Daily Archives: 14 February 2008

Foreign Office: anti-corruption causes terrorism

The FCO has always insisted that the Iraq War has in no way lead to an increase in terrorist attacks. To an extent that’s fair enough as life is more complicated than that. So how can they justify insisting on this:

In the documents released to the court, Helen Garlick, assistant director of the Serious Fraud Office, was quoted as recalling what the Foreign Office told her about its fears of another bomb attack in the UK.

“If this caused another 7/7 how could we say that our investigation, which at this stage might or might not result in a successful prosecution was more important?,” the notes quoted her as saying.

Perhaps their new motto should be ignorance is strength?

A kick in the Gorbals

If MPs do vote to committing themselves to declare it whenever they employ family members, surely this would be effectively a vote of no confidence in Michael Martin? After all, this will pre-empt his own longer term inquiry.

It should be remembered that David Maclean’s Freedom from Information Bill, which with the Labour and Conservative front benches’ initial passive assent very nearly became an act last year, came out of proposals by the Speaker Committee. If these proposals had been passed, the fallout from the Conway affair would have been worse by several degrees. Meanwhile, Maclean is part of the review being conducted by Martin – it doesn’t bode well.

As with Prescott, a lot of the criticisms of Michael Martin smacks of snobbery. Regardless of his accent however, he is a part of an establishment that is clinging desperately to the idea of Parliament being an aloof club. In short, he is emblematic of many of the problems we face in politics today.

As an alternative, how about… Ming Campbell?

Meanwhile, under the category of “MPs do love to take the piss sometimes”, here’s a heartwarming tale of a prodigal son being welcomed back into the fold (hat tip: Duncan Borrowman).

David Cameron’s new pledge: “I’m a socialist jihadist conservative”

Cameron’s Conservatives have taken their broad church to new limits this week by recruiting a former RESPECT councillor in Tower Hamlets.

Ahmed Hussain, who is also a Muslim and a member of the Socialist Worker Party was welcomed into the fold by “four jobs” Bob Neill. His defection makes the Conservative Group the official opposition on Tower Hamlets council. Furthermore:

…his move comes as a bitter blow to council leader Denise Jones and Poplar & Canning Town MP Jim Fitzpatrick, both of whom are understood to have written glowing references to London party chief Ken Clark.

This is another chapter in the crazy world of Tower Hamlets politics, but it does seem remarkable for the Conservatives, of all people, to jump into bed with a socialist jihadist quite so merrily. Nor is this simply a little local difficulty. According to Respect Renewal (admittedly not the most impartial of sources), Cameron himself is due to put in an appearance next week.

How long can it be before Cameron is shown shaking hands with the Tories latest defector from the BNP? Does he have a bottom line?

What are tuition fees spent on?

Not sure I quite agree with the front page Guardian headline today: Tuition fees favour the rich – new study.

When you read the detail, it turns out that the Sutton Trust report is somewhat more nuanced than that. It isn’t the tuition fees policy alone that has lead to the current situation of declining participation rates in higher education for people of lower socio-economic backgrounds, it is a range of factors including the government’s failure to promote its own bursary schemes adequately. Nonetheless, it is ironic that the Labour government, which is so fond of using legislation to “send a signal” has done such a fantastic job at signalling to young people that higher education is not for them.

As a Manchester alumnus though, I have to wonder what tuition fees are being spent on. I have no particular axe to grind on behalf of Terry Eagleton, but forcing full time academics into retirement while at the same time paying celebrities £80,000 a year for 28 hours work for the prestige of giving him a professorship does not exactly scream value for money. Why on Earth would I want to respond to their regular begging letters? Couldn’t I just buy one of the fucker’s paperbacks?