Gale's Monthly Westminster View - September 2009
September 2009. The backlash following the release of the Lockerbie bomber; The Government's most senior law officer breaks her own law; and The Big Organ Grinder uses the `C` word for the first time.
But first, we are all potential paedophiles now. Want to drive some friends children to Girl Guides, or take them to football, or to school, on a regular basis? Serve as a school governor or as a dinner lady? Well you can no longer do so unless you subject yourself to scrutiny under Mr. Brown's "Vetting and Barring" scheme and, at a cost of £64, register with the new Independent Safeguarding Authority set up in belated over-reaction to the Soham murders. This may well be in addition to the cost of a Criminal Records Bureau search. It is, you would think, hard enough to persuade people to volunteer at all in this day and age of `elf and safety but unless this latest Balls-up is reversed the trickle of willing adults is going to turn into a dry river bed. We all want to see children properly protected but even the NSPCC appears to be opposed to big brother parent checks that could involve one quarter of all adults! Faced with a torrent of criticism from all quarters the Secretary of State for Education, Mr. Yvette Cooper, calls on his chairman of the ISA to review the guidelines for imposing registration but too little and too late. The harm is done.
And in the wake of this nonsense we learn of two women police officers who have been banned, by OFSTED, for caring for each others` infant children. The ladies are detectives at the same police station and work different shifts. Their kids are friends and hitherto they have cared for each others` children while one adult (from separate households) is at work. They are not, says OFSTED registered childminders and they are gaining a benefit in kind, so common sense goes out of the window. Pay for a nursery school and tick the box. Game, set and match to the lunatics in charge of this particular asylum.
"Fury" is reported from the USA following the release of the alleged Lockerbie bomber. That even the families of some of his victims are not convinced of his guilt is immaterial and that the meddling of Mrs. Hilary Rodham Clinton on schoolmarm style cannot have assisted in the pro-incarceration cause is almost certain.. Nevertheless, the desert meeting between The Legacy and Colonel Gaddafi is recalled, Following dark talk of double dealing by our illustrious Prime Minister and secret Trade deals involving Lord Foy of that Persuasion Young David promises a full enquiry into the premature release. In America, President Obama snubs the Big Organ Grinder five times and finally grants Mr. Brown a 2-minute audience.
The ninth of the ninth of 2009 comes and goes without the predicted ending of the world. "999" is, however, the day upon which a lot of policemen and women consider it expedient to get married. At least the newly-weds will have to spend less time on the beat filling in the "stop" forms introduced by one David Blunkett. At the time I was serving as a Special Constable and I had the temerity to suggest to the visionary Home Secretary that spending seven minutes in the pouring rain on a wet November night with both hands involved, thus giving your interviewee an excellent opportunity to knee you in the groin, might just not be an entirely productive use of constabulary time! He Who Was Always Right did not, of course, agree but quietly and belatedly the ludicrous form has apparently been re-written. That should save an estimated 200 hours of police time a year!
From the ninth to the fifteenth and a big red letter day. Gordon Brown, unelected Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, uses the `C` word. There will, he says, be cuts.
In fact, having criticised Young David for honestly indicating that UK limited is so broke that cuts in spending of at least 10% will be the order of the next government's day it now transpires that Gordie has secretly been considering reductions in public spending of the same magnitude all along. After the war of "my shirt is hairier than yours" it looks as though for the first time ever "My Knife Is The Sharpest" may become a common 2010 election slogan.
That the Son of the Manse is terminally wounded is clear. Chancellor Darling, emboldened presumably by the weakness of his next door neighbour, says in terms that the Prime Minister's claim to have "saved 500,000 jobs" through his mortgaging of our grandchildren's inheritance is, quite simply, untrue. With the OECD suggesting that GB will be last out of the recession, Chancellor Darling also concedes that, following a £17 billion bailout of Lloyds HBOS, a merger facilitated through the good offices of one Gordon Brown, Lloyds may need to be "slimmed down". This, of course, has nothing at all to do with the fact that the EU Commission is taking a long hard look at the £17 billion subsidy in the light of competition law.
Given that the BBC likes to be on the winning side in General Elections, Auntie's management must be facing a dilemma. With cultural Secretary Ben Bradshaw, a former Beeb man like myself, calling for cuts and phrases such as "politically correct box-tickers " in the air, while Shadow Secretary Jeremy Hunt indicates that the BBC needs to return to `core broadcasting`, to rein in its activities and hinting openly at the sell-off of Radios One and Two and the woefully inadequate BBC World Television (not to be confused with that jewel in the crown, BBC World Service Radio), the overpaid bureaucrats at White City and Broadcasting House have few places, politically, to hide. Far too late that dismal apparatchik Sir Michael Lyons and the ineffective Director General, Mark Thompson, acknowledge that the BBC should be "no bigger than it needs to be" and even more tardily the Corporation, responding to wholly justified charges of ageism, announces that it will be recruiting "over-50s newsreaders". So how about reinstating the excellent Moira Stewart? Or Selina Scott? Or Anna Ford? I doubt it. A craven management that can sack the veteran broadcaster Peter Jefferson, a loyal BBC employee since 1964, for using the "F" word when he thought that the microphone was off while continuing to employ, at our vast expense, the dreadful Mr. Ross, is not likely to display anything other than the arrogance for which it has become a by-word. Come in Michael Lyons and Mark Thompson. . Like the Prime Minister, your time is up.
If September started badly for Her Majesty's Government it ends in still poorer shape. The Attorney General, The Baroness Scotland, having rammed draconian (even by my own robust standards) immigration employment law, is found to be employing, as a domestic, an illegal Tongan immigrant. Guilty as charged and fined £5000 under the terms of her own legislation she describes this transgression as "rather like forgetting to pay the congestion tax"! I beg your pardon? This is the senior law officer talking and, incredibly, at the time of writing she is still in office. The phrase "in power but not in Government" springs to mind as she continues to receive the endorsement of Gordon Brown.
Which brings us to the Labour Party conference. I was, mercifully, doing something at least passably useful as a charity volunteer in Ghana during the entire week but press reports, and the testimony of Suzy Gale, do not make for pretty reading. Suffice it to say at this stage, and with no hint whatsoever of premature triumphalism ( I am old enough to remember somebody called Neil Kinnock who thought he was going to live in Downing Street) that the present Prime Minister has no authority left
A Hair and Beauty diploma is "worth three A-levels". The Secretary of State for Education considers these diplomas to be "courses of choice" while at the same time launching an intemperate attack on Kent's Grammar Schools, blaming selective education for poor results in some failing secondary establishments. Unhappily for Ed, the Kings London and Durham Universities study shows that despite rising GCSE results maths abilities are no better now than they were 30 years ago. Refuting claims of `dumbing down` exams a junior education Minister says that we should "stop doing down our young people". Whatever!
Mad Hattie wants to use her Equalities Bill to use variable rates of VAT to favour the poor. Her Department's "Women in Power" factsheet, while celebrating the successes of a number of nonentities, airbrushes Britain's first woman Prime Minister, one Margaret Thatcher, out of the picture. Hattie's Government Equalities Office describes this as "an oversight". Come to think of it, given the mediocrity of some of those considered worthy of inclusion Mother is probably heartily relieved that she has been omitted!
Sarko wants to raze The Jungle, "Sangatte Mark 2" to the ground and the French European Justice Commissioner, in harmony with the UK Commissioner for refugees, believes that Britain should take in these illegal migrants. Why? If European borders to the south are so porous then the law is quite clear: asylum seekers should claim asylum in the first safe haven that they reach. Sorry, Sarko. Your European problem, not ours!
Having said that, the Cross-party committee on migration tells us that we need another 250 primary schools to take in 67.000 migrant children at a cost to the UK taxpayer of around £1billion. And we already have the largest primary school class sizes in the developed world.
On lighter notes Vera Lynn, at the age of 92, tops the album charts with "We'll Meet Again" but, sadly, will receive no royalties and in Flintshire the Council Canteen has re-christened as "Spotted Richard" the traditional "Spotted Dick" to avoid what the thought police have described as "immature comments"!
Wednesday, September 30th
"Labour's Lost It" screams the Sun's banner headline. "After 12 long years in power, this Government has lost its way. Now it's lost The Sun's support too" Be afraid. Be very afraid. Britain simply cannot afford another Labour Government but the Conservative Party has to win 140 more seats than it currently holds to form a Government. A Lib/Lab coalition in a hung parliament with the Conservative party as the largest single party but without an overall majority would be a disaster. Their support is, of course, welcome but there is not one vestige of room for complacency, however much its editor may feel that "It's The Sun What Wins It".