The Aged P

…just toasting and ruminating….

Archive for the 'UK Politics' Category

08 April
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Why Is The Telegraph Deliberately Insulting A Large Tranche Of Its Readers By Sneering At UKIP?

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What is it with the Telegraph and UKIP? You would think that an anti EU, small government, low tax party standing firmly for stricter immigration controls yet free of the racist, corporate state baggage of the BNP would merit a certain degree of sympathy from a broadsheet that has always been the standard bearer of middle class conservative values. Yet over the last few months the resident political “pundits” have unleashed a constant stream of bile directed at the party in general and its leader, Nigel Farage, in particular.

Is it possible that there is a daily conference with Messrs Brogan, Wigmore, Kirkup, Hodges, Martin and Young in which they giggle like crazy as they encourage each other to deliver as much vitriol, innuendo and half truths about UKIP & Farage as possible? Surely that thought is just a flight of fancy…..surely….

Yesterday Iain Martin posted a piece on the storm battering David Cameron and Maria Miller, his Minister of Culture, over her expenses claims. A scandal the Tories need like a hole in the head, he claimed – and then proceeded to use it as a hook for an attack on UKIP.

After months of the DT over egging sundry UKIP “scandals” Martin feared that Farage might seek to capitalise on the Miller/Cameron affair. This is so unfair, said he, because UKIP scandals are ignored….UKIP is Teflon. Martin conveniently “forgets” that the so called UKIP “scandals” have been bigged up, in fact,  by the DT (via CCHQ?) in the face of UKIP’s post Eastleigh (and sustained) polling performance.

I wonder why?

Then James Kirkup (fresh from “proving” that Clegg actually “won” the EU debate with Farage) needing to fill up a column with a few hundred words but clearly suffering from Writer’s Block, decides he might as well follow the DT editorial line and sneer at Farage through the prism of “Game of Thrones”

So, just when you think the DT “pundits” cannot sink any lower in their systematic attempts to undermine UKIP – and those who either support him or, at the least, feel he has something significant to say – the bar is pushed further down and more drivel is spread around.

Memo to the DT pundits. UKIP is not just Nigel Farage….it has 34,000 members, of whom 20,000 have joined within the last two years or so. Astonishingly most Ukippers don’t slavishly agree with Farage over everything he does or says….we tend to be ornery souls with a fairly cynical view of human nature. But, as with Mrs Thatcher, we are more inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt because he is going in the same direction as us

Would it be too much to ask of the DT pundits that we would appreciate a modicum of balance and some evidence that they have used some shoe leather and left Westminster/Notting Hill/Islington to actually talk with a range of UKIP members?

Once upon a time that would have been called “journalism”…..

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27 March
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That Farage/Clegg Debate – Media Pundits Caught With Their Trousers Down…

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Probably the most significant outcome of the Farage/Clegg debate was not so much the verbal fencing of the discussion itself but the final piece of evidence proving, if any further proof were needed that, with regard to UKIP most of the media establishment is as out of touch with the views of the man and woman on the street as the political class which claims to represent them.

I’m not talking about the liberal/left ramparts of The Guardian or Daily Mirror – at least the bias in those quarters is so blatant that one can immediately discount much of their “reporting” or “comment”. But the barrage of sneering anti UKIP bile filling the pages of the Telegraph and Mail, both supposedly rightward leaning and Eurosceptic, has certainly puzzled many of us in UKIP.

Many have suggested that the Telegraph/Mail have merely been pimping Tory HQ propaganda as part of a campaign to buttress Cameron. Yet the Mail is often scathing about Dave so I cannot see the Tory HQ line as being the whole story.

My feeling is that, though “journalists” work for media outlets that have varying political stances, the bulk of them are all part of the London media “village” and intermingle professionally and socially not just with each other but with the political class. All of them see politics as a political game where the terms of the debate are exclusively set by the metropolitan elite and the role of the electorate is to be as passive as a TV audience, maybe cheering or booing on cue, but otherwise happy to leave decisions about the important issues to the “professionals” who know best.

What these people hate about UKIP is that it is a party of political outsiders with no connection to the metropolitan elite. No political “big beast” SDP type defections have brought the party into the dinner party conversations in North London. They hasten to characterise UKIP members, supporters and potential voters as simple minded, racist, ignorant etc but they have made no attempt to get to know UKIP members or treat their views seriously.

The result? They constantly get blindsided…

During and immediately after the debate, Westminster observers appeared to come down on the side of Clegg – or that both men had performed competently. Initially, Lib Dem cheerleaders apparently satisfied with the performance of their leader and several “gaffes” from Farage, who they pointed out appeared to denigrate the European car industry and claimed the EU had “blood on its hands” over Ukraine.

“The truth is it was a score draw,” said Andrew Mitchell, the senior Conservative backbencher and former chief whip.

However, the mood shifted to visible disappointment in the Clegg camp as the first opinion polls showed Farage was ahead by 57% to 36%.

Asked whether the loss mattered, one Lib Dem aide said philosophically: “In a snap poll, populist arguments may well win over. The real win tonight has been that we wanted this debate and talked directly to the voters.”

Let’s face it – the media hacks were all caught with their trousers down

Backstage, Westminster’s hack-pack was necking cheap vino and Pret sandwiches after carrying out a spectacular volte face. Initially ‘the spin room’ had called the duel for Clegg, on both style and substance. But, as news of the Sun/YouGov poll filtered through to the scribblers, headlines were rewritten and awkward tweets deleted. Soon, only the BBC was left flying the Clegg flag, with the help of Danny Alexander and Tim Farron.

The moral of the story? Simples… On every Mail snide anti UKIP piece, or Tim Stanley/Dan Hodges ill informed rant, or snooty dinner party Spectator put down keep on hammering the comments with the phrases that wind them up…..LibLabCon, Tory HQ agitprop, out-of-touch media luvvies….believe me those remarks really get under their collective skin.

The media expects to be courted. Until the age of the internet there was no other option if you wished to be heard. But today is different. Journalists are ranked with estate agents, car salesmen and pimps. They don’t need to be courted – when they lie and distort and misreport they need to be exposed and attacked from every angle.

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25 March
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Wow – The Daily Telegraph Really Getting Desperate About UKIP…

Wow….the jolly old Telegraph really has it in for UKIP today. Benedict Brogan, conveniently forgetting his prediction that Osborne’s budget would siphon off all those silvers from UKIP in the polls, has a piece about the forthcoming Clegg/Farage debate. The bottom line of the story, to be fair to BB, is that, although the budget went down well people still don’t trust Cameron over his EU referendum renegotiation “pledge”.  However either BB or the DT staff decided once again to illustrate the article with that sweaty pic of Farage next to the statesmanlike pose of Clegg.

Nice subliminal messaging  there, Mr Brogan…

Then there up pops Iain Martin declaring that Margaret Thatcher would not have liked UKIP because, at heart, she was at one with the Tory grassroots and would never have betrayed them by going with another party. Above all her politics was about power

Ukip, with its attempt to break the party system and its howling at the moon, would have held very little appeal.

The problem is, however, that Martin is talking about the Conservative Party of 30/40 years ago when the “Tory grassroots” really did exist. Not only is the 2014 Tory party at constituency level a shadow of its former self (like the Labour Party) a substantial proportion of the lower rank foot soldiers have either joined or sympathise with UKIP.

Brogan, Martin and all the other hacks at the DT are either unable or unwilling to grasp the fact that UKIP is now very different from what it was four or five years ago. It is no longer a collection of misfits and oddballs wearing tinfoil hats fielding paper candidates with very little doorstep presence. Many parts of the country now have active and lively local UKIP branches, there is a considerable party presence in local government in terms of councillors and, over the last year or so, UKIP has been polling a steady +10% pushing the Clegg LibDems into 4th place.

UKIP is in it for the long haul. Maybe we might get a seat or two in 2015 but even the most fervent kipper would see that as a bonus. No –  it’s the elections of 2020 and 2025 that are the targets. A Labour government in 2015 led by Miliband would rapidly lode support as its internal contradictions tore it apart. But a Cameron or post Cameron Tory opposition would lack any credibility after the Coalition’s lacklustre performance – and that would be UKIP’s opportunity to offer itself as a serious, viable and principled opposition to Labour that was untainted by any connection with the political establishment that has done so much to undermine our nation.

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21 March
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The Left Says People Are Stupid So Government Should Tell Then How to Spend Their Pension Pot

I have never been a great fan of George Osborne. Like Cameron he is comes from a background of extreme wealth, never really had a proper job and has the charisma of a roll of felt. I also cannot really forgive his omnishambles of a budget in 2012 when he deftly kicked the ball into his own net several times.

But I will give him credit for giving pensioners greater control of their own pension pot

The centrepiece of yesterday’s Budget was a plan to allow people to withdraw their pension pot as a cash lump sum instead of investing in a pension plan, which ministers claim will give people choice to spend their money how they wish.

Laughably an assortment of financial “experts” (you know, the ones who so failed to foresee the 2008 recession) and Labour politicians waxed lyrical about the dangers of allowing people to spend their savings how they want.

The BBC, which spends taxpayers money like a drunken sailor on steroids, naturally joined in the chorus of doom.

These people really do think they know what’s best for you and me – better than we do ourselves. They devote their lives to filching money from our pockets and purses in order to do us good – and their schemes almost always end up in failure. They do not know how to generate money – only how to spend other people’s money

Above all they think we are stupid and need to be told what to do.

Then they wonder why more and more people outside the media/political/cultural elite are turning to a party of outsiders like UKIP…..

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18 March
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That’s Enough Of Benn & Crow – Time To Dump Them Into The Dustbin Of History….

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The sycophantic twaddle being pumped out from all points of the political compass about Bob Crow and “Tony” Benn simply beggars belief. Fact is they were both disciples of  the writings of that old German charlatan Karl Marx – which is why, of course, the former student “revolutionaries at the BBC  went hyper over their deaths.

I don’t know about you but I am sick and tired of all the weeping and wailing.  It really is time for it to stop and for them both to be consigned to the dustbin of history where they both belong….

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10 March
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The Significance Of Cameron’s Nanny…..Most Brits Can’t Afford One

Good piece on the Tory/Lib Dem Nannygate fiasco and the backwash from Immigration Minister James Brokenshire’s recent speech

James Brokenshire, the new Conservative immigration minister, accused better-off families and big businesses of benefiting from the recent arrival of foreign workers in Britain. By contrast, “ordinary, hard-working people” have not felt the economic benefits of immigration, the minister said.

Much of the grumbling from the metropolitan elite and sharp elbowed business types about Brokenshire is evidence that the accusation hit home. But quote of the week must come from Tory Stewart Jackson, MP for Peterborough, a town straining to cope with an influx of 25,000 immigrants over the last ten years.

Mr Jackson backed the immigration minister. “James Brokenshire hit the nail on the head,” he said. “There’s a divide, with Tarquin and Jocasta on one side, in their 4×4, sipping lattes and enjoying having a cheap nanny and builder. On the other side are Mavis and Bert in Crewe, who see their children struggling to get a home and their grandchildren being crowded out of the local schools.”

Just think, without Farage and UKIP gaining traction over the last two years, this public conversation just would not be happening….

 

PS….notice how Labour is keeping very quiet….I wonder why?

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06 March
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That BBC Farage/Clegg Debate – If It’s Dimbleby Nigel Needs A Very Long Spoon…

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Classic anti Farage tweaking via the Telegraph’s James Kirkup in a snarky piece about the forthcoming Farage/Clegg debates – Kirkup uses that pic of Farage perspiring during his UKIP conference speech alongside a standard stock photo of Clegg looking steady and serious…..par for the course, I suppose.

Young Kirkup claims that the format is nearing some sort of agreement

LBC, the radio station that hosts Mr Clegg’s weekly phone-in, will stage a debate expected to have fewer rules and restrictions than the BBC. The debate – also before a live audience – will be hosted by Nick Ferrari, a more combative broadcaster than Dimbleby, who is expected to allow more “lively” exchanges.

So far, so good….Ferrari won’t take any prisoners but, unlike anyone at the BBC (except maybe Andrew Neil) he does tend to resonate with white van drivers and their wives, a constituency that is not renowned for going starry eyed over beards and sandals.

But warning bells did start to ring in my head when I read about the TV debate

The two men will be given an hour to argue about the merits of Britain’s membership of the European Union, moderated by David Dimbleby.

Ah, Dimbleby, the Grand Panjandrum of BBC Question Time who inevitably intervenes when he feels a member of the BBCQT panel is simply not up to his own intellectual level. Pompous, smooth and trousering sackfuls of taxpayers’ money via the licence fee he is the epitome of BBC smugness, socially and culturally closer to Clegg than Farage. When you also hear that the audience will be carefully selected to demonstrate “balance” red lights should be flashing in the Farage camp because we just know the BBCQT definition of “balance” from week after week of handpicked rent-a-quote lefty androids who always seem to get chosen when Dimbleby’s eyes scour the audience for his “random” selection…..and isn’t it strange that they often seem to be allowed a few additional comments just in case the message didn’t get through.

During the 2008 and 2012 US Presidential elections the TV debates were organised and “moderated” by the big networks, all dominated by the same liberal/left viewpoint  as our own BBC. The Republican establishment is now coming under increasing pressure from the Tea Party movement to demand a less Democrat friendly structure to the 2016 debates.

I certainly hope that Farage and UKIP also box very cannily with the BBC. It is an organisation that is institutionally inimical to almost everything UKIP stands for.

When you sup with the Beeb you need a very long spoon…..

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20 February
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The Big Cheeses At The Telegraph Seem To Be Whistling In The Dark About UKIP – So Why Won’t They Read Their Own Paper?

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I must admit that when I heard that the Daily Telegraph was going to post a regular blog called UkipWatch by two political scientists, Robert Ford and Matthew Goodwin, my heart did sink. Academics are often characterised (not always unfairly) as left wing and the Telegraph has a history of being sniffy about UKIP.

I have been pleasantly surprised. Every piece so far published has been exceptionally fair. Ford and Goodman don’t do a whitewash but they have treated the party and its members and supporters with respect and not as a fringe group of nutcases and loons.

If only more of their DT colleagues were as fair-minded. Two, Tim Stanley and Damian Thompson, never reluctant to throw cutting barbs at their selected targets, have both scribbled quite heavily laboured so-called “jokes” about UKIP and appeared very indignant and hurt when people responded in kind – proving, I suppose, that they can dish it out but can’t take it hurled back at them.

A callow youth called Will Heaven (look at his picture) claimed that UKIP was imploding, a theme picked up by Benedict Brogan who, with several others, saw the Wythenshawe by election result (“UKIP fails to beat Labour”)as a justification for Will Heaven’s view that Cameron’s masterly handling of the floods had gone down well with the public and undermined Nigel Farage – unfortunately polling appears to indicate that the Cameron Flood Mastery image remains just that, an insubstantial image only in the eyes of Westminster’s political hacks desperate for 900 words to fill a column.

Ford and Goodman also shot the Heaven/Brogan Wythenshawe fox with some actual facts (as distinct from wishful thinking)

If anything, what is striking about the result is that Ukip saw a five-fold increase in their level of support despite these harsher local conditions. Think about it for a second. Despite a three week campaign. Despite a well-oiled and ruthlessly efficient Labour machine. Despite Farage’s allegations of local intimidation and “nasty tactics” by Labour and the BNP. Despite never having had any local active presence in the seat. Despite a striking turnout figure of 28%, reflecting by-election apathy and the storms, which may well have further suppressed the Ukip vote further. Despite all of this, Ukip still rocked in to this Labour area, took almost 18 per cent of the vote, moved from fifth to second place and added more than 14 points to their share of the vote in 2010. It is not a spectacular success in the same tradition of other campaigns that we have witnessed over the past two years, but make no mistake – this is still a solid advance. In fact, this was Ukip’s fourth best by-election result in their entire history.

But never fear. Another Telegraph big cheese, Iain Martin (“one of Britain’s wisest and most learned political commentators”) backs the Will Heaven line

Ukip looks as though it has hit a ceiling in terms of attracting support. Its attempts to eat into the Labour vote are, so far, misfiring. The party was also running third in a recent poll on the Euro elections, and the Tory claim that a vote for Farage is a vote for Miliband and a Europhile Labour government looks increasingly potent.

Indeed the biggest of all the Telegraph cheeses, Peter Oborne, sees this as all part of a Tory Cunning Plan

playing an expert game of expectations management, playing down its own chances and setting unfeasible targets for Ukip. This clever wheeze worked well at Wythenshawe, meaning that Ukip’s strong showing looked like a minor disaster for Farage, while everybody overlooked the dreadful Tory performance. They are now trying to repeat this in the forthcoming European elections. With their political strategists at last firing on all cylinders, the signs are that the Tories might even get away with it.

Losing votes and coming third is a strategy?

Ford and Goodman, however, dashed a bucketful of cold water over the frenzied musings of Martin and Oborne

But then things are never quite as simple as they often appear in Westminster.

It may well be true that Farage and Co could improve their expectation management, as George Eaton has argued. The easy thing would have been to avoid making any prediction about the European elections and then look surprised at a first place finish, but Farage never follows the easy path. Yet there are good reasons why we should not read into current polls or the result of one by-election where – to be frank – Ukip did well to poll over 17 per cent and push the Conservatives into third.

 

They make several key points.

 

  • In the 2004 & 2009 Euro elections UKIP benefited from late surges in the polls.

 

  • Today UKIP is starting from a higher polling base than before – over several months a steady 12%

 

  • The party now has stronger local roots – hundreds of elected councillors and a flourishing branch level membership

 

  • UKIP now has a regular and substantial presence in the news cycle

 

What’s the Telegraph up to? Is it acting as a conduit for Tory HQ? Who knows? But it’s beginning to strike me that the paper and its mates at Central Office are whistling in the dark in the face of UKIP’s growth.

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14 February
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Govt Wants To Know Why Auditors Cleared Dodgy UK Bank – So They Send In The Clowns…

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Great news…

Britain’s accounting watchdog has launched a formal investigation into KPMG’s work as the auditor of the Co-op Bank ahead of the emergence of a £1.5bn capital shortfall at the lending arm of the country’s largest mutual society.

The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) said it would look at the way the Co-op Bank’s accounts were prepared, audited and approved in the years leading up to the discovery of a the capital black hole that threatened to put the lender out of business.

 And it’s not just the FRC…

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) are undertaking their own investigations that could lead to formal action being taken against current and former senior managers and directors of the Co-op Bank.

Were there dodgy deals between beancounters and clients? We don’t know but at least with the FRC and FCA on the case if there was a lack of due diligence we should find out because an FRC/FCA investigation will be relentless….

What’s that? The boss at the FRC is Sir Win Bischoff, a former big cheese at Citigroup?

The City veteran is a contentious choice because he presided over astronomical ‘golden goodbyes’ to failed bankers during his two years on the Citi board. 

This included an eyewatering £40million payment for failure to former Citi chief Chuck Prince when he was forced out in 2007, despite steering the bank headlong into the toxic debt mire. 

Bischoff succeeded Prince on a temporary basis, then moved into the chairman’s job just months before Citi was bailed out by US taxpayers. 

 Surely this is not a case of the higher the title the weaker the talent pool?

Most people were underwhelmed when Sir Win Bischoff, former Citi chairman, was appointed as chairman of the Lloyds Banking Group to replace Sir Victor Blank. Bischoff never seemed to get to grips with Citi’s problems and gave the impression of hobbling along behind the bus rather than sitting upright at the steering wheel

After Citigroup Bischoff became chairman at Lloyds and was involved with the controversial sale of 600 Co-op Bank branches known as Project Verde.

Hmmmm

Still John Grifiths  Jones  at the FCA should be a safe pair of hands….shouldn’t he?

Questions have been raised about Mr Griffith-Jones because until last year he was chairman of KPMG, which is the Co-op Bank’s auditor. Last week, the Co-op Group launched an investigation into the bank’s £1.5bn capital shortfall including a review of “the role of the independent auditors”.

Tony Shearer, former chief executive of Singer & Friedlander, said Mr Griffith-Jones was “conflicted” as chairman of the banking regulator due to KPMG’s involvement with banks. The firm was also auditor of HBOS, Bradford & Bingley, and Kaupthing, all of which failed. Similar questions were raised in April about KPMG’s HBOS audit, by Mr Shearer and others.

 Are these really the men who should be investigating the KPMG/Co-op Bank affair?

 

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13 February
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Cameron Insists “Money Is No Object” Re Floods…..Yeah, Right…..

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 The man who always leaves the restaurant just before the waiter brings the bill……

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