how we ensure suitable oversight. The answer to the first is that all government statistics should be treated with scepticism. The second is more difficult to answer. I think it might be time to put in place a fully funded "Opposition Civil Service". This would be an organisation funded by the tax payer and answerable to Her Majesty's Opposition. They would be experts in their specific fields and would be able to provide the figures that could expose the continually poor data coming from the government. We can no longer leave this oversight role to amateurs and luck.

The Attorney General Must Step Aside

There has been much written on this topic on other blogs and in the mainstream media and I wanted to add my voice to the rising volume of discontentment. The Attorney General cannot and must not have an oversight role in the cash for peerages scandal. He is a direct appointment of the Prime Minister, a man who is at the centre of these allegations. He must recuse himself from any involvement in this prosecution.

Read more at Guido. Check out Angus MacNeil's Early Day Motion here.