Monthly Archives: September 2013

Telegraph Comment of the Week (#9)

This week’s comment comes from another one of those morons who thinks fascism and Nazism is “left-wing” and “socialist”. Who said right-wingers weren’t thick? What’s so ironic is that many of them had the most expensive education money could buy and yet, they still turned out stupid. People like this don’t really need to excel at school, because they will always inherit the family pile or will land themselves a nice cushy City job thanks to their relationship with the Queen Mother’s equerry. With that kind of social capital, how on earth can anyone fail?

Today’s comment was found on The Moonie’s blog and comes from “Hawthorn”.

Hawthorn headbanger

There isn’t a facepalm big enough for this comment. Let’s remind ourselves of Generalissimo Francisco Franco y Bahamonde’s politics. Franco wasn’t a full fascist, he was a reactionary conservative. The state of which he was head was a corporatist state, where deals were cut between the Generalissimo and corporate big-wigs during hunting trips. The Falangist Party – which contained many fascists and were Franco’s most fervent supporters – occupied high government office. Franco fused this party with Carlist  (monarchist) elements, making this party authoritarian but not fully fascist.

During the Spanish Civil War, Franco’s Condor Legion was supplied and supported by Hitler’s Nazis and Mussolini’s Fascists. I can’t think of any left-wing governments that sought support from the Nazis. Can you?

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The Cat’s Preview of the Tory Party Conference

The Tory Party conference begins on Sunday and the Cat expects to hears the following words:

  • It’s Labour’s fault
  • We’re cleaning up the mess the Labour government left us
  • The Conservative Party stands up for hardworking families/taxpayers who do the right thing and who want to get on in life.

The last one is quite important to the Tories because, in their eyes, this slogan works as a substitute for real ideas and acts as a means to divide people along the usual lines of public/private, young/old, able-bodied/disabled, waged/unwaged and so on.

Patrick Wintour in The Guardian tells us that the Conservatives have produced a “6 point pledge card to win back working class voters”.

The card is due to be launched next Monday in a Manchester pub, and the idea likely to be examined carefully as Tories seek to fend off claims that their party is for the rich, or has become insensitive to the crisis in living standards. The Conservatives do not have a single councillor in Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield or Liverpool.

The pledge card, which mirrors New Labour’s initiative in 1997, will promise free party membership for trade unionists, the building of 1m new homes over the course of a parliament, an increase in the minimum wage funded by a cut in employers’ national insurance, a cost-of-living test for every policy item and a cabinet minister to “take action for the consumer against rip-off companies”.

The sense of desperation is palpable. But it should come as no surprise to readers that Policy Exchange was involved in this ruse. Remember them? They’re the ‘non-partisan’ think-tank that proposed the North of England should be abandoned and its denizens live in leafy Oxfordshire instead.

It has been founded by David Skelton, a former deputy director of the thinktank Policy Exchange. Born in Consett, Co Durham, he is a rare northern voice in the party and stood for North Durham at the last election.

Skelton believes the Conservatives can win in the long term as the new workers’ party. He said there were four overlapping groups to which the Tories have failed to appeal: working class voters, northern urban voters, ethnic minority voters and people outside the Tory heartlands

Excuse me while I split my sides. One of those who supports this idea is Matthew Hancock, who’s on TURC’s parliamentary council. Another supporter is Laura Sandys, daughter of Duncan Sandys, a former defence secretary and member of the Monday Club. Ms Sandys is a member of the Free Enterprise Group, which includes fellow headbangers, Dominic Raabid and Kwasi Kwarteng, whose views on British workers are well known.

Another laughable idea is Eric ‘Pie Man’ Pickles’s wonderfully barking idea of letting people park on double yellow lines. It hasn’t occurred to the Sontaran that double yellow lines are there for safety reasons.

The Tory Party conference, which is being held in the very northern city of Manchester, will be met by a massive protest of health service workers, the Socialist Party, the People’s Assembly, Left Unity, Unite the Union, the TUC and many more besides. If you’re in Manchester this weekend, give the chinless bastards hell from me.

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Life on Hannan World (Part 10)

One of these days, Dan Hannan will write a blog with the title “Eurosceptics Make Better Lovers” or perhaps “Eurosceptics do it 5 times a night”.  Sometime back in 20o7, the Lyin’ King claimed that “Euro-sceptics make dazzling linguists”. Oh, how I laughed.

Today’s blog is just a silly and has the eye-catching headline “It’s an odd thing, but Euro-enthusiasts are often awkward around foreigners”. Yeah, I laughed at it too. At the top of the blog is a photo of Reagan and Thatcher and I’m not sure what he’s trying to say with this image. It appears to be unrelated.

Hannan has the finest education that money can buy and he still manages to write drivel like this:

Here’s a thing I’ve noticed. Eurosceptics are often better at socialising with people from other countries than are Euro-enthusiasts. It’s not a hard-and-fast rule, obviously, and there are plenty of exceptions. Nor is there any way to measure the phenomenon scientifically. Still, I can’t help remarking on the difference.

Really? How about you show us your field notes? Notice how he offers us the disclaimer “It’s not a hard-and-fast rule, obviously, and there are plenty of exceptions. Nor is there any way to measure the phenomenon scientifically”. If that’s the case, then why bother telling us this? He knows he’s bullshitter and he wants to ‘cover his back’ – so to speak.

In blogs like this, the Lyin’ King wants to reassure himself  and his ilk that he and they are better than those who take an opposing position. Here’s the opener:

Back in the palaeo-federalist EPP, MEPs worked together well enough on committees, but usually dined with their own compatriots (except when the dinner was organised, and paid for, by a lobbyist). Our current bloc, the Euro-realist ECR, is the scene of far more cross-border fraternising. Indeed, ours has become the first Group to have adopted (in practice rather than in theory) a single language. Where Continental Euro-federalists often insist on interpretation, Eurosceptics are almost always happy to speak English. The equivalent is true of Britons: our most determined Euro-zealots tend to have atrocious language skills.

You’ve lost me, Danny. What on earth are you talking about? He continues:

These thoughts are prompted by a couple of days spent in the enjoyable company of the European Young Conservatives at their Freedom Summit. There were around 160 people present from 37 countries, from Portugal to Finland, from Iceland to Turkey. They represented mainstream Right-of-Centre parties, were generally in their early or mid-twenties, and had a refreshing belief in liberty, enterprise and patriotism. In accordance with good free-market principles, all had paid to be there.

Ah, the supposedly “Right-of-Centre parties” that are united in their disgust of all things EU, yet are quite happy to take their salaries from the institution they claim to despise. Hypocrisy? Oh yes.

I couldn’t help feelng that they were having a much better time than their equivalents do at taxpayer-funded events run by Euro-federalists. One of the speakers, a London Assemblyman and former soldier called James Cleverly, light-heartedly told delegates to have more sex, on grounds that “we mustn’t let the Left outbreed us” – and I’m pretty certain that some of the young people took him at his word. (Attendees ran the full spectrum from libertarian to conservative.)

Ha ha! Very funny. “The Left” is outbreeding “us”. Nothing like a nice reductionistic narrative that is reduced even further to the act of sexual congress. Then at the end of the paragraph, Hannan tells us that the “Attendees ran the full spectrum from libertarian to conservative”. “Libertarians”, huh? More like grown-up men who haven’t quite managed to grow up.

I’m going to skip the next paragraph, because this one is just priceless:

To put it another way, Eurosceptics know that patriotism is not chauvinism. They cheer the patriotism, and cherish the liberty, of other countries. Rather than tiptoeing around the things that make people different, they delight in them. All of which makes for easier relations.

“Patriotism is not chauvinism”? Come again? Notice how the Lyin’ Kings links the word “patriotism” to “liberty” as though these things were analogous. They aren’t, of course.

The final paragraph tells us:

By the way, the Freedom Summit is now an annual event, held in Cambridge every September. And there are plenty more EYC conferences, events and training weekends all over the continent. If you’re under 30, Centre-Right and in Europe, do get involved.

Hilarious. These pencil-necked, chinless wonders seriously believe that they have a monopoly on the word “freedom”. Of course, their concept of freedom is your slavery.

Next week, Dan will explain why Euro-sceptics write better poetry. I can’t wait.

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Filed under Conservative Party, Europe, European Union, Government & politics

Dirty Tricks and British Politics: something and nothing

Damian McBride: he likes a drink. Can’t you tell?

The Damian McBride story has landed into the laps of the Tories at just the right time. For the Labour party it’s the wrong time. But do the Tories really have anything to crow about? Not really.

The Tories use dirty tricks all the time and the press says nothing. Dr Julian Lewis infiltrated the Labour Party in 1976 and spent years taking CND to court in a bid to prove that it was being funded by the USSR. Lewis wrote the following in a letter to the editor of The Times in 1983:

You are quite correct, however, to challenge CND claims of non-partisanship. Last year’s political complexion of what you term to be “clearly a left-wing front” was mild compared to the new team of 26 officers and national council members just elected at Sheffield.

How strange that The Freedom Association (which bankrolled Lewis’s effort to infiltrate Labour), for instance, should describe itself as “non-partisan” yet have such close relations with the Conservative Party, UKIP the Libertarian Alliance, the Taxpayers’ Alliance and even the United Kingdom’s security services. The stench of hypocrisy is overpowering.

Back to McBride. He is certainly a nasty piece of work. But The Cat wonders if McBride wasn’t encouraged to release his book in time for the annual Labour Party  conference this week by certain people. Nudge, nudge. Wink, wink.

The right-wing press is cock-a-hoop. Here’s what the Telegraph said:

Mr McBride’s book has awakened the party’s painful memory of the rift between disciples of Mr Brown and those MPs and activists who were loyal to Mr Blair. Mr McBride was a fanatically loyal supporter of Mr Brown, a man whom he says in some ways he “loved”.

Mr McBride left the government in disgrace in 2009 when it emerged that he sent a Labour colleague emails containing unfounded smears about Tory MPs for a website called Red Rag.

He now claims that this colleague, Derek Draper, has suggested that Mr Miliband may also have sent compromising emails and would “have problems” if they ever came to light.

The article then adds:

He now claims that this colleague, Derek Draper, has suggested that Mr Miliband may also have sent compromising emails and would “have problems” if they ever came to light.

Mr Draper was not available for comment on Saturday night.

However, a Labour source who knew both men said: “You can criticise Ed Miliband for many things but running a Damian McBride-style smear operation isn’t one of them.”

Derek Draper: he’s the one who looks as though he sleeps in a hedgerow and who’s married to Daybreak’s Kate Garraway. He was also involved in “Lobbygate” and “Smeargate“.  The latter, Smeargate, was  an attempt to smear senior members of the Tory party and can be seen as Labour’s attempt use the same Tory tactics that their auld enemy has used against them on numerous occasions. It didn’t work, but it’s an indication of the rottenness of the British political system and how deeply embedded into the system the practice of skulduggery is rooted.

The Daily Mail’s approach is more in line with one of its ‘kiss and tell’ celebrity stories. This is a description of an  interview that Nick Robinson, the former president of the Young Conservatives and the BBC’s present political editor apparently had with Gordon Brown:

The trouble started when BBC political editor Nick Robinson asked Gordon an apparently innocent question.

Assuming we won a joint bid with Scotland to stage the World Cup, whom would he support — England or Scotland?

Gordon gave the ‘clever’ answer he’d prepared: ‘I’ll be supporting the hosts!’ Nick shot back: ‘Even if they play Scotland?’ Gordon smiled and said: ‘Scotland will do very well.’

This interview took place in India in 2007, and Gordon thought it had gone well. I knew otherwise. Sure enough, as we crawled through the Mumbai traffic back to our hotel, one of our press officers rang me to say the Scottish papers were very excited and we had a major problem.

‘OK, mate,’ I replied calmly, holding the phone as far away from Gordon as I could, ‘take it easy and keep me posted’, as if he was telling me the cricket score.

‘What’s the problem?’ Gordon said. ‘Nothing,’ I lied.

‘I heard someone say “problem” — what’s the problem?’ he said, getting slightly irate.

I sighed. ‘OK, now don’t go mad. We’ll just need to clarify that interview so it doesn’t sound like you’d support England over Scotland.’

Yawn. This has the feel of stale bread… the taste of cold tea that’s been left on someone’s desk overnight. If you really want to read the rest of the article, click on this link.

Sure the dirty tricks were conducted inside the Labour Party, but this kind of thing happens in all political parties. I mean, how do you think Nick Clegg became leader of the Liberal Democrats? Through honest, upfront means? Get real. Then there was the knifing of Thatcher by her colleagues. What do you mean you haven’t heard about  it?

The dirty tricks that we should be concerned about are ignored by the mainstream media. When Julian Lewis’s involvement in the Reg Prentice case emerged, the press nary batted an eyelid and focussed on Prentice’s defection from Labour to the Tories in 1977 instead.

As the Leveson Report has shown us, even the British press can’t be trusted to report on the things that really matter. Why? Because most of the press is in the pocket of Tory party.

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Filed under Conservative Party, Journalism, Labour, Labour Party conference 2013, Media, Tory press

Telegraph Comment of the Week (#8)

This week’s comment comes from the not-so-subtly named “Great White”, who whines about the film Rush. This comment was left on Brendan ‘Don Quixote’ O’Neill’s blog.

Great White racist

Rush is a film about the rivalry between 70s Formula One racing drivers Nicky Lauda and James Hunt, so it was unlikely that there would be any black people involved.  But “Great White’s”  sense of victimhood is palpable. The idea of black people being involved in anything seems to irritate him more than anything else.

The comment underneath “Great White’s” paranoid comment is a joy.  Notice the way “Great White” has chosen an image of a great white shark as his avatar. Cute, eh?

Remember if you see a comment you think should be included in the Telegraph Comment of the Week, then drop me a line at buddyhell@hotmail.com

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Telegraph Comment of the Week (#7)

This week’s Telegraph comment comes from numbskull “josiexuereb”, who left this comment on Dan Hannan’s blog.

Josiexurb anti-Semite

Notice how “josiexuereb” skirts around history to promote the notion that the biggest threat of anti-Semitism comes from Islam rather than the far-right. She’s completely forgotten Edward I’s expulsion of the Jews and the persecution that took place immediately before that.

The comment left under that points out how the parties like Hungary’s Jobbik is openly anti-Semitic and anti-Ziganist (probably anti-Muslim too). No doubt someone will come along and claim that Jobbik is a “socialist” or “far-left” party as they usually do with the fascist BNP. Jobbik is actually a member of the EAF, a European Parliament grouping of far-right parties that includes the BNP. UKIP’s Godfrey Bloom also has close ties to the group.

So what prompted this comment? Hannan wrote a blog which claims that Shakespeare’s Shylock character in The Merchant of Venice “may be a greater incitement to anti-Semitism than the Protocols of the Elders of Zion”. Frankly, I think he’s tilting at windmills. Here’s a taste of the article.

No wonder anti-Semites in every age and nation seize gleefully on the play. No wonder Disraeli’s opponents used to shout “Shylock!” when he addressed Parliament. No wonder performances were so popular in fascist Europe in the 1930s. Even in the 1980s, I listened as a teenager to Peru’s President, Alan García, justifying his nationalisation of the country’s banks (one of which was owned by a Jewish family) by recalling the pound of flesh story. I wish I could say that García had missed the point of the play, but the awkward truth is that the theatre-goer is invited to spit upon Shylock with the otherwise high-minded Antonio; to declare with Gratiano, “O, be thou damn’d, inexorable dog!”

Hannan ignores how The Protocols has been used to assert an international Jewish conspiracy. This has far greater potency in the minds of anti-Semites than a character in a Shakespeare play.

I’ve just gone back to Hannan’s blog and noticed that the comment that replied to “josiexuereb” has been removed. I would suggest that what was said in that comment upset the Lyin’ King and his far-right readers.

UPDATE: 15/9/13 @1028

josiexuereb’s comment has been removed. Never mind, I still have a screenshot.

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Filed under anti-Semitism, Anti-Ziganism, Journalism, Media, racism, Society & culture, Telegraph Comment of the Week, Tory press

My Conversation With Thames Water

Or, to be more precise, my conversation with Thames Water’s Customer Insight and Resolution Team. Come again? “Customer Insight and Resolution”? Meaningless corporate speak, just like the reply I received from Thames Water regarding my complaint about their tax avoidance and proposal to increase charges. My replies appear in italics.

Water services

Dear Mr Hell

Thank you for your e-mail of 27 August 2013.

Tax

Recent press coverage of our tax liabilities has not adequately explained how infrastructure investment is actively incentivised by the Government through the longstanding policy of granting capital allowances to provide tax relief. This approach ultimately permits corporation tax to be deferred, not avoided.

This is largely impenetrable corporate-speak. However I shall do my best to translate: what you’re saying is that the government has effectively handed you a license to rip off customers and avoid paying your fair share of tax. Infrastructure investment should be made by those with the money… that’s your shareholders. They (supposedly) invest in your company. I do not. I have no shares in your company. Investors are supposed to invest. They’re supposed to ‘take the rough with the smooth’. Shareholding is a risky business and the value of shares can increase and decrease from moment to moment. One of the risks is the cost of keeping the business going. That means investment, but it seems as though your rentier capitalist shareholders don’t want to shoulder their responsibilities. But your point that tax is “deferred” sounds rather misleading. Either you pay tax or you don’t. I believe it is the latter.

Recent press coverage has created the impression that we’ve deliberately sought to escape paying our fair share of taxes, which is simply not the case.

Excuses, excuses. It’s easy to blame the press for your company’s greed. Thames Water has avoided paying corporation tax and I would suggest that it has done so deliberately. It certainly didn’t happen by accident. This year, Ofwat described the sums of money avoided by your company as “morally questionable”. Now you’re not going to tell me that the regulator is misrepresenting Thames Water are you? Here’s what the chair of Ofwat said:

 “In the complex offshore ownership of some [water] companies, a good number use high coupon shareholder loans to improve equity returns from the regulated entity and apparently to reduce tax liability. This is not for Ofwat, but may be morally questionable in a vital public service.

 We have not yet found a regulated water company that fully complies with the UK corporate governance code or satisfactorily explains why not”.

We haven’t been required to pay much corporation tax in recent years because the Government’s tax system provides for tax relief on capital investment, effectively deferring when it’s paid. The tax is deferred, not avoided, and there is currently nearly £1bn of deferred tax on our balance sheet, which will be paid in future years.

You’re repeating yourself here to some extent. I’d like for you to point me in the direction of the relevant HMRC framework. But it’s convenient that there’s an HMRC mechanism that allows you to avoid paying tax, when people like me have no choice but to pay the full amount. But hey, didn’t Thames Water receive a massive tax rebate of £5 million last year? That’s more than I could ever hope to receive in two lifetimes!

The HMRC mechanism for providing tax relief on future investment is known as capital allowances. The aim is to encourage firms like us to invest in modernising vital plant and machinery by providing tax relief on the investment. These allowances are granted automatically by HMRC to companies making relevant expenditure.

Interesting, yet you still increase water charges. There is no excuse and furthermore, it isn’t as if I can change water supplier. Thames Water has its customers over a proverbial barrel and it knows this.

Our Shareholders

The water industry is set up to make a profit so that we can carry out much-needed improvements to our water mains, sewers and other facilities. We also need to borrow a lot of money to help fund this work. In the same way you’d expect a bank to pay you interest on your savings, it’s only fair that we pay a return – or dividend – to shareholders for letting Thames Water use their money.

Rubbish. Water is seen as an easy way to make money. Everyone needs it to survive. Your analogy with interest paid on a savings account is over-simplistic and dishonest. If you could charge people for air, no doubt you’d do that too. Ordinary savings accounts offer little more than 3% these days. The truth of the matter is that Thames Water wouldn’t bother with improvements if the regulator didn’t force it to act. Most companies ask their shareholders to invest and at the risk of repeating myself, your shareholders clearly don’t take their responsibilities seriously and are more concerned with making vast sums of money at our expense.

By any meaningful benchmark, our directors are not overpaid.  They run a multi-million pound investment programme, delivering essential improvements of benefit to both customers and the environment.

What is a “meaningful benchmark”? You also keep repeating the word “investment” as if it were some sort of word of power. If shareholders invest in your company, then they should be required to pay up. Besides, as I indicated earlier, the regulator forces you to carry out improvements. Otherwise, Thames Water wouldn’t bother. And yes, your directors are paid handsomely…obscenely so I’d say. Indeed last year, your CEO, Martin Baggs salary was £425,00 and who knows how much his bonus will be next year? Last year it was £418,000, this year it was £274,000. That’s considerably more than the directors of the old water boards earned. You know something? In all the jobs that I’ve done in my 36 year working life I have never once received a bonus. Your company is practically allowed to print its own money.

Thames water is one of Britain’s top 100 international companies.  Globally we employ over 18,000 people serving 70 million customers in over 20 countries.  As such we are a significant contributor to the success of UK Plc.

Is this supposed to impress me? It’s PR guff. Then you close the paragraph with “UK plc”. The United Kingdom is not a “public limited company”, it’s a nation-state that allows companies like yours to cream off profits and increase charges arbitrarily. It’s what is commonly referred to these days as “spiv capitalism”.

Managing water and sewerage for our 13 million customers in London and the Thames Valley is a complex business that continues to require major investment.  To ensure that it is effectively managed, we have to offer remuneration that attracts and retains staff capable of leading this important work

So what am I supposed to do? Applaud you? Bow, scrape and tug my forelock? No. I am not alone when it comes to being appalled by Thames Water’s behavior. You increase water charges, while millions of gallons of water are lost in leaks every year – so much for your infrastructure improvements.  But it’s the way your company has told people like me that I have to pay for your bad debts. They’re your debts, you pay for them. I notice that you’ve not bothered to address this point. Why?

I hope this information is of use.  However, if you have any questions, please feel free to call me on 0845-6410033, extension 61594.

I’m not phoning an 0845 number, which is expensive when using a Virgin Media fixed line. That’s the final insult.

Yours sincerely

Chanèl Dziuban

Case Manager

Customer Insight & Resolution

Readers, I don’t expect a reply. But what a patronizing load of twaddle. Thames Water continues to increase its charges and tells us that we have to pay off their bad debts, while they laugh all the way to the bank. Its CEO is paid handsomely and receives a massive bonus each year. And it wants more of our money? Go to hell.

Here’s what Tony Montana would say:

Renationalize water NOW!

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