Wednesday 3rd of March 2021

ghost of thatcher with a dash of hitler


David Cameron is facing a desperate fight to prevent Conservative divisions over Europe from wrecking his showpiece Tory party conference after Ireland voted decisively in favour of the Lisbon treaty.

About 67% voted Yes to the reform proposals, which will create a new European Union president, possibly Tony Blair, and a more powerful foreign policy chief. The decision means that the treaty, which started life as the Constitutional treaty eight years ago, is now likely to become law across the 27-nation community before any UK general election.

As the Tory party headed to Manchester, determined to show itself united and ready for power after 12 years out of office, there were signs that the same divisions over Europe that tore the party apart under Margaret Thatcher and John Major were resurfacing in the wake of the Irish result.

Senior figures on the eurosceptic wing of the party, led by London mayor Boris Johnson, demanded that Cameron call a referendum early in his first term in government, even if the treaty has come into force. Cameron has promised to hold a vote only if it has not become law by the time he enters No 10.

In an intervention that will anger the Tory leader, Johnson said in a Sunday Times interview that voters in this country would be "jealous" of their Irish counterparts if they were denied a say and made clear a vote should be held, even if the treaty had already been rubber-stamped. "I do think it would be right for such a debate to be held, particularly if the upshot of the Lisbon treaty is going to produce President Blair," Johnson said.

tweedledum far worse than tweedledee...

Last night it emerged that another of Cameron's European allies had been accused of holding extreme views after backing anti-gay legislation in Lithuania. Valdemar Tomasevski, an MEP and a member of the Tories' European coalition, voted for a Lithuanian law on 16 June that bans discussion of homosexuality, not only in schools but in any forum open to young people.

cutting the incapacity benefit bill...

The Conservatives say they would pay for their £600m plan to "get Britain working" by cutting the incapacity benefit bill.

People on employment support allowance who are deemed fit to work would be put on the jobseeker's allowance, reducing their benefits by £25 a week.

All incapacity benefit claimants would be assessed to see if they could work.

The government has also announced a scheme to get more of the long-term unemployed into training'


Why don't they get the Banks to pay for all the "schemes" and reduce bank CEOs' salaries down to the level of the unemployment benefit?....


Millions of people will have to work up to the age of 66 from as early as 2016 under Tory plans to raise the retirement age in a bid to cut Britain's budget deficit.

The shadow chancellor, George Osborne, will announce tomorrow that he will raise the state pension age 10 years earlier than the government planned. The Tories claim the move would slice an estimated £13bn a year off government spending, making a sizeable inroad into a deficit that is due to reach £175bn next year.

The controversial change, extending the working lives of millions, will affect all men and women under the age of 58.

Osborne will say the increase in the pension age must be implemented sooner if the government is to meet a pledge for the next parliament to restore the basic state pension links with earnings, as opposed to prices. "This is another one of those trade-offs any honest government has to confront," Osborne will tell the conference. "All parties accept that to afford that, with an ageing population, the state pension will have to rise."


The banks screw up — methink deliberately —, the CEOS of banks cash in megabonuses ripped from the heart of public funding and the oldies get stuffed. Typical.

pay-for-view/read rupert's blog...

News Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch says he has great confidence in the future of newspapers, despite the toll that the recession has been taking.

Mr Murdoch says the past year was one of the most challenging in the company's 56-year history.

"I'm pleased to report, however, that we anticipated the strength and length of this downturn early on and we were well prepared to face it," he told News Corporation's annual shareholders meeting in the US.

He says the Wall Street Journal is the only newspaper to have expanded its print and online subscriptions during the recession.

Mr Murdoch has also told investors his current view of the economy is that there is not going to be another steep decline, but nor will there be a steep increase.

His comments come as some of America's other big companies reveal that they too are struggling with the challenging economic environment.

Mr Murdoch says he has great faith in the future of newspapers, although newspapers will be the wrong term because they will be electronically delivered.


see toon at top and Gus' view...

meddling a blank czech...

Leaders of three of the most powerful states in Europe have strongly criticised David Cameron at the EU summit over a Conservative attempt to scupper the Lisbon treaty.

Nicolas Sarkozy, Angela Merkel and José Luiz Rodríguez Zapatero are understood to have privately criticised the Tory leader after he sent a handwritten letter to the Czech president, Vaclav Klaus, who has been refusing to sign the treaty. The letter was seen as an attempt to influence the Czech Republic, which is the only country not to have ratified the treaty.

Senior British sources familiar with thinking at the highest levels of the EU say the French, German and Spanish leaders all raised questions about Cameron's letter.

It is understood that Cameron encouraged the Czech president to delay ratification of the Lisbon pact by setting out Tory policy to hold a referendum in Britain on the treaty if it had not yet been ratified by all member states.


see toon at top and Gus' view...

So... We now know where the influence on the blank czech comes from...Since we know also his Czech parliament has approved the Lisbon treaty..

And I would not be surprised to find, in a few months from now, that Cameron has secret support coming from powerful organisations in the US, including the Republicans...

goodbye mr M...

Rupert Murdoch has said he will try to block Google from using news content from his companies.

The billionaire told Sky News Australia he will explore ways to remove stories from Google's search indexes, including Google News.

Mr Murdoch's News Corp had previously said it would start charging online customers across all its websites.

He believes that search engines cannot legally use headlines and paragraphs of news stories as search results.


As seen on Media Watch last night ( 09/11/09) some of Mr Murdoch's news content is not worth the megabytes they come in. But then by blocking Google quoting "his" cherished news, there is a good chance the Murdoch empire of reportage will vanish into obscurity. Mr M will be left with the TV channels to promulgate his propaganda and even these pay TV dinosaurs could become moribund in five years. Who knows...

see toon at top...

and a sprinkle of god...

David Cameron has said he is a Christian who believes in God and goes to church, although "not as regularly as I should".

The Conservative leader said Sunday School was one of his earliest memories, but said he does not "drop to my knees" and ask for help in a crisis.

However Mr Cameron added his Christian faith is a "part of who I am".

His comments on the BBC's Songs of Praise diverge from other party leaders who have not discussed their beliefs.

Mr Cameron was brought up in an old rectory and told BBC One's Songs of Praise, which was filmed in his Oxfordshire constituency of Witney, that his family were "relatively regular churchgoers".


see toon at top...

war on the empire today...

Lord Mandelson declared war on the Murdoch empire today when he accused News Corporation of maintaining an "iron grip" on pay television and warned that the company wants to import rightwing Fox News-style journalism to Britain.

In his strongest attacks on News Corp since the Sun abandoned its support for Labour hours after Gordon Brown's party conference speech, the business secretary accused the company of imperilling the traditions of British broadcasting.

Mandelson's intervention came as Rupert Murdoch faces a growing fight with the Australian government over a controversial tax avoidance scheme put in place when News Corp moved its headquarters to the US. Sydney tax commissioners claim that an elaborate series of legal manoeuvres, dubbed "flip and spin" by News Corp, wrongly deprived authorities in Australia, Britain and the US of billions of dollars in capital gains tax.

see toon at top...

tory party and inland revenue of a non-dom...

from the First Post

Ashcroftgate is far from over. More evidence is emerging that the man who bankrolls the Tory party reneged on a promise to become a British tax-payer in return for a seat in the House of Lords in 2000. The Inland Revenue is facing calls to investigate his afairs. And the opposition is continuing to enjoy itself at the Tories’ expense.

The Guardian claims today that it has seen documents which show that William Hague, the Tory leader at the time, gave repeated assurances to Prime Minister Tony Blair and to Lord Thomson, chairman of the Lords scrutiny committee, that Michael Ashcroft, whose interests are mainly in Belize, would return to the UK and end his status as a tax exile.

The documents show that concern over Ashcroft's tax status was the key reason why he was refused a peerage in 1999 and 2000.

On March 23, 2000, Blair wrote to Hague telling him that Thomson's committee was "unable to approve the recommendation for Mr Michael Ashcroft for the forthcoming list of peerages". Within hours, Ashcroft had written to Hague, giving his "clear and unequivocal assurance" that he would be permanently resident in the UK before the end of the year. A week later his peerage was duly announced.

But, as it has transpired in recent days, some sort of fudge was apparently agreed, involving a senior civil servant and a Tory whip, which meant Ashcroft need only declare himself a "long-term resident". Whether it was intended or not, as a result of that agreement Ashcroft was able to remain a non-dom for tax purposes and avoid paying millions of pounds in income tax.

Lib Dem Chris Huhne, one of those leading the calls for an inquiry by the tax authorities, believes Ashcroft has avoided paying £127m in tax over the past decade.

The nature of that "long-term resident" deal looks likely to exercise Westminster for days to come unless someone can nail down precisely who said what and why.


From the Guardian

Lord Ashcroft admitted on Monday that he was a "non-dom" – only paying tax on his British income. After refusing to answer any questions about what he knew and when, Hague finally elaborated in an interview on Radio 4's The World Tonight. The former Conservative leader revealed he had only recently discovered the terms of the arrangement that allowed Ashcroft to remain a non-dom. He was asked whether the "first he had known" of the arrangement was when Ashcroft revealed it at the start of the week. Hague replied: "Well, I knew in advance of that."

Hague was pressed on exactly when he had found out. He said: "Over the last few months I knew about that; and of course I was keen to support him then in making his position public."


see toon at top...

training conferences

from the Guardian

Tory parliamentary candidates have undergone training by a rightwing group whose leadership has described the NHS as "the biggest waste of money in the UK", claimed global warming is "a scam" and suggested that the waterboarding of prisoners can be justified.

At least 11 prospective Tory candidates, an estimated seven of whom have a reasonable chance of winning their seats, have been delegates or speakers at training conferences run by the Young Britons' Foundation, which claims to have trained 2,500 Conservative party activists.

The YBF chief executive, Donal Blaney, who runs the courses on media training and policy, has called for environmental protesters who trespass to be "shot down" by the police and that Britain should have a US-style liberal firearms policy. In an article on his own website, entitled Scrap the NHS, not just targets, he wrote: "Would it not now be better to say that the NHS – in its current incarnation – is finished?"

Blaney has described the YBF as "a Conservative madrasa" that radicalises young Tories. Programmes have included trips to meet neo-conservative groups in the US and to a shooting range in Virginia to fire submachine guns and assault rifles.


see toon at top

lord of misleadingshire...

Under false pretenses

The row over Lord Ashcroft's donations to the Tory party threatened to erupt into a full-blown constitutional crisis last night as questions were raised over whether the Queen and the former prime minister, Tony Blair, had granted him a peerage under false pretences.

As David Cameron's aides confirmed that Ashcroft would be retiring as Tory deputy chairman after the election, the Liberal Democrats called on the cabinet secretary, Sir Gus O'Donnell, to publish all documents relating to the peerage as a matter of urgency, so that it could be established whether the sovereign had been misled.

In a letter to O'Donnell, the Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman, Lord Oakeshott, said that, given the "overwhelming public interest" in how the Tories' biggest donor came to be elevated to the Lords, it was vital "to establish whether the Queen conferred a life peerage… under false pretences".

the goose and the gander

From the Guardian

But Mandelson said what was significant was not Ashcroft's tax status, but what Cameron had done about it, and he used the affair to question Cameron's modernising credentials.

"This is not actually about non-doms or donations. For all the complexity of Ashcroft's financial affairs, the story is a simple one," Mandelson said.

"William Hague [Tory leader in 2000] gave very clear undertakings to then prime minister Tony Blair and to parliament," said Mandelson, referring to the letter from Hague saying Ashcroft was "committed to becoming resident [in the UK] … to fulfil his responsibilities in the House of Lords" and that this would cost him "tens of millions a year in tax".

But those undertakings "have not been met", the business secretary said.

"For 10 years that fact has been concealed from the British people. During that time, David Cameron and William Hague have repeatedly said that the undertakings were being met. So either they were misleading people or they were being misled by Ashcroft. Which is it?

"Either way, Mr Cameron has shown extraordinary weakness. If he knew the truth, he should have fired Ashcroft. If not, why was he too afraid to ask Ashcroft the awkward direct question?"


see toon at top....

UK eager to be involved...

The new coalition government will be "assertive" in its dealings with Europe, Foreign Secretary William Hague has said.

Before the election some people believed a Conservative administration would be disengaged from Europe.

But Mr Hague told the BBC that other European countries would find the UK eager to be involved.


Gus: involved  — except in the rescue of the Greek and that of other countries "in need of help"... But I believe that behind this brave generous face may lie the subconscious fear of being expelled out of "Europe"... see toon at top.


seeing murdoch's more often than going to church...

The scale of private links between David Cameron and News International was exposed for the first time last night, with the Prime Minister shown to have met Rupert Murdoch's executives on no fewer than 26 occasions in just over a year since he entered Downing Street.

Rebekah Brooks, who was forced to resign yesterday as chief executive of Mr Murdoch's Wapping titles over the escalating phone-hacking scandal, is the only person Mr Cameron has invited twice to Chequers, a privilege not extended even to the most senior members of his Cabinet.

James Murdoch, News Corp's chairman in Europe and the man responsible for pushing through the BSkyB bid, was a guest at the Prime Minister's official country residence eight months ago. And the former NOTW editor Andy Coulson – who was arrested this week on suspicion of bribing police officers and of phone hacking – was invited by Mr Cameron to spend a private weekend at Chequers as recently as March.


My title of this piece refers to Cameron claiming to be a christian "but not going to church often enough..." see toon at top...