National politics

Milliband humiliated in Lisbon

Today the papers are full of comments on Brown’s mishandling of the Lisbon signing and his humiliation of his Foreign Secretary, David Milliband.

Ben McIntyre of the Times:

But Milliband’s problem was that he came down on his own and didn’t actually have anyone to shake hands with. With the stage empty after he signed, the only person whose hand he could find to shake was the European attendant who carries all the books and paperwork. The chap looked utterly bemused.

Ian Traynor of the Guardian:

Last week, Brown exasperated other EU leaders by boycotting a summit with Africa. Yesterday, his attendance appeared half-hearted.

Andrew Gimson’s sketch in the Telegraph was headlined “Brown’s sulk exposes more than just Milliband”.

To highlight the naff, sleazy depths towards which Brown’s administration has fallen so quickly I thought it was timely to reproduce this photo of Milliband with the disgraced, convicted and disqualified Miranda Grell.

'Grell and David  Milliband

National politics

Preview of tonight’s Tory broadcast

National politics

Labour on the phone

On Tuesday we held the second Northfield ward forum, more on that later. In passing David Millican, one of our three councillors, told me he had been canvassed by Labour – by an automated telephone call. The same thing happened to me last night. The call went along the lines of “If you are going to vote Labour press 1, if you are going to …”.

I hate anyone calling me, especially in the evening, unless they are a real person I want to talk to. Automated calls just make me foam with anger. Machines don’t have lives they just just waste ours!

No doubt Brown is trying to work out whether to go to the country. I wouldn’t trust the result from automated canvassing.

National politics

Brown’s speech

Gordon BrownI don’t normally cover national politics but Gordon Brown’s emetic speech yesterday to the Labour conference has spurred me into action.

The first passage I came to was:

I attended the local state primary school in Kirkcaldy a few streets away from where I lived – and then I took the school bus to the local secondary school up the hill.

This really is disingenuous rubbish. Between 1958 and 1972 Kirkcaldy High School, Brown’s alma mater, was “the only provider of senior secondary education in the area” according to that school’s current prospectus. Gordon Brown went to the only grammar school in the area but the arch spinner describes it as the “local secondary school up the hill”. Remember Brown lost his eye playing rugby at a public school-aping grammar.

After a lot more blather the Chancellor talked about personalising education:

Learning personal to each pupil.

Education available to all – not one size fits all but responding to individual needs.

This is the future for our public services. Accessible to all, personal to you. Not just a basic standard but the best quality tailored to your needs. Education is my passion.

It is hard to know how you are going to make education more personal if you believe in command and control as Brown does. In the passage immediately before this guff he laid out more central prescriptions for schools:

And because I want every child to be a reader, every child to be able to count, we have decided that one-to-one tuition will be there in our schools not just for Max, but for 300,000 children in English and 300,000 in maths.

And because we want to unlock all the potential, not just the three R’s, for every pupil as we look ahead with pride to the Olympics we aim for the first time for five hours a week sport and time for arts and music too.

So for every secondary pupil a personal tutor throughout their school years – and starting with 600,000 pupils, small group tuition too.

So we are to have personal services in our 100,000s. Doh!

Brown does the same thing with health. First the rhetoric:

So let me set out how we take the NHS into a new era.

Our great achievement of the 1940s was a service universal to all. In 2007 we need a service that is accessible to all and personal to all.

Our great ambition now: a National Health Service that is also a personal health service.

Then comes the list of centralised prescriptions:

And to make sure every hospital is clean and safe, following best practice around the world, there will be new funds direct to every hospital for a deep clean of our wards.

We will more than double the number of hospital matrons to 5,000. We will give matrons and ward sisters in all 10,000 wards the powers to report cleaning contractors and safety concerns directly to hospital boards and a stronger health care commission.

And I can announce that matrons will have the power to order additional cleaning and send out a message – meet the highest standards of cleanliness or lose your contract.

The guy can’t be truthful about his own roots and is appropriating the whole personalisation shtick to sell his vision of Soviet style centralised services.

National politics

Newsnight’s gang of four

Cameron on NewsnightI wasn’t too impressed with Newsnight’s four on one interview with David Cameron last night. Both Political Editor, Michael Crick, and Economics Editor, Stephanie Flanders, were particularly hectoring.

I salute Cameron for his bravery. Macavity Brown only does soft pre-recorded one on one interviews with Andrew Marr.

Stephanie FlandersWhat really struck me was Stephanie Flanders using the opportunity to bring her personal circumstances into the interview.

I’m not married, I have a small child, are you saying the Conservative Party would like me to be married?

I don’t know about the Conservative Party but I think that with her Oxford and Harvard education she is probably bright enough to work out that her child’s development will on average be blighted without a man in her life and one that sticks around, er, like a husband. Having a go at Ian Duncan Smith’s proposals to incentivise marriage she asked:

Have you ever met anybody who would get married for £20 per week?

I suspect Cameron has met loads of people who think £20 a week is a lot. I don’t suppose that either Cameron or Flanders personally KNOWS many people who do. But, as Economics Editor for Newsnight clearly Flanders is not familiar with the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) provided by National Statistics. If she was she would know that last year median (ie middle of the range) earnings were £23,244 for full-time employees. She should also know that 90% of full-time employees earn less than £46,072 per annum. I am sure that Flanders is in the top 10% of earners and can afford any help she wants to further her gilded career. For the rest of us £1K a year in our pockets is a big incentive.

David Cameron on newsnight in shadowThe other thing that struck me was the lighting. Who put a down light on Cameron so that the shadow of his nose formed a Hitler moustache on his top lip and made his eyes look sunken? The Newsnight four were not lit like that.

Did Newsnight do it on purpose? Didn’t Cameron’s minders notice?

National politics

Cameron in Tooting

This lunchtime I ventured to Tooting to hear David Cameron lay out his plans for beating Gordon Brown and winning the next general election. Two other Ealing councillors were there: Edmund Yeo and Jim Randall.

It was good stuff and the way Cameron contrasted centralised state control, so inextricably linked with Gordon Brown, and his own vision of social responsibility resonated with me at least. The “Our society. Your Life” line did not work quite so well with me but I got the idea. It was a great event with 200 activists enthusiastically welcoming what Cameron had to say. I could have done without Fancis Maude as MC but the warm up acts, two PPCs plus MPs Grant Schapps and Michael Gove were all good and went a long way to showing that the Conservatives have a whole range of talent.

In questions Michael Crick, Newsnight’s political correspondent, had a go at Cameron on his “grammar stream in every subject, in every school” offering. “Would Cameron allow schools to opt out if they wished?” Yes, of course he would as Cameron wanted more choice for parents and more independence for schools so if parents liked a school without a grammar stream then fine. Crick back in box. I can guarantee that this segment will not appear on Newsnight tonight as it made Crick look a twit.

Winston MacKenzie, complete witrh fedora, introduced himself as the leading Conservative candidate to be London Mayor. Cameron was quick to quip “You are now”. His rambling question was basically: “How are you going to reach black boys?” Cameron’s answer was through their parents and their community which is what he means by social responsiblity. McKenzie did not say that he used to be a Veritas man.

Channel 4 tried to ambush Cameron with an unpublished poll to be aired tonight on C4 which seemed to be a bit rude as no-one else knew what the guy were talking about. Talk about up yourself.

The message I will take back to Ealing, which comes naturally anyway to me and is pretty much the Ealing Conservatives’ motto, is “standing up for all of the people, all of the time”. Amen.

National politics

Resign! Resign!

Number 10 Crest.gifA clever chap called Edward Clarke has noticed a new e-petitions feature on the Number 10 website. He has proposed the following petition: “We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Resign immediately”.

The closing date is 15th December so get going.

Follow the link to add your voice.

As of now the Resign immediately petition had 65 votes in sixth place behind the 71 votes of the Legalise cannabis petition.