Tag Archives: omnishambles

Gove v Davey on climate change – who do we believe?

[Image: BBC.]

[Image: BBC.]

Just three days after Michael Gove reacted with “concern” over a report that climate change was being discussed in British schools, his coalition partner and Energy Secretary Ed Davey – speaking for the British government – has claimed the European Union must do more to limit the phenomenon.

One of them wants to deny that it exists; the other says it is all-too-real. They are both in the government.

What are we supposed to think?

Perhaps it might be excusable to think that these divisions are likely to happen in a government that is an uneasy alliance between two political organisations that have unique ideologies, but will that really wash?

The whole idea of the Coalition was that they would put their differences behind them and work together – and, let’s be honest, the alliance has never been as uneasy as some would want us to believe. This is why it has been so easy for this blog (and others) to re-name Nick Clegg’s party the Tory Democrats.

No, what we have here is a schizoid situation in which the government is making two different statements at once. Gove is saying climate change doesn’t exist and it is wrong to suggest that it does, while Davey is demanding that we team up with other countries to fight it.

Clearly, there has been a breakdown in communication somewhere.

The applicable word is: Omnishambles.

In such situations it would be normal to look to the leader for guidance… but he’s off on holiday, in a part of the globe that’s warm. Also, we now know he has all the leadership skills of a frightened sheep.

Never mind; for David Cameron, the clock is ticking. In a little over a year, he could be nothing more than a bad memory.

Let us hope that, by then, it won’t be too late for our environment.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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Latest drama shows omnishambles is continuing unabated

Lord Strathclyde: Neither steadfast nor united with the Coalition government, he's off to try to start a business career. It'll be interesting to see where he goes, and why.

Lord Strathclyde: Neither steadfast nor united with the Coalition government, he’s off to try to start a business career. It’ll be interesting to see where he goes, and why.

The UK Coalition government has marked its halfway point by claiming it is “steadfast and united” – apart from Lord Strathclyde, who resigned from his Cabinet post as Leader of the House of Lords today.

He is being replaced by Lord Hill, who himself tried to resign as an education minister in September but was – inadvertently! – kept in-post by David Cameron, who completely failed to realise what was going on, told his visitor to keep up the good work, and rushed off to a press conference.

In other words, the Coalition has marked its halfway point with another example of its most outstanding feature so far – a cock-up.

What’s worse is that Strathclyde told David Cameron he was going over the New Year break – so the comedy Prime Minister actually had time to arrange matters in a less embarrassing way, and didn’t!

Apparently there’s no political reason for Strathclyde to have chosen this moment to go – he just feels he’s done his time and wants to get into a business career while he still can. Does that ring true? His departure means opponents of the Tory/Lib-Dem mishmash can have another good laugh at the Coalition’s expense, while also speculating on why he wants to go into business when the economy is still tanking?

The leaders of the Coalition, David Cameron and Nick Clegg, even managed to shoot themselves in the feet with their comments on the mid-term review.

“We will support working families with their childcare costs,” they said on the day child benefit changed from being universal to a means-tested benefit, taking money from thousands – perhaps millions – of families across the country.

And, highlighting welfare changes that were found to be leading to an average of 73 deaths every week, and education changes that have led to an appalling drop in teachers’ morale, they wrote in the document’s foreword, “On all of these key aims, our parties, after 32 months of coalition, remain steadfast and united”.

That’s a joint admission of guilt, then.

Molotov cocktails for the propaganda machine

Despicable Him: All the puff pieces* in the world won't save David Cameron when ordinary people can use their computers, look up what he and his government have done, and tell other people about it. *A puff piece is a newspaper article written for no other reason that to promote or advertise its subject; an article with little or no real news value. Like today's Telegraph editorial.

Despicable Him: All the puff pieces* in the world won’t save David Cameron when ordinary people can use their computers, look up what he and his government have done, and tell other people about it.
*A puff piece is a newspaper article written for no other reason that to promote or advertise its subject; an article with little or no real news value. Like today’s Telegraph editorial.

Whoever wrote today’s editorial at the Daily Telegraph doesn’t realise that we can debunk these articles faster than he (or she) can write them.

And if you’re working at the Daily Mail? That goes for you too.

The article to which I refer is headed with the overly-optimistic line ‘A year for the Tories to restore their reputation’ and goes downhill from there.

The thesis is that the Conservatives, in government, have failed to deliver the “competence and compassion” that they promised in 2010 – competence in putting the government, especially its finances, back on the right track; and compassion in ruling not just for the rich but the whole country – “not least via far-reaching reforms to education and welfare, intended to benefit the most disadvantaged in society”.

The piece is riddled with nonsenses, most of which have long-since been dismissed by anyone of modest intelligence who can use an internet search engine. So:

“The Tories are grappling with a truly toxic legacy (both fiscal and otherwise)” – and yet it is still business as usual for the banks, nearly three years after the election. Why have we not seen the reforms we have been promised?

“It was always going to be a tall order for an administration led by polished public school types to lead the nation through an age of austerity.” For “polished public school types” read “rude, uncultured oiks with over-inflated opinions of themselves”. Oh, and there’s a typo. Between “an” and “age of austerity”, the missing word is “unnecessary”.

Here’s the bit that made my blood boil, though: “In fact, the Tories still have a strong story to tell. Their education and welfare reforms, together with the raising of income tax thresholds that the Lib Dems insisted on, represent a genuine attempt to help the poor.”

Did the author seriously think they were going to get away with that? I couldn’t let it go unchallenged and wrote the following into the article’s ‘Comment’ column: “The education and welfare reforms do NOT represent any kind of attempt to help the poor. Welfare in particular is an ongoing disaster, with thousands of those on sickness or disability benefits already dead, having either suffered terminal worsening of their conditions thanks to the heartless regime inflicted on them by an apparently-psychotic Iain Duncan Smith, or given up and committed suicide just to break the cycle of harassment and intimidation.

“It’s as if this government is deliberately trying to kill off those whose health prevents them from working.

“And I should know – not only am I a carer for a disabled person, I write a blog that regularly focuses on this subject. If any Telegraph readers want to know what’s really going on, I suggest they take a trip across to voxpoliticalonline.com and read some of the comments from people who have actually been through the system. It might be a bit of a shock!”

I wonder if it has been moderated out of existence yet?

You noticed, I hope, that one area of government that didn’t get mentioned as a “genuine attempt to help” in the article was health? Is this an admission of guilt, I wonder.

Moving on, the article harks back to what the author clearly considers the Tories’ glory days, when Margaret Thatcher led the party during the 1980s: “Mrs Thatcher herself was not universally liked; nor was the party she led. The Tories won then because they promised to do tough but necessary things, which would give voters the chance to build a better life – and delivered.”

I was just trying to get my career started when Thatcher’s government was in power. “Give voters the chance to build a better life”? I can assure you, that didn’t happen unless you were a member of an exclusive club. For most of us it was oppression as usual.

The only difference now is, with this lot the oppression is worse, and so is the incompetence.

It’s impractical to expect the Conservative Party to change its ways at the moment because it is doing precisely what it set out to do: Shrink the state and sell off the most profitable bits to its friends in the private sector. Sorting out the economy has nothing to do with what’s actually happening, other than being a smokescreen.

The worst tragedy for the UK in 2015 will be if the Conservatives win.

However:

Dire though it may be, the author of this article does have a point when turning to Labour’s tactics. “Labour’s announcements on welfare this week show a party devoted to double-counted, sock-the-rich gimmicks rather than the serious business of rescuing the public finances.” While this is almost indigestible, coming from someone who has just been extolling the hidden virtues of a party that has been pursuing a hidden agenda behind a smokescreen of nonsense justification narratives, I can’t see the point of Labour’s latest idea, either. Getting a six-month job for the long-term jobless? That’s just as pointless as the Tories’ current make-work schemes.

No, what we need to build up the UK economy again are some solid foundations. Gideon George Osborne missed his opportunity to make a start on this in his Autumn Statement, when he said he was cutting Corporation Tax again. It’s gone down by a huge 25 per cent since this government took office – why has he not attached a condition to it – that firms must use the money they save to employ extra staff and build their businesses back up to positions of strength?

At the very least, why did he not attach a condition that firms should build up the average salaries of their workers, to ensure that nobody in full-time employment need ever claim a state benefit? Remember, 60 per cent of the benefit cuts Osborne announced in the same Autumn Statement will affect working people just as much as the jobless.

If those workers were properly paid, then the benefit bill might be smaller and the cuts might not be necessary. Doesn’t that make sense?

The Tories are starting 2013 in the way to which we have all become accustomed: Omnishambles.

But now it’s time for Labour to raise its game.

Omnishambles, omnishambles, omnishambles

Feeling tired? Don’t worry, Vince Van Winkle, we’ve got a cosy place in the Cabinet for you, next to Ken ‘Can’t Keep My Eyes Open’ Clarke!

Before the general election in 2010, David Cameron reminded us that Tony Blair had summed up his ambitions in three words, “Education, education, education”, then said he could manage his in three letters: “N.H.S.”

How wrong he was!

We now know that the correct three-word slogan would have been: “Omnishambles, omnishambles, omnishambles”!

Here’s three examples of Coalition government ineptitude that have fallen onto my desk during this morning alone.

1. The government is having to shred £350,000 worth of ballot papers for the Welsh police and crime commissioner elections after a late decision to print them in both English and Welsh.

There really is no excuse for this. I know for a fact that Labour and, I believe, Plaid Cymru were both pushing for bilingual ballots, months before now.

When Christine Gwyther heard the Home Office did not have Parliamentary approval for bi-lingual ballot papers and information to voters, she immediately took steps to rectify the matter, writing to Bryn Parry-Jones, the returning officer, who agreed to pursue it on an all-Wales basis. She told Labour’s Brecon and Radnorshire constituency party the story at its meeting in September, which was one and a half months ago at the time of writing.

The government says the cost will be met from the £75 million election budget. I find this unconscionable. People across the country are getting into terrible states of anxiety over how to afford an extra £20 or £30 a month due to benefit cuts (of which more in a moment), but this government is prepared to throw away hundreds of thousands of pounds because its members couldn’t be bothered to make a perfectly simple decision in a reasonable amount of time.

Shambles.

2. A senior Downing Street aide has quit working for David Cameron in order to join Wonga.com, the loan company that charges bizarrely exorbitant rates of interest – more than 4,000 per cent. This is according to Sky News.

Jonathan Luff has done this, allegedly, at a time when the Office of Fair Trading is trying to crack down on payday lenders and concern is high about the industry’s business practices. The question is whether the move will give Wonga inappropriate access to ministerial decision-makers.

I guess we’ll find out, if the issue mysteriously goes away in the immediate future, with no explanation.

Already, critics have denounced the move as a sign of what Conservative supporters are really interested in – not the good of the country, but the size of their bank accounts.

Shambles.

3. Finally, in an article on this very blog, I seem to have revealed ambiguities in the plan for the new, so-called “bedroom tax” that could add tens, if not hundreds of pounds to the cost for people renting council- or social houses.

It seems that it is unclear whether the amounts to be removed from housing benefit – 14 per cent for one extra bedroom, 25 per cent for two or more – are to be taken from the amount of benefit being paid, or from the total rent being paid on the property. One of my readers tells me that Cornwall Council has taken the latter stance, meaning a loss of £21 per week for the first spare bedroom, £29 per week for two – considerably more than the advertised average of £14 per week.

Social housing provider Bromford, on the other hand, states clearly that it is a household’s housing benefit entitlement that will be cut, which seems to make it clear that it is a percentage of the benefit, not the full rent.

One wonders whether the government will stir itself to provide a definitive answer before the new rules come into practice next April. I shall not be holding my breath in anticipation.

Oh, and households with students away from home for less than 52 weeks per year – exempted under the new rules – will find that Cornwall Council doesn’t see it that way, either. from the form letter: “If you have an extra bedroom(s) for children who don’t live with you full time, the Government will count this as a spare bedroom and your benefit will be cut.”

Omnishambles.

Bubbling under, we have the accusation against Business Secretary Vince Cable that he slept through the new Cabinet Growth Committee’s meetings, as he seems to know nothing about them despite being, as I understand it, the vice-chair.

Coming soon: Borishambles.