How much more money do we throw to the bankers and financiers. Do they run the earth? Is the appetite for more insatiable? How many more troops do we throw at Afghanistan, a conflict which never looked winnable and now has an insatiable appetite for lives. How many more young British soldiers will be fed to the so-called Taliban?
A senior British officer spoke out for Harry Patch, the last survivor of the trenches, who said that wars were a very bad way of solving issues. Harry never mentioned the war until past his 100th birthday because he regarded them as unspeakable. The British officer knows better, however, and assured us that Harry would have approved this one. Harry was in no position to reply as he was given the official funeral which he would very likely have deplored.
The main purpose of the Observer lead on Mandelson was to report on him going to war with those opposed to Post Office privatisation. Backed by Brown, to whom “he’s joined at the hip” he’s saying that there is no alternative unless we want to lose a six day delivery and workers’ pensions are at risk. Bail out the (w)ankers but not the workers. Good Socialism Pete mate.
At the end of the article is a bit about how Mandy is issuing a statement to coincide with Harriet Harman’s women’s conference to the effect that equal pay has to be shelved in the light of the economic crisis.
Silently lurking in the depths of the Atlantic, silently they stalk. Are they looking for Osama here? Two atomic subs laden with small arms (enough nuclear arsenal for over 1,000 Hiroshimas), one French, one British, collide.
All this going on is supposed to be top secret, but when incidents like this happen then we get to know about how we are being kept safe. Safe from what. Dunno how these arms could be triggered but suppose there had been an explosion, what exactly could have been the consequences? Would Britain have been detached from its anchorage offshore Europe and transported to become another American state?
Lord Mandelson. First he says he won’t privatise the Post Office but yesterday in the House of Lords he said things can’t go on as they are. It will be split. Oh yes, sounds familiar. The promised cherry picking will take place so that some slick marketing organisations will end up with the cream while we, the tax payer, are left with the unprofitable parts. New Labour has been there and done it. As a Tory in the Commons was left to say “welcome to the Thatcherite wing of New Labour”. Wing? The whole enterprise of which Mandelson was an author is more Thatcherite than Thatcher ever was, Tony a better son than Mark could ever be.
Evidently Peter Mandelson consulted Tony Blair before accepting Gordon Brown’s exceptionally kind offer to return to Government. What a surprise. It’s pretty clear Gordo’s going nowhere without the patronage of the former PM. Just as with Mandelson the very idea that Blair or New Labour were vanishing has just been a mirage, or for some of us who fought for Labour to come to power a forlorn hope.
The comment by Mandelson that “he is joined at the hip with Brown” is a trifle ambiguous when you think about it. Perhaps he means they are jolly good mates and any rift between him and Gordo, TB and Gordo is past. It could mean on the other hand “I’m standing right beside him holding a knife to his back and he better understand that”. Like the New Labour modernisation intrigue it’s very much there fighting a rearguard action. The question for us is do we want more of this, or would we be better off with the real Tories driven into obscurity when a better Thatcherite appeared on the scene.
The first real test arrives today as shares plunge wildly across Europe. The friendly togetherness portrayed as a select few European governments, including Brown for Britain, met to decide collectively what to do. Now Chancellor Merkel, part of the group to have met, has announced unilaterally that Germany will guarantee bank deposits, as have Ireland, Greece and Denmark. Precisely what Gordo and Mandy didn’t want to happen and didn’t apparently expect. Now what can be done? As Mandy perceptibly observed (ie pretty bloody obvious) that this could lead to economic nationalism. Merkel had previously announced she was against doing just that. Well if Gordo’ found someone he can blame when things get out of hand I suppose he’s the one who will triumph???
The guy sitting opposite in the London bound Chiltern service was annoying. He sat in the aisle seat working on his lap top with an air of self-importance. His computer case rested on the seat beside him and he remained oblivious to the rapidly filling carriage. Enter Jackie a young woman in a cap reminscent of Jimmy Crankie. Her imperious voice requested that the computer case be moved. My neighbour hastily complied putting the case on the rack and moving seats for Jackie to sit down. He continued to work, but Jackie had other ideas. She knew all about computers and began to interrogate our friend. What do you do she enquired. “I’m a management consultant” he answered grandly adding that it was highly technical. “Sound boring” came the response from Jackie. The management consultant shut his computer and attended to Jackie. The rest of the compartment meanwhile were trying to keep a straight face. Jackie was an avid video viewer so she wanted to know if Andrew – we now knew his life story – had seen her favourites. At Banbury Jackie was called by her mother, who had taken a seat some way from Jackie. Her mother enquired whether Jackie had been annoying anyone and said that she had told her not to speak to strangers. By this time everyone was rolling in the aisles. Andrew assured her that everything was find, except he had learned that he had a boring job. By this time he too had entered the spirit of the merriment. I’m wondering though if he will continue to take up more than his alloted space.
There’s always someone around to pontificate and tell us what we all ought to be doing expressing our deep and undying gratitude for being British. Now some idiot has come up with an oath of allegiance. To the Queen? Nah, that would upset those with Republican sensibilities.
Of course those at the top are blameless. They’re in a position to dictate what’s good for us (them) and (sometimes) able to keep their exploits under wraps. That can go wrong big time of course as the Mayor of New York has found to his cost.
“They were defeated, not by the terrorists, but by the lack of basic equipment” – that was the coroner’s verdict after the death of a British soldier in Afghanistan. Andrew Walker – who has some form on criticising governments, especially the Americans – spoke out at the end of the inquest into the death of Captain James Philippson, who was killed in a fire fight in which British forces were heavily out-gunned by the Taliban. The inquest was told that before the battle, soldiers had repeatedly complained about a lack of proper equipment. We will be speaking to a defence minister.
Thus spake Snowmail in advance of Channel 4 News on 15th February. They went ahead and spoke to a defence minister , who was, well er.. defenceless. “But we are putting more into supporting our troops”…”the supplies were there but someone forgot to give them to the troops.” You could cry.
Never mind that the troops should never ne in Afghanistan or Iraq in the first place, but when you place them there the least you can do is to ensure the maximum personal protection.
This week protesters visited Downing Street to remind Mr Brown that more was expected of him than he’s delivering. With Tony Blair out of the way it was thought that there was an end in site. Something appeared to begin to shift in Iraq, but it’s gone dead quiet now (well not for the poor, long suffering Iraqis). Afghanistan? It’s the Taliban. Condi came hotfoot to ensure there’s no stalling in the “war on terror”.
I still can’t bring myself to see how bad it is. New Labour. Now even Polly Toynbee has given them up. I remember talking to her at the introduction of the NHS reforms when Frank Dobson announced the demolition of the “Berlin Wall” between the NHS and local government social care. I raised some mild concern then about what was happening and was sharply dismissed as an unbeliever in the face of the Blairite agenda. Now she announces ” a shipwreck” and the “death of social democracy” in the hands of Brown and Darling.
Privatisation is showing itself clearly as the creator of a crisis in key public service. The deaths of 90 patients at the hands of the Maidstone & District NHS Trust has happened while the board had their eyes on the problem they had paying off their PFI debts. This is a result of New Labour, not Tory policy. Now Blair has gone to create havoc elsewhere it is clear that there is an endless queue of replacements who not only shun socialism but don’t even support a pale shadow in the pretense of social democracy.
The extraordinary situation, where private companies have become an integral part of the war effort, continues as Blackwater provides security for convoys supplying forces in Baghdad. At one time privatisation of what was considered the business of the state was unthinkable, but the U.S. has driven not only coach and horses, but a whole army through the dearly held principle. Margaret Thatcher found herself unable to move in this direction and it wasn’t until New Labour moved in with Blair and friends that we find schools, health, prisons swept into the privatiastion pot. Gordon’s recent flirtation with Maggie was no empty gesture.