Let the bastards be bastards and the builders be builders

February 23, 2013

What character from the history of film and literature most reminds you of an ordinary member of the Labour party? My answer is the Michael Palin character in The Life of Brian, whose job is to direct prisoners to their crucifixion. “Out of the door, line on the left, one cross each.”

This is a man who has a horrible job to do, but he’s still diligent and treats each prisoner with respect. He’s a nice guy. He cares. He’s the kind of bloke you or I might hang out with. You can easily imagine him as secretary of your local branch. If we brought a motion calling for crucifixion to be banned, the idea would be so radical that he’d initially be shocked, but once he realised that such a thing is possible he would become a passionate advocate.
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Cameron’s Watergate (LabourList 25th July 2009)

February 23, 2013

This post that went out on Labour List in 2009. I never archived to this website, mostly because it caused such a ferocious reaction that the Labour List editor, Alex Smith, said he regretted posting it. However, it later proved to be influential because it breached the taboo that said that the press couldn’t be touched. Following this, Journalists from The Washington Post were sent to London to assist The Guardian in researching hacking and this eventually led to the Leveson enquiry. I’ve uploaded it today in order that it doesn’t get lost.

I’m never short of admiration for David Cameron as a campaigner. He has no policies, but he is a brilliant man for the way he has pulled his party around and made them so electable. But it just seems strange the way this rash of thefts and bugging has been happening since he’s been around.

First we had the Damian Green business where a civil servant stole information that was embarrassing to the Labour government and then chanelled it to the press through this MP. Although the Tories point out that Gordon Brown once leaked a document, Gordon went on the record. Next we had Derek Draper’s email being hacked and then published by those ironically accusing him of wishing to smear, when all he did was consider it, before thinking better of it. Then the expenses file; a member of the Conservative Party selling revelations to The Telegraph when The Sunday Times was the obvious buyer, but wouldn’t have led on the Duck House story. It’s all a bit weird.

So why would David Cameron hire a man that Fleet Street considered to be unemployable? Coulson’s News of the World scoops were all explained by the original prosecution, so that’s not his attraction. Nor is he a party animal; he voted for Blair.

So why, why, why would David Cameron hire a man who had recently been involved in a scandal where people had been sent to jail for stealing information from public figures? Everyone knew that the hacking was massively more widespread on the basis that the News of the World had broken so many stories in the previous couple of years and this was the explanation. So why would a future prime minister want to have anything to do with him? Why?

Cameron says “Everyone is entitled to make a mistake”. But surely this must be because there is a deep bond of friendship that can overcome this stain on Coulson’s character? What other explanation would David Cameron have for employing and sticking by a man with an apparent expertise in hacking people’s phones? He could have any press officer in the world, why Andy Coulson?
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We still need a massive fiscal stimulas

February 15, 2013

Thank god Ed Miliband has finally got a handle on our economic offer. Today he laid out a new narrative built around a “living standards” message with some good policy detail in the 10p tax pledge. He previewed the new approach at PMQs on Wednesday where he said that come the 2015 election, people will be asking “Am I better off now than I was 5 years ago?”

It’s about time, we really need this new, sharper approach.

On Tuesday night, I was speaking at an event by Pragmatic Radicalism where a number of people presented ideas for Labour economic policy and the audience voted for their favourite. My pitch was this:

“Even though we are right and they are wrong, we acknowledge that the Conservative party have a far more coherent economic policy than Labour. I believe that an economic policy of massive intervention, with massive stimulus, through massive infrastructure spending, should be presented with massive confidence by a leadership who will then stand their ground and defend their policy.” Read the rest of this entry »

March of the Zombies.

February 7, 2013

We now have an explanation for why unemployment hasn’t soared in the worst recession since the first World War. It seems that the banks are keeping failing companies afloat rather than calling in their loans, for fear of damaging their capital base and failing to comply with regulations. It is this priority of the regulators that has had the perverse effect of bunging up the unemployment market and creating a million zombie jobs.
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