Category Archives: Green Party

The end of Swiveleyesation as we know it?

Another magnificent coinage by the great Steve Bell:

Steve Bell 21.05.2013

Yesterday Malcolm was attempting to find some kind of historical context — or, failing that, the comedy of errors — which has led to the present Great Tory Bad-Hair Day.

Today Benedict Brogan writes his Morning Briefing for the Telegraph blogs, and sweepingly assumes it’s all water down the sink. Happy Days are Hair Again. The skies above are clear again. So we’ll sing a song of cheer again:

Well, almost:

Cast your eyes along the waterfront this morning after the night before and you might conclude that things are fairly dire for Dave. He’s suffered another major rebellion (I know, I know it was a free vote, but he still failed to persuade his colleagues to follow his lead), there’s lashings of backbiting, and he’s been reduced to sending a pleading ‘Dear Mr Loon, I still love you’ letter to his members, something even American commentators have picked up on as a bad look. Nick Watt, a keen reader of Tory runes, spots a sea-change in attitudes to Dave among MPs and raises the prospect of a move against him in The Guardian, with more letters going in to Graham Brady. As I mention in my column, grown ups inside No10 realise that they are stuck with a number of what they refer to as ‘legacy issues’, from not winning the 2010 election to the gay marriage idea.

200px-Candide1759The rest of Brogan’s musings stretch for, but don’t quite reach a Panglossian optimum:

Much of what has excited us in recent weeks will have passed the voters by, and after tonight’s vote gay marriage will be on its way to becoming law, and passing out of the current political debate. With the economy slowly improving and Labour wallowing, the Tories surely should be able to claw themselves off the rocks. This will require a fair wind, and a commitment by Mr Cameron and those around him to sharpen up. It also means not surrendering to the bullying disguised as advice from those agitating against Dave, whether it’s David Davis or Lord Ashcroft. The recess starts today, a good opportunity for everyone to calm down and for the PM to have a think about how he organises himself from now on.

[For the record, Voltaire in 1759 is parodying Leibnitz of 1698: not many people know that.]

Legacy issues

Such was the vein into which history-mining Malcolm was driving his shaft with yesterday’s piece. Let us then consider what rich ore Brogan has found:

Gay marriage served as a stark reminder of just how far removed Dave’s world view often seems from his troops. As The Guardian notes, the inter-generational divisions in the Tory party were particularly stark. Sir Gerald Howarth, the former defence minister last year knighted on the PM’s advice, warned in yesterday’s debate of an “aggressive homosexual community” in the country. Edward Leigh lamented that the “outlandish views of the loony left of the 1980s” had become “embedded in high places”.

Really? Really! It’s all those gays? Hardly!

Brogan concludes by passing us and the tar-baby onto Janan Ganesh in the Financial Times. Ganesh asserts it’s 2010 and All That:

… the election that should detain David Cameron is the last one. The prime minister’s estrangement from his party has many causes – the inexhaustibly vexed question of Europe, the same-sex marriage bill he takes to Parliament this week – but the rancour really set in with his failure to win in 2010. This original sin led to coalition with the Liberal Democrats, a political miscegenation that turns Tory stomachs, and broke the unspoken covenant that allows a leader to be as autocratic as he likes as long he delivers. Last week, a prime ministerial ally was reported to have disparaged the party’s grassroots as “swivel-eyed loons”. “Arrogant losers” tends to be the rejoinder.

Ganesh then reprises the course of the 2010 Tory election campaign, concluding:

For all the campaign’s haplessness, the Tories ended it with roughly the same poll lead over Labour as they began it. Mr Cameron was still preferred by voters to his party. The campaign was a non-event, as they usually are. The real reason for the Tories’ failure had more to do with the economic insecurity that nagged at voters when shown blueprints for austerity by a party they already mistrusted. That the economy was slithering out of recession at the same time hardened their risk aversion. Fiscal clarity made for bad short-term politics, and yet the blame has somehow gone to other, softer aspects of the Tory offering.

The Conservatives did not fail because they were seen as high-minded metropolitans, but because they were too redolent of the same old Tories. They had changed too little, not too much. The people who should have been vindicated by 2010 were the modernisers. But their chronic passivity, their lordly distaste for a fight, has allowed a misremembered version of that election to become the definitive history. This is undermining Mr Cameron and shaping a future in which only the ideologically orthodox can lead the Tories.

That is indeed the “high-quality journalism” that the FT prudently reminds low-life, thieving types (like Malcolm, shamelessly ripping of those extracts) needs paying for. [Again, for the record, Malcolm happily pays for the print edition, especially at weekends, if only to pre-empt what he knows the Sundays will regurgitate as original thought.]

Two small details (1):

Those televised debates (and Cameron’s foolish participation in televised debates that he flunked) really screwed up the opinion polls. In a different context (to which we may come in a moment), Malcolm was reviewing just how the 2010 polling went. The answer is not very well:

2010 polling

Got that? The main impact of the televised debates was to flatter the LibDem vote by anything between 3% and 6% (which amounts to gross “data artifact“), while under-rating Tory support just slightly, and Labour’s quite significantly. One might feel that Cameron & co. have been blinded by those errors ever since.

Two small details (2):

On their perception of the election result, and of the “reliability” of the LibDems, the Cameron & co. “modernisers” entered their Mephistophelean pact with Clegg & co. — two capitalist combines monopolising the market for their short-term profit. Let’s have another 18th-century great intellect’s view on that:

People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. It is impossible indeed to prevent such meetings, by any law which either could be executed, or would be consistent with liberty and justice. But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies; much less to render them necessary.

Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations (see page 111 in this e-text)

An alternative history

Wind back to Friday, 7th May, 2010, with the last of the 649 results coming in (the 650th, a safe Tory seat — Thirsk and Malton, was delayed by the death of a candidate). This is what we saw:

  • Tories: 305 (and bound to be 306);
  • Labour: 258, plus Caroline Lucas, the Green for Brighton Pavilion, and Sylvia Herman, likely to attend infrequently but then vote with Labour (so call it around 260);
  • Lib Dems: 57, plus Naomi Long for Alliance in East Belfast (so 58 at a pinch);
  • DUP: 8;
  • SNP: 6;
  • SDLP, Plaid Cymru: 3 apiece.

The Speaker is neutral, though votes for the government in a tie, and Sinn Féin are non-attenders (so, n=650-6). A cynical calculation is the cash-strapped sand bruised Labour and LibDem contingents aren’t too keen on a quick re-run; but, more to the point, there are at least a score of odds-and-sods turkeys there who can’t afford to vote for Christmas (sayn n=650-26). The most basic “working majority” would be, in practice, well short of the nominal 326 (the calculation above suggests 312 at most)— and Dave’s Tories are within a spit of just that.

So, in the short term, Dave’s Tories could talk the talk, cobble a “confidence and supply” arrangement with even the DUP (306+8=314), and walk the walk through until a second election in the autumn. By which moment Tory coffers, uniquely among the main operators, would be topped up by the grateful and expectant clique of bond-traders and hedge-funders.

A second election, please note, that could have been contrived by losing a vote of confidence on some populist issue (immigration?). A second election, too, in which the Tory economic record would be buffed up by the tail-end of Alistair Darling’s economics (it was only in the autumn of 2010, thanks to Osborne’s austerity, that the UK economy went into flat-lining).

In short, had Cameron done the right thing, the Tory thing, he would now likely be sitting on a secure Tory majority, and figuring his way to calling the next election at his choosing, on his terms, and not on those of the LibDem dictated Fixed-term Parliaments Act. He would also have enjoyed the benefits of a greater patronage for Tory backbench nonentities, not having to service the self-esteem of LibDem nonentities.

All the Tory back-benchers, and the wannabes out in the cold have done that math. The iron has entered their souls.

One last thing

We were looking there at how the polling companies had cocked it up. Enter the new-boy on the block, Survation. Ben Brogan (see above) gave that a nod in passing:
The fightback could just start here. Though from a low base if you believe a new Survation poll in The Guardian. It has the Tories down to 24 pc – just two points above Ukip.

Look closer, and we find The Guardian, doesn’t give Survation more than the time of day.

Andrew Sparrow counters with the YouGov/Sun numbers:

Last night Survation released a poll showing the Tories just two points ahead of Ukip.

Here are the figures.
Labour: 39% (down 1 from YouGov in the Sunday Times)
Conservatives: 31% (up 2)
Ukip: 14% (no change)
Lib Dems: 10% (up 1)
Labour lead: 8 points (down 3)
Government approval: -34 (up 5)

Finally, let’s hear it from Anthony Wells (whose shock-factor is also set to minimum):

Survation have put out a new poll, the topline voting intention figures are CON 24%(-5), LAB 35%(-1), LD 11%(-1), UKIP 22%(+6). The 22% for UKIP is the first poll to show them breaking the twenty percent mark.
In many ways the high UKIP score here shouldn’t come as a surprise, for methodological reasons Survation tend to show the highest levels of UKIP support so if ICM have them at 18% and ComRes at 19% I would have expected Survation to have them in the low twenties. Striking it may be, but the increase in UKIP support is actually in line with what weve seen elsewhere, just using a method that is kinder to UKIP.
More interesting is the drop in Tory support, down five points on Survation’s poll in April. The poll was conducted on Friday and Saturday so at least partially after the “swivel eyed loon” story broke (it came out in Saturday’s papers, so broke about 10pm on Friday night). All the usual caveats I apply to any poll showing sharp or unusual results apply. Sure, it might indicate a shift in support, but just as likely its a blip – wait to see if it is reflected in any other polling. As Twyman’s Law of market research says “anything surprising or interesting is probably wrong”.

As Wells implies, there, swallowing Survation might not produce the glorious summer the Kippers expect. More likely, “up like the rocket, and down like the stick”: UKIP is hardly the best-presented pyrotechnic in the box.

Swiveleyesation may endure yet.


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Filed under Alistair Darling, Autumn, BBC, blogging, Britain, Conservative Party policy., Daily Telegraph, David Cameron, democracy, DUP, economy, Elections, fiction, George Osborne, Green Party, Guardian, History, Homophobia, Literature, policing, polls, Steve Bell, Tories.

Still with the parliamentary accountancy

That previous post was merely a taster of poisons to come.

Sure enough, the SNP and Caroline Lucas, as well as William McCrae, are now firmly on record, saying “No change!” What was it about turkeys voting for Christmas?

On the other hand, we have Harriett Baldwin, the MP for West Worcestershire (maj: 6854 over a Lib Dim. These are the Malvern Hills and Bredon, and have been Tory since Adam were a lad), tweeting:

If it does cost £590,000 a year for each MP, delaying the boundary changes which cut 50MPs by 3 yrs will cost taxpayers £90 million

To which Malcolm has replied:

 If Cameron hadn’t set a world record in creating 125 new Life Peers, that might almost be an argument.

Almost one a week.

Members of the Lords are entitled to £3oo a day, plus travel, accommodation and fodder allowances.

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Highly political polling

That mention of Boris Johnson in the previous post reminds Malcolm he hasn’t paid proper attention to the London Evening Standard‘s poll, published on Monday of this week. Perhaps no attention is precisely how much this bit of puffery deserved.

Obviously nothing of import had happened among the Great Wen’s 7-and-a-half million denizens over the weekend, so the Standard‘s front page was a shriek of delight for the cult of celebrity:

Four more years of Boris Johnson, says poll

London will be run by Boris Johnson for another four years, according to an exclusive Evening Standard poll.

The Mayor is eight points ahead of his rival Ken Livingstone – but is in danger of losing tens of thousands of votes because of his Tube, bus and rail policies.

An election held today would see Mr Johnson remain in City Hall with 54 per cent of the vote.

Well, if one really, really needed an example of lies, damn lies and statistics, here we have it in cold print. But, after all, this comes from the well-known Evening Boris (© Dave Hill) cheat-sheet.

First up, five months before a single vote is cast, the use of the definite London will be run by Boris Johnson for another four years seems to jump the gun somewhat. Admittedly, later in the article sanity prevails and we slip into the conditional mood with “may be”. Bookies have always waxed fat on such assertions.

Second, no candidate will be getting 54 per cent of the vote, at least not on first preferences. That exposes the obvious fallacy of the exercise. Repondents were offered just two choices: Johnson or Livingstone. Only in the very last question, on preferences over a number of topics, was it recognised that there would be other candidates — and the only one admitted even at this late stage of the game-of-kicks-and-ha’pence was Brain Paddick for the LibDems.

Now there’s a thought in itself: how will the LibDem campaign — and Paddick is no Yes-man — differentiate itself from the ConDem coalition? That could be very interesting.

Moreover, there will certainly be many more candidates than just these three — last time, in 2008, there were ten — and it is trite to assume that the Greens (3.2% first preferences in 2008), the BNP (2.8%) and UKIP (not quite 1%) won’t be up for it. Plus, the Green Party are putting up Jenny Jones — who, despite a popular recognition problem not wholly dissociated from the Standard’s lack of any proper coverage of Assembly matters — has been as effective a member of the Assembly as any.

In point of fact, in 2008 BoJo had 42.5% of first preferences — which still gave him the highest poll ever achieved by any UK politician.

Next May it’ll all come down to the transfer of second preferences.

So, here’s a task for the Evening Boris in any future polling: track those preferences.

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Lots of fun on Highway One

Malcolm, at least when he is possession of a wallet (for which see previous post), is a sucker for the magazine shelves of his local WH Smug. A couple of glossies play vicariously to his wanderlust, so he rarely misses issues of Coast and Lonely Planet Magazine.

The latest issue of Lonely Planet has an “Awards” feature. Thus Malcolm found (page 62) the Most incredible journey was the Trans-Siberian Railway. Listed as the last of the “runners-up” was:

5: Driving the Pacific Coast Highway from Los Angeles to San Francisco

This prompted Malcolm’s objection: Why would anyone do it in that direction?

Go north, if one must, on the eighteen-wheeler hell that is Highway 101.

Don’t forget to crank the CD/iPod to max for the “Ventura Highway” stretch:

America (the ’70s group, bonehead!) at full blast is as essential mood-music for this stretch as “Tales from the Vienna Woods” is for that last stretch of the E60/A1/West-Autobahn from Kirchstetten into Vienna:

Now, Malcolm offers that notion for free as the basis for an article: music to match roads to. Sponsored cover CD an optional extra.

OK, we’ve survived 101.

Turn off at Salinas, and take the better part of half a day to do the National Steinbeck Center (actually, well worth it), then take 68 back to the coast, which drops us nicely back on to Highway 1 at Monterey. There must be many teachers of EngLit who (like Malcolm) came away with the iconic T-shirt listing of Steinbeck’s works on the back, and, afront and to affront the philistines:

I guess there are never enough books

Next for Monterey and the Aquarium, If we do it properly, there’s another half-day or more gone for ever into the personal memory bank. Cue for another plundered vid (though the Flash headliner on the Aquarium’s website and the whole range of other multimedia resources there are crisper):

Time for food. The Aquarium, on the site of the Hovden Cannery, is as much as the average stomachs can take of the kitsch that is now Cannery Row, but which has to be traipsed to reach Fisherman’s Wharf.

The Redfellow ensemble lunched (quite nicely, too, and with added local India Pale Ale) at Domenico’s on Fisherman’s Wharf.

So, with Monterey done and dusted, we head south. It’s worth the fee to do the Pebble Beach 17-mile Drive (in fact, a bit under ten miles) and we get to view that iconic tree (right).

Onwards! To the main event!

Coming south, one has the sea immediately to the passenger side: since the Lady in his Life is doing the driving bit, that means Malcolm gets the beer and the thrill-ride. And that’s why Malcolm fails to grasp Lonely Planet magazine‘s sense of direction.

As Malcolm understand the “official” definition,  only bits of State Highway 1 are designated as “Pacific Coast Highway”. The particular bit to which Lonely Planet magazine refers runs between Monterey and Morro Bay. That takes in:

  • Carmel-by-the-Sea (foggy and pricey: only do the Hog’s Breath if you must, there’s no chance the boss will be in, but everybody asks),
  • Point Lobos (dive! dive!),
  • Big Sur,
  • Bixby Bridge (Photo-opportunity! photo-opportunity!),
  • Nepenthe (a sure stop and snacking point: who remembers it was Orson Welles’s/Rita Hayworth’s intended hideaway, but they never got there?),
  • then the glorious rocky stretch down to Ragged Point,
  • after which the PCH runs through grass pastureland,
  • book ahead for a tour of San Simeon (we’ll be back again: just believe the decadence, as right),
  • then Cambria (nice, but walk Moonstoone Beach: we might actually find some),
  • Harmony (blink and we miss it: but we are now entering serious wine country),
  • to end in sight of Morro Rock (between the late Fall and early Spring, we look for eucalyptus trees to find monarch butterflies).

The definition of “Pacific Coast Highway” seems to extend beyond that. To take an example: Malibu Pier is 23017 Pacific Coast Highway (and, in Santa Monica the addresses seem to run south-to-north). Malcolm suspects PCH addresses run all the way to the Airport, at least: by which time one has really reached the pits.

But you knew all of that.

Malcolm was already, thanks to the depredations of those Romas, was prepared to be easily irritated. It rankled that Lonely Planet had missed the great bits further north.

One year the Lady in his Life and Malcolm had intended the whole caboodle, from Vancouver to LA. It didn’t work out that way, and the expedition had to be severely abbreviated. They made Crater Lake (right) the weekend before it shut for the season. The previous day had brought them to Sisters, where morning frost had warned the location was a thousand metres in altitude and it was getting late in the year.

Since the lodges were not taking guests, they overnighted at Grant’s Pass (making sure to buy anything pricey, which included a MacBook, before leaving no-sales-tax Oregon). Then onto 199 and the Redwoods Highway.

Along here, there are 10 and 15 mph speed limits at certain points: suddenly, pulling aside for an oncoming vehicle (which is definitely ignoring any speed limit), with a wheel already in the roadside scuffle, an inch from a long drop, the limits seem over generous. After the descent through Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, 199 brings us onto 101 (far tamer than the bit heading up from LA) at Crescent City.

Plough on!

There are some good bits, for example across the Klamath River, but the next stopover should be Arcata, the “greenest” town in the US, and home of Humboldt University. The town gets lively, loud and (ahem!) aromatic on a Friday evening in term time.

After that, it’s stick to 101: nice country, up and down, but not a lot to note. At Leggett — if we’ve entered the town we’vwe gone too far — we take the signposted right onto Highway 1. That brings us down, via a couple of highly enjoyable (at least for passenger Malcolm, trusting the Lady’s driving) hairpins , to Shoreline Drive (which promptly kinks inland and away from any sight of shore).

Have faith: we get back to the sea shortly, and there are some spectacular beaches (all deserted: the sea here is cold) until we reach Fort Bragg. This, of course, is not the Fort Bragg of US Army Special Forces fame (that’s in South Carolina). This is a decent small town, full of retirement homes, yachties and the like: and several decent cheap motels. Fort Bragg has two quite different attractions: Glass Beach (effectively the old town dump rendered down by wave-action) and the Skunk Train (40 miles inland to Willitts, and then back again because that’s about it, in restored equipment from the 1920s).

Back in Fort Bragg, you’re not far from the next place of real note: Mendocino.

This wooden town has gone through more names than any con-man: Buldam to the Pomo Indians, Big River, Meiggstown after the railway speculator who tried to make this an alternative to the Bay Area, Mendocino City, and a stand-in for Monterey (in East of Eden) and “Cabot Cove, Maine” (in Murder, She Wrote).

Pretty well the whole burg is now a listed building: book into the Mendocino Hotel overlooking the Bay and damn the expense. Watch the sunset, though. Next door is the wine store, where Malcolm had an intensive course on the virtues of Cabernet Sauvignon at the cost of buying a small supply of excellent Big Yellow Cab.

Should you see a t-shirt advertising that brand, perambulating Muswell Hill, North London accost and greet Malcolm.

After Mendocino, Highway 1 lives up to its alias, Coast Highway, until Bodega Bay, after which we can cut inland to 101 or dog-leg back onto 1 (now Shoreline Highway) past Point Reyes. Either route lands us back at the Golden Gate Bridge, with the SF skyline in the background; which was where Lonely Planet‘s original thought also ended.

Malcolm sincerely apologises is any or all of that was introducing Granny to her soft-boiled egg.

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Filed under Beer, films, Green Party, History, leisure travel, Literature, London, Mac, Music, pubs, Quotations, reading, travel

Unrepresentative government – encore! encore!

Now, Malcolm thinks he has this right, but is open to correction.

The SNP first bought the Tories’ 17 votes. It cost £60 million for city-centre regeneration. That’s a smidgeon over £3.5 million a vote. Annabel Goldie seems to have been easily satisfied.

At some stage, Margo Macdonald was brought on board the good ship Salmond. Her stated price was money for housing in Edinburgh, in effect the lion’s share of the £20 million to be divided between Edinburgh and Glasgow. During the budget debate, John Swinney said he had given her what she asked for — whatever that means. Either way, she didn’t sell her honour as cheaply as La Goldie‘s

Then the SNP had to buy the two Green votes of Harvie and Harper. The opening bid was £22 million for home insulation. Or £11 million a vote. Which suggests even more that Annabel Goldie had obliged the nice gent for a bargain price.

The SNP conceded that, only to find that the Greens had already upped the ante. Their going-rate was now £33 million. A vote was now worth £16½ million.

The SNP agreed that again — no humiliation too great — , only to find the Greens were also requiringthe Holyrood budget to underwrite any shortfall at local council level. By this stage the Greens were talking of £100 million a year: £50 million a vote.

Even the pliant SNP choked on that.

So, at least in the short-term, the two Green votes went walkabout.

All of this is full public view of television, reporters, the public gallery …

To think, too, that the two Greens are not directly elected: they’re only there as a consequence of the “top-up” lists.

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How many shades of green?

Malcolm was amused and repelled by the story of the Arklow jobbies. It gets worse. And, bless their little cotton socks, Sinn Féin tried to make it an election issue.

It seems that Dublin City Council (in Malcolm’s day, it used to be the “Corporation”) export their “human waste” to be spread across the countryside. This practice is illegal in Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands. More northern Irish county councils (Cavan, Meath, Offaly and Roscommon) are also forbidding it. So, the muck-merchants move on, and over 8,000 tons were added to the County Wicklow landscape last year.

Here’s how to do it: take your crap, add lime (which is supposed to kill the bacteria, but doesn’t — e.coli persists at fifteen times the permitted level), mix with liquid leached from landfill (lots of lovely heavy metals), spray over farmland. There are three companies involved in this practice:

  • Land Organics of Kilkenny. Last year, this firm was denied permission to build a “waste-recovery facility” for 20,000 tonnes a year of “human sludge” near Portlaoise. The crap of Portlaoise amounts to about a tenth of that. Then, this April, the Galway village of Eyrecourt got the sludge spraying treatment, to considerable local disquiet.
  • SEDE Ireland, Ltd., of Tallaght. This is part of the Proxiserve Group (based in the southern suburbs of Paris), which in turn is a subsidiary of Veolia Eau, a Paris-based multinational.
  • Quinns of Baltinglass, a decent family firm which began in seeds and fertiliser (indeed!) and has branched into a pub and a supermarket.

Nor can Malcolm neglect Louis Moriarty. Mr Moriarty traded as Dublin Waste, which was a pseudonym for Swalcliffe Ltd (though why a fine and ancient Oxfordshire village should be invoked defies reason):

Louis Moriarty, a staunch Fianna Failer, has been involved in a number of court actions over illegal dumping by his former business, Swalcliffe Ltd, trading as Dublin Waste.

Malcolm will worry at that in a moment. Meanwhile, let’s stick with the court action against Swalcliffe for illegal dumping:

Wicklow County Council prosecuted Swalcliffe and the Moriartys last year [2002] to recover the cost of cleaning up a twoacre site at Coolnamadra, Donard, near the Glen of Imaal.

The council found that the Moriarty’s company had illegally dumped about 8,000 tonnes of waste, including bloodstained bandages, scalpels and laboratory waste.

The council estimates that it will cost €20 million to clean the site but Swalcliffe’s accounts for the year to April 30, 2002 say that “the estimated cost of remediating” the land and associated costs is €1.65 million…

In 2001, Wicklow Co Council discovered two major illegal dumps and commenced investigations along with the Gardai. Court proceedings were also issued against Swalcliffe Ltd.

The company was fined a total of IR£7,500 and ordered to pay IR£8,000 in costs for illegal dumping.
A hearing in Dublin District Court was told there were discrepancies of up to 8,500 tonnes per month between the amount of waste that Dublin Waste said it was disposing of and the amount received from it by two dumps approved by the Environmental Protection Authority.

But Mr Moriarty has friends in high places: it’s that “staunch Fianna Failer” thing. While the case against Swalcliffe was in process, Moriarty solicited his T.D. for help with obtaining a waste permit:

The Taoiseach was lobbied three years ago by the businessman with whom he was photographed in Kerry earlier this week.

Louis Moriarty, whose €20 million hotel development in Sneem Bertie Ahern visited on Tuesday, is at the centre of a series of investigations into illegal dumping.

Mr Ahern’s constituency office also contacted the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over the activities of Mr Moriarty who is a constituent of Mr Ahern and who lives on Griffith Avenue close to Mr Ahern’s home.

There is more, much more on this at, including the rocky road from Griffith Avenue to Sneem.

Moriarty quickly rid himself of Swalcliffe. It was sold to Greenstar for €5M, which apparently went to finance the €20M Sneem hotel in Mr Moriarty’s native Kerry, which was later graced by a visit and photo-op by Taoiseach Ahern. Thereby hangs another tale:

Greenstar is 88 per cent owned by National Toll Roads, the multi-million-euro company owned and controlled by Tom Roche and his family.

Ah, yes, sooner or later we get back to the late Tom Roche:

A legendary figure in Irish business … a Fianna Fail mover and shaker of the Haughey era … started off making blocks and selling coal from the back of a truck with a £250 investment from his mother. His connections with Charles Haughey enabled him to establish a cement monopoly in the Irish state.

CRH (Cement Roadstone Holdings) control the concession, NTR, which milks the Dublin toll roads and bridges. The money from NTR has financed the move into waste disposal, that is Greenstar, and thereby into electricity generation from waste.

Malcolm pauses to reflect upon the record of CRH:

Two men charged last week with illegal dumping and pollution on Cement Roadstone Holdings (CRH) sites have been described by An Taisce as “fall guys” for the company’s poor environmental record.

John Healy from Blessington and his son Francis were charged with illegal dumping in relation to incidents in January 1997 and December 2001 when they are accused of disposing “lorryloads of waste without a waste licence”. A second charge was brought for dumping “in a manner that caused or was likely to cause pollution”.

Frank Corcoran, chairman of An Taisce, said the decision by James Hamilton, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), not to bring criminal charges against CRH, the owners of the land, is clearly contrary to European Union environmental law…

The two men charged last week are directors of Blessington Plant Hire, which was contracted by CRH to dredge pools used to clean gravel extracted from the Wicklow quarry. They are also directors of Blue Bins, a sewage and refuse disposal company. The plant hire company had unlimited access to CRH sites for several years.

During the course of the investigation, environmental investigators from Wicklow county council discovered eight separate illegal dumping sites by overflying the 600-acre site with thermal-imaging equipment that spots the higher temperatures of decomposing waste. Three of the sites were described as having “substantial” amounts of waste and three more as in need of remediation.

Half the estimated 100,000 tonnes of dumped material found by investigators was domestic and the rest was construction and demolition waste. Wicklow council has ordered CRH to remove the waste, but the Environmental Protection Agency must issue a licence.

Which brings us back to the topic of the day: coalition partners for Fianna Fáil. As “Dewey Finn” said “Read between the lines”:

Green Party leader Trevor Sargent, who looks set to head a total of six Green TDs in the Dáil, said that once his party had clarified and focused on the issues in hand, they would “definitely” be discussing with other parties the possibility of forming a stable government.

However, Mr Sargent insisted that Green Party policies needed to be discussed before any such arrangement was reached.

He said banning corporate donations would be high on his party’s agenda if it was to enter into a government with Fianna Fáil. His party’s decision would depend on how serious other parties were about forming a stable government.

Mind where you tread!

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Filed under Bertie Ahern, Fianna Fail, Green Party, human waste