Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Minister for the Arms Trade

“People who decry the defence industry should hang their heads in shame because it is a noble industry” new minister Gerald Howath MP once said. But then someone with such a close and long term association with the arms industry would say that, wouldn’t they?

Whilst a frontbench spokesman for defence under Michael Howard, Howarth was slammed in 2004 for providing a weapons lobbyist with a one of his allocated parliamentary staff passes.  Michael Wood of lobbyists Whitehall Advisers (whose clients  included BAE Systems  and Airbus) who are the backbone of the UK’s billion pound arms industry. Like Caroline Spelman and her farming interests, David Cameron seemingly does not consider Howarth’s past connections to be an issue. Howarth has been made the parliamentary Under Secretary for Defence. He now has a direct role in arms procurement.

It’s not as if Howarth hasn’t used his position before to help the arms trade. Take his constant parliamentary questions about contract renewal, or just a cursory glance over the parliamentary room bookings for the last few years, time and time again he allowed his name to be used to rent out rooms in parliament to his mates in the arms industry. Bookings a plenty for Rolls Royce, air industry groups and defence procurement experts. Howarth has openly admited his close relationship with the industry and never really sought to have anything but a close relationship with arms manufacturers, but serious questions should be posed. At a time of war, how do the public know that they are getting the best deal in this controversial but necessary trade rather than what is best for his friends?

Guido has more to come on this one…

Balls Lies at His Launch

At his leadership campaign launch Balls was asked the killer ultra-marginal question:- why should Labour supporters back him to beat the Tories when his own personal vote went down. He claimed that he faced in his constituency “the largest BNP membership in the country”. Simply not true.

In reality he had a 9.3% swing to the Conservatives in his constituency against a national swing of just over 5%. The BNP went from 7.8% of the vote down to 7.2% of the vote in his constituency.  The BNP actually lost ground in his constituency and the issue  of immigration had nothing to do with him turning a safe seat into an ultra-marginal.  That piece of spin is complete and utter balls….

UPDATE : Have just given the listeners to BBC Leeds the benefit of Guido’s analysis of the Labour leadership campaign so far, advocating in all honesty as preferred candidate “Ed Balls, but then I don’t like the Labour Party”.

Taxi for Nick Robinson

Despite a shaky start to the year, the BBC‘s Nick Robinson didn’t cock-up during the election like some were expecting him to do. The fact that both Labour and Tory activists were complaining about his bias towards the other probably means he was pretty even-handed. Either way his future as Political Editor is being widely speculated upon, with some suggesting that he will be heading to Newsnight or the Today program. Which leaves a very coveted role up for grabs.

Four names see to be doing the rounds already. Mandrake tips ITV‘s Tom “Gordon’s weird” Bradby, though he would have a fight on his hands against the BBC‘s feisty Laura Kuenssberg who has won over many a fan in the last few months. Jon Sopel also had a very good election. Getting out from behind the news desk on the Campaign Show was key and he does a solid interview. Other wild card contenders with a shot have to be C4‘s Cathy Newman, though as with Adam Boulton at Sky, she is arguably too associated with the C4 News brand.

The jump from reporting up to broader analysis and comment would traditionally have been done on experience, but this race is wide open. The knives are being sharpened behind Robinson’s back. As he once said – that’ll teach him…

+ + + Eric Illsley MP Charged With False Accounting + + +

Eric Illsley the Labour MP for Barnsley Central has been summoned to Westminister Magistrates for three charges of false accounting in his expenses.

Oink.

UPDATE: Seems there was some discrepancy in council tax claims. Illsley claimed £10,000 over four years  for a Lambeth Band C property. The cost was barely half that.

Evidence Based Blogging

Simple Simon Uncut

Ex-Labour MP Sion Simon has launched a new mulit-authored blog “Labour Uncut” to cover the leadership race. The grassroots are well represented with posts from Benjamin Wegg-Prosser and John McTernan.  It won’t be too hard for it to be more successful than Simon’s last foray into the digital world. So far the blog is a bit of an elongated yawn.

This is not the first time Simon has attempted to providing insight and comment though. Regular readers will remember his infamous September 2007 New Statesman article:

“Shortly there will be an election, in which Labour will increase its majority, and in so doing utterly shatter the glass paradigm of cyclical politics which has contained us for the century since 1906. This ought to herald another decade of strong, confident, consensual Labour government.

For, that, indeed, is what this madness is: it’s the hour that we see that the march never ends. We’ve learned that we cannot be killed. And we’ve come to accept that we’ll never go home.”

With such a shrewd analysis and the gift of such foresight, the website is going to be a must read…

The Spectre of Sovereign Collapse Haunts Europe

Most of the non-financial Dead Tree Press has been so focused on the election that they haven’t noticed that Europe’s financial markets are in meltdown, the euro is plunging and a spectre is haunting Europe — the spectre of sovereign collapse. All the powers of old Euro have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre:
The latest down-payment for the euro-project is a €14.5 billion bail-out of Greece propped up by Germany, France, Italy, Spain and six other EU countries.  The German banking sector is thought to have a €34 billion exposure to Greece, panic has hit not just the euro, but the banks hitherto lauded by the likes of Will Hutton as paragons of financial rectitude so unlike the risk-taking City of London.

The German authorities are in panic and have banned short-selling in Allianz, Commerzbank, Deutsche Bank and Deutsche Postbank – the most blue chip of German banking pride – in a move which will surely see foreign investors sell their holdings it has already driven the euro to a four-year low overnight.  The euro project is built to fail without a unified fiscal and tax regime, sooner or late, as eurosceptics have predicted from the outset, the euro will be torn apart.

Euro politicians are now blaming speculators – a sure sign that they want to shoot the messenger – speculators are the harbingers of economic reality, not the creators.  The euro is at a four-year low for good economic reasons, not because traders are shorting it.

Britain is spared this financial contagion as it stands in splendid isolation from the European Central Bank.  Let us hear no more from europhiles on the laughable “stability” that joining the euro will bring.


Seen Elsewhere

Hunt Told Off By Former Head | TES
Scrap Tax on Family Flights | ConHome
Has May Declared War on Downing Street? | James Kirkup
The Nasty Left | Dan Hodges
Men Flock to UKIP | Andrew Cadman
London-Britain Divide | Alex Wickham
Pickles Puts Prezza’s Surplus Stationary to Use | Speccie
How Capitalists Can Win the Argument | CapX
Theresa May, or Maybe Not | Spectator Life
YouGov: Working Class Prefers UKIP to Labour | Times
Sainsbury’s Disowns Left-Wing Blogger | Mail


Find out more about PLMR AD-MS


A ‘senior Conservative party official’ passes judgement on Theresa May:

“She is boring. A technocrat. She is Philip Hammond with a fanny. Not interesting, but rendered interesting by circumstance. And that circumstance is that she is a woman. And in an age when the Prime Minister gets it in the neck for refusing to wear a fucking T-shirt that says he is a feminist, that is a rocket boost right underneath you.”



Left on Left says:

The lefties are attacking because the panellist is a millionaire and lives in a London home worth upwards of two million. Someone had best tell them he’s called Ed Miliband.


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