AN effigy of the Prime Minister will be burned at the bonfire night and fireworks celebrations in RiponFunnily enough TB is off to see some friends in Ripon for the weekend, he will keep his eyes peeled for the guy. Blogging will be lightish, but will put some stuff up on the train. Toodle doo.next week.
The organisers, Ripon Gunpowder Plot, decided to make a giant Gordon Brown figure after consulting with sponsors and members of the public about whose face they would like to see on the Guy at the event, which takes place at Hell Wath on Friday, November 6.
Committee member John Richmond said: "Guy Fawkes did want to blow up the Houses of Parliament; it was a political plot, so we wanted to keep a political theme and with the economic situation as it is and an election coming up, Gordon Brown was the perfect choice."
Friday, 30 October 2009
TB can't help but recall a line Mr Macintyre once said to him:
"I think this is more serious than you think. You are young and see politics as a game so that is understandable. But it's not a game any more, so up to you. Now."
Former Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has accepted that she was "disgraced" by the scandal surrounding her expense claims.She went on to say;
Asked on BBC's Question Time, whether the expenses scandal had left her disgraced, Ms Smith said: "Yes, I have been, it’s obvious, and I made an apology to Parliament."
"I don’t think people who have been disgraced should go to the House of Lords, but more importantly we need to put the system right."before meekly suggesting that she didn't want to go into the Lords anyway, despite being almost guaranteed to lose her seat at the next election. A bit like muttering "shit party anyway" after a door-whore has made it perfectly clear that your name is very much not on the list and that you are very much not coming in. It was a shame nobody on the panel, or even Dimbleby himself, was quick enough to ask whether she supported the elevation of the disgraced Michael Martin to the Lords. A golden opportunity missed.
Jacqui should be going to prison not the upper chamber. While it is unlikely she will go down, she is most definitely nearly out of all our lives come May. John Sergeant hit the nail on the head with his priceless intervention:
"It is a puzzle to people, when you’re asked where your home was, and you were Home Secretary, and you didn’t seem to give the right answer", he said, provoking cheers from the audience.Just pay the money back and all this could go away.
He went on: "Was it a complicated question, that you therefore genuinely got wrong and took advice on? When someone says, ‘Where’s your home?’, I can answer that pretty quickly."
Thursday, 29 October 2009
When arch Labourite Wes Streeting is sucking up to the Tories you know they must be scared...
NUS WELCOMES CONSERVATIVES' BACKING FOR STUDENT VOICE IN FEES REVIEW
• Willetts warns universities are yet to properly account for £3,000 top-up fees
• Case not made to students and their families for even higher fees
• Shadow Universities Secretary says he would probably oppose higher fees if a vote took place today
Thursday 29 October 2009
The National Union of Students (NUS) today welcomed comments from Shadow Secretary of State for Universities, David Willetts MP, who this morning told an audience of student delegates at NUS’ Higher Education Zone Conference in Manchester that the student voice must be heard in the imminent review of fees.
David Willetts also said that if there was a vote on the fees cap today he would probably not support any increase, as universities had not properly accounted for £3,000 top-up fees or shown the benefits of higher fees to students and their families.
Wes Streeting, NUS President, said:
“I warmly welcome David Willetts' call for the student voice to be heard in the imminent fees review, and his consistent argument that the student experience must be at the heart of the ensuing debate on higher education funding.
“Students are now expected by those in power to contribute significantly to its costs. Therefore, we have a direct and unique interest in a review that will determine the future of fees."
The NUS has spent decades bashing the Tories so the fact that they are so blantently screaming for attention proves they have given up on Labour.
The times they are a'changin'.
Someone get the popcorn.
Wednesday, 28 October 2009
To those who moan at TB for swearing please go be illiberal somewhere else. There was much discussion during PMQs of whether Cameron mouthed fuck off to Gordon. Deservedly so, he could even have sealed that elusive and very much mythical deal if he had said what most of the nation wants to say to Gordon as soon as possible.
Well thanks to the technical wizardry of anonymous commenter Calais TB can bring you the video for you to decide:
What do you reckon?
Well that was more like it. No wonder the benches were left crying "more, more" after Cameron and Brown's duel. The Prime Minister was rattled from the outset and ended up repeating his condolences for fallen soldiers twice in an horrendous attempt to buy time before answering Cameron's question on the TA u-turn. He was reduced to buzzwords and begging Bercow "nooo no, noo Mr Speaker they were wrong." If that is all he can say then it is no surprise that even Mandelson appears to have given up on him.
Dave went in for the kill and Brown's new line that the Conservatives were wrong on recession and wrong on recovery was batted away by a simple list produced by Cameron of all those countries that are back in growth. It utterly destroyed Brown's line that Britain was leading the world out of recession. Nick Clegg also said something about climate change. Brown was flustered and cack-handed and looked exhausted. How long can he go on?
TB is trying to track down the footage now but there was some speculation that Dave might have mouthed something that every single hard working British citizen would like to say to Gordon's face...
Watch this space.
Perhaps they would have been
"What we want is a really good choice across the board, not just women. We want men as well so we can pick the best, literally the best for our area."TB couldn't agree more.
But hold on,
MPs will be banned from claiming the cost of mortgage interest payments on second homes under proposals being put forward, sources have told the BBC.So far so good, while the phasing in could perhaps be done slightly quicker, TB isn't complaining, yet. This better not however be an early splurge of the boldest parts of the report. While these changes are very welcome, it must not be forgotten that Parliament's problems go a lot deeper than family members and mortgages. The entire expenses culture needs up-rooting. The
It is understood the Kelly committee, which has been reviewing MPs' expenses, will recommend MPs will only be able to rent second homes in future.
The committee is also expected to recommend MPs will not be able to employ family members in the future.
It is understood the changes will be phased in over five years.
Lets hope he got to see one of those copies requested by the committee.
Tuesday, 27 October 2009
When his arm was twisted this morning Cameron said he would work with Blair if he absolutely had to, but was less than happy about the idea of President Blair. This is a cheap political shot by Brown. He knows he is down and out and knows it will be Cameron that would actually have to work with Blair, something Brown no doubt could not fathom ever happening again.
The timing of the announcement is equally cynical too. Nice distraction from Brown's massive u-turn on cutting the TA spending budget. It also shows just how little respect Brown, Blair and other Euro-extremists have for the process of the Lisbon Treaty. Lest it be forgotten that it has not yet been ratified and the Czechs might yet throw one massive spanner in the Blair machine by destroying the job he so desperately wants. TB has to smirk at what Gordon's blessing will do for the Blair campaign though.
Jonah doesn't exactly have a particularly good track record for endorsements.
In yet another sign that this government is descending into farce, the Home Office have written to the Leader of the Opposition to pick his brains about how best they can improve the service they provide:
TB is finding himself saying it a lot recently, but seriously, you couldn't make it up.
According to Tory "just call him scoop" Rascal, who has it on good authority from a senior, backbench Labour MP, Mandelson is back on the dark art crack. There is some gold in the Rascal's post and the whole this is definitely
"According to the MP, even some of the Prime Minister’s keenest supporters seem to be resigned to his having to stand aside. ”A few of us think there’s a good chance he’ll walk away, and now even some of his friends are nodding at the dissenters. It would break him, which would be a terrible shame – he feels that if he does walk away, his life to date will have been wasted. I’ve known Gordon for years, and I think it’s a shame it’s come to this – but the party has to get through.
The man’s an absolute gift to the other side. Tory MPs are shitting themselves about the idea that Gordon might not lead us into the election. Without him, Cameron knows we’re in with a fighting chance.”
Asked what had brought the PM to this point, the MP was adamant that the “beginning of the end” was Brown’s ill-received YouTube video on MPs’ expenses. “As soon as we saw that,” he said, “we knew Gordon was in trouble. What f**k-wit would look at that video and let it go online? Gordon is surrounded by sycophants who lack the guts to be honest to him when he needs it most.
Whatever people think about Tony, he was always willing to listen to criticism. No one dares to speak out to Gordon. They’re all too bloody frightened to just say, ‘Gordon, this is shit. You look like a maniac.’""
TB didn't get down to until Friday afternoon so was rather sore to miss Carswell and Pickles, but delegates were singing their praises. The Eric Forth Memorial Dinner, with speeches from Conor Burns, Jonathon Isaby and Michael Forsyth was a rousing reminder of those pinnacles of the movement, without whom the Conservative Party, and the umbrella group behind it, would be here today. Congratulations again to Emma Carr who won the Forth Memorial Award for activism.
TB was impressed at the commitment to the cause shown by the fact that there was an almost one hundred percent attendance for the 9am start on Saturday morning, despite some attendees having only found their beds a couple of hours before. The story of Smeargate from the horses mouth was clearly worth getting out of bed for. TB's favourite question came from one of the American delegation who at the end of the talk put up their hand to ask, "sorry, what is Smeargate?" Apparently the Derek Draper Downfall video wasn't quite clear enough. Joking apart it was wonderful to have ten or so American attendees from YBF's sister organisation The
Dr John Shosky is one of the most compelling speakers TB has ever seen. He was privileged enough to have extended training with this former Reagan speech write in DC this summer and it was a joy to hear him speak again this weekend. If you ever get a chance to meet him do not miss it. Hannan also fired up the crowd on Saturday lunchtime with a passionate attack on Europe, hitting all the right buttons with the crowd with his almost poetic, devastating deconstruction of the left's attacks on Kaminski. Was lovely to meet Mrs Hannan and have a good chat with the two of them over lunch. Peter Botting's speech and image training was a highlight of afternoon, having heard so many great speakers, some tips and advice on how to pull it off yourself was appreciated by the crowd. TB missed the ultrasound Douglas Murray as he had to sneak off to write his own speech. Dammit.
The Margaret Thatcher Banquet on Saturday night was always going to be tough crowd. TB had the pleasure of introducing Iain Dale and was mightily chuffed with the crowds reaction to his own speech. It was hilarious that those Gordon jokes were meant to be horrendous yet the booze soaked crowd didn't seem to care! TB had seen Mr Dale appear on various panels before but this was the first time he had heard him speaking. He has an impressive command of a crowd and an excellent ability to weave humour and serious points together in away that leaves you chuckling and then suddenly thinking, actually hold on, that's really scary. His line of TB being "the lovechild of Boris Johnson and Guido Fawkes" might have to go on the banner. And so inevitably another evening was spent in the bar and there were a lot more sore heads on Sunday than there had been on Saturday.
TB was a bit of a bear with a sore head himself on Sunday but the laughter induced by Russell Walter's fantastic speech on err direct action certainly livened things up. It was a fantastic weekend and as so many speakers said, nobody is doing what YBF is doing in this country and for this they have to be congratulated. Donal Blaney and Steven Dent, with the help of Mark Clarke and Matthew Richardson put together a fine selection of speakers and the organisation was like clockwork.
If you are young and interested in the political world and you haven't been to a
Annesley Abercorn 33 ELECTED
Ryan Shorthouse 29
Patrick Sullivan 36 ELECTED
Sam Parr 25
Craig Rimmer 33 ELECTED
Elle Perry 28
Havard Hughes 32 ELECTED
Suella Fernandes 28
Brian Cattell 34 ELECTED
Alexandra Jozeph 25
Ben Harris-Quinney 27
Liam Scott Smith 32 ELECTED
Richard MABEY was elected to the position of Social Secretary unopposed.
Mark NICHOLSON was elected to the position of Research Secretary unopposed.
(The first five were backing Annesley Abercorn; the last six backed
Peter Cuthbertson 26 ELECTED
Matt Eaton 26 ELECTED
Adam Soffe 26 ELECTED
Daniel Valentine 20
Robert Westbrook 22
Maria Allen 34 ELECTED
Sam Coates 35 ELECTED
Catherine Crook 21
Georgina Dowling 24
Fabian Richter 27 ELECTED
Zehra Zaidi 12
Congratulations and best of luck to all those who were elected.
"Our party is the natural home for students. We are the only party to oppose tuition fees, we are the leading campaigners on the environment and civil liberties and we are calling for the investment that will make it easier for all young people, students or otherwise, to get a job.
"It is clear from the record number of people we have signed up this year that there is a growing momentum behind the Lib Dems locally and an excitement about the coming election."
However all is not as it seems. Eagle-eyed
Offering free membership at Freshers’ Fayre radically increased the number of people who joined the society by a factor of ten.
Previous years have seen roughly 10 members overall.
Essentially membership is given away for free in order to get people to sign up and appear to be really joining. As
"If this is the only way the Lib Dems can get members, I really feel sorry for them. Labour and Tories on campus regularly get 60+ and 70+ members respectively signing up at freshers fair annually and paying a membership fee. You have to wonder how committed their members will be if they weren’t prepared to pay a couple of quid to sign up."
Kirk has said; "It certainly wasn’t bribery" but it is hard to see how this can possibly be true. It's almost a textbook example of it. Free membership to a political party, paid for by other party members, all you have to do is put your mark upon a sheet. It's not just bribery, but lies and spin of the lowest kind.
TB wonders what else Ms Kirk has lied about?
While Kirk has attempted to cover up the issue by denying her own money was used, others have not kept stuck quite so closely to the line. As Campbell reports:
"Councillor Tom Holvey, who was on the Lib Dem stall at Freshers’ Fayre, said however that it would help boost York’s profile nationally with the Lib Dems. “It will definitely give York more kudos”, he said.
The money used came from individual donations from the local party, including councillors and local members. The total amount pledged would have covered the cost of 150 members of the party. Even though Kirk herself did not pledge money, she was aware of the deal and fully supported the donations. All the money pledged has been paid, with the excess “going into the kitty in case we wanted to do something like this again.”
The agreement to donate the money was reached between Craig Martin, Lib Dem chair at the university, and a number of local councillors last summer over an end-of-term BBQ.
Martin calls the money ‘sponsorship’, saying “we have never had enough members. I was always having to treble numbers when telling people how many we had, just to make us look like a worthwhile party. We decided to try this.”
“It is the best thing in the world for me to come into a society that was about to die and completely turn it around.”
It looks like Craig Martin is destined for a fast-track career within the Lib Dems with moral scruples such as those. First he admits to hoovering up dodgy money, then lying in the past about membership and then blowing his own trumpet. Cowley Street must be so proud.
The whole thing is a complete and utter PR disaster, Kirk has been sorely humiliated being seen to attempt to buy a campaign team. The arrogance of putting out a release singing the praises of the recruitment drive, a sentiment also adopted by the national Liberal Youth organisation, beggars belief.
If further proof of the fact Liberal Democrats are liars was ever needed, let this be yet another example.
Monday, 26 October 2009
The nation’s sleeping arrangements are to come under scrutiny in the next countrywide census, it has emerged.
The 2011 survey will include questions on the number of bedrooms in a person’s home, as well as the name, sex and birth-date of any overnight visitors.
Nick Hurd, the Shadow Cabinet Office Minister, yesterday called it a “snooper” census, hitting out at “invasive and intrusive” new demands."
“Just because the Government has the legal powers to ask these questions does not give the State the licence to ask anything they want.
“These bedroom snoopers are yet another sign of how the Labour Government has no respect for the privacy of law-abiding citizens.”
Good on Hurd, but TB doesn't think he has gone far enough in slamming this obscene invasion of privacy. What the hell is going on? Since when was in within the mandate of the state to know what we get up to behind closed doors? Who comes and goes through TB's home is strictly the business of him and his guests, there's not a hope in hell of him volunteering this information.
Now don't get TB wrong, he knows how useful census data can be in tracing long lost connections and has no problem volunteering his name and address for this, and only this purpose, however a line has very very much been crossed here. For a government to feel it is necessary to track relationships between it's citizens is mind boggling, what possible use could this data be?
Are they building a National Spare Room Database, as Ollie in the Thick of It once suggests for a bit of policy on the hoof? Perhaps it's a database of prolific shaggers, the National Fornication Files? Or is it something more sinister than that? TB will be putting a line through this section of the census if it is passed by MPs and suggests that you all do so also.
They can't fine us all.
TB was most amused when he read on his blackberry yesterday about the PM's podcast about fighting the economic depression. He was fairly certain that if he had been at a computer he would have been able to find something amusing there. As the Telegraph
It is with great sadness that TB has to announce that this will be Hermione's last posting from the heart of darkness. The powers that be eh...
Anyway, last weekend all of us in the anti-federalist camp were rather deflated by reports that suggested Klaus would be signing the Lisbon Treaty within a fortnight or so. It all seemed so bleakly final. Little wonder, then, that any rumours that it was not so (and there were many) were flying around throughout the corridors and lifts like something out of Harry Potter. Could Cameron really be in extended talks with those in Prague Palace? Could that shiny red retro phone sitting on Hannan's desk really be a hotline to the man himself? Could the 'train that has gone too far' really be stopped and put into reverse? Time only will tell. Call me the eternal optimist, but I'm holding on to the betting slip I bought in Dan's latest sweepstake (honestly, that boy should have been a bookie), that says he'll not ratify before the election... That may well prove be two euros badly spent, mind...
Events in the Hemicycle are always talked up as being utterly gripping when the reality is often somewhat different (albeit that the voting is astonishing in it's sheer pace pace). But this week those flowery epithets were well deserved when the left tried to force through a declaration denouncing the Italian Press as corrupt. As it happened, I dined on Wednesday night at a charming Indian restaurant with a few Italian friends who were understandably livid. We had to cool them down by feeding them raita (which they'd never heard of. Apparently they don't really 'do' Indian food in Italy). I sadly missed the event itself but it seems to have been nail biting stuff. First came the detailed votes which the left kept winning, often by a majority of only 10 – 20 or so. By the time they drew to an end those on the left were unable to contain their glee, verily bouncing around in their seats, clapping and cheering. How uncouth. However, the groups had gone for, as one chap later put it to me, 'nuclear options' – all or nothing votes. Five lefty liberal groups = five more votes. Not everyone in the Hemicycle appeared to know this; some on the right disappeared at that point thinking the voting over. Nonetheless, curiously, one by one these nuclear options were defeated, albeit with slim majorities. One, two, three, four, all fell by ever decreasing majorities, until only the ALDE challenge remained. Ukip accidentally abstained. Others had not voted. The count came in. 338 / 338 – the motion fell, the 'No's had it, and the right was victorious. Later that evening, I introduced the Italians to the delights of Indian food, and we celebrated with poppadums and beer.
Sadly, as I draw to the end of this blog post, I must step out from behind the laptop, shake off the mantle of Hermione, and speak as myself. This week has been rather dramatic for many reasons – Lisbon, Italians... and on a more personal note, this blog. It has come to my attention that friends of mine have been warned to distance themselves from me for fear of 'being tainted'. I am always happy to take full responsibility for my own actions, but I draw the line at asking others to shoulder a burden of responsibility that is not their own.
When I first came to Brussels I knew almost nothing about the European Institutions. I had a vague notion that a Parliament existed, but I couldn't tell you how many MEPs represented the South East (my region), let alone name any of them. To me, Europe was 'that issue that the Tories used to argue over, but has been largelyresolved by now'. So, although this blog, when pitched to me, was intended as a sort of 'gossip from the front line' of the European Parliament, I have in fact been attempting to use it to make the European Parliament just that little bit more accessible. By bringing a bit of light banter to proceedings, I'd hoped to turn names and pictures on a website into personalities, with all their quirks and foibles. Unfortunately, that is not the spirit in which some people in the Parliament have read this blog, and so for that reason, and with great regret, I must draw it to a close. But I have enjoyed writing it, and so I shall return to my hitherto rather neglected own blog (I do hope Tory Bear won't grudge me a quick mention!)
A bientôt! (Did you hear that accent? My dishy tutor Phillippe would be so proud!)
If anyone fancies buying Tory Bear a present then how about the wireless Blackberry
Or maybe something he'd use once or twice and get bored off like most other gadgets. Either way it is exciting that the technology is improving.
One day his battery will last forever, one day.
Sunday, 25 October 2009
In a submission to the Czech Constitutional Court, which will decide tomorrow whether the treaty is compatible with the country’s constitution, Mr Klaus has suggested that it should be subject to a referendum.
The President, who is the only head of state yet to sign the treaty, attacked the EU notion of “shared sovereignty” as a contradiction that effectively means a loss of national control.
President Klaus made his written statement in support of a case against the treaty brought by 17 Czech senators, who have asked judges to rule that the agreement is unconstitutional because it transfers powers to Brussels. He also asked for a ruling on whether the treaty changed the terms of the Czech Republic’s accession to the EU in 2004 so significantly that a new referendum should be ordered.
The next beers are on the UK if he can.
Come on Czechs - do the right thing.
It is brilliant.
Saturday, 24 October 2009
Having a great time at Wellington College with the YBFers, follow TB's tweets here, or on the right hand side. Michael Forsyth's speech last night was excellent and congratulations to Emma Carr, this year's winner of the Eric Forth Award for Activism. Emma has done a wonderful job in the North East region and was quite the media darling of conference. Definitely one to keep an eye on.
Off to listen to Hannan, blogging will be light but follow TB's tweets
"You know, power is an interesting thing. I used to think political power was going to a political dinner. And then I thought political power was helping to put on a political dinner. And then I thought it was being invited to stay at the candidate's hotel in convention city. And then I used to stand in the hall outside of Sam Rayburn's suite at the political convention, and I thought that was something. And then I got to go into the living room of the candidate's suite, and I thought that was something. And then I found out there that all the decisions were made in the back in the bedroom. And finally, I was invited in the bedroom with the last eight or ten fellas, and then I knew I was on the inside -until I finally learned that they stepped into the john. In the end, just me and Jimmy Carter and Hamilton Jordan made the final decision in the john."
1972-1977 - Democratic National Committee Chairman,
1980 - Chairman of Jimmy Carter's Re-election Campaign