Why Heffer's Wrong
Stephen Heffer is a good writer, even if I personally do not like his writing style. He will not care about that, particularly since I still read the stuff he writes. Today, his Telegraph column defends the reputation of Enoch Powell - and expounds his belief that Nigel Hastilow, the former candidate for Halesowen and Rowley Regis should not have been pressurised and, in effect, forced to resign. Several Conservatives have told me that they take the same view as Stephen Heffer. I think that they and he are wrong - I will outline why.
A new low?
I watched some of the Queen’s Speech debate yesterday, with the intention of watching it all. Instead, I didn’t. I thought that the increasingly brutal exchanges between Gordon Brown and David Cameron were ugly, and not nice viewing. Fundamentally I blame Gordon Brown and his cheap-shot politics. I increasingly adhere to the view that Brown is a Prime Minister without a strategy. He resorts to doing everything he can to derail and discredit the opposition, never mind how low he has to stoop, and never mind how undignified he might look.
Innocent Until Proved Muslim?
Giving evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee this morning, the Forest Gate brothers - wrongly arrested by the police after one of was shot by armed officers - provided a stark reminder of the damage that might be done to community relations, by an extension to the 28 day limit for which police can hold terrorist suspects without charge.
CCHQ concerned at "drift" in Johnson campaign
A senior source inside CCHQ has approached ConservativeHome to warn of "worrying drift" within the Boris Johnson campaign. The problem is "not terminal", they said, and "there was plenty of time to put things right" but Mr Johnson and his advisers had to be more open to help from the central machine and needed "more urgency". Mr Johnson met George Osborne last week to discuss the kind of support that CCHQ could provide his campaign to oust Ken Livingstone.
Queen's Speech: post-ideological politics
Brown bottled a November election not because he was scared of losing to the Tories, but because he needed more time to set out his ‘vision of change for Britain’. Well, that’s what he said at the time, anyway. Yet the most damning criticism most commentators have come up with after yesterday’s Queen’s Speech – the first of Brown’s premiership, and therefore the one that sets the tone for future editions - is the lack of what George Bush senior famously dismissed as the Vision Thing. Hence Cameron was led to remark rhetorically: ‘People are asking, “is that it?”’. Yes, Dave, that was it. For the Lib Dems, Cable waded in with the observation that ‘the anti-climax is deafening’. Isn’t it only climaxes that tend to be noisy, Vince?
Nick Clegg gives it some welly
Credit where it’s due - Nick (Clegg) gave his Home Affairs Queen's Speech some welly! I can't see how the Government has the balls to try and bring back an extension to detention without charge. There is no evidence to demand it. You know - I don't think there is a single MP in the House from any party who would not vote an extension if proper evidence was put before us demonstrating a genuine need.
How busy is the FoI Team at the Treasury today?
Yesterday in Parliament, when David Cameron asked Brown if he honestly been planning to change Inheritance Tax rules before it proves so popular at the Tory Conference Brown said "unequivocally" yes. What's more he said "All the records will show it, under whatever rule they are released under the Freedom of Information Act."
Nick Clegg wins the e-mail battle over Chris Huhne
I have been rather busy this week and have not been that diligent in checking my e-mails. I sat down this evening to go through all my e-mails from various e-mail accounts and was surprised to have received an e-mail from Nick Clegg on Monday, but not from Chris Huhne.
The Top 10 Political Turning Points
As a companion piece to my Top 10 Political Misjudgements, here are what I consider to be the Top 10 Political Turning Points of my lifetime. With the exception of Black Wednesday, which stemmed directly from the misjudgement over the rate at which we entered the ERM, most of these were either random acts of chance which politicians were helpless to deal with - "events, dear boy, events" as Harold Macmillan called them - or, as in the case of the Falklands War or Denis Healey's defeat of Tony Benn, acts of political courage which succeeded in changing the course of history. Will Gordon Brown's election-that-wasn't eventually join the list? Come back here in two years' time and I'll tell you!
The Tories still don’t get racism
I didn’t bother writing earlier on the controversy surrounding Tory candidate Nigel Hastilow, who was chucked out of the party for essentially endorsing Enoch ‘Rivers of Blood’ Powell’s views, because I knew it would follow the same old pattern. He would claim that he was only reflecting the “man on the street”, his supporters would claim that he was being censored by “political correctness gone mad”, many in the Tory rank-and-file would bitch and moan but he would be sacked, maybe to be reinstated later (quietly). We’ve been there plenty of times before.
Could Davis claim his fourth home secretary scalp?
On the second day of the Queen’s speech debate battle was joined on what’s likely to be a difficult issue for the government in the coming session - the move to extend the maximum period that suspects can be held with trial beyond the current 28 days. This is an issue that the Blair government tried and failed to push before but is one that Brown has decided to raise again leaving it up to his home secretary, Jacqui Smith to carry the flag for the government and Labour.
Turkey is more democratic than the EU
If the EU were a country applying to join itself, runs a Brussels joke, it would be turned down for not being democratic enough. The old saw is being vindicated anew by the EU’s treatment of Turkey. Ankara has been told that it must alter its legal code to permit criticism of Turkish nationality. Fair enough: while it’s none of our business to tell Turks how to order their internal affairs, the provision has always struck me as a demeaning one. Turkey should be above such touchiness.
Health and safety did for de Menezes. It's not good enough. It's not good enough just to shrug our shoulders and say that Jean Charles de Menezes was an inevitable casualty of the so-called war on terror. According to the polls I have seen, the majority of voters really seem to think we should all heave a sigh, move on, and accept that someone will always be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I say that I am afraid that will not do, because if you think about what actually happened, and you look at the real reason why an innocent Brazilian electrician had seven shots pumped into his head by the police, it is clear that we are in danger of drawing precisely the wrong conclusion.