Here at Syntagma Towers we groaned at the news that Edward Kennedy is to get an honorary Knighthood at the request of Gordon Brown, a long term friend of the Massachusetts Senator.
The fate of Mary Jo Kopechne, left to drown at Chappaquiddick Island by the younger brother of JFK, destroyed Ted Kennedy’s presidential hopes for ever.
The incident was made worse by Kennedy’s failure to alert police and rescue services for 24 hours or more. Did Brown not remember this shameful incident while planning to devalue British chivalric orders?
I suppose if you’re prepared to debauch the nation’s currency, and find room for Stalinist Eric Hobsbawm in the Companionship of Honour, you’re beyond doing the right thing.
Of Knighthoods, Shakespeare got it right:
When first this order was ordain’d, my Lords,
Knights … were of noble birth,
Valiant and virtuous, full of haughty courage …
He then that is not furnish’d in this sort
Doth but usurp the sacred name of Knight,
Profaning this most honourable order.
It’s official. Labour will lose the next election.
At least that was the strong impression given by Peter Mandelson on the Andrew Marr programme this morning.
Discussing the problems of the Royal Mail and his unpopular efforts to privatize 30 percent of it, Mandelson said that Labour had tried to do this a number of times before, without success.
Then the crucial admission: “This is the last throw of the dice for this government.”
Slip of the tongue? Freudian whatsit? Silky way of subtly distancing himself from the coming defeat by predicting it, while sticking it on Gordon Brown?
Or do we overrate the Machiavellian powers of this man for whom “the last throw of the dice” might be equally appropriate?
After criticizing the government’s handling of the financial crisis many times on this site, I’ve received a few indignant communications asking “What would you do then?”
Here’s what I wrote on January 23:
“Of the £650bn [public sector] pot, an emergency £150bn cut would be relatively easy, if painful for some. Overpaid operatives in the sector could be offered the choice between a 25 percent pay cut or redundancy. This would rebuild the public finances and make room for tax cuts. Brown built his empire, let him now dismantle it for this country’s sake.”
Paul Johnson wrote this week of the 20 percent pay cuts across public services during the 1930s depression (Spectator).
Now hundreds of thousands of workers in the private sector have quietly agreed to pay cuts already. Many more have been laid off altogether or put onto shorter working weeks. Why then should the public sector be immune this time round?
The answer is twofold: Brown is afraid of public sector strikes, and is averse to clipping his “client state” for electoral purposes.
Politics is the art of the possible, but I believe that most people in the public sector should realize they can’t be set above the rest forever.
David Cameron and George Osborne will face a wall of ideology, propped up by buttresses of self-interest, when they come to power. It’s vital, though, they don’t shirk the dismantling of Brown’s folly.
We now know that Gordon Brown has sunk an extra £219 billion a year in real terms into his personal vanity project, the equivalent of the massive pyramids built by dodgy Pharaohs in ancient Egypt.
Lopping £150 billion off that is not beyond the wit of determined Conservatives.
On Thursday, Prince Charles is to claim we have 100 months to save the planet from “irreversible climate change”. A strange assertion in the circumstances.
Man’s contribution to natural global warming is unknown and, in my view, probably greatly overstated by the anti-capitalist activists who push the argument to ridiculous levels.
However, consider what they might say if the present economic crash had not happened, and countries around the world had voluntarily reduced their greenhouse gases by the same amount as the drop caused by the current world depression.
Wouldn’t they be ecstatic with delight and self-praise? Imagine the articles in The Guardian claiming the moral high ground. I don’t think the phrase: “100 months to save the world” would be uttered by anyone. Why spoil a great story.
Furthermore, has any of the followers of James Lovelock considered that a prolonged world depression might be the handiwork of Gaia — the supposed self-regulatory mechanism of the planet itself?
If Gaia exists, it’s precisely what you would expect, is it not?
According to the theory, Mankind is an irrelevance in all this.
A few months ago I succumbed to the Twitter craze, mainly to find out about “microblogging” — messages limited to 140 characters, or less.
For illustration, the paragraph above is 138 characters.
I don’t use the account very much (twitter.com/Syntagma), and I haven’t delved into it beyond spraying out a few tart comments from time to time.
However, there’s a vast hinterland behind Twitter, comprising hundreds of applications that allow you to aggregate, sort, search and personalize the modest, low wordage utterances of the Twitocracy. Some Twitizens even believe it’s the way news will be distributed in future.
How does Twitter make money? It doesn’t. Google has denied it will buy it, which must put the kibosh on the service pretty soon.
Who else will snap it up in the current climate? Rupert Murdoch, the Barclay Brothers? Few takers, I think.
It’s more than likely that a new class system will emerge, with toffs who read newspapers, and twits who tweet like birds.
The fate of an earlier Canadian Conservative Government is casting the gloomiest of shades over Labour MPs. In 1993 it was reduced from power to two seats in the Canadian House of Commons.
The Canadian meltdown has no equivalent in British politics, although the Tories have been in the doldrums for 12 years and sometimes it must have felt like that.
Now it’s Labour’s turn to ruminate their fate and sink into political bipolar disorder. Could it happen here?
The Canadian House of Commons has 308 members, the British House, 646. Two seats in Ottawa would translate into 4.19 at Westminster.
Is it possible that Labour could fall into single figures at the next election? Unlikely, but a double-figure result should not be ruled out.
With Gordon in charge, the campaign will be clunky. Whatever advantage a sitting government gets from being in power will be cancelled out by his dire performance.
His closest colleagues will be more interested in positioning themselves to take over the leadership than saving his neck. The mood of the public will be explosive and there could be rioting on the streets.
David Cameron, on the other hand, will undoubtedly run a smooth and impressive campaign, with all his senior people onboard for a return to power.
The LibDems and other parties will be severely squeezed. UKIP Tories will want to be on the winning side, while the BNP will take votes from Labour.
It’s hard to see how a Conservative landslide can be avoided. But a Canadian-style meltdown is not the British way.
If it were, who, we might ask, would be Labour’s 0.19? There are plenty of candidates for that role.
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