Saturday, September 5, 2009

Pure Capitalism


Access to clean water is one of the most pressing problems the developing world faces at the best of times. In the video above you can see an amazing British solution for disaster zones.  At over £100 a bottle to produce 6,000 litres it is expensive now.  If DfID only spent a small bit of their multi-billion budget on this in readiness for the next disaster, instead of on filming videos of Dougie Alexander watched by a dozen people,* it would save countless lives.  It would also drastically reduce the unit cost with large scale production runs.

This amazing LifeSaver bottle can literally put clean pure water in the hands of disaster victims as fast as a cargo-plane can fly to the disaster zone.  The bottle was developed by one British entrepreneur, Michael Pritchard, using nano-technology and without a single penny of state subsidy.  Capitalism works…

*Why is DfID wasting money producing videos of Dougie Alexander in Bangladesh wishing Happy Ramadan (at the time of publishing this) to all of 12 viewers?

Hat-tip : Brian Micklethwait

ICM Poll Says “We Love the BBC”

The Guardian commissioned an independent poll from ICM which found that Britons not only love the BBC, they think it is value for money and can, despite all the BBC fakery scandals, be trusted. Hell, the pollsters even found that the majority of the country thinks the BBC should keep secret what it pays Paxman and Wossie! Trebles all (secretly) round…

Those of you of a more sceptical hue might note that ICM is by coincidence also the BBC’s pollster.  The BBC’s other polling partner is, errm, the Guardian…

Friday, September 4, 2009

Give Us a Job Ed

The low circulation New Statesman continues to fascinate Guido, a co-conspirator has sent in an example of a lavish bit of sycophancy which really deserves a bigger audience.

ns_logoYou may remember that James Macintyre was not so long ago bitterly disappointed at failing to become Ed Miliband’s SpAd after Derek Draper advised Ed against hiring him.  This week Macintyre was embedded on a junket to Bangladesh and India with Ed Miliband and Dougie Alexander to see poverty first-hand and get a few photo-ops with the ministers.  Looks like Macintyre is re-applying for the SpAd job with the man he describes optimistically as “a leader-in-waiting”:

ed+dougieIt is amazing to think that if the conventional wisdom is right, and Labour loses, these talented ministers, with so much to offer, will suddenly be out of a job. I can’t remember who their Tory opposite numbers are, but it is fair to say that certain parties I have spoken to, from NGO workers to diplomats to foreign politicians, are keeping their fingers crossed that the consensus will be proved wrong.

Can you hear that sucking up sound?  You would think that the ‘political correspondent’ of a magazine with pretensions to being a serious journal would know his subject. It falls to Guido, again, to help out the Statesman’s political team: Andrew Mitchell and Greg Clark are their opposite numbers…

+++ Ian Clements to be Charged with Fraud +++

The ex-deputy mayor fired by Boris, Ian Clements, will be in Westminster Magistrates this Tuesday on charges related to expense fiddling. He won’t be the last politician prosecuted…

Source James Cleverly.

Friday Caption Contest (Backhander Edition)

Back-of-the-Hand.

Channel 4 Snooze

cathycorporatepic_biggerThe race for exclusives and scoops is of more interest to hacks and bloggers than it is to the readers and viewers.  News distributors take great pride in being first with the scoop.  Guido is no different in this respect from Channel 4 News, and boasting emails like this from newsrooms are not uncommon:

from: Laurent, Fiona <[]@itn.co.uk>
date: Thu, Sep 3, 2009 at 7:12 PM~
subject: C4 NEWS EXCLSV: DEFENCE AIDE RESIGNS – ERIC JOYCE’S LETTER TO BROWN
Embargoed until 19.30 hrs on 3rd September 2009
*LEAD STORY* LEAD STORY* LEAD STORY
CREDIT CHANNEL 4 NEWS WITH ALL MATERIAL USED  CHANNEL 4 NEWS EXCLUSIVE:
PARLIAMENTARY AIDE TO THE DEFENCE SECRETARY RESIGNS

Sure enough the lead story on C4 News at 7pm had been Eric Joyce resigning. Was it really an exclusive? Co-conspirators will note that at 6.27pm Guido reported a rumour that a PPS was resigning, just after that Guido publicly tweeted @EricJoyce to badger him to answer the phone – he hadn’t been answering his mobile for hours – (the Twitterati picked up the hint).  At 6.46pm Guido named Eric Joyce after a co-conspirator emailed some corroborative information on the back of the 6.27 pm teaser.

Cathy Newman confirmed the story and lead with the contents of the resignation letter at 7.01 on C4 News, she apparently had got the story the night before. Guido heard the story late yesterday afternoon, as Cathy tweeted after her broadcast So hard to keep a secret in Westminster. Somehow the mod got wind of our Eric Joyce scoop mid afternoon. Hmm.”

Eric Joyce Newswire Timeline

Cathy undoubtedly had the resignation letter first, nevertheless the first news source to put Joyce’s resignation into the public domain was this blog, as PoliticsHome’s “as it happens” newswire confirms. You snooze, you lose…

UPDATE : Remember Dizzy’s story which became a “C4 News Exclusive” the next day?

BP Admits Straw Was Lobbied by Allen Over Deal for Megrahi

small_three-libyan-logosThe Times this morning has followed up on Guido’s story about the involvement of Sir Mark Allen, the ex-MI6 point man for Libya turned BP fixer in the release of al Megrahi.

The Times confirms that

Jack Straw was personally lobbied by BP over Britain’s prisoner transfer agreement with Libya just before he abandoned efforts to exclude the Lockerbie bomber from the deal… the Justice Secretary took two telephone calls from Sir Mark Allen, a former M16 agent, who was by then working for BP as a consultant, on October 15 and November 9, 2007.

Depite BP flatly denying last week that it had lobbied for the release of Megrahi The Times reports that a spokesman now says:

“BP did bring to the attention of the Government in late 2007 our concerns about the slow progress in concluding a PTA with Libya. Like many others we were aware that delay might have negative consequences for UK commercial interests including ratification of BP’s exploration agreement.”

What was it Mandelson said when the government was first accused of making a Prisoners-for-Oil deal? “It’s not only completely wrong to make such a suggestion it’s also quite offensive” – looks like we were not wrong, but it was morally offensive…

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Eric Joyce Resignation Letter in Full

Joyce

Gordon Brown MP

10 Downing Street

LONDON

3 September 2009

Gordon

As you may know, I told Bob Ainsworth some weeks ago that I intended to step down as Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to the Defence Secretary before the start of the new parliamentary term. This seems to me the least disruptive time to do that. I have been privileged to work as PPS to four senior Labour ministers in four government departments and now feel that I can make my best contribution to the Labour effort in parliament by concentrating on helping, as a regular back-bencher, to show that Labour remains sound on matters of Defence.

Labour was returned to power in 1997 on the back of your great success in turning the Economy from a weakness into a strength for Labour. Our continuing success in helping people from all parts of society become more prosperous, while helping the least well-off most, is built upon that. More quietly, during the 90’s, Labour’s then shadow defence team showed how Labour had become, after the disaster of the early 1980s, ‘sound’ on Defence. It seems to me that your personal success on the economy won the deal in 1997, while colleagues at Defence sealed it.

We are now, I think, once again at a critical time for Labour and Defence. The Conservatives, of course opportunistically, think they can convince the public that we have lost our empathy with the Defence community. We must not allow this to happen. I know that you have great commitment to our armed forces and this was clear when you visited Afghanistan this week, yet there seem to me to be some problems which need fixing with the greatest urgency.

As you know, two Black Watch soldiers gave their lives during your visit. I do not think the public will accept for much longer that our losses can be justified by simply referring to the risk of greater terrorism on our streets. Nor do I think we can continue with the present level of uncertainty about the future of our deployment in Afghanistan.

I think we must be much more direct about the reality that we do punch a long way above our weight, that many of our allies do far too little, and that leaving the field to the United States would mean the end of NATO as a meaningful proposition. The British people have a proud history of facing such realities. They understand the importance of the allied effort in Afghanistan/Pakistan and I think they would appreciate more direct approach by politicians. We also need to make it clear that our commitment in Afghanistan is high but time limited. It should be possible now to say that we will move off our present war-footing and reduce our forces there substantially during our next term in government.

We also need a greater geopolitical return from the United States for our efforts. For many, Britain fights; Germany pays, France calculates; Italy avoids. If the United States values each of these approaches equally, they will end up shouldering the burden by themselves. The first place to start is an acceptance this week by them, and by the Afghanistan electoral authorities, that there must be a second round in the elections there. I do not think the British people will support the physical risk to our servicemen and women unless they can be given confidence that Afghanistan’s government has been properly elected and has a clear intent to deal with the corruption there which has continued unabated in recent years.

Most important of all, we must make it clear to every serviceman and woman, their families and the British public that we give their well-being the highest political priority. Behind the hand attacks by any Labour figure on senior service personnel are now, to the public, indistinguishable from attacks on the services themselves. Conversely, in my view we should allow our service personnel greater latitude to voice their views on matters which make distinctions between defence and politics pointless.

I believe the next election is ours to win, thanks greatly to your personal great economic success. But we cannot win unless we grip defence. Above all, Labour must remember that service folk and their families are our people. We say that we honour them for their risk, bravery and sacrifice and we must at literally all costs continue to show by our actions that we mean it.

I intend to do what modest amount I can to help from the back-benches.

Yours sincerely

Eric Joyce MP

+++ Eric Joyce Rumoured to Be Resigning as PPS +++

Rumour is now widespread.  Eric Joyce not answering his mobile for the last two hours.  If he is resigning as PPS to the Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth and he blames the treatment of soldiers, it will be explosive.  If…

UPDATE 19.01 +++ CHANNEL 4 NEWS @ 7 CONFIRMS +++

+++ RESIGNS OVER AFGHANISTAN +++

+++ YOU READ IT HERE FIRST +++

Eric Joyce resignation letter alleges Brown doesn’t empathise with the military.  Joyce denounces “behind the hand attacks on senior personnel” by defence ministers.  Explosive!

+++ Rumour PPS Set to Resign Tonight +++

Didn’t many cabinet ministers say they would give Gordon until the party conference to turn things around?  Well he hasn’t turned things around.  Trouble ahead…


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