Just spotted a warning re delays around passes on the party website, but I managed to get mine. Finger in the air suggests 20 - 30 percent of passes are not ready for collection which if true is a disgrace. If you see someone with Conservatives Abroad - Prague written on their pass, that'll be me.
Should be a hectic Conference - there are 2000 more delegates than last year.
30 September 2006
Just spotted a warning re delays around passes on the party website, but I managed to get mine. Finger in the air suggests 20 - 30 percent of passes are not ready for collection which if true is a disgrace. If you see someone with Conservatives Abroad - Prague written on their pass, that'll be me.
27 September 2006
Sounds like a boy-band doesn’t it? In this case it's the acronym for the regional grouping of the four Visegrad countries namely Poland, Czech, Hungary and Slovakia. Their combined population exceeds the UK and their combined land mass is similar to France. Up until now, it has been perceived that each of these countries has ploughed its own furrow in the EU field. Following a summit of all four Presidents in Central Bohemia on September 15 this looks likely to change.
Drawing on a shared geography and recent experience with Communism and EU membership, it’s not surprising that they have shared goals. Referring to Europe, the region’s longest-serving statesmen, Czech President, Vaclav Klaus (a member of ODS) said (and I paraphrase)
“All four V4 Presidents think it makes sense to formulate positions, agree on them in advance and present them jointly and thus more loudly, where necessary”.
The other leaders expressed similar sentiments. The Slovak President Ivan Gasparovic (not related to Klaus despite the resemblance) added that the group could even expand its scope drawing in Austria, Slovenia, Romania and Bulgaria. I think this increased regional co-operation makes sense and could be a good sign for the Conservatives who should be working behind the scenes to gain more partners for our 2009 grouping. Mr Cameron, are you watching?
Bucharest is holding a Francophone Summit. I heard this was happening, but thought it was a minor event. It’s not. Securing a hotel wasn’t a straightforward task and the city seems to have gone Gallic for now. Not that I have a problem with that. The problem is the traffic.
The 15km road from the airport and the city is busy enough at the best of times in Bucharest. Today, parts of this road were down to a single lane to create a free lane for convoys of dignitaries. Amongst them was Jacques Chirac. He must have been in one of the top-of-the-range cars that glided by as we stop-started on our 90 minute journey at a stately 10kph average.
You may be surprised to learn that a Francophone Summit is being held in Romania, but Romanian is the only Eastern European language with Latin roots and has many French speakers. These days the inevitable and continuing rise of English more than threatens this tradition – so I suppose Romania can be considered a key battleground of the Francophone cause. This is even more relevant to the French-speaking world as Romania is now just a rubber-stamp from joining the EU in January 2007. This is one instance of war in which the French troops aren’t yet ready to lay down their circumflexes.
Note - According to a 2002 EC poll, 86% of people in the 13 countries then on the EU waiting list regarded English as one of the two most useful languages to speak and French gained a paltry 17%.
26 September 2006
Initially Cherie's "that's a lie" comment was gleefully reported as a moment of madness. This was quickly followed by the naff official line that she had actually said "Can I get by?".
As spotted by Croydonian, her "off-the-cuff" remark was not a single "unguarded moment" - she was doing the rounds.
Then TB weighs in at with an admittedly humorous, but well-prepared joke, which basically says that yes all the sentiments reported are essentially accurate.
"At least I don't have to worry about her running off with the bloke next door."
I am now persuaded that this whole episode was orchestrated. Not only was Brown's speech completely overshadowed (I understand that coverage was interrupted for the Cherie story), but Blair has managed to portray Brown as an unattractive liar without lifting a finger. I look forward to further lukewarm endorsements for Brown from Blair emphasing his experience (age), determination (bloody-mindedness) and serious approach (lack of charisma or humour). Isn't politics predictable?
5,000 to 13,000 per annum was the number of EU migrants expected as a result of EU expansion in May 2004. It was a concerted lie. Bulgaria, Romania, the Beeb and our government are conspiring in a lie again. See this article.
Back in the real world, Bulgaria is about twice as poor as Poland and Romania twice as poor again. Most estimates place average monthly earnings in Romania at about £100. If you assume a 40 hour working week the average hourly rate is about 15% of the UK's minimum wage so just because unemployment is low in Romania doesn't mean that they won't come to the UK in droves.
I am visiting Bucharest from Wednesday to Friday, where I'll be talking to the locals.
Conservatives Abroad has 35 branches internationally.
Due to our location and ongoing interest in UK politics, CA members probably use the internet more than most. We do have a significant web presence whether to support branch activities or personal political blogging.
This site for the Conservatives of Javea, Costa Blanca, is absolutely terrific. They have around 75 members and the Conservative branch is clearly at the heart of the community. Pictured is an IDS visit in May of this year. The photo gallery and the weblinks are great and the chairman has started to use a blog to publicise their events.
Washington DC Tories site is worth a brief visit. They appear to be very active and able to attract high profile speakers. Liam Fox is visiting in October (ed. Wouldn't mind seeing you being a bit more prominent on the UK political scene, Liam).
It's no secret that one of the founders of the successful Prison Works website is Alan Drew, an expat based in Switzerland, who also has his own engaging (and regularly updated) political website.
Who have I missed?
24 September 2006
I am intrigued by the Labour Party Conference in Manchester brought to you in association with Wal-mart, Nestle and Murdoch. As a result of Labour inefficiency (or efficiency?) poor Old Bob Piper (and others) didn't get his police clearance in time, leading to an unfortunate queueing incident which he "mentions" today in his blog. No such problems for Labour's offical blogger, conference virgin Jonathan Roberts.
"So, arriving at Manchester Piccadilly circa 2pm, I was instantly impressed. A sea of eager staff in yellow jackets guiding you (ed. singular) from station to tram to G-Mex to hotel."
JR has plumped for two to three posts a day and I've just read his first five. In his opening post he dampens the idea that he is in competition with other Labour blogs - which is pretty evident as he's only had one comment so far from some anon who's asking whether they can just walk into the Conference off the street (I wonder if this was posted to wind Bob up specifically). Despite the lack of encouragement from his comrades I particularly enjoyed the following excerpt from post number four -
"After a few glasses of wine, the rumours started. "The PM's on his way", "The PM will be hear in 10" and so on."
Clearly, distinguishing between hear and here gets tricky after a few drinks, but I thought the fact that TB's on the way was a bit more than a rumour. Is this apparent lack of proof-read a deliberate ploy or have they simply decided that nobody will read it?
I make no claim to design guru status, but it's a bit disappointing that JR is using the same template as Political Hack.
Anyway, enough background noise. After the Wolfgang incident last year, I fully expect the NuLabour spin machine to do their usual "smoke and mirrors" over the next few days. Let me know what you spot.
23 September 2006
As I am 'aving a big weekend, I don't have much posting time - Here's a lazy post - a joke.
Tony Blair was visiting a primary school and he visited one of the classes. They were in the middle of a discussion related to words and their meanings.
The teacher asked the Prime Minister if he would like to lead the discussion on the word "tragedy". So the illustrious leader asked the class for an example of a "tragedy".
One little boy stood up and offered: "If my best friend, who lives on a farm is playing in the field & a tractor runs over him and kills him, that would be a 'tragedy'". "No," said Blair, "that would be an accident." A little girl raised her hand: "If a school bus carrying fifty children drove over a cliff, killing everyone inside, that would be a Tragedy". "I'm afraid not," explained the Prime Minister, "that's what we would call a great loss."
The room went silent. No other children volunteered. Tony searched the room.
"Isn't there someone here who can give me an example of Tragedy?"
Finally, at the back of the room, a small boy raised his hand...In a quiet voice he said: "If the Air plane carrying you and Mrs Blair was struck by a friendly fire" missile & blown to smithereens, that would be a tragedy."
"Fantastic!" exclaimed Tony Blair. "That's right. And can you tell me why that would be tragedy?"
"Well," says the boy "it has to be a tragedy, because it certainly wouldn't be a great loss and it probably wouldn't be a f*cking accident either!"
22 September 2006
I must check my horoscope - it's been a funny day. There's been some poor, poor nonsense posted on several Labour sites to which I had to respond. In all three cases the blogger has responded to my reasonable comments by throwing their toys out of the pram.
Check here and here where the blogger decided to dedicate a new post to fisking my comment or here where Jo Salmon insinuated my post was spam and kindly told me where in her archives I should have posted my comment.
One word - rattled.
The Immigration & Nationality Directorate is looking for HEO Accountants (what the hell is HEO?) for Croydon and Heathrow.
The advertisement paints a realistic picture of the challenges and obliquely alludes to some of the recent scandals.
"With the number of people seeking to enter the country rising dramatically in recent years, it’s our role to monitor and control entry while considering applications and putting measures in place to detect and deter abuse of the system. The responsibility is huge, and meeting it demands the very highest standards of financial management. This is where you enter the equation. Monitoring and managing budgets worth up to £400million, you’ll deliver key support to business support units etc etc."
The salary range for these complex and demanding roles in the high-cost South East?
£24,543 - £35,727 + C£1,000 London allowance. I’ve heard of the public sector ethic, but this takes the piss. University graduates start on more.
21 September 2006
Having cut her teeth by substantially cutting the Labour majority in Ealing, Acton and Shepherd's Bush in the 2001 general election, in 2005, Justine Greening engineered one of the largest swings of the night and won the South-West London constituency of Putney from Labour. She was the first Tory MP to be declared and her excellent victory speech was so resonant, that I have no doubt that she planted regrets in many ordinary voters’ minds who failed to back us. Her win was pavement politics at its best. As well as walking 6 miles a day canvassing, her team also campaigned at train stations – which I think is an excellent tactic.
I have to admit that I have more faith in Tory MPs who have always been Conservative and had their views rigorously challenged. Take the following exchange from the Grauniad
Were you always a Conservative? "Yes, and trust me, in Rotherham in the 80s that was a difficult matter. You would get challenged for your beliefs all the time... But I didn't want to blame Mrs Thatcher. Who should you blame? The patient with the gangrene or the surgeon who has the courage to amputate the toe? But as a teenager growing up in the middle of that was difficult."
Since entering Parliament, she must have been one of the hardest-working MPs around. This makes it abundantly clear what she is doing at constituency level and she is clearly doing well on the Select Committee for Work & Pensions, but I am especially impressed about her work for the wider cause. I know for a fact that she has been to events in the Midlands and is an engaging speaker. She is well involved with Conservative Future and in the last two days I have turned down an invitation to Feltham & Heston Conservatives (with Justine as speaker) and read an excellent interview by her in Accountancy Age lambasting Labour’s work on the Company Law bill.
In this interview, she mentions that it was her three years working abroad (in Lausanne, Switzerland) that "kickstarted her decision to join the Conservatives". I find a lot of people have a similar awakening from their experience of working overseas. Also, she mentions the time when somebody said to her about her election success "It’s really good for diversity in the House" to which she replied "Yes, you’re right, there aren’t really enough accountants on the green benches". I get a feeling that my cursory research on Justine only scratches the surface of the work she's been doing. Does anyone have a bad word to say about Justine?
20 September 2006
It appears that one of the consequences of my blog name is that I get a fair amount of eclectic incoming traffic. Here's a selection of some of the "interesting" incoming links recorded over the last few days.
House Plant Pictures
At the weekend, I got two visits from the juxtaposition specialists at House Plant Pictures. It contains stuff that you might expect (i.e. house plants/seeds/pictures of gardeners) and also the following picture.
A Tad Pole
A refreshing (albeit incoherent) outlook from a Polish Blogger. I presume that her name is Beata. Her profile has been viewed once before. The typeface and the background are pretty intimidating on this popular Polish blog until you scroll down to the pictures showing pavement improvements and smartly dressed schoolkids.
I like the sole picture accompanying this blog which is titled "Yes, jukebox my darling (L)". The rest of the text is no more incomprehensible to me. Can anyone decipher their intro "Eftersom det här är min fjärde blogg så är jag logisk"?
This crazy-assed blog makes reference to Pete Doherty and Babyshambles. I have passed details on to the authorities.
In my previous post I asked visitors to guess the UK prison homicide rate during the 90s and early 2000s. Everyone over-estimated but based on his prediction of 7 per 100,000, Chris Black gets the baubles. Well done, Chris.
The Mubarek Report - Extracts From Section 6.26 The Bigger Picture
research published by the Home Office shows that in the 12 years from 1990 to 2001 inclusive there were 26 prisoner-on-prisoner homicides... (this) can be contrasted with the 759 cases over the same period in which prisoners committed suicide..."
----- Hat-tip to Croydonian for the graphic -----
"... This equals 2.17 homicides a year and 63.25 suicides per year. Given an average prison population of approximately 55,000 over these twelve years, the above figures equivocate to 3.9 murders per 100,000 (higher than the UK average but lower than Nottingham! - see post below) and a disastrous 115 suicides per 100,000. Interestingly, exactly half of the above murders were by cellmates. The Home Office has a terrible record when it comes to stats. Do you believe these?
18 September 2006
UK prisons currently contain 80,000 convicted criminals. During the 1990s inmate numbers rose from 45,000 to about 65,000. I'm currently taking a close look at the Mubarek Report into the March 2000 prison murder of Zahid Mubarek. It is a shocking indictment of the prison system in the UK, but also contains some excellent factoids.
We all know that prisons aren't the safest of places. In terms of homicide how do you think UK prisons compare to other unsafe environments?
Excluding war zones, South African farmers are said to face the highest per capita murder rates at 313 per 100,000 per annum.
In 2005, Jamaica is reported to have eclipsed South Africa and Colombia in the worldwide charts with a murder rate of 62 per 100,000. The worldwide murder rate is estimated at about 7 per 100,000, but I couldn't find anything authoritative on that.
Latest reports show the UK's murder hotspot is Nottingham with a murder rate of 5 per 100,000.
No googling. What do think was the number of murders or the murder rate in UK prisons between 1990 and 2001?
Still time for more guesses I will reveal the answer on Wednesday morning.
17 September 2006
This morning I was giving a car tour of Prague and turned off a main square as indicated by arrows in the road. As I drove along stationary cars were parked along the road until it got narrower and next thing a police car pulled me over. My companions spoke better Czech than me so we established that I should have made a turn somewhere further back in the road. Apparently, they were very friendly and settled for a payment of 500 crowns (£12) before directing me to the main road out of the city. That was the end of the car tour. Anyway, by the evening I'd completely forgotten about the incident, but by chance was in the same area, this time on foot. I got reminded when I saw a couple more police in the same spot waving down cars as they came through. Both the drivers I saw caught were in Czech cars and they looked pretty dischuffed. Time to retrace my steps I thought. As you drive down this road and you see this sign for the first time, there is no possibility of turning. Every junction just before or after has a no entry sign. In other words, without knowing about the road ahead from experience (in my case bitter) you will always break the law and it appears the police are semi-permanently in situ collecting cash. I could see no safety implications. Apart from blogging, should I let this go?
16 September 2006
You're officially at the 64th best Tory/right-leaning blog according to Iain Dale. The UK right-leaning blogging world is a crowded "market" and I must point out some excellent blogs that are lower than me on this list, for example The Tap at 92 and Laban Tall at 71, so I'm quite happy with the rating. Over-rated or under-rated?
My competitive streak got the better of me and so I decided to take a look at my neighbours. No 63 on the list is Thurrocktory. He seems like a pretty independent kinda Tory, but his blog profile has only had 24 profile views so he's hardly setting the blogging world on fire! No 65 is A Very British Dude. He's being going for a while, but I think he introduced erotic links to his blog after Dale's judging closed. Can't help but wonder whether if he had timed this a bit earlier it could have pushed him above me in the rankings.
15 September 2006
Clare Short who has represented Labour in the inner-city seat of Birmingham Ladywood since 1983 has announced that she will not stand for Labour again. Other comments she has made mean that certain colleagues within her party will seek for her to be expelled from the party. I think she will walk before she his pushed. I was particularly taken by the following recent quote from Clare -
"In addition to the arrogance and lack of principle of New Labour, there is an incredible incompetence. Policy is announced from No 10 to grab media attention and nothing is properly thought through".
I whole-heartedly agree. The defining features of this government are spin and incompetence. I hope that they leave power with that reputation firmly gilded into the minds of the British Public. They have lurched from crisis to crisis (from fuel protests to foreign prisoners to the MSR bug to pensions to spiralling knife crime). They have regulated and legislated like never before (without enforcing) and jerk their knees to the tune of the tabloids with rhetoric, inquiries and commissions and never ever deliver properly considered policy. In purely managerial terms, their approach is prehistoric.
I may disagree with much of what Clare has to say, but I am one person who hasn't questioned her sincerity. As I posted on PoliticalHack (well before the MSM picked up on the story at all), Birmingham Labour activists must have seen this coming. Clare's views represent a significant group of left-leaning urban voters who are disenchanted with New Labour - but who feel they have nowhere to go. I say to them, come and have a look at what the Tories have to offer. It's the future.
Hat-tip Political Hack and Peter Smallbone who moved the Tories into second in the May Council elections in Ladywood and have commented on this story before me.
14 September 2006
In 2005, according to a Home Office report based on data compiled from the National Crime Survey, there were about 2 million thefts of or from cars in the UK. That would be a lot of people in prison if we caught them all!? The figures are a national disgrace. Here’s the first 5 things I would do about it.
1. Petrol Station ANPRs Linked To Stolen Car Database/DVLA Records/Motor Insurance Database (effective, but in NuLabour’s eyes blighted by the ethnic mix of the lawbreakers caught by this colour-blind technique)
ANPR means automatic number plate recognition technology. If, as soon as you reported your car missing, the stolen car database was updated, the next time the car needs to be filled up with petrol, Plod would be on the scene. Also, this would be helpful for preventing lots of related crime (such as armed robbery) which is often undertaken with stolen cars. Figures show that claims arising from uninsured driving top 50,000 a year and cost £400 million. Linking ANPR to the DVLA and the Motor Insurers Database would take untaxed and uninsured drivers off the road.
Still not convinced? Sweden has implemented something similar to this system and has 50 times fewer uninsured drivers per capita than the UK.
2. Speed Limiters (opposed by Labour)
This measure has road safety benefits (preliminary results show crashes involving death or serious injury fall by a fifth among drivers who have limiters fitted) but as usual when Labour don’t want to do anything they commission a report, hold an inquiry or have a consultation. What can speed limiters achieve in terms of car crime? Not many takers for the 80mph joyride. Speed-hungry teens will stay at home playing Grand Tourismo. The getaway car that can only get up to speeds of 80mph doesn’t stand much chance against a 159mph police car.
3. Randomly Placed Or Subsidised Tracker Devices (Labour would prefer to use the technology to hammer you)
A friend of a friend worked on a similar project for an insurer a few years ago. It was canned, but I am sure the benefits to society of having car thieves knowing they were playing prison roulette each time they stole a car would exceed the costs.
4. Local Car Registrations (Labour make £40m a year in number plate sales by not doing this)
In places like Slovakia the first two letters identify the town or region you are from. This makes it easy to identify out-of-towners by their car registrations allowing police to identify suspicious situations effectively. Also, it’s easy to remember car registrations when crimes are committed as there are less random digits to remember.
5. Full DNA Sweep Of Theft From Cars De Rigueur (if all the above are done and police get rid of red tape they will find time to do this)
If all thefts from cars were seriously investigated, I am sure that crime would fall further.
Bit of a long post I admit? Anything to add.
Following the commercially successful Hostel, Hostel II has just started film in Prague. One of the stars of the new film is Bijou Phillips. Bijou is a former model, and singer (she recorded the album "I'd rather eat glass" referring to her views about going back to modelling). She's been in a few films but is better known as part of the LA party-girl clique which includes the Hiltons and Tara Reid. The film is supposed to be set in Slovakia, but the film locations planned are Prague, Karlovy Vary and Cesky Budejovice and Cesky Krumlov in Czech and possibly Rome in Italy. Bijou - if you're reading this and need a guide, just let me know.
Roads Minister Stephen Ladyman (pictured) continues to disgrace himself. Previously I had blogged on his blocking of sensible EU-wide road safety legislation much to the chagrin of other EU partners. He vetoed speed limiters and reduction of alcohol limits. He can hardly claim that Labour has a great track record doing things their way. Of the EU member states, only Belgium had a smaller percentage reduction in car deaths than the UK between 2001 and 2004. Ladyman also failed to respond to a letter I sent to him on this matter. I presumed it might have been due to a change of heart that he had not replied. No such luck.
As reported today the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) recommend cutting the alcohol limit for drivers under 25 to reduce accidents(reducing the legal limit from 80 to 50 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood for motorists aged 17 to 25). Stephen Ladyman indicated that his stance had not changed. WHY NOT?
In a related development he is supporting attacks on bike use. Who is this fool working for? Stephen Ladyman - you are my official bete noir - I'm watching you. Hat-tip James Cleverly
Next post - how to reduce car crime.
12 September 2006
The title is just to attract hits - I only mean it a little bit. Previously, I had promised to compile a list of my worst Labour bloggers - however the fall in quantity is more noticeable than quality so that's what I'm primarily going to blog about. Many Labour blogs are either disappearing or just not as active as before. The three Labour bloggers that I link to are Political Hack, Ministry Of Truth and The Notorious Bob Piper. Part of my interest in them stems from their Midlands roots but I also find all of them to a greater or lesser extent engaging, knowledgeable and direct. Of late, Bob and PoliticalHack have been a bit quiet and MoT has been dormant. What's the matter chaps?
At least they're still blogging in public. Left-leaning (albeit not Labour)Political Teenager has gone to uni and the Wonderful World Of Lola has gone private!!!. I'm surprised Tom Watson hasn't gone to ground although he has failed to post some of the more direct posts he has received of late. Maybe he is having a period of reflection.
I might contrast these guys favourably with the case of Adele Reynolds who has gone postal. If you're not sure whether Labour has a bunker mentality check out that intro at the top of her site. Maybe even higher on the bile quotient are the drongos at Ridiculous politics who will blog about a Tory not putting a stamp on a letter, but have, as far as I can see, never knowingly criticised the most incompetent and corrupt government in UK history - which we have had the misfortune to suffer for the last 9 years. Meanwhile the Thirsk & Malton CLP blog which is in fact a blog without comments (ed. a website) has been awarded the title of Official Labour Conference Blogger. Good luck!
I brace myself for your comments.
Think Wembley, Supercasino and peerages. The British public is well used to Labour handing out awards for reasons other than merit. Now they've gone and sandbagged their own supporters. I previously blogged on Labour's official blogger competition for their September conference in Manchester. Labour said they were looking for the best, freshest and most innovative blogger. In fact they have chosen a non-person as a winner (Thirsk & Malton Constituency Labour Party) who writes rubbish or lies (they even think A-Levels aren't getting easier) every few days and isn't even a blogger because you can't leave comments. Check this out. Iain Dale even had him/her/them outside his top 100 Labour bloggers.
Doesn't popular Labour blogger and failed entrant Kerron Cross understand how his party works yet?
11 September 2006
Excellent summary of what the (insert) is going in Czech and Slovak politics from Peter Martinovic.
I have a house guest for the next few days, so I expect to be doing lots of socialising and very little blogging.
10 September 2006
The UK prisons service is in crisis. Unfortunately, in the maelstrom of organisations in and around the penal system the weight of government funding and support is definitely with abolitionists such as The Howard League and the Prisoners Handbook. I would like to add my weight to the other side of the argument. The site remains in development, but if you want to contribute to a rational and critical debate check out Prison Works. The authors' other websites are cool too.
I recently spent some time on the East Slovakian village of Ulic which borders Ukraine. Visas are required for citizens of either state to cross the border (as a UK citizen I could theoretically cross freely in either direction). EU money is being ploughed into Ulic to modernize the border facilities. Ulic is certainly an interesting place. Thickly forested hills separate Slovakia and Ukraine, but from certain potholed tracks you can view distant Ukrainian villages. Charcoal processing remains a significant business in the town and provides work for the significant Romany population. My guide pointed out several abandoned homes, whose residents had moved out to find work elsewhere. There was also a small row of large, modern detached houses. Their owners are said to benefit from smuggling activities. There was a noticeable police and army presence in the town and I felt a bit fortunate not to be stopped as I drove around. Although there were some Ukrainian language signs I didn’t see any Ukrainian cars or other evidence of any border crossing.
I heard a very interesting story during my time in Ulic which resonated a little. It was a story of a Slovak who came across a Ukrainian man. The Ukrainian man offered the Slovak $500 not to shop him to the authorities. $500 is likely two month’s salary in this part of Slovakia, but the story goes that the money was rejected and the authorities were informed. The point is that in border towns like these the local population can’t afford to make exceptions and do indeed act as a bulwark for the rest of the country against illegal immigration. The nearest the UK has to this town is probably Dover at the turn of the millenium.
09 September 2006
Anthony Blair has held firm and resisted calls from a minority of MPs within the Labour Party for him to name his departure date. Indeed why should he set the date? In May 2005 he received a clear mandate from the British electorate to serve a full term. The policies that he has attempted to implement (e.g. education reform) have been consistent with the 2005 election campaign although I acknowledge he has needed Tory support to get even small parts of this program through. Reading the resignation letters from party members eager for a new leader their motivations are entirely political rather than principled. As such I urge you to join me and sign the following petition to give support for Tony to go at a time of his choosing. I fully expect him to serve a full term. Don’t forget Labour’s achievements under TB as listed by Hazel Blears
Czech Television (CT) news department head Zdenek Samal dismissed David Borek for failing to properly moderate an interview with outgoing PM Jiri Paroubek. Samal said;
"A presenter should thoroughly consider any interrupting his guest, who is the main figure in the studio. It is also highly desirable to address the guest according to his post. It is also necessary to thoroughly concentrate on the contents of the guest´s statements and if he wants to argue with him or her, the moderator should be sufficiently prepared,"
I quite liked some of the questions Borek asked such as why the state deficit is so high in a country where the economy is growing at 6 per cent and to draw attention to the fact that the Slovaks under a right wing government also had a good record with respect to economic growth. Interestingly, in a poll 82% supported the sacked journalist. I found this intriguing article from 1998 which also paints Samal in a terrible light - as Croydonian might say "plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose". It's fair to say there is plenty of room but little chance, for a Jeremy Paxman figure on the Czech journalistic scene.
08 September 2006
Czech is known for cheap beer. I am told there is going to be a announcement today on VAT on alcohol in Czech Republic. Yes - a tax increase. I'm a bit fuzzy on this but something to do with the EU. I like this excellent post by Serf on what the EU costs the UK.
Update on Fri pm
Beat Reuters to this story although I admit their coverage kicked mine.
As I've blogged elsewhere transparent EU tax is a good thing. This is not transparent, but at least the publicity around it is.
Imagine the following was London not Prague.
1. I left work in south-west Prague at just after 7pm. I drove my five mile journey home crossing the river running through the city. I got to home which is about a mile south of the city centre, had a quick chat about my day with my gf and checked my mail and my blog quickly. I got changed into casual clothes and my mate came around. I'd arranged with helping him move house.
2. I drove him round to his ex-girlfriend's place in south Prague and whilst he went up to her third floor flat to collect his stuff I went to the nearest petrol station, filled up and got a bottle of alcohol for a house visit later.
3. Then I picked him up and we set out for his new address - an east Prague flat. I was a bit unfamiliar with the route and got a bit lost at first, but not too badly. I parked up and helped him get all his luggage into his apartment block.
4. I then set out for home again. I seemed to get stuck at all the traffic lights which was fairly frustrating.
5. I picked up my gf from home and we set out to our friends in north-west Prague. In west Prague we managed to miss a crucial turn due to rubbish signing - my excuse and I'm sticking to it, but we went via the Castle instead and got to my mates' apartment in good time for snacks and drinks - 9.15.
If I had the same scenario in London when do you think I'd have completed the journey?
06 September 2006
Khalid Mahmood is the Labour MP for Birmingham Perry Barr. I'd welcome him into the Tory party. He's the kind of guy we need.
Not only has he blown a beautifully-timed raspberry at Anthony Blair which will lead to further bloodshed in the Labour Party in Parliament and at large, but he is the only brave Muslim MP we have in the UK. He faced a 1,000 strong hostile mob during the Lozells riots and is also reported as saying the following.
Khalid Mahmood... said Muslims found it all too easy to shrug off the radicalization of some parts of their culture, particularly among young men. “They are reluctant to discuss what reality is and come to terms with it,” he said. Mr. Mahmood is a friend of the family of Tayib Rauf, one of the suspects whose arrest was announced Thursday, and he said that the Rauf family was comfortably off and not in any way fundamentalist. He suspected, he said, that Mr. Rauf had become radicalized in college, perhaps by listening to a speech from a visiting speaker. In a country where, for instance, Muslims were free to raise placards denouncing freedom of speech during a demonstration protesting the publication of cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed, Mr. Mahmood said British tolerance had allowed extremism to flourish. “We’ve been reluctant to curb freedom of expression or religious rights,” he said. “We’ve played host to people who weren’t allowed in their own country of origin.”
I'd rather have him running Immigration than the likes of Hughes, McNulty or Byrne.
05 September 2006
Real PT is back - sincere thanks to IMR for his engaging posts.
Final Day Of Labour Conference - Autumn 2004
ANDREW MARR: So are you, as you have this operation, considering how long you're going to stay on as Prime Minister?
TONY BLAIR: Well, I've given some thought to this ... But if I am elected, I would serve a full third term. I do not want to serve a fourth term. I don't think the British people would want a Prime Minister to go on that long. But I think it's sensible to make plain my intention now.
The people doing the best job of preventing Blair fulfilling his pledge are his own party members and MPs. Fine. That's their issue.
The British public voted at the GE on the commitment of Blair to serve the full term. If he goes early the British public is entitled to demand and get a General Election. I hope that my fellow Tories are ready to raise the volume if Blair reneges or is forced to renege on his pre-election commitment. Are you with me on this?
This morning's main BBC Breakfast headline was about Jill Dando's murder. Ostensibly anyway - it was really an advertisment for tonight's Panorama.
Last night, I saw a trailer for Five News, saying that tonight's episode (this now seems a more appropriate term than 'edition') would have Julie Walters in it, plugging some TV show or other. A trailer for what will be in tomorrow's news?!?
No wonder people are turning to blogs in their droves.
IMR (Not PT)
03 September 2006
Conservative blogs typically don't discuss non-terrestrial matters, and I risk being lumped in with Lembit Öpik for doing so (mind you, I wouldn't mind having a go at Siân Lloyd). But here we go anyway...
Smart 1 is the European Space Agency's lunar probe. This morning, it was deliberately crashed into the surface of the Moon. It sent back invaluable data on the Moon's composition, geography, etc, etc.
Let me recap: a publicly-funded agency deliberately smashed a man-made object into a celestial body, causing irreversible damage to a landscape that had been naturally forming for billions of years. I do think that the time will come when we look back on this era and wonder whether we could have avoided such vandalism.
IMR (not PT)
In a free society, you should be able to associate with others in whatever way you like. Conversely, your associations should be irrelevant when it comes to being chosen to do something. Like all good Conservatives, I don't like closed shops. If you want to work somewhere, it should be based on your merits, not the colour of your skin, the colour of your tie, the union you're in (or not), or your particular class credentials.
This is why I'd like to look at Freemasonry. No-one seems to talk about it. Yet, I'm constantly astounded by the number of professional politicians who I find are members. What's it all about? Does it really have no impact on political decision-making? If you have to look someone in the eye and tell them you don't think they're qualified for position x, is your objectivity going to be swayed by the realisation you're going to be looking them in the eye again at the lodge meeting that night?
Let's contrast the situation with that of the Monday Club. Personally, I have little sympathy with most of their ideas. However, three Conservative MPs were forced to resign from the organisation in 2001 due to the organisation's views. Yet, membership of Freemasonry is unchecked by the Party, despite (generally) the organisation only admitting men, requiring belief in a 'supreme being' and meeting in secret.
There's little doubt that, like nearly all 'establishment' institutions, Freemasonry is on the decline. So what do you think: is it a powerful closed shop, or just a bunch of middle-aged men looking for an excuse to get away from their wives?
IMR (not PT)
Okay, okay, so I haven't actually posted anything of substance yet. But I do have a good excuse: I've spent the day travelling to Manchester to watch England triumph against Andorra. Admittedly, it was the most one-sided international match I have ever seen. Vitriol about something or other to follow...
IMR (not PT)
01 September 2006
Hello - PT has rather foolishly let me do his blog for him for a few days. Bit late to write something right-wing and non-RO this late at night, but look for something tomorrow (technically, later today). I might do something about Masons. No-one seems to talk about them anymore.