Saturday, 26 July 2008

They all look like tiny ants from up here!

Some people manage to make you feel proud to be a member of the human race. Others, well, are the kind of people who would be banned from the gene pool for pushing (thank you Terry Pratchett for that one).

Earlier this week two women on a flight from Kos to Manchester decided half-way through the flight would be a good time to try to open a cabin door to get a bit of fresh air. The fact that they were about 10 kilometres in the air, and could see the alps below them, did not diminish their determination for fresh air.

But let's not prejudge these women in their mid 20s who were on a flight from Kos to Manchester. Were they drunk? Well, yes. Apparently they had been drinking heavily. But they were happy, pleasant drunks right? Well, not exactly. It seems they became highly abusive, made excellent use of colourful language, brandished a vodka bottle at staff when they were refused more drink and eventually had to be restrained in their seats by security staff.

Of course the plane had to be diverted and make an emergency landing in Germany. The two women were arrested on arrival at Frankfurt airport.

Does anyone else think the cabin crew should just have let them open the damn door?

Friday, 25 July 2008

Is this it?

Is this it? Has Labour finally crumbled. Their behaviour of late has been that of an injured bee: flying around this way and that, disoriented, not sure which way to turn. all the time losing altitude. And now that weakened body has finally given up the ghost.

In the current climate losing a seat in Scotland is perhaps not that surprising, but having a majority of over 13,000 overturned is something else.

I get the feeling this really could be it for Labour. Now it is time to remove the head to save the body...or some other more apt metaphor. We have waited for too long. Waited for some sign that Brown could turn things around. It is now so crystalline clear this is not going to happen.

Goodbye Gordon! I wish I could say it's been a pleasure.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Do you want the good news or the bad news? Tell you what, let's just forget about the good news for now.

When I heard the latest crime figures I really thought this could be a turning point for Gordon Brown and his team of floundering flounderers. The downward trend from the mid-90s when Labour took over is really quite impressive; the risk of being a victim of crime down from 40% in 1995 to 24% in 2006, with overall crime levels falling 42% over the same period. "Popular" crimes that affect many families in the UK such as burglary and car theft are down a whopping 59% and 61% respectively. Notwithstanding small rises in more serious crimes, such as murder and knife crime (not that we couldn't have guessed that was coming), these are a seriously praiseworthy set of figures.

This would be Labour's time to make hay while the crime-figure sun shone. But what's that? What's that I hear from Labour's press office? Resounding silence. Labour couldn't have made less of this news if they tried. As the Guardian's heading on Polly Toynbee's opinion column proclaimed - "Labour does one thing really well - burying good news". Toynbee goes on to highlight numerous occasions where Labour have failed to capitalise on old-school Tory cock-up and scandal, including the ongoing MPs' expenses debacle.

Is this inability to crack a glimpse of a smile, in response to what should have been one of Labour's top headlines in recent years, a sign of an old man on his deathbed? I had hoped and hoped that Brown had the capacity to turn things around (and I think he does), but it is clear it is never going to happen. Now, nothing short of a labour revolution is going to give Labour a majority in the next general election.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Still doing the right thing...

Following my deeply involved discourse analysis of Gordon Brown's response templates, I've picked out a few examples of where GB's reasoning boils down to "doing the right thing".

On 42-day detention without charge - "We have made a judgment, after looking at all the evidence, including the evidence from the police and security services, that this is the right thing to do."

On availability of prison places - "we will make our decisions on the right thing to do about early release."

On detention without trial, while purporting to support civil liberties, when in fact sprinting in the opposite direction of anything resembling a pro-civil liberties agenda - "surely the right thing for a Government to do is to respect the civil liberties of the individual by avoiding arbitrary treatment"

An on basically anything else the government are doing - "We make the right decisions at all times."

At least Colin Powell had pretty pictures when the US argued for invading Iraq. Please Labour, can't we do better than this?

Doing the right thing

Has anyone else noticed how Gordon Brown has lost his capacity for providing a valid justification for anything he and the Labour party are doing?

At practically every prime minister's question time, when stuck for a truthful/honest/valid response, he engages the following foolproof template answer; "we did X, because it was the right thing to do". No other explanation needed, apparently. We no longer require reasoned political debate, bipartisan discussions or meaningful compromise; we can now do things simply because we say they are the right thing to do. Certain African despots could learn a lot from our Gordon.

Now this is an exceedingly flexible template for Gordon. It is not just in defense of the litany of poorly-conceived Labour policies where he can wheel this one out, as he has on the 42-days detention bill and the abolition of the 10% tax rate. No, he can also used it to defend the actions of others. When asked by David Cameron why Geoff Hoon was writing thank-you letters to Keith Vaz regarding the detention bill, what was Gordon's response? That's right, Geoff Hoon was merely thanking Keith Vaz for doing the right thing. Again, no details needed. And Mr. Brown had the gall make this response repeatedly to parliament.

If Gordon Brown believes so strongly in his current policies, shouldn't we get to hear the sound, logical reasoning that has led him to want to implement them? Is it enough to say that 42 days is the right number of days for detention, without any further justification? Surely we deserve better than this?

Brown Envelopes?

So it appears that Gordon Brown has reached the stage where he must bribe members of his own party in order to get bills through parliament. The Tories appeared, grinning smugly, at prime minister's questions brandishing a letter from Geoff Hoon to Keith Vaz (or Nigel Keith Anthony Standish Vaz, if you prefer) intimating that Mr. Vaz would be justly rewarded for supporting the Orwellian 42-days detention bill.

This really is a sorry state of affairs for Labour. It would have been a minor coup had he been found converting Tory party members to his worldview, but when it's a member of your own party, it simply smacks of desperation. For god's sake Gordon, pull it together man!