Alistair Darling “Usmanovs” the Independent
I have been looking into the methods and techniques in which the Blair and Brown administrations have deceived Parliament and People over the years, ranging from outright lies through delaying the availability of information in order to cause distorted reports in the News Media (as we saw with Gordon Brown’s “tax cut for the poorest” at the last budget), to multiple announcements of false impressions (as we saw with Gordon Brown’s announced plan to withdraw troops from Iraq who had already been withdrawn). Then I spotted an article in the Independent.
Why is it the money that gets the English so cross?
The constitutional settlement created by New Labour is clearly iniquitous. But what is interesting about the current debate is that it is based around the higher public spending per head in Scotland, which existed before devolution, not the West Lothian question.
Brown's squandered billions
Earlier today I posted about George Osborne's unfortunate pledge to match Labour on spending. I think the public mood is changing because of squeezed household budgets and growing awareness of how wasteful Brown and Blair have been with taxpayers' money. If the Conservatives spent the next two years campaigning against waste we could create a climate of opinion that would support slower growth in the size of the state and ensure that voters are better off and the British economy remains competitive.
The focus shifts?
Although much of the media is focusing on Brown's refusal to offer a referendum on the EU treaty, there are straws in the wind which suggest that the Tories are not going to get an easy ride on the issue – unless they get their act together. One of those "straws" was the leader in The Times today which, under the heading, "Cold Calculations", argued that, "The Tories have a compelling case to make on the EU treaty".
Cameron's hollow demand for an EU referendum...
David Cameron's hollow demands for a referendum on the EU treaty hit the buffers - at his own press conference. The Tory Leader exposed his own hypocrisy by repeatedly refusing to say whether he would hold a referendum on the amending treaty if he ever became Prime Minister.
Tories in a muddle on Europe (plus ça change)
Tory leader David Cameron found himself on slippery terrain today when giving his monthly press conference to journalists. The question repeatedly asked was straightforward enough: the Tories have committed to holding a referendum on the EU reform treaty - will that commitment hold true if the treaty is ratified, and they should find themselves in government?
It was only a matter of time before the Blairites got back to attacking Gordon Brown. But this time Tony Blair himself seems to be joining in.
Who's winning? Does Chris need a 12 pt swing?
Is it possible at this early stage in the Leadership contest to make an educated guess as to the final outcome? We don't yet have any serious opinion polls of the membership, and as the 2006 contest proved these can be pretty unreliable bellwethers anyhow, given our small membership. However, given the close proximity of the contest and other indicators we can take a reasonable punt.
Are the Tories cr***ing themselves about Clegg?
Well, I have already torn a strip off Team Clegg for their website today, so this will redress the balance. I have a soft-spot for UK Daily Pundit. It's probably because he or she (any ideas anyone?) has the decency to read the occasional post on this blog and make the odd comment. Thank you UKDP. But he/she are also quite freewheeling. Iain Dale has him/her/them down in the Conservative Top 100, but the blog describes itself as a "centre-right blogger with no party affiliation".
We have enough problems raising turnout without 146,000 votes being rejected
It was evident to me very early on the night of the Scottish elections that something very odd was happening with the voting. There were in the first few announced results an astonishingly high number of rejected ballots, and with issues in Ohio and Florida in mind, where counting machines rejected tens of thousands of votes in the US presidential elections, it seemed as if we had another scandal on our hands.
Fantasists against the state
David Aaronovitch has an excellent column in The Times today about the Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker. If you have heard of Baker at all, it will be for his taste in conspiracy theories concerning the death of the weapons expert Dr David Kelly. I recommend you read the whole article, which includes an informative precedent whose denouement I wasn't previously aware of. This was the murder of an elderly lady, Hilda Murrell, in 1984, and the suspicion - much promoted for years afterwards by the eccentric parliamentarian Tam Dalyell - that Mrs Murrell's anti-nuclear activities had drawn her to the malevolent attention of the security services. David writes: