Monday, November 30, 2009

The Daley (Half) Dozen: Monday

1. Dizzy has a nightamre experience in the Blackwall Tunnel. And that's not a euphemism.
2. Tory Bear takes the new chair of Young Labour to task HERE, HERE and HERE.
3. And Rene Levanchy wonders who leaked the information to Tory Bear. Hmmm. If only he knew.
4. Iain Martin thinks Michael Gove is in the dog house. For now.
5. Jon Craig counted more soldiers than MPs in the Commons for Brown's Afghan statement.
6. Iain Martin (yes, him again) on the problem with Phillip Blond.

Timetable for the Election

This is from a House of Commons Research Paper and shows the timetable for a general election assuming the five most likely dates in 2010. Conventional wisdom says that the election will coincide with the local elections on 6th May. That's what most commentators believe. There is another reason to suppose it will be held then too - Labour can't afford two lots of elections within weeks of each other.

I still maintain the view that any sensible Prime Minister would not hold an election the week after people receive much lighter than usual paypackets. April sees the introduction of all the new tax rises imposed in the 2009 budget. People seem to have forgotten about those.

Perhaps the way round this is for local elections to be postponed until 3 June, to coincide with a general election.

But then again, more and more people seem to be talking about March.

Frankly only one person knows, and he ain't tellin'. But then again, perhaps he doesn't know yet, either.

Hattip: Mark Pack

LibDems Try to Mitigate Effect of Mansion Tax on LibDem Marginals

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Nick Clegg has taken some risky and sometimes brave decisions as LibDem leader. He appeared to have shifted the party to a low tax, market based approach - away from the more social democratic approach of his two immediate predecessors. In fact, he seemed to be trying to move the Liberal Democrats back to being a truly liberal party - at least from an economic viewpoint.

But today's tax announcements leave me wondering. Having moved the party from being a party whose instincts were to put up taxes (remember a penny on income tax for education and the 50% rate for high earners), he then extolled the virtues of tax cuts. But his party were less than gruntled. And then at last year's conference Vince Cable's halo was severely tarnished when he announced a whole raft of measures which appeared very ill thought out. These included a Mansion Tax of 1% of the property's value on all properties worth in exess of £1 million. Susan Kramer and others were incandescent. After all, in her marginal seat there were thousands of people who owned houses in that bracket but who were not cash rich.

Today's tax announcements by Nick Clegg and Vince Cable have some superficial attractions about them as they cut taxes for many of the lower paid - something the Conservatives are committed to doing too. But their means of balancing the books will attract huge controversy. The Mansion Tax stays, albeit it will now only affect properties worth £2 million or more, but at 2%, rather than 1%. Will that placate Susan Kramer and other south west London MPs? In some ways, who cares, as it is clear that this policy is mired in LibDem politics rather than proper economics.

The cost of the LibDem tax cuts is £16.5 billion. The Mansion Tax will raise £1.7 bn. So where;s the rest coming from? They want to restrict tax relief on pension contributions to the basic rate (£4.7 bn). Capital Gains tax increases will bring in £4.1 bn. Taxes on aircraft and passengers will raise a further £2.1 bn, while a massive £4.67 bn is said to be raised through closing various tax loopholes.

For a party which wants to make " savage cuts" in public spending, you might imagine that their tax policies would be more radical than this.

Of coruse the fact of the matter is that the LibDems won't form the next government, so in some ways I don't know why I have spent so long discussing their tax plans, as it would take a political earthquake for them to be in a position to implement them.

Still, makes them feel wanted, doesn't it?

Book of the Day: British Electoral Facts

  • How many ethnic minority candidates stood for the LibDems in 1983?
  • How many people spolied their ballot papers in the 1979 election?
  • Which parliamentary session has experienced the most by-elections?
  • What was the weather like on polling day in 1964?
  • How many votes did Labour get in 1906?

  • If you want to know the answers to those questions, buy this book! When I was at Politico's I got fed up with academic publishers publishing books priced outside the range of normal bookbuyers. When Rallings & Thrasher brought out their book, British Electoral Facts in hardback, it was priced at a massive £85! My company Biteback have now published a paperback edition priced at £19.99 (available HERE at £14.99).

    Essentially, the 300 pages contain a treasure trove of historical political facts about every conceivable aspect of British electoral politics. As well as the expected election results, going back to 1832, it looks at party votes, turnouts, swings, size of electorate, changes inn electoral law, postal vote turnout, boundary reviews, demographics of election candidates, by-elections, European election data, regional differences, devolution, local government and referendums.

    In short it is a book which is surely a must-buy for anyone interested in elections and electoral statistics. Let's put it this way. If you gave it to Davd Dimbleby, he'd probably keep it by his side during the election night programme.

    What About the Planet?

    As preparations mount for the Copenhagen summit, which will be attended by more than 15,000 delegates and diplomats, The Independent reports that up to 30,000 environmental activists will be going along for ride too. The hypocrisy is astonishing. [sticks tongue in cheek] Do they not care about the planet? Do they not think about their carbon footprint? Clearly not. And they have the cheek to lecture the rest of us about how we should cut down on the number of flights we take.

    Scottish Parties Are Blind to the Obvious

    Blinkered. That's the only way to describe the idiotic decision by the three main parties to oppose a referendum on Scottish independence, which the SNP promised in their manifesto and are delivering on today, when they issue a white paper. If there's one way to whip up separationist tendencies Tavish Scott, Iain Gray and Annabelle Goldie appear to have found it.

    The SNP have a mandate for the referendum. Perhaps I am missing something, and no doubt you will tell me if I am, but the SNP would lose a referendum of it were taken within the next year, so what have the three main parties got to lose by allowing the SNP to press ahead? If the vote is lost it would kill the SNP's electoral fortunes for a decade or more.

    The simplest path when it comes to a vote in the Scottish Parliament is for the other parties to abstain. But it looks as if they will continue to act like ostriches and use the referendum as a stick to beat the SNP with. Alex Salmond may have had a bad year, but he is not to be underestimated. As a political tactician he is in a different league to his opponents, and they would do well to remember that.

    Sunday, November 29, 2009

    The 7 Days Show Podcast: Episode 4

    The latest edition of the Seven Days Show is now online. In this week's episode the raffish Sir Jonathan Sheppard talks to me, the distinctly posh Iain Campbell-Dale, about the last seven days in politics.

    In this week's edition we discuss Zac Goldsmith; being posh and whether “Tory Toff” attacks will succeed; localism and direct democracy and whether such an aim is ever achievable; issues in the NHS; UKIP and the election of their new leader; and an exclusive as to whether I made it onto the Beckenham shortlist after Daniel Poulter's selection in Suffolk (short answer is, no I didn't - that bit's at about 20 mins in); and what a waste of time Early Day Motions are.

    To listen to the podcast click HERE, or you can also subscribe to the show in the Tory Radio section in the podcast area of Itunes.

    Norwich North Labour Party Gives Up On Seat

    Chloe Smith may be forgiven for having an extra tincture tonight. Antony Little is reporting that Norwich North Labour Party have selected - wait for it - an Ipswich councillor to fight the seat at the next election. In Norfolk there are limits to their inclusiveness, you know.

    UPDATE: It seems some of my readers are unaware of the rather bitter rivalry between Ipswich and Norwich. Let's put it this way. It's a bit like Celtic signing a Rangers player. Geddit?

    The Week Ahead

    The BBC Politics Show is introducing a new regular feature at the end of each show, where someone from the political world looks at the week ahead in politics. I was the guinea pig today and talked about LibDem tax plans, the unemployment figures and the Gosport Open Primary.

    Click HERE to watch the three minute segment and then scroll in to 56 mins 20 secs.

    The Daley Dozen: Sunday

    1. People's Republic of Mortimer thinks the Iraq Inquiry is toothless.
    2. Ellee Seymour on how the NHS should clean up its act.
    3. Matthew Sinclair says the Conservatives can't avoid the big issues on climate change.
    4. Graeme Reid asks if Spelthorne is jinxed.
    5. Rumours of Tom Harris's defection have been greatly exaggerated.
    6. Letters From a Tory on how Climategate is going legal.
    7. Tim Worstall on why Socialists are idiots.
    8. Paul Waugh on the Goldsmith memo to Blair in the Mail on Sunday.
    9. Tim Montgomerie on double barrelled names.
    10. Raedwald on why the Scottish Tories should split.
    11. SNP Tactical Voting on the SNP's 'Damian McBride moment'.
    12. Your Freedom & Ours examines rthe EU's 10 Year Plan.

    And as a special bonus, read the PJC Journal for news of the election of Chris Mounsey aka Devil's Kitchen, as the new leader of the Libertarian Party UK.

    'Trust Us' Say Climate Change Scientists

    Sunday Times Environment Editor Jonathan Leake has written a brilliant summary of the Climategate scandal HERE. Anyone who is interested in the continuing debate about the science around climate change should read it. Here is an extract...

    Al Gore, the former US vice-president turned green campaigner, has described the climate debate as “settled”. Yet the science, say critics, has not been tested to the limit. This is why the climatic research unit at the University of East Anglia is so significant.

    Its researchers have built up records of how temperatures have changed over thousands of years. Perhaps the most important is the land and sea temperature record for the world since the mid-19th century. This is the database that shows the “unequivocal” rise of 0.8C over the last 157 years on which Mann’s hockey stick and much else in climate science depend.

    Some critics believe that the unit’s findings need to be treated with more caution, because all the published data have been “corrected” — meaning they have been altered to compensate for possible anomalies in the way they were taken. Such changes are normal; what’s controversial is how they are done. This is compounded by the unwillingness of the unit to release the original raw data.

    David Holland, an engineer from Northampton, is one of a number of sceptics who believe the unit has got this process wrong. When he submitted a request for the figures under freedom of information laws he was refused because it was “not in the public interest”.

    Others who made similar requests were turned down because they were not academics, among them McIntyre, a Canadian who runs the Climate Audit website.

    A genuine academic, Ross McKitrick, professor of economics at the University of Guelph in Canada, also tried. He said: “I was rejected for an entirely different reason. The [unit] told me they had obtained the data under confidentiality agreements and so could not supply them. This was odd because they had already supplied some of them to other academics, but only those who support the idea of climate change.”

    IT was against this background that the emails were leaked last week, reinforcing suspicions that scientific objectivity has been sacrificed. There is unease even among researchers who strongly support the idea that humans are changing the climate. Roger Pielke, professor of environmental studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder, said: “Over the last decade there has been a very political battle between the climate sceptics and activist scientists.

    “It seems to me that the scientists have lost touch with what they were up to. They saw themselves as in a battle with the sceptics rather than advancing scientific knowledge.”

    Professor Mike Hulme, a fellow researcher of Jones at the University of East Anglia and author of Why We Disagree About Climate Change, said: “The attitudes revealed in the emails do not look good. The tribalism that some of the leaked emails display is something more usually associated with social organisation within primitive cultures; it is not attractive when we find it at work inside science.”

    There could, however, be another reason why the unit rejected requests to see its data.

    This weekend it emerged that the unit has thrown away much of the data. Tucked away on its website is this statement: “Data storage availability in the 1980s meant that we were not able to keep the multiple sources for some sites ... We, therefore, do not hold the original raw data but only the value-added (ie, quality controlled and homogenised) data.”

    If true, it is extraordinary. It means that the data on which a large part of the world’s understanding of climate change is based can never be revisited or checked. Pielke said: “Can this be serious? It is now impossible to create a new temperature index from scratch. [The unit] is basically saying, ‘Trust us’.”

    No thanks.

    UPDATE: Neil Hamilton has written a good column in this week's Sunday Express on this issue HERE.


    There was lots of sanctimonious guff on Twitter from assorted lefties last night about the Sunday Times story that Zac Goldsmith is a 'non dom'. They even tried to suggest that he should resign as a candidate or David Cameron should sack him. Er, on what grounds exactly? What law has he broken? Yup, that's right, none. His tax status is a matter between him and the tax authorities. If they are satisfied with it, it's rather difficult to see why Kerry McCarthy (for it is she) shouldn't be. In any case, Goldsmith has decided to withdraw from 'non dom' status before the election so that's rather spiked the guns of those who seek to do him down.

    There's another Tory Toff story in the Mail on Sunday. Apparently David Cameron is trying to persuade Tory candidates with double barrelled names to change them to single surnames. Or not. He made a jokey remark to Annunziata Rees-Mogg about the benefits of changing her name to Nancy Mogg. She didn't, it appears see the funny side of it. I think Jake Mogg has a certain ring to it too. If I had followed my mother's advice when I was 17 I would now be called Iain Campbell-Dale. She advised me to make my middle and surnames into a double barrelled name as it "would help me get on in life". And who can say she wasn't right? The trouble is, I have always hated by middle name so there wasn't a cat in hell's chance of that happening.

    So here's a challenge. Make up some double barrelled names for some of our politicians and leave them in the comments.

    Saturday, November 28, 2009

    More Hospitals as Dangerous as Basildon

    In my Eastern Daily Press column today I wrote...
    How is it possible for Basildon University Hospital to be rated “Good” on the very same day that it was established that dozens of people had needlessly died due to the filthy conditions on its wards. Blood was found spattered on curtains and chairs in the A&E ward, patients were not being fed properly and patients were being treated on trollies. Mortality rates were a third higher than comparable hospitals. It is clear that the entire management of the hospital needs to be replaced quickly. But what it also shows is that hospital ratings are worth nothing. If Basildon is rated ‘Good’ be very worried about hospitals which are only rated ‘Satisfactory’.
    Today we had news that the Chairman of the Colchester PCT has been sacked after serious deficiencies were found in the area's general hospital. Tonight The Observer has revealed findings of a Doctor Foster's hospital report, which shows that 18 hospitals have equivalent or higher death rates than Basildon and 39% fail to investiagte causes of death properly. Assuming one can trust the results of this survey, this is all deeply worrying for everyone.

    But one thing is clear. All this is the result of the tick box mentality which Labour has instilled into NHS managers. As long as boxes are ticked, a hospital can be classified as 'good', even if standards of cleanliness and patient care leave a lot to be desired.

    Friday, November 27, 2009

    Daniel Poulter Selected for Central Suffolk

    Consultant gynaecologist Daniel Poulter has this evening been selected to succeed Sir Michael Lord as Conservative candidate for Central Suffolk & North Ipswich. Graham Dines has the full story HERE on the East Anglian Daily Times website.

    Poulter was also a finalist for Beckenham, which selects next week. He beat five other candidates: Katy Bourne, Tim Clark, Joanna Gardner, Dominic Schofield, and Claire Strong.

    The Daley Dozen: Friday

    1. Liam Murray wonders why Alastair Campbell is crying foul.
    2. Craig Murray on the dispensable Jeremy Greenstock.
    3. Tim Montgomerie thinks Gary McKinnon should be extradited.
    4. So does Tom Harris. I don't.
    5. Devil's Kitchen thinks Climategate cannot be swept under the carpet.
    6. Danny Finkelstein on John Major, Neil Kinnock & PPBs.

    UKIP Gets a New Leader

    News has just broken that Lord Pearson has been elected leader of the UK Independence Party, succeeding the buccaneering Nigel Farage. Malcolm Pearson only joined UKIP a few years ago, having been a leading light (and donor) in the Conservative Party for many years.

    He was clearly the most talented of the five contenders for the position (not difficult), but he has a very hard act to follow. Nigel Farage was a terrific leader for UKIP and gave them a profile they never had before. He certainly suffered setbacks along the way, but UKIP has many reasons to be grateful to him - not least that they still exist.

    Farage now has the time to concentrate on his campaign to oust John Bercow from Buckingham at the next election, and I don't expect his media profile to diminish very much. If anything, freed from the shackles of office, he may actually become even more prominent.

    But Lord Pearson is a powerful advocate and isn't shy himself in the media stakes. He hasn't got the man of the people appeal of Farage, but it will be interesting to see what the media makes of him. I can't say I wish him luck, but he is a fundamentally good man and it's always good to see decent people rise to the top of political parties, even when you disagree with them.

    Mandy Gets Another Title

    Excuse me if I am coming to the party late on this one, but I haven't seen a reference to it anywhere else. Apparently Peter Mandelson has been appointed as a Church Commissioner! No, really. Here's Lord Hunt from the Lords Hansard...

    Lord Hunt of Wirral: I thank the noble Lord the First Secretary of State, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills and Lord President of the Council for introducing this very important debate. I also welcome the latest expansion of his portfolio. I know that his role as Minister for Information has not yet been publicly confirmed but, having presumably become dissatisfied with the domain temporal, I understand that the First Secretary of State has now extended his remit into the domain spiritual as well. I apologise to him for not mentioning this before, and I sense a slight flurry of unease on the Bishops' Benches, but the noble Lord is to be congratulated on becoming a Church Commissioner.

    A number of jokes come to mind. But I'd best keep them to myself...

    Note: Mandelson's title is now First Secretary of State, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, President of the Board of Trade and Lord President of the Council and Church Commissioner.

    Programmes You'll Never See on the BBC

    From now on, BBC1 is to be rebranded DAVE. And here's the programme schedule for Day One*...

    6am The Big Breakfast with Eric Pickles
    10.00am Bargain Jeremy Hunt
    10.30am This Morning with Ann & Nick Winterton
    11.30am Grumpy Old Tories with Sir Peter & Sir Patrick
    12.00noon The Saint and Dominic Grievesey
    1.00pm Fox News with Liam and Jesme
    1.30pm Keith & Mrs Simpson
    2.00pm The Darling Buds of Theresa May
    2.30pm Just William Hague
    3.00pm The Graham Brady Bunch
    3.30pm Biker Gove with PJ & Alan Duncan
    4.00pm Skippy the George W Bush Kangaroo
    4.15pm Blue Peter with Richard Bacon
    4.30pm Bill Cash in the Attic
    5.00pm The Weakest Spink
    5.30pm The ToryTubbies with Nicholas Soames
    6.00pm Judge John Reid
    6.30pm How do you solve a problem like Maria Miller?
    7.00pm IainDale Farm
    9.00pm Liddington Britain
    9.30pm I’m a Conservative, Get me out of Here
    10.00pm The Ten O'Clock News with Nadine Dorries
    10.30pm Bluesnight, presented by Paul Goodman
    11.20 The George Osbornes
    10.30pm Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Isaby
    11.00pm Blue Dwarf
    11.30pm Michael Howard’s Way
    12.00 Conservative Love Island hosted by Ann Widdecombe & John Hayes
    1.00am John Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased)
    1.30am Candid Cameron

    If you can think of any more to include in the schedules, leave them in the comments!

    * based on a blogpost published on this blog in August 2006.

    Gyimah Trumps Gosport Candidates With Google Ad Campaign

    Gosport is hosting the second all-postal Open Primary next week. I haven't followed it much, to be honest, but I noticed that one of the four candidates, Sam Gyimah, had a Google Ad on my blog, so I decided to click on it. It linked to his campaign website, which I think is one of the most impressive I have seen. You can have a look HERE. He's been very clever with his Google marketing, as if you search for two of the other candidates, James Bethell and Caroline Dineage, the first site to come up is that of Sam Gyimah himself!

    The other candidates also have good sites and it is clear that several of them are spending every waking hour in Gosport, campaigning for the selection.

    The three other candidates are Julia Manning, Caroline Dineage, James Bethell.

    It will be interesting to see if the turnout in this Open Primary is as high as the one in Totnes.

    PS Just for the record, the posting of this story does not mean I endorse Sam Gyimah for the seat. I know him a little and he would be an excellent candidate, but I also have a soft spot for Julia Manning, who I got to know in the Bracknell process. I don't know James and Caroline as well but I am sure all four would make great MPs. There, have I covered myself?

    Lord Falconer Speaketh With Forked Tongue

    I thought Question Time last night was one of the better ones of late. But I thought Lord Falconer went a little far in one of his comments. At best it was misleading, at worst it was, well, make up your own minds. This is what he said aboutthe War in Iraq about six minutes in...

    The British government never at any time suggested there was a link between Al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein.

    This is far from the truth. Tony Blair did exactly that in his speech to the Commons when the vote was taken to support military action, on March 18 2003. Here is the quote:

    Those two threats [terrorism and states with NBC weapons] have, of course, different motives and different origins, but they share one basic common view: they detest the freedom, democracy and tolerance that are the hallmarks of our way of life. At the moment, I accept fully that the association between the two is loose, but it is hardening. The possibility of the two coming together of terrorist groups in possession of weapons of mass destruction or even of a socalled dirty radiological bomb is now, in my judgment, a real and present danger to Britain and its national security.

    Tony Blair, 18 March 2003, House of Commons"
    Blair quite clearly says the association is 'loose but hardening'. Lord Falconer put in an otherwise impressive performance last night in his defence of Tony Blair and the War in Iraq. But he should have been pulled up on this misleading statement.

    Thursday, November 26, 2009

    An Evening With The Man in a White Suit

    Every time I go to a West Ham match I pop in to the Newham Bookshop, which is a few yards away from the ground. It's a wonderfully chaotic bookshop but is fantastically successful and plays a real role in the local community. Tonight they hosted an event at Wanstead Library with Martin Bell and I played the role of interviewer. I left Tunbridge Wells at 4.45 but due to horrendous traffic problems on the M25, A2 and A20 I arrived a little late but no one seemed to mind. The audience was very lively and engaged in the issue we were there to talk about - restoring the reputation of parliament.

    As you can imagine, I don't agree with everything Martin Bell says on the issue - I think he can sometimes be overly simplistic and is too eager to tar everyone with the same brush. But he has some valid arguments which very much resonated with the audience. It was a very good humoured event and the audience seemed just as interested in my views as they were in Martin's. They especially liked it when I read out a tweet from Christine Hamilton who expressed the hope that my traffic problems would continue but that if I did eventually arrive, would I please kick Mr Bell in his non existent balls! Even Martin had to laugh at that.

    I found it very encouraging that around 150 people were willing to turn out on a damp, dark night to listen to a debate about the future of politics. Few of them were political activists but all were deeply concerned by what is happening to our politics.

    The Daley (Half) Dozen: Thursday

    1. Quaequam Blog gives its views on a Lib/Tory coalition. And it ain't pretty.
    2. Letters From a Tory asks if Eric Pickles would relish a March 25th election.
    3. Conservative History Journal on Thanksgiving Day.
    4. Mark Pack on a bit of MP Twitter panic.
    5. Tom Harris foresees Lord Griffin of Barking.
    6. PublicAffairsCentral on how lobbyists are undergoing a Tory rebrand.

    UPDATE: Have a read of this speech by Will Straw of Left Foot Forward about blogging. Very preceptive.

    All Change at the Telegraph

    There has been some musical chairs at the Telegraph this morning. Will Lewis, the editor, is moving upstairs to be Managing Director of the Telegraph Group and is replaced by his deputy, Tony Gallagher (a fellow West Ham fan!), who masterminded the expenses revelations. Ben Brogan (not a West Ham fan) replaces Gallagher as Deputy Editor. Both Gallagher and Brogan came to the Telegraph from the Daily Mail, so some will see this as the completion of the Telegraph's 'Mailisation' project - if it ever existed.

    I have also been hearing rumours of a big departure from another broadsheet paper, but so far I have been unable to get the rumours confirmed. You'll be the first to know if I do.

    Interviewing Martin Bell

    Tonight I am interviewing former MP Martin Bell about his new book, A VERY BRITISH REVOLUTION.

    It charts the expenses scandal and looks at possible solutions. The event takes place at Wanstead Library and I am told that it is a sellout. Always nice to have a big audience.

    If you have any questions you think I ought to put to Mr Bell - not just aboiut expenses, but his career, do leave them in the comments.

    You can buy Martin Bell's book HERE.

    Bringing Sylvia to Heal

    Click on the image to enlarge

    Sylvia Heal is a Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons. She is meant to be politically impartial. But the above email puts this into doubt. Her House of Commons assisant, Phil Harris, has used his parliamentary email to urge Labour Party members in the Halesowen constituency to book tickets for a Cameron Direct meeting "to give him some difficult questions".

    Dear Member attached are details of the visit by David Cameron this Friday. If any of you are available to apply for tickets please can you. So that there is a mixed audience that may give him some difficult questions.

    Sylvia Heal now has some difficult questions to answer herself. Like what is her parliamentary assistant doing using his parliamentary email address to email Labour Party members in this manner?

    Wednesday, November 25, 2009

    The Daley (Half) Dozen: Wednesday

    1. Richard Willis on the Supreme Court and bank charges.
    2. Next Left on Red Toryism.
    3. Robin Cook is remembered by Paul Waugh.
    4. Charles Crawford praises Dominic Raab.
    5. Luke Akehurst launches a Spot the Difference competition.
    6. Cranmer imagines what a Hung Cabinet would look like.

    There Now Follows...

    Eleven years ago, when I was at Politico's, I produced a three hour video of Party Political Broadcasts. Incredibly, it became a bit of a cult hit and sold more than 6,000 copies. It even made the 'And Finally' slot on News at Ten. We wanted to call it THERE NOW FOLLOWS but we then got a letter from some idiot BBC lawyer telling us it would be breaching their copyright, as they had made a documentary a decade earlieer with that title. So we called it simply PARTY POLITICAL BROADCASTS: THE GREATEST HITS.

    Tonight, Hanover Communications are sponsoring an event at the BFI which I hope to attend, which celebrates 75 years of PPBs. David Dimbleby is hosting a panel discussion I believe. You can watch an amusing 30 second trailer HERE.

    A few years ago I planned to turn the video into a DVD and add some more recent PPBs, but one of the parties wouldn't give copyright permission so it never happened. However, I think I'm going to revisit the issue and see if I can't make it happen now.

    Watch this space. But if we did do it, which PPBs since 1997 should we include?

    UPDATE: Do visit THIS site run by Sheffield University. It has loads of PPBs on video from 1951-64.

    An Evening With Erith Tories

    Last evening I spent a very enjoyable evening speaking to Erith & Thamesmead Conservatives at a fundraiser for their very energetic PPC Colin Bloom. It took place in an excellent Tandoori in Belvedere. I'm more of a meat and two veg man, but I have to say it was the best Indian food I have ever tasted.

    It was a challenging environment in which to make a speech as there was a lot of background noise from the kitchen, which was quite distracting. I had also forgotten to put on my glasses so it was impossible to read the few scant notes I had made on a piece of paper on the table. What I find is that every time I make a speech, I learn something new. Anyway, it all seemed to go quite well.

    Colin and I then took questions. He passed me all the difficult ones! It was good to see Simon Marcus at the event. Simon used to work for me at Politico's and is now the party's candidate in Barking, standing against Margaret Hodge and Nick Griffin. What a way to lose your political virginity!

    Colin has a 6,000 Labour majority to overturn. His is exactly the sort of seat the party needs to gain in order to get a good working majority. He clearly has a very active and dedicated group of activists helping him and I hope he gets the help he deserves from the neighbouring Conservative seats.

    Anyway, my next two Tory speaking events are this Friday in Thanet South for Laura Sandys, and next Friday at the University of Southampton. Hope to see one or two of you there.

    Words to Warm the Cockles of My Chum's Heart

    Here's an email I received last night, which Dominic Raab will certainly like, but I suspect that it will go down rather well with Comrade my chum Eric Pickles...


    As an apolitical businessman but avid reader of political blogs I attended the Esher & Walton open primary last Saturday. The attendance was huge - over 700 people. This was the most energised political meeting I have ever attended. It was a joy to listen to 6 articulate committed candidates all of whom would have made excellent MPs.

    The winner (certainly not my first choice prior to the meeting) was outstanding. Dominic Raab will make a great candidate.

    This process is a great way of engaging the local community - I talked to Labour voters, Libdems and Tories and they were all enthused at local democracy in action.

    One major criticism of the candidate list was that there were no local candidates - I actually think this made it a more interesting choice - all had to commit to moving their families and had to work hard to understand local issues.

    It is a tribute to all of them how much effort they had put it.

    Having experienced a bruising 18 months in business and being very cynical of all political spin this restored a modicum of faith in our democratic system. Dominic has a lot to live up to but I feel optimistic.



    Tuesday, November 24, 2009

    The Daley Dozen: Tuesday

    1. Bob Piper praises George Osborne's recycling proposals.
    2. Donal Blaney pays tribute to Christina Schmid.
    3. Burning our Money on Climategate.
    4. Jon Craig uncovers a coverup over the Damian Green arrest.
    5. Mike Smithson teaches James Macintyre a polling lesson.
    6. Tom Harris doesn't fancy a Thursday evening PMQs. Lazy bugger.
    7. Dizzy says Harriet Harman features in Fiesta Magazine. Or there again...
    8. Alastair Campbell is a tad annoyed with the BBC lack of coverage of the party leaders' CBI speeches.
    9. Ellee Seymour rails against the term Suffolk Swedes.
    10. Hold the front page. Kerry McCarthy says something nice about me.
    11. Shane Greer wants to go on a date with Jan Moir. And he's only recently married...
    12. Douglas Carswell is disappointed by the Wright Committee proposals.

    No, Mehdi, I Haven't Turned on the New Statesman

    The New Statesman's senior political editor Mehdi Hasan has written a blogpost titled IAIN DALE & ME. I must admit, I wasn't sure what to expect. It didn't start well.
    I have an admission: prior to joining the New Statesman in June, I disliked Iain Dale.

    It didn't end well, either.

    Iain, you can remain a slave to political opinion. James [Macintyre] and I prefer to lead it.

    Well, you've got to laugh, haven't you? This was a reference to their view, expressed by Macintyre yesterday that Labour will win the next election. Apparently, according to Hasan, I expect them to conform to the prevailing wisdom. Actually, that's not the case, but neither have they ever articulated proper reasons for holding that view, beyond a partisan belief.

    Hasan also alleges...

    Since the Kaminski row, Dale has turned on the New Statesman, and on James Macintyre and me.

    Er, not true. I have merely pointed out falsehoods and inaccuracies in their coverage of the Kaminski issue, just as I have with other publications and journalists.

    For the record, I liked Mehdi Hasan when I met him and I have also praised James Macintyre's interviews. But I don't resile from the fact that I think their coverage of Westminster coverage is not up to the mark of their predecessor's. And I know I am not alone in that. Virtually everyone I know on the left thinks so too. So they shouldn't be so precious about a bit of harmless and well-intentioned criticism.

    Doesn't look like I'll be gracing the New Statesman's pages any time soon, does it? :)

    Quote of the Day

    "Baroness Ashton - Last week she was unknown in Britain.
    Today she is unknown all over Europe."

    Jonathan Calder, Liberal England.

    PS Apologies that comments are taking ages to appear. There seems to be a problem with Blogger at the moment, which has been going on now for 24 hours.

    Are You a 'Why' or a 'When'?

    This lunchtime I attended the Political Studies Association awards lunch. Rather disgracefully, they decided not to have a Politician of the Year this year. I can't remember what excuse they gave but it was a pathetic one, as several others on my table agreed. By doing that they tarred all politicians with the same brush and implied that not a single one had achieved anything worthwhile this year. In that case, why didn't they cancel the whole event. Some of the awardwinners were Heather Brooke (Campign), David Davis (Backbencher), Robert Peston (Journalist), Newsnight (Broadcast Programme, Gerald Scarfe (Satire) and also Tony Wright for Parliamentarian of the Year.

    He made the best acceptance speech and coined a new version of Tony Benn's signposts and weathercosks analogy. He divides politicians into two: those who ask 'why' and those who ask 'when'. He explains it by saying that some politicians are more interested in asking why something is being done or why something is being said whereas others tend to concentrate on when they are going to get promoted or when they are going to get a job.

    So, what are you? A Why or a When? Perhaps that's a question all aspirant politicians should consider, and if they come up with the wrong answer, they ought to ask themselves if they are going into politics for the right reason.

    Chilcot Must Call Brown as a Witness

    I keep hearing that the Chilcot Inquiry won't call Gordon Brown as a witness in the Iraq Inquiry. I find this incredible. Surely the man who was the second most powerful man in the Blair government (some would say the first) and who held the pursestrings is a material witness. If he had stood up to Blair and said no, it is almost inconceivable that Blair could have gone ahead and proceeded as he did.

    Monday, November 23, 2009

    Those Pesky Track Changes

    I remember when I was working for David Davis we got a letter from the Home Secretary's office in which the track changes hadn't been deleted from the final version. The same letter had been sent to Mark Oaten's office. DD wouldn't make political capital out of it, and we rang Charles Clarke's office to tell them what had happened. Mark Oaten, who was the LibDem Home Affairs spokesman at the time and he had no such reservations. He got into the papers but suffered the consequences. Clarke sent Oaten to Coventry.

    But it seems Labour haven't learned very much for the experience. In advance of George Osborne's speech on environmental taxation tomorrow, Labour's press office have given political journalists a helpful list of questions they should put to the Conservatives. Sadly, they forgot to delete the track changes. There's no great scandal in what they've deleted, even on Question 4, but it indicates a level of incompetence which seems to permeate through Labour's spin operation. At least that's what the journalist who passed this to me reckons. I'd say it's another sub-conscious sign they've given up.

    The Daley Dozen: Monday

    1. Charlotte Gore's Top 10 Tips for Successful Twittering.
    2. Shane Greer thinks a six point Tory lead is just what Dr Pickles ordered.
    3. Tory Bear is disgusted by a Tweet from Labour's new poster girl, Bevanite Ellie.
    4. Coffee House asks if the climate is cooling.
    5. Andy Sparrow on the dilemma facing the Standards Committee over David Curry.
    6. Tom Harris decries a sick spectator sport.
    7. Bob Piper decries elected mayors.
    8. LibDem Voice accuses Nick Clegg of engaging mouth before brain.
    9. Clive Davis on the Climate Change War.
    10. Dear Tony Blair, You're a war criminal, writes Letters from a Tory.
    11. Devil's Kitchen on the launch of Nigel Lawson's new global warming think tank.
    12. Craig Murray has a very clever little boy.

    Quote of the Day

    "I don't know who Iain Dale is,
    but after one sentence I hate him."

    Comment via Twitter.

    S'funny. Normally doesn't take that long.

    Translating Liberal Democrat-speak: No 94

    What Stephen Tall said...

    "Now it has been known, just occasionally, for Nick to speak a little faster than he thinks."

    What Stephen Tall meant...

    "Nick Clegg engages mouth before brain."

    It was only a matter of time before the LibDems split apart on the issue of a coalition. I know what Clegg meant on Andrew Marr. You know what he meant. And so did his members. And therein lies the problem for the LibDems.

    Tories 17% Ahead Says New Poll

    Well that 6 point Tory lead lasted a long time, didn't it? A new poll tonight puts the Tory lead at 17%. Labour is down to 22%, only one point ahead of the LibDems. What does Downing Street private polling say about that, Mr Macintyre?

    PoliticalBetting has more HERE.

    How to Win an Open Primary

    Tim from the Blue Room blog has an absolutely first rate report from the Esher & Walton Open Primary, which took place on Saturday, and in which Dominic Raab emerged victorious. There are some really insightful comments on what to do or what not to do when presenting before such an audience. Well worth a read. Even if it did bring back memories of Bracknell!

    Thatcher Portrait Unveiled in Number Ten

    It was nice to see Margaret Thatcher back in her natural habitat this afternoon - 10 Downing Street. She was attending the unveiling of an official portrait of her by the superb artist, Richard Stone. I have met Richard before, and indeed have one of his previous paintings of Lady T on my dining room wall. He has captured her brilliantly.

    My informant at the event in Downing Street this afternoon tells me that about 60 people were present. Gordon Brown made a very warm speech paying tribute to Lady Thatcher and her time as Prime Minister. "You were a great leader and I want to thank you for the great service you gave to our country," he said. The event took place in the Pillared Room in Number Ten. Brown said he had asked Lady T what had changed since her time. She said the upholsetery used to be red and now it was green. Brown said he was very surprised there had been anything red in Downing Street in the 1980s. He quoted John Ruskin who said that great historical figures are judged by their deeds, words and art. Lady Thatcher had already fulfilled the first two criteria, he said, and now it was time for the third. As the portrait was being unveiled, Lady Thatcher remarked "Thank you very much. I like it." Brown himself led the applause.

    No cameras or press were allowed, apart from an official photographer. I assume pictures will appear on the Downing Street website shortly. Among the guests were David Cameron, Bernard Ingham, Michael Forsyth, Will Lewis, John Whittingdale, Lord McAlpine, Maurice Saatchi, Kelvin MacKenzie and Tim Bell.

    Some of the guests were heard joking about holding Gordon Brown hostage and launching a coup there and then. It would not have been difficult. Brown was the only Labour supporter in the room.

    UPDATE: Ben Brogan, who was present, has an account of the event on his BLOG.

    Book of the Day: The Yes Minister Miscellany

    A few weeks ago, my new publishing company, Biteback, published The Yes Minister Miscellany by Sir Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn, the creators of the popular series. It's a fabulous Christmas stocking book, full of wonderful wit and repartee, with quotes and extracts from the series as well as some new material including obituaries of the three main characters, Jim Hacker, Sir Humphrey Appleby and Bernard. Antony Jay wrote about the series in Saturday's Daily Telegraph.

    This was the first book I commissioned for Biteback, and so far it is selling really well. It's a small format, £9.99 hardback, and will make a great Christmas present for anyone in politics or the civil service. Anyway, as a taster, here is the obituary for Sir Bernard Woolley KCB

    b 15 July 1944 d 4 November 1995

    Despite his first in Greats , few of Bernard Woolley’s contemporaries would have expected him to end his career as cabinet secretary and head of the civil service. He was a genial and easy-going colleague, but did not- at least in his early appointments- show any sign that he was cut out for leadership, and his first private secretaryship was to the comparatively lowly Department of Administrative Affairs. It was however to prove a formative experience. His minister was Jim Hacker, a politician who had never previously held government office, and whose interests, it has to be said, were more in securing personal and political advantage than in the impartial and orderly conduct of the nation’s affairs. This created for Woolley a conflict between his natural instinct to avoid confrontation and his obligation to uphold, and to impress on his minister, the standards of conduct and rules of procedure that the civil service expected of cabinet ministers.
    In this he had two advantages.

    The first was that Hacker, while not lacking a certain political guile, was ignorant of the machinery of government after a parliamentary career spent entirely in opposition, and furthermore had neither the intellect nor the willpower to conduct an effective campaign against the system. The second advantage was that his Permanent Secretary was Sir Humphrey Appleby, a true mandarin of the old school, who supplied the backbone that nature had denied to Woolley. Appleby was a devout believer in keeping ministers in their place, leaving it to the experts in the civil service to conduct the nation’s affairs in a consistent and disciplined manner. This underlying conflict between the aims of his ministers and those of his Permanent Secretary could have made life difficult for a new Private Secretary, but in fact it proved to be the making of Woolley. His charm, his helpfulness and his essentially amenable nature gained his minister’s confidence, while his loyalty to the service and his commitment to its standards kept Sir Humphrey reasonably satisfied with his discharge of a Private Secretary’s duties. It was indeed no small achievement to keep the peace between two men whose personalities and objectives were so widely at variance, and Woolley must be given full credit for it.

    It is clear in retrospect that this was the high point in Woolley’s professional career. The decline began with the wholly unexpected elevation of Jim Hacker to the premiership. Against Sir Humphrey’s advice Hacker took Woolley with him into Downing Street as Private Secretary to the Prime Minister, raising him to a level of seniority he could never have expected, and no one would have forecast, when he entered the service. For a while he continued to fulfil his useful function as a buffer between Hacker and Appleby, but after Hacker’s resignation he was promoted to Permanent Secretary and then, with the election of a new government and Sir Humphrey’s retirement, to Cabinet Secretary. It was then that the qualities of emollient diplomacy and discreet compromise, which had served him so well in the more junior role, proved to be his undoing when something more robust was called for.

    The new government arrived with a commitment to informality and a determination to impose its party political will on the civil service communications machine. . Decisions which used to be taken round the table in the cabinet room at number ten were now taken on the sofa in the study, and political advisers who had previously been politely sidelined by officials were now given formal authority over them. Such innovations would have appalled Sir Humphrey, who could have been trusted to resist them a’ l’outrance, but Woolley did not have the subtlety or the steel of his predecessor. Some of his colleagues urged him to refuse to implement the new system and challenge the Prime Minister to dismiss him. Others believed he should resign , making his reasons public. In the end, however, his predilection for co-operation and compromise, and his distaste for confrontation, overcame his personal instincts and his professional principles, and in the words of a contemporary political commentator, “like an inverted Julius Caesar, he came, he saw and he concurred.”

    With the benefit of hindsight we can see the disastrous consequences of both of Bernard Woolley’s capitulations. Informal decision-making led to unparalleled confusion and inefficiency in the higher reaches of government, and giving political advisors formal authority over career civil servants steadily turned government information into party propaganda. Many political historians attribute to these two decisions the subsequent public contempt for politicians, political institutions and also political processes which reached its apogee with the parliamentary expenses scandal many years later in the spring of 2009. It would be unjust to hold Woolley exclusively accountable for all the weaknesses and failures that characterised the years subsequent to his appointment, and it is by no means certain that a courageous and principled stand on his part would in fact have served to protect the formalities and proprieties of the Appleby era from the depravations of the incoming modernisers. Woolley himself always maintains that the change was inevitable, and that he could be of more use staying in his place and working to mitigate its worst effects than by a dramatic gesture which left others to clean up the mess. Clearly we shall never know, but equally clearly the Bernard Woolley years will never be remembered amongst the most glorious in the history of Her Majesty’s civil service.

    While he did not have that many admirers, his warm personality and inexhaustible good nature ensured that he had a large number of friends, and he was always a popular figure at the public events he attended regularly, and in the charitable organisations to which he generously gave so much of his time after his retirement. His favourite activity was his work as advisory editor to the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, and he is remembered with respect and affection at the Oxford University Press.

    You can buy the book HERE.

    So What Does Labour's Private Polling Really Say?

    Jackie Ashley, Guardian, November 8th
    Some Labour people may think I'm sounding too gloomy, but those who have been privy to recent private polling are a lot more than gloomy. This suggests that Labour could return to the Commons with just 120 MPs or thereabouts, taking the party back to 1930s territory. As ministers look for jobs to keep themselves going after politics, a Miliband move to Europe looks sensible.
    James Macintyre, New Statesman, November 23rd
    Now, some of us have been arguing this is likely for months, and my colleague Mehdi Hasan and I went into it in some detail back in June, when Mehdi was if anything surer (I thought then and -- shock horror still think now -- that a small overall majority for Labour is the most likely outcome). Indeed, yesterday's poll and the apparent trend reminded me that, after I dared to suggest in my new year predictions (some wrong, some right), that the two main parties' positions in the polls would switch by the end of this year...

    In fact, private polling commissioned by Number Ten is today showing just that.

    Now they can't both be right. One of them is making it up or Downing Street it spinning it both ways within two weeks. I know which my money is on.

    UPDATE: I will let a professional have the last word. Read what Anthony Wells of UK Polling Report has to say HERE.

    James Macintyre Predicts Labour Victory

    I have to say I am most amused by all the reaction to the Ipsos MORI poll showing a 6 point Tory lead. From the way left of centre pundits have reacted, you'd think all lefty Christmases had come at once. There's talk of hung Parliaments, even of a Labour victory. Labour's cheerleader in chief, James Macintyre has gone into overdrive, predicting a small Labour majority. Quite why the New Statesman relies on two political correspondents who are so woefully out of touch with political opinion is anyone's guess. But we should let them keep taking the pills. Here's what Jimbo wrote this morning...

    Then only days later a poll in yesterday's Observer (carried out at the same time as the Guardian poll) shows that Labour has closed the gap to only 6 points (with 31 per cent against the Tories' 37).It is the poll Gordon Brown has been waiting for. Suddenly and belatedly as usual, it has become conventional wisdom to talk of a hung parliament. Now, some of us have been arguing this is likely for months, and my colleague Mehdi Hasan and I went into it in some detail back in June, when Mehdi was if anything surer (I thought then and -- shock horror - still think now -- that a small overall majority for Labour is the most likely outcome). Indeed, yesterday's poll and the apparent trend reminded me that, after I dared to suggest in my new year predictions (some wrong, some right), that the two main parties' positions in the polls would switch by the end of this year Iain Dale, the aimiable and popular partisan Conservative blogger, reacted with "cackling laughter" and said "In your dreams, sunshine".

    In fact, private polling commissioned by Number Ten is today showing just that.

    Actually, I have always felt a hung parliament was a real possibility after the next election, and it is only latterly that I have swung to the view that a reasonable Tory majority is the most likely outcome.

    Strangely enough, even if this isn't a rogue poll (and I'd bet money that it is) David Cameron won't be unhappy. He doesn't want his troops to take anything for granted, and polls like this will help people redouble their efforts.

    I really do think we need to think of a nickname for James Macintyre. His views and predictions are so bizarre that they encourage us to think of him as the British equivalent of Comical Ali. No serious political journalist I know thinks a Labour victory is a likely outcome of the next election. Either he knows something the rest of us don't or he's playing the role of a partisan hack rather than a political journalist. And not for the first time.

    Richard Spring To Leave Parliament

    I'm very sad to learn this morning that my friend Richard Spring has decided to leave Parliament at the next election. This is the text of a letter he sent to his chairman on Friday.

    I am writing to you to confirm that I shall not be contesting the West Suffolk constituency again, and will be leaving the House of Commons when the General Election is called.

    I have taken the decision with very mixed feelings. I will have been the local Member of Parliament for eighteen years by the time the General Election takes place next year. It has been the greatest possible honour to have been the parliamentary representative for West Suffolk. I have enjoyed this role immensely. It has been a huge privilege to defend and promote local electors’ interests both in Suffolk and in the House of Commons.

    I am most grateful to you for the way you have chaired the Association, and in particular pay tribute to you and Dorothy Whittaker, my constituency agent. It would not have been possible to fulfil my duties without your guidance and support.

    It goes without saying that I shall give my fullest support to the future prospective parliamentary candidate for the constituency, who I confidently believe will be the next Member of Parliament for West Suffolk.

    Richard has been one of the few MPs to really embrace blogging. He told me he regarded it as 'liberating'. Perhaps he will feel the same about his decision to leave Parliament. He would have certainly been a minister in a Cameron government but I guess he feels he wants to do something else while he is young enough to do so.

    Parliament will be the poorer without him.

    Sunday, November 22, 2009

    The 7 Days Show Podcast: Episode 3

    Welcome once again to The Seven Days Show podcast hosted by Jonathan Sheppard and myself. In this week’s episode we talk about the Queen’s Speech; the Electoral Commission’s bizarre decision to allow a donation to the Lib Dems; our new European President (including two awful impressions of a Liverpudlian accent); the awful possibility of a hung Parliament; the terrible floods in Cumbria – and why the climate change fanatics will use it as further evidence of man made climate change, and finally the possibility of locally elected Police Commissioners.

    You can listen to the programme via iTunes (search for Tory Radio) or click HERE.

    Is the Climate Change Consensus Fracturing?

    Over the last few days I have been trying to make sense of the so-called CRU emails. These are a series of emails which have been published following the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit. They purport to show how climate change scientists have deliberately skewed the scientific evidence to their side of the argument and how they are trying to silence scientists who are sceptics about man-made global warming.

    Devil's Kitchen has provided the most comprehensive coverage of this subject and you can see a comprehensive list of his postings on the subject HERE. Some of the subject matter is incredibly confusing, but let's just look at a few examples from the data from the UEA climate scientists. Over to James Delingpole...
    Perhaps the most damaging revelations – the scientific equivalent of the Telegraph’s MPs’ expenses scandal – are those concerning the way Warmist scientists may variously have manipulated or suppressed evidence in order to support their cause.

    Here are a few tasters. (So far, we can only refer to them as alleged emails because – though Hadley CRU’s director Phil Jones has confirmed the break-in to Ian Wishart at the Briefing Room – he has yet to fess up to any specific contents.) But if genuine, they suggest dubious practices such as:

    Manipulation of evidence:

    I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.

    Private doubts about whether the world really is heating up:

    The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t. The CERES data published in the August BAMS 09 supplement on 2008 shows there should be even more warming: but the data are surely wrong. Our observing system is inadequate.

    Suppression of evidence:

    Can you delete any emails you may have had with Keith re AR4?

    Keith will do likewise. He’s not in at the moment – minor family crisis.

    Can you also email Gene and get him to do the same? I don’t have his new email address.

    We will be getting Caspar to do likewise.

    Fantasies of violence against prominent Climate Sceptic scientists:

    time I see Pat Michaels at a scientific meeting, I’ll be tempted to beat
    the crap out of him. Very tempted.

    Attempts to disguise the inconvenient truth of the Medieval Warm Period (MWP):

    ……Phil and I have recently submitted a paper using about a dozen NH records that fit this category, and many of which are available nearly 2K back–I think that trying to adopt a timeframe of 2K, rather than the usual 1K, addresses a good earlier point that Peck made w/ regard to the memo, that it would be nice to try to “contain” the putative “MWP”, even if we don’t yet have a hemispheric mean reconstruction available that far back….

    And, perhaps most reprehensibly, a long series of communications discussing how best to squeeze dissenting scientists out of the peer review process. How, in other words, to create a scientific climate in which anyone who disagrees with AGW can be written off as a crank, whose views do not have a scrap of authority.

    “This was the danger of always criticising the skeptics for not publishing in the “peer-reviewed literature”. Obviously, they found a solution to that–take over a journal! So what do we do about this? I think we have to stop considering “Climate Research” as a legitimate peer-reviewed journal. Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the climate research community to no longer submit to, or cite papers in, this journal. We would also need to consider what we tell or request of our more reasonable colleagues who currently sit on the editorial board…What do others think?”

    “I will be emailing the journal to tell them I’m having nothing more to do with it until they rid themselves of this troublesome editor.”“It results from this journal having a number of editors. The responsible one for this is a well-known skeptic in NZ. He has let a few papers through by Michaels and Gray in the past. I’ve had words with Hans von Storch about this, but got nowhere. Another thing to discuss in Nice !”

    Is this all conclusive evidence of a conspiracy by climate change scientists to silence some of their colleagues and suppress evidence which is inconvenient to their case? Maybe, or maybe not. But what it does show is that there are serious questions to be answered by the scientific community. Devil's Kitchen concludes...

    What these emails show is that members of The Club have presented, as fact, data which privately they have acknowledged to be, at best, flawed.

    Further, many members of The Club are editors of the reports submitted to the IPCC, and the emails show that they have deliberately cherry-picked those that agree with their position—and conspired to discredit or reject those that do not agree with their political position.

    The Club has also conspired to suborne journals, and to oust editors of other journals who are perceived as being unsympathetic to their cause. And they have been successful.

    The emails show that, whilst claiming that sceptics' papers are not peer-reviewed, The Club have actively and deliberately used blackmail and smears to prevent such peer-review or, when review is unavoidable, to have conspired to skew the review process to discredit their opponents.

    All of these actions render the scientific reports produced by the IPCC extremely suspect. At best.

    And they most certainly destroy the concept of the "scientific consensus".

    None of these emails disprove anthropogenic climate change: but they do shatter the idea that there is no dissent and, crucially, they absolutely annihilate the idea that scientists are impartial and uncorrupt.

    And these emails most certainly explode the proposition that we should reorder the world economy because of an impending climate disaster.

    I wonder when this debate will actually enter the mainstream media. I admit that I have been very slow to follow this up. But perhaps not as slow as some others.

    UPDATE: Bishop Hill has more HERE.

    From Jedward to Deadwood

    This poster has been launched by the Conservative Party this evening. Quick work, guys!

    The Daley Dozen: Sunday

    1.Iain Martin thinks Mandelson is on manoeuvres.
    2. Aye We Can previews Labour's next Party Political Broadcast.
    3. Paul Walter cautions anyone thinking of moving from Blogger to Wordpress.
    4. UK Polling Report attempts to explain the Ipsos MORI poll.
    5. Kerry McCarthy is ill (bless) and starstruck.
    6. Joshua Chambers reckons we're at the end of polar ideology. Whatever that means.
    7. on what Nick Clegg would do if he's well hung.
    8. UKIP's Michael Heaver would like to be well hung.
    9. Douglas Carswell on how to cut public spending.
    10. Alastair Campbell on those Remembrance photos.
    11. Cranmer on Rumpy Pumpy's plans for Euro taxes.
    12. John Redwood on what eurosceptics should do now.

    I Agree With Roy Hattersley!

    I don't recall ever agreeing with Roy Hattersley on anything. Until today. His article in today's Observer on the dangers of a Hung Parliament is a must read for anyone who cares about conviction politics and ethical government. He concludes by saying...

    Cynics will say that, whichever party is in power next year, the nation will benefit from it being kept on the short leash of a hung parliament. The cynics will be wrong. Not only are minority administrations prevented from taking the long view that good government requires, but they are also constantly required to compromise their beliefs.

    What our democracy needs, above all else, is the politics of conviction.

    Hear, hear.

    Saturday, November 21, 2009

    Mandelson: Make Me Foreign Secretary!

    The Sunday Times has a delicious story about Peter Mandelson trying to force Gordon Brown into making him Foreign Secretary. The thing with stories like this is that they can never be proved - until they happen. But this one has the ring of truth about it.

    What Jonathan Oliver and Isabel Oakeshott don't speculate on is the reaction of David Miliband to such a suggestion. Might it provide him with a third opportunity to prove that he does indeed possess a political backbone?

    The Daley (Half) Dozen: Saturday

    1. Devil's Kitchen on the Hockey Stick Illusion.
    2. Michael Heaver on the changing rules of the BNP game.
    3. Archbishop Cranmer pays tribute to the Archbishop of Canterbury.
    4. ConHome on why John Maples believes the opening up of the candidates list has been a success.
    5. Antony Little, Tory candidate in Norwich South, denies he is about to defect to Labour. :)
    6. Paul Waugh on Baroness Ashton's inner Shriti.

    The Law That Shames Uganda

    I wonder if my readers will find this as shocking as I do. Imagine that a political party introduces a law which says the following...
    (1) a person commits the offence of homosexuality if

    (a) he penetrates the anus or mouth of another person of the same sex with his penis or any other sexual contraption;
    (b) he or she uses any object of sexual contraption to penetrate or stimulate sexual organ of a person of the same sex;
    (c) he or she touches another person with the intention of committing . . . homosexuality.
    (2) a person who commits an offence under this section shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for life.

    The second, more serious offence of "aggravated homosexuality" turns on the notion of the "serial offender", defined in the introduction to the law as "a person who has previous convictions of the offence of homosexuality or related offences." Anyone who is a confirmed gay man or lesbian and already has a sexual history faces the death penalty, alongside homosexual rapists and child abusers.

    This is how the law will work: victims are not to be penalised; they are to be assisted, and their identities protected. Judges may order that the offender has to pay them compensation. In addition, "aiding", "abetting" or "promoting" homosexuality becomes illegal. Perhaps, most importantly, failure to inform the authorities, within 24 hours, of suspected homosexuals is criminalised. The people must turn informants - or risk jail. Lovers must choose between "victim" or "offender"; the former protected and paid, the latter imprisoned or killed.

    But that's exactly what the government of Uganda has done, as discussed by Sigrid Rausing in this week's New Statesman.

    Consensual homosexual acts between adults are still illegal in as many as 70 countries. Most countries have moved to a liberalisation of those unjust and repressive laws. In Uganda, however, the Hon David Bahati has sponsored an anti-homosexuality bill far more draconian than the already existing code. It begins with principles and threats: the value of traditional family values, the threat of homosexual infection. The logic of the bill is this: "This legislation further recognizes the fact that same sex attraction is not an innate and immutable characteristic." But only if sexual orientation is voluntary can a person be held accountable for his or her choice. Science has concluded that sexual orientation is a core personality trait, not a choice. You no more choose to be gay or bisexual than you choose to be left-handed or ambidextrous; it's a morally neutral position.

    Consensual homosexual acts between adults are still illegal in as many as 70 countries. Most countries have moved to a liberalisation of those unjust and repressive laws. In Uganda, however, the Hon David Bahati has sponsored an anti-homosexuality bill far more draconian than the already existing code. It begins with principles and threats: the value of traditional family values, the threat of homosexual infection. The logic of the bill is this: "This legislation further recognizes the fact that same sex attraction is not an innate and immutable characteristic." But only if sexual orientation is voluntary can a person be held accountable for his or her choice. Science has concluded that sexual orientation is a core personality trait, not a choice. You no more choose to be gay or bisexual than you choose to be left-handed or ambidextrous; it's a morally neutral position.

    Britain gices £70 million a year to Uganda in development aid. We are the country's fourth largest provider of such funds. Hopefully the British government is making representations to the government of Uganda about this law and will threaten to withdraw aid if the law isn't reversed.