Thursday, 26 March 2015

The cameron Miliband leaders debeates. Pax that!

It was a very quick fire set up. Paxo reeled off question after question. 7 in 15 minutes. Gave Cameron about 30 seconds to reply. Paxo interrupted constantly, as is his usual inquisitor style, which probably allowed Cameron time to think. Paxman also asked some cheeky questions, which were a little unexpected . He made them quite personal. Not really about the party but the man. Cameron looked uncomfortable, but not damagingly so. Was more a case of the quickfire Paxo and questions without easy answers that made it difficult for him

  1. Could you live on a zero-hours contract, Prime Minister?
  2. Why did you hire Andy Coulson and Stephen Green. Why did you back Clarkson?
  3.  How much have you borrowed, Prime Minister? 
  4. You twice told me to my face PM, that you wouldn't raise VAT. Yet that was the first thing you did!
  5.  Where will welfare cuts fall?
  6. Why did you say you'd cut immigration when it has massively risen?
  7. What was you worst foreign policy decision ?
  8. Why did you rule out a third term ?

Cameron did fine on them all. He was probably weakest on the foreign policy and debt questions. Tried to explain Libya, and said no one knew warlords would take over. Well..a lot of people did say just that. Iraq was a bit of a giveaway. But he said it was never going to be troops on the ground.
And on the debt, when asked how much had he borrowed since 2010, he struggled to explain how borrowing more than even the most proliferate labour government was cutting the debt. 
But overall , no new converts, but no harm done.

The Q+A with the public was at a slower pace. Cameron remembered to call them by their first name and talk directly too them. Audience were restrained. Kay Burley asked each questioner afterwards if they were happy with the response. Which few were. More like Question Time this set-up. But the clock is running and Kay pushes the debate along very briskly. If this audience reflects the public mood, then its a Miliband government. Not overtly hostile but a definite them of no cuts and more spending set of questions.

Miliband opted for second. That meant he would have seen the aggressive Paxman assault and couldn't have done his nerves any good.
But he was straight on with the audience and not Paxman. 

I think he fluffed his first question. "You always sound gloomy ..are you gloomy. Are things really that bad?" to audience laughter. he says 'no..but they could be better.'
He should have laughed along and said 'I have much to be gloomy about.." and then launched into his tales of Tory cuts and zero hours contracts and such. Instead he just launched into the prepared answer.Which was a bit shallow.
Throughout he kept saying he was a Democratic Socialist. Stressed it. Maybe the Democratic bit was to woo ex-Social Democrats?

The questions were delivered at the same fast bowling pace.Here are some

Q: I’m a higher-rate taxpayer. Labour’s messages make me feel demonised.
 Q: If you are prime minister, what will the budget deficit be at the end of the parliament?
 Q: Why won’t you give people a vote on the EU?
 Q: Wouldn’t your brother do better job? He was better qualified.

The brother one probably gave him the most difficulty, but he's used to it and looked sincere.
And he handled the audience well enough. Probably slightly edged it over Cameron.

But then came his turn vs The Pax.
Not good, not good at all. 

Q Is Britain full?
Q Climate change levy on energy bills pushing up prices.
 Q: You’ve been wrong on unemployment, inflation and wages.
Q: Labour got immigration completely wrong. Some 400,000 people came in. What else did Labour do wrong?

 Q: Jim Murphy said the mansion tax was a way of taking money out of the south of England and giving it to Scotland.
Q how is it even your own MP's think you are a liability.
Q: As for Alex Salmond’s demands, will you scrap Trident?

The audience, or the lefty bit applauded Miliband. Twice. And groaned when his brother was mentioned. Must have been a different brief for Labour supporters as the conservatives were quiet hroughout.

The Guardian called it for Cameron. Because of his confidence and better grasp of figures. And Miliband's "I'm not going to be drawn" responses.. which looked evasive. And his "i don't care..i don't care' response to why his personal ratings are poor was very Brown like.
Guardian was right

Dave 7.5
Miliband 6.5

BBC Question Time - Durr bates edition

David Dimbleby presents topical debate from Bolton. On the panel are Conservative education secretary Nicky Morgan MP, Labour's leader in Scotland Jim Murphy MP, Plaid Cymru's leader Leanne Wood AM, Ukip immigration spokesman Steven Woolfe MEP, and broadcaster and Independent on Sunday columnist Janet Street-Porter.

Only 2 to go. I shall be away next week. So this might be the final..or not.

Q1. With a number of planes crashing, through suicidal pilots,should a 3 crew cockpit be a requirement?

Q2. Mili vs Camo  Worth the fuss ? 

Q3. Charlie's letters. Constitutional crisis .. Monarchy influences parliament ! Or just an old man sounding off ?

Q4. Dave rules out 3 rd term .. so what ?

Q5. Squeezed in Clarkson had to go .. A 30 second question for the panel to discuss to tick the impartiality box.

League Table 2015

Measured - 4
Kilgore Trout - 2
Hopper -2
 Nick Drew - 2
Dick the Prick - 2
Malcolm Tucker - 2
  Taff -2

 Budgie - 1
Blue Eyes - 1

Cityunslicker -1

 Adi -1

Charity Shield winner - Malcolm Tucker.

Will you watch the Election 'Debate' tonight?

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Putin Can Play Silly-B*****s, Too

The writers and visitors of this blog have long inveighed against the juvenile neocon policy of conducting hostile operations against Russia on the cheap by stirring up the various nests of hornets on the Bear's borders.  You can certainly get a rise out of Putin by baiting him thus, but it's not clever.

Doubly so when you realise how easy it is for little Volodya to reply in kind.   And yes, he's going to arm Argentina*; and just in case we hadn't noticed, a stooge makes the connection for us.  So now we must rush around and spend money in the South Atlantic again.  Such an easy game to play.

That post-election military review had better be a thorough one, if we need to consider every potential trouble-spot near and far where a few hundred thou of Russian gold could be put to mischievous use.  We could each come up with our own list of weak-points, I'm sure, and contemplating it won't make for sweet dreams.

* The SU-24 (NATO codename Fencer) mentioned in these reports is somewhat venerable, and likewise vulnerable; but it's a nasty turn of events all the same.  A wittier Russian riposte would be to supply Argentina with TU-22s  -  NATO codename Backfire ...

Special Pleading Election Deluge - Police Neutrality

No readers will be surprised to here that as my email addy is freely accessible I get a fair few green ink emails and also plenty of media PR emails on a daily basis. It an easy move to the delete box for the vast majority.
Of late though the bombardment is reaching a crescendo, what is noticeable is that they are all of a left-wing bent, with a variety of special pleading causes and outrageous claims about the Government, which of course is Tories because the magic word is cuts. Let's take today's example from the Police Federation - my highlights where it made me raise and eyebrow:
We are now just six weeks away from the General Election. As an apolitical staff association representing 124,000 police officers from the rank of constable to chief inspector across the 43 forces in England and Wales, we are writing to all Members of Parliament.... to ensure the public get the police service they want and deserve.
But we have a duty, on behalf of those officers we represent and the public we serve, to raise our grave concern that the quality of service we are able to provide to the public is already under immense strain. We have a genuine fear that any future cuts to the police budget, or further loss of police officers, will have such a detrimental impact that the British police service, will be irreparably damaged and changed forever.
Importantly though, so too will our ability to protect and serve all our communities effectively....
The demands on policing continue to increase, as we tackle new crimes, while still trying to deal with traditional crime in the face of dwindling budgets and resources. In recent years we have seen an increase in cyber-crime, a rise in the number of reported cases of sexual offences and child protection issues. These horrific and often hidden crimes require sufficient time and resources to tackle properly. We also face a new style of international terrorism which is hugely resource intensive to monitor and police effectively to prevent attacks and keep the British public safe. In addition to dealing with crime, increasingly police officers are also providing active support to safeguard vulnerable members of society, including those who are young and old.
In the last four years the police service has lost nearly 17,000 police officers and approximately 22,000 police support staff, resulting in police officers having to backfill some of these roles. The number of police officers per head of population is lower than at any time in the last 20 years, while other European nations have increased their numbers.....
Several chief constables are now talking openly about the threat to visible neighbourhood policing teams as they juggle the emergency response demands against a limited budget and fewer police officers.....
To help you gain a better understanding of how the changes are impacting across all forces, last week we launched our 'Cuts Have Consequences' microsite....
This supports the admirable work being undertaken at a local level to highlight how budget cuts have impacted on policing. This is about bringing to your attention the very real unintended consequences of cuts to the police service. The unintended consequence to our resilience to be able to deal with the large scale disorder we saw in towns and cities only a few years ago as police numbers fall. The unintended consequence of not being able to deal with minor crimes as resources are diverted to deal with emergency response calls. The unintended consequence of neighbourhood policing teams being cut back as forces are compelled to channel limited resources to priority areas....
The apolitical nature of the call is no such thing, when the term 'cuts have consequences' is so clearly aimed at the Conservative party. Plus Senior Police officers are now apparently speaking out freely on this issue - during an election campaign. So much for neutrality.
Even better is the unintended consequences section - where fantasy scenarios are created and alleged to be unsolvable. I love the whole minor crimes piece, as if we don't know the Police have long given up on this sort of crime - if they ever did take it seriously which i cannot ever recall in my lifetime.
They did not send the email in green ink, but I thought it more appropriate to its content. Of course what I read is that there have been continuous falls in crime over the last 5 years and that huge savings have been made whilst overall crime has continued to fall significantly. Furthermore a big drain on the Police is politically inspired investigations to crimes that took place before I was born and are hard to prove at best or investigations against the media which again in many cases have proved groundless. How much did these cost us?
Anyway, I would not expect much better from a Union but this piece over-hyped, factually inaccurate, posits hypotheticals as reality and overall does a huge disservice to the Police who they claim to be representing.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Reality Rains on the SNP's Parade

Just when the SNP's tails are up and they are looking forward to dictating terms in May, along comes one of those unwelcome intrusions of cold, dull, solid reality.  The very large Longannet power station in Fife now looks set to close next year, quite a bit sooner than many anticipated and certainly much too soon for any like-for-like replacement to be built in Scotland.

A brief account of what this means in electricity supply terms.  Longannet is the biggest power plant in Scotland and it is coal-fired, meaning it can produce electricity reliably on cold, still days.  This of course is in stark contrast to the wind-power which in terms purely of theoretical capacity is what is replacing it north of the border.  There won't be much reliable power left there soon, with Peterhead's capacity (gas) much reduced and the nuclear units at Hunterston and Torness also set to close.   Despite what many imagine, there really isn't as much hydro power in Scotland as its hills and rainfall might suggest. 

The SNP's vision is a Scotland producing "100% of its electricity needs" and indeed exporting surplus to England and Wales.  They like the gullible to imagine this means self-sufficiency for Scotland, and Salmond even claims Scotland's wind power "keeps the lights on on England": but it's at best a numerical sleight of hand, at worst a downright lie.  There are times when there is indeed a surplus when the wind is cooperating, but the coal / gas / nukes have to work hard when it isn't, and indeed there will always be times when imports are required from England.  If (in the green fantasy world) Scotland went fully "renewable" (= mostly wind), there would of course be times when massive amounts of imports would be required.

This is rather like the German situation writ small; and of course it makes Scotland utterly dependent on being a fully integrated part of a much bigger and much more reliable grid.  Economically, it has an uncomfortable further implication: exports will be when the wind is blowing nicely, and will be at rock-bottom prices.  (Germany sometimes exports at negative prices, i.e. is forced to dump "must-take" wind and solar power on its neighbours.)  Imports will be when the grid is struggling and will be at top-dollar, or whatever currency Salmond imagines he'll be using.

Now although there are greens and dumb-Nats who have unthinkingly swallowed the "100%" line (lots of 'em, as a cursory reading of Scottish websites and CiF will confirm) there will be fewer of those this morning as the realities of Longannet and post-Longannet are paraded across the media.

Needless to say, the SNP have found a way to blame the wicked English for the problem - "Grid charges are set deliberately to disadvantge Scotland" which, I need hardly add, is bollocks - and Longannet's owners, the Spanish (sic) have fed them this line.  Well of course: all power generators are down at the regulator's office with their greedy hands out these days.  

The Nats will be sorely disappointing the greens in the coming days because they'll be arguing for (a) a Longannet bail-out, just as the greens are celebrating its demise, and (b) a structural bail-out for Scottish power plants in general, to encourage someone to build a big new gas-fired plant to replace the coal-munching monster.   Amusingly, the only real prospect for this is if the fiercely-opposed plans of INEOS and others for Scottish 'unconventional' gas production (i.e. fracking and coalbed methane) come to fruition.  That ain't gonna be any time soon.

We have C@W readers who can judge the mood of Scottish voters better than I.  But I can't help thinking a blunt reinforcement like this of the dependency of Scotland on being part of an integrated UK set-up is a modest dousing of cold highland water.