King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia: Mourning a monster.

January 26, 2015

King_Abdullah_bin_Abdul_al-Saud_January_2007

The planes carrying World leaders home from the unity march in Paris in support of free expression last week, barely had the chance to touch the tarmac before those same World leaders began queuing to offer their heartfelt sympathy and condolences to a man who ruled a country in which criticism of the King is illegal, and who spent his final days overseeing the hideous flogging of Raif Badawi for exercising his right to free expression.

On the death of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia, The British Prime Minister, David Cameron (so overcome with grief was he, that he flew especially to Saudi Arabia), said:

“He will be remembered for his long years of service to the Kingdom, for his commitment to peace and for strengthening understanding between faiths.”

– Smilarly, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby praised Abdullah for his commitment to interfaith relations. This same – laughable, if it wasn’t so horribly tarred with the blood of many innocent people – sentiment was also echoed by former Prime Minister Tony Blair, who said:

“I am very sad indeed to hear of the passing of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah.
I am very sad indeed to hear of the passing of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah.“I knew him well and admired him greatly. Despite the turmoil of events in the region around him, he remained a stable and sound ally, was a patient and skilful moderniser of his country leading it step by step into the future. He was a staunch advocate of inter faith relations.”

– President Obama added to this feeling of great anguish and woe, insisting that he:

“….valued King Abdullah’s perspective and appreciated our genuine and warm friendship.”

At first I thought I was reading condolences for someone else, perhaps someone with a record of human rights victories championing the plight of the most oppressed in society, but no, it is definitely King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia they are talking about. A man they are convinced was a wonderful ‘moderniser’ for intervening in one or two court cases that would otherwise have highlighted his regime as one of the most brutal in history (call it a PR stunt, given that he’s never indicated a preference for human rights instead of religious supremacy). Indeed, Saudi Arabia is a country that scored the lowest marks from Freedom House rankings in 2014 of civil freedoms. A country that, despite the Prime Minister’s comment that the dead King will long be remembered for his ‘commitment to peace‘ is about to continue its flogging of blogger Raif Badawi for blasphemy (having an opinion that differed from the ruling elite in Saudi), and on average beheads around 80 people a year.

It is simply madness that any human being should lose their life, due to the religious beliefs of someone else. Talking to BBC News back in 2003, Muhammad Saad al-Beshi – a Saudi executioner – worryingly said:

“It doesn’t matter to me: two, four, 10 – as long as I’m doing God’s will, it doesn’t matter how many people I execute”.

– The power structure of Saudi Arabia & those it privileges relies heavily on convincing otherwise decent human beings, that brutally murdering other human beings, is part of a plan designed by an invisible being. It is simply a horror story. We as humans are permitted such a brief time on this Earth as it is, it is so sad that others believe they have the express right to decide whether we live or die, according to religious beliefs. It seems to me that if you are going to claim ownership over the life of someone else, you must first offer irrefutable proof for the existence of your God, and then the rest of us must freely accept that we are to be ruled according to His principles. Otherwise, you are simply a murderer.

The Prime Minister’s insistence that King Abdullah would be remembered for ‘strengthening understanding between faiths‘ and Blair’s insistence that Abdullah was ‘a staunch advocate of inter faith relations‘, along with Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby’s defense of the flags lowering to half mast, is entirely negated by the fact that Abdullah’s Theocratic Monarchy expressively forbade public practice of any religion but Islam, insists that children born to Muslim parents must be considered Muslim themselves, and has a legal system – for non-Muslims as well as Muslims – based entirely on Islam. From the moment you are born, until the moment you die in Saudi Arabia, you are a possession of the religion of state. You have no liberty. You are owned by one royal family, and their religious beliefs. You must not utter words they disapprove of, nor live according to your own beliefs. You are chained. If you happen to be gay, female, or you simply don’t believe in the faith that the state insists that you must, your life is not yours, your beliefs are not yours, and you are banned from falling in love with someone that the religion of someone else disapproves of. If you attempt to break free from such a hideously oppressive cage, you are likely to be flogged or beheaded. This was a system upheld and perpetuated by King Abdullah. Indeed, here are a few more examples of the innocent victims of the idea that human rights and civil liberty matters little, when it clashes with preserving religious privilege and supremacy.

Amina bint Abdel Halim Nassar was beheaded by the Saudi state in 2011 for:

“…the practice of witchcraft and sorcery.”

– In the 21st century, a life, filled with memories, loves, passions, childhood friends, family…. so violently cut short for the ridiculous offence of ‘sorcery‘. There was no outpouring of grief from massively disingenuous political elite of Western nations, for her.

Also in 2011, 45 year old Mansor Almaribe – an Australian man with back problems – was sentenced to 500 lashes on the back, for blasphemy. His crime? Praying with fellow Shi’ites in a country run by Sunni extremists. After intervention from the Australian government, the great Saudi ‘reformer’ managed to get the sentence down from 500 lashes, to 75 lashes and a year in jail.

In 2005, Muhammad Al-Harbi was sentenced to 750 lashes for teaching children about other religions. For daring to teach children to think for themselves, that they are entitled to believe something other than what the state demands, the state violently tortured Al-Harbi and threw him in prison.

In 2014, Loujain al-Hathloul, and Maysa al-Amoudi were leading a campaign to allow women to drive in Saudi Arabia when authorities arrested them on ‘terror’ charges. In fact, terror charges are a new weapon of the religious supremacists in Saudi Arabia. So dedicated to ‘progress’ was the late Royal thug, that in 2014 a royal decree includes violent punishment for:

“… calling for atheist thought in any form, or calling into question the fundamentals of the Islamic religion on which this country is based”

– Atheism is now classed as terrorism in Saudi Arabia. The leader of the family that believes it has the inherent right to chain every last citizen – and their short lives, with much promise and hope – to their sociopathic dictates based solely on their personal religious beliefs, is the same leader that both Blair & Welby insist did so much for inter-faith relations. Further reducing the comments of Western leaders to at best an insincere round of grovelling, is the knowledge that whilst they insist Abdullah did much for inter-faith relations, in Saudi Arabia all faiths other than the one he personally believed in are largely prohibited, and questioning the fundamentals of – a very insecure – faith, apparently gives the King the right to violently harm other human beings. Saudi Arabia’s Monarchy is not content with owning your sex life, you love life, your words, it also requires you submit your own mind to their religious cage.

In 2007, the General Court of Qatif sentenced a woman to 90 lashes, for “illegal mingling” with a man who – with his friends – then raped her. She had the courage to speak out about the attack, and so the court more than doubled her sentence to 200 lashes, for, and I quote:

“….her attempt to aggravate and influence the judiciary through the media.”

Similarly, In 2009, a 23 year old Saudi woman was hideously raped by a gang of rapists. She was then arrested and sentenced – yes, she was sentenced – to a year in prison and 100 lashes by more men, more abusers, for ‘committing adultery‘ and seeking an abortion. The White House issued no statement over this, instead, they sent their condolences upon the death of the King of a land that seeks to further harm victims of rape. The perpetuation of a religious settlement that is misogynistic by its very nature, requires the complete oppression of women for its survival.

As with misogyny, homophobia is never too far behind when it comes to religious power structures. The ironically named ‘Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice‘ sentenced a man to 450 lashes for Tweeting in the hope of meeting other gay men a couple of years ago. He was also sentenced to 10 years in prison. In 2007, two men were sentenced to 7000 lashes each, for being homosexual. We cannot imagine the fear that gay men and women must face every day in Saudi Arabia. Sexuality discrimination in Saudi Arabia is not surprising, given the utterly repulsive nature of just what Saudi Arabia teaches children about sexuality. One simple paragraph from the Saudi Ministry of Education Textbooks for Islamic Studies: 2007-2008 offers a prime example of just why politically religious folk should never be allowed power over the apparatus of a State, nor over the lives of its inhabitants especially its children, in an enlightened World. The barbaric nature of their law:

“Homosexuality is one of the most disgusting sins and greatest crimes…. It is a vile perversion that goes against sound nature, and is one of the most corrupting and hideous sins…. The punishment for homosexuality is death. Both the active and passive participants are to be killed whether or not they have previously had sexual intercourse in the context of a legal marriage…. Some of the companions of the Prophet stated that [the perpetrator] is to be burned with fire. It has also been said that he should be stoned, or thrown from a high place.”

– Last week, Downing Street, The White House, and other World leaders abandoned the lives of so many who have suffered, continue to suffer as you read this, and will suffer at the hands of religious thugs in Saudi Arabia in the future, and instead those leaders chose to send heartfelt condolences upon the death of the victims’ chief abuser; a misogynistic, homophobic, violent, abusive, religious supremacist who terrorised so many, and who worked hard to ensure civil liberties and human rights never got a foot in the door of Saudi Arabia. His reign should be viewed as a warning of the kind of hideous human rights abuses – that begin with the psychological abuse of children via religious indoctrination – that inevitably occurs when the religious are permitted power. The World should not mourn the death of such a monster.

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The Frackers of Downing Street.

January 17, 2014

There are very few more pressing issues on the planet right now than climate change, and sustainable energy. For that reason alone, throwing dangerous chemicals down a well and splitting rocks to extract gas, leading to complaints of contaminated water supplies in Texas, and earthquakes in Blackpool, was always going to be a controversial topic. Without getting into the pros and cons of the industry and the practice, I thought I’d focus on the names and faces attached to fracking in the UK, who seem to be extraordinarily close to a government that is now suddenly fully embracing fracking.

Lord Browne is the Managing Director of Riverstone – a private equity firm that backs Cuadrilla Resources (of which Lord Browne in the Chairman). Cuadrilla is a Shale Gas operator that was found to be the likely cause of two minor earthquakes in 2011 through its drilling in Lancashire. Lord Browne is lead non-executive director – a Coalition advisor – at the Cabinet Office and a crossbench member of the House of Lords.

Also at Riverstone was Ben Moxham. Moxham was a vice President at Riverstone – the equity firm that backs a company responsible for a small earthquake – until 2011. Moxham was then a lead advisor for the Coalition on climate change issues, and a senior policy advisor for energy issues, to the Prime Minister. Moxham, like Lord Browne, was also at BP for a time.

The Senior Independent Director of of BG Group PLC is Baroness Hogg. BG Group is a British oil and gas company with interests across the planet, including shale gas in the US, where it claimed to be wishing to produce 80,000 barrels a day by 2015, growing up 190,000 barrels a day by 2020 through its shale production. Baroness Hogg was appointed Lead Non-Executive Board Member to the Treasury.

Sam Laidlaw is the CEO of Centrica. He was also Lead non-executive director on the board of the Department for Transport, and a member of the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Group . Also at Centrica for a time, was Tara Singh. In May 2013, Number 10 announced that Ms Singh would be the Prime Minister’s personal advisor on energy and climate change. This is the same Tara Singh whose previous role was Public Affairs Manager at Centrica – owner of British Gas. A few weeks after Singh was appointed to a government advisory role, Centrica – her former employer – bought a stake in Lord Browne’s Cuadrilla for its shale gas production. Singh has also worked for PR firm Hill & Knowlton, a firm that represents the Norwegian energy giant Statoil, a company with investment in fracking in North America.

Lord Green, the Minister of State for Trade and Investment, was also non-executive director of chemical giant BASF. BASF supply gas-based chemicals for the fracking industry.

The Windsor Energy Group in March 2013 discussed, according to its own documents:

“…the energy revolution from shale gas and tight oil and other game-changers so far looking east, west and south…”

– This excitement was echoed by the Chairman of the Windsor Energy Group – Lord Howell – who told Parliament that the former colonies were ripe for picking:

“…wake up and realise where our future and our destiny lie…the new range of Commonwealth countries coming into the prosperity league either side of Africa, as they find through the shale gas revolution that they have fantastic raw energy resources and prospects.”

– Lord Howell – the Chairman of the W.E.G – also happens to be the father-in-law of Chancellor George Osborne. The Windsor Energy Group takes time on its website to thank Shell and BP for its support. It is unsurprising that two of the biggest players in the oil industry might choose to be close friends with an organisation whose chairman is the father-in-law of the Chancellor. Lord Howell was also former energy advisor to William Hague.

Lord Howell – the Chairman of the W.E.G and father-in-law of the Chancellor – is also the President of the British Institute of Energy Economics. The BIEE is sponsored by Shell and BP. In 2013, Howell was appointed President of the Energy Industries Council.

It comes as no surprise then, that in July 2013, Howell’s son-in-law Chancellor George Osborne announced a massive tax break for the fracking industry, setting the rate at 30% for onshore shale gas production, as opposed to 62% for new production of North Sea Oil. Echoing the wording by his father-in-law, and the Windsor Energy Group that his father-in-law Chairs, Osborne referred to fracking as a revolution:

“This new tax regime, which I want to make the most generous for shale in the world, will contribute to that. I want Britain to be a leader of the shale gas revolution”

– But it isn’t just Osborne. Vince Cable, whose Party spent the best part of the last decade insisting it was the party of green energy, took to TV news to defend the tax breaks. The fact that Cable here suggests that fracking would have to be heavily regulated and watched, must raise eyebrows as to its potential dangers. It is worth noting that Vince Cable was the former Chief Economist at Shell (supporters of the W.E.G, and financial backers of the BIEE, both run by George Osborne’s father-in-law) and that Malcolm Brinded – the former Chief Executive of Shell Upstream International – referred to Cable in a letter to the Secretary of State as the “Contact Minister for Shell”. Here:

shell
– Shell is positioning itself to be a major player in the UK Fracking industry. It’s also worth noting that William Hague worked for Shell UK before entering Parliament.

The tax breaks must have felt like a wonderful victory, not just for Shell and Osborne’s father-in-law, but for everyone’s favourite soulless lobbyist Lynton Crosby. The Prime Minister’s election advisor and strategist founded the lobbying firm Crosby Textor, which lobbies on behalf of The Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association, and fracking is one of its main objectives. One of the members of The Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association is Dart Energy, whose UK subsidiary holds a fracking licence in the UK.

So to summarise, Lord Browne from Cuadrilla is a coalition advisor, and Tara Singh from Centrica who own a stake in Cuadrilla is a coalition advisor, and Sam Laidlaw – the CEO of Centrica – was a coalition advisor. Baroness Hogg – a lead non-exec. board member to the Treasure – is Senior Independent Director at a company with huge interests in fracking in the US Ben Moxham – an advisor to the Prime Minister on climate change and energy – was at an equity firm that backed Lord Browne’s Cuadrilla. Lynton Crosby whose firm lobbies on behalf of the fracking industry is a key strategist to the Conservative Party. George Osborne’s father-in-law is the President of a group financially backed by BP & Chairs another organisation supported by Shell among others that pushes for the fracking industry at the same time that his son-in-law announces incredibly generous tax rates for the fracking industry. And the Business Secretary is referred to as the “Contact Minister for Shell” by a former Shell CEO. It is an incredible state of affairs.

Those who are in a position to be making a very large amount of money from fracking, also appear to be at the centre of a government that will make the key decisions on the future of the industry including its regulations and safety procedures. By contrast, there don’t appear to be any members of local communities close to proposed fracking sites, at the centre of government. For a Tory Party needing to shed its image as the Party of big business, this isn’t helping. The fracking industry hasn’t even taken off in the UK to any great extent, and yet it would appear its representatives are well placed right at the very heart of government.


Trolling Racist Van.

July 29, 2013

Stewart Lee once said that if ‘political correctness’ had achieved one thing, it had forced the Conservative Party to cloak their inherent racism behind more creative language. This July confirmed that Lee may be onto something. The Tories have evolved from this catchy little 1964 Tory campaign leaflet distributed in Birmingham at the time:

toryrace1964conservativerascismmigrant

To their new, far more subtle campaign, featuring more creative, yet similarly dirty language and imagery:

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The campaign has drawn condemnation from all sections of the political spectrum. From Lib Dem coalition partners like Business Secretary Vince Cable, who called the vans “Stupid and offensive”, to, amazingly, far right, anti-immigration Nigel Farage who quite rightly noted:

“The danger is that the kind of message that is being sent from these billboards will be taken not just by illegal immigrants but also by many people of settled ethnic minorities as being some sort of sign of open warfare.”

Even leader of Redbridge Council, Conservative Keith Prince was unhappy with his horrendous colleagues at the Home Office:

“If we had been consulted, we would have warned strongly that, whatever effect this campaign might be intended to have on people who are in the country unlawfully, that message is far outweighed by the negative message to the great majority of people, from all backgrounds, who live and work together in Redbridge, peacefully, productively and lawfully.”

One cannot help but wonder if Lynton Crosby has recently invested in the van industry.

It was of course, only a matter of time before this wretched little campaign fell victim to both Photoshop, and prank calls. And rightfully so. So here are a few of my favourite racist van trolls:

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ferge

BQWLs8BCIAECZBE

BQVVxMOCIAICRxo

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sketch

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BQLpCXrCEAATCb4

Racist van 8

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As with all failing Tory campaigns, this particular nasty campaign complete with a thinly veiled, menacing threat – naturally used to pass through poorer, multi-ethnic areas of London – is already being touted as a success by the Home Office, without actually producing evidence to confirm. Child-like, EDL-style fear tactics, with NF procured phrases like ‘go home’, designed to spark up community mistrust, suspicion and division, rather than measured and humane approaches, to, well, anything, seems to be the basis by which all Tory policies are formulated.


The curse of the Tory Donors

July 10, 2013

Labour Leader Ed Miliband took a gamble this week with plans to reform Labour’s historic ties to the unions. From constant attacks surrounding the unions’ influence over the Labour Party in recent years, the Conservative Party play a very risky game given their relationship to very wealthy donors. A main complaint we often hear from the Tories’, is just how undemocratic the election processes within unions are. And this may be true. But again, the Conservatives play a very risky game in highlighting the undemocratic nature of unions, given that 52% of the British public did not vote Tory at the 2010 election; only 36% of a turnout of 65% did vote Tory; they didn’t manage to command a majority; they didn’t put their new coalition agreement to a vote; they didn’t run on the basis of a complete restructure of the National Health Service; and they didn’t explain where cuts would fall prior to election. As undemocratic processes go, the Tories between 2010 and 2013 have led the way on that one.

But the biggest risk the Conservative Party has taken recently, has been to highlight the links between the unions and the Labour Party. And here is why:

The Solicitor General and MP for the constituency of Harborough, Edward Garnier opposes, and voted strongly against practically all smoking regulations, in Parliament. Edward Garnier was treated to a £1,132 invitation to the Chelsea Flower Show, by the World’s third largest tobacco company, Japan Tobacco International (which owns Silk Cut, Mayfair, and B&H). Along with a couple other Tory MPs (also voters against smoking regulations), JTI spent around £14,000 wining and dining their new friends in government, in 2011. A month later, six of the MPs invited by big tobacco to the Chelsea Flower Show, tried to block a bill in Parliament banning smoking in private vehicles that had children present.

In November 2009, six months before the general election, and Andrew Lansley’s promotion to Health Secretary, John Nash of private health care provider Care UK donated £21,000 to Lansley’s personal office. This was the same year that Care UK received a large number of complaints – from demoralised staff, as well as patients – due its lack of acceptable care, losing contracts along the way. As Cameron – opposition leader at the time – was out insisting that the NHS was safe in his hands, that the Tories were now the party of the NHS, his Shadow Health Secretary was being bankrolled by a private health provider that was involved in a string of controversy, including an incident in which two bodies were left unfound for two days at Lennox House in Finsbury Park. Care UK now has a lovely little tax arrangement with HMRC by which, it takes out loans via the Channel Islands Stock Exchange, and so lowers its tax bill (presumably so it can use the saved money, to fund the Tory Party). For a few Care UK horror stories, see here, here and here.
Dr KRH Adams Bolton, a Health consultant for 26 years in Bolton, wrote this of Care UK:

“They do not manage complex cases. They do not have intensive care facilities. They do not have the research and teaching responsibilities that the real NHS has. I would also question if the CARE UK staff have the same training and experience as a real NHS consultant.”

Care UK Hertfordshire received over 2000 complaints in 2009. In Harrow, Care UK received a zero-star rating from the Commission for Social Care Inspection, listing 20 failings, not once but on two separate visits. Not only that, but the miserable company has just won a £53m contract to provide healthcare to prisons.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism conducted research that found the Conservative Party between 2005 – 2010, reliant on hedgefunds, bankers, and investment executives for Party funding with just 10 donors from the City donating around £13,000,000 to the Tory Party in just five years. The biggest individual banking donor, was Michael Farmer, founder of hedge fund RK Capital Management. Coincidentally, he is co-treasurer of the Conservative Party.

Coincidentally, Farmer funded his son’s membership to the elite, violent, Bullingdon Club. Peter Cruddas, founder of CMC Markets gave £215,243. Coincidentally, he is an ex-co-treasurer of the Conservative Party, who once boasted that a large donation to the Tory Party would secure access to the Prime Minister and gain influence at No 10’s Policy Committee. There appear to be a lot of unfortunate coincidences when it comes to Tory Party donors.

Another ex-Tory Party Treasurer is Michael Spencer. Spencer and his business partner David Roland (David Roland is worthy of an article all by himself) donated more than £2m to the Tory Party in 2010. Spencer threatened to move his company’s operations out of London, if a financial transaction tax was introduced. Another wealthy Tory who doesn’t wish to be included in the “we’re all in this together” mantra, whilst threatening the jobs & the livelihoods of the staff he couldn’t care less about, in the process. The putrid Michael Spencer is the personification of Tory Party “values” in 2013.

On to David Roland. Roland, a Tory Donor who was set to become Party Treasurer in 2010 before revelations about his dodgy business deals, forced the Party to cancel his appointment, though not cancel his next £1mn donation on top of his previous £3mn donation the year before.
Rowland bought a lead smelting plant in Idaho which had, before he bought it, caused a massive environmental disaster, leading to acute respiratory health problems for children in the surrounding area, and the deaths of thousands of animals. Rowland bought the company, used the money set aside for the clean up to secure a property deal in New Zealand, and then sold the company. He tried to hide it, by moving the funds to Bermuda, but the US Justice Department blocked it after mass protests and political pressure. Apparently the Right Wing are convinced a single mother claiming a little extra in benefits each month, is monstrous, whilst David Rowland, some sort of hero. Rowland moved to Guernsey to avoid tax in the UK. So arrogant is Tory Donor – David Roland that he unveiled a statue on Guernsey… of himself. Len McCluskey not starting to look so bad afterall.

Jeremy Isaacs donated £190,000 in the past five years to the Tories. He was head of the Asian and Europe part of the Lehmann Brothers company; a company that helped plunge the World into financial meltdown.

Every employee in the country might not be too pleased to know that the man who wrote the government report on the need to strip workers of their rights when it comes to unfair dismissal, Adrian Beecroft, donated over £500,000 to the Tory Party, whilst personally investing in payday loan company wonga.com. Beecroft insisted in his report that the government should make it easier for companies to fire employees (thus, further helping companies like wonga.com), claiming it would promote economic growth. He provided no evidence for that claim. I’m not sure it’s right that very wealthy Tory donors, with links to predatory companies that benefit hugely from austerity, like wonga.com should be allowed to create government policy. As well as the Tories not having a mandate to do any of what they have so far done, the public certainly didn’t vote for an awful man like Beecroft to oversee certain policy making endeavours.

Those that stand to gain from the destruction of the public sector, are guilty of the exact same crime that the London rioters are guilty of; attacking the community that they live, for their own selfish benefit. Eton educated Stuart Wheeler, who donated £5,000,000 to the Tory Party in 2001, is quoted as saying of party donations by individuals:

“absolutely natural and unobjectionable” for big donors to gain influence over policy”.

Lord Blyth. He used to be chairman of Boots, and then Chairman of Diageo – the company who make Guinness. Under his leadership, Diageo restructured its model, to avoid paying any tax in the UK.

In 2012, searchthemoney.com found that the Conservative Party was using a loophole in the donor system, to channel millions of pounds of donations into its coffers, with donors able to remain annonymous if they donated through a private club. If a donor gives more than £1500, they cannot remain anonymous. If they funnel the funds through a club, they can give up to £7500 without being named. Through this, the Carlton Club has donated over £500,000 to the Tories, without having to name individual donors. The local Party of Education Secretary Michael Gove has received over £100,000 from clubs, that don’t have to name their donors.

When Tory backbenchers wave their papers in Parliament in a show of euphoria at the Chancellor’s child impoverishing cuts, we know that they are cheering the further enriching and empowering of their very very wealthy, tax avoiding donors.

I am positive that I would rather a Party represented by Unions, and its members; those who fought for better working conditions, better pay, equal rights in the workplace, the end of child labour, the working week, minimum wage; than hedgefund managers, extremely wealthy, shadowy figures, and dangerous private healthcare and tobacco companies who keep their funds offshore, threaten to leave the country if they have to endure any sort of austerity, and sell access to the Prime Minister for large donations. The hypocrisy of a Tory leadership waging a ‘moral’ campaign against union activity with the Labour Party, is astounding. These are people that should not be allowed anywhere near political power. The Party of the rich, by the rich, for the rich.


The November 30th Strikes

November 23, 2011

Conservative Party hypocrisy reached a new high today, when The Sun published an article in which David Cameron calls on public sector workers to defy their unions, by not going on strike on November 30th. The phrase the Prime Minister used, which really quite sums up the sort of post-modern irony that seems to run the veins of the Coalition, was a beautiful:

“most did not vote for this”

He is of course referring to the vote for public sector strike action on the 30th November over pension reform.

Unison vote: 245,358 voted in favour, 70,253 against.
National Association of Probation Officers Union: 80% vote for strike action.
The National Union of Teachers: 92% in favour.
The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union: 4 to 1 in favour.
Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP): 86% In favour.
Society of Radiographers (SOR): 84% in favour.
Association of Educational Psychologists (AEP): 64% in favour.
Among others.
Over three million will strike. The Prime Minister believes it is illegitimate to strike, because most public sector workers didn’t vote in the ballot. This of course, simply adds to the breathtaking level of hypocrisy in the Prime Minister’s already weak argument.

It is true that most public sector workers didn’t vote. Even so, the unions that did have a huge turnout, were almost identical in respect to results, as those with low turnouts. For example, whilst Unite only managed a 31% turnout with a result of 75% in favour; the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) managed to get 66% turnout with a result of 86% in favour. Scottish Secondary Teachers’ Association (SSTA) managed a turnout of 66.3% and a vote of 79.19% in favour. I’d say it’s pretty conclusive. But it strikes me as insanely ironic that Cameron would even have the nerve to bring up democratic legitimacy. The irony is beautiful. The turnout for the public sector strike vote among unions was around 27%. Pretty small overall. That being said, only about 2% actually voted against strikes. A stark contrast to the 67.6% of people who voted for any Party other than the Conservative Party in 2010. If we’re talking legitimacy after a vote, I’m pretty sure I know which is truly illegitimate, given the scale of reform since 2010.Let’s apply Cameron’s wording to the election and its aftermath:

The tripling of Tuition fees.

“most did not vote for this”

The abolition of 150 PCTs/Control of budget handed over to GP consortiums.

“most did not vote for this”

Rise in VAT, which the Tories said “We have no plans for” and the Lib Dems described as a “Tory bombshell waiting to be dropped”.

“most did not vote for this”

Radical pension changes.

“most did not vote for this”

On the last point, the radical pension changes can not in any light be considered ‘fair’. If we look at what the Government is saying; that a teacher retiring on £37,000 will now get a pension of £25,000, as opposed to £19,100 under the current scheme… sounds like a pretty good deal. But here’s the problem; for a pension of £25,000, the NUT says a teacher would have to work to 68, rather than 60 for the pension of £19000. What this means is if a teacher were to retire at 60 under the new proposals, he/she would receive £13,800…… £5300. Work for eight years longer, pay more, get less. That’s the new scheme.

Danny Alexander told the House of Commons on the 2nd November:

“Yes, we are asking public service workers to contribute more. Yes, we are asking them to work longer, along with the rest of society, but we are offering the chance of a significantly better pension at the end of it for many low and middle income earners.”

– Interestingly, this is nonsense. The document that Alexander is referring to, is the ‘Public Sector Pensions: good pensions that last’ (what a vomit-inducing title), in it we are given the example of a 40 year old male civil servant with 18 years of service, and would only have to work 18 months more – to the age of 61 years and 6 months – to get his existing pension deal. If he were to retire at 67, he’d have £3700 more than under the current scheme. Here’s where it is nonsense. Channel 4 pointed out that if you use the calculator on the Civil Service website, that man would actually only take home £2,567 more. 30% less than Alexander suggested. To even get near to the same pension as they’re currently due, the average civil service worker would have to work close to five years more than now. In contrast, Downing Street has been redecorated to the tune of £680,000 of public money, since May 2010. Just saying….

Baroness Warsi warned:

“Millions of public sector workers could be forced to strike against their will.”

– Oh the hypocrisy. Thousands of students will now face crippling debts, against their will. A report on Radio Leicester this morning highlighted the problem caused by deep austerity (remember, MOST voted against deep austerity in 2010) by showing that since this time last year, homeless rates have tripled in Leicester. Libraries have closed against their will. By June, 240,000 public sector workers had lost their jobs, against their will. GPs are being handed 80% of an NHS budget, against their will. Baroness Warsi really is a disaster.

Overall, the government intends to increase public sector pension contributions by 3.5% by 2015. The TUC says that this amounts to a 3% wage cut. They call it, a tax on working in the public sector. It essentially raises around £3bn a year. Coincidentally, the Chancellor ruled out a tax on bankers bonuses, that would have raised £2bn a year.

It would appear that the Coalition don’t understand. The High Pay Commission this week found that Executive pay is astronomically high, rising hugely even during recession, whilst the rest of the Country had to deal with rising inflation and flatlining wages, followed now by public sector pension attacks and the burden of the nation’s debt placed onto the shoulders of the Nation’s 18 year olds. Barclay’s bank saw its Chief Executive pay increase 5000% in 30 years, whilst its average employee saw his/her pay increase just 3 fold. In 1980, the average pay of the man at the top was 13 times more than the average employee…. now, it’s 169 times more. Collective, The report ends with:

“Stratospheric increases in pay are damaging the economy – distorting markets, draining talent from key sectors and rewarding failure. There appears to be little truth in the myth that pay must escalate to halt a talent drain in executives.”

– Executive pay is in no way linked to company performance. For example, as share index of FTSE 100 companies rose just 7%, average pay for bosses rose 32%, average pay for their employees rose just 2%. Renumeration committees are sordid little greed affairs, and it all remains very very private. It is wrong. So, given that Chief Execs. of financial institutions; a sector that caused the entire globe to become engulfed in the flames of sovereign debt crises, have been given massive tax breaks, and have seen their pay increase beyond anyone’s idea of a reasonable level whilst they ride the tide of consumer demand calling themselves, quite amusingly, “job creators” at every possible turn to defend their obscene life styles, knowing full well they have a plethora of multi-millionaires in the Cabinet to defend them…… the rest of the working World is expected to sit down, shut up, and take the Tory-led economic raping like a good little bitch.

The 0.1% at the very top, are taking even more, funded by cuts to wages like that of the public sector pension reforms. Teachers and nurses are funding the luxurious lifestyles of Britain’s banking chiefs. The Government absolutely fully supports this.

This is why I fully support the strikes next week.


The Tory Party: One big PR disaster

October 17, 2011

Every morning, David Cameron must get out of bed, and feel as if he is walking through a storm without an umbrella. And instead of being soaked in water, he’s drowning in collective Cabinet shit. The Tory front bench, is a PR disaster, almost on a daily basis now. The media is totally in control of the image of the Tory Party. This is a sign of great weakness. There is no PR man controlling the public image of the Tory party any more. The days of painting David Cameron as a “Compassionate Conservative” are dead. The ball is now fully in the court of the media.

Even when we leave aside the fact that they have taken a weak economy that no one thought could get much worse, and made it far worse than anyone could have ever sat and imagined, the drivel that comes out of their mouths, and the antics they get up to, is enough to astound even the least interested in politics among us.

On the subject of the economy; growth had been downgraded from Osborne’s Office of getting everything entirely wrong, all the fucking time Budget Responsibility, five times. Three times before the Eurozone crises really started to take hold. The first time, the Tories blamed Labour. Everything was Labour’s fault. Then, in December 2010, when growth was downgraded again, they blamed the snow. Then the Royal Wedding. Then Europe. Surely the inherently racist Tory party can’t be far away from blaming black people?

Today, the Climate Secretary Chris Huhne, (admittedly, a Lib Dem, but that is so similar to Tory now, it really doesn’t need a distinguishing disclaimer) came out of a meeting with the big energy companies in the hope of striking a deal to bring down the cost of energy in the UK, as its rising rapidly out of control. Huhne’s interview with the BBC went something like this:

BBC: How did the meeting go?
Huhne: Very very very well!!
BBC: And what can we expect to happen?
Huhne: Well, if you switch providers all will be fine blah blah out of touch bollocks.
BBC: Did the energy companies concede anything?
Huhne: Well, if you switch providers all will be fine blah blah even more out of touch, skirting the question bollocks.
BBC: So it’s the consumer’s fault?
Huhne: Well, if you switch ….. you see where this is going.

– To sum up, Huhne thinks if we all switch to a cheaper tariff, we’ll all save money. The problem is, the difference between one company and another, is the difference between £1, and £0.99p. We know there are options, but the options are raping our bank accounts collectively. Ofgem reported last week, that the average profit margin for energy companies had risen from £15 per person in June… to……… £125 in September. That is vastly unacceptable. The bosses of these companies continue to blame wholesale prices of oil. Now, if profit margins had stayed the same, despite the rise in the price to the consumer, then they’d have a point. But you cannot increase your profit by such a huge quantity, and then claim it is the fault of wholesale prices. Huhne, is a PR disaster.

It goes without saying, that Theresa May and Kenneth Clarke are PR disasters, after the Tory Party Conference this year. For a quick refresher, May had used her speech to pour unnecessary and dangerous fuel onto the fire of a Nationalism that already burns far too bright in this Country. She was arguing against the Human Rights Act (a document so important, that May’s only argument against it, was an entire lie. She should be sacked for that alone). To do this, she said:

“The illegal immigrant who cannot be deported because – I am not making this up – because he had a pet cat.”

– The problem was, she had made it up. She is the personification of the Daily Mail. When you cannot find a legitimate reason to promote hate and anger; just make it up. When a Minister hasn’t checked their facts, has resorted to UKIP style populist politics to provoke anger and outrage and something that simply isn’t true, to then use the phrase “I’m not making this up” is so indescribably amateurish, one has to wonder how any of these people are in the position of power they currently occupy.
The story itself – the cat loving illegal immigrant – is wrong. Kenneth Clarke, the Justice Secretary and May’s cabinet Tory colleague responded to her speech, by saying:

“I’ve never had a conversation on the subject with Theresa, so I’d have to find out about these strange cases she is throwing out.”
“They are British cases and British judges she is complaining about.
“I’ll have a small bet with her that nobody has ever been refused deportation on the grounds of the ownership of a cat.”

The Judicial Communications Office said this:

“This was a case in which the Home Office conceded that they had mistakenly failed to apply their own policy – applying at that time to that appellant – for dealing with unmarried partners of people settled in the UK”.
“That was the basis for the decision to uphold the original tribunal decision – the cat had nothing to do with the decision.”

– So, May was wrong. She made up the story. She lied. But it gets even better. Chris Huhne (the PR disaster mentioned previously) tried to send a message on Twitter to his friend, saying:

“From someone else fine but I do not want my fingerprints on the story”

– This is in relation, to being exposed as the person pointing our the “i’m not making this up” speech by May was eerily familiar to Nigel Farage’s (leader of Far Right UKIP) speech, in which he said:

“Should not be deported because – and I really am not making this up – because he had a pet cat!”

– Huhne notified a Guardian journalist to the exact, word for word quote “similarities” between the speeches. But accidentally tweeted to all of his subscribers that he didn’t want his fingerprints on this story. So, May is a PR disaster. Clarke is a PR disaster. And Huhne is a double PR disaster. Brilliantly, Nick Clegg waned into the argument by saying, quite beautifully:

“They were both right.”

– N’awww…….what a cock.

Until recently (having declared he wont stand for re-election) Tory MEP Roger Helmer is responsible trying to justify his speeding, by saying:

“No matter how fast you are going, you get people passing you.”

And an email to a 17 year old animals rights activist, with:

“I am not prepared to join the seal campaign, because while I agree that the culling of seals by beating them over the head is not very pleasing and aesthetic, I think it is probably fairly quick and humane…
“I challenge the use of your term “innocent baby seals”, because
(A) Seals are not morally competent, and therefore cannot be innocent or guilty;
(B) I think it is mawkish, sentimental and unhelpful to adopt a “Bambi” attitude to animals, or to seek to anthropomorphise them – I wonder if you would have the same sentimental view of rats or tarantulas? – if not, why not?
(C) In one sense the seals are guilty (without any moral responsibility), for damaging fish stocks and the livelihoods of local fishermen.
“Your sympathy for dumb animals does you credit, but my advice would be that you save your concerns for people rather than animals.”

And on the subject of date rape:

“…the victim surely shares a part of the responsibility, if only for establishing reasonable expectations in her boyfriend’s mind.”

– Roger Helmer, not only is one of the worst human beings I have ever had to displeasure to read about, but also, a massive PR disaster.

Liam Fox’s friendship with lobbyist Adam Werrity is a PR disaster for so many reasons, it’s almost too big a story to try to dissect. Needless to say, using public funds to pay a lobbyist, and to claim thousands of pounds of public money to allow a lobbyist to stay rent free in your flat, is never going to end well. Especially when you’re the Minister in control of the Nation’s defence system. When that same lobbyist, who is almost entirely funded by public money, is able to bypass official channels because he is friends with the Defence Secretary, and arrange meetings with private companies for commercial purposes; the Defence Secretary automatically becomes… not just a PR disaster, but a massive moron of a PR disaster. When that same lobbyist is given over £140,000 by a property investor with ties to Israel and an intelligence firm with links to Sri Lanka, whilst he accompanies the Defence Secretary as an “advisor”, on trips abroad, not only is the Defence Secretary a massive moron of a PR disaster, he is a dangerous PR disaster.

Oliver Letwin, Minister of State for Policy, photographed dumping confidential documents in a bin on St James’ park, a few months after saying no one wants to see a poor family from Sheffield going on holiday abroad. Oliver Letwin, PR disaster.

Caroline Spelman, Minister for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs plans in late 2010 to sell off a third of the 1.85 million acres of British forests to private investors for the sake of Hotel Resorts and Theme parks, only to have the Prime Minister admit he’d never given permission for that, and for the entire thing to be shelved. Where’s the communication?

George Osborne, who seems to keep being on TV insisting that the UK is leading the way out of the financial crises, that his plan will work, and that all will be fine. He says this, whilst the poverty rate increases – more on this point later – whilst unemployment is very very close to hitting the 3 million mark, whilst youth unemployment is at its worst since the 1980s (coincidentally at the time of the previous Tory government), whilst wages are stagnating, whilst output is dropping, whilst homelessness increases, whilst inflation is slowly getting out of control, whilst energy bills are now unworkable, and whilst dropping growth figures show that we are very very close to another recession. George Osborne is a PR disaster.

Philip Hammond, New Secretary of Defence, tells BBC’s Question Time, that allegations of his tax avoidance (he’s a multi-millionaire who said he’d continue to claim £30,000 a year of public money to fund his second home) by Channel 4’s dispatches were:

“Completely unfounded innuendo and unfortunately if you go into public life you have to accept that innuendo’s will be made against you to which you don’t always have the opportunity to reply.”

To which, the follow up question:

“So were the allegations that you’d moved shares into your wife’s name and that you took dividends rather than income, wrong?”

– was answered rather spectacularly by Hammond, with:

“Neither of those facts are incorrect”

– Unfounded innuendo one second, but absolutely true the next. Brilliant. Phillip Hammond, is a PR disaster, whilst also managing to be a smug twat about it.

How weak Cameron is looking. He needs an Alastair Campbell. His one attempt to attract an Alastair Campbell type figure, was Andy Coulson….. a massive PR disaster. They are one PR disaster after another, day after day, idiots running the Country and being exposed as idiots every time they show their contemptuous, nasty little faces.

The problem this represents for those of us on the left, is that the actual issues do not get publicised (perhaps i’m partly responsible for that, given the nature of this blog) enough. The BBC chose to almost entirely ignore 2000 people blocking the bridge the day of the NHS Bill moving to the Lords. The big issues, like the NHS bill, that have grave consequences for all of us that believe in a Nationalised, free health service, are put to one side, because Letwin uses a bin. And so, public discourse focuses almost entirely on the image of the Government, rather than the disastrous and dangerous ideological economic project they are inflicting on Country. Policy gets pushed aside, the underlying nasty nature of Theresa May’s made up cat story, is ignored. This can only work to benefit the Tories. Nobody voted for such a big NHS reform. Nobody voted for a huge hike in tuition fees. The Tories are getting away with shifting vast sums of wealth to very rich individuals and businesses, and the docile English population is too engaged in the fact that Liam Fox has a friend. Perhaps there comes a time when endless PR disasters can be used to benefit an unpopular government and its very undemocratic and ideologically motivated agenda.


The frivolity of Prime Minister’s Questions.

September 7, 2011

There were laughs reverberating around the hall of the House of Commons today as Tory MP Nadine Dorries asked “Will the Prime Minister show the Deputy Prime Minister, who is the boss?” She raised the issue in conjunction with NHS reforms. Someone should inform Dorries that no one in the Country actually gave permission for these NHS reforms (when I say no one, I obviously exclude John Nash over at Care UK).

On a side note, for those who do not know Nadine Dorries, she attempted to prevent abortion providers giving NHS funded counselling to women, under that famous Tory justification-of-the-disgusting as “patient choice”. The amendment to the Health Bill, seeks to force the NHS to provide “independent” counselling to women seeking an abortion. The worry is, this opens the door for faith based groups to provide counselling to pregnant women. This isn’t beyond the realm of possibility, given that Dorries other anti-abortion campaign in 2008, was funded by Christian Concern for our Nation. This is a Christian fundamentalist group, who believe any kind of pro-equality legislation for homosexuality, is anti-Christian legislation. Here is what their site says:


Sexual orientation is being given increasing protection under equality legislation. Unfortunately this has led to serious consequences for Christians.

Here is its EDL style fear tactics, on Islam:

From the introduction of Sharia law and Islamic finance to the implications on freedom of speech and women’s rights, the presence of Islamism in the UK has great repercussions for all of us.

– They seem to be under the impression that the introduction of entirely Christian fundamental values is a wonderful thing, but any other religious fundamentalists must be great evils. I want neither. They also seem to be under the impression that we have a country controlled by Sharia and Islamic finance. How odd.
They have arguments against the scrapping of the Blasphemy laws (we genuinely still had blasphemy laws up until 2008 …… not 1534……2008!) on their site. They are shocked that anyone would support the scrapping of Blasphemy Laws. Speaking on the site, Andrea Williams defends the Blasphemy laws because they protect against “strident criticism” of God. That it protects against “sexual assaults against Jesus Christ. Making sexual overture towards Christ”…. sounds similar to the way Muslims reacted to the drawings of Mohammed…irrational, and dangerous. After much of what i’ve wrote on this blog, I guess if the laws were still in place, I could be prosecuted for it.
Anyway, This is who funds Dorries campaigns. That is who Dorries is.

Today, MPs voted overwhelmingly against it, and rightfully so. After such a crushing defeat, Dorries said:

“Actually, it was the most tremendous success. We lost the battle but we won the war”.

– One recalls Tariq Aziz in 2003, as the Ba’athist regime in Iraq crumbled, insisting that victory was imminent.

The laughs were justifiably aimed at the pointlessness of the question, and Cameron’s absolutely correct refusal to answer it, but to me it highlighted two problems:

I) Nadine Dorres has simply amplified growing concern on the Tory benches that the Lib Dems are diluting the message of Conservatism. This Blog by Conservative home echoes similar sentiments. It is vastly misguided in its anger. They seem unable to grasp the concept of not winning an election. They did not pass the post. They did not get a majority. They do not have a mandate to initiate deeply right winged, Tory principles. If the Deputy Prime Minister were to be suddenly struck down with a conscience, and said “We are not voting for anything you put forward any more“, the “boss” would appear incredibly impotent. The Country did not choose one boss or one Party. We did not elect a Tory government. We elected a mixture. Doubtlessly Nadine Dorres is simply annoyed with Clegg’s refusal to back her ludicrous religious fundamentalist anti-abortion campaign. What the Tories are doing now it seems, is attempting (as Conservative Home did in the blog I linked to) to use the diluting of Tory policies by Liberal Democrats, as a reason for weak growth. So, that’s the Lib Dems, Europe, the Royal Wedding, Labour’s legacy, and the snow, that the Tories have blamed for weaker than anticipated growth. Even so, the point remains valid; someone needs to tell those like Dorries, who seem to think they have some sort of inherent right to rule, that they didn’t win the election. This is not a Tory Parliament. Even to claim they won the most seats, is fallacious, given that more people voted for slower deficit reduction – Labour/Lib Dem – than voted for the pace now being forced upon us. As far as I can tell, the Lib Dem dilutions aren’t good enough. This is a very very Tory Government. Frustrated about being in Coalition with the Lib Dems? Tough. The public don’t want a very Right Winged government. Either you operate a minority government, or you deal with Coalition. You have no other choice.

One must wonder what the polls would be saying, if the Tories were able to cut even deeper and apply Tory principles where otherwise they are diluted by the Liberals. The Poll from Yougov yesterday, despite Lib Dem dilution, showed that when asked “Thinking about the way the government is cutting spending to reduce the government’s deficit, do you think this is… “
Only 35% said it is good good for the economy. 27% said it is being done fairly and 52% said it is being done too quickly. Even now, having not won the election, they still don’t have a majority of the country agreeing with their policy. They have no mandate. They do not understand this.

II) Prime Minister’s Questions last for thirty minutes every Wednesday. It is a chance for our nationally elected legislature to interrogate the government. Given the rapid nature of change in schooling, the NHS, the struggles facing people who are the victims of deep austerity, the Libyan conflict; It is simply a waste of a question, and a stain upon the fabric of Parliamentary Democracy for an elected representative, who has the opportunity to ask anything at all, to have the nerve to stand up and ask the Prime Minister to bitch slap his Deputy into place. I would have preferred for Cameron to have spent that wasted time laughing at the insanity of Nadine Dorries, instead answering questions about his apparent vast NHS reform support from The Royal College of Nurses, despite their Chief Executive Dr Carter saying recently:

….. we are telling MPs that this Bill risks creating a new and expensive bureaucracy and fragmenting care.
This fragmentation risks making inequalities worse, and preventing health providers from collaborating in the interests of patients. We must avoid a situation where existing NHS providers are left with expensive areas of care while private providers are able to ‘cherry pick’ the services which can be delivered easily.”

– Isn’t the dismantling of the NHS, and the Prime Minister’s refusal to accept the almost universal condemnation of the reforms, far more important to the future of the Country and the people who live in it, than Nadine Dorries personal dislike of Nick Clegg? She should be ashamed of herself to continuing the politics of theatre in a supposedly “honourable” National Legislature.
Shouldn’t we be asking why former Director-General for Commissioning and System Management for the NHS and now “health policy expert” on David Cameron’s personal NHS advisory group said this to a group of Private Healthcare lobbies, organised by private equity firm Apax:

“In future, the NHS will be a state insurance provider not a state deliverer. The NHS will be shown no mercy and the best time to take advantage of this will be in the next couple of years.”

– Doesn’t seem like the Lib Dems are fighting hard enough to me. Heaven knows what the Tories would be pushing for now, had they won a majority in 2010. It is unnerving to think about. Nevertheless, it isn’t a Tory government and so excessively Right Winged policies like that on the NHS, really need to be fully scrutinised during Prime Minister’s Questions.

Dorries isn’t the first. I blogged not long ago, on the subject of Loughborough Tory MP Nicky Morgan asking misleading and futile questions in Parliament, having emailed her to point out her pointlessness. She, oddly, blamed by anger at her helping to bring down the intellectual discourse that we expect from our Parliamentarians…… on my apparent sexism. To this day, I fail to understand her point, and cannot comprehend how someone of that level of stupidity manages to get elected. But it isn’t just restricted to the Tories. Labour and Liberals are just as guilty of weak and frivolous questioning in Parliament. It is one of the very reasons I am thoroughly anti-Lords reform. I do not want a second chamber full of mediocre career politicians trying to score points against each other. I am quite content with an appointed Lords based on merit and expertise. Another House of Commons, would be a disaster. I don’t care if it’s elected. It’s irrelevant. If all we can achieve by the Democratic process in this Country, is a Health Secretary funded entirely by the Private Health sector, and a mad old Christian who spends her time throwing darts at Nick Clegg, then perhaps Democracy isn’t all it is cracked up to be. We expect more from our politicians. It becomes increasingly obvious that people who spend their debate time, taking cheap shots at each other, should be not representing anyone, in any walk of life. They are not worthy of the office of MP.

We are told constantly of the importance of voting. That our ancestors fought for this privilege. Well, Parliamentarians fought civil wars, their brothers and fathers and sons were killed, for the supremacy of Parliament. Parliament must be worthy of our vote, because that is what wars were fought to ensure. Do we really think that the current Parliamentary tussling, complete with childish attacks and needless questions at the expense of serious debate and discourse, is truly worthy of the vote that is apparently so precious? The degradation of Parliament is circular, in that the mediocrity of our career politicians creates an air of ambivalence toward politics and the democratic process. In return, the disinterest of the electorate necessarily creates a system in which it becomes far easier for mediocre career politicians to enter politics. It is almost certainly the reason we need an unelected House of Lords.

Nadine Dorries may have raised a laughable question, but it illustrates a growing disease in Parliament. Prime Ministers Questions is a public arena, for rather bad theatre, than an arena for informed debate and intelligent discourse and holding the most powerful office in the Country to account, and that is a worrying state of affairs.