For me, a major benefit of blogging is networking and this brings me on to what I think will be the next identifiable phase of blogging. Collaboration. The only thing that makes me uneasy about this prediction is how much ego drives blogging. Most of the big political blogs are run by one person. However, I think this model will be vigorously challenged in the near future.
It is already noticeable that bloggers are collaborating in a variety of ways. A successful example is the magazine style Pickled Politics that currently has nine regular contributors, but looser affiliations such as Blogpower also seem to achieve synergies. Campaign blogs such as Anyone But Ken (all six contributors are on my blogroll) also appear very suited to collaboration.
I don't want to get too distracted ahead of the May elections, but once they have passed, I would like to work with other right-wing bloggers on some collaborative projects. All ideas gratefully received. On the subject of networking, I am meeting an Icelandic Conservative for lunch tomorrow to discuss a blog that he is looking to set up. Should be fun.
31 March 2007
For me, a major benefit of blogging is networking and this brings me on to what I think will be the next identifiable phase of blogging. Collaboration. The only thing that makes me uneasy about this prediction is how much ego drives blogging. Most of the big political blogs are run by one person. However, I think this model will be vigorously challenged in the near future.
Who committed the following to text?
"I do think certain individuals are disposed to crime because of their genetic inheritance"
30 March 2007
One of my favourite bloggers is Tony Sharp who writes the Waendal Journal. His blogging personality reveals a man of principle and his arguments are brilliantly informed and crystal clear. He blogs about what he cares about and right now he feels passionately about the injustices being perpetrated in Zimbabwe under Mugabe. Like him, I urge you to watch this film and admire the courage of those prepared to sacrifice their lives for freedom.
It was a pleasure to discover that Tony is running for council in the Brickhill Ward of Wellingborough this May. I don't know what his ambitions are, but I'd love to see him in Parliament. He's the kind of straight talking/street fighting Conservative that the general public would relate to.
29 March 2007
Back in October I kicked off a discussion on land reform and land value tax (LVT) with the provocative title where's my acre? alluding to the fact that the UK contains 60 million people living on 60 million acres. I followed that post up with a couple more, but let the subject wither on the vine somewhat.
Having at least convinced myself of the virtues of LVT, my next post was to be on how to implement LVT, but it is an extensive project. Fortunately a bright spark has taken up the cause and has given me sight of his paper on implementing LVT. His work is particularly strong on addressing potential issues and objections. I hope to be able to let you know when he finalises it. In the meantime, I thought I would prepare a few lines on why replacing CGT, IHT, council tax and stamp duty with LVT would be efficient.
1. Economic efficiency. Tax should not distort business decisions and should discourage neither economic growth nor individual enterprise and effort.
The introduction of LVT would address several market distortions in the UK tax system. The current system taxes built property heavily. LVT removes this disincentive to build which would address housing shortages through the market. Secondly, it would level the playing field between land and other asset classes that are taxed such as cash and shares. Further, because land is finite there is no deadweight cost associated with lost output as a result of LVT.
2. Fairness The least well-off should pay a smaller proportion of tax. People in similar circumstances should be treated equally.
Counter-intuitively, more expensive residential properties have a lower council tax to property value ratio than cheaper properties. In the round LVT would be more progressive than the existing basket of property taxes.
3. Simplicity and transparency Tax should, as far as possible, be clear, easy to understand, of certain application, easy to calculate and easy to collect.
LVT is a very simple tax to understand. There would be no exemptions and due to its nature, avoidance or cheating would be very difficult. Replacing the existing taxes will reduce the number of unfair loopholes that currently exist.
4. Stability and predictability Once a tax has been adopted, changes to tax law should be kept to a minimum.
There are three parameters related to an LVT assessment ; land area (a matter of fact), land value (to be independently assessed) and the LVT rate applied (I would apply a single rate such as 1.5% of land value per annum). Herein lies a risk. If land values fall, so will LVT revenues and there could be a risk of the government tinkering with the rate and precipitating further falls in land values. I would legislate that LVT rates can only be moved incrementally and within a range (say 1% to 2.5%).
This topic has stimulated enjoyable debates in the past. Looking forward to another one.
28 March 2007
MPs have just voted for a £10,000 communications allowance each to add to their already exorbitant expenses. This bung is expected to be used on blogs and websites. Need I say that this adds insult to injury. Sensible commentators have been up in arms about the abuse of public money on Labour Environment Minister Miliband's blog. The government's response - a £6.5m freebie to sitting MPs to allow them to do the same thing.
It was good to see the Conservatives oppose this sleazy and unfair measure and I want them to commit to reverse it. Mr Straw who supported the measure said websites funded by the extra £10,000 must not promote a party or politician. The other one's got bells on it. Here's a safe prediction - most of that £6.5m will be misspent - not only does this measure help incumbent MPs, but it is an open invitation to corruption. I know I bang on about Labour sleaze, but are there any depths left for them to plumb?
Ok, I'm back sooner than I promised, but I've just booked a week's holiday in the first part of April when I will get a couple of friends to guest for me - I can't keep taking breaks.
Nice weather in Prague and getting out and about a bit more has been fun. As a result of a chance meeting, I might be able to land a little part-time job here in Prague which will be easier to fit in around blogging than my last position. Last night, I went to chess club for the first time in a while. It's really lively there these days and there's always a good conversation to be had. It's been mentioned by others that Prague has something of a sordid reputation which was rather cemented when two strangers I was chatting with independently admitted to running successful porn sites - yes I did feel like a gooseberry. More disturbing were the anti-Semitic conspiracy theories that I overheard several regulars floating. One chap was harking back to Jewish bankers and 15th Century Spanish history (or at least his version of it). Your typical Bush-hating Leftie really wants to believe these conspiracies. This sort of stuff borders on madness in my opinion.
I'm about to book flights back to the UK to help with the May elections. I shall probably manage a week of campaigning before the elections and I am still finalising my top secret plans. When I was initially preparing my ideas concerning where to help, my first thoughts were to work in certain "target seats", but as I've been evaluating things I have become a bit more discerning. Firstly, I am going to help friends even if winning would be a Herculean task - moving the vote to within striking distance is a very worthwhile exercise in my opinion. Secondly, although I'm quite happy to trudge the streets for hours if I'm freeing up the candidate's time for him or her to knock doors or undertake other electioneering or council activities, I am not going to break my back delivering for a lazy councillor.
I've been asked to do a presentation on blogging to some fellow Tories in the Summer. Anecdotally, the benefits of blogging can be quite unexpected and bloggers' reasons for continuing to blog are often quite different to the reasons that they started, so I'll probably explore that theme a bit. Martine Martin's research project into right-leaning blogs should be finished soon, which might provide some insights based on evidence. Anyway, on this theme I would certainly appreciate any tips or advice from my readers.
22 March 2007
There has been a load of rubbish spouted by the MSM about this budget. Nick Robinson and Evan Davis on the Beeb's "expert blog" are amongst the worst. But the prize for the worst example of kindergarten incompetence is the BBC's budget calculator. Everyone's a winner, baby. They say that their calculator can not yet reflect the proposed changes to the income tax regime (why not?), but type in that you're earning £7k (in other words you will be paying tax at 20% instead of 10%) and it shows you as being £20 better off due to income tax!!! BBC lies or BBC incompetence. You decide.
Super-tax Mark I - Super-tax For The Super-rich
The last time Labour were in power between 1974 and 1979, the very rich suffered from exorbitant tax rates. In the first budget when Thatcher came to power, Geoffrey Howe cut top rate tax from 83% to 60% on earned income and from 98% to 75% on unearned income. Those suffering top rate tax could generally arrange their affairs to avoid these punitive rates. For example, Rod Stewart became a tax exile in California in 1975 and called that year's album "Atlantic Crossing". Unsurprisingly, in reducing these exorbitant tax rates the Tories stimulated higher tax revenues. Super-tax was a poor economic idea grounded in the politics of envy.
Super-tax Mark II - Super-tax For The Masses
In their latest incarnation Labour have been keen not to frighten the rich. Access has been widened - these days anybody can suffer supertax. As a result of increased income tax, national insurance and reduced housing benefit and tax credits, those in the £10k to £15k household income range can face 90% plus marginal tax rates (and that was before yesterday). Faced with the clarity of yesterday's post on Gordon's regressive budget, certain Labourites have scampered away to try to prove that extra benefits will mean that low earners are not worse off after all as a consequence of the budget. If they can prove that, I think that will mean there are some poor souls facing 100% marginal tax. Aside from the obvious disincentives to work and the deep poverty trap that Labour are digging, this tinkering forces more and more people to wade through the government's byzantine benefits system to get back in benefits what they've just been taxed. Under New Labour, the client state rules thanks to the return of supertax. This rant is brought to you in association with the most incompetent, sleaziest, meddling, authoritarian government I have ever had the misfortune to cross.
The Independent produced a 50 point eulogy to the EU on its cover the other day which has been throroughly fisked. As someone who lived and worked in the Czech Republic before and after their 2004 EU accession, I reckon that the EU has made little positive difference to my life. As you may know the gf is studying in Prague (which means we will be here until at least 2009). She has just started a law module which includes some EU law. For this study, we bought a textbook which shall remain nameless as I don’t want to give the authors any publicity (and as they are lawyers they’d probably find a way to sue me for reproducing their "work"). Here’s the very first section of their book. I have put the abridged bits in brackets.
One problem that appears to confront students of EU law is an apparent assumption in the UK that Europe is something foreign, that it refers to a place and to people across the English Channel that has nothing to do with the UK. This is, of course, not the truth since … (boring timeline discussion about the 1972 EC Act and the 1975 referendum)
Paraphrase - in the first paragraph of this textbook we patronise the British reader!
Nevertheless, Euro-scepticism is not uncommon within the country and it would not be unreasonable to suggest that this, in part at least, follows the encouragement of certain elements of the media. (Here follows a blustering and at times shocking discourse outlining the misconceptions that Euro-sceptics suffer from and how a united Europe has been desired since the Romans, name-dropping Napoleon and incredibly Hitler(!) as aspiring for a united Europe).
Paraphrase - Although a united European has never stuck, we find it surprising that some opposition remains. We blame, at least in part, dark forces operating within the British media (Ed. and presumably believe that BBC are unbiased).
Historically, then, it is true to say that the so-called Euro-sceptics" are in a minority and that there has always been in a widest sense a European identity and the desire for European unity. In this way it is Euro-scepticism which is the recent phenomenon and indeed exists only in restricted elements of national feeling that is hostile to the idea of Community. It has a particular foothold in the United Kingdom.
Paraphrase - We've made the biggest leap since Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon in our first sentence, but we're hoping you'll ignore that. Euro-scepticism means being opposed to anything foreign and only exists amongst nationalist/individualists (oxymoron alert) mainly amongst those horrible islanders in the cold, north-west of the continent.
I get the feeling that I may share more from this tome. I haven't got to the social chapter chapter yet.
21 March 2007
I said on my last post that I would like to abolish payroll taxes for those earning the minimum wage. Incredibly, Gordon Brown has just doubled the marginal rate of income tax for some minimum wage workers from 10% to 20%. There will be many low earners who have just had their income tax bill doubled!!! His "cut" has increased income tax liabilities for almost anyone* earning more than £5,000 but less than £17,935.
This table shows the impact of the 10% rise and 2% reduction on people who have reached this break-even point. Nobody earning less than £17,935 is better off as a result of this budget and that will include most part-time workers. Whilst I would normally applaud simplification of the tax system, this move is very regressive. Poor show, Mr Brown.
*exceptions due to different personal allowances do not change the overall picture.
20 March 2007
Last night's 18 Doughty Street Blogger TV was fun. It has been uploaded despite the strong language. Listen to how many namechecks I get. Alex Hilton of Recess Monkey seems to be struggling with reality. He reckons
- half of the abuse he gets on his site is from me.
- he doesn't mind people abusing him and doesn't delete comments or ban people who abuse him
- he's going to ban me.
Nice logic. Fact is that apart from wishing him good luck for last night and pointing out a clumsy doppleganging attempt, I've put seven words on his site since his Maggie Thatcher debacle from over two weeks ago. The words were "hitch the post lies preferred I by". Considering that Alex is understandably one of the most abused political bloggers on the Internet, I'm pretty happy to be making such an impact on him with so little effort. Watch the show. Alex's demeanour was an insight into the bunker mentality that has begun to overcome the ruling party.
19 March 2007
Regular readers may think that some of my posts are jocular. Indeed some are. This one isn’t. The reason a section of my blogroll is devoted to law and order is because I care about it. I’ve met pensioners afraid to leave their home for (justifiable) fear of being mugged and I despise that situation. The following comment was made on a national newspaper’s website – no link exists because the comment was spiked. The comment relates to the Daniel Coffill case about which I blogged a few days ago.
"I was a juror at this trial. It was an enlightening and worrying awakening of how our system works. Jurors were loathe to leave the court buildings during the trial, as the defendant's friends and family were hanging around outside. At the end of the trial when the defendants were found guilty the judge told the jury that the two defendants weren't going to be sentenced, as they had harassed the two witnesses during the trial while they were walking to the station!
As a result, the two were put into custody awaiting a further trial and sentencing. I spoke to the court usher at the time and asked him what sentence he expected the boys to eventually get. He said they would get at least double figures, as now the effect the crime has on the victim's family is taken into account. To hear their sentence was so short in the first place is wrong but to have it shortened further is unbelievable.. The whole system is a mockery
These lads, and their families, even during the trial, had no respect for the courts or their judgment. One of the defendants 'slow hand clapped' the jurors as we left. As a result of intimidation, we were escorted out via a 'secret' exit from the court to avoid any confrontation.
Since this jury service I have repeatedly thought about Daniel Coffill and his family caring for him - such a tragedy. These two should not be out on the streets. They took no notice of authority even when on trial. I wish to remain anonymous as I don't want to come face to face with any of them if they are to be out so soon."
I’ve emboldened what I consider the most sickening elements of the juror’s quotes. Is this the sort of criminal justice system we deserve? Let’s hear your thoughts.
Just got a link from the excellent Inspector Gadget who has been covering this case in more detail.
People are welcome to delve into my archives to uncover factual inaccuracies. Hint - there have been two minor errors that I have needed to correct. I don't have a track record of lying on my blog. Off topic comments on this thread (i.e. calling me a liar) will be considered trolling and will be deleted.
18 March 2007
I am drugged up on Benylin - it says on the pack "May cause drowsiness. Do not drive or operate machinery" - so I'm taking it that excessive blogging is also a bad idea. However, what I will say about the NHS is that the government has spent so much of our money and completely failed to deliver in every dimension.
16 March 2007
15 March 2007
I've got a few posts saved up and ready to go, but the stag weekend starts shortly so light blogging from now until late Sunday. Apologies for the unoriginal picture. Please can readers continue the good work on Fiona Millar, vote for which Labour blogger I should mimic for a day and send any interesting posts to firstname.lastname@example.org. Laters.
When bloggers I respect get a bee in his or her bonnet, I tend to listen. There are several storms brewing in the blogosphere. Here's two.
Ian Grey is a Blogpower member and an occasional visitor to this blog. Ian lives in Morley which is located several miles south-west of Leeds. This council is located in a safe seat for Labour and Ed Balls will
be parachuted in take over from Colin Challen, the incumbent MP at the next election. In 2004, (following the resignation of a Labour party councillor) Ian Grey won a by-election in the Morley ward of Elmfield. Ian stood as an independent and beat the BNP candidate as Labour slumped into third place. In fact the majority of Morley councillors are independent. Ian has his own opinions and isn't somebody to take the path of least resistance for an easy life. He is very unhappy with his council colleages for stifling debate on contentious decisions and has set up a fresh blog to deal with Morleygate.
Dan Coffill case
Inspector Gadget is one of the most highly respected police bloggers. Lately, he has been moved to blog on the story of Dan Coffill, an off-duty Lewisham policeman, who has been reduced to a vegetative state by two thugs (who have just had their sentences reduced on appeal). Dan's family feel completely let down by the justice system and have been in touch with the Police Inspector. He is ready to release further information on this case. If you thought the doctors were angry with the government over at Dr Crippen's, try looking at the comments from our police officers over at Gadget's place.
14 March 2007
The facebook group
"If 100,000 people join, my fiance will let me name my second son Spiderman"
has 99,977 members. Sign up, quick.
Recent news on this group undermines its raison d'etre, but never mind.
"It's been a while since i started this group. so long in fact, that the Fiancee' i had when this start and i have parted ways, those of you that have been member from the begining will well remember when i posted that me and her broke off our engagment (about three mounths ago). i have also posted multiple times that there is no child in the works at this very moment. it will likly be years befor i actually have a second son, let alone the first. but if my wife at the time agrees, I WILL NAME THAT CHILD SPIDER MAN BANDELE."
I've spent some time trawling for the best EU related blogs/websites so you don't have to.
1. Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan is a brilliant writer and his fairly new blog is already gaining a deservedly excellent reputation.
2. Europe Reform is the site for the new Reform grouping that the Tories will lead from 2009.
3. I hadn't checked it out for some time, but I was heartened to see that DUP MEP Jim Allister continues to run one of the most informative Europe websites.
4. MEP Watch has got off to a good start and I expect it to play a crucial role in ensuring that our 2009 delegation will be fit for purpose.
5. I met some people from the Open Europe organisation before Christmas. They have taken to blogging with aplomb.
Please feel free to add suggestions before I set up an EU section in my links.
Referring back to my previous post, fewer than half of all local authorities will meet a deadline this month on equal pay structures for men and women, the Local Government Association says. And some councils in England and Wales have done nothing to bring in the changes negotiated 10 years ago, the government has said.
Based on the above, this looks like a good field to be involved in, so if you'd like to engage me to look at your council's issues from a financial and risk-based perspective, I am sure I will be able to agree a decent discount from my standard rates for you. Mail me at email@example.com with your details so that we can discuss further.
I was looking over an excellent post by Ross Cowling on Labour's tax rises with a view to analysing how many of their taxes could be classified as stealth when I noticed a pattern in the council tax rises. They say that a picture tells a thousand words, so here is a graph showing the council tax rises under Labour by year. I have helpfully marked the dates of the general elections.
Big picture, average council tax has nearly doubled under Labour whilst full-Time earnings have only increased by just over 50% since Labour have come to power (Source 1 and Source 2).
2007 is likely to be a very bad year for council tax payers. Of course, the timing in the electoral cycle makes it likely that they will take an unpleasant hit. I'd suggest that Blair's legacy aspirations may have depressed the 2006 rise so the required increase is probably likely to be even greater than is usual at this stage in the electoral cycle. Further, there is speculation that due to government-imposed single status agreements, back-dated liabilities of up to £3bn may be embedded - and that's before taking into account the inflationary impact of single status on current payroll expenditure. All in all, I predict a double-digit rise via rate increases and/or a council tax rebanding exercise. Expect things to get messy.
Conservatives Abroad are developing a series called the view from... The latest are from expats in Spain and Russia. Check them out here. Also, if you're interested Conservatives Abroad are asking people what to campaign on. I'm hosting a friend's stag do this weekend, so if anyone wants to do a few guest blog posts this weekend, I would be delighted. Also, my blog is now worth about £40,000, but I would be willing to listen to lower offers. Mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
13 March 2007
On February 6 2006, Stephen Harper became the first Canadian Conservative premier for 12 years having united the opposition and ran a strong campaign which included a "policy a day" initiative (British Conservatives take note). He has now been in power for 400 days.
Stephen Harper is a trained economist and before becoming a national leader many thought that he was more suited to being a backroom boy. His successful spell in charge has rebuffed this notion and he has a keen group of young conservative supporters many of whom share Stephen's passion for ice hockey.
Toronto Tories are a group of students. Purpletory is from Ontario, aged eighteen and is a keen rock fan. BC Tory is another youngster and has been going since 2005. Darkbluetory and Saskatory both started blogging in the month when Stephen Harper gained power.
Don't know what the deal is with all these colours, but my favourite name of the lot is the prolific Red Tory. There's a very interesting thread going at his place about Harper's lack of appeal to women.
12 March 2007
At about this time last year I met up with a married couple living in Selly Oak who were deciding how to vote in the upcoming council elections. They had no particular party loyalties, but were resolved to make their vote count. This how the May election panned out.
Paul Billingham British National Party 328
David Radcliffe Liberal Democrat 2503
Peter Tinsley The Green Party 554
David Williams The Labour Party 1616
Barbara Wood The Conservatives 1042
The tale of what happened in the run-up to this election was rather amusing. The wife got a knock on the door from the Labour candidate. She does a cycle commute to Birmingham every morning and told him that she felt that the quality of lighting on the routes were appalling. He was simply apologetic. Then she found out that he was the councillor responsible for promoting good urban design. As she is an architect who does lots of urban design (especially in Manchester) this was another red rag. He was unable to tell her who his favourite architect was and was generally uninformed about architecture. After half an hour of humiliation, the poor chap left safe in the knowledge no vote had been secured.
The husband received a visit from cycling councillor Dave Radcliffe. The doorstep performance was somewhat shambolic and simply failed to connect. If that's what he's like on the doorstep, why would I give him my vote was the verdict? Zero out of two to the door-knockers. The irony is that it's perfectly possible that if the councillors had swapped, Dave the cycling councillor would have secured the wife's vote and the old Labour man might have persuaded the husband that he was a decent bloke. The couple have now moved to a solidly Tory area, but they mentioned to me that they are irritated with the tone of one of the local councillor's letters to the public. No pleasing some is there?
09 March 2007
Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)?
First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in time. So we need to know the rate at which souls are moving into Hell and the rate at which they are leaving. I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving. As for how many souls are entering Hell, let's look at the different religions that exist in the world today. Most of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell. Since there is more than one of these religions and since people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all souls go to Hell. With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially. Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell because Boyle's Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in
Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to expand proportionately as souls are added.
This gives two possibilities:
1. If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose.
2. If Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over.
So which is it?
If we accept the postulate given to me by Teresa during my Freshman year that, "It will be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with you," and take into account the fact that I slept with her last night, then number two must be true, and thus I am sure that Hell is exothermic and has already frozen over. The corollary of this theory is that since Hell has frozen over, it follows that it is not accepting any more souls and is therefore, extinct......leaving only Heaven, thereby proving the existence of a
divine being which explains why, last night, Teresa kept shouting "Oh my God,oh my God."
Source - University of Washington mid-term exam, Chemistry Department - as you can probably tell I don't have much time for blogging today.
07 March 2007
I am so grateful for you and your friends' help. I think the Labour Party
would have just ignored me otherwise, but you guys made them listen.
I know winning these awards will help me in the future and possibly highlight the documentary to people who might not have watched it. If anything I hope it's a comfort for people to know that incidents like these will never go unheard as long as there are people like yourself to highlight and question the things the party wants to hide.
For this reason alone I owe a lot to you.
All the best,
06 March 2007
Getting The Staff
I can’t find a decent astro-turfer for love nor money. Some time ago, I advertised. The main problem I have found is one of too many chiefs and not enough Indians. Everyone wants to have their own blog. What I would like to see would be some sort of apprenticeship scheme where people can start as a blog commenter - if they’re any good they can get trained up as an astro-turfer. Only accomplished astro-turfers should be allowed to have their own blogs.
The most important reason for market failure in the astro-turfing and sock-puppet market is government interference. Why would an astro-turfer work for private blogs when they can get a cushy deal working for the government? As this thread shows the standard of astro-turfing in the public sector is risible. But, nobody ever gets sack – in fact the worse job they do, the more overtime they can justify. I recently made the mistake of recruiting a couple of turfers from the public sector. They didn’t last a week. One kept calling himself PT’s sockpuppet and the other kept rebutting me or started mowing her favourite bits of cyberspace (women’s sites).
Are Vouchers The Answer?
How can a private blog owner compete with that? I’m not advocating that all blogs should get allocated their own government astro-turfer, but there is a case for some sort of voucher system to subsidise private endeavour. Once a blogger gets a certain amount of traffic they should start receiving astro-turfing vouchers to spend (or trade) as they wish.
Is it unreasonable for me to expect a hired astro-turfer or sock-puppet to manage the estate for a few hours without having someone looking over their shoulder? The answer is obvious, but to get there we need a far greater level of professionalism in the industry. To facilitate this I support the idea that astro-turfers should need to pass an exam so that you can be sure that they know their ad hominem attacks from their trolling before you employ them. Anyway, I’ll throw it over to you. Let me hear your ideas for raising astro-turfing standards.
When I went out with Mutley last night, I was given two rules by Ms PT. Firstly, no pictures and secondly don’t wake her up when I come back. I met Mutley in his hotel lobby. He had green absinthe stains all down the front of his shirt, but reckoned that he could pass it off as a tie.
Mutley’s colleagues from the Bridport tourist board were knocking about. Diverse bunch - pictured is Marj the shoplifter (check the top of her back). It’s well known that Mutley got his job by ticking the homosexual box so he introduced me as his gay tryst for the evening. I think he gets a bit tired of “caring” and “enabling” his colleagues and he ordered them to get the staff to put them to bed.
Unimaginatively, we ended up in U Buldoka – only skinheads are allowed downstairs (had you heard that Britney’s in town?), but it was quieter upstairs anyway. We started to reflect on blogging. Apparently, Mutley’s been making a fair wedge from ads since he started, but also explained that he’s just found some Albanian sites that guarantee greater riches. Mutley plans to set up a Bridport diaspora website for people like Paul Newman who were forced to leave their home town.
I told Mutley about the Reagan monument in Prague - Mutley is thinking of getting a George Bush done for Bridport. Town twinning is always so competitive isn’t it?
After making a pass at the waitress using his Czech swear list we had to leave. Mutley got to thinking about Ms Honeysmack on the walk home and we tried a few doorbells just in case. (Cyber-appeal - he loves you – can’t you give him another chance?) Anyway, I left him to walk the last bit. Mutters, can let me know whether you got back OK?
05 March 2007
Danny Dewsbury is a talented film-maker. I got to know him a little after a cross-party group of bloggers banded together to try to get the Labour Party to honour their obligations towards him.
On Saturday Danny Dewbury won Best Documentary and the Grand Jury Award (given to the best film) at the National Student Film Festival for his film Slave Labour - which is about Danny's time working for the Labour Party.
I've seen the 25 minute film and it is excellent. The Prescott speech at the end was my favourite bit. Danny's not a political animal, but his film raises many important political issues. Danny has accepted my offer to do a guest post here. I don't know what he'll decide to cover, but I am delighted to observe his well-deserved and continuing success. Congratulations.
Usually, I find it hard to empathise with Lib Dems, but I'm going to give it a go. Let's say you're a Lib Dem MP in a Labour wasteland with the Tories breathing down your neck. Your Scottish leader just did a conference speech attacking Cameron and setting out the five conditions Labour would need to meet for the Dems to coalesce with them after the next election.
I would be LIVID. After that speech, it is crystal clear that a vote for the Libs will be a vote to keep Labour in power. Vote Ming, get Gordon. The following 20 MPs are most at risk from Tories mopping up the anti-Labour vote in their area. I can't believe they will allow Ming to kill their careers. The choice for them is stark - mutiny or retirement.
Sandra Gidley - Romsey & Southampton North (Maj 100)
Lorely Burt - Solihull - 300
Tim Farron - Westmorland & Lonsdale 300
Jeremy Browne - Taunton 600
Tom Brake - Carshalton & Wallington - 1000
Chris Huhne - Eastleigh - 1000
Paul Keetch - Hereford & South Herefordshire - 1000
David Heath - Somerton & Frome - 1000
Martin Horwood - Cheltenham - 2000
Adrian Sanders - Torbay - 2000
Dan Rogerson - Cornwall North - 3000
Mike Hancock - Portsmouth South - 3000
Paul Burstow - Sutton & Cheam - 3000
Roger Williams - Brecon & Radnorshire - 4000
Susan Kramer - Richmond Park - 4000
John Pugh - Southport - 4000
Don Foster - Bath - 5000
Nicholas Harvey - Devon North - 5000
Annette Brook - Dorset Mid & Poole North - 5000
I should note that there are Lib/Con coalitions that have operated well. I wander what John Hemming Birmingham MP and Lib Dem Councillor thinks of this.
Update - The names were based on 2005 results. Factual edits have been made as Cheadle is no longer marginal. Of course, many of the above seats may also be impacted by boundary changes/MPs standing down etc.
04 March 2007
Trying to decide what to do tomorrow evening.
Favourite to start the evening is Bulldog. Straddling the fence between a smokey dive of a bar and a club because it's open late and has DJs, The Bulldog, is a receptacle for the local flotsam and jetsam. It's where I met the future Ms PT.
Chateau is an option, but it isn't much more than a grimy, seedy bar with red walls. Last Wednesday, there was a David Cameron look-alike in there who appeared to be trying to score some drugs - he was certainly looking in the right place.
Zlaty Strom (meaning Golden Tree) is one of those places that has a video outside with loads of people dancing, but is usually deserted inside. Check out the losers on their website when you click "music-club". That chap who's bent double on the dancefloor starts fights.
There is also an absinthe bar somewhere near the Globe bookstore, but I'm not sure which street it's on.
On reflection, maybe we'll go up-market and shoot some pool at Cafe Louvre. As you can probably tell, I don't often go out in Prague. Does anyone have any ideas?
Everybody has a friend who always gets them in trouble. Mutley is mine. Just before he went out to meet an old friend of his, he posted this picture on my blog.
The State Of Play
Guido offers a splendid summary of the state of play on "loans for lordships". Everyone (except the most blinkered Labour acolytes) agrees that Labour's funding of their 2005 general election campaign deserved scrutiny. This funding was by way of secret loan arrangements from questionable sources such as David Garrard - a man for whom the Conservatives had erected a plaque in his honour as recently as 2003 and former Capita boss Rod Aldridge. The saga reveals a breakdown in the traditional checks and balances we expect from British democracy and undermines the assumption that Britain has a free press.
Angus MacNeil, the charismatic SNP politician who formally lodged the complaint with the Met in March 2006 will deserve his place in history no matter what happens now - Inspector Yates too will never have to buy a drink again should he secure convictions. And of course Guido and Iain. But, that's it chaps. There are no more prizes on offer. We're in the final straight and it is time to let justice take its course. The job's done.
If anyone is writing a book on cash for peerages and needs a proof-reader, I'd be happy to cast my eye over it, but other than ridiculing Labour holdouts my days of commenting on this cash for peerages investigation are (fingers crossed) largely behind me. Now we need to turn to examine the likes of Mittal, Ronnie Cohen and state funding for political parties.
Arrived in Prague on the overnight train with a present for my old friend Mutley. It was a pleasant morning, but I was rather worried about the fact that neither Mutley nor my fiancee were answering their mobiles. Got home and the front door was wide open. No sign of Mutley or Ms PT except for a short note stuck to the screen of my desktop. I suppose I'll just have to wait here for Mutley to return to give his side of the story.
Mulling letting Mutley post his story here - it is totally implausible, but quite amusing. On a partly related note, I may be in some local difficulties after hearing reports that Mutley attempted to set the Mayor of Prague up with a profile on adult friendfinder. Also, the gf is staying with a friend, but I've decided to take down the picture as she'll probably get annoyed.
02 March 2007
Being stranded last night after the arrest of the transgendered John Bull
impersonators, and being ejected from a Bar named "Alcohol" (plain folks
these Czechs) I returned to my garret room in Zlatnicka Ulika, to pen this
pondering for Mr PTs’ Blog. As he is a world famous political commentator I
am somewhat in awe, so if I stumble over my words a little or giggle
nervously please forgive me.
Nymphomania is sadly a little studied phenomenon outside of the adult film
industry. As my friend Mr F has rightly stated – Prague has become a hub
for the production of celluloid erotica, and so I could not be in a better
place to research the topic. Yesterday morning I popped into the Tourist
Information office on Kunda Platz ( Kermit Place – it is named like much in
Prague Old Town after characters from the Muppets) . A woman with a face
like a sack of porcupines greeted my stuttering Czech with horror "Ty debile
Zasranej - …. Er Nymphomaniac Movies?" I began.
I did not realise it was possible to really make a revolving door spin round like that as a body shoots through it. I thought that was only in cartoons!! Later I met the GF who Mr PT claims is his long term partner. I am suspicious of that as not only is she rather cute, she is also a game girl! She said for flat fee and an hourly rate plus expenses she was willing to help my research efforts in person!!
What do you think I should do?
01 March 2007
I am taking a train later tonight to deepest Slovakia and will have intermittent Internet access.
Mutleythedog is now in charge of the blog until I return at some point on Sunday. Provided we are still friends, I will be giving Mutley the Praguetory tour of the city next week - so hopefully we'll have a few anecdotes for you.