October 31, 2004

Bin Laden Boosts Bush


It could have gone either way, but it would appear that George Bush has received a significant, and possibly decisive, boost in the polls after Osama Bin Laden's recorded "message to the American People" this week. In many other countries the appearance of your nemesis, mocking your policies on video, would have reminded the voters of an administration's past failures. Not in America however. While John Kerry has been quick to point out the Bush government's failure to capture the Saudi terrorist leader, the American voters appear to believe Bush is the man to lead this phony war on terror. Bush and his neo-con cronies have made the world a far more dangerous place with their divisive and interventionist policies. They are revolutionaries in every sense, yet the American people appear to have bought into their mythical project, and the Bin Laden tape has simply reinforced that message. A cynic might note that this new video was released at the most convenient time possible for the Bush campaign. I couldn't possibly comment!

October 28, 2004

Buttiglione Finally Goes


Rocco Buttiglione, the newly appointed EU commissioner who claims that homosexuals are sinners who will go to hell, women should stay in the kitchen and that single mothers are "bad people", has finally resigned. Buttiglione had claimed some kind of hate campaign against him by European Socialists. You know what, he's right too. Buttiglione is certainly not the kind of man that represents the European project - so if people hate him, good. His views may be consistent with the right-wing catholic doctrine he and the Vatican believe in, but s not with the majority opinion in Europe I suspect. Isn't one of the founding principals of the EU equality - both for women and for people who are homosexual? The issue now is that the right-wing in the European Parliament will want revenge for Buttiglione's departure. In the end the whole commission will probably go and we'll have to start all over again. Europe - makes 'One Flews Over the Cuckoo's Nest' look like a study in sanity!

October 26, 2004

Bush Aids The Insurgents


That's the only logical conclusion after the extraordinary revelation that 386 tons of high explosives and conventional munitions were simply looted by insurgents from under the noses of the America military. The Bush administration have attempted to brush off the controversy by claiming that the explosives were moved by Saddam before the war - yet Canadian TV footage clearly shows American military, with the weaponry at the al-Qaqaa military base, after the end of 'major combat operations' and the fall of the regime. So, yet another lie by a administration that does it both compulsively and obsessively. And who's hands have these weapons got into? Almost certainly the very insurgents that the US are so desperately fighting at the moment. It would be ironic if it didn't mean that yet more civilian lives will be lost to American military heavy-handedness in dealing with insurgents. What it does point to, yet again, is the total and utter lack of planning by the Bush administration before the war began. The sooner this man is voted out, the better the world will be.

October 24, 2004

Bush/Kerry Neck and Neck


John Kerry has drawn level, at last, with George Bush in the latest opinion polls - there are just 10 days to go before polling begins in earnest. The latest polls, with the usual 3% margin of error, put Kerry and Bush on around 49% of the vote each. The Kerry campaign does seem to have come alive now, it's a shame that Kerry wasn't able to shed his woodenness earlier. Worryingly, it seems that Bush has a slight lead in many of the swing states. As many as nine states are too close to call - with Florida likely to come down to just a few hundred votes yet again. In the end, the election will probably be decided by turnout. Can Kerry get enough of the black and Hispanic vote out in key states to swing the election his way? As happened in 2000, I'm not discounting a George Bush 'win' but with a lower share of the popular vote than Kerry.

October 20, 2004

Gambling - Who Cares?


The press are up in arms about the proposed changes to the gambling laws but I just don't get what all the fuss is about. Something like 2% of all gambling is done in casinos and yes, the new laws will allow more people to gamble in casinos. So what? Some people will win, some will lose and some will get fleeced but everybody has a choice whether to play or not. However, while a few people who are addicted to gambling may suffer, many more who like a harmless flutter will have the range of options available to them increased. I don't really gamble. Maybe the odd lottery ticket, a tenner on the national or a bet on the cup final. Yet, I can walk into a betting shop, play poker online and stake thousands on spread betting if I want to. Gambling is already part of our culture. The moral outrage could have been predicted but I'm willing to bet that it'll all blow over soon enough.

October 18, 2004

Education Shake-Up


On the face of it the planned shake-up of the GCSE and A Level system appears to be a step in the right direction. The Tomlinson Report recommends scrapping the current examination system and replacing it with a broader, continental-style baccalaureate. At its core, the plan recognises that many children coming out of the current education system lack the skills necessary for the work force. However, there's little or no point just rebadging a failing system. If a broader range of skills is what the economy really needs, then the system has to provide that. Above all, it must allow for equal opportunities and not continue down the road of elitism (in the worst sense of the word) and tiered education that the Blair government has been following.

October 17, 2004

Tony - Get Out Now


Depending on who you believe somewhere between 25,000 and 100,000 people took to the streets on London yesterday to protest against the continuing occupation of Iraq by British and US troops. There was a clear message to Tony Blair - get the troops out now. Blair won't listen of course - he didn't listen with a couple of million on the streets in February 2003, so he's not going to start now. What we know now, of course, is what we all felt then. Iraq had no WMDs, they were no immediate threat and the war was far more about power, money and oil than Western security. In the proceeding months we have discovered that much of the information in the September dossier was indeed dodgy - 5/6 sources used were considered unreliable and the 45min claim was at least third hand. That much of the intelligence given to the Americans and British was from Iraqi dissidents should have given them a clue to its authenticity. Still, with any last semblance for justifying occupation gone when will Tony get the message?

October 16, 2004

US To Invade Britain Next


Ok, well not quite but having grown sick of American troops being blown to bits by Iraqi insurgents (freedom fighters/terrorists depending on whom you believe), the US want British troops to take their place. It's understandable really - when you're fighting an unpopular war against an enemy that you don't understand, with no plan to end the conflict, how about getting the poodle to take some of the heat? Hoon and Blair, of course, chickened out of defending their impending shafting by Bush - and said it would be up to generals "in the field" to decide. So if the generals say no, Blair will say no to Bush will he? Yeah right! Perhaps Tony can show what a brave leader he is by going to the front line himself, bayonette in hand and charging at said insurgents - bit like the Light Brigade, Crimea, circa 1856. One can but dream!

October 15, 2004

Boris, How Could You ...


... be so stupid as to think that making a point about the British tendency to mass hysteria when anyone (in the public eye) dies, would meet with anything other than exactly the same reaction? Ok, so the Spectator is an evil nasty rag and Boris Johnson, its editor, is not much nicer. However, why is there some kind of national mourning every time someone who's been in the news dies? I'm not heartless, I feel for Ken Bigley and his family, just as I feel for the 13,000 Iraqi civilians who 'we' have killed in 'our' war. Johnson of course took it too far. It's not about welfarism or being a victim, Boris. In recalcitrating to a stereotyped vision of Liverpool - full of dole blaggers, criminals and scallies - Boris lost the argument. However, there is a wider tendency to mass hysteria in the British psyche and particularly tabloid newspapers - Bigley, Princess Diana, Soham murders. Yet, African boy found in Thames 'sans head', Victoria Climbié battered to death, thousands of dead in Darfur, rape, murder and torture of innocent civilians in Iraq - no hysteria in the tabloids. See a pattern anyone? Boris deserves his kicking, but many of the same people newspapers who are now vilifying Boris were in the favour of the war in the first place. Hypocrisy? You bet ya!

October 12, 2004

Pensions: Don't Get Old!


I've come up with a new and unique way to solve the problem of the £57bn black hole in the UK pensions fund - don't get old! I'm forming a new political movement called "Live Hard, Die Young", which aims to recruit the young into crack houses, brothels, coke dens and dangerous sporting activity. Let's have some fun and die young rather than in poverty and the smell of our own piss. Ok I can't fool you lot - it's a cunning plan to kill off my generation and have the state pension all to myself. Muahahahaha! Better still perhaps a government (any, I really don't care) could actually address the issue at hand and come up with some solid policies. There's really only three choices - save more, increase taxes or be poor in old age. Or go with my plan, it's the 4th way!

October 11, 2004

Bush Wore a Wire


George Bush wore a wire during the first TV debate between the Presidential election candidates according to a number of Internet conspiracy theorists. Cannonfire notes that a strange bulge could be clearly seen on George Bush's back in both still pictures and video taken during the Miami debate - could this have been a two-way radio device? Bush could easily have been using an inner ear radio micro speaker and have been taking prompts from, say, his special advisor Carl Rove. At one point during the debate a clearly irritated Bush blurted out "let me finish" although nobody interrupted him - could he have been speaking to Rove? The Republicans have blamed a bad tailor but I think it's much more than that - there's too much evidence to brush this off as simply the work of Internet conspiracy nuts. Let's face it - Bush was getting instructions and prompts from a source. While there's nothing illegal in doing this, it is clearly against the spirit of fair debate.

October 08, 2004

Bigley Reported Dead


So Ken Bigley, the British hostage captured in Iraq, has been reported as killed by his captors Tahwid and Jihad. Although unconfirmed, it seems to have brought to an end three weeks of captivity, in which his fate has been played out in the media and his family's obvious desperation exploited for column inches, political gain and publicity. In the end Bigley becomes yet another statistic in this bloody, sorry war. Bigley's death, if confirmed, along with 1,000 US and 66 British soldiers and over 13,000 Iraqi civilians (Iraq Body Count) were all so unnecessary. His murderers will be portrayed has evil terrorists and the reason we went to war in the first place but that's just another distraction. I couldn't begin to understand the mentality of someone who's willing to behead, gruesomely, a hostage for publicity's sake - but then again I can't understand what it must be like to have your wedding bombed by US planes and have 12 of your family blown to pieces for no good reason. Tony Blair and George Bush have a lot of blood on their hands. How many barrels of oil is a human life worth Tony?

October 06, 2004

ISG Say No WMDs


That was a surprise - the official and final Iraq Survey Group report into Saddam's Weapons of Mass Destruction says ... he had none! This is exactly what those of us against the war have been saying for two bloody years. No chemical weapons, no biological weapons, no nuclear weapons. Not even the capability to produce them. In fact almost ever single piece of 'evidence' presented to the UN before Parliament and the UN has turned out to be what we knew it was - a big, fat, whopping lie.

What Saddam did have though, apparently, was the 'mind' to produce WMDs should UN sanctions ever be lifted. So that's what the war was about all along - Saddam's thought crime. Here was me thinking it was all about oil. My apologies Tony. Although I suspect it went something like this:

US interrogator: "Saddam did you want to produce WMDs?"
Saddam: "No"
US interrogator: Wack
Saddam: "Yes, yes I wanted them"
US interrogator: "Case closed"

Having had his reason for going to war obliterated you would have though Tony would be apologetic too. Absolutely not - in fact he's been as obstinate and sanctimonious as ever, claiming Saddam's thought crime was justification enough. Tony says sanctions weren't working but that's exactly what they were doing. If Saddam really did desperately want WMDs sanctions, yet had none, what do you think was stopping him, good manners?.

Yet, Tony's ever changing isn't he:

April 2003 - "Sanctions are working"
Sept. 2003 - "We're 45 mins from certain doom"
Dec. 2003 - "Saddam can stay if he destroys his WMDs, we're not after regime change"
April 2004 - "Regime change has justified the war"
Oct. 2004 - "Saddam thought bad things, he's an eeeevil man"

Unless we get rid of this pompous bastard and his dog trainer George Bush we can expect Iran, Syria and anyone else who's got oil and is slightly brown to be next on the hitlist. Evidence won't matter. This IS about regime change.

October 05, 2004

Vote for Change

It's nothing new for celebrities to back one party or another in an American election race. Hey, even Tony Blair tried it. Remember cool Britannia? Yet, Vote for Change seems to be something different. It's a rock n' roll tour and political message all rolled into one. Among the leading celebrities taking part are and Michael Stipe, who's always had a political message, and Bruce Springsteen who I don't ever remember being involved in politics. It just shows how deep the river of anti-Bush feeling runs in American right now. Vote for Change not only advocates a change of political direction, but aims to increase the pathetically low turnout in Us presidential elections. Can a nation be truly democratic if less than 50% of the electorate bother to vote? Let's hope VfC succeeds - after all it's probably the best work Spingsteen has done in a decade!

October 04, 2004

Tories Get "Honest"

Apparently the Tories think that proclaiming their honesty over and over again will win them the next election - yeah right. Almost every single one of the electorate who deserted them remembers the sleaze, the lies, the backhanders and the broken promises. Still, confident as ever they opened their conference in Bournemouth this week with a promise to be accountable by detaining all policies with definite timelines. The problem is this... the Tories can't be softly, softly and touchy-feely when they're promoting the most right wing policies that I can ever remember a mainstream political party having in their manifesto. Here's hoping they're wiped out at the next election.

October 03, 2004

Kilroy-Silk: Very Scary

There's something very scary about Robert Kilroy-Silk, the former Labour MP who is now the most prominent mouthpiece for UKIP. Kilroy is a pretty old fashioned racist, who dresses up his xenophobia in a very modern way. Much in the way that Jean-Marie Le Penn has in France, Kilroy is on the verge of taking his extremist party into the mainstream. Furthermore, it seems likely that the Tories, without any kind of strategic leadership at all, will attempt to counter the threat of UKIP by moving to the right themselves. Already Michael Howard has called for a renegotiation of the European Constitution and the Mastrict Treaty, and said that the Tories would implement immigration quotas. All these policies are a direct result of the emergence of UKIP. Kilroy is right that many of the new UKIP voters are not wealthy Tories, but working class traditional Labour voters. Yet, Kilroy is winning these votes not through a positive message, but through fear. His lies mirror those in the tabloid media who have kept up a barrage of quasi-racist nonsense about Europe and Asylum over the past 5 years. However, like all extremists, Kilroy must be fought off with the truth. It's time for Labour to start countering UKIP positively - with the truth about immigration, asylum and Europe.

October 02, 2004

Begg "Tortured and Abused"


An uncensored letter from Moazim Begg has been received by his lawyers in Britain - it is thought that the letter slipped through the censorship process by accident. In the letter Begg, who has been held by the US military for almost three years in Afghanistan and Guantanamo, says that he has been tortured, forced to sign false statements and witnessed the murder of two other inmates. It's just one more piece of confirmation that the US has no interest in treating the inmates humanely or within the confines of international law. We already know that the inmate are assumed to be guilty, can be convicted on hearsay and secondary evidence and have no access to legal representation or communication with their families. Britain, despite claims by the government to the contrary, has been fully compliant with this process. Indeed, British agents have questioned the British inmates as confirmed by some of the four released earlier this year.

October 01, 2004

Bush v Kerry Round 1


Late last night saw John "The Bore" Kerry vs George "The Idiot" Bush in the first Presidential Election debate of 2004. Seconds out, round 1, debate! As one observer put it earlier in the day - it's the political equivalent of a Viagra ad. All faux machismo with little or no substance. Give the American people what the American people want. Kerry had apparently been on a four day training camp to dumb down his style before the debate. To win over the American public he has been told to use shorter words and sentences, and speak in soundbites. Not that it worked, for all his intellect and liberal credentials, in the skin-deep analysis of American politics Kerry does comes across as dull. George Bush was his usual self - inane smiles and buddy jokes with one message: "I'm tough on terrorists". Kerry and Bush traded a few other barbs over Iraq and terrorism. Bush kept asserting that: "we invaded Iraq because the enemy attacked us on 9/11". Oh please - do the American people still believe this lie? Apparently they do because Kerry did little to challenge it. In the end did we learn anything more about the Presidential Candidates? Not a jot. It's with Michael Moore, Rush Limbaugh, Al Franken, Ann Coulter and the like that the real debate in American politics lies - not on set piece telly events.