Recent Articles

TaxPayers Alliance caught out confused on “wasteful” spending

by David Semple     July 6, 2010 at 4:42 pm

Q: When is state spending considered ‘wasteful’ by the TPA?

A: When it was instituted by a British Labour government.

This is the impression one can’t fail to get when reading the following two statements by the Taxpayer’s Alliance on the subject of government-developed iPhone applications, which improve civic engagement.
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Conservative contradictions on crime and punishment

by David Semple     June 30, 2010 at 4:53 pm

The Tories have long had what one might call a ‘progressive’ (ugh, hate that word) streak on crime and punishment.

In the late 1980s, prison populations under the Tories began to fall as Douglas Hurd and others tried to establish consensus around non-custodial ideas, which would see people avoid prison.

But to leave the matter there is to ignore staggering contradictions on the part of the Tories.

Firstly, there’s no proposal to get rid of what has essentially become a people-herding industry of private companies, to whom a lot of services have been outsourced.
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Frank Field’s false crusade against ‘welfare dependency’

by David Semple     June 5, 2010 at 10:48 pm

You have to hand it to the Tories. Hiring Frank Field as ‘poverty tsar’ to do a seven month study with no implications for the ‘financial’ side of things (e.g. benefits) is a brilliant stroke.

Not only will they be able to parade in their non-partisan laurels when the report is delivered, but it’ll be tweedle-dum to Iain Duncan-Smith’s tweedle-dee.

Banging the education drum will be met with Tory plans to ‘individualise’ education provision by reintroducing credits for kids to go to private schools.
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Having a minimum price on alcohol is a crap idea

by David Semple     June 3, 2010 at 9:45 am

I’m glad to see the Conservative government is opposed to a minimum price law on alcohol. As I said last time this issue came up, I am opposed to such a law on the grounds that people should be allowed to drink to excess if they wish.

The issue has recently flared up because Tesco came out to support a minimum pricing system, and because NICE has subsequently also come out for a minimum price per unit of alcohol.

What few enough people noticed when Tesco came out for the law is that this view is self-interested; it will mean they no longer have to worry about cutting prices.
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In defence of the Union Modernisation Fund

by David Semple     March 22, 2010 at 4:30 pm

On the surface, the Telegraph reports of £18 million in state funds going to Unite, and its predecessors Amicus and TGWU, from the Labour government seem pretty damning. I was outraged; unions are not there to be funded by the State, and taking such funding compromises unions. Their bureaucracies could thence rely on State aid as insulation from having to fight for and fight to keep members’ dues.

There is also the question as to whether or not the unions like Unite have been feeding this money back into the Labour Party. If that could be proved to be the case, then it’s all the more reason to get rid of the current morons at the top of the Labour Party; first the scandal of private donations from millionaires, and cash for peerages, now this.

Lest people forget, if any of this were true, the government was not just using State money to stay in government through a funded political machine. They were using it to retain control of the Labour Party, which is a much greater offence, so far as I and many other socialists would be concerned.

Reality is not so simple, however. continue reading… »

Guns versus butter

by David Semple     March 16, 2010 at 4:39 pm

William Hague’s recent remarks in an FT interview, and in a speech to the Royal United Services Institute give us some idea of the purposes and shape of Conservative foreign policy, in the aftermath of a Tory election win. In short, it is exactly the same sort of interventionist twaddle spouted by New Labour, overlaid with the same veneer of humanitarian concern that Blair liked to bathe in.

All the recent talk about whether or not British troops have been given the equipment they need reflects a fundamental problem in British politics: all of the main parties accept Britain’s intervention in Afghanistan, and, to a lesser extent, Iraq. William Hague’s speech gives every indication that a Tory government will continue, and risk expanding, Britain’s military presence abroad.

Hague, unsurprisingly, also repeats the meme about Britain’s credit rating being a worry, citing the ‘recent’ Fitch warning about the loss of the triple-A rating. I say ‘recent’ because Fitch has been carping about this since last year, so a new press release about it is hardly serious news. What makes this interesting is that Hague is all about the deficit reduction…and yet continuously talks up “Britain’s role” abroad.

With what equipment, in this Tory-led deficit-free utopia? Spitballs and paper aeroplanes? continue reading… »

Why do we need to wish them well?

by David Semple     January 1, 2010 at 8:46 pm

One story I didn’t get a chance to add my tuppenceworth to, over the vacation, was the news that Iris Robinson MP is to step down from her parliamentary position as a result of, “an ongoing battle with severe depression” (BBC). Robinson is a DUP member, wife of the current leader of that party, and is probably most famous in British politics for her hateful remarks about homosexuality.

What interested me about this story was the outpouring of well-wishes from Iris Robinson’s colleagues at Stormont and Westminster. Danny Kennedy, David Ford, Shaun Woodward, Nigel Dodds and others have held forth on their wishes for a speedy recovery and/or admiration for Robinson as a “dedicated” parliamentarian. I’m curious as to how honest they are each being.

It is rather expected that, when someone from the opposition is ill or suffers a bereavement, you wish them well. But how many of these wishes are genuine? I certainly don’t wish Iris Robinson well; I’d happily see the entire DUP dropkicked into the Atlantic Ocean. Indeed were she gay, and not such a vigorous gay-basher, there’d probably be some obscure Free Presbyterian Minister claiming her ill-health was vengeance sent by God.
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The BA court order unfairly targets workers

by David Semple     December 17, 2009 at 6:54 pm

The High Court ruled today to stop the 12 day strike of BA workers from going ahead. The grounds for this decision were the irregularity of including in the ballot cabin crew members of the union who were set to leave BA anyway prior to the strike itself. However I think there are grounds for viewing the decision by Mrs Justice Laura Cox as a political one.

Firstly, the inclusion of the 800 workers who are leaving (the number provided by BA’s legal team) could not have altered the outcome of the ballot. Unite represents 12,500 staff. On an 80% turnout, with 92.5% voting to strike (figures from BBC), 9,250 workers voted to strike. Even if all 800 of those leaving voted and voted yes to the strike, it would still not have been enough to sway the outcome.

Secondly there are some of the remarks made by Justice Cox herself:

“A strike of this kind over the 12 days of Christmas is fundamentally more damaging to BA and the wider public than a strike taking place at almost any other time of the year,” (BBC)

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Supporting the striking BA workers

by David Semple     December 16, 2009 at 11:20 am

BA Cabin Crews have voted to go on strike over the Christmas period against the threat of reducing staffing levels through imposed redundancies and changes to staff contracts. 90% of the crews, on an 80% turnout, voted for the action.

There was some fantastic rhetoric flying about yesterday morning on Radio 4. BA Chief Executive Willie Walsh was reported to have said that the union shouldn’t bother going on strike, it should concentrate on helping the company reduce costs.

Of course the union might well have been in the mood to do that, but it wasn’t asked to help out. It was simply bypassed.

And now, though Walsh claims to be available for talks at any time, he has said that the central issue is not up for negotiation. So the union is absolutely correct to go on strike; this is not a case of simple costs it is now an attempt to de-recognize the whole union.
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You meant well Tony? Of course you did!

by David Semple     December 14, 2009 at 11:05 am

Anthony Seldon had an article in the Sindy lamenting how unfair everyone has been to Tony Blair. There’s just not enough sympathy in the world for megalomaniacal twits with a god complex and their finger (formerly) on one of the Big Red Buttons.

Some of what Seldon says is pure comedy gold, such as his comparison of Blair to Gladstone: “For them, moral conviction in foreign policy was core.” One wonders what difference it makes if your foreign policy is still resulting in the deaths of the same foreign people as that of your “immoral” Opposition.

He was dealing with someone who was an evil dictator and that was the right thing to do, in his mind, because what was at stake was world peace. In another sense he has been remarkably consistent and I think is tremendously frustrated at not having the opportunity to say that.

If there is one thing worth pointing out to Professor Seldon, it’s that Mr Blair is very good at re-writing history all by himself, without needing the help of his accomplices in the declaration of war, or the media.
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