Monthly Archives: April 2011

Letts be unparliamentary

For the second time in succession at yesterday’s PMQ’s Cameron, as that fine Hibernicism has it,  “lost the run of himself“.

In so doing he also lost the argument, that mystical “command of the House”, any chance of his punch-line, Mumsnet, and his remaining shreds of decency.

Even in the most refined quarters of the Fourth Estate, the encrusted pancake make-up cracked to reveal the grisly skull beneath. Here, from the Indy‘s Simon Carr (who ought to know — or be sub-edited to know — better):

The PM had called a woman “dear”. Harriet Harman’s face looked like a wellington boot. Balls demanded an apology (though, Lord knows, Angela Eagle can look after herself). Miliband’s teeth moved forward a good two inches and hung off the front of his face like comedy dentures.

That was as nothing to the frothings of the blue-rinsed Tory commentariat.

You want chauvinism? — the Mail‘s Quentin Letts has it wholesale:

Quelle calumny! David Cameron called Angela Eagle ‘dear’ at Prime Minister’s Question Time. Comrade Eagle (Lab, Wallasey) is many things, among them an economics spokesman, a hardline socialist and a pinstripe-suit-wearing lesbian. A keen cricketer, she bats like Botham.

… in the land of Milibandia, where platoons of Guardian-reading, cheroot-chomping wimmin patrol the public squares, forcing political correctitude down citizens’ gullets like sausagemeat into a plastic skin, ‘dear’ is a dread word. It is ‘inappropriate’.

What should Mr Cameron have called Miss Eagle? ‘Mate?’ ‘Guvnor?’ ‘Sarge?’ Someone naughtily suggested later that he should have called her ‘the Rt Honourable Dear’.

Fainthearts will say that Mr Cameron’s choice of words was demeaning. Worse, they will accuse him of being patronising. Er, well, yes. Of course. He was engaged in the usual verbal biffery of PMQs. Is Miss Eagle never to be teased? Are Labour women never to have their moustachings tweaked? Surely that would, in itself, be sexist. We must treat everyone the same, comrades.

Bet you never expected something as unreconstructed as that to surface again!
And, lest we forget:
We need to change the way we think. … we need to change, and we will change, the way we behave. I’m fed up with the Punch and Judy politics of Westminster, the name calling, backbiting, point scoring, finger pointing.
Who? When?

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Filed under Britain, Daily Mail, David Cameron, Ed Balls, Ed Miliband, equality, Guardian, Homophobia, politics, Tories.

Westminster gas-works!

Once upon a happy time London buses were uniformly:

a London transport, diesel engine, ninety-seven horsepower omnibus.

The statutory cheery cockney (usually masquerading as a cheery Jamaican) conductor would, at the appropriate moment approaching Parliament Square, traditionally yell up the stairs:

Westminster gas works!

The double aim was to spread alarm and confusion among any tourists, and neatly put in its place the Mother of Parliaments.

Yeah! Result!

Meanwhile, back inside that den of thieves, cheats and liars, the thieving, cheating and lying continues unabated.

Here’s Cameron’s first effort from yesterday’s PMQs:

The Prime Minister: The economy has grown by 1.8% over the last year …

Let’s take that one a bit slower, and visually:

That’s from Stephanie Flanders’s web-blog for the BBC, and she rightly points out:

Not so long ago, many were hoping for a strong bounceback from the slowdown at the end of 2010. Instead, the figures suggest that the UK economy has barely grown at all since the summer.

In other words the natural elastic is there in the system, and it should be going Boing! It isn’t.

Since that “emergency budget” by Gids Osborne brought the Brown-induced electoral mini-boost to a shuddering halt, the economy is flat as a pan-cake: down 0.4% one quarter, up about the same the next. Subject to two further revisions.

So Cameron is largely claiming credit for the six-months leads-and-lags of the Brown era.

Or as LabourList succinctly depicts it:

Pathetic Sad, really.

Then, a bit later there’s Cameron dropping the other bollick:

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter) (Lab): Given that our recovery has, in effect, stalled since he became Prime Minister, does the right hon. Gentleman stand by what he said to this House after his first Budget last June, which was that unemployment will fall “every year” in this Parliament?

The Prime Minister: I was quoting the Office for Budget Responsibility, but the fact is that 390,000 more people are in private sector jobs than there were a year ago. I would have thought with the economy growing, with exports up, with manufacturing up and with more people in work, the right hon. Gentleman should be welcoming that, instead of joining the doom-mongers on his Front Bench, who can only talk the economy down.

The selective use of non-statistics (that specious distinction between public and private employment when the modish trick is “out-sourcing”) cannot disguise the realities:

The jobless total rose by 27,000 to 2.53m in the three months to January, the worst figure since 1994. The unemployment rate was 8 per cent of the workforce, the highest since last spring, up from 7.9 per cent in the previous quarter.

Unemployment among 16 to 24-year-olds rose by 30,000 to 974,000, a rate of 20.6 per in that age group, the highest since comparable records began in 1992. However, one-third were full-time students looking for part-time work.

That, incidentally,  neatly coincides with all those “inspired” and concerted comments that the student population should be extracted from the statistics anyway. Moreover:

Most analysts still expect unemployment to rise in the coming months, largely because of public sector spending cuts implemented by the government, which are designed to bring down the UK’s budget deficit…

Economists suggest the economy would have to grow at an annual rate of about 2% for unemployment to fall.

In the final three months of last year, the economy shrank by 0.5%, and although many analysts expect a return to growth in the current quarter, few expect GDP to top 2% this year.

One never needs reminding that Cameron was a PR man:

Jeff Randall, writing in The Daily Telegraph where he is a senior executive, said he would not trust Mr Cameron “with my daughter’s pocket money”.

“To describe Cameron’s approach to corporate PR as unhelpful and evasive overstates by a widish margin the clarity and plain-speaking that he brought to the job of being Michael Green’s mouthpiece,” wrote the ex-BBC business editor.

“In my experience, Cameron never gave a straight answer when dissemblance was a plausible alternative, which probably makes him perfectly suited for the role he now seeks: the next Tony Blair,” Mr Randall wrote.

Sun business editor Ian King, recalling the same era, described Mr Cameron as a “poisonous, slippery individual”.

The “widish margin” of over-statement applies to that PMQ’s answer in another aspect: the blame-game of off-loading onto the OBR the promise of year-on-year employment growth. This is what Cameron said on 30th June last year, verbatim from Hansard:

Ms Harriet Harman (Camberwell and Peckham) (Lab): We were very concerned this morning to read reports that as a result of the right hon. Gentleman’s Budget, 1.3 million jobs will be lost. Can he confirm that this was an estimate produced by Treasury officials?

The Prime Minister: The right hon. and learned Lady should know- [Interruption.] I will give a surprisingly full answer if Opposition Members just sit patiently. This morning the Office for Budget Responsibility produced the full tables for the Budget for employment in the public and the private sector. That never happened under a Labour Government, right? As shown in the Budget, unemployment is forecast to fall every year under this Government, but the tables also show public sector employment. It is interesting that from the tables we can see the effect of Labour’s policy before the Budget and the effect of our policy after the Budget. What the figures show is that under Labour’s plans, next year there would be 70,000 fewer public sector jobs, and the year after that, there would be 150,000 fewer public sector jobs. We have had the courage to have a two-year pay freeze. I know we have all been watching the football, but that was a spectacular own goal.

Ms Harman: I know that the right hon. Gentleman has published some new figures today, but it is the figures that he has not published that I am asking about — the figures that show that 1.3 million jobs will be lost. Why will the Prime Minister not publish those Treasury documents? Why is he keeping them hidden?

The Prime Minister: The forecasts that are published now are independent from the Government. That is the whole point. [Interruption.] It is no good Opposition Members chuntering about that. They now support the Office for Budget Responsibility, completely independent of Government. The right hon. and learned Lady’s approach is extraordinary. Before the election the shadow Chancellor, the then Chancellor, was asked on BBC radio on 23 April 2010, and the transcript says:
“‘Will you acknowledge that public sector jobs will be cut?’
Darling: ‘It’s inevitable.’

Ms Harman: But even the OBR says that under the Prime Minister’s Budget, unemployment will be higher than it would otherwise have been. It says that on today’s figures and it said that on last week’s figures.

Can the right hon. Gentleman confirm that the secret Treasury analysis shows that under his Budget, 500,000 jobs will be lost in the public sector, but even more will be lost in the private sector?

The Prime Minister: The figures published today show 2 million more private sector jobs. They show 1.4 million more people in work at the end of this Parliament. They show unemployment falling every year. It is not really any surprise that the former Labour Minister, Digby Jones, after the Budget said- [ Interruption. ] Why not listen?

For comparison, here is Osborne in his budget statement of 22nd June:

Growth in the UK economy for the coming five years is estimated to be 1.2% this year and 2.3% next year; then 2.8% in 2012 followed by 2.9% in 2013; and then 2.7% in both 2014 and 2015. Consumer price inflation is expected to reach 2.7% by the end of the year before returning to target in the medium term, and let me take this opportunity to confirm that the inflation target remains at 2% as measured on the consumer prices index.

The unemployment rate is forecast by the OBR to peak this year at 8.1% and then fall for each of the next four years to reach 6.1% in 2015. Some have suggested that there is a choice between dealing with our debts and going for growth. That is a false choice. The crisis in the eurozone shows that unless we deal with our debts, there will be no growth. These forecasts demonstrate that a credible plan to cut our budget deficit goes hand in hand with a steady and sustained economic recovery, with low inflation and falling unemployment. What is more, the forecast shows a gradual rebalancing of the economy, with business investment and exports playing a greater role and Government spending and debt-fuelled consumption a smaller role-a sustainable private sector recovery built on a new model of economic growth, instead of pumping the debt bubble back up.

That elides the fact that the OBR then was (it is now conveniently round the corner at 20 Victoria Street) simply an office inside the Treasury, down the corridor from Osborne’s office, staffed by Treasury officials, commenting on Treasury figures — in effect, little more than a branch of the Central Office of Information, glossing government doings:

A Memorandum of Understanding has been agreed between the OBR and the departments it works with most closely in producing its analysis: the Treasury, the Department for Work & Pensions and HM Revenue & Customs.

In Cameroonie PR-speak, independence is a relative term.

A year on, everyone of those OBR/Osborne/Cameron numbers looks very wonky:

  • UK growth in 2010-11, 1.2%? See Stephanie above, but so far we’re arguing over tenths of a decimal point. Growth in the first half of 2010 (i.e. the period of that Brown-engineered mini-boom) was … 1.5%.
  • UK growth in 2011-12, 2.3%? The latest OECD number Malcolm recalls was 1.7%.
  • Consumer inflation around now, 2.7%. In fact, at 4%.
  • Unemployment 8.1%? Phew! Only 8% (again see above), but the trend up by around 25,000 a quarter, and the big redundancies in the public sector still to count.

There is one other Cameroon stuffed rabbit-out-of-the-hat there: 1.4 million more people in work at the end of this Parliament.

Whenever gross number “in employment” are bandied around, we should bear in mind population growth of 0.7% year-on-year, and the age profile of the work-force. As the pension-age is deferred, the number of persons in employment has to increase by more than the number in each cohort, else gross unemployment increases.

There were, at the last count, 870,000 over-65s employed in Britain: 3% of the workforce.

If Cameron’s 1.4m additional employees by 2015 comes about, it will not even amount to the number anticipating increases in pensionable age.

Hold very tight, please! Ding! Ding!

In the days of those iconic Routemaster London buses, the gas-works of Britian were still producing poisonous coal-gas. That was Sylvia Plath‘s exit route of choice, and that of many others — conversion to natural gas alone accounted for the decline in suicides, particularly among women.

Now the toxin is Cameron’s poisonous, slippery use of pseudo-statistics, and his ability to invent one human shield after another (for the moment the OBR).

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Filed under advertising., Alistair Darling, Britain, David Cameron, democracy, George Osborne, London, politics, sleaze., Tories., working class

The gloom lifts …

Just when one feels the human spirit has plumbed a bathyspheric record, along comes another example of just how low the Right can go.

Let us salute, courtesy of, Payam Tamiz:

A Conservative candidate for Thanet Council and the chairman of University of Westminster Conservative Future has resigned from the party for his blatant misogyny on Facebook.

The Evening Standard reports Payam Tamiz was until recently listed as a member of a Facebook group with the name: “Girls in THANET … you are all slags, hoes, brasses and bheads.”and appeals to its members to ”name and shame” women.

Wanna know more?

Mr Tamiz is suddenly popular and his bebo page leaps to the top of a Google search:

I’m currently working as a paralegal at Maplegate Homes. I graduated in 2009 from the University of Kent with a Law and Business Administration degree; I’m currently studying the Legal Practice Course at the University of Westminster. I love to chill and party with family and friends. I am highly ambitious and aim to become successful. If you want to know anything else, feel free to drop us a message.

He seems to have a big thing going on with “Stephanie Louise”. And a penchant for brick walls (as right).

Even the indispensble (if grammatically-challenged) web-site, LondonMuslim, got the message:

Payam Tamiz a Tory Muslim council candidate with a 5 O’ Clock shadow has resigned from the party after calling Thanet girls “sluts”.

Tamiz who on his Twitter page describes himself as an “ambitious British Muslim” is bizarrely studying law so one would have though this Tory prat with Star Trek Spock ears might have engaged the odd brain cell before making these offensive remarks.

They should have tried his manifesto for the position as post-grad officer of the University of Westminster Students’ Union:

I’m down to earth, speak my mind and can be described as a bit of a workaholic. I am passionate about what I believe in and will avidly fight for those I represent…

Accessibility is vital! I promise to hold regular surgeries on all University campuses to allow students to bring grievances and concerns to me directly. I promise to be approachable for all students.

Payam’s contribution to that Facebook page deserves especial recognition:

Some five further posts by Mr Tamiz follow, very much in the same vein.

All good fun: unless one has XX chromosomes, perhaps.

Nor should we forget Mr Tamiz’s insistence on straight speaking:

 Greater Scrutiny of Lecturers: 

We should not be paying to listen to some one attempt and fail at speaking clear English. There should be greater scrutiny of lecturers. 

So the problem:

By all accounts, Mr Tamiz is no longer the Tory candidate in Margate’s Salmeston Ward. He will never, politically, live this little lot down; but he has youth and immaturity to excuse it to some degree.

That does not exculpate his elders who selected him:

Did the local Tory Party not scrutinise, not question the views of this unstable and unsuitable young man before nominating him (albeit in a Labour-held Ward)? Did his sponsors not wonder what they were signing up to?

Or did they merely echo the chauvinism of their national leader?

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Filed under bigotry, Conservative family values, David Cameron, education, Elections, London, Tories.

Ask a stupid question …

The Daily Mail is famous for having headline questions to which the answer is a resounding NO!

The BBC website has trumped that with this:

Is the web waging war on super-injunctions?

Well, now, c’mon!

The piece, by-lined to Alex Hudson continues:

After an injunction was made banning the release of the name of a Premier League footballer and details of his personal life, rumours and names appeared on the web within hours. But it is not the first time that court orders promising privacy have been broken on the internet.

In the papers recently, a lot has been made of so-called “super-injunctions”, where even the fact that an injunction has been granted, or the name of the person applying for it, must be kept secret.

Injunctions have allowed entertainers, sport stars, actors and many more to protect what they see as their right to privacy from the press.

In passing, it’s worth noting that the “beneficiaries” of these injunctions are, without exception, very rich, generally white, but inevitably males. [Everybody else merely has their phones bugged by the Murdoch press.]

By now that Premier League footballer has been pretty effectively nailed, even to having the rhyme of his name bleeped on a prime-time TV prog.

So, my learned friends, here’s your starter for £10,000 … (plus your daily “refresher”):

Can you devise an injunction which does not have someone, somewhere on the world-wide-web (there’s a clue in just that) by-passing it within hours?

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Filed under BBC, Daily Mail, Law, Murdoch

Avast! ye lubbers!

Malcolm wasn’t doing very well with this week’s Culture supplement of the Sunday Times. For our foreign readers: it’s the TV guide, all tarted up with any piss-elegant revoos for piss-elegant people (© a sage of Bartley Dunne’s, early ’60s).

Anyway, as the late and unlamented Reichsmarschall Hermann Wilhelm Göring didn’t say: When I hear the word “culture”, I reach for my Browning. That would be neat, ironic, and appropriate for the only flicker of intellect and — yes — “culture” in the Nazi hierarchy, except Hanns Johst got it out first.

So back to the Sunday Times:

So, by the time Malcolm reached Christopher Hart’s more-than-slightly sour review of Betty Blue Eyes (which almost every other opinion has as very tasty indeed), Malcolm was distinctly jaundiced. Anyway: yes, Mr Hart (of whom more in a mo’) — you can’t do your Murdochian/Ayr Randian thing with:

In the wider world of the Attlee-Cripps regime, as Evelyn Waugh called it, there’e the birth of the welfare state, increasing intrusion into people’s private lives, and other rotten ideas.

and get away with it.

If Hart doesn’t get it (and Alan Bennett most definitively did), after war-time and post-war rationing, there were many Brits who yearned for comfortable shoes, a slice of thick fatty bacon, a chiropodist, and survived on BBC-unapproved lavatorial humour. Well, Hart, you won’t get away with as long as Malcolm’s generation persists to point you the error of your ways.

After all, the whole point of a musical is to make:

a big song and dance about it, with brassy show-stopping numbers … , much energetic leaping and twirling, and even some pink feather boas.

On with the motley …

Once among the books (page 40), things picked up.

Slightly smug, Malcolm noted he had knocked off two of the Top Ten fiction best-sellers last week:


Hint: go for Leon every time — nobody else manages the embroidery of a ‘teccy with so much social observation and social relevance. The Mankell looks very much like a Reichenbachfall moment: may we expect Inspector Wallender’s past career to be revived when sales figures, and TV tie-ins, demand?

Thus encouraged, Malcolm pressed on; and he soon found that Christopher Hart had redeemed himself with a review of David Cordingly’s Spanish Gold. The review is well worth ripping from behind the pay-wall:

Until 1973, the Bahamas had as its motto the splendidly blunt Expulsis piratis, restituta commercia (Pirates expelled, commerce restored), which sounds like a British Army telegram. Today the country’s motto is the rather wet “Forward, Upward, Onward Together”, which sounds like something by Nick Clegg — on a good day.

The man behind the Bahamas’s old anti-piratical boast is the subject of David Cordingly’s rousing and colourful book about the cut-throats and buccaneers who infested the Spanish Main during the 18th century. Captain Woodes Rogers was a classic example of poacher turned gamekeeper: a “privateer” himself before the British authorities realised that it was a man of just such experience who could be turned against the pirates, and appointed him governor of the Bahamas.

Around Rogers’s two governorships, running from 1718 to his death in 1732, Cordingly spins many a vivid and hair-raising tale. Before Rogers took control of the Bahamas, the Caribbean was a truly lawless and violent place — although as Cordingly usefully reminds us, so was Finchley. In October 1717, the Irish mailcoach was held up on Finchley Common by five masked highwayman, and one poor lady within was stripped not only of her gold watch and rings, but her “clothes, smock and all”, so that the coachman was obliged to lend her his greatcoat to protect her modesty. Four of the five highwaymen were later caught and hanged.

From the statistics quoted by Cordingly, it appears that a Caribbean pirate in those days also had a strong chance (at least 50%) of ending his life on the gallows. Rogers certainly achieved a higher clear-up rate than one of his predecessors, Colonel Cadwalader Jones, who took up the governorship in 1690, and was officially described as “whimsical”. Really not the kind of man to tackle pirates such as Edward Teach — better known as Blackbeard. His regular toast was “Damnation to King George!”, he had at least 14 wives, and wore lighted matches stuck under his hat during battle.

Another notorious figure was Bartholomew Roberts, said to have coined the phrase “a merry life and a short one”. Not so merry for Roberts’s victims. Some Dutch seamen who resisted an onslaught from Roberts’s crew for four hours were later almost whipped to death, had their ears cut off or were “fixed to the yardarms and fired at as a mark”. Roberts was killed in 1722 in an encounter with the Royal Navy, hit in the throat by grapeshot. He died festooned in buccaneer bling, wearing a crimson damask waistcoat, a red feather in his hat, and a diamond cross hanging from a gold chain around his neck. You can always count on a murderer for a fancy dress style.

There were even women among the privateers, “pirates in petticoats”, though by no means the first of their kind. As Cordingly points out, the earliest known example is one Alwilda, “the daughter of a Scandinavian king who had taken command of a company of pirates and roamed the Baltic in the 5th century AD”. She eventually became Queen of Denmark, and Vivaldi even wrote an opera about her.

Her most notorious counterparts in the 18th century were Anne Bonny and Mary Read. A contemporary illustration depicts them with long flowing locks, bare breasts alluringly peeking out from unbuttoned blouses, for all the world like Georgian page 3 girls. After brief but bloodthirsty careers, Bonny and Read were caught and sentenced to be hanged, but pleaded, truthfully, that they were both “quick with child”. The sentence was suspended, though Mary died of prison fever. But there is some evidence that Bonny later moved to Charleston, South Carolina, married and had eight children, and lived to the ripe old age of 84. You can’t help wondering what tales she told her grandchildren. “My granny was a pirate!”

Cordingly is particularly good on the causes and economics of piracy. For decades the British government had tacitly encouraged the privateers to attack their French and Spanish enemies, much like the West arming the mujaheddin. Then came the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, which brought to an end the war of the Spanish succession, and put thousands of sailors and marines out of work. Joining the privateers — now redesignated “pirates” — was an obvious career choice for the wilder among them. And as with drug smuggling today, the profits could be mind-boggling. A single Spanish treasure fleet in 1715, for instance, carried gold and silver coins, gold bars, gold dust, pearls, emeralds, silks, spices and Chinese porcelain, amounting in today’s terms to a colossal £135m. Almost enough to pay a single day’s interest on our national debt.

Spanish Gold is a fine mix of such hard-headed history and a richly evoked atmosphere, with its murderous characters, exotic locations and fabulous cargoes of treasure. There is even a walk-on part for the real-life Robinson Crusoe, Alexander Selkirk. It’s entertaining to learn that, having been stranded in peaceful solitude for four years on the Juan Fernandez islands off Chile, dining on crayfish and roast goat, watercress and parsley, he was in notably better health than his ship-bound saviours, and at first showed a marked reluctance to be rescued at all, and “would rather have chosen to remain in his solitude, than come away”.

This will — yes, will — be a fair addition to Malcolm’s reading, and subsequently his shelves. Cordingley has a useful career as a historian of the maritime chaos that was the period from the late 17th through the 18th century, until first the United States and then the Europeans cracked down on the doings of the sea-robbers and the people-traffickers (that latter item took the Americans a wee bit longer). His biography of Cochrane (Malcolm has the US edition) is no bad effort.

In the meantime, Malcolm has 1,500 pages of Neal Stephenson to relish.

The even tenor of Malcolm’s way was severely disturbed by turning up a paperback of Quicksilver. How had something so sumptuous passed him by? He is now well into The Confusion (any novel that starts at the siege of Drogheda has a fair chance of being taken to the conclusion). And there’s still The System of the World sitting on the bed-side table.

That’s all part of the delight surviving as a superannuated pensioner. As Aldous Huxley rendered it:

Like every other good thing in this world, leisure and culture have to be paid for. Fortunately, however, it is not the leisured and the cultured who have to pay.

Malcolm should feel guilty. Alas: he can’t.

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Filed under crime, culture, Detective fiction, fiction, History, Ireland, Literature, Murdoch, Quotations, reading, Shakespeare, Sunday Times

Foundation garments

The, harrumph, tail end of a report by James Bone — indeed — for today’s Times [£]:

Evidence by two teenage beauty queens emerged yesterday in which they claimed that they were “terrorised” by Mr Berlusconi at a bunga-bunga party. Ambra Battiliana and Chiara Danese, both 18, alleged that Mr Berlusconi fondled them and urged other women to strip them as part of a sex game.

Mr Berlusconi’s lawyer said their claims “lack any foundation”.

Any double-entendres were presumably improved in translation from Italian.


On which (low) note, there’s also the following , now immortalised in the Oxford English Dictionary:

fnarr fnarr, int. and adj.

Pronunciation: Brit. /ˈfnɑː fnɑː/ , U.S. /ˈˌfnɑr ˈˌfnɑr/

Etymology: Imitative of smothered or half-suppressed laughter. Brit.

A. int.
Representing lecherous or half-suppressed laughter. Freq. used to indicate sexual innuendo; cf. nudge, nudge (wink, wink) at nudge n. 3.

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Filed under Europe, Quotations, sleaze., smut peddlers, Times

Nasty … and incompetent

The Barnet thuggerama saga continues to enthrall and appal.

This week’s Ham & High (story not on-line, apparently) picks up on, but fails to report Monday’s Barnet Council meeting.

Councillor Alison Moore, leader of the Labour opposition, had an emergency motion down (full text here), which was inevitably squelched by the Tory mafia.

What transpires from all this is:

  • MetPro had a contract with Barnet;
  • MetPro had no Security Industry Authority [SIA] licences for the “security” services they were providing;
  • Barnet and MetPro disagree on the most essential aspect of that contract:

Noyan Nihat … said he has applied for the [appropriate] licence but has not yet received it. He also said his company employees were not “security staff” for the borough of Barnet — a claim Barnet disputes.

  • Barnet had not bothered to check these non-existent licences (well, natch);
  • Barnet were unable to see what was clearly happening inside their own premises and Council chamber:

Barnet Council said that it was unaware that members of MetPro staff were not registered. A spokesman said: “We were assured by MetPro that all staff were SIA registered. Staff should have been following industry guidelines and been wearing accredited ID”.

  • The Met Police now say that any CCTV or surreptitious camerawork was totally out-of-order; but, of course, they had previously taken no great interest in MetPro, even though MetPro vehicles, tarted up to look “official”, were putting themselves obtrusively around North London:

This week Deputy Borough police commander of Barnet, Neil Seabridge emphasised that use of any ‘covert’ or ‘intrusive surveillance would not have been sanctioned by police … a highly regulated area which requires specific written authority by a police superintendent or above when police initiate it for very specific reasons linked to investigation or prevention of crime.

Odd that: the MetPro web-site (still up, active, and apparently touting for custom) suggests that, by name and by inclination, the Met Police and this gang of shysters are in the same business:

In May 2009, MetPro Emergency Response launched its private emergency response service in Totteridge. Since then, it has gone from strength to strength, proving successful in becoming a valuable asset to a great many houses in Totteridge and Whetstone. By acting as a visual deterrent, the crime rate has dropped substantially in this area whilst increasing everywhere else.

MetPro Emergency Response is now expanding the service by taking it borough wide, thereby providing the protection and peace of mind for many more people in the surrounding areas.

Pretty well every aspect of the MetPro-Barnet connexion seems more Capone than kosher. So Malcolm feels an urge to speculate:

Suppose this (or anything like it) occurred in the next-door borough of Haringey, which is Labour controlled. Would not the streets be crawling with reptiles from the Tory press? Would not the shrieks of LibDem MPs and camp-followers rise for revenge? Would not Pickles have his heavy mob rummaging through the documents?

But no.

Barnet is a star EasyJet council, the apple of any Tory eye. As such, in the present dispensation, it can do no wrong — well, it can’t be seen to do so. And if it does, tut tut!

Mr Toad, Councillor Brian Coleman has his political base in Barnet. Coleman is Boris Johnson’s personal fire-wall.

There will, it seems, be no enquiry into the whole shebang. That’s despite the clear assumptions that crimes have been committed — and not just defrauding the revenue and the Council  tax-payer. When MetPro were admitted to sites (college and library) where children and young persons were likely to be, a certain amount of form-filling would usually be required. If Barnet by-passed those requirements, there is a burden of proof on the Council.

Instead any “audit” will take place in private, under the helpful scrutiny of LibDem Councillor Lord Monroe Palmer, elevated to the House of Lords last autumn as one of Nick Clegg’s loyal ConDem praetorians.

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Filed under Boris Johnson, Conservative family values, Conservative Party policy., crime, Lib Dems, London, Tories.