Friday, 21 May 2010

Goodbye to All That

Angels are off to look at other worlds.  You may like to look too.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Leaving Home

There are days when the world is rigged against an Angel.  Setting off I have:

 - found a cache of clean clothes I had run through the machine last night, which should be in the case, hanging secretively behind the bathroom door.

-  packed all the story books in the hold bag and now have nothing to read for hours.

-dropped the lavatory cleaner, cap and all, into the loo while performing the ordered ritual of 'leaving the house'.

I haven't even set foot in the street yet, never mind faced volcanic clouds.  Sob.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010


Women with long, slender legs can cross them and uncross them at will and how they like.  There is a sound rule for the rest: 

cross your ankles and only your ankles and, even then, only if you cannot control yourself enough to sit with your feet uncrossed and gracefully placed on the floor - both of them, side by side or one slightly behind the other for an occasional shift in position. 

Women who are not wearing men's clothes should follow the rule and stop displaying fat thighs, in cheap tights, crossed above the knee.  And yes the cheapness of tight can be spotted from a distance, and through a television camera.

And sit up straight while speaking to others.  Or stand up; which has the great advantage of taking the attention off fat legs, except for the truly gross.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Abolish the House of Lords

The House of Lords should be abolished.  Presented as a revising Chamber that undertakes detailed scrutiny of government legislation, and as a restraint upon the near dictatorial powers of the Executive, particularly those of the prime minister of the day, its true role is obscured.  The House of Lords is really a contributor to the overweening power of the prime minister.

Its members are appointed by the prime minister to reward compliance in political life; specifically in the Commons but also in all and everyday compliance, through every political act and utterance in the country at large, and within various levels of Party activity, as well as in all media interactions.

Any role the Lords might have or attempt to exert  to constrain the Executive is negated both by the simple expedient of creating more peers in the appropriate political mode, and by the (slightly more democratic) argument that unelected representatives should not over-rule those who are elected.

Its activities as a revising chamber can readily be undertaken by Commons committees.  The Lords does not play a role as a federal chamber balancing  non-homogenous  federated state representation (though that is one of the functions of second chambers in some jurisdictions); the occasional reconfiguration of the Commons as an English Parliament sitting for English affairs  would meet the need for such a body to match the Scottish parliament, the Welsh, and Northern Irish Assemblies, but the Commons alone should serve as the elected Parliament of the United Kingdom most of the time, as it does now.

Nor does the House of Lords provide technical and specialist skills, especially now that the Law Lords sit there no longer, of any greater competence than the Commons can muster.  And if such specialist skills are required they can be bought in as temporary adjuncts to Commons' committees.

The existence of a second chamber always limits the effectiveness of direct democracy and our second chamber is notably pernicious in this.  Mr Cameron has given up the prime ministerial bludgeon of choosing when to dissolve the parliament, in abolishing the Lords he can end the undemocratic persistence of defeated political elites continuing to advocate and represent policies rejected by  the electorate.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Changing Labour

It's not which of the Milibands that matters.  What needs addressing is the Scottish Labour party, its policies and practices or, that is,  an uncleansed  Scottish Labour party. Neither Labour, specifically, nor the United Kingdom, more generally, can have such an organisation unreformed playing any role in our politics.   Labour needs to hold a very public inquiry into Scottish Labour, and the leadership election should address this requirement.

No democratic, pluralist and UK-wide social democratic party can have something like Scottish Labour involved with it. It's unsafe for the whole of the country, as the defeated regime has shown.

Who Are These People?

Locking school pupils into schools from morning to night is still the unpleasant mindset of the left-overs of the Labour regime.  Any excuse will do but forcing school dinners down people's throats in the name of nutritional purity remains a favourite - after all, there are so many pleasing side effects: jobs for jobsworths (the idea of government employees spying on queues at local cafes to 'observe' what was bought is nauseating); payments for 'nutritional analyses' (doubtless from sprouts of pseudo third sector businesses); directors of yet more quangos (at least two are served up in the article) pontificating on the wickedness of chips and other olefactory pleasures.

Then there are the pressures from the enforced socialisation brigade - eat with the people you are studying with or starve, which is merely an extension of -  study with the people allocated to your age cohort  and locality or read under the covers with a torch to acquire any learning at all. Particularly repellent was the expressed view that if a family hands lunch money to younger members it should be force-fed into the school-provided canteen which, unsurprisingly, has led to delaying lunch until quarter to four for those who are not on free school dinners.

The boast that some schools have 'negotiated' arrangements (what threats came from local authority licensing departments, and the council's elf'n'safety cadres?) that local eateries should refuse service to school students  are exemplars of inappropriate and intrusive attitude to the lives of others.

Cuts needed?  Start with these people.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Welcome to the Sunlit Uplands

It took the whole electorate but  we separated the government of the country from self-identification with the state.  Government has returned to being powerful but not permanent.  We even have a Department of Education again.  And although a particular theory of history as being the product of interacting and impersonal forces rather than the actions of individuals has suffered a blow, we are rid of some remarkably pernicious individuals' influences on our fortunes.  Our objective economic circumstances have not changed but the people dealing with them at government level are competent and, crucially, willing to be advised by the pragmatic and technically skilled.

Various assaults on our claims to pass through our lives privately, pursuing our idiosyncratic interests, are being abandoned and dismantled.  Our data will not be wiped from the half-completed state and 'lost'  data bases, but at least there is an end to any further collection, and what are held are held sufficiently incompetently for there to be a real expectation of the whole shebang falling into disuse.

The Commons has been offered a lifting of one of the greatest powers over its whipped membership - the threat of forcing every member to face re-election unless they do as the Executive tell them to do - and while they are having a passing difficulty in understanding this they will get the idea eventually.

We are to have an elected second  chamber.  Angels would like to see the entire current Lords required to stand for election, alongside any new candidates but, short of that, the withering away of the placemen and troughing party hacks will have to do; at least a start will have been made.  Perhaps the current House of Lords could be bodily removed to a purpose-built heritage museum and the elected Senate installed in Westminster.

The bringing into use of all the machinery of devolved government, particularly between Scotland's parliament and the federal Westminster parliament left even Alex Salmond looking gob-smacked.  Ending the use of Scotland as a Labour party Westminster support system will be immensely beneficial in both countries, and for the United Kingdom as a whole.  Damaging to the Labour party, certainly, but do we care?

Best of all, the progressive alliance that we all knew existed in our country has turned out to be a centre right progressive alliance -   our old, dear friend One Nation Conservatism survived and has been found thriving,  welcomed back by over 60% of us.  The Labour party's renewal will be welcome too, and interesting, once the brace of Milibands and the lowering threat of unenlightened trade unionism has been seen off.  Some of Angels' best friends are social democrats and there are many examples of egalitarian and socially inclusive governance the electorate may prefer when it is able to be offered by a reformed and democratised Labour party.

Normal service has been resumed.

Friday, 14 May 2010

Pandora and the British Constitution

A head of state whose constitutional role is to be above politics isn't a lot of use with coalition politics and fixed term parliaments.  Of course being above politics is a necessary veil to draw over the immodesty of hereditary monarchies wielding temporal and spiritual power. 

If we are to have the new politics we'll need a better, democratic, mechanism for choosing who should be invited to attempt to form an administration after a vote of confidence has been lost.   The misrepresentation of constitutional duty and responsibility inflicted upon us last week by a defeated party leader won't do in the future, any more than it did recently.

Once we choose not to end a Parliament with a lost no confidence motion - a wholly proper and democratic choice, though unfamiliar in our constitutional practice - then we must have a proper and democratic means to determine who gets next go.

We could consult the Italians whose fixed term parliaments are much enlivened by the fluidity of the coalitions operating within them.  We would be fortunate indeed to elect ourselves a president as admirable as President Napolitano but, over time and with practice, we would learn to avoid the more corrupt of our older politicians and recognise  the best of our statesmen.  It would be helpful, too, to provide an elected Upper House for our Parliament, a sort of training ground  for the highest office where years of service in a revising and tempering role would reveal who was wheat and who chaff, for no politician could go straight from the political battles and naked animosities of the Commons  into the statesman status that confers eligibility for head of state.

All this would need a constitutional court with clear and universal accessibility, and to which the head of state could turn for interpretive advice and confirmation.  There is no need to codify the entire constitution and lose the joys and subtleties of its infinite flexibility, just a touchstone, so to speak. 

We could keep the monarchy as well, but more for the expression of national emotions than for the wielding and transmission of power; a necessary  separation  of monarchy's two roles: a wholly mystical depository of  the idea of nationhood; and an efficient embodiment of the power of the state and proper access to it.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Was Any of It Worth It?

The latest figures on the distribution of income and the extent of relative poverty in the UK, covering 2008-09, will be published next Thursday.  The Institute for Fiscal Studies will be commenting on the figures, and recent trends in poverty and inequality in the United Kingdom, immediately after their release and will then be releasing a fuller report the next day, 21 May, on:

- how average incomes and the gap between rich and poor in the UK changed during the first full financial year of the recession;
- whether the rise in child poverty between 2004-05 and 2007-08 continued for a fourth year, or whether the increased generosity of benefits and tax credits for families with children led child poverty to fall;
- whether pensioner poverty has fallen during the current recession, just as it did in past recessions.

Dragging the entire population into the tax credit maw while levying high tax rates on the relatively less well off was a central plank of New Labour's socioeconomic policies.  These figures and the IFS take on them will be a judgment on Labour.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

The Man in Silken Stockings

Constitutional change following upon this profound shift in political practice must come soon.  Straight away by-elections are going to be most peculiar without a party list system to enable voters to choose first their party, and then the candidate within the coalitions embodied in their party.  But party list systems belong with proportional representation, which itself calls for centralised political parties remote from local choices.

We need a constitutional court to test the constitutional validity and propriety of politcal actions and polticians' attempts to interpret our diffused constitution; and we cannot again have civil servants drawing up constitutional practices and solutions which are, in themselves, highly political in their effect, to meet the increasing likelihood of  various fall-outs from consensus politics facilitated by  democratic practices other than first past the post .

The study of polical science covers many disciplines: philosophy, economics, statistics, political institutions, comparative politics, history, constitutional law... some respectable institutions of learning and research refused for years even to recognise any discipline at all, and required undergraduates to study in more formally and narrowly organised faculties of history or philosophy or  even law.   The student of political science usually has preferred areas of study; for Angels the most yawn-inducing was political sampling, polling and statistics; closely-followed by comparative politics.  How unfortunate that it is precisely these bodies of knowledge that serve best in current circumstances. 

There is, however, a small ray of sunshine shining from the direction of political institutions and constitutional law, so it is very pleasing that Ken Clarke is now our Lord Chancellor.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Floreat Etona....

...floreat amicabilis concordia!

Delaying the Opening of Parliament is the Next Step for a Labour-Nationalist-Liberal Democrat Regime

Should Brown attempt to meet Parliament with a Queen's Speech he will be defeated, not least by desertion of members of the Labour party aware of the damage to Labour of trying to cope with Brown's economic disaster when supported  by members of the various Nationalist parties; parties whose votes can only be bought by failing to take the spending cuts measures demanded by the economic disaster.

Brown may state that he will not cut anything until next year; the world will not lend after next week.

There is a limit on printing money as experience of the highly inflationary days of the late 1970s under Labour's ill-fated economic policies then demonstrated.  Weimar it will not be - that was over 50% a month, by Cagan's conventional definitions of inflation.  Inflationary levels that really hurt as it hurt in Russia in 1992, at 2500% a year and with the dollar at 36 times its purchasing power parity, are unlikely.  But 500% inflation as in Poland in 1990 (with Deutschemarks used for any serious transaction, though they are called euros now) is not unthinkable; ask the Poles how that felt.   It hurt so much Poland didn't go into recession during this so-called global crisis.

There are parts of the United Kingdom - Scotland, Wales, North  East and North West England and, worst of all Northern Ireland, where the majority of incomes are state incomes and fixed.  Will the people there like it when the automatic stabilisers are frozen and the central bank prints money to be lent out to buy government bonds?  Fixed incomes to meet inflationary bills and living costs.  At the very least we will get back to the 1970s.

And our situation, while all-embracing as in war-time, is not infused with the solidarity engendered by facing a common enemy and the courage and determination that produces.  We are fiercely resentful of the Brown-engineered, equally all-embracing threat to our livelihoods which we will not act together to resolve.  There will be only coercion and bribery, not enthusiastic willingness to give our all to survive, for any measures our government attempts.  This bodes ill for the condition of our society and our democracy.

Should the Head of State be asked to delay the new Parliament's opening, Angels would not be in the least surprised.

Monday, 10 May 2010

The United Kingdom Forced to Prop up the Euro

The European Commission is raising money on the markets using the EU budget as collateral.  Under terms in the Lisbon Treaty it has used all kinds of measures to find three quarters of a trillion euros.  Not unnaturally the euro has risen slightly.  Which is nice for the euro.  But the zombie Labour regime that had to accede to this is lying when Darling states that the bail-out of the euro is a matter only for member-states using the euro.  The decision-taking is only for them, but the guarantees and the borrowing is for all.  Poland and Sweden, who are not euro users (the first because it hasn't qualified yet, the second because it chose not to) have agreed to join openly in support of the measures agreed, and are therefore fully involved in the decision-taking. 

Without a new government, without a representative at the discussions, without defence against what New Labour did in forcing through Lisbon, tens of billions of pounds (which we have not got) are now  committed to the support of a foreign currency.

Five More Years

The delaying of the meeeting of the new Parliament is playing into Brown's hands, as it was intended to do.  Had he had to meet the Parliament within days there could have been no possibility of getting through a Queen's Speech.  But while the negotiations drag on an unlikely and unstable Queen's Speech alliance of rag tag and bobtail 'parties', plus some Liberal Democrats who will break ranks in the vote to help towards a majority, beckons.   If all of the Liberal Democrats can be tempted on board that will make it easier and carrots will be offered to achieve it.   The fissiparous nature of the LibDems    provides opportunity for the threats Brown also made in his phone call offer to Clegg.  The Liberal Democrats will split over a Queen's Speech crafted to split them if they do not ally with New Labour.

Further devolution, difficult to stop anyway, will be enough for the celtic nationalists and, as Ken Clarke withered, you can always do a deal with an Ulsterman though it's never the basis for stable government.   The Green will have rings run round her, why she could even have a little post and office of her own, that should do it.

Then there is the righteousness of letting Parliament decide.  You can just hear the sound of that weird accent practising mouthing the self-justifying words:  we are a parliamentary democracy and it is right that the Parliament elected by the people on 6 May should  decide openly  who leads us in these troubled economic times.  No time for a novice, saved the world, have been getting on with the job, wide support across many parties, stability not change, is needed.

There will be a lot of very nasty detail emerging on the rigging of the polls but that did no harm to George Bush holding power and keeping it, and there won't be any need for it again as the system itself will be rigged in good time for the next 'election'.

The Conservatives had better support their leadership fullheartedly in whatever it judges necessary to concede to get to be the party that presents the Queen's Speech, or  any chance to do so as Conservatives will never come again.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

A Progressive, Democratic Alliance of the Centre Right

We, the people, (to borrow a phrase) spoke very clearly on Thursday.  We want a tempered, politically progressive, centre right government that embodies many of the  fundamental values and beliefs of liberal democracy.  We want the end of the surveillance state, the end of high taxes and government-directed redistribution, the end of attempts at indicative planning and dirigisme whose effects are as baleful as its practitioners are incompetent.

No more installation of a caste of political professionals who administer our society for interests of their own  masqueraded as the interests of us all.  Capitalism works and, under decent government, one day so will most of us once more.



Sending for Mr Cameron

Denying the vote to thousands of electors was accomplished and brazen.  Electoral rolls missing names, postal votes failing to arrive, polling stations running out of ballot papers and, worst of all, the locking of the polling stations' doors with queues waiting in the rain, for hours, with no timely attempt being made to get every voter into the polling station and issued with a ballot before the 10 o'clock deadline  (that was on a  democratic par with watching the retail run on Northern Rock.)  Less blatant electoral fraud in the form of personation, padding the rolls, and the manipulation of lack of ballot secrecy will take a few days to emerge.

It is almost as urgent that the new government is installed before the backwash from this disgrace hits home,  as that it is installed to deal with the economic disgrace in which we have been placed. 

There is no 'duty' no 'responsibility' to ensure anything by the outgoing Prime Minister.  He remains in office in a purely ceremonial role of continuance of government while the changeover takes place.  To stand  in the middle of the street  bigging up this role into some kind of shadow Head of State activity is one more act of incomprehension  and overclaim.  

There is nothing more to do but  formally advise the Queen to send for Mr Cameron, and leave.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Herding Cats and Voters

Voting for what we want and voting against what we do not is  to vote with both head and heart.  We can look carefully at the individuals standing as candidates and evaluate their worth.  If they have served before, did they serve us, some other interest, or did they  serve themselves?  For candidates newly offering themselves in our constituencies and wards, are they standing for a party that is in keeping with our ideas of how to make and run our social order?  And when the party for which they stand is in power has the Party behaved well, kept to its electoral manifesto, met circumstances with measures in keeping with  its claimed values and with our own?

We musn't be swayed by attempting to second guess the actions of others and their interaction with our electoral process.  There are too many variables to successfully resolve outcomes that are beyond the reach of our action in voting today; recognising our reach we can only satisfy our consciences.  To remedy bad outcomes is for other days and other campaigns.

Our criteria and our judgements may yield different results for our choices in the national election and in the local elections some of us have.   Local politics and its expression still flickers fitfully in the baleful climate produced by the pressures from the centre to control everything down to the colours of our front doors and the contents of our dustbins.  Locally more then nationally we must choose who will resist the destruction of democratic choices by the centre, rather than who is toeing their Party's line.

We must vote, there can be no backsliding into abstention. Not voting in a fever of disapproval of the lot of them ends in democratic death.  The bamboozling of the electorate with psuedo-political science and arguments for the need to set aside the obvious disqualifications for office of individuals and party, in favour of some meta reality, is a cowardly attempt to avoid being considered on what they have done. We must choose our man or woman, choose our policies, stop second guessing the unguessable, and vote. 

Monday, 3 May 2010

Brown Was Supposed to Go After Lisbon Was Secured

Should Gordon Brown cling on to power through a combination of unholy alliance and/or ballot fraud obscured by the 'hung parliament' narrative pushed now for weeks, we will see some spiteful  acts of retribution - spite being a large part of Brown's political signature.

But should Labour be forced to let go on Friday morning we are told in much of the media that Brown will go quickly, that it would be 'cruel' to him to be an Opposition leader, that there will be an immediate move to choose another.  Peter Mandelson is said to want avoidance of a divisive and contested electoral process and a rapid confirmation of a 'New' Labour  projectista; in short David Miliband.  Looked at purely objectively, Mandelson is right.  A smooth transition in both generation and continuance of policy objectives from the Party leadership will deliver  a relatively undamaged political force which will be quick to be ready to fight another day, a day that could arrive quite soon, if the unpopularity of the incoming administration resulting from inevitable austerities meets Governor King's informed expectations.

Unfortunately Brown's hanging onto office by his finger nails until the last is as damaging to his Party as it has been to our country.  The Labour party's infamous Rule Book of democratic centralist practice provides for different procedures on choosing a Leader depending on whether the Party is or is not in power.   In opposition the unavailability of the Leader triggers the Deputy-leader taking office as Leader while an election, with grotesquely rigged voting, is undertaken. (cf the death of John Smith and Margaret Beckett's short-lived leadership of the Party before she lost to Blair); so either Brown must stay on while a formal challenge and then an election takes place, or Harriet Harman will become acting Leader until the leadership election has taken place.  There is no other provision for choosing a caretaker leader when the Party is out of power.  Mandelson's smooth transition king-making is unachievable out of office.  And Ms Harman is going to be very well placed, in situ to run for the permanent Leadership, particularly if Mr Harman, with all that trade union connection, takes Birmingham Erdington (and if he doesn't who cares what the Labour party might be doing then).

So Brown's pig-headedness in refusing to step aside for Miliband once the Lisbon Treaty had been secured which, in view of   the economic meltdown he engineered could be the only reason for his remaining in Downing Street, has lost Labour this election and may well have cost Labour any electoral hope in decades.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

A Way of Life That Labour Has Lost

"The acme of respectability" are the words that my mother would have used in referring to Mrs Duffy.   The account given of Mrs Duffy's exemplary life and family  in the Mail on Sunday is  an account of how much New Labour has resentfully devalued and derided.

Mrs Duffy will be voting for the local elections' candidates in Rochdale.  As her father always said, she noted, if you don't vote you can have no say afterwards.  But not for the national elections; the Labour leadership has lost her support as they have lost the support of so many they took for granted, and Labour will not recover that support until the Party recovers its conscience and  repairs its reputation.

Saturday, 1 May 2010


Is this the questioner that was manhandled from a Brown election meeting in Sunderland?  He had asked about fast broadband provision in the north east, and why Brown addressed hand-picked audiences rather than ordinary voters. 

Brown refused a response and the voter was dragged outside by a number of people and then given the pointy finger by middle-aged harridan in a red cardigan and a remarkably bad haircut.

Local Candidates Deserve Some Consideration

This is a revulsion election: revulsion at Mr and Mrs Brown, Mr and Mrs Balls and - still - revulsion at Mr and Mrs Blair.  Regardless of party or belief, flying in the face of some widely- and strongly-  held convictions, we are going to vote our utter disdain for a small group of self-seeking sycophants.  Sycophants of what?  Of their self-interest primarily.

And so enormous is the rejection of the values and aims of post-democratic administrative governance by permanent elites, what might be called the caste model of politics, we barely glance at the proposals being put forward by the alternatives.  Then, as an aside, we express our dislike for our own lack of acquaintance with the manifestos of others - but it is our own choice to have just familiarity enough to be sure that they still stand for democracy within our own country and throwing the rascals out. 

On 6 May we will have more than one vote to cast  however.  Having scored the ballot paper through to the wood with a cross for the not-Brown-Balls-and the past, candidate  we will turn over another paper.  Many of the candidates there will be utterly decent people, people bearing Party labels that are badges of honourable local activities and undertakings appropriate to our neighbourhoods and local needs and pleasures.  Often we may not have bothered even to turn out to vote for the local elections but this year, as we are determined to be in the polling booths as the nemesis of the big bad Bs, we might pause before the double error of going too far and acting in ignorance.   Perhaps we should read the record of the local people, ignore their party labels, and choose without breaking the pencil-lead as we put our crosses.