Wonk Watch : IPPR Gives Staff P45s for Christmas

Guido understands that IPPR, the think-tank that did most of the thinking for New Labour in the beginning, has given half-a-dozen staff redundancy notices terminating their contracts on Christmas Eve.  Guido pointed out that their 21st anniversary party held in June had the feel of a wake about it.  As New Labour dies the accoutrements go with it… ippr

In an attempt to flesh out the story* Guido has been calling the IPPR press office all morning trying to get confirmation.  Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be anyone there to take the call…

*OK, Guido will admit, he was  just trying to find out if the tired and emotional PR hackette who gave him flack at the IPPR party had been sacked.

“You Can’t Have Politicians Stepping Into the Scientific Arena”

The sacked Professor David Nutt has turned the tables on Alan Johnson.  Johnson keeps repeating angrily that the professor should stay out of politics, the professor is squarely saying that politicians should stay out of the science. Dr. Les King has followed the professor and resigned as a government adviser, a third adviser Marion Walker, is said to be going. Drugs policy in this country is mad. You can get 5 years jail time for smoking a spliff, something millions of Britons do regularly. We hear baseless political propaganda about “skunk” and schizophrenia. The scientists have determined what users already knew, that this scare is myth. Professor David Nutt’s Eve Saville Lecture 2009 – the source of the controversy – is clear on this:

… schizophrenia seems to be disappearing (from the general population) even though cannabis use has increased markedly in the last 30 years. When we were reviewing the general practice research database in the UK from the University of Keele, research consistently and clearly showed that psychosis and schizophrenia are still on the decline. So, even though skunk has been around now for ten years, there has been no upswing in schizophrenia. In fact, where people have looked, they haven’t found any evidence linking cannabis use in a population and schizophrenia.

This was the Jacqui Smith and David Cameron excuse to justify their hypocrisy, dope today was different from the dope of their youth, skunk was supposedly some kind of dangerous super-marijuana.  Hypocritically Cameron was, according to his Etonian contemporaries that Guido has interviewed, a regular toker.  A bit of spliff didn’t seem to stop him getting into Oxford or getting a first in PPE.   He really does know better.

DruggiesIf things had gone slightly differently for David Cameron instead of being on the verge of becoming PM, he could be yet another former public school boy who ended up squandering his privileges and doing jail time for possession of cannabis and cocaine. The current President of America could just be another black ex-con from a broken home. Our drugs policy can not be determined by the Daily Mail’s Paul Dacre, who lives in an alternative drug-free reality.  Gordon Brown’s Calvinist mores don’t permit any room for people to do recreational drugs and his misguided claim that cannabis is lethal is just wrong.  Tobacco and alcohol kill far more people than all the other illegal recreational drugs combined.  Psilocybin (“magic”) mushrooms have been used by Britons for millenia, used by druids in the only indigenous religious ceremonies we have because they are found naturally all over these isles.  Guido has munched them on golf courses.  This has now been criminalised.

Nice people do drugs.  We need a grown up political conversation that shifts problem drug addicts out of the criminal judicial system and into the healthcare system.  The same as we do for alcoholics.  The lesson of Galileo should teach politicians that sacking scientists won’t make the earth flat.  Time to deal with the reality, not Dacre’s drug fantasies.

Source : [pdf] Estimating drug harms: a risky business? Professor David Nutt Eve Saville Lecture 2009

Rich & Mark’s Monday Morning View

Pope Dope

Cameron Flashback : “I Will Give This Cast-Iron Guarantee”

ConservativeHome’s Tim Montgomerie says the Lisbon Treaty Referendum is off.   Guido has dug out the September 2007 text of Cameron’s famous cast-iron guarantee to Sun readers.

lisbon_yes_noThe final reason we must have a vote is trust. Gordon Brown talks about “new” politics.  But there’s nothing “new” about breaking your promises to the British public. It’s classic Labour. And it is the cancer that is eating away at trust in politics.  Small wonder that so many people don’t believe a word politicians ever say if they break their promises so casually.  If you really want to signal you’re a break from the past, Prime Minister, do the right thing – give the people the referendum you promised.

dave signatureToday, I will give this cast-iron guarantee: If I become PM a Conservative government will hold a referendum on any EU treaty that emerges from these negotiations.  No treaty should be ratified without consulting the British people in a referendum.

If it is ratified what is the meaning of this promise?  The Tories will stand on a Eurosceptic ticket and they will be in government with a treaty that has not been sanctioned by a referendum.  Unless they turn the election itself into a referendum, which is risky.  Only if the Tory manifesto says “we will renegotiate our relationship with the EU thus…” will they be able to say they have consulted with and won a mandate from the British people. Will Ken Clarke go along with that?

UPDATE : The Bruges Group headbangers have gone nuclear, Barry Legg has released a statement:

“There was absolutely no wriggle room in the unambiguous pledge he made in September 2007. He offered a “cast iron guarantee” to put any treaty in front of the voters. Why has he changed his mind now? What has changed his mind now?

“It cannot be good enough for a man who wants to be British Prime Minister to hide behind the leader of any other European state. Václav Klaus is a hero in his own country for having stood up to Communism. David Cameron seemingly can’t even stand up for his own past promises.

“What is the point in David Cameron upending one pledge on Europe , but promising he’ll offer us yet more European promises in his general election manifesto? Why will they be any more credible than the ‘cast-iron guarantee’ he has just broken?

“How can David Cameron claim he’ll fight to repatriate powers from Brussels when he won’t even fight to implement his own past words?

Sir Christopher Kelly Reports on Wednesday, Who Will Win?
646 of Them, or 60 Million of Us?

The spin will be intense, it will be all-party, it will be relentless. They will squeal, they will plead, they will wriggle. In the end who will win?

Comparison

Guido has at times during the last 5 years fought what some political journalists thought a quixotic battle.  Don’t forget the Lobby wasn’t much interested on reporting this story until recently, Nick Robinson professed total surprise when he discovered MPs could claim £400 a month tax and receipt free for groceries.  Michael White has only recently dropped his oft repeated line that British politicians, unlike politicians in Europe, are uncorrupted.  The Lobby knew that MPs had plenty of fiddles, but by and large didn’t rock the boat and allowed them to get away with it, even in some cases justified it, arguing that their MP mates were underpaid, good blokes who they were happy to share a taxpayer-subsidised pint with.

pork-spotlightMPs almost universally claim to be hard done by, that needs to be nailed on the head.  The above chart is an income distribution chart; most people in this country have an income of under £400 a week, in comparison MPs can make some £300 weekly in expenses alone, add onto that their salaries of £800 a week and you have a total of £1,100 a week net of tax.  This is before adding on the illicit perks of the jobs, such as employing family, or just plain old fraud.   Let us not forget their gold-plated pension scheme either.  The total compensation package comes in at £115,000 to £125,000 depending on how you value the pension and the tax-free portions of the package.  So well done to Chloe Smith, at the age of 27 with no experience to speak of, she bags an annual six-figure package, 3 months summer holiday, another month off in December and the least number of working days in parliament since universal suffrage began.  No wonder why every available safe seat has hundreds of applicants. Labour MP John Mann was right when he said recently ‘We’re not underpaid. We are well paid. MPs should stop moaning about their pay levels.’

MPs will nevertheless bemoan the unfairness of the it all. It was unfair. Unfair on taxpayers and voters.  Those on minimum wage paying taxes for MPs to have servants might very well question the fairness of it all.  How did John Prescott end up a multi-millionaire?  How did Geoff Hoon end up with a property portfolio?  How did we pay for the upkeep of the estates of Tory grandees and the clipping of Nick Clegg’s roses?

An election is coming, us the employers, will renew the contracts with them, the political class.  We don’t expect them to even try never mind be permitted to renew the contracts of their spouses and offspring.  We don’t want to see wife-swaps, or child trafficking, we want to live in a democratic meritocracy not a nepotistic kleptocracy.

disinfect parliamentThere are so many fiddles and failings to be reformed (download Disinfecting Parliament : The Shadow Kelly Report, to get all the details).  What concerns Guido is that IPSA, the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, a new quango created in a panic by the Parliamentary Standards Act in July, shows little sign of being that independent.  It is headed by a civil servant with no particular track record in this area, staff are being transferred to it from the discredited fees office – the very people who failed before to stop MPs running amok in the past.  The governance of the IPSA is ultimately at the pleasure of the Speaker.  It is packed with politicians who will make sure nothing too drastic happens and safeguard the interests of the parasitical political class.

Who will safeguard our interests as voters and taxpayers?  The Lobby?  Politicians?  Quangocrats?

UPDATE : Some editing above clarifying that these are post tax figures and that the typical person is the “mean” in statistical terms.  Clarifications reflect co-conspirator’s comments.

Statporn for October 2 1/2 Million Views

Last month saw just over 2 1/2 million page views (1,787,599 + 805,759 via feed readers) from 1,051,281 visits by 236,689 visitors. Many thanks to readers and advertisers.

Do the Blairites Have a Plan B?

Miliband BlairSomething was nagging away at Guido after his second coffee this morning; Blairites don’t tend to be delusional, they are political realists, so why try to make their champion President of Europe? Half of Europe thinks he is a neo-con, war criminal.  There is no way he would be acceptable to most European social democrats and in any event it is probably going to go to a centre-right figure in the undemocratic Buggin’s turn way Brussels works.

The high representative of the council is pencilled in for a socialist on the same basis – a sort of undemocratic consolation prize.  There is talk, denied by David Miliband, that he himself is a strong candidate for that position.  Could it be some Machiavellian / Mandelsonian plot to get him the job?  The Dark Lord’s mind is subtle in his strategies, David Miliband is the anointed heir to Blair and the person to whom the Dark Lord plans perhaps in the future to play regent.  Could they be going through this Blair for President act to boost his credentials?  There is always a tiny chance they might pull it off Blair of course…

In the almost certain event that they don’t, “alright” they will say, if Blair can’t be the figurehead, can we give the mini-Blair (who acts as his campaign manager) some kind of consolation prize?  EU foreign minister?  Oh yes, that will dovetail nicely with the day job.  It would also give Miliband a world stage full of photo-ops to provide a backdrop for his post-election leadership campaign.

Just speculatin’…

Saturday Seven Up

7upIf you were not one of the 55,820 visitors viewing 354,427 blog pages over the last seven days, here are the seven most popular stories (in order of popularity) that you missed:

You may be surprised to learn that Guido’s personal favourite story of the week wasn’t Nadine Dorries winning a damages settlement from Damian McBride.  It was the With No End to Recession, Labour Attack Strategy Misfires story, more analytical than a usual Guido story.  The media grid plan for Labour was to use the technical end of recession to claim they were right on the economy and Osborne was wrong.  Only when the numbers came out, the recession wasn’t over.  Guido highlighted the spin plans that went wrong, yet still went ahead.

You are either in front of Guido, or you are behind…

+++ Tony Blair Held Downing Street Dinner With Kaminski +++

Guido gathers that a photo exists of a Downing Street dinner from late November 2005 in honour of the Polish Justice Party prime minister, Kazimierz Marcinkiewicz. The guests at the party included Michal Kaminski.

PM PolandGuido has been unable as yet […]

+ READ MORE +

++ Polish Law and Justice Party Demands Apology from Miliband ++

Polish governing party says it will veto Miliband EU foreign minister role.[…]

+ READ MORE +

Friday Caption Competition (Halloween Edition)

Trick or Treat[…]

+ READ MORE +

The Blair Delusion

Splashed across the opinion pages of Britain’s lower-circulation, loss making newspapers the punditocracy claims Blair is The Only Man for this Job. Steve Richards, Oliver Kamm, Jackie Ashley, Matthew d’Ancona (“the former PM is certainly the best candidate available”)[…]

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

David Cameron tells MPs after voting:

“Wouldn’t miss this for the world. Secret ballots very important. Remember the Chartists.”

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