Wednesday, April 30, 2014

I am encouraged by this initiative:

There is one woolly statement from the bishop, but otherwise this is a good idea.

I don't wish to appear pedantic, but Rachel Robinson, Liberty's Director of Policy, needs to learn how to spell "steeped".

We simply cannot tolerate schools that are coasting along

Shadow Education Secretary Tristram Hunt announces that Labour policy is to be a drive to improve standards in schools:

Note the key passage -

"However, perhaps the most damaging aspect of their aggressive centralisation of school oversight is the fact that David Cameron and Michael Gove have almost nothing to say to parents of the 1.5m children attending mediocre schools that “require improvement”. It is impossible to understate this complacency: when this most demanding of centuries will place an even higher premium on educational excellence we simply cannot tolerate schools that are coasting along without pursuing the aspiration and high standards our children and country need. England expects and deserves a strategy for improving all its schools.
Back in June, Labour asked David Blunkett to undertake a review to advise on the best way to ensure proper local oversight of all English schools and raise standards across the board. Academy, faith or community – we believe the badge on the school gate is not what really makes the difference. What matters is lifting the quality of teaching and leadership, whilst making sure all schools have the challenge and support necessary to improve."
And then cross-reference with this Tweet from Labour election guru David Axelrod:

Here we see David Axelrod on Tuesday saying that American High School graduation rates were great news, but standards needed attention.  
Also bear in mind that Tristram Hunt was at David Axelrod's PR agency Media Matters in Washington last week.
Do you see the connection between the two?
For all the six-figure fees they are charging, it seems fairly clear that the Axelrod operation is just serving up yesterday's reheated policy left-overs to their new Labour client.
That Obamaesque policies are just being transferred over the Atlantic with little thought as to whether they will fit and absolutely no consultation.
And how are these new Directors of School Standards going to interact with the teachers and their unions?  Has the National Union of Teachers been consulted on this new initiative?  It seems unusual for Tristram Hunt not to have launched this idea at the recent NUT conference in Brighton.
Is David Axelrod now deciding education policy with a drive to clobber the teachers?
The Conservatives should counter by calling for the Directors of School Standards to be directly elected - that would be the American way would it not?

Article by Peter Wilby in the New Statesman about the stabbing of a teacher in Leeds

This article by Peter Wilby in the New Statesman about the stabbing of a teacher in Leeds is disgraceful:

Can I remind you Mr Wilby that a tragic death has occurred and as a consequence a child has been arrested for murder.

A child Mr Wilby, not a convenient tool to be used in knockabout politics.

And none of us know what happened beyond the simple facts.

A responsible person would wait for the enquiry.

It is possible Mr Wilby that even you might be wrong.

I am fully prepared to accept that the teacher was "dedicated, devout, patient, caring and inspiring" but neither you nor I really know whether that is true.  Those things were all said about Jimmy Savile - yet if one of his victims had stabbed him who would have blamed the assailant?  Or again yesterday on Channel 4 News an "expert" was telling us in sensationalist gasps that mental illness might be a factor - in which case the child cannot be blamed.

None of us know.

We must wait for the enquiry.

To use this tragedy to advance your ideological views about state education is so base it astonishes me.

Ken Clarke's influence

On the Today programme this morning Tory grandee Ken Clarke defended the European Union in all its manifold ways (he actually said he wanted government from Brussels), defended open border immigration, and told us we need "serious" professional politicians in power not ordinary people.

As a Conservative I found this vision of politics entirely repugnant.

Mr Clarke claimed he knew and understood the electorate of the Newark constituency, soon to experience a by-election.

I also understand those people Mr Clarke.

At tweedy charity events I have stood at the grand facade of Leadenham House and looked out at the Vale of Trent.  I have sat in the nave of St Helen's Brant Broughton when it was filled with local landowners.  I have attended the Plough Sunday service and crossroad revels at the village of Morton - perhaps one of the villages you were referring to on the Today programme this morning.

I doubt whether these people support your vision of the world Mr Clarke.

Unfortunately, people like you have stolen the Conservative party.

Therefore, based on what you said on the Today programme this morning, I find it very difficult to advise anyone in the Newark constituency to vote Conservative in the forthcoming by-election.

Certainly I would advise them to vote.

And on no account should they vote Labour or Liberal Democrat.

But based on Ken Clarke's statements on the Today programme this morning I would not advise anyone in the Newark constituency to vote Conservative.

Who is going to move next door

Twitter spat between Sunder Katwala (British Future) and Labour turncoat and Daily Telegraph lackey Dan Hodges over the legitimacy of silencing UKIP with the "racist racist racist" technique that has been used so successfully by the left in the past.

As someone who, as a child, experienced black people moving next door (both sides) I can assure Mr Hodges that it does produce very real problems - a huge amount of stress for existing residents as they realise they are becoming a minority and will have to walk to their homes through groups of "exuberant" teenagers; a big increase in noise and multiple occupancy; the abandonment of front garden cultivation (which meant the area soon looked unrecognisable); the use of residential areas for commercial operations (factories set up in front rooms, car servicing companies set up in former front gardens, taxi companies set up in the street); an increase in crime and the fear of crime (children of our Afro-Caribbean neighbours on one side were in a feud with the children of an Asian family two doors down on the other side which led to stone throwing over the intervening back gardens and the collateral smashing of my parents' greenhouse); a fall in house prices which puts you into negative equity so there is no possibility of moving away.

Usually the people this happens to are poor and uneducated (I had an appalling education at Icknield High School in Luton and left at 16 with no meaningful qualifications) and cannot articulate their experiences in such a way that ultra-privileged media types like Dan Hodges (the son of a famous actress and politician, with a consequent opening of doors and smoothing of his path in life) can recognise.

Therefore such complaints are dismissed as "racist".

However I would refer Mr Hodges (and Mr Katwala for that matter, for he is by no means a disinterested observer) to 2009 and the so-called Gurkha Justice Campaign in which actress Joanna Lumley (a good friend of former Conservative MP Giles Brandreth) confronted Labour Minister Phil Woolas.  At that time the Guardian newspaper (the Guardian!) said in an Opinion Editorial (an Opinion Editorial! in the Guardian!) that Joanna Lumley's house was so big it did not matter who lived next door.  So please do not tell me Mr Hodges and Mr Katwala that the issue of who is going to move next door is a complaint only made by ignorant racists.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

What a ghastly person Barbara Roche appears to be.

Her attack on UKIP's Patrick O'Flynn on Newsnight this evening must be worth a hundred thousand votes going to UKIP in sympathy.



Even in 1941 commentators recognised 1940 for what it was.

The people of Ukraine need to take note.

By-election in Newark

As a Conservative (and as someone who knows the area relatively well) I am concerned about the prospect of a by-election in Newark.

"Hard to overturn 16,000 majority" says George Eaton (New Statesman).

Big majorities do not always mean safe seats, especially when there is a personal vote involved.

The Conservatives took Ashfield from Labour in 1977 with a 20% swing (the Labour majority in the 1974 general election had been 22,000).

Faisal Islam on Channel 4 News

Excellent report by Faisal Islam on Channel 4 News this evening.

How clever to look at printing companies as a barometer of economic activity.

And at a time when UKIP are in the news, how fascinating that GDP per head is down simply because there are more people in the country - it rather blows apart the Jonathan Portes argument that immigration is good for the economy.

And personally I thought Cathy Newman was a bit soft on Ed Balls - she mentioned more people in the country depressing GDP per head but did not ask the obvious follow-up about whether Labour were ready to apologise (properly) for open door immigration.


I am not a member or supporter of UKIP - indeed as a Conservative I must consider myself part of the LibLabCon cartel.

But I do wonder whether any impartial research has been done on what percentage of the United Kingdom has:

1  Been personally called a racist.
2  Felt they have been collectively called racist.
3  Have been inhibited from saying what they think for fear of being called racist.
In a discussion about rapid financial transactions on the Today programme did Evan Davis really refer to the "beautiful buildings and architecture" that needs to be paid for in the City?

The ones that have been put up in the last twenty years have all been hideous.

Oliver Wainwright in the Guardian:

Michael Dugher on the Today programme this morning

I was not convinced by Labour's Michael Dugher on the Today programme this morning urging the Prime Minister to "negotiate" with him over proposed leadership debates in the run-up to next year's general election.

The television debates "belong to the public" said Mr Dugher, as if they were comparable to the Elgin Marbles.

In my opinion the debates last time (there have only been one set of debates) were damaging to democracy.
We elect members of Parliament in our general election, not a President.

Party leaders are not presidential candidates - for instance, they can be sacked the day after the election, with an immediate change in Prime Minister (this happened on a small scale in the old Greater London Council when Ken Livingstone ousted Andrew McIntosh in what can only be described as a coup the day after the 1981 London elections).

Presumably Michael Dugher is taking orders from David Axelrod in pushing for leadership debates.  This shows how out of touch Mr Axelrod is with the British way of democracy.  Presumably Mr Axelrod and Mr Dugher will be clamouring for paid political advertising on television next?

Monday, April 28, 2014

Nick Faith (Director of Communications at Policy Exchange) about the appointment of David Axelrod

Very interesting article by Nick Faith (Director of Communications at Policy Exchange) about the appointment of David Axelrod as Labour's election strategy guru:

Increasingly David Axelrod is being seen as a paper tiger.

I liked the understatement of the line about Ed Miliband not having Obama's charisma.

And the thought occurred to me - is it possible that Axelrod is being set up as a fall guy.  That insiders already suspect Labour is going to lose in 2015.  Therefore they are preparing a scapegoat so that they can all keep their Brewers Green jobs without the usual post-defeat bloodbath.

Far left infiltration and control of the National Union of Teachers

Article in the Times Educational Supplement about far left infiltration and control of the National Union of Teachers:

And John Blake is a Labour supporter!

Thank goodness Michael Gove is sorting these people out.

Can we have a statement from Ed Miliband about this infiltration?

Can we have a strategic policy document from David Axelrod on how we deal with this dreadful mess?
This story is so sad:

Factory farms of this kind need much greater regulation.

I hope there will be very heavy prison sentences if negligence is proved to have contributed to this.

National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham

The 1976 National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, designed by Edward Mills, is an hideous example of brutalist modernism - the canopy is supposedly a Mills motif.

More of the NEC - an open-air cafe area or a prison exercise yard?

Is it true that Edward Mills slept with a sketchbook at his side in case he should wake suddenly and forget one of his nightmares?
Jacqui Smith would be dangerous if the Labour party were to ever take her seriously.

This analysis is one of the most interesting and astute I have read on UKIP:

Design the prism correctly

According to the Office for National Statistics 29% of households in the United Kingdom are single person.

And yet public policies are not addressing this issue (talking all the time about families).

An interesting project I am looking at is taking public policies (transport, housing, public order, health, education, social security) and putting them through the prism of a single-person household and considering how they can adjusted to make them more appealing (for instance in terms of taxation and expenditure).

The key is of course to design the prism correctly.

"...debilitating loneliness, fierce egoism, proud individualism..."

Solve those aspects of the single-household experience (as applied to public policy) and you will get their votes.

New election guru David Axelrod

This podcast by House of Comments discusses the appointment by Labour of their new election guru David Axelrod:

Emma Burnell just waffles "...he'll be advising on electoral strategy... don't know exactly what that means..."

Mark Thompson said "It's going to give a fillip to the groundtroops... sprinkle sparkle and stardust..."

Expensive stardust!

Who exactly are the political mafia in this country?

Michael White (Guardian) goes too far in comparing UKIP to the mafia.

Who exactly are the political mafia in this country?

Certainly not UKIP.

Mr White might ponder the connection between the provocative behaviour of the left (everyone from Salma Yaqoob to Edward Macmillan-Scott, and indeed Michael Heseltine) in forcing through social change without a mandate, and the reaction that they are now going to experience.

Is it not the case that if UKIP come first in the election we have had a referendum on British membership of the EU whether the establishment likes it or not?

And indeed is it not equally the case that if UKIP come first in the election we have also had a referendum on immigration whether the establishment likes it or not?

As a life-long Conservative (and continuing Conservative member) I am not advising anyone to vote Conservative in the European elections.

Certainly you should vote.

And the idea of voting Labour or Liberal Democrat is unthinkable.

But do not vote Conservative on this occasion.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Avenue of lime trees

This avenue of lime trees once led to a great country house, now demolished so that nothing remains except this grand approach.

I cannot adequately describe how wonderful it was to walk along this path - the grass wet, the birds singing, the mild scented breezes blowing.

The world seemed fresh.

I felt completely alive.


Above:  the wide river, the clouds blustered by a mild wind, the ferry long gone so that the villages just look at each other with little contact now.

Above:  inside the little Victorian church the atmosphere is timeless and eternal, the chancel panelled like a country house, the altar frontal white to mark the fifty days of Easter ("white for the light, joy and purity of Christ, Mary and the saints").

Above:  when the village school closed it became a private house, and the school Great War memorial was moved into the church.  It is in an art nouveau style, old-fashioned for the 1920s but perhaps that was appropriate for such an out of the way place.  Carved wooden surround with a painted plaque - laurel wreaths for victory and a mourning mother.

You & I

The Ben Winston video for You & I (pre-released 18th April, due for release 25th May) has a melancholy feel that is almost Jungian (insofar as I understand Jung and his theory of synchronicity):

The end of a pier with the tide going out.

The end of youth (comparatively); the end of the initial phase of their success (unless they can reinvent themselves); the end of a relationship with a fan base that is already looking for more tangible forms of romance.

Even the half-blown balloon fizzling out somehow seems symbolic.

The lyrics are delivered in a style of self-aware deliberate denial of the implicit obvious.

Artistically it's a masterpiece.  Not that many people are going to look at it seriously.  To most people it will just be flim-flam.


I disagree with the historical comparison in Tim Shipman's article in today's Sunday Times:

The similarity they should be looking at when considering UKIP's relationship to the Conservative Party is the DUP absorption of the United Ulster Unionist supporters.

The Axelrod appointment

Astute analysis of the Axelrod appointment by Labour activist (and lecturer in Sociology at Derby University) Phil Burton-Cartledge:

"Labour doesn’t need Axelrod, he will not bring something 'game-changing' to the table."

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The limit of their influence

Mark Thompson (New Statesman etc) is of the opinion that "the media collectively" is going to cut Nigel Farage down to size.

As a Conservative I am hoping that UKIP will not (on the whole) do well in 2015.

But I am far from thinking that the media can influence this.

Plus or minus 5% is about the limit of their influence.

"It was the Sun wot won it" is like those braggadocio amateur soccer players who hang around the opposing goal the whole match and when they just manage to touch the ball before it rolls over the line they run round the pitch shouting "I scored, I scored, it was me me me".

All Nick Cohen is going to do with his article is bolster Mr Farage's anti-Establishment credentials:

", conspiracy crackpot, racist, chauvinist and pillock" - my goodness Mr Cohen, Nigel Farage seems to have rattled you.

Labour policies on immigration

What influence will David Axelrod have on immigration policy in the United Kingdom?

This is going to be one of the key issues in the 2015 general election, and David Axelrod is advising Labour on what to say in the run-up to that election.

In this discussion with Rand Paul on Thursday David Axelrod is asking leading questions that are sympathetic to finessing an amnesty for illegal immigrants in America:

In this interview with Credit Suisse he is advocating a relaxtion in visas for foreign students so that they can stay in America after their studies have finished:

It is a theme that he has pushed previously:

CROWLEY: What about immigration?
AXELROD: …is part of that. Education reform is part of that, and certainly immigration is an issue that we want to tackle. You know, a couple of years ago, there were 11 Republicans in the United States Senate who worked with Democrats to try and pass immigration reform. There were none in this last couple of years, but it’s an issue we have to solve. We have to impose some responsibility and accountability on this system and on people who are here illegally, on the borders, on employers who are skirting the law.
We also have to address the issue of people who are coming here to study. They’re being educated in American universities, and then they go back to their countries because our immigration laws don’t allow them to stay. They go back to their countries, and so we create assets for foreign competitors, and that’s another issue we have to address. So immigration certainly is part of the agenda we want to address going forward. 

Therefore going forward can we expect to see Labour policies on immigration to include concessions to illegals who are here, and a softening on the granting of visas to foreign students?

David Axelrod is interested in deomgraphic change as a way of winning elections:  "But looking at the demographic trends is telling. The most popular name for a new-borns in Texas is Jos?. There are millions of unregistered Hispanic voters there who will soon be registered. Within one or two cycles Texas, the largest star in the Republican firmament, will be a swing state" ( ) so presumably will be looking for covert ways to return to an open-door immigration policy for the United Kingdom.

And by the way, the same interview has a telling Axelrod view on campaigning on the economy:

"In a sense the debate over the debt ceiling was a microcosm of the wider debate between the Democrats and the Republicans. We made the argument that you grow the economy by investing in things which strengthen the middle class, and by cutting taxes for the wealthy. The Republicans stubbornly persisted with the message that if we just cut taxes, cut regulation and cut the budget the economy will take off.
You saw a similar situation in the UK - the public wasn't eager to go back to what they perceived as a reprise of the policies that had led to the crisis. So we knew what we had to do, and we just hammered away at it."

Cutting taxes for the wealthy? 

Steve Richards in the Guardian predicting that David Axelrod will not be able to turn Ed Miliband into Obama

Article by Steve Richards in the Guardian predicting that David Axelrod will not be able to turn Ed Miliband into Obama:

Mr Axelrod will no doubt counter with the claim that the election in 2015 will be fought and won at grassroots level.

This is only true up to a point.

Yes, a complete canvass and an election day campaign to get the vote out can turn any no-hope seat into a marginal and any marginal into a safe seat.

But do not underestimate the large numbers of motivated activists needed to do this.

A complete canvass means large teams working every evening during the election campaign - and also going back again and again for the Outs and the family members not at home (please don't tell me you can do this by telephone - you are just going to antagonise people without the opportunity of face to face interaction which neutralises antagonism).

And on the day you will need a big team to do telling and knocking-up and cars to provide lifts.

The Tories can afford to put paid-for agents in their target seats.

Not sure Labour will be able to do this - they are spending too much money on David Axelrod and relying on the sort of clever-dick social media campaigns that failed so miserable in Bradford West.

Friday, April 25, 2014

They think they can act with impunity

Reading Rafael Behr's column in today's Times, I felt a brief stab of anger when I came to a quote from a former Labour minister:  "I'd never have got permission to do most of the things I've done that have worked," one shadow minister told me recently.  "So I don't ask".

The anger was brief because it was quickly followed by cynicism.  We know this is how ministers behave.  They think they can act with impunity.

Reasserting democratic control over politicians is the major challenge we face.

"Watered down"

No mention on Channel 4 News of Ed Miliband's new policy on zero hours contracts.

Guardian writer Owen Jones has already dismissed it as "watered down".

Is this what David Axelrod is being paid for?  The announcement of new policies that splutter a little then go out.  Or is this some kind of subtle stealth-launch, deliberately leaving policies lying about in the hope that someone will stumble on them by accident and be unexpectedly delighted?

There is barely a year until the General Election - relying on the serendipity factor is not going to be enough.

Why ask clergy about the Establishment of the Church of England?

I don't know what religion Ian Katz is, but he is obviously OBVIOUSLY not an Anglican.

Why ask clergy about the Establishment of the Church of England?

This is so ignorant it leaves me speechless.

Anglican clergy are not some Roman Catholic style hierarchy ruling the roost, or some band of Pharisees and Sadducees interpreting ritual law.

They don't own the Church.

In the Church of England the clergy are the servants of the people.

The people through the Prime Minister are supposed to appoint the bishops who in turn appoint the clergy.

This democratic process has broken down because the Prime Ministers since John Major have abdicated their responsibility so that the clergy have grabbed power and the result is this horrible state where we have celebrity big-mouth priests thinking they are the stars of the show.

As a church-going Anglican nothing that Giles Fraser or Rose Hudson-Wilkin might say on the topic of church Establishment can have any interest to me.  

They are both in their different ways too big for their boots and need to be reminded that there is a sin of spiritual pride.

Independent Editorial on immigration

This Independent Editorial on immigration talks of moral qualities of "tolerance and openness".

But whoever wrote this missed out the greatest and most universal moral quality of respect for democracy. 

Anonymous Independent writer you can have as much immigration as you want - you can bring millions and millions and millions of people here.

All you have to do is put it in a manifesto and ask the electors to vote for it in an election.

No democratic consent means no immigration.

Labour needs a policy on growth

Rather too late Jonathan Todd is warning on the Progress website that Labour needs a policy on growth:

It is not enough to decry Conservative (Coalition) achievements.

And I disagree with Mr Todd that a splurge of public spending on infrastructure will be enough.

What is needed is a culture change.

Labour needs to love the people who produce growth.

And the truth is they don't.  They despise them.  They see them as the enemy.

At best the entrepreneurs are just seen as milchkühe to be exploited to pay for social policies that deliver Labour votes, and elect Labour politicians and keep the whole Labour movement on the road.

As an electoral model this is outdated and needs to change - luckily none of them has a clue how to do this.

New Labour policy on zero hours contracts

According to news reports there were no spectators (not even activists) and only the BBC to see Ed Miliband forlornly arrive in Glasgow to unveil a new Labour policy on zero hours contracts.

Kirsty Wark had a sarcastic tone to her voice on Newsnight yesterday when she told us that Labour was at last announcing a policy.

But as Emily Maitlis pointed out, there are so many loopholes in the zero hours policy that it is effectively meaningless. 

This is not a red meat policy thrown to the hungry (for success) Labour grassroots.  This is not even a skillfully presented vegetarian option, got up to look like sizzling sausages but actually made of tofu and tasteless gunge.  This is just a theatrical prop of a policy meant to give the impression of action but without doing anything that could offend big business.

The Labour Party increasingly resembles an old episode of the cartoon Wacky Races.  The Party is hurtling towards a cliff and David Axelrod is screaming "Do something!"  And Ed Milband goes off and plays the piano.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

A coup taking place?

Why, one wonders, was Shadow Education Secretary (and Old Etonian) Tristrum Hunt MP at Media Matters in Washington DC earlier today?

Media Matters is of course a company owned by new Labour election guru David Axelrod.

Is Tristrum Hunt being groomed as the new "face" of the Labour Party?

Perhaps we really are seeing a coup taking place?

Or perhaps it is all entirely innocent.

It was just a coincidence that Tristrum Hunt was in the office at the same time as Michael Dugher.

It could equally have been John McConnell or Katy Clark or one of any number of Labour MPs.

An Axelrod stooge

The International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI), through an article by Julie Hyland on the World Socialist website, has lost no time in denouncing Guardian writer Owen Jones as an Axelrod stooge:

"Axelrod has been introduced in order to disguise this right-wing fare with some sound bites on inequality that can be used by the trade union bureaucracy and pro-Labour journalists such as Owen Jones to try and drum up backing for Miliband."
It is strange that Daniel Trilling should write about Abbey Wood in south-east London and not mention Abbey Wood Pumping Station ("worthy of King Arthur and his knights"):


The Gallipoli Association has received funding to commemorate the centenary of the campaign (which included one of my direct ancestors) in 2015:

Smash the six anti-immigrant arguments says this Backbencher crib sheet

How to smash the six anti-immigrant arguments says this Backbencher crib sheet in favour of open-door migration:

However the author Lee Jenkins leaves out the most pressing argument opposing immigration - it has no mandate from the electorate.

You can have as much immigration as you want Mr Jenkins.

All you have to do is put it in a manifesto and ask the people to vote for it.

If you don't have democratic consent you can't have any immigration.

The United Kingdom can learn from Obama's America in the removal of illegal immigrants

Perhaps the United Kingdom can learn from Obama's America in the removal of illegal immigrants?

Two million illegal immigrants have been tracked down and booted out of a society of 318 million people.

To achieve the same level of success the United Kingdom needs to remove 400,000 illegal migrants in the space of five years (Obama's tenure to date).

And America covers a much larger geographical area than the United Kingdom.

We urgently need to know how they have done this, and the lessons learned applied to the Home Office and its agencies.

If necessary we should be directly employing personnel from the US ICE, USBP, and CBP organisations.

David Axelrod was in favour of tax cuts for the very wealthiest

Can it really be true that three years ago David Axelrod was in favour of tax cuts for the very wealthiest Americans?

This by CNN White House Producer Jamie Crawford:

(which intriguingly suggests triangulation with American Conservatives and working with tea party activists).

Is it possible that David Axelrod is intensely relaxed about people getting filthy rich?

What does Jeremy Corbyn MP think about David Axelrod's appointment?  Is Ian Lavery MP OK with what is going on?  Has Linda Riordan MP given the new election guru her personal seal of approval?

Joel Gehrke in the Washington Examiner

I experienced a Miss Marple moment ("ah, NOW I see it") when I read this short piece by Joel Gehrke in the Washington Examiner which appeared in March:

David Axelrod has previously been employed rewriting Obama's speeches "at an eighth-grade reading level".

The Labour Party is spending hundreds of thousands of pounds employing someone solely to cure Ed Miliband of wonk-speak!  To edit out phrases like "pre-distribution".  To try to make Mr Miliband seem normal.

Presumably they are having to get an outside consultant in because no-one in Labour's inner-circle is getting through to the Labour leader (or perhaps they are too afraid to suggest to him he needs lessons in how to speak to people).

And what does this say about the way the Labour Party views its potential voters?  Eighth-grade reading level means suitable for 12 to 14 year-olds.  Is the next Labour manifesto going to be written in the style of Moomin Summer Madness?

Article in the New Statesman on immigration

Jonathan Portes, with self-effacement presumably intended to disarm critics, says his article in the New Statesman on immigration yesterday has "no definite conclusion".  By this he means that he is unable to put his usual positive spin on the topic of immigration.  But he does perhaps unintentionally draw attention to some alarming developments at the Home Office.

Take for instance the line:  "...while the flow of asylum seekers has remained fairly stable at much lower levels, a major regularisation programme, beginning in 2007 – amnesty in all but name for well over 100,000 applicants, especially those with children – has dealt with much of this issue. Indeed, as a result of this programme (begun by the previous government but mostly implemented by this one), in 2010 more immigrants were granted permanent residence in the UK than ever before. "

Who at the Home Office is signing-off this "amnesty in all but name"?  Can we have some names please, both the politicians and the civil servants who are operating this covert amnesty.  It goes without saying that this amnesty does not have any democratic mandate and any settled status (and subsequent naturalisation) gained by these individuals has no long-term validity, whatever the small print being finessed by civil servants.

What is the point of voting Conservative in general elections if the result is that Labour policies continue?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Only In England exhibition

Today also seems an appropriate time to talk about the Only In England exhibition I saw at the Media Space in the Science Museum a few weeks back.  I never got round to writing up my notes at the time.  Never even got round to taking the exhibition book out of its shrinkwrap.

It was actually two exhibitions in one, featuring the photographs of Tony Ray-Jones and Martin Parr taken in the 1960s and 1970s.

The images had a melancholy charm that was very beautiful, and looked at the visual idea of Englishness without being cliched.

Quirky scenes from seaside results; eating home made sandwiches under an umbrella during May Day celebrations in the rain; drinking cups of tea in cafes with floral wallpaper.

There were some famous scenes such as Eton 4th of June; Glyndebourne; the Chelsea Flower Show.

But there were also scenes from the East End - Brick Lane and Bethnal Green Road as it used to be.  And I thought (so closely did the views resemble street scenes from old family photos)my ancestral home.  Where my family had lived since at least the 1750s and probably since the days when Old King Cole was king of Essex (and don't forget London was originally an Essex town).

Article about Englishness by Will Self

St George's Day seems an appropriate time to talk about this article about Englishness by Will Self which appeared in the Guardian on 18th January and which I have read several times since then.

It is a review of the article Will Self wrote about Englishness in 1994 and how he got things wrong.

Obviously being Will Self everything he says is suspect, but some interesting points are made.

"...where the ideas and practices of Englishness may have come from..."

"...the banking up of the baby boomer generation into a grey market at the end of the consumerist conveyor belt..."

"...the way ideal Englishness continues to inform and legitimate the real exercise of power."

"...Ireland was put to the sword by Parliament, not the monarch..."

"...London was a whirlpool... sucking in all the raw talent that ventured anywhere near it..."

"...the relationship of the British army to Englishness..."

But it's not an easy read.

Mr Cleverly needs to mug up on his Conservative history

Article by James Cleverly on the Conservative Home website arguing for more pandering to immigrants:

Mr Cleverly needs to mug up on his Conservative history.

We tried appeasement in the 1930s and guess what, it didn't work.

Appeasement never works.

All that happens is that the people you are trying to appease say Thank-you very much, we'll have some more bribes if you don't mind, and we'll have even more bribes after that.

Except that mostly they won't say thank-you, they'll just take and laugh at you.

The only Conservative answer to the problems caused by immigration is complete assimilation to those who want to be assimilated.

No concessions, no pandering, no bribes.

And "...keeping the Conservative party broad-based and open to all" means first and foremost winning back the white working class voters. 

When you've done that we can talk about other demographic challenges. 

The civil war in South Sudan

Important report this evening on Channel 4 News about the civil war in South Sudan:

The situation has been compared to Rwanda.

The United Kingdom has such a massive foreign aid budget - surely some of it can be diverted to South Sudan?

Over the longer term some thought needs to be given to the issue of self-determination in Africa.  It is obvious that the post-imperial borders have no meaning for most Africans.  They need to have borders and social structures where the ordinary people are in control and feel secure.

A culture war waged by lefty teachers

Today is, as you must be aware by now, St George's Day.

Above:  here we see the village school in one of my favourite rural settlements (on the high moor, but in the midst of woods).  There is no mistaking the St George theme, with the gable above the main entrance decorated with red roses and shields of the English three lions and the flag of St George.  Pevsner says the building was designed by HG Gamble and put up in 1913 (the school closed in 2006).

Children attending this school would have been enjoined to live up to the patriotic ideals of St George.  There would have been no doubt over their "identity".  Englishness would have meant everything to them.

Above:  nearby is the village hall, designed by Thomas Dixon in a Tudor style and put up in 1910.  A few years later, during the First World War, patriotic plaques and slogans were added, including Britannia and St George.  The hall is still used by the local community.

Yesterday Newsnight broadcast a devastating expose of left-wing infiltration into the National Union of Teachers.  This has been going on for decades.  This is why St George's Day has been suppressed since the 1950s - it has in part been targeted in a culture war waged by lefty teachers (not all teachers are lefties, but a very significant proportion are).

Thank you Michael Gove for taking these people on.

St George's Day

Today is St George's Day.

Indeed, one can hardly avoid the fact, given the number of lefty politicians and SPADs "reclaiming" the day for the left on Twitter (to the disgust of Labour turncoat Dan Hodges in the Daily Telegraph

Such is the patriotic fervour of the left that the LabourList website has turned itself over for the day to articles musing on the nature of Englishness by such Labour luminaries as Jon Cruddas, Sunny Hundal, and Chi Onwurah MP - though none of them seem to be calling for a bank holiday on 23rd April.

With such left-wing politicisation of identity issues, how then should non-lefty people mark St George's Day?

Let us look back a hundred years to the Great War, and remember that so many parents chose to portray their dead sons as St George.  It was mainly officers who got individually remembered in expensive and dazzling stained glass (as in the above example), but collective village memorials also follow the St George theme.  On this day, in this centenary year, let us try to live up to the patriotic example they have set us.

Andrew Grice in the Independent about the creation of a Labour rapid response PR unit

Article by Andrew Grice in the Independent about the creation of a Labour rapid response PR unit to protect Ed Miliband from unfavourable reporting in the media:

I'm afraid when I read this article I was reminded of the famous Obama quip about putting lipstick on a pig.

And I was incredulous when I read the section:

"The Labour battle plan is being discussed in the United States this week by Michael Dugher, a Shadow Cabinet member and Labour vice-chairman who is in charge of the party’s communications. In Chicago, he met David Axelrod, the senior Obama strategist who Labour hired last week to advise on its general election campaign. He is meeting Mike Donilon and Larry Grisolano from Mr Axelrod’s company AKPD, who will also work for Labour.  Mr Dugher will hold detailed discussions in Washington on Thursday about rebuttal techniques and advertising with Jim Margolis, a political consultant who worked on the Obama 2012 campaign. On Wednesday he will meet Media Matters for America, an Internet-based, not for profit research group which monitors material in print, broadcasts and online to expose, rebut and refute “conservative misinformation”. A similar operation will be “a major element” in Labour’s election effort, according to party sources."

Has Michael Dugher's leading role been cleared with the Unite union? (who are presumably paying for all these expensive consultants, albeit indirectly).  Has Owen Jones (lefty Guardian journalist with 186k youngish Twitter followers) been told to stand-by ready to regurgitate the Axelrod line?  Have Denis Skinner and the rest of the awkward squad been advised, in that inimitable American way, to "shut the fuck up" with their questions about Labour policy?

These things matter to the internal health of the Labour Party as whoever controls the propaganda machine ultimately controls the policy and the party.

As a Conservative I am somewhat bemused by all this.

Let me talk directly to Messrs Axelrod and Dugher and give them some advice.

There is no need for the Tories to indulge in "conservative misinformation".

You are judging us by the standards of the Labour Party.  The bullying black arts of Peter Mandelson; the spin and counter-spin of Alastair Campbell; the disgusting lies of Damian McBride.  And I note that Michael Dugher is also a former spin-doctor for Gordon Brown and presumably works to the same McBride standard.

There is no need for the Conservatives to do any of this.

All we have to do is tell the truth about Mr Miliband and the Labour Party.  Allow the Labour Party in all its manifestations to speak for itself.  And provide references for the things they say.

That will be enough.

For as we know:  A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil, for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Labour activist Margaret Waterhouse is already channelling her inner-American Democrat

It seems that Labour activist Margaret Waterhouse is already channelling her inner-American Democrat by paraphasing John F Kennedy in the header to this article for Labour Left:

Perhaps she genuinely thinks that President Kennedy is a good socialist role-model instead of being a South East Asia war-mongerer, bay of pigs provocateur and mouthpiece for big business.

But one must not be too hard on Ms Waterhouse.

She has to put the best gloss she can on the Axelrod appointment.

But note the telling Freudian slip when she half-jokingly writes:  (Don’t you disappoint me David !!).

Indeed. Mr Axelrod had better not disappoint the Labour Party.  They have spent a shed-load of money on this star celebrity signing.

Iain McNicol (General Secretary of the Labour Party) does not seem to be over-flowing with goodwill towards David Axelrod?

I am gauging this more by his ommissions than his commissions.

Surely as General Secretary he needs to be a bit more welcoming and effusive.

Or is he still battling the David Miliband remnants at Labour HQ?
Very badly moderated interview on Channel 4 News with William Dartmouth (UKIP) and Richard Corbett MP (Labour) talked over each other while Jon Snow blathered ineffectually.

Earlier Jon Snow had "outed" William Dartmouth as a member of the House of Lords.

Jon Snow went to a private school and coasted into a comfy media job so is not exactly himself a horny-handed son of the soil.

"Radical anti-austerity policy"

Unite activist Jennie Formby is expecting David Axelrod to advise Ed Miliband on "radical anti-austerity policy".

Presumably she is unaware that in a video message to the Labour Party David Axelrod has already pledged to "cut where possible".

"Say WHAAAT?" is I believe the correct American response to Mr Axelrod.

David Axelrod and Michael Dugher MP are buddying-up

I am astonished, literally astonished at the brazen way in which David Axelrod and Michael Dugher MP are buddying-up together.

What a slap in the face for the lefties in the Labour Party!

Let us remind ourselves what Unite activist Jenny Formby said about Michael Dugher in October 2013:

The Guardian article tells us:  "Dugher is unpopular among supporters of McCluskey because he was an aide to Sir Ken Jackson, the former general secretary of the AEEU (and then Amicus) trade union, who was described as one of Tony Blair's favourite trade union leaders. Unite was formed in 2007 when Amicus merged with the Transport and General Workers' Union (TGWU). McCluskey was a veteran TGWU member who supported Militant."

Is it possible we are seeing a New Labour revanchist coup taking place in the Labour Party - taking place indeed before our very eyes!

Michael Meacher (Labour MP for Oldham West and Royton) pouring a bucket of cold water over David Axelrod

Here we see Michael Meacher (Labour MP for Oldham West and Royton) pouring a bucket of cold water over David Axelrod's appointment as Labour election guru:

According to Mr Meacher the appointment is a triumph of style over substance.

"If Axelrod had that message to build on, he might just succeed in getting a genuine grassroots revival going in a big way" - oh how sarcastic Michael Meacher can be with his "ifs" and "mights".

Denis Skinner is referring new Labour election guru David Axelrod to Ken Loach

I am very confused that Labour MP Denis Skinner is referring new Labour election guru David Axelrod to Ken Loach for political inspiration.

Ken Loach is not a member of the Labour Party.  He left the Labour Party to join the extreme socialist Respect Party.  He left the Respect Party and last year formed his own political party called Left Unity.

Is Denis Skinner obliquely saying that Labour policies should mirror Left Unity policies?

Mr Axelrod will need to do a lot of American-style schmoozing to bring the likes of Denis Skinner on side.

Or will he just say "shut the fuck up" (which is the American way of dealing with dissent).

A referendum on immigration

Listening to the "debate" on the Today programme this morning about UKIP's new poster campaign, it seems clear to me that the Euro elections on the 22nd May will be a referendum on immigration.

Do we in the United Kingdom really want to become the California of the EU?

Think carefully before you answer that question.  

Article by Luke Akehurst on the appointment of David Axelrod

I entirely agree with the emphasis upon canvassing in this article by Luke Akehurst on the appointment of David Axelrod as Labour's strategic election advisor:

However I am bemused by the five reasons he gives that supposedly prove the appointment of Mr Axelrod is desirable.

Let us look at those reasons one by one:

1  As Marcus Roberts has explained, Axelrod is a good match for Ed Miliband’s radicalism.
Is Ed Miliband radical?  I thought he was just mildly opportunist within the parameters of the soggy middle.  Leftist radicalism means socialism, and there is nothing socialist about David Axelrod.

2  Axelrod likes working for insurgents and underdog candidates. 
Is this an admission that Labour are struggling?  They have been consistently a few points ahead in the polls, so it seems strange that Luke Akehurst is classing Labour as an underdog.  Is it not the case that many people in the Labour party see Ed Miliband as a dead loss, and they fear they cannot win an election with him as potential Prime Minister?

3  Axelrod has a serious understanding of data and how to analyse insights into which of Labour’s messages are cutting through with which groups of voters.
How on earth is he going to understand and analyse the motivations and interpretations of "groups of voters"?  This is so silly it is insane.  He is an AMERICAN for heaven's sake - understanding the cultural nuances of clusters of British voters is going to be entirely beyond him.

4  He is passionate about the role of the grassroots and growing volunteer capacity. 
Oh yeah?  If grassroots volunteers are so important then why appoint this overseas over-paid American "star"?  Why not use the money to put more professional full-time paid staff in constituency offices so they can work directly with the volunteers that are so important?

5  Axelrod’s speciality is developing political stories, or narratives, that resonate emotionally with voters and inspire them to back a party and candidate.
How exactly is he going to do this?  The United Kingdom is not the United States.  On an emotional and inspirational level Mr Axelrod will not have a clue about what issues will "resonate" with British voters - indeed this aspect of his role is destined to result in a stream of political howlers until the inevitable moment when he is quietly retired from the campaign.
Article on Euro-Zone "colonialism" by Philippe Legrain in the New York Times:

Is anyone monitoring the civil servants "co-ordinating" policies at EU level?

Monday, April 21, 2014

New York Times article by Ismail Kushkush

More attention needs to be paid to the turmoil in South Sudan.

This New York Times article by Ismail Kushkushis a rare example of media coverage:

What happened to the ceasefire negotiations in Ethiopia?

The appointment of David Axelrod as Labour's election strategist

The letters page of today's Guardian seems unimpressed with the appointment of David Axelrod as Labour's election strategist.

Of course, one can understand why Ed Miliband has made this appointment.

Unable to keep order among the various factions of his party he is hoping that an outsider will be able to knock heads together and "tell it like it is".

The Axelrod appointment is a sign of Labour weakness, not strength.

Already Owen Jones is putting the boot in.

The Tap Dancer by Andrew Barrow

Over the past week I have read The Tap Dancer by Andrew Barrow.

It has been lying around the house for years so I am not sure what made me pick it up now.

Stylistically it is almost perfect, with each sentence contributing to the whole. 

It's an account of a family as it disintegrates and reforms and disintegrates again. 

Themes are the experience of ageing, the constant obsession with money, coping with tragedy, coping with patriarchy, the sadness of everyday life, the madness of everyday life.

Peter Tatchell

Peter Tatchell appeared on BBC News 24 earlier today telling us the United Kingdom was not a Christian country (according to his highly selective definition).

Mr Tachell is of course an immigrant.

Have we not had enough of immigrants shooting their mouths off about how they want society changed to suit themselves?

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Stone angel clasping stone flowers, with transitory blossoms in the foreground.


Walking the dog, my eye was caught by the patterns in this newly-ploughed field (a strip field, remant of the old medieval field divisions).

The Observer is still banging the drum for open-door immigration

Nick Cohen in this article for the Observer is still banging the drum for open-door immigration:

Doesn't matter how many come.

Doesn't matter whether they obey the law or not.

Doesn't matter what social harm they do when they get here.

Mr Cohen reminds me of the sociable types you see in almost every pub.  The ones who are always buying big rounds of drinks, sociable and outgoing, first to arrive and last to leave.  And then you find out they are drinking the house-keeping money and buying friends with the funds meant to pay the rent.

Friday, April 18, 2014

The lyre-shaped tree

One of the nicest things about the milder weather is that I can take the bigger dog for really long walks (the little dog doesn't like to go too far).

Sometimes we walk for nearly four miles.

Until we can see the lyre-shaped tree.
Service of meditation from 2pm to just after 3pm this afternoon.

Afterwards I felt exhausted.

David Axelrod sneaked in the promise

In this webcast David Axelrod sneaks in the promise that a future Labour government would "...cut where it can":

Well there you are lefties.

On day one of his appointment you know that your new guru is committing you to cuts in expenditure.

Cuts where?

Cuts how fast and how deep?

Who is going to be on the receiving end of these cuts?  You know they must be cuts in government expenditure right?  Which means they are going to be cuts to your union brothers and sisters - to fellow Labour supporters.

"Take the Pledge" indeed!

What exactly has your leadership, through the agency of David Axelrod, pledged you to?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

There is nothing socialist about David Axelrod

The fact that David Axelrod is admired by Alastair Campbell tells you all you need to know about him.

The Labour leadership just took a significant lurch to the right.

The Democrats in America equate to our liberals - there is nothing socialist about David Axelrod.

I cannot think of any move that is more divisive to the left than to appoint this wheeler-dealer fix-it man.

David Axelrod

Is it likely that an American, especially one who worked for Blair pal Bill Clinton, is going to resonate with Labour activists?

David Axelrod is not going to make much headway here I'm afraid.  He has yet to meet Len McCluskey.  He has yet to meet Diane Abbott.

"The chance to work with Douglas Alexander is an incredible opportunity" some American has just inanely said on Newsnight.

The Guardian should beware of the hubris of imperial over-reach

The Guardian is drawing attention to its achievement of over 100 million unique page visits per month:

The Guardian should beware of the hubris of imperial over-reach.

For heathen heart that puts her trust   
In reeking pen and self-hoisted petard,
All valiant dust that builds on dust,
And guarding, calls not Thee to guard,   
For frantic boast and foolish word—
Thy mercy on Thy People, Lord!

(Kipling slightly amended).

How would Vladimir Putin react to Edward Snowden if he had betrayed Russian secrets?
Is it possible that Lateysha Grace is really No 53 in the charts with You Beautiful?

What is the view of the new Culture Secretary on this development?

It seems that the left has decided that the Equality Act does not apply to them

I thought under the terms of the Equality Act 2010 it was illegal to denigrate people on the basis of their religious affiliation?

And yet here we see a Tweet by Ellie Mae O'Hagen (activist with the Unite union and Class think tank) saying that Christians are "creepy".

It seems that the left has decided that the Equality Act does not apply to them.

That it is a political weapon only to be used against the right.

When the law is being broken on a wide scale without any response from the criminal justice system we must conclude that the law (in this case the Equality Act 2010) is an unworkable law and needs to be repealed.

Tom Humberstone

Cartoon in the New Statesman by Tom Humberstone:

I thought under the terms of the Equality Act 2010 it was illegal to denigrate people by national origin?

Abuse of people on the basis of national origin is counted as direct discrimination under the Act.

Can the New Statesman withdraw this cartoon please and apologise for publishing it, and discipline everyone involved in its commissioning, production and publication (perhaps firing the most senior person who signed it off).

Unless of course we can agree that the Equality Act is nonsense and needs to be repealed.