Take Me To Your Leader Writer

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...has written more leaders (newspaper editorials) than anyone alive or dead, an honour still to be recognised by the Guiness Book of Records or the Nobel judges. I have produced them for the Daily Mirror, Daily Mail, Sunday Mirror, Today, the Sunday People, the Evening Post (Hemel Hempstead), the Caithness Courier and the Student (Edinburgh). My creed is: Have opinions, Will travel.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Sad what too much French food did to Nigel

WHAT a stir Nigel Lawson caused when he came out in The Times today declaring that he would vote in a referendum for Britain to get out of the EU. Not only did it lead that paper but the BBC news.
Obviously such a shock to the political system, with a leading Tory (leading? Anyone under the age of 60 ever heard of him?) advocating something so sensational making it a big story.
Not to me it wasn't. Nigel Lawson has been an outer for a long time. At least ten years ago at a Conservative conference fringe meeting he was the star speaker, saying he was just back from his home in France, loved French food but still thought we should leave the EU. Naturally no other journalists were there and, even if they had been, the meanderings of a has-been politician wouldn't have made a paragraph in any paper.
But times have changed. Now the big story is the pressure for an in-out referendum and the push to get this country out of Europe. So any little thing adds fuel to that media fire.
Almost everyone calling for a referendum has no interest in "giving the British people a say". What they want is to see Britain withdraw from the EU and to hell with the consequences. They aren't bothered about having the proper debate they declare they are in favour of, because a proper debate would expose their lies, inconsistencies and deceit. And finally explain the positive effects of being in the Union.
Nigel Lawson has been nothing but a pimple on the backside of politics since he left the Treasury a quarter of a century ago. There is no better answer to his latest nonsense than these wise words:
"I have been a committed supporter of closer European unity, with Britain playing a leading part in it, since I was president of the Strasbourg Club as an Oxford undergraduate. Although far from perfect in practice - nothing ever is - I saw the European Community as an inspired constitutional innovation; providing as it did for the most intimate form of co-operation between the various nation states of Europe...It got the balance right between the need for the closest possible co-operation and the retention of nation states.
"It is the height of folly to seek to destroy this unique and careful balance between international co-operation and national sovereignty."
Who said that? Why, it was Nigel Lawson in his autobiography The view from No. 11.


Thursday, 21 June 2012

When will he ever learn.....

Unfortunately, an awful lot of people in this country don't know the difference between education and passing exams. Even more tragically, one of them is the Education Secretary.
Like many very clever people, Michael Gove doesn't understand that not everyone is as brilliant as he is. In his rarefied world, every young person can do intricate maths, have no problem grasping Greek and Latin, and sail through whatever examination paper is put before them.
He has no insight into how people function because he has no insight into himself. Which is why he is like he is.
I know a bit about exams because I am one of those fortunate people who could pass them without breaking into a sweat. My mother used to half laugh about it - only half because she didn't really like my lack of application.
There are some people - my two youngest daughters, for example - who can't pass exams however hard they work. And work hard they do.
Once you understand this, you realise that passing exams does little more than get you a certificate which you put at the back of a cupboard and forget to take with you when you move.
What is the point of most traditional exams? What do students learn from taking them? What good do they do the individual, the employers who will hopefully hire them, and society? Very little.
GCSEs are far from perfect but by making pupils do course work and by introducing them to a wide range of subjects, some of which they might actually be interested in, they may achieve something really important. And that is to educate the child.
Michael Gove isn't interested in doing that, though. His only concern is to ensure that children lower down the social and intellectual scales are kept firmly in their place. And to establish his own credentials for becoming leader of the Conservative Party.


Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Yes, it is the worst government ever

In her Guardian column today, Polly Toynbee says this is the worst government of her political life. An exaggerated claim? I don't think so.
Some months ago, a long-time friend who has been at Westminster for 40 years told me the coalition was the most incompetent government he had known. Yet what it has done since then makes its first year in office look ordered by comparison.
The one thing that might be said about the Tories in the past was that they could at least run things vaguely well. Not this lot. They are utterly, totally hopeless. Wherever you look, they have created chaos.
Some of it is because they don't have any real beliefs but it is their absurd over-reaction to avoid (at least, they hope to avoid) criticism from the Mail and similar papers that shows them at their most ridiculous.
The queues at passport control have been caused by hysteria at the accusation they are soft on immigration. Ditto the block on foreign students coming to the UK, which is proving disastrous for many universities.
Not bending away from complete reliance on austerity, as just about every other European country is now considering doing, is due to fear of being thought of as  weak - always a sign of weakness.
The most sickening aspect of Cameron's defence of Jeremy Hunt yesterday wasn't his disgraceful aggressive bullying attacks on Labour but the braying masses of Tory backbenchers behind him. Can it really be that everyone in the country knows Hunt has a case to answer, to put it mildly, except for Conservative MPs?
At the core of the problem for the Government is not its coalition with the LibDems - most of whom aren't much better -  but ministers' total lack of understanding about what governing is or, indeed, what management is. It is the nature of the party now that it chooses such inadequate representatives.
As it happens, there are a few rather good new Tory MPs but they won't get anywhere purely because they are rather good.
Meanwhile, the country sinks ever deeper into economic woes, structures and organisations that have been the backbone of our civilised society are being dismembered, voters are understandably becoming ever more disenchanted and the Right continues its remorseless rise.
We are in heavy seas on a rudderless ship with a crew of hopeless incompetents at the wheel.



Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Who are the Trotskyites now?

It seems a long time (more than a quarter of a century, actually) since the Trots were regularly being denounced  and it is something of a political wonder that they have survived into the 21st century.
But when the Tories' backs are to the wall, you can rely on them to haul out the invective against these ultra-left demons.
David Cameron was at it today at PMQs. Asked about the government's workfare scheme, he lashed out at "the Trotskyites" (sic) who, he said, are organising the opposition to it.
It makes a change to have a new target after the beating the bankers have taken. To paraphrase Peter Mandelson: "They have suffered enough."
So who are these Trotskyites attacked so robustly by the prime minister?  Well, they are the people who run Boots. And McDonalds. And Tesco. And dozens of other major retail companies.
I thought they were capitalists but it turns out they are Trots. Presumably Cameron thinks proper business leaders could see that the workfare scheme is a wonderful opportunity for young people to work for nothing in menial jobs with the threat of losing their meagre benefits if they should dare to prefer not to be exploited.
In fact, these companies have been rather swift to respond once they realised what was going on and that they, in turn, were being exploited by the government in an attempt to make a sordid scheme look good and successful.
Can't David Cameron tell the difference between the people who run some of the biggest companies in the country and the rag-tag of the SWP? Apparently not.
Stand by for him to accuse doctors and nurses of being "Trotskyites" for opposing his health bill.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Who are the really stupid ones?

Stupid. Stupid, stupid, stupid. They are just so-o-o-o dumb. All those doctors, nurses and other health professionals, including people who ran or run the NHS. Just ignorant, thick and useless.
At least, that is what the government is saying about those who criticise the health bill.
There is a bit of a problem for Cameron and Lansley, though.  Funnily enough, the British public doesn't see it that way.
They don't consider that the people they rely on for medical treatment are stupid. On the contrary, they consider them to be knowledgeable, experienced and caring - caring for their patients and caring for the National Health Service.
So it is hardly surprising that a clear majority of people not only say they trust health professionals more than politicians, but that they believe the health "reforms" are going to be bad for the NHS.
Let me go further. The stupid ones are the politicians who not only think they can get away with changes that will eventually wreck the principles of the health service, but who treat the professionals as idiots.
Apart from alienating just about everyone in the health sector, it reinforces the public's view that politicians are shallow, objectionable thugs who treat all who dare to oppose them with contempt.
Cameron is treading on very thin ice. Hopefully it will crack and he will fall in before the NHS does.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Where is the champion of true capitalism?

They just don't get it. Certainly David Cameron doesn't and neither do the media.
No one - apart from a few extremely eccentric extremely old-fashioned extremely left-wing comrades - thinks business is bad. Business creates job and makes money which pays wages and taxes.
But in the past half century a form of "business" has developed which only makes one thing - money for the people involved in it.
Ed Miliband appeared to want to draw the distinction when he talked in his conference speech of "predatory capitalism", The language was too difficult, he didn't explain it and quickly moved away when Cameron ridiculed him.
Now the prime minister has gone out of his way to praise capitalism without drawing attention to the differences between the innovative entrepreneur or small shopkeeper and the fatcats of the City and private equity whose only purpose is to enrich themselves.
Bonuses are a symbol of what has happened. It isn't the Left which is doing down capitalism, it is the people who claim to be its strongest supporters. The greedy few who care nothing for genuine business are the ones undermining capitalism.
Yet where is the politician who can articulate this? Not on the horizon.
Money equals power, so those who want a bit of power feel they have to bow the knee to the obscene money machine. David Cameron is in the best position to champion true capitalism. But either he is scared to or simply doesn't understand. Or both.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

It's an ill wind for the NHS and Cameron

This blog has been delayed for the past couple of weeks due to a technical hitch.  The hitch which is delaying the health bill is hardly technical.
Just what a disaster it is proving for the government can be seen from Prime Minister's Questions. It isn't so much that Ed Miliband is doing well but that David Cameron is clearly floundering.
He flusters and blusters and flails around. He not only doesn't even attempt to answer the questions, it is the ludicrous nature of his replies that is so revealing.
Surely there must be someone around him who can suggest a better line of defence. Unless they have all come to accept there is no defence to these reforms.
There is widespread acceptance that the NHS is currently working rather well. It has its faults and problems but, on the whole, it is far more efficient than it used to be.
The inevitable conclusion the public has drawn is that the changes the Tories want to introduce will make it worse. And, of course, when you have all those health professionals saying precisely that, it can only reinforce the worst fears.
Without this bill, the Tories might just have hoped for a narrow overall majority at the next election. With it, they could well go down to defeat.
That is what a growing number of senior Conservatives dread. In which case, it won't only be Andrew Lansley who will be looking for work.