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, 24 January 2012

It's lucky for the Tories that voters are economically illiterate

The one thing the Tories - and the rest of the coalition government - have got going for them with voters is the conviction that they are the ones who will sort out the economy.
How could anyone believe that after today's figures.These show not just that public-sector debt has topped £1 trillion for the first time - a headline-grabbing statistic - but that the coalition has added £225 billion to the £779 billion debt it inherited. Far more than Alistair Darling forecast for a Labour government.
And by the time of the next election it is projected to soar by another £390 billion.
This is failure by any standards but when you consider it is happening while public-sector jobs are being slashed and huge sums taken out of public spending, it is a monumental disaster. The international financial institutions which have smiled kindly on coalition policy so far will surely turn nasty eventually. We could even join France in losing our triple A status.
At what point will voters wake up and realise that this government's economic policies are not just a failure but a catastrophe? At the moment, the Tories are unbelievably ahead in the polls.
Surely it can't last.  Can it?

PS at 15.40: The Government has been dealt a blow this afternoon as the IMF confirmed it was lowering its projected growth target for the UK from 1.6% to 0.6% (from P0liticsHome). What a bad, bad day for them.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Stick to the day job, Michael

As regular readers of this irregular blog will know, one of my first acts on becoming unchallenged ruler of this kingdom will be to ban anyone who worked as a journalists from ever holding positions in government.
Those who doubt the wisdom of this need look no further than Michael Gove.
The basic requirement of anyone running the country should be to think about what he is doing and what he proposes to do. This is the opposite of what columnists do.
What happens when you have a column to write - an occupation Gove followed for a number of years at The Times before becoming a minister - is that you sit around scratching your head and wondering what on earth you can do it on.
There are some sensible columnists who actually write intelligent pieces on thoughtful topics. Sadly, some do not. Michael Gove in government is following the latter path.
You can imagine him striding around brainstorming, demanding of himself: "What can I write about this week?" and then hurriedly correcting himself: "No, no, I mean, What great measure can I introduce this week?"
That is how we got the ludicrous proposal that the people of Britain, facing an ever tighter squeeze on their finances, should cough up tens of millions of pounds on a new yacht for one of the world's richest people.
Now he has come up with another one - I can't even remember what it is at this time in the morning - as his department makes a humiliating climbdown over trying to force successful schools into academy status. Which was another brilliant Gove idea.
I didn't even think he was a good columnist. But he was a genius at it compared to his ability as a minister.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

In praise of Kelvin Mackenzie (not)

I don't know if I hate Kelvin Mackenzie more than he hates me or he hates me more than I hate him. Either way, it's a close thing.
What is most extraordinary and despicable is that so many people in the media (and possibly politics) think he is a bit of a laugh. "Good value" as I heard him described on the radio yesterday after his evidence to the Leveson inquiry.
I was present for his first performance at Leveson - at the second seminar - which was so disgraceful that Paul Dacre made him apologise in his Mail column.
But Mackenzie is not really repentant because he is so stupid, he doesn't care what he is doing.  But when people continue to laugh at his behaviour, how could he be expected to learn? Even The Guardian thought his mimicking John Major was amusing.
Why should there be any tolerance of anyone speaking to a Prime Minister in the way Mackenzie did that day when the UK fell out of the ERM? That should be even more of a sackable offence than libelling Elton John and having to pay a million of Murdoch money in compensation yet Rupert was more concerned about the damages rather than the contempt he showed to Major.
Consider for a moment how this will be viewed by someone who is not a member of the tittering media classes but a judge or anyone who lives a vaguely respectable existence. What do you then make of Kelvin Mackenzie and, particularly, the fact that he was editor of The Sun for 13 years? How did he get away with it for so long? Because he was "successful". Because he made waves. Because he was amusing.
That is surely the conclusion Leveson will draw about the way the tabloid press operated. And will he really be persuaded that much has changed since the Mackenzie era, despite the soothing words of Dominic Mohan?

Monday, 9 January 2012

Slow train to nowhere

HIGH speed 2, the proposed super-fast train service from London to Birmingham, isn't only a monumental waste of £32 billion for the sake of knocking off a few minutes from the journey.
It is another step on the road of Beechifying the railways.
Dr Beeching was the technocrat who, in the '60s, destroyed this country's train network.  By axing two-thirds of the lines and leaving only main routes, he changed what had been a comprehensive network which allowed easy access to most of the population into one which fundamentally travelled between major cities and towns.
Now comes the next step. If you want to travel from London to Birmingham - or Birmingham to London, of course - HS2 will be fine for you, though it's sure to be even more expensive than at present. But most people don't want to go all the way. They are commuters who travel in and out of London and in and out of Birmingham. Not to mention all those who commute in and out of dozens of other cities and major towns and hundreds, if not thousands, of smaller towns and villages.
That is where the crush is, as anyone who has travelled on rush-hour trains (which obviously doesn't include politicians or the business leaders pushing for HS2) knows. Where is the analysis of what is wrong with our rail system and what can be done to put it right? There isn't one.  
The Government has picked up a lunatic Adonis idea and run with it because it is a grand project and will put huge sums into the pockets of the construction industry. 
The problem for people who live in rural areas isn't particularly that their beautiful countryside will be despoiled but that they will get absolutely no benefit from high speed rail. But they will still have to pay for it through their taxes.